Auntie Says…ANGP? Tis the season.

It means All Night Grad Party. I know, I know, you don’t need a lecture about safety, drinking, drugs, or making smart choices. After all, you’re a senior and about to graduate…you know it all.
I also know that every year a parent is met at the door by a police officer and told that their graduating teen is dead or injured because of an accident at some bush party or a choice made to get behind the wheel drunk or stoned. There’s also the lifetime sentences caused by alcohol/drug fueled sexual assaults, permanent disfigurement from a crash, fights, or humiliation through video and social media.
Take a second…stop and think. Don’t get so caught up in the build-up and “tradition” of all night parties that you lose perspective that you’re graduating so you can start a new life…not end it.
I’m not saying that you can’t party. That’d be unrealistic just make sure you do some planning and be smart. So, here’s a check list for you.
1.)  Know who you’re with. That sound so simple and straight forward, but you’d be surprised how many young people will get into cars with a group of strangers all because there’s a common theme of ‘party’. Stick with your friends and make a decision together to stay that way. Keep an eye on each other. That’s what friends do.
2.)   Know where you are. Again, this sounds so simple, but if you’re going to a bush party in the middle of nowhere, for example, the roads all look the same at night and you could easily get lost. Do you have enough gas in the car? Also, will you still have cell service?If you’re out of range then it’s even more important to pay attention to point #1.
3.)   Know who your DD is. Every time you go out you need a designated driver. If you have a group of friends then you can rotate and switch it up. If you’re in town, make sure you have someone to call. I don’t care if it’s the third cousin of your best friends brother in law…have someone reliable and mature enough to pick you up if trouble surfaces.
Note to parents/aunties/friends: If you have an agreement with a young person to call you **no matter what time or circumstance** to pick them up…just do it. Don’t lecture or judge or ground because believe me, next time they won’t call.
4.)   “No” means No….that goes for everyone…male, female, or otherwise.
5.)   Drugs, to me, are a loud resounding no. If you’re at a party, you need to know what’s going on around you and not be so hammered that you can’t see straight. With so many pills, and even marijuana, being laced with fentanyl, it could be the end. That would really suck.
6.)   Are you going to the ANGP to be part of the crowd or because you want to? The parties aren’t mandatory and are not a rite of passage. They’re a reason to get drunk, act stupid, and make an ass of yourself. Think about it.
7.)   Don’t forget…it’ll all be recorded for prosperity. Do you want your boss to see you passed out? or you Auntie to see you naked and running through the fields. Umm…I hope your answer is no…’nuf said.
8.)  Find an alternative to the ANGP. Grad committees did this by adding in and supporting Dry Grad. There are many ways to celebrate and have fun with your friends without getting wasted and putting yourself (and possibly others), in harms way.
9.)  Don’t be a statistic. You don’t want to be that roadside memorial tribute with the fake flowers and half filled balloon flopping in the wind. A dead teenager kills all their potential. Get it?
10.)  Last, but definitely not least…have some respect for yourself and others. Stop and think about how your actions, words, and choices are a reflection of who you are and how they can affect another.
Have fun, but be safe.

 

*First Published on June 16, 2017 by Black Press

Auntie Says…It’s your responsibility to show up.

