Definition of Crazy

“Crazy is repeating the same actions and expecting different results”.

I have been a Loser most of my life.  From a positive perspective I am really good at being a Loser.  Every diet program I have committed to I have succeeded at.  Without exception I have lost weight.  The total pounds misplaced has varied but the final results have been the same.  They find their way back home.

Keeping the pounds off permanently has never happened.  In fact, over the years they have become more adept at finding their way back and bringing long-lost friends with them.  They always catch me by surprise, in the dark, while I sleep.  All of  my best intentions are buried under their weight.  Every weight loss success has ended with the pounds finding their way back.  For every diet I have successfully followed, there is an additional ninety pounds that circles my life.  With each new diet I have only succeeded in handing my life over to the size of my jeans.

“Crazy is repeating the same actions and expecting different results”.  The action repeated is choosing a “diet” with the goal of losing weight.  To become acceptable when I look in the mirror.  To have my jeans be a single digit.

If I am honest with myself, I have never looked in a mirror and found the woman standing there acceptable.  No changes required.  It has not mattered what the number on the scale read or the size of my jeans.  I could do better.  I could be better.  On any given day, when I looked in the mirror, I have not been able to accept that I am perfect just the way I am.

To change the results I must change the actions.  I will no longer be a Loser.  I will be kind to the woman who looks back at me every morning.  I will love her and take care of her.  Being a Loser most of my life has infected every part of who I am.  Rather than standing on a scale, measuring my waist and looking for the next level of deprivation, I will love myself.

Dieting has made me crazy.  I have given up years of energy trying to win a game that only creates Losers.  To be successful in my life I have to stop defining myself as a Loser.   To be successful I need to care about more than the number on a scale, I need to care for the whole woman who is more than the size of her jeans.

 

Every Woman

It takes great courage to be the first woman to come forward with a story about sexual assault. It is hard. It does not matter if the man was a friend, a lover, a stranger or a man in a position of authority. You open the dialogue with the knowledge that many will not believe you, many will blame you and those who know that you tell the truth will need to find their own courage to support you.

Our individual perceptions on the behaviour of sexual assault is painted with the colours of our own past, the past of our mothers and the history of our family. What were you taught as a child about sex and men? Were you taught that good girls didn’t do certain things, didn’t dress a certain way? Were you told to never take a short cut on your way to and from school? Do you believe that you show your personal power by how you dress, the run you take after dark, or the movements you follow?

In the 1970’s the women’s liberation movement became about bras. Someone figured a bra represented male domination and throwing them out was tossing off the chains of repression. The fight is not a new one and the problem refuses to go away. Sexual assault is a problem with men not women. Yet every time a story is revealed about yet another man in a position of power abusing women we all stand up and make it our problem. The abuser promises to get help, he is sick and needs counselling and we attack each other for expressing our own personal viewpoint on why a woman is abused. The common fact is that each one of us is looking for understanding, a reason, a way to make it stop.

Not all men are abusers, but our legal system, our corporate structures are all designed to support the ones who are. Money takes precedence over what is right. When we can excuse abusive and ignorant conversations about women as just locker talk and then make that man the president we have not come very far at all.

I grew up with the knowledge that it was my responsibility to say no. I never heard the term bad boy used the same way as a bad girl. There was status in being a bad boy. Many young girls were disowned and pushed to the fringes of society for having a reputation as a bad girl. Wear modest clothes and you are ashamed of your body. If you are good girl, you don’t go out on dates, you are not asked to dance and you have no female friends. You are unpopular and boring. Be heavier than acceptable and you become invisible.

Get yourself into a situation that seems impossible to get out of and your pain becomes about “she should have known better”, “I would never put myself in that position”, “why didn’t you just say no”, “you should have fought back”.

