The Emotional Journey

I have been a self proclaimed advocate for prisoner rights for several years. I have written several short articles on addiction, parole and institualization which were shared by the New Brunswick chapter of the John Howard Society. I have also spent a lot of one on one time getting to know parolees and ex-offenders through my volunteer work.

The journey to Burwash was a personal one, I had been in a long term relationship with someone who grew up in the system. The personal stories and emotions that went along with their time only made me want to help more. I had visited many institutions but was never able to truly experience my thoughts while there. I had done a bit of research and found Burwash and decided to make the journey.

Once I reached the coordinates for the old Burwash road, I started my trek in. Initially there were no signs indicating that it was a private property but, I was greeted by a gentlemen who let me know that I could obtain a pass for 20$ should I choose.He warned that if I didn’t obtain the pass I could face trespassing charges but, I could proceed at my own risk.

If you hike at a good pace you can get into prison ground in roughly 1.5 hrs. The terrain is soft and uneven however, certainly hike-able with a good pair of shoes.

Road
Hike in on Old Burwash Road.

As I hiked into the woods the emotions started to take over, I wasn’t sure how I was going to process this experience. I have been in many institutions but, never an institution that I have been able to sit and truly process the building, emotions and my surroundings.

The building is decaying and there has been a lot of vandalism that had occurred over the past 40 years.

The Burwash Prison, also know as the Bison Industrial Farm was in operation from 1914-1975 at which point they deemed the prison too costly to maintain. The prison was in fact self sufficient. They farmed the land and made their own food that supplied not only the institution but the local market.

If you have been any institution at all they all have that same “make up” reception, security “the bubble” and typically into a visitation or common area. The structures are all still in place and left little to the imagination.

As I walked down towards the bubble I remembered some of the times I had to enter active institutions and be subject to extensive searches and very unpleasant staff. There is never a time that, that process becomes less invasive or familiar.

The provincial Jail had a capacity for 186 inmates, and all the cells are still present. In some cases the doors still remain intact.

The first two floors contained primarily the minimum security cells which were approximately 8×10 and still has the sinks and toilets intact. I took the time to sit and process how it must have felt to spend up to 2 years within these walls. Federal can go up to life with as little as 1 hr a day outside alone.

This institution was by no means as rigid as the Federal Max institutions I was familiar with but, I am sure the emotions were just as raw. The emotions came rushing over me. I was angry, sad, lonely and most of all disgusted by the things these walls must have seen.

It always shocks me the complete lack of human rights behind these steel bars and the general lack of respect for your fellow human no matter their past.

Once I took some time to work through some feelings and emotions I carried on to the second and third floors. The third floor housed the showers, what appeared to be medium and/or solitary confinement cells. The second floor had a mix of cells the mess hall and the gym/auditorium. When I made my way through the stairwells to the basement

 

I came across the kitchen which still had the “bake o Matic” and stoves fully intact as they would have been all those years ago. The pantry was bare but, I could still imagine the work that went on before each meal in this small space.  I could imagine the amount of fresh bread that was baked at Burwash and sold at the local general store. IMG_6827.JPG

After my time inside the institution I made my way to the outside facilities on the property. The water treatment, Power station and barns still remain on this large 40+ acre property.

I am glad that I made the trip despite many people saying it was a bad idea. I was able to see a piece of history, took the time to process some deamons and experienced something that ultimately I would never of gotten to the change to do.

These were my marbles!

FUCK OFF

I have tattoos, I know right you are totally shocked! I got my first one in ’96 and never really looked back.  I am a Suicide Girl and a girl that has a mind that doesn’t quit. Im artistic, scientific and witty!

I have always been the nerd, dork, opinionated French chick, odd ball, macabre mind and a bit eccentric. I have always worn too much clothing, been painfully shy and oblivious with boys.

That being said, despite been a social black sheep it never ceases to amaze me the amount of people that insist on labelling me.  Sometimes labels are a good thing.. perhaps being looked at for your work, intelligence, passion and compassion. Labelling can also be very bad when people assume something based on social stereotypes.

Tattoos and my red hair do not make me a slut. I know its crazy but, very true.  Posing for photoshoots in a tasteful way does not make me a whore. Blogging about pop culture and societal issues doesn’t mean I have done or support any of those activities.

I can be outgoing and witty when I get to know you but, slutty is the furthest thing from the truth. I don’t depend on men to make me happy and never have; Nor would I use them for my own devises .

So please stop labelling, perhaps just say “Hi” I may just say it back.

Safer Injection Site

My day started with an appointment at City Hall, I pulled into the parking lot and I became a bit nervous. I have arrived not to visit city hall but the Unsanctioned safe injection site that has been set up in the far corner.  If I was nervous how did the people who are in need  the service feel? I had my training behind me, my Narcan kit in hand and I made the walk over to the small trailer in the corner of the lot.

