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Daily Prompt: West End Girls | The Politics of Starving

Photo © USDAgov

Cities are often plagued with assumptions. Some of these assumptions are that cities have a mix of extreme wealth and extreme poverty. It’s a clear divide of rich and poor. Upper and lower class. The lower class encompass the working poor and homeless. Poverty exists, but the divide isn’t as clear cut as people may think, especially in a city like Toronto.

There’s a ton of pull factors for a lower class individual to choose an urban surrounding to live in as opposed to an suburban community. Some of these reasons include better outreach, services geared towards low income earners, and access to treatment and government centres. The other is rapid, cheap, and accessible transit. A monthly Metropass in Toronto is roughly $122 a month.

Being able to get around easily increases a person’s odds of locating and maintaining employment.

A friend of mine just found a bachelor apartment near Pape Subway Station in downtown Toronto for $600 a month (all inclusive). I make no claim that their place is the Taj Mahal. Though, it isn’t a Rat Den either. The location isn’t necessarily “downtown”, but it’s within walking distance of a Subway. This allows that individual to be anywhere in the “core” within a short period of time.

I’ve lived the majority of my life in the suburbs. I have seen policies, governments, and individuals have a false idea that the majority of people who live in the suburbs are well off – or to some extent not in need of assistance or support. The current need does not adequately match the services, programming, or supports in place.

When I work with students the first question I ask in the morning is, “have you eaten today?” followed by “do you have a lunch?”. The suburbs aren’t devoid of the same economic and social problems the urban communities have. The urban communities have a better time recognizing, helping, and supporting these individuals. The urban communities have a long history of tracking and responding to these problems as opposed to the various suburban communities. I’m not trying to downplay the services being created or the ones already in existence, but it’s clear that it’s not enough.

What I’m asking isn’t for people to give more generously, or to change their political affiliation. These are personal decisions. What I am asking for, and what I truly want is people to look past a person’s residency when determining the financial needs of individuals and families. Before money, supports, and services are increased we as a community have to first recognize the problem. The process is long and tedious. It may take many years, but these are the type of conversations we need to be having right now.

One day I hope that my first question and concern won’t be trying to figure out whether a child has gone without food or not.

* * * * *

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  1. Daily Prompt: West End Girls

Daily Prompt: An Open Letter to Generation Z

Photo © of : : U N I Q U E : :

Think about the generation immediately younger or older than you. What do you understand least about them — and what can you learn from them?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us AGE.

I am part of Generation Y. We are often called The Millennials.

Some people refer to us as being selfish. I’ve heard comments that state we are also the Instant Gratification Generation. There’s a lot of documents to prove that Millennials are generous, caring, and compassionate. Personally, I don’t judge a person by their age, as that is no more right than judging someone by their race, their belief, or the colour of their skin. Age does not determine maturity or intelligence.

* * * * *

Dear Generation Z,

Welcome to adulthood! It must be a scary time in your life. You’re likely trying to figure out who you are and what you want to do with your life. Plans are important. What’s also equally important is flexibility. Shit happens and things don’t always work out how you planned them.

For anyone who wants to do something that requires six to seven years of education please consider investing some time in learning about the profession. Do you have any clue what the job is like on a day to day basis? Shadow, volunteer, and research. Judging a profession based on images you see on the Internet or TV perpetuate a false sense of what the job actually entails. We paint pretty pictures. Find the cracks.

Money

Money is important. However, if it is the only factor in planning your life then you’re most likely either going to hate what you do or be extremely unsatisfied. Try to strike a balance between a career that satisfies you and one that compensates you. Don’t let anyone, even your parents pressure you into a specific career. Your parents are trying to help you find a path that they think is “right” for you. This doesn’t mean they are right, or that you’re going to be happy with what they picked for you.

There’s a lot more to life than your pay stubs, but like Kanye said – “having money isn’t everything, not having it is”. Yeah, I just quoted Kanye. This is real life.

