Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Some things never change

It's 9 p.m. and here I sit on my bed with a tube of chocolate chip cookie dough (I shouldn't be eating anything past supper), and self-reflecting. (In other words, making myself feel sorry for myself.)

I am reading through my old diaries...  again. And 15 years ago, I was doing this very same thing. Except it was with a bowl of President's Choice chocolate fudge crackle ice cream and with a pen and paper (not my laptop).

And I didn't have a flashing blue light from my Smartphone distracting me as I wrote.

It is March 10, 1998 and I write:

As the snow swirls around 
I gaze upon the beaming sun
My mind wanders upon thoughts
Thoughts I've never ventured
and some I may never want to
Others very deep and misunderstanding
I only feel challenged as to what to do next
No tears are shed from serious, sad thoughts
Nor smiles for grateful elations
I will wait and wait to feel something...anything 

I love how my entries are riddled with poetry. And even though some I have no idea what they are about, it still brings back a feeling - that emotional connection to my words from a long time ago.

Here's a funny one I stumbled on titled "Men"

Their playing minds
are in all kinds
The sweetest of all
can be so dull
When adventure rules
Their apt to be fools

Although many of these stories of a life I have lived are painful and sorrowful, I can't help but see the growth in myself through my words. The writing improves, my vocabulary expands and my thoughts and issues evolved.

But then again, I see how really nothing has changed. I am still me... the same me I was 20 years ago when I began journaling. It paints a picture of a girl struggling to find herself; suffering from bouts of depression; and finding that inner strength to overcome whatever the problem may be.

Whether it was boys, my parents divorce, my diabetes diagnosis, or my own self-destruction, I always retreated to my pen and paper and somehow, someway, with words on a page, worked through it all.

I often wonder why I keep my diaries, but since reading them again, I have relearned who I am again.
Just a woman struggling to find herself, suffering from bouts of depression; and finding that inner strength.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

My life in books

A random excerpt: 

July 5, 1997
Dear Shawn (yes I have names for my diaries)

"Here I sit on a hard cement block, but it is the most beautiful place in the world right now as I write in my diary. I am on the beach, the sun is setting and the waves are gently rolling in.

Maybe it's the place, or m
aybe it's just being away from the everyday life back home, but I feel at peace here. Last night I fell asleep so fast. It was the best sleep I have had in a long time, despite it being in a cabin with 6 other girls and God only knows how many creepy crawlies.

The night was silent. The sky was black. The only sound was the calming rhythm of the waves along the Lake Erie shoreline. It was there that I slipped away."

After that entry I found several poems written in a foreign handwriting. Not mine, but that of Geoff Hunt, a counsellor at Camp Oneida. (I am glad he signed his name there because I never would have known that)

He wrote:

If I knew what I want,
Surely I'd go get it,
But once it was acquired
It would get boring in a bit

Like a baby boy inept in play,
Using different toys day to day,
One, two, three, or four
Soon he will be longing for more

So where does it stop,
Where does it end,
To draw the line,
A good question, my friend

Wen we aren't, then we'll find out,
What life was really all about
Whether the money or toys we spent
Or if our lives made a difference!

There were more entries I will share later. It was an interesting find and I have no recollection of having him write in my diary.

Help for teen moms hard to find

Help for teen moms hard to find
I was happy to see this article about a woman taking the initiative to break the cycle of teen pregnancy. (

For as long as I've lived in Woodstock, I have heard about and seen all the teen moms pushing their babies in strollers down Dundas Street. (Don't tell me you haven't ... it goes along with all the shirtless men in Market Square as soon as temperature rise).
It's not a phenomenon in the Friendly City (although maybe our teens are getting a bit too friendly too soon here), but teen moms (parents) are everywhere.

But what I discovered recently in my quest to help a young mom suffering from depression, is that her options for help are limited. She is too old for youth programs (19), but still very much a child. With no job, a one-year-old at home, and only a high school education, she feels stuck, isolated, alone and unmotivated.

She can't afford counselling on her own, and the wait times for free services is several months. Her doctor has prescribed meds, but that's not the answer to her mental health crises.
It seems there are several resources for teens during pregnancy (Oxford County Public Health, Beginnings each have teen prenatal programs), but what happens after the baby is born?

Public Health continues to support the baby, and for children 18 and younger Oxford-Elgin Child and Youth  Centre (OECYC) can offer walk-in counselling.

But what about that 19-year-old girl. What happens when that young girl loses her friends because they don't have babies, when her family is too busy with their own lives to help. Even teen moms coming from fully supportive families must feel overwhelmed ... I sure did when I had my kids and I was an adult with a career. 

In an attempt to help this struggling girl, I searched for a teen mom support group or some counselling she could immediately access. While there are many support groups for new moms, there lacked any teen-focused groups (or at least we not advertised or promoted.) A teen, with no life experience, may feel intimidated to join a general mom group with married, divorced, women with jobs.

Oxford County Public Health does offer a home visiting program to help mothers and encourages them to use other community resources.

