Wednesday, April 12, 2017

Dear daughter,

I always want you to feel like, in general, the human race is good and our drive is to become better. However, I would be doing you a great disservice if I did not point out where we need improvement. At this time in your life, when your body is in metamorphosis you are vulnerable to the persuasion of companies who profit off  your insecurities about your body.  They do it  by creating a feeling that you are not good enough and more recently, by using advertising campaigns whose purpose is to give some of the empowerment you will crave after believing you are not good enough.

You are my beautiful, smart, joyful girl, who is capable of amazing things, but unfortunately,
to corporations you are not a multidimensional human being with feelings, you are a consumer. Essentially, you are someone they can target and make money from. I give to you the commercial that had a very young me pinching my sides and being dissatisfied with my appearance, wishing I could just cut into my hips take out inches of skin and sew the sides back together.  This is Kellogg's "Can't pinch an inch" marketing scheme:


Now 30 years later, after profiting off of the idea that women should be slim, effectively teaching young women that their "inches" were undesirable, Kellogg's has decided to jump on the positive body image band wagon.







Kellogg's literally contributed to the very body issues that they are describing in this video. They made money putting women down, now they are making money building us back up.  At least they are bringing us back up right?  This is where social responsibility comes in.  Has Kellogg's formally taken responsibility for it's contribution to body image issues? I went to investigate their website myself. Though they discussed accountability and integrity under the heading of "Our Values", I searched the website and did not see an official statement, apologetic or otherwise about their "Can't Pinch an Inch" campaign.  If the company can't admit to their responsibility for harm done, they lack both integrity and accountability and really are just in it for your money.

Dove's Real Beauty campaign:



 Did you notice the women burning their bras?  This was a demonstration done by feminists, is has actually become iconic of feminism. In fact a slang term for the word feminist is "bra burner."Dove literally used feminism to sell their product and market themselves to feminists. However, the advertisement calling for models for this campaign had unrealistic expectations for women in their
commercials and photo shoots.  Flawless skin was just one of the perfections the models were
expected to have, nymag.com reported during the peak of the campaign in 2010. http://nymag.com/thecut/2010/06/dove_seeks_women_with_flawless.html   

So how can you be sure that you are purchasing from companies who aren't trying to profit from your insecurities?  You could buy as local as possible from small companies who don't run large advertising campaigns...  But more importantly, before you buy these products you could ask yourself: Am I buying this because I feel like I am not good enough with out it? Or am I buying it because it helps me celebrate the things I love about myself?  If your answer is the first one, you don't need it, take time before buying it to realize that you are whole and beautiful without it. If it's the second answer, then go ahead, but ask yourself first: is there an amazing experience I'd rather be spending this money on?

If you ever do find yourself in front of a mirror critiquing your body, please remember, that these negative voices in your head telling you that you are not good enough, were put there by thousands of images made by companies that need you to buy your beauty. I give you full permission to tell  those voices and the companies responsible for them to go f$ck themselves.

Love,
Mom




Monday, March 20, 2017

Porcelain

It's 4:30 am.  I have awoken from a dream.  My eyes opened with a sinking sadness. A feeling of deep loss.  In my dream, I was packing my little girl's dolls into a bin and thinking about which one's she would like to keep to rediscover when she was an adult.  Would it be the flashy porcelain ones, or the ones she played with til they were worn?  All the while, the room around me morphed into my childhood bedroom.

This day of packing away dolls is not so far away.  The knowledge that I have been taking our time together for granted is sharp in the pre-dawn darkness.  I have a little girl who writes me emails telling me that she misses me, thanking me for hanging out with her and trying to make plans.  Here I am spending hours talking online with people, who I don't doubt love me, but will never love me like she does.  They don't need me like she does.

I'm not one to sit in these discoveries of sadness and guilt.  I am not one who believes that feeling bad about something is a good for motivation. I used to, but then I spent too much time feeling guilty and not enough time fixing things to move on.

As mentioned, we email eachother, I will set aside time to do that more often. The warm weather is coming and I'd like to go hiking with her again.  I used to read to them... But now I wonder is she too old for this?  Has something else slipped through my fingers without me noticing?

Perhaps I should just ask her what she would like to do (what a novel idea).

The 4am wake up call of despair, ugh.  It happens to the most resilient of us.

It's times like this that I am tempted to take her from her bed and lie her down next to me and hold her little hand (now almost the same size as mine) as she dozes off.  Perhaps I will.

Every step begins with now.




