Saturday, April 28, 2012

first world this

Wow did I get set off this evening. One wrong phrase - a recent but powerful pet peeve and I'm ready to punch my laptop screen. I have absolutely NO tolerance when people tell me I have 'first world problems' as though nothing I'm saying is worth the breath it takes me to say it. HELL YES I HAVE FIRST WORLD PROBLEMS! I LIVE IN CANADA!! There is nothing I can do about that - even if I went to live in a third world country, I'd still be a Canadian, with Canadian resources, and in all likelihood a Canadian organization backing me. In fact, that's pretty much my life goal. It's not possible for someone with the life I have to having anything BUT first world problems. 

But in the meantime, who are you to presume that those problems aren't worthy of having or that I'm unworthy of  encouragement? To put things in perspective, I'm not talking about my iPhone cover not matching my Prada handbag; I'm talking about stress and money and kids and love and the things each one of you worry about. I'm talking about operating at 90% capacity and something little setting things over the edge. I'm talking about the little every day things that just wear away at your joy until you look around and don't know where it's gone.  

What particularly ticked me off this time was that the 'friend' in question has not been an active part of my life for years and has no idea what's going on for me, making his statement that I'm 'up there with Larry David' in the world of whiners  particularly FU worthy. Yes, my reaction is partly because I can be a whiner and I don't like that about myself, so having it pointed out never goes over well. But I choose to have people in my life who are there to encourage me when I'm down, not trivialize and insult my concerns.  

Honestly, even as first world problems go, I'm doing pretty well. I have friends who are fighting cancer in themselves or their children. Friends who've lost their jobs. Friends whose have hurts so deep they don't even talk about them, while I have a job, a home, a fantastic partner, and a great family. And still, when I get stressed out and whiney, I expect a little grace about it. I expect friends to say 'hang in there,' and 'good luck,' and 'we believe in you.' And if you can't ... well ... expendable friendship are likely a first world problem as well. 

Friday, April 27, 2012

core: red writing hood prompt

Image courtesy of Roger Karlsson
There was bitterness there - the closer you got to it, the more it burned in her mouth. 

She'd never really liked apples for that reason - they reminded her that things might seem sweet on the outside, but the closer you got to the heart of things, the more acrid reality you could taste. It was best to dance around the edges of life - to nibble at the sweetness.

She remembered something from her childhood about apple seeds containing poison. Or perhaps that was apricot seeds. Either way, there was poison inside of something juicy and delicious and ostensibly otherwise good for you.

Snow White's wicked step-mother had known about the poison. It ran through the heart of her and into the basket she left her step-daughter. But our girl didn’t have the power to control it; it would use her, leaving her wasted and discarded - more than she could use it.

And why would she want to risk that?

Monday, April 23, 2012

30 days of shhhh

In response to both a full weekend of off-line-ness and the continuing pondering on the '30 Day Challenge' I've just had the first idea that actually excites me - Do Nothing. Okay, it's a little deeper than that. More along the lines of 'be still' and continuing the theme of being 'quiet' that so often is what I'm forced to when I neglect it for too long and then all systems over-load. 

For my first 30 Day Challenge I'm going to take on meditating for 10 minutes each day. What I love about the concept of meditating, as I interpret it, is that it's flexible yet requires a certain devotion to the task at hand. I could sit and meditate. I could walk or bike and meditate. I could pray silently or out loud or merely reflect on a word or a thought. I could not, however, carry on a conversation, watch TV, be online, or read a book. For 10 minutes a day I will be quiet and reflective and alone with myself and my thoughts. Not in a particular pose or place, but in a particular peacefulness. When I can I will practice savasana and lay - ideally in the sunshine - on my yoga mat with my eyes closed. When that's not possible. I will sit quietly - inside or out. And I will practice shutting my mind up. 

That I'm undertaking this just as STG and I are about to move in together, and that there is much to do and to talk about and a lot of hub-bub going on in life is both perfect and possibly setting myself up for failure. I choose to think of it as perfect - what better time to take one tiny part of a day to be quiet and reflective? 

