A Foolish Consistency

A foolish girl in a serious world.

Starting Anew, like a True Fool: A Lis List

Here are the top 10 things I’m looking forward to in starting my new life in Vancouver in June..

English_Bay,_Vancouver,_BC

1) Acquiring better quality stuff.When I moved to Montreal, it was by accident. I stayed here to stop the perpetual, nomadic, lifestyle I was living. I never committed to staying. So everything I bought, or spent money on, was used, or from the Dollar Store, or given to me from someone else. Surprisingly, you can end up with a vast amount of stuff without even trying. However, I’m really looking forward to buying good quality stuff for my kitchen, and acquiring furniture I like, rather than “what was free.”

 

 

2) Committing to a place.

This move to Vancouver is about commitment. I’m committed to moving there, and living there- possibly forever- but maybe only for a few years. The difference being- even though I’ve lived in Montreal for 10 years (which is longer than I lived anywhere since I moved out of my parents’ house)- I never committed to living here. I always knew I was leaving, at some point, so never tried that hard to lay down roots. I can’t wait to commit and participate, and be part of a community in a place where I have both feet in the pool.

 

 

3) Dating.

Truth be told- I never did very well in Montreal when it came to romance/love/etc. To be fair, I’ve always been awkward and somewhat shy when it came to sexy-time, but somehow in Montreal my river ran dry. There are many excuses I have blamed this on (my size, my lack of French, my being constantly surrounded by good-looking but gay men) but really all of those things were the norm before Montreal, and I’m sure there’s some good psychological reason I haven’t been able to get in the game. When I get back to the west I am determined to make up for lost time.

 

 

4) Finding new haunts.

There are 3 places I like to go for lunch near my work. Nick and I love the bakery on Wellington, and I love shopping at Branche d’Olivier. I go to the YMCA and can hit the SAQ and Chapters right afterwards. I’ve got my life mapped out in Montreal. There’s areas that I go a lot, and others not so much. Starting again in a new city (even if it’s an old one) means that I’ll get out of my comfort zone and try new things, eat new foods, and allow new influences to guide my tastes. It’s exciting to start from scratch- new hood, new restaurants, new gym, new grocery stores.

 

5) Starting new traditions & rituals.

The only traditions and rituals I have in Montreal centre around my friendship with Nick. There’s certain things we like to do together, and ways that we’ve grown together. We are the masters of the dinner party. I stay up late to catch up with him as he’s just getting home from working a dinner shift. As I get older and lacking children, I find myself hankering for some more rites. I want to do things like light candles for dinner, and embrace the existence of aperitif’s. Starting anew in a new city allows me to do such self-important things and I can’t wait!

 

 

6) Evolving my relationship with Nick.

Nick and I are the bestest of friends. We’ve never lived in different cities before and our friendship has blossomed into fake couple-dom. Friends without the benefits. Moving out on our own will change the nature of our friendship, and I think we are both hoping that it will add a new dimension as we pursue our lives without having each other so nearby. I’m looking forward to how this will manifest.

 

 

7) Changing my concept of “winter.”

Once upon a time, winter was a season of 60 days of rain. It required waterproof footwear and a jacket. It was not a time of ice and snow and below zero temperatures. I did not require toques, scarves, or winter boots. I’m excited to return to above-zero winters where rain is king, and galoshes make sense. I cant wait to wear a hoody as my winter uniform.

 

 

8) Watching my cat acclimatize to a new place.

Phyllis is one tough kitty. She was abandoned in an alley by her mother, and left to die. She was brought over to Nick and I at 5 weeks old, and has lived with us ever since. I do have a bit of guilt with transplanting her from her life here to Vancouver, but I happen to be secretly excited to watch her re-orient herself in her new home. Watching her experience snow for the first time was hilarious- I’m hoping to get as much entertainment from watching her in her new Vancouver garden-level apartment.

 

 

9) Forcing myself to be more purposeful with money.

I have been told that Vancouver isn’t just more expensive in terms of housing. Apparently it’s more expensive for everything. Groceries, transit- everything. While a bit terrifying, I’m trying to be more mindful with my money and stop wasting it on eating out, buying food that goes bad, or buying books that I never get around to reading. I am more wasteful than I should be, currently. Maybe it’s because of my perceived lack of time, coupled with my stress. I am looking forward to being more conscious with my spending, now that it will be a necessity.

 

 

10) The infinite potential of newness, with a little experience on the side.

I have this feeling that anything can happen, once I move. The potential is unlimited. I find this so exciting, especially since I have some life experience now that I didn’t have when I was younger and starting out. Really- I am so lucky to have the chance to do this. I don’t have any real commitments (children, mortgage, etc.) that prevent me from starting again. As scary as change can be, there’s also that exciting newness awaiting- the energy of the Fool. I’m excited to see how it all works out.

Home Alone and Trying not to Take things Personally

My birthday this year. Me and Nick.

My birthday this year. Me and Nick.

