Learning in general


learning quote   The man had a way with words didn’t he? As a famous blues singer and songwriter it’s not a surprise that he knew about learning new things.

In our family, education was prized, doing our best and knowing that if we did, we’d have nothing to be ashamed about. We had a full set of encyclopedia’s in the living room and were encouraged to ‘look it up’ if we had a question about something on the news. That was a good start to our lives, and I’m eternally grateful to both my parents for teaching me what, and how they did.

There were things that cropped up after I left home though that became real life lessons. Dating, drinking, learning about drugs, how to budget, buying a house, getting married (and with that came compromises). As a young woman I was forced into becoming the most responsible one of two ‘kids playing house’. I paid attention to directions, knew when bills needed to be paid, (whether they did or not, which became another lesson when the power got shut off). I worked hard at lots of low paying jobs, like a lot of us, and learned to swallow my words when someone looked at me like I was less than them because I was cleaning their hotel room. 

We learn more from the messes we make than the successes. That’s perhaps a trite way of summing up a lifetime, but when I listen to the stories of the women I meet here at the house, it fits. Some of us humans never learn, perhaps we didn’t have great teachers, perhaps mother and baby bonding never happened. If you didn’t have your basic needs met as a child, perhaps that’s why there’s an eternal search for that piece that’s missing. Society seems a bit lost right now, but there are people and programs that can help with some of the finding. Call us, or them to start the search.

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In the Pink


bullying Today is anti-bullying day. It’s a day set aside primarily for younger people, to raise awareness of bullying in schools and in social settings. The problem is that bullying is everywhere. As adults we may call it something different; trolling, verbal abuse, stalking or unwanted sexting, but the reality is that it’s all bullying. It’s a power imbalance and affects a huge percentage of our population. Some say that it begins at home, if a child has parents that don’t teach them, either through words or actions, that we all have gifts and are equal then how will a child know? Is there subtle bullying at home? Is there domestic abuse? If one parent is constantly belittling their spouse how does a child learn about peaceful negotiation and acceptance of mistakes?

In many schools there are compassion projects. and in every community there are numerous ways to introduce your child to volunteering. Working with your children at a local food bank or soup kitchen will help them see what other families are going through and will help them develop compassion for others. Joining a local charity walk, (have the kids pick one that speaks to their values) will provide them with exercise, a social experience and the opportunity to raise money and/or awareness for a cause they chose. How about asking your teen if they’d like to buy a coffee for the person behind them in the drive-through? Random acts of kindness are fun and make you feel good. All of the above are ways that a parent can encourage compassion in their children. If a child has that example at home, they will often take it to school and understand that bullying is hurtful and unfair. 

Even with all the above suggestions, there is every chance that someone you know will be harassed themselves. Reporting to an adult is the first step. By keeping quiet they give more power to the bully; taking the power away, and standing up to inequity is difficult, especially as a young person, I know this. The sooner the better though. Showing someone they trust the abusive texts, telling a teacher or other adult about comments made and by whom. As parents or guardians, you need to watch for changes in their personality or habits. Are they spending more time at home? Are they jumpy when they get a text? Have they stopped attending beloved social or school activities? There is a lot of information on the internet now. With today being ‘Pink Shirt Day’ I found dozens of stories and support sites. Take care of you and yours today and all year.

pink shirt

Happy Birthday!


Grace House_colour   It’s been 25 years this month that Grace House opened it’s doors. What a quarter of a century it’s been! Just the number of women that have come through our doors is amazing. They came in scared, insolent, angry, high, grateful, hurting and yet numb at the same time. We’ve had some repeats, and some who came through and were never heard from afterwards. We can only hope that we supported them enough to find their own tools for survival. Some returned to their partners, some got out-of-town and never looked back.

The physical house itself has gone through some changes too. Blooming gardens, new floors and outside decks; one that continues to surround a healing space for women. The staff group has gone through a lot of changes as well; new workers, new manager and new E.D. just in the last 6 months, because that’s what life is all about. The relationships that we’ve built with other agencies are vital, the ability to gently nudge a fragile psyche into counselling or court appearance is one of our collective strengths. In working with immigration, victim services, mental health and addictions we have proved to our clients that we have their backs, and can see what they need besides a bed and calm.

It’s a house that sometimes rings with laughter as the women bond over cooking duties and choosing a movie to watch after the kids are in bed. It’s tea and empathy between staff and clients at the kitchen table at 3:00 am. I am still in awe, after 7 years here, of the power of the collective female to problem solve and support each other even through their own issues. Grace House, like its willow tree, is a symbol of strength and wisdom, it stands tall, provides shade and security beneath its branches, and despite continual worries that it’s aging and weakening, just keeps surviving the storms; just like women I suppose. 

Small talk


k0557766  In nearly every relationship; parent/child, live-in lovers or married couples, long time friends, there is a type of short hand language that gets developed to avoid the longer conversations. It’s not that you think the deep discussions aren’t worth it, but maybe you’ve had a busy day, or just don’t have the energy for a long ‘talk’.

