ISIS, religion and the problem with the world

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The other day, I made the mistake of involving myself in a talk (online, big mistake) about real world problems vs. celebrity news coverage.  I didn’t much care for the celebrity news aspect of it, so I dove into the “real” world news coverage or lack there of.  The biggest issue the world is facing right now is ISIS, now I would argue that the world is full of BIG issues, but this happened to be the one at the forefront on the particular day.

I will give a bit of background on our particular residential status at the moment.  We are living in Poland, bordering what?….the Ukraine;  some pretty serious stuff going on there right now.  We live north west of Afghanistan;  some serious stuff still going on there too.  Don’t believe it, we are missing a pair of desert combat boots from our house,  Ebola is out of…

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ISIS, religion and the problem with the world

The other day, I made the mistake of involving myself in a talk (online, big mistake) about real world problems vs. celebrity news coverage.  I didn’t much care for the celebrity news aspect of it, so I dove into the “real” world news coverage or lack there of.  The biggest issue the world is facing right now is ISIS, now I would argue that the world is full of BIG issues, but this happened to be the one at the forefront on the particular day.

I will give a bit of background on our particular residential status at the moment.  We are living in Poland, bordering what?….the Ukraine;  some pretty serious stuff going on there right now.  We live north west of Afghanistan;  some serious stuff still going on there too.  Don’t believe it, we are missing a pair of desert combat boots from our house,  Ebola is out of control to the south of us, as is Boko Haram and finally if you look on a map, Iraq and Syria are to the south east of us……in short we are surrounded by it.  So, yes this gets one thinking about what is happening in our world, not a world away from us, but in our own backyard.

Enough background, now onto the real issue.  As I stated previously, I engaged myself in what I thought was an interesting, thought provoking discussion on the seriousness of the issue (remember I discounted the celebrity aspect of this)…..I was wrong…..and through this discussion, I think I have finally discovered what is truly wrong with this world.

I approached this issue from the perspective that throughout history we, as in humanity, have done some terrible things in the name of religion, or to protect “our” religion, in an attempt to cleanse the world of what we fear or don’t understand.  There has always been and always will be extremists and fundamentalists when it comes to dealing with religion, and these individuals are the ones we should be terrified of regardless of which God they pray to.

I made they point that it should not be a Christian vs Muslim, Muslim, vs. Buddhist, Buddhist vs….whatever, insert any religion.  None of us regardless of our beliefs, religious following or lack there of should be tossing stones at anyone else.  The vast majority of any religion follow the dogma or doctrine of that religion without issue.  Then there is the radical edge….the fundamentalists and extremists that take this dogma and doctrine over the top.  This happens in every religion (ie:  Christians during the Holocaust)…..look around your own, and there will be facets of it that shame you, that you distant yourself from, that you explain away by saying, “not everyone thinks that way.”  BAM!  “Not everyone thinks that way,”  yet we are painting an entire people with one brush……let me repeat AN ENTIRE PEOPLE!  Imagine the uproar if all Christians, Jews, Buddhists, Mormons, Jehovah’s, etc.. were painted with one brush, it would not be tolerated. but this is what we are doing.  I understand what this extremist faction is perpetrating right now, and it is DISGUSTING, it can not be tolerated, and it must stop, and it must stop now but how when we are too busy pointing fingers?

After my two cents worth, which I found out was worth about 1 zloty, there were two fine individuals, a gentleman, who called me “a racist, bigot, promoting hatred towards Christians and ignorant.”  I may be ignorant about certain things, but his assumptions about me and my religious background (I was Baptized in the Anglican church and my children were Baptized in the United Church), were absolutely wrong and ignorant,  so I guess he is actually the bigot assuming I am not Christian (I take people based on themselves)…..is point one of what is wrong with the world.  Then a lovely lady told me, “I was the problem in the world.” in all caps!  Pretty hefty words…..I really don’t want the responsibility of causing all the problems in the world;  I have enough on my plate right now, and really can’t handle something of epic proportions like that, point two of what is wrong in the world.

After reading and rereading the comments….I was left with the thought, “is this world truly full of that much hatred towards others?” and “why?”   Answer to question number one, yes, it is full of that much hatred, why?  Because we fear what we don’t know and refuse to educate ourselves even on the basics someone living a life different from ours.  The answer to question number two;  “why?”, because people assume, people assume everything, it has become part of our make up.  We don’t take the time to talk or see a different perspective, we assume that if you aren’t with me, you are against me.

