Tag Archives: Vulnerability

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 I adored the simplicity of chronicling the day’s activities and the historical reference it provided.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.

Coming Back and Moving On

– Contributed by Wee C

Coming back is what I hate and love the most about any trip. I loathe the day before/travel day. That sense of despair that comes with returning to reality and accepting that the bliss of vacation simply can’t last forever. You pack with far less enthusiasm than you did pre-vacation. Your mood turns a bit somber, already remembering memories that you haven’t yet finished creating. You hold onto that pina colada with a death grip, sucking every last morsel out of the bottom of the cup. Mucho rum! Mucho rum! Insert long, heavy, sad sigh here.

But not long after that comes the post-vacation recall. I find myself smiling at random things, remembering how lovely it all was. Others may have lost their memory on the trip, and are quite likely smiling about that, too. For me, though, vacations almost always yield insights. You become quiet enough to reflect, to see life for what it is (and isn’t), to find the you that may have been lost in the driving pace of work, a troubled relationship, or just simply the mundane rhythm of life. You’re stimulated in ways you would never be at home, you experience and try things that the shackles of life may otherwise prevent, and damn it all, I guarantee you just have way more fun.

Coming back inevitably helps me to move on. I mean that both literally and figuratively. Yesterday, I came back from a beyond delightful trip to Mexico, filled with friends (old and new), laughter, and a little bit of misbehaving. Yesterday, I literally came back from one of the more memorable experiences in my life, one that has helped me move on in more ways than I can count. For that, I am grateful.

Figuratively, I’m also coming back. I’m coming back from a journey that was dark and lonely, and pretty darned miserable. It was a journey (because it sure as hell wasn’t a vacation) that led me to places I never wanted to visit and to experience things I had worked so hard to not have to experience. But, the truth of the matter was I took the journey. I went through it. I owned it. Oh, I make it sound so noble. Let’s be clear, I didn’t go willingly. But with encouragement from Big L (well, it may have been more firm directive), she sent me on a Dante-esque journey through purgatory and hell, telling me to open myself up to experiencing every ounce of pain that can I could possibly handle (she’s such a good friend). Because, as she says, you can’t action your way out of tragedy, you simply have to experience it. Seriously, where does this wisdom come from?

Truth be told, I had the same feelings about coming back from my nasty, miserable, no-fun-at-all journey as I do about the wonderful, delightful ones. Leaving it behind felt kind of sad. In the middle of my journey, I thought I would be stuck there forever…like the plane WOULD NEVER LEAVE. And boy, did I want it to leave. But crossing over to return home felt like I was leaving a piece of me behind. Indeed I was. Now that I’m here, though, I realize that it’s coming back that allows you to move on.

I don’t know that I won’t have to take another crummy trip in the not-so-distant future, in fact I fully expect I will have to, but what I can guarantee is that I’ll get on the bus and go, however bumpy, vomit-inducing and painful it may be. Because, boys and girls, the lesson of the day is that you have to go to come back. It’s not rocket science, but the outcome is equally profound.

Making The Rules

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve always said that I could run for politics because I’d be one of the few people I know who has only a handful of skeletons in their closet. And, truth be told, the few skeletons I have aren’t so much skeletons as dolls that got put away after I got too old. I don’t have a particularly storied past filled with missteps and wrong doings. Sure, I have a few (that I could count on one hand, for Pete’s sake), but nothing remarkable. There’s one simple reason for this: I’m a rule follower. I respect the rules, I follow the rules, I seriously embrace the rules. Which may or may not make me a tragically drab person. I, however, believe I make up for it in other ways. Someone, anyone back me up here??

