Mister Roger and His Helpers

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Did you see the new trailer for A Beautiful Day in the Neighbourhood starring Tom Hanks? I did. I cried.

Did you see, Won’t you be my Neighbour? A documentary about Mister Rogers? I did. I cried.

I am surprised to see so many people happy and excited about this story and talk about Fred Rogers’ legacy. When I was a kid, people (adults and peers) called me a baby for watching it. I didn’t care. I watched it until I was 12. This was the first time I remember doing my own thing and not being influenced by others. I didn’t get influenced by people’s opinions until I was older, then I made the mistake of listening to people. That was stupid. I accepted really bad advice and it destroyed me. I have been working hard every day since to get me back.

When I was little, I mean LITTLE like three or four, my mom dropped me off at the childminders while she worked downstairs. I liked that I could see my mom whenever I wanted. I liked that I was free to go on imaginary adventures or go on errands with the adults looking after me. I liked having access to the red cookie tin in the cupboard. What I didn’t like was the teenager who was also there. He was mean. And by mean, I mean abusive. Verbally and emotionally, never physically. He called me stupid and ugly. He was angry all the time. He was scary. My brother and I were never rescued from him, we were told to ignore him, but what do little kids know about that? We learned to fight back. But those words of self-depreciation linger in the brain for decades. Mister Rogers rescued me.

PBS, channel 9 out of Spokane, played Sesame Street, The Electric Company, Zoom and Mister Rogers. I fell in love with Kermit the Frog and Super Grover, Morgan Freeman and Rita Moreno, learned nifty facts and felt peaceful with Mister Rogers.

I cry thinking about how safe I felt with him and he was on TV – not even in the room. But the way he looked into the camera and directly at me, made me feel special. He told me I was special. He was deliberate with kindness and gentle words. I remember him talking about being scared and looking for helpers. When I was five and began kindergarten, I was able to go to my great grandmother’s home after school. She sat with me every day after school to hear about my day. She asked me questions to understand my story better. We had tea and digestive biscuits with cheese and sometimes peanut butter pirate cookies. But every time I was in her presence she would look me in the eye and make me feel special. The same way Mister Rogers did. Now I had two adults who told me I was special and I mattered. I can transport myself back into my ‘Little’ Gram’s kitchen in an instant. She had her spot at the large round table that no one ever sat in and I sat beside her. I can still smell Red Rose Tea steeping in the corning wear teapot. I remember looking out into the back yard and seeing the rusty old swing set. Later on, that window was covered up by a three-season addition and it made the kitchen dark, but it still felt the same.

Maya Angelou said once you forget the things people do but you always remember how they made you feel. Mister Rogers and Little Gram made me feel important and special. I think my Little Gram was one of Mister Rogers’ helpers.

Maya Angelou told Oprah once, “You will never know what your legacy is.” Mister Rogers’ knew he made a difference to children but the vast reach of his influence he never truly knew. If a little girl in a small town in Alberta was affected by him, imagine how far his reach was after decades of being on TV. I am sure it is infinite.

As an adult, I take the time to listen to kids and ask questions to understand the story better. I let people know they are special and they matter, especially to me. Knowing you matter is one thing, but knowing you matter to someone is extra special. I have become one of Mister Rogers’ Helpers. If you need me, I am here. If you are abusive, I wish you well and send you on your way because kindness matters.

Think about your words. You may think they are kind – but would you like them to be spoken to you? Kindness matters, it’s your legacy. You have no idea how many people you will touch that are influenced by your words. Thank you, Mister Rogers.

Words Matter

I am invisible. 

I am insignificant.

My feelings are inconsequential. 

These are phrases that I was supposed to own as my label. 

The  conversation began with “My wife doesn’t like you.” Then the conversation continued to list all the things that were wrong with me. If I wanted people to like me then there was a list of things I needed to do to win the respect of everyone and continue to be part of the group.

If you know me or even spend 10 minutes with me, then you can probably figure out what my reaction was. I walked away. 

What I didn’t expect was everyone else walked away from me. A line was drawn and I watch everyone from the outside. I see them continue to meet yearly and participate in the hurtful hate rhetoric that is fundamental to their persona. I see others become pawns and are used or victims of hate speech or inappropriate actions that are meant to be ‘fun’.

