Monday, December 24, 2012

So this is what 34 looks like

So, I'm up at 6:30 this morning. Why? You ask, am I up on 6:30, if I have no children in my house and its my birthday? Good question! I'm throwing a turkey in the oven. I'm expecting people at my place, lots of people, which means lots of turkey, which means I had to carve that sucker in half...or rather, get the boyfriend to do it, which he had to do with a very sharp knife and hammer-chisel style, it was pretty funny, and anyhow, first half had to be in the oven pretty early. After this, it's onto my hair, nails and whatever else I need to do to make myself look birthday-ish.

I've been thinking a lot about 33 and the past year. It's been a good year. Thirty two sucked BIG TIME! Thirty three though, it marked a shift from surviving to thriving again. I started the year off taking a drastic measure to make myself happy, it worked, and it showed me that not only did I have the courage, but the determination to be happy again. I spent a lot of time trying to get into a post secondary program. I thought all was lost until the last couple of weeks of August when I received a letter from a college, asking me to come to an info session, there were still spots left. I boogied on down there, brought everything with me. I handed it in, then proceeded to harass some poor guy named Paul at the college for the following weeks and was accepted. Now whether they just thought I was awesome, or Paul begged them, is up for debate, nevertheless I'm back in school. That's been an interesting experience. It's ignited my passion again, it seems I'm pretty good at this learning stuff, to the tune of 4.0 peeps! Not bad for the second oldest lady in class. The scary thing is, a good bunch of my classmates are technically young enough to be my own kids.

The good thing is though, those extra years of life and actually being a mother, certainly come in handy in child development classes. The learning aside, I've also been blessed to make another group of great friends, which as you know is always a bonus for me. I've got to reconnect with old friends, which has also been awesome. It's nice hanging out with someone who can predict your next move and you can predict theirs based on a long history together. And really, there is no need for fronting because they know everything! Good news is, that you also know where they've hid all their bodies too, so they can't use that shit against you.

This year hasn't been without challenges. My mom was pretty seriously injured during a routine medical procedure, it wasn't looking very good for her, thankfully, despite many crappy things I have to say about that hospital, their surgeons were pretty damned good and she's on the road to recovery. As we all predicted, she'll outlive us all. She also has quit smoking after 50+ years which has been awesome. I've had to face many personal and divorce related challenges. I've had to face some of my worst fears, but the good news I did, and it turns out, the big bad wolf wasn't so bad after all. (I sound like a Franklin story).

But overall, when looking back, I can say that 33 has seen me happier than I've been in a long time. I have a sense of personal achievement that I haven't had in years. I've been able to sort through a mega mess and tell the tale and am now seeing the light at the end of the tunnel. Not sure what lies there, but I know its there and that the rest of the tunnel has rest stops, Starbucks and Coach, so its all good.

I hope for the rest of you, you next year will be wonderful, full of personal achievement, plenty of friends and lots of optimism. Most of my readers are dear friends, each supporting and loving in their own unique way and I wouldn't be here with a smile on my face without you. Thank you so much and have a very merry Christmas and a happy new year.

Wednesday, November 28, 2012

My step by step guide to apologies.

Apologies are interesting things. Most people seem to think that it's words and moving on. Sometimes they are. When you bump into someone and no one is hurt, a simple "sorry" is all that is needed. Us Canadians love to apologize for that, even when someone bumps into us!

However lots of times, the offense is a little more serious than a bump. For example, if you smash someone's bumper, a simple sorry isn't going to cut it, your insurance will cover it, and you will pay through the nose with your insurance. Hurting people's feelings, sometimes a heartfelt discussion and showing someone that you are listening to their pain that you've caused is what's needed. However in order for that to happen, you actually have to listen to them and then act accordingly in the future.

I try hard not to hurt my friends and family. If I've learned I have, I make note and try never ever to do that again. A friend of mine once told me about how I hurt her feelings, this was nearly a year ago, I have since done everything in my power to avoid even straying into that territory, because I don't want to do it again. In fact I want to do the opposite and try to do so.

Apologies to me aren't simply just words. They are acts. They are the act of listening and understanding what the other person has gone through and what it has taken for them to simply be there to hear out your apology. It's about understanding and trying to avoid doing the same thing or further damage. Now I'm not saying that you should be bending over backwards because you failed to notice your sister's dogs new hairdo, but if you have genuinely hurt someone and you genuinely feel bad about it, act on that.

What is worse than not acting on it, is offering a bunch of words and the illusion that you are listening and understanding. Then re-offending. The person whom you've apologized to, is opening up, making themselves vulnerable again to you, and if you're not willing to act on it, in fact doing something that will likely hurt that person again, you've basically thrown a sucker punch.

The first part of acting on it, is realizing if you're capable of doing so. Are you capable of empathy? Do you really want to? Do you actually feel bad? Assuming the person doesn't want your head on a platter, but would like you to say not hurt their feelings again, are you capable of that? Answer yourself honestly, because if you're not, than really, either apologize and get the heck out of their lives, or just don't bother.

The second part is listening. This is a HUGE part of the apology, the main part really. If you are not willing or capable of listening to that person and how they hurt, how you've hurt them, how you may hurt them in the future, than, really, it's a waste of time. Yes, some things may be unreasonable, and now is the time to mention it, but at least if you're there, you're listening. There are about a million and one basic counseling courses you can take from any continuing education program at most post secondary institutions. These are great for teaching you how to listen. Some people can do it naturally, many need to learn.

Then act on it! Really, don't apologize, and then hurt the person again. The problem is with apologies is that it makes the person vulnerable again, they believe that you're genuinely sorry and come to a reasonable conclusion that you're going to try and make an effort to be more mindful in the future. I sometimes think it's far easier to just move on with your life, expecting never to receive an apology and fortifying yourself for that, than to have one, let your guard down a little and BOOM!  So not only are your feelings hurt, but you feel stupid for not being on the defensive and expecting that this person is going to be mindful in the future. And for the person offering the apology, you just set yourself back big time, so don't do it unless you're willing to act on it. This means that you have to have empathy, have had to listen and are able to compute that "Gee, based on what X has told me, this action here, is likely to hurt them and I can easily avoid it, so I won't do it."

Anyhow, this was an early morning rant (published much later) just brought on by a bunch of things over the weekend. You can colour me disappointed, but it is a life lesson in that if I'm being apologized to, I'm going to do my darndest to suss out that the person doing so has these three things in mind.

Monday, November 12, 2012

A year? A YEAR???

It's hard to imagine in so many ways that I've been with my wonderful boyfriend for a year now. In some ways, it's just flown by and I've barely noticed, in other ways, it's like we've been together forever because he can take one look at my face and deduce the wheels are turning for good or bad.

How do you summarize a relationship in a blog post? I'm having troubles. Lets put it this way, last November, I kissed a man, someone I instinctually felt safe with, who I knew would never hurt me intentionally. I would always be able to trust him, not from some romantic point of view, but that his character would not allow for him to behaviour dishonourably to me. I knew right away that I wanted to be exclusive with him. I was terrified, absolutely terrified. The last time I had started a relationship, I was 14. I had no self confidence, I was convinced that my lack of self esteem and being on guard would drive him away. I called my mom weekly it seemed in tears telling her I wasn't ready for this. My insecurity led to this need to be reassured constantly. How the man is still sane is a mystery. Being accepted for who I am, neurotic tendencies and all is also strange. The baggage, the insecurities, the swearing, the size 14 body, it's all taken in, along with all the good that is me. And it's not only just words and baubles, its backed up with actions.

Despite all of this, the walls came down. It is a strange thing when logic is telling you to stop being a scared ninny, there is NOTHING to be afraid of, and the scared ninny Joys running around in my head were making more "sky is falling" proclamations than you'd hear at a GOP convention. When my insecurity isn't running this ship, there is little more that I am confident in than his love for me, and my ability to trust him. That in itself is such a strange feeling. While I loved my husband when married, trust was never high, I don't know if that was a self fulfilling prophecy or just my Spidey Sense tingling, but my fears were validated in spades. So being able to trust so completely is very new for me, and insanely new 1 year ago.

He's tall, dark and handsome. He kills bugs and reaches high things. He adores my boys and they adore him. They get jealous when I get to see him and they do not. He's sweet and gentle, we are opposite in so many ways, but somehow being able to cut through all of that to realize that we have the same values, and he has an amazing character that I've yet to hear one person fault him for. Something he is proud of, and should be. Our values are simple, but they are important to us and the fact that we've found someone who shares them is beyond lucky, and I'm forever grateful for that.

I laugh again, I enjoy things I haven't in a long time. I love play fighting, tickling with my mate, I love kissing again, I don't like being in his proximity without being snuggled up to him. He texts me every day we don't see each other just to let me know he's thinking of me, it's a small thing, but I cannot tell you how monumental it is. I don't feel taken for granted. We cook and work together. I learn things from him, he learns things from me. I'm allowed to get sick or have surgery and I'll be shooed to bed, despite my best efforts to take over. We bring out good things in each other, our opposites making influences on our ways of life.We have fun with the kids, they have fun with us. They see me happy again, laughing, being silly, despite being just as exhausted and overstressed as I was when I was married. I'm a different person, a better person, for them and myself and that wouldn't be possible without my boyfriend. This has been a fantastic year, and I cannot wait for the many more to come.

Who are you calling fatass?

Okay, I was called a fatass on the streetcar last week. I promptly filed that under "so important, I forgot about it for 5 days", but it is interesting for social commentary. My English professor, would die if she saw this, because it has a hell of a lot of repetition.

I am a fatass. I'm a size 14, I take up my fair share of space, especially when loaded with a wool winter coat (which is fabulous by the way, EVERYONE loves this coat) and a backpack...not so fabulous, but since Coach doesn't make a backpack to accommodate my schoolwork, I'm SOL. But that isn't what makes me a fatass. What makes me a fatass, is that I'm unapologetic about it.

