I grew up about ten minutes from, Oromocto, in the middle of the woods; one of the last, sparsely, spaced houses at the end of a dead-end road. In the country, in the middle of nowhere, Geary. I’ve always loved where I lived, I still do to this day. It’s a very different life than growing up in the city. Each way of life has its advantages and disadvantages. I learned things at which some city girls would be aghast. That’s okay though. We are all meant to be different and we all have our own strengths. I’ve always been one to do things on my own, but during the past year, I have been learning to ask for help. It’s getting a little easier now. Humility is a wonderful lesson. We all have something to be grateful for. I can’t help but reflect on the reasons why I love my community so much. Everything that I have learned, I learned country-style.
I was brought up in the seventies and eighties. It wasn’t just a different time. It was a different planet, in a different universe, compared to how things are now. My father worked for the government, so he was home most evening and weekends. I followed him around outdoors, instead of helping my mother with indoor chores. They probably wanted me outside so I could burn off excess energy, and I had plenty of it. There was no such thing as an ADHD diagnosis back in those days. No, I was labelled hyperactive and henceforth on, was put on a more restrive diet. The number one thing to go from my meal repertoire was sugar, in any shape or form. I’m thankful I had friends to help me out by sharing their chocolate bars, or treats with me. This usually ended up with me “acting out”. I’d talk incessently, and get myself and whomever I was “pestering” in trouble for talking during class hours. Weekends were a mixed blessing. It was awesome to be out of school but Saturday’s in my house growing up were work days. That’s when we got all the chores done, the extra chores. We went out in our wood lot and cut down trees for the wood stove. This meant splitting the wood, loading it in trailers, unloading in our yard and tossing it in basement , just to get ranked again. I followed my father around and watched him work on cars, change tires, and other general duties required to maintain a home and yard. I learned that work comes first and play comes after the job is done. Any job doing is worth doing well. I learned to use tools, and drive tractors. I helped build fences, barns, and decks. I dug for worms. I baited my own hook. I learned to fish. I learned to tie flys. I learned to flyfish. I learned from a young age how to handle guns properly and responsibly. I knew to always assume a weapon was loaded. I knew never to point a gun at anyone, ever. I shot skeet and trap. I learned to how to track and how to hunt.
I learned about gardening and growing food. I learned about caring for animals. I learned about having a sense of community spirit. I learned about death, and the pain that comes with it after losing the treasured pets and farm animals we had over the years.
I learned that no matter how many hours and days you spend picking rocks out of the ground to help grow a nice lawn, the rocks always “grow” back. I learned to appreciate being able to see every star in the night’s sky. I learned to identify various bird calls. I listened to the screams of fox at and howls of coyotes from my bedroom window. I learned about respecting our forests from our wood lot. I learned to start fires. I learned to ride bikes, sleds, wheelers, tractors, and any truck. I learned to climb trees and make tree forts. I learned how to ford small brooks and streams. I learned how to read a compass. I learned about wildlife all around me. I learned how to take care of farm animals. I rode horses. I played softball. I hung out with friends from the community. Everybody knew everybody back in those days. Those days are long gone. It’s okay. Time always marches on, with or without us. The important thing is that we learn. We learn to live, we learn to love, and we learn to laugh. We also learn from out mistakes. The most important thing I learned growing up is there is nothing that life can throw at me that I can’t handle. .
Despite my father’s efforts to make me well-rounded and independant, i had a strict, religious, grandmother. Our family matriarch since I was a small child. She was a teacher, an English Teacher. She taught me how to be a lady. She is ultimately responsible for my exceptional communication skils. The rest of what she tried to impress upon me is still there, it’s just that I don’t call it up for action that often. My grandmother and I were very different people, and that’s okay. She gave me one of the greatest gift’s life has given me, my love of the English language.
Growing up in rural New Brunswick taught me things not every little girl grows up to learn. I grew accustomed to certain ways of life being a country girl. It’s a little more rough-and-tumble where I come from, a little rough-around-the-edges to some. I had two older brothers; one was just a year older than me. I learned to fight. I had to. They made me tough. We watched out for each other. The whole community watched out for each other’s kids. It was a different time but I don’t love it any less. I am not afraid of change. I welcome it. I think we’ve been stuck in the past in New Brunswick for way to long. The past is a nice place to visit, to reminisce, but we desperately need to move forward into the future. We need to make some serious changes if we don’t want to see the same thing over and over again. United we stand, divided we fall. We have community. We have hope. We have each other.
Life thew me a few curve balls this year. 2019 has been a challenge for me from the get-go. Some challenges were whipped at me, some were lobbed, but all came at me steadily. As issues arose, I did my best to knock them out of the park. Either way, I stayed in the game. I stayed in the fight. Yes, I eventually got knocked down, it happens to the best of us. I got sucker-punched by those I thought I could count on and trust; make no mistake, I can take a hit and get back up again. I’m not going to pretend that it didn’t hurt. It hurt me really bad. It felt every cut very deeply. It may give those that tried hard to hurt me, some satisfaction to know that they at least partially succeeded, but that’s okay. I don’t mind. I’m healing. Like a lioness injured in a hunt on the Savannah, I had to run off and lick my wounds, alone. I had to get out of the game for a little while. Self-care is a priority for me right now. I had to remove all people and all ties that bound me to the association, from my life. I had to create a safe space. I had to reach out to and rely on my friends. I had to do things that made me happy, that made me feel whole. I started thinking about myself for a change instead of so many others. i have been putting my own needs first, and with each passing day, I allow the hurt to come, and feel it. I feel it and accept it, and put it in its proper place. I don’t try to suppress it and make it go away. Only an idiot would do that. I know that if I push this aside, it will only come back to knock me out later. This is simple psychology.
I’ve been in a weird spot lately. Everything that has been steady and consistent in my life has taken a new direction. My job, my friends, my political interests. Most importantly, how I decide to spend my time, who I decide to give my energy to, how invested I get, and who I am able to trust has changed dramatically over the past few months. I’ve been pressed to make a decision. It’s not like i’m in a hurry. I have been in the process of talking to as many people as possible and gathering as much information as possible. I like to make an informed decision. The thing is, all those years ago, when I felt the calling to join the Liberal party, and exhaust my efforts for my MP and the various MLA’s whom I supported, I didn’t have an exceptionally high level of trust then either. I keep asking myself, why I would allow things to get a bad as they did? Why was I so naive and trusting with people whom I should have known better than to give any trust to at all? It’s because I gave a little bit more of myself to these people with each day that passed. Each call bank I participated in, each day of action when we knocked on doors, each lawn sign I put up, each member I signed up personally, was done out of a deep belief and conviction. I allowed myself to be convinced that we were a solid team, that we were a big family, that we were friends, that we were doing something together to make a difference, that we had similar goals and aspirations for the people of New Brunswick. I thought that I was dealing with people that were honest and that had integrity. Don’t get me wrong, lots do; probably most of them. I had the misfortune of dealing with and choosing to believe in people I should’t have, because we wore the same political stripe. Most of the fault lies with me. I let myself get hoodwinked over the years. I saw things wearing red-tinted glasses. It was fun and it was fine as long as I agreed with everything, and didn’t question anyone. The moment I started veering off the beaten path, my days were numbered there. I knew it deep down. I was getting more audacious with each passing day, while simultaneously willing the turmoil in my mind to go away. As much as it hurt me, I know the loss is their’s, not mine to bear. This fiasco has forced me to look at myself and those around me differently. Nothing is inherently going to change about me, other than I’m going to listen more to my gut instinct, and my trust will never just be given away ever again in the political arena. From now on, my trust will be earned. I’m left with not having a home politically and not feeling like I don’t fit in anywhere else…yet. For now, I’m going to remain neutral. I know myself too well. I can’t party-jump because I need to know what exactly I’m jumping into. I need something that is a good fit for me. I need something to inspire me, something to grab hold and ignite my passion. As of today, I’m just not feeling it at all; so I wait. I keep talking and observing. I keep holding people to account that need to be. I continue to express my opinions, for what they are worth. I will continue to enjoy my life and live freely with no pretensions or worries about who I am. I know who I am, and what I have to offer. So do the multitudes of people who support me. I am lucky and I am grateful to every one of you. The day will come, in the not-so-distant-future, when I will meet face-to-face, those that intentionally tried to do me harm. They will feel the scorch of my fire; I will remind them that I am a force to be reckoned with. That day of reckoning is coming.
When you see the eyes lined with fire, of all the women ready to shove you aside, you will know we are here.
There is little as impressive as watching a lioness valiantly defending her cubs from other predators. Even more astonishing is when she and her tightly knit female pride members band together to protect their cubs from rogue male lions. They risk life and limb in fierce battles against these vagrants that have come into the pride territory for a take over. Some female lions just accept the inevitable and watch helplessly as the new Kings of the Pride kill their young cubs. I’m impressed with the lioness that aggressively attacks a mature male lion in it’s prime that is twice her size and weight. Her ferocity is explosive. Many a time the females are able to fend off the male lions. I think we do the same thing. Some of us passively accept what life has thrown at us. Some of us go down swinging, only to rise up though the fire; stronger, tougher, resilient, tenacious, wiser, and determined. We also learn compassion, empathy, tolerance, acceptance, healing, and understanding. Certain things that happened to me as a woman make me want to roar. It’s instinct to want to speak up and protect myself and other women. Instead, I roar in a different way. I speak loudly, but I speak respectfully and stay on point. I speak out when I see a slight against women in any setting, in any forum, to anyone, regardless of position, prestige, or political power. If I don’t speak out, my face says it all for me.
That little back cloud that followed me around for a couple months seems to have blown away. That’s life. Sometimes bad things happen. It’s out of our control. We can control the way we deal with it. For me, I feel driven to address the issues that keep women in a state of oppression. Why we feel so pressured to conform to unrealistic expectations put on us by many? Why are we left out or ignored when surrounded by a group of men in a business environment? Why is it when a woman express anger she’s called, “crazy” or “hysterical?” Why do men feel thay can talk over us? Why do men try to use their size, wealth, or power to intimidate us? Why do some men feel threatened by or intimidated by strong, independant women? These are things that happen to me and to women every day. Most of the time I take it in stride. Other times it gets pretty intense. Either way, we can’t sit around passively and watch our pride get taken over. We need to stick together. We need to support each other. We need to celebrate each other’s victories and console each other in defeat. We stand together united in a goal to achieve equality. Nothing less, nothing more.
What constitutes a strong woman? According to the Oxford dictionary, the definition of strength varies according to the context in which it’s used. One can be physically strong, have mental fortitude, or even an unwavering conviction in a belief system. It can’t be narrowed down to just one singular definition, applicable only in a specific situation. Context is crucial. The same can be said for strong women.
Some mothers work 40 hours a week, only to return home and provide the care-taking responsibilities that have been assigned to them because of gender since birth; making supper, washing dishes, folding laundry, driving kids around to extracurricular activities, grocery shopping, recycling, and play dates. The list goes on and on. Plenty of women work 60 hours a week, serve on committees, play competitive sports, go to the gym and maybe volunteer at a youth camp. Then there are the women who suffer through emotional and/or physical abuse because they are not financially independent, and have likely driven people they love away in order to conceal the abuse. They walk on eggshells, trying to do the right thing so that they won’t get beat down, only to inevitably fail. They don’t fail themselves, they fail to meet the impossible expectations of the individual who wields complete physical and emotional control over them. These women often use themselves as a shield between the abuser and any children involved. There are so many women, in all walks of life, that are silently accepting their perceived fate in life. All of the women mentioned above possess a super human strength that only another woman would understand. On top of work and family responsibilities, women are most often the ones compelled to look after aging parents. I see this strength in every woman I know. We all have different circumstances in life, from income to belief systems, but we all share one thing in common; keeping it all together. Keeping everything running as smoothly as possible. We have to work harder to prove our worth, yet we are very often overlooked, despite the values we uphold and the skills we contribute. I am one of those strong women. I have been told this by many, but it is not something I need to be told. It’s nice to be acknowledged, but I know it. I feel it whenever something for which I feel very passionate about is raised or brought to my attention. Most frequently I feel my strength when no matter what life throws at me, I bounce back. I fall down every now and then, but I always stand up, brush off my knees, and challenge whatever is ahead of me. Life has been throwing me some curveballs lately. Most of these things I have no control over, which doesn’t help. One of the most difficult situations in life for me is when I can not be of any help to my kids. They are adults, and are accomplished in their own ways. My son’s neurological condition is a constant worry, ever present in the back of my mind. I am always mentally prepared to get a call about him having a seizure. Thankfully, it’s been a few years, and my mind has relaxed a bit, but a small part of me is reserved, no matter where I am or what I’m doing, to find that mental resiliency to be strong for my son. My daughter is away at school, shes very capable and healthy; fortunately, I don’t have to worry about her much. We only see each other a few times a year but we talk on the phone every day. When situations arise with her, I feel the powerlessness of the physical distance between us, and my inability to do anything to help her. The only thing I can do is listen and advise. The rest is up to her. This is a hard thing to do; to let go of your kids and let them live their lives. They make mistakes and learn from them. They celebrate when they’re triumphant. I can only observe and console or congratulate.
