- I love…that Dan Savage is getting his own show on MTV. (Proof.) My hero. Is coming. To my. Favourite. Channel. Ever. I love life. You know, I know he’s a controversial figure, but since age 14 Dan Savage has been a central figure in the development of my sense of self and my sexual liberation. I feel kind of proud of him that he’s going so mainstream. It’s annoying when I try to tell me friends about something he’s recently said and they have no idea what I’m talking about. Very soon, this annoyance will be no more!
- I love…that today is the last day of class for the term. I don’t know if I’ve ever told you guys this, but this is my first term back in university after a full year off. It’s been a rough transition, especially with my personal life going up and up and down and waaaayyy down as it has been in the past few months. But guess what? I MADE IT!! I worked hard and I focused and I did good ya’ll.
- I love…award nominations! I got nominated for the second year Department of Philosophy award. I didn’t win, but it makes me feel good and loved and warm and fuzzy that after a year off from school, I came back with a vengeance ya’ll!
- I love…that The It Gets Better book is #16 on the New York Times Non-Fiction Bestselling list. Seriously, if you haven’t bought a copy yet, what are you hesitating on?! Amazon link!
- I love…making a new friend. And it turns out she’s from (born and grew up there) Japan and isn’t ethnically Japanese. Turns out, we have a lot in common and it took an entire semester of having the same class and an adventure in cheesecake for us to realize it. I’m sorry I took so long to talk to me classmates. Hello new friend!
- I love…my Amazon “Read This” wishlist. I’ve been keeping a running list of the books I will be reading now that I have time to actually read.
- I love…getting post card requests. I have a project called Focus on the Love where I mail beautiful people postcards of pictures of the city that’s allowed me to blossom into who I am today. And by beautiful people in this case, I am speaking specifically to young closeted LGBTQ kids who need to see what “better” can look like. It takes a bit of time and money on my part, neither of which I have a lot of. But by god, I love doing this and I will keep doing it for as long as beautiful people need me.
- I love…Rachel Maddow. She’s smart and sexy and it feels really good to say that, cause I’m out of the closet and I’m proud of my sexual orientation. In fact, I’m loving hot girls in general right now.
- I love…that my professors are so supportive of my preliminary research in writing my first book. Especially since I’m such a drama case and big projects freak me out.
- I love…Vanessa. She’s amazeballs. And my best friend. I think we need to do a joint blog post or something about making the right kinds of friends as a grown up, cause it ain’t easy and I feel grateful. That’s all.
- I love…the picture below. It translates into: “There is no path to peace, peace is the path.” Image by Gabriel Flores Romero
Archive for March, 2011
I’m struggling with a lot of anxiety due to unfinished work right now. The term is almost over meaning exams are nearly here, and I am toying with the idea of accidentally tripping down a set of stairs to buy myself more time to study. This is impractical though, as I’ve never broken a bone and I want to keep my streak going.
Here’s what’s going through my head right now: We only have so much energy we can expend in one day. We can expand our “capacity to complete” through diligence and practise, but our capacity in the moment is finite despite our potential being infinite. You can’t run a marathon and film an episode of your cooking show and edit the final draft of your best-seller all in one day, every single day. A part of success is prioritising, yes. But I also think that a big part of success might also be managing the energy/time ratio you have to work with each day. Although you can rephrase that to being just another form of prioritising too I suppose. You train yourself to access high levels of intensive energy more often, and ween yourself off of the self-medication of mindless energy expenditure. (Facebook, I’m looking at you.)
To reach high levels of success, not only do you have to refine your particular craft, you also have to spend more time than you ever did before doing the things average people procrastinate on.
Personally, I spend a lot of time on emotional catharsis through writing. This is awesome. It makes me a better writer. However, the emotions I’m constantly cauterizing come from not moving forward in the goals I set for myself. So I spend a lot of energy coming to peace with inferiority complexes, procrastination, stress, feelings of being overwhelmed, etc. and then have very little left to actually do the things that I feel I should. I’ve trained myself to derive catharsis through writing as opposed to catharsis through doing. It’s a strength that I over-rely on, to spend more time describing life than experiencing what is has to offer. I’m doing it right now in fact.
