I’ve got your back

I have always believed that books find me.  You know when you are searching through stacks of books at a library or when you have a list of authors and the book  you want is not on the shelf?  But hey,! your eyes are drawn to the title or the book jacket of the book next to where your find should have been.  You take out the book, read a bit about the author, perhaps a snippet about the novel and you bring it home. You discover you truly enjoy this author and you read several of his or her published works. You have made a new friend, the characters in the book are a part of your life for a little while.  Has that ever happened to you?

I find that happens with people too.  Some people come into your life because you were meant to meet…there is a reason, a purpose. Years ago when I was completing my internship as a Family Life Educator, I became closer with my supervisor and my mentor.  My mentor became a good friend, a confidante and spiritual guide in many ways.  I aspired to be like her…if only a tiny morsel of her some day.  She was a very compassionate person.

When I completed my internship, I was hired on contract to continue offering life skill workshops for the rest year at this community clinic. My friend and mentor, had worked as a Family Life Educator at a private school on the hill of our beautiful city, for almost 10 years.  She wanted to take a sabbatical and complete her degree in English Literature. (I never saw the relationship with writing and English there too considering how much I have turned to writing in the past year.)   She asked me if I would replace her at the school and she would recommend me to the headmistress for an interview.

I was so excited.  I had returned to university as a mature student, graduating in a less conventional degree than our province was familiar in the francophone community, so finding work, I was aware, would be a bit of a challenge.  So many institutions were not familiar with the intensive and comprehensive programme our department that Applied Social and Human Sciences offered students especially with our rigorous applied characteristic. We had to apply much of our learning to ourselves, be in counselling if we wanted to pursue counselling courses and to take our learning to a higher level and an option to take part in the internship and be certified.  But, all this hard work was not known, hence not recognized  in our province. This opportunity D was offering me was a godsend!  A great way to improve on my skills as well as get experience.  So I said, yes.

A few weeks later, I had an appointment for the interview.  I was so nervous. I had let my punk shaved head hairdo grow out a bit and it was now a more natural colour (did away with the orange or purple) and dark blonde on a short bob looked just right.  I wore a long skirt and blazer with pumps (not time to wear my comfy Doc Martens) and arrived twenty minutes before my scheduled time.  I was so impressed driving up Mount Pleasant in my humble Renaud V…up, up, up, the steep hill avoiding the rear-view mirror as I would visualize my car flipping over backwards.  The houses around this school were like being somewhere in England with the old and beautiful  stone houses; they were spectacular!

I sat quietly across the secretary’s desk. She had a nice warm smile. I sat and admired the woodwork on the walls, the dark stained molding and started to get a bit nervous.  I decided to freshen up before the interview. The washroom was just in front of the secretary’s desk.   Final check in the mirror, lipstick applied, hair in place, I went to take my seat and waited again.  The secretary got a buzz, and that was the headmistress calling me into her office. I thanked her and turned around to walk into the office when the secretary called me softly, “Um, you may want to adjust your skirt a bit before going in Madame G’s office.”  I place my the palm of my hand along my hips to smooth my skirt and as I reach the back I feel a huge bulge! My eyes widen, my face turns white, then beet red…At that moment I quickly turn facing the secretary still wide-eyed and tug my skirt out of my pantyhose so quickly…no one could have noticed except Ms. S and me. Phew! I just exhaled in a loud whisper, “Thank  you” with pleading eyes and went into the office.

I got the position and taught social skills and sex ed.  there for five years and Ms. S will forever be my friend and saviour…her offering that very first day, to me was like hearing, “I’ve got your back!” in more ways than one {smiles}.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/04/04

Written for: Dungeon Prompts – Season 2, Week 14: Entertain with the Mundane

Inspired too reach out (haibun)

We Drink Poetry Inspiration – Prompt #012 What Inspires You

This is not poetic in nature, and to call it a free verse is using the term loosely. However, I wanted to share where my writing all began at Alecoute-Ntouch, a site informing folks of workshops I was offering on life skills and professional and personal development. But then I got acquainted with WordPress and the world of blogging and discovered I had a lot to say too…

(haiku)

An idea simmers.
Words produce an awareness
conscious convictions.

