Monday, December 31, 2007

Goodbye 2007

As this year draws to a close, may you feel gratitude for all that was in 2007--the good, the bad and even the sublimely shitty. It has all paved the way for 2008.

As the clock strikes twelve tonight, know that I join you in spirit wherever you may be. Cheers.

tall penguin

Friday, December 28, 2007

The Secret

Okay, I don’t think I’ve ranted about the book The Secret yet. If I have, well, it’s my blog and I’ll double-rant if I want to. So, The Secret. Oprah ordained this book shortly after the DVD of the same name was released. After that it lurched to the top of the bestseller’s list and, much to my chagrin, has been the most requested book at my workplace ever since. I swear if I hear one more person waxing philosophical about the law of attraction I will throttle them right there in the aisle between Self Help and Psychology. Thank Zeus for my colleague Leeman who regularly stops by my section and reads random passages of The Secret in the voice of Christopher Walken. If not for him, I would’ve torched our stock of 100+ copies long ago.

Now, if you want to believe that we attract every person, situation and experience into our lives as some sort of karmic learning vehicle, well, be my guest. Just be sure to let me know how sexual abuse, rape and genocide fit into that paradigm. I’ve not heard a decent explanation yet. And how does one choose to bring these things to themselves? And how does one quantify that such a process is taking place? How would you really know that it was your almighty intention that drew an experience to you and not the random confluence of events?

Sigh. Maybe I’m just bitter. Maybe I wish the law of attraction really were so. If it were true I would’ve been off this stupid planet a long time ago. But I’m here, writing this blog. So...fuck The Secret. Law of attraction my ass.

tall penguin

Thursday, December 27, 2007

Rewriting the Voices...

For me it has always been a challenge not to let other people into my head space, especially in love relationships. I’ve had the tendency to greatly overestimate the other person and value their opinion more than my own. That’s changing. I’m beginning to go over the messages I’ve adopted from people over the years and question them. And guess what? They’re bullshit.

Enough said.

tall penguin

Tuesday, December 25, 2007

Reflections and Creation...

I sit before this computer, alone on Christmas night. I’ve just enjoyed a beautiful meal of Indian food and baked goodies from dear friends. And I feel a mix of melancholy and hope. Strange to be feeling both at the same time. Sometimes I wonder if there is indeed someone, something out there looking out for me. There is this soft whisper I hear on days like this that tells me to keep going, even though things look bleak, mundane and circular. It is that voice that gives me hope. Perhaps it is the opposite voice to the one I heard all summer that wanted me to end my life. Perhaps it is the same voice. Perhaps I needed to hear that then in order to hear this now. A sort of existential corollary.

My mind wanders over the past year. It seems appropriate as the last few calendar days tick by. It has been a year of great hurt, disappointment, loss, grief, anger and despair. It has been a year of death. Of illusions. Of dreams. Of what once was.

And it has been a year of rebirth. A year of new friends. A year of letting go. A year of finding a strength within myself I didn’t know was there. A year of supporting myself through times difficult and strained. A year of knowing that I’m not truly alone even in the quietest, darkest depths of all that lurks behind my eyes. A year of coming to terms with the past and choosing to move forward in spite of it. A year of choice. A year of sheer will.

Over the next week I will be taking time to sit with the year ahead and create a vision of what I want my life to look like in the coming 365 days. This idea of creation is still so foreign to me. I’m not sure I know how to create a life. Let alone create a life that I want. It involves knowing what I want and believing that I have the ability to create it. No easy feat. And yet, that is where the hope comes in. I have a strange sense of hope about my life. As if it is just beginning in many ways. Being a stranger to a strange land has been scary for me. Now it’s becoming intriguing. I wonder what my future holds. ‘More things than are dreamt of in my philosophy’ I do suppose. I hope so.

tall penguin

Can't Wait for this one...

I just finished seeing the film Sweeney Todd. Well, as much of it as I could bear to watch…excellent movie but incredibly gory. Yick.

Anyhow, the thrill for me was seeing the trailer for the new Michel Gondry film Be Kind Rewind. Gondry is the director of Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind and The Science of Sleep, both incredibly well done films, the former being one of my all-time favorite movies. Be Kind Rewind stars Jack Black and Mos Def. It looks frakkin' hilarious. Be sure to check out the trailer. See you at the movies January 25th!

tall penguin

Didn't get what you wanted?


Ask Santa for what you want this Christmas. See what he pulls out of his bag. I asked for Peter Gabriel, my favorite singer, and Santa said, "I think Mrs. Claus has the hots for him." Too funny.

tall penguin

Merry Christmas to all...

I have explored Christmas from a few different perspectives this year. From the view of my friends for whom Christmas means family and copious amounts of food and drink. From the view of a customer who has no family at all. And from the view of myself as a single woman, having her first Christmas ever on her own. I have learned a few things:

  1. It’s about the moments. Moments of laughter. Moments of surprise. Moments of simple beauty.
  2. The best gift is watching the sincere reaction of delight when someone is truly grateful for what you’ve given them.
  3. Family can be any one at any time.
  4. $20 can go a very long way when necessary.
  5. It’s only one day. Make giving and receiving a daily practice.

So, however you have chosen to spend this day, may peace be upon you and yours. Be well.

tall penguin

Thursday, December 20, 2007

Girl with an Ipod

She sits across from me. The subway train is heading north. I watch as she takes her Ipod from her jeans pocket. She glides her finger across its skin as if caressing a new lover. It is obvious she is searching for a song, something to mark this moment. A smile spreads across her face. Her hand drops back to her side as she returns the Ipod to her pocket. Her eyes close as she tilts her head back.

The train rocks her body back and forth like a mother lulling a child to sleep. Her smile gone now, tears begin to form in the corners of her eyes. She does not brush them away or even open her eyes. She is lost in this moment, painfully sublime as it is. As the train pulls into the station, the jolt drags the tears down her cheeks. Still, she does not flinch.

As the train departs, I catch my reflection in the window next to me. And I see her as well. She is smiling now; smiling in my direction. She knows what I know.

tall penguin

Wednesday, December 19, 2007

Can I really go back?

In discussing life with my never-been-a-jw friends, I see “normal” stages of development. I see teenage years of rebellion, drug experimentation, drunkenness and casual sex. I see relationships and heartbreaks. I see catfights and drama, break-ups and make-ups. I see long nights of hitting the books followed by long nights of drunken splendor. I see the sorting out of jobs and career paths. I see the individuation of a life, a leaving of the nest. And I wonder…

Is it really possible for me to go back and have those experiences? I mean, yes, I can have those experiences, but the age at which I’m having them profoundly alters my experience. I am 33. I am not 15. Sure, I can go out and get drunk and fuck random people. Or can I? Can I really go out and pretend to be the carefree teen? I have the life experience of an 80 year old. It’s difficult to go back to the mind space and naiveté of a teen or twenty-something. There is a purity about the stumbling and bumbling of those younger years. There is a beauty in the exploration. For me, it feels strange somehow. Sometimes a bit contrived.

I go back and read my blogs here on occasion. All the navel-gazing seems a bit sophomoric at times. And I wonder if people really have any clue what it’s like for me, this thirty-something attempting to revisit the stages of life I’ve missed. I must seem self-absorbed. And I am. It’s the one part of being a teenager I’ve been able to revisit with some degree of consistency. This blog has allowed me the vehicle to share my locked diary with the world. Thanks for being here. Even if you don’t get me, it’s okay. I don’t get me either. Perhaps I'm more of a teen after all.

tall penguin

Saturday, December 15, 2007

Drunken Blog...

So I was out partying tonight with some girlfriends. We went to a bar/club and got very drunk and danced the night away. At my peak I had about four guys all vying for my attention on the dance floor. It was hilarious because I was probably the oldest woman there. All the other twenty-somethings were laughing at how much attention I was getting and how much fun I was having. It was great.

I must say, all this attention is going to my head. And damn, I’m loving every minute of it!!!

tall penguin

Thursday, December 13, 2007

The Midnight Craving...

So I just woke up from the strangest dream. I was walking along the boardwalk hand in hand with a mysterious, handsome gentleman. We stopped at a beachside food stand and I ordered a hamburger. I got my order, sat down to enjoy it and the burger was all wet and soggy. I strolled up to the counter to state my displeasure and requested a new burger. And then I woke up.

So, now I'm pissed and hungry as all get-out. So I call up my friend at work (the bookstore is open late tonight) and say, "I MUST have a burger!" He laughs.