Tuesday, March 14, 2017

Think Again and Again

So I thought I was good, but apparently passing someone on the street is not the same as being in an enclosed space with them, where they are between you and the door.

When I recognized him, I tried to shrug it off. But my insides began to shake.  I focused on my homework, but nothing would stick.  I was sweating profusely.  I felt incredibly alone, I got dizzy my hand tremors were making my writing illegible.

I want to make something VERY clear. I don't think he will talk to me.  Not only because of legal repercussions, but because I'm pretty sure he'd just rather move on. Logically, I know I am in not in any danger.  But when your body is used to acting a certain way around someone, it doesn't listen to logic.

It took me 20 minutes to realize that I don't have to feel this way alone. I messaged a good friend, just to share my feelings.  She asked me if I knew anyone there.  I knew one girl and one of the servers.  So I got up on my shakey legs walked over and asked if I could sit with her.
"My ex is here, and I'm scared of him. He won't do anything."
"Yes, of course you can sit with us."

I went back and clumsily packed up my school stuff.  I left my tea dishes behind. Then sat with her and her friends.  I attempted to make conversation, but it was obvious my mind was elsewhere, none the less, I felt safer and I am grateful for that.
The server I knew approached me.
"Sorry I left my tea stuff there... I just wanted to get out of the vicinity."
He looked at me and nodded slowly: "I know."  There was a lot of compassion in his voice. I nearly cried.

(Why do I cry when someone is nice to me in a stressful situation?)

Anyways, he left and I walked home on two fairly strong legs, which means I composed myself.  All the while I tried to take my power back. My thought process went like this:

You were disabled and unemployed with two children and you still left him.
He is aware that you chose to face the risk of poverty and homelessness rather than to continue living with him.
You left even though you still loved him.
You stated healthy boundaries and when he didn't respect them, you created more and when he pushed those ones, you enforced them legally.
Your children thanked you for leaving.  They thanked you for ending contact. This alone proves you did the right thing.

You are not a victim.  You are a fuckng powerhouse of a woman who can come back from anything.

It is him that should feel uncomfortable in your presence, not the other way around.  (Not that I would wish what I felt on anyone else) but really, looking at it this way:

Why am I scared of him?




Sunday, March 12, 2017

Focus/unfocus

I got my high school records today in the mail... It's bad.  I totally forgot how much I slacked.  That said it had been a rough two years physically and emotionally.  I may need to change my plans for going to school in September. I only need 2 electives for my OSSD, no big deal, I could have those by the end of May.  But, my maths... Yikes.  My last English class was alright, but the one before it I skimmed by.  I may need to do some upgrading.  I'll be calling Georgian to ask them what they think. That said, there is a certificate offered by The Beryl Institute for Patient Advocacy that I'm interested in getting and it is necessary for my profession.  There's also several online communication courses I think I would benefit from, such as dealing with difficult people and group dynamics.  I could be doing these while upgrading my English and math.

A couple of years ago, I would be panicking right now.  I would be so focussed on only one way of doing things that I would feel like I failed if it didn't turn out the way I wanted.  Whereas now I see it as an opportunity to explore options. Which I'm pretty excited about.  I've wanted to volunteer at hospice for awhile. I also wanted to get my CPR and First Aid certification and I was feeling a little overwhelmed at the idea of trying to fit in these courses while attending full time school.  I might be able to spend the next year and a half fully exploring online edication as well as getting hands on experience, then deciding a different college program may better suit my needs.

I have realized that with a simple shift of perspective, road blocks become an opportunity to do some off-road exploring, rather than a reason to turn around and go back.

Monday, February 27, 2017

Single or Satisfied?

I like being single.  I don't even really think about the fact I'm single anymore, despite what my Facebook  #reasonsImsingle diatribe may have given the impression of.  Though it was really just a celebration of my oddness, but I digress.

Here are the things that I am thinking about instead: What do I want to do in life and how am I going to get there?  I'm taking online courses, going back to school and planning for full-time college in the Fall. My health has become a priority as well so daily exercise is taking up at least 30 minutes a day.  Creating healthy meals also fills my mind, so I'm focussing on the nutritional value of foods. I want to be able to handle the stress of school, so I'm meditating every night.
My kids are getting older, taking time to play cards games and go on walks with them is a priority. I enjoy creating, so I purchased a ukulele and I "jam" along to my tunes with it.  I jump on my son's mini drum set and practise basic rock beats to rebuild my motor skills after years of poor neuro function. I get together with good friends; we talk, we joke, we have deep philosophical discussions, we listen, we support, sometimes we play music. I believe in every voice counting, on social media and otherwise, so I read, post and comment on social justice issues.