Now,  I am busy raising two children in a foreign land, and trying to instill in them, the fact that differences are what makes the world wonderful, to never judge someone because they are different from you, that religion does not define you…..it is a matter of faith, not religion that is important, that the world can be a terrible place, but there are beautiful people who make it less terrible, that they must stand strong, even in the face of haters,  all while being surrounded by the atrocities being carried out around us.  As I said, I have enough on my plate, trying to guide my children through the maze of life, me being the problem is the world just tips the scales, so I will pass that one on to someone who would like that particular title.

I have to admit that I was about to respond to these caring individuals, by pointing out that they were probably writing from the comfort of their own home in Canada,  where one of the most pressing issues is when will Justin Trudeau stick his foot in it again?  This is stuff they read of in the papers or see on the news…..we are stuck, surrounded by it, I am raising my children in it.  We are part of a NATO community (which means 28 countries), not one, and a Polish community which means, learning and learning some more….not casting stones at people you don’t anything about;  but from their high and mighty positions feel it is ok to do so.

I hope you fine readers can follow the thread I am knitting here of what is wrong with the world, and why no solution is going to be abundantly apparent to anyone, anytime soon.  If we as individuals are filled with so much fear and hatred towards others, if we are so ready to attack others because we may be from a different religious background or race;  then my friends this world is in a heap of trouble, even more so than we are in now.

Perhaps if we could put aside our differences and stand together united, instead of the inane bickering that continues….we could make a difference, and stop the hideous, nightmarish actions of ISIS.  We could stand up as a world united, not by religion, but by true humanity and save our fellow man.  Think about that TRUE HUMANITY, the love for our fellow man, the concern, and the need to rid the world of extremists who threaten our future the future of our children…..the one’s that I am teaching tolerance too, the one’s I am teaching love to, the one’s I am teaching acceptance to…..the one’s who will work to be the change.  Perhaps that is my contribution to “the problem with the world.”  I want my kids to grow up in an united world, one that doesn’t hate based on religion,  one that acts not hates, for talk is cheap,  one where what we see happening under our noses right now is only part of their history.

I will quote John Lennon, in saying, “You may say I am a dreamer,”…..but I truly believe ” but I am not the only one, someday you will join me….and the world will live as one.”

Love Karen

Anorexia……my story

I found myself looking in the mirror today, and was absolutely horrified by the image staring back at me.  This has not happened in a very long time, and it scares me.  I know my perception of my appearance is distorted from what others see (this I learned a long time ago)….but suddenly, a wave a fear that I have not felt in a long time overcame me.  I quickly turned away from the mirror, promising to myself that never, never again would the word anorexia enter my mind, or my life.  This is a battle that I fight on a daily basis, one pattern of behaviour, that when life is getting the better of you, is so, so easy to fall back into.  I must remember the promise I have made to myself, my husband, and especially my children……never again!!!

I can not exactly pinpoint when my obsession with body image began.  If I think long and hard about it, I would probably surmise that junior high (grade eight), would be it.  I remember being told and ridiculed by Fred Corbett, a classmate, that “who would want to be seen with you, you are ugly and fat.”  Did this one comment start a downward spiral….no, did it set into motion years, and years of insecurity about my looks and weight, I would probably say “yes.”

I have always felt like the “akward duck”……short, weird hair, and teeth that could stop a bus.  There was nothing about me that was special or unique.   I found myself surrounded by beautiful, thin women, wishing someday to look something like them.

Fast forward to my twenties…..after the breakdown of my marriage, my friends and acquaintances thriving in their careers and lives, and me still and utter failure,  my life spiralled out of control.  Everything I had once known as “normal”, no longer existed….I could not function, and found myself at the bottom of the well known as depression, with no way out.  I tried taking my own life, but at the last moments, realized I didn’t want to die, and was blessed to be given another chance.  This is me writing this now, but at the time, although I realized that I didn’t want to die, I saw my failed suicide attempt, as yet another failure to add to my ever growing list.

When one realizes that they have no control over anything in their lives, you are very quick to grab onto something that you can control….in my case, this was food, or lack of it.  Before I knew it, pounds were melting off, and people began to notice me;  the akward duck was finally being noticed!!  As with any addiction, the more attention you get from your behaviour the more you engulf yourself in said destructive behaviour.

