I don’t really know what Bruce Cockburn meant when he wrote that song, but I do know that I too have a tendency to let my mind wander and simply drift into a different world, one better perhaps than the one in front of me.  I don’t even have a reason to escape, because quite frankly, all things considered, I’m one whose life has been blessed in many ways.  Yet escape I do.  I may have no particular interest in where a certain lion may be, but I will wonder about many things and how they might have been different.

What if my sister, as a gifted and beautiful young woman in her late teens, didn’t become ill and fulfilled the potential (or even half of it) that lay ahead of her?  I can’t help but wonder how different her life might look today.  Or, what if my brother, who in his last year of junior hockey was an Eastern Conference all-star center (with the next center below him that year eventually  going on to gain notoriety wearing number ‘99’) hadn’t also become ill, losing all hope and interest of ever pursing the promise that was ahead of him?   Why did I become the only one amongst my siblings who didn’t develop Schizophrenia?   The answer to that one is actually pretty simple, given that it’s an illness often affecting those with a high degree of intelligence.  It’s been suggested to me that I escaped simply as a result of being the dummy of the family.  With respect to my brother and sister, I don’t say this to diminish the value of the life they both have, quite the contrary actually.  They’ve shown more courage, faith and acceptance than pretty well anybody I know. But the fact of the matter is, it’s been difficult for them and it’s easy to wish it didn’t have to be that way.

I think that’s what draws me towards the field of work in which I’m involved.  As a financial advisor working with those whose lives have been altered by disability, I’m surrounded by families who often face a harsh reality.  I’m also witness to inspiring and incredible acts of love and kindness which are a direct result of the circumstances they face.   I wouldn’t trade that for anything.

As much as my family experience relates more so to mental health, I also work with families having issues ranging from autism, downs syndrome, spinal cord injury, to other physical and developmental disabilities.  With it can come an immense amount of emotional turbulence, fear and uncertainty (especially parents wondering what the future might hold), which is entirely understandable.  Included in the midst of such trials, there are many who also wonder what things might be like had life turned out just a little bit differently.  I can journey with those as they work through it and it’s an honour to do so, but it’s also gratifying to provide some hope by addressing and erasing some of financial uncertainty that weighs on parents thinking about their child’s future.  It’s much more achievable than most think and it’s extremely important that those who aren’t aware, find out.  That’s my role!

This is the initial blog I’ll be posting, with those to follow all touching on elements of financial planning strategies pertaining to families who do have a loved one living with a disability.   As much as the information will be valuable (it really is a challenging landscape to navigate), I’ll try my best to present it in a manner that’s light hearted and personal – yet impactful!     I will often reference my website (www.homeoftherdsp.ca) which I hope you’ll find to be a valuable resource.

I look forward to the journey and hope you’ll find it of interest.   By all means, if you have friends or family who would benefit from this knowledge, please direct them to my website and they can get in touch if they have any questions.

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