Monday, September 24, 2012

Zsa Zsa Moments

So, there's a blog almost every single person in the world knows about, but I'll be honest, I've only been reading her for the last few months, and I enjoy it.  It's the Bloggess, and she even won herself a spot on Katie Couric's show in it's inaugural month of shows.  That's extremely high praise, and it's most definitely deserved.

Why I connect with Jenny Lawson from the, is because she experiences the same disease I have, and while she is far more extreme in her sense of humour, I most certainly get it.  I think it, she says it.  Works for me.

Some of my friends read her too, and one recently posted a link to Jenny's speech on being furiously happy.  I'm going to pay it forward because it really means so much to live like this.  Especially when you suffer from illnesses like depression and anxiety.  It's worth the watch.  I enjoyed it.

For my part I have been attempting to live my life in a more muted fashion but with the same goal.  Reality is, that I live my life every day for my family and try to carve out enough time in my life to satiate my soul so that I don't up and walk out, wringing my own neck and pulling out my hair on the way to the looney bin.

So for me, that means I weave in little Zsa Zsa moments.  If you're too young to remember Zsa Zsa Gabor, you'll miss many of the references, so I'll just hang on a moment, while you catch up on her background.  Essentially, this woman made mug shot synonymous with celebrity.  Before Martha Stewart, Zsa Zsa was the quintessential bitch slapping diva they all painted Martha with.  In fact, Lindsay Lohan and Naomi Campbell were jokes compared to Zsa Zsa.  When Zsa Zsa said or did something, she pretty much meant it, stood behind it, and then she left you to rot in your own unworthiness.  She married 9 times.  Yes.  9.  Once even to Paris Hilton's great grandpappy.

I think she had a competition running with Liz Taylor.  She married royalty, she married actors, she modelled and acted herself...and never in her hay day would she have been caught without her face on, her diamonds in, and her nails (err. talons) done.

You know how they say "no one smiles for their mug shots"?  Well, Zsa Zsa did.  Yep.  Cuz that's how she rolled.

This is a mug shot of one well put together lady who wouldn't have missed out on her luxuries for a second.  Luxury was her middle name.

And so I have Zsa Zsa moments.  They are those moments when I indulge myself in something innocent (not slapping officers or marrying billionaires here), but where I spread a $10 jelly on my toast at breakfast because I frigging deserve it after changing a million dirty diapers and where I take the wine to the bubble bath because gosh darnit, baths require wine.  And where I just flake off work for an hour or two to write my blog because darnit, my soul needs a little love too.  It's my equivalent to living furiously happy.  I smile and laugh every day with my kid and my husband, even on some of my most challenging days.  They keep me balanced with the frustration and the frenzy that is Monday to Friday and sometimes Sunday too.  But my Zsa Zsa moments keep me being "me".  100% me.  Nobody else.  Nothing artificial, temporary or cloaked in a role or responsibility.  Just me, being good to me.  Selfishly happy.  Wining and dining my soul.

The $10 jelly is equally awesome.  I recommend it to everyone and there's one here waiting for you.  Comment and tell me why you need a Zsa Zsa moment, and I'll randomly select a winner.  $10 jelly could be on it's way to you, and you could be eating some seriously bitchin Zsa Zsa'd toast for breakfast!

So did Martha.  Just sayin.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Throwing Stones

I try to live a simple life.  And by simple I mean that I try to keep to myself, stay within reasonable boundaries of people, and I truly try to live most of my life without casting unfair dispersion against people who honestly don't deserve them, because when all is said and done, I've been the recipient of far more than enough of various dispersions myself.  So much so, that over time, as my depression and anxiety took root, it has rooted in a space of my mind where the little voice says "you're not good enough".  In truth, I'm just as "good at anything and everything" as the rest of the world is, and there have to be one or two things that I'm better at than other people.  But the voice in my head is loud.  It's been nurtured and fed by the thousands of other outside voices who screamed it at me, whispered it behind my back, and who stabbed me with them whenever the opportunity struck.  Most of those people didn't even realize that this was the result of those thoughts, looks, snide remarks.

And that's not to say that I'm the victim of bullying, or what we now view as "bullying" behaviour.  Then again, I know now that really all of it is bullying.  But when I was growing up, it was more about taking your licks and learning to get past or overcome them.  When I was real young, I was bigger than the other kids.  I grew fast.  I wasn't fat, but stocky.  I wasn't inactive.  I was always busy and playing.  But I'd be picked on. Luckily for me, it would only be once or twice, and then I'd fight back.  My baby brother was picked on too.  He had big front teeth and a significant overbite.  I'd say comparatively, he took more than I did, but I do recall stepping in a couple times on his behalf too.  I recall that I took down a couple Grade 4 students for this kind of thing when he was in kindergarten...I was in Grade 2.

