The Weight of Grudges

In a recent conversation I had with a colleague, the work I’d done in the community came up. He thanked me for all I’d done and said I made a huge difference in the lives of so many vulnerable people in the area.

This got me thinking… after I thanked him for the compliment, my reply was “I always hope to make some sort of positive dent where ever I happen to be.” I think I’ve managed to do a pretty good job of that… for the most part.

I would never say I am perfect. I am so far from it. But, I do try to be as good to others as I can without trying to figure out how our relationship will benefit me. Sometimes, this gets me in trouble or people take advantage of my trusting and generous nature.

There has been at least once, recent years, where I was not as good to someone as I could have been. I had hate and anger in my normally good heart and I ripped into them like I’d never done to anyone before. My anger got the best of me and I purposefully hurt someone without thinking about it. I wish I had slept on it, things might be different.

I had held onto my anger and hatred of them for awhile afterward. I put it in a little corner of my soul to silently stew, almost to be forgotten, only to have it flare up every so often… but what did that really do for me? Absolutely nothing. My frustration faded after some time. I put myself in their shoes for a bit, trying to make sense of the ridiculous situation we had found ourselves in. I let go of my so-called grudge because it was of no use to me anymore.

However, don’t be confused. I still believe wholeheartedly what they did to me was very, very wrong and would not wish their actions on anyone. I also know my retaliation was wrong and things were said that likely cut deep. For that I am truly sorry. 

However, I believe this person still holds a very strong grudge against me, they even appear to wish death upon me. There is denial and cover-ups by mutual friends, but it sometimes comes out just how strong their hatred STILL is for me. I’d like to bury this hatchet, but many things stand in the way- mostly ego, a grudge, (and sometimes even people) are holding us back from being civil.

If I could say one thing about grudges, it would be this: they are a weight. Grudges drag you down without you realizing it. They do not make you a better person, they also don’t make what you did the right thing, they don’t escape you from responsibility or bad behaviour. They are a waste of mind space, because admit it… it does take at least some effort to hate someone.

I do not want to be the proud owner of a violent grudge. That is why I acknowledged their wrong of me, dealt with it the way I needed to, and then simply let it go. It’s a hard thing to do, but it really makes you feel good. When you hold a grudge, I don’t think you can ever feel 100% alright because the grudge occupies a space of yourself that could be filled with happiness, but you choose to fill it with hate instead… I’m sounding very New-Age Oprah in this post. 

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For that certain person, in case you should stumble upon this post or if a mutual friend should share it with you:

You’ve probably never read this blog and maybe never will, you likely do not give a shit what I think about the past situation. You may even laugh and let this blog post fuel your grudge. I know you have not let it go and that you have an inhuman amount of hate for someone who is trying to make things right, but is unable to get around the obstacles. You may not know that I am apologetic for hurting you because of these same obstacles. You and I will never be friends and that is understandable. But, the least we can do is be civil, understanding, and forgiving with one another. I hope you can take this to heart, know that I acknowledge my behaviour as wrong and you can do the same of yours. Take a deep breath and let it all go one day. Maybe that’s the day we can make peace. I truly look forward to it one day, in whatever form peace will take between us.

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People CAN evolve emotionally, that’s one of the wonderful things about us. We can change our opinions of people, empathize, and vow to live good lives where we are decent to one another. Choice is a wonderful tool at our disposal, but we also have to choose to use it (ay’ there’s the rub). I made a choice to evolve and I am so happy I did. After all, hatred is a terrible color on me.

Okay…. end of my New-Age hippie mumbo-jumbo. But it does feel good (and a little scary) to put this out into the universe.

Calgary- the first two weeks

Long time, no post!

It’s been a very busy month for me with leaving my job, packing up, and moving a couple provinces away. It’s also been a very difficult and trying time too. With all moves, things don’t always go as planned- you have to roll with the punches and adapt. I’ve taken A LOT of punches in these last two weeks and it has been hard to stay positive about the whole thing. But, the people around me keep telling me that I am resilient and will fare fine. I am resilient, but it’s still been rough.

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We hit the road on August 1st, I shed a few tears for Winnipeg on the way out. Wondered if this was a smart move, or something I would regret in the coming days.

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Got to Calgary and realized there was A LOT of things wrong with my new apartment. The least of my problems was the smoke alarms sitting on a shelf with no batteries.

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But things got better. I met some awesome people and their fun dog. It’s nice to have some good people around you. And a dog to play with is nice too!

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There were a couple intense hailstorms a couple days after I arrived.

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I got some terrible news from the government about my EI. Mainly that I will not be receiving it and that was a shock to me. I kinda built my first few months around being able to focus on studies and not have to find a job right away. That news made for a terrible day.

