Saturday, November 27, 2010

The white stuff...

I have always loved snow.  I love the way it looks when it drifts down from the sky;  I have watched it through half iced over windows, drifting down through the overhead lights at a city bus stop, blowing over my face while I shoveled, loved the crunch under my feet in my big "Moon boots", the taste of it on my tongue, and once in a while was able to pick out the true shape of individual snowflakes on the sleeve of my coat.

So many special moments are remembered because of their tie to snow.  Breaking into the house when I was little to get my baby sister warmed up and make her a hot chocolate after school.  I guess Mom's bus was delayed and she was late coming back from her Friday shopping trip!  The winter of the "Red Racer" when Dad built a sled from metal tubing and we proceeded to take our lives into our hands - and in my brother's case his kneecap! - to race past everyone on any hill that could be found in the area.  Little Mountain where the back of the sled broke off and left myself and "J" to ride down a steep rocky slope with Dad stranded halfway up...  Snowmen, and snow forts and snowball fights (and I could occasionally be a deadly accurate shot!).

Later a new house, high school, and shoveling... always shoveling... Christmas lights through a covering blanket of snow.  Piled on the roofs of the neighbourhood, and the homes with the least insulation always had the longest icicles.  That fast freeze after a snowfall that left a crust of ice on the surface, sparkling like crystals in the sunshine.  Unseasonal snows late in the year with big flakes that piled high and then melted fast when the sun came out.

Inner tubing down Mount Seymour - when my dear friend "M" cracked his spine and ended up in a brace for months!  Driving through the back parking lot at the PNE and doing donuts in my boyfriend's car...

Later on when I owned my own home there were other snow memories;  coming home from work on a snowy day in December to find my husband had FINALLY decided to install that double glazed window in our bedroom, but he was only halfway through the job!  Playing with the cats by tossing them gently into a drift and watching them hop around in the powder.  Making sure the walkway was shoveled... and since I was the one home most of the time that job seemed to fall on me, but I figured I was strong and healthy enough, and I had the time, so shovel I did.  And one snowy November I shoveled the walk with my brand new baby daughter strapped to my chest in her "baby bag", and watched her watch the snowflakes fall on her sweet little face and drift to perch on her soft eyebrows. 

There was snow when my two oldest children had chicken pox in February of 1990, great swags of snow draped on the railing of the back deck, and a driveway to shovel while the snowplow blocked my efforts to clear a path for my car!  The blizzard of '91 when I devoured an entire Christmas cake while listening to Mozart and watching the snow drift past the window... and getting called into the hospital because my "sugar levels were too high and they were going to monitor me..."  I never confessed about the cake, and my son was born two days later... both of us healthy and him in a bit of a hurry to arrive!

The snow in 2008 where I shoveled so much snow... and my oldest son taught me the proper use of driveway salt!  There were many times I was tired and sore, aching from childbirth or injury or surgery, and still I shoveled.  I remember once thinking "F*CK!  How do old people do this?", but I still shoveled. The kids were too small, and later not interested.  My partner was working, either on the road or in his shop.  And I was resentful and sometimes angry.  But is still had to be done.

And now, this snow.  What's different is THIS time I shovel for myself and myself alone.  I shovel the side walk, the cycle path, the driveway, and a little bit of the neighbour's too.  My tenant is in a "delicate" state and I want her safe.  My neighbours still have to walk, and the road is not a safe one with no curbs or sideways, so I make sure there is ample space between them and the cars that pass too fast.  And I use LIBERAL salt!  It's an opportunity to nod and smile at the people of my neighbourhood when they pass, wave at the postman (who always appreciates my efforts), the newspaper carriers, and the buses as they pass by before they stop outside my workplace at the loop... and I know many of those drivers by sight.  And once in a while someone will thank me for my efforts.  But I am the one who is thankful.  I am thankful that I have the health and strength to shovel the snow, and also thankful I still have a driveway to shovel.  So this time I laughed with joy as the snow fell, took pride in a job well done, appreciated the ache of strong muscles well used, and slept well that night. 

And I still have a few bags of salt in reserve for the next time....  Hot chocolate, anyone?

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Book nerds of the world, unite....