I walked 2.5 hours a day, ate laxatives like candy (I had to spread myself over several pharmacies, as to not draw attention to what I was doing), ate puffed wheat and drank ensure.  In my sad, delusional mind, as long as I was not vomiting, and putting food in my body, I had no problems.  The fact that I could not lay comfortably in a bath tub, because of my protruding bones, should have been a warning sign, but that is how immersed in the sickness I was.   Thankfully, I was surrounded by individuals, my mum, and my boss Dr. M.J. Willard (a Veterinarian and MD), who knew better than I did.  Through a heart felt plea from my mother on our dock at Lake of the Woods, I saw the head of Psychiatry at Victoria Hospital on the following Monday, and was promptly hospitalized that very day.

When I entered the hospital, I weighed in at 101 pounds.  Those who know me today, let me  state that that is 20 pounds less than I weigh today.  My first meal in the hospital was supervised by a nurse, and after my “move it around the plate and hide it technique”…..was bluntly told “Karen, I know all the tricks, you are going to have to be a lot better than that!”  I ate, until I thought I was about to rupture, and the nurse gave me the a-ok to head to my room.  Never had I been in so much pain after a meal.  I felt sick to my stomach, and all I could do was sit in my bed and cry.  I cried over a marriage gone bad,I cried that I never amounted to anything, that I was such a failure,  I cried that my life had fallen apart, but most of all I cried, because I had food in me.  They were trying to steal my control back.  I cried myself to sleep.

Day two began with bloodwork and a weigh in as did every day.  I met with a nutritionist who planned out my entire life.  I was not able to go to exercise group, could not go to the cafeteria (all my food was personally delivered)/  There is nothing quite as humbling, as having someone sit with you as you eat, and accompany you to the bathroom. I was a prisoner of a hospital, and my own mind.  Fortunately, my blood work always came back fine, but the first week I can not say the same for my weight.  My Doctor gave me two more days, and very firmly told me that if improvements were not noticed, I was scheduled to get a feeding tube put in my chest.  Thankfully, this drastic measure never came to fruition, but the daily blood work and weigh ins continued.  After a month in hospital, I was allowed to go to the cafeteria by myself, and to walk around the grounds……as my body became stronger, so did my mind. Through very intensive therapy,  I soon came to realize, that I was a fighter, not the “loser” so many in my life had labelled me, and I was about to show everyone a better, more caring, insightful me.

Two and a half months after my admission to the hospital, I was allowed to go home.  I was 111 pounds, still very slight, but on the road to recovery. I went to therapy weekly, stopped the exercise regime, and began eating on my own again.  I met a wonderful man, Michael, we married, and through a miracle, have two beautiful children.  I was told that because of the damage I had done to my body, my chances of ever conceiving were very low, I guess once again I showed them!!  🙂

Twelve years after being released from the hospital, I am proud to say, I have not had a slip up.  Pregnancy was a challenge for me, not the gaining weight (as it seems to be the time my body can/will gain weight) 196 pounds with our daughter and 184 pounds with our son…but the after birth experience…..losing the weight, new body image;  but I seemed to have handled it pretty well.  I realized that I was a mother, and I was now responsible for raising healthy children, with a healthy mother.

It is funny how I always tell my children how perfect they are JUST the way they are, and I truly mean every word I tell them, when deep inside I am so neurotic about my own image.  I never want my daughter to feel the way I did, I never want either of them to worry about body image….as long as the lead a healthy life style, are active and eat well, how they look is DNA playing out it’s tightly twisted link.

I have had people approach me about working out, joining this or that, but for someone like me…this could be the start of a downward slide, and this I know.  I worry about fitness plans, crazy “protein this/fruit that” eating regimes, I worry about food……constantly. I worry about my friends who get wrapped up in crazy workout schedules and eating……it only takes one time, and now along with your exercise addiction, you have an eating addiction also.  I worry about the scale, this is why we don’t own one in our home, I worry about 5 pounds (up or down), and 12 years later, this I still have not yet figured how to wrap my head around.

Anorexia can be beaten, but in my opinion never truly cured, even the specialists can’t agree on this. Food is and will always be an issue in my life, although those who have dined with me, may question that!   I begin every new day, looking at is 24 hours more under my belt that I have taken back my control, my life, my health and my future.

Embrace who you are, love who you are, there is only one of “you”, and you are brilliant!!!

I was going to post a photo of me post hospitalization, but remembered about 2 years ago, I destroyed all remaining evidence.  So a happy one it is!!  🙂

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I don’t think we are in Canada anymore!

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Eight months ago we started on the adventure of a lifetime, a move overseas to a foreign land.  We packed up kids, dogs, cat, everything we knew as “home” and started out.  It was my intention to blog about our adventures overseas, but to date I haven’t had the energy, nor positive wittiness to pull off one word.  I have tried many times, but every word seemed forced and contrite, and that is not how I write.  I felt like I was lying to myself to make this seem like the adventure I had envisioned…..and in my writing, I just can’t do that.

