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To Be Fearless

I struggled with posting this…it’s super personal so maybe I ought to keep it in my journal and locked away. But I feel so fucking tired and maybe a rant is what it needs to become. With all the terrible things I read on social media, it is more important than ever to be open and at least start a conversation. A conversation on fear, self doubt, and even assault. A conversation that some day I will have with my daughter because I don’t want her to face the walls that I have stood in front of with no way to climb over them.

This morning Wren had a nightmare, crawled into bed with me, and immediately fell into a deep and peaceful sleep within seconds. I watched her and thought to myself, imagine being a 5 year old with zero fucks given about the world they live in besides eating copious amounts of cereal and watching Spongebob? Imagine being a fearless adult woman?

Wren has that personality that people notice…

Bold
Crazy
Fun
Wild
Strong willed (stubborn as shit)
And fearless

I think about her and myself and how different we are, well in some ways, but according to my mom I was exactly like her once. Covered in dirt at the park, wild hair, chugging down gravel driveways on my knees or plunging down hills in my yellow egg which in hindsight most definitely wasn’t safe.

Once upon a time I was Just. Like. Her.

So I think to myself, when did I cease to be that way? When did social anxiety, self consciousness, panic attacks jump on board to ruin that amazing view at life? I definitely didn’t have fear in grade 4 when I decided I didn’t have to go to school anymore, recruited a bunch of cronies from the school yard to ‘fake’ going to school and then run over to my house to play records and dress up all day long. It all went awesome until the school called my dad and asked him where I had been all week.

I ran a parallel with Wren who in kindergarten led a bunch of kids on a hunt for an unlocked door in order to free themselves into the world! Or at least to go play in the big yard with the big kids. Later she realized that sneaking on her own under the fence was much more conducive in her success at never getting caught.

I think it started around grade 5 when my teachers thought it was an excellent and fun idea to drag me in front of the entire school to measure my gapping height as the tallest student in elementary. Nothing says awkward like watching your peers snicker in awe at your beastly body covered in stretch marks because I grew tall so fast.

It definitely festered in academia, when I got the highest award for my Halloween story in 6th grade, the winner was to be published in the paper, and I still clearly recall being so proud of it, so excited for it. But even though I had the best mark, my teacher teased me, pulled me aside and said it was never going to happen because it was too ‘graphic’. So they published a lesser story and he told me to tone it down next time.

I even recall my 8th grade history teacher who called me out in front of the whole class for getting a 100%, and why couldn’t all the other kids be like me. As per normal pre-pubescent a-holes, I was then labeled the ‘nerd’ and ostracized to the point of deliberately submitting wrong answers so I wouldn’t be the best anymore. When I look back on it, I am so angry with myself for succumbing to that fear but when you are that young, and at a new school and desperate to make friends, being smart isn’t always priority #1.

Brains aside, around that age I became painfully aware of my body. In hindsight, I was not a huge girl, but I wasn’t skinny and I felt so much shame for myself. I purposely avoided all sports and abhorred gym class which then steamrolled into my hatred of food. As a teenager I starved myself, then prayed that I could just start bulimia which would be so much easier then limiting myself. I went on every stupid diet I could, but even when I was at my skinniest, I didn’t like what I saw. I looked tired and still felt utterly ugly.

It’s been 30 years and I still have a fear of food. Some weeks are better then others and I know the way I see things isn’t right. I know I can’t breathe a word of it in front of Wren. I know it’s wrong, but like an addiction, I can’t help myself. My husband can tell me I’m lovely and I’ll say thank you, but I’ll never fully believe it.

Jumping into my 20’s I started to come into my personality, figuring out who I was, and my sexuality came into play. Maybe I could be fearless once again. I started to date, I began to feel pretty…and then I was sexually assaulted.

And even as I write that line, I don’t fully believe it was not my fault. I still think, well, maybe if I hadn’t done this, or said that, or acted like that, then maybe it wouldn’t have happened. It caused me to fear sex, to hate it, to hate my body and nearly ruined my relationship with my now husband. I hated myself as self doubt and social anxiety grabbed me by the throat. I don’t talk about it, I doubt if my family even knows about it, but it happened and it has shaped my fears and is relevant to this story.

