Canadian sexual assault laws need reform: Rehtaeh Parsons case is evidence enough

“Not enough evidence”is the main reason for failure to charge alleged rapists.

In the case of Retaeh Parsons, even actual digital photos of the event aren’t enough evidence to lay charges.

The precedent set by this attitude creates a permissive attitude to rape and all but endorses rape culture.

To prosecute a crime successfully, one needs to prove two things 1 intent and 2 action. This is where the emphasis on proof comes in.

However, in certain crimes, intent doesn’t play a part when the actions cause enough damage. An example is vehicular manslaughter, just because someone doesn’t intend to kill someone using their car does not mean the act did not occur.

Similarly, I doubt many men or women know what sexual assault is. Never mind have intent to rape.

It’s more commonly known as the culturally pervasive sense of entitlement to have sex with women, regardless of her opinion on the subject. That is in fact, rape.

The relative success of the “No means No” movement has left a legacy of Rape Myth, that unless a woman says no, it’s a yes.

Not so!

Many women can’t say no because they are frightened, or drunk, or in the Stubenville case- thought to be dead.

So then how can the intent to rape exist if societally, it’s culturally acceptable to rape, but not call it that?

And then how do you report something which is not thought if as being really a crime?

And more importantly, why report it if you’re going to be dismissed by the police and bullied by your peers?

Victim blaming has become the norm, not the exception.

We are supposed to believe, these women, nay-girls! did or said something that made it ok for their dignity, morality and very body to be violated in a way they can never fully recover from.

No. Nothing anyone does deserves that. So why the uproar around this happening in India, and the relative silence about it happening here in Canada?

No one wants to talk about this. I suspect because no one wants it to really be happening. That this ugliness and evil behaviour exists right under our very noses in our civilized society.

It makes me sick.

I only hope this case creates the awareness that is so badly needed to prevent this type of thing in the first place. So, men…whether she’s drunk, or underage, or your girlfriend- you still need to ask and get a yes for it to be consensual.

Justice system, for God’s sake, better train your people to cope with these reports. Look harder for evidence. Believe our women when they come forward.

We can no longer turn a blind eye when girls are hanging themselves over the ineptitude and inaction of the organization that is mandated to protect us.

How bad does it have to be when politicians are publicly appealing to Anonomous hackers to met out the justice our system has so badly failed to.

Something must be done about the dismissive attitude The Canadian police and Justice System has to the brave women and girls that report their sexual assaults.

Rules and policies must be adjusted to serve and protect.

I don’t know what the answer to this horrible and heartbreaking issue is, but I know nothing can be solved by pretending the problem doesn’t exist in the first place.

Here’s the petition demanding an investigation into the treatment of the Rehtaeh Parson’s case :

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

An attitude of gratitude

Practicing gratitude is one of the most powerful tools I’ve used to change my outlook on life for the better.

It started out with a friend posting a list of 3 things she was grateful for on Facebook every day. It was so interesting reading her posts I got curious. What am I grateful for? I wondered. She inspired me to start posting my own list, which I did for a few months.

At first it was actually really hard to think of 3 things a day. But I made a commitment to myself that I would do it, so I had to dig deep. My first few posts were comical. I was grateful for it being only minus 20 instead of 30 for example.

What I discovered though, is that the more I searched for things to be grateful for, the more there were.

Now I can honestly say I could rattle of 50 or so things I am grateful for without even trying.

There’s some scientific reason for it, the name of which I can’t remember, but which basically states that what you focus on expands.

It’s like if you buy a new car, or mention something you haven’t heard of for awhile, and then all of a sudden you will hear about that thing or see the same car as yours everywhere. It’s because your unconscious mind starts looking for and pointing out what you’d already been focusing on.

I believe my mind can only have one thought at a time, so if I am consciously focusing on what I am grateful for, these thoughts can replace the ones that tell me about all the things that I don’t have, or all my worries of the future and regrets of the past.

I’ve continued my practice of gratitude each night in my journal. It’s so nice to take a few minutes to appreciate what I have, and how lucky I am to have my basic needs met, never mind all the other wonderful things in my life.

And besides, gratitude feels good! I can actually feel a physical feeling of warm happiness in my belly when I practice gratitude.

I believe this practice has increased my quality of life, appreciation for what I have and my ability to truly enjoy moments of joy.

Why not try it and you can see for yourself?

Another interesting spin on gratitude lists is from Melodie Beattie, who wrote a book called Make miracles happen in 40 days.

The object is to write a different kind of gratitude list first thing in the morning, within a half hour of waking up. Under the words “today I am grateful for” you then write down all the things you Are least grateful for. All your fears, worries, and the things you aren’t happy about in your life.

