Not long after its inception I became an avid Facebook user. Since then I have checked it religiously, enjoying the daily updates from friends near and far. I’ve revelled in their adventures and felt their heartbreak. I’ve enjoyed reconnecting with childhood friends and getting to know family members I hadn’t grown up with. Largely, my interactions and experiences have been positive, entertaining and often up-lifting. I have felt good about my role in this circle of interactions…until now. Last night someone called me on my condescension and it really hit home. You see, I am the type of person who is constantly assessing and trying to improve myself, or more honestly – judging and criticizing myself. So, when I feel good about one aspect of my person it’s a thrill. To be specific, I love vocabulary. I’m good with words and expressing myself. (My punctuation is a wreck but that’s something I’m working on. ) I enjoy learning about the ins and outs of the English language and I hope to learn 3 new languages in the next decade. It’s something I felt pretty good about…until now. Last night I was confronted on a comment I made on a post and while this person, and then subsequently her family, missed my point entirely and interpreted it somehow as I was disagreeing( in this instance I wasn’t), one of them brought up the point that I use my words as weapons and that I come across as someone who feels superior to others. It was a direct hit to my heart. Simply because I knew she was right. I had allowed my pride in my way-with-words to turn into a way to feel good about myself but sadly at the expense of others. I was judging others on their flaws as a way to feel better about myself. I also realized, in this particular incident, I was using a very passive aggressive method to lash out at someone I am still very angry at over past incidences. Anger I wasn’t even aware that I still carried about issues that were never resolved. Social media is a perfect venue for this type of interaction. You may rant and rave or passive-aggressively take aim at the person you feel has wronged you and then paste a happy face on when you meet in person and act like everything is fine. This is not a healthy way to be and it is definitely not the person I want to become.
My Facebook posts have recently been over-run with political rants and griping about companies. My Twitter, which I use sporadically, became a tool to shame companies I’ve interacted with on poor customer services. I was unleashing negativity by the boatload onto social media and I wasn’t even aware of it…well, not fully. I knew I was doing it but not to the extent that I was. I was allowing my mounting frustrations to spill out in an unhealthy and ugly way. So today I start my cleanse – my social media cleanse. I’m putting down the iPad, clearing my mind of all the negativity, assessing my role in all of it and making changes. I know who I want to be and I know how to get there. I never want to have to face my own words or actions and realize I had caused anyone any self doubt or pain. It isn’t who I am or who I want to become and if going back to simpler times (pre-social media times), is what I need to do than so be it.
The 2014 holiday season is almost behind us and I am constantly hearing people sounding off on what I think is a really silly issue. I am perplexed at all of this outrage over people saying, happy holidays. First off, how full of yourself do you have to be to believe that the holiday you celebrate is the only one being celebrated at any given time of the year. Let’s forget for just a second that the rest of the world isn’t exactly like you, let’s pretend that everyone celebrates Christmas. If that were the case, saying Merry Christmas or happy holidays would both be perfectly fine. The controversy only comes into play because there are other holidays being celebrated at the same time of the year. So basically, when you get all offended because someone said happy holidays you’re offended because not everyone is celebrating the same holiday you celebrate. If someone were to say to me, happy Kwanzaa, I would say thank you. I would return the sentiment or possibly say, Merry Christmas to you. I would not be offended, because what is offensive about wishing someone happiness?
Often comments or complaints are attributed to a specific religion via social media in order to rile people up regarding this issue, yet they always referred to as, a woman/ man somewhere said… There is never any factual proof that these comments or the complaint were actually made. It’s just a vague reference to someone who is of a different religion other than Christian that has complained about the holiday. Often I hear, ” how dare they come to our country and try to change things” which is ridiculous because Canada was built on and thrives due to our multi-culturism. So why should any one religion and its traditions be given a special status? Now, I’m not anti-Christian but I am certainly pro-tolerance and inclusion. Here in Canada we are considered a mosaic which means everyone who lives here is allowed their own individual identity and religion without having to conform to any one norm. We should all be able to celebrate any holiday we like; or not celebrate any holiday at all, and it should be excepted by everyone. If I want to celebrate Hanukkah, Kwanza or Festivus it is my own personal choice and no one else should have the right to weigh in on the matter, object or effect my choice in anyway. And if they do decide to weigh in on the matter it should not be something that makes headlines but merely be the opinion of one/some and that’s all. Even the Christian faith has more than just Christmas to celebrate in December. Here is a small sampling of the holidays that are celebrated in the last month of the year;
Eid al-Fitr (Muslim)
Saint Nicholas Day (Christian)
Fiesta of Our Lady of Guadalupe (Mexican)
St. Lucia Day (Swedish)
Christmas Day (Christian)
Three Kings Day/Epiphany (Christian)
Boxing Day (Australian, Canadian, English, Irish)
Kwanzaa (African American)
So the next time someone wishes you a happy, joyous, blessed or merry-anything, say thank you and feel good that someone cared enough to want to see you happy at the holidays.
