Technological Issues.


cell phone There is a nasty trend out there at the moment. Other transition house societies will agree that it’s been on the rise all over Canada, and our agency has had training in it as well. What is it?

The media calls it cyber bullying, and we have seen on the news the number of youth who have committed suicide because of it. They were threatened online by strangers or people they go to school with. Adults are affected as well, work place cyber assault is on the rise. I wrote about this subject not long ago, but a recent phone call to one of our programs has brought it forth….again.

A person, young or old-‘er’ should be able to converse, take pictures, get on their social media account with out receiving sexually explicit photos, threats, suggestions etc. It’s an amazing tool in the right hands. In the wrong hands it can be detrimental to a person’s mental health and self-confidence. If you are being cyber-stalked please talk to someone, have the local police force take a screen shot and start a file for you, don’t isolate and think you did something to deserve the negative attention! These people are bullies, and there is no difference between them and the big guy on the playground 50 years ago! Take care.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Is it ok yet?


logopr   

Our little city has taken some hard knocks lately, families are grieving, the young people involved and their loved ones are reeling.

Along with the deaths and injuries of the young men involved, there are young girls and women going through cancer treatments and requiring support. Well, there are quite a few residents going through treatments for various illnesses that need comfort, financial support and travel help.

 There are agencies and church groups that can help you get back on your feet if you’re being hurt, if you’re hungry or having difficulties getting through the day.

All of the above are hurtful, harsh and can be difficult to deal with. Stress creeps up on you in different ways, you need to be aware of how you cope with it compared to your friend or neighbor. Some people drink or take drugs, others yield to yoga instead. Some people just drop out or ignore the signs all together, and others cope with stress on a ‘one day at a time’ level. Which is your way? Is it a healthy option? What can you do to change how you deal with hardship? I write (obviously) and read to download my emotions. I listen to comedy on YouTube, and I sit and look at the lake. With all the hard news, we need to be good to ourselves. I hope you find your way soon. If you need a little help with it, please call someone, there are lots of phone numbers throughout this website.

Your Life in the Balance


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(This exercise is taken from page 64 of the ‘helping abused women in shelters, part 2’ workbook. It’s written by Alison Cunningham and Linda Baker, published in 2008).

This kind of exercise graph helps us to focus on the things in our lives that weigh us down versus the things that lift our spirits and make us feel good. See the box below for writing these down. You can make a list for of your own if you want to. I find it helps to put things on paper when I have a decision to make. Even a simple pro’s and con’s list to clear my thinking before making a move.

__________________________________________________________________________________________

Things Pulling Me Down                                              Things Lifting Me Up

 

 

 

How many can you come up with? If you want to share with someone close go ahead, but it can also be something for you alone, especially if you have people’s names or personal information on your list. I don’t think it matters in which order you write things down, but balance is key here. (Psst, that’s why I have scales at the top of the page). If you have 6 things pulling you down, try to come up with 6 things lifting you up. Remember these items don’t have to be monumental, it’s not a complaint sheet or a bragging list. It will be different from your friends, from your sisters and it may even be different from the list you did two weeks ago. Be good to yourself. If you have any questions or concerns send me a message or call someone you trust to talk to. Take care of yourself.

Early Warning Signs


light-bulb-lit-black-47541430      An early warning sign of relationship abuse can change depending on the abuser. Sometimes you know what to look for, sometimes it occurs to you afterwards. In the workbook for victim service workers called ‘helping an abused woman-101 things to KNOW, SAY and DO’ I found a list of signs and decided to share them here.

  • He speaks disrespectfully of his former partner or partners
  • his is disrespectful towards you
  • he does unwanted favours or puts on a show of generosity making you uncomfortable
  • he is controlling and/or possessive
  • nothing is ever his fault
  • he is self-centered
  • he abuses drugs or alcohol
  • he gets serious too quickly about the relationship
  • he intimidates you when he is angry
  • he has negative attitudes towards women
  • he treats you differently around other women.

These may apply to your partner or someone else you know. They may not all be present, but they do give you something to consider!

Keys to a stable (life).


KeysIn my prior career there was a man named Joe* (not his real name). He was fascinated by keys, sets of keys were even better. We surmised that it stemmed from his time spent in an institution and his understanding that ‘he who had the keys had all the power.’ Joe was right.