As I have been shaking my head at young people communicating through text messages using short hand. “They’ll never be able to teach their children to spell properly” I rail. “What will our future politicians use as promotional material, Tweets, rather than lawn signs?” Then of course I had to backtrack because we already have regular updates via Twitter from the man to the south.

Communication is an essential part of any relationship, but you have to be on the same page in terms of what that means to you. If one party speaks in novels, and the other in rap verse, there is potential for misunderstanding. The point of communication is to let someone know what you need or what you have planned. If hubby says the word ‘shave’ I say ‘K’, no need for a full conversation there. If I say, ‘heading out’, he says ‘drive safe’ again, self-explanatory. We talk more deeply and seriously when the occasion calls for it, but then we have an equal relationship. For others though, it’s different.

When your words are being continually berated, when your thoughts are being questioned on a daily basis, and your opinions are mocked, (if you still feel you are entitled to them) it makes for a frustrating, and let’s face it, abusive relationship. Having the right to speak your mind without immediate and mocking reactions is a human right. After a few years, it’s easy for a person to just shut down, they don’t feel the urge to speak anymore since it’s been so painful. Verbal abuse along with emotional abuse are sneaky and subversive forms of abuse but no less harming than physical in the long run. It’s a form of abuse that men are subjected to as well.  It’s not that men aren’t physically or sexually abused in relationships, but verbal and emotional assault is more common.

At this point I don’t know enough about it to expand on the point, but I will do some research and get back to you because as we hear in our field, “men get abused too, why don’t you have enough shelters/programs for us?” In the meantime, male or female or non-binary, please take care of yourself and reach out for help. You know yourself when things in your relationship don’t feel right, and if your voice is  being silenced.                                                                                                                                                                             

verbal abuse

Just watching it!


snow-in-pr  There are some times in your life where you have to admit defeat. There is no point in arguing or crying or stomping your feet like a five year old. Today is one of those days. It’s a snow day except that schools are open. It’s a day for nervous people to worry about the weather and plans they made getting cancelled, it’s a day for older or unsteady people to wonder if they’re going to be safe in parking lots, it’s a day for the rest of us to just curl up on the couch and read. Mother nature has a way of helping people slow down a bit. 

Weather systems are all the same, it makes many of us humans feel small and insignificant. Tornadoes, volcanic eruptions, tsunami’s etc. True, there are some brave, and slightly bonkers individuals out there who prefer life on the edge. The edge of a mountain, a snowboard trail, a zip-line rope but even as they’re hurtling down a steep slope, they’re still aware of the fragility of life. These folks just prefer to look that fragility in the eye rather than stay home and keep their heads down. Which one are you? Do you know the difference between facing danger and respecting it? Do you have the same balance and knowledge in your dating/friendship life?

Many of us are entranced by a natural disaster, I am a huge lover of lava shows. The slow moving but deadly orange flow down a Hawaiian slope! I know in my heart that people are losing their homes, and I know it’s not nice, but it is hypnotic. Somethings, (and some people) can be just like that lava flow. We don’t know just how dangerous they can be. They look so good and entrancing we only realize we’ve lost everything after they’ve left. So what can a person do to avoid these situations? Well, just like we watch the weather channel and do the research, we can ask around to our friends, we can do some checking on social media; there are ways to find out just how dangerous these walking disasters can be before they level us. In the meantime, take care of you.

Poverty Law Advocate hits the road!


POVERTY LAW ADVOCATE

WHEN
One Tuesday a Month
February 26th, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
March 12th, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
April 16th, 9:30 am – 1:30 pm
please phone our office to find out when our next visit is
WHERE
First Credit Union Texada Island Branch
2021 Legion Rd, Van Anda, BC V0N 3K0
CONTACT
Joyce Percey
Poverty Law Advocate
POWELL RIVER OFFICE LOCATION
#207- 6975 Alberni St., Powell River, BC, V8A 2B8 (upstairs above the library)
POWELL RIVER OFFICE HOURS
Monday to Thursday, 9:00 a.m. – 4:00 p.pm. Fridays by appointment only.
CONTACT
Phone:
604-485-0950
Fax:
604-485-6168
Email: povertylaw@telus.net

 

 

Be The Very Model of Change


change   If you’ve ever decided to make a change in your life then you know it’s not that simple. There are phases people must go through when making a potentially major decision. I received the information below at a recent staff meeting and realized that for some of our clients, having to follow these steps while just trying to get through their day could be monumental. We as a society can be extremely judgmental when someone has an addiction issue, or chooses not to leave an abusive partner, we don’t see the struggles. I hope that by bringing you this 6 Stages of Change model, you may be able to better grasp that. (This information comes from a model by ‘Proshaka et al, 1984’ with some paraphrasing for easier understanding).

