Sunday, February 21, 2010

Apparently, my problems are all in my head...

Yesterday, I attended Coach's Training for Girls on the Run, which I am coordinating at school this spring. I agreed not because of the running aspect (exercise - yuck!) but because I was told that it is a self-esteem program for girls. Since most of my self-esteem issues over the years came about as a result of failed athletic pursuits, the idea of achieving self-esteem through running is pretty intriguing.

And what I discovered during the day was this: my self-esteem is actually pretty healthy!

One of the things they asked us to do was fill out three labels with the names of body parts that, given the chance, we'd like to change.

Everyone else started writing frantically - hips, butt, thighs, chin, nose...Once, I would have had a lot of things to write, too. But yesterday, I didn't. (Yes, my stomach is bigger than it ever has been or probably should be, but that is something that I CAN change - and will, as I run this 5k with the girls in the program) so I didn't think it counted. And I've always loved my nose...

So what did I come up with? Ears, because yesterday, I had an earache from a cold. Throat, because the same cold was giving me a sore throat. And thyroid, because I lost my thyroid to cancer eleven years ago, and the rest of my body is affected by that every single day.

How amazing to be at a place in my life where all of my body image issues revolve around health - vs. looks - but don't yet include constipation, cataracts, or incontinence!

Tuesday, February 16, 2010

Not a Fairytale Ending

Today, someone I once knew well was convicted of several serious crimes. Even twenty-two years ago, there were clues - arrogance, a sense of entitlement, ambition that smelled like greed. So I can't honestly say that I was surprised by the news.

But there were good things about this person, too. Things like intelligence, generosity, and ambition that was boundless.

The prosecutor said a lot of people had been hurt. The jury returned a guilty verdict. I don't doubt that it was the right decision.

But I'm inexplicably sad about this turn of events, and I find myself crying now as I type. If this was a book, I could have redeemed the villain at the end, or, at the very least, rejoiced in the triumph of good over evil. But I don't like this ending at all.

Monday, February 15, 2010

He's my inspiration

No disrespect to my husband, but I do have another significant other: our Lollie-pup (Lab/Collie cross), Spencer. And a lot of my best writing ideas seem to happen not while I'm parked in front of the keyboard, but when I give myself permission to take a break, stop thinking about the problem, and head outside for a walk with my favourite little doggy-dude. What is it about picking up dog poop that helps me write? E-How, suggests that
"when we feel good, our senses heighten, and we can be at our best creatively".
and while the poop scooping itself doesn't actually make me "feel good", being outside and seeing Spencer enjoy himself really does. (I mean, seriously - who can feel stressed when they're looking at a wiggly bum with a waggly tail? Who?) Watch this video of Spencer enjoying himself outside and tell me it doesn't make you smile!

"overscheduling is an enemy of creativity."
The physical act of walking probably helps, too. In 2005, Creativity Research Journal published a study suggesting that
"aerobic exercise may positively impact creative potential, and that these effects may extend for some period of time,"
That's why Spencer is such a creative inspiration. He makes me get off my butt, and move. I'd like to be the type of person who just gets up and exercises because it's "fun" or "good for them". I know they exist, because I live with one. But, as stated in my January 27, 2010 blog entry, that is not me. I'd choose a dozen things over deliberate exercise. But I'd choose almost nothing over my pets.

Friday, February 12, 2010

Olympic aspirations...

Just took a break from revisions to see the opening ceremonies of the 2010 Olympic Games hosted by my own country of Canada.

What was with the mini-length fur coats and bare legs on the sign bearers as each country's athletes entered the stadium? Do Canadian women really need to play the sexy card when we are HOSTING THE OLYMPICS FOR THE WORLD?

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Spencer makes me happy during a week of over-extension and Editorial Hell

Spencer thinks the cats - and my books - have had entirely too much attention in this blog. And so, as I caffenate for another long weekend of Editorial Hell (much of it self-inflicted, as I failed to read some small print...), a picture of my favourite doglet. (Taken this afternoon, with my new Blackberry. I didn't think I needed a new gadget, but I have to admit - kind of handy to have a camera!) Honestly, if it wasn't for him, I wouldn't have made it outside on this beautiful February afternoon. It's not a great shot of him, but it gives you some idea of how bouncy and delighted he was to go out on the frozen lake. Seeing him frolic in the snow is just one of the many ways that he makes me happy.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Highs and Lows of School Trips

A picture from the trip:

...and a story to explain last week's comment about adult geeks vs. child geeks on school trips.

My first school trip was in January the year I was in grade 8. I went to a big school, with several grade 8 classes, so there was no way that the whole school could travel at the same time. Unfortunately, my best friends were not in my class, and their trip was scheduled for the beginning of the week, while mine was at the end. Consequently, I ended up rooming with another girl in my class who was immature in a "I'm thirteen but I still like playing Barbies with my ten year old brother" kind of way. Now, lest that sound judgmental, let me explain about my own situation. I was tall and awkward. I was the smart kid. I was not terribly interested in guys, or fashion, or wearing make-up. Maybe you could say that I was immature, too.

So we arrive at the outdoor education centre and discover that there are not enough rooms on the girls floor, and too many on the boys. Guess which girls got put downstairs? Yup. The ones the teachers trusted. I get that. I got it even then. No way would I have put the flirty impulsive ones down there. But still. It felt humiliating -- not as if the teachers were saying "we trust you" -- as if they were saying "you're not desirable to the guys". Ouch.

Predictably, the flirty impulsive girls tried to use me and my roomate, inventing lame excuses to "visit" our room.

I got through it. And you know what? By the time I got chosen as one of six students from our school to go on a Quebec trip five months later, one of the two boys who'd been selected – realizing that I didn't know the other three girls who were going -- said "Don't worry, Kim - you can hang out with me and Mike." I did hang out with Duncan and Mike. But I also got to know Cindy, Wendy and Andrea, (who you read about earlier in A Tale of Two Islands).

So why do I always remember the perceived humiliation of the winter trip, and not the triumph of Quebec?

Maybe because new research shows that
"Your brain preferentially scans for, registers, stores, recalls, and reacts to unpleasant experiences; it's like Velcro for negative experiences and Teflon for positive ones. Consequently, even when positive experiences outnumber negative ones, the pile of negative...memories naturally grows faster."

Too bad. Because my students spent way more time on the ropes challenges, the hiking, the campfire, and the games than calling each other "flat", but no matter how much fun everything else was, the name calling is probably what two of them will remember most.

Friday, February 5, 2010

Remembering my Dad

Today marks my mother's 73rd birthday. Hooray! It's also the twenty-fifth anniversary of my father's death. Sigh. I can type that fairly unemotionally because it's been so long, and I am practised. Apart from the first anniversary, I think maybe the weirdest one was ten years ago, when I realized I had lived as much of my life without a father as I had with one. I've just been building on the "without" side (and will continue to do so) ever since. But still - a quarter of a century. Wow.

Yes - I do think about how things might be different if he was alive today. He loved technology, and I believe that he would be crazy for digital photos and MP3 players and computing in general. It's safe to say that he'd still be eco-conscious (he was a pioneer in that area) but I hope he'd be a little bit more financially relaxed, and he'd spring for the good seats at the symphony, rather than waiting for intermission to move down in vacant ones closer to the front. Best of all, I'm pretty sure he'd still be super proud of me. I don't have him anymore, but I do have that.