Tag Archives: life

The Big Melt(down)

It’s been awhile since I have updated here. My life has been hectic in recent months and today it finally seems like I might have the time to sit down and have a good rest.

A lot is going on in my life at the moment…

Today I am 41 years old. I woke up this morning to Happy Birthday messages all over my Facebook. The truth is that I completely forgot about my birthday until I checked my phone this morning, which makes it official…I am old enough to not give a shit about my birthday! Yay!

Yesterday I started a new job in a familiar place. Two weeks ago my family and two very nervous cats moved into a new apartment in the city. Seven weeks ago my kids and I packed one bag each of clothing, dropped the cats off at my parents and drove 4 hours south to Toronto to stay with my husband in a hotel room for an undetermined amount of time and start over…again. Eight weeks ago I handed in my resignation for reasons I can’t talk about here.

Today I am sitting in downtown Toronto in my previous place of work, with a new job on my old team. My kids have adjusted to their new schools and being back in the city. There were lots of tears at first and it wasn’t easy, but they are happy again. Our new apartment is fabulous and HUGE and I am looking forward to hosting a dinner party for our friends. The cats were completely freaked out from the move but I can report that they are now happy and comfortable in the new pad. Actually, I was pretty freaked out by the whole thing too, but I am doing much, much better now. (Purrrrrrr)

Oreo and Luna

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This past year has been a long and hard journey. I am not sure why I had to go through it or what kind of lessons I can take from it. I am sure there are many gems of wisdom to gain from the experience but for now I am feeling incredibly grateful that my family and I made it through in one piece and everything has worked out better than I ever hoped for.

Depression still lurks around the corners and threatens to slip in through the cracks under my doorway. I have random anxiety attacks which have been difficult but I am learning to manage them. Despite it, I think I am doing much better than I was earlier this year. At least I don’t feel like a cardboard cut out of myself anymore and I got my feelings back. The problem is, my feelings are BIG and all over the place and I have zero control over them. Crying in public has never been my thing and now I have random outbursts of emotion which is the worst nightmare for a super self-control freak like myself. Yes, I get the lesson here. Putting a lid on your emotions is really, really bad for you. I just wish I can at least wait until I get home to cry over nothing.

But, I am doing better. The desire to write is a good sign of my old self and I look forward to sitting down and putting words together again. I can’t say that I am completely back to normal but honestly, I don’t think I will ever be the same again. Perhaps that is a good thing.

It was a hard year and the past two months have been a roller coaster off all kinds of emotions. The good news is that I am actually feeling real, full emotions again. They may not all be pretty and some of them are downright ugly, but in the midst of the big meltdown of every emotion that ever existed, I am feeling something that is vaguely familiar to me. I think it’s called Happiness.

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The bear comes out of hibernation

The snow and ice have melted and the local falls are roaring

The snow and ice have melted and the local falls are roaring

Depression is a difficult thing to live with and keep under control. Managing my mood is part of my daily maintenance that I have to keep ahead of. Sometimes it’s hard to wear all those hats of who I am – mother, daughter, community member, social worker, social justice advocate, writer…depressive.

I have written before about my struggles with S.A.D. but I have recently come to realize that my depression has so much more to it than just the season. I suppose moving back to where I grew up has made me see that and although it has been hard to face, I think it is better for me to deal with it and work on my personal healing in my home community.

I went through a pretty dark depressive episode this winter. I haven’t felt that way in years and it scared me. Depression is something that has haunted me since my early twenties and I think there has always been a part of me that has feared the darkness overcoming me again. I’m feeling better now, but I realize that taking care of myself has to be my top priority.

It’s not all doom and gloom though. I feel like I am coming out of the other side of the depression tunnel and things are looking up. I love my new job. It took some time to find my niche and fit in, but now I am feeling comfortable and I have some great ideas and projects to work on. One of the most exciting things about my job is that I have an opportunity to write for the community newsletter and I’m hoping to get an agency blog started. It’s not a big deal really, but it’s something that makes me feel good and well, I’m a writer at heart so any chance to share my writing is welcome.

Moving my family out of the city to a small town has been harder than I thought it would be. But all in all, everything is good. The kids are happy, I have a job that I love and the long winter is finally over. Spring has arrived.