People in today's society seem to treat plus sized people like we don't deserve space. That since we're fat, it's our own fault and therefore, it sucks to be us. So if we should happen to ask politely that you, yanno actually move out of your aisle seat, so I can vacate mine, without caving your head in from my backpack, basically, you get to call me a fatass under your breath for the inconvenience.

I am at the smaller end of the spectrum of fatasses, so I imagine that in a society where thinner is better, people who aren't, and who have the audacity to think that they are still deserving of respect, are treated pretty shabbily.

I may be a fatass, but I'm a fatass who works and loves hard. This fatass has a legion of awesome friends, all of whom would be willing to smack said woman on the streetcar if I asked. Not everyone has that, not nearly enough people. So essentially, I'm a fatass who is loved. I love people. I like to help people, my life has been spent in social services and being a fatass mother, who has some pretty freaking awesome boys for all my efforts. I'm a fatass who has gone through hell the past two years, and has come out the other side saying "Is that all you got?" As my peers get to know me at school, they are astounded by all I have gone through and still manage to walk on with a smile on my face. Fatass has a great family, the bills paid, food on the table, two awesome cats and amazing hair. I'm a pretty darn smart fatass, or at least my school seems to think so, I'm sitting around a 90% average, and that's after missing 3 weeks of school to take care of a very very sick mother and kids. Fatass also has a fantastic boyfriend, who by the way, loves her fat ass.

But you know what is best about this fatass? I'm a happy fatass. I don't need to call someone a derogatory name based on their body because of a nanosecond of having to move a bit. I don't feel the need to try and shame someone like that. I don't like going out and trying to hurt people and I can't imagine people who do, are very happy people. I'm confident. I'm proud of myself, I may have body image issues, but one thing that is not lacking in my body is strength because it keeps getting up after everyone smackdown. So I'm not going to be ashamed of it. I'm not going to apologize for taking up space, because I'm a good and deserving person, and if that offends you, or somehow threatens you and your very narrow view of body image, what is proper, what is correct for a plus sized woman, well, you know what you can kiss, and lucky for you, I have plenty of it!

Thursday, October 18, 2012

Can't think of a title

my mom is in the icu, my son is at home with pneumonia. Thankfully he is not in serious condition, though disturbingly lethargic, my mom however is in serious condition.

I'm bouncing back and forth like a ping pong ball. I'm nursing my own infection, I try not to touch my mom. The stress kills my appetite and I spend much of the time shaking, whether that is because of low blood sugar or stress, I don't know.

I'm exhausted. I haven't slept a full night in I don't know how long. And when I hit the bed, I'm overcome with emotion and spend another hour crying, feeling guilty, feeling overwhelmed. Last night I had a moment where I was sobbing and mid sob, I just stopped. It was a very strange sense of calmness. It's like part of my brain took over and shut down all emotion.

It's funny, I was fine until my tipping point came in the form of a letter froma professor requiring proof that my mom is in the icu. I lost my shit and just started crying.

I'm angry, I'm frustrated. I'm frustrated that this process is taking so long. I hate myself that I can't spend as much time with my son as I want to, as he needs me. I'm angry that the only people here are me and my support. It makes me feel very blessed and very alone at the same time.

I cry when people are kind to me, even the cheerful cashier. I cried when my former inlaws upon hearing showed up at my door rolling up their sleeves to help, despite being seriously germ phobic. I cry when my boyfriend brings me some water, when my bestie sits beside me with my mom knitting. I cry at the sacrifices people have made and are prepared to make.

This is rambling, but I have to get it out. I know it's very self centred, but that is the point. I've gotten a brief moment while my mom is getting an arterial line in because they can no longer draw blood the conventional way. Now it's time to multitask again.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Thou shalt not vote with thy hormones

So if you haven't been paying attention to the news, you're missing some important information that is getting Canadian politics all in a titter. The Liberal party who has been struggling to get an identity, a face, a brand if you will since Chretien is about to get a lifeline. We all knew it was only a matter of time, but the Liberals are about to get an opportunity to elect a leader who promises something that makes Canadian political nerds like me very excited. He promises some very interesting Canadian politics. If you haven't figured it out, or googled it by now, Justin Trudeau is about to announce his intentions to run for Liberal leadership. Now if you're sitting there scratching your head and thinking "uh, so?" then I suggest you first slap yourself and then google Canadian history and previous Prime Ministers.

So, on a completely superficial level, holy moly! What a looker! Think about it Canada, if we were to elect him as Prime Minister, forget any and all great ideas he might have, we'd have the hottest world leader in the world! Possibly history! Seriously!! Okay, well, it is superficial, but lets be honest in this day and age, seeing him as a candidate on the ballot is going to get a lot of people who wouldn't take a second look at politics, take a second look. Which can either be good, or horrifically bad.

Now as you all know, I'm a supporter of the NDP. What I really liked about our late leader Jack Layton was that he engaged everyone and got the NDP to appeal to a new group of voters, which is younger people. Now God willing the NDP can do that again, but I'm not holding my breath. Whereas Jack Layton was a household name whether you were NDP or not, I had to stop and think for a second the name of Thomas Muclair and this is my party. Even though Jack had children who were older than me, he was able to engage a crowd much younger than me, something that older politicians don't seem very capable of these days. I think the last "young" politician elected to lead a party was Pierre Trudeau.

So Trudeau, (Justin) simply by the fact that he is not 50+ will automatically turn some heads of the younger crowd. I think that is a good thing, I mean, the younger crowd should be engaged in politics because it's important to vote and all that, but at this point, I'm happy they come by any way you can get them. It will be great to hear a new round of voices engaged and thinking further into the future than previous politicians (not Jack though lol). So I am truly excited by this. I have to admit, I'm more drawn to a younger leader. I admire the legacy that PET left behind in regards to Canadian human rights and I'm confident that his son believes wholly in them, but I'm also eager to hear things not just about maintaining our country at the status quo, but improving it exponentially because we have that potential. That is what Jack embodied, that is why us younger folks were so excited by him, that is my hopes for Trudeau, if it is, I, and I'm sure many other people who normally vote NDP and are my age might have a bit of a crisis. (This is your warning bell NDP).

And of course if the Liberals did elect Trudeau as their leader (they'd be stupid not to) they certainly would energize a lot of the older voters who are red or orange. God knows my mom is ready to gear up Trudeaumania the Sequel. Really, I think Trudeau is the Liberals best hope and by extension my best hope for getting rid of Stephen Harper and a good chunk of his cabinet (especially those doofuses who are trying to mess with a woman`s right to choose!). It will breathe some much needed life and energy into the Liberal party and I expect there will be plenty of newer and younger faces throwing their names in the hats in the different ridings.

Overall though, Canadian politics are about to get a lot more interesting. I can`t wait to see and hear what will transpire over the next little while and I`ll be counting the days til 2015.

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

Religious rights

Okay, my panties are in a knot again. Seriously, I really, really dislike a huge bunch of religious people. I am religious. I am a Christian. I believe with all my heart that two things Christ has said is what needs to be followed. You've heard me rant about it. One is loving God. Der! Of course. The second is loving others. This is something a whole bunch Christians seem to have problems understanding. For me, it's pretty simple, love others as I would myself. It doesn't mean I have to AGREE with their choices, the life, their fashion sense, their values, the fact that they love cilantro and I think it's vile, but it does mean that I have to give them the same amount of love as I would myself. Now lets be realistic, love for myself means that I'm going to buy myself Coach, I'm not about to do that for a stranger, so lets call it respect.

So, I'm straight. I don't care who anyone else loves so long as its consensual. So if a 90 year old man falls in love with an 18 year old gal, I might raise an eyebrow, but we all agree 18 is old enough for consent and if she's in love with someone old enough to be her great grandfather, well go for it. It wouldn't be MY choice, I might not even agree with it. I might have to be exposed to them kissing, their wedding, the fact that the rights we agreed to as a nation says that they are protected to fall in love and build a life together. I might have to learn that in school, their rights are protected and just because I might not think it's cool, does not make it icky, or gross, or unnatural or immoral and that I don't have the right to treat anyone that way according to those rights afforded them. guess what? All of that, does NOT violate my religious rights. I still have a right to go to church, I have a right to take my kids to church, to indoctrinate and program them as I please. I can teach them nothing but religious stuff from the time they come home til bedtime and so on and so forth. It does not prevent me from thinking that May/September romances are icky. What it does prevent me from doing is violating their rights, but guess what? If loving thy neighbour is demoted to respecting thy neighbour, the Bible itself prevents me from violating their rights.

So what has caused all this ranting? Well for those in my great province of Ontario, there has been some new anti-bullying law which of course affects Ontario's PUBLIC schools. In such it's not okay to be mean to people because of various things, but lets be frank, the hot button issue for religious people is LGBT rights. So of course, in reaction to this law, a bunch of religiously conservative parents have their panties in a knot and are forming groups and writing letters asking that they have the right to be notified and so choose to withdraw their kids from classes if the teachings conflict with their religious views. Here's an article if you want to verify my nutshell.

Some of it includes, sexuality classes, placing environmentalism above religion (ummm, I'm pretty sure in the Bible that we're commanded to take care of the Earth properly-piss poor job we're doing at it, I think environmentalism and religion, much like social justice and religion go hand in hand, but completely different, wait, I really need to know, how does one put environmentalism above religion? Is there something in the Bible that I'm not aware that says, let's allow Enbridge to destroy Canada? Recycling is unholy? Don't buy a hybrid? ). I can understand about sex ed classes to a degree, many parents want to give it a more personal touch and add a good hit of values along with the raw data around sex ed, fair enough.

But the thing that is really pissing me off about in their standard form letter one of the requests is to be notified if the school plans on discussions or portrayals of homosexual/bisexual conduct and relationships and/or transgenderism as natural, healthy or acceptable.

