Every relationship has its ups and downs. And if your partner is experiencing a personal hurdle, such as job loss, injury or financial setback, it’s not always easy to know exactly how to lend your love, support and encouragement. So what's the right way to show you care?
Annabel Fitzsimmons, a health and wellness expert and co-author of Bittergirl: Getting Over Getting Dumped (Penguin Canada, 2005), weighs in on when and how to help a loved one over a hurdle, and if and when you should move on from the situation.
1. Create space When a problem arises, one can feel pressured to try to fix it immediately, rather than allowing a solution to present itself organically over time. At times, attempts to fix your partner's problem can even feel forced. “Everyone needs support in different ways, so if your partner is the type of person who needs to figure things out before they talk about it, have the confidence to give him or her the space and time needed to figure things out,” says Fitzsimmons.
2. Be a good listener One of the best ways to help someone over a hurdle is to listen. As tempting as it can be to jump in and give your opinion, resist the urge. Fitzsimmons shares where women often go wrong in this scenario: “We like to fix things. We often try to either facilitate the change or navigate the change when sometimes the best course of action is just to be silent and supportive and not inject our opinions.”
There’s something to be said for letting your loved one come to terms with what’s bothering him on his own time. “By nature we like to help people and solve problems, and sometimes we can overreach which can hinder the process,” says Fitzsimmons.
3. Make a plan as a group Rather than telling your partner what you think he or she needs to change or work on, start a family initiative. If you frame a specific action as something for the whole family to work on, it takes the pressure off of your partner. Fitzsimmons suggests sitting down as a family and deciding all together what your family goals are.
Set personal, professional and health goals. Ask “What do we want our family life to look like five years from now?” and then break down how you’ll get there. “Framing things with questions is far more effective than telling someone what you think they should do,” says Fitzsimmons.
Page 1 of 2 -- Find advice on when to seek outside help for your partner's problems on page 2
4. Consult a third party It’s often useful to involve a third party, perhaps a professional, to help make the necessary steps in overcoming a problem. Depending on the situation, you can source the right person to help your partner over the specific hurdle. Whether it’s a career counsellor or a therapist, a third party can be crucial to the process, and can offer an objective opinion. “Encourage your partner to go seek help in the area they need it,” says Fitzsimmons. “You can’t be everything to your partner.” 5. Know when to walk away “When you feel you have exhausted all the possibilities and you can’t get beyond this impasse in your relationship, you might need to walk away,” says Fitzsimmons. And if your partner refuses to address the problem and it then spirals into other issues, like substance abuse, you need to take your own emotional and physical health into consideration.
Fitzsimmons emphasizes the importance of support in successful relationships, and room for growth. “I do believe if you are in a relationship where you are not supported in fully being yourself, then that is not a relationship that can grow long term,” says Fitzsimmons. Everyone’s boundaries are different and you need to determine where to draw the line. If leaving the relationship is a decision you decide to make, “recognize and have confidence in yourself, and know you are leaving for the right reasons,” says Fitzsimmons.
No matter what difficulty your partner is facing, there’s no doubt that love and support from an encouraging partner can help him persevere. Whether you give him a bit of space, or help him get professional advice, there are always ways to help your loved one through a difficult chapter in his life.
Want an in-demand job with a healthy future? Look no further than the skilled trades in Canada. "There is an incredible amount of opportunity in the trades industry in Canada right now," says Peter Harris, editor-in-chief of Workopolis, who reports on trends and changes in the Canadian job market.
"Trades workers need not be subject to the boom-and-bust cycles of provincial economies, because trades jobs are evergreen and also come with a great deal of freedom of mobility," he says. For example, in every city across the country, homeowners are always looking for reliable, affordable work on their homes: renovation, plumbing, electrical, roofing and more, says Harris.
Positions in the skilled trades offer another bonus: These roles are far more insulated from being sent offshore and to automation, says Harris. "[These are] the two biggest threats to many career paths," he says. Furthermore, Canada faces a shortage of one million tradespeople by 2020, as many people in that field will be retiring, he says. "The average age of welders is 57, and large numbers of trades workers across the board are also into their 50s."
Defining the "best" trade is highly subjective; it depends on where you live and what you consider most valuable: lots of demand, high pay, flexibility to set your own hours or whatever you feel is vital to a good job. That said, based on the job opportunities being posted online in the skilled trades, Harris says the most sought-after employees are in these five vocations.
1. Construction workers Whether it be working on new home construction, infrastructure (like roads) or commercial enterprises, construction workers are in high demand in Canada. Construction is considered a cornerstone of Canadian industry and it represents about seven percent of the Canadian workforce, according to the Canadian Construction Association. While positions may be plentiful, construction work is often seasonal and contract-based.
