Poverty, Public Transportation, and Priorities

(Trigger warning for abuse. Trigger paragraph in italics)

I think that public transportation should be free to anyone who doesn’t pay income tax because they’re too poor. Public transportation doesn’t exist for the sole purpose of reducing our carbon emissions. It is a way for people to get to work if they can’t afford a car. It’s a way for teenagers to have independence. It’s a mode of transportation for the public.

Poverty exists where I live. I live in one of the wealthiest provinces in Canada, and there are people living right next to me in awful, horrifying, unacceptable poverty. But I don’t see them. I don’t know them. I wouldn’t even know about them in any kind of real way if it were not for Mark Cherrington. Mark is a youth worker in Edmonton who tweets about his work with kids and teenagers.

One situation that I’ve seen him tweet about countless times goes like this. Jane (15) has no money. Her mom uses anything she can get her hands on to support her addiction. There’s no money for food. Jane needs to get to school, so she walks to the train and gets on without a fare. It’s one of those rare days there’s transit cops, and she gets a ticket. There’s no way she can pay it. The deadline to pay the fine passes and now there’s a warrant for her arrest. (This seriously has happened to me, but I had the cash to pay the fine.) Her mom’s boyfriend beats her up so much that she calls the cops. They show up and arrest her because she has a warrant. She spends the night in jail, with no medical attention because she didn’t buy a $3 transit fare. Many kids turn to prostitution to pay for their transit tickets. How messed up is that?

This happens. I can’t believe it, but it happens.

I understand that it costs money to build the infrastructure of any transit system, but it’s costing tax payers a lot of money to deal with all of the consequences of tickets issued to people who are so poor they can’t afford to buy fare in the first place. It’s not like we would be missing out on all of the millions of dollars that they are paying into the system.

Currently in Edmonton, there is only a low-income transit pass available for seniors who have an annual income of less than $16,000. So if you’re not a senior, a monthly youth pass is $69 and an adult one is $89. In Calgary, there’s a low-income pass for $44/month, but you have to have a valid address and an income of less than $20,000 if you live on your own.

This doesn’t make any sense. People in poverty can’t afford to feed themselves. They shouldn’t be penalized for using public transportation when that’s their only option.

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Depression

Over the last month I have come to understand what depression is.  I always thought that since I had an intimate relationship with anxiety, that would be it and I’d always be anxious when I was stressed, and never depressed. Not the case.

Though I must say that so far, being depressed is much better than being anxious. Anxiety is caring too much, and depression is not caring at all. It’s so much easier to not care. My moods have been really up and down, so I haven’t hit the huge depression spiral yet, which is good. I’m getting some help this week from my naturopath and a counselor to make sure that I don’t get there, or that I have some tips and tricks to deal with it if I do.

The first thing that I noticed was my memory. I sent an email to a coworker thanking her for something she did, but it turned out it was actually something I did. Losing my phone more than usual (which is impressive, just ask my boyfriend). Losing my agenda for a whole month, only to find it in a grocery bag on the floor of my pantry.

My attention has also been bad. I feel like my brain just doesn’t work anymore. I can’t concentrate for very long, and I can’t hold a number of complex ideas in my head at the same time like I used to. It sucks.

During my times of being depressed, I’m extremely sensitive to auditory stimulation. The children being loud, or anything other than angelic drives me nuts. But when they do things that would have before given me anxiety, I just sit there and ignore it. I don’t care. Any group of people around me is pretty excruciating. Talking with more than one person is too much.

Then there’s the sadness. Crying at work. Sobbing at other inappropriate times. A bit of hopelessness. Feeling blah.

I know that one of my coping tactics is exercising outside. Since I have a broken foot, that’s just not an option. I’ve been trying upper body workouts at home but it’s really not fun. That’s not my style of exercise, but I have to force myself to do it or it’ll be bad news.

I know that another one of my coping tactics is self-care, and I’ve been kind of bad with this one, but I have realized it and I’m trying harder. This is painting my nails, reading books, saying no to social situations that I know will make me feel worse.

It’s been interesting experiencing a different kind of mental illness. It’s weird how I feel that it’s not me in control, the same as I feel when I’m really anxious. I’m glad I can recognize what is me and what is not me. The rationalization really helps. I can’t imagine what it’s like for someone who never heard about depression, and the symptoms, and how to find help. I feel lucky that I have support in place – people who can keep an eye on me and know what to do if I can’t help myself.