**knock, knock**

My burger has arrived! (tall penguin shuffles off to the door)

Oh my. A burger has never tasted so good. Yum. Sigh. Snort. (Insert other random food noises here.)

Well, a good night to all. I'm off to dream of French Fries and vanilla milkshakes.

tall penguin

Wednesday, December 12, 2007

Holiday Haze

I'm sitting in a friend's living room mesmerized by her Christmas tree. And I wonder what my life would look like if my mother hadn't converted to the Jehovah's Witnesses when I was 5. I wonder what all those missed birthdays and Christmases would have been like.

I stare at my reflection in a mirrored ornament. I laugh giddily. I'm 33 going on 4.

For all the connections I feel with these new friends in my life there is something about this season that makes me feel so utterly disconnected. These people who I've come to love so dearly have no idea what it's taken me to reach this place in my life where I can attempt to enjoy Christmas with them. I am a stranger in a strange land and I know it.

tall penguin

Saturday, December 8, 2007

Worshippers Wanted

I'm reading Harold Bloom's, Jesus and Yahweh: The Names Divine. It looks at the characters of Jesus and Yahweh from a historical and allegorical standpoint. I’m only into it three chapters so far, but I’m finding it fascinating reading. And humbling.

Once again I find myself reflecting on my own history and my honest and sincere desire to believe that Jesus and Yahweh were real, divine persons. And now, the more I read, the more I realize how deluded my own thinking was. It’s still difficult for me to accept that I centered my whole life, for 31 years, around characters that have little, or dare I say, no, proof of even having existed, except in the collective consciousness of people who wanted to create something from nothing. I may as well have given up my life for Santa Claus or the tooth fairy or Zeus for that matter.

Whenever I read these books I can’t help but feel duped and incredibly small. It still boggles my mind how much I took for granted about life and the universe. How narrow-minded my view of things was. How much I overlooked about the Biblical characters and justified in my own mind as a testament to my “faith”. Now I look back on Yahweh and Jesus and so many other Biblical personages and see them for what they are. I do not sugar coat their behavior or try to fit it in with what I want to believe. I see them as characters in someone else’s fiction, characters not unlike Shakespeare’s finest. Interesting, but not real.

All logic aside though, I hear Poseidon’s looking for some new followers. I always thought tridents were pretty sexy. Maybe I could make an exception.

tall penguin

Friday, December 7, 2007

Does everyone feel this way sometimes?

Perhaps it is the dark days of winter. Perhaps it is the fact that I'm not sleeping well. Or maybe it's just me being me, but I'm having those old "What the fuck am I doing?" feelings again.

I feel perpetually stunted as a human being. I feel as if I lack the basic skills to live a balanced existence. I struggle to make sense of the world around me and every day I come up short. Nothing seems to make sense. Just when I think I know what’s going on, I see the black cat cross my path again and realize something in the Matrix has just changed. And I’m back to square one.

My psyche feels like a shattered Faberge egg. Jeweled, beautiful, enchanting. Once priceless, but now just bits and pieces of something that will never be whole again. I do my best not to live in the past, but I realize that I’m forever changed by it. Trauma, hurt, illness, grief—they’ve all played their role in chipping away at the girl I once was. And no matter how many beautiful moments I have, like the ones I blogged about yesterday, there is still this ache in the depths of my soul that longs for the end of this life. No matter how peaceful I can feel in the moment, there is still this deep yearning for my last breath. To have that wonderful sense that the struggle is over and that I can finally, finally rest.

tall penguin

Wednesday, December 5, 2007

Discovery Through Another's Eyes

Tonight I got to watch as my good friend, and fellow blogger, Ganga discovered using pastels for the first time. She is a wonderful singer and songwriter, graphic artist and photographer. I have been blessed to awaken to her beautiful voice singing to me through my phone receiver. But tonight was her first time creating with pastels. I watched as she giggled with delight, drawing and blending. I smiled as she'd stop on occasion to look up from her creation and exclaim, "I love pastels!"

I too created but it wasn't about me. It was about watching another soul discover, and enjoying the act of creation anew. It was like watching a child take its first steps. I love moments like this. I live for moments like this. This is what life is about.

tall penguin

Tuesday, December 4, 2007

Monday, December 3, 2007

Why get into a relationship?

A friend and I were discussing relationships. He has never been in a long-term relationship nor does he have a context for wanting one. In his words, “I’ve never seen one that works”. So, his question to me was “Why be in a relationship? What’s the point?”

Now, I thought it was an easy question to answer, but it really isn’t. I listed all the obvious reasons: companionship, someone to witness your life, someone to share the journey with. He remarked that you can get all those things from a close friendship. True, you can.

Then there are the very basic considerations of having a family or sharing financial obligations; a relationship can help lighten the load of one person in life who wants to achieve certain goals. If you’re headed in the same direction, it can be fun to have someone to share the journey along the way.

And then there’s the explanation I inevitably shared. It’s my idealistic view of what a relationship is all about. It’s from Neale Donald Walsch’s Conversations With God Book 1. I’ve blogged about it more here. But in a nutshell, these are his comments, or rather god’s comments, on what a relationship is all about:


"...the purpose of your relationship is to create an opportunity, not an obligation---an opportunity for growth, for full Self expression, for lifting your lives to their highest potential, for healing every false thought or small idea you ever had about you, and for ultimate reunion with God through the communion of your two souls..."

So, I'm opening this up for discussion. Why get into a relationship? What's the point?

tall penguin

Friday, November 30, 2007

Shout out to all my readers...

On the advice of a friend (thanks John) I've added sitemeter to my blog. This allows me to monitor the traffic on my site and see what part of the world people are reading from. I find this incredibly fascinating. I have people reading from all parts of the world. Considering I've not done very much advertising of my blog, this is very cool to me. So, wherever you're from dear reader, thanks for being here.

Edited to add: you can actually check out the sitemeter yourself by checking on the little icon to the right.

tall penguin

Thursday, November 29, 2007

Keepin' It Simple...Stupid

I wrote not too long ago about the possibility of revisiting my fashion career. So I went for an interview tonight and here's the thing. Have you ever had the experience of meeting up with an old flame?

You get all excited remembering the good times you shared together and hope maybe that old spark can be rekindled. Then you meet and within minutes you begin to recall all the reasons why the relationship ended. You remember all the bullshit and the drama and the hurt. And you think, “What the fuck am I doing here?”

Well, as I walked around the store killing time before my interview, my initial love-fest with the idea of returning to fashion began to crumble as the memories of retail rhetoric, bitchy customers and low pay began to creep back into my consciousness. Add to that the forty-five minute commute (one way), and I stood there thinking, “What the fuck am I doing here?”

Of course, I aced the interview. There was really nothing to discuss, as my reputation from six years ago still held. It all came down to money. I stated my salary expectations. It was met with a “I don’t think we’re going to be able to meet that.” I said, “See what you can come up with.” In the end, it would have to be pretty close to the money I asked for if I were going to seriously consider going back.

What felt really good and monumental about this experience was realizing my value and worth, and not being willing to settle for less than I deserve. And to realize that it wasn’t just about the money, it was about time. It was about how much time out of my day would I spend commuting and how much time would I actually be at work. And how much energy would this traveling require. My energy is precious to me. As is my time. I realize now that these things would have to be compensated monetarily and even then, sometimes it’s just not worth the hassle.

I like my simple life. I don’t mind not making very much money. It’s a trade off really. I choose to work close to home which frees up more time and energy for other things I enjoy, like living. I choose to work in retail for now because of the fun atmosphere and low stress. Again, it allows me energy and time for other things more important to me. Perhaps there will come a day where I’m willing to expend more time and energy to make more money. Or maybe I’ll make more money expending the same amount of time and energy. Regardless, I want to keep my life simple. It’s working for me.

tall penguin

Tuesday, November 27, 2007

Be careful what you wish for...

I wrote here recently about love and addiction. I've been thinking more and more about this lately. A friend told me of an article (which I can't seem to locate) written by an addiction specialist. He was talking about alcoholism and how the same kind of addiction patterns shown in relation to alcohol also manifest in their relationships. He said when these addictive types meet someone who they're just nuts about it's the disease talking. They are attracted to the comfort of the chaos the beloved represents, to the disappointment they'll bring. Although it's unhealthy, it's familiar. It's a similar pattern to people who end up in abusive relationships over and over again. It's not love. It's addiction.

