I’m on a plane!

Well, soon I will be. Luck of lucks, I get to go on another trip! I’ll be back home visiting friends and family for the week. I’m so excited! I’ll get to hang out with people I haven’t seen in 11, 12, and nearly 20 years! There should be more exclamation marks!

All of which is to say that I’ll be back in a few days. Be excellent to each other. xo

Body Shaming and Making Assumptions

I have managed to lose all track of time. I kept thinking it was the 17th for the past several days, and, lo, it is nearly the 22nd. I leave for a week on vacation on the evening of the 23rd and have been working fairly steadily on a post I hope to make between now and then. It’s long with lots of citations from different articles and a book. I like where it’s going; still lots left to do on it. Between that article and prepping for a last-minute getaway, I’ve been a smidge preoccupied.

Last weekend, I went to a function in my community and was wearing a form-fitting tank top and some fancy festival-type pants that look like a skirt. I felt pretty awesome about how I looked. I was there with my younger son, and while he was busy eating some pineapple, a woman I didn’t know came up to me and introduced herself, asking where I lived and how long I’d been there. Then she took a focused, concerted look at my belly and asked, “Are you —”

I say with an I’m-going-to-attempt-to-brush-this-off sort of laugh, “No. I’m not pregnant. I’m all done having kids. That’s my youngest there; he just turned 3.”

Meanwhile, in my head, I’m repeatedly punching her in the face, calling her all manner of unprintable expletives. And then marvelling at WHY it’s SUCH a TERRIBLE thing to look like I’m pregnant when I’m not…

POP QUIZ
Is it because society
a) hates women’s bodies,
b) hates mothers, or
c) hates children

If you answered d) All of the Above, you get a cookie.

 

Why am I not allowed to be at peace with my body and how it looks?

Why do people need to ask if a woman is pregnant, as if it’s any of their business?

Why do people need to come to my rescue and assure me that I don’t look pregnant?

Why is looking pregnant when I’m not such a terrible thing in the first place? And yes, I just asked that a few lines up, but it bears repeating.

Furthermore, and this is unfortunately the easiest to answer, why do beans bloat the human body? Because every time I have even the smallest bit of legume, I look like I’m 4-6 months pregnant. You can argue with me on that matter all you want, but having been that pregnant twice in my life, rest assured, I do know what I look like. I’m just annoyed that it’s supposed to be avoided at all costs.

Ways We Body Shame Without Knowing It

I love this article. I used to do so many of these things and I found that I just don’t anymore. Having taken on the strident belief that every single person on this planet is beautiful when they let their soul shine outwards, it no longer matters what we actually look like. Yes, I can be attracted to certain combinations of features, but that has no bearing on whether I think someone is less beautiful or more beautiful. And what does my opinion about another person’s appearance matter? Because really, it doesn’t.

It doesn’t matter.

What I think about how you look doesn’t matter. I’m far more concerned with how I feel when I’m around you.

 

With regard to the article, I will take issue with #5. I don’t mind being pear-shaped. Have you ever bitten into a pear? A ripe, juice-running-down-your-chin pear that is so utterly delectable that you just can’t find the words and can only make sounds of satiated pleasure? Yeah, that’s me. That’s my awesome body. I don’t mind being compared to food. Bite me. If I like it, I’ll bite back.

I also hereby move to change the adjective “apple-shaped” to “peach-shaped” because biting into a ripe peach on a hot summer’s day, bursting with flavour, the soft fuzzy skin tickling your lips, providing a curious friction for your tongue… proves absolutely unparalleled. I admit I like apples as a fruit better than I do peaches, but peaches are so much more undeniably poetic and women’s bodies are too lusciously inspiring not to be creative with positive analogies.

Besides, when do you ever see canned apples and pears? No. It’s always peaches and pears together, flavours mingling and bolstering each other. Much better than tearing each other down, yes? YES.

 

Speaking of pear-shaped, #8. I was told for most of my post-pubescent life that I had ‘childbearing hips’. Wanna know something? That gave me a hell of a lot more confidence about the idea that I could successfully birth babies on my own. And I did. Twice. This is tricky though because I don’t want to make anyone feel bad for having a different birth experience. I’m just saying that I felt like being told I was made to do this thing I wanted to do made it easier for me to do it. Yes, it’s problematic as hell because not every woman wants to have kids. Not every woman who wants to is able to. Telling us that having certain features will make it easier to do a thing backfires on other women who don’t have that same feature who also want to do that thing. I have no idea how many women feel like they can’t birth a baby. The self-doubt is horrific. And I’m going to stop there because I have FAR TOO MUCH to say on the injustices surrounding pregnant people, labour and birth, postpartum, breastfeeding, etc. There are so many ways we shame bodies. Post pregnant bodies that retain evidence of having been pregnant get a hell of a lot of shame thrown at them.

