Sunday, October 30, 2011

Voicing Hamilton revisited

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Yesterday I had my third class at the library and it was fantastic. I'm absolutely rediscovering the enjoyment of learning and attending school that I had forgotten how much I loved. But I also absolutely appreciate and love not being harassed by ignorant/petty/bigoted students who parroted their parent's views on metis children.

The morning was spent listening to a short lecture by Daniel and then interacting with the author of one of the textbooks we received at the beginning of the class. I finally appreciate poetry in a way I never did as a teenage student. I also figured out why my appreciation has changed, experience, maturity. It's amazing how your mind suddenly finds relations and understanding where in the past, poetry was just words that didn't make a whole lot of sense and defied explanation as to their usefulness.

Once again, an amazing delicious lunch was served. I did not catch who had organized it, but kudos to them. It was appreciated and enjoyed by all.

The afternoon lab was spent in small groups reviewing the book of poetry and images and figuring out what each person saw in a lot of the poems and photographs. So much insight, so many ideas and interpretations and it was fantastic that everyone got to contribute to the sharing.

This reminds me of how different this teaching approach is to what I remember higher education being like 30 years ago. I love the interaction between teacher and student. The teacher is not so much a "teacher" as popularly defined but more of an elder sharing their life experiences, the influences that shaped their knowledge and allowing us to peek into their past. I also love the fact that we are all respected as individuals and that each of us have experiences worth sharing relating to what we are studying.

We also got a chance to discuss what our end of class presentation will include. In the group I was a part of, one of the students will be doing a series of paintings comparing several public buildings in Hamilton then and now and their final destination  in the 200 years that have ensued since their beginning. A couple of students in the study group will be doing a photographic presentation, but unfortunately did not catch as to the subject of these presentations. I love the selection of various medias that everyone will be using for their end projects. These will showcase Hamilton at it's best and at it's worse both current and historically.

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Go the F**K to sleep!

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 I had to laugh when I came across this gem of a book. It will raise eyebrows I'm sure, but if you're a parent, you will recognise the mental soliloquy that is stuck on a never ending loop as you try and get your little one to fall asleep every night. It may not be peppered with swear words, but I'm sure we've all substituted or added some invectives along the way.

This is definitely NOT a book to read to your little ones, but definitely one you will want to read before you go to sleep. Great way to get rid of the frustrations and reminds you that you're not the only parent who wants their darling child to go the F**K to sleep!

The fact that it is read by Samuel Jackson just puts the candle on the cake LOL

There is even a Facebook Page you can love.

My darling daughter was one of those children who refused to go to sleep. She'd happily climb into bed but that was it. I would read Dr Seuss to my darling daughter, 1, 2 and sometimes 3 books and she'd be sitting there wide-eyed while my eyes were falling shut. One night I handed her the book and asked her to read it. It was quite interesting to watch a 3 year old reading a story that she'd heard so many times she didn't need to know the words. She'd just point to the pictures and tell me about each one.

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

All about her heart

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I have a daughter, a beautiful kind hearted wonderful courageous daughter.
She arrived in this world today, many years ago.
She greeted me with a smile and a sigh before going back to sleep.
She greeted me with love and trust in her eyes, that I promised to uphold each and every day.
She gave me her heart to hold, to love, to cherish and protect.
She gave me her soul.

I watched her grow up
I watched her figure out her way in this world,
I watched her crash and waited
I helped when she asked

I stood by, calmly and patiently waiting for the angel within her to grow and come out.
I hid my aching heart watching the difficult moments she lived through
I sent my love, on wings of angels, hoping that it would be felt and strength gained from it.

My arms are always open to comfort, understand, love.
My heart is always with her, every day a new challenge to overcome
My smile is always ready
My kiss, always warm on her forehead irregardless of what life throws at us.

To my beautiful daughter,
May she never be taken for granted.



The little girl in this video reminded me so much of my own daughter at that age. The quiet dancing, from the heart, from her soul. I had to share this as I only have the video in my mind which is much more difficult to share :)

Saturday, October 15, 2011

Voicing Hamilton

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I had my very first university level class today!

It is part of a pilot project that McMaster University has created to help those who cannot afford a university education get a taste of what being an adult student can be like. The course is in the Humanities studies and is called Voicing Hamilton. We will be looking at the history of Hamilton from the viewpoint of various native Hamiltonians who have written books, personal histories, photographed, and poems about it's people and the city itself.

The class is on every Saturday until the first Saturday of December. The morning session will be a lecture and discussion on the materials we had to read during the week leading up to the class. There will also be special guests who have been invited to share with us their viewpoint on Hamilton. The afternoon will be breaking up into smaller groups and beginning to work and develop the final presentation on our personal take of Hamilton, in other words, making our voices heard. We will have the assistance of McMaster arts and science students who volunteered to help with the course. These students will also enjoy learning alongside of us all about Hamilton. The nursing students graciously offered to cover for lunch and today's was excellent with 4 varieties of pizza along with a delicious mixed greens salad, coffee, pop, tea, and desert! cookies, squares, mincemeat pies, and apples.

The wide range of people who are attending this course will make it that much more interesting as we (they) cover a span of experiences from newly arrived to long time resident. The disparity in ages also gives the viewpoints an interesting twist which I feel will make the class that much more interesting as we have people in their early twenty's to people in their retirement years. The Spectator has a nice article in the Saturday paper about this class.

