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It’s Time to Listen: A #MeToo Breakdown For Men

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It’s my staunch belief that the #MeToo movement was born the moment Trump was elected POTUS. That was a bitter pill to swallow for everyone with a pussy to be grabbed.

The men in my life are wondering what the hell happened. Men are speaking up with sheer obliviousness about how they feel they no longer know how to communicate with women. Good.

Try listening. If you can’t listen, and you want to evolve past the shameful state of the pussy-grabbing POTUS, or even just avoid some life-ruining sexual harrassment lawsuit,  take some advice; Read a book and start listening.

Books are a good place to start.  As Elizabeth Renzetti is quoted as saying in a recent Toronto Star article by Tara Henley,

A book forces you to think deeply, to think profoundly, to think at length about issues that don’t just flash before your eyes as you’re scrolling through your phone. It forces you to actually confront, and acknowledge , and come to terms with, issues that are quite complex, and that need the space to be examined.

Women have lived their lives since the dawn of time, surrounded by Donald Trumps – affluent old pigs who get away with whatever they want because they pay for it.

Anger is just frustration that doesn’t feel heard.

And a lot of us are angry.

Saturday night I went to bed angry. My other half, who is obsessed with CNN, and therefore the asshat known as Donald-Useless-Twat-Trump, officially got on my last nerve.

“Turn that shit off! The last thing I need to listen too all weekend is CNN talking about Donald Trump fucking porn stars!” I stomped up the stairs, and before I slammed the bedroom door shut I finished off my rant with, “…and don’t you dare wake me up when you finally get enough of that garbage. I deserve to be able to relax too!” Slam.

With an icon of misogyny elected as the leader of the free world, it was really the last straw.  Seriously how much could any intelligent woman take? Pussy hats dotted the streets lined with millions of women for the Women’s March on Washington, and women everywhere started to speak up for one another.

The #MeToo movement was a tipping point for women to step forward into the light, and claim their power. As survivors of sexual abuse, we all know that speaking up has traditionally been taboo. No one wants to hear that stuff. It’s akin to the visual of watching someone be disemboweled.  The pain is incomprehensible, as is relating to the victim or the perpetrator.

The tsunami of women coming forward during the past year has been overwhelming. For most men, really thinking about their sisters, girlfriends or mothers being raped or assaulted, is nearly incomprehensible. But I guarantee you, a woman you love has experienced this.

Now is the time to listen.  We need to stop being distracted by sensationalism. Turn off the twaddle blaring from CNN and reflect.

Just listen.

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Saturday Morning Coffee; Child Killers & The People Who Have to Be Nice To Them

saturday morning coffeeLast night I had my sweetheart, his son, and my son together around the table to enjoy a meal together for Easter. With young adult children and their crazy schedules, family time is precious, and to have both families blend together during these holidays is a true joy.

Simple things like having dinner together every day, and making sure you say, “I love you”, before you head out the door are mandatory at my house. Maybe a little too obsessively-compulsively so.

You see, my career is death and dying. The fragile nature of life is not lost on me, and maybe I have some PTSD going on. Ok, I do have some of that going on,  but I think that’s normal under the circumstances.

Easter dinner with the kids was extra meaningful for me in ways that I’m sure people who don’t work around loss and trauma will never know. Nor should they.

This morning I sat down to my little window, with my coffee and kitty mentor, Mr. Willy Nelson. I cruised over to www.thestar.ca and read the article about Ontario’s Chief Pathologist, Dr. Micheal Pollanen.

Basically, the crux of the article was that Dr. Pollanen has been guilty of confirmation bias;

Among them was confirmation bias — reaching a conclusion and working backward to find evidence to support it, and professional credibility bias — being unwilling to change an opinion once stated.

 

Fine. I get it, and god forbid I was on the receiving end of a case where a professional reasoned that I was guilty and then tried to prove it. Basically, you’d be screwed.

But the point of my little blog here isn’t to crucify Dr. Pollanen. I worked with him. I didn’t really like him – let me be clear, that’s my personal opinion. He seemed to be book-smart-brilliant, and socially awkward. But most of the doctors down there fit that description.

At the Office of the Chief Coroner, one finds that ego-with-a-capital-E runs rampant, and the term Doctor warrants a god-like-untouchable-status to anyone who doesn’t have the same credentials. Humility has no place there. There are few exceptions.

