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I received a letter home from school last week. In this letter I was asked to support a protest against Manitoba’s new Anti Bullying legislation. I cannot be quiet on this subject. It is too important and I HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY!

This letter was sent today;

Mr. Principal,

I am writing to you to express concern over your stance on Bill 18. I get the feeling that you are focusing on the same small point in the bill that the church in Steinbach is, based on your sentence “Bill 18 also has the potential to compromise religious freedom for independent schools by requiring us to promote values that contradict our statement of faith.” My concern is that you are acting as a poor example by not accepting that LGBT people are equal in the eyes of God and society.

Religious freedom should not be used as an excuse to promote hatred or intolerance. I believe that God also loves the members of my family that are gay and lesbian.

I have re-registered our son for the next year as I do believe that the positives in the school outweigh the negatives, but we are having ongoing talks with him regarding the differences between FACTS and OPINIONS. I would ask you to keep your opinions to yourself that some members of his family are not valued in the same way that his more “acceptable” relatives are.

You encourage me, in the letter to visit a website (protectourschools.ca) that states that my “values and beliefs are in direct contradiction to the teachings” of the school, simply because I choose not to exclude people in my life based on who they love. I would argue that who you love is no concern to God, only that you respect yourself and others. Obviously I would not try to change your OPINION on this, but I will also ask you to respect the FACT that even in communities of faith there are LGBT people who are worthy of love and respect.

How you judge people in your heart must not be presented as fact to our children. To do so teaches our children to hate, and there is enough of that in this world without our children being taught it in school. I chose our school because of it’s message of love and the difference I felt in the school from the punishing view of religion that is in my Mennonite heritage.

From reading in the news, the problem that religious schools have with Bill 18 seems to stem from an unnatural focus on the sexuality of students. What is not reported is that the bill is to protect everyone;

Regard for principles of human rights

41(1.7) In preparing its respect for human diversity policy, a school board must have due regard for the principles of The Human Rights Code.

Student activities and organizations

41(1.8) A respect from human diversity policy must accommodate pupils who want to establish and lead activities and organizations that

(a) promote

(i) gender equity,

(ii) antiracism,

(iii) the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people who are disabled by barriers, or

(iv) the awareness and understanding of, and respect for, people of all sexual orientations and gender identities; and

(b) use the name “gay-straight alliance” or any other name that is consistent with the promotion of a positive school environment that is inclusive and accepting of all pupils.

The above quote from the bill is what is being discussed, but only because they chose to use “gay-straight alliance” instead of using “able-disabled alliance” or “black-white-yellow-red alliance”. Those other potential groups sound pointless and ridiculous, as hating people for their disability or the colour of their skin are unthinkable in my world, as should be judging people for who they choose to spend their lives loving. The only people making the bill into a “gay issue” is the church.

I was bullied mercilessly in school. It had nothing to do with the colour of my skin or my sexual orientation. I have scars over scars on my knees and legs from being pushed down over and over again. I carry the emotional scars of a decade of misery in the public school system.

I was so proud of our school when, in the first week of Kindergarten our son was chased into the washroom by a bully and the principal ran right in there and stopped the child from scaring my son.

I am not proud of the fact that you are now trying to stand in the way of important legislation that can protect our children at a time of their lives when they are so vulnerable and their sense of self-worth is being shaped and set.

I am cc’ing this letter to the School Board as well as Matt Wiebe, our MLA to let them know my strong feelings on this issue.

Again, I please beg you to be aware of the difference between Facts and Opinions when our children are entrusted into your hands.

Shawna Taubner

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Apparently, I have issues.

SURPRISE!

Hmph, I can’t shock anyone with that news.  Either I’m a bad secret keeper, or you are very intuitive.

Well, how about this.  Next week I meet with my brand-spankin-new mental heath practitioner.  Yup, the crazy lady finally gets a psychiatrist.  I got a referral from my GP in January (I wasn’t dealing with stuff too well then) and, being that we have supercalifragilisticexpialidotious health care here in Canada I waited until the end of June to see someone in that department to do an evaluation on my brain.

After an hour of some pretty basic questions, me being brutally honest about the relationship between me & my mother and the fiasco that was my first marriage, she told me that it was not a surprise that I had a problem dealing with things because I was an, and I quote, “textbook case of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder”.  hmmmm, you mean that thing that soldiers get?  I’m not a soldier. You must have me confused with someone else.

Well, lets look at the symptoms, taken from the resource page at the wonderful Band Back Together.

