Thank you for your many years of service, hard work and dedication, in the face of relentless accusations, slander and misunderstanding.
Thank you for fighting always for women and children, for minorities, for the handicapped, the GLBTQ community and for the vulnerable who require affordable health care.
Thank you for enduring disrespect, insult and threats the like of which no candidate before you has withstood. Thank you for standing your ground with dignity, for holding women to a higher aspiration, a higher purpose.
And now America has spoken. So we must move forward.
Will we forget that glass ceiling? Will we return to complacency, accepting life in second-class land?
Or will we carry that torch forward?
I hope, I pray that this is just one more beginning. One more step along the way.
We woke up on the wrong side of history this morning, in more than one way.
Only time will tell HOW wrongly this history will spin out.
The world has survived worse.
We will rise, dust off our pantsuits, and try again.
Me, I refuse to entertain hatred, fear and bigotry. These are not my touchstones.
My love to all, and best wishes for the coming years.
If you’re a fan of Twitter, you probably noticed the post-Debate trend that began Wednesday evening and remained a top trend throughout Thursday, Oct. 20. Although it’s no longer at the top of the trend-list, it’s still going strong today, and in my humble opinion, it’s one of the funniest things to come out of Twitter ever.
If you haven’t checked it out yet, here are a few of my favourite Tweets (and a couple of my own thrown in for good measure.)
Here at last, folks, is proof positive that the cool kids still love books! And are funny…very funny…
(For the record, I detest the “P” word, the “C” word and the “B” word, every bit as much as decent people hate the “N” word. These are all expressions of hatred, intended to hurt, belittle, dehumanize. But for purposes of this article, I will stick with the vernacular.)
Following the publication of that tape, Mr. Trump vehemently denied he had been boasting about actual instances of sexual assault. He maintains that his statements were nothing more than “locker room banter”, the silly crowing of a man among men, and remember, after all, no one respects women more than he does.
On the heels of his denial came a waterfall of women accusing Mr. Trump of doing exactly what he has denied doing: of kissing and touching them inappropriately and without their consent.
I cannot speak to the validity of their charges. I wasn’t there.
You see, I know first-hand (if you’ll pardon the pun) the ugliness of sexual assault. I understand the pain, the shame, the vile stench it leaves on every aspect of a victim’s life.
It is NOT something you accuse someone of lightly. For anyone who has never suffered this, or been close to a survivor, let me enlighten you: The sheer repulsiveness of the crime is so magnified to the victim that it taints the victim in everything he or she touches.
Much has been said/reported/tweeted about the timing of these allegations. “Why now?” the Trumpets wail, between appalling shouts of “Hey Trump, grab my…” (Sorry, I said it once, I cannot say it again. Just too ugly a word.)
Why after 20, 30 and even 40 years would an alleged victim choose to come forward with a story that should have been told earlier?
And it got me thinking. Is it time?
I’ve been ‘out’ for years as a Survivor of childhood sexual/physical/emotional abuse.
But it wasn’t always that way. For many years I kept the trauma to myself. It wasn’t until 30 years after the assaults began that I started to seek help for my trauma, and for the impact it still had on my life.
At the age of 34 I was clinically depressed, about to end my second marriage, suicidal, sure that I would never succeed at simple happiness and certain that it was all my fault.
(Taking blame is easy for most victims. We absorb shame like sponges, making it difficult to talk about the crimes of others, because in our guts we can’t help feeling we are at fault.)
I had a son, one son at the time, my precious eldest.
Suicidal thoughts were permeating my waking moments, but I knew death was off the table. Who would care for my son? Who would explain to him that his beloved mother didn’t care enough to carry on?
So I sought medical help at last. I began weekly sessions with a psychiatrist, submitted to taking 6 month’s worth of anti-depressants, and committed to finally speaking openly about my past.
And not only the ugliness of my childhood. There was more. Predators exist not only within our families, but also in the outside world. And young girls and women, especially those who’ve been damaged by reprehensible childhoods, are easy prey.
I talked about it all. I was encouraged to confront my parents with it, but I never could do that. But at least I was finally talking about it, in all its brutal gore.
Still, it was another 15 years before I could touch on the subject publicly.
My family have always been aware — my doctor made it clear to me that silence was the enemy. Truth begets happiness and light. So I’ve never buried this past with my immediate family.
But I was more than 50 years old before I started talking — really talking — openly about these truths.
So I understand the desire for silence. I understand the feeling that no one will care, or worse, they will blame the victim. It has all been done to me, much more so than I could ever say.
