Muse for All

the course of daily musings never did run smooth.

Blessed but Aware

I am blessed. I’m blessed for many reasons, but the one that is soon to come is I’ve been asked to host a workshop for an educational conference in Toronto, presented by my union, OECTA.

My presentation is on Equity in Education, on being a woman in the education field and the gender biases we face, the lack of collaboration, and the unintentional gender biases we place upon our female students. This presentation is more for staff members to be more aware of their thoughts and their actions so to create impact-ful change for women as a whole.

But I recognize this: Change comes from within [the classroom]… not from standing on a stage.

In this digital day and age, everyone is a prophet. Everyone has something to say and everyone believes it to be of value. Everyone wants to shoot up their follows on Twitter and everyone wants to have their moment in the spotlight. They attribute standing on a stage and telling a few, or hundreds, or thousands how to be as success. 

In the field of education, that, to me, is not success.

Firstly, everyone, excited by a meaningful presentation full of anecdotes, quotes – likely formulated by rewording someone else’s thoughts – and funny stories, leaves a presentation feeling invigorated. Now, that time you spent listening to an adult tell you how your classroom should be could have been spent asking a child how they would like their classroom to be. That should be what truly invigorates you.

Secondly, educators speaking on stages around the world are going on, telling people how to make it for and about the students, but the students are not the ones on stage. Those adults stand tall, get the tweets and retweets, gather the social media fame, and have made it about them. Plain and simple. People don’t retweet and praise the accomplishments of students and their ideas, they continue to praise the ideas of other adults, many of whom haven’t spent a full day in their own classroom in a long, long time.

So, what’s the deal? We are blind, in this digital age, by social media fame and refuse to recognize these new born prophets as anything but a waste of time and energy. They are great! They are holy! Don’t question where their ideas come from, don’t question if they’ve spent time speaking to students about change, don’t question them, the great prophets of now.

A friend of mine, Paul Gorski, once said that if it’s good equity work – whether social, educational, gender, etc – it will make you uncomfortable. All these smiling selfies and excited tweets don’t scream good work, they scream facade, charade, and self-righteousness. If we are still talking about change, maybe we should question where these ideas of change are coming from.

Mental Health Awareness

I am the leader of the Mental Health Committee at my school and have started putting together Mental Health Awareness newsletters for each month.

Please take the time to read December’s newsletter as it may just apply to you and your own life.

Mental Health December Newsletter

Why I need not be defined by marital status

Today, I had a student come up to me and the conversation went as such:
Her: Who you be married?
Me: Pardon?
Her: Who you be married?!
Me: I am not married.
Her: WHY?
Me: Because you do not need to be married.

When I was younger, the song Independent Woman by Destiny’s Child was just a song I sung and danced to without much care. Now, the lyrics ring true to my own life:
“The shoes on my feet, I bought ’em / The car I’m driving, I bought it / The house I live in, I bought it / ’cause I depend on me.”

Even taking a stroll down the senior hallway and having a peak into their classroom, listening to their discussion, I hear things that amaze me:
“You need to get married. That’s your purpose in life.”
“What do single people do, alone? Are they happy? Isn’t it boring?”
“I am going to get married, eventually.” “Why?” “Because that’s what you do.”

How is it that we have progressed towards eliminating so many old-school mentalities but this is one that is still instilled in the minds of the young? How does a 12 year old feel that your purpose in life is to get married and not to travel the world, be involved in social justice, succeed in a career they’ere passionate about, love without expectations…

My heart is tied down. I have a love that I want to grow old with, we have started a family of animals, we live happily as a pair, but is the big wedding a requirement? No. Who do we need to prove our love to? Why must we make a spectacle of our union? Why is the formality of an expensive ceremony, followed by the Facebook photos to rub in the faces of the masses, close up shots of a diamond ring, or thousands of dollars spent on a single day the only way to truly solidify our commitment to one another? Who is the marriage for?

I see many make a spectacle of marriage. I see many turn marriage into a social media show, a rushed dance as a way to prove to the world that a couple is “serious” or “for real”, an attempt to perform a song and dance for the masses that takes stressful months to prepare and hours to complete. And for who? And for what purpose?

