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If you LOVE books...I interview new & established authors to find out the
author's story (SO fun to get to know them) & the story behind their book.
The War on B.C. Wolves Continues
I am all for saving the caribou, but I question the tactic of killing one species to save another. Is this conservation?
It's been almost five years since I signed a petition to stop the wolf cull in B.C. It turned my stomach then, and it turns my stomach even more now as I had hoped the B.C. government would not continue such an inhumane practice. I was wrong.
The Ministry of Forests, Lands, Natural Resource Operations and Rural Development is proposing to extend the wolf cull; killing 80% of the population in central B.C.
According to University of Alberta biologist Stan Boutin who has studied caribou herds and predator management there has been some success in stabilizing the herds, since the cull's inception. But...to save the caribou the cull would have to continue for the 'long haul.' "As soon as you stop the cull, wolf numbers come right back up to what they were before, and caribou populations decline again," Boutin said.
I am sorry, this is an unacceptable approach to conservation. I do not understand why wolves are being culled when there has not been any changes to the human activity, which has led to the deterioration of the caribou's natural habitat in the first place. There's still logging, resource extraction, road building...human activity is the root cause of the decline of the caribou NOT wolves yet, this business as usual, comes at the expense of the wolf population.
In the effort of conservation (ah hum), to date, more than 700 wolves have been killed (unacceptable!). I'd also like to know...Wolves are an integral part of an ecosystem...so what are the repercussions to an ecosystem when one of its species is drastically reduced as this wolf cull extension plan will do?
Pacific Wild has been working hard to try and save the B.C. wolves. Here's a link to their petition.
The Honeymoon's Over
What began as a ‘beautiful’ relationship—where the victim felt safe and loved in a way that they had never felt before—suddenly crumbles, the deception is over, and the nightmare begins. The honeymoon phase of a trafficked victim can be over in a matter of days. Yes, it’s that quick to be lured into ‘The Game’ and the game is all about control. Who has it and who doesn’t—it’s the loss of control for the victim and the traffickers gain of control over them.
When a victim is under the trafficker’s control, the trafficker dictates ALL aspects of their life—when they sleep, how long they sleep, when they eat, what they eat, when they shower, what they wear, how they do their hair to the colour of their nail polish. And, they certainly did not have any control over who they have sex with, what services they provide, nor do they get to keep any of the money they have earned. While the pimps drive around in Lamborghinis and Maseratis the victims are fed one meal a day.
The Game is beyond cruel and its victims are often played off each other. All the victim wants is love and security, so pimps give favour to the person who makes the most money for them. Driven by the need for affection, the victims work hard to out service each other for additional time with their pimp or as the victims see him—their boy friend. Because they believe they are in a relationship with someone who cares about them many of the individuals who are trafficked don’t know they’re victims.
In the beginning of the Beaten, Branded, Bought and Sold clip, the male speaking about 'The Game's is one of its players, convicted pimp Matthew Deiaco. The victims share their stories about what it's like to be in The Game.
In depth victim's story.
Dispelling the myth.
One of the common myths believed by those not playing The Game is that because an individual is not forcibly confined, they can leave. We should know by now that things are NEVER that simple. When an individual is entrenched in the trafficking world the victim feels they have no choice. They’re afraid for their family and loved ones, of being beaten, burnt. They’re ashamed. They have nowhere to go.
According to the RCMP,
Why don’t they just leave? Victims may:
What can you do?
Do you remember when your writing was going well?
Thoughts were pouring out of your head so fast your fingers could hardly keep up. You were in the zone. Your fingers were flying across the keyboard—words, sentences, paragraphs, pages upon pages of inspiration was falling out and you’d caught it all. And then, came that beautiful moment after the flood, tired hands resting on the keyboard and you thought…WOW! Where did that come from? That was awesome. I am BRILLIANT.
As a writer, there is nothing more exhilarating when inspiration is flowing. The brain adrenaline high is fantastic. But, unfortunately, much like after eating copious amounts of sugar, it can followed by a crash...when future sessions at your desk are a little light on the brilliance and heavy on the crap.
Bring Back the Brilliance
When you find yourself smack in the middle of a creative drought, there are days when you are ‘tasked,’ and I do mean tasked with writing—it becomes a chore to pull out the words. So, what do you do?