If you have keys, more than say 2, that means that very likely you have a living space with a bolt; you have a vehicle that you value enough to secure; a friend or family member that trusts you with a ‘spare key’ to their home and perhaps a job somewhere requiring a secure entry. This is a heady combination of responsibility isn’t it?  Every time a set falls to the bottom of a purse, I fret a bit as my security and sense of well-being are attached to the ring. I think I understand what Joe had known for years, the jingling musical sounds, the solidity of brass and nickel, gleaming gold with the jagged edge that fits perfectly.

In the next stage of  your life; if you decided to part from your abusive spouse, you will need to get keys to a new place, a secure place where no one can hurt you. This is where your well being will be attached to your own ring of brass. If you need help finding it, give Sylvia a call at the Stopping the Violence Counselling program; 604-4856965 

Relationship Addiction?


In her book called ‘Smart Love’ Jody Hayes talks about addictive relationships. There are some do it yourself exercises and hints, quotes from former clients and philosophers. The overall message in this book is ‘releasing yourself from the need to be everything to everyone-except yourself’.
It’s not a new book, published way back in 1989, but the issue of women becoming enmeshed with their spouses, children, parents and friends is ongoing. As a support worker I often see the 30-60 year old woman who has ‘given everything to everyone’ and doesn’t understand why she’s empty now.
Relationship Addiction means ‘becoming obsessively involved in the life of another person’ it’s like the other person becomes a drug to you, like an addict to a substance and similarly there is pain with withdrawal. “RA’s are secretly afraid that if they stop controlling others, they will lose everything, but instead by letting go, ” You no longer need to do what you always felt you had to. You have choices.”

Have you ever been sitting with a BFF and all she talks about is her man? HIS opinions, HIS favourite foods, HIS needs. Tiring isn’t it? When this starts to happen, ask her what she thinks about things, remind her that loving detachment means that she can still care about him, but that she needn’t be desperate to help him. This is especially vital if he’s not doing anything to help himself. She has the right to refuse to ‘take on’ his problems, or addictions. You can remind her (or yourself if this fits your relationship) that though it may be hard at first, women who are relationship addicts must find a way to take care of their own needs. Seek counselling, ask yourself honestly, “What’s in this for me?” Listen to the answer carefully.

Women are, for the most part, the caretakers in life. They care for kids, aging parents, spouses, siblings. They are often underpaid, underappreciated and stay in this rut until they run out of steam. They lay down their needs, wants and childish expectations at the altar of ‘love’. If you find that you’re clinging to someone, ask this question. Am I clinging because I’m too scared to let go? I urge you to examine your relationships and if your fingernails are bleeding from hanging on too tightly, call a counsellor. Take care of you.

Excerpts in quotations are taken from Chapter 3. Jody Hayes’ book; Smart Love. Published in 1986 by Tarcher/Putnam

Discussion bits.


cup_of_coffee_188317   One of the things I like to do is converse with people, to find out through gentle probing what their life is like, their history, family connections etc. I don’t know if that’s the writer in me, an occupational hazard, or am I just a busy body? It’s my considered opinion though, that the majority of humankind like to talk about themselves. Whether it’s in a lounge, bar, coffee shop, hairdresser’s chair, or supermarket you can always hear someone using at least one ‘I’ statement.

Lately a lot of the discussions have revolved around the changes in Powell River. They aren’t all to the good either. I love my hometown but there’s a new element here. Some crazy scary drugs are on the street, and as you’ve likely read in the paper, people are dying as a result. I know this isn’t new to P.R. or the rest of the province. I’m not being naïve or judgmental, but you have to know what you’re taking and how much is too much. When I was younger, (oh, there’s that phrase we’ve been waiting for) Powell River had street drugs, but you used to know what you were getting and from whom. It’s not like that anymore. If you’re worried about the  young people in your life, learn about the drugs so you know what to look for.

