Intro to Weed for Michelle – Part 1.

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If there’s one thing that I like best about the whole legal weed thing, it’s that I can actually choose the strain that I want – and am not simply getting whatever someone has on hand.  This is lesson number one, for most people: there are different types of weed and they don’t have the same effects.

There are three types that people consume: sativa, indica, and hybrids.  The latter, of course, is a mix of the first two.

Before I knew about the different types, I was often confused by other people discussing their ‘highs’. For me, weed had almost exclusively given me the stereotypical ‘lazy’ feeling with a heavy side dose of the munchies. Meanwhile, I had friends telling me how they liked to smoke a bit of weed and then clean their house from top to bottom. Like… what?! How on earth could anyone find that enjoyable when the sofa cushions were so soft and squishy?

The answer is in the type of weed consumed.

Sativas are, generally, a more ‘up’ high. Cheerful. Not necessarily a stimulant, but a much more focused or “cerebral” high.  Some people would call them a daytime high – it’s usually not accompanied by the urge to curl up on the sofa with a bowl of cheesies.

Indicas are, generally, the evening/night high. A relaxing high in terms of both brain and body. Often used for chronic pain, insomnia, and anxiety.

Interestingly, the plants don’t just have different effects – they also behave differently as they’re growing. Sativas are tall. Indicas are short and shrubby. Sativas take longer to bloom. Indicas are better grown indoors instead of outside.

Hybrids are a.. well, hybrids. A combination. The aim, of course, being to give someone the best of both worlds. They might be 60% sativa and 40% indica, or the reverse, or literally any other ratio.

Beyond the type of weed, there’s the actual strain – like any other plant, there are plenty from which to choose (like Tangerine Dream, Pink Kush, White Widow, etc..etc..etc..) Each will have a naturally different flavour and scent (thanks to terpenes – scroll down this page for a little chart with some basic flavour/scents. Each will have a slightly different effect. Each will have different levels of THC and CBD.  Much like buying any other product, it’s nice to find one that you like and re-order as-needed. Consistency is a good thing!

Let’s talk about THC and CBD.

Your body naturally makes something called cannabinoids and it has receptors for them.  Cannabinoids are chemicals – and, in addition to those made by your body, cannabinoids are found in weed. Most of the receptors are in your brain – so when the cannabinoids attach, you experience changes in your mood, perception of time, senses, coordination, etc.

The two cannabinoids most discussed, at least when it comes to weed, are CBD and THC.

CBD has been a big deal for a lot of people over the past few years – with people buying it in lotions, feeding it to their dogs, and otherwise finding creative uses for it.  CBD is cannabidiol – it’s part of the weed that doesn’t get you high at all, but has the potential to relieve pain, help you sleep, decrease anxiety, etc. The research is still pretty new, but a lot of people swear by it. For some people, it’s the redeeming part of the devil’s lettuce.

THC is the part that gets you high.  THC is tetrahydrocannabinol. It attaches to the brain receptors and makes you feel relaxed, a bit happy (or downright euphoric), etc. The more THC, the higher the high.  Under 2.5% THC and you likely won’t feel anything. 15% THC is sort of the middle ground. Over 25% is considered strong.

Think of it like alcohol – the higher the percentage, the stronger it is. You can use a smaller quantity (generally) to get your desired effect.

Every strain of weed will have a specific amount of CBD and THC in it – low or high, depending. Some people specifically choose weed that’s low in THC but higher in CBD – they don’t want to feel ‘high’, but they want the pain relief, perhaps.  Other people prefer something with more THC so they can experience the ‘high’.


So, you’re thinking you want to try some (presumably) legal weed. You need to decide on a combination of the following:

  1. Are you looking for something a bit energizing or relaxing or middle ground? (Sativa, Indica, or hybrid)
  2. Do you want to feel high or just have some potential benefits from CBD, or somewhere in the middle? (% THC and/or % CBD)
  3. What flavours are you interested in? (Strain)

And then you’ll need to decide how you want to consume it – which I’ll talk about in (probably) tomorrow’s instalment.

Also – please add corrections, more info, or ask questions… I tried to be accurate, thorough, but not overwhelming… but I was a little bit baked while writing this.  (Ha!)

Going Feral.

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There is a possibility that Coffee will have to travel for work at some point in the future and my mind has immediately gone to the worst-case-scenarios. I like to imagine myself as being a smart, strong, sensual woman – and to varying degrees I am – but the life I have constructed with Coffee is intended to minimize my weaknesses.

