No Justice

I think I have just reached a new low in my opinion of some people.

A few months ago, I read an article about a junior high teacher from Idaho, Robert Crosland, who fed a live puppy to a class snapping turtle in front of students.

You read that right: LIVING PUPPY. Alive. Breathing. Warm. PUPPY! Not a feeder fish, as is the norm. A puppy.

I’m still actually reeling at the mental image.

It took place after school, although some students were in attendance, and when the students told their parents, some of them were equally as appalled as I and had him charged. He was charged with a misdemeanor for animal cruelty. snapping-turtle-anatomy

His explanation: the puppy was sick and wasn’t going to survive, and the turtle needed food or he would be suffering, so feeding the pup to the turtle solved two problems. The pup was put out of its misery and the turtle got fed.

Seriously?

At this point, I’m pretty much falling onto the floor in shock. But it gets worse.

THE COURTS BOUGHT IT!

He was found not guilty! His explanation was accepted by the courts, especially after the students testified they saw nothing wrong with what he did. His defense lawyer stated after the case was heard, “…and because it was a puppy that people humanize and bring into their home they felt that he created some suffering for this animal when in fact if he would have failed to feed his turtle that would be suffering so he was in a situation where he was doing what was in the best interest of his animals and not waste a life and teach students the circle of life.”

845524438-alligator-snapping-turtle-lurking-fish-species-eating-animal

CIRCLE OF LIFE!!

So now I’m pretty much a puddle on the floor, trying to scrape myself back together, and I think “who are these people? how can they justify out-and-out murder of a puppy?” The puppy should have been to the vet, which he either didn’t do (this wasn’t clear) or if he did and the treatment was not effective, it should have been appropriately euthanized.

Before the turtle even enters the picture, this man has already mistreated the puppy. At this point, it is already a case for the SPCA. He pretty much denied necessary medical treatment to an animal for which he was in charge.

Why did he need to feed the turtle a dog to prevent the turtle’s suffering? Was it not being fed regularly? Was the turtle starving? It sounds like there a possible case for mistreatment of  BOTH animals.

In addition, the courts did not feel feeding the puppy to the turtle caused the puppy any suffering. No suffering being snapped into bloody pieces and eaten alive, trying to swim for its life. No suffering there at all, according to the powers that be.

But no. Not guilty was the verdict. Not guilty for not providing the necessities of life to two creatures, not guilty of causing unnecessary suffering, not guilty of playing God by taking the life of a puppy, not guilty of breaking any SPCA basic tenets, not guilty of showing students a laissez-faire attitude towards one living creature because he justified that he was not wasting a life. In fact, the defense suggested people only brought the charges in the first place because it was a puppy, a creature we bring into our homes and “humanize”.

puppy

NOT turtle food.

I don’t know a whole lot about snapping turtles, but I’m pretty sure puppies are not their natural food, so the excuse of showing the students “the circle of life” is a real stretch. I can, however, see young students accepting this because he, after all, is a teacher, an authority figure. What I did not expect was the adults in this situation falling for it.

As far as I’m concerned, this was a flagrant abuse of an animal (maybe two) based on the Animal Protection Acts we employ, and as appalled as I am at his actions, I’m even more dismayed that it was accepted.

This is why we need animal activists. This is why we need to make our voices louder. For every case that comes to the public eye, how many are going unreported? How many children are watching the abuse and assuming it’s acceptable, and even worse, normal?

There is no need to wonder why the world is the way it is when people can treat the weakest and smallest among us in this way, and not just get away with it, but have it condoned by our legal system. This is the same system we count on to find the truth and to implement justice for ourselves.

It makes me scared.

 

 

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Why Veganuary?

The month of January is often a time when people make resolutions to themselves to improve their lives. Most of these resolutions go unfulfilled – usually because the project feels bigger than them once they get into it. Often, the challenge is too big, the immediate rewards too small, and the support non-existent.

Choosing to go Vegan is one of those commitments that is totally overwhelming to many people, despite how they feel about the cruel treatment of factory-farmed animals and the effects on the environment. Many people are able to disconnect from the facts: they can’t watch a video of a live male chick being put into a grinder simply because he has no value if he can’t lay eggs, but they can tuck into their eggs benny without a thought. This is called “cognitive dissonance” and humans are masters at it.

cow-burger

They don’t feel like people do……really? That looks like fear to me.

We sign petitions against the Yulin Festival, where dogs are rounded up, imprisoned, and slaughtered for traditional dinner fare but don’t give a thought to the geese force-fed tubes of food down their throats to painfully fatten their liver for foie gras or cows hung upside down while alive, watching in abject terror as their throats are cut and their lifeblood empties onto the filthy concrete below them while we at our steaks.

See? Cognitive dissonance.

Cargill_Kam_03

This is a Canadian plant.

