Pursuing Radical Silliness & Becoming Myself

IMG_5045 I think I’m getting closer to being who I am. I’m starting to listen to the voice inside more, letting myself do things I used to put off or talk myself out of that bring me joy. For reasons I don’t understand, I spent many years not really swimming much; I’d go in the lake if the kids did, but rarely just to please myself. Reading through previous blog posts I’ve come to realize that somehow, swimming and connection with water has become a kind of touchpoint for me. So this summer I guess it’s all about the water. Every opportunity I can find, I’m in. I’ve started travelling with my swimsuit and towel in the back of my car. If I forget to bring it and the opportunity presents itself? I guess I’m going commando.

Do women do this more than men? Hold ourselves back from what makes us happy because of some crazy inner voice or fear or sense of propriety? Maybe it’s just me… I recently read a fabulous quote by Anne Lamott and it grabbed me by the throat. I’ve had it on my fridge since the day I read it.

“Oh my God, what if you wake up some day and you’re 65 or 75 and you never got your memoir or novel written, or you didn’t go swimming in warm pools and oceans all those years because your thighs were jiggly and you had a nice big comfortable tummy, or you were just so strung out on perfectionism and people-pleasing that you forgot to have a big juicy creative life, of imagination and radical silliness and staring off into space like when you were a kid? It’s going to break your heart. Don’t let this happen.”

I’m 48, soon to be 49. That gives me a bit of time between today and 65 or 75 but based on the last few decades, it’ll be here before I can say Huh?  My mother is 70, and she’s 21 years older than me. Doing the math left me a bit stunned when we celebrated her birthday. That means I’m only 21 years from 70. Holy…. To me, that means I’m on a mission now. I’ve got a lot of experiences that have been waiting around for someday. I want to go to the night market in Chiang Mai,  to Vietnam,  Positano, Provence… I MUST visit the Caves of Cappadocia in Turkey. I’ve always wanted to, in fact. Now it feels a bit urgent.

I know I may live another 40 years, happy and strong and sassy but I’d better get a move on. I’m not waiting… I’m not waiting to have the right person to travel with. Not waiting for a new partner, a best friend with the same travel style and vacation days and budget as me… I’m going to go. This summer I’ve camped on my own, swum on my own, gone hunting for cool new experiences on my own.

This fall, the universe willing, I’ll be travelling to South East Asia. On my own. That is simultaneously exhilarating and terrifying… fingers crossed it’ll be one of the biggest adventures of my year. I’m not going to lay money that it’s going to be the biggest though; of the 365 days 2015 has to offer I’m hoping to create some pretty spectacular memories. I’ve already tucked a few into my “to be reviewed later” folder… can’t wait to add a few more. Wanna go for a swim? IMG_5073 FYI, these photos were taken a couple of years ago at the summit enroute to Skagway Alaska. That lake… it’s brisk. We’ll call it brisk. But it was glorious and I’ll be forever glad I jumped in.

Body Armor and Good Shoes

Image

Today I am dressed for work. Really dressed for work; black pencil skirt, lovely drapey blouse, suit jacket, neutral pumps (understated and professional with a good dash of sexy). My hair is short and styled, my makeup is appropriate and my accessories complement without distracting. Pearls, actually.

If you look a bit closer at the outfit, the shoes, the hair and the look you’ll see the hidden rivets. The seams where the metal  of the breastplate meets the tasset show the dents of the club hammer and the effort that went into its construction. Those good shoes… they’re really a modern sabaton; protection, baby.

Don’t think for a moment that I woke up this morning and decided to dress like this because heels feel awesome, because I love panty-hose. These earrings were chosen mindfully and the necklace too. My clothes are my armor.

There are things in my life right now that demand my full attention. My energy has to be rationed and my strength shored up. I am not up to the challenge in jeans and a t -shirt; I need something external to let me know I can handle what I must handle. I need to look in the mirror and see someone who is competent, strong, determined and certain. At the moment I’m none of those things, so for that, I need a disguise. I need a costume. I need armor.

A friend observed that often when women separate from their partners they begin to dress better than they used to. He seemed to believe it to be a peacock preening kind of thing; a desire to strut, to appear attractive. I’m offering another possible explanation; it’s fear. It’s fear, dressed up to look like courage. It’s armor.

Look at me… I look great. I look strong. I look like I know what I’m doing.

I’m a jelly fish. A jelly fish in really good shoes.

My groceries terrify me.

Image

I live in the far north of Canada… the real, snowy, wintry  northern lights north. We have a few hardy farmers here who fight for every carrot, potato and head of cabbage they pull from the earth. Permafrost, harsh winters and shallow soil are only softened by summer days when the sun shines almost around the clock.

These farmers know what works here. They have learned what magic can be wrought with seeds, soil, compost, sun and loving care, and they want to protect what they’ve worked for. As an Agricultural organization they are working to ensure the Yukon remains GMO free, and have begun lobbying our government to enact legislation.  Our territorial government however, refuses to consider a ban, saying it’s not their place and that it’s up to individual farmers to decide.

Why? Why on earth would the government of this small territory refuse such a committed, dedicated group of farmers? Why, when nobody has come out strongly (or at all) for the GMO side. There hasn’t been a group of people out marching to promote the use of GMO seeds, though there have been marches against their use.

I think they’ve said no because the government is afraid of Monsanto. I know they’re afraid of big oil… refusing to ban fracking, refusing to ban oil exploration in a tract of protected wilderness. They’re afraid of some potential backlash, some theoretical future legal challenge by these huge companies. Especially now, as Monsanto attempts to PATENT produce.

