There’s a pill for that.

I do not in any way claim to know all the ins and outs and sideways views of depression. However, I have known several people over the years who also did not know they were at least clinically despressed, so I think that the playing field is sufficiently evened out for me to say what I’m about to say.

There have been several losses of good people this past year, as there are every year. Death is a well-known fact of life, no matter how much we attempt to preserve our youth. One of the ways some people attempt to preserve their youth is to maintain an energetic, youthful persona, while others sometimes go in search of more permanent, more surgical methods. My point is this: it’s perfectly all right to have a bad day. It’s perfectly all right to have things in your life which upset you and cause you either physical or emotional pain. These also are facts of life, but in recent years have become far less well-known. My personal belief is that coping skills are becoming the least known of all the Facts of Life.

We pad our kids’ playgrounds, as an example, and sometimes their clothing to keep them from physical harm, and yet, growing up, skinning my knee once taught me not only that what I had foolishly attempted was not well-calculated, and it made me second-guess my next foolish undertaking in order to avoid other skinned body parts. On the flipside, I was taught the kindness of my parents in their treatment of that skinned knee and in the process, I learned empathy from their example. Not such a bad bargain, all things considered.

But if we continue to protect our children from what’s out there, they will eventually grow up into adults at least in the physical sense, but their coping skills for life’s hiccups and u-turns will be greatly retarded if not altogether non-existent. I see “adults” now who cannot cope with, for instance, the coffee machine being out of order for a day, and they waste the rest of their day from that tiny little upset that morning going around complaining to anyone who’ll sympathise that they were deprived of their daily jolt of caffeine. This breeds problems down the road on an exponential level. If a malfunctioning appliance is all it takes to stop your processes for that day, what will you do when you get blindsided by something more severe on some idle Tuesday? You’ll reach for something, but maybe not what you really need. Ironically, the anti-depressants many reach for will, in fact, cause further depression and suicidal thoughts, among some other unpleasant side effects like cancer and heart stoppages, along with restriction of airways. Either way, you’re going down the rabbit hole.

Many of these adults reach for pills like anti-depressants and what can only be described as snake oil nerve tonics, rather than get right to the heart of the matter and deal with their issue at hand, on their own and without any pharmaceutical assistance whatsoever. Certainly, no one enjoys dealing with the unpleasant aspects of life, but these are still aspects of life and by dealing with them head-on, and not shying away into bottles of pills or booze, we can learn and grow from those experiences, painful though they may be, and our future decisions can be based on what was learned and gained through not only the upsetting experience, but also from the process it took to get past and hopefully resolve the problem, thereby ensuring that we are better equipped for the next round of obstacles life brings.

’cause you know what? Life is full of obstacles. Shocking, I know.

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5 Ways to Cultivate Peace at Your Desk | The Chopra Center

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My own meandering experience.

Dear Readers, those of you who are still with me, I sincerely regret my absence from my own blog of late. I have no explanation other than Life sometimes gets in the way of what you really want to do and so now, after re-reading some posts of other bloggers’, I realize that I, too, must jump back in the fray if I am to do what I really want to do and that is, simply, to write.

On the other hand, the time I have been away has allowed me to make several observations as well as to learn a few things along the way. The following is a potpourri of sorts of these revelations which seem obvious when written down, but were quite eye-opening when they first occurred to me:

Finding Joy and, more importantly, allowing Joy to find You:

I don’t keep a large circle of friends and I will openly admit that I frequently assess and evaluate the need for certain people in my life. Occasionally, these needs fall short and I am forced, for want of a better term, to trim the fat. This isn’t done out of hate for the person I’ve cut adrift, but more for the sake of my own soul. I am tenaciously and sometimes terrifyingly protective of those that I love, including my own soul. If there is someone in my life who no longer promotes a positive element in my life, then my soul is not being nurtured in the way that it must and so, sometimes regrettably, sometimes with great difficulty, a person has to leave. This is obviously a bittersweet process, but a necessary one just the same. The upside is that having made some room in my life, I have opened the door to other people whom I might never have met, and who have filled those holes in my life with their positivity and creativity and lovely souls. I hope I do the same for them.

