Tag Archives: 30 Things

Dear Diary: A Year in Review

– Contributed by Wee C

My grandfather was a member of an old-school club. He was a diary-keeper. I’m not sure how many years he kept a diary, but I’d hazard to guess it was a practice he engaged in for nearly all of his adult life. They always looked the same – small, black, with the words ONE-YEAR DIARY pressed in gold or silver lettering on the front. He kept it beside his rocking chair in the living room; the same place he read the paper, visited with guests, and caught up on his daily rest. And I suspect all three of those things were what filled the pages. Day after day. Year after year.

The habit was one that I both admired and found baffling. I adored the simplicity of chronicling the day’s activities and the historical reference it provided. And, in fact, it’s a habit I’ve tried to form myself over the years. But I could never quite understand what he found to write about every single day; a fact which was the single stumbling block to my disgraceful, and ultimately non-existent, diary-keeping habits.

The desire to write about the evolution of life has, however, remained with me. I have never lost the intrinsic need to capture life in words, like a child catching a firefly in a jar in the hopes that its light will never burn out. For many reasons, in blogging I found the tool that allowed me to both express myself and to keep a journal of where life has taken me, what I have learned, and perhaps more importantly, what’s left to learn.

Today marks one year since my first blog post on this blog. April 24, 2010 was a milestone for me. Not because of what I wrote, but because of the journey I began and my ability to reflect on that journey today. Today, looking back through posts from the past year, I’m thankful to have adopted my grandfather’s habit of chronicling life. My methods would seem highly unorthodox and far-too-revealing for him, but the ability to reflect would no-doubt be appreciated.

After reviewing my old posts, what is abundantly clear is that worrying, fretting, working myself to death, and being all-too-high strung is so Wee C circa 2010. I read my posts from early last year and want to both hug this poor, tragic girl and give her a good shake. Gosh darn it, who was that girl? I was so busy buzzing about trying to impress the bosses, keep peace in the household, and ensure everyone (read: every.single.person.in.the.entire.world) loved me, that I completely lost myself in the process. It is so clear to me now just how inevitable a near-fatal crash was.

How was I scared to play Black Jack at the casino? Or why was staying at the party such a huge accomplishment? Going to the strip club seems like such a small hurdle now, but at one time it was one of life’s biggest milestones. And stopping long enough to meditate for ONE MEASLY HOUR seemed like I had accomplished a feat as significant as climbing to the top of Everest. In every one of these blog posts, I read the words and remember the feelings, but I simply do not know that girl any longer. She is someone I knew extraordinarily well, admired sufficiently and never, ever loved enough.

As the year progressed and I completed 30 Things, my marriage began to change and that brought a whole new perspective to how I viewed my life, my relationships and myself. In December I wrote a letter to myself five years into the future. I cried as I re-read it today. Only four months later and I’m dumbfounded by just how accurately I saw my life, despite the dark cloud of confusion hanging over it. I wrote to myself about a peace that was yet to come. Today, not five years from now, I am beginning to find it.

While today marks the one-year anniversary of my first blog post, it also marks the first holiday in 11 years that I did not celebrate with my one-time husband and that part of my dear and beloved family. Today was a series of deep breaths, each one carrying me forward to the next. It was also a day of reflection and gratitude. Wee C circa 2010 could never have made it through today with as much composure as the current version did. Keeping a “journal” helped me to see, and celebrate, that, giving me a life flotation to make it through the day.

My grandfather has been gone for several years, but it seems there are some lessons that are learned well after the original lesson has been taught. As an old farmer, he understood that keeping a diary of significant happenings allowed you to better prepare for the future. He understood that you can never get here without having been there first. Today, I finally learned what he taught me.

December Maintenance: An Empty Tree

Mine and hubby’s lives? They’ve been pretty darned blessed. We both grew up in families that took incredible care of us, never wanting for anything (well, except a pony…but I’m still holding out for that), always donning the latest fashions (well, save for the skinny jeans, of course), and always with a car sitting in the yard waiting for us to drive (and, dare I say, a gas card to fuel it with). Indeed, at a very early age, we understood all-to-well what it was like “to have”.

Now, let’s be clear. I’m not talking gobs of stuff: diamonds, multiple cars, caviar or our own personal collections of Louis Vuitton. We weren’t that kind of privileged (not that there’s anything wrong with that, of course). We were simply well taken care of. Comfortable. Cozy, even.

