Musings, mutterings from the misguided.



I admit it.  I love Little House on the Prairie.  It was my favourite show as a kid and as an adult, it’s a show I use to escape from the age of instant everything.

Which poses my question – is the internet something good – or something not so good?  I guess I should explain.

In today’s age, we have instant access to anything and everything that is happening around the world.  Now, I’ll also admit to being a self imposed news junkie – I remember in Grade 7, going to school and expressing my shock that Anwar Sadat had been assassinated (which started me on my long career of nerdiness).  And, how I tied yellow ribbons around trees when the Iranian hostages were freed.  I enjoy reading the news, I peruse many different publications and I believe that we should all be interested in the world around us.  I actually get rather annoyed at people who don’t know what’s going on, outside of their own neighbourhood.

However, with the invention of the internet – sometimes having access to the news (and everything else) 24/7 can be a bit overwhelming.  This past week is a prime example.  From the horrific aftermath of the tornadoes in the US, to the disturbing news about a fellow from the military being beheaded in the UK…and locally – a young child was mowed down by a drunk driver, while sitting on a restaurant patio. Can knowing all of these things really be good for our own mental well being?  Does reading about horrendous murders, complete with graphic detail – make us superior to those who don’t know?  Do we REALLY need to know?  An even bigger question is – why?  Why do we continue to beg for more?  More graphic details, more political scandal, more death and starvation.  How do we read these stories, day after day and not be impacted by them?  Do we just stop reading the news?  Is it that simple?

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to stop reading the news and stick my head in the sand and pretend that the world really is a lovely place where butterflies rule and politicians are all forced to work the midnight shift at Walmart.  But I find that there are days that I become numb to what’s happening.  I’ve stopped feeling that gut wrenching sense of horror when I read about people in a third world country starving to death or being slaughtered for religious reasons.  I read dispassionately about suicide bombers, terrorists and women who are stoned to death in public.  Yet, I can’t stop reading these stories.  I don’t know if it’s that deep down inside somewhere, my empathy is still there or if it’s just a sense of morbid fascination to know that these stories are on the news, and not in a movie.

I recently took a vacation to a place where there was no internet, no phones, no computers, no television and no radio.  For 3 days, it was just me, some good books and the sea.  I hadn’t heard about the Boston bombings until a week after they happened.  Did it impact my life?  Did I miss something in that week because I didn’t know about them?


In fact, not knowing about anything happening in the world for that period of time was soothing.  When I did finally hear about the bombings, I felt something I hadn’t in awhile – empathy – sympathy – a sense of sadness that because of someone’s twisted religious beliefs, so many innocent people’s lives were altered.  I hadn’t been inundated by news 24/7, and therefore was able to see the story from a human perspective, rather than being  indifferent to the suffering of those affected.



Bittersweet Memories …

Gifts don’t make me nostalgic; events, people and places make me nostalgic.

However, nothing can make me conjure up long lost memories like music.  Happy times, sad times, living life times – even era music can make me think back to different situations in my life.

I lost my father 8 1/2 years ago to mesothelioma.  It was a horrifying, painful, cruel death for a man who lived life with vibrancy, compassion for others and love for his family.  He was my best friend, my rock, the one person in my life who truly loved me unconditionally.  I still weep at the loss of something so precious to me.

After he passed away, there were a number of songs that would make me cry.  Eric Clapton’s “My Father’s Eyes” would send me into fits of sobbing.  A song as innocuous as Glass Tiger’s “My Town” would make me well up (it mentions “Scotia” and my dad was from Nova Scotia).

There are many others that make me think of my dad – however – “In the Living Years” – a song from the 80’s, by Mike and the Mechanics is the one song that to this day, makes me start blubbering like a baby. It made me think of that poor man who lost his dad without ever having a chance to make amends and say goodbye.

Never in a million years did I think that song would ‘happen’ to me.

I never got the chance to say goodbye to my father; he passed away the day after a routine surgery, after not waking up from anaesthetic.  I hate that I never got to say ‘goodbye dad, I love you’.