Within 30 days, I could actually develop some muscle with this. Who would have thought I could be this excited about being quiet!

Friday, April 20, 2012


I enjoy word play as much as the next guy. Unless the next guy is Derrida, or someone who likes puns. So I guess when I say I like word play, I mean I like using words with more than one reading, particularly if more than one reading is intended. To wit: 

I am grounding myself this weekend. 

The word in play here is 'grounding.' As a mom/former mouthy teen, when I hear the word grounding I think restricted freedoms. Not that the BBs suffered from a lot of groundings - there wasn't much to ground them from, and their bedrooms had TVs and game modules, so ... not much deprivation achieved. 

Grounding - it's for your own good
Airline pilots also get grounded, which I suppose might be where the parenting version of the word comes from. Too tipsy. Unstable. A plane with mechanical issues. All good valid reasons for a grounding. 

And, I like the hippie meaning of the word. Being centred and balanced and connected to oneself and the world. 

And so, this weekend I am grounding myself. After I post this, I will not be online for 63 hours. Not even via my phone. I will not interrupt my celebration of BB2's birthday by posting pictures instantly to Facebook. I will not write on any of the 3 blogs I write or edit the blog I oversee. I will not tweet a single character, let alone 140, on any of the 4 Twitter accounts for which I am responsible. I will not even pin a single pin on Pinterest - and that's a hard one for me. 

The thing is, I keep thinking I'm peopled out. I'm tired. Irritable with a capital B. Sensitive in the most unhealthy way. But it's not that I'm peopled out; it's that I'm computer peopled out. So instead of wasting my time on the computer pretending that's a substitution for actually connecting with people I'm off to connect with people. Dinner tonight; a meeting for the charity I volunteer with tomorrow. One-on-one sunshine time with STG. Face-to-face conversations with my BBs. Sunday brunch with my men and Sunday fun with Ubercoach.(after which I will come back and announce what we've planned for the 30 day challenge!). And dear lord please a little quiet and alone time. 

Yes. I am grounded for the weekend. And I truly hope that when I come back on Monday I'll be grounded in the other sense as well. 

Thursday, April 19, 2012

30 days

I'm surrounded by people on 30 day challenges, mostly of the exercise & diet variety. There seems to be some common belief that 30 days is enough to change a habit, and I'm sure it is if that habit wants changing and is replaced with something sustainable. 

I've done 30 day challenges before. No sugar. Writing daily. Moving my body daily. For some reason none of them stuck, but that's not to say that they never will. So, I'm here partly looking for suggestions. And maybe hoping for a team. I'm a big believer in Leo Babuata's 'Single-Changing Method' in theory, but find it hard to pick that one thing. 

I have plenty of ideas - go to bed on time. Spend no more than 30 minutes/day on personal social media. Stop eating refine sugar. Move my body. Sing. Play the piano. Read quietly. Take a photograph. Write. Stop drinking coffee. Get up on time. Create daily.  Finish. Laugh - but when I look at committing to just one for 30 days, it appears to be a VERY bad idea. 

And yet, when I read Leo's principles ... how could they POSSIBLY be a bad idea? 
  1. Start very small.
  2. Do only one change at a time.
  3. Be present and enjoy the activity (don’t focus on results).
  4. Be grateful for every step you take.
This just made me giggle
I'm open to suggestions. And company. I know how many of you are struggling with some of the same things I'm struggling with. We could do this together. And that's where you come in. Leave me a blog comment, or tweet me a tweet, or comment on Facebook about something that YOU are willing to take on for 30 days, or something that you think would make a difference for me for 30 days.

What if we picked something we 'shouldn't' - like drinking every day, or eating something delicious and decadent every day? What if we spent 30 days breaking our own rules? 

How different might our lives look with just one small change of 30 days? What might we learn about ourselves? What might we realise we care about - or no longer care about? 

By tomorrow I will have picked one, and away we'll go! And I think I might just surprise myself. 

Tuesday, April 17, 2012


Misery does not love company.