Something to remember for 2015.
Recently I had a “discussion” with someone I hold very dear, about politics. Now, we have had many intense, intelligent discussions on various topics over the years and I have really loved those moments. On this one day though, it went awry. The loved one became overly agitated and stormed out. I was devastated; angry and worried. I detest when two people can not agree to disagree and respect one another for it. This was so out of character for this person ( who later came back and explained they were just having a terrible day and loves our debates) ,that it really threw me for a loop and I posted a status on Facebook- minus details- and was told not once but twice, that politics are best left out of polite conversation. What?! I have a very strong reaction to that sentiment. I get, some people shy away from confrontation and will actively avoid situations where they might become involved in one but if ever there was a topic that we should all be passionate about it is the governing of our country. We need to be talking about these things! By all means voice your opinion on whether Kim Kardashian should be plastering her baby oil covered posterior all over the internet. (Ew!) By all means tell us how upset you are that Honey boo- boo has been cancelled. Life is too stressful not to have an outlet that is simply guilty-pleasure all the way. I’m not judging anyone on that. If you check my browser history you will see that TMZ is one of my favourite time wasters. All I’m saying is that there needs to be balance. You need to be informed on the important topics as well. Yes politics can seem overwhelming. Yes, it can seem like too much to comprehend at times but it is only when we all give up and just assume that the powers-that-be are doing the job correctly and that they have our best interests at heart, that we have lost everything.
When I have made raised the idea of corruption in our government I have heard the term “conspiracy theory” brought up in a derisive tone. Why? Why would anyone dismiss the idea that a politician or political party may not hold the most virtuous ideals? Why would anyone doubt there could ever be ulterior motives behind a leader’s actions. They are people too. We all can agree there are good people and bad people in this world- to put it in the most simplistic terms. Why then, are some so hesitant to believe that our government may not be what it seems? Why are some so reluctant to discuss the possibility? Why are so many content to just bury their heads in the sand and refuse to believe anything but what the media spoon feeds us in the daily headlines? Why, because we as a society have become lazy. I once read an article about a study that determined the vast majority of people now only read the headline and the first paragraph of an article. Beyond that they skim, looking for words that jump out at them. How often have you ever read an article because of the headline and realized the headline was completely misleading? It happens all the time. The headline is catchy and sensational even when the story isn’t. There is no impartial media anymore, there are only money-making headlines. Far too often these money-makers have no truth or skewed truth in them. Stories are manipulated to catch your interest and keep you watching in order to bring in the advertising money or in the darkest of examples, to feed the agendas of the powers-that-be behind the scenes.
It may all seem like too much for us to fight, so better to just ignore it, but that is exactly what we shouldn’t do. We need to challenge what we are being told. We need to question everything. We need to discuss the important topics and to speak our minds. We need to encourage our children not to be sheep but to be active participants in their own destiny.
Not everyone needs to be an activist but everyone needs to have an intelligent and informed opinion. Everyone needs to speak up and not just blindly follow. Screw polite! Let’s talk about the issues!
Life got busy so blogging got left behind. It wasn’t alone though, I don’t remember the last time I read a book. All of my little guilty pleasures have fallen by the wayside lately.