For the past 8 1/2 years, every time that song came on the radio, I’d turn it off.  I just couldn’t listen to it.  The other songs I’ve mentioned, while still making me feel a bit maudlin, no longer make me out and out cry.

I was out this weekend, enjoying our first real weekend of spring.  I remembered how beautiful our yard always was when I was a kid, dad out mowing the lawn at 7:00 am (the neighbours hated him), the flowers just so and the trees pruned within an inch of their lives.

I was just pulling into the garden shop where I was going to buy my own flowers for the season and I heard it.  The opening chords to THAT song.  I reached over to switch it off, but instead – instead I sat in the parking lot and listened to it from start to finish.  I’m not going to tell you that I sat there stoically and listened to it and hopped out of my vehicle to carry on.  No, I sat there, listening to the words, with some tears – remembering my dad and that even though I never had the chance to say goodbye, I realized that I didn’t have to – because he is always with me, in my heart and in my soul.


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Mental Illness – removing the stigma…

So…I was just on a news website and a story caught my eye:

Routine depression screening for adults not recommended

Okay.  I guess that makes sense.  I mean, if someone isn’t exhibiting symptoms, then why bother to check them.

But wait a minute.  Lots of people don’t exhibit symptoms of heart disease either.  Or, in some cases – cancer.  Hell, even diabetes can go unnoticed unless the proper tests are run.  So, why is depression different?


Is it because people don’t want to know if they could potentially be suffering from depression or another mental illness?  Ignore it and therefore, it can’t possibly be?  How many stories have we heard in the news lately about someone shooting someone (or in a few cases, a number of people) and then we find out that they have a ‘mental disorder’?  How many young people have turned to suicide because they can’t find a way out?

Why is mental illness still such a ‘hush-hush’ disease?

Because we’ve made it that way.  Society still sees those with mental disorders as ‘incomplete, not worthy’ – sometimes those suffering are even made to feel like they’re lying.

I don’t know about you, but if someone asked me if I had cancer, I certainly wouldn’t tell them ‘OH GOD NO!  Why would you even ask that?  I’m perfectly healthy!”  Yet, that’s exactly what we would say to anyone asking if we had a mental health issue.

Mental Health issues are one of the last acceptable prejudices (that and calling someone fat).  It’s a constant source for comedians, television shows, books – day to day life.  Who here (me included) hasn’t said ‘That bitch is CRAZY!’ or ‘What a complete mental case!’  I wouldn’t say that about someone with any other disease…so, why with (insert mental disorder here)?

Well, I could get into a rant about why people actually watch reality television, but I won’t -(okay, just a sentence – people watch reality tv to feel better about themselves – watching losers on TV apparently justifies this reasoning).  People need to feel superior.  People do not like to feel weak.  People don’t like to have their mental well being brought into question.  We are supposed to be strong and invincible!  Anyone with a mental issue has to be weak and therefore, inferior to those who are big and strong!


Now, I say this because with this article, came a number of comments.  The first 3 of them all said (in some fashion) that people who take anti depressants are stupid and that we should all just learn to buck up and grow a backbone.  Life sucks – get over it!  And my very favourite – “Drugs are no way to solve issues, prescribed or illicit. Society needs to take one big look at itself. Family values are gone, society has become party all the time no work, everyone blames the government… people need to start looking at themsevles in the mirror. Life is not a cake walk and you just can reach for the joint, line, or pill bottle when things are not going your way…” (from the CBC website –

Sigh.  I will agree that we have come so far in recognizing mental illness – there has been study after study done on it.  People are becoming more and more open about discussing it.  Schools are implementing programs to ensure that kids who are experiencing mental illness have somewhere to go.  But – there is still that stigma – that attitude that reflects a good percentage of the population who believes it’s a matter of just ‘not being sad’ any more.


(I believe this is a quote by Glenn Close)

If people don’t think this way about cancer, a horrible, disgusting and terminal disease – why can’t the same attitude be taken towards those with mental illness?  Because I know a number of people who also think that mental illness is horrible and disgusting – and if not treated properly, life ending.

