Tuesday, February 26, 2013

Hey, You Big Bully

I feel like my last post seemed really judgemental.  It wasn't meant to be.  I mean, seriously, I feel like I've been judged enough in my life.  It's a horrible feeling.  It was more meant to be an observation.  People in this world are hurting and they'll do what ever makes sense to them in order to feel happy and to feel alive.  And I am not judging them.  I get it.  I really, really do. 
So, tomorrow is anti-bullying day in Vancouver.  I'm not sure if it's just a BC thing or if it's country wide or what, but we'll all don pink shirts in support of everyone who has ever been bullied. We all stand up together and we say, "No, it is not okay."
I've been bullied.  I remember as a kid in elementary school, my best friend all through out grades 1-6 became 'popular' and I didn't.  Her new friends were not friendly to me at all. 
I've bullied.  I remember when I was in my tweens, inviting a girl to my birthday just because a friend had to cancel at the last minute.  I was super mean to that girl.  I still feel horrible about how mean I was to her.
I totally agree that bullying is horrible and needs to stop.  I just wonder if we've over advertised bullying to the point where kids don't even know what real bullying really means.  Q often comes home from school and says he's been bullied by so and so over such and such.  Every single time, this kid has kind of gotten the idea wrong...."So and so got mad at me..." or "Such and such is so bossy..." or "This person said he didn't like what I brought for sharing."  I'm like, Dude, people are allowed to have opinions that are different than yours.  Just because he likes different things doesn't mean he's bullying you.  Or just because someone starts bossing you around doesn't mean he's a bully.  It means you need to stand up and speak your mind too.
It seems to me as though kids think any form of adversity is bullying.  And it seems to me that by glorifying bullying we're allowing kids to play the victim.  And I can't speak for all the other parents of all the other kids out there, but I will not allow my kid to be the victim.  He needs to find his voice, and stand up to people.  Instead of being anti-bully, I am totally pro-strength. 
Q and I have had the opportunity to have some pretty awesome discussions around bullying.  Because here's the thing...every bully has a reason why he/she is a bully.  People don't just wake up one day thinking they're going to be mean.  Something pivotal happens in every life that makes a person a bully.  For example, Q has a *friend* who says he's the best ball hockey player ever and everyone wants him on his team and he scores all the goals.  But then Q realizes that this boy doesn't even know the rules of the game and he wonders aloud to me, "Why would he lie about something like that?"
Feelings of inadequacy, the desire to be something you're not or something more start really, really early.  Those feelings start when you're 8 years old.  Why can't we address that?  Why can't we talk about the fact that Q's friend is a habitual liar at 8 to make himself look/feel better?  Why can't we wear a yellow shirt or a purple shirt in support of every body being able to find the strength to be who they really are?  And why does it have to be so early?
Let's address the parents that aren't giving their children the attention or the validation they so desperately desire.  Let's address the fact that children are bully's because someone somewhere doesn't care about this little life with the care that they deserve. 
Bullying makes me mad, absolutely it does.  But the bully makes me sad.  It breaks my heart. 
So yes, let's say "No" to bullying.  But can we take care of the bully too?  If bullying starts with 8 year olds...can we take care of an 8 year old?  Can we take care of their hearts?  Can we get them to the point where we they don't need to be a bully in order to feel better about themselves?
Can we do that?

