Thursday, April 26, 2007

Personal Armour

I've decided this week that I no longer need my personal armour.

That's the flub I carry around on this 5 ft. 3 in. frame that my inner critic believes will keep it safe from 'everyone out there' 30-something years old, I've been walking with the wolves 'out there' and am fine. Mostly because, it's not all wolves.

I've spent a long time acquiring and keeping this flub.

I've even had spells of time where I've lost it all. ALL of it. Skeletal me.

It's irrelevant HOW I look to the outside world...people are still drawn to me, I am still drawn to them and relationship's still form. Keeping myself fat isn't going to change any of that, other than the amount of time I'm likely to be able to spend on this earth forging those relationships into life-long magical moments.

I still have sex.

Whether I'm 118 lbs or 180 lbs, and I'm sure (if I were) 280 lbs...although my ability and agility would be compromised at the latter...I'd still be able to be intimate with someone.


Underneath my loving, warm, amicable, often seemingly outgoing the little me that believes that if I'm fat then I am safe from the hourds of men and women who'll want a piece of my womanhood. There are a number of myths in this statement:

1. Fat people still get laid.

2. Not everyone I meet wants to have sex with me.

3. Even if they did...that's not really a bad becomes a bad thing IF they act on it.

4. There is no safety in fat. Only a lifetime of health issues, which include: an overtaxed liver, adrenal stress, onset of diabetes, depression, ill-body smells (fat people smell bad...I've yet to meet one that doesn't), nerve malfunction, inability to move freely, poor self-image and oh so many many more things that decrease the longevity and quality of living.

5. I am woman, whether I'm healthy or unhealthy (which is to say, ideal body weight or overweight) so wanting to be anything OTHER than that is ridiculous. I am a woman whether I'm fat or healthy. Better to be a healthy woman, than an unhealthy woman.

So...this past week, I've made the conscious decision that I don't want, nor do I NEED, my body armour anymore. It protects me from NOTHING. In fact, when I sat down and thought about it fully, clearly, fairly, non-judgmentally but rather matter-of-factily, I realized that I've created this pocket of self-delusion about my weight for almost an entire decade. If not longer.

I've blamed having babies for it. NOW I have the convenience of crapped out thyroid readings, weirdo liver readings, waiting to see an Endocrinologist-doctor-person, and a multitude of other health reasons, to NOT take responsibility for the fat person I've created. And, perhaps I do have a crapped out thyroid...chances are, I've created that problem, as quite frankly, I haven't always had this problem. It's 'crept up' on me, so my kind doctor tells me. Years of not loving myself, is more like it.

Nope...scarfing bread/toast/pasta before bed (because it makes me sleep better...apparently I use it as a sedative, which loads of people do) is a really bad idea. I'm not exactly getting a good workout at 10 pm, am I? Even IF I were to have rambunctious sex with my husband, it still wouldn't burn off enough, those carbohydrates get stored as flub.

I use carbohydrates as a sedative. My blood sugar spikes and then drastically drops (surprise...ok, not really, I'm soooo many North Americans.) Ummm, that toast knocks me out at night. It's better than valium. Or so I tell myself. Or have done.

(Meditation is a much healthier way of relaxing.)

This isn't all that surprising given my life history. In fact, this is fairly text-book case scenario.

WHAT I've never wanted is to be a statistic or a text-book case. And since I am...I need to shift that paradigm. And, the choice is MINE to make.

I can choose to feel sorry for myself and carry on looking and feeling the way I do (or getting worse) OR I can choose to get off the damned couch, go for a walk, MEAN IT WHEN I SAY I DO YOGA and damned well DO it daily (rather than once in a while), I can be kind to myself, take rests as I need them, choose foods that don't hurt me and understand the relationship I've had with foods that hurt me, AND I can implement these DOABLE changes in moderation.

So, that's what I've decided this week. And, I happen to be the kind of person that once having decided something, can and does stick to it.

I'm committed to my own well-Being. And that means, I give myself permission to no longer need this armour.

I do not need protecting.

I do not need to continue punishing myself (my body) for allowing it to be raped; for allowing it to be abused; for allowing it to be neglected; for allowing it to be bulimic or bullied for sooo very long; for allowing it to starve, and for allowing it to be hurt, over and over and over. I do not need to exert THIS kind of control.

I am allowed to LOVE me.

I am allowed to be WELL.

I am allowed to be HEALTHY.

I am allowed to be STRONG.

I am allowed to be ME, in all of my imperfect incarnations.

I am allowed to REST.

I am allowed to SAY NO.

I am allowed to GIVE freely.

I am allowed to ENGAGE IN LOVE.

I am allowed to HAVE A VOICE.

I am allowed to HAVE A BLOG, so I can SHARE.

And, I am allowed to FEEL SAFE, as I am.

I am allowed to be me.

May each of you love the YOU that you are. May each of you walk without armour. And, may each of you have no need for it.

Wednesday, April 11, 2007

Conversation with K.