After much reflection on this, I have decided to write something……will it be good?  Probably not, but it is from my heart, it is a small insight into our lives, far away from home.

We have been given an opportunity, one which few people will be offered, for this I am grateful;  for at the end of all of this we certainly won’t be the same people we were when we started this journey, and that alone is exciting and terrifying.

We live in a beautiful country, rich in history, with the opportunity to travel to some of the most important historical locations.  It is a learning experience, the one you can’t get in schools, the one, when you look back upon it, you can say, “I was there, I know how it smells, how it sounds, how I felt.”  It is powerful, sad and an experience that makes you very grateful of our Canadian roots.

We also live in a country where no one thinks “out of the box”, men rule the household, women are seen as second class citizens, and foreigners are not regarded kindly.  Now, you may think this is my opinion, but I have spoke with many of it’s residents, and this is the consensus among even the locals.

All that aside, I try and go about my business, with my families best interests always at the forefront of my thoughts.  For thirteen years, I have been mum….I have been the one the kids come to, I have been the one who has advocated for them, and I find myself in the position where all my input regarding the children has been taken away from me.  Oh, I can moan and complain about their situation, but there is realistically  not a thing I can do about it, remember I am a female number one, and a passionate mother number two….not a good combination when dealing with people who are in a box and refuse to look outside of it. As a military mum, who is accustomed to making the tough decisions, I am left feeling very disempowered, that one of my main purposes in life has been stolen from me, that my opinion on the welfare of our family no longer matters.  My hubby has taken on the role as the “diplomat” with the children’s school, which frustrates me to no end. We can be as diplomatic as we want, but what this place needs is a shake up, and kick in the rear end into the 21 st century, a reminder that they are free, and able to make their own decisions.  This alas is not forthcoming.

My hubby, God bless him, is consistently trying to get me to involve myself in the “spouses club,” but I don’t do the coffee circuit, bless you ladies who do, but I am not one of those people who enjoy this.  There was a point in my life where I would have dreamed of having all the time in the world on my hands, but that time has come and gone.  I search desperately for something useful, purposeful, something I can contribute to with a meaningful outcome.  I want to be a presence of change, of hope of perserverance…maybe I want too much, maybe I should be happy with coffee?  Maybe, but I don’t think so.

I know I sound selfish and ungrateful, but when you are used to going at 100 km/hour to nothing….something eventually is going to give.  We experienced this when dh came back from Afghanistan, he had no idea what his role was or where he fit in, in our family….this was a huge transition phase but, we figured it out.  I find  myself in the same position here, only I have no job to return to, and I am only a woman….I feel my options are very limited, and my hands are tied.  Perhaps I am not looking in the right spots (if anyone knows of any..please let me know!)

Oh Canada how I miss you…….You are the land of opportunity where anyone can do anything……where one squeaky voice can be the voice of change, where men and women are equal, where I felt comfortable sending my children to school.  You are the land of smiling faces, manners, the place where neighbours help and watch out for each other, and free thinking is celebrated.

Maybe I am too old for this adventure, or maybe I just care to damn much.  I am not sure.  What I am sure of, is that my children will leave this country in three years with their Canadian values in tact.  I always tell them,”give people your best Canadian smile,” for that one small thing, that real smile, the genuine sparkle, the impish look of the future; makes people stop and wonder.   Maybe that is my purpose….to make sure our kids never lose that, to make sure that they always look to the future not inside a box, but as the world being their canvas, ready to be painted with their story…..

Drama, Judgement and the Internet

Drama

Full Definition of DRAMA

1
:  a composition in verse or prose intended to portray life or character or to tell a story usually involving conflicts and emotions through action and dialogue and typically designed for theatrical performance :  play — compare closet drama

:  a movie or television production with characteristics (as conflict) of a serious play; broadly :  a play, movie, or television production with a serious tone or subject <a policedrama>

2
:  dramatic art, literature, or affairs
3
:  a state, situation, or series of events involving interesting or intense conflict of forces

