Monthly Archives: July 2010

Are YOU talking about ME?

I’m 30 and at work. The door at the end of the long corridor is closed, darkening the hallway and casting shadows where the high-noon light would otherwise bring warmth and the expected. Today, however, the scene is foreboding. Inside the sealed office, there are two, maybe three people and I can hear their muffled voices through the weight of the commercial office doors. I lighten my step as I walk by, walking on tippy toes so the heels of my stilettos don’t give me away. I slow my pace to a near stop, linger for a moment or two longer than I should and then realize that the risk of the door flying open and someone catching me is enough to make the world start to spin and me to reach for the nearest wall for balance. With disappointment, I quickly move on.

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I’m 19 and at a party, surrounding by friends and acquaintances, drinking my cranberry juice and 7-UP. Two friends huddle in the corner for an intense discussion. Her twirling her hair with curiosity, and him with raised eye brows, making grand gestures for what appears to be an animated delivery of a secret collection of thoughts. I hover near the food table, grazing, over eating, convincing myself that each bite will be my last of the night. I eat only soft food – cheese, mostly – as crunching impacts my ability to eavesdrop. From time to time, the friends look my way (although never directly at me), generally smiling politely, then turning to one another and throwing their heads back with laughter. This time I reach for the Brie. Higher fat content.

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I’m nine, maybe ten, and awkward. My, then-thick, locks, always seem to be matted and nappy. I look at my hands and realize that yet again I have chewed my nails ragged, bits of skin hang off the sides and around the cuticles. I’m wearing Mexx or Esprit, something that was all the rage those days. But the fashionability of my wardrobe is overshadowed by my rolly poly mid-section, my over-blossoming bosom, my cheese-induced (there’s that food product again) behind, and the nervous sweat that always seems to make itself known in all the wrong places. But, amidst all that, I was still a positive, happy little girl, laughing boisterously, always eager to pass along an encouraging word…or answer the teacher’s question. In short, I was Little Miss Sunshine before Hollywood had ever embraced her. Today, my “gang” of girls are meeting behind the book shelf. I sit alone at our collection of tables, waiting for the outcome of their discussions. It’s rarely in my favour.

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After school lesson of these three scenarios: if you’re not talking to me, I ALWAYS think you’re talking about me. No, really. A-L-W-A-Y-S. Oh, yeah, and I always assume it’s bad. Especially when the door is closed. And I’m generally panicked and always uncomfortable by your flapping lips, flailing hands and misguided glances. Can you people not keep your eyes to yourself? Looking my way as I stare a hole through the front, back, or side of your head, desperately wondering if somehow the topic of Wee C has made its way into your discussion about nuclear warfare or sustainable farming, DOES NOT HELP.

Self-centered, you say? Yeah, uh huh it is. I’d be stupid to argue with you…you’d probably just go talk about me to someone else. Irrational? Yup, it’s that too. But a well-entrenched part of my personality and life? Boy is it ever. And no matter how much older and more settled I get, I’m still convinced that every move I make, every article of clothing I put on, every decision I make, is being scrutinized and ridiculed, regardless of how much you love me or how little you may know me.

And you would be amazed how often this foolish hangup appears in my life. At the beach, I figure everyone (including the 300 lb woman bathing topless) thinks I’m too flabby to wear a bikini. In the coffee shop, I suspect you are rolling your eyes thinking that my cappuccino, with its 1/3 milk, 1/3 foam and 1/3 espresso, is high-maintenance. At work, who knows what you think…either that I’m too professional and uptight or I’m not nearly enough. In a public washroom, I might make a stink and you might think I’m gross…as if I’m the only human being in the world that has this bodily function. So, if you can believe it, I just hold it. I HOLD IT! No friggin’ wonder my stomach revolts against me and makes me want to curl up in the fetal from the agony it inflicts. No friggin’ wonder.

Oh, in the past year, I’ve come a long way, baby. And I’m mighty proud of myself. But this little hangup? I’m just scratching the surface of all the crazy I’ve got stored up with this one. So for now, I’ll just assume that once you’ve read this post, you’ll shake your head and say something like “Boy that Wee C needs to get a grip”. And really, you might as well say it, because just like I shove cheese into my own mouth, I’m going to put the words into yours.

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Opening the Kimono

– Contributed by Wee C

Growing up the daughter of an RCMP officer would lead you to believe that the odds of being well-adjusted and generally stable, with a surprisingly low desire to challenge authority, would be about as possible as Paris Hilton spawning the next Einstein. Police officers’ children, ministers’ kids…we’re all known to suffer the same plight in life: throw your respective parental unit’s career choice in their face, get arrested for drinking underage at 16, get pregnant (or impregnate someone) at 17 and leave home in a torrent fit at 18. A bit of a mass overgeneralization? Hardly. Which is why I’m sure you’ll stop everything you’re doing in shock when I tell you that I didn’t do any of those things. Really. Believe it.

