Wait-Loss Wonderland.

The weight loss journey is one seriously rocky road, like wandering though a twisted fairy tale, a calorie-conscious Wonderland with all kinds of detours, obstacles, distractions, forks in the roads and the occasional rabbit hole.

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It’s easy to lose track of your starting point, how far you’ve come, or how much you’ve changed from that day you took that first step in that direction.

Image result for Alice in Wonderland Quotes Tumblr where you started

Ten months spent in this weight-loss Wonderland has been a deeply transformative time. Not just of my appearance, or my dress size, but as layers of myself have diminished-now forty pounds and 42.5 inches, I have suffered, struggled—and travelled through my memory—and ran the entire gamut of emotions.  Memories of food; of overindulgences.  I am a certifiable comfort eater. I am my own Italian grandmother serving up heaping portions of creamy, saucy, gooey, salty goodness. Eat! Eat!  It’s the cure for all things: anxiety, boredom, depression, loneliness. It’s not as though gaining weight was a deliberate, conscious act. It just becomes a reality that feels unchangeable.  In my office, there’s a giant glass picture frame with a wedding photo of Buster Keaton, (random I know but the image amuses me). It sits on my desk, and I could see my reflection in it—so I covered it up with papers.

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In retrospect, that action strikes me as sad.  In order to not see myself–and face some hard facts, I refused to see something that brings me joy. Then again, denial, like loose fabric and stretchy pants are necessary accessories of avoidance.  Of course, the cruel irony of this vicious cycle is: feeling unhappy with yourself + self medicating and overindulging + feeling unhappy with yourself + self medicating and overindulging =not living your life out loud like you’d really like to. Knowing that you are on the verge of a great depression; or deep in that chasm with no way to get out—knowing, in an abstract sense, that a healthier lifestyle would be a benefit—but not knowing how to break that cycle—because frankly, you won’t see results on day one, two or three. It becomes quite the waiting game. You simply have to trust that each day, you are a little bit more different than the day before.

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Even after change has become to take shape, sometimes you need reminders. Those Facebook memories that pop up on the ole newsfeed are effective tools, and can be occasionally mortifying—or inspiring, depending on your mood. There was a photo of me in Mexico that really stands out in my mind—I’m rather stylish in the group shot—beachy hair, my smile dressed in red lipstick, a purple silk scarf draped over my shoulders, all tucked into a chunky belt—but oooh, that belt was not the only bit of chunky in that snap shot. It was staggering to see. I showed it to my mother, who was quick to insist that I not feel bad about it; I assured her that I didn’t look at the picture with sadness—I was celebrating New Year’s Eve with some marvellous people in Mexico, and have zero regrets about aaaaaall those guac and chips and margaritas. It was more about realizing how far I had come, when I had kind of lost sight of where I was on the long road to fitness. That was then. This is now. I can’t cripple myself with regret for not starting sooner—or for having a problem at all. Regret, sadly does not burn calories, and is therefore pretty damn useless.

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In the mix of dealing with health improvements, my issues with anxiety are the whack-a-moles that I must endlessly smash with my big mallet. Anxiety is the internal Debbie Downer that leeches joy and distracts from motivation.  That bitch needs to get up and go. But, if she won’t leave, and she sticks with you like a bad tattoo you got in your teen years, how does one redesign it in order to deal it on the daily?   In my case, how does one apply self-comfort without stuffing one’s face? Cups of tea, a cozy blanket, my husband Benjamin, our dog Bluebear, a good book, writing, curling up on the couch, a hot bath, a long walk, a visit with a friend. Chatting with Beth and Elisha at Herbal One, laughing through squats and plies at Barre Kamloops.

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Living life in bite sized increments,  mindful of the moment. By all means plan for the future, but focus on today. Especially in regards to health and weight-loss. So. Many. Times. I would eat as if I were being shipped off to the electric chair at dawn. Tomorrow I’ll be better; I’ll start fresh on Monday.  Excuses start to fly like baseballs at the batting cages. Monday is the worst day of the week, why make that the day to start anything? I’ll start on Tuesday…Wednesday… Thursday… ah, it’s the weekend, best treat myself…to bigger pants. You won’t see change in one day—so what’s one more day of not seeking change? There in lies the need for that mindfulness. You may not see rippling abs on the first day you decide to make a change, so you have to find the ant-sized successes in the daily choices that benefit your long term goal.

