Life gets busy for everyone. Between work, volunteer, and studies, there’s still the lawn to cut and housework to do. When I get a chance to actually sit and rest, my mind focuses on everything waiting to be done. Something had to change.
Self care isn’t about bubble baths, face masks, and chocolate.
Self care is consciously connecting mind and body.
Three years ago, I did a Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) program. One night a week for 8 weeks, I spent 2-1/2 hours in the program and it was amazing.
So I emailed the facilitator and asked if she had any silent retreats coming up and could I attend? She did, and she signed me up.
One day of not saying a word, of practicing mindfulness, gentle yoga and stretches, and clearing my mind. Focused on how my body felt and consciously relaxing. Controlled breathing, calming both mind and body. What an amazing feeling!
The next day I started re-evaluating some new commitments and decided to pass. I feel my energy and creativity increasing.
I’m an advocate for online voting because of the inclusivity it provides for persons with physical challenges, lack of transportation, or who are immune-compromised.
I think it requires faith in a certain level of honesty though and unfortunately, I don’t believe everyone is honest.
How does the town maintain and validate the voting list? How does the municipality ensure the list is actually accurate and that those on the list either reside or own property in town?
When we file tax returns each year, we can elect to have our name added to the voters’ list, but maybe that information isn’t shared with municipalities. It certainly seems the most definitive way of ascertaining who does and doesn’t live in town.
I’m wondering this because someone I know has received ballots, with PINs for two children (of age) who moved away at least a decade ago. If she uses them to cast more than one vote (which I know she won’t), who will know?
So many in my town have had our children grow up here and then move away. Who’s keeping track? If all of them received ballots for online voting – with PINs – for each of their children, how many would be honest?
I think our election system is flawed and I won’t have faith in it until issues like this are resolved. Will my vote even matter?
Is this only happening in the town of Georgina, or do other municipalities have the same issue? How can it be resolved?
They say that people come into your life for a reason, a season, or a lifetime. That makes sense. There were people who shared difficult times with me, people who helped me and who helped shape me into the person I became, people that I was able to help in some way, and people who will remain in my heart forever, even if they’re gone.
I envy people who are still close friends with people they went to school with; how you must trust them like family. Sadly, few people in my high school would even remember me. It isn’t totally my fault though – at sixteen I had to leave my foster home suddenly and the next several years are best described as a nightmare.
Thinking back over the years, I’ve come to realize that I lose people. For no particular reason except that life moved on and we lost touch.
It’s easy to lose people. One of us moves away, gets a new job, starts a new relationship (ever notice how some people forget their friends when they’re in a relationship? That’s a post for another day though). We have every intention of keeping in touch, getting together, remaining friends. Life moves on though and we look back and think, “Wow! Has it really been that long?” A year, five years, ten years, twenty years.
Some friends are meant to be though, and your paths with cross again. That was the case with my elementary school friend, Susan Hayman (now Holbrow). I used to walk by her house on Beechgrove Road every Sunday on my way to St. Joseph’s Church. She started coming with me. That always confused me because she wasn’t Catholic – she didn’t HAVE to go to church. She even came to summer camp with me one year – and shortly after that her family moved to Fullerton California. We wrote to each other for awhile, but the letters eventually dwindled. I’m so happy to see her whenever she visits Canada, and one day I will visit California.
Facebook has helped me to reconnect with some other high school friends, including a special one, Karen Robbins. These friends – Karen in particular – knew me best; she knew the difficulties I faced when I was sixteen. Even after I left my foster home, we stayed in touch, lived together for awhile, and then we lost touch. I searched for her for years, to no avail. I still remember the day she connected with me on Facebook – I literally cried.
My biological parents are gone. My foster parents are gone. My foster sister is gone. I am not close with my biological siblings. Sometimes I feel all alone in the world. That’s when I start thinking of the people I’ve lost and I ask myself why I allowed that to happen.
I think we all mean to stay in touch, but life gets busy and distracting. I have to do a better job at reaching out and just say “Hi, how are you” to keep the connection going. I’m going to challenge myself to write a list of people I know that I don’t want to lose, and my resolution for 2022 will be to strengthen the connection.
