Fat and Not Afraid

Respect and love are for EVERY body.

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Rebirth Through Compassion

August 22, 2015

I'm fond of the saying "Kindness costs me nothing." Kindness, compassion, empathy; these aren't new concepts to me but they're things I'm trying so much harder to implement on a daily basis. For a long time I was an angry person, growing bitter from the experiences of my life and stewing in my own juices thanks to a lack of options. Earlier this year I realized I could continue to grow hard and bitter - become a rock instead of just having a rocky exterior, or I could be clay and adapt to my life. As I wrote lately, we've harvested the fruit of that decision already, having moved into our new apartment. We've been here almost 2 full weeks now.

This is Kwan Yin, the Goddess of Compassion. She's sometimes called a Buddha but that's not technically true as she denied herself complete enlightenment in order to stay on earth and answer everything's pleas for mercy or help. While setting up a home altar for the first time in two years I pulled her card as the goddess I needed to listen too the most, who would call me to Serve if she saw fit. Ok then! The first thing I know I need to do is forgive myself for the bad choices that have led us to where we are; not going to Kitchener was a big mistake, and staying in the Soo the following year was too. Hindsight is 20/20 and all that, but I should never let comfort or fear make my decisions for me. I've done that far too much in the past and if I continue to do so I wont have anything to look back on but regrets.


First Harvest - Lughnassad

August 2, 2015

After two years of living here at my inlaws we finally shifted most of our things from the storage unit to our new apartment. It's been a long journey; four years ago we left the Soo and moved to Nanaimo, and a year and a half after that, to Victoria, then back to the Soo, with our things still in BC for a year, then in storage for another one. Last year we thought we were moving into our own place and it was kiboshed at the last possible second by the people we were working for. So we spent another six months spinning our wheels unsure where to go or what to do.

I'm ready for a new normal, for a new routine and the way sunlight plays on the walls. I'm ready for coffee freshly ground made in my wee one cup coffee maker. I'm ready for a queen sized bed and my own room, for friends over for games or a movie. I'm sure my inlaws are ready for quiet evenings and having their entire house back! It hasn't always been easy sharing this space but we did it and everyone's still alive, so that's something. *wink*

It's harvest time, time to taste the first fruits of the past year's labour; we started saving up for the apartment and pay off our debt during the cold winter months and now we have a place of our own. It's such a dream come true. We owe such a debt of thanks to our parents for giving us the space and time to get our feet under us, I can't even properly express it. It's harvest time! It's harvest time! IT'S HARVEST TIME!



Becoming - Mother's Day

May 10, 2015

Tomorrow is Mother's Day, a day rooted in peace activism, but commercialized beyond recognition. Gabe was upset he didn't win me a cake at school on Friday and I told him that was fine, if he never bought me a single thing for Mother's Day, only remembered to come by or phone and say hi, I'd be ok with that. He was relieved. At not even nine years old he's already feeling the pressure of capitalism which pisses me off as you can imagine.

I used to want a lot of recognition on Mother's Day. Motherhood hasn't come easily to me; for a long time I didn't even know if I wanted kids (Gabe was a happy-ish accident) while Ryan knew forever he wanted to be a dad. Gabe and I's relationship got off on the wrong foot, to put it lightly. Flowers and a nice card, a quiet day, a pat on the back, some recognition for all the work I've done, and do, as Mom, isn't unwelcome, it's just not necessary any more. As a parent I'm doing a good job; my kids are happy, well adjusted and for the most part, polite. They know they are loved not just by their parents, but by their grandparents and aunts and uncles as well. Every day isn't ice cream and sprinkles but I keep trying to put into practise all of the things I've learned over the years on how to be the best mom I can, building on the foundation my mom laid for me, Leslie's shored up, and countless internet moms and science have expanded.

From my mom I learned to always tuck your kids in at night no matter how old they are, to take the time to check in and listen, to give them space to talk or just be with you. Leave the light on at night to guide them home. She is a model for knowing how to pick your battles, though there are a few I wish she'd fought a little harder. From her I get my no-nonsense attitude in a crisis and first aid skills, such as they are, and 'keep your head down and mouth shut' tendancies (which I tend to ignore when I probably shouldn't). My mom shows she cares by feeding us, tidying and taking care of my kids, and slipping me money my dad doesn't know about for little things I want or need. She may not always understand me but she's always supported me in the ways she can. It's not her way to make things easy for me or do for me things her mother never did. Both my parents have raised me with a very 'take care of yourself' focus and I think it's served me well in a lot of ways, and hindered me in others. I hope to temper this with my own kids.

Leslie has added her incredible generosity to the mix, showing me over and over there is nothing a parent wouldn't do for their kid. Seriously, the amount she has helped us out over the years would be embarassing to post. Throw in a sometimes overwhelming fierceness in protecting her famlily and you realize that woman is a tiger. Don't mess with her cubs.

Thanks to the internet I've been allowed to follow the journey of a few special moms and dads in intimate detail, from the woman at The Progressive Parent who lost her little boy Patrick to SUDC, to the hilarious dudes who run How to Be A Dad.com and their growing families. Evolutionary Parenting and The Feminist Breeder keep posting up the articles I need to practise patience, compassion and patience some more with myself and my kids, rooting their pieces in the latest science around child development. It helps me to know that my kid's brains are still building themselves, to remind myself that they're not just little adults in smaller bodies who just need instruction on how to be proper grownups.

I'm working this Mother's Day so here's to all the moms out there who are putting in the time, effort, blood, sweat and tears to do it as well as they can with what they have. For those of you who may be having a hard time with Mother's Day, being estranged from your mom or mourning her passing, I hope you get a chance to practise self-care today. Be kind to you.

Another Murder-Suicide

April 26, 2015

I was unsurprised earlier this week to read a headline at the Huffington Post Canada site that a man in Saskatchewan had murdered his girlfriend LaTasha Gosling and three of four of their kids. Completely and utterly unsurprised. Violence against women and children is an epidemic on my planet so these headlines no longer surprise me. I barely even get angry any more when I see the faces of the victims in the news. I mean, it's not like women aren't raped or murdered by their partners or someone known to them, in every country, at every socioeconomic level, every day. Every day. It's just another day for us; it's getting too easy to read the headlines and say "I'm just glad it wasn't me".

transfeminist rainbow first

Before any of the details of the relationship between the victims and their murderer was released I called it; "Let me guess", I said in HuffPo comment on the original story, "they recently broke up, and in a rage of 'If I can't have you, noone can!' idiocy, the coward in question murdered his girlfriend and her three children from the previous marriage, then killed himself." I did call it. It was later revealed by a friend of LaTasha's that indeed, she and the murderer had broken up a few days earlier, at LaTasha's insistence. He not only killed her and her kids, but took photos of their bodies and sent them via text to the cell of LaTasha's ex and the children's father. This didnt' surprise me either, honestly. It's sick and twisted but it's also perfectly in tune with a guy who would murder four people, three of them under the age of ten, because of a break up.What a selfish, entitled asshole.

The only surprise in this whole thing was for me that he spared the baby, a six month old girl, and drove her 130km away from the scene to leave her with someone else before he killed himself in that person's home. I guess blood IS thicker than water. That wee child is an orphan now, but thankfully too young to remember any of the carnage.

To be honest I'm not even sure why I wanted to write about this. Maybe I just wanted to point out that even in Canada, a country with such a good reputation, shit like this still happens. It happens a lot more if you're a First Nations woman, or poor, or a person of colour. I think also I don't want that family to be forgotten. It's only been three days since the story broke but it took me nearly five minutes of searching the CBC website to find an article to refresh my memory. The ache of loss, the horror of it, will resonate within LaTasha's family and friends for the rest of their life.

Things like this shouldn't be so common place that I can scroll past them without bothering to read it, knowing already what's inside; the same dark tale told a hundred thousand times and always written in blood.

LaTasha Gosling, 27.

Her children include two girls, Janyaa, 4, and Jenika, 8, and a boy, Landen, 7.

May they rest in peace, and may their killer recieve the punishment he deserves in the Afterlife, whatever that may be.


April 20, 2015

It's been nine months since we decided to try and make a go of it in the Soo, to work with Skyline at their apartments, build friendships, strengthen family ties and soak up the North instead of going back to Vancouver Island. Skyline dumped us a month before Christmas and we spent the winter at my inlaw's again, dreaming of spring. Some friendships have faded, some have grown, and family is more family than ever. The last year and a half has been a bitter pill but it's also taught me so much about compassion and empathy, communication, gratitude, and grace. Trying to handle this ongoing situation with grace hasn't always been easy, or even possible, but I'm learning. The nine months leading up to creating a new person isn't easy, but it shouldn't be. Stripping away the layers of accumulated damage and debris is work. Delving deep into who I am and who I want to be, and becoming that person, is work. Grace carries me.

Grace keeps me from resenting my situation and allows instead for being thankful for what I do have.

Grace keeps a (mostly) civil tongue in my head during frustrating situations, or helps me to say nothing at all.

Grace asks "Is it kind? Is it true? Is it needed?" before speaking. Or at least it tries. I'm no angel.

Grace reminds me to say 'thank you' as often as possible to those who deserve to hear it, and they are legion. So many people are helping us get our feet back under us, helping with the kids, but especial thanks go as always to my inlaws. We might get under each other's skin now and then but at the end of the day I know they've got my back.

Grace lets me pour my heart out to those who need to hear it when I need to say it and creates true understanding and connection with no room for misunderstanding.

I don't have the spoons for a lot these days, but with a tentative plan in place for finally for real moving out on our own for this fall, I dare to dream of things again.


Lipstick and Lies

October 11, 2014

Have you ever had a reaction to something someone did or said that was so strong it surprised you? Not a trigger, that's not what I'm talking about, but a gut reaction of NOPE that blindsided you? That happened to me Friday morning while trying to get the four of us out the door to our various destinations. Kat was playing with her crayons, picked one up, rubbed it across her lips and said "Look mom! Wipstick! I beautiful." Wait, what? In that moment between thinking and speaking there was room for a lot because the human brain is a marvelous computer. I know my jaw dropped, then clenched. Thinking back on it now I get tense across the shoulders and my hands want to make fists. What am I angry at?  Whoever it was who said "Here, try this!" instead of "Not for babies" when she was showing interest in make-up. Y'know, 'cause she's TWO.

I didn't waste my breath with "Oh Katherine, you're far too young to begin buying into the beauty myths and garbage societal expecations for your gender! You have been and will always be beautiful without any help at all from any make-up! It's just a collection of toxic colours that will poison your body and weaken your confidence. You don't need it. Noone needs it. "

What I said was "Kat, you are beautiful without lipstick. It's not for babies." She tried again, making a kissing sound this time, and I said no, it wasn't for her, and why didn't she draw with the crayon instead? Distracted, I won for a time. For now. A few minutes or maybe months more of breathing room in the ongoing battle to keep my daughter from becoming...something.

