Saturday, 31 January 2015

Caroline vs. #NoTaxOnTampons

I've been having some trouble connecting my camera to my laptop and downloading my photos, so the post about Tokyo that was supposed to go up today will have to wait.

In the meantime, I want to bring your attention to an important issue for women and other menstruating people in Canada: the fact that we pay GST (goods and services tax) on menstruation products.  Pads, reusable pads, menstrual cups, tampons, everything.  In fact, according to the Government of Canada, all menstrual hygiene products are considered a non-essential item or luxury!  The GST has been lowered from 7% to 5%, but it still adds up: it is estimated that approximately 17,876,392 Canadian women between the ages of 12 and 49 spent about $519,976,963.00 on menstrual hygiene products in 2014 alone.

This week a woman from Toronto named Jill Piebiak started a petition to support Bill C-282, An Act to amend the Excise Tax Act (feminine hygiene products), a private member's bill that Member of Parliament Irene Mathyssen introduced in October 2013.  As these bills are voted on only by MPs the number of signatures on this petition won't necessarily have a direct impact on the outcome of this bill, but they will show the government that this bill has a lot of public support.  The number of signatures is creeping up, but is still appallingly low for something that is so basic.  If you don't think those of us who menstruate should be taxed for a naturally-occurring biological and reproductive function, I urge you to show your support for Bill C-282 by signing the petition, or maybe even go a step further by writing to your Member of Parliament and to the other ministers listed on the petition page.  As Jill wrote, "Let's work together to remove this stain from our legislation."

More information on this can be found on Facebook, Twitter, and through the hashtag #NoTaxOnTampons



Monday, 19 January 2015

Caroline vs. 2015

Happy New Year!

This update has been a long time coming.  I really enjoyed blogging once I started and was full of ideas, but eventually I lost the motivation to update regularly, and then I just...stopped.  A big part of this was my move back to my hometown of Ottawa after five years in my beloved Toronto.

I couldn't find a job in Toronto (ah, the plight of a 20-something with a Bachelor of Arts) so I packed up and headed home to live with my parents.  This caused a lot of stress since I went to boarding school before moving to Toronto for university, so I hadn't lived with my parents in seven years.  Needless to say, it took a lot of adjusting.  I also didn't know too many people in Ottawa; everyone I knew in high school I had either fallen out of touch with, or they had moved out of town after staying home for undergrad.  I did have one of my good Toronto friends with me (hi Sarah!), but I was pretty lonely for the most part.

I struggled with my mental health in high school and in university, but I think the stress of moving back in with my parents, of starting a new job that was largely independent, of being in a long distance relationship with my boyfriend Clem in Berlin, and of not really knowing anyone in the city snowballed my anxiety.  Last winter was terrible all across Canada, and I just felt awful all the time.  I could barely convince myself to get out of bed in the mornings to go to work, let alone string together enough words to make an interesting blog post.

Early in the Spring, after being back in Ottawa for almost a year, I decided to get some professional help.  I had shunned the idea for years because of the stigma surrounding mental health, especially at such a high-achieving school like U of T, but this year I decided enough was enough.  And, honestly, I wish I could go back to my first year in Toronto and actually make that appointment at the U of T counselling services.

With a trip to visit Clem in Europe in April, the great summer weather, and a very adventurous friend, I slowly started to feel better as the summer wore on.  I published an article that ended up on the front page of the Heritage Ottawa Newsletter, I got back into reading, and I even joined a Running Room clinic and ran my first half marathon in September!  With a clearer mind I started thinking about blogging again, but didn't get around to actually putting together a post until...

I moved to Japan.

My boyfriend is completing the second year of his Master's degree at the University of Tokyo, and I decided to "carpe diem," quit my job, and move halfway around the world to join him.  I don't have a job here yet, so until that happens I'll be spending my time adventuring around the city.  This is a once in a lifetime opportunity, and the experience deserves to be recorded and shared.

The famous Shibuya Crossing, on one of my first days in Tokyo.

So, all this to say that I'm back.  Any tips and tricks for Tokyo and Japan would be greatly appreciated!  And if any of you reading this are having trouble with your mental health and want someone to talk to, my ears and e-mail inbox are always open.