Monthly Archives: May 2012

Good Grief

I never thought I could publish anything like this. At least not so soon in my blogging adventures. But good grief! Grief just seems to be everywhere these days. It’s also been a big part of my life for as long as I can remember, so here it goes. Here is my lovely tell your mother thoughts on the matter.

My first brush with grief was the loss of my bio father. While he did not actually kick the bucket, I never saw his face again after age 4. This was my first experience with loss. Around age 11, my bio mother was the victim of a murder suicide. This was my first experience with total tragedy, and to make matters peachier, I read about the details in the news. At age 22, the love of my life and my baby daddy met his end. This was my first complete and utter heart break. I can’t actually count the number of friends that have died since or in-between. This is where my immunity to grief was fine tuned.

When a close family member or friend dies you hear the words be “strong” and I’m “sorry” a lot. Even upwards of 15 years later.  Just last week someone told me they were sorry for the loss of my mother after they found me on Facebook.  I typically don’t say these things to people grieving. I’m generally pretty sick of hearing these things myself. However I don’t blame others; it’s just that awkward moment when you don’t know what else to say.

In my opinion, grief is not limited to the family of the deceased. Any loss of any human life is grievable by any person who is aware of it.  In many cases ignorance can be bliss. I guess that’s why a lot of people just don’t pick up the papers anymore. Maybe there are some assholes out there that don’t have an empathetic bone in their body, but I don’t know them personally.

I believe a community can grieve, a workplace can grieve, the extended circles of family and friends of the deceased can grieve the list goes on. Even the unsavory people who die, people can grieve them too. The fact is death and subsequently the effect of grief affects everyone. It makes us face our own morality. This is what is called being human.  What amazes me the most, in all of my close experiences with grief, is not that people die. Again I feel this is inevitable. Not even that people die tragically, or unexpectedly.  This too is part of life. What really amazes me is how the people around the dying or dead person, act, react, and respond to others.

I preface this by saying it is truly despairing to recount these two examples, as a female, a mother of a daughter, and of an orphan of crimes against woman. But this sadness, I am willing to accept for discussions sake.  A few months ago a young woman disappeared and was found murdered weeks later. Her case made national headlines because her disappearance was captured in part on a video tape. This happened in the region that I live in, and I have driven past what once was a memorial for her, that now is completely cleared of the tokens of grief and which now bares a for sale sign on the property. Even more troubling is that 2 days ago a young woman about the same age shows up in a river in a hockey bag in the area that I grew up. Tragic and disgusted does not begin to describe how I feel about either case. But in the second example the public did not even know the young lady was missing.

The main difference I have noted between these cases; is the parent’s response to the media and thus the communities affected by these tragedies. The first young woman’s family and community appealed to anyone who would listen- the message was bring her home. When the media broke with the story of remains of the woman found by a home owner the reports indicated that the womans was identified and that next of kin was notified, and that details were remaining confidential at this time at the request of the family. Subsequent stories reported around the issue and disclosed the identity which was met with grimaces from online communities.

My commentary with these cases is related to the role of the media, and in the public responses by the families of the dead. These two communities in the same province were not permitted to grieve in the same manor for the loss of 2 young woman who were victims of severe acts of violence. This is in our own communities, outside of the urban centers, where people suspect these things are supposed to happen.  The parents who appealed shared their grief with the community and allowed them to be concerned about their own mortality and the mortality of others. The parents who have not, instilled fears for those who are informed yet remain uncertain.

My mother had cancer before she die. After reading the headlines I pieced together what happened, that her cancer medication Oxytocin was the catalyst for the end for the Romeo and Juliet junkies. I say this with every bit of love and respect for my birth mother. But facts are facts. After years of abuse, this stuff put them over the edge.  Just before my mother’s death I was rejected by my family and placed in foster care. It was like they knew the end was coming and removed me from reminding them of how horrible things went. My family scapegoated me.

When David died I read a small article that stated a man was found dead outside of Calgary. We lived at least 2.5 hours away. The article did not paint any sort of tragic picture, and it was more or less, something happened.  Coincidentally, my child’s father’s family rejected us both after his death. At least by a sweeping  95 percent. There was no thought that my 5 month old child was the last sentiment of his recent existence. I was hated, I was blamed, and I was ejected from participating in the grieving before, during and after his funeral.

In both cases, I had no role to play in the demise of the people I loved and yet I am somehow excluded, rejected, and sent off on my own with my sorrows. No worries I am ok. I made it out alive. But what continues to plague me is how people can do this to one another. When people die we should be clinging to each other.