I confess;  I am a book nerd.  A friend of mine recently posted a "BBC 100" list of "must read" books.  Once I tallied my list I had over 40 of them either as books I had actually read or partially read. I have always loved books. There was a time when I kept every book I had ever read;  stacks and piles and shelves and BOXES of books!  A library of paperback and hard cover novels and anthologies, instructional manuals, encyclopedias of gardening and animal care and cooking and crafting.  If I read it and owned it, it stayed with me.

I discovered the public library in Grade 2.  It was a mile walk (yeah, uphill, in the freezing snow with no gloves... really...) and I made the trip nearly every Saturday for months.  I would sit and read all the childrens' books, then take some home to read.  I checked out as many as I was allowed, and carried them home to read over and over, basically memorizing the stories.  Once I mastered the children's books I moved onto headier stuff and I read The Hobbit during the summer before I started Grade 3... my older sister thought I was faking it... she didn't think I could read at that level. It set the bar for literature for me from then on.  I devoured folk tales, mysteries, gothic novels (Bram Stoker was a favorite), and I discovered Romance novels as I became a teenager.  
In school, although I read voraciously I never worked hard at it, and was usually reading another book before the report for the previous one was written.  I immersed myself in reading, using the story lines traveling into my brain to keep the chaos of home from impacting on me too much.  So I guess I was raised by the books I read.  
When I was offered a chance to take an English course in Highschool called "Novels" I jumped at it!  We would turn in a stack of books that had been read, some would be discussed in groups, some had reports, some were class projects... all were excellent.  My teacher kept a tally of books in the class report ledger, and I started  to keep "lists" of all the books I had read.. two or three a week, ...sometimes one every day. 

I kept up with a list of "books I have read" for a long time.  I listed titles, number of pages and dates read.  I filled up a spiral bound notebook, then added loose leaf pages to it, for almost twelve of my adult years until my children were born.  

When the time finally came, though, most of those books I had held onto became just another stack of stuff that weighed me down and kept me from moving forward.  I realized that I had to streamline my life a bit more, and books was only one of the hoards that was ruthlessly (I thought) pared down to make room for other "stuff".  It was really nothing compared to the final "Purge of 2009" when I truly reduced the room full to only a few piles of books that I knew I could - and have - enjoyed over and over.  My "summer reading" pile, my "evenings before sleep" pile, my "making my life better" pile, and my "favorite children's stories" pile... the most precious pile of all.

My most treasured possessions (well, as "stuff" goes") are those books from my childhood.  I have a stack of old leather bound story books in my private collection, tucked into a tall bookshelf in the corner of my bedroom where they are not for public display.  In them are  stories from long ago;  "Little Black Sambo", "The Crow and the Daylight" and "The Sparrow-King's Rewards" to name a few.  They were new when I was born, and are standing the test of time.  Not all my books are so well preserved.  I have a collection of small Victor Hugo novels, bound in blue cloth and stamped with gold.  They are too fragile to read, but they carry the memory of my Father and I wandering a swap meet together and how he haggled with the seller for them because I wanted them.  It still brings a smile to my face.  There are a few others; favorite authors, favorite novels I re-read from time to time, story books I read to my children and others I hope someday to read to my grandchildren.  They stand together as my remaining book collection, whittled down after the "purge" of 2009!  I only read before sleeping now, mostly ones I have enjoyed in the past.  But I recently wandered through a bookstore, checking each department, paging through texts on design, motorcycles, dogs, food, and gardening, giggling over "self help" titles, looking at what titles I had enjoyed, what authors I was still interested in, and actually managed to leave without purchasing a single book. 
There were a few titles I will add to the collection later, but right now my life is full enough, and serene enough, that I don't need to read to quiet the chaos around me or silence the anxiety that keeps me from sleep.  Life is good, and it's going to get much better soon... And I will always have room for a few more books.

Friday, November 19, 2010

Making a list and checking it twice...

Ah... 'tis the season.

Christmas for me used to be a big Chaotic production.  As a child I took my Christmas money to the local stores after school had let out for the season and purchased what I could for my large family from what little I had.  Later, as a teen, I would take the bus into downtown Vancouver and spend most of my money on my Mom (even calculating the taxes into the total) with a little left for small tokens for brothers, sisters and friends.  I started making gifts after a while, and discovered my favorite Christmas cake and cookie recipes at the age of 13!  I still make those items every year, even though life is very different now.  I have photos in my personal album of me sewing gifts for various family members so all would have a gift under the tree - I especially remember the night shirt and night hat combination I created one Christmas eve for my loving Brother-in-law "D" way back in the day.  He wore it Christmas day with a smile on his face and that made me very happy!

