Tuesday, 10 December 2013

My Story of Domestic Violence

Two years ago I made a life-changing decision.

On December 5, 2011 I called the local OPP detachment to file a police report and have charges pressed against my daughter's biological father for assault.

This wasn't an easy decision for me to make, in fact, it took me several months to summon the courage to do so.

On March 13th 2011 I was involved in an incident of domestic violence that left me with several bruised ribs and a broken nose.

It was shortly after the hockey game had finished, I was sitting in front of the television with my legs crossed doing some crafts and homework. Cadence was passed out in her vibrating chair with her soother loosely dangling from her mouth.

He was across from me in the living room about 7 paces away drinking a beer.

We were arguing about a girl that he had been messaging, I felt like the content of their messages was inappropriate and asked him if he could stop talking to her in that way. He told me I was being dramatic and controlling and to "shut the fuck up".

I started ignoring him and he began ranting at me, pointing out every flaw he felt I had. Complaining that I was on Social Assistance and not working (I didn't have enough hours to obtain EI for Maternity Leave so I went on OW for four months after giving birth); continually reiterating the fact that I was "useless" and a "drain on society". I blatantly told him to "shut up and watch the TV" then tossed my slipper at him.

Instantly I realized I had made a mistake.

As soon as I saw him move to get up I stood up to bolt to the bedroom and lock the door; this wasn't my first rodeo with his temper.

I got about half a foot before I remembered Cadence was sleeping in her chair beside me so I turned to reach back and pick her up.

Just as I was reaching for her he grabbed me in a headlock and dragged me two feet across the living room, crushing my nose with his bicep. I couldn't think to kick or scream, my entire body went limp and I went silent - I knew that there was no point fighting him.

He slammed me to the floor and held me for about thirty seconds; I felt like I was going to pass out. He got up and kicked me three times in the ribs with his bare foot, walked a few paces away and came back.

"That didn't feel good enough" he said as he kicked me twice more... then he spit in my face, walked back to the couch and continued drinking his beer.

My vision was blurry and I layed there for a few minutes.

I realized my nose was bleeding and started crying uncontrollably. As I sat up I noticed Cadence still sleeping quietly in her chair.

He was sitting unfazed on the couch watching some sporting event.

Still sobbing, I picked up my phone and walked to the bathroom. I noticed my nose was crooked and started crying harder.

I knew I'd need to come up with a solid story my family would believe so I quickly snapped a picture of my nose for reference later.

I grabbed a cloth and went to clean up the blood; he was still sitting on the couch completely unmoved by what had just happened. I asked if I could take his car to the hospital to get my nose x-rayed. He told me I could, so I packed up Cadence and went to Soldier's Memorial in Orillia.

I told the nurse I was wrestling with my dog and he smacked me in the face, I could tell she didn't believe me.

She put gauze under my nose and had me wait in the waiting room.

As I was waiting I saw her use the phone and could hear her talking quietly to someone on the other line, all the while she kept looking at me with this look of pity on her face. 

I waited until she was done on the phone and left the triage booth before I bolted for the door, just as I was pulling out of the parking lot I saw a police car with a female officer pull in. I knew the nurse didn't believe my story and had alerted authorities of a possible incident of domestic violence. I went home, put Cade to bed and fell asleep on the couch. 

The next morning I brought her to daycare and went to Barrie's Royal Victoria Hospital for an X-ray, I managed to convince the staff about our dog breaking my nose and they scheduled me for surgery for March 17. 

Since I am a pretty clumsy person, it wasn't difficult to convince my parents and friends that the dog broke my nose.

On the 17 I went in for surgery.

That night we got into another argument where he threw me off the bed and into my stand up mirror, smashing it. 

Two weeks later we were supposed to go out with our friends Derek and Amanda, a "couples night out" and his parents were going to watch over Miss Cadie.

When we got to their place everything seemed fine. Amanda and I were drinking some spiked slushies and doing our make-up in the bathroom and him and Derek were watching TV. I sat down on the couch beside him. I can't remember what we were all talking about, but he leaned over to smack me it in the face, in front of our friends, he tried brushing it off saying he was just trying to "move my hair" but I wasn't fooled. A few minutes later, while he was playing with their dog Maya's rubber ball, he got agitated with me again and threw it at my face. 

