Covid-19, Speaking from Experience, The World We Live In

Covid-19- We’re in this together

Welcome back blog readers,

Scientists and Medical Health Professionals/Experts that have studied and researched infectious diseases and viruses are sharing their advice and tips on how to protect ourselves and each other.

I’m taking advice from, the experts who are at the top of their field. Not social media, not religious groups and certainly not those who feel that this pandemic doesn’t apply to them. Covid-19 applies to all of us.

There is not a single country that is prepared for a pandemic that is a new strain that doesn’t have a cure or vaccine at this time. This virus is spreading rapidly, so fast that hospitals and testing facilities can’t meet the demand.

I have read several comments on social media, people are worried and concerned. I’d say that’s a healthy and normal reaction to this situation. Within reason of course. This is unknown territory for everyone.

There are not enough hospital beds, doctors, nurses, test kits, ventilators for every person. The testing facilities are backlogged and processing as many tests as quickly/accurately as they can. It’s not that your doctor or your local hospital doesn’t want to test you, they either don’t have the test available or perhaps they are screening those that ARE showing symptoms or those that know they have been in contact with someone that had tested positive. The tests may also be reserved for those working the front line to ensure the quality and safety of the patients they are caring for.

Yes, I understand, we all want peace of mind. Until adequate tests are made available, it’s best to assume that we are all carriers because there is no way to confirm every single person at this time.

That is why social distancing is so important. Assume everyone you encounter is infected, they are thinking the same about you; try not to take it personally. Do your best to stay at least 6 feet/3 meters away from them. Cough/sneeze into your elbow, or into a tissue and dispose of it properly, then wash your hands properly. Most importantly, STAY HOME.

While many businesses, schools, gatherings, events, and non-essential services are closed; the post office, grocery stores, and essential services are still open, for now. To ensure they remain open, we all need to eat and restock, it is essential that we all self-isolate and only go out when it is absolutely necessary.

I know, pandemics are such a drag, right. This one comes along and tries to ruin Spring Break and other really cool plans that we had booked months ago. All we want to do is enjoy life, spend time with our friends and have a good time. We don’t feel sick and we’re so bored being confined to our homes.

Here’s an idea! How about you watch the movies Outbreak and Contagion to visually grasp why you should STAY HOME!!!!!!!! While you’re at it, stop coming into the stores and coughing on produce for your own shits and giggles. Stop coming into the stores because you’re bored and want something to do. These stupid internet challenges have got to stop. Nobody is going to think that you’re cool because you’ve filmed yourself licking a toilet seat or threatened to cough on an elderly lady.

These are my thoughts and opinions, nothing more. I encourage you to think for yourself, do your own research and hope that you act with integrity.

As to no bombard social media with any more Covid-19 related posts, I will edit/update this one should I feel the need to vent about it in the future.

 

Customer Service, Educate Yourself, Health Care, Speaking from Experience, The World We Live In

How I’m surviving through Covid-19

Before I get into this post, I will preface by stating that at this moment (Saturday, March 21, 2020) I have not been tested or screened in any manner to confirm whether or not I actually have contracted this virus. Nor am I feeling ill to prompt me to seek testing.

Due to the fact that I work in retail/grocery, I am now considered an “Essential Worker” and my responsibility to show up as scheduled has not changed. If anything, I am picking up more shifts.

Our store, as I suspect with many businesses that are still open, are understaffed. That’s not a complaint, just the fact considering many parents can’t work while their kids are home. Some are home taking care of their family members that are at a higher risk due to their health concerns and some are probably home, self-isolating for their own concerns.

For me, my life hasn’t changed dramatically since last Thursday when the panic in my area (just outside of Ottawa) set in. I’m an introvert by nature, I go to work in town, I don’t leave the 2-mile radius often.

Am I concerned about contracting this virus? I’m realistic in assuming that it’s very likely that I will get it, but I feel that I’m healthy enough to recover from it. My husband works from home and we are stocked with enough food and OTC meds to get by should we have to self-quarantine.

