Friday, June 29, 2012

Focus Lost

Okay, so I suck. I was doing so well! I can't come up with anything to write now though. I mean I have a story line and characters, I still have a format I would like to follow for the blog, but I'm tired. I don't know why. I just feel trapped and isolated right now. I can't wait to get out of here, and I don't know why because it's not so bad. We'll see how things go.

Sunday, June 24, 2012


Sorry guys! Just a little update so you know I am alive. The last two weeks have been insane. Incredible stress followed by amazing vacation. I went to Toronto for a week- not that amazing a trip, especially since it's only two hours away but since I'm moving there sometime in the next couple of weeks, I got to explore. I settled on a neighbourhood I want to look in. Close to my friends, in an area my Aunt Cheryl likes to visit and it's a good and safe area. On the metro and bus lines as well. I looked online today and there is a listing in the building right next to my friends! $850 / month, utilities included. It's a bachelor, but hey, gotta start somewhere!

Sunday, June 10, 2012

Film vs. Novel

Sometimes I wish that I felt adequate to write an epic story script. I'm trying to work on my story. The ideas are now over whelming and I'm starting to put ink and pen to paper. Still, I have fallen into my old habbit of writing "scenes".... with much more detail and a script. I want to describe their emotions as well as the surrounding, but I crave that perfect musical score to go in the background, and the right cinematography to go with it... Perhaps I have worked too long at a movie theater and really do need to find a job in a book store or library again. I'm sure my characters will work things out for me.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

No More Bandaids!

I am very thankful that I live in Canada. I have education, health care, REASONABLE financial security (all though many would disagree), and for the most part, I do believe that our elected representatives do their very best to actually care about the individuals in our country. What I dislike most is the band aid treatment that is given in the face of serious issues that effect the population on every level: individual, familial, cultural and national.

In school, at various levels, we have courses and studies that have been "designed" to fit a need. Has anyone heard of the D.A.R.E. program? It is commonly known, felt and acknowedged that this program is ineffective, however it remains the Ministry of Educations leading attempt to head off the development of substance addiction. As of 2010, use of illicit substances in those under the age of 18 was at an all time high. As one of those lucky individuals who can and will admit to never having taken drugs in their life, I can also write here that I've even argued openly with proponents for the DARE Program when they have been doing fundraising events in public places.

But. This entry is not designed to be a rant about the D.A.R.E. Program. If you feel it works, you probably were one of those individuals who had a positive experience with it, and lets face it, one life impacted by a program is an entire life. Let's not discount that. What I am trying to explain is that I feel there is a very large void left in the education system: addressing root causes. A healthy, confident teenager with a strong sense of self worth is going to be astronomically less inclined to commit a negatively life altering decison.

Let's review what I recieved in terms of "health" studies in school. In grade 6, we were forced to participate in the D.A.R.E. Program. The officer who did the training for my class (or perhaps it was the class the year after mine?) was later arrested for distributing narcotics to minors. Irony? By the time we had to sign the "covenant" which was supposed to be confidential, and mandatory, most of my friends had all ready done recreational drugs and many had even started to smoke or drink.This was children aged 11 and 12. In my grade 7 class, we had no health program as we were a grade 6/7 split, and the grade 6 students had to go take DARE in a different setting. In grade 8, we recieved the "reproduction" discussion. This is amusing as most students were 13 - 14 years of age by the point. I was a late bloomer and got my period the first day of 7th grade. Many of my fellow students had even engaged in intercourse all ready. We were given a teacher who couldn't even explain the purpose of a bra without getting red, and when we forced a boy in the class to ask her where babies came from, she burst into tears. In grade 9, our health class centred around: do you want kids? Yes, well wait until you're out of school. No? Don't have sex. Oh and by the way, the town has a sex clinic you can go to for free birth control. Grade 12, was given by the religion teacher (as I had switched schools) as part of her class. It involved trying to scare everyone into staying celibate- cause that works.

Throught the later part of my secondary education, a strong emphasis was put on needing to have a defined vision for the future. In grade 10, you had to have a mandatory half credit in Careers. In grade 11, Guidance began student consultations, where they called you by name and class for an appointment to discuss your post secondary options. In grade 12, the same appointment was called again. These were given during class time. As a result, I exited highschool still unsure of how to actually apply to the schools, but knowing about different programs and funding options and course availability. I knew how to check and see if something I was interested in would actually make me a lot of money. These educational resources, I feel, were largely successful. Of course, there were those who chose not to attend, found ways out of their appointments, and were utterly bewildered when attempting to navigate post-secondary options. There were also those who had all ready dropped out of school.

