Littering almost Killed my dog… again. 

So, there is no shortage of littering in the neighbourhood where I walk my dog, Riker. There are loads of festivals, carnivals, concerts and tourist attractions in the area all year long and while the need to do so is rage inducing, I have become quite adept at playing “dodge-the-death-pile” with Riker.

There have been overflowing garbage cans, garbage cans with holes in them or sometimes just not enough garbage cans for the amount of people (read trash) coming into the area. What ends up on the street and in our path when that happens? Well, next to the seemingly harmless paper wrappers and plastic bottles, there are used food containers (usually with left over, dirty, dangerous food waste) such as,  but by no means limited to: fish, sausage, bread, bubble gum, chips, crisps, chocolate and of course empty or even shattered alcohol bottles, the smell of which attracts dogs who don’t realize that both alcohol and glass can kill them. So we do our best to dodge these disasters.


But there doesn’t have to be an event for regular old ignorance to rear its ugly head and become the unwitting assistant to a swift doggy demise. Tonight’s attempted culprit? An entire bar of chocolate.

We were walking home along the back of the Odyssey Pavillon, when Riker went sniffing through what looked like fallen leaves. I had to bust into a sprint to get to him (he has an 8m long leash to allow for playing) when I saw one of the “leaves” go straight into his mouth. As I caught up to him he seemed super excited and anxious to stop me from wrestling what ever sneaky treat he’d found away from him. He jumped and twisted and even tried snapping at me, but that meant he had to open his mouth and that was just enough for me to get my hand in there – I had to go all the way back to his throat and I pulled out this monstrosity:


Here is the bar next to my hand for reference:

Do you know what chocolate and sugar do to dogs? If so, you’ll understand my horror… if not… let me break it down for you real quick:

“A small amount of chocolate will probably only give your dog an upset stomach with vomiting or diarrhea. With large amounts, theobromine can produce muscle tremors, seizures, an irregular heartbeat, internal bleeding or a heart attack. The onset of theobromine poisoning is usually marked by severe hyperactivity.

In large enough amounts, chocolate and cocoa products can kill your dog. The toxic component of chocolate is theobromine. Humans easily metabolize theobromine, but dogs process it much more slowly, allowing it to build up to toxic levels in their system.”

http://www.hillspet.com/en/us/dog-care/nutrition-feeding/is-chocolate-bad-for-dogs

And sugar:

Xylitol – A sugar alcohol found in gum, candies, baked goods, and other sugar-substituted items, Xylitol, while causing no apparent harm to humans, is extremely toxic to dogs. Even small amounts can cause low blood sugar, seizures, liver failure, even death for your pup.”

http://www.caninejournal.com/foods-not-to-feed-dog/

So yeah – leaving that lying around is DEADLY!!!

Here’s the deal, if you litter, not only are you an asshole who doesn’t care about societal norms and the environment, but in 99% of cases you are endangering animals, including other people’s pets. End of. No excuses.

Oh, it wasn’t you? You think your kid dropped it? I’m sorry if this is a little blunt for you, but if your offspring is too uncoordinated to eat and walk at the same time (or too little to just not throw junk out of their buggies) they shouldn’t be eating junk while travelling then!!! By all means, give your kids snacks if they’re hungry; apples, bananas, carrots, celery sticks… you get the picture?

If you insist that they DO need to be eating sugary junk while in transit, through shared public spaces, fine, but you better watch them like a hawk and pick up any mess they make. I pick up my dog’s faeces for the greater good of society around me for crying out loud, you can bloody well pick up any garbage your mini human throws around. It’s not just dirty, it’s bloody dangerous and yes I am swearing because I am f*cking livid!! If I hadn’t have wrestled that piece of garbage out of my dogs throat… omg … the possible consequences aren’t even thinkable!! Why did this happen? Because someone was an ignorant asshat!

Just know this: if you litter, you’re an asshole. If you encourage children to litter, you’re an even bigger asshole, nay a cunt even, and if I catch you doing either, I’ll make sure to publicly shame the shit out of you. We clear on that? 😡

Holy crap…

Now, to watch my poor puppers for the next couple hours to make sure he has no side effects from what ever he did manage to swallow. 😢

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Control your dog!

So, there are unspoken but universally accepted rules to owning and walking a dog. Most of them, I thought, were inherently obvious such as “pick up your dog’s mess” and “keep your dog under control”. Apparently these things are not as obvious to other people as they are to my dog owning friends and myself, though. 😦

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Here is today’s tale: There’s this lady in our neighborhood in Belfast, with an oversized white fluffy dog; I know its name but for privacy reasons let’s just call the dog “D”. It’s a giant teddy bear of a thing, I can’t quite judge it’s breed, but he’s friendly as all things; he just has zero manners and she is 100% NOT in control, always getting dragged behind him like a rag doll.

A few weeks ago there was an incident where he was so rambunctious, that he tore his own leash, leaving her to wrestle him by the collar. My Derek, being the gentleman that he his, leant the lady our spare leash and told her to just bring it back once she’d bought herself a new one. She was all grateful, we got the leash back, no problem – end of that story.