I would not normally start any conversation by saying “when I was young…” It makes me picture a hunched over old lady waving a finger in the face of a young person. But, let me tell you, I was recently left shaking my head mumbling … “wow, when I was young, I’d never have done that.”
Here are the circumstances. Judge for yourself.
I needed some help around the house and someone recommended a young woman who was, as it turned out, looking for work. I texted her, we chatted on the phone, and set up a time for an interview.
She was lovely. A single mom in her early 30’s. She was well spoken, well dressed, and said she’s not afraid of hard work. We spoke at length about expectations and the need for consistency and reliability. Her enthusiasm and positive energy towards dealing with life issues impressed me. There were no bells or whistles going off in my head and everything seemed to check out. She started that day and did a fantastic job.
We arranged a schedule and she agreed to return the following morning. I felt a sense of relief in finding the right person.
About an hour after she left I got a text—the next day was’t going to work because after checking her calendar more closely, she’d forgotten about a prior commitment. Fair enough. Not a big deal. She’d officially start at 9am the day after.
It arrived. She didn’t.
I waited and finally contacted her at 10am asking if she was coming. There was no reply. Because she didn’t seem to be the type of person who’d just ditch a job, I worried that she’d been in an accident or something bad had happened. I finally received a text at 5pm saying, ‘oh sorry, I slept all day, I guess I needed sleep. Can I come Friday?’
I think my jaw actually dropped. I was incredulous. I shook my head and simply couldn’t believe it. Like, what just happened here?
I found myself saying…“wow, I would **never** have done that—ever.” I was flabbergasted just by the fact that we’d discussed that reliability was so important.
I didn’t respond to her text. Her words were so flippant and immature, I was afraid I’d blast her and I didn’t want to say something I couldn’t take back.
This is obviously not a person I want in my life. I e-transferred her the money that I owed her and left it at that. She reinforced a negative stereotype about the laziness and lack of resourcefulness on the part of young people and that ticked me off because I know it’s not true.
I will say though that young people need to know that there are basic professional standards that apply across the board and one of them is that you’re only as good as your word. If you tell a client/employer that you’ll be there at a certain time then that is not negotiable. I don’t care if you’re tired, had a fight with your girlfriend, or that you just don’t feel like it—those are your problems—not the employers.
We’ve all been there. It’s life. We all get tired. We all get sick. We all have things happen around us that we can’t control—you’re not unique in that way. If you have issues that preclude you from working then talk to your employer immediately. Don’t let things fester and for heavens sake, don’t just drop out of sight and leave others scrambling.
You have a job to do. You’re to present yourself as a professional, whether working as a floor sweeper, server, or doctor. There’s to be no whining or sniveling. Someone is counting on you to preform your duties and you should be making every effort to work to the best of your abilities—every—single—time.
These days (there I go again sounding like an old lady), there’s no excuse for not calling or not showing up. Everyone has a cell phone—including your employer—and you must take the time to let them know if you’re going to be late or away—and the reason better be a good one.
Employers invest their time in you. Whether it be training, interviewing, reference checks, etc., it’s time consuming and expensive. They’re counting on you.

 

If you can relate to the person in this story more than you can with the person telling it, then you’re probably not going to get far in the world where life building skills are required. Be aware of that. Don’t lie or misrepresent yourself and never agree to show up when you already have no intention of doing so.
Now, I’m not saying that this young woman lied, I’m sure she had every intention of returning, but I wasn’t her priority and that’s where she went wrong. She made a choice…a choice to sleep the entire day away. Good luck in your future. If you don’t make some changes, I’m afraid the writings’ on the wall.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Reach her for comments or suggestions at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

Auntie Says…Anorexia. Parents listen up…

Shows discussing anorexia and bulimia have been around for years. I remember watching them when I was young. And now, it’s the trending Netflix movie, To The Bone, that’s caught the attention of the kids.
The movie is about a young girl, Ellen, who struggles with her eating disorder, personal relationships, and attempts to move towards recovery. When it came out in July 2017, there was a lot of hype saying that it glorifies and promotes anorexia.
To The Bone, is aimed at a young audience that perhaps doesn’t have the sophistication to see how shallow and insipid the portrayal of Ellen is and how none of the difficult questions were asked. It is shock entertainment and totally glosses over the reality of secrecy, isolation and causation. I found it disturbing and unrealistic that the girl talks openly about her eating disorder, treats it like a game and finds a boyfriend while in treatment.
Ellen goes to a rehab house with other young people and the idea is that they’ll work together with their handsome Dr. (Keanu Reeves), to fix all their problems. It’s very Utopian and I can see how it would be captivating to young viewers. It’s presented like an adventure and could be construed as romantic, magical or as an educational starting block for some to make dangerous choices.
We see the characters compulsive drive for physical activity or calorie burns. It could be sit ups, running stairs, jogging…anything and everything that’ll keep the numbers on the scales moving down. Throughout, Ellen is also constantly ensuring herself that she can ring her fingers around her upper arm. A measurement of success.
To The Bone introduces the skewed relationship between the individual and food. The first is the chewing and spitting. This is when food is chewed and then spit into a bag because swallowing would introduce calories into the body. This is a way of purging without full consumption. Other things that are looked at are the compelling need to know the nutritional information of every food, how many calories burned with an activity, to have discretion over food by cutting it into tiny pieces, refusing to eat, or munching exclusively on low calorie foods like lettuce.
Though the movie isn’t going to win any awards, it brought the matter back to the forefront. Control (or lack there of), anxiety and a drive for perfection may push some young viewers over the brink. A skewed self image and larger emotional problems can kill a healthy future.
The character refers to an anorexic as “a Rexy”. Here are a few other terms to listen for.
A person referring to themselves as a Rex or Rexy or being part of a Rex Club, should set off the bells and whistles. Listen for the use of names like Ana (anorexia), Mia (bulimia) and Ed (eating disorder), in an endearing and familiar way especially if accompanied by unexplained or sudden weight loss. If someone says they’re going to hang out with Mia, Ed, and Ana, then some questions may need to be asked. Pro-Ana (promote anorexia) groups are rampant on the net. The kids know them, you should too.
If you have a young person (remember, eating disorders are not exclusive to girls), who’s experiencing stress involving food, diet, self image, self esteem, etc. and may be on the edge, then To The Bone could absolutely have a negative influence.
Parents/Aunties/Adults watch the kids. Kids watch your friends. This isn’t something to fool around with.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. Comments? suggestions? please message to fayeearcand.com or faye.arcand@icloud.com