Why are we so good at giving options but not providing the resources for youth to reach those options? I have thought a lot about my own mental health and those of several friends and family. The common thread is that if we had been able to recieve adequate education and assessment during the life altering time period of puberty, we might have been able to address life altering issues as they began to develop- nipping them in the bud.

So lets employ the problem solving method my grade 5 teacher, Mrs. Cuthbert taught us.It requires four parts:

What educational reformation could possibly help children to develop the healthiest future (steering them away from: suicide, teen pregnancy- or "accidental" pregnancy at any time, substance abuse, and development of serious mental disabilities).

25% of adults in North America suffer from psychological disorders or serious mental illness. 50% of these adults developed their disorders prior to the age of 24. 10% of children under the age of 18 live with a SERIOUS mental illness or disorder. Only 1 out of 3 adults with a disorder ever receive treatment for it. Less than 1/2 of those under the age of 18 will recieve counseling to recieve treatment or diagnosis. 45% of those who suffer from one mental disorder, also suffer from other mental disorders as well. 1 out 5 Canadians between age 15 and 24 display symptoms of dependency on alcohol or illicit narcotics. Most mental disorders are treatable through a variety of means if they are diagnosed in time.

Ramifications of undiagnosed mental disorders: The classic lack of self esteem and self work, poor self imaging, self-fulfilling prophecies, and inability to follow a moral or legal code but are not limited to these. 50% of those between 15 and 18 years of age, who develop mental disorders, will drop out before the completion of secondary level education (high school). 70% of those in juvenile reform programs suffer from severe mental illness. Those who enter adulthood untreated, have a higher rate of developing severe, chronic, medical conditions. Their life expectancy rate decreases by 25 years. 1 out of every 3 deaths in children between age 10 and 18 are from suicide. For every person who dies by suicide, 25 other individuals have attempted it, and the deceased has most likely attempted or considered it roughly 18 times while they have tried to reach out to friends and family, coming across in a "bid for attention". 90% of these individuals have a treatable mental disorder. 1 out of every 4 people under the age of 24 will seriously consider killing themselves.

One must know the results, and address the root causes.

Suggested Conclusion:
Integrate counseling during important developmental periods in a child's life.

Once a term, starting between grade 4 and 6, have designated one on one time with a counsellor (in the case of Collingwood, where we all ready have a public health team, bring in one of the public counselors, and offset the group lessons with a half hour meetings!) so that students have a safe forum to discuss big events in their life, and have an early diagnosis for at risk children.

What are your thoughts on the subject and my proposal? Do you feel you did or would have benefit from counseling during puberty?

Monday, June 4, 2012

Relationships: Good, Bad, and Ugly

"You come to love not by finding the perfect person, but by seeing an imperfect person perfectly."
- Sam Keen

To say that I grew up in a traditional family would be inaccurate. I grew up with a mommy, daddy, sister, dog and cat all living in one household. We sure didn't step out of 'Leave it to Beaver' though! We fought, tore each other's hair out, laughed and cried. There were times I hated my mom, resented my sister, cried cause I thought my daddy was mad at me. There were times when my mom was the first person I ran to with a scraped knee, my sister was the reason I had to go beat up that boy who made her cry, and my dad was the one who dealt with the boy who had made ME cry. There were issues in my relationships with my parents that took me halfway across the world, but at the end of the day, the only reason I came back at all was the love I had for, and felt from, my family. My mother and father did not have a perfect relationship. What, to my eyes, made their relationship so special was that they stuck together through thick and thin and they always supported each other. 

Mark and I have raised eye brows at the fact that we are still together. We do not have a perfect relationship, because we are not perfect people. I have my own issues I have to deal with and he does as well. One plus one, does not equal one, contrary to what many people seem to think. We are learning how to be an individual so that we can know how to be a couple. 

Earlier today, I was doing research on aspects that most successful relationships have. It gave the ten most important to the survival of a relationship, and I know for a fact that I have eight out of those ten in my relationship! This was exactly what I was looking for, but did not impact me the way I had thought it would. I expected to feel a little lost and worried after reading it. Instead I feel reassured and content. 

