Summer’s coming and I don’t think I should be made to feel I have to look any different than I already do. So I wrote a column about it. Because . . . that’s just how I roll. Also, doughnuts.
You can read it HERE.
Summer’s coming and I don’t think I should be made to feel I have to look any different than I already do. So I wrote a column about it. Because . . . that’s just how I roll. Also, doughnuts.
You can read it HERE.
On Monday I decided to start the Paleo diet.
For those of you who aren’t familiar with the recent Paleo craze, basically, you can eat anything you want so long as cavemen ate it.
Which, in my case, is not anything I want at all.
Did you know that cavemen didn’t eat cake or cheese? Right? They should tell you that before you sign up.
Anyway, here I am, eating chicken on top of stupid spinach 1700 times a day and complaining.
Now — I go gluten free, sugar free, dairy free, alcohol free, food free enough that this shouldn’t really be bothering me as much as it is. Normally I just Google pictures of Jessica Simpson circa Dukes of Hazzard and I’m gung-ho to pass on the long john with rainbow sprinkles, but not this time.
This time the bikini-prep is irking me.
It’s not just the bikini-prep though — I can handle a doughnut and Gouda craving — It’s everything. Everything is irking me. Everything has been irking me for the last week (or three.) And yeah, I feel like if I could eat a whole wheel of brie smothered in red chilli jam and drink half a bottle (OK, a full bottle) of red wine that things would be better. So what.
That’s not the point of this post, though. I’m not venting.
(OK, I was originally going to vent.)
You see, in the midst of this irky, moody, pathetic, anxious, mopey, stressed out slump (wait . . . weren’t those the names of Snow White’s . . . nevermind) I’m in, I started to seek out inspiration from my favorite blogging heroines. You know, the personal go-to’s we all keep on our toolbar who so often tell us things we already knew but still needed to hear.
And that’s when I realized that it isn’t just me. My entire blogging world is equally as hunched over right now.
Some people are blaming the bizarre and long winter we’ve had, some people are blaming the planets and others still are blaming the stars. Some people are even blaming the fact that 2013 was just so amazing that we are all failing to accept the disappointment of a fresh new year. I don’t know, I don’t know what it is. But I like the fact that I’m not alone.
So we read Gretchen Rubin’s (originally I had Gretchen Wilson’s name here. Because . . . Country music apparently is always on my mind) The Happiness Project, we write out things we’re thankful for, we search for “happiness quotes” on Pinterest . . .
We understand gravity (er‚ the basics anyway) and that what goes up must come down — we just wish we were told when. But that part isn’t up to us.
What’s up to us is the way we act despite our slump.
There are always going to be mornings where it’s easier to stay in bed than get out. Heck, I had a vivid nightmare last night that I had to change the diaper of a baby bear and I still didn’t want to get out of bed this morning.
These days (weeks/months/years) come whether we’re ready for them or not. The best we can do is recognize we’re in it together — because we are in it together — and focus on the little things.
Tell me your little things,
(& then tweet me and convince me to cheat and have that long john . . . J/K, I already ate a cookie today.)
One of the results of living so deeply involved in the self-help age is the idea that selfishness is something we are not only permitted, but entitled to.
I whole-heartedly accept this consolation as justification. In fact, I’ve worked extremely hard toward it. I’ve been intentionally selfish for a very long time because I’ve been told that in order to succeed, selfishness is a key ingredient.
It sounds harsh when spit out like that — but I don’t believe that selfishness is a bad thing. I believe that people waste far too many days of their limited number worrying only about what other people think/do/feel/see.
Being selfish doesn’t mean never picking up the cheque or neglecting to send birthday cards. It doesn’t mean you don’t care, it just means that your priority — for the time being — is yourself. And let’s face it, as a twenty-something in a fast paced world, the priority kind of has to land on you at some point or you’re going to end up SOL.
