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Reflecting on 23

This year was a significant year for me. So many positive things were happening and celebrating my 23rd birthday seemed to be the icing on the cake. I was fortunate enough to go on my first cruise with my sister and some friends to celebrate a new year, new opportunities and somewhat a new start. There are so many things I enjoyed about the cruise, from the karaoke nights to swimming with the dolphins to attending a random wedding. No I could not afford the internet package, so I had to just put up with human interactions, just kidding. But it was nice I was able to be free and be away. During the 60s Motown night I found myself feeling at home singing along to the Temptations, Marvin Gaye and Stevie Wonder.  But one of the most memorable experiences I have of this cruise was stepping out onto the balcony and feeling the cool breeze and looking at the beautiful view of the ocean. I realized at that point, I was happy. You are probably thinking, “out of all the things to do on a cruise, your best moment was looking at water?” I know it sounds crazy, but every moment I stepped on that balcony it was just me, the water, time to reflect and God.

Often times, everything is always going at a fast pace. School, work, children, family, just life in general seems to always have us on the go. Rarely do we get time to appreciate the simple things of life. Standing above the ocean allowed me to reflect on my journey and give God thanks for where He has brought me. I remembered 4 years ago in my first year of university, I would find myself crying and praying because I believed God told me to take a risk and leave the social work program I was enrolled in. This was one of the scariest decisions I had to make in my life. Where was I going to go? What was I going to say to those who were asking me how school was going? So many people expected me to start what I finished but now I am being told to take a leap of faith and just leave? It took me weeks to come to terms with the fact that if I was going to take this journey of life with God, I had to trust Him. And so I eventually took the leap and left.

Four years later, on my birthday, I stood on the edge of the boat with an honorary degree, a running non-for-profit organization and peace of mind. I remember standing there and thinking to myself, ‘I have never been so happy in my life.’ You see it wasn’t about having a secure job anymore or knowing that I wouldn’t have to struggle that was important to me. It was simply knowing that at that moment God had never forgotten what He promised me 4 years ago. Jeremiah 29:11 says, “For I know the plans I have for you,” declares the Lord. “Plans to prosper you and not to harm you. Plans to give you hope and a future.” And in that moment as I stood above the ocean, I had realized not only did I make it to 23, not only am I fulfilling my purpose, but it was the simplicity of the water, God and peace of mind that told me, “Leanne you are finally happy.”

Cyberbullying in The Workplace: What You Need to Know

In 2016, SHRM ran a story about a 31-year-old female fire fighter from Fairfax County in the US who was found dead after committing suicide. Evidence suggested that the tragedy had followed a prolonged stint of online abuse and bullying from her co-workers. Sadly this is not an isolated case; the rise of technology has led to a significant rise in cyber bullying-related suicides according to news reports. And while teenagers are often thought to be the most vulnerable target group, cyber bullying can affect people of all ages and from all walks of life – including those in the workplace.

What is workplace cyber bullying?
Cyber bullying is classed as harassment, humiliation or intimidation carried out by electronic means such as a smart phone, tablet or computer. The majority of cyber bullying is thought to be carried out over social media platforms such as Facebook and Internet forums, but it can also come in the form of abusive or threatening text messages or emails. Bullying in the workplace is not a new phenomenon but unfortunately technology has given bullies another platform from which to target their victims. Email systems, Blackberries and internal message boards all give way to communication that can be used maliciously. And social media also gives bullies the opportunity to continue their attack long after working hours have ended.

How can cyber bullying affect an employee?
Cyber bullying can have a number of emotional and psychological effects on the victim. They may begin to experience feelings of anxiety, self-loathing, humiliation and even physical illness. They may dread coming to work and as such their motivation and productivity will suffer, perhaps even putting their job at risk. Unfortunately, some firms do not take cyber bullying as seriously as traditional bullying in the workplace but the effects can be just the same and can really hinder the well being of their employee.

What can HR and management do to prevent cyber bullying?
Canada already has serious legal legislation on the subject of cyber bullying. HR teams and management alike would do well to introduce similar laws into their company policy and take necessary action against anyone who is breaching them. Encouragement and support should be given to employees who are brave enough to speak about being bullied. It may also be worth considering suitable training to brief staff on the nature of inappropriate technology usage and expectations both in and out of the workplace.

-Jenny Holt




Scandal ‘us’- Part 2

Olivia represents the modern 21st century independent woman. Do not get me wrong, there is nothing more attractive than a woman who is ambitious and has worked hard for her own. In fact, I think this should be every woman’s dream, to be able to accomplish and succeed to her greatest potential, however it is important to understand that self-absorbed independency takes away from intimacy. When I speak about intimacy, I am speaking about the ability to be vulnerable while maintaining one’s identity, the ability to be interdependent.

As a young lady, I can’t express how many times I have heard this phase from independent, beautiful, successful women, “I don’t need a man, I have _______” (my masters, my cats, Jesus… You fill in the blank), convincing themselves that what they have and who they are is enough in this life. I am not saying that a woman needs a man to be intimate, and in my opinion I think some people would avoid heart ache, be less miserable, and make other people happier if they were single, but intimacy is an amazing experience created between people. And intimacy can only be created through trust. Therefore, Olivia represents a wide range of women who have allowed qualifications and even possessions to stand in the way of achieving healthy intimate relationships.

