People Like Us

Sometimes, life is super rad and everything is awesome & you look at life like “damn, life is so awesome!”

…this is not one of those times.

I’m telling you kids, this month has been a struggle. First, I asked to reduce my workload as a result of a personal issue. My super awesome boss was all “yeah, for sure,” at first, but then he was like “LOL JK you run two stores now.” I’m not complaining. I’m grateful that I get to prove I can handle more responsibilities. My kick ass ASM’s are a big help, and it’s double money, so I’ve been planning a girls weekend with some girlfriends and the kids to go to Jasper at the end of October or early November. Hopefully, my best friend can come with, depending on her work schedule, because my best friend is moving to Edmonton. DID I MENTION MY BEST FRIEND WILL BE LIVING IN EDMONTON WITH ME (well, not in the same house, BUT VERY CLOSE TO ME)?! Hard work means I can save up for Xmas, and go on a little mini vacay to see mountains. But, I’d really like to find time for the gym. I love the gym.

LOOK HOW HOT MY BEST FRIEND IS

I’ve been struggling with some personal stuff. Sometimes it’s hard to put personal struggles aside and focus on the work. But, you’ve gotta do it, even when it feels like everything is crushing you and the weight of the world is breaking your heart. But you gotta push through. Your family depends on it & you have to do what’s best, even if it’s not popular. Sometimes that stress bleeds in at work and you’re crying in your back room because you don’t know how to navigate a situation like this. Fortunately, I have a great team of people that work with me. I have a great support team of managers and an understanding boss. So, we make it work somehow & the work is paying off. We won our “Holy Grail.” Every month we get a little better. Even when everything sucks, you’ve gotta smile and keep on moving.

Not pictured; the other half of my team. Also, my desire to look cute in a picture

Somewhere between the added workload, and article deadline, declining a writing opportunity I really wanted to take advantage of (and hopefully will in the near future, when I have more time), I sat on the glasses I need to wear at all times to read and drive and broke them. Again, look on the bright side MHC. Fix em with super glue. You have benefits. You can get new ones. The new ones are Coach. They are Hella cute. They aren’t scratched. Yay! So, let’s take a deep breath and be positive.

Which brings me to the story of my car.

I love my car. I have an unnatural attachment to my car. Her name is Wanda Maximoff. I refuse to let my car get below half a tank of gas. You can not eat or drink inside of my car. You must wipe your feet before getting inside my car. I’ve already booked my oil change/service, because it’s been almost six months. I freak if it is even a little bit dirty. Yes, I love my car. I’m also a SUPER cautious driver. I drive five below the speed limit at all times (unless it’s raining, then it’s ten). On my way home from an impromptu trip to West Edmonton Mall, I went through a roundabout, dropped my speed (it was raining), hit a pothole, and PUNCTURED MY FUCKING TIRE. MY BRAND NEW CAR HAD A FLAT TIRE.

That was it. The last straw. Everything came crashing down; my broken heart, my work stress, my lack of time management which meant no gym, and now my car had a flat tire. I was so angry. I’m a decent person. I work hard. I’m a good mom. I do my best. I try to treat people well. I am a ridiculously cautious driver. So, why was life continuing to fuck me without even buying me dinner first?! I could have spit blood. I was just so sick and tired of trying to be nice and be happy all of the god damn time only to have people stab me in the back and betray my trust and do hateful things to my family while the universe seemed to fuck with my peace of mind and MY BRAND NEW CAR. I did not want to “find the silver lining.” I wanted to throw shit and scream.

But, fortunately for me, the universe won’t let me wallow in self pity. I have to see the good, like my friend getting down on the wet ground to help me change my tire and helping me get my car to Canadian Tire to get it replaced. He also reminded me that my busted tire is a metaphor for life. I did everything right; I was cautious. I signaled. I slowed down to be mindful of the slick roads. I did everything you’re supposed to do and still hit a pothole. That’s life. You can do everything right, but something could still go wrong. The important thing is we learn and still look for the good. I had good friends who spent the evening with me while I replaced my tire. My staff helping me balance my time. My friends back home offering their love and support. Sometimes, you’ve gotta just search for that one good thing about your day & use it to be happy, otherwise you become a miserable sad sack incapable of finding joy.