I’ve lost friends, family members have turned on me, I’ve been accused of hurting my mother, of soiling the memory of the parents I loved. I’ve been dismissed as a liar, as wanting attention.
And worst of all, I’ve seen the awkward looks of the people I’ve confided in, felt the ugliness of it all from their perspective and known they would prefer if I simply shut up about it.
And here’s the real kicker: When a Survivor decides to move on, to bring joy into their own life, just to see what that is like, they are met with resistance, further punished for the crimes of others.
People look at us as if we can’t possibly be decent parents, carrying the baggage that we lug around every day.
And yet, if I had decided not to have children, that would have robbed me of the greatest joy I’ve ever known.
I refused to be punished to that degree for someone else’s crimes.
My wonderful children are everything to me, and they know how much they are loved.
So go ahead, keep asking the question #WhyWomenDontReport .
And we, women, men and children who have been victims of sexual violence and who have survived, we will keep on answering.
Your comments are welcome. Tell your story of why women don’t report in the fields below.
On this day, at almost exactly this very moment 15 years ago, our world changed forever.
The following is a commemorative post I wrote on September 11, 2011. I’d like to re-share it with you today:
Like most adults, I woke today filled with memories of that other morning, ten years ago, almost to the moment.
It had been a period of loss for our family. First my mother, unexpectedly at the age of 69 in early 2000. Next a dear aunt, then another — sisters of my mother. Then, on September 3, 2001, my husband Alex lost a beloved aunt, followed the very next day, September 4, by his father, Donald Carrick.
We returned to work on the morning of Monday, September 11 after a week of funerals. Already saddened, but relieved, at least, to put the heaviest of our grief behind us and get back to our normal routines.
It was just past 9 am. My office phone rang. It was one of my staff, a young lady, calling to say she would be a little late. “But Donna,” she added, “there’s something wrong in New York City. I don’t know what, but something’s happened at The Towers.”
I won’t pretend her first words chilled me. I had no idea, after all, what they meant. But her next sentences gave me pause. “It’s really scary,” she said. “Everything here is too quiet. There are no planes in the air — none.”
I put the phone down. I work for a major media organization, and at that time we were still connected with Canwest at the 1450 Don Mills Road building. I ran from my office on the 2nd floor up a half flight toward the big news screen on the 3rd floor.
Within moments, almost 200 of my friends and co-workers had joined me. In absolute silence we watched the newsman as he struggled to make sense of the first impact. He, and we, thought it must have been an accident. He spoke in reverence, pausing to find the right words. Clearly it was not a typical news report. He was just a guy with a microphone and a camera, trying to tell the world what had happened.
And then, before our eyes, in one flash of horror, the unthinkable occurred. The second plane. As he spoke, facing the camera, behind his head we saw it pass, turn, and collide with the second tower.
And we all knew.
There was no cry of horror in our building. No stifled collective gasp — no outrage spoken in words.
There was only a deep, unbroken silence as the knowledge flooded us.
During the days that followed our hearts broke time and again, with each new discovery, each fresh image that was presented to us. We were filled with an unprecedented grief, and a love for our brothers and sisters in New York City.
The phrase “Ground Zero” came into our language. But we know the damage of that day was not isolated to the towers. Not at all. Its impact ripples to this day through the hearts and minds of people everywhere. None are left untouched.
So here we are in Canada on a beautiful Toronto morning. What has changed in our world?
Ten years have come…and gone. A heightened sense of security worldwide has restricted our freedoms in ways we might never have imagined. We’ve suffered suspicion… against our neighbours, from our neighbours. Friendships have grown, or have been set aside. Babies have been born, and loved ones have died.
But that moment, standing with hundreds of my co-workers, friends all, entrenched in the silent horror of first awareness, before even the newsman knew for sure…..
…that was a pivotal moment.
A moment that cannot be erased, nor can it be trivialized, nor should it ever be.
All that has come to pass since that day has been acted on an altered stage.
And now, ten years later, we still seek peace. Too elusive. Too vague a concept. Our global psyche too cluttered with offenses given and received, too filled with suspicion and hatred. Forgive us our trespasses, as we will forgive those who trepass….
Instead of a day committed to reliving that horror, as if anyone could or would ever forget, I pray we will dedicate this day to seeking peaceful solutions to our differences.
That’s my fervent wish on this day, ten years to the moment later.
