Writer’s “Guilt”

I don’t have a problem with writer’s block. Finding the right words, topics, voice, style, or tone, hasn’t really been an issue with me. I love switching up my writing; from short stories to essays to fiction to blogging, I love it all. What really stops me in my tracks isn’t indecision, or lack of ideas…it’s guilt.

I’m no longer in the work force. I’ve gone through spurts of working full-time, part-time, occasionally, and rarely due to my Rheumatoid Arthritis. Right now, I’m not working. I have all the time in the world. Why, then, am I not writing all the time?  I’ve asked myself this question every time I find myself in this very fortunate situation that any writer would envy.

Some writers spend most of their spare time mulling over ideas, doing research, himming and hawing about this or that before they actually get right down to the task of writing. They spend so much time doing the “prep work” that they neglect doing the very thing they love to do…writing.

I, too, get caught up in this trap, but my biggest problem is the overwhelming feeling of guilt I get when I think about taking the massive amount of time for myself it would require to finish the many novels I have started.

I look around at the many boxes of stuff that still haven’t been unpacked since moving. I notice that even though I just dusted last week, there is a fresh layer of dust covering everything in my house. I ask myself if this time should be spent doing more important things. So I avoid writing. Worst part…the boxes still sit unpacked, the dust remains, and the “more important things” remain more important things.

Guilt. It’s debilitating for a writer. I feel horrible for taking this time for myself and away from my family. It’s unfounded guilt because my family is very supportive and give me no reason to feel this guilt. So, how do I overcome this obstacle? I’ll gladly take any advice from other’s who suffer from “writer’s guilt”.

Bullying – A Parent’s Perspective

A Facebook friend just asked advice about how to handle a bullying situation. His young teenage son has been experiencing relentless bullying from three boys in school and he is to the point where he is going to instruct his son to “handle it”, meaning, physically put them in their places.

That’s not good news for the bullies. My friend (and his son) have grown up in a very well known martial arts family and can most definitely put this issue to an end.

They have gone through all the proper steps and channels but nobody is handling it. It can be handled with physical retalliation, but that’s an ethical issue that isn’t popular with a lot of people.

So many of you may not agree with the advice I gave him; I told him to intice the bullies to throw the first punch and then take care of business. And that’s because I was never one to walk away from these situations in my own life.

I had some sensitive family issues when I was going through school. I didn’t have the time to be hanging with all the popular kids…I was at home most of the time taking care of my family. So when I would be embarrassed, humiliated, and chastized by anyone, I took it very personally as an attack on my whole family, so I handled the situation. Back then, in the 80’s, it was easier to get away with fighting; I only got in trouble with the school once. BUT, my bullies NEVER bothered me again.

As a parent of a now 18 year old son, I’ve only had to contend with this situation once in his life. And they worked it out. They both agreed that they would duke it out to settle the situation. My stepson video taped the three minute scuffle. It was hard for me to watch, but I wanted to see for myself how they handled it. A few punches were thrown. A fat lip and a couple of bruises later, they both ended it and shook hands. This wasn’t a bullying situation, but a disagreement among friends. Not the same, I know. But they both thought they were handling things like men. It may be primitive, but in a weird way, it was very respectful.

I do not agree with walking away from a threat with my tail between my legs. It will settle nothing with bullies. Bullies are looking for a confrontation, and it seems to me at least, when they get what they are looking for, they respect their opponent and it is settled. It’s a sport to them; and they are looking for worthy opponents.

Now, all of this is easy for me to say, because my perspective is formed from my experiences as a school-age girl in the 80’s. We didn’t have the threat of sharp weapons, or even firearms, at school. Standing up for one’s self these days could mean literally taking your own life in your hands. And as a mom, that scares the shit out of me. So if a bully is a known gangster who is believed to be packing…my advice is to walk… RUN…and report the harassment to authorities. Avoid, avoid, avoid.

Where do you stand when it comes to bullies harassing your children? What would you advise them to do?

Chiming in on Christmas

I’ve never felt so unsure about Christmas. I mean, I’m sure there IS a Christmas, but I’m not sure WHAT it is…to me, anyway.

I grew up in Newfoundland, and in my little family, there were clear and steadfast rules when it came to our Christmasses. Mom and Dad always put up and decorated the Christmas tree on Christmas Eve, and it always came down on January 6, or Old Christmas Day.

There was no opening of gifts on Christmas Eve, but my Dad was the first one up Christmas morning, usually before the break of dawn, to wake Mom, my brother, and me up so he could take pictures on a real old-fashioned camera. Being a parent myself now, I know the joy of watching children opening the gifts they wished for but weren’t really expecting.

My parents split when I was 19, and I moved away from Newfoundland when I was 21. My mother eventually moved here to Alberta in 2004, so I got to enjoy about six Christmasses with her and my own family until she passed away on Christmas Day in 2010.