It’s been quite a week. A girlfriend got laid off and we commiserated at the pub. Nick flew to Victoria to find a home and employment. I am home alone for the first time in as long as I can remember. And today, after quite a hiatus, book club was supposed to meet to discuss the 2nd agreement in the 4 Agreements book: Don’t Take Anything Personally. Circumstances made it so that we couldn’t meet after all. However, since re-reading the chapter, my propensity to assuming that things are happening to me rather than just happening, made me decide to think about this a little deeper.

 

If there was ever something that I do too much; it’s take things personally (drinking fizzy water would be a close second though.) I’m trying to reconcile the fact that outcomes and events- are for the most part- not individually aimed. I could see as clear as day when Sho got laid off; the crappy way it was executed was less about her and more about superiors feeling guilty and not wanting to be direct. But throw the ball in my court and consider actions from our landlord- who told us we couldn’t get out of our lease, then proceeded to block any attempts we made at finding someone to move in, then finally he got the “lady upstairs” to take the place- all of it felt aimed at me.

 

The thing about taking things subjectively, is that we are all the star of our own movie. Everything is individual to us because it happens to us- on an emotional level. Like it or not we also have expectations. They are assumptions we make about the way we should be treated or how people should behave. When people don’t meet our expectations, it hurts. Especially when it’s those we love.

 

But what about bullying? When people are deliberately mean or forceful in order to make a person feel bad. How can it not be personal? When the cab driver pretends to not-know where we are going and takes me around Montreal so that my bill is $60- how do I not take that as an attack to me, individually?

 

Because people who are mean, or deceptive, or opportunistic are the protagonists of their own movie, too. If we were to understand them fully, we would realize that these personal-feeling interchanges are part of a long, hellish continuum that is their movie. The cab driver who takes me on a wild, expensive goose-chase is trying to make more money for his family. The bully is trying to give them self importance and control where they feel as if they have none.

 

I went through a very deep and very long depression in my late teens- early twenties. During this time I took everything personally, and life was hard. The person who takes everything personally constantly feels under attack. But how did I behave? It’s hard to know sometimes. Experience has taught me that the feeling of being attack likely made me act like a jerk.

 

A few years ago I started becoming friends with a woman we’ll call Sporty. In our first initial times getting together I found her to be considerate, kind, and fun. Over time, however, I began to notice cracks in the veneer. On my birthday we all met for Dim Sum. She did shift work so only decided to come last minute- she said she would be about half an hour. We were all hung-over and hungry. It’s all bustle at Kam Fung at 1pm on a Sunday. The minute we were seated carts of shrimp, noodles, chinese broccoli, and the like, arrived with direct motive. It’s not the kind of place you can just sit there without ordering.

 

Sporty took 45 minutes from the time that she announced that she could make it. By the time she got there, we had already eaten and were full, but there was still food left and plenty that could have been ordered. Unfortunately, she was pissed. I can tell you with certainty- she very much took it personally that we started- and finished- without her. Her behaviour was passive aggressive as she said she was really hungry but the food on the table was cold. We encouraged her to order and get her fill- this restaurant was not expensive and we were splitting amongst us- but she refused.

 

My dominant memory of that meal was of trying to deal with Sporty and her attitude on my birthday. To be honest, after enduring her for several hours, I couldn’t wait to part ways. In the end, behaviour like that ended our friendship- at least from my point of view. I seemingly managed to do something else wrong, and at this I am only guessing. I invited her to do a couple of things and she declined all invitations. I never invited her again, and no invitations came from her. Enough time has passed for me to safely call her a former-friend.

 

So I bring up Sporty to remind myself that “taking things too personally” can make you- the perceived victim- no fun at all. I don’t want to be around people whom I feel I have to walk on eggshells around, and I really don’t want to be “no-fun zone.”

 

So today when I tried to do my taxes, and the Revenue Canada site was down, I did not take things personally. When book club got cancelled, I did not take it to heart. The fact that I’m alone today facing my move in all its epic-ness- well, I’m proud of myself. This was all my idea, after all.

When in Doubt, Participate Anyway

TORONTO CABANE A SUCRE 059

The snows are melting away and leaving trails of garbage, once hidden in the crunchy, white, coldness. The Cabane a Sucre’s are dusting off their menu’s and opening their cans of maple syrup over sliced hotdogs. Today, citizens of all walks of life will meander to schools, churches and community centres to cast their votes. Today is election day for the Province of Quebec.

 

It feels strange to cast a vote in a place you are leaving. I almost feel guilty for it. There has always been a tension for me and voting in the provincial elections seeing as I never planned on staying, and I don’t speak the language very well.

 

I’m in the linguistic minority. It changed my values, and my experience of Montreal. I came from a political family where politics were a part of everything we did. I had my political “awakening” at the Battle of Seattle in 1999. Politics became a part of everything I did for the next few years.

 

Everything changed when I moved to Quebec.

 

Despite my best intensions, my French never got good enough to listen to a debate or read pamphlets. I’d go to feminist marches, or indigenous rights symposiums, but began to notice separatists, or militant activists with dubious platforms amongst the rabble. I was plagued with the question:

 

What’s going on?

 

It was the same question I would ask when I was at the health clinic, or getting my license renewed. The same confusion. The same nervousness. It took the breath out of my fight and made me step back and re-evaluate. I couldn’t fight if I didn’t know anymore what I was fighting for. Or whom I was fighting with.