1- Friendship. Mark and I spent an entire month just trying to get to know each other, before he manned up and asked me properly, if I would like to go out with him. We had a strong attraction to each other right away, but we did not just jump right into a relationship. In the year and a half since, we have spent time getting to know each others families, history and friends. Mark and I have told each other things, without judgement or repulsion that we would not tell (almost) anyone else.

2- Humor. For me, this is another sign of friendship. I am not very good at this, but he is absolutely wonderful at it. Sometimes too much so (using it to deflect).

3- Communication. Without pushing, we try very hard to communicate with each other. We do not communicate in the way that we necessarily should all of the time- so many years spent hiding and keeping and locking things away, but it is something we have tried to be honest with.

4- Chore sharing. Mark hates laundry and I hate dishes. We both hate a dirty living room but he hates to sweep or vacuum and I dislike dusting. 

5- Sexual Intimacy. The description the website gave of this pointed out that this is something that also needs to be discussed and shared equally... I am choosing not to go into details here but this is probably our best example of successful communication between each other.

I'm halfway to the end of the list!

6- Affection: It points out that couples who stay in physical contact some way each day have appeared to have the happiest relationships. Not necessarily leading to physical intimacy but that even that leads you to realize your partner is thinking about you each day. We don't have issues here, MOST of the time. Mark has two different homes. Here and Toronto and unfortunately Toronto is all consuming and communication is nearly non existent when he is there.

7- No "Horsemen of the Apocalypse". Criticism, contempt, defensiveness, and stonewalling. No description necessary here really. While we both struggle with the left over fears of this from our past relationships- friendships, romantic and family- we also know that we can trust each other not to commit these actions when we do try to communicate.

8- Mutual and Separate Friends. :) <-- This says it all. Exclusively mutual friends is dangerous.

9- Reliability. Mark and I are very different in this regard. We know that we are not equal here and this is the second issue we have in our relationship.

10- Relationship Vision. An idea of what you want and where you want to be, ten or twenty years. Tomorrow might be a mystery but hey if we know what we want in life, we can face the challenges that pop up in between here and there. Mark and I have a pretty decent vision which stems from our communication.

So what were the two we had issues with? Communication and Reliability. Probably the two most destructive but our communication will improve. Until these two do improve, however, we can't plan a wedding. So we have delayed (not removed or replaced) our vision for the future. 

Saturday, June 2, 2012

Why writing was easier in high school

"Writing about a writer's block is better than not writing at all"
- Charles Bukowski

I have been in a writing slump for... three years. When I was in high school, I wrote on a daily basis. Assignments, interest based reports and far too often, stories that replaced the math work I was supposed to be focusing on. There are all kinds of writing that I could focus on: at the root, there is fiction or non-fiction. These then break down into all the various types and genres- fantasy, contemporary, historical, autobiographical and memoir, biographical, reports, studies... then after that, there is your focus, for fiction you have character, plot, event driven stories. I have always written plot and event driven stories. Friends have told me that while I am unable to write script style, my stories have read more like movie scenes by chapter. I use this to make up for my perceived inadequacies in character.

"The better work men do is always done under stress and at great personal cost"
-William Carlos Williams

When I was in school, words and characters and plots came easily. I have decided that this is due to the fact that I ignored everything else in favor of writing. I have a report due next week, worth 30% of my grade? Oh well. I have a chapter I want to try and get out for tomorrow. Oh, my report is due tomorrow? Guess I should start it... I have concluded that I was lazy but focused. I hated my life so I read and I wrote, but over the past few years, my life has grown. Its not amazing or perfect, but there are enough of those little moments of bliss that I am content in mediocrity. I don't feel the hunger to try and get my work done, and I don't experience the anger that makes me throw it away in a rage and use foul language to describe it. I can not recall the last time I wrote a poem I was proud of or wanted someone to ever read it. I struggle to come up with an "exciting" plot or concept now. So when I find one, I throw myself into planning and story line because I feel unable to write the story itself. It's for this reason I have routinely written with other friends and contacts as well.

"Don't try to figure out what other people want to hear from you; figure out what you have to say. It's the one and only thing you have to offer"
-Barbara Kingsolver

For the first time in my life, I am not focusing on on what story to tell to get people interested. I'm attempting to focus on the people who will make the story. Bear with me, as I am out of practise with writing beyond the planning stage! I am writing "unscripted". Also: be excited- I'm writing unscripted! But I have put myself on a self-imposed time line. I have two months, start to finish, along with my regular updates, here.