That Little Black Cloud
Besides unexpectedly losing a job a few weeks ago, I was recently in a motor vehicle accident. I relive the moments after impact often. I remember looking over at my dog, shaking like a leaf, sitting on the seat, realizing he must have made impact with the airbag, now billowing with smoke throughout the car. Thankfully nobody involved was seriously hurt but I think it’s fair to say we are all still feeling some pain from that collision.
I am optimistic by nature, so I tell myself “things can only look up from here.” The tip of the iceberg for me recently, is being told that my oldest brother, going through dialysis three times a week, may at some point need a kidney to survive. His best chances of finding a match is through an immediate family member. Health issues and age will make some unviable options. The weight of having to potentially make this decision at some point down the line is bearing down on me considerably. It’s not on the table yet but it’s up in the air. Somehow I keep finding the resiliency to stay in the fight, to be there for the people that need me, and honour the commitments I have made. I just keep going, relying on the strength and support of those around me. Most importantly, I find the strength within; to speak up, to speak out, and to follow up with action. I am no different than any other woman. Women are the glue that holds society together, of this there is no doubt.
Life is tough sometimes. It’s tough for everyone. Nobody has it really easy. I know people like to pretend that they have the best, most perfect and positive life, but we know that usually isn’t the case. We all have struggles and they are as varied and vast as individuals themselves. That isn’t to say that some don’t have it easier than others. Some of our friends and family post these fantastic life stories on social media that would make any one a little jealous. The reality is most people aren’t posting their pain, their shame, and their embarrassments. Who wants to expose those vulnerabilities? Me, that’s who. I have found strength in sharing my weaknesses and troubles with others that have had similar experiences. So many of us are struggling with depression, anxiety and other mental health issues but we’ve been shamed as a society to admit it.
I struggle with anxiety. Sometimes it’s easier to deal with than others. When I was younger I felt more powerless against it. As I’ve aged I’ve learned how to cope and how to recognize the signs that I’m indulging in the insecurities that come with being anxious. A couple of different times in my life I have “gone off the deep end.” My mental resiliency has been tested on numerous occasions. I feel like I failed some of these life tests, mainly because I’m so hard on myself and have such high expectations of not only me, but everyone around me. My first serious test came after reporting my maternal grandfather for sexually abusing me when I was a child. The subsequent court cases that followed demanded a strength I didn’t know I had; to face the man that wounded me so deeply and irrevocably for the rest of my life. Even though he was found guilty, sent to prison, and lost an appeal, I always felt like there was something wrong with me. Somehow it was my fault. Even though I was just a kid, I couldn’t help but blame myself for not having the courage to stop it sooner. The ripple effect of that trial was losing contact with the maternal half of my family. We were ostracized by that part of the family for years, because my mother and father believed and supported me. My mother chose her daughter over her father, mother, siblings, and extended family. That’s the best mother anyone could ever ask for. It took me years to fully appreciate the loss she must have felt, and the sacrifice she made to support me. She is a remarkably strong woman that has probably never been properly acknowledged for her tenacity and unyielding love and support for her kids.
I staggered around in a shame-filled state for many years. I had a hard time dealing with the incredibly overpowering mental anguish I was suffering from. Despite being young and inexperienced at life, I could not allow myself any forgiveness for the serious character flaws that I thought I saw in myself during my youth. Now that I understand just how traumatic this event was, I am kinder to the memory my younger self. All the choices I made in the years after the abuse were normal, and typical of those that have been so seriously victimized. I’ve forgiven myself for the mistakes that I’ve made, but more importantly, I have learned not to give any thought to those that refuse to see how I’ve grown or acknowledge the changes that I’ve made throughout the course of my life. I wasted far too much time in my life worrying about what people thought of me. In my head I was already rejected before I could give anyone a proper chance to get to know me. I just assumed people weren’t going to like me. I was loud, hyper, outspoken, boisterous, adventurous, and tough. Very tough. I come from a predominantly religious family, I felt like I was most likely viewed as something akin to the devil himself. The long and short of it is; life is way to short to worry about what people think. There will always be people that don’t like you, for whatever reason. That’s ok. We are survivors. We always have each other.
My life has not been the easiest of journeys. Some things were thrown at me over which I had no control. My children’s serious health issues tested my resiliency. As is typical of me, I kept things together during the crisis, and then fell apart after the threat was gone. The latest and greatest test of my will and strength as a women, was when my developmentally challenged aunt died of brain cancer. I sat with her in the hospital every day, until the moment she took her last breath. The lessons she taught me about enjoying the simple things in life are still with me.
I have made colossal mistakes throughout my life. I was challenged by low self-esteem, and a lack of pride in the skills and talents that I had. I didn’t see myself as having any talents. Getting an education and having the support of my family and friends have contributed to me having a greater sense of self. I have pride in my accomplishments. Like a lot of parents, I feel my two greatest accomplishments were raising well-adjusted kids, despite my struggles being a young mother. I was a thrill-seeking hothead for most of my life. I had no fear. I lived for daring adventure and brought my kids along with me on that ride. There was never a dull moment. If I were a parent of young children now, my common sense as a middle-aged person would have surely kicked in. Instead, I raised two young kids when I was in my early 20’s. As is typical of the youthful mind, I thought nothing would ever happen to me. It would happen to somebody else. I felt invincible. It was this fearlessness that enabled me to let my kids follow me jumping off a local bridge into the river below. It took us swimming through rapids so strong that it would suck you down, twirl you around, and spit you back out again metres away. It led us to jumping a fence to pet a bear caged behind a steel fence. Crazy things to do, but I, nor my now fully grown children, have any regrets.
I have walked though the fire, but I did not come out the other side unscathed. Some scars never fully heal. Somehow I managed to raise university educated kids. My son has full custody of his young daughter. A girl born into a family of strong, dominant, confidant women. My daughter, a PhD candidate, is a scientist, blazing a trail for girls coming behind her from our small community in rural New Brunswick.
Life is tough sometimes, but like Dolly Parton said so eloquently, “if you want the rainbow, you gotta put up with the rain.”
It’s been two days since I have been sent home from work. Technically, I could’ve/should’ve stayed working for a couple of more days, but I am not ashamed to admit that it all got to me. Since our world, our country, and our province has been held under siege by COVID 19, my just-nicely-recovered brain and I have been in survival mode for the most part. I battled severe depression all last year. December 10th, 2019 was my rock bottom and subsequently, my turning point. I sought all the help I could get. I got professional help and I chose to take an antidepressant, recommended to me by my physician. A physical whom I trust, and who also trusts me. The benefit of being an upfront, honest person, is I am often given the benefit of the doubt. The reason for this is I am always honest about my short-comings, my mistakes, and my flaws. I am quick to acknowledge, admit, and apologize when I am wrong; and I have been wrong and have been required to apologize more often than I care to admit. Because of this COVID 19 crisis, I had to turn to my Dr this week. As soon as I felt familiar stirrings of my presently under-control-depression trying to sink its unforgiving claws in me, I didn’t withdrawal, but instead I reached out. I have no qualms about this. We are in a crisis right now, all of us. It’s depressing even for a person who isn’t clinically depressed. All of our regular routines interrupted for who knows how long. Going without seeing loved ones. Not being about to work. Not being about to hang out with friends. It sucks, hands down, sucks. Not only do we all have COVID 19 to worry about, life goes on amid this chaos. My dear friend just had a miscarriage. Another friend just lost a parent. Another lost a job. Several of my friend’s teenagers are really depressed. People don’t have enough food. People don’t have enough supplies. People are worried about power getting disconnected. People are losing income, that means even more people will have to decide between eating or taking prescribed medications. People are worried about their loved ones, especially their vulnerable loved ones. There is just so much to worry about right now. Guess what? We are going to be okay. We are going to make it through. We sacrifice in the short-term to gain in the long-term. We are going to be okay because we still have each other, maybe not in the same physical locality but we have each other in our minds, in our thoughts, and in our spirits. None of us are alone in this. We are going through this together, every one of us. Just like when Summer finally arrives, and we are all just killing it, enjoying every moment, and then it’s gone; so too will COVID 19. We will flatten the curve. We will do what we need to do to get through this, together.
What to Do,What To Do?
Anyone who knows me knows I am an individual who undertakes a lot. I work full time (until recently and for an unknown period of time). I am always on the go, often for political purposes, for one reason or another. I have spent a lot of my time volunteering for various politicians and their parties. I write a feminist blog. I co-founded a women’s coalition. I’ve helped write press releases and opt ed’s. My co-founders and I help everyone we can who reaches out to The Truth Movement.NB for help. Some we have been able to, some we were not. We spend our time uplifting other women. We spend our time raising the profiles of female or minority candidates running for office. We bring to light, tough issues, many don’t want to, or are afraid to talk about. We bring up women’s issues. We bring up women’s right’s. We bring up science. We bring up politics. We bring up homelessness and the unfair, unequal access to wealth in New Brunswick. These are passions of ours that feed our soul.
I have already announced my intentions to run as a Registered Independent Candidate for MLA in the New Maryland-Sunbury riding. This also takes up my time. One thing many of you may not know about me, is that I have been writing a novel for over 3 years. It hasn’t had as much attention as it surely deserves. I think while i’m on this forced down-time, I may delve back into it. I’m at an over 70 000 work count and just need to fill plot holes and finish the first draft. Those of you who know me well, would completely understand, if I don’t tame down the sex scenes, the only hope I would ever have in having it published, would be in an erotica genre…so back to the drawing board I go with my creativity.
The New Normal
As optimistic and positive thinking as I am, even I realize this isn’t going to end any time soon. There are so many people who put their lives on the line to keep us going. Believe me when I say I have extreme gratitude and respect for those working the front lines in the health fields, doctors, and the many friends I have who are nurses. Some of us get paid decent money to continue working. It’s not Irving-rich money, but by NB standards, our health care workers are paid well. Those in my mind the most right now are the kids and other poor people I see still working to bring us our creature comforts. Tim Horton’s workers, MacDonald’s workers, convenience store workers, Taxi drivers, Delivery Drivers etc.. It’s these low-income workers who are putting their lines on the line for a corporation who literally doesn’t care if an employee lives or dies. Production must continue. The bottom line is the bottom dollar. These kids wear no gloves. They are constantly exchanging cash with customers. Give me a frigging break. These are mostly minimum wage workers risking their lives to make us more comfortable. My hats goes off to every one of you. You are a brave lot, but I know that you are doing what you have to do to survive. You have no choice. I understand, and I’m so sorry. You’re not even well-compensated for all you are doing for us right now – helping us stay sane and the keeping up the appearance of “normal”. Thanks to all who are still working, everyone of you. Please be safe. Please keep your distance when out and about. Please wash your hands or sanitize like you’re getting paid to do it. Stay home if you can. As hard as it is, don’t go out visiting if possible. That being said, if any of you elite, well-stocked lot with loads of supplies, see us out and about more than once a week, mind your own damn business or offer help. Keep your judgement and big trap shut. Some are still surviving day to day.
Stay well, stay distanced, but stay connected. Social Media and good old-fashioned telephone calls are a life-saver right now. Cherish every moment. Tell everyone whom you care about that you love them. Reach out. Keep busy. Take care of yourself. Remember, you need to be well in order to help others. I was reminded of that last year by a person I very much respect and admire. My part of our collective journey to the unknown starts today. I am going to focus on my writing, and see were the day brings me. All I know I know is I am ready to lend a hand, or throw hands, whatever the situation calls for; after all, I am a proud #GearyGirl.