The reality however is that those coroners are human too, and I would argue, because of their perceived status as stronger, more intelligent and wiser-than-the-average-bear, they are at higher risk for PTSD, burn-out and the other psychological monsters-that-go-bump-in-the-night. Sure, they have  access to support, but there is no system in place to monitor it. There is no formal support in place to insure that the mental health of  professionals subjected to the most brutal trauma imaginable is cared for.

During my training, a past Chief Coroner ended his lecture to my graduating class by telling us that if we ever felt that we needed counselling or help coping with trauma, that we should suck it up because that was our job. This was hands-down the worst advice I’ve received in my career.

I too have seen the trauma of a child’s lifeless body marked by abuse, accidental injuries or what appears to be a cold-blooded homicide. I’ve looked into the teary eyes of grieving siblings who are too young to have know what grief feels like.  I’ve done it many times, it’s part of my job.  Unless you’ve physically had to take part in the autopsy or preparation of the body, you do not have any idea what it’s like to be a professional in death care, so stop judging and proselytizing.

You don’t know the deeper level of concern that we bear when our child or spouse takes the car, or is running late. Working with trauma brings you face to face with the fickle nature of mortality every. single. moment. of. every. day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing Dr. Pollanen, I’m simply empathizing with him. You might want to try it sometime.

Ask yourself this; In a courtroom full of adults unwilling to admit that they either abused or neglected a child to the point of death, I wonder what the average reader of the morning paper would do? Part of me likes to think that they would rage and deliver a little eye-for-an-eye justice, the other part of me is a passive Buddhist.

So, as I sit here this morning, sipping my flavoured coffee, looking out at children in the courtyard giggling and scurrying during the annual Easter Egg hunt, I ask you to think of Dr. Pollanen as a human being who has dedicated his life to making our society a safer place.

 

 

 

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What the Women’s March on Washington Means to a White Chick

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” A house divided against itself cannot stand.” ~Abraham Lincoln~

I’m as white as they come. I’m a woman. I will never be and have never been anything other than I am. I will never know what it’s like to be Black, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, financially affluent or well-connected, and the folks who identify as all of those things and many more will never know what it’s like to identify as me.

Farah Stockman’s article on the front page of the New York Times brings up a lot of really great questions about race, class, privilege and other social issues. I suggest you read it.

The Women’s March on Washington is an opportunity to come together as a community to protest the ass-hat who was elected (and yes, by a number of ‘white women’) as the next President of the United States. I believe that everyone who voted for Ms. Clinton should be in the streets to protest the twisted fuck up that is known as the Electoral College. I believe in the power of numbers and the power of kindness.

To the groups who have made the March a divisive issue, thank you for falling into the eons old trap of dividing women to diminish our power. It happens in families, in the workplace, and now, under the spotlight of a grand social scale.

For once in our history of gender, let us come together without any other motive than to access the full potential of our political clout; the marginalized power of the sacred feminine.

What spiritual, political and ethical living come down to for me is; how would you treat me if I needed your help on the street?  I like to think that we would all, when we’re eye to eye, regardless of race, creed, class, gender or anything else, reach out and help. If you don’t feel the same way because I am white ( thanks for assuming), perhaps your place is not at an inclusive March?

You’re preaching to the converted. We’re there because we support equality, and we’re not afraid to learn more.

Bring your signs. Show the world what you stand for; is it gender equality, racial equality, equal pay…??? Bring it and come in droves. But don’t hate the next person for being different, appreciate them because they are there, standing side by side with you, supporting you even though they carry a different message. What matters is the message of unity against evil.

I will stand happily with my white friends, my black friends, my Muslim and Buddhist friends; male, female, trans and anyone else who simply wants to make the world a more loving place to live. I don’t care how you identify, as long as it’s from a place of inclusiveness and love.

This is what the Women’s March means to me.

 

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This Christmas, Leave it All On Ladies

You’d have to have your head buried in the sand not to have seen the calendar pic of Amy Schumer having almost taken it all off in the 2016 Pirelli Calendar. schumer.jpg

The Calendar traditionally featured pin-up models, but this year, the change in shape and degree of, shall we say, modesty has changed significantly.

