Category Archives: Self-Love & Self-Esteem

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The Zen of Landing Badly

I recently had a reminder that asphalt ain’t good eatin’.

I can’t play the victim card here. I fucked up. All my fault, 100% dumb-ass coming your way. I knew I was cutting it close between an intersection curb and a truck waiting for the light, and foolishly tried to ride through anyhow. Handlebar whacks mirror, down goes me. Mashed my face, my knee, my thigh, my hands, everything. I was so bruise-spotted, I looked like a human-leopard hybrid.

Oddly, it’s the third time I’ve been injured since late May. First time, I literally fell off a bar stool at the pizza joint, flat onto tile floor. Incredible fluke — Not only did I not hurt my back or head, I didn’t really get hurt at all. A couple days’ stiffness, and I was basically fine.

At the time, I was thick in the mire of a three-month contract that upended my life balance far more than I’d intended, so I wasn’t getting out much. I was counting days, like a schoolkid, until July 1, when the contract would be gone. Summer! Whee! I planned to blow off writing until the fall.

I shit you not, June 30th, 11:50pm, hours to go before my “So, our contract is up” email is to be sent, I’d been watching TV from the floor, went to stand, and heard CLICK as my knee popped out of joint, my tibia grossly cranked to the left. Horrified, I hopped to the kitchen on one leg, got an ice bag, and for no reason, the tibia popped back into place. Boom. Back like bacon, baby.

That boo-boo, unfortunately, did inconvenience me. I couldn’t walk much until the end of July, and most of the month’s summery fun eluded me.

Life removed the distraction of summer because I just couldn’t get out. I channeled that inconvenience into finishing my cookbook. Finally done  (it’s really good! buy it and support me), I once again felt like a kid getting outta school for summer. I was excited to cycle, be leisurely. I’d rode my bike daily that week. Bliss, whizzing through August air, sun beating down.

Five days into “summer break,” I whacked the truck mirror. Now I’ve been home licking my mental wounds for much of the last nine days. Once again: “I could’ve been hurt so much worse.”

It seems fortune has a twisted sense of humour in the dog days of summer.

Look ma, asphalt for eatin'.

Look ma, asphalt for eatin’.

School of Hard Knocks

Shit happens. Ask me my top ten life mottos, that one makes the list. Shit happens, it is what it is, que sera sera. Cliches to live by, my friends.

I’ve ridden the rides in this injury-filled park one time too many and I don’t need to be uninvited from the party anymore. When it’s time to go, I’ll grab my coat and be gone.

This is one of those times. Injured three times in three months? Yeah, okay, universe, you got my attention. What’s the lesson?

That’s rhetorical, people. I already think I know.

Writing well is a gift. It’s a privilege. It’s also a craft. It requires great sacrifice and dedication to accomplish matters of note. It’s not some flip of the switch. Like sailing a long ocean voyage, when finding one’s sea legs can take some time, getting a good writing flow takes a while of testing the waters.

Where the craft part comes in is where the sacrifice plays out too — daily duty, workworkwork.

Opting Out

I know writing is a choice. You see a keyboard, you sit, you pound it out. It’s like the old Hollywood movie trailers — “One man, alone in a foreboding wilderness… where only he can decide–”

The struggle that constantly assaults me is guilt. I feel like a failure if I’m not doing the outdoorsy-n-awesome things the locals here pride themselves on doing. Oh, look, someone else climbed a mountain and parasailed before landing on the moon for a local, organic picnic with cheese they hand-pulled at dawn. Thanks for the shame, Instagram.

I wish I could write in other places, but I’m a creature of habit and I like to be at my desk. I like the noise my keyboard makes, the rattle the keyboard tray emits under my staccato-fire key-whacking, the distance of the screen from my eyes, how I squint when I’m lost in thought and the creamy walls blur before me, while I listen to the white-noise whoosh of cars under my window, always noting the sea breeze blowing in and stiffening my knuckles. It’s my thing. This is where I do it.

So as summer days pass and nights get longer, cooler, and darker, my Catholic upbringing leaves me pounding the keys in shame and guilt at my desk, as others pass my window in their shorts and sunglasses, oozing optimism for a fun day ahead or the fatigue of a great day behind them.

And there I sit staring as they pass me by, me in my passive glory, ever the observer.

Of People and Places

But that’s writing. It’s not a party favour. It’s not a group activity. It’s a dark and dingy thing done alone.

There are different kinds of writers. Ones who write on events and places, happenings and zeitgeists. They need to be in the thick of it to serve it back to the masses. Then there are the those who slip away into otherworldly mental caverns. No safe place for others.

