Thursday, August 30, 2007

Walk outside look at the sky, ask it to fall or tell you why...

Take a moment to check out this unique video put together by Max and Jason for Current TV. This was filmed back at the end of June when Matthew Good did the acoustic show on his birthday in Las Vegas. I think it's beautifully done. Take a look:

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Notes from the drumkit...

Today was one of those days at the office that I just needed to get stuff done. On these kinds of days, I put in my earphones, turn up the volume really loud and motor through my pile of tasks praying that nobody will come up and give me the 'shoulder tap' whereby I must take my earphones out and talk to them. Usually I blast music from my ipod or tune into Edmonton's Sonic radio via the web. Sometimes I listen to back episodes of The History of Rock report. Today I discovered what will become a new obsession: Taggart's Take.
Jeremy Taggart is the drummer for Our Lady Peace, and Taggart’s Take is the podcast that he hosts, where he does impressions, skits, interviews and talks about everything from Canadian music to politics, and beyond...and when I say beyond, I really mean it. The podcasts air locally on The Fox and on several other radio stations across the country.
I've listened to the music of Our Lady Peace for years and I must admit that I certainly had a crush on Mr. Taggart when I was a teenager. But in all honesty, I tuned into Taggart's Take today because he was chatting with my buddy Matt Good. Knowing how entertaining Matt is to listen to, there was no doubt in my mind that this would be a fun interview-but man, were my expectations exceeded! What I discovered is that Jeremy Taggart is hysterically funny and a truly brilliant comedian. There I was at my desk, laughing out loud like a lunatic all day long. I dug into the archives because I couldn't get enough of Jeremy's podcasts. I howled through every single one. His humour is not unlike that of myself and my friends, which is why I think I appreciate it so much. One of my favorites is Tracking Down Cuba Gooding Jr. but the Weak Impression of Donald Sutherland and It Ain't Easy Being Lil are funny as hell too.
Check out part three of the interview with Matt Good, which is up next. You will not be disappointed, I promise.

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

In the shadow of moonlight you can show me a new place to start

Struggling with my insomnia again the last few nights. To blissfully close my eyes and forget is no longer effortless; I wonder if I lay between those starry sheets, beneath that glowing colorful spinning spectrum of dreams...I wonder if that way, the sleepless nights would feel alright. I wonder if I would feel justified. As it is, I lay here restless, left to daydream but unable to let my heart play seamless movies on the insides of my eyelids; lightly freckled shoulders lay beneath thick sheets, too hot, too cold; and my conscious gives way to small spiders that climb and crawl across this awkward body. They don't let me sleep; I just want to forget.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Let's go surfin' now, everybody's learnin' how

This past weekend was my last big adventure of the summer. Right after work on Friday, Jessica and I took off for a weekend of surfing in Tofino. My body took a beating when it was pounded by waves, and muscles are hurting that I didn't even know existed until now, my hands are covered in blisters from the long board and salt water- but I have a huge smile on my face and a head full of wonderful memories.
This has been a big year for new challenges in my life. Working for a lifestyle clothing brand in the action sports industry has given me some amazing opportunities to try new things. This past winter I hit the mountain and learned to snowboard; this weekend, I took on the ocean. Jessica and I participated in the Roxy Surf Camp put on by the Bruhwiler Surf School. The camp was a fantastic way to try a new sport, learn some new skills, meet some awesome girls and spend a fun weekend in the ocean and the sun. The rush of catching and actually being able to ride a wave is mind blowingly exhilarating and something I never actually imagined I would be able to do. But I did. Surfing may very well be the most fun sport I've ever tried. Bright and early Saturday morning, we put on our (less than flattering) wetsuits, and headed out to Chesterman Beach with our crew of ladies stoked to play Blue Crush. Unreal.

Our instructor was Catherine Bruhwiler, who is one of the top surfers in Canada. She is incredible to watch- she makes everything look so easy. She would ride a wave and every single person on the beach and in the ocean would stop and stare, mouths hanging open, in awe of her gracefulness. Having grown up in Tofino, Catherine has been surfing since she was a little kid. Her two brothers Raph and Sepp are both Quiksilver sponsored pro surfers as well. She now spends the better part of the year living in Mexico with her husband and two kids, surfing. She comes home to Vancouver Island to teach the Roxy Camps at the family surf school each summer. We were so inspired by her energy and skills. We could not have dreamed of having a more fabulous instructor. She cheered us on and showed us the ropes for two full days of riding the waves and hanging ten.