2. Vehicle repair In the past year, the number of job postings for the mechanic trades has spiked 94 percent over June 2013, says Harris. As anyone who has ever owned a car knows, auto mechanics tend to be perennially busy. According to Human Resources Skills Development Canada, this job is also called automotive service technician, helpful keywords if you're searching for post-secondary education programs, which tend to use this title instead of "car mechanics."
3. Maintenance worker Although maintenance work comprises a very broad array of specialties, these jobs are in high demand across the country, says Harris. Not just hands-on repair (although it can include these skills), maintenance work encompasses operations, planning and information management skills as well. These jobs are posted under a variety of names, such as maintenance technician, maintenance mechanic, maintenance specialist and, of course, maintenance worker.
4. Electricians Electricity is vital to life as we know it in Canada. Licensed electricians lay out, assemble, install, test, troubleshoot and repair electrical wiring, fixtures, control devices and related equipment in buildings and other structures, according to Human Resources and Skills Development Canada. Electricians are highly sought-after in commercial, industrial and residential spheres. There are many positions open with electrical contractors, maintenance companies and industries, and there are also ample self-employment opportunities.
5. Heavy machinery operators (such as a backhoe, bulldozer) Wherever there's a freshly paved road or newly built construction, a heavy machinery operator isn't far behind. Operators work backhoes, bulldozers, graders and other heavy-duty construction vehicles. Another term that describes this trade is heavy equipment operator, which is the terminology post-secondary schools and colleges use to designate program offerings. Like construction work, these roles can be plentiful across the nation, but also tend to be seasonal.
Warm up in style this winter with this super soft—and luxurious—alpaca yarn wrap.
Cuddle up with the Banff Wrap – an extra soft wrap knit in a luxurious alpaca yarn. The wrap is knit with two strands of Eco Alpaca DK yarn held together, and the ombre effect is created simply by alternating the colours of the strands – a lot simpler than it sounds! The large finished wrap is the perfect size to keep you warm from indoors to outdoors, fall to winter.
The Banff Wrap is knit in three sections – each one with a different colour combination. When you run out of yarn for one colour combination, you switch to the next. The instructions clearly explain how to switch between colour sections, so you can smoothly transition and avoid mistakes. If you desire a smaller or larger wrap, simply subtract or add stitches when you cast on, but it is important to remember that your cast on must remain an odd number.
Materials: - 7 Skeins of Americo Eco Alpaca DK (100% Superfine Alpaca) 100g / 262 yards (240 m) - 7 mm (US10.75) 24-inch (60 cm) circular needles - Yarn needle
Contrast Colour AA Eco Alpaca DK in a dark colour 3 Skeins
Contrast Colour AB Eco Alpaca DK, one strand of colour A and one of B
Contrast Colour BB Eco Alpaca DK in a light colour 4 Skeins
Note about the yarn:Eco Alpaca DK is available through Americo Original online and at select yarn stores. You can substitute for other DK weight yarns in your stash. Remember that you will need 3 skeins of one colour, and 4 skeins of a second colour.
Measurements: One Size – 67 inches (170 cm) in length and 23.5 inches (60 cm) in width
Gauge: 13 stitches and 17 rows = 4 inches (10 cm) in garter stitch using 7 mm (US10.75) size needles or size needed to achieve gauge
K, k: knit
P, p: purl
CC: contrast colour
This pattern is knit using 2 strands of yarn at the same time.
Section 1: Colour AA
Using 2 strands of colour A held together, cast on 79 stitches
Purl 2 rows
Begin Seed Stitch Pattern:
R1: K2 *(p1, k1), repeat from * to last 3 stitches, p1, k2
Repeat row 1 until you have used up 2 full skeins of colour A.
*Note: As new colours are added, make sure that they are joined on the same side of the work in order for the stitches to look consistent on both sides.
Section 2: Colour AB
Add colour B to the 3rd skein of colour A and with 2 strands held together continue knitting until you have used up colour AB.
Section 3: Colour BB
Using two strands of colour B held together continue knitting in seed stitch pattern until you have enough yarn to complete the following:
Repeat row 1 once more
Knit 2 rows.
Cast off and weave in ends…and enjoy your beautiful new wrap!
Americo Original is a Canadian yarn company and online knitting shop that features a high-end selection of yarns, textiles, custom knitwear patterns and accessories. Only natural fibers, produced especially for us in the Andean highlands of South America are offered, including luxurious wools, llama, alpaca, organic and premium cottons, linen, silk and cashmere. Americo's one-of-a kind runway pieces and classic styles for the hand knitter are created in our design lab. Americo is based in Toronto, Canada and ships internationally from their online store: americo.ca/shop.
Think outside the box this Valentine's Day and pick up something cute, funny or thoughtful!