I did this for 40 days and found that in the beginning, I could very easily come up with 10 things I was most certainly NOT grateful for. But by about halfway through, I was finding it harder and harder to genuinely feel ungrateful or resentful for 10 things.

And as a bonus, all the things I wrote down each morning seemed less dreadful simply by being thanked.

I have the words ” gratitude is a verb” written on my fridge. It helps me to remember that I have a choice. I can choose to take actions such as these to incorporate gratitude into my life. I can have the warm feeling of gratitude each and every day if I choose it.

And for that, I am grateful.

Sample evening list: grateful for food in the fridge, sunshine, good day at work, my dog, feeling useful, warm place to sleep, great friends, inspiration, abundance, great hair day.

sample morning list: today I am grateful that: I am out of toothpaste, economic insecurity, too much to do, sore knees, never ending housework, procrastination, perfectionism, too little sleep, fear of rejection, fear of asking for what I deserve.

Posted in Actionable Stuff or Get On IT!, finding happiness within | 1 Comment

How to deal with being lonely, or how I stayed single for 13 months

Feeling lonely is a terrible thing. The ache is like nothing else. If you’re like me you’ll do just about anything to distract yourself from it.

Being a woman, with access to the Internet, it’s not too difficult to find company. The problem with that kind of company is it increases the ache rather than alleviates it.

The question of how to successfully manage loneliness must start with the answer to a different question- why? Why do you want to be alone, but not lonely?

There’s a famous illustration of the power of why from Darren Hardy.

If I offered you $20 to walk across a plank on the floor you would likely do it. Now if I raised the plank and placed on the roofs between 2 buildings, then offering you the same crisp $20 to walk across it, you would likely decline. Now, imagine your family was in a burning building located on the other side of that board. You’d be much more likely to cross the then.

This is the power of why. If your “why” is strong enough, it makes any “how” possible.

I had several reasons for self imposed singledom. My Why’s are what motivated me when times got tough, which they surely did.

A little history on my past would be beneficial to share at this time.

I was 30 and had spent the better part of 7 years in back to back relationships. Engaged once. I was dismayed to find that it seemed so many of my exes shared similar undesirable characteristics, and in any event, none of these relationships worked out.

Deciding then to avoid relationships, and contract out my sex life proved only to increase the great ache of loneliness.

I realized the common denominator was me. I believe you attract what you are, and I was not attracting the right kind of guy because there was something undesirable about me!

I really wanted to improve myself in order to finally find a compatible partner with whom I could have a healthy relationship. That was my big why. Other why’s were that I’d never been single on purpose before and I was kind of afraid of it. I wanted very much to be able to keep my own company. And I wanted even more to avoid the kind of relationships that I’d been having.

Writing out my list of why’s kept it fresh in my mind, and helped me to remember that I was doing this for a good reason.

Then I set about entering into a committed relationship with myself. I started dating myself. As weird as that sounds I have had a lot of fun with it, and it’s kept loneliness at bay.

Here are some ways I dated myself:
Made an effort to dress nicely every day, do my hair and makeup and wear perfume, as if I was going on a date- just that made me feel better!
I’d do nice things for myself that typically I’d rely on guys to do for me. I took myself out for dinner, bought myself flowers,gave myself foot rubs and routinely asked myself ” what do you want to do?”
I’d send myself encouraging and loving text messages, saying the kind of stuff that I’d want to hear from someone I was dating.

In addition to dating myself, I also took the opportunity to revel in all the less than pleasant parts about being in a relationship I was free of.

In my case that meant not having to check in with someone, turn down the music, eat gross boy food and all the other behaviors my exes encouraged in me. What a relief! I made a list of those things too.

Then I started trying to get to know myself better. I explored new places, ideas and activities, trying them out and seeing what appealed to me. I was surprised by what I learned.

I got and rekindled hobbies, like growing plants, blogging, reading, dancing, meditating, baking, hula hooping and more. I also took a lot of comfort from my dog, if you can get a pet do so, they’re great company!

I also spent a lot of time with different girlfriends. I realized that if I could build better friendships, I’d be better at all relationships. I started to notice the difference in my behavior, comparing how I acted in relationships versus with my friends. How easily I compromised, how much time I spent with them and other things were all interesting things to learn about myself.

I began to journal every night, and in that way I gained a better understanding of how my mind and emotions work, and what I need out of myself and others to be happy.

At the end of the 13 months I had a very clear understanding of what patterns I’d been repeating in past relationships that caused the same outcome. I had a better understanding of myself and I liked myself a lot better than when I was contracting out my happiness to another.

