The Courage to be Me.

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In a society where I ask too many questions and I make too much noise,

I will keep going.

In a society where I weigh too much and I make you uncomfortable,

Too bad.

In a society where I can never work hard enough and can’t sit down to rest,

I quit.

In a society where God is man and forgiveness is only for those who are worthy,

I don’t believe it.

In a society where I am expected to sacrifice everything for you to feel important, heard and inferior,

There is no way you picked the right girl.

You know I have the capacity to blow the roof off this building and walk away, right?

I will keep going, because I have to.

Karla xo

PS. The part about “blowing the roof off this building” to be clear… figuratively. I was feeling brave while writing so I went for it. Yah me…the part about courage.

I’m onto you trigger.

Always a complex creature…because I’m the human kind.

I was triggered tonight by something I had seen on Facebook. (I know, I know too much Facebook isn’t good for you).

Before I delve into the trigger and reflection, I want to acknowledge that I am so thankful and grateful that I am able to recognize the trigger and the why. Knowing and having something in my consciousness is a gift. Self discovery is beautiful.

Back to the trigger. As I’ve mentioned in a previous blog post Eastern Healing vs. Western Medicine – No judgement either way., I am on an anti-depressant and thyroid medication.

The Facebook post was in relationship to “natural” healing and the masking of symptoms western medicine is accused of.

I love many of the modalities that eastern medicine offers and I do my best to incorporate them into my daily life but I also need to be on western medicine to function in life.

I understand full well how dysfunctional our society is. I don’t know all there is to know, but I am keenly aware of how damaging capitalism, patriarchy and the Protestant work ethic are for people and ultimately societies in western culture.

I can acknowledge that there is corruption in Big Pharma and it’s easy for doctors to throw medication at their patients…but the medication that I am on works for me.

It gives me quality of life, so that I can actually practice yoga; I can get a good nights sleep; I can ride through the waves of life in this society dictated by traditional ideals.

In my mind, there is this punishing narrative that because I am on conventional medication it means that I am not trying hard enough; I am not eating clean enough; it’s ultimately my own fault that I am not “healed”.

There is this underlying belief that western medicine is “bad” and natural medicine is “good”.

And if I examine that objectively I don’t think that is true. I don’t like the corruption that is behind the companies that make the medication, costs, profits, etc., but I can also acknowledge that there is corruption in spiritual communities or brands that market themselves as “healthy” and “natural”. It doesn’t matter where it’s coming from, they want you to buy their product.

If I knew a small vendor that could actually make Effexor I would buy it there. But I can’t.

There is also part of me that worries about the long-term damage being on medication is causing to my stomach, kidneys, etc.

But I am doing the best that I can. Simply, Honestly. Truly.

So the Facebook post triggered a response in my that left me feeling like I wasn’t trying hard enough. I was healed enough. I wasn’t perfect enough. I wasn’t woke enough.

It triggered me enough to write a snappy response. I didn’t feel the greatest after I wrote it but I was also upset. I felt personally attacked. The poster was someone that was selling a marketed, pyramid scheme health product. How are they any different?

A huge part of this is how I actually feel about myself. A need to be “perfect”. Yuck. I am responsible for own own well-being and what I put into my body. I get to make that choice and feel good about it.

A huge part of this is the shame baggage that I carry and the stigma around mental health and medications used for mental health issues.

I am actually so grateful that western medication exists because it can help people live better lives in conjunction with other healing modalities.

As we say in social work, there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach. Just because I work on helping myself differently than someone else doesn’t make my approach any less valid.

Self Compassion is key for me here.

These are the things I need to remind myself of.

Oh, and I am always worthy.

Karla xo

How do I….heal? Part 1.

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Simple question, complex answer.

Wanting a quick fix in today’s urgency culture, in addition to wanting to avoid our own discomforting emotions and situations is common and completely normal.

We all experience life. In a world where social media is increasingly prominent it is sometimes difficult to discern what is real and what isn’t. Let’s be really clear about this – no one is devoid of suffering. It’s part of the human condition. Equally true – no one is devoid of a loving nature. It’s also part of the human condition.

