All women should be celebrated, and not just on Mother’s Day.

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Auntie Says…A Mother’s Day Message

Auntie Says…Celebrate all women this Mother’s Day

When I think of Mother’s Day I’m torn between so many images. I can picture little kids carefully cutting out flower pieces to glue to the front of special cards they’re making for their mom. I think of fancy hotel brunches with mouth watering feasts, or gifts from dad of sparkling diamonds laying on a bed of deep blue velvet. I envision long line-ups at the ice cream parlor, and of course, the ever-popular breakfast in bed with the burnt toast. I can hear the laughter of my ninety year old mother-in-law who still lights up a room with her infectious grin. And then there’s the memories of my own mom, who passed away almost four years ago, which bring a smile and sometimes a tear. 

My mom always got swamped with gifts on Mother’s Day. The dining room table would be filled with huge bouquets of fragrant flowers and there’d by boxes and bags everywhere. The phone would ring all day and the calls would all be for her.  

“You kids need to save your money,” she’d say as she buried her face into the roses. “It’s all so beautiful but I don’t need all this fancy stuff.”

I always enjoyed buying for her though because she’d mothered eight kids and as a result had gone without many extras over the years. Several other families brought gifts to my mom on Mother’s Day too. See, our home was busy with neighbourhood kids all the time, and mom also babysat. People wanted her to know they appreciated her and the day to do that was Mother’s Day. 

The commercial side of Mother’s Day is actually quite exclusionary. The ad campaigns we see online, in store, or hear on radio are a forced projection of what “mother” is. While to some, it simply represents the female parent, to me it’s a universal concept that looks more at the act of nurturing and growth and not just as the prescribed role. I suppose I’m switching the noun to a verb. Mother v. mother. (thanks to all my English teachers).

Everyday, our children have female role models in their lives that are not a parent and each is special in her own right. The act of mothering (nurturing, loving, and guiding) is often instinctive and passed to children from grandmothers, aunties, teachers, sisters, friends, and caregivers—each sharing different and unique experiences, history, and influence.

I’d like to propose that this Mother’s Day we all begin to recognize and thank women in our lives for the contribution they make to the upbringing of our children on a regular basis whether directly or indirectly. 

Text your sister and tell her how proud you are of the mother she’s become, or slip an anonymous card into the door of a single parent you know—tell them they’re doing a great job and that you admire her child’s manners or behaviour. Every parent loves to hear good things about their kid. Speak the truth and be sincere—nothing stinks more than an artificial or hypocritical compliment. 

Email your friend and let her know how special she is and that her caring attitude toward your own child is appreciated. Years ago, I received a hand-made card from one of my son’s friends telling me that he thought of me as his second mom. That specialness and memory will never be lost.

Pick up the phone and call your Auntie and let her know how important she is in your life. If you don’t want to call now you can wait for “Auntie’s Day” which is on July 22, 2018 as declared and promoted by New York author and “savvy auntie”, Melanie Notkin. 

I guess the whole thing is, that though Mother’s Day is special and I’m glad it’s set aside for the recognition of moms, kids have more than just a parent to thank for all of their learning and growth. 

To every woman in my life, past and present, you’ve all made an impact one way or another and made me who I am today—I thank you. To every woman in my son’s life, thank you for your nurturing, wisdom, and caring. Happy Day to all who mother.  

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com or http://www.fayeearcand.com

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

Dating Abuse and Manipulation

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Auntie Says… A different kind of bullying. You’re not alone. Be Aware.

If you ask any kid what the biggest problem in school is, they’re likely to say bullying. It’s one of those insidious things that sneaks in and shows up in the hallways every single day. Campaigns, like Pink Shirt Day, bring much needed attention and awareness to the problem as students, teachers, and communities work together to make the situation better. 

One facet of bullying that’s rarely mentioned though, is the reality of dating domestic abuse/manipulation among young people. Like school yard bullying, it can no longer be swept under the carpet and ignored, otherwise it’ll grow and fester in secrecy and those entrenched in the ugliness will feel alone and forgotten. A strong message needs to be embraced—namely, love should never hurt, be about jealousy or control, and domestic violence can (and does) occur among young dating couples—believe me, you don’t need to be old and married to be caught in an abusive relationship. 

Usually the relationship begins like any other but can end up feeling suffocating, controlling, or even dangerous. It doesn’t necessarily happen quickly and the subtle nature of it can leave you in doubt. Just keep in mind that a loving relationship is a partnership of two, not a dictatorship of one. You always have a right to discuss your concerns and have them heard. Sometimes it’s just a misunderstanding or miscommunication. Life happens, but when the negative behaviour is escalating into nonstop bullying you may need to put your pink shirt on and find some help.