Value what you have and stop yearning for what you don’t:

We all occasionally fall prey to the Quest for the Material. This could be items such as new furniture, a new TV, a new car, a new outfit, a new Whatever. We all need Things from time to time, but sometimes that quest to obtain becomes all too engrossing. A recent death in our family, of a not-so-close relative, has allowed me to observe that a person can spend their entire lives accumulating but have very little of true value. This person was for all intents and purposes a recluse. This rendered him a decease hoarder with a bunch of people who rarely gave him the time of day during his lifetime now attempting to, well, hoard his hoard. Again, it is not in tribute of the man or his life or his contribution to their family or society in general that they want his stuff. It is simply that they want his stuff. I pray this is not the legacy I leave when I leave this life.

Accept the faults in others as they evidently accept the faults in you:

There are none of us perfect, and far too few of us try. And this is all right. Harkening back to my first revelation above, keep those who nurture your soul with you, warts and all. While they may not be perfect, they do make a positive contribution to your life and clearly mean well. I butt heads occasionally with those closest to me, but they have a permanent place within the House of Lisa. I just hope I don’t screw it up.

Like Minds:

There are those who say opposites attract. Sometimes they do. My own experience has been, however, that like minds open up your mind and soul to things beyond your own reckoning because they give you a starting point, and then open the door to things you may not have considered yourself. Again, try to do the same in return for those lovely souls who share so much in common with your own, for these people are few and far between. Over the past few months, I have met two people in particular who share such similar interests as I, but the collaboration of ideas and creativity which flows through each of us has grown exponentially as a result.

Take note of where you’ve been, to know where you’re going:

My trip to Scotland last year left me with one thing: the visceral need to return. During my first visit, I learned so much about myself simply by observing the people who live in the place from whence my family came, as well as learning about the people who have lived there over the past several hundred years. I saw similar physical characteristics, personality traits and most importantly to me, similar glints in their eyes as we both looked at the same things and had the same reactions to what we saw. We all take this for granted, particularly if we have lived in the same place all our lives. I have had the benefit of living in many different places across North America and I can tell you firsthand that not all senses of humour, for example, are created equal. This is easily explained since certain regions are made up of certain ethnic groups which share a common thread of thinking and perceptions. But what if you’re the outsider looking in? How do you fit in? Can you ever truly fit in? Not being much of a “joiner” myself, I prefer to observe these conditions before making my move, as it were, and so I have learned through this process that there are places where I am meant to belong, and places I am meant to not. I am not personally affronted by this, but it was heartening to be in two places on this planet where I evidently fit in so seamlessly and that is a true comfort I value beyond the measure of any material good which might take its place.

I’ll leave you with these thoughts for now, but I will undoubtedly share similar observations with you in the future. Thanks for stopping by, and feel free to leave your comments and observations of your own. Slainte mhath!

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The Love of Thousands.

In August and September of 2013, I was able to see to fruition a dream which was planted in my head as far back as 1985 when my Uncle D and I used to daydream about one day travelling to Scotland together thinking that we might be able to finish a family tree which traced our family’s roots back to its beginnings in Newfoundland. We had hoped, you see, of one day being able to trace our family back to its Scottish origins and through its travels to Ireland and other places to connect it with the history we knew in Newfoundland.

The question always asked of genealogists, even those who do it as a hobby, is WHY? In today’s society, we tend to be more focused on the here and now and only recent past, but always looking forward to the future. But, as any good genealogist or philosopher will tell you, in order to know where you’re going, you must first know where you’ve been. Or, in this case, where your family has been. You see, you are not just you. You are the culmination of all the steps your forebears have made as every one of their steps and the steps of those before them, have led you to this moment right here and now.

So, with that mindset, I travelled with my husband to Scotland for the first time last summer. My Uncle D, though not with me in corporeal form, was definitely with me in spirit and I kept him in mind, particularly when we arrived in Dumfries where I had left a small stone procured from the beach near his home in Newfoundland, symbolic of just a little part of him that had made it there, and will remain hopefully for time immemorial. For, you see, without his musings and his enthusiasm, it likely never would have occurred to me to go at all, and without his footsteps – proverbial or otherwise – in which to follow, the gift of that trip and all the beauty and joy I experienced as a result, would never have happened. And so, I must firstly thank my Uncle D wherever he might be, for this immeasurable gift.