When life craps on you, you’ve gotta find good. Sometimes it’s as big as the fact that you have a job, a family, great friends, and two kick ass cats and you can work your dream job while also working full time at a job you enjoy and feel empowered at. Sometimes it’s as important as having your friend teach you how to change your tire. Sometimes, it can be as little as you discovered a Taco Bell 12 blocks away & Becky Lynch is the Smackdown Women’s Champion. There’s something good in everything. It’s up to us to find it.

So, even though life is not ideal right this second; it will be. Everything gets better. While we are plugging along, I’ll remember that it’s okay to be stressed and sad, there’s still a lot of good to be found. Maybe it’s harder to find, but if you look hard enough, and make it a point to find it, you will.

Sinners

I’ve kept this blog for seven years. Why? I dunno. I’ve always enjoyed the fact that I have a sort of map of where I’ve grown. My biggest fear in life is that I’ll stop evolving. So, I feel like blogging is my reference point, like “hey, I don’t do that stupid thing anymore! Go me!” But sometimes I like to talk about stuff to kind of remind others that they’re not alone in the world. Maybe they feel like I do sometimes. Or, I just like to hear myself talk. Maybe both.

Lately, my life has been constant stress. Work stress. Money stress. Life stress. I actually just want to go on vacation because I genuinely feel like my life would exponentially improve if I wasn’t part of it for two weeks.

This isn’t actually true. This is the anxiety. Anxiety is the elephant in the room of my life. I know it’s there, everyone around me knows it’s there, but I like to pretend if I ignore it, no one else will see it.

I was diagnosed with Generalized Anxiety Disorder five years ago. I can’t take medication, as anti depressants cause very dangerous side effects. But, I manage it through fitness and therapy. Fitness is a big part of how I cope, so when I can’t work out, I’m especially anxious. I used to have my core group of friends to help keep me grounded. Out here, I have maybe three friends, mostly because of my fear of getting close to people. It’s been so long, but that dark period of loneliness from when I knew no one except for someone who wouldn’t speak to me as a way to control me like a dog always sticks out. If I’m not close to anyone, they can’t hurt me. Or, I’m overly nice to everyone in the hopes that I’m a valuable person because anxiety tells me I’m not. Anxiety likes to tell me that I’m annoying and I talk too much & no one likes me, so I need to prove I have value. Anxiety tells me I’m too weird and everyone laughs at me, not with me.

Anxiety is the reason I both attempt to socialize at the gym while also trying to keep to myself. Anxiety is there to remind me that I stick out like a sore thumb. Slow. Fat. Too old. Too awkward. It doesn’t matter that I’m putting in the work and when I’m done, I’ve been able to shut anxiety up for a few hours, anxiety wants to remind me that I can’t do the bar muscle ups and double unders. I love fitness because that’s the time when I do feel most confident. Sure I’m sweaty and tired and I kind of wanna die; but that feeling of accomplishment when I’ve run a little further, lifted heavier, or finished a little faster is so gratifying. Anxiety is what keeps me at home on days when everything feels like too much. The desire to conquer it is what drives me to sign up for a 10k run.

Also, my team is dope. I work out with good peeps.

Anxiety is why all of my relationships stop before they start. I beat myself up about my “flaws” and end things before they get too serious. I talk too much. I eat too much. I’m too loud. I wear too much makeup. I’m ugly underneath the makeup. I’m a single mom. I work too much. I put my writing first. I’m a nerd that watches wrestling and plays Pokémon Go. I am not a catch. No one tells me these things, other than that nagging voice that reminds me I’m not good enough.

The big thing about anxiety, or any other thing that affects your self esteem, is that the only person who can shut up that voice is you. Only I can stop anxiety from ruining my life. It’s why I push myself to go running on days I don’t want to. It’s why I do yoga & meditate instead of getting drunk in the bathtub on days when I feel sad. It’s why I go to therapy, because we could all use lessons in self care. Sometimes we all need an outside, unbiased voice to help us find our way. But only I can love myself enough to feel good about myself. I have to teach my girls about self love. Not to mention, you can’t be happy with someone until you’re happy with yourself.

