Friday, August 31, 2012

Day 31: The "Friendship" Myth

It’s my last official night of the Summer Blog Challenge. As I mentioned previously, I will be continuing on with my challenge through September, blogging at least once every two days.  I have decided to do this because I a) am really enjoying the release that comes with my nightly purging writing exercises, and b) because there are many topics that I really wanted to take on but simply didn’t have the time to complete the necessary research or to invest the kind of time that a post of that nature would necessitate.  I have made commitments to myself to write on certain topics that are dear to my heart including a letter to a ‘new’ friend on why I think she’s great, a post for ‘Make Jen’s Day’ recounting a good deed that I have been planning, and a long awaited post on my struggle with being a practicing Catholic in today’s socio-political dynamic.  These are all topics that I am 100% determined to write on, but I need the extra “in between” day to really do a good job them, hence the “every other day” goal.

I have thought long and hard about what my last official post of the challenge should be. I had planned on writing on a completely different topic, but after opening my facebook and seeing the same quote shared by at least three of my friends (and dozens more in the past few weeks), I feel the need to address a topic that has been burning at me for quite some time. I’ve hesitated to write on it for fear that it might make people feel defensive…

But, hey, might as well go out with a bang, right?


There’s an internet “meme” that been pissing me off lately. It’s everywhere I look, shared by half a dozen people a week. And it is seriously annoying the hell out of me.

What is it you ask?

Here it is, in all its overly-simplistic, hipster glory:

"Real Friends don't come with "Fragile" stickers...They are not easily scared off, turned off, or ticked off. Real friends are cross-their-hearts-and-hope-to-die, fair-and-foul-weather, good times and bad times, fifty-fifty, tell you anything, trust you with their life and deepest secrets. Real friends are there for you through thick and thin and love you no matter what!!!"

On the surface, it seems like such a nice idea; such a beautiful description of unconditional friendship.

But here’s the thing: There’s no such thing.

It’s time to blow the lid off one of the biggest myths of our generation.

Contrary to what Facebook and stupid memes like this would have you believe, friendship is not unconditional.

Nor should it be.

Every friendship has a line- a fine line- that distinguishes the stuff that you are willing to put up with from the stuff that you simply can not. This is not only inevitable, quite frankly it is necessary for our own survival.

The problem with the quote above is that it only works if the relationship is perfectly reciprocal. You need to be the kind of friend that you are expecting out of others.  And very few people out there are capable of keeping up with the terms of this kind of social contract indefinitely.

I’m a good friend to many.  I’m a great friend to a select few.  I am a crappy “friend” to about 80% of my facebook “friend” list, most of which I struggle to find time to see and talk to on a regular basis.  This isn’t because I don’t care about them.  It is because we ultimately have only so many hours in the day, and “real” friendship- especially the kind listed above- is a HUGE time commitment. I would even go so far as to say that it is an impossible expectation to place on another human being. Unconditional love is a major demand.

There is only one person that I have vowed the kind of love and commitment that this quote would demand from me, and that is my husband.  And even then, let’s face it- 1/3 of marriages fall apart because one of the two (or both) was unable to keep up with their end of the bargain.

I’m also going to take this one step further and state that I’m not sure it’s healthy to unconditionally love someone else.  We need to have barriers and limits on what we are willing to accept, otherwise we run the very real risk of finding ourselves in abusive situations.

I love my husband and my child, as close to unconditionally as I can love another human being. But if ever our relationship were to turn physically or emotionally abusive, I would have no choice but to sever the ties out of the need for self-preservation.  And I am a hell of a lot more committed to my family than I am to 99% of my friendships.

I love my friends. We are good to each other and treat each other with respect.  But if these relationships were to become one-sided, it would become incredibly difficult to maintain them. 

I’m not saying that there won’t be times in every relationship where the balance is thrown off and one person gives more than they receive in return.  This is, sadly, a reality of life. We don’t always treat each other the way that we would like to be treated, and there are many friendships that I have neglected who have stuck through with me because they know that- when things settle down- my heart is still committed to being there and being mutually engaged in rebuilding.

 Likewise, I have often been the friend who found herself giving, over and over, and feeling forgotten and left behind by people I care about.  This is painful but is a reality of friendship and human relationships as a whole.

