Thursday, January 5, 2017

Three Words 2017

I have had two years in a row which really tested my strength and more importantly, my resiliency. I'm so done with that. I know I am strong and I know I am resilient, and I don't need to prove it to myself or to the world. What I do need to do is stop surviving and start thriving.

A reminder of my words in 2015 - Strength, Rebuild, Whole

And my words in 2016 (which I never posted) - Create, Rebuild, Challenge

There's a lot of growing and building and working in those words, and there was in those 2 years also.

I'm tired. So this year I'm going to rely on the things that help make me so resilient. I'm going to spend more time on the good things.



Despite a challenging year in 2016 surrounded by lots of grief, I was generally a happy person. But this year I don't want to be happy despite shitty circumstances, so I'm going to focus on putting more joy into my life. I'm pretty grateful and make note of 3 things I am grateful for every day. This will continue. But I also plan to choose more places, times, experiences, even things that bring me Joy. Actively.


Which brings me to word two, Intention. This one is sort of a cheat because last year I started talking about intention a lot by the middle of the year and kept telling people it was a word I was using to guide my life. This year, I really mean it. I'm tired of letting things happen to me. I want to choose the things I do and the ways I spend my time and the people I am with. I don't want to look back on my year and think "I've been lucky to have such a great life." I want to look back and think "I created such a great life for myself."


Deepen. This is a really different idea for me. I want to deepen the relationships I have with people. Some of it is about Joy and Intention. I love my friends and family and they bring me happiness so I want to choose to be with them more to get more happiness. But from another point of view it will be a challenge and a pushback against the year I've had. In 2016 I lost a number of people to death, many close, some even closer. At no point have I thought about breaking ties with people to suffer fewer losses, though I've joked with people about it. I know that is not the healthy response to grief, but I also know it can be a natural one. I'm not leaving it to chance. I'm going to actively work against building walls to keep myself safe. I want to deepen every relationship I have. I want to be more open and vulnerable. I want to trust more in the people around me and put more of my safety, security, and happiness in their hands.

In some ways I think my words for this year don't seem like a huge leap for me, but in other ways I think they are going to be really hard work.

Wednesday, July 20, 2016

On Topless Men

Yesterday I accidentally caused a ruckus on Facebook. I shared an opinion on when and how men should go topless - which is only in private. It was a sort of random thought as I walked past a young man sitting on a coffee shop patio with his top off and on the table in front of him.

Many, many people had something to share in regards to my opinion. I love that I have such a diverse group of friends that responses varied from complete agreement to complete disagreement and that reasons included women's rights and equality, body shaming and feeling comfortable and embracing sexuality or non-sexuality.

I didn't respond much to the comments on my post. My reasons for not wanting to see men walk around public, common space topless are 1) my own and 2) longer than a Facebook reply.

But let me share with you how I've come to my opinion.

I enjoy seeing my man (imaginary as he is right now) topless, at home. That feels like something I've won. It's special. It's just for me.

This is not a modesty or prudish thing. In fact this is a prideful thing.

I am beautiful and I have a great body. I love how I look. I know what works for me. And I am proud of it. I am so proud of it, that I keep it as one of the things I can share with someone I care about. I am a gift and only certain people get to have me.

I wish more people felt this way.

I have no problem with wearing clothes which highlights our best features. If a guy thinks he has a great body and wants to highlight it, there are some great shirts which can show it off.

Skin is alluring. Showing a little is treat for others. It's a mystery. It can be a promise of more. It's a preview of what can be shared if circumstances are right. And I want to win it like a prize.

The beauty of sharing our bodies gets lost to me if it doesn't feel like something given to a person (or persons) of your choice.

I don't want to see people walking around showing what I think should be a something special for someone else to everyone on the street. Which I know does sound prudish... so maybe that's me.

And for the more superficial reasons I don't want to see guys parading around topless - most of the guys who feel comfortable doing that are not the body type that I enjoy. They are hairless, super skinny or heavily muscled. Three definite turn offs for me.

Since I've spent years saying way too much about myself online, let me let you in on one more thing about me. There is a certain way a guy's t-shirt hangs on his back, between his shoulder blades that drives me crazy every time. A man in a t-shirt which fits just right will turn me on infinitely more than any topless man ever will.

Saying that, this is only my opinion, as is everything I share on Facebook, Twitter, my podcast, basically everywhere. People can and will and most definitely should do whatever they feel comfortable doing.

But if you want my attention - keep your shirt on.

Monday, June 20, 2016

Thank you

Of course my Spotify Discover playlist today is full of songs which remind me of him. Of course it is because he was the single largest influence on my musical tastes, after my Dad.

I was just a 21 year old kid when I met him. So young, so still unsure of who I was and what I could be.

Despite being 6 years older than me he always treated me with respect, like an equal. He asked my opinions and valued them. He always gave me copies of his music and would sit and ask me to tell him what I thought of every song. I think it was only in his music he could ever be himself.

He cared too much about people's opinions. He wanted to be what people wanted him to be. He tried so hard to be what other people wanted that he got lost.

We all have a part of ourselves, a little box, which carries the words of support and love from our friends and family. We can open it up when times are bad and remember that we are loved. But he didn't have a box, he couldn't carry the love people gave him, so he needed it all the time and broke himself trying to get it.

Eventually I also wanted him to be something he could not be, and I saw him hurting himself trying to be that. I didn't want to be, but I was hurting him. I could not be one of the many reasons he had to hurt himself. So I left.

Don't get me wrong, he was also hurting me, and he was hurting a lot of other people he cared about then. It was not a good time, and I didn't get the best version of him. But he helped me find the best version of myself.

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Hard lessons

Here's a lesson I learned 5 years ago, and again last spring, and once more today in the most definitive way - you can not love a person so much they get well. No amount of love will ever help that person if they don't love themselves and if they don't think they are worth loving.