Words matter. 

I thought I was done. 

I am confronted once again with a cast ‘mean girls’ (obviously a metaphor because no one is a girl). Not allowing people to sit with you at a party. Sacrificing teamwork for process  to force people into a box. Accusing a disabled man of unspeakable crimes so they can maintain money and power. Using words in a passive-aggressive manner as an effort to manipulate. Casting out people who have always worked hard to support you because a charlatan told you a story and you believed him. Lying about your situation so you can gain sympathy. This weighs heavy on me and my instinct is to walk away because high school was a long time ago. 

Words matter.

When I look at this repetitive scenario I think why am I doomed to repeat this endless cycle of hate speech and abusive patterns? Because self, you haven’t finished learning the lesson that stems from this. I asked myself through a series of reflections and meditations, “What do I need to learn from this?” 

It came to me on Saturday morning, 3:00 am to be exact. I need to show leadership and stand up for the underdog. I need to facilitate teamwork. I need to role model kindness. I need to be the change I wish to see. It won’t change the world but it will change my corner. This isn’t a Us vs Them scenario. This is an opportunity to raise everyone up to the same level. Fight the good fight.

It reminded me of my dad. 

When I was twelve, my family was eating at McDonald’s. A woman was standing in line screaming at her young daughter. The girl was sobbing on the floor and clinging to the leg of her mother begging her to stop. The women kicked her repeatedly. The restaurant was silently looking on in horror. My father stood up and walked over to the woman and demanded she stop. He said, “You don’t kick children, children are helpless. What is wrong with you?” The woman told my dad to F*** himself and mind his own business. He said no. He wasn’t going to let her kick the child.  It was like a switch went off in her. She stopped but continued to hurl abusive insults at my dad. He stood there like a shield absorbing the hate to protect that girl.  He eventually joined us again for and finished his dinner. My brother asked why he did it. My dad replied, “Because it was the right thing.” 

Since that day I have always made an effort to do the right thing. To protect children and animals because they are fragile. I made a career out of advocacy and non-profit organizations. Recently I have expanded it to warning women of predatory behaviour from men I know. I advocate where I can for indigenous rights because as a white person, I have the power to get other white people to understand. I remind people to say women instead of girls when referring to adults. All of these are superficial things that are easy to do. I ask questions that get people to think about standing in someone else’s shoes. But now I am back in the thick of it and am the recipient of hurtful actions and language. I know I am not alone. I think I am one of the helpers Mr. Rogers tells you to look for. I need to roll my sleeves and help for real. Stop taking the easy way out.  Put words into actions because, words matter. 

Journalist Joshua McKerrow explains it better than I can. Give this a read because, words matter. 

Practice

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To get better at anything, you have to practice. The consistency of practice was never something I embraced. When I was learning piano, I would sightread. When I sat for a test, I relied on my memory. I had skills that would save me and get me by. My mom always said, if you put just a little effort into it, imagine how great you could be? I was thinking, why be great when lazy was easy?

I am inspired by a friend from my childhood. We are facebook friends now. We never chat on the phone, nor do we meet up when in each other’s town. I am not outgoing in my personal life and keeping great friendships takes an effort or practice. Neither of which I am all that interested in. This friend of mine is a writer. She has a desire to be a published author. Just like me. We have many things in common still and as long as I can remember I have admired her. She introduced me to music genres that were foreign to me. She taught me about sports the way I hadn’t learned before and she understands politics in a way that resonates with me. For all of these things, she made an effort to work at or at the very least, she put in enough effort to make it look like an effort. I know how that works. Do just enough to do well.

My friend from Junior High has begun blogging again. Not for me, not for you but for her. She is writing with the intent to improve her skill. I stopped blogging in a way that was meaningful to me because someone said it bothered them. So I stopped and just documented things I saw. In doing so I lost a piece of me. I use writing as a tool to sort out my thoughts and ideas. It helps me understand what I am thinking before I realize what it running through my mind.

Friday night I spoke on the phone with one of my very best friends. I learned some new things about his life and learned some new things about mine. I thought about some of the new things and found myself angry at the circumstances. Angry in a way I hadn’t felt in a long time. This triggered other things in me and before I knew it, I was angry at a lot of ridiculous things. I texted him and asked rhetorically, “what is wrong with me today?” and he gave me a wonderful piece of advice. He said, “no idea. Breathe in, breathe out, and ask yourself why should what she does ruin one minute out of your day?”