HOWEVER, when the balance gets tipped so far in the favour of one that the other is genuinely being neglected, abused, or taken advantage of, it is without a doubt time to sever the ties.  This can happen over the course of years, or can happen in one day if you are treated poorly enough.

Let’s be realistic here: each of us probably has at least half a dozen “bad” friends that we would be better off without.

Things like sitcoms, Facebook, and Twitter have deluded us into believing that the quantity of friends matters more than quality and that once you are friends with someone you must always be friends with them.

This is a myth. It was a myth in high school, and it is a myth now.

The truth is that the more false “friends” you surround yourself with, the less time you have to focus your energy and affection on those who truly matter to you.  This is a game that I have found myself caught in far too much over the past few years.  My time, my energy, and my efforts have been sorely misplaced, desperately trying to solidify new friendships over focusing on maintaining the old ones. 

I have been guilty of being a crappy friend to far too many people who matter the most to me.

Now, this is not a self-pity post, and I’m not going to pretend that this has not been a two way street.  Quite the opposite, in fact. I am asserting that- ultimately- unless both parties are actively engaged in making a friendship flourish, it will not.  It might last, and stand the test of time. But it will not have the quality of a friendship that has been well maintained.  It will always be unbalanced, disjointed, and resentful until reciprocity has been reestablished.

So do me a favour, Facebookers of the world. Don’t delude yourself into thinking that friendship- OR ANY HUMAN RELATIONSHIP- is anything but completely fragile. Always treat it as it is fleeting and breakable, as if you must handle it with the utmost care or risk losing it completely.  Because, whether you like it or not, friendship is not unconditional.  It needs to be nourished in order to thrive.

And next time you find yourself in a friendship that is fizzling, or wonder why you haven’t seen so and so for quite some time, ask yourself whether or not you are the blame for the situation.  If you are, take the genuine and sincere measures you need to in order to rectify the situation and hope to God that it isn’t too late. And if you aren’t to blame, if you are in fact the person who is always giving and never receiving, maybe it’s time to acknowledge that this friend just ‘isn’t that in to you’ and it’s time for you to move on. Remember that you are not a victim of circumstance. Friendship is a choice, and walking away is too. If being a friendship makes you feel like crap, it's time to walk away.

There are plenty of friends in the sea- find the ones who deserve you, and be the kind of person who deserves them in return.  Then you won’t need a stupid meme to tell you what friendship is. You’ll already know.

A very special thank you to my close friends who fill my life with laughter, joy and love. You are the ones who do not need to be named, because you already know who you are. You are the ones who have held me through my most painful moments, the ones who have nursed me when I was sick, the ones who have shared in my greatest joys, and the ones who have celebrated my greatest accomplishments.  I know that I don’t always deserve you, but I do try to and I look forward to trying even harder in the future. In the meanwhile, know that you mean the world to me, and I wouldn’t be who I am without you in my life. XOXO Zita

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days).  To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: 

Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Aramelle at One Wheeler's World
Cliff at Peer Pressure Works
Tam at Tam I Am 
Liam at In The Now 
Jessica at 2plus2X2

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Day 30: Passive Aggressive. (With a LOT of swearing...)

Sometimes the only thing that can keep you sane in life is a passive aggressive, super duper secret, no one knows what I'm talking about post/status update/tweet/whatever.

Usually people think that these messages are always about them personally.  I think this highlights beautifully the incredible narcissism of the technology generation- after all, we seem to think that the entire planet cares what we had for dinner...obviously everyone's lives must revolve around us somehow.

I try to stay away from these passive-aggressive statements as I find they lead to more trouble than good in most cases.  I like to reserve them for moments, like tonight, where I might not actually be able to sleep unless I can get some things off my chest.  And I like to keep them about as vague as humanly possible, so that no one (sometimes not even me) knows who or what I'm referring to.

So, here is my passive-aggressive ranty post.  If you think it's about you, it probably is. Or not. That's for me to know, and for you to assume, get angry about, cause a fight and ultimately secretly hate me.  And if you find yourself feeling this way, I recommend posting about it on your facebook wall...just to get back at me. ;)


There is absolutely nothing in the world that annoys me more than people who go on and on about topics that they claim to have some sort of expertise on, and yet completely ignore the facts and misrepresent them in ways where you wonder if they've ever even read a book on the topic in the first place.

