You can’t go home again….

So our adventure to a more minimalist lifestyle has led us to down-sizing our home. We get possession of said house in October. For now, we are staying with generous family. Actually, we’re house and dog sitting while they’re away in Europe. 😉 I could probably write an entire entry about the joys and challenges of living in someone else’s house, especially family, but I won’t. I want to talk about coming home again.

We’ve bought a home in my husband’s old stomping grounds. Truth be told, I spent a few years in the area as a youth also. Funny thing is, if someone had told me even 2 years ago that I would be moving here and enjoying it, I would have called them a liar. I would’ve laughed in their face. I might even have gotten all defensive about it and told them to mind their own business. And this is why….

Anyone who knows me, knows that I had a fairly challenging youth. My family life was good, but in terms of school and social life, it was hell. I swore up and down, and left and right, backward and forward, diagonally and whatever other way possible, that I would never, ever, ever move back here, where most of those hellish years were spent. Any time I HAD to drive into this part of town, I would look around in disgust and mention how much I hated it. And yet, TA DA!!! Here we are!

I know so many individuals who insist one of two things. 1) You can’t go home again OR 2) Why the eff would you want to! In fact, I know many individuals who would avoid moving into the neighborhood or town/city they grew up in at all costs! And I simply don’t get it. I have to be honest. I’ve learned SOOOO much about myself by having gone back to where I came from. The frustrating thing is, I don’t know how to explain it. But I can say this, doing so really taught me that a place really is what you make it. I use to argue against that ALL the time.

Now, I’m not saying that any place in the world can be made a happy place in its entirety. That’s just silly. But the world seriously changes as you get older. YOU and the world seriously change as you get older. The things that I hated about this place 15 years ago, no longer exist. Because the truth is, what I really hated at that time, and still look back on ashamedly, is myself.

Hate is a strong word, I know. And I don’t really believe I ever truly “hated” myself. I’m simply using that term to describe how little I loved myself then. I didn’t take care of myself. I didn’t value myself. And until I was ready to do so, I was never going to see what the world, and all that’s in it, truly has to offer….anywhere! But how did going home help?

Well, during those troubled and often horrendous times in my life, I would always place blame elsewhere. I remember truly believing, with every fiber of my being that geography played a HUGE part in my unhappiness. I kept telling myself things like “It’ll get better when I can get the hell outta here” or “If only I lived somewhere where people got me”. To be frank, the grass was always greener somewhere else. I’d convinced myself that I was suffocating wherever I was and had to get out. So I’d move, and things would be fine for a while. Sometimes that while would be months, sometimes it was years. But eventually, it would catch up with me (because it was me that needed changing and not the geography) and I’d be back to square one!

Now, I’m not saying that any individual that refuses to go home, or live back where they grew up, is in a bad place, refusing to face their past and/or has no self-awareness, self-love, self-worth or self-value. I’m only speaking from my own experience. I just can’t express how much I’ve valued the journey of leaving and coming back again, how much it has taught me. It’s taught me so much about things I want to impart on my own children, but I don’t know how. It’s just like how I’m trying to describe it to you, my reader, and I can’t. I guess it’s really something someone has to do and experience for themselves to understand. And even then, your experience will be different from mine. Especially if we were avoiding “home” for different reasons. Maybe if I try and explain a little more….

One of the reasons I never wanted to come back here was because I thought I hated the people. I believed that two types of people lived here. The snobs, unforgiving, judgmental people and the low life losers who had no goals, ambition. drive or joy in  life. Funny thing is, and it’s so obvious now I want to vomit, those type of people are everywhere! I found them in Orleans, Aylmer, Gloucester, South and I’m sure they’re in all other necks and neighborhoods too. The problem was ME! I was only willing to see them that way! I was only cavorting with those types, allowing them in my life. And once you’ve let someone in, it’s not easy to get them out without moving! You get where I’m going with this?

