Spring Into A New Self-image

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It’s that time of year when I’d rather not look in the mirror. That time of year when my skin is at its palest. And of course, spot one flaw, spot them all. It doesn’t matter who you are or what you look like. Is that a double chin? What happened to my collarbone? Where did it go? Is my collarbone showing too much? Why is my butt jiggly. And why are my thighs moving that way? Are my elbows too knobby? Is the gap between my thighs wide enough? Or why don’t I have a gap between my thighs? I do all that legwork and nothing happens in my thighs but now I have a bubble butt and potato-shaped calves.

Can you feel the headache coming on? Have you bashed your head into the wall so much that you left a dent and some blood? Are you done mentally carving yourself to pieces like a butcher? So let’s get the collective knife out our backs and figure out a few things.

Who’s to blame?

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It’s not men. They have to fit into tight, low-waist tapered pants that show just a glimpse of ankle, sport perfectly groomed beards, maintain their hair so that it looks like it gets cut every week by a stylist and not a barber, and then their chests. They get to compete with the Hemsworth brothers, the entire cast of SEAL Team, S.W.A.T. and 9-1-1, every fast, strong, agile and drop-dead-gorgeous-super-sexy comic book character from Captain America to Wolverine, AND mutant heroes of the shifter romance genre. So, they don’t have it easy either.

Can we blame the media? Take a moment and look around you. How many twig-like Amazonian women are you seeing right now? If you’re a fashion model or live in L.A., never mind. If you’re a mere mortal woman, note that there aren’t any. However, she is not a mythical creature. She’s been corralled along with every woman of the same body type by capitalism.

Next time you watch TV or Netflix, notice how when an actress turns sideways, her body blends into the scenery. It’s not camouflage. It’s her size. If I don’t focus on her face, she disappears.

It’s scary. At least for me. Because if every woman I see in the media is gorgeous, always made-up, fabulously dressed and laptop thin, I start to think that should be me too. And people, I have never come close to that. And realistically, I never will unless I become extremely sick. It’s just not my body type. Nor is it the body type of most women out there. Why would I even consider that for myself? I wouldn’t except I get bombarded with images of that single body type over and over again.

And this media that’s affecting my state of mind, that’s not just warped unethical capitalism, it’s me and you, right? We repost pics of who we’d like to look like. We spend hours filtering and retouching our selfies. We consume gym memberships, self-help fitness books, try the latest fad diets like we can all be Karlie Kloss or Hailey Baldwin. Yet, in their own eyes, they are as flawed as we are in ours. They are as beautiful to others as we are to others. And they are as unique in the universe as we are unique in the universe.

Change

Ashley Graham in Nevis photographed by Josie Clough.

I’ve posted about Taryn Brumfitt, who is promoting self-accepting throughout her organization Body Image Movement, before. There are also actresses like Victoire Dauxerre who are creating change by exposing impossible realities. Just the title of her memoir says so much: Size Zero: My Life as a Disappearing Model. And we had the beautiful Ashley Graham gracing the cover of 2016 Sports Illustrated Swimsuit Issue.

Self-confidence often lands as the number one most important trait of attractiveness. Let’s focus on building that by adopting a positive self-image. By doing accepting ourselves as we are, we are making our contribution toward a body positive, body inclusive world.

What’s your body challenge? Where do you see change happening? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

Decluttering For Your Mental Health

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A lot of things impact our mental health, many of which we have zero control over such as the weather, bad drivers and meteorites. But so much, we can control. You know the drill: forgive, perform acts of kindness, smile. Once in a while the world is trying to tell us something. Lately, it’s been telling me, “Declutter your life, declutter you mind, Patricia.” While I don’t think my life is that cluttered, the universe seems to think it is. (I have been known to ignore what I don’t want to deal with.)

It all started at the end of March while having dinner with my girlfriends. One mentioned Marie Kondo. You know her: keep only the stuff that “sparks joy” in you, organize it, keep it organized.  (I might be over simplifying.) My friends were praising her and also feeling guilty about their cluttered homes. While I’d never heard of Marie Kondo and her Konmari method, I was feeling quite smug while I listened to my besties confess how much they needed her to come over to their homes. Because yeah, I’m that person who will wage war on the shoe rack that has more shoes surrounding it than on it, that person who will spend the afternoon cleaning out the bureau because I’m tired of its drawers launching their contents at me when I open them and require two hands to stuff, one hip to shove and a prayer to close them again, and that person who will spend an hour with a shredder because I can’t see the surface of my desk anymore.

