Tag Archives: believing in yourself

Ending, Meet Beginning

I’m sitting here in my panties, belting out George Michael songs, as sunlight spills in.

I’m absolutely comfortable in my own skin this morning, beaming and grooving.

It’s only fitting, then, that this should be the last-ever “Smut and Steff” posting. Yep. Done like dinner, baby. By the time you read this, likely, this will already be “The Cunting Linguist” again.

I’m home, baby. Back in black, back to myself.

Only home’ll never have felt so good, thanks to my new template that’ll be uploaded within the hour or two.

Everything I ever learned about believing in myself has been learned in the process of being stupid enough to switch from “The Cunting Linguist” to “Smut and Steff” back in the bad ol’ days of 2006.  More than I can probably ever explain to y’all.*

Coming back to my writing roots? Priceless. On every level.

The end of the mistaken-self is nigh. We bringin’ it back to where we from. Damn rights.

I underestimated the brand I created. I didn’t read the value in my vision right. I’ve been kicking myself since. But just because you recognize what you’ve lost doesn’t mean you’re ready to take it back. It’s been a long road.

I’m ready.

You don’t know the character points I’ve picked up along the way, and I don’t have to explain.

Like anything in life, you don’t need all that unfolding here, now. It’ll become apparent over time.

It’s a good day.

Seeya, Smut.

Meet the Cunt.

*But lord knows imma tryin’. If you’re in the audience for Friday’s talk at Northern Voice 2010, you can be there for my first-ever telling of the whole sordid tale. God help us all.

Bracing Myself For What May Come

Throbbing pain behind my eyes makes writing sort of the last thing I should be doing right now. I can hear the blood coursing in my head in between the droning waves of traffic grinding up the main streets by home.

I close my eyes and nausea swims on top of my belly. Nerves, or just general dis-ease after two days with this headache.

So much got done yesterday — most of my floors, organizing, rearranging, decluttering. Much more needs to occur in the coming weeks for me to have the perfect little home I’ve always wanted but… I’ve never been this close out of the gate, y’know? Feels good. Even as my head pounds and pulses.

I dropped a line to my Mystery Mentor today, all the while going “Gee, what crazy antics in my life. Zoinks! I should write a book about it or something.”

After all this home-fixing-up stuff is done, it’s onto the book in earnest, but not in a “I’m gonna siddown and write eighty-umptillion-schmillion words today!” kind of way — instead, I’m writing me a book proposal.

It’s kinda assbackwardy, truth be told.

You figure out kinda an outline for your book. You pitch it. You go “Holy smokes, this is brilliance, buy my book!” in a way that doesn’t actually say that. Then you send that to agents and hope one goes “Holy smokes, this is brilliance, I must buy this book!” One does, they sign you, you’re hard at work on the book you’ve proposed, and meanwhile the agent goes to publishers and says, “LOOK. BRILLIANCE. Buy this! Publish it!” One does, you get a fat advance, you finish the book, everyone lives happily ever after.

Uh-huh. Or so I wanna believe.

I wrote last week about the Patti Labelle advice for her 30-year-old self, “Believe the hype, baby.” Honestly, I believe that’s been the biggest struggle for me in recent years. Learning to see myself on the inside as other people perceive me to be — and I still ain’t there by a long shot.

And that’s the interesting dilemma I’ll face in the Book Proposal Project: I need to believe.

I need to believe the story I’ve got to tell and sell is better than one that anyone at a party has behind them.

I’ve got to believe my story’s compelling enough to make someone stop in the middle of filling their glass at the office watercooler and say to their coworker, “So this book I’m reading, you should totally go there!”

THAT’S the game you need to believe you bring BEFORE you write a book. If you don’t THINK you’re that compelling, if you don’t BELIEVE your story has that much gravitas, then what the fuck are you doing? Don’t waste MY time, but sure as shit don’t waste yours. A book’s a one, two, five-year commitment, man. It’s not frivolity.

Believing this is where being raised as a Catholic Canadian really hoodwinks a (not as) fat-girl.

  • Who’s better at feeling guilty than a Catholic?
  • Who’s better at being sorry than a Canadian?
  • Who’s better at being insecure than a fat girl?

Oh, hey, now… have I got a book for you!

So, as I sit here with my pounding head in my ever-simplifying home, I realize next week is game on and I start this book proposal. My awareness of its psycho-emotional implications, though, are new.

My understanding that the book proposal itself may turn into a therapy exercise is probably the most important realization I can have. Therapy’s great, but then you gotta stand back like a comedian and point and laugh.

But this is the week the foundation is laid. By removing all my distractions — this pile of papers there, the clutter over here, the floors that need to be cleaned or the crap that needs to be donated — I’m creating a landscape or work environment in which my focus can only be pulled so far away at any given time.

The focus next week is to start the book proposal — but deliberately doing a therapeutic version. I’ll get the bullshit out, then blast it away with my irreverence and self-deprecation. What’s left will probably be a very good fascimile of who I am as a writer.

But I won’t get there if I don’t go through who I am as a person first.

