Wednesday, January 6, 2016

Behind the Niqab

I had the most wonderful happenstance to see the movie Suffragette with my niece today.  As the credits rolled I couldn't help thinking what an important film it is and that women and men everywhere should see this movie.

It is hard to imagine that it has been a mere 97 years that women have had the right to vote here in Canada.  Even more mind boggling were the dates that rolled in the credits of other countries of when women received the right to vote.

What struck me was that just recently the women of Saudi Arabia have received this right. A friend of mine mentioned it to me when it happened and I remember thinking that it was great but without really much thought to what it really meant.  After viewing this movie it has occurred to me that I have been taking a lot for granted.

A few weeks ago I was at a gathering at my parents house which included an interesting mix of ages and a broad spectrum of political views.  Since the change in our political arena here in Canada in November of 2015 there seems to be a lot of discussion surrounding the current political party and what changes are taking place within the mandate of this party and how it affects Canadians.

In particular that day there was a group of women between the ages of 21 to 83.  The topic was raised by my Aunt who is soon turning 80 that we need to figure out how to get rid of the niqab.  It appeared to be her that the niqab was a huge injustice to our civil rights as Canadians and that all people that wear them are trying to hide something and are not to be trusted.

Of course she assumed that all of us in the room would jump on board the band wagon to rid our Canadian World of these heinous head pieces.

I asked her if she had ever spoken to someone wearing a niqab and, of course, her answer was no.

It became clear very quickly that the political left and right in the room were not going to agree on the topic but we all moved around the table and she brought up the idea that women need to band together to instigate change.  It was not necessarily directed at the niqab issue but it was directed toward the ever growing thoughts around the World that, in fact, it is women who can invoke changes in the attitudes and lives of those around them and promote peace throughout this ever shrinking World.

A photo was snapped of these women and my sister then posted this photo on Facebook with the caption "Women at the Round Table.........trying to save the World with little success".

To which I commented the following:

This round table of women is proof that women around the world can join together and make a difference regardless of political allegiance.

And my niece commented as well:

Cheech is wrong- we had great success! The formal conclusion was that love is louder than hate!

This day has been riding under the surface of my subconscious ever since and was suddenly ignited when I had the opportunity to see the movie Suffragette.

I have made a grave error in thinking that women can change the World by just sitting in our safe little living rooms having coffee and staying in our small white Canadian environments.  We take pride in the fact that we are trying to overcome prejudices that we all have but we don't really step outside our comfort zone and really invoke change.

To be honest I was actually quite afraid to even bring up my ideas around the table in my own parent's home with the wide cross section of political views.  Why on Earth would I reach out even further than that and really seek change?

So as open minded as I think I am I really am no different than those that I oppose politically and it is time to change that.

I got thinking what would be the way to extend a hand to help break down barriers and remove prejudice between me as a born and bred Canadian to those who are just entering this wonderful Country we all call home.

When I see the fear in the faces of the people that are the nearest and dearest to me what can I do to help them understand that even though we have huge differences in culture and background we really all just want the same things in life?

If we are going to bring Women together and dis-spell these ideas how do I get out of my very white surroundings and reach out to other Women who have just become Canadian?

At first when I faced this question I thought, well if they just understood me as a woman......a Mother, Daughter, Niece, Sister, Grandmother, Aunt, then they could have a better picture of what I am as a Canadian.

But then I realized that is a very selfish view of the World.  Even though I have thousands of questions for them as New Canadian Women I thought about what they must be going through and just how many questions they must have with the onslaught of both a new Country and language and culture.

So  now I believe the first order of business is to seek out these New Canadians and extend my hand in friendship and to let them know that I am open to discussion and I am open to any questions they may have of me as a Canadian woman.

By giving them the chance to ask questions so they can see that we are really all the same I can also learn that we are all the same.  And in doing so I can find out what is really behind the niqab.

Monday, October 5, 2015

Facing the Elephant in the Closet

I don't know about you but when Fall arrives I am motivated to review the ever expansive wardrobe in my closet.  Pardon the double entendre.

This doesn't happen every year but as we tend to accumulate excessive amounts of items in our closet we start to feel that we are confused and frustrated when stepping in to find something to wear.

Of course, our aging expanding bodies do not help the situation.  We peer into the abyss only to see what we used to be. Somehow our sense of worth is tied up in that feeling. Unwarranted but true. We see ourselves in our shapes, sizes and appearance instead of the true self of what is inside that package.

Not unlike the shift in what we can fit into, our inner selves shift and expand into a rounder and more generous individual.  We see things differently as we age and we take the time to slow things down and view the more simple aspects of life.

