Category Archives: Education

Dawn of Realization

Have you ever heard the phrase “dawn of realization”?  I always thought that I knew what that meant.  And apparently I’ve been wrong for quite some time.  I know, I know, mark your calendars.  I clumped in “dawn of realization” with all those other hippy, dippy phrases people use to describe some epiphanic moment in their lives.  It’s not a hippy dippy phrase though…it’s an actual thing!

So, at the beginning of January, I jumped back on the Wonder Weightloss Wagon and so far, I have had success!  For the first time ever, the weight that I put on (after my dumbass drunken manouver stellar display of gymnastics resulting in two blown out knees) is melting off.  It. Feels. Awesome.  Naturally, whilst one is attempting to lose weight, food becomes a MAJOR focus in your life.  (Hint, we are passed the Iamcompletelyblindingmyselftinthedeadofnight point of my realization).  So, naturally, all I think about is food.  Bad. Idea.  When one who is addicted to (glimpse of realization) food, thinking about it incessantly, is kind of like putting a chunk (rock? block? hit?) of heiron in front of a skitzed out junkie and telling them to just look at it.  Riiiight.  When a foodunkie (yep, still making words up yo) thinks about food, they aren’t thinking about how nourishing that bunch of kale is going to be or fantasizing about how that quinoa is going to provide you with hunger-satisfying protein for the rest of the day; they are telling the voice screaming that the double chocolate-dipped triple big mac you’re staring down is bad for them to SHUT THE @#$% UP! 

A foodunkie is in love with food like a 15 year old girl is in love with their first boyfriend.  It’s obsessive.  It’s all-consuming.  It’s unhealthy.  Food is not something that we should be using to occupy our time, fulfill wants, or to fix some emotional problem we don’t feel like looking at.  Except that is exactly what’s going on.  Food is fuel.  Pure and simple.  It will only make you feel better if you’re hungry.  Otherwise, that “good” feeling you’re expecting is really guilt, shame and defeat.  I’ve decided (which can be interpreted as the first twinges of twilight) that I need to break up with food.  And no, I’m not going to go on a hunger strike or stop eating but I am going to stop thinking about it.  I am determined to think about food when I’m hungry and it’s time to eat (and apparently while I blog).  Then I will be faced with a choice.  Then it comes down to healthy choices.  (oh, look at the pretty pink my realization is turning)…

So, in thinking of food and how I think about food, I realized that this really is the end of the line for my eating habits.  It really is like a bad breakup.  I thought to myself, this is a “for life” thing.  This isn’t a journey where I’ll get to my goal weight and be all like BOOM!  Break out the Burger King and double dip that @#$% in double chocolate.  Why would I waste all of that effort?  This was really my dawn of realization.  Basically, it comes down to this. My health, my nourishment, my body and my self image are worth fighting for.  It’s a looooong, up hill battle.  There will be times when I’m tired, discouraged and pissed right the hell off and I acknowledge that BUT there will also be times when I’m super motivated, when I achieve success, when I get to buy that gorgeous shirt because it @#$%ing fits!  There will be a time when I look at the lines in my shoulders and be happy and there will be a time when this conversation leaves my daily dialogue.  It will become my new way of life.

So bare with me while I’m inconsisten in blogging, when I rant about not being able to eat and drink my face off AND achieve my goals and while I work through all the issues surrounding how I became a foodunkie. 

WTF?!?!!?  I was kidding about the chocolate dipped burger
WTF?!?!!? I was kidding about the chocolate dipped burger

Rocking Resolutions and a Year in Review

Well folks, I know you’ve all been waiting on baited breath waiting for my traditional “year in review” post. 

Wait…what?  You haven’t been waiting at all?  Pffffttt.  Well, too bad.  I’m writing it anyway.

I’ve been mulling this post over in my head for a while and have even started it a couple of times but couldn’t really decide the direction I wanted to go in.  So I decided to revist my last year’s post to see what I had to say waaaay back then and in doing so, I was reminded of those nasty trolls.  Damn it!  Why did I have to re-read that post.  So, because I usually have to do the same things over and over many times in order to learn my lesson, I decided to revisit that ridiculous website that basically rolls the dice for your resolution (go ahead – I dare you:http://www.moninavelarde.com/newyears/) .  Really, I need to start learning my lessons the first time through.  So, with the same snarky grin on my face, I press the “gimme more” button…

First “roll”: Follow through.

