Inside my present …so, so much past

I looked my past in the eye and truly wondered how I could have ever thought that he would be my future. I felt awkward, like I wanted to jump out of my skin. Though I had to recognize that if I hadn’t made some of the mistakes I’ve made, then I wouldn’t be as strong as I am now. I wouldn’t be as wary of the signs of not being treated the way I want. I wouldn’t know what things are important to me. These intense tornadoes that I walk away from—though at times ridiculous, embarrassing and uncomfortable—have taught me so much.

Revelations are sometimes so loud that they’re ear-piercing, and sometimes they’re so quiet that they’re heartbreaking.

More and more, I think that one of the qualities I value most is consistency. And I think that consistency is also the thing that I respect most about a couple, whether they can work on their problems. Being able to count on one another, no matter what, being honest and open with one another all the time, is what it takes to make it. It’s always going to be a bit of a struggle to determine how much of yourself you get to keep in a relationship. We meet each other, we fall in love. There are our passions, our idiosyncrasies, our traits and quirks. And then, somewhere along the line, those very things may be getting in the way. How do you find that balance? I think, in the end, you can’t try to water down or change that person. You try to find a balance. You try to make it all work. And if it doesn’t, then you pack up your suitcase full of lessons and experiences and you move along. And that’s okay. Sometimes a particular relationship is something we need to go through in order to make changes that are necessary in our own lives.

And don’t get me wrong, I’m still a romantic. I believe with my heart and soul that you can meet someone who encompasses everything you want, who can actually be the sexiest person and your best friend. Somebody who will laugh with you; who you want to talk about anything and everything with, or are comfortable just being silent with. The two of you become this beautiful island that is so sacred. I don’t buy into the Cinderella theory that you just have to sit around and wait for your perfect prince to come and rescue you. No! That doesn’t appeal to me. I want to know that you’re a screwed-up person, that you’re going to figure yourself out and on the way you find room for love in your life. That, to me, is real.

I still have faith that one night, I’ll find myself standing on the grass, and it’ll be raining. I will be with the person I love, and I’ll know that I’m at the very point I’ve been dreaming of getting to…that I finally got there.

I’m Miss World, somebody kill me, kill me pills

I’ve been listening to my Hole records a lot over the last couple of days. I had a conversation with a friend at work the other day about Miss Courtney Love. He is not a fan. I, on the other hand, have been a fan of Courtney Love since Christ was a cowboy. I get really defensive when people trash her. I have a loyalty to her, whereby I feel I must defend her talents. As a teenager, I idolized Courtney because she was this badass rock-chick that didn’t seem to care what people said or thought about her. And indeed she reached great heights. What was so inspiring about Love in her grunge years was she never attempted to cop a pose of any sort; she let it all out in a terrific and often terrifying spectacle.
In his suicide note, Kurt Cobain quoted Neil Young’s classic refrain: “It’s better to burn out than fade away.” On Celebrity Skin, Love responds to her dearly departed: “When the fire goes out you better learn to fake / It’s better to rise than fade away.” In this lyric we can read her survival strategy. Trauma affects us all differently; in Love, it manifested itself in an about-face, a cover-up of the unruly emotions she traded on. Love has always been a woman of extremes, so it probably should not have been so surprising that in constructing her new protective shell, around the time that she became a movie star, she went to the other extreme, coming up with a sanitized version of herself that was so squeaky clean and perfectly packaged it was hard to reconcile with the loose cannon of a mere few years earlier.
Over the last few years, she has gone through ups and downs- been in and out of rehab. I am truly sad for her that she hasn’t been able to get her addiction problems completely under control or her life back on track because I really think that she’s a brilliant woman. Live Through This and Celebrity Skin are two of my favorite albums of all time. I have so much history with those two records, a long standing love affair with the music of Miss Love. Her words and voice have gotten me through some rough times. She speaks honestly and with such articulation. Passion breathes inside the depth of a tortured heart. Matthew Good wrote, one thing that will never change is that that which touches us remains in our hearts and memories forever. Through music we document our lives, our loves and losses, our trials and tribulations, and our happiness. It is, without question, one of the most powerful and unifying forces known to man.” That is precisely why I have such a ferocious love for music.
One of my favorite memories is being in the moshpit at Thunderbird Stadium for Edgefest back in 1999. It was the ultimate lineup: The Matthew Good Band and Hole were playing the same show. It was my dream come true; my two favorite bands. I was in strappy sandals, capri pants and a little tank top. I had my tiny, over the shoulder purse. I was your classic 18 year old prep from the suburbs. Although I was dressed unlike any of the “real hardcore moshpitters,” I was willing to do anything to get as close to Courtney Love as possible. She came on stage and I did everything in my power to get right up there. And I did. I almost got trampled to death and lost my purse, but I was front and center when Miss Love pulled up her top and flashed her perfect breasts to the crowd. She is so passionate and in her element on stage. Absolutely incredible to see live.

