Reverb11: Day 8: Beautifully Different

Think about what makes you different and what you do that lights people up. Reflect on all the things that make you different – you’ll find they’re what make you beautiful. (Karen Walrond)

I’ve noticed that it’s kind of frowned on to like yourself, especially if you’re a woman.  I mean, sure, in general, we want everyone to have healthy self-esteems, but the feeling I get one on one is that we need to have good self-esteems, but quietly.  And we tend to proclaim what we dislike about ourselves much more readily than we do what we like.  With that in mind, I’m going to let you in on a little secret.

I’m fucking in love with myself.

I laugh (loudly) at my own jokes, because I am hilarious.  I look at my own reflection in the mirror an inordinate amount, because I am also gorgeous.  When I like something, I can’t just like it, I must know EVERYTHING ABOUT IT, because I’m passionate.  I never turn down an opportunity to show off share my wide-spread and varied knowledge, because I am a know-it-all smarty-pants.  If there is music playing, you’d better believe that I’ll be singing along, because I have the voice of an angel.  I dance, all the time.  I pick up conversations in the middle (I start them in my head) to the bewilderment of all around me.  I will do anything for a laugh, because I am a clown (not a real one, those fuckers are scary).  I have large eyes and a big mouth, kind of like a Muppet who became a real girl, and they are both very expressive.  Let’s just say, you never have to guess what I think of something.

I have Opinions (note the capital “O”), but I try to stay open-minded.  I judge, but I try to be fair.  I am what some might call a “hesitant speaker.”  English does not come easily to my tongue, there’s a lot of “um”s and “ah”s and “not being able to think of the word”s.  I have a speed bump between my brain and my mouth, so I rarely end up with my foot in my mouth (although, it probably could actually fit in there).

I have the ability to draw simple cartoony people that convey many subtleties of emotion, and I’m not even sure how I do it.

I believe in things, but I don’t need YOU to believe in them to make them valid.

I have a warm smile, and people tend to open up to me.

When I’m nervous, I tend to scream-laugh.  (Trust me, it’s endearing).

I CAN create my way out of a paper bag.

I don’t dress appropriately for my age.  I just dress in what I like.

I am a cat whisperer.

I’m really good at making food that is both healthy and delicious.

One last thought on the subject of my strange beauty, the Girl came up to me one day and asked, “Mummy, do you wish you were beautiful?”

“I don’t have to wish.  I am beautiful,” I responded, without hesitation.

She smiled and said, “yeah, you are beautiful.”

Nice, huh?  Well, let me further expand this lovely little picture.  I was in the bathroom.  One of my shirts and pair of my jeans were soaking in the tub, covered in my own vomit.  And I was on the toilet.  Thank-you, and good-night. *bows*


Reverb11: Day 7: Community

Where have you discovered community, online or otherwise, in 2011? What community would you like to join, create or more deeply connect with in 2012? (Cali Harris)

I’ve been a fan of Scott Johnson (web comic artist and podcaster) for a few years now, but I only just started participating in the community this year.  His podcasting studio is called Frogpants studio.  The live chatroom during the recording of shows has been dubbed the Tadpool, and we call ourselves Tadpoles.  It’s a very cool and nice group of people with similar tastes and senses of humour, who come from all walks of life.  They come from all over the world, are a multitude of different races, span from the very young, to the very old, men and women, liberal, conservative, straight, LGBT, Christian, Muslim, Pagan, you name it, all united by one man and his nerdy, goofy sense of humour.  And bacon.

I also became more involved in the blogging community, beyond just reading and commenting on the blogs of people I know IRL.  I’m still a bit on the outskirts, but I have commented on one or two blogs of people I don’t know(!).  It would seem my social anxiety follows me into the internet…

As for communities for the new year, well, it’s time I let you in on something.  For some time, I’ve wanted to create a community where nerdy Moms can connect and talk about nerdly stuff and momly stuff with other nerdy Moms, without fear of boring anyone.  One of the hardest transitions of becoming a mother was that I started automatically being grouped in with the other Moms.  I’ve heard it said that having kids is the great equalizer.  But it didn’t take me long to start feeling out of place.  I dress strangely, I don’t like things (*cough* Twilight *cough*) that the other Moms tend to like, and when I dress my kids in retro video game clothing, or a certain Star Wars onesie, people always assume it’s Mr. G’s influence.  HA!  We’ve long since established that I’m the nerdier nerd of the two of us.  So once talking about our kids is out of the way, what else is there to talk about?  On the other side of the coin, my kids are a huge part of my life, so I tend to want to talk about them without the stigma of the “you used to be cool, but now you’re a Mom, and talk about poop all the time” thing.  I know I’m not the only one walking the nerdy Mom line, and I think we’d all benefit from sharing our struggles with being unconventional in a conventional life with other like-minded individuals.  This blog was the first step.  Now, I just have to figure out what the rest of the steps would be….