Strategies for D-MER while Tandem Breastfeeding

TouchstoneZ

English: Ágnes Geréb, Hungarian midwife and do...

One of my favorite things about birthing at home is being able to snuggle in bed with my new baby(ies), my older children and my partner. My midwives take care of us physically, spiritually, and emotionally. I am treated like a birthing goddess while they are respectful of our family bonding space. The midwives make sure there’s food for us and they clean up everything from the birth so I can concentrate on falling in love all over again with this new version my family.

My midwives also check in with breastfeeding, since that is my desire. With my first son, they helped me understanding good positioning and latch. And since we had a rough start, recommended an excellent IBCLC that I credit with saving my breastfeeding relationship. For the rest of my singletons, they were there in case I had any issues and supported me as I tandemed and…

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Christmas!

Yes, it’s only the beginning of November and I’m talking about Christmas. I’m one of THOSE people 🙂 Up here in Canada, winter is 6 months long. Seriously. The snow shows up around Halloween and doesn’t leave until the end of April. In order to survive, we need things to look forward to, and Christmas is the first one! Once Halloween is done, Christmas is fair game. Our Thanksgiving is in FALL and so we get that out of the way in early October (still doesn’t mean there won’t be snow).

I love Christmas. I love having a winter festival where everyone comes together and has FUN. I need to have fun. I need to decorate. I need to think about how special everything in the world is. I love having a special time of year that is different from the rest of the 6 months of cold, snow, and ice. A couple years ago I dressed up our fridge like a snowman. It was the cutest thing ever, and kind of stayed like that for a couple years. I love putting up Christmas lights EVERYWHERE. They’re just so perfect. I’d light the whole house with exclusively Christmas lights for all of December if I could. Maybe one day I will.

One of my favourite Christmases was when I had just started working. I was still living at home and I had a huge disposable income. I had so much fun shopping for fantastic presents for my family. I know Christmas isn’t about money, but it was still really fun to just go crazy.

This year, our Christmas will be different. It will be my first Christmas morning not at my parents house. The last couple years, J and I have Christmas dinner on Christmas eve with my parents, then sleep over and do stockings in the morning with presents, before going to his parents’ house. This year we will do Christmas Eve dinner and presents at my parents, then go home to our own house and do stockings in the morning just the two of us. I’m looking forward to it. Stockings are one of my favourite parts of Christmas, and it will be so special to have just the two of us.

I don’t know how much I will decorate this year, since our house is in the middle of renovations. I might just do our office and bedroom since those are the only unaffected areas. Or maybe I’ll make decorations for upstairs 🙂 Either way, I can’t wait. I already have half of my presents ordered, and I know what I’m getting for everyone else. I’m on top of it.

How do you feel about Christmas? Do you have any Christmas traditions that you just couldn’t do without?

Dreams

[trigger warning for non-explicit violence]

 

Dreams are really interesting to me. I’ve found they are linked to my real life in weird ways.

When I was young, I had many dreams that my house was on fire and I had to escape. Those dreams ended after we had an actual house fire. Don’t worry, everyone was safe, though maybe a little traumatized. (Possibly a story for another day.)

After that, I would have dreams all the time where someone would break into our house and I’d have to hide and call 911. Those dreams ended after our house was broken into. Don’t worry, no one was home. (Definitely a story for another day, it’s rather hilarious.)

In Grade 12, my last year of high school, I had so many dreams about people dying. Almost never people I knew. Never myself. Always in violent, terrible ways that freaked me out. In the dream I would just be there watching, unable to do anything. It started to really bother me, so I started looking up dreams about death online. I also asked my aunt who is an astrologer, and knows about that sort of thing.

It turns out that my dreams of death just mean that I’m going through a big transition in my life. Grade 12, starting university, moving out, finishing university, starting a new job. These are all times when I get to expect nightmares. They don’t bother me as much anymore, now that I know that they just signal change and my mind is just a little morbid when dealing with it.

To end on a happy note: The night Violet had her kittens, I had a dream that she had five of them: one that looked like her, an orange one, a bright green one, a bright blue one, and a purple one. When I awoke to see the baby kittens I named them Olive Fern, Periwinkle, Indigo, and Dandelion (the orange one). Perhaps the one that looked like her was her!

I think dreams are fascinating and I try to pay as much attention to them as possible.

Alcohol

I recently started consuming alcohol on a regular basis after four or five years of drinking rarely and very moderately. It’s interesting to think about my motivations for drinking and how it affects my social interactions and my emotional state in general.

I started drinking in my late teens, but very responsibly and rarely had more than 2 drinks in a night and rarely on any week night. It was definitely a social thing, and a way to make things work a little smother in my interactions. In my family, alcohol was no big deal. There weren’t huge rules around it, and it was just kind of understood that you are responsible about it. Although there was a history of some not-so-ideal behaviours in my family tree, alcohol never affected my life in a negative way.

During my last semester of first-year university, I found out that studying is a lot easier if you drink a glass of wine. I thought that was a habit I did not want to get into, and so I stopped drinking for all of finals. It was weird. Everyone asked me if I was pregnant. Everyone asked me if I was sure that I didn’t want a drink, just a little one. Everyone was scared that I was going to judge them for their drinking. At first it was hard to hang out with friends or get together with family and not drink with everyone else, but eventually I got used to it and so did everyone else. When my month was up, I just kept on not drinking. It was pretty easy because I saved a TON of money (and calories). I’d drink on special occasions, but only like twice a year. 

Later, one of the reasons for not drinking was that I was paranoid about my birth control not working and I didn’t want to drink before I knew I was pregnant. I have since come to better understand my body, as well as the effects of alcohol during pregnancy. 

So recently, like this summer, I’ve started drinking wine and beer. Before I only ever drank rum (mixed with anything) or coolers (Pomtinis were my favourite). Now it’s so much easier to drink what everyone else is drinking, and my consumption has picked up. I’ve given up freaking out about drinking during the two weeks I wouldn’t know if I was pregnant or not. Sometimes I drink on week nights, but only one glass of wine. I never, ever drive if I’ve had any alcohol during the day. 

I know my increased consumption has a fair amount to do with my emotional state. It’s easier to relax in tense social situations. It’s easier to relax after a long day at work. It’s tasty and it makes life a little better. And though I would have considered this a problem, my priorities are different right now. 

All that said, it’s really good to know that I know how to quit if I feel like it’s getting out of hand (like I’m getting dependent, or I’m gaining weight). I know what to drink instead (tonic water! organic pop! water with lime!). I know what to tell people. I know my family won’t be phased because I’ve done it before and they know I won’t judge them about their consumption. Until then, I have a case of Apothic Red in my kitchen, like a grown-up.

 

Kittens: Maybe a little like a teen pregnancy?

I’m an animal lover and an enthusiastic supporter of the SPCA. I never thought I would have a cat who would have kittens. There are so many baby and adult cats in the world that need homes, it would be irresponsible to not get my cat fixed and bring more kittens into the world. Yet, that is exactly what happened.

 There are a couple reasons why we didn’t get her spayed.

  1. Violet didn’t go into heat for a couple years. She is three and this is her first litter. We said we would spay her when she went into heat. She went into heat a couple months before she got pregnant. Possibly a year.
  2. We got her from a farm, knowing that she would be an outdoor cat. We didn’t want to spend a lot of money on her if she was going to run away, or prove to be not so smart and get eaten.
  3. I love kittens and the thought of possible kittens was not any kind of deterrent. Though now I know they are a lot of work, and we will be getting her fixed as soon as the kittens are weaned.
  4. As someone with The Worst Baby Fever In The World, I couldn’t possibly compromise anyone else’s fertility, even my cat’s.
  5. I was always sad that the dog we had when I was growing up never had puppies. She was an amazing dog, and one whose genes deserved to live on. Violet is an amazing cat and I’m so glad that there will be 3-4 more families in the world who get to experience having a great cat like her.
  6. I really didn’t think she would get pregnant.

 Once she was pregnant, and I was trying to do research about kittens, and how to help your mama cat, I was blown away at the lack of online (and IRL) resources available. First I took her to the vet (the appointment was supposed to be where we discussed getting her spayed but that changed when I found out she was pregnant). The vet was bitchy and rude. She was very displeased that I had let my cat get pregnant. Well, there wasn’t much I could do about it then, was there? So that didn’t help.

 Once she had the kittens, there were all sorts of things I was worried about. They were breathing weird sometimes (that’s just how they do), sometimes their eyes were stuck shut, I wanted to know why Violet had lumps in her tummy after she had them (it’s just the horns of her uterus that got hard after she had them – just like humans). First of all, I wasn’t going to call the vet because she was obviously not happy about the situation and I didn’t want her to make me feel guilty. I went online instead, and there seemed to be so little information about kittens and their well-being immediately after birth. As if cats never have their babies in the presence of humans any more. And when there was information, it was full of SEE YOUR VET RIGHT NOW OR THE KITTENS WILL DIE OMG. There is very little common knowledge of how baby kittens act because cats all get spayed. Unless you are on a farm, in which case you let them do their thing and it’s the law of the jungle. I was lucky enough to get some tips from my boyfriend’s aunt who lives in the country and has a couple outdoor cats who have kittens every once in a while.

I now have a better understanding how teen moms (or single moms) feel. They didn’t think they would get pregnant (or maybe they did – it’s their choice!) and once they are, people are mad at them rather than just helping them. They don’t know where to turn for help, and when they do, they are made to feel like they did something wrong. I can’t imagine how hard it would be to feel that alone. 

Kittens: Learning about parenting from my cat

Violet had beautiful babies almost 6 weeks ago and she has taught me a surprising amount about being a mom. 

When she was pregnant, I really saw how uncomfortable she was, especially towards the end. For some reason it really hit home how difficult those last few weeks are for human mamas. Maybe it’s because she didn’t have to pretend like she was loving every minute of it, or maybe I just haven’t been around that many pregnant women. We knew when she was going to have them because she just looked DONE with it all. 

She was a birth-giving champion. I know cats have less work than humans, being that the babies don’t have to go through a pelvic ring of bones, but she had four of them without any help from anyone else. I’m so thankful that everyone was happy and healthy. She really taught me to just let go and believe in the process. In general, she has made me realize that freaking out does no good, and everyone is almost always going to be just fine.

I think the thing that surprised me the most was the amount of time she spent away from them from the very beginning. During the first day she didn’t really leave them, but from the second day she would spend some big chunks of time away from them looking for pets from us which I called “Adult Time.” 🙂 She needed time away from her four starving nurslings and she took it. She was always close enough to hear them and would come if anyone seemed particularly distressed. They had each other to stay warm, and they were fine.

I also learned that right after giving birth is not a good time to change life-long habits. We were trying to keep her inside after she had the babies because I was scared that she might run off if she got out and what was I going to do with four tiny newborn kittens? She kept meowing at the door and would make a dash for it every time someone came or went from the office. Finally we just let her out. She was gone for about 2 minutes and came back in. As the babies got older she would go for longer, but rarely more than 15 minutes. It all worked out.

Have faith in the mama who was meant to do this, Emily!

Slowing Down

I’ve had my foot in a cast for the last week and a half and it has been an interesting experience!

This was the first time I ever went to the hospital for myself. They had a record for me, but I think it was from when I was born. I rolled my ankle playing soccer and it was really painful the next day even though I could walk on it, so I decided it would be good to get it checked out. Sure enough, I chipped my navicular bone.

There are many things I’m thankful for. 

  • I’m thankful it’s not broken. It mostly doesn’t hurt and it will heal very fast. I won’t have long-term problems.
  • I can take off my cast and have a normal shower
  • I’ve had to slow down. Physically and just my general pace of life.

This last one has been very educational. Before I broke my foot I was doing ballet on Mondays and Wednesdays, indoor soccer on Tuesdays and I had just started climbing again (Thursday-Sunday – probably twice a week). I loved it. I’ve been looking forward to all this activity all summer. But now that I’m stuck at home, it’s so nice to cross things off my to-do list and have a clean kitchen. I go home and I don’t have any plans. Most of my evenings are spent reading and cuddling our four baby kittens (another post for another day). I’ve had time to just take it slow and this is the pace that I’m happy at. I need to remember this. 

I’ve also had to move slower. I’m a fast walker. I like to know where I’m going and get there as efficiently as possible. With my cast, I walk very slowly and it’s been good. I take time to notice things around me. I focus more on being than where I’m going. It reminds me of what I wanted with my old phone – to not rely on it so much, and spend time just observing the world rather than distracting myself from it. 

This time has been a good lesson in living in the present, something I always need.