I have been half-joking about all the things that will go wrong – like a toilet will get clogged and, since I have no idea how to use a plunger, the youngest kid will need to shit into grocery bags until Coffee gets back later in the week.

Or what if something goes wrong with our electrical system? We’ll be living in the dark until Coffee returns because I’m afraid of the breaker panel in the basement and there is no way I’m getting near it.


And let’s not forget the actual simple practicalities of managing a life – walking the dog, feeding the cats, buying groceries, paying bills, doing laundry, shovelling snow (or mowing the lawn, depending on the season) and, oh, wait, I still have to go to work 5 days per week. Holy shit, I am not qualified.

Look – I’m really good at some things. But I have a lot of.. quirks. I’m fussy. I am not remotely self-reliant on, like, 30 different levels.  My mental well-being depends on all the lovely structure that’s been crafted around me like those wooden stakes and ropes around a sapling.

Coffee has humoured me in these discussions, while reminding me that I can call a plumber or an electrician, I can google instructions for things, the kid can walk the dog, and that I can order groceries online so I don’t have to worry about endlessly wandering the store without supervision. (Too bad – I’ve already insisted that the kid  and I will eat sandwiches and multivitamins.)

But he also reminded me that the more likely outcome is that I’ll be just fine and that I will have a hard time adjusting to him being home again after he’s been away for a bit.  And I admit, I will likely need to adjust – because I get very, very lost in my head sometimes.

Maybe it’s an only child thing – spending a lot of time alone, lost in thought, with a very controllable (by me) environment, is something with which I am very comfortable. I know that I lean towards the hyperfocus aspect of ADD and it’s hard for me to drag myself out. I describe it as being “in the flow” and when I need to shift away, it feels like I’m trying to swim against a really strong current.  It makes me irritable. It takes me some time to drag my attention outward again. Everything seems harsh and unpleasant, suddenly.

I will need to make an effort to see other humans, away from work, too – which.. well, I really enjoy being a hermit, so that’s going to be rough.

The good, I suppose, is that Coffee will be doing work-related stuff that he’ll enjoy. And I’ll be able to go to bed at 7pm and sprawl like a starfish across the king-sized bed.

Maybe I’ll discover that I am surprisingly self-sufficient, or maybe he’ll return to find out that I was fired and we now live in our cars.  It’ll be an adventure.

Tangerine Dream Review.

Published / by violet / 2 Comments on Tangerine Dream Review.

For lack of anything else to write about, here’s a review of some weed.

Actually, first, here’s a bit of rambling on the topic.  Despite the legalization across Canada, quite a few  people are still whispering about it. I know plenty of people ordered from a legal source when it became available – some out of curiosity because they’ve never tried it, some necessity because the dispensaries and legal producers are running short, and some because it’s been 40 years since they’ve tried any weed and they’re wondering if they’ll still enjoy it.

But very few people are talking about it the same way the would about alcohol. I assume some people just aren’t comfortable with it yet – the language, the lingo, the details. I assume others are still worried they’ll be judged.

The legal website for purchase here doesn’t allow reviews – and, to be honest, their product info is pretty short on details. Hopefully that improves but, in the meantime, there are plenty of sites that provide plenty of details about various strains.

We’ll call this review – and any that come in the future – my own personal ranking system in the event that I need help figuring out what/if to re-order.

I got a pretty hefty order of legal weed recently – two orders, actually, that arrived on the same day (because I got impatient waiting for the first one to arrive). Today I finally had the chance to try one of the strains and.. it’s been quite the day.

Today’s sample was Tangerine Dream (sativa dominant), to be specific.

The only way I can describe the results of this particular weed is to say that it was like it was feeding my ADD.  It’s been a really, really long time since I’ve felt like that. I’ve spent many years working to control my brain’s urge to meander… and this just totally wiped out all my ability/control. Hoooooboy.

I was cheerful enough and the high was very cerebral, both of which were nice side effects. I had super relaxed muscles – which was nice for my shoulder/neck situation. I was a little snack-y but not uncontrollably – it wasn’t a case where food was magically delightful.

(This weed, actually, tasted delightful from the start – a lot like orange peels. Which, to me, is a good thing. A really nice, bright citrus taste that lingered.)

But.. I could not focus on anything for more than a minute or two. I kept starting something, getting distracted, and then starting something else. I kept forgetting what I was doing while I was doing it. The day felt like it was 400 hours – not in a bad way, just that time was going by ridiculously slowly.   I kept looking at the clock and wondering how the hell it could possibly still not be nighttime.

None of it bothered me. I was kind of.. in the moment.