Street Art Montreal Summer 2013
Street Art Montreal Summer 2013

I began writing to voice my thoughts
with Cher Shares, that was my first start,
voicing opinions, I sure did have a lot;
And then I was inspired by Herding Cats 
that’s when my vision shifted a tat
I got on my soap box hoping to make a dent
at Stigma Hurts Everyone I wanted to vent,
yell out to the world that which is important
to me, things just needed to be heard,
nothing exceptional because some
may even have a knack to say it better
but maybe if we shout out loudly together
our voices may be heard that much noisier.
And then Cher Shares became a comfort zone
to write a story here, there, or even a poem
And, that’s the tale of how it all started
my story of a humble love affair
of words that I write from the heart
of passion, love and sometimes conviction
that’s why I blog, where I got my inspiration.

© Cheryl-Lynn, 2014/02/25

Do you see what I feel?

PE.Harrell-Sanders_DoYouSee

Do You See What I Feel by Dana Harrell-Sanders

When I talked about you last night

it was just to write a verse.

It was fiction. No big deal! alright?

 

Why the constant striking

must there be so much throbbing

with such vengeance my way?

I was only kidding yesterday.

 

I didn’t mean anything by the poetry.

Please remove the heavy artillery!

Lower the mega equipment

Please take out the iron fists

that push, pound and torment,

beating incessantly

invoking indignation

imposing impatiently

seeking retribution

but for what?!

 

Have some compassion

let’s call it a truce

give me a meagre portion

of amnesty

please believe

I’ll never complain…

grant me some reprieve

to relieve this pain.

cease this unremitting beating

nonstop on this poor form of ail

it hurts just to breathe

I wince when I inhale

my plea is humble and pure

Please, please, JUST stop!

© Cheryl-Lynn 2014/02/10

There is hope

deadlygothicdesigns.webs.com
deadlygothicdesigns.webs.com

Despair became her friend
sadness wrapped her like a blanket
Drinking, harming her new trend;
death seemed like her only target,
woke up mornings and saw grey
looked outside and just saw clouds
Praying, hoping was her way
now the pain just screamed too loud.
had no clue that there was hope
there are people who assist
teaching different ways to cope
seeing lifelines on a list
she decides, give life a try
called a youth line late one night
realized she needn’t die
Gave life a chance, saw the light.
Sure am glad she called that night.

Don’t give up when times are bleak
Talk to someone soon this week;
if you’re scared, check a helpline
they may become your true lifeline!
They’re always open, day and night
They never close…so call, alright?

*

Check for further resources at Stop the Stigma

*

© Cheryl-Lynn, January 18, 2014

&

On January 28, let’s talk.
Bell will donate 5¢ more to mental health initiatives for every:

Text message sent*
Mobile and long distance call made*
Tweet using #BellLetsTalk
Facebook share of our Bell Let’s Talk image

*By a Bell or Bell Aliant customer only

Don’t forget, January 28th, to share those Tweets and Facebook shares will donate 5 cents…so share, share, share and so folks  talk about mental health to remove the stigma so more people, youths and adults will get help.

Bye Bye 2013!

me sideways

2013 was a busy year for me filled with surprises, many learning experiences and one huge discovery…my love for writing and I am getting better day by day!

I have written about my surprise and gratitude in receiving the Queen`s Diamond Jubilee Medal and to be able to get to Toronto to receive it with my colleagues made it all the more special and meaningful. I can`t find the words to say how grateful I am and to be among many wonderful amazing people who were also honoured that night. One woman whom I admire for her courage and her compassion is Pam.  She has suffered such a tragic loss and yet with her compassion she found the determination and the courage to go to schools to give a powerful message…there is help…suicide is not the answer and Kids Help Phone is one safe place that youths can reach out to.  Bless you, Pam, for doing what you do…you have no idea how much you have touched so many hearts. I feel privileged to have met you in person.