Acceptable...You know what? You're damn right it acceptable! Because YOU don't happen to agree with it does not make it unhealthy, unnatural or unacceptable. BTW, you cannot bitch about the school teaching evolution and then go on to deem what is natural or unnatural. You don't like homosexuality, I get that, you don't think it's right, fine. But if you are to operate in public society in Canada, and Ontario, you get to operate within the code that we as a democracy decided that these groups have rights, and one of those rights is to not be treated differently or bullied by people who simply disagree with the way they live life. If you are attending a PUBLIC school, you get the privilege of education without the private school rates, but you also have the responsibility of treating people with respect. Thinking that someone is unhealthy, unnatural or unacceptable is not very respectful. If I were to say that about any of these groups railing about their rights, they'd be the first hopping up and down.

That said though, back to the Bible, if loving thy neighbour is simply about respect, you're getting a one giant fail. You might have been able to escape the bulk of my wrath if you just stopped about teaching the kids about homosexuality period. But to label it as something unnatural/unhealthy/unacceptable, you have shown your colours and your values, and while I cannot impede upon your rights, and I won't, I can say that I don't like your values, they're disrespectful and if you're Christian (not purposely excluding other religions, just speaking to what I know) to me, you're totally missing the mark of loving others as you would yourself.

As someone with children in PUBLIC school, I'm putting you on notice, I will be fighting to protect the rights of mine and other children. If you try to impede on them with bullying, lack of respect or whathaveyou in my vicinity, you're on notice, I'm going to be there. I'm sending my kids to a PUBLIC school so they can learn about diversity, respect, other points of view and learn to disagree without disvaluing (new word) them as a person for how they are WIRED (in caps in case anyone still thinks sexuality is a choice). My job in the home is to teach them values, which usually falls in line with my religion. My job as a parent is to instill good values in them that can withstand the mere introduction of another way or life or point of view. If I have to shield my kids from the fact that some people think treating LGBT people different is okay, I'm not doing my job. Because chances are, they are going to come across people who thinks its okay to treat others differently, meanly even based on their race, sex, gender, class, ability, language, nationality, sexuality and even religion, and I have to do my job in instilling values that it's not okay to do that. Exposing my kids to values other than my own based on my religion is NOT a violation of my religious rights, it's life as we know it in a very diverse community. Do not fall into the simplistic thinking that you have a right to be shielded in public from other people, that is not a right and it sure as hell isn't a right that supercedes the rights of others to simply exist and be treated the same as you or any other human in school, work, city, province, country.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

Pass it on

I went out last night with my boyfriend...beau...honey. I'm having a hard time finding an appropriate word for him, boyfriend sounds so 13, beau sounds like something out of a bad novel, honey sounds way too cute, what is the appropriate terminology to use for your partner (which sounds so politically correct, there's nothing wrong with that, but it doesn't feel very intimate either) when you're an adult that doesn't make you sound like a teenager or a Harlequin? Anyhow, side rant done, we went up to a small town of his youth to listen to his cousin's band play. As usual, I got gussied up and we set off.

Now personally, I don't really believe all that hype that people from small towns are friendlier. I mean maybe they are, but when you stick out like a sore thumb as I always seem to do, I haven't received treatment much different than the anonymous living of the big city. That said, last night, folks were awesome. I received compliments from 4 different women, complete strangers about my appearance. I don't usually feel all that good about my appearance. I put a lot of effort towards it, but it's a fake it so I can make it sort of thing. It's getting better, I just have a lot of deprogramming to do. Anyhow, the compliments, they were totally out of nowhere and they were sweet and they made me feel extra good about myself. Now outside of my boyfriend, somehow compliments from men does not seem the same. I've only received one in the past year from a stranger that didn't feel like it was loaded with something else other than goodwill, I dunno, compliments from women, just carry a different meaning for me.

So I got to thinking, why don't we do that more? I mean, there are a million times a day when I notice something about another woman that I like. Her hair, her tattoos, her purse. I mean, they're superficial things, but sometimes that superficial boost can mean a bit if you're feeling a little awkward or not as super awesome as usual. And really, like giving presents, is there nothing better than to see someone made spontaneously happy? Yeah, sure, I bet some gals will think I'm a weirdo, but what harm is that to me? So I'm going to try an experiment. I'm going start paying genuine compliments to random strangers if time and space allows. See what happens? I'm sure I'll feel better if they are pleased, and I hope they will, and maybe that whole butterfly flapping their wings across the ocean, make it will be paid forward and so on and so forth. It's worth a shot.

Monday, August 27, 2012


Well the good news is, I'll be starting school fulltime in September. The bad news is...well I don't think there is bad news, maybe packed lunches, but I'll be on a path towards a new life, new career. I'm supported by wonderful people, looking forward to learning and applying myself and lunches with the gals now that I'm downtown.

It does require a change though. September is full of them and though I've been baptized by fire in learning how to navigate change, it still makes me anxious. The biggest change would be having my kids spend an extra night at their fathers and not being a stay at home mother anymore. I don't like being away from my kids. Well, I like the break, the sleeping in, the freedom to make something filled with mushrooms for dinner and not hearing complaints, but I think like most mothers, they want their chicks close by. It hurts looking into their rooms and seeing empty beds at times, sending them off, kissing their cheeks and knowing I'm not going to hear about their days or see their silly antics. I don't like missing out on parts of their lives, and filling in the rest, well there never really seems to be enough time.

I'm hoping school will keep me busy enough to distract me from their absence. It's also a significant change in my identity. Being a mother will no longer be my only responsibility. It will be my main responsibility, but I'll have papers, placements and jobs to tend to. I'm pretty excited looking forward to it as I've always been a hard worker and good student, but scared would also be a good word to use too.

I have had to change a lot over these past 18+ months. I recently made an impression on someone who got to meet me at the start of my separation. Everyone tells me I have changed, but I remember my interactions with that person very vividly and so did she. After hearing me express myself in a very passionate, but controlled and assertive way, she congratulated me on coming so far. I was so passive once upon a time, a person lost in their marriage and kids. It was safe there, no risks really...well, none that I knew of. LOL To see me then and now, there are two different people and that interaction really drove it home for me.

I look different, carry myself differently, assert myself, pursue, challenge and persevere now. While I still feel that person tug back at me frightened every time I have to go and knock some heads, I still have to go and knock some heads and am starting to get pretty good at it. Had I not done that last week, I wouldn't be preparing for school this week.

So hopefully, the transition from strictly mother to Supermother will go a little more easily than I anticipate. It's another step forward, a positive one for sure, a big one. The same person who had congratulated me, told me a while back that this is a good thing, that I was giving my kids a mother who had a little something going for her, who had more depth and a life of her own. I took that to heart. I'm not saying being a stay at home mom doesn't give other people that, but its not enough for me anymore. It was a wonderful time and I do hope in the future to have a job where I can still spend oodles of time with my kids, but they also need a mother who has a fulfilling purpose in life. Again, not saying that that excludes SAHMs, but I want something different now.

So wish me luck, watch out for me in downtown Toronto, I'll be the one with fabulous hair, a Coach satchel, school books, a chai latte, and likely running late for class.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Picking up that Lightsaber.

It's been a long week. It started off with me feeling pretty darned invincible. I've had a tough adjustment over the summer, but now that that is done and I've survived not too worse for wear. In fact, I'm feeling pretty good.

I came to a realization on Sunday that I had no more reasons to be afraid and that is a really good feeling. It's removed all this clutter of emotions in my life and has allowed me to see a little more clearly. I'm not acting out of fear or anger anymore, but out of a place of advocacy and strength. It doesn't mean I cannot be angry, but I think more it addresses that I'm angry for the right reasons, and thus picking and choosing my battles more carefully and getting into them with a confidence I've long forgotten I had.

I realized that I need to heal. I can't change the past. People think that healing must equate with forgiveness, I thought that way too, but after reading a few interesting books on the topic, now I don't necessarily think so. Healing right now for me is finding things that work for the kids AND myself so that I can get to a good head space. I'm looking for reasonable solutions to a very large and complex wound for myself and really, after a lot of thinking up at the cottage, I just need time and space.

Kind of cliche isn't it? But when this whole thing hit the fan, all I wanted to do was to be on the other side of the planet. I've said it a million times. If I didn't have kids, I'd be somewhere pretty far away right now. So, not so much going to happen. I've decided to carve that time and space out for myself, and it's really quite simple, my home. It's my sanctuary, it's the place where I come to rest, eat, have gatherings, have babies (hey! I did have a baby in this house!), make decisions, make friends, cry, get frustrated, well you get the picture. Bottom line is, I deserve this space and its not an unreasonable thing to want. Fortunately, I have that 99% clinched.

The past is something tricky, it sneaks up on you, triggers you, makes an mountain out of a molehill sometimes. It shapes and develops you, makes you the person you are, but it also drags you down. I think the past should be used to empower you, every crappy situation, every hurt, every disappointment, if nothing more comes from those other than the fact you`ve survived, you`re still ahead of the game. If you`ve survived, made some new friends, rekindled with old friends and learned a thing or two about yourself, you`re aces, whether you`re the perceived winner or not. And I have all that. I hung out with a friend from the past this week and I sat there wondering what happened to me, I was a crazy powerful dynamo, but then it dawned on me, that dynamo is still there, in both of us really, it`s not like that spark was stolen or anything, I`ve got to direct those memories to remember how that firebrand operated, make a few tweeks and reignite. The past week my mantra has been ``I will not be broken!`` and it seems to be taking. 

Also not being afraid has taken away that ``thing` that has been tinging all my happy experiences. It`s something that just spoils my full enjoyment of life and happy events. For the first time since this all happened, I thought of a scenario that could happen in the future and thought, `yeah, I imagine that can happen`.