I. Kid. You. Not. Already I know I shouldn’t have hit that button, already I know that this is not going to be the funny, I-pulled-one-over-on-the-universe trick I thought it was going to be.  Shit.  Follow through huh…ok.  I totally get that.  I’m terrible for making plans and then breaking them.  Volunteering for something and just bailing at the last moment.  It also swings into my parenting techniques.  I am the mother of a thousand chances and zero follow-through.  That technique has failed me once, I’ll be damned before I let it affect how the other two turn out.  Follow through…<mumble mumble grumble>…fine.  I’ll work on it.  BUT that’s not a resolution.

Second “roll” (yes, I am really stubborn to a fault): Let go

<insert extreme profanity here>…ok trolls.  I know you’re capable of funny.  I know that you’re capable of humour.  This is supposed to be a funny website.  You, website, are failing.  Epicly.   Let go.  Ok, I get it.  I really, really need to learn this.  I even know I need to learn this.  I even said it to my darling husband just the other day.  “Q1 for counsellor: How do I let things go” – or something along those lines.  Really, it’s my Achilles heel.  I obsess and mull things over for WAY too long, I let it stress me out, I get all tense over it.  Letting go.  Novel thought.  Good skill, guess I’ll have to practice that.  I still don’t think those trolls are funny.

Finally, thinking to myself that this stupid website has made it’s point, I click the button one more time…: Start a piggie bank.

I have never glared at a computer screen so hard in my ENTIRE life.  Alright, alright.  I call mercy.  I get it.  The universe is not just trying to send me a message but she’s slapping me straight upside the head with it. 

In all seriousness though, for the first time, I feel that I actually did make personal progress in 2012.  I can feel it in my own self.  It’s not so much how I do things or even what I’m doing.  It’s a great culmnation of things that are coming together.  I find myself calmer in some ways and more intense in others, except now it’s in the right ways.  I am slowly working to quiet that hateful little voice in my head and even in the hardest moments, when I want to just let ‘er rip, I tell her to sit down and STFU.  She has no place in my life now.  I feel like I am taking the time to really look at myself and those around me, analyse their words, watch their actions and really try to understand them.  I finally, for the first time in my life, am taking a stand with the people in my life.  I have never been good at drawing boundaries.  Lie to me, hit me, disrespect me, use me, make fun of me – I was always more worried about having people in my life vs having quality relationships.  I’m not doing that anymore.  I deserve better than that because I am better than that.  For the first time in my life, I believe I am a good person and deserve better than that.

What will 2013 bring?  Who knows.  We weren’t supposed to get this far.  For me though, it will be much of the same.  Though I have no trophies to display or plaques to hand around, I am proud of my accomplishments over this past year.  I am fighting some of the toughest battles anyone can fight. I am over coming years of mental conditioning that I am not good enough, not important enough, only loved if I’m a certain way.  I am slowly overcoming serious depression without medication (hence shutting up that wicked bitch in the back of my mind).  I am battling anxiety, a highly misunderstood, nearly invisible thing, without medication.  And I’m fighting those battles for me – also a first.

So I guess, even though I always claim to not make resolutions, I do in a way.  They just aren’t based on a year.  I am resolved to live the happiest life I can. 

Happy New Year to you all.  I hope 2013 is everything you hope it will be

Ok, ok, ok…you all know I didn’t stop at three clicks right?  Here are the rest:

Be a leader

Strike up a convo with a stranger

Be true to myself and others

Sing in the shower (FINALLY!)

Join a choir (what’s with the singing?  I am NOT a good singer)

Be happy

and finally…carpool.  Very funny trolls.  Very funny.

He said, She said or Teachers said, Government said

Currently, in our great Province of British Columbia, there is public unrest because of contract negotitations for our teachers. There has been a lot of information, a lot of slandering and a lot of opinions flying back and forth so I thought I would weigh in on the issue as well.

I’d like to start by saying that I can only imagine if we, the public, are all having such confusing, round-about conversations on this topics, the negotiation team is probably even in worse shape.