Seriously, people. How fucking hard is it to google a topic and do a little homework on a topic before spouting off on some discussion, claiming to be all knowing about something that you clearly have no fucking clue about.  At least look at the Wikipedia page, and maybe even the bibliographical references at the bottom. You might get a bit of an education.

Reading one or two books on a topic, especially if they already agree with your point of view, isn't fucking research.  Sorry. You need to actually look at the entire topic first, from all angles, and use sources that are valid, unbiased, and treat the subject matter fairly.

Wannabe experts quoting wannabe experts who happened to write a fucking blog post on a topic is going to become the end of intelligent dialogue as we know it.

All of you need to go back to English 10 and learn how to research a topic, determine a proper source, and formulate an actual debate against something.  Claiming that a controversial topic is "black and white" or that "everyone knows..." something that isn't even close to a proven fact is dumb.  Especially when your "facts" turn out to be completely false.

Unfortunately, we live in an age where he (or she) who types THE BOLDEST AND THE LOUDEST is always in the RIGHT.  These cyber bullies would have you believe that just because they can type faster, use bigger words or copy and paste an article from the Onion as "proof" of their position, they must be right.

And honestly, 99% of the time, it's just not worth arguing with them because you'll never change their minds anyway.  And they will make you stupider for engaging with them.

It's time you can never get back. You should have used it sleeping. Or having dirty monkey sex. Or brushing your teeth.  Or washing your toilet. All these would be more productive than trying to talk to an internet idiot.

So, for now, I'm going to turn off my computer before I throw into a wall.

Goodnight, morons of the internet.  Do me a favour and shut the fuck up.


Whew, I feel better.  Goodnight guys :)

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days).  To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: 

Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Aramelle at One Wheeler's World
Cliff at Peer Pressure Works
Tam at Tam I Am 
Liam at In The Now 
Jessica at 2plus2X2

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

Day 29: On Strategy.

I promised myself when I started this challenge that I wouldn’t resort to ‘shop talk’.  I spent almost the entire summer last year focusing on work related topics, and- to be frank- while I find my work fascinating, I’m sure that most people find Porter’s 4 Corners analysis to be about as stimulating as a lecture on the mating habits of snails.

But every so often, work and pleasure meld beautifully and I am reminded of why I enjoy what I do so much.  Such was the case tonight, as I was watching TV.

As an independent contractor, I wear many hats.  Sometimes, my work calls for me to focus on financial forecasting, and other times it comes down to operational management. But my very favourite thing to do is business strategy.  There is nothing I love more than breaking down a business to its bear bones, figuring out its competitive edge, analyzing the competition until all their weaknesses and strengths are revealed, and hammering out a plan to leverage all this information and turn it into sales and profits.  It is an incredible rush to see a plan come to fruition, and watch the results build in front of my eyes.

I’ve always enjoyed a good game of strategy. Growing up, I hated playing chess (I found it too slow) but loved to watch others play it.  I loved analyzing their moves, watching their faces, trying to predict what their next step would be, in the hopes of picking out the winner several moves ahead of the final mate.

I have an affinity for crime novels and suspense films, and a passion for figuring out “whodunit” plots.  I think my respect for my mom increased ten fold the day she and I first watched The Usual Suspects and she figured out the ending twenty minutes into the movie. (Seriously- she is that brilliant.)

I love the rush that goes into predicting behaviour, which is likely what drew me to my double major of Political Science and Sociology.  And there is no board game on the planet that I love more than a good game of Diplomacy, played among peers. (If you haven’t played this game before, and are a fan of Risk, Chess and/or Battleship, then I strongly recommend you find yourself a group of 5-7 players and give Diplomacy a go. If you’re in the Edmonton area, count me in.)

So it should come as no surprise that I love Big Brother. It’s my guilty pleasure, my péché véniel. I’m a pretty big fan of bad reality TV in general, but Big Brother takes the cake. I love to follow the minds of the houseguests as they work their way through different alliances and strategies to hopefully find themselves still standing in the final two.  I’m enthralled by how they reach their choices, how they interact with a group of complete strangers, swearing allegiances until-death-do-they-part with people they’ve known for three days.  I’m always impressed to see the brawn (competition winners) battle the brains (social game players) and watch how the final jury of peers represents its collective value system in choosing the “best of the best”.

