Monday, August 30, 2010

Popcorn and Pyjamas

Twelve years old.

It was a time of sun-filled days spent lounging around the pool, of bike rides and drumsticks and dreams about the future.

A time of posters plastered on bedroom walls and horror movies and dance parties.

A time of firsts: first kisses, first periods, first cigarettes.

A time of growth spurts and sex talks and boys with blue eyes and yellow dirt bikes making hearts flutter and skinned knees go weak.

A time of girls.

Gangly girls who thought they knew it all. Who thought they had it all. (Didn’t we?)

Some were friends I knew would last forever (they have). Others were friends I knew would eventually drift away (they did).

I see it so clearly: pyjamas and popcorn and bowl after bowl of Heavenly Hash ice cream.

Staying up until sunrise sharing the secrets that hid in the deepest crevices of our hearts and trusting that they would never be repeated. (They never were).

There were silly moments and scary moments as we giggled our way towards the unavoidable task of growing up.

Then, we grew up.

We met more girls along the way - in high school, in university. Some are now sisters. Others crossed our path for one brief moment and in that moment they made us laugh, or cry, or question. They taught us a lesson we were ready to learn.

Different girls at different times and so many popcorn-fueled confessions.

I miss those confessions. That feeling of harmony and solidarity that came from just being girls, in pyjamas, chatting the night away.

These days, I see my girlfriends once every few weeks, if I’m lucky. We try to connect over a rushed lunch date or last-minute coffee break and barely even get past “hello” before it’s time to go.

We often plan to have a nice dinner, catch a movie, talk until the bartender kindly asks us to leave. Sometimes these plans work out, but usually they don’t. They fall to the bottom of our list of things-to-do while work or family or other more pressing commitments consistently take the top slot.

And women everywhere are suffering because of this.

Women need women just as girls need girls.

We need to relax, unwind, discard the heels, the makeup, the earrings. We need to turn off the cell phone, turn off the charm, turn off the polished skills of the accomplished professional and just chill out.

Like we used to, when we were 12.

So, ladies, I am bringing it back. I am reinstating the slumber party. I am checking my calendar, choosing an evening, booking it off, and treating myself to a night of uninhibited sharing and squealing and ouija boards and pillow fights.

There can be some tweaking, of course. We can substitute root beer for red wine, M&Ms for dark chocolate, and chips for brie cheese and crackers, but the rest must stay the same: the pyjamas, the popcorn, the ice cream, the horror movies. These are the slumber party staples.

I see it so clearly: women reconnecting with their girly selves, their childhood aspirations, their genuine feelings. Women, freed from the pressures of city life, loose and giddy and unguarded.

And though the evening itself is sure to be fun, I am certain that bringing back the slumber party will have repercussions far beyond the living room.

Imagine a world in which women are regularly encouraged to take some time for themselves, to unclench those fists, peel off those tights, and talk and share and dissolve into giggles.

Imagine a world in which women are encouraged to detach themselves from their various roles of girlfriend, wife, mother, staff member, boss and relax into the realms of girl and friend.

This is a world in which women feel valued and worthy. It is a world in which women can more easily shrug off stress because they understand the importance of putting themselves first. It is a world in which women give themselves permission to throw on some pyjamas and replenish their reserves of strength and passion and power.

Yes, power. Women, united in a sisterhood of love and trust and laughing fits, are a force to be reckoned with.

Ladies, let’s make this happen. Let’s take care of ourselves, and each other. Let’s indulge in some guilt-free girl-time and remember who we once were, before we became so many things to so many people.

I am having a slumber party.

Who’s in?


This week's affirmation: I am grateful for the women in my life.

Monday, August 23, 2010

Reclaiming Sad

I remember.

The slow and steady slide into dark, into murky.

I remember knees buckling, heart splitting, breath catching between a word and a thought.

I remember melting into a puddle of the person I once was.

I remember sadness. (And I know you do too.)

We have been sad. We have felt the foundation crack under the weight of insurmountable sorrow. Slumped forward, head in our hands, we have been broken and frightened and completely alone.

We avoid sad.

We swallow the lump, we crack a joke, we chug a beer, we smoke some pot, we watch TV, we go to sleep. We become accustomed to the tightness in our chest and the numbness in our stomach. We choose the numbness; there is safety there.