1. Pre-contemplation: This is where we all start, we aren’t yet acknowledging that there is a problem that needs to be changed. People here are not interested in any kind of help and tend to defend their current bad habits. They be defensive and don’t usually discuss their bad habits with others.

 

 2. Contemplation: At this stage people are more aware of the personal consequences of their bad habit and they spend some time thinking about it. They are able to consider the possibility of change but tend to be ambivalent about it. At this stage people are weighing the pros and cons of change, it might not be an actual list or receiving counselling for it, but they are thinking. It might take as little as a few weeks or as long as a lifetime to get through this stage, but those at this stage are more open to information on options.

 

3. Preparation/Determination: At this stage people have made a commitment to make a change. They may say things like, “I’ve got to do something about this, it’s serious, what can I do?” This is a sort of research stage, they are taking steps towards quitting their habit, they’re gathering information. They may call clinics or counselors trying to find what strategies and resources are available. Too often, people skip this step, they try to move directly from contemplation into action and fall on their face because they haven’t done the research or accepted what’s actually involved to make this major lifestyle change.

4. Action/Willpower: This is where people believe they have the ability to change their behaviour and are actively involved in taking steps to change their bad behaviour by using a variety of different techniques. This is the shortest of all the stages. The amount of time actually varies for each person. This a stage when people most depend upon their own willpower. They are making overt efforts to quit or change and therefore are at greatest risk for relapse. They review their commitment to themselves and develop plans to deal with both personal and external pressures that may lead to slips. They may use short term rewards to sustain their motivation, and analyze their behaviour change efforts in a way that enhances their self confidence. People at this stage are very open to support from others.

5. Maintenance: This stage is all about being able to successfully avoid any temptations to return to the bad habit. The goal of this stage is to maintain the new status quo. People at this stage tend to remind themselves of how much progress they have made. At maintenance, people are acquiring new skills to deal with life and avoid relapse. They remain aware that what they are striving for is personally worthwhile and meaningful, they are patient with themselves and recognize that it often takes a while to let go of old behaviours and coping techniques. It can be helpful here to review the stages already gone through and see the progress. Even in the course of one day, you may go through several different stages of change. It is normal and natural to regress, to attain one stage only to fall back to a previous one. This is a normal part of making changes in your behaviour.

6. Relapse: Also referred to as ‘Termination’ this is the stage where the recovery/ abstinence from the habit has failed. This is the point at which we need to get back on track. It could come about as a result of a stressor that prompted a return to the bad habit, or perhaps quitting counselling and trying to ‘go it alone’ or just being in an environment where old habits are encouraged. This stage could be a one day ‘slip’ before getting back on track, or it could lead to a lengthier time period if support isn’t provided quickly. This is a could time to look at those ‘triggers’ and reassess the motivation and barriers. It’s a good time to plan stronger coping strategies.

 

 

A little TLC


Please find a list of 50 things you can do for yourself while healing from domestic abuse. Even if you’re still involved in the situation, you can try one or two activities to give yourself a treat. Please also consider visiting one of our programs for added emotional support, or call us here at Grace House to talk. 

 

 

https://www.domesticshelters.org/domestic-violence-articles-information/self-care-bucket-list

 

120px-Woman_reading_at_the_beach

Our Deb


Kerzenlicht  When you go to pick up the phone, or wonder how they’re doing in your busy day. When you drive by the house and see the car and remind yourself to shoot them an email later. Then you realize with a jolt that they aren’t here anymore. It’s too late for conversation, no more husky toned chuckles at your humorous observations, no more ‘looks’ from eyes that could stop people in their tracks. 

When this house, Grace House, opened back in early 1995 there was a group of women who were hired to work here as support staff. Deb Rohatensky was just one of them. She was on staff for a few good years before moving into the house coordinator job. As someone who just came on board with the agency in 2012 I was in awe of her knowledge; of how strong women are, of their survival skills, (both positive and challenging), and of which women would return to us because they weren’t ready yet. I had seen the assessing look she would give someone, the look that could make someone very uncomfortable if they were attempting to lie. She had compassion, empathy and common sense in spades. She had respect for people but they had to earn it, there was no accepting people by reputation, they had to show her that they could do the job; be organized and be real.

Deb was a private person, she had family here in town and a beloved son with family in Alberta but she wouldn’t talk about them much unless you asked. She loved nature; some of her stories about her upbringing revolved around fishing, hiking and just hanging around with her brothers and father outdoors. Deb had more than a few jobs before joining us here. She was a trained hairdresser, a mushroom buyer, and was in retail at Woolworth’s; all jobs that developed her way with people, and intuition when it came to union negotiations. As our steward she went to bat for us, individually and as a team. It’s going to take a long time before this house doesn’t resonate with her memory, or we forget about her Cheezie stash and her love of sweets with a coffee. There will be no more themed staff meetings with the hand-out Dollarama items to match her lesson for the month. Each of us will mourn her in our own way, in our own time but trust me, she will not be forgotten. Here’s to you Deb, I raise my coffee cup to you.

