Tuesday, April 22, 2014

I probably shouldn't post this but...

Some days it feels like I am a sort of incompetent circus performer.  One missed exchange with a sweaty sequin-clad Eastern-Eurpoean from falling into a net, which with my sort of luck, was not attached properly, smashing epically into the ground, not hard enough to be fatal, or even newsworthy, but more embarrassing.  Like the time I got slow clapped out of the riding show arena, derby full of dirt and shavings, horse caught by the ring steward, pride eternally broken. 

But, most days that sweaty European with too much body hair for any sort of one-piece spandex outfit, catches me. 

Sometimes the catch is a little more heart pounding than others, and some days I could basically do the entire act by myself.  And sometimes, I get audience feedback about this ‘life’ I’ve put out for public consumption. 

I have been told a few times in the last week something I found both interesting and totally bizarre.  Interesting because it’s all about me, but also bizarre because of what these observers told me.

WHY do I think I’m average??  Who told me I was washed-up, a has-been, barely surviving this good life that I have made for myself.

Um, well, you see to answer that question is a little awkward for me.

Because well, I think it was the first, second and fourth voices in my head the informed me I am quite boring.  The third is usually pretty optimistic about what I am trying to do. 

Then I pondered this more, in part through a hot yoga class that was so sizzling I actually thought I had was in the life reflection stage of dying, when I realized that perhaps, just maybe, normal people don’t have these many narrative voices running through their heads convincing them of their inadequacies and questioning their every move.

But then I remembered the time Ekhart Tolle once asked me a life altering question (in his book.  Not personally.  But that would be cool). Who hears the voice talking in your head?  If there is a speaker, and a listener, that means RIGHT THERE that’s two sub-conscious narrative threads swirling around EVERYONE’S heads.

Now, mine is more of a quorum.  Let’s imagine it as more like parliament, and less of a philosophical meeting of minds. 

Mine are usually observing, commenting, and critiquing everything I say, do, and think, often out of turn.  Sometimes I even begin to think about things I think other people are thinking.  That’s entirely too much thinking and narrative for one ombre-headed girl.

Do you guys remember when that weird little green alien in Flinstones had the good alien and the bad alien on his shoulders trying to tell him what to do? (Forgive me if that’s the wrong cartoon, or the wrong character but I’m too lazy and time-crunched to google it.)  The battle of good and evil, one teeny tiny devil on one shoulder, and one teeny tiny angel on your other shoulder, disputing the choices at hand.

Oh I took Freud and I know more scientifically about his ideas of ego and id… and I believe a lot of it.  There is the part of your mind that is all about you, being selfish and driven only be self-satisfaction, and the other side that has societal pressure and learned behaviours we have deemed ‘good’ that tries, and hopefully succeeds, in getting us to do the right thing. 

Science aside, I still like the idea about little characters duking it out above our heads.

It’s just that all my voices, or instincts, are as confused and self-critiquing as the dead space between them.

Instead I feel like I have Woody Allen, awkward and questioning on one shoulder, and Chelsea Handler drinking and belligerent, on the other.  Throw in a little self-doubting Tina Fey, a Disney princess or two who longs for romance, unicorns and happy endings, self-deprecating Conan O’Brien, Jessica Simpson’s astounding ability to say the world’s most asinine things, but somehow be intelligent enough to run a kabillion-dollar company, and I feel like you get the sense of the circus that is, Brittany’s mind.

Every day I run around with these voices and constant self-analyzing behaviour, and yet I’ve come to the conclusion that I am, in every part, absolutely normal.  (Are you amused that in once sentence I say ‘voices in my head’ and ‘absolutely normal’… I am.  Anyways before you decide to put me on some psychiatric hold, know that while I occasionally talk to these voices, I believe my mind and current mental state is mostly healthy.)