But I’ve realized something incredibly important in the past week. I don’t follow my own rules. I follow everyone else’s. And I do it because I want them to be happy with me. Over the moon happy with me. I followed my parents’ rules, I followed the church’s rules, I followed my husband’s rules,  I followed all of my boss’ rules over the years, I’ve followed friends’ rules, heck, I’ve even followed the rules of people I don’t much like or care about. All in the name of securing the approval of others. Is she that desperate, you ask? In fact, I may very well be. But I think it’s something different. For me it’s always been more about doing what’s right. I’ve always felt that respecting other people’s rules was more important than respecting my own because putting others first was right and “that’s what makes you a good person, isn’t it?”. And truthfully, that’s all I really want in life…to be considered a kind, respectful, good person.

Now, this may seem all very altruistic, but over a chat with Big L, we explored this approach to life and found a massive flaw. In following everyone else’s rules, I expect that they will too. Heck, if I can give them that courtesy, surely they will return the favour? But most people don’t pay as much attention to the rules as I do…even if they’re making them. So often people don’t even follow their own rules.  The problem is when I’m following their rules, but they’re not, or they change the rules (as routinely happens), the disappointment I feel is overwhelming. It causes me an inordinate amount of stress. It makes me really angry and hurt. I followed all your rules, damn it, why are you changing them? Why aren’t you following them? What did I do wrong? Did I screw up again? It’s not their faults, they’re human. But it sure is disappointing and disillusioning. It causes me to question humanity and, truthfully, it breaks my heart.

In the midst of this realization, this week someone incredibly close to me broke every, single one of their own rules. Rules that I had believed to be true for as long as I had known them. Rules that I deeply admired and loved them for. Rules that I believed with a certainty beyond reason. Rules that allowed me to trust them implicitly (and in fact caused me to vehemently defend them to other people). Rules that I had followed and embraced as my own. Rules that I thought could never and would never be broken.

But they were. They were broken in the most catastrophic and devastating way imaginable. I can honestly say that Friday was the worst day of my life. And the aftershock continues to pulse through my body, finding its way into the nooks and crannies and dark crevices of my life.

As you’ve no doubt come to realize about me, I’m not much for letting an opportunity to learn pass me by. So, true to form, this experience taught me a pretty important life lesson: live your life by your own rules, Wee C. I’ve talked about this through my 30 Things journey, and I’ve genuinely tried to embrace this notion, but have never done so successfully…at least not fully and completely. But now, well I’m operating in a new world order these days. One that’s unfamiliar in every way possible. Everything else is changing, and it’s time to embrace this ideal.

So, I started by following my own rules. For the past couple of days I’ve done what I believe is the right thing to do. It may not be what others agree with, but I’m OK with that. Acting this way felt big and bold and scary. But it also made me feel more comfortable in my own skin than I have in a long time, if only for a moment.

I have an uphill internal battle ahead of me, which, despite being surrounded by incredible friends and family, it’s a battle that I need to go through alone. Supported, loved and being cheered on from the sidelines, but ultimately, alone. That means the only rules I can take with me are my own. And to that I say: onward and upward.

Conditionless Love

– Contributed by Wee C

When I was young and I would hit a low point, my mother was always there with arms wide open, a free hand to stroke my head, and her famous line “it’s hard to be a little girl”, which she said to me long after “little girl” was still an appropriate term. Regardless, it was always what I needed to talk me off the ledge. I grew up knowing exactly what unconditional love felt like.

Lately, my mom and dad have been back in full-on support mode. These days, they don’t need to talk me off the ledge…I’ve learned how to stay back from the danger zone…and my mom doesn’t tell me it’s hard to be a little girl any more (although she still strokes my head from time to time), but they’re once again showing me what unconditional love truly means. It’s not big or grandiose. It doesn’t swoon or gush. It doesn’t walk through the door with flowers (although sometimes it does come in the form of a home cooked meal). It’s simply consistent and predictable. It’s being there because you said you would always be there and for no other reason than that. It’s giving what you can, even if that’s only the size of a pebble. It is exactly what it says it is: loving without conditions.

