Category Archives: addiction

The demise of downtowns

I grew up in the small city of Welland Ontario, a city situated between Lake Ontario and Lake Erie. When I was growing up, it was a steel town – our main business was Atlas Steel, but there were other industrial companies located here. Our downtown was booming with business – lots of little mom and pop shops, bakeries, shoe stores, and a movie theatre where I saw many movies, including one of my favourites – Grease. I can still narrate this movie word for word…. but I digress.

Welland was a wonderful place to grow up. It was big enough to have fast food places and fun places to go shopping, lots of green space and beautiful parks to play in. Best friends were made at the local schools, and I am lucky that some of those friends are still friends to this day.

But then the industrial companies started to move out and our beautiful downtown changed with it. A big shopping mall opened in the late 70s in the north end, and that also affected our downtown. Many stores closed down because of the mall. And then Walmart moved in. Change is good, I believe that, but sometimes this kind of change is not always good.

Downtown Welland, like so many other downtowns in Canada (and I am sure in other countries as well), has become a destination for homeless, for addicts, and there is an increasing amount of crime happening in our downtown area.

I was witness to a sad event today on my way home from a nice day out. I arrived at our downtown bus terminal (never a place where good things happen…) and I was witness to a woman, who I believe looked close to my age, completely strung out. The police had to be called and, as she was in possession of drugs, she was handcuffed and taken away – presumably first to the hospital since she couldn’t stand up on her own. This saddened me to see, in my hometown, the place where I grew up and have such wonderful memories.

What happens to people that they turn to a life of drugs? I have no idea, but at one point in this woman’s life, she was a child, presumably had some good memories from her childhood, and perhaps she even had a career at one point. I don’t believe that people are born this way – something happens that makes them believe this is the best they can do. I wish I could help them all, but that is just too big of a job for one person.

I hope one day to help in some way to make my downtown a better place to be, to thrive in, and for newcomers to feel welcome and safe. For now, I will keep thinking positive and hope that this does not stay the norm and that it is only a phase our city is going through. My optimism is strong, and one day, it will be the place I remember.

Talking about mental illness

Many images come to mind when you hear the words “mental illness”.  There are people who think that person is weak or it’s just an excuse for the way they act.  It’s not true. Mental illness is a real thing and it can be debilitating to that person and those around them.  It can also lead to destructive behaviour which of course only worsens the illness.

I suffered a nervous breakdown a few years after leaving my husband.  It was due to many things arising out of my life at that time, and I didn’t tell anyone except for my work (because I needed time off) and my therapist.  I had everyone believing that my life was fine and that I was fine and nothing was going on.  At the time, I felt that people would think I was so weak and that I couldn’t function on my own and what happened that caused this?  So many things went on in my head that I believed people would think.  So I said nothing.  I slept all day, was awake all night and it was not a good thing that I didn’t tell anyone.  I went to a really good therapist who helped me work out what was going on, and gave me great suggestions on how to cope with my stress and anxiety.  I am happy to say that everything this man suggested helped me to get to the place I am at now.  A positive strong woman who is a realist.  Not every day is great but I know how to get into my head to deal with whatever starts me to stress out.  Meditation is a big thing.  Listening to music calms me down.  Going for a walk.  And sometimes, just sitting outside in the quiet brings me peace. 

I was lucky.  I know I was.  Not everyone in this world who suffers breakdowns and mental illnesses recover as well as I have.  Again, the stigma is out there.  Let’s not talk about what is happening with me because people will think less of me.  It doesn’t have to be that way anymore and there are ways to help.  And people are talking more about this issue which is fantastic.   

We need to let those around us who suffer from any kind of mental issue, whether it’s depression or anxiety or any of the disorders that they are suffering from, that it is okay to talk about it!  It’s okay to go to a doctor and ask for help.  It’s okay to admit that you have a problem and you need to talk about it.  Don’t shy away from talking about it.  Don’t let anyone tell you that you shouldn’t be talking about it.  IT IS OKAY TO TALK ABOUT IT!

So get out there, seek the help you need, talk to family and friends and know that it’s okay.  People are there to help you and to love you.  You are not alone in this battle. 

List making

Lists. I don’t mean top 10 lists of this or that.  I mean actual lists of things to do, things to pack, grocery lists, those kinds of lists.


I have lists made for everything. What I am bringing with me to South America. What I am leaving behind. What I need to buy. Where I am staying. What I am doing.  It’s become a bit of an obsession over the past couple of days!!


I even have excel spreadsheets set up for my lists.  List making is a serious thing for me!  This is where the addiction of notebooks has come in handy.  Of course, because I have so many notebooks, I also have duplicate lists in different notebooks.  When I can’t find the original list, I just make another one!!


As I am about to leave for South America, I have lists everywhere.  I also have piles of stuff with a note on top of them of what to do with them. This includes clothes and shoes.


Am I going crazy with my list making?  I would like to emphatically say NO but today I realized that I think I am.  I went for lunch, with a notebook in hand (one that already had lists in it!), and as I ate my lunch and updated my list – I thought what the heck am I doing??  I really just need to learn to go with the flow.  I really want to do that while traveling through Chile, but my mind is saying NO YOU NEED TO KNOW EXACTLY WHAT YOU ARE DOING EVERY DAY!  Ugh – my mind makes me crazy some days.


Maybe one day the obsessive list making will stop. In fact, I made myself stop this afternoon so I could blog about list making (hahaha!!).  (I would share pictures of the list making, but I am slightly embarrassed at the amount of them I have…)


Books Books Books!!

I believe that everyone has some sort of addiction. Maybe its a caffeine addiction. Maybe a sugar addiction, or even something stronger. My addiction is books ~ specifically notebooks.

China has very cheap office supplies!  And it is all good quality. My problem is the notebook.  All sizes.  But they have to be lined paper. My addiction is very specific.

You may be wondering ~ what is she doing with all these books?? I am glad you asked!!

Since I am a teacher, at least four of the notebooks are for lesson planning, with each grade having its own book.  There is one that is for my journaling. One is for my scribblings of the book I am trying to write about my travels.

That leaves about 10 to 12.  Each one has something in it. Lists. Names of students. Addresses. Random things I write.  I know one or two have different ideas for blogs. One also has information about places I want to travel to. There is no specific purpose for any of the others, other than to satisfy my addiction. 

So why am I blogging about such a random topic?  To show that teaching and traveling the world is sometimes boring but in a good way. There are lazy days. Days I want to be introspective. Those are very good days to journal!

Living in foreign countries can sound glamorous but, in reality, it is not always that way. It is a way of life, a routine. I just happen to be living and working in China. And so with a routine comes mundane and boring days. And that’s why I have books. To fill them with my words. My visions. My nonsensical lists. And yes there are many nonsensical lists! Haha

It’s okay to have boring days. Creativeness can come from those days. New travel plans can be decided on. A whole world can open up to you, if you give boredom a chance.  

So give it a try ~ plan a day of nothing, with just a notebook and a pen to keep you busy. You might be surprised at how fun a boring day can be!