Being married in a blended family, and having to share our Christmas seasons with the in-laws and my stepchildren’s family, it was becoming impossible to continue with the traditions I grew up with. My husband likes to put up the tree a week or two before Christmas, and we eventually slipped into the habit of opening our gifts on Christmas Eve night, saving just the stockings for Christmas morning.

Losing my own traditions leaves me secretly yearning for something more meaningful to do at Christmas. Over the years, we had invited lonely shut-ins for dinner and adopted needy families to bless with gifts, but it feels forced. I’m no longer religious (that’s a whole other blog) so going to Christmas Mass or church service isn’t what I’m looking for.

Maybe I’ll find it this year. It will be the first Christmas in 25 years that I will be spending Christmas with my dad. It won’t be on Christmas Day because I won’t see him until the 27th of December. And there won’t be snow…we’ll be visiting him in Florida where he winters.

Right now we are planning on having a big Christmas celebration on the beach in Clearwater. Maybe this will become our new Christmas tradition. Who knows. But it better be a pretty special day on the beach if it’s going to satisfy this need I have.

December 25th will always be a bitter-sweet day because it will always be the anniversary of my mother’s death. It’s a struggle to keep that particular day joyful. December 29th is the anniversary of the death of my husband’s father, who passed away in 2011, so for the same reason, that day seems to belong to his memory.

Is it wrong to celebrate the spirit of Christmas on  any other day? Maybe that’s what’s missing…a whole new day that is earmarked for us to celebrate the pure joy of Christmas, unblemished by the memories of our parent’s horrible deaths.

I’ll let you know what Day we choose to celebrate Christmas when we finally do choose. Maybe Christmas on the beach in Florida will give me some clarity.

Separate Bedrooms

Some studies suggest that up to 25% of co-habitating partiners, married or not, sleep in separate beds.

More and more homebuilders are builiding houses with two master bedrooms.

My husband and I have separate bedrooms. We have for 8 years – our whole marriage, just about.

What is the first thing you think about us when you hear that we have separate rooms?  That we must have grown apart? We have a marriage more for convenience? That we’re only together for the kids? That we have a sexless marriage? That we just can’t stand to be that close together?

Well, all of that can be farther from the truth. I started sleeping on the couch all those years ago because I was diagnosed with RA (Rheumatoid Arthritis), was still in the very painful early stages before medications helped, and found it physically impossible to sleep in a bed for a year.

When the time came that my pain was under control, my husband and I BOTH decided that I would make the spare bedroom all my own.

I”ve always been a late owl anyway, and he is an early bird. I go to bed sometimes 5 hours later than him. So anytime I would go to bed, I would disturb his deep sleep.

I like to read before falling asleep, or play a game or two on my phone.

I have sinus problems, especially during winter, so I’m always blowing my nose.

I get up to pee 2-3 times through the night.

I sleep later than Brad, so he would disturb me when he gets up.

I’m a very light sleeper, and Brad snores and gets restless leg syndrome all the time.

And apparently, I snore as well…

I share my room (since we moved into this house) with my stepdaughter, who comes to stay only two or three weekends each month, and during those weekends I sleep with my husband. Last night, after finally getting to sleep, I feel a hand on my shoulder…”Kelly, could you roll over? You’re snoring.” This, after listening to him snore for a half an hour after I went to bed.

This morning I got up, long after him, and he informs me he recorded me snoring. The audio was quite funny. I have this gutteral, fluttery, deep-throat sounding snore. I’ll have to record him tonight.

Before you ask if we still have a sex life, well of course we do. I never forget him on his birthday.

I’m curious. Do any of you have separate bedrooms? What are your reasons?

Don’t Feed The Animals…Er, I mean HOMELESS.

How many of you would give food to someone who knocked on your front door and asked to be fed?

I’m pretty sure almost all of us would.

How about if you seen a hungry homeless mother and her child in a park rummaging through garbage bins?

I’m sure if you had the means, you would most definitely help.

How about if it was a drug addicted, mentally ill man laying in the entranceway of a public building?

A little scarier of a situation, but I’m sure for those who were brave enough, and were moved with compassion, you would probably help.

THE SITUATION IN FORT LAUDERDALE, FL.

It seems the lawmakers in many municipalities in the warm state of Florida wouldn’t be so moved to help any of the people above. So much so that they have made it a criminal offence to feed the hungry, homeless people who flock to Florida to at least have a warm climate to weather while living on the street.

Mic.com reported here about an elderly man who was arrested for having compassion and feeding a homeless person. Read about it here.

THE SOLUTION?

I’m sure that the very idea of NOT BEING LEGALLY ALLOWED TO FEED THE HUNGRY in the hopes that they will just move along infuriates you as much as it does me.

I’m Canadian, and our homeless problem is no less important than those of Florida, but the day we put people in office who dehumanize homeless people and make it illegal to feed them like they were zoo animals, that is the day I officially do not want to be a citizen of the human race anymore.