2013 was a difficult year in that more youths reached out with very very serious issues.  I am not sure if that means youths are struggling more OR if it means that they are finally realizing that there is a youth line that may just be able to support them.  If it is the latter, I say, good on you for the courage and trust you put in this help line.  I feel privileged being a part of this support and honoured to listening to  youths who are looking for guidance and a helping ear.

I am grateful for having 2 amazing adult children and a grandson in my life.  I know may sound mushy and a bit old to them when I get all weepy thinking how much I love them, but hey, that`s the way it is when you love your kids, right?

This past year I was fortunate winning 2 tickets to see Oprah on her grand tour with her inspirational message.  WoW!  What an experience.  I  am pleased I was able to share this with my son and that he even accepted to go with me.  I think 98% of the people there were women…so, yeah, he was pretty brave too…hehe.

After 4 years of searching for an organization to volunteer my services, I finally found a great place. Ami-Quebec which has run for 35 years is the ONLY  anglophone agency in Quebec that offers support to families and friends, counselling and peer support with those suffering with mental health conditions.  Over the years it has widened its outreach outside of Montreal by offering webinars and teleconferences so English-speaking people in areas far from Montreal can receive the same educational services.  I feel privileged to be volunteering here and to have received some enriching training as well.

Friends are family to me. Life could not be as fulfilled or enriched without these special friends both  in Quebec and in Ontario. They make me laugh and they hold me when I need to cry.  I am so grateful having them in my life.  Thank you for being in my life, merci d’en faire partie dans ma vie…vous ne pouvez savoir à quel point que votre appui me touche.

Speaking of Ontario…well, my cousin and his wife who is really like my sister and their son who is so precious and amazing and of course their parents…(my ma tante and uncle) my second mom and dad away from home give me so much and more.  Their home is like my resort where I can unwind, get pampered and just “be”…yes, I would say I come back feeling Zen!

I am grateful having the health to be able to continue working fulltime in a career that is so fulfilling and gratifying.

I have to say that the WordPress community has also touched me in so many ways. It is a support, encouraging and enlightening. I have learned and continue to learn about many issues especially mental health with my blog Stigma Hurts Everyone and reading about experiences people are generous enough to share.  Now why would I even think of going on Facebook when WordPress is feeding so many facets of my life? Oh, yeah, I know…to keep in touch with friends and to share my blog posts…yeah, that`s why.

Last but not least, my lovely feline friend who loves me unconditionally and if I don`t give her attention, she definitely lets me know!

I don`t quite believe in making New Year`s resolutions but I will TRY to walk more, would like to start Yoga again and perhaps swimming as well.  Let`s see how well I do there.  I do have a spiritual outlet however, which is writing more poetry and narratives.  Some day I may even compile some to self-publish…or at least to give to my close friends and family.

Happy New Year and wishing everyone peace and health in 2014.  Let`s get a bit more involved in the environment…that would be nice if we all did our part.

Blessings,

Cheryl-Lynn, January 2, 2014

The O’Donnell spirit

A Short story about a family struggling with poverty during the Holidays.

me sidewaysMae O’Donnell had been daydreaming, sitting in her rocker as her boys were playing a board game. She smiled fondly at her sons. She felt so fortunate that they enjoyed playing nicely. They never complained about not having computers or television. They were content just being together. Tomorrow she would bring them to the public library to get new books and stay for a few hours. There, they were allowed to get on the computer. The two youngest liked to play on-line games but Liam enjoyed doing research. He was surely to become something great someday, she thought proudly.

She went to the kitchen pantry to start dinner for her children who’d been whining to eat soon. “Come on, Mommy, we’re hungry!” the three shouted in union. The youngest of 5 years old yelled louder than the oldest of 12. Hmmm, she thought, that one takes after his grand-daddy for sure!!

She knew it was time to start scrounging for something to eat…She looked with dismay in her pantry…there was not much to rummage here, she thought. She had to go back to the welfare office to get more food vouchers. She had a can of beans, a large bag of sticky rice and half a carton of molasses (she always had enough molasses, so rich in iron and good for her growing family). This was not good indeed, she thought. What would she make for their lunches for school tomorrow? What will she do for the entire week? She did not have enough money to pay for the bus to the welfare office PLUS the food bank. She had to make a decision quick.

