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Halloweening Like Weenies on the Canadian Prairies.

halloween

I went Halloweening as a kid. It was impressive, being I was raised by my Grandparents and lived in the middle of nowhere, aka the prairies of the Great Frozen Northland, aka Canada.

The first rule of thumb was that our costumes had to be “tasteful.” I know that those of you who know me completely understand the kind of box that put me in. I am just lucky that I escaped my childhood not having been completely stunted in my magically impressive repertoire of hysterically funny, probably inappropriate, social commentary. How I ended making it out the other end of my childhood alive, considering those kind of restrictions, is beyond me. I clearly had a special angel intervening with some kind of Teflon shield.

So that left us with limited options for costumes. We were told to “be a ghost or an angel,” both of them requiring basically the same costume, defined only by the visual presence of a tinseled head or not. Of course we were only allowed a sheet providing we used an older, pristine white one (something about airing our dirty laundy no-no’s). We were also allowed to be some type of cute little animal from the stunted list of those contained in the cute blurred pictures of the Ideals Magazine – a kitty or a bunny. I think they went wild one year and allowed my brother to be a pirate and me a beautiful woman. Which meant my brother wore an eyepatch and carried a stuffed chicken on his shoulder that he painted green, and I got to wear make-up and put a skirt on my head to pretend it was long hair.

We weren’t allowed to be witches or devils or fairies or saloon girls or cowboys.  They were both aiming for a higher rung on the social ladder and one devoid of satanic overtones because back then everyone was big into pretending they were the good guys.  Whole communities pretended together.  Life was pretending.   Part of our upbringing was learning to hold butter in our mouths with nary a melted drop on chin or chest.

We took our costumes to school and everyone brought homemade treats for a party in the afternoon. “Party” was just a euphemism for no schoolwork and a contained number of students locked in a room with their drug of choice … which was sugar.  We got to drink pop, eat all the goodies our moms had sent, clearly years before Pinterest. Only a couple of the moms even tried to differentiate the cookies and cupcakes from their normal, ladies church meeting/Christmas/funeral fare. I think some of them even said “RIP Uncle Wilbur” in sprinkles.  A few of them had quilt stuffing stuck in the frosting.

At some point the signal was given, we all got dressed and we got to parade around the desks of each classroom. There, we were pointed at and laughed at and judged. It was a cool break from our usual routine around the other kids at school, out on the playground, where we were pointed at and laughed at and judged, without any costumes.  Costumes make everything better, always.

Then the party began and the winners of the costumes were announced and believe me, it was never a ghost, an angel, a kitty, or a bunny. Which pretty much eliminated 98.3% of the school whose parents were part of the pretending majority.  We were all pretty bitter because when you are a kid you do spend a lot of your time bordering on insanity. You know, doing the same thing over and over again and hoping for a different outcome?  Each year, we actually held hands and waited breathlessly for the announcement of the winner, sure we would win.

Never happened.

Looking back, I have big regrets over air I missed out on holding my breath like that.  They are just lucky none of us died.

The buses would eventually pull up to take us home and the teachers always let us go early for some reason. They insisted on it.  It allowed us extra time to work up a frenzy. A sugar high, having been contained within the normal sized school room, suddenly sandwiched into a smaller space with other kids who were mostly older and meaner and also on drugs, both sugar and other.  You take that combination in that small small space all sealed up, the heater blasting hot air through the bus and shake it up realllllly good by speeding over gravel roads over all those humps and bumps and road kill … presto … lots of throwing up.

You learned to roll with it. Throwing up = more room for more candy. We were Halloween Bulimics sans the ABC Afternoon School Special about our lives.

At home, providing we were not snowed in, we were allowed to go out Trick or Treating as soon as it got to be dusk. It was magical. We would set out with our pillowcases and wander the wheat fields with our compasses, praying for a clear night so the stars could guide us. Sometimes we would actually make it to the nearest neighbour’s house.  Most times we would just fall asleep in the fields having never reached our destination, exhausted and  cold.  We would wake up and cry a bit and step over all the tipped over cows (the trick portion of the city kids Halloween) and make our way home completely disillusioned about life and our empty pillow cases.    Our grandparents would try to cheer us up telling us things like, “candy isn’t everything” and “you may not have gotten any candy but you had a real experience with your brother, and that is priceless, something you will remember all of your life, long after any candy could be eaten.” And then make us wash our sheets and pillow cases and put them away for another year and they would give us an extra helping of oatmeal for breakfast.  They would even put left over cookies in our lunch buckets from the ones they sent with us to school for the party. We usually used them to huck out the windows of the school bus at gophers, other kids, and tractors. There were a lot of cookies left over.  There are a lot of dead gophers, dented tractors and brain damaged farmers out on the prairies because of us taking out our disappointment on the world around us.