Having said that, I’m not Miss Perfect And On Top Of Things. Not at all. If I were, I’d post here with more regularity like twice a week. (I’m doing my best so I’m not going to feel bad about it.) My girls did catch my attention when they mentioned the Konmari folding method. Check out this video:

So I checked out the organizing guru on Netflix and transformed my drawers. Tada!

Konmari method

 

Apparently, that wasn’t enough because I found myself reading an article about how to declutter your home in 31 days. And why do that? Because a tidy home is a tidy mind. So I’m not sure that’s entirely true if you take it to the extreme. Then it’s obsessive compulsive disorder. However, knowing that cleaning out the garage, donating clothes you no longer wear or deleting all those unnecessary files and folders on your C: drive means that task is no longer on your to-do list. Peace of mind. Om.

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This was followed by another article about prioritizing the day. The idea behind it was that you can only focus on doing three things really well in one day so make those your priorities for that day. This totally spoke to me because, like most people,  I can have a bunch of different things planned for a day like work on WIP, read for course, workout, check-in with Mom and do laundry and groceries.

Just looking at that list makes me hurt. Here’s what’s really interesting: look at the categories all those items fall under:

  • work on WIP is work
  • read for course is school
  • workout is fitness
  • checkin with Mom is family and friends
  • do laundry and groceries is home

That’s five categories. That’s a lot to have on one’s plate in one day. Each takes time to do. Each will take place in a different location. And if those two things aren’t stressful enough, the constant switch in mindset is enough to give anyone mental whiplash. So maybe I could live longer and healthier if I focus on work, school and family and friends today and work, fitness and home tomorrow, and family and friends, home and fitness on the weekend. Just writing that out feels much nicer than that earlier list.

I’m giving this a try. Today is school, work and family and friends. And tomorrow, I’m going to tackle the 400+ emails in my inbox. So I’m thinking I’ll make it a work, work and work day. Although it would probably be a good idea if I planned work, fitness and work. Taking a fitness break halfway through that inbox sounds like good mental health, don’t you think?

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What kind of clutter accumulates in your life? How do you manage it? Do you have a decluttering routine? I love to hear from you. Leave a comment.

World Book Day

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What a crazy few days! We had a four-day weekend, cold windy rainy days, sunny warm days, a full house at church, birthdays at Easter dinner, and chocolate at bedtime. How was your holiday?

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And the celebration continues! Today is World Book Day, an annual event organized by the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) to promote readingpublishing, and copyright. World Book Day was first celebrated on 23 April 1995. (Thank you Wikipedia for that explanation.)

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As an only child, storytelling was a form of entertainment for me. Like every other child, it started with toys having adventures. The toy airplane that flew to my best friends house, the doll that went to school with me, the teddy bear that followed Mom to work. You get it. Eventually, I started writing scripts in copybooks. I was certain when I was eight years old that I wanted to be in the movie business. Hollywood, here I come! Make way for me and my favorite teddy bear.

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I discovered reading for pleasure at thirteen. Until then, I’d thought that the movies were the alpha and omega, but it was romantic curiosity that had me reading my first novel. A romance novel, of course. And while I don’t remember the title. I do remember the story because I had expected a romance novel to be about, well, romance. But it was so much more than that. It was actually an adventure into the Catskills as a killer, a convict and a detective vied for survival. It was suspenseful and thrilling and I was hooked. Television and movie viewing took a backseat to reading about interesting characters, their exciting worlds, and their struggles.

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So this is what my bedside looks like, right now. Out of those stacks, I’m actively reading:

  • Ride Wild by Laura Kaye
  • Takedown Twenty by Janet Evanovich
  • The Kissing Booth by Beth Reekles
  • Offside My Life Crossing The Line by Sean Avery with Michael McKinley
  • How To Be Rich by J. Paul Getty

I would claim that I mostly read romance novels but looking at this list, I realize that I tend to be all over the place. I read a variety of fiction and non-fiction. And I have boxes of books in storage to prove it too.

Did you notice in the above description of World Book Day that writing isn’t mentioned? Am I the only one who thinks that’s strange since you can’t copyright, publish or read what hasn’t been written? But maybe they want to keep the emphasis on what happens after the writing.