If this is speaking to you in any way, shape or form…keep reading. If you don’t want to read another one of Karla’s rambling blogs…stop here. The choice is yours but that won’t stop me from writing…

As I continue on my own journey as a human with all sorts of roles and responsibilities, and baggage there are a few things that I have learned as I reflect back.

It can take time, but it can be done. Several years ago, I remember feeling defeated and telling a co-worker, that there was no point in continuing therapy. I had learned all I needed to know and I was done. (What I was really feeling was stuck). My amazing co-worker (who was also working on her own healing) gently asked me “isn’t healing a life-long process?” Fair point. Obvious, yet when we are stuck in our own crap sometimes it’s hard to see out of it. And back to my first point of wanting a quick fix. It has literally taken me years to move past something that I thought was blueprinted.

Sometimes forwards, sometimes backwards but all in all moving forwards. We all make mistakes. Sometimes it takes a lot of mistakes. Keep going.

Therapy or counselling of some sort is helpful. (Even for those who have a background in it). As conscious of our biases and triggers that we think we are, having an objective source can be so valuable! Even now, I still have “a-ha” moments with my therapist.

Make sure it’s the right fit. Earlier on in my journey I had seen a counsellor for the 1st time and she told me I would never be able to go back to school; that I wouldn’t be able to handle it. I was pissed at the time and she was wrong. Instead of knowing that she wasn’t an “expert” I felt bad about myself and this isn’t helpful in the healing process.

Don’t let any counsellor or therapist tell you they are an “expert”…especially in regard to your life. If they do, move on. Peace out homie.

Find a counsellor/therapist/helper that has done some of their own inner work and are open enough to share it. You don’t need to know the specifics of their journey but for me, it has helped immensely with relatability and connection. If they give you a common line about maintaining professional boundaries, appreciate that but also know that if they can’t acknowledge they have their own dirty laundry, you might want to re-think where you are spending hundreds of dollars for YOUR healing. Just saying.

I initially planned on only writing one post about this but it’s not getting finished tonight.

A part of my healing is also…sleep. More to come….

Namaste

Karla xo

Social Media 101

Look at me, Damn it.

Dear Social Media,

I really don’t know what to think about you.

I’ve watched the Social Experiment and I agree you know how to interact with me and you know what I like. You always keep me coming back for more. I don’t hate you for it, and just so you know I can live without you. It does seem a bit unhealthy though.

Do you operate behind the scenes? Is it true that you own my pictures and my content? If I find out it’s true. We are going to have words.

There is something about your man Mark that just doesn’t sit well with me. Perhaps it’s the fact that he’s a billionaire and I’m not a fan of capitalism.

You screwed me over on one of your ads…it won’t happen again. I had to overlook that detail because it was partly my fault. I should have known it was too good to be true. And you were just doing what you’ve been designed to do.

The spill over effects of Covid-19 are mixed. You already know that people are hard-wired for connection. Screen time has been up for me, yet you will never reach the caliber of a coffee and a good book or a conversation with a close friend.

Now, I know what your thinking this letter has mostly been negative. But I do want to thank you for connecting me to all of the wonderful resources near and far. As I mentioned earlier you know what I like and that social work and self discovery are my jam. I can always learn something new thanks to you.

You’ve opened up worlds for people who would otherwise be isolated.

You’ve allowed me to be connected to people that I have encountered throughout my life. I’ve re-vitalized connections because of you.

I don’t need to see all of the body image and diet stuff though, especially on Instagram. I know I am a little late to that scene but seriously…it’s not necessary.

And this blogging thing. Well. You know Karla has lots to say. Thanks for providing a platform for me to do it on.

And Book Club has been awesome. I didn’t think that it was going to work out with Zoom because of internal differences but we are getting on just fine. It took me a while to figure out how to do a poll on Facebook – maybe it could be a bit more user friendly…just a suggestion. I am a Microsoft Word 2000 kind of girl but there is always room for growth.

So as I said from the beginning. I don’t know what to think about you because you are a mixed bag. I suppose you are kind of like a bag of potato chips.

All in moderation.

