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Once Upon a Time: Adventures In Plastic Surgery

fairytalecastleOnce upon a time I found myself in a plush waiting room with comfy chairs and glossy fashion magazines…

Today I found myself sitting in a questionably disinfected examination chair, clad in a mint green hospital gown and wondering what the hell is wrong with the world.

You see, I was in a plastic surgeon’s office. Not because I’d requested to have my belly banished, my nose narrowed or my melons maintained. No, it was a mistaken referral which should have been to a dermatologist.

In the waiting room, a screen played images of women’s bodies over and over, giving us all a good 3-D look at the natural flaws that ‘appear over time’. I saw nipples and bum cheeks, lips and noses. Not once did I see a man’s saggy testicles or jowly chops. Not once did they put man-boobs or beer guts in the glaring spotlight.

Nope. It was all women. Every bit of marketing was directed toward women and just how insecure we should feel about our bodies. Every single image dissected women’s bodies and divided us into pieces to be criticized and rebuilt into a singular image of beauty.

manBalderdash. How freaking boring is that? Pass the gin and bring me a man.

With catchy little tag-lines on brochures like, “Never Fear the Mirror”, and  “Love Your Lips”, it was a bit crazy.

The only thing I could think was,  “Fuck off. We’re perfect. Now get me outta here.”

My darlings, you are perfect as you are. Love your body and yourself, nothing less will transform you into a beautiful person inside and out.

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Beach Life: Bathing Suits for the Rest of Us

Sennett-Bathing-Beauties-1915_thumbI bought a bathing suit today.

Yes, I know it’s the middle of Canadian winter. No, I haven’t booked a sun-holiday…yet.

I’m debating the merits of an Irish romp with my sweetheart, or a solo beach holiday.

Either way I’m taking a two-piece bathing suit with me that would have made my mother convulse.

You see, I was raised by a woman who suffered extremely low self-esteem and did her best to pass that little nugget of twisted psychology on to her youngest daughter. That’s me by the way.

I grew up in a small town and lived at the beach. Winter, spring, summer and fall. Summer was my favourite. There was nothing better than swimming in the lake all day, the smell of malt vinegar on the homemade French fries that they sold at the little snack shack that would sometimes be lifted off it’s foundation and dragged with the tide when the spring water was high.

Somewhere out there is a photograph of me grinning a grin so wild and wonderful, that I have held that image in my mind for all of these years. It’s a moment of bliss I remind myself I’m capable of, even as an adult.

There I was, white caps at my back,  standing naked, proudly holding my bathing suit at arms length. My waist-long, blonde, pig-tails tangled with lake water and sand, just daring someone to try and get that wet, sticky bathing suit back onto my body.

I may not have been skinny enough, pretty enough, or worried enough about what people thought about what I wore every day. But I was wise enough. Typical of anyone who suffered childhood trauma, I was quiet and very observant. I was constantly tuned in to the tiniest nuance of mood, just in case.

At a very young age, I came to realize that no matter how thin, how pretty, or how well-turned out they were, there were a whole lot of unhappy women out there. And that unhappiness was ugly. Like, soul-deep ugly. Their fear of not being good enough came out as anger and jealousy, and missed trips to fun places. It stopped them from smiling. IT stopped them from going to the beach, getting their hair wet, or smudging their mascara. Their insecurity overshadowed everything. They  let their tummies and their thighs hold them back.

You see, before I even reached puberty I had decided that fat would not keep me from enjoying the beach. Or the snow, or going out to eat a delicious meal. Later on in life, I decided that fat would also not keep me from making wild, passionate love to the man I loved. Some crazy idea of being not good enough would not keep me from having fun.

Being an average looking woman would not keep me from savouring all of the wonderful bits of life, and it certainly did not make me less worthy of healthy curiosity and joy. In fact, I think this joie de vivre is one of the qualities that make many of us beautiful.

I will never be solicited for the cover of Vogue, nor will I turn the heads of men because I’m the ideal beauty. But I will turn the heads of like-minded people. These are the people who buy big, bright bathing suits, get their hair wet, and laugh with every inch of their sun-soaked, skin.

Buy the bathing suit, not because it’s going to turn you into a model. Buy it because it’s a tool in your tickle-trunk of living fully.

 

 

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Customer Service: The Art of Joy

IMG_4336

Goose. Yep. That was the message delivered from the ‘Animal Spirit Guides’ deck that was gifted to me this past Christmas.

Goose? When I think of a goose, I think of the absurd waddling they do, their plump bodies, and the way that they disguise their natural survival instincts with the appearance of total oblivion to anything other than pooping on paved park paths and wandering in circles.

This was my first week back to reality after two weeks of holiday time, away from the office, social media, housework, parenting, and anything else that required attire more formal than a bathing suit.

