Marie Talks: That Class I Did Not Need

One day in grade nine I thought missing one day of a class wouldn’t hurt. It wasn’t a particularly important class, an elective if I remember correctly, and I would rather spend the time goofing off with my friends. It was a fun time we sat around talking and laughing, then when next block came around off I went to my next class. It seemed harmless at the time but then the opportunity came around again and it was easier to say yes and not attend my class. It became easier and easier to justify not going to class. I already had a reason whether it was that I was already ahead in that class, it wasn’t a important class like math or English, or even that I wasn’t missing enough and I could do the work at home.

Grade nine I missed a couple classes, not enough to put me behind though, and I still passed my classes. It wasn’t until grade ten that things started slipping, when cutting class was nothing to bat an eye about and had dodging school officials down to a science. I did not see the big deal, I could make it up next class.. which I didn’t always end up attending. By the end of the year I had failed a good chunk of my classes, and had to retake them the following year.

 All summer I told myself that I would get my act together and actually attend my classes and put the effort in. However that quickly changed and by November I was easily averaging the same amount of time skipping as I did actually attending my classes. By the end of that year I was probably leaning towards having actually skipped more classes then I had attended, and was no where near actually catching up. 

The following year I attended barely any classes and ended up being expelled from school in April. I had given up that year and it was painstakingly obvious. That next fall I had enrolled in a different school and although I attended more classes and was actually getting more work done, it didn’t work out for me.

Now with that being said I am not implying that if you skip class once you will automatically progress into utter failure as I did, I am stating what my choices landed me. I had a lot going on through those years and I did not handle it very well. Some people will skip a class or two here and there and will still average very high marks throughout their classes, and some will skim by. I made some bad decisions and am now living with the consequences of my actions.

To this day I am still finding things that are being affected by the decisions I made as a teen. The decision that impacts me the most is my choice to not attend and further more not complete high school. It has lowered my confidence in myself and hindered my job options just to name a few things that my decisions have lead me to. 

Before you skip class, whether for the first time or the twentieth, please remember that it does affect your schooling. You can potentially miss an important piece of information or a in class assignment, it impacts your attendance record, and skipping really does not have any positive impact in the long run.

Stay Proud. Stay Loud. Stay You.

Marie Olsson  

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Dear Marie

Dear Self,

I know you are hurting, and have been for a very long time. I want you to know that it’s ok to hurt. I know that a lot of people have hurt you over the years, and that in dealing with that you hurt yourself. You made choices that affected your future and you put the blame on yourself when it shouldn’t have been there. I watch you day after day let the hurt that is inside you influence your decisions, and I need you to let it go.

Let go of the pain caused by being bullied in elementary school, it’s far behind you now. In fact you have made amends with most of your bullies, most questions have been answered, and you’ve grown from it. You have learnt many things from those eight years, academically and about yourself as well as those around you. So let that go, it’s been a decade, don’t let that hurt spend one second longer lingering around.
Move past all those failed relationships and all the nasty words flung into the air, you know many of them don’t hold any real footing. Let go of all of the downs, and don’t dwell on the goods.

What I am asking of you is to dig deep down into that hurt and let everything go. I know this is not an easy thing to ask and it’s going to hurt, which makes it hard to ask anyone to do so. I need you to believe me, to have faith in yourself, that in the end the results will be worth it. You don’t need to carry around the burden of old guilt and hurt. So look deep inside and work through all that hurt sitting heavy on your heart piece by piece. Work out why it hurts and what it taught you, focus on that and not the pain. You do not need to forget what happened or forgive the person, but let it go and let it be no more than a stone in the road to the person you are today. Look inside yourself and try and answer those loose ends and unanswered questions, to put the hurt to rest.

Most of all I need you to understand that some things are not your fault, don’t victim blame yourself. Some one did something horrible to you and you never asked them to do so, you are not responsible for their actions. You did not consent to their actions, and there was nothing you could do to stop it. You were sexually assaulted; that person took from you something they were not meant to take, that you tried to stop them from taking. You can not put blame on yourself, there’s nothing you could do to prevent it. Even more so, you need to let it go because there is nothing you can do now to change the events that happened. Please forgive your self, as if you can’t do that how can you be happy?