The act of disinfecting the kitchen/bathroom counters, knobs, handles, and switches have been an additional chore that I have incorporated into my morning routine.

On social media, I’ve been encouraging the public to help us (retail workers) practice Social Distancing. Help Us Help You. We understand that you have to restock, you have errands to run, the kids are home and they’re getting cabin fever. This is not the time for a family outing to the store. Please allow ONE family member to do the shopping if you can help it.

Obviously, we are aware that some customers need assistance, some customers are single parents and have no choice but to bring their child(ren) into the store. We get it, no judgment, we are not policing the situation.

I had to clarify my statement when I suggested that one family member should do the shopping while leaving their family in the car. The comment was meant in the scenario that both parents or a responsible adult could remain in the vehicle with the child(ren). But people misinterpret and thought I was suggesting that a single parent leave their toddler in a car seat unattended in the parking lot… I didn’t think that I had to spell it out, but clearly, I do.

For the most part, residents in this area are practicing social distancing. I see others are not. Both parents and their 3 kids in the store running through the aisles, NOT social distancing. A group of teenagers wandering the store because it’s something to do, NOT social distancing. Four college bros shopping together, NOT social distancing. A resident that just came back from Florida, coughing claims they were “tested” at the airport, NOT social distancing or self quarantining for that matter.
Being screened at the airport (temperature is taken) is NOT the same as being tested for coronavirus.

Again, I get it. You’ve been away and just now returning home from abroad, you need food and to restock. Ask your community to help. Social media pages are set up in this area for that purpose. There are healthy people offering to assist with running errands and picking up groceries to drop them off at your door. Let them.

I know that social media is being flooded with all sorts of information, some helpful, some misleading and only creating more panic. Choose to get your information from the source, not some third party and certainly not through memes.

While I do have plenty to say, I will refrain. Lately, my opinions encourage others to treat me as their virtual punching bag.

I’ll leave you with this…
We are in this together, doing the best that we can. While most people will recover from Covid-19, many are at a huge disadvantage. If you have already started the self-isolation process, Thank You. If you have not because you feel it doesn’t apply to you, You are part of the problem. That last bit doesn’t apply to all of the essential workers that are being asked to put themselves at risk.
Stay calm and wash your hands 🙂

WHO:https://www.who.int/

CDC:https://www.cdc.gov/

#MenToo, #MeToo, Abuse comes in many forms, Educate Yourself, Speaking from Experience, Stigma/Taboo

Choose to be part of the solution

In this blog post, I would like to share my thoughts and opinions about something I read yesterday.

While on Facebook I came across a post on one of the (women entrepreneur) groups that I am a member of. Due to the controversial issue, the post was taken down just before I was able to leave a comment. Good on the admins/moderators for taking it down as it had nothing to do with the group; it was a means of getting people fired up and turning on each other.

The article was titled, “#notmetoo” and written by a female that shared her thoughts about the #metoo movement and how it has gone from raising awareness to being used to exploit people. I don’t have an issue with this opinion, as I tend to agree.

I feel that many people don’t really understand what the #metoo movement is all about, nor do they care enough to research the topic. The #metoo movement is about raising awareness, showing just how many people (not just women) that have endured sexual harassment and/or sexual assault. The movement created a platform for many of us (myself included) to know that we are not alone and to show our support to those that choose to come forward.

Is anyone forced into coming forward? No.
You don’t have to out yourself, nor do you have to share your experience.
There is no action for you to take unless you want to.

The author of the article thought that most women have experienced being sexually harassed, what’s the point of saying anything? It was her experience that when it happened to her at work, she said NO and she didn’t have to take any action. The word No was enough, so she didn’t feel like the #metoo movement applies to her.

The author mentioned that if women were stronger, more assertive and weren’t so scared, that they wouldn’t need the #metoo movement and encourages others like her to start a #notmetoo movement.