As time went by and I moved away from home I tried to capture something by having friends and family visit "our" home and share in the Christmas spirit.  First on Christmas Eve, then as my children started arriving on the last Sunday before Christmas.  I would make handmade invitations, send out Christmas cards and a newsletter, and photos of the kids to close relatives.  I would prepare piles of preserves from my summer stash of fruit, clean the house (and once in a while the house would be cleaned by professionals for which I was very grateful), decorate, bake, cook and freeze whatever I had room for.  The light display on the front of the house grew;  the decorations became more elaborate and the letters became longer, but there was something missing.  I was trying too hard to grab hold of something and make my family share the feeling when they weren't feeling it.  In fact, my marriage had fallen apart a long time before and my "partner" had emotionally checked out, so I was grasping at something that had slipped away a long time before.

I spent the first Christmas on my own mourning the loss of something I had never had.  I still baked, cooked, cleaned, sent out cards and invited friends to partake, but I scaled down so much, and ended up realizing something.  Just like the Grinch I realized  it comes without ribbons, it comes without tags, it comes without packages, boxes or bags...   I knew finally in my heart that really, it's just another day on the calender if you don't have someone you love to share it with.

This year is another "first".  My "first" Christmas as a stronger, healthier person.  I asked a friend to come over last week and help me take all the Christmas decorations out of the attic. She is a young Mom with two little toddlers who is also starting over and has nothing. There were 14 rough totes, boxes, containers and packages, loaded with every item you could think of, and at the end of that evening half of them went home with her...  Looking at some of those items was bittersweet.  Decorations I had bought for the kids - little angels, snowmen, wreathes with doves, baubles and pinecones - all of them sitting in boxes, unwanted, unneeded and forgotten.  I know now that my kids didn't enjoy Christmas.  It was just a rush of Chaos for them, and it was harder because at the end of the day they didn't even have school to go to so they could get away from the final meltdown of their parent's relationship;  that long, slow slide into oblivion with him running and me chasing him, until I stopped chasing and he just ran away...  and they knew that they weren't on either of our radar...  It wasn't the stuff they wanted, or the trappings or the feast, the gathering of people they didn't know... it was being made to realize that they mattered more than the "stuff" that made up what I thought of as "Christmas".

So this year there will be no letter.  I will ask a few dear friends to celebrate some things with me this year;  growth, survival, joy, self realization and love.  Always love.  I will make time to spend with my kids, each in their own time, to enjoy and celebrate my love for them in a kinder, softer and gentler way.  There will be enough lights to sparkle in my eyes - and joyful because I put them up on my own.  There will be  enough tinsel and baubles, enough pine boughs and holly branches.  But not more than I can do for myself.  I will still go to cut my tree - the way Dad did when we were small - and decorate it with too many lights and too many decorations.  My home will smell of baking Christmas cake, shortbread and balsam.  And there will be peace.  And many small dogs....

Sunday, November 14, 2010

It takes a village...

How many of us have heard the expression "it takes a village to raise a child"?   As I look back on my life and examine how I did things - and where I arrived at the end of the day - I am rethinking that expression and looking at it from a new angle thanks to my best friend "L"...

"L" along with "T" have been my guides through the last years, and also my mentors and supporters, especially in the turmoil that has come up in the disaster my life became.  But sticking my head up my butt and trying to steer myself through this isn't an option, and I have stopped concentrating so much on my own petty crap and opening up to other people.   When I look at my young family members starting their next phases of life I realize more and more what the term "village" really comes down to;  family.

There is a difference between "relatives" and "family". Relatives are related by blood or marriage; family are the ones who support you when you need it most, rejoice in your joys and share your sorrows, and ones you do the same for. I am honored and humbled by the scope of my family, whether they are "relatives" or "family of my heart", as so many of you have become over the years.  And with that thought comes another, which was first seeded by "L" and I am trying to embrace as part of myself.