In my 30’s, the joyous panic attacks began. Debilitating anxiety that over took me whenever I left the house. I started working for myself, hated to talk on the phone, disliked large crowds, avoided large group activities, definitely no sports for me. My comfort zone became my whole life and when I left it, I struggled.

To this day, heading to a hotel or for a vacation will always result in panic attacks and anxiety that leave me exhausted and angry. Even this past weekend, sharing a cottage, close to home, with people I consider family had me jumping up on Sunday with a fight or flight mentality. I needed to get up and launch myself into the car before my brain took over and made me sick.

You might never have seen this side of me or you might have seen too much of this side of me. I try to suck it up as best I can. I don’t want to moan and complain. I don’t want to be Debbie Downer. I hate that these things loom around me. I see women that I admire, I see my daughter and how I want to be the best teacher for her. I don’t like being these things, but they are what I am. I want to be bold, and creative and jump into things feet first, but I also believe that in order to be fearless you have to be honest, which can be the most terrifying thing of all.

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I’m So Mad

This week I am having an angst ridden week, and there are many reasons for that. And before you assume, no, it isn’t ‘that time of the month’, which makes me SO mad in itself that immediately people think that if a woman is upset, she is crazy period chick. Sigh, let me continue…

Firstly, I’m angry about Trump. I’m mad for so many reasons I can’t even go there right now. I’m angry that woman still have to have massive protests to be heard, to demand wage equally, equal rights as human fucking beings. I’m mad that men are still making decisions about our bodies. So fucking mad about that.

I’m mad that my mom likes Trump.

I’m mad that both my parents chemo schedules are so complicated and rigorous they need special calendars to keep their meds and appointments straight. I’m so mad that there isn’t a damn thing I can do to help them.

I’m mad that my kids think yelling at me all day long is acceptable. I’m mad that they have no clue how freaking lucky they are. I’m mad that my son had a mental break on the weekend. A melt down so violent that I had no idea how to handle.

I’m mad that even though I’ve been self employed for over 10 years, sacrificed work success to be a mother (which I never regret), I still feel ‘less than’ next to people with lots of money and amazing careers.

I’m mad that my daughter will start thinking about body image way too fucking young. I’m mad that every day that passes I still hate my own body.

I’m mad that I’m still shy about a book I wrote (and loved to write) because I wanted to talk about sex and not be judged because of it…but judged is exactly what people are doing.

So yeah, I’m mad.

There are so many things I can expand upon from my rant, but this post started with a specific topic in mind and so I will jump back to the whole body image thing. What pushed me to write this was my little 5 year old girl telling me she has a big belly this morning and that she shouldn’t. Which was most likely her innocent way of tell me she needs to shit, but it made me think. And get mad. My brain is on the protests, the marches, the incredible women out there fighting to be heard, and yet it ALWAYS runs right back to how we look.

I’m no different, I mean, I’ve starved myself, worked out constantly, I’ve compared myself to everyone I know, always feeling like the ‘fat’ one in the group. No matter my size, I’ve looked in the mirror daily and mostly hated what I saw. I’m not looking for sympathy, or encouragement that I look ok. It’s not about that. It’s the fact that I’m 99% sure anyone who reads this will feel the same way. Maybe not to my extent, but it’s constantly shoved down our throats that we are imperfect and need to be better. It’s constantly shoved in our faces that in order to be a success as a woman, you have to be pretty and skinny and (this one makes me so mad) quiet.

Last summer I posed a question during a girls weekend that still sits heavy with me. Let me preface that these are all beautiful women. I love each one dearly and I asked ‘What’s your favourite body part?’ So immediately they laughed at me, like the question was so ludicrous. They made jokes which we must do :)

But no one gave me an answer.

No one could think of a damn nice thing to say about their amazing bodies. Well except for the fantastic answer of ‘my vagina!’ You know who you are who said that and I love you :)

So even though I didn’t like what was in my mirror, I had an answer and none of my friends did.

So that has sat with me, and I’ve tried really hard to be less hard on myself, but it’s a daily struggle. Now, this brings me to a more current conversation that I had with my better half. His response to body image issues with women was simply this and I would assume that a lot of guys would agree with him.

‘You could weigh 40 pounds more then you do right now, if you still wanted to have sex with me and show off your body, that would be incredibly sexy and I would still find you amazing’

So I thought about that a million times since then. The media is one thing, stop looking at it, it’s toxic…seeing yourself the way others see you and actually believing it, is absofuckinglutely the hardest thing you can do, but you must try. For the sake of this next generation of kids who look to us, we have to figure this shit out, and stop being so fucking hard on ourselves.