 

I am a believer in voting for the party that you think would do the best job. I told someone recently that I don’t do fear-based voting- the kind of voting that you do against a party rather than for it. It became a heated discussion because, around here, there is always the looming threat of separation.

 

I don’t think we can ever move forward if we vote with fear. Fear keeps us stuck with the same parties and platforms. Fear keeps us where we are.

 

That said, the process of democracy is about popularity. Popular ideas; common enemies; aligned objectives. You can get some momentum with some bad ideas. I cast my vote today for a party that I normally would never vote for. It just so happened that their party line reflected more of my beliefs in an array of choices where the majority don’t at all. My beliefs have changed since living here as an Anglophone. Part of the minority. The party I voted for definitely won’t win.

 

It makes me wonder if, when I go back to BC, I will carry this political uncertainty with me? I’ve become less of a political person because of the passionate political scene here. The high emotion, the fear, the anger that comes with the electoral process- I find it exhausting. Yet I strongly believe in participating in the election- as a citizen. If I can leave the people of Quebec one small thing, it’s my ballot, which I cast in all integrity. After ten years, I at least owe them that.

I am 37 and Shiva Dances on Fools

Seb took this photo.

Me getting my first lap dance and taking it like a fool.

Last Saturday I had the pleasure of having nothing to do but wake up, socialize with my brother, and get dolled up. I made my way over to my friend Seb’s house where a party to celebrate my birthday was getting underway. There was all kinds of alcohol, a bunch of my friends, a long-lost cousin, and Sandy- the cutest dog in the world. There was also a stripper who started out as a “cop” investigating a noise complaint. It was a pretty substantial and magical birthday party. I ended up drinking too much, and then spent most of Sunday recovering with a lazy brunch and nap. There had been a blizzard overnight, so it only made sense to kick it up lazy-Montreal style.

 

On April 1st, my actual birthday, I took the day off and planned to have just a dinner with friends. Nick and I went shopping to buy him a suit at Simons. We had coffee, then a fabulous lunch at Mesa 14. On the way home, I got a phone call from work. It was my assistant.

 

“Eli, I called you because it turned out that there was a fraudulent order..”

 

He started this way and then regaled me of the tale of what had happened. My company was out a significant amount of money from the fraudulent order I processed. At first it didn’t bother me, but then, like a virus, the anxiousness set in. Will I be blamed? How will this affect my commissions? Will I look bad?

 

Shortly after that, the candidate we had found for our apartment let Nick know that our landlord had told her he had somebody else. I got more stressed even though Nick kept telling me that it let us off the hook for getting someone. It was if my stress was looking for more things to be stressed about.

 

I took off April 2nd too, with dreams of writing more posts about all the awesome things that I was going to do in April. I was unable to write, or do much besides stew in my own dread. Plus I didn’t want to write yet another post about how I was full of anxiety. But there I was, simply coping, being crazy and watching shows.

 

My week hit these intense notes while I entered my 37th year. Over March as my stress increased, my healthy food intake decreased. My posts decreased. My wine intake shot up. I stopped juicing. I started missing some gym days. But the really weird thing is: I stopped planning.

 

I haven’t thought about my core desired feelings, or my meal plan, or anything like that in quite a while. I’ve been swimming through the fog of stress, unable to commit to a plan. Anyone who knows me, knows that I’m a big nerd for my agenda. I absolutely LOVE planning, almost as much as I love writing, and it brings me extreme pleasure to schedule things, or reschedule things or use a highlighter and post-it notes inside. I don’t plan my life so that nothing can be spontaneous; I plan my life to allow for ANYTHING to happen. There’s room for everything, and everyone who is important to me.

 

I haven’t looked in my agenda in a good month. I haven’t been filling it with gym days or or lucky days or period days or anything.

 

So what came first? The uneasiness or the lack of planning? Are they interconnected?

 

Yesterday, my friend Sho took me to a yoga with Bram Levinson, who teaches kick-ass yoga classes. Each class is vigorous, but what is really remarkable are his talks. He doesn’t get all “yogi” in them and really gives you practical real-world meditations. We were learning about Hindu deities and myths and their corresponding poses. A big theme was the feminine and masculine dualities, and how both are always present in the hindu myths. Then we went into the yoga- trying poses that arose from the different myths we had just studied. Sho and I were both respectively on edge after our week. When he displayed the picture of Shiva dancing, it was especially meaningful to us. Shiva is depicted as dancing on top of a dwarf. The dwarf is supposed to symbolize the trivial things in life.

shiva

We talked at great length about this afterward. Both of us suffer from angst that grabs a hold of us so tight it feels like we are being dragged behind a car.

 

“Have you ever heard of the belly-brain?” Sho asked me.

 

“I think so, somewhere, but maybe not.” I sort-of answered.

 

You see, I’ve got cursory knowledge of the tummy and how it is the seat of emotion. In acting we were always taught to find our emotions in our stomach. Also, I’m highly interested in Ayurveda and have done some chakra work. But I’d never really heard of the belly brain.

