Posted in Bullying, Learning Differences, Reflections, senryû, Stigma Talks

Embrace your differences

cropped-me.jpgI am sharing a mother’s plea for parents to talk to their children about embracing their differences as well the uniqueness of others.

The video was made after her nine year old son came home upset that he was the subject of racial jokes.  Listening to her plea made me think how we, as adults, need to be better models not just in how we interact with different cultures, races and religions but also in the face of any differences. I love how Dianne does not talk about “tolerating” but embracing our differences.

A child growing with a learning difference , a teen experiencing a mental health condition, a youth struggling with his or her sexual orientation or sexual identity or a youth growing up with physical or intellectual challenges should embrace their differences and other youths should as well.

Children are not born prejudice…it is learned…modelled.  I’m not saying all children learn this from their parents.  We all know how our children learn and change when they go to school.  If they have learned a biased way of looking at the world through jokes or racial slurs they heard on the playground, then we, as adults, educators and parents have a responsibility to talk to them about this on so many levels.

Perhaps we, as adults, need to take a moment or two and take inventory on our own beliefs and feelings before speaking to our children.  Children are sensitive and savvy and can see through what is real. So take your time to reflect on your thoughts first.

We are not perfect but let’s try to be the best human we can in this imperfect world.

Who am I but me?
in all my imperfections,
I am perfect!

 

(c) Cheryl-Lynn ’17/02/06

Posted in Compassion, Did you know?, Grief, Haibun, haiku, Reflections, Tournesol whispers

Welcoming the new year 2017

This is the time when one thinks back on the year that has just passed. For some they may feel they have barely survived this past year, having struggled through many difficult passages and obstacles.

For others it feels like a chore mixed with very brief moments of light to make them smile. Perhaps it is the giggle of their child, or watching an old lady with a hunch back hanging onto the arm of an old man with a cane…watching them shuffle in the mall together, giving them hope.

Some have had a year filled with pleasant surprises…a child has learned to walk, another has made his first goal, a daughter copies you when you put on your make up and whispers in the mirror next to you, “I want to be beautiful just like Mommy!”

Teenagers are faced with a rollercoaster of life mixed with raging hormones and still have to try and concentrate in high school! Imagine a woman in menopause or a man in mid-life crisis trying to learn new things and cope with an ever-changing body! Now add to that, personal strife and home
life that can, for some, be challenging!

There are children and youths of all ages as well as adults who may be passing through difficult times before walking into the realm of a new year; they may be missing a loved one…a sibling, a parent, a grandparent or a spouse either through death, separation or moving far far away. One cannot shake off the grief, the loss and pained memories of this loved one. And one doesn’t! His or her memory walks along with them, stepping into the new year. That person is smiling and laughing when they are happy and weeping when they are sobbing.

Some may find solace in a higher power and an afterlife that comforts them, thinking angels and the Great Spirit have welcomed a new member into their paradise. Others are lost and confused and are not too sure, yet, the memories still hold strong and carry one over to the next day and so on and so forth, day after day, month after month.

remembering
sting of loss and regrets
untold narratives

Time is often their sole consolation. In time the sting lessens, but the memories of “what was” still keep them company and warm through the cold winter months of January and February. The blossoms, however, are also figments of these memories in springtime turning into new promises. Hang on to some of those memories that soothe you and let the March winds eventually take away any disappointments.

Perhaps someone has promised to be there for them and “life” got in the way, leaving them bereft and empty but mostly disappointed and alone. That may also be an opportunity to depend on one’s own strengths and reach out to different acquaintances, slowly turning them into real friends.

Relationships change as one grows just as their needs do. As a single person, their perception of the world is so very different. As a couple it shifts and blends and as a parent it opens up to a whole different world…someone else matters just as much as they do! One now focuses not only on their individual needs but more importantly on the wellbeing and happiness of their children who are a part of them. Children help them open their eyes to another sphere. Children allow them to grow and open their hearts to “others”. Let’s face it! It is rewarding to give, is it not? And through some of these challenges in life, one also learns to look beyond the people who have received from you and find comfort when someone “new” gives to them…take it, for this is also blessing that person’s need to give.

Change is the only thing one can truly count on in life and with it comes other kinds of losses. It could be the end of a career, a promotion, the end of a relationship or moving to a new home or city. Despite the positive and wonderful aspects of any change, there is still a letting go of a life that was. Embrace it, look at it and only then can you adjust and welcome these new life changes.

untold narratives
lost in the wind
silenced
locked in the heavens
angles singing ballads

Wishing you hope, faith and peace in the new year for you and yours.