Perhaps, you venture online…check the weather 4 times an hour, peruse Lainey Gossip for the latest update on Baby Sussex and then you pop on YouTube to find yourself some chakra cleansing, meditative, stress relieving music to put yourself back in the zone. Does it work?
I’d love to say yes! every time I’m in a rut all it takes is a weather update, some inspirational music and a hit of pop culture, but I’d be lying. The reality is more of a two-part answer.
The Reality Check-In
Tackling the Big Stuff
Sometimes, these writing ruts will last a few hours, days or longer. Regardless, of the duration they are painful. To help pull yourself out of these biggie droughts the most important thing is to…BE KIND TO YOURSELF. We are not kind to ourselves. We kick ourselves when we’re already down. We curse our lack of brain power. We heap on the pressure to try and get the creative flow going. These cruel knocks aimed at our resting creative spirit do nothing for productivity in fact, they hamper it.
Three Steps to Get Out of that Rut
OMG…thanks for that?!!!??? (not). How the heck am I supposed to be kind to myself? My response is this...may I recommend the following 3 steps to self-kindness:
Step#1: Add a little sunshine.
To create a little joy and reduce the stress in your life try to incorporate as many of the following elements—spend time outdoors, pretty-up your work space with flowers or something that makes you smile, exercise, eat well, free write, listen to music, dance, read, talk with other artists, attend a community theater performance, host an artist talk, join a book club, listen to other artist’s podcasts and TED talks. This step should be ongoing. The key is to feed your happiness which in turn fuels your creativity.
Step#2: Give yourself a mantra.
Mine is…I am. I can and I will. Place your mantra on your desk. It doesn’t have to be framed; it can be as simple as a yellow post-it-note—as long as this little reminder is located somewhere you can see it everyday. Kick start your day by saying your mantra out loud firmly 3 times. Still not feeling it? Write out your mantra 10 times. Frequency of saying/writing will help you believe in yourself and your abilities.
Step #3: Shut down that pesky little voice that’s dragging you down.
Catch your negative thoughts as they fall out and reframe them as an affirmation. For example, turn This writing is terrible, why do I even bother? into Everything I write will not be brilliant but this is great practice. The brilliance will come. The more you do this the easier it gets. Reframing your mindset injects positivity which in turn lifts you up.
The art of practicing self-kindness is a process and once you dig in your writing mojo will come back. You will be in the zone and your fingers will once again be flying across the keyboard.
What helps you get out of a creative funk?
Human Trafficking is All About Money
I thought the sale of human beings ended with the abolishment of slavery in the 1800’s. I was wrong. The sale of humans continues and has been deemed the slave trade of the 21st century.
I thought human trafficking was a European and developing world problem. I was wrong. According to the United Nations virtually EVERY country in the world is impacted and this includes Canada.
I thought in Canada, the sale of human beings involved foreigners who were falsely lured to Canada for a job. I was wrong. 90% of victims are Canadian born. 50% are indigenous.
I’m wrong A LOT.
The sale of human beings is a global problem and the scale of its growth is alarming—it’s the fastest growing industry in the world. This fact does not restore my faith in humanity. Like many, I cannot imagine inflicting such cruelty on another human being. But for organized crime, small family criminal groups and independents it’s all about money. Unlike drugs which are gone as soon as they’re sniffed up a nose or shot up the arm, a person can be sold over, and over again. It’s all about money.
What's being done?
Police and community associations have been tackling this issue for years and fortunately, human trafficking is slowing starting to be on the public’s radar, but it still has a long way to go. Part of the engagement strategy of anti-trafficking non-profits such Polaris and ECPAT-USA, is to enlist the support of organizations who are unwillingly part of the trafficking chain.
According to Detective Sargent Tramontozzi, head of Toronto’s sex crimes unit, “90% of human trafficking, if not more, occur in or involve a hotel.” As hotels are the ‘preferred venues’ for traffickers, hotel chains such as the Marriott are starting to train their employees to spot human trafficking and internal procedures are in place for reporting to the authorities. To date, Marriott has trained over 500,00 employees worldwide. Hilton, Hyatt and Wyndham are also on board.