Puzzle Pieces


top-20-symbol-yin-and-yang  In a lot of romance movies and novels the premise seems to be that if you wait, and struggle, and resist; true love will appear on the horizon. Sometimes the person is a neighbour the heroine never considered dating, or a ‘hot’ fireman who rescued their child/dog/BFF from a dangerous situation and comforts them afterwards. My favourite story was where a woman grew from a child to a teen, she moved away from her home town to see the world and go to Uni. She marries and then divorces, then chooses to move back as an adult. After a couple of years she spends some time with a family friend, they connect and start dating. Cue the cameras to 18 years later………

Still in love and more importantly in ‘like’. They support each other through illnesses, family deaths, and work concerns. They laugh together, and enjoy just being in each other’s company; on beach chairs, the living room couch, or in theater seats waiting for a Las Vegas show to begin. It all sounds romantic doesn’t it? What the world doesn’t see (but assumes because they have their own relationships), is the inane and mundane daily conversations about laundry, money, grocery lists and dinner menus. They didn’t have kids, but listen as their friends talk about grand-children, they have no mortgage payments, but have excitable conversations about the local property tax levels, contractors and items needing fixing, over cocktails. 

The world outside doesn’t see her worry when he starts to get anxious and depressed every couple of years, they didn’t hear the tension in his voice when he addressed her credit card debt a few years ago. No relationship is all rosy, or all black. Relationships, even healthy ones have ebbs and flows, there will be days or months when you love them but really can’t stand the way they talk or laugh or put on their socks. You are two different people, you aren’t going to get along all the time, life is not a romance novel. Life is about compromise, talking about your concerns with them and not Facebook. Relationships are hard work, ask anyone who’s been married over 30 years! If you really can’t communicate seek out a counselor, either as a couple or on your own. Get some tools for talking to each other. If there is no way through it at all, then go ahead and separate. I just urge you to try first. Take care of you, both of you.

Sometimes a warm, fuzzy feeling and other times?


socks   This past Christmas I received a pair of reading socks, I had bought my mom a pair last year, she liked them and so this season my hubby bought me some. If you haven’t seen reading socks before, prepare yourself for a shock. They are huge, fuzzy, comfortable, come in various patterns/colours and fit over most size legs. (Which is a good thing!)  It occurred to me the other day that while they are certainly cozy, I could see how someone would want to take a break from them after a while.

This puts me in mind of suffocating relationships, (see the leap there?) Not necessarily abusive, or unkind in any way, just overwhelming. This could happen at any stage of life, or at any time in a pairing. It could be that one of the couple doesn’t have many other close friends so they rely on their partner for all their social connections and contentment. It could be that one is retired or a stay at home parent, and the other still works. The employed person would get social interaction from their colleagues while the non-working partner is at home all day with either small children or Jack Abbott for company. How do you find a way out of this without hurting the other person’s feelings? As a teen or young person how do you approach this type of situation without the skills of negotiation? Can you tell the difference between someone wanting to spend time with you because they love you, and someone who is too possessive? If you need, and ask for time apart does the other person get angry or overly sad?

You truly care for this person, you don’t want to break up, but like the big reading socks they’re making you sweat. Please remember that you can’t change someone’s reaction to your decisions. All you can do is take care of yourself and I urge you to do that. If the person you’re with can’t understand why you need time apart that could be a sign of insecurity and could lead to other more serious behaviours down the road. We’ve talked before about stalking, that’s different but in some cases being possessive can become dangerous stalking if the one partner doesn’t believe the other just needs some space. If you’re feeling frightened or even unsure if what’s happening is unusual, talk to someone who’s not involved like a counselor or crisis line worker. In the next blog post we’ll investigate the subject from a more legal/clinical perspective.

Analogy


I’ve loved Dolly Parton for many years, despite, or perhaps because of, all her hair, and sequins, her twang and her make-up. There’s a real sweet woman in there. This song just gets me thinking of all the tunes there are about women. Some songs are a bit strong, some don’t give us any credit at all, but she nailed it. We have moments, days, or weeks of distress, pain and confusion, but we get back up every time. Our resilience is what keeps us and those around us, going. Share this with a woman in your life that you admire.

Dreich!


It’s a Scottish word meaning dull and depressing. Looking at the weather today, I can see where they came up with it! It’s origin in Old English means ‘patient or long-suffering’, and it’s derived from the Old Norse for ‘enduring and lasting’. An unhappily hitched person might see all of them as adjectives for a marriage, but it comes from more of a meteorologists’ text book.

Seasonal Affective Disorder is a condition that many people deal with at this time of year. It goes beyond just feeling blue or depressed, it’s a type of depression that’s related to changes in seasons. It begins at about the same time every year, 

ends about the same time too. Some of the signs and symptoms of SAD go beyond ‘the winter blues’.