Good point friend. Why indeed? She isn’t thinking about me at all. This is usually the advice I give people. It’s not often I need it given to me. But that is why friends are important. I have a few who will speak to me in a frank and honest manner. I suppose that is why I love them. I asked the universe for a friend who I could have deep and meaningful conversations with. I was given three. One I travel with. One I drink wine with. One I read with. I know I can call them when I need them and they will always be brutally honest with me.

During this time in history when the world is angry all the time. Places I used to go for fun are now frustrating and hurtful. It is comforting to know I have people who have my back and will talk me down from the ledge when I need it. I will continue to nurture those relationships, but more importantly, I need to write. I need to get my thoughts out. I need to continue to improve. Practice until it is easy and then practice some more because I need to do this for me.

You can expect this to be a different space. This is, after all, my blog.

Then They Came for Me

Listening to everyone, you would think the world is on fire.

It is not and we are all going to be okay.

I was listening to a Scott Hamilton video this morning. He is facing his 3rd regrowth of a Brain Tumour. Do you know what he said?

“You set the tone.”

Every now and then I hear words that knock me off my feet. This was one of them. Recently – well since January –  I gave up behaviours because I lost track of my direction, sense of self and most importantly, my values.

Values encompass who I am. When I participate in activities that stray from my values I feel lost.

I value kindness. This means finding humour in someone’s misfortune is not kind. I had friends  people I knew where this was their hourly fun. I didn’t agree with it but I passively stood by. I have deep regret over this.

There is a meme traveling around the inter webs  about passively standing by.

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This is very relevant today because of the hate being spewed by people. This isn’t new, we experience this in every decade, genocide to cleanse the earth and create superior beings.

I can absolutely relate. I stood passively by and January 16, 2016 they came for me. Granted it wasn’t a world-wide catastrophe. But I do believe the world relies on individuals standing up for right. I failed to do that for for 2 years. I stood passively by and then they turned on me.

I think this is why Scott Hamilton’s words ring so powerfully to me.

“You set the tone.”

Yes I do. I used to long before then and for some reason I did not. But this too is a learning lesson. I learned what happens when you dangerously think, not me.

My entire life I was taught to champion the underdog. It does not make you popular and perhaps that is what I wanted to experience. I wanted to know what that felt light. All I can say is for me it felt like a lie. It was stressful and hurtful and it removed me from my values.

I was 9 when the doorbell rang. A girl I didn’t know very well was standing at the door and wanted to hang out. By being her friend I knew I would give myself the reputation of undesirable. There was nothing wrong with her, but this is how the kids at school marginalized her. I turned her away. My dad called me over to him and gave me a powerful lesson in empathy. How do I think she feels right at this moment? How would you feel? What could you have done to improve this situation?

I put my shoes on and went after her. All I could do was apologize and invite her back.

She did the right thing and threw it back into my face. I deserved that and it stuck with me. It was one of my greatest learning lessons. I went back to my dad and he said, “Well, what did you think would happen?” I thought an apology would fix everything. I  learned that day it does not. That was the second greatest learning lesson of my life.

I eventually learned to balance the need for empathy and kindness between others and myself. It is easy to lose yourself. It is just as important to be kind to yourself as it is to be kind to others. I can forgive others but have a harder time forgiving myself. My passive behaviour of not standing up against bullies over the past two years taught me many things.

The most important thing it taught me was be yourself. Listen to that inner voice and follow that inner compass. It lets you know who you can trust and who you can’t. It tells you to stand up for those who don’t have a voice.

I am now that person who annoys people because I speak up when tears are streaming down the faces of others. I say things that are not popular but defend the weak and vulnerable. I cannot change the World but I can change my corner and in the end, that is all I need because that is where I live. I have lost friends people but I only want to be around people who are nice, kind, compassionate and empathetic. I encounter enough people who are not and don’t need that during my personal time.

You set the tone.

 

Spirit of Edmonton 

It has been an emotional week. My co-worker gave me this.

