Monday, April 23, 2012

Weekly Know-It-All Wrap-Up: April 16-22

As you all well know, I am a writer. I love to write on many different subjects, and I am expanding my network to include various places that are willing to publish my ridiculously opinionated words.

That being said, I'll be doing a weekly wrap-up of all the proof of my rampant, random, and refreshing rhetoric.

Starting up, I am an official staff writer for an Ottawa based e-newspaper called The Golden Vanguard. My staff page is here.

This week, I wrote on such topics as Peanuts (are they a nut?), and whether or not Music can alter your mood. I also wrote a review of Insomnia by Stephen King after I read the novel despite receiving some bad reviews.

I also write for Helium, you can find my profile page here. On Helium I write on pretty much any subject that crosses my mind, for instance my opinion on whether natural ingredients are healthier than artificial.

Not to mention the diatribes I write here, which are easy enough to find.

One of such diatribes I decided to also post (cross-post... whatever) on BlogHer, a community through which I am trying to share my thoughts and grow my network. The Lorax (2012) is a movie I loved very dearly, so I shared my thoughts on it both here (on Mrs.O) and here (on BlogHer)

There you have it, my writing wrap-up for the week! Enjoy!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Taboo Topics for Kids (or Touchy Discussions with Lil Munchkin)

So my daughter hit that stage... so to speak... where personal or difficult questions start popping out of her mouth. I made the promise to myself many years ago when she was just a baby that I would always answer her questions honestly.

The main logic behind that is so that she wouldn't end up like me (pregnant at 16, a mother at 17, and no self-confidence to speak of until years later). So far, she seems to be happy with herself, she thinks she's awesome (which she totally is) and she knows that she has the right to make choices about her body. Fantastic.

Then the question comes out:
"What is sex? -nameblank- asked if I wanted to have sex with him and I said no."

Oh dear... where do we start with this one? At 7, she can grasp the concept of togetherness, and I think she pretty well understands relationships of varying degrees. But it's hard to describe sex as an action for a generic couple, because typically the description goes along the lines of: "A man puts his penis is a woman's vagina"

You see how that's a problem, considering that M and I are both women. Still working the kinks out on that one, but I turned it around on her by asking what she thought sex was. Made her think. We'll see what comes up. I also made sure to tell her that sex is a very serious action that can really change the way you see yourself, especially if you do it when you aren't ready.

I impressed on her the importance of feeling comfortable saying no if someone (anyone) is trying to coerce her or pressure her into doing anything that she doesn't want to do. Which she totally got, because let me tell you, this girl won't put on a hat if she doesn't want to. Nevermind some obnoxious kid trying to convince her to take off her clothes *HAH!* (I am very thankful of this, despite the fights we get into about her putting on her clothes for outside....)

Another potentially awkward question started with a conversation going: "What's Hanukkah?" (I'm sorry if I spelled that wrong! Spell check doesn't trigger, and I know there's like 3 different ways to spell it...).

Now, it's hard to describe Hanukkah in a way that she'll understand that it isn't a holiday we celebrate, and why. So I start with "Hanukkah is a holiday in the winter that Jewish people celebrate, just like Christians celebrate Christmas".

Then the potentially awkward one comes up: "Are we Christians?" Crap. I know her daycare is Coptic Orthodox, and she learns all about that end of the religious spectrum. Maybe she is, maybe she isn't, either way... that choice is not mine.

The simple reply? "Well, I'm not Christian, but maybe you are." Whoof. Crisis averted. Cue discussion about the differences in celebrating Christmas and Hanukkah. Which is a pretty easy conversation, thanks to my working knowledge of both celebrations and their roots.

I must admit, despite the difficulty I have in answering some of her specific, personal, or sensitive questions, I am extremely grateful to have a daughter that feels comfortable asking them. She knows that she is always able to come to me for anything, especially questions. She is also incredibly smart and intuitive, which makes it easier to explain things to her and be confident that she understands.

It's important, to me, that she knows the details of all things in life that interest her. We talk about all the taboo subjects, from religion, to money, to sex and intimacy. We talk about them in an age appropriate way that also leaves the conversation open for further details as she ages.

I look forward to more potentially awkward questions and conversations, and I will savour them as an important part of growing up and developing personal autonomy.

(this was originally posted on my previous blog December 2011)

Monday, April 16, 2012

The Lorax 2012 is more than just a marketing gimmick

March 16, 2012 I took my brother to the movies for his birthday. It had been a few years since I did anything for my brother on his birthday, so I decided that I would extend the olive branch and take him out. We went to the movie theater. There wasn't much playing, except for the Lorax. Personally, I was super excited about this movie, since it was my absolute favourite Dr. Seuss book as a child. So we went to see The Lorax made into big screen material (not 3D though... eff that.)