So I guess what’s super important is the people you surround yourself with. And for me, moving home means moving closer to people who make sense to me and who I make sense to. I now live two blocks from my in-laws and 4-5 blocks from my own father and step-mother and I couldn’t be happier about it. What saddens me is how many people, when they find that out, say “OMG! I could never live that close to my parents or in-laws!” That really and truly saddens me. I know I’m lucky in that most of those who are related to me are wonderful, kind, caring and loving people who love celebrating my feats and mourning my losses with me. I know I’m lucky in that they hold common sense and respect for themselves and others. But to ever think, and truly believe, that I HAVE to be far from them? I can’t imagine it! In fact, I do have family who are very far away, and those are one of the losses I mourn. Don’t get me wrong, I see them, but not often enough.

Ok, I think I’ve said my piece now and, I should start dinner. But before I go, let me just say… If you’re one of those who feels the need to be away from your past and/or your family, I beg of you to seriously examine the reason(s). One of them just might be you.

In peace and without judgment,

Beki

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Just some thoughts on Stereotypes!

I listen to a podcast semi-regularly entitled “Stuff Mom Never Told You”. I enjoy the banter between the two lady speakers, and their topics are interesting. I just finished listening to one called How Jealousy Works. I won’t go into the details because if you want to know their thoughts on jealousy, you should listen to it yourself (it’s easy to find on iTunes). However, during their discussion on jealousy, they mentioned a few other stereotypes about women and so on, so it got me very interested…. low and behold, I googled “Top 10 Stereotypes About Women”.

SO MANY URL’s!!!!!  So, I did my reading and then for curiosity’s sake, I googled “Top 10 Stereotypes About Men”. Can you believe only 2 lists came up?

…. and then the rest were about countries, race, horror movies and insane stereotypes! Is it not just stereotypical that there are more lists about the stereotypes women face than men?

First things first, what is a stereotype? Well… a stereotype is a simplified and standardized conception or image invested with special meaning and held in common by members of a group. In my opinion, they suck!

So, rather than list all of the stereotypes I found (because THERE ARE SO MANY), I’m going to list the ones that really irk me the most. That’s right, I said irk!Here are the one’s about professional/successful women – they are:

1. Single and lonely – because a career driven women must sacrifice her personal life for her job

2. Masculine – in order to be powerful, one must be, lead and look like a man

3. Conniving – the only way a woman could get to the top is by conniving or engineering her way there

4. Token – the only way a woman can get to the top (other than conniving her way, of course) is by being a token of diversity for the company or organization

I use to work at a large hospital and had several female bosses and I don’t recall any of these stereotypes popping into my head at any time. I honestly just recall working for them and sizing them up on their choices and interaction with me.
One of my bosses wore pant suits all the time. Did I take that as a mark for masculinity? Nope. I took is professional dress and comfort. Who knows? Perhaps she didn’t like shaving and didn’t want to show off her hairy legs?

My favorite irk-inducing stereotypes of women in general are that they are:

1. Materialistic – I strongly disagree with that because I know many, men that love their toys. What is the difference?

2. Desperate – all women are desperate to get married. That is simply not true. Perhaps it was many years ago because that was the way society was structured, but that’s so passé. In fact, I’ve had many debates with women over the point and reason for getting married, and I’m on the “FOR” side!

3. Catty and Jealous – women battle over nicer things than other women, with other women, even their friends. Things like clothes, handbags, shoes, apartments, boyfriends, weddings, etc.). While I can’t say these women don’t exist, I don’t think I know any of them. But I do remember in high school, when one of my boyfriends cheated on me, all of the girls were asking me if I was going to beat up the girl he cheated on me with. The girl was even hiding from me because she was sure I would. Everyone thought it so strange when I approached my boyfriend in the yard, yelled at him, slapped him and broke up with him. I firmly believe that young girls believe in this stereotype too much, and it needs to be remedied.

4. Stupid – they can’t make a decision for themselves and can’t even think for themselves…. I’m not even going to respond to that.