:  dramatic state, effect, or quality

Ok, so now we are clear on what “drama” is….in short it is life.  I shall now explore what has become my “pet peeve”, my “eyeball” rolling moment in my day…..the thing I see on the net consistently…..”You post drama, and are surprised when people judge you?”
On the surface this seems like a pretty cut a dry statement, but let us look at this a little closer.  As we have found out, drama, is LIFE….the good, the bad and the ugly;  fair enough.  If you post about the birth of a child, everyone congratulates you;  but this is drama….why are we sending you our congratulations?  Because we are happy for and your wonderful dramatic life event,  Your child, spouse, family member is recognized for an act, promotion, move or award;  once again congratulations.  More drama, again I ask the same question.  I suppose the same answer applies.  It is the right thing to do, to take interest and feel excitement for these life accomplishments.
Let us move to the opposite end of the spectrum of drama, the death of a family member, friend, pet…….suddenly condolences……and in any civilized society, this is the correct and caring way to approach this subject….. to show the depth of our concern while someone is hurting, shattered, experiencing intense drama.
Then there is the grey area in between these two dramas, I will call it everyday life. Suddenly things can become a quagmire.  There are those who will do everything in their power to decimate another with words, there will be those who are indifferent, and there are those who will try and help.
I want to talk about the “judge”
judgement
The judge……yes, the person who has all the answers to life, the ones who coined the phrase “attention slut”, a phrase I detest.  The “judge” doesn’t want to hear about everyday life, or at least, anything that can be construed as bothersome….they are the “put on your big girl panties” gang, and get on with life. Not very “love your neighbour”ish, but the more you look at things, and study people, the more you realize we live in a world full of facades.  Those who espouse their tolerance and love, very often are the ones who will cut you down at the knees.  There will be the throwing around of, “I only surround myself with positive people,” but I do not know one single person who is positive 24/7, 365.  We are all in this game called life, and sometimes it throws us some nasty curve balls, and it is at these times we need each other, we need compassion, we need advice, the judge can retire to chambers and call it a day.
 I try to live my life remembering that I have no permission to judge anothers life, based on the fact, that it is not my life….plain and simple.  Am I perfect in my attempt at this….no.  Do I realize that I have done it, yes.  Do I try to make amends when I have done it, yes.  Am I under the illusion that it will not happen again…..no!  I have and will continue to be judged, as will all of us, but perhaps if we looked into a statement and the emotion behind it, perhaps it may touch our hearts, perhaps instead of judging, we could be in part the helper.  Perhaps instead of calling someone an “attention slut” or whatever other derogatory term the judge comes up with, we could see the pain of someone’s soul, looking for someone to help.
internet
Enter the final piece of this equation, the internet.  For good or bad, it is here to stay, and is the medium through which 99 percent of the world communicates, or doesn’t, but that is a whole other blog.  At the end of our fingertips we have instant access to everyone and everything, and herein lays the “judge’s” playground.  People vary with what they post on the internet, some share very little, some everything. For a moment,  let us pull drama back into this equation.  Now remember, drama is life, repeat, drama is life.  The internet will never be a drama free zone, as what……drama is life, and life is drama, the good the bad and the ugly.
Those who chose to share very little are rarely criticized regarding their decisions.  Those who chose to share their frustrations, battles, problems, are ripe for the picking by the “judges.”  What is important here, is that people remember, not everyone is socially adept, and from behind computer screens evolves a world where these particular individuals are more at ease and able to speak about the above mentioned items.   I am not sure why people feel it is their mission to belittle other people’s problems, perhaps it is a character flaw in the “judge.”  Sometimes I read things that make me think, “that is a little too much,” but then I also think, “this is a cry for assistance of some kind.”  We all don’t wear undergarments made of steel, they come in a variety of materials….not all are of the super hero version.  What some can handle, others can not, we do not all have support networks surrounding us, and sometimes the advice or caring words of one person CAN make a difference.
I would rather take the road, that perhaps may help, that let’s someone know that someone cares and understands.  I don’t question people’s motives for posting on the internet, sometimes we just don’t have the answers, and there are people who do.  Sometimes we are so lonely and lost, we just need to know there is someone who cares.  Sometimes we are so angry, that it is almost a complete mental release to type our anger out.  There are so many examples of why people do what they do, with very logical answers…..yet, in today’s society it gets lumped into “drama slut”,  let’s bring out the “judge” to shut this one down.
I myself, don’t want to be one of those people.  In the internet age, everyone has a voice, and unless it is illegal or against my beliefs, I will never judge or ridicule one’s turmoil, pain, or confusion.  We have the power to make lives better, with just a few words, just a few key strokes….how empowering is that?  I think it is pretty darn impressive!
In the end, it is an individuals choice as to how to respond to anything they view on the net, but in my opinion there is enough bad out there already.  Let us view drama/life for what it is, it’s easy, it’s hard, it’s joyful, and filled with sorrow,  it’s everything in between. If we don’t like what we read, ignore it, let us take the high road, and like our parents taught us, “say nothing at all.”  If we truly practice this in life, it should be just as easy to do in cyber space.  We get enraged over bullying in real life, why is it acceptable when we use our words to bully over the internet?, ….Why?, because it is easy, so easy to be the “judge” when it is just us and a computer screen.  Let’s retire the judge to chambers, take away his/her gavel and finally let’s empower each other through our words.
Peace
If you post this……..
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Never post this…….
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just a thought!!