Karla xo

The Rise of the Parallels – Feminism and Pseudo-Feminism — Educational News

“The lesson here is you can’t expect users to learn. There’s too much fun going on out there on the Internet.” Pete Lindstrom The internet doesn’t spread misinformation, we the users do. We share anything and everything, without proofing it. We get our news from social media rather than the news media. We have everything […]

The Rise of the Parallels – Feminism and Pseudo-Feminism — Educational News

Privilege…continued.

The thing about privilege is, you don’t always know you have it. It doesn’t mean you have to feel guilty and ashamed about who you are. It means you have a responsibility to acknowledge where you have benefited and others have lost out.

With the discovery of 215 Indigenous children in a mass grave at residential school in Kamloops, British Columbia – we (white folk) have a responsibility to to acknowledge our wrongs. It is disheartening to know that the Catholic Church of Canada has not offered a formal apology as of the time of this writing, nor has there been an apology from the Pope.

Similarly disheartening, I’ve read that the Vatican has not released the records of the documented children who had attended this particular residential school. Why?

The Catholic church was responsible for 70% of the residential schools in Canada. This is not the beginning. There will be more mass grave sites discovered.

This is something that Indigenous people have known. I know how much I love my children and to not know where my babies are would be nothing short of torture.

This is also an example of generational trauma. At the hands of the colonizers (white folk) and the Catholic church. It’s part of history that isn’t taught in schools.

(My daughter, who is in 3rd grade has some knowledge of what a residential school is as opposed to the settler version I was taught).

We all have the responsibility to speak out…especially for the voices that couldn’t.

Karla

Body Image, Bathing Suits and the Beach. My perspective.

“There is NOTHING wrong with your body, but there is a lot wrong with the messages which try to CONVINCE you otherwise” – Rae Smith

A few months ago, the kids wanted me to try on my wedding dress. It didn’t fit. Not even close. I haven’t lost sleep over it, but I would be lying if I said that there wasn’t a part of me that was really hoping that it would.

Fast forward to my first time at the beach last week with the kids and another family that we met there. I had fun playing with the kids and taking photos but there was also a part of me that thought “if I was 10 pounds lighter, I would look better in this swim suit”. Sigh.

I am writing this because I KNOW that I am not the only woman out there that feels this way. How could we not? There is media messaging everywhere.

Beach body. Body shred. Abs of steel. Buns of steel. Perky tits. Nip, tuck, laser, suction and sculpt. None of these things message loving your body. I don’t want to “shred” my body.

Can I just be enough to show up at the beach in my bathing suit?

The messaging about what my body was suppose to look like started young. I can remember weighing more than my friends in elementary school and as a girl “smaller” was always better. Unless it was your boobs.

Thankfully, I have never struggled with an eating disorder. I like food. I like to eat food. But am I eating the right food? Sometimes yes, sometimes no. Sometimes the Big Mac attack happens. There was however short periods of disordered eating.

Photo by Tim Samuel on Pexels.com

I remember the first time I tried restrictive eating in Grade 8. Lettuce and mustard sandwiches. Those didn’t last long because they were gross.

In college it was the cabbage soup diet (remember that?!) and soda crackers. And obsessive exercising. I did lose weight. And people always comment when you lose weight and how “great” you look.

These things never lasted long for me because they weren’t sustainable. Cabbage soup is okay. But not everyday all day. And I didn’t do it for the right reasons.

I admire the folks who identify with being fat and put themselves out there with no shame.

I also admire the folks who exercise frequently.

But the standards of what MY body needs to look like need to stop.

2 c-sections later and trying to raise kids. Yep, my stomach never “bounced” back. (Although if you asked me to skip, it would bounce). lol.

What if we taught girls and boys this crazy idea that they are enough just as they are and that it was healthy and good for their bodies to move? And that food can nourish your body and help you to feel better. But also, sometimes popcorn and ice cream can be enjoyed too. You’re not “bad” if you eat these things.

Because it’s confusing as fuck to to say “love yourself” and then be blasted with images of impossible beauty and body standards. Just sayin.

I hope I see you all at the beach this summer in your best bathing suits.

Karla xx

Nurses. You the bomb.