I am looking forward to hearing our professor speak about Hamilton. He is a well educated man, broad minded, and comes across as a receptive participant and is as excited as the rest of the students in the class, perhaps even more excited as at the end of the first day, the dynamics of the group were already becoming distinct and the various ideas, suggestions and as end of course presentation ideas were voiced, sparked even more discussions and created even more excitement as everyone realised that "Yes, we are doing this!"

There are 2 people who figure in this undertaking; the first is the coordinator, Jeanette Eby, she is the go-to person, the one who contacted various groups and urban cores to recruit students. She was also the face of Voicing Hamilton during the selection interviews, the scheduling and organizing the nitty gritty stuff that makes this class tic. The second person, which I first met during the Meet 'n Greet a few weeks ago is the professor; Daniel Coleman. I had no knowledge of this man before this class started, but from the moment I shook hands with him, I knew that there was a gentle soul, someone who truly cared about what information and wisdom he imparts to those who take the time to listen. He is an energetic man who loves to learn just as much as he loves to teach or maybe teach is the wrong word, but more loves to share what he has learned along the way with people. And by sharing, he also learns new things himself, so the class is more of a symbiosis than the typical teacher student relationship. He would be an amazing native story teller... perhaps he was in a previous life...

During the meet `n greet a few weeks ago, one of the things that was discussed was each of us choosing a subject and media to present our voice of Hamilton. I had 4 distinct ideas of things I wanted to further explore relating to the city of Hamilton and it's inhabitants. After today, I have narrowed my choices down to one, the one that I feel will satisfy my own curiosity and thirst for knowledge as a Métis person. What impact did the settling of this area have on the tribes and peoples already living here and where have these people gone in today's Hamilton. Now what remains to figure out is how I will present this research once it is completed. I found it very exciting that once I had voiced my choices, that I had several people already willingly contributing sources of information for my research. Just by that action, I knew that was the subject I had to do, not just for me, but for those around me, for the peoples and for Hamilton. 

I look forward to next week's class since by then I will have read several chapters in the book "Hamilton; A People's History" by Bill Freeman. and jotted down some thoughts. Hopefully by then, I will also have an idea of what media I will use to present my research. So far, I have a sense that it will be organic in nature; since I am a tactile and visual learner, I tend to present my findings in a tactile/visual medium. I know while I can write somewhat well, I'm always hesitant of writing a long involved thesis and have no one interested in reading it. Certainly, it would represent my findings as well as my feelings on those findings and possibly some conjecture, but in the end, would anyone else care? I feel that a more 'artistic' presentation may attract more attention and make people 'look' instead of glance.

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

The joys of Fibro

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If you remember, in November 2010 it will be the anniversary of when my neurologist informed me that I more than likely (99% sure) have fibromyalgia. He recommended I get a family doctor and get the ball rolling to confirm the diagnosis since my health would not improve with time if left to it's own devices.
Last week was the appointment where my doctor finally admitted that yes, I have fibromyalgia. Since last November, I have spent many hours being poked, prodded, tested, retested,  siphoned for blood, etc... to rule out other causes of the multitude of symptoms I experience daily.

To that initial fibromyalgia diagnosis, autonomic neuropathy can now be added, again, not something I was expecting to hear, but something that finally explained why my body wasn't listening to me anymore. Autonomic neuropathy is something I have no control over unfortunately. So far, symptoms have been somewhat uncomfortable but am thankful that they are not as bad as they could be. It does make my days a tad more difficult to plan out since I have no advance warning when something will cease working for a few hours/days/weeks or when it will start working properly again. 

And since last November, I've also developed Chronic Fatigue Syndrome (CFS) This joyless problem stems from not sleeping well because of pain in various parts of my body. Even when I do manage to sleep, it's never enough, and not getting down into the healthy sleep levels that recharge your body means I am constantly exhausted, irregardless of what I am doing. Some days, the best I can do is crawl out of bed, make myself breakfast in stages, and make it to the couch to sit there feeling like a zombie and hoping I'll wake up sooner than later. There are days I literally have to crawl back into bed 2 hours later, too tired to keep my eyes open and if I push the issue, I get physically ill if I don't go lay down. Now picture this happening forenoon and afternoon just about every day and think of all the things that you do in one day that I cannot even come close to accomplishing in a week. My home is a disaster, doing dishes is an all day chore done a bit at a time, vacuuming is out of the question, laundry takes a day plus to get done. Even small loads that I hand wash to stretch the time between big loads wipe me out. Cooking is done in stages when my husband can help, otherwise it's whatever is found in the fridge that doesn't require cooking or involved prep time. Being on a fixed income also means no take-out on the days where even looking in the fridge provides nothing edible. Getting groceries using the city's transit system is nothing short of a feat of physical and mental determination just to get it done. And these days, getting groceries means spending hours in food bank line ups every week to get enough to eat for the following four or five days.

I am thankful for the help I do receive and those who give it freely and lovingly know who they are :) The world needs more people like you :) And I finally am seeing the rewards of what Pay it Forward means. I am on the receiving end now instead of the giving end and at first it's hard to accept, but once you get the epiphany, it makes it easier to say thank you and to accept the help given so lovingly and kindheartedly.

All of the above is also on top of the long list of physical ailments I already have like diabetes, COPD, IBS, Carpal tunnel in both wrists, migraines, food and med allergies, peripheral neuropathy...and I probably forget some since today is a fibro fog day meaning that my brain feels like it's sitting in a large vat of cotton batting and just couldn't be bothered to do anything that involves thought.