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My relationship with food is much friendlier.  I spend more time in the kitchen than ever before–prepping, planning and preparing. The other night Benjamin and I were lying in bed discussing all these delicious meal ideas like two children whispering secrets in the dark. Sunday’s are my food prep days, and there is nothing more satisfying than looking into a perfectly stocked fridge filled with washed and chopped produce and ready to go meals. Take that Monday! If the opportunity arises for a true indulgence, I don’t shy away from it; last night for example—live music, three glasses of pinot noir and two kinds of fondue at the Commodore (swiss cheese and dark chocolate). Do I have a wine/cheese/chocolate hangover today? Hell yes, I do. Do I have regrets? Not at all. I completed a 10-day cleanse, treated myself to a mani/pedi, and enjoyed a very special date night with my sweetheart; I savoured, celebrated and absorbed every bite and every sip.  (We also shared a salad, just for good measure).

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This time has been one of great reflection; recollections of all the injuries, accidents, disappointments, heartbreaks, disasters, losses, betrayals. How I’ve been hurt and hurt others. How I have failed myself and failed others.  Taking responsibility, accepting my actions, forgiving myself, letting go.  Letting go is not my strong suit. I’ve been carrying around past agonies in my heart for so long, punishing myself for my mistakes, torturing myself for every misstep I have ever taken.  I’m still carrying around some of those things in my emotional gunny sack—but I’m learning to leave things behind as I walk along that road. Seeing myself as different people. The fretful child I once was, that 14-year-old girl, that 22-year-old, that 30-year-old—on and on, I can only see them as separate from my present-day self.  Sure, our past selves are a part of the patchwork quilt that is your collective existence, but it’s not the definition of your entire life.  Still, I have to love her—apologize to her for the things that broke her, how I didn’t know how to help her, take care of her. I was weak and imperfect and riddled with flaws. I could have done better for so long, but I didn’t. I can’t punish myself any longer for something that is gone; I can’t change the tides that threatened to drown me. All I can do is today. Breathe. Release. Laugh. Love. Stretch. Forgive. Connect. Be Patient. Cry whenever necessary. Eat fondue occasionally. Be grateful for every mistake and heart break, just don’t let it weigh you down.

Image result for vintage alice in wonderland quotesImages Courtesy of the Fine People Behind the Internet…

Junk, Trunk & the Salty Seductress.

The prospect of a post weight-loss shopping trip can be a real thrill. Less intimidated by the reflection in the changing room mirror, approaching fashion with a newfound freedom. A colorful and energetic montage of the new you twirling around in a multitude of stylish garments–celebrating your hard work with a whole new wardrobe.

For me,  the main shopping agenda was new bras. Having lost thirty pounds and as many inches, my strapless bras were starting to slide down my torso like a firefighter rushing down the fire hall pole.  At the best of times, bra shopping has always been an unfortunate enterprise. A real emotional hot zone.  The advertisement in lingerie stores always slays me. After seeing Miranda Kerr in underwear, it makes seeing yourself in underwear a bit of an underwhelming, or even traumatizing experience.

Beth from Herbal One nods sympathetically when I reference my dwindling breasts. “After all, it’s fatty tissue” she reasons. Uh…yea, so is my ass, why the discrimination? As far as the weight loss goes, if my upper half is like a sprightly speed walker, my lower half is like an elderly and arthritic Tai Chi enthusiast. After two weeks of work on a local film set, my pedometer tallied up some rather impressive numbers. 15 hour days on one’s feet really adds up, especially, if you are utterly shameless and casually march and lunge on the spot.  The shoot ended and I returned to Herbal One victorious…and five pounds lighter. After walking the equivalent of 15-25 kilometres per day, I was certain that the effort would be reflected in my measurements, which they did—with the ever-loving exception of my pear-shaped essence. That didn’t budge an inch.  Meanwhile, it’s RIP C-cup. Who needs a full bust anyway? I can just go back to wearing an undershirt like when I was 9.