Tony Elenis, president of the Ontario Restaurant Hotel and Motel Association, is also passionate about combatting human trafficking. The association distributes a list of human-trafficking indicators to hotel management, so that they can share with staff.
In December 2018, Toronto Crime Stoppers partnered up with Uber the ride-hailing app. Their drivers have also been mobilized to spot the signs of trafficking and are committed to help end the transportation of trafficked people.
The anti-human trafficking awareness campaigns have gained some momentum but what can the rest of us do? Well, we can talk about this issue to colleagues, friends and family members, we can write our local member of parliament to see what is being done to resolve this issue and, we can recognize the signs. According to the Royal Canadian Mounted Police (RCMP), there are very few clear black and white indicators of human trafficking it’s usually a combination of the following indicators:
How would I recognize a victim?
Where would I find...
A victim who has been trafficked for sexual exploitation?
Victims may be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
A victim who has been trafficked for forced labour?
Victims can be found anywhere in Canada. Some basic examples include:
What can I do?
I don't want to be wrong about the abolishment of slavery. For once, I would like to be right…let's work together to generate awareness about this horrific crime. Talk about it. Tell someone what's happening in our backyard.
Should you suspect an individual is being trafficked, the police urge the public not to take matters in their own hands and to contact them or Crime Stoppers: 1-800-222-TIPS (8477).
Why is B.C. killing wolves?
I don't get it...
There are so many things I do not understand. I do not understand how humans can hate others because of skin colour or religious beliefs. Waking up this morning and learning of the mass shooting in New Zealand sickens me as does the way our nation has treated the indigenous people. When I think of all the atrocities that have occurred and are currently occurring it is mind numbing. When will we ever learn? Why can’t we treat others with compassion? Why? Why? Why?
We treat people badly. We treat our environment badly and we treat animals badly. I could blog indefinitely about the latter, because we humans keep racking up the stupidity. But I’d like to speak specifically about the wolf cull that is presently going on in British Columbia under the guise of protecting the critically endangered caribou.
When I was younger, I did a project about caribou and thus began my fascination with these majestic creatures who once roamed the North in herds over 250,000 in size. Can you imagine? I can.
Join the Call. Save the wolves.
But climate change and development—forestry, mining, oil and gas has stripped away the caribou’s habitat and the creation of roads has made them vulnerable to predators. What was once an abundant species is now critically endangered. So, what’s the government’s answer to the problem? A wolf cull.
It began in 2015, as part of their wildlife management plan. Although, the BC government has since admitted it is inhumane and an ineffective mechanism for saving the caribou the cull continues. So, I’d like to know…why is it still happening? Why are wolfs being shot from helicopters and hunting groups are running ‘wolf whacking’ contests while the logging companies are still desecrating forests. I don’t get it. So next year, we should probably shoot the cougars and the coyotes too. (I write this with extreme sarcasm and an eye roll).
I can appreciate I have presented a very simplified overview of what’s happening in BC (and Alberta). But is it really that complicated? Humans complicate. To say we've done the caribou a disservice is an understatement and we're in the midst of doing the same to the wolves. Pacific Wild is a wilderness and wildlife protection organization that is working hard to bring this issue to the public’s attention and to end the inhumane practice of culling this highly evolved social animal and I’d like to help them out. I've signed their petition and if you'd like to join me in the call please click on the link below.
Join the Call
Thank goodness for our youth
I’d really like some answers to my questions. Unfortunately, I may be waiting a while. What I will say is that today as students in more than 100 countries around the world strike against climate change, I feel hopeful that the generation coming up will be smarter global citizens than the ones that are currently running the show.
When I moved to Jakarta, Indonesia I spent a lot of time exploring my new hood Tibet Timur. Much to my delight, I quickly discovered the spas were as plentiful as Tim Horton’s and, just as affordable. Once I got over my initial shyness, I embarked upon the spa circuit indulging in weekly facial treatments and massages. It was fantastic! (Unfortunately, I have not been as relaxed or fresh-faced since Indonesia).