Reverb11: Day 6: Dreams

What dreams came true in 2011?

My dream of having a boy came true.  Not that I aspired to have a boy, but I dreamed it and it happened.  Plus our boy name is really cool.

My dream of having one of my e-mails read on a Scott Johnson podcast.  It was everything I had imagined it to be.

My dream of creating a blog.

My dream of being prescribed reading glasses.  I’m going to make a comic about this sometime to illustrate (see what I did there?) what I mean by that.

My Mom asked me for advice, and found my advice useful(!!!).

Reverb11: Day 5: Let Go

What (or whom) did you let go of this year? Why?

I let go of much of how I wanted the Boy’s birth to be.  I wanted it to be like the Girl’s birth.  There’s something of ancient magicks in giving birth.  There’s agony, blood, endurance, sacrifice and ecstasy.  You walk right up to the line between life and death, and you bring a whole new life back with you.  I opted for no drugs because I wanted to experience it all.  By the end I opted for no drugs because I feared giant needles in my spine more than the pain.  In the dark, with blood pulsing in my head like tribal drums, the Girl’s birth was equally the most horrible and the most wonderful experience of my life.

I expected the Boy’s birth to go similar to that.  I was looking forward to it, in fact.  I knew what labour was about this time, and knew what to expect.  I was actually pretty good at it.  I was going to be so prepared!  Heh.  When we found out at 39 weeks that he was breech…well, my vision crumbled away.  I had to get a giant needle in my spine, and my baby was surgically removed from me under the harsh O.R. lights.  I saw my son for the first time from across a room.  It was two hours after the procedure before I could hold him.  It was cold, and clinical, and unmagickal.  Definitely more horrible than wonderful.  I had to let go of what I wanted, in favour of what was.  For the health of my baby, and myself.

It still stings me a bit.  There was a picture being shared on Facebook last week of a woman holding her baby right after a water birth.  The look on her face of utter exhaustion and pure joy brought out pangs of regret and envy in me.  It surprised me, because I thought I was past all that, but I guess it’s still a bit of a tender spot.

Reverb11: Day 4: Wonder

How did you cultivate a sense of wonder in your life this year? (Jeff Davis)

Having two young children helps in keeping a fresh perspective on things.  Things that lost their lustre for me, have had new life breathed in to them by watching them react to them.

The Girl is so amazed by everything, and so full of questions, it’s hard not to be swept up with her enthusiasm.  How can you dread the first snow fall, when there’s someone who wants to be out in it before breakfast?  I do admit to finding her constant interrogations to be frustrating at times, especially when she doesn’t accept my answers, or corrects my answers (if you knew then why did you ask me??).  But then she’ll ask something that will completely knock me sideways.  “If you had no heart, would you still love me?” for instance.

The Boy, on the other hand, is so simple in his desires.  A full belly, and cuddles are enough to make him ridiculously happy.  The other day, after he had been digging through my cupboards, I found him pivoting in a circle on his bum, in the middle of the kitchen floor with my stainless steel kettle in one hand, giggling wildly.  Who could be prosaic in the face of that?

Reverb11: Day 3: Moment

Pick one moment during which you felt most alive this year. Describe it in vivid detail (texture, smells, voices, noises, colors). (Ali Edwards)

I found this one really difficult.  I’ve spent this year kind of numbing out.  While I can recount things that happened that were happy moments, things that stirred me, I can only recount the sensory details of one or two of them.  And then I started worrying that they didn’t “count.”  I will forge ahead, however.

The phrase “one moment during which you felt most alive” brings to mind moments of exhilarating action.  I think this is why this tripped me up, because my moment is one of stillness.