I always say that so long as marriage is a privilege and not a human right, it’s not something I really want to partake in. One day, I will have a very inexpensive white dress where I will perform commitment rituals in front of very few close family members, but again, who is that for? I will partake in this when it feels like it is for the “us” and the “us” alone, not for people saying, “When are you going to get married, already?” or for the individuals who feel marriage is the only public way to proclaim your love to the masses. There is nothing personal about that. There is nothing intimate about it. There is nothing loving about it. It’s a show, and no matter how much money you invest in it, that’s all it will ever be. And if you get married on pretense, your marriage will also just be a play on a stage.

I don’t need marriage to define me. Marriage is not an aspiration or a goal. It is not a stepping stone to greater things. It is not a relationship climax. For me, eventually it will be a mutually agreed upon event that doesn’t represent something greater or more true but a personal celebration of love, on our own comfortable terms, when we feel the need to go forth with it. Like a grand anniversary that we choose to share with those closest to us.

I am an independent woman. I do not need marriage to feel complete. I do not need a man to hand me his name. I do not need to bear four of his children in four years so he can present me around like a luxury car to all his friends, posting photos on social media, “Look, life completion, be happy for me/jealous of me/envious of my life.” My life is not a show. I am not a prize to be paraded around. I am an self sufficient, self-made woman. I own my house, I own my car, I adopted animals that I take care of and who rely on me, I feed myself, dress myself, created a career for myself, made an image for myself that does not include a marital status and doesn’t need a marital status to improve it.

I think parents should worry about their children growing up with a purpose to be good people who are happy and feel self-sufficient and successful, not whether or not they will be married.

Pets are not Presents

Anyone who knows me knows I am a passionate animal lover, saving mice from the hallways of my work, bunnies from abandoned nests, and birds with injured wings. They also know I am an advocate for animal adoption whether it be for a puppy, kitten, dog, cat, bird, bunny, guinea pig or more. But one thing I am not an advocate for is giving someone  you love an animal as a gift for the Holidays.

Owning an animal is not a walk in the park; take it from me, owner of two dogs, a cat and a bird. Animals are living, breathing things with emotions and needs. They are not a disposable object like a doll off a WalMart shelf. Getting an animal is a process that should be thought out and considered by all members of a family.

By giving an animal as a gift, you are immediately associating the animal with something that is as temporary and disposable as a Christmas Fruitcake. You are not allowing the individual you are getting the animal for consider the animal that is best for them (all owners should meet and interact with an animal prior to owning it because compatibility is not something you can force) and putting a financial burden on them against their will.

Owning animals is a stressful thing and by no means a clean and easy one. By gifting an animal, you are forcing an individual into a stressful situation that they did not agree to (despite the excitement they might have in the moment which blurs the reality of animal ownership).

Often, after the initial excitement of receiving the animal, the accidents, the cleaning of cages and the expenses of vet visits often shakes people up, and the stress becomes too much to handle. Sometimes, it just ends up being that the animal and the individual simply aren’t compatible; maybe they are too high energy for their busy lifestyle, perhaps there are unexpected allergies, or maybe they simply don’t have the time to spend with it. There are many factors that could mess up a parent-animal relationship, and giving a pet as a present increases those chances.

So many animals who end up in a shelter were a “gift” gone wrong. So many people give pets as gifts without truly recognizing the responsibility, the time, the money, and the potential chaos that comes with pet ownership. Some people receive these gifts with love and excitement, only to find that it is way too much to handle or simply doesn’t work for them.

Yes, the thought of a fuzzy animal sitting by your Holiday fire is a warm and beautiful thought, and one that certainly increases adoption and sales of animals, but it’s not one that truly puts the pet first, as all animals should be in these situations. So if you’re considering adding an animal to the family (and I definitely suggest adoption; you can ask me more about this if you have questions about it), wait for the “holiday shopping rush” mindset to fade, discuss it as a family or with the individual who you think might be interested, and go together to meet the animal, weigh the options, consider the financial and stress impact, and then make a decision. Pets are live, pets are precious, pets should not be presents.