People can eat plant-based diets strictly for nutritional reasons but that is not necessarily Vegan. Being Vegan is a lifestyle, not just a diet. Being Vegan is a choice bound in the ethics and morality of not harming any other living, sentient beings. This includes not eating them, not wearing them, not using them and their by-products for any use whatsoever. No leather car seats or handbags and shoes. No down-filled parkas. No fur-lined collars. No make up used to test on animals. No candies using gelatin made from hooves and bones.

b_downer_kicked

Not a daunting endeavour from where I’m sitting….or for this poor baby pig either.

Wow there’s a lot out there Vegans willingly forgo in the name of compassion.

Veganism seems like a pretty daunting endeavour!

This is why I like the idea of Veganuary, for those who would like to go Vegan, but find the commitment daunting. (Link to the Veganuary plan included here.)

Let’s draw up a good old-fashioned pro/con list to put things in some perspective. I love lists. Putting everything down in black and white (made even more fun using coloured GEL PENS – with sparkles!) really helps me keep organized and feel less overwhelmed. The fact that I forget the lists at home notwithstanding, it’s the actual drawing up of the list that is key.

Pros

  • According to PETA 198 animals are saved (that is not produced for slaughter) each year by one Vegan. WOW!
  • Improved health: no cholesterol, lower blood pressure, reduction of the risk of heart disease and diabetes, weight loss, improved skin and hair, more energy, lower risk of developing many cancers.
  • Helping the planet and the environment: most greenhouse gases emitted are caused by animal agriculture, not fossil fuel-based vehicles.
  • End world hunger: livestock takes up 80 per cent of agricultural land by either raising it or raising the food needed for the livestock. If that food were used for humans, it would end world hunger.
  • Rainforests and animal habitats would not be destroyed to create agricultural land to raise or feed livestock.
  • With an appropriate plan in place, farmers, field workers and labourers would still have jobs and earn a living without factory-farming.
  • Animals currently on the endangered list would repopulate due to habitat retrieval.
  • Oceans would become replete with sea life once again.
  • Our air and water would detoxify.

Wow. That’s some good stuff. Now the cons.

Cons

  • …………………..
  • no bacon. NOT TRUE! bacon can be recreated in many meat-free carcinogenic-free ways. Not a valid con. Next
  • Our agricultural animals would go extinct. The farm animals we have were bred to be docile and caged. It would be more difficult for them to exist in the wild, but not impossible. There are many docile animals who live, eat and procreate successfully in the wild. Obviously we would house our domesticated animals and care for them  while gradually allowing their numbers to adjust through natural processes and in time, they would develop appropriate methods for survival. Survival of the fittest has always been nature’s way long before humans interfered.
  • We need animal protein and fats to stay healthy. ALSO NOT TRUE! Many of our largest mammals are vegan, and I don’t think any of us would want to take them on to prove their muscles aren’t just fine, thankyouverymuch! We do not need animal protein. Protein is protein. Building blocks of our muscles yes. Plant-based protein is cheaper, easier to get, cholesterol free, delicious, and cruelty free and more beneficial as there are no cholesterols or carcinogens.

Ok. These are just some of the pros and cons. I think they are the most important ones, or at least the ones most addressed by omnivores.

I also think in looking at this list the choice is a no-brainer. #govegan.

Veganuary is not just a time but it is also a very do-able plan allowing those who are vegan-curious or a bit timid to give it a try with no risk. The Veganuary plan is online, offers recipes and nutrition tips, has tons of information, and tons of support! It explains why there is no humane slaughter, why free range is a myth, and provides oodles and oodles of excellent fact-based information.

One month. One site. One life: yours.

 

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#MeToo #BabyItsColdOutside

Have we all gone off the deep end?

2017 and ’18 have been landmark years for the #MeToo Movement, and that’s not a bad thing. In October of 2017, actor Alyssa Milano tweeted the phrase #metoo and encouraged others to do the same as an attempt to bring the magnitude of sexual harassment and assault in the workplace to the forefront of our attention. She was drawing the phrase from social activist Tarana Burke, who first coined the phrase in 2006 on her MySpace page to promote “empowerment through empathy” for women of colour who have experienced sexual abuse ” as Wikipedia states. 380

Is there a woman among us who hasn’t? If so, you are very, very lucky.

According to Canadianwomen.org, in 2014, Stats Canada reported 43 per cent of Canadian women had been sexually harassed/ assaulted in the workplace – and not all women report their abuse, so one can safely assume we are well past the 50 per cent marker. Between 2009 and 2013, women’s sexual abuse by an intimate partner rose by 17 per cent – again, not all are reported. Sexual assaults against women is the only violent crime in Canada that is NOT declining.