As the winter on the west coast officially started on the 21st, and we are heading into a few more months 

of this perpetual grey, stormy and wet weather, how do we cope 

with conditions; inside and out?

-Feeling depressed most of the day, nearly every day

Losing interest in activities you once enjoyed

-Having low energy and maybe having problems sleeping

-Experiencing changes in your appetite or weight, cravings for foods high in carbohydrates.

-Feeling sluggish or agitated

-Having difficulty concentrating

Feeling hopeless, worthless or guilty

-Having frequent thoughts of death or suicide.

In most cases, SAD appears in the late fall and goes away during the sunnier days of spring and summer. Don’t brush off that yearly feeling as a seasonal funk that you have to tough out on your own. Treatment for SAD may include light therapy, (photo-therapy), medications and counselling. Talk to your doctor to make sure that you’re dealing with a case of SAD and not something else. 

Some of these symptoms are close to other conditions, I have a few of them myself, but have not been diag-nosed with SAD. 

Dealing with other life pressures, such as work, child care, relationship stresses are that much more difficult to handle. Perhaps you’ve noticed that you’re not able to multi-task with family responsibilities as well at this time of year, perhaps you’re using medications or alcohol to cope and this is adding to existing issues. Please take care of you this winter.

What it means to you is important


A friend of ours doesn’t really celebrate Christmas, he and his wife decided a few years ago, when the girls grew up and out into the world. A relative of mine does celebrate; house decorations, baking, music and movies we grew up with. Each season, each celebration is different for each family, and it’s not up to us to judge either way.

I’ve written a few pieces on the holiday season in the last month, within the blogs I’ve tried to look at different elements; touchy-feely acquaintances, ideas for donations to Grace House this season, and closing with today’s blog on holiday choices. 

This is my last shift until after ‘the big day’ and I just wanted to pass along my hopes to you for a peaceful day. No matter what that means to you. 

If it’s church services, a large genetic pool around your table, or just being by yourself watching ‘A Christmas Carol’ and eating a turkey sandwich. It’s a time for peace, 

appreciation, and contentment. Take care of yourself, put family arguments away, and don’t drink too much eggnog, 

(with or without the Rum, you will regret it in the morning).

What the wind blew.


As I write this the wind is howling outside Grace House. The creaking of tree bark and rain lashing against the windows makes a somewhat scary symphony. However, I am inside, safe and warm, many aren’t. In Powell River, every day someone is talking about the homeless ‘situation’. Whether it’s the people on council, folks chatting in the grocery store, or an agency worker looking for housing for yet another client. Anyone who reads or watches the news understands that homelessness (or more accurately, ‘house’lessness) is a big issue. People all over the world are walking with all their worldly belongings, just looking for a safe place to lay their heads.

We aren’t different here; we may think that because there are jobs, and that there are new people moving to town all the time we have the market cornered on ‘up and coming community’ status. There are two sides to every story. For every couple settling in Powell River and getting interviewed for a magazine article called ‘Why’d You Move Here?’ or something similar, there are others who were essentially given a one way bus ticket from Vancouver a couple of years ago and can’t afford to get back. With the current crisis in opioid and other drug overdoses, poverty levels creeping up, and violence in family relationships, life can be difficult in the extreme.

At the end of the first paragraph I got a call to check out the rainbow, it was a faint arc today, muted colours and nearly translucent compared to some I’ve witnessed. But, it was indeed the allegorical promise of better things to come. (That is unless you’re a meteorologist and know the exact reason rainbows appear). I prefer my version, it may smack of Irish tales, or biblical stories, but knowing there’s a proverbial pot at the end of the rainbow, (or help around the corner) can sometimes be enough to get you up and out of bed one more day. If it’s not enough please call someone. There is a list of services and agencies on this website. Powell River may be several things to several people, but what it definitely is, is a city of helping organizations, churches, food resources, mental health and addiction programs and caring people in each one. Take care of you.

You can’t touch this


I may have written about this before, so please excuse me if I’m repeating myself. The topic is physical touching, I’m not referring to being attacked or raped in a car park, I’m talking about being in a social situation and someone you barely know decides it’s OK to lay hands on you in the spirit of ‘Christmas’.

Women are often given the message that if we ask not to be touched, we come across as bitches. We may give a cold stare or physically remove the person’s hands from our body, and get the ‘what’s your problem?’ retort. It’s not right at any other time of the year, why do some folks think it’s all hands on just because Santa’s almost here? It bears thinking about.

With the recent conversations about some holiday songs, (“Baby, it’s cold outside” being the tune that started it all), and the strong opinions for and against banning it from the airwaves, it seems we have a lot to ponder while we shop. As a woman and feminist I feel strong in my opinions about things, but then often say nothing if the above situation happens to me. Having an open and friendly demeanor gives the impression I’m without awareness of my personal space. Am I that worried about hurting someone’s feelings if I say ‘get your hands off me’ in public? Where do my boundaries end and their humiliation begin? In the spirit of the season, as an acquaintance to someone, please ask them first. Friends would already know, strangers tend not to impose anyway, but with casual acquaintances; men please ask if contact is OK, and try not to get too upset if the woman says no, you’d want your daughters/nieces/wives to get the same respect from somebody else wouldn’t you?

