Saturday, 30 March 2013

Ugly - A Disease of the Mind

I have been doing  a lot of thinking since the post called The Looking Glass. I received what I consider to be an overwhelming response from people who read the post. I was both humbled and honored by people's kind thoughts and words. The responses came from friends and acquaintances of all shapes and sizes and backgrounds, yet what they said to me was resoundingly similar -  I had spoken out loud what they thought on the inside. I am ugly.

 Ok, so not everyone was so dramatic, but the theme was I'm not happy with myself as I am. At first, this made me so sad.  I mean, I always think that I am capable of handling those nasty, hurtful thoughts that swirl around biting at my heart, I'm strong, I can deal with it.  But, listening to your voices brought tears to my eyes.  I know that it hurts, I've experienced it, I don't want anyone else to live out the same day after day personal torture.  The demand I place on myself to be a specific weight and look a certain way, and appear to others like I've got whatever-it-is all together is a full time job in itself.  

By nature, I'm a fixer. I want to fix things - especially when it comes to other people (and if I can fix a problem by bringing you food, I usually feel like I've won a prize) Unfortunately it's not typically that easy. Finding a source to blame is simple enough, watch TV, look at the advertisements in front of every store, for every product.  Apparently a thin woman with perky boobs can sell anything.  The only problem is, I've noticed that even though I can assign blame to society or someone else, it doesn't fix anything.  I was at a coffee shop this weekend, visiting with a friend, and a tall, bigger lady came in wearing a obviously too tight spandex pants, unfortunately, the pants did not cover her backside and her shirt was riding up her back.  Immediately I was embarrassed to look at her and just tried to ignore her poor wardrobe choices.  Unfortunately as she left to go to her car, her tight attire grabbed the attention of some prepubescent boys at a table next to us, who laughed and jeered at her. It broke my heart - I felt what she would feel as if I were her.  It was my worst nightmare played out in front of my eyes.  Yet, I realize, I am no better than those boys. I was embarrassed to look at her.  Was she beautiful?

I can remember a long time ago, I used to think, once I have a boyfriend - then I'll feel pretty.  Once I am married, then I'll feel beautiful...and granted my husband works hard at telling me he thinks I'm beautiful, but strangely I find it hard to believe. My own brain is betraying itself.

So, what to do now? For all of you dear Ladies who've looked in the mirror and judged what you've seen there, where do we start? How do we kill this disease before it reaches our daughters? I don't know all the answers, not yet, but I'm not letting this drop or die or go away.  I want my daughter to look in the mirror and see herself for how beautiful she really is, because she knows her mother does the same.


Friday, 29 March 2013

The Auburnhead Dairies - UPDATE

Dear all Faithful Readers,
So as to not take over The Dunamis Project, I have moved my serialized writing to a new blog set up for that purpose called Inkwell Treasures. The Auburnhead Dairies has moved to that blog site.
Thank you,
Jana

http://inkwelltreasures.blogspot.ca/   

Friday, 22 March 2013

The Looking Glass

The hardest place for me to be, is in front of a mirror.  When I'm away from a mirror, I can turn on the deepest parts of my imagination, and no matter what I'm wearing, or what my hair looks like that day, I can imagine that I look pretty darn good. The truth of the matter is, that when I see myself in the mirror, I can't help judging what I see there.  Though I've been told by different people at different times in my life that I am attractive, it is very hard for me to see. The biggest battlefield has to be my weight.  Some time, at some point in high school, some person, whom I obviously considered to know more about these things than I did, told me I was fat, and I believed them.  In high school I was 160 pounds, today I'd love to go back there and kick whoever told me that in the bum. 

I remember believing that I was fat, and that my legs were so ugly that no one should have to see them.  I told everyone that I didn't like wearing shorts, and wore long pants through several hot summers of my teenage years.  I will put on shorts these days, but it's only because the heat won out.  I still have intense struggles with body image, I'm thirty years old, and somewhere the thought has taken root that I am unattractive, that it's hard for me to lose weight, and trying it will just result in failure.  Recently I worked very hard at a diet, now, I haven't put all the weight back on that I lost, but I have put on a significant amount.  Talk about another reason to get yourself down.  

So, where's the balance? Do I need to lose weight, so that I can like myself, and accept myself? Or do I need to like myself and accept myself first, and then incorporating a healthy lifestyle will come more easily? I don't know. I just know that I don't like exercise - I could probably blame that on all the gym teachers comparing my unfortunately "creative" basketball skills against the other highly athletic girls in gym, but the real reason is because I like to see results, and see them right NOW.  I don't have the answers just yet, but to the girls asking the question, how do I really come to love myself and accept that a "healthy" me, may never be a size 2, me? I have an interesting answer.  Maybe start looking at yourself the way others look at you.  It's hard, really...but I've often pointed out some girl or another and said, "She's very pretty, or attractive." Then I realize that that girl's weight is very near to my own, and I don't look at her and consider her to be ugly.  In fact, looking around me, yes it's easy to recognize that I am not surrounded by Hollywood movie stars, but generally I see beautiful people. 