And truthfully, I never thought much of it until we got out on our own and realized that our standards were high. Damn high. Like, who do we think we are, high. Combine these high standards with upwardly mobile careers, making increasingly more money every year, and we were just fanning the fire. One that would eventually suck us right into the white, hot centre.

For a long time, we lived our lives fancying about, enjoying all that comfort. Dinner parties complete with legs of lamb, endless wine and new plates and cutlery (things had to match, you know). Lovely throw pillows, smelly candles and soaps, chef’s-quality pots and pans, 3,000 jackets (each), and a few European adventures thrown in. It wasn’t an extravagant life, but it sure was a wee bit excessive. We likely could have done with a few less candles and a few more pieces of chicken (skin on and bone in, even). We were wasteful. We didn’t need all that stuff, but we sure did like to have it.

I make it sound as if all this is in the past. Let me be the first to own up to the fact that we’re not totally reformed. We still misbehave from time to time. But life caught up with us. Careers changed (and restarted), the burden of a mortgage crept in, and, well, other debt also found its way into our lives. I’m quite certain no one told me I’d pay for my wedding for the following 10 years. Consider yourself warned. Basically, we became like everyone else. Grown ups, accountable for grown up-like things. Nothing particularly different from anyone else. Just grown ups.

In response, we’ve had to reform our lives…to grown up lives. At first, we fought it. It somehow felt unfair, like a child who had a big bag of candy and the mean bully took it away. Then we (read: I) got depressed. Wasn’t I working my behind off to be able to do more, accumulate more, eat more (and better), get more? More, more more. And, then, I got determined. Determined that I would beat debt and reclaim my life. Insert the world’s evil laugh here. Wee C, that’s simply not how it works.

But recently, I’ve realized that amidst that journey, I’ve changed. We’ve changed. See, we cut back. A lot. And we didn’t die. Our lives didn’t become less meaningful or less fulfilling. In fact, it was quite the opposite. Yes, folks, it’s a Christmas miracle. In spending less, I suddenly feel like we have more. The burden of always needing something is a significant one. I don’t care whether it’s the fanciest shampoo or a new Coach purse, when you’re in the mindset of acquiring, you always need something. Break that habit, and you suddenly find that your “needs” are a lot less than what you think.

And, so, my December maintenance comes in the form of doing less. Well, spending less. Our normal Christmas? You got it, it was excessive. Multiple gifts of all shapes and sizes under the tree, stockings stuffed full, and a fridge bulging at the seams. This year? We’ve committed to simply enjoying the season, with the gifts to ourselves being a stress-free, less-is-more kind of holiday. For the first time in my adult life (and in my relationship with hubby), we’re simply filling stockings. No additional gifts under the tree, just socks filled with goodies. Now, to be perfectly transparent, there will be a few indulgent items in those socks, but it won’t look like Santa’s sleigh tipped over as he passed over our house.

Currently, I have an empty tree in my living room. There’s not a single thing wrapped and under it. A year ago, I would have been disheartened by this. Today, I’m joyful. My December maintenance represents much of what life has become for me: stripping things back and enjoying life without the gloss we so often want to put on it. Ok, so to be fair, I like me a bit of gloss. I always will. But I’m just trying to avoid living in a glass house. That somehow seems a dangerous situation.

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...

Those Lovely Lady Lumps (and #14 of 30)

– Contributed by Wee C

There's one at every wedding...sadly this time it was me.

“I describe my look as a blend of Mother Goose, Cinderella, and the local hooker. ” – Dolly Parton

Let’s talk about boobs, shall we? Breasts, ta-tas, my lovely lady lumps. I don’t much care what you call them. In my world, they’re boobs…because they genuinely make me feel like one.

Now, don’t get all offended. I, too, am a modest fan of these two mounds of fatty flesh that seem to have no other role than to obnoxiously attract the other sex, feed a hungry infant, or firmly (well, only if you’re young and perky or have implants) define the female body. They do, however, serve the important purpose of making me feel definitively womanly, so I’ll give them that much.

But for a part of the anatomy that really has a secondary purpose (they’re not saving lives here people), they get an awful lot of credit that I don’t believe they deserve. Think about it this way, if they were personified as a friend in your life, they would be fat, lazy, seasonally employed (if that) and they would attract unwelcome attention to you and your other friends. Oh, yeah, and they’d always be just hanging around and they’d never look you in the eye. Not really the type of person you want to have attach themselves to you, eh? The cheesy puns are running fast and loose today, folks.