Say what you want about Courtney Love, but she is one hell of a talented songwriter and dammit, that woman can rock.

There’s nothing inside her, she’s weak and she’s tired of feeling like this

I came across an article in The Province this morning written by Misty Harris called ‘Thinspirational web videos prompt calls for a ban’…it speaks of a new type of graphic Internet video which has inspired calls from website administrators to ban or limit these clips being accessed by teenagers through Facebook, MySpace and Youtube.

The cause of concern isn’t pornography but rather “thinspo” videos alleged to promote anorexia and bulimia among the young people who watch them. There are currently more than 8,000 public thinspo – also called thinspiration – videos on YouTube, most of which set images of skeletal models, celebrities and anonymous real girls to songs such as Lisa Loeb’s She’s Falling Apart, a favourite anthem among disordered eaters.
They tend to be accompanied by “motivational” words for pro-ana (pro-anorexic) viewers, such as the message in the video “Thinspiration By Livi” reading: “Every time when I’m about to eat, I look at these girls and then remember that nothing tastes as good as thin feels.”

Thinspiration is defined as “a term that refers to a role model used by people (often individuals with eating disorders) to inspire them to lose weight. It’s most common in the pro-ana community, but not confined to it. “ While I myself had never heard of such websites until I read Harris’ article this morning, I certainly have used images of thin women to help fuel my own weight loss efforts in the past. I have also spent a great deal of time obsessing over food, eating, weight loss and body image. That said, this issue hits very close to home for me. I have been on both ends of the weight spectrum- a size 16 at my heaviest and down to skin and bones at my thinnest. I know what it is to get into that mindset where you want to be thin more than anything else to the point where it’s almost all you can think about. I have gotten myself so thin that my face is drawn, my bones are showing and my family is worried; but I still don’t think I’m thin enough. I have congratulated myself for being able to get through a day of eating next to nothing and given myself a pat on the back for putting in overtime at the gym. I certainly have engaged in severely problematic food and weight behaviour at different times in my life. The weight I am at today is my healthiest. This is me watching what I’m eating, being conscious of nutritional value, and being active but not being completely obsessive. Ironically, I think I’m fat right now.

The worst part about the images being portrayed in popular culture today is that they are completely unrealistic, airbrushed, manipulated . . . and put a lot of pressure on young people to look a certain way. This is extremely dangerous.

Eating disorders drive many sufferers into isolation, overcome by feelings of deficiency in the single-minded obsessive pursuit of perfection. To allay the ensuing loneliness, many young people turn to the Internet where scores of Web sites are devoted to their friends “Ana,” “Bella” and “Mia,” cyberspace nicknames for anorexia and bulimia. While anorexia proponents cite the web pages and communities they spawn as places to draw strength, health care advocates have spent the last decade condemning them.

In doing some research for this post, I took a look at the National Eating Disorder Information Center’s website. The statistics are absolutely startling.

Scouring through magazines, clothing catalogs, newspapers, television and the movies, some eating-disordered women seize upon super-skinny celebrities for “thinspiration,” a term used on pro-anorexia Web sites to describe admiration for their role models. Supporters post pictures of their thinspiration favorites on Internet sites and community discussion boards. Popular thinspiration celebrities include movie star Keira Knightley, tennis star Anna Kournikova, and models Kate Moss and Oksana Pautova. Even those like Mary-Kate Olsen and Victoria “Posh Spice” Beckham, who have publicly admitted to their battles with eating disorders, are held up as templates for success.

The singularity of focus is what makes the pro-eating disorder websites so unique. Instead of four or five pages of emaciated, elongated, computer-manipulated models spaced out in a magazine among editorial content, these sites stockpile these images exclusively. To curious observers, rather than having a temptation to emulate these images, more likely their reaction may be surprise at how absolutely commonplace they are. In other words, the majority of these images are by no means underground, subversive, or secret. They are merely purloined from the many media images we encounter on a daily basis without even trying.

There is one style of thinspiration that is unique to pro-eating disorder Web sites: photos portraying underweight individuals, always girls or women, participating in questionable behaviors, such as kneeling over a toilet, exercising, or showing off their skeletons. The more disturbing Web sites include captions such as “I love your bones,” indicating that such appearances are desirable.

Speaking from the perspective of someone who has dealt with disordered eating, body dysmorphia and the struggle to be thin, these websites really worry me. This is why I felt compelled to write something today upon reading this article this morning.

“In an ideal world, we would all take responsibility for the content of our websites … But there’s also this concept of free speech,” said Morand, author of Food Is Not The Problem: Deal With What Is.

“So the question is, where do we draw the line about what’s appropriate versus what’s harmful – harmful to the people taking part and harmful to the people watching.”