So, let's those of us who dread coming face to face in the mirror, as it points out our faults, remember that we were created unique and beautiful, and we are important. It's a good place to start...

Monday, 18 March 2013

Craving...

Do you know what I'm craving? That moment, that short, but sweet period of time when my brain lights up, comes alive, and transports me to the place where I am living the life of my own character, and the words flow from my fingertips like a flood I have difficulty containing.  Words spill all over the page, in great splashes of what to me, what feels like genius - because it comes so easily.  The craving doesn't stop there.  I crave that childlike happiness, how my children reach out and are eager to accept me as a part of their world, where everything is bright and colorful and full of laughter.  I could eat it up, soak in it, the laughter and delight in simple things.  I crave the quiet, romantic intimacy, security and joy my husband brings.  His gifts are logic and perspective, mine are dreams and passion.  I crave relationship with the God of the Angel Armies, an understanding of who I am, and what he has for me. I crave, I burn, I desire. But, I am a quiet sort and to look at me, you wouldn't know. 

Monday, 11 March 2013

Afraid of the Dark?

"My husband is having an affair." I could see the tears in her eyes and her face was etched in the pain of this horrible, heart-wrenching discovery.  My heart broke just looking at her, standing in her doorway, and me, a wordsmith at heart, incapable of offering any kind of words that would act as a salve for her pain.  I wanted to hug her, to cry with her, but I held back, unsure of what to do or say, or how to really process what she was saying to me - of all things, I didn't want to react in the wrong way. The compassion I felt was so overwhelming, I cried, standing there, myself. I have this naive idea that everyone's life somehow plays out like mine.  That everyone is as blessed as I am to be surrounded by a loving husband and home, and that the people out there aren't really hurting.  It's an easy mask to hide behind.

Of course, my thoughts turn inward toward myself, and in the same instant, the imagination that I hold as a blessing, acts as a curse.  All I see is how her pain might affect me, and my life.  It's this gut instinct, an automatic response that seems to kick in, as I rush to put up defenses around my own territories, lest a pain like hers, that I can only catch in distanced waves, crosses into my life.  I even find myself asking, will this disrupt me, in my happy little world, where everything is running smoothly, and is under my control?  

What is it about me, that makes what other people experience about me? I don't want my imagination to run my reactions to people.  Instead, I want to help people heal from these hurts, the pain that envelopes their life - but can I do that, if I am so afraid that the hurts of others will eventually touch me? Does God work in tragedy? Of course, I think that he does - but that's always an abstract thought.  It's one I have difficulty reconciling with events in my own life.  I don't think that God sends tragedy our way, particularly in the form of a 'test', but I am at a loss to explain why these sad events happen to good, honest people.  

I hate not knowing how to fix the problems that people have.  I hate not being able to offer them the stroke-of-genius advice filled with heartfelt compassion and care, that will perk them up for the day.  I guess that the only thing I can offer is my hand, in friendship.  A promise to care when someone feels brave enough to tell me what they're going through.  To love the way that Christ would love, in the small way that I can.  

Wednesday, 6 March 2013

So here I am...at 30

Ok, so I've been thirty for a few months now.  It's not like it was something that JUST happened, and I am getting over the trauma of it all.  Age doesn't really bother me, I don't think - but the mediocrity of life does tend to get to me.  Now, don't get me wrong, I am a wife and mother and I love that, I wouldn't trade it for all of the blessings in the world, but sometimes I sit back and wonder, what on earth made me choose the job that I chose?

I'm a teacher, and sometimes I think - I don't even like kids.  But, that could be only on the days where I felt like I sat for forty-five minutes in the middle of a cyclone I was trying to subdue into control with my magical powers, of which I have none - or I've forgotten how to use them.  I spend several hours a week dutifully typing notes for my Social Studies class, and just last week, one of the kids took the photocopied package from me and said, "You know we don't actually use these after you're done filling in all the blanks." Want to know something sad? That comment actually made me stop, and think, you don't?? Of course the rational, teacher replied, and said, "I know that, I LIKE writing notes about Japan in the Meiji period."  But, it made me stop and think, something akin to, What am I doing here, and how did I get here?