As I moved into highschool, I found myself with friends in all the different cliques.  I got busy with the theatre group, and ate lunch with a different group of people every day.  This meant that I was no real outcast, but I never wholly belonged to one group.  And that meant I would more often than not be forgotten for different parties, left out of different social things.  It meant that I had to find and make my own drum beat, because well, no one else's fit entirely.  And that also meant that I never felt good enough to fit in with any one group. Any grown up would have looked at this and thought, good for her, she's doing her own thing.  But that's not really what you want when you're a teenager.  In fact, it's never something you really want when you're a grown up either.  It's isolating.  It leads to a whole lot of navel gazing.

What it inevitably returns though is this acute awareness of what other people do, why and how.  When you live on the fringe of nearly every socially acceptable pocket of people, you become a very keen observer.  You not only make an art out of living vicariously through others, but you also learn how to benefit from other people's mistakes.  And so, when it comes to casting judgments on others, I try very hard to think first how I would have done things differently.  In some cases, that means I can be extremely harsh on other people.  And in many other cases, it means I can be way softer than people often expect.

That's never to say I'm perfect.  Far from it.  But I can be very critical of people, because I'm as hard on them, as I am on myself.  So recently I've been reading a blog that I really do like.  She calls it like she sees it, and very often we agree.  But she brought my focus recently to two separate issues and between her reviews of the situations and the resulting comments, I've had a lot to digest.  Here are my thoughts:

Honey Boo Boo - has her own tv show which is a spin off of the TLC show Toddlers & Tiaras.  Now often I've thought how easily I could have gotten my own daughter into modelling as a baby, and then shows like Toddlers & Tiaras, and now Honey Boo Boo, have ultimately reminded me why my husband and I said "no way, never, over our dead bodies".

And the photos of Peaches Geldof who has been captured on film stumbling the baby carriage on a sidewalk and criticized for not dropping her phone to collect her child, never mind the criticisms that ensue spiralling from this story to her fashion choices (like that has anything to do with the price of tea ANYWHERE).  The argument being made is largely that she cares more for the expensive phone, and by implication designer cut off jean shorts and great shoes) than for her child.  Peaches is the daughter of Bob Geldof (musician and political activist) and Paula Yates who died tragically of a drug overdose when Peaches was a young child.  In all honesty, I didn't know this person existed until the article on PIWTPITT.  And I can tell you I've thought of her father only when he's been referenced for being a pain in the ass whack job.

BUT, the things I'm most unimpressed with isn't the people in the show, how they are raising their children or whether or not they slap a pile of make up on their kid.  It's that TLC is making money from pitching people as lunatic fringe folk for gawking and general revelry at someone else's (a child's no less) expense.  And that news giants like the Huffington Post actually report about a nobody's clumsy gaffe, again for the purposes of profit and admonishment by the general public, all under the pretense that it's what we want.  I think it's reprehensible and I'm taking ill to the idea that we as a consuming public actually do want to see this shite.

In both those situations, I think to myself, if it meant feeding my family, or making sure my child had an option to go to college, I'd do everything short of damaging her odds.  If that meant whoring myself out somewhere, or eating shit off a street corner, I'd bloody well do it.  AND, I make a note of my own clumsiness, and my daily gaffes and I realize I can not criticize someone for not thinking to drop the phone, or laughing at my child when she says something rather adult.  Every mealtime is a new adventure for me, because it's a never ending battle to get through one without spilling food on my shirt. I've knocked over a full cups of iced tea on my new born and felt absolutely dreadful about it for 2 years.  I've definitely dropped the phone to address my child in a moment of crises or stumbling accident, but it's never been without doing what comes naturally and saying abruptly "Call you back" and hitting the end button.  I'm a human being.  Over the years, I've been conditioned to elicit certain responses, just like every single person out there.  So much of our lives are instinctual, habitual.  No one, and I mean no one, has the right to assume superiority over anyone else based on what happens in a split second of time.