We never spoke about our abysmal Halloweens. It was just too painful.

How do you ever heal from something like that?

It is probably one of the reasons why, as an adult, I dressed the kids up to the nines, no expense spared, gave them a dozen pillow cases and drove them to the richest parts of the city where they Trick or Treated until the cows were all tipped in the country and could not go home. Hubby and I would pretend to go through their stash to make sure the candy was safe and we would give them their revised pillow cases full of candy the next morning, and NEVER let them see the ones under our bed with all the best stuff.

Sometimes it is important to go back and reclaim your lost childhood like that when you are an adult. It was therapy without that boring guy behind a desk looking at you while you lay on his couch making stuff up so he won’t look so disappointed. There we were, just high fiving one another in the darkness, after the kids are in bed, mouths stuffed with candy kisses and unable to even talk.

Perfect healing!

The Chosen One.

The Chosen One

You know those emails you get where they say if you send it on something wonderful will happen and if you don’t then you will die? Well, I have never sent one on before … and I never died. At least I am pretty sure I am not dead. I have not sought out a medical opinion to provide credible proof. Well I sent one on and within seconds I heard a ding and I received this very urgent letter ….

URGENT ACTION HIGHLY NEEDED
FROM: MR. SAVADOGO MAHAMA.
BANK OF AFRICA (B.O.A)
OUAGADOUGOU BURKINA FASO
WEST AFRICA

DEAR FRIEND,

I know that this mail will come to you as a surprise. i am the bill and exchange manager boa bank here in Ouagadougou Burkina Faso .

i hoped that you will not expose or betray this trust and confident that i am about to repose on you for the mutual benefit of our both families. I need your urgent assistance in transferring the sum of ($25.3) million immediately to your account. The money has been dormant for years in our bank here without any body coming for it.

I want to release the money to you as the nearest person to our deceased customer (the owner of the account) who died a long with his supposed next of kin in an air crash since July 2000. i nor the next of kin would have want the money to go into our bank treasury as an abandoned fund. So this is the reason why I contacted you, so that we will release the money to you as the nearest person to the deceased customer.

Please I would like you to keep this proposal as a top secret and delete if you are not interested. Upon receipt of your reply, I will send you full details on how the business will be executed and also note that you will have 40% of the above mentioned sum if you agree to transact the business with me. Please contact me through this e-mail address (SAVADOGO_MAHAMA1@SIFY.COMhttp://us.mc1146.mail.yahoo.com/mc/compose?to=savadogo_mahama1@sify.com)
thanks and hoping to hear from you

MR. SAVADOGO MAHAMA

I replied:

Dear Mr.Savadogo Mahama;

You could have knocked me over with a feather when I received your email. I am intrigued to say the least. I have never been involved in transferring before … well jail transfers are just not the same thing are they? Of course not.

Is Ouagahougou Burkino Faso anywhere near Arrears? Cause That is where all my bills end up and I have no idea where that is. Have you ever driven through Arrears on your way home to Ouagahougou Burkino Faso? Have you gone camping there? Could you check your map and let me know?

I have never seen dormant money. Is that even legal?

So many things to cover before we meet … oh … about the repose thing …. I think we should have dinner and a movie first before we do any reposing on each other. I love the movie “The Sting” have you seen it?

I am a little confused though. Do “bodies” normally claim money in your part of the world? They must be much more talented than the ones I have seen. Our “bodes” just seem to lie there. I am flattered you want to give the money to my “body.” How good does the body have to be? I mean I have one and all, but just saying, let me know if there are any body requirements.

Also,I have to ask … are you sure the customer was buried somewhere nearest to me cause wow that is creepy. How close is he buried? He is not in the back yard is he? Seriously if someone else is closer to him, it is only fair they should get some of the money. We had a slight earthquake here yesterday and maybe it shifted things a bit. Check that out to be sure cause I don’t wanna take advantage of anyone and I can tell you are the kind of person that wouldn’t want to do that either. Like once I thought I won horseshoes cause it looked like my shoe was the closest and I was so excited and the loser (my brother) was crying and crying so we measured it to be sure. Turns out they were wrong, I hadn’t won, and my brother was so happy and even though I felt bitter about not winning a cool trophy or a meat tray, in my heart I knew it was the right thing to do and you can’t buy that kind of feeling. It will keep me company in my old age just like it did after the tournament when my brother threw a big barbeque and I wasn’t invited because he didn’t want any losers bringing the whole mood down.