The downside to all this, is that now that my body has gotten rid of a bunch of emotional things bogging me down, it`s like it`s decided to implode. I once had a really old van, we were driving it to Ottawa and the radiator seemed to be going. So on our way blasting the heat, with the windows open, thank god it was winter or spring at least. It seemed fine once we got there, but just as we were starting back to Toronto, it acted up again. The minute we put it in park in the driveway, it just started spewing all this green liquid and made some godawful noise. The van had endured a long journey, but once crossing the finish line, it collapsed. That`s what my body is physically doing, the stress has taken its toll, so now its time to start treating the old girl right and minimizing the stress, again, another battle, but a good one.

I don`t know, fear just takes its toll, a very wise man...thing said `fear leads to anger, anger leads to hate, hate leads to suffering`` and everyone in that story who was a hater ended up pretty much horrifically dead or maimed, so I`ve decided not to follow that path.I rather like living...intact, whether figuratively or literally, you choose.

May the force be with you.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Bloody Brilliant!

So I got into a conversation with the oldest. He's been watching some sitcom for kids with a lot of British accents. I watched a couple of episodes to make sure it was age appropriate and it seemed to pass.

So we were in the car and I mentioned an idea I had and the oldest said,

"Mommy, that's bloody brilliant!"

"Ummmm, okay, thanks honey, but we need to talk about the word bloody, it's not really a polite word"

"But the kids on the show use it."

"I know, but sometimes things on TV aren't appropriate for real life."

"What does it mean anyhow?"

Cripes, I don't know how to explain that one.

""Um, I guess it means bloody, and it's not an uber bad word, but it's not one you should go repeating."

"But Mommy, they're speaking the same language as Mrs. A"

"Right, but you've never heard Mrs. A use that word right?"

"No, but I've heard YOU use that word when you're driving."

Well, wasn't that bloody brilliant of him. Game, set, match.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

So Yeah, Ding Dong

I've taken up selling Avon and some Pampered Chef. I put up a chirpy little blurb on it on my facebook, without much thought. I said that I was doing it for college. About an hour later, I thought "That was stupid, I have money." So I started thinking about why I wanted to do it, and why it means a bit to me.

One, I'm a Capricorn. Hear me out! I have a nice cushion, but for a Capricorn, that cushion is never cool unless we keep stuffing it with feathers. I mean if we had our way, the cushion would be the size of Taiwan, and likely then we wouldn't rest. I am always preparing for worst case scenario and quite honestly, live in fear of running out of coin, not to the point that I stop myself from buying something nice, but something I worry about often.

Two and probably more importantly is that I need a sense of independence and if bringing in a few extra dollars a month for the time being will do that, so be it. I'm going to give it a try. I've always had a job since I was 14, whether it was delivering flyers, working as a barista, a counselor, a mother, I've always had a purpose. Right now, not so much.

I have classes I take and God willing school next year. I've had a setback with the university I applied to. My application was cancelled back in January. The reason, I was told was because I was overqualified for the 4 year program and had to do the fast track program. I was two days out of surgery and didn't really have the strength, morale or energy to really fight it. But recently, I started doing some investigation and found out that I qualified for the 4 year program, that they require another diploma, not the one I already have. So I started rattling some cages and admittedly dropped a name, in passing, but it worked. So when I apply again in September, I am to call the coordinator. Who knows, fingers crossed. I also have another coordinator who called me personally from their program, I'm supposed to get in contact with her come September. So the horizon looks good, but as someone who needs a job to really feel a purpose in life, I've been feeling really crummy and unsuccessful lately.

So, I'm going to give this a go. I figure I'm pretty personable, and while I'm a little more apprehensive about selling Avon, I know I can sell Pampered Chef because...well because, if you've ever eaten at my place, you'd know. (Yes, I'm completely vain about my cooking and I used Pampered Chef products A LOT!)

So long rambling story short, I'm rebuilding my life, bit by bit. This is another stepping stone, it's to give me some purpose, some distraction, a little bit of coin, but hopefully and mostly, another boost of confidence.

Check out my new AVON e-Brochure!

Check out my new AVON e-Brochure!: Hi Everyone!

Yep, I'm selling Avon. I'm also going to be selling Pampered Chef. Why? Because while waiting for school to start, I'm driving the kids nuts and they want me out of the house. Muahahahaaaa. Also because I do actually use products from both companies a lot. I love Avon Mascara, lipsticks and Haiku perfume. They also have a great selection of costume jewelry, kids stuff, gadgets for the kitchen, skin and hair care items, along with quite a bit more. It's a lot different from the Avon when I was a kid.

Pampered Chef is another one. I love it. I joke between me and my friends, we probably have the entire collection. I cannot say enough about their stone wear, or their garlic presses. This one has lasted me roughly 3 years No garlic press has ever lasted that long in my hands. The best part about this is, if you host a party, I come and cook for you, you get to play with my kitchen toys and you get a discount based on how much your guests purchase. At my first party, I had maybe 10 gals over and I got over $300.00 in discounts.

I know it sounds like a bit of a spiel, but it's something I'm excited about and if you ever have a hankering for any of these products, I hope you local friends will keep me in mind.

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Because I can!

So there's a rumour at my kid's school...well not so much a rumour, but just how I'm regarded by some of the mothers. Like any sort of world, there is a clique and in many parts of society, those cliques are mean and way too nosy for their own good. One day a mother from this clique hoping to stir up some drama came to inform me that the other mothers thought my style of dress was inappropriate and that they've seen men over at my house during the evening. My first thought was the song "Harper Valley PTA". I didn't bite, I didn't struggle to justify all these men at my house (all of whom drive the same car with the same exact license plate and look very much alike) or my style of dress. But for those who don't know me, it's rare to see me in jeans, I only wear track/yoga pants if I'm going to work out and you bet your bippy that I'm not spending $90.00 on them! I almost always wear heels and I wear dresses and skirts, a lot. Most of them are knee length, I have a couple that skirt an inch or two above my knees. I'm not big on cleavage, and I love those stylist cardigans, so I almost always have one on. My hair is usually done and I normally have my makeup on, which consists of eyeliner, mascara and some tinted lip balm. Anyone else, might assume that I'm going to work at an office, but apparently, my style is inappropriate. Holy shit! I forgot my most important item of purse, which is almost always Coach (I have a slight addiction).

So this clique has two moms who really don't like me. I had a run in with one years ago when my dog had the nerve to poop in front of her home, I scooped, but that set her off. I apologized and kept on my way despite her trying to bully me into God knows what. I guess she carries a grudge. Considering she nearly hit me and the dog to confront me with her van, I have a bit of one too. So she and her friend not too long ago came up to ask me why I dressed the way I did, because they wanted to "understand" my need to show off my body and wear heels as they were concerned feminists. Yup! Again, I didn't bite. I just said that I dressed this way because I liked it and kept on moving. Of course I have a mouthful to say, but instead of giving the satisfaction of the drama, I'll let you guys know what is on my mind.

"Dear other mothers. You asked me today why I dressed the way I did. Why I always wore heels that were meant to subjugate women. Why I felt the need to show off my body in form fitting clothes and skirts. One mom thought it was dishonourable to women's bodies to dress the way I do. Well let me tell you something about my body. This body has seen me through a tough life. With an abusive father and a mother who struggled just to make ends meet. I grew up downtown in a neighbourhood where you had to learn how to defend yourself quick, or run very fast. As I'm sure you've seen me walk with my two left feet, defense became my only option. I also had to do this on a pretty poor diet thank you very much. Poverty doesn't allow for a lot of organic, locally grown fruits and veggies, nor filtered water, a billion supplements and yoga times 900.

My body has seen me through 10 years on non stop infections from every sort of cold, flu and strep life could throw at me. I have asthma and allergies and on days like today it simply hurts to breathe. I have flat feet and I can't see five feet in front of me without corrective lenses of some sort.

Despite all of this, I managed to go to school, get an education working with others and requiring a great deal of empathy. I got married young, experienced love, put my life on hold to support my partner build his dreams. I scrimped and saved when we were in debt times a million, I would grocery shop with a stroller walking several kilometers to do so, I'd get up in the middle of the night to comfort, I'd iron, sweep, garden, repair you name it.

This body managed to deliver three beautiful children. To grow and nurture a life, I'm sure you know takes a toll, try it three times in 5 years. My weight fluctuated wildly and it has left me anemic, with constant low blood pressure and the urge to pee every five minutes. Nevermind what it's done to my figure! I've lost 70lbs, and I've also modified my body with surgery and ink to get it to where it is truly mine. This body used to struggle with body image problems and the owner has finally only just begun seeing that she is beautiful.

It has managed to get me through an awful period of my life where I suffered through terrible post partum depression. It was at this time that my husband and partner of 16 years had decided to leave me for someone much younger, thinner and with a lot less mileage. It took abuse as I refused to eat weeks at a time, went on total autopilot for two months. Felt numb for 2 more months. Went through godawful pain and anguish and fought tooth and nail not to sink into serious depths of depression. It's cried til my eyes are red and chest heaving, it's been angry beyond my own comprehension, but restrained enough to not go take out a small village. It has survived a car accident though when, very upset and driving my way down to mediation I managed to hit a bus...with in small part thanks to Honda's safety engineering. Thankfully this body has an awesome support staff in loving children, friends and family.

This body has learned to laugh again. This body has had to rebuild life as I know it. It's had to recreate home to three scared and confused little boys...well not so much the youngest, nothing scares him. It's had to work tirelessly for the past year and change now to fight, rebuild and thrive. It's learned that it can take blows and come back, ready for another day. It's learned to throw a few itself.

