Posts Tagged With: hope

let us out

Listen. We get it. We do.

We know: you or someone you love is immuno-compromised in some way and you really need us to take this #covid-19 thing seriously and #staythefuckathome. Please know that we are taking this seriously, we are aware of how quickly this thing “goes viral” as it were, and we know the possible severity of the illness. No one is minimizing your concerns; not trying to down-play anything; trying to follow the guidelines as best we can. I just need you to think about some other things for a minute.

You have probably seen the tweets, maybe even shared the memes about the appalling fact that millions of school-aged children may be losing their one main daily meal now that most schools have closed. There are groups popping up all over the place to help those who experience this kind of food insecurity; local restaurants offering sack lunches, mom groups cooking casseroles, etc. We all know that even these types of kindnesses will be ending soon, and that’s worrisome for sure.

What’s also worrisome is the fact that people are being bullied, judged, shamed, and threatened for meeting up with their neighbours or allowing their children to see friends; for heading out for groceries or taking their dogs for a walk. For years we have been getting pummelled with reports and studies showing us that “online” connections aren’t what we should be encouraging for our children. We have been bullied, shamed, judged, and threatened by “better” parents who limit screen or gaming time and force their kids to interact face-to-face vs. face-timing. It’s like we just can’t win. For some parents, and for some children, this current situation of self-isolation is not a viable option. Really.

I sit on the Equity Committee at my son’s school. Our biggest concern is the mental health and well-being of our students; we need to build and foster a sense of belonging within our school community. Teenagers are not doing well, y’all. Even if they have a “happy” home life, they are feeling burdened and stressed. They are lost, they are scared, and they are depressed. They are anxiety-ridden. Existential angst among 12-19 year-olds is a real thing. Nihilism is creeping in at ever younger ages. And let’s not forget, not everyone has a “happy” home life.

There are a good many kids for whom home is not a happy place, or even a safe one. What if school is the only place a child has a sense of belonging? What if their group of friends is the only real family they have? What if their English teacher or school social worker is the only adult in their lives that they can trust? What if a student’s friendship with the school custodian is the only thing keeping both of those people going? What about those kids who come to school to get a couple of hours of sleep because it isn’t safe to do so at home?

We don’t know how long this pandemic will last. Provinces, states, and countries are declaring us to be in a state of emergency. Moms and dads who are barely keeping it together on their best days will be unable to do so indefinitely. Parents who are already stressed about financial issues or worry about their job security will have those anxieties hit overdrive. Families who face food insecurity on a daily basis may fall into despair and feel nothing but hopelessness. Being in forced isolation or quarantine may make it exponentially more difficult to distract yourself from your worries or put your coping skills into play.

My mother, at 92, is more active and has a fuller schedule than many people half her age. On Mondays she has her writing group (cancelled), on Tuesdays she goes singing (cancelled), on Wednesdays she volunteers at the seniors’ rec centre (closed), on Thursdays the home nurse comes to help with her shower (so far still on). Fridays are “weekend” or her day off, and on the weekends she usually visits friends in care homes (closed) or goes to the cinema (closed) or concerts (cancelled). She is keeping herself busy with crosswords, youtube, facebook, phone calls and e-mails. She’s not bored yet, but enjoyment from those things will only last so long. She lives a two-hour drive from us and I don’t know whether I should go see her or not. I certainly don’t want to expose her to any germs, but loneliness is a bitch and I know it will set in soon.

There must be a happy medium. I think there is, I believe we can all survive this without passing germs and without going bat-shit crazy. And so, when I went for a walk yesterday and saw some neighbours sitting on their porch, I stopped and talked. Yes, we stayed 6 feet apart; no, we didn’t sip from each other’s wine glasses. When BoyGenius’ friends rode up to our house on their bikes and tried to entice him out I sent him; between the four of them these kids are dealing with anxiety, depression, self-harm, low self-esteem, a parent with cancer, ADHD (x 3) and many other stressors. They needed to get out, they needed to spend time together, and we’re only on day 3. I feel confident (enough) that they maintained a safe level of social distance while getting some social connection.