I already hinted at the beginnings of my writing career. Out of respect for this special day and UNESCO, I will continue that story in some other blog post. For today, I’m going to leave it here.

What are you currently reading? Have you published or copyrighted anything you’d like to share/promote? Go for it, you have my permission to be shameless. I love hearing from you so leave a comment.

Bollywood VS NHL: Who Will Survive?

I’m happy to announce that Masks: A Novella is now available in print!

Amazon Masks Print Edition

Covers is with a beta editor, who will hopefully, get on with it already! I want to start rewriting as soon as possible. While this is on hold, I have not been wasting time waiting. I’ve started writing book 4.

The main story will go something like this:

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By the end of her summer, Rohini will fulfill a promise she made to her grandmother by following Indian traditional marriage customs. But when she discovers her brother in her fiancé’s arms, she flees her grandmother’s city of Mumbai for home, Montreal, Canada. Betrayed and angry, she seeks refuge among friends, but she can’t find the words to tell them what really happened in India. Thankfully, her friend’s big brother gives her a place to heal and regroup. There’s only one problem: everything she does becomes his problem.

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By the end of his summer, Ryan will be in the best shape of his life. He’ll blow the competition away at hockey camp in September and earn a spot on a NHL team. He was well on his way to making his childhood dream come true when he let his little sister’s friend move in for a few weeks until he finds a more permanent roommate. He had expected a quite incense burning  yoga-loving vegetarian. He got an undisciplined overly dramatic Netflix binger.

His life is like boot camp. Her life is like a Bollywood movie. To call this summer a success, they would have to survive each other.

Definitely a lighter and more romantic plot than my usual trauma surviving dysfunctional family stories.

So how does Book 4 sound? Let me know because you’re the reader.

International Women’s Day

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Before I get to the topic of the day, I have a couple of announcements. First, I finished revising Covers and sent it to an editor. I’m looking forward to reading that professional opinion because I’m tapped out. I gave everything I had and now it’s time for new eyes to look at the story.

Masks - 3D

Second is a surprise I’ve been working on for a bit. The first story in the True Hearts Series, Masks: A Novella, has been freshened up with new editing and a new cover. I’m also making it available in print format for the first time ever. I’ll keep you updated as these changes are implemented.

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Although it has been observed since 1911, there are way too many people who are unaware that March 8 is International Women’s Day. So take a moment today to call, Tweet, post or email the women in your lives and remind them that they are valued.

Happy International Women’s Day ladies!

 

Sleepless Under The Super Snow Moon

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Saturday night after bouncing on trampolines for an hour, my daughter and I were walking to our car. A perfect white globe hung in the early evening sky. “Look at that!” I said. “Isn’t that moon beautiful?” I stood still to admire it, in awe of nature, the power of creation,  and God.

Although I was tired that night, I was up until 2 AM that night unable to fall asleep. 3 AM Sunday night. And 3 AM on Monday night despite having taken 5 mg of melatonin.  It didn’t occur to me until I was tossing and turning last night that there was a full moon this week. No wonder I haven’t been able to fall asleep.

This morning I came across an article about the Super Snow Moon. Snow Moon is a nickname given to the full moon in February because it tends to be the snowiest month in the northern parts of the northern hemisphere. This February, the moon also happens to be a Supermoon. It is only 221,734 miles from Earth.

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For those who don’t believe that the full moon affects anything beyond the oceans, ask anyone who works nightshift. In the days when I was a rail traffic controller, there was nothing I didn’t expect on a nightshift when there was a full moon week. The worst night might be the night of the actual full moon, but the couple of nights building to it and the couple of nights after it shine plenty of havoc upon Earth. Accidents, injuries, natural disasters, fires, trespassers, derailments were all possibilities. Well-thought out plans that had been executed a hundred times before fell apart like dollar store shoes in a rain puddle. Most of us understood and rolled with it, confident we didn’t have it as bad as the police or the hospital emergency rooms on those nights. We might have cackled insanely, howled or cried because of that full moon but we couldn’t fight it.

I’ll tell you something else. I’d sleep like a baby after those crazy shifts because I slept during the day. And right now, I want nothing more but for that perfect white globe to wane so I can get some sleep. I’m pretty sure I’m not the only one who is acting out Sleepless Under The Super Snow Moon this week. I suggest we take a nap this afternoon. How does 3 PM sound?

How does the full moon affect you? What crazy experiences have you had under the full moon? I love hearing from you. Leave a comment.