Here’s the problem I have with that logic. Speaking from my own experience, I was a child, my NO didn’t solve the problem. During my first job out of high school, my No didn’t solve the problem. Some victims are drugged, date raped, overpowered, ganged up on, restrained. Our No, assuming we could get it out was not respected.

Good for her and good for the rest of you that have never had a sexual act of violence forced upon you. Good for you that your No was respected. While you feel that the #metoo movement doesn’t apply to you, you don’t get to diminish the meaning behind it. By doing so, you are basically saying boo-hoo, suck it up, we all get harassed, deal with it.

Trust me, I have been dealing with it, dealing with it for 30+ years because there is no magic cure. I will never be 100%, none of us will ever fully recover.  During times of extreme stress or fear, we all react differently. We either Fight, Flight, Freeze or Fawn. How nice it must be to know how you would react to an act of sexual violence when you haven’t experienced it. Those of us that tend to Freeze or Fawn should not be mistaken for as weak.
Tell me, for those strong, assertive types, if you witness another person being sexually harassed/assaulted, would you help or would you look the other way thinking, suck it up!

The idea of starting a #notmetoo movement is absurd and hurts the rest of us that are trying to recover, looking for support, finally having the courage to speak up. Speaking up IS part of our recovery, so don’t joke about it, make light of the subject or diminish the significance.

The notion of a #notmeetoo movement is as ridiculous as straight people wanting their own “pride” parade. Be glad you don’t need one because your rights and mental health aren’t in danger. You are not the ones being silenced, or not believed when you finally do come forward.

In my opinion, those that are for the #notmetoo movement are part of the problem. Choose to be better, choose to be part of the solution. What do you have to lose?

Sexual harassment is not tolerated in the workplace and Sexual Assault is a CRIME, both of which are never okay.

 

 

 

 

 

Black Sheep, Family Matters, Speaking from Experience

2019, Year-End Review

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Welcome back blog readers,

With the holiday season in full swing (today is Christmas Eve), I know that many of us will be enjoying time with our families/friends while many others are excluded for various reasons.

If you are part of the Black Sheep, Scapegoat, Loner club (myself included), then this portion of the post is for you.

With so many toxic people living on this planet, it only stands to reason that some of them are our family members. While we can’t choose who our biological family is, we can choose who we consider family. Maybe you have a few very close friends, maybe you have a few awesome co-workers, maybe it’s just you and your dog. All of these are very good options if those you surround yourself with bring you joy and have your best interest in mind.

You are under no obligation to spend time with family that is toxic, if they are always negative, insulting, putting you down or make you feel uncomfortable in any way. I know it’s natural to crave the attention/affection from your family, but when they only cause you to stress, heartache, anxiety, and you’re walking on eggshells you’re just setting yourself up for another disappointing encounter. You don’t need that negativity.

Find your TRIBE, find other outcasts and misfits that can relate, but more importantly, want to be there for you and genuinely enjoy your company. If you haven’t found your tribe, that’s okay too.
If you don’t want to be alone for the holidays you can,
* Volunteer your time preparing/serving food at shelters, VFW, churches
* Spend time at a nursing home playing card games or Bingo
* Volunteer at an animal shelter, they need company and a meal too. Plus it’s a great way to destress. A good option if you have social anxiety and just don’t like people.

The point is, that there are so many people (homeless, veterans, elderly and animals) that are also just as lonely and don’t have a family. They would love the company/companionship for a few hours.

If you are going to attend a family holiday event and feel that you can’t participate in the gift-giving, that’s okay too. The gift-giving should really be just for the kids, in my opinion. Know that your presence is a present in itself. Don’t worry about the adults if they are the ones giving you grief, go and spend time with the kids. The kids are more likely to be in better spirits and less judgemental. Help them get their new toys out of the packages, help them put batteries in the noisemakers, play their new board game or console game because the other adults will be “too busy” to spend time with them. Kids won’t remember what they got for Christmas a few years from now, they will remember that you took the time to play with them, you were the cool adult.

