The Value of My Work

I took a big leap this week, and it feels weird. For months now, I’ve been meeting regularly with my writing group, an amazing bunch of women writers who are all exceptionally talented. Though they aren’t all published, they all have the chops to be, and we support each other by giving critical feedback on each other’s work, sharing resources, and encouragement. They have helped me feel more committed to my writing and they’ve helped me understand the value of my work.

Not one, but two of my writing colleagues recently took a week to themselves to head to their cottages and spend the time writing. They were able to accomplish so much without the distractions of every day life. I’ve been fantasizing about this for a long while now, and my writing friends nudged me to take action.

Yesterday I launched an IndieGoGo campaign to help fund a self-directed writing retreat. My hope is to take a week in April and work through the end of my novel revisions, so that the manuscript is ready for an editor. It’s a great plan, so why does it feel strange? It feels strange because there’s so much going on in the world right now. I look at Facebook and my news feed is filled with real struggles and sorrows all over the world. It feels a bit shallow asking people to donate to help me publish a novel when so many other people need help.

Yet my work, my writing, is the way I make the world better. It has been since I started blogging over a decade ago about my life, about my struggles. I write to give people hope, to help them feel like they aren’t so alone in a difficult and confusing world. With my novel, my first foray into fiction, I write to help them escape for a little while, to imagine other possibilities. I write to make people feel joy and laughter, and when I’m writing, I feel like I’m helping the world in the best way I can.

And so, humbly and vulnerably I’m asking you to have a look at this video, and the campaign below (you can also click right here) and consider making a contribution to help me publish this novel. If my writing has ever touched you, made you smile, helped you feel connected, or lifted your spirits, I know you’ll enjoy my novel. Even $5 will help me reach my goals.

Grown Up Play Dates

“When’s Nate coming over?” 

I heard this about fifty times in the span of an hour this morning, my four-year-old Noodle too excited about the pending arrival of his bestie to even manage a proper breakfast.

His weekend uniform is always the same; it’s pajamas or bust. I’ve stopped trying to convince him that it’s proper to get dressed to run errands. For him, clothes are for school, and begrudgingly, for special occasions. Even then he insists on pjs underneath, and there’s always a Clark Kent style quick change if the outing runs too late for his sensitive tastes.

I don’t fight him on this, because I’d wear my pjs everywhere if I wasn’t constantly trying to hide myself in fashion.

He’s taught me a lot, my little Noodle. Today, I realized that I want more play dates too. Little Nate arrived in his closest proximity to pjs, because he knows that’s how we roll on the weekends. I met his grandparents, all the way from Germany, with my hair smelling like the meatballs I’d fried last night and a pair of track pants tugged on under my sleep shirt. Gotta keep it real.

So, now I’m booking play dates. Come in your pjs, or the next best thing. Bring a sugar free, gluten free treat if you have time. If not, maybe we’ll bake something together. We can knit, watch Netflix, play YouTube show and tell, eat snacks, drink tea or wine or whatever. Just come hang out. 

Or invite me over. I don’t care if your house is a mess, or if your cupboards are dirty. I’m a terrible housekeeper, and I’m tired of avoiding people because I’m ashamed of this. I won’t judge you, I’ll just be happy for the company.

Let’s connect with the unbridled joy of children. As adults, we have the advantage of calling it a day before someone gets smashed in the head with a truck.

Inauguration Day

in·au·gu·ra·tion
iˌnôɡ(y)əˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
    1. the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.
      “the inauguration of an independent prosecution service”
      2. the formal admission of someone to office.
      “Truman’s second presidential inauguration”
      3. a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.
      “the inauguration of the Modern Art Museum”

Today is the end of an era.

I can no longer sit up here in this little corner of my quiet room, distracting myself with a million things that aren’t my own voice.  Work things, helping things, playful things, domestic things. They are important, of course, but they can’t replace my voice. Not anymore.

Today I stop saying ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘It’s too cozy here’. I will accept invitations, make new alliances, pledge allegiance to my sisters who are loud and proud. They not hiding under the assumption that everyone is too busy to make plans, or too uncomfortable with my lifestyle choices.

Today I honor my own constitution and recognize that to feel well, I have to treat my body well. This, on occasion, will mean laying on the couch for an entire afternoon reading books. Mostly, it will mean challenging myself to be more fluid, stronger, more vibrant. It will mean choosing something sweet every once in a while, and choosing to be very conscious about what food means to my body and soul all of the time.

Today I salute the commander-in-chief of my journey through this life. My writer, my story teller, who has patiently waited for the opportunity to rule the country of my heart. Small victories, and a career full of setbacks have led to this victorious moment, when we stand united in our love for this great land of my imagination.

Today I vow to dedicate my office to the voices of the little people. Those tiny hands and hearts who demand better play time, less distraction, more connection to our changing climate and the fertile lands of this country. They have fought long and hard for my attention, often kicking and screaming to be heard. I will answer their cry by getting off my high horse and spending more time in their tattered sneaker shoes.

