Thursday, 27 June 2013

An Addiction to Nutella

On my way home today I saw not one, but two bra-less wonders strolling happily on seperate sidewalks going in different directions. As were their swinging breasts. I chuckled. What are the chances? And it was funny.

It seems like a bit of a cheat, but today I am borrowing from another blog that I read and accepting his challenge.

In James Altucher's recent post, "Everything is Funny All the Time", he says "being born was the only serious thing I ever did. After that, we’re on our own, trying to survive. Trying to get the joke."  I tend to agree.

"Survival" for us human beings goes beyond food, water, reproduction. We have this mind to deal with too. And it complicates everything - from intuition to expectations. I like to think of myself as analytically challenged or is it gifted? He goes on to say:

"Some people list the things they are grateful for. This is a good list to do. But I try to also list the things around me that are funny. The things that are more than funny. The things that are ludicrous. This is a more fun list. This is the list that lights my brain on fire. It takes practice but it’s worth it. Because if you can’t find the humor in everything around you, then eventually you find out too late that the joke is on you".

Brilliant. In a way, David Letterman, or his writers, did it everyday in the top ten list. Seinfeld created a show "about nothing" and I watch re-runs to this day, because they are still funny. Speaking of Letterman and Seinfeld, my friend, let's call her Emily, sent me this clip the other day from Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee: and in the subject line she wrote: "If someone video-taped us talking this is what it would sound like..."

While it's true that David and Jerry are wealthy, successful comedians, and they ought to be laughing all the way to the bank; it is also true that she and I have conversations like this all the time. On a daily basis we somehow manage to find at least one thing that makes us literally laugh out loud and ridicule the things that happen to us and our group of friends at home and at work. My regular response to most of it is - "another one for the book". And I suspect we all have a book we could write if we could find the humour in everything around us.

So here is today's attempt to make a list of 6 things that are funny (mostly about me - hmmmmmm).

1. My addiction to Nutella. On a daily basis I run out of spoons because I don't want to "double dip" (hot on the Seinfeld today). The fact that I don't want to double dip is in itself ludicrous. My friend Emily also has this addiction. When she gets married we are going to tie ribbons around Nutella jars and give them away as wedding favours.

2.  That at the age of 41 I am still trying to please my parents. I wanted to paint an accent wall in my bedroom red, because as the children's book says "Red is Best". They said bedrooms are supposed to be restful - you can't do that. So I picked a navy blue. They helped me paint. I was grateful. I hated it. I painted over it yesterday. For those of you with little children, get this book. It's wonderful. I need to read it often to help me with my parent issues.

3. That since being unemployed I have gotten more manis and pedis than in the entire time I was employed full-time. That is ratio of 5 months to 15 years.

4. That my sister and I can say one thing that no-one else will think is funny and we will laugh until tears are streaming down our faces and we can't even form a sentence that makes sense because we are laughing so hard. And that even after we leave each other's company, we will still be laughing and crying about the same silly thing for the whole week to come and at inopportune moments. People on the bus look at me and think - is she crazy? And they move seats. People are scared of happy moments in public, I guess.

5. One time I was so hungover, that when I went to the grocery store with my friend she had to push me around in the cart because I couldn't walk. I looked like death warmed over and I was 36 years old. She told people I was not feeling well, but not to worry. She had to say something - they were staring at me. At us.

6. That even during my wallowing, leave me alone, "I am being dramatic on purpose" times, I can still laugh silently while pondering my miserable self, because I have the power to re-live moments 1 to 5.

I could keep going but I do have to save some for the book :)

Try your own list!

Monday, 24 June 2013

The Heart Chain

"Don't worry if you wake up in the middle of the night and find that I am gone from my bed, Mummy. I might be out rampaging. You know, cause it's a full moon and that means werewolving"
-My son, this past Friday night.

After you stop laughing, or wondering what the? You may also be thinking - what could that possibly have to do with the title of today's blog? It is coming, just wait for it.

The myths and legends around the full moon and moon culture in general are interesting. Does it really only seem like more "crazies" come out during a full moon, and are there are small epidemics of strange things that happen during those times? Is the planet more vulnerable during full moons? This past weekend we even had a supermoon.  I did not ask my son how that effects the werewolves. Just in case you are wondering what a supermoon is:

"A supermoon is the coincidence of a full moon or a new moon with the closest approach the Moon makes to the Earth on its elliptical orbit, resulting in the largest apparent size of the lunar disk as seen from Earth. The technical name is the perigee-syzygy of the Earth-Moon-Sun system...The association of the Moon with both oceanic and crustal tides has led to claims that the supermoon phenomenon may be associated with increased risk of events such as earthquakes and volcanic eruptions, but the evidence of such a link is widely held to be unconvincing" - Wikepedia.

Now that you know what a supermoon is, what I really wanted to talk about today is how my son's bedtime fantasy story prompted me to think about vulnerability. Werewolves are vulnerable, in most versions of the story, to the moon. Superman is vulnerable to Kryptonite.  I mention that because we just watched Superman Returns.

In the movie, Superman returns after a 5 year absence. During this time Lois Lane writes a Pulitzer Prize article called "Why the World Doesn't Need Superman" - easily translated to why she doesn't need Superman. Without a goodbye from him, or any explanation, her way of blocking the pain was to put a box around her heart, chain it and lock it up. It was the only way she thought she could survive the pain. She locked out (or in?) her vulnerability.

Superman is vulnerable too - not only to Kryptonite, but by his need to "save the world" and balance his love for Lois at the same time. Feeling alone as the only one of his kind (another vulnerability - loneliness), he flew away in search of his destroyed planet to try and find a connection. Connection is one of the first topics that Brene Brown talks about in her Ted Talks on vulnerability (see link below).