What do we, as the voice of humanity, do about this? Well, maybe we can TALK about this so much, and shame those who are making these laws, that it will move our American friends to lobby against these laws.

Maybe we can start a movement calling people to IGNORE the laws and if we convince enough people to feed and cloth the homeless of Florida, that the justice system (which I say ironically) will not have the capabilities or resources to prosecute SO MANY PEOPLE.

My father and mother-in-law winter in Florida. It starts with me. If I am moved to help someone in need while in Florida, I will. Let them arrest me. What a wonderful criminal record to have…I WAS ARRESTED AND FOUND GUILTY OF HAVING COMPASSION AND PUTTING FOOD IN A HUNGRY PERSON’S BELLY. How f*@king ridiculous!

I just happened upon this 45 year old homeless woman’s blog, and it is very eye-opening. Please visit her blog here and read her words. http://suicidaltransgirl.com

It all starts with awareness.

#BeenRapedNeverReported

There is a lot of buzz right now about popular canadian radio host Jian Ghomeshi being fired from CBC because “the risk of the perception that may come from a story that could come out.” They’re his words.

The black and white of it is simple…he is accused by multiple women of crossing the line to criminal sexual behaviour.

You can read his open letter here, but I’m not going to spend any time here talking about his explanation of the details of his dismissal.

I will say, however, that I have read all of the comments to the above mentioned letter, and a conservative guess is that 80% of the comments are in support of Jian, demanding that CBC give him his job back. I also commented; my feelings seemingly in the minority.

From all of this and the other buzz about “rape culture”, a twitter trend has quickly developed…#BeenRapedNeverReported.

Women are coming out from every nook and cranny revealing how they have been raped/sexually assaulted and never reported it for some reason or another…and their reasons are heartbreaking. Read here about this.

It’s time to break the silence and shine a bright spotlight on the damage this is doing to women around the world. These women are your mothers, daughters, granddaughters, and best friends. They are people like me.

I was never raped, according to the general consensus of what the word rape means. I was sexually violated/assaulted three times, however, and never reported it.

The first time, I was 17 and sought safety and refuge at my uncle’s place from issues at home. I was sexually assaulted by him and his wife while I slept. I moved out immediately and never spoke of it much. I told my mother years later. She had a difficult time believing they were capable.

The second time, I used my head to avoid things from getting any worse by tricking the man who had me pinned against his wall in his apartment. I tricked him by playing a willing participant, saying I needed a few moments to get ready for him, giving me time get the hell out of there. I was 19. “no harm done” I thought.

Third time was in 2000 by a neurologist in Lethbridge, Alberta while my (then) husband waited in the waiting room. I can’t really explain why I didn’t tell anyone about it. I was considered someone who was mentally strong and always stood up for myself, but the thought of going up against someone like that scared the hell out of me.

I still regret not reporting these incidents to someone to hold these people accountable. Like I said, I didn’t consider what happened to be rape, but they were most definitely sexual violations and assault. Maybe speaking of it now, along with the hundreds of other brave women, will help encourage other survivors (I hate the word ‘victims’) to take it a step further and report the crimes.

We all need to quit taking these all-too-common incidents so lightly. Too many men have a sense of entitlement when it comes to sex (and yes, women are capable of such things as well). Women need to discuss their boundaries, and if these boundaries are crossed, we need to stand up, be brave, and hold people accountable. It’s not okay to be violated.

Here’s to the #BeenRapedNeverReported tweeters.

Me – Auctioneer Extraordinaire?

THE PROBLEM

We moved into our new house in April.  We downsized after we closed our businesses.

I’m still staring at Rubbermaid containers and cardboard boxes full of stuff all over our house. Our garage and shed are full as well.  Our walk-in closet has 6 square inches of foot space due to all the crap in there.

I also have a surplus of items left over from our businesses, from urns to candles. We had a funeral business and a handmade gift store.

I’ve tried giving away a load of stuff throughout the summer, but believe it or not, it didn’t all go. People don’t value things if you do not attach a value to it, I guess.

So I have a problem…too much stuff, not enough space.

What’s a girl to do?

THE SOLUTION

I started an online Facebook Auction page. I love participating in these local online auctions, especially the ones that auction off antiques, but until I can get rid of my stuff, I don’t have the room for more.

My page allows others to hold their own auctions in addition to the ones I will hold.

A friend just asked me what kind of pyramid scheme I was pulling when he seen my auction page on Facebook. What? Scheme? It’s simple…the more people who get involved and hold their auction on my auction page, the more people will bid when I hold my own auctions. Other than that, there is nothing else in it for me.

Are you buried in stuff you don’t need anymore? Are you, by nature, a purger like me?

Why not start your own local auction page? Invite others to hold their own auctions, and hold your own once in a while.

If you would like to take a look at mine to get some ideas, click here. Click on the ABOUT arrow to see the rules and tips I have. You are permitted to copy right from mine to use on yours.

Go ahead…start PURGING!