Sunday, March 30, 2014

Facebook Frenemies

Negative people will suck the life out of you.

There comes a time in your life where you have to take an inventory of the people around you and decide who is sucking you dry and who actually gives a crap about you.  Some individuals live and breath melancholy, sadness, helplessness and drama. Life is short. It's time to cut down the fruitless trees and dead branches.

If you find yourself surrounded by fake friends, relatives and acquaintances then ask yourself: What purpose do these people serve in your life? Do they help you or do they hinder you? Do they make you feel bad about yourself? Do they feed off of you? Do they ask constantly for your help and advice but never actually take it? Do they 'like' or 'comment' on any of the important stuff going on in your life?

My favorite kind of negativity comes from Frenemies. What's a frenemy? Answer: "an enemy disguised as a friend". These people may be Facebook friends, or real life friends, or both... but when it comes to supporting you or participating in your life they're basically a 'no show'. They will smile to your face and make like they really like you and support your goals in person, but when push comes to shove they're no where to be found. It leaves you with the feeling like they're actually 'out to get you' and couldn't care less.

These individuals also talk shit behind everyone's back. Here's a good rule of thumb: If you're friends with someone who gossips nonstop about other people, chances are they gossip about you behind your back as well. It's a hard pill to swallow, but it's the truth.

Or maybe they're part of a "Facebook clique".  What's a 'Facebook clique' you ask??? Well, it's when a Facebook "friend" only "likes" or "comments" on certain people's Facebook statuses. They never give a flying crap about what you write or your status updates... except for members of their own 'clique'. If anyone from their Facebook 'clique' writes something (this could be as stupid and insignificant as "Having a great day" or "At Milestones with the girls") they will not only "like" it, but make stupid ass remarks like, "Awesome!" or "Great!". Yet, as their Facebook friend, but being out of their 'clique', you could write something as significant like "I just won $1 million dollars!!" or "I just gave birth today" and they would neither 'like' it or 'comment' on it. This makes them a Facebook Frenemy.

Life is short. If you feel like the people in your life are bringing you down, take a step back. Review the situation. Are these people making you feel bad? Targeting you?  Instead of trying to befriend them and become apart of the 'clique', maybe you need to break free. Free yourself from the herd instinct and get away from all the bullshit and nonsense. Stop 'liking' and 'commenting' on their stupid updates. Stop sucking up to the bullies.

Surround yourself with people who uplift you, bring out the best in you, people who energize you, and ultimately those who love you. Respect yourself... you deserve it!


Saturday, March 22, 2014

Complainers & Needy People; Ain't Nobody got Time for That

I'm constantly surprised at the length some people will go to complaining about their situation in life. In some instances, I've heard these people talk about their predicament for years at a time. They go on to describe, over and over, their horrific experiences of injustice, abuse, neglect, being over worked, under paid, taken advantage of and humiliated. At times they are explaining their current place of employment or talking about an ongoing situation with a 'good' friend of theirs. Other times they are saying that they never have anytime for themselves.

Here is my number one problem with this: If everything is as bad as you say it is, then why don't you put a stop to it? Why would you tolerate abuse consistently for years? Why would you let yourself get repeatedly back stabbed by the same 'good' friend? Why would you work for an employer who is harassing you and threatening you constantly?

So what's wrong with these people? It's hard to say because I struggle with this myself.

I believe the ultimate answer is: Fear.

Fear of what exactly? I guess it differs from person to person. Fear of change. Fear of rejection. Fear of loneliness. Fear that no matter what you do, things will always be like this.

My mother raised me to have a pretty solid back bone. I was taught from an early age to take responsibility for my own situation. I was encouraged to stand up for myself, and for others and to never tolerate abuse. Of course this Gold Standard teaching is hard to live up to all the time. I've had situations where I did tolerate abuse and humiliation, situations where I put myself and my values on the back burner.