So, I’m going to make an attempt to work on that weakness. No more blogging for me until this Thursday, with a big fat, Things I Love Thursday. (Because it’s such a good exercise in gratitude for me and gratitude exercises keep me sane.) It’s part of the reason there was no Link Love last week. I have an education experience to make the most of, and a GPA to raise for the grad school dreams I’m currently nursing.
Have the loveliest of weeks, and I will see you this Thursday!
1) Clinique Happy In Bloom perfume. Yesterday was the third day of spring in Canada. In Waterloo, we got 2 feet of snow overnight. I am retaliating by wearing bright, floral-citrusy-sweet-and-yummy perfumes and smelling like the refreshing weather I crave. Clinique Happy in Bloom is exactly that. I keep smelling myself and looking like a narcissist but you guys, I smell like some kind of wonderful.
2) Crossing everything off of my to-do list. I don’t want to write about the strategy I’m using just yet, mostly because I have no idea how I’m doing it. Every day for the last few days, I’ve been completeing my daily to-do lists. And these are huge lists you guys. There’s just this fire under my ass, and I love it and am SO SO SO grateful for it. Being kind to myself when my old habits would leave me reeling works wonders.
3) MAC Pro Lognwear lipstick, in Prolong. This lipstick is crap. It transfers onto everything and makes a mess and tastes weird. There’s a reason I keep wearing it though: the day after I bought it, I went out clubbing and then lost it, along with all my ID and my Blackberry. Two weeks later, a benevolent woman tracked me down (I had also lost my student card, and she figured out how to use my school’s student ID# search, which is both creepy and useful) and gave it all back. Wow, right? Now I have a special attachment to Pro Longwear. I’m not recommending this to you though. The search for a good longwear red lipstick is still going. What I do recommend is going out of your way to track down who owns the things you find.
4) Putting plans into action. Making more plans, and putting those into action. Feeling like I’m going somewhere in life. Getting constructive feedback and doing even better. People who encourage me.
5) Loving my body. Yesterday, I was Skyping with my best friend, and I said something which surprised myself: “The more I think about it, the less I worry about my body. The kind of beautiful that I want to be transcends all the physical stuff.” That is growth.
6) Going to see my therapist (best decision ever, seriously!) and hearing him tell me that everything I’ve been doing lately “looks like healthy growth, and you should be proud of yourself.”
7) Waking up to 2 feet of snow on the third day of spring and not getting phased. It just means I get to wear all my awesome knitwear for a few weeks longer! Plus, the sun is still shining. There’s worse weather we could be having right now, you know?
Other Big Things, In Little Sentences…
Coffee. Coffee dates. Lots of coffee in general. Free lattes from gorgeous red heads. Big red tea pots full of chai. Vanessa has the cutest round red teapot that looks like a jolly pregnant woman, and it makes me smile. I drink the tea out of a red mug covered in hearts (this one, which a Starbucks barista gave me 2 Valentine’s days ago) and all feels well in the world. There’s so much red everywhere and it keeps reminding me that I’m constantly surrounded by love. Keeping my planner open all day, every day, and charting my progress. Making time for friends. Writing essays for fun for this blog. Getting really excited about essays I have to write for grades. Getting clear on my intentions. Twitter direct messages from lovely people. Sending good vibes out through Twitter publicly. Air kisses and silly love songs.
And of course, as always,
You, and your love and your support, and the awesome comments you leave when I make the leap to be brave and share it with you.
Thank you for being wonderful.
Your turn! Use ineffable in a sentence to describe something good about yourself and post it into the comment section below!
Dear Buddah Belly,
Over the years, we have had a very interesting relationship. I have alternated between overfeeding you and starving you. I have hidden you behind multiple layers of shame and fabric. I protect you from the touch of others, but not out of any real danger. Unless of course, you count deep rooted insecurities as a real danger. Behind you (and a little bit above, if we’re being anatomically correct) is my heart, which, through mere association, is equally starved of healthy affection.
When I do give you attention, it’s usually in the form of high fat, high sugar, guilt laden foodstuff (it’s rarely legitimately real food) in order to placate you until the next “meal”. If you were a friend of mine, you would have defriended me on Facebook ages ago. It’s an abusive relationship, I know.
I’m ashamed of you. You’re big in a world that praises small. You’re round in a world that praises slim. You are soft in a world that praises the masculine. Or maybe it’s just me heaping on the praise?