So why the heck do I care about them enough to dedicate an entire blog post to them? Well, I find myself talking and thinking about boobs an awful lot. Oh, please, get your mind out of the gutter. But for someone who really has a love/hate relationship with this part of the anatomy, they do, indeed, preoccupy a good deal of my thinking. Here’s why:

1. I blossomed early in life. I had boobs (and serious ones) before nearly any of my friends had them. It was a fact that went unnoticed by few, I can assure you. Not exactly the kind of attention any girl that age is seeking. Or at least not the demure, respectable ones.

As a result, my affinity for turtlenecks quickly…blossomed. I’ve been managing “the girls”, keeping them reined in for as long as I can remember. Since the pre-teen days, I’ve been selecting my wardrobe accordingly, avoiding the deadly button-up shirt (I’ve popped out and shown the goods more times and in more inappropriate situations than I would ever like to recount). Through my teenage and university years, I refused to wear v-neck shirts. And while I often wore tight-fitting shirts, my fear of cold weather and, ahem, catching a chill, was pervasive. So, my well-endowed chest has been influencing my wardrobe decisions on a daily basis for as long as I’ve cared about how I dress. And I’ll tell you what. When a fashion trend comes in that the girls ruin because they make me look like a hooker, their stock goes WAY down with me.

2. About a year and a half ago my mom was diagnosed with early stage breast cancer. And in the past three years has had six biopsies. That’s right, six long needles with a hook on the end being jabbed about her misbehaving boobs. The stress that those darned girls have induced on her is infuriating. Going back to the discussion about personification…my mom’s boobs are like the kind of friend who moves into your house uninvited and does something stupid like accidentally leaves the water running in the bathtub and floods the place. And, yet, despite your anger, you still have a soft spot for them, knowing that if they were gone altogether, there would be a dramatic and unsettling void.

It was my mom’s experience that prompted me to sign up for Bust a Move, a new fundraiser in Halifax in support of breast health. Disclosure: it didn’t hurt that this monsterous event was also the first thing on Big L’s list of 30 things.

So, here I am raising money for a part of the anatomy that I’m luke warm towards at best, rallying to protect and nurture them, to keep them safe and healthy. And doing it felt great. Because, frankly, it wasn’t about the boobs, it was about the people in those boobs’ lives. The goal was to raise $1,000. I raised $3,000 and happily put the event (exercising for six consecutive hours) as #14 on my list of 30 things.

3. The bloody things misbehave at the most inappropriate times. About a week ago I traveled from one side of the country to the other to stand in a dear friend’s wedding. She was kind enough to allow her bridesmaids to select and order their own dresses, which theoretically meant that we would pick a dress that suited our body types, thereby looking lovely and appropriate in all of the lifetime-lasting wedding photos. Theoretically. Lifetime-lasting. The moral of this story is becoming quickly evident, yes?

So, I order a dress that I love. It’s strapless with a cute little belt. And I know better…no strapless dress, with the exception of my wedding dress, has ever offered the support I need to get through the day. But my ever-optimistic self ignores the nagging voice in the back of my head and proceeds anyway. Mistake #1: strapless dress.

When the dress arrives, it’s a bit too big, so I march myself to the tailor to have it taken in (quite delighted with myself that I need to have this done, of course). “Tuck me in as tight as you can. These girls have strength, power and weight you can’t even imagine,” I cheekily tell the tailor. Mistake (and life lesson) #2: a tight fitting strapless dress is a bustier (read: a ledge for your boobs to lay upon and sun themselves), not Spanx.

I then take it upon myself to farm myself a little tan before the wedding, thinking that a golden glow would be a nice complement to my beautiful cobalt blue dress. But if there is a beauty or “looks” disaster to happen to someone, it will be me. Why I considered tanning with a tank top on is beyond me, but I did, and surprise, surprise, I had tan lines. Mistake #3: do I really need to spell it out?

In true Wee C fashion, I pick the dress up the day before we fly out (mistake #4), realize that it may be a smidge snug, but depart for the west coast reasonably unconcerned. Until I actually need to wear the thing. Look, all the right factors were in place: a beautiful colour, a really cute design, and an event that was worthy of such a party dress. Except one factor: it took two bridesmaids to pour me into that dress. No, really, picture the fat skin on my back folding in an effort to desperately get the thing zipped up past my boobs.

