Author Archives: Jennifer Chandler

The Consequences Of Being Seen And Not Heard

The Consequences Of Being Seen And Not Heard

When I was a child there were strict rules around when to speak and when not to speak. Expressing opinion was not encouraged and how I felt was not considered relevant. I remember when company would visit I had no involvement in conversations unless asked to do so.

The intention was to teach discipline and respect which I’m sure at the time seemed liked a good idea but was that all there was to the message? It should be pointed out that this silence was imposed by my mother and she followed the teachings of her father.

I’ve spoken to many women over the years, professionally and personally,  who confess they didn’t have a voice in their own home. I have yet to meet a man who would say the same. Lately this topic surfaced again and that made me think, What are the consequences of such silence?

Whether we see it as a simple proverb,  a gender specific directive, a culturally accepted request or whatever, to be seen and not heard is not healthy.

I wouldn’t doubt that growing up without an appreciation of your voice, opinion or presence is why so many people find it difficult in the workplace to confidently advocated for themselves or verbally contribute in a way that would demonstrate their skills.

Within group settings I have had participants who experienced a visible or invisible reaction to the mere sound of their own voice. Later they shared with me why that it is so difficult to contribute to topics even though they want to  and so many times its attributed to learned silence.

This also doesn’t bode well for intimate relationships. People who have been conditioned to be seen and not heard often can be prey for abusive or highly dominant partners. That lack of voice as a child may create unsafe situations in adulthood.

There is hope and resources.

As a former “to been seen and not heard kid”, I look back on what helped me develop my communication skills and confidence.

  1. Mentors and good friends – people demonstrated to me the value of self-expression and how to develop MY voice.
  2. I reluctantly put myself in situations that had me use my voice and I reaped the benefits of learning.
  3. I forgave my mother for her role in passing along this opinion by recognizing her father and societies imprint was strongly influential.
  4. I protect my voice from those that seem to want to silence or overpower it and encourage others to do the same. You Are To Be Seen AND Heard
  5. I found an outlet for my voice in singing and writing. Creative expression might help you to find your voice.

Resource: Toastmasters Club is an international organization that can be very helpful in building confidence and your voice. Check them out.

How Terrorism Made Me Feel Guilty

How Terrorism Made Me Feel Guilty

First Manchester’s concert now Kabul’s diplomatic area, targets hit by terrorists within weeks of each other. With every attack that has happened over the years I see images, hear stories and then I run a spectrum of emotions that are likely common for us all. But lately one emotion is standing out over the others – it’s called Guilt.

I wonder if I’m the only one who feels a sense of guilt for the many of moments of joy I felt today when I know others are crying. My biggest problem in the hours that just past was how to fit in time to practice scales for singing lessons. I washed sheets today and it is with great pleasure that this body will lay in a cozy bed next to my husband on those fresh sheets.

Outside my window people are walking and driving by because it is safe to do so. The fire truck drove past without sirens blaring – probably on a little run around the neighbourhood – no emergency.  I made sure there was fresh water for the birds outside and threw peanuts out for squirrels because nature is worth preserving. We’ll have pizza tonight made from fresh ingredients we bought at our local stores, I might have a glass of wine.

It is with all of this in mind and more that my guilt grows. I had a day that will likely not be memorable to me over time but for others in this world it will be a day they will never forget.

Wounded Elephant Crushes Trophy Hunter – Karma?

Wounded Elephant Crushes Trophy Hunter – Karma?

A friend of mine told me about the story of a trophy hunter by the name of Thuenis Botha. She had seen pictures of him and his various trophy kills on Facebook but the story she wanted to share with me was about him being crushed by an elephant. It was hard for either of us to have any sympathy for him and in fact we both felt his death was just karma.

Story: Wounded Elephant Crushes and Kills Trophy Hunter

I sponsor elephants in Kenya through The David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust so you can’t expect me to care for someone who knowingly goes out to harm them. For the life of me I will never understand the mindset of someone who kills a living being for sport.

The only thing I can figure is that this type of human being is at the lower end of the intelligence spectrum meaning that things boil down to a simplistic understanding of their world. They have little regard for the impact they are having on species and the environment. I also believe this type of person is obsessed with self, lacks compassion for other beings and only feels powerful when he/she can kill a defenseless animal. It is a sport based on status, a pissing contest of sorts that allows for bragging rights at the end. Useless, absolutely useless.

Make no mistake this is big business and, as we have seen in the past, extinction of animals is entirely possible when things are left to greedy hunters and corrupt governments. Hiding behind words like conservation and land management people like Mr. Botha see money through the barrel of their gun.

My mind returns to this elephant that likely saved her herd from further threat. She died in a way that if we were talking about a human being we would have called her brave. Just like a human her instinct was to protect her family and like humans her family will grieve the loss. And that’s another thing…

I find it puzzling that we like to think of ourselves as so superior and believe we are the only species that has the capacity to evolve – to become sentient beings. If we were capable of going from blobs of cells, to walking upright, establishing communication, creating family units and so on, why do we assume other species are not evolving too?