In February, a doc called Embrace is coming to iTunes Canada, and I think it’s worth a watch for all of us. The trailer resonates with me unbelievably. So while I feel less angry after writing this (whew) what matters above all the hate I feel about the world, is making sure my kids don’t feel the same way I do when they grow into themselves. I’m still not sure how to do this, but I will always be trying.

Ok rant over, thanks for listening :)

PS. In case you were curious to know my answer for my fav body part? Obviously it was my hair :) and my butt in jeans :)

 

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How do you Curate with Minimalism?

Wow that intro title sounds super complicated. Let me back track. So on the weekend I watched the doc called Minimalism on Netflix which has been recommended many times over and I was struck. Struck with so many ideas and answers to my long internal debate over my living situation.

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My wee house is just that, so we’ve toyed with ideas over expanding, building back and down. A basement and a large back room with vaulted ceilings, huge windows and my only wish list item – a scandi style fireplace in the middle of the room. Sounds great right? Well let me stop you there. It’s expensive. Big time expensive. It will disrupt our lives for an extended period of time and I work from home. There are a lot of negatives but we made the decision to start on it this year.

Until last weekend.

When I watched the doc they touched on a study of how much of your home you actually use…

40%…yes you heard me. I mean, that is like half your house. So when I thought about our new living space, and how it would be used, I really feel that it would become simply a grand room you pass through to get outside. Our kitchen is way smaller then our living room which sits right beside it and NO ONE ever goes into the living room unless they are watching TV and when you are entertaining, NO ONE walks past that line. It’s like an invisible wall separating the two.

Honestly, my footprint in this house is my kitchen and my bedroom and a small corner for my office. My kids hate going upstairs so they are in the living room always. Troy tries to escape us all and spends all his time at work…lucky guy…

I know for a fact that people will still converge around the peninsula, and that is where they will stay no matter how large the house becomes. From May until October we have options of hanging out in the bunkie which is my favourite place to be, the hot tub or back deck. Or we can meander to Chez Ivison next door for a swim. Our great back yard is our little private forest and we love it. It’s only the winter months that we struggle.

So on that note we made the final decision not to expand. I do not want to be ruled by a house and things and once we made that decision a huge weight was lifted off my shoulders. If I expanded I’d have to decorate, buy more stuff which is exactly what I want to avoid. Getting back to minimalism, the whole concept of buying only what you use. How many t-shirts does one need? How many bottles of shampoo? How many dishes? Cups? Why do I have an entire bin of light bulbs taking up valuable shelf space when I haven’t changed a light bulb in god knows how long.

I love this explanation of the concept:

Freedom from the trappings of the consumer culture we’ve built our lives around. Real freedom.

That doesn’t mean there’s anything inherently wrong with owning material possessions. Today’s problem seems to be the meaning we assign to our stuff: we tend to give too much meaning to our things, often forsaking our health, our relationships, our passions, our personal growth, and our desire to contribute beyond ourselves. (Joshua Fields Millburn & Ryan Nicodemus)

So on that thought, we have a small space yes, but we love it. I don’t want another room to clean, I want to sit outside on my ass and read a book in my hammock. I don’t want to go into debt over one extra room and sacrifice finally taking my kids to Europe. I don’t want to be 65 with a house full of shit that I have to stay home and clean and maintain. I want to be free of all of this.

So we made a few plans.

I get my wood stove, we fix the floors finally, we remove everything we don’t use daily, and reconfigure each living space we have to be highly functional and free of crap.

Sounds simple right? But how do you let go of all the kids art you’ve kept? How do you pare down your favourite book collection? How many sheets does one really need? That quilt you got as a gift – how do you part with it? That’s when you start to doubt your decisions. You think maybe I should keep that extra 5 sweaters just in case you feel like wearing them twice a year. That just in case will kill the project.

The whole concept of minimalism I’m on board with. I don’t want excess. I want life to be simple and open for experiences and not stuff. I’ve always felt this, but the issue is how far one goes in this. It’s a completely personal choice and I love to decorate so I won’t ever be that ‘one chair in a room’ type person and that’s ok. It doesn’t mean I’m cheating or not living simply.