There's really nothing that beats a day at the beach. I don't think I could ever live somewhere that wasn't close to the ocean. I really treasure having access to it any time I feel like it. We lucked out with the weather- there were some clouds and drizzle Saturday morning but it cleared up to sunny skies for the most part by the afternoon and Sunday was a flawless stretch of clear, blue sky and beaming sunshine. My whole life, I've been fantasizing about learning how to surf. And now I can say that I've gotten out there and given it a stop, the Pipeline in Hawaii in my bikini. I'm hooked.

Despite the crazy ferry line-ups (note to self: make reservations for all future ferry trips!) the weekend was absolutely perfect and I have discovered a love for a new sport to boot!

Thursday, August 23, 2007

I don't sleep, I dream

I have always been fascinated by dreams. My whole life, I have been a dreamer; whether peaceful, entertaining or a full out night terror, I have always had very real, vivid dreams. My dreams are always in colour and I am always myself. I go through phases where I'll dream very intensely every single night for a period of time. I'll remember these dreams in great detail. I'll wake up exhausted, from the intensity of the events that have occurred in my subconscious. Then there will be phases where I won't remember a thing or perhaps I don't dream at all. I've always said I should write them down- I could write a book with these elaborate storylines. I should really create a dream journal to keep track of them all. I have always been intrigued by the subconscious mind. Thoughts that come from our minds and imaginations which we're not even aware are in there, are utterly astonishing sometimes.

For the last month or so, I've been on a major dream kick. I've been dreaming with great tenacity every single night and then I awake, almost believing that I've had actually these great adventures because they seem so real. People who I have not consciously thought about in years are making appearances each and every night. I've never known if these patterns of intense dreams correlate to anything specific that I'm doing. Is it something I eat, hormonal, just my various sleep patterns? Hard to say. I've never been able to pin it down. Three nights this week, I have had vivid dreams about a child. I am holding him so tightly that I can still feel him in my arms when I wake up. He is a little boy whom I call Mo and we are somewhere that looks like Africa. It's insane how real these dreams have been. And more bizarre still, is that I have had this same dream three times now... it's the first recurring dream that I've ever had.

I have spent quite a bit of time reading different theories about dreams including thoughts from Freud and Jung. I have read several of Carl Jung's books; my favorite being Memories, Dreams, Reflections. I really do buy into Jung's theories on this topic for the most part. He believed in the existence of the unconscious. However, he didn't see the unconscious as animalistic, instinctual, and sexual; he saw it as more spiritual. Dreams were a way of communicating and acquainting ourselves with the unconscious. Dreams were not attempts to conceal our true feelings from the waking mind, but rather they were a window to our unconscious. They served to guide the waking self to achieve wholeness. Dreams offered a solution to a problem we are facing in our waking life.

Jung viewed the ego as one's sense of self and how we portray ourselves to the world. Part of Jung's theory was that all things can be viewed as paired opposites (i.e. good/evil, male/female, or love/hate). And thus working in opposition to the ego, is the "counterego" or what he referred to as the shadow. The shadow represents rejected aspects of yourself that you do not wish to acknowledge. It is considered an aspect of yourself which is somewhat more primitive, uncultured, and awkward.
Since dreams were a way of communicating with the unconscious, Jung felt that the imageries in dreams were a way of revealing something about ourselves, our relationships with others, and situations in our waking life. Dreams guided our personal growth and helped to self achieve our potential. He also believed that the dream's manifest content is just as significant and revealing as the latent content. Often discussing what is currently going on in your life, helps to interpret and unlock the cryptic and bizarre images of your dreams. Jung's method of dream interpretation is placed more confidently on the dreamer. He believed that we all possess the necessary tools to interpret our own dreams. There is no one correct way to interpret a dream. The meaning of your dreams is a personal judgment and is up to you on how to interpret them. Whatever interpretation felt right to you is most significant and more important than what someone else thinks or believes.

In our waking life we must adhere to certain standards and belief systems that are accepted by the majority of people around us. Within the constraints of this collective reality, we cannot do certain things. We cannot fly. We cannot walk on water. We cannot move into a palace and live in luxury. We work with the collective reality to determine what is possible and what is not possible. So, at certain times, we escape the shackles of the collective reality and travel into the essence of our own reality through dreaming. Dreams take us to a place where we don't have to play by the rules of reality. I wonder where I will escape to tonight!

