Monday Is For Music – The Beautiful People

It’s Monday again, so you all know what that means!

Today I decided to go with one of my favourite songs, and chose the song “The Beautiful People” by Marilyn Manson. This song was released in 1996 as part of Manson’s “Antichrist Superstar” album. According to the website, Song Facts, “The beautiful People” only reached #18 on the UK music charts.

Marilyn Manson is one of those misunderstood artists. He’s created a lot of controversy with his music because several groups think he’s to blame for the problems teens are facing. In fact, he was forced to cancel his Rock Is Dead tour after the April 1999 Columbine High School massacre. Here are some interesting facts about the real Marilyn Manson. His real name is Brian Warner. His mom still calls him Brian, but his father refers to him as Manson. He calls himself a “Mama’s Boy”. At the age of 5, he was sent to a Christian school to learn about religion and the proper music to listen to, but he fell in love with the “forbidden”. Manson was a music journalist until 1989 when he formed the band Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids. All of the band members get their first names from famous people and then their last’s from notorious serial killers. Manson is highly educated and writes music that will speak to his fans and create discussion.

There are a couple meanings people have come up for the lyrics of “The Beautiful People”. Some think Manson was writing about his struggle with transforming from a “middle-class loser” to a “famous superstar”. Others believe he’s writing about how the media makes people feel as though they must conform to this idealistic image and that if you can’t reach this unattainable beauty then you’re considered ugly and unworthy. But, most people think the song was written about the hypocritical nature of Christianity. I think this point is most valid when you hear this portion of the lyrics:

“The Beautiful People, The Beautiful People,
It’s all relative to the size of your steeple;
You can’t see the forest for the trees,
And you can’t smell your own shit on your knees.”

Click here to see the music video.

I think this song Fits well with today’s society and the issues we’re dealing with. Whether you think Manson was writing about the media’s portrayal of beauty or Christianity, it’s all there in the news.

Just recently, we had former roman catholic Bishop, Raymond Lahey
plead guilty to child porn charges.

Child Abuse Tests How The Church Relates To The Secular World, is a great article which looks at the long-held belief that priests are separate and different from the general public.

I’m not against religion or trying to judge others for their beliefs, but isn’t it a little hypocritical to be telling others they’re living their lives sinfully, when you’ve got sexually explicit pictures of children in your carry-on? or when you’re choosing to ignore reports of wrong-doing and just sweep it all under the rug?

Then there’s People Magazine’s 2011 Most Beautiful People.

Do these people really look this way in the morning when they first get out of bed?

Will the average “Joe” or “Jane” ever live up to these images of beauty?

Music can really be such a great starting point for discussion.

Monday Is For Music – Everybody Hurts

It’s Monday again, which means we’ve got another music post!

Seeing as there have been a lot of natural disasters happening around the world lately, I thought I’d choose the song “Everybody Hurts” by R.e.M. I also chose this song because last night while trying to fall asleep, my mind wandered back to my first grade six dance and this song was the first song I’d ever danced to with a guy.

Click here to see the music video.

The song “Everybody Hurts” was released in 1992 as part of the “Automatic For The People” album. It sadly didn’t do overly great in the charts, reaching just twenty-nine in the United States, but doing a bit better with a number seven showing in the UK. According to the website Song Facts, most of the song was written by R.E.M.’s drummer, Bill Berry, who left the band in 1997 to become a farmer. After the release of their album “UP”, R.E.M. considered disbanding, but decided to continue as a trio. Some fans thought the song “Everybody Hurts” was written in memory of child actor, River Phoenix, who died at the age of 23 from “acute multiple drug ingestion”. In reality, the song was written to give teenagers the message “you’re not alone” in your daily struggles.

I’m sure everyone is aware of some of the natural disasters which have been happening around the world, but here are just a few of the recent ones.

Tornado Devastates Joplin, Missouri

Iceland’s Grimsvot Volcano erupts

Slave Lake, Alberta Wild Fires

Now to tell everyone about my first dance.