Now, I could go on at length about the day and evening and me in my party dress and all the looks I received. But here’s what I’ll tell you. It was a truly exquisite, Martha Stewart-esque wedding, but as with every wedding there’s always one girl with the boobs and that day, that girl was me. I pulled, twisted and tugged. I practically sucked myself inside out. I tried duct tape, and lots of it. Seriously. NOTHING worked. And over the course of the 10 hours I wore the dress, it just got worse. At one point, one of the other bridesmaids, who stood about eye level to my chest expressed fear that they would jump out and bite her. Oh, yes, and the tan lines? Not so bad when it’s just the straps, but when the dress is falling down to your belly button, the white ring that forms around your chest and shoulders is particularly charming. Need I refer you to the photo at the top? I truly fear for the expensive, professional, lifetime-lasting wedding photos that me and my boobs appear in. Appropriate I was not.

And, so my ongoing love/hate relationship with those lovely lady lumps continues. Some days I win, some days I lose. But truthfully, after having witnessed what my mother has been through, I’d rather go through life with them than without them. I just wish that they didn’t always need to be the life of every party.

The Return of Mrs. Peppy Pants

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve spent nearly all of my life believing that things happen for a reason. Yes, I was the emphatically positive, glass half full, never let ’em get you down kinda girl. Like the Chumbawamba song acted out through interpretive dance. And, boy, was I committed. My naysaying friends would get a healthy (or obnoxious, if you were a glass half empty kind of person) dose of Mrs. Peppy Pants whenever they would complain or wallow in their own pre-pubescent or adolescent pool of self-pity. I always believed that if you just had a bit of faith, life would turn out as it was intended.

You want proof points? I got plenty. In fact, I’ve got a list as long as my arm. But here’s the key to all of this. You can’t be a control freak. The minute that I finally let go, settle in, and let life take its course without me having my grubby little paws all over every detail is the minute that the birds start to chirp, the sun rises over the horizon, a gentle breeze moves in and the sky turns all purply-pinky-orangy-blue. And the orchestra kicks in. And Ryan Reynolds comes along sweeps me off my feet, takes me to the…oh, wait, what?

All through my teens, this is just who I was. And I was so comfortable in who I was (not so much how I looked…tragic!), you’d have thought I was 80. Like an 80 year-old stuck in a 16 year-old’s body. The truth of this comment should not be lost on you.

And then I hit my 20s and everything changed. The birds all became screaming crows, the sun forgot to rise one morning, the gentle breeze turned into a freaking hurricane, and the sky was an angry black. Somehow Tori Amos became my theme music and Ry thought that Alanis was way more upbeat than me. I spent nearly a decade living my life in this new, unfamiliar, uncomfortable world. And yet, somehow I became terribly comfortable here. I had accepted that this is what happens when you get older. I assumed that all my naive and youthful jubilation was forever lost and this was “just how it was going to be”. I looked around and saw people who were older than me, at nearly every juncture in life, walking around like drones, going about their business, accepting that this was “just how it was going to be”. So I settled in.

And then 30 Things came along. No, it wasn’t like the Hallelujah chorus began to immediately play, but I’ll tell you, there sure has been a crescendo working itself up in my life. When I finished 30 Things, I feared that all the joy and elation I had been experiencing would subside. But here’s the incredible thing. Suddenly, once again, I’m seeing all kinds of signs that things happen for a reason, and that when you finally let go is the same time you actually lift the flood gates and the tide of good things come rushing in.

So what does that mean for me right now? I’m sorry to disappoint, but I don’t have a clue. What I can tell you, though, is that the conversations we’ve been having (we being me and Big L) and the like-minded people that have been finding their way into my life (well, really, my Google Reader) is feeling a bit like a storm surge. But not the dark and gloomy kind of surge…more like Noah’s Ark, wiping the land clean of garbage and replacing it with something a whole lot better. Let’s just hope my rebirth doesn’t take thousands of years. I’m 30, I don’t have that long.

PS – In the past week, I’ve come across some really wonderful like-minded blogs, a couple of which I believe you folks out there in reader-land would enjoy. Two of which are new The Quarterlife Quest and Doniree) and one we already post on our site, but I love it so much that I need to remind you to check it out (Stratejoy). Happy reading!

#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.