© Cheryl-Lynn 17/01/01

 

Posted in Depression, Mental Health, mindlovemiserysmenagerie, poetry, Reflections

free at last (free verse)

Tethered

– Oleg Oprisco
This photo challenge was posted at MindLoveMiserysMenagerie to inspire a writing of any genre…this was my attempt.

Leave me alone!
she shouted aloud
but her weak screams
could barely be heard.

it all started last year
when claiming to be
a new born vegan
her excuse not to hear
is that all you’re eating?!

First mother haggled
offering to drive her
to her favourite gym
if just for one meal
it seemed to work,
or so Mom thought
not noticing her
running to the loo

Leave me alone!
she’d shout aloud
but her weak screams
could barely be heard.

Then even at school
became a new problem
friends were no fool
noticing her body shrink
just wasting away
before their own eyes

They would then nag
offer their snack
others would rag
make her feel wacked
staring, eye rolling
she felt they were controlling
meddling in her affairs
giving her evil stares.

Leave me alone!
she shouted aloud
but her weak screams
could barely be heard.

in time there were no friends
only her boyfriend remained
pleading with her
worrying about her

until one day
an ultimatum
he had to say
either get help
or I can’t stay

Leave me alone!
she shouted aloud
but her weak screams
could barely be heard.

she turned to self-harm
to ease her pain
self-injury
her new found friend

she wrapped her wrists
to hide her scars
except when alone
she’d go for long walks
out into the woods
unraveling
long bindings
stretched to forever

she loved these walks
alone and free
just she and nature
it heard her pain
did not have to strain
when she would say

Leave me alone!
in her weak screams
the birds would chirp
the hare would dance
the doe would prance
her new found friends

free at last
she never returned
no longer an outcast
became one with nature
free at last

© Cheryl-Lynn 2016

Posted in Chronic Pain, Haibun, haiku, Music Video, narrative, Reflections, Tournesol whispers

befriending pain (haibun)

This is journal entry I wrote today…sharing parts here in case it helps those who suffer chronic pain.

Pain penetrated  my every fibre. My chest felt like my duvet was made of iron weighing me away from life. Breathing turned to heaves of a chronic smoker and my head felt like the regular common cold…sinuses squeezed my cheeks like that aged old auntie who never heard the word, no! Nothing to do but call into work and take a sick day…crawling back into bed, my Bette snuggles next to me keeping watch on my breath…in…out, in…out.

Every time I turned over I felt more pain as if I had gone to the gym for a complete workout for the first time in years.

like the common cold
hits you when you least expect
no cure

© Tournesol ‘16-03-06

It was half passed five and the sun was setting. How wonderful that the days are longer now.  I chuckled at the fact that I am getting up at sunset rather than sunrise.  Oh well, c’est le monde en envers…who the f cares?  My body guides me at times.  I know now why I was aching…sort up. I walked a lot yesterday…maybe a bit too much…I vacuumed only half the apartment but the walk was the over exertion.  Gawd! I hate this condition…I love to walk for hours…it clears the mind…it ties up so many odds and ends and it feeds my creativity too.  Maybe if I lived in a warmer and dryer climate I could manage this so much better.

I know that will never happen at my age nearing retirement with little money set aside…I won’t be able to  afford travelling.  It’s as if my body needs to live in a desert, now that is odd, non?  Does my body remember a past life perhaps?

I am rereading John Kabat Zinn’s Mindfulness for Pain and listening to his CD.  I need to be reminded how to befriend my pain. I used to be more mindful that my pain was simply a sign I was alive…I can feel!! and to embrace that rather than tense my body and challenge it.  So I cuddled with it all night and all day today.

Listening to music is helping. I discovered Kimbra recently listening to my Jango Indie Radio  and am enjoying her Studio sessions.  And that is what is soothing me…a little of Kimbra…Tristan Prettyman and Regina Spektor keeps me company this evening.

I have already written a Daily Moments post for today, Baby Girl Blessed thinking of my upcoming anniversary…mostly missing my mom. My second birthday without her. Every year until she could no longer remember me or herself, she would repeat the events leading to my birth.  Every year, nothing changed in the story…the long walk to her sister, the agitated feeling she had and impatience with my sister who was only two at the time. Her visit to GrandPapa, her father at his workplace, the filtration centre behind the town park.

