Saturday, October 20, 2018

Dear 19 Year Old Dwan...

Two weeks ago Pam Frampton penned a letter to her 19 year old self that held many strong messages we can all relate to (Pam's fantastic column can be found here:

Upon reading I found myself thinking, "What a wonderful exercise." Reflection can be a brilliant, or a painstaking tool, and I like to believe we all have much to learn from it.

And then I wondered, "What would I tell 19 year old me now?"

Here goes:

Look around - these people around you are diverse, and all have a part in your life that shapes you. By the time you are 36 most of them will be gone. You will reflect, they will pop up in memories sometimes, or in stories in rooms when you are talking about the past. They will go. Very few will remain. But soak them all up now, their words and experiences.

You will leave him. It is coming soon, and you will hit your breaking point, walk away and say no more. You will heal, and you will use this as fuel for so much in your life. The abuse stops now, and it will make you fierce.

Stay true to yourself. You owe nothing to anyone. No matter how many people tell you how you should be, what you need to change, how you should shape yourself to fit their ideals - do not. Stick to who you are and embrace it. You will not always be everyone's cup of tea, but that is okay and you will learn to accept that. Those who cannot accept you are not worth your energy.

There are bad people in this world. You will find many, but you will learn lessons from them all to take you through the rest of this messy life. Even when you sit and feel duped, at times when you think you have it all figured out, just remember - learn. Take the experience. Sometimes the hurt will burn like a thousand fires, and only you can put them out.

You will not finish your academic career as a forensic anthropologist. I know, right? Crazy. You will actually realize what a huge part of your person and being the fishery is and will dedicate your life to the industry that has sustained your family and community for decades. I know you might not believe me, but it is true. And you will realize that the things you have taken for granted deserve your energy now.

Mom and dad will be your best friends. I know it is hard to fathom now, but you have just moved out and are experiencing your freedom for the first time. Everything will come full circle. Appreciate them and all they have to give you. Listen to the stories, their experiences. They are usually right, even though your stubborn pride will often not let you believe it.

What makes you different are all qualities that will bring you to understand yourself, eventually. You will grow into the quirks, the stubbornness, the one liners, the chewed nails, lack of makeup and the entirety of who you are. People will criticize, they will judge and they will try to change you. To those people you say, "Fuck off," and keep doing you.

Oh, and you will be a part of so many wonderful hockey teams that your love of the sport will turn into a massive part of your life. You will meet so many people, laugh until you hurt, and will once again find that comradeship you had to leave behind when you were no longer a DC Destroyer. You will be 36, the sorest person on earth, but every time you lace up you will be in your happy place.

And finally, you will never fit the ideals laid out for how and who you should be - and that is okay. It is easy to look at your life and wonder why it does not look like others, but it is good and you will be okay. That small apartment on Colville will turn into a small apartment on Freshwater, Malta, Abbott, Terra Nova, a house you will leave due to a failed relationship, and other small apartments. Relationships fail, friendships end, and life circumstances change. Through it all, you persist.

You land your dream job. You are loved by two little furbags who adore you. There is hurt, there are hardships, but you gain the tools to work through it all over the next 17 years. And there are good people who come along. Wait for them.

Keep your head up, kid.

Keep pushing, keep asking questions, keep challenging when something does not seem fair or right, and use the voice you find. You will find it very shortly. You have been finding it for a while now (thanks, Mr. Broderick!)

And, most of all, remember what one of your mentors will post one day that will stick with you: "This living, it is messy, but it is beautiful."

Monday, September 17, 2018

Believe her.

Hello, bloggerverse. It's been a while.

I have been generally quiet and just trying to enjoy things, cut the bullshit and rage-inducing things out of my life and drop the blood pressure to a normal level.

But, buddy I AM FIRED UP NOW.

If you have been following the Coronation of Kavanaugh to a lifetime seat in the United States of America's highest court, and the recent allegations brought forward by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford, you should be too.

In an anonymous letter to Senator Feinstein, Dr. Blasey Ford (who has since stepped forward to attach her name to the piece) described a sexual attack Trump's heir to the justice throne perpetuated on her then-15 year old self. He was 17.

He pinned her down.
Tried to rip her clothes off.
His friend watched.
Cheered him on.
Hopped on to join.
Turned up the music when BK's hand was not enough to muffle her screams.

Dr. Blasey Ford also spoke to her therapist about the attack in 2012 and the lasting effects it has had on her life.

