35 Things before I’m 35

My 35th birthday is coming up on December 18th.  That’s 71 days from now.  It would have been much better if it was 70 days because then that would have been 35 x 2, but I’m not that anal retentive about stuff like that… (or at least I pretend not to be).

This birthday will perhaps be the first birthday in many years which I approach from a good place in my life.  I am happy, I am healthy and I am calm.  It’s not a fluke that I am approaching my birthday with these feelings, it’s a product of a lot of hard work, both mentally and physically.  It’s a product of having people in my life that are supportive and loving and encouraging.  It’s a product of removing from my life people who are NOT supportive, loving or encouraging.

The last birthday that I remember being happy for was in 2005.  That’s 8 years ago.

To celebrate and to hopefully enhance the feelings of happiness and joy in my life, I’ve made a list of things I’d like to achieve in the next 71 days.  It’s kind of an offshoot of the Journey Plan I do every year, so some things will be the same… and then there are fun new things. I realize that usually people make these types of lists years before milestone-esqe birthdays, but I had other things on my mind in the last few years… So I’m making a modified, achievable version… altho not without some challenges! 

Mail 35 postcards/greeting cards/post it notes to friends and family

Get a ‘makeup makeover’ at MAC

Run 60 miles

Finish reading a book (any book will do!)

Be the subject of a photo shoot

Get a facial

Write another Future Me letter

Get two massages

Write a thank you letter to three people who helped me out of my dark time and into the light

Dial down the potty mouth (that’ll be hard to measure…how DO you measure that?)

Take out the compost weekly

Go on Snowshoeing adventure

Plan the continuation of my tattoo

Take a bubble bath once a week

Make two skirts

Reconnect with an old friend… I’ve got a few candidates in mind

Fill out daily postcards

Join ‘The World Needs More Love Letters’ and then write love letters

Shoot guns

Play in the studio

Knit a pair of mitts

Do one Whole30 (at minimum… keep going for as long as you can)

Get a haircut

Drink at least 30 oz of water at work and 30 oz of water at home.  Per day.

Wear jewellery every day

Get a manicure 

*UPDATED ITEM*  Do the ‘Plank Challenge’ and be able to plank for 8 min by Dec 18th

Okay… this is 26.  I have 9 more spaces, so if you have any suggestions, bring them on!

Not bad for 36 hours…

In the last… oh, lets say 36 hours, I’ve logged 9.6 miles in a combination of walking and running…

I went for a run on Sunday… I woke up to find it raining and very cool outside and as I had languished in bed and on the sofa in an attempt to get rid of a ripping multiple day headache to no avail, I figured that going for a run in the rain, as suggested on Twitter by Tara was the next remedy to try… I also figured that if it didn’t make me feel better, it wouldn’t make me feel worse so I wasn’t in a position to lose anything by going.

I don’t think I broke any land speed records for my time… I ended up accidentally turning off the timer halfway through… I was ticked that I turned the timer off… and then I realized that altho I like to know my time and I like to improve on it, sometimes being out there, running in a downpour with a ripping headache isn’t about the time, it’s about the effort. 

Yesterday I headed downtown and went for a long walk with a friend.  We took a cab into Stanley Park and then headed out toward the Lion’s Gate Bridge. The plan was originally to walk to the bridge and then turn around and walk back as we were hoping to stay on the shady side. By the time we got to the bridge the sun was going down and altho it was still incredibly hot, we decided to walk on the sunny side for a while… Friend isn’t crazy about being so warm so we were both very surprised that we managed to keep going… We were glad we did because we happened upon the Brahm Tam’s Stanley Park drum circle.  It was kind of cool and we stood and watched for a bit before continuing on…(the video is someone else’s but that was exactly when we were there) and then happened upon the bit of beach that the rock stacker guy does his magic… and then on past the ‘In the Park After Dark’ location where they were showing Dirty Dancing.  I LOVE that movie… we didn’t stop tho… we kept going, stopped for a bottle of water and a snack of a slice of pizza and the icing off the top of a cupcake (It worked out perfectly… I like the icing and he likes the cake…)

We strolled through the residential areas of the West End on the way back to my bus stop and ended up logging a total of 7.1 miles.  It took us about four hours all told between walking, stopping to gawk around and take a pic or two, eating and then wandering back. Next week we’re going to start further back in the park so we go around the entire thing… Should end up adding a couple miles to the total, which is fine by me! 