I have vivid flash backs from my early twenties. I'm trembling with fear, weeping, while my ex-husband yells at me and terrorizes me, making accusations and calling me a 'cry baby'. I feel helpless and alone. I think to myself, "this must be what every one else goes through when they fight... he's just under a lot of stress lately... maybe I am pathetic, no one else would love me enough to want to marry me." The thought of those days makes me furious. Why didn't I stand up for myself? Why didn't I punch him right in the face? How is it that I tolerated such humiliating and abusive behaviour? And in the end, why wasn't I the one to file for divorce?
All I can say is that I was young and in love. A cliche that I've come to loathe.

I am a firm believer that you teach people how to treat you. You teach them firstly, by the way you treat yourself. If you don't respect yourself, nobody else will. Of course that theory doesn't come with a guarantee but it's a pretty good start off in the right direction. Standing up for yourself can be terrifying. It takes practice. The act of standing up to someone and nobly declaring yourself as a 'worthy person' who deserves respect and dignity can make you feel like a total idiot.

 If you don't like the way things are; Change it! You're the master of your own ship. You direct yourself and your choices. You're responsible for your own life. I understand we all have personal constraints; financial, environmental, social, emotional, etc., but there's always some 'wiggle room'. No matter what your predicament in life is, you have a choice. If you don't like where you are, make a change. Even if it's a just a tiny change at first.

I have had employers take advantage of me and harass me. Guess what? I found a different job. I've had friends hurt me and lie to me. Guess what? I blocked them on facebook and found new friends. I've lived in towns or cities that were no good for me and had no job prospects. Guess what? I moved. I've had people try to take advantage of me and constantly ask me for favours. Guess what? I learned to say, "No". I've had coworkers bully me. Guess what? I wrote to my union and supervisor and had the issue dealt with. I've had my marriage fall apart at the seams, leaving me completely devastated. Guess what? I went to my family and friends for support, eventually recovered and moved on with my life.

If you choose to work in a negative environment; or if you choose to continue with abusive or negative relationships... then you have no right to complain about it. More often than not I see people who would sooner complain about their predicament in life rather than change it. I have only so much sympathy to go around, and so does everyone else. If you are actively choosing to be a victim then nobody can help you. And maybe, just maybe, you secretly like being the victim. Maybe you like getting people's sympathy all the time. Sure.. why not? It feels good... I'll be the first to admit it.

But I'll give you a little pearl of wisdom; there's no power in playing the victim. And 'the act' of being the constant, helpless person in need gets old fast. You become a real burden to be around. 'Needy' people, who aren't really in need, are in my opinion highly toxic to relationships and typically overly dramatic people.

Although these individuals serve the purpose of providing an Iconic Image to all human beings of "What Not to Be Like", as well as providing fodder for blog posts, I typically avoid them like the plague.


Wednesday, March 12, 2014

The Value of Beauty

When asked if she had any regrets in life Eleanor Roosevelt plainly answered, "Just one. I wish I had been prettier." When I read about this women's incredible life and triumphs over personal adversity, I am brought to this new place in my mind where I'm curious to understand why we place so much value on beauty. Even someone as significant and prominent as Eleanor Roosevelt wished that she could have been more beautiful.

Spanning every generation and across the world, beauty is universally treasured and sought after. Many ancient civilizations all over the world had objects of beauty that were revered and prized. Famous painters have sought after illustrating and capturing a glimpse of true beauty. Musicians have written songs describing the joy and wonderment of seeing or falling in love with a beautiful person. Animals in nature behold elaborate markings and detailing that attract others for purposes of mating and survival. In generations past, and today still, a beautiful woman is more likely to attain the affections of a successful male partner. As a commodity to trade with, a woman's beauty and sexuality could be given in return for a male to provide shelter, food, and protection. Studies show that we are also more likely to view someone as "healthy" if they are attractive.