There’s a reason we met, and I don’t want to lose any more friends. If you’re reading this and think you might be one of the friends I haven’t stayed in touch with – please don’t hesitate – reach out and keep in touch. Don’t let me lose you.
I made a decision today to carry around a notebook with me everywhere, to motivate me to stop for a few minutes every day and write something – anything. Writing helps me to focus which in turn helps me to calm down.
So, I set about gathering all my notebooks and assembling them in the order in which they should be used. Then I did something different today – I put the best ones on top. I’m going to use those ones first. That’s quite different for me – I’ve always saved my best things for special occasions but I’ve just decided that every day is special and I’m going to use the best ones first.
While I was making this decision, I had a memory of my mother. She was feeling the blues one day and it had a lot to do with getting older, so while I was visiting, I took her shopping. One of the things we bought were pretty underwear. I told her just because she was getting older, and just because she was not thin anymore, was no reason not to have pretty underwear. Even if no one ever sees them, YOU know you’re wearing them and that can make you feel better.
Years later when she passed away and I was clearing out her house, I opened her underwear drawer. There were all the nice pretty underwear – still new and never worn. Knowing my mother she was saving them for a special occasion.
That always confused me, because when I was a child I remember her once saying that life is short, eat dessert first. I don’t know when that changed for her, but I know that I have a tendency to save things for a special occasion as well – whether it’s a notebook or underwear or my fine china.
Today I decided that being alive is a special occasion, and when I die I hope the only empty notebooks will be the cheap ones. The good ones will all be filled with my writing. And I hope that my underwear drawer will be filled with pretty underwear; none of it new and unworn.
When I entered the workforce in my late teens/early twenties, the fight for equality was just starting. When I think of where we are now, it seems almost unbelievable how far we’ve come. Women entering the workforce now have almost no idea what it was like in the 70’s.
I’m going to relate a couple of situations that I experienced back then.
The first situation was when I got a part time job pumping gas. There were no self-serve gas stations back then – attendants pumped your gas, checked your oil, and cleaned your windshield. You never even had to get out of your vehicle to pay; attendants came to your window to accept payment. I was hired by the guy on the evening shift. I looked like a young lad – short and thin, when a very short hair cut. Until you looked at me up close, which the owner did one day. He felt it was unsuitable to have a “girl” pumping gas and I lost my part time job. Funny how it because suitable when self-serve gas stations opened. (Interesting fact – did you know consumers were promised cheaper gas by pumping it themselves? Funny that never happened, isn’t it?)
A similar situation happened when I got a part time job as a DJ. The owner of the disco company reluctantly “allowed” me to play at weddings and parties, until one night they were stuck and needed someone to cover in a club. Then it became my second full time job. When the owner went on vacation, the vice president of the company promoted me to area supervisor and I started helping to install discos and train DJs. Until the owner returned and was very upset about that turn of events. When I lost that job, I went to New York City and ended up employed by Juliana’s Sound Services in Manhattan, a predominantly female DJ company.
The Good Old Days?
When I started working in an office, dresses or skirts were mandatory. There were rules – so far below the knee, so far above the ankle, no bare midriff, no halter tops, no going bra less (I always wondered how they tested for that). When tellers at the Bank of Nova Scotia were given the right to wear slacks to work, it wasn’t long until most women were given the same right. The first step towards equality.
Outside the office, women were discriminated against as well, in the increased cost of products and services. Let’s take razors as an example. Razors for women were more expensive, despite being almost identical. The only main difference is the handles were pink. Must have been expensive pink.
Besides products, services were more expensive as well. The one that irritated me the most was dry cleaning. The cost of dry cleaning for women was almost 30% more. It irritated me so much, I started to lie to my dry cleaner. Here was a typical conversation when dropping things off:
“2 men’s pants, 3 men’s shirts, 1 dress.“
“These are women’s pants.”
“No, they aren’t. They’re my brothers.“
“No, the button is on the other side.”
“Ha! I wonder if my brother knows that.“
“This is a woman’s shirt”
“No, it isn’t. It my husband’s.“
“The buttons are on the wrong side.”
“Wow, I guess my husband didn’t notice that.“
“The material is really soft too.”
“Yeah, he likes soft materials.“
Staring war ensues until he gives in.