Becoming a Grandparent is the ultimate indication of this slow down.  You want to take the time to capture every single moment of your little one's phases.  The simplicity of walking in the park or playing in the backyard watching them eagerly learn and share such simple things like painting rocks with water or adventure walking a few blocks to some unknown destination of their choosing.

Our lives are so fast and children continue to try to get us to slow down and take in the moment.  Listen to the crickets in the grass.  Enjoy the splendor of the sun.  Feel the rain on your cheeks.  Stop thinking about your outside image and work on your inside image.

If you ask a child they will never remember you as thin or fat they will remember you as your inner self.....full of love and joy and a well rounded person enjoying what this age has to offer.

Our "Brand" New Lives

In the past year and a half we have relocated, added to our family, lived through a prospective change in our aging parent's living situation, and had a son go through possibly the worst year of his life.

Of course, all of this goes on with the same pressures of the every day.  It is hard to quantify or even realize how this affects us as individuals and couples. You can feel it in the moment but you cannot put your finger on what the effects are even as they settle into your subconscious mind.

And as far as the outside World is concerned you are functioning as normal and appear to be the same people you have always been.  Part of this facade is due to our ever changing World and how we communicate with each other.  Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, LinkedIn and YouTube create a brand you might say of what we want to portray to the Online World.

We play games with each other, we share photos and post experiences that make up our Brand. Some of those Brands are positive and some, well, not so positive.  We block people's feeds that just seem too perfect or, alternatively, cumbersome for our minds to absorb.  Although we are fascinated to peer into our Online friend's lives we really are not involved in their lives.

Rarely, if ever, do we pick up the phone and actually talk to someone.  This eliminates hearing what is in their voices and actually connecting on a level where you may pick up on nuances or tones that enable us as human beings to empathize and share on a level that may somehow piece together something that helps one or the other.

Even greater than that is the diminishing of the "Face to Face" meetings. Our valuable time is spent searching for connections "online".

This disconnect is not just between friends and family.  It is within the structure of the family circle. We email our children to provide family news, we text our spouses to pick things up at the store and even text our children to come up for dinner. We Skype family from a distance making connections that seem so marvelous in this age but the hidden danger is the loss of the actual benefit of spending time with those we love.  The games that produce giggles and fun, bantering and cajoling are becoming less and less of what we do as entertainment.

It does not mean that the love of family and friends is not is.....and will always be but it has produced a shift in our connections within the family itself.  It is somewhat like the shift from photographs to photos online.  Somewhat intangible in some sense but there on the other hand.  We are losing the touch and feel of life.

I guess what this really means to me is that I, personally, am missing that connection.  We all feel isolated and alone at some point and this technological World we live in that is helping us in so many fabulous ways is also leading us into a dangerous age of loneliness and discontent.

So much for this "Brand" of life!

Monday, October 15, 2012

The Beginning and The End

We all know how important family is to our health and well-being.  It connects us, grounds us, lifts us up and shakes us to the core. 

I read recently that family are there in the beginning and family are there in the end.   What a statement!

We had an extended family weekend and it was a photo album of moments.  Four generations gathered and shared food, laughs, tears and jokes. 

Again my story starts with my 85 year old Father telling a joke.  He has impeccable timing and tells the joke with such rhythm and depth it had all of us sharing a great moment of admiration and respect.  Seems funny when he was just telling a joke but it was the pinnacle of the event. 

His two nieces who have already lost their Dad (his brother) were totally engrossed in every word.  Lapping up all his facial expressions and words as a reminder of their Dad who resembled mine in both looks and mannerisms.  It was their chance to capture another moment with him even though he is gone.  So interesting to watch and enjoy.

Also as the food and wine was consumed I noticed that we start to see the family personalities emerge.  People are more open to being argumentative or vibrant in their speech manner and, with family, ready to start loud discussions or controversial topics that might never make it to the floor on another occasion.  Very interesting to watch and to see the strength of the lineage.

And family, being what it is, has many differences in both personality and lifestyle choices.  I also find that we are more tolerant of those within this unit.  We hope the best for our family but realize that no one is perfect and there is a level of tolerance that should be bottled and sold around the world.

And that fact that you are there for each other.  It might not be on a day to day basis but when the going gets tough you can always count on those individuals to unite and stand together.

My Mother's was the 7th of 8 children and before she turned 20 she had lost both her parents.  It is fascinating to watch how the siblings in that family have all banded together over the years and supported and been there for each other.  They celebrate  every year with a Brother/Sister Day just prior to Christmas.  The numbers are dwindling but they consistently get together to enjoy food and laughs.  Not so much card playing or joking is done anymore as some cannot manage it but they still enjoy the event and look forward to it every year.

So even though family cannot be there all the time they can and are there at the beginning and at the end.  They share so much more than genetics, they are linked together and nothing can tear that apart. 

To family!  The world is a better place because of them.

