Sunday, May 27, 2012


I viewed the film MissRepresentation with my class a couple of weeks ago. I have seen it twice now, and as a woman in this society I was impressed, shocked, and saddened by the statistics around body image, cutting, eating disorders and depression among my sisters, sisters in the global sense, on this planet.

There are too many points made in the film to remember and recount them all in one, or two sittings. This is clearly a movie I want to see many more times.

However, there was one statement made by Gloria Steinham (my hero), about body image. She said "You know, every time any of us walks past a mirror and denigrates our own appearance, a girl is watching and getting her self-estimate from that."

Yesterday I went clothes shopping with my fashion consultant (thanks dear sister), and found myself having to disrobe many times to try on a variety of outfits: skirts, pants, tops, dresses, and a bathing suit.

Gloria's words kept ringing in my ears. So I was kinder to myself I think than I normally would have been. It was interesting over-hearing women in the other change rooms talking about wanting to hide their tummies, or their back fat, or their arms, or their necks.

My sister and I talked about colours, and how to dress things up, or down. Mostly we talked about the good prices - we both love to buy on sale and get good deals! And, by the way, we did.

The interesting part of the day is that I came home with a pair of jeans, a pair of khakis, a new bathing suit, a long dress, a skirt, a new shrug, a beautiful scarf (that was my impulse buy of the day), a camisole, a pink sweater, and two tee-shirts. Only once in the day did I look at my 56 year old, scarred tummy, and think that I need to lose weight.

None of my new clothes make me look 120 pounds. All of my new clothes look good on me. Me, a 56 year old woman who carries weight. To many I carry too much weight. But, truly, for the last four years I have been more at home in my body. More comfortable in my own skin.

This is what I, at 56 look like. It is ok. It is better than ok. I am loved. I have friends. I want my class to remember a woman who was comfortable in her own skin. Who wasn't afraid to wear a bathing suit, who when she looks in a mirror smiles her beautiful smile, sees a twinkle in her blue eyes, tossles her gray hair, and gets on with the day.

Thanks, GLoria!

Saturday, May 19, 2012

Is this what retirement looks like?

It is funny how on a long weekend that gives me an extra day I often choose to do housework on my extra day. So today I cleaned out the kitchen garbage can, sorted through all my teaching files, did the laundry, vacuumed, cleaned the bathroom, dusted, did dishes, made my bed, sorted books on my book shelf, and put my jade plants outside on the back porch for the summer.

My husband worked on cleaning the bar b que, and later went out to get a few groceries. I spent some time reading on the porch, doing my saturday crossword, and put on some potatoes for home made potato salad.

We had a lovely dinner of steak and prawns, greek salad and potato salad with my granny's mayonaise. We had wine, and even a candle on the table.

Then a long luxurious bath, and now I am settled on the couch (a little sun-kissed) to watch a movie and work on a lace scarf I am knitting and would like to finish in time for my class's graduation in a few weeks.

Just a lovely, busy, lazy day. I realize, yet again, that when I am not overwhelmed with prep and school issues, I like a tidy house, with flowers on the balcony, and a made bed.

A peek into my future.

Not so shabby.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

sometimes I don't answer the phone....

There are many times when the phone rings, and I see the caller id and I don't answer the phone. I don't know why I even check the caller id because when I find myself doing this, I know that I won't answer it no matter who is calling. I know that when I am in one of those 'moods' that I haven't the energy to converse.

It is usually when something is weighing on me, something that I am not ready to talk about, maybe will never be able to talk about. I can't talk about it because it is nameless, and formless, and illusive.

I feel guilt for not answering the phone. Sometimes I don't call back for days, taking that time to muster my strength to engage in relationship.

I have an intuitive sister, and an intuitive friend, and an intuitive daughter. They don't let me not answer the phone. They force their way in and force me to be in relationship. I am so honoured that they love me enough to push their way in when I am busy bolting doors. So grateful for their support in this lifetime.

Reaching out to another is very difficult for me, and I am not sure why. My husband stalwartly perseveres when I am like this. He is patient. He is kind. He doesn't let me wallow, but he gives me space. I am not so patient, or understanding to him, but he loves me despite that. I love him because of it.

My friend will phone suggesting coffee. My sister will phone just to chatter away and then to ask the question, and pause, and wait, and listen for the answer. It is usually long, and complicated, not well told, and spoken through tears - the gasping sob of tears. But she listens, and always at the end tells me she loves me, and makes me promise not to keep things from her. She loves me like a mother should love a child. And I, a motherless child, am grateful for it.

I have not been posting to this blog so much lately. I am not sure why. Partly because things are going so well in my classroom and often my blogs are triggered by classroom events. Partly because I share personal feelings in this blog and that has been used against me. Perhaps that is why I don't reach out when I am sad and lonely. Perhaps it is because I believe it will be used against me. My mother always told me not to air dirty laundry. Perhaps I should have listened to her advice in that area.

I have only a few friends that I share this blog with. Mostly family. Family I consider friends. But it is not such an easy distinction. I have family members that know who I truly am, and I have family where we are 'polite' and 'politic'. I have family I wish I saw more, and family I wish sought to understand me better. I have family I wish I could talk to. I have family that I miss.

I could write all of those sentences about friends as well. So, that in itself is interesting.

And my children? My children, I think, I know alot about, and they know alot about me. I think we share our highs and lows, and we all feel better talking truly one to the other.