And that’s where I think we as humans falter. Somehow, we’ve learned to love with all kinds of conditions attached to that love. “I’ll love you if you do this”, or “I’ll love you, but only if you don’t do that”. We’ve given one another labels: boyfriend, girlfriend, mother, father, husband, wife. And within those labels we have assigned job descriptions, must-dos, qualifications. We’ve become so tied up in what another person’s “role” is within our lives, that we’ve forgotten what it’s really about: love in the unconditional form. A celebration of who the other person is, not frustration in who they are not.

So, as we approach the Hallmark-sanctioned day of love, here’s my challenge to you. Look at your relationships. How are you applying labels and expectations to others in your lives? What are you telling them they must do in order to earn your love? Have you forgotten what unconditional love looks like? I did. And so did my husband. And the results were disastrous and I fear, irreversible.

Life wraps its grip around all of us, and it’s so easy to say “tomorrow, I’ll be kinder, more loving tomorrow, but today, I’m too stressed, too tired, and you’re annoying me.” What I’ve learned is that at some point, tomorrow simply doesn’t come. And even though deep down you know that you love the people in your life with a love that is so profound it takes your breath away, if you’re not loving them unconditionally, you’re not loving them enough.

I owe my parents a lifetime of gratitude. I can’t remember a single time that they have ever made me feel as though I am a burden or nuisance to them. Yes, arriving late to a family dinner has noticeably annoyed my dad, but a big hug has always been more than enough to wipe the slate clean. And so, these days, as I spend a lot of time looking at what the future will bring, the only thing that I’m sure of is that conditionless love will abound.

Grateful for Gratitude

– Contributed by Wee C

I’ve been avoiding this blog. I’ve been avoiding writing this post. I’ve been avoiding you all. Even now, I’d really rather hold down the delete button and close the cover on my laptop. In fact, I can feel the chills of stress and anxiety setting in. But, alas, the time has come to soldier on.

You see, life hasn’t been all roses and sunshine lately. In fact, it’s been pretty damned hard. And while I’m not ready to get into the dirty details, suffice it to say that my world has been turned upside down, on top of its head, drowning in a bath of freezing cold water. And, truthfully, I’d rather be curled up by my fireplace with a cup of hot tea and a blanket, thank you very much.

Oh, I knew it had to come some day. Life had been all-too-perfect prior to this. I’ve always said that everyone’s ride will hit a detour some time. Just so happens that now is my time. I wasn’t sure what scenario would lead me here, but I always wondered how I would react, what I would do, when my time came. I imagined myself curled up in bed, balls of tissues practically suffocating me, my oversized hoodie swallowing me up, the blinds drawn into severe darkness. Visions of straight jackets also appeared once or twice. And while I do love a good crisp white blouse, that did feel a titch dramatic.

Truth is, that’s not what happened at all. Ok, well it’s sort of what happened…I haven’t exactly behaved like tears are a precious commodity. But it is true what they say (all those wise people – you know, like Winston Churchill and Voltaire), it is in times of adversity that we find our greatest strength. In my case, it’s where I’m finding my true self.

Over the past four weeks, I’ve seen more of myself than I have in a decade. It’s not for any other reason than that I’m exposed and vulnerable and feeling quite naked (good thing all this stress has resulted in a 10-pound weight loss). I’ve found a strength that I thought had left me a long time ago. But, perhaps most importantly, I’ve found my way back to gratitude. A place that feels so much like home, but one that I had forgotten to visit for far too long.

Let me simply proclaim this. I have been blessed. I am blessed. I will continue to be blessed. My life is rich with blessings. What’s so remarkable to me is the intensity of this feeling at a time when it feels that so much has been taken away. Instead of feeling empty and drained, most days, I’m feeling full. Like a pig feeding at the trough, full. Would I like to get back what I lost? I can’t say yes to that quickly enough. I’d say it a million times over if it would help. But in losing something so big, what I’ve learned is that we can’t ignore what we currently have…today. Not what we wish we had yesterday, not what we long for tomorrow. If I sit here and pine for what I had or what I want, I’m not honouring the love I am currently receiving from friends and family on what seems like an hourly basis. And that love is beyond profound and overwhelmingly generous.