For anyone interested, “A Beautiful Body” Book Project is up on Kickstarter, if you would like to back it. The video is NSFW because of nudity, but it’s just gorgeous. I see those bodies and I think, ‘hey, I look like that! And she’s pretty! And if I look like that and she’s pretty then I might just be pretty too.’ I like my hips/ass combo, in case that wasn’t evident already. I am still working through a lot of self-acceptance issues about my belly.

The US and Canada need to see more postpartum bellies positively represented in the media. I have no idea what the rest of the world’s general attitude is on the matter, but I am painfully familiar with how it’s handled here.

 

We get so hung up on how we look when how we feel about ourselves is far more important. When we’re able to look at ourselves in the mirror and say, “Fuck, I’m gorgeous!” and really mean it, and be able to say that, honestly and truly, even on the days we’re unshorn and wearing sweatpants, because we know we’re awesome people through and through, then then we will have arrived. We will have become more ourselves, relaxing into the beauty of who we genuinely are.

Go be your beautiful self. Help others to see how beautiful they are. Find ways to feel good.

Redefining Beauty: Compassion in Action

What this man is doing is just the most beautiful thing ever. He deserves All The Awards for his work. Watch/Read Here

Photo Credit: Rick Guidotti

“The idea is to put the humanity — make sure that humanity is in medicine. To make sure that we see, not a disease, a diagnosis, but a human being. I know, we all know that there’s a lot of science in medicine, but I can assure you there’s a lot of art in medicine as well.”

“That is so important… It’s not what you’re treating; it’s who you’re treating.”

“I dare you to see beauty and once you see it, it overwhelms you. It’s extraordinary.”

—Rick Guidotti, photographer and amazing human being.

The only downside is that this is all being called “a new kind of beauty.” This, to me, is like the idea of Christopher Columbus discovering America. No, guys, it was always there; we just didn’t see it as easily as we do now. This is not a new beauty. This is not new. What IS new is that someone is actually recording it and showing us how to see with new eyes.

The beauty was always already there.

It was always already there.

All you need to do is stand in a mirror and see with new eyes that

you

are

beautiful

Learning how to scare people in one simple but not easy lesson

Sitting on the patio, the sun has warmed my hair. It has been far too cold this Canadian June and I yearn to head south for the warmth of climate, family and friends I’ve been missing for far too long.

I’ve been reading Love 2.0 and am learning that, on a biological level, face time with people we care about is as important as we believe it to be. I’ve been working on synthesizing some of the material in this book along with several articles that all seem to play off each other, but it’s been slow-going because I keep finding more information in this book that I want to share with everyone. I feel like it’s totally ground-breaking, as far as how we need to shift our perspective on the L-word.

Incorporating this new information into my own life, I’m learning that we hold ourselves back so frequently. Between what I’m learning in this book and really taking to heart the quote from Don Miguel Ruiz: “There is a huge amount of freedom that comes to you when you take nothing personally,” I’m learning to throw caution to the wind and be direct and forward with what I want out of life.

It scares the shit out of people.

Me Phobia

 

 

I’m learning not to be afraid of myself and the effects I have on people. In my journey of becoming more of who I am, as well as in my journey of learning how to heal (both myself and others), not being afraid of my innate power is vital.

We ALL deal with Me Phobia… haha, I should clarify that by saying we’re all afraid of ourselves, not that all y’all are afraid of ME. (though maybe you should be! *steeples fingers* Muahahahahahahaaa!!!)

And not only are we afraid of ourselves but many times, we can be afraid of others who are actively overcoming their own fear of self. Like I mentioned up screen, it scares people. A friend of mine told me a story a few weeks ago about how an acquaintance of hers told her she just couldn’t hang out with her anymore because her light was so bright. For real. I barely knew what to say because it was the first time I’d heard of anyone actually owning up to being afraid and subsequently letting that stop them from continuing to be around a particular person because the person was too comfortable with themselves and therefore too blindingly awesome. Astounding. Truly. I am shocked at all the ways we let fear limit our too-short experience of life on this planet.

The graphic above really reminds me of the Marianne Williamson quote:

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

Playing small does not serve the world, neither does it serve me or you. I used to be so much more neurotic and anxious than I am now and I find I like myself better now than I did then. I don’t fret nearly as much as I used to, which is not to say I don’t still make mountains out of molehills, just that I do it far less frequently.

