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Archive for April, 2010

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Cockroaches

Friday, April 30th, 2010

Quite often when I am asked to speak to a group about motivation or working through adversity, I start off my speech the same way. I ask everyone in the room to close their eyes and promise not to open them. Then I tell them that I am going to ask them a series of questions and if they can answer yes to the question they are to raise their hand knowing that everyone else in the room has their eyes closed too and can’t see their answer. Then the questions start.

Have you ever watched a family member suffer with and die from a terminal disease? 

Have you ever had to explain the death of a parent to your children?

Have you ever had to deal with infidelity? Domestic Abuse?

 Have you ever been diagnosed with a mental illness?

Have you ever had to wonder where you were going to spend the night because you had no money and no where to go?  

Have you ever lost someone you loved to  suicide? 

Have you ever wondered if you were going to get beaten when you got home?

Have you ever gone to bed hungry because there just wasn’t any food?  

Have you ever had to cope with sexual abuse or abuse of any kind when you were a child?   

Have you ever seriously attempted suicide because you thought the world would really be better off without you?

Have you ever been abandoned by a parent? 

Have you ever watched your child in the hospital – not knowing if they were going to live or not?

Have you ever been raped?

Have you ever been a single parent, working and going to school with no help physically or financially?

Have you ever been institutionalized?

Have you or your spouse ever had a miscarriage?

Have you ever watched someone die violently?

Have you ever had to choose between paying rent or feeding your child?

Have you ever had to bury a spouse?

Have you ever been told you could never have children naturally?

Have you ever been addicted to a drug of any kind?

Sometimes I ask all the questions – sometimes only a few depending on the crowd but they never vary much. Then I ask everyone to put their hands down and open their eyes. I ask them to think seriously about the questions that they did say yes too and then keep in mind for the rest of the conference that I said yes to all of them. Every single one.

The reason I tell people these things isn’t for sympathy or pity – those are two things I don’t want, don’t need and don’t ever give – I am open about my history in order for people to understand where I have come from and how I have gotten to where I am without sitting locked up in a padded room in a white jacket babbling to myself. I think it is important for people to know who it is that is trying to motivate them or else we all tend to revert to the same train of thought when we see someone sharing secrets of success… “Oh sure, that’s easy for YOU to say but you don’t know what I have to deal with…” You know we do it – we all do it, even me.

I have never once thought that there was no one in the world worse off than me – I actually tend to see myself as quite lucky because I know how dark and ugly the world can be and I know that I escaped suffering the worst of it and other weren’t so fortunate. Not that it has been easier – it hasn’t even been close to that – but as you overcome one obstacle and put some distance between you and it – you start to see it for what it was and not what it seemed while you were encompassed in it. So often we are suffocated by a situation we can’t see past it – we lose all perspective, all positivity and start thinking that there is nothing else BUT the problem when really, no matter how big it may be – it is just one part of us, one part of our lives that will eventually make us a stronger person. I know now that ‘What doesn’t kill us, makes us stronger.’ NOW I know that – I didn’t always and their were times in my life I thought my problem or my situation was really going to kill me – other times, I prayed that it would.

And yet here I am. 35 years old, newly married to an amazing man who knows everything there is to know about me, knew it before we even met and still chose to marry me ;), I have two amazing kids – a 16 year old son that I raised on my own starting at 19 – working my way through school while supporting the both of us with no family support of any kind and a 4 year old daughter conceived through IVF after I discovered in 2001 that I would never be able to conceive naturally again after an incredibly brutal miscarriage. Is life perfect?? Not at all. But I know from experience that things could be a lot worse and I am so thankful for what I have today and that I have the ability to see the gifts in my life because I have something to compare it to.

There are hardships to having a life like mine of course – scars that are both physical and emotional that I can’t always hide when I want to and have to battle with sometimes daily, but their are also great benefits. I watch others who seem almost paralyzed with problems that compared to the ones I have overcome seem trivial – I know they aren’t to them, but to mean they often seem silly and I am grateful for the inner strength I have achieved knowing that no matter what happens to me, I can and always will survive it. An old friend used to tell me that I had the survival instincts of a cockroach – I used to think it was an insult but now looking back with a few more years between now and then, I know better.

