Why I Love My Inner Bitch

It was quite the week last week. The tree is up and gingerbread are baked but I’m finding my Christmas spirit to be a bit elusive. Of course, a lot of it has to do with the horrible tragedy last week in Connecticut, which I won’t even speak about because it makes me tear up every time. Another huge part of it has to do with my 14-year-old niece being stuck in the hospital with stabbing abdominal pains that they can’t seem to diagnose after 7 days. It is frustrating and worrying and she is handling it all like a trooper but her poor mum, my only sister, is slowly being worn down to the point of exhaustion. And there’s nothing I can do.

I know this all sounds terribly depressing and I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer but I am finding that having my nerves frayed and this constant low-level of worry eating at me has been quite the eye-opening learning experience. I think I am finally falling in love with my inner bitch.

Don’t get me wrong. She has always been there. She makes an appearance every once in a while, but usually when I’ve had a couple of glasses of wine with my girlfriends and we get started on our men, or our kids, or life as a woman in general. She is pretty much bound to show up once a month and my poor Muppet is well acquainted with her.

And here’s the thing; I love women who let their inner bitch out once in a while. Let me be clear. I’m not talking about the kind of woman who looks you up and down, gives you a withering look, and walks away or who insults perfect strangers based on superficialities. That is juvenile and unnecessarily hurtful. What I love is when a woman can finally let loose and actually voice those things that she is unhappy with in her life; the things that drive her crazy, or make her dissatisfied. I love it when my otherwise cheerful girlfriends will let loose with a few choice expletives while pondering why their dear spouse can’t seem to get his dirty undies into the hamper.

Let’s face it; we women are taught to be nice. I know that I have a huge problem saying ‘no’ or rocking the boat. I was always the shy one who was well-behaved and easy-going as a child. And I was complimented on those traits A LOT. Sound familiar? We were encouraged to be nurturing, to play quietly, to keep our dresses clean and our hair tidy. I don’t think I even realized until the last few years how much of that I had carried on into my adult life.

I realize now that all this time I had this other side of me that was aching for more than just a brief walk-on role in my life. As I grow older I realize that my bitch – that part of me that stands up for herself, and doesn’t suffer fools, and gets fed up and frustrated – is a real and important part of my personality and I am growing less and less afraid to let her out.

I look back at some of the times that she was trying to make herself known and I repressed her: The time that I was forced to work until almost 10pm one night because my boss didn’t get his own work done on time and I made a comment to that effect (in a joking tone) which got me a stern look and a warning. The time that I was told I was ‘too blunt’ when I gave my opinion in a meeting. I was right in both cases, but I forgot to be nice and unassuming, to remember my place and not rock the boat.

Maybe loving my inner bitch comes with being in my forties now. I have obligations and responsibilities and I don’t have the time to mess around with poor customer service or whiny people or incompetent bosses. I want my life to be happy, and to run as smoothly as it can, and I am not going to put up with anything that stands in my way.

I actually think my bitch was always there to make sure I did what was best for myself, but the rest of me just wasn’t ready yet to put myself first. She shows up when things are at their toughest and says ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. She is the one who gets me to say ‘no’ when I really am stretched to thin. She is the one who gets me to cancel plans that I am actually too exhausted or sick to enjoy. She is the one who lets me speak my mind at my current job because I have important things to say and should be heard.

I am almost grateful that the last couple of weeks have been so stressful. Unleashing my inner bitch has actually allowed me to prioritize and to see what is really important. She has given me permission to say ‘no’ to everything except those things that matter most; my kids, my guy, getting ready to make this a great holiday, and helping out my sister and niece in any way they will let me. In many ways, its like I have found a new best friend!

 

 

 

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Hello Fall. It’s About Time

Ahhh, I woke up this morning to a dismal and rainy day but am I sad. Nooooo. I cracked open the living window, made myself a cup of tea, sparked up the computer…. and had to find myself a SWEATER. Hooray!

It’s not that I am opposed to summer. Not at all. We all had a great summer camping and swimming and hanging out with friends and family. I was a bit sad to see the kids go back to school, mainly because I realize that they are getting older and time has been passing way too quickly. Mini Me has these broad shoulders now and wants to hang out with his buddies after school. Monkey has moved up to the second floor of our hulking old school building, which means I am now permanently relegated to picking him up outside in the school yard instead of occasionally popping in to the classroom and keeping up a rapport with the teacher.

But I digress.  The reason I am thrilled to finally get a taste of good old Canadian fall weather is because I am freakin’ tired of sweating! I know it’s petty but there you have it. This was the kind of summer in Toronto where some days you just stood outside and dripped. The air conditioning was running way more than I would have liked and the days with a nice breeze and a perfect 25 degrees were few and far between. I come from Scottish and English stock. I don’t handle this weather well. I am also creeping towards my mid 40s and I suspect that perimenopause has been rearing its ugly head for a couple of years now. I suppose I will have my answer about that little issue when it’s -15 outside and I am still sweating in a few months.