Having been a good-girl, I came home with some extra spending money, and decided that I could afford to treat myself to a dress that I saw while visiting The Bitter End. So, I ordered it. What ensued has been a miserable experience with HiHo Clothing’s Customer Service department, and an even more frustrating time with UPS. Lessons learned; just buy the damn dress, use FedEx, buy local.

What does this experience have to do with the Goose totem? Well, frist of all, I thought of the saying, ‘Silly
Goose’, which in my wee little girl brain means a doddering woman who is naive, and weak. Drawing the Goose totem also meant just taking an inward glance at my own attitude. A return to ‘real life’ always means kicking into high professional, domestic, and everything-else high-gear. In short, it sucked.

But why?” I asked myself over and over. Why did it feel so icky to be back to a life that I had created for myself? I love my job. I love my kid. I don’t live in a castle, but I also don’t have to shovel my own snow or mow my own grass, so it all evens out.

Satisfaction. That’s what I think it boils down to. I am very rarely satisfied with what I have, and continually strive to be better, to have more, to do more. What a lunatic!

Which leads me to believe that the atrocious lack of customer service at HiHo and UPS is a result of people showing up do to a job, get a pay-cheque, and leave to get back to their real life. It also likely means that the employees likely don’t have a great working environment, but that’s just my opinion. Rarely do satisfied employees metaphorically flip you the bird by hanging up on you or not responding to email. Satisfied employees have time to address customer questions and respond in a way that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Newsflash; Your job is your real life. Those moments on the clock are about being yourself and being of service to others, whether it’s solving problems, creating something brilliant, or cleaning up a bathroom stall so we don’t all die of some poop-bacteria-related disease.

So, as I caution you against the exceptional lack of customer service which abounds, I also challenge you to take a little look inside and ask yourself if you too are being a customer service asshole (that’s French for being useless).

Watching myself transform into an uptight-bot within 24 hours of arriving back to my ‘real world’, I took the advice of the Goose. I slowed down, took a look around and marveled at just how far I’d come, and with that attitude, I carried on with my week, trying to be kind, at work, home, and everywhere else. Most importantly, I reminded myself that it’s ok to relax, breathe deeply and trust my own value.

Doing that doesn’t make me a weak, naïve woman. It makes me healthy, helpful, and energized.

So go on ladies, dare to be a goose. Dare to create a life you life with joy.

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Gift Guide for Middle-Aged Women

its cold outside
its cold outside (Photo credit: carbonated)

In other words, what to buy for me this Christmas….just kidding. Sorta…

Although I may not be the same dress size, complexion, or ethnicity as every woman, I offer you a guide to buying for women who are between 38 and 45…or somewhere close to that.

1) Matching glove and scarf sets. Yes, we’re matchy-matchy. It’s our generation. Make it a bold colour with no pattern We will think of you every time we wear it, and have it for at least three seasons.

2) Spa dates. Yes, that’s right, schedule and pay for the whole fandango. If you get us a gift card we may not go. We’re busy you know, sandwiched between generations, working, and trying to juggle it all.

3) If you are buying for  the special lady in your life, just make it easy on yourself and buy jewelry. We like shiny things…that fit.

4) Beautiful mugs, pens, business card holders or a lightweight mirror compact for your purse. All of these things are useful and remind us of you when we use them every day.

5) Booze. Seriously. Something special, vintage or rare. For instance a lovely bottle of scotch, our favourite bottle of red, or even a bottle of fairly priced bubbly. If you are a lover, we will share with you after you’ve performed your mandatory duties. If you are a friend, we will toast with our tipples by the fireplace. If you are our boss, buy us one of each….No, I’m not kidding.

6) Treat us to a live performance, not you doing a randy striptease in your fruit of the loom at the end of the bed darling. No. How about a concert, a play, a Christmas concert.

7) Do something sweet and thoughtful. For example; buy twelve bottles of wine ( all different kinds, some for winter, some for spring, autumn and summer). Attach a cute tag to each one telling us when and where we’ll be drinking it together; “The first snow storm”, “The first day over 30 degrees”, “On our anniversary”….you get the idea.

8) Gift cards from our favourite lingerie shop. Whether it’s our every day bra’s or our finer pink and whites, we like to choose them ourselves.

9) Travel mugs. The be all and end all of every woman’s weekday routine. We like pretty ones…

10) Any trinket or gadget or book related to our favourite hobby….cycling? running? running? needlework? cooking? decorating?

This is just a primer folks. Whether you’re buying for your aunt or your girlfriend, we all love the thought that you put into the gifts that you give to us, and more than a gift, we appreciate the time that we get to spend with you. So don’t forget that.

 

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On Being a Weirdo

~Anne Taintor~
~Anne Taintor~

Despite being told by a number of men that they love strong, intelligent women, I have come to the conclusion that they have all been full of el-poopo, and that stinks.