Now when I become instantly attracted to someone, I pause and think that maybe it's just old patterns of painful familiarity coming to the surface and prompting this "love" response. Feeling "nuts" about anyone is just that...a few steps away from insanity. It's only a matter of time before it becomes obvious that the person I have fallen for is just a repeat of some unhealthy character from my past.

We think we're so in control. We think we're directing our own lives. But are we? Seems sometimes that we're all continually acting out the patterns of the past. I'm beginning to wonder whether I even have a file set up in my brain for the kind of person I say I want. I better be careful what I wish for. I may get it and not know what the fuck to do with it.

tall penguin

Saturday, November 24, 2007

Post-flu Gratitude...

You ever notice that after a cold or flu your body seems renewed somehow? Like it's weathered another assault and has come out stronger? I think we try so hard to evade these basic bugs because they interfere with our lifestyle, but what if we viewed them as friends, as catalysts for stronger immunity.

We must really remember that we're animals. We're subject to our environment. Regardless of our lofty schedules and ideals, we are organic beings subject to bacteria and viruses and all things great and small. Somehow I think we get it in our minds that we should be absolved of the inconvenience of these maladies. But what if we learned to see them as just part of the process of being a human animal on this planet? What if we stopped seeing our bodies as the enemy that must be overcome and whipped into perpetual performance? What if we started living in harmony with the seasons and the changes they bring with them? What would happen then?

Why do we battle cancer? Why are we at war with AIDS? Why do we use such violent language to describe these processes? I have spent a good part of the past 20 years fighting with my own body. Through chronic illnesses of many sorts, I began to see my body as the enemy. But it's just a body, doing its body thing. It's a part of the cosmos. Like every other living thing it experiences change, illness, decay, malady. Why did I expect my body to be any different? Do we get upset with a tree for shedding its leaves? Do we get angry with a flower when it begins to wither?

Sentience can be a dangerous thing sometimes. Our ability to reflect on what it means to be human sometimes lacks the remembrance of our humble beginnings. Perhaps we will one day evolve immune systems that can repel the common cold and flu, but for now, they are part of the package of being the human animal. Let's keep it in perspective.

tall penguin

Surreality...

Sometimes my life has a rather surreal quality to it. Like it's not really my life at all. I look at myself and where I was even two months ago, not to mention two years ago, and I smile. I am amazed at how far I've come. I'm amazed at the woman who greets me in the morning each day. I see her eyes--a vibrancy there that I recall seeing in her teens. Some days I feel as if I'm reinventing myself; other days, I feel as if I've just come home.

I lie in my bed this cool Saturday morning. The winter is beginning to whip itself up into a frenzy. I listen to music that reminds me of where I've been. I see an interwoven tapestry of events and people that have lead me to this moment. And I can't help but laugh at my silly little life. It is the laugh of a girl who discovers she was there all along. Who knows that in spite of all the hurt, despair and loss, there is joy and love and complete ecstasy. And the knowledge that all is indeed well.

tall penguin

Friday, November 23, 2007

I've Arrived...

It's been over two years now since I left the jehovah's witnesses. During that time I have been part of an online forum, the largest of its kind, for ex-jws. It has been incredibly useful for my healing process. I still visit this forum but for different reasons now. I go back for the newbies, for the ones just leaving the group. I go back to welcome them and give them moral support. I feel it my duty to show them the love that was shown to me when I was a newb.

As I peruse the forum now, the topics no longer hold the same charge they once did. I can read about the latest pedophile scandal in the ranks of the jw world and not feel triggered up. I can read about interrogation processes and not enter a panic attack. I can read personal accounts of family losses and irrational jw behavior and not get stuck in a downward spiral of self-pity and grief. It all seems so irrelevant to me now. It's such a small group in a large world. They think they're important, but they're not. Nothing really is.

The forum creator is oft apt to remark that the goal of all ex-jws is to become ex-ex-jws. I didn't get it when I first arrived. Now I do. I'm no longer just an ex-jw. I'm a human being. For one of the first times in my life, I feel like I'm part of this world. Like it's mine just like anyone else's. And it feels good. Normal even. Hmm....normal. Never thought I'd ever feel "normal".

tall penguin

Thursday, November 22, 2007

Flu

It feels like someone has been using my belly as a trampoline. The gastrointestinal natives are restless. And my tongue tastes like it's been swimming in a vat of gasoline. Ugh. Not the way I wanted to spend this beautiful snowy day.

tall penguin

Wednesday, November 21, 2007

A body in motion...

I've been off for the last two days with the flu. It's the only two days I've had off in a row in almost two months. What's funny to me is how once you start resting it becomes easier and easier to stay inactive. How the body begins to unwind and gets used to being idle.

While I'm enjoying the down time, I find it a bit unsettling. I still have underlying fears of not being able to get going again. That somehow a break will screw up the momentum I've created over the summer and I won't be able to get back on track. Is that rational?

It seems hard to find the balance between rest and work and play. As it's difficult to find the balance in most things in life. I wonder about balance. I wonder how to maintain balance in a world of constant change. How to create a sense of internal homeostasis that supports you no matter what is going on externally. I think we all crave balance in life. And yet, it's so elusive isn't it?

tall penguin

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Bagpipes...

Out at the mall today, they had some bagpipe players. As soon as I heard their music, a shudder ran through me from head to toe. I was filled with delight. Bagpipes make me very emotional. I think it comes from my childhood. My grade school principal Mr. Fleming, a true Scotsman, would play bagpipes at all of our school events. In addition, he would subject us to Haggis on Robbie Burns day and was known to smoke a pipe in his office (back when smoking in the workplace was still allowed). He was one very cool cat.

As the bagpipes played, my body remembered the freedom of being a child. Those days in grade school are some of my fondest childhood memories. What struck me though was how similarly I feel at this point in my life. I find my childlike love for life has returned somehow. I find my delight in the simple things has reawakened. And I find myself able to once again live in the present moment. Life is good.

tall penguin

Revisiting career paths...

Once every 2 or 3 years, my brother decides to update his wardrobe. He asks me to be his fashion consultant as he is fashion-challenged as well as colour-blind. So today, I took him to my old store, The Bay Fairview, where I worked in Designer fashions some years ago. And I outfitted him in the latest duds.

I felt a rush of excitement as I wandered through the racks, touching the fabrics, taking in the colours. I realized how much I miss working in fashion. How much I miss putting out new merchandise. How much I miss helping people hunt for new wardrobes. The store also has a new look and feel. For a few years, they'd begun looking like Zellers, complete with polyester uniforms. Yick. Now, they're back to their designer Macy's-like look and feel. It almost feels like somewhere I'd be proud to work again.

Some of my old cohorts are still there and would be more than happy to see me back. I'm sure I'd have no problem getting rehired. I'd even be willing to entertain a management position at some point. It's funny because when I left The Bay I swore I'd never go back but things are different now. I'm different. At that point in my life I'd gotten caught up in what I thought I should be doing. I thought that staying in retail was somehow beneath me. But now that I realize that my life is mine and that there's nothing I'm supposed to be doing, I feel free to do whatever the fuck I want.

Letting go of the god idea and all the shackles that go with the "higher purpose" mentality has freed me in so many ways. Who knew it would affect my career path as well?! I'm continually surprised by life. I'm amazed how different life feels right now. How much more open and expansive it feels. And how much I'm enjoying it. And all this without pharmaceutical intervention. Who would've thunk?!

tall penguin

Does my body remember?

16 years ago this month I experienced a series of losses. My grandfather died. Both of my pets died. And my brother was away at University and in need of emergency surgery. On top of that, I was sick with a really bad chest infection. Which brings me to today.

I've been sick for the past week. And as I recall, I usually become quite ill at this time of year. Is it just because it's fall and transition time? Is it because I've been enjoying a lot of late nights? Or is it also possible that my body remembers the hits it took so long ago? I become very aware of my grief around this time of year. It takes me a moment to clue in to the anniversary of these losses and then it makes sense.

I really wonder if experiences get locked up in the body. If the body actually remembers events on some unseen schedule. There is so little we know. So many questions.

tall penguin

Thursday, November 15, 2007

I met Jamie Oliver!


I work in a large bookstore in Toronto. Tonight, Jamie Oliver, famed chef, came to our store for an interview and book signing. Well, I got to work the "green room" before the event and got to hang out with him while he signed some books before going on-stage. Very nice guy. Down to earth. Pretty much as you see him on his shows.