So why do I dress and get all dolled up every day? Because I fucking can! Because after all my body has gotten me through, it deserves to look good and feel good. I'd wear a sandwich board listing all that my body has gotten me through, but there isn't one big enough. I've only walked this Earth 33 1/2 years, but I've been through enough for a lifetime and my body still gets back and says "Is that all that you've got!?". I'm tired, so tired, my bones creak and I'd love nothing more than to spend a week in bed, yet every day I'm up at 6am til about 11pm and I am alert, supportive, loving and keeping up with 3 boys, 2 cats and a dog. I go to school, I do well in school, I have a social life, a great boyfriend and even manage to fit in some pretty regular exercise too!

So you think I dishonour my body? I disagree. I honour my body, I stand tall, walk proud and draw attention to myself because I'm am alive, I'm well, I'm happy despite all of the hell I've been through. If I manage to turn a few heads because of that knowledge and the confidence it brings, good for me! And if you and the rest of your yoga pants, mall walking, communal grocery shopping and petty gossiping tribe cannot deal, too freaking bad!

Sunday, June 3, 2012


I generally try to see the best in people, I feel that having faith in others is a symbol of my spiritual faith. It's been a long slog, but I've generally prevailed without coming out too wounded or bitter. I feel like I've picked myself off the mat after every good left hook, wiped the sweat away, spit the blood out and beckoned life to come on, try again. Why? Because that faith sustained me.

Tonight, I'm not having such an easy time getting up.

I'm left wondering why people do things to hurt others. Never mind your friends, family, children, but complete strangers. I try to go through life, thinking about my footprint about how what I do might affect someone directly and indirectly. And if I hurt someone, I try to make amends, apologize, or if I cannot, at least have some humility in how I behave further so that I don't negatively affect them anymore than I have to. I try to have faith that others do the same, at least most of the time.

I'm struggling with that.

I just don't understand why the hits keep coming. I try to make sense of it, but no matter how much I play by the rules, no matter how much I try to take the higher road, it's not having the desired effect of being treated with some compassion or honour. I was sitting on my couch tonight trying to blank out with a video game, but slowly and tearfully I might add, coming to the conclusion that so many people only live this life with themselves as the giant main focus and its very depressing.

I think I've lived a very charmed life, yes it's been hard, but I've always been very fortunate in my family and friends that I haven't had many opportunities to become too jaded when it comes to dealings with other people in the microlevel. But I dunno, tonight just took a strip out of me and try as I might, I lose a little more faith in the world that people generally stop and think about what sort of impact they may have, before wantonly stepping in and hurting others.

I'm trying to regroup and focus on all the awesome people in my life and hopefully how I try to treat them and plod forward might somehow be repaid at least a little. It does in spades when it comes to friends and family, but I'd really like to see some results in other areas too. In the meantime, I'm going to surround myself with people I love and who love me and try to remind myself of people who go forward carefully, considering their moves in life and how they may effect others, and maybe indirectly themselves when they look back on their actions.

One of my favourite things to think of when I'm feeling low is a few lines from the movie "The Two Towers" part of the Lord of the Rings epic.

When an exhausted Frodo says to Sam, his companion "I can't do this" Sam replies

I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It’s like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened?

But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back only they didn’t. They kept going because they were holding on to something.Frodo replies "What are we holding onto Sam?"And Sam says

"There’s some good in this world, Mr. Frodo. And it’s worth fighting for."

Friday, May 18, 2012

Mommy Tips

I meant to write this for Mother's Day, trying to keep with a theme and all, but three kids, pancakes microwaved for 12 minutes for Mothers Day breakfast and a busy day, well you can imagine how much time these days I get to sit down and write. I actually took some time in class to journal...yeah, I'm a great student like that.

Anyhow, my post is mommy tips, it was inspired by an experience I had last summer. I was sitting on a bench in a fairly affluent area in my city. We're having a nice conversation and I see them, 4 mothers with $1500.00 strollers a piece, and babies 6 months and under. Either I'm getting crusty with age or with motherhood, but I don't have a tolerance for a lot of new moms. I tensed up immediately, because they stopped on the boardwalk in front of us (ooops, did I just give the area away? Well anyone living in Toronto, is now rolling their eyes and nodding "Of course you had this ridiculous experience there!!!") and they milled about for a few minutes trying to decide where to go. They proceeded to sit on the benches right next to us, I should add there are a million benches in the area, but it's a free world, sit next to the two people enjoying a quiet conversation and drown that out with your mommy wars.

So I got a good earful of their conversation, it covered everything from trying to one up each other's birth and how natural it was, to how early their baby was smiling and hitting those milestones outlined in every new pop culture parenting book. Now I have to say I'm no innocent, I had those conversations too, but I'd like to think I wasn't nearly so mental. I was lucky to fall into a group of friends who were all new moms, but not really up on the one upmanship, unless you counted who got the best bargain on diapers. My kind of crowd. But I'm sure I had my moments, which I'm sure those friends will remind me of tonight over a glass of wine. Anyhow, as they're going on, I'm getting more and more annoyed and I had to do everything in my power to not yell "Who cares??? This shit isn't going to matter when your kid is three, licking yogurt off your floor, poking blueberries up their nose and climbing up the walls!!! It's going to matter less, when your kid is in grade one, arguing with you that the sky is not blue and trying to master the art of farting with his armpits!!!"

So new mommies, let me give you some tips, I admit I am far from an expert, at least everywhere but my own personal universe, so take them with a grain of salt if you will, but they have certainly helped my sanity.

1. Tell any Monday morning quarterback who has the audacity to analyze how you've given birth to put their head where the sun doesn't shine. Seriously! If you had the birth you wanted, and you and baby are safe and healthy and happy, that is ALL that matters. Even if you didn't have the birth you wanted, but are able to make peace with that, that is ALL that matters. I HATE Monday morning quarterbacks who pass judgment on moms who have had epidurals or c-sections. I hate it when they tell a mom outright, I hate it when they sugar coat it. Whether they are a stay at home mom, or the guru of all things birthing,  it's none of their fucking business! They have no right to judge you. And when you tell them that and they look confused, you can tell them that Mamajoy and her 2 out of 3 births sans epidural and one at home told you to say that! Believe me, 6 years later, and all my friends kids who were birthed in many different ways, believe me, the c section kids aren't sitting in corners rocking themselves because they haven't had the glory of a water birth in the ocean with dolphins coming in to greet them.

2. Same goes for feeding. I know, there are a gabillion studies that point out that breastfed kids have a few more IQ points than non breastfed kids, but if you can't breastfeed, think about it, worst case scenario, have you ever known a person who has been too stupid to live a happy life because they were bottle fed? One of my friends didn't even get the luxury of formula, but evaporated milk or some other shit like that, and they're not doing too poorly for themselves. But ultimately, what is the ultimate wish that every parent has for their child? That they are happy? There hasn't been any studies that says formula prevents this. I was fed formula, I grew up in poverty, I'm going through a divorce for some pretty shitty reasons, but guess what? I'm still happy! I have awesome friends, great kids, food in my belly, the best family, an amazing boyfriend and a lot of cool things on the go. What will keep your kids happy is the ability to instill grace in them to recognize all that they have going for them. If your kids need to be a rocket scientist or be pulling down 7 figures as a result of those few extra IQ points in order to make them happy, then you're buying into a brand of parenting, of life! that is way different than mine

3. My oldest was singing songs, accurately identifying body parts and barnyard noises by the time he was 1, he was also potty trained in 2 weeks. He was sleeping through the night at 4 months AND taking naps 2x a day. By all accounts he was brilliant and the most awesome superbaby EVAH! Guess what? He's in grade 1, doing perfectly well, but not quite on the road to building a time space machine. He does have the ability to think up an excellent counterargument at the speed of light, but that also works against me A LOT! He hit a lot of milestones early, and some of his friends much later, but it all comes out in the wash, trust me.

4. Baby gear. I have a stroller library. No joke, my friends made fun of me, they still do. I've now traded in strollers for something far more awesome, which is purses and shoes (my friends all now want me to will those purses to them should I meet my untimely demise). Really, my kids are not better off, or more ergonomically designed because of the millions of strollers. Kids who've had nothing but organic fibre clothes made by silkworms from Awesomeville aren't in any better position than kids in regular old cotton. Trust me, they will outgrow, out last, out live and break everything else, do not spend a mint and do not feel inferior because someone has the baby high chair supreme deluxe 5000. Their money, they can spend it how they want, but in the end, their kid is still going to toss that oatmeal across the room just the same. Now if there truly was a device that washed, dried, folded, hung up and put away all the laundry....THEN be jealous.

5. Parenting philosophies. Geeze louise the things women put themselves through, comparing parenting styles is just crazy. You know what is the best parenting philosophy? The one that works best for your family, just like the one that works best for the Joneses family is the best philosophy for them. Believe me, the kids who are getting McDonalds once a week are not suffering horribly compared to the kids who are getting homegrown home made lentil cakes. I was once talking to a father of two grown women, both of the sisters had children about the same time. One was a serious attachment parent, and the other was more mainstream. The grandfather remarked that the kids were pretty much the same kids, neither more brighter, well adjusted or happier. It was a lightbulb for me, both of these kids were loved, but raised fairly differently, however other than superficial things, they both had similar values, attachments and ways of going about being kids. Seriously, if you put a bunch of kids in a room with different loving parenting philosophies, you're not going to have an easy time telling which kid was raised this way or that.

6. SAHM vs WOHMs. Do not torture yourself. Do what you need to do. There's been enough kids who have had to go to daycare who are just as socially well adjusted and bonded to their parents as those who have been raised at home. I speak as a former stay at home parent. My kids friends...still enjoy the same bum and fart and poop jokes, still bring their moms flowers, they're not burning down houses or torturing animals because they were in daycare from an early age.

