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cognizance

After one of my particularly insane sad/mad/bad moments over the holiday I decided to start keeping a journal of thoughts and emotions to the aim of finding the patterns in those overwhelming thoughts and curbing the self-destructive behaviours that go with them. I’m no therapist, and I’m not really sure how a therapist would recommend using such a thing, so I just started doing it my way and it has taught me heaps about myself and my psyche. It’s something I learned waaaaaay back after ADD diagnosis, and thought I should pick up again as a tool for me now.

Here’s what I’ve been doing:

First and foremost, I pay attention. You know those gnawing pains in the pit of your stomach that suggest anxiety might be creeping in? You know that flush to the face when you’re angered? You know that knot in  your throat when you think you might be irrational, but whatever it is you’re feeling is SO real and unnameable it takes your breath away? You know when you can’t shut the voices off from putting you down and forcing you into a world of self-inflicted guilt? All of those things. All of those signs that my brain is about to get flooded with something I know will grow into a beast I can’t control. Every time something comes up, I write. I time and date the entries, I acknowledge the existence of the strife, name it, write about it, then forget it.

I give myself permission to do it. I write anything and everything. I write letters to the people the bad feelings are about. I write letters to myself. I write stream of consciousness drivel. I write lists. I write single words. I write three pages at a time. If it takes half an hour in the middle of my day to write 2 words, so what? It’s an investment. If it takes 30 seconds to spew complete venomous crap on paper, so what? It’s not hurting anybody.

When I say ‘every time’ I mean it. That journal goes everywhere with me.  Sometimes I’m up at stupid o’clock in the morning writing in it because I tend to do a lot of processing in my dreams, which allows bad feelings to come in unnoticed and leads to anxiety and wakes me up. Sometimes I write at work. Sometimes in the middle of cooking dinner.

I try to find a peaceful time every day when I’m feeling alright to review the entries and look for the patterns. I look for the common triggers. I look for the common times, days of the week, etc…

I give myself permission to fail. I can’t always get to writing at all times. Things will come through unnoticed. I’m not always feeling free enough from inner turmoil to look at it all objectively every day. It’s hard stuff to look at. And that’s OK.

Once I get to reviewing, I start placing not only ownership, but also values on those things I feel. When it’s all written down in front of me it’s easy to see that they’re mine, all mine. No one can make me feel those bad things. They’re emotions. They’re there. Sure, many are triggered by external sources, but they’re all mine. Part of me. Some of them are useful. Some of them are there to guard me against what the world throws at me. Some live in those places of hurt so deep they’re rubbed raw and all it takes is a look to make them come out. Some are bigger than others. Some are so small they’re laughable. All me. I value them according to what they teach me.

After a time I’ve found myself writing about happier things. Noticing the flush to the face that happens when getting a sincere compliment. Noticing how differently I laugh when I’m around certain people or how much easier everything is when I have something to look forward to. I”ve begun to notice and write about and place value upon those things too. Because those things are also mine.

I think it works, because it helps put things into perspective. It also keeps me from ‘acting out’ (I do that, I admit it) and trying to force the world to make up for it all before I’ve had a chance to think about how my behaviours will impact my psyche in the long run. It makes me see that a lot of it is because of situations I choose to put myself in. It’s part of a way out of a cycle. It helps differentiate the stuff on the surface that can be dealt with and discarded from the deep hurt that’s still raw and really, actually challenging.

xoxo,

M

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10 things

Because I’m home, sick, and generally malaisey – 10 things I have to be happy about right now:

1. My thrifted cords. They were $5. They’re 2 sizes smaller than the last pair I bought (yes, I’m vain like that). They’re in the happiest shade of teal that I’m positive cannot be found in nature.

2. Emmy. She’s the shit. I don’t know anyone else I would rather call at 2:45 on a Sunday morning to get me out of jail.

3. My renewed sense of resolve. I’ve cut a lot of bullshit and clutter out of my psyche through sheer bloody-mindedness and it’s doing me a world of good. Not sure where it will lead, but it feels damned great.

4. My job. Sure, it’s sometimes fraught like just about every job on the planet, but it’s there, it’s steady and it’s filled with lots of weird, wonderful, beautiful people that I get to hang with every Monday to Friday (except today because I’m off sick…and on bank holidays…but the option is there…you know what I mean).

5. My walks. I was out at the oval with the dog last night thinking how nice it is to live in a city in which I can get from here to there with two feet and a heartbeat. I don’t always choose to, but again, I have that option.

6. My optimism. I’ve had a lot come crashing down lately (mostly my sanity), but have never once thought ‘this is it.’

7. Music. It’s always there. Always on. Quick-witted. Like the cool best friend I get to live vicariously through.

8. Food. When I can’t muster up the motivation and drive to do anything non-practically creative, food is always there as an inspiration.

9. Lynda. She always knows when to come in with a sense of humour and when things are really as heavy as they are – and still comes in with a sense of humour anyway.

