Shame on the haters that are so quick to judge others. It is disgustingly common on social media these days. Anyone commenting or posting is quickly pounced on by these haters who respond with scathing comments of their own. It’s called trolling for a reason; these haters are ugly as trolls, and I’m not talking about their outward appearance.
The latest example I encountered was all the nasty comments surrounding the appearance and demeanor of Bianca Andreescu’s mom during the recent US Open. At a restaurant watching the final, I heard firsthand things like “oh my god, that must be a wig” “what’s with the sunglasses?” and “doesn’t she ever smile?”
This Twitter conversation started with a tweet from Chrissy Teigen, answered by other examples nastiness:
Bianca’s mom looks like someone is pretending to be Bianca’s mom. Someone check on Bianca’s mom!! — christine teigen (@chrissyteigen) September 7, 2019
That’s what I thought, too! Hahaha! I was like Is that a wig? Sunglasses? Is the in the Witness Protection Program?
Was she trying to disguise herself or is she just Unattractive 🤷🏽♀️
Bianca’s response? “My mom’s a straight G. I will never be that cool”
I chuckled when I later heard an interview with Bianca, knowing some of these haters might be (should be) pretty embarrassed about their comments. When asked how she maintains her composure and concentration during such stressful times (US Open against Serena Williams), Andreescu was quick to credit her mom. Apparently her mom has been teaching her talented daughter yoga and mindfulness for several years. So, when stressed on the tennis courts, all she has to do is look up and focus on her mother’s calmness to settle her nerves, block out the external issues (like the noisy crowd cheering for Williams) and return to concentrating on the game at hand.
“I don’t only work on my physical aspect. I also work on the mental, because that’s also very, very important,” Bianca added. “It’s definitely showing through my matches where I’m staying in the present moment a lot of the time. I don’t like to focus on what just happened or in the future.”
Shame on the haters! As Taylor Swift advised, “haters gonna hate hate hate hate hate, shake it off!” Good for you Bianca for shaking it off, putting these haters in their place, refusing to let their judgements ruin such an awesome achievement. Your parents are obviously very proud of you and you of them. Your appreciation for the sacrifices your parents made for their family is very mature and touching.
On a more comical note, after thrilling us with her tennis prowess, trophy in her arms, Bianca addressed the Williams’ fans displaying her sense of humour too:
“I know you guys really wanted Serena to win, I am so sorry about that”
Carrots, eggs or coffee, which are you? I love this analogy of personal strength and adversary by an unknown author:
A young woman went to her grandmother and told her about her life and how things were so hard for her. She did not know how she was going to make it and wanted to give up. She was tired of fighting and struggling. It seemed as one problem was solved a new one arose.
Her grandmother took her to the kitchen. She filled three pots with water. In the first, she placed carrots, in the second she placed eggs and the last she placed ground coffee beans. She let them sit and boil without saying a word.
In about twenty minutes she turned off the burners. She fished the carrots out and placed them in a bowl. She pulled the eggs out and placed them in a bowl. Then she ladled the coffee out and placed it in a bowl. Turning to her granddaughter, she asked, “Tell me what do you see?”
“Carrots, eggs, and coffee,” the granddaughter replied.
The grandmother brought the girl closer and asked her to feel the carrots. She did and noted that they got soft. The grandmother then asked her granddaughter to take an egg and break it.
After pulling off the shell, she observed the hard-boiled egg.
Finally, the grandmother asked her granddaughter to sip the coffee. The granddaughter smiled, as she tasted its rich aroma. She then asked. “What’s the point, Grandmother?”
The grandmother explained that each of these objects had faced the same adversity–boiling water–but each reacted differently.
The carrot went in strong, hard and unrelenting. However, after being subjected to the boiling water, it softened and became weak. The egg had been fragile. Its thin outer shell had protected its liquid interior. But, after sitting through the boiling water, its inside became hardened.
The ground coffee beans were unique, however. After they were in the boiling water they changed the water.
“Which are you?” grandmother asked granddaughter, “carrots, eggs or coffee? When adversity knocks on your door, how do you respond? Are you a carrot, an egg or a coffee bean?”
Are you the carrot that seems strong, but with pain and adversity, you wilt and become soft and lose your strength?
Are you the egg that starts with a malleable heart, but changes with the heat? Did you have a fluid spirit, but after a death, a breakup, a financial hardship or some other trial, you become hardened and stiff?
Does your shell look the same, but on the inside you are bitter and tough with a stiff spirit and a hardened heart?