Symptoms

PTSD sufferers re-experience the stressful or traumatic event in some way (nightmares, intrusive thoughts, flashbacks), tend to avoid places, people, or other things that remind them of the event (avoidance), and are exquisitely sensitive to normal life experiences (hyper-arousal, which may show up as being easily startled, emotional outbursts, and/or tension).  PTSD can negatively impact everyday functioning in work and at home, as it often disrupts the normal course of a person’s day and makes it difficult to sleep, eat, or focus on a task.

Hmmmm, nightmares? Check.  Flashbacks? Check.  Avoidance?  I’m pretty sure my son has only had one item of clothing that was camouflage, and I did NOT buy it for him.  Check.  Emotional outbursts? Check!  Tension?  DOUBLE check!  Difficulty sleeping? Boy-Howdy! Checkerooni big fella!

As far as normal life experiences go, do you have any idea how fucking unsettling it is to find out time and time again that what you have experienced is not by any means normal?  I found out a few years ago that having a headache Every. Single. Day. is not normal.  Now I find out that my little “episodes” are actually panic attacks.  Fucking labels.  I’ve read about these, given virtual hugs to other bloggers who have reached out and not judged anyone.

So why am I judging myself?

So now I have that appointment next week to find out about Cognitive Behavioral Therapy.  You know, like on those TV shows about the people with OCD.  It works for them, they’re sick.  But I’m judging myself again for being “weak”.

Hmph

A Sad Anniversary

OK, I need to get off my lazy butt and do some blogging.  This will be a sad one,I will cry and curse, but I promise it will get better from here. (well, maybe not the cursing)

2 years ago today we lost my Dad to that bitch brain cancer.  We had so little warning, he tried fighting, but it was just too aggressive.  We found out about it in January ’09 and he was gone in July.  He had a biopsy the day before his 65th birthday.  His gift? A diagnosis of Stage 4 Glioblastoma multiforme primary brain cancer.  The bad one. In a bad spot. Inoperable.

But Dad would fight it right?  Chemo, radiation, prayer, diet, he’s a fighter, a winner. Nothing can keep my Daddy down for long! Except this….fuck.

Chemo bloated him up so bad he didn’t fit any of his clothes. Radiation made him so sensitive to the sun that it kept him cooped up inside, a place he never really spent to much time.  Exhausted all the time, having to rely on people to do things for him didn’t sit well.  HE was the one who helped people, HE was the one you could call to lend a hand, pull your tractor out of the mud, HE could fix anything with duct tape and a toggle switch. Except this.

He went into the hospital in April, and never got to go back home except for a couple of short visits.  Instead, the world came to him.  When you have touched so many peoples lives, they come see you. Once Dad was settled into the hospital in a small city near his hometown I don’t think he had a single day without at least one visitor.  Mom had a brilliant idea and set up a guestbook.  At first it told us who came to see him, and at the end we could remind him who had come by.  That was hard, knowing that he was always lonely because no matter how many people were there, as soon as they left, he was alone, always had been alone and always will be.  The nurses got called so many times because he forgot he had just talked to them.  His long-term memory and storytelling abilities were still there, but new memories just didn’t stick.

He was still in good humour most of the time, flirting with the nurses, who came to adore him just as much as everyone did. He never lost his charm, never forgot to give someone a chocolate.  (the whole hospital knew him as the Chocolate King). Chocolate, and all sugar really is the worst thing you can give to someone with cancer because it feeds on it, but by then we knew that he was not going to beat this, so why would we deny him his favourite thing in the world just to delay the inevitable?  The Doctors agreed with us, it helped his mood more than it hurt his body.

It got harder to follow his thought processes. When the hallucinations started it became a real challenge.  He spent a whole night terrified because his window blew up.  It was so real to him that he could feel the wind and the cold coming in.  The strange thing was, he never really complained.  The window was “fixed” by morning, and he was happy, but he was very matter of fact about it.  We could not convince him that it was never broken because he knew what he saw and to him it was very real.  Then came the mice.  Need I say again that Cancer is a bitch? He asked a nurse if they wouldn’t mind moving him to a room with less mice. (that one actually made me laugh because he didn’t ask for a room with NO mice, just less) My husband became the designated mouse killer. He alone seemed to have the power to keep them at bay. When we were there at meal time he could keep them off the tray long enough for Dad to eat, but then they swarmed right back on again. It became hard for him to eat, he told me his tray looked like a killing floor. Again though, these visions of mice never really upset him, he never questioned why they were there.

We knew from experience that the hallucinations were a sign that the end was near.  My cousin experienced the same thing with her brain cancer. She was only 29 when the bitch took her away from her husband and young son. That makes me lucky. I got to have my Dad around a whole lot longer.