I recall one evening, back in early summer, I was laying down with the Boy, nursing him, on my bed.  The huge picture window was open, and I could feel the cool summer night air caressing my arms, carrying with it the earthy smells of moss and pine trees.  I could see the sharp outline of the horizon, moments after the sun had set, and fireflies danced right in front of the window.  A sateen sheet covered my legs, and I rubbed my toes against the smooth softness.  As he nursed, the Boy’s bare, impossibly soft belly tingled against my bare stomach, and soothed the numb, achy feeling that had plagued me since the c-section.  I kissed his perfect little head and as I inhaled his sweet baby scent, his feathery wispy hairs tickled my nose.

This image comes to mind mostly because at that time, I felt like I was pulled in all directions.  My more complex relationships required more from me emotionally than I felt capable of giving.  I always came up short, leaving me with feelings of guilt and inadequacy.  But not with the Boy.  He was my little oasis.  He just needed me to Be.  In that moment I felt peace, knowing that all I am was all I needed to be.

Reverb11: Day 2: Create

Describe one thing you created this year. How did it feel to create it? How does it feel to look back on it now?

Well, one obvious thing would be this blog!  I had wanted to create a blog for some time.  I found that I would tend towards hijacking other people’s blogs with long essays about things I wanted to say.  I usually stick to short responses thinking that anything longer than that should be its own post.  Coupled with the fact that I think A LOT, and needed somewhere to put it all.  Thus, my blog was born!

It was difficult at first.  Even though I had lots to say (I even had a LiveJournal account once upon a time), I wasn’t sure what to write.  Words came very slowly, and it was very clunky and unfamiliar.  I was convinced that everything I wrote was boring and unfunny.  In the first 3 months I wrote perhaps 15 posts in all.  I would have nightmares (seriously) about people leaving comments saying, “why is this even a blog??”  In October, I went for almost a whole month without writing a single post.  And then came November, the traditional “do something every day for a month” month, and I knew I wanted to participate in something.  I thought about NaNoWriMo, but decided I really didn’t have the time or brain power for that.  Enter NaBloPoMo.  It would force me to crank out a blog post every day, and I thought it might help me get back to a place where blogging would come more easily to me.  And it worked in a big way.  (It didn’t hurt that I started getting more comments, the life-blood of my blog).  On November 3rd I wrote this post, and it was the first time in a long time that my writing just seemed to come together, and I didn’t have to force it.  As I was writing it, I was thinking, “this is good.”

Looking back I’m still really proud of that post.  It’s been the only post to date that Mr. G has read (at my request), and I still go back and re-read it every so often.  The posts that came after that, came more easily.  My blog, in a short amount of time, has become a huge part of my life.  It feels so good for the swirling milieu of thoughts in my head to have somewhere to go where others can read them.  Organizing them into a blog post also facilitates breakthroughs and revelations that would otherwise be lost, a fact which I had not realized at the outset.  I love you, blog.

I love you too, Grace.

Reverb11: Day One: One Word

Dec 1: One Word. If you had to choose one word to encapsulate the past year, what would it be, and why? If you were to choose a word to represent 2012, what would it be?

The word for 2011: Numb.  Near the beginning of this year, the Boy was born by scheduled C-section, as he was a breach baby, meaning, his bum was where his head should have been.  This came as a shock to me, as the Girl had been a complication free, drug free, natural birth.  While rational me can be thankful that as far as complications go, this was pretty minor, and still resulted in a healthy baby AND me, it was huge blow to me psychologically.  It’s something that I haven’t really talked about because it’s something I feel like I can’t afford to get mired in, having two smalls to look after, and also I feel like if I talk about it in a negative way, it might seem like I’m complaining.  And what right do I have to complain when he and I came through relatively unscathed, when so many others are not so lucky?  So I numbed my feelings on the subject, and concentrated on my new baby.  But my abdomen is still numb, literally, even these many months later, and a near constant reminder that I had been split open.  One month after the Boy was born, my Granddad died.  Again, I felt like I didn’t have time to feel the loss, as I had a newborn and a two and a half-year old that needed me.  Plus it all happened outside of my presence.  I was on the phone with my family nearly every day, but it did not register on an emotional level because I wasn’t experiencing it for myself.  Coupled with my own needs being put aside to care for a small infant, I just continued to numb out and shrink.  I’ve definitely started to break-free, and to feel like myself again, but Numb definitely defined most of this year.

The word I chose for 2012? Practice.  I plan to develop and employ several spiritual, emotional and creative practices to help me begin to deal with these issues, and others that will inevitably crop up.  It also refers to how I wish to develop my drawing, writing and digital graphic design skills through consistent practice throughout the coming year.