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I got to hang out with my brother, which was nice. His girlfriend has 2 Shiba Inus that are super cute. Again, DOGS! I like the fat, little girl the best. She is so adorable. Hope I get to hang out with them a bit more.

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I haven’t found strangers to be too friendly here in this town. Went out for a few solo beers at a few different places. Not a lot of interaction with people, but a sorta friendly bar at the Oak Tree Tavern in Kensington. That was a fun-ish night.

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Lastly, Calgary is a hard town to get around if you don’t have a car. Most places I want to go end up being an hour away by bus/train. So, I haven’t been able to do a lot of exploring. It’s not a walkable city like Winnipeg and that is going to take some getting used to. Looking forward to getting my bike fixed and that will help a whole lot.

Well, that’s a bit of an overview of my first two weeks. I HOPE the worst of it has passed and I can start enjoying my time here. School starts in about 2 weeks, so I want to enjoy my time off til then. I know I’ll be super busy in the coming months.

Whoa, I may have actually changed the world…

…or at least someone’s world.

I’ve come to the end of my contract at my job as a community outreach worker. I spent four years getting to know people, providing them with resources, helping them achieve their goals, and just kind of being a friend to people who may not have a lot of support in their lives.

This past week, it has really started to hit home how big an impact you can have on people’s lives. A group of clients threw me a surprise going away party at their house- BBQ, pasta salad, beautiful cake, gifts. I was stunned. But, it shows that not only do I care about their well-being, they care about me too. We built genuine relationships and that is a hard thing to do with people living in poverty and distrustful of the system or representatives of the systems.

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My work held another BBQ for all my clients to come say good-bye to me. I was shocked to see 30-40 people roll through to say good luck, give me hugs, and pass me very sweet cards of thanks and encouragement.

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I’ve also been getting lovely words from colleagues. Happy for me, but sad to lose me in this fight for social justice.
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So, it has really hit me… I may have actually made an impact- on people, on the community, on policy, on a city. The world, or maybe just someone’s world. That’s an accomplishment and I am proud and grateful.

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And maybe they changed me a little bit too. And I guess that’s what it’s all about. Affecting people, affecting change. Working for a common goal. Working together. Being kind. Loving one another.

Whoa… that’s heavy.

Kijiji Etiquette: Are you a Flake?

I’ve begun to minimize my belongings in anticipation of my Calgary move. A lot of the time when I do a belonging cull, I just donate everything because selling is such a huge hassle. But, I’ve decided that I’ve got some decent junk around this place and I’d like to make a bit of extra money since moving and Calgary are expensive.

I’ve made a number of posts on Kijiji over the last month or so, and it’s getting to the point where I would rather just donate everything and not have to deal with the bottom feeders that frequent that site. Kijiji attracts the worst people because email is so easy and there is no face-to-face interaction until the deal is made and done.

So, I’ve put together an Etiquette Guide for those dim-wits that are trying to buy my listed items.

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1.  Do Not…
Show up without having stated a time/day and just expecting me to be home without notice. 
Wait for a confirmation from the seller that the day/time you request is okay. Do not just show up and expect that person to be home and waiting for you.

2.  Do Not…
Ask to meet up in far flung areas of the city for a $5 item.
I have people asking me to meet in Transcona. Transcona is at least a 45 minute bus ride and $5.20 in fares and even if I drove it would be 25-30 minutes, gas, time. All to deliver a $5 or $10 item.

Think of a Kijiji seller as a store. You go to them. Would you ask a store to meet you half way across the city for your convenience?

3.  Do Not…
Uz theez wrds f u wnt 2 buy.
A fairly good indicator you are dealing with a moron if they can’t use proper words in their initial email to you. I’ve actually asked people what they are saying because I couldn’t understand them.

4.  Do Not…
Do the last minute ditch.
I get ready to meet someone or I’ve stayed home because I expect them to be coming by when a few minutes to the agreed upon time, they email and say “Yeah, I won’t be able to make it” and then you never hear from them again. No rescheduling, no explanation. This is why you don’t take the ad down until it is out of your hands.

5.  Do Not…
Undercut the already low price.
I haven’t had too much bad luck with this one, but I know other people who have. Do not offer half the asking price. Do not show up and say “I only have $20” when the item is listed for $40. Do not go for the Douche Bag Discount.

6.  Do Not…
Provide the wrong email address off the bat.
I had this happen just this week, but never before. Someone seems genuinely interested in buying an item, you go to email them back and it bounces immediately. Kijiji doesn’t make you give a real email address, but I don’t know why you would put in a fake one. Just stupid.

Do you have any Kijiji horror stories? 