You know I heard about that plane crash. Evidently a lot of really rich people died on there and many of them are, judging from the number of letters I have received, related to me. Go figure. I try to imagine what it must have been like for all of them. Sometimes I think to myself, did they all talk and discover that they were all related to me at the last moment before the plane went down? Did that bring them any comfort? I am going to be very wealthy. I have 33 letters from victims of the plane crash besides yours. I just think it is so sad that people played “supposed kin” on the last day of their life. I cannot believe that. How low will some people go? I guess the fact the “supposed kin” died in the plane crash with all those rich people just proves that Karma is a bitch. I actually knew Karma in junior high and I can vouch for that 100%. I think it is really nice that you would rather give the money to me then let it go to an abandoned fund. It really restores my faith in mankind to see someone be so honest and do the right thing cause I am sure no-one would miss dormant money in an abandoned fund, especially as there are no laws about that kind of thing. You could’ve had it all.

I can understand you wanting to keep it top secret though, wow, can you imagine how many people would want in on this if I told them? They would probably move into the house next door just to be closer to the body and cut me out completely.

Ummm I also think it is really generous of you to only take 60% of my money for your fee for doing your job. What great interest rates and bank fees your country has. They are beyond awesome. I may want to put all my savings and investments in your bank. How ever do you make a living with such fair fees?

Oh and when you write up the transfer for the money, you really don’t need to put it in my account, I trust you completely. You can just send me a certified cheque and I will transfer your part of that as soon as I receive a photocopy of your passport, your VisaCard (including the back signature panel) and your security clearance badge for the bank. I will take a look at everything and give the offer of the repose thing some serious consideration.

How do you feel about chest hair on a woman?

Thanks for making my day.

Your new pal
Aria

Unfamous People Rock My World.

Your Calling

I am not always a big fan of the big hurrah that we see in some of the positive videos for our kids, for women, for men ….

They sound awesome. Of course these are the kind of things we want our kids to hear. “You can do anything. ” “You are meant to be great!” It is good to have role models and mentors. They give us examples of people who made it BUT I can never agree with the idea that we should be looking at these people as “THIS is what I am supposed to do,” or “THIS is HOW I am supposed to do it.”

The purpose of studying the lives of others, of looking to what they accomplished, how they accomplished, is not to duplicate their efforts. The purpose is to be inspired.

Inspiration is something that happens within us. It is about the dialogue we have with ourselves about who we are and how we are going to accomplish things. Role models and mentors are catalysts for that dialogue to take place. They are not TUTORS.

So maybe the word we have really messed up on is “teacher.”

I can teach someone how to use a computer, to repeat a series of steps to accomplish a specific task. I cannot give him an overall understanding of working with computers. To accomplish that he is going to have to have his own experiences of failures and successes, trying different things, to learn that. It is still falling back, ultimately, on the experience that goes on within him and not the outer interaction of me writing down or explaining the steps. The fact he can repeat the steps is not the same thing as him LEARNING how to work with a computer.

I cannot teach him to love. I can, however, create opportunities and situations, for him to discover love within himself. His experiences and the story he creates about those experiences and the beliefs he uses to explain and validate those experiences are going to be what teaches him.

I recently saw yet another video, this one about women and their potential. It was all about famous women. One of the women shared that she had simply said to God, “use my life” and he answered her prayer and made her a big television star.   The inference is that we can all do the same. Just do it. Overcome adversity, don’t let it stop you, and be . . . Famous/rich/successful/the best/first/?? Good messages right?

Except what about the thousands of other people who offered their life to help others and never got fame or riches or opportunities? What about the people who didn’t plan to be wonderful but spent their lives sacrificing without any appreciation or recognition? Because MOST OF US are never going to be rich, famous, successful, the best, or first. Does that mean we failed as human beings? Did we fail in that God didn’t consider our lives worth using? Or in that we didn’t try hard enough, or were not positive enough?

What I want to say to people is just be who you are. No better, no less, than anyone standing next to you, just completely you. Be at peace with that. Do the things that speak to your heart. Love your heart … and your gut … and your own unique way of seeing and interpreting the world. Speak your truth. Do what gives you joy. Do what you can. Love others and let them love you.

It doesn’t matter what we do because it is only a sick ego world that lines people up and values them by their jobs and how much money they make. It is an ass backwards world that decided being able to run fast, or sing songs or act is worthy of so much more money than a mother, or a teacher, or even the man to collects the garbage. Where would we be without those people who are willing to pick up our garbage? We are still buying into this. We are still holding it up to our children as if it is some magic promise of happiness, as if their life will be worthy only if they are in an office and not as much if they are out building houses.

It isn’t.

Happiness comes from knowing who you are, from living with integrity, from doing what you love, from connection with others. THAT is what we should be selling to our kids. And if they get rich and famous on the road to their sense of peace and happiness, it is irrelevant. It is jam for the bread of life. We can live without jam. We cannot live without bread.