People say well meaning things like, “In Africa, they love curvy women! Everyone’s starving, so curves are valued.” I’ll pick apart the assumptions in those words at a later date, but for now, suffice to say they’re so very wrong. I was born in Lagos, Nigeria. In Africa, when you’re 19, they praise your hips and your ass and your tits. Everything else is best minimised. Especially your independence. Lovely lady parts are fine though, cause that makes you look feminine. Big things are admired by no one when they’re on the wrong part of your body, or in the wrong part of your head.
I worry that I am repulsing the perfect guy for me. I would like to say that the perfect guy wouldn’t care, but I am reasonable enough to understand how aesthetics play into attraction. I also realise that I’m defaulting to the heterosexual position yet again. I’m scared to develop too strong a vision of what my wife or girlfriend will be like. I don’t even like having sexual thoughts about women. Not because they don’t turn me on. They do. Oh, how they do.
The thought of a girl with a slightly rough voice, and a funky hairstyle, with an unnatural hair colour of course, and various tattoos and piercings and soft skin that smells like coco butter and is a little salty when I kiss the nape of her neck at the end of the day…
Where was I? Oh yeah, so I default to heterosexuality because my queer yearning are precious to me, and they are a sacred place in my heart, unmarred by insecurities despite everything I’ve heard and seen and been told. To look anywhere but within my heart for how I feel about it would destroy it, and a little bit of me, in the process.
So if I know this about a kind of love that I find sacred, why am I so hesitant to apply that knowledge to the rest of me? Does this mean I don’t really view myself as sacred despite all my talk about self-love? Doesn’t that make me a hypocrite and undermine everything I’ve ever said about anything? Where do these feelings of being trapped inside myself come from? As I write this, I am fighting back tears of anger and hurt and defeat and hope.
I am angry because the world around me started tearing me down the second I was born.They painted my nursery pink, and they made being a girl inextricable from being female and they inundated me with their expectations before I had the chance to say no, and that’s not fair.
I am especially angry because when I did find the voice and the courage to say no, they stripped me of everything. On the one hand, I had a blank slate upon which to begin building the life that would truly make me happy. On the other hand, the wind hurts worst when it whips past a vulnerable soul.
I am hurt that they would leave me.
I am hurt that I had to discover the goodness of humanity through rebuilding a broken heart.
I am hurt that coming out didn’t fix everything.
I am defeated because I am tired of fighting the world in order to be myself when I never asked to be who I once was in the first place! It’s a struggle sometimes, to separate taking responsibility from taking the blame.
I am defeated, because my stomach hurts, because I’ve eaten too much again. It was easier to cook more than to cry. I am defeated because my stomach hurts from not having eaten all day, because hunger distracts you from everything.
I am defeated because my problems seem all consuming, while other girls my age just gave birth to their rapist’s child and no one thought to let her choose. I get to choose, and I feel like an asshole for forgetting.
I am defeated because everything, all of it, life, love, myself and knowing how to feed my body, feels entirely beyond me.
I am hopeful because coming out didn’t fix everything, because the other people that I love always have been and always will be, just a part of who I am. I get to choose the rest.
I am hopeful because I am worthy of love, and I know this even though I sometimes have memory lapses.
I am hopeful because my natural state is happy and nature abhors a vaccuum.
I am hopeful because today I neither overate nor under ate, but instead focused on feeling good.
I am hopeful because today, I allowed no one but me to dictate my self worth.
I am hopeful because today, I looked up into the bathroom mirror after washing my face, and I noticed the eyes of a girl who got out of bed this morning despite it all, and is taking good care of herself.
I am hopeful because I woke up on a couch, a friend’s couch, because I currently have no bed of my own. This was better than going to sleep outside Tim Horton’s in -5 degree weather just 10 months ago. It’s been less than a year and I’ve shown myself a perfect track record of raising after each and every fall.
Oh, how the times have changed. The mighty crumble and your spirit shakes but as your muscles twitch they grow stronger. It makes you bolder, if only by force.
She said to me, “It doesn’t get better. You just get stronger.” She’s half right. You do get stronger, put down deeper roots, and your opinion matters to you more than anything else, especially in regards to how you feel when you catch your own reflection. And that is exactly what better is.
My stomach is still round. I’ll probably overeat again in the next two weeks, and go to bed hungry on purpose shortly thereafter. But those moments will grow further and further in between. How? I don’t know. I find that the more I trust myself, the less I worry about the minutiae.