Here are some things I want you to be aware of, for yourself and your friends—and guys listen up—we so often think of domestic/dating abuse as being against women but it happens to guys too. It’s not okay to have a girl dig her nails into you, pull your hair, kick you or blame you for being late etc—nope not ok. You should be able to say ‘I don’t like that…’ or ‘please don’t do that…’ and be heard and respected. 

Signs of an abusive relationship:

Excessive isolation and manipulation. If your partner takes up all your time and attention, always wants to be with you (not your friends and family—just you), is very possessive, doesn’t want you to hang with other people, and makes you feel bad for having any type of life independent of them— that’s not normal. If your partner threatens self harm if you don’t comply with what they want, this is a huge red flag (and a scary one) and an indication that you need to seek advice or help.

Does your partner always have to have their way? Are they really bossy and demanding? Moody? to a point where you feel threatened if you defy them. If your partner forces or pressures you to do things and you comply just to keep the peace—that’s not love.

Is you partner hyper critical and always putting you down? If they tell you you’re fat or stupid—dump them—now. If a partner tells you how to think or tells you that you’re opinions/beliefs are wrong…that’s not love. 

Is your partner controlling? This could be anything from being told what to wear, who you can talk to, or what you can eat. Is your partner deceptive and sneaky—do they cause you to be late for work? miss an exam? show up just as you’re about to leave with your friends because he/she needs you? This in not ok.

Is your partner jealous or insecure? Do they get angry when you talk to other people? Do they want to know who you’re with, or who you’re talking to…all the time. Do they check your phone without permission and accuse you of things you didn’t do? This is not love. It’s controlling and will escalate over time.  

Does your partner have an explosive temper? Is everything always your fault? Do they give you the silent treatment or punch walls? Are you afraid of them? 

Is your partner physically hurting you? Call 911 or if necessary attend your local hospital emergency. 

For confidential victim service information for yourself or a friend, call VictimLinkBC, 24/7 in British Columbia and Yukon 1-800-563-0808 

If you think you, or a friend, may need this number in the future, put it in your phone under Auntie…no one but you needs to know what the number is for. There are also many local resources available. Your school/college counsellor, and local police being two very public and accessible ones.

The message of Pink Shirt Day is that we all deserve to be treated with dignity and respect. No one should ever live in fear. Embrace the message. Be safe. 

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the South Okanagan. She can be reached at faye.arcand@icloud.com  or www.fayeearcand.com #SignsOfAbuse #RespectNotFear #AuntiesSays 

Faye Arcand

faye.arcand@icloud.com

Auntie Says…”What we think, we become.” (Buddha)

Here we are at the beginning of 2018 and I’d like you to take a critical look at your thinking. Is it centered around self doubt or truth? Are you overanalyzing a situation that you can let go? Let’s take a look…

A few months ago I met a young woman who described herself as “abrasive and unlikable”…those were her words. She’s in her mid 20’s, very attractive, fit, and presents herself as a professional. I was taken aback by her self effacing talk and told her what I saw. She said that she’d never felt good enough and couldn’t compete with the people around her—especially other woman. I asked her if there’d been a specific incident that brought this on and she said that she’d been very shy in high school and just “knew” that others didn’t like her.

This was so sad because she’d allowed herself to become crusty and defensive in her negative stance simply because of her own, (I think false) thinking. She compares herself to others, “knows” what others are thinking about her without actually experiencing it, and is stuck with that terrible echo in her head of not being good enough.

Does it sound familiar? It’s not unique—we all do it, it’s just to what degree. What we need to remember is that those messages we allow to live (and sometimes fester) in our brains are not always tried, tested and true. As we progress into this new year, it’s a great time to reflect on the internal dialogue and perhaps work on making some changes.