I’m looking forward to doing some spring cleaning and finding happiness in the simplicity of daily life.

Follow me on Instagram: @bearheartwoman

The monsters under the bed

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Every day I wonder if I made the right decision by moving back home. Yes, there are many wonderful, new and positive things happening in the community, but there are also the same old negative and unhealthy habits that I left so I could get away from them.

​In my last blog post, I spoke of lateral violence and the poison that this behavior injects into the community. Coming home after being away for so many years means having to face that monster all over again. It’s disheartening to see that it hasn’t changed much. Coming home also means having to face personal monsters (family dysfunction) and the historical roots of oppression that have had long lingering effects on generations of families in the Aboriginal population.

​Indian Residential schools, political battles, racism, ignorance, apathy, denial and in-fighting are all ugly things I can’t avoid anymore, especially now that I am living and working in such a small community. Living in Toronto, it was easy for me to go to work, do my job and then leave, disappear into the city and go home.

​It’s not like that here and I feel that I stick out like a sore thumb. That is just one of many reasons why I have doubts about my decision. Do I really want to deal with all this stuff all over again? Do I really want to expose my children to all the things that made me leave in the first place?

​If I’m going to be really honest, I would have to say that no, I don’t want to deal with it all over again. But I’m a different person now than I was when I left. I have skills, I have experience, I have something to contribute and something to say and I don’t want to let my old fear and my doubts silence the Voice I fought so hard to reclaim.

​The fact is that I chose to come back here because I felt compelled to do so and I firmly believe that this is where I am meant to be, right here, right now. All the negative stuff might still be here and the monsters are lingering under my bed and in the closets, but I’m a stronger person than I was before and better equipped to look those monsters in the eye and scare them off for good.

I’m all grown up now.

A sense of belonging

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I just started my fourth week of my new job and so far I can say that I love it. I can’t get into too much details, but basically my work mandate is Violence Against Women which embodies individual counseling, advocacy and educational group programs. Our mandate is for Aboriginal/First Nations women, however we are inclusive and our services are open to all women who need it.

Besides my new job, there have been a few blips on my radar with our move and the kids getting used to our new lives away from the city, but all in all it’s going really well.

It’s kind of weird being back home. When I first left here several years ago, I walked out of my parents house with two bags and the clothes on my back vowing to never come back to live. I felt even more strongly about this after I had my own kids, thinking that raising them off the reserve was better for them. In many ways, this was the best choice for my children and for me. I love my home, however if you know anything about the history of colonization and First Nations in Canada, you will know that life on a native reserve can be fraught with trauma and heartbreak. I certainly experienced this growing up here and what parent doesn’t want to protect their children from that?

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But I think I have let my own personal trauma cloud my vision for many years, and now after being away from here for so long, I have returned and I see things differently. Yes, there are some problems, but I think we are fortunate because my First Nation community is not isolated (which I think has a lot to do with problems like alcoholism and drug addiction), we have a huge land base, economically things are on the upswing and our leadership is modern and progressive. I am proud of where I am from and it feels like the right place for me to be right now. I think I have something of value to contribute.

Basically, what I am saying is that things have changed for the better and are continuing to evolve into bigger and better things. I feel hopeful and optimistic.

I have attended some community functions and it feels good to be back. It’s also good to be amongst my huge extended family, and it’s great to see my kids experience the outdoors the way I did when I was a child.

I enjoy and need my family, and for the first time in my life I realize that not only do I also enjoy and need my community around me, but that my community might actually need me too…

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All photos are my own, taken and edited on my iPhone5. Follow me on Instagram: http://instagram.com/bearheartwoman

Full moon reflections

Faithful orbit...

Faithful orbit…

I have not done any writing in a long time. Now that I have started my new job and my kids are in school, I need make some time for writing again. I’m kind of lost without it.

Our big move is in process and we are getting used to our new life out of the city. We have all had some little blips to deal with. We were all happy and excited about the move in the beginning, but now that we are getting used to our new routines, job, school and friends (or lack of), reality sets in and some challenges have come up.

At the moment, it’s mostly my son who is having a hard time adjusting. He was doing great at first but now he is having a difficult time at school. It mainly has to do with the fact that he has no one to play with at recess and he is bored and lonely. The last two days he has cried about not wanting to go to school. Obviously this is very concerning for me, so I sent a note to his teacher this morning. I haven’t heard from her yet so I can only hope that he gave it to her and that she was able to address the situation. No parent wants to see their child cry because they have no friends.