I’m the latter. My introversion can be extreme. A party of one works all too well for me. Three months on an Irish coast with a broken phone, only sheep dotting the horizon, and wine to keep me warm while winter winds howl and the skies cry, that would be a vacation for me. I might commit a serious crime if it meant time in isolation like that.

Paradox of paradoxes, for convenience and more time alone, I find myself living on the edge of the busiest part of my town. The most crowded, superficial, hyped, over-marketed part of my city. Rare does even a moment pass when people aren’t walking past my writing window. Isolation? Beyond my four walls, I think not.

Unlistening to the Machine

Part of me is very much of the “So? This is who you are. Just own it. Who cares?” mentality about self-imposed isolation. But I also think the world is beautiful, nature is powerful, and if I could have more of it with less of the humans in it, that wouldn’t be so bad. Humans aren’t so bad in small doses, either.

But society tells me Summer is fun! Go do summer! There’s only so much summer, so go out and play, kids! Whatchoo sitting inside for?! Don’t you know only losers don’t play outside? Come on, kids! GET HAPPY — it’s right there, outside your house!

It’s something I only want in 90-minute spurts. It’s not a lifestyle I seek. I don’t need to be on the Tilt-a-Whirl of the big-city life. Getting happy isn’t gonna accomplish my dreams. It ain’t gonna write my books. It’s not gonna pay my bills.

People who don’t understand introversion think people like me opting out is “sad” or “lonely,” but we think it’s sad and lonely that they can’t enjoy being alone in the same way we can. As Oscar Wilde wrote, loving oneself is a life-long romance. Even if there’s no one around to see it.

Among my favourite places to go alone: The sea.

Among my favourite places to go alone: The sea.

Do or Do Not, There is No Try

The trouble with writing a book, for any author, is it means sacrificing time you can spend earning other income today on the dream that it will earn income for you well into the future. This is where the stereotype of the broke-ass writer comes in. I have to cut back on my earnings AND my spending to be the writer I want to be. That’s sacrificing on every level.

That’s the risk we take when seeking the elusive dream of passive income and royalties. Passive income, that’s money you don’t have to run ragged on the hamster wheel to bring in. That wheel spins on its own, in theory.

The best way to grow that passive income isn’t to keep talking about the one book, it’s to continue writing others so you’re attracting new audiences.

For me, that time is now. I have to write more, produce more, and promote myself at the same time. All of it must be done at the expense of everything else in my life. Less time for leisure, less time to earn “real” money on the side of my primary job, less time to exercise, to cook — everything.

The longer I wait, the more interruption it causes in flow on all sides, the less then that momentum can carry me.

It’s a matter of discipline now. And my summer, as little or as much may remain, is a distraction from that discipline.

Dinner is Served

Which brings us back to the asphalt.

That day, I’d been meaning to cycle to the Gorge and sit under a big leafy tree as I considered my choices. Do I take more time to enjoy summer, or do I finally concede this summer’s a bust and writing must be my focus while the motivation burns?

For good or ill, I needed no leafy tree for the pondering. Life threw me to the curb and said “Eat this.”

I’ve never felt more strongly that I was getting told what was what. Writing, life said, was what my days had to be about for now. It was safer, for one. No moving parts, except on the chair.

If I barrel through this year as a writing tour de force and accomplish all the goals I’ve got bopping inside my head, I’ll have no regrets for the choices I made this week.

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Road Warrior

Sometimes when life knocks sense into you, it can be very literal about it all. It gets literal with this girl.

It took three injuries in a little over three months, but the Zen of landing badly has taught me a thing or two about a thing or two.

Sacrifice, choice-making, focus — all these themes played on a crackling, staticky loop in my head for days. Here’s hoping they echo loudly in the wintery, writerly months to come, ‘cos I know what road’s ahead of me — asphalt, curbs, potholes, and all.

I Resolve Not To Make Resolutions. Or Do I?

It’s a New Year! Time for a new YOU! Rah-rah-rah! Buy this, do that, be this! Go, go, go! Team awesome, here we come! Resolutions for EVERYONE!

HURRAY!

Holy shit. Are you ready to punch someone yet? You could include it in your exercise accounting. “Punched out Bob. 15 calories.”

I’m not paying attention to any of it because I don’t have the time to be awesome this month. I have the time to be “pretty good.” Maybe “above average.” Awesome’s a bit of a reach for me. Ask me in June.

However, there’s a big year ahead of me. I’m working up to Awesome.

As of this morning, I’ve survived one week without butter or margarine. This has meant I’ve eaten less bread. And because I’ve had less bread, I’ve had less cheese. It’s this whole crazy domino effect thing. Have I lost weight? Who fucking knows?

I’ll tell you what I know — my pants didn’t fit last week. I mean, collectively.