 

“They’ve scientifically proven that there are neurons in your stomach that not only get messages from your brain, but that they send them too.”

 

Your stomach is the seat of the emotions, or the “feminine” energy. Your mind is the masculine. Extreme anxiety is felt there in the belly brain. But maybe instead of conquering anxiety, or band-aiding it with binge watching TV shows- maybe we should be listening to it.

 

There was nothing I could do about the fraud-call I got, but maybe I did the wrong thing by trying to forget about it, or obliterate the anxious feeling. Maybe the anxiety was my body saying:

 

“Pay attention to this. Get right with it. Stop and take care of yourself.”

 

I did quite the opposite when the anxiety started coming, about a month and half ago. I wanted the anxiety gone, and tried to cure it with action, wine, herbs, and food.

 

I’m turning the corner on this uncertainty. After some moments of petrified inaction, I’m ready to move forward. So ready that I bought my plane ticket today. I’m ready to spend a couple of hours planning. My dance card is already filling up for June and I’ve got stuff to do every weekend- in BC.

 

As I work my way out of this teeth-grinding, jaw-tightened, scared-shitless state, the one thing I’ve decided to decide is that I’m not going to act like the disquiet doesn’t need to be there. I am going to thank my anxiety, and pretend she is my worry-wart mother, just making sure that I’m ok. I will even thank her.

 

So we are back to planning, perhaps not so much and not so rigidly for now, seeing as I am moving across the country and all. We are back to seeking impeccability with our words, book clubs, 3 days at the gym, and taking better care. I’m 37 now. Practically a grown up.

 

Now is STILL the Winter of our Discontent

After my Sunday of doing-nothing-but-nursing-an-anxiety-attack, I was ready to turn things around on Monday.

I never wanted to have an easy, comfortable life.

I had to remind myself of this, even though I was still a little stressed over having no one to take our apartment.

I want to have A Life. Not an easy-peasy life, but a challenging, rewarding, crazy, unexpected, joyful, interesting life.

Believe it or not, this thought really helped me as I started to make a Craigslist ad, and focus on the task at hand, after returning home from a busy day at work. I felt like I had gotten my stamina back. I was ready to DO this. Nick brought in the mail and told me that there was something for me from the Ministry of Justice and Corrections of Quebec. Not really a letter anyone wants to find addressed to them. I’ve been called for jury duty with only two months left of residing here.

Nick and I went out for dinner and  wine as we mentally prepared ourselves to deal with a week of showing the apartment. We are both getting anxieties. He told me about how he psyches himself out about his fear of death, and will find signs and evidence that he has a disease, or has premonitions that  make it increasingly hard to sleep. He doesn’t worry about day to day stuff, like I do. I got him to listen to a talk about death, by Abraham-Hicks. Nick knows I’m into this Law of Attraction stuff, but he’s never listened to it. He’s very skeptical.

“There are times that she is circle-talking,” he says.

“But it doesn’t matter if it’s real or not,” I say.

“Doesn’t it?”

“The point is that it makes me feel better.”

I’m starting to even doubt the things I turn to to get me out of doubt.

On Tuesday Nick let me know, in one distracted phone call, that an exterminator would be setting traps in our apartment. March is end-of-quarter. An extremely busy month in my industry. There are no moments to read Huffington Post, or answer personal emails, or even to take lunch breaks during the crazy sales frenzy. But I was managing the Craigslist thing, while texting or emailing the responses-en francais- to Nick. I was a little worse-for-wear having indulged in too much wine and too little sleep.

“Why do we need an exterminator?”

“There are mice upstairs.”

“Where?”

“I don’t know, around the house I guess.”

“Where are they setting the traps? What about the cats?!”

My anxiety started to rise. Since I am trying to be impeccable with my word, I won’t describe my feelings about my landlord. In the past, he has come into our house and left a trail of insulation and rat poison packets all over the floor with our cats indoors. Somewhere within visions of my poisoned cats, and the idea of mice hotels, Nick kicked it up a notch while I was haphazardly processing a PO and typing an email simultaneously. The landlord would also be showing the apartment to “the lady upstairs.”

Visions of my unmade bed, dirty underwear, and tax papers askew ran through my head. The thought of the “lady” upstairs peering into my book titles and nail-polish colours bothered me. I do not have impeccable thoughts about her either. Nick and I have forged a bit of a friendship with her three kids, but the truth is, I didn’t necessarily ever want their mother in my home.

My anxiousness started to double over on itself and my interactions with people got terser and worser. Incidents occurred and I had to get to the gym to do my penance for missing Sunday. The entire time I wondered if I would either die of anxiety or burst into tears. I felt broken by the time I got home. Exhausted from the high RPM of the day, only to notice that someone had taken all the stuff out of my closet (clothing, shoes, my fan for summer) and moved it onto my bed.

clothes on bed make Elisabeth go CRAZY.

clothes on bed make Elisabeth go CRAZY.

Enter my shadow.

In a moment of rage, and imagining my ______ landlord going through my stuff; I write an accusatory asking him to “provide an explanation on why he’s going through my stuff.” I CC Nick to keep myself from saying anything threatening or “Ministry-of-Corrections-worthy.” In the subject line I write: Please Explain.