An Appropriate Entry Into 30

-Contributed by Wee C

Well, here it is. 30 is no longer breathing down my neck like a husband who is tired of being at the mall. No, 30 has waltzed into the room, sat down and made itself at home as if has some sort of right to be here. The question of the week has been “what wild and crazy thing will you do to celebrate”? People! C’mon. Have we learned nothing if not that I’m about as far from wild and crazy as Lindsay Lohan is from pure and demure? Yes, I’ve given you all glimmers of hope over the past several months. But a carefee night at a wedding, a couple of school girl-like nights out with the girls, and a particularly uncharacteristic trip to the ever-dirty local strip club does not a wild girl make. But I do appreciate that you’ve continued to hold out hope for me. For the record, I gave up on my aptitude to be a legit party girl months ago. It takes discipline, commitment and enthusiasm that I just don’t have. Party girls of the world, you have my utmost respect. Holla at your girl, as they say. Insert bum giration and slapping of the behind here.

No, I welcomed my 30s as one would expect I should, in true Wee C style. Curled up on my sofa, snoozing away after a 13-hour work day. I woke up just as the clock struck 12, bleary-eyed, staggering, and desperate for bed. It’s almost poetic, really.

I’ll save my full-blown reflective, introspective, ever-so-insightful post about the past year for later this week, after all has been said and done (and you know I will…that’s prime opportunity to to impart life wisdom and insight on all of you, I most definitely could not miss out on that), but what I will tell you is that the next 24 hours holds my last two “30 Things” up its sleeve. Rest assured, not all hope should be lost. I would NEVER have even entertained these last two things this time last year. But let’s just say that they’re big enough “things” that telling you all what they are, well that would be #31 on my list. And let’s face it, that’s outside of the original scope of the project, so it will cost you more. Happy Birthday to me.

#24: Channeling William Hung?

– Contributed by Wee C

To no one’s surprise, I’m sure, I’ve never sang karaoke. Sing in my car? Yes. Sing in the shower. On occasion. Sing in front of a group of people in a bar who are all predisposed to ridicule, judgment and making gagging motions? No thank you. I already assume that people are judging me when I’m sitting in the back of the bar, minding my own business, hoping no one has noticed that my outfit isn’t quite perfect. A self-centered, sociopathic way of thinking, you say? Need I remind you that I have somehow come to believe that everyone has nothing better to do with their time than to focus on all of my multiple flaws?

Needless to say, karaoke ranked right up there with going to a strip club on the “saying yes to things I would normally say no to” meter. In fact, one of the girls who joined Big L and I (yes, this was a 30 thing for Big L, also) summed it up quite nicely. “Even if someone paid me $10,000 to get up there are sing on my own, I wouldn’t take it,” she said. I didn’t come home $10,000 richer the other night, but I did come home without a voice.

As I was toiling away trying to select the perfect song and preparing myself to get up on “stage”and do my own impression of William Hung, my name was called. Huh? But I haven’t put my name in the cue, yet. “Wee C? Is there a Wee C in the house?” I heard Laurie the Guy ask (that’s right, Haligonians, we were at the Lion’s Head). “Wee C get up here! I see you’re singing I Touch Myself!”

I TOUCH MYSELF???? I wouldn’t use those words together in everyday language, let alone in a song. Singing karaoke. In front of other people. I TOUCH MYSELF???? This is what I’m supposed to sing?

But, as I got up, not sure what to do, the four other girls I was with – Big L included – got up to join me. What better way to fully embrace karaoke than to do a completely ridiculous song with a group of fabulous and supportive women? Yeah, it was a shameless SATC 2 re-enactment. Only can you imagine if Samantha had been singing I Touch Myself instead of I Am Woman?

Our second act was equally classy – My Humps. Do you know how many times you sing the words “my humps” in that song? Simply tragic. And no, I did not pop my behind out towards the audience and slap my ass. Although that would have been a 30 thing all on its own.

At #24 of 30, what I’m learning is that we could all stand to channel William Hung a little more often. Letting go and acting silly is better medicine than Advil and a lot more fun than watching from the sidelines scared that someone will judge you. And here’s the secret that everyone needs to know: people cheer for you when you’re on the field. It’s living life on the sidelines that you really need to worry about.

My alter-ego.

#7: The one you’ve all been waiting for.

Yeah, that’s right, I’m skipping #5 and 6. You all want me to, anyway. You want to know the story about the girl who said she would never, ever, ever set foot in a strip club, but did. Some of you who will read this are my clients, my peers, potentially my boss, my business associates, my family. In fact, many of you are one of those things. People who I respect and would NEVER normally tell this story to. But I did this as one of my 30 Things, so writing about it is as much of an accomplishment as doing it. I sincerely fear that I will lose all respect from you when you read this. But please, remember who I am and give me the benefit of the doubt. Here’s to 30 Things.