This week, things are better. And they fit again.

Still, I know what I should feel like and look like, and right now I’m not it. But I also know I need to stay sane. I’m moving in a few weeks, I have to respect my back injury and proceed cautiously, and I’m packing as much as I can on a slow-and-steady basis. Gotta tell ya: I feel it in every single muscle and I know I’m already getting fitter. I’m not sure piling on the gym-bunny visits would be smart thinking right now. More walking, sure, less butter, better bending/lifting form, and I’m doing all that.

And that’s a great start. No butter, and a zillion squats and hefted boxes, that’s a good start.

The last time I started a “diet” with a month of no butter, I lost 18 pounds in the first 5 weeks, and went on to lose 65, because I added something new to my changes monthly and had a constantly-growing mentality about the new lifestyle.

I want to have a good start on Doing New Things For a Better Me now, and not wait until I’ve moved to be smarter.

There’s only two goals I have this year; if you break it all down to its simplest terms, there’s two. One is, Be Better. The second is, Be Honest.

There are a lot of areas in my life that need improvement. To “be better” gives me a wide berth of where to go, what to do. If I improve one thing, great. There’s something else that can get tweaked. As far as being honest goes, I’ve been unhappy in Vancouver for a couple of years now and wasn’t being honest with myself about it. My life got away from me as a result. That’s what happens when you lie to yourself daily — whether it’s about a job, home, or your life.

I want to be more aware of the moment, more open about truths, and live that way. It’s better for writing, it’s better for communication and relationships.

So, honesty and betterment, in all their forms, are the goals for my year.

Oh, come on. There’s more, right?

Now, there’re a lot of things I want to do with my life this year, and I’ll be writing those goals out for myself — from weight goals and health ambitions, to money aspirations, writing benchmarks, and more — but you don’t need to know what my plans are there.

I don’t believe in that. I think as much as we can get help and support from others by way of sharing our “goals,” we can get shat upon as well.

Self-belief isn’t some unalterable force in my life. My confidence is often akin to a leaf in the wind. It goes where it blows. I don’t need people’s doubts, questions, or concerns clouding my horizon. And I can’t be finding my strength in their support or my sense of self in some fan club who rallies around me.

One way or the other, it’s on me, right?

It’s not a bad thing, it’s just the way it goes.

I commented on The Twitter last night that I think I’m finding my mojo, and that’s sort of what I was talking about. For a long time, I’ve been feeling sort of uncomfortable in my own skin. I didn’t feel like I had control over my life or my own actions. It was just… unright. I was unright. Maybe even wrong.

A week into 2012, and that feeling’s largely dissipating. Sometimes life just needs A Decision. Once you make the choice and go all-in, it’s amazing how much it can transform your mentality.

Of course, the fact that I’m taking my vitamins and eating better and getting a lot of physical work in the way of moving, well, THAT couldn’t be helping my mentality at ALL, right?

It’s that Domino Effect, I guess. Positive change is coming, so I’ve put other positive changes into play, and thus the Snowballing Of Awesome has begun.

Be better. It’s a start. Next month, I’ll have a new normal in my betterness, then I’ll have to be even betterer.

The best thing about having “Be Better” as the resolution is that it gives a bit of a softer focus on goals met/not. If you fall short, but you’ve still done more and been better than before, well, you met the “real” resolution. We need a kinder, gentler marker to measure against sometimes.

I hope your year is off to a similarly promising and exciting start. We could all use a little “up” in our lives, I suspect.

Happy New Year, and happy Monday, then.

A Big Thinky Post About Not Thinking

They say these early days in the new year are among the most depressing.

Mental, emotional, financial hangovers from the holidays, and even the “bottom of the hill looking up” perspective of the year to come — tons of factors affect our moody new year days.

This morning, it’s nearly 8:30 and should be lighter than it is. A storm front has parked over the city, dumping rain on the morning’s commute. The sky’s so dark my desk lamp isn’t enough to light the room with, and it’s daytime.

Today, I had planned to write some kind of optimistic “New Year/New Thoughts” type post about my goals and such for the year to come, but morning brings a weary world-view and a pensive state.

Part of the new year thing: I’m reading again. I want to read in bed for a few minutes every night.

Guy having a moment at Vancouver's English Bay.

When I was at coffee last week, in one of those weird chance encounters we sometimes have*, the book The Power of Now came up. Eckhart Tolle’s new-agey classic was born here in Vancouver, and people have mentioned it to me at several points in my life, but I’ve never capitulated and read it.

The thing is, I knew about it in ’97, when I was 24. My mother got it for Christmas that year. She’d been friends with some new age bookstore guy named Brock Tulley, and friend-of-a-friend thing, got the book, read it, and was trying to implement it in her life.