Now, if you're like most people that I know, this is where you would look at me cockeyed and ask the redundant question: "how old is your brother??" as though perfectly healthy adults can't enjoy a movie based on a book that was an integral part of their childhood. Where I would then look at them like boring old fuddy-duddies, and say "23, what's your point?"

Animated children's movies aren't just for children. They are for those who want to remember childhood, who have positive things to remember or to cling to. They are for those who enjoy being light-hearted, and who like a little bit of light-hearted joviality in their lives. I am one such people, as is my brother (unless he's being a Knobasaurus Rex)

My brother on a bad day, just less fluorescent

ANYWAYS. Back to The Lorax. I went in expecting something decent, alright, mediocre, and underwhelming. (Consider: The Cat In The Hat, Horton Hears A Who, The Grinch Who Stole Christmas... notice a trend?) I was expecting fun childish passing of the time, without much depth or oomph.

Let me just say that I was absolutely blown away.

The story of the Lorax is one that is fairly well known to just about every single Dr. Suess fan out there. It is a story of over-consumption and how it can destroy the world (pretty well literally).
The basic plot overview is this one guy, The Once-ler, has this smashingly awesome idea to knit a Thneed (which is basically one ugly piece of couture) that has a million and one uses. The Thneed catches in popularity (like a lot of useless crap nowadays) and everyone wants one. So, to keep up with demand, the Once-ler expands and grows his tiny little affair into a huge corporation. The pollution from the factories combined with the ever-shrinking forest of Truffula trees creates a barren landscape in which nothing can grow, and the air is filthy.
Not too unlike our world, nowadays, dontcha think?
Now, admittedly, the movie does add a fair bit of creativity to the storyline. There is further backstory into the little boy (Ted, in the movie) as well as the Once-ler himself. There is also the whole story of Thneedville, where the citizens have to buy air to be able to breathe, and everything is plastic.
It just further instills the message that over-consumption and reliance on plastic is not a good thing for anyone except the big corporations (who don't really care about people... at all).
The Once-ler feels horrible guilt for all the destruction he caused, and does redeem himself in the end. The backstory of the Once-ler also shows how absolutely easy it is to get caught up in greed and consumption. He isn't a bad guy at the heart of it, just easily sucked in by the appeal of making money. Aren't we all, at least a little bit, Once-ler-y?

The end is a positive one, of course. But I won't ruin that all the way for you.

But I will leave you with the famous words of the Lorax:

Unless someone like you cares a whole awful lot,
Nothing's going to get better.
It's not

RIP Theodore Suess Geisel (pen name: Dr. Suess)

(Naturally, a huge number of corporations jumped all over this film as a way to promote their businesses. Which would make sense, if all of the 70-odd businesses were in line with the moral story of The Lorax. Mazda is one example of one business that is not. Yet, the story that is portrayed in this movie has the potential to be more powerful that the marketing gimmicks that went along with it.

Focus on the true message of The Lorax: over-consumption will destroy our planet. And we only have one. So take care of it any way you can. It is worth it, and it isn't so hard. Reduce, reuse, recycle.)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

I Know Everything: Example One

I have a knack for making pretty damn good guesses at things, random things that you really can't predict with any semblance of basal knowledge. That's part of the reason I picked the blog title "Mrs. Omniscient", not to mention it's kind of a tongue-in-cheek about being a know-it-all without being a snob-a-saurus.

That being said, I did it again recently and I wanted to share it here while it was fresh. This is a story about a good friend of mine (who, for the sake of confidentiality, will be named She). She is a good friend of mine who I have known for a few years. We met through our children, and my Lil Munchkin got along great with her eldest little monster.

Well, about nine months ago, She found herself pregnant (it was intentional, not an accident by any stretch). She was ecstatic! I was ecstatic for her! It was an ecstatic time for us all.

As time passed, and her belly grew, we would still hang out. We would walk around, shop around etc. We talked a lot about varying things, especially those that related to children, babies, and pregnancy (especially since WonderWife does not enjoy such conversations, I had to get them out somewhere!).

We discussed her previous birth stories, and my story, and things we would have done differently, and things we would have done the exact same. It was fantastic.

Now, this friend of mine, for both of her previous births, experienced very long labour. The history said she would be in labour (noticeable labour, where the pain is relatively harder to deal with) for 2-5 days before having a bouncing little monster in her arms.

In our discussions, we would talk about our opinions on hospital births, and home births, and the different pain medications and interventions available. We were both on different ends of that spectrum, but we both respected each others different opinion. She was all for epidurals and hands-on-doctors, and anything else, and I leaned more towards the free-standing style.