Every woman who is abused, beaten, raped, is every woman. Every woman who is subjected to derogatory language and inappropriate touching, is every woman. Every woman who has the door to her success blocked by a man demanding a toll be paid, is every woman. Even if you have never experienced any of these offensive behaviours or violations we are all victims of it. We must stop blaming each other. We should all stand together with the knowledge that one woman raped is the rape of all woman.

Supporting each other requires the understanding that a woman who states, “I don’t dress that way”, has a belief system that dressing a certain way keeps her safe. If you are a good girl, you are safe. In trying to explain to ourselves how to be safe, how to prevent something happening, we victimize each other. As a woman, I will always stand up for the one, even if she has not found the courage to do so herself. I will always strive to understand another woman’s need to stay safe. Maybe, together we can be strong enough for every woman. Maybe together we can stop defining each other for the choices we make and realize they never had anything to do with sexual assault.

Raindrops

In 1970 the movie Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid won an Oscar for Original Song.  The song Raindrops Keep Falling on my Head, written by Burt Bacharach and performed by BJ Thomas.  It was number one on the charts for four weeks straight.  At ten, I was unaware of this as I was too young to see the movie or stay up late enough to watch the Academy Awards.  I did hear it every day on my Mom’s favourite country and western radio station.

Every year between Easter break and Summer vacation my elementary school held a talent show.  It was open to everyone, no exceptions and no restrictions on the definition of talent.

Details are a bit thin, it has been 47 years since that Spring.  I do remember my sister and I practicing with a few other girls a cute little routine to Raindrops that involved twirling umbrellas, rain coats, and yellow boots.

In truth, that might be the description of one of the other performances.  Over approximately two hours, there must have been a version of Raindrops every second or third act.  Every person in the gym had to leave with the words to that song memorized and possibly stuck in their head for ever.  How so many kids managed to pick the same song and do a similar routine is a testament to popular music.

Years later, when I finally watched the famous movie, I laughed out loud when the song started to a backdrop of a beautiful sunny day, bicycles, fields and old farm buildings. No raindrops no umbrellas, boots or puddles. Just sunny skies and love.

Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid is one the classic great movies watched many times by millions of people.  The following year the school administration tagged the sign for the annual talent show with “no Raindrops, please”.  A salute to the power of popular music.

 

1978

1978 was a big year filled with adult decisions, first jobs and tequila.

“Have you ever tried tequila?”, Gail asked. “Or pot?”.  My answer was no to both.  “Would you like to?”, she asked.  “The tequila, sure, but not the pot.  I hate the smell”.  It was 1978 and this was my first sleepover.  Gail and I had met at my first job after I had finished with the drama of high school.  She had been responsible for showing me how to do my job correctly.  Not that I ever really mastered the paperwork.

Gail put together all the required components for tequila shooters.  A bottle of tequila, a salt shaker and a plate of lemon wedges.  “I’ll show you how to do this, the order is important”, Gail said.  She licked her left hand just above the index finger, sprinkled a generous amount of salt that stuck to her spit.  “Make sure you follow the right order.”  I licked my hand and sprinkled the salt.  Then Gail poured two shots of tequila and handed one to me.  ” you lick the salt, drink the shot in one gulp and then suck on the lemon wedge.   Gail held the lemon wedge in her left hand and the shot glass in her right.  I watched as she licked the salt off of her hand, knocked back the tequila and quickly bit into the lemon.  “Your turn”.

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photo by Lauren Mancke on Unsplash.com

I followed her instructions and was rewarded by a salty and sour warmth travelling down my throat.  It was smooth and unlike the movies it did not make me choke or grimace.  “Good job.  Another?”, Gail asked.  I nodded my head yes.  After 39 years I can honestly state that I can’t remember how many shots we had.  I do know that we both got up early the next morning and went to Sunday services at St. Anselm’s Anglican Church where the hymns were accompanied by a guitar.  In the late 1970’s it was seen as a way to welcome younger parishioners.