However today, as in 30-ish minutes ago, I was walking Riker and saw her; today I have lots to do and do not have the patience for the leash tangled mess that always happens whenever we bump into them so I choose a different route. At the local main attraction though, where all the dogs go walking, I’m talking to my Mum on the phone, via my headset so that I have free hands for puppy, when suddenly my headphones are ripped out of my ears by Riker’s leash getting tangled in them as he tries to hide behind me!!!!

“D” was OFF LEASH and his never-in-control owner was about 60m away, near the street! Now, “D” wasn’t being aggressive or anything, but he’s 4 times the size of Riker and off leash, trying his best to get his nose right up in Rikers ass for a good sniff! Riker can’t get away fast enough and I’m completely tangled in leash, cable and foreign fur!!!

I call out to her asking for help; her reply? “Just stay still! It’s what dogs do!” I yell back that she has to control her dog and come help me, she says “I am!”… (?) … She then gets to us and pulls her dog away, so I say “if you can’t control your dog he belongs on a leash, that’s why mine’s not allowed off leash yet!” What does she reply? “Well maybe you need to train your dog better.” with a sneer.

Excuse me? I need to train MY dog better?? We just got accosted by YOUR beast and it scared the wits out of both my Riker and me!

She then has the audacity to pull her dog away, proclaiming loudly for all to hear “come on “D”, clearly that doggy’s not allowed to play.”

It took all my self control to not to start an all out screaming match. I was livid; still am!

I knew I was going to get ugly if I stayed, so I stormed away, cutting poor Riker’s walk short.

How dare she? Clearly she didn’t recognise me or Riker, because she normally plays all cute and coy when we meet her… good to see what people are really like when they don’t know who you are!

Lessons learned? Other people are still assholes; don’t let a coy misdemeanor fool you.

Please please please, if your dog can not be vocally controlled leave them on their leashes. It’s not safe for them (traffic, rivers, other maybe not so friendly dogs or dog owners) and it’s dangerous for other dogs and people. Some people and other dogs, can be terrified by your dog, have allergies or react aggressively in defense.

Please remember that not all dogs like to be approached like that! I’m lucky because Riker is very social and he didn’t react aggressively but that could have easily turned ugly and I blame her 100% for all the risk!!!

Here are two great little posters I found online that outlines safe dog approach rules, if you’re a dog owner, or live near dogs, please take a moment to familiarize yourself with these guidelines.


I really hope that this insane lady, gets a better grip (literally) on poor Big “D” before something awful were to happen to him. I am terrified that he might run into traffic, or the water or antagonize the wrong dog… it’s not his fault his owner doesn’t know how to handle him. 😦

Riker and I are now curled on the couch, where he’s sleeping off the small shock.


Thanks for reading and thanks for being responsible dog owners. xx 

Under 25 and married – and I love being a wife!

You know the situation, if you haven’t been in it yourself, you might have witnessed it, either in real life or on TV… a young person is in the throws of telling their colleague/acquaintance about their plans for the weekend involving their spouse and all of a sudden there is this outraged request for clarification: “You’re married?”

Mr & MrsI hate it when that happens; since I am never really sure what they are implying. Am I not attractive enough in your eyes for anyone to want me? Do I appear too incompetent to sign the contract? Or were you maybe eyeing me up as a potential mate yourself and are now displeased?

Common sense and past experiences dictate that this baffled question will immediately followed by some line that runs along the line of “Aren’t you a little young to be married?

To which I usually eloquently reply: No.

Legally speaking, most western countries allow marriage at the age of 18 (we are still working on legalizing this magical affair for all people, but we’re getting there)… If you’re over the age of 18 (in most countries) you are old enough to: drive a car, buy and drink hard liquor, have a job/be responsible for your own taxes and in some (insane) places even to buy a weapon of some sort. And guess what? You’re also old enough to marry… so no, I am not too young but you can check my ID if it pleases you.

Do you think it stops there? You did? Oh you’re cute… no no, this is then followed with an indignant string of interrogations about whether my feelings are true, and how do I know I love him and how can I be sure I did the right thing at such a young age. Let’s put this to bed once and for all, shall we?Titanic Walk

First of all, there is no “ideal” age for marriage. Some marriages begin at 18 and last to 22, others at 18 and last to 80. Some marriages begin at 35 and only last to 40, some at 35 and go on to 90… There is no ideal age. Next!

How do I know I am ready? How did you know you were ready??

We are happy. We cook together and for one another, we share the adult responsibilities so that we can enjoy being dorky childish goofballs together, quicker. We watch movies together (even the ones we don’t really like, but we know it will make the other happy). I know what soup he needs when he’s sick. He knows what comfort food to make me when I’ve had a shitty day… he anthropomorphizes my cuddly animals and gives them personalities which is very handy if we have one of our very rare arguments… who can say no to Maple bear? Maple

He makes me laugh every day. Makes me feel loved and appreciated. He sends me emails at work, just to check in and see how I am doing, and he has dinner ready for me if he gets home before I do. We go on adventures together. We’ve been backpacking, and family visiting and staying in luxury castles … together we have been to: Jasper, Vancouver, London, several towns in Germany, Rome, Salzburg, Dublin, Lough Eske Castle, the Causeway Coastal Route and Switzerland. We are now planning our trips to Edinburgh, the west coast of Ireland and France.

twelthcolusseumSt. Patricks

He always has my back and I always have his. We poke fun at each other as only best friends can , play video games together, as well as backgammon, chess and pool… we go for walks and bike rides and we just laze on the sofa in each others company.