I was about 11 or 12 and my parents let me go to a local club for teens to socialize. It was called “The Hot Spot” and was run by a woman and her husband every Friday night at the community centre. I think it was just after Christmas and I remember being so excited to attend because I got to wear my new black denim jeans, Chicago Bulls jacket and matching baseball cap. I’m sure you all know where this is leading…

The song came on and a guy named AJ asked me to dance, I was giddy with excitement. No one had ever asked me to dance and he was pretty cute as well – I had full sight at this point in my life. If anyone knows the song, it’s pretty long, so it was breathtaking to be so close to a guy who wasn’t a relative or family friend. He had one hand on my butt and the other around my shoulders and we swayed back and forth. When the song was over, he said thank you and asked if I might wanna dance a little later – I almost fainted with excitement, I couldn’t wait to tell my mom what had happened. Well, the final song of the night came on and AJ asked me to dance again. We were doing the usual teenager sway back and forth, when a girl came over and laughingly asked “so who’s the girl here?” and took both our caps off. AJ was also wearing denim jeans, a Los Angeles Lakers jacket and matching baseball cap. We stopped dancing at this point and went our separate ways. I was so embarrassed and knew I’d never see him again.

Whenever I hear “Everybody Hurts”, I think of AJ and wonder what was going through his mind the first time he had asked me to dance. I also can’t help wondering what he was thinking after that embarrassing last moment with me in his arms.

The teenage years can be a tough time for us all…

Monday Is For Music – Crazy

Last week I started a blog theme by assigning Mondays as the day I’ll discuss a song and relate it to what’s happening in the world or in my life as it fits.

Today’s song is “Crazy” by Simple Plan. This song is the fourth and final single from the 2004 album “Still Not Getting Any”. True to their focus in other songs, “Crazy” discusses today’s society and the problems and issues we’re facing. This particular single did not reach the U.s. Billboard Hot 100, but the video received acclaim on MTV and climbed to number four in Canada (Wikipedia, 2011).

Click here for the music video.

This article, does an awesome job at pointing out the issues surrounding the ways media portrays women and beauty. The author also discusses the fact that it’s impossible for women to look like Barbie because our backs cannot support such a structure and our organs wouldn’t even fit properly into her body. I don’t really need to expand on why I chose this article for “Crazy” but the song itself starts out with a description of how terrible it is to have women and girls feeling as though they must meet this ideal body image.

Ever since a young age, I’ve always seen myself as unattractive. I wanted to look like other girls in my classes, so that maybe the boys would forget that I had no hair and pay attention to me. I never really had celebrity idols, but thought that in order to be liked and desirable, I had to be thin and wear the “right” clothes. I was always pretty slim as a kid, but around the age of seventeen I began to develop and therefore lose my stream-lined shape. I always hated my chest and hips.

These aren’t uncommon feelings for young women. Where it becomes worrisome though, these feelings of “not belonging” can sometimes lead to unhealthy dieting and in cases, attempts on ending it all. This link, will take you to a fact sheet on suicide in Canada and around the world, pointing out specific statistics on eating disorders, gender differences, and mental health concerns.

This article, discusses the promises which had Canadians elect Prime Minister harper after thirteen years of a Liberal Government. The author describes how each promise has been broken and how the Conservatives are no better than the rest. I chose this article for this particular discussion because the chorus seems to mirror the words that were running through my mine as the election results started pouring in. I also find the article fitting because the song also talks about how kids are starving in the streets while rich men drive by in their expensive cars, something which is happening in Canada because the Conservatives continue to give corporations big tax breaks, while families struggle to survive.

It’s really interesting to see how music can be used to discuss many of the problems society’s facing. Please join us again next week when I’ll pick another song and relate it to things happening today.

Monday Is for Music – Manic Monday

Everyone seems to be giving various days of the week themes, so I thought I’d do a music one for Mondays. And, what better song to kick us off, than “Manic Monday” by the Bangles.

I’ll first do a little description surrounding the background of the song and then give readers a link to the lyrics, before moving on to relating it to what’s going on around the world or in my life – where applicable.