5. Psychotic – the list didn’t elaborate much on this one, but I think I know what they mean. I had a friend once (as an adult) who I considered one of my best. We spoke on a daily basis, and would see each other every week. Something happened and they stopped returning my phone calls with no explanation. So, I left a message requesting they call me back when they can. They returned my call and said something terrible happened and they needed to get away, they needed time. Though I couldn’t understand, I acquiesced to their request and left them alone. After about a week, I saw an update on their facebook saying they were doing much better, so I messaged them saying I was glad things were looking up and I couldn’t wait to see them when they got back. A few days later I knew they were back in town, so I called and left a message letting them know I was still there for them and would love to see them soon. Nothing. We’d gone from talking everyday, to nothing, with no explanation. A day or so later, I’m on my facebook and I realize I’ve been deleted! I was shocked and so called them. Nothing. Not too shortly after however, I got a facebook message stating that I’m stalking them, I need to leave them alone, we were never that close anyway, I’m obsessed, yada yada. I couldn’t believe it! I was being labelled a psycho for caring! And in my opinion, I think this stereotype derives from one caring more than another in a relationship. I’m not saying there aren’t any psychos out there, hey, if she breaks into your home to clean for you and spray her perfume on your pillow, that’s not a good sign.

6. Broken – i.e. damsel in distress that needs saving. This is by far my least favorite. I think in reality, most girls and women are moving farther and farther away from this, but it’s still ever present in our movies, television, books and all types of media. It’s amazing how often I have to discuss the girl characters with my daughter after seeing movies and television shows. It’s time consuming, but oh so important.

On to the stereotypes about men. The one list that I could find had these top 10 listed:

1. Arrogant

2. Greedy

3. Womanizer

4. Compulsive and Risky

5. Overbearing

6. Selfish

7. Insensitive

8. Workaholic

9. Brutally Competitive

10. Lucky

Can I just start off by saying this, numbers 1, 2, 3, 4, 8 and 10 are really not that bad. In fact, most of those a man can be revered for, right? Ok, so a man may not be revered for being arrogant or greedy, but if he’s successful and rich, most of society would say that being that way helped him get there so, it’s not that bad. As for a womanizer, women may not appreciate that, but his buddies and other men will, won’t they? And a compulsive and risky workaholic? Again, if he’s successful, will he really be put down for that? And finally, my favorite, lucky!? How is being lucky a stereotype, especially a bad one? And the way I see it, men are not just lucky, they’re privileged (specifically the white men) as we still have a predominantly patriarchal society, so….. lucky? Really?

I don’t want to say that women do face more stereotypes than men, because I don’t believe that. I think there are expectations of both sexes that have been passed down through history that fit into these little boxes that need to be eradicated.

TheManBox

The Woman box (sorry, no image available) consists of:

– being sugar and spice and everything nice, avoiding conflict at all costs

– dainty and artistic

– looks are the most important factor in life

– needing a man to complete her life

– clean, neat and organized all the time

– weak and in need of help for all things masculine

– emotional, incapable of being rational when emotions run high

And from these boxes, derive the stereotypes that women and men face. Truth be told, I think that if these “boxes” were addressed at a young age by parents, maybe even schools, it would make a lot of changes. I think a lot of barriers would break, and a lot of stereotypes would disappear.

This is just some of my thoughts though…..

If you’re interested in more information on the “Man Box” and other expectations on the sexes, I suggest you start with Tony Porter (http://www.ted.com/talks/tony_porter_a_call_to_men.html)

I remember….

Dear grandma,

I don’t understand all that’s happened, and I don’t think I ever will. Sometimes I look back on the past and it seems like we just stopped seeing each other overnight! It was weird. We all lived together in the big green and white house for quite some time and I know I thought it would be forever. I thought I was going to grow old in that house.