Every two weeks or so, I go out and do something fun with someone I find attractive that I don't know very well.  Not dates per se, just enjoying their presence, getting to know them. These are potentially good friends and I don't mind riding that line until they (or I) decide otherwise.

I'm not really looking for a relationship.

I know, pretty cliche. I'm sure some singles are sick of hearing it.  However, in order for me to be willing to commit a specific amount of time and emotional energy, it has to feel GOOD.
I think it can be described in this way:
When I see them I genuinely feel a rush of happiness and warmth. Then as we are hanging out I feel a level of comfort comparable to when I take my bra off at the end of the day. When they touch me... Well this isn't my sex blog so I'll leave that part out.

This GOOD feeling doesn't happen overnight and I don't have large amounts of time/energy to build that with someone at the moment.  I do, however, enjoy a different types of relationships (when I say relationships, I'm referring to the way two people relate to one another, not the traditional romantic perspective).  The ones from afar, where the person is just as unable to commit as you are.  There's getting to know them, no pressure, no expectations, no intentions other than communicating to share because you both honestly enjoy it.  These are becoming my favourite.  When your visions of the future don't currently include a serious romantic partnership, it's nice to have others around you who are on the same wavelength.

When I was 13, someone asked me how I saw my future.  I told them I would be living in a small cabin on a lake, writing everyday. There was no husband or wife in that vision.  I see now that this was a unique mindset for an adolescent girl and I am happy for it, it means that I saw myself as completely content as a single adult.  Here I am, just that.

Monday, February 20, 2017

Don't Feed the Fear

I'm nervous about my neuro consult tomorrow.  I know that there is nothing seriously wrong with me, that my condition is not fatal, it is however, affecting my quality of life.  We grew up being told not to waste the doctor's time.
Don't go to the doctor unless it is really bad.
Our parents wore the badge of suffering like it was the Purple Heart. They prided themselves on not being a drain on the system.  Time and time again, we hear the diagnoses of 3rd and 4th stage cancer, if only we caught it sooner...
But we don't learn.
Socialized healthcare seen as a free hand-out and it is rude to take advantage of something given freely.
It is wrong to accept help before you are damn near dead from trying to do it yourself.
We have such a diseased view of our "health" care system's role,
that the symptoms are killing us.
It's the night before my appointment
Those voices are trying to tell me that I'm taking up time that a sicker person could have.
Scenarios of my symptoms being brushed off as not serious enough to look into are circling like vultures.
Having to tell someone why I deserve a higher quality of life, not just a passable existence until my body develops something that could actually end said passable existence before we do anything about it, sucks.
(That was a super long sentence, I don't care. In the words of my friend Jacob Kriger: Deal with it.)
I'm not dying, I'm getting better.
I want help continuing to get better.
I deserve the chance to live a realitively normal life.
I want to be able to work more than 20 hours a week without getting migraines as a result,
or at least have a medication that will actually treat the migraines, and allow me to function at the same time.
I want to not have to leave work early because I can't speak, type or walk straight.
I want to be able to go to school to get a job that I could only work 20 hour weeks if necessary for my health and still not live under the poverty line.
What a line to draw in the sand it is simply to state:
Because I deserve to feel better.

Monday, February 13, 2017

It's Just a Dance

My daughter came to me the other day and told me she was excited because she asked one of her crushes (that's right, she's keeping her options open) to the Valentine's dance and he said "Sure, why not."

Granted the acceptance was a little lacklustre for my taste, but here's the thing: she approached him. My 11 year old, usually very shy, daughter mustered up the confidence to ask out a boy she liked.

Today, after discussing her outfit options for the dance, she mentioned she was going with her friend, not her crush.  "Oh, why aren't you going with him anymore." I enquired.
"He told me he wanted to go with someone he had a crush on." She said with a non chalant shrug.  I was like, "Oh, honey, I'm sorry." And I felt that familiar adolescent heart ache of the unrequited (not that that feeling is reserved for adolescents, but I digress).  Though watching her body language I could tell this was not a big deal to her.  She was perfectly fine and didn't seem to take it personally at all.
"It's okay, I'm going with so and so, she's my friend and she was going to be the third wheel, and now she's not."

I have succeeded in raising an adolescent girl who doesn't place her self-worth on wether or not a boy likes her back.  Holy shit.  That's the parenting mother-load right fucking there.

Sometimes it's important to pat yourself on the back.

Now, to help her maintain that self confidence and independence over the next 7 years.  I got this.