I used to love going there too later. That is where he pulled my first front tooth before he got sick.  I remember the string he tied around my front tooth and the piece of string to the doorknob and then he slammed the door so fast I never felt a thing except my heart jump from the BAM.   I wonder how much I got for that tooth I left under my pillow…I used to be half a sleep when I felt a hand slip under my pillow and saw the next day a whole DIME!! That was two bags of chips or two ice cream cones!! I was rich!

Then Mom would say how she did not make it to the hospital and the taxi dropped her off at her mother who was a midwife…lucky me, eh?  Imagine being born in a loving home in your grandparents’ bed! All the loving, holding, hugging within seconds I took my first breath. In those days if you were born in hospital you rarely saw your baby for long periods of time and you were in bedridden up to 10 days!  I was so lucky to have bonded with my mom as well as GrandMaman.

Yes, missing her and feeling lonely…missing family…just missing being a part of something this weekend…maybe that is why work or volunteering is so important to me…I am a part of something very special.  My heart, my mind wanted to be there,  but my body forced me to pay attention…feel the pain, befriend it, coddle it, it will stop working against you…and I did…trying to make sense listening to the sounds of silence in my home…

I resist too much
your familiar touch
a love that throbs

a love that throbs
learning new dance steps
to our slow dance

(c) Tournesol’16-03-06

 

“Eet”

It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song
You can’t believe it; you were always singing along
It was so easy and the words so sweet
You can’t remember; you try to feel the beat

Eee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet
Ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet

You spend half of your life trying to fall behind
You’re using your headphones to drown out your mind
It was so easy and the words so sweet
You can’t remember; you try to move your feet

Ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet.
Ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-ee-
Eet eet eet.

[musical interlude]

Someone’s deciding whether or not to steal
He opens a window just to feel the chill
He hears that outside a small boy just started to cry
‘Cause it’s his turn, but his brother won’t let him try

[musical interlude]

It’s like forgetting the words to your favorite song
You can’t believe it; you were always singing along
It was so easy and the words so sweet
You can’t remember; you try to move your feet
It was so easy and the words so sweet
You can’t remember; you try to feel the beat…

Posted in Reflections

Slim Pickins’

Tis the season to be Jolly, Fa la la la la la la la la…

Spreading a bit of light and joy is the true spirit of Christmas.  It doesn’t have to be a purchased present.  I remember feeling such joy with hand crafted gifts my children gave me for the holidays. Some of these treasures are still out on display at home.  I understand now, why my mother looked so happy when I wrote a poem in her cards as a young child. No English teacher could ever convince her the poem needed work…no indeed!! I could do no wrong.

A whole year since my mother’s passing and still her absence is felt especially on holidays and birthdays.  Her outrageous laughs, her off-key singing (like me…I think I’m worse) and her dancing like no one is watching, brought me such joy!   She made us laugh until our bellies ached…really.

How many mothers would tell the following story with a straight face?my mom could!

Years ago, when she was a hairdresser, her customer arrived with a new seal coat?  (This was before Brigitte Bardot started her crusades ). Mom, whose mother tongue is French, squeals with joy, “Oh!! I love your f….cking coat!”

The customer who is a very conservative social worker gasps, “No, no, Mrs. Roberts, we don’t say that!”

Mom’s eyes widen, “No, no, I know what this is…let me show you my f…..cking boots.”  She runs up to get her seal boots.  “See!” she says proudly. It took awhile to sort this whole thing.  Finally another customer who is more fluent in English and French than my mom explains that Phoque is the French word for seal but pronounced like that 4-letter word.  Everyone had a good laugh and I still do sharing this cute story.

Well, now that was just one of many moments that my mother brought light into our lives.  And that brings me to a prompt at the Carrot Ranch asking us to write a story in 99 words (no more, no less) about “spreading the light”.    Check out the post  and prompt here where the writer shares a moving story about her friend as well as beautiful message for those struggling with the holiday season  written on the wall where Mother Theresa cared for Calcutta children.

Now here is my short story of 99 words:

SP pushes her cart past the shelter, and then stops to admire the trees for sale. The man selling Christmas trees, asks her, “How come most people call you SP?”

She chuckles, “Well now, that’d be due to my slim pickins’ all day.”

An older woman on her way to the shelter stops, “Hello, TJ! we’re counting on you to play piano at Christmas dinner.”

The man looks puzzled, “TJ?”

“Oh, Sister Mary Mona calls me that.”

