All posts by Carli Taylor

Finding Your Place

When I was forced to think of words that describe my “work” self, I often got stuck on things like amenable, adaptable and accommodating.

Those words, in my opinion, can make one feel as if they are thought of as weak, malleable, controllable.

 When I first started my volunteer front desk position at the YW it wasn’t out of a burning desire to help, or to be a part of the bigger picture. I wasn’t passionate about the organization because in truth I really had no idea what the organization was about. I came and sat my first shift at the front desk because I was floundering. I was lost. I was in need of something to focus on aside from the mess I was in as a single mom who had just been fired from her job.

Passion… came later.

Being amenable

I wasn’t satisfied just sitting there answering phones when I could see so many staff run off their feet trying to get their days work accomplished. And so, I made myself amenable to them, offering any sort of assistance they could use. I looked around the space I was in, and saw that the one thing my perfectionism and OCD had going for me, I could use here. When I was offered a part-time front desk position, I leapt at the chance.

Being adaptable

In an organization this size, there are often gaps that need to be filled- quickly. Over the years, I found myself needing to be adaptable to all those changes, and often found myself in new positions trying to fill a void. I just felt this need and drive to mold myself to the place they needed me to be at the time. Though to be sure— I struggled with this. As my positions changed, as my work load increased because I was so accommodating I kept asking myself… is this what you want?? Are you happy?

Finding passion

I have never been a “career” oriented person, nor did I have an insatiable drive to run myself up the chain of command and be a “leader”. I was so much happier sitting on the sidelines—surviving, but with peace of mind. I desperately wanted to keep a place for myself within the organization as by then, through all the changes, the ups and downs, watching friends and even family go, I had found a passion for the work the organization was doing even though I hadn’t quite yet found a passion for what I was doing.

My professional journey with the YW has to date been over 10 years. I have watched this organization stand amendable, adaptable and accommodating to our community in so many different ways. As an organization we have changed and grown with the needs in this community for over 90 years, becoming more fluid, more elastic over time to address the considerable amount of need. We are constantly stretching at the seams, but yet we stay resilient because we have the power of so many dedicated amenable, adaptable and accommodating people driving for change, for a just and equitable future.

I was recently offered a position that I leapt at again. This time, with excitement and certainty that this was my place. One that empowered me. This is what I want. This is what makes me happy. I am now in a position that I can own and evolve with—that I can offer the piece of myself that is truly passionate.

As the YW is entering into yet another new strategic plan, with a re-vamped Mission, Vision and Values that I am incredibly proud to have been a part of, I find myself incredibly invigorated and excited about the new breath that is about to be blown into our organization. As I look back over my journey, I am able to be proud of those “work-self“ words and take ownership of them as I have come to realize that I stand amenable because I am determined. I stand adaptable because I am strong. And I stand accommodating because I am passionate about what we do.

Out Of The Heat

I am rarely one to complain about the heat, because I absolutely HATE being cold. I mean come winter I am layered in at least three things at all times trying to get hot. That being said, I have found this summer to be particularly HOT and to be honest… long. Maybe that’s because I currently don’t have a/c in my car, my office gets really stuffy and our bedroom has the full brunt of the sun bearing down on it all day making it difficult to cool down at night, even with central air.

Listen to me complaining.

Do you ever wonder what those with nowhere to go do on an insanely hot day? I know a lot of us worry and strive to take care of those in need during the long winter months, but what about those days where the temperatures are sky high, heat alerts are in effect and we are all drooping even in our air conditioned offices, cars and homes?

What happens when you don’t have shelter to hide away from the baking sun and excessive heat?

When you are shooed away from a shaded spot because businesses often want people to move along?

When you are made to feel uncomfortable, unwanted and a burden for asking for a cup of water at the Tim Hortons?

When you don’t own a hat to cover your head, sunscreen to cover your skin.

When you see a blessed water park, but don’t dare go near it for fear someone will call the police on you.

What happens then? Where do you go?

This summer Niagara has seen six excessive heat alerts (though keep in mind most of those alerts last several days or longer). This alert is sent out by the region when the humidex is forecast to rise to 40 or higher, when the humidex is forecast to rise to 38 or higher with a smog alert, and when Environment Canada has issued a humidex warning.

The region recommends that during an excessive heat alert residents should:

  • Plan outdoor activities during cooler parts of the day
  • Rest frequently in shaded areas
  • Drink plenty of fluids (unless fluid is restricted by your physician)
  • Never leave infants, children or pets in a parked car
  • Dress in cool, loose clothing and shade your head with a hat or umbrella
  • Take cool showers or baths until you feel refreshed

This is all well and good for those who have access to those options.