I do have the survival instincts of a cockroach and I am so very very happy that I do because no matter what obstacles come my way, I know I will overcome and outlast them – I have done it before and I will do it again and again and again for as long as I need to. When something bad does happen – like our failed IVF attempt this month 🙁 – I give myself a day or two to say ‘Why me! Haven’t I suffered enough?’ I shake my firsts at the fates, I rant, I rave and I cry. But then like a cockroach that’s been stepped on – I pick myself back up and say “Why me? Because I am strong enough to handle it and the next person may not have been” and I carry on.

Everything happens for a reason and I know that if I can spare just one person an iota of the pain I suffered in my journey from there to here, than everything I have endured will have served its purpose.

Posted in Mental Health, Uncategorized | 38 Comments »

Politically Correct

Friday, April 23rd, 2010

Did you know that the majority of Canadians feel that health care is or should be the government’s top priority during its administration both on a provincial and federal level? Did you also know that over 30% of health care costs come from preventable illness and diseases DIRECTLY related to obesity?

And yet it is considered rude or politically incorrect to say anything about it to the offenders themselves. When you see an obese child eating a big-mac and some fries – what thoughts cross your mind? What do you think when you see a morbidly obese person walking down the street eating a bag of chips? Do you say what you are thinking? Of course not! None of us do because it would be bad manners and we don’t want to hurt any one’s feelings.

And that silent acceptance has turned what was once an anomaly into a health care crisis of epidemic proportions. It is now a litigious offense to not allow access to a restaurant, theater or mode of transportation to anyoo  based on their size, even if they don’t fit! You can’t dare charge someone for two seats on a plane – even if they take up three – for fear of being sued. Suddenly everyone has become so politically correct andafraid to offend that no ne is willing to stand up and say that this is not acceptable! It costs billions of dollars in health care – taking away funding for people suffering from unpreventable illness, it is destroying the health of our country as a whole and is slowly killing our children. No oneeven seemed to blink when they changed the name of ‘Adult-Onset Diabetes’ to ‘Type-2 Diabetes’ because so many children were being afflicted with the lifestyle-related disease, something that was unheard of 30 years ago! We demand more funding for health care, more money for phys-ed classes, more money for everything and yet the solution doesn’t lie with the government or with more funding (never has more money been spent on health care that it has in the past decade and yet it isn’t nearly enough), the solutions lies as it always does – at the root of the problem.

Everyone knows that the less junk you eat and the ore you exercise, the healthy you are. Everyone knows that a carrot is a better snack than a doughnut and that 1 hour of baseball is healthier than 1 hour of x-box any day of the week – even children know that. The problem isn’t with getting people to understand what is right and healthy for them and their children, they know. The problem is getting them to do it! All of the pay off – all of the short-term rewards in society (at least where healthy lifestyles are concerned) come from doing the wrong thing. Fast food is easier. Video games make great babysitters. Sports are more expensive than TV. Pizza pops are an easier lunch than a sandwich when you are pressed for time to get out the door in the morning. And it is just easier to give in to a demand for Pepsi when you know water, juice or milk is really what they and you should have… Short term gain for long term pain.

It is so much easier to concentrate on those short term pay-offs than to deal with the alternatives and put energy and effort into doing the right things because well sometimes they are hard. No mother likes to hear her child cry, and it is so hard not stick to broccoli when they are screaming for french fries. It is so hard to go for a walk after dinner when you have worked all day than it is to sit and watch TV. And lets face it, planning andpaying for healthy snacks is much more difficult than opening up a bag of chips. I understand it – I really do! It is even more difficult when it’s all you have ever known and you try to change – even your body betrays you buy craving the fat andsalt you have grown it accustomed too! If you find it hard to say no – imagine how hard it will be for your children in 20 years when the word has been completely foreign to them their entire lives. Children live what they learn and they will follow in your footsteps.

So if people know the right thing to do but choose to do the wrong thing anyway – how do we as a society change that? Some may even be asking – Should we? Well, when it came time to change the way that the Country viewed smoking, we sure did think that society had a right and even an obligation to get involved in people’s personal choices and what they did with their bodies – because it affected society as a whole. that is the point of a democracy – to do what is best for the majority and look at what that attitude has done in the past 10 years on that front. No more smoking in public places – rules where you can smoke outside andincreased taxes on cigarettes to discourage the practice even more. we have also all heard stories of smokers being denied government-funded surgeries or treatments because they refused to quit. Has it worked? Look around next time you go out for dinner or for a few drinks – smokers used to be the majority because it was the popular thing to do and totally acceptable – that is no more. Some will argue that these laws an policies interfere with individual rights and you know what – I agree, they do and they should! Because when individual choices negatively affect society as a whole, they need to be taken away.