On Being an Empath.

http://themindunleashed.org/wp-content/uploads/2014/10/empath.jpg
Have you ever wondered why people who are strangers or people you hardly know open up to you and share their most trusted thoughts? Do you have an instant connection with animals? Are you unable to watch violence, cruelty, or tragedy on television or in the movies because your soul just can’t bear it? Do you have an instant knowing about the character of the people you meet upon first meeting them? Are you highly spiritual and find the physical world and everything in it heavy? Are you often tired and have physical ailments that cannot be medically explained? If you answered, “yes” to any of these questions you may be an “empath.  (Read the rest of the article here)

The Mind Unleashed published this very thorough description of being an empath.  Growing up as one, I found it difficult to deal with all the connections to things which often resulted in sensory overload.  I had to learn how to manage those connections and the impact they had on me.  Later I learned that other people did not experience the world as I did and that sharing with others was not always welcomed, or if it was, it was often with amused interest where I became the side show freak and there was an ulterior motive for wanting to know what I knew.  I had to learn to keep it to myself.

Living in that “duality” the author describes is such a reality.  Feeling the darkness of people and places while my heart is set on light and healing can feel insane.  Sometimes I simply cannot understand how a person can do what they do or say what they say.  It is probably why I have made the effort to understand people.  By not focusing on what they do as much as the “why” I can lessen that struggle.  Our basic motivations for our actions are pretty simple.  It is the way in which we carry out the actions those motivations produce that is complex and varied.

As an adult I tend to spend a great deal of time alone.  If I don’t properly prepare myself, social situations are painful.  I sit in a restaurant and I am “aware” of everything going on at the other tables with the other patrons, all at the same time.  I know who is fighting, who has just lost someone, who is in love, etc etc.  If someone I care about is having a bad day, I immediately absorb their energy and that energy can cling to me long after they have turned the corner and are happy once again.  Because of that I have to make sure I take the time to clear myself, in ways that only I understand.  I have to regularly take breaks and re-centre myself.  I have to recognize when I am wearing down and know when to step back.

My way of dealing involves letting the feelings flow through me and move on.  I have tried to “deny” the feelings but it does not work.  That means I cry, I rage, I have to let it out.  And then I can move on.

I laughed that someone at one of my classes, who is a well known psychic, commented on a “tree that absolutely loves me” when she had tapped into where I lived.  We bought this land because when we first saw it I fell in love with it because there was a very large, old tree on it that I immediately connected with.  I talk to that tree often when I am in the yard and there are more birds that come to that tree than any other tree in the area.  Even as a child I sought out trees and would sit in them for hours and talk to them about life.  When one of the new neighbours had an equally old tree on their property cut down I sobbed like a baby.  For almost a month I worried about the birds that had called it home and even now I cannot stand to look at the pieces of that tree still stacked in a near by field.  It is like looking at a body, torn in bits and scattered on the ground.

I have children who are also Empaths, who have variations with different focuses.  They have children who are also impacted.

It was incredibly important to me to help my children understand and manage empathic abilities so that they were not as isolated as I felt growing up.  It has been important to me to try and bridge the distance between me and others, recognizing that I seem sometimes strange and distant from people.  I just see the world differently.  I can ask people to be tolerant of those differences, but I found explaining how I see things, more helpful, especially when I had a very left brained boss who really did not get me.  Problems to him were something that signified a negative and required more work, where as for me they were motivating, exciting opportunities to learn.  I could come up with all kinds of possible solutions, and it really did not matter if none of them were right because my ego was not engaged in being right, I was wholly engaged in the process.  Me slipping into full gear and being excited made him think I had lost it completely.  Once I could see the difference between how we viewed so many things, and then how we approached those things, made all the difference between us and we became a great team that functioned well instead of one that was always at odds.

As an empath I know I lack some strengths.  Being completely logical when that is required, is not easy.   I am an avowed non-comformist and that has landed me in plenty of trouble.  It takes on a life of its own.  Sometimes it is better to deal with people as they present on the surface but that is hard for me because I am the worst liar ever.  Everything shows on my face.  There are many other things I have to work at and it is one of the reasons that I have been so grateful for the examples of people in my life who are very left brained and very logical.  We all need balance and I have gained some valuable coping skills, particularly from my husband.

As I have aged, I am more inclined to be comfortable in my own skin and to just let the empathic vibes flow.  I don’t have to place myself in situations I don’t want to be in.  As you age, your relevance in any social setting is reduced.  You are tolerated more on some levels (not direct competition) and ignored more on others (I can’t do anything for you).  So, you are free to just be.  What I hope for, is that empaths will recognize the gift they have, however painful it is at times, and they will use it to heal the world and those around them.  I hope they will take their places in the world, and connect more with others, and remember that while this is their “gift” others have different ones that can benefit us.