Travelling, to me, has always been a double-edged sword. There is the excitement of the upcoming adventure and insatiable curiosity at what lies ahead. At the same time, leaving my home for extended periods of time has always been a great source of anxiety for me as my Virgoan nature tends to want to take over and imagine all sorts of horrible things happening in my absence. For the most part, my logic takes over and calms everything down by simply pointing out that I cannot be in two places at once and I must choose one over the other.

So, that in mind, we set off. Arriving in Glasgow Airport expecting some sprawling structure, we were pleasantly surprised at the smaller nature of their airport and the expedient way in which we were processed for entry. We simply answered the usual questions at customs and were sent on our merry way to locate a cab to our first hotel, which was deep in the centre of Glasgow. To say that we felt as if we had stepped back in time a bit is to put it mildly. The taxi driver must have pegged us off as a couple of rubes as we stared gape mouthed at all the wonderful old buildings and structures as we travelled toward the heart of the city toward our hotel, pointing out nearly everything along the way and being so gobsmacked as to forget that we even brought a camera.

A few days there, and then a train ride to Edinburgh. The train ride was equally entertaining in that it gave us our first glimpse into the Scottish countryside, if only for an hour.

Edinburgh, like Glasgow, is a lovely city with so much history one cannot possibly take it all in during one short 4-day visit. One of the highlights was visiting the Scottish National Gallery and sitting in the same room as Rodin’s sculpture, “The Kiss,” which was on display there during our visit. I had to fight back tears as I stood in the presence of this beautiful treasure with only a few inches and a velvet rope separating me from it. The rest of the Gallery was equally amazing with its priceless works of art from all over the world, and an entire wing dedicated to Scottish artists.

"The Kiss," by Auguste Rodin

“The Kiss,” by Auguste Rodin

After being in the cities, it was a lovely break to get away into the Highlands. There is no way to adequately describe the rugged beauty of the Scottish landscape. Suffice it to say, none of your senses will come up wanting. Castle ruins compel you to come close, as if being called by some distant and unknown voice. I was helpless not to heed their call. One such castle was Urqhart Castle on the banks of Loch Ness. To be on the storied banks of Loch Ness was a rare treat in itself, let alone inside a castle which Robert the Bruce himself defended hundreds of years ago. Placing my hand on the wall of such a legendary place, closing my eyes, I was almost able to imagine the people who must have worked tirelessly to carve each stone of its walls, who lived inside and on the surrounding hillsides, wondering what their lives must have been like all those many years ago.

A lone piper greeting visitors to Urqhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland.

A lone piper greeting visitors to Urqhart Castle, Loch Ness, Scotland.

I had similar experiences to these during our entire trip there, and our trip finally ended in the town in which my own family’s story began so many centuries ago. Dumfries. Except through a glitch with our travel agency, the first night we were to stay in Dumfries, we ended up staying in Dumfriesshire. Realizing that it was 70 miles away from where we were intended to be left me somewhat in a panic. To have travelled all that way, with my stone from Uncle D’s beach in tow! The thought of not being able to fulfill my purpose! My mood was desolate to say the least, and in that state of mind, I am useless to all. However, my quick-thinking husband came up with a solution and so we stayed the first night in Dumfriesshire, but while there arranged a hotel to spend our remaining nights back in Dumfries.

And so, the first night there, my husband and I took a stroll to the River Nith and with me I carried not only myself and all my dreams and curiosity, but also my legacy…and the small stone I obtained from Newfoundland on behalf of my late Uncle D who never got to take that path with me, but who will always be with me and always, at least in some small way, in Dumfries, Scotland, where each of our paths began fulfilling not only my promise, but in some small way, my destiny as well.

The River Nith, Dumfries, Scotland.

The River Nith, Dumfries, Scotland.

You are the result of the love of thousands.

You are the result of the love of thousands.

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Frankie & Sera’s MakeUp Free Online Gig!

As a follow-up to my own post regarding the #JustBe campaign as fronted by @UnsungLilly, I would like to share their post featuring some very lovely ladies in their #nomakeupselfies.

The Unsung Lilly Blog


Wow what a few weeks we have had! Its been so exciting to see our #JustBeCampaign growing. We’ve had all sorts of amazing responses from you all, so thank you 🙂 We still have a huge way to go before we raise the money (and only 19 days left eeeek!) so get your contributions in now! ( if you didnt know!)