10. The sprogs. I couldn’t ask for two better beings with whom to just occupy space.

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push & run

I spent most of the holidays miserable. The kids were gone. Everyone was busy. I made the mistake of spending more time than was healthy with him, trying to be friends, awkward silences, awkward toughts, high highs, low lows, saying goodbye, then sitting with myself and wondering what it all means.

What does ‘friends’ look like?

How do I let go of all of the shit?

Is he thinking about me?

Is he with someone else?

Why am I not good enough?

Why doesn’t he want me?

Why can’t I get it together?

Why can’t I just be normal and sane?

Why can’t I be fixed and whole RIGHT NOW?

Why do I care so fucking much?

You know – all of those things the voices say that lead you to listen to sad songs and be so broody and obsessive you may as well have been named Heathcliff. This is what happens when you put all of your all into a someone that’s not you. When you don’t guard your self. It’s not healthy, kittens. It’s not healthy, but it happens. In fact, I know a lot of people to whom the ‘codependent’ label could be applied. We can get into that another time. Reality is that we fell back into our old codependent roles within no time at all and it was continuing and we were dragging each other in and over and through, but never out…never, ever out…all over again. Keeping each other exactly where we were because that’s all we’ve known for a very long time.

So then: epiphany! Two epiphanies, as it were. Two great big terrifying eye-openers that came crashing down like a month of Sundays:

NYE: Epiphany the first: I haven’t forgiven myself. This I know I can do.

My Birthday: Epiphany the second: I haven’t forgiven him. This I’m still not sure about.

I pulled my usual phoenix routine.

I pushed and ran.

I burnt it all down and started again.

I did terrible things to him. To us.

I spat venom at him until I knew I could safely slink back to my cave and not have to worry about what he thought of me. Until I knew I would be safe from his love for a long, long time.

Possibly forever.

The permanence of it is terrifying, but necessary. Carreening back through the loop-de-loop of old patterns was not helping either one of us to heal ourselves. We were not going to stop hurting each other. Everything was too much, too soon. Necessary in spirit, but not in method. Someday I’ll forgive myself for that too.

I take some small comfort in that terror. I can breathe through it because it’s all mine and I don’t have to share it with anyone. Because you can’t get lazy with fear.

Now to reimagine myself. Now to reawaken the me who doesn’t need to consume and be consumed. I used to know her. I know she’s still in there somewhere.

Now to forgive.

 

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183 emotions, just for Jamie…ok. and the rest of you lot.

In early 2010 I was charged with coming up with 100 emotions that I could name. Though 2010 has been a rather emotional year, I started the list and ended with 3 emotions in…like…march? Today, being January 31, I finally finished the list.

Jamie, because it took so long, you get 183ish nameable emotions of mine:

love curious elation envy guilt wretched shame boredom happiness optimism trust anger fear sadness disgust surprise cherished fear rejection emptiness submissive annoyed contemptuous aggressive remorseful proud loving loved wrecked gutted irritated enthralled engrossed nervous anticipatory neglected abandonned smothered relentless bloody-minded stubborn shocked awed loathed alienated welcome envelopped dismayed disappointed content eager orgasmic cranky relieved jealous hurt honoured worshipped amazed anxious desperate hopeful hopeless pitiful sympathetic empathetic worried furious fierce alive hostile aware in love aroused lustful delicate worthy honest needy distrustful impetuous impatient hopeful believed awed beautiful vengeful wanted desired fraught enraged peaceful warm talented appreciated intelligent gross amazed wonderous wonderful pain caring envied dumb heartache broken fixable ok passionate creative sick like a fucking shrew mournful promise frustrated clean zealous sexy appreciative overwhelmed snotty overjoyed lovely graceful conquering agreeable destined delighted longing satisfied astonished resentful tormented despair insecure unworthy miserable embarassed tense relaxed awake in the moment homesick lonely bitter euphoric adored capable revered affectionate cuddly courageous interested moody competent ecstatic sentimental verklempt exasperated grief isolated outnumbered uneasy out of touch apprehension desire insulted abused distressed unsure amused down right giddy desirable enthusiastic defeated bemused non-plussed careless care-free bodacious gluttonous hated obtuse glad

…and that one, you know the one that hits you like a hurricane and you can’t name? the one that comes as the result of someone touching your life so deeply but it’s lovewantdesperationhope? there’s no name for that one, but it’s kinda wonderful.

 

xo,

M

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recipe for the wicked

Last evening we entertained a motley crew of rogues and misfits in order to celebrate the birthday of the lovely Noelle. The main course was a creamy, mushroomy, wine-y, chicken-y concoction served over focaccia and sautéed, multi-coloured bell peppers.