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I live in Edmonton. about 8 hours south of Fort McMurray. The McMurray fire is larger than the City of Calgary. 2000 square kilometres. 80,000 people have been displaced from their homes. I refuse to use refugees because these people are fellow Canadians, they are Albertans, they are family. They are not coming from a different country, they belong to us. They need to be rescued. They need compassion and they need help.

I have been overwhelmed but the generosity of Canadians but by Edmontonians is particular. People have opened their homes. Facebook after Facebook post was “I have room for a family” “I have farmland that can hold 100 RVs”, “I have $10000 to give”, “I have pasture for horses”and the list keeps growing.

80 000 people have been displaced while Fort McMurray burns to the ground. Families are homeless, Adults are unemployed and yet the city keeps giving. The amount of love that is felt is overwhelming. I cried when the Syrian Refugees who came to Canada banded together to give what little they had because they understood how Fort Mac felt. Think about that.

I sat in my living room yesterday and surveyed my surroundings. What would I take with 15 minutes to decide? Easy, All my important papers, my ID and passport, food for my dog, and the same for my family. It makes moving from my home seem really easy because suddenly you take inventory of what is important and my home is filled with stuff. Not very many things are important. I don’t have an attachment to things, I have an attachment to people and animals. It is times like this that you really understand what you need and what is not necessary.

It makes me think about the hate I see in media coming from the elections in the US. It makes me think about the hate coming from the middle east and it makes me think about the rivalries between races and religions. All of these things do not matter when you are shown disaster on this level. All that matters is what can you do to help. Not everyone can give with monetary items but everyone can give of time and effort. Everyone can give with kind words and gestures.

I met a women yesterday who was evacuated from Fort Mac. All she had was the clothes on her back and her purse. She went to Northlands to check in and services were there to help her get started with survival. She is now in temporary lodging but has been giving money for the immediate. She was buying clothes because she had none. Women were surrounding her in ways that gave me hope for humanity. Several women chipped in and bought her clothes, another gave her a Tim’s card for food, and another offered her house as a safe place to live. We all cried and hugged and she could not express how overwhelmed she was with the generosity of Edmonton. There is no where I’d rather live than here. Here in Canada. We are a nation of amazing people.

In the months ahead, I fear the fires will spread and most of the province will burn to the ground. We have had very little snow and no rain. We have been in a drought cycle for a long time with no end in sight. It will get worse before it gets better.

I need to remember but for the grace of God go I. Next time it could be me. Be grateful for what you have, give where you can and hug your family a little tighter tonight. You are one of the lucky ones.

 

#WhyIRun

I was challenged this morning by my coach Brian

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at Running Down a Dream23 to post a video about #whyIRun.

That was easy.

I run for all sorts of reasons, but I started because someone told me I couldn’t. Nothing gets my dander up more than being told I am not capable. I narrow my eyes, focus on the goal and say in the dreaded whisper I give my staff “Watch me”.

I also run because I believe in being kind. You may be asking yourself, “What has that got to do with running?” I figure, if I have to work anyways…work to make a difference.

If I am going to run, I might as well raise money for a great cause. Check!

My cause is simple. I run to support children and their families who cannot help themselves and are in need of support. That is also a big reason why I am proud to say I help start a charitable foundation from the ground up. We are still little but I have a vision and just like the reason why I run, don’t tell me I can’t do it. I will drag you, Mount Robson and part the Red Sea to make it happen. People who are nay sayers have tunnel vision, are somehow misguided as to my reason for the charity and think I am in competition. Let’s get one thing straight right now. Any charity that helps children and their families who cannot help themselves is not in competition with me, they are in PARTNERSHIP with me. It will take a boatload of kindness to change the world. If we all work together we can change the world. I believe it to be true and it will happen. It just might take longer than expected.

Giving of self for others is a HUGE reason why I run…HUGE.

The other reason of course…this is a no brainer, is COOKIES

jammie_dodgers_2655228b chocolate-chip-cookies ba70b2e156ac36981dff4a301bddedbbDamn I love cookies. They are a ritual in my #CivilizedSaturdays and are that special treat for me where they used to be my daily/hourly food of choice.

I lost 5lbs in January. Total over three years 117lbs. I’m about half way. Think about that.