When this story first broke, our immediate futures still seemed so bright and positive. Although there were Canadians affected, it was on the other side of the world. Even I wasn’t really worried in the beginning; I should’ve known better. I, like the rest of us, assumed our health authorities and our elected officials were going to take every precaution to protect our province and our public health. This situation brings to mind Education Minister, Dominic Cardy’s, vaccination bill. Our admin, Courtney L.Smith, a medicinal chemist and a 3rd year PhD pharmacology candidate at McGill University, wrote an open letter, not so long ago, to our MLA’s, providing fact-based, verifiable, scientific information, with references provided. We pleaded with them to listen to the expertise of the scientists, and the reliability of the research, rather than the understandably, gut-wrenching, anecdotal, stories of parents’ of children with an unexplained illness. One of the questions I specifically asked our elected MLA’s in that open letter was, “is it going to take a epidemic of mass proportions to get you to reaffirm you belief in hard science?”
Funny enough, that’s exactly what it took for our party leaders to work together for the welfare of our people. They are finally listening to the public health experts. It took COVID 19 to open their eyes. I hope they remain open as we face these uncertain times, and that they keep putting their party and personal agendas by the wayside when it comes to the safety and well-being of our public health. Listen to the experts. As it turns out, our future is uncertain. It always was. None of us know when we are going to “bite it”. COVID 19 is like a lottery, and I’m not a gambler. I just batted my own mind last year and won, so I like my chances, no mater what happens, I’m going to make it.
Hope is Always Stronger than Fear
I love seeing my fb friends posting positive and funny memes. We need the laughs, at least I know I do. I’d be lying if I said it wasn’t getting to me. My naturally optimistic personality is being challenged by “what if”, and the “what am I going to do?”. I’m trying to let go of it and just live in the moment, the thing is, this is easier said than done sometimes. The bomb I’ve been waiting for since this virus hit New Brunswick, dropped today. I got sent home from work. I knew it was coming. I thought I was mentally prepared, but I found myself unable to control my emotions today. It got to me. COVID 19 didn’t get me, but the far-reaching ramifications of it did. The isolation from friends and family sucks, that’s all there is to it. Not being able to work, for an undetermined time, is very anxiety-provoking. Worrying about money is stressful. Worrying about how I’ll make ends meet is stressful. Worrying about how I will help my daughter, now stuck in Montreal is stressful. Worrying about my son, who is a single father to my granddaughter, living alone in a another city, is stressful. Life is not normal right now. It’s not fun. It’s not a comfortable feeling; something feels just off-kilter. I know I am not alone in my feelings. Sometimes I feel like we are in the eye of the storm and the worst is yet to come, but I truly believe if we follow what we are advised to do by the experts, we will persevere. We won’t only persevere, we will come out the other side much stronger. What I’m trying to say is, don’t be fooled by the either the humdrum or the constant barrage of positive posts you see constantly on fb. All these people have weak moments too, believe me. We all do…every single one of us. You are not alone. It’s better to spread love and hope than hate and fear. We are all trying our very best to survive, thriving will come soon enough. I chose to hold on to the positive. Now is the time to be strong, for myself and for others. I have my weak moments too, but I always bounce back. We can choose to be positive, we can choose to be kind. We can choose to think of others less fortunate. We can choose to do better.
I have been very open about my struggles with depression last year, for a couple of different reasons: 1. I’ve lost count of the people (men and women) who have reached out to me because they felt hopeful or inspired by my story. 2. I will hold accountable, the individuals who helped harm me, to ensure it never happens to another person ever again. 3. Keeping my struggles a secret only helps perpetuate the shame and stigma associated with mental illness. I refuse to be a part of that. I refuse to feel the shame. I refuse to feel less-than, which incidentally, a politician recently tried hard to make me feel. I own this! I am this! I kick the shit out of mental illness because I use the resources and tools provided to me by health professionals. My mind is vigilant, and very attuned to any similarities, feelings, or thoughts that might lead me down a road I never want to travel again. Since this virus has upset, not just my world, but the world around me, I found myself having to push out thoughts that weren’t conducive to my recovery. I also found myself wanting to pull back from everyone and everything. Now, most of you would say, that’s just what we need to do right now, and I agree. For me, that can be a slippery slope of isolation, and not the healthy kind. l pulled myself back in. I called my Dr and she subsequently decided to increase the dose of my antidepressant. Even though I didn’t feel like it, I called my loved ones. It’s not that I didn’t want to talk to them, it’s that I felt the hook trying to bring me down. I will not withdraw into myself again. I didn’t. I fought it, and took the necessary steps to regain track of what I am meant to do, and where I am meant to be.
As I had briefly mentioned above, I had a conversation with a politician recently. It was a private conversation. We disagreed about something, no biggie. I made a comment, that I absolutely feel, by the literal definition, to be one hundred percent truth. I didn’t mean it offensively, I just meant it as a point of fact, which it is. I would not be afraid to divulge the entire conversation, but I have a feeling this individual would prefer it remain between us. I have two reasons for bringing this up. 1. It’s important for me to be upfront and honest all the time. I don’t hide what I say, or what I’ve ever said. I don’t have to put on airs or pretend to be somebody I’m not. I don’t have to impress anybody. I am blunt and straightforward always. I act the same way with everyone I meet and everyone I talk to. 2. This politician used very cruel words to try to make me feel bad about myself. They used the words, “Frig you”, “People a lot better than you”, “stupidity like yours”, “Frig you” x2, and “you have a lot of jealousy and bitterness”. These words don’t even remotely hurt my feelings, but they were meant to. I assure you, that most of you would be shocked to know who this person is. Some of you wouldn’t be. This individual seemed to be taken back by the fact that I “dared question them or that I dared to speak my truth to them”. I think a lot, if not most, of our politicians are that way; they plaster on a smile and say all the right things when they are out in public and in the media. Get them back in the vehicles, or behind closed doors, or in a private conversation, and this is where you are going to see the real person, hiding behind the persona of a nice politician. If this individual, or any other politician, or political operative, needs to be reminded who I am; I’m Jen Fucking Smith, and don’t ever forget it. Peace and love to all. Stay safe my friends.
“When you see the eyes lined with fire, of all the women ready to push you aside, you will know we are here.”
Some may find my attitude a little flippant, but if there’s one thing I like to do, it’s speak bluntly. Social isolation is about as bad as it could be for someone who relies on social contact for sexual encounters. Everybody in relationships are isolating together, so much so, that I’ve been hearing people joking about a baby boom in 9 months. I predict the same, or a hella lot more divorces. Time will tell. Well, a few weeks ago, Jen here was all ready to get my groove on and have some fun, or weekend sexcapades, as I like to call them. Mother nature had different plans for me; she got me really sick, with pneumonia as an added measure to keep me down and quiet. So quiet I stayed, at home and rested as much as possible, alone. I kept my plans to travel to Montreal to see my daughter, a PhD candidate at McGill. When I left Montreal, I was feeling like I was back to my pre-sick self, so when I returned home to New Brunswick, I was ready to let loose again. Surprise!!! Nope. Mother nature thwarted me yet again by interrupting my plans with an unexpected shark week. So, taking my cue from nature, I again took it easy for another week, eagerly anticipating my return to “normal life”. This was not to be because in the cruelest twist of fate, or one f’d up sense of humour by good ol’ mama nature, she unleashed a corona virus, COVID 19, which in effect, has again circumvented my efforts to have some fun. I don’t know what kind of a sick sense of humor mother nature has, but right now I’m not very appreciative of it; then again, maybe this is her way of protecting me from catching the virus, who knows. The point is, as much as it sucks, and it does suck, I am paying attention and I am listening to the experts. This virus is nothing to fool around with. We need to take this seriously. I am taking this seriously. I am not having any fun. Zero fun. I’ll live. We need the rest of ya’ll to take this seriously too.
What I realize, which a lot of politicians and some elite do not, is that so many people in New Brunswick have a hard time making ends meet. Many don’t have supplies stockpiled for two days, never mind two weeks. It’s easy for those who have everything they need, with lots of money, and resources to make sure they and their friends and families are okay, but there are too many Nber’s who are struggling. We need to keep reminding our politicians and our elite, that we are the poorest province in Canada. Many of our people are not doing well. They already have food insecurities, and the greediness of some people buying up everything they can, adds more needless anxiety to those who are poor or for those who are waiting to get paid. If you have weeks worth of supplies to carry you through, that’s great. I’m happy for you. Just get off your well-stocked, high horse towards others who do not have the luxury or the financial capabilities to take care of themselves the way the elite suggests. “Just isolate”, “get what you need ahead of time and stay home”, “don’t go to work, are you crazy”, or one of the best ones I’ve heard yet is, ” there’s no reason why everyone shouldn’t have 3 weeks worth of supplies built up in case of emergency”. I’ve heard these things from people in whom I have great respect. They don’t mean any harm. They just don’t recognize their own privileged position in life. What I find disappointing about it is, just how out of touch these people are with just how poor a lot of our people are. They are out of touch with the fact that people choose food over medications they need to take; sometimes that is life-saving medication. I started writing this blog post with a little lightheartedness because I think it’s important we keep our senses of humour, and god knows we could all use a break from the ominous seriousness that is COVID 19.
The long and short of it is, we are going to be okay. We will come together in spirit, rather than in person, and collectively knock the hell out of COVID 19. If there’s one thing NBer’s are known for, it’s being a strong and resilient bunch. We will see this through. Though this is a very anxiety-provoking situation we find ourselves in, we can alleviate these feelings by staying in touch with our support systems via social media or other mediums that don’t require close physical contact. Share the negative or depressing feelings with those in whom you feel safe and are able to trust. Don’t bottle things up. If you need help, ask for it. It’s when everything seems like it’s going wrong, that you may feel like you are coming to the end of your rope. if this happens, tie a knot and hold on for dear life. This will not last forever, and neither will your bad feelings or your bad day. Hang in there folks. This will all be over before we know it, and we will, I hope, have learned some valuable lessons. See ya’ll after isolation ends. Jen Smith
2019 was a hell of a year for me. It started in January when I got unexpectedly laid-off by SNC Lavalin. Losing gainful employment is, of course, very stress-inducing. Many New Brunswickers are facing this very prospect right now due to the measures being taken against the Covid 19 virus pandemic. Shortly after my time with SNC Lavalin, I was asked by an individual running in a political provincial leadership race, if I would help him. I agreed to help him because I am a nice person, and we were both affiliated with the same political party. I had also taken on additional responsibilities with this party during the same time period. Because I felt such push back against the leadership candidate who had originally asked for my assistance, I decided to dig in. This candidate was a visible minority, and had several other factors unique to him, that I had heard would be used against him to bring him down. I am an eternal defender of an underdog, especially when dirty tactics, and money and power come into play. This is a huge issue because those with selfish ideals and unscrupulous agendas are the ones who are calling the shots behind the scenes. These are the wealthy elite, who buy friendship, who buy loyalty, who buy favors, and who buy votes, for all intents and purposes. As I have stated in previous blog posts, I was already in the grasp of mental illness. I was trying so hard to do the right thing. I was trying so hard to convince others to do the right thing. So many agreed, but most couldn’t find the courage or the strength to come forward. Some were just selfish, the “what’s in it for me” stage of thinking that seems to come too easy for a lot of people. Despite my communications with the now, former executive director of this provincial political association, impressing upon him how badly I was struggling, and how the pressure that they were putting on me to conform was killing me, he and others, set out to deliberately cause me more harm, by using techniques that are known to be very harmful to those who are struggling with mental illness. A year of mistreatment from this party resulted in a dangerous depression. Rock bottom for me happened in early December. I almost lost my life. I almost lost my life on the steps of this party’s head quarters. They knew. They know. They don’t care. I have never heard a peep from one individual from that party, expressing concern for my well-being or my safety. That’s okay. It’s actually great. It was just what I needed to facilitate my own turn around. When I say the current administration and many MLA’s of this party are heartless monsters, I am not kidding. I mean every word. They are. After December 10th, I never looked back. Thankfully, I am in a really great place, thanks to modern medicine, therapy, and a plethora of supportive people around me. It’s a beautiful feeling. You may be wondering why I bring it up at all? I’ll tell you exactly why. The actions, and inaction of this party almost cost me my life. There is no way possible, I can allow them to do this to another living human being. I will never forget what they did. I will never let them forget what they did. I will continue to remind them, and other parties, that education about mental illness, and how to treat people who are struggling, is desperately needed. I will bring this to light at every possible opportunity.