From what I understand and have researched, the teachers are looking for a total of 15% wage increase over three years plus a slew of additional medical, dental and time benefits. In a healthy, thriving economy I could support such a wage demand; however, in our current fiscal climateI think that teachers need to be more realistic about a wage increase. Is our Government trying to be rid of our defict on the backs of it’s public servants and social programs? It appears so and I don’t agree with that method HOWEVER they are our current elected Government and our current fiscal environment is everyone’s fault. It is the result of many years of over spending, leading hugely consumer-based lifestyles and not being aware that we are all living well beyond our means. Our current elected party is attempting to keep our Province afloat. Is this a good thing? Absolutely, is their method sound? I don’t think so but I don’t have a better solution either. I’m not convinced that having a party with looser purse strings is such a great idea either. I mean, if we start handing out relatively large wage increases to public sectors, how will we pay for that? Will it result in layoffs? How will those layoffs affect our Province? To me, being employed and not getting a raise is far better than getting a raise and risking unemployment. Mass layoffs and increased unemployment would have a much larger, devastating domino effect than simply remaining status quo.

While we’re on the topic of wage increases, the Government actually has identified that wage increases are possible BUT savings have to be seen elsewhere. What does this mean? It means that money funding special programs could be cut and that money be directed towards salary dollars, money allocated for supplies could be cut and funnelled to pay the teachers OR perhaps the teachers could look at what they’re paying their Union representation and lobby for a decrease in fees. That would certainly provide some money to funnel back into the teacher’s pockets. Which begs the next question…what about the BCTF? Has anyone taken the time to stop and really sift through their financial statements? How much does the President and the Administration make? What do their expense accounts look like? Are they lining their pockets off the backs of teachers and then pointing the finger at the Government? Union representation should be about protecting the workers in the workforce. I say we start looking at our Union organizations and identify areas that could be improved. I mean, what would happen if you ran local elections and the teacher that won the election was excused from teaching (a TOC could easily fill in) and was given supplemental pay for their additional duties. I think that someone in the system would be able to give a more accurate account of how the education system really runs and I truly believe that public support would be far, far greater than it is now. My opinion on this stretches to all of the Public Service Unions.

The BCTF says that this fight is really about class size, composition and learning environments. Well, the Supreme Court has already ruled that legislating the ability to negotiate for class size and composition was unconstitutional so why ins’t the BCTF using that? If this battle really isn’t about wages, lower the wage ask to something reasonable and do-able and demand that class size, composition, better supplies and greater teaching assistance be put back on the table. I guarantee that the teachers would have just about every single parent in British Columbia fighting their fight and it would force our Government to stand up and take notice.

Our entire education system needs an overhaul. It’s old and archaic. Right now, teachers who have the most seniority, not necessarily the best teachers, but the most senior teachers are the ones who get the jobs. These are often ones who are riding out the last couple of years to retirement (notice I said OFTEN not ALL) and they are starting to burn out whereas many new teachers, who are excited, armed with new information, a freshly minted degree and are chalk full of energy, are the ones to spend years on TOC lists just waiting for their chance to make a difference. That needs to change. There needs to be a way to determine which teachers are the best ones to be teaching our children and they need to be fairly compensated for that. Administration…we have had the good fortune of having exceptional principals for our kids’ schools, until the last rotation when we lost, in my opinion, two of the best principals in all of the city. Those principals should be evaluated and compensated accordingly. To me, a Principal who stands outside monitoring the playground, takes the time to know each child in their school and is present at every award function, Christmas concert and puts their heart and souls into their schools deserve more money than a Prinicpal who shows up and sits in his office all day long. There needs to be a system of determining how to and who to compensate.