I love how he warms me up before we go to sleep (I get awfully cold) and watching him in the last moments of his dreams in the morning, just before we get up. I always wake up to kisses.

IMG_0728Even the mundane things have become special since we’ve been married… I need to clean the kitchen anyway, but now I know that he’ll love seeing the kitchen all sparkly (so that he can mess it up again while cooking dinner) and that makes me smile. He does so much for me all the time and we take great care of each other.

So no, I don’t think that I am too young to be married at all. I think I am incredibly lucky to have found my partner, the one that makes me laugh and smile, and feel loved and protected, this early in life… so that (hopefully) we get to enjoy each others company for decades to come.

And if that still isn’t good enough for you… well… you know that little expression that starts with “fu” and ends in “off”? 😉

portrush

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Thanks so much for reading and take care. xoxox

5 News Articles that got my attention this week…

The News are always overflowing… the good, the bad and the ugly sides of humanity (usually the latter) flowing from page to screen and back again in a never ending attempt to get our attention and remind us that we don’t live in our own little isolated bubbles; as much as many of us wish that to be the case.

This week, 5 articles in particular leapt off the screen at me with such ferocity that I felt like I had been punched in the gut with their impact. Some of these have a very broad implication with a massive impact, others are very localized… but they stuck with me all the same and have had me brooding and talking all week, so here they are, the 5 News Articles that got my attention this week, for better or for worse.

#5 – Airbnb rental that went horribly wrong in Calgary, AB, Canada

Find the article here: http://goo.gl/PRKq23

This article made me angry due to the very obvious disrespect and gut-wrenchingly antisocial behaviour that was put on display here. An individual rented someone else’s home (under the guise of needing accommodation for a wedding in town) with the intention of using it to host a drug fuelled orgy. The furniture has been obliterated and the house is covered in booze, drugs, vomit, urine (and worse) from rafter to baseboards. How is this family supposed to go back to their life there?

The rental agreement did come with insurance, so the family will have the cleaning expenses covered by AirBnB but surely that won’t be enough. They need new beds, and the carpets need replacing… what about their children’s cuddly toys and clothes? Things that have been irrevocably violated?

Not only am I so disgusted at the act itself, that my words fall utterly short to describe it, but I am horrified at the fact that the responsible party will not be adequately punished for this. A $5000 (roughly £2690) fine is all this bastard is going to get for completely ruining someone’s home, whereas I think he should have to be made to pay for all the damages. In addition to this I believe that he should be charged with fraud, and all of his guests should be charged for he illegal drug use right along with him.

This just still has ben shaking my head…

#4 – Man with collapsed Lung turned away from Medi-Clinic, Edmonton, AB, Canada 

Read full article here: http://goo.gl/3rXt1U 

Short version: A Medi- Centre in Edmonton turned away a young man who was in pain, because he did not bring his Alberta (provincial) health care card. They claimed that they couldn’t treat him without it and sent him away, saying that they did not believe him to be in enough distress to warrant that they take a look at him without the basic health insurance.

By the time he finally got to a hospital, it was established that he has a collapsed lung and could have died.

There are several reasons why this really struck me; for one this man was clearly discriminated against (he wasn’t offered the pay cash option for a Dr. to see him) and this was most likely due to his rugged, bearded, tattooed appearance which is unacceptable. Secondly, even though the Hippocratic Oath is no longer legally binding, breaking it is considered malpractice in most western cultures and this young man could have died of his undiagnosed injury. How is this acceptable?

Finally, it hits me the most through personal experiences with this very system. These are private stories, which are not mine to share, but suffice it to say that due to similar decisions made by similar clinics and hospitals people who are very close to me have been put at risk, are suffering long term pain from malpractice, have had to pay extortionate amounts of money to have their injured children tended to and I personally have an incorrectly healed crack in my left ankle (specifically some unidentified part of the tarsometatarsal articulations), which has left me struggling to walk or dance for extended periods of time without my ankles becoming weak and painful.

Te fact that any modern medical system is allowed to treat people this way disgusts me. I feel awful for this young man’s experiences and grateful that he will be okay now. I just wish there was a way to stop this from happening to others in the future.

#3 – French Teen told her skirt too long to go to school, France

Read full story here: http://goo.gl/vicptl

France has a very strict secularist law by which religion and state are strictly separated. This practice is called Laïcité and has a very long (and debated) history in France. Now, to be perfectly honest, I agree with this basic idea and feel that religion and state should be separated, especially in this modern age where there is simply too much diversity among people to force any one group’s beliefs onto all.

In France things have gone a little far though; in addition to removing a uniformed morning prayer from schools, students and teachers alike are not allowed to display “religious symbols” this means that Muslim girls and women are not allowed to come to school (or work) wearing a Hijab and Christian people are forbidden from openly displaying a cross or rosary (among many others of course). This goes a touch far in my opinion, and what is completely insane is this particular article… a teenage girl was wearing a long skirt (a plain black skirt) to school and was told that it was too long!