But, maybe most importantly, the only well to build a healthier life is to be a healthy person. That’s not just going to the gym or eating greens. That’s also keeping your mind healthy. It’s okay to admit there’s an elephant in the room that keeps you from being your best self. It’s okay to ask for help getting the elephant out of your head once and for all. It’s also okay if that elephant is in the room forever, as long as you aren’t listening to it when it talks shit.

If you are reading this, and you relate to this in any way; I hope you know that you are enough. You’re probably super bad ass. You deserve to be happy and you’re not the only person with anxiety trying to tell you that you’re not good enough. It’s okay to go to therapy. It’s okay to sometimes take space and put yourself first. It’s okay to admit you need help to navigate life. But most importantly, the right partner, the right friends, the people who will never see you as too much (or not enough) will find you once you love yourself enough to let them in.

Sky Full Of Song

A couple of years ago, I was starting a new job, which was kind of an old job. I was going back to a company I loved & I was gonna kill it. I was going to do a great job. I was going to be the best cell phone boss lady in the whole world. Except that I wasn’t, and I was actually demoted after four months. So, I cried in my bathtub with a bottle of wine, wallowed in self pity for an hour, then resolved to get better. I did, got promoted again a year later and now I’m running my store much better than I did before. Sometimes the best lessons come from failure. I wasn’t prepared for the job and I wasn’t very good. It’s a blow to the ego, but sometimes you’ve just gotta take the L and learn from it.

This was the lesson I had to remind myself of this week when every single thing went wrong in my life. I struggled with EVERYTHING, including my road test to upgrade my license. I was feeling discouraged and miserable, like I let everyone down. I injured my foot, so walking was a chore. My feelings of sadness and inadequacy were impacting my work, my life. Fortunately, my best friend Erica is the most bomb ass bitch alive and reminded me that we grow from failure. No one grows as a human from kicking ass all of the time. No, we grow when things suck.

Also, how hot is my best friend? Like, it’s not fair to the rest of us.

I think the universe recognizes that I need to constantly be growing, which is why it kicks me in the face sometimes. We all need that moment where life tells us that we ain’t shit. Otherwise we’d simply float through our lives as stagnant humans. I don’t want to be stagnant. So, I needed that smack with the reality stick to help me stay humble and refocus. That momentary setback will help me become better.

I know it sounds weird, welcoming setbacks? That’s so stupid! They suck! This is true. They do. Trust me, it was soul crushing! My ego was bruised, my self confidence was shattered. But if you wallow in that feeling of defeat, you don’t grow. I wasn’t going to get better sitting around moping. All of the best decisions I’ve made for my life came from being kicked in the proverbial dick. I went back to school after my divorce & met some of my best friends. I moved to London after I let depression get the best of me, and finally found my independence. I moved to YEG after Target closed & I decided to put my writing career first. I learned to drive when my personal life fell apart and I realized my failure to learn was holding me back. I became good at my job after I was told I was bad at my job. All of these setbacks this week are just stepping stones to get better, whether it’s driving, managing, reporting, or fitness. By embracing failure, I can become more successful.

You’re probably thinking “sure MHC, it’s easy for you to say that failure can be positive, but I’m depressed & failure is all that’s happened to me. What then?” Well, I’m not a therapist or professional, but my hippie friend once told me that a mistake will repeat itself until you learn what the universe wants you to learn. Maybe your life is a series of fuck ups because you didn’t learn what you needed to do to evolve, so you have to take the test again. I wouldn’t assume I’m right, but I do know that, in my life, setbacks have gotten me to brilliant destinations. So, I choose to be the eternal optimist and see the good in the worst sorts of things (including Mr. Emotionally Unavailable…call me 😉).

So, I’ll keep on plugging away and keep on trying to get better at every part of my life. Sometimes it’ll all work out. Sometimes it won’t. But the important thing is that I’ll learn how to become a better person along the way. Sometimes things just have to knock you down, not just to test your strength to get back up. Sometimes you need it to remind yourself to be humble and grateful of the opportunities you’ve been given, so that you’re ready to take on more.

No Tears Left To Cry

So, for those of you that have been readers for awhile, you know the backstory; I went from an emotionally abusive marriage to a super controlling string of relationships where I would walk on eggshells so they wouldn’t leave me. I’d trip over myself trying to obey and after years of therapy, fitness, and focusing on discovering who I am, I am doing things on my own, my way. Life is pretty good when you know who you are and what you want out of life. Once you like yourself, you can open yourself up for someone else to love you & you can love them in return. I’ve talked about this many times…

…this is not one of those times.