What I hope, is to build bridges, that will see all of us using our gifts to bless the lives of one another.

 

 

 

Prairie Disneyland. Just like Disneyland Only With More Farmers.

bales

Only on the prairies would you see photos like these supplied by my kids on a day out, back home on the prairies.

When you live on the prairies … life is hard. You make due with what you have. You do. If you lived in Essex there is a wonderful maze there with lovely green shrubs and waterfalls and statues.  You would take a picnic lunch and drive through the lovely countryside and talk about the royal courts that used to frolic in these mazes while a stringed quartet gently played and men in satin and lace fed grapes and dainty pastries to women in incredible corseted gowns with heaving breasts.

Geese and deer would stroll through the scene, perfectly mannered and well behaved.

On the prairies, they throw the kids into the back of a beat up old pick up truck and drive down a dirt road to the wheat field. There someone has thrown a bunch of straw bales around that they are too lazy to pick up. Someone makes a hole in the barb wire fence where people can drive through and John Boy sits there with his hunters cap, missing teeth, a rifle and a tin can, and charges each car load $25.00 to come and wander in the straw. They give people maps so they won’t get lost cause God knows, if dad should fall and a herd of cows trample him into the dirt and then a tornado comes up and it whips both the cows and the dirt into a frenzy … dad just might not be able to find his way out of the bale maze. That happens all the time on the prairies … it is actually where the term “baled” comes from. They changed the spelling to “bail” later on to allow for more kids to pass their English tests by giving them an edge on the question “name 3 more 4 letter words that end in “ail.”  All over the countryside you will find the sad legacy of the bale mazes where the tombstones read,”dad bailed 1942″ etc. “Bale Maze Loss” support groups are everywhere to address this serious problem. At these meetings you hear things like,”the last time I ever saw my dad he was standing next to the one bale, he turned and smiled and waved  . . . and then the tornado hit.  I heard a bunch of mooing and then silence … and dad was gone.” And then, other people go and stand by that person and hold their hand and sing them soft prairie wheat songs like “Oklahoma,” “America the Beautiful,” and the theme song from the commercial for WeetBix.  They just want to help them learn to love wheat again ….

Back at the wheat field there is no stringed quartet.  W make due with a trio.  Someone turns the car radio up to the “Kingston Trio” hour with a special appearance and dance sequence number by Anne Murray. The men are mostly in coveralls or hunting gear but a couple of the women have their square dancing skirts on only because they are getting dropped off later for practice at the curling rink. Every fall, prairie people gather to prepare for the big Curling Bonspiel pageant where they have extravagant displays and dance numbers like the square dancing on skates dance-o-rama set to the music of “Jimmy Crack Corn.”  No grapes, but someone pulls out something resembling raisins out of the crack in the back seat of the truck.  Basically the rest of the meal is coffee in a thermos,  even for the toddlers, and gopher on a stick … roasted …with ketchup of course.

As for the geese and the deer wandering through … no.  Doesn’t happen.  Cows, rabid skunks, the occasional lost Hutterite . . . that is it.  And they don’t really know anything about manners or behaving.

jackolantern

Oh look and here we have evidence of how the prairies incorporate important social reform with community wholesomeness. These recent rehabilitation programs that have been a huge success. Grafitti on straw rolls is wayyy down now that the local teens regularly attend the fields and put their energy into creative community minded art projects like this wonderful Halloween themed roll seen here. Instead of scrawling gang epitaphs like “the oilers suck” or swear words like “Armed Forces” they have channeled that into gosh darned wholesomeness. Golly gee. Won’t the younger prairie kids be scared when they are out wandering the wheat fields this year, to come upon this frightening … toll … of … straw? Um ya …

And don’t forget the pumpkin throwing contest.  There is a reason Canada placed 8th in the Olympic shot putting this past season.  Mmhmm … pumpkin tossing!  Bigggg competition everyone looks forward to for the fall each year. There are just so many many things to do in a wheat field once the crops are off.   Mattel should seriously look into finding a way to package this and make it available to every child in the world.

corn maze

And finally … the corn maze.  This is an adult ride and they are very strict about qualifying people before they are allowed to wander willy nilly in the corn.  This is a lot like the straw maze,  only much cornier. Every person has to go through a crash course on survival in the corn, like ” brown corn … do not eat it,” “how to out run a fire,” “surviving in a corn field all through winter until the spring thaw,” and 200 recipes for snow and frozen corn to delight you by the other idiots who insisted they knew the way out of the corn maze.” You have to sign a waiver to go on this ride.