September 11, 2011
Freedom’s just another word…
But it’s a mouthful, isn’t it?
Most of us are driven to chase that elusive intangible.
Some measure of conformity is a necessary cornerstone of our daily lives. After all, we don’t keep our jobs by dancing naked on the desk, or by slipping whoopee cushions onto the boss’s chair, as much as we might like to.
But in our creative minds, we are truly free.
Whether we write, paint, dance, sing or knit — our creations belong to us, the creators, and we can shape them to fit our vision.
Of course, freedom is something we must never take for granted. In the face of uncertain times, it becomes even more important to flex our creative muscles.
Freedom is like your carried-forward vacation days: you gotta use it or lose it, baby!
Here’s to fresh ideas and the courage to bring them to life!
It resurrects the memory of Au Claire de la Lune.
(At least this is the way we children learned the folk song of unknown origin, though Wikipedia offers a more adult version of the lyric.)
“Good Pierre, I beg you,
In the moonlight bright,
Your quill pen to lend me,
For I long to write.
“Burnt out is my candle,
And my fire’s out too.
Good Pierre, I beg you,
Let me in, pray do.”
Since I was a child, these words and their haunting melody have claimed a room in my soul.
I’ve been inhabited by the image of the haggard writer — no candle, no fire, seeking warmth and light by which to continue his mission.
She is my silver muse, my inkwell, my inspiration.
It’s been too long since this writer snuffed out candle to bask in the dream-weaving radiance of a lunar swell.
I wonder what strange characters and nefarious deeds might be conjured up ‘neath her sublime countenance.
I wasn’t going to blog about this.
After all, it’s just one of those strange cosmic coincidences, the kind we all experience at one time or another.
Memories of a wild child, defined by a heartbeat in time.
I had planned to slot it into the mental file marked “Well, all-rightie then” and leave it at that.
But the cosmos wouldn’t allow me to ignore it. The morning after I’d made my decision to let it slide, that song, the one I’m talking about, by Wild Cherry, came on the radio. Yup. Just like that, coincidence was compounded by coincidence, forcing me to pay attention.
So here’s my story, for what it’s worth…
As many of my readers know, I was emancipated (left home) at the age of fifteen.
In those days, the local pubs were not overly cautious about serving liquor to minors. Most didn’t ask for ID, and didn’t look too closely if it was flashed in front of them.
On or near my 16th birthday, my then fiancé and a group of friends took me out to the El Mocambo.
(At least I believe it was my 16th birthday. I’ve tried to support my memory by fact-checking, but have had no luck. So let’s go with my memory for now, until it’s proven wrong…)
In the El Mo of my memory, that Spring night, a band I cannot recall was playing hits by Wild Cherry. I remember being thrilled when they launched into “Play That Funky Music (White Boy)”, which was an epic smash at the time.
And there was dancing, and singing…
So there was yours truly, drinking underage with my soon-to-be first husband and grooving to that funky music with a packed house.
(As you read on, you’ll see what a tribute it is to the genius and staying power of Rob Parissi and Wild Cherry, the fact they’ve been able to touch our lives for so very long…)
Fast forward 40 years.
Last weekend, on Feb. 6, my husband Alex and I got all poshed up for a gala dinner/dance event at the Liberty Grand, hosted by Ellis Don and the TCA.
The food and company were stellar, as was the wine.
Then came the after-dinner dancing. Alex and I made our way to the floor.
When what to my wondering ears should appear, but that same old song?
Yup, that’s right. Hubby and I found ourselves “grooving to the music”, as the event’s band revved up with “Play That Funky Music” by Wild Cherry.
And I couldn’t help but think: All right, now I know I’ve come full circle. If I die tonight, I’ll know I’ve lived, and on my own terms, always feeling the beat of life.
I don’t know why it struck me this way. Maybe it’s because that night 40 years ago was a defining one for me, and the memory of it stands in sharp contrast to my older, more mellow self.
Maybe it’s because, under the mellow, and under the wisdom, there still resides, deep in my soul, the rebel, the individualist, the renegade who will not say uncle to life.
Somewhere in my soul that wild child rocks on…
FOOTNOTE: When I was researching for this story, I had originally mistakenly thought the El Mo had actually featured the band Wild Cherry that night.
Thanks to the kind help of Rob Parissi, band leader and songwriter, I was able to establish they never did play in Toronto.
Believe me, I wish they had!
Also, I credit the crazy energy of bands like this for the wonderful musical talent and love our two sons have been able to nurture in their lives.