But I hated having to do that every time I had to drop off dry cleaning.
Equal doesn’t mean looking the same
It’s worth mentioning that my shirts were not the frilly kind. I’ve never been the frilly type – in the 70’s and 80’s I was too busy believing that emulating a man would help my career and let me be taken more seriously. So, you have to picture me in white business shirt, short hair, and tailored pin stripe suits with padded shoulders. No frills.
By the 90’s, friends were calling me a feminist. No, I’m not a feminist I would say; I’m an equalist. Why should I be treated any different. If a man had a rough day at work and stopped by a bar to relax with a drink on his way home, that was acceptable. But for a woman to do the same was not. If a male manager raised his voice to a staff member, he was “authoritative” (considered a good trait at the time), but if a female manager did the same, she was a “bitch” or maybe it was “her time of the month”.
I now realize that I’m more than an equalist – I am a feminist. As all women should be. It’s amazing how far we’ve come. We can do the same jobs, we have the same rights, and those who feel that a woman’s place is in the kitchen are quickly becoming a minority.
But we’re not there yet.
So, what made me think about this now?
Actually two bras.
I bought two bras at a Giant Tiger store in Sutton, Ontario. Signs around the store hanging from the ceiling said “Don’t try clothes on”, so I tried them on at home, and they didn’t fit.
When I went to return them, I was told I couldn’t. It was “unsanitary”. It was a young lady, who told me that they were like underwear. I had an email from Giant Tiger’s head office, stating that “Bras, and swim tops such as tankini and bikini tops are not to be classified as undergarments and will be refunded.” The sales clerk phoned the manager, who said I could return it “this time only”.
I’m not trying to slam the store. This Giant Tiger store actually does a lot of good in the community, and I love Giant Tiger. I love the one in Newmarket, in Stouffville, in Lindsay, and the two in North Bay. But here we have a store that hires predominantly pretty young women, who tell me that returned bras (still on hanger with all tags) have to be thrown out when they’re returned because they’re unsanitary.
Despite being a franchise, I was told they could make their own rules, that they didn’t have to follow the rules of their head office. I think they should read their franchise agreement again. I’ve seldom seen one that includes that clause.
I asked why they were considered unsanitary – I’m way too old to be a lactating female. What is the difference if a man returns a t-shirt? What if I returned a t-shirt that I tried on without a bra? No answer.
Because there is no answer.
There are still those who feel that it’s acceptable to have different standards and rules for men and women.
There are still those who believe that it’s okay to pay women less than men, or to deny them promotion opportunities because they might take time off to start a family.
There are still those who feel it’s appropriate to treat a woman as sexual object – the sex trade illustrates that.
In the Euro 2021 beach handball games this year, the men’s team wore shorts and tank tops. The Norwegian women’s team wore thigh-length elastic shorts during their bronze medal match against Spain in Bulgaria, to protest against the regulation bikini-bottom design. They were fined 1,500 euros total ($1,700) for “improper clothing”. Women are required to wear midriff-baring tops and bikini bottoms “with a close fit and cut on an upward angle toward the top of the leg” and a maximum side width of 4 inches, according to International Handball Federation regulations.
There’s a growing movement to cancel Canada Day celebrations this year, in light of the recent graves discovered at the residential schools and the reminder of that terrible part of our history, when children were removed from their homes on reserves and sent to schools. These schools were nothing less than re-education centres, run by a few organized religions, predominately Roman Catholic. It was, in fact, cultural genocide and many children were abused and died of various causes, their unmarked and undocumented graves only recently discovered.
I’ve thought long and hard about whether we should be celebrating Canada Day this year, even taking into consideration the fact that some of my ancestors were Aboriginal.
Every country in the world has shameful events in their past. In our multicultural country, many of our citizens come from countries where exploitation, torture, and genocide are still happening. Our local newspaper just published an article about a refugee from one such country.
We cannot change our history, but we can change how we respond to the tragedies that are part of it. By coming together and recognizing our strengths and our weaknesses, we are demonstrating what it means to be Canadian. As Canadians, we must not cover it up, but bring it to light and find a way to reconcile what has happened with who we are today.