Now, I’m not saying we were the closest and warmest of friends ever. You and grandpa were not that type of grandparents. I don’t remember you doting on us, spoiling us or even doing anything with us. If we wanted to spend time with you, we had to watch you play cards, or watch black and white movies with you. You  never seemed to be willing to do what we wanted to do, ever. Truth is, I remember feeling like you never really liked us much. I remember feeling like you thought we were bad kids and, when I saw you hit my brother a few times, it confirmed it for me. But still, we lived together and tried to make the best of it. Or so I thought…

I don’t remember mom and dad talking about it with us. I don’t remember them telling us that we had to move, or why. I just remember moving to the new house, around the corner…with nothing. We had no furniture. I remember all of our nice furniture staying at your house, though I didn’t understand why. I remember thinking how strange it was that we, a family of six, were moving into a 3 bedroom bungalow with one bathroom, while you and grandpa stayed in the large 6 bedroom home with 3 and a half bathrooms.  I remember how stressful it was to build that fourth bedroom in the basement for my sister and I to share. I remember how stressed and tired my mom seemed all the time, how she worked so hard to make sure we were all happy in that home, though most times we felt like we barely fit in it. And I remember looking through our backyard and seeing your home….our old home. The large deck my father helped build, never being used. The over-sized pool no longer having tons of kids playing in it, diving off the diving board, or sliding down the slide.

I remember, after a time, my mom talking about going to work for grandpa. I remember her saying she wasn’t keen on doing it but that her family needed her. I remember her working hard and even bringing me to the office sometimes. I would sit there and pretend to be one of the office workers, playing with a calculator as if I was tallying up an order. I don’t remember how long she worked for. But I remember when she stopped. I remember it was sudden and she was very unhappy. I remember her temper being really short and I remember days when she didn’t seem like herself at all. And we didn’t see you at all anymore. You never came to visit.

Those years at that small house were hard on my family, but most on my mother. Looking back on it now, one could almost say she had a mental breakdown of sorts, because she was never the same after that. You see, I don’t have the greatest memory, which is why my memories are feelings, not events. But I know for a fact that, the time at that house changed my mother drastically. And my mother was the heart and soul of our family so, when she seemingly fell apart, it was like our whole family fell apart.

I remember the happiest times of my life being the times I lived in the big green and white house. You were there, but you weren’t a part of it. However, I remember feeling, with every fiber of my being, that you were a part of our leaving. You were a part of our leaving our home under unhappy circumstances. You were a part of our having to move into a much too small house with nothing. You were a part of my mom not being the mom I’d known anymore.

Grandpa has passed, and I never got to make any attempt at amends. Truthfully, I don’t think I wanted to and surprisingly, I’m ok with that. Even more truthfully, I’m not keen on making amends with you either. What I would like, and I know my siblings feel the same, is for you to leave my mother alone. It’s been 23 years and this still gets drudged up somehow. Somehow, she is still made to feel as though she’s less than, or didn’t or doesn’t do right. She’s made to feel as though she played some role in her children not having a relationship with her parents. Well let me clarify, I don’t have a relationship with you because I remember. Not only do I remember all I stated above, but I also remember that at no time in the last 20 years have you tried to reach out to me. No phone calls, no visits, no support at events in my life….nothing. And if you so much as try to say that I didn’t either, please remember, I was the child.

Dearest mom:

These are the memories I have. I cannot say who or what went wrong as I wasn’t behind the scenes, but a child who watched on the side lines. I’m hoping perhaps reading this, and knowing my thoughts and feelings and memories, will help you finally close the door on the pain and suffering I know you endured. If you’re finally able to close that door, know that I’m standing in front of it with my arms crossed (in a hopefully intimidating stance), not allowing anything through, ever again! I love you! xxoo – Twink

So, hilariously enough….

I was going to write a blog about the newest adventures in our life in which we finally sold our house and bought a new one! A smaller one, because we’re downsizing in our true minimalist fashion. But then I turned on my laptop today and saw this:

REAL Women of Canada Media Release: John Baird’s Abuse of Office and this…

REAL Women of Canada go after John Baird for fighting anti-gay laws in Russia

Now, I’m a strong believer in freedom of expression and thought and I realize, REAL Women of Canada have a right to express their thoughts, but to actually accuse John Baird of abusing his power in office…..GGGGGGRRRRRRHHHH!