So we wrap our minds around the fact that selfishness will act as a catalyst for success, for innovation, for happiness and we cancel our plans for the night at the last minute because what we really need is a three hour bubble bath and a soundtrack by Ella Fitzgerald.
We do this all the time — and for the most part, it works. Opportunity comes our way, we feel happy, we feel like we’re moving on up. We credit our inner Madonna and say “yeah, whatever, I’m a bitch, but I’m busy becoming great.”
But, as life is prone to do, monkey wrenches have a funny way of hurling themselves into our selfish existences prompting us to use a different playing card.
It’s the one thing on earth that has a zero per cent success rate when selfishness is applied.
Love — for all mankind, for family, for friends, even for oneself — does not flourish in an environment of me. In fact, it flounders.
The word “unconditional” is one the selfish person (me) dreads. It encompasses the idea that no matter your whims — your personal needs, your desires — that someone else possess the right to veto them. This fear of the unconditional is merely an extension of the selfishness I have created my current life around. Love isn’t about ownership — it’s about partnership.
But I have never been a team player.
So how does one enter into a loving relationship with anyone — be them a stranger on the street who needs a smile, a family member in ill health, or a significant other — without giving up all the values of self that enable us to feel whole, successful, and driven? Because that’s what we want isn’t it? To feel independent and self-assured and “free” but to also feel respected, needed, appreciated, adored, loved.
It’s a hard question. It’s a question I can’t answer. It’s a question I most certainly cannot answer fast enough to affect change on my life this very moment, no matter how desperately I want to be the woman who puts others before herself.
But I’ve been trying — and here’s the theory I’ve developed for myself.
What we want when we take on selfishness as a face is to feel respected, needed, appreciated, adored, and loved. That’s why we do it. We want to feel good so we take on the responsibility ourselves. But what if we trusted love the way we’re meant to and accepted that our only job was to bestow those feelings upon the people we cared about, and that love — this all encompassing, all accepting, unconditional being — would, in return, bestow the same upon us?
Life would be simpler. People would be happier.
It’s just a theory.
The other night I sat down to watch a movie with The Reporter — it was Field of Dreams, a childhood favorite of his. I had never seen the movie before, nor did I have any great desire to, but I did it because his eyes sparkled when he realized it was on On Demand.
There’s this great series of scenes near the beginning in which sexy Kevin Costner starts hearing voices that tell him to build a baseball field, so three minutes later he’s building one.
His wife and daughter look at him like he’s crazy, but they help him clear the corn.
I was in one of my selfish moods — probably thinking about how I wished he kept popcorn in his apartment or something — and I said, “It’s so ridiculous that his wife doesn’t even blink an eye. There’s no explanation for what or why he’s feeling or hearing these things — she just goes along with it.”
Not even a second passed before he responded.
“Yeah,” he said. “That’s love.”
That’s love, he said. It’s safe, he said.
It’s OK for me to put my trust in something other than myself.
Selflessness has the same outcome.
Back in September I wrote a blog post about how I was deciding to live minimally and refusing to buy a couch.
When I say I was refusing to buy a couch, what I really meant was I preferred to eat as opposed to have something squishy to sit on while I ate. Money isn’t really one of my playing cards these days.
So, I made the best of it. I set up a corner of my living room that was dedicated to having a permanent floor bed and I rejoiced in the idea that — one day — when I was a mother of three and financially responsible enough to own Anthropolgie furniture while at the same time still able to afford lunch meat, I could give my kids epic story times.
“I remember when I was so poor I had to use my carpet as a couch and eat rice noodles and soya sauce four nights a week!”
And they’d be all “Mom! You own, like, forty pairs of Louboutins. That did NOT happen.”
But that day dream got boring REAL quick, seeing as I don’t plan on having kids for another . . . very long time.
So, still being poor, I added an extra activity to my morning routine. After I had coffee and planned my imaginary life for 20 minutes on Pinterest, I would scour the less-than-$100 couch section of Kijiji.
