First Day of School for Parents of Intelligent Boys

backtoschool

You will cry, and they might cry,  but everyone will be fine.

Trust me, I know this.

He will be curious. His first report card will subtly let you know that he talks… A LOT.

He will be bored – because you taught him his ABC’s, and how to write and colour and explore. For this you will be rewarded with years of him finishing his work early and wiggling around in class, likely getting into things, and making you worry he’s going to end up in jail.

He won’t.

Your boy will comfort others who are struggling, and get away with all of the activity he can.

And all of this because you loved him like crazy before our world was ready to tame him.

Stay strong mom and dad. He will be just fine, and so will you.

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Knowledge is Power – Why Our Children Need to Learn about Their Bodies

kidsKnowledge is power.  When someone tries to deny another knowledge, they are denying them power: Power to make informed decisions, power to question, power to think independently, and power to live a full life.

If you’re not promoting knowledge, you’re promoting ignorance, and boy oh boy, isn’t that easy to take advantage of?

This morning I was reading a thread in a social media post where someone I presume to be a Christian conservative went on a rant about the evils of teaching sexual education to our children.

We live in a world where childhood sexual abuse is a reality. I know what it’s like, and it haunts you for years. Had we had the language and body awareness to speak about it, perhaps it would have stopped. Not only that, perhaps it would have stopped for the next generation as well.

If you are uncomfortable hearing a child talk about their body, perhaps it’s you who has the problem.

We live in a world where (primarily, but not exclusively) girls are raped on a regular basis.

You’re concerned about the words ‘anal intercourse’ being used in public schools? Well, I hate to put a kink in the rays of sunlight your almighty is shining down on you, but these girls are raped up the bum and taught that anal sex is not sex. You know why? It keeps their ‘virginity’ in tact so they can remain virtuous for their husbands. Yah.  Not to mention the health concerns that result from unprotected and non-consensual sex.

And Child-brides, it’s a real thing.

child brideLearning about our bodies gives children the opportunity to protect themselves, and the language to do that.

So don’t start trying to tell the world how damaging learning about the human body and sexuality is. We are humans who thirst, hunger, lust and need rest. Understanding these parts of our humanity only serve to make us better. Like a healthy diet and knowing how to balance our cravings at the dinner table, learning about sexuality helps us learn how to rejoice in our bodies instead of being ashamed.

If you’re reading this and shaking your head, thinking I’m a bra burning feminist who serves the devil, rest assured, I love my bras. They protect my voluptuous and glorious breasts. And seriously, how can you know the divine if you’ve never experienced darkness?

If you get angry hearing that our children are learning how to protect a part of life that can be beautiful and is often violently taken from them, just sit with this question for a while; what are you so afraid of?

 

Lundi Monday



Why Sex-Ed Belongs in Our Schools

knowledge-is-power-quote-22It’s true.

Religion has always been at best, a path on the road to spiritual awakening which encourages empathy, ethical living, and love. At it’s worst, it’s a bastardized tool wielded by the hands of power-hungry lunatics.

Spirituality belongs in school because we are all spiritual beings in human bodies. Religion belongs at home because of the long history of being used to gain power and dominate other human beings. It continues to be a  mess of misunderstood translation, twisted  cultural laws, and most importantly, something that you have the freedom to teach your children or not. At home.

Last night on the news two protestors on the sex-doesn’t-belong in school-side spoke to a reporter about their religious rights, and that it’s a parent’s job to teach kids about sex at home. First of all, if you wish to live by religious law, move. That’s right, go to a country that honours religious law unlike Canada’s secular law. It is because Canada enforces secular law that everyone is, on the surface, offered equal rights.

No? You don’t want to move to a country filled with fanatics willing to slit your throat in the street?  You don’t want to be a woman covered and bound as property to her father or husband? Then sit down and have a good think darling.

You see, sex education from a woman’s point of view is healthy. I must agree that  despite teaching about biology and the mechanics of it all, institutional education  lacks the more subtle, but just as important aspects of emotional intelligence, sexual ethics, and personal morals and values. Those things are indeed a parent’s job to discuss.