Allegedly, her skirt was so long that it implied a religious meaning and that it was thus too provocative and so she needed to leave. Ex-fucking-cuse me???

So now we’re telling our young women that they need to show more skin to get an education??? That is not only Xenophobic beyond all measure but is sexist and sexual harassment all wrapped into one nasty case of human indecency.

I don’t even know what else to say… I am just horrified.

#2 – Gay Marriage rejected by Northern Ireland Storming assembly, Belfast, NI

Read full article here: http://goo.gl/YgBlqI

Homophobia is rampant in this country; the government were even discussing a “conscience law“.

Misinformed and ignorant people are being kept in fear by religious insanity and paired with a deep rooted suspicion of anyone who is different from oneself (within one’s own population never mind the migrants that move here) have created a volatile cocktail of fear, suspicion and intolerance.

I have no idea how to address this without getting sad, bitter and weepy – but the fact that a European Union member state can still deny basic human rights (don’t get me started on the abortion issue) makes me sick to my stomach.

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I hate leaving things on a sour note, so here is the most AWESOME story I have read this week:

#1 – Audi creates a clean Diesel, made of water and carbon dioxide, Germany 

Read the full article here: http://goo.gl/dQEyUS

I am just going to leave this one right here to be awesome. Clean Diesel? Maybe I need an Audi after all. 😀

Thanks for bearing with me through something new.

Thanks for reading and take care. xoxo

We just have to want to.

There’s a fascinating video making the rounds again called “Live Life the Real Way”… I appreciate the sentiment in it, I really do… as a generation we struggle with our digital and real life identities; how to keep them apart while staying truly connected and if you haven’t seen it yet, it’s totally worth a watch. I’ll link it here: https://youtu.be/zA5SK0usRZE

But I also felt a real need t respond to it somehow. To point out some things that I noticed, and so on my way home from work today these words came to me which I want to share with you now.

Please forgive me if the rhyme structure isn’t perfect; it’s been quite a few years since my last English class.

Here we go….

Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.09.11 PM

We just have to want to. 

Everywhere I look,
Email Twitter or Facebook

I see it being said,
that all this media is messing with my head.
That I have grown incapable, unable and unwilling
to be present, friendly or even ever bringing
real connections to the people around me.
Being told that all of my tech makes me not see,
what I could be learning, creating and giving;
totally missing the life I could be living
if I simply switched the machines off.
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I am not here to refute, to rebuke or tell fables
I too am aware and perfectly able,
to see our addiction.
We’re sucked in by the light, the glamour, the friction;
the drama and tall tales that we tell ourselves
to escape the real sadness that overwhelms us.
The pressure, the rat race, keeping up with the Jones’s;
so many of us thinking that it’s just hopeless.
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But that’s another day’s story;
right now I wish to tell you the gory –
Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.16.11 PM
truth that our reality would be,
if we were to suddenly lose our technology.
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Emigration would become permanent once more
No vids of the kids playing ball on the floor.
No shared birthdays, or weddings or sadness across the miles;
just snail mail letters and photographs of distant smiles,
and burial cards a caring relative might send
Because for far away families: no tech means the end.
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And what of the tale of the off chance meeting?
A stranger lost and during that fleeting
moment in whence he asked her for help,
destiny stirred and with a soft whelp
they fell so in love  – which surely meant –
their romance bloomed and then they spent
a life full of love and kindness and … oh …
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But what if that woman had simply said no?
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He may have stayed lost,
Left his boss – disappointed?
Missed an appointment
or special do?
Was he on his way to a rendezvous?
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The maps on our phones find our way about,
while we have apps to monitor the kids while we’re out.
Keep a grocery and to do list all in the same place,
and pick a great restaurant to put a smile on the face –
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– of the ones we love –
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The ones we connect with.
The ones whom we laugh, fight and share life with.
The ones without whom the sun doesn’t shine.
The ones whom I know will always be mine.
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They are protected by tech
Can call the police
Transmit their GPS
And send swift notice
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to a whole group of us, all at the same time.
I don’t want to imagine a life where one of mine…
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got into a place they don’t want to be in;
and had no way to call me;
for me to to see them
safely home.
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I know we have problems.
I know it’s an addiction.
I know that we need to stop this restriction,
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we put on ourselves by not seeing eye to eye!
But I also think to myself – I ponder – ask why (?)
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Do we think that the tech is the problem?
Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.16.11 PM
The problem is clearly moderation: or more accurately a lack thereof
not knowing how to truly be present, in love.
We need to respect our tools yet not let them rule us.
We need to get back in control – no ifs and not buts.
Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.16.11 PM
Think forward not backwards.
Connect and be present.
Otherwise we will face a day most unpleasant:
a dawn shared by robots and those fearful at heart.
Another social faction – to tear us apart.
Screen Shot 2015-03-13 at 10.16.11 PM
We just have to want to.
I do. Do you?
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Thank you for reading. As always, take care. xoxo

Body acceptance is not the same as complacency.

I have come across a couple of intriguing and insightful conversations recently, both in the general media and my surroundings, about body acceptance and the positive and negative affects this may have.

A surprising amount of these conversations were about a blogger named Tess, who is incredibly body positive and not afraid to show it. Reactions to her range from “you go girl” to “why is she promoting obesity?”, and I just wanted to take a moment to share my thoughts and feelings on the entire phenomenon of body positivity and image – from my perspective.