I’m not saying it was easy, but I wanted it bad enough, and the ways I just outlined helped me live single and happy for the first time in my life.

I hope this helps!

Posted in Feeling bummed??, finding happiness within | 1 Comment

Self care and self respect

My default is to bully myself to BE more and DO more with less and less.

To take care of myself is a crucial component of respecting myself. Sadly, I didn’t know what I needed to take care of myself until I was asked that question, and to make a list.

When I first made my self care list I had to start with my basic needs: 7 or so hours of sleep, staying hydrated, fruits and vegetables.

To get beyond the basics I had to delve deep into my heart and locate memories of times I felt nurtured, by my own hands. Times I felt joyful, peaceful, loving.

And also the times I felt extremely uncomfortable or angry.

In those moments were hidden little gems about who I really am and what makes me tick, or ticked off.

By uncovering this information, I’ve armed myself with an arsenal of tools to build myself a better life from the inside out. My hope is that you’ll get some ideas from my list and create your own.

Here is my self care criteria:

Loud music, preferably with enough bass to rattle my eyeballs ( puts a big stupid grin on my face)
Cream in my coffee (otherwise I can be quite irritable)
Mint tea calms me down, especially after lots of coffee.
Aromatherapy (who knew?) lavender and honeysuckle sprayed on my pillow or in my bath…bliss
An hour in nature a day( just breathe)
No electronics an hour before bed( otherwise I have trouble sleeping)
Avoiding negative people (they make me feel icky)
Spending as little time as possible in home decor/improvement stores (I hate them)
Journalling (brain dumping)
Making regular Gratitude and proud of lists
Meditating regularly
The absence of clutter ( striving for this)
Reading books in the sun as often as possible
Napping ( I’d been missing out this whole time! Not power naps, indulgent, several hour naps.)
Painting my nails
Vision boards, goal setting, reviewing my dreams ( dreams are the seedlings of reality)
Experimenting with dressing according to my mood ( yay flowy skirts)
Saying no, saying no, saying NO ! when it does not feel right
Letting go of people who make me feel invisible, small or flawed
Letting go of caring what people think ( it’s none of my business)
Letting go of guilt
Gentle self talk
Accepting the things that annoy me and if possible, reducing their existence in my life
Accepting myself as I am
Positive affirmations
Asking for help
Giving back
Comfy bed
Clean sheets
Driving really fast on highways
Not procrastinating
Calling if I’m going to be late
Filling my gas tank when it’s 3/4 empty
Paying my bills on time
Playing sports
Alone time
Inspirational material
Emotionally honest people
texting myself supportive love whisperings
Giving myself permission to screw up, change my mind and not be perfect
Keeping almonds in my car so I don’t die of starvation while stuck in traffic
Owning One pair of cool sneakers and a hat that fits perfectly
Owning Plants
Lipgloss makes everything better
Brushing my teeth and washing my face before bed no matter how tired I am
Surrounding myself with beauty
Appreciating beauty
Listening to The beastie boys, especially their Paul’s boutique album
Being honest with myself
Doing the dishes right after I eat

Some of these are habits, some are hobbies, some are principles. This list is ever growing. As I learn through experience what does not work for me, I can identify what does.

The more things on this list I can do often, the happier I am with who I am.

Loving myself is respecting myself, and creating and frequently revisiting my self care list has been instrumental in creating self reliance, self respect and self love in my life.

I hope your self care list will help you do the same.

Posted in finding happiness within | Leave a comment

You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees or stars

I’d felt for so long that there was something missing.

Within there was a panicked scrambling. I had to get somewhere or do something to alleviate the gnawing hole in my gut.

I tried everything there is to try… I chased the superficial. I lusted after and attained the perfect body, the desirably located condo complete with stainless steel appliances and slate countertops.

The cutting edge fashion; expensive purses and 4 inch heels. The painstakingly created facade of perfection. Not a hair out of place, but withering inside.

I thought if I did what they told me, and bought all the things that I would find happiness there. I thought I would be satiated with $15, 000 in the bank, a diamond ring on my finger and a warm body in my bed.

I really believed hitting this year’s sales targets would do it. Or moving to a prettier city. Or being single and then again coupled. This desperate search grew even more frenetic. The moodswings and despair so uncontrollable and baffling. IF I WAS DOING IT ALL RIGHT WHY THE HELL DID I FEEL SO DEAD.

Oh and the anxiety. It just felt so wrong. I felt trapped in my body, in my life, in my head. I wondered where happiness was. I knew it was somewhere.

