Monday, December 27, 2010

The homelessness problem...

I took this picture a couple years ago of an empty "camp out" under a bridge where someone had been sleeping. I worked at the shelter last night, in the actual shelter not the drunk tank or detox and had some interesting conversations with a coworker about how, in a nation as rich as Canada, people could live like this. We of course didn't come to any conclusions, but I realized how much my perspective has shifted in the past few years.

Something I have been reminded about time and time again over the past year is choices. We all make choices, each and every day, and the choices we make have a HUGE outcome on our lives. It is fine and well for us to say that homelessness is horrible, and it is, but yesterday I spoke with someone who despite having been given a house, chose to stay at the shelter because that is where he felt connection and a sense of "home". Choices.

Last night I had multiple people beg me for food. See here's the thing though, we give out food right when the shelter opens, if you come later then that, no food, because once it's gone, it's gone. So, if you have spent the day/evening drinking rather than taking advantage of the abundance of free food in the city, I don't necessarily feel sorry for you. Choices.

Now, the above being said, I also recognize that once you're on the street, the choices aren't that easy. Addictions aren't exactly easy to break. To use an example from my life, the fact that I'm overweight didn't stop me from eating cookies yesterday, even though I know I probably didn't need to. And that's cookies. I can't even imagine trying to come off years of hard drinking. Then of course, there's the added challenge of Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders. In some cases, people's brains simply don't allow them to learn from their mistakes, so they make the same "poor" choices again and again. Mental Illness figures in, blackouts from substance use, peer pressure and involvement, low self esteem, self efficacy and little motivation for change.

So, while I will continue to advocate for funding and services for the homeless and near homeless, there is no way I can believe that is 100% someone else's fault. There are resources out there for those who seek them, there is food out there for the hungry homeless, and there are places of safety for those who need a break from life. I do truly believe there is more we can do, that the are clinical best practices we are most certainly not following, however I think I believe that there will always be homelessness, no matter what social net we put in place.

not a very happy holiday post.

Saturday, December 25, 2010

Christmas Thoughts

I am not sure if I have thoughts this Christmas or not. In fact, in some ways, I'm really just kind of numb. I'm plugging along though, one day at a time, I just wonder if I'm being true to myself and letting myself grieve, or if I'm living in a state of constant denial. In some ways, I feel kind of blocked, like there are parts of myself that need to open, and face the feelings, face the emotions, face the realities.

Last night I went to Christmas Eve service at my dad and sister's church. I haven't been in that church since the funeral, and the time before that was also not the most pleasant experience. I was confronted with so many people who knew my mother, so many more then were at the funeral, and I left as soon as I possible good. I played the piano for the 11 PM service at my church, it felt good to be there, even if I did continually psych myself out on nearly every introduction. I wish it had been the whole worship team rather then just me up there.

This morning it was off to my dad and sister's house for awkward good times of my sister acting like a child, me defending my dad from her and dad and I planning our September vacation to the place where my parent's honeymooned. Then Christmas dinner at a family friend's, where I met a nice single man who seemed to meet most of my "criteria". My poor father was incredibly hung up on the fact that he was of a different skin colour and couldn't stop asking about his culture even though he was born and raised in Canada. My sister kept bringing up my cats, revealing just how crazy a cat person I was, which is NOT something I generally do when I'm trying to "flirt", or even just appear normal.

Then it was home to listen to my dad and sister wrap their presents, because apparently they don't plan ahead. Then opening presents, including some presents from mom which she bought before she died. That was hard. I left soon after, before 5:30 and then realized I had an entire evening to myself and NOTHING was open and NO-ONE was around to hang out with. I tried to drive and look at some Christmas lights, but I couldn't remember where we used to drive and didn't see many good ones before giving up and going home.

I went for a walk later, too cold to be out for too long though. Sophie Cat and I had snuggles, as did Ollie and I, and now, now it's bedtime I guess.

The first Christmas is over.

Monday, December 20, 2010


I have this neck issue going on, which may very well be a physical manifestation of my inner pain. In any case, my massage therapist asked me if I was "stressed" today. And for some reason, that question made me SO angry. AM I STRESSED? You think? It's only like 7 weeks since my mother died, and it's almost Christmas. And he knows that stuff, he was at my mom's funeral for goodness sakes. I'm not sure why I'm so angry about it, but I am SO angry.

the end.