The reality is, my book is about me. Between now and the end of this, I need to believe I — me, myself, girlie-o, chickadee, moi, yours truly — am worth plunking down some $30-40 on in hardcover form. I need to believe I can see YOU sitting in an armchair with a blanket around your legs and a glass of wine in hand, flipping page over page as you can’t wait to read how I got out of that NEXT jam, while ignoring your phonecalls and promising you’ll get to those emails come dawn.

I need to believe that.

And if you want to write a book? You need to believe that, too.

There’s a strange dichotomy in the mind of anyone who needs to have YOU buy a piece of themselves for their livelihood. There’s the legend-in-one’s-own-mind syndrome that butts heads against the reality of almost all of us getting taunted, mocked, or just plain failing at one point or another in our lives.

Insecurities aren’t rare. They don’t all cripple their owners, though.

My insecurities were bigger because I was bigger. I couldn’t fucking hide. I was 277 pounds and size 24. Where the fuck am I gonna go, right? That was only the beginning of the end of where it all came from, the beginning of what I needed to get past in order to tell the story I now think you’ll one day be okay with dropping $29.95 on.

In the meantime, minions?

Unemployment’s giving me the chance to get back into a life I somehow lost for a while — cycling, writing, enjoying my home, living simply, and, yes, even dating. I’m dusting myself off and getting back into dating** after a long time of just being completely disinterested. Do I want “love” right now? [shrug] I dunno. Whatcha got? Right?

We’ll see what the world unfolds. I feel like anything can happen right now, and despite the seemingly negative turn of events losing my job would appear to unleash, I feel very much the opposite — that opportunity is everywhere.

I feel like it’s my time, but the only thing holding me back is finding the path from here to there, and dialing up the courage and resilience it’ll take to keep walking that path long after the bloodied sores and blisters emerge.

Ever read Paulo Coelho’s The Alchemist? No? You should. Right now, no matter what I do, there’s a very quiet little air of Maktub* in the back of my mind.

But I still need to do the writing.

*In the book, Coelho explains MAKTUB as meaning “it is written” in Arabic, a sort of idea of fate and determination.

**I’m taking applications. No. Really.

A Ramble: Valentine’s Day

This day, the 15th, is one of my least favourite days of the year for private reasons. I fucking hate it. So, I got to thinking last night as I smoked a joint and continued to write, and this is the rambling ode I had about being single on Valentine’s day, and I dedicate it to all those who rolled out of bed alone today and didn’t feel badly about it.

I’m at home on Valentine’s night. There’s a Dr. Phil show on, about how to “love smart.” It’s a primetime special. Ever noticed how the matchmaker sites go onto full boil around this time of year? Notice the fix-up services advertising more these days? It’s like the world conspires to tell you you’re a loser if a) you’re single or b) your lover doesn’t spend enough on you or c) your lover doesn’t put out.

I’m reveling in my singleness this evening. I made garlic bread. With extra garlic. And spaghetti with meat sauce, something the wise would never eat in front of a date. I’m wearing my cut-off shorts and a fleecy sweater. I’m having an awesome night of relaxing, writing, cooking, watching a little telly, and reading. And deep down inside there’s this niggling of “But they think you need a boyfriend. Do ya, honey?”

I know I had a moment of weakness last week, that’s what I do know. I seized a moment with someone and let things go further than they should have, but for that night, regardless of what the future did or didn’t hold, companionship sounded like a good idea. There are people you know you can trust, even if you can’t imagine really being with them for the long haul. And there are weak moments.

Ultimately, though, I do love being single. I admit, I am alone. I’m not lonely, though. Not usually. (Weakness, it happens.) And I resent Valentine’s Day (and the media and society) for seeming to think my lack of desire for a real, true relationship is anything less than healthy. I want a relationship, but I want the right relationship. Anything less than simpatico is just not worth my time, grief, or efforts. The right man, he gets it all. I’ll drop anything for the right guy, you know. I’m just a diehard romantic. But I scrutinize with the best of them, and I just want the right combination.

Otherwise, I’ll keep my Sundays for reading the paper in my boxers and a t-shirt. I’ll get up when I want, sleep where I want, eat what I want, and do what I want. I won’t have to check to see if “our schedule” is clear, I won’t have to worry about any of that. Like I say, when it’s right, it’s worth it, but when it’s not absolutely right, it’s infringing on my space.

That makes me very male in some ways, I think. I’m not sure why more men feel that way than women, but perhaps it comes down to how comfortable they are alone. It’s interesting, I’ve seen an increase in the media, people bringing up something I’ve long believed: One of the worst things you can say to a lover is what they said in Jerry Maguire, “You complete me.”

If you cannot be complete on your own, you are not a whole person. If you do not have a sense of self, you have nothing. If you cannot love yourself, who else can? These are clichés, and for good reason. They’re as true as they can be.

If you don’t know yourself when you fall in love with someone, you’re going to have the very, very rude experience of cluing the fuck in to who you are somewhere down the line, and that person you’ve committed yourself to is going to find out that they no longer fit the bill. Who you love must complement who you are, not complete it. We’re foolish when it comes to love, we put the cart before the horse.

