- Radical inclusion and empowering families
- The Village Hearth Northumberland
- Living with cancer
- Navigating the healthcare system as a survivor of sexual violence
- Gynaecology and rape culture
- Parenting through trauma
Tune in to hear my interview with my good friend (and low key mentor) David Sheffield. We are gonna talk about Green Wood Coalition, affordable housing, art, poetry, local events, frontline social work, harm-reduction, building community, and more.
“I’ve lived in various parts of Ontario, but Northumberland County has been my home since 1986. My wife, Beth, and I settled here at that time, and have always felt that this was a great place to raise our four children. I often note that my children have been my best teachers, and that’s more true today than ever. We have four grandchildren, also living in this area, and we are enjoying the new discoveries they have brought to our lives.
My work in community outreach started 10 years ago, but I think I was being guided to this place by many years of life experience. This feels more like a vocation than a job. Much of my career was in the painting trade, while spending off hours in community engagement through art projects, meals, church activities, music festivals and campfires. My writing—poetry and non-fiction—has been published in a variety of periodicals and anthologies. Writing is my favourite way to process some of the difficult days that one can encounter in this kind of work.
These days, I’m the Community Director at Green Wood Coalition, which is a people-level response to the disconnection of poverty and related social struggles. The work is difficult, at times, but also very inspiring because of the resilience of individuals that I encounter, and the encouragement of many people who work alongside me.”
To learn more about Art Hives, click here.
I met up with my friend, Robin Whale today and he showed me a few positions he recommends to regenerate spinal health. In the following videos, he demonstrates 3 different positions to try as well as “breathing through pain”, a strategy he talked a lot about during our interview last week. Robin also takes us through getting up from these positions safely (and with as little pain as possible) and explains how he learned about each of these positions.
“Remember. Gently and slowly over time.”
If you’re interested in learning more about Robin and his practice, visit http://www.whalefamilychiropractic.ca/ .
Robin’s recommendations for further reading:
Eat Well, Move Well, Think Well by Dr. James L. Chestnut
The Prophet by Kahil Gibran
Count Your Blessings by Dr. John Dimartini
Loving What Is by Byron Katie
The Myth of Stress by Andrew Bernstein
Robin’s top wellness tips:
* Write everything down that you don’t like about your disease
* Find 3-5 things you’re thankful for each day
* Walk for 45 minutes every day
* Breathe through your pain
“Isn’t it funny that the biggest con man tells you that you can heal your body naturally?”
A few nights ago, there was a fatal shooting at my local hospital. A couple in their 70s who had been spending the summer, as usual, in Northumberland County were patients in the hospital for undisclosed reasons when the husband, Tom Ryan, shot his wife, Helen Ryan, before being shot and killed by police. Immediately, there were vague reports released on social media by local media, and immediately, people began speculating.
The overwhelming response I observed was that it was a mercy killing where Helen must have been terminally ill and her husband, graciously, had agreed to end her suffering. Within the next day, the story was uncovered that Tom had been a “violent, horrible man” who Helen’s cousin, Connie Woodcock, had expected would potentially kill her eventually.
“I did expect him to kill her sometime. We are all shocked it happened, but not terribly surprised,” Connie told Northumberland Today’s Pete Fisher.
I’d like to believe that the reason so many people immediately assumed this to be a mercy killing is due to people wanting to believe the best about one another. However, I think that this reaction is also, at least partially, due to our culture’s tendency towards sticking our heads into the sand when it comes to intimate partner violence and unhealthy dynamics in relationships. Maybe it even has something to do with the dynamics associated with ageism, where few people realize that domestic violence is an issue for seniors who have been married for a long time.
Even with the #MeToo campaign going viral, and the more local expression of solidarity with survivors of gender-based violence, Take Back the Night Port Hope in the very recent past, there were only a few women I knew who were whispering amongst each other, do you think this may have been intimate partner violence?
The standard gendered expectations are often our default: he was protecting her. As it turns out, Tom Ryan had been controlling for a long time in ways that many intimate partner violence survivors can relate to. Helen’s cousin Connie told Pete Fisher,
“He had threatened Helen many times. She had no money of her own,” she said. “I thought at times that she was right over the edge too, except when I spent time with her she started to be more normal and like the person I knew as a kid. He completely had her under his thumb.”
This kind of behaviour is common in many relationships. Sometimes it is obvious to friends and family members, but often, it’s far more subtle. In fact, there are similar toxic relationship habits that are relatable for far too many people. Some of these habits may include:
Sometimes, it can be really dangerous for women to leave abusive or unhealthy relationships. Sometimes, it can also be really dangerous for men to leave abusive or unhealthy relationships too, but the reality of the situation is that women are disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence. And even more disproportionately affected by intimate partner violence is women of colour, indigenous women, immigrant women, queer women, women with disabilities, transgender women, and women living in poverty.
Regardless of identity, one way to work towards less intimate partner violence is to talk about healthy relationships. Some qualities of healthy relationships include:
It’s important to talk about these things. It’s also important to talk about the role toxic masculinity played in this murder, as well as in intimate partner violence in general. While women are expected in our culture to be polite, caring, and submissive (an expectation that is changing, but still systemically ingrained in Canadian society), men are expected to be the opposite. Strong, emotionless but for anger, controlling, in charge. Basically, constructs of masculinity encourage a kind of spiritual death that isolates and dehumanizes men, and feeds violent behaviour, especially in relation to women, who are constructed as opposite these highly-prized masculine traits.
While constructs of femininity have been and are continuously going through a radical reconstruction, constructs of masculinity, by their nature, have not evolved in the same way. Further, the radical reconstruction of feminine gender appears, in 2017 Small Town Ontario, to be causing a reaction in the form of hypermasculinity. It makes sense- an action results in an equal or greater reaction.
So let this be a call of anyone who bothers reading this to work harder on doing that work that healthy relationships require and to magnify is voices of survivors of intimate partner and gender-based violence.
And let this be a call to the men reading this to do that work required to redefine masculinity- because the current construct isn’t working for anyone, when you really think about it.
Resources (to be added to):