“Beauty is unbearable, drives us to despair, offering us for a minute the glimpse of an eternity that we should like to stretch out over the whole of time.” -Albert Camus

Beauty also reflects our desire to further and advance our social status. Our society is rampant with endorsing and selling the idea of beauty to create 'an image' that you are successful and accomplished. "If you wear this designer, or this make up, or have this surgery, or take this pill, or only weigh this much... you too can be successful and attractive."  How we appear to others, even if it's entirely false, is of the utmost importance. Surely in this day in age you would think that with having all of our resources at our fingertips, with huge advancements in gender equality and all of the health teaching we are doing that emphasize the importance of character over looks, we wouldn't be so desperate to attain beauty at all costs.

It was said by philosopher Santayana that beauty is "pleasure objectified". It is quite pleasing to gaze upon a lovely work of art, a baby laughing or to witness a serene mountainscape at daybreak. A thing of beauty is certainly a source of pleasure and enjoyment as well as offers up a means of escape from reality.

I wonder to what extent people feel that in some way their inner value is reflected through their external appearance. And when they see an attractive person, they come to the conclusion that the person's appearance is mirroring their inner self. Therefore, the 'better you look, the better a person you are'. Unfortunately, or fortunately, this is not true.

If beauty is all in the 'eye of the beholder', then beauty is completely subjective. It ends up being whatever you say it is, whatever is pleasurable to you specifically and thus has no definition. If this is the case, then beauty becomes meaningless.

When you look at the history and science behind it all, it's easy to see just how fundamentally 'hard wired' we are to place so much value in beauty. But in that statement alone, is where I believe the answer to be found. The act of 'placing value' in something is an action: an action that is equally driven by a choice. How much merit and value you place in your external appearance, or the appearance of others, is completely your choice.

I'm not saying that I think everyone should stop wearing makeup and touching up their roots... God forbid!! We'd be a hideous bunch for sure! I think that making an effort in your personal appearance is quite healthy and normal. We do have a society to fit into, and social acceptance and conformity, to some extent, are extremely valuable and essential. Taking pride in your appearance and making yourself look attractive is a fundamental part of what it means to be human.

That being said, there is some 'self-discipline' required in this goal of attaining beauty. It's a slippery slope to fall into and with the media and various social constraints telling us what is attractive. It's so easy to be deceived and manipulated into this constant, never ending quest to be beautiful. Quite frankly, I think it's one of the most selfish pursuits of our culture. When I think about women crying or feeling depressed over blemishes, wrinkles, back fat, cellulite and grey hair it seems so absurd. If you were to place that same woman, staring in the mirror at how ugly she 'thinks' she is... then place them beside some starving child in Africa you immediately see how vain and sad the situation is.

When I'm tempted to feel down about how inadequate, fat and ugly I feel, compared to Giselle Bundchen or that young, new, perky 22 year old co-worker, I have to stop myself immediately. I force myself to say, "Don't act like an idiot!" There are so many more important things happening in life that deserve your attention and energy. There are so many character traits that are vastly more important than looks. Instead worrying about how you look why not take that same energy to be: more productive, or spend more time with your family, or appreciate your own inner value.

Sometimes I need to have a self-talk and say to myself, "You're a good person, you work and contribute, you are honest and don't lie or steal, you love with your whole heart, you help people in need, you are intelligent and funny...etc." It sounds corny but, I'm making a conscience effort to place value into the things that I have control over and that are genuinely important.