Sincerely,

Marie Olsson

Marie Talks: The Power of No: Elementary Edition

Warning: talks about sexual assault

“Let today mark a new beginning for you. Give yourself permission to say NO without feeling guilty, mean, or selfish. Anybody who gets upset and/or expects you to say YES all of the time clearly doesn’t have your best interest at heart. Always remember: You have a right to say NO without having to explain yourself. Be at peace with your decisions.” –Stephanie Lahart

As a child I was taught to never be afraid of saying ‘no’, that the person will respect you and that word.  I was told that at any point I had the right to say no if for any reason I was against something, and I should say no and stick to that answer.  To me that seems like a straight forward word, and a pretty easy set of boundaries to follow when using the word. Personally, I never expected the rules and boundaries to change as I got older; however the older I got the more rules and fears began to accompany the word no. As the years went by more rules were placed on the word, and little by little the apprehension I had towards it grew.

Starting in elementary school the realization came that saying no was not quite as easy as it seemed. To begin with how do you tell someone ‘no’ without coming off rude or hurt the persons feelings? It was as though there was a science behind how to politely say no. Then came the disappointment, persuasion, and sometimes harsh words. That no matter why I said ‘no’ it was endlessly questioned or it wasn’t always taken so nicely. That taught that ‘no’ wasn’t a nice thing to say or that it could hurt people. What this taught me about the word no was to weigh the pros and cons of saying no and choose which path would hurt both parties the least.

I also learnt that even if something seemed wrong to me I could not always say ‘no’, particularly when a teacher or other authority figure asked something of me. Things such as dissections, sitting next to the person who bullied me, or doing those trust exercises when I didn’t want to be touched. It taught me that although something is against my morals/beliefs or I’m not ok with it I don’t always have a choice and have to do it because it’s expected of me. To be honest as a child this confused me, I questioned why [for instance] my teacher had the ‘right’ to disregard my wishes and my ‘comfort level’. What this taught me was that I had to pick and choose my ‘battles’ and that there were certain people (those with authority) who I could not refuse to do what they asked of me. However if the authority figure said no we had to comply with their wishes.

Around the age of seven I went camping in the summer right after my birthday with my daycare.  It was there that I learnt probably the hardest lesson about saying no I ever would: when saying no people don’t always listen. I was forced into an empty room in the cabin against my wishes by a much older boy. He tried kissing me and despite saying no repeatedly I still ended up in this room with him. While I was saying no and trying to get around him he managed to pin me to one of the bunk beds. He did end up getting the kiss he tried for, as well as my bathing suit top off. I managed to get him off me as he went for my bottoms and escaped the room. I was shaken, parts of my body had been touched and seen against my will and my words and actions had been ignored. I never told anyone as I thought it would put me in trouble with my daycare and with him, I was in the wrong, and I would be seen as overreacting or lying. The lesson I learnt was not only that people don’t always listen to you when you say no, they can also ignore the non-verbal display of noncompliance.

Things I had learnt about the word no by the time I was thirteen:
1. To weigh the pros and cons of saying no and choose which path would hurt both parties the least.
2. To pick and choose my ‘battles’ and that there were certain people (those with authority) who I could not refuse to do what they asked of me.
3. However if the authority figure said no we had to comply with their wishes.
4. That people don’t always listen to you when you say no, they can also ignore the non-verbal display of noncompliance.

Do you have any rules or boundaries you have learnt or been taught about using the word no? I would love to hear them.

Stay Loud, Stay Proud, Stay You,
Marie Olsson xx

Marie Talks: Things I wish I was told about Sexual Assault

Trigger warning: talking about sexual abuse/assault and rape.

Growing up you don’t hear much about sexual assault , at least not about the stuff that really matters. I see a lot about how it wouldn’t have happened if the victim did this or didn’t do that. I hear a lot of people telling victims they’re lying, that it’s not sexual assault , or they provoked it. What I don’t see a lot of is people supporting the victims and making their life a little easier by just making them feel safe to talk to someone about what happened.

Here are a few things growing up I wish I had heard about sexual assault and rape:

1) It is never the victims fault.
No matter what the situation it is still not their fault. Even if they were fine while kissing and touching but then changed their mind and wanted to stop, it’d not their fault.
Times when it’s not the victims fault:

  • they never wanted it
  • they are drunk or under the influence of any substance
  • they are showing skin, and when they aren’t
  • they changed their mind
  • it was their boyfriend
  • etc.

Times when it is the victims fault:

  • never.