My body is changing, my health is improving, and I have generally gained control over the task at hand. My thighs, on the other hand, are like that dude at the party who refuses to call it a night–strumming a guitar poorly, talking loudly; unintentionally intervening on a romantic liaison with that dreamy poet you’ve been flirting with all night. Still there in the morning, drinking your coffee, taking up space and frankly, just rubbing you the wrong way. Go make yourself useful thighs, find out where my boobs scuttled off to.  What does a girl have to do to ditch a little of that junk in the trunk?

I signed up for an Herbal One summer challenge and a month of Barre classes–which offers a mix of ballet, yoga and Pilates. It’s the perfect exercise for me, and a fabulous compliment to my Herbal One Program. It’s a full body workout, the music is upbeat, the staff are friendly, and the other attendees are lovely. Sure, the classes can be quite challenging, and it does bring up such questions as: “Has anyone ever barfed in a Barre class? Just right here on the carpet? And then died from lack of core strength or a vicious butt cramp?”  It’s like thinking you might die, but in the most elegant way possible. When that last plie while standing on one’s tip toes makes you feel the burn like nothing else; or when you aren’t quite grasping the movements and feel like a water buffalo with a charley horse trying to give birth in a swamp…

…you just have breathe, and focus on a visual, chant a little inspirational mantra.  Mine is “Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress…Audrey Hepburn in a summer dress. Audrey. Hepburn. in. a. summer. dress“.

You may want to give up, just a little, or a lot. Tempting isn’t it? Go home, sit on the couch and get your sloth on. Let motivation drift, routines fade, lose track of progress. After all. Isn’t this all so hard? Wasn’t it easier when you filled out the stretchy pants and a proper lady bra? Don’t you miss the sweet, savory and cheeky treats? Temptation is such a salty seductress.  Here’s one: don’t you ever get sick of wishing things were different from the sidelines? Wanting to change, and not knowing where to begin? Or falling back into bad habits, and giving up at the first sign of struggle, failure or defeat?  Or, what if you just kept quietly pushing onward.  It’s about applying that same rationale towards food control to exercise. Commitment and consistency is key, sacrifice and just a smidgen of suffering is required if you want to see results. Ultimately, you have to like what you do, or it won’t really stick for the long haul. Frankly, after living with my thighs rubbing up on each other like a couple of horny teenagers—since, like the day I learned to walk—I need to get in there with some loving, yet brute force.

Between the Herbal One challenge and the Barre Kamloops class, I dropped five inches in one month–and yes, even off the junk in the trunk. For me, finding happy places to focus on my health has been as essential as the little black dress; having friendships steeped in that healthy lifestyle. To be surrounded by support and humor as you lose weight means gaining something far greater in return.

Images & GIF’s Courtesy of the Wide World Web etc.

 

 

Off the Wagon.

Whenever I feel discouraged in regards to weight loss, I just think about Oprah.  She has money, power, influence, accolades, luxury, celebrity; she can do anything, go anywhere– and do so like a boss. She has such a magic touch that there is an actual phenomenon known as “The Oprah Effect”.  All the while, she struggles to maintain a consistent weight.  This is a woman with access to trainers, chefs and all the support in the world–and it’s still the hardest thing ever. Why? Because food is delicious and gaining a whole mess of weight is quite possibly the easiest thing a person could ever do. Being Oprah, she turned her own weight-loss journey into another gold mine, chronicling all the ups and downs with Chef Rosie, and her trainer Bob. Although, it goes back further than that–to the late 80’s, when Oprah lost sixty-odd pounds, and then pulled it out onstage in a little wagon.

It’s a great visual. Grotesque, but great. Eventually that Radio Flyer’s worth of weight made it’s way back onto Winfrey’s waist line. Those pounds have been lost and found more times than anyone could count. Although, it was pretty well documented, I’m sure someone else could do that math.

Perhaps it means that you never really complete the mission. The finish line is like a mirage in the desert, or a horizon that ceases to come closer as you approach it. It’s a never ending quest to lose, and then maintain this new found physique. As I considered blogging about my own weight-loss journey, I thought of Oprah Winfrey and the fat wagon. Firstly, that it would be a fun name for a funk band, and secondly, that it was nerve-wracking enough to privately make these kind of changes, much less to shout your intentions from the roof top; inviting everyone to watch you fumble through. I didn’t want to ride in on my high horse and trumpet about my great successes…then fall off, and get trampled by said horse.