I am lucky to be the girlfriend of an amazing man

My boyfriend is amazing, and here is why:

” Jesse Horvath shared a link.
An important read. Ignore my long status and read the article, he says it better than I could. I just feel like commenting on what I read. 
I’m sure everyone’s Facebook pages are littered with statuses, and articles, and news stories about Elliot Rodger but a very small percentage of them are paying attention to the important elements of the story. Perhaps Elliot Rodger required psychological help. Maybe he needed (and was receiving) therapy and medication to treat some mental disorders of his. But saying that this is the reason why he chose to kill is to avoid the more pressing matter which is his ideology surrounding women, sex, and love: an ideology that happens to be maintained by mass media and popular culture. 
Movies, T.V. shows, and video games teach young men that no matter their strengths or weaknesses, appearance or personality, if they work hard enough they WILL get the girl of their dreams. GETTING the girl implies that she is an object to pursue, a thing to win, where if you make the right moves in the right order, you will receive your prize. This is the mentality that plagued the mind of Elliot Rodger. He believed that he had done everything right and fit the mold of someone who deserved these women’s love, attention, and of course their bodies. The men who read into this way of thinking, the ones who have saved princess Peach from Bowser countless times, the ones who watched Jonah Hill win over Emma Stone, the ones who hate the jocks at their schools for leading the lives they wish they could, are not bad people. I repeat, very few of these men are bloodthirsty, dangerous men. But they are people who have become trapped in a misguided way of thinking because their entire lives have been spent watching guys win the girl. And it is this seemingly innocuous way of thinking that leads to some extremely harmful behaviours. This can be seen all the time from men who get angry at a girl for turning him down and start calling her offensive names, and think that it is acceptable to do so or with books like “The Game” that teach men how to trick women into going home with them. The support that Elliot Rodger has received from some men online is proof enough that there are men who share in his ideology and who believe that his actions could have been prevented had some of these women gave in to Elliot. 
This has to stop. This generation of men has to understand that we are not the protagonists of these stories who need only work hard enough to earn the girl. She is not ours to win. Elliot Rodger was a sick man who chose to express his ideology in the worst way possible. It is rare and it is terrifying but his way of thinking and his reasoning behind it is NOT rare and that is what this generation is poised to take responsibility for, but also to combat. 
I will delete any debating that happens in the comments of this post. You have a right to disagree with me and offer your rebuttal on your page, but I don’t want this post to become a place for debate. I want people to read the article and to learn this perspective.” 

 

Beautiful. Absolutely beautiful. I am dating a humble human being who absolutely respects women.

I have dated many men with the mentality that Jesse mentions above, that the article mentions; they believe that they deserve the perfect woman, that they are worth being adored, that any woman who doesn’t want to be with them, idle them, worship them, treat them like they’re a god is absolute fool, that women who don’t recognize their personal greatness are worthless, that women are objects to be used for personal gain, fame or pleasure, that every man I dated before them was a piece of crap, was nothing compared to them, etc. Jesse is right when he says that so many men have been fed this idea all their lives from everything that surrounds them; media, games, internet, “self-help” books, therapists, etc.

I am so grateful that I have a man in my life who not only respects me but all women; his sisters, his mother, his aunt, his professors, the woman he crossed on the street, the woman who helped him at the store the other day, the women he dated before me, his classmates, etc… He does not have a guise. He is the definition of a perfect gentleman, and he is spreading the word about what it means to be a knight to losers everywhere.

Thank you to the heavens for this amazing individual, my very best friend, and one hell of a real man.

XO

Life Is Beautiful

It has been months and months since I’ve updated and so much has gone on in my life since the last post. I have many things that I am grateful for, so many things that make me feel very blessed that I should take the time to appreciate them all, and I’m going to do just that.

 

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I am currently working in my dream job. Back near the end of October I was lucky enough to get a phone call letting me know that I was chosen to fill an LTO (Long Term Occasional Position) at a school in Milton teaching Senior Kindergarten in the morning and Grade Two Science and PhysEd in the afternoon. This job has been everything I dreamed of and more. I could go to school in the worst possible mood and all sixty of my little munchkins are able to pick up my spirits instantly with their kindness, their quirky personalities, and their ability to blow my mind with their innocence and intelligence. I feel so lucky to have this job as many people can only dream of being in a position like I am in. I also had a very successful interview that has opened the door to future LTO positions for the following year, which I was told was also a difficult hurdle to overcome. I am very proud of my success. I am very proud of me.