I've always been impressed with Jamie's charity work. His work in UK schools to bring healthier meals to students is inspiring. And his charity Fifteen helps disadvantaged youth get into the food business.

I'm a big foodie. I LOVE the Food Network. I've been without a TV for the past 6 months and I miss the food shows the most. (Santa, if you're listening, I want a TV for Christmas.) So, what a thrill to meet Jamie in person. YIPPPEEE!!! God, I'm such a girl.

tall penguin

Sunday, November 11, 2007

Business Idea...

Almost two years ago, I had a creative flash for a business idea. That night I went online and bought the domain name for my new venture, purchasing a ten year term for it, knowing somewhere in my soul that this idea would one day come to fruition. It has sat brewing in my subconscious since then. Brewing indeed. Stewing even, with fears and doubts and voices saying, You can't do this, You'll fail, You'll succeed (yes, I have just as much a fear of success as I do of failure). And so, it's sat idle waiting for me to sort through the mess that holds me back from giving it a shot.

I woke up this morning feeling a pull to this business idea. Perhaps it was the drunken chat I had with a friend last night who encouraged me to at least try it out and see what happens. Perhaps it's the fact that I'm still a little hung over and the fear voices are still at bay. Or maybe I'm just coming to realize the truth of these words by Marianne Williamson:

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

Your playing small does not serve the world. From grade school through high school, I was an A+ student. I didn't play small. I just did my thing. I did my best and I got noticed for it. But somewhere through my teens I began to recoil. I began to feel this inner pressure mounting in my soul, a voice that said success came with a high price--burnout. I sincerely believe I had a "mid-life crisis" at the age of 17. Ever since then I have held myself back from shining, in fear of not being able to manage the energy that is required to shine in this life. Afraid to crash and burn. Afraid that even if I achieve everything I set out to do, that there will still be some voice in the back of my head telling me it's not enough. But who am I not to try? Who am I to hold back from the world something that could be of great benefit to it? Who am I to play small?

I don't know how long it will take to manifest my business idea or even what form the final product will take. But I know that I must do something with it. I firmly believe my holding it back is causing me more damage than putting it out there. Sometimes stifled creativity can be just as exhausting as making it happen. I must find the balance. I'm sure it exists.

tall penguin

Letting Go & Letting In...

As a jw I was taught that "worldly people", as non-jw's were called, were not to be trusted. I was taught that they were just waiting to take advantage of god-fearing people and break our faith. This us-versus-them mentality created great cognitive dissonance for me, because as far as I could tell, the "worldly people" I'd come into contact with treated me consistently better than the jw's I knew. But alas, I kept up my guard, lest I be ensnared by these "worldlings."

This lack of trust and need for control was very obvious when it came to the use of alcohol. Jw's are notorious for drinking too much. It is the only approved "drug" and so becomes abused more often than not. I never got drunk though as a jw. The honest truth was that I wasn't willing to relinquish that control. I didn't trust the people I was with to care for me when I was inebriated. While I didn't trust the "worldly people", it was clear that I trusted the jw's even less.

Last night, I got very drunk. Very drunk. Not throwing up sick drunk but drunk enough to realize that my defenses were down and I was in the hands of my friends. It went surprisingly well. No one tried to take advantage of me. There was no one trying to feel me up or coerce me into sex or get me to do lines off the bathroom floor. I was amidst people who cared about me and my safety. They walked me home and made sure I was safe and sound.

Now I realize that I've been fortunate to find really great friends post-jw. But I firmly believe that most people are like the "worldly" friends I have; honourable, respectful, caring people who sincerely want to be there for you. A far cry from my jw past.

Every time I break down one of these belief systems from my past I feel a lightness come over me. I feel freer, more clear, more safe to be in this big world. I am grateful for these lessons. I am grateful for the people in my life who teach me each day without even knowing how profoundly they're affecting my journey. I thank each one of you blessed souls. Namaste.

tall penguin

Saturday, November 10, 2007

When did it happen?

Somewhere in the last few months I became a woman. I'm not sure if I already was and I just came to see it, perhaps through the eyes of the new male in my life; or whether it's an entirely new development. I'm not even sure what it means to be a woman, as opposed to a girl. I just know that I feel different. I feel more adult. I feel more autonomous, more self-directing.

When I signed my rent cheque at the beginning of this month, a smile spread across my face. I realized that I'd earned every last penny myself. I'd worked through fatigue, pain and sleepless nights to pay my bills. I'd found a way to get through. And I made it. I'd proved to myself that I could take care of myself.

And then there's the new relationships I've been exploring. I have been able to enjoy someone's company, intimately even, and then let them go, without requiring commitments or promises or declarations of affection. To let go has been a profound learning for me. To face all the needy bits in myself that want to hold on for dear life; all the hurt, broken parts of me that crave closeness for its own sake. To look at the patterns of addiction that have ruled my life and see that there is a better way to live. That love is letting go. That love is what's here right now in this moment. That what is truly real is present between breaths. No more, no less.

So yes, I've become a woman. I have arrived. And it feels good.

tall penguin

Wednesday, November 7, 2007

Autumn Awakening

You sleep
Lying across my bed
Stretched arms
Slightly furrowed brow
What dreams are floating through you?
What visions prevail?

I smile.

I will rouse you with my touch
Gingerly waken you with soft whispers
Your body will rise ever so slightly.

You will smile.

The wind will blow leaves
Into piles of gold and green
Laying to rest the summer
Awakening the winter once more.

The gods will smile.

tall penguin

Moments...

There are moments where I sit back and smile. Life can be utterly crazy and yet so utterly lovely. I sit staring out the window at autumn leaves. The wind is rustling them around on the ground like puppets on a string. I am weary from a night of love and exploration, but it doesn't matter. I am here in this moment to breathe in another day.

I laugh out loud sometimes at how seriously we take this life, at how important we think it all is. It's not. It's just a series of moments built upon one another, creating the illusion of permanence, but really these moments come and go as quickly as you breathe in and out. You cannot hold them. You cannot make them stay. You can only be with them, observe them, be present with them.

Be. Here. Now. It's the best any of us can do.

tall penguin

Sunday, November 4, 2007

Is it love or addiction?

What we call love feels an awful lot like a drug craving. You desire someone. You can't get them off your mind. You lose your focus. You want to spend every waking moment in their company. You think you'll die without them. It's not love. It's addiction. It's a chemical response that makes us think we need another person. It's evolutionary. It's the primitive parts of our brain saying we need to procreate to survive. It's oxytocin and endorphins and pheremones and dopamine. And we call it love.

What the fuck are we thinking? It's not love. It's addiction. It's a response that has nothing to do with love, which to me is a spiritual meeting of souls. Is it possible that what starts out as addiction can evolve into something more real, something more authentic, love in its truest form? Or is addiction destined to always be addiction and eventually crash and burn?

Fuck, I feel like I'm 8 years old with my first crush. It's the worst possible feeling. I feel like I'm flying but I know it's just the chemical rush I'm feeling. What happens when I come back down to earth? What happens when the chemical attraction wears off? Is there anything left to build on? Does it matter? Is it okay to just ride the rush and enjoy that for what it is?

I hate this feeling. Rather than feeling uplifting it makes me want to throw myself in front of a train. I hate feeling this out of control. I hate not knowing what I'm doing. I hate not knowing where I'm going. For all my talk about having no expectations and living one day at a time, I can't help but expect more from myself.

I still feel this pressing need to expect myself to have my life figured out. I think I should be more grounded and settled than what I am. I think I should have a career direction and a 10 year plan. But I don't. And I have no desire to get one. Does that make me a mutant? I feel like a mutant. I still feel like I'm not made for this world. And this love/addiction stuff just makes me so acutely aware of how little I know. How many questions there are and how few answers there seem to be. And yet, I look around me and it seems that no one else has it figured out either. We're all just swinging from one addiction to another. What the fuck are any of us doing here anyways?

Sigh. Speaking of addictions, I'm off to pay homage to the Reese's Peanut Butter Cup god. He's the only god I serve these days. And the Lay's god. Oh, and occasionally the KitKat god. They're the only gods that hear my prayers. But alas, in true god fashion, they have yet to answer them.



tall penguin

Saturday, November 3, 2007

Underlying angst...

You know that niggly feeling that sits in your belly that you can't quite pinpoint as to the cause but you know that there's something unsettling about your universe that just refuses to go away? Perhaps it's intuition telling you something you need to do, say or contemplate. Perhaps it's a change that needs to be made, a fork in the road that needs to be addressed or a decision that requires your immediate attention. Or maybe it's just gas.

tall penguin

I am the Walrus...