“You either walk inside your own story and own it, or you stand outside your story & hustle for it’s worthiness.”
My story is a little rough around the edges. It’s full of mishaps and adventure. It’s full of pain and distrust. It’s full of success and triumph. It’s full of hate and anger. It’s full of understanding and forgiveness. It’s full of fear and uncertainty. It’s full of hope and perseverance. It’s full of love and caring. It’s full of empathy and compassion. Mine is a story of painful lessons and beautiful truths. When I first started writing this blog, I was sharing my pain and struggles, and how I tried to overcome them. Like any author’s writing, my writing style and process has evolved over time; it has become an intricate part of who I am and how I express myself. Throughout this process somewhere I discovered the power in being vulnerable. I accepted myself for all of my attributes, both good and bad. I can turn any negative into a positive, and I used the events of the past year in the same way. I don’t operate in the same way as other people, and just when you think you have me figured out, it’s a new day. Keep dreaming!
One of the best things about allowing yourself to be vulnerable, is that you allow truth to be the main aspect of your life. Most politicians are so concerned with their appearance, and putting on airs, that they hide the best parts or the worst parts – who they really are. I am beyond grateful that I am just able to be myself. I’ve been told by many for most of my life, to tone down certain parts of my personality. I used to. I gave that up for authenticity. I will not pretend for anyone; not for friends, not for family, and not for politics. No one. What you see is what you get, and I promise you two things: I pull no punches and I shoot straight from the hip. Perfection is not required to inspire or help others, they will be inspired by your ability to overcome your imperfections and struggles. 2019 was one of the toughest years of my life. 2020 is my year, watch for it!
I am formally announcing my intention to run for MLA, in the New Maryland Sunbury Riding, as a Registered Independent Candidate, in the next Provincial election, whenever that date is determined in the not-so-distant future.
I have had extensive experience volunteering for a political party for a number of years, and I have gained much needed knowledge of how our political system works, and how by design, the odds are clearly and blatantly stacked in favour of our two main provincial political parties.
I was born in Oromocto, and have lived in Geary for most of my life, surrounded by many of my family members. I work as a Human Resources Administrator at the Canadian Forces School of Military Engineering. My daughter is a PhD candidate at McGill University, and my son is a single father of a little girl and also works full-time for Xerox in Saint John.
I will delve into deeper issues for which I stand in the near future. For now I will say this much; I am an intelligent, articulate, empathetic person, but I am also very well-known for being a fierce and formidable opponent. One thing I, and the multitude of people I have had conversations with in our riding, know with absolute certainty is, we need a voice. We need a strong voice. We need someone who will fight for the people who have been forgotten. We need someone who can speak freely, without having to tow a party line. We need someone in the New Maryland Sunbury Riding, who will fight for our needs, and for our best interests, not for what’s in the best interest for the governing party of the day. That someone is me.
Today is International Women’s Day. I am extremely proud to announce my political aspirations, on a feminist site, and share it to a movement that is based on absolute truth and accountability, founded by women, but supported by many; on a day devoted to celebrating women and all of our accomplishments. This is an amazingly powerful feeling. Thank you to every woman who fought for our rights, and made it possible for me to undertake this ambitious endeavor. Thank you.
There is another thing that I am well-know for; that is being a relentless debater and fighter for what I believe in. I protect those I care about. I protect my own. I will protect and defend my riding and my community like they are my own. I protect my people. Ya’ll are my people. Welcome to the fold.
Jen Smith – New Maryland Sunbury Independent Candidate
Guess who’s back? Like Eminem, when he announced his return to the music world, so will I announce the same to my ridiculously smaller, but no less faithful audience. I had to take a three month “hiatus”. I’m not sure that’s the proper word to describe my break from writing. It seems like a more fitting analogy would be something to the effect of “my train went completely off the rails”, and I had to get it back on track. Mental illness is a curious thing. I tried to put the brakes on depression all last year. Somehow I thought I could control it. I am smart aren’t I? I mean I know about this stuff don’t I? I majored in sociology. I took social psychology. I had plenty of counselling over the years. I thought the answers I already had in my head could help me. The one snag I didn’t consider was that I did not have control of my brain. I thought I did. I did not. I couldn’t stop my mind from spinning a million miles an hour, around and around. My already analytical mind was in hyper drive trying to keep up. My spiral to rock bottom was a sure thing. I was the only one who couldn’t see it coming until I crash landed. Nearly dying can profusely and profoundly change ones perspective. I am no different. My near death experience taught me many things: Be grateful for what I have. first and foremost, my life. I am still here for my kids and for my granddaughter. in the worst grips of depression I thought that they would be be better off without me. Even I can hardly fathom that right now. It’s like it was another person; technically it was. I don’t recognize that woman anymore.
Another important lesson I learned is to really look at the people around me, and see who really cared if I lived or died. It was admittedly humbling to realize the few people who were left standing by my side. These saints of human beings cared if I lived. They wanted me to. They saw me for who I really was. They cared enough to just listen. They didn’t judge. They stayed calm, even when I wasn’t. They talked calmly to me. They reassured me. They gave me a safe space to heal. They gave me permission to just be myself. They didn’t judge me when I shared the most heart-wrenching feelings with them. Some of them cried with me. Some of them saved me from myself. I’m grateful for everyone of them. I see these people and I will never forget them. They are in my heart forever. I also see those who harmed me. I see those who relish still, in the plummet I took into a desperately dangerous depression. I saw them crowding me, figuratively speaking, pressuring me to bend to their will, isolating me, removing my support. I saw them be terrible human beings completely lacking in empathy and education about mental illness. I know who the people are, who didn’t care if I lived or died. I see you. I will always see you. I see you for what you are, not what you pretend to be in front of others. I know what you are. We don’t need to pretend with each other. You’re only fooling yourselves. I am not fooled. I know. I see you.
What Being a Woman Means to Me.
With International Women’s Day swiftly approaching I started thinking of what a woman is, besides the obvious. The definition of a woman means many things to many different people, and that’s okay. The fact of the matter is, women can be whatever they want. We have been pressured for so many years, to act a certain way, to talk a certain way, to dress a certain way, to think a certain way, to work a certain way, to respond a certain way, to react a certain way, to raise children a certain way, to please our men a certain way, and to have sex a certain way. “Act like a lady” is something I heard whenever I misbehaved in front of my paternal grandmother, our family matriarch of many years. I didn’t even cover all of the bases. A real and very raw viral video featuring Cynthia Nixon reciting the “Be a lady they said” piece drew love and acknowledgement from practically every woman in North America. It resonated with so many of us for a good reason. It was bathed in absolute truths. Beautiful truths. Painful truths. Common truths. Unknown truths. Unacknowledged truths. It hit us at our very core, at least, I know it did for me. I thought I was living unapologetic in every area of my life. Anyone who knows me, or who has spent five minutes around me, knows intimately that I am a very blunt, straight forward, and very candid woman. I don’t mince words, and I get straight to the point. There’s nothing I haven’t talked about or admitted in my blogs or in my conversations with those who know me. Honestly, I have been mostly upfront about myself, except for one area. Sex. I like it. I love it. I want some more of it. Some of you might be singing those song lyrics in your head about now. The rest of you, I don’t know what to say, google it. Women are shamed for wanting sex. We are shamed for enjoying sex. Oh, it’s all fine if you’re married or in a long-term relationship, but if you are a single woman, it’s just not lady-like to go after sex; never mind having frequent, casual sexual encounters. There are plenty of creative names for women like me: slut, whore, man-eater. I could go on, but I think I’ve more than made my point. This is the final area of my life that I have not put on full display for one main reason. Society has told me and every other woman that is shameful for us to want to have sex, other than for reproductive purposes. Considering I’m in my 40’s, having sex for reproductive purposes are quite frankly not on the menu for me. So what is a girl to do, when she doesn’t want kids, but is single and in her sexual prime? There are a few options. I’ve tried the dating sites, but ending up with a psycho stalker is a roll of the dice. The few times I’ve tried it, it didn’t work out so well. I did end up meeting a couple folks who showed me a really good time. Wink wink. I have also had a terrible experience with someone whom I had met on a dating site. Didn’t work out so well for me that night. A hard lesson, very well learned. Hooking up with friends and such, is not really a good idea either. It’s hard to find someone who just wants to have sex, with no strings attached. Actually, I should correct myself. It’s hard to find a not-married someone who just wants to have sex, with no strings attached. My best option, usually ends up going to a bar, and picking up some unsuspecting individual, who in all likelihood, thought they were going to have to try a little harder for it, and not have it hit them straight in the face, so to speak. Surprise! Sex can be very empowering. It holds its own power. As a woman, I’ve learned to harness that power and to enjoy it. I allow myself to just be free. I don’t care what people think. I don’t care what people say. I live for myself, and to have fun while I still can. I am a fiery, passionate person, in every aspect of my life. I am not ashamed. I am powerful, and I know it. Not unlike a lot of men, women can also be overwhelmed by their own sexuality and it can run us into some unforeseen situations. We can also think with out wrong body part. I’ve been caught devouring someone with my eyes, someone whom I would have preferred not to have been caught by, luckily, I am able to laugh about it now, and can look this person in the eyes again. When our eyes locked, I immediately felt shame for being a sexual human being, and most especially because I am a woman, and society expects us not to feel those things, never mind think them. I am not ashamed. I’m okay with it. I’m more than okay with it. I enjoy myself immensely. Isn’t that what life is all about? The long and short of it is, do whatever makes you happy. Women should all stand up for each other, that also includes trans women. If we can’t support all women, we truly don’t support women. It’s okay to just be you. Be fancy, be frilly, be smart, be tough, be powerful, be sexy, be inquisitive, be weird, be reserved, but just be you! That’s what being a woman is in a nutshell; whatever the fuck she wants to be. That’s what I’ll be celebrating on International Women’s Day; the freedom to just be me, with no fucking apologies to anyone.
To all Members of the Legislative Assembly of New Brunswick:
There are important distinctions to make when it comes to public discourse surrounding the vaccines distributed for use and dispensed by health professionals in Canada. Dispelling the easily accessible and the widely distributed misinformation, which is being propelled relentlessly by the anti-vaccination movement, is one of these important distinctions.
I graduated in 2016 from the University of New Brunswick, with a Bachelor of Science in Medicinal Chemistry, and conducted my honours research in biophysical chemistry at Cornell University. I am currently a 3rd year PhD Candidate in Pharmacology at McGill University. I can speak confidently about the veracity of the research conducted by experts in this field. I am going to provide you with factual information; sources provided.
Vaccines do not contain, nor do they introduce, a live virus or bacteria into an individual. A crucial piece of information, and important to note is, viruses and bacteria contain molecules, which are located on their surfaces. Vaccines distributed in Canada, contain only the molecules extracted from the surfaces. What happens is, when the molecule is injected into an individual, it then interacts with that individual’s immune cells, in order to trigger a response. This then trains the immune system to recognize and fight off this specific molecule, if it is ever found to be present on a virus introduced to that individual in the future.
There are no adverse health effects for an average, healthy person when receiving a vaccine. Vaccines are suspended in a mixute of chemicals. One of the common substances found in the mixture is a preservative, called thimerosal. Many conspiracy theorists belive that it is the thimerosal in vaccines that causes autism. This is based off of a 1998 study done by Wakefield. The article that was published by Wakefield was redacted by the journal, because his work has been widely discredited due to several irresponsible design flaws. Countless studies have since been conducted and published, concretely demonstrating no link between vaccines and Autism.
Price CS, Thompson WW, Goodson B, Weintraub ES, Croen LA, et al. Prenatal and Infant
Exposure to Thimerosal from Vaccines and Immunoglobulins and Risk of Autism. Pediatrics. Epub 2010 Sep 13.