*Published by Black Press

 

Auntie Says…Don’t bring your dope to my house.

I think the pending legalization of marijuana is great. I believe the government regulation and taxation of the product is a smart move. What I don’t like, is anyone thinking that marijuana is now so mainstream and accepted, that they can light up anywhere. The arrogance and disregard for other people gets me a tad bit riled up.

When you are a guest at someone’s home, you should be respectful of their space and rules. Would you go into someones house and put your feet on their table, or just open their fridge and start pawing through it? I sure hope not. The same goes for lighting up a joint…inside, outside…doesn’t matter. Unless you have express permission from the home owners (not their kid or their dog, and not the neighbor, or the government), you are not, I repeat, not, to light up. It is not your “right” to light up wherever you want. Go back and read that last sentence again.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t care what you do in your own home, but I definitely care what you do in mine. And, actually I care what you do in a public space too.

I went to a function a few months back where the guests ranged in age from fifteen to seventy five. One of the guests, male, around forty years old, came in, walked right to the outside deck where most of the guests were congregated and without a word to anyone, he immediately lit a joint.

Am I supposed to give him kudos for at least being outside, and for offering it around? The interesting thing was that no one said a word. Some didn’t care, a few people got up and went inside, and others completely ignored the proverbial elephant in the middle of the room.

I wonder what would have happened if it were a tobacco cigarette. I’m sure everyone would have felt much more justified in being vocal and asserting their personal thoughts but when it’s pot, people seem to shy away. Is it because you don’t want to be the one labeled as an old fashioned fuddy-duddy? perhaps a party killer? or the least cool person on earth? Come on…everyone’s doing it, right? Nope. They sure aren’t. The blatant disregard and rudeness of those that think they can smoke dope when ever, and wherever, they want, needs to be called out as unacceptable.

I’m not a prude (or I don’t think I am), and I smoked cigarettes for many years before quitting.
Society has deemed cigarette smoking dangerous and unacceptable. It’s so vilified that a smoker has to drive his car out to the middle of nowhere, lock all his doors, and watch over his shoulder to enjoy a puff. BUT smoking a joint openly in a public park, or as you walk your kids to school, or stand at a bus stop, are now all acceptable? I think there’s something a wee bit twisted here.

I find those who do not smoke marijuana are judged as being stiff, out of touch with the current trends, and goody-goodies, but I believe they are really the silent majority (perhaps too silent). The world is definitely changing and with those changes comes a difference in opinion, but not the right to be ignorant or rude. Don’t judge me and I won’t judge you, but if you try and smoke dope at my house, you’ll be asked to leave.

And don’t worry, we’re going to have a chat later about the wake and bake trend that I think is frying young brains.
Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Opinions? Questions? contact me faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

*Published by Black Press.

 

Auntie Says…You may need to take a closer look.