“Manic Monday” was written by Prince under the alias Christopher, from a character he played in the movie “Under The Cherry Moon”. He had originally written it in 1984 for the band apollonia 6, but in 1986 offered it to The Bangles. The song describes a woman who has woken up on Monday, wishing it were still Sunday which she calls her “I-don’t-have-to-run-day” (Wikipedia, 2011).

Click here for the music video.

This link, will take you to a blog where cell phones are discussed. Over the past decade, cell phones have become even more important to our survival. We keep in touch with family and friends via text messages. We check our e-mail almost obsessively. We receive alerts when something important or tragic has occurred somewhere in the world. Rarely do we ever leave home without it.

Gone are the days when people knew how to have a true conversation. Or the mornings when we could listen to the birds chirp while we drank our coffee and read the paper.

Nowadays, we’re just too busy.

This link, Looks at the other side of the social media argument. The author looks at how things such as the internet and cell phones have not limited the way we interact with others, but rather created new avenues to do so. He believes that similar to how people first looked at the television and telephone as intrusions and later as just part of our everyday lives, Twitter, Facebook and cell phones will also be viewed the same way.

I agree with his views, but am not so sure people will be as able to follow his advice. In this new age of fast paced society, I’m not sure it’s as easy to just hit the off button and shut yourself off from the world. There’s always going to be something pulling you back, whether it be family concerns, work obligations or just the desire to know what’s happening.

Even though “Manic Monday” was written over twenty-five years ago, it seems to reflect the thoughts of people today. With the constant evolution of technology and ways of interacting, it seems those days of I-don’t-have-to-run-day” are gone forever.

Everyone’s got An Opinion

“Everyone seems to have a clear idea of how other people should lead their lives, but none about his or her own.”

The above quote, was taken from a Twitter feed I follow, that sends out random quotes about life. I know I’ve been blogging a lot about things I’ve read, that were inspiring, but I’m hoping everyone enjoys the break from hearing solely about the fur babies.

When I read the above quote a few days ago, I began thinking about my aunts and how they seem to find it necessary to criticize other family member’s life choices, but seem to overlook the fact that their decisions haven’t been much better.

I know constantly being told what to do or what you’re doing wrong, is just part of being the “younger” generation of a family, but my sister and I seem to be even more of a target now that we’re older and Mom’s not around to defend us. I try and keep my distance. Try not to have to be in a situation where I’ll be alone with an “interrogator”, but sometimes it’s just not possible. Maybe it’s partly because I can’t see well enough to know when others are leaving the room. Or maybe it’s because I’m just too nice, but it always seems to happen at a family gathering and it’s gotten to the point where I dread having to attend.

My family thinks Huib is the greatest guy ever. They have no complaints when it comes to him and my decision to get married, but they still find ways of sticking their two cents into our relationship. They find it necessary to give me advice on having a successful marriage – which they haven’t succeeded in doing themselves, so I’m not sure how their advice is going to help me. They like criticizing the way I interact with Huib and ask why he doesn’t want to go outside with the “boys” rather than just sitting with me – because that’s what all guys do right? And then when I’m thoroughly annoyed, one of the aunts begin asking if we want kids and when I explain that things just haven’t worked out the way we’d like, they proceed to ask if we’ve actually been trying….well, isn’t that self-explanatory? AND is it really your business? I guess it just seems strange to them that their own children could be popping out babies without any real effort, but Huib and I are having trouble.

Then, after all that is over, we come to the weight questions… So you’ve gained some weight since the last time I saw you… – you don’t think I’ve noticed? Have you looked at your own belt size? Oh, the things I would love to say if I weren’t a caring and patient person lol! When I just sit there with a look of shock on my face, someone will proceed to begin advising me on how to lose the extra weight, which would be fine if they, themselves weren’t also fighting a weight issue. It seems as though our family’s genes just aren’t conducive to being thin.

It’s funny to observe them though when the tables have turned. When people begin criticizing them or asking them questions and giving “advice”. They just sit there and go red, not out of embarrassment, but anger because they see the questions as a personal attack. This is when one usually ends up crying or leaving because someone hurt their feelings or offended them.

Do you have any people in your life that you wish could take a moment, and just look in the mirror?

True Equality

“Until the disabled community gets behind the concept of access for all we will never have true equality. Access for most doesn’t count.”