Bottom line is don't get sucked into the competition game. Mommy groups can be wonderful things, if you find the right ones. I was lucky in that I had the right one which had given me my core group of amazing friends whom I can go to with any problem without being judged. Other ones, notsomuch. If you're stuck in the latter, run! Run away! There are cool ones out there. And in the meantime, remember that in 6 years from now when your little ones are on the playground, learning how to read, learning how much fun it is to gross you out with their wiggling tooth, what you put on their arse to catch their poop, what you fed them, whether you used an exersaucer for 20 minutes of respite is going to have little bearing on the human beings they grow into. Its the love you give them, the examples you provide and the values you instill that will determine what kind of person they grow into. Believe me, 10 years from now as I'm dealing with all the trials and tribulations of THREE teenagers, I'll be lucky enough to remember what I did in these early days, I'll just be trying to survive and enjoy the wild ride they're sure to provide. So plllllleeeeeease try not to torture yourself too much and keep in mind that parenthood is a lifetime gig and if you're getting stressed about these microissues now, you're in for a very bumpy ride later. Keep the big picture in mind and believe me, whether your kid wears Gymboree or George brand clothing, will be a very small pixel in that frame.

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Dear Atheists

Let me first preface this by saying obviously this isn't addressed to all atheists. I like to separate people in religion into two groups, it's a little elementary and probably has a billion loop holes, but bear with me. There are just those who simply are religious. They go about their daily lives, you might know they are religious, they might attend church or wear a sign of their religion on them, but overall, your impression of me isn't "Oh, it's Joy and she is a CHRISTIAN" because I'm not squawking about it 24/7. It's a part of them, but its not the only part.

Then there are those who are believers. They're the ones that have a religious counterpoint for a lot of the content you may express, they think that their views should apply to all, they go door to door, they proselytize and they think anyone who doesn't toe the line is wrong or pitiful. Frankly they annoy the hell out of me. But I believe the same applies to atheists. There are those who simply go about their daily lives and that's it. Then there are those who BELIEVE it, and I often find that they have a lot of similarities to those religious believers. So for all those who go about their daily lives and don't feel the need to mock, or argue with, or need folks to justify their faith, please mosey on.

So, this letter goes out to the believers.

I'm a Christian, I'm not an idiot. I believe in a higher force, but I don't believe s/he is sitting on a cloud pulling some puppet strings. So when you ask me if there is a God, why do they allow x, y, z to happen, I'm going to get frustrated. Why? Because faith is a pretty personal thing and we all interpret it a little differently. For example, I believe in evolution. I think Darwin is right, he's great. There's no way on Earth did we just appear happy little creature living amongst dinosaurs (though that would be my kids dream come true). Science is great! Yay science. I live in awe of all the advances we've had in just my time.

I can't prove or disprove anything. It's faith, it's believing in something that is hard to believe in. I can't argue the finer points of religious texts, don't ask me to. I'm going to shrug. I have read the Bible and I can recall lots of things, but asking me to figure out what Leviticus 2:13 means, I'm not going to be able to help you. I try to learn and spend time devoted to learning, but lets be real here, I have a life outside of religion. I have three kids, I'm constantly on the go, I keep adding more things to make my schedule insane, and I'm not a theological scholar. What I can give you is this heartfelt explanation of why this is important to me, but really, I'm not even interested in proving or disproving to you, it's not that important to me.

I'm not a conservative. Not by any stretch. I am a Canadian progressive Christian, the reason why I specify Canadian is that to identify as a Canadian progressive, it means you're pretty damned left wing. I'm not a Communist, but I believe wholly and fundamentally in things like universal health care, a good social fabric for those disadvantaged, anti-oppression concepts, same sex marriage and full rights given to those couples. I wouldn't belong to a faith group that didn't believe in this. I believe in birth control, I use birth control! I believe in reproductive rights and will fight like a rabid trapped African Honey Badger to anyone who tries to take them away. YOU HEAR THAT HARPER????? I think being a social conservative goes against my brand of religion. Above all else, I believe in loving thy neighbour as much as I love myself. I'm not always good about that, but its the thing I believe most important in the Bible.

Speaking of which, I don't follow it word for word. Yes I guess I pick and choose? Does that make me less faithful? I dunno, who am I to judge, who are you? Ultimately, I guess when I get into the afterlife and God is pissed, I'll know. But I don't live in fear or worry of that. In fact, I don't live in fear of God, I don't make certain that I don't wear mixed fabrics daily. I even break the 10 Commandments from time to time...hell, I'm separated, AND I'm in a relationship not with my husband and using birth control, you put it together! I swear, drink, dance. I'm not a goody two shoes and I don't keep the company of goody two shoes. The Harper Valley PTA moms at my kids school believe I'm a hussy for Christsakes (see?). I believe God loves me, flaws and all. I try to be a good person, I try to be a loving person and live with forgiveness, honesty and good motivations. Do I always succeed? Hell no. And while I don't get a spiritual time out, or go to confession, I do in the end, in my day to day life reap the consequences, even if its just feeling like I let myself down and that's a pretty shitty thing.

Back to all the thousands of itty bitty rules, I don't follow them. Really, how the hell is anyone supposed to, they're insane? Good grief! I use the Bible as a larger guide for life. I love parables and from them I get my larger messages. And really, they're not all that different from examples people have set in your lives and how you aspire to those examples. For me, I get those examples and I have these stories which I believe were divinely inspired.

Do I know that there is a God or that Jesus rose from the dead plain as day? I admit, it's a bit of a stretch. I can go into detail, but it's long and I'll spare you. I'm a Capricorn, true and true, if I can't see it, touch it, smell it, taste it, it's hard for me to grasp as real, but sometimes even us old goats have to make a leap of faith. Like love for example. I mean, you can touch someone who says they love you, they can do many things for you, build a life, have kids but they can lie (Not that *I* have ever experienced that! lol). And while you can make a very good argument that faith has no tangible examples, I believe there is, with every good deed and person who comes into my life or works hard to make the world a better place against hatred, or evil. Maybe I'm just manufacturing these things in my mind, but really, every time I see good against all odds and compassion, it just reinforces this belief I have way down deep inside that we are all connected in a spiritual way and I cannot wrap my head around all this energy and thought and love that people have, simply ceases to exist when we die.

If you're tsking me, that's fine, you don't have to believe what I believe. You might even think I'm some misguided fool. But overall, I'm sure you'd find me a funny, cheerful, caring and pretty smart person to be around. You needn't pity me, and I guess what I'm asking is to not be generalized. I don't want to be lumped in with Tea Partiers, and I don't do blind faith very well. I make a point of never pressing my religion on anyone, well directly...that whole thing about being progressive has a bit to do with my spirituality, but point is, I'm not telling you to be a Christian, I never will, I don't believe in it. If you don't believe you don't believe. That's it, end of story...oh and by the way, I don't believe you're going to roast in hell, I don't even really believe in hell. Betcha didn't see that one coming? Not all of us are alike. I know ministers who anyone can sit down with in a bar and you'd never know they were ministers. They will sit and have an academic discussion about their religious texts with open minds and hearts and not once try to make you convert. But really, get to know some of us before you write us off. This applies for folks of different religions too, they're pretty cool too.We're as varied as grains of sand...sorry, cheesy cliche, next time I'll write with more caffeine.

Why my religion is important to me is that it helps me to see the good things, which in turn inspires me to do good things. That's a good thing eh? But before you assume that simply because I'm religious, I'm motivated by fear, hate or blind faith, get to know me. My spirituality has no place for negativity, its there to get me motivated by love, even if I want to go biting people in the face, which is a daily occurrence, so really, the world benefits from me being religious, and considering there is an Incredible Hulk Joy lurking somewhere deep in side, it's probably a good thing that I'm a believer.

I've taken some time to kind of explain where I'm coming from spiritually, for greater understanding between folks, but I don't have a burning need to justify my faith. It's just there, like my love for my kids, or sweets, or swimming on a hot summer day.

So, I wish you well in life, going about your daily business, as I do, and enjoying the good moments thoroughly. I hope you wish the same for me, since all in all, I'm a pretty awesome person, even for a religious person. ;)

Tuesday, April 24, 2012


I wonder if this happens to everyone, but I notice a lot of circling in my life as of late. A lot of things going on in my life have stemmed from me spending a lot more time back home in my old community. I remember taking a class last year and it let out early and I didn't want to go home because all that was waiting for me there was a lot of broken dreams and heartache. So I called my mom, asked if she wanted a coffee, and she went and grabbed my family and we had a big ol gab session. I needed the hugs and the unconditional TLC that only your relatively sane family can give you. Anyhow, that turned into me spending a lot more time back home and bringing my kids there, something I hadn't done too often in previous years. It allowed me to reconnect with who I was before marriage and kids and remember that fireball and it's allowed me to proceed with life a little more easily and has given me strength to move forward.

Anyhow, fast forward to today, I'm at a place where I volunteered and worked for nearly 20 years ago. I really hate the fact that I can say that, but yes, it was 20 years ago when I entered my teens. I worked at this organization as a youth writer and was published! So if you want someone to blame for me foisting my thoughts and writings on the world, it's them since they told me that I was somewhat good at it. I'm back at this place offering myself up as a volunteer. I need something in my life while I wait for school, but I also want to get back into my community and give back. The woman I was talking to, I was rehashing an old story where I had written an article about our local community police liaison committee and it wasn't too favourable. I was then summoned to a meeting, where a dozen or so grown adults proceeded to tear me a new one. They were mad, livid. It's not what I had written was untrue, but they didn't like the way I called them on it. So I was telling her that I had to go to the local police precinct where this meeting was taking place, and the then staff inspector, who is now chief of police in my fair city was kind enough to chair it. So as I'm recounting this story, it dawns on me, that police building was torn down, the agency where I worked out of to write that article was torn down, and that agency was where I was retelling the story today, sits on the former site of the police building. In fact the chewing out I got, happened within about 15 feet of where we were sitting. (Part of me thought HA!!!! I admit that) It was just such a cool wow moment for me. Nearly 20 years ago, I had written a story that had gotten me into trouble and here I was again, retelling this story, hoping to give back to the agency that got me writing in the first place.