He was fairly intoxicated at this point, Derek took him outside to talk. He decided he was going downtown without us and I had his parents come get me and take me back to their house. 

A similar incident happened a week or so later where he got drunk and started being rude and violent towards me, kicking his car door as I was sitting in it. 

On April 12 after a ball hockey game we went back to his parents house because he wanted to have a few drinks and celebrate with them. I set myself and the kids up in the spare room above the garage. Cadence was being extremely fussy and I was becoming overwhelmed so I went to find him to see if he could help in any way. 

He was really ignorant and started insulting me, I gave up and went back to the room. About an hour later I went to ask him again, this time he was worse. I went to hug him and say sorry for irritating him and he pushed me into the couch, poured his beer on me and spit in my face. 

Then started yelling "you hit me get off me". 

His brother and his friends were in the adjoining room and didn't see anything, but took Mark's words at face value. 

I told him loudly I hated him and that I'd had it, I was calling the police and telling them the truth about my nose and everything else.  I went upstairs, packed the kids up and went to leave. After the kids were in the car I went back inside to talk to him, he grabbed a paintball gun from the garage and told me he was going to shoot me. 

I left. 

Partway home he called me saying he was calling the police because I "stole his car" and needed to come back right away. 

I called my friend Amanda because I wasn't sure what to do. 

She told me to call the police. 

I contacted them and they told me to go back to his parents. 

They went inside and spoke to him, his brother and friends. 

They managed to convince the police I had attacked him, and that they all witnessed it. 

The police told me to go home and come get him in the morning when he sobered up. 

He moved out a few days later. 

There were also several other incidents where he would come over to "talk" and things would escalate to violence. 

During the July long weekend in 2011 he came over on Thursday, June 28 to watch our daughter while I went to play an open mic with a friend in Barrie. 

When he found out the friend was a male, he snapped. Pushing me down in the hallway and kicking me in the ribs several times. 

At this point I had had enough. 

I overdosed on a bottle of Tylenol. 

I realized it was a bad decision and called my friend to bring me to the hospital. I co-operated with the nurses and committed myself to their psychiatric ward for three days to talk with the staff about what to do and to make sure I was in the right frame of mind. 

During this time I needed someone to watch our daughter. He refused to take her as he had plans to go to Ottawa with his friends for Canada Day. He left me several ignorant messages saying I was just trying to ruin his weekend. Told me I should have "ate more pills and washed them down with alcohol".

Over the next few months I received ignorant texts and voicemails almost daily. 

I was getting harassed by his friends at school and when I would go out with my friends. 

It got to the point where I stopped going to school because I couldn't handle the negativity. 

I decided I was going to move and have a fresh start. My close friends helped me set the plan in motion. 

As my moving date got closer his harassment increased. 

The gentleman I was seeing at the time and my two best friends told me I needed to come clean and contact the police. 

Brandie came over on the 5 of December and sat with me while the officer took my statement, copies of the pictures of my nose, text messages and voicemails. 

He was charged. 

I packed up my entire house and moved ten days later to Waterloo. I changed my phone number, my name and deleted my Facebook. 

I knew one person who lived in the area, my best friend Matt.

The hardest thing I think for me with this whole scenario was the sheer lack of support I received from whom I thought to be in my "core group" of best friends. For the longest time no one believed me, they thought I was over-exaggerating things or that I was just mad he left me. 

I feel so blessed for those who did stand by me from start to finish, and who are still here today. 

It took over a year until he plead guilty to the charge of domestic assault, the verdict processed in January 2013. 

I always get pretty moody when this date comes around. 

I don't regret charging him, but I can't help feeling guilty about it. I don't like hurting people, but what he did was wrong. I didn't charge him out of spite, I did it so he would leave me alone and hopefully realize that his actions had consequences. 

So that's the background of my "big move" with both children. 

I feel comfortable posting this now as all of the court-related dates are done. 

Monday, 25 November 2013

Words Are Lethal; Bullying Kills

I woke up this morning feeling off. 

I couldn't quite put my finger on what was bothering me; I've felt a little sad all day.

Just as I sat down at my computer I started tearing up... what the heck is wrong with me? As I look down at my dock... it hits me. 

Today's November 25th.

Which means tomorrow is November 26th.

It's amazing the things that your unconscious mind just knows that your conscious mind takes a while to figure out. 

Nine years ago, I was sitting on the computer at my boyfriend Nic's house playing on MSN and watching the new Riddick movie "Pitch Black".