Tonight’s episode of Big Brother had, in my opinion, the very best game move I have ever seen- both on the show, and in the history of reality television.  I’m not going to go into details for those who haven’t watched it yet, but suffice it to say that it was epic. (For those who want spoilers, see them hereIt reminded me of why I love this stupid game so much. I was simultaneously horrified by the socio-pathology of the move, and ridiculously impressed by the cunningness of it.  More over, I was completely humbled by the fact that not only did I not see it coming (despite my 14 faithful years of watching the show), but it completely 100% blindsided me.  My jaw fell to the floor, and I seriously wanted to leap out of my couch and give the player a standing ovation.

And then I was forced to ask myself a tough question: Am I really rooting for someone because they are a lying, deceitful, conniving human being who uses whatever means they can to manipulate others into doing their bidding, even if it means swearing on the Bible, all in the name of making a few extra bucks? 


I sure am.

Maybe that’s why I’m a good business strategist.

All’s fair in love, war, Big Brother and business, kids.


This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days).  To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: 

Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Aramelle at One Wheeler's World
Cliff at Peer Pressure Works
Tam at Tam I Am 
Liam at In The Now 
Jessica at 2plus2X2

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Day 28: Awesome.

Every so often, someone you know and love does something remarkable. I’m not talking about the every day, “wow, that’s so great” stuff like getting a new job or accomplishing a small goal. I’m talking about really life altering, put yourself out there, suffer for your art, and “persevere no matter the obstacles are” kind of awesome.

These people blow me away, not only by their sheer awesomeness, but also by the fact that these extraordinary people have chosen me to share in their journey towards greatness.

In my time, I’ve known people who have crossed international boundaries doing political/activist/missionary work that saved hundreds lives.  I’ve known people who have written musicals and plays that are being performed across the world. I’ve known people who have run for political office, and who have brought messages of hope for the future. I’ve known people who saved the lives of the sick, have held brains, hearts and futures in their hands and sliced through them with knives. 

Seriously- I’m surrounded by some pretty fantastic human beings.

Tonight, I want to highlight one in particular.

Kasha is a ‘new’ friend, but a dear one. Through the past year, we’ve shared many laughs and tales of adventure together. I’ve gotten to know her story, watched her struggle with single parenthood, watched her thrive as an instructor and entrepreneur, got to meet her beautiful daughters, and hear about her hopes and dreams.

And now, I get to bear witness to one of those dreams coming true.

Today, Kasha, along with her musical partner Mitch, launched her first music cd, Southern Ground, as part of the musical ground The Orchard.

Frick that’s cool.

You should buy it. Cause she’s awesome. And beautiful. And talented. And the music is really, really good (bearing in mind that this comes from a total music snob who generally hates other female singers and actually genuinely dislikes country music as an artform…).

I’m super proud of you, Kasha. Keep reaching for the stars, because that’s exactly where you belong.

Find their cd at our local Walmart, HMV and Lammle’s, or purchase it off itunes.

Learn more about The Orchard Here:

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days).  To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: 

Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Aramelle at One Wheeler's World
Cliff at Peer Pressure Works
Tam at Tam I Am 
Liam at In The Now 
Jessica at 2plus2X2

Monday, August 27, 2012

Day 27: Silent Sammie and the Attack of the Terrible Twos

Sammie is a one of those really nice kids.  He’s not fussy, seldom cries, and has only had a handful of full blown toddler-style melt downs in his life. For the most part, he makes it damn near impossible to complain about him- and, in fairness, I seldom do.

Now, as is expected, the frequency of the toddler style meltdowns has increased proportionately as he has approached, reached and surpassed the milestone ‘second’ birthday.  He is, beyond the shadow of a doubt, fully in the throes of his version of the ‘terrible twos’.  Having worked with dozens (if not hundreds) of children in this age range, I’ve seen this coming for quiet a while. And- again- he has it much milder than many of the other kids I’ve known. But, it’s still a significant personality shift from the mellow, easy to please, quiet and general happy-go-lucky baby I have come to know and love. I’m now needing to learn, and very quickly adapt, to his growing sense of independence and need for self-control, two qualities that oftentimes conflict with my expectations and desires for him and for me.