So, do I agree with what Honey Boo Boo's parents are doing by contracting with TLC: categorically no I do not.  I think that does way too much harm to their child's future than it prevents.  BUT, I'm not the person to judge that.  They are.  And, for what it's worth, maybe it is their best shot at giving their child a hopeful future.  I think it's a shot at outrageous therapist bills to wade through and identify the precise moment when a child lost the respect of her country and the world at large and pinpoint why she never feels good enough at anything or worthy of anyone's unconditional love.  But that's me.  What I CAN judge is TLC for feeding the world crap, and disrespecting it own heritage as a network that promotes learning for the sake of profits.  It should simply change it's name.  It won't change my judgement of them, but it will better reflect their goals with shows like these.

Looking at this last picture of Peaches and how she is holding her child to coddle it and solace it, the comments I've read are all about the phone that's attached to her damn ear.  What I see is a woman who is probably going to beat herself up for the rest of her life feeling like a failure for that split second reaction, for letting it all happen in the first place, and God forbid, for all the nastiness other people have slung at her ever since.

To conclude, people in glass houses should never cast a stone in any direction.  We all make mistakes and gaffes and have things that embarrass us daily.  TLC and the Huffington Post and all those commentors who have holier than thou dispersions and judgements to throw off have a day of reckoning coming to them.  It's debate-able if I will then be able to find anything with which to empathize when that inevitably happens.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

I want to be Eckhart Tolle

There it is.  It's out there.  I've said it.  I also wouldn't mind being Oprah Winfrey, but let's not get ahead of ourselves.

I've already credited Eckhart Tolle's book The Power of Now: A New Earth with helping me yank my own butt out of the drain that was my own battle with depression and anxiety disorder.  I don't change my read of the situation at all, but when I say I want to be Eckhart Tolle, here's what I mean.

I think Eckhart is a bright mind.  A philosopher worth listening to with valid emotional insight, an educational background that allows him the opportunity to infer logic, use metaphor, and a voice and accent that allow him to reach the corners of your brain.  That's a multi million dollar ticket right there.  His real qualifications for all this insight is a come to Jesus he had while he was contemplating taking his own life.  So for what it's worth, this is a guy who has been there done that, and in my world, that's the kind of street cred that counts.

What I like most about him is that he's overcome a humble beginning and ensured himself a higher education...that is of course if it's all true.  You know you can't always believe everything you read on the internet.  For now, until I'm proven differently, I'm making an assumption it's pretty darn close.

So the way I figure it, I have an education too.  It's a pretty good one, though it's not Oxford.  But hey, we don't all get a chance to roll like that right?  And I've seen the bowls of depression too and avoided the pit, and I figure that success can't all be his...It's mine, I claim victory over my own depression and anxiety almost every day, so that's something.  As should everyone who survives it and thrives in spite of it.  And gosh darnit, I'm pretty damn insightful too when given the chance.  The only thing I can't copy is his accent and his transcendental aura - you know, unless I dig into a bag of seriously awesome weed.  But if that would make the difference between slogging away at my desk job, and raking in millions (even thousands - I'm really not greedy) by selling books that get sold by Oprah, and posting video interviews for $100 subscriptions so I can share my insights with the world at large, hells yes, sign me up.  I'll smoke just about anything you ask me to if you could make me that guarantee.

What it all really does boil down to though, is even despite not making millions selling my books, or being able to share my philosophy while maintaining a perfect tree pose, I do continue to plunk away at my keyboard, sharing my inner most thoughts with a great void in the hopes that someone out there, anyone, finds some level of comfort in what they read or stumble upon in these logs.  Rest assured too that while I'm typing away, I'm making an effort (albeit clumsy) to get from child pose to a passable downward dog while not fainting from all that blood that's rushed to my head.

Love to you all - and please comment freely.  I'd love to hear what different things you'd like to see here!

Friday, September 14, 2012

Tapping Out

So, I think I'm ready to tap out of work for the week.  It's been another challenging one, I'll have to admit.  I've had to hit the doctor's office for a few tests that were nothing short of agonizingly painful and emotionally draining, all with the hopes that nothing will be there but normal results.  Nuff said, there probably are normal results on the other end of this ordeal for me, but getting there has been, well, challenging.

But work has been the greater challenge this week.  On a bright note, this is the first 3 week stretch I've had I think since March without having to take a sick day for myself or the kid.  So while I find myself thanking the universe and my doctor for making an asthma connection and giving my daughter a puffer, I also find myself at the end of my rope with the politics of corporate life.

I want to shake the hand and kneel at the foot of the one executive in this world who is undeniably offended by her subordinates lack of faith that they can read, are interested in the details and can "figure simple shit out" without a step by step illustrated instruction manual.  I really do.  I say all this because I'm sure there's just one out there, if any exist at all - and if more exist, well then they are as secret as Willy Wonka's Oompa Loompas.