Nick writes back to let me know it was the exterminator, who had to put traps in remote locations like my closet. It all made sense. In my fit of anxiety, I had been ready to take down anyone. I was vibrating with fight. As I began to feel less violated, I realized that I would have to apologize to my landlord. And I did, even though I don’t really like him.

By Wednesday, I felt a little embarrassed and exposed by the appearance of my shadow the night before. I sheepishly extracted more information from my boss about my move. It’s all on track but somehow doesn’t feel like it. I had no idea how to lighten up. Then I tried to call in and get my new access card to my new ING account going only to be told that I need signatures by a professional, like a lawyer or doctor, to get access to my money.

Bad credit strikes again. My shadow came back for another round of unbridled fear and anger as I my face ran hot. They weren’t letting me have access to my own money! I felt humiliated and angry, and definitely was not impeccable with my word.

In retaliation, I tried to buy my ticket out west, something that I knew would feel good. A definite move. But because I’ll be taking Phyllis with me, I had to call in to book the ticket instead of doing it online. I was on hold for 20 minutes with Air Canada before I hung up. There were cancellations because of storms across Canada. I wouldn’t get through anytime soon.

When I get home from the gym, Nick had made me a fabulous green-bean, feta, walnut salad and noodle casserole. I love coming home to dinner, and Nick. Everything felt ok for a moment until I realized that Phyllis has an eye infection.

I told my friend the other day that I was tired of writing posts about my anxiety. BOR-ING. I want to write savvy posts about new things I’m doing, or trying, or about how I’m so zen about moving across the country. I want to be evolved and cool, like Gloria Steinem, who is an idol of mine, and is on my mind because it happened to be her birthday yesterday. I want to be relevant, and contribute. Potent. Abundant. Interconnected. Magnificent. Bright.

Sigh. I’m just not there yet. Instead I pace around the house listening to lectures on Youtube. I try to get right with the sharp, intensity of emotion that I feel as I stress-eat rye crackers with brewers yeast and olive oil on top. It’s good- I swear. I haven’t been as impeccable with my word as I hoped I could be nor have I rocked any goal or project or way of being. This “changing your life” thing is uncomfortable and I’d hoped I’d be better at it. Yesterday Phyllis’s eye looked better and Nick told me that we might have someone to take our place, but I’m still on edge.

All I got right now is hope. Hope that the apartment thing will work out, that Phyllis is ok, that moving will work out, that winter will eventually go away. Just need to keep reminding myself:

I want to have A Life. Not an easy-peasy life, but a challenging, rewarding, crazy, unexpected, joyful, interesting life.

Despite it all, that’s exactly what I’ve got.

 

Skipping the Gym & Lightening Up

Phyllis says: Lighten up, Fool!

Phyllis says: Lighten up, Fool!

I slept in today because I planned to. Even after I woke up naturally, I coaxed myself into shutting my eyes again. When I sleep in, I milk it for as long as possible. I finally woke up around 11am. Nick had already gone to work. I watched the latest episode of Nashville. Guilty pleasure. Nick would definitely not approve. He wouldn’t approve of the show itself, and he wouldn’t approve of watching shows in the middle of the day.

The sun hit the snow in the backyard, making it fluorescent white. For some reason it made me want to stay in. All the barren plants were waving in the wind. I’ve been so tired of winter. I was supposed to go to the gym today. I even changed into my gym clothes. Then I watched the latest episode of Girls. I further procrastinated by peeking under the table cloth where Phyllis likes to hide-out on one of the kitchen chairs. I petted her and she grabbed my hand with her two paws. Phyllis was my idol today. It was then that decided to skip the gym. Not because I don’t have the energy- I could totally do it. It was because I’ve felt like I’ve been on a treadmill for the last couple of weeks. I needed space from obligations. I needed today.

I’m doing my best not to feel guilty. If you are going to play hooky, you may as well enjoy it. But the guilt is hanging out like loitering teens at 7-11.

I want to do more, watch less. Today, I was unable to make myself do anything. But maybe my addiction to planning and productivity is getting the best of me. Sunday is supposed to be the “day of rest,” after all. In my book club we talked about what we needed to do to get closer to our core desired feelings- I recognized that I need to lighten up.

I don’t want to look back on my life and see a list of completed tasks, a string of television shows, or a sea of anxiety. The impending move, and all the tasks associated with it have thrown me off kilter. A day of rest is definitely in order as I start this journey of deconstructing my life. People move across the country all the time and handle it with aplomb. Why am I so anxious? Why am I constantly trying to hide from the magnitude that I have psychologically built up around everything? I miss my dumb youth, when I wasn’t as scared to make mistakes. Now I’m plagued with an overall belief that I need to get things right.

Right after I write this, Nick calls to tell me that the people who were going to take the apartment have decided not to. They got a better offer. I’m mad at myself because I didn’t have the forms ready for our open-house. If they were signed, these people wouldn’t be able to change their minds. I’m anxious again. I feel immoveable.