This is so powerful to consider because of all the situations you encounter and internalize on a daily basis. Thoughts, both positive and negative, can become a part of you as they loop around in your head.
Do you ever silently beat yourself up emotionally over and over for things you’ve said, or didn’t say? Did? or Didn’t do? Should or shouldn’t do? It’s endless.
All simple and mundane actions or words that have the ability to spin out of control and get in your head whether coming from your best friend, a co-worker or complete stranger.
The day can be lost when a comment, a look, or gesture gets caught in that loop in your head that won’t let you rest because you’ve convinced yourself that you’ve made an egregious error and force yourself to live it over and over.
Picture this…you’re walking down the street and someone vaguely familiar is coming toward you. You can’t remember their name or where you’ve met—what do you do? Panic? Hide? Then they walk by and don’t even look at you…Now where does your brain go? For some, it’ll go straight to the negative and disparaging.
I’m forgettable…They don’t like me…They probably think my shoes are ugly…I have bad breath…on and on.
Can you see the spiral getting out of control? A downwards descent into self doubt, anxiety, and depression—boom—just like that. You felt positive about the day when you left home only to slide quickly into the proverbial rabbit hole of darkness and isolation by your own thoughts.
Nowhere did you consider that the other person maybe lost in their own spiral, on the phone, or is too nervous to say hello because they don’t feel worthy.
What’s really happening is, that like the young woman who sees herself as being unlikeable, you’re stuck in your brain as judge and jury without a trial. There’s no truth in the thoughts—you’ve made them all up. If you begin to recognize the false thoughts you may be able to pull yourself back enough to reevaluate the situation and your conclusions.
The mind is so powerful and you can find the strength to realize that not all thoughts belong—they’re false, they’re damaging, they’re toxic. Close your eyes and imagine putting them in an envelop, sealing it and mailing them away. I know, it may sound silly, but remember you’re the one in control of those thoughts and sending them away may be enough. Perhaps each time you think a negative thought, you have an envelop on standby and stuff it.
One that always works for me is to recite ‘not my circus-not my monkey’. Simply meaning that I’m not going to allow those outside thoughts that don’t concern me into my brain.
What you need to look at is whether or not any of those negative, self destructive thoughts are enough to take you off your game. Find some strength from deep within and remember that not everything you think, or even feel, is truth, and just because you think it, doesn’t mean that you have to believe it.
If you find yourself stuck in the negative thought patterns with no sign of breaking free, it may be time to seek help. Let’s make 2018 the best yet.

 

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

*Published by Black Press

Auntie Says…Sometimes Christmas sucks.

So, the cat peed in the Poinsettia, the dog scarfed down the turkey, you couldn’t find any Fingerlings, and oh heaven forbid if the tree is not symmetrical and even. It really (yes, really!), is okay.

All around there’s bright lights, perky elves, and lots of good cheer, but sometimes you have to remember that it’s not an easy time for everyone. Christmas is one of those times of year when you think everything has to be perfect and easily forget about the reality of what’s going on around you.

We’re all fed a scintillating anticipation of the fantasy of what Christmas is, or should be. You do the advent calendars, or the count downs, to the “Big” day, only to have it arrive and fizzle. By the time the countdown is finished, you’re exhausted and done. People argue, some are undergoing medical treatments, many have to work (thank you police, fire, hospitals, first responders!), and some are just mentally checked out.

I love Christmas, but it hasn’t always been that way. A few years back, my younger brother, (Gordon aged 32), had a sudden massive heart attack on Christmas Day. He died on Boxing Day. Needless to say, it was the Christmas from Hell. For many years after, my Christmas’ was defined by that tragic memory and it took a long time to find a way to reconcile the loss. I had to redefine what the holidays are all about for me and make choices about the entire season.

Here’s some Auntie tips to help keep yourself on track for the holiday season.

Let the concept of “perfect” go and don’t compare yourself to others. You know what I mean, I know you do. The tree needs to be just so, the food tasty and rich, and the gatherings all laughter and smiles. I’m telling you that its all a rouse and big commercial hype because someone will always do it better. Carve out your own traditions this year and try to make it something quirky. Use your imagination and have fun. It’s about building memories, not about outdoing the neighbours, having matching sweaters, being ten pounds lighter, perfect wrapping—you get it—let it go.
Know, and remember, that gatherings with family can be stressful. Just because it’s a certain date doesn’t mean that all past transgressions are forgiven or forgotten. Little friendly digs between family members can really set the stage for trouble, especially if alcohol, stress, fatigue, and a sense of obligation (aka: I don’t want to be here) are involved. Make sure you go in with a plan. Keep yourself busy. Know how to deflect. Me—I used to always go to where the little kids were. My nieces and nephews were always more fun than the adults. I come from a large family so Christmas dinner meant forty plus people—it could get hot and stuffy real quick—bring clothes so you can take a nice walk in the cool air—it does wonders.
Try and stay out of debt. This could be a hard one for some as the season is dictated by the commercial steam-train and especially where there are children it’s hard not to give in. I totally get it. I vividly remember being about nine years old and in my stocking I got a scarf and tam. I was thoroughly disappointed and disgusted. I can still picture it today, but I also got over it, and somehow survived.
If you know of someone who’s alone, or maybe going through a divorce, an illness, or elderly, invite them over. Usually there’s plenty of food and bringing in a stranger can stimulate the conversation and at the same time give back.
Try—just make an effort—to not over indulge. Whether it be food, drink, dope—just take it easy and remember you don’t have to pack it all into that one day.

Merry Christmas. xo

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

*published by Black Press*

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.