The problem is, the fight with vulnerability is a fight we can never win, and I am now returning to the belief we shouldn't want to win. I have recently experimented with trying to put my heart in box, chain it and throw away the key, while letting the lid to the other box swing wide open. I was thinking it could work if I could stick to some rules and allow myself to become dominated by logic and control. But my need for vulnerability is in fact very strong and its waging a tough war.

A friend of mine recently reminded me of this very insightful Ted Talks with Brene Brown on vulnerability: It has had almost 10 million views and so there is a good chance that you have watched it. If you have not, I highly recommend it.

She talks about a group of stories from individuals who she termed "whole-hearted" - these were people who were successful and emotionally strong, who did not "numb their emotions", but understood that “staying vulnerable is a risk we have to take if we want to experience connection [and joy].”

A few blogs ago I wrote about "The Contract". I still support clear, open and transparent communication in my tongue and cheek way of suggesting we preplan and contract all of our relationships. I think that in this case, the vulnerability comes from what is proposed in "the contract" - the expression of our wants and needs and likes and dislikes and it outlines what we understand to be the risks. Assuming the risk is, of course, the hardest part, and requires the most courage.

Our vulnerability ebbs and flows every day, every week, every year. Right now I am at a high point. Every time I apply for a job or go for an interview, I have to embrace vulnerability. But I am not going to get a job if I don't.  Every time I write a blog (serious or funny, it doesn't matter) and post it, I am baring myself. Every time I make a mistake in front of my children, in something I have said to them and I have to apologise - I open myself up to shame. But only if I look at it that way. I am also teaching my children that one makes mistakes and one must apologise. An example of how to be a noble human "being".

And, even if I tried to throw away the key that will unlock the chains around my heart in a box, I don't need it and I don't need to give it to somebody either. My heart will break the chains and the box on its own. There are two scenes I have watched many times in my life that make me think of hearts and vulnerability. One is the powerful image of the Grinch's expanding heart which gives him super Grinch strength (10 Grinches plus 2!) after he discovers the Whos are singing, holding hands in a circle, even though he stole all their presents. He realizes of course that their connection, even though they were vulnerable to theft, is what gives them joy.

The second is the speech that Gigi gives Alex in the movie, He's Just Not that Into You, after she potentially misreads his signals and is rebuffed after trying to express her interest in him (very awkward and funny make-out seen for those of you who have not seen the movie). She says to him:

"I may dissect each little thing and put myself out there so much but at least that means that I still care. Oh! You've think you won because women are expendable to you. You may not get hurt or make an ass of yourself that way but you don't fall in love that way either. You have not won. You're alone. I may do a lot of stupid shit but I'm still a lot closer to love than you are".

Most of the songs I researched on chained hearts - including an awesomely cheesy song by Toto, referred mostly to others having chained their hearts. As I have said before, and it seems to be a common preach throughout my blogs, is that I am accountable for and to myself. In this case I tried to put the chains on - but I know they won't stay. Because my heart, which is me, chooses emotion and I know my destiny (or density as George McFly says) is to be a wholehearted person.

Thursday, 20 June 2013

Do you hear the Muses?

I have to laugh. Either readers loved the last blog or they hated it, or they were worried about me. Getting some reaction is better than none at all, so I thank you for your comments!

Lately, I have been pondering the creative process and creativity. It is one of the characteristics listed on my "An Ideal Husband?" Pinterest board under Don Draper's picture. To note, many (all?) of his other characteristics do not make my list.  I myself have been labled creative or "artsy" which I always find ironic since I have a Masters in Science. Then I thought science is absolutely creative - think Einstein or Nina Tandon, a research scientist at Columbia University who "creates" cardiac tissue for potential use in human transplants. But, are the terms "creative" and "artistic" synonomous? I don't think it really makes a difference for the purpose of this blog, but I looked up it up on (very reputable, I know):

Definition :
artistic, imaginative
Synonyms:clever,cool,demiurgic,deviceful,fertile,formative,gifted,hip,ingenious,innovational, innovative, innovatory,inspired, inventive,leading edge, original, originative, productive, prolific, stimulating, visionary, way out
My favourite: way out.
Not all of us are, or can be, or want to be "way out" - I will give you that. But I do believe that all of us have an everyday artist inside that does or can "come out". All it takes is a little tweak in your daily routine and a small hug for Chaos for those of you whose comfort level does not allow for much abandoning of routine. The following are some examples of where and how you can be creative or artistic (and I thought of them all by my little creative self).  These kind of exercises are also known to be "good for your brain" (see work done by Dr Simone Ritter):

- For women who put make-up on everyday - choose something different - green eyeliner and bright pink lipstick? How cool is it that we as female humans have a "face canvas" that is not covered in hair.

- For men who wear suits to work: Choose a shirt and tie combo on purpose that you think everyone will say "that so doesn't go together".

- When you make your smoothie in the morning - don't measure anything.

- Go to that Halloween party wearing a costume that took you weeks to either think about or make. And make sure you have a story that goes with it.

- During a boring meeting opt to doodle really big, rather than pretend you are typing an important message on your phone which is in fact only a text to your colleague that says "yawn". If you are brave and/or proud enough, pin your doodle on your cubicle cork board or equivalent.

- Change the route you take home from work and listen to a radio station that broadcasts in a language you don't know. Imagine you understand what they are saying or singing and react to it.

- Sing a song to your children at bedtime that has a familar tune - but completely make up the lyrics.

- Paint your own birthday cards and write a poem on the inside, or nothing at all. Just sign your name.

- Make a "weird" sandwich. I tried peanut butter, avocado, banana and red pepper jelly the other day.

- Write a real love letter and mail it (see my blog on The Modern Love Letter). It doesn't have to be to a romantic partner - could be your parents, a friend, a pet? If it is a pet, know that when it arrives back in your mailbox, be prepared that you will have to open it and read it out loud to said pet.