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Inside my present, so much past

I looked my past in the eye and truly wondered how I could have ever thought that he would be my future. I felt awkward, like I wanted to jump out of my skin. Though I had to recognize that if I hadn't made some of the mistakes I've made, then I wouldn't be as strong as I am now. I wouldn't be as wary of the signs of not being treated the way I want. I wouldn't know what things are important to me. These intense tornadoes that I walk away from—though at times ridiculous, embarrassing and uncomfortable—have taught me so much.

Revelations are sometimes so loud that they're ear-piercing, and sometimes they're so quiet that they're heartbreaking.

More and more, I think that one of the qualities I value most is consistency. And I think that consistency is also the thing that I respect most about a couple, whether they can work on their problems. Being able to count on one another, no matter what, being honest and open with one another all the time, is what it takes to make it. It's always going to be a bit of a struggle to determine how much of yourself you get to keep in a relationship. We meet each other, we fall in love. There are our passions, our idiosyncrasies, our traits and quirks. And then, somewhere along the line, those very things may be getting in the way. How do you find that balance? I think, in the end, you can't try to water down or change that person. You try to find a balance. You try to make it all work. And if it doesn't, then you pack up your suitcase full of lessons and experiences and you move along. And that's okay. Sometimes a particular relationship is something we need to go through in order to make changes that are necessary in our own lives.

And don't get me wrong, I'm still a romantic. I believe with my heart and soul that you can meet someone who encompasses everything you want, who can actually be the sexiest person and your best friend. Somebody who will laugh with you; who you want to talk about anything and everything with, or are comfortable just being silent with. The two of you become this beautiful island that is so sacred. I don't buy into the Cinderella theory that you just have to sit around and wait for your perfect prince to come and rescue you. No! That doesn't appeal to me. I want to know that you're a screwed-up person, that you're going to figure yourself out and on the way you find room for love in your life. That, to me, is real.

I still have faith that one night, I'll find myself standing on the grass, and it'll be raining. I will be with the person I love, and I'll know that I'm at the very point I've been dreaming of getting to...that I finally got there.

Saturday, August 18, 2007

I'm Miss World, somebody kill me, kill me pills

I've been listening to my Hole records a lot over the last couple of days. I had a conversation with a friend at work the other day about Miss Courtney Love. He is not a fan. I, on the other hand, have been a fan of Courtney Love since Christ was a cowboy. I get really defensive when people trash her. I have a loyalty to her, whereby I feel I must defend her talents. As a teenager, I idolized Courtney because she was this badass rock-chick that didn't seem to care what people said or thought about her. And indeed she reached great heights. What was so inspiring about Love in her grunge years was she never attempted to cop a pose of any sort; she let it all out in a terrific and often terrifying spectacle.
In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young's classic refrain: "It's better to burn out than fade away." On Celebrity Skin, Love responds to her dearly departed: "When the fire goes out you better learn to fake / It's better to rise than fade away." In this lyric we can read her survival strategy. Trauma affects us all differently; in Love, it manifested itself in an about-face, a cover-up of the unruly emotions she traded on. Love has always been a woman of extremes, so it probably should not have been so surprising that in constructing her new protective shell, around the time that she became a movie star, she went to the other extreme, coming up with a sanitized version of herself that was so squeaky clean and perfectly packaged it was hard to reconcile with the loose cannon of a mere few years earlier.
Over the last few years, she has gone through ups and downs- been in and out of rehab. I am truly sad for her that she hasn't been able to get her addiction problems completely under control or her life back on track because I really think that she's a brilliant woman. Live Through This and Celebrity Skin are two of my favorite albums of all time. I have so much history with those two records, a long standing love affair with the music of Miss Love. Her words and voice have gotten me through some rough times. She speaks honestly and with such articulation. Passion breathes inside the depth of a tortured heart. Matthew Good wrote, "one thing that will never change is that that which touches us remains in our hearts and memories forever. Through music we document our lives, our loves and losses, our trials and tribulations, and our happiness. It is, without question, one of the most powerful and unifying forces known to man." That is precisely why I have such a ferocious love for music.
One of my favorite memories is being in the moshpit at Thunderbird Stadium for Edgefest back in 1999. It was the ultimate lineup: The Matthew Good Band and Hole were playing the same show. It was my dream come true; my two favorite bands. I was in strappy sandals, capri pants and a little tank top. I had my tiny, over the shoulder purse. I was your classic 18 year old prep from the suburbs. Although I was dressed unlike any of the "real hardcore moshpitters," I was willing to do anything to get as close to Courtney Love as possible. She came on stage and I did everything in my power to get right up there. And I did. I almost got trampled to death and lost my purse, but I was front and center when Miss Love pulled up her top and flashed her perfect breasts to the crowd. She is so passionate and in her element on stage. Absolutely incredible to see live.