What’s your excuse…and no this is not about “that!”

I have found the phrase, “What is your excuse?” popping up in society more and more.  I find this phrase so grating, as the way it is posed is so very confrontational. More Confrontation is the last thing we need more of, in the diverse society we live in.

In just about every aspect of life, people ask, “well, why don’t you?”  I think the answer is very simple,  it is a personal choice (work, don’t work, marry, stay single, have children, no children, religion, no religion) every conceivable life situation seems to warrant the question from others.  Now, granted some questions are posed out of concern or intruige , but most of them are posed to illicit a response, one of which will cause one of the parties involved to feel defensive and act in the responding manner.

I think, perhaps, just perhaps if we accepted people’s personal choices for a happy (and remember happy doesn’t equate to walking on sunshine 24×7, 365) life for them, then that should be good enough.

I will quote Robert Munsch’s, “Stephanie’s Ponytail.”….”It’s my hair, and I like it!”  This is what we taught our children, that personal choice, sticking by it, and having pride in yourself, is important;  not what other people think, because there will always be those who want you to feel bad about yourself.  Why have we as adults forgotten this?

Maybe it is time we pulled out our children’s books, maybe it’s time we consciously make the decision not to use “the phrase,”  maybe it’s time we just love each other for all our differences, maybe it is time to just accept that everyone has different priorities, maybe it is time to just stop, smile and realize that whatever our choices are, we are all trying to be the best people we can be and that is awesome!

love and respect

Karen

Is this really empowering women?

In the couple of days since I first saw this picture, I have had absolute mixed feelings about how I feel about this mother.  This, which should be an example of good living, has become so controversial, and I feel torn…..torn about applauding this woman, torn about giving her a verbal tongue lashing, just torn.

This is my blog, my beliefs, my opinion, take it with a grain of salt, but, the creative juices are flowing and they have to come out.

Before I begin on this particular photo, I do want to say that I have friends who are absolute revolutionaries in the fitness world, and I have nothing but the utmost of respect for them, for what they have done, and what they are doing for others.  These individuals are incredible souls who have transformed their lives, and are spreading their passion to others…..so ladies a standing ovation for you, this is not about you, this is about this one photo and it’s message.

At first glance, it is a wonderfully constructed photo of a fit mum with her three youngsters….good on you!, but then I see the caption “What is your excuse?”. and I read her words behind why she posted this, and look deeply into the photo, I became agitated and angry.  “Why”, you may ask…..well, let me explain.

In the past 3-4 years there has been a growing industry, and growing is it ever….it is called the fitness industry, I like to refer to it as the bandwagon.  This is big business and business is good.  As our population ages, more and more people are focusing more on taking care of their bodies, and once again, respect to all those who choose this.  Now, this makes it sound like I am totally against fitness, Not at all!  I walk 30-60 minutes per day (and anyone who has walked with me knows I do not leisurely stroll). Family walks are a great unwinding, refocusing and reconnecting time.  We make sure our children are involved in athletic activities, (the trampoline doesn’t go down until there is a really good snowfall), we eat sensibly, we practice what I like to call common sense fitness….the things we should be doing, the obvious.  We don’t want our children to become obsessed with appearance, and the methodology to achieve it….we want to instill, do what you love, and love what you, both personally and professionally.

Fitness, to whatever level you are comfortable with is a personal choice, and never should one be made to feel inferior because of their choices, or that they should be working harder.  “What is your excuse?”…..there are people out there with legitimate reasons for not working out at mach chicken.  I, myself, can not run.  My knees and ankles are terribly broken from too many years of the hard work out when I was a child, I am not a big fan of weights, but that is my personal choice.  Medical issues, personal choices, they are our bodies….never should we be made to rationalize our choices to anyone, or be made to feel of them as excuses.