Because I was so busy with the spas, it was 6 months before I wandered into the foot reflexology centre (a mere 3-minute walk from our house). And, boy oh boy, I wish I had ventured in there sooner. Before I was comfortably reclined in a chair, I was aware that the feet were a map of your body and reflexology was a natural therapeutic treatment but that was all I knew. I had never had a reflexology treatment and did not speak Bahasa Indonesian, so...I was not entirely sure of what I had gotten myself into.
What's going on with my feet?
But what I did get very quickly was when the reflexologist touched certain areas of my feet I almost flew out of the chair. To say, my feet were tender in spots would be an understatement. After my first chair flip, the reflexologist gently informed me, "stomach, stomach."
For as long as I can remember I have had digestive issues so this was not surprising. The therapist continued to gently work on my sore spots (which I now know was my entire digestive tract) and I left feeling relaxed. I knew I would be back.
Get me back in that chair!
And, back I went; once a week for six months (yes, it was that affordable). With each session, I noticed my feet were a little less tender until the tenderness was gone. Although, I could not communicate with the therapist my body talked to me. I was relaxed (OMG! Lovely), I slept better, and my digestive system was running smoothly. I have been a reflexology convert ever since.
Reflexology & Me Today
When my contract was not renewed at the school board, it opened the door for me to pursue reflexology. I knew how reflexology had helped facilitate my body's natural ability to heal itself and I wanted to be able to help others so becoming a certified reflexologist was the perfect vehicle for me to do this. I also returned to the world of writing. As a writer, the days are quiet but an injection of people is the perfect compliment for inspiration to thrive. I am thrilled to be able to combine all of the things that make me happy.
I am indebted to Indonesia for many things, one of which is the introduction to reflexology. Thank you to Janet Williams and Kit Walker at Footsteps Reflexology Inc. for teaching me about feet :)
When will we learn?
I don’t understand why one race, religion or class, thinks itself superior over another. We see examples of this superiority throughout history—be it the Crusades, the Slave Trade, Caste Systems, the Indian Act, the Holocaust and of late, El Paso, Texas. In short, racism exists everywhere, and humanity still has a lot to learn.
According to Oxford Dictionary racism is defined as: ‘The belief that all members of each race possess characteristics, abilities, or qualities specific to that race, especially so as to distinguish it as inferior or superior to another race or races.’
People are very uncomfortable with the term racism and take great offense at being called a racist. Something to consider...if you're being called a racist, dare I say it…you're probably a racist. But, after feeling defensive which is a normal reaction when you feel like you are being attacked, there is an opportunity to reflect upon your belief system and evolve your thinking.
Because I’ve spent the last two weeks blogging about the treatment of Meghan Markle in the British press, I’ll use this as an example. The British press has been called out for being racist in their coverage of Meghan which they have vehemently denied or perhaps, if we give them the benefit of the doubt--not recognized as being such. The Telegraph’s Twitter account, promoted the following tweet from Camilla Tominey, “I wonder whether Meghan was conscious of the bias she showed in choosing 15 ‘forces for change’ for the Vogue cover, all of whom were women, of which only five were white?"
I would like to challenge Tominey to think about Meghan’s list of trailblazers from beyond her ‘white’ lens. This is an opportunity for her to evolve her way of thinking. We are inundated with images of white women and men on magazine covers. The world is not white; it’s made up of many different races—it’s time a more accurate picture of our world be reflected on magazine covers, movies… Meghan’s list was not racist against whites it was inclusive.
Unfortunately, leadership south of the border has provided plenty of ammunition for hate to surface. Of late, Trump tweeted out a doozie when he suggested four members of Congress—Ilhan Omar, Ayanna Pressley, Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, and Rashida Tlaib—four Democrats on the left, four women of color, should “go back” to the countries “from which they came” if they were going to keep on criticizing him. (Note to Trump, 3 of the 4 women were born in the US).
When asked point blank if he was racist Trump responded, “If you’re not happy here, then you can leave,” he said. “As far as I’m concerned, if you hate our country, if you’re not happy here, you can leave. And that’s what I say all the time.”
Again, to think beyond the 'white' lens...I wonder if Trump is aware that we live in a continent that is build on immigration and if the indigenous peoples had a strict immigration policy that only allowed in people with the same skin colour and beliefs as theirs Trump would not live in 'his' America. In fact, many of us would not be living in North America.
