Latest Event Updates
While babysitting my friend’s children, I decided to get into the “festive spirit” by doing some Christmas baking. Since the kids are still young, I decided to aim for something easy and manageable. I went to Pinterest, my usual source of inspiration and saw marshmallow penguins listed under easy kids Christmas baking. “Perfect!” I thought, “the kids will love these and they are super simple!” Staring at the image of these nicely presented penguins I got started, with baby on my hip and the other little helping to dip the marshmallows in the chocolate. What ensued from my grand plans was quite…well, distressing…. what was meant to be an endearing colony of perfectly decorated marshmallow penguins ended up being a scene from a Pixar/Horror movie project gone wrong! I’ll let you see for yourself:
I posted this picture on social media and got quite a few laughs…I still chuckle thinking about it. But in some ways this Christmas baking mishap sums up my overall experience of Christmas. The idea of Christmas, I mean, the picture perfect idea of Christmas, gives me fuzzy feelings with nostalgic memories of picking out a Christmas tree, eating mince pies and getting up at 00:01 to open my presents from Santa (since it was officially Christmas Day!) I do have some positive memories associated with Christmas but I also struggle around this time of year.
Christmas can be hard for many people. In my case the actual day is associated with a very traumatic experience for which I am still recovering, the holiday season also triggers feelings of loneliness and depression; while the festive cheer, talk of family and expectations to be happy are suffocating. Each year I try to do something to reclaim Christmas for myself and I surround myself with my Canadian family to help with the loneliness, despite that, it remains a really hard, triggering time of year. It’s a bit like the penguin massacre, my epic Pinterest fail; the vision of what it should be does not live up to reality. Slowly I am trying to make room for my hopes for a warm enjoyable celebration and the realities of my own Christmas experience this means allowing myself time for enjoyment and room to grieve. As with each year, I have make a Christmas plan anticipating what I may need to cope and feel supported. This involves spending time with loved ones in Canada; making time to grieve; arranging appointments and check in’s with people, planning for alone time, taking care of myself physical, mentally and spiritually; finding opportunities to laugh, making myself a stocking…the list goes on. Making a detailed plan can be helpful if the holidays are hard for you and of course this looks different for every person, but I thought I would leave you with a guide to surviving the holidays in case you struggle too. And if you are not someone who struggles with the holidays…that is great, I am glad, perhaps this guide may be helpful for a loved one or it may bring more awareness. Whether Christmas is generally an enjoyable time of year, one you dread or somewhere in between, my hope is that your heart would experience peace in some little (or big) way this coming week.
The helplines are specific to my city but the tips still apply.
P.S. for those of you wondering about my travels, an update is to come. I am now back in Canada and will be posting written and photo reflections in the coming weeks now that I have time to process and share. It was just too hard to do on the road.
I was tempted to write about Cambodia for this post. I love Cambodia and have spent a significant amount of time researching and trying to understand sexual violence there. Despite my love of Cambodia, I decided to focus a little closer to home, Canada. It is easy to focus on countries that seem less “advanced” or “poorer” than our own, it creates a false sense of security but we need to wake up to the realities of sexual violence in our homes, schools, faith communities and towns. Sexual violence is everywhere, and while it is uncomfortable to acknowledge this, its critical we do.
Canada is waking up, at least a little. Recent publicity surrounding people like Jian Gomeshi and Bill Cosby, seems to have opened a large can of worms. People were shocked when information was first brought to light…how could such a respected and influential person do these things, he seems so nice! Wouldn’t it be so much easier if predators looked like predators? Remember the child catcher in the movie Chitty Chitty Bang Bang? If only all predators looked like that, we would be so much safer ! Unfortunately, sexual offenders look very normal, they don’t have long pointy noises or offer children candy from their white vans. Instead, predators look like normal people, because on the surface they are.
I want to give you a couple Canadian statistics about sexual abuse and sexual assault.
1 in 3 girls, and 1 in 6 boys are sexually abused as a child.
1 in 5 women in Canada are sexually assaulted.
90% of survivors of sexual abuse/assault were attacked by an acquaintance,friend, partner or relative.
I want you to do something really courageous.
Take a second to look over these stats again, think of those you love, can you picture their faces? These stats don’t represent strangers they represent your loved ones. 1 in 3 girls you know and love are, or have, experienced sexual abuse…1 in 5 women you know will or have already been sexually assaulted…and chances are you may also know the person assaulting them. Friends, sexual violence thrives in secrecy and isolation. I know its painful to imagine that people we care about go through this. I know it is terrifying to think that our friends, relatives, partners, and leaders are responsible but please, I urge you, be brave enough to acknowledge sexual violence in your own community. Until we are willing to confront this reality, sexual violence will continue to thrive.
If you would like resources or information about sexual violence in your area (whether Canada or beyond) feel free to contact me.
Video Posted on Updated on
Well it is officially Fall! After taking the summer off, its back to blogging!
This year I want to go on a little journey around the world highlighting the different forms of sexual violence that women and girls face every day. There are many “hot spots” around the world when it comes to sexual violence but the plight of females in many countries goes unnoticed. I hope I can highlight some of these. As you come on the journey with me I want to make two things clear. 1. Sexual violence whatever form or perceived extremity is horrific, playing comparison games is futile and cruel. 2. Sexual violence is a global, local and familial problem for us all. We need each other if we are to end it. On that note…lets start at the beginning….A!
A is for Afghanistan – Rape and Punishment
Rape and domestic violence are major problems in Afghanistan today. An article for the New York Times stated that “Up to 90 percent of women in Afghanistan face domestic abuse, usually by a close relative. Although this is technically illegal in Afghanistan, the law is rarely enforced due to customs that treat women as the property of men and allow men to do with “their” women as they please.” The article also noted that domestic abuse and rape often go hand in hand. The Elimination of Violence Against Women (EVAW) Law in Afghanistan makes sexual violence illegal. However, the law is rarely enforced and some of the nations governmental figures accuse the law of being anti-muslim because it criminalizes practices such as forced & child marriage. (UN Report)
One of the first successful rape cases just last month saw a man sentenced to prison for 20 years for raping a 10 year old girl. Though this case was seen as a success, it did not come without its challenges. After this 10 year old girl was raped, she had to be protected from her family after it was discovered that her own family were planning to kill her in the name of honour. Honour killings are a common response to rape in families -“rape victims are themselves murdered by their families in honour killings because male members of the family see the lack of chastity in their women as an object of deep shame.” Source Until 2009 rape was not even illegal. Instead, rape victims were often prosecuted under Sharia law for adultery and zina (a term for unlawful intercourse including non-martial intercourse). Women for Afghan Women (WAW) who sheltered this girl has a video outlining some of the issues faced by Afghan women both in Afghanistan and North America.