Frenemies…a necessary evil?

I’m feeling a little vulnerable…coping with the dreaded Identity Crisis is hard…much harder than I actually thought.  Once again, after years and years (and years) at the same job doing the same thing and referring to myself in the same way, I am now charting my own course.  And while I figure out exactly what that is and where I will go, I feel discombobulated, disadvantaged and confused.  [As an aside, I take full responsibility for part of the “discombobulation” which stems from my particular A-D-D-like nature:  I have so many ideas, see so many possibilities, and have so many desires that it’s hard to pick just one!  While some may call this a lack of focus, I say…well, that’s probably quite true!]

I know in my heart of hearts that the decision I have made is the right one (not just for me but for my family), although it seems that today and at this moment my “self-sabotaging” nature has got the better of me.  For example, while I had hoped for a very smooth transition into my woman of the world or female conqueror being…instead, I feel more like that circa 1952, Betty Crocker baking, bon bon eating, woman of the house…and I put myself here!  Truth is, I know that’s not who I am – nor is it someone I could pretend to be – but the reality is that I went from one uphill battle to another…from working in a very male dominated industry with extreme expectations to altering the perception that just because I’m on my own and I’m at home doesn’t mean I’m now a “Lady of Leisure”!  (Not that it would be a bad thing…?)

I keep wondering…am I letting down the Lean-In generation?

With International Women’s Day coming up on March 8thhave I let down the entire female species? 

Here, in my new office (the local Starbucks), I am left with the thought that these sentiments are akin to the whole frenemy conundrum – yesterday I caught up on the latest Glee episode which centred around frenemies and complicated relationships. Frenemies…we can all point to one or two in our circles…and just in case, here’s a definition from Wikipedia (which I think is très apropos!)

“Frenemy” is a portmanteau of “friend” and “enemy” that can refer to either an enemy pretending to be a friend or someone who really is a friend but is also a rival.

For me, my frenemies have almost always fallen into the latter category.  I have been fortunate to have some of the most solid bunch of friends:  from my near and dears who challenge me and support me through life’s ups and downs, to my mom friends who have helped me tap into my inner nurturer and saved me from an unbreakable cycle of diapers and drama, to my work friends who are always up for a bitch session and a beer…like I said, I have been lucky.  But I’ve also been lucky – really lucky – to have had frenemies.

Frenemies can really make you feel small, unsure of yourself, and down.  Like try spending hours upon hours getting deflated balloonready (ok, maybe just minutes upon minutes as who am I kidding?  I can’t remember the last time I actually had hours to primp), picking that perfect outfit to go along with those brand new shoes which you know are KILLER statement pieces and will make any girl swoon and you show up and POOF.  You’ve been trumped.  Her shoes are more killer.  Her outfit, to die for.  Not a hair out of place, not a single nail chipped, not an unconfident bone in her body.  What’s worse – she’s totally oblivious to all of your effort at taking centre stage.  Fssssssss….like a deflating balloon whose fate is sealed, you try and endure.

But, frenemies have had their place in my life – and they certainly continue to.  They have fed my competitive nature, my need for rivalry, and my love of the game; they drive me to find that 10-letter word complete with a Q, X or Z with a triple word score, or fight tooth and nail to find a way to build hotels across Park Place and Boardwalk.

Without frenemies I perhaps wouldn’t have strived more, tried more, dared more and risked more.  Perhaps not right at those moments where I’d been defeated (while I was slinking in some corner wishing I could blend in with the drywall)…but definitely later.  They fed my dreams and desires and just when I had been ready to take myself out of the competition, they put me right back in.

I’ve often thought:  just stop competing.  Stop worrying and getting anxious about what you don’t have and focus on what you do.  Be present.  Be now.  Perhaps that works for some Zooey Deschanel-looking hipsters who are laid back and free spirited – but that’s not me.