For those of you who don’t know me personally, there are two things that I’m absolutely terrified of; the dentist…and geese. Geese are evil Canadian fuckers that need to all fuck off. They ruin my running routes, they ruin my afternoon walks. They are all probably actively plotting to kill me. Geese are the absolute worst.

The only thing I hate as much as geese is the dentist. I’m terrified that they’ll pull all of my teeth out. I have no idea why. Maybe the early nineties ruined dentists for me when Dr. Isaac Yankem DDS was threatening to pull out Bret Hart’s teeth for some reason. Maybe I had a vivid nightmare as a child of my teeth falling out. Maybe that excerpt from the Vampire Diaries where Elena’s teeth fell out scarred my fragile tween psyche. Maybe it’s because my best friend was married to a dentist and he’s an ass. Either way, screw the dentist.

Last week, I had a filling fall out. It’s been there for years, nothing hurts, and I had knocked it loose some months ago when I slipped at work and smacked my face against a desk. But I feel really self conscious about it, so I made an appointment with my dentist to have it looked at and replaced. Turns out I need a root canal! What fun! Obviously, I overcame my irrational fear of the helpful dentist and I’ll be perfectly fine.

Nope.

While I enjoy my life on my own, I’m also not an invincible super hero. I get super scared sometimes, especially of stuff that involves my mouth being numbed and someone drilling into my face. It’d be nice to have someone pick me up and bring me home and maybe make me a cup of tea after my mouth is no longer numb. It’d be nice to have the option to take time off from work (my company would give it to me no problem because they rule) but I know I can’t afford to take an extra day off. In times like this, I wish I had someone around to help, or convince me that the dentist isn’t an evil monster who’s going to ruin my face.

I suppose the upside of dealing with unpleasant things on your own is that you master handling unpleasant things so you’re not relying on others to do it for you. That way, even when you do have a partner, you’re emotionally equipped to handle trying times. While it sucks right now, in the end, you’ll be better for it. So, you tough it out, even if it’s terrifying. So, I’m going to be a brave role model to my kids and get the scary root canal and everything will be fine. I’ll also be scared shitless and will need a hug and reassurance because while I can be brave, I am also a huge baby. It’s about balance.

Fall In Line

Have you ever just felt like you are putting in work but not seeing any real return on it?

That’s how I’ve felt lately about pretty much my entire life. I put in work, but I feel like I’m not really seeing a return on the work.

It all started when I started shopping for an outfit to wear to a friend’s wedding. I had narrowed it down to to two options, thinking I’ll have lost the last of the weight I’ve gained since moving out here before the wedding. But after trying them on, I didn’t feel terribly sexy or pretty. I just felt like a fat, unattractive, mess. It didn’t help that despite working out four to five times a week & eating cleaner, I still wasn’t seeing a real change on the scale. I know it can take up to eight weeks to see a change, but my self esteem has been taking a huge hit. I just want to like what I see in the mirror again, and lately, I haven’t.

Also, I still need help picking between these two outfits. Please send your suggestions.

I’ve been getting really down on myself lately, and my body image has a lot to do with it. Stress makes my skin break out (thanks Cystic Acne!) so I’ve been trying to cover it with makeup.

I always feel insecure everywhere I go, because I always just feel out of place. Then I weigh in weekly and see no changes and it stresses me out, which starts the cycle all over again. I often wonder if all women struggle this much with body image, or is it just me?

I keep reminding myself that change doesn’t happen until you do. So, as insecure as I feel, or as uncomfortable as it makes me, I have to make changes so I feel comfortable in my own skin. That means going for my nightly runs to get ready for the 10k even if I don’t feel like it. It means not eating junk food. It means telling myself that I can do the damn thing even when I can’t do the damn thing. It also means pushing myself a little more each day, like signing up for 2/3 of the Mock Regionals at my gym and pushing myself to try to finish the workouts that are far beyond my skill level because it seemed like it’d be fun (because my level of fun is currently “masochist”). Sure I couldn’t lift my arms over my head this morning, but the whole experience really helped me reset and feel less like a fat slob and more like an athlete who may very well be capable of kicking Crossfit ass and finishing a 10k race.