Dear Buddha Belly. You are much a part of me as my tear-drop shaped breasts and my right eye that is slightly higher than my left eye, and my tattoos and my funny-looking toes. It never occurred to me that I am allowed to love you unconditionally, despite what anyone says. But it also took me a long time to realise that sometimes, girls like boys and girls and everyone in between, all at the same time. And that’s OK. It’s funny to me, how our reasons and emotions sometimes fail to carry over, even when we hold them close.
It’s the love that matters in the end. The love, and the care and the dignity. You can love yourself and want to become better, all at the same time. What matters is if you go to bed happy at the end of the day. What matters is accepting responsibility for your happiness without blaming yourself for that which is outside of your control. Unconditional love doesn’t come with strings attached, you know? What matters is if your self-respect stays intact as you change. I am happy. Right here. Right now. All over.
And you, dear Buddha Belly, are a part of this happy person.
Much body love,
It took me two days, and many moments on the verge of tears, but I finally did it. I wrote a love letter to my belly. I will be publishing it tomorrow, because I want one more day alone with my work. Also, the It Gets Better Project Book is coming out tomorrow, and I think it’d be perfect to use tomorrow to take a holistic look at what it means to embrace who you are.
This letter is one of the most honest and vulnerable things I’ve written in a really long time, both for myself and for this blog. I was worried about writing it. I’m even more worried about publishing it. The last time I wrote super honestly, about my first bruise ever, I went back and edited it an hour later to make it more comedic and less intimate. Why? I dunno- it’s kind of a pattern in my life at this point, and I stopped questioning it a while ago. I’m trying to make a career out of blogging, and I was worried that potential employers and advertisers would dislike the darker parts of my self-expression. It’s unprofessional to get so personal. Except, I want to make getting personal my profession. I read Judy Blume and Penelope Trunk and I look around my immediate world, and I realise that the most beautiful moments are the bravest ones.
I am concerned that I will be judged and that future lovers and friends and co-workers will run the other way if they see that I’m all messed up and my feelings about myself and the world are as jumbled up and weird as they are. For some strange reason though, that just makes me want to press on even more with my honesty. I am reminded of how I felt when Mark Tewksbury (Canadian Olympic gold athlete and the first openly gay man to do so for Canada) confessed in his memoir, to hiring a rent boy every night for several months. He punched him in the face in a fit of fear and anger after the boy said he wanted to end the arrangement one night. I cringed because I don’t like to witness others coming undone any more than I like to see myself falling apart either, but a wall fell in my heart as I peered into the messier side of humanity.
I am opening myself up to the criticism and dialogue that the internet allows, like I did in my impassioned letter to my local public transportation authority, because it’s exactly how I feel and I’d be contradicting myself if I didn’t follow through with my honest expressions. When you dig through layers of hurt and prejudice and shame and anger and sadness, and you come out able to express those things, you do the world a service to not keep that expression bottled up. In other words, when you find freedom, you’re supposed to share it so that others may too be free. Sharing the letter I’ve written with you is how I’m taking my own damn advice. As one of my friends said to me in a tweet the other day, “If it’s true, then you have nothing to be afraid of.” In that case, I have no fear whatsoever.
See you tomorrow.
Much body love,
P.S. I didn’t forget Mindful Sunday. I spent it doing this, but I didn’t want to write about it before I’d finished it.
1) My business ethics class has twitter. It’s awesome to get to have real time convo about class issues in and out of class. I’m connecting with a lot of people that I never would have talked to otherwise. (It’s a big class.) I’m finding that connecting with people in class is getting more and more difficult as you move throughout school, and that make me sad. Yay Twitter for being a platform to lessen the distances between people!
2) My resilience. I never knew how tough I was until I suddenly had to be. I feel really good about myself right now. I mean, I always do, as that’s the general mentality that I promote on the regular, but my self-respect has deepened through the strengthening of my maturity.
3) New roommate! Even if it’s only temporary, rooming with Vanessa from College Life D.I.Y. is kind of amazing. It feels like an extended sleepover. We’ve been laughing like madwomen while she does crafts and I write. I’ll be sad when it’s over, but I’m loving living with one of my BFFs while it’s happening. Until then, it’s cheesy pop songs and late nights FTW.