A friend and I were talking about ‘taking constructive criticism’. It’s something I struggle with, not sure why. It’s not that I think I know everything and don’t need to be ‘told’. It’s a pet peeve when other people get their back up when advice is offered, so where does it come from? If someone is offering to show you a better way of doing things, or helping you with bits of information why would you turn your nose up at it? A sign of insecurity obviously; no one wants to be seen as less than intelligent. Isn’t not taking advice from someone who has learned that particular lesson themselves rather less than intelligent? Anyway, just thought these ramblings of mine should be out of my head and onto the screen. If you have any thoughts, shoot me a message. I’m always up for a discussion.

 

Two Events, One Great Community!


On May 13th, the local Royal LePage Real Estate office staff held the 2nd Annual garage sale to raise money for Powell River & Region Transition House Society. I have included a quote from Neil Frost, Realtor about the results;

“Wow, our garage sale raised $2000.00, plus $1000.00 from the local RBC that makes $3000.00 total. Thanks everyone for everyone who donated time, energy and money!”

That’s great news, and our thanks go to all the staff and realtors who took the time to organize, sort and sell items to raise money for our non-profit agency this year.

The next event is the ‘A Taste of Art’ event on May 27th. We have been chosen to be this year’s recipient of the proceeds from this art show/wine tasting social evening put on by the local Rotary Club. It sounds like a wonderful night! I have included the details on the bottom of the main page and in the Messages tab as well. I will let you know how well that evening went at the end of the month.

A big thank you to the Powell River community for their continual support for local teams, agencies, non-profit group events and each other. We Rock!

Patience and other virtues


120px-Balance_justice    Instead of writing yet another mawkish Mother’s Day post, I have decided to focus on some of the traits I inherited from my own, (mother that is). She is patient, and wise, funny and driven, a caregiver and open-hearted. She has been hurt, stung by sarcasm, and seen some real rough personalities. She has lost many people to illness and death but keeps bouncing back. She has shown toughness and tenderness in the same half hour period, she forgives quickly but she doesn’t always forget! Don’t assume that her silence is agreement; she has learned that you can’t change a person’s mind with arguments. She knows the difference between classy and a fake but treats them the same anyway. There are a few real no-no’s in her mind; hurting her family is #1!

She dresses well, doesn’t leave the house without lipstick and her hair done, (just in case), but she can knock your heads together if you pick on her loved ones. She takes care of herself, even when she doesn’t always feel like it, she’s got a smile that can make you feel like it’s going to be a great day. She has worries about the future but they don’t consume her present. Her tears will temporarily rip at your heart but even in her pain she makes sure you’re doing ok.

This woman is mostly my mother, partly myself, sister and niece. If you have a woman in your life that quietly amazes you, please tell her. If someone tell you that you’re amazing, please believe them.

A big bucket of water


water bucket I was talking to an acquaintance recently and she was bemoaning all the ‘stuff’ happening to her and in the world generally. I empathized with her, but relayed my favourite mental exercise in response. I hope this makes sense to you.

  1. ‘When you’re feeling as though everyone is looking at you, talking about you and passing judgements, imagine the situation as a big bucket of water’. She looked confused at that but I persevered.  ‘Then think about sticking your whole arm in and splashing the water all around, swish it as vigorously as you can. Then take your arm out and while you’re drying it off, take a look into the bucket. ‘What happens?’ She asked. ‘The water goes right back to a state of calm; all the actions, the splashing and swirling is forgotten and it’s just a smooth surface.’ Shaking her head, still not sure about the story, she said. ‘What’s the point?’ I explained that even though it seems like everything is a crisis, mixed up and violent, it will all calm down once there’s no human activity to stir it up. That’s how much impact we make in the world. So anytime you’re feeling like you are the center of attention, or the center of people’s universe and that they are all focused on you, just remember what kind of splash is actually made in the end.’ She nodded. ‘This story is not intended to make us feel small, but to remind us that sometimes, when it seems like a storm is surrounding us, it’s just, as Shakespeare noted, ‘a tempest in a teapot.’

Where are you?


115px-Portable_violet        In this information age we continually claim our rights for more updated and advanced technology. Standing at a bus stop we can check our bank statements, upload the latest from Coldplay, rent a car for the day, get groceries delivered to our homes and the list goes on. I have a picture of a laptop on here, but they are almost passé now aren’t they? Who wants to lug around a laptop when you can fit an IPhone in your back pocket? Technology is amazing, I love it myself but as someone who works in the field of family violence I see how it can be misused.