I also need to remind myself that one’s self worth or return on work isn’t determined by a number on a scale. If I keep working, my pants will fit how I want them to. The return is the work. A few months ago, the weights I was using as my working set were my one rep max. The time it took me to run 5k was longer than it is right now. I can lift heavier. I can run faster. All of this is the return on the work. But I’ve been letting my scale tell me how I feel about myself instead of letting my body show me what it could do. Sometimes I forget being healthy is a marathon, not a sprint. If I keep working, I’ll see changes. But if I rely on a scale to tell me that I’m an arbitrary number, I’ll never be happy. I should celebrate how my body is improving, and worry less that a number is shrinking.

I think sometimes we get so caught up in what we think success looks like that we forget that sometimes it’s about what success feels like. So, I’ll take my little victories as they come, and use them to build up my self esteem so when the physical changes are noticeable, I can appreciate them.

This is Why We Can’t Have Nice Things

I try to refrain from talking about my daughters on my blog because I have this thing about parents who blast their kids lives on display. It feels so ooky. Like, photos on social media is one thing; but bloggers posting stories about their kids or videos of coached kids doing “spontaneous funny things” and tagging Ellen feels so gross to me. I choose to be a blogger and share my life publicly; the kids have no say. So, I never post photos and keep stories about them to a minimum.

But, they will be mentioned a bit today, although I’ll keep the deets high level.

Yesterday, I was stressed out. I had worked from open to close on Black Friday & was on hour six of what was supposed to be another 10 hour day. I was tired, terrified that we wouldn’t beat last year’s numbers, and generally cranky. I was kind of stressed because the guy I’ve been getting to know seems almost too nice, too perfect. Too many “I love that too,” and too many compliments, and it makes me feel like it could be too good to be true and after a few weeks I’ll find out he’s a serial killer. I was stressed because I hadn’t been to the gym in a week, and I had planned to try a barre class, but I couldn’t find the time. I was stressed out about finances, because it’s Xmas and I’m a sole support parent. I was stressed because I’m trying to get the girls their gifts, as well as hopefully surprise them with tickets to Taylor Swift and a fun trip to Toronto to go to the zoo and my 10 year old will perhaps finally get her dream of seeing kangaroos that hop and aren’t depressed like the ones in Detroit.

I was stressed and pushing myself too hard, and then I got a phone call that my two oldest daughters had been hit by a car during a hit and run. I ran out of my mall, panicked and thinking the worst, with my only thought being how I could get home faster to get to them. The good news is that everyone is fine, injuries are minor and they’re only shaken up. I insisted that they all sleep in my room last night because I didn’t want them out of my sight. Today was spent with doctors and taking steps to have the case investigated, but also to eat pizza and go to Toys R Us, play Super Mario Run and listen to our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Swift.

The most important thing you can do when things are shitty is make your day as normal as possible, to remind ourselves that nothing is ever as scary as it seems. I don’t want my girls to live in fear of the world around them. I want them to focus on good things, like the neighbour who went out to help them, or my coworkers, who all called to make sure they were okay. Focus on the fact that Aunt Kiki called and checked in every few hours, not that dad dismissed it as no big deal and didn’t call to check in on them, just a quick call at 8pm to fume about my upgrading a phone, never asking if they were okay. Focus on what’s good; the rest sorts itself out.

In the end, the store hitting budget, the guy being too nice, or my bank balance didn’t matter. What did matter was that I could have lost 2/3 of my whole world because some dude in a Honda Civic was speeding in a school zone. What matters is that they’re okay and safe. They get to grow up into women and make me proud every day. What matters is that somewhere there’s a parent who isn’t as fortunate as we were and their story doesn’t have the ending mine does. They would kill for a chance to call out of work to take their teenager to the doctor to check for concussion symptoms, or rearrange their shifts to walk the kids to school because they’re scared to cross at that crosswalk. I’m fortunate af that I get to do those things. Sometimes being a sole support mom means you have to work so much to give them a good life that you miss stuff, like parent teacher night. But what matters is that you put them first, whether it’s working that 16 hour day, or rushing out into the night to protect them. That’s being a parent; not a handful of phone calls or a visit every now and again. Being a parent means supporting your kids emotionally, financially, protecting them and being there for them 24/7. That’s what matters. If you’re not doing those things; you’re not a parent.