What I find very sad for both men and women is that culture within religion often perpetuates myths that can cause physical harm and psychological trauma. Most people who adhere to fundamentalist translation of holy scripture in any religious tradition value a woman’s virginity. What they don’t preach well to those young girls are the risks, health concerns and precautions to take when their protective male counterparts convince them that blow jobs and anal sex aren’t really sex. What they don’t preach well to boys  are the same things. They don’t have the knowledge to seek help when they are raped, molested or infected.

Consent? What is that when one gender is the property of another? And ‘God’ forbid there may be more than two genders. Gasp!

Regardless of gender and religion, every person in this country is entitled to knowledge and resources when it comes to a whole picture of health. That includes sexual health. Chances are you’ll have more experience with sexuality than with  calculus during your years of mature adulthood.

Chances are the irate, red-faced fathers on the news would go into convulsions explaining the transgressions of the flesh that their children face. The same goes for their mothers. Memory is a slippery trickster, remember, it was less than a hundred years ago that women were considered persons and successfully fought for the right to vote right here in the true north strong and free.

God does not belong in school. Spirituality does. Education does. If you are God-fearing, religious, or otherwise follow a moral code, it is your duty to help your children experience the beauty of spiritual living, including the real meaning of sexual desire, intimacy and relationships.

If you really care, may I suggest adjusting your priorities instead of talking smack. Instead of bowing down to the almighty dollar, be home to share a meal around the table. Spend time with your kids and get to know their friends. Teach your sons and daughters about personal respect, compassion and leadership.

Knowledge is power, especially for young women who still live in a world where rape and the onus for birth control weighs solely on their shoulders. Now, could that be the reason that men of certain religious and cultural traditions poo-poo public education, because it gives women power? Why yes, I think we have the winning answer right there darlings.

Knowing the risks and reality of sex does not take away from religious life. It never has and it never will. It only takes away power from power-hungry leaders and the weak.

Inspiration Where & When You Least Expect It

"It'll come along when you least expect it. Work on you and it will work itself out." ~Tony Gaskins~

“It’ll come along when you least expect it. Work on you and it will work itself out.”
~Tony Gaskins~

Today someone I have never met in person left a message on my voicemail that absolutely made my day.

They were thanking me for one of my blog posts. Apparently we all like to feel like we’re not alone out here in the vast cosmos of, “Whiners, losers, potheads and boozers”, as my musician friend Dean would croon. In plainspeak, it’s nice to know that there are people out there who are good. G.O.O.D. Good as in they care about how they show up in the world every day.

When I most needed a little reassurance, it came by way of this very kind phone call. Thank you.

Another person who began their relationship with me on the wrong foot has turned into a mentor of sorts. Younger, male, and seemingly aloof, he took time out of his day to encourage my latest fitness project; getting my big ol’ hiney into my summer skirts.

Yet again, a make-work project became the cause of me rooting through my black-tie-appropriate dresses, and finding out that, TA-DAH!!! I’ve lost enough winter fluff to fit into a dress that made me look like a large black silk sausage at Christmas time.

Don’t get me wrong, I still need loving support and encouragement. For instance gentlemen, St. Patty’s day is coming gentlemen, and a lovely bouquet and bottle of Irish whiskey would not go unacknowledged should they magically appear on my desk Tuesday morning. You know, just in case you have a yen to spoil me a bit. But I digress…

I have Irish blood pumping through my very strong and determined veins, and I will not let a few feel-good moments distract me from my mission; continuing on in the world confident and determined to carry my own personal brand of excellence wherever I roam.  Even if it’s just to the gym or out on the trail. But you know me don’t you darlings? I will carry it much, much further than that.

Keep your chin up out there folks. You are fabulous. Don’t let anyone make you feel otherwise.

Doing the Impossible

dotheimpossible

Personal Leadership & The Leaders Who Lack It

wolfbreathThere is nothing worse than a person with power who lacks leadership. Take, for instance, most world leaders today. Most are egomaniacs with a side of masochism. Et voila! Welcome to the modern world of faster, more and who gives a damn.

This is your call to action. Each day we wake up and participate in the false global economy, and dawdle off to our nine-to-five so we can pay our bills, we have a choice. We can silently let the world and all of the unfairness in it go by, or we can choose to act in a way that honours our human instinct ( I do believe it’s an instinct) and follows the golden rule. In other words, we can be selfish wahoos, or individual leaders standing up for what’s right.

There have been times in my life when I’ve come home from school or work, ready to throw in the towel.

