Big Brother 15: Is This Reality?


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So far this season, we are only in week two, there has been racist remarks made behind contestant’s backs, homophobic remarks, and now we have photographic and video evidence of the new HOH cheating.

What kind of message is CBS sending to America? That it is okay to make Paula Deen like statements as long as it is not to the intended target’s face? That cheating is okay as long as the cameras on the TV don’t catch it and they edit it out in the live feed?

When Canada’s Big Brother show had a cheating scandal they did the right thing and redid the HOH and punished the cheaters. Why is America not doing the same thing? Does America condone cheating or does CBS?

I am very disappointed that nothing inside the game has been done to respond and remove the racism, the cheating and the generally sexist bullying that has gone on this season. CBS and Allison Grodner the producer of Big Brother, have a responsibility to the people watching to not cast people like this. They have released a pretty lame statement that basically says and I am paraphrasing here “Hey not our fault we just run the cameras, but we don’t agree with it”. Well guess what CBS, yes by allowing these people like Aaryn Gries, GinaMarie Zimmerman and Spencer Clawson to speak racist hateful language on your live feed and to edit out of your TV show, you in fact are agreeing with and supporting what they say. By allowing Aaryn to take control of the house through cheating you are also saying you condone it and changing the dynamic of the game forever.

You as the network CBS, are not setting a good example of how to behave and you are condoning and in a sick way encouraging their behaviour. Unless you stand up and say “Cheating is not allowed” and give the HOH to the non-cheating team or redo the competition you are setting a new precedent. If you set this precedent everyone that comes after in this house will think that bullying and cheating and being a racist moron is a good thing, and that is going to make your show die. No one wants to watch bad people win, and no one is going to want to watch a whole season of cheaters and racists if this keeps up.

Right now there is a trial going on, where a man shot a young black man point blank in the chest. Who is on trial? Not the man who got out of his car with a gun and stalked and shot that poor unarmed 17 year old boy. No, the one on trial is the dead young man, whose only crime that night was being the wrong colour in the wrong neighborhood.

The racism that CBS is promoting is what can lead to a man with no provocation, other than his own racial bias, to shoot an unarmed teenager and think it is okay. If this had been a black man and a white or even Latino teenager, he’d be on death row right now and not on trial. If we don’t stand up then we are condoning it. You could ask Trayvon Martin how he feels about the racism allowed this season, but he is dead.

CBS do the right thing.

False Friends : why are we friends with people who we don’t like?

So this terrible tragedy that happened in Boston has resulted in me personally finding bigots among my friends on social media. For people that I have never met in real life this translates into me unfollowing or unfriending them and that is that. But what happens when it someone you know outside of SM, what happens when it is an actual friend?

I realized as I tried to educate my friend who was reporting Fox news as fact, that my tolerance for having morons in my life was wearing thin. When she suggested that my saying, that while these men needed to be punished for what they did no question, finding out why they did it in order to either stop or figure out how to stop it from happing again was also important, was a leftist comment, I knew I was dealing with a lost cause. Bring left  or right politics into a discussion about the deaths of people and  I felt it demeaned the issue completely. After a few more insults from her, and not very bright or well thought out ones, she at one point said puhleeze…I realized that after knowing her for well over 10 years, our friendship was at an end. The truth was this had not been the first conversation we had had along these lines and she was becoming increasingly bitter, angry and bigoted with each of them. So why was I still friends with her? I had not seen her in over 7 years, and I had pointedly not done so. She was very dim, I had met her in  an acting class and although I have met a ton of intelligent and well read strippers in my life, she was not one of them. She was also mean spirited, she was quite mean to a guy in our class who really liked her, and used him openly for stuff, mocking him behind his back for doing nice things for her. She was willfully ignorant and once asked while we watched the Oscars, fully serious “How did they get Mickey Mouse on the stage with that actor” my other friends marvelled in awe at her ridiculous question…I actually explained it to her. See I felt sorry for her, because of all of these things. She wasn’t too bright, I can educate her, she was mean, maybe if I show her how to be nice she will change, she seems to make bigoted statements, I can show her the way to be better. What ego is it that drives us to try and improve people, well whatever it is I had it in spades. Eventually I gave up on her and got married and never saw her. Anytime she wanted to hang out, I’d make an excuse for being sick or tired or whatever until I changed my number and she went out of my life. She stalked me on Facebook until I accepted her friend request, I didn’t want to accept it, right from the beginning, so what made me accept it…guilt.