The above statement, was written by our friends over at The Dog House about a week ago – hope she doesn’t mind me posting it here.

Over the years, disability advocates have fought to have the rights of “their” group recognized. Their members bring forth inequalities and the “leaders” begin lobbying the various levels of government for change. Small changes happen each year because of their efforts, but it always seems to be one group working to change policies and practices for their specific “issue” rather than trying to lobby for shifts in policies and practices which will benefit all disabled Canadians. It seems as though the various disability groups are afraid that if they were to ask for changes that will help everyone, then maybe “their” particular fight wouldn’t seem as important.

I did a quick Google search and found these two references that sort of illustrate my above thoughts.

This link, will take you to the Canadian Human rights Commission, where there is a publication that describes different changes that have occurred in the areas of ATM accessibility, equal rights in the tax courts and accommodations for disabled government workers. With further digging, I learned that that in all cases, the changes were brought about because one disability group complained about an inadequacy and not because the “disability community” as a whole saw it as a problem.

This link, will take you to a blog (I think) where the writer discusses changes that have come about over the past 50 years and shows how disability groups campaign against one another in an effort to bring forth “their” plights as being more important and often refuse to celebrate the successes of others.

I’m not sure if you’ll see these links as true illustrations of what I am describing, but they will at least give you a glimpse in the right direction.

Canadians with disabilities are far better off now than they were even thirty years ago, but I think we could have come much further if it were not for the ongoing attempts to outshine one another. In my opinion, no disability group is better or worse off than the other. We all face barriers in our everyday lives, so maybe instead of trying to work against one another, we should try and work together because until then I don’t see there ever being “true equality.”

Advice For Life

This morning, I was reading through blogs I follow, trying to find some inspiration for a post and found it on Rolling Around In My Head. Mr. Hingsburger was writing about a particular book he enjoys writing notes in for presentations or blog entries and how he had come across an old entry from back when he had first learned of his disability. He writes about some of the feelings he had and then ends the post with these three words “live what’s given.”

Tough to do sometimes…

When we’re children, we dream of the amazing life we’ll have as adults. We think about the high paying job. About the big house, expensive car and fancy neighbourhood. We fantasize about the special person we’ll share our fairytale life with an some, will dream of the children they will have.

But…then…we grow up…

We become adults. We quickly realize that achieving that fairytale is impossible. We learn that we were naive to think that if we just followed the rules, our dreams would come true.

Our dreams never included, the road blocks, detours or crashes, that make up real life.

In my fairytale life, I was a successful veterinarian. Living in a large house. With a fancy car and all the possessions I could dream of. I never wanted to have my own children, but thought I would adopt and have a husband willing to be the “stay at home” Dad.

Well at the age of 13, I got my first real life check. I lost most of my vision and could no longer be the veterinarian in my dreams. But, I didn’t want to let this damper my fairytale, so decided on being a lawyer and worked hard in school. I met the man of my dreams while working on my first university degree and thought life was now beginning to work out the way I had dreamed – just a little glitch right? Well, I finished my first degree and after completing the LSAT, decided law school wasn’t really for me, so began applying to various schools for social work. I got into my first choice, McMaster University, and got my next reality check during the search for a field placement. I hadn’t really tried to find work before attending Mac so did not believe friends when they told me it was extremely difficult to find work with a disability. I guess I didn’t want to believe that society could still be discriminatory against people in this day and age. I wanted to believe that having two university degrees would shelter me from this horrible truth and that I would be one of the few who had defied the odds. Well, I was sadly mistaken; I’m still not working after graduating in June of 2007.

When I read Mr. Hingsburger’s post and saw “live what’s given,” I began to think about all the good things in my life that would never have happened if my shunt had not blocked and caused me to lose most of my vision.

I think the first thing I will thank my vision loss for, is Huib. You’re probably wondering why I would give my vision loss the credit for bringing Huib into my life, but if it weren’t for being visually impaired, I’m not sure we would have had the opportunity to meet or become so close. We still would have been at the University of Guelph together, but because of my vision loss I met a lot of different people and learned about many volunteer opportunities via peer helpers who were assigned to help Phoenix and I become accustomed to the campus. It was through these interactions that I found out about the University’s Safe Walk program and later met Huib.