No, I grew up as respectful of my parents as ANYONE I know. And I don’t know one soul who would argue that point. I can’t recall a single knock ’em down, drag ’em out fight with my parents. Oh, sure, there were a couple of tiffs, but nothing monumental or memorable. I can count on three fingers the number of times I disobeyed my parents – and they likely involved staying out an hour past curfew, not calling when I said I would, or sneaking down the road to play Barbies with the older girls. Send me to Juevi, I know. I didn’t drink, party or have sex in high school (or most of university for that matter). And I did my best nearly every hour of every day to behave in a manner that my parents would find acceptable and approve of…after all, Papa O had made it clear (not oppressively, just in his eternal wisdom) that my behaviour reflected on him, so act accordingly. I loved and respected him (ok, and feared just a little bit…have you heard a Mountie voice?!), and Mama O, too darned much to tarnish their personas.

But perhaps most noteworthy is the number of secrets I haven’t kept from my parents. Mama O always told me that if I lied, she would find out. Every mother tells their kid that. But unlike every other kid, I BELIEVED MY MOTHER?! So, like a good doobie, I diligently told my mother nearly everyone of my deep dark secrets (because there were oh-so-many of them). But not begrudgingly or with disdain – although, I won’t lie, my guilt complex was often a less-than-altruistic motivator – but because I genuinely wanted to share my life with my parents. I wanted them to know when I had screwed up, because I wanted their advice about how to fix it. I wanted them to know when I had behaved outside of the lines, because I was scared to death someone else would tell them…and because being honest had always earned me a lot more privilege than lying ever did. I wanted to tell them because they’re the first people I always want to laugh at myself with, even if it is because of something they wouldn’t necessarily approve of. And because no matter what, I always knew that they would quickly forgive, nearly immediately forget, and always be proud, even in my stupidest of moments.

So it’s amazing to me that it took me nearly four months to tell them about this blog. On it, I’ve opened the kimono (figuratively and literally) on my life. I’ve shared with total and complete strangers, as well as some of my dearest friends, the most personal and exposing thoughts I’ve had. And I’ve literally transformed my life and found a passion outside of work that I didn’t know could even be found…at least not for me. And, yet, for some reason, I didn’t tell the two people that I’ve always told everything to. Not because I didn’t want to. Because that’s not true at all; I desperately wanted to tell them. But because I feared the embarrassment I would bring them. Not surprisingly, my parents are reasonably private folks; you don’t share many secrets or expose much of yourself to others when you’re in the RCMP or are a family member of someone who is…it’s a wee bit risky, really. I also feared that they would think I had become someone totally different; someone who goes to strip clubs, gambles, parties until all hours of the morning, and takes off all but their skivvies to have their picture taken. Oh, wait, what?

Here’s the wild thing about blogging. Sometimes people read your crazy foolishness. Sometimes they tell other people. And sometimes, when the world seems to be falling off its axis, people get really excited about what you’re writing and saying. Yeah, that seems to be happening with this little project that Big L and I have undertaken. So my nerves were getting a little testy as the risk of someone else telling my parents about my rendezvous with Mr. Ralph and his bevy of beauties, before I did.

So I spilled. I spilled in true Wee C form, standing in my parents’ kitchen, confessing everything I could as fast as I could get the words out of my mouth, rationalizing, explaining, and where necessary, apologizing, for every nuance of my behaviour and choices. Not that Mama O gave me any indication of being upset, but because I had made all kinds of possible responses up in my head. And, like always, none of my crazy made-up scenarios (you know, the one’s that you concoct in the mirror when you’re pretending to talk to the other person…) came true.

Instead, as Mama O has always done, she patiently asked questions in order to collect all the pieces of information. She neutrally digested. Warmly nodded. And then asked for the link. She was proud of me. That is unless I allowed someone to post my Boudoir photos publicly on the Internet. Probably wouldn’t be so proud then. She and Papa O have shared the link, told others and cheered me on. As always, they’ve fueled my fire.

Amazingly, I did 30 Things to change my life, but it wasn’t until I did the 31st that the change became real and authentic. I’m not sure why I’m so surprised…my Mama saw me with my kimono opened long before I even knew that you should be embarrassed by being that exposed.

#30: Is it a little breezy in here?