Make A Friend Day

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February 11 is Make A Friend Day. How cool is that? I’m serious. Where are you reading this post right now? The bus/ metro/taxi, a coffee shop/juice bar/gym, in the car/waiting room/porch while your child/friend/parent finishes a piano lesson/taking a shower/chatting with the neighbor? Is there someone you can approach in your vicinity? Someone you’ve been meaning to approach, but have been too busy or don’t know how ? How busy can you be that you can’t take the time to say, “Hi, I’m Catherine. We always end up in the same elevator in the morning. I thought it might be nice to introduce ourselves.” Once the possible awkwardness passes, you’ll probably get a laugh and “It is nice! I’m Jess and I’ve been meaning to tell you that I love your new haircut!”

Yup, it’s happened to me and it can happen to you. Just slap on a smile, walk through the coals of fear of rejection, and be your friendly self.

Human beings are social animals. We are meant to live together: couple, family, clan. A newborn child cannot survive on its own. From the day we are born, we seek to be understood and so we learn to  interact with others and form relationships. As babies, we communicated with cries and giggles, as small children with hand signals and single words, as teenagers with appearance and actions, as adults with hopefully well-thought out words. We are constantly learning to be with others and to be ourselves. From the beginning, we seek connection and belonging.

So how is it that the one-person household is rising around the world? In developed countries, solo living ranges from the mid-20% to just over 40%. In developing countries, the statistics show about 5%-15%. According to demographers, the numbers will continue to grow. They suggest financial independence, fewer children, changing cultural/religious views on marriage are some of the contributing factors. A good thing then that some created Make A Friend Day.

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4 Benefits of friendship

  • People with friends and family handle stress better, therefore feel more at peace which allows them to be healthier.
  • People with friends take better care of themselves which points to having higher self-esteem. Meaning: they feel more in control of their lives.
  • Sharing with friends implies trust and alleviates loneliness. This increases a sense of belonging.
  • Two other benefits of sharing are a more grounded perspective toward problems and the ability to ask for a trusted opinion.
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4 Ways to make new friends

  • Pursue your interests. Volunteer. Join a sports team, a book club, a cooking class. These place you amongst like-minded people. The interaction that comes from participating will help you discover who would make a good fit for you. Or, you could do what I do: smile and say hello to everyone. In time (and it will come fairly early on), the group will separate into two: those who step closer and converse and those who politely reply while making minimal eye contact then quickly move away.
  • Online groups are another way to make friends, if you are active in a group. Whether it’s photography, writing, or politics, the more exchanges, the more we get to know how people think and feel, where they are from, and their day-to-day lives.
  • Surrounded by people, but don’t know them? Try approaching someone with the elevator conversation above.
  • Whether you are in university or working full-time, networking events abound. I’ve always had a hard time with them. I want to pick the right person to talk to. I want to say the right thing. I want to see understanding in their eyes. I want to impress. The pressure of that single opportunity either keeps me at home or in a corner, where no one except the guy who thinks he’s funny, gravitates to. An entrepreneur told me about her brilliant strategy. (Thank you Chantal.) She forces herself to go and allows herself to leave after speaking/delivering two business cards. That’s it! How easy is that? I can totally speak. As long as I’m on topic, I don’t have to be terrific. The business card serves as an ice breaker and avoids all that messing around with the phone’s contact list.

Remember true friendship takes time and commitment. Don’t freak out because I didn’t say marriage with kids and in-laws. So, coffee or a meal once in a while, a text or call on a birthday, a card at the holidays, a visit when your friend is sick, an invitation to an event of shared interest. And share and listen, listen and share, share and listen, listen and share, etc. Those are the little things that allow care, respect, trust, loyalty to grow.

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4 Quotes on friendship

  • “There are no strangers in the world, just friends you have never met.” –W.B. Yeats
  • “Friends are those rare people who ask how we are and then wait to hear the answer.” —Ed Cunningham
  • “One of the most beautiful qualities of true friendship is to understand and to be understood.” —Seneca
  • “Remember: No one’s more important than people! In other words, friendship is the most important thing–not career or housework, or one’s fatigue–and it needs to be tended and nurtured.” —Julia Child

Happy Make A Friend Day!

Who will you approach on February 11? How do you make new friends? Have you ever tried to make a friend and it backfired? Do you have a friendship that surprises you? Tell me about! I love hearing from you. Leave a comment