Or are you like the coffee bean? The bean actually changes the hot water, the very circumstance that brings the pain. When the water gets hot, it releases the fragrance and flavor. If you are like the bean, when things are at their worst, you get better and change the situation around you.
The moral of this story? When life gets you down, elevate yourself to the next level.
Recently I attended a book launch to support a friend who has co-created a masterpiece named the Wonder Wall. I don’t usually get much reading done in the summer, but I am so impressed with this book I am making an exception this week.
The Wonder Wall is aimed at formal and informal educators of all kinds. Teachers from kindergarten to university, scientists, managers, team leaders, administrators, parents, and volunteers alike can learn from this. After all, we humans are all educators of some sort. Whether you want to motivate and encourage children or adults, this book is for you. The motivation can occur within a school, start-up business or major corporation. Or an office, hospital, police force, daycare, or community association. The concepts within the Wonder Wall are easily applicable to everyone and anyone.
I tried to put the ideas from this book into my own words to share with you. I found that my efforts could simply not do justice to the witty, inspirational way this masterpiece is written. So, I am cheating; these few excerpts are literally straight from the book…
CONDITIONS THAT FOSTER CREATIVITY
recognize there is a seed of brilliance in everyone
adopt a strength-based approach
create cultures of belonging
storytelling and listening
moving beyond diversity to inclusivity
making it personal
IDEAL LEADERSHIP CHARACTERISTICS:
good listener, approachable, personable
understanding, empathetic, respectful, caring
motivational, inspirational, visionary
honest, trustworthy, dependable, consistent
knowledgeable, informed, displaying expertise
positive, enthusiastic, energetic
IDEAL LEADER BEHAVIOUR:
leads by example
provides support, encouragement, motivation
team player/builds relationships
Learn the details of these compelling points, plus many more insightful strategies and how they can apply to your life. Read the book yourself!
Inspire yourself. Purchase the Wonder Wall at your local bookstore or online through Amazon. I promise you will be captivated, and amused as you read and reread through the pages.
One of the perks of my Gardens4u business is getting to meet new people every season, many of whom have turned into great friends, and many who inspire me. I have always admired strong individuals who have chosen to soldier bravely through their tragedies and mistakes. Their courage and strength motivates and inspires me to see the best in others, to help those in need, to do the best I can in my endeavors, to see the glass half full rather than half empty, and to be grateful for the life I live.
One such inspirational person is a woman who was victimized by sexual abuse throughout her childhood and teenage years. Now an adult in her seventies, in a much more peaceful and happy frame of mind, she has reached out to other victims to share her survival skills. How courageous, admirable and inspiring is that?
The following is an introduction to her story, in her words:
This is an open letter to all female survivors of sexual abuse and to all those who love and support them. This letter is being written in my voice because I actually have a voice to speak about the atrocities that you and I sustained. My voice is being used because so many of us were physically and emotionally broken, our vocal chords symbolically cut and we turned to other things such as drugs, alcohol, prostitution, suicide and, perhaps, the mental health system. I am one of the few “lucky” people who chose life-giving outlets; I chose education and faith. We all did what we had to do and some outcomes yielded more positive fruitful solutions.
Whether your abuse happened when you were a baby, a child, a teen, whether you were a young woman, middle aged or a senior, whether you were abused once, a dozen times or over a period of years, I am speaking directly to you. Whether or not you knew your abuser, whether he/she was a trusted family member, friend or colleague, whether he was a first date or your spouse, I am speaking directly to you. Whether our perpetrators numbered one, two, several or too many to count, this letter is being written to you. Whether some would say we were dressed in, or behaved in, a provocative manner, whether we were drunk or sober, a Rhodes Scholar or illiterate, rich or poor, whatever our skin colour, country of birth, overweight or thin – I think you get the picture, we did not deserve to be raped and violated. We did not ask for it, nor did we deserve it. You and I are survivors.
If like me, you were an infant when the denigration of your body began, there was no way you had the power to fend off your abuser. Whether your abuser used words, hands, knives, eyes or his penis, whatever his/her weapon of choice, that crime of assault and rape was committed against us and that crime should have been punishable by a long jail sentence. Sadly, most do not even have to pay a fine and they, unlike us, often go on to live “normal” lives while you and I wallow in victimization mode for what feels like forever, and often is. If your abuse continued, as mine did, for years, a myriad of thoughts build up in our minds; things like “I must have been a bad girl,” “I must have done something very wrong,” “I must have deserved this,” or, thoughts like “I must have been a very special girl for ….. to love me so much,” “I liked the feel of this, at least at the beginning, I did,” or, even thoughts like “it’s our secret so I mustn’t tell anybody or else,” “… will kill my puppy, my kitten, my mommy or, worse still, even me if I tell.” The brain-washing, the secrecy, the stigma, the lies and mostly, the fear, guilt, shame, low or non-existent self-esteem, blame – whatever it was, it kept us paralyzed in that frozen state.