We are liberated when we allow ourselves the freedom of taking nothing personally. When we realize that it’s them, not us (for the most part, within reason — if you’re being a racist asshole or a victim-blaming, rape culture sympathizer, etc., then it’s you, not them) — but if you’re being a generally stand-up person sticking to your integrity and life-affirming, accepting ethics, and someone is put off by you, then that’s them, not you. We can all learn to respect one another, even if we’re not in accordance with each other. We all dance to the beat of a different drum and one of the most amazing things about life here is that we can sync up with each other occasionally and have amazing times together. And other times, the syncopation of another’s beat to our own provides us opportunities to stretch ourselves and grow.

When I realize that my directness, even if tactful, heartfelt and honest, can be seriously off-putting for some, that means not that I need to stop being that way, but that I need to be patient. I can soften the harsher edges of my communication style if I want, but I don’t need to bend over backwards just to get them to like me or not be put off by me. If they’re able to meet me where I am, then we can have a hell of a lot of fun together. If they’re not ready for me, then that’s the path they need to walk. It does not mean I need to play small to suit their needs. If I spend my life conforming to others, I lose the beauty of who I am.

This is partly where face time can come into play. All too often, I’ve had the experience of trying to reconnect with people I haven’t seen in a very very long time (thanks, Facebook!) and while I’m very similar to who I used to be, in many ways, I’m very different. And without all of the benefits that live, visual interaction can give, with vocal nuances, facial expressions, and eye contact, when it’s just text on screen, it’s really damned difficult to show all those things that help animate that text and situate it more appropriately. Soften it, in my case, or give it an edge or emphasis it otherwise lacks without face time.

That said, people are either going to gel with me or they’re not. And sometimes face time isn’t really necessary to feel like you get where the person is coming from. This is how authors can create characters we fall in love with or despise. This is how we make friends online. Life is so full of ways we can connect with each other and I’m learning that what that connection is is love. Love is connection. This is what Fredrickson has discovered and has written about in Love 2.0. Love is connection.

And this is an ongoing exploration of why we are so threatened by connecting with who we are and connecting with other people in real, honest, and direct ways.

We are always evolving and life is a journey of learning who we are. When we are able to be at peace with the journey of ourselves, so many opportunities for real connections with others open up and life becomes a series of joyful moments strung together by a sense of security in who we are.

Few of us are really there, but it’s a place I catch glimpses of every now and again. It feels real and fulfilling, and so I keep striving to learn how to stay longer. To learn how to quiet the ego’s incessant and droning chant of inadequacy.

This is not to say that life will never be hard or troubling or upsetting. No. What it means in learning to connect with ourselves and really love ourselves — love who we are — is that we are more able to take things as they come with the added perspective of being comfortable in our own skin, in the relationship we each have with ourselves, and a detachment from taking things personally. We’re more able to understand that others are on their own path and there is far less judgment of others in understanding that simple fact. And with less judgment, there is automatically more compassion.

Becoming comfortable with who you are allows for greater compassion for others.

Connecting with who you are allows for more potent connections with others.

Loving who you are allows you to love others more freely and honestly.

 

Why does this scare us?

 

It scares us because we conflate love with commitment. It scares us because we listen to our ego-based intellect more than we listen to our body-based heart. It scares us because we let ourselves be limited and let fear diminish our perspective in this world.

 

So how do we scare people in one simple but not easy lesson? Get over our fear of ourselves. When you let your light shine, you will nourish many and blind some who are not yet ready to bask in the awesomeness of you. Ain’t your fault, so don’t take it on.

You gorgeous thing, go love yourself up, now, k?

The Disparity of Labels and Lived Reality

So this is going around tumblr and I love it. I had to add to it, though, because there are some things needing mentioning.

Labels and Lived Reality

Likewise, if you’re straight and you fall for a person of the same gender, that’s fine, too. Why limit yourself? Why identify more with a label than with your own feelings?

The thing here to remember is that labels of sexual identities are more about political statements than actual lived reality. This is how you can have lesbians who fuck guys for fun and still happily identify as lesbian. This is how you can have straight guys clandestinely pitching or catching and still ID as straight.

This is how you can have bisexual people identifying as either lesbian/gay or straight.

It’s a matter of social politics.

And what makes it political is our relationship with fear.

