Sunday, February 28, 2016

“Gratitude for a Life Transformed,” by Louela Manankil-Rankin


I wracked my brain this week trying to think of some object to bring and some story to write for show and tell at Brian’s writing class. My problem is I can never say “no” and I found myself stressing over the completion of this assignment. I always feel this way whenever I engage my neurotic self into the process of creation. I am somewhat obsessive-compulsive with a flare of perfectionistic tendencies. This is not a formally diagnosed mental health issue but after observing my life over many decades, I have come to understand what makes me intense.

I finally sat at the computer and began to produce something that could be perceived as coherent. I was not aiming for logical and creative. I was attempting to design something simple but perhaps “on the other side of complex,” a phrase used by my boss. Already I was sounding incoherent; so I decided to return to the stories of my life and what pulled me into living differently this week, something from my inner world as opposed to what was out there amidst the clutter of my life. I would bring gratitude for a life transformed because of Shazia’s story “The Sand Timer” (posted on Quick Brown Fox here.)

Last week, as I sat and listened to Shazia read her story, I felt transported to a place to ponder my existence. The movement of the clothes in her closet as she ran her hands through them made me feel the presence of a life celebrated. How often have I looked at my own closet only to wonder what to wear to work the next day? 

This week, I ran my hands through my clothes and felt my own spirit and the experiences I had when I wore them. My clothes took me to memories of weddings, funerals, and graduations, and I am grateful for this experience.

Like Shazia, I, too, have a box of miscellaneous stuff that needs to be cleared out. But now I was not focused on the trinkets or the children’s’ old possessions – their first drawings, their certificates. The baggage that drew me were those issues that lay deep within myself. A suitcase full of things I wish I could change.

I continue to struggle and yearn for conversion but modifying one’s beliefs takes a great deal of muscle, energy that I find difficult to engage. I pulled a prayer from memory that sustained me over the years. It’s been the anchor that’s grounded me,  my compass that’s provided direction to keep going and forgive my weaknesses. It was my sand timer:

Fast from discontent and feast on gratitude; fast from anger and feast on patience; fast from bitterness and feast on forgiveness; fast from self-concern and feast on compassion.

Finally, Shazia talked about her will to control how her life would be spent and how it could be used to help others. The story she wrote became a trigger to my own awakening. It was a reminder to continue my work towards a better version of myself. Her words, fortified with bravery and courage, became a stronghold against my fears. It was when I felt this that I knew I wanted to bring gratitude to my show and tell.

Louela Manankil-Rankin is an academic nurse educator for Nipissing University Scholar Practitioner Program. She joined Brian’s classes in September to quench her thirst for creative writing. She started out with a class on “Memoirs” followed by her current course, “Welcome to Creative Writing”. Louela believes that writing is a way for our spirit to speak; for words reveal to us what we most need to understand. Louela lives with her husband in Oakville, Ontario.

Note: Brian will be starting a new introductory creative writing class this spring. See the details of all siz classes starting soon here. And see Brian's full schedule here, including writing workshops and creative writing courses in Algonquin Park, Alton, Barrie, Bracebridge, Brampton, Burlington, Caledon, Collingwood, Georgetown, Guelph, Hamilton, Ingersoll, Kingston, Kitchener, London, Midland, Mississauga, Newmarket, Orillia, Oakville, Ottawa, Peterborough, St. Catharines, St. John, NB, Sudbury, Thessalon, Toronto, Windsor, Halton, Ingersoll, Kitchener-Waterloo, Muskoka, Peel, Simcoe, York, the GTA, Ontario and beyond.

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