How does one write about life changing moments? About those moments that bless you and scare the heck out of you at the very same time? This past weekend I ended 16 days of conference going. It had started at the Canadian Personal Finance Conference just over two weeks ago, and included Social Media Week Toronto and TedX Toronto, and ended at Blissdom Canada. It was 16 days of learning, growing, networking and being challenged..
Then it came down to 2 moments at Blissdom Canada that probably will change the way I do everything for what I hope is forever. I had the opportunity to sit and speak with Glenn Canning, for those who don’t know who he is, he is Rehtaeh’s dad. If you do not know who she is, she was a young woman who was gang raped, and then to make matters even worse photos were taken and distributed online. Glenn and I got to have a private conversation parent to parent about “that” school, “that” neighbourhood, which happens to be where my family lived for awhile. We also talked about the mentality of school officials in Nova Scotia, the health care system and so much more during our conversation on the sofa. You see I could relate to some of what Glenn is going through as I started talking about bullying, school inaction and the lack of mental health care for kids in Canada 5 years ago.
If you have not followed my blogs for all my years I have an older blog where I wrote about Rachel. You can find my first post on the topic here on Simply Hollie, an older blog of mine. This post about schools in Nova Scotia was written in 2009. At 10, my daughter told me she would rather die then go to school because of what she was going on there on a daily basis. By the end of the grade 6 year, after Rachel went through a school transfer and even more bullying, I decided it was time to come home to Toronto.
When I got here it became increasingly difficult to access helps here in Toronto, in the TDSB, and even here it seemed the school board and the medical system, with its wait times which I first wrote about here were letting my pretty amazing kid languish. I made hard choices, even created an infographic. Yelled, and even fought to finally get her a hospital bed and as for therapy, I had to go private as the wait time to see a doctor would still have my teen waiting. 18 months ago Rachel spent time in the hospital for mental health issues many which to this day I believe were escalated by the bullying she endured..but in the 18 months since that hospitalization, my teen has had therapy, has been on meds that help her, and well she is thriving. For my teen there is more then just hope at the end of the tunnel. She is a happy well teen..one who is teaching the TDSB who had written her off, how wrong they were, one who has volunteered to help where she can. Really I am a proud mom. But lately I haven’t written much about those dark days, I wanted to sweep them behind us. I was fearful they would rear there ugly head, and hold us back from our goals, would hold me back from finding that right job. But I was wrong, every day there are teens here in Canada going unserviced, uncared for, they are hurting and those of us who have felt the pain need to take a stand. There is a need to continue the conversation so we can have real change for the future kids who will need services. Glenn reminded me that I need to be one taking a consistent stand for our kids. It is a must if we want change.
Another life changing moment came just about an hour later during the Social Media Etiquette hour when my friend Neil was pulling a prank on the audience, well actually he was teaching a lesson with an actress named Susan. As Susan once tweeted something mean towards a celebrity and thought nothing of it, he was then setting up the stage as if she would have to explain her actions to either the celebrity or her own daughter who had been fighting being bullied. Well I took a deep breath and had to think about everything I have written over my last 15 years online, what would I change? When I posted mean how was I impacting others, even my teen. How would I explain myself to my teen specially when I have been battling against bullying for the last 5 years..was I a hypocrite? I thought long and hard about when I complain online, how I treat others, and had to give myself a gut check. Most of the time I do pretty ok, but there have been times when I have not been perfect. I must try better, I must do better. I say I am for diversity and kindness. Now I have to really show it.
For me these were my milestone moments of Blissdom Canada. For me, it was a fabulous conference that got me thinking once again about the things that really matter to me, and that is good right.
I enjoyed the speakers, the power hour, and even having a stranger (new friend) for a roommate. The Bliss Chicks who put together the conference did an awesome job. If you were there what were your take aways.