Went to see Across the Universe last night. Wow, great film. To me it comes off really well as a big stage production for the small screen. The choreography and singing is incredible. It's all a bit trippy but with a Beatles soundtrack what else would you expect? A must see.

To hold the past...

It is a very lonely realization to look back on the past and realize that there is no one here now who has been with you through it all. While I know that I am not defined by my past, there are moments where I long to look into the eyes of someone who knows where I've been, who knows what I've been through and can hold that space for me. Who sees what I've become and knows that it's truly a miracle that I'm here at all. It is hard trying to be that for myself. To be the space holder and the experiencer; the watched and the watcher; the mother, father, sinner and saint. It's all too much sometimes.

God, I really need some sleep.

tall penguin

News at Eleven

Heat rising
Lust aflame
Reminds me of the day you left.

His kiss
Your kiss
His lips
Your lips
Different lips
Different kiss
Same girl
Different day.

Wondering where I begin
Wondering if you will ever end
Knowing nothing for sure
Knowing everything is pure.

You sit in the back of my mind
On a torn leather couch
Smiling your haunted smile
Laughing your haunted laugh
Pointing the finger once more
When will I ever learn?

Alone with my film
My double feature
A thriller, a comedy, a romantic horror
Girl gets heart ripped open
News at eleven.

Fuck the tambourines
Fuck the serenade
Fuck your candy-coated apologies
And your heart-shaped epiphanies
You were never real
Never really real
Really never real.

Nor was I.

tall penguin

Life imitating art imitating Dante's inferno...

We laughed
We fucked
We spooned
We did it again
And then we woke up.

Glad we never called it love
That would have really been disappointing.

tall penguin

Thursday, November 1, 2007

Let's Talk About Sex...

I've only ever experienced sex in the context of a committed relationship. I've never done the casual sex thing. I was a goodie little jw who prided herself on her moral purity. Oh how far I've come (no pun intended). Casual sex has been really interesting for me to explore. It's blown open many of my root fears of abandonment but has also opened up my ability to show unconditional love.

There's something quite pure about being able to share intimacy with someone without any expectation of commitment or promises of relationship or of future plans. I'd always thought I couldn't connect with someone unless it was clear where the relationship was headed, unless I knew I wasn't in danger of losing my beloved. But it's different now. I can't lose, because nothing is mine. I don't possess anyone. I share moments. I share experiences. I share life and love and breath. It is mine to give and receive. And remarkably, it is enough.

tall penguin

Halloween

Having been a good little jw, I missed out on Halloween from the age of 5 on. Well, this year I decided to go all out. I partied down in the "gay village" of Toronto with a bunch of friends and pulled out all the stops on my costume. It was probably the least amount of clothing I've ever worn in public. It was a bit of a screw you to my past, in all its parts.

My costume was a hit with the crowd. I kept getting stopped to have my picture taken, usually by short Asians with cameras. Not sure if it was because I was tall, because I was uber-sexy in my naughty catgirl ensemble or a combination of the two. Regardless, I enjoyed my fifteen minutes of fame.

Here I am with my beau. I did his makeup.:
And here I am with my friend Brian, whose makeup I also did:
It was an incredibly fun evening. It required me to throw away many of my longstanding notions about "proper" dress, grooming and conduct. I blew apart many beliefs I was holding about myself. Amazing how one evening could do that. But it did.

tall penguin

Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yup, that's me...

PHENOMENAL WOMAN
by Maya Angelou

Pretty women wonder where my secret lies
I'm not cute or built to suit a model's fashion size
But when I start to tell them
They think I'm telling lies.
I say
It's in the reach of my arms
The span of my hips
The stride of my steps
The curl of my lips.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

I walk into a room
Just as cool as you please
And to a man
The fellows stand or
Fall down on their knees
Then they swarm around me
A hive of honey bees.
I say
It's the fire in my eyes
And the flash of my teeth
The swing of my waist
And the joy in my feet.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Men themselves have wondered
What they see in me
They try so much
But they can't touch
My inner mystery.
When I try to show them
They say they still can't see.
I say
It's in the arch of my back
The sun of my smile
The ride of my breasts
The grace of my style.
I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

Now you understand
Just why my head's not bowed
I don't shout or jump about
Or have to talk real loud
When you see me passing
It ought to make you proud.
I say
It's in the click of my heels
The bend of my hair
The palm of my hand
The need for my care.
'Cause I'm a woman
Phenomenally
Phenomenal woman
That's me.

This Is Just to Say

I have eaten
the plums
that were in
the icebox

and which
you were probably
saving
for breakfast

Forgive me
they were delicious
so sweet
and so cold

--William Carlos Williams

Monday, October 29, 2007

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Girl, you'll be a woman soon

Dating is getting interesting. I'm really honing in on who I want to share my time and space with. My heart took a bit of a tumble this weekend but I survived. I'm learning.

A dear male friend of mine told me that I haven't quite come to realize my "hotness level" yet. It's true, I haven't. My date this weekend was taken aback when he came to pick me up. I asked him what he was thinking. He replied, "I just realized you're a woman, not a girl. And I don't know what I've gotten myself into." Indeed he didn't. But he's 26. And now safely returned to the "friend pile". It was fun while it lasted. Back to the drawing board.

tall penguin

Wednesday, October 24, 2007

Craving Eternal Sunshine...

If you've seen the film Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind perhaps you understand the idea of wanting to pack up the past in a box and have someone wipe every memory clear out of your head. I still have these moments. I still find it difficult to believe the "If it doesn't kill you, it makes you stronger" rhetoric. Maybe our experiences eventually heap up to the point of killing us. Maybe that's what cancer and heart disease are--a mountain of memories that we think were making us stronger, but were really eating away at our souls. Who's to know really?

I think sometimes that the human race is full of crap. We spout off all kinds of stuff to make ourselves feel better, but I'm finding it harder and harder to believe any of it. It seems that I can blow sunshine up my own ass for about 3 weeks and then I end up back here, questioning life and everything in it. Perhaps it's time to come to accept this about myself, rather than fighting to change it. Maybe it just is what it is. Maybe this is just part of the form I've taken this trip around the sun. Maybe I should just make peace with my existential angst once and for all, and stop giving a damn what people think of me, or even what I think of me. Hmm...

tall penguin

The Carrot...

Came across this interesting article on happiness from Forbes. It talks about the genetic predisposition to being happy. Happiness has become a word with little real meaning, much like love and god. The idea of happiness is so arbitrary and subjective that one must define its use before any rational conclusions or comparisons can be made. Having said that, the article is interesting in that it proposes that our tendency toward happiness is more likely to be influenced by genetic rather than environmental factors.

What I found particularly intriguing was this little bit of research, referring to the dopamine response:

"For chimpanzees, this kind of brain chemistry can lead to strange behavior. In an essay, Stanford biologist Robert Sapolsky described a chimp that chased a prospective mate far beyond what would be reasonable, because the mate dropped occasional signals that she might be willing--maybe, someday. Sapolsky referred to this as the "pleasure and pain of maybe." The chimp was willing to go to great lengths for a hypothetical reward. "

Ahh..the hypothetical reward, the "pleasure and pain of maybe." I know this all too well. Everlasting life, as promised by the jw dogma, was the proverbial carrot, the carrot that I, and many others, put their life's energy into. I believe it becomes an almost addictive response. The activation of dopamine in the brain causes jw's (and you can add in just about any other fundamental believer into this group) to constantly strive after something they have no rational basis for thinking they will ever achieve. Perhaps that is why it is so difficult to leave. There is a chemical withdrawal that happens when you no longer have a carrot to pursue. What then?

I've said it before and I'll say it again, the brain is a vast and complicated place. We are only on the brink of understanding what makes us tick.

tall penguin

Tuesday, October 23, 2007

Bug Partiality

I wake up today to a bug crawling on my ceiling. I immediately leap out of bed, grab a shoe, jump back on my bed and proceed to check out the offender. From far away, it looks like your typical bug but as I get closer I see the familiar red body and black spots. Awww, it's a cute little ladybug. I climb down from my bed, return the shoe to its place and let the bug live.

Why? Why do we have this judgment that ladybugs are cute and harmless while other bugs are ugly and creepy and therefore must die? Are we conditioned to think this way? It seems kind of silly and arbitrary really. And yet it was an automatic reaction for me: ugly bug must die, cute bug gets to live. How many other arbitrary reactions do we carry around each day?

tall penguin

Saturday, October 20, 2007

The Past...

