MICHELLE GREYSEN - BLOG
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  • OH dear, CANADA!

    OH dear, Canada! by Michelle Greysen 

    There is no consumer version playbook for a pandemic. There is no right or wrong, fact or fiction, truth or a lie or some half-truth in between. There is mostly no black and white in the past two years. Regardless of which side of any debate one ends up on there are no winners and no losers. There are, at least in our country, civilized human rights and a legislated respect for personal opinion. I am proud of my country and enjoy my freedoms without even thinking about it. That is until now.

    It is no longer about pandemic measures any more than it is about conspiracy theories, media blind spots, covid burnout, anti vax messages, politicizing covid 19, or a post pandemic future. It is not about a fear of covid or a fear of change, it is now way beyond a pandemic mismanaged. It is now about our country. Canada. Freedom.

    It is also gone beyond being about the Freedom Convey and whatever side of the fence or middle ground your personal support or lack of support lie. No matter what the cause, what the fight, what the protest, we as Canadians live in a country that has protection for all and a freedom and a right for peaceful protest.

    Did the truck border and Ottawa protests cross that line? That question does not even matter anymore. Unless you were there and saw first-hand, you cannot rely on open and honest reporting on any front, be that traditional news media or social media. We live in a world of instant access and street side live journalism. It may or may not be the entire story, whether that is professional or amateur reporting. That is not my point in this narrative.

    I am speaking out not on one side or another of this politicized pandemic. I want people to stop for one second and not take a side, but instead look at what is happening to our Canada. The battle some are in is only for the truth. It should not be a battle against each other. 

    Silent majority or vocal minority. No one wins if our country becomes a battle ground of authoritarianism against the masses. It is happening.

    I am distressed at the actions of government and law enforcement on our people. On Canadian people with rights. Equal rights. Not just rights for those who agree with the flavour of the day but rights for all to be protected under. Human rights no matter what side of any conflict. We all owe it to each other to stand together for our country and our freedoms. Forget about pandemics, and conspiracies and sides of the endless debate and just be people. Respectful fellow citizens. Honour the right to peaceful protest alongside the right to peaceful existence, without infringing on each other.

    Watching some of the horrific live videos shared on both mainstream reporting and social media, I honestly am ashamed for the authorities in this country that think as fellow human beings, sworn to protect, they have a right to club and beat and rubber bullet and horse-bully and more, their fellow Canadians. The government, policing, abusing their powers. This is a peaceful country with many privileges that are envied around the globe. Where in the violence is the right or wrong? No one is winning here.

    What is happening to us as Canadians? It is no longer about standing on one side or the other of issues. It is now about standing together as a people under our Canadian rights, and not about the abuse of those rights by some authorities at the expense of our nation. 

    THIS IS NOT OUR CANADA. 

    Stay humble and kind,

    Michelle
     

    FYI:

    https://laws-lois.justice.gc.ca/eng/const/page-12.html

    Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms

    Fundamental freedoms

    2 Everyone has the following fundamental freedoms:

    ·       (a) freedom of conscience and religion;

    ·       (b) freedom of thought, belief, opinion and expression, including freedom of the press and other media of communication;

    ·       (c) freedom of peaceful assembly; and

    ·       (d) freedom of association.

    Mobility of citizens

    ·       6 (1) Every citizen of Canada has the right to enter, remain in and leave Canada.


  • The Future of Storytelling …

    “Are there still more stories to tell?” 
    The age-old question offers the possibility of a hot debate, along with the new age question - 
    "Has the internet shortened all our attention spans?”

    For me, someone who tends to write long and paint a broad narrative picture, I have often felt threatened by the pending doom of the instant information age. Perhaps the new reader truly is conditioned to shorter smaller chunks of information.  The basic beginning, middle, end; the meet, lose, get, methodology sits intact but does the shorter attention span disrupt the narrative? Are today’s readers craving a faster hook and hold? Will a story have to be more of everything to be a success? More emotions, more absurd, a more over the top grab with a greater reward to the reader? In this era of gratification from technology overload, of cat videos and skateboarding crashes, it is apparent that the story in its purest form now must present to a new readership. Is faster and shorter becoming the new norm? As writers we all know that stories recreate reality and mimic life. Are even the classics of the past read differently by today’s audience? 

    There are many new storytelling methods challenging the old norms. The last question to ponder is that of “What is a story?” A series of events, the plot, and the order in which writers present are the beats, scenes, sequences and acts of our greater tale. The Story. The truth below the plot remains in the writers’ hands, but the telling of it to a new reader may take some shifting to sustain the readership future.