Ignorance is bliss but it’s time to face the truth of what things are and not what we want them to be. We’re only lying to ourselves, hurting ourselves and making the pain last longer when we remove the bandage slowly, instead of just ripping it off. We know the boat is slowly sinking but we are frozen with our fear; afraid to jump into the water, into the great unknown. It’s time to stop being afraid; it’s time to start facing the fear. Rip off the bandage and start swimming; toward solid ground; toward something real; toward something better.
The current pandemic has forced us all to live and work differently, and everyone (me included) is struggling to remain positive and optimistic. There’s so much that we’ve learned from all of this though, so I decided to make a list. Some items are short and obvious, while others have a deeper explanation that might just apply to me. Some might be the same as yours, and some might just be a bit weird.
The most important thing I’ve learned is that I am truly blessed in all of this. I could easily focus on the fact that I live alone, I’m socially isolated and lonely, but I choose instead to realize that I am still healthy, still employed, and I still have a home, and I still have food to eat. So many people have had their lives devastated during this pandemic, so I need to focus on how grateful I am to be in the position I am.
Here are some other things I’ve learned during this pandemic.
There are pros and cons to everything. With the pandemic, the pros are less money spent on gas and dry cleaning, less time spent commuting, and better work-life balance as we commit to the job itself and not the clock.
The cons are that there is less life-work balance. Wait! What? I listed that as a Pro, so what gives? I’ve had to learn to set firm time commitments (8 hours a day, or 40 hours a week or similar) to avoid working too much. Since I live alone, it’s too easy to get up in the morning and immediately sit at my desk with my coffee and start working, just as it’s too easy to check again before bed to finish something I started earlier.
I’ve learnt I can save money by not buying new shoes or dresses – where would I wear them to? By the time they let us loose, they’ll probably be out of style.
Everyone pities the person who lives alone, as families at least have each other, right? Well, with that larger family comes more exposure through each of their networks. Not everyone is taking this social distancing seriously (although most SAY they are).
I’ve learnt that everyone is feeling isolated in some way and I’ve learnt it’s important to reach out to each other, using the phone, messaging apps, and even video apps.
When you only have yourself for company, I’ve learnt that it’s important to like yourself. You have to consciously treat yourself the same way you’d treat a friend; be patient and try not to be judgemental. Forgive easily and focus on moving forward – the same advice you’d give your best friend. When talking to yourself, try to always be encouraging and helpful. Learn to have fun by yourself – crank the tunes, sing along and dance if you can.
This pandemic is dragging on so long, and I now believe we should have just bitten the bullet right at the beginning – nip it in the bud and be done with it! Because we didn’t do that, and because our government tried to not offend everyone, we are starting to feel as if this will never end. If we don’t get it together though, it never will. That’s taught me to do the right thing always, no matter how unpleasant and difficult that may be.
I’ve learnt that if I get up, dress up, wear makeup and style my hair, that I’ll feel better emotionally throughout the day. At least for now I can pretend life is normal. Shoes are optional.
I’ve learnt never to underestimate the healing powers of a dog. They are fairly good roommates, and are a good excuse to get outside for a walk at least twice a day which helps improve our mental states.
I’ve learnt that nothing beats homemade, healthy meals. I feel better, I’ve lost weight, and I’ve saved money. The couple of times I treated myself to restaurant or fast-food takeout, my tummy didn’t feel very good afterwards.
I’ve learned not to be drawn into conspiracy or political debates. It’s healthy to look at the funny aspects of the situation although I think that people who don’t socially distance or wear masks are idiots, but it’s a waste of time trying to reason with often unreasonable people.
I’ve also learnt to speak up to people in stores who are standing too close and demand that they move back 6 feet. Whether they’re 19 or 79. And if a store doesn’t enforce the social distancing policy, I will abandon my cart and flee the store.
I’ve learnt that there’s more safety in smaller stores where there may only be 2 -3 people in the store at a time. It may cost a bit more but since I’m saving money (see #1 above) I’m fine with that. Besides, our small, local stores need our help.
I am dying a little more each day until the time when I am no longer No longer sane no longer safe no longer here Until the day when I will be someone else somewhere else and no longer me here I can’t tell you how to find me or where to find me because I don’t know where there is but when you find it you’ll find me there and no longer here.