Humanity Continues to Fail
In the 90’s, when I was backpacking in Belfast, Ireland I encountered a VERY inebriated fellow who was f’ing the Catholics like there was no tomorrow. I asked him, why he hated the Catholics so much and his response was, “because they’re Catholics.” Despite being looped out of his tree, he could express his hatred with fervour, yet he could not articulate why he hated the Catholics so much and I found this ‘not knowing’ disturbing. This was one of those defining moments in my life because it put into reality how people are conditioned to hate. Quite simply...we are not born hating—we learn it.
We are also conditioned to fear. Previously, it was the fear of the spread of communism now, it’s the fear of radical Islam. But, do you know what scares me more? The white supremacists who live within our borders and are becoming more mainstream and active and, the conservative groups who are challenging women’s reproductive rights. I'll say it again--this scares me more.
Unfortunately, we have failed history; racism still exists, and it exists everywhere. As all cultures grow up with an 'unconscious bias,' I would like to challenge everyone--myself included, to look beyond the lens we are familiar with and view the world and all its people with compassion rather than a mindset of 'them' vs 'us.'
The Photo that Won't Go Away
I am fascinated by body language. I am by no means an expert, but look at this picture...I don't know about you, but I can tell you if this was me I would not be thrilled with the old guy's pelvic invasion in my personal space. It's creepy.
This picture was taken in 2001, it's Britain's Duke of York with Virginia Roberts. Roberts has since come forward allegedly accusing the Prince of underage sexual trysts.
Buckingham Palace has "categorically' denied that the Duke of York had "any form of sexual contact or relationship" with Virginia Roberts. But boy, oh boy...this photo is d-a-m-a-g-i-n-g.
Equally fascinating to me was the response to this very incriminating photo. You guessed it..."the photo was faked." Sources close to the Duke have cast doubt over the authenticity of the photo by claiming the Duke has "chubby" fingers and the person in this photo does not have chubby fingers! You have got to be kidding me?! That's the best you've got--a "chubby finger" defense. P-l-e-a-s-e.
I'll be watching to see how this rolls out. In the era of the #metoo movement, will it make a difference? Will the women be believed? Or will the wealthy who allegedly took part in this elite sex trafficking ring walk away?
Can we pls leave Meghan Markle alone.
Rather than live her 'happily ever after,' Meghan Markle has had to endure the constant onslaught of criticism leading up to, and after, her May 19, 2018 nuptials to Prince Harry. The abuse did not slow down after the birth of Archie Harrison Mountbatten-Windsor on May 6, 2019. If anything, the British press has ramped up their attacks on Meghan. Why is the media so hard on Meghan?
Yes, yes, yes, we get it…marrying into the British Royal Family means embarking on a life of public service and, along with all those fabulous perks there’s a loss of privacy and you’re ‘open’ to the global court of public opinion. But this poor woman can't do anything right. The list of Meghan's wrong doings is long—from her fashion missteps, breaking royal protocol, cradling her baby bump too much, feuding with her sister-in-law Kate to the unflattering adjectives ‘demanding’ and ‘difficult’ that are used to describe her.
BTW...it has been acknowledged in the British press that it's William and Harry who are feuding. Meghan and Kate were fine all along.
And to add, Meghan texting her staff at 5:30 am with ideas because she’s excited about her new role…'demanding' and 'difficult' are not the adjectives I'd use in this context.
The Heat's on Megan
For Meghan, there's been no reprieve from the heat this summer. At a polo match in July, Meghan was mom-shamed by Instagram users for the way she held Archie. Comments such as...Meghan doesn't know how to hold her own baby. She's gonna drop that baby! and The way little Archie is being held. Scary. Seriously?! Come on people. What happened to supporting new moms? BTW...pediatricians (the professionals) came to her defense and said there is nothing wrong with the way she held her baby.
The Daily Mail couldn't resist slipping a little shade in their article when Meghan went to Wimbledon to watch her good friend Serena Williams play in the ladies singles finals, “she clapped vigorously, despite the fact royals should remain neutral when attending a game in an official capacity.”