    Storytelling is truly a basic form of human expressions shared across all cultures. Story is not just words or language. In today’s mass media world story is also told through dance, music, art, videos, and more; all holding valuable plots with a connection from a storyteller to an audience. Stories will thrive for as long as writers engage in the art form of the written word. Traditional books remain as just one of the many open channels to reach a readership and to send story, word-art on a global journey.

    Are you a writer? I welcome any discussion on if you feel there are any original stories left to tell? Do you find it a challenge to write to readers bombarded with all the distractions in today’s world?

    Are you a reader? Do you still enjoy a good read? Are you easily distracted by social media and getting your stories in short bursts off the web?

    And for everyone … any preference for a hard copy book, or an e-book? And why?


  • What I did on my summer holidays … heat waves, drought, smoke, fires, covid and more

    OR
    Things you don’t want to hear from the next pillow first thing in the morning while your eyes are still closed …
    “my covid text says I tested positive”

    We all fondly, or not, recall those back to school first essays on our summer vacations. This year those writings might prove to be a lesson in fragility and strength. A summer of yin and yang. As if pandemic times were not enough the summer of 2021 has proven to be a challenge beyond the norm.

    In western Canada we faced record breaking heat for weeks on end bringing drought and dreaded locusts (grasshoppers for those on the urban southern prairie). Raging fires surround the globe and with it the smoke and air quality warnings are nothing compared to the devastation and loss to those evacuated or spending their summer go bags packed and on constant alert. Entire towns wiped out and forests lost along with precious wildlife.

    So much doom surrounding our daily lives and just this past week now worldly earthquakes, hurricanes and Taliban take overs. For many it is hard to stay positive in this intense summer.

    It is almost enough to make us forget we are still in a world-wide pandemic. 

    That news story, fake news as many scoff, seems to be fading as double vaccinations are becoming the norm. Many people are boldly stepping back into daily life paying no attention to covid as they go about their day to day.

    I, we, my household of 2, are not those people. We still mask, hand sanitize and pretty much stay home. We do not go anywhere we don’t need to. Minimal work not often face to face, outings only for necessities. We are not restaurant comfortable yet, nor have we ever had taken out or meals dashed to our front door. Our house has been void of any social and longs for a noisy chaotic big family gathering. We have had some extended family necessity rare back and forth as we navigate all the estate to-dos with the loss of my mother this past year and the quick onset of my father-in-law’s dementia, all a province away.

    We go about life cautious and quietly staving off covid daily while trying to step through to some new normal. The past few weeks I have felt some personal pressure as my social media is full of people out there enjoying full on freedoms. Travel, restaurants, back yard barbeques, patio parties, pub crawls, concerts, and so much more. I am envious of the poster’s ability to throw caution to the wind and get on with life. Although double vaccinated in our household I am not that keen to jump back to full on fun. My husband is a little less leery as he has had to travel a province a way to help family many times this past year. I have not. 

    My fears came to fruition this past week as he tested positive and Covid has now entered our home. This morning as it is finally lightly drizzling outside, he is still asleep on day 7 of fighting the virus. A healthy strong man, double vaccinated, and blown over by this virus. Around the clock sleeping, barely eating, chills, fevers, aches, cough and more and a week in. Our home in full on double isolation mode he is fighting it alone in his part of the house and me in mine desperately trying to work and not to be exposed.  
     Covid is real. As real as the fires, the smoke, the heat, the drought, and more. The difference is we can lessen the impact by being responsible fellow earth dwellers. Kindness and caring goes a long way. If it helps someone to not catch a virus, understand you might be unknowingly spreading it and consider staying home if you have symptoms and think about wearing a mask. If it helps the communities and firefighters desperately trying to save their homes then don’t go holiday amidst the desperate turmoil, don’t throw a burning cigarette out the car window, don’t light a campfire. Be kind to those working daily in the public and not knowing if they are exposed or not. These seem like natural human-kind things to participate in for the great of all, yet many do not see it that way.

    Covid now in our home is firsthand proof that double jabs may not make you bullet proof. 

    I truly understand how worn down many feel and are just wanting their social life back but when a healthy dual dose vaccinated covid-cautious man is now fighting the virus perhaps it is not quite yet the time for book club and movie nights. 

    Say what you want, believe what you want, but be respectful that your rights are as equal as the next persons’. Choose kindness and caring. Choose respect. Stay socially diligent and try not spread a virus or a forest fire, or entitlement.