I have what I believe to be reasonable standards when it comes to how I treat other people, and how I expect to be treated. I expect to be treated with respect, and like to do the same to the people I encounter on a daily basis.  I do my best not to complain, gripe, gossip or bring negativity to the room when I enter it. After all, isn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t make your gut clench with anxiety or reach for a tissue? Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, we are in situations with ‘leaders’ who have about as much couth as a coyote in a henhouse. The ability to lead has very little to do with experience, education or seniority. It has to do with personal philosophy, spiritual cultivation, and knowing oneself. Now expecting those qualities from someone, my darlings, is having high expectations.

As I’ve aged (and yes, leaders with no leadership ability is exactly the type of thing that ages me), and matured, I’ve come to realize that trying to change, explain to, or negotiate with a person in power who lacks leadership is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s like wearing mascara to the steam bath. It just gets messy and ugly in a hurry.

The issue becomes not whether you can change someone else, it becomes how well you are able to know yourself, and control your own reactions. I had two great pieces of advice given to me when I was a teenager chomping at the bit of independence; first of all, you don’t go anywhere if you don’t step forward, secondly, and I quote, “Sweetie, there will always be assholes.”  I grew up in the country, this wasn’t really considered cursing, it was just a matter of fact.

If you too find yourself spending time brooding over someone who consistently and more frequently displays a lack of true leadership, don’t do anything. The reality is, you need to do and say nothing. You need to buck up, carry on, and not let anyone rock the firm foundation of who you are or what you stand for. You do not need to argue, rant, run or cry. When it comes to jobs and relationships, give it a thorough analysis, because wherever you go, an idiot will be there. I’m not saying stay in an abusive situation, but try not to take it personally.

Eventually, you do learn that it really isn’t you, it’s them, and oh my, how they must suffer living in such misery.

By doing nothing, not reacting, or buying the kind of crazy that leadership-lacking-leaders are selling, you create this little zone of discomfort. It’s in that zone, when leaders cannot affect your own control over yourself, that they get a little woozy. You see, they thrive off your discomfort, and when you cut that little supply of nourishing misery off, they starve.  If none of their bullying tactics work,  it may prompt a little self-reflection. Don’t bet on it though. Just bet on yourself, and don’t forget sweetie, “…there will always be assholes.” Don’t let them recruit you.

YOU LEARN

by: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Do not let a leader who lacks personal leadership spoil your day. As the great Jimmy Buffett once sung, “…breathe in, breathe out, move on…”

Small Town Kids & The People They Become

I'm often asked where I'm from, and my answer is always the same, "I'm from a small town you've never heart of".

I’m often asked where I’m from, and my answer is always the same, “I’m from a small town you’ve never heart of”.

Before you read this post, I want to issue a tiny little challenge; List four or five things that haven’t changed about your personality since you were a kid.

If you’ve had enough challenge mumbo-jumbo in your life, just ignore that and carry on reading.

This afternoon I was reminiscing, with a nostalgia spurred on by a copy of L.M. Montgomery’s Anne of Avonlea. It was on the bedside table of the guest bed where I spent the weekend.

You see, I was the world’s biggest Anne of Green Gables fan when I was a kid. I lost myself in her novels, away from the dysfunction of small-town family life.

“Wow,” I though to myself, “I haven’t really changed so much from the little girl I used to be”.

The professional, educated, independent woman I am now has worked hard to come out of that small-town shell. I’ve had to work hard to girder my heart and bolster some self-confidence. But the average Josephine wouldn’t know that. They just know me now.

So I made a mental list. Yep, I made a list of all the things that aren’t so different about me even though life has proven to be a maze of steep ups and downs.

1) I’m still terrified of snakes.

2) Obnoxious people still make me turn inward and cringe.

3) I remain a quiet observer with a mind that works overtime processing the power dynamic and motivation behind what people do and say.

4) If I say I’m going to do something, I do it.  I still judge people who don’t do that very harshly.

5) When it comes to matters of the heart, I’m a hopeless romantic.

6) I believe that people are good until they prove me wrong, and then they’ve lost my respect f.o.r.e.v.e.r.

7) Pigtails are the most ludicrous thing to do with a little girl’s hair, or an adult woman’s hair for that matter.

8) Storytelling is an art that brings magic to our lives.