But the numbness is killing us, incinerating us from the inside out. Our bodies are breaking; our minds, detonating. We pop the pills and go to work while the emotional eruption that is continually suppressed spits toxins into our veins and threatens the integrity of our cells.

We are dying of suppressed sadness. We are drowning in diversions. We are so terrified of embracing the sad that we constantly look away. Everyday, we look away.

The result is our planet, in a state of decay.

I reclaim my planet.

I see myself swimming upstream, through the weeds and against the current. Reaching the calm waters that soothe and sustain. Feeling safe again, floating in my Mother’s womb.

I allow the barriers to disintegrate, the facade to crumble, the numbness to fade until all that remains is the crimson heart that feels and hurts and breaks open, rendering me (and you) so very vulnerable and beautifully human.

I reclaim my beauty.

There is so much beauty in sadness. Because sadness is real. It cannot be faked or shaped or dressed up. It is crude and fervent and powerful. It brings us to our knees and makes us heave and swell and sob and churn until we are raw. Until we are ready.

For the stillness.

There is an infinite source of resilience and strength that follows every sadness. It waits until we are drained and hollow before making itself known. Like the luminescence that lingers after the downpour, it waits until there is a space. A pause. A silence. Then it bathes us in colour, floods us with wonder.

It replenishes our stores of hope and faith until we can breathe again. Until the mist lifts and we can see again. Until we can take another step, dance another dance, ask another question, take another chance.

Suddenly we find ourselves standing tall, shaken and unsettled, but immersed in the moment and more sure-footed than ever before. We no longer fear the diagnosis, the circumstance, the bad news, the outcome. We no longer fear at all.

There is nothing to fear about sadness. Without real sadness, there can be no real joy.

Let us be sad for the child without food, the woman without a coat, the dog without a home. Let us be sad for the friend with a broken heart, the patient with a scary chart, the bird with a broken wing. Let us be sad for the disintegrating health of our forests, of our oceans, of our skies. Let us be sad for the poverty-stricken families, the war-torn countries, the abused and the lonely and the desperate and the lost.

Let us cry and ache and break and feel. Let the sadness strip us, rip us, and pummel us into the ground until it is time to heal.

Let us be wide open. When we are wide open, love rushes in. Love rushes out. We become a vehicle of love and compassion. We become goodness itself.

Let us not look away, run away, stay away. With eyes open, heart broken, let us stand. Let us reach out our hand.

I reclaim my sadness.

I don’t want to be cheered up or picked up or distracted. I don’t want to hear your joke, answer your question, or make up excuses. I want to see what needs to be seen and feel what needs to be felt. I want the waves to crash over me and leave me dripping wet.

Let me be sad. Let me be human and godlike and childlike. Let me be present and vulnerable and afraid. Let me weep for the world and strive for redemption. Let me find my rainbow, my strength under the sorrow. Let me help you find yours.

Let me remember that in order to rise above the misery I must first slide into the dark, murky depths of it.

I remember.


This week's affirmation: I reach out my hand whenever I can.

Monday, August 2, 2010

The Importance of Picking Daisies

Exhaustion clings to me like a second skin and I cannot peel it off. It sticks to every inch of my being, weighing me down, demanding attention, refusing to be shed.

I am too tired to write right now. I have been tired for days. Monday has morphed into another Monday and I am yawning still.

I am too tired to think, too tired to feel much of anything except the fierce longing to sink into my bed sheets and drift into untroubled slumber.

Anxiety has slipped into my shadow and is stalking me like prey. I am spinning on the wheel of sleepless nights and inner fights and feelings of defeat. I have nothing left to give. I am bone dry.

And the question that torments me is the all-consuming why.

Why do I do this to myself?

Why do I allow worry to shape my every waking moment? Why don’t I turn off the computer, slow down the synapses, and submerge myself in bubbles? Why don’t I day-trip down a dusty road, if only for a few hours?

Why do I find it so hard to find my footing in this work-driven adult life?

I know better. I skip along the wellness trail and pick fresh daisies on the way. I preach the importance of breathing, of being, of finding balance in the customary bedlam.

And, yet, even I get caught up in the vortex. Lost in the maze with a million other losers. Because there is no victor in this game.

Just a multitude of misguided souls praying for salvation and wondering where the wonder went.

(Where did the wonder go?)

I have lost my balance. I have fallen off the tightrope. My daisies are wilting. I pick up the petals with a heart-heavy hand and pray for a good night’s sleep.


This week's affirmation: I breathe.