A call to their landline came in, it was my dad. He didn't technically know I was at Nic's, I had told my parents I was staying at someone else's house that night.

He called several times before we finally answered it.

I answered the phone sheepishly, knowing I'd been busted for lying about where I was. I was fully expecting a lecture on lying... his voice to be angry at the other end.

"Cassie?" he said, his voice sounded tired... and sad.

"I know I lied I'm sorry I'll come home right now" I replied hurriedly.

"It's okay, I'm not mad. But I have something to tell you and you might want to sit down" I could barely hear him, he was talking so quietly.

I laughed a little, wondering what was going on. "Josh is dead". My heart dropped. "What do you mean?" I whispered, thinking he meant my younger brother. 

"A call went out today about a suicide victim on Scotchmere just outside of Strathroy. Your friend hung himself".

I collapsed. Sobbing uncontrollably and the rest is a blur.

In the coming days I got in touch with a few friends from "back home" about what happened via MSN. 

It was no secret Josh was being bullied in high school, but I don't think any of us knew the severity of it until after it was too late. 

Josh was a happy kid, quirky, funny, and loving if you were his friend. I can still hear his "baby voice" he'd use when talking down to you. There were eighteen of us in grade school that were "our age" (born in 1989), the number fluctuated as people moved in or away over the years but stayed pretty consistent. I attended Metcalfe for grades 5, 6, 7 and 8. Josh was one of my first friends as he lived right around the corner. For the first two years living there Josh, Sarah, Candice and Chantal were my "besties", their older siblings were all friends and I lived on the same block as the first three. We'd bike to school together, play after school, ride the bus together. 

I was essentially joining the group as I was the "new girl". My first friend upon moving was Sarah M, but she wasn't very popular, so once I figured that out I stopped talking to her and played with the "cool kids", grade school bullying at it's finest. I guess that's probably where it all started. 

I was also really good friends with this kid Matt, he was tiny and scrawny and we used to pick on him a lot, his mom was the Boyscout leader and since my brother was in beavers and cubs with his brother, we saw each other a lot. I don't feel like talking about Matthew right now though... Maybe in 8 years. 

Josh was made fun of a lot at Metcalfe because his closest friends were girls and he was an "artsy" kid; even as a kid his drawings were phenomenal. I'd always have him help me with my art class stuff because I was artistically challenged. He was also really fast and won triple jump and the 100m dash for our age every year at track and field, and kicked my ass at cross-country.

I guess as he hit high school it got a lot worse. He was "gay" because of his sensitiveness and art skills. He was made fun of relentlessly in the halls, classrooms and at home through MySpace and MSN. He just couldn't escape it.

Then on November 26th 2004, he hung himself from the tree in his yard.

His father had to cut him down. 

I can still remember the funeral as if it was yesterday, the church was so packed, almost three full busloads of kids from his high school came. 

I was sitting in one of the back rows with a few girls I went to that school with, wondering how if he had that many friends... he felt so low and down that he had to kill himself. Where were all of the people that filled the church when he needed them? Where was I?

We were all so caught up in our every day lives that we couldn't see someone we cared so much about struggling, we weren't there when he needed us.

I've always felt a little responsible, because I wasn't there for him. 

When I moved after grade 8 my friendships with everyone I had grown up with were strained, we didn't have things like Facebook back then. It wasn't as easy to get in touch, we couldn't text and our internet was dial-up.

I know it wasn't my fault, in the end his choices were his. But I can't help feeling guilty for being so wrapped up in myself that I couldn't see someone I was once so close to struggling.

After Josh died I started a group within my school called Teens Against Bullying, and I started speaking out at schools about bullying and how serious it was. I adopted the slogan "Words are Lethal and Bullying Kills" that his father had said to a local newspaper in regards to his son's tragic death. 

I started talking to "the dirty kids" and befriending the people I thought looked lonely. I tried making everyone feel included when I did things and started going out of my way to talk to people I'd lost touch with and mended bridges with those that I had burned. I even went as far as painting a mural with a few of my friends in the English hall advocating anti-bullying and how serious words can hurt someone.

Before Josh killed himself I would cut myself all the time because I was having a hard time dealing with how a certain group of girls at my high school treated me. I skipped my math and english classes every day just so I wouldn't have to see them; which in turn led to me failing both classes and repeating them in grade 10.