I was guilty in not wanting her friendship, even though her friendship was me giving and her taking and giving nothing back. She would tell me about her woes with men, all woes she had manufactured, who dates her married landlord and then wonders why his wife wrote whore on her door? She would beg me to give her advice on how to live her life, and I would tell her what I thought, I would spend hours on the phone with her, only at the end to hear, yeah well he is really good in bed, so I am going to see him again, maybe he’ll change.

Trust me when I tell you, it is better to feel a moment of guilt over rejecting the friend request of someone you don’t actually like, than the hours wasted you will spend dealing with them once they are back in your life. I hit the unfriend button and now I feel free.

Racism Alive and Well on the Internet

I am doing a lot of rather unpleasant research on the internet into a subject that leaves a very bad taste in my mouth. Racism, it is for the current book I am working on and it is very hard to stomach on the best of days.

The phrase I am most coming across is “I’m not a racist, I just prefer my own kind”.

It is that sort of ignorance to what racism is, that scares me the most. These are not angry, violent redneck hicks, that we see in the movies, so easy to pick out by their confederate flag t-shirts and gun racks. No these are normal, kind to strangers every day Americans, who don’t see what is wrong with only wanting to live near whites. These are far more dangerous racists than the KKK. These are the racists that allow groups like the KKK and the various off-shoots to continue to grow and prosper in small town America. These are the same people who think all crime is perpetrated by people of colour, and living in an all-white town, of which there are many in the South, is keeping them and their families “safe”.

How is this even possible that this doesn’t register as racist to them. I will tell you why, because no one calls them on it, no one says yes if you blame a certain minority for all bad things and don’t want them living next you, in any form…you are a racist!

If you see a black person and automatically pull your purse in or walk across the street…you are a racist.

If you assume that the black kid did it and not the white one…you are a racist.

If you go to live in a town because it has only white people living in it…you are most definitely a racist.

We need to stop pretending we live in a post-racial society, because all that does is sweep the real racism going on under the rug.

Gambling is an Addiction: My House Never Won.


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Toronto, Ontario is on the verge of a very important decision which will affect the future of our city, of its residents and of its health.


Toronto is considering a casino to be put downtown on the waterfront. This worries me for so many reasons and the biggest one of all is for the many families that will suffer if a casino is built.


I lived with a gambler, his eyes would light up whenever he thought of horse racing, because that was his poison. My Father didn’t drink, he didn’t do drugs, he gambled. He would spend hours looking at racing forms. He would spend hours at the track, often taking me with him. A typical day with my Father would be spent racing around a track full of strange men, with no supervision, because my Dad was busy losing all our money, a fact I was not aware of because I was 4 years old.


What I was aware of was the violent fights, the lack of food, the sudden need to move from a comfy two floor condo with my own playroom, to a slummy 1 bedroom apartment with inadequate heat, which we had to keep the oven door open in the winter and sit around the open oven door to keep from freezing.


My Mom did the best she could, but he would go into her wallet and take whatever was there, even if it was all we had for food for the week. Later on he would just steal her bank card or make her sign her whole paycheck over to him under threat of violence. I remember my poor Mother having to call her Mom in tears to beg for help with the rent or food. I remember my Mom and me hiding in the kitchen and my Dad riffling through her purse for money she had denied him for the track. When I told her he was in her purse, he took me into my bedroom and beat me for it, while she cowered in the kitchen. She never denied him money again.


Later on in life he would let go of the track, because he found something much easier and that was lotto tickets. He spent about $100.00 a week on lottery tickets, and woe to whoever forgot to get them for him, even though in 24 years of solid play (you do the math) he only won $4000.00 once, which he promptly spent on more lottery tickets and a big screen TV we didn’t need. At that time we were living in a better apartment, but my Mom still struggled to pay bills and hid money more effectively.


Is this the life we want for the children of this city, is this the revenue that this city needs? Broken homes, abuse, lies, more homeless and more substance abuse problems. That is what a casino will truly bring to this city. The only one who wins in this deal will be the owners of the casino, not the city, not the families and definitely not the children. There is a reason that when you think of the word casino, it is usually followed by the expression “The House Always Wins” just not my house.


