A few weeks ago I attended mandatory workplace training in Non-Violent Crisis Intervention and learned a few basic practical applications and physical intervention skills 

As the aggressor one may decide to grab, hit, throw, punch, kick or yell. As the  person being targeted, one may have to avoid, deflect or escape various holds, blows and violent behaviours intended to do you harm.

Each person ideally wants these 3 things in play: Movement. Stability. Safety. If you can’t move, that is a problem. If you fall over at a whisper, that’s a problem. And if you’re not able to maintain relative safety, that is a problem.

Here’s my problem. On either side, aggressor or target, in this scenario, with my current skills and training, I can never have all three in play. Rehearsal was laughable and entirely unrealistic for me as a disabled person, crutch user and general non-combatant (arm-wrestling and logic aside). All this training did for me was to highlight how vulnerable I really am, how invisible disability still is, and how fantastic it would be to have an All Bodies Defence Project* to go with All Bodies Dance Project**(www.allbodiesdanceproject).

The messaging I took away was basically, ‘Girl, you are done for.’ The training session was an ablest convention where disability was simply not part of the conversation, there was no awareness, no adaptations or suggestions or even acknowledgement that someone might have limited mobility or other impacts on their participation or experience from either side. It was geared toward the angry, middle-aged, able-bodied white, male stereotype, and everything else was simply out of scope. Everyone played along. I improvised and was invisible until the final 60 seconds when the facilitator gathered everyone round, thanked them for their participation and then pointing a finger right at me said, in a sing song tone suitable for babies only, with not a clue about how fast the day’s work could be undone and his ignorance confirmed, “And you too, dear –you did a great job. Thank you for coming!”.

Respect individuals and their experience. Please! Don’t single me out in a crowd as ‘other’. Don’t talk to me like I’m a child. I am an intelligent, strong, independent, capable, full-grown woman and human being. I have a name, I am actually wearing a name tag: My name is Sam. It is not Dear. Now is the time to practise what you preach.

I wanted to hit him. Instead, I walked away. And nobody noticed. Nobody understood.

It was a very disappointing day.



*I’d love to attend a class on self-defense where persons with disabilities and without could learn and practice skills together to stay safe and there was input from and representation of a variety of people and disciplines (ie: differences in strategy for sighted vs blind or partially sighted persons, crutch vs wheelchair users, youth vs senior, etc.)

**As a dancer with All Bodies Dance I feel respected and valued. Rehearsal is a place where everyone comes to learn together and share experiences, where differences are acknowledged and new ways to move and work together are discovered. Where I never feel out-of-place or at a disadvantage. We dance and have fun doing it in all sorts of non-typical ways!



The way it was

via Daily Prompt: Penchant

Looking back, I find it rather comical what I remember as being considered the most important to the adults in my life.

Faster, faster, faster. Nothing could be done fast enough. That review of Dragon in a Wagon, the paper on Confederation, survival skill training, finding a lab partner or someone to talk to during French conversation.

Printing, my ‘a’s apparently looked like ‘u’s — I imagine they still do, there’s just nobody left to breathe down my neck in pursuit of perfection. And may I just add that my printing and spelling has always been and remains exceptionally legible and up to snuff? They say don’t sweat the small stuff, and this stuff was pretty small and my teachers were definitely sweating!

And eye contact, wow! I was bugged about that constantly. I wonder if they ever considered the people I had have the hardest time looking at, have the hardest eyes, like how a dog glares just before they’ve decided there’s no choice but to attack. I understand that eye contact isn’t everything for everyone in every culture but for people and cultures where it is important, you could try making your eye-balls a little more approachable!

So among other things, I’ve a penchant for taking things at my own speed, devil take those who want to hurry the process, for printing rebel ‘a’s and offering soft eyes and no judgement if you’d prefer not to look eye to eye 🙂



via Daily Prompt: Educate

Listening to this broadcast by CBC on the dilemma of disclosing disability at work (for more info, click here). Education and a willingness to adapt and come together is I would say, the biggest take away. Nobody is invincible, the population is aging and changing and diversity and accessibility are strengths and values and necessities that don’t take away from anyone, but provide greater support and opportunity for everyone.

