Life in Writing

Welcome to Life in Writing, a blog on everyday topics from Gaming to Gardening and everything in between.

December doesn’t belong to you

Posted by on Dec 22, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 2 comments

The amount of people getting genuinely angry over a greeting is growing increasingly confusing to me. I’m talking about the greeting “happy holidays”. “Happy holidays” is a wonderful, all-inclusive greeting that encompasses every holiday being celebrated in December. Lately, though, people have been claiming that “happy holidays” is being used to avoid offending anyone. These same people, then, are getting offended over the avoidance of  “Merry Christmas”. This has gone from an attempt to include others, to the assumption that we are trying not to offend others, to people being offended by trying not to offend others. I can’t be the only one who thinks that progression is silly. The thing is, most people don’t get offended at “Merry Christmas”. People say “happy holidays”, not to avoid offending anyone, but rather to avoid excluding anyone. It is a courtesy. It is meant to curb the violence that is assimilation and erasure–a violence that, for some reason, we feel we are entitled to dole out just because we are in the majority. To add, there is more than one holiday around this time of year. Even if you do celebrate Christmas, the New Year is just a week after. “Happy holidays” collectively says both. Most people celebrate more than one holiday during this time. Hanukkah, Kwanzaa, Ramadan and many others are also celebrated, and that’s why we get so much time off from work or school–so that everyone gets the opportunity to celebrate the holiday of choice. Christmas is almost always the majority. Saying “happy holidays” to someone doesn’t mean you’re taking away from Christmas, but rather that you’re acknowledging that many people live in our part of the world who may celebrate differently from you. If this seems like a no-brainer, that’s because it should be! Do we really need a reminder that different people celebrate things differently? Take a moment to realize that people are wishing you well when they say “happy holidays”. They are not trying to offend you; they are not trying to avoid offending anyone. They are telling you to enjoy this time of year, sometimes despite the fact they don’t know you well enough to know what holiday, if any, you celebrate. And, by the way, if you feel it’s ridiculous to get offended over someone saying Merry Christmas, then I would counter that it’s equally ridiculous to get offended over someone saying happy holidays. December doesn’t belong to Christians. December doesn’t belong to any one denomination. Canada is not a Christian country, but rather a beautiful cultural mosaic that respects people of all religions and creeds. In fact, there is no one Christian nation; there are merely nations with a Christian majority. So happy holidays to you, no matter which holidays you celebrate or recognize. And if you don’t appreciate my greeting, that’s cool too. I’ll gladly save it for someone who does. Please follow and like...

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The great taboo

Posted by on Oct 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

I’ve always found our society very strange: the way we dance around topics, the way we condone violence but abhor sexuality, the way our “morals” allow us to unapologetically condemn others based on skin colour and sexual orientation. The way we put a taboo over something that affects 20% of Canadians directly, and all Canadians indirectly. Mental illness is a huge topic. It makes a lot of people uncomfortable, because it’s widely misunderstood. As a society, we don’t talk about mental illness well at all–we call people “crazy” and blame violence on the mentally ill, even though mentally ill people are more likely to be victims than they are to perpetuate violence. There is a seemingly unending list of non-facts and unnecessary fear-mongering. The mentally ill are thrown under the bus time and time again, used as scapegoats to avoid discussing the deeper issues. Some people are willing to speak up, thankfully. That alone can help bring about change. My name is Katie. I have generalized anxiety disorder (also known as GAD) and social anxiety disorder. I also suffer from depression, which, I have been told is directly due to my GAD. My mental illness does not define me, and does not make me a dangerous person. It explains some of my actions and, thankfully, gives me something to fall back on when I don’t understand why my brain is reacting a certain way to a situation. I try not to use it as an excuse, but it’s hard sometimes. Mental Illness Awareness Week is drawing to a close. I urge you, this week and all weeks, to consider that mental illness is a health issue like any other. Try showing some compassion, even if you don’t understand. Let’s work together to end the stigma that looms over mental health and get people the help they need. Mental health is such an incredibly broad topic that I don’t feel I can properly give it the time deserves in a cursory blog post. I felt that, on this week, it would be important to say something, no matter how small. Please follow and like...