Nobody wants to spread the #coronavirus. We are not trying to kill you or your loved ones. But we may need to get out and interact. Humans are social beings. This is only the beginning. Please understand that some of us cannot simply #staythefuckathome.

For some people the virus is not the worst thing that could happen to them. Covid-19 may not be what kills them. Isolation and loneliness could. Despair. Abusive relationships. We are living in a powder keg.

If you need help during this weird and surreal time we are living in, please reach out.

#weareallinthistogether

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hey there!

Hi, hi, hi!

Shout out to the 7 or so Outlook users who started following my blog in the last couple of weeks.

Thanks, people, but really, does anyone still even use Outlook?

Whatever. I’m still here. Really. Sort of. I am.

Categories: Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , | Leave a comment

shattered

Sometimes I want to drop things in the kitchen just to see how they shatter.

Which is ridiculous, because I know that I would/do squeeze my eyes shut when something falls — pull back your feet as fast and as far as you can without falling, close your eyes, tense your muscles, hold your breath.

When something does fall and shatter on the tile floor in the kitchen (whoever thought ceramic tile and glass/china/ceramics/stonewear would do well together?) I sometimes wonder if I willed it let it happen.

I suppose that might be a superpower that would come in handy — speedy like Yoyo in S.H.I.E.L.D. or one of the many Flashes that are running around in the D.C. Universe. Fast enough to catch that falling piece of history before it’s destroyed, or even fast enough to make time pull backwards a little bit.

We all know that’s not possible but if we retreat into our heads for a bit there’s the chance that we can at least get a glimpse of the people or things that have been crushed and lost to us. Sometimes that slight spark of a bright remembrance can make things even worse but on occasion it can be the very thing we need to get us through.

If you are feeling a loss this holiday season, be it fresh and stinging or aged and nagging, I wish you the help you need to make it past the darkness; I wish you the ability to find the brightness in the memories that will warm your heart; I wish you love and light.

Categories: family, loss, love, memories, Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

colours

Today started off normally enough: get up, see that HardWorker has already left, BoyGenius is on the couch watching youtube videos, put the kettle on, take the snack bag out of the backpack, put bread in the toaster; get BoyGenius off the couch and into the shower, make him wash his hair while showing me how he does it (because although he goes through about 1/4 of a bottle of shampoo every shower, I’m pretty sure the suds never actually touch his scalp), make him do it again, go back downstairs to make tea and butter/peanut butter/jam my toast. You know, just a normal day.

My son is out the door, my toast is eaten, I’m enjoying my tea, wondering why I’m watching PacMan or Slugterra or whatever happens to be on my television screen. I see a facebook entry from one of my favourite internet storytellers/artists, Brian Andreas. I dissolve into a puddle — right there on my loveseat. I share it to my own timeline, all the while still sobbing. My day dissolves right along with me.

Last Time by Brian Andreas. Find him on facebook or at http://www.storypeople.com/

Last Time by Brian Andreas. Find him on facebook or at http://www.storypeople.com/

So now it’s 2 pm, my son has been home for lunch and gone back to school, I’ve done some laundry, had lunch (did I? — I think so), took a book back to the library, done some banking, some non-purchasing shopping, and cried. A number of times. Over and over. That facebook entry really did a number on me, and got me to thinking.

When my brother BlueEyes died in 1993 I lost a lot of colour from my life. Sure, when BoyGenius was born in 2004 I got plenty of colour back, but while there may be more than a little overlap that happens, the colours are entirely different.

My brothers were in charge of a few things while I was growing up — nothing like scheduled chores or stuff like that, but still. SkinnyGuy was in charge of paper routes and saving money and grass cutting and our television & music education and snow shovelling. He was the oldest, so all of these things made sense. BlueEyes was in charge of piano lessons and baking and making our mom feel special and a different kind of music education and taking care of me. That’s kind of what it felt like. It’s hard to explain. We never really fought, except maybe over whose turn it was to help with the dishes. We were all just there.