This safe injection site is unsanctioned despnaloxone-kitite the epidemic that has swept the island in the past few months. 7000 calls to 911 for overdoses in December alone on the island. Which is why our fearless leader and civilian set up this much needed space to protect and educate local users.

When I arrived to the trailer, I was welcomed with open arms by two other volunteers. I was in charge of CPR and Narcan administration. The two others were on crowd control and 911 duty. This site has fruit, water, coffee and clean supplies for the visitors to use. We also educate them on how to use the Narcan kits and provide free kits when requested.

After only 15 minutes on site, I met a gentleman who is in his late 40’s who moved to the island from Ontario. In his former life, he too was a paramedic. He fell into the world of cocaine and has since found himself homeless and a heroin user. We spoke for a few minutes while I made him a to go bag and I was able to give him a few resources to check into. He was very happy I took the time to talk and I hope it made the difference for him. Not long after a young regular arrived and asked for a clean “rig” and began to inject.

To be clear, we are not able to watch them while they inject. We must remain behind a curtain so that we are not an accessory to crime. We are only allowed to step in should an emergency arises.

This young man had injected too much crack and was struggling. I stepped in and told him who I was and what I was there to do. “my name is Meg Mr. X, I am here to help you. You are in distress and I am going to help you. Stay with me okay? You are going to be okay, I am here” He was struggling to stay with me. I kept checking his vitals and asked him to look at me. ” Mr X, show me your blue eyes. You are doing great. Stay with me okay! ” This continued on for almost three hours, then he started to come around.

Once he came around, I was able to talk to him. He apologized for what happened. I explained to him this is my passion, to ensure he was safe. I made sure he had a safe place to go and made sure he had everything he needed for the night since he would be sleeping on the street again. If this site had not been there, what would have happened? Would he have been another statistic? I hate to imagine such a young man having his life come to an end far before his time.

The resources are there but, they are so overwhelmed with demand the wait lists are longer than some of the users may even live. We need more education and safe sites available.

The epidemic is real and so are its victims!

 

What a shame!

Unless you have been avoiding all sources of media and living off the grid for the past couple of years, even decades you have heard the term “Body Shaming” or some ugly cousin to it.  What I am absolutely shocked to discover is that not only are women being “Body Shamed” but, men as well.

In case you are unaware of this phenomenon the Urban Dictionary says the following

“Shaming someone for their body type. Sara: “ew hes too skinny” Jeff: “shes soooo fat it’s disgusting” Mary: “she’d be pretty if she were skinnier”

After reading many articles and diving into the subject after having a chat with a friend, I was so mad that it is so prevalent for both sexes. I am a little programmed to think it’s just us girls that are judged.

Maybe I am old fashion, maybe I am oblivious or I don’t care.. I feel that people are wonderful beings no matter their stature, creed, race, hair, no hair, thin, bigger .. and the list can probably go on. We all are incredibly interesting and have very unique things to offer and we are lucky17190498_1017073678428468_4524895960116669241_n to meet someone that compliments our personality and makes us feel special.

This is an age where people will probably meet their “match” or “dish du jour” online though a Tinder or POF type application…  The virtual game of dating roulette! Sadly, for some vain people there are certain traits that cannot be measured virtually.  Height, Weight, vanity and crazy scale. ( I suggest watching)

 

Sadly, you could have clicked( I don’t mean fucked),.  had the best conversation and really enjoyed your time with the other person .. but one of the fore-mentioned traits becomes a factor in whether to continue seeing that person.

I am no Kate Moss,  I am a nerd, I am awkward as fuck and dating seems like rocket science to me but, rest assured if, I clicked with someone the last thing that I would say is ” I am sorry, your too short, your too fat or my gawd you are bald!” I have however, been on the other side of that conversation and well it hurts!  No one is perfect, I don’t care who you are and for god sakes think before you speak. Guy or Girl you are being super rude.. humanity basics .. “Nothing good to say, keep it to yourself”

It is a real shame, that we feel it okay to treat people in such a way.. everything has become so under-appreciated and “oooh shiny” that we have become tackless ..

That Moment

That moment when you realize that you love someone but, you are not in love with them anymore. That moment when you don’t want to chase, worry and argue because it’s killing you both. In a way you feel like you are staying together for the dogs, or that the dogs are the only thing keeping you together.

My heart is broken, it has been torn to shreds and the band-aids are not holding it together anymore. I always believed you could forgive and forget but, the more times in life it has had to happen the more I realize you never forget. You forever have the little voice in your head; every time they go outside, go to the store or for a walk or use their phone.  The trust is broken and it seems as though it never gets a chance to repair.

Their anxiety creeps into your anxieties and you become scared, silenced and consumed. The mumbling, the body movements and chatter all feels as though you are forever wrong.