Another totally ridiculous reason for loving fall? The clothes. It’s difficult to look put together when you’re sweating buckets and just want to walk around naked with a fan blowing on you at all times. In the fall, you can wear stuff like this…

From the Addition Elle fall line

Oh yeah, I went and bought this skirt last weekend. Red pencil skirt with a cheeky black zipper that runs down the entire length of the back seam. I have plans for this skirt.

I can’t wait to dig out my jeans, my boots, my scarves. Oh, how I love my scarves. And my sleek leather jacket. Sigh. I’m looking forward to getting myself put together and staying that way instead of becoming a drippy, shiny mess 5 minutes after leaving the house.

It’s not all about the clothes though. Craft fairs, farmer’s markets, Thanksgiving, Halloween, hay rides, pumpkin patches, apple pies and cider, hikes to see the leaves turning colour. And if I get to look fabulous while doing all of these things, then that’s just an added bonus.

What’s your favourite season?

Fat Is Not The Enemy

I’ve been spending a lot of time lately putting pressure on myself to be something I’m not. I’m lucky enough to work from home and part of my daily tasks is to follow a bunch of health and wellness bloggers. These are amazing women (and yes, they’re almost all women. Seriously, don’t guys blog?) who are striving to live fulfilled, lhealthy lives. Some have kids. Some don’t. Some have overcome tremendous physical hurdles to become fit and happy and I love to hear about their journeys.

But…
I think I’m the kind of gal who focusses on what I should be rather than what I am, so these blogs have been doing a bit of a number on me lately. Raw food. Vegan food. Daily workouts. Yoga. Meditation. Smoothies that are an alarming shade of green. Quitting an office job to be a fitness coach, zumba instructor, yogi, life counsellor. I wonder why I can’t do that too. Why can’t I find the passion for health and fulfillment that these women have. They are so awesome and I am so obviously lacking.

Then it kind of hit me while I’m sitting here at Timmies having my medium coffee (double cream, one sweetener) that I am passionate. I am passionate about being me but I somehow don’t seem to think that’s enough.

I am more fit now than I have been since I was 20. I exercise pretty much every day even if it’s only the 35 minutes or so it takes me to walk the kids to and from school. I eat pretty healthy most of the time. I cook lovely homemade meals and bake cookies so my kids get a least a few less preservatives in their bodies. And if this keeps the scale over the number I idealize in my head, then maybe that’s how it’s supposed to be.

I’m not saying there are things I wouldn’t improve. I’m an emotional eater and stress always finds me munching on something. I love wine and a night chatting with the girls while splitting a bottle or two.

I guess my realization is that I need to be good enough for myself and figure out what that means. I can be my own worst enemy or my own best friend and maybe if I’m kinder to myself, I will find it easier to make more little changes. Yes, I take cream in my coffee today, but hey, at least I didn’t order a donut. One small step for woman…

Weight Watchers: Friend or Foe?

This is a subject that I’m really conflicted on. About three years ago, I decided to embark on my first ever diet (I’m not counting that brief time in my early teens where I supplemented snacking with a raging caffeine habit in the form of cups and cups of tea). I’m sure this would be surprising to a lot of women, particularly those who would identify them as lifetime plus-sizers like myself.  Most women I know, of every size, have at least a few diets under their belts (so to speak) by the time they hit 30. Why didn’t I?

Every woman on my mum’s side of the family is plus sized, and I was always one of the slimmest. At 5’8’ and averaging a size 16 in my adult life, my body was pretty proportioned and I could carry the weight less visibly. I had never experienced people making negative comments about my weight (until the Angry Skinny Chick incident that I wrote about a couple of posts ago) and I certainly never had helpful female relatives breathing down my neck to lose a few pounds “because we’re just worried about your health, dear.”

But, after two pregnancies and two humungous babies, I was feeling out of shape in a way I never had before. All of my extra weight was resting around my stomach and I was really feeling uncomfortable in my own skin. So, when my sister in law mentioned that she had joined the online branch of Weight Watchers, I decided to give it a try as well.

It made me look at food in a way I never had before. The thought of measuring out portions and figuring out point values was almost like a game to me because I had never worried about what I was eating before. Despite being heavy, I had never encountered a problem with my cholesterol or blood pressure and I went religiously every year for my full physical with the doctor. I had never been shamed for taking an extra portion or ordering desert in a restaurant and had grown up in a house where tea and “something sweet” was pretty much compulsory.

So, I cut back on what I ate and the first week I lost four pounds. I was hooked. After the first week and a half I started exercising more. I was already belly dancing once a week but as the weight dropped off, I would break into a jog on my way to pick the kids up from school. I would put on loud tunes and dance around the kitchen. People starting complimenting me and I was praising the virtues of Weight Watchers.

Then, after losing 30 pounds, I started to backslide. I’m an emotional eater and I had a lot of stress in my life. My wonderful Grandma passed away and that was devastating. I soon began snacking at night, telling myself it was only a little bit and it wouldn’t matter, but soon the pounds started creeping on.