I hope no parent ever has to have that kind of shock to the system. Let’s not lose focus on why we work so hard, or do so much. We’re doing it for them. We can’t take even a second for granted because an asshole in a Honda Civic could take it all away. I’m going to try to remember that next time I’m stressed about sales numbers, or my bank balance, or because someone did some stupid shit to piss me off. I’ll remind myself that what really matters is making time to hang with the kiddos, play Super Mario, and be grateful that I have the chance to do so.

For Now

In the never ending story that is my life, we’ll call this chapter “the time everything absolutely fucking sucked.”

I’ll keep the major details to myself, as there are a great many things that I still choose not to share with the internet, but trust me when I say this week absolutely fucking sucks. Because it sucks, I’m seriously contemplating functional alcoholism (despite the fact that I rarely drink), or maybe full Brie Mode (for those of you that don’t watch Total Divas, click here for the definition of Brie Mode).

Despite the fact that I have the most amazing friends back home, sometimes I feel like I can’t talk to anyone, because they all tell me “you’re so strong, you’re Superwoman.” I want to be a superhero, and that bad ass woman they all tell me that I am, but am I? I don’t feel very super. I feel more like “pitifully average human who is drowning under the pressure to be a good mom and a good writer and a good employee and a good Crossfitter and pay bills while still looking pretty and maintaining a social life, despite having one friend that isn’t a coworker.” Being a one woman operation is tough kids.

We live in a FB filtered world; no one wants to admit that their life isn’t perfect and maybe they aren’t the superhero that their inner circle thinks that they are. No one wants to admit that they sometimes think they’re a shitty parent or looks at their bank statement, which is currently negative $36 and wonders how Xmas will be wonderful when cheerleading fees need to be paid and the gas bill is due and one kid needs new glasses and another has a field trip & it all costs money. No one wants to admit that sometimes they just want a night off from trying to be the best and just go out with friends, but since you don’t really have any, it’s hard to go places (sometimes I feel like I’m in the ninth grade again, where I wonder if people actually like me, or if they just want me to help them with the grownup equivalent of helping them with their English homework). No one ever admits that they feel like their very personality is somehow deficient, and you are somehow too weird or annoying for people to actually like, so you feel like you can’t really be yourself around anyone. These are things we just don’t do. Instead, everything is perfect. Everything is fine. Life is awesome.

In my life, everyone is counting on me to be so damned inspirational. Spoiler alert: I’m not inspiring; Beyoncé is inspiring. I’m just me. I’m a mostly unimportant writer and kind of okay assistant cell phone manager who talks too much.

Sometimes I wonder why it’s not socially acceptable to admit you’re not killing it at life right now. That maybe you’re lonely, or stressed out, or you just don’t really feel very good about yourself. Wouldn’t it be so nice to be able to say “I hate literally everything. You ever felt like that?” And someone relate to that? Maybe then we wouldn’t feel like it’s somehow not okay to have moments of self doubt, or sad, or stressed. Instead, we push ourselves to be the superhero we’ve made ourselves out to be and you don’t want to let anyone down. I think it’s harder for women, because we’re taught at an early age that we’re in competition with each other to be the prettiest and the smartest, meeting all of the Game of Life checkpoints while also never getting angry, or feeling less than confident, and God forbid you aren’t a size six! So, we all kind of compete for the best highlight reel and you can’t really live up to the hype.

Sorry guys, I’m not Wonder Woman. I’m just little old me; a plain, boring human who struggles with self esteem and time management, and sometimes is overwhelmed by the enormity of her responsibilities. I’m actually not sorry. If I’m going to be some inspirational ray of fucking sunshine, I need to be an authentic human being. Authentic human beings sometimes hate everything and feel like they suck at everything and look to someone they think has their shit together and goes “man, I wish I had my shit together and was half as awesome as they are.” I look at another manager in my company and wish I was half as cool as she was! She doesn’t care what people think; she just does her thing. She doesn’t second guess every word or thought, hoping she didn’t do something wrong by being herself. She just slays. Who knows? Maybe she gets days where she feels like I do too and looks to someone else to inspire them. Maybe it’s Beyoncé. Who knows?