It’s one thing to try and change your mental state, but you can’t imagine away making only $25,000 in the two years before your death from cancer.

Times were very hard for her then. I watched her read this book and try to be “different”. She died broke and with cancer. What can I tell you? That was different.

So, yeah. The book’s been a hard sell on me.

But I’m reading it now.

[deep breath]

I suspect this will be a mind-blowing read on a few levels.

First things first, I’m not a spiritual person in the standard way. The beliefs I have, well, I couldn’t nutshell them for you if I tried. I’m in transition there. New age is not my bag, really, but trying to explain what I do/don’t believe would be a mess.

On Facebook, my religion is “It’s complicated.”

Raised in the Catholic Church and exposed to their duplicitous behaviour, my beliefs come from my life experience and not much else. So, forget “God” and all that. Let’s talk about us and our world-view.

As I age, I see what our thinking and perspective does for us, and I believe we’ll probably never have a clue about the brain’s full capacity. I believe many of us let our thinking cloud who we are, and that it takes a long time to muddy ourselves up.

This book talks about mindfulness in ways I’ve been thinking about lately, so it’s perfectly timed.

I’ve been remembering how I used to think about the world, and ways I used to look at the world around me, and questioning when I lost my wonder, and how I can get it back.

Wistful writings on the “girl I used to be” crop up here from time to time, and I suspect I’m not alone in the wistfulness.

There’s who we want to be, and there’s who we become. For most, somewhere between there and here, we derail. Every now and then, though, we get a chance to right the way. I can’t help but think I went off track somewhere.

People can lose their focus after seeing wrong so long that they can’t see straight when the light comes on.

If given the chance to “fix” what’s wrong in their lives, I imagine most people couldn’t tell you what the actual problem is. Why aren’t you what/who/how you want to be?

For three or four years I’ve tried to figure out what was going on, and in the last year I’ve sort of figured out that it’s two different things. One, my headgame’s all awry. Two, this city’s life comes with too many built-in obstacles and I got no room to breathe.

This year’s about putting my money where my mouth is. It’s about moving to a place that reduces the obstacles, culls the distractions. It’s a little cheaper, but it’s a lot more livable for me. Jumping on that wave of change ain’t enough. I need to get my headspace into the flow too.

There’s so much mental clutter from recent years, it’s in my way. I can’t undo my past, wouldn’t want to. I’ve earned my now-showing grey hairs.

But this overthinking is hurting me.

For a long time, I’ve had to try to be conscious about how I walk / sit / stand / sleep, because a long-term back injury does that to you. I’ve thought so hard about it that it now turns out I’ve been overthinking and overcompensating, possibly sustaining the injury as a result.

For example, I have long contracted the wrong muscles at the wrong time, standing that way too, and it’s destabilized me. Standing up and breathing, it’s second nature to us. It’s not something we’re “taught.” But when that second nature goes awry during an injury or illness and we never correct it, what’s the fall-out?

Well, now I know what it is first-hand when we unlearn who we are at the most basic level. For me, I’ve unlearned a lot of myself, including life basics, like breath. (And apparently 75% of adults are doing it wrong.)

That simple advice on “breathing through the belly” and “walking one inch taller” might actually be changing my life.

Long story short? I haven’t even been “being myself” properly.

Three years on the other side of trying to “understand” my injury, and dumbing it down — just breathing and learning how to hold a neutral back, just being — might be all my back really needs.

And it blows my mind that I’ve thought myself into ill health.

I’ve stopped listening and feeling. I need to focus on what my body feels like, not its symptoms. I need to see the big picture — how posture and breath affect everything I do in my life, because they’ve been crippling me.

The Power of Now seems about connecting to the moment and being really present. If I were, then what would life be like? Would I have let things go this long, this far?

It’s great timing, because I’ve had one episode after another lately that affirm this need to focus on my breath and be mindful of my posture, and live completely in the moment with awareness of the little things I think and feel.

I’ve been killing myself to improve my back and all I need to do is breathe? Crazy shit.

Oh, dear readers, don’t worry — I won’t become some Zen happy-la-la girl who signs her blog posts “Love and Namaste” or anything. I’m a smart-ass at DNA level and that’ll never change.

Laughing more, though, I could handle that. Having more fun. And this is part of the journey to getting to that, I think. Should be interesting.

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*I’m a big fan of the idea of serendipity. If you run into someone you like, but don’t know well, like I did, at my acupuncture session last week, and it happens to end at the same time, and you both happen to have a free 30 minutes, then go to coffee, because maybe — just maybe — there’s something greater afoot, and you might have something to learn from them. Naturally, I bought the book 10 minutes later.