This idea of independence is the reason why Olivia and the President work together so well, they work on a part-time basis. Interdependency demands commitment and accountability, however, both Olivia and Fitz are convenient for one another, when their priorities aren’t at their peak. It is no wonder Jake could not stay, because he wanted all of her, however Olivia’s independence was only offering part of herself. And  as for the President, he was only offering part of himself; well after running the country, looking like a good husband and father and trying to be re-elected. But true intimacy and interdependency is not void of commitment and accountability. It is only by allowing ourselves to be vulnerable and open up to the possibility that we may be hurt in the process, that we are able to grow and learn from our mistakes. Listen, intimacy has been something I have been afraid of. Always wanting to be in control while never wanting to be hurt, but I am realizing more and more that my desire to have healthy, long-lasting, resilient relationships, is not worth losing for titles, an image, independency or even control.

This brings me to my last point. Olivia is not only a shameless-mistress or a lonely independent woman, but more scarily, she is in denial that she is in fact dependent. I know it may sound like an exaggeration, but think about it, being independent while being dependent is an oxymoron. What is scary about this oxymoron is that Olivia has convinced herself that she is independent, which blurs the reality that she is in fact dependent, whether it’s on the President, her gladiators or even her father. Although Olivia seems to have everything a woman could ever want (except for her messy relationships… for the most part), her livelihood and worth is founded in other men. Olivia has become so good at “fixing things” for everyone else; she has missed out on fixing the issues in her own life. Her dependency is found in the attention which is given to her by men rather than how she values herself. For Olivia, attention equals validation.

I must say, writing my opinion on the Olivia Popes of this generation was hard to come around. Why? Because many of us are taught that finding a husband or being wanted by men is a clear indication of our value, and this is something that many people have believed, including myself. This was Olivia’s problem, rather than taking out the time for herself to deal with her deep issues of feeling abandoned, unloved or even insecure, she continued to Band-Aid her cuts, rather than going deeper into the wounds, in order to achieve true healing. Likewise, I have used validation from others to replace the love which was needed for myself and have plastered it with artificial attention and compliments to cover up the insecurities and neglect I have felt. This kept me going but only lasted for a while, only to find that once that ‘love’ was gone, I would once again become dependent on non-durable praise, attention and other’s opinion of me.

Yes, Olivia Pope is beautiful, sophisticated and successful, not to mention my girl can dress. But the older I get the more I realize there is more to a woman than just what she can put on.  And although Olivia exemplifies the trophy woman for any man she is not the trophy woman for herself. The danger with this day and age is as much as we are trying to be inclusive and be relevant to everyone’s wants and needs; we have often neglected some of the most fundamental qualities that makes a woman powerful and virtuous. But hey, maybe Olivia will come to realize her worth or maybe she won’t, but one thing that is guaranteed, if she doesn’t, she will spend the rest of the seasons lonely and miserable fixing everyone else’s life but her own.

Scandal ‘us’- Part 1

When I was first introduced to the show scandal, I must admit it was the highlight of my life. Considering I no longer had cable and everything on TV just seemed to be the same anyway, Scandal was an escape from studying as well as a refreshing and exciting concept which seemed to have captured everyone’s interest. You see, not only is Scandal a show that is on Primetime TV but it also casts a black woman who is beautiful, successful and sophisticated. Yes, she is a hot mess and always seems emotionless, or more like an emotional wreck, but Olivia somewhat represents the successful and ambitious side of black women which seems to be down played and excluded from American culture and media. However, I started to notice some things about this ‘Olivia’ which seemed to bother me the more I watched the show.

As easy as it is to say I was bothered because of her unquestionable immoral acts, I have to confess, I was more bothered by how it reflected my view and my mind set, than anything else. Don’t get me wrong, the show is brilliant and has given me essential breaks between studying and doing school assignments, however, many things in Scandal has brought up questions about how women are represented, how we see ourselves and the low standards which society expects from us. I first came across the idea that as beautiful and educated as Olivia is, Olivia is a mistress. I remember when I first started watching the show; Olivia and the President would always find themselves in a heat of emotions making out behind some campaigning bristle boards or in some random elevator somewhere.

This captured my interest even more because of the secrecy of their relationship and how much sexier it was when nobody else knew or understood, except them. Plus, their adultery was much easier to justify when the President’s wife seemed to be conniving and always out for self-gain. Unfortunately this idea of liberalism has impacted our minds and has allowed us to think that these things should not only be tolerable, but should also be glorified. Therefore, the life of a mistress and a cheating married man has been made to seem fairly normal and enticing rather than bothersome and degrading. You see, despite all the issues Olivia has with her stalker father and terrorist mother, everything seems to be survivable and better once she lays eyes on the president or softly brushes her index finger against his. In other words, the affection and longing to be loved comes from Olivia, while for the President, it is a comfort to his ego and a convenience in his schedule.

Usually it is the woman looking for love, affection and acceptance which makes her inclined to seek it from a man and give it to a man. This makes him Superman, being able to provide for the needs of a lonely, desperate woman. As for him, he is the hero who is the family man and loving father, while gaining emotional escape and sexual benefits at any cost, even the cost of his dignity, from his independent-dependent side chick. And so, I began to realize that the relationship between Olivia and the President was no longer sexy and mysterious, but rather it was a toxic case of addiction and deep unfounded obsession.