And I say "her" for what I hope are obvious reasons.  Suffice to say, I suspect if a woman is in a position of power she got there by figuring shit out on her own, and she got there by having to outsmart and outlast a whole lot of opposition...and frankly, I know that most women in an executive role don't last long if they in fact got to where they are using their good looks and charm.

At any rate, I find myself desperately trying to figure out how to get from here, to a position of "it is what it is" as quickly as I can, because unfortunately, if I linger too long on how appalling it is that executives can't be trusted to read and do math, is going to sink me into a funk that will destroy my whole freaking weekend.

But I'm afraid I'll have a much better chance of spotting Big Foot or the Loch Ness Monster before I lay my eyes upon the rarest species of all: the smart, compassionate and empathetic executive.

* Update: After posting this, I thought I'd have a run at googling "smart, compassionate executive".  Guess what turned up?  No list of links to specific execs, but top of the list was Michael Hyatt's hire me blog about Intentional Leadership.  Hmmmmm...mayhaps I'm on to something!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Hats On For Awareness

So I just heard about something happening in our great city, and unfortunately it's too late for me to make arrangements to attend.  I just wish I'd heard about it sooner.

I'm so glad to find out that something like this is finally taking place.  Often while I worked within the mental health circles, I begged and pleaded to see this kind of fundraising take place.  As with most smaller municipal not for profits, the concept of this type of event was just too big, too foreign and too expensive to contemplate.  I'm so excited to see it blossoming somewhere.  This kind of attention is precisely the kind of attention that people with Mental Health needs are desperate for!

September 13th is the Hats On For Awareness Hatsquerade gala.  It's a shame not to see CMHA's name listed as a primary sponsor.

This is the photo Nicholas Rosaki of Dabble Magazine and CityLine fame has posted of himself from last year's gala!  It looks like so much fun!

I am sooo planning ahead for next year!

Think Happy Thoughts everyone!  Make some lemonade today!

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Shaking God

There are times in everyone's life when we feel abandoned and disillusioned, and well, forsaken.  By everyone including God.

Now I'm not an overly religious person.  I prefer to practice my faith in my own way and on my own time, because I believe that if there truly is a force out there greater than the universe, well, then he or she or it, would simply prefer a more direct and informal relationship with the beings it shepherds over a cult like routine worship that pays lip service to the gospels that are intended to be practiced every day.

With all that said though, there have been a lot of days in the past few weeks where I've wanted to simply shake God for delivering such pain and suffering to me and the people in my life.  If everyone would just live by the golden rule (which by the way isn't exactly religious in any way), then we could all live peacefully, and happily in our own utopia.  It seems completely unreasonable to me, that we've been pitched against each other like pawns in a really lose lose game of chess between good and evil.  The innocent bystanders in those wretched games end up living and suffering with anxiety, depression, scizophrenia, and any other list of ailments as long as my arm, and maybe even then some.

Yesterday, a coworker I've become rather close to over the past year, was telling me that an absolutely horrendous disease that she suffers with, is getting worse.  Both of us working a country away from each other, there was nothing I could do except to read her words (paraphrased but accurate) "I feel foggy.  Just not right.  Heart not pumping enough blood or something.  Chuck's (her husband) not home til tomorrow.  I started getting tremors this weekend, and I guess I never expected them to come on this fast.  I broke my kindle.  I couldn't open the garbage bin.  It all just pissed me off.  I just can't stand the idea of someone having to look after me.  It just kills me that that's what's ahead of me."

She suffers from a disease called Mitochondrial disease.  So rare that only 1 in 4000 people have it.  So devastating that in her case it is attacking her heart, her nervous system and her brain.  She can develop Parkinson's, Alzheimer's and endless numbers of other conditions simply by having this one disease.  And for someone so bright and intelligent, and dedicated and ostentatious to be plagued with something that has no cure while we continue to bark up the cancer tree pouring money at it left and right with no resulting cure all's, it devastates me.  What's worse is that she's killing herself to keep her job, and keep her symptoms under wraps for fear of losing her job and her benefits and the financial ruin that will befall her family if that does happen.  She's fighting tooth and nail to stay alive so that her family isn't burdened by the cost (both emotional and financial) of her long term care.  It makes me appreciate where I live and the health care I receive so much more watching her dig in and fight like Muhammed Ali under a health care system that is so broken and politically disputed.  Knowing that the Republicans would sooner see her die than collect the healthcare she needs in order to protect the "constitutional rights" of insurance companies?