Triggers: They Come Out of the Blue Sometimes


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This morning my husband and I were doing the very simple and smart task of budgeting out our food costs and home costs for the next month. We are on a one income budget right now, as I have not yet secured new employment, and to tell the truth am not really looking. We were going through the figures, allotting certain amounts for pantry, proteins and other foodstuffs, when the idea of going to the store and buying these items, became to me the scariest and hardest thing ever.

I was crying and tense and the idea of being responsible for all of this was just too much to handle. Here is the thing…last week we had been so broke I was coming up with new and inventive ways to use bread dough and using the very dregs of the fridge, but no freak outs, nothing. This week we have more than enough money to easily purchase everything we need and I am terrified to shop.

I won’t get into the details of how I reacted and how upset and frightened my poor husband was, but he as always, being the rock that he is for me, talked me through it and it stopped. Then I called my Mom. I had the sneaking suspicion that this was related to the Saturday afternoon shopping trips that I had to endure with my parents as I was growing up. I was right, my Mom recounted for me countless instances of my either enduring or witnessing violence related to the way my Father would react. Once he beat my Mom for buying the wrong food (according to him) and then threw it all out and made us eat bad food as punishment, while he dined out every night and when I was a kid he would take me shopping and then when we would get to the cash, he would refuse to buy me the clothes, instead spending the money on himself. They basically ranged from violent reactions, to psychological games, you get the picture.  I think the idea of making a mistake or spending too much money and blowing the budget, triggered these feelings of fear and of not being good enough to do it right.

Of course I ended up shopping and doing a fine job of it as my husband knew I would, and as I knew I would. I am the bomb at bargain shopping and have gotten us through a week of dinners with less than $20.00, but for some reason this morning that didn’t matter and my body was trying so hard to protect me from the memories, that I still don’t fully remember, that it sent me into a panic attack and I lost control of my own body. Memories may be powerful, but the brain’s ability to block those bad memories at all costs can sometimes be much more powerful.

I don’t really have anything else to say on it, but if anyone would like to share any triggers moments that they have encountered and how they dealt with it or how they figured out the cause, please do so in the comments section below.

A Childhood Lost – the rescue that never came.


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I grew up in a warzone, bullets never flashed by my head, bombs didn’t go off in my neighborhood but punches flew and hurtful and damaging psychological games were played. Everyday growing up was an uncertainty…would he be in a bad mood…did I forget to do something that would give him an excuse to hurt me…would I survive the night.

Two people knew about what he did to me, his other victim, My Mother and the one person who I had trusted with the truth about what was happening to me. My maternal Grandmother. When I was about 10 and had already attempted suicide more than once, I told her in my child’s way, that my father was “really mean” to me and my Mom. I never got a chance to finish and fully tell her what was happening because of the way she reacted. She slapped me and told me to never tell lies like that again or she would tell my Father what I said about him. You can imagine how that made me feel. That was the moment I became a survivor and realized that in this life, you can only count on yourself and no one was there to help you. Pretty hard truth for an abused 10 year old to realize.

After writing my blog post about my constant battle with Depression, my Mom who appreciated my honestly felt the need to clarify why my Grandmother reacted that way and never did anything to help me. She feels that the reason I am so broken inside and have so many issues with trust is because of that moment, because when I reached out for love, I got slapped, when I called out in pain for help, I was betrayed. I don’t know if I would say it was the main reason, getting thrown into a mirror by your Father at age 5 for walking across the bed while he was sleeping, or being pulled into the house and beaten at age 8 for cutting the milk bag wrong may have had a little more to do with it…but it didn’t help.

My Mother was working and bringing in the only paycheck that kept us in a home, food and paid the bills. She was raped, beaten and mentally abused every day of her life from the age of 21 to 45. She was living in as much of a war zone as I was and although sometimes we were allies, sometimes it was easier to deflect his anger onto someone else. Unfortunately that was usually me, so I found myself battling alone and sometimes even defending myself from allied attacks. I was sullen, rage filled and as I became a teenager and took up the teen pastime of reading about serial killers and listening to dark angry music, my Mom became afraid of me as well, not that I was ever violent to her, just the opposite. Many a time I took a punch for her, I jumped in front of her, or I deflected a beating onto myself for her as I became a teen and grew less afraid of my Father and more angry and betrayed by his behaviour towards his own family. I never got into a fight at school, I was quiet, I stayed to myself and I cried a lot and dreamed of a better life, a life without pain and suffering every day. A life without eggshells.