However, I needed to get this out. I have taken moments to vent on Facebook but this is the first time I’ve really sat down to vent on my blog. Why now? Because I am scared. Scared for my family, myself and my country. I have been watching everything that I have held dear; everything that we, as a nation, have held up as our ideals for so long being stripped away. I am a fiercely proud Canadian but I see my beloved country being changed without any input from those that live here at all. In fact there has been complete disdain and disregard for what the people of Canada want. We stand by helplessly as everything that made our country great is destroyed; our role as peacekeepers and environmentalists, our healthcare and education systems, our environment, our economy and our very role on the world stage. No votes are taken, no answers given, no care for what we as citizens want. Back door deals have been made, aggressive action taken with our military, and lie after lie told to us about it all. Worse yet, when our Prime Minister or MP’s are confronted and questioned we are met with arrogant refusal to even acknowledge the questions , much-less give answers. Propaganda abounds in the media and sadly I see people believing it. Like a magician using distraction to fool unwitting audience members, we are shown imagery and told sensationalistic stories in order to draw our attention away from the truth of what our government is doing. As Canadians we have stood by for far too long, impassive and alarmingly apathetic. Happy to believe the status quo will be kept and issues that the rest of the world face such as corruption and the loss of human rights, will not affect us. Like sheep, we follow the herd; completely unaware that it’s the wolves leading us around, preparing us for slaughter.
Aboriginal women are being murdered at an alarming rate and our Prime Minister feels it isn’t a national issue. Our pensions, which people have paid into their entire lives will soon be non-existent. Our health-care is being forced into privatization. Our rights to privacy are being stripped away. Our post-secondary education becoming something only the wealthy can afford. Tax cuts for the rich and the elimination of the middle-classes. The destruction of our environment and the muzzling of our environmental scientists. These and many more issues are what our country face under the current PM.
The scariest part is that by the time we are able to do anything about it (if Canadians manage to wake-up and see clearly), it may very well be too late. Irrevocable damage will already be done. Our once great yet humble country, ravaged beyond repair.
I am afraid. It has even over-ruled my anger at the situation. I am afraid.
Image by http://comicfiend1000.deviantart.com/
Entertainers, good ones, draw you in and make you feel a connection to them. You may feel angry at a character they play or terrified by them in an all too believable role as a villain. They may touch your heart through a moving and emotional scene or raise your spirits with humour at your lowest times. This connection is usually deeper when you can relate to the actor/entertainer or his character on some level. Today, a master at reaching out to his audience through the screen, left us. Today Robin Williams took his own life and the shock I feel is overwhelming. His often manic humour reached me because I understood the desperate need for love and happiness. The golden chalice he always seemed to be chasing but never seemed to really reach. He was able to touch my heart with his truly tender nature in movies like Patch Adams, What Dreams May Come, Good Morning Vietnam and even the goofy, Mrs. Doubtfire. The moments of raw vulnerability always reminded me that the person laughing the hardest can often be the person hurting the deepest. Today the world learned that behind the crazy, non- stop humour was a truly tortured soul. I always felt it there, running only slightly below the surface. I felt it and I understood it. I related to the desperate need for love and acceptance and the terrible belief of never being quite good enough, never really being loved because of the simple fact of not being worthy of love- unloveable. I saw this in Robin Williams, I felt it in my heart. I knew he struggled with addiction and I knew this was probably a symptom of depression. I am no expert but like can often recognize like.
The hardest part for me today is realizing that all that comforts in the world, all the money and adoration were no match for that vicious bitch, depression. Millions loved him, millions enjoyed him, but it wasn’t enough. What is enough? I had hoped he had conquered his demons. I had hoped that he had finally recognized that he was worthy of love and admiration. With the whole world telling him he was wonderful how could Robin Williams not feel like he could accomplish anything? The reality that came crashing down today is that he couldn’t face even one more day. Couldn’t see how loved he was by so many, couldn’t bask in all of the beauty in his life. I had hoped he had broken free, was one of the lucky ones to escape the terrible mental prison but it’s shackles held him like indestructible chains. If scientists ever figure out how to intentionally plunge someone into the throes of depression there will be no need for concrete penitentiaries, the criminals can all be locked away in their own private, inescapable hell.
It devastates me to realize that this battle continued for Robin Williams, through so much professional and financial success, money truly couldn’t buy him happiness. At 63 years old he finally gave up the fight. The idea of fighting that long exhausts my soul. The thought of struggling for that long… it’s too much.
All I can hope is that he has finally found peace.