Besides having just a really nice time, I couldn’t help but think to myself that this was my reward.  All my hard work and sacrifice (hello, running in the rain isn’t as romantic as you think!) thus far has paid off and a 7 mile walk isn’t really all that big of a deal… I mean it’s not a ‘deal’ at all… it’s a nothing… the thoughts going through my head when the idea was proposed to me was ‘what cute top should I wear’ and ‘should I bring a hoodie’.  It wasn’t ‘can I make it’, ‘will I be sweaty or out of breath’ or anything of that nature… All my cognitive effort the entire time was on laughing and telling/listening to stories and being silly.  I acted out a whole portion of the Friends episode where Rachel and Phoebe go running (linked here for you… v funny!) 

As I continue on in my journey for health and wellbeing, both for my mind and my body, I’m enjoying taking more ownership of who I am…

I’ve found myself thinking a lot about the excuses that I’ve made for myself in the past… in a probably useless effort to try and convince people around me that I wasn’t a train wreck.  (Now, don’t get me wrong, I don’t think every overweight person is a train wreck… but my weight issues came from trainwreck worthy things and this is my blog and I’m talking about me.) 

Ownership of who you are means that you don’t make excuses… you’re just who you are, both good and bad.  It’s difficult to explain and I don’t think I’m having an eloquent enough day to try and explain it but it’s a very freeing feeling. 

So, to sum up.  I’ve logged almost 10 intentional exercise miles in 36 hours, walking on the seawall is fun, I like my friend and I own who I am, both good and not so good.  Not bad for 36 hours!

Here’s a pic from about halfway… just to the left out of frame would be Siwash Rock (for those in the know).

Siwash Rock

Trust in the Timing. Always Trust.

I’ve been wanting to get another tattoo for some time now.  The one I got I love uncontrollably but I want to celebrate my new life.  When people had asked me what I was getting, my answer was that I could FEEL it in the back of my mind but I couldn’t SEE it yet… Frustrating right?  It’s so difficult to not be able to put words and descriptors to a feeling.  Even when I tried, I felt tongue tied and like I wasn’t meant to be talking about it.

Jumping the gun as I am wont to do, I booked a consultation with an artist that came on a recommendation from a friend of a friend before I could ‘see’ the design I was feeling.  I went down with my girlfriend and we chatted with him for an hour.  The style of her tattoos appeals to me and so she showed him hers, we talked about what was driving the tattoo, what I was celebrating, why I was where I am today and what I’d come through.  I really thought that he ‘got’ me.  As it turns out, I was either right and he did ‘get me’ but then didn’t spend any time on the work whatsoever… or he didn’t actually get me at all, which is reflected in his design.

The design is absolute garbage.  It has nothing to do with anything remotely meaningful to me at all.  I still couldn’t see my design through the haze but I knew for sure that this wasn’t it.  ‘I’ll know it when I see it’ was something I said to a friend about it.  I’ll just know.

So I sent the garbage design to my friend… mostly for a laugh… mostly because we’d just been talking about the design and the odd feeling I was getting from this artist.

Well as I’m sure you can gather, the reaction to the picture I sent wasn’t good, but then the most amazing thing happened.  The inspiration that I was searching for… the lens I needed to see what I could already feel.

“May I make a suggestion?” he said.

“Yes!  Of course” was my reply. 

“It’s simple.  I’m lending you the hummingbird coin back.  Use it to inspire you” he said.

 

And there it was.  A rush of emotion washed over me and I could finally see it.

I know what the design is, I’m in love with the inspiration and the meaning behind it and it all shone forth from the back of my mind… it broke free of the haze.

Maybe this all seems overly dramatic for a tattoo.  Maybe it IS overly dramatic for a tattoo.  The thing is that this tattoo is a part of my journey… a journey which is so important to the rest of my life.  I assured my friend many times that I wouldn’t get anything tattoo’d on me that I wasn’t in love with… that wasn’t the perfect thing.  And that was true.