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#AngloswithAcadians

Posted by on Aug 21, 2015 in Life in Writing | 7 comments

I posted a rant on Facebook on August 15th, la Fête Nationale Acadienne,  It got a lot of attention–currently, it’s sitting at almost 2,000 shares and nearly 3,000 likes. On the evening of August 14th, I saw a post by Beth Lyons. I’d been thinking about this issue for a long time. Growing up in Albert County, I saw one side of the argument: the majority’s side. Lately, after seeing vocal “anglophone rights” and “anti-bilingualism” groups, my urge to say something grew. Seeing Beth’s post on the 14th sparked something in me. I woke up on the 15th and said “today’s the day”. My rant followed. I’ve long been interested in New Brunswick’s bilingual population. When I was approaching middle school, I was given the opportunity to take immersion classes in Hillsborough. Being from a small community, the idea of going to a school an hour away was a little daunting, but I really wanted to improve my meagre French skills. This was important to both me and my parents, considering neither of them spoke French and they felt that I should be connected culturally to both official languages. I stuck it through and graduated high school as Intermediate in French, which was enough to gain me acceptance to Université de Moncton’s groupe pont (bridge group)—a program for anglophones. I took a 5-year break in between to practice my French in a practical setting: working retail in Champlain Place. I couldn’t tell you what level my French is at now, but I worked very hard to get there. I went through years of anxiety, and it was anything but easy. This doesn’t really matter, but I think it’s relevant to illustrate my background as an anglophone. My quinze août rant was intended to be a public statement of recognition, from an anglophone to the francophone community, that some of the silent majority recognizes that the minority is suffering. By making this statement, I’m not ignoring the fact that unilingual anglophones might have a hard time finding a job in New Brunswick. The problem is that anglophones are in the majority in our province, and these growing anglo rights groups are speaking over francophones who are have had similar experiences for a long time. The focus shift to anglophone rights must be discouraging for francophones. I know that both sides of the language debate–how is there still a language debate?!–have problems. However, as an anglophone, I am allied, by default, to anglophones, and this is why I wrote my rant. When the majority is loud in favour of the majority, the minority is silenced. This is what I fear. Many francophones tend to hear negativity from the anglophone side, and I felt it was important to let francophones know that some of us are willing to speak up. I’m a little disappointed that, despite francophones speaking out about these issues for years, these issues are only being addressed now that an anglophone is publicly decrying them. I’m very glad that the message I wrote has resonated with so many people, but I do hope that others decide to listen to francophone voices and stand up for their right to speak and work in their language. I also find it interesting that I was interviewed by four French media outlets, and only one English one. The fact that CTV published a poll asking...

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Project updates

Posted by on Jul 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

Every now and again, I like to give an update on new or current projects I’m working on. This may come as a surprise, but I actually have quite a few things on the go right now! Retail Hell I’ve started a webcomic! I’ve been wanting to do this for several years now, but always had been searching for an artist to collaborate with. After about 3 years of asking around to no success, I decided I’d do it on my own. I used to draw all the time, after all. So far, I’m having a blast with it! The comic updates every Wednesday. For now, I’m hosting it on Tumblr, but I hope to have a domain name for it eventually. Population: 1, Redux Population: 1 was an experimental interactive blog project I did from 2012-2013. Unfortunately, I didn’t know about Twine at the time, as it would have made a much better Twine game. Thus, I have decided to re-imagine and re-release the project through Twine! This will be my first full, finished game, and the scope of it is pretty large. It’s been going well, so far, though. Look for Population: 1 to be finished later in 2015. Tutoring I’ve been taking on clients for English tutoring. I’d love for this to be my new job, so I’m trying to promote this home business of mine as much as possible. If you know of anyone in need, please get them in touch with me! Amelia She’s not the same as other projects, but she does take up most of my time! She’s six months old now, which I’m having a hard time coming to terms with. She’s happy, healthy, and just the ray of sunshine my life needed. I’ve worked a lot of jobs, but being a mom is my favourite, by far. I mean… just look at that FACE. NYC Midnight Flash Fiction Challenge Back in January, I entered NYC Midnight’s Short Story Challenge, and when I saw the registration for this one opening up, I knew I had to enter this one, too. Feedback comes with entry, also, which is worth the fee in itself! The challenge is that entrants are assigned objects, locations, and genres, and they must write stories based on what they’re assigned. The Short Story Challenge was a lot of fun, so I’m looking forward to this one! Maritime Fan-Demonium I have been working on the editing and some articles for this magazine project. As usual, I’m still open to collaborations, so please shoot me an e-mail if you have anything in mind! Please follow and like...