Six months into my weight loss program with Herbal One, and I’ve lost over twenty pounds and just under twenty inches.  By all rights, there should have been far more extensive changes by this point. I have the support, I have a plan, the supplements, the groundwork was laid for me to whittle down. It’s just me in my own way.  When I think about my weight-loss, I imagine water lapping along the shoreline. It goes in a little bit, and out a little bit, repeat, repeat, again, again. I could really use a low tide one of these days. It’s an arduous undertaking. Many, many changes must be made. I remember sitting down for my first meeting with owner Beth McBride and nodding profusely.  “NONE OF THIS WILL BE A PROBLEM”–I say, smugly, like a total idiot. Like any addict, I can stop anytime I want. By all means, make all the changes all at once.

I started the program after a lengthy road trip through Washington and Oregon and went to Las Vegas a week later. From there, more events, shows, mini-breaks and random outings.  So many opportunities to eat and drink.  Three weeks in New Zealand for Christmas. Sure, there was swimming and walking, but there was also so. much. cheese. Cold Ciders, gin and fresh lime, champagne, lemony French onion dip with salty potato chips. My in-laws are all foodies, and all make gorgeous, fresh meals. Of course, being on holiday, one eats 8-12 times a day, in between glasses of bubbles and the beach.

Drinking everything but water, nibbles around every corner, something decadent or deep fried around midnight.  Holiday is Latin for “seeking the next meal”. Pop into the cute café for a latte, stop at that sweet shop for an ice cream cone. Wander through a marketplace and eat all the samples. The montage that plays in my head of eating a variety of delectable goodies in a variety of foreign places makes me stare out the window wistfully.

New Zealand was a happy, relaxing time with family and friends. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to lose the shoes, send for our dog Bluebear and shack up in a little Kiwi Bungalow by the beach with Ben. In all honesty, returning home was a little challenging. I came back to some challenges that unfolded and worsened over time. I began to sink deeper and deeper into a rather serious depression. Ever the cheerleader, Beth says: “Weight-loss is something YOU can control!”. Let this be the thing that grounds you, gives you purpose. Which is a truly fabulous, remarkable idea–and it’s the truth. But, for anyone who has dealt with depression, it’s a bit like sinking in quicksand and lacking the wherewithal to stop it. Mix in crippling anxiety, and you’re sinking, too stressed to make a rational decision to better your situation. Quite the bloody predicament isn’t it?

My weight–that had crept up a wee bit while in New Zealand– was like an unmanned car with a brick on the accelerator. I was not in control. I was not happy. I also didn’t know how to stop this car or turn it around. How can we want these changes for ourselves and let precious days pass by wishing those things were for us but lamenting that they aren’t.

As Oprah would say–the ‘Ah-ha Moment’ that set me back on the path of better health was two-fold. The cancer diagnosis of a really good friend–which rattled me to the very core, was deeply influential in waking up from my deep dark doldrums. Also, sitting in the Herbal One office, like a sad sack, whining about how I keep setting health goals and not achieving them. This is my vicious cycle: I keep saying–oh this event/show/performance is coming up, what better reason to lose those pesky pounds? And then…the only thing I actually exercise is procrastination. Tomorrow I will exercise. Tomorrow I will eat better. Tomorrow I will drink less. Who am I? Scarlett O’Hara?

A month before another big event, I express disappointment that I hadn’t met my mark. Beth, in this cool, casual manner, says: “Well, there’s always next year”. Not sure if she was genuine, or if it was a sneaky parental tactic, some reverse psychology. Regardless, you could practically hear The Eye of the Tiger pumping through my veins. Next year? NEXT YEAR?? Who has that kind of time?

I let go of the shame, the regret, the ‘what if’s’ and made the resolution to start over. I got a fresh new food journal. I reassessed my habits and weaknesses. Started visiting Beth and Elisha at Herbal One more. Making teeny tiny changes. Living my life in 24-hour increments. More sleep. More water. I’ve taken to weighing myself every morning and tracking the patterns on a Pin-up Girl calendar that hangs in the bathroom.