 

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I am dating my best friend. Anyone who frequents 9gag or is a friend of memes knows all about the “friendzone”. It may have taken eight years but that friendzone was defeated! There was a period in both our lives where we were as close as can be and wondered about whether there would ever be something more between us. And then there was a period in our lives, let’s call them the “lost years”, where our friendship had a total hiatus and we wondered whether the bond we imagined was all a ruse and we were both foolish to think there would be a future for us. Thankfully, the stars aligned at a moment that worked perfectly in both our lives and we came back together with a stronger bond than we ever imagined. I am truly lucky to be dating my best friend. I am truly blessed to have someone in my life that makes me laugh until my stomach aches, smile until my cheeks are in pain, love with such strength that my heart beats faster than I could ever imagine. I have so much fun with him and I am so happy to have him as not only a friend anymore but also as my love. He is immensely important to me and he is immensely wonderful; though I knew this about him from the first day I met him.

 


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I adopted a second dog. From the moment I saw Rukia’s sad eyes on the Hamilton Burlington SPCA’s website, I knew I had to head over there and visit her. I am so glad I went there immediately because such a sweet dog as this would have been snatched up instantly. She was a nervous dog who walked very low to the ground but as soon as she met me, she smooshed her head into my lap and laid down, wagging her tail very slowly. I was instantly in love. I texted my family and Jesse to tell them I was adopting another dog and they called me crazy. They soon came to see why I acted so impulsively; Rukia is the sweetest, most loyal, protective and loving dog I have ever met. While Luna is wonderfully sweet and a darling, she is also very independent. Rukia is the opposite. Rukia wants to be around you all the time and if she can put her head on you, she is happy. She wants you to be proud of her and making you angry makes her beyond sad. She just wants you to love her immensely and with a face like hers, and a spirit like hers, it is impossible not to love her. She is a wonderful addition to my little family and Luna has made a best friend and a sister for life. They are inseparable. They groom each other, they play together, they bicker with one another; they are like true sisters. Rukia has filled a space in my heart that I didn’t know was waiting to be filled. She is my little lion, my baby dingo, my sunspot. My skies are now filled with my little moon and my darling sun.

 

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I bought a house! In five days time I get the keys to my very first house, something I have been waiting to buy for myself for a while and, thanks to my LTO, was able to achieve a few months ago. I cannot believe how time flew to these last few days before the keys are in my hands and it is officially mine. It is a wonderful little one and a half story home in a nice neighbourhood in Hamilton. It has a kitchen, a dining room, a living room, a full washroom and an office on the first floor. On the second floor, it has two bedrooms and the old large closet has been transformed into a huge washroom. It also has a finished basement and a nice, big backyard for the pups! How much more perfect could I get for me and the dogs? It is still mind-blowing to think that I own a house. I really feel like the adult I so feared becoming. But I am so proud of myself because this is all my own. I am owning this on my own, I went forward with the decision all on my own and I feel independent, grown, mature, responsible… I am so proud of the woman I have become and knowing that my family is proud of me too makes me even more excited of these achievements and these milestones I am reaching.

 

It has truly been a while since I posted and there have truly been some amazing things that have happened to me since. I am so grateful for all the amazing changes I have shared in this post and the smaller (but no less significant) moments that haven’t made the post. I am truly blessed. I am truly lucky (but I would like to believe that I made my own luck). I am truly happy as I have so many things to be happy about!

 

Much Love,
Claudia Amendola

Thank you, Me

I don’t think people take enough time to reflect and be thankful for themselves and certain aspects of their personality or their characteristics. Today, I will take the opportunity to mention things about myself that I am thankful for, and what I wish to improve upon.