Building Blocks: Mastering Less as More

It’s been a long week and you’re probably wondering how it went, given my dreaded Month of Suck admission last week.

I’ve spent this past week slowly recalibrating myself, lowering my expectations, ditching my guilt, and focusing on the individual steps to take rather than being overwhelmed by the bigness of my journey…

Found on SciFiTV.com.And it’s been much, much better.

My workout with Le Physique’s Nik Yamanaka last Monday was really an empowering start to my week. She was empathetic, didn’t dwell on my admitted failings, changed the game up a little, challenged me, and provided great positivity, support, and encouragement during the workout. She also brought The Funny, and we like The Funny.

It wasn’t that she was babying me, not by a long shot. She pushed me enough, and god knows I felt it the next night as the Screaming Thighs of Fury set in a day after the epic “Let’s try some lunges” experiment, but she didn’t push me past what I could take.

Who cares about the Screaming Thighs of Fury, though?

Face it, anyone who doesn’t have killer-sore legs after doing their first-ever triple-set of lunges is probably immortal. We don’t like those people.

We really, really don’t like those people. But I digress.

Aside from letting me ditch my guilt and shame by playing me her version of the “everyone has reversals” record, Nik also provided a lightbulb moment when it came to stretching.

I think I know better than most people the profound difference that can come from tweaking a stretch angle by a few degrees, so I was really surprised to find that, a) I’m still being uber-overzealous in my hamstring stretching, b) it’s probably a huge part of why my hamstrings never stretch out, and c) it’s likely instrumental in why I have recurring back issues on a small scale all the time.

Nik drove the point home that the hamstring is a very gentle stretch, and one of the most important ones we can do. She said to wait while the hamstring naturally extends itself. Stretch the leg to the point of feeling it, hold, as it releases and resistance lessens, extend slightly further, hold, repeat, etc.

Okay, whoa, hold them technique-horses a moment.

This needs saying: I’m not a licensed kinesiologist, I’m not edumacatin’ you on stretching, and you shouldn’t be doing anything by way of my limited explanations here. This was a trained professional explaining the best way of stretching for MY body. Your body is a whole ‘nother thang, and this is why certified personal trainers are a wise idea for anyone embarking on a new life of fitness: Because every body responds a little differently.

(But if you’re like most people, you probably should be stretching those hamstrings more, honey.)

Anyhow, that slight adjustment, less-kamikaze approach has been making a difference in my legs and back this week, but there’s another stretch that’s proven monumentally important to me, now that I’ve been hearing Nik’s voice in my head all the time: “Drop your shoulders. Drop your shoulders.”

I’ve always had my shoulders up too high during stretches — and now I realize my stretches are probably largely responsible for the “tension headaches” I get, or at least as responsible as other things, like carrying too many groceries or wearing heavy shoulder bags.

By keeping my shoulders down during the stretches, I’ve greatly reduced the headaches that were seriously cramping my style. Whew. Fantastic.

So, where didn’t my week go as ideally?

Well, everywhere, of course.

But “perfect” wasn’t my goal.

Sure, I didn’t exercise the “Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names” routine, but I decided to cut myself slack and instead just focusing on Doing it Right and Feeling Good Later. Nik seems to approve.

I still haven’t stretched often enough, eaten as well as I would like, but I really don’t care.

I really don’t — because I’ve done everything better, I feel better, and I know I can still do better.

The difference is, this time I feel like doing better isn’t going to kill me. I don’t feel the dread and fear I was feeling for a while, when I kept paying for my efforts with negative fall-out (thanks to the trifecta of overdoing it, poor sleep, and bad stretching.)

Now I think “doing better” might even have me feeling better overall.

Working out through my pneumonia recovery has proven challenging, but I’m finally at the point where pushing cardio may still have me spent and asleep on the sofa by 8:30, but a good night’s sleep recharges that battery, and I find myself with more to give the next day.

That’s a new thing — having more to give — and a good thing.

Will I manage the Full Nik Yamanaka Kicking-Ass-And-Taking-Names program this week?

No, probably not, but I can get closer, do it better, feel stronger, and have the feeling that I’m adding to success rather than kicking myself when I’m down.

I’m listening to my body with exercise, and soon I know I’ll be listening to it for food, too. That’s always a 1-2 thing for me — I get the exercise sorted, then figure out the food.

All in all, it feels like the pieces are falling into place — or, rather, that I’m kicking ass and throwing them into place.

This week, less has been more.

By doing less and feeling like I’ve executed it better, or more well, or more promisingly, the emotional gains and the confidence I now have in going forward is both a pivotal and welcomed change in my life.