This morning a good friend nailed my personality to a tee. She was inspired by me because I curate my house to satisfy my need for visual inspiration.

Another friend always does a walk through of my house when she visits to see ‘what’s changed’ and it’s true, I am constantly evolving my surroundings. I work in my living room and need that constant adjustment to keep me sane.

So I need to find that balance. To keep what’s important to me, but let go of all the rest. If I buy something new, it has to have a purpose, or it has to replace something that I want to change. I will focus on quality clothes and ditch the ‘just in case’ wardrobe. I always tell my mom you don’t need a physical reminder to keep a memory alive. Keeping a picture you want to display on your wall is great. But perhaps you can get rid of that dish that Aunt Flo gave you 30 years ago that you never use.

Keep your footprint small, simple. Don’t buy that fancy car because your friends have one. Own the beauty of a car that is paid off even if you have to start it in neutral…it builds character! My kids don’t need an ipad, they need to learn how to climb a tree, and build a kick ass blanket fort. We surely would love a second bathroom…obviously…but my parents grew up with an outhouse so I think we’ll survive. I mean, 50% of our house pees outside in the summer anyways so who cares.

So there’s my new years social rant. Blah, do what you want with it :) Anyone want a bunch of furniture?

 

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Live your Dream! Or don’t…who cares

So the other day I read an interview and I can’t even recall where I read it, which I apologize for as it has stayed in my brain for days and this person deserves a shout out :) Regardless it was about following your passion. I typically don’t write about this stuff as I am no expert and I don’t want to sound hokey…I prefer to bitch and moan and make the odd person laugh at the ridiculousness of my life. But today I felt inspired and I haven’t blogged in so long so it brings me full circle back to one of my own passions. Writing.

The quote was a simple one: If you think about your passion every single day then you should never let it go. Never let it die. Never.

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Simple right? Simple but not always easy with the follow through. Kids, work, social lives, yard work (RAKING IS MY NEMESIS), house work, yard work (ugh), laundry, crafting Halloween costumes, trying to keep up with the school schedule, yard work (the worst), trying to keep up with some sort of personal workout, keeping up in general … I mean, I pretty much sit on the precipice of ‘failing miserably’ most days.

This past weekend, according to my mum, I should have a scrubber on hand at all times in this house (and javex, and lysol, and sponges, and comet) and I didn’t and I’m thinking holy shit, I can’t even keep general cleaning supplies on hand! I had to throw that joke in there for her … and Kristin :)

Nailed it.

OK, so that aside, let’s get back to your passion project. Hard (impossible some days) to keep that up when you have a life to manage and money to make, right? I’m constantly in awe of those people who pop their kids to bed and write the next best novel all night long. Or work double, and triple, and quadruple time to build their business. It’s unbelievably daunting and I have my own business! I’ve built it to the point that I can manage fitting it in during the school day but once I get those kids, feed them, play with them, organize the school shit for the next day, I’m toast. My success is great for the lack of initiative I have, I’m so very lucky to have this life, but it’s still missing something.

That fucking passion project.

So what do you do? How do you be the person you want to be, put your own dreams first, or basically do anything in the slightest to fulfill your goal when all you want to do is lay in bed, read slutty books or binge watch Misfits on Netflix (I ADORE ROBERT SHEEHAN).

I have no fucking clue.

But still, I hold on to that passion. I haven’t let it go for 8 years. I’ve written almost 3 books which is sad over that amount of time, but I guess it’s a start. And then I think of all the other things I want to do and I tell myself, you are no Printemps Poulet, you need to start this shit before you get too old!

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I guess the fact remains that it’s been 8 years and I’m still doing it, that’s something I suppose. I get a high every time I write a great scene, I’m super pumped about finishing this last one, and still, I’m messing with my concept for my NaNoWriMo project (writing 50,000 words in November). It’s there and it makes me so happy when I actually get a chance to do it. Even this morning, I’m pumped to write a blog, it’s been forever! But let’s not stop there.

I want to learn to play guitar – there I said it. My lovely friend Kristin, has graciously cornered a local girl after a workout class and pressured her to take on a number of us for a class this winter. So I guess sharing your passion is key as well. Get others working with you to follow through.

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this is mine!