Maybe it's a mistake to take high school students with levels of self confidence in their own abilities so low, they'd become a tree if you told them it was the right job for them. The passion is sometimes hard to find, and sometimes easy to forget.  Maybe I'm just fickle, when I am teaching and into something, and the kids are getting it and at least pretending to be interested, I love it.  But, there are days that I look around the room and think, I'm the only one listening, and I don't even care. What would I have done? What job would I have been good at? Some days, I think, lots of things. Like an x-ray tech, or a secretary, or someone who doesn't start their year in September.  Of course I would miss the eight weeks of vacation in the summer, but sure could do without the uncertainty, the politics, and the demand to be everything to everyone. God blessed me with this job, he really did.  I've learned so much and I am forever grateful to have come in contact with the people who are at the school.  But, I was feeling pretty disjointed about things this afternoon, when I felt my world was spiraling out of control.  

When along came...a friend from an unexpected place, and in talking with her, and listening to her about her day, taught me something about mine. A little laughter, a little encouragement goes a long way. Thank you, my friend.

Friday, 1 March 2013

The Lady Or the Tiger

When I look back to English class in high school, a couple stories stick out to me. I don't know why, and interestingly, it didn't happen for say...math class. But, one of my favorites was Frank Stockton's The Lady or the Tiger. I absolutely love it.   It has beautiful, compelling language and imagery.  I love the moral dilemma created by the story and the fact that it takes a great deal of thought to work out a "happy" ending. Another reason I love it, is because the story doesn't end, which inevitably makes students fume, but it's an excellent way to have students work on an assignment that I think challenges creativity. I usually get a wide variance of answers, ranging from blood and death, to happiness and weddings. Anyway, I just recently gave this assignment to my grade 10/11 class, and they demanded that I too, answer the question posed by the story, Which is it, the Lady or the Tiger? 

THE LADY OR THE TIGER - by Frank Stockton is avaliable to be read online.  The following, is MY ending to the story. 


Without delay, the Princess raised her hand and indicated the door to the right.  Just as the knowledge of which door held the tiger and which held the lady, had given the Princess the key to her future, further thought and self-discussion had indicated to her what she needed to do.  Though the Princess’ father was semi-barbaric, her mother had been as sweet as a flower, budding in warm sunshine.  For the favor of her Father, the Princess had often been told that in spirit as well as looks she favored her father, but as she grew older the Princess knew deep down that she favored her Mother in sweetness but also in cunning.  For what other kind of woman would be strongly matched to a Semi-barbaric King, and able to win his heart? The Princess watched as her lover, showing his full trust in her, that if she willed it, he would be torn apart at the claws of a wild beast with forgiveness in his eyes, and reached for the door on the right.  
The crowd gasped in one collective breath as the door slowly, steadily opened. It was then that her lover laid eyes on his new bride.  As the crowd around her burst into cheering and celebratory applause, the Princess shrank back, hiding the real tears in her eyes from the satisfaction of her Father.  She would be again, his sweet but broken-hearted daughter, contrite to his every wish and command. Before she could race away from the arena, from the image of her pleasantly surprised lover, being wedded to his new bride, her father caught her hand.  With one look she understood his heart. It said, You are mine forever, I did this because I love you. It occurred to the Princess that such love was not really love, but it was the only way that the King understood love to be. The Princess squeezed his hand, and raised her face to kiss his cheek.  She knew that her Father believed that true love was not true, for her own Mother had vanished one day, leaving her small daughter all alone.  That was unfathomable, even for a man of his own semi-barbaric nature.
So, it happened that time passed, and though the Princess thought often of her lover, and wondered if he still loved her with the same fervency as she loved him.  Her broken heart began to mend, and heal, and her mind and heart push the young lover aside.  She did marry, and blessed the kingdom with a fine son, to follow her in the paths of royalty.  
By and by, as it happens with all of us who draw mortal breath, her father died and was laid to rest in the arms of his ancestors.  Soon after, the now dear King was followed by the Princess’ husband to the underworld.   Though the Princess missed him, her heart was awakened again for her lover.  Messages were sent throughout the kingdom, in search of the man who’s life she had loved and saved.  Eventually he was found, not as far off as she would have thought, and brought before the throne of the once Princess and now Queen.  
           He removed his hat as a sign of respect, and as he bowed his head.  She could see the lines of silver tracing up to his temples, as he pressed his hat to his chest.  Holding his hand, timidly and to one side, a pretty little girl, the picture of her Father.  He explained to her that not long after his wedding, his wife had left this world to bring him his daughter, and he had been living in view of the palace, and the Princess ever since.  The Princess welcomed him again into her heart, and home and eventually they were married.  It was said, by all the people of the kingdom, that barbarism no longer resided in the heart of the royalty.  For, the Princess had learned that love, faced by the greatest sacrifice, was always returned, and time made right.  One day, on a walk in the garden, he told her,
"Love kept me near to you, kept me living and breathing for you, sacrificing for you, waiting for you." And the Princess knew it was true.

The Search for Light, on the Darkest Day of My Life

It's never easy to tell someone that they have cancer. That's what the thoracic surgeon said. I wanted to assure him in that ...