One thing thats been A-MAAAA-ZING has been that some very lovely ladies from Canada have been helping us promote the campaign by encouraging everyone they know to post us ‘make-up free’ selfies!! It been so inspiring and not just their friends but lots more people have caught on (we’ve been posting as many as we can on our facebook page and twitter!).

So…we thought… what can we do to take this to the next level? We’ve decided to put on a Make-Up Free online gig, tomorrow night (Wednesday)…

View original post 115 more words

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As you likely have also noticed, there has been much media and discussion focusing on issues of self-esteem, body image, and all manner of topics along that vein. I have been finding much of it has a negative undertone in that they focus on the problems and issues that result from one having poor self-esteem and a lack of self-worth. Much along the same lines as “evil begets evil,” I have found that focusing on the negative aspects of these issues has a counter-productive effect and results simply in more negativity. People become more focused, instead of less, on what’s wrong with them and go into a kind of manic panic toward self-improvement which may seem positive on the surface, but in fact has some very ugly and negative emotions and motivating factors underlying their efforts.

Recently I had the opportunity to take part in a project with two very dear friends of mine which involved us having an open and earnest discussion on the topic of what, exactly, is beauty. It came about one day as my friend S and I were chatting as we quite often do about our own struggles with beauty and self-acceptance. As our discussions normally go, it became quite long and drawn out and evolved ever further. So, as S had been struggling somewhat with finding things that she found beautiful about herself, I decided to help by listing the things which I found beautiful about her. At first, the list started with physical characteristics. She has, for instance, the most irritatingly and perfectly dimensioned nose. But, the list quickly grew to other things which are far less tangible but which are still uniquely her own. Her ability, for instance, to see the humour in her daily battle with MS.
And so, S continued with her research and that’s how we became involved with @UnsungLilly and their #JustBe Campaign. The question then was “how” to participate. @UnsungLilly explained that they were creating a campaign to promote self-acceptance among the masses, be they young or old, male or female, from every walk of life. We then recruited our friend T to join us and one night we all got together and started video-recording our thoughts and discussions on what we believed defined “beauty” and “self-acceptance.”

Through this exercise, we each had our own revelations. I will share only my own as S and T have their own blogs and will, if not already, be sharing those insights in their own inimitable ways. For myself, I can say simply that the simple exercise of discussing this with two friends, through the vessel of @UnsungLilly and the #JustBe Campaign, has altered my own take on my personal definitions of beauty and self-acceptance and I can honestly say that I am deeply affected and forever changed for the better.

Like most people, there are things about my physical self which I always saw as negatives. After bouncing these things off a few close friends like S and T, I can see now that those negatives are not negatives at all, but the things that define me as an individual. My ethnic background is primarily Scottish and Inuit. I have, therefore, a very large and sturdy body which in the past caused me dismay as it does not fit the “normal” size charts and clothing and thus, I automatically turned this into a negative as I had been convinced by society and media that if you did not conform then you were somehow less than perfect. But now, I finally realize as I approach my 44th year, my body has not once broken a bone larger than a toe, despite the best efforts of my childhood adventures. I have never suffered a major illness, either. I have by all accounts a rather wicked sense of humour and a very large laugh which comes from somewhere very deep. While I tend not to dwell on any of these attributes in any way, I have been told that they make me unique and attractive and so rather than feeling that I should tone down my laugh, or reserve my humour, I now simply embrace them for the things they are and don’t wish to change them in any way. There’s not another one like me, and I’m fine with that. So, I have resolved to simply… #JustBe.

To learn more about the #JustBe Campaign, check out @UnsungLilly on Twitter and elsewhere. Their first video (in which I am honoured to be a part) can also be viewed at

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Reassuring Insurance.



Late last November, I was involved in a collision. While neither I nor the other driver were seriously hurt, our vehicles didn’t fare quite so well. I drive a 1989 Can Opener, while the other driver (who failed to look before leaping into my lane, resulting in the collision) was driving a 2009 commercial full-size van. Upon exiting each of our vehicles to inspect the damage, the results were somewhat surprising, or not, depending on your point of view.

Insurance companies and car manufacturers will spend hours attempting to fill your heads with data (from mostly unnamed or obscure sources) that newer vehicles are the way to go. That they’re safer, more efficient and more economical. I beg to differ on a number of different levels.