I wasn’t exactly the slimmest kid growing up. Rolly polly. Substantial. Big boned. Call it what you will, but I was far from the lean, athletic build of my girlfriends. So far from it, in fact, that my classmates managed to come up with a nickname for what my parents thought was my non-nicknamable name. Cowlette (do you get the irony of Wee C now?!). Go ahead, laugh. Really, you’ll enjoy it. I kind of do myself at this point. But, at 13, it wasn’t exactly the name I wanted boys to call me. Especially not the boys I was having imaginary flirt sessions with  in my mirror before I went to school in the morning. Boy, I had some great conversations. In the mirror, they always loved me.

Fortunately, when I turned 15, I took a growth spurt and Cowlette found her rightful home in the history pages of my story. But don’t think a kid forgets that. What’s that saying – forgive and forget. I had neither forgiven nor forgotten. So when I turned 17 and started dating my first boyfriend, some of that baggage was still around. Ok, a lot of it. And, yes, I was 17 with baggage. What? I was in tune with myself, I make no apologizes for that.

Let’s call him JR. He was my first love. So the night I sat in my car outside of his prep school dorm room waiting for him to come out after the study hours and I caught a glimpse of THAT poster, I immediately put my hands on my waist hoping, wishing that I had magically become taut in the last 5 minutes. But, alas, the rolls were still there. From where I sat, I could clearly see Jenny McCarthy and her hourglass figure (complete with perky, balloon-like boobs). The teasing, the mocking, the boys who pretended to walk like a bovine, all came flooding back. From where I sat, she was everything to my boyfriend that I wasn’t. From that moment on, I hated naked women. Specifically, I hated hot naked women. Hence my early dislike for strippers.

The object of all my hatred.

I hated them at my core. I’m sure my argument at the time was that it was demoralizing to women, but the reality was that I was jealous and insecure. I couldn’t handle the way they looked. My need for personal perfection didn’t allow for that. They were perfect in ways that I wasn’t. That’s really all it was. In my competitive mind, they won and I lost. I would have none of that, and neither would the boys I loved.

When hubby and I got married, I quickly drew the line in the sand: have a stripper at your bachelor party and this ring goes back and you become a bachelor all over again. Truthfully, I don’t know why he didn’t walk away just for that comment. But he permitted my bad, immature, self-loathing rants, agreeing to leave his bachelor party if the boys called in the “it’s too hot for clothes” strippers. Yes, my soon-to-be husband would shut his own friends down, leave his bachelor party and come running home to my insecure cow-like ass if those no-respect-for-themselves whores showed up. And yes, I’m naive enough to believe that.

All in all, for as much as I hated strippers, nudie girls posing in posters or in porn, they consumed a lot of my thoughts and were the source of many conversations with assorted beaus over the years. This one was a huge boulder on my way to enlightenment and I knew dealing with it had to be a 30 Thing or I wouldn’t do justice to the challenge at hand.

So one Friday night with the girls, Sassy J, Big L and I decide we were going to have a girls’ night in at Sassy J’s. After some wine for me, a mojitos or two for Sassy J and a handful of rum and Cokes for Big L, we were in the mood to misbehave. One of us, with enough seriousness in their voice to be taken seriously, suggests Ralph’s…the nudie bar. Within two seconds, the cab had been called, the lipstick applied and the last drink taken. We were off to the dirtiest place in the HRM – Sassy J in her cozy sweater, argyle socks and sneaks, me in my modest long sleeved t-shirt (hey, at least it wasn’t a crisp white blouse) and Big L in her tank top and flip flops. “To Ralph’s,” we tell the cabbie. He does a double check in the mirror to confirm that, yes, there are just girls in his back seat. The cab pulls away and we are WAY too giddy. Like a girl who just bought her dream prom dress.

The cab pulls up and out we get…all with a little more swagger than normal. We pay our six dollar cover charge, walk past the dodgy-eyed bouncer (no, really, he had one dodgy eye) and walk into a big, empty bar. Grand total: 20 people. Nothing like shining a spot light on the three ladies at the door: “Good evening, patrons. Tonight’s entertainment has arrived. Watch as they walk in, order a drink, fumble for their money, and find a seat at the back of the room. No, really, watch every.move.they.make.”