Mental Yelps


Picture a woman who’s normally calm, even-tempered and friendly. Put her in a stressful (for her) situation and observe what happens. She gets quieter by the minute, she feels that there’s no point trying to speak up because the myriad of sounds, voices and opinions expressed will just drown her out.  When she’s angry she just gets silent. No yelling, no fighting or raising her voice, just silent. For an alert person watching, the signs are all there, the tapping of a pen on the table, the body language that includes rubbing her head to ease an imaginary headache, the physical space she tries to put between her and the source. Having a notice hanging around her neck that says in capital letters “BE QUIET” would be just as obvious.

In a transition house or support program we are used to seeing the signs of upset, anger, frustration, and fear on the faces of our clients. Supporting them to deal effectively with these emotions is part of our job, what happens when the workers need the same support? Despite what some folks think we don’t just live in a white space until it’s time to come to work, we have family lives, losses, money stresses and other problems. We are human and sometimes doing the job we do on top of our own worries, maintaining a calm and supportive demeanor while our mind is still whirling from events on our days off can be difficult. Hearing the often sad and painful details of our clients’ lives is somewhat soul crushing and despite our mantra of ‘leave it at the door’ we wouldn’t be in this job if our hearts were made of ice. 

Burn-out sounds like an overused word for something we all cope with, it’s how you live on your days off that helps defend against it. Reading, exercise, spending time with friends, and travelling are healthy ways of releasing the breath you hold at work. For this writer, it’s easy. If I’m getting quiet, check in with me, because although I’m not a constant talker I will express myself if it seems safe and opportune to do so. What’s your communication valve like? Do you have someone to talk to?

A Christmas Contribution Conversation.


Every year people in Powell River give generously to local charities; the Food Bank, Salvation Army, Grace House and others of their choice. This is the true meaning of Christmas in my opinion. The decision to donate money or gifts to those in need instead of, or in addition to, presents for their family members.  We are a very warm hearted community in times of need.

In my nearly 6 years with the Powell River & Region Transition House Society, I have seen it repeatedly. The sheer number of items dropped off for women and children in our agency is nothing less than humbling. I want to take this opportunity to thank you all who have provided the clients in our home with toys, clothes, beauty products and personal care items over the years.

We have been going through some storage clear-outs in the last couple of months and as a result of this process we have made some changes to our policies. To this end, we are graciously accepting smaller items as donations and Christmas gifts for women and children that may be staying at Grace House. This includes comfort items such as socks and slippers for women as well as underwear, nighties and pajamas. Perhaps a fuzzy warm blanket to cuddle up in? If providing items for children  warms your heart, we are always in need of new scarves and mittens, as well as coats and jackets for boys and girls.

The number one most useful gift at this time of year though is the gift card. This way a woman can choose items for herself and her family.  Cards for local grocery stores or Walmart are a plus, I understand that Dollarama also sells them. Having choice is something we all cherish, and giving that option to a woman could be a most unselfish present this year. 

A day to start 16.


 

  November 25th is fast approaching; in case you believe it’s just another cold day in a drizzly month, I will add that it’s also the ‘International Day of Elimination of Violence Against Women’. Being in this field I obviously think that this should occur every day in people’s minds, but if it has to be just one specific 24 hour period, then lets make it a good one. Take the time to honour a woman in your life, or do some research on local agencies for a woman you think might need help. 

November 25th-December 10th, inclusive, are the 16 Days of Action. Please click on the link to see the Canadian Governments page on the details of this years memorial. In our community, the Police Based Victim Services program is linking with the RCMP to bring the annual Shoe Memorial to Powell River. This year it will be held on December 6th, from 10:00 am-6:00 pm at the Powell River Public Library (instead of the Town Centre Mall). It’s a very moving presentation, some people have a very hard time with it on an emotional level. We will have our agency staff on hand to answer any questions or just talk things through with you.

https://www.swc-cfc.gc.ca/commemoration/vaw-vff/index-en.html

 

Answers to Yesterday


mental miseries   Mental Miseries; Making the Grade

Give yourself one point for each true answer on the test.

Pts.                    Results

1-3                      You generally feel good about yourself. Keep up the positive thinking.

4-6                      The mental miseries may be gaining on you. Take time to renew your                              positive traits.

7+                        Challenge yourself to change your way of thinking.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Read the following information to take a closer look at some of the attitudes behind each of the 12 misery makers. Seek out the resources and information suggested to enhance positive thinking and achieve greater self-understanding and awareness.

____________________________________________________________________________________________

 

Misery Maker #1: Do you believe others cause your feelings? Do others make you feel guilty about things?

