Friday, March 27, 2009

How Joyce Survived A March Snowstorm: A Tutorial

Now; just last week, one of my daycare kids brought his bike, because the sidewalk was clear and the great outdoors had become a possible afternoon playground for the big boys.
But that was then, and this is now.
What happened was the big spring snowstorm. Which means that my carefully planned schedule for sanity management gets promptly thrown out into the snow to die a slow and uncomfortable death.

Day One: Do not give in to the Darkness.
Plunge not into the abyss.
Dip eggs.
Blow out the yolks on another one.
Or two.
Or one and a half dozen- all that chipping and yolk-puffing is good for ridding your psyche of toxins.

Day Two: Feel around for whether your head is still physically attached to your neck. Does it just feel like it is spinning wildly and randomly several inches above the body?

Reach for the craft kit that some thoughtful being brought into your abode. Try to block the memories that you are not a huge fan of sitting and doing children's crafts. Try to remember that you have the fragile, growing minds of vulnerable children in the grip of your tremoring hands.

Note that the craft kit was the child's Christmas gift, and the instructions went out with the pine needles many months ago.
Squint through your $12.99 spectacles at the photograph of an instruction book on the backside of the craft kit, and smile optimistically, though not entirely convincingly, at the circle of eager children.

Lay out the wide variety of ingredients that apparently constitute a fairy.
Plug in the hot glue gun.
Engross myself in the mystery of how to form a fairy from the rib of a craft kit, a handful of small ropes, and a felt wing.
Get right into the swing of the thing.

Look up some time later to notice that not a single child is left at the table. Only a fairy made out of strings.
And me.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Full Disclosure: Daycare Lady Approaches State of Commitment

Now, I know it must be shocking; so maybe you should sit down.

I don't always relish watching your racecar transform into a robot. I don't live for those moments when you say; "Joyce! You know what?!" And then spend the next eleven minutes explaining how a Tide pencil removed the green marker stain off of your corduroy school pants.

Sometimes the echo of your screaming richoting off my cold, turquoise painted cement basement walls make me want to pull at my hair.

At times your insistence on going behind the couch to defile your pull-up makes my once alto voice become ever so slightly soprano. Not noticable to the untrained ear though; of that I am sure.

In light of these disclosures, I want to reassure you that the highest quality of patience and longsuffering shall prevail. We have no need of:

Dry grass.
Walks to the playground.
The sandbox.

We have the turquoise basement.
It's all we need.
We have never been more happy, or excited at the prospect of a long wet spring, followed by a mosquito infested, humid summer.

A short summer, that is.

(someone please call 911......_

Monday, March 23, 2009

Wish You Could Have Been There...

Too bad you missed it.... That happy birthday that celebrated one of my most favourite people ever. Boy-oh-boy. If the company wasn't enough all on its own; the food nearly knocked your socks off. Every morsel of it.

And where did the time go? One minute it was 7:00 pm, and the next... not so much. (3:00 am)
And you know what? Paying for it all night (what was left of it..), all of Saturday (at least the part in which I wasn't napping in....) and just a little bit into Monday... was well worth it.
Good food and good company. Truly gifts from God that ought to be fully enjoyed when one has the oppurtunity.
Takes some of the sting out of a damp, grey Monday... At work.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Though I am a Woman

I have some lovely people in my life who validate and understand and strive for better ways of living and being. I always tell my children to be good to others- compassionate and patient, and to be careful not to drive people away because we need a lot of friends in this lifetime. And it is a frequent thought of mine that I do not know where I would be; on the crazy scale, or otherwise; without my friends.

Although I recognize that no one can "fix" me; I never stop wishing for understanding and empathy, and for someone else's journey to bring me steps further along my own path of clear thinking and victorious living. For someone to recognize the "craziness" without giving up on me in the process.

It's not enough to have a woman say; "I know exactly what you mean" and then carry on into conversation about dieting and exercising and manipulating their bodies with a tone of shame and condemnation. That's going backwards, and falling into exactly what our culture has gotten itself into trouble for in the first place. The approach has to be more intelligent than that. It has to explore all the layers that lay beneath this cultural reality of women's heads being separate from their bodies- with the common view that the body is our enemy and must be brought under submission.

Although as women we know these things as facts; it is very challenging to actually live in the liberty of accepting our bodies as marvelous works of art and function. Intellectually, this is what I believe. So, after posting a raw post about the myriad of thoughts that refuse to fall in line with what I believe to be true... It was with great appreciation that I found the gift of writing in my inbox on the following morning.

And with Karla's permission, I am able to share it with you all. As I began to read this poem, I wondered where on earth she had found such a piece of writing that so closely mimicked the way I think. Soon enough, I recognized that it was her thoughts I was reading! Her writing.

So, here is a piece of Karla....

