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

Time To Deal (Written October 20th 2013)

Grief is something that we all handle and deal with differently. Everyone has different "techniques" and there really is no set time that is standard across the board to measure "getting over something".

I'm the worst for dealing with it. I've been known to avoid dealing with something until it festers and affects my day to day life and relationships.

This is a hard entry. But writing really has and always will be how I deal.  I may not be underneath a tree on my portable typewriter.... But writing is writing.

The last few years of my life have been tumultuous. I was in two domestically violent relationships, one of whom I had a child with, and lost several family members in a very short time span.

During all of this I lost the most important thing to me, my faith.

As bad thing after bad thing happened I grew to detest God. I blamed him for not putting a stop to it, for not making it better. Slowly but surely, our relationship strained until it broke down completely. Resulting in almost two years of silence. How easy it is to blame someone else for your negative experiences. Placing the blame on everyone but those at fault, including yourself.

At the tip of my fingers I had every tool imaginable to end my situation and move on but seemed stuck, transfixed in time.

I recognize the fact that I cannot get through this alone. So I've started attending group therapy workshops for women who have suffered at the hands of an abusive partner; both physically and mentally. It's like attending an AA meeting, we have to admit that we have had a problem and we need to make sure it never happens again. We need to learn and grow from our mistakes, stop blaming ourselves and feeling sorry for ourselves, and start on the path towards a bright and amazing future!

So I'm starting on the road to recovery. I'm sure my path isn't going to be easy, but when is it ever? 

I'm simply grateful for those I have surrounded myself with - both friends and family! I'm blessed with some amazingly understanding and caring people in my life, and of course God!
Although I haven't always recognized it, God has been there through the good and the bad, the rough and the easy. He has blessed me with the ability to look at a situation and learn from it (sometimes longer than others!). 
Growing as a person and helping me to build my understanding of myself and those around me hasn't been an easy journey; I still struggle every day. I'm stubborn, insecure, judgemental and difficult at times while understanding, patient, loving and kind at others. I recognize the fact that I'm not perfect and never will be, so I don't ask for that in those around me. I try my hardest to accept everyone for who they are and love them for all of their strengths and weaknesses. I'm always learning, adapting, and growing and I won't stop until I'm gone. Life's about growing, we are constantly learning from ourselves and those around us. Every experience changes us and shapes us into a slightly different version of who we were before. I'm blessed to have so many like-minded and caring people in my life who challenge me on a daily basis to look outside my world view and way of thinking. I will continue to grow my strengths and accept my weaknesses. I will continue to love those around me and support them on their journey through life, I will accept that although their paths and choices are different than mine that they are still their choices and deserve support. I will continue to treat others as I want to be treated.

I won't give up and let the world and others get me down. I will keep my head held high and walk on.  
On the day I was baptized my God Mother Rise gave me this poem in a pink frame, it has hung above my bed since that day. It's always the first thing I put up each and every time I've ever moved:). I typed this out by memory, so I apologize if it's a little off.
Don't Quit
When things go wrong
As they sometimes will
When the road you're trudging
Seems all uphill
When the funds are low and the debts are high
And you want to smile but you have to sigh
When care is pressing you down a bit
Rest if you must but don't you quit.

Life is queer with its twists and turns
As every one of us sometimes learns
And many a fellow turns about
When he might have won had he stuck it out.
Don't give up though the pace seems slow
You may succeed with another blow.

Often the goal is nearer than
It seems to a faint and faltering man
Often the struggler has given up
Whe he might have captured the victor's cup
And he learned too late when the night came down
How close he was to the golden crown.

Success is failure turned inside out
The silver tint in the clouds of doubt,
And you never can tell how close you are,
It might be near when it seems afar
So stick to the fight when you're hardest hit
It's when things seem worst that you must not quit.