But in the spirit of lightening up, I’m not going to panic. I can talk myself out of this quagmire. Nick and I will figure this out, and find someone to take our place. I will make it to the gym all the times I planned to this week. I will eat healthily and get plenty of rest. I will find ways to trust life, and to laugh, and roll with the punches. Moving across the country cannot be an excuse for stressing out. And really, nothing all that bad has happened here. I took a luxury day and some people changed their mind. Some people would even call me lucky.

How you spend your days is how you spend your life.- Annie Dillard

Fools for Love: Women and Bad Man Choices

Over a year ago, a woman we’ll call Karen (because she looked a lot like Karen from The Office) started working alongside me. She was a beauty and we work in a male-dominated industry. It wasn’t long before there were several male colleagues hanging around our desks for no apparent reason. Co-workers would make up excuses to come talk to her. Many of them had never before ventured to my row of cubicles, which was close to the wall. They had no business needs from anyone on my team. But there was steady traffic of them. They’d start up conversations about hockey teams, or offer “help.” Dudes who had never before spoken to me, asked me questions about her: What was she hired for? What is her name? How long has she worked here? Was she married? (she was).  It didn’t matter if they were twice her age or 10 years younger, or married with children, same behavior. None of their efforts seemed marred by the idea that gorgeous women often have a pantheon of men ready to offer them the world, and that there was ample competition. She could have her pick of the litter; and not one guy seemed to care that they didn’t have a fighting chance.

 

I’ve always wanted to be that girl, but after sitting next to her, any jealous tendencies were quickly squelched. It sucked for her. Conversation was clearly a preamble to whatever dirty idea they had in their mind. None of them was listening to a word she said. She knew it. I knew it.

 

The thing about Karen was that she knew she had that power, but that’s the only power she knew she had. She was smart and capable, but none of those guys cared about that, or treated her as such. So she relied more on her aesthetic than her work. She once told me that I was the first person that ever called her “intelligent.”

 

A few nights ago I spoke to one of my amazing girlfriends who’s traveled the world and lived on several different continents. She’s put herself through school, paid it off, and gone back to school to teach at-risk kids. She is also super-hot. Karen-hot. But she has one big Achilles Heel. Her self-worth is highly affected by whether or not she has a man. A break-up a while back hit her pretty hard. Instead of deciding that this dude wronged her (because he did), she’s been plagued with the idea that she did something wrong to lose him. Since he moved on to another chica, she has been trying to date as many dudes as possible and then is further hurt when it doesn’t work out. Her solution to self-empowerment is to lose weight and get in better shape. Sound familiar?

 

I asked Nick, “WHY is she so distracted by guys? She’s so amazing, why doesn’t she just do her thing and wait for them to come to her? There is nothing wrong with her!”

 

Women are like that. YOU were like that with Yoga-Guy.”

 

Ahh yes. Best friends are best friends because they remind you what you’d like to quickly forget. BUSTED. Are women really “like that?” I want to scream NO but there’s definitely something up with us. Some women (myself included) have fallen prey to this debilitating addiction. The question remains why a bunch of office guys are confident enough to chase around a girl like Karen, while amazingly capable and interesting women are consumed with finding “someone.” And when I say “someone” I mean settling for dudes that aren’t interested in them, guys that aren’t that capable or amazing, or at worst: that are just plain jerks.

 

I think it has a lot to do with self-worth and personal power. My parents never raised me to count on being married or care about being in a couple. They raised me to be an independent woman- so I can’t really blame them. Naturally a lot of us do want to settle down, shack up. It’s natural to want to be close to someone. I- for the longest time- thought that there was something wrong with me because I couldn’t make dudes fall in love with me. I thought that women like Karen had gotten it right. I was nothing if I couldn’t be hot.

 

I devalued my gifts. Seeing firsthand the way girls like Karen get treated made me think that I was missing something (free drinks, offers of “help.”) Except that with Karen, I got to witness how little these dudes valued who she actually was, or the fact that she was married. Also, I didn’t tend to notice all the other guys who were not crowded around her desk. Most of my male colleagues weren’t hovering in my row. They were working as they always do, to no fanfare or parading by our cubicles. The guys at Karen’s desk were a handful out of many, and I was judging dudes based on this sample because they were putting on the biggest show.

 

Some of us ladies are using guys, and the drama surrounding dating, as a crutch so that we don’t have to do the work on ourselves. It’s easy to think that the ones with the most audacity represent them all. But they are just the ones we choose to see. We’ll do anything not to face our demons. We’d rather criticize our looks and try to lose weight than try to be whole on our own. It seems more controllable that way. We turn it into a race against time, and against each other. We want quantifiable results (I want to be a Karen!) rather than esoteric philosophy (who am I?) The terror of being alone leads us to some pretty bad choices. Choices that distract us from our dream careers. Choices that make us put aside our projects. Choices that make us smaller and smaller and hide our potential from the world.

 

Fortunately, more and more of us are talking about it. More and more of us are getting dumped by the dude who wasn’t into us anyway and are being left with no choice but to do the hard work. But we, unlike our mothers, have the internet. We have different voices than we’d get from, say, Cosmo, or Ladies Home Journal.