Those numbers represent a defining expectation of a woman’s role in our society. A role we have been forced to assume for millennia, and despite education and enlightenment, we have not been able to shake off those shackles of our gender. According to an article in Macleans, we still only earn 74 cents on the dollar as compared to men in Canada! They calculate an 8 per cent wage gap between women and men. Why? guns-marriage-vaginas-58b8cdc43df78c353c216c72

Because we don’t have a penis.

#MeToo is all about fighting back. I support it, wholeheartedly. And you should too – both women and men! (Guys can be sexually harassed too – and most guys I know have mothers, some have sisters, even daughters – pretty sure they wouldn’t want to think of them being hurt this way).

I have been sexually harassed and assaulted; both in the workplace and by an intimate partner. I know what it feels like to be cornered and forced to give up that most tender and private place of self or risk the consequences. Violated doesn’t even begin to explain the emptiness one feels, the sadness, the helplessness, and the aloneness.

The movement is basically another arm of Feminism, one that embraces another part of our identity to protect it from another type of domination and control by those who feel compelled to force their authority on us for no better reason than to feel bigger than, better than, more powerful than, someone else.

So what does the song “Baby, It’s Cold Outside” have to do with #MeToo?

Well in my opinion, nothing. Nothing bad, at least.

It’s a song, just a song. It’s from a movie called “Neptune’s Daughter” and is basically a conversation between a man and a woman, the man trying every excuse he can think of to get her to stay with him, and the woman demurely saying no, but maybe, but no, because what would her friends and family think?

It was 1944 people.

This song simply reflects the times: women weren’t supposed to have unmarried sex. Men were supposed to chase and court a woman. She wasn’t supposed to give in too easily. He was supposed to be gentlemanly about it and protect her virtue whilst achieving an orgasm. He was expected to win in this game of love. And she was expected to succumb to his charms, but as long as she put up a bit of a fight, it was acceptable.

Is this behaviour a good thing in this day and age? OF COURSE NOT! But in 1944, it was the way things were supposed to be. This was the sexual status quo of the times, otherwise, the man was barbaric and the woman was a floozy.

This is why feminism and #metoo is good – so we don’t have to pretend anymore. Today, if a woman wants to stay over at a man’s house, no one cares. Our biggest concern is whether or not to use his toothbrush in the morning. But back then, in 1944, it was just not proper – unless the societal protocols were followed. How many sexual assaults could have been prevented if women had been allowed to say yes right from the start without repercussions? There would have been very little confusion on whether no meant no, right?

The song is just part of a storyline reflective of those times. It’s part of our history as a society. It actually shows just how far we’ve come:  we don’t have to play those games anymore. If a woman wants a man, she can just club him over the head and…..oh, er….no sorry! haha! a little too far, but I think you get my point.

Let’s just enjoy it for what it is: a Christmas song, part of an old movie, a whimsical story, a different time. We can listen to it and be glad we have grown beyond those puritan mores and can now express our feelings for a man or a woman more freely than perhaps our parents or grandparents could. We should not ascribe the outrage and acrimony of the #MeToo Movement to everything in our past. #MeToo is for now, so we don’t have to live like that ever again.

 

 

 

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The Truth About Bacon – For Realz

What is it about bacon?

When I was a child, I couldn’t eat it unless it was over cooked and crispy: quite simply, there was too much fat. (I’ve never been able to stomach fat in meat or gelatin products – no trifle for me!) But I loved the flavour, so crispy did the trick. So yeah, basically even though the product grossed me out – I ATE IT ANYWAY! Because I loved the flavour. Did it ever occur to me to duplicate the flavour and use it on other things? Apparently not – until I became vegan.

I became vegan for ethical and health reasons. The ethical is for another day, (although I do have other blog posts here about my journey of compassion for animals) Basically, I was told my cholesterol was dangerously high. Now I’m not overweight, nor does my family have a history of heart issues, so I never thought of myself as high risk, but I started researching cholesterol once I got home, armed with my prescribed statins, and what I found kind of kicked me in the butt.

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) red meat was classified as Group 2A, probably carcinogenic to humans, and processed meats, ie. bacon, lunch meats, hot dogs etc., was classified as Group 1, carcinogenic to humans.  _86336027_cancerous_meat_624

The article states: “… processed meat has been classified in the same category as causes of cancer such as tobacco smoking and asbestos (IARC Group 1, carcinogenic to humans) …” although it qualifies this statement as saying they are not necessarily equally as carcinogenic.

Ummmm – does that distinction really matter? It’s either carcinogenic or it’s not!

Also in the article, the cancers possibly triggered by eating red meat are: colorectal, pancreatic, and prostate cancer; while processed meats trigger colorectal and/ or stomach cancer.

Again – does the distinction really matter? NO ONE WANTS ANY KIND OF CANCER! Especially if it can be prevented through diet.