Second, I’d like to thank my vision loss for Gryphon. You’re probably wondering why I’m not giving thanks for Phoenix and the others, but Gryphon was my first dog guide. And, even though him and I did not work for long, he still left an impression on me, that would lead to me never returning to the white cane. In addition to this, Gryphon re-ignited my desire to work with animals. Even though I can no longer be a veterinarian, I have directed my efforts towards learning all I can about training and caring for dogs so that maybe in the future I can begin a breeding program and/or a rescue group.

Finally, I’d like to thank my vision loss for showing me “the humour in life.” Because, without the ability to look back on experiences and smile, I don’t believe I could have become the woman I am today.

I think it’s important to learn how to “live what’s given” because if we spend our whole life thinking about how it could have been, we’ll miss the good things that would not have happened if our childhood fairytales had come true.

Theme Songs

While on Twitter yesterday I saw this question, “What would your dog’s theme song be?”, and it got me thinking. I’ve never really thought about what songs would suit the personality and/or character of each of my dogs, so I thought it would be a pretty cool task to undertake.

After a few hours of filtering through the various songs on my computer and discussing each choice with Huib, we came up with the following:

Cessna ~ The Hamsterdance Song by Hampton The Hamster
Canyon ~ Can I Go Nowhere with You by Joel Plaskett
Phoenix ~ What the Hell by Avril Levigne and
Aspen ~ Girls Just Wanna Have fun by Cindy Lauper

If you know anything about our dogs, I’m sure you’ll agree that each of the above songs really fits. But, for those who have not had the pleasure of meeting our wonderful canines, I’ll take a moment to explain why we’ve chosen each song.

Cessna is a very happy, go lucky girl. She is always ready for anything and if she even thinks you’re considering a trip outside, she’s up and ready to go. She loves to swim. She loves to play. And most of all she loves to experience fun and exciting things – for example, our trip to Marineland. As I’ve mentioned in previous posts, Cessna has forced us to learn new things in order to always remain one step ahead and has challenged every expectation of “what a service dog should be”. I think Hampton the Hamster’s song truly illustrates her lust for life and constant desire to just let it all loose and party!

We chose Joel Plaskett’s song “Can I Go Nowhere With You” for Canyon because it doesn’t matter what he’s doing or whether you’ve been moving throughout the house all day without any real goal, he’ll stop and happily follow along. Canyon is a truly loyal companion and this song demonstrates his love of just being with his family, no matter what’s happening around him.

Phoenix has always been an Avril Levigne fan, when a song of hers would come on the radio you’d see his tail wagging along, so it’s quite funny that her newest song just happens to be a suiting theme for Phoenix. As I’ve said many times before, Phoenix was a wonderful guide and companion throughout my final year of high school and then during my years at the University of Guelph. He was good in classes, never got distracted easily, and for the most part, listened to everything I asked. When he began getting close to retirement I noticed he no longer wanted to do a lot of these things and would test me on even the simplest of tasks. Since his retirement, almost six years ago, he has continued to live his life on his own terms and if we don’t like it he doesn’t seem phased. He’ll just wag his tail and walk on by. It’s as though he’s saying “I was good for a very long time, so it’s time to just let my hair down and enjoy life”. Well, I think I agree with him, he did work hard and definitely deserves to say “what the hell” and enjoy his final years without worry.

Finally, we chose Cindy Lauper’s “Girls Just Wanna Have Fun” as Aspen’s theme song because that’s pretty much how it is. Aspen was our first pet dog and has really never had a true job to do, except for keep Phoenix company and help out with the puppies when we have one. She knows only her basic commands of: sit, down, come, stay, leave it and heel. She’s shown absolutely no desire to learn anything further than to give five and we’re okay with that. Aspen always has a smile on her face and thinks everyone should love her.

So, there you have it, each of the ruled by paws gang, now has a theme song.

Do your fur babies have one?