Things I am thankful for:
– my strength
– my bravery
– my naivety as it causes people who might have the intention to hurt me great guilt when they realize how I approach them with kindness
– my positivism
– my light in dark times
– my ability to search for a lesson or a strength that comes from each struggle or weakness
– my ability to listen
– having the wisdom and experience that I believe I am able to share with others who might need it
– my drive
– my internal drive to nurture

Things I need to work on:
Something I have been having great struggle with lately is my expression of emotion. I find great difficulty in sharing with others how I appreciate them, how they make me feel, how I feel about them, etc. I feel robotic at times, unable to get the words out, or stumbling over my words as I try to bashfully explain what is going on in my head. A year ago today I lost a friend who was taken far too soon before her time. I am not sure that I ever let her know how much I appreciated her kindness, her love, her smile. It has taught me to take great care into letting people know what they mean to me, because you never know when they won’t be around anymore. Yet, I still find myself struggling to climb that wall. I love with such deepness, I care with such overpowering intensity, yet I can’t seem to share this with people most important to me. When I reflect upon why I don’t open up and allow myself to be a big ball of mush with people that are important to me, I come to the following conclusions:
– I am afraid it is a sign of weakness, I am afraid of the vulnerability of it all
– I am afraid of manipulation, of my feelings being used against me
– I am afraid of being hurt
– I worry about whether things are better left unsaid, I worry about change
My main concern about opening myself up to others and letting them see how I really feel about them, or even showing them emotion beyond my smiles and my happiness, is vulnerability. I have worked so hard to bring myself to where I am in my life, I have struggled to make happiness and personal strength a priority, that I am afraid that admitting to myself and to others that they could be one of the catalysts to this happiness would cause me to lose a little bit of my personal power. It makes me feel as though my happiness is no longer reliant on me alone, but now someone else has some responsibility in the matter. I am afraid to pass on the torch. I am afraid to give someone else some of that power in fear of them abusing it or using it against me or, worse off, leaving it to rot. So, by containing my feelings, by ignoring them, by trying not to acknowledge anything my heart might be responsive to, by stumbling over what I have to say when I try and share it with another, I am, in some way, shape or form, defending myself and protecting myself.

It is a silly defense mechanism as I would like, more than anything, to really feel again. I have said it before; there is no use to my walls. I’d like to overcome them.
I am thankful for many things about myself, and I also thankful for the ability to recognize things about myself that I wish to change. It is a strength, I find, and it is difficult to admit to oneself. I take pride in my ability to see what is wrong with me because I know it will help make me a better person in the future.

What are you thankful for about yourself? What do you hope to change?
With Love,
Claudia Amendola

The Fill

Sometimes I post private blog posts so that I don’t forget moments and what I was feeling in a specific place at a specific time.
That is the beauty and the horror of the internet; it is the first time in life where all our memories are ordered, usually chronologically, and ready to be relived, reflected upon, perhaps ready to ignite happiness once more or to inflame sadness one thought they had been rid of. I don’t know how I feel about it. I don’t know whether I preferred the days where my memories were stored in my heart or if I prefer these days where I can drown myself in it all, all over again.

 

Much Love,
Claudia mendola

It’s been a while

I haven’t had anxiety in a long time. I do, tonight! It is unexplained, it has no catalyst, it has no source. But it is making my heart race, my breathing short, and my insomnia grow.

All I want to do is sleep but all my body wants to do is deny it from me. And I have no reason as to why this started so I have no way of figuring out how to end it! One moment life is sweet, beautiful, bright… the next, my heart is at it like a jackhammer. What is this craziness!?

HALP! I NEEDS IT!
Much Love,
Claudia Amendola

circles

Everything in my life seems to go full circle. I feel like a bird (“If you’re a bird, I’m a bird.”). I may migrate when my surroundings aren’t to my liking, but I always return to my home, to where I belong. I begin my life in one place, I change as everything around me changes, but in time I return to where I am meant to be.

 

I was born at McMaster, I returned to McMaster for schooling.
I lived in the Hamilton area as a young child, I return here for my first place on my own as an adult.
I was inspired, at St. Luke’s school, by my grade two teacher to become an educator and I return to the school as a substitute in her class.

These are just a few examples and others are far more private, but I truly feel like I am flying, constantly soaring, gliding to where I am meant to be. And that place always happens to be where it all began.
Much Love,
Claudia Amendola