 

It almost makes me want to write Yoga-Guy an email to say “thank you for dumping me.” Except that the past remains in the past and YG doesn’t deserve the credit. We ladies need to learn to focus on ourselves and take credit where credit is due.

Be Impeccable with your Word

For our self-help book club, my friends and I are reading The Four Agreements by Don Miguel Ruiz. I’ve actually already read the book before but since the lessons were so profound I was excited when my girlfriend suggested it as our next book. This week we went through the first agreement:

Be impeccable with your word.

I’m proud to say that it’s become easier and easier to practise this agreement in terms of my self. When you are impeccable (as the book explains) you are without sin. So I agree to spread only positivity with my word. As Ruiz explains, your word is magic, and it can either be black magic or white magic. Beautiful. Profound. I’m learning to practise white magic on myself.

Where this is problematic (for me) is with other people. Like a family member who I’ve been trying hard to forgive. I have had a hard time accepting the state of our relationship. Today I got an infuriating email from him inviting me to his birthday. He wasn’t doing anything wrong per se- the damage was done long ago. But how do I practise this first agreement when he causes such a reaction in me? How can you be “impeccable” with your word when all you feel is anger and hurt? And should I go to his birthday party when this is what I feel? There’s a similar reaction when I see all of the election signs for Pauline Marois and the Parti Quebecois. I find her and the PQ infuriatingly racist.

Don Miguel Ruiz says that gossiping or spreading (black) magic essentially will only hurt myself. That’s what I learned about forgiveness. It’s more like letting go of poison that you are carrying. You need to forgive stupid people for doing the stupid things they do, in the same manner that you would like to be forgiven. I get this. But it’s not easy.

This week I’m going to try to practise being impeccable with my word. I’m going to try to be defiantly positive to myself and to others, which sounds kind of funny as I write it- I’m not in the best of moods. I do know the world could use a little positivity right now- as the polar vortex touches down yet again for another kick at the can. Anyway- what have I got to lose?

Is it Foolish to Avoid Facebook?

Almost a year ago I did a search for “blogging lessons” or something like that in Google. I had been flirting with the idea of blogging for years. I stopped and started. I talked about it to my friends, who all nodded and smiled, and likely thought “just do it already!” I bought WordPress for Dummies. You get the picture. I did everything but actually make myself commit to an idea and start writing! Fortunately I went for my first tarot reading ever, and it was such an amazing experience that I managed to nail down the topic of my blog, as well as gain understanding on why I had spent the last 9 years in Montreal.

I forgot about that Google search until yesterday, when the mailing list that I had signed up for emailed me that this coveted online course was coming up. While I’ve started a blog, I haven’t made it sexy yet. It takes me an excruciatingly long time to learn interfaces, even the “intuitive” ones. So I was excited to finally have pointers and a workshop coming, all for the low price of $150. Writing and wine always seem like worthy indulgences.

I began marking dates in my calendar- both the course date and the “registration opens date.” I learned my lesson after missing the pre-registration for my favourite festival by only marking in the “tickets go on sale date” in my day-planner like an amateur. My day planner gets pulled out several times a day as I shift things around and visualize all of the things I can do, or get done with my time. Planning makes me feel POTENT, ABUNDANT, and MAGNIFICENT. I feel more confident and content with a plan, even if I don’t execute on it. It’s how I get through life.

Sometimes, however, I get a little too excited pouring over planning and forget there’s more to plans than planning. There has to be room for life to happen. Or in this case, I needed to read a little further to see what exactly I was planning. It turns out that the course is given solely on Facebook.

I’m not on Facebook. I’ve proactively avoided Facebook all these years. I’ve missed out on “friending,” “liking,” relationship status, and Farmville or Candy-whatever all these years and been fine with it. Arguably, I’m better for it. My real-life social network remains intact and is thriving. Sure there are people from the past that I’d love to see again or get back in touch with. Moreover, I’m happy about all the people in my past that I was able to leave in early chapters of my story. I planned to ride the wave of social media and get on some platforms post-Facebook “sometime in the future.”

But now I have a blog. I planned it, but I didn’t plan all the fallout of having it. I want it to be a good blog- better than it is now. I want lots of readers, guest contributors, and to one day show up at a restaurant and say “hi, do you mind if I interview you for my blog?” and then the proprietors bring out some older-than-I-can-afford bottle of chilled Sauvignon Blanc while I’m seated out on the outdoor terrace in the sunshine. But you can’t plan out those moments- they happen in real-time, organically, which is why they kick so much ass. Maybe I need Facebook to realize my blogging dreams?

But maybe I don’t.

There’s not a day that has gone by where I’ve regretted the fact that I’m not on Facebook. Even my activist brother has succumbed to it’s charms. My best friend and I are holding out- but he’s given me notice that he’ll be opening an account soon- when he moves to Victoria.

What do I do? One of my friends says that Facebook is old news. No one’s using it anymore. It’s on its way out. I vacillate between being mad at the blogging course for forcing my hand, and then rethinking my entire stand on FB. Is FB the future or the past? Can I have a successful blog without it?