Colleagues and I have taken technology safety workshops and then taught the information to our staff and clients of a local agency. It’s hard sometimes for women to see the dangers involved in keeping plugged in; their phones could have a GPS signal that gives away their current location, they could take selfies at the transition house that people could use to figure out where they (and other abused women in the house) are. If they’re driving, the ex could install a GPS tracker in their car. There are ways and means of finding someone who should be safe. If you’re interested in finding out more shoot me a message and I can access the info for you. In the meantime-stay safe and unplug yourself from time to time, look up and watch a sunset or a child’s soccer game.

Plastic Peril


credit-cardsDepending on your spending habits, ability to pay debts and attitude towards owing money, the credit card picture above could either scare you, make you anxious a little or render you speechless. It’s hard to believe how much power these little pieces of plastic have over us. I personally think it’s irresponsible of the credit card companies to hand them out like candy to potential diabetics. This is a spending world and credit cards give you the illusion that you can keep up to the Jones’. If the Jones’ are rich, no kids, and own their own house (complete with maid) this may be a step too far for the rest of us peons.

Canada is slowly starting to catch up to the USA in terms of consumer debt; we as humans see commercials for things we want, and don’t think twice about who’s going to pay for it. Interest accrues at anywhere between 13% and 25% on your statements and that means you are essentially giving the companies free money if you let that go for too long. One way to avoid this, (obviously not buying things on credit is the first and most important way, but if you can’t do without that item or service) is to pay the amount as soon as possible. With many of us on-line banking now a days, it’s easy to add the credit card company on to your list of payee’s, along with Hydro, Telus, etc. That way you can keep on top of the payments. Even if you’re just paying off what you spent the day before, you will prevent the interest from accruing. You can also talk to the credit card company and ask them about reducing the interest percentage so it’s easier to pay down. There’s no guarantee they will, but it’s worth a shot. When you are trying to survive on minimum wage or PWD payments each month it’s tempting to charge groceries or a dinner out for you and the kids, and it’s often essential to get your car fixed or the cat fixed for that matter. Living is expensive so it’s no wonder that many of us look to the magic card to help us out. I hope this didn’t come across as preaching, I have been talking to a lot of adults lately who have good paying jobs and they are still in debt to Visa or MasterCard, so I thought I would put it out there. Take care of your money and it will take care of you.

When It All Gets Too Much


There are times when life’s issues become bigger than any hope on the horizon. It could be money issues, relationship breakdown or just becoming overwhelmed with everything. There are counsellors, quite a few of them in Powell River and area, but what if you’re not ready for that step?

There are a lot of online sites that can help you narrow down the issues, and let you know which direction to turn. This Victim Services website has a few links for support and I’ve added the link below as well. Sometimes having the problem narrowed down can direct you to the next step. Do you know the old joke, “how do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time.” It reminds us that by taking large projects or problems in smaller sections they’re easier to deal with. Not quite so imposing then.

https://crisiscentre.bc.ca/programs-services/

Gratitude


What is your definition of gratitude? To me it simply means appreciating what someone has provided for you, thanking them for taking care of your needs. This gratitude could be directed at a stranger who returns a purse you lost, or a parent who takes care of you when your life has hit a snag. The number of possibilities is endless in terms of situations, but there can really only be one response.

‘Thank you’. Two little words that make someone’s day. If someone has supported you in some way, guided you to an answer you needed, say thank you. If someone you’ve lived with for a period of time cooks you dinner when you work late, say thank you. If I do something to make your life better I’m not expecting a gift in return, just an acknowledgement that you noticed. As a member of the human race it makes me feel good, I’m not ashamed of that need. Courtesy is something that most of us learned in our childhoods, some of us have maintained that, others left it behind with their finger paints. I’ve noticed lately that there’s another segment of people. These folks seem to think that the world owes them; a career, our love, respect etc. The list goes on and so do their expectations. I don’t know where that comes from but it’s not a positive trait. Anyway, I’ve made the point I set out to make. If someone does something for you, let them know you appreciate it. Two words, doesn’t take long and it’s free!

Thank you.

Connections


I have included the link to our local newspaper, it’s online version anyway. I started thinking yesterday about all the local stories and connections that it provides. Information about events, rental opportunities, employment links, vehicles for sale etc.