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Dear Nightwish: please forgive me

Posted by on Jun 17, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 0 comments

Dear Nightwish: please forgive me

I mistakenly said, in this post, that Kamelot had dethroned Nightwish as my favourite band. I’d like to formally retract those words. I’m sorry, Nightwish! Please forgive me! I was feeling somewhat jaded and, yes, a little heartbroken over the fact that Anette was gone. After going through the heartbreak and uncertainty of Tarja’s dismissal, then coming to love Anette and having the same thing happen, I was, somehow, still worrying about the lead singer. I got caught up in the drama and the personalities, when any true Nightwish fan knows that the band doesn’t revolve around the lead singer at all. I’m a little ashamed. Because I reacted that way, I needed a good reminder that Tuomas was and still is the mastermind behind the whole project–that the music hadn’t changed, and, despite the talents of the various singers involved, that it didn’t really matter who sung. That reminder came this past March, when Endless Forms Most Beautiful was released. I could get into a story about how excited I was for the album. How I had listened to live shows, featuring Floor at the forefront, for months in preparation. How I was waiting for the album, forgot about it, then my husband surprised me with a copy of it after coming home from work on the day of its release. How I put Amelia to bed that night and raced downstairs to put my headphones on and blast the whole thing uninterrupted while in a state of awe. How, later that week, I’d wake up in the middle of the night to feed the baby and put my headphones in and use the music to keep me awake. Yeah… I could get into a story like that. But I’d rather just gush at oh my God, you guys, this album is so freaking good. After the first few listens, I decided I had to see where it fit with the rest of their discography. So, I listened to every Nightwish album, from beginning to end, in order. It took about a month and a half, because of baby duties. Despite this, I also decided to watch every live DVD/documentary, also in order. And now I’m reading the book. My final verdict on Endless Forms Most Beautiful is that it’s kind of like Once’s older sibling. It has hints of a more hopeful, organic Century Child. A sequel, of sorts, to Imaginaerum. And, actually, the perfect transition from the latter (“Interstellar/Theatre play/The nebula curtain falls/Imagination/Evolution/A species from the veil” – “Shudder Before the Beautiful”, the opening track). You see, I was initially disappointed about Anette leaving because they had just gotten into their groove with her. Imaginaerum was a masterpiece, and it was written specifically to suit Anette’s voice. There was even a jazz track on there that managed to fit perfectly. So, yes, her departure may have hit me a bit harder than it should have. After Anette brought my doll onstage and had been so kind the three times I met her, I took her separation from the band the wrong way. As much as I loved her voice, I was so attached to her as a person that I refused to see that her departure was the best thing for her and the band. My perceptions have since changed. You’d think I know...