  • The myth of writing for a living …

    (Or … when good Canadian writers must also sell real estate, and other sad tales of the state of the arts in our country)

    As both an accomplished professional writer, a past successful corporate businesswoman in a few career ladders and now an equally accomplished Realtor, I feel I can speak fairly to the sad state of funding and support for the struggling arts/writing communities in our country.

    What appears to have gone financially wrong for the arts in our Canadian culture is that we value and happily pay for and reward most industries except creatives. Yes, there are financially successful Canadian artists and writers, but the numbers are staggeringly few and the average annual earnings equally minimal. Sadly writers, all creatives in the arts community, are not valued in the social-norm definition of a job or a career choice of respect. Often a fine arts degree, BFA, jokingly referred to as a bachelor of F*ck-All.

    In a past survey posted, The Writers’ Union of Canada (TWUC), is calling it a cultural emergency for Canada, noting writers are working harder while earning less. Their publication, Devaluing Creators, Endangering Creativityalso shows an embarrassing gender gap in writers’ incomes in Canada, with women writers earning just 55% of the income earned by their male counterparts. The report shows a median net income from writing was less than $5,000, while the average income from writing was $12,879. Falling significantly below the average Canadian income of $49,000. at the time of the report.

    TWUC predicts that “If writers continue to be compensated for their work at these low rates it will inevitably become impossible for professionals in the field to earn a living. With revenues from writing that fall below the poverty line, writers will increasingly abandon the sector for other employment … A decline in the number of writers will affect the quality and depth of materials available to Canadians as well as to the $1.9 billion book publishing industry which relies entirely on the work of writers.”

    I view this not as just a business model downfall but a general society attitude problem. I personally have had many kudos and respect for my business success through a few major corporate career paths, but a comparable lack of respect or equitable payment for my published paid freelance, with an even lesser lack of earnings for my published creative writing work.

    I worry about what happens to a country which does not value a creative community through supporting the arts. Everyone enjoys a great Netflix series, an inspiring gallery outing, a concert, theatre and especially a good book, yet most do not consider the creative processes in play to bring that enjoyment to their personal experiences. A corporate board room brings a high regard to those who sit around the big table with little notice to the artist whose work hangs on the wall in that very room. Pre meeting casual chit chat of the last show watched, or great book read brings rare mention of the skilled writer behind their enjoyment. The magazines on newsstands country-wide are heavily consumed with little revenue to the writer. 

    The attitude that creatives are hobbyists is alarmingly out of balance with the respect of professionals in most other industries. Speaking from my own personal experience when a hard-working creative published writer puts that career path on hold to sell real estate in order to pay the basic household bills, there is something fundamentally out of balance in the social attitude and elected voice in this country.

    The disregard and lack of support for the creative community to earn a living wage is why Canada will continue to have so many stories go unwritten, art never imagined, and sadly creative energy never tapped.

    #SupportLocalBusiness #SupportCanadianContent #CreativesMatter


  • my 2020 hindsight ...

    I am not certain why 2020 seemed like a personal hit as I know we all felt it in our own ways. In reflection it turns out it was both one of my best and one of my worst years ever. It was, for me, a year of yin and yang. For every action there was a positive reaction.
    My husband started the year off losing his dependable job of 35+ years / I ended the year with record breaking earnings.
    There was no far away beach and sun travel on the agenda / we bought a travel trailer and enjoyed our own beautiful part of the world we live in.  
    I missed our kids and their families dearly / our grown kids proved to be wonderful hard working family units each thriving in their own homes and personal family time (what we hoped we taught them was important and that it is all about family, turned out to be true).  
    I put in endless hours of work time / I managed more creative time this past year than ever with dedicated time to write, create, paint and more.
    I missed the social side of life / I feel more connected to that which is dear to me.
    My health challenge was paramount given the focus on underlying conditions and risks / I have practiced razor sharp focus resulting in one of my healthiest years.
    I lost my mother this past fall / I have gained a new tighter closeness with my brothers and sister.
    It was a year of lessons in glass half full or glass half empty. For me it was both and how I approached the moment/day/week/month/year was a lesson in patience. When the negative showed up, I strived to sit tight, ride it out and wait for the counter reaction of the positive. I learned it always shows up if you give it time and are watching for it.
    Uncertainty has become the new normal, but the reality is it should always have been the norm. This past year of upheaval, change, re-focusing, priority shifting, and the future unknown is in the simplest of terms a big reality check. All we really have is the moment. We can lament the past and plan the future, but nothing is as relevant as today.



    Happy New Year!
    Michelle



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