Life Milestones as told by Pantone

The company Pantone is known worldwide as the ultimate standard language for color. They have been declaring a colour of the year since 2000- that’s 15 years of unique colours. This got me thinking about my past 15 years and what events “coloured” those particular years. So, we float back in time…

2000
In 2000, Pantone chose this muted blue and I learned how to drive in this very similarly coloured Dodge Omni.

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In 2002, red was in and I was OUT of high school!

2004

In 2004, I moved into my own apartment, leaving the perennial Tigerlillies that appeared in our backyard behind at the farm.

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In 2009, I graduated University and hoped my future would be as bright as Mimosa.

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In 2011, my life changed. I ended a 7 year relationship, lived alone, and got my first real job after graduation. That’s me with a horse on an organic farm. Just part of my awesome job! What a crazy, confused year… kinda like calling this colour Honeysuckle, aren’t those yellow?

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2012 was this year I decided to start travelling alone, whether I had the money or not. That’s my little campsite in a rain forest in the Pacific North West. I can’t come up with a good colour pun, so here’s a bad one- you could say 2012 is the year I began my “tango” with life. (Blerg, I know).

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Now, 2013 and 2014 were full of hardships (almost as hard a time as I have choosing which of these colours is my favourite) and if you read this blog much, you know what those are- depression, anxiety, makeups/breakups, a few deaths, drinking, losing friends, and important people moving away.

2015

And now, it’s 2015! Marsala is kind of a dull colour for a year that is shaping up to be a wild ride.

Do any of these Colour of the Year chips jog your memory of days gone by?

“Friends”… hitting a bit too close to home

I’ve been watching Friends on Netflix (as many people hovering around my age have been lately). When this show came on the air I was only around 11 years old or so and I couldn’t relate to much of anything that the characters were going through in the weekly episodes. I had never been without a job, had a roommate, or been on a relationship “break”.

But now, I am 30, rewatching these episodes and coming across some circumstances I can actually relate to. Most recently, I watched the episode where all the friends turn 30 and Rachael comes to terms with being in a place where she has to make some pretty heavy decisions. See below, you only have to watch to the 2 minute mark.

The plan. What is the plan? I had a plan at one point, but things happened to throw it off track and I’m now exactly where Rachael is- finding myself in the middle of having to make some very difficult decisions about life, future, and family. If only i had five wacky characters to rally around me and make it all okay. Oh well. I’ll figure it out as I go.

Year End Reflections

higlight1. My Career
Many things happened in the way of work this past year. I coauthored a paper with the Canadian Centre for Policy Alternatives, I made an appearance in a documentary about Winnipeg rooming houses, I spoke about my work at a community forum, a film festival, and again for several government officials. I traveled to Edmonton for a conference where I learned, networked, and promoted my own work with others working in the housing & homelessness sector. As a result of that networking, I’ve been asked to present a webinar on rooming houses as an essential form of affordable housing , I was nominated for a Golden Carrot Award for my work ensuring food security of low income tenants in West Broadway. Things are rolling along well in this aspect of my life and hopefully continues to do so.

2. Grad School
I submitted my application to study for a Masters of Social Work at the University of Calgary. I made the decision to make a life change and finally go through with it. I won’t hear until around April, which doesn’t give me much time to tie up loose ends and make a big move.

3. San Francisco
I took a trip to San Francisco, somewhere that has been on my list for awhile now. I went with a friend and I don’t usually travel with another person, but it was nice to be able to share a great experience with someone I care about. Of course it could have been a longer trip, but I’ll take what I can get. Time to start planning where I’ll be off to in 2015.

disapintment1. The last of my good friends left Winnipeg
In the last couple years, all of my closest friends have moved to other provinces. It’s been really hard to lose everyone close to you when you don’t have much family at all or many close relationships. I’ve always been one to advocate for quality friends over quantity, but it has kind of come to kick me these days. It’s hard to stay in touch when people are diving into their careers or having babies; and I’ve definitely seen a deterioration in at least one of my friendships.

2. A break up of sorts and all that follows
I had been in a long-distance relationship of sorts which came to an end this summer. I don’t want to say too much about it, but it has been incredibly difficult for me to process and figure out where to go from here. Do you remain friends with an ex, do you go no-contact and just try to forget the whole thing? I’m still in a place where I don’t know what’s to come in the future and it drives me absolutely insane. It has also been a major factor in my next disappointment below.

3. Hitting as close to rock bottom as I care to get
In 2014, I came out about suffering from “a severe case of major depressive disorder” after struggling silently for many years. I told a few friends and a couple coworkers so they could understand my actions, but it didn’t really help me at all and those who wanted to help didn’t know how. The last half of 2014 became so unbearable for me that the thoughts and feelings I was having about myself and life around me just weren’t normal anymore.

major focus1. Art & Creating
I spent a lot of time in 2014 making. I’ve always been the creative type and it really showed in 2014. I took up crocheting in late 2013 and really got into this past year. I made hats and scarves, mitts and trivets, placemats and blankets. I painted a lot in 2014 and I began making polymer clay brooches and necklaces.