I gave love until I couldn't anymore, until I had nothing left to give and it didn't make a difference.

But I didn't ever actually stop loving and now there is nowhere for this to go anymore.

Friday, June 17, 2016

It's my writing challenge and I can change the rules if I want!

And so I did. I'm starting today rather than yesterday.

I've gotten a few suggestions from people which are fun. But I'm going to start by telling you about my mental health right now.

Many people who know me know that I deal with a pretty big depressive episode every summer and I'm well into it now.

It starts with a bang one day sometime in May usually, though this year my first indication was a couple of weeks early in April. And then the couple of bad days go and I'm better, but not as bright as I was before the bad days. I get two more really bad drops which usually last a week or two and when I recover from those I'm never as up as I was before that bout.

And then someone turns off the tap of depression and one day between September 3rd and 7th I wake up feeling fantastic and happy and like the world is in colour and I'm excited for everything coming. Just like that. Like a snap of the fingers and I'm a completely different person.

It's really kind of amazing actually.

Right now I'm 5 days into my first really bad week of the season. It starts with being irritable and not having patience with people, and becomes gut wrenching anxiety which leads to not being able to eat much because my throat just closes when I put food in my mouth and it hurts to swallow anything but liquids.

And I can spend hours sitting, staring at nothing, thinking nothing. Keeping focused on anything, to read, to speak, to write, to listen, feels like so much work.

Until yesterday I had taken a nap every day this week, not because I was tired but because I just couldn't bear to be awake anymore. Hours of this feeling is awful. If I'm asleep at least I won't feel this weight.

I feel so unlike myself when this happens.

Just the day before I woke up in a bad way I was with friends, enjoying the weather and music and food and company. And I'm so glad this episode started the day after that because I would have had such a different experience on that day.

I think about the moments when I was enjoying being where I was on Sunday, savouring the good things and I know how I would have felt having the exact same experience the next day.

Instead of savouring the good things I would have recognized how great the experience was and be sad that it would be over soon. It's such a tiny difference in attitude between enjoying a moment and being sad that a moment is passing, but for me it's like being two completely different people. And this week I woke up as the person who is always sad that every great moment is constantly passing.

I believe strongly in the value of a gratitude journal, and over the summer, when I'm at my lowest, my gratitude journal is my most important tool. It keeps me more grounded in time and reality. Right now, I am grateful for my shady backyard to work in. And I'm trying not to be sad that this afternoon is slipping away and I'm moving further away from myself.

Tuesday, June 14, 2016

Writing Challenge

Remember back when I used to write blog posts and record podcasts? Those were good times weren't they?

I've been thinking I'd like to write more often so that I can remember how to do this. I kind of feel like taking on a blogging challenge again. But I think I'll need your help.

I want to write every day for 30 days, but I want to do it BattleDecks style, or whatever the written equivalent of that is.

So I need 30 topics, or quotes, or photos or whatever so that I can write a blog post per day on whatever I've been given.

This is the only part of this challenge where I will ask you to do work. I expect to see 30 comments on this post so that I can start on Thursday and write every day until the 15th of July.

My extemporaneous writing is strictly non-fiction. Don't expect to see any wild stories here.

And go!

Monday, January 25, 2016

Writing Through my Feelings on the End of an Era (with no edits)

Our daily local newspaper announced it's shuttering today. After 149 years in print, The Guelph Mercury will end on Friday.

I've had so many thoughts come fast and furious while seeing other people's reactions, reading the press release, hearing the cries for local news.

My feelings are so complicated around this.

First, let me say, I know some very good people who lost their jobs today. In the end that is really the only thing which matters. Journalism is not a job with a lot of security nowadays, and it is a job with a glut of people competing for what's left. Guelph is also a city with an incredibly low un-employment rate, and what feels like an impossibly low selection of quality jobs. Not only did very good people lose their jobs, it's highly likely they've also lost their home because they will need to go elsewhere to work.

I think many people know my feelings around traditional media. We broke up about 6 or 7 years ago.

I started listening to podcasts in 2005. I started getting my pop culture criticism online, my news online, my education online.

In 2008 I started watching shows made exclusively for internet broadcast. I cut the cord on my cable and only in the last 2 years has network television pulled me back with superhero shows.

The Guelph Mercury is very traditional media. Just because I have (we all have really) seen the end of traditional media for years does not mean I rejoice in this. It really upsets me to see not only our local paper, but papers and broadcast news (remember CHCH friends?) all over Canada struggle and close.

After almost 200 hundred years of one model it becomes almost impossible to change. I don't think people who worked in the Mercury bullpen, or in the ad sales division even, didn't want to embrace change, but they were in an atmosphere where innovation was not encouraged.

Over the day I've seen many people suggest starting their own newspaper. I'm glad to see that so many people think that daily local news is really important for our community. But I'm also insulted on behalf of the many great journalists who have lost their job today.

The closing of the Guelph Mercury today, and the way the industry has been cutting corners for years, is not costing us access to local news. There are so many ways to get that. What we are losing is intelligent and readable analysis of what is happening in our community.

I'm all for citizen journalism, but just stating the facts is not journalism. And just sharing your opinion is also not journalism. Real journalists end up somewhere in between, taking all the facts, their opinion and the opinions of people important to the issue and helping you understand all the sides.

I'm not happy today at one more death in traditional media. And I'm not happy that yet again a valuable resource can't adapt to the new atmosphere.

The world doesn't change in one day, it's through little events over the course of years, until you turn around and realize nothing around you is the same as it was before. But for those few who keep moving forward without looking around, it comes as a huge shock when you realize you don't fit here anymore. And that's what is happening to traditional media right now.