I have a number of different passions but close to the top of Lisa’s List of Loves, are recycling and my 1989 Can Opener. OK, it’s a Ford Bronco, but you get my meaning. When the other driver collided so rudely with my front passenger fender, my fender was pushed in slightly between the passenger door and fender. While aggravating enough, the damage was not in any way debilitating and I was able to safely and normally drive away to the nearest police station (in an attempt) to file my side of the collision report. Even my signal lights were still intact and working as I changed lanes to do so. The other driver was forced to stay behind because his NEWER, SAFER, and MORE EFFICIENT vehicle’s front driver’s side wheel popped clean off and was laying on its side on the pavement. In addition, part of his plastic bumper and mirror assembly had unsurprisingly cracked and were shattering into tinier pieces as each passing motorist sped by that morning.

So, thus began the process of filing the claim with my insurance company, the filing of police reports, and all the fun all of that entails.

My husband and I maintain each of our vehicles (we have a bit of a collection) in as fine working order as possible, likely better than most other people would considering the vintage of our collection. While it’s true that a lot of people aren’t as diligent or enthusiastic as we are in that respect, I would certainly also not suggest that people don’t take regular care and maintenance of their vehicles either. After all, they, too, must rely on their vehicles to safely transport them and their families in their daily travels. What I’m getting at here is that presumably the commercial vehicle sees regular maintenance as it was part of a fleet of similar vehicles which, in order to serve the company’s customers, must be kept in reasonable working condition to ensure timely deliveries of service to its customers. And so, one must wonder just how long that employee was driving around in that vehicle when its wheel(s) presumably could have popped off at any time just in its normal rounds around our city.

When it came time to obtain an estimate of repair from my insurance company’s “preferred” collision shop, it became almost immediately clear that this process was simply a formality. The repair estimator took one look at my truck, asked me the age and nearly as immediately advised that it was “unlikely” they would be authorised to fix it. This was later confirmed by the insurance adjuster advising that it was simply “too old” a vehicle to “waste the money on.” As I glanced around the parking lot which contained a number of other, NEWER, vehicles awaiting repair, I could not help but wonder what wisdom there was in fixing a NEWER Honda Accord which was so badly damaged that the impact of the collision evidently pushed the motor into the passenger seat of the vehicle. It also did not escape my notice that if the impact had pushed the motor into the passenger area, that the driver must also have sustained severe injuries, or worse. I asked if that vehicle was slated for repairs and was told that yes, in fact, it was.

So, let me get this straight: the insurance company was unwilling to fix my fender which, in reality, likely would have cost no more than $1,000.00 in repairs between pulling out the dent and repainting, but was willing to spend tens of thousands in repairs on a new Honda Accord which was undoubtedly rendered unsafe from frame and body damage, and additional countless of thousands of dollars in insurance coverage on the driver who is likely still recovering from their injuries. O. K.

In the end, and after several persuasive arguments on my part, the insurance company very reluctantly agreed to not only pay me for the loss of my vehicle (a measly $1,500.00 CAD) and waive the $300.00 deductible, as well as let me keep the vehicle in my possession even though they said they were obligated to declare it as ‘salvage’ (meaning it could not be re-registered until it was re-certified roadworthy by the provincial body which governs these things).

In essence, while I have received financial compensation on one end of this transaction, I am effectively being punished for keeping my vehicle out of the landfill by dint of the fact that I must incur further costs in repair and recertification of the vehicle in order to return it safely to the road. While I agree with the wisdom of recertification, in this particular instance, I do not agree it was wholly necessary given the information I have supplied you with above. While everyone is preaching that we should have clean, efficient, vehicles on the road, they are at the same time so quick to write them off and declare them unusable and thus relegating these vehicles to landfills rather than encourage that they be repaired and REUSED. On one side of the coin we all agree that we should save the planet. On the other side, let’s keep filling those landfills and keep creating replacement vehicles instead of re-using the ones we have, thus resulting in further greenhouse emissions from car manufacturing plants, killing our planet quicker than we can replace the cars being written off.