The jury is still out. I have until June 1st (registration day, and also the day I move to Vancouver) to figure this out. I’ve decided I’m not joining until I feel good about it and I’m not there yet. If anyone has advice, I’d love to get your perspective!

Walmart Anxiety Attack on a Sunday Afternoon

I went to Walmart today. I try to avoid shopping there at all times. I’m much more into Canadian Tire, but I went there the other day to look for bins to ship my stuff, and couldn’t find any. The only other place I could think of to get them was Walmart, but there are no Walmart’s conveniently placed in the city. You have to be a car-driver to find them, and so I started a 3-week long procrastination pattern of picking a day to go and then not going- for some excuse or other.

Filling up those bins and sending stuff to Vancouver is one of my monthly goals, you see. It’s a fundamental step forward. It makes this move real. But going to Walmart is a lame and insignificant task- seemingly easy. You find out how big the bin can be, you go to Walmart, pick out your Rubbermaid container, then come home with it, right?

Let me walk you through what it was really like.

I got up only realize that we “sprang forward” and I was already an hour late. I won’t get everything I need to get done today, I thought. I don’t even know what to post when I write for my blog. But another voice came in and said: You have to get those bins today or else you this will drag on forever. You have to!

I showered, made a breakfast sandwich, and lamented the lack of non-promotional emails in my inbox. I watched a Youtube video, stared at the weekend’s dishes that were abandoned by both Nick and I, and mustered up some “I’ll deal with this when I get home” bullshit as a coping mechanism.

Then I worried about money, seeing as in order to feel POTENT, and MAGNIFICENT, and ABUNDANT- I decided to just go ahead and make an appointment for a trim and colour at a salon that I’ve never been to but that books appointments online. While spending money on myself can feel amazing, sometimes I feel guilty, frivolous, or vain for doing so. So I flip-flopped on the subject while considering the Walmart shop and whether or not I should take a cab home with the bins.

Then I worried about the bags under my eyes and wondered about this gallstone/liver flush I’m reading about. I’m going to do it next month- just to try it. But I recognize that there is fear mixed up in some of the things I do and the goals I try to set for myself. When I’m feeling anxious, fear grabs a hold of me and it cycles in with a bunch of random things like laundry in a dryer.

You see, my intentions and goals for the month involve a lot of nose-to-the-grindstone tasks.

  1. ship my stuff
  2. get someone to take our place
  3. save money
  4. work on a writing piece
  5. blog as much as possible
  6. vision board?
  7. scrapbook?
  8. eat healthier
  9. plan my birthday events
  10. the Four Agreements Book Club

Besides our book club, most of these goals seem super boring, or like I’m grasping at straws. I’ve always wanted to make a vision board, and I need to start making a scrapbook with all the stuff I’ve been collecting for years. I haven’t gotten around to either of these tasks, which feel more like place holders so I could have a cool ten in my list. My goals are mainly tasks that support the overall CDF’s that I came up with. But they don’t look so sexy on the page.

So mulling around this boring list of goals, I looked up the bus route to Walmart on Tous Azimuts, and headed into the frigid sunshine to take my ride. I tried to remain calm as doubts about my financial capabilities bubbled up. I got to the bus stop where somebody had lovingly spray-painted a line through the schedule so that I couldn’t read the bus times for that hour. I was having doubts about my timing and even the bus itself. Was it the right bus? I was sure to check all of this at home before I left, but now, alone and out in the world planning a cross-country move; I had doubts about my abilities to take a bus or buy bins.

When I got out at my stop, I had to walk across a long, windy parking lot to get to the store which was situated at the other end of the sea of parking spaces. I could still feel the discomfort. That feeling is what I had been avoiding. When I got into the store, I navigated my cart through crowds of people on motorized shopping carts to get to the Rubbermaid section. Massive anxiety hit me in a new, fresh wave. Which bin do I buy? How many do I need? Which ones fit with which lids?

Moments like this I wish I had a boyfriend.

I had to talk myself through it. These decisions won’t make or break the move, I told myself. I made my purchases and then immediately called a cab instead of figuring out the bus home. Then I felt guilty about it- I’m supposed to be saving money. I was freezing cold in the wind-chill and the cab was already called. I waited outside, berating myself for my financial choices once again- a vicious pattern. The cab driver came quickly. As we drove home- and this was the nicest cab driver ever- I sat there in the back of the taxi-van with a lump in my throat. Fear. I laughed at his jokes and gave him a good tip, but I wanted to get back home to go through this in private.

Once safely back at home, I ate a bunch of crackers and veggie pate and paced around starting and abandoning tasks. Even now, I’m still a bit worried. I’m still scared. But I did get one step closer to sending away my stuff. So I moved forward, despite all of that.

I guess this is what change is about. I’d love to say that I fearlessly embrace the change I instigate. But I don’t and spend a lot of time in an insane inner drama. I get sidetracked and bogged down in details and have anxiety attacks about buying bins on sunny Sunday afternoon.

Because of the strength of these doubts- I’m proud of myself. It turns out that a small task can be a huge step. Those bins are a symbol of me getting closer to my CDF’s.

“No one would have ever crossed the ocean, if they could have gotten off the ship in a storm.” -Charles Kettering.

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