When these alerts are sent out, the YWCA and other shelters such as Southridge and The Salvation Army are mandated to accept anyone seeking shelter. While the YWCA can only accept women and children, we would refer men to our Men’s shelter or those shelters who accept men.

But the sad part is, that they aren’t always accessed.

Often, most of us don’t realize how the effect of a hot day can sneak up on us, never mind those suffering from chronic alcoholism, drug addiction and mental health issues. Research has shown that addictions can cause our bodies to react differently, causing an increase in dependency and cravings. Add to the fact that on a normal day you are turned away from shelter for a variety of reasons, your gut reaction becomes to stay away instead of being chased away.

This is why you often see those in need around the bus station, malls, Wal-Mart and Tim Hortons. They are some of the few places where they aren’t asked to leave as long as they are keeping to themselves. That sentence was really hard to type.

We all complain about the heat. About our a/c not working properly. About being sticky, sweaty and uncomfortable. We prepare in advance for the summer… stocking up on water and ice cream. Getting the water slides and pools ready. Thinking of the best way to keep the house cool. But so many of us don’t stop to consider how the other half are faring. We walk past the outstretched arm because we are so used to seeing it. We turn our heads to the side and maybe say thanks that we aren’t in the same position.

But maybe next year, while we are stocking up on water, we buy some extra to keep cold and hand out on those super awful days. Or offer some sunscreen or a hat. Check up on someone and say hello if you are concerned. Donate items such as water bottles, sunscreen, hats, bug spray etc. to the shelters to hand out.

We all deserve to be comfortable and safe. We all deserve to be thought of.

Trailblazing Fathers

There is something to be said about a dad doing things outside of the societal ‘norm’. These ‘trailblazing’ daddies who are out there starting hair schools so other dads can learn how to style their daughter’s hair. The ones rising to fame because a photo of himself with his infant strapped to his chest while brushing his daughter’s hair in the bathroom has baffled the world. The daddy bloggers who are fielding questions from other dads and posting about the often hilarious antics of their experiences with their children. The one posting letters to his wife on Facebook about his trials and tribulations with his young ones while she is laid up in the hospital (who subsequently gained thousands upon thousands of followers.) These daddies are showing men around the world that it’s cool to be an involved father.father-682663_1920

There is also something to be said about those same dads not really understanding why their actions are being praised so astoundingly when to them they are just being the best dad they can be.

We’ve recently been seeing a rise in men tossing aside the oppressive ideas that dads can’t be as involved or more in their children’s upbringing. We are seeing them shrug off the need to maintain the macho status as the typical absent father. And it’s so exciting to see how embraced those dads have been. How encouraged they are to ‘keep up the good work’.  “I feel like the kudos have made me a better dad,” he said. “When you hear ‘you are such an awesome dad,’ you start to believe it and let go of the mistakes you make as a parent.”

It’s gratifying to see moms posting blogs in defense of their baby daddy’s like this one about dumbass stuff we need to stop saying to dads and it’s comforting to witness this shift in society’s thinking. Women have been saying for years that we can do anything a man can do. So maybe we shouldn’t act so surprised when it turns out that men can do anything we can do too.

Kudos to you, you trailblazer daddies you!

What’s Dad got to do with it?

Are Dads really all that important? Are they not just the ones who bring home the money so that Mom can do her job? This seems to still be a common stereotype in our society – bloggers Carli and Dana answered June’s Question Of The Month:

What’s Dad Got To Do With It?

Carli

This is a mentality that drives me a bit batty.

I’ve known men more eager to become a father than the woman is to become a mother.

I know men who are raising multiple children, on their own. Their children have structure, rules, ups and downs, highs and lows, laughter, fights, make-ups, time-outs, family outings and most of all know just how much their dad loves them.

I know men who are just as involved in the parenting as their partner. They work with mom to work out the best schedule for their child, and stick to it. They listen to mom’s fears and share their own. They make up rules and back moms. They cut up meals into bite sized pieces, make bottles, stroke their babies head while nursing, read to, sing to, bathe and dress their children. They are present and omnipotent.

Fathers-Day-Photos (1)I know a man whose love for me was so great, it automatically extended to the child attached to me. He’s a man who would do anything possible to ensure our son has a wonderful life. A steady, sturdy, safe and comfortable life.