Say what you want about Courtney Love, but she is one hell of a talented songwriter and dammit, that woman can rock.

Friday, August 17, 2007

There's nothing inside her, she's weak and she's tired of feeling like this

I came across an article in The Province this morning written by Misty Harris called 'Thinspirational web videos prompt calls for a ban' speaks of a new type of graphic Internet video which has inspired calls from website administrators to ban or limit these clips being accessed by teenagers through Facebook, MySpace and Youtube.

The cause of concern isn't pornography but rather "thinspo" videos alleged to promote anorexia and bulimia among the young people who watch them. There are currently more than 8,000 public thinspo - also called thinspiration - videos on YouTube, most of which set images of skeletal models, celebrities and anonymous real girls to songs such as Lisa Loeb's She's Falling Apart, a favourite anthem among disordered eaters.
They tend to be accompanied by "motivational" words for pro-ana (pro-anorexic) viewers, such as the message in the video "Thinspiration By Livi" reading: "Every time when I'm about to eat, I look at these girls and then remember that nothing tastes as good as thin feels."

Thinspiration is defined as "a term that refers to a role model used by people (often individuals with eating disorders) to inspire them to lose weight. It's most common in the pro-ana community, but not confined to it. " While I myself had never heard of such websites until I read Harris' article this morning, I certainly have used images of thin women to help fuel my own weight loss efforts in the past. I have also spent a great deal of time obsessing over food, eating, weight loss and body image. That said, this issue hits very close to home for me. I have been on both ends of the weight spectrum- a size 16 at my heaviest and down to skin and bones at my thinnest. I know what it is to get into that mindset where you want to be thin more than anything else to the point where it's almost all you can think about. I have gotten myself so thin that my face is drawn, my bones are showing and my family is worried; but I still don't think I'm thin enough. I have congratulated myself for being able to get through a day of eating next to nothing and given myself a pat on the back for putting in overtime at the gym. I certainly have engaged in severely problematic food and weight behaviour at different times in my life. The weight I am at today is my healthiest. This is me watching what I'm eating, being conscious of nutritional value, and being active but not being completely obsessive. Ironically, I think I'm fat right now.

The worst part about the images being portrayed in popular culture today is that they are completely unrealistic, airbrushed, manipulated . . . and put a lot of pressure on young people to look a certain way. This is extremely dangerous.

Eating disorders drive many sufferers into isolation, overcome by feelings of deficiency in the single-minded obsessive pursuit of perfection. To allay the ensuing loneliness, many young people turn to the Internet where scores of Web sites are devoted to their friends "Ana," "Bella" and "Mia," cyberspace nicknames for anorexia and bulimia. While anorexia proponents cite the web pages and communities they spawn as places to draw strength, health care advocates have spent the last decade condemning them.

In doing some research for this post, I took a look at the National Eating Disorder Information Center's website. The statistics are absolutely startling.

Scouring through magazines, clothing catalogs, newspapers, television and the movies, some eating-disordered women seize upon super-skinny celebrities for "thinspiration," a term used on pro-anorexia Web sites to describe admiration for their role models. Supporters post pictures of their thinspiration favorites on Internet sites and community discussion boards. Popular thinspiration celebrities include movie star Keira Knightley, tennis star Anna Kournikova, and models Kate Moss and Oksana Pautova. Even those like Mary-Kate Olsen and Victoria "Posh Spice" Beckham, who have publicly admitted to their battles with eating disorders, are held up as templates for success.

The singularity of focus is what makes the pro-eating disorder websites so unique. Instead of four or five pages of emaciated, elongated, computer-manipulated models spaced out in a magazine among editorial content, these sites stockpile these images exclusively. To curious observers, rather than having a temptation to emulate these images, more likely their reaction may be surprise at how absolutely commonplace they are. In other words, the majority of these images are by no means underground, subversive, or secret. They are merely purloined from the many media images we encounter on a daily basis without even trying.