As requested, kittens, here is the recipe for the chicken portion of the dinner from last night, condensed to serve 4 rogues and/or misfits, rather than 9:

What you need:

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts

1 lb of mushrooms (I used a combination of oyster, shiitake, and cremini) cut/broken down to bite-sized pieces

2 shallots, thinly sliced

1 red onion, thinly sliced

2 cloves of garlic, crushed

2 cups of dry, white wine

1 cup of half and half

1/4 cup of butter

1/4 cup of grated parmesan or romano cheese

1 cup of chopped, italian parsley

black pepper to taste

Method:

  1. Preheat your oven to 350 °F.
  2. In a large skillet (if you have an oven-safe skillet, you can use it to cook the entire dish), brown the chicken breasts in 1 tablespoon of the butter.
  3. Remove the breasts and deglaze the skillet with a quater to half of the wine.
  4. Return the chicken breasts to the skillet.
  5. Top the breast with the mushrooms, onion, shallots, and garlic.
  6. Add the remainder of the wine and the butter.
  7. Cook the lot of it in your oven-safe skillet at 350 °F for about 30-35 minutes, or until your meat thermometer registers an internal temperature of 170 °F.
  8. Remove the chicken from the skillet and move to a dish that will catch any drippings while they rest, leaving the mushrooms, garlic, onion, shallots, and remaining sauce in the skillet.
  9. Reduce the sauce in the skillet by about half, over medium heat.
  10. Slowly stir in the cream and cheese until completely combined.
  11. Stir in the parsley.
  12. Return the breasts to the skillet and heat briefly until warm.
  13. Serve the breasts and sauce over focaccia slices, halved lengthwise with grilled or sautéed vegetables of your choice.

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for the mens (or the womens who love their shoes)

Last weekend saw us frantically trying to find a decent pair of winter boots for the extra-large footed, amazonian who is my daughter. She gets this from me. As a 5’11” brick house (I swear that song was written for me) with size 12 feet, I learned very quickly to embrace all that the menswear stores have to offer: pants with higher rises and longer inseams, great printed button up shirts that don’t gap over the girls, with sleeves long enough for my gorrilla arms, and that can be given darts for a more fitted, flattering look (seriously, if you have the gapping issue, this is where it’s at, sistah-friends), shoes and boots that not only fit, but are also stylish. If you can get past the idea that it’s menswear (this seems to be much less a big deal for women than it is for men) and have some level of sewing talent, then pretty much any woman, no matter the size, can find menswear departments/stores a veritable fashion goldmine.

And to the men’s department we promptly hopped, skipped, and cartwheeled when looking for boots for the also-size-12-footed-at-least-5’8″ daughter last weekend. It was the first time we had to do that for her and, in the interest of full disclosure, I was kind of worried about the response. She’s hit the age (12) when she wants cute and has really taken a vested interest in developping an aesthetic all her own. Me = mortified. Not out of embarassment or anything, simply because I remember being there for the first time and was worried we wouldn’t find cute or that she would be completely closed to the idea. But, you know what? She was cool. She knew what wanted and what she wanted was what we found. For 40% off, no less. Me = happy mama.

The experience lead me to the desire to inspire. I know that my daughter and I are not the only women who struggle to find cute, fashionable, comfortable shoes. I rejoiced when the local business K&C Costumes opened their storefront because they cater to the drag community and that meant sexy shoes that fit, but when it’s not necessarily sexy, over the top, clear stillettos (FUN!) or stompy gearhead boots (LOVE) I’m looking for, I still turn to men’s shoes. In that spirit, I’ve put together some outfits, all of which I would wear in a heartbeat, that fully embrace the place of men’s shoes in women’s wardrobes.

Et voila:

I adore that Rodarte rib cage top. One day I’ll have one. The cute little bottines are Stacy Adams.

Another pair of Stacy Adams in the forefront here. Love ’em and would put them with just about everything, but I like the way this look is all about contrast (and my favourite red + teal combo). Stacy Adams shoes again.

I think this is my favourite of the bunch, being the total texture junky that I am. Riddle me this: how does Marc Jacobs make leather look like wearable candy? I want to lick that coat. Boots are Double-H. Oh. And imagine that Tarina Tarantino bit as a bracelet, attached to more gros-grain ribbon, or a bit of brown velvet ribbon, or something. That’s how I see it in my head.

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feel the love

I was questioned about my propensity for flattery yesterday. Kind of one of those ‘do you try to butter everyone up?’ digs from someone who hasn’t spent enough time with me to know all my inner workings, but enough time to notice the habit. I took it with a grain of salt at the time, but it had me thinking about the rammifications of my liberal sprinklings of compliments and whether maybe, just maybe, I overdo it.

I decided that I don’t.

While I thoroughly enjoy receiving compliments, and after many years of agonizing, have finally developped gracious ways of accepting them, I also thoroughly enjoy giving them. I think it’s in my nature as a creative and a card-carrying people-watcher. I like to let people know that their unique traits have not only been noticed, but appreciated. If I had a religion (I don’t), this would be it, as every bon mot I deliver is like a little prayer, an affirmation that, even though humanity makes me feel misanthropic and leaves me with a general sense of malaise, people, individuals like you, and you, and you, rock my tiny universe.

I think I need to add a ‘warm fuzzies’ category to this blogue.

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