Yes, there are those fathers out there who don’t make their children a priority. Fathers who don’t offer that same kind of protection and love, structure and balance—or any at all. There are the fathers who hardly get involved in decisions, upbringing, rules and playtime. But there are mothers as well.

I choose to believe my husband is just as capable as I am when it comes to making decisions about children. Partly because of how offended I get when I’m made to believe I’m not capable of doing something and partly because I see examples of a fathers love for his children all around me. Men deserve to be treated equally and with the same equality that women are treated when it comes to child rearing.

Today’s women certainly wouldn’t settle for anything less, now would we?

 

Click here to read Dana’s take on our question of the month!

Reflecting on 2015

Being tasked to reflect on 2015 when I still can’t believe that it’s no longer 2015 is proving to be a little mind boggling. I mean, the old saying that the older you get the faster time flies finally, really just hit home. (Oh. My. God. I’m officially old.)

I’ve never liked making New Year resolutions because I’m: 1) Way too hard on myself; 2) A realist; and 3) A really, really good procrastinator. That’s not to say that I don’t set goals for myself, it’s just that I know that most of those things take time and are usually at the top of my list each year anyway.
I recently saw a really beautiful idea on Pinterest that I decided was going to be my focus for the year. Each time something special, fun, amazing—something that you are grateful for; something that you just appreciate; something you don’t want to forget—happens to you, you write it down. Write it down and place that memory in a jar (or a photo album, etc.) And on the eve of the New Year you take a few moments to read them.

How lovely is that? I can’t imagine a better way to begin a New Year…by reflecting on all the good things that have happened during the last one. Now here’s just hoping I can stop procrastinating long enough to actually write these things down 😉

Your Opinion? No, thanks!

I grew up in a household and with family who breastfed, and who were comfortable doing so around others. I grew up never thinking twice about seeing a nursing child and mother. The men in my family never said a word about it, nor asked their wives/daughters/sisters to cover up or leave the room. To us all, this was a natural, comfortable experience. I also grew up seeing babies being bottle fed. This was also normal and natural.
When I became pregnant with my son there was no question that I would try to breastfeed and again it was something that I didn’t think much of—I just knew that would be my preference for all the usual benefits plus the affordability. So needless to say, I was at a loss for words when my father’s girlfriend informed me that breastfeeding is disgusting and especially breastfeeding a son.

What???

My intention here is not to advocate for or against breastfeeding/bottle feeding. I won’t give you all the reasons I truly loved breastfeeding and eventually also loved bottle feeding when my milk dried up. You know why? Because it’s none of your business. Nor is it any of my business which you prefer. And it certainly isn’t the business of strangers to publicly shame, criticize, antagonize and make unwanted and undeserved comments to a woman who is just trying to nourish and feed her child.

When you look back through the ages, it seems breastfeeding your child has always been something of a thing. Whether it was high society women preferring to use a wet nurse as it wasn’t socially acceptable to actually do it yourself, or skipping forward a generation or two later where it became all the rage in the Victorian era to have your picture taken breastfeeding your child: Victorian Breastfeeding Photographs to when formula was introduced and breastfeeding had dropped to a shocking 20% of women by the 1950’s, to its revival and advocacy not long after and so on and so forth.

Nowadays there is a constant social media battle of celebrities and regular moms defending their right to post a breastfeeding picture. Or defending their pictures of their bottle fed child. It’s amazing to me that every single one of the women in these links have experienced the same thing—backlash, criticism, horrifically hateful and disgusting comments and threats all because of their choice in how to feed their baby. Life and style magazine  bottle feeding shame and the worst part? That most of the comments are made by other women. 

What business is it of anyone’s but the mothers how she chooses/or has no choice as to how she feeds her child?

My question is — why does it matter so much? What business is it of anyone’s but the mothers how she chooses/or has no choice as to how she feeds her child? How on earth does it affect anyone but the mother and child? Why should a woman have to feed her child sequestered somewhere? Why should a woman bottle feeding her child have to listen to someone extol the virtues and benefits of breastfeeding?

I hate to break it to people— but your opinion isn’t needed. If you want to get upset about something think about all the babies around the world whose mothers are too malnourished to breastfeed and too poor to afford formula never mind a bottle.

The True Cost of Healthy Living

There are many studies out there weighing the true cost of healthy eating habits and for the most part I’ve seen that on-average it can cost approximately $1.50 more per day to eat healthier foods.

For many people, $1.50 is nothing, and for others is the world. Until you really begin to break down what it is you are purchasing.