Those of us that have endured trauma or suffer from PTSD/C-PTSD are more likely to also be “people pleasers” for the sake of keeping the peace. I can relate to that. You don’t have to say YES to everything. I know it’s hard to say NO, but for the sake of your sanity you must learn. You are allowed to set boundaries. You are allowed to be firm that when you say NO, you are respected and don’t cave in. It took me decades to be comfortable enough to say no and mean it. I’m better through text and email when I have more time to think about my response. Doing it in person is harder, but I have a few successes under my belt. Each one builds more confidence.
Those the get upset when you say NO (adults, not kids), they are NOT your friend or have your best interest in mind. Those are the ones you have to be firm with and not give an inch. Those that care about you will understand and might even acknowledge the fact that you are sticking up for yourself. It’s quite liberating when you say No and there is no confrontation, it’s just accepted for what it is. Gets you thinking why didn’t I do this sooner.

Anyway, whatever your situation is at this time of year I hope that you surround yourself with people that bring you joy. You are not alone! You don’t have to be alone, get out there and find your tribe!

Happy Holidays, wishing you all the very best in 2020!~Hannah

#MenToo, #MeToo, Crime/Punishment, Criminal Justice, Not the Popular Opinion, Sexual Abuse, Speaking from Experience, Stigma/Taboo, Victims of sexual abuse/sexual assualt

Coming Forward, Are you ready?

******* TRIGGER WARNING*******

This blog post will touch on topics of coming forward, speaking up and what that means as a survivor of sexual abuse/assault. While I won’t go into detail, the topic in itself may be triggering for many survivors. It is not my intention to trigger, only to inform. Continue reading at your own risk.

 

I’m feeling inspired this morning after I came across a social media post from a survivor seeking advice from those that have come forward about their abuse. This person is seriously considering coming forward, filing a report against her abuser and is looking for support.

My personal thoughts on this matter, I fully support her decision and know first hand just how difficult this is.

Could you imagine if all survivors took immediate action against their abuser(s)? A society where we could come forward, be believed, not have to relive our trauma over and over as we explain in full detail the vile acts that we were forced to endure. A society that wasn’t corrupt and the sexual predators weren’t protected but rather all given a minimum of 15 years in prison with no chance of early release, no special privileges. Imagine if that punishment was universal in every State, Province, and Country. The same sentencing should be imposed upon those who knowingly make false claims.  I do imagine this and I think the acts of sexual violence would decrease because of harsher punishments with no wiggle room to bribe down to a lesser sentence.

The reality is, that’s never going to happen. Greed and corruption exist, not all humans possess the qualities of integrity and accountability; sadly I don’t see things changing for the better anytime soon.

The best opportunity for a survivor to come forward is within 48 hours of the encounter. This small window of time is the only chance to retrieve any evidence that may be present/left behind. Having the courage to get yourself  (or get someone to drive you) to the local hospital is your best chance to ensure that your abuser(s) gets taken into custody.

Without evidence (physical, video, audio) a witness or another survivor that is willing to speak up, the odds of a survivor being taken seriously rapidly decrease. It’s now a matter of a “He said, She said” scenario and it becomes more difficult to prove/prosecute.

Coming forward is especially difficult if there is a Statute of Limitations that prevents survivors from reporting the crime against them after 7, 10, 15 years after it took place. It is frustrating when we process trauma differently and for many of us, our brain has protected us by hiding that trauma for 15+ years. We weren’t aware that a crime against us had been committed until it’s too late. Where’s the justice in that? There isn’t any!

Coming forward within the 48-hour window doesn’t ensure that the brave survivor is granted a “happily ever after” ending. Coming forward doesn’t just affect the life of the survivor, but in most cases affects the lives of those around them. That idea alone is enough for many of us to not come forward at all, especially when the abuser is a family member.

Does coming forward about the abuse you endured make you selfish? Absolutely NOT!

Does coming forward about the abuse you endured come across as “Seeking Attention”? Absolutely NOT!

