Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Yup, that's me...

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
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
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
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
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
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


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