So, of course, the MAGA kiss-asses have started their rage campaign and have begun to smear Dr. Blasey Ford with "LIAR" and the scarlet letters of the endless list of expletives used on those who dare come forward with sexual misconduct allegations.

BK had his cronies drum up a letter signed by 65 female classmates who declared the teenager they knew surely could not rape (only two, when asked by Politico, said they would stand by their praises).

Two hundred women have since signed a letter stating Dr. Blasey Ford's description of what occurred matches what they have experienced at their alma mater.

I mean, she passed a polygraph and all...

And, in the midst of it all, the President of the United States and White House staffers have dismissed her story and called her a liar.

The President.

Let's be clear here -

The false reporting of sexual assault sits somewhere in the 5-8 percent range; comparable to that of other crimes.

So, sit your ass down before you get on with the, "Women accuse men to ruin their lives and lie about rape all the time!"

Ronnie down the road has the same probability of falsely accusing Willis of robbing his chainsaw.

This isn't about all men being rapists, all allegations being true, or all of us angry witches stirring our cauldrons to try and ruin the lives of anything with a penis because we hate men.

It is rather about asking the important questions -

Why are we still at the point where it is the victim who has mustered up the courage to come forward who has to bear the brunt of an attack on her body?

How does the administration of a world superpower choose to believe a man who attempted to rape, and push to put him in a position of power to have autonomy over the bodies of approximately 150 million women?

How are we living in an age when the long fought battle, and subsequent victory of Roe v Wade is in jeopardy at the very hands of an attempted rapist, while the bigger focus is on his victim?


She didn't. She tried to raise alarms when his name was on the short list, contacting the Washington Post.

Maybe her courage bubbled to the surface at just this point because she could not bear to see the autonomy of millions of women - their reproductive health and lives - put in the hands of a man who assaulted, degraded and destroyed her.

Maybe she had just had enough.

But, maybe she is lying, right? Maybe she summoned her witchy powers and took her evil vagina time machine back to 2012 and planted those notes with her therapist.

We are all liars, after all, if we do not run and report our assaults and rapes immediately on the second.


We are embarrassed.
And we are just not believed.

So, park your criticisms for once and believe women (yes, before that person jumps in - men get assaulted too, we know, but that's not the topic here. Come back for another episode).

My timeline this week has been a mix of Kavanaugh, coupled with the ex-CBC radio host/serial assaulter peeking his mug out of his hole again. Oh, and how about coaches who are now being nailed with decades and decades of their vile acts by women who are now coming forward and drawing strength from each other to face their abuser?

I will never understand why we keep giving abusers platforms while attacking and re-victimizing those who dare use their voice to name their abusers.

Just stop it.

Take a minute, wonder if any woman wants her name and reputation dragged through the mud of every social media outlet, attacked and re-victimized, forced to re-live the worst moments of her life. Why would she choose to step forward knowing the repercussions?

I have seen many ask the critics - "What if she was your wife/mother/daughter?"

Yet, this question should not matter. You all have women in your lives. Dr. Christine Blasey Ford shared an experience that is far too familiar to many of us.

And many of us have never breathed a word, never taken our abusers to task, never seen them brought to justice.

I believe her.

We need to stop demonizing the women who speak and we need to channel that energy in to ensuring those accused are investigated thoroughly, and brought to justice.

Oh, and stop with the "boys will be boys" bullshit, and trying to use the fact that he was 17 to water down the severity of the act.

That old adage is the exact reason why so many women do not come forward for decades - we are led to believe this is the norm and we must accept that some boys just cannot control their urges.

Maybe our skirts were too short.
Their hormones were raging and we grew boobies.
That shirt was a liiiiiiiiittle tight.

We question ourselves or try to push it all away.

When I was 17 I was no angel, but sneaking a flask behind the Chain Locker was a hell of a lot better than turning up the music to muffle someone's screams while violating them.

Funny, I drank it with a lot of guys as well, and none of them ever attempted to rape me with the music up.

Do I believe people cannot be rehabilitated? No. I do, however, believe that admittance and owning an action is a key step to healing for all involved.

Denial and painting the victim as a liar, or further victimizing her, are not good moves. Apologize, better yourself, seek the treatment and support you need - let everyone heal. BUT OWN IT.

Let us make sure abusers know their actions will not be condoned and there is no statute of limitations on how long before your actions will demand answers or bite you in the ass.

And let's fight like hell to make sure Kavanaugh crawls back into his hole and never gets to hold the bodily autonomy of millions of our sisters to the south in his hands.

Sunday, July 22, 2018

The Boots.

See, I have these boots.