I want to say that I shouldn’t have jumped the gun on going for that first consultation (since I’m actually on a wait list for the guy I REALLY want to do the work), I shouldn’t have tried to explain something that wasn’t ready for public consumption and I shouldn’t have tried to force the issue of seeing what it was.  But had I not had the awful design to show to my friend… to open the window to his simple suggestion, then I may not have gotten where I am now.  It’s a metaphor for life if you think about it.  Mistakes and decisions you make will inform the future.  You might not see how at the time and you might not know when, but if you’re open to the idea then eventually the whole picture is layed out in front of you.  Perfect and meant to be.  I love that!

Don’t look at me!

A long time ago, when I was unhappy… no, downright miserable, I didn’t really care what I looked like. I was standoffish and mean to say the least because my home life was a nightmare… It was hard to see the beauty in things and I certainly didn’t see any beauty in myself. Now that I’m so much happier and content and at peace, I’m a heck of a lot nicer to be around and putting makeup on and doing my hair nicely just reflects outwardly the inside that I care so greatly for. I didn’t start this lifestyle of Paleo and working out to get a nicer outside, I started it to get a nicer inside… but it’s hard to keep the ‘nice’ contained to the inside and so it’s becoming reflected in the care I take for my appearance now. It was never a lie back then that I didn’t care what I looked like… I really didn’t. I was working day by day to just get through the days without losing my mind and there was nothing left to invest in my appearance.

Now that things have changed on the inside, my outside is becoming pretty nice… some days I look in the mirror and see how far I’ve come… and sometimes I look in the mirror and I see how much work I have ahead of me and how long it will really take to wash the pain of those years away… an interesting dilemma has surfaced.

I have a huge secret that I have carried around with me, starting in 2005… and then it doubled itself in 2011… I talk the talk of not carrying shame in something you have no control over… I am an armchair advocate for women’s rights and mental health care for those that need it. I would tell someone till I’m blue in the face that rape and abuse and sex assault is not their fault and that mental health should not carry a stigma with it. Because I, from the seat of my being, believe this to be true.

I was sexually assaulted twice in the last 8 years. Once by someone I barely knew and once by my ex 22 days before we finally ended it. I am in general, not traumatized by it. I made decisions at the time to prevent myself from being harmed more than necessary and while it’s incredibly painful to think about what people with no conscience will do… and I know it will be heartbreaking for people who know me… I’m honestly fine. The thing is tho… that kind of thing… it changes you. It changes parts of you that you wouldn’t think or know it changes until something in your life comes up to show you how you’re different.

The experience has made me quite shy… I’m not usually one to be labelled as shy… in a group of people I know, where I feel safe, I’m not shy… but in any situation where I feel even a little bit vulnerable or out of my element, my personality shuts down and I become painfully shy. It’s taken a very special person in the last little while to see me through my shy protective barrier and pull me out. That same person, who I’ve mentioned here before as a dear friend of mine has also showed me that trust is not always misplaced.

The other thing that my experiences have made me is incredibly self conscious. I’m absolutely terrible at taking compliments… It borders on rude how terrible I react actually. It’s something I am trying to work on… it all goes back to trust then right? Trust the person… trust what they say… trust that there is no ulterior motive. For the last ‘can’t even count that high’ years, I didn’t care what I looked like. Truth was, that was a safe place to be for me. Not that I knew it at the time, because the reason I was wearing so much extra weight was due to other life factors and an emotionally abusive situation. But when the outside started to become affected by the dramatic changes on the inside, that’s when it hit me. People are going to look at me. And I am not comfortable with that. I’m comfortable sharing an anonymous photo of my bikini clad before and after on the internet… I’m comfortable posting pictures of myself online… that’s all anonymous… I’m not comfortable wearing a nice shirt that shows my… ahem…‘assets’ …in a complimentary light and then having people look at me. I rationally don’t think anyone is out to get me and I rationally actually don’t think that anyone would be too interested in me for looks alone. However… the damaged and irrational side of me… that voice in my head tells me to walk faster, keep my head down and go eat some ice cream to get a bit of protective fat back because it’s a dangerous, dangerous world out there. Now the rub… I’m also not comfortable wearing baggy clothes that hide all the work I’ve put into myself. I’m not comfortable wearing too many layers for how hot it is outside and I’m not comfortable pretending that I don’t care about how I look. And there is the situation at hand. I don’t want people to look at me but I’m not going to dress or care for myself in a way that prevents it. I honestly don’t know where to go with that. I wish I could say that the last paragraph of this post was going to be some enlightenment over my dilemma… that I’d made some dramatic association and solved my own problem. I haven’t. The only thing I can give myself is another day and another day loving me from the inside and allowing that to show on the outside. I can only be stronger from my experience and while it would be impossible to say it will never happen again (but God I hope it never EVER happens again), I have to know that my instincts both times were right… and be stronger in trusting them. Because what a shame to be taught a lesson like that… twice… and not to take it to heart and get every ounce of experience and knowledge out of it that I possibly can!