I try to not let that number ruin my day, it is simply a matter of that number helping guide my decisions for the day.  It’s effective, and it’s now part of the routine. From the day I started that practice, I have seen significant changes. Leading up to the next event, I felt that there was a difference. Not just to my figure, but to my mindset.  I’m not really to roll out any ole wagon of fat–and I’m still living day to day, but the last month has been truly empowering. Revolutionary even. I’m active, I’m hydrated, I’m happier. I’ve even started running.  I had lost weight leading up to the Kamloops Film Festival, and continued to lose weight during the ten days.

How you ask??

  • A Bold Lip Color. Wearing chic red lipstick made me far more reluctant to nibble.
  • Eating beforehand is essential. (Who knew?)
  • Limit hard alcohol. I really enjoy a drunken grilled cheese, so I needed to maintain some level of sobriety to reduce my odds of losing my willpower.
  • I really enjoyed  Pinot Noir. Was like classy, buzz inducing velvet, and was better than anything morsel out there. Makes a great accessory, keeps your hand occupied.
  • A snugly fitted dress is key. It’s really easy to keep things loose and layered, and not notice any difference as you quietly consume a boatload of calories. I felt a nicely cinched waist kept me in check. 1) I didn’t want to be uncomfortable and 2) I wanted to wear this dress again.
  • Tell someone! I had so much support from committee friends, and that made life all the easier.
  • This is kind of a cheeky tip, but during the film festival, I packed a bottle of water and a Tupperware container of plain popcorn. On the day I watched all four movies, I brought along a small amount of dried cherries and dark chocolate as well.
  • Of course, the support from Beth and Elisha at Herbal One. I truly could not do any of this without them

By the Sunday, I was the lightest I’ve been on the program…and then gave in to post-festival laziness and ate some take-out Chinese food that my husband ordered and bloated like a MSG infused puffer fish. Damn you Chicken Chow Mein!!  Make a delicious, salty, buttery, soyasaucey mistake?  I hope you savored every bite, cause now you’ve got more work to do. Take a breath. Be kind to yourself, prepare some hot water and lemon, walk a little longer, run a little farther. Be like Oprah, and try again.  After all, tomorrow is another day.

Images Courtesy of Jen Randall Dustin &the fine folks behind the internet.

 

 

 

The Blahs, The Blues & The Bell Jar.

Can I just preface anything I write with…you know, I don’t have the descriptive capabilities to even preface these days.  Feeling a bit colorless.  I’m like Eeyore, but with Winnie the Pooh’s curves, and Rabbit’s irritability.

Usually I’m a big crier–commercials, novels, hunger, exhaustion. I’m like an over-sized toddler with the occasional grey hair. I’m feeling so blah that I’m not crying.  I wonder whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing. There’s something to be said about a good sob.  Although come to think of it, like an idiot, I suggested watching Marley and Me last weekend. That was a huge mistake. Low-grade depression and movies about dogs is a dangerous cocktail. What a deceptive film.  Jennifer Aniston is wearing cut off shorts and flip flops on the movie poster, how serious can things get? Who would have a leash that long? Boy, that puppy sure does looks mischievous, I’m laughing already. This is going to be a easy-breezy casual cinematic experience.

Sure it starts off all light and fluffy, but then it all comes crashing down.

We’ve had Bluebear for over a year now, and I’m such an unabashed dog mama. Since dealing with this bad batch of the blues, Bluebear has been especially comforting. Though I feel like we’ve seen this movie in the past, it totally impacted me on a whole other level.  I once saw Marley and Me on a plane. I was in the middle of a really painful break up, and I arrived at the airport feeling rather unhinged. What does one do when feeling emotionally unstable in a claustrophobic environment? Drink wine, brood quietly and lose yourself in a bad-good movie; light, blonde and bubbly. No love stories need apply.  I chose Marley and Me because the Aniston+Wilson+Labrador Retriever seemed to meet the aforementioned requirements to surviving a long flight while in a dreadful mood. To my broken hearted-relationship centered head space, I realized that this movie wasn’t about a dog, it was about a marriage. That’s how I remembered the movie; Benjamin and I even saw it early on in our relationship, and again that’s how I perceived the film.