So, if you ever feel like that, let me be the first to tell you it’s totally okay. Humans are not meant to live by the standards of social media. Humans are messy, complicated beings who sometimes aren’t happy. So, embrace those moments where you feel like the world is crushing you. Allow yourself to feel it, so you can get back up again. It’s okay to feel down; it’s just not okay to stay there, not even for me. In order to be on top, sometimes you’ve got to slide back down a bit. Since I’m feeling down, there is nowhere else to go but up! So, I’ll focus all of my energy on accomplishing all of the things that I’ve set my mind to…

…if not, there’s always functional alcoholism, right?! Brieeeeee Mooooodeeee!

Walking the Wire

I don’t normally use my blog to discuss serious topics, mostly because I’m grossly under qualified to discuss them, and I reserve my writing space for happy stuff, or stories of my doing stupid things. But I’ve read a lot about the Harvey Weinstein sexual harassment scandal and most of it has kind of made me want to barf. Mostly because of the level of victim blaming and the number of women who have said “this has happened to me too.”

Mayim Bialik, self proclaimed feminist and actress went on a rant in the New York Times about how she was blessed because she was smart, so men didn’t harass her. She didn’t get manicures and she didn’t flirt. She dresses modestly, so she’s never harassed at work. That’s all well and good, but harassment isn’t about what you wore; it’s about power. A self proclaimed champion of women shouldn’t be telling over thirty women that if they just dressed more modestly and not flirted, they wouldn’t have been sexually harassed.

Bialik wasn’t exempt because she’s smarter, or dressed better. She’s been exempted because she was lucky. We as women need to stop using the misfortunes of those that make us envious or inadequate to feel good. You will never feel good about yourself when you compete against other women. We’re all doing our own thing, so celebrate who you are, not how you’re better…and stop blaming women for being assaulted.

I think Ms. Bialik’s comments rubbed me the wrong way because it implies that women are somehow responsible for being assaulted, or it only happens to attractive women. Never “smart” women, or modestly dressed women. That puts blame on women. It’s their fault; they should have dressed differently, carried themselves differently. But that’s not fair. The fear that comes with harassment and assault lingers (I was afraid to give my mailing address to a friend yesterday, because an ex boyfriend had once asked a mutual friend for my number after stalking me for over a year. That’s one of the after effects of harassment), why add guilt and shame and the feeling of “you did it to yourself because of X,Y, & Z?”

Sexual harassment and discrimination can happen to anyone. I wear a ring on my left hand. I know it impacts my ability to meet men, because it looks like I’m engaged. But I was once sexually harassed at a workplace by a security guard. He refused no, would force me to hug him, etc. He got jealous when a platonic friend drove me home & asked me how dare I. So I bought the ring. Started wearing it. He apologized; didn’t realize that I belonged to someone. I had to be another man’s property for my declination to be accepted. I wore a uniform. How I dressed, my makeup, my hair had no bearing on his actions. It was about him being powerful and desirable, whether I wanted to participate or not.

That’s not the only time. I witnessed a trainer in my workplace get told by a newbie rep that she was only good at her job because she was hot. I once wrote an entire blog post about how a stranger grabbed my ass at a Tim Horton’s because he assumed that he could. A customer once screamed at me and threw paper in my face until my male manager had to step in. A grown man once pulled my headphone out of my ear to tell me that my sweater didn’t impress him and suggestions on how I could. I wasn’t even looking at him. This is not behaviour that was brought upon me by my dress or looks. It was brought about because women are told to watch what we wear and men aren’t told to behave themselves.

Almost every woman has a story of harassment. Whether it’s a catcall on the street, a male customer saying “not you, a REAL manager,” when they are told the manager is a woman. The guy who calls you sweetie even though you are his superior, or the mansplaining (a man once mansplained my own damn name to me). It wasn’t what we were wearing. It’s not about modesty. We need to stop pretending it’s about modesty or how we carry ourselves and start being open about this stuff happening and support each other, not tearing each other down.