My daughter is doing better. She had a situation over the weekend with someone who she thought was her friend. Honestly, I was cautious with this child from the beginning and her behavior last weekend confirmed my suspicions. I know this is harsh to say about a child, but for some very complicated reasons, she is not to be trusted. But since we live in the same community, they get on the school bus together and are in the same class, my daughter has to learn how to deal with her in a good way so there won’t be problems at school. My girl is very emotionally mature,intelligent and empathetic. I am confident that she will learn this tough lesson. It’s hard enough for adults to deal with this let alone an eleven year old child. Once again I am reminded of the bitter life lesson of keeping your friends close, but keeping your enemies closer. It’s not nice but sometimes that’s the way it is.

I have to keep reminding myself of all the positive reasons for why I made the decision to move up here. Changes, even really really good ones are not without some wrinkles to iron out.

Perhaps it is this full moon that is playing tricks on us and magnifying all of our emotions…

An unexpected but positive change…

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I first moved to Toronto 15 years ago to leave the past behind me and start a fresh, new life. The city has been good to me and I have found everything I ever wanted – a home, a loving partner, two beautiful children, an amazing career and wonderful friends. Just three months ago, I had no idea that my life could change so much in such a short period of time…

We’re moving out of Toronto to my (very small) home community in Northern Ontario. I promise to write more about this in another blog post.

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Our new home is not that faraway, about a 4 hour drive north of Toronto, but this a huge change for my family. It all happened rather unexpected and fast, but it’s happening and we have started the process of relocating. I’m excited and looking forward to our new life.

I’m also a little sad to be leaving this beautiful city that has been so good to me over the years. There are a lot of things about living here that I love and will miss, but when I see how happy my kids are to be with their grandparents and extended family, I know that moving back home is the right thing to do.

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I’m even more sad about leaving the wonderful people I have had the pleasure of getting to know over the years. It’s true, I don’t have the support of extended family here in the city, but I have the support of a small group of friends which has made living here so great. I look forward to coming back often to visit.

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Yesterday my kids started their new school up north and today I am back at work in Toronto for a few days to tie up loose ends before starting my new job. It’s a big change in a short period of time but I am really happy and excited for the move. On the other hand, I am feeling a little bit of sadness with a tinge of regret.

All I can say is that this momentous change is for the best, but still, leaving this beautiful city and saying goodbye to our wonderful friends, is just so bittersweet.

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Time on my hands and guilty pleasures

A piece of the Manitou Islands, Lake Nipissing, Northern Ontario.

A piece of the Manitou Islands, Lake Nipissing, Northern Ontario.

Time moves at a much slower pace when you’re out of the city. I’ve been reminded of this now that I have spent the whole summer up north in my home community. I’m on a three-month medical leave from my job to recover from my surgery this past May, and while the first month or so was rough, I have to say that I have been having the time of my life since then. It’s almost like a dream come true to have so much time on my hands that allows me to enjoy the entire summer in the country with my family. 

You would think that with all this time on my hands that I would be taking more photos and sharing them on Instagram. But my right foot is still quite sore and I can’t put my full weight on it yet, so walking around and climbing over rocks like what I used to do for photos is not possible right now. I expect that it will be several more months before I gain more mobility in my foot. I’m getting better and walking more which feels great.

I’m back in Toronto this week, and the contrast between city life and country life is obvious. I missed the city and I love it here, but I can’t wait to get back to the slower pace of life up in Northern Ontario. With so many things to see and do in the city, all I really want to do is sit by the lake at my parents home and enjoy the quiet scenery. My kids love it up there and also can’t wait to get back to enjoy the rest of the summer outdoors.

This summer, I have been having so much fun that a part of me almost feels guilty for it! Like, is a responsible adult supposed to have this much leisure time and fun every day?! I know it’s crazy to think like that, but I can’t deny that the thought has crossed my mind a few times. My doubts aren’t stopping me though, and I plan on enjoying these last few weeks of summer up north with my family. 

I am loving it up there so much that I am really considering leaving our life in the city for a simpler and more quiet life in the wilds of Northern Ontario. We’ll see…