Monthly Archives: November 2010

Killed by the Skinny Jean

– Contributed by Wee C

So, while I love the insights Big L and I share with our readers, I’ve been feeling like my content has been a smidge heavy lately. So I’m looking to lighten the mood this week with a little “laugh at yourself humour”. Dear readers: here is the story of my lifelong battle with the skinny jean (SJ). A profound story, yes?

I’ve avoided the SJ for as long as they’ve been fashionable; at least this time around. You, see, I was late to the party the first time they were in fashion, sometime in the late 80s. I was the last of my friends to buy them and when I did secure my very own pair, I ensured they were the version with the zippers at the bottom, rock star that I was. But, like a shooting star, the trend fizzled, and I was left zipping and unzipping my pant legs while everyone else had moved on and was basking in the comfort of the baggy carpenter jean. Why such a stark contrast was necessary, is beyond me. Guess who was late to that party, too? I’ll tell you the story of wearing my dad’s jeans in another blog post

So when I found myself wandering into one of the city’s boutiques to find myself a pair of these ill-fated knickers, I surprised myself. Maybe it was the fabulous “I’ve just been to the hair-dressers and can’t get this look at home” do, or the fact that every fashionista seems to have boycotted the wide-legged pants that I have come to adore, but I was determined that I would once again give myself over to the skinny jean. But this time, I would show those pants who’s boss.

I swaggered into the boutique, perched my sunglasses atop my freshly blonded hair and sashayed past the Halifax socialites who frequent the joint like Italians frequent the espresso bar. And I went straight for the sales rack. I’d be damned if I was going to pay full price for a pair of jeans that may never see the light of day.

An armload of skinny jeans later and I found myself in the fitting room, full of gusto, and ready to tackle my challenge head on. And then the red face, sweating and grunting began. All in the name of getting the leg of the jean past my ankle. Here’s my theory on skinny jeans: they got their namesake because putting them on is the equivalent of completing a marathon. I hopped, tugged and twisted until they were finally up over my calves.

And after all that work, they looked hideous. Tragic, even. The memories came flooding back. I was almost in the fetal. Until I realized that putting a pair of boots on may help my cause…after all, the boot over the skinny jean was, in fact, what had inspired me to try the trend once again. So I shimmied the boots up over my leg and proceed to zip (ahem, force) the boots over the jeans. And…STILL TRAGIC! I was defeated, deflated, and my fabulous hair was falling flat. It was time to abort. I’d just unzip the boots, wrestle the jeans off my body and be done with it. Except that the boots seemed to be a wee bit stuck. Actually, a whole lot stuck. Like couldn’t get them unzipped stuck.

At first, I though the jeans were jammed in the boots and I would be stuck with these wretched pants forever. But, alas, that would have been a far better outcome. No, these damn SJ, took both me and my boots as its victim. A piece of leather from my beloved boots got stuck in the zipper (a direct result of my aggressive attempt to get them done up over the jeans) and that was the end of it.

The moment of reckoning came when the sales women politely knocked on the door and asked if I needed any help. Indeed I did. I was forced to poke my head out of my fitting room, and call for a pair of scissors. That’s right. I cut my boot off my leg. My beautiful, Spanish-made boot. CUT OFF MY LEG. Can I get a collective gasp, please?!

With as much fabulousness as I walked in with, I walked out with embarrassment. No new jeans and a boot being held together with a bull dog clip. The SJ had beat me again. I mourned my loss.

A few weeks later, I was shopping with a friend and we made our way into the same store. Still in the need of jeans, I humbled myself and perused the rack (note the SAME sales woman who was working during my previous adventure was working again…sigh). And, somehow, decided to pick up yet another pair of skinny jeans. The look from the sales lady was amused.

Well, low and behold, those skinny jeans fit. And were actually not bad. So, I bought them. I spent real money on the SJ. I left feeling pretty jubilant, excited to once again be part of this trend (laggard or not).

Yeah, I haven’t worn them yet. But the fact that I can, whenever I want, means I won and it makes the money spent all worthwhile. Except for the boots. They were killed by the skinny jean.

November Maintenance: Igniting Forgiveness

– Contributed by Wee C

“When you hold resentment toward another, you are bound to that person or condition by an emotional link that is stronger than steel. Forgiveness is the only way to dissolve that link and get free.” – Catherine Ponder

Oh boy. Ain’t that the truth. “An emotional link stronger than steel.” Swallow that boys and girls. Take a big deep breath and swallow that. Hits like a ton of bricks, eh? Even the most forgiving amongst us isn’t free from memories of things people have said, done, or NOT said or done to us, making us inextricably tied to those people in our lives. Yeah, yeah, we may think we’ve forgiven, but I’d argue that we’re much less likely to forget (which really means we haven’t forgiven at all…following me?). Yes, I may have theoretically forgiven the kids who teased me about my highly-womanly body (that’s a nice AKA for chubby), or the boys who broke my heart (many of whom had no idea they were the source of my angst), or the people who made me feel as though I wasn’t cool enough, smart enough, fabulous enough (perhaps we should do a comparison now, yes?). But let’s be honest, even following my seeming forgiveness, I’ve been holding onto those memories like a lottery winner with a death grip on their winning ticket. Too bad what I’ve been holding onto hasn’t been nearly as liberating…

But wait. Could it not be? What if all that stinking baggage could actually be a source of strength? What if situations that at one point caused angst, anxiety and anger could bring peace, strength and serenity? That’s where Big L and I landed over pizza and wine (the food of philosophers, of course). Perhaps it was time to shed ourselves of all that silliness, to truly forgive, and to melt that steel into a puddle of mush. But you can’t melt steel with your kitchen blow torch, and, likewise, you certainly can’t melt emotional steel with a box of tissues and a few tears. No, it takes something much bigger than that.