She picks up fallen branches behind the trees and adds them to her pile, whispering, “ Yuppers, slim pickins’ turning to joy!”

© Cheryl-Lynn 2015/12/18

Posted in Bullying, Did you know?, Reflections

Digging graves with racial panic

face of canada
10 Photos of Canada That Will Make You Feel Lucky You Live There

 

I am relieved I don’t have cable or satellite.  I listen to Netflix and many videos on YouTube. If I want to know what is going on in the world, I know soon enough from fellow bloggers. Other news I flip through my Twitter feed and scroll down reading one or two articles. I find I can function better this way and do the work I am paid to do calmly and with compassion.

I could pick up a local newspaper and every day I would probably find some comment with a racial slur; too often I hear or overhear comments that intensify entitlement, ownership and intolerance.

The other day we were discussing among friends on cultural differences and how this has impacted us on the way we were raised in our families. One person referred to a person of a specific cultural descent and made a “You know how They can be” comment which I inquired, “what do you mean by “they”” This person you refer to is Canadian, born and raised.” He sheepishly responds, “Well you know what I mean.”

Well unfortunately I do know what they mean when they make comments like that but in fact, I stressed, most of us here, in this province, are from European or British heritage. And the only people who were here FIRST were First Nations People. The conversation died quickly as he turned off to do something else or probably to get away from me. I guess, I can be a pain the arse sometimes.

When does this way of thinking end? My experience is nothing compared to so many people who immigrated here two and three generations ago. I only had to deal with silly comments like “well, you’re not of Quebec roots.” Oh no!? My maternal grandfather’s family came here probably 200 years ago from France. And yet many cultures of “visible minorities” have been here longer than that and still are slighted with ignorant comments and insults.

Whenever there is a national or international crisis people seem to regress back to bad old habits. Why can’t we offer our sympathy and compassion to those touched by tragedy without spewing hatred and vengeance?

I am so relieved I do not have television and do not listen to radio either. Just scrolling through some Twitter and Facebook feeds is enough to give me nightmares. To read the comments of some, however, can be more frightening.

What worries me is the reaction of people these days after the Paris tragedy.   I worry about the Canadian Syrian refugee plan and hope this will not be delayed. I even hear among acquaintances about their mixed feelings. I am shocked at the loud outbursts voicing their opinions. Having read an interesting article about Racial Panic, shared by a fellow blogger on Facebook, I remind them of historical events in 1939 about Jewish refugees and most people look at me with a blank stare. How do I read this poker face? Is it lack of knowledge or hatred? I am praying it might be ignorance and now they will be curious to research this. Yeah, that’s right, they will Google this and learn more …right? Or am I being naïve again?

If not, then perhaps we should all consider finding a place like Michael describes in his story of 100 words or less for Friday Fictioneers titled “Below the Grid”

The End

Posted in Did you know?, photography, poetry, Re-blogs, Reflections

pocketfull of blessings (haibun)

Blessings make life so easy…

Tournesol dans un jardin

Pocketful of blessings. That is what I am feeling today. The past two weeks I have been blessed with the presence of wonderful, compassionate and amazing people in person and virtually.

You know when you travel and pick up a pebble or rock to keep as a souvenir? Well, so far I have a pocketful of blessings. I am seeing more and more how we are more the same than we are different if you look deep into your heart. We are all from one amazing race…the Human Race.

grey skies

(tanka)

nature’s blessings
starlings harmonize at dawn
scent of flowers
angelic arcs multi-hued
artist’s last strokes at dusk

© Tournesol ’15

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Posted in Compassion, Reflections

Feel good living

I grew up in the era of “Mad Men” where women were slowly coming into their own.  It was the sexual revolution and women were screaming to be treated equally.  I think back about that and I smile wondering  how I would have went on through life if that wave had not rolled in.  I had my grandmother as a role model and despite being a leader openly or more subtly, I think a woman could still influence in so many ways.

My maternal grandmother was the matriarch in our family; a strong and compassionate woman and midwife who had learned her profession from her mother and the village doctor; she was very religious saying the rosary every evening, going to Sunday mass and the first Friday of the month as well.  I remember reading somewhere in my prayer book or in catechism class that one gained indulgences for following these rules.  My grandmother had earned so many indulgences to fast track to heaven, I am sure she banked extra ones for her children and grandchildren. I am hoping to cash in on some of her indulgences so I can, at least take the express route, but you never know with inflation what those tokens are worth now.