First

Me at 13.

Now, being a heavy woman myself (I have always been bigger than average, as long as I can remember), weight, size, fashionable clothes, sexiness and attractiveness are all things that I have struggled with during all of my adolescence and now adult life. I try to dress well, show off what I like (my cleavage) and hide what I hate (my mid-section); given that I am a very social person and enjoy being out in company, I don’t like letting people know how uncomfortable I can get around traditionally “beautiful” people and that I definitely harbour my fair share of green eyed body envy. Meaning, I will crack jokes about how much sugar it takes to “maintain my curves” while secretly wishing that I too could participate in a sisterhood of sharing clothes and wearing bikinis. However the fact that most of my girlfriends could cover their whole heads in my bra (a party trick that has garnered many laughs) and physically get lost in my dresses, should be enough to tell you that most of their trousers don’t even fit over my calves. For the purpose of this blog, I am willing to share that I have been measured for a J-cup bra, wear a (Canadian) size 16 -18 pants and usually need dresses sized 22 – 24 with cinched waistlines or belts in order to fit both my waist and my chest.

fifth

Graduation, Age 18

There is a lot of body shaming going on these days, whether someone is too big or too small, everyone gets criticized, and all of it is shameful. However there was an article that I read about “thin privilege” that had a profound impact on me, because I hadn’t even realized just how much the word “discrimination” really suited some of the situations I had encountered and simply blown off as people just being jerks.

The most pointed of these examples was my first appointment with my new doctor in Northern Ireland. She hadn’t sat with me for more than 5 minutes before she declared that I was “morbidly obese” based on nothing but my BMI, (which as a concept for personal health measurement baffles me completely anyway, given that it was invented by a 19th century statistician… but I digress) …. she didn’t even bother to ask what I eat, where I work or whether I exercise. She declared my obesity as a certain fact and then ordered me to come back for blood tests since she was almost certain that I would also have some sort of other “fat people” problems such as a fatty liver, high cholesterol or undiagnosed diabetes….. When I protested and told her that I have always been bigger even though I eat really well, she giggled at me and said “I’m sure you think so dear, but I would recommend that you join a help group like Weight Watchers who can help you get your eating problems under control.”

Fourth

Aged 19

F*CKING EXCUSE ME??? I have a home made 3 fruit and spinach smoothy for breakfast (almost) every day, eat primarily vegetarian during the week and treat myself to butchers meat for my weekend meals, when money allows…. I am getting better at forcing myself to get out of bed 30 minutes early in the morning to do some stretching, core work and Yoga before I walk the 20 minutes to my office (where I take the 3 flights of stairs by the way.) But this woman… this alleged medical professional wanted to hear nothing of it. She just looked at the numbers and determined that I must be an unmoving, gob-stuffing couch potato. I just thought she was a bitch. A nasty judgemental bitch and I went home and cried.

But now I know she wasn’t just that, she was actively discriminating against me based on her belief about body-image. I had asked her for a medical check up, since it was my first time meeting her and she didn’t actually do anything but tell me that any ailments I may have (I had none) were based on my size. (By blood tests all came back normal, by the way, a fact she never commented on thereafter.)

seventh

Photoshoot with my friend Athane, I was 21. Find more of his photography and art here: http://athane.deviantart.com

I am telling you all of this, because it is people like that doctor, and all the other cruel and judgemental people in this world that make people like Tess necessary and vitally important. I have never met Tess, so I don’t know her or her lifestyle, but she writes in her blog that she exercises regularly, eats well and that she simply looks the way she looks, which sounds exactly like me and I really appreciate that. Even though lots of fitness experts out there may question this, I have no reason to believe otherwise. I tell my stories here and hope you believe them, since I have no way to prove any of it to you, so I am in no position to question her either and I have no intentions to.

What it boils down to is this: women like Tess, show women like me that it’s okay to love ourselves. I used to really hate my body, wishing it were thinner, shapelier, tighter and more appealing and like I didn’t deserve nice clothes since fat people don’t get to look pretty. People like Tess actively fight against this stereotype and even though I eventually did find my own confidence (or a good deal more of it) before ever discovering Tess, when ever I am down or feeling the old nagging feelings, reading her stories lifts me up.

I used to turn down all of my husband’s compliments, telling him things like “thanks but…” or “that’s sweet of you to say, but you just say it because you have to”… and one time he looked back at me as though I had really hurt his feelings and I had to take a pause. I didn’t understand why my frustration with my own body could possibly hurt him, but then he explained to me that it felt like I was ignoring and dismissing both his opinion and his feelings as unimportant. He explained that putting myself down, calling myself names and rejecting his compliments and advances made him feel like I didn’t value his opinion or the fact that he chose to be with me and that he loves me and wants me; I made him feel like those things didn’t matter to me. I was horrified. It had never occurred to me that he might really see me differently than I see myself and that my never ending negativity, was demeaning not only myself but his wife. (It’s hard to think of yourself in the third person that way, but I saw his point and it was an incredible eye opener for me.)

ninth

Our wedding… both at 22.