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Photo by Gabriel Gurrola on Unsplash.com

Gail’s apartment was in the basement of a low-rise building in Vancouver in the now trendy neighbourhood, The Heights.  My daughter has lived in this same area for the past few years.  Her current apartment is in one of the many converted heritage homes and while quite small has a great deal of charm.  There is the added bonus that her landlord allows cats.

The City of Vancouver currently has a huge problem with affordable housing, especially if you have a pet.  As a result, my daughter and her partner have been unsuccessful in moving into a bigger apartment that allows the kitty.  On Saturday, they had an opportunity to look at a bigger unit, one they were hoping would solve their living issues. When I arrived, they were undecided. On our walk to dinner, I suggested that they take me by the apartment so I could give them an informed parental opinion.  To be honest, I was really curious.

As we turned the corner onto the main street and walked to the front of the apartment building I said, “I have to tell you something really funny.  I’ve been in this building.  I had a girlfriend who lived in one of  basement apartment”.  “Oh, my god, that’s hilarious. When was that?, Kathryn asked.  “1978”.  As I pointed to the basement apartment located to the right of the front entrance, I said, “my friend Gail taught me how to do tequila shooters right there”.

Our lives are continuously connected to our past as we move toward our futures.  As my daughter looks to transition to the next phase of her adult life, she is considering an apartment in the same building where I learned about tequila and friendship.

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Photo by Uros Jovicic on Unsplash.com

Featured photo by Gabriel Santiago on Unsplash.com

 

 

 

 

 

Good Times

One of my best memories is being without power and heat and all of us sleeping in the living room. The fireplace was roaring and Mom was cooking beef stew in a big cast iron pot sitting on the fire grate. It was an adventure for me. I thought my parents were fantastic and smart. We slept on air mattresses with sleeping bags for several days.

Years later I discovered that this cherished childhood memory was due to a lack of money.  The oil ran out between paydays.  Memories of my childhood do not include a sense of poverty.  I have memories of making daisy chains in a field of grass, Sunday drives and colouring books.

There was always enough, of everything I child could need.  Wants were another matter, but in the 1960’s and 1970’s the wants were quite limited.  Media had very limited access into my life.  It influenced breakfast cereals, but they were considered a special treat and not something bought all the time.  My Mom was a professional homemaker skilled in stretching a dollar and cooking from scratch.  The meal in the fireplace proved how skilled and creative she could be.

During my own adult years, I can remember the embarrassment of not having enough money for the groceries. Having creditors call looking for payments and the ever pressing need to take care of the kids. You want them to be happy, to not be humiliated at school and to see those big smiles of surprise when you pick up just the right gift for a birthday or Christmas.

There were some things my parents could not give us. Expensive family trips, a colour television, and bikes.  None of these things would have changed who I am now.  With my own children, I went outside the home for work.  The extra finances allowed us to provide the expensive trips and bikes.  I learned that the sacrifice of time was not worth the extras.  For both my son and daughter their favourite vacation was two weeks spent camping in a tent at a provincial park.  The expensive trip to Disneyland only a blip on their radar of best memories.

Being thrifty has become chic.  Reusing, baking, making your own soap, using coupons, cooking from scratch can be googled, looked up on Pinterest and is the subject of many blogs.  Being thrifty is a badge of honour.  It shows that you respect the environment, you are doing what is best for your family, you are making good choices.  Underneath all of these modern viewpoints may still be the truth that money is limited, but now it does not have to be embarrassing.

 

 

 

 

 

Child of the Sixties

I was a child of the sixties.  Not a flower child, just a child too young for free love, protests and Woodstock.  More than half a century has passed since my day of birth and the changes over those fifty plus years have been monumental.

Houses were small and yards were big.  I spent almost all my playtime outside.  It was okay for girls to play with dolls.  The family television was black and white, the internet had not been invented.  Computers filled entire rooms, the telephone had a place of honour on a beautiful wooden table where Mom could chat with neighbours close by or family far away.

We stayed in touch by telephone or wrote letters to be mailed with a stamp.  No fax or email, no Skype or Facebook.  Friends got together for coffee to chat.