And I realize that there are so many people in the United States suffering from mental illnesses also, who are unable to get the help they need because the cost of medications is skyrocketing above what they can afford to pay with limited benefits.

And it makes me want to shake God, that the idiots have loud voices, and sharp knives, and the smart people have only been given dull, blunt weapons with which to retaliate in this battle.
It makes me want to shake God for praying on the meek and delivering them unbeatable illnesses that drag on for decades.
It makes me want to shake God that he hasn't given me a better opportunity to help these people while not forsaking my family to do it.
It makes me want to shake God that some of us have to choose to live every day, while others choose how to make it harder for us.
It makes me want to shake God, that he has forsaken so many of us, and allowed so many others to flourish.
It just makes me want to shake God.

Friday, September 7, 2012

Steady as she goes

So I'm officially through a full day and night without another panic attack and the aftershocks have actually worn off.  Aftershocks feel just as awful as the real deal for me.  I feel ill, and woozy, and like my ears are on fire.  As my muscles catch up with the relaxation of my heart and lungs, I feel dragged through a knot hole backwards, and it takes immense patience to deal with the amount of time it takes to reach a normal state of alertness and calm.

But a couple of nights work free with the hubby, a couple good cathardic chats with my mom and a friend, and a seriously awesome bath with a bottle of wine, and things are levelling off.  At least for now.

In the meantime, my neighbours up the road have had a new display up for the last couple weeks and I am finally able to manage sharing it with you.  If you look super duper closely, you'll see that the teacher is a crane, and they are all sitting at bench desks...Yes in fact, a few of them even remembered their backpacks!

Thank you to Zoolander for the answers to life's oddities.

You can imagine how the first day's lesson goes:

Mrs. Crane: Welcome children to Honk Your Socks Off 101.  In today's lesson, we're going to learn about honking etiquette.  It is not ok to honk AT humans, but it is ok to honk FOR them.

Goose 1: But what if the human runs out of bread crumbs?  Don't they deserve a good honking?

Mrs. Crane: Ah Goose 1.  Good point, however, if the human has already shared bread crumbs with you or your friends, then it's unfair to chastise them.  In order to ensure you get a second opportunity at bread with that human, you're going to have to give a little.  Remember this, just swim away in a circle, honking once you're a safe distance from them.

Goose 1: Yes, Mrs. Crane.

Goose 2: But what if they're only sharing their bread with another goose?  That's totally not fair.  I'm hungry too!

Mrs. Crane: Another good point.  But if you want any bread at all, you'll be wise to remember that making a big stink and scaring one may in fact result in you getting some bread, but it is also more likely that you'll scare them away, and no one will get any.

Goose 2: Yes Mrs. Crane.

Mrs. Crane: Are their any other questions before we get on with today's lesson?

Goose 3: I have one Mrs. Crane.  If we can't honk at them for not giving us bread, can we crap on their cars?

Thursday, September 6, 2012

Super Woman Syndrome

I don't know if it's really a syndrome in some medical journal somewhere, but I sure know it applies to my world.

I'm living in the land of panic attacks and depression again, and it's about as rough as you could imagine.  Between things heating up at my work, and things hubby's work are an inferno, and our daughter's terrible two stage all has me peaking over the edge of a cliff and being secretly joyful for a bit of that kind of relief (metaphorically speaking of course).

Panic attacks for me are more severe than they have ever been before.  They used to make me feel claustrophibic, gasping for air and trying my level best to regulate my heart beat.  They felt a lot like when your blood sugars get a bit too low.  But now, there's all that PLUS, a sort of blanking out behind my eyeballs.  Like there's a discernible disconnect between my brain and what my eyes are registering.  Everything is blurred and slow motion.  There's also a disconnect between my ears and what my brain is registering.  I hear everything, but it's affected by that same cloudiness and slow motion that my eyes are dealing with, and both are coming at me like they're on different tape reels.

They are debilitating.  They scare the bejeebers out of me more than ever before.  I can no longer drive when I'm having them (I learned this with a close call last night), and that means I'm limiting my ability to cope with my parental responsibilities.

I'm no longer in a position where I can afford to take time off work.  I'm no longer in a position where I can take ativan as soon as I feel them hitting, because being incapacitated and asleep also does not make for solid parenting skills.  I'm meditating, breathing and rationalizing the hell out of these things, and I'm still struggling to manage the physical manifestations of the chaos that's hitting me in my life.

How the hell am I going to survive this?