And so, even in the deepest void my life has ever experienced, the water fills in, rises and spills over. It’s here that I realize just how grateful I am for gratitude.

With much love, Me.

– Contributed by Wee C

The Reverb 10 prompt from December 21 struck a cord with me: write a letter to your future self – you, five years from now. What advice would you give yourself in the next year to get yourself there?

Dear Wee C – you’ve always been quick to point out that much can change if you just give yourself the time you need. And boy, were you right. Five years ago, you were sitting on your sofa over the Christmas holidays feeling a little (Ok, a lot) lost, wondering what the next year would bring. You were filled with uncertainty about all areas of your life. You were feeling exposed and vulnerable, but at the same time, confident that something remarkable was on the horizon. And in the midst of all these feelings, you just kept telling yourself to be patient, to hold on, to live with expectancy, and above all, to have faith, ’cause life was about to get really interesting. You didn’t know how true that was.

Your 2010 was about reclaiming yourself. Actually, it was about getting reacquainted, learning what brought you joy and sorrow, what you were willing to give on and what you would absolutely hold your ground on. It was about learning to walk down uncertain, often dark and scary paths, in order to find the clearing on the other side. In fact, the early part of 2011 will be much the same. You should be prepared for this. But be joyful in this journey. Embrace all the tears, fears and victories, as each one has something truly remarkable to teach you. Pay attention. Write your feelings and observations down. Listen to your heart, and most importantly, your soul. Don’t waffle. Be true to the foundation you’ve built in the past year, it will serve you well in the years ahead.

You may have felt that 2010 was your most significant year to date, but I can guarantee you that 2011 will be defining. It will mark a turning point in your life. Oh, I know how you hate change, how it can make you feel as though you have lost control and everything you know is being challenged. But you must give yourself over to change. You must decide every single day, every single moment to be awake and aware, fully conscious that an evolution is occurring and that not a moment will go by that is not part of the grand plan to get you to the next destination.

Knowing you, you want to know what that destination is. What will it look like? Who will be there? Will I like it? Will I be happy? I can’t answer those questions for you. But what I can tell you is that your life, five years from now, will be more remarkable than your wildest dreams can imagine. Over the next five years, you will learn to embrace your potential. You will stop fearing your greatness and you will become it. You will stop apologizing for your very existence and you will fall in love with yourself – truly in love. You will be surrounded by friends, family and relationships that are steeped in love and joyful interactions. Joyful, Wee C, joyful. Your professional reach will be far beyond your city or your country. You will impact people around the globe. You will be constantly innovating and creating, bringing others solutions that improve their lives and yield the clarity they have been seeking.

But, more than anything, you will be peaceful. All the turmoil and angst you have allowed yourself to feel – for as long as you can remember – will be replaced by a calm bliss. You will embrace the time you spent feeling anxious, stressed and overstretched, as it will have taught you how to find peace. You will acknowledge that life is simply a series of days, strung together by your attitude and outlook on life, with each leg of the journey contributing a different coloured thread.

Wee C, I cannot stress to you enough how amazed you will be in five years time. Each year between now and then will bring you to new and greater heights. You simply need to allow it to happen. Stop meddling, controlling, and fussing and start by embracing the wonder of every single thing life has to offer. Start by hugging your husband and being grateful for his love. Start by cleaning a closet and feeling the triumph that comes from clearing out the crap and clutter. Start by curling up with a cup of tea and a smile, nothing more. Simply, start.

I can’t wait for you to catch up and join me here in the future, for you to look back on this time in your life and recognize just how far you’ve come and what you have accomplished. Buckle up, babes, this ride is about to get interesting.

With much love (more than you can possibly understand today),

Your 35-year-old self, xo

Thanks to Jenny Blake for a prompt that yielded a particularly introspective, and fulfilling post. With much appreciation.

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. You.have.got.to.be.kidding.me.

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.

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.

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.

#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.