We moved from Strathroy because I refused to go to high school there as I was afraid of a few people and thought they'd be mean to me. So after two months of massive temper tantrums and running away I convinced my family to move North.

When we moved we moved into our family cottage. It had no road or running water at the time since we were putting an addition and full basement onto it. I had to wash my hair in the lake and shower at our friends place a few doors down. I had to take a boat to my bus stop and had to wear a floater suit to school.

The girls had a heyday with it, I was a "dirty dyke" for awhile. Then just one of the dirty hick kids because I didn't wear "classy clothes" and my hair was always messy. High school was pretty much a living nightmare for me and I was grateful to get out. Over the past few years I've been approached by a few girls, that were extremely nasty, who apologized for what they did. One actually came to me in tears at a bar one night saying sorry for everything she did stating "you didn't deserve it and I am so sorry".

I don't feel like kids realize how serious their words and actions are towards one another. 

"Sticks and stones may break my bones but names will never hurt me" is such a commonly thought saying; but how true is it?

There's a few songs that I listened to relentlessly after Josh passed away that really made me want to make a difference and show people how serious bullying can be. To teach people that each and every action we make does have a consequence... you never know how something you say can affect someone.

On another level, Josh's death had an everlasting affect on me. As I too was battling depression and was self-harming.... I felt alone... like no one loved me or cared about me. But as I looked around the church on the day of his funeral... I saw over a hundred people crowded in... crying, holding each other... I realized that Josh probably felt the same way I was feeling... and look at everyone who came out to pay their respects...

It's days like today that just make me sit back and think about everything I've ever said to anyone. Things I've said out of anger or frustration, hurtful things. Hurtful actions I've done onto others; stuff I'm not proud of. 

I always visit Josh on the anniversary of his death and his birthday... bringing him yellow roses as a symbol of ever-lasting love and friendship... as I did on the day of his funeral... It never gets easy, I still cry sometimes... I love this quote by Rose Kennedy:

"It has been said, 'time heals all wounds.' I do not agree. The wounds remain. In time, the mind, protecting its sanity, covers them with scar tissue and the pain lessens. But it is never gone." 

It doesn't feel as though it's been nine years, I can remember it like it was yesterday. I have that painful knot in my stomach as I type this with tears in my eyes  I can still hear his laugh, silly voices or how he'd always say "kep" instead of "okay". This will be the first year I don't travel to Strathroy to lay flowers on his grave... but my grandmother was kind enough to agree to do so for me. It surprised me that I could give her exact directions to the location of his grave, including the number of rows up it was from the front gates. 

I realize that a big part of me being able to move on from his untimely death, and the meaning behind it, is to forgive those who I've felt contributed to it. 

The bible speaks on forgiving others in Ephesians 4:31-32

"Let all bitterness and wrath and anger and clamour and slander be put away from you, along with all malice. Be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, as God in Christ forgave you."

There was one individual that the majority of the blame was placed on, and I've had a lot of hate in my heart towards him over the years. 

I spent the time today locating him on Facebook.

I wrote him a message on Facebook telling him that I no longer hold any negative feelings towards him. 

He responded and we talked for a bit, it was enlightening hearing his side of things.

I'm not placing the blame on him, or any one person.... I believe that collectively... everyone involved in Joshua's life played a part in his circumstances. As William Burroughs said:

“There are no innocent bystanders ... what are they doing there in the first place?”

But in the end.... the choices were his to make. There were people who would have witnessed the acts of harassment and bullying at school that did nothing about it... but that doesn't make them solely responsible for his actions. 

I think that we all need to let go of the grievances we have with others... and maybe even ourselves over what happened... and move on. 

We've all learned from his death... taken something away from it in one form or another.... Let's grow and become better people for it. It's what he would have wanted.... he wouldn't want us fighting, blaming each other or blaming ourselves... He'd want us to live our lives to the fullest and to do whatever is within our means from putting others through the same torment he faced on a day to day basis....

So let's just be accepting of those around us... let's just love everybody. 

This is dedicated to Joshua David Melo... February 5th 1989 - November 26th 2004.