2) It doesn’t matter how you are dressed
Whether you are covered in clothing all the way from your chin to your toes or you are absolutely naked you are still not at fault and can be sexually assaulted. If the amount of clothing or lack of clothing made you a target then sexual assault could be solved by covering up; however that is not the case as even in the winter sexual assault still happens. The assailant does not choose their target necessarily on attractiveness and lack of clothing, they go after someone who is an easy target. More often this means the person is under the influence of alcohol or drugs, in an isolated or dark area, or someone that trusts them.

3) The assailant is not always a stranger
Yes they can be a stranger but your assailant is just as likely to be someone you know. Whether it is a coworker, your best friend, your boyfriend/girlfriend, a classmate, or a family member they can be your assailant and it still is assault.

  • It is still assault if you are or have been intimate with the person. Giving them consent once does not give them free reign to be intimate with you whenever they want to be.

4) Everyone can be a victim
Boy, girl, man, woman, mother, or teacher can be sexually assaulted. Just because you wouldn’t expect them to be assaulted. They are just as much a victim no matter their relationship with their assailant, their gender, or their ‘title’.

5) Sexual assault does not make you dirty, slutty, worthless or take away your value as a person
As a victim you may feel this way, but sexual assault does not make you any of these things. What happened does not take away your worth as a human, you are just as valuable as you were before your assault. You are still the same person, just something horrible happened to you. You are not dirty or slutty, you had no control over what happened to you and you should not let what happened have control over you. The only title your sexual assault gave you is a victim, a survivor.

6) After being raped or sexually assaulted you should report it. 
Reporting it can be a tedious and stressful thing to do. However it can be beneficial to do so, along with getting a full STD/STI testing done. There are many organizations such as Surrey Women’s Centre (Surrey, BC, Canada) that can offer their support through this process.

Stay Beautiful Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx

Marie Talks: The use of Gay or Lesbian as an insult

It’s been approximately five years since I have been in public school. I don’t know how much things have changed over the years, however using ‘gay’ or ‘lesbian’ as an insult is still very much present (at least in the cyber world) I have noticed. This idea that being told you are doing something that labels you as ‘gay’ and it being used to hurt you is ten steps backward from everything society has been working towards for years.  When I was going to school I had this bully, lets call him Smith, and he would try to do or say anything that would get under my skin. One of Smith’s ‘go-to insults’ was calling me a lesbian. I didn’t understand why he thought this would hurt me, as I didn’t see what was wrong about a female liking another female. Plus, I am bisexual, I do like women and I am not ashamed of liking women. However I saw the hurt in some of my friends eyes when he would make the same comment about them.

Eventually I asked one of my friends, lets call her Beth, why being called a lesbian bothered her, and her answer made me understand why this term could hurt someone. See when someone called me a lesbian it didn’t phase me because it was true, I like women. Albeit not just women, I liked men too which made me bisexual, it didn’t have the same impact on me as it could on a straight female. Beth explained to me that the term lesbian hurt her because she felt that the term implied she was unattractive to male’s, something she’s struggled with feeling like for years. That it meant she was a person only another female could love. Being called a lesbian to her also implied that she was not feminine, and that she should be ashamed of these things.

Using the word lesbian as a way to offend a female can hurt, just like how using the term gay can hurt a male. It’s too easy to label a man as gay if he has a more feminine side, he’s a bit ‘off’ in your eyes, he’s ‘weak’, or he’s easily putt off/scared. What people seem to not care about is when using the term it doesn’t just affect the person you’re calling it, it affects the people around you too. Im not saying any form of bullying is alright but why cant you say what you mean instead of morphing a word to mean everything that is an insult, when the word does not mean any of that.

Now one thing I have always been against is anything that makes another person feel unworthy or inadequate. Whether it is to make them feel unworthy of love, attention, or the credit they are due. Or making a person feel like they don’t try hard enough, are not ‘normal’ or something is wrong with them. Which is exactly what using LGBT terms as insults does to a person, both someone whose being targeted with these labels and someone who identifies with the them, which is not cool at all.

Every time a person uses the word gay or lesbian as an insult you are telling another human that what they are is wrong, bad and something to be ashamed of. You’re promoting someone to hide who they are and to hide their feelings towards another human. You are making people feel unsafe, helping contributing to their fears and insecurities. You are not only hurting the person you are calling gay/lesbian but also a whole community of people who identify with the term.

Now not only are gay/lesbian an insult when used in an demeaning manner but so are all the other slang or identifiers. This includes words like butch, queer, and fag etc. We need to put an end to using terms to describe who you love as a way to demean and belittle others. We need to put an end to looking down on the LGBTQ2IA community and embrace them. We need to end bullying in any capacity. We need to embrace people for their differences and love (and support) each other. We need to help others feel accepted and learn to love themselves.

