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Debbie Ridpath Ohi reads, writes and illustrates for young people. Every few weeks, she shares new art, writing and resources; subscribe below. Browse the archives here.

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Today's Blathering is in memory of my brother Jim and his wife Diane. Jim and Diane died in a highway accident on the way to join friends on a camping trip, eight years ago today.

My own love of the outdoors has deepened over the years, but particularly since my brother's and his wife's deaths. They were both active individuals who enjoyed outdoor activities. My brother had a special affection for Algonquin Park, where my parents took us camping for many years (I went on my first overnight camping trip when I was nine months old!).

No one wants a loved one to be forgotten, nor his/her death. The University of Waterloo established a Jim and Diane Ohi Memorial Fund, and the high school where Diane taught posted a plaque in her name.

One of the main things that Jim and Diane gave me (as did my mother, who died from cancer over ten years ago) is a reminder to embrace life instead of letting it coast by. You never know when it will end, or drastically change. Some people may think of this as being morbid, but this attitude has greatly enriched my life.

I try not to take anything for granted. I'm more willing to take risks and not be so afraid of rocking the boat. If I'm unhappy, I try to do something about it instead of just whining. I try to be proactive and passionate, and not get bogged down in the little stuff. And I've learned that when things get really, really bad, the best thing to do is take things one small step at a time.

A combination of age and life experience has made me far less patient with people who waste their lives, unhappily coast, or don't live passionately.

A challenge to all you out there, in memory of loved ones you or your friends have lost: do something today to remind yourself you're alive. Passionately alive, not just coasting. Maybe this means sticking your head in an ice-cold bucket of water, indulging in a decadent dessert, going white-water rafting, sitting in a nearby park and feeling the sun on your face, screaming on a roller coaster, or going for a jog around the block.

As for me, I think I'll go on an eight-day hiking trip during which I fully expect to experience aches and pains, soul-sapping fatigue, hunger and thirst, bug bites, bruises, frustration, refreshing swims, adrenaline rushes, peace of mind, exhilaration, relaxation, and a heckuva lot of fun with good friends.

Can't wait. :-)

Feel free to suggest a daily poll question.

Today's Poll:

Do you basically consider yourself a happy person?

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