I knew I’d get here, but it was just such a rocky road with so many obstacles, and me with my lack of objectivity at the time.

Recalibrating, lowering expectations, and focusing on technique but working through obvious pains while trying to reduce unnecessary pain, have been a key in my week of regrouping.

Going into this week with a little less fear and a little more confidence will be a nice change, provided I remember that it’s doing less, but doing it better, that’s being my “more” right now.

Baby steps, baby.

Le Physique is in Leg-And-Boot Square, in Vancouver’s False Creek. Nik Yamanaka is co-owner, and was the BCRPA Personal Trainer of the Year for 2008. Le Physique tailors a program to meet your abilities, goals, and lifestyle. They can’t do the work for you, but they can tell you the tweaks that will help you meet your best performance and give you the mental tools and simple practices that might help you attain the success you need. You can listen to Nik talking about training in this radio interview here. You can follow her/them on Twitter, too, by clicking here.

Fat-Fat, Skinny-Fat, & NonFat-Big-Fat Meanies

Thanks to Catherine Winters, you can now “Like” my blog posts & share on Facebook — which, if you like me, is a nice way of giving me somethin’ somethin’ for my work ’round these parts. Look the “like” button at the bottom of each post, where you can also “share” through many other services. Thanks!

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Uncredited photo on NEWSONE.COM.

FIRST: This Washington Post blogger suggests “fat” as become an offensive word. Offended? Don’t read. If you’re foolish enough to give the words power, that’s your choice. Go to a tap-dancing show if you think I should dance around this topic. I’m hitting this, yo.

***

A blogger for Marie Claire online, Maura Kelly, has had a shitstorm of no compare land upon her since she decided to take on Mike & Molly, the chubby show about a couple who hook up at an Overeaters Anonymous meeting.

Long story short, she said things like:

I think I’d be grossed out if I had to watch two characters with rolls and rolls of fat kissing each other… because I’d be grossed out if I had to watch them doing anything. To be brutally honest, even in real life, I find it aesthetically displeasing to watch a very, very fat person simply walk across a room — just like I’d find it distressing if I saw a very drunk person stumbling across a bar or a heroine addict slumping in a chair.

People are calling for her job.

Really? Because she’s hurting people’s feelings, or…?

You’ve got to be kidding me if you think she’s alone in that thinking.

I’ve heard people say it to my face before. I’ve heard people in my company say a person has “no right” to wear a certain kind of clothing because they’re “too fat.”

Me, I’ve been about 300 pounds and a cozy size 24.

Don’t you DARE tell me that Maura Kelly is ALONE in how she thinks. Do NOT tell me people aren’t fat-phobic or disgusted by obesity.

And don’t you DARE tell me everyone’s all shocked that someone actually thinks this.

Where the hell do you people live? I’m on Planet Earth, where really fat people are still perceived as walking stereotypes by a moronic media who thinks they only roll one way.

Half the time there’s a “fatty” in the movie, they’re a messy person, they keep missing their mouth with food and wearing it. I mean, hey, scriptwriters, how do these fat people become fat if they only wear their food and not eat it? Mad science, that!

When Hollywood’s concerned, the token “fatty” is almost always a cute but bumbling idiot.

Now and then someone like Oliver Platt comes along, who’s as graceful as he is oversized, but, for the most part, you’d think fat always equaled clumsy slob with no life ambitions. Thanks, Hollywood!

What the hell’s with this sanctimony now?

It’s just ridiculous there’s SUCH a furor over Kelly’s words and not enough anger about the program itself.

And where’s the anger about magazines like FHM, who hatefully call this undercover-camera footage of a fat man eating cheese “comedy gold”? Raise your hand if you don’t think this guy’s seen this footage and ever wants to exit his home again.

Face it: People are mean. They’re cruel.

Okay, was Maura Kelly an asshat in how she worded her rant? Yes.

Was she saying what a LOT of people probably agree with? YES.

Was she likely baiting people for a reaction? Yeah.

Does that make it right? Not really.

Should she lose her job? HELL, NO.

So where’s that leave us?

Finally friggin’ talking about it.

Here’s how I see this issue, on many levels:

One, Maura Kelly’s pretty wrong but there’s some truth to what she’s saying. Obesity can’t be allowed to become normalized. We can’t sit back as a society and say that what we’re doing to our health is okay. We can’t keep eating ourselves to death because we’re too lazy to chop up some vegetables.

Two, the problem with being horrified by “fat” people making out is, they’re not the only people with bad eating habits, they’re not the only unhealthy people. Are Kelly-type people grossed out by the “fatty” lack of health or just the fat? How hypocritical is that? IN FACT, there are “fat” people who eat healthy meals and can probably haul ass further than you. Don’t judge the chubby books by their ample covers.