Though I am a woman –
I am smarter than you give me credit for.
I read, I write and I listen.
I observe and contemplate.
I research and dig for truth.
I am opinionated and bold.
I am informed.
I am aware.
Though I am a woman.

Though I am thin –
I am obsessed with my body.
I study myself and critque my imperfections.
I wonder if I’ll ever be satisfied.
I hide myself in baggy clothes that feel safe.
I obsess with what I have and haven’t eaten.
I can never run or work-out enough.
I fight the demons in my mind and memory.
I wish my body were different.
I wish I were stronger.
I wish I could find peace.
Though I am thin.

Though I am a mother –
I have a mind that is engaged.
I see a world beyond my four walls.
I am made up of layers that you have never seen.
I hold onto dreams that are not fufilled.
I want to believe in my value and worth.
I work hard and am creative.
I know I am often wrong.
I fear I am failing.
I fear I am not enough.
I fear the future.
Though I am a mother.

Though I follow God –
I am not a right-wing fundamentalist.
I can see the world through someone else’s eyes.
I don’t always know what I believe.
I have ideas that don’t always fit.
I color outside the lines.
I believe that faith can exist outside the church.
I respect the thoughts of others.
I want to live like Jesus.
I think that doubt is not the enemy.
I embrace ritual, tradition, and story.
I choose to love my neighbor.
I choose to keep walking.
I choose to have hope.
As I follow God

Which leads me to wonder.... If this were your poem, how would it change?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

She Posts A Picture Of Her Cat

... So that her readers will see that she's not devoid of joy and beauty.
See those loverly roses behind that cat? My Brian bought me those. And some white chocolate with almonds. Lots and lots of almonds, just the way I love it. And a newspaper.
Yes, the condition of "vulnerability hangover" has descended upon me. Great catch phrase; isn't it? Coined by Brene.
Who knows... Maybe tomorrow I'll put up a picture of a puppy?!

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Crazy Talk

I get awfully tired of being crazy.

I pick at the skin around my fingernails until they bleed and sting.
I obsess about the roll on my stomach and the width of my thighs; all the while hating and resenting every single thought that relentlessly plagues my mind.

I am not preoccupied with beauty. I have make-up that I bought years ago because I so rarely think to apply it to my face. I've not had a haircut since September. I don't own a straightener and I've never paid someone to colour my hair. I just don't care all that much what people think of my beige lips and stringy hair. It's not me.

But can I adapt that thinking to the shape of my body? Not for lack of trying. Do I actually consciously believe that my value lies in my shape and size? Not for a minute. Does my thought life reflect that? NO, NO, IRRITATINGLY NO. My mind has a mind of its own.

And I get so tired, tired, tired of it.

Sometimes it helps to remember that it's a "condition". And by saying that, I remind myself that it's not "me". But it sure feels a lot like me.

In the quest for predictability in an unpredictable world, my mind reverts to self-blame. Shame. When my family is in turmoil, my brain curls up and dreams of thinner thighs. When my job bores and challenges me, I dream of giving up toast forever. When I feel like life is monotony I get excited about the dream of "BEING THIN BEFORE SUMMER"! But I hate it. And I don't want it.

The sad part is that no one can save me. No one holds a cure.
I might be crazy forever.

At least that's the way it feels.

When I used to write about my eating disordered damaged mind, I imagined myself writing to masses of anonymous faces. Now when I write, some familiar faces come to mind, and I find myself worrying...... "what will they think?!" Will they pity me? Dislike me? Fear me? Feel superior to me? (And if you do, and if you are, then rejoice. I wouldn't wish this on my daughter's worst enemy.)

I do have moments and days where I don't believe that I'll have to be crazy forever. I had a break once, for five years. My mind was pretty clear. So.... it can't be impossible... Can it?

Other times, I think of it as a disability. That I'll have to live with, and live around. That I can still experience a whole lot of good living, even with the right side of my brain cut off and bleeding.

Anyway, if you are reading this and having strange thoughts about me, I think I can live with that. I wish I could explain this illness in a way that people would understand it. So often people assume it has to do with vanity, and that's an extremely limited viewpoint. It's like an addiction of any kind. So, unless you are willing to believe that people drink excessively, shop excessively, or become rage-aholics or workaholics out of a seed of vanity..... you'll have to expand your view of what causes people to numb themselves with their addiction of choice. Well, maybe it begins as a choice, but it soon owns you and leaves you with very little choice indeed.

Not that cultures who have no ridiculous standards for beauty and power have disorders like these. So, certainly, the eating disordered population (practising or just crazy) have succumbed to some sort of impossible ideals that their culture generates. So, in light of this, check out this event coming to the University of Winnipeg in May.