Definitely not the weed to use when I’ve got something – anything – that needs to get done.  That said, it was a really nice rest for my brain in a way that didn’t involve sleeping.

I’m curious how well I’ll sleep tonight – my usual evening consumption has been very helpful (both in terms of getting me to fall asleep but also, I think, staying asleep) and it would be lovely if other strains did that, too.

1, 2, skip-a-few, 99, 100.

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(I can’t be the only one who heard that ‘joke’ as a kid, right?)

I missed a couple of days already – in my defence, it’s been a ridiculous few weeks and this week, in particular, was jammed full of stuff every single day.  Also, I forgot about NaBloPoMo.  Next week is going to be a whole thing, too, so I clearly picked the wrong year to commit to this whole ‘write every day’ thing.

I’ve done a lot of talking this week and that, sometimes, makes it hard to think of something to write. I guess I get it out of my system a bit? I’ve had some really good thoughtful conversations (and a lot of hilarious discussions) and since talking is how I process things best, it’s been really helpful. There’s been a lot of feelings happening, so having the ability to talk about it to a lot of really empathetic, understanding people has been so good.

The past few days have been full of presentations and meetings and conference calls and more meetings and more presentations and van night and.. it’s been completely exhausting. On top of that, there’s.. some bigger stuff related to work.

The problem is that I can’t write about the situation that’s happening at work – in part because it has to do with someone (staff, I mean) who isn’t me, and in part because it’s so complex that I’d need a flow-chart, indexes, a page with a ‘cast’ listing, and it still wouldn’t be a good enough picture. There’s, like, the BIG problem, then a secondary big problem and a tertiary, too. Then a bunch of smaller (but still significant) problems.

And while I can’t excuse myself from the problems, and I am definitely involved here, I am also not overly responsible for the outcome. Other people – several of them – will need to figure out what they’re going to do and how they’re going to end this situation (on different levels).

See what I mean about complicated?

But I’ve been trying to figure out some ‘rules’ to get through the next few weeks and to keep myself focused in the face of others’ unpredictability.

  1. Take care of myself – and ask others to take care of me, too, as appropriate.
  2. Remember my role and be clear about it. There are things I need to do and there are things I will do and then.. there’s other stuff. Which leads into,
  3. Protect my boundaries. I genuinely like the people involved in some parts of the issues and I need to remember that I can genuinely like them without getting myself into stuff that I don’t need to be into.
  4. Do not encourage ‘side drama’. Everyone fucking loves to add shit to the pile, right?
  5. Let people take responsibility (or not) for their own stuff and the consequences associated with that choice.
  6. Remember to love.

I dunno, it’s all easier said than done.  I have felt so much guilt about two of the BIG issues and, through talking to several people, have (mostly) managed to put that aside. I have questioned myself on multiple levels about how responsible I was for some of this (and, I know other have questioned it too, even when they didn’t say it).

And the only thing to do is learn the lessons, as best I can, identify the good parts and hold them tight, and then let the cards fall where they will. I’ll do my best to respond to whatever happens next in a balanced, steady way.

I am so grateful that it’s the weekend – that I can not read email, not check voice mail, not have to focus on anything other than doing my best to relax and live my own peaceful life.

Kids and People Who Take Drugs and Humans In General, Really.

Published / by violet / 1 Comment on Kids and People Who Take Drugs and Humans In General, Really.

When I used to work for a major corporation, I spent a lot of time complaining (sometimes crying) about how much it sucked.

The thing I love most about my current job is that the urgency, the issues, the work is all directly applicable to human beings (and not appliances, as was the case with the major corp).  If I’m going to get invested in any way in something, it’s much easier to do so with humans than washing machines or fridges. (And yet, I was probably still overly-invested in those fucking appliances.)

An acquaintance/friend of mine recently became a middle school teacher in the US. She has been struggling with it for a bunch of reasons (one part being that it’s all new) and has been writing quite openly about some of her feelings, the challenges, etc.  As much as her discomfort sucks, I have also been laughing a little bit behind my screen.. because hooboy, I recognize myself there.

What I’ve learned from working directly with human beings is that.. human beings are messy as all get-out. You can’t (generally) control someone else’s emotions or thoughts or behaviours. You can’t anticipate their needs. You can’t shove them into doing the right thing(s). You can’t control what they do when they’re not around. You can’t fix their childhood issues (whether they’re children or adults) and you can’t undo biology.

The only thing you can control is yourself.  Set boundaries. Re-evaluate and reset boundaries.