What this long and drawn-out, possibly TMI post is saying is that we all, in one way or another, deem what we do and how we behave to be totally unremarkable. (Well, except THOSE people.  You know the ones that really are unremarkable, yet see themselves as ‘special’.)  And that despite constant self-analyzing and periods of paralyzing self-doubt that bring us back down to the consensus that we are average, we are, each one of us, beautifully diverse and different.  And that attaining this ‘average’ I have put out in the universe, I feel a rather profoundly positive connotation about average.

What I’m saying is that sometimes it is too hard to see ourselves through the lense of a non-partisan viewer.  Not a friend, or a family member, but someone who was just to meet you right now.

What would they say?

And what about your friends.  In my circus of a life, my good friends are the net-attacher-maker-surer.  They are there when I need them, to have a few drinks with, to talk politics and religion (oh yes, I go there.  At my house prepare to talk all of the taboo topics.  Whilst eating and drinking copiously.  It gets loud and dare I say, fantastically entertaining)  Anyways, what would they say about you when describing you to someone else?

What about the person you see the most.. who you expel the deepest parts of yourself to?  Mine is my husband, who despite seeing me bat-shit crazy on occasion, (ahem, three times post-partum sleep-deprived) in my circus is that guy that swings in to ensure I don’t hit the net.  Time and time again, just when I wonder if he’ll really catch me, VOILA there he swings, though not actually in sequins OR spandex.

What I realized during my near death experience right before final savasanna, is that a life lived right, surrounded by neat, interesting and diverse people, will warrant you friends and a safety netting that sees you as so much more than a boring, totally un-exciting person in this world.

Because if they did, first of all they would be REAL ‘richards’ in my books, but secondly they wouldn’t stick around to see what self-inflicted chaos you have cooked up next. 

Or maybe that’s just my friends.  Other average guys and girls.  Who battle voices, and struggle with demons and obstacles in their lives, but every day, do their part in their own circus to make the catch.  Who in their lives lived honestly, have shone a light on the spectacular average people out there.

Well, the lion is rattling his cage, the trick elephants are hungry, and there are at least four narratives in my head saying I maybe shouldn’t post this in case most people don’t get it.  BUT, I’m gonna go with this one and just hit ‘publish’.

After all, if I wasn’t honest, I wouldn’t be average. ;)

Most of the circus animals and their sometimes incompetent ring leader. 

Thursday, April 10, 2014


I’m so much more than a number on a scale. 
But despite my abilities, and my talents, and heck even my brain (what’s left of it after three kids), I cannot seem to summit that forever looming mountain of self-doubt. 
This morning’s latest culprit was the scale.  I’ve been trying to lose weight, and while I am so close to being where I want, today that stagnant number, perhaps mixed with the dreary sky, was enough to send me on the prowl.  Like a lion on the Serengeti I began stalking my prey.
Anything with high -fructose, refined carbs, high-sugar… I was ready to pounce.

Until I stopped myself. 

Because... I remembered the definition of crazy.

Doing the same thing over and over again expecting a different result.
Well my friends, I am officially crazy.
In the last 8 years I have lost and gained a total of 300 LBS!!! I have gained, and subsequently lost, nearly fifty pounds which each pregnancy.  Every time I got pregnant, I swore up and down I wouldn’t gain the pregnancy weight again.  Well, I did.  Three times.

Now here I sit, at the end of the pregnancy/post-partum cycle of my life.  I plan, as long as my husband’s  day off with frozen peas worked, to not ever be pregnant again.  So this time I have all the incentive and all the gusto to go for it.  To settle down and find that button called maintenance that I have never achieved.
My entire life I have been gaining or losing weight.  It’s exhausting really.  Never a satisfied way of thinking about my body, or the scale, or how my pants fit.  The moments I got down to the smallest I ever was, (unhealthily I might add.  Starvation works wonders) it still wasn’t enough. 
Constantly worrying about my weight and my appearance has taken up way too much of my life.
Now here is where I’d love to post a picture of my near-naked body to show everyone just how proud I am, but I’m not there yet.  I’m not at a point where anything but skillful body positioning and Instagram filters will be done away with.