I like to reflect on my life a lot lately and that despite my then efforts to run away from the community I grew up in and leave all the bad things behind, I neglected to see all the good things I left behind too. I thank whatever force is out there to give me the wisdom that day to head back home and be reminded of what I was missing in my life. It wasn't high powered positions or lots of money and influence, I realized I might never see a backstage pass again in my life, but returning home, I had regained so much more. I remember the poverty and despair, but I also remember the hope and determination. A type of love and character that can only be found by people who have walked through hell to see the other end and were all the more wiser for it. I've been given so many gifts from my home and community, the ability and confidence to write and put myself out there being one of them, but the friends, family I've been blessed with. The connections that you have where you might not have seen someone in 15 years, but you pick up like you've never left and welcomed back with open arms, no matter how much you've changed for the better or worse. I hope everyone has a special place and community like this that they can retreat to and get the opportunity to truly see and experience how valuable a resource it is to have in one's life.

Sunday, April 15, 2012

The sexy

I meant to write this blog post something like a month ago, I forgot about it, but was having a conversation tonight that reminded me of it. What triggered this was a Facebook status update about looking sexy or something. I correlated it to looking good, and someone I respect, love and admire said that sexiness is about attitude. I definitely agree with the sentiment, but I don't know if I agree that that is exclusive to what sexiness is, at least for me.

I don't consider myself as some epic sexy icon, in fact for the longest time, I didn't feel attractive at all. Before that, I KNEW that I had it going on. I was a size 12, young, full of piss and vinegar and rocking the hourglass figure, mind you, my hair wasn't nearly as fabulous! As time went on, I gained weight, got up to a 22 at my highest, but maintained a regular 18. Logically I knew I wasn't ugly, but I didn't feel it. Needless to say my self esteem in that regard dropped to an all time low at the time of my separation. It was at that point I made a decision that no matter how shitty I felt, I was going to look well put together. Fake it until I make it, that was my idea. In a completely unrelated move to my looks, but affected it wildly, I pretty much stopped eating well. That was pure stress, but needless to say, it took me down from a size 20, to a 14, which is pretty much ideal on my body, or at least my ideal.

Anyhow, every once in a while, someone would comment that despite how awful my circumstances were, I looked fabulous and that gave me a little boost. Now while I shouldn't tie my happiness to how others view how awesome I look, I needed that superficial bump. Slowly, as time went on and I continued to fake it until I make it, I noticed here and there that I was being noticed. Again, superficial, but much needed at the time. What slowly started to happen though, was that every now and again, I'd catch a glimpse of myself in the mirror and be taken away by that pretty person looking back. It was a split second before the Critical Joy jumped up from her coffee break to take that moment away, but it was something I hadn't experienced in the past several years.

My therapist mentioned that it was important as a sexual being to have your loving partner desire you, not that I had a partner, but I think to a degree, knowing that I could turn a head now and then, it somewhat woke up that Joy who remembered that I was sexual and desirable, at least to a few people. However I realized that I was still tying my confidence to how others see me. It would give me a boost, but it was short lived and very surface like. When I noticed that a certain fella was making eyes at me, then something really jumped, because here was someone that I was interested in, who I could see found me easy on the eye. Some months later, the affection is based on so much more than my looks, but it's once again nice to feel desired when I use my eyes or smile to evoke that reaction. That said, more and more, those split second glimpses in the mirror started to grow longer and Critical Joy started to shut her yap. Confident Joy was clearly sitting on her giving her noogies because I started saying "not too shabby girl" to myself.

Then I went and did something radical, I had a tummy tuck. Really, probably the antithesis of sexy truly coming from within, but strangely enough, now I feel it. My body is far from the Hollywood ideal. I'm not 90lbs soaking wet with insanely huge tits. I have fat, cellulite, wrinkles, greys, my arms flap, I'm a solid size 14 and without more surgery, or serious boob deflation, I don't see that changing anytime soon and I spend enough time tweezing that if I ever were granted three wishes for myself, one of them would be to have every stray hair removed forever without any pain, just so I can be fucking done with it already! However, I feel good about myself. Well sometimes, it's hard for me to get rid of that old critic that reminds me of the time where I didn't feel so good about myself, but I feel like I can hold my own. Interestingly, my plastic surgeon told me that I was the ideal candidate because I didn't want an unrealistic image, I just wanted get rid of a part of my body that had been warped due to pregnancy. I guess if I were truly "I am woman, hear me roar", I would have worn that battled and bruised part of my body with pride, but I guess I need to not feel so at odds with something so changed in order to feel a bit more normal about myself.

So obviously my sexiness is very much tied to my appearance, which I wonder how healthy that can be. I mean, I know I can flirt up a good storm, I'm funny and playful. I'm pretty smart and what I'm most proud of, is that I'm a survivor of shitty situations in life and that has given me a confidence and swagger. That helps to give me self worth, but it doesn't really make me feel sexy, unless that self worth is what is to be considered sexy, which I guess in the end, can count for a whole lot of it. I think also, sexiness tied to appearance isn't necessarily awful. I mean, it's a pretty demanding thing if your ideal of sexy is unrealistic, like what Hollywood projects, but if you're a size 14, 16, 18 and you are rocking it, maybe that is a good thing because you're brave and open enough to see your beauty outside of the norm.

So I dunno, sexiness is attitude deep inside and not tied to how you look, or its something based on how you look and your desirability, or it's a little bit of both. Like just about everything in life, it's probably sitting somewhere close to the middle. I do believe that confidence is your sexiest asset, I'm just not sure where or what that confidence is based on is appropriate. I guess one of life's riddles for me, obviously enough to keep me blogging at 12:30 at night, but enough said on the topic, now it's time for me to get my beauty rest. ;)

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

What is this new thing? Entitlement!

I know entitlement has a bad connotation to it. We think of fat cats complaining that their spoiled little brats can't run over the great unwashed in their $400,000 cars, or that they their darlings truly are gifted, they just get all F's because they're so brilliant and school is just not suited for their special brand of genius. Or this jerk in front of my house who has half parked with his butt hanging across half of my driveway, figures, he works for the city. They were also kind enough to leave my gate open which caused me to chase a certain poodle around the block. Eedjits!

But what about good entitlement, I think we like to cover it up in a word like expectations, but I kinda, sorta think its the same. Like I'm entitled to be treated politely, or I'm entitled to respect. We all have our expectations, high and low. Mine have been pretty low for a long time, I'm just coming to realize this. As I'm moving forward in this relationship, I'm learning new things that I haven't been privy to before. At first I was like "Wow, this is uber cool! I'm freaking spoiled!" but I was recounting a story of something that happened 10 years ago and as I'm telling it, I'm thinking, "Wow, that would never happen with BF" which caused me to pause and think for a bit. The nitty gritty of what happened isn't so important for this post, but what dawned on me, was that at the moment of that incident, I was entitled to better, not because I was so special, or that it was something that everyone was entitled to or wanted to be entitled to, but because it was something that was very important to my values and important in my relationships giving and receiving with people. So I started thinking of things overall and started to re-evaluate...and still am in the process of doing, of what sorts of things I felt like I deserved. Not to re-open old wounds or rehash the past, I'm way past that point, but it's been a valuable learning tool in going forward of my "expectations" in how I want to be treated. Why I like the word entitlement is that I do feel like I'm owed some things. Keys to the world would be great and really, if planet Earth wants a paradise, I strongly recommend that you do, but more realistically, if I treat someone with respect, I'd like that back. If I'm kind and generous to you, I'd like some back too. If I'm get the picture.

Anyhow, I've been reflecting a lot on my entitlement and have been putting it into practice. Largely by not being a doormat. A couple of weeks ago, I requested an urgent appointment with my doctor. I got an appointment in three weeks. I sucked that up (okay, I was a doormat there), about a week ago, the office calls me again this time requesting that I reschedule my son's necessary appointment I made several weeks back. I said no, I cannot because it fell right during pick up children from school time. I wasn't willing to push it back a couple of weeks and I very nicely, but firmly held my ground. The receptionist then asked me to stop being so inflexible. Remember my blog post about all the little Joy's running around in my head...well that comment caused Ghengis Khan Joy to emit a war cry and get the troops ready for battle. Somehow, diplomat Joy, who really is an awesome diplomat held back the full out war of the hissy fits and explained to the receptions just how flexible I have been (FOR THE PAST 13 YEARS!!!), but I must insist on this appointment for my son and to please get someone else to move their appointment kthxbye! Really, I'm not an unreasonable person and if I could have accomodated the request, I would have, but there were no viable options presented. I kept my appointment with my son, which I then had to miss, which is a long story, but on the record, I'm going to be the 10 year old and state that it wasn't MY fault.

Example two, which happened today at my local Costco. I got into a disagreement with the gas station attendant who's job is to direct traffic and avoid anarchy. However she came at me like a bull in a china shop with a nasty tone, and just being plain rude. Old me would have just sucked it up, new Joy said "Excuse me, you needn't use that tone with me, just explain it to me politely." She barely let me get a word in edgewise, but somehow I let her know that there is a way of getting her point across without being rude or trying to browbeat a customer. She then proceeded to talk smack about me with other customers...ummmm okay. I remained polite and firm, and the best I got out of her was "I'm sorry you feel that way." I told her, with no sarcasm in my voice (and that was HARD) that that was pretty much a non apology and she retorted with the classic "Whatever!". Ghengis Khan Joy has a really good case to mount a full scale war, but entitled Joy said "well, I'm going to have to talk to the manager about this." Then I got a "I don't care!" and I couldn't help it, but I laughed. It was just so ridiculous. Anyhow, I got my gas, marched myself into the Costco and in my nicest, warmest and most professional self, talked with the manager who apologised profusely. Again, I'm not an unreasonable person, if I'm doing something wrong, please, let me know, NICELY. I'll try and make my wrong right. If you're going to come at me like an angry wasp, the message is already lost. Ultimately though,  if I'm at a store where I spend $300.00-400.00 a month in fuel alone, not to mention the gabillion litres of milk and staples I have to get, and throw in some impulse buys, yeah, I'm entitled to a little courtesy.