Three, by keeping the perception of health on how we LOOK, a lot more “skinny fat” people will keep feeling validated in their habits because they have smaller than a 34 waist — much to the chagrin of the 5’4, 125-pound type-2 diabetic I know who drank himself into the disease by way of two full-sugar Big Gulps a day over a decade, and much to my chagrin as as a very-healthy-but-chubby taxpayer.

Four, is the show really doing “fat” any favours by making it a sitcom about fat people who meet in a fat-people place and who live their life around a lot of fat-people issues? I’m not so sure we should be celebrating the program while demonizing the critic, if the show’s reinforcing stereotypes. Know what “sitcom” is short for? “Situation comedy”. This situation, for Mike and Molly? Fat man meets fat woman at a fat meeting and they go home and are fat and awkward together. Oh, win, Hollywood — just made of win. The plot development seems a little, well, thin to me.

Five, when Maura Kelly likens seeing fatness to that of seeing a heroin junkie or an alcoholic, is she that far off the mark? Most weight situations are insanely difficult to be reversed, like a lot of addictions are, but they can indeed be reversed. Not all cases of obesity are caused by poor lifestyle choices, but many are. For me, she would NOT have been off the mark. Food is, and always has been, my primary choice of drug — be it my undying love for butter or passion for anything cooked well — and it would have led me to an early grave if I’d continued as I had from 1999-2003, as surely as an overdose or alcohol poisoning could have.

Six, by being a complete asshat in how she positioned some of her argument, Maura Kelly has shown us just how hateful most people’s speech is when it slips out in seemingly-harmless little chunks here and there — whether it’s a snide little “Oh, lord” about a morbidly obese man on the next corner, or a quiet chuckle as they see a heavy woman trying to squeeze into a too-small chair on a food court. Hypocrites.

You have no idea the jokes that are made to my overweight father’s face. To his FACE. He’s the kindest man I know, and he’s fat, and he knows it, and yet even his “friends” and “family” make remarks that break my heart. To his FACE.

Because he’s “fat,” it’s somehow all right.

People are often ASSHOLES, even “nice” people, and it’s about time they know these comments cut and they cut deeply. At least Maura Kelly had the balls to sign her name to her words.

This conversation needs to be had. Accepting people who are 35% obese and greater as just something we have to get used to is dangerous to our health as a society. But skinny-fat people who scarf down their fast food with no regard for sodium, heart health, or diabetes, they aren’t doing society any favours either, and the hypocrisy is glaring.

Ultimately, the conversation has to shift from what healthy LOOKS LIKE to what healthy IS.

Judging overweight people by their exteriors is stupid and foolish, but being permissive of an ever-enlarging population to just keep getting bigger, while chuckling at it and making it part of our entertainment, well… that’s not solving the problem either — and actually hurts those it purports to include in “Hollywood”.

Is there an easy solution?

Yes. As a society, we regulate food like we do anything that can kill people. We must stop legally catering to commercial food producers who see it as “product” and not our health. We tax those foods that can lead to obesity, diabetes, and other diseases so that it pays for the medical care it will surely one day demand.

We ditch shit food, we celebrate farmers, we learn to cook, we eat in moderation, and we exercise.

All of us.

Because most of us are killing ourselves — fat and thin. And it’s really not okay anymore — especially not when, in countries like Canada, the rest of the population picks up the tab for it.

You may hate Maura Kelly for her ideas and her attitude, but she should keep her job, because she’s done what she was hired to do — she got us all talking.

Shamelessly borrowed from Ebaumsworld.com.

What I’ve Learned Slowly in Life & Writing

They don’t tell you that knowing who you are isn’t enough.

They don’t teach you that having a sense of identity doesn’t equal understanding how that identity fits into society.

They don’t say that loving what you’re gifted in doesn’t mean you’ll ever be able to make a living at it, or even that you’ll ever be guaranteed access to doing it.

No. They don’t.

That’s the way the reality dice roll.

Shamelessly borrowed from Ebaumsworld.com.


I remember a day in early May, 1994, sitting on a rocky shore in Oregon, as waves crested and broke below me, a notepad wobbling on my knees, wanting more than anything for the ability to break through the writing-blahs I’d been wallowing in, and wishing I knew how to do what I wanted for a living. I remember staring into the waves and thinking the only thing I ever really cared about was being able to just explore writing in my own way, and to do it for myself first, always.

I had no idea then, but that was the start of a very long,  strange ride for me — within 4 months I’d be living in the Yukon, within 5 years my mother would die, within 10 years I almost died, and then came the struggle through the Weird after, much of which I’ve written about at length.