I invite every woman who reads this to share their stories in the comments. Whether you have been subjected to sexual harassment, or you haven’t and want to support women who have, I encourage all of you to speak up. Don’t just say “me too.” Get loud. Get vocal. However, if you’re not ready, me too is good too. But please don’t stay silent. You are not alone. You are not the only woman. It wasn’t how you dressed or if you flirted. It was not your fault. If you have been sexually harassed; I believe you. I support you & you deserved better.

Too Good at Goodbyes

Ain’t life some shit?

A couple of days ago, I went to bed shortly after midnight. I had written a positive little blurb about my attempts to get healthier. I posted it, then lights out, as 8am comes early. Then, I woke up to read about a terrorist attack within my city. Five people were injured, but the suspect, an alleged radical sympathizer of ISIS was detained. He is facing charges and will be brought to justice.

Maybe it was because I slept through it, or because I knew everyone I love was safe. Maybe it was because Commonwealth Stadium still felt removed from me. I didn’t feel like the world felt darker, or scarier. I went to work. The kids went Halloween costume shopping. I had no fear, in fact, quite the opposite. I felt proud that my city’s fine police officers and first responders resolved this in such a way that nobody died. I was thinking “wow. How lucky am I to live in Edmonton, where our police officers know how to quickly rise to action and protect us.” I drafted my fantasy hockey team, and went to bed feeling grateful that the victims were expected to recover, that Constable Mike Chernyk was safely back home with his family and my city chose to rally for peace. Sure, a few bad apples on social media went on some racist tirades, but for the most part, I feel like we were grateful that everyone was going to be okay.

Photo credit: Andrea Ross (CBC)

Then I woke up to read about another terrorist attack in Las Vegas, one that killed 59 people and wounded over 500 others. My heart breaks for all of these families. They went out for a night of fun, and now their families are grieving. Going out to a concert should be fun, not a night of fear and terror. For those of you who read regularly, you know my stance on gun control. I once wrote an entire article about why you can shove your thoughts and prayers up your ass. I won’t beat you over the head with my stance. Instead, I’ll share with you a little chat I had with an old high school friend.

Even though there were two terrorist attacks less than 24 hours apart, no one died in Edmonton. 59 died in Vegas. The idea of 59 families grieving and so many injured souls is gut wrenching. I have friends that are huge fans of Jason Aldean. The idea that they could be injured or killed because they wanted to enjoy a concert is a terror is one that my mind cannot comprehend, but it’s a reality. My friend & I talked about that every time this happens, every American citizen loses a little piece of who they used to be, whether they buried a loved one or not. They don’t get the warm feeling of knowing they are safe; because they aren’t; not at any point in time. You can be shot at a Jason Aldean concert. You can be shot watching a movie. You can be shot in your first grade classroom. You could be walking down the street minding your business and get shot. I recently took my eight year old to a hockey game. Our biggest concerns were that the Canucks might score and that she shouldn’t eat the entire bag of cotton candy before the end of the first period. But my cousin, who lives in Michigan, doesn’t have the same luxury. She has to worry whether or not Detroit will win, whether her young son will eat too much cotton candy, and where the emergency exits are, and her exit strategy in case of a mass shooting. Wikihow has a detailed guide with instructions on how to survive a mass shooting. That’s the new normal, and that’s terrifying.

I am grossly under qualified to discuss tragedies. But I guess if there was anything I could offer, as an Edmontonian who’s city was impacted by terrorism the night before tragedy struck Vegas, is that I’m sorry that you don’t get to feel safe. I’m sorry that you don’t get to go to work feeling safe because police caught the bad guy because, in a few months, there will be another bad guy with a gun. You’ll need support then too & I promise to offer support then. I’m sorry that you’ll never feel safe at a concert or a movie or a football game. I’m sorry that you’ll always be wondering in the back of your mind if today is your turn to be shot by the bad guy. I hope someday laws change and you won’t have to feel that way, but until then, this unimportant Canadian blogger sends love, donations, and will use my space to encourage those in the area to donate blood and help out in any way that they can. I’ve posted some numbers below. If you live in the area, please call.

During dark times, we should focus on the good in the world. Do a good deed. Be kind to each other. But also, never forget to thank the brave EMS teams and medical personnel, who tirelessly work to save us when we are impacted by the worst of us. Change doesn’t come through violence or finger pointing; it comes through patience, understanding, and love.