Perception is something that affects our lives every single day. Everything you see, feel, touch, or hear is translated into your understanding or impression of the world. That perception causes you to form an opinion, a feeling, and judgement whether you’re aware of it or not. Often in the mainstream media, stereotypes are perpetuated through the common perception present in our own short-sightedness.
The next time you’re watching TV, close your eyes. Can you tell the race or ethnicity of the person speaking? Can you tell someone’s job by the clothes they wear or the car they drive? How about happiness? Can you tell whether someone’s happy just by looking at pictures of them? That’s all perception.
Social media is all about perception. Auntie simply asks you to stop and take a more conscious look at it. Look at not only what you’re reading and seeing, but also what you’re putting out there. Awareness is key.
A quick flip through Facebook, Instagram, and even YouTube is always interesting when you’re looking at it with eyes wide open. All the smiles, positivity, and love that people post is amazing, but is it real? You can not, and should not, take any social media at face value because perception is not necessarily reality.
How many times have you retaken that selfie before posting? Every time you do that, you’re manipulating the reality. Have you thought of that? Why didn’t you sent the first one? Was the angle all wrong? or perhaps the picture made you look fat or your nose looked too big…there was something that made you erase and redo. The real answer is that you are wanting people to have a certain perception of who you are, and you want them to accept that as reality.
Everyone’s doing it right? It makes everything look like all sunshine and lollipops when the reality, perceived or imagined, is completely different.The problem comes when you actually accept those projections as reality. All media only gives you a one sided look at an already skewed reality.
It’s a human reaction to compare your perceptions with your own reality and they usually don’t measure up. You see a good friend posting pictures on Instagram…they’re all smiles and the images are amazing. Their lives look so interesting and incredible. Your brain goes to that negative place where everything in your own life now looks sad and ordinary.
Take another look at that pretty picture of a family with their big grins and seemingly perfect life and ask yourself how many times they took that pic to get it worthy of posting (or how many tears may have been shed, fights had, or whatever happens behind the closed doors that you’re not privy to).
Put a sticker near your screen that says “Perception is not Reality” to remind yourself that a lot of stuff you see if fabricated, air-brushed, sugar-coated, and/or the result of ten retakes. This can be a beginning of reclaiming your own power over your world because comparing everyone else’s life to your own can cause depression and anxiety. It becomes a vicious cycle when nothing you have, do, or are, measure up to what you perceive everyone’s world to be.
You’re always trying to catch up with everyone else or present your own pretty picture that it becomes exhausting. Awareness of the issue is the beginning of not allowing it to rule you.
Look at your own posts and offered perceptions. Are there times when you’re posting things for others to see, only to get attention and adulation? Perhaps you’re looking for the ….oh you poor thing…love you…feel better….all that stuff.
If you’re doing it…just remember, so is everyone else.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan.
http://www.fayeearcand.com

*published first by Black Press

Auntie Says…Hit the reset button this September.

Have you ever gotten to that point in the year where you need a change? A fresh start? Do you have that same negative message looping through your brain and bringing you down? You know the one…it sounds like ‘who cares anyway?’ ‘why bother?’ ‘I’m not that good/smart/thin/fast so why try?’ I’ve tried before and it didn’t work.’

All that negativity stuck in your brain, affects you every single day whether you realize it or not. It’s tucked in the back of your head and sucks you in because you don’t see any other way out. It’s time to hit the reset button and give yourself a break from your own negative self talk.

When you look back at the beginning of the year, were there things you wanted to complete or accomplish throughout the year? January is the traditional time to make resolutions and set goals but it’s the wrong time of year to do any of that.

Think about it…January is a cold, miserable month and the bills from Christmas start coming in…that’s no fun. You then make resolutions and pile on the pressure of having to change something major in your life and that can be a recipe for failure. It’s sad really because though you start with the best intentions, the odds for success are not in your favour.

Fast forward nine months and you have September presenting itself with all it’s glory. There’s a fresh energy in the air that can add a boost to anyone’s mood. The days are warm and the evenings cool…sheer perfection compared to January. September is the beginning of a new school year and it’s a time when new routines are reconfigured and embraced. What a great time to start a New Year. What a great time to toss out the negative self talk, take back the control, set new goals and make positive self-affirmations.

Who said that January was the only time you could set resolutions or goals? That’s ridiculous. You still have time to revisit those you made in January or set some new ones. You’re going to do things a bit different though. You need a calendar, a commitment, and some sort of accountability (ie: a friend to share your progress with).

To set a goal, you must have a time line…a beginning and an end, otherwise it’s just wishful thinking. The goal needs to be very specific and measurable. You may have a goal to be nicer to yourself. What does that look like? Does it mean you won’t eat chips at night or you will walk 30 minutes everyday, or perhaps you’ll commit to eight hours of sleep every night. Whatever it is, you must be specific and that’s how you begin to turn a dream into reality.