She cooked a big batch of rice and wondered what she would do. Then suddenly, she had an idea! She would make bean balls. She would roll up some beans in the rice and make balls. It would harden and be a great snack! She’d add molasses to the beans to make it sweet and sticky. Why that’s a grand idea! She thought hopefully.

She spread the cooked sticky rice that was on two large cookie sheets and spread the warm beans that she’d heated in a pot with molasses, sparingly to cover BOTH cookie sheets. Then she decided to have the boys participate and tell them her plan. They knew all too well that they had little money and did their best to make the best of things.

“Patrick, Liam and Sean! Come on over here and help Mommy. I need your gifted artistic hands to help me make Rice-Bean balls for school tomorrow.” They ran over to the kitchen table excited and shoulders held back pompously. They were young men helping their mom!!

They managed to roll out 60 balls. They still had not had their supper but they seemed to have forgotten how hungry they actually were. Mae boiled an onion in chicken broth and added the leftover rice…this would do for tonight, she thought.

Tomorrow the boys would sell each ball for .25 cents at school. The students often had Loonies and Toonies and the teachers liked her little special treats. That would give her at least $12.00…(she would give 4 balls to each son for their lunch and sell the remaining 48) enough to get a few things to get through the week. She could go to the corner store and get a few things to eat. Thank goodness they were part of the EMO programme with free Eggs, Milk and Oranges each week delivered on Friday mornings. At least the government did one thing right by offering healthy items for eligible families.

The boys did not complain; they were excited about their new project. Liam, the 12-year-old used to like calling his family the O’Donnell Entrepreneurs…If you need it, we’ll find a way to get it or make it.

“Mom,” Liam looked at his tired mother, “You know if we just mark “donations are appreciated”, we usually average more than .25 per item. Do you want me to do that?
His mother looked proudly at his son who was already 5 inches taller than her. “Maybe another time, Liam, honey. I don’t want to take a gamble on the generosity of folks this week. We need at least $12 to get through the week. Is that okay by you, son?” He nodded and went off to bed.

She finished washing the last of the dishes and got out her notebook to write in her journal. She wrote for a few hours. She yawned, “Time for bed now.” But she added one more line before turning in, Please, Great Spirit, make it that we get a nice surprise for Christmas, so the food bank will spare at least a small chicken for our dinner. Thank you for blessing me with the finest lads in the county!, Mae O’Donnell, December 17, 2013.

The holidays have their highs and lows for most folks. During this season, think of giving a little extra for your local shelter or food bank. This year our office surprisingly doubled their collection of non-perishable food and toys. Just think about it…if everyone gave a little extra, that would fill a few tummies for sure.

Give just a little, it’s better than naught
look at a homeless person this week in the eye and smile…
even if you don’t have money that particular day,
that’s okay,… just don’t turn away…
they’re also actually human by the way;
if you do have something to spare, then
don’t just throw the money their way…
look at the person and wish him/her a good day.
It does make a difference to be treated with dignity.
And trust me, you’ll feel better too!

Happy Holidays

© Cheryl-Lynn, December 17, 2013

Inventory completed

me oct 23 2012November and December are often inventory months for many businesses. Retail stores are usually end of December and probably why Boxing Day is useful for any commerce. For many December 31st is also a time to take stalk of the past year and what you have done or not done.

This week was my Spring Cleaning or Inventory of posts on Stigma Hurts Everyone and transferring some back to Cher Shares. I had pondered for months on placing all my posts under Stigma but somehow it just felt…I don’t know…not right (guess I have to keep practicing writing since I seem to have difficulty find the right word to express myself sometimes.)

So for readers who have followed me on both blogs, I apologize for the repetition of posts you have read before and being notified that there was a “new post”…sorry for the inconvenience. And for followers of Cher Shares, well, I’m happy to have put my writing up to date.