I would have to spend hours updating all that and it’s not my job. My spouse is a firm believer in not re-creating the wheel. If someone has trained to do something why would you not call him and save yourself the time and bother of doing it yourself!?

So, after I cleared the situation with Jason Schreurs, the editor. I added the link to this blog page, and put it in the websites link as well. When I remember how to add it to the front page then you all will be the first to find out!

http://www.prpeak.com/

Kind of unsure actually….


As a white, educated, middle class Canadian you wouldn’t think I had any trouble with self-confidence  would you? I have free voice, a strong sense of what’s right and wrong, and I’m against any law or belief system that doesn’t treat others as equals. I have worked with adults living with developmental disabilities, and I have worked with women fleeing from domestic abuse. I am a female though, and as a result have witnessed and been a victim of ‘2nd class citizen-itis’. It’s not a rare condition, in fact it affects nearly half of the population. It’s obviously worse in some countries; to the extent of honor killings, or female genital mutilations. We in North America generally deal with the lower end of the severity chart. This in no way takes away from the continued rape of women in the ‘free world’ but we are less likely to be murdered because of our DNA makeup.

Our war zones are on the street, in our office, at the bar; all places that society tells us that it’s ‘ok’ to be in. The fact that a few of these places come with conditions is not explained to us until some poor woman is assaulted, and her story reaches the media. We can go to the pub but we have to think about what we’re wearing, watch who we talk to, in case we send the ‘wrong message’ and count how many drinks we have so that the newspaper doesn’t throw that into the story as well. (This counting had also be with drinks we don’t let out of our sight so as to avoid Rohypnol). So if you do go out with some friends after work and decide to be responsible by taking a cab; can we now count that safety protocol out as well? A woman was raped by a cabbie back in Ontario as she had fallen asleep on the way home in the taxi. Was that some sort of silent invitation to him? A story I just read in a work journal mentioned that as women we give each comment we hear, each dirty ‘joke’ thought before we decide to fight or stay quiet. How many crude stories within our hearing, how many pats on the backside, how many times have we been told not to be so ‘sensitive’ when we make a face at sexist comments. Even reading this piece a loud to myself I worried that I would sound a bit ‘harsh’. Is that also part of our feminine training? My mother is and was a feminist but I still think about ’embarrasing’ a man when I’m about to call him out. When will this end? Send me your thoughts, I’d be interested in hearing them.

 

 

;

March winds blowing.


daffodils  March always reminds me of daffodils; (It is the national flower of Wales as it commemorates St. David’s Day on the 1st of March) just a little tidbit of trivia for you. At some point in the month a sea of  yellow and green is observed all over town. They are simple flowers, they bend in the wind on stalks that look a bit fragile to me. As we know though, just because something looks fragile, you can’t take it for granted that it will crumple.

If you aren’t sure, look around at some of the women in your life. They may have lost a husband or child, they may be dealing with a sick relative on top of a full-time job, they may be dealing with an abusive spouse while smiling at the world outside; but they don’t break. They may bend, their heads may be hanging for a little while, but when things get stormy they just hold tight and wait for things to blow over. I have noticed that the strongest ones tend to be in the middle of a garden; when surrounded by others they are more able to stand again. The solitary flowers will eventually break. Who is holding you up? Do you have enough support in your life? We all need someone to lean on eventually and it’s easier if you have them close by. If you isolate yourself it’s easier to fall. Our agency has people who can help you find solid ground, and supports. Give them a call. In the meantime, enjoy this poem about daffodils written by William Wordsworth back in 1804.

 

I wandered lonely as a Cloud
Decorative I.jpg wandered lonely as a Cloud
That floats on high o’er Vales and Hills,
When all at once I saw a crowd
A host of dancing Daffodils;
Along the Lake, beneath the trees,
Ten thousand dancing in the breeze.The waves beside them danced, but they
Outdid the sparkling waves in glee: –
A poet could not but be gay
In such a laughing company:
I gaz’d – and gaz’d – but little thought
What wealth the shew to me had brought:

For oft when on my couch I lie
In vacant or in pensive mood,
They flash upon that inward eye
Which is the bliss of solitude,
And then my heart with pleasure fills,
And dances with the Daffodils.