One thing to remember is that any goal you set should be about you. It’s not about fulfilling someone else’s agenda, it’s about being true to yourself and doing what you want. This is about YOU. Goals can often start with good intentions, but the energy dwindles and that’s why it’s good to have someone to discuss it with…perhaps your Auntie? If you’re beginning to fall back into bad habits, you need to revisit and adjust the goal. Any goal should be realistic and attainable. Change doesn’t come over night. Don’t set yourself up for failure. That can be depressing and brutal to the self-esteem.

Also be sure to set mini-goals. For example, if your goal is to drink only one latte a week, and you’re currently drinking one everyday, make the goal to drink only four, then three, then two…

The idea is to set yourself up for success and long term change rather than to fail. If you begin to set these goals now, by January your new behaviour should be ingrained and a new normal.
G—go for it. Give yourself permission to be successful.

O—only for you…don’t do it for others.

A—attainable—be realistic.

L—look for the long term change.

September is such a beautiful time of year to get outside (another plus compared to January), so take a deep breath and push that reset button.
And to answer that loop in your head, I’ll tell you…Auntie cares. You DO matter, and you ARE that good/smart/thin/fast and you CAN make anything happen. I believe in you. Happy New Year!

*First published by Black Press August 30, 2017

Auntie Says…Stop and think…sometimes less is more.

Let’s have a chat about tattoos, piercings, and stretching. For the most part, people aren’t too shocked anymore by these things.

Brow, cheek, or lip piercings, for example, if done professionally and in moderation, can be attractive…the biggest problem might be catching them on your favourite sweater.
Other body piercings that are, shall we say, more private…are nobodies business. My advice to you though is to always use a professional to do them and follow the rules of hygiene.

The nice thing about piercings is that they can be removed and don’t have to be a permanent part of who you are.

Tattoos however, are different in their permanence and projected (sometimes unspoken) message to the world. If you’re planning on getting one, slow down and consider your options. What may seem funny or cool when you’re 18, may not be so appealing when you’re 30. Tattoos can be a work of art or they can be an embarrassing ink stain on your body for all to see. The decision to get tats or not, is ultimately yours, but I make one plea to your senses…please no tats from the neck up.

Things like a tear tattoo, nazi symbols, or language on your face, neck or head, steps over the boundary of good taste. Stop and think…if someone is pressuring you or trying to talk you into something when the little voice in the back of your head is saying that it’s not a good idea, then tell them that Auntie said you had to wait. Blame Auntie…it’s all good.

Self expression is a good thing but if you’re moving forward without taking the time to weight the pros and cons (or making the decision while angry, drunk, or feeling spiteful), you can neglect common sense, dignity and self respect. Expressing yourself should be about you and not just to shock others in a negative way. If you tattoo ‘screw you’ across your forehead, what you’ve actually done is screwed yourself with a forever label of loser.

And let’s have a word about gauging or stretching. The other day I saw a man (he was probably about 35 years old) leaving a store…he had holes in his ear lobes big enough for me to put my fist through (this may be a bit of an Auntie exaggeration, but not by much). Given the opportunity I would’ve asked him why he’d done that to himself, and did he have any regrets. I would’ve also told him that I thought it was the ugliest thing I’d ever seen. Yuck. Gives me the heebie-jeebies just thinking about it.

This whole lobe stretching (some do it with their nasal septum as well…yuck), in my opinion, is just gross. Whether you’re doing it for attention or shock value, you definitely can’t disguise or cover it and you may not be able to fix it later. Ask yourself if that’s what you want. Do you want judgement passed about you before you have a chance to even present who you are?

Gauging is a slow process, (and apparently painful), so there’s no reason why you can’t pull back before it gets to the ridiculous proportions like the guy I saw (shiver). According to Wikipedia, the “point of no return is 10mm.” Consider the fact that sometimes less is more because once the lobe is stretched past that point, the elasticity of the skin is compromised and the holes won’t close. Mind you, this could be helpful when Auntie tells you to give your head a shake and you’re slapped upside the head by the floppy elephant sized lobes for doing it in the first place.
Be safe. Have a good week.

*First published by Black Press August 11, 2017.