So, back to bacon. The King of Processed Meats. The Staple of Hearty Breakfasts Everywhere. The Culinary Champion of Flavour.

IT CAUSES FREAKIN’ CANCER, PEEPS!  It doesn’t just “possibly contribute” to it, or “may cause” it, or “is suspected of” – IT CAUSES IT!

STOP EATING SHIT THAT HARMS YOU!

And don’t throw me that “everything in moderation” quote. According to an article in pcrm.org, “…less that 1.7 ounces of processed meats consumed daily – less than 2 strips of bacon – can increase a person’s risk for colorectal cancer by 21 per cent.”

Bacon is so carcinogenic to humans that no small amount is safe.  That’s for realz, guys. I wouldn’t lie to you.

These health organizations study everything, not just bacon and red meat and potential cancer causing items. Peaches, for instance. Why would anyone study peaches? But by Jove, they have been studied, and guess what – THEY DON’T CAUSE CANCER! In fact, according to USA Today online, they can prevent it!

So in my research on cholesterol and heart health, I basically found many, many independent studies and articles reporting on studies, showing the danger of animal-based diets vs. the health benefits of plant-based diets. And I found not just the heart benefited: Skin, muscles, organs, brain power, everything which makes up a human being was healthier and longer-lived on plant-based diets than on a meat-based diet.

And if as little as less than 2 strips of bacon could increase my risk of any kind of cancer by 21 per cent – I was done!

vegan bacon

mmmmm bacon – VEGAN BACON. No need to miss out on a flavour you love, and no carcinogens. Win-win!

I ditched meat – completely – and dairy was shortly to follow. Do I miss it? Nope. Not one bit. I don’t miss something that was slowly killing me. And as for bacon and it’s sumptuous, greasy, crispy literally-to-die-for flavour, I have found excellent substitutes using all the same flavours but none of the nitrates and carcinogens used commercially. So, no, I don’t miss any of it, not one bit.

And just as importantly – no one died.  bacon-comes-from-cruelty-to-animals-cruelty-to-animals-is-26834795

 

 

 

 

 

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Thoughts of 9/11

What can I say about 9/11 that hasn’t already been said?

For some of us, those in the slightly-post-boomer age group, it was our WWII. I mean we don’t remember either of the Great Wars, although our parents and grandparents do. Of course we are also privy to better historical records, the internet, various movies and documentaries, photos, and true life stories (although as time goes on those are becoming few and far between). We maintain and respect November 11, Veterans Day with worldwide assemblies, prayers, and poppies which include people of all ages. We continue to educate regarding the atrocities committed and prosthelytize  for world peace using those global conflicts as examples, citing the holocaust, genocide, economics, and politics as reminders of our potential for evil.

But we haven’t really experienced it – we have just had it drummed into us. Experiencing it is exponentially different – as 9/11 proved.

Though the incidents  happened in a relatively short length of time (compared to the wars) they happened in front of our eyes. On TV. In real time. FILE PHOTO OF TOWERS BURNING AFTER SEPTEMBER 11 ATTACK.

I remember where I was: I had just dropped my son off at school and was in the living room when my then husband was watching CNN and told me something had happened. I turned to the TV to see the first tower up in smoke. Then I watched in horror as the second plane flew into the second tower. I started to cry, thinking of the people killed in that moment, and I was basically paralysed on the spot. I watched as little black things rained down around the towers. It took me a moment to understand the little black things were people.I wanted to look away, but I couldn’t tear my eyes from the death and destruction I was witnessing. This was no movie. This was actually happening AT THAT MOMENT. The evil acts which humans had perpetrated upon the innocents inside and outside of those buildings was televised for everyone to see. At this point, I had no idea of the ongoing drama with the third plane and the Pentagon, but it was slowly dawning on me that this was wargroundzero1

As I stated, there is little that hasn’t already be said about 9/11. It is as close to a real war as I have ever been (notwithstanding all the wars on the other side of the world going on before, during and after 9/11 which always feel like they are happening on another planet). It’s as close to a real war as many people of my generation and later have ever been. It touched everyone deeply, and still does. 9/11 is a day of mourning now, a day of deep silences and reflection, just like Veteran’s Day. And so it should be. These wars should never be forgotten, hopefully to prevent them ever happening again, but at the very least, to bring to mind the horror of war to generations who have been lucky enough to have never experienced it in their lives.

 

 

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National Animal Rights Day March

It’s my one year “veggie-versary”! Yayyyy me! One year ago August 25 (my daughter’s birthday) I made a commitment to eat plant-based for compassionate and health reasons, and I have loved every minute of it. A whole new world opened up for me!

