Sunday, December 26, 2010

It's the holidays again!

Conference call in the middle of my solstice morning
celebration, how representative of my year!

Can you freakin' believe this? It's the holidays again!

Last year at this date I was getting buried in a new job that I knew very little about, and looking forward to a busy year. Ah! I was not kidding about that! It WAS a busy year, also a difficult one at times, but looking back, it was still a good year.

Now looking forward, I'm trying to put together a plan for the coming year. Things have moved so fast in the last 13 months that I sort of lost sight of anything but work really. What are my plans? What do I want? Good questions! I'm not one for New Year Resolutions. "Starting January 1st, I will... Every day!" Naaww, that never works.

I am however a plan maker. There are a few things that I do know: January-February will be busy at work, I just know it; February-March we are planning to move (YAY!) ; I'm planning a trip to Montreal this spring and one home this summer; and finally I would love to finally get my trainer certification.

In a more mundane, day to day view, I want to get my routine back into focus. Cooking everyday and working out regularly are the only way I can keep myself on track. We were doing good with this for a while, and this fall it all fell apart.

Thing is, I know my job now, it's not getting any less busy, but I can manage my time much better (famous last words). I've also learned a valuable lesson this year: You can't do your job well, whatever it is, if you don't learn to put boundaries and to take care of yourself. Now if I want to do everything I've planned to do, I'll have to really put that into practice.

The funny thing is that nobody is putting pressure on me but myself really. I'm the one who takes everything on, and says yes to everything presented to me. Then I feel overwhelmed and end up working 7 days/week to catch up. So this year, my master plan is learn to say no, and manage my time so that I have more time for myself and my personal goals as well as for my husband and critters.

Last year was very challenging professionally, and I think I've proven to myself that I could handle it. It's time to make space for myself and my family. My job is still a big part of my life, if only because I enjoy it so much, but we've come far enough to where it doesn't have to be my whole life.

Here's to a successful and enjoyable year 2011!

Friday, November 19, 2010

Body image and other neuroticities

I'm feeling fat today, I'm not feeling "clinically overweight", or "slightly over sized", I feel FAT. In fact, I've been feeling fat quite a bit lately. Thing is, my weight IS up by 2 lbs, big deal! right? I'm still well within my healthy weight range, and maintaining quite easily, and yet... I feel fat!

Here's where it gets weird: I've been shopping a lot lately, and having a hard time finding clothes that fit. "AH HA!" you tell me, the common "nothing fits me right thus I'm fat" syndrome. Not so, nothing fits because everything is too big. I've been going from store to store and trying on medium sized clothes and being exasperated at how huge clothes have become.

See, it can't be me who's smaller, cause I feel fat, so the clothes are getting bigger. Mind you, until a few days ago I was not really trying on small sized clothes either because I cannot feel this fat and fit in a small size right? So the mediums are getting huge, there's no way I can fit in a small, so whoever makes clothes sizes have no clue what they are doing.

Am I the only one having such thoughts? I've worked hard to lose weight, 70+ lbs, I've maintained my weight loss for well over 7 years now. You'd think that I'd be happy with my body right? When I do voice my concerns I'm rarely met with sympathy to be honest, people see my "small sized" body and think sarcastically "oh booo hoo, you're breaking my heart". Thing is, body image has nothing to do with size. I have felt hot and sexy while being overweight, and I have felt huge and disgusting well below my healthy weight range.

It's interesting to see how prejudice has no weight. When I was overweight, I faced all sort of odd looks and comments from the "naturally thin people" having to do with my over sized body. People could not see beyond how big I was. In many people's mind, I could not be intelligent, strong willed, competent even, and be that big. I had to be weak to let myself get to that point. I was even told that by a few people when looking for a job. That more than anything else fueled my resolve to get myself in shape and prove to the world that they had misread me.

Now that I've won that battle, those people look at me differently, but there's no way they can grasp what it's like learning to live with a new body, to learn to look at yourself in a different light. In a way, I'm still not part of "their world" because in some ways, I feel like a fake thin person. I'm in a sort of twilight zone really. To some I'm a whiny skinny bitch, to others I'm a fake, and impostor. Now I'm very well aware that all that is in my head, that's the whole point, people are not telling me these things, I'm making them up. Again I ask: Am I the only one?

Of course this too shall pass, it's just another fence to cross, but sometimes I wonder if I will ever get completely past this, if one day I will be completely happy with myself and my body. I know that on paper, in numbers, my body is fine. I also know that I'm intelligent, competent, that I am a good wife, and a good friend. I know these things, but some days...