Forever in our hearts <3

"Love is a Verb"

In high school I read a quote by Robert Heinlein
"Love is that condition in which the happiness of another person is essential to your own... Jealousy is a disease, love is a healthy condition. The immature mind often mistakes one for the other, or assumes that the greater the love, the greater the jealousy."
And to be honest, I don't think I've ever felt that way about someone. I've had the butterflies, the breathlessness and the goosebumps; but they never last. It's like the fire in my stomach burns out after a month or so and then everything just becomes a chore. I mean, I've gone out of my way to do nice things for the person I'm with, to make them happy, but it's always felt like work.
Then I read this blog a few weeks ago, and boy did it ever hit home!

After reading his story, it gave the quote I read when I was younger by Heinlein an entirely new meaning. I think for the first time I felt that I truly understood the meaning behind it. 

When you love someone, when you're truly in love with them. You're going to have those moments of fire, butterflies and goosebumps... but you're also going to have those moments when you want to stomp your feet and yell at them like a toddler. Just because that fire in your chest has dissipated and has been replaced by feelings of stress and frustration, doesn't mean it's gone! Throughout all of those feelings, deeply routed in your heart, is going to be the desire to make them happy.... the knowledge that their happiness is just as important, and tied to, your own. 

You don't just express your feelings to someone with outlandish gestures and "I love yous", but in your day to day actions. Appreciate the little things you do for your partner, and they'll appreciate yours. Don't look for applause and praise for doing the dishes or making the bed and don't throw it in their face either "well I did this for you so you do this". It's about give and take, love really is an action, it really is a verb!

That's the problem I think a lot of us have in life, we have this expectation that when we meet that special someone it's going to be all daffodils, daisies and roses 365 days a year. We're not prepared for the difficult times that the majority of our world experiences; whether it be financial hardships, loss of a loved one or a career change. It's so easy to just up and leave someone in today's society; that instead of investing the time and initiative in a relationship to fix the "grievances" we may have, we just move onto the next one. I'm not saying we need to suck it up and "settle", my life is living proof of that.

What I'm trying to say is, that we're not always going to see eye to eye with our partner. There are going to be times in each and every one of the relationships we have with others - whether it be a spouse, family member or friend - that we're not going to have the same perspective. 

I listened to Patti Smith give "Advice to the Young" and this segment really stood out to me.
"There's beautiful things in life, so when you're suffering, just, you know, it's part of the package, you know. You look at it; we're born, and we also have to die. We know that, so it makes sense that we're going to be really happy and things are going to be really fucked up too. Just ride with it. It's like a roller-coaster ride. It's never going to be perfect. It's going to have perfect moments, and then rough spots, but it's all worth it."
What she said, it really sticks with me. I've found that I've applied it to not only my relationships and friendships with others, but on the way I live my life every day. Life is all about ups and downs, it really is a roller coaster ride of good times and bad - as cliche as that sounds. 

There are going to be really amazing times, and really hard times in every interaction we have with the world around us. That's what life is, positives and negatives, ups and downs, highs and lows. 

I'm looking forward to the day that I meet someone I'm willing to compromise with. Someone I'm willing to do stuff for and with, when it doesn't feel like a chore or work; when it just comes naturally without me realizing. 

I'm not going to go out searching for this level of love and commitment, I know that when I am good and ready... when I'm "mature enough" to accept myself as I am and make the changes I need to make to equate another's happiness to my own, God will bless me. I must first seek to change my ways that have strayed from the path He made me. As it says in 1 Peter 5:10
"And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you."
When He feels I am worthy and accepting of the next chapter in my life, things will change. Until then I must stay true to my faith and my journey, my mission to better my life and the lives of those around me. I will continue to love not only through words, but actions as well :)

#LoveIsAVerb #Happiness #PattiSmith #Heinlein #Love #Learn

"It Was 99 Cents"

For those of you that know me personally, you probably know how irritating I can be when I get a song stuck in my head. Since June 2013 I've been pretty much obsessed with the song "Thrift Shop" by Macklemore and Ryan Lewis. When I was backpacking in Europe I would yell out "It was 99 cents" every single time I saw a store sign advertising something for that price; my brother got irritated pretty quickly.

I love thrift stores, not just because I love saving money, but because I like quirky "old things".... I guess you can call me a bit of a hipster

I can remember how much I hated thriftstores, second hand clothes and hand-me-downs. I was always afraid people were going to make fun of me for wearing second hand clothes... like they'd know if it was second hand or not. 