- Plan a potluck dinner party with an outrageous or challenging theme. A acquantaince of mine plans these on a regular basis with a set group of friends. The host picks the theme and each person who attends is assigned a course to prepare. Think: Foods that a vampire would eat, if in fact, vampires ate.  I don't believe they have used this theme - I just made that up.

Its no coincidence that a lot of the above have to do with eating, dressing, gifting, commuting. Aspects of our daily lives, and therefore easy tasks to challenge. Speaking of food, one of my favourite shows is Chopped. Not only is it exciting from a competitive "limited time" and "money if you win" standpoint, but also because they have to combine crazy ingredients of which you would never think to join together. It's amazing to watch what they do with them.

But, as enjoyable as the watching is, have we become complacent creative zombies? The list I suggested above is not genius, and I am sure there are others who have suggested the same things. The problem is I don't think we are actually trying. We have the tools to do more and watch less. You don't have to be a chef or a professional "artsy" to live as an artist. Wake up - the Muses are calling you.

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

Eat Me, Dust

Being unemployed is not good for your mental health. It's obvious, but I typed it anyway. I've been writing these blogs to help me through this tough time, and I am really trying to stay positive. At the same time I want the blogs to remain general enough so that my readers can apply the joy, the pain, and the quandaries to their own circumstances.

So, compared to those people in situations less fortunate than mine, where I am right now may not seem that bad. It's the same application as when I try and guilt my children into finishing their dinner because there are starving children in India who eat rice once a day and drink dirty water. But it's all relative isn't it?

I have been thinking about the expression: "Pick Yourself Up, Dust Yourself Off, and Start All Over Again". I think it might have been put through the broken telephone line a few times, but it originally comes from a song released in 1936. Click the link for the Nat King Cole version. Very apt for the great depression.  But, in my opinion, a mediocre inspirational line that really requires much more thought.

First of all - it depends on how you fell in the first place. Did you trip? Did someone push you? Did you throw yourself on the ground in a hissy fit? Secondly - where did you fall? The hardwood floors in my apartment are quite dust free. If you fall on a gravel road, well there would be dust, but there would also be hard stones and the likli-hood that you would have to apply an ice-pack to your swollen knee and antibiotic cream and a band-aid to the cuts on your elbows is pretty high. And start all over again - what if you fell when you were lost? You can't start all over again if you didn't know where you were going in the first place. What if you got knocked down and lost your memory? Got a concussion? What if you were beat so bloody your eyes swelled up and you couldn't see where to go?

As dramatic as those images are, my point right now is that every once in a while, it would behoove us to examine the status of our beating, and that continuing on in blind optimism may not always be the best approach. I have been through 5 job interviews with no success; the government keeps messing up my EI payments and I continue to eat into my Dad's credit line; the cat I took on after her owner, the children's paternal great grandfather passed away, all of a sudden starting losing weight, is ill, and now I have vet bills up the yin yang. My son's OCD is in over-drive for whatever reason, my mum's recent heart treatment did not work, and I have had to lower my expectations in the love department. My list. not your list, but a list none-the-less.

I will say "my network" which I still refer to as family and friends, has been very helpful so far. Thank you. An acquaintance of mine recently blogged on how your network is the most valuable asset in your life. However, they can only do so much. They can't get in my head, can they? I have to do this myself. My list may not seem that bad, but this week I just want to walk slower, not wash my hair, stare at the wall, drink lots of wine, eat Nutella out of the jar, wear sweats, and take myself inside. I want my mental bruises to heal before I climb the next stairwell. I might need to leave myself on the ground to do this. The thing is you can pick yourself up, but you have got to be prepared to walk, then run and then jump the hurdles.

My friends and I often refer to these states of mind as "Mexicoma" as per the first Sex and the City Movie. After her fiancee neglects to show up for the wedding, Carrie and her friends decide to go on the honeymoon anyway. For the first part, Carrie holes herself up in the bedroom, in darkness, not eating anything but her thoughts. And nothing her friends could do would take her away from this period of silent anti-everything. The best part was when she did decide to come out of the "mexicoma", her friends were right there to help her.

So - I will get through this but know that I will wallow in my ashes - and not just once. And it will help me more than a fake smile and any "chin-up" punch I or anyone else gives me.

“Which came first, the phoenix or the flame?”
“Hmm . . . What do you think, Harry?” said Luna, looking thoughtful.
“What? Isn’t there just a password?”
“Oh no, you’ve got to answer a question,” said Luna.
“What if you get it wrong?”
“Well, you have to wait for somebody who gets it right,” said Luna. “That way you learn, you see?”
“Yeah . . . Trouble is, we can’t really afford to wait for anyone else, Luna.”
“No, I see what you mean,” said Luna seriously. “Well then, I think the answer is that a circle has no beginning.”
“Well reasoned,” said the voice, and the door swung open.”
J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

Sunday, 16 June 2013

The contract

Superhero II has been put on hold. Have a little bit of research to do. Today's blog is on contracts - that is the fantasy of pre-planning and outlining our relationship parameters and how that might be possible, ideal, logical and seemingly very unromantic, but I wouldn't say non-creative.

I think Sheldon has the right of it. Sheldon Cooper, one of the star nerdlinger characters of the Big Bang Theory, tries to contract as much as he can. It is likely more of a control aspect for him than any desire for clear communication between parties involved in his life's relationships, but nonetheless, I admire the process.

In TV land's Big Bang Theory, the two more frequently mentioned contracts are the "roommate agreement" and the 31 page "relationship agreement" in which the terms, limitations, accountabilities and emergency preparedness clauses are meticulously outlined for Leonard and Amy respectively. For example, in the roommate agreement there is a Skynet clause (0206) which specifies what happens if: one friend needs help to destroy an artificial intelligence he's created and that's taking over Earth. I know - awesome.