Now, as we were discussing this, time was passing, and she was having irregular mild contractions. For months. This is normal from what I've read of the third pregnancy. Since the uterus has to work harder to make sure it's strong enough for round three, it starts with braxton hicks contractions sooner, and they last many months. I thought that was good for her, since it should mean She has an easier time in labour, hopefully with a slightly shorter labour time.

She was quite set on giving birth in the hospital , getting the epidural, and just going for it. Which was cool. She was also pretty freaked about the concept of a birth that happened so fast that she couldn't get to the hospital, where she'd have no one around her to help her. She knew she'd be fine, but the comfort of having a medical professional was something she treasured.

So, that being said, I kind of predicted (though I never shared it with her directly) that she would give birth out of the hospital. I figured at home. Partially because I knew she wouldn't drive herself if she was in labour, and partially (mostly) just a hunch that her assumptions about her previous labours would be irrelevant.

Was I right, or was I right?

Easter Sunday afternoon I send her a text, asking if she had her baby yet. *note: I was on a trip to visit family, so it was only once I got back that I checked in with her*

She said YES! That morning, in the middle of the night, on her kitchen floor.

I thought she was messing with me. Seriously???

Turns out, labour kicked in so fast, that she called the ambulance as soon as she realized "THIS IS IT!" and they didn't get there fast enough.

Holy crap! She sent me a picture of her little monster as proof that yes it happened. What a little cutie!

So there. Not that I know it all, but I kind of know it all!

*sidenote: she did end up going to the hospital afterwards to make sure everything was good with both of them. They both had a clean bill of health, and she is happily at home, relishing in the enjoyment of her newest little monster*

Have you ever predicted something that is generally considered unpredictable? How did you feel, what did you base your prediction off of, and did you tell the person the prediction was about (assuming that it wasn't you)?

Inquiring minds wonder...

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Break Down The Mental Illness Barriers

Mental illness is very common, more common than most people realize. The person you sit next to on the bus might have an anxiety disorder. Your boss might have narcissism and delusions of grandeur. Your best friend might have post traumatic stress disorder. Your mother may have depression, and your aunt might have body dismorphic disorder.

You just never know what anyone around you is dealing with at any given time, because chances are they are trying to deal with it on their own. Enough of that. Dealing with mental illness alone is a hard, lonely, suffering lifestyle. I will be the first one to say that it is challenging enough dealing with day-to-day life and the twists and turns that it deals to you. But throw a mental disorder or illness on top of that, and you have the recipe for daily pain, seemingly endless despair, and the worst self-criticism since the dawn of humanity.

If you suffer (or think you suffer) from a mental illness of any variety, don't hide it. Embrace it, and share it. Because a burden shared, is a burden eased.

Maybe you think "pfft, what does this lady know, she's just some crazy eccentric lady on the internet". To which I reply:

First of all, I'm no lady, I am crass, rude, and downright blue-collar at times. But I have a knack for telling it like it is, and that's what I'm doing right now.

Secondly, I have a mental illness. I know what it's like to feel like there's no end, no hope. I have felt that heart wrenching, stomach turning, sweaty palmed anxiety. My mind has slowed down to a point of near-catatonia from absolute depression. I know what the compulsion of illogic feels like, and I have experienced the frustrating irritation and absolute energy of mania.

But this isn't about me. This is about the rest of you with mental illness. Talk about it. Don't hide it, it's just not worth the turmoil. People know there's something up, there's not really any purpose in hiding it except to stew in your own misery.

Believe me, I know it's hard! I've been there! I've mastered the "happy face" because for years I was told to 'fake it until you make it' which never actually happened. I never 'made it', I just hid it really well. Misery was all I knew, and sometimes it can still feel that way.

Unfortunately, despite the fact that 1 in 5 people suffers from some form of mental illness, and 10.4% of people suffer from some level of substance abuse, there is still a stigma about mental health. It is so predominant that 20% of people suffer from it, and yet there is a feeling of taboo about the subject.

With taboo and stigma, comes judgement. The judgement says that if you suffer, you didn't try hard enough. It says if you just tried this or that, your problem would go away.

Not your mugshot

It isn't that easy. Maybe some people can willpower their way out of a funk, or eat cashews to make their anxiety go away. But most people? Most people need help, they need someone to talk to, to let them know that they aren't aliens in human form.

 No matter what you are going through at any given point, you are not alone. You do have friends and family that love you, and if you don't feel like you can talk to them, there is always a therapist or a family doctor who will hear you out.

Share the thoughts, the pain, the truth. Share it so that others know they aren't alone, and you will realize how absolutely full of awesome you totally are.

Create your own reality where perfection is exactly how you are. Because you are perfectly you, and don't try to change it.