Recently I have been scapegoated for grief yet again. This time, I don’t know the deceased. I know his sister. God love the whole family. It was unexpected and sad. I have known the sister for almost a decade. We have had our ups and downs. When I found out, I cried and wept and prayed. I went to my guru and asked her to send her lots of love and strength that way. But despite my efforts, I was 5 days too late in my condolences. I did not get the news.  So now I’m not allowed to enter the grieving circle. I am not able to support a friend that I have cared a great deal for, and went through a great deal with.  I am actually told that I am no longer a friend. The rational is, I should have figured out what was going on via social networking and showed up for the events like everyone else. It does not matter that no one shared this with me through word of mouth, or that my social networking feeds don’t always prompt you on the things you need to know. Or even that I was in touch with the friend and another friend who knew, just to say hey, and without any responses, I missed the grief train and now I’m just ousted, like I never cared at all, and like I have nothing at all to contribute in the department of helping others deal with death. The man who died I only saw once in Tim Horton’s. I just knew that he was my friend’s brother from pictures. While this news is sad it has nothing to do with me personally, I get that, but loss of life as part of the human experience, like I mentioned in this article, affects us all. Losing a friend because I didn’t know about the death sure as hell does.  But what the hell can I do now? Nothing at all. I can only hope they all get through without me. I can only worry about what I can control.

And I can’t, never could, and never will control over how other people deal with their grief.  But maybe this article may influence anyone who reads it – in their responses to others around grief.

Death is tragic. The media plays (or sometimes does not) play a part in how people find out and engage with the death either by themselves or as part of community.

For the love of good grief- when I die- please do not have a funeral. Please just party.  Don’t be mad at anyone for showing up, or not showing up or for whatever.

Let the love, laughter and light flow.

In thoughtful and loving memory of those loved ones lost.

It’s an artist! It’s an Empire!

No it’s superwoman Lisa Drader Murphy founder of Turbine! The right mix of artist and empire is rare!

Read this for a taste of how this combination can be achieved: http://turbinefashion.tumblr.com/post/23857404359/turbine-studio-grand-re-opening-friday-june-1st-2012

This article could not better be tuned to my cherished motto be smart, brave and kind. This personal narrative captures a quintessential perfect artist empire woman with a smart, brave, and kind world view.

Turbine fund has donated well over 1 million locally and around the world. Join us Friday and celebrate Lisa Drader-Murphy and her cultural, iconic and philanthropic contributions to the artistic, business and social communities of Nova Scotia!

Let’s Talk About Sex

Sex is without a doubt a biological instinct- the drive in the almighty mating game. Sex for much of human existence has been about reproduction at its fundamental core, although this epistemic is definitely being expanded by individuals who have certain obstacles to navigate sex in this regard. For people who engage with partners capable to reproduce, all fantasy and fluff from Cosmo and other mainstream media aside about sexy this, and sexy that, sex and subsequently birth control have one thing, in common, and it’s pretty unsexy, but pretty darn cute if you ask me. That one thing is babies. Even when Salt and Pepper talk about sex it ends in baby. Sex and babies just generally go together.

Any recovering Catholics should promptly go to a corner and cower jut saying.  Birth control is just an option, in making sex not equal babies and one that does not always work, (love ya kiddo- happy you beat the odds!). Sex and babies these days for women really is just a choice. But I’m overwhelmed with this all today. Babies. The miracle of life! The sheer awesomeness of creation!  Its topical two fold I welcome a new baby into my family, my very first lovely little lady niece. I am so happy. But also feeling a big case of the, this is a big deal reminder because last week  I had a doctor’s appointment because I am considering being fixed, spaded or neutered, if you will- (see above brackets, plus I was a tube baby- I know it’s somewhat flexible by fate).  Some kids are meant to be here so be it, but if you can prevent one unplanned, that’s spectacular right?

For many reasons fixing myself seems to be a fiscally responsible and medically sound option. Let’s face it this puma is not getting any younger. Pushing 30 in less than 5-10.  Hello- goodbye, youth! Who has energy for small children late in life and careers? The cost of livng has exloided who can afford more than one solo and also having a child already, I understand that parenting requires a lot more than love, it’s the real deal. You need to be smart, brave and kind 24/7 to be a parent. There are no guarantees you will not have to do it alone, for all of some part of it. So all you mamas and papas and mamas and papas need to be put on those big girl panties.  Being a real parent means no I in us, and no me in we. It’s also not a dress rehearsal.

My doctor points out that I am not hard to look at during my consultatin and that I may find a partner who wants children. I hate hearing this. Like shut the F up. Of course this thought lingers a little longer than it should. If I am thinking get me out of this room before he proceeds to say my odds for finding the best partner to mate with should be targeted to someone not as good looking as myself to increase my odds of not being a single parent twice. I wish I recorded this convo, and that I had a barf bag. I make up an exucse why I have to go but will book my appointment on the way out. The convo me remember when I was still grieving, a very fine looking doctor that was interested in me, asked me if I wanted more children after tracking me down to secure a lunch date. I was sort of shocked he was so forward on the issue. And at the end of a lunch date. My response at the time was along the lines of the lines of I guess I could consider it for the right person. This sentiment is sort of haunting me now. Leave it to to the dam male doctors to talk about babies like they have any real empathy for this condition. All this baby and birth control talk, I just feel baby bombarded.