I have largely forgiven my Mother for her silence and I was under the impression that my Grandmother truly didn’t believe me, until my Father was taken away in handcuffs one April night when I was 21 never to be seen again, with the exception of the trial that put him in jail for a measly 2 months. I had been in jail for 21 years as his daughter, punching bag and scapegoat. It seemed very anti-climactic, but we had escaped and we had survived. My Grandfather was still alive when we finally got away and at that time was dying of cancer which would finally take the only decent father figure away from me 3 months later.

His passing was so hard for me. I was more like him than anyone in my family, we both hated being at stranger’s homes, we both went for long solitary walks and when I visited we went together, never talking just walking and enjoying the silence. We both had a wry sense of humour and both loved to spend hours reading about history, his was WWII which he had fought in and me everything before that time. I remember he never got angry, he never raised his voice to his children or anyone for that matter, he was the way a loving patriarch should be. My Grandmother on the other hand was always cold and distant with me, she never had a kind word for me and always seemed to not like me.

 I never understood why, until yesterday when my Mom told me why my Grandmother never told anyone about me being abused and in fact went so far as to keep it a secret. My Grandfather had been so abused by his Stepfather from age 1-8 when his Aunt had come to get him and took him to live with her, when she bathed him for the first time and held him (he had never had love or been held until then) there wasn’t a dime’s worth of space on his little body that hadn’t been beaten and bruised. My heart breaks for that little boy, but where was my rescue, where was my Aunt Lil?

According to my Grandmother, my Grandfather wrote to her in the war (they were pen pals before they met during the war when he was stationed at the front and she was a WAC) that he was going to come home and kill his Stepfather, I guess war does that to you, makes you capable of thinking things you never would if you hadn’t taken life, even enemy life. He was serious, and I believe he would have done it, had he not come back and found the man had died while he was overseas. So there is the reason, my Grandmother was terrified that I would tell my Grandfather and he would just get in his car and drive to my house and kill my Father. She was so scared of his reaction, because of his letter to her in the war, that she left me to live in fear and terror of a man who was supposed to protect me. My Grandfather very well may have reacted in a different way and just rescued us, made a woman who was threatened with death if she even made a move to go, feel safe, gave a frightened child the love and safety that she was so desperate for from a man she could trust.

We’ll never know what could have happened, because that choice was made. Now of course it all becomes clear, my Grandmother never hated me, she was scared of me, she felt extreme guilt at what she had done and she was really worried that every time Grandpa and I would go for a walk that I would tell him. What she doesn’t know and I will never tell her, is that the day she called me a liar is the day I stopped talking about it to anyone. I never uttered a word of it till the day both my Mom and I finally escaped. I know I should be angry and horrified at learning this about my Grandmother, but I have no more anger left. How can I be angry at a woman who was protecting her husband from his own past? I  may have had no one to help me but I not only survived my Father, I was instrumental in having him put away and helping my Mom escape from him, but that is another story for another day.

I Have the Kind of Illness You Can’t See


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When I was a child I thought about killing myself, a lot. I would scrape knives across my skin and wish I had the courage to end it, yes I said courage. I hated myself, my life, my abusive father and my weak mother, I hated the world and everything in it and I just wanted to retreat to a dream world where I could fly and I was powerful.

When I was in my teens I started to get sick a lot, and miss a lot of school. I didn’t fit in, I hated my boring and vapid peers. I read a lot, I never dated and I started modelling and making money so who needed an education anyway. I was up and down and sometimes I wouldn’t leave my room for a week solid other than to go to the bathroom and to get food from the kitchen. I had a few friends, but no real close relationships, I spent most of my waking time alone and most of it trying to sleep deep in a world of my making.

When I was in my 20’s I had three major addictions…first one was when I started making money as a model…shopping…I could spend 5000.00 in under 10 minutes and didn’t see anything wrong with it. The men I were dating had no problem with me buying them expensive things and spending money to look good. I wasn’t paying my rent and my utilities got cut off more times that I can remember but hey I had 400.00 Guess jeans so there. Second was love…not sex…love…I needed to be loved and adored but mostly I needed that high you get when you are first falling in love…but I needed it all the time. Once it faded I would dump the poor guy who last week I had made brownies for and served them naked and move on to the next poor guy who thought he had just landed his dream woman…until the feeling faded usually in about 2 weeks and I became their worst nightmare. Finally I found cocaine, and that became until I met my husband…and a little beyond, my lover, my best friend, confidante and how I hit bottom.

