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How to live like the experts: Feeding your soul with Wes Roberts

Wes Roberts
Written by Monica Matys

Ever wonder if your doctor or specialist follows their own advice? Sunnybrook experts get candid with the approaches they take in their personal lives.

Wes Roberts has been a spiritual care practitioner in Sunnybrook’s Veterans Centre for almost two decades.

Where does your spirituality stem from?

I was born and raised in a religious family, so faith and spirituality have always been a part of my life. I was fortunate to see people who modelled and lived out their faith in front of me, but there came a time where I had to live it for myself and not live on the faith of my parents and grandparents.

You provide comfort for others. Is that a learned skill?

Comforting people is part of my nature but I fought my sensitivity for a long time. I was insecure and rejected it because I didn’t understand it. It took a crisis in my life to appreciate who I really am as a person. It was through struggle and searching that I came to embrace the qualities I have.

How different is it working at a hospital in your line of work?

A health-care professional may use certain instruments to help care for a patient. I don’t have surgical tools but I’ve learned that I can extend comfort to people who are struggling and in need of support by listening to the emotions that are being expressed and helping someone live in the moment.

It must be hard trying to guide people through uncertain times.

I find uncertainty can be expressed in the deeper questions someone might ask; especially when a life-altering event occurs, I rarely have the answers. I know I give the best of myself when I am listening deeply, being curious about someone’s story and exploring together with them their own perspectives about what they are expressing.

The benefit of hearing so many stories of many of our residents over the years is they linger with me, and if I let them, they often can help to inspire me whenever I face struggle in my own life.

How do you feed your own soul?

I love watching sports and am a huge Blue Jays and Raptors fan. Being a pro baseball player would have been my fantasy job. Not that I was that good, but it was a dream!

My son played youth baseball, so I took pictures at games and shared those with the families of the other players. Photography became a creative outlet and a healthy distraction. I also enjoy photographing my daughter when she horseback rides. I love photography and took a course a few years ago with Sunnybrook’s Kevin Van Paassen. He got me off using the automatic settings of my camera and onto manual, which has really helped my hobby along. Woodland and nature photography enables me to enjoy the therapeutic environment of these places.

My family is supportive and always there to listen. We try to do a lot of laughing at our house.

I also have a couple of encouragement groups that meet regularly on zoom. One of my mentors once told me there is no such thing as a wasted experience. Years ago, I didn’t fully understand what this means but it’s now become a guiding principle. If I’m in a place to receive, I can personally learn something from every experience. What is yet to be discovered will, with time, reveal itself.

About the author

Monica Matys

Monica Matys is a Communications Advisor at Sunnybrook.

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