So, here’s my response:

Dear REAL Women of Canada,

I read your press release and a few articles and statements in regards to your response on John Baird’s stance in opposing international anti-gay laws. As a Canadian, a woman and a tax-payer, I thought it important to tell you I am deeply offended by your response.

You claim that “There’s not one UN Treaty that says homosexuality is a human right” and I beg to differ. There is in fact a treaty that I’ve interpreted to mean just that and I’d like to explain it to you.

To me “The Right To Freedom of opinion and expression” means yes, you in fact have the right to disagree or even detest the idea of homosexuality. In fact, you even have the right to express that opinion. However, the other side of that right is that homosexuals have the right to love whom they love and express that love in any way they want. If that means they wish to express it by holding hands in public, then so be it.

I believe John Baird hoped to try and convince the Russian government not to move forward with a law that bans gay pride rallies and the spreading of information about gay choices to minors. If any government were to take those rights away, you may as well take away education for young girls on sexual violence and the right to form rallies fighting sexual violence. Gay pride rallies, if I’m not mistaken, are a form of expression so that homosexuals can rally support for one another as well as support from others. Information about gay choices is essential to minors so that they know there is support for them and they can make safe choices about their sexual future. See how the two relate? We cannot deny that homosexuality exists anymore than we can sexual violence.

I read the transcript of your interview with Demarchy (with Diane Watts, Researcher and Gwendolyn Landolt, National Vice-President of your organization) and it raised some questions for me.

I believe that in no way should it be acceptable for a government to try and outlaw how a person feels or wishes to express themselves. Some may argue that the freedom of expression only exists if the expression does not harm anyone and my question to you is:

How are homosexual communities harmful? If you believe they are harmful by “choosing” to lead the lives they do, studies have shown again and again that there is no cure for homosexuality as it is not a disease which in turn means it is not a choice.

Are you concerned that by accepting the gay community it will encourage minors to turn gay? Homosexuality is not something learned. And my argument to that is – when did you decide to be heterosexual?

Are you concerned that by accepting homosexuals and their way of life the “traditional family” will be eradicated? Well, my argument to that is this: the “traditional family” went out the door a long time ago when divorce rates got above 50%. The “traditional family” went out the door when families began consisting of 1 parent, or 4 parents, step-siblings and half-siblings. The “tradition family” was a myth and a lie, based on fairy tales that endorsed female oppression. Is that what you’re trying to protect?

You claim your organization is opposed to violence and yet there has been proven, documented evidence that Russians are kidnapping, assaulting and even murdering LGBT activists in their own country. When asked if you felt there was a link between the anti-gay laws and the rise of those crimes, you simply responded “We’re opposed to violence…. LGBTs aren’t the only people who suffer violence”. It is in fact true, LGBTs are not the only people who suffer violence, but does that mean we should put their plight on the back burner and ignore it to focus on others? Are you in fact saying that homosexuals being murdered is less important than other people?

You also stated that homosexuality has negative health effects. A homosexual is a person. Some believe in god, some don’t. Some want to raise families, and some don’t. Some love dogs, some love cats. Most homosexuals live just as heterosexuals do with the only difference being in who they love. So please, elaborate on how they have negative health effects as I’m confused.

You claimed that freedom of expression should occur within the reasonable perimeters of our culture. Well, who gets to decide those perimeters and what makes them reasonable? I believe it is our government, who the people elect. And those people include heterosexuals, homosexuals and more.

You claim that there is misuse of our taxpayer dollars regarding our government funnelling money into gay rights initiatives, but to this I have two points: 1. homosexuals are taxpayers too. 2. we elect our government through democratic process appointing individuals the responsibility to spend our taxes as they see fit. While you may not agree with our government helping fund gay rights initiatives, I do.