I had an appointment this morning in the neighbourhood where I used to practice. It felt strange to revisit, but not the same sort of melancholy strange as I've experienced at other times. It was a moment of realizing that the past and the experiences in it are no longer relevant to me. That there is a certain absurdity to life. That all the things we get ourselves worked up about become put into perspective with the passing of time.

I don't know why I have been prone to getting stuck in the past. Perhaps it is my jw upbringing or genetics or whatever. But I feel more able to let go of things now. More able to see things as a story playing outside of myself. And not needing to attach myself to the drama and derive my sense of identity from it. Maybe I'm finally growing up. Or maybe I'm growing out. Or maybe I'm just coming home to who I really am.

tall penguin

Belief Testing...

Over the past month I've been testing more beliefs around my energy and stamina levels. For someone with a history of chronic pain and fatigue, this is no easy feat. There are so many beliefs I've held around what I can and cannot do. I have been testing my ability to get up early and move through my day without naps. Seems simple enough, but it hasn't been the case for me for a large part of my life so I really wasn't sure what I could reasonably expect my body to do.

I've been getting up at a regular time in the mornings, usually by 8 am and am out the door within half an hour. I'm working about 40-50 hours between my 3 jobs (including my own business which I'm revisiting). I'm enjoying an active social life. I have my own apartment. I'm paying all my own bills. And I'm functioning. Quite well I might add. I continue to be surprised by what I'm capable of doing. I imagine there will be more surprises in the days to come as I test more of what I've held to be true for so long.

I like surprising myself. I like being my own cheering section. I like testing my own boundaries. (Shhh...don't tell anyone but I even think I might like myself. Weird.)

tall penguin

The turning point...

I hit a turning point around the time I took my blog offline about a month ago. I'd woken up once more in the black hole of existential despair. My brother took me for breakfast and gave me his usual brotherly pep talk. I sat there listening to his ra-ra rally and realized I'd heard these things a million times before from a million different people. "Believe in yourself." "Think positive." "This too shall pass." It all seemed to blur into one long string of guttural noises ala the teacher's voice in the Peanuts comics: "Wah wah wah wah, wah wah wah wah."

I left breakfast with my brother, half-depressed, half-enraged. I thought to myself, "How the fuck did I get here?" This was not at all where I expected to be at the age of 33. No where even close.

On my brother's suggestion I went for a walk. I didn't get very far. The subway beckoned me. I sat outside the station contemplating how I'd arrived at that particular spot, how I arrived at this moment in my life where I was seriously considering jumping in front of an oncoming train. And suddenly, everything seemed so absurd. I laughed out loud. This life I'd been taking so very seriously was complete bollocks.

I realized that I'd been spinning in my head for so many years that most of the stuff I'd come to believe about myself and the world around me were just that, thoughts. And that I was the only one who could do anything about that. No amount of therapy, drugs, pep talks from loved ones or any other intervention was going to make a bit of difference unless I was interested in living, not just thinking about living, but actually living.

So, I sat there outside the subway station and asked myself, "Are you really going to kill yourself today?" I waited for the reply because really I wasn't even sure what it would be. It was a "No". Clear and definitive. So the next logical conclusion was, "If you're not going to kill yourself than you have to find a way to live." And that was it. I left the subway station and walked home.

I have had to have this conversation with myself a few more times in the past month, but for the most part, I assume that if I wake up and I'm still breathing, that I'm going to live another day and do the best I can with it. I never knew how empowering it could be to take one day, one moment, one breath at a time. It's the greatest gift I've given myself. One that I alone could give.

tall penguin

Dating...

I've entered the wonderful and exciting and incredibly vast and scary world of dating, both real-world and online. What an interesting foray into the human condition. I have learned so much more about life just from dating in the past month than in years of therapy! There is definitely something to be said for experience-based, or is it hands-on (no pun intended), learning.

One thing I was surprised to find out about myself is that at this moment in time I'm more afraid of hurting someone else than being hurt myself. That surprises me. I really thought I'd feel more fragile during this process, but really I'm just concerned that my actions may hurt another. With that awareness I'm doing my best to be fully present with people and be as honest as I can, even if that means simply saying, "I don't know what I'll feel tomorrow but this is what I feel right now." It seems to be enough. Who would've guessed?

tall penguin

Thursday, October 18, 2007

What a difference a month makes...

I'm back. It's been an interesting month. Lots of epiphanous moments. I found my wings and as you can see from my new pic, I got my hair cut! It's a new, fabulous me. And yet, not really new. It's like I'm coming home to myself. More to come...

tall penguin

Sunday, October 7, 2007

Thanksgiving Day...

Here in Canada, we're celebrating Thanksgiving. And I am truly grateful this day. As I look back on my life, distant and recent, I am grateful to all the people who've crossed my path, even those who've hurt me. Each of them forced me deeper into myself, deeper into the beliefs I held about myself and the world around me, deeper into the true essence of who I am. And it is from this depth that I'm arose many times, renewed, the phoenix from the ashes.

I have been blessed with many wonderful people of late. I have found friends in the most unlikely of places. I have found kindred spirits in my customers and co-workers. People who were once strangers have become my most ardent supporters. And my dear brother who continues to be there every step of the way on my life's journey. And there are my blog readers. Some I know. Some I don't. You have supported me through your comments and emails. When my book comes out one day, it will be your support that I recall.

To all of you, near and far, I send love and hugs on this day.

tall penguin

Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Offline but still writing...

I've decided to take my blog off line for awhile, but will continue to write about my process as I find it useful for me. I just realized that I was getting tired of hearing my own whining and spinning around the same subjects. So, until I am "back" I'm not sharing my process.

I also didn't feel like being so exposed while I go soul searching. When I am entering new learning I don't like an audience. I like to put things together and share what I've learned once I've learned it. And right now, I know the only person who can get me out of this funk I'm in is me. There are choices to be made. Crap to work through. Beliefs to confront. So while I'm off doing that I'll be writing but not sharing.

I hope to emerge the butterfly from the cocoon--complete with new shiny wings. And maybe even a new hairdo. :)

See you all soon. Feel free to email me in the meantime. You can do that through my profile. Warm wishes (sans advice) are always welcome.

With love & even a little bit of hope,
tall penguin

Sunday, September 23, 2007

Patterns...

As I look back on my life, I see patterns. Patterns of behavior, patterns of relationships, patterns of outcomes. No matter how "self-aware" I become, how much I change my world-view or how much I change my thoughts, I still end up in the same place. I am not convinced that my not being a jw has improved the quality of my life. I am not convinced that being a jw was any better either. I am not convinced of anything.

Nothing makes much sense anymore. Nothing seems real to me. I feel like I am hovering over my body watching it all, but somehow still caught in the patterns that play in my head. It all seems like bullshit and yet I can't seem to change it. The movie still plays out as it always has. No matter what I change, no matter what I do, no matter who is in my life, I still end up here--lost, immobilized, sick and confused.

I see everyone walking around all day, going to work, maintaining their existence and I don't see the point. I don't see why anyone does anything. I just see futility and waste and illusions and hopelessness. We are the same humans we've always been. We keep repeating the same mistakes over and over again, individually and collectively.

I hope we can evolve beyond the brains we have now. I see our current brain as seriously lacking. Or is it that we haven't evolved the tools to use it yet? Evolution is so very slow and disappointing. No wonder I really wanted to believe there was a god.

tall penguin

Friday, September 21, 2007

What I want...

A friend asked me today what I want, what's my heart's desire in life. I got angry and frustrated in thinking about her question. It's the same question the ex asked me all winter. Like a rat on a wheel, he would not stop badgering me. "What do you want to do with your life?" So fuck all of you. Here's my list. Read it or don't. I really don't care.

I want all advice to stop. I want people to stop telling me what they think. I want to know what to do and not be afraid to do it. I want to be able to try things and not be afraid of failing. I want to be able to make mistakes and not have my whole world come crashing down because of them. I want to be able to not know what to do and be okay with that.

I want to have a family. I want to love someone who loves me in return, someone devoted to staying with me, watching me grow, giving me the space to discover myself each day anew. I want someone to co-parent with, someone who believes in the value of parenting. Someone who cherishes me for my nurturing skills. Someone who sees my open heart not as a toy to be played with, or as a sign of weakness, but as a beautiful open flower, a heart willing to love and give. Someone who values having their dreams supported. Someone who values me and who I am behind all the story.