I had no idea what would loom, where I’d go, and just how goddamned far from my dreams my road would lead.

Ironically, the further from my dreams I’ve been led, the better my writing has become… and somehow, I’ve come full circle, closer to the ‘writing life’ I’ve always wanted to live. It’s like an existential whirligig, one that takes some 20 years to come ’round to its start again.

Experience is the best teacher, and this is true also of writing.

You’ll always be a shit writer until life dunks you in the tank a few times. All the Sufi mystics would tell ya we’re only as broad as what we’ve lived through, right?

I guess the gift of Aging is that we start to realize we’re shaped by our pains as well as our joys, loves as well as hates, and we’ve learned through repeated exposure that we are built for survival, not perishing.

Look at what we can endure. Look at the Chilean miners rescued this week, and those who overcame the most ridiculous of engineering feats to manage that rescue.

And, yet… Life isn’t an engineering challenge.

It isn’t something one can solve with a drafting program, some applied physics, and a ruler.

Life’s a cosmic dodgeball game — played in a big-but-small room, where more balls than you can imagine are bouncing and ricocheting wildly, with no discernible pattern, and no reason for who or what they take out in their bouncy-travels.

Knowing who you are and what you can do doesn’t ever guarantee your efforts will be made of win, it doesn’t mean life won’t hit you in that game of dodgeball, sidelining you instead of sending you sailing successfully into the next game series.

I don’t think it’s a “Work hard enough and you can get it” scenario for everything in life. Methink that’s idealistic and what Random House et al want you to believe so you keep buying self-help-guru books when The World somehow shuts the big door on you.

In life, I think luck is as much a factor as work. Some folks are the pigeon, some folks are the statue — shit or be shat upon.

For what it’s worth, I don’t feel life’s posed enough of an obstacle to keep me out of the game. Some of us don’t come into who we’re supposed to be until later in life, and I’ve always suspected my 40s would be when I mastered the whole “world domination” thing.

The mentality of “you gotta be someone by 30” is the biggest piece-of-shit fallacy in the world.

It doesn’t happen that way. The school of life doesn’t run in semesters and grades, not everyone gets a pass at 18. Life lessons come and they go, but never fear — they’ll be back. The lessons will always be back.

The great dame of acting, the fabulous Ellen Burstyn, wrote an autobiography called Lessons in Becoming Myself, published in 2006, when she was 74. She was asked if she had “become” herself, and she answered no, that even as 80 loomed, she was still constantly learning about herself, forever becoming someone new, better, and more evolved than the woman she was, even a year, month, or week ago.

I remember watching her delivering this slow, well-thought answer, and smiling. I smiled too. I could do with getting old if it meant I’d always keep improving, and wasn’t relegated to becoming a lesser version of that which I once was.

And that’s another thing they don’t tell you.

They don’t let you know that you may think you know yourself, but ya don’t know jack, Jack.

You don’t know yourself until you’ve faced demons and betrayal, loss and hopelessness. You don’t know yourself until you’ve hit bottom and gotten back up.

The trouble is: “Bottom” is relative. Every time you hit what you think is bottom, don’t worry — you’re not bottomed-out. You can always go lower.

Believe that. Know it. Respect it.

Just don’t fear it. It’s a teacher, and you’re built for survival, remember?

When you’re young, they also fail to share that life ain’t about perceived successes — it’s not about who you become at the office, or the cachet you carry with you at meet-n-greet events, or the hot babe on your arm. They don’t teach you that life ain’t about money, glam, swag, beauty, or praise.

Life’s really about being able to like what’s in your head when the lights go out at night. Like Grandma Death in Donnie Darko says, “Every living creature dies alone.”

I think, ultimately, just getting to that side of life (death) and being able to die alone, but die truly knowing who you are, what you’ve had in life, must be the greatest departing gift one can have.

They don’t talk about that.  Or just how hard it is to get that place of knowing.

You can’t teach people in advance about the pain that comes from a life lived, or how much any one person can endure. No one can know endurance till they’ve had it, any of it. And some just can’t go there, be that; they’re not built Ford-tough.

But I am.

Somehow, I wish I knew that 20 years ago. I wish I knew long ago that protecting myself was just foolishness, and I’d get hurt often and deeply regardless of safety measures. I wish I was taught to just go, do it, fail, and do it again.

But I wasn’t.

Yet I’ve begun to learn it.

Like I say: Some of us don’t come into who we’re supposed to be until much later. Perhaps it means we’ll be better at who we’re supposed to be because we’ve had more practice with the bump-in-the-night of it all.

I have a feeling I’ll be finding out myself, soon.

Older, wiser… this shit ain’t so bad.