I have a lot of extra skin now. I am not ready to have it removed because it will interfere with my goals this year. Next year I will take care of the that. But I look back at photos of me, old clothes I used to wear. I got rid of everything except one pair of pants, and they kinda look like circus pants. They don’t have a fly because they didn’t put zippers in pants that big. But then someone says something to me about how heavy I am and I think…. you small minded F#$%T%#$

It sure doesn’t take long for someone to be mean.

JUST BE NICE PEOPLE! Jeeze… it isn’t hard! Okay, it takes practice to be nice, but it IS doable!!

Meanwhile….back to #WhyIRun

I am going to challenge YOU all of YOU who read this blog to do 3 things:

1. go friend me on Facebook because its fun and then I can see your video a little easier

2. Record a video and challenge 3 friends to comment on why they run. Tag me in it so I can see it.

3. Use Hashtag #WhyIRun #whyIWalk

Here is ME challenging YOU. I feel like Romper Room, I see Karen and Sharon and Tiffany and Scootadoot and Chef, I see Jenny and Ebone and Barbara and Cristina and Patty, I see Tammy and Mer and Charlotte and Kathy, well, I see all of you.

Let’s inspire the world to move more.

So, I hear you Quit: Deuxième Partie

A week ago I wrote this: So, I hear you Quit…

Since then I have had a lot of private messages come through from fat gals like me.

When I write, I get it out and then walk away. I haven’t given much thought to the blog post since I published it. But its resonated with readers, so I went back and re-read what I wrote.

I cried all over again. DAMN YOU TOURIST PEEPS!

Okay, not really, I appreciate you and the way you make me think and feel. Apparently, you appreciate me for those same reasons.

Lots of the newsy letters and comments from you had a common theme.

  1. People are judgey
  2. Boys are mean
  3. People like it when others fail
  4. Honesty is raw and strikes a cord

Lets just get this out the of the way and then I will answer questions and respond to your comments, okay?

First things First:

Write this out and fill in the blanks, sign it and date it. Put it somewhere to light the fire you are needing to get this show on the road.

Dear (insert the name of the person who hurts you most) ______________,

I am tired of crying because of the thoughts and words that you express about me. I am tired of you telling me that I am not going to make it or I shouldn’t even try because I was not (insert adjective of your choice – in my case its READY/FIT/PREPARED).

Without your help or support I will let you know I did a myriad of things that you deemed impossible. I succeeded in spite of you and I will succeed again. And when I do, you will be the LAST PERSON ON EARTH I will celebrate with. I will turn to those who high fived me, cheered for me, cried with me, gave me a hand up, quietly supported me and secretly knew I could do it. 

I am sick to death of supporting you and being the one you lean on in this one-sided relationship. Grow a pair, and I mean ovaries because balls are just too tender and delicate for this situation. You are my emotional vampire and quite frankly I just don’t need the drama. 

When I cross the finish line/graduate/lose weight/find a career, you being there won’t make a whit of difference because you didn’t help me get there in the first place. So stay home and sulk, because it’s not about you and you wish it was. Do yourself a favour and set some goals, then maybe you will finally understand what this whole exercise is about. 

For the official record, this is my plan for the year:

I am going to (insert your major goal here)

This is how I plan to achieve it (list the steps you will take to achieve your goal here)

This is how I plan to celebrate my success (insert the celebration of choice here)

Suckit.

Sincerely,

Me (sign your name here)

Now that you have filled it out, take a deep breath.

Your person who is blocking/sabotaging/jealous of your dreams/goals/abilities is honestly not thinking all that hard about you. They don’t think you can do it, the end. They don’t lay awake at night thinking about you. They lay awake at night thinking about them. They think about stupid stuff like, how can I get what I want by getting (you) to do it for me? Or I wonder if that sale on those great boots is still on, or damn its hot in here, I hate this Old Lady Hot business.

Truth.

We all think everyone is thinking about us but its not true. WE think about us. We dwell on comments made in passing and read more into things than are necessary…. well, I do anyways. And after reading so many of your stories, a lot of you do the same thing. If I am being honest, I much rather people be judgey to my face so I can fight back than if they silently click their teeth at me and I can’t defend myself.

So on that note,lets deal with the list of common themes from you.

1. People are Judgey. Hells yes they are! But you are too. You judge them right back for being judged. Its this never ending circular movement that makes my head spin. Here is what I am going to do about it.