It takes a village to support a marriage.  Every village has it's stellar examples of what life can become, and it's cautionary tales of how badly things can go if you are selfish and self centered.  It has it's leaders, it's "village idiots" and all the people in between that fill in the gaps and take up the slack to get everything done.  We all need mentors, and being ignorant and prideful won't get you to the end of the road in any shape other than BAD!  "L" told me once that the speech she would have given at the most wonderful wedding for my daughter (if anyone had asked her) would have been about just that;  that it takes a village to support a marriage, and the village their marriage will grow in and be supported by was attending that evening;  all those "family" members who gathered to witness and rejoice in the joining of families, the extension and growth of their "village".  That is the group that will support through good times and bad... the "cautionary tales", "stellar examples", "village idiots" and just ordinary people who get things done... and love them both because they are "family".  

I realize at the end of the day that pride, arrogance and ignorance were no excuse for some of the ways I did things, and at the end of the day I did end up somewhere "bad", but where I go from here will be different in a few ways.  I am open to understanding how I have been selfish, and hoping that I can and will change that part of myself through constant vigilance.  As well as the help of my own personal "village"...  those people who, through blood, marriage or love have decided that I am worth having as a member of their own "village".  And to them I will do all I can to be the very best I can be.

Tuesday, November 9, 2010

The things I do at work have little to do with the job....

There are some things I do at work that have very little to do with my actual job description.  My official title is "Host", and the analogy is similar to a greeter.  I stand at the door, with my store uniform on, smile at customers, make change for the shopping carts, hand out current flyers, show them coupons, point out where the washrooms are, and direct them to store services, particular items, or call for assistance over the PA system.  I also sweep or mop the floors, make notes in the daily journal, and write down when I take my breaks.  I keep the carpets in the doorway from "migrating north with the geese" and jamming under the automatic doors, and when the doors get bumped off their hinges I put them back where they belong.

But there are a lot of other things I do at work that have more to do with what needs to be done than what the job description is.

I have called "Code Adam" and locked the doors when a child has gone missing.  I have called for a wheel chair for a customer who was unable to walk.  I have cleaned up vomit, broken glass, spilled coffee, snow, rain, blueberries, rotten fish guts and even a partially eviscerated rat!  I have chased trapped birds out of the vestibule before they break their necks on the windows.  I call for first aid when a child is injured or someone trips on the stairs.  I stop customers from bringing their small pets into the store ( I always feel like the Wicked Witch of the West when I have to heave out puppies), I help customers retrieve their coins from the carts, when they have been "glued" in the coin slot, by tapping on the top of the mechanism with a hammer until the coin vibrates far enough to pop out!  I unjam the shopping carts for young mothers with babies in their arms and for old folk with arthritis. I wash those green baskets that get piled in the hallway so they no longer stink of Feta Cheese, or yoghurt, or fish, or have a skin of combined coffee grounds, dirt and olive pits in them.  I call the manager or the Loss Prevention Officer if customers complain about aggressive panhandlers.  I find a chair for the volunteer with the poppy tray and show them the warmest spot in the entry.  And I smile. 

I have slipped outside for a few seconds at sundown to watch the sky, or walked across the front of the building just to get some air.  I take my break covering the door to stay on watch.  And I don't mind.  There is always someone to chat with, someone who has shared their moments with me; the family who has a member who is battling cancer, or who has lost the battle;  those like me who are working through the breakdown of their family and need to talk to someone; some come to flirt, some to joke, and some are just lonely and want a connection for a few moments.  Many pat me on a shoulder, or hug me, or smile and remember my name, because I make them feel welcome and comfortable.  Someone once told me "when you do nice things for people they do nice things back" and I am finding that to be true.  And so I smile.

I can tell you where the bamboo skewers are, where to find the pepper jelly, what aisle the Christmas stuff is in, and where the blankets are.  I smile endlessly and treat each customer like they are respected and welcome... because to me they are.  Just like I know that my colleagues will have my back if I need to call for assistance, I know that I will jump when they call me.  I consider this;  if that old lady was my little Mommy I would want her to be treated with respect, so I treat this precious person with the respect due them.  If my niece had their arms full of their precious bundle I would want there to be someone there to help them, so I help this young parent with their cart.

They come for their groceries, their family portraits, trips to the clinic and prescriptions at the drugstore.  They buy their car insurance, their glasses, a slice of hot pizza from the deli, or a free chocolate chip cookie at the bakery.  I see neighbours, friends and relatives at work on a daily basis.  Some I have known since childhood, and some are new friends from the last year.  I watch when a young couple comes in first with a telltale "baby bump", progresses to holding a newborn, and allows me to coo at their new addition and smile...