I have been scouring the less-that-$100 couch section on Kijiji since November — that’s how shitty the less-than-$100 couch section on the Kamloops, British Columbia Kijiji is.
My apartment started to make me angry because all it housed was 1000 books and 100 pairs of heels. And a cat (who, if you can’t tell from the above picture, is about the size of my entire apartment #fat).
My productivity dwindled down to nothing when I was at home because I was just so much more tempted to look up “how to make an empty apartment look full” as opposed to writing papers on the chivalric code.
I realized that — whether I was a fake minimalist or not (not)— in order to be “happy” at home, home had to feel like home. And — whether I liked it or not (not) — deep in my heart I knew that my home needed a couch.
That’s why, four days ago, when I saw the most perfectly hideous, but also totally presh couch and chair set for sale by the cutest old couple ever I chose not to pay my phone bill, and why I am now currently being productive on my brand new-old floral print couch.
I feel like a new woman.
And no, not because I’m sitting on the most hipster couch ever.
I feel like a new woman because I allowed myself to listen to what it was I felt I really needed, despite how trivial it seemed.
It’s my experience that we have a hard time doing that for ourselves. We tell ourselves that we are going to remain minimalistic, because it’s practical. We tell ourselves to only get an Americano as opposed to a white chocolate mocha, because who really needs to drink 500 calories when you can drink 0 and still get a buzz.
It goes back to that old parental statement I got all the time growing up — you don’t NEED it, Andria. You WANT it.
Maybe. Maybe I didn’t need a couch, because my carpet was perfectly functional. Maybe I did just wantone.
But what’s the difference if what you want makes positive changes in your life?
Waking up this morning and walking into my living room that now appears to actually be a living room, I knew I had fixed something that had been irking me since I moved in. It wasn’t that I wanted a couch, I simply needed a home.
Sometimes our whims are the best indication of what it is that’s really eating us.
So, if I was you, I’d just get the white chocolate mocha already and see what happens.
The other night I sent a provocative selfie.
Why? Because I’m a badass. Or, because I was bored and the mirror was right there. Or, because I was feeling skinny. Or, because it was requested.
I don’t know why, but I did it.
I do not make a habit out of sending seductive photographs to people. I have a strict relationship or no rule. Probably because that’s supposed to ensure there’s some sort of unspoken no sharing policy.
I always seem to forget relationships end on occasion, and sometimes they end badly, but so far I haven’t been confronted with any internet surprises. [LUCK.]
The naked selfie (nelfie? no? I’ll keep working on that) is a huge issue right now. The whole question surrounding whether or not it’s child pornography if a minor possesses a picture of a minor, or if it’s distribution of child pornography if a minor sends a photo to another minor is making cyber-bullying and persecuting those involved extremely difficult.
But, the nelfie isn’t going to stop any time soon. People are able to conduct entire relationships via technology these days, and that’s a beautiful, beautiful thing. Sooner or later in these relationships, technology ceases to appear as an unfamiliar barrier and becomes a tool. A tool that, between consenting adults, is totally hot.
But I’m not conducting a relationship between Canada and Afghanistan. I’m conducting a relationship between Canada and 5km away.
I hit send anyhow.
He responded within three minutes.
I’m sorry. What?
No. Unacceptable. Absolutely not. You do not get to use the word “excellent” when responding to a nelfie.
Before The Reporter corrected himself with the appropriate response, I spent a solid three minutes filled with the deepest regret I have ever experienced — and one time, I convinced a drunk guy I had been to Thailand and it changed my life and he needed to book a plane ticket, and he did book it, in front of me that night, with his wedding money, and I have still never been to Thailand (I am so sorry if I ruined your life, Todd.)
I thought it was a good picture. I was happy with it. I wasn’t ashamed of how I looked. I had spent five minutes doing pre-sit-ups, and finding the perfect back bend that elongated my torso but did make me look like I was about to enter Camel pose. I looked good, I’m not going to lie to you.