My plan: sit at the back, slouch, and hope we go unnoticed. But there was the problem. The nice young ladies (and to be fair, they were far more attractive than I anticipated) were up there providing us with entertainment and no one…not a soul…was throwing money at them. Well, Big L, needed to right this wrong. She attempted to lecture a couple youngins’ who were at a table near us, but they were having no part of throwing their drinking money away. The show was free as far as they were concerned. You can imagine Big L’s unhappiness with this. So, she marched back to our table, pulled our her $30 and had the bar tender change the bills into fives. Then, she waited until the next stripper was performing sufficiently well and she strutted her little apple bum right up to perve row. She proceeded to say thank you for the entertainment and right the wrongs of the cheap men in the crowd. And Sassy J? Well her and her argyle socks got propositioned. She politely declined.

We closed the place out. And honestly, it was one of the best nights I’ve ever had. Not because of the strippers – they were simply a metaphor for a significant mental barrier I had placed in front of myself long ago. The night was so memorable because it was totally spontaneous (something which I am not), it wasn’t 100% good (something which I usually am), and I tackled one of my biggest personal obstacles that night. Truthfully, that night defined what 30 Things is all about. 30 Things evolved from a desperate attempt to recapture my 20s to a vehicle to tackle the types of personal challenges and hang ups we all deal with. Something changed for me that night and there’s been no looking back. Not that I would want to…I know what’s back there and it doesn’t look as good as what I saw on stage that night.
-Wee C

PS – for all you boys who are wondering, no one got a lap dance. Sorry to disappoint.

#22: Finding peace.

– Contributed by Wee C

“Wee C is a bright student, but she does tend to be a bit chatty with the other children.”

“Wee C seems to understand the math assignments in class, but struggles on tests because she rushes to finish her work.”

“Wee C has musical talent, but we can’t seem to slow her piano playing down…she’s always rushing her notes.”

“Wee C, you’re a rock star employee. You bill more time than nearly anyone else. Keep up the great work!”

And so are the days of my life. Scratch that. Even that statement is too languid. There’s nothing low-key about me. I’m a chatter box. A busy body. I live life in a frenzy, always late, always huffing and puffing (and subsequently apologizing for the huffing and puffing). I can’t ever arrive somewhere without behaving like a tornado just rolled in, drawing as much attention to my hub bub as I possibly can. “Look at me! I’m here, I’m here (albeit tragically late)!”

Slowing down in any way is genuinely hard for me. It’s not because I’m one of those remarkable people who is contributing so much to society that the world would literally fall off its axis if they stopped. No, I’m just a chaotic spinning top that someone set in motion and inertia has simply kept me going. I bump into things, but I generally wobble back to center and keep spinning out of control for a seemingly endless period.

This sense of never having control has been one of the biggest and ongoing challenges of my life. I manage to put on a decent show (unless of course you worked with me at a certain organization, in which case my cover job sucked), but when I’m alone by myself I routinely shake my head, replay the silly and stupid things I did during the day as I rushed around, and sink into a bit whole lot of self loathing. And anyone who has ever wallowed in self-pity for an extended period of time knows that sometimes that’s a pretty comfortable place to hang out and stay. It’s predictable and the certainty of judgment (being passed by yourself, on yourself) is somehow safe. Rising above feels risky and unknown. It feels like a shiver running down your spine and makes you want to reach for the nearest blanket.

But recently, with all the life-changing that’s been happening through these 30 things, I’ve gotten brave. I’ve stopped working as much, I’ve started playing more, and I’m becoming a whole lot more comfortable in my own skin. Which is probably why tonight I was finally able to hang out, in peace and quiet, with myself. And only myself. After 11 months of saying I was going to go to the Shambhala Centre to meditate, I finally “found the time” to do it. And it was remarkable. Tear worthy, in fact. No, I didn’t cry, but I kinda wanted to. Tonight, I feel like I have reached a really important stop on my journey. Who knows if I’ll ever meditate again. But for me, it wasn’t about finding a new hobby. It was about finding peace – by myself, through myself, and for myself.

I don’t believe for a second that I have found peace permanently. I need a full rewiring and a completely new stomach (preferably made of steel) for that! But tonight I got a glimpse into what life could be like without permanently having my jaw clenched shut, my shoulders scrunched up into my ear lobes and my chest relaxed. That’s a start.