We came up with the idea and called it a “corn maze” because we didn’t get Spanish people, we got French people.  They thought we were saying “corn maize” and they wanted it to be called “corn blé.”  That would have been “corn corn” which is ridiculous and proves, once again, that the English are far superior, at least when it comes to knowing how to come up with a serious name for wandering around in dead corn stalks.   I am pretty sure we had some kind of war  or major spelling bee with the French over it, and we won, and it started a whole national past time of ignoring the French.  So now, every Autumn, along with all the other frivolity and fun, we all remember the whole debacle and we roll our eyes and laugh and laugh as we eat escargot, éclairs, and sip champagne.

But as you can see, there is no end of fun and excitement on the prairies.  No wonder my people are so darn polite.  After years of jostling with the huge crowds in the wheat and corn fields, and boy these venues are absolutely packed …. you have to learn to share the land, to get along with everyone, to give peace a chance, to group hug … or no-one would have any fun. The way of the field is the way of the gentleman.  You will hear all over the field things like “excuse me ma’am I think you have a bit of gopher in your teeth,” and “excuse me, you go first, eh?” and, “would you like to share this corrogated iron sheet with me?  There is a tornado coming and I think I just felt the first cow fly by.”

So next time you come to Canada, forget the mountains, come to the prairies ! Come in the fall when everything is dead and brown and the road kill has stopped attracting all the flies …and join with the polite Canadians wandering the wheat fields. It will be the holiday of a lifetime.

The Most Destructive Words We Speak to Our Daughters.

One of the greatest disservices we do to one another as women is that we teach our daughters “to be nice.”

It is not that “be nice” is a bad message.  It goes with “be polite,” “be respectful,” etc.  The problem happens when we teach our daughters to be nice with the fervour of Moonies at the “weekend retreat” from which no-one ever returns.

The problem is that little girls learn a whole set of rules that are as restrictive and perhaps more damaging that any burqa or religious indoctrination.  “Being nice” can end up teaching little girls to deny themselves, to ignore their own needs . . . to feel achievement and satisfaction in putting by always putting others first.

Of course we want to teach our daughters to be kind but being kind is far different than being nice. “Kind” is about a nature, a governing soul principal that guides everything you do. “Nice” is a learned, superficial worn affect. When someone does something “kind,” we characterize the action as being “nice.”   Nice is a choice we make and can be done even when the feelings behind the action does not support it.

When we teach our daughters to be nice at all costs, we are denying them feelings and insight into who they are. We actually force them to “be nice,” even when they do not feel it, and we reward them for their efforts.  But there is a cost to women learning to hide their true feelings and masking those feelings with an unfelt overture. We are in fact, teaching our daughters to lie . . . to themselves.

One of the biggest complaints I get when I counsel men, is that the woman they married is not the woman they dated.  When I first heard a man say that, my immediate reaction was to dismiss it as simply his individual experience but when I thought about it, I couldn’t  ignore the point.  When other men made the same observation.  Think about it, how many of us have done this on a date:

“What would you like to do this weekend?”
“I don’t know, what would you like to do?”
“No, I asked you, anything at all .. What would you like to do?”
“I don’t know, really I am easy, happy to do anything you want .”
“Seriously I always decide, tell me what you would like for a change.”
“What are the choices?”
“Well, we could go to the fair, or bowling, or out to dinner, or the football game.”
“Really I don’t care, I just like being with you.”
“Well ok then, lets go to the football game.”
“Oh great.”
“You sure?”
“Absolutely.”

They go to the football game.  And every date goes pretty much the same, with the woman “being nice” and insisting she is happy to do what he wants to do.  She goes to the game and appears to have a great time.  After months of dating and a marriage, he buys her season football tickets for their anniversary,  something he considers special, confident she will love them.  Imagine his shock when her response is anger, and an outburst insisting she hates football and prefers the ballet and why can’t he ever take her to the ballet?

Of course I am over generalizing, but the point is this …

Women are taught to be nice at the expense of understanding themselves.  If she wants to play dolls and her friend wants to skip, her mother often steps in and tells her to “be nice” which means, in this situation, skip because the other girl wants to do that.    If the goal is always to give into other people our daughter’s grow up losing themselves. They may not know what they want after 18 years of “be nice,”  or they won’t know how to ask for it.

Let’ s teach our daughters honesty. The fact is we feel things. How do we deal with those emotions, in a way that honours the feelings and channels them into understanding for self and others with positive outcomes? So when Susie comes home from school and says she hates Mary Jane cause she laughed at her in class and said she was fat and now all Susie wants to do is smash Mary Jane , we don’t dismiss it with “that’s not a nice thing to say.” Trust me, Susie already knows it is not nice. When we hear her on the phone later planning revenge with some of the other girls, we don’t just caution her with, “Susie .. be nice.”