There is one style of thinspiration that is unique to pro-eating disorder Web sites: photos portraying underweight individuals, always girls or women, participating in questionable behaviors, such as kneeling over a toilet, exercising, or showing off their skeletons. The more disturbing Web sites include captions such as “I love your bones,” indicating that such appearances are desirable.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who has dealt with disordered eating, body dysmorphia and the struggle to be thin, these websites really worry me. This is why I felt compelled to write something today upon reading this article this morning.
"In an ideal world, we would all take responsibility for the content of our websites ... But there's also this concept of free speech," said Morand, author of Food Is Not The Problem: Deal With What Is.

"So the question is, where do we draw the line about what's appropriate versus what's harmful - harmful to the people taking part and harmful to the people watching."

At a time when there are so many more important issues to be focusing on in this world, why are so many young women consumed by this quest for thinness? Imagine the good that could be done if all of this energy was focused somewhere more positive.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

Synchronized like magic

I have returned from our annual Summer Houseboating Extravaganza. In past years, we have filled a boat with upwards of 25 people…this year, we opted for a smaller boat and scaled down the group to a carefully selected number of our closest friends.
We left out of Salmon Arm on Friday and hit up Shuswap Lake- Canada’s houseboating paradise- aboard the ‘Tropical Mist’ for 4 days of fun in the sun on the water. The lake is wild and rugged; home to pristine, sandy beaches, towering waterfalls and warm, clear water. While the weather wasn’t pure perfection, the rain did stay away- so that was good enough for us.
Derek J. and Tommy were our two captains, and did an excellent job of navigating us around the lake. We spent the days lounging on floaties in the water, sitting in the hot tub, drinking Caesars and suntanning. By night, we had dance parties, and singalongs, roasted marshmallows by campfire, brought out the beer bong and consumed copious amounts of amazing food.

Highlights of the trip were: Miss Di- the beer bong champion and first star of the weekend, our mock Big Brother vote off, Jason’s (controversial) speedo, Tom pulling out the rock star wig and Elvis glasses randomly, Jay's ambiguous sexuality, pretty much everything Davis did on our last night and us trying to find the markers and dock the boat back at the marina at the end of the trip (Derek almost beached us, and the radio guys hated our guts!)
All in all, it was a fabulous trip! Cheers to the whole crew for making this the best houseboating year yet! I am so lucky to have such an unreal group of friends!

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

I am doll eyes, doll mouth, doll legs

Body image and the struggle for self acceptance are themes which I have written about frequently. After spending a weekend in my bikini with 15 of my friends on a co-ed houseboat and talking to most of the girls about these very issues, I got to thinking...

Why is it that we can see beauty in others, but not in ourselves? Look at Narcissus. He was a man so consumed by his own image that he drowned in it. There are lots of times when I wish I could just be really tiny. You know those people who are so thin that you wonder how the hell they ever got that way or how all their organs even fit inside them? I hate to admit this, but the media does play a role... being bombarded with images of celebrities who have turned into skeletons with twig arms and hollow cheeks and no boobs, has a way of making a girl feel bad about her curves. I hate to admit that I am affected by it. See, I consider myself to be relatively intelligent. But seeing these images constantly does start to make you feel like you should be thinner. Hmm...I still have boobs, my arms are a little chubby, I don't have 5 inches between my thighs, and my stomach isn't immune to bloating. My awareness of these facts makes my body a backdrop for my everyday life. My stomach, back, butt and overall appearance are always in my peripheral vision, not my sole focus, but definitely tickling at my consciousness. I try to remind myself that healthy girls don't envy other women's small frames or sunken cheeks. They don't find pride in the comment, "wow, your collar bones really stick out." They don't feel guilty for not being as thin, or muscular as a magazine clipping. But here I am, insecurity-laden, nervous and wanting to become Miss Skin'n' Bones. Here I am, flipping through Victoria's Secret catalogues wishing that I could order the bodies instead of the clothes.