Now as ridiculous and funny as that is for the purpose of the show, I think that many of our life's liaisons could benefit from the development of a contract, agreement, covenant, treaty or pact prior to the beginning of, or changes to a relationship. There are already marriage contracts and pre-nups, albeit those seem mostly to have to do with the material rather than the behavioural/emotional aspects of the binding. Many of my parenting books strongly suggest a clear outline of a chores/good behaviour for rewards contract for older children.

I think the key to success here is in the planning phase - with as much detail as you could think of, so nothing gets missed. Any accountant will tell you the more detailed, line by line item budget you can do is better - you can always "roll it up" later. Or pursuing your relationships using project management 101 - a signed-off charter that includes addendums of timelines, budgets and stakeholder matrices. Imagine if you could design a relationship budget consisting of emotional banks and time well spent - balancing the efforts of both parties so there is neither surplus or deficit on either side.

Imagine if we had standard templates, or niche law firms specializing in short-term "day to day life contracts" outlining the expectations, agendas, timelines, out-clauses, violation consequences, processes, etc. for the following
  • The "Friends with Benefits" Contract
    • i.e. including  "What to do when I have found someone to date for real" section
  • The "Just Benefits" Agreement
    • i.e. including  the "mutually exclusive physical relationship safety" clause
  • The "Long distance friendship" Pact
    • i.e. including "minimum email and telephone conversations per month" quotas
  • The "I work for my friend or my family member" Treaty
    •  i.e. including the "don't treat me as special in front co-workers or behind close doors" clause - with an addendum on the definition of "special" to be clearly defined and agreed upon by both parties
  • The "Parent-grandparent parenting together in the same place" Convenant
    • i.e. including the "thou shalt not interfere during the dinner hour with trying to spoon feed my eight year old because you didn't think she ate enough"
  • The "adult child-parent" non-disclosure agreement
    • i.e. the "what constitutes too much information on respective parties' sex lives" section. Yes, that is probably easily answered - everything.
  • The "Recently Divorced but Dating" Pact
    • i.e. the "I promise not to talk about my ex in a negative way or any way during any outings unless asked to do so and in that case, all questions and answers must be given in an objective and neutral fashion".
Now, many of you might complain that any type of such discussion could remove all the mystery or it might be more harmful than not or there are some things that just cannot be expressed in words. But I don't think any of "that" goes away just because you state your intentions - it will either strengthen the bond or it will avoid a lot of hurt, wondering, and biting of nails or later emotional lashings. The concept of the contract in many of our life's relationships may be surreal but an open, honest, transparent conversation about what you expect and what that other person expects from you during short or longer interludes could be the key to your peace.

As we continue to transform ourselves as a species, I think the next big step just might be the evolution of emotional intelligence. Will those who are more emotionally intelligent be naturally selected for the future success of the human race? I will leave you with that thought :) and/or suggest that you follow Daniel Goldman!

Wednesday, 12 June 2013

Superhero I

Before I start this blog today, I just need to vent that I lost $20 literally out of my pocket and onto the street this morning and I hope the universe has re-allocated that money to someone who needs it. I also have not blogged for two days. I forgive me. Because I can. It's wonderful being your own boss. Too bad I can't pay myself too.

Recently, my son and I watched the original Super Man movie. Not the first superhero movie we have watched together. Like most 8 year olds, my son has a fascination with the comic book world come to life on screen. It occurred to me that at that time, when I was a young lass watching this movie (1978), there was not the constant supply of super hero action adventures that have been gracing the movie world since the nineties. Maybe it was because reality TV was starting to dominate the airways, and the WHAM! BAM! Batmans had nowhere else to go.

For me - it's not bad thing. I love all types of movies, including documentaries, but superhero movies are definitely a guilty pleasure for me. I am guessing that the reasons my son and I like them so much differ, but then when I really thought about it. I think they might be the same. Inspiration and Aspiration.

Definition of superhero from A hero, especially in children's comic books and television cartoons, possessing extraordinary, often magical powers.

So who are we looking at here: Superman, Spiderman, Hulk?, Thor, Iron Man, Captain America, Batman, Wonderwoman, Supergirl, Wolverine, Fantastic Four, Green Lantern, the rest of the Avengers Ensemble, Dr Who, X-Men, and more...

For the purpose of this blog, let's focus on the ones who were "magically" mutated or who are aliens or demi-gods. It occured to me (duh?) first of all that there are not that as many female superheroes, and today I am going to focus on the male ones. Tomorrow I will examine both the dearth and qualities of the female superhero.

Secondly it occurred to me (again duh) that the magical male superhero powers could be easily translated into the ideal man - a man that my son might aspire to be someday and for me, an ideal partner in my life, and also if I remove the gender factors (aka big muscles and a penis), qualities that I would want to emulate. Dr Who by the way has two hearts....hmmmm.

There are too many characteristics to examine all of them in any depth. For those of you who want to geek out and/or test their superhero knowledge, here is a list of superhuman features and abilities:

I will attempt to translate the more well-known ones:

Super senses: vision - the ability to see deeply into another person's soul; hearing, smell, touch, taste?: awareness and respect for other people through knowledge and attention to non-verbal language
Flying: Ability to rise above the negativity and go for what you want despite the risks of falling
Super-strength: A healthy body - also important for a healthy mind
Super-agility: Ability to be flexible and to know what direction to move in and when its appropriate
Wall-crawling: Challenging the barriers in life and using alternative methods to get around them (its not always about the smashing the wall). I had to put that one in. Spidey is my favourite.
Telepathy: Good communication skills.
Super Intelligence: Life long learning and self-educating.
Changing Size: Self-awareness. Knowing that sometimes you must be small (follower, listener) and sometimes large (a leader, someone your family or co-workers can look up to)
Super-breath: Emotional Intelligence. Ability to control where and to what effect you "blow your wind" (I used that one before and it is still funny)
Healing factor: Being a good friend, listener and hugger.
Slow or non-ageing: In touch with your inner child/younger self, ability to explore, experiment, pursue the joys and challenges in life with vigour.