With the help of my husband, my friends and strong, body positive people like Tess, I am reminded every day that I am beautiful the way I am and that as long as I am doing my best for me, it’s enough. I don’t have to hide my side boob, if my belly rolls a little  while I sit on a couch enjoying time with my friends, it doesn’t matter. My arms look chunky? No more covering that up! I refuse to be too warm just so other people don’t have to see my ams. No more hiding. No more hating.

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In the past, I would have hated this picture… the extra rolls on my chest and my arms… but when I look at it now, I see one of my best friends and her daughter laughing with me on her wedding day and I love every pixel of it. (I was 23 here).

More than that, people like Tess remind me that I do deserve better. That I am good enough the way I am and that I do not have to change to be allowed to treat myself well and expect to be treated well by others.

deserve to be respected. I deserve to be treated equally. I deserve to feel beautiful, wear nice clothes, nice shoes, make-up and splurge on the occasional trip to the salon. I am not too fat, too gross or unworthy. I am perfectly fine as I am right now and I have discovered that the more I love myself, the better I can take care of myself. I have started losing weight in a healthy way since I stopped hating my body and started loving it as it is. I came to realize that my body is mine and it deserves healthy nutritious foods, even if that costs more than I am used to. My body deserves good walking shoes and a gym membership, my body deserves to be exercised and it even deserves to be shown off…. and this is the toughest one: both my body and I deserve to be loved.

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Age 21, another one of Athane’s pictures: http://athane.deviantart.com

All of this applies to you as well… to all people – men and women – big and small, WE ALL DESERVE BETTER!

Just because you may not fit the norm does’t mean you don’t deserve to be respected, appreciated, loved and spoiled. Treat yourself to that new dress or shirt, indulge in a spa day that will make you feel like royalty and yes, even if you’re afraid of other people at the gym – other people don’t matter – you deserve to be there.

Start loving yourselves more, and like Tess and now myself, accept the beauty in yourself and your body and surely you’ll find that once you start, you’ll automatically start treating yourself better, no diets or pills or therapy needed.

In conclusion, I would like to say to those people who criticize people like Tess for “promoting an unhealthy lifestyle” and for “glorifying obesity”, that she isn’t. She is promoting a healthy mental attitude, allowing people to find their own dignity and appreciate themselves just as they are and please take a second to consider that acceptance does not equal complacency. I don’t “accept that I am fat” and stuff my face all day long; I accept that without extreme measures I can not easily change my body type and have discovered that simply loving myself the way I am now, has helped me become a better me – mentally, emotionally and physically. You can not loathe yourself and treat yourself well. Any psychiatrist can tell you that. If you’re concerned about someone in your circle because they may be over or under weight, don’t judge them, don’t force them to the gym, but remind them that they deserve good things. That they too deserve to live a long and happy life and that the fearful, hateful attitudes are not helping them. If you can help yourself and/or your loved ones just love yourselves the way you are, I am sure that you will see, just how much of a difference acceptance can really make.

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Now Happy at 24.

I just wanted to get that off my chest. As always thanks for reading, and take care. xoxoxo

Disney is not your enemy…

Those of you who keep up with my musings on a regular basis (and a great big thank you to you, by the way, if you do), you will know that I have a very deep rooted issue with wanna-be closet feminists rallying around every stupid argument they can find to prove they are either victims of a cruel society, or how they have been unjustly dislodged from their allegedly rightful place as the superior sex. However, now “they” have gone and taken this to a level, that my inner princess is not willing to ignore: they’ve taken this nonsense to Disney (again) and Fairytales in general, in a most radical way. This “article”, has a message equal only to its horrific title in idiocy: Turn Your Princess-Obsessed Toddler Into a Feminist In Eight Easy Steps.

First of all, deconstructing Fairytales to your own perverse political advantage is pretty twisted in and of itself. The same goes for people who think Barbie and He Man cause self esteem issues, rather than just being toys and that Yogi Bear is somehow perverted for not wearing any clothes and for his “strange” movie poster.

However, if you are going to insist on deconstructing something in a way that a child would never think of, at least don’t twist what’s in front of you and really, if you’re trying to prove a point, make sure that the examples you’re using actually serve your purpose, otherwise you just look silly.

I wish to write my own article about all the great lessons Disney teaches our kids one day, but today, I just wish to respond to this particular piece, one point at a time.

Point 1. Read the Brothers Grimm version of Snow White in which Snow White is asked to clean, cook, make beds, wash and sew for the dwarfs in exchange for shelter from the evil queen. Ask your toddler to imagine what might have been different if the dwarfs had been female instead of male, and instead of a tiny cottage in the Wood, if Snow White had stumbled upon Wellesley College.