I want to share my life with someone who believes in commitment, who sees relationships, not just as temporary learning classrooms, but as lifelong learning gardens, places to grow, to love, to nurture and be nurtured. Someone who realizes that relationships can be hard work and that sometimes the passion fades, but that it can come back again if you want it to. Someone who won’t leave when the going gets tough. Someone who believes in love, the love that requires time to grow, the love that requires you to love yourself and to know who you really are.

I want to know what it’s like to get up every day and feel content. To feel as though my life is worth living. I want to know what it feels like to wake up beside someone who wants to be with me, who I feel safe to be me with. I want to know what it feels like to live my life with one person, to look back on 20, 30, 40 years of a relationship, to survey the highs and lows and still look at that person and smile and be glad that we’re together. I want to know what it feels like to love with all my heart and have that returned. To see my hard work and efforts pay off for once. To have memories that I can keep without being traumatized in recalling them. To have pure joy, untainted by loss and disappointment.

I want to know what it’s like to look back at an accomplishment, trial or challenge and feel proud, feel happy, feel delighted with myself. To feel a sense of worth and value in myself. I want to know what enough is. I want to know that I’m enough. I want to feel “enough” in every cell in my body, every breath in my lungs, every beat of my heart. I want to know what it’s like to put my head on the pillow at night and feel content with my day and be able to fall asleep without worry, without flashbacks, without memories. I want to know what a restful night’s sleep feels like, without nightmares, without panic. I want to know what it feels like to wake up and feel grateful to be alive, rather than praying for death to overtake me while I sleep.

I want to know what it’s like to give birth. To raise a child. To teach a child, to create a safe space for a child to love, live, laugh and grow. I want to know what it’s like to say, “This is my son” or “This is my daughter.”

I want to know what it’s like to feel like an adult, to feel like I’ve arrived on this planet and that I’m fully present and alive. I want to know what it feels like to take a vacation, to own a house, to have satisfying work each day and not be worried about bills and basic survival.

I want to know what it feels like to give love and feel like it’s not killing you slowly to give it. I want to know what it feels like to be alive every day and not feel so damn tired all the time.

I want to know that even if I don’t accomplish any of these things, that I’m okay, that I’m loved and that my life is worth living.

tall penguin

Thursday, September 20, 2007

Why a broken heart feels broken...

Thanks to Eric for letting me know about this interesting study done a few years ago on rejection. According to this study, the pain we feel after being rejected, by a love, friend or through shunning (like the jw's do), is processed in the same part of the brain as physical pain. So a "broken heart" indeed feels like it's actually physically broken.

I find this interesting because it's been proposed that Fibromyalgia, a neuromuscular condition I was diagnosed with at age 17, may be caused in part by a sensitivity in the brain area that detects and regulates our response to physical pain. I know I've always been acutely aware of my own and other's pain, both emotional and physical. I've been known to "vibe" the pain off others and spend hours in agony after being with someone who is experiencing physical or emotional distress. It affords me deeper experiences of love and empathy but rejection hurts like hell. I feel some days like carving out my heart, just to make it stop aching. Sigh.

tall penguin

Tuesday, September 18, 2007

So get this...

As you know I got busted by the pharmacist and have been without my sleeping pills for over a week now. I finally saw my doctor today and told him how much better I feel mentally since stopping them, but how sick I've been. So he figures the sick is from withdrawal, and it's quite possible they were actually making my emotional state worse not better, especially once I started abusing them. I've never been a huge fan of pharmaceuticals. They have their place I guess, but I always wonder if they're making matters worse rather than better for me. Now, I wonder even more.

So I've been working to reset my body clock and my sleep patterns. It's going well. There's been a few rough nights but I'm surviving. It's the physical withdrawal I'm feeling that is harder to take than the not sleeping. I wake up at 4 am with flu-like symptoms, panic and flashbacks. Then I get nauseous, have an upset tummy and shake a lot. It's not fun. I guess this is what they call addiction. Hard to believe after only a year on the stuff. The brain is a funny place. You just never know what's really going on in there.

tall penguin

"Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters"

I've recently been reading Why Beautiful People Have More Daughters, by Alan S. Miller and Satoshi Kanazawa. It is basically the evolutionary psychology stance on a number of very interesting and controversial questions. Evolutionary psychology differs from the social science standpoint of tabula rasa, or the idea that we are a blank slate at birth waiting for our environment to shape us. Evolutionary psychology sees human nature as greatly hardwired by evolution, and only slightly modified by environmental factors.

Here is an article adapted from the book from Psychology Today. It outlines "Ten Politically Incorrect Truths About Human Nature" including: "Why most suicide bombers are Muslim, beautiful people have more daughters, humans are naturally polygamous, sexual harassment isn't sexist, and blonds are more attractive."

Interesting stuff. Just makes me realize even more that we really have very little clue why we do what we do. Science has so many different standpoints. Who's to say what's accurate? Who's to say what I or you are more influenced by, your evolution or your environment? How can we possibly ever know for certain which of the two has influenced which life choices? How can we ever really know, as I like to say, "what's driving the bus"? It all makes my head spin. And makes me want to cower in a dark corner and never read again. Sigh.

tall penguin

Monday, September 17, 2007

For the Asshole(s)

There seems to be a rash of breakups of couples I know. So here's my tribute to all the jerk, asshole men who don't have their shit together. Ladies, we're stronger than them. And better off without them I do believe. Keep your power. They don't deserve it.

Sleep to Dream
by Fiona Apple

I tell you how I feel, but you don't care.
I say tell me the truth, but you don't dare.
You say love is a hell you cannot bare.
And I say gimme mine back and then go there - for all I care.

I got my feet on the ground and I don't go to sleep to dream.
You got your head in the clouds and you're not at all what you seem.
This mind, this body, and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways.
So don't forget what I told you, don't come around, I got my own hell to raise.

I have never been insulted in all my life.
I could swallow the seas to wash down all this pride.
First you run like a fool just to be at my side.
And now you run like a fool, but you just run to hide, and I can't abide.

I got my feet on the ground and I don't go to sleep to dream.
You got this head in the clouds and you're not at all what you seem.
This mind, this body, and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways.
So don't forget what I told you, don't come around, I got my own hell to raise.

Don't make it a big deal, don't be so sensitive.
Were not playing a game anymore, you don't have to be so defensive.
Don't you plead me your case, don't bother to explain.
Don't even show me your face, cuz its a crying shame.
Just go back to the rock from under which you came.
Take the sorrow you gave and all the stakes you claim -
And don't forget the blame.

I got my feet on the ground and I don't go to sleep to dream.
You got this head in the clouds and you're not at all what you seem.
This mind, this body, and this voice cannot be stifled by your deviant ways.
So don't forget what I told you, don't come around, I got my own hell to raise.

Both Sides Now

I learned this Joni Mitchell song in seventh grade vocal music class. It has stuck with me for years and once in a while I put in on and belt it out with Joni. Seems timely.

Rows and floes of angel hair
And ice cream castles in the air
And feather canyons everywhere
I've looked at clouds that way

But now they only block the sun
They rain and snow on everyone
So many things I would have done
But clouds got in my way
I've looked at clouds from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's cloud illusions I recall
I really don't know clouds at all

Moons and Junes and ferris wheels
The dizzy dancing way you feel
As every fairy tale comes real
I've looked at love that way

But now its just another show
You leave em laughing when you go
And if you care, don't let them know
Don't give yourself away

I've looked at love from both sides now
From give and take, and still somehow
It's loves illusions I recall
I really don't know love at all

Tears and fears and feeling proud
To say I love you right out loud
Dreams and schemes and circus crowds
I've looked at life that way

But now old friends are acting strange
They shake their heads, they say I've changed
Well something's lost, but something's gained
In living every day

I've looked at life from both sides now
From win and lose and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all
I've looked at life from both sides now
From up and down, and still somehow
It's life's illusions I recall
I really don't know life at all

Law of Attraction...

So, there's a new age/self help principle that talks about the law of attraction, that we attract what we think about into our lives, or we attract lessons we need to learn to us. Not sure I buy into this. I've been thinking of death and suicide for over 15 years. Why am I still here? Surely by now, I should have attracted some sniper or disgruntled postal worker or some loathsome disease to take me out of the game. But no, I'm still here.