***

What I’d also like to add to that is this:

This relationship with fear means we either stay in the closet (i.e. continue to identify with a label that does not match how we live our lives, regardless of the label) or we take a stand out in the open. Whatever statement we make or whatever lack of statement we make really does make a difference with regard to visibility or invisibility. Visibility of who we truly are or invisibility of who we truly are.

The thing to remember though, is that the best thing to do is what you feel is best for you. If that means (eventually) stepping out of your comfort zone, then so be it. If that means staying right where you are because you don’t feel remotely safe stepping out of your comfort zone, then so be it. Part of moving from tolerance to acceptance is learning to accept that people will do what they will do, and it’s none of our business to dictate to them how they should identify.

My beef is when people believe they can’t love a particular person because they’re too tied up in how they feel safest identifying. They’re letting their assumed, politicized identity dictate who they’re allowed to have romantic or sexual feelings for, and that, my friends, is a very fast track to some seriously self-denying negativity. And self-denial on that level is a serious threat to your mental, emotional, and physical well-being. When you deny yourself, long-term, you literally weaken your immune system. The health of your physical body is thrown out of balance. There’s a lot more here about this very thing, even, in part, with respect to living a closeted life.

Part of moving from tolerance to acceptance is learning to accept yourself as you are and love yourself, believe yourself worthy of that love, regardless of who you love or what gender they are. Some of us can do this, some of us can’t yet. Many of us are struggling in the space between. And it’s all ok. I say this as a queer woman who would very much love for everyone to feel safe enough to be who they are and to freely love whomever they love. I say this as someone who would also very much like for trans*, pansexual, and bisexual people to be more visible. And I say this with the deep understanding that we all have our own path to walk and that it is not up to me to determine whether it is time for a person to own up to who they are and come out with a label that completely matches their lived reality. It really is all ok.

Be kind to others.
Be kind to yourself.

 

Love vs Trust

Firstly, a comment: y’know that feeling when you’re writing a thing with other people in mind and then, a couple of days after posting it, you realize you unknowingly wrote it for you? Yeah. That. So I’ve been mulling some things over.

Also! Yay! I picked up Barbara Fredrickson’s Love 2.0 from the library today.

I. Am. Riveted.

I’m so excited about it! I want everyone everyone everyone all over the world to read it! Yay! Yaaaaaaay!

So the first chapter led me to have the following conversation with myself:

Me: If you love someone, there’s an innate trust. If you love someone, you trust them. Right?
Me: What? NO! Let’s back this up. You have kids, right? Do you trust them? Do you trust a tiny baby?
Me: Trust them to do what?!
Me: Exactly. What about if your mother is senile or you have a kindly but only quasi-functional alcoholic father? Do you trust them?
Me: No. Ok, it depends. But generally, no.
Me: Can you still love them?
Me: Of course!

[time passes]

Me: What about the other way around? Do you automatically love someone if you trust them?
Me: No, not necessarily.
Me: *eyes narrow* Oh, really?
Me: Ok, alright. I’m still working this out.

And I am. There’s a lot to unpack about our societal expectations surrounding the interplay of love and all those other emotions that get folded in.

What is trust? Trust is expectation. Or, rather, the anticipation of your expectation(s) being met. I trust that the sun will rise tomorrow. I trust that that red light will change to green. I trust that my mail will get delivered each weekday. Is there love inherent in these things? I can definitely say that I love that the sun comes up each morning, that I love all the sun does for life here on Earth. I love that we have ways of mitigating traffic confusion and that traffic lights exist and, generally speaking, function pretty reliably. I love, on a poetic level, that stop is only temporary, that go is only temporary, that there are periods of rest and periods of activity and forward momentum and plenty of caution, yielding, and slowing down in the process. I love that there is communication between people, even if it’s a bill for services rendered. I love that there are people who assist in delivering these communications from one place to another. I consider them part of my tribe. They are messengers; my name means messenger, and I identify very strongly with my name.

So there is definitely love intertwined within that trust, but is there a direct correlation?

What happens when trust is broken in a relationship? Does that completely destroy it? It really depends on the people involved, the severity, and the habituation of the infraction. It can destroy a relationship but it doesn’t have to. There have been several articles written about this very thing. This one is about infidelity, which is typically considered the biggest breach of trust in a romantic relationship. When trust is broken in any relationship, the only way to bring it back is through introspection and honest communication.

I want to return to whether there is a direct correlation trust and love, whether trust begets love or whether we can’t trust without love, and whether we’re talking about our standard socio-cultural definition or whether we’re talking about the upgraded Love 2.0 version. That’s another post for another day, though. Consider this a stub. 😉