Friday, September 28, 2012

Falling into Fall

Interesting how blogging works.  You don't really feel you have anything worthwhile to say and then suddenly something inspires you. 

Just sitting at my computer working when all of a sudden my Dad scoots by the house....literally scoots on his scooter.  How cute it that?

It is hard to imagine what 85 is like as an age but I am really hopeful that I have the same zest for life that he does at 85.  He is like a young boy out on his bike.  "Be home by suppertime"  I imagine my Mom yelling as he heads for the door. 

Last year at this time I really wondered if my Dad would reach 85 but he managed to pull it together and carry on and we are very happy he did.  He has witnessed me becoming a Grandparent which sheds light on a whole new level of family.  The domino son becomes a Father, I become a Grandmother and my parents become Great Grandparents.  Wow!  Such a lot of roles we attain in a lifetime.

I have watched my parents be Grandparents for 36 years already and I really don't think the sparkle ever leaves your eye once you set sight of that perfect little production. 

My oldest nephew Joe Jr. stopped in to see my parents not too long ago and they still have the same overwhelming gush of love as they did when he popped over from next door when he was a little guy totally naked except for rubber boots. 

It is marvelous to hear my Mom call me Grandma and I have now taken to calling her G.G.

With the approach of Thanksgiving weekend next week it seems a suitable time to reflect and be thankful for a year full of great events....Dad scooting around the neighbourhood, Mom turning 80 next week, the arrival of our dear little Wallace, Tait turning 19 in a couple of weeks and slowly coming out of the teenage fog, Kyle blasting on in his educational pursuits and sharing his life with lovely Lindsay, Reilly having a great year with Tiffany becoming parents and planning their wedding in 2013, Mike biking his heart out this summer (his new passion).

All in all I really like Falling into Fall favorite time of the year!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

To My Mother

Howdy! Howdy! Howdy!

I just want to write about women......well in particular Mothers.....and to be exact my Mother.

She just celebrated her 79th birthday a couple of weeks ago.  Really hard to imagine since she is quite nimble and very with it for 79.

She is adamant that there will be no 80th Celebration!  Not that she doesn't want to get there.... she doesn't want to be the center of attention. The truth is that considering her today I would be very surprised not to see her here for her 80th and possibly her 90th if she continues at this rate.

It is interesting to watch the ever changing roles that women play.  My Mother has just re-entered the world of caregiver.  Not that she really ever left it but recently she has been thrown into it a bit more in the care of Joe.....her husband of almost 58 years.

I find it interesting how we just seem to metamorphosis into whatever we need to be.  Although she is in pretty good shape she still is almost an octogenarian and she cannot do everything she has always done but I notice an increased energy in her step now that she has more responsibility.  I guess that is ageless.  We all need purpose and responsibility.

I watch her now with Dad and she plays both Wife and now a wee bit of Mother to him.  Small things like playing crib with him but not really caring if she him way more chances to get points than normal and just happy he is there to play.  Keeping him happy!

And walking down to get the mail when it is normally Dad's job.  She had quite a spring in her step knowing that she needs to be doing the things he cannot.
Paying bills as well.  These tasks are very quickly becoming her responsibility with his approval of course.  I taught her how to pay her bills online but she still needs to ask him if it is okay to go ahead and pay the bills.  Something our generation would never even dream of doing as those roles have long since been disintegrated with men and women equally sharing the responsibilities of running a household.

It is kind of strange to watch her gain energy as he loses it.  Mother Nature is so powerful in her ways.  Preparing us for our futures without us even catching onto her sneaky little foreshadowing.

Here's to my Mom and all Women ....Mothers....Wives....Daughters....Sisters....Aunts......Caregivers.....

All the women in my life!!


Tuesday, May 24, 2011

Blog about the Blog

I just finished reading my sister's first blog which coincidentally was about us and it was lovely. 

Having a sister is really great and I was lucky enough to spend Easter weekend with my sister and her family and it was the best visit.  We finally have reached the age where the pressures of raising children are dwindling or at least diminished enough that we can actually share other more adult things.  We still have responsibilities but they are not as pressing and that has given us a renewed sense of sistership.

During the "busy years"  you spend all your visiting time discussing and focusing on!  Which is not a bad thing but you leave behind the sister stuff that only sisters can understand.

So to have a few days together with relatively few interruptions was amazing and we packed a lot of sister stuff into the visit.  Things that we share like fitness and cooking and baking and shopping and visiting family.  We did a lot but it flew by and suddenly it was over.

It makes you realize the value of that relationship and what it can continue to be in the future.

Just when you think your life is feeling a void from your children spreading their wings this comes along and I feel very fortunate to have such a great sister and look forward to more of these visits now.

There really is nothing like a sister!