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The real problem with today’s parents

Posted by on Jun 9, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 1 comment

You know, I was going to take a break from the parenting posts to let them space out a bit. Parenting is all I’ve been writing about for the last 5 months, so, I thought, let’s withdraw from the subject a bit. But, after reading a couple of articles about what’s wrong with “today’s parents”, I decided I needed to throw my two cents into the pot. Stop me if you’ve heard this one before: today’s parents coddle their children. Today’s parents spend too much time on their cell phones, and not enough time playing with their kids. Today’s parents let their kids watch too much TV. Back in my day, we did X, Y, Z, and we were fine. Today’s parents don’t let their kids play outdoors anymore. Today’s parents don’t teach their children to be respectful, kind, generous. Today’s parents suck, essentially, and the generation before was better for 939573 reasons. The list goes on forever. Everyone seems to have an opinion about the state of our children and the way they’re being parented. A two-minute walk from my house is a playground with a sign listing all the rules a child must follow in order to play there. One of those rules is that children under 12 years of age must be accompanied by an adult, and at the bottom of the sign, the phone number for the RCMP is listed.  What this is saying to me is that, when my daughter is ten years old, I could have the police called on me for trusting her to go to the park, which is just 5 houses down, by herself. I could be prosecuted. Worst case scenario, they take my child away from me, or try to. When I was a child, I would walk down the road to the store by myself on the daily. I imagine this started somewhere between the age of 8-10. What I’m getting at is that parenting has become everyone’s business, and people who disagree with your methods will have no trouble telling you, telling on you, or finding ways to undermine you. Helping? Nah–that’s for people whose methods we agree with. We live in a time that parents are constantly vilified. No parent can do anything right–everyone is watching. Passing judgment is as simple as looking at a picture on Facebook. The worst part is: we do it to each other! On Tumblr, I caught myself looking at a note a parent left their child and scoffing “I hate when people refer to things like this as a parenting win”. The truth is, I didn’t know the circumstances. And yet, I, like so many others, was quick to assume the parent was in the wrong based on a simple photograph. We judge parents for letting their kids play with tablets. We judge parents who choose to look at their cell phones while their kids are at the playground. We judge parents for choosing, for whatever reason, not to breastfeed, or how long they breastfeed. We judge parents on their decision whether or not to cloth diaper, how to get their babies to sleep at night, the forms of discipline they use, whether or not to give allowance, gift-giving over the holidays, attachment parenting, co-sleeping. Every single thing has become a discussion on...

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Even more unsolicited advice for parents-to-be

Posted by on May 12, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 0 comments

1. Don’t Google anything–ESPECIALLY related to baby sleep patterns Here is what my life was like for the first two and a half months: The baby wakes up every hour for a two-week period. Why is she doing this? TO GOOGLE! “8 week old wakes hourly”. Read. Oh my God, my baby isn’t normal. Oh no. Wait. What do you MEAN I’m supposed to be putting her down awake but drowsy?! Google “when should I be putting my baby down awake but drowsy?”. Use a swing?! My baby hates her swing. Google “how to help baby like swing”. Lather, rinse, repeat. I say “don’t do this” knowing full well you’re going to. I told myself daily that I wasn’t going to Google anything else. Five minutes later, I’d typed “wonder week leap 2” and “9 week growth spurt?” into the search engine. The truth is this: you’re going to Google things, but at the end of the day, you know your baby. Yes your baby is normal. Every baby is different. There is no magical reason or solution to a lot of things newborns do–often they simply do them. Newborns are new to the world–they have literally no context for anything that happens to them. In the first three months, try (and I know it’s hard!) not to think you’re doing anything wrong. You’re probably not. You’re probably doing amazingly. 2. Don’t ever go into any night expecting you’re going to sleep well I know this one may seem like a no-brainer. No new parent goes into this thing thinking “I’m gonna get so much sleep!”. But, man, you’ll find yourself hopeful. “Maybe this night will be different”, you’ll say. And yes, it likely will be different, but probably not for the reason you want it to be. Maybe your newborn will wake up hourly. Maybe he won’t sleep between the hours of 1:30 – 4:30 AM one night (or several). Maybe he’ll sleep for five hours straight one night, only to be followed by a night that he wants to party with you at 2 AM. Maybe he’ll sleep through the night one night, then two days later wake up every two hours. Don’t be hopeful. Prepare for the worst. You’ll be less disappointed this way, and if your baby sleeps a longer stretch, it will feel like Christmas. 3. Keep your phone well charged for the night shift The nights can be very, very long, unless you happen to have a unicorn baby who sleeps through the night at 6 weeks (you’re welcome, Mom and Dad). Nights are also lonely, especially if one of you is exclusively taking the night shift. I’ve whiled away the deep sleep waits on Reddit and playing Puzzle and Dragons, mainly, but I’ve also managed to do some work on creative projects and, let’s face it, talk to my Mom. Thank goodness she’s a night owl. 4. For the love of God, hold that baby You can’t spoil a newborn. You can’t spoil a newborn. YOU CAN’T. SPOIL. A NEWBORN. Keep in mind that your little one was being held in a cozy, warm environment for nine whole months, and she just got into the harsh, loud, freezing cold world where suddenly hunger is a thing and she isn’t being constantly rocked or swayed to sleep. You can’t...