Sunday, February 24, 2013

Being Happy

This post has been swirling around in my head for weeks now.  I wouldn't exactly call it breaking news, because the pursuit of happiness certainly isn't something new, but I've been amazed by journey many have taken in order to find happiness.
It sounds so simple, doesn't it?  Be happy.  Just be happy, it's not that hard.  Smiley face :), LOL, it's all good. 
The thing is....it's not so easy.
I realize there are so many outside sources and inside forces that can determine or take part in our happiness or lack thereof.  As someone who has suffered from diagnosed anxiety and depression to the point where it affects my daily life, I understand that being happy isn't something that comes all that easily.  Having said that, being depressed and being sad are two fairly distinct events.  Being depressed is an all encompassing experience.  For me, it's like a horrible dream I cannot get out of on my own.  Now, I am sure that being sad can feel as overwhelming, but it's easier to climb out of...or so I thought.
Now I've been sad...not depressed, but sad.  Like I've had to pull over on the side of the road because I was crying so hard because my heart was broken after a break up.  I've cried over failing marks in class.  I've been disappointed over jobs I've not been offered.  Things like this are all a part of life, and the sadness comes, but it's never settled inside me.
Recently, I've been amazed at the number of people I've met who are sad to the core of their being.  And it's not a depression, that I'm aware of  (I mean, I'm not a certified doctor...), it's that they've never learned how to be happy.  They settle deep into their sadness, because it's familiar and they find comfort in their misery.  And they don't know how to be happy, because they've never known anything but sadness. 
I had this conversation with a coworker the other week, who admitted he was one who had settled nicely into his sadness, and it was hard, miserable work to find his way out of sadness and into happiness.  He had to learn how to be happy.  He said he tried everything else to fill the void that was to be filled by happiness - drugs, alcohol, women, and nothing worked.  He found his happiness in Buddhism, which really isn't for me, but seeing the difference in this man was amazing to see.  He is like a completely different person, even the features of his face have changed and have a more relaxed, happier tone.  
I've watched as a new coworker has left his marriage to be with a woman fifteen years his junior because he thinks she will be the answer to his longing for happiness.  The sad part for me, is that she finds her happiness in men who are married to women other than her.  I watch men try to find their happiness in status cars that cost a fortune, but do nothing more than take them from point A to point B.  I watch my friends try to fill the happiness void with nights out at clubs, forgetting the evening with vodka and rum or with men they'll never see again.   My friends who think that life will be complete once they find a boyfriend.  I've even watched as people have tried to take money from those who either have money or are perceived to have money, never in an honest way.  I'm watching the Oscars right now, and I see all these people with all this money, posturing with really big jewels, but fake smiles and blank eyes, and I wonder what they've sold in order to sit in those seats tonight.
And I've been there.  Oh, how I've been there (well, not at the Oscars - hahaha, but at the bars, in the one night stands).  I found, though, that the path I took to find happiness was destructive in the long run.  Men do not make me happy.  Money, certainly, does not make me happy.  Things do not make me happy. 
But I've found that in the past year or so, I've been happier than ever in my life.  My happiness is found in my beautiful son, my wonderful family and my faith.  I realize that I have no special formula for happiness.  I find that I have no holes to fill, and no vices - except maybe chocolate.  But I am happy in my own skin.  I am content in my own company and in fact, I cherish the time I get to spend on my own.  I think I'm fricken hilarious (well, I make myself laugh like all the time).  And I couldn't be happier. I find when I am happy, all the stupid little things don't matter.  What other people think of me doesn't really matter.   Brand name clothes, don't matter.  Huge bank account?  No big deal.  A husband?  Well, God willing and only then.
Where do you find your happiness?  Are you happy?  Are you stuffing your sadness with things?  Have you settled into your sadness?  What would it take to make you happy?

