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?

 

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.

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…”

The One That Got Away – VD Advice

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.” ~Albert Einstein~

“Any man who can drive safely while kissing a pretty girl is simply not giving the kiss the attention it deserves.”
~Albert Einstein~

I’ve gone from English Lit snob to chick-lit/flick junkie. Yes, at this age, I’m pretty sure I know what the real world has going on, and more than that, certain that I know nothing at all when it comes to love. There are  movies that other women think that single women (of all ages) need to watch. These gems include Pretty Woman (still haven’t watched the entire movie from start to finish), Sex in the City (Seen it, seen it again, and again), and He’s Just Not that Into You (which I finally watched this week). What I learned from watching that movie is; no one, men or women have a clue what is going on when it comes to matters of the heart. Even a lady with as much experience as myself has no clue when it comes to love. Romantic love. Nope, nada, zip. In retrospect, the most insight I have is that I let a wonderful man go whilst trying to make a miserable relationship work. Instead of heading off into the sunset with a fellow whom I happen to know is a good man, I stuck in a relationship with a doofus. What can I say? I was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Now Mr. Good Stuff is engaged to be married to someone else, and I’m wondering what the hell I was thinking. All I know for sure is; you don’t known unless you try, and trust someone’s actions not empty promises. So as VD creeps up on us once again, put yourself out there and let yourself be vulnerable to love.

An Open Letter to Mothers With Young Children

"Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it's the most exquisite love of all." ~Maggie Gallagher~

“Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it’s the most exquisite love of all.”
~Maggie Gallagher~

I was you once – giddy with affection and unconditional love for my child.

Every moment was a miracle, and every second I could kiss, cuddle, snuggle or coo my little one, I did. Unapologetically.

I see you out there, proud as punch as you push your strollers and post your photos on social media of your naps, and first steps, and messy little-helping hands of your budding cookie bakers.

Don’t stop.

That’s right. You read that correctly. Don’t stop falling in love with your babies.

I’m the middle-aged woman you pass at the coffee shop, or in the shopping aisle who stops to tell you how beautiful your baby, toddler or young child is. I’m the woman who coos over the outfits and little faces, and even the tears.  I’m one of the kazillion middle-aged women who look at you through their newly increased lens prescription and says; “Enjoy them while they’re young.”

Don’t stop being amazed at every new stage. Ever.Don’t stop wondering how they are when they head off to school, and don’t stop bothering them for a hug, or stories about their day when they become teenagers. Trust me, they will challenge you sometimes.

Whatever happens and whatever they get up to, don’t stop being the ferociously loving mother that you are.

I’ll be honest with you. When my child turned three, I was tempted to see what the return policy was. Four was better. Like a light switch being turned on, the ‘terrible three’s’ (it was three not two) turned into the fabulous four’s, and I had my angel back.

It’s true, every age and stage holds some surprise. Some stages, much like the prize your potty-training-darling hands to you while proudly shouting, “Poo-Poo”  are less satisfying than others. Sometimes you will despair at how you will get through the day; emotionally, physically, financially. Sometimes, you will have nothing left to give. But that’s when us older gals come in.

We’ve been there; the smiling photo-posting-proud-as-pie times and the lonely-how-am-I-going-to-do-it-times. Pick up the phone, talk to us in line at Starbuck’s, or at the grocery store. We’ve been there sister, and lived to coach you through it.

For now, just keep doing what you do. You’re great at it, even when you’re not sure you’re doing it right, you are.

~Enjoy them while they’re little. They grow up too quickly.~

 

 

It’s Saturday – Use it Wisely

live a life of love

Just in case your day isn’t so glorious, I suggest popping a flask of bourbon in your handbag darling. You know, in case of emergency…

It’s one of those very rare mornings when I don’t need to set an alarm.

Other than a bit of tidying and shopping to prepare for my birthday night with the girls, I have a glorious day to myself.

Should I bite the bullet and really launch my novel on WattPad, or dig into novel 2 and 3 I have rambling around in my notebook, brain and WattPad scribblings?

What a delicious decision to have to make.

Whatever you choose to do today, enjoy it. Savour each moment, and spend your time with the people who appreciate your beautiful self.

 

 

Oh Bother

haveaballoonWinnie the Pooh – I don’t want to take up too much of your time with this, but it’s just too silly to let rest…yet.

The councillors in Tuszyn, Poland  have spent time debating Pooh’s lack of pants and therefore,  the obvious abomination it would be to have Winnie the Pooh be the town’s playground mascot. Tuszyn’s debate has placed the small town front and center on the world stage for their 15 minutes of fame.

My immediate reaction was, ” Seriously? We’re wasting time on our national news talking about Pooh Bear’s dungarees”? Too tired to be outraged, instead of tweeting about it, I laughed. Chuckled, smiled even.

News is such a joke anyway, why not report on Pooh’s pants? If you’re telling us about Pooh’s pants, what aren’t you telling us?

