In Memory of Shawn 

I lost a dear friend to suicide in 2016.   He was married to my best friend and the father to five amazing children and adoptive father to a truly gentle soul.

Shawn was not an easy person to know.   Years of a troubled childhood had made Shawn prickly and closed.  He allowed very few people to get close to him, and I was lucky enough to only see the gentleman he could be. He was a big brother, a protective man who always looked out for me.

Over the years, there were subtle changes in his behaviours. Or rather, as I saw him infrequently and he could easily hide these changes from me, they appeared subtle.  He became sullen and closed, his temper volatile and unpredictable. The family he adored was no longer a treasure but a burden he could not handle.

When Shawn walked away from his family,  he was angry and resented the life he felt had trapped him.   The details in the months away are sketchy; a few accounts from those around him paint a wildly partying life, full of travels.   During this period, he attempted suicide at least twice and was eventually located by police to be admitted to an Albertan mental health facility for observation and assessment.

After just over a month, he was released in early January.   And promptly disappeared.   The remaining weeks of his life were a mystery to his family until after his body was discovered in April.   From there, they discovered how he had been living at a childhood friend’s home since his release, having no support from the health industry due to “just missing” a diagnosis of bi-polar disorder.  There were other mental health concerns but inconclusive diagnoses did not support further treatment.   Shawn was ready for help but nothing was available within the provincial health care system.

Suicide follows the surviving family.  It becomes the unspoken topic when you are with friends, the whispered conversations of neighbours. The spouse and children feel as they are under constant scrutiny and every movement is being questioned, studied and judged against the deceased’s actions.   As my best friend says, “It is the White Elephant we cannot escape.”

Mental health issues are becoming more widely spoken of, yet they are still not supported and treated with the same seriousness as physical maladies.   Lack of understanding and stigma within the general populace, insufficient funding and structure from government agencies, and stretched front line workers add up to a vacuum of support for affected citizens.

It’s time to get beyond the stigmas, silences and sideways glances.

Whispers don’t save lives.  Speak up and OUT LOUD.

Reach out.

#mentalhealth

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Need help for you or a loved one?

Centre for Suicide Prevention   https://www.suicideinfo.ca/resources/

Canadian Mental Health Association  http://www.cmha.ca/

Alberta Health Services http://www.albertahealthservices.ca/amh/amh.aspx

British Columbia Mental Health http://www.bcmhsus.ca/

 

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Additional reading: Alberta suicide rates remain high despite ‘encouraging’ 20% drop – (from CBC.ca Dec. 14, 2016)

 

Happy 75th Birthday to my Dad

My father turns 75 today.

Born in a blacked-out Vancouver two days after the bombing of Pearl Harbour, he was the first child of Bill and Edna Pratt.   My grandparents had moved to the coast for different opportunities and a new life away from the extreme conditions of the Alberta and Saskatchewan prairie where they’d been raised.
The lustre of the big city didn’t take long to dim and they soon moved back to Esther, Alberta to complete their family with Marjorie, Wilf, Anne, Dale, Shelley and Gayle.

I have so many stories to share of my dad, and so many things I have learned.   We have not always had the easiest relationship – my stubbornness rivals his, and as he’s always encouraged us to learn and read as much as we can, debates and arguments could be well-informed and quite heated as neither of us would back down from our positions.

In spite of himself, he raised me to be a feminist – I constantly challenged the gender stereotypes from his generation and clamoured to learn how to drive tractor, shoot gophers and be taught the same things as my older brother.   When he wouldn’t teach me within the timeline I demanded, I learned on my own.   As I got older, there were certain things he insisted I master – knowing my vehicle’s motor as a prime example (oil and tire changes, even taking out an axle once) – so I would not be disadvantaged in the marketplace nor rely on others to look after me.

My dad has always been one of my strongest cheerleaders and has told me I could “take on the world with a bucket of water and win”.

I’ve heard from his siblings what a great brother he has been, offering counsel and advice  and as a fantastic uncle to their children.

I wish I could be there to help celebrate your birthday today.  You’ve been a great dad and an amazing grandfather.