Gay is not an insult. We need to work together to put an end to this out dated point of view.

To finish this off I’ll add my final thought:

If being called Straight isn’t an insult, why is Gay or Lesbian? They’re all terms to describe what gender the person has romantic feelings towards. Feelings that are natural and we don’t have much control over.

Stay Loud, Stay Proud Lovies,
Marie Olsson xx

Madison: Stereotypes of Child Abuse

Child Abuse

Here’s the definition of child abuse from dictionary.com

Child Abuse: mistreatment of a child by a parent or guardian, including neglect, beating, and sexual molestation.

When it comes to child abuse this topic always makes me angry, some people say that’s because I am a mother, but honestly it doesn’t matter. No child should be put in that kind of situation nor have to watch someone else go through it. Through my child hood I went through some stuff that I hope none of mine have to go through, but I was lucky in a sense that none of the abuse came from either of my parents nor any adult in my family. Today I’m going to be going through some different stereotypes about child abuse.

Stereotype

· There will be physical evidence of abuse.
> That is not always the case, when it comes to verbal, emotional or even physical abuse they are not always shown. Sad to say but more times than not emotional scars can do more damage than physical ones.

· Most child abusers are strangers.
> This is a very common stereotype that is false. When it comes to child abuse a majority of the abuse comes from a person from which the child already trusts and respects. That does not mean assume everyone you know is abusing your child or make your child fear everyone, that is not what I’m saying, but it is something to keep an eye on. A lot of child abductions are mostly from people the child already knows and trusts. My mother was always in fear of this, so we came up with a safe word, so any time she sent someone to come pick me up beside her or my grandfather they would have to tell me the safe word (password) before I’d be allowed to go with them. Lucky for me I never had to use it but it’s always a good idea to be safer rather than sorry. Also communication is key, my mother was always planning a head and letting us know who and when someone different was picking us up.

· Children usually tell someone that they are being abused
> Most children will not tell people they are being abused, because out of fear or threats or even respect. No matter what the cause children will still love their parent/abuser, just not the abuse. Children are very smart but they don’t fully know right from wrong until we show them the difference, and their innocence is sometimes what is keeping their mouth shut because we don’t know what goes on behind closed doors.
That brings me to my next topic discipline. This topic is a tricky one especially when it comes with abuse. One thing to remember is every parent is different, but by law there is still a line that is drawn. I for one do not like to spank my son but I will if he is putting himself or others in danger, and in all honestly he just turned five in April and I think I’ve spanked him a total of 4 times. I am more the time outs, kind of parent but even though they break my heart. Discipline is hard for all parties but yes it needs to be done, but make sure to do the research before you accidentally cross a line. Because I want to believe no one wants to hurt their children and yes things sometimes happen when tempers fly high but remember we are in this together, everyone makes mistake we are human. When I mess up and I do, (hahaha more times than not but hey), I just remove myself, calm myself and address the situation accordingly, then I show my son my love with lot of hugs and apologies. It’s also showing are children that we as adult still make mistakes and it’s not a bad thing, and it helps everyone be more accountable for their actions.

Thanks everyone for reading, I’d love to hear Question, Concerns, Answer, Statements, anything you want to through at me in the comment section below.

“The world is a dangerous place, not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing.” – Albert Einstein

~Madison Taylor

Madison: Stereotypes of Youth Homelessness

There are sadly lots of stereotypes around youth homelessness. So fist like always I’ll give you the definition of homelessness from dictionary.com.
Homelessness: “persons who lack permanent housing.”
Stereotypes/Myths
All homeless youth are heavy drug users;

As a youth worker I work with a lot of homeless youth. I say about 80% of the youth I’ve encountered haven’t even touched any drugs or smoke weed in their spare time. A lot of the youth I’ve worked with are really good kids just in a bad situation. Just like the homeless adult not all of them are on drugs.

There can’t be a homeless crisis because I don’t see that many youth living on the streets or in parks;

​That’s because not many youth do, they either try for a shelter, a friend’s house or somewhere isolated and can’t be found. It’s safer for them that way. Because some youth are only 14 when they go to the streets it’s not safe for them to be out in the open sleeping, they would be an open target that way. Also just because you can’t see a crisis happening around you doesn’t mean it’s not going on. There is a lot more homeless then we think out there and not enough resources to help.