So I decided in my early twenties to invest in benevolent work…volunteering and helping in my community like visiting isolated and ill persons, new mothers in post-natal care, distress lines, mental health outreach programmes and children in bereavement.  I never did them to get tokens, however, but selfishly.  That’s right, I had ulterior motives…it made me feel real good.  Cliché as it may sound, helping others gives you back so much more.

I wonder if that will even count since I do it because it feels right and gives me a purpose in life. Well, I guess I will figure that out someday when I meet my creator, won’t I?  I do hope that GrandPapa, GrandMaman and Mom will meet me at the pearly gates to give me the good or bad news because coming from them will feel better.

I remember hearing this when I was a young child and maybe I was at the right age to truly grasp its meaning when John Fitzgerald Kennedy said, “ask not what your country can do for you! Ask What you can do for your country!

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts

“The purpose of life is not to be happy. It is to be useful, to be honorable, to be compassionate, to have it make some difference that you have lived and lived well.” 
 Ralph Waldo Emerson

Written for http://theseekersdungeon.com/2015/04/30/dungeon-prompts-myth-making/

Posted in poetry, Reflections

Y is for Yesterday (Haibun)

Y is for yesterday like yesteryear, the past. Such a word brings up so many different meanings. You walk into the office ready for that meeting you had been prepping for the past three weeks; the administrative assistance looks at you wide-eyed when you ask which room was reserved for said meeting. Stammering somewhat, she tells you it was “yesterday”…palm to forehead you jammed it so hard you are left with a red mark for a few hours and a splitting headache.

Poets and writers use this word with such passion; we do too especially if we are mourning a lost love, we feel pain and sadness at first. Later, hopefully, we can reminisce of sweet memories of yesterday’s precious moments.

And one cannot …EVER…forget the first loves of your youth…

(tanka)

Ah pure innocence!
yesterday, was such a fool
butterfly wings
loving you with heart and soul
like no tomorrows

© Tournesol `15

Yesterday is passed some say and you should not look back but forward. Others say …

(haiku)

dwell not on bygones
live not for tomorrows
embrace the present

embrace the present
learn gems of yesterdays
enriching now

© Tournesol ’15

Yesterday certainly impacts on your now but does not have to define your tomorrows. This is where we do have choices in life…okay, not always a whole slew of great ones but there are still choices. That brings you from A to C and you discover you have more enticing choices that brings you to E and so on and so forth.

 

Yesterday you were hurt; perhaps you were dealt a difficult hand and you reach out for help somewhere out there, not always someone close, who teaches you strategies to play the right cards. Ooops, you messed up on a few moves…no problem, you learn from it and BOY oh BOY do you remember that move.

 

Yesterday conjures up memories of our childhood; times we were innocent with little care in the world. Yesterday brings up people who were in our lives we miss each day. Yesterday is sometimes bittersweet but knowing our sweet memories of loved ones will stay in our heart for all our tomorrows.

© Cheryl-Lynn 2015/04/29

Written for Blogging from A to Z Challenge

A song from yesteryear – Yesterday – Beatles

Posted in Depression, Mental Health, Reflections, Self-care

All Paths Lead to the Light (Five Sentence Fiction)

© – Escape childhood by Holunder at Deviantart.com

Olivia sighed a sigh of relief after speaking to her caller for two hours and the threat of suicide had finally waned when the teen thought of her little sister, her mother and her dog, Chelsea, she would not want to leave behind to fend for themselves with her step-father.

“But how do I know there is light at the end of the tunnel when my life is shit all the time… when my step-father won’t stop beating my mom and won’t stop coming into my room to get his “sugar” that I’m too old to believe that anymore, eh?” she wailed into the phone.

“Allow me to guide you through an imagery and let all your thoughts, fears, images float by you, like the credits at the end of a movie: now, imagine you are in a dark gigantic cave and as you move along you notice a fork and you have to decide which entrance you will continue on your journey.

You may choose one passageway that will make you go in circles in total darkness for a while but still brings you back to this fork; the other entrance will bring you towards the light but eventually you will still get to the light and you have me and many other counsellors here to guide you until you reach the light,” she stops to give her caller space to explore this imagery.

She hears the caller sob softly, “I can see it, I can really see the light”.

Gunung Mulu National Park Deer Cave Entrance

© Cheryl-Lynn Roberts, originally posted March 30, 2015 for a photo prompt and Five Sentence Fiction