Education and Job Satisfaction

It’s an incredible and scary time to be a graduate and recent graduate of my generation. I can only imagine what it must be like for you. There’s a value each piece of higher education holds. I’m talking about real world value, not how it makes you feel kind of value. That paper qualifies you to do certain jobs and be compensated for that work. This does not entitle you to find a specific job or make a certain amount of money. That’s the wonderful part of the whole process. Investing time and money into education can turn out to be bunk. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s reality. You might as well get a glass of water ready, life is full of shitty pills to swallow.

The best advice I ever received was rather simple. “Pick a career that provides you with the ability to transition into a new career”. If my earning potential is slightly above minimum wage I won’t be able to pay off any current student loans I have in order to take on new ones – and potentially a new career. Give yourself outs. Never pigeonhole yourself into one thing for the rest of your life. Follow the chart below when considering higher education;

COLLEGE UNIVERSITY
  • In this job in demand?
  • Am I academically capable of completing this program? I.E, do I have the capability of being successful?
  • Can I transition into another career if I hate it?
  • What will I need to do to progress in my career? Does it require more school or job experience? What links does this College have to other Universities?
  • Am I ready to sink 4 years into a Bachelor?
  • Am I academically capable of being in University? I.E, do I have the capability of starting and finishing a degree?
  • What am I going to do after I graduate in terms of more school? If you think your B.A in Fine Art or English is going to land you a job, you’re dreaming. Most people end up going back to College or University to supplement their Bachelor Degree. On average look at going to University as a minimum six year investment.
NO: Re-evaluate your career objectives. What are you capable of doing. For example I suck at science, so the medical field just isn’t in the cards for me. You know yourself better than anyone. We all have limitations.

YES: Awesome! Hopefully you picked a career that provides you with good compensation, and links to further education if you choose to grow in that specific field. A lot of College programs focus on paraprofessional roles. That means you’re likely someone’s subordinate.

NO: Get work experience. Look at College as a potential option.

YES: Enjoy! You’re ready for a long expensive road. Hopefully you have a parent or guardian who is going to support you through this process. If not student loans payments for the next ten plus years!

Learn From Us

Hopefully my generation has proved that we learned from our parents mistakes. Probably not, but we can always hope. If not learn from us, or fail. Hopefully your children will learn from you.

Re-Invent the World

Use the systems in place to change the world. If the systems aren’t in place, create them and change them to meet your needs. Laws and policies that govern you were created by men and women of a different era. Stray away from oppressive laws that challenge your rights and freedoms as an individual. Never lose sight of the values and beliefs that protect all of us. Some laws are worth fighting for, even dying for. Some aren’t.

In the context of history a hundred years is not a long time. The ability to create and change has never been actualized in such a period of time as it has been in the past hundred years. Keep progressing. Reach the stars, and beyond. If someone tells you, “no you can’t”. don’t tell them “yes I can”. Just do it. Actions will always speak louder than words.

* * * * *

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1. Daily Prompt: Generation XYZ

Diane Young. The World’s Greatest Grandmother

If you could have a guarantee that one, specific person was reading your blog, who would you want that person to be? Why? What do you want to say to them?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us ONE.

Diane was born in England and immigrated to Canada after the World War Two. She was a lively fun person who had a ferocious temper. She may have only been ninety pounds, but she could scare the living daylights out of me. She was honest and kind. Diane loved all of her children, and grandchildren. She had a tough life, and worked herself to the bone to provide for her family. She played a critical role in helping my grandfather start and run two businesses. When my grandparents split up she did not get what she had spent years working for, and in my opinion earned. Still, her character reinforced the idea that family unity is more important than money. She deserved better.

Diane was on deck when my parents split up and my mother left my father – and our home. She offered us her house, and welcomed me and my brothers with open arms.

Diane had other grandchildren, but ones that didn’t need as much love and attention as me and my brothers did. My other cousins for the most part have had parents with stable jobs and income. I don’t doubt that their families were at times more or less dysfunctional than ours. Every family has its problems. However, I can’t count the number of houses, apartments, and families we have lived with growing up on my two hands. It didn’t help that I would bounce around from one parent to the next in my teenage years. I did this both out of choice, and my parent’s frustration over having me live with them.

nanagood1

From left to right is me, my brother Andrew, my brother Sean, followed by my grandmother Diane.