And if I give out 3 smiles freely and receive one back that's a pretty good return on my investment... at least I think it is. 

Sunday, November 7, 2010

They also serve who only stand and wait....

I know it's early, but this day is on my mind.  Remembrance Day.  That day we would look forward to every year in school as a day off...  How we made poppies from construction paper to hang on school bulletin boards, and memorized "In Flanders Fields".  But as I grow older and open my eyes a bit more I am seeing another facet to the day so many of us take for granted.  It is a day when honor, courage and faith need to be recognized.  Not just for soldiers.  Remembrance of those who have given everything for a cause.

I remember my Father talking about his term in the Merchant Marine during WWII.  It was during the bombing of Liverpool in England, and he was on layover waiting for his trip home.  He talked of taking shelter during the air strikes, and how devastating the aftermath of those strikes was.  He told us about helping out after a bombing by taking the bodies of small children to a "dead wagon" after the orphanage they were in was hit.  He told us in lurid and graphic detail how it smelled, what he saw and how he felt.  How he vomited from the sights;  how he stepped back to continue when he was done puking his guts out.  And how he got drunk for a week afterward to forget.  It was during that "lost week" that Dad got most of his tattoos.  The naked lady on his arm that "danced" when he moved his fingers; the rose with the banner "Mother"; the clipper ship under full sail; and the vulture...  By the time we were born those tattoos had begun to fade, and by the end of his life they were just blue-black smudges and only our memories supplied the shapes they once were.

Dad used to say to us "they also serve who only stand and wait" and it wasn't until recently that I truly understood what he meant.  There are those who gave their all for freedom.  Not the soldiers, although they gave us the ultimate sacrifice when they gave their lives for our futures, but the ones who watched them go.  The ones who stand and wait for their loved ones to come back.  Families.  Mothers and Fathers, Wives, Sisters, Brothers, Sons and Daughters.  Those who's hearts travel with those who served, and with those who continue to serve.  They have allowed us to have the future, and have given their futures for our comfort and freedom.  They are our unsung heroes, the front line of courage, those who have shaped our soldiers to be what they have become, and given freely to allow those who serve to do so with honor, courage and faith.  Now, when I have dear friends with family who serves our country, I have begun to understand the toll such courage takes, and how it can shape the lives of those who wait at home while their loved ones volunteer to serve.

In our country we live in paradise;  we have food, shelter, clothing and a high standard of living; clean water, good roads, readily available medical care;  we have political and religious freedom.  We have the right to go to the schools we choose, work the jobs we choose, marry who we choose, and live where we choose.  We live in the most amazing and beautiful place, and there are so many others who do not.  It's not because of luck;  it is because of the sacrifices of those who fought to give us those things and allow us to have our freedom.

So once again on Remembrance Day I will stand on the Eleventh Hour of the Eleventh Day of the Eleventh Month in a moment of silence.  And I will honor in my heart not only those who served, but also those who stand and wait.

Friday, November 5, 2010

Going on an adventure....

That phrase used to strike terror into the hearts of my children... "Oh, we're going on an adventure.... " translates as "Oh, God!.... Mom's lost again"....  There were many times when I would load them up to go to somewhere I had never been, trying to use outdated maps or poorly remembered directions (being totally truthful about that may make me look arrogant and stupid, but there have been MANY times....), looking for a field or a park, going to a new friend's house, a movie theater or a party location, driving through subdivisions and back roads where the maps hadn't been updated yet and "google maps" hadn't been invented!  Maybe we were loaded with extra kids, or one dog or another (sometimes even a cat!), maybe snacks and maybe not.  All times of the year, could have been any time of day - you get the drift.  Totally disorganized, haphazard and emotionally unsettled.  Quite literally WITHOUT A PLAN!  "We're going on an adventure"... was my way of saying I was lost and unsure without actually saying it.  But they knew.