This really hit home for me. Some excellent points were made. Definitely worth a listen.



via Daily Prompt: Glaring

Like it or not, life is full of hiccups. Sometimes they are quiet and pass almost unnoticed, sometimes they provide comic relief. They could be downright annoying, disruptive, or even cringeworthy.

I was watching a video on Youtube the other day, where the artists were taking questions from the audience, and I was surprised at how many thoughtful, and non-repeat queries there were.

One audience member asked about the differences in culture/language on the project, if through their work the artists had learned any new phrases or expressions and if so, what were their favourites? Interesting question, I thought.

Except that the person asking the question offered a personal and completely bungled example and their ignorance became glaringly obvious, though everyone was very supportive and chimed in with ‘No worries! Easy mistake to make, happens all the time….’

It reminded me of the time I was on the bus downtown, surrounded by languages from around the globe — sandwiched between two cheerful Spanish chatterers (¡Hola!) and two other rather confused English conversationalists — with a friend who is fluent in both languages. The English speakers were having a guess at what language the Spaniards were speaking… “Is it German, do you think?”

What?! I mean, those two languages sound pretty different, for starters (Danke vs ¡Gracias!)… Not everyone knows or can hear the difference, apparently. I found it bizaare, and my friend just rolled her eyes.



The Sammy Shuffle: part 23

I know ‘excellent’ is not typically a word people use to describe Mondays. But today was pretty darn good. I’m supposed to be making a real dinner, but I will most likely end up just making popcorn this evening 😛

I’ve been watching the TV show Switched at Birth – season 4 just popped up on Netflix. I like that the cast is made up of actors with lived experience and not just actors acting or researching roles, though I understand and value that view.

And it just made me think, that I really should take some disability studies courses! It would be so interesting to explore that more, to maybe meet more people who speak my language, or understand a bit of the culture in and around the disability community, learn something new, share experiences and perspectives.

So, next bit of that was, ok, where? Where could I take the courses? I thought right away of CapU, because hey! I know the campus, it’s nearby, they’ve got lots of courses available. In fact, they have a Kinesiology program, Special Education Assistant program, Autism Applied Behaviour Analysis program, even a Rehabilitation, Music Therapy and Care Assistant program… For crying out loud, they should have disability studies; the disabled community should have some actual presence and representation on campus…

Followed by, well, their disability services department is basically held together by a single dedicated person, the disability community there is zip or all still hidden away somewhere and afraid to venture into the light. The Accessibility (formerly Disability) Collective meetings were attended by maybe three people despite heroically active efforts to engage the wider community throughout my time there. And most people I talked to then (and continue to talk with now), gave the old sympathetic “I know exactly how you feel. I understand. Here, let me help you.” spiel without a clue what they’re talking about.

It made me sad, honestly. To think that Cap prides itself on being welcoming and inclusive and respectful of students from all over the world, from all different backgrounds, giving back to the community, when the visibility and voice of minority groups and the overall sense of community on campus is just so, so small. At least, that was my experience.

I’d just like to be truly seen and heard, to have a say, and nurture a greater understanding of this part of my identity, because I believe it is vitally important. And I’m not the only one, though sometimes it might feel that way.

More research is needed. The other option would be to take online/distance courses, which could be fun! Or just up and move across the country 🙂 I’m not slamming any doors.

The popcorn is calling!





via the Daily Prompt: Retreat

“Write it all down,” my mom told me once, when I was flailing in the dark and not sure anyone gave a crap about the pain I was living through. And I did. All the things I cannot say, I write. It keeps me from retreating and pushes me forward. It just feels right, it feels good. To just write. To just be. To just be me.

I attended a Qmunity workshop recently. The point was made that not everyone identifies with the gender binary, that oftentimes, gender is ambiguous or fluid and how many people struggle to find a representation of gender/preferences that allows them to be true to themselves and also be accepted and represented by a society where the binary is the norm.