And it makes me sad, and scared too, because I’m raising a daughter.  I can teach her to read, and to write, simple math (let’s be honest here…), world history, how to curl her hair and paint her nails, but right now I am certainly not in any position to teach anyone about self-confidence.  And if my daughter doesn’t learn that from me, organically, from watching and emulating, how in this size-obsessed culture will she ever learn it?
Now, my daughter is beautiful.  But, I can see already that she is likely built like me.  Not skinny, but not fat either.  Somewhere in the gray area that haunts many women my size.  Not quite the perfect size 6, but not big enough to be plus sized either.

Average.  (Heck, that’s what this whole blog is about!!) 

I’m so tired of being preoccupied with how things are fitting me while I am swimming with my kids, or at the park, or at the mall.  I’m always sure someone, somewhere, is lurking to take a pictures of me, add that black bar over my eyes, and put me front and center in one of those “How NOT to wear a trend” pages in a magazine.
Then I watched my daughter imitate me when she thought no one was looking.  She stood in front of my full length mirror and looked at herself, fiddled with her pants and her shirt and spun around to look at the back of herself, and it was at that exact moment that I panicked.

She hasn’t picked up on the other stuff.. yet.  But she’s pretty close.  The urgency had arrived.  I need to continue this exhaustingly long, and emotional battle to the top before she starts imitating the “I feel fat”s and the “I feel like a sausage”, or going on a ‘diet’ after overhearing my girlfriends and I talk about whatever low-carb, high protein, vegan, paleo, non-dairy, bullshit we are currently putting ourselves through.
And I also know I can’t do it alone.

My best friend is also the mother of a daughter.  As a woman that has always struggled with her weight, and the mother of a little girl, she has always been cognisant of her attitude and word-choice regarding weight.  Never was there talk of being ‘fat’ or ‘diets’.  Only eating healthy and working out.  Now, this woman has run multiple marathons and continues to be very active, and in my opinion, very healthy.  She is also not a size 6, or 8.. maybe not even a 10.  But who cares, right? What a better role model to have as a mother than her?? She runs MARATHONS people.  But, it wasn’t enough.
One beautiful spring day, she found her seven year old in tears, on the floor of her bedroom, saying “I’m fat".  My friend had  told her daughter that she could wear shorts to school, it was finally nice enough after a long winter.  A few tight pairs from last year later, combined with a class full of string-bean girls, this seven year old CHILD did not want to go to school because SHE WAS FAT.

I hope that broke every woman’s heart as much as it did mine when my friend called and told me.  Despite everything she could do as her mother and biggest influence, the other girls at school did know about ‘fat’ and ‘diets’.  They also knew that to be beautiful you must be skinny.
The realization hit me with every one of those 300 pounds I gained and fought  hard to lose. 

It’s not just us moms of daughters that need to help this next generation of beautiful little girls, it’s us aunts, and family friends, grandmas, dads, grandpas, sisters, brothers… everyone.
We will not raise self-confident women, who we can send into the world to face any obstacle or barrier until we all, everyone who means anything to a little girl, begin to see and speak to these little girls as more than simply aspiring to be stereotypically beautiful, and thin.

We need to band together, as a collective and remind our friend’s daughters, or our niece, or any little girl we come into contact with that being healthy is beautiful, and being beautiful means so much more than what you look like.

Because you never know when one remark can stick with a little girl.  I know I will never, ever forget being 4 years old, and having an adult come over at my dance pictures, to remark how thin and beautiful my sister was, only to pat my head, and say “Oh and Brittany.  She’s so cute and plump”.  And a co-worker of mine, who still remembers being crushed as an overweight 8 year old, when her teenaged neighbour, out of misplaced ‘kindness’, offered to pay her $50 to lose weight. 
And as mothers we are trying, really trying, in this over-sexed over-indulged society, to raise little girls who are brilliant and confident and beautiful because of who they are. 

But we need your help.

Please be our silent partner in this mission. 

Please remind our daughters, even when we aren’t there, that they are so much more than a number.    

And you know what, maybe remind their mothers, too.