I have long been the kind of person who typically eats and buys healthy. However, I was also the kind of person who could get tired, lazy and just plain not in the mood to cook and would not hesitate to go grocery shopping and then buy something convenient to quickly make for afterwards ( i.e. boxed nuggets, Kraft Dinner…)or grab some McDonald’s or pizza because I was too tired to cook after shopping.

When the average McDonald’s trip for two people is approximately $20, I find it appalling yet humorous now that I would not balk over this cost, but would refuse to pay $12 for 5 chicken breasts (that equaled to two separate dinners plus one lunch for my son and I). When I think about how crappy that meal always made me feel at the end of the day, I can’t believe I still made that choice over and over again. Now, I look at that $20 dollars and see how far it can actually stretch. That’s a bag of potatoes, a bag of carrots, a tray of mixed greens, an English cucumber, two peppers, two tomatoes and maybe some asparagus if it’s on sale. All items I can use the entire week long. For several different meals.

That $20 is also equal to a whole chicken, a package of ground turkey, and a package of frozen basa fillets. The base for at least five different meals there.

Since I have begun to turn over a new page when it comes to eating, I can honestly say that yes, buying fresh meat and produce does seem a little more expensive per item. HOWEVER. I am no longer buying 90% of the stuff through the middle aisles of the grocery store. Most days I can skip right over them. Do you have any idea how much money you save by choosing to no longer buy items such as Kraft Dinner, canned goods, granola bars, cookies, chips, juice boxes etc.? All things that have little to no nutritional value for yourself or your children? When you consider that you can get a large package of brown rice (that will last you for many, many meals) for the same price as two packages of Kraft dinner…it’s kind of mind boggling.

When you realize that the whole chicken you bought (usually for around $7-9) can make dinner for three, a salad topper, AND a large pot of homemade soup base… how much more valuable is knowing that you have put healthy things into your bellies. Things that you know exactly how they were prepared.

Now, I realize that there are families out there that are considerably larger than mine. With a considerably larger grocery bill and smaller budget. However, I urge you, whenever possible, to choose with healthy in mind. Natural. The only thing in our diets that dietitians say is completely unrestricted as to the amount of servings you can have each day is vegetables. Eat as many and as often as you can. Be smart about your purchases. Try going to the local farmers markets. Pay attention to the sales at all the different grocery stores. Stick to the outside aisles in the grocery store. Small changes will make a huge difference in how your body feels. The healthier you eat, the more energy you have, and the more prepared you can be in ensuring your meals are the right choices.

Friday Find – Friday, May 15th 2015

BookBub

Recommended By: Carli

Do you love to read? Are you one of those E-reader lovers who has a Kindle, Nook or other reading device? Because I recently discovered a fantastic spot called BookBub!

It’s free to sign up, and each day you are sent anywhere from three to seven books (mostly of notable authors but it’s always nice to discover new ones!) that are either free or $1.99. So far, I have downloaded four and have been super happy with each! It’s very easy AND what a great way to save some money on your summer reading…. Maybe you can find a good use for it elsewhere…like for new sandals or fudgesicles! 😉

You can find their website to sign up here.

 

Tried, Tested and True: Vaccines

reachWhen I was around five years old I came up with what I thought was a brilliant solution to my troubles. I had been sick, and had awakened feeling awful again. My mother was still sleeping.

I can specifically remember climbing up on the counter and reaching as high as I could to get to the amoxicillin I had been prescribed. I was a smart kid—I remembered exactly how my mother administered it, so I figured I could do it myself. Easy Peasy. I took my dose and climbed all the way back up to put it back.

I’m going to say it was approximately five minutes later, when I still wasn’t feeling any better was when I came up with my brilliant solution. I reasoned that if I took more I would feel much better. And the more I took, the faster I would feel better!

Fast forward to an empty bottle, my mother finding me in the nick of time and a lifelong disgust of charcoal. Oh—and an almost lifelong fear of oral medications.

So it’s a good thing my mother had gotten me my vaccinations, thus lowering my chances of being forced to deal with multiple disgusting medications for any number of diseases such as diphtheria, tetanus, pertussis, polio, measles, rubella, mumps and meningococcal disease (wasn’t so lucky with the chicken pox thing though).

180px-SalkatPittBecause I had learned the hard way at a young age that overdosing on medication can kill you I was from there on in a little leery of what I would take. I think I adopted the naturopathic or holistic mentality of not underestimating the body in its incredible ability to heal itself, or using products that I can make myself as naturally as they come (for example honey and red onion for bronchitis and the common cold) I typically only take pharmaceutical medications when I am feeling truly wretched- because I do truly understand that at the end of the day they were meant and designed to do me well.