This poster, by asking “what is your excuse?”, is saying, in my opinion, if you don’t look like this, you have failed….you must try harder to obtain what is seen in a photo.  Advertisers are constantly coming under attack for the message their ads promote, should this standard not be static for everything?  Or is this ok because it is a fit mum with her kids?   There are people out there who work religiously, yet if confronted by this women, would probably be asked, “what is your excuse?” What we as a society must understand, is that all the fitness and nutrition regimes in the world can not undo DNA….yes that funny little genetic code that makes us who we are.  Now the common sense approach, or whichever approach you choose most assuredly helps in your overall appearance, but you can’t change DNA…..it has a blueprint for you, and this is something that we must learn to accept.  My son is long and lean, my daughter shorter (although she has started her growth spurt) is compact and muscular….DNA at it’s best folks!

I previously mentioned the word “appearance.”  Unfortunately, we as a society still do not show a lot of understanding if you do not fit societies perceived acceptable appearance, and unfortunately appearance still tops the list ahead of some more key human attributes.   We are all not supermodel tall, fitness expert “cut”, long haired, dark haired…..the list goes on and on.  We are who we are.  Many people are comfortable in their skin, just the way it is.  There are healthy individuals whose answer to the “excuse” is because “I love me just the way I am.”  I think this is what we must focus on, is loving ourselves, not trying to live up to a picture;  to be the best people we can be, mentally and physically,  and not feel pressured to live up to what society’s ideal is, for in the end, it is that which will bring us happiness.

Up until this point I was merely agitated over the photo, but after reading her story, and partially why she posted the photo, my anger erupted.  She had mentioned that she had bulimia, I will end that sentence right there.  I applaud her for overcoming her eating disorder, not an easy thing to do, but that is where it ends.  One need only ask “why” was she was a bulimic?, and the answer to my anger may be clear.  Could this perhaps be because she thought she was too fat, that she didn’t measure up to societies standards, that the girls in the pictures were more beautiful….if only I was thinner.  She has posted a photo, that can now be the motivation for a new generation of bulimics and anorexics (remember this disease has no rationality), because there is “no excuse.”

I understand that people want to be healthier, to live longer, and these are both perfectly rational things, but I will quote a very insightful Doctor whom I spoke with just before my mum’s death.  I had asked him if the end was near, he replied, “Karen, if it wasn’t for the cancer, your mother is in perfect health.”  The look on my face must have prompted his next response, “You can treat your body like a BMW, but when it’s your time, it’s your time, and no one can ever tell us when that is.” Perhaps this is why we look at life in a common sense fitness way (the Patrick KISS fitness regime)……every precaution can not protect us from everything, nor can it even come close.

I have read the many, many comments this photo has produced…and the one thing that is clear to me, is it shows the enormous divide in society of what a strong, healthy woman is.  The insults back and forth are staggering, it is not empowering women in my opinion….it is deepening the chasm between us, and bringing out the perverts in the process.   Empowerment, is supporting, lifting up of our fellow man, encouragement, understanding, and the realization we are all different, and it’s the differences that makes each and every individual unique and wonderful.  Empowerment, is not an poster, empowerment is not asking “what is your excuse?”  Empowerment is love and acceptance.

Embrace yourself...I am 43, I have had 2 children both by c-sections, I don't have pretty hair, I don't wear make up...I am not perfect, but I like me, and the skin I am in, and that is my "excuse"......I like my sock slippers too!!!  :)

Embrace yourself...I am 43, I have had 2 children both by c-sections, I don’t have pretty hair, I don’t wear make up…I am not perfect, not even close,  but I like me, and the skin I am in, and that is my statement, no excuses required……I like my sock slippers too!!! 🙂

Auschwitz/Birkenau

I am not even sure, that I am 100% ready to write anything about this experience, but I thought I may begin and see where it takes me.

For a long time, I have been a holocaust buff….I have read numerous accounts from all sides regarding this terrible moment of history, I have wanted to walk on the ground of Auschwitz, to experience it first hand;  I felt I was prepared to do this for I had “educated” myself on the topic, I needed to see it.

From the moment we stepped off the bus, I knew nothing I had read or watched had prepared me for this trip.  I looked past the thousands of tourists gathered to view one of the most infamous death camps in history, I looked into the barbed wire, closed my eyes and took myself back in time, trying to get a sense of what this camp actually was.

For those who are visiting Auschwitz, it looks rather insignificant.  It was previously a Polish army barracks, and appears very much so, but appearances are deceiving.  Step inside past the “ARBEIT MACHT FREI” arches, step into a barrack, listen to the stories, see first hand the human hair, prosthetics, glasses, suitcases of the many who entered, but never left;   view the execution wall, enter the gas chamber and crematorium, you will never be the same.