My Response:  Reading your child the original versions of anything can be a very enlightening and fascinating experience, (when done at the right age) in order to draw societal comparisons as to what classified as a classic fairytale versus our modern interpretations of them, so sure, go ahead and do that. You must be aware though, that this does not change the fact that Snow White being asked to cook, make beds, wash and sew in exchange for shelter isn’t patriarchal, or even degrading; it’s an exchange of labour, a method of payment and a way of showing gratitude. I would like to ask you to clarify something for me please: Are we trying to raise our children with the belief that if they’re pretty enough and in enough danger, the world should just protect them? Are they all damsels in distress after all? Are we trying to teach them that, free handouts are the way to go? That it’s okay to just show up in someone else’s country asking for help and be handed a house, food, healthcare and home comforts without having to do anything in exchange?  I believe we as a society are already struggling with that sort of attitude…. wait, sorry did I write country? I meant home… home…

I digress, the dwarves being men, had absolutely nothing to do with this. Snow White could have easily sewn herself a pair of trousers and gone down to the mines with them to earn her keep. After all, they were providing a home, fresh food, clean water and protection; but it was more practical (or she may have preferred) to use the homely talents she had, to show gratitude and a fair exchange of labours.

Teaching our children that this message is wrong isn’t empowering or educational – it’s the exact opposite – entitled princess syndrome.

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2. Wonder aloud, what with Cinderella’s history as a cleaner, if she and Prince Charming are likely to share the division of labor in their home. Remark that, if the immaculate state of his white gloves is anything to go by, it’s difficult to imagine that he ever takes out the garbage.

He is a Prince. He lives in a castle. Now, Cinderella does so too. She will never clean again. Ever. They have staff for that. This could not be simpler.

(Also, NO ONE takes out the garbage in their white dinner gloves… they’re white dinner gloves for crying out loud!)

3. Speculate if there is a connection between the Greek mythological Aurora, the goddess of the dawn who arose from the ocean in a saffron robe and rode her horse-drawn chariot across the sky ahead of the sun, sprinkling dew upon the earth, and the Disney Aurora who fainted after getting a booboo from a spinning wheel and whose prince needed to be rescued by bickering fairies. Decide that no, there’s likely no relationship at all.

This is getting silly now… okay, so even though Disney’s Aurora may not “ride her horse-drawn chariot across the sky ahead of the sun“, she was named Aurora in allusion to the exact mythical character that is being referenced here, with her name meaning “the dawn”. Moving on, as we are now mocking the movie’s damsel in distress motive, please allow me to point out that the story itself was first recorded in the Perceforest, (Book III, chapter lii) in the early 1300’s; when damsel in distress stories were common place and essential in the social make up of the time, since men were in fact considered socially and physically superior to women and all knights needed a damsel to rescue. The Disney version was filmed and released in 1959, when these stories were not only very much accepted but still commonplace.

The major difference between the original and the Disney version of course, lies in that in the original version, the princess was actually raped while she was asleep and ended up giving birth while in her coma, (medieval storytelling for you there) whereas in the Disney version, she of course would be saved by “true loves kiss”, with her body and soul still in tact. This Disney only ver recently showed to mean, that the “saviour” needs to deeply care for the wellbeing and life of, as well as genuinely love the princess. This can be found in the reimagining of the primary villain Maleficent.

Now I don’t know about you, but I’m okay teaching my future children that true love means loyalty, devotion and sometimes having to sacrifice for the one whom you love, even if it is told in the metaphor of someone fighting a dragon for them.

Oh and as for the “prince [who] needed to be rescued by bickering fairies“, I think that it is a very progressive notion about men not being infallible and perfect and that even the dashing Prince needs saving. Oh, and that determined middle aged godmothers/aunties can be incredibly bad ass while invading an evil fairy’s castle… yup. No problem here.

Now, for the spinning wheel incident. Herein actually lies the best lesson as far as I am concerned, and it’s not aimed at children but rather at parents. If Aurora had been kept in the care of her parents, in the kingdom where she belonged, and treated like a proper person rather than a tiny bird being hidden away in a cage, the entire issue may have been avoided all together. If she had been told about her curse, her fate, and been educated about the importance of avoiding spinning wheels at all costs she may have never fulfilled the curse in the first place. So I think it makes a great example of how to teach parents to never underestimate their children and to teach them and speak to them like intelligent human beings for their own good, rather than handling them with proverbial “kid gloves”.

Last point, “who fainted after getting a booboo from a spinning wheel“… a booboo? Really? *sigh*

4. Praise Belle for her love of reading, but segue into a discussion about the Stockholm syndrome as it relates to women, and how that might shed insight into the phenomenon of women who stay in toxic relationships.

Or instead, you might discuss how it is presumed that Prince Adam was condemned to life (and puberty) as a beast, when he was only 11 years old… condemned by a decision made by a woman who did not know him; a strange enchantress who showed up at his door and took it upon herself to judge this boy and condemn him and his entire staff, based on a single impression. You might wish to discuss the premature and uneducated judgements by this hostile woman, and what atrocious effects her actions had upon him and all who lived with him. You might also want to discuss where his cruelty and social ineptitude came from. Could it be the emotional damage of seemingly growing up without parents to love and care for him?

By the time Belle managed to see past his childish and unsocial manners, she saw that there was goodness in him. She taught him how to stand up for others, appreciate those around him and how to have fun again. She also taught him table manners, how to read and how to dance. She looked beyond her own fears and brought out the absolute best in him. She should be celebrated for her kindness, tenacity and tolerance.

5. Propose that the hatred that Anastasia and Drizella feel toward Cinderella is not the fault of the stepsisters, so much as it represents a complete indictment of Western society and its attitudes toward feminine beauty. Suggest that all three women might be victims of the same impossible societal pressures. Work in this timeless Naomi Wolf gem: “The contemporary ravages of the beauty backlash are destroying women physically and depleting us psychologically.”