Tozzi AE, Bisiacchi, Tarantino V, De Mei B, D’Elia L, et al.
Neuropsychological Performance 10 Years After Immunization in Infancy with Thimerosal-Containing Vaccines. Pediatrics
Pharmacology & Therapeutics
We sincerely hope that our legislators are able to take a step back, and clinically consider the evidence corroborated by scientists from the most respected and revered educational and research institutions the world over. The vast majority of reputable scientists agree and have confirmed, time and again, the effectiveness and the safety of vaccines. Science is dispassionate. It’s objective. It’s specific methadology. While we completely understand parents’ hurt, in the anti-vaccination movement, at having no credible explanation for a child’s illness, we ask that our elected officials weigh the considerable, tangible, scientific evidence which has been provided to you by experts. It is up the you to protect our most vulnerable, this includes unnecessary risks to public health. Allowing our children, especially our children with compromised immune systems, to be exposed to such highly contagious diseases, is not only shameful, quite frankly, it’s irresponsible. These are preventable diseases. The worst illness a New Brunswick parent should ever have to worry about, is their child catching the flu or a cold, when sending them off to school.
It’s no big secret that I have been struggling for a few months. I only recognized the signs of my own depression in the middle of June this year. In hindsight, I can clearly see the signs I was exhibiting, which started sometime in January. I went down hill from there. I went downhill, because I wasn’t aware. I went downhill because, initially, the people around me either weren’t aware or they didn’t care. Either way, this is unacceptable. Whether it was from lack of education on how to treat someone with mental illness or whether actions were knowingly taken to undermine and cause further harm, the obligation is on the organization to implement the laws that govern the responsibilities which institutions are required to undertake and adhere to . This institution has a legal requirement not to discriminate, neither overtly nor non-overtly, against an individual with mental illness. When the very people and the institutions that are responsible for governing us, that write legislation, and approve funding, have zero awareness or empathy for their own people who are struggling with mental illness, where does that leave everyone else, given the prevalence of mental illness in New Brunswick? It leaves everyone out in the cold. It leaves them alone to struggle, to play Russian roulette with their lives. It leaves those who are struggling to function everyday, alone and afraid to reach out for help; it isn’t there anyways, so who are they reaching out to? It leaves out the families and friends of those who are suicidal, desperate to find help, compassion, and understanding. It leaves them out in the cold, with no one to reach out to for help. It isn’t there. Mental illness is not taken seriously by our elected officials. It’s an uncomfortable topic. People don’t like to talk about things that make them uncomfortable. We have people of all ages, all backgrounds, all socioeconomic statuses, and educational accomplishments, who complete suicide everyday. We all heard about the very tragic, public suicide in our province recently. We’ve all had a chance to hear other people’s stories, about the desperation felt by those struggling, and by the friends and the family members who are desperate to find them help, only to discover it isn’t there. My family has experienced two suicides in recent years; both beautiful women.One of them very young, with hardly an opportunity to experience life; the other, an educated, accomplished, woman, who had every reason to be proud of herself. My own depression has brought me to a surprising place on two different occasions. I had never before experienced what I have gone through in recent months. I couldn’t have fathomed it until I personally experienced it. I took all the necessary steps to recover. I did everything I could to pull myself out of the deep state I was in. It lasted…for a while. Another fall was inevitable. It was inevitable because I wasn’t being honest with myself. I wasn’t thinking of my own goals, my own passions, my own fire. I couldn’t work towards getting better because I was still feeling conflicted. I was still feeding the anger. I was pushing things I didn’t want to think about aside. I was unable to make a decision. I was being pulled in so many different directions, it made me struggle with my inability to see a clear path. It hit me, very suddenly, dead in the face, just the other day. When it did, an instant calmness and acceptance washed over me. The light finally came on, and I was able to make a decision. I felt at peace with it. I still do. I’m doing what’s best for me and channeling my sense of purpose into areas that ignite the inferno in my soul. I know what I need to focus on, and my intensity and passions will take me where I need to be, where I belong. I found the courage I had all along, it was just steamrolled out of me temporarily. It made me falter. It shook my confidence. It was like taking a bat to the knees. It brought me down, but I have been slowly crawling my way back up to a standing position, gloves up, chin protected. Sharing my vulnerability has given me so much strength. I faced my fears and chased down my demons, exposing all the things about myself that I perceived as weakness, I tossed these painful truths out at the world, and I felt immediate connections with others who reached out to me; some to offer strength and support, other’s to share their pain and struggles. Each one of these people, played a crucial part in keeping me here in this world, at a time when I didn’t feel worthy enough to be a part of it; they helped me see my story isn’t over yet.
“You have to be burning with an idea, or a problem, or a wrong that you want to right. If you’re not passionate enough from the start, you’ll never stick it out.”Steve Jobs
Mental Illness Affects More People Than You Might Think
The thing about depression, anxiety, and other mental illnesses, is they are much more prevalent than some might think. It dramatically increases in those over age forty. The fear of stigma and judgement usually keeps those who are suffering from asking for help. Tell your story. It might just be the lifeline someone else clings to that offers them a sliver of hope. You are not alone. Share your story. It will get better.
My life-long anxiety made me more vulnerable to the depression that hit me this summer. I experienced a dramatic shift in my thinking over the winter. People I had put blind faith in, and gave automatic trust to, were not deserving of it. Lesson learned. Always lessons to be learned, and I often learn them the hard way. I tried to hold on as long as I could considering the circumstances. I’ve had to forgive myself for feeling the failure of not being able to live up to the commitments that I had made. The reasons were twofold. First, there was the moral dilemma I was facing, the personal inner turmoil of knowing something had been done wrong, and my complicity by remaining in my position. Secondly, my mental health had reached a critical point, due to my anxiety and depression, exacerbated by the actions of others. I had no choice but to resign and to leave. To a person who feels a strong sense of loyalty, duty, and dedication, setting those principles by the wayside is extremely difficulty to do at the best of times; when caught in the unyielding grip of anxiety and depression, faced with alienation and isolation from those around you, it’s potentially deadly. I’ve had to forgive those who don’t think they’ve done me wrong. They don’t even know they’ve done others wrong. I can’t change that. I’ve had to forgive myself, for the anger and frustrations I expressed when I was ready to give up hope. I’m trying to forgive myself for my high expectations, of myself and of those around me, for harsh judgement of myself, and for turning my back on something I believed in, right to my very core. I’ve come to terms with the fact that there is nothing wrong with changing your mind. There is nothing wrong with leaving a situation or leaving people when things don’t feel right to you anymore. If you can’t be your authentic self, and you can’t be honest or respected by those with whom you are associated, it’s time to move on. That isn’t to say that moving on is easy. It never is, for anyone. As always, I see things in others easier than I do in myself. It’s a lot harder to acknowledge and recognize my own short comings. I recently heard the phrase, “the standard you walk past is the standard you accept.” I heard this from people who embody and exemplify principles like honour, and doing the right thing. It was at that exact moment that I knew wholeheartedly, I had done the right thing months ago. You owe it to yourself to be honest. It’s expected. There’s always a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do. I couldn’t in good conscience, as a human being, turn my head and look the other way. Doing the right thing often difficult. When I come to those many forks in the road, as we all must do, I may debate and struggle momentary on the cusp of a decision, I will instinctively weigh the cost or the benefits of my actions; inevitably I listen to my gut instinct, and to that mantra in my head, ingrained in my psyche since I was a child; my father’s voice, “there’s always a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do.” Do the right thing.That doesn’t always mean I get it right. Sometimes I get it wrong, but I always try, and I admit and own up to my mistakes. I am not perfect, I have much to learn. I also have much to offer. It took me way to long to realize this, but it’s something I will never allow myself to forget. I have many friends who keep reminding me. I can only live my truth, and spend my time and energy where it is best served, where my strengths are; with writing and fighting for women’s rightsand equality for all.
Coming Full Circle
Life is funny sometimes. I find it odd how lessons are delivered to me at times. Sometimes I don’t even realize it’s a lesson until I’ve had time to reflect. That’s life. Nobody has the handbook on how to live life perfectly, although lots of people think they have the formula figured out. The high volume of self-help books and how-to books confirm this. The truth is, nobody has everything figured out. We all stumble around sometimes, unsure of what to do, cruising along on autopilot, just putting the days in. Other times, we’re at a high altitude, reveling in the glory that is life. If we are lucky enough, we will find our calling, our purpose. It took me a long time to find my purpose. The traumas I experienced throughout my life, sidetracked my goals, and made my vision cloudy. It was when my kids moved out and went to university that I finally found the time, and the chance to delve into what would rapidly light my fire. My natural protective instincts led me to champion for women’s rights. At the time, I was already on board with the Liberals, but Brian Gallant’s stance with ammending the 84-20 regulation, was in my opinion, and many others, not enough. This inspired a call to action for me and for my daughter. We found ourselves protesting the Gallant government at the legislature for their failure not to extend public funding to private clinics.The following year, my support for the Liberals was cemented by Justin Trudeau’s declaration of support for women’s rights, among other policies that I was happy at the time to get on board with. The point is, women’s rights were what sparked my fire and drew me to the Liberal party. Somewhere along the line over the last four years, I lost sight of what inspired me in the first place; equality and social justice. Temporary people taught me permanent lessons. The time has come around again for me to invest in my own growth. See you in the ring…
When you see the eyes lined with fire, of all the women ready to shove you aside, you will know we are here.”
No one is born with confidence. It’s something that’s developped over time, with age and learned knowledge. It means believing in yourself, in your talents and abilities. It’s having a skill-set, and the wherewithal to apply it in everyday life. Unfortunately, confidence seems to be ever-elusive for too many women. Media, especially in western society, has dictitated the stereotypical notion of what a confident woman shoud look like; from hair length, style, cut, and colour, to what colour and how much make-up to wear, to what is considered a desirable height and weight, to how much muscle is too much to be still considered feminine. Then there’s the fake eyelashes, eyebrows, lips, eyecolour, haircolour, breast size, butt size, waist size, skin colour, and so on. The beauty industry has an eternal grip on the well-being of women. This industry has in recent years branched out; it has targeted the previously unknown and untapped revenue stream from the insecurity of men, with skin care and hair care regimens. As a lot of us have discovered as we age, physical beauty is a fleeting thing. In my youth, like a lot of young women, I relied heavily on my appearance and tied it directly to my self-worth. Fortunately, I was also an athlete, so I was able to build more confidence and self-esteem by competing fairly and squarely. Each win inspired a competative drive to want to win more. Each stinging loss taught me the value of needing more practice, finding the determination to work harder, swearing to myself to be more perseverant, and most imortantly, the ability to visualize that win. There are many factors that come into play for each individual when it comes to self-confidence. Education, a good support system, a balanced work-home life, good friends, good health, and financial security are just a few things that come to mind as traditional “recipies” to follow in order to have a fullfilling life. But what about the unkempt middle-aged guy who labours hard all day, has a big-beer-belly, sports the swagger of a MMA fighter, and has no problem approaching a woman that others might view as being beneath him? Where does his killer confidence come ? Why can’t a woman with a baby belly feel as confient? What is the dividing line? Why do men get more distinguished with wrinkles, age, and grey hair? Why is the same thing for women considered unbecoming? Why is is okay for men to be open and honest about sex and sexuality, but for women, it’s frowned upon, undignified even? The answers to these questions are going to vary from individual to individual because we don’t all value the same things. If we were luckly enough, and I was, we had parents who instilled the values we hold true to ourselves today. Of course, times change, but traditional values like honesty, dependability, and integrity, have not changed with time. They remain steadfast in many of us today.
I have found it especially difficult in certain situations, to remain true to myself and my beliefs. Not that I find being honest and forthright difficult, far from it, but it’s the inevitable conflict that arises when dealing with individuals who like to blur the lines between what is right and what is wrong. A friend of mind, a medical Dr., recently recounted to me, “in order to be successful in politics, you need to be okay with getting into bed with some bad men.” (side note: her statement also reflects the dismal fact that men still dominate most aspects of the political arena) Almost sounds fun, but it’s not. I’ve dealt with these people. I’m sure I’ll be dealing with them again, but from now on the blinders will be off, along with the rose-coloured glasses. I haven’t lost my voice, I’ve been channeling my efforts into healing myself and learning. I’m always learning. I’ve learned some valuable lessons over the past six months. I do not let any lesson go to waste; these lessons will be incorporated into my interactions whenever I’m dealing with ANYONE involved in politics.