William Wordsworth

The Groundhog sneezed.


window  This is pretty much how I’ve been viewing the world for two weeks now; from the inside out. Just 3 days after I talked to my house supervisor about how healthy I am and that I almost never get colds/flu, guess what happened? Talk about tempting fate; (and Kleenex and cough syrup, and blankets on the couch). I got a view into how frustrating it is to be home bound and in some ways, a bit of a pariah. No one wanted to come over, or see me, I don’t want to imagine how it feels to be really sick and alone.

So many people are though. How many of our seniors and single people have to be sick or injured by themselves? With the snow Powell River just had, even healthy older people couldn’t leave their driveways to attend appointments. How many of them have good neighbors that check in on them, offer to shovel their driveway or pick up medications for them? We need to remember that we have an aging population in Powell River and even though our city does a great job of offering programs, there are still lots of people that have no family in town and ever dwindling social circles. Do you have people in your neighborhood that could use a hand?

Our city has recently seen the opening of a cold weather shelter, the Salvation Army has space open in case of serious weather conditions. According to the article in the Peak ‘temperatures near zero with rainfall that makes staying dry a challenge, sleet or freezing rain, snow accumulation, sustained high winds and temperatures below -2 degrees Celsius’. I had a nice warm house to recover in, but many don’t. If you see someone in need, direct them towards a local agency like the CRC on Joyce Avenue. We all live here in sickness and in health, let’s help each other out Powell River.

Windows and Mirrors


window      I have been cleaning windows lately, windows and mirrors actually. Both can be reflective; mirrors at all times and windows when it’s dark outside. I was thinking as I sprayed and wiped that there is a saying about ‘eyes being the windows to the soul’. What happens when eyes are the only context you have? You can’t base a person’s thoughts and life decisions just on their baby blues, can you?

  • Furtive glances and eyes that move quickly around the room, never looking at your face give the impression that the person has something to hide, is nervous or perhaps high on something. (How you interpret the meaning can say a fair bit about where you’re coming from too!)
  • Downcast, wet and red-rimmed could be a sign that the person is incredibly sad, has been crying for awhile and questions need to be asked in a calm and gentle tone. It could also mean that they have lost something valuable on the ground, perhaps their allergy medication?
  • Eyes wide open and expectant, this person appears to be waiting for something. They have a smile on their face when they see you and their arms come out for a hug. Is this person your date or your 6 month old son?

In the world of support work we have to have more of a person’s story in able to help them with the next step. Every human has a heart, speech and intelligence, among other traits. It’s all these put together; listen to their story, allow them time to trust you with it. Basing someone’s needs on the ‘soul in the window’ leads to an incomplete practice, and with women putting their belief in us that could be disastrous. In terms of the mirrors I mentioned earlier, I think this one is obvious don’t you? What do you see in the reflection? Is it pleasing to you or are you harshly judgemental about some body part? Try to think of the reflection as just that, a one dimensional representation. It doesn’t show your kindness, your artistic skills, your sense of humour, it can’t because your insides, your soul, isn’t in the mirror any more than it’s in the window.

…..and taxes.


daffodils  I heard someone tell his friend that the months of November to February are the toughest. I thought he was talking about the weather but it turns out he was discussing the number of deaths that occur in the winter. I don’t know if this is true all over the world, or who even counts something like that, but it sure seems like it here in Powell River. As if snow, sleet, rain and cold mornings aren’t enough, we also have to deal with opening the paper or meeting someone in the grocery store who has some sad information to share. It can really start to weigh heavy after awhile. I am usually a fairly upbeat kind of person; (not super chipper or anything but I am for sure a glass half full kind of woman) but the continual knock back of friends and family in ill-health or leaving us too soon is starting to take it’s toll.

What can we do with all this sadness? My first reaction is to counter it with some good news or to spend it with people I love that are still here. I take stock of my life and decide what can be kept and what needs to go; why hang on to baggage and junk? I start planning a short get-away if holiday time is short, I make time for my hobbies and turn off the t.v. (This past weekend I actually coloured, it was wonderful to get away from the news). ‘Peace of Mind’ is immeasurable, and a strong will can help in times of grief and insecurity; they can be coupled with some counselling and other supports as well. If it’s your relationship that’s causing grief and pain call our STVC program. Sylvia can work with you to find some answers. 604-485-6965

Holiday Songs


Part of every holiday is the music associated with it. At this time of year it’s Christmas carols, and we all have our favourites don’t we? Mine is ‘The Little Drummer Boy’ and just to prove that I’m a real 80’s woman, I prefer the Bony M version over the vast number of other artists that have given it a whirl.