I severely doubt that the sisters actually hate Cinderella, as much as they have a bully and a gold digger for a mother. This would be a great opportunity to point out that there are abusers and users in this world, who would take advantage of the kindness and weaknesses of others and that they would exploit them to their own gain. Cinderella’s step mother, married for money and when her husband passed away, she saw Cinderella as nothing but a convenient addition to her inheritance, an unpaid help. She treats Cinderella with cold cruelty and her daughters, knowing no better, imitate their mother in their attempt to be like her and maybe, to not bring her wrath down upon themselves.

This is supported by the fact, that in the original fairytale, the evil stepmother forces her own daughters to physically cut off their toes and heels in order to try to fit into the glass slipper and doesn’t care for the damage done to them in the process, since they would never have to walk again once they were all royalty. (In this version her father also hand’t died and treated her just as badly, but that’s for another discussion.)

This is a great opportunity to teach our children, that when they see bullies at school, it’s not necessarily the children who are wicked, but rather their parents who have taught them intolerant, degrading and antisocial behaviours.

Also, it’s a great chance to talk about abuse in the home, domestic violence and the toxic cycle it presents. This might allow them to develop an eye for abusive relationships and allow them to one day help others, and hopefully avoid (or if ever need be) escape such situations themselves.

6. Chuckle about the patriarchal shenanigans of King Triton. Before the laughter subsides, ask why, in fact, everyone was so threatened by the idea of Ursula the sea witch becoming ruler, when it’s clear that she was extremely capable. Point out why Ursula might have valid reasons for becoming so frustrated about the glass ceiling under the sea. Finally, concede that while it’s very nice that Ariel and Eric were able to marry, it’s too bad that King Triton had the final say over Ariel’s body in deciding whether she would be a fish or a human being.

This is one is so easy it’s almost insulting – Ursula is obsessed with dark magic and plotted treachery against the kingdom, which is why she got banished in the first place. She is also serial criminal and a tyrannical maniac. She is not capable of anything but being a psychopath. There is literally no blame on King Triton here.

Also, Arial had no power of her own (what so ever) to change her body for her to be with Eric. Even if her father had no aversion to the relationship to begin with, in this case, they are two different species. How exactly was it any better for Ursula to have a say over Ariel’s body, while hoodwinking her and stealing her voice in the process? Instead of making out that Triton had the power to decide over his daughters body, why not revel in the fact that he saw past his judgements of humans, accepted Eric as a good person and used the magic in his power to bridge this otherwise unbridgeable gap to make his daughter happy?

7. Note the similarities between Princess Jasmine and Emma Woodhouse. Point out that if all the energy that went into finding the “right man” was instead diverted to say, solving global warming or participating in government office – something impossible in Jane Austen’s day but well within your daughter’s reach – then we would all be so much better off. Here you might want to bake cupcakes in honor of International Women’s Day.

Sure, this may be an interesting conversation to have if ones daughter is 14 and reading Emma in school, however, I think the focus is misplaced here. Since the initial focus here is on Princess Jasmine, from Aladdin, this is one of the few places where a genuine women’s rights conversation could be held, again with a more mature child. In this instance, Jasmine is not the one seeking to marry, but instead is being forced into an arranged marriage, a fate many women, especially in the far and middle East as well as India, still face today. Talk about how this is still an issue and how it was something that was even commonplace and frequently practised in our own western societies until very recently. Focus on the apparent reasons behind modern day arranged marriages; unlike the Sultan in this Disney movie, who wants Jasmine married to someone suitable, from his misguided idea that she needs to be taken care of after he eventually dies, women who are still facing this issue today are widely regarded as property and that a good match is vital to family honour. Discuss how women are running away to foreign countries to get away from being a pawn in their family’s politics, and that many of them get hunted down and killed for defying their families and this very practise. Honour killings are happening all over the world, even in the US, in Canada and the United Kingdom.

Modern day feminism is so focussed on teaching little girls these frivolous ideas of pink and sparkles being bad, that they completely neglect to realize the real lessons that could be taught. We need to make sure that future generations are aware of the world around them so that they may truly stand up for our fellow women and people, who need our help.

8. Make a list of wishes your daughter might ask to be granted from her fairy godmother. When the list is completed, tap your daughter’s forehead gently and then say excitedly: “I found your fairy godmother! It’s your brain and she’s been right here all along!”

This is literally the only one that makes sense. We should all teach our children that with hard work and dedication they can make all of their own dreams come true… there was a Princess whose Daddy taught her that too right?

Why, yes, of course there was. 🙂 https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K8Ppij45zM8

Now, part of me really wants to believe that the original article was meant to be satirical, by golly do I hope that that’s how it was meant, but unfortunately there are plenty of people who (like me) can’t tell the difference, (even though I am fairly certain upon closer inspection that it really was meant seriously) and some who might even believe this drivel to be true and meaningful; as such I simply had to air my thoughts about it here.

If anything, I apologize for the length of this rant, and I promise, next time, there will be something more lighthearted. If you made it this far, I wish to say, as usual: Thank you for for reading and take care. xoxo