I’m still not convinced that having iconic women and pop-culture cuties being coyly half-naked is a giant leap forward for women. I’m not an automotive buff, but I’m pretty sure Pirelli doesn’t offer escorts with the option of coffee breath.

The reality is that  when it comes to the real world women continue to be measured against male standards and values.  It’s like being upset that your cat doesn’t bark like a dog. Insane, and a complete construct of the human mind. Balderdash to it all I say.

What I don’t understand is why women feel they still must bare all to prove their strength, femininity and ultimately their worth?

Can you imagine how absurd it would be to have Jimmy Fallon clad in a banana-hammock , wearing dress shoes, teetering with his bare bum-cheeks on a stool while sipping a latte and looking into the camera?

Or perhaps let your mind wander to a full rear nude of Robert DeNiro with is hair blowing in the synthetic wind.

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Alas, you may have questioned Donald Sutherland’s value as an artist until you saw him suggestively posed on a stool in a top hat, tails and a pair of hosed legs stretched awkwardly toward the camera.

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For the love of all that’s right in the world ladies, please, stop taking your damn clothes off in an effort to prove your equality.

No one has the power to strip you bare and shine the spotlight on your beauty and your flaws except yourself.

Love yourself; body, mind and spirit, and to hell with trying to prove a point to the people who simply don’t get it.

 

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Pray for Yourself; A Meditation on the Reaction to the Paris Attack

peace with the worldIn the wake of the Paris attack, social media is packed with poo-pooing and  finger-pointing at what we should or should not be indignant about.

Shut up. All of you. Shut up and listen. Rather, talk, then shut up, in order that you may listen.

We need to have the one-sided, anger-fuelled comments to ignite conversation. Every word, post, or hashtag is proof that freedom (of expression) is still alive and well. Be thankful for it. Do you think that we maintain freedom of speech as a priority by staying silent? No.

Share your visceral, emotional reactions, and listen when someone else shares theirs. Pretty soon you figure out that we’re all human, and we all want a healthy life for our loved ones and the world.

Be willing to engage in conversation that stretches your perspective and opens your mind enough to think of alternatives; both you the rose-coloured-glasses-wearing-hippies, and the gun-toting-war-mongers.

Black and white rarely exist when it comes to human ethics. We live in a vast, grey universe, and it can be beautiful if you let go of fear and dive in.

Please, do pray for Paris. It stands as a symbol of vibrancy, art, and creativity. Pray for Lebanon and Syria….the list goes on and on and on.

Mostly pray for yourself; that you take that peace you preach about, out into the world every day. Pray that you have the courage to set an example in the face of adversity and the popular kids. Pray for that, and the rest will fall into place.

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Come Out Come Out Wherever You Are: Reflecting on the Past to Enhance Your Future

dreamscometrueI know a thing or two about grief. More often than not as of late, it’s been an exasperating, Charlie-Brown-sigh of, “Good grief”! This followed of course by in-my-own-mind muttering and long hot baths serenaded by my favourite crooners with copious amounts of wine. Admittedly, extreme levels of got-her-Ire-up call for tea as the hot Irish blood runs quick through these old veins.

Grief often makes people think of death, dying and final good-byes, but the reality is different the majority of the time. Loss without a death is more common and treated with less respect. Often it’s not recognized at all.

Sometimes it’s a loss of a relationship, and all of the hopes and dreams you had of your future together; partner, child, or career. Hmm…let that loll in your wee little mind for a while. It can be loss of all the wonderful things your body used to do but will no longer let you, or a lifestyle that no longer meets your needs, perhaps it’s even an aspect of your personality that got lost somewhere in adult-responsibility-land. Only you will know for sure.

When I followed my heart and chose a vocation rather than a job, the first career transition was traumatic. I suffered a deep depression. Everything that I had planned and dreamed of seemed to die right along with my resignation letter.

abetteroneWhen my marriage ended I was up to my neck in life; new motherhood, major losses through death and estrangement, and in order to get my life on track, I did not have the luxury of time to grieve any of that. I had to buck up and move on, but the need to grieve never left until I did the work of grieving years and years later.