I am fortunate enough to say that I have killer confidence. I own my flaws and my faults, I own my analytical and strategic abilities, I own my frustrations and anger, I own my beauty and my sensuality, I own my good communications skills and my strong work ethic. Like the plethora of women now shouting out all over the world, I too will be heard. I thought I belong to a group that embraced diversity, and promoted inclusion, but I was proven sadly wrong from too many individuals that held executive positions, so I now know better. I could have belonged; I did belong, as long as I towed the line, and didn’t offer up any other opinion. In other words, just sit there and look pretty, but don’t question. Just nod your head in agreement or prepare for a barage of subtle but very incidious ways and means that will be used to drive you out. They aren’t monsters though, don’t get me wrong, they will give you a chance to mend your ways, by sending some trusty delegates to “have a talk with you”, under the guise of being your friend; or they may have different delegates send you messages or call you. The long and short of it is, belonging to something means having a seat at the table and having your voice be heard, and not just heard, listened to. My voice was stomped on, discouraged, met with scowls, laughter, and judgement; in spite of this, I did use my voice, loudly and often. This is why I’m no longer affiliated with that association. They leaned on me, and leaned on me, knowing I was in a very anxious, upset state, fighting off a serious depression. I fought them off for 6 long months all by myself. They tried to kill my confidence, but they only temporarily succeeded. I dusted off my knees and bounced right back. I am just one woman with a torch, but this torch will always be lit, guiding the way for anyone that wants to join me, or follow behind. I am but one match, but I will make an enormous explosion.
Those of you that follow my blog and my social media know that I struggled with things that happened between me and an association with which I am no longer affiliated. Things were said. Things that did not sit well with me. Things were done. Things that did not line up with what I believed to be right. People who I admired and respected, had suddenly cast themselves in a different light, a darker light. I became leery of those that I had put the most stock in. We may have once shared ideas and visions, but we do not share the same principles, nor do we share the same concept of what is right and what is wrong; mostly we do not agree on accepted practices how they treat their own people who disagree with them. Unfortunately, I have nobody to blame for that except me. I have very high expectations of myself, and that extends to those around me whom I hold in high esteem. The difference between me and some of those that wield power in this association is, I have a problem hurting people. I have a problem turning a blind eye and not saying something when I know wrong is being done to someone. Up until January, I had only seen the fun side of politics. The campaigns where I had found so much enthusiasm and hope, grabbed something in me and held on, even in the face of bitter defeat. The camaraderie and the team work, with everyone pitching in and making an effort to reach a collective goal. The shared grief and disappointment, when a candidate you had been exhaustively supporting, sees defeat at the polls. It’s all part of it, and I don’t regret a minute of the time I spent on campaigns that I have been a part of, and contributed to significantly. There are some memories I will always reflect on as a positive learning experience, others were learning experiences, but not the lessons I thought they’d be. My world got rocked, and not in a good way. My hands were tied, in some ways they still are. I went off lately.. a lot. I finally released the pent-up frustrations, and the bitter taste of blood in my mouth, from the blows I received from what I thought were my people. Obviously, I was wrong, my people would have never done that to me.
I feel I owe some an apology. My family and friends, who saw me struggle, but could do nothing but watch, stand behind me, and offer support when it was needed. To those that talked to me, and sent me messages, sometimes just to say hi and check up on me. All of you have seen me process and know the lengths I will go to in order to live up to what has been demanded of me all these years, trying to do the right thing. Granted, I may have missed the mark a few times, but that is typical of the steep learning curve called life. I missed the mark recently, and for that, I am sorry. The mind is a curious thing. I know my intelligence is a gift, and I have tried to use it to benefit myself and my children as best as I could. Challenging my mind has always been one of my favourite things to do, and I usually don’t take it for granted, until I was hit with a sudden and overwhelming depression recently; my mind betrayed me. It wasn’t working like it usually did. A part of it would think logically, and ground itself in fact-based knowledge, but a part of it was cloudy, and seemed just out of my reach. This is mental illness. It doesn’t matter how smart or educated you are, when it grips you, it’s powerful and consuming, despite relentless efforts to gain control. I am responsible for my actions and my words, of this I have no doubt. The efforts others went to, to deliberately isolate me, and “punish” me for not towing the line, were stressors that contributed significantly to the decline in my mental health. As they circled closer, my disbelief and distrust grew stronger; subsequently, so did my defiance. All I can say is that I was desperately hurting. I had to hold it in for months. I couldn’t talk to them about it because it pissed them off; I tried many times with many different people. I couldn’t question them, and even when I did, they hid behind legislation or feeble answers. I stuffed my hurt for months, feeling helpless and more hopeless with each day that passed with no resolution. Like a bomb, I was bound to go off. Eventually I did, and I did it with gusto. The recipient of my pent-up hurt and inevitable anger was the executive director of this association. I expressed my hurt, my frustration, and my struggle, openly and honestly, with my usual blunt candor. While it was mostly polite, I used a vulgar expression to communicate the helplessness I felt at the time. My honesty and forthrightness was not well received to say the least, but it did teach me a valuable lesson, or several of them: rich people who have lived a life of immense privilege do not like to be questioned or criticized, and have no idea what we “normal” people go through every day of our lives. They have literally no clue. It’s like growing up on different planets. I’ve had to rely on my own resourcefulness just to feed myself and my kids, just to survive. We were so poor when I was going to university, I couldn’t buy them any Christmas presents. I had to rely on the food bank to feed them a few times when they were little. I didn’t have friends in high places to call upon when life threw my a curve ball. I didn’t have my family’s wealth and power to bail me out of situations. I had to fight tooth and nail for everything I have had in my life. Nothing has come easy for me. When you’ve had to fight in the trenches for survival, you aren’t going to be relatable to someone that has lived a pampered life. That being said, while I was in the grip of depression, I was not able to think clearly, and I was rude to this person. I didn’t feel in control at the time, but I do now. As much as it pains me and humbles me, I apologize to him as well, for the onslaught of verbal frustrations that I thrust upon him. I can’t make him do the right thing, and frankly, I’m not interested in trying anymore. This is about personal accountability. This is for me as much as it is for him. If there is one thing I try to do, it’s own my shit and take responsibility for it. I am as upfront as anyone can get. I am going to continue to express my opinions and my feelings, but I will do it in a manner that is expected of me, and that I expect of myself. Throughout my “dive into the deep end”, if you will, I hurt people unintentionally. I didn’t realize just how powerful my words can be, and the collateral damage that they could cause. It’s not like I have a lot of experience with depression. I have only been there one other time in my life, when I was a teenager. I did not see the warning signs in myself. I had no idea I was going to plummet to such depths of despair, when faced with thoughtlessness and rejection from my social group. How could I when I’ve never really been there before? Of course, things became clearer after the fact. Hindsight is always 20/20. It wasn’t until I dug out my old sociology textbooks and delved in, that I remembered just how devastating being ostracized by your social group can be. The reason I had to dig out these old books was because I tried to make an appointment to get help, to get counselling, and I faced what other’s already knew; there is little to no help available. There are waiting lists. This help is over $100 per/hr. Those of us that live pay check to pay check can not afford such things. This is unacceptable. There are a staggering number of people that are suffering everyday, so close to the edge it would surprise you; it surprised me. When I was at my lowest recently, I felt suicidal. I can hardly believe it myself honestly. I have never in my life gone so far down a road that led to nowhere good. I feel shame about it, but I’m trying hard not to. It’s important to acknowledge and talk about it, for me and for others, to help bring awareness and end the stigma associated with mental illness. Thankfully, that dark period didn’t last long, and I was able to bring myself back from the very edge. I won’t get into details about how close I came to ending it all, but if anyone needs to talk, I’m open to discussing it. Only someone that has been there is going to truly understand. I didn’t understand until I experienced it so deeply. I did what I had to do to survive, as always. I’m okay, and I always will be. I am a fighter, and I will harness that survivor’s instinct.
New Beginnings are often disguised as painful endings. My ownness and responsibility begins and ends with deciding to stay as long as I did. I stayed because we shared a lot of laughs and good times, amid the struggles and disappointments. I stayed because when I give my word, I mean it. I stayed because I believed in the ideology, I still do. I stayed because I identified, because I felt like I belonged to something that I thought would make things better for everyone. For the most part, I believe that is still the case. Unfortunately, as is usual with most of the decision makers and legislators, men and money are the driving force behind the secret agendas common folk know nothing about. The day is coming when that will change, not likely soon, but I can never give up hope. I will wait patiently for a day of reckoning. As I said before in my blog post, “Back in the Saddle Again”, “when you see the bright eyes lined with fire, of all the women ready to shove you aside, you will know we are here.” I am going to be standing at the front of this line, arm-in-arm with my sisters and others that have felt your sting, ready to take our rightful place along side you. Be ready.
Someone of the male persuasion recently told me that “time heals all wounds.” I don’t find it at all surprising that a man would suggest that this old adage were true. Typically speaking, men are not in touch with their feelings and they hardly know how to identify the deep feelings that they experience. It’s a foreign concept to a lot of them. Women, on the other hand, know the benefits of being in tune with our feelings, and the relief in expressing them. What this man, a man of privilege, doesn’t seem to understand, is that time makes unhealed wounds fester. I know of what I speak. I AM a woman who has experienced trauma. The only way I know how to deal with the conflicting feelings and anger I’m having a hard time letting go of is to talk about it. I can’t keep burying it, but I feel like my hands are tied. Tied to people that don’t like me, don’t like my candor, and don’t want me involved; people that wish I would just go away. They don’t know me. They don’t appreciate what I have to offer. They can’t grasp the fact that if I could only get something to bite my teeth into, I’d be the biggest advocate and the loudest defender; not to mention the exhaustive efforts I put in to physically meet my obligations. But, I’m stuck with feeling hurt, feeling pain, feeling betrayed, feeling fucked over to put it bluntly. I feel very angry. I feel frustrated. I feel confused sometimes, but mostly I feel angry. It is a comfortable emotion for me. It’s one I try to avoid as much as possible now that I’m older because it isn’t healthy to hold on to it. It is; however, perfectly normal and healthy to feel anger and to express it. Luckily for me, I’ve been able to dump some of my anger on whom it belongs, but maybe not so lucky for those on whom I unleashed. It is what it is, and they quite frankly deserved some of my wrath. Some people prefer to avoid dealing with feelings by burying them. This only serves to prolong the pain; postpones it, if you will. In the meantime, all the pain you’re forcing me and others to swallow, manifests itself in other ways. We become less patient, more defensive, less amiable, more angry, less agreeable, more distrusting, more frustrated, less accountable. This goes on and eventually, despite our best efforts, one day we blow. A pressure cooker can only hold so much before it overflows. We are that pressure cooker. You expect us to just bury everything, with zero explanation and accountability, and wait for time to heal our wounds. Let me tell you buddy boys, that is never going to happen. You are going to feel the explosive power of many of us that feel cheated, betrayed, and lied to by our own people. I will be at the front of this revolution if something isn’t done. It would be a different story if it were other people that did such things to us. We’d expect that. It wasn’t. It was our own people. People we should have been able to depend on to act fairly, to act with integrity, to act impartially, to be helpful, but most importantly to want to see each of us succeed. That did not happen. I have come to realize that you just don’t care…you just don’t care. You only care about yourselves and your own dirty, elite inner circle. I’ve expressed the difficulty I’ve had trying to move on with no explanation, and not talking about it. It’s hurting me, and you don’t care. It makes me wonder why I give so much of my time, effort, money, and energy into an organization that doesn’t care what I think, or how I feel. It doesn’t care about its own “little people.” We don’t matter. I keep taking cheap shots because I feel like I’ve been left to die with my hands tied together. I feel things getting shoved in my face and down my throat. It’s a “get on board or else”, kind of situation. I was even told I had to be excited about it no less. Excited!!! Think about that for a minute. They have expectations on me to be excited about what I consider to be an unfair situation, and very unbecoming of us. I’m going through the motions. I’m doing it. I just didn’t know how I’m going to keep doing it. I either must submit, and bow down to the will of a select few, or keep making waves of displeasure. They know they have no worries though. I could school each of them on what loyalty really looks like. They have no idea. They compromise key values to win at all costs. I don’t want to win if I can’t do it fairly. I like competition. I’m not afraid of it like some people are. They only like a sure thing, a sure win. Eliminate the competition before they even get in the game. Let me be very clear; I WILL NOT BE SO EASY TO GET RID OF, OR THREATEN, OR BRIBE, OR SILENCE. I am loyal because it is in my bones, not because it is forced on me. I am a fighter. I am as tenacious as a dog with a bone when I am determined, and I have never been more determined in my life. At this point, you are either with me, or you’re against me. I feel like the part of my identity that I was so previously proud of has been hijacked by other people. Get off your elitist high horses or I’m going to personally knock you down off them. Get in touch with real people; with the common folk. The people beneath your feet. Try to remember what the values we espouse really mean, what they always stood for, what they should always stand for. This isn’t a long post. It’s a shit or get off the pot post. Get on board with what the rest of us are feeling, and deal with it, give us the support we need and we will support you; or prepare for battle!!! The only other option is getting the hell rid of me already. Do us both the favour. It might buy you a little time, before some other person can finally find the balls to speak out. It might buy you the time you need to push your agenda through. Who knows? Maybe it will be good for both of us. God pity you if I meet you on opposing sides.
