Okay, let's be honest here. We all present some kind of image to the world that we are hoping others see. Look to the right - that ain't me.
I am 47, proudly sport my grandmother's double-chin, and I colour my hair. Yup. I do. But I also still paint my toenails (I'm a beach bum, why wouldn't I?), and I try to take care of myself as best I can but hey, I've already admitted the iced mocha addiction. Occasionally I get fries with that. I do, indeed. Rarely, but yeah.
So the thing is, I guess I am admitting that I am far from perfect. Sometimes I do get the distinct impression that my guy, Superhuman Steve, as-he-shall-be-known, looks down on me for these imperfections. But maybe that's just me and my own insecurities. But let's face it, he walks at 5:30 a.m. (I snore at 5:30 a.m.), he exercises way more than I do, and he eats very little salt and sugar. He sure as heck could never be caught sucking back a Nancy Botwin sized mocha (assuming she was a chocoholic, for who really knows what was in those icy delicacies she sipped on in many scenes on Weeds?). Never mind the calories - those things ain't cheap! (although I admit I am kerfuffled as to why many ebook readers balk at buying ebooks that cost the same as the specialty coffees many consume each day).
Anywhoo, the thing is, some days I just get tired of trying to fit into some kind of mold. I get tired of feeling nervous in social situations where I have to make small talk. I get mad at myself for walking away thinking "gee I hope I didn't offend that person with that comment" or "crap, why did I say that?!" Maybe all this self-doubt is the Irish in me, or perhaps it comes from single-parenting for many years and spending a lot of time alone or, I admit, lost in worlds like the Drifters one where friendships are key and one can maybe overcome that sense of isolation and low self-esteem.
The more I think about this and talk to gals I've become comfortable enough to chat with without judging myself all the time, the more I realize I am simply not alone in this. And on the good days I can easily set the negative self-chatter aside and just enjoy being me. Did you know I posed semi-nude in a fundraising calendar last year? At age 47! Muffin top and all. Yup. And I swear it's the best photo of me ever taken. I won't be posting it on the net where digital images live forever (insert Twilight Zone theme here) but I don't mind that it's going to hang in, uh, warehouses, perhaps? At any rate, I'm proud of my photo and of the courage the cast of the play Calendar Girls showed in order to break down those negative thought patterns we all bring upon ourselves from time to time.
So this post is supposed to be about Pilates - well, I go to Pilates classes. I do. I am in Mat Level Three and I am very proud. I'm not new to exercise in any way, shape or form but I've also admitted my iced mocha addiction. It's been freezing out lately so I don't take as many walks as I usually like to. I've had knee surgery (growl - both knees, identical tears that, ahem, likely were the result of years of karate and boot camps and zumba) so my activity level is just building back up. I asked for Lululemon for Christmas (I'm a PEI writer and filmmaker, you think I can afford Lululemon during the year? Think again! Although maybe if I cut down on those mochas…).
I've discovered that I love Pilates. I like the women in my class (some are even reading my books! Last week I was accosted at the door by someone at the end of Promises, hee hee! She was kinda mad at me…) and Meghan, the instructor, is a riot. She's a great teacher - patient and often entertaining as well. And she invited me to bring my books in to show the class, which was intimidating but fun. So I am working on my abs - awesome results, by the way - and now I must make more time to work on my cardio and the rest of the imperfect me. Why? 'Cause I like it.
Most times these days I like who I see in the mirror. Not always, but I'm trying. But you know something? I don't think it' so much about how I look or what I eat or how old I am or my struggling attempts at 'fitting in' or 'saying the right thing' or any of that. I think it's because, despite any bad habits I growl at myself for, I have found my passions and somehow finally giving in to the desire to write and tell stories through books and films comes though from the deepest recesses of my being, and the inner light that shines there, starting from that tiny seed that I hid for so long, brings me so much unequalled joy that my entire self lights up from within like one of those glow-sticks kids carry around at summer fireworks. (What colour am I? Neon green? Orange?)
So if you are like me (and many women are, especially those of us who spend a lot of time alone), FIND your passion, GRAB it by the balls, and LIVE YOUR LIFE! Find joy in the small things, love the people you live with, and drink your iced mochas with unbridled enthusiasm and glee. I'm not saying be careless or cruel to yourself by choosing bad habits and revelling in them, what I am suggesting is that you do the best you can and stop growling at yourself for the little slips or the occasional detour into McDonalds for salty fries (anyways, don't us women need a little salt about once a month? Ummm?).
The moral of the story is, we must choose our own joy. Not by sacrificing important stuff like, hey, your kids' Christmas concerts, but by stifling that negative voice that threatens to leave us damaged and insecure. If you promise to try, so will I. I'll continue to go to Pilates because it's a fun night out, not because I have any great aspirations to look like 'skinny balancing-on-the-ball gal' up top there. (although I admit I feel pretty awesome in my new LULU). I will try to quiet that niggling voice that I hear when Steve asks (barely disguising his disdain - oh No! I said I wouldn't do that!) "Did u have your coffee today?"
But if I do have a down day, I know where I'm going. And man, am I lucky to have that.
One final note - I was working with Grade Ten students on some recent video / film projects and one of the kids, a writer, confided in me that his parents fight. "A Lot," he said. How do you respond to that? I told him that he is lucky to have a 'place to go'. He knew I meant that fantasy world in his head where all of us writers disappear to on occasion. Some go running, some listen to music (yeah, that's me as well, but it's usually accompanied by new and varied Jessie and Josh storylines). The kid at the high school has written a novel, by the way. He's fifteen. That tells me a lot…so I dunno if I said the right thing, but as I was walking away all I could think was "hell yeah, glad you got a place to go, kid." I hope he makes out okay. I did remember to tell him not to forget about us little people when he's rich and famous. That got a chuckle. I told all my students that. Not that I want them to think they need to be rich and famous, but just because I want them to believe in themselves and in their dreams.
Ok, time to sign off - I'm rambling. Must have been that iced mocha. Espresso will do that to you. Thoughts come firing a mile a minute...
'Nite! I'm off to see Blue Rodeo in concert! A nite filled with live music by a Vancouver band…how happy am I? You know I'll be picturing Jessie up there singing a duet with Jim Cuddy!
Old habits die hard.
Cheers from little ole PEI :)