Homosexuality exists and if we, as a human race, are going to survive, we cannot make exceptions to the rule of loving our fellow man just because we disagree on a lifestyle.

Thank you for your time

Signed,

A real woman and tax-paying Canadian citizen

I guess my blog about the changes in our life right now will have to wait until next time. Sorry, this trumped it!

Beki

 

Keep It Real

I had an interesting conversation with my daughter yesterday. We were talking about her day at school, and I asked her who she played with. She gave me a few names, but when she said the last, there was a sort of sigh and roll of the eyes. So I asked her about it, and this is what she said:
“Well, she’s not really my friend, and I didn’t want to be a bully, so I played with her.” This got me curious. “What do you mean you don’t want to be a bully?”
“Well, I didn’t want to hurt her feelings and be mean to her by saying I didn’t want to play with her, so I played with her.”
“Did you have fun together?”
“Not really.”
“Why?”
“She’s not very nice to me. She’s very bossy and tells me what to do to. I don’t like the way she treats me.”
Now, it is NOT in my daughter’s nature to follow a leader. Anyone who knows her, knows that I speak the truth in saying that. Em has always marched to her own drum and has been happy doing so. However, I’m fully aware she’s at that age where peers and peer pressure can start to come into play.
“Did you ask her to stop when she was being mean? Did you try and tell her what you didn’t like?”
“Well, no. I don’t want to hurt her feelings!”
And this got me thinking, what are we teaching these kids? I realize, very much so, that we all want to be accepted as we are. We want to be comfortable in our own skin and tell our children, “Be yourself” all the time. But at what cost do we allow the intrusion of ourselves onto others?
It reminded me of a time I was away with a large group of people. We weren’t all friends, but we were all friends of the person who owned the cottage. One early morning, after a late night had by all, there were a few of us up, for different reasons. One individual was working, one was studying, another was getting ready for her morning run and I just couldn’t sleep. And then another individual awoke and was ready to party and start the day. She proceeded to play loud music and sing along while cooking herself breakfast. I was not pleased with her behavior, as I like a quiet morning most days, but I could also sense that everyone else was not impressed either. They would glance at her through their peripheral vision and roll their eyes before turning back to whatever they were doing. After a moment or so, I approached the woman and asked her politely to quiet down, out of respect for the other people in the house that were still sleeping, and those who’d prefer quiet in the morning. She looked at me wide eyed and blank and then turned back to her music, ignoring my request. At first, I let it go. I figured, why create a conflict and make everyone uncomfortable. But then it dawned on me, I wasn’t the one creating the conflict, she was. I was just the only one with enough guts to say anything. So, I proceeded to ask her again and once again, nothing. After the third time, I looked around, hoping another individual would step in and support my plea…..nothing! Unfortunately, that upset me more, so I finally just laid into her. I gave a short ‘lecture’ on respect for others, and I presented her with alternatives to what she was doing (i.e. wear head phones). Once I’d finished my little speech, she looked at me like I was the meanest person on the planet, threw her food and dirty dishes in the sink, turned off her music and stomped to her room.
At that point, the rest of the people awake quickly looked at me, and then away as if nothing had happened.
“What?” I asked. “Like none of you were thinking or feeling the same way?”
“You didn’t have to be mean about it?” One individual stated.
As I was raised to be a kind and polite person, I disregarded the remark and went about my business. But then the cottage owner awoke. Before she even said hello to me, she took me aside and informed me “This isn’t just your vacation, we’re all here for a good time and need to accommodate each other.” Which I took as a warning that my “bullying” wouldn’t be tolerated.
Now I ask you, in what corner of the world is what I did bullying? I couldn’t believe I was being reprimanded! I couldn’t believe not one of the other individuals had stepped up and had my back, so to speak. When the obnoxious girl came out of her room (finally), she behaved as if nothing happened for the rest of the day, but passive aggressively let me know she was still pissed off. She made comments here and there, gave nasty looks when no one else could see, and even made a few jokes about my temper, to which the others all laughed. Suffice to say, the rest of my vacation was not as much fun.
This scenario/experience is exactly what ran through my head when Em mentioned her not wanting to be a bully by telling someone she didn’t like the way they were treating her. For fear of hurting her feelings? That lead me to two questions?