Well, as a bonafide dog parent, I saw this movie very differently. Sitting next to a mountain of tissues, sobbing deeply with Bluebear tucked up next to me, snoozing soundly with her chin on my knee. After the movie ended, Benjamin and I were like-NEVER AGAIN! Never again will I let Marley and Me trick me into feeling more than need be. It was not the best complimentary flavour to my deepening winter blues.

To clarify-I’m functioning as a living, breathing human; but I’m not bursting with any kind of citrusy creative zest. After three weeks of  summertime in New Zealand, coming back to a Canadian January was always going to be a challenge. Facing some genuine unpleasantness upon my return made the transition back to reality all the harder.  Nothing takes the warmth of a post-holiday glow like bad news or unwelcomed change. Emotionally I’m somewhere between abandoned diva Jennifer Hudson in Dream Girls

…with a solid helping of angst ridden of Winona Ryder in Reality Bites when she gets fired from her job, spends all that money on the psychic hotline, loves and loses greasy ole Ethan Hawke and everything in between.

With nothing to do, she sloths about her house, sinking deeper and deeper into her doldrums.

Reality Bites :

It’s the worst feeling in the world, that stifling Bell Jar feeling, anxiety like walls closing in on you.  It’s as though you wish you could step outside of yourself to have a break from your own thoughts. It’s maddening to be sick of your own company. When you feel that low, it’s hard to motivate yourself.  How is it that when we feel depressed we turn away from the things that would ultimately make us feel better?  We resist socializing, exercise, expression. All becomes a vicious little ferris wheel of a sad little life. It’s an uphill battle to straight up Liz Taylor yourself back to the front lines.

If I had to describe my recent mood with one word, I’d just release a shrug and a sigh. Maybe a sour milk scented scrunched up face for emphasis.

Don’t worry. This is not a cry for help. Artistically speaking this is the equivalent of Britney Spears ‘Lucky’.

…or a very special episode of Blossom.

No shit. Alf is in heaven? That’s a huge relief. That’s one less thing to worry about.  My very special episode would be about the blues and the blahs. Some big time sads. Like a large American soda from a movie theatre sized cup of sadness. Nobody needs that much of anything. But seriously, can we discuss ‘Lucky’ for a quick sec? That was probably a bad example–that has “Cry for Help” written all over it–it should have been called Preface to a Shaved Head.

I can certifiably say that I’m not alone in feeling this way. I’ve spoken with a number of women that are slogging through life as if through very sticky mud. It’s a bland time all around. Blame it on January, it’s such an unpleasant month. I mean, January 1st, sure, it’s a new year, a new day, it’s still a shiny new toy; that fresh start, that clean slate. With a head full of resolutions, and a belly full of eggs benedict, possibly still drunk from last night, it’s easy to beam with a renewed sense of enthusiasm.

And then…actually…no, you don’t have this. What you have is tighter jeans from all that champagne and hollandaise. That glow of Christmas has faded; no more parties, no more leftovers…the anticipation of wrapped presents under the tree is now that toy you step on when coming around the corner.You have to go back to work, and just wander around the office like you’ve just been stung by a tranquillizer dart. You have the energy level of Han Solo immediately after being thawed out in Jabba the Hut’s chamber.

You just need to lay down…really wherever is fine.

Life is just better on holiday; I am simply a better person on a foreign beach with the sun on my face. Aren’t we all? In our daily lives we are trudging Clydesdales, on holidays we are majestic unicorns. That’s just science.  Upon my return, and in the weeks that followed, I felt like a jet lagged goldfish in extremely cloudy water, trying to do a complicated algebra exam in Latin.

It’s like every day is Blue Monday, where weather/debt/monthly salary/ time since Christmas/ time since failing our new year’s resolutions/low motivational levels all meet at the intersection of one’s existence and then crash into each other in one fiery explosion.

Where do you go from there? How do you get out from under the clouds, count your blessings and pick that chin up?  How can I be more like Taylor Swift and shake-shake it off? You feel bad for feeling bad, feel guilt for a first-world state of depression.  Roof over my head, food to eat, people to love, rights and freedoms, what more do you need? Why do I feel so sad? Now mid-to late February, the blues are just now starting to lift. At the moment, I’m taking things one day at a time. Setting teeny tiny goals that benefit my health and happiness. Admitting my sadness, getting some sleep, drinking more water, hugging my husband, cuddling my dog, writing, talking, listening, walking. Laughing whenever possible. Living life like Liz Taylor, but without all the husbands and diamonds. Knocking over the bell jar and gulping fresh air as if my life depends on it…because it does.