Our bodies are often the target for our harshest judgements and the barometer by which we measure our self worth. We hold ourselves up to unattainable standards and berate ourselves for coming up short of perfection. Maybe it's because our physical self is the form in which we show up in the world, so it is very often the way we define ourselves. But it shouldn't be. Imposing harsh judgements on your body limits the range of experiences that you allow yourself to enjoy. Years ago, I can remember tainting a potentially amazing day at the beach because I was so worried about what everybody would be thinking about how I looked in a bikini. I would have enjoyed a day like that so much more if I could have walked across the sand and not felt self conscious. Would my life really be enhanced if my stomach was flatter or my legs were smaller? Probably not, but being able to live my life, and not obsess about what I look like and what everybody is thinking about how I look, would enhance everything I do in life. True acceptance comes when you can embrace and appreciate your body as it is right now, and no longer feel that you need to alter it to be worthy of someone's love--most of all your own. It's natural and human to want to be at your physical best. But this means that you have to stop criticizing, judging and finding fault with your body, even when you are not at your healthiest or most attractive. The drive to improve yourself is healthy- but only if it comes from a place of self love as opposed to a feeling of inadequacy.

I aspire to get to a place where I truly love myself and accept myself as I am. My mom has always told me to accept the things I can not change, and change the things I can. The key, she says, is having the wisdom to know the difference.

This weekend, I didn't hide under dresses or towels in the sun. I tried to let go of my insecurities. I made an effort not to worry about what anybody thought about my body. I rocked my bikinis and decided not to give a damn.

I think we all struggle with self love in our own way. But love or hate it, this body will be yours for the duration of your life on Earth. I guess you may as well make the most of it; that's what I'm trying to do.

Thursday, August 9, 2007

This is where the world drops off

Curling up with a good book and really delving into it has been one of my greatest pleasures in the universe, ever since I was a child. Those of us who are addicted to reading know just how wonderful it feels to lose yourself into a whole new world. We also know exactly what Gustave Flaubert was trying to say when he exclaimed, "Read in order to live." And don't we all want to live and not just exist?

My most recent read was recommended to me by my mother. It is a book called A Thousand Splendid Suns.

In 2006, Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner -- which has sold 8 million copies in 34 countries -- received the Humanitarian Award from the U.N. Refugee Agency, and was named a goodwill envoy for that agency. As a native of Afghanistan, a country with one of the world's largest refugee populations, Hosseini said he planned to "use his access to the media to give voice to victims of humanitarian crises and raise public awareness about matters relating to refugees." With the publication of this one, his second novel, A Thousand Splendid Suns, Hosseini revisits Afghanistan for a compelling story that gives voice to the agonies and hopes of another group of innocents caught up in a war. This time, Hosseini tells of the experiences of the thousands of silent burqa-clad women of Afghanistan

Told through the alternating voices of two women, the story spans the turbulent period from the 1970s to post-9/11. The multigenerational story is set mainly in the city of Kabul, Hosseini's birthplace. Afghanistan and its culture are as integral to the story as the relationship between the two women, Mariam and Laila, and their abusive husband, Rasheed.

This novel's readers will also gain a better understanding of the effects of what Hosseini calls the "cultural vandalism" of the Taliban, which shattered Afghanistan's arts and culture, and the devastating impacts of Shariah law on women's lives.

A Thousand Splendid Suns is the painful and, at times violent, yet ultimately hopeful story of two women's inner lives. Hosseini's bewitching narrative captures the intimate details of life in a world where it's a struggle to survive, skillfully inserting this human story into the larger backdrop of recent history.

If this book had been a thousand more pages, I would have continued to read them.

I find that in general, the most wonderful thing that reading offers is a peep into another world. When you pick up a book and allow yourself to be lost in it, it's like you have transcended your present situation. This temporary escape from our routine life is of great significance. Reading offers us a chance to see the world from someone else's eyes, thus broadening our horizons and opening our minds to new possibilities.

Tuesday, August 7, 2007

Worry is wasteful and useless in times like these

I tend to worry a lot, I always have. I worry about what's going to happen or what's not going to happen. I worry about what people will think or are thinking, what they will say, what I should do or should not do. I worry about everybody and just about everything in my life. My stomach is often in knots about this or that. My grandmother used to always tell me that if I didn't have something to worry about, I'd be worrying because there was nothing to worry about. She also used to say that "worrying casts a large shadow for a small thing." She knew, because she was a worrier herself. And while I know that worrying doesn't get you anywhere, it really hasn't stopped me and I'm pretty sure that I come by it honestly. I realize that most of the things that I worry about, I don't have any control staying awake at night distressed with anxiety is really serving no purpose at all-but still, I often find it hard to calm my nerves.