Is it ever really enough? I have the respect and love of many, and the dis-respect and mis-understanding from a few. And those few stay in my conciousess and sub-conciousness continually. Someone told me recently it is because I love them. And I do. I love them. And I know that sometimes loving someone is not enough. I know that sometimes loving someone leaves you open and vulnerable. I know that sometimes loving someone is not enough.

And for my part in that I am truly sorry and would like to ask forgiveness. Although it seems that relationship is not possible, I will move forward with no ill will or anger.

It is not useful. It is not healthy. It is not who I choose to be.

So if the phone rings I will have the courage and selflessness to answer it. For, in the end, I always feel better being in, rather than out of, relationship with others.

And rather than relying on the intuition of others, I can rely on my own initiative.

So, if you are reading this expect a call. I hope you answer.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Five Year Diary

I received a five year diary for my birthday last October. I had seen my sister's and thought it was a cool idea. She surprised me with the gift. She is thoughtful that way.

It allows only a few lines per day, so at the end of five years you have all five entries for a date - say October 17 - on one page.

I have been using it to cram in events of the day, and as a record of my migraines, but I decided last night that I need to use it more productively. Partly because my handwriting is so poor that I barely can read the entries, so for the family historians who may read this in 50 years it will be a frustrating experience.

I think instead I am going to do what my niece suggested to do at the year end. Think of a word, or short phrase, to sum up the year, and another word, or short phrase to look forward to the next year. But, I will do it daily, rather than yearly.

So for today the words I will write to end the day are Contentment and Calm. The phrase for tomorrow: Courage and Letting Go.

I have to learn to let go of my class of students. The end is coming fast - four more weeks of teaching, one week of camping, and three days to round it all off.

I have to learn to let go of my identity as 'a teacher', although my mother once said that I am a born teacher, and whatever I find myself doing, teaching will likely be a part of it.

I have to learn to let go of my children as they find their way in the world. Not letting go in the heart sense, but letting go in the way that parents must let go of their children. It is a way I am still trying to find the words for this journey. To still care, and yes, worry, and support, and love and listen, but not to burden them with obligation or baggage.

I have to learn to let go of trying to ease another's pain, by making it my own. That kind of enmeshment or enabling behaviour is not good for me, or them.

I have to learn to let go of what was, what could have been, and learn to live with what is and what will be.

I have to learn to let go of the life I have been living, and imagine a different one.

I have to let go of my fear, and learn to embrace the feeling of free fall.

I have to learn to "Not look back, because I am not going that way".

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

A week in a life

Alot has happened. Some of it tangible, like a finished play. Some intangible, like a shift in the cosmos. A week ago I was sad, alone, lonely and wondering how to get through the next few hours, let alone a whole week, and today, although I am very tired, I am more centered, more at peace. That peace comes from grace and faith, friendship, family and prayer.

My class performed last Friday, Saturday and Sunday. Each performance was two hours. They were stellar. They were brave. They were humourous, dedicated and musical. As they often do, they stole my heart away. Each one of them so shining in their individual moments, but even more so at the last scene when they were all on stage. All 13 of them. So beautiful, so proud, so accomplished.

But, this was also a week of great pain and reflection. Past hurts, long past, once again surfaced and the scab pulled off to reveal the abcess of a wound unhealed and the realization that it will never be healed. It is like living with a chronic illness. But harder. A chronic illness I do live with, every day, although it is less in my mind as it seems I am in some kind of remission. This situation is not like that. It is not a diagnosis you can look up on the internet, or discuss with others who have experienced a similar medical situation. This feels, as Jaques says in As You Like It, "like a melancholy of mine own." Tolstoy said "Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way".

A friend of mine said to me last Monday - "Our families bring us the greatest joy and the deepest pain". Last Monday I was in deep pain. The kind where you can't eat, can't swallow, can't sleep, can't imagine when the pain in your stomach will stop."

As I have written before, my relationship with my mother is complicated. That complication makes other family relationships complicated. Even when you are one of six siblings, even though you think that each of you are being raised by the same parents, you really aren't. Every parent/child relationship is unique. And some are easier than others. I have written in the past that I, at times, didn't like my mother very much, and even came to the place where I realized I didn't love her. Saying those words does not mean that I don't have familial love for the woman that raised me, that there weren't loving moments in our relationship. There are fond memories of her within the painful ones. Especially summer memories, talking in the garden, drinking coffee before anyone else was awake.

But this is not where the pain lies today. The pain is for the impossibility of unity, of reconciliation. The pain is for the realization that the stories are too far apart. A teacher friend of mine said recently that in any disagreement there are three truths. Their truth, your truth, and God's truth.

Perhaps, for this lifetime, I have to let the truth lie with God. There is nothing to gain in trying to give my side of the story, because the other can refute it, deny it, not recognize it, argue it.

It is not enough that there is pain in different perceptions. That, perhaps, I could live with. I could have learned to live with my mother's anger. I have been angry. We have all been angry. It is the meanness that lay behind, or sometimes in front of, the anger that I find hard to accept.

It is an anger I again recognize in another. That is where the pain lies. In the realization that it exists for another generation. And perhaps another after that.

Generational anger and hurt. That is where the true pain lies.

I used to believe that I could bring reason and rationality to the situation. I couldn't then. I can't now. I think at 56 it is time I accept that. It is over. My part in it is over. There is no percentage in hanging on to false hope.

So I will focus on the love and respect I have for those close to me. Some are family that I would choose to be friends. Some are friends that I consider family. I am loved by many, and I in turn love many. That is what took my pain away one week ago, and that is what will heal this wound once and for all.