We got older; one by one we went off to university. We all ended up in the same city, doing various jobs over the years. We still did things together and while they both dropped some “chores” off of their lists or swapped some out, they were essentially still in charge of the same things, at least the ones that really mattered: saving money, television & music, making our mom feel special and taking care of me.

While SkinnyGuy, even in the midst of all the music, was a numbers and words kind of guy, BlueEyes was all about colour. The colours of music, the colours of feelings, the colours of travel, the colours of wool sweaters. He was in charge of all of the colours: spices from the far corners of the earth, the lighted dance floor at our favourite club, the blue of the sky at 30,000 feet, the swarm of tropical fish when you snorkel with soda crackers, Ikea duvet covers, the various shades of his eyes depending on which contacts he put in that day, argyle socks and sweaters, cherry blossoms in Washington, silk scarves from the Orient, Easter baskets from Germany, red wine from France. If you were with him you saw and felt colours everywhere. And if you couldn’t be with him he brought the colours to you. And they were actually brighter because of his smile and his sparkling eyes; his joy and excitement at being able to share these colours with you made them reach new levels of saturation.

And then he died and everything was transformed to gray scale. Oh, I still saw colour, I could still appreciate the nuances of tint and hue, but it was all muted. The bigger picture, the feelings of colour, changed to gray. Or taupe.

Eleven years later colour re-entered my life. BoyGenius came along and brought red hair and play-doh and fluorescent shoes with him. He’s managed to take over being in charge of a few things himself over his eleven + years, and while his experience with the feelings of colour still has decades to grow, I think he’ll manage just fine. So far he’s been in charge of the colours of socks and shoes, showing us that “matching” doesn’t necessarily mean exactly the same. He’s now my go-to for argyle socks, and I think his uncle would be on board with that. He’s been in charge of our wall paint choices and it’s worked out okay so far. He’s aware that the bright yellow of a bouquet of dandelions picked on his way home from school will not only brighten my day but also warm my heart. He loves the blue of the sky at 30,000 feet and how the moon can change from orange to yellow to white all in one night. He’s starting to feel the colour of the vastness of the Milky Way and I already know he feels the colour of loss when a good friend dies. BoyGenius has the bright smile and sparkling eyes that shine exponentially more powerfully when he is excited to share some newly discovered nugget of information or shiny new object; the same ones BlueEyes had.

I am grateful for my new champion of colour. I want to teach him the feeling of colour and how easy it will be for him to share all the colours. He’s definitely capable; he’s got the foundation. I hope I’m up to the teaching part.

Every day, though, every day I miss my original champion of colour. And sometimes it’s too hard to stay upbeat for the new guy on the job. Sometimes someone smiles a certain way or a song comes on the radio or you see an old photo or a new post on facebook and all of a sudden you realise that you’re at home alone and no matter how many games of Words With Friends you’ve got going on there is no one here to hold you while you cry and all the colours melt together and you’re once again left with gray. Or taupe.

Categories: family, loss, parenting | Tags: , , , , , , | 3 Comments

new year

As the new school year fast approaches (tomorrow!!) I see all sorts of “advice” or “rules” posts and articles that people have written for their children. Some are gender specific, some are grade specific, some are neither. Mine is BoyGenius specific. You might find some nuggets of wisdom in it, you might not.

My dear son, as you start this next chapter in your academic life as you head into grade 5 (seriously!??!) there are some things I want to tell you; some things you need to know. Guess what —- they are not much different than the things I told you at the start of last year, or even throughout grade 4, or 3. Take them to heart, or at least try to remember little snippets of them now and again:

  • don’t be afraid to be smart; don’t be afraid to let your smarts show
  • be respectful of others; friends, teachers, administrators, coaches
  • have fun — in the classroom, on the playground, at lunch
  • don’t let your smarts or the silliness and fun get in the way of learning
  • try not to be too frustrated when you realize that others don’t know the things you do or don’t think the way you do
  • don’t be rude
  • try to keep focused on the task at hand — if you can’t, then try to figure out why and if there is something you can do to make it better; if you need help with your focus, don’t be afraid to ask
  • stay true to yourself; you are a sweet sensitive boy with a fantastic understanding of “fairness” — please don’t give that up, as hard and as heartbreaking as it may seem to hold onto
  • come to me; remember that you can tell me anything and I won’t ever love you any less
  • if something is keeping you from learning and/or doing your best let your teacher know; if it’s the teacher, let the Mama know; marks and grades are far less important to me than you might think — you learning and loving it much more so
  • eat all of your lunch
  • write as neatly as you can
  • if you are bored please tell someone other than your friends, like me or Mommy or your teacher
  • you have every right to question anything you are being taught; please just remember to be polite and respectful when you do so, especially if pointing out mistakes or misinformation to your teacher
  • remember, Mama welcomes the dreaded “note home” from the teacher so never let that scare you
  • you and I together, kiddo, are a force worth reckoning with; I will advocate for you until the cows come home — maybe even after that — probably, yeah
  • practice your times table
  • if something or someone makes you feel uncomfortable, walk away; don’t let people suck you into doing stupid things — we’ve talked about this, remember? (Mike Hunt is not a real person. My apologies to all of the real Mike Hunts out there.)
  • keep climbing trees
  • I love you, so does Mommy
keep climbing, baby!

keep climbing, baby!

Wow, that turned out to be a long list, a lot of advice. Like I said, at least try to remember snippets of it here and there. Sure, it’s all important, but if you have this list then you don’t need to memorize it. Neither do I.

(I reserve the right to modify, expand or shrink this list at any time now or in the future, in perpetuity and forever, to infinity and beyond.)

Categories: family, parenting, Uncategorized, words | Tags: , , , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

Donna Day … wanna help?

Last year around this time a few of my bloggity friends gathered from far and wide for an event that was being held in Chicago. I Want a Dumpster Baby, From the Bungalow, Pinwheels and Poppies, The Monster in Your Closet, Mary Tyler Mom … they were all there. Trade show, bloggers convention? Nope. A St. Baldrick’s event. “What’s that?” you ask. “Some religious gathering?” Nope. A shave. A fundraiser. An event. This particular one was being held in Chicago, put together by Donna’s Good Things in memory of and to

Donna's Good Things event is being held at the Candlelite in Chicago

Donna’s Good Things event is being held at the Candlelite in Chicago

honour Donna Quirke Hornik, to raise much needed money to fund research in the hopes that one day children won’t have to fight cancer. I couldn’t attend but I was there in spirit and I did donate some cash. Donna was an amazing little girl and you can read her story here. It’s not my story to tell so I won’t do that, but it is my story to share and it is up to all of us to do the same. If you know of anyone who has fought cancer then you know how horrible it is … if you know of any child who has had to fight cancer then you know how much worse that is. If you haven’t got a clue (and even if you do), then please read Donna’s story,  her family’s story, her mother’s story. It ain’t pretty … but it’s beautiful.

So, Mary Tyler Mom (Donna’s mother) asked some people to blog today, Donna Day, about this year’s event. You can find out more about it and make a donation here (in case you didn’t see that last link). I wasn’t actually specifically asked, but you know, I didn’t need to be. Research into pediatric cancer is a big deal. It needs to be funded. We need to do this; we can make a difference. Sure, it takes scientists and money and stuff .. but we’ve got those things. Donate.

Thanks to the wonders of the internet, you don’t actually have to attend an event in order to make a donation. You don’t even have to be in the same state, province or country. You can donate to Donna’s event just by clicking through. Also thanks to this here internet, you can check to see if there might be any events in your area, if you would be more comfortable donating to or attending something like that. And by doing just that, checking for local events, I came across this little gem: a group of Tau Kappa Epsilon students from UOIT is holding an event on March 8th, 2013 at the Campus Ice Centre in Oshawa, Ontario. These young men are standing together to try to keep cancer from bullying more and more children. How can you help? Donate! You can click through and pick a certain participant to support or you can donate to the event. These guys are hoping to raise $1500 to help fund childhood cancer research. That’s not too much. I’m sure we can push them over the top. St. Baldrick’s partners with Childhood Cancer Canada Foundation so if you’re a Canuck and want your funds to go towards a Canadian organization, not to worry, they will.