I stood in the gas chamber, and started to cry…..I thought of the millions of people executed because of what?  Education, religion, nationality…..what?  why?…..I imagined the fear and despair of individuals who knew they were about to die for no other reason than some of those listed above.  I felt anger at long deceased cowards, who presumed it was there job to create the “pure” race…..my heart ached for those who became victims of this kind of hatred.  I continued walking, tears streaming down my face, to a barb wired fence.  I put my hands against it and stared out.  I imagined the fear and confusion of the people trapped in this hell, husbands and wives torn apart, babies ripped out of mothers arms.  I tried to comprehend what someone working at this camp could have been thinking.  These questions haunt me, as do the ghosts of this camp, for there seems to be no definitive answer.

From Auschwitz, we continued to Birkenau.  As I earlier stated, Auschwitz, from outside appearances could be construed as pleasant.  When entering the rounded gate at Birkenau, you could sense what this was….a death camp, plain and simple.  The grounds are enormous with what is left of women’s shacks on the left, and men’s on the right;  the infamous rail line runs down the middle of the camp.

We walked through in complete silence.  We stared at the bombed remains of the gas chamber and crematorium number 3, we toured through a women’s barracks, we viewed the toilet facilities…there was a not a dry eye amongst the four of us.  While walking back up the tracks to the main gate, a train went by in the distance;  it was at this point the hair on my neck stood up, the enormity of what I was seeing and experiencing was too much, and I felt almost relieved that our visit was almost over.

Outside the gate, I stood in silence and prayed.  I prayed that nothing like this ever happen again, I prayed for the 6 million people lost, I prayed for their families that survived, I prayed that no one ever forget, I prayed and prayed and prayed.  I didn’t care what people thought of my appearance or behaviour……it was the one time in my life that I prayed for all of humanity;  for with the intolerance and single minded thinking still persuasive in this world atrocities like this can occur again.  I prayed for a world acceptance, one of peace….I continued to pray, I didn’t know what else to do.

I am still struggling with what I saw and experienced…..maybe I will never fully understand the “why”, maybe it is not my place to.  Perhaps it is my job to pass on the emotion and feeling.  Perhaps it is my job in a small way to say “never again.”

Living life honestly

I am about at my wit’s end with the lack of sincerity, empathy and willingness of people to disparage others.  I have decided to compile a list of “Living life honestly” to put on my fridge, to remind me, when I am feeling angry or hurt (which go hand in hand by the way, for me) of what to do.

1.  If I have not heard something directly from an individual, it is NOT a fact….it is speculation.  Do not react, people stir the pot for reaction.

2.  There are two sides to every story, if we have only heard one, the story is not a story, it is a work in progress, perhaps even fictional.  Make sure to get both sides, then and only then decide what it real and what is fiction.

3.  Just because people have a realistic outlook on life, does not make them negative…..it makes them real.  I was a cheerleader in high school, my rah rah sis boom bah days are long behind me, and that is ok.

4.  No one ever travels the same path.  I am not a big fan of “walking in one’s shoes.”….we all have our fights….we should understand that, and respect that.  It is not a competition, over who has it worse, it is how we come through it that inspires.

5.  Cliques, how shall I put this politely, suck!!  They were terrible in high school, and when they continue into adulthood, it only goes to prove that some people never grow up.  There are people we are drawn to because of common interests, but there is a world of people, who can teach us so much about life and ourselves.  Take a walk outside our backyards, it is amazing what we will find!

6.  Always be willing to say “I am sorry.”  No one is perfect, we all make mistakes, part of being an adult, is the ability to admit to your mistakes, and say the words…..it may be hard, but so worth it.

7.  Not everyone’s priorities are the same.  I am old, so what makes me tick, doesn’t resonate with younger people….that’s ok….they will be old one day too.

8.  There will be people who believe anything they hear, and are more than willing to pass on this information….stay clear.

9.  Always try and be kind…..sometimes it is hard, do it anyway!!!  Don’t disparage others to make yourself look better…..you don’t, and never will.

10.  There is no such thing as karma…..don’t wish bad things on people, just live our lives honestly and with love.  Taking time out of our lives to focus on bad for others, just robs us of our own happiness.

11.  When there is a problem, communicate, communicate and communicate some more.

12.  We are all doing the best we can….love your “best”

…..and finally!!

Like mum always said, “If you can’t say anything nice……shut it!”  🙂