And then the question was asked: Why do we have to identify at all? And I was like, “Yes!”

I get so tired of labels sometimes. They have their uses, sure. But sometimes, it’s nice to just let it be. To let a person be. Without burying them under a gargantuan pile of labels, assumptions and associations.

Case in point: strangers still will greet me by saying “What’s wrong with you?” and I want to say, “Do I look broken to you? Most normal people start with ‘Hello’ first…” 😛  So, in most cases, that’s how I respond, with “Hello,” and take it from there.

That’s all for today.

In a world where you can be anything, be kind                           — Unknown




via the Daily Prompt: Bounty

I watched a two-part documentary series on Knowledge about the rise and fall of the Incan empire. Theirs was a bountiful existence, they had it all figured out. For a little while anyways. Their mistake was in trusting the Spanish, who repaid Incan hospitality by ambushing, wounding and kidnapping their king and holding him for ransom — nice guys, those Spaniards 🙂

I highly recommend watching The Inca: Masters of the Clouds. It makes you think of how the world used to be, and some of the technologies and strategies, problems and solutions that arose hundreds of years ago, outside of the typical scope of Western/Eurocentric histories. Can we learn from our mistakes and build sustainability into our successes for the 21st century?

Just something to think about 🙂





Food Motivated

I don’t understand when people say they don’t like to make their own food, or when they survive on store-bought sweets, pre-sliced pieces of plastic cheese, chips and bottles of coke. There is more to life, people, trust me.

Life can be pretty rotten sometimes, I’m not gonna lie. Sometimes, I don’t believe I could ever be more exhausted, sometimes I curse and scream and pull my hair and just want all my problems to disappear. Sometimes I cheat and have popcorn for dinner, just popcorn. I buy the occasional frozen pizza, and during exam week I absolutely have survived on eating 2 meals a day consisting of porridge and peanut butter and banana sandwiches.

But I mean, seriously. A great meal doesn’t have to be much or cost much or require any heavy lifting. Yeah, you need to know how to find the best bang for your buck, but it can be done. I see survivors every day. And I’m thankful I can say I’m now thriving — because, I’ve been there, in survival mode.

I was thinking about this, how a good meal can take seconds. I remember when we were little, my brother and sister and I, we were homeschooled for a number of years, and were lucky enough to have an amazing Mom and Dad to spend time with learning actual life-skills out in the real world. We got to explore and learn and be outside jumping in puddles, running through mud with the dog and staring wide-eyed at the majestic and towering trees of the coastal rainforest we call home, while everyone else was stuck behind a desk.

We would go up to Gospel Rock with Dad and Kita — I want to say all the time, but I didn’t keep track back then, so I’ll just say once a week at a minimum. It was a fantastic, mysterious place with stunning views, large gatherings of arbutus and hours of trails to explore. We would go with our pocket knives and whistles, tree book, bird book, dressed for the season and ready for adventure. Fall was my favourite, with all the leaves turning colour, the smell of damp earth and the rain. We would often pack snacks, hard-boiled eggs with salt and pepper, and tomato wedges with, you guessed it, salt and pepper — it was indescribably good.

And we would come home, and learn some more, play some fiddle. Mom would make dinner, we would do the dishes and race upstairs to change into our pajamas, and dive onto the bed in Mom and Dad’s room, with our pillows and blankets and various favourite stuffed chums. And Dad would read to us. The Redwall series by Ian Jacques, full of courageous badger warlords, treacherous weasels, and peace-loving moles, a whole forest, a whole world of vibrant characters that Dad brought to life with his voice.  We never wanted to go to bed; I could have listened forever. And the food, my God! The inhabitants of Mossflower Woods had it good. We went to bed hungry every night, not because we didn’t have enough on our own table, but because the descriptions in these books are larger than life, and good enough to start you hallucinating deeper’n ever pies, outside inside cobbler riddles, fresh fruit with cream, and hot scones with jam or honey, hearty soups and quenching cordials… Stomachs did growl, menacingly and drool did pool, let me tell you.