In Which I Shamelessly Promote a Product I Love

You guys know I am a consumer.  It's true.  If it's for sale, I want to buy it.  If it promises to make my life easier, me prettier, my hair silkier, lose inches, weight, I am all over it.  The thing is, many times it's just a fad that I go through.  I go all crazy over something for a week, or maybe a month and then as fast as I fell in love with it, I'm on to something new that promises something even better. 
The past 6 months my face has decided it's a 14 year old boy.  There is nothing more embarrassing than being a 35 year old woman with the skin of a teenager.  I've stopped eating red meat, because I was convinced the hormones were one of the main reason I kept breaking out.  We're talking huge, cyst like zits all over my cheeks, chin and forehead.  As soon as one went away three more would pop up.  Here's the thing - it was so bad people actually feel the need to comment on it.  Like I didn't notice.
And if being embarrassed weren't enough, it has been uber painful.  Like so much pressure, I can feel my heart beating in the center of this big assed zit.  Like tears running down my face if I hit it by accident, and throbbing pain the rest of the time. 
Is there some perception that people with adult acne don't wash their face?  I don't know, maybe there is.  But I was seriously tempted to start every single conversation with, "Hi, yes I know I have something going on here.  I'm not sure what it is, but I'm clean.  I totally wash my face and shower daily.  It's not my fault."  It's a little too much information, but this is what I'm thinking people are wondering and maybe need to hear from me. 
At the end of the day, it was starting to affect my confidence.  I was finding ways to creatively hide my face while I was talking to people - pretend I was playing with my hair, rest my chin on my hand, pretend I was stifling a sneeze, I had thought of it all.  The thing was, what kind of guy wants to date a woman who...well....has acne like a 14 year boy.  I grossed myself out, I'm not gointg to lie.
I've seriously tried everything. 
I went to the doctor to get a topical antibiotic cream for my face.  It did nothing more than dry my skin out.  I tried Bare Minerals because they advertised how amazing their skin care products are, and how they actually moisturize and heal damaged skin while you wear it - it just dried my skin out.  I tried Clinique - also advertising how awesomely moisturizing it was and how it fights acne.  Really, didn't do much more than dry my skin out. 
I determined that the reason my skin was breaking out so horribly was because it was dried out.  Having used Proactive in the past, I absolutely refused to do so again.  It saps all the moisture out of your face and your lips crack when you smile.  So you might not have acne, but you can't laugh without bleeding.  Not really my idea of a solution. 
It seemed as though my issue was that my skin was too dry.  So I bought 100% argon oil by Josie Maran.  I thought I had found the miracle healer for my face.  And for a few days, it really appeared as though my acne flares and settled down and my face wasn't feeling as dry.  But it was $20 for a tester size and I didnt' see results to the point where I was willing to spend $70 on a full size.  Once I stopped using it, I realized my skin wasn't actually absorbing the oil.  The oil was sitting on top of my skin.  It wasn't moisturizing.  It was masking the real issue.
In a last ditch effort, I found some old samples the RE9 line from Arbonne.  I used this stuff in the past and had some amazing results, but I kind of thought that it wasn't really the Arbonne, but more so that my skin had matured and decided it didn't want to rebel like a teenage boy anymore.  I also thought that eliminating the red meat and extra hormones had worked and I was in a zit free zone!!  Time had shown me I was wrong, though, so I thought..."What the heck!  I have nothing to lose, let's just try it."
Oh. My. Goodness. 
Within 24 hours, I noticed a difference. 
And I'm not just saying that you guys.  I wish I had taken before and after pictures just to show you the difference 24 hours made.  The dry, flaky skin was gone as my skin actually absorbed the cream instead of it just sitting on top.  The acne scabs (gross, I'm sorry) that I did have were noticeably smaller and healed.  I've had a few surface zits since starting but I've heard that it takes a month for a zit to pop up, so I'm convinced those were there before. 
I'm going to be honest...the trouble that I have with Arbonne is that I can't just go to a store and pick it up.  It requires a bit of forethought to purchase it before you're actually out of the product.  Also, it is expensive.  It cost more than the $20 cold cream that you buy from the local drug store.  However, that being said...the so called trouble is absolutely worth the results.  Nothing I've used even comes close to the results I've noticed in a week. In terms of cost, I find that I am spending $20 here or $40 there and in the end, it equals waaaaaay more than the $60 that Arbonne costs.  It's not being thrown away or sitting idle on my make up table.  And they don't contain parabens and other such gross, unhealthy ingredients.
My confidence is back.  I feel prettier.  My skin is glowing and pretty and even the red scars are beginning to fade. 
So, here's my PSA:
Do you suffer from adult acne?  And don't know why?  Is your skin dry, sore and flaky with huge cyst like zits?  Are you embarrassed by your skin? Then seriously, use RE9 by Arbonne.  I know a seller, I can totally hook you up (no seriously, I can!!  Inbox me.  I'll give you the deets!)  Tell your friends, tell your family, tell the stranger on the street.  There is no need to suffer in silence, when the answer is just 24 hours away :)