Yet, when Prince William, President of the National Football Association attended a league championship in May, the headline in the Daily Mail read, "William goes wild! Delirious prince hugs former Aston Villa star as they watch their team triumph in Championship play-off final at Wembley..." Seriously?! This is the same paper that took a swing at Meghan because of the way she clapped.
I would like to know...with the recent arrest of Prince Andrew’s good buddy—billionaire pedophile Jeffery Epstein, why we are even hearing about the way Meghan behaved at Wimbleton? Isn't Prince Andrew’s association with a convicted pedophile a more news worthy headline? This should be dominating the front pages of British newspapers.
And, while we’re at it…when there were rumblings of an alleged affair between Prince William and Rose Hanbury where was the British press? Again, it needs to be asked...why all the negative focus on Meghan and not the princes?
What's wrong with this picture?
The British press has complained that Prince Harry has changed since he met Meghan and he is no longer the fun-loving royal he once was. Perhaps, the British press should consider the possibility that Prince Harry may not be as easy going with them because of the way they attack his wife.
Meghan’s entry into one of the world’s oldest intuitions has not been flawless—yes, she’s made mistakes—but the attacks on her have been more than unkind and one has to to question the motivation behind these attacks. She has embraced her royal life with enthusiasm yet, why can't the British press embrace her with the same enthusiasm?
Happy New Year! As I’ve committed to extending well wishes in writing, four-days into the new year I can’t help but wonder…when does one stop wishing people a Happy New Year? Is there an etiquette surrounding this? I of course turn to Google, and apparently, I am not the only one who has wondered (CNN has even tackled and consulted etiquette experts on the subject—who knew there was such a thing?!).
Anyway, I’ve discovered that there are no set rules, but there are certainly some very strong opinions surrounding the termination of this holiday greeting. For some, after Jan. 1 has come and gone so must the ‘Happy New Year!’ Yet, for others, it is deemed appropriate to stretch it out for the first week of January (and it would appear I am falling into this bucket although, I did take my decorations down January 1st).
So, despite my bit of a ramble I am going to leave my LONG festive greeting as the opener for my post and get to the point…which just so happens to coincide with the new year theme and that being ‘resolutions.’ Again, a topic which divides the masses. I turn to google again for some assistance. According to Collins dictionary a New Year resolution may be defined as a promise to yourself or decision to do something, especially to improve one’s behaviour or lifestyle in some way, during the year ahead.
What are the most popular resolutions?
According to Statista, the 10 Most Popular Resolutions for 2019 are:
1. Diet or eat healthier (71 percent)
2. Exercise more (65 percent)
3. Lose weight (54 percent)
4. Save more and spend less (32 percent)
5. Learn a new skill or hobby (26 percent)
6. Quit smoking (21 percent)
7. Read more (17 percent)
8. Find another job (16 percent)
9. Drink less alcohol (15 percent)
10. Spend more time with family and friends (13 percent)
*2000 people surveyed. USA
I must confess I am one of 'those people’ who every January 1st, sits down with a coffee and logs her resolutions for the upcoming year. Some of the Top 10 are on my list and yes, yes, many of my resolutions are the same year after year—in particular, the healthy mind and body. But I have come to this conclusion--rather than view the execution of my list as simple successes and failures I have opted to frame it differently.
For example, one of my resolutions from 2018, was to try a new experience every month. Did I make it to 2019 with 12 new experiences—no, I did not. Was this a failure because I did not accomplish EXACTLY what I set out to do? No, it was not. I had 6 new experiences I might not of otherwise had, had there not been a resolution—one of which was dog sledding in Haliburton, Ontario and it was fantastic--hurray for me.
For 2019, I have put 'to try a new experience every month' on my list again. It doesn’t have to be expensive or earth shattering it can be…dining in a new restaurant or hiking in a new location. Easy and manageable feel good experience goals. And, can I just say...I very much look forward to the execution of these new experiences. And IF for some reason I fall short of my target number, I will still be further ahead than if I didn't try at all—the same may be said for exercise or weight loss—any goal.
Happy New Year! (I just had to write it one last time). I wish you all the best in 2019 and when tackling your resolutions be kind to yourself and may you have many hurrays along the way.