Misery loves isolation & dark corners & cobwebs where laughter should be.

Misery is the bottom of the pit of sadness that calls out to you at 2:41 am and taunts you about a lifetime of abandoned dreams and unrealized potential.

Misery knots your stomach & back & neck and pounds through your veins, tormenting you from the inside.

Misery is every nasty thought and word you've ever said or thought or written about yourself blasting through a loudspeaker and emblazoned on a drive-in movie screen with everyone you know and love watching and listening.

Misery is a two-day migraine.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

some other beginning's end

I've been packing and shopping and planning and laughing with STG about our move in 2 weeks. We're creating quite the love nest for our selves, and we're both so very excited. And yet, I have a certain sadness I've been denying. And this morning I dug around a little and put my finger on it: as Semisonic so articulately sang at the end of every bar night for the past 15 years, "every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."

I do know who I want to take me home, and that I want my home with him. I also know there's something I'm giving up, as is he, in having that happen. I keep joking that we'll see who gets to alphabetize the spice cabinet, but there is something to be said for independence. That's the obvious issue.

There's more though ... there are things I thought would happen here in my little apartment-for-one that haven't happened. I'm okay with letting them go to move on to the life that's waiting for me, but I think it's also okay to say goodbye and bid them adieu while I'm still here. 

What really feels like giving up rather than letting go is that when I moved here, the impetus for moving here, was that my BBs were not thriving living at home anymore, and I thought it was time to nudge them from the nest so they could learn to fly on their own. They didn't. They haven't. And now I am - I am about to move into something close to my simplest of dream houses with a man who makes my future look very different than it did when I moved here. And my BBs continue to struggle. Part of me feels like I'm abandoning them even though they don't live in the home I'm leaving. They will still be welcome. They will still know how to reach me. But ... it will be different.

I also haven't taken care of myself the way I said I would when I moved in 23 months ago. I did at first - walking to work, practicing yoga, living life in such a way that I didn't need sugar to fill me up. Soon enough I'd lost 40 pounds without even thinking about it. And then all hell broke lose. And I couldn't move off the couch. And my primary medication was sugar again. I regained 30 pounds. It's just a barometer, that damn scale, of whether or not I'm taking care of myself in other ways. I'm not. And I still can, even when I share all my meals with someone with different food needs. I can, but right now I'm not. 

But maybe that's just an excuse. Maybe all I'm really worried about is having someone I'm accountable to, and someone whose interests and cares and opinions and feelings I have to pay attention to. That's never been a huge strength for me, but I'm willing to give it a try. 

I'm excited to be moving in with STG. To be creating a new size and shape of family that includes our off-spring who will all come and go from our home. We will plant gardens, grow roots, explore the world, fight over things that don't matter, and cling to the love that does. 

And I'm okay with saying good by to the life that I planned that never was. Mostly because the life that is waiting for me is so full of sunshine and love and bursting with goodness I never even imagined. 

Thursday, April 12, 2012

in stillness

"Before you speak, ask yourself: 
Is it kind, 
is it true, 
is it necessary, 
does it improve upon the silence?" 

Shirdi Sai Baba

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world. 
I've had this quote rattling around in my head for the past few days. A quick Google search has it attributed to the yoga guru I've named above, Buddha, Socrates, the Quakers, and some mid-century American 'philosopher.' 

I've wanted to post it as a Facebook status followed by my own less placid addition, "If not, how about you STFU?" - partly out of ironic humour, and partly to see if people would actually maybe think about what they are saying. And maybe partly to see if anyone is even out there. 

I am well aware that mostly this quote sticks with me because it is something I need to pay more attention to. I often speak unkindly of others - mostly behind their backs. People watching is both a hobby and sometimes a sport for me, best shared with someone equally 'witty' - and witty rarely means kind.