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“A human being does not cease to exist at death. It is change, not destruction, which takes place.”

Florence Nightingale

I noticed last week it was Nurses Week. I wanted to write something special and made a mental note that if I did, I would try to do it in a way that was giving justice to those who, in my humble opinion are the back bone of many medical establishments.

After a quick search, I noted that Nurses Week commenced on May 12th – Miss Florence Nightingale’s birthday.

Florence as many know, was a trail blazer. A Feminine Icon. The O.G. of Nursing. Born during a time (to a wealthy family) where it was expected that she marry and look pretty. But Florence didn’t do that. Florence helped to establish modern nursing with emphasis placed on sanitation, statistics and compassion.

Florence was also an advocate for social reform and I do recall learning about Florence along with Jane Addams and Mary Richmond, who were instrumental to the profession of Social Work.

I have so much admiration and appreciation for Florence and her bravery.

I also reflect on my own experiences with nurses:

I went into early labour at 34 weeks with Reese and had to have an emergency c-section. Being wheeled into the operating room (while crying) a magical nurse leaned over me and looked me in the face. “Look at me. You’re going to be okay”.

Afterwards, another magical nurse removed my diaper (you know, those post-pregnancy under ware) and proceeded to clean up everything that was going on” down below” because I could hardly move. The nurse was graceful and gentle and the act of being taken care of in such an intimate way was something that I won’t forget.

There was also a nurse that told me to ease up on the morphine drip. I ignored you.

And the nurses that took care of my first baby, Reese in the N.I.C.U. The way they handled her little body with such care and stroked her face; they way they showed Emil and I how to bathe her trembling little body.

And the nurse that told me her life story and how her baby was adopted and her mom had a bad fall at Zellers and that she loved babies. (P.S. I seen you playing solitaire on your weekend shifts) I won’t forget you either.

I wrote about my experience having a miscarriage in a previous blog post. There was a beautiful nurse who walked behind me cleaning up a trail of blood afterwards and yet another nurse who helped me go to the washroom and gosh, I did not envy her for cleaning up the mess I left at the toilet.

I also think about two wonderful nurses at the S.O.F.T. clinic (no longer existing) in London. Taking blood from me weekly, sometimes daily and were literally the first point of contact every time I had to walk through those doors. They encouraged me to keep going, keep trying and listened to me when I cried about having yet another miscarriage.

Nurses, I thank you from the bottom of my heart for everything that you do. For the ways that you deal with shit and piss and blood and have people cleaned and taken care of in the manner that you would care for your own child or loved one.

I am a week late in saluting you but know that I honour your work and I am forever appreciative.

Karla xx

My Light…

Burns Bright!

I have been in a reflective state since I have had the opportunity to go back to school after 10 years to pursue my Masters degree in Social Work. Being back in school has deepened my understanding and love for the profession as well as expanded my consciousness for the importance of cultivating healthy communities; and not just the communities I live in but on a global scale.

The feeling I have is one of deep gratitude for being able to be immersed in something that is way, way bigger than me.

The last few years working for a child welfare agency were starting to wear on me as the nature of this work can often do. I am grateful for my time (even amidst the pandemic) to re-charge, re-align and re-focus my energies on what the future has in store.

Being an agent of change is inspiring, deep within me. I know that once work resumes for me, the chances of falling into the trap of cynicism and burnout are likely but this break has allowed me to recognize that the need for the helping profession is vast…much, much bigger than I could ever imagine.

The possibilities are endless. I need to remember this.

As I connect and align with my purpose, I know that the universe will take care of this mama and take me wherever I am needed.

Forever indebted,

Karla xx

Infertility, Miscarriage and Pregnancy Loss

I have seen a few posts lately on social media calling awareness to infertility, miscarriage and pregnancy loss. While I can honestly say I am glad this chapter is over in my life I certainly will not forget it. How could I? It was painful and embarrassing and traumatic. My hope is to normalize these experiences for other people (and myself) by writing this.

About a year and a half after Reese, our oldest was born, I was shocked to find out I was pregnant. (I was on Clomid and Metformin when Reese was conceived and I assumed I would have to do this again).