So, while I had this innate distrust of medication (from my own doing!), for some reason, I never hesitated when it came to vaccinations. I didn’t poke at myself and wonder what they had injected into my body, I didn’t question or fear or listen to propaganda spouting all sorts of fear mongering. After all, I was healthy.

In fact – the vaccination was never intended for, and isn’t for the healthy – true enough they could get the measles and recover – it was actually intended for the vulnerable – who could die from the virus. Thus, by vaccinating everyone – they called it “herd vaccination” – which means that over 79% of the population get the vaccination –  the vulnerable would be protected.  The thinking was that the group got the vaccination to protect those most vulnerable from contracting the disease. In fact, by doing that, it further secured the overall health of everyone.  Once the vaccination drops under 79% – it no longer protects the majority.

polioMaybe I didn’t question these things because I was lucky enough to grow up in an environment where I hadn’t experienced the horror of watching people die all around you from preventable diseases. I hadn’t grown up in a time when people literally begged for what could have been a polio vaccination or a placebo, but didn’t care because they were so terrified of polio that they would have tried almost anything to be saved from it.

I feel like our generation has been so spoiled. We hear about outbreaks in other countries, and cry foul because those people don’t have access to proper care, water etc., but yet we mock our own systems designed to keep us safe. We have certainly had scares such as H1N1, but can we all just take a moment and be THANKFUL that we have medications and vaccines to prevent further spread! Let’s be grateful that we have never personally experienced the absolute fear that comes with wondering if you, your child, your partner, your mother, is going to contract something that could mean saying goodbye to the person you knew, because a disease is spreading so fiercely and quickly there’s little chance of containing it.

“The success of immunization programs depends on public confidence in their safety. Concerns about immunization safety often follow a pattern: some investigators suggest that a medical condition is an adverse effect of vaccination; a premature announcement is made of the alleged adverse effect; the initial study is not reproduced by other groups; and finally, it takes several years to regain public confidence in the vaccine.[1] The most recent and notable example of this pattern involved Andrew Wakefield‘s discredited claims that the MMR vaccine causes autism.

Public reaction to vaccine controversies has contributed to a significant increase in preventable diseases, including measles.[6](Wikipedia)

A significant increase in preventable diseases.

hospitalThink about that. Think about the chances you are taking. Think about how life was for people 70, 100, 200, 500 years ago. Now think about the quality of life you have been afforded in the last 70 or so years.

And please do read Jennifer Hibben-White’s Facebook post regarding anti-vaxxers if you are still unconvinced.

 

I wasn’t treating my husband fairly…

How would you describe your relationship with your significant other? I’ve always felt mine is pretty good. I mean really great on a lot of levels, and needs improvement on some—so it balances out right?

Well, my “Aha Moment” on my relationship happened when I stumbled across a blog from  MissFranJanSan that a friend had posted on his Facebook. As I sat there reading, I realized I was blushing, and by the time I’d finished I had tears in my eyes.

dishesMy “Aha Moment” prompted me to make a real effort to think before I speak (complain). It’s helped me to send myself quick reminders that instead of stomping around the house acting like I have to do everything, I can just easily ask for help—and that while it may not be done exactly the way I like it, that’s okay too. And I truly believe that by doing this my relationship will be that much more balanced.

Anyway—after reading this I decided that I just had to share, and as the author wrote this so beautifully I would just simply say—that I’m grateful for having read it, and will try to keep her words in mind. Hopefully this upcoming Valentine’s Day we can all give the gift of appreciation and praise.

Here’s an excerpt from the Blog:vwr7x-husband-600

I asked, “What’s this?”

“Hamburger meat,” he replied, slightly confused.

“You didn’t get the right kind,” I said.

“I didn’t?” He replied with his brow furrowed. ” Was there some other brand you wanted or something?”

“No. You’re missing the point, ” I said. “You got the 70/30. I always get at least the 80/20.”

He laughed. “Oh. That’s all? I thought I’d really messed up or something.”

That’s how it started. I launched into him. I berated him for not being smarter. Why would he not get the more healthy option? Did he even read the labels? Why can’t I trust him? Do I need to spell out every little thing for him in minute detail so he gets it right? Also, and the thing I was probably most offended by, why wasn’t he more observant? How could he not have noticed over the years what I always get? Does he not pay attention to anything I do?

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