The majority seem to also be super good looking - in both the Hollywood and comic book versions. Not sure what to do with that one. You can't really work out your face except with smiles (positive attitude?) and good dental hygiene.

So those are a few that I could think of for now. There are other characteristics on the aspiration list although a prevalent super sense of humour seems to have been assigned to the non-mutant/aliens from what I can recall off the top of my head. Maybe this will be a three part blog.

To note, my superhero's code name is Tiger Claw. My son and I made that up today. Would help if I could remember what my actual superhero name is...I will ask him tomorrow so I can continue my blogging on the superheroine.



[heer-oh] Show IPA
Classical Mythology . a priestess of Aphrodite who drowned herself after her lover Leander drowned while swimming the Hellespont to visit her.
Also, Heron. ( Hero of Alexandria ) flourished 1st century a.d, Greek scientist. 


Monday, 10 June 2013

Rollerskating in the Now

It has been a tough week-end. I am ashamed to admit my throat is sore from yelling at my kids so much. No-one wants to admit that they have bad days as parents, especially not single parents. We are all matyrs when we have our kids, aren't we?  And our time with them is supposed to be special and protected. When my son said tonight that he was going to miss me tomorrow -   I said "really - even after all that scolding?" and he said "yes, I am going to miss you because I love you". I can't think of a better now statement than that. Because between us and our children, it has always been "I love you", it is "I love you" and it will always be "I love you".

After he said this, the guilt starting rising in my throat. And in these cases I always think of those awful but powerful monkey love experiments done by Harlow, and wondered whether I was the emotional equivalent of the bare mesh and not the terry cloth mother they deserve.

Normally I would say I am a patient person. Am I? Honestly my daughter was not even here most of the time, and maybe that was the problem. The short time we did have togethered somehow got marred by my need to fit everything in and there just wasn't enough left in me, except to argue. And I was mad at myself for allowing her to not be here, in the now, with her single-parented family.

So, I am in this constant internal debate about living in the now versus thinking about the future. I want to let her live in the now, which means sleeping over at friends' houses, going to movies, relaxing in the moment with a good magazine. Hey -  I want to have my live in the moment time too and not have to think of the consequences of procrastination. Of course, the key to all of this is what it usually comes down to: Everything in moderation. Think a little bit "now", and a pinch of "tomorrow".

Finding that karmic balance means you have to let some things go, but acknowledge the consequence, and embrace the decision. Right now I have to accept that my living room looks like trolls had an all night party here, and not get angry that I am tired and writing my blog and tomorrow it will still look a mess. So what - I will get to it tomorrow. I made the decision to write my blog - right now.

Today I went roller-skating with my son. We left late, a last minute turn-around after I had already said this is not a good idea, and then caved. It took us 45 minutes to get there; I got lost on the way, and was kvetching the whole time about how we should be outside. My son then said you will like it when we get there. A prediction of a now moment that came true. All that wasted energy, angry energy, because I could have just accepted my decision. We had a blast. Turns out going to an indoor rink on a beautiful, sunny day also meant that it wasn't crowded. We almost had the place to ourselves. And I got to dance on wheels!

I had a relapse later on when I yelled at my daughter to empty the dishwasher (5X asking). The last ask I related it to watching our Sunday night program together - dishes not done, no TV. She still didn't jump to it and again I had to demand. Only now I see what the problem was - I was balancing the now and the later for her, but based on my own scale. My challenge now is to figure out how to help her measure her own "here and now" against the next hour, next day, next week, without it seeming like it is all for me. Just saying "it's your choice" is wearing thin.

I don't have an answer yet. Maybe next-time I hit the rink I will be able to dance and think of one at the same time :)

Saturday, 8 June 2013

In the Bedroom: previously titled Masters and Servants

Beside the fact that I, and hopefully you, now have the Depeche Mode song in your head, today's thought train was spawned from a conversation I had with my Dad. And to put your mind at ease, we were not talking about S or M, or S and M or Rihanna. We were discussing last night's Lang and Leary Exchange on the recent rise in the US housing market for larger houses, including the demand for abodes with 2 master suites. Reason cited: at least one half of the couple snores.

I understand snoring can be a big deterrent to a restful night's slumber, and I was told as much when my nasal passages swelled up like everything else on my body when I was pregnant. However I think we can complain of more than that: bad morning breath, the fart that escaped while you were REMing, blanket stealing, shifty legs, drool on the pillow, must I keep going? It was not too long ago that Victoria Beckham (we are getting really deep here) divulged the secrets of keeping her marriage alive, of which one of them was sleeping in seperate bedrooms every other week.

I mean if royal couples of the past kept separate apartments, wings and even entire castles, then why not the popalty of today? And why shouldn't we take their advice? It is most likely the kings and queens of the past, having married for political reasons, actually didn't like each other. And so, their extended stay-aways lasted for much longer periods of time. On the other hand, servants who were married to each other often bunked together in a relatively small, one or two room space (think of the Bates on Downton Abbey , and how happy they were!)

I am currently solo-una in my fortress of slumber. However, for a good ten years of my life, I didn't sleep well unless there was someone on my other side, nor did I truly fall asleep until that warm body climbed in next to me. Was it just because it was a routine I was used to? Would that have changed as we got older? I will never be able to answer that question, but what I can do is think of all the beautiful reasons why I did like sharing my bed:

If I woke up from a bad dream, there was someone there to hold me.
On a cold winter's night, there was someone there to warm me.
If I heard scratching at the window, there was someone there to protect me.
On a hot summer eve, there was someone there to whisper - a cool breath on my ear.
When I could not sleep, and tossed and turned, there was someone there to talk with me.
If I fell asleep exhausted, and dropped the book I was reading, there was someone there to mark my page and safely place it for me.
And when I felt a morning nudge, a salute hello, there was someone there who wanted me.