Turnaround Mentality: You create your own feelings and make your own decisions. People and events do not cause feelings, but they can trigger your mental habits. you may wish to empower yourself with more information about relationships and communication skills.

Misery Maker #2: Are you so conscientious  in your self-improvement efforts that you never miss a chance to remind yourself what you should or shouldn’t do? ‘I should have studied more, or I shouldn’t have eaten so much’.

Turnaround Mentality: Shoulds don’t get the job done. They’re just a way of punishing yourself after the fact. Guilt and shame don’t produce much action: mostly they drain your energy and discourage you. More information about realistically achieving peak performance may help you.

Misery Maker #3: Are you a relentless critic, always finding fault with the way you look and feel or the way others act towards you? Do you nag yourself and others, especially those you care about?

Turnaround Mentality: Replace criticism with encouragement. Encourage yourself and your friends rather than criticizing them. Give a compliment or a pat on the back. Visualize the positive and achieve what you want. Read more about improving self-esteem.

Misery Maker #4: Do you believe that you must do everything perfectly or not at all? Do you sacrifice fun in your life to achieve every goal?

Turnaround Mentality: Perfection is a high goal to aim for: don’t insist on starting there or even arriving there. Do your best and then accept it. You can enhance your life performance and have fun too. Seek out help to deal with your perfectionist tendencies.

Misery Maker #5: Do you assume you’re to blame whenever someone is upset? Do you often ask yourself, “What did I do wrong?” if your roommate or significant other is in a bad mood, do you feel responsible for it?

Turnaround Mentality: The person who is upset owns the problem. Stop apologizing and accepting blame. Everyone has the right to have angry feelings but you don’t have to feel guilty. Recognize that interpersonal conflicts can be healthy, leading to constructive change and deeper understanding. Strive for emotional wellness with yourself and your relationships.

Misery Maker #6: Do you steal responsibility from others? Do you feel responsible for the happiness of another person? Do you take on others’ responsibilities, then get angry when they don’t appreciate all you’ve done for them?

Turnaround Mentality: Stealing responsibility from others only cheats them out of a growing experience. Learning to deal with the consequences of one’s behaviour is part of being an adult. Seek greater self-responsibility and self-determination. Make some lists to clarify your own needs and wants. Remember, the world has many shoulders to carry it.

Misery Maker #7: Do you call yourself stupid if you make a mistake? Do you call yourself a failure if you slip off your diet or skip a test review session? If your mistakes are pointed out to you, do you feel as if you are under attack and become defensive. 

Turnaround Mentality: You’re only human so treat yourself with kindness and not abuse. Allow yourself to make mistakes and then forgive yourself. Move ahead with a positive attitude; take time to laugh at yourself. Explore the healing power of laughter.

Misery Maker #8: Are you a compulsive people pleaser? Maybe you need the frequent approval of others and forget to give yourself approval. Do you make sacrifices and then get mad at yourself?

Turnaround Mentality: Give yourself permission to decide you’re doing the best you can. Don’t wait to hear it from someone else. Tell yourself you’re doing a good job, and ask for encouragement when you need it. Do something extra nice for a very important person-you!

Misery Maker #9: Do you motivate yourself with fear? Fear and scare tactics may get your attention, but they won’t last long as far as motivation is concerned. You may end up feeling anxious and unhappy.

Turnaround Mentality: Motivate yourself with choice not fear. Visualize success and make decisions that fit with that image of success. For instance, picture yourself succeeding at a task and think of the satisfaction and good feelings  you’ll have when you meet your goals. Learn more about effective self-assertion.

Misery Maker #10: Do you interpret events and comments in a negative light? If your friend says ‘your hair is looking good today’, do you ask yourself ‘what was wrong with it yesterday?’

Turnaround Mentality: You do have a choice, so choose a positive interpretation. Accept a compliment! Look at temporary setbacks as opportunities for growth. The positive appraisal will help you maintain your energy and give you and improved outlook. Encourage positive self-talk from those inner voices.

Misery Maker #11: Do you hang on to painful memories? Do you dwell on bad feelings to justify your bad mood? If someone doesn’t say they’re sorry, do you stay mad at that person?

Turnaround Mentality: The only part of the past that affects you in your present interpretation of it. Only you are in charge of that. Try to reinterpret those past events in a positive way. Forgiving is helpful and, at times, is necessary to move forward. Don’t forget to forgive yourself too.

Misery Maker #12: Do you coach yourself into believing you can’t do certain things or deal with change? Do you frequently hear yourself saying or thinking “I can’t”? If you say this often enough, you will soon believe it. It will become a self-fulfilling prophecy and you will feel even more powerless and out of control.

Turnaround Mentality: Believe in yourself and realize that you’re a capable person. Give yourself positive, encouraging statements. if your goal requires a response or approval from others, you revert to feeling helpless. Work at feeling good about yourself and become more self-reliant. Seek help when you need it.