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6 ways that being a new parent will give you a workout

Posted by on Apr 5, 2015 in Life in Writing | 2 comments

Dropping baby weight has been shockingly simple, mainly because I have been chasing after a little one (who isn’t even mobile yet) all day. Here are my workouts of choice that have helped me rebuild some of the muscle I lost while sitting and napping the third trimester away. 1. Go-to-sleep squats Naptime involves about 100 of these. They have to be pretty deep, too. Something about the up-and-down movement helps get Amelia to sleep like nothing else. 2. Please-stop-crying stair climbing During fussy evening periods, a sure-fire way to calm the crying is to go up and down the stairs. This will often soothe her to sleep, too. Sometimes it can take as many as six (or more!) “sets” of going up and down the stairs to calm her and get her to sleep. Fantastic workout. I’m often somewhat sweaty and puffing by the time I get back upstairs after about the fifth set. It complements the fact that I haven’t had a shower in days perfectly. 3. The grinning baby lift To tone those arm and shoulder muscles, grab your baby and lift high up by the armpits. Hopefully your baby will reward your efforts with a huge, adorable smile. Be warned, though, that you may get a faceful of spit-up instead. 4. The all day 10(+) pound weight carry I don’t know about you, but my baby really hates being put down during the day. So, if I’m not wearing her in the Ergo Baby, I’m carrying her around. This is the equivalent of carrying around a ten+ pound (currently 12 lb.) weight all day. 5. The baby-is-asleep-time-to-do-chores marathon I used to take all day to do a couple of chores. Even if it was a day off from work, I’d spread them out between periods of reading articles on the internet and other various time wasters. Now, I can cram chores that would take me a cumulative 2-3 hours to do into a solid 45-minute straight multi-tasking chore extravaganza. 6. Two words: bucket seats So a car seat with a baby in it is pretty much the HEAVIEST THING EVER. The end. What new moves have you had to master as a new parent? Please follow and like...

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Having less money is better–for me, at least