So on a sunny afternoon with a mini van loaded with my (growing) dog pack I decided to drive myself somewhere I hadn't been in a while.  And it was an "adventure"...  New construction, road work, new lights, overpasses that never existed before.. it all added up to a change in the landscape of my memory!  Turning left and right, right and left, driving down new subdivision roadways loaded with worker's trucks and covered in mud...Missing the turn and making a detour...  Driving and driving, thinking perhaps I had misremembered the last turnings, only to realize I was on the right road after all.  Huge sigh of relief from me, and no complaints from the peanut gallery on the floor!  Yay!  After a too brief, but very easy, walk through the peace and beauty of the last sunny day of Autumn I came to a few conclusions about myself.  My life has always been an "adventure".  I have been arrogant and stupid, trying to find a place I have never been, without a map, not asking for the right directions, and not thinking about the fears of the passengers that were on the path with me.  Even though I managed to muddle along through those times, and I thought it was funny in an ironic way, my kids never enjoyed it, but felt I wasn't listening to them so they would not voice their fears.

So here I am.  New life.  No map.  Asking for directions for the first time.  And finding out what was missing through trial and error.  Two things spring to mind;  compassion, and patience.  Compassion for those who traveled with me.  Compassion for myself, so I can keep getting up after I slip in the mud.  Compassion for those I meet briefly on the journey.  And patience... most of all, patience.   Finding my authentic self is a messy job.  There is a lot of garbage to wade through first;  self pity, selfishness, low self esteem, arrogance, ego, jealousy.  I realize that I never understood the difference between fighting for something and aggression. That is the most important map of all, and I'm looking for it and asking directions from those who have it.  Like cleaning up the mess in my home, a little bit every day seems to work better and is much less overwhelming than trying to heave it out all at once and make the job too big to accomplish. 

I have been told that cementing new behaviours takes at least three months of practice.  It's a big "do-it-yourself" project.  Does anyone know where I can get that much cement?

Wednesday, November 3, 2010

Why I don't internet date....

My Therapist - a very intelligent man - explained to me once that internet dating was filled with horror stories about bad experiences.  I know I'm not ready yet to step out into the world, but I figured it might be a place to stretch my knowledge and see what is up.... Whoa!  Not!  Talk about "bullshit meter" going off the scale!  You pop yourself onto a site and the first thing that comes up is.... hmmmm....  Nothing.  Nada.  Zip.  So I got a friend - bless her - to help me retool my profile and got...  hmmmm..... more nothing.  Until you make the first move... then it's like throwing chum in the water and fishing for sharks with a live sheep on a rope!  The real sharks are always fishing for sheep and you will find them everywhere... I even came across one on Facebook!  But I like to think of myself as a goat, and I'm not following the rest of the herd into the pool just yet.

Now I don't object to sharks, per se;  they are fun to play with as long as you throw them back before they bite!  But it's the weasels and the douchebags I can't stand... Sitting on the computer doing a search with the criteria the website sets out... age, height, body type, yearly salary... It's like a resume and cover letter for a job posting, and the art of the "best lie" seems to take effect.  You can smell "cheap liar" a mile away.  Any guy who tells you he's a diabetic,  takes you on a four hour hike, doesn't eat and doesn't ask you to lunch afterward just SCREAMS "Weasel"...  Some are honest...  and honestly NOT something I would be interested in... like the last date with the guy who had three beers for his lunch.  I did meet a few stellar gentlemen, so it wasn't all bad... but no one that clicked.

It's like hanging out in a really sleazy bar.  Suddenly you get an "IM" from some guy on the other coast... You start to read between their lies... You're the first person they have IM'd here... They're always "widowed"... bet the wife isn't cold yet.. at least not cold enough to bury!  And they have kids who still "live at home".. so I bet they wipe the history every time they get off the computer.  They are Catholic, or Christian;  athletic, and looking for a woman between the ages of 30 and 80!  Come on, guys?   Really?  You expect me to believe your lines?   And if I had another 40something IM me as "babe" one more time I think I would have puked!

They want your yahoo account... so they can "IM" faster... I bet there's a "block mechanism" for inappropriate language... Or they "don't have a credit card" so they can't email to the site... so I just tell them my kids advised me not to give my email account to strangers...  and when you go look for a profile to check up on them, lo and behold, POOF!  It's gone...