*You are responsible: All of the above messages reinforce the fact that you are responsible for your self. Your happiness or your misery depends upon what you tell yourself, how you treat yourself and how you interpret your world. It’s an inside job! If you feel you need some help with working this through, find a counselor in your area to help pull these points together. Relying on someone else, no matter how close you are to them, for your confidence and strength isn’t fair on either one of you.

 

Mental Miseries Quiz


mental miseries   This quiz and it’s answers were found in the book ’12 ways to make yourself absolutely miserable: And how to conquer them’. by WW Johnston (1990) pp 102-105, 113. I hope you learn something, I sure did! Try the True and False quiz first and then I’ll go through the answers to each question as per the book in my blog post Tuesday, November 13th. 

1) I  believe others cause my feelings.                                                  T       F

2) I’m always telling myself I should do this or that.                      T        F

3) I constantly criticize myself.                                                              T         F

4) I think I must do everything perfectly or not at all.                    T         F

5) I’m always apologizing for one thing or another.                         T         F

6) I feel like I’m carrying the world on my shoulders.                      T        F

7) I’m really hard on myself when I make mistakes.                          T        F

8) I bend over backwards to please others.                                           T         F

9) I scare myself into action by imagining horrible things               T          F

that will happen if I don’t do something.

10) I tend to look on the negative side of things. My glass is 1/2        T        F

 empty at all times, rather than half full.

11) It’s hard for me to forgive and forget. If someone hurts me        T        F

I tend to cling to that feeling.

12) I often feel helpless. There are so many things I can’t do.              T         F

A paperless society?


115px-Portable_violet   The theory is, that with computers and other technology, our society will be paperless in the next 20-30 years. I heard that eons ago and yet here I sit, in the office at the house surrounded by paper forms of many kinds. We’ve done some updating, re-organizing and tossing out of many items here in the last couple of months. It feels cleaner in a way, but the paper remains. It hangs on bulletin boards, it lurks in files, and it hides in the cabinets. Client files,intake forms,notices about house rules, staff notes, pay stubs, work schedules it goes on and on, never mind the fax and copy machines that make even more! Social service agencies tend to thrive on information, the giving and receiving. Information that must be recorded on paper. (This is in case the computer fails, but I didn’t say that out loud so it didn’t hear me).

True, you can now pay pretty much all your bills online, choose not to get bank statements or other receipts on paper. I’m not advocating for a completely paperless world, I’m a Powell River resident, a descendant and wife of former employees at the mill, it might even be sacrilege to mention the ‘paper’ issue out loud. 

I’ve discussed the dangers of technology before, this is the flip side. For a person considering leaving a domestic violence situation having support numbers written out, or receiving information in the mail about their queries can be dangerous. Any appointment reminders, notices about meetings, calendar notations are also potential hints to the abuser that something is changing; that the abused is looking at options, perhaps seeing a banker about switching accounts. If you’re not sure how to receive information in any form, go to a safe place and make some calls on a landline, call the program number you feel best suits your needs; victim services, stopping the violence outreach or counselor and let them know about your situation. They will help you to strategize without putting out alerts.

Is That Legal?


One of my coworkers brought back a booklet from the last training session in Vancouver. It covers what the law says about online harassment and abuse. It provides a very handy chart as well, that covers the age of consent in relation to other people in sexual relationships. It is easy to read and meant for younger people who have questions about sexting, online relationships and consent. 

The booklet was written and produced by the joint association between the Legal Services Society and West Coast Leaf. You can order this booklet for yourself or agency by clicking on the link below and searching the information. 

 

 

 

Is-That-Legal-age-chart

 

 

By the light of the silvery? moon.


moonj    It’s a full moon tonight, October and a week before Halloween. Driving to work this morning I could see it just hanging in the sky, almost beckoning. She’s a powerful force this Mother Nature, she has the ability to affect people and the planet in all sorts of ways. Tides change, emotions run high, hospitals, women’s shelters and police station employees will all tell you the same thing, ‘there’s something to the old tales’. Almost every culture has an association with and name for the moon. 

So what does the moon have to do with domestic violence? Apparently there is little scientific proof to show that people’s behaviour actually changes at this time of each month. I have included a link to an article to argue that side of the case. What I’ve seen in person though is somewhat different. Whether it’s used as an excuse for violent behaviour, “the moon made me do it.” or a physical pull on people dealing  with mental health and addiction issues, the result is the same; some humans are genuinely affected by the full moon. Whether it’s themselves or their partner is irrelevant, the numbers of women in transition houses during this part of each lunar cycle speaks loudly.

https://www.psychologytoday.com/us/blog/brain-bytes/201706/the-full-moon-effect-takes-another-hit

All we can do is support the victims, find them counselling, housing, and hope. We can shake our fists at the moon all we want but at the end of the sun-lit day, it’s their partners that are responsible for the hurting.