I had never worn the boots, despite being 6 years old, and the boots became the crux of many a joke over the years.

This is a blog about the boots.

I'm going to go full Sophia Patrillo here - "Picture it, St. John's, 2012..."

Our varsity cross country team is about the head to Halifax for the AUS Championships. It just so happens we are going to fly back home the night of Mardi Gras and, given we were clearly going to kick ass, we were going downtown to celebrate. Our flight would get in at 10 pm.

I needed a costume. I settled on Catwoman. Now, not just ANY Catwoman, Halle Berry Catwoman.

I went to a million places and found every piece of the costume, right down to the belts, the headwear, everything -

But I could never find the right boots.

Finally, a friend said, "Try a sex store."

Sure, why not? I walked in, strolled nonchalantly past the anal beads, and told the clerk what I was looking for. He delivered.

"Why have the boots never been worn?" you ask.

Fast forward to AUS. We have to get to the airport so we all put our costumes on beforehand. Mine is a tad revealing so I put a hoodie over it though I did get weird looks in a hoodie, those pants and the boots. I stopped counting how many times Nick would look at someone who was giving me strange glances and say, "She's a dominatrix." I dealt out many a punch that night.

When it is time to go through security, they tell me I need to take off my coat. I lean in and, with a whisper, explain that I'm wearing a costume that isn't family friendly and no kids need to see the Itty Bitty Titty Committee here strapped up in leather and spikes. 

"Ma'am, you still need to take off the coat."

Here I am, in all of my glory - tired, cranky, thirsty and standing in an airport looking like the security guy just paid good money for an old fashioned flogging. 


I swear I walked back out and in about 576 times (okay, maybe an exaggeration, but still...) until they finally did a body scan as I was about to cry and wondering what else I would have to take off.


The plane takes off and the night is young, the weather is great, the team is pumped. We watch the map and our little plane logo circling over St. John's.

Then it starts to go back.

We ask the attendant who will not tell us what is going on and, until we were on the ground again, IN HALIFAX, did they tell us it had been too foggy to land. We are all checking our watches and thinking at least we'll get to rock Halloween somewhere in Halifax that night.


"We're heading back to St. John's."

You have never seen Catwoman, a wizard, Jesus, a cowboy, two cowgirls and Batman so pissed off.

So, why have I never worn the boots? We landed at 6 am, missed Mardi Gras, and I spent a lifetime sitting on a plane wearing more pleather, studs and chains than I am comfortable with.

Last night I wore the boots and now you know their story. I'll probably never wear them again but hey, I can tick the box on "owns a pair of boots from a sex store."

Tuesday, July 3, 2018

The Lonely End of the Rink...

In April 2017 I was getting on a plane. I remember opening CBC, as I do each morning, and reading an article about a woman who had started a Sunday afternoon skate for a group of women who wanted to play hockey.

"I think I want to play again."

I had not put on skates in 20 years, but at that moment something went off in my head and told me I had to.

I emailed Liz Ohle.

"Liz, I saw your article. I would love to play. I haven't played in 20 years. I don't know where to start."

That following Sunday I showed up at St. Bon's with my dad's 40 year old Cooper shin guards I had worn in high school, a Marc Andre Fleury jersey and my old hockey bag that had disfunctional zippers.

I faceplanted at least twice. Maybe three times. Maybe more.

And it was the best decision I've ever made.

I like to think everyone has that happy place. The smell of the ice, the rink, the dressing rooms.

And in the year and a bit since I decided to lace up my skates again there have been so many moments where I know hockey both saved me and broke my heart.

This weekend we said goodbye to a powerhouse. I was only lucky enough to meet Ingrid this year through Eastern edge, our Friday night senior women's league. I had always heard stories, read the history of the league, and knew what a strong proponent she was for women's hockey, the game, and fun.

Just a great person who loved life and everything in it.

And watching the steady stream of jerseys go in to the church reminded me of just what this game can do.

We laughed, we cried. And I've never felt so honoured and blessed to be a part of this group - to put on skates, gear and a jersey, drink beer and feel everything be alleviated from the day, week, month and year when I do.

Today was a very hard day. Things have not been overly great, and sometimes you feel everything is weighing down, crashing down, and the heart hurts.

Then you find yourself looking at your skates and feeling like if you could just put them on, hit the ice, it will all be better.

And it was.

I love my teams; I love the guys, the girls I play with. I love the feeling of hitting the ice, the sounds and feeling of blades cutting in, and going until you feel your lungs and legs are going to give out (penumonia be damned).

