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Writer-s-Bloc

Don't rake in the pain

By Cheryl Witter 

I love fall. Warm sweaters, delicious apples, the popular pumpkin-spiced latte — and leaves. Lots of leaves.

Raking becomes a part of everyone's weekend to-do list. It can be quite enjoyable, but it also can be tireless work involving repetitive movements of bending,reaching,twisting and lifting.

All these movements done for long periods of time can cause soreness and even injury. Especially to the mid/low back and elbows.So don't be embarrassed about waking up Monday morning sore after a marathon-raking weekend.

Physiotherapists get it. We see it every fall. So to prevent your raking adventure from becoming a burden, here are some helpful tips: 

  • Change your heavy old rake for an updated ergonomic rake. These are lighter. And come with a padded handle and a bent shaft. Much friendlier on your body. 
  • Hold the rake close to your body and keep one hand near the top.This gives better leverage. 
  • Keep your back straight and your elbows slightly bent. Avoid gripping the rake too tightly.Your elbow muscles and tendons do not like this at all. 
  • Face the pile and rake the leaves toward your body in a front-to-back motion.The tendency is to plant the feet in a fixed position and to rake in several different directions from that position. Instead place one foot ahead of the other.This allows you to shift forward and backward easily as you rake.Your low back will be happier. 
  • Don't reach or twist to get those last few leaves
  • Alternate hand and leg positions every so often so to lessen repetitive strain on one side of the body. 
  • Bend from the hips and knees,not your back when picking up leaves or bagged leaves. 
  • If you have to stoop,face the pile of leaves and don't twist as you lift.  
  • When lifting the bag of leaves, tense your stomach muscles to give your low back more support. And remember to keep the bag close to your body Lifting and low back injuries often occur when the spine is bent forward 30 degrees with a heavy load being carried (bag of leaves). So back straight. 

Raking can be a perfect storm for injuries. For days on end, there is twisting, reaching, lifting and gripping. ,activities we don't do regularly.

So warm up, pace yourself ,take breaks (pumpkin spiced latte or pumpkin flavoured beer) and adopt good techniques for raking by using these tips.

Don't rush the job.That's where improper technique shows up. And that could mean a very sore back on Monday. Enjoy your raking.

Soon you will be shovelling.

Cheryl Witter is a physiotherapist at North End Spine and Sports.



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Do you feel understood?

By Kate Dalton

Is there anything more gratifying than feeling understood by a fellow human?

On the contrary, is there anything worse than feeling that you are completely alone in your thoughts or experiences?

I have long been of the belief that we do others and ourselves a great disservice when we fail to share the truth of “how we are" — how we are feeling and the highs and lows we encounter throughout life. 

Certainly, there is a time and a place for sharing, and not all people are the safe or appropriate sounding board for you to discuss your innermost thoughts.

However, when you do find yourself with people who are worthy of your trust, it can be incredibly beneficial and a big sigh of relief for your mind, emotion, and even body when you tell others what is really going on with you.

Nobody has a life that mimics a shiny Instagram feed every day, but we sometimes get that impression. We may think we are the only one in our group of friends, family, or colleagues who is going through a rough time.

It seems like everyone else has the perfect relationship, the perfect job, the perfect home, or the perfect baby.

But often, when we get beyond superficial interactions and to the heart of the everyday experiences of others, we realize we are not alone. We are not the odd one out.

But to come to that realization, we need people to open up to us and likewise to share our authentic selves with others.

When we pour ourselves out to someone else and are not met with empathy or understanding, it’s an awful feeling. It may cause us to wish we had never spoken up in the first place.

It confirms in our minds that “nobody gets us” and that if only people could walk in our shoes, they could see eye to eye with us.

When we encounter empathy, defined as “the ability to understand and share the feelings of another," it can be life changing.

When we speak to someone and realize we are not alone, that we are not isolated in our feelings and experiences and that another person shares our perspective, it is one of life’s greatest comforts.

I am incredibly blessed to have a close circle of friends I can trust with my thoughts and feelings; whether I feel like I have it together that day or I feel as if my life is falling apart. They listen to me without judgment, without criticism, and without trying to solve everything on the spot.

Furthermore, they point out the good qualities they see in me, they encourage me, they share stories of their similar experiences, they offer ongoing support (and sometimes chocolate which also helps).

So let’s be honest.

When we’re not OK. When we’re not having a good day. When that encounter really did hurt us.  When we don’t feel confident. When we don’t feel healthy. When we are scared and vulnerable and unsure. When we need help. When we wonder if anyone else understands.

Simply put, you will never feel known if you don’t let people know. 

Kate Dalton believes in the power of investing in people. With a varied background in marketing and communications, Kate has a growth mindset that drives her to continually pursue personal and professional development, hoping to encourage others along the way. Email: [email protected].



Lemon or lemonade?

By Peter Enns

The Stats Canada number can be discouraging: 13.7 per cent of Canadians have a physical or mental disability that interferes with their daily activities.

However, the expression says, “When life gives you lemons, make lemonade.” I would like to honour one Kelowna resident who made lemonade out of his lemons.

His name is Mike Haines and he has cerebral palsy. His speech is hard to understand and he is confined to a wheelchair.

However, he is one friendly, happy dude. He likes to go to the mall and strike up conversations with strangers. He told me he likes himself.

When he moved to Kelowna with his parents in 1981, he decided he was not going to be dependent upon government handouts. So, after the Lions Club gave him a three-wheel bike, he decided to start a courier business.

He began delivering documents from one downtown business to another for $3/envelope. He was downtown 8-10 hours a day, 7 days a week.