I had no idea how far along I was as my periods have always been irregular. My first ultra-sound was in Byron. When the ultra-sound tech told me I was pregnant with twins, I screamed. I was dated around 9.5 weeks. We were shocked but excited.

The next ultra sound was around 12 weeks at Victoria Hospital. At this point, I found out that I had identical twins swimming around in the same amniotic sack. The doctor was concerned that he couldn’t find a thin membrane separating the twins. He and the ultra-sound tech looked for at least 45 minutes.

I had no idea what this meant. First of all, the doctor explained that no one really knows why identical twins happen. The fertilized egg just decides that it is going to split. Wow.

Because my egg split after the placenta was already formed, the twins were sharing the same sack and same placenta. The pregnancy is referred to as a mono/mono. pregnancy. The chances of this miracle happening are around 1 in 10 000 pregnancies.

Survival rate of mono/mono twins is only about 50%. I was told this from the beginning, yet still Emil and I hoped that everything would be okay.

I had ultra sounds every week and everything was okay until it wasn’t. As the fetus’ grow they start to move around in their environment. As the ultra sounds continued, I was told the umbilical cords were already starting to form a large, tangled mess.

Around 14 weeks, one of the twins was starting to develop issues from their cord being impinged. It was difficult to know that I had no control of what was happening in my body.

The doctors in London couldn’t do anything for me and I was desperate. There was no way that I wanted to lose my babies. I was sent to Mount Sinai in Toronto.

The doctors at Mount Sinai proposed that I could do a few things:

1. I could allow them to try and untangle the cords via microscopic incisions. This would be an experiment. I was told it had never been done before. This was not an option. It didn’t make any sense. The babies would get tangled again and the procedure would have to be repeated until the babies were big enough so that they couldn’t move around.

2. I could selectively abort the weaker twin, which involved a microscopic incision and cutting it’s umbilical cord. I wasn’t going to do this either, I didn’t feel comfortable with it even though there was some logic to it.

3. I could do nothing and let nature take it’s course. Live or die, I had to wait.

They wanted to give Emil and I a few days to think about the selective abortion. Ultimately, it just wasn’t going to happen. *This choice is not meant to diminish anyone’s decision to choose this procedure or have an abortion.

Ultra-sound at 15 weeks both babies were alive.

Ultra-sound at 16 weeks and both babies died.

I remember she was scanning several spots on my belly. I knew…it was taking longer than expected. The ultra-sound tech told me they died. She didn’t know when. I remember what I was wearing and I remember the wailing. It was something only a mother who lost a child would know.

This was a trauma for me. I was sent to the doctors office and it was explained that I was going to need a D&C. When? He didn’t know.

Going home, knowing that I had dead babies inside me was another trauma. The doctor had made me an appointment with an abortion doctor at the hospital.

Day 3 at home and I started to noticed that I was loosing a lot of fluid. I was terrified to go anywhere. I looked like I was around 30 week pregnant. I was petrified that someone would ask me about being pregnant.

I started to develop a fever. I called the hospital and the abortion doctor agreed to see me right away. He said no need to do an exam, he was certain that my body was starting to expel the dead fetus’. He said that the problem was all of the anesthesiologist were booked solid for the next week. But he said he was going to be a bully…and he got me in the next day. *Women should not have to wait for this service.*

Sitting in the abortion clinic waiting room was a different experience all together. I seen women of all ages, at all different stages of pregnancy. It felt odd to me. I wished that my babies were still alive. Emil and I would have done anything. Anything.

I wished that I would have seen them. Even though they were only about the size of avocados. I think they asked me before hand, and I said no. It was all too much for me.

I wished that they would have lived.

The aftermath of the D&C was horrible. I was bleeding like I had just given birth, yet I had nothing to show for it. A few days later, my milk started to come in. This was another reminder.

I started therapy a few months afterwards including EMDR. If I hadn’t done this, I am certain that I would be much worse off.

The loss still enters my mind every now and then. I still shed tears when I think about what they would have looked like or who they would have been. But I know that they are at peace and no longer suffering.

This is something every mother hopes for as well.

Karla