During a recent conversation with a friend-of-the-same-vintage, I came to the conclusion, that I was the only common denominator among my failed dating adventures, and I think it’s because I’m a bit weird.

You see, I was weird before nerdy was cool. Way before it was cool.

As a little girl, my older, much into-material frou-frou sister used to turn up her nose and say, “You’re a weirdo.”

It was intended as an insult of course, but coming from someone whose personal ethic never really did it for me, I could have cared less.

As the years have passed, I realize that despite academic and career achievement  I am, indeed still that weirdo. I’m interested in process and theory as it relates to real world applications. I am fascinated by physics and karmic energy. War strategy and architecture make me lose track of time, and good writing, I mean really good, authentic journalism makes me sigh.

When Indigo designed their marketing-to-men menagerie’s, I was a bit taken aback. It seemed like anything interesting, thought-provoking, or requiring an IQ above village-idiot-level was considered man-territory. Pish posh!

I too enjoy a nice single-malt, swig of lager and adventure autobiography. In fact, unless I had a personal shopper who called me when the new seasonal suits were in at my fashion atelier of choice, I’d go to work looking like a homeless person.  I am a hard-working, professional woman, and my personal philosophy is that I should not be giving the majority of my mental effort to matching trinkets while my male counterparts get away with less education, lack of experience and are considered extraordinary dressers if their shirts are pressed.

Granted I’m motherly and like girl stuff like kittens, embroidery, romance novels, baking and jewelry. I love wearing frilly things and having my nails done when I spend time with the man of the hour and I’m a very strong, intelligent, independent woman who often likes to kick back with a beer on Friday night. I like baseball games and musical theatre. I love to camp, fish, canoe, and can also relax in a jacuzzi with vintage champagne. I enjoy it all equally. I enjoy sex for the sake of it, and reserve my heart for someone worthy.

If all of that makes me a weirdo in the eyes of the majority, then so be it.  I’ve decided that the majority of age-appropriate single men don’t have a clue what to do with a woman who can be a friend of equal or superior intellect and a lover.

To the other female weirdos out there – don’t change a thing. To the men who don’t know what to do with us – grow a pair.

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The Holiday Hustle

santahustleSometimes you just gotta dance. I mean get out there, take off your wrap, your jacket, your inhibitions, and just shake what mamma gave you!

I’m not talking about the stiff, elbows up, I-give-you-a-seven-out-of-ten style of dance. No, I’m talking about freestyle baby. The kind that you do when no one’s home and you’re dusting the Dalton’s.

There are any number of holiday parties to attend, and a zillion reasons to be quiet, go home early, or feel inadequate. Trust me darlings, we’ve all felt that way, and when we feel that way, we wither like a two day old lily out of water. It’s the antithesis of fresh and glowing. Wilted and sad are never in style darlings. Never.

Not that hibernating and living in your jammies with leg stubble and four-day unwashed hair doesn’t have it’s place in spiritual growth, but come on! A bit of frivolous silliness is just what the doctor ordered to combat our winter blahs.

So, last night, I did just that with my mumster. We met a few new people, took some silly photos, and danced until we had to mop ourselves off the floor and go home. Fun, friendship, shaking off the burden of should-be’s; that’s what a party is about, not sitting primly at a table and counting the seconds until you can make your escape.

During my forty or so trips around the sun, I’ve learned that without a doubt, time passes whether you’re enjoying yourself or not. It’s your choice; suffer through the holidays, or do the hustle!

 

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Lego My Lego

legolandscapeLego used to be one of my favourite toys. So naturally, when I was cruising other blogs to see what everyone else had to say yesterday, I stopped to read the one about Lego. What can I say?  I’m just an intellectual at heart.

Vindinsinbrisbane’s post was  about how awful it is when people destroy things.

In a very broad sense, I suppose we all value building-up rather than tearing-down. In a self-righteous, superficial way, building up someone, or something just sounds better than tearing-down or destruction.

Reading about how children kept their Lego creations on their shelves for days to play with was news to me. I liked to build something new all the time, and part of my own childhood routine was to create, and then tear down so I had a box of Lego just waiting to be turned into something new the next time I wanted to play.

Part of the beauty of life has always been letting everything follow a natural cycle of creation and decay. If I had not reinvented myself time and time again as demands in my life changed, I would likely be dead, super-depressed, or homeless. Every area of study in every educational institution continually takes apart and recreates new ways of thinking about timeless subjects, and from that, we have the opportunity to evolve.

Yes, it’s always wonderful when you can create something beautiful; art, a career, relationships, social movements that improve quality of life, but there always, without fail, comes a time when most of these things get taken down, renovated, edited or revamped to stay relevant, and I’m ok with that.

Don’t be so afraid to take something apart in your life that you miss an opportunity to create something even more beautiful.