By studying other species in the wild, like primates, elephants and cetaceans, we have learned more about their evolution, intelligence, feelings and the many traits we share. One common thing in all of us is the need to protect those we care about.

Yes, I feel absolutely a sense of calm when I say Mr. Botha’s death was a good one. I don’t see his career as a big game hunter as something that should be aspired to or protected.

The grief I feel is for the elephant family that will never forget one of their own.

It is time to end trophy hunting and call it like it is— a cowardly, barbaric act in the name of sport.

 

Politics and Women Hating Women

Politics and Women Hating Women

News Flash: Just because we are women doesn’t mean we share the same brain or hold one common political belief system – but some ill-informed people might think we do.

When Marine Le Pen of France lost the French presidential election and Hillary Clinton failed to become the President of the United States you could hear and read opinions that centered around women who didn’t support these candidates. What followed were statements like, Women Against Women, Women Hate Other Women, Women Beware Women.

I get so v-e-r-y tired of this BS.

Informed people, regardless of their gender, vote based primarily on their personal values. They protest or support causes that directly impact their life, work, community or country. It is entirely possible to take a vagina or penis out of the equation and simply set out to elect a leader.

Now, follow me on this one because it might be hard for some of you who believe that a woman is against women if she doesn’t vote for one….GROW UP!!!

In an attempt to move us further away from divisive and simplistic comments about women I would like to offer this:

  1. There is no one size fits all Feminist and there never is a one size fits all female candidate
  2. Women are smart too and capable of making an informed choice
  3. They think, live, eat, dress, pray, dream, compete, believe, educate, plan and vote differently
  4. The myth that women hate other women continues but it remains without merit. If anything, one should look closer at men’s hatred for other men – especially related to stats on male on male violence. A point of fact: There are examples that both men and women don’t treat each other well
  5. The longer we keep separating women out politically and setting up narratives that pit women against women, the further we are from any form of unity or civility

So, is it a little clearer?

If I vote for a man, that doesn’t mean I gave up my membership to womanhood. If I protest against a leader – who happens to be a woman – that doesn’t  mean I hate her or that I’m against women, I simply don’t agree with the parties’ policies.

The Power of Learning

The Power of Learning

For many of us who have been in our fields for a long time it is possible to become complacent and feel as if we’ve seen or know it all. It is for these very reasons that I feel compelled to put myself in situations where I can challenge or affirm my understanding of our world, the role of work or establishing why we are the way we are.

In the last year I have participated in three very powerful events that impacted my work and to be quite honest also influenced my perception of people, resources and tools that are often associated with the helping professions – including my own.

At times I feel like a child who is learning something new and I am so proud to have grasped the concept. Other times what I’m participating in causes me to reevaluate so much of what I thought I knew.

In my experience the times when I felt the power of learning so profoundly was when I registered for things that appeared to be beyond my expertise. Sticking within my own wheelhouse is comforting as I can expand on what I know already and feel affirmed by my right answers. But, when I put myself outside of my familiar zone that’s a whole other sensory experience.

In the last year I have had three mind opening events come my way that I am grateful for and I want to share this with you.

The first was an online symposium on Translating Aboriginal Traditions to Employment. Without going into the specifics I just want to share how hearing the stories of those that participated impacted me not only on a professional level by also on a spiritual level.

I had taken cultural training courses and spent many years working with people from all over this country and world. Having sensitively to cultures comes with the territory – or so we think. But really I believe I have been naive to so many aspects of tradition and its role in employment. The sharing of stories surrounding residential schools, culture, community, ceremony, family and trauma were gifted to all of us and so our learning went far beyond employment.

Next I attended a conference on Ending Violence. Again the presenters expanded my understanding of the impact of violence while providing useful tools and resources that far exceeded my expectations.

For the last two days I attended a workshop facilitated by Dr. Lori Haskell – Working with Survivors of Gender-Based Violence: Understanding the Neurobiology of Trauma. I can’t even begin to explain how incredibly valuable this was! What I learned will positively impact my work with clients who have experienced trauma but it also hit close to home. I took away information that changes how I view myself and others in my personal life. The learning went deep, not just through the speaker, but also I had the privilege of learning from those that were at my table.

So, why share all of this with you?

Because sometimes we think we know it all. Sometimes we think we are too small to be effective. Sometimes we might be afraid to learn new things and sometimes people may question why we are even interested.

Please don’t let that stop you because everything that you create begins with the moment you said YES to learning.

 

A Purpose For Doubt

A Purpose For Doubt

Does it feel like you are living in tough times right now? Do you personally have doubt about your ability to cope with challenges in your life? Did you know that your doubt can help open the door to more critical thinking?

Tough times bring multiple things into focus and for many their first instinct is to hope it all goes away.  Doubt emerges on a cognitive level but on an emotional level our lack of belief doesn’t need to be debilitating.