Do my own thing with or without approval.

Boom.

My goal will be reached. Then End. Do I care that I don’t have the support I crave? Hells yes I do! But wanting it and having it are two very different things. I will carry on and complete my goals and Boom… I win, The End. So the moral of this story? JUST BE NICE PEOPLE!

2. Boys are Mean. No argument there. Boys are mean, but so are girls. That’s right, I called you on it. GIRLS ARE SO MEAN TOO! The big problem here is that males are different from females so it gets foggy in terms of hurt feelings. What one person calls truth another calls mean. its complicated. My boys were hurtful to me, but I was hurtful back. The End. Humans are stupid. Just BE NICE PEOPLE! 

3. People like it when others fail. This is human nature. I know a gal who yelled some smack that was shocking to hear. She said “someone is lying and it aint me”. True, but she was loving that the other person was failing. I wish I could say I am above this, but I heard that someone who annoys me failed and I felt smug… I didn’t want to admit it because I knew that it was shameful that I felt this way… but there was me feeling it anyways. At least I had the good sense to keep it to myself. Feelings just are. You can’t control them you can’t manipulate them, they exist without your permission. What you can do is control what you do with them. From NOT TEXTING stupid stuff, to biting your tongue when necessary. Kicking someone when they are down is inhumane and just plain cruel. You should be able to tell when a person is down, and not laughing at themselves. If you can’t, you need social queues to help you. There are books for this. But most people can figure it out. So whats the plan? JUST BE NICE PEOPLE!

4. Honesty is RAW and Strikes a cord. Hells ya! You know what annoys me? When someone is just plain mean and says “I’m just being honest” Really? Or are you Judgey, mean and enjoying the fail? Honesty can take a couple of forms, 1) your friend is being an idiot and you say “What the hell are you doing? SNAP OUT OF IT MAN!” Calling someone on their actions is not the same as calling them a douche bag. Its just not. And 2) so and so did this and blablabla… That’s gossip, not honesty. Gossip is hurtful. If you wouldn’t talk to your friend about it and can’t say it to their face, its not honesty, its gossip. Totally different. Honesty can be kind and painful, but not hurtful.

Here is what I mean, 1) you are a very thoughtful person. See how that was kind and true? That’s honesty. Now, here is painful honesty, 2) when you did this _______, I felt this __________. Ouch but important to know your actions cause pain. That way you can change your act.

The bottom Line? BE NICE PEOPLE! Why is this so hard?

I don’t have an answer, I just know its hard.

So here is my goal plan:

I am running Dumbo Double Dare the September long weekend.

I am doing strength training on my knee to get it into the best possible shape before I start running again.

I will run 4 times a week, include hill training, speed work and LSDs. Core and muscle work will continue as well as weight loss.

I will cross the finish line, get my photo taken and wear my medal around my neck all damn day, then drink to my success. I am dripping with confidence.

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There you have it, my goal. Simple and it doesn’t require help. I will not turn down support, but I have enough going on that I don’t need to search for support. Once bitten, twice shy and all that jazz. I know who my supporters are, they hugged me when I failed. They will hug me when I succeed.

Boom

The End

And for crying out loud…. JUST BE NICE PEOPLE!

With Great Failure comes Great Learning

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I am ready to say good-bye to 2014. It has been not as difficult as I think it was but it has been challenging both physically and emotionaly. I have not been able to finish any race healthy. Not one, not even a 5km distance. This frustrates me beyond words and I have learned more about self-love, self-kindness and patience in a single year than I have learned over my lifetime.

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Emotionally it was strange not to have to juggle school and life. But I learned about work and life in ways that I had never experienced before. My new job taught me more about empathy and compassion than one might think…especially since I was a teacher of young children with special needs and circumstances that was unbelievable to most – yet all true. The job I have now is not my ‘dream job’ because I have no idea what that means anymore. I like lots of thing about it, hate lots of things about it, but mostly it keeps me busy, validates that I am great at some things and not so great at others and work for a gentleman who in all respects has taught me more about empathy, compassion and self then any other human I have worked for.

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I have worked for some people who were just mean, some who worried endlessly over what others thought of them, they failed to do the right thing, some who were ambivalent and some whose values clashed with mine so severely…I had to leave.

