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Month: June, 2020

How Covid-19 Helped Working Moms Realize We Were Drowning

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This has been the longest few months of my life- if you’re not including the the third trimester of my last pregnancy.  Actually, it’s been pretty comparable to that. I’ve been overtired, unmotivated, unable to concentrate fully, carrying a load way too heavy, knowing that there is an end in sight but never 100% sure when it will come.  And then- the aftermath. Having this new life to reconcile, a new routine to establish, working through a new pile of challenges and finding new solutions to them. A brand new balancing act.

Covid 19 has been a real eye opener, especially for working parents. And often especially so for working mothers. It’s no secret that those of us who have children and careers were struggling to find a balance between work, family and self long before Covid 19 hit, but the emergence of this pandemic has highlighted the glaring reality of how big that struggle was.

In some ways, it has offered insight into our lifestyles. Getting up extra early to work our asses off to prove that we really are dedicated to our jobs despite having a family. Daycare dropoffs and school bus meetings and remembering PD days and field trip money. The constant rushing around to get home from work and school, ushering our offspring from one activity to another, eating dinner in the vehicle, collapsing with a glass of wine at the end of the day with little energy leftover for adult conversation or even committing to an hour long tv drama.

In other ways, it has pushed our abilities to multitask and adapt to our children’s needs to the absolute tip of the fucking earth as we try to work from home, manage behaviour and organize their education from the dining room table.

Even for those of us with a dedicated partner, life has been a total shitshow riddled with short tempers, no alone time, a lifelong debt to Minecraft and bordeline alcoholism.

If I’m being honest it’s become obvious to me that while we enroll our kids in every activity under the sun all under the guise of “exposing” them to as many opportunities to enrich their lives, we have been tricked into thinking that all of these things are of higher value than the influence of spending time with those of us that should be doing influencing.  Are we literally just so exhausted from trying to give 110% to every aspect of our lives that it is easier to pay for someone else to entertain them once they are home from school while we sit in the waiting room mindlessly playing Candy Crush or scrolling Instagram?

For me, as a working mom, it highlighted for us how much we were complicating our lives, when what the kids really wanted was to be with us. The pandemic slowed the pace of our lives down, and that part was actually a real blessing in disguise.  It took the pressure off of always being in a hurry to be somewhere, without actually spending any real time together.

It doesn’t mean that dance or music or sports don’t have value, they absolutely do.  I’m just not sure that having to do everything, everyday, has more value than calming the fuck down and living a simpler life.

I think it’s ok to make a decision about priorities right now.  What have you invested your energy and money into? What does your child enjoy the most? What do they excel at?  Has Covid given us permission to at last admit to ourselves that we cannot continue to be jack of all trades and master of none? Has it given us permission to finally realize that maybe it’s ok to prioritize family over work and things and this never ending quest to have more?

I keep thinking that had this pandemic hit even a generation ago, we wouldn’t be in the same sort of situation. We’d be much more likely to have a parent at home, without work obligations to balance with the care and education of children. Childcare wouldn’t be such a fucking crisis and maybe we’d all be able to take a goddamn breath once in a while. I know, this probably makes me a shitty feminist because likely it would be the woman at home, but right now, I feel ok about that. Trust me, I LOVE my job, but I love my children more.  And if it were financially viable for me to stay home and only have one full time job to worry about I would absolutely do it. In the end, maybe me that makes me a good feminist, because I feel that it would be nice to have the ability to choose that. Right now I feel like I am choosing nothing but exhaustion by Method A, or exhaustion by Method B.

So, as we eagerly await to hear how the next school year is going to look, we will have some decisions to make about what life we are going back to.  Have we learned anything?  What do we appreciate now that we didn’t before?  Can we make do with less, and lead better lives? Is the level of busy-ness in our lives indicative of the quality?  Can we find a silver lining in all the negative outcomes the pandemic has created?

I guess we’ll see.



How I am Overcoming My Own Bias, And How I Feel About Defunding the Police

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Photo by Kelly Lacy on Pexels.com

Years ago, in what feels like another life, I had a lot of different opinions than I do now.  Some of those changes came from blunt and difficult conversations that offered a new perspective on racial inequalities, cyclic trauma, poverty, abuse and addiction. Some of those came from first hand experiences working in populations that face those barriers every single day.

I used to have this idea in my head that everyone was capable of working hard enough to change their lives. I thought that every single person has obstacles to overcome and that perseverance was the key to setting yourself up for a good life. I believed that addiction was a choice made by weak people. That folks should be able to get over their shit and move on. In my opinion, everyone was capable but some were too lazy to do the work.

It wasn’t out of malice, it was out of ignorance that a level playing field actually existed.

Spoiler Alert: It doesn’t.

I was viewing the problems of ( in this case) Indigenous people through the rose coloured glasses of a person who had good work ethic, drive, and determination, and most importantly a safety net.  Failing at anything didn’t have any real consequences because in reality, my parents would have supported me through anything. There was a knowledge there that I always had a soft landing, financial support in an emergency, a safe place to go and someone to call.  I had two devoted parents. I never worried about being hungry.  I took music lessons and was a competitive swimmer.