It's really very entertaining, but it takes a lot of time.  Pointing out  that you're onto them is funny!  "Aren't I a bit old for your search criteria"... "No!  Age doesn't matter".. yeah, on the internet all "cats" are the same colour, aren't they?   You see a "well educated" line, but the IM uses the worst language... can't spell and the wording sounds remarkably "not my mother tongue"...   Their photos are incredibly young for the ages they list, although in one case the guy was using a *gasp* photo of the guy who played Han Solo in StarWars... really?  "You do know I'm on the other coast, right?"... "Distance doesn't matter!"... that's because the internet puts me right in your lap.... Well, buddy!  If you're looking for "cybersex" you can pull out your .... credit card on some other website and pay for it like anyone else.  I'm not selling!  Are all women on the internet that stupid, or do they just play stupid for fun?  We can't all be so needy that we put up with that, can we? So goodbye, internet dating....  My dear friend said this to me the other day.." the wrong guy makes a good woman messy"...  I am tired of being messy.  I'm working on being the best woman I can be, then maybe I'll be ready to pair up with the right guy.

So which one of my friends is going to send me out on a blind date when I get to that point?  Not sure, but I can wait...  It's better than the other options, and I trust those matchmakers a lot more than some dating website...It's pretty simple at the end of the day;  we can do things behind closed doors that no one else knows about, but isn't the measure of a person how they act when no one else is watching?  That is the true definition of honor and integrity.  We give lip service to it sometimes, but living it every day makes us who we truly need to be.  Strong.  Moral.  Self assured.  Courageous.  And hopefully, ultimately, happy.

Monday, November 1, 2010

I hate having my picture taken...

I always feel self conscious when the camera comes out.  There is that split second between "real smile" and the flash that makes me overly aware that my face is about to be captured for posterity.  Now, with the invention of the digital camera, I can be even more uncomfortable about photos. 

The little buggers are everywhere!  On cell phones and iphones, in the hands of friends and coworkers, tiny instant digital traps, waiting for me to have my eyebrows on crooked and my hair sticking up like dandelion fluff, or for that instant just after you pop food into your mouth and your face is distorted as you widen your  jaw to chew...  The bad angle that makes my chin look double, or my head look tiny while my boobs look too big for my body.  The wrong angle, the wrong lighting, the wrong... well... EVERYTHING!  So I decided it was time I learned the true nature of the enemy and I have started taking my own frikkin' picture!

So, out comes the little camera;  I started taking pictures of my feet in new shoes.  Different heels, different styles, flat shoes, sandals, boots...  Placing the camera on the floor and taking shot after shot until I found just the right distance to get something I liked.  I know it sounds silly, and it was a bit juvenile, but I never thought my feet looked as good as the camera showed!  I figured out that if I stand in front of the bathroom mirror I can see the display on the back of the camera in the mirror and actually get a decent idea of how good - or bad - the shot is going to be!  I understand now why most "self portraits" on the internet have you holding the camera so you have to look up at it!  I guess it's all about the angle, because when I look down I admit I see lumps and bumps, saggy bits and cellulite, and I forget about all the hollows that curve in UNDER the bits that curve out.  I realized that taking a shot from the top down is way different from setting the camera on the side and literally taking a different angle. 

It's kind of a metaphor for my life.  I'm having to look at everything from a different angle, and my short sited views of what my life was are so very different from the wider views I am realizing as my life broadens and opens up.  Life is more complex, but simpler, too.  There is a lot I am still learning about, almost everything really.  It all depends on what angle I choose to take when I look at myself.  Up close I can see all the flaws, but none of the solutions, so I pull myself back a bit and the flaws are still there, but they make up what makes me unique.  If I can find one solution for one problem then I hope more will follow.  Maybe it's not so much a solution as a different way of seeing.  I keep doing the same things over and over, expecting somehow to make things different.  But that, my friends, is the definition of crazy!  After all, isn't the saying "if you want something different you have to do something you have never done before"?  I have listened all my life to other people telling me what they don't want, and I have been narrow minded and afraid, unable or unwilling to make that jump from concentrating on never doing "that" again to realizing what the other potential good things are.  I have told myself "don't" for so long that I needed permission to "do" ordinary things.  Like calling friends, hugging my children, allowing myself to be happy.

So I have given myself permission to be goofy with my camera.  It's fun.  It's silly,  It's also empowering.  And I actually like some of the photos I have taken.  The rest I can hit the "delete" button on, and they will be gone!  And trust me, there have been a LOT of those ones!