1. Since when is communicating that you feel badly, or that you dislike the way someone is behaving, considered “bullying”?
2. What’s so wrong with feelings getting hurt?

So, addressing number one:
Yes, it all depends on how you address the issue, but come on! My daughter clearly felt that if she even said to the girl “Please stop telling me what to do?” she would be accused of bullying. Bullying is a form of violence not communication! The dictionary has it listed as:

“a blustering, quarrelsome, overbearing person who habitually badgers and intimidates smaller or weaker people”

Now, perhaps by the time I lectured the woman, she felt bullied. But the only reason it got to that point was because she hadn’t heeded my request, not to mention acknowledged it. She wasn’t even toying with the idea that what she was doing might be bothering others, or that I had a valid point.
There is the age old argument – “I can’t MAKE you feel anything therefore, it’s not MY fault you feel badly” – but that’s not entirely true. I’m not saying that she MADE me get angry on purpose, but the truth is, her actions lead me to that and so, she needed to be made aware of it. And I believe in making her aware, I was helping, not bullying.
Perhaps my daughter’s ‘friend’ doesn’t realize she’s bossy. Perhaps she doesn’t realize that Em doesn’t like the way she treats her. Well, it sure isn’t going to stop by allowing it to continue, is it? Who knows, maybe if Em told her how she felt, the girl could take inventory of her actions, and change them. And maybe, just maybe, she and Em could actually be friends.

To address number two:
Feelings get hurt! No one, and I mean no one, goes through their entire life without having their feelings hurt. It’s a part of life. It’s how we deal with it that makes a difference and shows what kind of people we are. I firmly believe, and have been teaching my kids as such, that it’s ok for feelings to get hurt and it’s ok to hurt other peoples feelings sometimes. We of course, don’t want to do it intentionally and for the purpose of our own gain, whether it be social status or humor. I mean, do I really have to bring us back to that age old question?
“Do I look fat in this dress?”
There are times to answer “No” for sure! Times like when a friend is indeed NOT FAT! Times like when a wife is pregnant. She is NOT fat, she’s pregnant!
But, there are times when you need to be honest and say “It doesn’t do you justice.” A good friend may be disappointed (because she likes the dress or what have you), but she will understand and thank you for your honesty. In the end, I’m sure she’d rather not go out worrying that she may look fat.

Bullying is something I’ve survived my whole life, in all forms. I’m reliving a lot of it now through my son. It’s a serious issue to be sure, but as much as it seems to be a hot-topic right now, I don’t believe we’re serious about addressing it, just talking about it.
For too long have we been focussing on how to punish those who bully. How to make an example of them in hopes to scare others from doing it also. My firm belief is that never works. Otherwise, there wouldn’t be a need for more jails and prisons.
We’ve also focussed a great deal on how to help those being bullied. And while that is important, it’s still not going to end the cycle.
What we need to focus on is educating kids properly about what bullying is. And we cannot rely on schools to teach our children that. It’s not a course you can develop with curriculum and tests. Bullying is different to everyone. As I said, what might offend me, may not offend you. And we can’t just walk this earth being politically correct all the time, because then we lose sight of what is real.
We need to step up and teach children how to treat themselves and other people. How to accept that they will not be friends with everyone. How to accept that it’s okay to dislike someone for valid reasons, and it’s okay to be disliked. How to accept that there is a time and place for things. These lessons cannot be taught in a classroom.
I for one, have had enough of the passive aggressive signals from those who dislike me. Just tell me! You are allowed not to like me! That doesn’t mean we have to be unkind to each other. It’s a sort of agreement to understand one another. I’ve had a few acquaintances like that – we ran with the same crowd while disliking each other – and in truth, it made things easier for everyone. It felt good to know where I stood, and I think everyone appreciated the honesty that came out of it. There was no bull shit running around everyone.
But, we are teaching our children the exact opposite. We are teaching them to be passive aggressive. Don’t let your dislike be known. Be nice, be friends with everyone! It’s not real and we are teaching them not to be real, which in my opinion is a terrible, terrible thing. It scares me!