The world of animal activism.  free

I did a lot of research while transitioning from vegetarian to vegan and it only took a few weeks for me to have one of those electric shock moments when I realized the horrific images of animals being slaughtered and abused was the same meat in the stores. That same meat that looks so innocuous and inert was, only days earlier, a living, breathing, sentient creature. An animal capable of feeling love, happiness, sadness, and pain. Like…..holy shit like my dog! My pet! My family! Even my freakin’ betta fish have soul, as I watch them cavort playfully, stalk predatorily, and interact with me for food.

All those years I ate meat, I was eating another living being. The connection was made and it was an abomination. I had been a pseudo-cannibal. Gross. And even worse, cruel.

I typically haven’t a cruel bone in my body; I cried at the Ugly Duckling cartoon, ffs – AS AN ADULT! So this truth hit me like the proverbial ton of bricks, with a couple of boulders thrown in just because.

But what could I do about it?

I became an activist. It started with Facebook: sharing posts about compassion, plant-based eating, and even the dreaded animal abuse articles (not many of those, as I’d rather teach and share with good news and positive energies to show a better way than clobber my friends, whom I love, with blood and guts). Then I joined some groups, Toronto Pig Save,  and I went to some vigils  

vegan

I spoke with Earthling Ed and James Aspey at one of these vigils, and was inspired by their messages. I never knew what I wanted to be when I grew up. Well not true: I wanted to be a writer, but there’s no money in that unless you produce a best seller, so in terms of a career, a vocation, a calling, I never really had a goal.

Until now.

At age 58, I am an animal activist and a blogger/writer. There’s no money in that either, but I don’t care now. My kids are grown up; I’m not interested in the rat race of commercialism; I don’t want a lot of stuff, just the necessities. So this is the perfect vocation for me!

So on my veggie-versary, I attended the National Animal Rights March in Toronto, Ontario. I attended with new friends I met on Facebook who were also travelling alone. We met up on the subway and marched along with a thousand other vegans and compassionate people, including children. kids

It was an amazing event. It was powerful, gut wrenching, and emotional but so energizing at the same time. There was drumming, an organic pounding I felt deep in my being which gave me strength from somewhere inside; chanting which kept us focussed on why we were there and I knew what I was doing was right and good, as did we all. canada goose

I was inspired by families, parents and children alike, wearing t-shirts and walking with their signs, holding hands in solidarity. Their strength was in their convictions that they are contributing to changing the world and making it better for all living beings. The children may actually see that transpire, although sadly, those of our age may not. 3 of us

People on the sidelines waved to us, cheered with us, filmed us, or ignored us. Far more connected with us than didn’t. I could see it in their faces as they stood quietly watching our procession; they read the signs, they looked at our faces, and I could see and feel their thoughts questioning reality. A seed was planted. It will sprout. Not today, maybe not tomorrow, but it is a strong seed, planted with love and compassion, watered with the tears of slaughtered animals and caring people, so it has no choice but to grow. That is life. That is reality.

I’m back home now, cloistered with my dog, my kittens and my four mean fish, my adventure is over. Hang on – no it’s not over! The abominations of animal slaughter, animal cruelty, factory farming, genetic modifications, animal testing are still taking place.

As the rally chant said: “We are unstoppable; Another world is possible!” march toronto

 

 

 

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Happy Birthday?

August 25 is a day I will never forget. It’s my daughter’s birthday. My second child. My only girl. She was a beautiful unexpected baby and had a lovely, easy-going temperament: perfect for a high-strung, anxiety-ridden mom like myself.

As she grew older, I started noticing behavioural traits that vaguely spelled trouble, but I put it down to growing pains. For instance, she couldn’t be alone: she always had to be surrounded by friends. And when the friends were gone for the day, she spent alone time fretting about being alone, being bored.

Since I am a person who craves alone time, is happiest alone, I really didn’t understand it, but even more so since she had had friends and stimulation all day, why was a quiet evening such a big deal?

She always felt bullied at school, unliked, and alone; yet she had friends visiting galore. Eventually, she started picking her eyelashes out, which I recognized as a sign of anxiety, so I took her to our family doctor. Her father and I had just separated, so he put her on a low dose of anti-depressant and hooked her up with a child therapist. It seemed to help.

As time went on, these issues worsened, and she started complaining of hearing voices, tons of them, all talking at once in her head; she couldn’t sleep for the feelings of anxiety and the voices. Back to the doctor we went, higher dose of antidepressants were prescribed and melatonin suggested. After trying a few low doses of melatonin, we opted for a 30 mg dose. None of it helped her sleep.

By now she was in high school, and her work and socializing was affected. Her depression turned into suicidal tendencies: hospital time. She was formed by our clinic and in she went at 15 for a 72 hour evaluation.