I am so excited to see what Matt will continue to do for our Fredericton riding over the next few years. Proud to be a small part of it! His youthful exuberance can’t be replicated, or faked! It’s refreshing to have someone respresent all of us, no matter what. Most importantly, Matt cares about women’s rights and our youth. Help re-elect him!!
You may as well start calling me Steve Tyler, because, like Arrowsmith, it seems “I am back in the saddle again.” That’s ok. I thought there would have been a longer break from the child’s play. It’s not that I needed the break, it’s because I know how strong my personality traits can be. It’s because I know how my deep, loud voice, and my ability to meet any challenger eye-to-eye makes me a very powerful woman. It’s because my candor, forthrightness, intelligence, and broad vocabulary can be intimidating to some people. I figured others might need a break from me. They don’t. The ones that matter, don’t. The ones that do, don’t matter. I know I am a force because I draw my strength from a survivor’s instinct, yet I am unfailingly polite and friendly to mostly everyone, even when I vehemently disagree. I will never been weak, timid, or afraid. I will always stand up for what I believe and for people who can’t or won’t stand up for themselves. I meet confrontation with enough gusto to make a mob boss envious. When I feel threatened, I go on the offensive.
I was disappointed to recently discover that some people I know are not very gracious in their ill-gotten, perceived glory. I hear the digs. I pick everything up. It’s hilarious. If only they had the gumption and the balls to say it to me directly. They don’t. They beat around the bush and drop little hints because they aren’t brave enough to be real. They took credit for my ideas, not 30 minutes after I first made suggestions. I noticed. I’m a woman. I’m used to this shit. The people who did this were, you guessed it, men. Apparently they have very large egos that need to be satisfied. They will be waiting a long time for me to bend over and cave. It’s just not in me. Unlike them, I am able to put on my big girl pants and put the past behind me. It’s out of my control. It’s out of anyone’s control. As the saying goes, absolute power absolutely corrupts. Well, watch the hell out corruption; I know your names, I know your numbers, and I’m coming for you. There will be a lot of us coming when your world comes crashing down around you. You are not being honest with us, but more importantly you are not being honest with yourself. Check yourself before you wreck yourself.
We may have lost the battle but we WILL win the war. You aren’t going to control us much longer. At least I can walk with my head held high because I compromise nothing for anyone. I mean what I say and I say what I mean, and then I back it up with action.
Recent events have forced me to change how I perceive reality around me. If you thought I was hard before; stay tuned! The moral center of the institution in which I speak and have been channeling, is now off kilter. Because I was witness to ways that just don’t align with my concept of what is right, I’m going to be a little off guard while I’m waiting for the level of comfort to kick in again. Frankly, I’m supposed to conform, but I refuse. I’m loyal to a fault, so my commitment is unwavering, but my heart is not in it. I’m not stirred up. I can’t seem to get the fire going, but then; the speed of the team is the speed of the leader. I have a hard time following old, elite, white men because I know instinctively, as a forward thinking woman, that they do not have my best interest at heart. I long for the day when a woman leads. Not because she will be soft; exactly the opposite. I respect a hard woman. I can look in her eyes and know she has been to hell and back. I relate. The things I felt would kill me in the past only made me stronger, tougher, smarter, and more resilient. When I hit my 40’s I realized just how dangerous women are. 40’s for women come with a shift change; in spirit, in will, in mind, and in body. We don’t give a shit what you think. We don’t give a shit what you do. We don’t give a shit how much power and prestige you think you have. We just don’t care. We’ve been though the mill and came out the other side. We went though the tough 20’s, when girls are more lost than in their own presence of mind. We already struggled through our 30’s, desperately trying to prove ourselves to others, and wanting about all else to be taken seriously. Guess what ladies? If you are in your 20’s, or 30’s, there is hope. Women don’t need to prove themselves after age 40. We say “fuck that!” “You prove yourselves to us”! We demand power. We demand respect. We demand to be listened to. We ARE taken seriously. The power I have is that I have nothing to lose. I have had money. I have lived in poverty when I went back to university in my 30’s. I have seen both sides. It doesn’t scare me. I am afraid of no one. I am not daunted by child’s play. I am not going to back down, ever! I seize power, I don’t relinquish it. Women, power will never land at your feet…GRAB IT!
So where do I go from here? It would seem I’m left on my own to fight the “old boy’s club.” That’s ok though. I’m not afraid, although they should be. I’ve had my fill of privileged, old, white men deciding my fate. They’ve had my future in their hands my entire life. I’m not satisfied with what I’m left holding. A lot of people aren’t. It’s coming to an end. Women are coming for their rightful place. You should be shaking in your boots. It’s going to feel like a Mack truck when the force hits you. Women are unstoppable. Enjoy your pilfers while you can, but don’t enjoy it too long. If would behoove you to keep an eye over your shoulder, and when you see the bright eyes lined with fire of all the women ready to shove you aside, you will know we are here.
It’s been a little while since I felt like I was in the right head space to be able to blog. Technically, it wasn’t as much about the head space I was in, as much as it was NOT being able to write freely about what it is that has been troubling my mind as of late. Actually, I still can’t. My hands are tied, at least for the time being. It’s not like anyone tied them. I bound them myself with my unwavering loyalty and a sense of duty that I cannot shake. The words come to me so easily yet I find myself having to keep hitting that backspace bar routinely, because as I have often had to remind myself every time I tried to put pen to paper lately, “you can’t write that.” Let’s not forget what is important right now. There are dirty little secrets people don’t want spilled. Secrets that would cast them in a very negative light, not to mention the bad publicity that would soon follow. Tsk Tsk. No worries! Your secrets are safe with me. I like having aces up my sleeve! Being part of a team means being conscious of those around me and what their needs are. I respect my team. It’s for them that I am holding onto these shameful goings-on. The day and time will come when you will have to answer for these actions; if not from someone else, then definitely from me, when the time is right. I’m like an elephant; I NEVER forget.
It’s been a revealing time; a learning experience. I hardly remember feeling such harsh disappointment like I have felt in recent months, not only in some people who I previously held in the highest esteem, but mostly in the ideals and values that I thought we stood for. At the same time, I have felt such elation after having jumped every single hurdle or smashed apart each obstacle placed in my path. Things that were meant to wear me down instead gave me power. I may have, at times, had to slow down and catch my breath, but only temporarily, and never for long. Throughout the mental exhaustion, I never gave up. It’s just not in me to do that. I will fight for what I believe in until i take my last breath. There have been both good and bad experiences. I have learned that some people I thought were my friends, are not, but I have also made new friendships that have been built on blood, sweat, and tears while trying to achieve a common goal. These friendships are the best kind. I am grateful for all of them. I have seen people in positions of power, use their authority in the most sneaky, dirty, underhanded ways. These people use their power to crush those beneath them. What these people will find out, if they haven’t already, is, I am NOT so easy to crush. I am not intimidated. I never back down. I willingly accept the challenge. I will not go quietly or gently into the night, I will take some along with me for that ride. I mean, literally, I am a survivor! #metoo
I just want all of you to know that I deeply appreciate every word of encouragement, every message of support, and every kind gesture that so many of you sent my way. I even want to thank those that have taught me valuable lessons. I absorbed it all. There are no bad lessons. Just lessons well learned. I took one on the chin a few months ago, for something I believed in. I still believe in it or I wouldn’t be here. I just pulled my head out of the sand and chose to see the reality around me instead of the yarn that was being spun. It was like I was lost in the desert staring at a mirage. The image i was clinging to inevitably ebbed away. I’m staring back at a place that holds no sustenance, and if I don’t start moving I will slowly die waiting for it to come to me.
You may hurt me but you will never define who I am or what I stand for. Every struggle I have faced has made me stronger, smarter, and more resilient as a woman. I did not break. I will never break. I have the strength of too many women behind me to not carry on and move forward. I have many male friends and allies that I can count on to support me when I need it. I thank every one of you.
I know I may have taken some people by surprise, that’s why I’m a wild card. I can honestly say that it shouldn’t have come as a shock. I felt like I got backed into a corner. This requires a defensive play. I was not disillusioned. I knew what I was up against; patriarchy. Again, I was defeated by power, money, and an unfair system. That’s alright though. I learn something new every…single…time, and throw in my own spin just for fun. I accept all challenges head-on, and i am eagerly looking forward to the next one that comes my way.
Ladies, just remember we are as powerful, intelligent, and as calculating as any man on the planet. We are a force to be reckoned with, especially when we stick together. Remember that.
Four years ago I felt compelled to get involved in national politics in my local riding in New Brunswick. I always paid attention to the goings-on in the world, but from a safe place sitting on the sidelines. My passion for women’s equality, coupled with a drive to do something to make a difference in my community, my province, and my country, spurred me to randomly hit a volunteer button on a Facebook page one day while I was scrolling through my news feed. It was a political candidate page for Fredericton MP Matt DeCourcey. I knew nothing about Matt prior to stumbling upon his advertisement to recruit volunteers. After reading up on who he was and the objectives he set out to accomplish, I listened to my gut instinct and delved in further. Something made me press that button that day. I had never done anything of the like before. I honestly thought that my name would be one along side many, and that I would likely never be contacted. Instead, twenty minutes later I received a call from his volunteer coordinator asking me to get on board. I reluctantly said “yes.” Much to my surprise, she asked me if I could meet them that evening and join Matt going door-to-door to talk to residents in the riding. That day was a significant turning point in my life. It ignited the spark that was lying in wait. Matt was someone I could easily get behind, and the ideologies of the party lined up almost perfectly with my own sense of what is right and what is wrong. The spark that was ignited that day has turned into a raging fire. It’s an inferno I am not able to extinguish. I have been actively involved in volunteering for Matt’s team every time I am asked, no matter what the request is, unless I am working, injured, or travelling. This is a party for which I feel immense affiliation and loyalty. There have been some mistakes made along the way, we are not perfect, but overall I am happy with our party, and our vision of what Canada is, and should be. You see, I was raised by an educated, community-involved, socially concious family. There are many snippets of wisdom I can recall my father imparting on me when I was a youth as I was on my way out the door to hang out with friends. “Keep your head on straight” was something I frequently heard. Another, oft-repeated lesson he impressed upon me was, “there is a right thing to do, and a wrong thing to do.” At the time it seemed fluffy and philosophical; it didn’t impact my way of thinking immediately. I was a teenager, I had bigger things to worry about. As I aged and made mistakes, especially colossal ones, those expressions my father recounted to me when I was young would spin around in my mind like a neon sign, reminding me of my roots, reminding me of the values they instilled in me; values that grabbed a firm hold inside and grew exponentially through every difficult situation and moral equivocation I have ever had to consider. It is what made me sit for months every day with my developmentally challenged aunt while she was dying of brain cancer, despite the initial instinct to want to protect my own mental health with physical distance. It is what demanded me to take on a corporate giant all alone for ignoring discriminating practices in the work place against women… and win. It is what made me sit for over an hour on the side of a dark, deserted highway with a young girl that slid in the ditch, waiting for her parents to arrive, because I couldn’t leave her alone and vulnerable. There is ALWAYS a right thing to do and a wrong thing to do.