I'm also not all that careful about checking if what I say is true or just something I've heard. Even more so, I'm likely to exaggerate something that is essentially true - to reinforce the relationship between two things, to dramatize the consequences. To maintain just enough truth to make it plausible, or plausibly deniable. I don't lie, but is what I say fully 'true'? Not as often as I'd like. And, I'm a known gossip - much less so than I was five years ago, but that itch is still there - I want to be the one who knows a secret, and the one who shares it. I want the power to shock, surprise, or gross out someone. It's the downside of being powerful with words, I think. 

I think often about those first two qualities in my speaking - is it true and is it kind? They now guide me more than they have previously. But I rarely consider if something is necessary. If my speaking actually 'improves upon the silence.' 

It's a high standard; there are few things more pure than a comfortable silence. There's an almost-holy intimacy that develops when you are fully yourself with someone, and they are fully themselves, and yet nothing needs to be said. It's rare - we are, culturally, uncomfortable with silence. I don't mean holding back. I've certainly got a long tradition with that as well, and it is the polar opposite of intimate silence- it impedes connection and isolates. Real silence lets something else emerge. 

I'm reminded also of Desiderata by Max Ehrmann ... more things to ponder, in the silence. 

Go placidly amid the noise and haste, and remember what peace there may be in silence.

As far as possible, without surrender, be on good terms with all persons. Speak your truth quietly and clearly; and listen to others, even to the dull and the ignorant, they too have their story. Avoid loud and aggressive persons, they are vexations to the spirit.

If you compare yourself with others, you may become vain and bitter; for always there will be greater and lesser persons than yourself. Enjoy your achievements as well as your plans. Keep interested in your own career, however humble; it is a real possession in the changing fortunes of time.

Exercise caution in your business affairs, for the world is full of trickery. But let this not blind you to what virtue there is; many persons strive for high ideals, and everywhere life is full of heroism. Be yourself. Especially, do not feign affection. Neither be cynical about love, for in the face of all aridity and disenchantment it is perennial as the grass.

Take kindly to the counsel of the years, gracefully surrendering the things of youth. Nurture strength of spirit to shield you in sudden misfortune. But do not distress yourself with imaginings. Many fears are born of fatigue and loneliness.

Beyond a wholesome discipline, be gentle with yourself. You are a child of the universe, no less than the trees and the stars; you have a right to be here. And whether or not it is clear to you, no doubt the universe is unfolding as it should.

Therefore be at peace with God, whatever you conceive Him to be, and whatever your labors and aspirations, in the noisy confusion of life, keep peace in your soul.

With all its sham, drudgery and broken dreams, it is still a beautiful world.

Be cheerful. Strive to be happy.

Max Ehrmann c.1920

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

more than the sum of my parts

I saw this quote on Pinterest yesterday, and at the time I thought - hellz ya, that's right! I choose not fat!  Yee haw!! 

But this morning I had second thoughts ... I've fought my weight most of my life. I've done more diets than I can count - doctor recommended, maternally supervised, ridiculous, reasonable, and everything in between. And yet, despite all that time money and food weighing, I've spent the vast majority of my time since puberty hating my body. I've picked up sports. Sworn to exercise regimes. Bought gym memberships and yoga passes and sporting equipment. And I know I'm not alone in this. I'm not even an extreme example of this. 

My perspective on being fit and healthy and feeling great about my body is that it's at best a life-long struggle and at worst an exhausting, self-depleting wild goose chase fueled by self-loathing. That even in those rare moments when I actually like my body, I will live in constant fear of losing that control, gaining back the weight and fat, and going back to hating myself and my body. 

So, what if I just refuse. What if I refuse to weigh my food? What if I choose not to count my calories? What if I don't track my exercise calories? What if I eat what my body wants when it wants it? What if I don't assign moral quality to the foods I choose and to myself for choosing them? 

Here's the really radical idea ... what if I accepted that the man I love loves me as I am. That my body does it's job pretty well despite some wiggly bits. What if - dare I say it? - I just enjoy my life and my relationships and the rest of who I am and stop thinking quite so much about the space I take up physically? What if I just enjoy my life. That can't be that hard, right? 

Maybe it's even as easy as riding a bike :) 
Riding bikes makes me smile.

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