One day, a stereo shop asked if he would put their advertising sign on his bike. He began charging $30 a month to advertise on his bike.

After his bike wore out, he got an electric scooter. This allowed him to have more signs. At any one time, he had 35-40 signs making money for him.

Mike and his signs were a fixture in downtown Kelowna for 25 years. (As a point of interest, one of his YouTube videos can be found by going to bit.ly/KelownaFixture.)

One of Mike’s passions is getting the public to treat people with disabilities better. He has given a number of talks to various restaurant staff, teaching them how to treat customers with disabilities.

One restaurant manager said that Mike brought some of the staff members to tears.

A year or two ago, he began creating an ebook about how to treat customers with disabilities. Earlier this year, he teamed up with a writer and a nurse to finish the ebook. It took  three months, but it was worth it.

The book, How to Serve Customers with Disabilities, is an amazing teaching manual that some local businesses are beginning to buy.

Today Mike is still an entrepreneur. This time, he is selling his ebook.

To see a three-minute YouTube video of Mike’s entrepreneurial history, go to https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZK591TqnNUg





A new measure of success

From success to significance: Why giving back is the new measuring stick of success

By Jody Pihl 

A growing number of successful individuals feel that giving back to society is an important part of their lives and their legacies.

According to a U.S. study, more than half of America’s “one per cent” deemed giving back an "essential" component to a life well lived. 

This suggests that the wealthy are not only driven by a desire to succeed, but also recognizing that what makes their lives most fulfilling is not wealth, but what purpose and positive social impact they can do with it. 

There is a growing acceptance that a bigger home, more money in the bank or a more expensive car is not correlated with more happiness. 

There is a growing recognition that giving back benefits the donor (and his family) in unexpected ways, by offering authentic and meaningful payoffs that traditional displays of wealth can’t offer.

Philanthropy and the impact that follows also afford successful retirees starting the next phase of life new and deeply meaningful purpose. This shift from building wealth to “changing the world” has been coined, “moving from success to significance."

This offer donors a new challenge, renewed purpose and the opportunity to make use of their valuable skills and connections. However, perhaps most profound is the unique opportunity it affords to leave an ongoing legacy long after they are gone. 

Many of us have heard about the “death bed test” – where you imagine facing the end of your life in a hospital bed, reviewing your life and reflecting on the big questions. 

The idea is that in that moment you ask yourself what you are really glad you did during your life and what you regret not doing — including your relationships, how you spent your time and how you contributed to the world. 

This idea is to use the answers to these questions as a guide and filter for decision making today, when faced with a choice in your life.

This popular test is used all the time by many people. But few people are aware of the new “beach chair test."  The idea is this: consider a retired executive sitting on the beach at a resort, striking up a conversation with a similarly positioned guest in the chair beside her. 

What isn’t apparent is that both are a little restless and directionless, having slowed down their pace of life and lacking the influence, relevance and purpose they held in the past. 

They both amassed significant wealth, but they are now questioning whether they will really leave a lasting impact on the world. They are wise enough to know that buying more stuff won’t contribute to their legacy or bring them any more happiness. 

They are tired of talking about their past accomplishments as their past contributions fade in significance as business and industries grow and change under new leadership.

What if this woman were able to share something new with her neighbour: her passion for the environment and our oceans and the success she has had raising funds to fight the battle against plastics.  

Better yet, what if the second woman then responded by sharing her passion for helping developing countries educate their young girls and details about her family foundation that allows her, her kids and grandkids to work together now, and after she is gone, to continue to drive change.

This scenario presents the opportunity for these women to use their lifetime of skills to create change they are passionate about, to leave a legacy of positive impact, and creating joy and purpose for themselves.

This is what it means to move from success to significance.

In my practice as an estate lawyer, I see additional benefits of philanthropy, including confronting client concerns about the next generation inheriting significant wealth and fears that this will feed a sense of entitlement in their children and grandchildren. 

Many of my clients share some type of concern about instilling in their families gratitude for their family’s opportunities and good fortune and the importance of giving back to those less privileged.

Family based philanthropy, where the family works together in their efforts to give back, not only curbs this sense of entitlement, but offers families an opportunity to build a positive and healthy family culture of gratitude and social responsibility.

I can speak from experience about the meaningful opportunities that come with philanthropy centred family travel. My family’s experience travelling to Kenya to meet the students, families and communities impacted by our donations was life changing for all of us. 

For most families, this type of experience plants the seeds of a life time of contribution by next generations to help build a better world and also promises families the building of strong family connections and healthier and happier families.

I’m no longer surprised when I hear clients almost sheepishly confide that their family may have benefited more from their philanthropy than the charities they support. 

If you are inclined to make a charitable donation in your estate plan, it is always smart to discuss your intentions with your trusted advisers. 

Ask your financial adviser to assist you to include charitable giving as part of your financial plan. Then work with your estate lawyer to ensure your wishes are fully thought-out and appropriately documented.

Jody Pihl is senior counsel at Pihl Law Corporation and offers clients a full range of legal services in the area of wills and estates. Her relaxed and considerate approach helps her understand each client’s unique circumstance and specific planning needs and helps families navigate the complexities of the probate process. For more information, contact Jody at 250-762-5434, [email protected], or find her online at www.pihl.ca.



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About the Author

Welcome to Writer’s Bloc, an opinion column for guest writers to share their experiences and viewpoints with our readers.

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Opinions expressed in this column are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent those of Castanet. They are not news stories reported by our staff.



The views expressed are strictly those of the author and not necessarily those of Castanet. Castanet does not warrant the contents.

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