Susie needs to talk about the way she feels. She needs to sit with her feelings and be supported in that, yes we all feel awful when someone says unkind things about us. She also needs to be helped to understand:

1. What others say or think is not something we can control.
2. What others say or think is not always the truth nor does it reflect what everyone else says or thinks.
3. People are unkind for all kinds of reasons that often have nothing to do with us. Often what they say tells us far more about who they are than it says anything about the person they are disparaging.
4. Responding in kind feeds the problem and makes it bigger.
5. You can control yourself and what you do and within THAT lies the power to change how it impacts you.

Those are empowering messages.  They are helpful to her, to the other parties, and to the community.  Asking how she wants to handle it is far more supportive than telling her she has to go back to school and “be nice,” the emotional equivalent of “please lie down in front of the bus when you see it coming and let it drive over you again and again.”

Asking her to refrain from doing anything mean in response is perfectly legit. But empowering her to step back from interaction with, or helping her to find the words to say if it happens again, these are important steps for all women. Each of us chooses to deal with situations in different ways, depending on the circumstances. We need to be empowered to do that and empowerment has to start with children.

We need to celebrate who we are and what we enjoy and love. To be given messages that whatever that is – is perfect. That way, when we date and meet others we can say,” no thank-you,” when we get asked to the football games we hate.  We can let someone know,  “I actually prefer the ballet.” It gives us the confidence to find people we are compatible with and if we do that we have a chance to find good friends, wonderful lovers, and husbands. We are giving our daughters a chance to be happy.
We can turn so many things around and make them different for our daughters.  Blaming society is pointless when you consider WE are society.  Society succeeds when every member does their part with their individual responsibilities.

It is not about the way it has been, it is about the possibilities. The possibilities of who you, and of who your daughter is. Empower her to make choices, to speak up, to say who she is and what she likes and dislikes, to have feelings, to discern, to decide what she should do next, to fail, to succeed, to be … and you stand beside her as her mother and tell her …. she is wonderful and perfect, just as she is.

Pinda Piper Pinned a Pin. Pinda Piper’s In the Bin!

pinter poke

 

 

 

 

Poor Pinda, she had no idea that some pinning is considered a sin, worthy of excommunication from the Church of Pinterest.

I have a suggestion for all the people on Pinterest who are so freaking panicked about other people pinning “their” pins.   Clearly they are beyond distressed about how many pins other peoples repin and so they post all kind of posters warning those people they will be blocked (as in not able to look at or take their pins anymore).  I tried to talk to a couple of them off the ledge and explain the pictures they collect are not really “theirs” (in most instances).   They did not make the item, nor do they own what is shown in the picture.  They did not take the picture.  Someone else did all that and loaded it onto the internet, where THEY got it from so really . . . it is not “theirs.”  It actually belongs to someone else on the internet who may or may not be really happy about the fact THEY took it without asking.  I can’t sing a song someone else wrote and insist it is mine and that if anyone else sings it they have to give me credit.  I can’t see a painting and like it and then insist if anyone else does the same they have to credit me for it because I saw it and liked it first.

Asking these types of Pinters  if they see the irony in their not wanting people to copy and paste from them is not dissimilar to trying to convince a cranky two year old that eating liver is awesome.   Ok actually lets change that to trying to convince me, even on an awesome day, with ample medication, that eating liver is awesome.

I appreciate Pinters get cranky over the amount of time it took them to find those pictures  and then to  click their mouse to load them onto their boards.    I know they feel they have a special eye for collection of all things “green,” or “cute,” or even “fluffy.”  I get that it probably took days to come up with what you should call a board with green things in it and that how you arranged the words “all things green” shows promising literary talent.  All THAT should be worth something right?

I don’t think, on a global scale, it really is.

It might have merited you several gold scars in kindergarten and Sesame Street may have criminally promoted the idea that “one of these things is not like the other, can you guess which one before I finish my song,” was of epic importance but no …it really isn’t.  That you can surf the internet and identify and mouse click on all  the shiny and sparkly pink things is  awesome … for you.  I am sure the people in your life are really happy about that achievement.  You can’t see me right now, but I am clapping for you, I promise.

I am not sure putting 50 posters on each board threatening people who visit your account is the way to go, but I can assure you that having one of those poster pictures as a frog that has all kinds of watermarks over it – meaning you are supposed to PAY to use it – is definitely NOT the way to go.  That’s YOU actually really stealing someone else’s work.

I think the point of Pinterest was to share.  They actually want people to post things on their accounts that other people will like and want to repin.  Otherwise it would be sort of like opening an art gallery with awesome easels in everyone’s specially reserved room and not having any pictures.  No-one would come to that art gallery, no sane person would offer to hang their art in that gallery and they would be bankrupt in no time.   Oh, and probably on some list on the internet featuring the dumbest business ideas ever.