I also think that teachers need to stop complaining about being teachers. I’ve often heard the argument, when talking about compensation – which this is not supposed to be about wages, that teachers have to go to school for a long time. They have to work long days, they have to pay for some supplies out of pocket, they have hard jobs. Here’s my take on this. It was your choice to become a teacher – and no, I will not accept the “someone has to do it” line either. You chose to go to school for many years and you chose to do this job. There are perks to this job that are never talked about but I think should be acknowledged. Your “vacation” always lines up to that of your child’s reducing childcare costs. That is a huge benefit. You work Sept – June but earn a “yearly salary”. This is where the 9 – 10 hour day argument loses all merit because you only work those hours for 10 months out of the year! I would love to have two months off in the summer!! Let’s talk about some of the employer-paid benefits you receive. Paid sick time AND someone to cover your workload while you’re gone. Paid stat holidays OFF. Some people have to work those days. There’s the extended medical and dental benefits. Topped-up maternity leave. A PENSION! Those are all things that make for an above-standard lifestyle here in Canada. Those benefits are not available to everyone and they are all worth their weight in gold. I wish that teachers would stop complaining about being teachers and start focussing on the education system.

In closing, I’d like to note that I do support the teachers. I appreciate all that they do for the children of our Province. I want class sizes to be reasonable. I want teachers and the students to have adequate supplies in their class rooms. I support a fiscally responsible Government. I support a change to our education system.

I do not support a 15% wage increase. I do not support additional time off for professional development, sick leave, 5 years ( ) maternity leave, or anything else like that. I do not support abusive, juvenile or disrespectful picketing. I do not support Bill 22. I do not support bullying tactics from either party or using our children as pawns.

There is no easy solution but I'[m sure there is one. It’s going to require compromise from BOTH SIDES and I’m not sure either party is really ready sit down and compromise. Unfortunately, until that changes this will remain in a stalemate situation.

College

I am starting to question my sanity. When Rob and I bought our house, I gave myself a year off. A year off of school, trying to further my career, trying to get “ahead”. I lasted four months. I took the leap and applied to two separate programs. I’m crazy nervous.

I pride myself on over-coming a lot of
statistics. I was a 3x high school drop out BUT I managed to graduate (with honours) in 2009. I was a teenaged mother and went on to have my second baby at 23. Not only have I managed to raise two very beautiful children but I never lost custody, my children have the same father and I didn’t rely on the system to support us. I got my first job with the Government. I am pleased to say I’m coming up on my 10 year service award. I was in an abusive relationship but managed to break free and leave. And finally, I was raised by an alcoholic and I’ve managed to break that cycle.

The reason I laid that all out is to remind myself of everything I’ve faced, worked through and overcome. I need those reminders because I am scared out of my mind to go to college. I don’t know why this scares me so much but it does. I worry about not being smart enough, not being brave enough, not being good enough to succeed at this.

At this point in my life, I have no choice anymore. I am 31 years old. I’m no spring chicken. I need to get my rear in gear and get this done. I feel a real need to have something behind my name. Perhaps this is the final “leg” in a journey of proving myself.

I will have to see what this next chapter brings. I hope it brings knowledge, new experiences and new friends. Guess it’s a wait and see situation.

Skeleton’s in Social Media’s Closet

Social media – incredible, useful, brilliant and scary all at the same time.  Twitter, Facebook, LinkdIn, Digg, Stumble Upon, various blog sites, forums and chat rooms…a million ways to connect with people all over the world.

At times I am awed by the power of social media sites.  I have been able to connect with people I went to school with, thousands of miles away.  I have been able to offer my support and advice from one Coast to another.  I have been able to witness, at least through pictures, births, weddings, deaths, life threatening diseases and I have been able to send a quick note of love, prayer and support to at the touch of a button.

Through blogging, I have been able to work through some very personal issues.  Vent and rant about things that roll around in my mind.  I have been able to share parts of me that I didn’t think I could, say the things that I didn’t think I could say and get out the things that take up WAY too much of my brain space.  Through my writing, my words and this blog, I have touched other people’s lives with my writing and even have “followers” (ps…YAY FOLLOWERS!  Thank you!!!).  Through accessing social media, I have been able to read about the struggles of other mothers trying to get through each and every day, I have been able to read a struggle with mental health, I have been both moved to tears and laughter through the skill of other writers. 

These are awesome things.  Powerful things.  The bright side of social media.

But what about the dark side?

