Tag Archives: Joy

Your life as a house

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*This post was first published in The Sunday Reader.
**Soundtrack for this post: Ólafur Arnalds’ Living Room Songs and Adele’s 25.

We humans believe many things about ourselves that are not true or useful.

Round women, in particular, and women who perceive themselves to be round, are in terrible danger of creating for ourselves a too-small life. We apologize for ourselves, we slouch to take up less space and we embark on fewer physical adventures for fear of what other people might think about how we look as we cycle/swim/hike. Where our heart yearns for colour, polka dots and pink tulle skirts, we choose black. There are many photographs of our children but we’re not in them. We may even begin to believe, to give into, the story about fat people being lazy, unsuccessful and stupid OR we may work like crazy to demonstrate the ways in which we are not those things… and become workaholics and perfectionists instead. We say yes when we should say no. For me, the most damaging of all is the idea that we are not in the same “league” as the wonderful man or woman we might love, the toxic notion that somehow we are not good enough for a multitude of lovely life-things.

This silliness is a construction. I will repeat. It is all made up.

If we round women examine our own life as a house, many of us will see ~ upon VERY close inspection ~ that our dwelling (not our physical body but the way we’ve been living) is not structurally sound. This house will not hold the life we want. And once we’ve seen that truth, we can’t not see it. We’ll know, in our very bones, that we need to make changes in our lives but the way we proceed can’t be prescribed; the way forward will depend on our personality, our support network and our unique perspective on life. Some of us may feel crazy with anger about the condition of our home. We may want to burn the damned thing to the ground and have a bulldozer remove all evidence that particular house ever existed. Those wise souls who have, for some time, been aware that their house is no longer adequate may opt for a gentler dismantling and a recycling of materials in the building of their new home. The windows, for example, might be used in the construction of an arboretum, a warm peaceful place to grow orchids, drink tea and read novels. Perhaps some women will build their new house up around the old one which will live on as a storage space or a museum. The speed and method of construction is ours to decide but the important + challenging + magical bit lies in the recognition and understanding of the ways in which our current life-house does not meet our needs. When we see our house as it really is, we can mourn what’s been lost and begin to create a glorious new dwelling.

Yes. That’s it exactly. Glorious.

I’m working on a new project about life design for round women (and women who think of themselves as round). I’m not yet sure if it’s a book or a course but I know that I’ve been waiting a long time to write this, to share these thoughts, to encourage my fellow round women to get out into the vast beautiful world and LIVE the life you were made for, the one you desire with all your heart. This is not a small thing… to leave your old house after years of living there. Especially if you believed the only way you’d have a right to ask for something better was if you were thin.

Finally, I’d love to hear your thoughts about this project. You are invited to share your story with me… and/or tell me what you’d like me to include in this book/course. Please email me or leave a comment below. Thanks ever so much!
 

Living the questions

redshoes

“I would like to beg you dear Sir, as well as I can, to have patience with everything unresolved in your heart and to try to love the questions themselves as if they were locked rooms or books written in a very foreign language. Don’t search for the answers, which could not be given to you now, because you would not be able to live them. And the point is to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps then, someday far in the future, you will gradually, without even noticing it, live your way into the answer.”
Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters to a Young Poet (1903)

The questions I’m living right now…
it’s like kindergarten in here.

one.
What if we cared as much about people as we do
about status?
{This morning a white porsche raced by the station splintering both
our harmony and the sound barrier. On the side of the car: Carrera.
Spanish for road. That driver needs a hug.}

two.
What if kindness were currency? Like money.
Gold coins.
Stocks.

three.
What if we lived our lives with our flapping red hearts on
the outside?
lubdub. lubdub. lubdub.

four.
What if joy were as much your job as your job is?

Oh! What if it is?

Perhaps it is.
 

66H

66H

I always sit at the back of the plane.
You get to board first
and if the flight isn’t full
that’s where the empty seats are.

I store my knapsack in the bin
settle into my seat
and watch the plane fill up.

Teenagers.
I notice teenagers.
Yellow bandanas
and red ones and blue.
A group of high school seniors.
And they’re swapping seats
and yelling across the plane.

One of the kids has a selfie stick
{which, I find myself thinking,
is not such a terrific idea on an airplane}
and then I wonder if I’ll be
that dead-eyed old woman
in their photos.

Then I see their teacher.

I wonder why people teach
if they don’t like kids?
{That’s not rhetorical.
I really wonder!}

When I say my pre-flight prayer
I add a bit:

Dear God,
As always, I am in your hands.
I place my trust in the Captain
and Co-Captain.
I bear no ill will
against any of my fellow passengers.
And thank you for sending these kids,
a 40-person JOY-reminder.
Amen.
 