I also want to make t-shirts, like all the other zillion people in the world, I know. But I don’t want to make a million bucks or sell them anywhere. I just want to make my own wardrobe of inappropriate sayings on a t-shirt and then make them for my friends. Valid passion right? It’s very important I do this, so on to buying the press … Christmas Troy?

So my thoughts are this. Don’t get bogged down with the whole passion project. Don’t feel pressure. Don’t worry about it. Don’t feel like a failure if it takes you 7 years to learn to paint, or 25 to become a black belt. As long as you are alive, and not letting it go, that passion is yours and yours alone and no one can ever take that from you.

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Hunkering is Almost a Good Thing

I’ve not written in so long, I have no idea where to begin. I wanted to touch on my trip to Cleveland in August – the most magical city ever (no i’m not kidding!), back to school drama, my dance mom induction, so so much to say. And so I’ve put off posting in order to gather my thoughts and write something good and interesting but time is slipping and I’ve not written anything in so long I feel massive guilt and also like I’ve had to shut down that creative side of myself which is likened to a phantom limb, but perhaps that’s a tab dramatic so I’ll get to the point and stop talking about nothing.

I’ll start this post with saying it’s been an expensive summer. LOTS of outings, gathering, hosting large groups, a few flights out east, some ball games, a trip to magical Cleveland, visits to breweries, Sunday ball team shenanigans, I mean, I feel a little drunk thinking about the summer but you know I don’t feel bad for any of it. We decided in April when my mom’s health took a bad turn that we were going to do whatever we wanted this summer and suffer the consequence in September. That being said, we didn’t go into debt or anything but man oh man, there was no saving going on.

And so as September started we began the Hogan Hunker. Our friends coined the ‘hunkering’ term a number of years ago which basically means you buy only essentials and the cheap wine which let’s be honest, that’s the hard part. Back to Carling light and the dreaded drug store hair products. That was a hard one for me obviously.

Regardless, we jumped into September with the whole family on board, it’s time to HUNKER kids – yay! Wren is oblivious to money so really she was a non issue. Finn on the other hand was, to put it mildly, devastated. He spent 3 weeks this summer in PEI basically cleaning up every dollar store he could find, trapsing home with a suitcase full of garbage, so I put my foot down. NO MORE. No more useless spending on dumb things that break in seconds. Nope, September meant even HE couldn’t spend his allowance, and we could not, as a family, buy anything personal. No clothes, shoes, back to school shit. Nope. Hunkering.

We do this from time to time and I have to admit, I secretly love the challenge. I find myself moving things around my house and using them in new ways for a fresh take on an old item. I clean out my clothes closet, remove the junk I don’t wear and search out old accessories that I haven’t worn in awhile, trying out new things with them. September is also a great month to hunker as you can unearth all the fall shoes, sweaters and wraps that have spent the summer in the back recesses of your closet. It’s like you get a whole new wardrobe for free!

I also enjoy watching fashion vlogs to get ideas on new looks that I could achieve with my old clothes (I love this girl Jenn’s style!). I think it makes you see what you have with new eyes. Eyes that don’t continually search for things to buy buy buy.

It’s a great lesson for the kids, well except for the one blow out with Finn who walked off the bus in tears, chucking his scholastic book order forms for September with an exasperated ‘WHAT’S THE POINT! WE’RE HUNKERING! I CAN’T EVEN BUY BOOKS!’, flinging them at my face.

We live in such a consumeristic world, it is hard to hunker, I won’t lie. But it also forces us to realize how much we do have and how much we spend on useless crap that ends up in the diabetes donation bags anyways. I also discovered the Kid’s Closet second hand store scooping up all of Wrens dance shoes for like 4.00 bucks a pop.

I did not buy back to school clothes for the kids, no new lunch bags and Finn is perfectly happy trudging to the bus with an old Magna backpack from Troy’s work. Who says we need to buy hundreds of dollars of clothes in September? My kids didn’t give a crap what they wore on the first day of school. I know that will change, but for now, why indulge in a tradition that isn’t necessary?

So as September winds down, Finn has been asking when October begins with an allowance savings that is burning a hole in his pocket. I have banned dollar store stuff for awhile but I will take him out on Saturday to spend a little cash. He deserves it. He put in the work. As for me, I just might have to invest in some good wine as I head into a weekend with Troy out of town. With all the hunkering as well as a single parent weekend, I think I deserve it too.

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