9) I still love long, hot, baths and singing at the top of my lungs while I’m enjoying them.

10) The best sleep I get happens between fresh sheets that have been hung on a clothesline to dry.

11) I’m most happy near, or on the water.

12) Finally and most importantly, I’m still a daydreamer. I still hope that we can change the world, one small act of kindness at a time.

Today as I was driving in the first above zero temperatures we’ve had since December, I got to some of that daydreaming I’m famous for. I was lost in thought about an old school chum of mine.

When you grow up in a small town, there are very few changes to your peer group. Most of the kids who started kindergarten with me were the ones that I graduated with thirteen years later. Very early in our lives we became part of an established pecking-order, and the only way you could change that was to leave and become anonymous so you could become who you really were.

schoolyardI’m not sure why, but I was reminiscing about springtime in the school yard, and my mind wandered to a day on the school playground. I remembered how boy #1 (now fighting cancer) swung the bat and hit boy #2 in the temple, splitting open his flesh and leaving him with a scar.

For some reason, with the sun streaming through the windshield, I wondered if he still had that scar, and I thought that even though we grew up together until we were all old enough to leave, we really didn’t know one another at all.

You see, most of the scars left with small-town kids don’t leave a mark on their face, but leave the shrapnel of becoming, deep down in their heart, where no one can see it, but they stumble over  it years later.

I was a shy, nervous child, always ready to run or cry. As a teenager I was loud and over-confident. These days, I rarely cry, and on the inside I don’t need to remind myself so often of just how far I’ve come since the scars were left where no one could see them.

In the warm Canadian spring sunshine today, I thought of you, and hoped that you became the man you always hoped you’d be.

 

Joy, Fear & Life As We Know It

bethemselvesandwinLife can be pretty crappy sometimes. It can be pretty freaking amazing too.

Having just had an absolutely amazing, rejuvenating holiday, I came back to the same house, the same job, and the same-old-same-old-everything. It was at best anti-climactic, and at worst depressing as hell.

But I knew this would happen. It always does. The reset-button on life gets hit during my holidays, and when I come back to the cold, earlier-than-jesus-wakes-up-alarm-clock, dissatisfaction and depression take up residence like Gertrude Stein hosting a salon. It’s here to stay until someone comes up with a brilliant idea which usually takes blood, sweat and tears to execute and bring into being.

Life and everything about it can either be wonderful or awful. It is a matter of perspective and practice. As pithy as it sounds, the vast majority of the time, it’s a choice. Most of the time attitude has more to do with how we perceive elements in our life; relationships, career, personal development.

The workplace seems to be a grand microcosm of our little places in the vast universe. There are always people who are positive, and people who see the glass as perpetually less than half full. I’ve always believed that the people who are positive just have a different processing mechanism, not that they are naïve to what’s going on around them. They have chosen a rose-tinted lens through which to see the world.

“Don’t mistake my kindness for stupidity”, I’ve said more than once.  Even as adults in our secluded career worlds, it’s the survival-of-the-fittest mentality that often slithers beneath the politically correct surface. The idea of personal leadership is important to my work ethic, and sometimes, like when I get back from a vacation, I need to remind myself of that. I need to remind myself that I have a choice about life, and although I’m just beginning to lay the mental groundwork for some changes, I have to be in the moment here and now.befuckingbrave

Why not smile? Life is now. As in: right now. This very moment as I type on my old keyboard, sip coffee out of one of my favourite mugs, and feel slightly guilty that my house is in disarray again. Check that – always. Life is happening right now. This one precious life.

Perhaps my dissatisfaction, depression and anxiety have all been popping in to remind me that fear is a great trickster. Anticipating change and new life-stages is scary and inspiring all at once.

Distraction is the go-to emotion when silence, and fear meet in our psyche. Stillness is difficult and painful. That’s why we often go out and buy something bright to spruce up the house, have a lusty fling, drink too much wine or lash out with negativity and sarcasm.

Stillness helps, and so do good friends who meet with us for talks that include everything from sex to manicures.  It is a fine balance this wearing of rose-coloured glasses. If yours have slipped off like mine have, maybe you just need a really great friend to help you pick them up, dust them off, and put them back on your beautiful face.

 

 

My Secret Life

There’s nothing like a little bit of Leonard Cohen to ignite creativity…