It would have been much quicker if my computer were not so slow. I tell ya since my laptop came back from summer camp…I mean, servicing…it took them one month, by the way, and not one week. They changed the hard drive so you would think with an almost brand new computer, it would function better. No sireeee, it is slow, slow, slow. Maybe it is on it’s last legs. Maybe the hard drive replacement is like when we get older and have a knee or hip replaclement…it does finally have an expiration date. (sigh) So just in case, I have equipped myself with a Surface 2 Tablet …my second child…{goofy smile}

Cheryl-Lynn 

3 years of Blogging already!!

I had not realized I started with WordPress 3 years already!  I first started with Alecoute-Ntouch   then graduated to Stop The Stigma   then Cher Shares

Ultimately I started with Ntouch to market my workshops and then I wanted to share my thoughts with chershares.  And finally it was really last year that I seriously put more effort in blogging on Stop the Stigma.

How fortunate it is to have a great community like WordPress. We have technical support for free, a community of creative writers and bloggers but mostly, I have noticed a wealth of caring and devoted people here. So to get this nice WP wish in my notifications tonight was truly a warm fuzzy blanket I could wrap myself in.  Thanks WordPress!

You registered on WordPress.com 3 years ago!

Thanks for flying with us. Keep up the good blogging!

 

The good, the bad and the ugly.

 

This week’s Dungeon Prompt Week #10 is:  

Entitlement Ideology – Making Up the Rules as We Go (running from October 17 – October 23)

 

Gov.t ordered to turn over residential school file

Photograph courtesy of The Canadian Press

This exercise prompted me to look at the Good, the Bad and The Ugly of entitlement. This first part is the Bad and the Ugly, the last piece starts as Good and then, it all goes to interpretation, I suppose.

“As to the Indians, the guiding principle was, promise them anything just so long as they get out of the way”.- Stephen Ambrose

The above quote bothers me to no end.  I realize Canada is “starting” to make progress in talking with our First Nations People but still, we all know they have a lot of hours, days, months and  years before Aboriginal people in Canada can actually feel a positive change.  We, disregarded their rights and privileges.   We robbed them of entitlement to their land, to their culture and their language.  Residential schools comes to mind and yes, I AM talking about it still…the ramifications of such a travesty, of such oppression will trickle down for generations. It will take that long so their healing can commence.

Two years ago, I was privileged to be part of a group from our youth line to visit a reserve in Northern Ontario and ask youths in that community how we could better meet their needs.  The day before our meeting, my colleagues and I took a brisk walk near an old residential school outside of the reserve; the ghostly feeling walking around there was so eerie.  In our group, a young woman who was part of this pilot project told us stories she had heard from her grandmother and great-auntie who had been forced to go to this school.  Most of these youths had no clue they were thousands of miles from their homes. So when a youth tried to run away,  can only imagine the despair learning when caught to return to the school, the despair …they could not and would not see their family for, to them, a lifetime!

I cringed to imagine of youths as young as 4 and 5 that were literally ripped from the arms of their mothers and fathers by the RCMP.    Can you actually imagine such a thing?!

I recall speaking to a youth several years ago who proudly talked about a journal her grandmother had recounting her sad and tragic experiences in residential schools.  It’s important to document, to remember.  Part of healing IS remembering.

What is so sad about these calamities is that many First Nations People of that generation who were “condemned” to those schools, were brainwashed…told from 5 years old until they were 18 to speak ONLY English, to comply to a Christian religion of the white man, to forget their mother tongue and their culture…only to return to their homes as young adults having lost their identities totally.  They could not even communicate now their families.  They were confused as to who they were and feeling they could not fit in anywhere.  How can one heal from this?

Imagine you are taken away from your mom at an age where you cannot grasp certain concepts developmentally at the mere age of 4 or 5, punished if you speak to your sibling in your mother tongue and told over and over how ONLY the white man’s language, religion and ways are the right way. What an oxymoron…the right way is to oppress, abuse physically and emotionally? Let us not forget the sexual abuse as well…yes, the white man felt entitled to rob these people of their own rights in the guise of “it’s for their own good.” That sounds like the parent who hits his child and says, “It’s for your own good.”

This is but a small example of our country, our government who robbed our First Nations People of their entitlements…land, culture, language

Related Articles:

A History of Residential Schools in Canada

The Residential School System

 

This prompt of Entitlement also reminded me of the students protesting last summer 2012.