"People are like stained-glass windows. They sparkle and shine when the sun is out, but when the darkness sets in, their true beauty is revealed only if there is a light from within."  -Elisabeth Kubler-Ross

The most beautiful women in the world have insecurities about their looks. Linda Evangelista hates the way her mouth is shaped, Jennifer Aniston doesn't like her butt, Jessica Alba has said, "My boobs are saggy, I've got cellulite, and my hips are bigger...every actress out there is more beautiful than me", Keira Knightly hates her tiny boobs and her whole body in general, and Angelina Jolie hates her lips! To hear this is quite shocking, but in a way I'm not overly surprised. They are in the lime light and on a stage in front of the world as icons of beauty. How much more pressure and anxiety they must feel to uphold a specific standard of attractiveness. But of course they're not perfect, and what we would see as tiny flaws they probably see as a huge and detrimental defect. It's the same for me. If I get a small blemish I can become completely devastated and think myself to look utterly and completely grotesque. To the rest of the world though, they wouldn't even notice it most likely (I

I will conclude with a lovely and eloquent speech on the subject of beauty by Lupita Nyong'o.


My breasts are saggy, I’ve got cellulite, my hips are bigger…every actress out there is more beautiful than me
“My breasts are saggy, I’ve got cellulite, my hips are bigger…every actress out there is more beautiful than me,”
“My breasts are saggy, I’ve got cellulite, my hips are bigger…every actress out there is more beautiful than me,”
“My breasts are saggy, I’ve got cellulite, my hips are bigger…every actress out there is more beautiful than me,”

Saturday, March 8, 2014

Sick Nurse: Tales of Illness and Loathing

Over the past 8 days I have been physically ravaged, emotionally exhausted and ultimately brought to my knees with humility. Based on my symptoms, I gather that I had a lovely little something called 'the flu'.

The words 'flu' and 'sick' get thrown around like light, buoyant balloons of mere misfortune. Everyone's sick. I've heard countless times throughout the winter, "I had the flu last week"... or, "The flu hit our house pretty hard this month". And my consistent, half hearted sentiments always sound something like, "Oh, that's too bad", and, "I hope you're feeling better."

Given that I work as a nurse I'm sure the 'gold standard' illusion of this profession is that we must all be angel earthlings with invisible wings and immeasurable patience. The truth, sadly, is that due to the extreme cases of disease and sickness we've witnessed in our career our compassion towards the minor ailments of others is much like a dried up well; false in all it's appearances of being a plentiful source of love and sympathy. Unlike an empty well that no longer contains life sustaining water, nurses lack a posted sign saying, "Out of Order".

When the shoe is placed on the other foot however, my do things change quickly.

My course of sickness lead me into an ultimately debilitating state much like that of an infant. I was completely helpless, weak, feeble, lonely, and isolated. The simple act of turning over in bed demanded first a clear plan of action and culminated in the total usage of all my physical power and mental prowess. The exhausting act of 'speaking' caused major shortness of breath. I longed to just listen to someone talk to me although my ability to converse back was impossible. I felt alone in my sickness but worse, due to my lack of strength to maintain light conversation, I bore the misery of illustrating the perfect image of 'insufferable company'.

Lifting my hand to take a drink from a glass of water might as well have been the equivalent to lifting a twenty pound boulder. I actually had to put off washing my hair because I feared the energy required to do so would result in my imminent and untimely death.

I spent hours and hours laying awake. My body was completely exhausted but rarely was I able to find sleep. I would watch the sky lighten in the morning only to see it start to fade away in the afternoon; then it was darkness again and the gloomy cycle would begin all over. Long minutes and eternal hours spent all in my head. A dangerous place to be trapped indeed.

Mentally I felt quite sharp. Even in my comatose state my thoughts were racing. To keep myself occupied I would think of ideas and plans for the future, and dream of all the things I would do when I felt healthy again; "I'll clean this whole house, and work out more, and eat better, and take the dogs for longer walks, and get the wedding invitations done, write blogs, get organized and finally take down the Christmas tree... etc.".

Luckily for myself, my fiancĂ© was there to help me as a loyal source of comfort and assistance. He would get me drinks and medication, run hot baths, and venture out into the winter nights to replenish my stock of chicken soup and potato chips. I was in awe of his strength and ability to accomplish all of these tasks that appeared so physically rigorous and exhausting to me. He was my rescuer and hero.