And apparently Beginnings offers a young mom support group during the week, however, there is not mention of this on their website. And again Fusion Youth Centre in Ingersoll is said to have a life skills program for new young moms, however, again no mention of this on their website.

As an educated and fully internet-capable indiviual who is connected to my community, I found it difficult to find out about any of these programs. How do we expect a struggling young mom to find out?

A better communications strategy should be developed to encourage and promote struggling young moms to access what is available in our communities.

They need guidance to build up their confidence to pursue their life's goals.

Disclaimer: However, it takes a young mom who is willing to accept help to get help!

***A program for teen moms in Tillsonburg area has been found! Avondale Church provides 2 hrs of free daycare while teen moms participate in a group session about various topics from mental health and nutrition to parenting and spa days! Lunch is served to the group on some of the days. No registration is required and it runs for 16 weeks.


Thursday, 13 February 2014

What did Health Canada expect?

What did Health Canada expect?

A few bad apples in the friendly city of Woodstock are giving a bad name to legitimate medicinal marjuana grow-ops after an explosion detroyed a home known to have a licence to produce pot.

Four people have been charged with drug offences following the fire on Alberta Ave last weekend. While still unconfirmed, the house was a legal grow-op. (I believe authorities are withholding this fact to use as evidence in the case.)

Under the licence to grow marijuana for medicinal puposes:

"A person is eligible to be issued a designated-person production licence only if the person is an individual who ordinarily resides in Canada and who
  • (a) has reached 18 years of age; and
  • (b) has not been found guilty, as as adult, within the 10 years preceding the application, of
    • (i) a designated drug offence, or
    • (ii) an offence committed outside Canada that, if committed in Canada, would have constituted a designated drug offence."
      And further if the proposed production site is not owned by the applicant, a declaration dated and signed by the owner of the site consenting to the production of marihuana at the site.

      The legislation also stipulates the number of plants you can grow and amount of dried MJ you can store on your property. However, what it doesn't stipulate is any type of regular inspection of the premises or production methods.

Here's your free pass to grow pot. See you in a year when you renew.

There is a certain level of risk growing and producing marijuana. Should that not be assessed when issuing licences, especially in densley residential areas. The home on Alberta was known by Woodstock Hydro as an "approved high consumption" location. If an illegal grow-op is a safety concern for authorities, then why isn't a legal one?

Maybe Health Canada should have required regular mandatory inspections by local authorities? Fire Departments do regular inspections on numerous other facilities, require fire safety plans etc. It's a matter of prevention. Legislation should have reflected this.

Perhaps if this location had been inspected, they would have found evidence of some illegal production/activity... (although cause is unconfirmed, it is widely accepted hash oil was being produced out of this home).

And what did Health Canada expect... you give out meatless licences to produce marijuana to people in residential areas and think they will ALL stick to the rules.

We are scruitizized more over obtaining our driver's licences!

This week a public education campaign encouring students to clear snow from fire hydrants was shot down because of safety concerns. We worry more about the liability of that, than that our neighbours are given a relatively unregulated pass to grow an illegal substance.

I know there are legitimate medicinal marijuana growers and users (I know one personally) and I think they should have access to medicinal marijuana. And with proper inspections and "check-ins", production should be permitted.

These suspects (allegedly) abused their licencing priveledges and were doing far more than producing dried marijuana, but will undoubtably shed a black shadow over all - legitimate producers.

In addition to those charged, I think Health Canada was also irresponsible in handing out production licences in the first place... and to individuals living in residential areas. While I am not entirely sure of the details, I believe it is more difficult to secure a registration certificate to produce raw leaf tobacco -- a controlled, but legal - subtance in Canada.

Thankfully, tighter restrictions are coming.

"The Marihuana Medical Access Program ends on March 31, 2014. This is also the date that all Authorizations to Possess, Personal-Use Production Licences and Designated-Person Production Licences expire. As of April 1, 2014, the only legal access to marihuana for medical purposes will be through licensed producers under the Marihuana for Medical Purposes Regulations, even if you have an authorization to possess or a licence to produce that has a later date.
Effective October 1, 2013, to comply with recent changes to the Marihuana Medical Access Regulations, Health Canada is no longer accepting the following types of applications:
  • Applications for new Personal-Use Production Licences and Designated-Person Production Licences;
  • Applications to increase the number of plants associated with a licence to produce; and
  • Applications to change the production site address associated with a licence to produce."

Either way, the Criminal Code still states it is illegal.

Some other questions came to mind while reading and hearing the rumours surrounding this residence. Neighbours suspected it was a "drug house" . Different people were often seen coming and going. One person said cars had been smashed in the driveway.

Had these concerns been reported to police? If it was on the radar of the residents in the neighbourhood, was it under police radar? If so, it's unfortunate there was not enough evidence to allowlawful entry to the home.

Again, another negligent fire could have been prevented. Our emergency responders would not have been put at risk... and an innocent dog would not have died.

***My opinions are mine alone and do not represent any organization or place of employment I am associated with.  I do not pretend to know everything. I believe there is a story behind every story and information I am not privy to, nor know at this time.