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Values are important to me. I have learned that compromising values means compromising self. I am worth too much to compromise self. I no longer struggle with what others think or assume. I could honestly care less – unless that person is someone I value. Then I step back and examine my actions.

I failed at that this year.

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I stumbled upon the artwork of Banksy today and his urban art made me really think about my humanity in ways I haven’t explored before. I discovered that I’d rather be the kind human rather than the judgmental busybody. Flipping through Banksy’s art had me thinking about my dad and how he always said, “It never hurts to be kind and polite. You don’t have to agree with people, but kindness goes a long way.”

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I discovered a truth this year that shook me to my core. I felt like a fool, I couldn’t believe the impact of the findings could devastate me the way they did. Over a period of many years I thought “IT” was true only to discover that I was duped. Had I know about ‘IT’ when it happened, my life would be very different today. I feel like I wasted so much of my life…if only I had known. If only….

So that left me with some choices. I immediately was angry, hurt and judgemental. When I think about it still, I get very angry. Letting it go has been incredibly difficult. One side of the story was easier for me to be empathetic towards than the other. But when I examined both very carefully, I realized I understood the why and was able to let the anger go and morph it into something akin to pity. How much easier it would have been to know the truth right from the beginning. Clearly this was Karma teaching me a life lesson.

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I have distance myself from the incident. It clashes with values I have and if others don’t share them, then perhaps they weren’t the friends I first thought they were. I have worked hard at not judging. HARD. I never want to be that bitter old woman clicking her teeth because I have judged.

Because I like the human compassionate side of me more than the angry mean side of me, I reached out to one of those friends today.

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I want her to know I understand her loneliness, I understand her need to feel desired and wanted. I understand her not feeling important. I also want her to know, she can do better. There are things she can do to change her life. She isn’t stuck where she is. The choices she made will not rescue her. He isn’t real. That is the fake him and he can’t be trusted.

I suppose that is why it hurt so much. I know the fake him and I guess don’t know the real him.

I learned a very hard lesson a few years ago about honesty and empathy. Empathy is the key. Putting yourself in other’s shoes becomes an impactful reason for honesty IF THESE PEOPLE ARE IMPORTANT TO YOU.

If they aren’t then the questions remain: Why do you stay? Why is everything a secret and for crying out loud, why are you lying?

The answer is simple.

You are afraid of hurting. You may be afraid of hurting yourself or the other person, but either way it makes you scared.

Simple truth.

If it has to be a secret, it is hurting someone.

As difficult as this year has been, my grinchy heart grew three sizes this year.

And what happened then–well, in Whoville they say
That the Grinch’s small heart grew three sizes that day.
And then the true meaning of Christmas came through,
And the Grinch found the strength of ten Grinches–plus two.

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The Gun Man

I have been reading a lot of posts from Canadians condemning the American’s right to bare arms. Oh Canada, take care of your own backyard before you start judging our neighbours to the south.

I am a Canadian, born and raised. I have worked in Canadian elementary schools most of my adult life. I have been in lockdown situations more than I care to think about. 3 of those occasions were because of a gunman. Gun laws and stricter school policy are not going to change school shootings. Only you will.

The man-child who was involved in the Connecticut shootings was the son of a substitute teacher. He was disgruntled about something. The school has a policy of keeping the children locked in for their safety. The school recognized him. let him in and he went on a rampage. The school policy didn’t save those children. Strict gun laws about assault weapons didn’t protect those children.

Teachers lost their lives to protect your children. They huddled in corners and closets keeping the children quiet and safe. When children cried, teachers would gently take the child’s face into their hands and whisper, “It will be okay, we will be safe. I won’t let anything happen to you.” The teachers lived up to their promise as best they could.

People who wonder why need to look at the broader picture. changing policy and laws won’t help very much other than making life more complicated for the average law abiding citizen. If someone wants a gun, they will find away. If someone wants to create a bomb, they will find a way. We need to think about why these people want these things.

Removing the stigma of mental health issues will help but so will kindness and empathy. Be kind to people, listen to people when they want to talk. Ask people questions about how they are and mean it. Be intentional with kindness and compassion. It may not save everyone but the world will be a better place for.

Peace and kindness is all I ask.