Maybe it does not matter about the what ifs, maybe I just do what feels sound right now, and maybe any partners I’m with in the future can accept not planting a seed. I don’t have a committed partner at the moment, I’m finishing my masters and re-launching my career pot graduate studies and I’m super motivated to live every day. This is my time to get going, the first 5 years have been dedicated to my daughter.  I am ready to help her grow up and not need me as much so I can make our way in the world.

Hurm. Life. Reproductive rights. Choices. Chance and fate. Figuring out the odds.

Creepy or Cool?

This company is some how connected to my Blog stats in the referrals section? What does referrals even mean? Is this creepy or cool?  I am very curious.

http://www.superclick.com/ 

An article about making sense of the millennial

http://www.halifaxchamber.com/files/04/04/PeopleStrategyGenerationsMake_Meaning_of_the_Millennial.pdf

Google Yourself – You might find a media article you never did an interview for

I admit. I do it. I Google myself. Here is what I found. I think they snacked a radio interview I did with the Hawk. I don’t recall talking to that news medium. And I would know I was working as both a reporter and a Co-op person then.

Gotta love lazy journalism. 

My published quote: 

“This is a great announcement for St FX. Our students will have more opportunity to work in more diverse sectors,” says Ashley Kowalewski, St. FX co-op adviser. “It also puts our post-graduates in the position where employers may retain them as employees. In addition, it will help retain our educated students with a year of professional experience in the region.”

What I may have actually said, ” This is a great announcement for all Co-op students in the province, who will have more access to diverse work terms. As well it will help to position the region to better retain students recruited to NS as part of the future work force.” 

http://www.ngnews.ca/News/Local/2011-02-17/article-2251141/Province-announces-new-funding-for-university-coop-student-jobs/1

A great project I am lucky to have worked on!

Community Voices: A Stakeholder’s Action Plan with the Office of African Nova Scotia Affairs.

http://www.gov.ns.ca/ANSA/communityvoices.asp 

Thanks Readers

I am amazed readers from all over the world! Thanks everyone. You can view some of my professional work here:

http://www.contractme.ca/publications.asp?Category=From+Our+Member+Experts 

 

 

Miscommunication

When communication fails, I can’t help but be discouraged. I am a communicator. I believe in open, honest, and timely communication. When communication breaks down personally or professionally, I over analyze the crap out of it.

In my experiences communication typically breaks down for one of two reasons; misinterpretation and opposing viewpoints. Communication is like a dance, you have to flow, and pause, and continue with many other things in mind; the context, your partner, and the objective of being engaged in the event/activity.

Avoiding misinterpretation is achievable by everyone. First you need to be timely, when communication via email or text most quickly gets out of line is when there is a lag in the response for asking and answering questions. This is where a mole statement becomes a mountain to climb. For people initiating the communication, indicate the who, what, when, why and how of information pertinent to the conversation, and don’t assume that the reader of your message receives this information as you intend. For receivers of messages, when you are not sure, ask to be sure. Keep the dance going, be in step with the music, and flow and break when needed. Common understanding of the context and purpose of the communication helps everyone engage in the dance more effectively.

On the other hand, consistency in viewpoints and consensus is not always generally achievable. Because uniqueness is ever present and people do not always agree, on all issues, all of the time, consideration has to be made on when to toss in the towel if common acceptance is not possible. So I think acceptance is the biggest hurdle to combat the second cause of miscommunication. People just have to accept that people are different; they have different needs and different approaches. Dancing and communication are all about give and take. You have to offer and you have to accept. You also have to be willing to adjust when needed. Because people align their views, actions and behaviors based on their values, so with communication it’s impossible to find consensus on all matters, all of the time. Acceptance should be the goal when the viewpoints involved in the communication vary greatly.

Another factor in avoiding miscommunication is asking yourself what to do when facing a dilemma or dispute is why is the communication breakdown occurring? Does everyone involved know the who what when why and how, is this situation arising because of misinformation, misunderstanding, or just a difference of world view points?

Sometimes the best strategy is avoidance, sometimes its acceptance (even if it’s only you accepting) and sometimes you have to assert yourself in a situation. When communication fails, its ultimately where things start getting tossed around, where emotions are high and where considerations have to be made. Do your best to mitigate these situations as best you can by simply understanding the situation and determining what’s the ultimate goal of the communication, how can emotive responses be defused and how can you resolve the misunderstanding, if that’s possible.

I personally can’t allow these conundrums to continue to affect me so much in the future. It’s counterproductive towards my ultimate life goals which are driven in effective use of what I have My time and mind space is limited.  Not allowing ineffective and negative communication consumes me is a positive step in the right direction for me.  It just sucks up my time, and depletes my emotional reserves.

The best advice I have to offer as a communications professional and person with life experience is to understand your situation, decide if clear communication or resolution of miscommunication is at all possible and, if not, make the most of bad situation by asserting yourself. Don’t allow people to crap communicate to you. Block what’s bad by only absorbing what’s good, insert hip moving and shaking here.

Protest Sign in Tatamagouche

No Fracking Way

Sign Tatamagouche NS Farmers market.