As a young adult, I ignorantly equated my first world problems of being called fat (that’s a whole other post), or having my clothes made fun of, or arguments about rules or getting grounded for back talking to those of generational poverty and discrimination.

So, what changed for me?

As mentioned above, it began with some really difficult conversations that threatened my entire belief system. Those were hard. It created some moments of real tension between myself and a lot of my friends. I didn’t think that my perspective was racist or inappropriate in any way.  In my mind, we wanted the same thing- but the difference was that they wanted to abolish the cyclical poverty and mistreatment of Indigenous people because they were human beings in pain, and I wanted to *fix*their problems to protect myself and my perceived *rights*.

Looking back, I now have started to understand the biases that had been ingrained in me since childhood. My parents instilled a belief system in me that I was capable of anything, and I foolishly thought that it applied to everyone. I didn’t understand that while it could for a white girl of privilege from the suburbs who had two parents, my basic needs taken care of, access to any resources I desired and a life where as a child I didn’t have to face adult problems, it wasn’t the same for everyone. In reality, while everyone has the capability to help themselves, in order to access the same opportunities there are a multitude of barriers that need removing in order for it to be attainable for everyone.

In the past few years, I began working directly with children in some of Canada’s most impoverished neighbourhoods. Developing relationships with my students took work, empathy, patience, and the ability to swallow my long ingrained opinions to really listen to them and learn. I was able to see how much my families loved their children and how much they wanted for them despite the seemingly insurmountable obstacles in their way for living a life that not only they deserved, but that was stolen from them. I heard about and saw the chaos and trauma these kids faced on a daily basis, and my perspective about what the solutions were started to slowly change.

What I ultimately saw was that so much of the crime and turmoil that goes on in where I live is a direct casualty of the poverty and trauma cycles that we continue to try and either band-aid or police out of existence, and it is simply not working. Is it possible that we are so busy punishing people for the unpleasant outcomes of their circumstance when what we should be doing is addressing the causes of those circumstances?

So when we now hear the cries of “Defund the Police”, what if we understood the message behind that to be that instead of policing the social issues that disproportionately affect people of colour, we learned about them, and helped to solve them?

What if, every police officer was required to have a 4 year degree that gave them the tools necessary to deal with the social issues we are asking them to face basically “unarmed’ at the moment.  We are asking them to be social workers, provide medical care, deal with addiction, homelessness, domestic issues, sexual crimes, poverty issues etc etc, and the primary tools they are given are tasers and a gun?  Wouldn’t it be better if we either used some funding to help the officers feel better prepared to help with those issues rather than policing them and treating everything as a crime?  Or would it be better if more funding was allocated to bring in counsellors, addiction workers and social workers to deal with the obvious amount of social issues that come along with poverty, addiction, discrimination or the aftermath of cultural genocide?

What I believe I’ve learned from my recent experiences, exposure and willingness to listen is that we will never ever EVER solve the crime problem and hence the need for more patrolling of crime until we address the severe and cyclical issues of poverty and trauma that cause them.  Until we find and address the source of the bleeding, it doesn’t matter how many band-aids we apply, the blood will keep coming and affect more and more parts of our body.

For me, “Defund the Police” is less about abolishing the police because we’re angry at them, it’s about gradually needing their presence less and less by creating an equal and reasonable world that helps all humans overcome the barriers they face to having good lives, rather than continually punishing them for having to face them.



Kelvin Goertzen Needs To Take His Right Wing Views and Broaden His Horizons

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Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

I’ve been sitting on my feelings regarding Kelvin Goerzten’s recent meeting with agencies that promote homeschooling.  Hearing about it really pissed me off and it took me a day or so to process why that was.

I personally like the idea of homeschooling if you’re up to it.  When my eldest child was ready for kindergarten, I explored the idea briefly before deciding that my reasons for thinking about doing it were selfish. In my case, I think I considered mostly because I wasn’t ready to let her go, but ultimately it wasn’t really in her best interest in terms of being able to provide her with a broad education on diverse topics.

Homeschooling in itself can be a wonderful experience for many families, and I have worked with many homeschooled children over the course of my career, all of whom were and are lovely.

My problem with our Education Minister becoming involved in an online webinar *promoting* homeschool is not based on whether or not it should be a choice for those who are in a position to do it.

My problem is that the conversation he was participating in involved heavily partisan ideals that consist of privileged folks who live on the extreme far right of the political spectrum.

The ideas presented in these discussions, based on the policies that the other participants represent, would be exclusionary and typically based on evangelical Christian foundations.  And while I don’t personally have an issue with those values, they don’t represent the entire population.

As a Member of Legislature, he has a responsibility to represent the needs of every child and family and their right to access inclusive, broad topic education regardless of their cultural background, faith, ethnicity or socio-economic situation.