I just can't imagine that couples are separating themselves because it's "healthy for sex", or a sign of luxury, or to show how strong they are because they have deemed themselves "together but independent". Touch is one of the most powerful healing tools we have and just as our skin cells recoop and regenerate overnight (and I am hoping my overnight cream is helping with some of that), lucky are the ones that can also regenerate their souls by close connecting in a shared bed.

Thursday, 6 June 2013

Words away

Warning - this one is not as funny. Pretty sure not funny at all. Except that was kinda funny that I said that.

I recently finished the fifth book in George R.R. Martin's Game of Thrones series, and there was one line I kept noticing that was repeated quite clearly and deliberately: "Words are wind". Characters refer to promises that can be easily broken, the proverbial "actions speak louder than words", and in some cases the actions taken were the opposite of what was said (is that the same as a broken promise?) For those of you who are big fans of the books or TV series, I also found this OxfordWords Blog on the language of Game of Thrones: Yeh!

I wondered however what my son would make of this phrase "Words are Wind".

My son has Obessive Compulsive Disorder, otherwise known as OCD. And its real OCD - not the commonly made-fun-of, anal retentive, neat freak televised version, but the kind that is not always logical and ebbs and flows. The current state of his OCD requires a lot of repetetive counting and doing things (usually in nines) and an obsession with what is referred to as undoing behaviour. What needs to be "undone" can change and I never know when it's going to happen.  One of his recent objections requires family or friends to do a reversal or a re-do of sentences that begin with "I have to..." or "I must..." or "I can't". He will immediately ask you to repeat the phrase and finish the sentence starting with an " I don't have to, but I would like to..." or "I can...". Sometimes I can get away with an "I should".

Until this experience I did not realize how much I use those phrases on a daily basis and how incredibly frustrating it is to either avoid them or turn them into a positive. At first I was angry and I ironically thought "I can't do this"! We have not started therapy yet and so I am still inclined to give into his OCD just to keep the peace. So I tried. And I realized, in this case, he is actually giving me and my family a gift.

The process of the re-takes started me thinking about whether it really was something I must do, or have to do - did I really? Who was making me? Not likely someone else. It was me. I put that pressure on myself and I was also looking at my pending actions in a very negative way. So yes, I have to put the washing in, but when I started phrasing it like this: "I would like to put the washing in so we have fresh smelling sheets to sleep in tonight" , it somehow didn't feel like such a chore. And "I can't fall asleep" for my daughter became "I can fall asleep, eventually, I am just not ready right now". It is amazing how much one's anxiety is relieved when words become affirmative.

As I have mentioned before, many of the concepts that I blog about are not new. But I challenge my friends and family who read this to try and refrain from using or turn-around those "I musts" or "I have tos" and other similar sentence starters (you'll know what they are) for an hour, a day, a week. You will become aware of just how much you are emotionally taxing yourself.

Today, I really didn't feel like blogging, but I had to because I promised myself I would do it everyday. Being in control of which way I blow the wind (you can read that in a funny if you want), I changed that to "I want to blog, because I can". Thank you for showing us how to put our words away, son. I love you my sweetling.

Wednesday, 5 June 2013

Dance, dance, dance, dance

I have a feeling that I am blending my lighter aka "little things" posts and my deeper philosophical rants rather than my initial goal of alternating them each day, but I guess that's what flexibility and letting go is all about, and in this case, what dance is all about.

I proposed the choice to myself today to either talk about the shock and horror I watched on TVO last night: The World Before Her - a documentary showcasing two extreme approaches as to how young women define themselves in India (Participants in Miss India pageants versus Hindu nationalism training camps), or the joy that is So You Think You Can Dance -US version (Dance Canada was cancelled - boo).

So, while I highly recommend the documentary (click on the link above to find out more), I opted for dance talk.

I was not having a superb day yesterday. Not because anything really bad happened but because not much really happened at all. Recently I read an article in the York U magazine (intended for the person who used to occupy my house - I did not put it back with an RTS and I suppose that's wrong, but I digress) on new research on boredom. John Eastwood and his partners after doing extensive research define boredom as "an aversive state of wanting, but being unable to engage in satisfying activity" (Perspectives on Psychological Science, September 2012). I think the key words here are of course "wanting", "unable" and "satisfying".

So my day, eventhough I accomplished quite a few things, was not ideal. I was unable to engage in what I did want because the parameters of those activities are currently not within my realm of control. So I made it through the day, and was preparing myself for an equally unsatisfying evening, until I turned on the TV.

TV watching usually comes under the category of boredom for me, but every once in a while there is something that both engages and satisfies me.  And as silly as it sounds, last night that was So You Think You Can Dance. It's amazing actually - I laughed (out loud), cried, smiled, felt passion and love, and I was inspired. My sister says we love that show so much because "We have the dance in us".

I would argue of course, we all have the dance in us. It's just a matter of tapping (pun intended) into it. And God forbid, I am going to quote Nietzche five times from a Good Reads page:
  • Without music, life would be a mistake.” 
  • “And those who were seen dancing were thought to be insane by those who could not hear the music.” 
  • “You must have chaos within you to give birth to a dancing star.” 
  • “We should consider every day lost on which we have not danced at least once.”
  • “I would believe only in a God that knows how to dance.”   
And naturally, I will point you in the direction of Joy Division's Transmission performance at the Peel Sessions (1979) which was also so beautifully re-created in the film Control. I have put in links to both. What I love about this is how Ian Curtis slowly let's the dance take him over as he moves through the song. I challenge anyone young or old to not get up and dance to this. Admittedly I used to refer to this song as "Dance to the Radio".