I wasn't expecting to have to worry about this so soon. I wasn't expecting people close to me to tell me to calm down and that I was being ridiculous for being upset about it. I'm sorry (I'm not) but she's my daughter, and she's TWO, and I feel that I'd be doing her a disservice if I blindly allowed her to just fall into current gender roles and expectations. Make-up's purpose is to a) make money for companies off of women's (commercially created) low self-confidence/esteem and b) uphold the dangerous notion that women are sexually available at all times. We can tell ourselves all we want that 'I do it for me, because *I* like it" or "It's just a part of my daily routine" or whatever, but unless you've actually taken the time to sit yourself down and analyze why exactly you wear the stuff, and for who and be honest with yourself, I'm going to say no, it's very likely you're not wearing it for  yourself, you're wearing it for the people around you; your boss and/or coworkers because it's expected of you in order to be seen as professional, for your partner because you want to look 'nice' for them, like you 'tried', and just because hey, women wear make-up, even for something as simple as a trip to the store for a loaf of bread. Our bodies are seen as public property, to be commented on and critiqued by complete strangers, on a daily basis. Women have a very fine line to walk between wearing enough make-up, and not enough, and for heaven's sake it had better look natural, like we didn't even try, or the illusion is ruined.

Katherine is two. She is, IMO, far too young to be thinking about playing around with make-up of any kind. Ryan agrees with me and will be helping me to discourage her from this particular imaginary play for a while. We understand that it's likely inevitable and that prohibiting it will only make it seem even more desirable, so an outright ban isn't feasible. We are hoping that friends and family will help us out and also not play along, and continue to compliment and encourage both our kids on things that have nothing to do with their physical appearance. If Kat grows up to be the most feminine of women, that's fine by me as long it's a conscious choice and not how she feels she *has* to be. The same goes for Gabe; there's more to being a man than big muscles. To quote another mommy-blogger, "I really have no desire to add to the messages she will be inundated with her entire female life, that makeup makes you look better, prettier, sexier, and that is what women do."



Two? Two?! TWO!?

August 21, 2014

Two years ago today Katherine was born via cesearan in a BC hospital. Her delivery was fraught, my recovery slow, but other than that little bump at the beginning the last two years have been AMAZING. She is the sunniest toddler in the 'verse (and I can say that 'cause I'm her mom and it's her birthday!) and I truly never ever thought I could love like this. I am grateful to have been given the opportunity. Sure, it's not sunshine and roses every second of every day but it never is so I dont' expect it to be. She's almost potty trained, speaking in 3-5 word sentences (though pronunciation and word placement still needs work), loves bunnies, Spiderman, trucks and Toopy and Binoo, playing outside and especially at the park on the swings, and car rides. Omg does this girl love car rides! Doesn't matter if it's to the beach or to just dropping me at work, her day isn't complete without a 'caw wide!' Sadly I work all day today so I wont see her much but I know she's going to have fun with her Auntie Melissa and other family.

Happiest of happy birthdays to you, my sunshine girl!



August 14, 2014

Ok, so I guess the Universe is never really done kicking anyone in the pants. A few days ago I found out a dear former professor and idol passed away from cancer. I hadn't spoken with her in a couple of years but I still feel her loss keenly. Dr. Alanna Bondar was a my introduction to feminist and Canadian literature greats like Margaret Atwood, and I credit her with beginning me on my path to actual critical thinking of the media I used to blindly injest. She introduced me to post-modernist analyzation of works and the Old White Guys club of literature, and when I began university she was a powerful symbol to me of what a woman could do. I remember one night very early on she introduced herself as "Doctor Bondar" and we should remember the Dr. part because she had worked very hard for it and it meant something to her. She wasn't "Ms" or "Mrs", she was Doctor. Alanna was the heart of our university's annual creative writing publication and our poetry night. She travelled and wrote a book and had not a few articles published in various feminist and eco-feminist publications. I looked up to her and always thought she'd be out there somewhere in the world, drinking wine, having conversations that sparkled, wearing ridiculously colourful outfits and absolutely refusing to settle down and be anything but her most authentic self. Her memorial will be sometime in November and I plan to attend regardless of whatever else life has in store.

Rest in peace, dear teacher. Or don't; I imagine the after life is an even brighter and more interesting place now that you're there, and there are some who could use a good conversation.

Then we lost Robin Williams. This stings. Every time I think about how I'll never get the chance to meet him, to tell him how much I love (most) of his work, I get a bit teary. But the worst is how much Robin always reminded me of the best of my dad. For me this has been a tiny insight into how much it will hurt when someday my own father dies. I am rarely, if ever, affected by celebrity deaths as I have no actual connection to them. Sure, I might like their shows or movies or know a little bit about their personal lives, but more than "Aw, that's too bad" doesn't happen. This time, however, it's very different. Ever time I see a picture of him, grey blue eyes sparkling with mirth and irreverence, hairy arms and short, broad torso in mid gesture, I am strongly reminded of my dad at his absolute best, and it just hurts. Thankfully, my dad is still here so I have (I hope) lots of time to tell him how much I love him and how much he means to me, but in the meantime I'm just avoiding the media circus as best I can around Robin's death.

And finally, because bad things tend to happen in threes, a part of my son's innocence was stolen from him at knife-point at the park on Monday. He and a friend went to play and a pair of bigger kids from his school were already there and somehow, none of us grownups is sure, one of the bigger kids ended up threatening Gabe with a knife. Gabe knows him from school and as far as we can figure out he was telling his friend to avoid the two bigger kids because he'd had problems with the one before. Gabe and his friend ran home and we had the police here Tuesday morning to speak with Gabe and the friend and figure out who had done the threatening and then go talk to that kid and his parents. While things seem to be resolved for now I'm planning on calling the school to advise them of what happened so they can keep an eye on that kid, and on the bus too (He takes Gabe's bus too and from school every day).

I don't know if I can express how angry I am that this happened to my son, my baby boy, in a place that should have been safe for him. It was the park. The park! It was two streets over, less if you take the forest path. He was with a friend. This should not have happened but it did and I'm at a loss. Don't get me wrong, I'm thankful that he's alright; things could have gone much worse, especially if the knife weilder had tried to hurt his friend, but I know that after Monday he's different. He knows that there are people out there who will hurt him for real, for no other reason that they can. I don't want to think what might have happened if he had been alone. He didnt' tell us about it himself because he was afraid the big kid would find out and hurt him. We had to find out about this from Gabe's friend's parents, who live across the street. My son has the biggest heart. He is a good person. He is a sweet, funny, caring boy. This should not have happened.

So I'm sad. And I'm angry. I don't know what to do with it, as usual. So I'm writing. Thanks for reading.



Life Goes On!

August 6, 2014

Hello everyone! Good news! Life is done kicking me in the pants (for now) and we're moving into our own place come the beginning of September. For a while there we thought we were going out West again but an opportunity came up here in the Sault we couldn't pass up, so here we are and  here we're staying. We'll see what happens in six years or so when a chunk of our debt is paid off.

In the meantime we have to try and get our stuff from storage in BC! Please help if you can by vising my Go Fund Me page and donating and/or sharing. Thanks for sticking by me during this dry spell. I'm looking forward to writing again and have thoughts on things I'd like to share with you. I just haven't had the oomph to get my butt infront of my keyboard with things how they've been, and did I mention I'm working full time now? No? Well I am. It's tiring but I think I'm doing ok. See you in less than 6 weeks!



In Defense of Feminism

June 21, 2014

Have I ever mentioned I don't like change? I hate it, and when I say hate I'm not being hyperbolic. I hate it. It is hard for me to change my mind even in the face of good data, but I *will* do so eventually. For example, the other night I was complaining about nuclear power and how the fall-out from Fukushima is giving Japanese kids thyroid cancer and can we PLEASE JUST STOP WITH THE NUCLEAR POWER NOW?! A friend pointed out that, pound for pound, nuclear power is cleaner than oil, gas or coal when it comes to producing energy. My counter-arguement was that nuclear's supposed cleanliness meant next to nothing when we have a melt-down. We're both right, but there's a bigger picture. The nuclear power industry is like the airline industry, an apt comparison Ryan came up with; when things go bad, they go very bad and a lot of people die, but most of the time it's going along just fine and is very very safe. Over the years there have been only four major nuclear accidents. How many major oil spills have there been? Gas leaks? Mountains leveled for coal? Pits dug for crude? It's disgusting. So my perspective has changed somewhat on nuclear power.

This brings me to the last month and some, and some big changes that happened around me. Very long story short, a dear friend got tired of close friends and family not calling themselves feminist and threw down the gauntlet; either wear the name proudly or GTFO. It wasn't just about the label though, it was about not being all in, not being 100% on the same team, years of little things adding up until she'd finally had enough. It got very very messy, a lot of things were said, and in the end she has a lot fewer friends but I think she's happier. As one of the few people deeply involved who does call herself a feminist, this has left me in an awkward spot socially, and dealing with some cognitive dissonance mentally. It's the latter I'm working through by writing today.

During the ensuing conversations, arguments, debates on semantics and such, a common point kept coming from the not-feminists; they don't want to associate with a movement that doesn't like them, or is downright hostile to them. Feminism began as a white, straight, middle-class woman's movement and hasn't moved very far from there in the last hundred years or so.  Supposedly there's room in feminism for everyone, but actions speak louder than definition and there are a number of groups that just really don't feel comfortable inside feminism; women of colour, trans*folk and men. I'm sure I've missed some but that's just a few examples that came up because of the gauntlet. If a group of people told you that as a man, every time you had sex with a woman it was rape, would you want to be a part of that group? If a group of people took your stories and told them for you would you want to be a member? If a group of people shit on your choice to be a stay at home mom or changed your name when you got married, you'd probably avoid those people.

On the other hand, I am proud to call myself a feminist. I'm a feminist because I recognize that every form of oppression and violence on earth affects women disporportionately, from hurricanes to rape, murder and war. Fully half the human race is at a disadvantage, and then you can add in the extra oppression of not being straight, white, cisgendered and Christian. Feminism at it's core is about equality. This is why feminism as a label is important, as opposed to humanism or equalism. Those two terms erase the reality of what being a woman on planet Earth is like, and if we can't look that simple truth in the face we can't begin to change it.

A few bad apples screaming about how they hate X Y or Z shouldn't define a movement that's done so much good. The people who say that all sex is rape, are judgemental assholes of women's choices, and appropriate other people's culture and stories in order to 'help' them, aren't helping.

I really enjoy having the ability to vote and own property, and not geting looked at sideways (often) for not changing my name when I got married. It's awesome that I can drive a car or go to work in any profession I choose, and I have feminists of the past to thank for that. Not equalists or humanists but feminists. The terms just don't carry the same weight for me. However, being a feminist doesn't mean I get to tell other people what labels they're obligated to wear. If you walk the walk and talk the talk I don't care what label you choose for yourself. This is where me and my friend differ; she's disowned anyone who wont wear it and while I don't necessarily *like* humanist or equalist or whatever, I respect the decision to keep the term away if feminism has treated you badly.

People who reject the label based off of Pat Robertson's stereotypes up there are just ignorant, and ignorance can be fixed. (The willfully ignorant, on the other hand...) I have no problem with people who reject the label because of shitty experiences with feminism. Hell, I get why some men may not want to use the term because they're not women, and don't want to overpower women's spaces with their privilege. That's cool if misguided. The movement needs MORE voices, more diversity, not less.

Honestly I think the word needs claiming; the 'yes, feminism is really about equality for EVERYONE' people, like me, need to be a lot louder. Feminism has never had a good name in the larger culture, there's always been pushback against something so woman-centered. But I can't make people claim something they don't want. I can't make people care about something in the way I care about it. All I can do is all I can do and hope it makes some change. Would it be cool if someday all my friends could wear "This is what a feminist looks like!" shirts? Yes, that would make my whole year. But it's not going to happen, and I'm ok with that.

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Every once in a very great while there may be a post which contains a link to a product or service for which I've been paid to promote or have recieved for review purposes. I Blog With Integrity so you'll know which is which.