But then, then he says “excellent.”
All the confidence I had in myself was immediately blown up and passed — in a million pieces — to someone else to manipulate. And if you have ever been handed a shattered-confidence jigsaw puzzle, you know it’s damn near impossible to complete.
Three minutes was all it took for me to go from feeling like Beyonce to feeling like Amanda Bynes in rehab. Sober, passed her prime and sad.
It wasn’t worth it.
Even when he took his foot out of his mouth it wasn’t worth it.
I understand that there are times in life where we have to put ourselves out there — risk failure, risk criticism, risk a soul-shattering outcome. These are the circumstances under which I get to say “be not afraid” and “what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger” and “if you’ve never failed you’ve never tried” and “stop being a pussy!”
But there are other times when your safe little harbored ship is probably better off staying out of the 40 foot waves. Being happy with yourself should be good enough. To need someone else to validate or confirm what you already see in yourself is going to end in disaster.
If you want to send nelfies because you’re super hot and of legal naked age, be my guest. You’ll make some people out there very happy. I’m one of them.
But my self-love is still balancing on one foot, and I’ve worked so hard to get here, I’m not going to risk toppling over for the thrill of someone else saying “dayum girrrl.”
Which, might I remind you, wasn’t even what he said.
HE SAID “EXCELLENT.”
When I enter a yoga class, I expect three things to occur instantaneously.
One: I expect my nostrils to be filled with the scent of organic rubber mats and tea tree oil. Or Eucalyptus. Or Jasmine. Or some other hippie scent that is both “soothing and naturally antibacterial.”
Two: I expect my breathing to become more intentional thanks to the impending pressure of Savasana and having to wrestle with my inner thoughts when all I really want to do is fall asleep.
Three: I expect there to be complete and utter silence.
In Vancouver, the protocol in yoga studios is like second nature. You just know that no one’s going to steal your cell phone from the change room, no one’s going to judge you if they can see through your tights, and it’s obvious that when you get into the studio you’re supposed to fold your legs and shut up. It’s second nature to us because we’re all tree huggers.
The other day, I went to a yoga class that started this way: silent, purposeful, tea-tree-smelling.
I set my intention: I wanted to feel mindful.
I went through the poses. Upside down baby, downward dog, warrior, warrior 2, cobra, blah blah blah.
Throughout the movements I was becoming increasingly aware that the woman behind me was beginning to break my silence boundary with her breathing.
I understand deep breathing. I have anxiety issues, I’m all about deep breathing. Also, I get it if you want to do breath of fire. That shit’s noisy sometimes. But this was not a panic attack, this was not breath of fire, and this wasn’t even Bikram – it was Hatha – and it didn’t exactly require gasping for air.
By the last 3 minutes of the longest Savasana ever, the noises coming from behind me were similar to those that I would imagine a woman battling first-birth contractions would sound like; they were long, low, painful sounding exhales.
While at first I wanted to tell her to shut up, I began to wonder if she was struggling with some sort of invisible demon and if this was her coping mechanism. I refuse to judge how someone heals. So I let her breathe.
In. OOOOUUUUUUUUT LIKE A FUCKING DRAGON. In. OOOOOUUUUUTTTT LIKE A FUCKING DRAGON.
These were serious demons.
At the end of the class, we sat while preparing ourselves to create a sea of Oms. Deep breath in, exhale Om. I didn’t mind if the dragon lady breathed loudly during Om-ing.
Deep breath in. Exhale, OM.
Excuse me? What in the shit is THAT?
The dragon lady had decided to extend her loud-mouthed practice to her Oms. She sat there, insuring she was the first to start the Om and the last to finish it. She belted it like she was singing Handel’s Messiah at the Christmas morning service the Pope was attending.