– Contributed by Wee C

About the middle of May I placed an innocent-enough phone call to Liam Hennessey at Applehead Studio, looking for some information on photography for my BFF’s upcoming nuptials. When I was exploring his website I came across his boudoir portfolio. “Crazy fools,” I mumbled to myself. But secretly, I was beyond jealous that these beautiful women had the courage to strip down to their skivvies, put on those “come hither” looks and let some random MAN take their pictures. I mean, really…who is to say this photog wasn’t some Criminal Minds-esque fella, keeping all these pictures of half naked women and planning to abduct them? Right…have I failed to mention that I’m overly-suspicious and generally fear that everyone has it out for me? My, I have a brilliant imagination for someone my age.

At the end of my call I found myself blurting out a question that I was certain had come from someone else in the room. “So, tell me a bit about your boudoir sessions. I’m turning 30 in a month or so and I think a boudoir session could be the BIG thing I do to celebrate,” I say (without taking any breaths…those commas are just for proper punctuation, folks). WHAT?? That couldn’t have been me that asked that. But the grin on my face after the words left my mouth suggested that I was, indeed, the happily-guilty culprit.

I didn’t book my session that day. But I sat and I stewed (and stewed and stewed some more), wondering whether I had built up enough swagger over the course of the year to really do this. And, in usual form, I talked about it, puffed my chest out and said that a boudoir shoot would be my last 30 Thing, all the while never making a follow up call to actually book the session. I bought myself personal training sessions at the gym (and exercised until I literally cried in the middle of the gym). I stopped eating bread and cheese for 30 days, I took the stairs at work (all two flights of them), I was doing a copious amount of sit-ups every night, and I was flexing my behind anytime I thought no one was looking. I was doing everything I needed to do to get myself ready…except make the stinkin’ call.

As is usually the case, Big L laid the law down. And, no one disappoints Big L. Have you seen Will Farrell’s skit, The Landlord? Big L’s a bit like Pearl. Cute as a button, but you don’t mess with her. Needless to say, I called. “Ok, I need to book this thing,” I said. “And making this phone call is about as big of a deal as actually coming to the shoot.” The deal was done. I, of course, immediately called Big L to report on my good behaviour and accomplishment.

I had about three weeks to prepare for my Play Girl shoot. And for about two weeks and five days, I COMPLETELY IGNORED the fact that I was going to do this. Yes, I discussed it with friends, but alone, I managed to successfully block the reality of my impending doom. To make matters worse, two weeks before the shoot I came down with a cold that took me out of the gym for the remaining days leading up to the shoot. Add that into the mix, and I was in full-on denial.

With 48 hours left, I decided I should probably figure out what I was going to wear. That’s when panic set it. OMG! OMG! OMG! What does a girl wear to one of these things? Do I even have any underwear and bras that match (remember, I’ve been with hubby for 11 years, the necessity of having matching underoos is, well, non-existent)? Lace? Silk? Low cut? High cut? Oh, no, definitely not high cut. DO I HAVE ANYTHING, AT ALL, THAT’S FLATTERING ON THIS FLABBY BODY? And in my desperation, I even stood in front of my full-length mirror, pulled the skin around my stomach towards my back (in an effort to look more taut) and wondered whether I could legitimately get away with taping my skin back and not having my make-shift plastic surgery solution show up in the pictures.

Thank goodness for Liam’s stylist, Nirah. Perhaps more appropriately, thank God. My call with her the day before the shoot settled my nerves and actually made me excited for the shoot…like going-to-Disney-World excited. “Pack a suitcase with anything and everything you have in your closet,” she said. “I mean everything. Jewels, lingerie, off-the-shoulder tops, trench coats…” Did she just say trench coats?! I have the most spectacular Big Bird yellow (how’s that for sex appeal) trench coat hanging in my closet and wearing it makes me feel like a million bucks. Telling me I could bring that coat was like telling a three-year-old that they don’t need to leave their sookie blanket at home. Now I was ready to rock and roll.

And rock and roll I did. With Liam, Nirah, and Big L (armed with a little celebratory bubbly) cheering me on, the only other time I’ve felt that sensational was on my wedding day. And fortunately, Liam didn’t fit the creepy profile I had imposed upon him. Whether an accurate analysis or not, Liam seems to simply appreciate women…each one for who their own respective beauty. And I’ll tell you, that feeling goes a long way in helping you when you haven’t got much covering your bits. So, if any of you are going to do this, go see this guy. You won’t regret it.

We shot for FOUR hours. And I loved every single second of it. I left that night feeling like a year had most definitely changed me and knowing that there could have been no better way to celebrate my 30th birthday. Getting the pictures a week later? Well, that was just the icing on the cake.

PS – the photos are pretty incredible, by the way.

A little less itchy (part two)

– Contributed by Wee C

Anyone who has ever worked with me, for me, alongside me will quickly tell you that closing off a project is not my forte. Oh, will you all be quiet? I can hear each and every one of you snickering from here.