The other issue which confounds me is why, if I were anyone else, I should be forced to buy a new vehicle and incur the added expenses of car loans, additional insurance coverage (required by lenders for new car loans), etc. when I could just as easily repair my still-working and still-roadworthy vehicle. My vehicle, while older, is not as inefficient as you might think. Again, this is thanks to the hard work and maintenance by my conscientious and talented husband. We did, in fact, have a new vehicle once for a few years. Adding insult to the injury of several hundred dollars a month being gleaned from our bank account, that “new” vehicle was in for warranty work every second weekend and in return for our Jeep TJ, we were handed the keys to a Dodge Neon as a loaner till the warranty work was completed. Again…explain to me where the newer vehicles are more efficient and safer and just plain better all around?

Here’s the thing: I don’t need or want a “pretty” vehicle. I don’t need a lot of bells and whistles like seat warmers, GPS navigation systems (anyone ever hear of a map?) or Blu Tooth handsfree telephoning capability. What I need is value for my money. What I like is power. I also like the knowledge that my vehicle is paid for in full with no hovering loans earning interest at a rate higher than my mortgage, while all the while the value of such vehicle is depreciating faster than I can make payments. This system does NOT work, People!

Instead encourage me and my ilk to responsibly maintain my vehicle, to be conscientious enough to ensure that vehicle – whatever it may be, regardless of how pretty it may be deemed – runs as efficiently as possible and, most importantly, that it stays out of the landfills as long as possible. I am not naive enough to believe that vehicles returned as write-offs get fully recycled. I see evidence of this each time I visit an auto parts graveyard with my husband as we search for replacement parts of our own vehicles. Aside from their hulking metal forms taking up space, I see much newer vehicles in there leaking antifreeze, oil and fuel into the land set aside for such institutions, which land is usually situated to a rather nice parcel of farmland, sometimes with a lovely body of water running through it.

So, once again, I am asking you, Insurance Companies, to explain your logic because it completely escapes this wholly rational mind.

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Where have you been?

I don’t often pay attention to the news for the very reasons that the Rob Ford (Mayor of Toronto) scandal has demonstrated. It is often sensationalistic, focusing only on the most ratings worthy “facts,” you get one side of the story and that side may not be based in fact but merely on rumour and conjecture, and it points out things to us which should be readily obvious.

What, you’re all surprised to find out that a politician is corrupt? And a liar, and a roguish, cheating scalawag?

The question you must ask yourselves is not why Rob Ford did what he did, or how he got away with it so long, but rather, where have YOU been all this time? This isn’t the first scandalous thing any politician (or even Rob Ford himself) has done. It will NOT be the last. No, instead you must ask yourselves why YOU continue to be surprised. Why YOU keep electing people like this into office. Why YOU never do background checks on the people you are effectively hiring to work for you (as most employers would do with their new hires). And why YOU never hold those people accountable to the fullest extent of the law and governing legislation. Essentially, why YOU don’t fire their asses.

Accountability is two-fold. As much as Rob Ford must answer for his mistakes, we and others like us in Toronto must also answer for electing him into office, and allowing him to stay. After all, according to the journalists and reporters telling the story, we are all incensed and outraged at Ford’s conduct. Much the same as the people who elected the last four mayors into office in Montreal, the last two of which have had to resign under allegations of corruption. So why is he still in office?

It’s because of YOU.

When Rob Ford denied ever smoking crack (along with the other reprehensible things he’s done which have been documented as far back as 1987 or so), despite the overwhelming evidence against him, people believed him and took him at his word. When he recently admitted that he did, in fact, smoke crack while in a “drunken stupor,” his approval rating shot through the roof.

While I am a firm believer in maintaining that, in all fairness, we must remember that our politicians are subject to the same frailties as ourselves, what then, does it say about each of us not striving to avoid making the same mistakes when we continue to enable a person who is clearly incapable of making sound, rational decisions? Furthermore, he will likely get re-elected as Mayor of Toronto and people will base this on his “honesty” and “candidness” about his demons.

As with Bill Clinton’s ignominious affair with Monica Lewinsky, I care little for Rob Ford’s demons. I care only that they don’t impact his ability to do the job for which he has been elected and entrusted. However, crack being what it is, it is obvious that it will hamper his judgment not only as it relates to his job, but obviously his decision-making skills in all facets of his life. Rather than judge Rob Ford and tut-tut him for being a reprobate, and then piously forgive him for being “human,” we need to look at our own standards of what qualifies a person to do a particular job, and to what standards we will hold them. We should also, and perhaps more importantly consider to what standards we should hold ourselves were it us doing the same job. Perhaps then we might end up with more honest and forthcoming politicians. But I doubt it. Human nature is a fickle thing, after all.