Music is the symphony of your life; the choices in tunes, the type of bands, the bass line. It brings back memories you thought you had forgotten. You could be driving along on your way to work, not looking forward to the shift at all and then you hear a tune that sends you back to your teen years. You start laughing at the little video in your head of you and your friends; before you know it you’re at work and feeling a lot more positive.

Music is something we can share with others as well. A couple of weeks ago I attended the Carol’s by Candlelight and enjoyed the voices raised and harmonizing in traditional songs, it was quite stirring. What really got me in the Christmas mood was seeing the little ones belting out their own song while completely distracted by their parents taking pictures or the kid next to them. I can’t sing, was told not to by more than one person, but I still enjoy a wide range of music. What song or artist brings you peace when the rest of the world is going mad? Rump a pum pum…….

 

Christmas colours


The traditional ones are green (Holly and trees) and red (Santa’s outfit); but we can also add in some white for the snow, silver for the bells and brown for the tons of fruitcake. Some people have a different colour at this time of year though, and that’s blue. You may remember that old carol sung by Elvis Presley, ‘Blue Christmas’. In that song he was referring to a temporary condition brought on by the absence of his girlfriend. Millions of people suffer from depression all year long and it’s often exacerbated by the holiday season.  There are many reasons a person may develop depression during the holidays, here are two of them;

  1. Social Isolation: Some people may have a small social circle or lack of social opportunities for socialization. People who have feelings of being disconnected often avoid social occasions at holiday time. Unfortunately this can make things worse. By withdrawing completely from events and parties the isolation just intensifies, it’s a vicious circle. As hard as it may be for some, reaching out, attending that staff party and meeting others (even for a short time at first) could be helpful. If this is all too much perhaps seeking a professional’s help is the next step.
  2. Grieving During the Holidays: As someone who lost their father just before Christmas I understand this one. Nothing seems the same, Christmas carols are all too sad, or worse, overly bright. Sometimes planning a new tradition, like spending the holidays away instead of at home can help. You could consider volunteering to support others at Christmas; manning a charity bubble or dishing out dinner at a church function. Be aware of how you’re feeling and don’t feel obligated, be willing to tell others that you just aren’t up for it yet. Don’t forget going out for a nature walk, not only will the park or woods relax you and give you some non-people time, it’s also healthy for you in other ways, as little as 30 minutes of cardiovascular exercise can provide a mood boost similar to the effects of an anti-depressant medication. Practicing self-care is essential. Eat a healthy diet, maintain a regular sleep pattern and talk to friends or family who you can share happy memories with.

The holidays, no matter how you celebrate them, can put a lot of pressure on a person. Gifts, food, travel and all the other issues that crop up! All I can say is try to relax, it’s once a year; after the 21st we’ll be heading for more light every day and soon it will be Spring. If you need more support please call a local counsellor.

Merry Christmas, Joyeux Noel and Mele Kalikimaka!

Changing perspective


verbal abuse  I found a list of tips for boys, it’s a list to help combat sexualization of girls. The B.C Society of Transition Houses has put out a series of cards and the one I liked today turns the tables a bit. We are so used to hearing what girls and women need to do to avoid being sexually assaulted; what about the boys and men?

  1. Be critical; Portrayal of girls on TV, online and in magazines isn’t how they are in real life.
  2. Decide who you want to be: Question attitudes and behaviours and how they may disrespect or harm women and girls you know and care about.
  3. Talk about it!: Talk about the images in the media that bother you.
  4. Educate yourself: No one expects you to know what to do in every situation but there are answers out there.
  5. Get rid of the pressure!: Pressuring girls to send you photos, go on a date, or do anything that makes them feel compromised is not right.
  6. Lead by positive example: Share with others the importance of respecting girls and women.
  7. Get informed: Learn about the impact of violence against women and girls.
  8. Challenge and speak out: It can be as easy as not laughing at sexist jokes or supporting Facebook/Twitter posts that are demanding or degrading towards women.
  9. Don’t walk by: If you witness harassment or an assault, assess the risk, then intervene and confront or defuse the situation. If you need to, ask for help. Call 911
  10. Accept your role!: Help to end violence and treat all girls as equals and with respect!