As we evolved to be upright, two-legged beings, it allowed us to do many great things - including waving our hands in all sorts of crazy directions, wiggling our hips, shrugging our shoulders - that's you Dad! And, if you actually watch yourself dance you can't help but exercise a smile too, unless you are practicing that sexy, smouldering come hither look, which now that I called you on it, you are going to smile the next time you try that on the dance floor!

The audition stars of So You Think You Can Dance have obviously made this a career choice, in some cases not even a choice because they know they had to abandon themselves to what they feel is their true purpose in life, and I felt inspired to do the same just watching them. Check out the auditons and stories of "BluPrint" and Tucker Knox here:

So really - watching this made my day a whole lot better and of course, I got up and danced while I was watching. It had a much greater influence on my state of mind than any glass of wine could ever, although I believe Nietzche was in favour of both! And I believe him when he says "We should consider everyday lost on which we have not danced at least once" - both in the literal sense and to experience the mind-chaos connection.

Tuesday, 4 June 2013

Beyond the Tennis Courts

It appears that I may be threading my daily jogs into my blog, but today I am actually going to speak to them directly and of course metaphorically.

I take the same route every time. Ok I switched it up once, but barely. I am not sure why I decided to make this a routine considering I don't do this when I drive to destinations of frequency. Another routine thing happens on my path - I usually, but not always, stop to walk/break at the same spot: the tennis courts.

So why is it that I stop here? One reason could be that it's my safety spot, my comfort zone, the place which beyond there is a risk of pain, heat, breathlessness, trips and falls resulting from fatigue. Another part if me is probably thinking it's time to self-reward - this is my subconscious plateau, and since I made it this far, I deserve a rest.

I am cognizant that wise ones say I should pressure myself to reach beyond the tennis courts, push my limits and set some stretch goals. It's easy to say this, but it's hard to break the habit of comfort.

There have been a few times I didn't stop. How did I do it?

I thought about something else. This seems contrary to advice that you should tense your brows with all-consuming focus and with blinders on aim for your end-point - reachable or unreachable, mental or physical. At the other end of the pendulum, yoga gurus suggest you clear you mind of all thoughts and just "be" and somehow that will prepare you to get where you want to go.

But I seemed to get farther when I just didn't think about getting farther at all, nor did I try and concentrate on breaking down the parts of my body and how they felt or how I was breathing or moving through the pain. I let my mind wander to other things, like what my next blog was going to be (so an alternative goal not related to the actual one at hand), or how beautiful the trees looked today and could they actually look different from yesterday and how would you even be able to notice that (something silly). And when I did this I found myself right out of the park, wondering how I got here, and surprised that I did.

By no means am I trying to say that you should never set goals or approach them with the intensity they deserve. And the exercise of freeing your mind is a challenge I have yet to overcome - and I am adamant that I will get there someday, as contradictory as that sounds. What I am saying is that sometimes you might find yourself beyond the tennis courts because you were dreaming of swimming in the pool.

Monday, 3 June 2013

Yoga Pants and the Quest for Eternal Youth

This morning's Lou Lou Magazine e-blast was titled: "Style gangs! Street looks to lust after". Curious, I opened it up and decided to flip through the montage of photos and ideas related to the "street"; all the while forcing myself to remember that I am 41 and not the 22 year old that Taylor Swift has recently put on a pedastal. However, I did find a pic that made me laugh and think about my recent post on PhDs and the Collective Unconcious:
If you can't see her t-shirt clearly - it says "All blogs post the same stuff". So you may be thinking - is that it for Moon Worms? Still-No. I laughed, but I am going to keep going. The picture posted in Lou Lou is of Leandre Medine who is the founder of Now that really got my interest, even more than the Kate Spade popcorn bag purse.

Before I delve into what today's Moon Worms' blog is all about (which is not a new idea I assure you), I wanted to alert you to a post on manrepeller that I loved - a tribute to the Little Prince: It's a wonderful memory read.

Manrepeller is defined on the site as this:

man·re·pell·er1[mahn-ree-peller] –noun
outfitting oneself in a sartorially offensive mode that may result in repelling members of the opposite sex. Such garments include but are not limited to harem pants, boyfriend jeans, overalls (see: human repelling), shoulder pads, full length jumpsuits, jewelry that resembles violent weaponry and clogs.

Again - I laughed heartily. And it took me back to Grade 9.

I went to an all girls school where we wore uniforms. Bland white shirts under shapeless, ugly tunics - which definitely fall into the realm of manrepellancy - although we did not wear them by choice in this case, and I should rephrase that to boyrepellancy so it is not a gross thought for you. At that point in my life, I had that horrible combination of young arrogance and boy hunger going on. As a result, I eagerly signed up for the debate team so I could argue my little heart out and meet the boy of my dreams in a suit and tie, as we often were invited to practice with brother schools prior to any tournaments.

My first debate out, the resolution went something like this (being 41 my memory is not that good anymore): All woman wear clothes for the sole purpose of attracting the opposite sex. The teams were divided so boys and girls were represented on each side. And I was assigned to the "for" or affirmative side of the debate. For the first time in my short life I was speechless and scared. How was I going to argue this? I went to an all girls school where we lived feminist pedagogy and had to pull our socks up to our knees.

I had prided myself on being able to argue anything. I was wrong and I was humbled. And it was the worst debate of my life. Of course the part that tripped me up most was the "sole" purpose. Twenty six years later, and I still can't find a way to argue that resolution well, but I have been pondering the popularity of the yoga pant.

I like to jog. I often run through the park, and I am often wearing yoga pants, eventhough I am not doing yoga. As many of you, men and women, also wear your yoga pants to the gym, the grocery store, to a nephews birthday party if it's casual. I have however noticed a pattern of response when I  wear my yoga pants compared to when I do not. During my outings, I have received comments like "you go girl" and "nice waist" (weird?) and once I actually had someone pull over in traffic, run after me and try to convince to me to go out with them.