Circling Thoughts

So it’s not even noon here and already I want to turn off the computer and crawl back into bed. I’m not sure why, but for the past week I haven’t been able to return to bed after Huib leaves for work. I guess it’s a good habit to get into, waking up early enough to be awake more of the day than sleeping, but it’s hard when you don’t have anything to look forward to – don’t work and live in the middle of nowhere. I think Cessna is really confused by my new routine, so instead of going back to bed herself, she’s started to join me on the couch. It’s nice to have this one-on-one time with her, but I’m sure she’d much rather have some one-on-one time with the bed instead lol!

Now, to what inspired this entry.

A friend messaged me via Facebook to ask how his friend should go about reporting a service dog handler she has witnessed numerous times mistreating their dog. After writing back to explain that she would first need to figure out where the dog is from and then contact the organization with her concerns, I hit send, but couldn’t stop thinking about the situation.

As I sit here on the couch, with Cessna on my legs and Canyon by my side happily squeaking his new ball, I try to figure out how someone could possibly think it’s okay to treat their dog like they have no feelings or emotions at all. It’s never acceptable, but to do this to an animal who has been trained to help, been taught to trust, to believe that this human being will love and care for them, an animal who does not understand the meaning of hatred, but who will love unconditionally to a fault, is just beyond my ability to wrap my head around. I will admit that I once thought it was okay to use overly harsh chain collar corrections and didn’t understand why my sister or friends would cringe in horror – it was what I had been taught . Cessna changed my perceptions forever though when she showed me the emotional scars which could be left behind. Looking back on the early days of our partnership, the days when she would tense up and shake after a correction or sink to the ground in the hopes of not being noticed when anyone raised their voice, I can’t help but get a little teary. Cessna did nothing to deserve these experiences, but was subjected to things I can only imagine terrified her, in an effort to “make” her “conform” to the expectations of what a dog guide should resemble. I remember calling friends to ask for help and some nights even crying on Huib’s shoulder because I didn’t understand what I was doing wrong or what had happened to make Cessna so afraid of me. I had never raised a hand to her, but if I reached over to pet her head too quickly she’d duck and back off. I never corrected her harder than I was taught, but she’d tense up and shake, while looking at me with fear in her eyes. After finally realizing that it wasn’t me who had caused this reaction,I understood that it was still my responsibility to help her move beyond the horrible memories which followed her. These images of my once fearful little girl circle my mind whenever I think about the service dog who’s being mistreated.

Having a service dog is not a right, but a privilege. These amazing canines will walk through hot lava to get to us if we need them, so please treat them with the same respect and dignity you’d give a friend or family member.

Thank you for listening. Think I’ll go grab a fresh Tigger mug full of hazelnut coffee and climb back under the covers on the couch with my old boy. I guess Cessna has Been called back to the bedroom for a nap by the bed lol!

Here are a couple pictures of my sleeping beauty for your enjoyment.

The Timelessness Of Music

Just a quick note before I begin writing. Yesterday I decided to combine “Life and Its Challenges” with “Ruled By Paws” so you will notice some new, but old entries have appeared. When I started “Life And Its challenges” I thought it would be nice to just have a blog dedicated to my personal life and thoughts so they wouldn’t seem strange amongst all of my dog entries, but I just found it hard to keep the dogs separate at times and also didn’t find I had as much to say on a personal level. So, now you will get more of a glimpse into the lives of Huib and myself, instead of just the parts which pertain to our fur babies, as some like to call them.

This morning I’ve been listening to the Lithium channel on Serious radio and the song “What Its Like” by Everlast got me thinking about how some songs just never lose their effectiveness.

From Googling the song I learned it was the first song Everlast did when he left House of Pain. I don’t know his previous band, but I sure do like his first solo. According to Song Facts,
“What It’s Like” is about how society is too quick to judge people. It looks at the lives of three different people and the chorus continually reminds the listener that if they knew what it was truly like then they wouldn’t be so fast to label. Even though this song was written back in 1999, the meaning behind the words still causes listeners to pause and reflect about a social issue which remains unchanged.

There are other songs which come up on the radio from time to time that get me thinking about their meanings and how even with time the message rings true.

Are there any songs out there which make you stop and think?