Thank you Dad!

A Moment of Silence

Remembrance Day is a time to reflect on our past and current conflicts.  We honour the countless soldiers, humanitarians and citizens who have served and continue to serve in the name of freedom and safety.     Their sacrifices in the pursuit of hope and peace should be cherished and never forgotten.

Please take a moment to reflect today, and every day.

#NeverForget

mfielding-poem

Poem written by Michelle Fielding, November 2013

The picture inserted is a poem written by my youngest daughter in 2013 for Remembrance Day.

Bring on the Sparkle

I have some HUGE news on a couple of fronts!  I am very excited to share it with you. One of my friends always tells me I don’t share my “sparkle” enough, so you’re in for a healthy dose this morning! 

  1. I’ll be presenting at PowHERtalks this Sunday October 2nd in Calgary.  I’m honoured to be the “closer”, the last speaker on the program.   The topic of my PowHERtalk is “Taking the Ick out of Politics”. I want to change the Political landscape in Canada by encouraging  more women to run for elected office and to follow my own vision of a more collaborative Canada at the highest levels of government. You can find more information at: PowHERtalks Calgary .  There are a limited amount of tickets still available of you’re free this Sunday!   Videos of the Calgary PowHERtalks will be available in a few weeks if you can’t make it this weekend.  I’ll share the transcript of my PowHERtalk after Sunday. 
  2. I am thrilled to announce I’ve received my license as a REALTOR(r) in BC!    I am working with the tremendous team of Royal LePage Sussex, based out of the Sechelt office.   It’s been an exciting and challenging time as I’ve worked through the course and exam.     And here I am!  

Thrilling times ahead, and this is only a piece of what’s going on.  Can’t wait to see what sparkles next.  😉 

All the best,

Lori 

Consent Awareness 

Raising awareness about consent. Red light, green light at U of Calgary.

CBC’s Coverage of University of Calgary’s Consent Awareness Campaign

Wow.
I’m happy a university took it upon themselves to hold an event of this scale to bring awareness to the definitions of two of the shortest words in the English language, the concepts of which are pretty definite.

If you detect a small amount of sarcasm,
I am saddened that IN 2016, we have to teach how NOT TO GET RAPED.

How NO means NO. Not maybe. Not later.

That CONSENT means the object of your amorous advances says YES and AGREES to allow you to touch them.

Do you want to go skydiving? No. Then I won’t drag you on to the plane, strap a parachute on you (or not) and throw you out.

Do you want to have tea? Yes. But I only want a bit, and I like it plain.

Would you like this sandwich? Yes.   Wait,  I’m not comfortable having  more than this half.  Stop trying to feed me more!

Consent means agreement to do something.  If the person changes their mind, consent is no longer valid.

It it crucial to educate what consent  IS in an era when misogynistic judges reward convicted rapists with paltry sentences so as to not “ruin their futures”.  There is little justice for perpetrators and even less reporting due to shame and fear of repercussions for victims.

It’s great to see initiatives like U of C’s to bring awareness to this issue, especially on a large scale, collaborative manner and involving new students.

But my heart still hurts and worries for my daughters’ safety in today’s world.

Are you an #EveryDayAllStar?

“Every child deserves a champion, an adult who will never give up on them, who understands the power of connection and insists they become the best they can possibly be” – Rita Pierson, from TED Education 2013
Ms. Pierson’s TED talk is geared for educators, but it’s applicable to all adults.  Every child needs a champion, a person who is their hero, everyday.
My daughter Carly has spent her summer working with Big Brothers Big Sisters of Calgary and Area. Their campaign #EveryDayAllStar is focused on raising funds to support mentorship for children in need in the Calgary area. The power of connection is crucial for children to survive and thrive, and cannot always be found within their families.
Check out what they’re doing.  Donate if you can, or volunteer.   Not in the Calgary Area?   Find a Big Brothers Big Sisters organization in your community.   So many children need a safe adult they can connect with and help them to be their best.
Here’s a fun video to start your weekend  featuring the team from Big Brothers Big Sisters about their summer campaign.  (yes, there’s a cameo appearance of my girl)