At a time when there are so many more important issues to be focusing on in this world, why are so many young women consumed by this quest for thinness? Imagine the good that could be done if all of this energy was focused somewhere more positive.

Synchronized like magic

I have returned from our annual Summer Houseboating Extravaganza. In past years, we have filled a boat with upwards of 25 people…this year, we opted for a smaller boat and scaled down the group to a carefully selected number of our closest friends.
We left out of Salmon Arm on Friday and hit up Shuswap Lake- Canada’s houseboating paradise- aboard the ‘Tropical Mist’ for 4 days of fun in the sun on the water. The lake is wild and rugged; home to pristine, sandy beaches, towering waterfalls and warm, clear water. While the weather wasn’t pure perfection, the rain did stay away- so that was good enough for us.

Derek J. and Tommy were our two captains, and did an excellent job of navigating us around the lake. We spent the days lounging on floaties in the water, sitting in the hot tub, drinking Caesars and suntanning. By night, we had dance parties, and singalongs, roasted marshmallows by campfire, brought out the beer bong and consumed copious amounts of amazing food.

Highlights of the trip were: Miss Di- the beer bong champion and first star of the weekend, our mock Big Brother vote off, Jason’s (controversial) speedo, Tom pulling out the rock star wig and Elvis glasses randomly, Jay’s ambiguous sexuality, pretty much everything Davis did on our last night and us trying to find the markers and dock the boat back at the marina at the end of the trip (Derek almost beached us, and the radio guys hated our guts!)
All in all, it was a fabulous trip! Cheers to the whole crew for making this the best houseboating year yet! I am so lucky to have such an unreal group of friends!

I am doll eyes, doll mouth, doll legs

Body image and the struggle for self acceptance are themes which I have written about frequently. After spending a weekend in my bikini with 15 of my friends on a co-ed houseboat and talking to most of the girls about these very issues, I got to thinking…

Why is it that we can see beauty in others, but not in ourselves? Look at Narcissus. He was a man so consumed by his own image that he drowned in it. There are lots of times when I wish I could just be really tiny. You know those people who are so thin that you wonder how the hell they ever got that way or how all their organs even fit inside them? I hate to admit this, but the media does play a role… being bombarded with images of celebrities who have turned into skeletons with twig arms and hollow cheeks and no boobs, has a way of making a girl feel bad about her curves. I hate to admit that I am affected by it. See, I consider myself to be relatively intelligent. But seeing these images constantly does start to make you feel like you should be thinner. Hmm…I still have boobs, my arms are a little chubby, I don’t have 5 inches between my thighs, and my stomach isn’t immune to bloating. My awareness of these facts makes my body a backdrop for my everyday life. My stomach, back, butt and overall appearance are always in my peripheral vision, not my sole focus, but definitely tickling at my consciousness. I try to remind myself that healthy girls don’t envy other women’s small frames or sunken cheeks. They don’t find pride in the comment, “wow, your collar bones really stick out.” They don’t feel guilty for not being as thin, or muscular as a magazine clipping. But here I am, insecurity-laden, nervous and wanting to become Miss Skin’n’ Bones. Here I am, flipping through Victoria’s Secret catalogues wishing that I could order the bodies instead of the clothes.

Our bodies are often the target for our harshest judgements and the barometer by which we measure our self worth. We hold ourselves up to unattainable standards and berate ourselves for coming up short of perfection. Maybe it’s because our physical self is the form in which we show up in the world, so it is very often the way we define ourselves. But it shouldn’t be. Imposing harsh judgements on your body limits the range of experiences that you allow yourself to enjoy. Years ago, I can remember tainting a potentially amazing day at the beach because I was so worried about what everybody would be thinking about how I looked in a bikini. I would have enjoyed a day like that so much more if I could have walked across the sand and not felt self conscious. Would my life really be enhanced if my stomach was flatter or my legs were smaller? Probably not, but being able to live my life, and not obsess about what I look like and what everybody is thinking about how I look, would enhance everything I do in life. True acceptance comes when you can embrace and appreciate your body as it is right now, and no longer feel that you need to alter it to be worthy of someone’s love–most of all your own. It’s natural and human to want to be at your physical best. But this means that you have to stop criticizing, judging and finding fault with your body, even when you are not at your healthiest or most attractive. The drive to improve yourself is healthy- but only if it comes from a place of self love as opposed to a feeling of inadequacy.

I aspire to get to a place where I truly love myself and accept myself as I am. My mom has always told me to accept the things I can not change, and change the things I can. The key, she says, is having the wisdom to know the difference.

This weekend, I didn’t hide under dresses or towels in the sun. I tried to let go of my insecurities. I made an effort not to worry about what anybody thought about my body. I rocked my bikinis and decided not to give a damn.

I think we all struggle with self love in our own way. But love or hate it, this body will be yours for the duration of your life on Earth. I guess you may as well make the most of it; that’s what I’m trying to do.