So I kept looking. I looked for it at the bottom of a bottle, in a baggie filled with powder, in the throbbing sweaty enclaves of pounding bass filled basements, in the well muscled arms of strangers, struggling to carry endless bags of shiny things out of the mall into the parking lot, in food and in not eating.

I couldn’t sit still, be in my own head for too long. It was terrifying. So many voices snarling at me, yelling at me, berating me and bullying me. DONT JUST SIT THERE YOU CANT JUST SIT THERE GO DO SOMETHING!!!!!!!!

I’d be puzzled by my reflection. At the stranger with haunted eyes staring back at me. Who the hell was this chick?

So I pushed onwards. Flogged by the voices and the desperate longing to feel ok. To feel at peace. Brief respite was found in the height of blackout drunken oblivion when I finally did. Could.not.feel. Could.not.think. Was finally removed from the hell that was my life.

I was not ready to examine what I’d been told. Happiness is within. Bullshit, I thought. I don’t have anything like that. And I didn’t, because I could not see it, and was not aware of it.

I did not know then that I am a child of the universe. I did not know that tingly spacelike energy stuff is at the nucleus of every cell of my being. I did not know that within, deep within exists a greatness the likes of what created the planet, sends the moon and sun into their orbits and grows great rainforests. That energy that changes everything from summer to fall to winter to spring. That great timeless stuff of the divine.

THERE, within THERE is what I was looking for. The silence, the love, the feeling of being whole and complete and where everything is exactly as it should be.

Bliss. Finally.

Posted in Uncategorized | 1 Comment

Managing Fear

On the other side of fear is the life you’ve always imagined~

Fears have the ability to paralyze. They can enslave in repetitive thoughts & actions and neuter our ability to grow.

Without the ability to manage my fears I can’t ever move beyond the life I have now.

Here is a rundown on what I know about fear, how it works, how to recognize it, how to listen to it, how to honor it and how to move past it.

How fear works:

Fear is a baromter of growth. I think of it as a guard standing on the edge of the things that I know, warning me that by passing fear I’m going into the unknown.

If I’m afraid, it’s likely that I’m challenging my status quo, pushing my comfort zone or my limits.

From an evolutionary standpoint, fear is designed to keep you safe, away from the possible suffering the unknown could deliver.

Your fears are trying to protect you from hurt.

Mostly I’m scared of what people think, but I’m more scared of really trying and failing. The best way to avoid being hurt is to never try to do things differently at all. But by not risking hurt, you can’t ever grow.

How to identify fear:

First I have to find the fear. Sometimes it’s a heavy feeling in my gut, sometimes it’s in my heart. Sometimes it’s endless worried chatter in my head, and sometimes it’s all three.

First I stop for a minute and pay attention. Where does it feel tight or heavy in my body?

Most of my fears are in my gut, my hear or my throat. (Incidentally these are where 3 of our chakras are.)

Once I figure out where it is I put my hand on that spot. I breathe really deeply while I hold my hand there and I try to picture what does this fear look like? I really get present with it, and try to describe it’s color shape and size. My favorite tends to be dark purple or black and sort of spiky balls.

I sit with it awhile, breathing, really feeling it’s presence in my body.

That usually calms me down enough to then ask myself.

How to listen to fear:

“What am I afraid of?” and then I listen to the answer

Whatever comes up, I write it down, I don’t judge it as I am writing, I just do a brain dump.

Honoring Fear:

Just knowing what it is I am afraid of, somehow makes it less big and scary. It diminishes it’s power.

I really respect my fear because I know it’s just trying to protect me. I’m grateful for it’s a signal that I’m growing.

I thank my fears, as silly as it sounds, all they really want is to be heard and aknowledged. It’s like the monster in the closet, the more you try to ignore it the bigger it gets, but as soon as I open the door and turn on the light, I realize it’s just an empty closet.

Moving past fear:

Once I have them all listed, I ask myself for each one, does this fear serve me?

So for example. With this article. I am afraid of being ridiculed. It’s the same fear that always pops up just before I show the world a little more of my authentic self.

The fear of being ridiculed isn’t enough to stop me from doing it though, because I want to get this out into the world more than I can keep it in. So while it’s a useful consideration, in this case the fear does not serve me.

I review why I want what I want. And how it would feel to get it.

I thank the fear for trying to protect me

I remember that two seconds or two minutes or two hours of courage could result in a lifetime of benefit from pushing past the fear.

If it’s an action that I need to take into it as soon as I possibly can. It’s like running to jump off the dock or something into the water. If you don’t do the first time you’ll psyche yourself out and just get more scared and It’ll get harder to do.

I also review in my mind or in my notebook the many different times I was terrified and pushed past it and what kind of results I received from pushing past it.