Having started upon the long and winding road of my career as a newspaper reporter, I have an insider’s appreciation of the passive aggressive as well as blatant gagging of the idealized journalistic objective reality of writing for money.

It is no secret that reading the Saturday paper at my favourite coffee shop constitutes an ideal weekend morning. What you may not understand is that I read the paper as a clue to what isn’t being reported, written about, recorded or otherwise documented in popular media.

So I thank you CBC for not being afraid to report on something seemingly insignificant.

From what are you trying so hard to steal our attention?

 

 

 

 

Life-Uversity

carrouselIt never ends, does it?

You know what I mean darlings, this learning something new every day.

When I was much younger, and had a whole  of  uncultivated fabulousness, I thought that one day, I would have it all together. All -as in my life. As in career, finances, family and my man.

Ha! Haha! Please stop reading for 15 seconds while I try to contain my hysterical laughter and go get a tissue.

Life, as it turns out is a series of lessons, tests of character, and moments of exquisitely breathtaking, and sometimes painful beauty.

Dennis Leary had a blunt, but oh-so-marvelously-truthful comedy skit about happiness. At about fifty-five seconds into this video, he nails it. He speaks the truth about happiness as we know it; it is fleeting, so enjoy it while it lasts.

On the flip side, my juicy little niblets, life is agonizing as well. The key is to ride the ups and downs of life more like a carousel than a thundering roller coaster destined for hell.

Life, if anything, is chaos, change, impermanence, and a relentless opportunity to learn that you really know absolutely everything and nothing at all.

So choose joy when you can. Choose mischief and fun, and  the occasional sweaty tousle under the sheets when the opportunity arises (ah-hem).

Just remember, what goes up must also come down. And what hits rock bottom generally bounces back up.

 

 

A Literary Life Examined: Part I

bookshelfBy the time I was 26, I was already orphaned, divorced, and a parent.

Life, in all of it’s complex mystery was starting over for me. I was frightened, but I was young, and unlike the almost 40-year-old me, I was convinced that the years ahead would be the best, most successful and full of love.

The written word had always held a powerful hold over me. Whether it was a brochure, travel advertisement, novel or text-book, I was intrigued by reading things I didn’t know about, or have any experience with.

So, at the tender age of 26, moving from small town life to the city, I fell in love with big bookstores, fabulously romantic used bookstores, men who had cultivated their intellect and with reading anything I could get my hands on. Tim Sander’s 2002, “Love is the Killer APP”, changed how and what I read;

When we were kids, we loved to role-play, and doctor was one of our best roles.

Try it again today. Prescribe books to contacts like a doctor would prescribe

medications for patients. (p102)

And so it began. My absolutely insatiable adult-appetite for reading. No book, magazine, e-zine, chapbook or greeting card has been safe from my clutches since then.

As a child I read to escape. As an adult, I began to read in order to satisfy my lust to figure things out.

Fast forward to today.

Having been fascinated by men who are primarily interested in their own intellect, I am still single, and surrounded by ceiling-high piles of books.

My graduate studies interests have ranged from South American and Caribbean liberation theology to bio-ethics. I have an English & Religious Studies degree, a professional designation and an advanced something or other for helping recently traumatized folks recover from crisis. I know how to tie surgical knots, Egyptian embalming techniques and how to tie a cherry stem in a knot with my tongue. Men who can discuss politics, psychology, baseball and not get lost in their GQ ego’s turn me on.

“If you go back to a man’s home and he doesn’t have books, don’t f^(K him”, posted one of my social media friends.  Yes, I thought, wise advice. Men who lack a proper bookshelf or a decent stack of books on an appropriate number of seemingly unrelated subjects aren’t really the kind of fella I can have a decent conversation with. Perhaps the quote should have read, “If you go back to a man’s home and he doesn’t have books, don’t expect a thoughtful conversation, just  f^(k him.”

But I digress…..

This morning, with the sun shining high, and the arrival of spring just around the corner, I decided I needed to make room in my room. It was time to hold myself to the sage advice of a decluttering expert, “If it’s not beautiful or useful, get rid of it.” I immediately packed a bag for my teenager and kicked him out…..

Kidding.

By far the most difficult ‘stuff’ for me to part from has always been my books. As a writer, I go back to many of them, rereading for style, content, and most importantly inspiration.  As a professional and speaker, I go back to create engaging presentations and educational pieces. Why on earth would anyone get rid of such an expansive library right in their very own home.

Well, mostly because they (AKA ‘I’),  live in a small 950 square foot garden town home, and the public-library is a 5 minute walk along a lake trail.  Oh, yes, and I’m trying to get over my literary attachment issues.

While leading the cull of words written on paper, I was able to clear out at least 120 books, but there were some I just couldn’t resist keeping on the shelves…..

Stay tuned for, A Literary Life Examined Part II