I was also lucky enough to be there for his last words and his last breath. They came 4 days apart and that was a long vigil, but he was surrounded by love the whole time.  Through his death I have seen things with new eyes. I have started to reestablish a relationship with my mother and started working on fixing myself. I love you Dad, thanks.

I’m done my rambling now, thanks for listening.

Oh and P.S. Fuck you cancer, you are Bullshit!

I sit here now in my big pink fluffy robe that my son picked out for Mother’s Day many moons ago.  Dear Husband was trying to show our Bug the pretty, silky lounging pajamas he knew I would like, but no. Bug had his entire body snuggled in the rack of long, soft fuzzy robes that he declared “feel just like Doggiebaby!”  That was it, one pink fuzzy robe please!

Doggiebaby was a gift from a great Aunt he hadn’t yet met, but in the future will grow to love.  She gave it to him for his first Christmas.  Being a late October baby, Doggiebaby pretty much started life with him.  He was always the most beloved of the bed-buddies and sleep would never be a choice without him.

That he wanted his mommy wrapped up in “Doggiebaby Love” with this robe was an act that he unquestionably understood Mother’s Day, even at 3, or 4, whichever year it was.  He wanted to pass on the safety and security of his buddy to Mommy.

By now, the robe isn’t as fluffy anymore, and neither is Doggiebaby.  They’ve both gone through many wash cycles, been thrown up on, cried on, snuggled with and are still reliable Sunday morning companions.  Doggiebaby is the Velveteen Rabbit, but Bug hasn’t discarded him and forgotten his magic.  He just stays around, in his custom made bed beside Bug’s big one, knowing that every so often, even an 11 year old boy needs to reach out to old comfortable safety.

But that isn’t what I started out to write?!  I guess the thought of having a new baby coming into our family of friends has me going all mushy and remebery (it’s a word if I say it is!).  Playing with the girls yesterday (can’t call them “the babies” at 2 & 3 anymore) and hearing a wonderful pregnancy announcement makes me want to take that Bug of mine, big boy that he his, and wrap him in my Doggiebaby robe and sing;

I’ll love you forever,

I’ll like you for always,

As long as I’m living

my baby you’ll be.

Thanks Robert Munsch, the book Love You Forever is the tune of my life…


The big one on the right is Junior.  The small, overly loved one is Doggiebaby.  They started out in the Ty factory the same size and colour, so you can see the Velveteen Rabbit effect on the original one.

I think that before somebody opens a restaurant, such as Pink Taco, they should stop for a moment and ask….”Does this sound dirty to you?” Because, YES IT DOES!.  As a matter of fact, I think they did ask that question and, you guessed it, went with it anyways.  I’m hoping that I’m never asked by my child “Mommy, can we have Pink Taco tonight?”

I’ll leave that till he’s older…

Post Rapture

I’m tempted to get all serious and misty-eyed today, but I need to comment on the Rapture, a-la Harold Camping. In case you haven’t been following, he predicted the Rapture in 1994, and was wrong.  He then set May 21, 2011 as the true date, citing a mathematical error the first time.  People have suffered for this man’s false prophesies and people have made money over them.

Sign companies happily took gobs of cash in exchange for signs being placed all over north America,   I heard on HLN that there is a retiree  in New York who spent $140,000.00 of his retirement money to warn people to repent.  I think a sandwich-board and a guy on a street corner is just about as effective.  Now what for this guy?  Will Harold Camping be buying groceries for him because the math was off again?

Then there’s what happens to our darling pets.  Apparently,  even though the movies lead us to believe that All Dogs Go To Heaven some people would like us to pay them to hedge our bets.  Eternal Earth-Bound Pets will gleefully rake in money from the *true believers*.

Harold Camping, you’re a jerk.  Stop playing with peoples emotions.  You have made a joke of yourself, please just set these poor people free of your manipulating grip and retire.  Maybe to the old Heaven’s Gate mansion.  I wonder if it’s for sale?

On the other hand, maybe it happened.  Maybe none of us were good enough and life goes on, as it was then, as it is now, as it ever shall be…

Love & Martinis!

You can never have too much rope!

When I think of it, this is one of the wisest sayings my dad had. It’s kind of like the boy-scouts saying “Always be prepared.” I know I’m not always prepared, and sometimes I feel like I’m at the end of my rope, but I’ve managed to always have someone there to catch me when I fall and pick me up & dust me off when I trip.
I surround myself with friends who have become family and family who have become friends. I want to tell my stories, my dad’s stories and have a forum to share my view on the world.
You may want to look away, because my perspective is a little skewed. I want to do a regular feature called “Does this sound dirty to you?” because everything always sounds dirty to me!
Join me as I find my blogging voice and hopefully it will come out as well as my speaking voice, which never seems to stop.