 

NB: It was only recently that I was able to recall all the details from the first assault in a linear fashion. I don’t know if it’s because I was mentally strong enough, because it had been buried long enough or what… (altho no amount of burying it resolved the acute pain of the ‘in the moment’ emotions). I do believe that rape, sexual assault and physical abuse should not be kept in the dark. I believe that the more that people who have experienced it talk about it, the more that we can use our own experience to help teach eachother. That my experience might pave the way for someone else to recognize the signs and help themselves. And to help heal our sisters and mothers and daughters who have experienced it. Every time you find out you’re not alone with your experience is another moment of strength. That takes the dark off the shame and pours daylight on it.

With that said, I do have my experience written down. I understand it now in a way that I didn’t understand it then. Having uncovered it and poured my own daylight on it, I now understand why in some circumstances, I am the way I am. There is nothing gory or perverse in my account. There is no content that you couldn’t read on a computer screen at work. And yet, I go back and forth on whether to post it. Not because I’m ashamed, or scared, or even care that it’s on the internet. More because I am terrified that it will hurt people I care about to the depths of my soul. Do I know that these same people are statistically likely to have had a same/similar experience? Of course. Does that make it easier? No.

I think it would be cathartic to share it. Even tho the majority of the readers here are strangers. Because that’s another ounce of daylight shed on my experience from each person who reads it. I’m still debating. Your thoughts would be so appreciated as to the route I should take. But even if I get 0 or 100 comments on it… the decision still rests with me.

Ssshh! Don’t Tell!

I’m generally an open book… there are not a lot of things that I keep to myself and sure as heck one of the things I find almost impossible to keep is a secret… Well, my own secrets, not ones people share with me.

See I find a secret… something so good that you want to keep it a secret SO EXCITING that I can’t help myself and I just HAVE to tell… and then I tell and tell until all the shiny and exciting bits have been rubbed and worn off and then I wish I’d never spilled the beans.

Keeping a secret is actually an art… one I’m getting much better at.  You see, the rubbing off of the shiny and exciting bits is the part that I don’t like about being a terrible secret keeper and the only way to keep the corners shiny and intact is to keep it to myself.

I have some good secrets going right now… the only problem is that because people expect me to be this open book of gabbery, generic and vague answers are very hard to sell.  I’ve been trying to change the conversation about me and my secrets back to the people who are asking because WITHOUT FAIL, people want to talk about themselves more than they care about the secret.  Try it sometime… when someone asks you a question about something that is unique to you, turn it around and ask them something and they’ll forget they were ever interested in what you were saying…

My secrets lately are of the fun and exciting variety… not to mention that it’s fun and exciting to keep secrets from certain people because it drives. them. crazy!  Yep… crazy!  I don’t think my life is really that exciting and certainly neither do a lot of people but this whole secret keeping craze I’m in right now is really messing with people’s minds!  It’s so fun!

New Home!

I’m just unpacking my bags here right now in my new WordPress home and hope to get things all straightened out and as neat and tidy as I like them by the end of the evening!

I’m on a journey of sorts lately and even tho I moved over here for practical reasons, it seems that a new home and a new outlook may be just what I needed!

My last post on Blogger, which I brought over here with me just below here was about flailing around in the dirt and generally making a fool out of myself.  Now, at least no one saw that mess but me, but I’m not really interested in making that sort of mistake again.

I would tell anyone that I talked to that fear is no reason to stay in one place, getting stagnant and old… it’s true, I’m scared… terrified I think is the word I used yesterday. I wouldn’t say that this is a won battle, but I gained some power toward it today from some rather unlikely sources and a good internet friend (Hi StrongbyChoice!) I will keep fighting, keep trying and keep going… because there is really no alternative. And lucky for me, I have God on my side… I mean, really, what’s fear when you have God….

Thanks for joining me over here on WordPress… I think I like my new home 🙂