So what is it that is so attractive other than for the wearer that they are so damn comfortable? As my friend once said before a date came over for dinner - "I might wear my yoga pants tonight cause they make my ass look so good". And there you have it. Generally yoga pants are frowned upon in the fashion world - but they cannot count as a manrepeller. Evolutionary psychologists suggest "rounded buttocks may have evolved to be a desirable trait because they provide a visual indication of the woman's youth and fertility" - Wikepedia.

My mum wears yoga pants - a lot.  And although she is no longer fertile, she still seeks to look young. And I think from a biological perspective, having not done any research whatsoever, something my Mum and I talk about all the time, is that part of us, that 15 to 25 year old part of us is still there. We defined ourselves when we were young and even though we have lost and gained other parts over the years, this part remains a strong influence. Sometimes we just want to have it balance again. We want our physical outside to match our mental inside. So don't judge those who quest to look younger. I think its less motivated by vanity than it seems. And while I'm looking 41 - sometimes I just wanna be 22!

Sunday, 2 June 2013

The Modern Love Letter?

I have many books stacked on my bedside table. There is my primary read, which gets its own spot beside the stack and is usually a novel. In the pile next to it I have a collection of writing that I will come back to over and over again. The content of this constant pile varies from philosophy to tips on how to successfully parent, but one book I return to on a regular basis is simply called: Love Letters.

The collection of letters is separated into 12 categories: Invitation, Flirtation, Intoxication, Adoration, Separation, Instruction, Reflection, Confession, About Letters, Warning, Parting, and Envoi. The first four chapters admittedly are the ones whose pages are more worn than the latter half of the book, although I have recently been reading the "About Letters" and I am finding it the best section so far.

As I experience the passion of words exchanged between well-known lovers and artists and some with whom I am not familiar, I wonder how much the art of flirtation or the depth of expression of feelings has been lost due to the instancy and expected brevity required by texting or "sexting". It also occurred to me as I explored the chapter on separation that there is not enough time to compose lengthy declarations of love considering you could easily just text "I miss you" and somehow that's good enough. Although I must say it is still better than receiving no text at all!

Imagine texting or even emailing something like this:

"My Own Beloved, if ever you should have reason to complain of me in things voluntary and possible, all other women would have a right to tread me underfoot, I should be so vile and an utterly unworthy. There is my answer to what you wrote yesterday of wishing to be better to! What could be better than lifting me from the ground and carrying me into life and the sunshine?" - Elizabeth Barrett Browning to Robert Browning, 1846

Now of course I am conscious that Ms. Barrett Browning is a poet and not likely a good representation of the masses at that time, but the point is there was some effort put into the hyperbole of her admiration.

There is also the matter of privacy that prevents us (well some of us) from writing at length or with any amount of depth even into our fantasies. The love letters in this collection are all between people who are dead. At the time there was a very low chance that these letters would have been intercepted or copied. When we text or email or message, there is always the chance that our words can be immediately forwarded or displayed for eyes that do not belong to the intended audience. At the same time they can be instantaneously deleted, never to be read again by anyone.

So what will future generations know of the modern love letter? Does it or can it even exist? I kept most of the letters my now ex-husband wrote to me in high school and university because they represent the innocence of a less complicated time in our lives, and I can re-live the idealistic sentiments of first love - my first love, not even someone else's. And I will let my children read those someday.

What will my grandchildren have to read about them and their love? Or the declarations between others? Are we only left with the sentiments expressed in the pop hits of today and how do we know they are actually talking about something real? Was Justin Bieber singing to Selena Gomez at the Bill Board awards when he sang: "Don’t be so cold, we could be fire. Tomorrow we go, let’s start tonight. You know what it’s all about"? And is that the future of my grand-daughters bedside table reading? Ew.

Saturday, 1 June 2013

Staring at a Blank Canvas

After 15 years of saying I am going to paint and 7 years after those ideas have been hibernating in some part of my brain (right side I would guess), I decided to buckle down. I found a gift certificate for Gwartzman's Art Supplies that had been stuffed in various junk drawers since 1996. Thank you to Andrea Shepley who originally gave me the certificate and to Mr. Gwartzman for honoring my ancient piece of paper (yes, it was paper, folks!)

Now its been 3 maybe 4 weeks since I have set up the easel and the canvas in my front room in front of the windows. It occupies part of the space otherwise known as the living room, where I and we (when my kids are home) do truly live most of our non-sleeping time. The living room opens to the dining room which opens to the kitchen, and is also beside the front door and front hall (also open space).

My point in giving you the layout of my flat is that I see the easel with its blank canvas staring back at me most of the day. I haven't started painting yet. Part of this has to to with me promising my first painting in years, to my sister. I wanted to paint for her, her "happy place", which turns out to be many places in Provence. Starting this is proving more difficult than I thought since it is not my happy place. Topic for another blog. And I do love Provence and the south of France as pretentious as that sounds.

Part of me thinks it also has something to do with what that blank canvas represents. Our lives are constantly changing. Sometimes it is because we choose a different direction, and sometimes it is because that path was chosen for us. Regardless, we are repeatedly given blank canvasses. And I am finding my blank canvas in its current state is beautiful to me. I realize I've been staring at it as I contemplate my next job, my next relationship, my next musing. And it's exciting. Potential is wonderful gift as it allows us to dream.

And I could make this a just a beautiful piece of art, a beautiful life, but what I want is more to make it a deep and relevant experience. So, for now I dream. I'm holding on as long as I can, until I can't. And eventually the potential of this blank canvas will burst into my next reality, and the next.

“I learned this, at least, by my experiment: that if one advances confidently in the direction of his dreams, and endeavors to live the life which he has imagined, he will meet with a success unexpected in common hours.” - Henry David Thorough