2. Being Depressed
Sounds strange, but a lot of my energy went into being depressed. I thought if I just rode it out and watched a lot of Netflix, drank a lot of vodka, and hid out from the world… it would all go away and I would feel normal again. That didn’t happen and I wasted a good six months or more doing that.

grateful1. Twitter
If not for Twitter I would probably never make any friends ever. It has become a really great place to discuss things like politics, social issues, craft beer, and other everyday stuff. I’ve said these things before and I’ll continue to say them, “some of the smartest people I know are on Twitter” and “most new people I meet are through Twitter.”

2. Bob’s Burgers
I discovered this television show this year and you might wonder, “why the hell would you be grateful for a cartoon?!?” Well, let me tell you… this show made me laugh so hard I would cry and gasp for air sometimes. It was a really nice reprieve from my usual deadpan, expressionless self. Bob, Linda, Tina, Gene, and Louise reminded me I was still a living, breathing person under all that.

3. Family
I’ve never been one of those people who are in love with their family. I actually have a pretty poor relationship with every member of my family and I chocked it up to past events and bad communication and poor nurturing. I realized this year that it was ME creating the negative relationships and my family didn’t necessarily see it the same way as I did. I opened myself up a small bit to the possibility of strengthening my relationships with them. I began talking to my brother more than we ever have. I continue to see my mom pretty regularly. And the biggest step of all, I had breakfast with my father- someone I haven’t seen in close to a decade and haven’t shared a meal with in probably about 12+ years.

road ahead1. Be Healthy
This is all encompassing- mental, physical, financial, spiritual. I’m determined to feel good in 2015.

2. Create More
I want to continue to do what I love and make things, create art. But, I also want to dabble in other art forms like writing, wood working, photography, and even cooking.

3. Be Brave
Travel often. Take a leap. Invest in something risky. Take chances. I think 2015 is going to be full of scary changes and I’m going to have to be strong and brave to take the year on and survive it. Today, I feel like I am ready for that challenge!

xoxo
Jovan

As David Bowie might say, “ch-ch-ch-ch-changes”

“I hate change. But, I also hate when things never change.” -Jovan Lottis

I’ve been living a pretty easy life over the last three+ years. I have a good, stable job that I enjoy. I have a modest apartment in a wonderful area of town. I’m healthy, the cat is healthy. It’s all nice, but also a little boring. In 2011, my life got shook up in a crazy way. I ended a seven year relationship, I moved twice, and got a real job. But, since then I’ve kind of been coasting along without too many serious bumps in the road.

I have a big change on the horizon. Probably one of the biggest changes in my life to this point and I’m pretty scared. As you may have read awhile back, I applied to grad school in Calgary, with a pretty high likelihood that I will be accepted. That means… I have to move. I have to leave my nice job and my nice apartment. Leave the comfort of this life and set off for one that I’m not sure will be as good as what I have here. I’ve lived in and around Winnipeg for my whole life, with a short spurt of time in the Caribou mountains of BC. Do I want to leave the familiar?

I fell a little bit in love with an amazing person this summer. He shook me and my life up and I really liked it. I want everyday to feel like that- head all fluttery, smiling when you see their name on your phone. I want to be IN LOVE with my LIFE again, because I haven’t been for a long time now.  I think about what’s really happening here for me- all my close friends have moved away recently, I have one family member living here. I spend the majority of my time working, reading work related literature, watching Netflix, getting drunk with strangers and sometimes bringing one home and hoping he never calls me, or some variation of these things. I’m kinda in a rut and maybe I need this move to shake my life up and bring something great.

There’s more than the one thing leading me to Calgary. There’s something else there that may or may not be good for me- it’s hard to tell. It’s a person who I have an inexplicable bond. I’ve been waiting for a signal, a sign, or a commitment to tell me it’s right. To tell me it’s going to be worth it. Whether I’m going for school or for this person has become blurred. I want to maintain that I’m going for opportunity, to better myself, to make a small difference for ‘have nots’ living in a ‘Have’ City, for adventure, for the Bucket List.

I like to be prepared. I don’t like surprises. I like to envision every possible outcome in situations. But, I just can’t with this one. All I do know is that I don’t want regrets in my life. I’ve recently tried to eliminate regrets from my life by telling people how I feel about them, applying for jobs over my head, saying ‘yes’ to giving lectures and presentations. I don’t want not moving to be one of those things I hate myself for in 10 years. I guess that’s why they call it a “leap of faith”, or maybe it’s more of a U-Haul of faith in this situation. Either way, it’s kind of all I’ve got right now.

Have you ever made a cross-country move? Was it worth it?