I do not own the rights to this picture.  Copyright unknown.

I do not own the rights to this picture. Copyright unknown.

UPDATE December 4, 2013: See what I mean?

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Teach a man to fish…

The following quote recently surfaced in a donation drive leaflet circulated to the tenants of the building in which I work:

“*Please note that unfortunately CHARITY X is unable to accept handmade items. Instead, preferred items are those which are designed for winter sports since they offer the best protection from the cold.”

While I wholeheartedly agree that homelessness is a serious, ongoing and growing problem, particularly in urban areas, and that we need to come up with ideas and solutions on how to deal with this problem, I take exception to charities limiting their donations to items which they imply should be new, with tags, and of superior quality.

I resent seeing homeless people who appear at least physically capable of working, if not mentally, in clothing I cannot justify buying for myself and my family with both earners working full-time.  I resent the implication that the homeless should not have to accept second-hand goods.  I further resent having my gently used, second-hand goods turned down because they’re simply not good enough for the homeless.

Perhaps in addition to treating the obvious mental illness of the homeless themselves, we could also treat the people treating the homeless for this disease.  Perhaps in their altruistic but still misguided attempts to treat the homeless as equals, they have created a monster.  I see dozens of people knitting blankets, scarves, toques and other handmade items in support of various charities.  These items are either sent directly to the charity or they are sold in craft sales which raise much needed funds for the charities in question.  Perhaps the first step, then, in treating the “disease” of homelessness is to teach some humility and gratitude which might awaken parts of those souls into acknowledging how fortunate they are to have others in the world who are willing to set aside not only their talents but their time toward them and their comfort.

In other words, a hand out is not the same as a hand up and if we’re not helping the homeless get a hand up, then what are we doing?  As well, I cannot imagine living in fear of frostbite and turning down a handmade set of mittens or toque, can you?


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Facebook is not your friend.

It's not a competition.

It’s not a competition.

Recently I upgraded my phone to a newer, splashier model which imported a bunch of Facebook contacts to what I thought was my phone’s contact list. Turns out this wasn’t the case and by moving some of those contacts to the phone’s contact library, some of the Facebook contacts were deleted. It happens. No big deal. Or so I thought.

Apparently, some people get personally affronted when they’re deleted from Facebook, intentionally or, as in my case, otherwise.

Let’s get something straight: I don’t for a minute believe anyone has, let’s pick a number out of the air here, 783 friends. What I believe is that your truest friends wouldn’t care if you were on Facebook at all since they’d prefer your company with them be spent in a more novel, face-to-face encounter during which you could actually connect, share ideas, a few laughs, and in the process become better friends.

This collection of “friends” on Facebook is akin to the silly games you can play on Facebook where the highest number of coins, or “friends,” wins. The trouble is, it’s not a competition. Nor should friends be perceived as something worthy only of accumulation as one would accumulate a collection of porcelain pigs or vintage bottlecaps.

Typically, I have bucked this trend where the friends I have on Facebook are actually those I can speak to in real, live situations and people with whom I have a close family or friendship connection. In fact, more than half the people I know aren’t even members of Facebook and we meet and connect only in these alternative manners. It’s a radical concept, I know. I mean, I get to have lunches with them, meet up with them for dinner and drinks, and some of us also get to chat – dare I say it – over the telephone where we can enjoy hearing the other`s voice. In other words, we make time for each other because we matter to each other. And it doesn’t matter to them that they’re not on my Facebook friend list because they know I don’t equate them as simply something meaningless to thoughtlessly accumulate.

Facebook is a playground, or rather, RECESS, for people who might otherwise be adults. It is entertainment only. It should be regarded as nothing more than that and I would caution anyone who uses it specifically to “connect” with people because by limiting your experience and interactions only to Facebook, you are truly missing out on the best parts of life when you can’t share that laugh with your friend and hear her wonderful laugh, or watch the warmth of joy spread over someone’s face as you tell them in person your good news. By collecting virtual “friends” on Facebook, you are cheating yourselves out of the real win.

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