Other relationships of all kinds have sparked and fizzled, and with each of them I learned and developed a deeper awareness of who I am, what I need and more importantly, what I am capable of giving. The wonderful thing about being human is that none of this remains constant throughout life. Just when you think you have it all figured out, something changes, and you adapt.

With each new beginning it’s natural to take a look back.

neverlookbakYes darlings, that’s right, it’s perfectly  normal, and likely a healthy view via the rearview mirror of life, so long as you’re not distracted from where you’re going.

Despite the pithy sayings about never looking back, and what’s in the past is best left in the past, it’s also important to reprocess experience as we age. I used to freak out thinking of my last relationship so much that it interfered with the one that I presently was in. Check that, it affected me so much that I would not enter into anything more serious than something that ended prior to 3 a.m.

At this delicious stage of life, I’ve allowed myself the space and time to reflect, reprocess and re-dream. Sure, life has not been like I had thought it would be like. If you told my 20 year old self all of the things I would have done in this lifetime up until this age, I wouldn’t have believed it.

Sometimes things really do fall apart so that the right things can come together.

If you don’t believe that in this moment, maybe you have to be more gentle with yourself and allow whichever loss you are grieving to crawl out from underneath the weight of all of your trying. Silence and solitude can be frightening when you don’t know what’s tangled up in the dark corners of your psyche. Trust me, whatever it is won’t bite, it just needs a little more of your attention and love.

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Friends With Benefits – I Don’t Think So

The flags of Canada and the United States of A...
The flags of Canada and the United States of America, flying side-by-side outside PGE Park in Portland, Oregon (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Canada and the United States have flirted, used, abused, supported and stabbed one another in the back throughout the years.

We have a love/hate relationship. Americans like having neighbours who spell properly, and smile a lot.

Canadians like the sunny south and football. Perhaps we could also throw in the Rose Bowl parade, you know, just to make our American neighbours feel good.

It’s nice being neighbourly with the big guy on the block. Well, it used to be. The other global-guys are hitting their growth spurt, and the big guy isn’t so big any more. In fact, his fat-cat ways are catching  up, and, I hate to mention it, but he’s grown quite an economic disaster of a muffin-top.  A grand example of a sugar-daddy whose looks have slipped, and whose wallet isn’t fat enough.

This week, Diane Francis’s Merger of the Century was reviewed in the Toronto Star.  She argues, apparently pretty convincingly too, that should Canada and the United States jump the broom, both nations would stand to benefit.

To summarize, should this little marriage of two socially opposite neighbours happen, it would create an economy larger than the combined economic sway of China, Japan, France and Germany.

Francis describes our Canadian resources as, ‘mindboggling’. Trillions and trillions of dollars worth actually. I don’t think the average Canadian needs to read her book to understand just how rich we are. We may have to point out that our resources are in great, imminent danger of being destroyed by greedy BIG BUSINESS.  The very same big business that almost bankrupted North America in 2008. Yes, the very same big business that gobbled up the bail-out and learned absolutely nothing about innovation, or the fall-out of greed.

Beyond our  plethora of resources, Francis also sings the praises of our banking system, sophisticated social values, educations system (If ours is good, I shudder to think about the American system), and ‘law-abiding people’.

I would like to point out, that these are also precisely the reasons that intelligent Canadians would never wish to be more economically tangled with the United States than we are already obliged to be by virtue of our proximity.  Should a merger happen, it would leave the social, political and economic landscape of Canada a no-man’s land.

Much like the cover of the book that has our Canadian Maple Leaf gobbled up in the design of the famous stars and stripes, our social identity would be lost to the machine of capitalist greed, minus our so hard-won social system. In short, the big guy needs us now that the folly of his ways has seen the light of day.  The tough guy is looking to someone to clean up his mess.

Go ahead, take Francis’s argument for a ride, but be sure to read the other sides of the argument; Fire and Ice, and Death of the Liberal Class.  After all, you want a clear picture of just how very different our cultures are.

The reading may also inspire you to articulate our distinctly Canadian values in the face of the political shit-show that will surely be our next federal election.

Fracking? Pipelines? Bureaucratic Elitism? GMO farming and antibiotic infused livestock? Yes, we do have some rather overwhelming issues to tend to in our very own maple-syrup rich backyard, but we’d have a heck of a lot more problems if we get distracted by a  big, shiny, diamond engagement ring from the USA.