There are many benefits to our world of easy technology.  When family and friends are far away, we can stay in touch easily.  There are new ways to be successful, to be creative and share with the world. There are platforms for our opinions, rants and perspectives allowing us to share our everyday with everyone.

As connected as we all are, there is a disconnect from much that is important.  All the screen time means hours inside rather than outside.  Sharing with the world can isolate us in are own lives as we spend much of our time reaching out through the web.  Our choices are many and thus our lives can become complicated.

I have always embraced new technology.  In school I learned to read from text books and write in notebooks.  When I was in elementary school I received a small point and click camera that took black and white film.  When the roll was finished it took ten days to get your photographs back from developing.  Now I use Word, WordPress, Facebook on my laptop, cellphone and tablet.  I take photos with my phone and post them on Instagram waiting for the likes and the follows to accumulate.

I message my grown children and have to remind myself that a telephone call is appreciated and we really should visit in person.  Facebook lets me share their everyday experiences and allows peace of mind in our hectic world.  It also opens the door to all that is scary and sad in the whole world requiring us to continually find the balance in our lives.

As a child my days were full of adventure and play.  I was imaginative and creative in my explorations.  It is amazing what you can create with a bit of mud and dandelions.  The excitement of discovering a bug inside a flower, a frog in a pond, a bumble bee fat with pollen.  It seems more complicated now, to walk out the front door and find these adventures.  More planning is involved, time must be scheduled, a reason must be found other than going outside to play.

Let’s play outside and find balance in our lives with exploration and adventure.

 

 

Spectacular Is

There are obvious answers to the question, “what is spectacular?’.  The view from a mountain top, an eagle soaring, an expanse of blue sky and ocean.  We will climb mountains, travel to the Caribbean, and cut down trees to experience these large definitions.

Consider that spectacular can be in the small, the nearby and the easily discovered.  Sometimes as close as your own backyard.

For one gardening season I worked puling weeds.  All I did was manually remove weeds from customer’s flower beds.  Physically demanding but to my surprise meditative.  Quietly working away without power equipment or herbicides I became tuned into all the nature around me, especially the exquisite.

Discovering a luminescent snail the size of my baby finger nail with a shell almost transparent.  Its head gently swaying back and forth as it became aware of my presence.  No hurry, only quiet as I lay on my stomach and watched its gentle movements.

Bright green tree frogs spending the heat of the day under the large leaves of ornamental plants carefully planted for vibrant displays of spectacular.  The frog carefully hiding his own magnificence to protect his fragile existence.

I owned a home in a community surrounded by large Fir, Arbutus and Garry Oak trees.  Glimpses of blue ocean would show themselves in the fall and winter when the oak trees lost their plumage.  Neighbours would remove trees to get more of the blue view sacrificing the ever-changing, breathtaking experience available within the branches of those trees every day.

If your view of the ocean remains the same every day, do you stop seeing it?  I have discovered that the dramatic and eye-catching can be found in the simplest of endeavours.  Weeding a garden bed, picking up trash, sitting beside a stream or lake having a picnic in your local park or backyard.

Understanding our place in this world begins with redefining our definition of spectacular.  Include the smallest, the weird, the feared.  Look for the positive impact each member of the natural world contributes and learn how to enhance your own influence in a beneficial way.

The Spider & The Crane Fly

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Inquiring minds need to know, curiosity killed the cat and a spider can be given too much of a good thing.

From a very young age I was fascinated with being outside. Outside was wild and I had unlimited access. Mom believed that I was safe and did not consider the calamity I could cause to the insect population.

My fascination with spiders started innocently enough. I could always find the beautifully constructed webs glistening in the morning dew or reflected by the evening porch light.

Gently poking at the web alerted the spider as the vibrations gently moved the web.  A short, soft exhale against the web could illicit the same response from the spider focussed on survival.