MOST ARE RUNAWAYS;

​Very few of the homeless youth population are runaways otherwise a missing person report would be filled and the youth would be brought home. Most youth are either custody of the ministry or have been kicked out of their homes. Most runaways only stay out for a couple of days and then return home 2-5 days later and never really become homeless. Because there is still a home for them to go back to, which sadly some youth don’t have and find safety in a shelter or with a friend.

Homeless youth are scruffy, smelly, criminals who couldn’t care less about their communities;

​Most youth who are homeless aren’t, most still attend school and some even have part time jobs to help pay for their necessities. But yes some youth who can’t find shelter will tend to be a bit scruffy or smelly. But just like other youth they still do care about there hygiene, because hey who wants to go up to their friends smelling like a pig. Most youth will respect the community as long as the community stops putting negative stigmas on the youth. As a youth myself I’d walk into a store and I’d have the cashier either tell me to leave and to come back with an adult or follow me around the store until I left. I myself worked 6 days a week I had the money to buy what I wanted but because I was a youth I was automatically a thief and could not be trusted. I remember once when I was 13 my mom asked me to pick up the groceries while she went across the street to get gas. The cashier made me empty my purse and pockets before she would ring in anything, I was shocked, my mom gave me a $100 for 4 things if I wanted something I would of just bought it, the bill only came to $35. Let’s just say my dad started screaming when he found out and they tried to tell him it was protocol.

I hope you guys liked my blog. Leave a comment down below if you have any questions or comments. I love hearing from you guys.

“Nothing is impossible; the word itself says ‘I’m possible’!”
-By Audrey Hepburn

-Madison Taylor

Education For Educators On Mental Health -Marie Olsson

“Kids are falling through the cracks and nobody notices it. That to me is what’s wrong with the school system.” – Melinda Gates

The educational system is rich in topics for us to learn: English, math, science, etc.; however it is lacking in the education on learning disorders and mental health for the school staff.  School can be difficult for youth as it is, which can be heightened further with undiagnosed issues or educators not understanding how they affect a student’s learning process. I believe if educators had a higher level of training in understanding how learning disabilities and (at least the most) common mental health diagnoses affect how one learns and/or focuses, along with how to spot them it could make learning easier for the youth that are struggling.

When I was in school I was going to see a therapist and I had fairly regular appointments, which unfortunately meant I had to leave early from class those days to make the appointment. The teacher I had that block was very understanding on the matter; however my vice principal was not as lenient. My vice principal one day pulled me into her office wanting to know where I went when I had to leave early, to which I responded honestly telling her I went to see a therapist and where my appointments were. From there she went on to demand to know who they were with and wanting to speak to them.  When I told her that she had no need to know that information, she threatened me with expulsion. For  her to talk with my therapist I would have to first give my therapist permission to talk with her, which I was not comfortable with. My vice principal pulled up the page of therapists who worked at the facility I was going to and was trying to figure out which one I was seeing, she went as far as to try and contact all of them, I felt like all my rights were taken from me at that moment. My parents were dragged into this mess that was created and it went from ugly to worse.

At the time I had not been officially diagnosed with anything specific besides ADHD, we were still working on diagnosing what we now know is bipolar type II but at the time had just labeled as depression. This is information I was not very willing to share with many people, nor was it of anyone else’s concern at the time, as it was not impacting my learning besides having to leave early from class. However it got me thinking that if that is how my vice principal handled my situation how would they handle another student struggling with a mental disorder. My vice principal’s blatant disrespect for the confidentiality between a therapist and client concerned me; how would they handle a similar or worse situation with another student.  Their careless, insensitive, and under educated approach to the matter could cause a lot of unneeded stress and damage to someone’s mental state.

When it comes to one’s mental health and how others actions affect the person dealing with a mental disorder it can feel like you’re running through a mine field if you are not fully aware of what repercussions your actions can bring.  Which is why I think the educators should be well educated on not only mental health but also the legal boundaries surrounding mental health. Whether or not a student wants to share that they are struggling with their mental health, the people we put in charge of their education should be fully aware of what boundaries (legal or personal) they cannot cross and fully equipped to help their student’s excel even if they are struggling with their mental health.

No one should be alone when they need someone there the most.  Sometimes having a teacher put the effort in making sure you have the tools you need to succeed makes the difference between graduating or not.

Stay Strong. Stay Brave. Keep Fighting Lovies,

Marie Olsson xx