I love this sport, I love the people, and I love what it has given me, and continues to give me.

I'm so thankful I emailed Liz. Take the chance, do the thing.

And I know I have some of the best friends I'll ever have in my life to take me through, even at the lonely end of the rink.

Sunday, June 17, 2018

Happy Father's Day, Dad

There are two pictures I have always believed sum up the relationship between my dad and I perfectly.

In the first I'm months old. I'm laying next to him in bed with a shit-eating grin on my face, a huge puddle under me. His expression says, "Ah well." Mom always said when she took that pic all she could think was, "Shit. She's just like him."

In the second I'm probably three years old. I'm sprinting through the tall grass in our backyard, same grin. Dad stands in the background, hands on his hips and the same "Ah well" expression.

Today is Father's Day, and I feel the need to tell a little bit about my dad, Roy.

My mother will always say, "You're just like your father," and I cannot imagine a greater compliment. Though I carry my mother's fire, looks and loudness, I know what she means.

Unlike me, my father has always been a soft spoken man. I have hardly heard him raise his voice in my 36 years, unless it's telling me to turn off a hockey game that's going poorly, ranting about the fishery or politics, or my mother has spoken her trademark sentence: "Do you know what you should do now?"

As long as I can remember, my father has been a hardworking, intelligent man, always stressing the importance of working hard and kicking ass. A fisherman since he was 13, splitting his time then between the boat and the fish plant, he has always been a man who never shied from hard work, and was well read in his down time.

And he is brilliant. The man can clear a Jeopardy! board like no other, is a library of history, and reads more than anyone I've ever met. He always has.

He always stressed the importance of music and books to me. He bought me The Doors boxed set when I was barely old enough to read the lyric inserts, and would read to me every night. Books and music were two things that were never a waste of money, and if I wanted either he found a way to get it.

One of the happiest moments I can remember is buying him tickets to see George Jones, his favourite musician, and the look on his face when he opened the card and realized what it was:

He bought me my first pony, picking mom up at the plant on her lunch break and simply saying, "Yeah, we have a horse now."

He encouraged every sport I ever wanted to play, and never went easy on me when I was sooky or didn't play well. If I couldn't handle it, I shouldn't play it.

He took shots on me, decked in goalie gear, with mom's tea buns as the neighbours watched and mom hid her face in embarrassment. Never much of a baker, that one.

Hockey. That was always our love. When I was tiny, mom would take me to the arena to watch dad play and I would hand him Shopsy's beef sticks over the glass as he skated by when the whistle blew. I'll never understand how he ate them while he was playing and didn't crumple from heartburn. But he did.

I remember the heartbreak one evening when my babysitter had to call the arena to get dad because mom wasn't feeling well at work, and only then did I realize he didn't play for the Detroit Red Wings. I guess Carpenter's Home Hardware was almost as glamourous.

He would go away for tournaments, returning with medals and trophies, always bringing me a He-Man or She-ra doll when he could.

And he would insist Bob Probert was one of the best to play the game.

Then there was the fishery.

The fishery is as embedded in our family as our name. My father fished with my grandfather and, when my grandfather passed away, he took the wheel.Mom would take me to watch him sailing out past the pier, and let me sit on the VHF radio in the evenings.

I'll never forget the first time he took me to Trepassey with him to move the boat and we went across the harbour. He let me hold the wheel and I felt like a superhero.

And though it was an industry we all loved, and one that was beautiful to me as a child, I knew there were politics because dad would return from committee meetings and tell me about the issues, hand me issues of the Union Forum so I could read about it. As I got older and started asking questions, I knew there was much more to the industry than the boats sailing through the harbour.

Fast forward to today:

It has never been more apparent to me that I am, indeed, like my father.

We'll sit, debate fisheries issues, compete over the Jeopardy! board, play TV bingo, drink at the island in the kitchen, and share in a mutual hatred of all things Leafs and Sens. He might be a Wings fan but he's a realistic one.

His morning ritual consists of going to the Wings message board, typing, "Blashill fired yet? Nope? K." and carrying on with his day.

I know I have been blessed with strong, hardworking parents who taught me lessons that have gotten me where I am. I don't know where I would be without them both, honestly, and their strength through my times of weakness, their lessons (easy and hard).

And I know I certainly wouldn't be where I am today without my dad. I wouldn't have the appreciation and knowledge of the industry I hold dear, I wouldn't appreciate a fine book, a fine drink, or a fine debate.

I certainly would never have the strength and guts to take life by the horns.