Posted by on Mar 12, 2015 in Life in Writing, Uncategorized | 0 comments

When I left my full time job to go back to school and finish my degree, I was concerned. My husband and I have a mortgage. We have a car. Though we didn’t at the time, we now have a daughter. We have two cats. We like eating every now and then and we have utilities to pay. It always made sense for us both to be working full-time, even if it seemed like I always had a little extra money to burn each paycheck. I had been able to save up quite a bit of money as I wasn’t in debt, and I bought some nice clothes for myself. I also had a bad tendency to blow quite a bit of cash at work, because I genuinely liked the product I sold. Upon going back to school full-time, I dropped work to part-time in a different job,  and I quickly had to begin budgeting based on necessity. Suddenly, I didn’t have the luxury of the extra $200+ a paycheck. I had no money to burn. Every dollar was accounted for in some way or another. Coupons became more important, I used any discount I can get (10% student Tuesdays at Sobeys became my new best friend), and I saved up various loyalty points from any shop that offered them. Most “wants” dissolved entirely. We stopped going out to eat and eliminated expensive or unnecessary items from our grocery list. I started cooking and meal-prepping more often. Cooking quickly grew into a hobby as a result–it was already something I did fairly often and enjoyed doing, but the frequency with which I was now cooking meant I was constantly trying new things and making an effort to have a variety of foods on-hand, as well as challenge my burgeoning skills. Another interest of mine is money management. I love budgeting, and the tighter the budget is, the more fun I have distributing funds. Putting my budgeting skills to good use was a bit of a side-perk of needing to drop the money a bit. It obviously wasn’t a factor, but kind of a nice bonus. Dropping to part-time work was also a life choice for me, and not just in order for me to get my degree. I decided that rather than focusing on working or finding a career, I wanted to spend more time with loved ones. This especially rang true for me when I found out I was pregnant, knowing well that I would want to spend as much time as possible while the baby is still a baby. My grandmother’s death in October would confirm this for me. I wanted the flexibility to see people when I could. Since my daughter Amelia’s birth, this has only been further affirmed. My writing also influenced my decision to work part-time only. My one overarching goal in my life has been to do something with my writing, even if it’s to a small degree, and I’ve been trying to focus on it more and more in the past year–the launch of this website is a testament to that. I’ve had less and less time for my writing, with school at first, followed directly by the new baby, but since January, I’ve already managed to write a short story that placed in the first heat of the...

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Unsolicited Advice for Parents-to-be

Posted by on Feb 2, 2015 in Life in Writing, parenting | 3 comments

Unsolicited Advice for Parents-to-be

Alternative title: things I wish people had told me about becoming a parent. 1. Don’t sweat the messy stuff I wasn’t sure how cleaning up vomit, poop, dealing with the rotting-off cord, etc., would be. Four weeks in, I have had so many different bodily fluids on me that I have generally stopped caring. The biggest one was the huge blowout diaper that filled the diaper, got all through the onesie and went onto my pants. I was surprised at how little I cared. In fact, I was happy, because it meant the baby was getting enough to eat. If you’ve never changed a diaper, you will learn almost immediately after the child is born, and before long, you’ll be fine with any level of gross. You will likely be coated in vomit at some point. It’s cool. 2. Breastfeeding, for the first little while, really sucks There, I said it. Don’t go into breastfeeding with any expectation that it’s going to be easy or even feel worth it for the first few weeks. It will be worth it, and you are amazing for doing it. Also, you’re amazing for NOT doing it, because parenting is hard enough without having to learn and simultaneously teach how breastfeeding works. It is natural, but it doesn’t come naturally, for either of you. I’m glad I’m doing it, and I will continue to do it, but I can completely understand why some women choose not to do it, and especially why so many decide to stop in the first few weeks. It’s okay to be frustrated and it’s okay to cry. It will get better. The advice that my doula Elise gave me was to get through the first day, then the first week, then the first month. Taking it day by day is the easiest way to do it. I’ve gotten through a month of it, and it has definitely gotten much easier. Also, your baby may gain birth weight back at a slower rate than formula-fed babies at first. Do not see it as a failing if your baby hasn’t gained birth weight back in the first two weeks. All babies are different. You’re doing a great job. 3. Forget sleep–enjoy SHOWERS while you can Enjoy long, hot showers. Enjoy hot meals and hot coffee. Enjoy the feeling of being clean, because it will likely become a distant memory. If you’re at home alone with the baby to any degree, prepare to forfeit mealtimes, or to graze sporadically over several hours. Have a nice dinner out together before the baby arrives, and maybe even create a fond memory in the process. Do something you’ll remember, because chances are you won’t be wishing you got more sleep before the baby arrived when you’re sleep deprived. You can’t bank sleep. You can bank memories, and you’ll be happy you did. Brad and I had a really nice dinner together at the Schnitzel Parlour for our anniversary in October, when I was about seven months pregnant, and we’ll remember that for the rest of our lives. You won’t remember that one really great night of sleep you got. (A note that I’m not saying you shouldn’t get a good night’s sleep! Continue to sleep as you normally would before the baby arrives. Just, you know, don’t make...

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