But, really. Want a great idea conceived; something that’s never been done before or is a groovy solution to a problem that you can’t solve? I’m on it. Need someone to push an existing idea to the next level? Yup, I got that one, too. Work through the finer details so that everything is just so, done with lots of time to spare, and tied up in a pretty little bow? Have I told you how remarkable that Big L is? Give her a call…she can do everything I can do and way more. Unless you’re a future potential employer or an existing client. In which case, I’ll fake my way through just about anything, consider it done!

So, inevitably, the whole “project wrap” bit of 30 Things has assumed the all-too-familiar place at the back of my mind, buzzing around like a stupid house fly that can’t manage to find it’s way out, despite the double patio doors that are wide open to the great outdoors. And trust me, it’s not for lack of enthusiasm or passion. I’ve got plenty of that when it comes to this topic. No, it seems that my habit of procrastination was one of the few personal hangups I neglected to conquer with 30 Things. And so, despite an almost overwhelming eagerness to write this post, I didn’t. I’m sure few of you are shocked.

Summing up a year of personal change is an almost insurmountable feat. Simply saying “I’m not who I used to be” isn’t accurate. In fact, in many ways I’m more who I used to be than I ever intended or wanted to become when I started out on this journey. Why wouldn’t I want that? Well, let’s see. At the time, I thought of myself as a no-fun, uptight, workaholic, worry-wart that was incapable of seizing the day and relaxing for more than five seconds. I took my BlackBerry on my honeymoon to Paris, for Pete’s sake…that about sums it up, doesn’t it? Bottom line: I was uncomfortable in my own skin, I was indulging in plenty of self-loathing, and I felt I had lost my way. No, I wasn’t ready to be committed or anything. But I certainly wasn’t loving life. And going the Dr. Phil route in search of a “better version of myself” made me want to gag. Gross me green, as the kids used to say (hey, I’m still working on the cool part).

On June 22, 2009, when I conceived 30 Things, the hopes and dreams I had of becoming someone totally different would almost have been Silver Screen, bring a tear-to-your-eye, worthy. I had visions of becoming like Kate Hudson in How to Lose a Guy in 10 Days or Jennifer Aniston as Rachael Green. I wanted to abandon everything that had contributed to making me as uncomfortable and uncertain as I had become. Oh, I had put up a good front. Few people would have known just how much being me made me want to scratch. But I was so itchy at that time, you’d have thought I had rolled in a field of poison ivy.

With 365+ days having passed since then, what’s remarkable to me is how true to me that I’ve become. I’m not a better version of me. I’m not a different version of me. I’m certainly not a worse version of me, nor am I me playing the role of someone else who is playing the role of someone else (a little Tropic Thunder reference just to demonstrate my increased cool factor…c’mon, it’s the only cultural reference I’ve got in my repertoire, cut me some slack!). I’m an authentic and comfortable version of me.

Do I still have hang ups and need to scratch from time to time? I hope so…I wouldn’t have anything to write about in future if I didn’t. But I no longer have a stomach that is turned in knots from dusk until dawn. I’ve learned to lighten the load (both professionally and personally) and I’m even learning to laugh at the occasional Family Guy reference. Ok, occasional might be generous…as might laugh…but I roll my eyes less when hubby watches it, surely that counts?

Perhaps most importantly to me is that I’ve gained control over my life. All those years of stressing and working like a maniac and needing to get every.single.last task done before I left work for the day (only to go home and scramble to get every.single.last task done at home) I thought I had control. Turns out, I was out of control. Control had control over me, if that makes any sense to anyone else.

Here’s the moral of the story. What I have come to believe is that you can change your life. Three years ago I was diagnosed with clinical depression (a shock to some who know me personally, I’m sure). Two months before I started 30 Things I was seeing a psychologist on a routine basis. Today, I don’t even know what I would say if I had to see a therapist. Sure, I have normal human being twitches. But not the kind that keep me up at night and make me so desperate for a way out that I’m banging into every nearby wall in an effort to find an exit. So while 30 Things is over, I’ve learned that life is lived on a continuum, and there is only one beginning and one end. Everything else in between is merely stops on the journey in order to teach you what you need to get to the next destination. I’m working on planning my next trip now. I’m darned excited about this leg, too. Remember, I’m pretty good at coming up with some killer ideas.

PS – for those of you who have been dying with curiosity to learn what my last 30 Thing was, I’ll indulge you. There’s a great photographer in town by the name of Liam Hennessey (Applehead Studio Photography). Seems the latest thing for brave gals to do is a little thing called a boudoir photo shoot. I figured there would be no better way to go into 30. But don’t go looking for the photos. They’re under lock and key. And, girls, every woman should do this at least once. You’ll love yourself (and all your dimples, ripples, and rolls) more during that photo shoot than you ever thought possible.