Bipolar was diagnosed, meds were added and adjusted. She still couldn’t sleep at night, the voices never shut up, and she was falling asleep in school. Our high school handled everything amazingly. Whatever they could do, they did: special tutoring classes for her so she didn’t have to be with a large group of other students; she could leave and go to a quiet room when she felt overwhelmed; regular counselling sessions. They really accommodated her and she ended up graduating and receiving her diploma. (In her last year she opted to go back in the classroom and tough it out).

Eventually, there were more visits to emergency with suicidal ideation, and self harm: cutting mostly, but also incessant picking of her skin, which has resulted in some very huge scars on her face and body, like she had small pox or something.

I was exhausted. At one point, I took her to work with me daily, tucked her away in a small back office where she could cry and sniffle with me close by. It was a 24/7 job for me, but she was my daughter. I would not give up.

At the same time, we were experiencing domestic abuse by my partner, and I was in the process of making plans to leave him. It certainly didn’t help, but I can say, her behaviours were there long before Dickhead entered the picture. They worsened however, but I can’t say whether that was with puberty or him, probably a combination of both.

Thus began our merry-go-round of the mental health system in Ontario. One hand didn’t know what the other was doing: doctors visits, emergency stops, referrals, counsellors, group sessions, ambulance rides, slashed wrists and legs, raw sores on her face reaching nearly to bone, medication changes and adjustments, crying, screaming, fighting, loving and hating, days I couldn’t do anything but sit in her room with her, so she wouldn’t be alone.

It was and is hell, and I was, and am, exhausted. But I will never give up on her. She is my child.

She is now diagnosed Bipolar, with Generalized Anxiety Disorder (GAD) and depression with a borderline personality disorder. She has meds which stabilize her moods to an extent, but not completely. Her personality disorder means she has difficulty sustaining relationships, which for a girl who can never be alone, is truly hell on earth.

The mental health options in this province are abysmal. Notwithstanding the fact that very little is known about the human brain and psychiatry is really, truly an unknown quantity, the checks and balances put in place for help and assistance are not adequate, and the children suffering from mental health issues are turning into children we don’t know anymore. We are their parents, we are their protectors, and we are helpless in the face of this scourge. They need us one day and revile us the next.

I’ve been on the receiving end of some vile and nasty text messages accusing me of the most horrendous things of which a mother could be accused: all of it her perception, not the reality others around us see, or my reality. Then I am the first one she calls when crisis hits, crying “mommy! i need you!”

I watched this video by Fifth Estate. It was about a boy with mental health issues, set in Cobourg, a town east of Toronto (I used to live there!) who ended up hanging himself, and I cried as I watched because I saw the same debilitating behaviour in Chazz, the boy afflicted, as I did with my daughter. I watched and listened as the parents said the same things I have said; as they cried over their son’s pain and eventual death; as they blamed themselves for not being able to help their son; as they blamed the system for not being organized enough or knowledgeable enough or funded enough to cope with a child with his problems.  At the end of the video is a home recording of one of Chazz’s meltdowns. That was my daughter. I knew their pain.

My daughter is still with us. She lives in her own apartment know, forced by circumstances to live on her own, and she is trying her hardest to cope with her feelings. She has good days; she has bad days. Mostly it’s all about her trying to understand the world around her and how she can fit in it, because her perceptions of reality are very skewed. But she is doing it. With our without the system, she is working at it. And I hope she can be one who succeeds.

Here is the video. It’s well worth the watch.

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Aspirations and Animals

Animals touch our lives in many ways. Not only do we co-exist with them on this planet, but they have sustained us through the eons as helpmates, companions, and protectors. Those who have pets think of them as family: we celebrate our successes with them at our side, we mourn our losses, and we mourn their loss just as any family member. We turn to them for comfort when life gets tough, knowing we have their unconditional love and support.

My son asked me to write about something he experienced recently. It surprised me because he typically keeps to himself and prefers his privacy. It was such a profound incident for him, though, he felt it was worth mentioning.

This summer he found himself hospitalized for a condition called Rhabdomyolysis, when the muscles react to being severely damaged by leaking protein enzymes (called CK) into the body which then floods the kidneys. If the damage is profound, the kidneys shut down, and in a worst case scenario, dialysis may be needed and permanent damage may be done. I know right? Who knew?

He was in for seven days, pumped up with thousands of litres of fluids to dilute and eventually flush his system and kidneys. Dialysis was a possibility in his case, and daily blood tests were done to track his CK levels, which never seemed to come down. He put 60 lbs. of weight on – all fluids being pumped into him. (It all came off afterwards, slowly). He feared not just for his kidneys health, but for his life. As did we.

He kept saying, “I just want to go home.”

It broke my heart that I couldn’t take him home, and make everything go away, but his life depended on resting and taking the treatment. You know, as mothers we pretty much become psychotic creatures where our kids are concerned. I lost track of how many times I felt myself putting on my invisible viking helmet and charging through the ward with my invisible sword called “Slicer” sweeping patients and orderlies out of my way in order to effect some treatment for my son that I felt was not being done fast enough. It’s what we do.