So, have some fun! Buy a decent cookbook for inspiration. Turn up the tunes and sing over the stove, don’t slave. Buy some fresh, seasonal veggies. Treat yourself to that perfectly ripe avocado, buy a baguette and lather with butter. Ask your neighbour to dinner.

Live life! We are all food motivated, people. Anyone who says differently is an idiot.



Good day at work today. Some laughs, some teaching ops, some brownies, rain and sun and a needed tidying and tying of loose ends.

Three quarters back to where I have my space the way I want it, taking a needed break from the housework that is ongoing.

I hurt, and my crutches are crunchy — must fix that. I want to melt into a puddle and read my book with some tunes right after I finish this random post.

Trying to contain my enthusiasm for writing research papers that I am no longer obligated to complete, it’s a bittersweet moment 🙂 Truly, no homework is the best kind!

Maybe popcorn later? We will see, perhaps I will celebrate if no one breaks into tears or deliberately hangs up on me again today… My Monday has been a good one, as far as Monday’s go– for everyone else, maybe not so much.

Tomorrow’s another day.

Until next time,


Uncomfortable (3)

A few months ago, I panicked. I had a panic attack. This was diagnosed after I spent 3 hours shut in a room by myself, to write an open book test for which I had prepared.

I am an experienced test taker. I prepare, I budget my time, I get good grades. I don’t panic. In my entire academic career I have never once panicked over a test. I am used to scribbling answers for 3 straight hours in a room by myself. I appreciate the time and the solitude.

As the saying goes, there’s a first time for everything. And my first time was scary as hell. The usual tension was there, when you look at a test and decide whether doing a decent job on it within the allotted time will be rated a standard, difficult or excruciating task. That was ok, no surprises.

“I can do this, I know the material. My notes are good. It’s open book. I have 3 hours. Let’s begin.” And then my mind went blank. A whiteboard with nothing on it. What the hell?

“Ok. Deep breath. Let’s try that again.” The moment was surreal. Nothing. I watched myself from across the room, as an outsider, noting this bewildered stranger with her rapidly rising pulse, sweaty palms, shaky limbs and wild eyes.

I tried. I tried so hard to get back my cool, and I couldn’t do it.

I tried walking the room, yoga, and multiple restarts, while my other self continued to analyse the situation with interest, from across the room. I could not write the test. My vision swam, my head pounded and I felt violently ill. I felt wretched. Ashamed. Terrified. Having no idea what was going on, but realizing finally that going through it alone would be impossible, and that there was no way I could finish the test without having started, I went for help, my other self following me out the door.

I would spend the next 2 hours trying to work through the events with the department assistant, my prof, and the school counsellor. The people were amazing, the support was fantastic. But still my other-self watched, and my feelings of confusion and shame and terror ran rampant. I never wanted to write another test. I didn’t know anything, I felt like the queen of Loserville. My confidence was zero. I was done.

My selves were at war, still separate, and violently contradictory. This is bizarre and unfortunate, but hey, now you know what a panic attack is! It’s probably a one-time thing- you’re a good student and you can take this test and do well, said one. I am so, so scared. I’m going to be sick. This is not normal, what if it happens again?! I am a terrible student. This is awful. I’m so scared, said the other.

Days later, I rewrote the test. And I did know the material! It was so important to me to have that proof. To find that my belief in myself and my abilities was not misplaced. But througout the writing, I was still terrified. I was sure of my answers, sure of the logic. And that was good. Logic was driving this vehicle, the brain, though panic was screaming in the back seat.

And that’s how it’s been for moments in time, in response to a variety of triggers, for a while now. Since my meeting with the school counsellor, I’ve realised that my first attack was not in fact the first, that there are instances where this has happened before without my having a label to stick on it. I’ve realized that there are valid triggers, and valid responses to those triggers. Most of the time, logic wins. And when it doesn’t, I do the things that make me happy to move things back on track.