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