Honestly, I’m not too concerned as to which St. Baldrick’s event you donate to, I just want to get you to donate. St. Baldrick’s is a good organization and like I said above, research into pediatric cancer is a big deal.

Please help.

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a new year

So here we are, 201213. I’ll get it right eventually. We always do, don’t we?

We had a fairly long holiday season, with a couple of teacher strike days, my mother visiting for three weeks, BoyGenius having 2 weeks off, Christmas and New Year’s celebrations, my brother SkinnyGuy and his girlfriend staying a couple of days, a little bit of  snow, some rain, some fierce winds, a turkey, a toasty warm fireplace and fluctuating temperatures. (Okay, so it probably seemed longer than it was, but still.) We only had one emotional breakdown (me), and it was small. We had four laptops, one desktop, one Wii, various DSes and one (sometimes two) iPads all accessing the internet at the same time. We are way over our usage limit and that reminds me, I need to change that plan. Soon.

I haven’t been here much, writing or even reading. I just haven’t really felt like it. A couple of times I’ve even felt like it would be such a chore to sit down and write something. I hate that. I’ve written and discussed *a lot* of things in my head, they just haven’t traveled down my arms to paper or keyboard. I’ll get it right eventually. Santa brought me some new coloured-ink pens and some new Sharpies! I just bought a new pencil case yesterday so I can keep them out of the reach of others. A friend gifted me with a fancy new writing implement and a gorgeous blank book, with the request that I “keep writing.” But you know what happens with a gorgeous new blank book.

Notebook for writing
Too lovely to use, though; new
Thank you anyway

I have had occasion to scribble a few Haiku here and there in my old, more portable notebook. And lists of songs I want to put on my next compilation CD(s). And grocery lists. And “to do” lists. A few things have even been crossed off. Yes, because they were accomplished.

So, a new year. With the same bills to be paid, the same laundry to be done, the same dinner arguments to have and so on and so on. Don’t get me wrong, good things happened over the holiday season. And a new year comes with all sorts of new possibilities. But when you get right down to it, isn’t every day the start of a new year?

As Chantal says, “This year is going to be incredible….”

Categories: family, friendship, music, words | Tags: , , , , , | 3 Comments

hopes and fears?

** Please note that I have many conversations with myself and do much writing in my head. Sometimes this leads to fractured thought and prose. This may be one of those times. **

 

After the last mass shooting that made the international news I thought to myself, “I’m not going to write about this, everyone else will be doing it and I don’t know that I have anything different to say.” And I didn’t. Write about it.

Yesterday afternoon, shortly before 3pm, when I heard about Newtown, CT, I thought to myself, “I can’t write about this.” This thought only occurred after my immediate reaction, which was a mish-mash of horror, nausea and resignation. Oh, and I was stunned for a bit. Then, while struggling to win the battle over the gnawing, spinning pain in by stomach I scrolled through a number of news stories and tried to keep myself from reading all of the comments people were posting (I’ll come back to this in a bit). Within minutes I realised it was time to go get BoyGenius from school.

A small knot of parents and grandparents were waiting by the doors, as we always do. There were a few comments, a small recounting of events for those who hadn’t yet heard and a collective shaking of heads. There were those who stated, as so many on facebook had, that all they wanted to do was hug their kids, go home, and hug their kids some more. I stayed away from all of that because that’s not the feeling I got. BoyGenius came bounding out the doors, we shared our signature greeting (him jumping into my arms and holding on for dear life while I spin him around until we’re both so dizzy we can barely stand), he told me there’s no school on Tuesday — 1 day teacher strike [a whole ‘nother story] and then asked if he could go to the park. I said “sure” and zipped up his hoody for him before he ran off into the woods. I didn’t pull him any more tightly to me than I usually do, I didn’t hug him longer and I didn’t tell him I needed him to stay closer to me. I told him I love him and sent him off to the park, alone, to play with his friends. That’s what I felt like doing. (Well, that and throwing up … and the throwing up part is still present, almost 24 hours later.)