Moving, and re-building a life several times has not helped. Each time there is a move, I feel as though the consequences have become more severe. You can only save a human so many times before they have to save themselves. You wonder if you have stayed together for so long because you fear what would happen if you weren’t.

This isn’t how it should be, this isn’t what I fell in love with. This is not what I want for the rest of my life. I don’t want to be sad.

Side Tracked

I stand by anyone who needs me and I am the first one there if you call. I stand for the little guy who has no voice and I would do it until I was forcibly silenced. That is just who I am and always have been. I will chat with just about anyone and I will be sincere and treat you the same wether you are a transient or Bill Gates. Everyone is equal in my world.

I love being Meg! I may not always be loved but, I love who I am. I was told along time ago to follow my nose and I would never go wrong.. It has worked so far. Some people think that I am a gypsy who can’t get it together. They are a little off course, I have it together : I just choose to organize life differently. I am that true innocent geek girl that is so socially awkward it’s painful to watch.

I don’t typically open up to people, nor really talk about my past or even my so called failures or accomplishments in life… well because I did everything because I wanted to and not to hang a piece of paper on the wall. I don’t want to be rich or famous. I don’t want a giant house full of stuff. I want to learn and love. I want to continue to support myself and explore. I want to be loved by someone for who I am at the core. I want to have a sense of family and belonging. I want to laugh or cry with someone.. I need someone who is “My person” who stands up at bat for me and fights for who I am just like I would do in return.  I can’t always be the “Queen who protects the Knight”, it gets exhausting and tosses your whole world upside down over and over like a broken record.

I know this may be a bit of mishmosh, and it sort of is.. but its just where my head is at right at the moment. I needed to write down my thoughts and well.. here it is..

Safer Injection Site

My day started with an appointment at City Hall, I pulled into the parking lot and I became a bit nervous. I have arrived not to visit city hall but the Unsanctioned safe injection site that has been set up in the far corner.  If I was nervous how did the people who are in need  the service feel? I had my training behind me, my Narcan kit in hand and I made the walk over to the small trailer in the corner of the lot.

This safe injection site is unsanctioned despnaloxone-kitite the epidemic that has swept the island in the past few months. 7000 calls to 911 for overdoses in December alone on the island. Which is why our fearless leader and civilian set up this much needed space to protect and educate local users.

When I arrived to the trailer, I was welcomed with open arms by two other volunteers. I was in charge of CPR and Narcan administration. The two others were on crowd control and 911 duty. This site has fruit, water, coffee and clean supplies for the visitors to use. We also educate them on how to use the Narcan kits and provide free kits when requested.

After only 15 minutes on site, I met a gentleman who is in his late 40’s who moved to the island from Ontario. In his former life, he too was a paramedic. He fell into the world of cocaine and has since found himself homeless and a heroin user. We spoke for a few minutes while I made him a to go bag and I was able to give him a few resources to check into. He was very happy I took the time to talk and I hope it made the difference for him. Not long after a young regular arrived and asked for a clean “rig” and began to inject.

To be clear, we are not able to watch them while they inject. We must remain behind a curtain so that we are not an accessory to crime. We are only allowed to step in should an emergency arises.

This young man had injected too much crack and was struggling. I stepped in and told him who I was and what I was there to do. “my name is Meg Mr. X, I am here to help you. You are in distress and I am going to help you. Stay with me okay? You are going to be okay, I am here” He was struggling to stay with me. I kept checking his vitals and asked him to look at me. ” Mr X, show me your blue eyes. You are doing great. Stay with me okay! ” This continued on for almost three hours, then he started to come around.

Once he came around, I was able to talk to him. He apologized for what happened. I explained to him this is my passion, to ensure he was safe. I made sure he had a safe place to go and made sure he had everything he needed for the night since he would be sleeping on the street again. If this site had not been there, what would have happened? Would he have been another statistic? I hate to imagine such a young man having his life come to an end far before his time.

The resources are there but, they are so overwhelmed with demand the wait lists are longer than some of the users may even live. We need more education and safe sites available.

The epidemic is real and so are its victims!

 

The Bitch

I am the bitch that has been hurt, time and time again. I am the bitch who continues to try and put everyone else first. I am the bitch that once loved and trusted, even when I was hesitant. I am the bitch that has lost it all and rebuilt and managed to loose it all again. I am the bitch that I thought you can’t break. Guess what?,

This Bitch is broken!

The pieces are scattered everywhere across this vast country just like an old puzzle you would find at a flea market. You try to find all the pieces but, you always end up missing those few “key” ones to get it just right. Can I try and make the pieces fit? I am trying really hard… they just are going into place..

 

Try Harder

I have written about my struggles with anxiety, depression and OCD in the past. I have struggled with this “issues” as long as I can remember, as far back as childhood. It was about 6 years ago that I finally and forcefully received help after trying to end it all. I was placed in a room all my things taken from me, and placed in a “safe room” on watch.. I was very aware of my surroundings and what was happening.