Perhaps these types of incentives are needed to get people to see obesity in a different light – not as an individual freedom, but as a problem that affects society as a whole. Perhaps if we weren’t so afraid of offending people andstood our ground saying that this behaviour is NOT acceptable, we would start to see a change. If you take up two seats, you pay for two. If you can’t fit – you don’t go. If you refuse to change lifestyle you lose free health care for those related illnesses. What is obesity was no longer considered a disability? What if we started referring obese children to Child and Family Services for intervention and home studies? What if we started seeing it for what it is, a choice? Would that change the attitude people have towards solving the problem? Health care is free, mental health is free,  dietitians are free – in Canada there is no excuse for not taking charge and being responsible for your own choices. There is so much help available – so many people willing to help that we can stop this epidemic and change the way our country is growing – giving us and our children a chance at a healthy and happy future. Isn’t that what we all what?

***the definition of obesity is being at least 20% over ideal weight as determined by body fat percentage or body mass index***

Posted in Diet Therapy, Weight Loss | 86 Comments »

The power of Yoda

Wednesday, April 21st, 2010

A few years ago there was a media frenzy and almost a cult following started over an amazing book entitled, ‘The Secret’ – remember it? I do. I read it cover to cover. Well actually I didn’t, I bought it on CD and listened to it disc-to-disc as I drove from appointment to appointment building my direct selling business. Like everyone else who gravitated toward it, I was looking for some magical key that would unlock the door to untold happiness and an abundance of wealth.

What I found was actually pretty disappointing. Well I wasn’t so much disappointed as I was jealous because here was a woman who made millions almost overnight by publishing a book telling people to do what I had learned to do in my therapist’s office for free! Talk about hindsight being 20-20! I could have cashed in just by sharing what I had learned – well not share it, but sell it! The power of positive thinking. That was the magic key that made Rhonda Byrne and her publishers rich and famous. That was it – positive thinking!

You don’t need to invest your time and money in learning how to accomplish your goals and gain the riches that you seek, I will tell you how right here and right now and I will tell you how – for FREE! All you have to do is believe. Believe not in the power of your ability to pick the right lottery numbers but in your ability to overcome and learn from all of the obstacles that are put in your path as you try to get to where you want to be.

Everyone has challenges, everyone has obstacles and every single person stumbles and falls. The difference between those who reach their goals and those that don’t are that the ones who succeed are the ones who get back up again, dust themselves off and keep going. Those that don’t – well, they stay down complain about their situation, shake their fist at the obstacle – blaming it for everything that has gone wrong in their lives and even try to stop those walking the same path from continuing by warning them of them obstacles and ensuring them that they won’t be able to go any further either. Those that stop and wallow with them never succeed either – hence the phase, ‘Misery loves Company.”

I am not a woman of religion, I have issues believing in a single entity that fits any known organizations description of who and what God is, but I do have faith in a higher power, not as a single being but as a force – maybe it is the Universe that Rhonda Byrne speaks about in her book, but I have never bothered trying to name it. Often I will make jokes to people about keeping their negativity quiet because ‘the fates are listening’ and what they take in jest, I mean with every fiber of my heart. the fates ARE listening. We also call them self-fulfilling prophecies (accuse your husband of being unfaithful every single day when he’s not – eventually, he will be) or better yet ‘What you think about you bring about’. That is my religion – my faith, the power each one of us has within ourselves to succeed or stop try trying based on what we think and say to and about ourselves.

In my personal and professional life, I encounter women (and men) every single day that are looking for advice, guidance, or even just a shoulder to cry on and I try my best to accommodate every request. I can teach policy, I can teach procedure, I can tell people what I think they need to do and how I think they should do it based on my education and experience but I cannot do it for them and as long as they keep saying the all-impotent ‘I CAN’T’ well – they just won’t. No matter what and to me that is the saddest part of doing what I do. Watching people give up on themselves or even worse, not even bother to try at all – just staying n the dirt shaking their fist at circumstance and not realizing that they are the ones giving their problems all of the power to keep them down.

I don’t believe in failure. I believe that people quit before succeeding – they don’t fail, they give up. In the wise words of yoda…”Do or Don’t Do. There is no try.”

Now those are words to live by!

 

Posted in Mental Health | 35 Comments »

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