What is stunning about all this, is that I'm just discovering all this. It truly is new. I think it comes from my sense of self worth and as it is growing, I'm realizing that I'm just as entitled to good treatment in return for mine as anyone else. It's a very exciting revelation. And I know I am very capable of asserting myself firmly, but without unnecessary casualties. It's a small, but growing expectation or entitlement of mine, now the key is to keep it in check. Thank goodness for the oodles of salt of the Earth friends who are more than willing to kick me in my seat if I get too big for my britches.

Sunday, March 11, 2012

Free range parent I am not

Okay, I'm not a free range parent. I'm not the type who is clutching her children to her bosom afraid to let them take a few steps away, but I'm also not comfortable letting them play safely out of sight. I of course, have to let them do that, but it doesn't come naturally for me. That's strange because I grew up largely as a free range kid. I was thrown outside in nice weather, told my boundaries, and came in when my mom yelled from the 10th storey window into the ginormous courtyard in between 5 high rises, which had a small park in the middle of it all. Otherwise my home time was when the lights came on. As I got older, I remember being outside at night with my friends, I was in grade 8 and spent many a summer evening hanging out til 10, 11, 12 just on the benches with my buddies. And for all those newbie free range parents who have kids, 16, 18, 20, my mom was old school free range parent, because while your kids might have to tackle public transportation alone, I was outside unsupervised, at 6, in the ghetto! And all before this whole free range stuff became trendy.

So why am I so neurotic...well maybe because I'm neurotic. Although its strange because while I was allowed to run around like a chicken with my head cut off, my mother was freaking out at every step my youngest made, and he was at most 20 paces away and in clear vision. What did set my mind at ease, was the fact that like when I was growing up, there were parents everywhere. Parents who have no problems telling my kids off, or helping them along, much like when I was growing up. Believe me, if you were doing something stupid and some parent caught you, it was only a matter of time before the news got to your parent. Maybe that was why they were so comfortable letting us roam.

I think part in why it's harder to let kids go on their own these days is because communities like that aren't very common anymore. I can walk for miles in suburbia, in residential areas and not see people sitting out on their porches, they're all in their backyards, or somewhere else. Whereas in many lower income and mixed income communities, everyone is outside as long as weather permits. Gossiping, yelling at each other, just sitting there watching the world go by. Nothing really remarkable happened today while I hung out with my friends and relations. We just sat outside for 6 hours. We watched the kids, we teased each other to death, we got supplies as we needed them, took walks here and there, but mainly just enjoyed the first really nice day of the year. Considering I plan on doing this a lot this year, there was no better way to kick start it.

I think other than the independence of not being under your parent's thumb all the time, kids are really missing out on something not being part of these communities. It's like your parents are there, but they're not. You feel safe and protected, even though you may not be in their direct line of sight. Largely because someone is always watching. At one point, my kids were playing races with a friend and her grandson. I didn't really know what they were doing, except causing a commotion, but I knew they were safe...well, other than using the two toddlers as crash test dummies, let it be known that no toddlers were hurt in those kids experiments.  And that safety was so important to me last year. I remember at one point being finished a class at school and not wanting to go home. I had only misery there and just couldn't walk through that door. So I went home to my old community. I might have blogged about this some time last year. I called my mom and she assembled the wimminfolk and I knew the minute I walked into that space I was safe. Upon reflection of today, I realize just how much, it's like my personal fortress of unsolitude. The negativity, the emotions, the hurt is not allowed in unless I permit it and I realized for the past several months, I had been going back to that co-op, a place where I started my life with my ex, and not even really giving that or him a second thought, it was my space. Sure, it wasn't the exact location where I grew up, it's about a stone's throw away, but the people and the culture are the same, and with that, so is the safety.

Anyhow, this is a long and winding post, I'm rambling, so desperately trying to figure out a way to bring it on home...hmmmm, free range, safety, community=safety, growing up, safety....notice a theme? When deciding when and how far my kids roam, it's not how little people they will encounter that tips the scales in a positive manner. I've come to realize that its being in that community, your pack, your herd...pack sounds way cooler, that is what is safe, and lets me and I imagine would work for many parents feel a bit better about loosening the apron strings a little. It gives them the feeling of security from the strangers and cars and dangers that they could possibly encounter, while being free to explore. It also gives them that larger security to explore life, knowing that even when they leave the pack, there is still a safe place for them to return. I guess the same can be said for families too, but to be clear, I'm not related to any of the folks in my community other than my mother, but they are my family, just as close and important as blood. So as much as I think the concept of free range kids is cool, I think it's best done when there is a community content to let them roam and explore, but also ready to have their back in a flash, through childhood and through life.

Saturday, March 10, 2012

Coffee baited death trap

So I was up early this morning and I had the brilliant idea of going to pick up some coffee for us. Not that I can't make coffee, but yanno, coffee I pay for is far better. So I get in Big Mama Fuss (my van, her initials also mean Big blankety blank too), turn her on, listen to her scream in protest that its a Saturday and its cold, why the fuck am I trying to wake her up, and mosey on down to the Tim Hortons. This brings me to my very important point of the day. It's a serious issue affecting all Canadians. It's the topic of Tim Hortons parking lots.

Why is it every time I enter one of these places, I feel like I'm walking into a ticking bomb. I don't know how many parking lots are designed like this, but with my local one, you have the drive thru lane, and it goes on out of the way, minding its own business, it's long enough for oodles of cars. Then, intersecting this lane is another entrance. So right when you're about to get up to the drive thru garbage cans, which signals to you that your long wait is coming to an end, there is a lane for people to cut in front of you. Now I don't know who thought of this idea, or how many Tim Hortons in Canada has a cutter's lane, but I have to wonder if its some insane social experiment to see just how nice Canadians really are at 8am on a Monday morning without a coffee. Frankly, it being Toronto and all, I'm actually surprised no one has gotten killed while trying to cut in line, or at the very least, have had the nose of their car torn off by some grumpy mother of three driving in a BMFing van....jussayin.

Next point is, the cutters lane, it cuts right through the parking lot...which is tiny by the way. So people who line up trying to steal a place in line, instead of going to the back like freaking decent human beings, essentially cut off the flow of traffic for the rest of the parking lot if it gets any more than one car deep. They block in cars that are parked, and they pretty much block off the corner of the L shaped dime sized lot that is expected to handle all the traffic.

Needless to say there are lots of traffic snarls, horns honking and people giving the "I'm Canadian, so instead of cussing you out like I really want to do, I'm just going to give you the look of death". Seriously, who the hell designed these lots? I wish I could say it was only mine, but I've seen several with cutters lanes and just so disorganized it looks like a monkey high on speed designed them. Trying to park...which I actually did this morning because I thought since I didn't have three kids to tote, I'd do the socially responsible thing and walk my behind in, is insane. I had to essentially muscle my way into a spot (not too hard when you're driving a BMFing van) and even then, even though it was clearly MY spot, some doofus in a Civic tries to cut me off, which makes me wonder if he's ever seen what one of these vans can take and still keep kicking...I know because I had to test it out with a TTC vehicle. My van, she survived. So you're parked, you think you're home free right? Nope! You still have to get your ass into the store, which is like those herds of zebras and wildebeasts migrating and having to cross a river where there are a million giant crocodiles waiting to eat them.

You get into the store, get your coffee, have a sip, and suddenly navigating the crocodile river of doom seems manageable. "I have coffee now, you SOB croc! Taste some hoof!" So you zip back out to your car, with coffee and doughnuts in tow...okay, I have the doughnuts, breakfast of champions! and now you have to get out, which may seem like a cake walk, since now I have caffeine, sugar and the confidence that I've successfully gotten in, crossed the river twice and lived to tell the tale, but nope. First of all, I have to back out, and for all those who say I should have backed in to avoid this mess, bite me! I live in the suburbs, I drive a minivan, I *don't* back in, much to the chagrin of my partner. So I'm backing out, and you'd think the sight of a BMF van slowly backing out, would give most pedestrians a reason to stop and pause and not walk behind the I suspect they are severely depleted of caffeine, but its essentially one of the wildebeasts coming up to a croc minding her own business, sleeping in the sun and kicking her in the head for shits and giggles. Said doofus in the Civic is back, honking at me to hurry my ass up, not noticing me trying to avoid the wildebeast with a death wish, so I flash him the Canadian glare and resist the temptation of seeing what happens to a Civic, when you try to drive an Odyssey over it. Honda death match!

I am steps away from the exit, but wait, monkey on speed parking lot design strikes again. Right where the exit is, to a major freaking road, the exit lane for the drive through intersects, there's not even a stop sign. That said, most sane people would stop and check the flow of traffic before venturing out, but nope...again, I have to wonder, if this isn't some bizarre experiment to see just how many accidents can happen in a parking lot where deprived people are going to get caffeine and sugar. I give them a toot at this point...okay I lay on the horn, I'm pissed, I'm tired, I just want my coffee, my doughnut and the warmth of my house, and a serious amount of appreciation from my partner from braving the Serengeti just to get some fucking coffee. Somehow, I manage to make it home without eating a gazelle or two on the way.

So Canadians, take note, chances are, your Tim Horton's parking lot and drive thru lanes were designed by monkeys on some serious freaking drugs in an elaborate social experiment, or just because they're sadistic to test our patience, our skills and how well we operate without the caffeine necessary to make the day go a lot more smoothly and pleasantly. Better yet, try Starbucks, parking lots were designed by monkeys, but they were sober.