When people ask me where I went to school, I usually lie and tell them one of the places I went. My school transcripts read like a bad joke. I dropped out several times, and would start at a school only to stop going a couple weeks or months later.

Hitting rock bottom wasn’t easy. I had been contemplating suicide for several years. I would go through bouts of depression and retreat inwards. It took me a long time to openly talk about this part in my life. It isn’t easy. I don’t think anyone wants to show vulnerability in front of other people.

On November 1st 2003 I was evicted from my father’s basement apartment. He packed up all my possessions and dropped me off at my mother’s doorstep. My mother refused to open the door or let me in. I sat out there for half a day wondering what I was going to do. She told me I couldn’t come back.

After several hours she came outside. She told me she would be willing to let me live with her on conditions. First, no drugs. Secondly, if I’m not in school I’m working. If I can’t follow her rules, then I’d have to go to a group home.

I was terrified. After years of pushing, I finally saw that the people who loved me most were ready to sever ties with me in order for me to change. My grandmother might have been amazing, but my mother was phenomenal. The shit I put that woman through. I couldn’t even begin to explain.

nanagood2

Above is a picture of my Diane at my mother’s wedding. 

My grandmother passed away when I was in 13. She got to see a part of me that was extremely hurt, confused, and angry. The person I am today is happy, positive, and confident. I have a drive inside of me, which for a long time didn’t exist. If there was one person I’d want to know who I am, it’s her. She deserved to me as I am, rather than as I was. Hopefully she can and does see me.

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Daily Prompts: Forward | A Life That is Full and Felt

If you could fast forward to a specific date in the future, when would it be?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us FORWARD.

Picture © Sweetie187

A life that is full and felt. Filled with moments of beauty, despair, success, and failure.

A life of experience. A life of love and loss. A life that I have shared.

Moments that were not squandered, and opportunities that were not ignored. Time enough to explore. Time enough for me to see the vastness of space, and the growth of the human spirit. Time enough to see us fall, and time enough to see us rise. Time enough for me to live, and time enough for me to go forth.

The chance to walk among those who have gone after me. To see the lessons they have learned, and those they are repeating.

To see the sun set and rise in a better place, in a better time.

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  10. Daily Prompt: Fast Forward | Incidents of a Dysfunctional Spraffer
  11. Fast Forward to the Future: A Haiku; Saturday, January 11, 2014 | LisaRosier.com
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Daily Prompt: Simply the Best

When and where do you do your best thinking? In the bathroom? While running? Just before bed, or first thing in the morning? On the bus? Why do you think that is?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us THE BEST.

Creativity for me is something that usually happens between the hours of eleven o’clock and two in the morning. I’ll be laying in my bed waiting for sleep to come. I’ll begin thinking, rehashing, and re-analysing everything that has happened to me that day. I will think about what I accomplished and what I wanted to accomplish. Sometimes an idea or concept will come to me, and sometimes it won’t. If it does I respond by leaping for the nearest computer or pen and paper. If I feel like I have more than just an idea I will burn the midnight oil and write it out.

Ideas come from the quiet moments when we turn ourselves off to the daily distractions of life. Riding a bus, taking a walk, or trying to sleep are all moments when we’re able to turn off the white noise of life. In these moments we stop doing, and we start thinking. Giving ourselves more moments of thought during the day can potentially lead to more moments of creativity. It might also help me to develop a normal sleep pattern.

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Daily Prompt: Truth or Dare

Is it possible to be too honest, or is honesty always the best policy?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us TRUTH.

Photo © Liza

I think people should try to be honest, though there is a ton of grey area here. We lie to save face, to save our dignity, and to help others save their dignity. Humans are complex, even those who don’t think they are. Lying is a natural human characteristic. There’s a ton of emphasis on people always being honest. I don’t think that that is realistic or reasonable to ask from another person.

There’s things we want to share, and things we don’t. Every relationship I have is completely different. We share different aspects of ourselves with different people. I share the more intimate parts of my life with a handful of close friends and my girlfriend. I also keep some things to myself. Sometimes we have things going on in our life that we would like to keep private.