"Be your own best friend"

I'm learning, sometimes I run backward a little bit, but I learn and start forward again. Maybe it'll never be completely resolved, but as long as I'm learning and moving forward, it's worth it. Right?

Monday, September 6, 2010

Sometimes it just doesn't make sense

Today Mom called me out of the blue. I knew something was up and I had a good idea what it was. I listened to the Skype ringing sound for a bit, not really wanting to answer. Finally, knowing that there was no changing what was coming, I answered. My hunch was right on target, my cousin passed away this afternoon after a long battle with brain cancer. We knew it was coming, we knew there was no way to stop it, still...

I understand the whole "it's better that way", the whole "the guy we knew wasn't there anymore". I understand all that. I also have no problem with the concept of death itself, to me it's just a transition to other things. A passage if you will. My problem with the whole thing is simple: it doesn't make sense. Why would a young man, who is generally healthy, likes sports, live a quiet life without bothering anyone would suddenly be hit with brain cancer?

When I was a kid, a counselor at a summer camp I went to nicknamed me "Miss Logique" because I kept taking apart everything he told us and try to make sense of it. I have always felt that things should always make sense, that there is a rational explanation for everything. For that reason, illogical statements or situations need to be pulled apart, understood and corrected if needed.

Through my life I've struggled to make sense of the world around me and the people who live in it. In a general manner I've been successful, but there are still things that just don't make sense, and that bothers me greatly.

No matter how hard I try, I cannot figure out why children get sick. That does not make sense to me. Don't bother giving me God's "Greater plan" story, I don't want to hear it. It's a band-aid we put on an irrational event to keep our mind from flying apart. I don't buy it.

Why would a man like my cousin, a young man, easy going, who never even thought of hurting anyone would die at 39, after countless pain and suffering for him and his family while serial killers and rapist rot in jail perfectly healthy. It just doesn't make any sense.

I'm not talking about those people who get hit by tornadoes every year and stand there wondering why me? Or about that guy that went off to get friendly-friendly with the Grizzly bears and got killed by them. I'm not saying those people asked for it, but they did put themselves in harms way. They took the risk, and well, they lost.

I'm talking about people not doing anything risky, not doing anything wrong, about a 3 years old child fighting leukemia. Why? What can a toddler have done? I'm talking about simple every day people who are just doing their thing and then BOOM. Or the victims of random criminal act, a girl just happening to walk home from 7-11 at night taken behind a school and raped. Why?

Those things don't make sense to me, and because of that, I can not process them, much less accept them. In a way I envy those who can find their solace in religion. It must be great to find an answer that bring sense to all of it. I just can't bring myself to accept that answer.

I guess my next fence to cross is to trade understanding for acceptance. I'm not sure I'm ready for it. In the meantime I will just take a deep breath, and keep on keeping on and hope that one day, somehow, somewhere, everything will be clear.

Have a great journey cousin, say hi to Grandpa for me.

Friday, August 6, 2010

Is the meaning up to you?

"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"

Religion is a funny thing, it seems to mean different things for different people. The "Word" has been used and abused for centuries to justify all ends, good and not so good. As a student of history, I got to look at the worst that religion could bring to this world. All religions really. The Crusades, the Jihad are the most known, and mentioned atrocities, but how many more are happening out there in the name of religion?

I grew up a Catholic in a very Catholic community. All through my youth, I was taught only of love, greater good, of respect and acceptance. Later learning about the crusades, the intolerance of the Christian "right" and my belief that women should be treated as equal (not honored servants) made me walk away from my parent's faith. For a while I rejected all religions.

In college I discovered Paganism and Wicca. The philosophy seemed very in tuned with my way of looking at the world. The idea of being a solitary practitioner looked like the perfect option to me. I could be completely independent, and celebrate my spirituality exactly as I wanted without being stuck into endless meaningless (to me) rituals. Great! In the years that followed, I realized that I was not a very good Wiccan really. I don't follow the tenet of the religion, my understanding of magic is very different than the "mainstream Wicca". I make my own way, honor the Goddess and the God, but that's about as far as it goes. My rituals are few and greatly simplified. I just don't take myself so seriously, it's just not my thing.

Furthermore, I've found that the Pagan religions have their issues also; poseurs and greedy merchants who will make a fortune by selling you a kitchen knife with a pentagram painted on it.

Drats! Now what?

Thing is I don't think the problem is the religions themselves, I think it's the followers. For exemple, Jesus never said that one should be intolerant, that people should get together and go attack the Middle East, that women should be treated as baby-making machines who get to clean the place between childbirths. Followers interpreted the "Word" to their own liking and used it to justify whatever they felt they needed to justify.