These conversations, based on the company he kept, would have roots in undermining the rights of women by rejecting gender mainstreaming (aka gender equality) and strengthening the *natural* family by undermining the rights of LGBTQ families, regardless of how they try to spin it. It is 2020, sir, and women do not have to stay in the fucking kitchen and the gays do not need to hide in the shadows. Families have unique structures across a broad spectrum, and you need to either get on board with that or remove yourself from public office. On top of all of this, the groups represented in these meetings are nationalist parties that do not support immigration or the integration of other cultures.

As an educator, our role is to make education and resources available to every single child in this province.  We have a responsibility to acknowledge the diversity within our communities and be sensitive to them.

To have the person in the highest office of education in Manitoba having conversations that include thoughts that education should not primarily be a “state activity” is in direct contradiction to the office he holds and the job he is supposed to do.

While I believe supporting families who choose to homeschool is important, and would encourage the province to do so, undermining the public school system that you are supposed to be overseeing is an abuse of power and a completely inappropriate pushing of one’s personal value and belief system. Imagine what the reaction would be if a Muslim politician was pushing their values, laws and traditions into our public education system based on their faith? It would alienate them from a large part of the people they are supposed to be representing and would absolutely not be tolerated.  Why would one doing so the same thing as a Christian politician be any more appropriate?

In addition to all of this ^^^ dickery, the presented idea that homeschool is ideal because it will save the province $6,000-$8,000 per child per year is typical Conservative bottom dollar bullshit that would be at the expense of underserved and underrepresented populations.  Not to mention once again, the blatant undervaluation of teachers in this province-but that is nothing new from the Pallister government.  Maybe the fact that Pallister himself couldn’t cut it as a teacher has made him spiteful of those who are successful in their roles and responsibilities in young people’s lives, and therefore not interested in supporting it with his full interest.

The viewpoints presented at this meeting did not take into account households where both parents have to work to make ends meet- literally every middle and working class family in Manitoba. It excluded consideration for single parents. It excluded the voices of those from other cultural backgrounds, as the Global Home Education Exchange confirmed they do not have a single representative on their board representing diverse faiths and cultures. No Muslims, no Hindus, no Jews, no Atheists. If something is to become the mainstream of a publicly funded system, it needs to consider all of these voices, be accessible and attainable to everyone, and be open to asking for and receiving input from the diverse communities that represent this province.

If you want to be a representative of the people, Mr. Goertzen, you have to remember that those who come from different backgrounds than you or different faiths also have a voice.  While supporting homeschool families is definitely part of your job, trying to push your extreme right wing agenda based on your personal belief system that includes the typical dismissal of anyone who isn’t you is not. Meeting with people known to want to undermine our education system in favour of their personal agendas or desire to save money is a dick move, and you know it.





If We Want to Support Change, First We Need to Learn How to Listen

hands in front of white and black background

Photo by Matheus Viana on Pexels.com

As a musician, my job is to listen.  When a student or a colleague plays something for me, my job is to hear what they are saying and then help them either refine their skills to be able to communicate more effectively, or to respond in a way that compliments and contributes to what I heard.  Playing music with other people is a beautiful dance that requires an open ear and mind and willingness to try new things. Harmonies occur when two or more different but complimentary ideas or parts come together and blend perfectly for a cohesive song that works for everyone.  As a musician or artist, our job is to help you understand what we are feeling in a way that is non threatening and easy to hear.  Our other job is to help you feel things that maybe you didn’t know you should.  Your job as the audience is to receive our message and allow those feelings to exist.

So what, right?  What relevance does any artist have in this whole mess that is happening in our world right now?

Art gives you the ability to really hear what others are saying.  It makes you sensitive to the melodies of others, and gives you the tools to respond in a way that benefits you all.  It creates a conversation that must be harmonious in order to occur, even when the thoughts seem to be different.

Right now, in a world so polarized we as humans are lacking in the most important skill of all:

To listen for the purpose of hearing.  To listen with the purpose of understanding. 

Right now, it doesn’t seem to matter what someone says, we always seems to be to responding with the sole purpose of telling them why they are wrong.

It’s fucking frustrating.

Person of Colour:    We are afraid. We are tired. We are human. We are equal.

Response: You are overreacting because of 4 bad cops. These riots aren’t real.  Your feelings don’t matter.  It’s actually ok, systemic racism doesn’t exist it’s just because you’re all poor.  (or whatever other bullshit is being slung)

If we listened and internalised what folks are telling us about their lives and experiences, and for one second believed that maybe they are the only experts on their experiences, maybe it would humble us enough to create meaningful change.

If you are in a relationship and your partner has done something to hurt you, even unintentionally, and you tell them how you feel- and their response is founded on the sole purpose of discrediting your feelings, how would you feel?  Angry?  Frustrated?  Betrayed? If they went further and created a new narrative where you are somehow at fault for the way you feel, and they feel justified in their behaviour, would you feel safe?  Could you trust them? This is what we are doing every time we ignore or discredit a person of colour when they tell us what it’s like to be them.

If we want harmony, we need to first learn how to listen.  If we want change, we need to hear.

Beethoven said that music can change the world.  Maybe it can, if we let it.




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