Some of the students who I work with have autism. Sometimes they will say whatever is on their mind. In many ways these students can be too honest. One boy who I was working with had a substitute assistant come into the classroom to work with him in the afternoon one day. He looked at her and screamed, “she’s a witch!” The boy proceeded to run out of the classroom screaming. I had to hold back laughter as I chased after the student. What he said was mean, but she did really look like a witch. What I try to teach the students I work with is to think about how their words and actions affect other people. Teaching empathy and emotional awareness is a lot of what I do on a daily basis.

We all share truth with one another, the only thing that varies is how much.

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Daily Prompt: Progress

When you look back at your blog on January 2, 2015, what would you like to see?

Photographers, artists, poets: show us PROGRESS.

I would like to see progress. Progress is the need in all of us to be more than what we are. It drives us to see our limits, and then surpass them. It challenges us to break patterns. Change is never easy. It is often scary.

Fear and doubt are chains. The only person who stops you from progressing is you. We often blame others for our own failures. You didn’t get that job you wanted, or you’re not making the kind of money you want. Stop. Ask yourself, “did I do everything I could today to make tomorrow better?”

Constantly change. Constantly evolve. Adapt. If you can’t adapt, you’re not going to progress. Look forward, never look back. If you can’t get past your mistakes of yesterday, you’ll have no time to focus on today.

Live in the present.  You are a conscious being with skills, abilities, and talents; some of which others have never seen. Share your gifts. Allow yourself the opportunity to make mistakes and experiment.

When I look back on January 2nd, 2015 I’m going to say that I took chances, I made mistakes, and I grew. I am going to allow myself the opportunity to be more than I currently am.

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Daily Prompt: A Brand New You, Effective Tomorrow

Tomorrow is the first day of a brand new year. Tomorrow you get to become anyone in the world that you wish. Who are you? You can choose to by anyone, alive today or someone gone long ago. If you decide to stay “you” share your rationale.

I would simply refuse to be anything other than I am.

“I am the culmination of one man’s dream. This is not ego, or vanity. But when Dr. Soong created me, he added to the substance of the universe. If, by your experiments, I am destroyed, something unique, something wonderful will be lost. I cannot permit that. I must protect his dream”. – Lt. Commander Data

Every action I have made, whether good or bad has helped shape the person that I am. We have all hurt people in our life. Some of us would like to go back in time and change something we have done or said. Even if I could, I wouldn’t. Every misstep, failure, and mistake has helped create each and every one of us.

What I am being asked is if I would trade my individuality in to become another person. Doing that would go against what it means to be human.

Halloween 2003 | Daily Prompt: Moment of Clarity

Tell us about a time you’d been trying to solve a knotty problem — maybe it was an interpersonal problem, a life problem, a big ol’ problem — and you had a moment of clarity when the solution appeared to you, as though you were struck by lightening.

We were sixteen, maybe seventeen. I had just ingested copious amounts of psychedelic mushrooms. I sat laying on your floor rehashing the past several months. You lay on your bed making advances towards a girl whose boyfriend laid comatose beside you.

I had lost my job and was running low on funds. We were involved in the punk scene, or at least we dressed the part. I gave up on school. You were still trying to make an appearance.

It was Halloween, and the girls boyfriend had shown up at your parent’s house with the drugs. I can’t remember if we paid him for them or not. You were emotionally unstable, which was not news to me when you admitted it to me two days prior. You told me you were bipolar. I never told you I was depressed, though you probably knew. We were self medicating. Being a full-time drug user is a full-time job. While you were in school I was learning the finer arts of how to make a quick buck.

I was your supplier. I traded drugs for friendship. I let myself get used.

That night was the last time I saw you as a friend. I had woken up for the first time in almost a year. I didn’t like what I looked like, how I was living, or who I was. I cleaned up and left town. I came back a couple months later and tried to explain why I had walked away. You were angry. I had cut you out of my life that night. I turned my back not only on you, but on other people.

I saved myself. I chose life. You didn’t understand.

Sometimes people are cancer. If we were still friends right now I’d probably be dead.

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