Valentine's Day is full of clichés. Chocolates, lingerie, flowers—it's not for everybody (though no judgement if you're all about that OTT romance). Which is why we've put together a list of gifts that we think aren't as obvious. Some are silly, some require a personal touch—but we're sure all of them will be well-recieved. Take a look.
Do you and your person have a song? Was there something special you played at your wedding, or a tune that always puts a smile on your partner’s face? This personalized poster is the best way to honour that ditty.
Taking care of something together—like a pet—is a great way to expand your relationship. But not everyone is up for a new furry friend. Instead, pick up a plant, or better yet, grow a plant together. This Bonsai Tree Kit is the perfect way to watch your love grow—without the animal allergens.
Kissable lips sort of go hand-in-hand with Valentine’s Day, so get your love the gift of healthy lips—with a twist. Sign your lover up for an opportunity to get her makeup professionally done, or if you’re in Toronto plan for your sweety to check out BITE Beauty Lab—she’ll get to make her own personalized lipstick shade.
Empty shopping bags, broken chairs, stacks and stacks of magazines—when writer Christina Gonzales realized her mom might be a hoarder, she went to the experts to find out how she could help, and repaired their relationship in the process.
At my mother's apartment, there are a lot of unspoken rules. "Don't open the kitchen cabinets" is one of them. I've only ever used one cupboard, which is right above the sink and houses the sieve, a few large ceramic bowls and the few packs of ramen noodles that haven't yet gone bad. I try not to ask my mom what's in the rest of those cupboards, or why our pots and pans are piled beside the stove and our dishes never leave the drying rack. I brought up the subject once in aggravation when I moved back home two years ago to save money. "You're too much, Christina," she responded angrily. It instantly brought me back to my childhood.
When it all began
As a kid, I was close with my mother, despite her inability to let anything go. From the outside, our family looked normal, but when you opened the front door of our two-bedroom apartment, it was obvious something was different. There were rooms filled to the ceiling with souvenirs of our past: my first mattress from a twin-size bed I had outgrown years before, reusable shopping bags, pillows, suitcases, books, a lime-green swivel chair. My mom's dresser overflowed with so many accessories, half-used bottles of body lotion, old blush compacts and loose coins that you couldn't even see the wooden surface. A layer of dust covered everything, which meant she didn't use—or even touch—the stuff. I was humiliated that our home was so disorderly.
The clutter really began to accumulate when I was about 11 years old. My mom stopped inviting people to our home, and I stopped, too. My best friends in high school asked me why we'd never hang out at my place, and I did my best to dodge their questions. My frustration stemmed from jealousy (why couldn't my mom entertain the way other moms did?) and a fundamental difference in what we thought "home" should mean (I longed to live in a house filled with family and friends; she thought home should be a private retreat). I would cry, yell and plead with her to throw things away, until my teen years, when I started to distance myself emotionally from her. I knew that no matter what I said or did, I couldn't control my mother's hoarding, and it was easier to avoid her—and the subject of home—altogether.
When I moved back home at 28—I'd quit my day job to pursue a full-time freelance writing career, and my mom offered up my childhood bedroom as a way to save money—it didn't take long before we had our confrontation about the kitchen cupboards. But this time, I realized I didn't want the cycle to continue; the bitterness I'd carried with me for years had to cease in order for us to have a healthy relationship.
Understanding the problem
What I'd always found most challenging was that she couldn't see where I was coming from—she truly doesn't realize her belongings are piling up around her. Yet, she's unlike the people I've seen on the TLC show Hoarding: Buried Alive; she's physically healthy, she's about to retire from a successful career and she has an active social life. She's also been a giving, supportive and loving mother. So what's the deal? I approached several specialists to help give me insight into my mother's hoarding issue.
Dr. Peggy Richter, a psychiatrist and the director of the Frederick W. Thompson Anxiety Disorders Centre's Clinic for OCD and Related Disorders at Sunnybrook Health Sciences Centre in Toronto, says that, while their houses might not look like the ones on TV, an estimated two to five percent of Canadians suffer from compulsive hoarding disorder. Dr. Richter explains that hoarding is more than the inability to throw things out. "Rather, to be considered a clinical condition, it results in a significant accumulation that impacts the ability to use the space the way you would like or the way most people would," she says. "And people may try to minimize the impact. For example, maybe their kitchen is quite cluttered; they can still make breakfast, but they have piles in front of the oven, so they never use it anymore, though they claim they never did. Similarly, someone whose bed is too cluttered may claim that she prefers, and is more comfortable, sleeping on the couch."