Life is not a dress rehearsal. There's no script to follow, no way things are "supposed" to unfold. Life just happens and for the most part, things usually end up being ok. This is what I tried to tell myself as I hysterically drove home from work today in a fit of anxiety and emotion with Arcade Fire blaring from my speakers and tears streaming down my face. My mother's soothing voice was on the other end of the telephone telling me to calm down and take deep breaths.

Over the last year, I think I've grown a lot as a person. I've certainly figured a lot of things out. To be quite honest, it's been a whirlwind. The relationship between myself and the person who I had always thought of as my true love, my soul mate, completely dissolved. I was forced to refocus. I had to admit that what I thought I wanted at one time, was not really the right thing for me at all. I moved out on my own to the neighbourhood that I wanted to live in, I started a new career in an industry that I am passionate about. What I have figured out is that at this moment in time, I have every right to be the most important person in my life. I can not look to anybody else to "complete" me or be my every happiness personified. I have to look out for myself and I have to fulfill my own destiny. I can't ride on the coat tails of somebody else's dreams. I have to go after what I want and make it happen. I deserve to have all my needs and wishes and dreams actualized as much as anybody else. It took me a long time to see that. This is not to say that I don't still have days like today where I lose my grip and feel like I'm spiralling...inevitably there are moments when I feel overwhelmed. My improvement is in being able to pull myself together and get back on track much more efficiently than before.

People come into our lives and influence us in many ways. Some of these people will stick around a lifetime, others will make only brief appearances. Either way, these key individuals help shape who we become. I've felt what it is to be with somebody who appreciates me like I am, somebody who thinks I'm a beautiful person no matter what I think of myself. I'm pretty sure that at least to some degree, I will always feel not so sure of myself and my abilities, and I will always be trying to work harder. But I now recognize the importance of being able to function as a human being and not be dependant on praise and external adulation. There are things that we all have to do and go through. It is in having experiences of all kinds that we truly live. I have been so fortunate in my life so far to have been touched by so many dynamic individuals. These people are my soul mates. I am so blown away by authenticity. I love to be surprised by people who are themselves. For the first time, I feel like I am really myself.

Matthew Good shared a personal comment on his site today and this quote really struck me; he wrote,
"Popularity, looks, social status - these are little more than transient elements in our lives. It is the pillars that remain to support our foundations, imperfections and all, that matter most."

So on days like today when I get down and I lose control, or I find myself worrying about trivial things, I try to remind myself what is really important. I am so blessed to have such a strong support system. I could not be more thankful to have those pillars to support my foundation, no matter what.

I'm standing on a stage of fear and self doubt

Is it strange that I stand in front of the mirror, criticizing every imperfection, analysing every inch? Sometimes I think that if I study myself enough, maybe I'll become more comfortable with what I see; but it seems to do the exact opposite. I need to escape this. I really do understand though, especially lately, the importance of stepping outside of myself, of really looking at the world with wide eyes. I cried in my car yesterday, listening to Joni Mitchell. Looking out the window as I drove through the Lower East side of Vancouver, I could see a man who appeared to be having the most fulfilling conversation. His eyes were wide and entranced, his hands soaring and dipping as he spoke. Laughter was pouring out of his mouth, from deep, deep down. His whole body shook. He was alone; conversing with his alter ego perhaps. We are often so much in our own worlds, sometimes it frightens me. How are we supposed to achieve peace, how are we supposed to accept the faults in others, how are we supposed to do anything if we can't even take a second to step outside of ourselves? We are all caught in our own skin and sometimes it feels like there is no escape. Blocks down the road, I saw another man. He was frightening in terms of his physical appearance, hair shrouding his face. I could not see what he looked like beneath it, young or old. Eyes sunken in I imagined, dark circles and sallow skin. His body was contorted, like some sort of dark café dancer, moving involuntarily, hands curled in towards himself. His hair swung, his arms flew and his legs gave out.
Without vicariously experiencing the thoughts and feelings of others, and sharing those thoughts and feelings through communication, we're doomed to failure. We need to understand empathy; and we know that empathy can't be shallow. This means constantly getting outside of ourselves. It means having unending sensitivity for people's views and feelings. It means putting a higher value on human differences.
I want to get out. I want to get out of this skin for a moment.

Thursday, August 2, 2007

Yes, a heart can hallucinate, if it's completely starved for love

Tonight it was girl-talk and umbrella drinks on a Kits patio. We got to talking (as we often do) about love and sex, relationships and dating. As always, some interesting thoughts and stories were shared.