Websites like thedirty.com; facebook stalkers, craigslist killers…the stuff that no one really talks about but we all should be thinking about.  Facebook added a function where you could “check in” to places that you are currently and immediately my back went up.  My first thought was “why do my facebook friends need to EXACTLY where I am?” and my second thought was “if they know where I am, then they can figure out where I’m not”.  I’m sure that every one of the people I have on my facebook site are good people.  I have also locked down my profile so that you would have to be a pretty proficient hacker in order to access my information but a lot of people don’t do that.  There whereabouts are out there for the WORLD to see.  Me, you and Mr. Aklihovinaoa from Africa who would like to send you your $5,000,000,000 inheritance. By telling the world where you are, you are inherently telling them where you are NOT.  Such as…at your house (welcome robbers)…or with your children (hello abductors)…or precisely where you’ll be leaving shortly (hello creep-o’s who stalk people). 

The dirty.com is a ridiculous website that I am so grateful did not exist in my youth.  That would have been serious trouble and my heart goes out to the younger generations who have to deal with excessive access to information.  Who have to deal with bad decisions and moments in your life being posted online, for anyone to see – f.o.r.e.v.e.r.  This also opens the door to a whole new avenue of bullying.  “Cyber-bullying” is a relatively new phrase but one that needs to be talked about.  Often.  With our world becoming more and more mobile, our lives, our children and ourselves are more and more accessible and vulnerable. Every little thing you do, every little place you go, every public (and sometimes not-so-public) decision you ever make has the potential to be captured, posted and commented on.  Think…”Wal-Martians”…people who make poor wardrobe choices and then go into Walmart get their picture taken and get posted to a website for the WHOLE world to look at and laugh at.  I have been one of those people who look and laugh.  To me, I am a cyber-bully.  What business of is it of mine what someone else decides to wear to a store?  Why do I even care?  Do I feel so crappy about my own self that I need to look at someone else and laugh?  Cause I think my momma taught me better than that.

The darkside of social media is that often times the human is taken out of what we’re looking at.  Those girls/ boys on thedirty, the people on Walmartians, and sites such as that are all people.  Perhaps they’re underpriviledged, perhaps they are mentally challenged, perhaps they just like what they’re wearing, whatever the reason…good on ’em.

Rant Rock: Teachers teaching

Our teachers are threatening job action when school starts next week.  I, for one, am outraged.

Teachers have toted that the amount of children with learning disabilities have increased, that class sizes have increased, that they aren’t making enough money, etc.  So in recourse, teachers are not going to communicate with me.  The parent.  The teachers are not going to provide report cards.  The teachers are not going to meet with parents.  But in the next breath, state how much they are about our children’s education and well-being.

I call bullshit.

If you cared, you wouldn’t be reducing services that AFFECT OUR CHILDREN.  Back in the day, a teacher cared.  If a student needed a little extra attention, they got it.  The teacher didn’t carry on about how much of a drain or disadvantage it put them at.  The teacher took the time to care about each student.  Back in the day, the teacher was passionate about being a teacher.  End of story.  Back in the day, the teacher didn’t have a professional development day EVERY. SINGLE. MONTH.  (Which usually falls right before a long weekend, I might add).  Back in the day, teachers didn’t have helpers to help them with problem children – nope.  The parents were called to deal with the problem child.

I am so tired of hearing that there will be job action taken RIGHT BEFORE SCHOOL!  Do you not think we can’t see your manipulative tactics?  Why didn’t you take your precious summer vacation to fight this battle?  Why can’t the professional development week happen at the end of June?  Oh right.  Because then you’d have to either give up your cake or give up eating it.

You know what I’d like to see?  Teachers who refuse to do THEIR JOBS (read the job description people, then read the definition of subordination) get fired.  Yep, one…two…three strikes – YOU. ARE. FIRED.

Think that every teacher would run for the hills?  I think not.  Teachers salaries are anywhere from $44K to $81K per year.  This is a pretty decent wage if you consider you are guaranteed a professional development day per month, meaning it’s catch-up time for marking, courses, etc.  You only work from late August to June (BONUS!) and you get one to two weeks off in March and December and then stat holidays throughout the year (at this point, I’m thinking I picked the wrong public service!)

I think it would send a mighty strong message to the teachers of this Province.  Do your job or be unemployed.  If a person were to pull have of this shit working at Taco Bell – what do you think would happen?  I am almost willing to bet…in the end…our children would end up with better educations than the crap they’ve been receiving.