Once he did get home, his little dog, Arel, came to greet him. Arel is a Chihuahua, an immigrant from the Dominican Republic. He is a bit of a Casanova with an overbite, and thinks all the girl doggies love him. arel

You can actually hear him, saying Joey-stylez, “How YOU doing?” when he meets a female doggy. Mostly he just annoys them. But his little Chihuahua lovings are as big as a Great Dane’s and when my son finally had a chance to greet him at home, he broke down. How happy and comforted that little dog made him feel broke the barrier of any register. It was at that point he actually felt he was going to get better – he had to get better – because Arel was rooting for him.

He told me I needed to write this story so other people would know how invaluable our animals are to us; how beneficial they are. He wanted the readers to know how enriched our lives are because we have these pets to love; how our goals and perspectives can change for the better because this little trusting being is putting their life in our hands and loving us so much for it. I think he realized at that point how precious life really is, everyone’s and everything’s; that our animals should be cherished as humankind’s partners, not dismissed as lesser beings, mistreated, used up, and then tossed away when they no longer serve us. vegan

My son is pretty much recovered now, and Arel is back to his aloof, I’m-a-cool-dude self, ensuring his suave image is intact, but I think of all the homeless dogs and cats in shelters, and all the factory farm animals being held hostage and mistreated, and I despair not only for them, but for the people out there who don’t have this kind of love in their life, who don’t understand this concept of animals not being there for us to use. My goal is for us all to embrace all animals as sentient creatures who have as much right to this earth as us: to co-exist with them peacefully, not dominate them and use them. piggy

What a wonderful world it would be!

 

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I’d rather be a tile.

I must admit I really didn’t pay any attention to any politics courses in high school. (surprise!) It was just too boring and dry for my active imagination which was more focussed on hobbits, elves, and ents. I was a dreamer then and still am now. (Nerd, geek, misfit – pick one.) However, there was one thing about social science (as it was called back in the pre-politically correct days) that struck me and stayed with me: The US Melting Pot vs. The Canadian Mosaic.

(I did eventually take a politics and government course in college 10 years later and found it really interesting and relevant, but of course I had done some adulting by then and been affected by government and its machinations so I could relate to it better than in high school).

In these times of unrest revolving around immigration and accepting and accommodating other cultures, I thought this would be an appropriate topic to address. I try to avoid political posts, typically, because I really don’t know an awful lot about the intricacies of politics, being even more elven-minded today (misfit, weirdo, non-conformist – pick one), but this particular topic is not political so much as it is rooted in the humanities. (Another blast from the past nomenclature!) (Also, I’ve been dying to use the word nomenclature so there ya go!)

I see the mistake all the time these days, those in favour of accepting immigrants and their cultures into our country say “we’re a melting pot, we are one”  Ummm. No, we’re not. That’s the U.S. We are the Great Canadian Mosaic, and it’s completely, fundamentally, inherently different – and better – than the melting pot.

Let me explain:

Visualize a saucepan on the stove; put it on medium heat, add some butter, garlic, and other choice spices. Once the butter has melted, add flour. It will lump up so then add milk and whisk strongly, breaking all the lumps up so they blend in smoothly and the sauce will start to thicken as it heats up. Add grated cheese. Nice lumps of cheese can be seen floating around, but you must whisk it strongly again so the cheese melts. You can call this pot “the melting pot” because all kinds of different ingredients were added, solids, liquids, fats, dustings of spice, but due to the externally applied heat and the rigorous beating together, it became one new thing. One sauce. All those different ingredients can no longer be individually identified visually. A brand new taste is there too. It’s an amalgam of disparate ingredients made into one ‘new’ and maybe better entity. Flour, milk, butter, spices, cheese are now unrecognizable as their original components but have made a new and, admittedly, delish element.

Nacho_Cheese_Recipe_Homemade_fifteenspatulas_6

butter, milk, flour, spices, cheese. you can’t see them, but they are there.

This is the U.S. Melting Pot. All different peoples and cultures mixed together to become one new entity: American. Cultures, ethnicities, religions, beliefs, are no longer obvious to the naked eye. The concept is they are beautiful and strong because they accepted people from all walks of life, smushed them together, changed their form, and created a whole new persona. Cookie cutter creatures. All the same. ‘Murica.

Nothing wrong with that! No sir. It’s a good thing. We are all human. Accept us all, differences notwithstanding. (And cheese sauce is yummy!)

The Canadian Mosaic is a little different.

