Monthly Archives: October 2016

May Disturb Some Viewers

I have surrendered to persuasive reasoning and started practicing yoga. I do this in the confines of my own home for several reasons, but mostly for one. I’m just too embarrassed to take this show on the road. Like a one legged man in an ass kicking contest, I’m woefully unsuited for this exercise. However.

There are many practitioners on YouTube more than willing to share their skills. They don’t judge, either, but chatter on about lotus position, mountain pose and downward facing dog. The trouble for me starts with the first. I find the lotus position very uncomfortable. I’m not exaggerating when I say that the moon will sink permanently into the sea before I can sit with even one foot resting on the opposite thigh. Just tucking them underneath me hurts like #$%@&*:(

“Doesn’t swearing defeat the purpose of yoga?” my husband asks from his reclined position on the sofa. “I’m finding this very relaxing and you’re ruining the moment.” It’s true that he loves the yoga teacher’s voice, her bells, the soft background music. He falls asleep, thereby accomplishing the  relaxation element of the exercise.

My main problem is my ankles. In this, I’m not alone. At least one of my sisters has mentioned the same thing. Unlike the svelt, long limbed shape of your average Yogi, we’re built like lego people. Our hips and knees are jointed, but there’s not much give anywhere else.

So when I pull my feet close, I immediately start whining. Sometimes I have to pause the show so I can prepare for the next position. I pause, and then slowly unfold, often using my hands to move my feet. “Breath into your discomfort,’ the instructor says softly. Well, I only have so much breath to go around.

My knees  have a tendency to stick up like chicken wings during the lotus position. “Just use blocks or a pillow,” a wise friend offered. It helps, but still my knees refuse to drop. “You got us into this,’ they mutter darkly, ‘and you’re going to get us out of it.’ Hence, using my hands to re-position them.

I haven’t done yoga in fifteen years. Perhaps its too little, too late, but I’ll keep at it. Who knows? One of these days, my ankles could surprise me by co-operating. My sits bones could cease hollering when I don’t use a cushion. My knees could drop into place. Or, the moon could fall into the sea. The last is mostly likely, but if the first happens, I’ll be sure to let you know.

The Devil is Swedish. His Name is Ikea

We are an optimistic pair, my husband and I. Or maybe we’re just deluded. It’s entirely possible that enough time had passed since our last assembling experience that we’d forgotten what it was like.  For the third time in our lives, we spent an afternoon in purgatory.

It’s when we wander around the large store, staring at the simple, clean lines of Ikea’s furniture, that we get fooled. The fact that we can never find our way out of the store, even with a path of pointing arrows, should clue us in. But. ‘How hard can it be?’ we ask ourselves, even though we KNOW THE ANSWER. The pieces seem to come in three basic categories. Difficult, impossible, and nine floors of Hell.

First of all, MDF, their material of choice, weighs a ton. It’s only when we’re hauling the boxes up three flights of stairs that our backs remind us.  And the instructions. Clear drawings of screws, boards, even numbered pages, but no words. The screw drawings have numbers beside them, but when there are ten sets, it doesn’t help much. We peer through our reading glasses, desperately trying to identify one tiny set from the next without losing some. We always lose one screw for at least an hour. We find it by kneeling on it.

The boards are never labeled with simple A, B’s and C’s. Instead, you have to figure out if the tiny, randomly scattered holes match the ones in the diagram. After assembling our last bed frame, a king sized one in a bedroom much too small, we discovered the sides were wrong.  We had to undo about five steps before finally getting it right, which didn’t happen for three days.

When assembling furniture with your partner, you have to mind your relationship. How well can you work together when tension is rising, you’ve lost the only Allen wrench, and there are five nuts left at the end? You’ve worn your hottest, itchiest sweater, and climbing around the various pieces has become a game of twister where the other players are bitter, tired and blaming you for the purchase.

‘How could you forget?’ they say. “Me?’ you reply. ‘I told you I hate Ikea.” Blah blah, blah. Of course,  all is forgotten once the piece is assembled. Which is how I arrived at this point. It’s like really bad deja vu, only remembering once the box has been opened, the plastic ripped and the allen wrench lost.

Don’t be fooled by the spare, peacefully assembled rooms of the box store. There’s an Ikea employee somewhere, weeping and assembling Billy bookcases and examining his life choices. I feel his pain.

One Cake Over the Line, Sweet Jesus

Most days I do pretty well managing my wheat free, low sugar diet. I hate suffering through the hives, aching muscles, nausea and brain fog that accompany foods that don’t like me. It’s not just wheat. Gluten free crackers, cookies, and basically anything fun and well sugared also makes my body sad. Especially if I have more than one serving. Which, of course I do.

We had some delicious all natural chocolate truffles last night, along with chocolate chip, gluten free cookies. My body is busy slapping me upside the head today. Not that my brain will notice. It’s too busy wondering what the hell is happening and where I’m supposed to be and…what?

This has left me wondering about the following. How on earth do people smoke crack? Don’t these people have back aches the next day? Don’t they wonder if waking up in a Hell’s Angel’s clubhouse is worth it? Do addictions even allow us to ask any of the right questions, or do we have to follow blindly until we’re so sick that we can’t possibly shovel in another bite, or lift the pipe to our lips (if that’s what you use to smoke crack. I’m just guessing, here) or, if it’s internet porn, then…well.