Saturday, February 9, 2013

What's Pissing Me Off This Week

Seriously, for the most part I've been teary this week instead of angry.  Like when my sister in law told me they were going to start trying for a baby this year (which I already knew) and I started talking about how excited Auntie C was and almost started crying.  Then at dinner with my family (minus Q, he was at his dad's) I was talking about how when talking about when Q was just born, I refer to him as "the baby" because I've completely separated myself from that whole experience.  I have a hard time equating Q with the first 6 weeks of his life.  In that moment, in the middle of an Indian restaurant, surrounded by butter chicken, naan, and rice, I felt so robbed of that bonding experience I just wanted to cry.  It makes me even more sad knowing that I've pretty much made my mind up to not have any more biological children.  I mean, I'm not getting any younger, and life hasn't exactly handed me a supportive husband or anything...
But on Thursday, Q didn't get home from his dad's until almost 10 pm.  Q didn't have school the next morning, but I had to get up at 5 am to go to work.  Mr. Ex had taken Q ice skating with a friend (who did have school the next morning, so I can only imagine how his mother felt when he was dropped off...) which was fine, but I also found out that Mr. Ex had brought a *friend* of the female persuasion.  He ignored all my texts, phone calls and then got Q to call me to tell me they were *lost* (riiiiiiiight...the guy has an internal GPS and I've lived in the same friggen house for almost two years.)
So, this friend...her name is Katherine.  This is so super original...I wonder if she knows she's the third variation of Catherine since me?!?!  This would also be after an Em, Lynette, Denise, another name I'm forgetting and the ones I've not found out about.   I know what you're all thinking...you're wondering if I'm jealous.  I am not.  At all.  Mr. Ex can have 10 girlfriends all at the same time if he wants.  I am certainly not going to lose any sleep over that.  What I am super pissed about is that my son has met every single one of these woman.  Every. Single. One.  (side note: it's super embarrassing reading your ex's dating life in your child's school journal...totally we went to such and such with so and so, blah, blah, blah).  This pisses me off for more than one reason.  First of all, Mr. Ex is using my child as a dating *tool* to get laid.  "Oh look at what an awesome fun dad I am...."  No woman I know can resist that.  That's great, but how responsible of a father are you?  Keeping your child out way past his bed time so you can get some action?  How responsible is that? 
Not very.
The other reason this really, really pissed me off is because I'm afraid he's teaching my son that women are dispensable.  Who needs a life long partner when you can cycle women through your life one after the other?  Who needs to put the effort into a relationship when you can have exciting one night stands instead?   Monogamy is boring and infidelity is fun, fun, fun.  And okay, I get that Q is not internalizing word for word, but if this is the example he's always known...what else is there?
I was reminded by my mother that Mr. Ex has a lot of baggage that Q does not have.  Mr. Ex's mother died when he was 8, he was sent to boarding school and when he was home he had to live with a horrid stepmother.  Mr. Ex never learned how to connect on any level other than surface.  This is why he goes through women like other people go through underwear.  He is incapable of anything deeper.  Believe me.  I know this first hand.   
Q - he's going to be different.  Q has connections.  Q has a family. Q has me, and my mom and her husband, my brother and auntie Alice.  Each one of us in our own way are teaching Q about relationships and bonds and how to love on a deeper level.  We're teaching him that life long relationships are rewarding and worth the effort that is required.  We're teaching him about responsibility.  We're teaching him about love.  He is surrounded by people he has a connection with...his best friend J and his family, just to name one of the many that have been placed in Q's life, creating and nurturing a bond.
I know that Q is going to be alright. 
And that just makes me so emotional, I want to cry. 
And...if he does grow up to think that women are just a conquest...oh, there will be words believe you me...
I will grab him by the ear...