We all developed coping mechanisms, things that got us up in the mornings, got us to school, to work, to events with “normal” people. Whether or not those “crutches” were good or poor choices, they were our choices amidst the destruction and devastation that was going on in our lives at the time. They were our allies, our comforters, our only trusted “friends” in our crazy mixed up world. We need to honour them and then we need to let them go. They were our saviours and now they may be our jailors; we are prisoners without bars and as long as we allow our perpetrators to hold us hostage, to overpower our dreams to move on, we will remain stagnant, downtrodden. Our scars are part of the fabric of our being; they cannot be erased, rubbed off or dug out, but they are not the sum total of who we are today.
One thing I know for certain is that we don’t deserve to wallow in a quagmire of hopelessness, pain, grief and despair. We are equal amongst our fellow sojourners along life’s path and we deserve the chance to grow beyond the darkness, beyond our heavy burdens, we deserve to shed the past emotional baggage and repack our bags with hopefulness, fairness, goodness and light, with a sense that we can fulfill our wildest dreams and succeed in our desires to become whatever we aspire to be. We need to dare to progress beyond our former selves and reach for the stars. We need to be able to risk, and if we fall short the first time around, we need to dust ourselves off and try another approach. Growth and strength and power often come from initial failures, but we are not to reproach ourselves and never attempt something again just because the results were not up to our expectations. We don’t need to be perfect. We won’t be reprimanded or junked because we tried; in fact, we will gain the praise of others for daring to reach beyond our comfort zones. We may feel comfortable in our ruts, but it is anything but fulfilling to languish in them. Our initial discomforts will eventually become our comforts, our easy place to land. We mustn’t let past baggage drag us backward; we need to firmly kick those stumbling blocks out of our way, no matter how weary we are, in order to get a glimpse of what might be our final destination. And what is very interesting is this: when we successfully reach one goal, we will be encouraged to strive for the next and then the next. While we live and breathe, we have the capacity to grow and evolve.
We need purposefully to seek out the positives and surround ourselves with them. Positive people, positive choices, positive goals, these will become our new “props.” As we conquer each fear and walk towards the light into a new dawning, our burdens will become much lighter and before we know it, we may even be whistling a happy tune.
One of the very last, but extremely important things we must do is to shed those emotional hang-ups, our past tormentors that we no longer need. The boogieman is out of the closet, the monster is no longer under the bed, the darkness is only a natural process that follows the day, those repetitive tapes that used to convince us they were necessary for our survival need to be muted and our perpetrators need to be shrunk to Lilliputians that no longer carry any power, their energy completely fizzled out, dead. As with many physical diseases, a straight-forward road to recovery is not always the case; complications occur. This is the same with sexual abuse. Along with the sexual abuse, there is, often, physical abuse, psychological and emotional abuse, harassment, denigration of our mind, body and soul and these require attention in order to fully heal.
Some will try to measure our abuses on a continuum. My abuse actually began pre-birth, when my mother attempted to get rid of me in utero following her pregnancy that she hoped would keep her marriage intact. When my father left, she had no use for a child. My sexual abuse began around five or six months of age and continued until around the age of eighteen years. My perpetrators numbered in the hundreds with, in my opinion, my mother being the most evil of them. At the age of eleven, I gave birth to a daughter alone, in a cold, dark outside cupboard and after about half an hour she was snatched from me and I was told to get ready for school. I know my mother murdered my baby, but I have no provable evidence. In my own little childish way, I named my daughter Hope and she’s been sitting on my shoulder ever since. Had she lived, today she would be fifty-seven years of age. Where does my abuse fall on that continuum? It was ritual, satanic abuse with all of the complications I spoke of earlier. I grade it as severe. You can grade your own situation but, whether you were raped once or thousands of times, you were a victim of sexual abuse. You and I are not in a race to see who was more damaged. We were all victims of this heinous crime. We can each speak our own truths with our own voices, in our own writings, in our artwork, our dance or our song and then, use those truths to alert, praise and honour ourselves as survivors while we also mourn those lives have been lost, either literally or figuratively, as a direct consequence of sexual abuse.