I doubt many strangers show up at your house just to see you and hang out.  The problem is most people don’t see you and they don’t know anything about you.  Even if you put your name and a Photoshopped picture of you from 10 years ago when you were much thinner, wrinkle free, and had a great hair day . . . it is not likely enough to pull people in off the street.  Certainly not people who are living across the world from you.

So Pinterest had this cool idea that if people pinned things they liked and were interested in, other people who liked the same things would be attracted to their site and perhaps people would get to know one another and magic would happen.  Oh, AND, people might learn a few things, share information and support on how-to’s and it would be a win win for the people and for Pinterest.

Think of it like getting a truck load of decorations and party supplies, all the cool kid toys, AND the circus put up in your front yard.  NOW, there is a slight chance someone from off the street is going to stop and say “Hey, I love what you have done with your clowns!”

People are pretty visual.  “A picture is worth a thousand words,” right?  You could write about yourself and what you like but the that would be a dating site, wouldn’t it?  And everyone lies about liking long walks on the beaches and how much they weigh on those things.  BUT imagine if someone filled out a profile for a dating site and then was really angry that people were reading it and asking them out on dates.   Again you can’t see my visual aids here, but I am holding up a broken pencil.  You could say it is “point-less,” not unlike joining a site to share pictures and then getting mad that people want to share pictures.

I am going to give you a few moments to think about that.

I can hear the whining already.  I told you I’ve done this already remember?  A couple of Pinters, ledge, they insisted on jumping, no safety net as the firemen were back at the station on Pinterest stealing more than 4 pins at a time . . .  I know the whole argument.  Pinters reluctantly agree people can repin their pics but ONLY a few at a time.  That is why you see women everywhere sitting in front of their computer screens, staring at the stop clock  in front of them, waiting for “a time” to pass so they can pin some more.  Well, the polite ones do that.  The rest are at the therapists, hysterical that they have been “blocked” and their lives are now over.

So let’s sum it up.  Some nice people come to your site and they LIKE some of the pics you have done.  You know that because they repin some of your pics.  But that makes you mad.  So you restrict the numbers and force them to come again and again if they want to “like” your stuff.  You force them to hit the “like”button before they take, and you force them to follow you if they want to take more, and you put up nasty posters accusing them of not being polite or “knowing” things like how Pinterest works on the planet you and your fellow Nazi-Pinters inhabit.  I get it.

No I don’t.

My mind goes to ok, I want 200 pics from you.  That makes you mad.  I can either take the 200 when you  are not looking and get banned so I can’t take anymore  or I can play the “I am your prisoner” game and take the 200 I originally saw slowly over time, 4-5 at a time, and keep coming back and taking more until I have all your pictures.  I am not sure you can see what is wrong with that logic, even though I am clapping out the words and saying them reallly slowly.  (waving the broken pencil again)

See I pin, not seriously, but I have a few boards.  When I am looking around and I come across your Pinterest etiquette posters I just think, “what a loser, get over yourself,”  and I move on to other pictures.  I don’t want to know you.  And hearing that there are now “gangs” of these people where if one blocks you, they all do, makes me wonder  what Junior High Course includes playing on the computer as part of it’s curriculum.  If people pin from me, I sometimes actually go to look at their profile and see if they have anything I like. I may not friend them but I grow fonder of them in subtle ways that can’t be measured.

You do know there are all kinds of ways for people to take every one of your pics without you ever knowing about it, right?  I am sorry, did I type that out loud?  (insert sound of bubbles bursting here)

So here are two simple suggestions that may save you … and me, from all this grief.  Firstly you could just actually MAKE the stuff or take the pictures of things you own and load that onto your boards, in which case, put up all the signs you want and complain away.  You should get credit for it because it is YOURS!  I still think it is a pointless exercise but I might respect you a little more.  The best solution is to simply copy the pictures onto your own computer.  Arrange them into categories and open them up and look at them whenever you want in all their glory, knowing not one other person is ever going to be able to SEE your precious pictures let alone repin them.  You can make up numbers about viewings and likes to your friends if you have to – how is anyone ever going to be able to check?  You will always be the number one pinner.

The added bonus is that when the internet is down, you can still look at them.

You did know that right, that if the internet goes down, or Pinterest shuts down because they are tired of all the whining … “your” pictures and all that talent and hard work …. Are … Gone ….?  You knew that right?

(insert sound of more bubbles bursting . . .

. . . and wailing . . .

. . . and gnashing of teeth . . )

Happy Pinning. :)

(tags not used but appropriate:   finding out your friends can and do read, I no longer have any friends, ex-friends with weapons,  I can now only see 3 people’s boards on Pinterst, what to do with your extra free time now that you have been banned by everyone on Pinterest)