I had just graduated with my Masters Degree in Strategic Planning, had a great career in finance and everything was headed in the right direction.. so it appeared from the outside looking in.  I woke up daily wanting to hide, cried in the bathrooms and picked my skin raw with worry. I was far from healthy and it had only gotten worse as time went on.

Back to this room, I was in front of the nurses station and could hear everything going on. I knew there has always been a stigma around mental health and was hoping that I would be treated with dignity as everyone should be. The nurse called out to the doctor on call  ” Want the drug addict or the Psych case” I was furious, I coufullsizerenderldn’t believe what I was hearing. I yelled at the nurse and asked her does she yell out to the doctor “want the fat person with knee issues or the smoker with the bad cough?!?!” we are all human and we deserve to be treated that way. We all have ups and downs and I was definitely at a low.

I was treated and sent home and for years I battled with that scenario, didn’t want to ever have to go back to the hospital for anything mental health related. I decided after 6 years to come off all my medications that had allowed me to be functional in society back in the fall. I wanted to try and manage on my own, I wanted to prove to myself that the meds are just a crutch and I can learn to cope and thrive on my own. Hind sight, all the coping in the world didn’t help me.. I needed to have help. I was slipping and fading fast.. I was scared to ask for help again. I was scared judgment would be cast upon me again.

Last night, I couldn’t stop crying. I couldn’t get the bad thoughts to go away and I couldn’t stop making my skin bleed. I had called the local mental health clinic over a week ago and was told the soonest was Dec 8th, I tried to find other ways to cope. I didn’t want to go to the hospital for fear of what would happen. I was told “Try harder” I was told ” the meds aren’t the cure all” I was told “suck it up”  and accused of wanting the meds only to be used as a weight loss tool ( I have admittedly gained weight in my depression)

Today I driving by an out patient care facility I stopped, no looking back I needed help. I walked in, registered and couldn’t look back. I was so pleased to be treated by the most pleasant and understanding doctor who helped me. Didn’t judge me and has agreed to stay with me while I gain my strength back. He saw that I was struggling, he saw the scars on my hands and neck, he knew this was real. Today was the day! today is the first day back to Meg.  I am a women who has an MBA, a degree in Neurosciences and a license to be a paramedic, I have no shame. I needed help and despite everything that has happened I was able to get it before it was really too late.

I hope someone out there reads this and it gives them hope to try again. Gives you strength not to give up when everyone else has given up on you. You are loved!

 

 

Almost Full Circle

I was a very withdrawn and shy child that never sought comfort from people but, rather from animals.

I was fortunate enough to be able to escape to the farm and immerse myself in the chores and the amazing spirt of the horses and dogs. I always felt relaxed when in the barn or out in the pasture.

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The outdoors and animals have always been my escape even through my divorce many years ago. I moved back to the farm and worked as a large animal vet assistant. It was hard work but incredibly therapeutic. I was very young and still wanted to go out and explore “meg” so I moved back to the city.

I have worked hard and had, have some sad times as many of us do, but all those challenges created the compassionate person I am today. I have been able to dabble in many fields of work while I paid my way through my MBA and Neurosciences degree. I believe everything to this point has given me a great understanding of what I want and the foundation to execute it.

The last few years I have lost balance in my life and I am striving to regain that ideal work life balance, without loosing my passion for both.  I have lived the city life and the country and now seek the simple life. A wholesome life for me and my little family. A place to grow, love and work as a collective towards a state of peace and balance.

Those who I have considered family have since passed on and I long for that family feeling and support more and more the past few years.

Just over a month ago I was sitting at Starbucks trying to get caught up on some correspondence when I came across an ad looking for a farmer. I got that twinkle in my eye and flutter in my heart and had to reply despite the fear of no response. This was my sign, could I have the life I have been searching and yearning for???

A few days had passed and I received a response.. I stopped everything (including the bobcat) and replied. I was a giddy girl as the hope rushed back.  After a few conversations, we were given the amazing gift of going to the farm for a weekend long interview.

This was no average interview, no suits, heels and portfolios needed. Just some durable paddock boots and a barn coat did the trick!

Upon arrival, I was able to dive in, 30 chickens arrived and we had to get them into their new digs. I have not changed into paddock boots that quick since my early 20’s. I walked down to the coop followed by the cutest of brown labs who than escorted us around the property.

The weather was calling for the worst storm of 54 years but, a little rain (or a lot) has never killed me. The winds however, had us all on high alert as their was a few big branches that caused havoc with the beautiful old trees.Luckily the storm was not a direct hit, so we were able to visit and work with the team to help with some of those branches .

All and all it was an amazing weekend filled with laughter, peace and wonderful memories and delicious food. The dream is still alive and hope to be able to complete the circle in the near future.