Saturday, February 2, 2013

Lessons From my Son (Who is 8...) and Q-isms

Okay, so my kid is brilliant. 
And hilarious. 
And I haven't done a 'Q-isms' for a while, so this is a whole bunch of his wisdom all in one post.
Q:  I'm think I'm going to have two kids.  A boy first and then a girl.  I'm going to name the boy Joe and the girl Maria.
Me:  Why Joe and Maria?
Q:  I don't know.  I just really like those names.  But I guess if I had twins, I let my wife name one and I'd name the other.
Huh, sounds fair.  I didn't know 8 year olds thought about things like that.
Q:  I'm getting married in the Dominican Republic
Let me tell you this is a far cry from his destination of choice last year, which was Russia...
Q's Daddy:  What if your wife doesn't want to get married in the Dominican Republic?
Q:  Well, she can go where ever she wants, but I'm going to the Dominican. 
Q's Daddy:  How could you get married then?
Q:  Uh, she could call me...we could get married over the phone.
Ahhhhh, romantic just like his father...
Q:  I'm going to stay at my school until high school, and then I've decided to go to Seaquam, not Tamawanis.  Then I can go to school with S and B.
Again, do 8 year old boys plan their future like this kid?  Last week we spent an hour in a book store while he looked for books.  This in and of itself is not exactly odd behavior for a child, but he went around straightening all the books on the shelves as he was looking for books.  He didn't even notice he was doing it.
Last week he came out of the bathroom after brushing his teeth, with a huge smile on his face and said, "Mommy, look!!!  If I curl the toothpaste tube from the end, it pushes the toothpaste to the end.  It looks so much neater!"  Seriously, could I be any more proud??  I know, I asked myself that question but then he asked me if we could clean his bedroom and give away any toys and/or clothes that he didn't use anymore...and I think my heart burst with joy.  Where did this kid come from?
So a few months ago, Q began telling me and his dad how he was going to be in the NHL when he was older.  I smiled to myself thinking how wonderful the dreams of young children are.  They have the whole world ahead of them and really can dream as big as they want.  But then, he started saying he wasn't going to University because he was pretty sure he would already be playing for BCHL and wouldn't have time to do both.
We put him in skating lessons shortly thereafter. 
Listen, I don't know if he's going to be in the NHL.  He's 8.  He could change his mind a million times over between now and the time he has to choose a career.  Truthfully, I still don't know what I want to be, and I'm 35.  What I do know is that I'm going to do everything I can to try and make sure all his dreams come true. 
Granted, he is starting pretty late if he wants to play professional hockey.  Most kids start skating as soon as they can walk, it seems and they're playing hockey by the time they're 4 or 5.  Q starting at 8 is a little late.  Not only that, he has had to start from the very beginning.  My heart ached for him, watching those first few skating lessons.  Frustration was written all over his face.  It was not easy.  He fell.  A lot.  His muscles hurt.  A lot.  There were kids who were way better than him, and that is really hard for a perfectionist.  (Just like me!!)  He really wanted to be a 'hockey player' and every time he'd get cocky and do some smooth move, he'd fall or trip or lose his balance.
I went and watched Q at his hockey practice tonight, and I have to say, that kid has come a long way.  I am continually amazed by the lessons I learn from my child.  We really are capable of so much more than we give ourselves credit for.  Practice and perseverance.  That's all it takes.  If we want something badly enough, practice and persevere.  I think of how many times I say, "I can't do that..."  I really, really can.  You really can.  The question is really, "How badly do you want it?"
We've been practicing spelling since grade one.  Ugh.  I'm not going to lie, it's been painful.  I am not even exaggerating when I tell you we've spent a hour and a half every night of the week studying for his spelling tests, just for him to still get half of them wrong.  There would be crying.  And sometimes, it was Q.  There would be yelling.  There would be, "Mommy.  Are you getting mad yet?" Because we both knew it was coming. 
But we persevered.  People kept saying, "It will click.  It will click." I didn't really believe it.  I was super glad that spell check existed and the iPhone literally finishes your words for you.  I knew Q would be okay.  He wouldn't be an English Professor, but he wouldn't be playing guitar at the subway station either. 
We kept practicing.  Oh. My. Goodness. You guys!!!!!  Something just clicked!!  Lately, we've been spending 10 minutes a night on spelling.  10 minutes!!  And he gets 100% on the tests.  Something just clicked!  If he gets one wrong, it's because he had a "brain fart" (his words).  See what practice and perseverance can do?!?!?!  I'm seriously reconsidering everything in my life.  Everything I've said I cannot do.  I'm not really giving myself enough credit. 
Q...he's an introvert.  He's quiet until he gets to know you.  He's a perfectionist.  He's determined, though and my heart is sooooo happy because he believes he's worth it.  He's worth all the practice and all the frustration and all the falling down and all the spelling mistakes.  He's worth it.  And he knows he's worth it.
Do you know you're worth it?  What are you holding back on because you think you can't???  I'm compiling my list right now.  Specifically, I'm feeling completely overwhelmed in this new job and wondering if I've made a mistake.  Am I capable of even doing this job?  I am going to take a lesson from my kid, though, and persevere.
And now I leave you with an awesome picture of my awesome child.