We all know that’s easier said than done.

You could not pay me enough money to attempt to teach a classroom full of middle school kids. I’d be lucky to last an hour and, at the end of that hour, I’d be irreparably damaged (and I’m only slightly exaggerating). Honestly, chances are really good that I’d end up being one of the teachers in the news – a wonky, half-drunk mugshot posted next to a couple paragraphs describing how the students found me completely passed out in the parking lot before school in the morning.

(Large groups of children make me nervous.  Give me a bunch of people high on meth and I’m much, much more comfortable.)

The hardest, and best, parts of my job are.. humans. The clients, the client community, my coworkers, the partners, the families, the community in general. I am not always confident that I am working well with humans – some days it all feels like a perfect flow and other days it feels awful.

I’m constantly trying to figure out my boundaries. I’m trying to figure out why I’ve set them where they are, whether they need to shift (tighter or looser), trying to adjust them to different circumstances and different people.

The people that I work with, generally speaking, have completely different boundaries from my own – out of necessity, out of learning to survive, out of circumstances.  It can make me feel like I am too rigid, too cold, too uncaring. It can make me feel like I am not helpful, like I am not doing my job well.  There have been many days where I have spent a lot of time wondering whether my reaction to something was appropriate – too much? too little?

Many of the people I work with have intense needs – both in terms of their physical needs (housing, food, health care) and emotional (nurturing, caring, support). I am constantly reminding myself of what my job is – which can be hard since my job is not black and white. It is not a perfectly-boxed set of behaviours that I plunk on the table with each person.

My job isn’t to fulfil everyone’s needs. Sometimes I need to help people find other resources to support them. Sometimes it’s to nudge them.

Often, and it’s hard, my job is to step back and see the gap – the big, pressing, ugly need – and simply accept it. 

It is always hard to see emotional pain – and every single person I work with contains a lot of it. it is hard to step back and acknowledge to myself that I can’t fix it, or even patch it up, within the context of my job.

I have to refocus. I can help people by helping them feel they belong, that they have worth. I can help with certain practical things. I can help by listening (within certain contexts). I can help simply by accepting them as-is, where they are, regardless of what’s happening. For some people, I can provide structure and reliability and predictability. For some people I can offer encouragement.

I can’t wade into any part of someone’s darkness if I don’t tie a rope around myself so I can climb back out – and the rope is being very clear with them, and myself, about my limitations.

Sometimes people are very angry about that. Sometimes they try to manipulate me into changing my behaviours to fit what they need. And this is also really hard for me – because I know I could make them feel better (and, by extension, relieve myself of feeling bad for making them feel bad) if I just relaxed my boundaries a little bit.

But what they need is consistency. They need to see that boundaries can be filled with love and respect – even when those boundaries are different from what they’d like. In some cases, people will back off and leave. They need something else, or something more, than what I can give them – and that’s okay (as much as it suuuuucks). Sometimes people will fight the boundaries, push against the limits, demand that I justify/explain everything (repeatedly) so they can argue their side.  That’s okay. It’s hard, and it sucks, but it’s okay.

This is not unlike my friend teaching middle school kids. Kids are learning about the world around them and how far they can push things and they’re learning to be independent creatures (apart from their parents) and.. just typing those things makes me feel anxious.

I don’t say these out loud much, but this is the gist of what I would say to my clients if I could give them a schpiel about things:

Let me tell you what’s going to happen between us. Here’s what you can expect from me. Some of you will not like me. Some of you will think I am great. Some of you will try to fight me every step of the way. We will have conflict but that’s okay. You may move away from me or you may move closer. You will see that no matter what you’re doing, or how you’re doing it, I value you. There are things I cannot help you with no matter how much I wish I could. I have a role in your life and I need to stick to that role.  I will try very hard not to make you wonder where I stand on things. I will work hard to never make our relationship about my needs (and I will spend a lot of time thinking about my own needs). Here are the things I can do and here are the things I cannot. I will try to be direct when I answer your questions. I will hold on to confidentiality.

When I think about what I appreciate most in my times of.. difficulty.. it usually boils down to someone who feels steady (read: my beloved husband). Someone who can accept whatever’s going on with me and still be consistent. Someone who shows empathy but doesn’t make it about their own discomfort around whatever’s happening for me. Someone who doesn’t run in the face of my crap and who doesn’t take it on. Someone who agrees that things suck, yes, but doesn’t immediately try to fix it.

And so, this is what I try to do for others.  It is hard work.

I am a big fan of the instagram account @notesfromyourtherapist for reasons like this: