Monday, 10 February 2014

Christmas Goodies....or Maybe I'm a Bad Person

Merry Christmas Everyone!

I hope Santa wedged his way down your chimney or hauled his butt through your front door to bring you all that you wished to receive this year.  I can't say that I could have wished for any more (realistically anyway) or that I would have been "happier" if the jolly fat man had brought more stuff into my world.

I really do (sometimes) like Christmas.  There are times (like this year) where I wished the earth would swallow me whole and swoop me away to a magical place that was HOLIDAY FREE.  Just a few days, was it really too much to ask?  Apparently the answer is YES.

You see it's not Christmas I dislike per se, it is the commercialism, perceived gluttony, greed and oh-so-many mixed messages that we are bombarded with once the USA's Black Friday has come and gone.

Let me start with the commercials.  The suits on Madison Avenue or wherever the f$*%&$ the advertising mecca is in Canada have turned every stinking product known to man into a possible acceptable Christmas gift for your loved ones.  One of my friends (oh so rightly) noted early in December the happy woman on the front of the Crappy Tire flyer that was getting the pots and pans.  WTF?  If you like sleeping on the couch, by all means, buy her this gift.  And who, really who gets a Lexus, Honda, Toyota or Cadillac for Christmas?  And are you really happy that your spouse cleaned out the bank account or your credit for that gift?  Come on people.

Then there are the commercials that tug at your heart strings.  What, exactly, are they supposed to make you think about?  Are we all supposed to strive for the perfect, snowy, warm glow of the fire, ugly sweater family gathering where everyone is smiling?  OK...what if that's not your particular family?  Everyone is there, Uncle Joe is drunk and is telling everyone how he feels about them, Aunt June is in to corner apologizing, the kids are unhappy because Dad is hogging the video game and nobody is helping mom with the dinner.  So, have we failed because our Christmas Day does not look like the commercials?  I don't think so, but I am only one woman, a cynical one at that.  And, if life is not being particularly kind to you at this "most wonderful time of the year" can you get through the commercials, stories and sickly sweet vignettes without hucking something at the TV?  Really, give me a break.

Then there is all the advice about how to "survive" the holiday parties.  Why the heck are we so focused on deprivation at this time of year?  It doesn't make any sense whatsofrickinever to me.  The magazines, TV news shows and HGTV are all loaded with holiday recipes and ideas and a few pages or few minutes later we are bombarded with how to work off those unwanted holiday pounds.  Better yet we are warned how much we are going to over-indulge at all of those holiday parties and the anchors and "special guests" are all so excited about telling us how to "get through" a holiday party and avoid the before you go, drink water, only eat the vegetables etc etc etc.  The worst part of the whole thing is, if you have partied like this (and let's be clear, we all know someone who has) you have to tell EVERYONE how you got through last night's party only eating a celery stalk and drinking lemon water.  Well weren't you the best guest ever.  Bet you were standing alone, miserable and self righteous.  Life of the party!  Go, have fun and if you are able and something strikes your fancy, try it!  You are not going to spontaneously combust by eating a butter tart.  Eating 20, maybe...but that's another blog.  Balance people, we need balance.

I work in fitness.  So I was really interested in checking out my Facebook news feed this week as Christmas Day came and went.  It seemed like so many people were punishing themselves (or at least telling us about it) for one day of indulgence.  Talking about going to the gym or lifting is one thing.  Saying you are out the door first thing to "work off all the christmas baking" is something else entirely.  Again, balance.  One of the things we talk about a lot in fitness is how it's not what happens the week between Christmas and New Years that's the problem.  It's the other 51 weeks that happened that year.  Think about it for awhile....I'll wait.

Anyway, after a craptastic year Christmas came and went.  We had an amazing time with family ranging in age from 20 to 90.  We ate all day long (grazed really) on food my sister-in-law sacrificed her finger for, drank a little too much and laughed more than a family should.  We ended Christmas Day with a pyjama party that rocked.  Too many people for the house and two dogs that think they are people rounded out the mix.  We also had a visit from young men who are their neighbours that proved to us that disabilities are incorrectly named.  They were inspirational and showed us more about what Christmas is really about.  Family, friends, neighbours and giving.  I wouldn't have had it any other way.

Did Santa come?  Yes he did.  Did he leave a Lexus or a new house?  Thankfully no.  We received ENOUGH.

Pink Shirt Day is Coming...My experience

It's Monday and here in BC it's a new holiday called Family Day.  Or its kind of a holiday.  Depends on who you are talking to.  The provincial government didn't really think this one through.  For me it means I get to catch up on paperwork and focus on getting shit done without the normal everyday weekday interruptions.

Every day I step out of my comfort zone.  I have learned over the past few years not to think of it like that.  But it's true.  I spend so much of my day doing things that even a few years ago would have made me sick to my stomach for days prior.

I can remember being that terrified girl trying to walk into a gym, any gym.  Now I teach several different classes where people look to me to show them what to do.  I can remember when I took my motorcycle driver's license exam being so nervous because the examiner was going to critique my riding.  It was something physical that someone was going to judge.  SCARY.

For most people that's not a big deal.  For me it's HUGE!  In my business and in my life I acknowledge that I am "different".  I do believe it's a good thing.  I don't look totally like the TV version of a Personal Trainer.  I don't seek the "typical" personal training client.  That's ok - not everybody wants that.  Being "different" however has its drawbacks.

When I was a little girl I was different.  Not only was I adopted I was FAT.  That statement sums a lot up for me.  I was teased relentlessly.  Now at 51 years old I can recognize what happened as actual bullying.  Back in the day however it wasn't recognized the way it is today.  It wasn't only the kids in school although some were awful.  It existed within my own family.  It was inescapable.  Being called whale, whaler-taylor lasted all through high school.  Snide comments by kids about my weight or my abilities were daily occurrences.  From my family sometimes it was worse.  I won't name names...but as a child being called Mama Cass over and over to walking into a room meeting family for the first time hearing "look at the size of her" to even as a fully grown adult having my elder family members feel it appropriate to comment directly to me about my weight - not in a helpful way.      I learned really quickly to make fun of myself.  I wasn't going to wait for someone to hurt me.  I was going to make fun of myself before you could.  Classic get them before they get me.

In a previous workplace I experienced the teasing as well.  One time at a convention in Toronto a group of "cool" coworkers called my room at 4am to tell me that my reservation to return home had been changed.  I could have missed my flight had I listened.   I will say that the ringleader of this group called me about 10 years after this happened to apologize - it had bothered her all those years.

Consequently I don't like being teased.  I don't handle it well - even in the most benign forms.  I don't like balloons even.  I don't like surprises - they actually terrify me.  I spent weeks convincing my husband that he should NOT throw me a surprise party when I turned 50.  I pleaded with him.  I'm truly lucky he understands this part of me and supports me.

One of the offshoots or byproducts of my past is that I have a terrible time asking for help of any kind.  I will try everything I can think of to solve a problem or make something happen before I will look for assistance.  It drives my husband nuts.  Asking for help in the past at times has resulted in more bullying and teasing so I would rather not.  Most recently asking for help resulted in my being mocked in a very public forum.  I'm not sure the person that mocked me even understood that was what she was doing and the impact it had on my personally and professionally.

So, why am I telling you this?  A couple of reasons.  By sharing my experiences perhaps someone might think twice about the way they interact with someone else.  We might not realize that the words we are using hurt so much.  Even though one person might be laughing on the outside.  On the inside it's a different story.

The other reason is that Pink Shirt Day is coming up toward the end of February.  You can bet that I will be wearing pink to support people that are experiencing bullying in their lives.  We need to make it stop.

Let's take a stand.  May your words be used to heal, uplift and support.