The beauty of being sick is that the individual comes away with a new appreciation of what it means to be healthy. It really is everything. "If you haven't got your health you haven't got anything" is such an old and tired clichĂ© but after being severely ill, you come to a whole new level of gratitude for these words.

Along with that new found respect also come a new found compassion for others who are sick. As a nurse who is surrounded by sick people everyday, the true meaning of 'being ill' eludes and escapes us. We forget what it feels like to be the person in severe need. We forget how humiliating it is when you are unable to do anything for yourself and end up in the constant reliance of others. I felt ashamed. Given that I am a nurse, who at times has a very dry well, I felt loathed at the thought of myself being so weak and 'needy'. My own built up apathy and callousness towards 'minor ailments' were now all directed onto myself. And what happened next is called Humility.

If being sick should serve no other purpose, it is at the very least an eye-opening and devastatingly harsh lesson in humility and compassion. And for that, I am thankful.


Saturday, March 1, 2014

The Olympics in Berlin 1936 vs. Russia 2014: Should We Have Zero-Tolerance towards discrimination?

Until today I was completely oblivious to the fact that, just prior to World War II, Germany hosted the 1936 Olympic Summer Games in Berlin.  My first thought was, "Well, I took History in Grade 10. The second World War didn't start until 1939.. so Nazis wouldn't have been a problem during the Olympic Games." Well, I was wrong.

The Nazi regime started in 1933 when Adolph Hitler became chancellor of Germany and quickly took the country away from a German democracy and into a one party dictatorship.  The city of Berlin was voted to host the Olympics in 1931 before the Nazis took power. Once they came into power in 1933 many other countries began discussing the idea of boycotting the Olympics. The United Kingdom, France, Sweden, The Netherlands and Czechoslovakia held large campaigns to relocate the games. In 1935 The Amateur Athletic Union of the United States voted in favour of the Berlin Olympics, and many other countries followed along.

Hitler initially viewed the Olympics as the perfect platform to spread his views on Racial Supremacy. The official Nazi party paper wrote that Jews and Black people should not be allowed to participate in the games. They also had a strong hatred towards homosexuals. Once the Nazi party started receiving threats of the games being boycotted Hitler quickly changed his tune and allowed Jews and Black people to participate. He also had Berlin 'cleaned up' and removed various anti-Semitic signs that were all over the city that said "Jews not wanted". Hitler did everything he could to portray Germany as a peaceful, tolerant nation.

Recently it seems that we've found ourselves in a similar predicament with the Olympic Games in Sochi. Here we have a country that is strictly opposed to homosexuality. They ban all 'homosexual propaganda" and are known to persecute Lesbians and Gays. Vladimir Putin recently said that Lesbian and Gay people should "leave children alone" while visiting in Russia.

This obviously leads to the question, "Should we be allowing a blatant, anti-homosexual Country to host the Olympics?" 

Even in the face of anti-Semitism and discrimination against Black people our country still took part in the 1936 Olympics in Germany. I can understand the view point many have today of competing for the sake of showing Russia that Gay and Lesbian people 'aren't that bad'. However, when do you put your foot down and decide that you are not going to contribute to a nation that exhibits such intolerance and discrimination?

I'm not judging those athletes who chose to participate in the Sochi Olympic Games. Perhaps what an 'intolerant' country needs is a healthy display of 'tolerance' from more open countries as a demonstration of what true human decency looks like. Maybe our presence in Sochi gave hope to other Gays and Lesbians living in Russia. I hope so.

My hope is that we do not rein act the tolerance displayed in 1936 in Berlin. I'm not saying that I foresee Russia attempting world domination, but I would hate to think that in some way our attendance at the Olympic games promoted discrimination. Perhaps our contribution to the Sochi Olympic games somehow condoned their countries behaviour and mistakenly showed tolerance of it.

I don't know what the right answer is, but I think it's definitely an issue that applies to various other aspects of discrimination and intolerance, and it's something that everyone needs to be mindful of.