On this inauguration day, (no caps, please) I will place women’s reproductive rights at the top of matters of congress. Sexual congress, that is. I will recognize my right to complete freedom and power over my body by exploring and encouraging multi-level orgasmic funding, investigating new systems of pleasure, and implementing a charter of self-love that is supported in both the private and public sectors. I don’t even know what that last line means, but it sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

It is with great humility and awe that I step into this role as president of my own tiny universe. I take this venerated position very seriously, despite my outrageous hair and shocking media persona. You, the people of my consciousness have elected me, and I will unite this land of opportunity and privilege and make this woman great again.

Because if history has taught us anything, it’s that nobody else will.

A To-Do List For A Difficult Day

Anyone who knows me knows about my love/hate relationship with November. This year, I seem to have gone darker and deeper into the grey than ever before. I need vitamin B, or iron. I need a week off. There’s never enough sleep, never enough time. The leaves are hanging on longer because even they seem to know that I need the added brightness of their outrageous colours. The good news is, it’s nearly over.

Here’s a to-do list for today. It will likely be extended to tomorrow as well. These are big days for me, these two. Big enough that without such a list, I might just sit here and stare out the window and not get anything done at all. Feel free to borrow this list, any time you need to. You’re guaranteed to feel at least 3% better if you use it.

Today I will…

  1. Eat an entire bar of chocolate. Well, almost. But, it’s fair trade and sugar free. Plus it’s dark, 70% even, so I’m okay with this.
  2. Cry over nothing.
  3. Cry over some really big things.
  4. Write.
  5. Try to work. Mostly suck at this.
  6. Make an entire thermos of tea and sip it slowly all afternoon.
  7. Listen to Leonard Cohen.
  8. Miss my kids.
  9. Colour.
  10. Read for pleasure.
  11. Eat soup for dinner.
  12. Wear my slippers at work because I need the extra cozy.
  13. Wear lipstick, or something else that makes me feel better.
  14. Finish all my work so I can do whatever I want all weekend.
  15. Send lovey emojis to my cousin-sister.
  16. Call my mom.
  17. Hug my kids after school.
  18. Go for a walk.
  19. Try not to cry in front of people who barely know me.
  20. Avoid the news, because sometimes I have to.
  21. Sing.
  22. Have a glass of wine, but only one.
  23. Make a fire in the fireplace.
  24. Add some frankincense to the diffuser.
  25. Watch a funny Christmas movie.
  26. Eat popcorn.
  27. Light a candle.
  28. Remember the spectacular depth and breadth of love.

Sex and Body Image

Did you know I have a live weekly show on Facebook with my brother Kyle Andrew? We’re on every Wednesday at 9:00 pm EST to talk dating, relationships, healthy living and sex. You can find us right here. On last night’s show we tackled sex and body image with our special guest co-host Nekky Jamal. Nekky is not only one of my life partners, he’s also an amputee who wears a full leg prosthesis. Some really interesting stuff around disability and sex came up, of course.

Here are some links to some fascinating articles on sex and body image:

A Psychology Today post on Understanding Core Erotic Wounds

A Huffington Post look at Body Image and Low Sex Drive

A post on How to Love a Sexual Partner with Body Image issues over at Ravishly.com

Tips For Overcoming Body Image Issues in the Bedroom:

1. Stop looking only to celebrities and online personalities for beauty standards. These people are ‘professional beauties’ who devote their working hours to looking a certain way, and have a team of people to help them with that. They also have retouching.

2. Social Media isn’t much better. I definitely use selfie filters to get the best lighting and to create photos I feel good about posting. Most of us only post the very best highlights of our life. Social media isn’t any more real than other types of media, even if you know your contacts IRL.

3. Look at real people, in person, who are in your age demographic (or beyond) and start to really notice what you find attractive about them. Sit in a cafe or other busy public place and people watch.

4. Take note of how your standards of attractiveness compare to how you feel about yourself? Are your personality standards realistic considering your lifestyle?

5. What kind of messaging do you giving yourself when you’re in front of the mirror? I can be pretty brutal on myself. Work on changing the message by replacing a negative thought with something you like about your physical appearance or your personality. This will take some practice, but try to keep things in perspective. Get rid of the notion that self-love should be easy. It isn’t. Our bodies aren’t perfect, but we can move from brutal self-criticism to gratitude for our health, our safety, our privilege.

6. Take better care. First take a look at how you feel about your body and work on changing your messaging. Then start to approach any physical lifestyle changes you might wish to make, like healthier eating or more regular exercise. Without changing the way you think, changing the way you behave will be much harder.

7. Talk about it with your partner. Be as open and vulnerable as you can. If negative body-image is affecting your sex drive, this will help illuminate any challenges you might be having in the bedroom. Think of ways you can both help to make you feel more confident and comfortable.

8. As you’re learning how to change your self-image, take stock of what does make you feel more comfortable sexually, and implement these things. Do you feel more confident with makeup on? Dim lighting? Lingerie? Music? Run with these ideas so you are creating a comfort zone for yourself that feels safer while you work on healing

If your negative body-image issues are tied to disordered eating, please know that without professional help, these behaviors are nearly impossible to change

The National Eating Disorder Information Centre

Eating Disorder Hope Resource Page

Some Awesome Books About Body Image
Here are some books that I can recommend about body image. If you purchase these via the links below, you’ll be helping to support my writing.