When I recently heard about leadership candidates rumoured to be running in New Brunswick for my party, I decided to look into things a little further. I had been hearing conjecture up until that point without any evidence, so I started scrolling through Facebook to glean some information. Like that day four years ago, I felt something I couldn’t explain. I felt nervous, if not somewhat unsubstantiated apprehension about one possible candidate. The other candidate gave me a good feeling, but I still didn’t know enough. I messaged several candidates and asked pointed questions. Just to be clear about something, I am not a person that gets a “gut feeling” very often. I believe in science-based evidence and reasonable conclusions based on logical hypotheses. Almost every gut feeling I have ever had has been related to a man. Perhaps my past childhood trauma, inflicted by a man who had power over me, forced me to consider subtleties very closely. I know I am not the only woman who experiences this. After a few weeks of talking to random people about the candidates, comments about one candidate, such as, “a black man will never win” started to make my stomach clinch. I knew that we were openly racist years ago. I thought we were over that kind of thinking, other than the pockets of knuckle-draggers that embrace overt racist ideology. I really thought the general population of New Brunswick had grown over the years and embraced diversity. We talk about it all the time. We espouse it in our advertisements, in our language, and in our schools. We all say the right things at the appropriate times; but when it comes right down to it, we all still hold onto our prejudice. If we confirm these biases with the language we use, are we not embracing racist ideology? By saying, and agreeing with, “a black man will never get elected in NB”, we are giving weight to and instilling that very concept. A concept that states, it’s okay to be a person of colour and live here; live here and contribute to our economy, pay taxes and help us build, but for God sakes do not for one minute think about leading our white province. No Way. If you have deceived yourself into thinking, “it’s not me that thinks that way, it’s everybody else. It’s just the way it is”, then I have some questions for you. How do you think others came to this conclusion? Did you take a poll? Did you talk to every New Brunswicker? Was there a news story I missed that addressed these issues then came up with this conclusion? People have reached this conclusion because they have discussed it. They have discussed it, and are okay with it. They have accepted this way of thinking as being okay. It’s not. It’s far from okay. It’s downright embarrassing and disappointing. I do not want to leave our children with a province that is known to be racist. We are better than that. We are New Brunswickers. We are Maritimers. We are supposed to be the most friendly and welcoming people in all of Canada. We can’t just give the best opportunities to white people. We can not afford to stick our head in the sand about this isuue any longer. I thought I had a good handle on our provincial “temperature.” I thought we were inclusive and accepting; until I started to “unofficially” help a black political candidate. My reality was shaken to it’s core; it was a direct assault to my senses. Every politician of every political stripe knows how badly we need immigration to help build our population, our economy, and our province. Why would others want to come here if they are going to be treated differently? How can we invite other people to live here, and then treat them like the enemy when we do? Maybe more people would settle here if they felt welcome, and included, and accepted, not judged.
I agonized for weeks over whether to assist a candidate with a campaign. Initially I had no reservations, but after hearing so many negative comments because of the colour of his skin(even one from my own family), I felt inner turmoil. I was told not to waste my time. I was told a black man won’t win. I was told to wait and get on board with the “winning” team. I was told that New Brunswick was just racist and not to stress myself out by giving too much thought to it. I felt the barrier like it was a tangible thing; like it was a WALL. I was comfortable with my decision initially because I was woefully ignorant about how we really think in New Brunswick. I had my head in the sand. When I first saw this candidate I didn’t even give a thought to what colour his skin was or where he was born. I looked at his education, experience, qualifications, and his level of compassion and dedication towards those that are disadvantaged and less fortunate. I saw a person that demonstratively cares about the little person and felt good about that; then others started filling my head with doubt and comments that caused me anxiety. It was only a few days ago that I realized the source of my anxiety. My granddaughter is a visible minority with brown skin.
I suddenly made the connection. She was going to face the same kinds of awful things other non-white people do who live here in New Brunswick. This realization hit me like a brick in the face, and triggered a primal, maternal instinct in me that is an incredibly inexplicable, powerful force. This is now personal. The internal struggle that was fiercely battling inside me ended the moment I realized I was fighting for the future of my grandaughter and others like her. The values my family instilled in me demand I live up to the those expectations left with me. Everything changed for me a few years ago, the moment I realized I would be leaving this legacy to my own children. I have to show them and my granddaughter that doing the right thing is hard sometimes. It can be isolating, and can leave you feeling vulnerable. I’ll be perfectly honest, up until I realized what was at stake for my granddaughter’s future, there was a part of me that wanted to give in to the external pressures I had been facing; to make life easier for myself. Herein lies my dilemma; do the easy thing, or do the right thing. I know I’m facing an uphill battle but it’s one I will gladly climb for the sake of my children, my granddaughter, and for the future of New Brunswick. I’d rather take the loss than live with the regret; otherwise I’m rejecting the very same values that I, and those I hold most dearly, treasure the most. Win, lose, or draw I am on #teamwinner. I choose the side of right over might.
This is by far one of the trickiest posts I have attempted to write; mostly because I feel like I have to tread lightly here, and I don’t like that feeling. It’s like walking on egg shells. I refuse to be intimidated or non-overtly bullied. I’ve never allowed it since I was a kid; I’m not about to start now. I make a consious effort to be open-minded, and to consider all perspectives. I often land somewhere in the grey area between the black and white. There are; however, lines drawn in the sand for one or two specific issues. These are lines that I don’t cross. Some people are trying to put their foot down on that line. I’m not afraid to tell you it really hurts my heart. There are some things that need to be said, about who we are, about what we represent, about the ideals we embrace, and about how we think and act towards others. Especially towards others that look different, or have different cultures or customs than we do in our homonogeously white province.
I heard racial comments about a candidate running in a leadership race when I was out and about recently. The candidate is a man of colour. I’m positive my mouth dropped opened and I know my eyes were surely as wide as saucers. I wear my heart on my face not on my sleeve. It’s called resting-bitch-face for a reason. I did not say anything. I let it slide. I made excuses. I kept the peace. Days later I noticed this candidate’s face on my profile when I was scrolling through Facebook. I took some time to do a little research about what this candidate could offer. I was impressed with some aspects about this candidate but there was an area of concern. I always exercise due diligence and seek as much information as possible, from as many different sources as can. I analyse everything from every conceivable avenue so that I can make a fact-based decision. Part of my research was talking to random people I knew from different backgrounds and socio-economic classes. The first time someone actually said to me, “NB will never elect a black man“, there is no way possible I could impress upon you the superhuman effort it took for me not to bite this person’s head off, figuratively speaking. I thought maybe it was an anomaly. I was sadly proven wrong the days following the first incident. Pretty soon, no matter who I asked, the response was, “We are not ready to elect a black man yet. It’s not me that thinks that. We are just not ready.” I lost count of how many people told me various versions of the same thing. So, I have some questions:
When will we be ready?
You see, I have been squashing my feelings about this every single time someone has said words to me about this candidate, this man of colour. I have a precious, beautiful, smarter-than-your-average-bear granddaughter. She is almost 3 years old. She is aboriginal. She is a person of colour. The message I’m receiving is this: it sucks that parts of, or lots of people in NB are so racist, but… it is what it is. Translated: my granddaughter, a person of colour, has no hope in hell of every considering running for political office in NB. Two strikes against her right off the bat; her skin colour and her gender. I will say this much. Like I did for my children, I will do everything in my power to ensure this astounding little girl, and others like her, will have every opportunity available. I do not accept willful ignorance about racism. I do not accept that this is the way it will always be. We can do better and we have to do better. We can’t keep teaching the younger generations that this is the way things should be. Racism isn’t born, it is taught.
Like everyone else, I take on issues that are near and dear to my heart. I’m a women who has experienced unfair practices at work because of my gender. I don’t think there’s a woman alive that hasn’t felt the sting of discrimination. We’ve been made to feel less than, or out of place and uncomfortable in certain situations. If there is a woman that has been unscathed by aspects of discrimination, I’d like to talk to her and find out what her secret is. We all feel it. We either let it bounce off or take it to heart and let it spur a call to action within ourselves. I have done both. It’s important to pick our battles. I can’t fight every cause out there, although I feel very strongly about many of them. I can only speak about my own experiences and of those whom I’ve witnessed enduring frustrating accepted practices while trying to break down barriers. Some of us are killing it, some of us are coasting, and some of us are barely making it. The fact that women still face discrimination in the work force is common knowledge. Women facing discrimination in STEM fields is not as commonly discussed. These are areas that have been, and still are, dominated my men. These are very competitive fields that require a significant commitment to years of education, time, and research. My daughter is a women of science, educated in medicinal chemistry; a second year PhD candidate in the very competitive field of pharmacology. She’s more than half way up that mountain. This is her Everest. She’s planned each moment down to every last detail.
For clarification purposes, pharmacology is not the same as pharmacy. Pharmacy briefly defined is: a profession in which a licensed Pharmacist dispenses, monitors, administers, and counsels about prescription drugs and overall well-being.
My daughter first experienced discrimination when she was in high school. As a top honours student, she took education very seriously. She knew the goals she had in mind and focused like a lion bearing down on it’s prey. Suddenly she was struggling. She was having a hard time in a relatively easy class. It was a male teacher. She felt creeped out by him. This teacher was very flirty and had leering eyes. My daughter’s friend had no issue being that “teacher’s pet.” My daughter had a huge issue. This teacher had the perfect set up for having complete power and control over whomever he wanted. There were no tests. There were no exams. There were no definitive ways to demonstrate knowledge learned. My daughter had to rely on a man she felt uncomfortable around, in a course that she needed, with a marking scheme over which she had no control. When she finally told me, I approached the school like a mother bear protecting her cub. The administration did a great job at two things; keeping it quiet and doing as little as possible to help my daughter. Long story short, the teacher was very calculating and raised her marks just enough to give her a 94.4% final average. Great mark! Not good enough for the biggest scholarship prizes. She still received decent scholarships, enough that she had very little to no debt throughout her undergrad years. An interesting point about this is; the teacher’s pet who won the huge scholarships, dropped out of sciences in university. My daughter pressed on with nothing but her end goal in mind.
While she was an undergrad she did a biophysical chemistry internship at an Ivy league school. This is where she found herself in a position of having to endure discrimination yet again in order to get ahead. All the men at this world class research facility were allowed to wear shorts; not women. Men could wear sandals; not women. Women couldn’t show any leg or ankle in the lab but for men it was tolerated. The last issue for my daughter was dealing with her own feelings about how women feel they need to portray themselves to get ahead or to be taken seriously. When she applied for grad school she had a series of Skype interviews that determined, in part, whether or not she would be accepted into this very prestigious, very competitive program. When I saw her right before her interview, I noticed how dressed down she was, and how she wore no make up. I questioned her about this. Her reply was, “I don’t want to look too pretty.” A little part of me died inside hearing this. Not just because she felt that way, but because society still puts such huge pressure on women to look one way or another for certain roles. One thing is for sure; forging ahead facing unique challenges in life is certain to test the will and strength of any woman. I’m happy to say that my daughter, who sacrificed so much to be where she is today, is settled and knows where she is going. The rigid demands of applying for funding, doing research, getting published, and going to classes are offset by intermittent visits home and letting loose with friends; sporting the confidence of an educated, worldly young woman.
“I am no longer accepting the things I cannot change, I am changing the things I can not accept.” ~ Angela Davis
Allow Yourself To Have Fun
My daughter has subscribed to the high performance pressure that has been put on the women in our family for a long time. Her accomplishments are great and I’m obviously fiercely proud. What makes me happier lately is knowing that she has learned to let her hair down and have fun. This is very important for somebody who has tunnel vision with an unyielding dedication to her education. She’s learning that it’s not just about reaching the summit. It’s the climb.
Suicide has affected my family on two separate occasions. It’s the people we would sometimes least expect that opt out. It’s important to pay attention to those around you. Isolation is one of the biggest factors of mental illness.
Somebody is always there at the other end of the phone, or computer; whatever is more comfortable.