That’s when I realized I’m part of the problem. Not because I remind you. But because I couldn’t join you. So I left you alone. Don’t give up, okay? -Robin Williams as Chris Nielsen in What Dreams May Come
Raising kids is such a daunting task at times. You want to do what’s right and to raise good, strong, moral future adults. There are so many books, magazines, online articles and fellow parents giving advice that it can get quite confusing. That is why I never listened to any of it. For me, raising my kids was something I did on instinct. A trial and error at times but for the most part I just went with what I felt was right. I encouraged their creativity and individualism and taught them to build their own moral compass and follow it down a path that felt right. There have been times that they have followed some upsetting and hurtful routes but in the end their moral compasses led them back home. All of us a little battered and bruised emotionally but wiser for the experience.
Tonight was one of those times where I felt immensely proud of my sons and their strong minds. I read aloud an article about a protestor who was arrested at a funeral for a police officer. He was protesting the formal march and funeral procession on the grounds that no other public servant receives such an elaborate farewell and he felt it was unnecessary and a burden to taxpayers. In order to get an un influenced opinion from my youngest I read it and asked his opinion without revealing my own. Without missing a beat he emphatically expressed his opinion, clearly stating the reasons for them.
This then gave me the opportunity to open him up to seeing the opposing side of the argument, which I did even though I agreed with his take on it. I did this in order to help him form his own opinion without the need to pass judgement of the other side. I wanted him to stand by his convictions while allowing himself to at least see the other perspective even if he couldn’t agree with it, which he did. I couldn’t have been more proud, hearing my son challenge the views presented in the media and to be able to so eloquently and emphatically present his opinion on the matter. Then to have him open his mind to the opposing side of the argument and to understand where the other mindset was coming from, even though he still did not agree, was exhilarating! Knowing he could carry on a passionate conversation without the need to tear down the person with opposing views is crucial to his growth as a person.
For me, I feel hope for the future each time I have a conversation like this with one of my kids. If we teach them to be active participants in their own lives and not mindless sheep then they can continue to grow, evolve and live lives with meaning.
So, 40 happened.
I have never really had issue with aging. In fact I have always felt pretty good about having had my kids while young and having been able to do so much with them while I had all that energy. I barely feel like I’ve aged since high school anyway.
Then came 40.
It didn’t bother me at first but everyone made such a big deal about it I started to wonder if it should. Should I be questioning my life choices? Should I be regretting things I hadn’t done and may never get around to now? Should I start being concerned about imminent health issues that have yet to manifest but apparently lurk around the corner waiting to pounce on newly minted 40 year olds? Should I be taking this more seriously?
For a few days right before the “event” I actually allowed myself a moment or twenty of self doubt and mild panic. No hyperventilating but slight heart palpitations at the thought that I may have squandered my youth. I questioned why I hadn’t traveled more, taken more college courses and learned another language. Is it too late? Can a 40 year old brain learn Italian? Can a 40 year old body train for a first marathon? Should I have gone to St. Lucia pre-childbirth and during prime bikini years? Should I have gotten a law degree and then had children, allowing me to return to a carreer as opposed to starting from scratch?
Pop? Nope. Fizzle? Nope. End of life as I’d known it? Uh, no.
It came in like any other year and left behind a mildly anti-climatic feel. I didn’t wake up to a head full of greys, not that I would see them under all the hair dye. I didn’t get hit by a one – two punch of instant crows feet and wrinkles when I looked in the mirror. No arthritis, back ache, gout or onset dementia. My passport wasn’t revoked, my drivers licence is still valid and Rosetta Stone will happily take my money for Italian, German, French or Mandarin lessons. Top that off with reading a delightful article on how many students currently in law school, college and university are 30, 40 or even, (Heaven Forbid!) 50 years of age and it was pretty much a bust as an Armageddon birthday.
What I did ponder today was, what do I want to do with this next chapter in my life. Do I want to go to school? Change careers? Sky dive? Visit Indonesia? Carry on with the happy little life I’m leading? Mend fences or let go? Should I maintain the status quo or shake things up a bit?
Essentially, I concluded that instead of worrying about what I hadn’t done with my life I could be excited about all the things ahead of me and what I was going to do with the rest of my life.
So, 40 happened.
Apparently it hasn’t been to the gym much because it sure didn’t pack much of a punch.