Hello dear K,
It's much easier to be mean to ourselves than to be kind. Up until recently, I was guilty of the not-being-kind-to-myself thing too but encouraging others to be so and do so.

I've learned, late, but learned (so it's ok, I learned when I needed to learn it) that it's ok to be me, as I am. Your plays are starting to celebrate this side of you...and you know what?'s ok to want/need an audience. A true performer does. However, wishing that you HAD done something ("I should have..."), that you didn't do, couldn't do, weren't ready to do at a time in your life that isn't 'now' is energy that's best spent conspiring HOW you can do something, anything 'now.' There's nothing wrong with a performer wanting an audience. Your examination of yourself about wanting this is important, so well done. your heart of hearts...WHAT character do you want to play? WHO do you want to be? WHAT play do you want to do? It's not narcissistic to want to be let yourself want it.

That actress you went to see last night at Prairie Theatre Exchange, btw, is extremely talented but isn't playing with a full deck. You also don't go through men, like toilet paper, when you are happy. Guess what?....she isn't.

You're tired, exhausted, knackered, I hear you saying...IT'S OK - we need these moments of exhaustion to enable us to reflect because it's all we are capable of doing during these weeks, days, months, times of fatigue.

Tired, is your body telling you it's had enough of you neglecting it, ignoring it and pushing it to its limit. It's hard to listen to that voice as a busy busy mother of two boys, a husband that travels and as a woman trying to figure out what she wants. But it's ok to take the time to rest. Even if it means sitting and doing nothing. I'm allowing myself the indulgence of writing to you at dinner time. The connection we women have is vital to our longevity. Studies show that men don't need it (nor do they seek it), but we do. It's ok to embrace the need for friendship. So, I'm doing both right now. I feel relaxed and am breathing deeply and dribbling away with you. I'd be equally happy doing this over tea with you...but you'd have to agree to no fussing. Let the teabag sit in the cup.

On figuring out what you want: not that this REALLY helps, but you wouldn't believe HOW many women I know who are feeling RIGHT NOW that everything they thought they wanted and have become (by virtue of wanting and choosing) is NOT actually what they want. I'm one of them.

Interesting that ALL of these women have children who have started school in the past two years.

Interesting also, that ALL of these women are highly creative, incredibly intuitive and intelligent.

ON finding the time to be creative....interestingly, serendipitously, I was cleaning out my filing cabinet the other day and came across the "Anita" file...yes, I have files on all of you friends I know (newspaper clippings when I had access to them, play reviews, notes & letters written, postcards from your travels, even some phone messages, etc.)...and this is what she gave me (I'm not sure when, but I read it on a day I needed to...)

To Encourage my friend, F.

"A Woman must be careful to not allow over responsibility or over respectability to steal her necessary creative riffs, and raptures. She must simply put her foot down and say no to half of what she believes she 'should' be doing. ART is not meant to be created in stolen moments only."

From 'Women who run with the Wolves' p. 307 Clarissa Pinkola

That actrees you watched the other night is a well-known selfish woman. Good for her. Good for her art. Good for her audience. She chooses to DO, instead of waiting for 'stolen moments only' I have recently let go (resigned) from EVERY committee/group/etc. that I belonged to, that ate up alllllllllll of my time (so that I would feel a sense of purpose and have every second of every day gobbled up?) and had no time for my family ( know, quality time) or me. Let me share with you that letting go of ALLLLLLLLLLLLL of that was difficult. Each resignation letter I wrote, filled my gut with insane amounts of GUILT. I acknowledged the guilt, asked myself where it came from, and finished the letter without an answer.

I slept better that weekend than I have in years.

I had NOTHING to do with my time, except...nothing.

I sat still for the whole weekend. I fought the urge to FILL my time with things to do for other people. I allowed myself to feel good about the laundry I did for my girls. I read a book and fought the urge to get up and vacuum (again). I took the girls swimming and forced myself to be in the PRESENT, in the chlorinated indoor pool, so I wasn't constantly saying, "ok girls, we'll have to go soon." I let them tell me when they had had enough...which was 3 hours in the pool. S'alright, we had fun.

A lightness washed over me. At first I thought it was the chlorine. And then, I thought to myself...whoa, I need MORE of THIS feeling in my life.

But it had to start with my choosing to let go.

You know about surrender. You're a Christian. And in Being so, is surrendering...right?

About your work...the ONLY person's approval you really need when you are in that tight little artificially lit space in that school is that of the child you are with...because THAT's why you are there. YOU want to make a difference in this child's you are there. And, you're damned good at it. Small breakthroughs, even if far and in between, are there and they happen...and they happen because you are taking that time to be with that child.

You say your work, that you always felt you wanted to do, is unfulfilling. Do you fully honour each child that's in that space with you when you are together? What's it going to feel like when one of those children becomes an adult and stands up to speak to a group of people and says, "I had a lot of difficulty as a child. No-one thought I could do anything. But I had a teacher, who could teach. Ms. K. worked in the darkest space with us 'slow' kids and she encouraged us, and it was slow, but she did it, and I learned. And that woman turned my life around. She believed in me when no-one else did."...or something like that. Children need angels like you. But only if you can honour them, and your time together when you are IN it together in the moment.