We are tiles. All different colours and textures. Different shapes too. At first glance, all those differences look kind of scary, what do you, the artist, do with them? They don’t fit. They are not melting together, they are just kind of piled there, and it’s confusing. But gradually, the tiles are arranged; the red tiles are placed next to the blue tiles with some sparkly tiles and the end result is actually very pretty. Each one of the tiles retains its original shape and colour and no matter where the artist places it, it compliments the other tiles and maybe even makes a picture. In fact, the picture could ONLY be made if the tiles retained their individuality! What a concept! A country was created out of the similar disparate ingredients, but rather than heating them and beating them and changing their fundamental nature, the artist worked with the differences, accepted them, REVELED in them perhaps, and created a beautiful work of art. And in order for this work of art to stay beautiful and strong, the tiles have to retain their core identities. corazon-mosaico-163331

Wow.

That is the difference between Canada and the U.S. in a nutshell. This was a fundamental teaching I took away from the high school Political Science course. I’ve never forgotten it. I see it all the time. We are a striking mosaic of peoples, diverse, different, and dynamic, which together form a work of art; the U.S., the melting pot of the world is a vessel of disparate ingredients which have been changed to become one new thing, conforming to the environment.

I’ll leave you to make your own decision, but I’d rather be a tile than a piece of cheese.

 

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The Hunger Games

It all started with some updates on the Doug Ford debacle in Ontario as I was browsing my Facebook this morning. Citizens are seeing more and more cutbacks to our grassroots health and welfare programs while big business is getting perks left, right and centre. No surprise there, Ford is the leader of the provincial Progressive Conservative party, which is becoming more and more right-wing with each new leader. My first rant expounded on the dickheads who voted this idiot in, and after typing my opinion and raising my fist over the keyboard, causing my betta fishes to smush their faces against their tanks in interest, and my kittens to run for cover (to their nearest food bowl, apparently I’m not as scary as I think I am), I prepared to continue my morning ritual of creeping on Facebook.

And then my vexation took a sharp ‘right’ (pun intended) when I saw a video about something called the Indigenous Homes Innovation Challenge.

WTF?

According to this website, newswire.ca, the Government of Canada is FINALLY addressing the housing needs of Indigenous peoples by offering a $30 million prize money awarded in three rounds to help Indigenous peoples create homes and by extension communities which reflect their specialized needs and culture. Hmm. Seems a good thing, right? $30 million would surely go a long way to create comfortable housing, clean water, and other human rights essentials for our FIRST PEOPLES.

Until you look a little closer and see what is really going on. And that, my peeps, is what really pissed me off.

Cbc.ca quoted advocate Arnell Tailfeathers saying it’s been referred to as the “Hunger Games of on-reserve housing…” and as I read it, that’s exactly what it is, a big game. The government, in all it’s wisdom, has relegated the basic human rights of housing, clean water, and community for Indigenous peoples into a CONTEST! hunger

Also stated in the cbc.ca article:

“This issue of housing and poverty is not to be relegated to something as demeaning as a contest in order to win prize money,” said Mary Teegee, chair of the Delegated Aboriginal Agencies Provincial Forum.

“I do believe that, while however well-intentioned it may be, it absolutely misses the mark of dealing with the issues, which is really that housing issues within First Nations communities, they’re at a crisis point.”

These issues have been at a crisis point FOREVER! I can remember as a youth driving through various Reservations and seeing the living conditions of those human beings dwelling there. Houses that were little more than bricks and boards cobbled together, no running water, conditions in which we privileged white would not see our dogs.

Here is the actual challenge: https://impact.canada.ca/en/challenges/indigenous-homes

Now don’t get me wrong, providing adequate housing and other basic human needs for those marginalized members of society is an admirable thing. I’m a left winger so to me, it’s a government and community responsibility that all of our citizens have basic human rights and amenities. We’re not talking about luxury cars and Caribbean vacations; housing, health, education, these should not be privileges in our society as some #fordnation -ites would have us believe. How can one get a job, save money, raise a family and work towards all the good things many of us take for granted if one does not even have a decent roof over one’s head and adequate food in one’s belly?

That’s just a rhetorical question, don’t even try to answer it.

So somehow the government thinks Indigenous folks need a monetary incentive to create plans for better living conditions. Isn’t a “good life” incentive enough?

Plans originating from the Indigenous citizens for their own needs is a must. They know better than we what’s needed and how they want to raise their families, and as the FIRST EVER PEOPLES of our country that should be a given. They have fought long and hard for their identity and their culture and as a society, as the GREAT CANADIAN MOSAIC, it’s our responsibility to encourage and assist in that.

But making it a contest? Holding it over their heads like a hat snatched from the head of the short kid? That’s a bullying tactic. It’s reprehensible. We, the people, should not allow it. It’s all of our country; we are all its rightful citizens: Indigenous, White, Disabled, Adults, Children, Women, Men.

The Hunger Games was a movie; let’s keep it that way.

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