I know that in teaching my children what I believe to be right about bullying and treatment of others, it will make their lives more challenging. They will butt heads with others who believe their honesty to be bullying. They will be disliked for their honesty. That saddens me. But during the times in which I tried to play the game, to pretend I liked everyone and everything and that I was never bothered, those were the hardest and most exhausting times of my life. I’d rather my children know who they are, then to lose themselves in this game we’ve created. I only hope they’ll understand…. one day.

To keeping it real!

Beki

Yay Us!!!

We have been doing a very good job being minimalists. What we have been doing is we’ve been helping each other and spending time together. We barely even watch movies, except if friends come over, or if we are watching a movie as a family. As my brother and I have been biking to school, we’ve been playing outside, biking to our friends, or playing in our rooms when our parents are working. And we’ve been eating very healthy.

From Emelyn

This is my blog!

Ok. So, I’ve been dying to write something in this blog for over a week. There has been SOOOOO much going on but the challenge I’m having is relating it to minimalism. After himming and hawing over it, I’ve decided this is my blog, and I’ll write what I want to! Plus, the Sens just scored a goal shifting the game into overtime, so I’ve got time to kill while I wait for Adam to pay attention to me!

Funny enough, I’m actually going to blog about something relating to our minimalist lifestyle. We are moving! While many things led to the decision – I can’t go into all of them right now, but I more than likely will eventually – one of the key factors is our desire to downsize! Our house is just too big and I feel stupid for spending the majority of our hard earned income toward a house, when it could be better spent on filling the lives of those I love, and my own life, with experiences. So, the house is up for sale and we’re looking for a new one.

This will be the fourth house our family has purchased in 9 years! How ridiculous is that? What’s even more ridiculous is the fact that this is the first time we’re actually house hunting with specific criteria in mind. In the past, Adam and I had never put too much thought into buying a home. We saw a house we liked and went for it. Can you say impulsive much? But this time is different, we’re moving with reason.

So as I said, this time we have specific criteria. We want a smaller mortgage. We want less space. We want a specific neighborhood. We want good schools for the kids – you wouldn’t believe the schools that are out there (another time, another blog entry perhaps). We want parks and trails nearby – there seem to be less and less of those in the new neighborhoods. This doesn’t seem like much, does it. Well, apparently IT IS!

We have seen close to 30 houses! THIRTY HOUSES! And I can’t believe all the crap that’s out there! And how much people are asking for it! I have never been so frustrated in my life. And, truth be told, my major frustration is the undo pressure Adam and I feel in picking the right house/place/price….EVERYTHING! You see, buying a house before was never a big deal because we knew our limitations (financially) and the kids were so young, it didn’t affect them much at all. But now, the kids are older. Where we live will affect their lives a GREAT deal! This is the house we plan to stay in until they move out! So this is the final neighborhood that will feel like “home”. And as much as we want to downsize our space (which leads to less mortgage also), we don’t want to buy a home the kids feel crowded in. We want our home to be a place they love to be, a place they want to bring their friends to hang out.

And trying to buy a house within a budget, not because it’s all you can afford, but because it’s what you’re willing to spend is so different! It’s really difficult to say “No” to the ones who are in a certain bracket (for example $500,000 and up) when you know you can afford it, but you don’t want to spend it. I know, I know….FWP (first world problems), but they’re still real problems, right?

I don’t know if this blog entry is at all interesting to any readers, but I feel better having vented a bit. I know I will be writing more frequently now – especially since I’ve said I’m not committed to writing about minimalism only.

Oh my! I can hear Adam jumping around upstairs. The Sens must have scored the winning goal! I gotta go!

Ciao

Beki