Elaine Birchall, a social worker and hoarding behaviour and intervention specialist with clients in Ottawa and Toronto, says hoarders tend to save things for one of three main reasons: sentimental (this item represents my life and is part of me), intrinsic (this item is amazing and offers so many possibilities) or instrumental (I might need this someday). I think my mom is a sentimental hoarder. She once mentioned that her own mother discarded her childhood trophies and awards and that she wished she still had those things to help her reminisce. There's a certain glee she gets from pulling out an item that someone else would've thrown away long ago, like the cheerleading catalogue my now-40-year-old cousin was featured in when she was in high school in the '90s. "It's so nice. Maria was so pretty," she'd say.
Dr. Sheila Woody, a professor of psychology and psychology researcher at the University of British Columbia's Centre for Collaborative Research on Hoarding in Vancouver, shed some light on how to approach my mom's hoarding disorder respectfully and without judgment. "Making your mom's apartment a place you want to live is not an appropriate goal," says Dr. Woody, noting that people with hoarding disorders don't realize the impact of their mountains of possessions. I first needed to accept that this apartment would never become what I'd always perceived as the ideal home. There was one thing that I could change, though, and that was the usability of the space. "If you're trying to make it so that [your mom isn't] at risk of falling over when she's trying to reach something, or not at risk of setting the house on fire when she turns the stove on, that's a very reasonable goal," says Dr. Woody, who adds that it's also important for there to be adequate room to get out of the apartment in case of an emergency.
Finding common ground
To ensure that my mom's apartment was no longer a hazardous zone, I began to help her discard what Birchall calls the "easy wins": For some, these are nostalgia-free items (such as old toothbrushes and grimy shoes) and those that are unsanitary (like expired food); for others, they're items the person feels no extreme need to save. Birchall recommended I calmly ask my mom if we could relocate old things to make room for new items we'd actually use. I did it for the first time a few months ago, when I called her from the grocery store to ask if we had soy sauce. When my mom went and retrieved it, she told me that it was expired. "OK, I'll buy a new bottle, and you can ditch the old one," I responded. When I arrived home, it was sitting on the kitchen counter ready for disposal.
In my childhood, I would've taken the bottle down to the garbage chute that instant, a nonverbal signal that there was absolutely no reason to keep expired condiments. Now, I understand that getting rid of things causes her real distress. Instead of feeling exasperated and ashamed, all I felt this time was guilt. I realized that I'd been acting like a punishing drill sergeant, pushing my agenda onto my mother by barking at her to see things my way. And, according to Birchall, that's exactly the wrong approach. "Even when my patients want to hold on to genuine garbage, unless it's contaminated, I have to do my level best to make them see the reality of this," she says. "And even then, I don't just try to get someone to agree to let go of something; I try to understand what the importance of that item is to them."
So I didn't ask my mom when she planned on discarding the soy sauce; I knew it wasn't a sentimental item and that she was practical enough to understand it wasn't safe to consume. There was no fight, no power struggle, no "I'm right, and you're wrong." Rather, I gave her the space to decide when it was the right time—if there was a right time—to throw out the bottle. I tried my best to be patient, to have a stress-free conversation and to respect the value of my mom's belongings while holding firm to my boundaries within our shared space. It's a slow process, but it's effective. Showing compassion for my mom's feelings about her stuff makes it easier for her to let things go. When I push too much, we backtrack on any progress we've made. The day after our conversation, I walked into the kitchen and that old bottle of soy sauce was gone. It was a small step, but for me—and my mom—it was a breakthrough.
Social worker and hoarding specialist Elaine Birchall gives her best advice for helping a hoarder.
1. Complete a safety audit. Find the heat sources, such as electrical panels, fireplaces, hot water tanks, furnaces and stoves, and make sure there is a clearance of at least four feet around them, if space allows. The paths to those heat sources must also be free and clear in case of fire and should be at least 33 inches wide.
2. Create boundaries and limits, especially if you live in the same home as the hoarder. Build a positive co-tenant dynamic by defining who "owns" each room and what is allowed in each space. Common areas must be clear so that all tenants can use the space and have a social life.
3. Decide on permanent spaces. A permanent place is a storage area that makes sense for an item. For example, you'd never store canned goods under the bed—you'd put them in a kitchen cupboard or pantry. When choosing a permanent place, hold the item and close your eyes. Ask yourself, "Where is the first place I'd look for this?" That is where it should be.
4. Do your research. Rather than insisting that you know why the hoarder should part with an item, find an appropriate expert source. For example, if a hoarder wants to keep expired foods, go to the Canadian Food Inspection Agency; the organization's website will explain why it's unsafe to keep around.
5. Show respect. Don't apply pressure. Work at the hoarder's pace and don't diminish his or her feelings. Try to put yourself in that person's shoes by doing a mental tally of 20 possessions you love and imagining how you might feel if a family member made you throw them away.