I long ago discovered that my “fuctedness,” as one pal would say, needed solitude. Every time I got into a relationship, I lost more and more of who I was. I became this person who needed to have that approval from “them” in order to have that sense of self. Now, I couldn’t care less. I know that the right people, the ones I want around me, they dig me. The ones who don’t dig me, don’t get me, and won’t have me, and that’s just fine. Don’t fight it, man. Go with the flow.

But when you really learn to dig yourself, you don’t need anyone anymore. You see people for what they are: Icing on a fuckin’ fab cake, baby.

See, the difference between those of us who enjoy being single and those who do not is pretty simple. Those of us who enjoy it, we’re optimistic about love. We figure, hey, if the time’s ever right, if the cosmos ever aligns, then maybe we’ll come out of that with something/one we just can’t get enough of. Until then, we’re alone, and we’re going to enjoy it, ‘cos when that love comes, aloneness goes. And it’s more than aloneness. It’s solitude, quietude. There are some things you will never, ever experience if you don’t command your time alone. Some of the most profound experiences of my life have come to me in moments spent completely isolated from the world.

I moved to the Yukon for one year when I was 21, and it was a profound experience all the way around. Before then, I was a popular gal and always had plans, always was out. I moved there and discovered the true art of being alone and loving it, and it changed my life. I remember a night right around summer solstice. It was daylight then from three in the morning until two in the morning, just an hour of dusk in between… fucking sublime. Sigh. You could sit and watch the sunset followed by the sunrise in the time it took to slowly nurse a single beer. I was having one of these profound days – a day in between nights at the bar, preceding a long weekend away, where we’d be camping at the foot of Mount McKinley and Mount Logan, the continent’s highest peaks. I remember thinking, “I’ve got it pretty fucking good. This will be one of the best times in my life, and I will never, ever forget these experiences. But tonight I got to slow it down and keep it all to me.”

I packed up a few things… a joint, a couple of beers, some Robert Service poetry, and a sweater. I drove the car out of the city (of 15,000) into the nearby country, Miles’ Canyon, the Yukon’s mini version of the Grand, through which the Yukon river carved a wide and tumultuous path. I did a hike out to the edge of the canyon and found an isolated spot above the river where I sat leaning against an alpine fir and facing northward, where I could see the sun dead ahead, just slightly left of the magnetic north. It was midnight and the sunset wasn’t far off. The mountains lay before me to the north (and to the south and east and west) and the land was all reds and browns and greens and yellows with this beautiful deep blue sky. The light, as that incredible northern light is, was absolutely preternatural. There’s something angelic and sweet about the late eveningg summer’s light up there that bathes the world in buttery goodness. I did what I often do, I just sat there and watched how the light changed and shadows shifted on the landscape. There’s something profound about sitting there literally watching time pass by.

So all I did was sit there, consider my life, my place, the potential in my future, who I was and who I would become. To this day, that moment stands in my top twenty, if not my top ten, in my life experiences – and still, stacked up against international trips, true rites of passage, it holds its own, my friends. I was with no one. Nothing really happened. It was quietude in its finest. Not a human voice. Not a plane. Not a vehicle. Nothing electronic. No wires. Nothing. Just me, the gods, and the earth. And it was fucking incredible.

And when you’re afraid of aloneness, you miss out on moments like that. Moments when you sit around and connect with nature on your own time. A guy once said to me, Cities are built for distraction. Meaning, they’re there to help us forget all the things we wish for, that we’ll never have. So too are the wrong relationships, Valentine’s day be damned.

When you spend more time alone, when you get really honest with yourself about what you ought to be valuing, you gain this inner contentment about what it is you’ve got, and you often develop clarity about what it is you need, and how to attain it. These are things, qualities, that many of my fellow (wo)men need to find.

I wouldn’t say that being single leaves me in a state of nirvana, but I’m in a place that I really dig, and it’s because I’ve come to feel that I’d rather be alone than in a relationship where I’m not fully… I don’t know, what, plugged in? I’m charged, he’s charged, it’s all good? I mean, I’m damned good company, most times, so I’d really have to value a guy to keep him around, is what I’m saying. Life’s just too fucking short.

So, yeah, Valentine’s day. I digressed a lot there. Love’s hard enough without cheapening it with commercialism. If you want romance, celebrate it always. If you want love, keep it year round, not because a calendar tells you it’s that time again. And love ain’t about what you can buy, people. These expensive gifts… really. When did generosity become about the almighty dollar? When did it stop being a thing of spirit, of gesture? I just honestly find that buying into this Valentine’s day bullshit really helps to make people forget what relationships ought to be about. The little things: The qualities shared, the words said, the actions done. Not the things bought. Not the fancy places we go.

But the very best thing about being a content, whole person in the search of love, is that when you find someone who really does deserve a shot at fitting that bill, it’s so incredibly rewarding to just drink them in. They’re not fulfilling you, they’re just nurturing all that is good about you. Then, it feels like a gift, like something you should cherish. Something you want to cherish. Not a job, not an obligation. And isn’t that how things ought to be?