Enter my November maintenance and one of Big L’s 30 Things. Our strategy for conquering the steel wasn’t complicated, but it was intense. It involved Thai food and Sangrias (we do our best thinking over food), a stack of plain white paper, some pretty markers and two very open minds. Sounds threatening, yes? Here’s how it went down: November 10, we gathered at my homestead, and quietly wrote letters to everyone who we felt we had to forgive. We wrote about how they had hurt us, upset us or made us feel less than we are. And at the end of each letter, we forgave them. Silently, we exchanged our letters, read one anothers and nothing more was spoken of them. I knew Big L’s deep dark pain and she knew mine and the unspoken understanding between us said way more than any verbal commentary could.

Tell me you don’t think we stopped there? That’s not nearly dramatic enough. The next morning we burned those suckers to ash. That’s right. We burned every, single last one of those wrongs and shed them from our lives forever. Well, the forever part might be a bit of a stretch, but what I’ll tell you is that in burning those letters we burned our ability to indulge in distant memories and hurt. We have shed that baggage and when it creeps into our minds, we know that we have no choice but to excuse it and move on. We’ve already dealt with it…it doesn’t get any more of our time or energy.

I know, I know. All this business may feel like a bit much for some of you well-balanced readers, but I’m telling you, there’s not one of you out there that’s not carrying anger or hurt towards someone. And if you’re self-aware enough to recognize it (perhaps a wee bit backhanded?), then take this challenge on yourself. It’s less about the burning and more about forcing yourself to write it out and forgive the person or people. But don’t leave the burning out. It’s a pretty liberating experience…and perhaps the most important step in melting the negative emotional link(s) between you and the people in your life.

Let the burning begin!

The remains...

I Want You To Know…

– Contributed by Wee C

Today, a woman I deeply admire bore it all. She wrote a blog post that is as honest and exposing as a blog post (or a conversation or a story) can be. A woman, who is an overachiever, who has demonstrated nothing but success and whose appearance is always impeccable was brave enough to tell the world that things are not always as they appear. She shared stories about real, legitimate anxiety attacks. She openly wondered how this could happen to HER; how she could be the girl leaving the doctor’s office with two mental health prescriptions in hand. And she admitted to being the lost girl who so many thought was found.

I can only imagine the feeling she experienced as she guided her mouse to the “Post” button on the draft page of her blog. The anticipation of knowing that sharing this blog post would be like standing naked in Times Square during rush hour traffic. You see, for those of us who blog, writing in draft format is liberating; it’s like a journal that’s under lock and key. But pressing “Post” is like leaving your diary wide open to the deepest, darkest page in the book.

“I’ve spent the majority of my 32 years being THAT girl. The one who has to have every moment of her day jam packed, planned and neatly lined up in front of her. The girl who cried her eyes out in a McDonald’s drive-thru because the plan was to go to Wendy’s. McDonald’s wasn’t the part of the plan and so, overwhelmed with anxiety and lack of control, she sobbed the whole way through her Quarter Pounder. True story. That was me.”

So why am I paying such homage to this woman, aside from the fact that she is more remarkable to me today than she was as her pristine, flawless former self? Because today was a big day in her world. Today she took a step that many of us would never be brave enough to take, let alone be self-aware enough to articulate. And because today was a big day in her world, it’s a big day in all of ours. Today, she took the pressure off those of use who know exactly what she means when she says: “But the truth is, I’m still losing myself on a daily basis. I’m over committed and I’m striving for perfection in each and every task on my to-do list.”

Perhaps most importantly, she implicitly said something that I believe more of us need to say to one another. To anyone who reads her post, she said: I want you to know. I believe that for all of us to be able to cope with the human condition, we need to tell one another what we feel, as ugly and unflattering and dark as it may seem. We need to let others know that they are not alone. We need to share our experiences so that we can learn and grow together. We need to talk openly and honestly and not be embarrassed by feelings and situations that no one (not one single one of us) is excluded from having (knowingly or not).

So, today, here’s what I want all of you to know:

  • Anxiety, depression, or even just the blues can happen to absolutely anyone, no matter how cheery you were as a kid, regardless of how many wonderful people you have in your life, no matter how perfect your home, job and family may or may not be. And, from personal experience, simply opening your mouth (and perhaps your mind) is the most profound experience you will have on the road to recovery, even if you just say it aloud to yourself.
  • Here’s the secret about perfectionism: it’s a completely and utterly unattainable goal. You will not reach it in this lifetime. Stop trying. Someone remind me of this when I wake up tomorrow, will you?
  • And, thirty-somethings of the future, I want you to know that your life will not be more fulfilled by over-filling your plates when you are 18, nor will you achieve greater successes by being a martyr for your job than you would if you lived a life of balance, and you certainly will not have a more full life by allowing stress to lead your life rather than peace. Yes, strive for excellence in what you do. Yes, work hard to be an accomplished individual. Yes, push beyond the status quo whenever you can. But do not prostitute your own life for the sake of being an overachieving workaholic. It will catch up with you, I can guarantee it.

And so, dear readers, over to you. What do you want the world to know? Please, share your wisdom. We all need it.