Filmmaker Darryl Roberts goes on a two year journey to examine America's new obsession; physical perfection. In America the Beautiful, we learn secrets, confessions, and strikingly harsh realities as Roberts unearths the origins and deadly risks of our neighbor's national quest for physical perfection. Follow Darryl as he asks Paris Hilton, Jessica Simpson, Julianne Moore, Michael Beach and other celebrities and experts in cosmetics, fashion, media, and self-esteem the major question at hand:Does America have an unhealthy obsession with beauty?



Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

"...CAPTIVATING..." LA Times

Screenings will follow in: Winnipeg - May 2 - 5 and 8 PM - University of Winnipeg - Arts Theatre - Eckhardt-Gramatte Hall

And sometimes, messages like this really help.

Friday, March 13, 2009

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What Do You See?

.......I see a Joycie looking at me.

So, it was a typical day at the happy happy kiddie farm in Joyceland. Things were going along in their regular way, what with SJ drawing pictures and intermittently having three year old meltdowns; S and L ramping hotwheels cars and stifling the urge to indulge in potty humour; and the two tiniest cherubs catching some zzzzz's in their cozy upstairs hideways.

The naps went on for an impressive length of time, and ever-attentive Joyce snuck a peak and an ear to the two little peanuts snoozing in their chambers. All was well. Time left to clean up lunch just about in time to start dinner.

But the clock snuck nearer to pick-up time, and it felt prudent to nudge little ones from their sleepy spots in time for diaper adjustments and sippy cup refills.

And sure enough. This time as I ascended the stairway, I could hear murmerings and burblings of a sweet female nature. I pushed open the bedroom door to be greeted assaulted with a wall of....
And it wasn't from a furry feline after all. Nothing but a wee little human in this space.

What greeted my wide-eyed wonder was a little wee brown bear; peering up over the edge of her playpen in the most innocent of stances. She wore no diaper. She wore the evidence of her clever un-clothing all over her tender little self. Brown knees. Brown eyebrows. Brown sleeves. Brown little hands. Brown bed.

No chance of a quick wipe and diaper change getting this little flower girl ready and fresh for her mama's impending arrival. As a matter of fact, no chance of me picking her up without full armour for protection.

So, with a moan and a giggle to match the nonchalance of my little perpetrator, I ran down to run the tub and came back armed with a protective spiderman bath towel.

Wee brown bear got two baths. With bubbles. All the while looking up at me with the wide-eyed innocence of a sweet child who had learned a marvelous new skill and revelled in the curiosity of it all. (Sweet child. Not sweet-smelling.)

Oh. And just FYI.... Lemon juice on the hands of a brown-bear-babe two baths later will still smell like lemon on poop.
Just in case you were wondering.

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

She Loves me, She Loves Me Not...

Spring is Coming! (The kitties are losing furry bits...)

Spring hates me. It's minus 26, I've not seen the back of the house since last October, and that
bike is sitting in permafrost.

Spring is coming! We've gone into Daylight Savings Time! (too bad for Saskatchewan, we've just confused the knickers off of them...)

Not that all those additional daylight hours have any effect whatsoever on the temperatures..... Or the fifty-five-million boots that litter the filthy back porch.....
Spring hates me.

Spring is coming! I got a bizarre, and undeniable urge to take on the massive project of mowing the winter coat off my legs last night. Too bad I can't shave off the explosion of cellulite that seems to have multiplied unabashedly over the long, long, looooooong winter months. Something about keeping me warm, I suppose?

Spring hates me. Note the pastey pallor. Note the subtle shift in tone from a snowy white long-sleeved t-shirt, moving up into the beige lips, which blend impercievably into the surrounding tissues.
Do you love me or hate me? Please emerge from your dark chambers of mockery and bring me a token of your love. Some flowers. Mud. Bicycles. Campfires. Trampolining in the dark. Soccer season. Trips to the lake.
A reason, a reward, for surviving this ridiculous winter.
(tell me what you are looking forward to this spring and summer? Tell me what you want to kill and never see again, with regards to winter?)

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Happy Birthday Barbie!

Now, I know that I've made myself out to be a bit of a barbie hater. But it's time to come clean. I'm no anti-Barbie purist by any stretch. My daughters played with her and all her myriad of accessories and I thought that the threat of them wanting to look just like barbie was about as likely as Sam wanting to look just like Barnie, or Micah pulling at his own limbs, willing them to become interchangable lego blocks.

Now, I do strongly dislike the barbie movies that Disney puts out. The themes are disgusting. Very bitchy, in fact. I had given the barbie of my imaginations a lot more credit than those boneheads in the Disney studios did. They should have used the oppurtunity of animation to make Barbie a mighty woman of change instead of a petty, pretty, scrawny little bully.

So, as an expression of my disappointment in the way Barbie got portrayed; I've decided to post some photos of barbie that show her seedy underbelly.

Here are some photos that I came across that Barbie would just as well have had remain hidden.
The "barbie-que". Creepy.