What of the word of "my faith"? the one thing that I try to keep in mind every day of my life is this simple statement:

"An Ye Harm None, Do What Ye Will"

Again, it can mean different things to different people. For some it means "Do whatever you want, and don't let anybody tell you otherwise!" That is not what I believe. To me those words speak of a greater responsibility. It is up to me to choose my course in life, and to make sure that everything I do is thought through so that it doesn't harm anyone including myself. This is a lot of work and a huge responsibility really, I can't turn to a book and say "This is what the book says, it's out of my hands". I'm making my own path, and calling the shots all the time.

"Harming none" is far reaching. I think that it includes making the world around me a better place, because "none" includes people who are, but also people who will be. This planet is old, and still has a long way to go, so I need to see how, in my own little way, I can make it a better place now and in the years to come. It's not only about not making things worse, but seeing how I can make them better. Wait, to make things better, that means I need to treat people fairly, kindly. I need to show respect and love so that everyone can live a better life.

Finally, this "none" includes myself. It is my belief that I have been given a great gift, I'm alive, I've got a body that is strong and healthy and a mind that works (most of the time ;op). It is my responsibility not only to maintain body and mind but to better it. It takes a lot of work, but to fail to do it would be showing a lack of gratitude toward my goddess who gave this gift to me.

You know, this is not that far from what I learned as a kid now is it? Treat everybody with respect and love, make the world a better place, make sure that you are a constructive, positive part of the world around you. Hmmm...

The basics are the same really, it's in the interpretation that things vary. I have chosen my path, because I am more motivated by a sense of duty, than I am by the fear of guilt. The idea of reincarnation makes more sense to me than what I see as sitting on a cloud for eternity admiring god. These are details, differences that really don't mean that much.

The bottom line is to find one's own way toward the "greater good", hopefully that is what we all look for.

Blessed be my friends

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Standing Proud

This morning I flew out of San Francisco toward Montreal. My Mom and my big brother were coming there too, and my little brother lives there already. A big get together. Too bad my Dad couldn't make it, but still a fun week in the works!

On the plane this morning I was thinking about that, and about how I was really looking forward to this. It is strange to me because I'm always looking forward to seeing my family. I'm not in California because I ran away, I just happen to live there. I'm close to my brothers even if we don't talk nearly as much as we should, and I have a good time with my parents too. We've worked out the kinks and hositilities of years past and mostly get along. More importantly we've learned to smooth our way past the little frictions that crop up here and there. I think those are part of any family relations really... right?

So why is this time special? Why am I so eager to see them? What's so different?

As a teenager, I was the "problem child", the wild one in the family. My brothers were good little boy and I, well, was a girl, and not always soo good. It didn't help that I sort of lost my way at school for a few years, I didn't quite drop out, but I attended school in body only for a few years. Now that's a nice way to put it!

Finally I decided to straighten up and actually go to school mind and body. I did and succeeded, YAY! Honestly though, my life was sort of a mess. Everytime I visited with my family, there was always a sense that I wasn't quite as "on track" as I should be. It just kept feeling that way too:

After a lot of work, and a few kicks in the behind, I straightened out my life, and finishes my first BA in college. I MADE IT! right? Well... my man was a mess really, and I had a BA, but not much going on other than that.

I enrolled back in college and started over. Graduated again, ended a bad relationship, found a new man (or hefound me? I wasn't looking!), started teaching got married. "OMG did you see yourself? you are huge!"

Lost weight, got healthy, started helping other people with their weight loss. Well that's nice, but aren't you ever going to get a "real job" and what do you mean "no kids" you're not going to have kids? why? No job, no kids, what are you good for?

I've always felt like no matter how much I tried, it wasn't ever enough. Honestly most of those comments wereprobably in my head rather than spoken out loud, though many were strongly hinted at. I'm sure that there will be comments this time around too, but it just doesn't bother me as much anymore. For some reason I realize that I don't deserve them so...

I'm 36 years old, I am not nuclear scientist, but I have a decent full time job that I enjoy and is meaningful to me. My husband and I made the decision not to have kids, and though I'm not saying I never question it, I can assume the weight of that decision. That decision is between him and I, no one else.

We sat down last year and decided what we wanted our life to be and made the changes we needed to make to have the life we chose and you know what? It works!

I am "on track now". On the track that I chose for myself. Dan didn't tell me what to do and where to go, neither did Mom or anyone else. I made my own choices, walked my way toward them, and frankly my life is pretty damn good at this point. I have nothing to hide, nothing to prove so I can look at every member of my family straight in the eye and feel like I'm at least as worthy as any of them.

Let's get playin' and laughin' and shoppin'! That's what we came here for anyway!