I don’t want to be afraid to send my son to school every morning. I don’t want to be afraid to take him to the mall to do some shopping. I don’t want to stop going to public gatherings in fear that some gun-wielding, grievance-carrying asshole will pick that day, that gathering to attend. So I’m not, and I won’t. HardWorker thinks of these things every day. I don’t. HardWorker has way more anxiety issues anyway, and things like this just feed her fears. Then again, so do television shows about bacteria on chicken or germs in hotel rooms. I won’t live in fear. I won’t have BoyGenius live in fear. Some of HardWorker’s fears have already rubbed off on him and I fight every day to keep him from absorbing any more. I don’t want my friends with small children, my friends with grown children, my friends with soon-to-be-arriving children to be crippled by fear of the world around us. I, like others I admire, choose to live in hope. I hope that the world will someday be a better place, that everyday it is indeed becoming a better place. I hope that we will stop hurting each other. I hope that we will cure disease. I hope that we will conquer famine. I hope for a lot of things. I choose hope over fear.

There is much talk when something like this happens; in comments on news stories, on facebook, on talk shows. There is much talk about gun control, as always happens at times like these. There is much talk about holding your children tightly. There is much talk about health care and mental illness. There is much talk about the US constitution and its amendments. There is much talk about how horrible that this should happen just before Christmas. People are saddened, devastated, shocked, stunned and horrified. Some are callous and self-serving. There is much talk.

Well I’m here to tell you that talk is cheap. Talk about gun control leads NOWHERE. You know why? Because the bigger picture in that discussion is one about power and lobbying and that picture is painted in very broad strokes with brushes made of thousand dollar bills; the details are the really important considerations and those details always get painted over. Talk about holding your children tightly is all well and good, but PLEASE don’t leave it until a tragedy happens to think about doing so. Talk about health care and mental illness needs to happen but again, those talks always become about politics and power and those money-brushes whitewash everything so not enough gets accomplished. Christmas — the season of love and light, goodwill towards men; does it really matter that this happened at this time of year? Would this horribly unnecessary tragedy be any easier to bear in May? Should we not be sad or shocked or horrified? No, I’m not saying that … what I’m saying is that more importantly that any of those things, we should be angry. Angry enough to take the necessary steps to ensure that this stops happening.

Gun control? Hell yes. You want the right to bear arms? Go right ahead. But be put on notice that every time something like this happens, every time there’s an armed robbery at the corner store, every time some gang shooting occurs, YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE. Societal ills? Hell yes. Sure, everyone should be held accountable for their own actions but it’s pretty hard to swallow that what you or I or the politicians do has absolutely no bearing on the person standing next to us. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER.  Loving your kids? Of course. Love them, respect them, listen to them, teach them. KNOW THEM.

Whenever there is a mass shooting, particularly when school-aged children are involved, those who knew the perpetrator(s) have the same things to say. Either “he/she was a loner; he/she was bullied a lot; he/she always seemed to have problems or issues,” or “we never noticed anything wrong.” Both of these perspectives need to be examined. It’s like people are either saying “we always knew there was something wrong” (and nobody cared) or “we never cared enough to get to know” if things were really as good as they seemed. WE ARE ALL RESPONSIBLE FOR EACH OTHER. We need to accept that. Talking to someone might change their life. Smiling at someone may flip a switch in their head. A touch on a shoulder might let someone know that you actually see them standing next to you. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying that bad things won’t still happen just because you smile at someone. I’m not naive enough to think that the whole world can be healed with a hug. But neither am I callous or cynical enough to think that human kindness, human touch, human-ness won’t make a difference, either.

hopeToday, though. Today. It’s not about guns. It’s not about mental illness. It’s not about money or power. It’s not about your kids or my son. It’s about the families of Sandy Hook Elementary School. Parents that lost their children. Children that lost their parents. Students that lost their friends and teachers. Teachers that lost their students. It’s about a small town that will be forever changed. It’s about people whose lives have been turned upside down. Lives that may never be righted again. Let us hope collectively that they can all find peace.

Yet in thy dark streets shineth the everlasting light, the hopes and fears of all the years are met in thee tonight. May hope always wield the mightier sword.

 

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