Plastic surgery for barbies. Because Disney portrayed Barbie as essentially brainless; if a barbie becomes dissatisfied with her hair colour, plumpness of lip or cheek, or expanse of eyebrow.... Well, she simply lines up for a head-grafting. Her personality remains unchanged.
This photo depicts a peaceful rally that the girls put together when they became concerned about over-populating the dumps. It came as a reaction to my publishing this photo on the internet after my brother-in-law took me on a tour of the waste management site near Bow Island, Alberta and I discovered an entire cardboard box of displaced barbies, their assorted partners, and a lot of their accessories.

The rally was disrupted by an enraged swarm of littlest pet shop pets who administered lobotomies and altered the Barbie's hypocampus so that their satiation centers were permanently altered.

What happened next wasn't pretty.
Barbie let herself go. But then again..... wasn't pretty by whose standards? I'll bet Big Beautiful Woman would embrace this symbol of power and self-acceptance.
Well, in any case. Celebrate Barbie's birthday, will ya? Put all those long limbs to some good use. No matter what your personal opinion on Barbie, you've got to admit that almost anything beats the platinum out of the Bratz doll.

And if you are concerned that your children will grow up thinking that the Barbie doll presents some sort of ideal for the way your girlies will want to look when they grow up... Well, imagine this. If they play with Raggedy Anne, will they rip at their hair in disgust and pray for yarn to grow in its place?

Besides. I played with barbie when I was a young girl and did I grow up to have body image issues?!

hmmmm.... now there's food for thought.....
Happy Birthday Barbie! Your birthday was actually yesterday; but with all the head replacements that you've endured, and what with breathing all the thin air way up there on top of your legs, you probably won't really know that difference...

Saturday, March 07, 2009

Sure, there was the fabric; but....

The best part about meeting Mrs Rickert wasn't the boxes and boxes of upholstery samples and hoarded fabrics that she was saving for me. It wasn't the amazing piecework quilts that she had made; the hand-painted plates mounted on her wall; or the awesome collection of enamel ware and well-seasoned furnishings in her inviting home. Although it was quite a treat to find the world's most gorgeous couch in her basement, along with a handmade hooked rug, an antique child's doll stroller, and a vintage cookstove. It was delightful to see the sunny room that she sewed in, the miniature antique child's sewing machine, the intricate quilt project made with colourful batiks.

But the best part about meeting Mrs Rickert was.... well.... meeting Mrs Rickert.

It lit up my day. It put a lot of spring into the longest winter Joyce has ever endured. It reminded me why living is such a great part about being alive. And by that, I don't mean simply breathing in and out for years on end, paying your bills on time, and getting the grass cut before the neighbours get snarly. I mean really living. Taking an honest look at what you are good at, what gets you going, and then getting out there and living it.

Mrs Rickert didn't really have time to quilt and collect and put together bags and blankets for all the people in her life until she was in her mid-fifties. She was busy being a widowed mommy by the age of 30. Raising three girls and three boys by her own grit, love, and determination with a grade five education. (That she raised to post secondary status while doing all that child-rearing by herself....)

Mrs Rickert got a second chance at love in her fifties; picnicking and kayaking with another love before she lost her second husband to cancer.

Was she living the life of a victemized, beaten down woman? Not Mrs Rickert. She was busy doing what she was good at- sewing and quilting and collecting and giving.

And when I had the privelege of meeting her, she gave me a whole lot more than boxes of fabric. She reminded me of the joy in living. The seed-planting that comes of loving people, even though there's pain in the loving of them. The richness of giving. Sharing. Hoping. Believing.

Yup, the best part of all was the chance to meet Mrs Rickert.

Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Celebrate What Is; and What Isn't

So, a year ago, on a particularily slick Manitoba winter day..... there were two accidents in one family in one afternoon. My mother flipped their van into the ditch along a stretch of highway, not long before my daughter was struck by a car on her way (walking) across the street. It was quite a day. Incredibly, no one sustained any serious injuries. (notwithstanding the physio that our daughter has been taking for the past year for back pain....)
February 28 marked the one year anniversary of car, and van, and police car smashing. (the police officer dispatched to Arianna's accident scene never made it.... her vehicle flipped into the ditch before it quite arrived into Niverville.)

February 28 this year marked quite a different sort of event- Arianna's junior varsity basketball won the game that earned them the privelege of playing in the provincial championships coming up in Swan River a few weeks from now. Not only are they playing for provincials; but the boy's team won as well. Imagine being 14 or 15, and joining an entire team of boys travelling for six hours in a school bus... (Like I said. It's dreamy when you are fourteen- not so much at our age...)

There was only one way to celebrate such a momentous anniversary and the way that life went; instead of the way it might have been.

Bake a cake, and call it a party.
Hey. I'm pretty fond of these people.