I guess as I've gotten older I've matured a little bit as I now love going to second-hand shops; I could spend hours in a value village looking for old school vintage-style clothes to wear.

I volunteer with an organization in Kitchener-Waterloo called The Working Centre. It's comprised of quite a few different projects; one of which is a second-hand store called Worth A Second Look. I've volunteered at WASL since May 2012 and absolutely love it! Great staff and management, amazing selection of items and just an overall positive and happy environment to be a part of.

Everyday when I volunteer I always browse through the store to see if there's anything interesting; I've actually procured the vast majority of my daughter's My Little Pony collection from there. Today as my boyfriend was looking through records I stumbled across this. 

I love writing on typewriters... whenever I have like... a short story or "rant" I want to talk about I whip out my other one and will bang away until it's done. Finding this was probably the most exciting thing to happen to me in awhile.

I can't wait to get the manual that I ordered online to fix it up and have it back in tip-top shape!

Oh the things you find at a second-hand store! If you have items that are in good condition... don't throw them out! Donate them to your local thrift shops to help someone else :)

I find it's always best to donate to the smaller ones that give back to the community directly. Just like Worth a Second Look!

Tuesday, 19 November 2013

John Keats in Roma

After spending 10 days total in Rome, I had seen the majority of “what there was to see” within the city center. I wanted to see more and get pictures of monuments and ruins that most people don’t see when they do the tour guide version of Roma.

So naturally, I set out on an adventure. The previous day I had gotten lost on a metro train and ended up by the sea, I had originally thought that the Roma Metro system only had three routes. Surprise surprise, yet another reason you should always do some basic research on a city before you decide to fly across the world to explore it! There's that deep routed "point and go" attitude my father instilled in me as a young child.

Like the genius I am, I thought that the only two routes were A and B. A was the route we used to get to and from the Hostel as our stop was at Cornelia... I can still hear the sound of the announcing voice on the subway announcing each stop... and the accordion players with the little pick pockets. *nostalgia*

I wasn't really sure where I was going to go, just that I wanted to see the sea. So I took the A from Cornelia down to Termini and switched to the B towards Laurentina getting off at Piramide. It was a bit of a wait for the Lido train, which was actually like an above ground traincar as opposed to the metro subway based I'd been used to taking in Rome. I decided to go out for a walk and look around, snap some photos. I'm so grateful I did! My main issue with Roma was how much money it was to see everything, it felt like every unique building had a pricetag attached to it. I was travelling on a student/single mom budget so I didn't get to see a lot of things on my list. As I was walking I stumbled upon a beautiful Protestant Cemetery. When I say beautiful, I mean it. Flowers, trees and graves going back over a century. It was immaculate and so well cared for. I started wandering in and out of the aisles pausing at each stone to read the name on the head. 

As I rounded a turn in the path I stopped dead in my tracks as my eyes transfixed on a tombstone reading "here lies one whose name was writ in water". It took me less than 20 seconds to place those words... John Keats.

I was floored, I had no idea that my all time favourite poet was buried right here in Roma! I sat down beneath a tree facing his and Joseph Severn's graves across the path and started writing down quotes I had accumulated from him over time by memory. I always admired his honesty about love and loss, they struck home with me on so many occasions; often drifting into my head during times of loss and heartache.

“There is nothing stable in the world; uproar's your only music.” 
“The only means of strengthening one's intellect is to make up one's mindabout nothing -- to let the mind be a thoroughfare for all thoughts.”  
“The problems of the world cannot possibly be solved by skeptics or cynics whose horizons are limited by the obvious realities. We need men who can dream of things that never were.”  
“I would sooner fail than not be among the greatest.” 
“Nothing ever becomes real till experienced – even a proverb is no proverb until your life has illustrated it”  

I could go on and on and on and on...

But the main quote, the ones that have always stayed steadfast within my mind... are these two:

“Don't be discouraged by a failure. It can be a positive experience. Failure is, in a sense, the highway to success, inasmuch as every discovery of what is false leads us to seek earnestly after what is true, and every fresh experience points out some form of error which we shall afterwards carefully avoid.” 

I read this somewhere in high school, I wish I could remember where. I might have googled a quote on failure for an essay or something along the lines of that. It always stuck with me, how true its meaning was. Life is all about experience; each and every day we learn something new. Whether it be from error or reward, each day is a learning experience and we take away something onto the next . It taught me to learn and grow from my negative experiences and not to sit down and feel sorry for myself.