We need to address our losses. This is huge and the list is endless, but some of them are loss of childhood, loss of innocence, loss of pets and friends, loss of motherhood, of self-esteem, of courage, guilt, shame, self-worth, loss of humour and laughter, loss of spontaneity. We need to shed our unreasonable fears and beliefs that we’ve held for so long, feelings of smelling dirty, of our need to scrub the bad away, feelings that we are unworthy, disgusting, stupid, beliefs in our inabilities to be good enough daughters, sisters, wives, mothers, students, professionals of whatever “ologist” we’d like to be. We need to be able to look in the mirror and see the unique, worthy, beautiful person that others see. We need to learn to be “WOMAN” in its fullest sense of the word.
We belong to a special sisterhood, a membership that does not flaunt its name, but one, nonetheless, that exists, is real and is worth embracing in both its ugly past, its shining future and most of all, in its day to day present. If you’re like me, you revel in “the ordinary,” going to the grocery store, enjoying a thank you for a job well done, being a good enough Mom. We can’t delete the past and we have no idea what the future holds, but we owe it to ourselves to be the best that we can be, right now. We need to acknowledge our gifts and talents and use them for ourselves and for the greater good.
There will be times when something triggers our consciousness, something that, if we allow it, gives it the power it doesn’t deserve; it may pull us under like a tidal wave. But, at these times, we need to remind ourselves of our real power, we need to be able to pull some tricks out of our emotional hats so we don’t allow ourselves to drown. Each in our own way will be able to dig into our arsenal of tricks and bring ourselves back from the brink. Keeping journals, writing poetry, creating music, drawing and painting, physical exercise, going shopping or to a movie, dining out with our friends, taking children or grand-children to the park, speaking our fears into some kind of recording device so we can hear the power of our own voices, strolling in the woods, going for a snooze, whatever it is that brings calmness, peace, and balance to our core – it is these that I hope you turn to when triggers arise. And don’t fool yourselves, triggers are all around us and they are unique to us alone, but we need to believe that we are [mostly] capable of shaking them. Whatever is your magic wand, use it and enjoy the wonderment of its value to bring your feet grounded firmly on the floor.
I want to leave you with one last suggestion. Create a space for yourself that only you may enter. If your room is physically too small, then imagine this space. Keep it sacred. Into that area, bring one or two of your favourite things, objects that will soothe and will always be a part of your healing. Maybe it will be a candle, a symbol of positive light, a loved book, stuffed animal or perhaps a symbolic piece of fabric with a certain scent emitting from it, a cozy sweater, a photograph that always brings you pleasure; these things, again, are unique and meaningful to you alone, so the choices are never right or wrong. Then, either literally or figuratively, step into your sacred space. As much as possible, blot out all other sensory intrusions, center yourself using meditation or some other form that brings you to a special, life-giving place and then allow yourself whatever time you need before re-entering the “real world” with all its noises and demands on you. The “assaults” of the everyday will feel much more manageable. Remember, this is a place you can access anytime.
In conclusion, I would welcome fellow survivors to react and respond to my letter. My dream is to create a virtual Living-Room, a safe, welcoming place where anything can be said, any question can be asked and any reply accepted for what it is. Any tools may be present there, and suggestions for fellow survivors or for those who seek to understand us, literary or artistic pieces of work that can help and inspire others, any resources in the form of books, journals and magazines, films and CDs, songs, TV programs, newspaper stories, events, bumper stickers, symbolic phrases – the items are endless and would be most welcome. Don’t forget human resources such as significant role models, public speakers, special events, counsellors and other professionals who have years of experience with this subject, notices of retreats and places of solitude, police of special victims’ units, people of influence and anybody else who is interested in exposing the abuse of children and women and who are working endlessly to eliminate these crimes; they would all be welcome.
Let’s begin now.
Mother, sister, daughter, widow, teacher, nurse, midwife, public health nurse, nurse tutor, listener, advocate, friend, survivor and WOMAN
Please check out her blog called THE LIVING-ROOMto offer encouragement, share your story, and help this inspirational woman promote her heartbreaking cause.
In case you haven’t noticed Canada is sporting a shiny Penny at the Olympics in Rio. Although we gave up using pennies in our currency recently, this Penny is a keeper. At just 16 years of age, Penny (short for Penelope) Oleksiak has made a tremendous splash at the Olympics and all Canadians very proud this week.
Penny is the first Canadian athlete to win four medals in a single summer Olympics. With four swimming medals (1 gold, 1 silver and 2 bronze) under her belt (or around her neck) she goes for a fifth medal in another relay Saturday night.