So, here I am with still 6 pounds of my original 30 gone but I am conflicted about going back on Weight Watchers. I know that most people regain the weight, just like I did, but the fact is that I’ll be 42 in a month and I want to feel healthier. I think that those people who are heavy and happy, who love their bodies at any size, are simply fantastic. But for me, part of loving myself  is admitting that after a lifetime of being moderately overweight, I have health problems that come along with carrying the extra pounds. I have a chronic sore back, have gone through spurts with sore knees and achy hips, I have bunions, and am not as active as I would like to be.

I find myself trying to justify rejoining Weight Watchers since they have readjusted the way they calculate points. Every which way you turn, you can year Jennifer Hudson going on about how they are now encouraging health rather than weight loss. They want you to eat all the fruit and veggies you can with no point penalties and they no longer calculate food points by calories but by fat, protein, carbs and fibre.  The focus is on food quality rather than quantity.

On the other hand, I know that health at all size activists like Golda Poretsky or Jill Nash would tsk tsk me for falling back into that diet mentality of deprivation and obsession. Sigh. What’s a chubby mummy to do?

Here’s what my thinking is right now and I will certainly share my success or failure, although I do suck at admitting I’m wrong (you’ve been warned). I’m going to give Weight Watchers another try but with a different frame of mind. I think I do need to be mindful of what I put in my mouth. I’m a terrible nibbler and I will make my portions much bigger than they need to be, especially at dinner when there’s usually enough kid drama and distraction going on to get me to overeat to the point where I feel uncomfortable afterwards. I need to be reminded that I can nibble on blueberries in the middle of the afternoon instead of having some kind of baked good. Will I let myself feel hungry? Hell no. But I will keep track of how much I’m exercising compared to how many times I choose to eat some kind of fatty or salty treat. I’m also keeping my scale firmly under my bedroom dresser collecting dust because that’s where it belongs.

Will it work? Who knows.  Maybe I’ll become a point obsessed zombie with a shrine to Jennifer Hudson in the basement. Or maybe I’ll start to get healthier.  We’ll have to wait and see.

Trying to remember who I was…

I recently found some of my old high school creative writing assignments and remembered that I loved to write. I spent hours in my bedroom holed up with lined three hole paper and a bic pen, listening to ‘80s new wave bands and lamenting the future of man and woman kind. ‘Dancing With Tears in Their Eyes’ still gives me a creepy feeling down my spine. I joined Amnesty International and wrote protest letters to governments around the globe, much to my mother’s paranoid chagrin. I had penpals from all around the globe and we exchanged pictures and comparisons of our respective homes.

Now, I’m a stay at home mother and as my kids are getting older, I want to try and recapture some of that passion I had when I was younger. Not easy when you’ve spent the last few years writing nothing more thrilling than a grocery list.

I had a career before and after my first child. I worked for a high profile book publisher and got to meet all kinds of glamorous people (well, glamorous by literary standards anyway), attend parties, swan off to television and radio studios, escort some of our country’s top literati. But after my second, I didn’t go back (a whole other post entirely) and promised that I would be true to myself and what I really wanted.

Being a mum is distracting and all-consuming though, and as much as I and my other stay-at-home mummy friends joke about sitting on the couch eating bon bons, it’s damned hard work raising human beings to be productive members of society.

Still, its been almost 3 years since I’ve changed a diaper on one of my own kids and I find myself emerging from mummy mode and wondering what to do with myself. Any of you out there sympathize? Then let’s get going…

Deep breath… and GO!!!

Okay, ladies (and you brave, men who are in touch with your feminine side). This is my blog. And who the heck are you, you may ask? A 40 something woman, a mother, a daughter, a partner, a feminist, an aspiring plus sized fashionista, a chef, a baker, a candle stick maker (well, actually, my attempts at crafting are generally tragic but you get the idea). I am like so many of you out there. A woman who is trying to keep it all together, to make it all work without losing her mind or resorting to mid-afternoon slugs from the cooking wine. I am trying to find my way, be happy and figure it all out in a crazy world where June Cleaver no longer exists but her ghost still haunts us. Where we are told we can have it all but constantly shown that we are not doing it right.

I want this blog to be a place to say ‘screw it.’ I want to define who I am and what I want to be. I want to have a place to laugh at the media, the advertisers and the companies and the people who tell us we are too fat, too wrinkled, too short, too tall, too grey haired, too baggy,saggy and lumpy. That our houses aren’t clean enough, or decorated enough, our children aren’t well behaved or well fed or well dressed. That we must give our all to our careers yet still do the majority of the work at home, take the majority of sick days with our kids and do most of the planning which keeps a familly afloat.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m not angry. Not really. I think I’m like the rest of you out there. This is how I grew up. These are the messages I saw and what I was exposed to. I can take a look at it tongue in cheek where it applies to myself because  I have made a decision to take responsibility for my actions. I am slowly trying to ferret out all of those deeply ingrained ideas about womanhood and give them a big, proud middle fingered salute.

 So… are you with me?