After that break-up you need to take a full year off to heal.

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Auntie Says…You Can Do Anything for a Year.

A few weeks ago my nephew came over for a visit. He’s 27, handsome beyond words, and very gregarious. He’s just one of those guys you want to be near because his energy is welcoming and positive and his smile always genuine. We chatted and got caught up but I knew he was circling around something that he wasn’t quite sure how to say. 

After a while, he couldn’t hold it in anymore. “We broke up,” he said referring to himself and his girlfriend of five years. He let the truth lay there on the floor in front of him—by now he was slouching and the energy that normally radiated from him had waned.

I could see the heartbreak behind the bravado and knew I needed to tread lightly. With the painful truth out there, we decided to go for a walk. The dogs (pets are such a good distraction, aren’t they?) were running and we chuckled and asked a lot of remember when? We have so many memories between us. His dad (my younger brother) died when he was six. After that, he  and his brother spent an extended vacation with me every summer.

“I’m not sure it’s over,” he said out of nowhere. “I think I still love her.” His voice was a whisper and he was staring at his shoes. 

Oh man, I could see how much he was hurting and I wanted to tell him that it would be okay but the physical pain is palpable. It’s been said that you can’t die from a broken heart but anyone who’s ever experienced it, sure feels like they’ll be the first to prove medical science wrong. The gut-wrenching agony is real whether you’re thirteen, thirty, or seventy and it takes time to heal.

Five years together is a long investment of time, emotion, and self and isn’t something to simply brush off without thought and careful consideration. I could see that he was struggling to make sense of it as he tried to lighten the mood by talking about his new job. The sadness in his eyes remained though.

“I think you need to stay single and celibate for one full year,” I told him. “Take the year for yourself to explore what direction you want to pursue.”

“One full year? I can’t date, or be with anyone, for one year? Seriously?” He was incredulous that I’d suggest such a thing. 

“Yes, take a full year off and concentrate on yourself. By jumping back into another relationship (or even the previous one) before waiting a year, you’re not 100% committed to the new person because you’re still wounded.”

He didn’t answer me. He didn’t have to. His eyebrows were raised in question, a smirk plastered on his face, and the continual nod—it was official—he thought I was nuts. I had to laugh because he obviously didn’t get the point. We continued our chat about his future plans and dreams.

To him, taking one year away from the dating/relationship world sounded daunting and impossible but it’s a period of time easily measured and one that can be committed to. It’s long enough to be significant and life changing, while short enough to be manageable. You can do anything for a year.

The pain and emotional toll of a break up should never be trivialized by rushing into another relationship or even back to the same one. The one year commitment to yourself can slow your impulsivity and shows maturity in dealing with your own issues before getting involved again.

“But what if I meet the love of my life before the year is up?”

“If she’s the one, she isn’t going anywhere,” I said. “Be friends and get to know each other. If she respects you and your decision to wait a full year, your future relationship will be stronger.”

He gave me a big hug and the smirk was replaced by contemplation. I think he heard most of what I said—time will tell.

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

Auntie Says…The term “bully” is over-used and doesn’t mean anything anymore.

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Auntie Says…Bully? How about tormenter or bulldozer?—it’s a better fit.

There was recently an article in the news about a school bullying incident that escalated to the point of involving the police. Apparently the Principal and staff could see the situation getting out of hand and chose to use every resource at their fingertips. Bravo. 

The Administrator and staff aren’t miracle workers and realized their own limitations in dealing with a simmering situation. Having outside support is huge in taking a stand against the unrelenting bullying that some students inflict and others suffer.

It was the comments following the article that I found to be most insightful. Many said they were teaching their children to fight back—‘knock the other child down’ they said ‘and then kick them’. While the comments didn’t shock me, they made me sad in that there is a misunderstanding as to what is actually happening in the schools and it makes me think that we need to re-think the word “bully”. 

The word is used to conjure up the image of an overly aggressive kid who pushes a smaller one down and steals the ball. That kind of hands on school-yard posturing hasn’t changed over the centuries and is only part of the picture. Parents telling their kids to fight back are not wrong because they’re giving their kid permission to have a voice. It’s a matter of “how” they fight. Hands on doesn’t work and chances are the kid retaliating will be the one who gets in trouble. We’ve all heard it—he started it—but it doesn’t make a difference. Having someone treat you badly is not ok and screaming bloody murder until an adult arrives (or the aggressor leaves) is an option.

 

Bullying has evolved over the years. It doesn’t necessarily mean hands-on, violent confrontation—it’s become sneakier, slimier, and more silent. Imagine someone walking by your work station every day, several times, whispering, ‘you stink’ or ‘I’m gonna get you’… always out of earshot of any authority figure. What if you were being deliberately ‘nudged’ in the hallway—just enough to throw you off balance—constantly. It’s sometimes done with a smile by someone who’s considered a “good kid” and not necessarily your likely suspects. It can be like a game or power play to them. Imagine going to work everyday and having your co-worker treat you like that. What if, every single day—over and over—you’re told you should ‘go kill yourself’…‘go off and die’…‘no one loves you’? That’s a slow erosion of an individuals self worth and confidence. You might want to punch them in the face in the lunchroom, but then what?

I remember reading about a woman who was the target of an online hate attack. She said that though she knew all the words were false, it ate her up inside. Every time she turned on her computer it was there…mocking her. While computers and phones can be turned off, the hateful whispers, innuendos, the seemingly innocent jabs in the hallway, or the open mocking by individuals, doesn’t go away. The question I ask, is whether or not this nonviolent/hands off bullying is being viewed as being as serious as a bully knocking down a kid and stealing the ball. I’m not sure it is and I think it’s worse—much worse—and frightening.

Maybe we need to change the word ‘bully’ to ‘thug’ or ‘goon’…how about ‘bulldozer’? 

The real question is, what satisfaction do these bulldozer kids get out of making someone else feel like crap? I know one person had commented on the recent bully story saying that the home life of the tormentor needs to be the focus. I totally agree. The focus needs to be off the act and on to the wrong-doer. They’re inflicting life long pain for what we all see as ‘no reason’, but there has to be some pay off. I’d like to know what it is.

If you have a story to share…let’s chat.

Faye Arcand is a freelance writer living in the south Okanagan. Contact her at  faye.arcand@icloud.com or fayeearcand.com

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…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