Yet so many of us are made to believe the opposite is true. That’s because those that are making us feel that way are scared, afraid and don’t want to deal with the aftermath, the judgments, the whispers, the rumors and the hardships that will most definitely follow.

Should that guilt be enough for us survivors to stay quiet and keep our mouths shut? That is up to the survivor. I can’t answer that and speak for everyone.

I was told that there would be “consequences” should I choose to speak up and tell my “story”. I was 9 years and my mother who walked in on my last encounter with her boyfriend was in complete denial. She didn’t believe me even though she witnessed it happening. I knew that this moment was my opportunity to speak up and tell her everything. That wasn’t enough, she was still siding with “him”. I was told that if I was ready to deal with the “consequences” that she would drive me to the hospital and that I would have to endure some very uncomfortable tests and there would be questions that I had to answer truthfully.

I knew that I didn’t do anything wrong, I wasn’t the one lying to my mother about what she walked in on. I had no reason to be punished. I knew that if I couldn’t prove to my mother that I was telling the truth, the abuse would continue and her boyfriend might actually follow through with the death threats he made against my younger brother and mother. How could things get worse for me than they already were at that moment?

The testing and procedures performed at the hospital to collect the evidence took place, not one of my favorite moments. I still have a hard (emotional) time at every OBGYN appointment some 30+ years later. But I knew it had to be done, not just to prove my abuser wrong, but to help protect myself and my brother from possible harm. Also to ensure this bastard doesn’t hurt another little girl. I couldn’t live with that guilt, knowing that I could have done something and didn’t.

The consequences of coming forward appeared shortly after, while still at the hospital. Due to the nature of the crime, me being a minor and the doctors were convinced that my mother was not going to break off the relationship (they weren’t wrong); Child Services were called along with the local police detectives. Long story, short. My brother and I were placed in foster care that evening. What was supposed to be for the weekend, turned into a few weeks, that turned into a few more months. I entered the foster system at age 9 and never got out until I aged out of the system.

Sure, I pressed charges against my abuser and had my day in court. The evidence was tested and obviously came back as his, he was sentenced to 10 years in prison. A small victory for me. My younger brother was completely innocent, had never been abused, had no idea what was going on. He didn’t know what was happening or know why we couldn’t go home. I fought for him, pleaded that he should get to go home.

Being 9 years old and not fully understanding the whole picture.

We later learned that our mother was still visiting her boyfriend (my abuser) in prison. It was those secret visits that caused her to lose her parental rights. We were close to coming home (after 4.5 years). After the proof, after all that I endured and sacrificed to protect myself and my brother, this was how I was rewarded. This was my consequence and my brother was an innocent bystander.

Was Justice served? YES. I got to the hospital, evidence was collected and used to put my abuser away for 10 years. One less sexual predator out in public.

Was the outcome what I had hoped? Not in a million years. I can only be accountable for myself, and I did just that. I didn’t do anything to be ashamed of. Just ashamed to have a mother that didn’t believe me and kept putting my abuser before her kids.

My mother has failed me on several occasions, but that’s a story for another day. The best thing she did was to allow me to make my own choice and drive me to the hospital that morning.

While the situations are similar, there are many variables to consider if you are thinking about coming forward/speaking up about the abuse you endured. As much as I love the idea of all survivors coming forward, I know that many can’t, some aren’t aware that they should. All of which is okay, just know that I support your choice.

For anyone considering coming forward:

  • Do so when you are ready, not because you are feeling pressured.
  • Be prepared to relive your trauma and share your story several times to several people. It’s mentally exhausting.
  • Without evidence or witnesses, filing a police report is still helpful. Should another survivor report the same abuser, that might be enough to prosecute.
  • Most importantly, Know that you didn’t do anything to deserve this. The abuse you endured was not your fault in any way.
  • Start your healing process when you are ready, not because the court mandates it. When YOU are ready.
  • You are not alone. There are many support groups that you can join, even online to help you process what you’re feeling. There is no shame in seeking support. Nobody understands better than someone who’s been through it.
  • For the Parents of a child that comes forward- bring them to the hospital- be supportive no matter the outcome- Protecting your child comes FIRST- Be the adult they need you to be, hold the abusers accountable, no matter who it turns out to be.