These are just 10 ideas, if you have sons, nephews or brothers that could use a little information, please pass these along in your own way and words.

16 Days to Think


Today is December 1st and World Aid’s Day. I remember as a young woman being terrified of AIDS, it was all over the news, people died by the thousands for years, and gay men were unfairly seen as some kind of enemy. There have been a lot of virus’ since then, diseases that have wiped out whole villages, but AIDS is still with us. If you don’t think so, see some of the facts and figures below. I found these stats on the United Nations Women Headquarters website.

Facts and Figures: HIV and AIDS

Prevalence and New Infections
  • Globally, in 2015 there were an estimated 17.8 million women living with HIV (15 and older), constituting 51 per cent of all adults living with HIV.
  • Young women and adolescent girls aged 15-24 are particularly affected. Globally, in 2015 there were an estimated 2.3 million adolescent girls and young women living with HIV, that constitute 60 per cent of all young people living with HIV (15-24)
  • In 2015, of the total estimated 1.9 million new HIV infections globally, 900,000 or 47 per cent were among women
  • 58 per cent of new HIV infections among young persons aged 15-24 in 2015 occurred among adolescent girls and young women.
  • Specific groups of women are disproportionately affected by HIV. An analysis of studies measuring the pooled prevalence of HIV in 50 countries estimated that, globally, female sex workers are approximately 14 times more likely to be infected than other women of reproductive age

Factors that fuel HIV

  • Violence against women and girls increases their risk of acquiring HIV. A study in South Africa found that the association of intimate partner violence and HIV was stronger in the presence of controlling behaviour and high HIV prevalence.
  • In some settings up to 45 per cent of adolescent girls report that their first sexual experience was forced.
  • Globally, only 3 in every 10 adolescent girls and young women aged 15-24 years have comprehensive and accurate knowledge about HIV. The lack of information on HIV prevention and the power to use this information in sexual relationships, including in the context of marriage, undermines women’s ability to negotiate condom use and engage in safer sex practices.
  • Women living with HIV are more likely to experience violence, including violations of their sexual and reproductive rights. Involuntary and coerced sterilization and forced abortion among women living with HIV has been reported in at least 14 countries worldwide.

My intention is not to scare or horrify you, it’s simply to inform. I was shocked and surprised myself to see just how many women are living with AIDS around the world. Don’t forget to visit the Shoe Memorial on December 6th at Town Center Mall. It runs from 9:30am-5:00pm just inside the East entrance, by Walmart.

 

 

Christmas shows?


angel-wings  Someone that I care for deeply has been watching Christmas shows for the last couple of weeks. Her excuse is that they are all ‘feel good’ shows, uncomplicated and easy to watch. I understand that theory; I watch old episodes of Seinfeld, MASH and The Golden Girls  for the same reason. With all that’s going on in the world now it’s understandable that people want to revert to fantasy and the 80’s. What makes you feel good and able to forget Donald Trump, bombings in Aleppo  and sinking world economics? I have been thinking about adopting a family in need for Christmas, my niece and nephews are all  in their 20’s and no longer in need of toys and plush bunnies. The adults seem happy with small gifts or gift cards, so what to do? I don’t bake or preserve anything, I have very few home economics skills to speak of, (anyone that knows me has heard that it took me 4 months to sew a tote bag).

So, in regards to this Christmas Hamper; I know it’s not up to me to bring fond memories to a child, or bring some kind of ‘What a Wonderful World’ kind of feeling to the family in question. So what would it do for any of us? Well, the way I see it, I would be helping them have a nicer Christmas, maybe close to the ones I used to have. I would also be helping myself get the spirit back. With family deaths and illnesses around this time of year I haven’t been feeling very ‘Ho, Ho, Ho’ in the last little while. If anyone has ideas let me know. Take care of you and don’t feel pressured to come up with Christmas feelings, it is only November!