 Images Courtesy of Google etc.

 

Girl Talk

When I was not yet a teenager I had a good friend who was on the cutting edge of cool new trends.  She was obsessed with the board gameGirl Talk“, which was a slumber party staple in the late 80’s and 90’s.  It’s essentially a game of truth or dare, and the winner is the girl who gets fortune cards from all four categorizes: “Career”, “Marriage“, “Children”, and my personal favorite “Special Moments”.  If you bitch out on your truth or dare question, there was an enormous pack of “zit stickers” that you must wear somewhere on your face.  So as you see, it’s a feminist game for pre-teens–harmless fun!

girl talkAll Images Courtesy of Google

When not playing “Girl Talk”, “Dream Phone” was always waiting in the wings.  I didn’t dig this game as much.  I was too young to be interested in boys, and they sure as sweet Jesus weren’t interested in me.  The whole point is to figure out your secret admirer; and the big pay off was dialing a number and hearing a generic pre-recorded message: ‘I think you are special, let’s go to the sock hop together”

dreamphoneguys1So many choices! However is a twelve-year old girl to choose?  (Don’t they all look like nerdy date-rapists in training?)

Moving into the teen years with these kind of expectations jammed into my soft, malleable brain was dangerous.  It was all about the boys.  Seriously.  Does he like me?  Why doesn’t he like me?  Will I ever get asked to the sock hop? What is a sock hop anyway?  If I put the energy into boys into my schooling, I would have been a doctor by now.  But beyond schooling, I would tell my younger self that the most important thing are female friends, they are the tits, the business, and that is the thing you don’t want to mess up.  And of course you do, but that’s growing up–making an unholy mess of your life, and learning how to apologize and put the pieces back together.  You’ll do that about a dozen times before you finally get it right.

four friendsNow in my thirties, while I love my husband and the things we talk about; I crave female conversation.  We celebrated my 30th birthday in Monkey Mia, Australia, and spent the whole day on the beach, drinking champagne, swimming in the Indian Ocean.  And as you do on a hot summer day on a booze-soaked vacation–I chatted up other vacationers. I wound up chatting to several different women, and finally had a lengthy chat with this German traveler about books, films and life in general.  So refreshing.  I said to Ben later, “I mean, no offense to you…but it is so nice to talk to like-minded women”. To which my husband replied: “Alicia, I can be many things for you…but a ‘like-minded woman’ isn’t one of them”.  Very true.

Back in Canada, I have reconnected with some long-ago friendships, and it has rapidly become one of the most important things in my life.  Even though we have all settled down–most are married, many have children, we really have remained the same.  I am loving the frank and honest conversations.  Nothing is off limits: money, debt, goals, careers, ideologies and varying viewpoints.  In talking about the frustrations of marriage and motherhood; or how we’d like more children, or can’t have children, or don’t want children, the world opens up, and you feel as if you are heard.  Better yet, you feel understood.  These friendships is that they have grown up as well: we listen better, we care more, we are gentle and  considerate.  We appreciate the value of good old fashioned “girl talk”.

friends talking

Yesterday I was at my friend Trish’s house, visiting with our mutual friend Jenna, who was in from out of town.  I’ve known these two for many years.  In each other we have seen the best, the worst, and the very intoxicated.  Both  have had a child in the last year, and it was surreal to see them with babies in their arms.  The night before that, Trish and I texted about plans, and whether I should come by in the evening.  I text  “I have rehearsal at 6:30, but could nip out early and be over around 8:00”, thinking to myself “Gosh, that will be so late”.  To which Trish texts, “We are going to have to shoot for another time, I go to bed pretty early these days”.  Holy hell, I remember we wouldn’t even be ready to go out for cocktails at 8:00.  While sitting together the following morning, talking about every possible topic, we laughed about the texts being emblematic about the change in our lives.

So…yes, while maybe we’ve gone from this:

Sex-and-the-City-Movie-Poster-sex-and-the-city-the-movie-1261256_1061_1500

To this:

golden girls

We are perfectly at peace with that.