Coming forward and reporting the abuse that you endured isn’t easy on so many levels. The courage and bravery required to speak up doesn’t come easy. When you finally do, it’s possible that your claims aren’t taken seriously or they are dismissed as a misunderstanding, especially without proof/evidence. Even with proof and there is no shadow of a doubt, the aftermath is unpredictable. One thing is for sure, you won’t get a Thank You and your efforts won’t get recognized, because it’s not seen as heroic when it most certainly is.

If the TV and Movies have taught us one thing, it’s that in this world, there are Heroes and Criminals/Villians. Heroes help to put the Criminals away, Heroes protect the innocent. This seems to be an acceptable norm, except when it comes to sexual abuse. Sexual Predators are often disguised, hiding in plain sight right under our noses, posing as heroes. Sexual Predators have infiltrated many positions of power and they use that position of power as a means of protection. Now, these Criminals are able to protect other criminals and the Heroes are the ones that suffer.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Citizenship, Immigrants, Immigration Process, Permanent Resident, Speaking from Experience

On the path to Citizenship

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Welcome Back Blog Readers,

I know that it’s been a while since my last post. Life happens, being an adult means doing things like working to pay the bills and remembering when the important identification cards are about to expire.

That’s what I’ve been dealing with lately. By dealing with, I mean acknowledging that these are tasks that I will focus on, at some point very soon. Just not today.

My Drivers License, Health Card, and Permanent Resident Card all expire in 2020. Naturally, they all require a new updated picture so I can’t renew them online.

One task that I do need to focus on is reading through the Discover Canada study guide and finish filling out the application to start the process of becoming a dual citizen. Since the application time for Citizenship is unknown, I will have to renew my PR card and pay the $50 fee just to be on the safe side. I do have until April 2020 before my PR card expires, but I don’t want to take the chance of having my Citizenship application/test/interview/Oath run longer than that. It’s not worth the risk of having my PR card expire when it’s something I have to hand in during the process.

For those of you that don’t know, a Canadian Permanent Resident card has to be renewed every 5 years. I’ve already renewed it once back in 2014 and being the procrastinator that I am, I thought that I would have already become a Canadian Citizen before having to renew my PR card a second time. Like I said before, Life happens.

What will becoming a Canadian citizen mean for me?

I won’t have to fill out applications or renew a PR card ever again, yay.  Once I get a Canadian Passport, I won’t have to renew my US passport, yay.  I will have all of the same rights as a natural-born citizen, included the chance to vote and serve on a jury (something I can’t do up here). Becoming a Canadian citizen doesn’t automatically mean I’m no longer a US citizen. That’s where the DUAL part comes in.

I can hold both passports (but most likely won’t). I will be able to vote for both US and Canadian elections. I will be able to apply for any benefits that I am eligible for when that time comes. I will still have to file a ZERO return for the USA as well as the Federal/Provincial taxes in Canada every year.  Sadly, filing a US Zero return is required even though I left the US in 2009. It doesn’t mean that I owe, nor do I get a refund. It’s a 1040EZ and another form that basically states that I made nothing for the US to tax me on and I owe nothing. The only way to get out of that is to renounce my US citizenship and pay a hefty fee. No thanks, I’ll pass on that option.

Anyway, that is the news for now.

If anyone has any questions about the US to Canada immigration process, I’m happy to answer and provide links to help you learn more.

One last tidbit before signing off….

For those of you going through the process, DOCUMENT all visits outside of the country. Keep a journal and log each trip, the dates, where you went. Same with all of your addresses going back 5 years and where you worked/studied. this information will be super handy when it comes time to renew your PR card or apply for citizenship later on.