4) Skype. It allows me to be with my other best friend David, all day, everyday, even though he’s at school in New York City and I’m up here in Waterloo. If this were only 6 years ago, our friendship would be via letters on the Pony Express, or something tragic like that, and our friendship wouldn’t have endured like this. And a life without David is simply no life at all man!
5) The fact that SO MANYof my friends have gotten into blogging. It lets me feel like we can still stay current on what’s going on in each other’s lives even as we grow older and further apart (geographically).
6) You, my dear reader, in all your amazing beauty. I am exhausted, and stressed and frazzled, but then I think about all the wonderful things you do and say and I feel a renewed determination to provide you with value in your lives. Thank you for amplifying my voice, allowing me to do what I do and making me a part of your life. Sine te nihil sum.
“If you fully immerse yourself in making the most of your present, you can rest assured knowing you’re making good decisions for your future. Your present is all you’re going to have to work with throughout your entire life, even in your future.” – My academic advisor to me today, during a meeting about what I’m going to do with the rest of my life.
I’m paraphrasing a bit here, but that the essence of what my academic advisor was talking about here goes back to what I was talking about earlier about Trust. Trust yourself to make good decisions about your present. You’ll get better at foresight once you’ve got a little more hindsight behind you. Same goes for me too man! I try to develop good judgement through school, and studying the great works of my foreparents, and I too often need reminding of the value of firsthand experience.
Thanks for reminding me, academic advisor!
The Weekly Adventure originally started as an attempt at personal growth, through mindfulness.
Mindfulness has two contexts: Buddhism and clinical psychology.
The clinical psychology practise of mindfulness is how I first learned it. The way I interpret it, mindfulness is paying attention to how you are feeling, what you are thinking and what there is before you in this very moment, without judging it or yourself. It is an attempt at being kind to yourself, and honouring your emotions, without indulging the fears and irrational thoughts that can sometimes hurt you. Over the years, mindfulness has really changed the way I approach myself.
It is completely contradictory in nearly every way to how I was raised.
It is calm and gentle and incredibly non-judgemental.
Practising this new way has been both challenging and incredibly liberating. I feel so grateful that I’ve had a variety of mindfulness teachers over the years, and most grateful that they’ve all presented it to me in a way that was easy for me to understand.
Mindfulness has countless strategies that you can use to be aware what you’re currently feeling, but still be able to make rational decisions about what to do next. Weekly Adventure was an attempt at putting these strategies into action, around various areas of my life. What I found though was that my most meaningful adventures were not about setting off fireworks, but in finding it within myself to maintain a steady bonfire. Each Sunday, I’d reflect on the past week, and refocus my resolve to unlearn the things that were no longer working, and then figure out a way to actually bring those intentions into concrete action steps. Considering where I once was, this is a huge step for me.
Mindful Sunday is a moment at the end of the week when you, should you feel comfortable doing so, decide to shed habits that are holding you back from happiness, and adopt new habits (or even do new versions of old habits) that support who you would like to be. It’s a practical exploration in living better and being kind to yourself.
This week, my Mindful Sunday Action Plan (for myself, and for you, should you feel so inclined) is this:
1) Decide on a bedtime. (I have chosen 11pm.)
2) An hour before bedtime, begin the process of getting ready for bed. Create a transition period for yourself, in whatever way you find possible and necessary to begin easing out of work and preparing your mind and body for sleep. Shut down the computer, journal, make tomorrow’s to-do list clean your room. Whatever you need to do to be calm enough to sleep within 15 minutes of turning out the lights, do those things.
I often find that once I get into bed, I’m still so wound up from the day that it takes about 30mins to fall asleep. I then sleep fitfully through the night, waking up at least once or twice to make notes about what needs to be done the next day. The next morning, I wake up tired and upset, which sets the tone for much of my day until I fight to shake off the haze of fatigue.
Or even worse, I am so wrapped up in my work that I don’t collapse into bed until around 2am, with un-brushed teeth and an un-washed face. Eww!
For me, a mindful nightly ritual is a way to form the habit of good, deep and restful sleep, because I am human and my body requires rest to work at its best. It also means making the time to take care of myself, because I am deserving of that kind of T.L.C.
It is a way to indulge myself with rich face creams and chamomile tea and reading great books that I don’t always have time for during the bustle of the day. Surrounding my sleep with calm is a gift to myself, a reward doing my absolute best all day long.
Try it, let me know what you think.