The self help gurus say to focus on the positive and all will be well. I find it hard to buy into that either. I bought into so many ideas as a jw. I believed that Armageddon was coming and that the earth was going to be made into a paradise. I believed that I was going to find someone to love and be with my whole life. I believed that the people I looked up to were telling me the truth. I realize I've given way too many people in my life too much credit. I have been blinded by a person's potential and forget to see who they are now. I have ignored behavior I shouldn't have. I have tolerated abuses. I have allowed people to manipulate me. No more. So, forgive me if I don't buy into the "just think positive" mentality. It just feels like more mindfuckery to me.

tall penguin

Friday, September 14, 2007

"If it makes you stumble..."

I have gotten used to cutting people out of my life. The jw's taught me well. But I don't want to cut people out of my life anymore. I'm learning that relationships can be worked with. They can grow. They can change and shift. I realize there's a balance here of course, that sometimes relationships can be unhealthy and need to be reexamined. But I don't feel so in a hurry as I once did to clear people to the side and "move on".

I have these images sometimes of these strewn bodies on the roadside of my life, the bodies of those I've cut off or lost along the way. I feel some days like I am grieving the loss of all these people now, all at once. It is a lot of grief. Today, I am glad for the process. I am glad my body is working through all this stuff, as painful as it is. I feel hopeful, like maybe I'll be better off for all of this. Like maybe there is a light at the end of this long, dark tunnel. I don't know. Maybe it's just the meds finally kicking in.

tall penguin

Monday, September 10, 2007

What remains?

Of all the people I've lost, all the beliefs I've shed and everything that has come up for question in the past two years since leaving the jw's, what hurts me the most is that I feel myself losing faith in love.

I have always been a hopeless romantic, perhaps bordering on idealistic, but the one thing that always kept me going in life was the idea that love existed and that I could find someone to love and be loved by--a companion, a fellow journeyman. Now, love seems like just another chemical reaction in my mind. It seems meaningless. A futile pursuit like all others.

My unending belief in love has been what has guided my spirit through these many years of depression. Now, it seems like an illusion. Just another one to throw on the pile. What is left?

tall penguin

Perspective...

For the past four months I have been helping a new mother with her twin boys, now aged 13 months. I love children. Having studied infant development, I find it fascinating to watch these little guys grow, explore and learn. It's funny to sit back and watch them interact. They love playing peek-a-boo with me and each other.

Since I was a young girl I have wanted to have children. Yet, I wonder if that's just what I've been conditioned to want. I wonder what I would do with my time if I decided not to become a mother. How would I fill the next 20 years of my life? And I wonder how many people have children for these reasons. The factors seem complicated. I just wonder whether more children is what the planet really needs.

I have just come from taking care of these sweet little boys and I am exhausted in every way. I don't know how mothers do it. I am gaining a new empathy for my mother. Knowing her mental/emotional state at the time that she had my brother and I, I can imagine how difficult raising us was for her. Perhaps that is the context for why I would often find her lying across her bed at the end of the day crying. I find myself suffering the same universal exhaustion daily.

I am beginning to let go of all the preconceived notions I have had for my life. I have no idea what I'm doing. I have no idea where I'm going. I take each day one minute, one hour at a time. It's all I can do. I trust it won't always be this way. But I don't know for sure. I don't know anything for sure.

tall penguin

Visiting my demon-haunted world...

I took my last little blue pill of somnolence tonight. I got a few hours sleep and have awoken, probably for the night. It is 5 am.

My brain spends a lot of time ruminating in the past or worrying about the future. I believe it is the plague of humanity and our greatest disease. We spend so little time in the present moment. Children, or rather, very young children, know the power of being in the moment. They have not yet gotten drawn into the "adult" world of ego and mindstuff and mental constructs. They have not bought into the idea that we are what we think. That our thoughts are worth our attention.

The more I journey into my mind and question what I find there, the more I see a web of finely constructed memory, emotion and thought--all of which are the result of chemical and electrical processes. What makes me think any of it is real? I make it real by lending it credence, by weaving this large story around it. But that doesn't make it any more real. What is real, all that is real, is what's here now.

All the people from my past live on in my memory as this construct of interactions and conversations, but memory is a tricky thing. It is rarely accurate. It becomes overlaid by further experience, by time, by emotions. It becomes this entity, this frozen capsule of what once was, but it is not real. I don't even know these people anymore. Whether it's been a month, a year or ten years, if they are not part of my present moment experience, they are just my own mental construct. It is not real. And here I am giving away my time and energy to what is not real, to these constructs of past and future.

Over the years I have spent much time in various forms of therapy. Some of it has been useful. But I'm beginning to wonder if it's not just reinforcing my tendency to live somewhere other than now. There is this tendency to enter "analysis paralysis" where the meanderings of the mind become so dissected and analyzed that the mind becomes tricked into thinking they're real, that they're somehow more valid than what is happening right now. I realize how I have become paralyzed by my own thoughts, by a bunch of stuff going on in my synapses. I have become a slave to my own mind.

It's funny. Over recent months, I have craved sleep. I have craved an escape from my mind. And yet, sleep has eluded me. Perhaps it is my body saying it is time to wake up and face reality. To live here. Now.

Some people try to run from their past. I have been running from the now. It is scary to face what is. To learn to no longer derive your sense of self from the constant circus of the mind. Once again, the question stares me down from all directions...who am I really?

tall penguin

Sunday, September 9, 2007

Now what?

I had a major panic attack as I wrote yesterday's entry on suffering. Today, I realize I'm the only one who can free myself. I have spent enough time giving my power away to people and situations of abuse and trauma. I have kept the stories alive for so long now that I don't even know what's real anymore. All I feel is the raw pain of grief and anger. Not even sure who it's towards or what it's about. I can project it on any number of people and situations but it is becoming enough to just acknowledge that it's there and breathe through until it passes. Eventually everything does.

The pharmacy would not refill my sleeping pill prescription. They've figured out that I've been taking more than the recommended dose. When I started the anti-depressant, they began losing their effectiveness so I began to take more and more. Apparently I'm now up to triple the maximum dose. Probably not a good thing but when you're suicidal you're not much concerned with maximum dosages and long-term repercussions. So I face some choices. Do I seek out more drugs? Or do I detox and see what I can manage on my own with the other resources I have in place (therapy, friends, etc.)?

I feel like I'm at a major crossroads in my life. There are people I've been striving to keep in my life who either don't want to be here right now or can't be here or would be better off not being here. And there are a whole wealth of new friends who've come into my life and offered me their unconditional love and friendship. It is hard to let go but I've been carrying so much dead weight for so long, leaving doors open that should've been closed long ago. I have been gathering strength. The strength to know that I don't need these people and that I'd probably be much better off without them, as painful and harsh as that may be. I have made it this far without people I thought I couldn't live without. Fuck it. Let's keep moving.

Life continues to surprise me. I continue to surprise me. And so it is.

tall penguin

Saturday, September 8, 2007

How to make it stop?

J is gone from my life. He was my best friend. We will probably never have another conversation. Even if we did, what really happened will be so mottled up that neither of us will see matters straight. How can we ever possibly sort out what is real? Once the moment is gone, memories get overlaid with other memories. Time changes conversations. It changes people. More experiences happen. Nothing is real anymore. There is just this story that we think happened sometime at some point. But what of it is really true? And how can we ever know? Stories within stories. Days, months, years pass. The story grows. I don’t know what’s real anymore. Did he say that? Did I do that? Did I allow that? Did he mean to hurt me? Did we mean to hurt each other? Why am I still hurting if I don’t even know what’s real anymore? How can any of us know? I feel my sanity slipping away. Nothing makes sense.

What do I really want here? I want J to know how much he hurt me. I want him to feel the hurt. I want him to feel the hurt he’s been through in his life. I want everyone to feel their own suffering so they can stop making others suffer. I want everyone to feel their own grief so I don’t have to feel it for them.

I don’t want to feel for other people anymore. I don’t want any more pain. I don’t want to walk into a room and have people tell me their stories, their pain, their grief. I don’t want there to be any more suffering. I want suffering to end. I want back my illusion that suffering will end. That there’s a god who cares. I want back my solution. I hate this helplessness. I hate this powerlessness I feel. To heal myself. To heal anyone else. We are all suffering. And we pass it on to our children and they onto theirs. To what end? Where does it end? I can’t make it stop. I want it to stop. All of it. I want the hurting to stop. For me. For everyone. And I can’t do it. How do I make it stop?

tall penguin