What would happen, I wondered, if an insect got stuck. What would the spider do when the gentle vibration reached her?  I spent hours watching, waiting for the inevitable. Any moment now one of the many flying insects from the yard would make a fatal mistake and get stuck. Its panic would create that small vibration as it struggled to get free only to fail and become dinner. Any moment didn’t come even after a few days of dedicated observation. I watched this one spider web for three days. My curiosity got the better of me and it was about to cause chaos in the Leatherjacket (crane fly) population and one small Orb Weaver’s web.

Crane Flies are large insects that look like mosquitos on steroids.  They are extremely easy to catch, even with the small hands of a little girl. The Crane Fly would buzz inside my hand and I could feel the thin wings beating against my palm.

After several attempts, I could launch a Crane Fly into the spider’s web and have it stick. The fly frantically tried to escape sending those all-important vibrations across my little spider’s web. She came running. In mere moments, it was over. The Crane Fly was no longer moving and the spider carefully and methodically wrapped it tightly in a cocoon.

The Orb Weaver spider with her bright orange body spent the next few minutes repairing the web and repositioned herself in the centre.

I was fascinated, I felt exhilarated.  I had given her dinner. Something she had not been able to do by herself for three days. The excitement lasted no more than five minutes.  After all, this little spider hadn’t eaten in three days. I was her friend and the Crane Flies were the foe.  I got good at the catch and release of Crane Flies directly into her web. She was a warrior, running out, subduing the bug, wrapping it up, rebuilding her web.  After six flies, she stopped rebuilding the web leaving it in complete disarray, little cocoons hanging by threads from a shredded masterpiece.

I was heartbroken. I had driven her from her home, making it impossible for this lovely little spider to rebuild her magnificent web. My curiosity had evicted my beautiful orange friend from her home.

 

Natural Power

I grew up in a modest home on the north side of Burnaby Mountain.  The area was rural with only a few homes and neighbours.  There was no bus service and no cable television.  We had “rabbit ears” on our television to bring in the CBC.

A childhood with no technology resulted in a childhood spent outside.  I was an explorer, an adventurer, investigating the world I lived in.  Being on the side of a mountain offered the opportunity to explore little creeks.  It would rain hard in the spring or fall, and the water would form torrents that carved paths down the hillside and sometimes across the yard.  Dad would go out with a shovel and redirect these fast flowing sudden creeks to ensure the house didn’t flood.  In most cases, these sudden creeks would last a week or two requiring a significant change in the weather forecast to stop flowing.

Curiosity took me on a journey to see where the creek started.  I would put on my rubber boots and wade through the creek with the knowledge that following it back would bring me to where I started.  I always started from the hillside directly behind the house and would keep home in my view as I climbed.  When I was a bit older, I would follow the trails built by the parks department looking for little creeks that were always flowing.  I knew that these were different than the sudden torrents that tumbled down the hillside behind our home.

There is power in the flow of water.  There is power in the energy of water.  On the surface it can be interrupted as electricity to power our homes and businesses.  I have found it be much more than that.  Water flows through us.  We are made up of mostly water and the energy of water flows in our veins.

Stepping out of my vehicle and hearing the boom of waves on the sandy shore of Long Beach on Vancouver Island.  Sharing that sound over the phone with my daughter and hearing the emotion in her voice.  Going to sleep at night with the gentle roll and swell of waves crossing the gravel shore of a lake just off the beaten path.  The bubble and gurgle of a small stream or the rumble and roar of a river cascading over a precipice during the spring melt.  All offer me an opportunity to heal, to reenergize and tap into my personal power, to feel the emotion of water.

We need water to survive.  We would not exist without it but for me it offers more than survival.  Water is a powerful force in my life.  It has always held a fascination and it has always calmed anxiety.  It lifts my spirits and strengthens my personal energy.

I invite you to experience the power of water.  I have created videos that share my favourite places.  Check them out at SuzyQtoday on YouTube.

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