Cocaine at first let me keep my highs and kept me from feeling those painful lows. I never felt anything but happy and secure and that was for the first few years of my addiction, and trust me the second it hit my brain it was my addiction. I worked to get it, I went out to get it, I got dressed to get it. Then eventually I realized it controlled me, and when you are only going to work so you can meet your dealer…and he tells you to slow down, you know you have a problem.

I was doing all of this because I knew that just around the corner was that ugly beast that had haunted me from childhood, that black all-consuming monster that hid under my bed and made me sleep for pretty much age 15-17 for 16 hours a day. Depression, it is such an innocuous sounding word but it can make your whole life fall apart. I have been fired from pretty much every office job I have ever had, because of my depression, because when you wake up and you just want to roll back over and go to sleep or not get dressed or shower…or you know that you need some time to catch your breath and just be by yourself…you can’t call that in. Do you know what would happen if I call in depressed instead of sick? I don’t because I never tried to. The only time my depression was ever dealt with through my job, they sent me to a therapist that put me on a drug that mimicked cocaine and I found myself 2 months sober, picking up the drug and losing my job a few months later.

Having depression is not any less serious than being BI-polar or schizophrenic, but I will tell you when you tell someone you are BI-polar they understand you have a serious mental illness, but when you say you have depression, they tell you to ‘Cheer up’ ‘we are here for you’ ‘you have people who care for you’ and think that knowing that will make it all better. Well guess what, it doesn’t…in fact it makes it worse, because now you feel guilty for not “feeling better” for not “cheering up”. I am blessed in that I have a husband that understands that sometimes, I am just sad, sometimes I can’t cheer up and sometimes I don’t care who is there for me. I am not on medication, I don’t find they work for me at all, I am not in therapy…I have never found a therapist that I can relate to or feel is actually listening to me, but one and she was a fertility specialist and couldn’t really help me. A part of me has accepted my illness as a part of me, I don’t think about suicide anymore, and I have a wonderful life, but my battle with fertility was very hard to go through and led to more and more depressions and I still have days where I don’t want to leave the house, who am I kidding weeks…but I have found ways to be productive in my home and to recognize the signs of what is happening to me and find ways to combat the symptoms on my own. I wouldn’t recommend that to anyone so I am very grateful that we have this day to talk about our illnesses and to come together to say we may not be alone, but we still need to be acknowledged and listened to. We are not lazy, we are not using it as an excuse not to work, and we are not milking it for attention…we are ill and we are just trying to get better.

I guess what I am trying to say is mental health is the kind of illness you can’t see, so the next time someone you know isn’t “sick” calls in sick, maybe ask yourself, could they in fact truly be ill.

A Year in Review: From the Worst Pain Comes the Most Growth

A year ago today was going to be a very happy day, although four days before I was fired from my job at 13 weeks pregnant, a pregnancy I never thought would come, a conception that happened on my 39th birthday.

I had woken up on the Friday with bad stomach pains and feeling very dizzy and so I decided to stay home, at around 3pm I received an extremely nasty email from my office manager basically calling me a burden on the company because of my pregnancy and saying that they would have to change my hours if I was going to be so sick in the mornings…imagine that morning sickness in the morning.

Needless to say I was devastated to be so treated when I had just watched one of the lawyers be treated with kid gloves the entire time she was pregnant including not coming in and working from home, sure I was the receptionist, but I had made sure my phones were covered by my assistant before I even called in sick, so they had no excuse for what happened next.