It’s true, a lawsuit by Monsanto would cripple our territory, but is that where we are now? Do we have to allow any huge corporation who wants what we have to just come in and take it? Why? Does Monsanto have that much power? Is it real, or is it just the threat that makes governments quiver and bend over?

I don’t want to eat GMO food. I am terrified of what we are putting in our bodies. The Canadian Diabetes Association says “one in every three Canadians is projected to have either diabetes or prediabetes by 2020”.  That is the kind of statistic that’s almost unbelievable, and yet it’s true. Obesity rates through the stratosphere, heart disease rates soaring… can we please just stop this?

We know that messing with every single thing we put into our bodies is messing up our bodies. We’ve super-sized and enriched and new and improved and fat free’d ourselves into a situation we can’t escape from. Genetically modified corn, modified soy, modified canola in everything we eat. And we can’t avoid it.

Our family eats very little processed food, but as a working mother there are some products I’ve relied on. Canned or jarred tomato sauce, pureed or chopped tomatoes, corn niblets in a can, frozen vegetables, cartons of low sodium chicken broth, that kind of thing. I’m not talking hamburger helper and squirtable cheese, but real foods that I can use in my workday, weekday cooking.

But it’s all a minefield. Canned tomatoes… BPA in the cans, likely bionic tomatoes. This is even putting aside any worry about pesticides, just thinking about the NEW food terrorism being perpetrated against us by Monsanto and our governments. Just try to buy any vegetable oil that’s not certified organic; you won’t be able to find any corn, canola or other oil that’s not from a GM crop.

It’s a tunnel we’re halfway down, a wormhole we’re already through. Our food has been commodified, modified, & adjusted, with a sticker on every single apple produced. Lab created “Grapples”; apples injected with grape koolaid, nicely presented in plastic clamshells…so many levels of insult to our bodies, to our earth. The garlic is all grown in china, & those sugar snap peas in little plastic bags have more miles on them than I will by the time I die.

I don’t understand it. We have the capacity to produce everything we need, at least all the cold weather crops we need. I don’t mind that we ship mangoes… no mangoes are going to grow here, but sugar snap peas? Potatoes? Garlic?  What is the rationale? Our governments should be investing in farmers, in the agriculture association’s vision for a more sustainable local food economy. Food security… safe food grown close to home, should be our collective goal.

I envy people living in areas with year round markets, access to a full range of organic foods. I buy what I can find, glad I can afford it. I couldn’t always afford it, and that frightens me too…what damage have I already done to my own body, to my children’s bodies?

So I say power to the farmers, the brave farmers out there marching with signs held high demanding our government protect the food we eat. It’s not as simple as allowing each farmer to choose for himself, not as long as we have wind and honeybees, pollen and birds.   We have to insist. We have to demand. We have to march, and be equal to the power of the corporations with the way we wield our dollars.

If you want to know more about the situation in Yukon, please follow these links.

In the US (and eventually Canada), food labeling is worth fighting for. Have a look:

http://www.rodale.com/what-are-gmo-foods

So go on, go shopping. I dare you.

Holy Crap – I’m FLYING!

wonder womanWhen was the last time you did something for the first time? I read that question in some magazine’s “finding personal satisfaction” or such quiz recently. It gave me pause; I don’t think they meant trying a new recipe or walking the dog on a different route. I think there’s a time in your life when you do LOADS of things for the first time, then the firsts kind of taper off as you get older and more experienced. And more nervous, and anxious, and self aware. Bungee jumping seems freakin’ awesome when you’re 19, young and single, but throw in a couple of mini-me’s and it’s downright irresponsible.

So… 3 kids, all teenagers now and getting ready to launch. And what have I done lately that I never did before? Not a lot, except use a more intense eye cream and get botox.

Mexico…zip lining. Yes. I drove an ATV, rode a whole bunch of really high ziplines, did a bit of rapelling and I FLEW LIKE FREAKIN’ WONDER WOMAN! That’s what I said. I rode 3/4 mile on a zipline in Puerto Vallarta that has you suspended on your belly, arms by your sides, flying through the tree tops at 60 miles per hour. Bam! Never did THAT before! That was pretty great, actually. Pretty damned great actually (at least aside from the Go-Pro camera strapped to my helmet, staring me in the face at alarmingly close range)!!

That was really scary… scary and exciting and new. And they were right, those quiz writing people. Doing things that are scary and exciting and new is a zap… a jolt.. a blast of power and a reminder that there’s a whole lotta living left to do.

I am 46 (shhh). I am young, strong, healthy and a tiny bit braver than I was 5 minutes before I flew like Superman. Now I just need a cape, and I’ll be unstoppable.

Watching her sleep.

My daughter, at 15 years old, has had 17 surgeries. That’s as of this morning….it surely won’t be the final tally. She is a beautiful and talented actress, a killer soccer player and an awesome volleyball player. She also has the shittiest luck medically. I won’t catalog her issues, but just know that she is ALWAYS the one in a million….the worst case scenario.

So I am watching her sleep off the anaesthetic now, face cold and pale. I realize we could be facing the impossible possibility of spending Christmas in hospital for the second year in a row. I wonder why karma has it in for my beautiful beautiful girl. I wonder if and where I will find the courage to tell her the truth about her medical future. I wonder, again and again if, somewhere along the way there was something I missed, something I could have done differently, something that would change where she is now.

When she wakes up I will have to find a path toward the truth, but for now I will watch her sleep and kiss her forehead as many times as I feel like it.