Doubt can be the next motivator and an opportunity to strategize. How? Well, I will give an example:

I took a course once that was really tough. I questioned why I was even doing the course and doubted my ability to complete it. Armed with multiple reasons why I was not a good student, and a history of procrastination to wear as a badge, I believed it was going to be impossible to get assignments done.

Slowly but surely I pulled in support from various people who would help me stay on track. I looked for examples in my own life when I overcame an obstacle or challenged myself to do something I had never done before. My strategy was to plug away on the easier content and assignments first and build up my confidence to tackle the next level. Before I knew it I was done.

Doubt helped me to look critically at myself and encouraged me to find internal and external resources. The opportunity to know more and to believe that my narrative could change from being an average struggling student to a graduate of a program, opened up my awareness of what is possible.

Doubt has a purpose and we should acknowledge its role in our personal development.

2017 BC Elections Debate – My take on politics

2017 BC Elections Debate – My take on politics

As I watched the first British Columbia Election 2017 debate with Green Leader Andrew Weaver, Liberal Leader Christy Clark and NDP Leader John Horgan I was reminded why I didn’t explore Politics as a potential career path. BC’s Provincial Election has kicked off and with that comes campaign strategizing, back stabbing, hand shaking, fake smiling and noise making.

There is no doubt this is a big job representing the people, developing and amending policies and programs – among other things. Any decisions made can be felt far and wide and boy do we feel it! When it comes to politics it takes a special breed of people to run for election and an even stronger contingent of people willing to put their trust in their representative.

Truth vs. Fiction and The reality of certain decisions

I believe most legislators don’t have an understanding about what is really happening at the ground level. That is because they are reliant on individuals willing to contact their offices and they receive stats and second-hand information from representatives who oversee programs on behalf of the government. It’s hard to be everywhere.

In my industry alone so many of the governments decisions have negatively impacted the working environment – resulting in more workers leaving our industry and/or increased leaves of absence. It has most certainly impeded services to clients but you won’t hear a peep about that.

Instead a glowing shout out by Premier Clark about job creation will override the reality that people fall through the cracks in employment services every day.   Through this current numbers driven model of service many in our industry will argue that we Don’t have the luxury of placing people first – especially when it comes to supporting those who need it most.

Fudging numbers and spinning stories is what makes for interesting campaigns and if we don’t know better we’ll assume what our representatives are saying is the truth. The real truth is that politicians likely know – or learn rather quickly – that facts are buried in between fiction. They have figured out that people vote based on their own values and immediate needs and pay basic attention to everything else.

Sometimes it’s so hard to know what is going on and other times it’s glaringly obvious

In this debate I heard repeated reference to the NDP in the 90’s which doesn’t mean much to me now. I believe every individual,  party or company has the ability to evolve so why dredge up the past…show me what you got for 2017 and beyond!

The Green party keeps talking about corporations as if they are the bad guys. Not all corporations are bad. Yes, keep them under control as it pertains to political influence but  remember corporations provide jobs and aren’t we all grateful for that? Corporations donate to various charities so would you prefer they make less and therefore contribute less? Why not choose partnerships with innovative and responsible corporations so that you can spend less time mining my pocket to pay for things?

Here’s where I might offend a few people: I don’t think every taxpayer should have to pay for childcare. I have always felt that if you bring a child in this world you better be prepared to take care of it for the long-term. Of course, if you become a single parent raising children or the primary financial contributor to the home loses employment then that is a different story. The unforeseen often dictates changes – support should then be made available. Here again is where I think we need to be more innovative in our approach to such issues and assessment of need can be a part of that approach.

Polls, Trolls and Tripe don’t help much

Politicians on the campaign trail have still not understood that a large majority of voters hate negative campaigning. Although as we have seen south of the border, and in previous Canadian campaigns, mud slinging can happen. Getting out to vote should be made more attractive as we can’t take anything for granted.

My advice to candidates

John Horgan – Shut down the 90’s talk right away if anyone mentions it and share very clearly how the party has grown and will proceed. It’s not so much your personal reputation or presentation you have to worry about its the past mistakes that linger. No matter what you say that is the hurdle you face.

Christy Clark – Stop relying on “job loss and kids future fund being depleted”  as a threat if we vote for someone else. Give me a better reason to trust in your ability to know what’s really happening to people like seniors, youth at risk and persons with disabilities along with the infrastructure of this province.

Andrew Weaver – You are talking too fast. Slow it down, stop saying “we have a plan” and find a way to  spell it out better in the short time you have. Don’t dump on corporations because you are losing a whole host of voters that way. Find a way to make Green a word that doesn’t make people think the economy will be negatively impacted. We already know the environmental piece, focus listeners on other issues of importance.

Wow! I’m exhausted even writing about this! Yup, a future in politics is probably not for me and I still don’t know which way I will vote.