“We read fine things but never feel them to the full until we have gone the same steps as the author.” 
I didn't read this quote by John until after I found his grave in the cemetery, and ever since I stumbled upon it I've kept it "in my pocket". I had hooked up to the hostel wi-fi and started googling him as I was eager to learn more about his short life.

More often than not I feel like I read something and it hits a chord deep within my heart and soul, but I can't help but wonder if it's meaning the same thing to me as it does the author. Why did they write that line or section? What were they going through at that point in their lives that made them think to write that. 

The same could be said when it comes to judging people, how can you grasp their choices or actions without first travelling down that exact same path? You can't. You can guess, assume... you can try, but you'll never fully understand. You can't fully comprehend someone's actions until you've experienced each event leading up to them. 

When I originally got to Europe I was there to attend an international leadership based conference through Rotary International for Rotaractors across the globe. It didn't turn out to be what I thought it was, so I went soul searching instead. 

I feel like a large part of my life is constant under scrutiny, that I am always being judged for my actions by those around me. As a single parent with two children from two different fathers, I'm slowly becoming used to it. 

I just wish that the vast majority of the world's population would read things like that and take it to heart as I do. I wish that they were blessed with a greater understanding of the world around them, and that no two people walk down the same path in life.  And that you can't fully understand one's decisions and choices unless you've experienced everything they have. 

I've always heard the term "don't judge a man until you've walked a mile in his shoes" thrown around in day to day conversation but it didn't strike as deep of a chord in me as that by John Keats. 

It gave me the motivation to study literature on a more serious basis, reading biographies on my favourite authors, even contacting some of them. Just to get a better understanding of what they mean and why they meant it. What life scenarios led them to write something so beautiful and moving. 
“The excellence of every Art is its intensity.”
With whatever you do, if you want to succeed and achieve the level of excellence that wells deep within your being.... put all you have into it. 

Monday, 18 November 2013

Northrop Frye

The last couple weeks have been a little difficult for me when it comes to getting from one place to another. 

I don't own my own vehicle and the one I was using I'm no longer able to use. 

I'm lucky enough to have some pretty amazing and supportive people in my life to help me get around. Today I was blessed to have a very good friend's mother drive me to my volunteer placement for the day, after dropping both of my children off at school.

I'd sort of shirked my duties as a community volunteer the past few months, and my work load had "piled up". I have seven books of receipts to input into the data system; which is about 140 receipts a book.

Partway through entering all of the data the gentleman responsible for shelving used books in the store came and asked if he could use the computer to input some of his data. I quickly obliged and wandered over to his section of the store where he sorts books; browsing through the shelves for something that would catch my eye.

Halfway down one ceiling-high shelf I saw a collection of three Northrop Frye books. I don't know much about his writing, I remembered reading a piece in a literature class in college but couldn't even recall what it was about. Hesitantly, I grabbed the three books and browsed through them. His style caught my interest, so I brought them back to my desk. One of the books had a folded up newspaper article in it, I didn't think much of it and made a mental note to read it when I got home.

"Literature itself is something that is experienced rather than taught and learned" - Frye

To my surprise it's an article about an interview with Northrop Frye conducted by the University of Toronto's newspaper The Varsity that was published October 22, 1976. Folded up, yellowing around the sides and in pristine condition.

As someone slowly starting to get into the art and form of writing on my own... what an amazing find! On my first "full day" back at one of my most favourite places in our community. 

Just last week I found a Canadian Maple Leaf pressed between the pages of a book on Airplanes I had purchased from Value Village. It was the deciding factor in purchasing the book in the end!

I absolutely love finding surprises within the pages of used books, a hint at what the previous owner was thinking of while reading them!

What I love even more is finding a well worn novel with highlighted sections throughout it... sentences, verses... sometimes even paragraphs of highlighted or underscored words; giving me an insight as to what someone else found intriguing and insightful about what I was reading. I feel like it makes me stop and gives me the perspective of someone else, whom I had never had the pleasure of meeting.

I'm now looking forward to curling up with these books and reading them. Adding highlights and underscores to the existing ones. 

"The Stubborn Structure - Essays on Criticism and Society" - Northrop Frye
"The Educated Imagination" - Northrop Frye
"A Glossary of Literary Terms; Sixth Edition" M.H Abrams