I got over it. At least she masked the half-hearted Oms I was chanting out of fear the cute guy beside me would misjudge my spiritual intent. I could handle loud Oms.
After what seemed like an eternity of the highest-decibel Oms I have ever encountered, we reached the last one.
OOOHHHMMMMM she started, again louder than all the others.
And then, upon the final “mmmm,” she decided to switch it up.
I heard her find the third and then I listened to her struggle and, finally, land upon the perfect fifth of what she presumed the “average” note of the body of Oms to be.
She harmonized an Om.
I got it, at that moment. Her intent during her Hatha class hadn’t been to center herself or to find inner peace, or to slowly stretch out cold muscles, or to battle twenty year old demons. It had been to prove something to herself.
In a class full of 30 yuppies dressed in the newest and brightest yoga gear, this middle-aged woman in Adidas track pants decided to be bold, & I dare say I think that she met her intention, unlike myself who wanted to come out of class feeling “mindful” (what does that even mean?!)
Needless to say, the next time you hear someone harmonizing an Om in the back row of an over-priced drop-in class, it’ll probably be me – trying to succeed for the first time ever at reaching my intention.
Belt it, sister.
The Om | Lessons In Being Bold From The Loudmouth In Hatha Yoga http://t.co/s5nuyuacEN
— Andria Parker (@byAndriaParker) December 17, 2013
I was pretty adamant about having a low key Birthday this year. I mean, I’m 26 now, which is closer to 30 than it is to 20 and I figure by 30 I’m supposed to have my act together and whatever, so the last thing I wanted was to blow into 26 like the hot mess I was at 19, 20, 21, 22, 23, 24, 25….
So, I didn’t. I didn’t make plans and I didn’t set expectations. I simply put on a costume, got kind of pre-drunk with my Mom, and then went downtown to do god knows what and not give two hoots.
It wasn’t until I woke up the next morning that I spotted the differences. In my mind, my birthday was great! I didn’t get arrested, my falsies stayed on, I didn’t cry and I remembered the entire thing. It’s a sad day when those are the things you base a good birthday on, but there you have it. I woke up 26 and one day and I was impressed with myself (if you remember my 25th birthday post, you’ll remember that I woke up the morning after my birthday to a cell phone that had been cut off because I hadn’t paid my bill for four months and a half eaten Big Mac beside me on my pillow – progress).
Then I got onto the Greyhound bus and thought about my night through the entire ride. Turns out, that without doing so on purpose, I did a lot of things on my 26th birthday that indicated I was actually getting older.
I wore Spanx for the first time. Granted, I borrowed them from my Mom and mostly because the sequins on my dress were really scratchy, but I’m not making excuses. I totally looked like I had Beyonce curves for a night so I don’t even care. I’ll spanx it any day.
I went to a bar alone. Kind of. I had a friend working there. But for the first 15 minutes before he joined me I was just standing there awkwardly in my costume by myself, chugging wine in the corner, feeling strangely smug of the independant progress I’d made over the last year.
I text my high school boyfriend and told him for the tenth birthday in a row that I was SO
done. (But I totally meant it this time, which indicates maturity or something of the like, right?)
I didn’t eat McDonalds. In fact, I left the house at 8:30pm and didn’t eat anything until brunch the next day. This is huge. What was huge-r though was my not-so-acute dissapointment in not finding half a cheeseburger in my Marc Jacobs purse. I like to tweet morning-after-McDonald’s pics so that was a bit of a social media let-down.
I Tinder-ed. All over the place. Like I’m pretty sure my finger was swiping left in my sleep last night. This is way more mature than drunk texting because first of all, you don’t know the person and second of all, because you can just block them if you’re so embarassed and never have to face the dreaded no response.
I took my make-up off before I passed out. This…. is the day that pigs fly, my friends.
So that was my 26th birthday. The first birthday in 7 years I haven’t woken up with a wish to start all over. The only thing I regret was not asking for Spanx as a present.
xo & yw