I like to build evidence of faith working.

For the first big one, I just had to take a leap of faith that time and trust that everything was going to turn out okay. Because I did not one big thing and it did turn out okay now I have more faith that smaller things or even bigger things will also turn out okay. That’s the case study or evidence building that I’m talking about.

I try to remember too, that fear is a physical response I will have. We are animals and it comes from the reptilian part of the brain which is the fight or flight mechanism.

I try to remember that even though it doesn’t feel like I have a choice of whether I’m going to be afraid or not that I actually do. I have a choice as to whether I will manage that fear or let it run me.

If I make my decisions based on fear I create more fear in my life. If I base my decision on love and faith and being genuine and following my gut I create a better life a better person within me.

The key is remembering I have a choice and remembering that I don’t need to let it override me and remembering it don’t need to act based on fear. I can still feel afraid but make decisions and act in spite of being afraid.

It’s really about feeling the fear and doing it anyway.

Because if I’m not afraid my goals aren’t big enough.

And I can choose to either fully show up, full of faith, or wilt in fear and longing for that which is within my reach.

Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment

work life balance what?

1. Set a time to shut off work. Working all day and night means you are nothing but your job. Your life belongs to your employer (or if you’re the employer then your life belongs to your employees or customers). Take ownership of your life — find variety and ways to burn off stress and find enjoyment in life! Start by setting a time each day when you shut off work. Whether that’s 5 p.m. or 5:30 or 6 or 7 or 9 p.m. Some of you can set it even earlier if you start earlier — say 4 p.m. or something like that. Set that time and make it happen. After that shut-off time you will not do work or check email or think about work.
2. Find something to immerse yourself in after work. What do you love doing besides work? Do you love to read or run or play sports or hang out with friends or play with your kids or build model ships or play games? If you don’t already have a passion then pick something that sounds fun and give it a try. It doesn’t have to be expensive — it could be as simple as hiking around your neighborhood or volunteering at a charity or helping friends with household projects. Schedule it as soon after work as possible. And while you’re doing it try to completely immerse yourself. Don’t think about work — only think about the after-work activity.
3. Learn to be mindful and present. It’s not easy to just switch your mind off work but it’s a skill you can learn over time. The way to learn this isn’t to try to block work from your mind — it’s to learn to bring your mind back to whatever you’re doing after work. It doesn’t matter what you’re doing: it could be household chores or exercise or talking with someone or taking a bath or eating. Whatever it is … that’s all you want to focus on. Your mind will inevitably slip into something else. That’s OK. Bring it back gently and without reprimand. Slowly with practice you will get better at being present. Which means your work won’t always be on your mind.
4. Take breaks at work. Not everyone will have this flexibility but it’s worth doing if you can manage it. Basically if you’re working for 8 or 10 hours you don’t want to do it non-stop. You need to find balance even at work. So at least once an hour get up and walk around. Get outside if you can and take a walk. Stretch and massage your shoulders and get your blood moving. Do some squats or pushups if you want to start getting fit. Talk to someone. Drink water. Eat fruits and vegetables. Your break just needs to be 5-10 minutes but it’s important.
5. Increase your skills while at work — to prepare for leaving work. If you are very skilled at what you do then you become worth more. In fact it’s often possible to quit your job and start your own business if you’re good enough. And it doesn’t take a lot of money to work for yourself — you can start a business with practically no money. I started mine while still working full time: my job funded my startup business. Even if you don’t go into business for yourself you’ll be worth more with a high skill level. So devote your work hours to learning and perfecting your work skills.
6. Find ways to increase your income while decreasing hours. As your skills increase your value increases. Slowly pick jobs or projects that earn more money per hour. This often means changing jobs but it might be a promotion or change in roles. It could mean starting your own business or becoming a consultant. If you already have your own business or work for yourself then you should slowly be picking jobs or business projects that pay more for every hour you spend working on them. By increasing income you can decrease hours and free up more time for yourself.
7. Learn that you are not defined by work. You can be happy without your job. Your value isn’t completely tied to your work. For example: I’m a writer but it’s not the only thing I am. I’m also a father and husband and know that those are my most important roles — not my role as a writer. I am more than that as well: I run and read and learn and help others and am constantly experimenting with life. I can do things other than my job and be fulfilled. So can you. And once you discover this you’ll free yourself to find a life outside of work. Then balance is simply a matter of logistics — you just need to make it happen by taking small steps.
Small steps is always the answer. You don’t need to be perfect at shutting off work or being present or pouring yourself into something after work. You just need to start doing it and in doing so you’ve already started down the road to balance.


Posted in Uncategorized | Leave a comment