Thank you, dad. Thank you for all you've done and continue to do. Thank you for the constant lessons. When mom walks into the kitchen, sees us both half cut playing TV bingo and ranting about the NHL and says, "You're just like your father," I'm never prouder.

 "Hungover? Sin."

Friday, June 15, 2018

"The ballot is stronger than the bullet..."

When Rogers TV's Erin Sulley reached out to ask if I would participate in a panel for their "Women Leading Change" series, I was more than flattered. I would join MHA Cathy Bennett and City Councillor Hope Jamieson to discuss the roles and experiences of women in politics and the political movement. I questioned if I belonged there.

But I said yes.

Yesterday was easily one of the most empowering days I have had in a long time.

As we sat waiting, about to film a panel discussion that would air internally for Rogers staff all across Canada, the chairs placed for St. John's staff began to fill up - and with women came an equal number of men. That in itself indicated this was about to be a very important discussion.

We shared our experiences - our backgrounds, why we do what we do, who has helped us along the way, what we would do differently, what we see as the opportunities going forward.

And the hour flew in shared stories of support, hard realities, facts, hurt, harassment, and hope.

The United Nations states that only 22.8 per cent of all national parliamentarians were women as of June 2016, a slow increase from 11.3 per cent in 1995.

22.8 per cent.

As of January 2017, only 18.3 per cent of government ministers were women.

As of June 2017, only 2 countries have 50 per cent or more women in parliament in single or lower houses.

Our own province is "ahead" of the game at 25% - 10/40 sitting Members of the House of Assembly are women.

Women are champions for issues such as affordable childcare, paid domestic violence leave, pay equity, putting an end to gender-based violence, and a whole plethora of issues where a woman's experience and voice at the table are necessary to paint a full picture.

Yet, we have work to do.

Is it because women are the primary caretakers and affordable childcare is lacking? Is it because of the type of backlash women get in the public eye is sexualized, violent, and women simply do not want to put up with that bullshit?

How can we encourage more women to put their names on the ballot?

Newfoundland and Labrador has an opportunity for change in 2019. God knows we need it. St. John's showed us it was possible with a record number of women elected in the last election - and a record number of veteran councillors unseated for new, fresh ideas.

We can do it.

But we need our voices at the table.

I have often said lately I feel we are at a watershed moment of change. Though it may not feel like it when we see the news, read the headlines, watch our neighbours to the south have children torn from their arms and put in internment camps, we have an opportunity for change and social movements have never been so powerful and determined.

Women and men are marching.
Children are stepping out against gun violence.
Victims are speaking out against their abusers

And all are supported amidst the detractors.

Yesterday's panel was powerful, and women and men alike came up afterward to tell us what a wonderful, important conversation it was.

The best comments came from the men in the room who simply said, "I never thought about that," or simply, "We need to be better."

We also need to realize there are a lot of good people out there with good ideas, a will for change and skills to bring to the table. We need to support them, mentor them, and get those names on the ballots.

Only then will we create change.

And it's coming.

Huge thanks go to Rogers TV for the opportunity, and huge thanks to everyone who came out in studio and online.

And huge thanks to those who are creating and supporting change.

Friday, June 8, 2018

Let it Be.

2018 was going to be great.

And now, 6 months in, 2018 has been a year where everyone seems to be struggling to find the good. When we said goodbye to the septic tanks that were 2016 and 2017, bidding adieu to what seemed like constant misery, 2018 said, "Hold my beer."


And the little victories, even the big ones sometimes, seem to be swamped by a constant shit storm. It's easy to feel like they are winning.

For whatever reason, when VOCM just played "Let it Be" it felt like a gut punch I can only compare to hearing "Fiddler's Green" the day Gord Downie died.

I guess that's just it - we have to let it be.

We have to keep fighting and pushing through.
We have to keep helping one another.
We have to keep reaching out for help, and to help.
We have to keep our heads above water.
We have to keep surging forward.

And, by doing so, we will come out the other end.

I always try to remember one of my favourite quotes from Mr. Rogers: "“When I was a boy and I would see scary things in the news, my mother would say to me, "Look for the helpers. You will always find people who are helping.”

We can all be helpers.

If you are struggling or need to reach out to someone, there are options:

The Canadian Association for Suicide Prevention:

In Newfoundland and Labrador there is the 24 hour Mental Health Crisis Line: 1-888-737-4668

And reach out to your friends and family. I promise nobody will turn away.

I hate you, 2018. But there isn't really a whole lot I can do about it.

"Let it be, let it be, let it be, let it be.
Whisper words of wisdom,
Let it be."