Super Old Entry

So I "googled" myself on the weekend and found my old blog from 2011. Thought I'd repost and share this entry (no editing done) :)

Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Gateway Drugs

It's 2:43 in the morning and I am seriously regretting the redbull I downed shortly before I wanted to be in bed. I've watched.... 1 criminal minds episode and 2 criminal minds suspect behaviour... I can't sleep, possibly because it's too hot... at least that's a contributing factor since the only fan I own right now is currently in my daughters room keeping her cooled off lol.
So since I can't sleep I find myself passing time into sleepyland by texting an old friend... rather bbming from my blackberry. How I miss the days of simple MSN and dinosaur computers. Was much easier to sleep back then, less to keep you up at 2 am because you'd have to physically be up in front of a huge monitor... not laying in bed with something smaller than the first testament. He's a smoker, and since I'm already tired and cranky I decide to argue with him about smoking... or rather... lecture. So now I'm going to rant to the world my points to him. Mainly because I can and partially because I know he's getting quite annoyed.

To me smoking is classified as a "gateway drug".

I know that my opinion most certainly rouses a lot of conflict and input on the subject, and is definitely met with a tonne of disagreements but let me explain.

Smoking has been and always will be primarily a social thing. How many people when they turn 19 (21 in the states) wake up on their birthday and think to themselves "I'm going to buy a pack of smokes today" without anyone or anything influencing them consciously or subconsciously. Someone they know (parent, friend, sibling) smokes and they've seen them do it. And either feel pressured or curious and want to try it out. But in reality, how many people in this day and age actually start smoking at the age of 19? And if you're not smoking at the age of 19... where do you get smokes without a fake ID? Does anyone simply buy a pack of smokes from a store to try one to see if they like it or not? No. They sneak one from their parents or sibling, bum one off a friend or someone walking down the street. The moment someone gets a cigarette off of a person that is not selling them from a legal store, they're socially influenced.

In my experience, wherever people are outside or inside smoking is where the party is. If you're inside with all the "non-smokers" you're probably sitting on a couch or chair listening to music. Or playing beer pong or flip-cup - depending on the type of party you're at. And when people go for "smoke breaks" it's usually one or more people that get up and leave to go outside. Leaving the odd two - three that don't smoke. Now these people naturally follow the pack of people outside to continue to be "part of the party" and part of what's going on. Nobody likes to be left out.

Now this is where smoking turns into a "gateway drug". Say there's a group of people outside smoking and there are a few within this group not smoking. One of the smokers will definitely say to a non-smoker "do you want a smoke?" not to pressure them, but possibly under the assumption that the person not smoking isn't doing so because they have run out of smokes. Now it's a 50/50 chance of this person saying yes or no. They may say yes because at that point in time they feel pressured to have a cigarette because a) they were offered one and b) everyone else was.

Next comes how it ties into drug use. So all the smokers are outside relaxing enjoying a nice evening, while inhaling toxins that will eventually destroy their lungs. Someone lights up a joint and passes it around to share. Someone who may have never smoked weed before decides to try it when it's passed to them. It may be because they feel pressured to, or because they're curious about marijuana and want to give it a try; it's free, why not? Then the next time they're out with people this same person may be in the same situation. Just hanging out and a joint gets passed around, they try it again, and again.... you see the pattern here? Eventually they're going to realize how calm and relaxed pot makes them feel and start buying it on their own to smoke here and there. Like any other drug or habit, it becomes addictive. People smoke cigarettes and weed because they like how it makes them feel. Some people like to feel that way all the time and do both more than others. Eventually weed may not be enough and people bridge off into other drugs, like Shrooms, Acid... even coke. Drugs are so commonly talked about amongst people in their teens and early twenties that more and more people do stuff every day. It's human nature to be curious. One person hears how another person had such an amazing "trip" off doing shrooms that they want to try it themselves.

I think the real problem here in this day and age is self control. People always feel like they need to be occupied. Whether it's a beer, smoke or joint... Even a cell phone. Can you remember the last time you just sat outside on a gorgeous day with your hands at your side? Not fidgeting or thinking about anything? Guaranteed you're wondering if so and so has texted you back, or what's new on facebook or one of the many games you play online...

Peer pressure has taken a funny turn the past few years... instead of being outright made fun of people are just not included. Like if you don't drink, what are the chances you're going to be invited to your friends Kegger? It's not because they don't like you, but it's because they don't think you'll enjoy going to a place where everyone's drinking when you'd prefer sobriety...

Like I said, I know everyone has an opinion. I'm not saying I'm 100% right... what I am saying is think about it. Can you honestly say you don't agree with some of my points?