Now, let me be very clear here: I fully admit that I am not very good at adapting. And, for the most part, when I look back in hindsight at Sammie’s tantrums, there are usually signs, symptoms, and predictions that I could have made that would have eased the situation considerably. But, slow as I may be, I am nonetheless learning.  Day by day, I’m starting to map out the times of day where he is most susceptible to meltdowns. I’m identifying the types of toys that he finds most frustrating, and choosing more appropriate snacks during the hours where he exerts the most energy.  It’s an ongoing process, and one that changes on an almost constant basis.  But I am definitely trying.

One of the things that makes this infinitely more challenging is that Sammie is speechless. I don’t mean that he is language delayed, or only uses a few words here and there…I mean, he is 100% speechless. No words. At all. Not “mama”, not “papa”, not “juice”, not even “Thomas”…


He has used all of these words, and probably a dozen or so more, several times in his life. But usually he uses them only once or twice, as if to establish to himself, and to the world that he knows them and can therefore move on, never having to utter them again.

I am extraordinarily grateful that he doesn’t appear to have any other learning or development delays.  Aside from his self-imposed silence, Sammie is a perfectly normal two-year old. In fact, his gross and fine motor skills are practically off the charts advanced for his age group.  And, while he doesn’t engage in speech, Sammie utilizes a very advanced form of body language and an array of hand signs that makes him understandable to all his caregivers and loved ones.  He is surprisingly excellent at making himself understood, and reminds me every day that "speech" is only one small component of "communication". His body, his face, his eyes, even the specific tones of his hums and babbles, tell stories more effectively than many adult speakers I know. 


When the tantrums start to arise, Sammie starts to lose control over his body. That’s when the trouble starts.

This poor kid, who relies entirely on his non-verbal skills to communicate his needs and wants to the world, is rendered completely helpless by the sheer weight of the emotions and adrenaline coursing through his veins.  His frustration reaches epic proportions, as he finds himself completely incapable of communicating to the world the source of his anger.

Sometimes, I can easily figure out the cause. Whether it be a train that won’t stick together, or a desperate need for a glass of apple juice, if I happen to be paying close attention at the time I can usually identify the source.  But other times, these moments of sheer panic, anxiety, and rage seem to stem out of nowhere. By the time I figure out the root of the problem, he is usually so beside himself that absolutely nothing will soothe him.

And so, I hold him in my arms, trying hard to protect myself from his flailing limbs and unclipped finger nails…and together we ride out the storm.

Sometimes it’s a few minutes. Other times, it’s been close to an hour.

The horror always passes, and- almost as if by magic- he resumes the wonderful and happy persona that I adore so much.

And when he does, I have to step away- this time to calm my own raging nerves and emotions- and I all too often find myself crying my own tears of frustration.

There is nothing- nothing- more challenging that being unable to communicate with my child.

We start Sammie’s “official” Speech Language Therapy on September 9th.  It can’t come quickly enough. In the meantime, I’m going to continue working on it on a daily basis, doing my best to guide him towards speech on his own.

But, until then, I’ll probably always spend an hour or two of post-tantrum time wondering what I’ve done wrong, and why I can’t help him. I’ll ask myself if I’ve somehow managed to fail him already, and I’ll burrow myself in fear that he’ll never learn to speak on his own.

And, just like Sammie’s tantrums, these emotions will render me powerless and speechless, completely shut out for the rest of the world.

Then- just like Sammie’s tantrums- this emotional outburst will pass, sometimes quickly and sometimes much too slowly…But pass it will, because ultimately, the day must go on. 

Whether we want it to or not.

This blog is part of the 2012 Summer Blog Challenge (31 posts in 31 days).  To follow along with my fellow writers, visit their blogs: 

Natasha at Natural Urban Mamas
Meaghan at Magz D Life
Aramelle at One Wheeler's World
Cliff at Peer Pressure Works
Tam at Tam I Am 
Liam at In The Now 
Jessica at 2plus2X2