If you spend enough time on the dating treadmill, you're sure to be run ragged. You're running fast and getting nowhere. So often we get wrapped up in all kinds of drama and games, which can lead to crossed signals and mixed messages. After a while, you're never taken by surprise; except maybe by your own ego. Mark Twain wrote,"There are no grades of vanity, there are only grades of ability in concealing it." There was a book written a while back, inspired by an episode of Sex & The City, which presented the idea that perhaps it takes women too long to realize when "he's just not that into you." The book's basic contention is that all heterosexual men love to pursue women, and highly prize "catching them." If they like a woman, they will overtly declare their interest. If a man sends mixed or positive signals, but waits for the woman to ask him out first, then he is either lazy or not very interested. In my opinion though, sometimes it's as much a case of "she's just not that into him either." Let's be honest: very often, when we date people who are all wrong for us, it's our vanity and ego at work rather than our heart. Are we so caught up in finding the fairytale romance, or feeling wanted that we are willing to settle for something that isn't genuine?

Here's a scenario: You meet a guy, you're not interested or you're completely oblivious. Either way, you don't give him the time of day. Instead of taking a hike, this guy takes a street fighter approach to dating. Although at first you completely brush him off, he is persistent. He chases you, really pours on the charm. He won't take no for an answer. And truth be told, flattery gets him everywhere. He is never your first choice; you know he is not "the one." You could really take him or leave him. But slowly, over time, he wears you down. Along the way, you really start to care about him. At times, maybe you even think that if he could just be a little more like this or a little less like that, things could really be serious. Do you love him? Maybe you continue to hold onto an ideal that you have of his "potential." There are definitely some good times. But of course he doesn't change, and neither does the pattern. You wonder what happened to the guy you thought he would become. We all want to believe that time truly changes people, but in reality, we all fundamentally stay the same. And besides, why should he really have to change for you anyway? Perhaps a cycle continues; things fizzle between you for a while and then he decides to chase you again. You fall for the charm, the lines, the lies, into the trap...and so the pattern continues. Why do you put up with this?

Eventually, something changes. You start to see him for who he really is (and isn't). You jump off the train before it goes off the tracks. Was it that for a time, you wanted to be wanted? Did you just not want to be alone? Did your ego become interested in the validation? Even when you didn't want him, you wanted him to want you. Does this make you a horrible person? And did you ever really love him? Or were you just addicted to the cycle? Sometimes it was fun and rewarding. Other times, it was just a warm body to heat up the cold stretch of empty nights. And sometimes it was just empty, period. Having these kind of relationships is enough to mess a girl up. We start to question whether or not true love is even out there. I believe it is. Will it be some gift-wrapped box that brings eternal happiness? No, it probably won't...but do you know what? That's okay. It will be better because it will be real. You've made the first move and stepped off the dismal treadmill. My guess is that you're probably just a stroll away from finding what you're really looking for.

I'm finally at a point where I can say that I'm pretty sure I know what I want. I want to trust without thinking. I want to be generous with my affection and patience. I want to love somebody unconditionally. And this is how I want to be loved. Perhaps for a time I was afraid to love like this again because my heart had been stomped on. Two life paths come together and then diverge. I've realized that life is peaks and valleys, ups and downs. Plato said, "love is a grave mental disease." He may very well be right, but I still think it's worth it. I believe true love to be something that we all need to experience, because whatever the outcome, no love can cross our path without having some significant impact. I still have faith in that true, simple love. You have to make peace with yourself first. The key is to find the harmony in what you have. True love will find you in the end.

Even if things get heavy, we'll all float on

Last night, my roommate Amy and I walked over to English Bay from our place in Kitsilano to check out the Symphony of Fire. Despite living close by, I hadn't gone to watch the fireworks in years. For whatever reason, I had it in my head that I wasn't overly impressed by fireworks and frankly, I just couldn't bear the thought of being swept up in the hoards of people. Maybe it's all the posts and photos that Miss 604, Duane, Keira-Anne and Tony have had on their pages recently, but I really felt like going last night. And I must admit, I'd forgotten how awe striking they are. So we treked over and then Amy and I settled in the sand, away from the prodigious crowds gathered on the other side of the fence, where we still had a spectacular view of the barge and the entire show. It was absolutely breathtaking. I couldn't be happier that I decided to go. When we got home I was sure that I would sleep like I baby; but unfortunately my mind was racing and I was awake thinking for hours.