Into the Instagram Wild

22

In Paris
our days were our own.

We walked the city.

My new walking shoes
made me feel
like a superhero.

Neighbourhood
by neighbourhood,
we made the city ours.
The 6th and the Latin Quarter.
The Tuileries Garden.
A walk from Rue Cler in the 7th
all the way to Notre Dame.

We stopped often
to eat,
drink
and
take photos
and came home
with our iPhones
filled with
memories.

We released the photos,
perfect little worlds,
six
or seven
at a time,
released them
into the Instragram wild.

Apparently that’s not how it’s done
I’m told by people
half my age.
I need to be more strategic.
Release them
one at a time.
You know,
in order to get
the most
likes.

But the loveliest thing
about not being cool
is
not
being cool.

Fewer rules
and
more {Instagram} joy.

 

Keeping it for good

17

Seventh generation Canadian,
I am descended from Scottish and Irish folks.
Hearty, thrifty people
saving up for a rainy day

We grew up with a set of dishes
we used every day,
some chipped
some yellowed with age
and a set of good china that sat
like some secret
in the china cabinet.
We were “keeping it for good”,
for company,
for special occasions,
the holy trinity of McDiarmid family dinners:
Christmas, Easter, Thanksgiving.

My upbringing failed me
or perhaps I failed it.
Choosing not to marry
meant no shower gifts,
no registries.
I am the kind of woman
who buys what she needs.

And I don’t believe in keeping
one damned thing
for good.
Ring the bell. Go ahead.
Use the good dishes for dinner every night.
Buy flowers for yourself.
Wear that dress.
Take your family to Disneyland.

What are you waiting for?

What the neighbours think
is truly
none of your business.

And also
about writing,
do not save it up.
Don’t hoard those sparkling phrases
in moleskins
stashed in boxes
hidden beneath your bed.

Spend those words.
Throw them down like rice at a wedding.

Revel. Rebel. Spend your joy.

 

Japanese word for celebration

celebrationcelebration

Laughter rolls
down the street
ahead of them
like marbles.

People step out
of the way,
pleased
to make room
for such joy.

We two
quietly yearn
to join the celebration,
this particular way
of being happy
in the company
of others.

Extravagant
and careless.

Red balloon days.

{The Japanese word for celebration is shukugakai.}

Following happiness home

what is it about friday afternoon
that makes us giddy?
i love my work
(even when it’s exhausting…
all good things are, sometimes)
but friday afternoons
leave me effervescent,
light and fizzy
like a pink drink with an umbrella
sipped on a beach.

perhaps
it’s the promise
of all that freedom.
48 hours
of exactly what i choose
and nothing else.

yes.

yesterday
these two school girls
in their navy uniforms
and i walked home
from school.
(our students don’t wear uniforms.
i wonder what it’s like.)
they walked very close
to each other
merging their selves
like girls do when we love.
as we neared the park,
the girls began to run.
my heart jumped
and wanted to follow.

in the park
a tiny two-year old in a purple dress
with white polka dots
stared at a small bush
as if it were
a work of art.
(it is.)
she leaned towards it
and whispered.
{oh, how i wish
i understood japanese.}

two teachers
and ten small students
skipped rope on the grass
outside the escalator.
they sang while they skipped.
skip. skip. skip.

outside the daycare,
two women pushed six toddlers
in a trolley
(the kind normally used
for delivering mail
in offices too big
to know everyone’s name.)
the wee ones,
dressed in pastels
like easter eggs,
were standing up in the trolley,
looking about and laughing.
their giggles made me laugh
and also
the girl just ahead of me.
as we rode down in the escalator,
she kept turning around
to look at the babies.
the girl wore small, round glasses
and she seemed especially smart.
at the ground floor
she tore off to catch her train
to the neon city.

at the exit
onto motomachi shopping street
a boy and a girl held up their hands
to the sky.
it was raining
confident, plump drops
and the pair seemed delighted
at this sudden change
in the weather.

crossing the street
i fell into step
behind a tall teenage boy
in a red baseball cap.
he was nodding his head
to the music from his ipod.
by the time we reached
the red light
head nodding
had turned to dancing.
(this kid had swag.)
the japanese people
moved back slightly,
surprised at this sudden outburst
of joy
at street level.

he crossed the street
dancing.
i followed him
dancing in my own way.
happy.
happy in my own way
on a friday afternoon.