Her sunny disposition, ever present smile and unassuming attitude make her a fan favourite. After her gold medal win, she did not turn around to see her result for a full 25 seconds, then mumbled “oh my gosh!” when she realized she had tied for first place and the gold medal. No fist pumps or fingers in the air, just an endearing “oh my gosh.” What an inspiration to all youngsters let alone other athletes.
I’m willing to bet Penelope will be a favourite in baby girl names this year here in Canada!
This week, February 14th to 21st, is Random acts of Kindness Week. Even though the week is half over, be sure to perform a few RAKs yourself. Random acts of kindness don’t have to be expensive or time-consuming or even premeditated; that’s why they are called random.
When I started this post, I had no idea that random acts of kindness were so popular. I googled the term and was pleasantly surprised to find the many websites and events dedicated to performing random acts of kindness…
CHARLOTTE BACON ACTS OF KINDNESS AWARDS is such as site, based on the tragic 2012 death of Charlotte, 20 classmates and 6 staff members at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Connecticut.
LOVE THIS CITY is a website dedicated to love bombs or random acts of kindness organized by church groups. Originating in Auckland City, New Zealand in 2013 the idea is catching on around the world. The premise is to spread kindness, generosity, thoughtfulness, and love in the form of random acts of kindness to unsuspecting strangers, for nothing in return. Although originally focusing on people who often go unrecognized in a city, such as policemen, bus drivers, street cleaners etc, the movement is spreading to include everyone and anyone…
Another website describes a FOUNDATION based on random acts of kindness where you can find stories and ideas on how to “pay it forward” The founders of this site call themselves RAKtivists, hoping to change the world with their trail of warm fuzzy feelings created by each random act of kindness. The foundation has a TWITTER ACCOUNT with the name @RAKFoundation.
The more I research this subject, the more I like the idea that these RAKtivists have put in motion. The pay it forward concept has always appealed to me. I know small acts of kindness can go a long way to help others feel good or better about themselves. Let’s celebrate this week with RAKs of our own.
Happy New Year to all of you writers and readers out there in the blogging world. Instead of a new year’s resolution for a typical diet, I think this suggestion for an elimination diet is a much healthier way to bring in 2016…..
Give it a try and make 2016 a wonderful, healthy and happy year!
This is the first poem I have written in ages, probably since high school. It was inspired by singers Adele (Hello) and Shawn Mendes (Stitches) as well as a few people in my life…
I can forgive
but I cannot forget
while the heart allows you to forgive,
the head allows you to forget
my heart says I love him
my head says he doesn’t love me
my heart says make him stay
my head says let him go
my heart thinks I cannot live without him
my head knows he can live without me
my heart says I need him
my head knows I don’t
While it is wonderful to think and feel with your heart, your brain knows when someone is not right for you. For those of you with a broken heart due to the end of a long term relationship, let your brain lead the way to healing your heart.
please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLEIt is guaranteed to make you LOL.
There is nothing like Christmas music to get you into the holiday spirit…
While Christmas music never fails to inspire me, it also makes me realize how lucky we in Canada are to be able to celebrate the holiday season with loved ones.
Yesterday, while sitting in a dentist chair, I heard the song “Tears are not Enough” on Majic 100’s radio station. “Tears are not Enough” is a single musical collaboration produced in Canada, in 1985, to raise money for the victims of famine in Ethiopia. A group of Canadian talents such as singer Bryan Adams and songwriter David Foster came up with the hit under the banner Northern Lights.
The lyrics and voices of Northern Lights and Tears are not Enough were powerful back in 1985, raising more than 3 million dollars for charity. Today the lyrics continue to be powerful and are especially appropriate and meaningful with all of the unrest in the world. Take a moment to read the lyrics and listen to the video…
“Tears Are Not Enough”
As every day goes by
How can we close our eyes
Until we open up our heartsWe can learn to share
And show how much we care
Right from the moment that we startSeems like overnight
We see the world in a different light
Somehow our innocence is lostHow can we look away
‘Cause every single day
We’ve got to help at any costWe can bridge the distance
Only we can make the difference
Don’t ya know that tears are not enough
If we can pull together
We could change the world forever
Heaven knows that tears are not enough
It’s up to me and you
To make the dream come true
It’s time to take our message everywhere
C’est l’amour qui nous rassemble
D’ici ?l’autre bout du monde
Let’s show them Canada still cares
You know that we’ll be there
If we should try together you and I
Maybe we could understand the reasons why
If we take a stand every woman, child and man
We can make it work for God’s sake lend a hand
please be sure to visit my slightly more humorous blog YOUR DAILY CHUCKLEIt is guaranteed to make you LOL.