On Monday morning I was in my usual ½ hour early and at about 9am the office manager breezed in and ignored me, and then I saw my bosses who never came in before 10am if before the afternoon when they had cases in court. They called me into the office and fired me, at 13 weeks pregnant and showing and had the audacity to sit across and wish me well with my pregnancy. Wish me well knowing at my time I was unemployable, knowing that my family would struggle that my child would now be born into a single income home, with none of the advantages that theirs had known, and why did this do this to me, well according to them…it was coming down the pipe before I got pregnant…if that was true what was with the cloying sweet noted Christmas card saying how wonderful I was and how the company appreciated all my hard work. What was with them telling me my job was secure and they were happy with me after my office manager wrote a nasty and lie filled “assessment” and I questioned them about my job security. Was that just a ploy because I had told someone in the office that Jason and I were going to try and get pregnant that year, were they already padding the way to fire me when I became in their eyes expendable?

I will never know, but I do know the consequences of their actions led to my fetus dying in my womb. A fetus that had been perfectly happy and growing according to my hormone levels and my GP, that was due to be born in September of that year, a year I was finally to become a Mommy.

Only that never happened, at my ultrasound I was alone, because my husband, now worried about us only having one income and a pregnant wife, was at his catering job, thank fully just up the street from Mount Sinai where this all took place. The woman doing the ultrasound had a look on her face, a complete poker face, the kind of face you have when you are not trying to show that something is wrong. She said she would get a doctor and be right back…that was the longest wait of my life and when that kind doctor came in and I saw his face my whole world crumbled…the fetus had died or stopped growing, extreme stress (like being fired for no reason without warning) can do that to you in early pregnancy and my advanced age miscarriage was always a possibility.

I then had to have a D&C on top of losing my baby, I had to go and have the rest of it vacuumed out, while my poor husband who had no idea what to do or say to make me feel better, sat outside and waited.

So that was the beginning of my the worst year of my life, sure I could have stared with the elation that Jason and I felt at finding out, after 4 years of fertility doctors and pills, and poking and prodding that I was pregnant and we had no idea, we literally weren’t trying that month, but I have to say all of that disappeared the second I found out that it had been for nothing.

I went into therapy, and the therapist brought me to a wonderful fertility doctor who told me exactly how many eggs I had left, and although she also told me I had been misdiagnosed with PCOS and that I had nothing wrong with my tubes and my ovaries, you think that would make me feel better, but it just made me question why I was unable to get pregnant. I was so sick of being poked, bled and prodded every month, that I just said thank you and walked away. I was done, I was tired of every month being a stressful event. Would I get my period? Would I finally be pregnant?

Then just when I was starting to accept that we could still be a family, later on we could adopt or even foster kids who grew up like us, and give love to a child who needs it. I was finally starting to come out of my depression and my sweet 32 year old cousin dropped dead two days after her birthday.

The devastation from the loss of an abstract idea is one thing to get over and very hard, when all you have to remember that loss is a pee stained stick that you have kept because it was the only positive pregnancy test you ever had and yes a part of me wants to remember that elated moment of seeing it with Jason. The loss of someone you have known since their birth that you held as a baby, that you brushed their long blonde hair and helped on with sandals and then watched growing into a beautiful, considerate and intelligent woman…that is something I am never going to get over. A piece of my heart died with her, and there will always be a little hole in my heart knowing I will never see her again.

Lisa Barger what a joy and privilege it was to know you and to love you, and I will be forever happy knowing you died with the knowledge that you were loved, in the arms of your fiancé.

Then I started to write, I had a concept and based the character on my sweet departed cousin, and then after 3 months I had a novel, or at least a ¾ finished first draft. I realized in that moment, that although I may never be a Mom to a child, that I could give birth to ideas, and nurture them and watch them grow, and send them out into the world and see if others would enjoy them. That I loved to tell stories and that I loved to write.

I would get into my Mom having emergency brain surgery and thinking I was going to lose her too, but I didn’t and she is doing better than ever, so that was actually a good thing that happened. I would get into the annoyance of having to move from where we were, but to tell you the truth I love where we ended up and for the first time I have a washer and dryer in my unit, so no complaints there.

I guess what I am saying is that yes this started out being the worst year of my life, but through it all I grew into a stronger and more confident woman. I gave in to the idea of never having children and with the way my back goes up every time the baby downstairs cries…that may be a good thing. I made a lot of very interesting friends on social media who have inspired me in my writing and in my activism.  I realized what my passion is and exactly who I want to be when I grow up. I turned 40 and found myself through loss and pain came my true rebirth, and although I would give anything to have Lisa back and know that I would see her again…that can’t happen so I honour her memory by becoming what she always wanted to be and that is just plain and simply happy and loved.