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As a kid who didn’t often get what I required emotionally, I turned to different sources of comfort – usually, food.  Of course, I didn’t realize that at the time.

I also have a very addictive personality.  I become addicted to something very quickly, with great intensity.  I’ve gone through addictions to food, to alcohol, to relationships – but the worst thing, frankly, is spending.

Now, I suspect I’m not the only one in the club.  Buying material things to fill an empty void is very common, especially amongst those of us who are depressed or suffering from some sort of other mental disorder.  Speaking for myself, I use these addictions to make myself ‘feel better’.  Who here hasn’t bought something ‘because I’m having a shitty day’?


It’s very true, the saying that ‘the more you make, the more you spend’.  I am very lucky to work in a province where most people make a higher than national average wage.

So why am I still ‘financially challenged’?

Well, since I was old enough to hold down a job (I started working when I was 14), I spent my money.  Savings?  What savings?  Why do I need to save money?  Now that I’m in my 40’s, I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.


Because, I buy things without thinking.  I want nice things.  I buy expensive clothes.  I have an expensive vehicle.  I spend a disgusting amount on rent, so I can live in a nice place.  But most of my debt comes from little things – dinner out, gas, groceries – things that don’t seem harmful, but when it comes time to pay off my credit card – GULP!  How the hell did I do that?  I look at my statement and am shocked by my blatant disregard for being fiscally responsible.

(I am going somewhere with this; trust me).

So, I have a nice vehicle, a lovely condo with a great view, nice clothes.  Yet, I’m still unhappy.  All that money I owe now (okay, a good percentage of it) was spent trying desperately to fill the void that I have felt.  To replace the sadness and loneliness I experience being on my own.  To make me feel better after a crappy day at work.  And – to show the world, that I am successful and happy and make lots of money and life is good.

Up until now.

I spent a week in my very favourite place on earth about two weeks ago.  For three days, I was in a secluded cabin on the ocean, with no technology – just me, some books and the sea.  I walked, I thought, I read, I cried, I slept and I dreamed.  It was, without a doubt the best three days I’ll spend all year.


The last part of my vacation was spent with a very wonderful and dear friend.  She is lucky enough to live there and part of the reason for my going was to help her celebrate her 50th birthday (which we did, in style – I might add!)

My friend is one of those people who just calms the soul.  She’s funny, gentle, smart and is always at peace with herself and her surroundings.  She just ‘is’.  She’s never been one to fall for the ‘must have extensive amounts of material possessions’.  Up until this last visit, I always thought it a bit odd that they didn’t have a television or buy new things.  She gets most of her clothes from second hand shops and I’m pretty sure that nearly everything in her home (that she shares with her partner) was bought second hand.

And yet, she’s one of the truly deep down in her soul – happiest people I know.

What?  But she doesn’t have fancy things!  She doesn’t have a brand new vehicle!  She buys her clothes at Goodwill!  How can she possibly be happy?

Because what she has, comes from inside of her – not what she can buy.  She couldn’t give a rats ass about anything materialistic.

OH.  I GET IT.  Well, I’m starting to.

I knew as soon as came back home, that I needed to move to where my friend lives.  However, because of our ‘higher than the national average wages’ where I currently live, I’d have to take about a $15k to $20k cut in salary to do the same job there that I do here.

But I’m in debt up to my eyeballs.

For the first time in my life, since I can remember – I’d be willing to forego the expensive vehicle, the fancy clothes and the other crap that I’ve bought over the years – to live there.  I feel a sense of calm when I am by the sea.  My physical body feels like it loses about 15 years and I can walk for miles without hurting.  My emotional being feels free, light and joyful.  It is a place that I can truly be ‘me’ – without caring what anyone thinks of me.  I am whole.  I am good.  I am love.

So, my goal is to follow my dream and hopefully – in the next few years – find my way out there.  I’ll have to work hard to rid myself of the financial burden I carry – because not only does it make life difficult, it reminds me of all of the money I’ve spent over the years to make myself feel better.  And, it did – in those moments – but now, I’m trying (trying is going to be the operative word) to find happiness from within myself, not from a new pair of shoes.