The apostle Paul says in one of his letters,  “I can’t seem to do what I want to do. I keep doing things I don’t want to do!’ I know, Paul. I’m feeling your pain right now. Literally, I’m feeling your pain. We are all drawn to the dark side from time to time, whether it be food, drugs, video games or just fill in the blank.

The power of not being able to have, eat, or do something instantly makes the thing immensely attractive. Hanging out with people who are very strong willed helps, but my three year old granddaughter can only do so much for me. She can’t have wheat, either, but so far she seems to be okay with it. She’s too busy lobbying her parents for a pony.

We are all tempted by things that aren’t good for us. Perhaps if we were followed around by people holding ‘I Told You So’ signs, we’d at least put a little effort into some kind of resistance. What helps occasionally is when I think about all the times in the past when I was wrong.  It goes something like this.

Dear Mr. Sims, (my high school biology teacher, unfortunately passed away) you were right about tequila. Just say no. Well, you’d be glad to know I do that. Mostly.

Dear Dad, You were right about some teenage boys. Let’s just leave it there.

Dear friends who bug me to join yoga: The stiffness in my joints and back is seconding your argument. My resistance, along with my whole body, is weakening. Though I may be too weak to join. We’ll see.

Dear Donald Trump: Ha ha. Just kidding.

You need a multifaceted plan for resisting temptation. Like a team of supporters, or even shamers. Whatever it takes to get you through. Keeping all the forbidden fruit out of the house is usually a good idea. It would help me considerably if there were no birthday parties, no Christmas, Easter, Valentine’s Day, or Halloween. OMG. I’ve just realized I may have to change religions.The United Church is just too celebratory for my delicate constitution.

But onward and upward. I’m back on the food wagon, as of today, and feeling more convicted than ever. And for those of you who also let yourselves down, please feel free to join my pity party. Just don’t expect any cake.

I’ll celebrate the moment, instead, with this iconic, sadly unironic, moment from the Lawrence Welk Show. Thank you, John Scott, for this.











For Those Who Can’t Get It Up

I was reading the editorial from Maclean’s September 26th issue regarding online trolls, when I had a revelation. Since I’m Canadian, I’ll form it as an apology. I’m so sorry you can’t get it up. Maybe you never could. But perhaps a little encouragement, or even some information, will help you find success.

Let’s begin with those ultra-scary, sometimes annoying words, political correctness. Many don’t get it, never mind get it up. Others believe that behind those words lurks a monster so powerful, it will strip away everything great about you and your country. Allow me to provide a medication-free aid.

First, let’s clear up a few misunderstandings. I know you’ve avoided that fearful beast all your life, but here’s the good news. Political correctness is only about manners. Not your everyday manners, either. Go ahead and slurp your soup. Blow your nose on your shirt tail. This isn’t about that. It’s the behavior you show to others. The manners that allow you to disagree with someone’s opinion, lifestyle, religious/ sexual persuasion, or otherness, yet leave them feeling like you haven’t chopped off a limb. You leave them whole. ‘But I don’t want to!’ you might think. And I know. It’s hard.

Perhaps you’re remembering a time when it was just fine using words like bohunk, chink, or fag. Maybe you told lavish jokes about people with disabilities. ‘It’s my wacky sense of humour!’ you’d say, feeling nostalgia for those days. You know, back when your country was great.

‘Doesn’t she know what Jesus says?’ you might think. Why yes, I do. But if you slavishly follow the Pat Robertsons, Ann Coulters or others on the hate parade, you’ll derail yourself with such wild emotion that you can’t get it up anymore. Good manners become a bridge too far. But there’s a way to get there.

Take yourself back to childhood. If you were taught to walk a mile in another’s shoes, then bingo. You’re back in the game. Even on the internet, where ordinarily you’d act like Attila the Hun wiping out a whole city, you’ll find yourself picturing the person on the other end of your diatribe. You’ll hear their point of view. You might even feel empathy. (feel free to gasp. It’s gasp worthy.)

You may not agree with the person in question, but because you’re employing your manners, ie: political correctness, you leave that person believing there’s still some civility left in the world. When we employ a little political correctness, then like a Christmas morning Grinch, our hearts grow a few sizes. We become greater, and our countries do too, no matter our financial or social position. Because greatness is more about civility and heart than anything else.

For those unable to stop the online vitriol, those who can’t empathize with people NOT EXACTLY THE SAME, then again, I apologize. I’m so sorry for your loss. I grieve your inability to get it up, and hope that someone is able to help you. Perhaps you could check in with Jesus, (the real one from the bible.) He has really great ideas. Yes, he floored a lot of people with all that talk about forgiveness, and loving your brother. Your neighbor. Everyone, really.

But remember this. We’re all rooting for you. All of us who make mistakes and occasionally forget our manners. We understand that the world works better when we behave with kindness and respect. It’s not easy. But at the end of the day, according to Ram Dass, we’re all just walking each other home. Keeping each other company on the journey of life, which is relatively short, and often hard. Strip away all the other nonsense and remember that. You might find yourself rising to the occasion, after all.