Kids know when they are sitting with people that believe in them.

Ok...enough of my dribblings. You say you hate your body. If you won't believe yourself, can you believe an old friend, who's body is equally flabby and imperfect, who's hair is going grayer by the day, who's got lines under her eyes, droopy titties from nursing two wonderful girls, stretchmarks that line the part of her belly where nice underwear should sit and bikini's can't hide, who's bladder sometimes lets go a teeny bit of pee when she laughs too hard (thank god for panty-liners) and who's teeth are falling out or getting pulled out and are no longer white.

That body houses you. It isn't you. We have a responsibility to care of that body and to nourish it...but we should honour the journey it's taken to bring us to today. Did you ever criticize your mother's body for having you? Or your grandmother? ...oh crikey, I'm nattering on like an old woman. Flabby woman. Aging woman. Totally imperfect woman. But a woman that is loved and is capable of you are.

Ok...much love to you. I'm just sharing...not preaching...just offering. What do I know?...I'm only an egg. So much to learn yet, and my tits aren't at my waist just yet. But my ankles are thick and I think I might need bifocals.

Monday, April 9, 2007

War Relics

My family went to Ottawa, Canada's National capital, this past weekend.

It happened to be the 90th Anniversary of Canada's 'victory' and involvement in WWI, and the taking of Vimy Ridge (a wholly Canadian war success, apparently.)

Taking my nine year old daughter to the War Museum was, an experience.

We walked room upon room of relics, information plastered all over the walls, images and documentary footage screaming at us in highly stylized reproductions of moments in war-time history. Striking, it was. Overwhelming, it was. Sad, it was. An experience, it was.

The Afghanistan exhibit stood out.

Probably because it's happening now. As I pen this blog, history is in the making. With my next breath, history is being made. That history, they say, belongs to those that win.

How are we winning, when people and entire cultures are dying in this manner?

As it goes, Canada lost 6 more men the very day we were in the exhibit.

There are these posts, throughout the exhibit, where you can pencil your thoughts on questions posed to you, such as:

How do you think Canada responded to the events of September 11, 2001?

What do you think Canada's role in Afghanistan is?

There were more...but I'm drawing a blank right now. Personal commentary though, is a fabulous way to walk through an exhibit, especially when it's happening now. As I said, it's a striking exhibit.

My nine year old daughter walked with me. She wanted to answer these questions too. This meant that discussion about what is happening over there, and why it is exactly we are involved over there, and what it all means.

I am not a war expert.

I am a mother of two girls, living in Canada. I'm a Civil Servant. I'm a girl with a horse. I'm a person with thoughts. I'm an optimist, mostly.

So, when my nine year old asked me, "Why does this have to happen?" HOW was I supposed to answer that?

How would you answer that?

Right or wrong, my response to her was this, "Human Beings aren't walking perfection, so we don't always do things right, and ideas about 'what is right' are different person to person, country to country, nation to nation, war to war, and even during peace-times people disagree about 'what is right', one of your responsibilities as a Human Being is to ask the questions that need to be asked, so that you can learn; so that you can form your own ideas and you can share your knowledge with your friends, your family, your community and your, while I may have my own answer for 'why' this has to happen, it would be my opinion, not yours, nor that man's over there. So, why don't you write that question on the post-it note, and post it. You will have asked the first of many questions that will help you find an answer to this good question."

And she did. She also wrote her name and age on that post-it note.

She said she felt good for asking the question.

She hugged my arm as we walked away and said, "Men can be cruel, huh?"

"They can," I replied, "but their capacity for kindness is much larger."

She asked what 'capacity' means. I added, "It means that it's in each of us to use...each of us is born with a HUGE well of kindness, so we have the ability to be kind, which means we CAN; we can CHOOSE...but often we aren't able to dig into that ability, that capacity, that can-ness, unless we are learning. Just as you're learning right now. Or that child in that picture back there learns what he/she needs to learn in their experience, in their country, in this time." [Here's what I didn't say: Although, part of me wonders what you learn by having both of your legs blown off before you're 10.] "Here you are, in Canada, asking questions."

I praised her for asking the first of many questions.

She asked me what it would be like HERE, if the war was on OUR ground, IN CANADA?

Good question.

I found myself wondering if I've just become so desensitized to this war happening OVER THERE? It's not like we see or experience any real 'shortage' in our current daily lives, other than inflated oil prices at the gas pumps perhaps, from this war that we are involved in, is it?

My answer to her is that our lives would be very very different.

And that's why we go...I hope....because we are eager to learn from history. There is much to learn from eons of War and her Relics.

That's why the exhibit is there. To remind us to ask these questions.

And, it looks like I might have more questions to ask.