They walked the streets

for months and months

insist they couldn’t eat.

they said the fees

were way too high

refusing to comply.

they walked the streets

for months and months

banging their pots and pans.

they said they had a right

to demonstrate and march

still making their demands.

they walked the streets

for months and months

banging their pots and pans.

they stopped the students

at any time from going

to their classes.

and then they’d band

anyone from entering

so they could make demands.

they walked the streets

for months and months

banging their pots and pans.

They even blocked

Jacques Cartier Bridge

and said it was their right.

they made a lot of messes

without regard for classes.

self-righteous, they continued

to fight for what they claimed.

they walked the streets

for months and months

banging their pots and pans.

A week or two was fine

I even thought that cool

that youths would get involved,

to be part of a change.

But reasoning was not

to be part of their plan.

simply, me myself and I

the only game they had in mind.

Entitlement

was what they claimed

their only actual aim

for this important game.

They said it was their right.

and these were youths

who one day might

eventually run our state!

now that I’d really hate!

 

 

People gather at the start of a protest to mark the 100th day of a students strike, in Montreal, Tuesday, May 22, 2012. (Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS/Ryan Remiorz/THE CANADIAN PRESS)

Photograph courtesy of The Globe and Mail

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, originally written October 19, 2013

 

Related articles:

Quebec Students study in entitlement

Massive Montreal rally marks 100 days of student protests

Victim No More

(c)Clr’16

 

I don’t want to write about hate
I just need to have a witness
to how I feel about their unfair fate
when some adults  trespass
fathers, mothers , uncles, aunties too
on their youths who become lost
sons, daughters, nephews, nieces too
in such chaos and betrayal!
search for answers at all cost
broken, fragile and frail;
some turn out promiscuous
or conduct quite outlandish
self-harming although atrocious
it may help them  cope
finding a sort of self-control
even for a moment…gives them hope;
they search blindly, their new role
getting lost in booze and dope,
being victims and incest survivors.
some just give in to submission
sinking low into depression.
grown-ups …pseudo humanoids
possessed by demons of some sort
world should make them void
acting on perverted urges they cavort
young innocent girls and boys, ‘tis all the same
accounting for all the casualties’ names;
Boy, girl? they suffer and rarely ever claim
nor report their abuser
unfortunately,  they happen to be
trusted adults,
persons to whom they have affection
they dare not show signs of deception
even though these monsters
performed the worse
such a breach of trust,
acting on their abuse of power
youths dislike feeling forced
disclosing facts of sexual exploitation;
they would rather forget it ever transpired;
they prefer to have their memory obliterated
never to be reminded of their nightmare
victims to their mothers, uncles,
aunties and grand-parents too,
lest we forget cousins, neighbours, strangers too.
A youth tells me, “But I love my dad! I don’t want him to die in jail!”
another youth says, “But she’s family and all I have left!”

Dear men, women, pseudo humanoids,
who exploit children and youths
umpteen ways  yo u exploit and trick
any child. Shame on you! how dare you pick
your children, other children, any children!
How dare you feed on your perverted lust?
knowing you are wrong, still you feel you must
satiate your desires; choose to break their trust
yield to narcissistic needs and no respect
robbed of their dignity, powerless to reject
your urges.
If only you’d have turned
to professionals to help you spurn
those urges… you could finally
STOP abusing
START respecting,
START deflecting
STOP reflecting
ONLY on your own unspeakable wants.

Shame on you for acting
on these impulses … reacting
in the most selfish and egocentric
behaviour,  ‘tis the most barbaric
in human nature…you look like humanoids
but rodents, killer insects or snakes
are more humane than you could ever be.

The Great Spirit is kinder than me
for I still must dig deep to find empathy
that I reserve solely for the victims
and survivors of such distressing whims.

I forgive you but
cannot forget
they may forgive you in time
but cannot forget
they may heal in time
and carry their scar… an aide-mémoire
like a soldier, their badge of honour
Victim turning to Victor, a Survivor
… victim no more.

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts,  originally written October 1, 2013 edited Sept 15, 2018

Photo credit: Google Image.