With International Women’s Day right around the corner, I hope you will forgive this following imposition.  Let us women, all of us, agree to accept each other for who we are and the parts that we play.  There’s always so much to learn from everything…and every-ONE around you.

Besides, if I have frenemies, then I must be one too….onward and upwardTRUMP!  

onward and upward


Lessons from a fish…seriously.

Every now and then we step out of ourselves and take on an alternate persona.  For me, this is akin to the person I become after a scotch on the rocks…or two…okay three!  And yes, I did say scotch; though I can be a pink, frilly cocktail kinda girl too – hand me a Prosecco with berries any day –I’m a closet scotchaholic!

That aside, after a couple down the hatch, I transform – it’s a chemical thing!  Now I’m not saying I’m one of those loud, obnoxious and mean drunks – ok, loud and obnoxious, never mean though!  But somehow, after a few drinks I’m brassier and ever so entertaining – at least by my own interpretation.  And I spend a great deal of my time trying to convince all those around that I am actually lucid; that my slurred speech and general incoherence should be no indication of my well-being.

Why fake through the situation?  Why not admit that yes, I have succumbed?  What am I so scared to admit?

Most of the time, I’m a pretty lighthearted, easy going (albeit somewhat complicated) extrovert.  But every now and then my extroversion gives way to a very introspective, insular side of me.  Call it a funk, call it the blues, call it taking stock, call it what you will…but it’s during these times when I wonder if I’m where I should be and doing what I want to do, or whether I’m just trying to keep afloat.  Isn’t it better to just be grateful for the stability I already have – whether it’s the roof over my head, a steady job and income, good friends and family?  True, these are all good.  But I want more.

And this time, the realization came from none other than Zoom, our family’s pet betta fish.  Every now and then, when it’s my turn to feed Zoom during all the chaos that ensues around me (usually at bedtime when arms and legs are flailing to get into the right arm and leg holes of pajamas, teeth are supposedly being brushed, and prayers are being said) Zoom comes to the top of his tank and waits.  And I swear, he’s looking at me…trying to say something…me and zoom

Perhaps it is strange to write about this fish.  Perhaps I should go back and talk about the three scotch I downed this past weekend, or something more comedic like the seven year old or the three year old’s latest antics, but I swear, this fish and I are kindred spirits and here’s how I know.

Zoom came to us by way of a birthday party favour.  I remember it well – it was the year all the children in my 7 year old’s class were turning five.  As we were set to leave, the child’s mother handed us a plastic bag with a fish and a small baggy with food.  While some would baulk at the idea and think, “Oh no!  Another responsibility!!”  I was delighted (perhaps even more delighted than my son!)   Then, about 6 months ago, Zoom started to display some very strange behavior.  He would ignore me.  He would hide in his fake plant all day, or play dead with his head down and his tail suspended above him.  I freaked out.  And I did what any one in my situation would do:  GOOGLED!  I refused to be responsible for fish depression or worse yet, “fishicide.”

After ruling out fish swim bladder disorder or some other fish ailment, I did what I do best:  I went shopping…to the pet store.  Close to thirty design decisions later (round tank or rectangular, coloured or natural gravel, toys or plants, etc.) we moved Zoom into a larger, more professional tank, in a much busier area of the house and the result?  A much happier, active and thriving betta!

Although not in words, Zoom had communicated that he was no longer happy in his original fish bowl – he’d outgrown it.  And this has served as a little reminder that perhaps I too need to be honest.  I too need to be courageous and face the music:  Have I outgrown my fishbowl?  Will I be happier in another?  How will that happen?  Who will move ME into a better tank?

Probably the most frustrating thing for someone as loquacious as me and with very large, grandiose (and perhaps somewhat unrealistic) dreams, is feeling invisible and not being heard.  It feels unjust.  Recognizing that I don’t have a plant to stick my head in and that perhaps diplomacy, humour and wit (not to mention charm and a killer smile) won’t always save one from circumstance – as I have repeatedly experienced while trying to weasel out of parking tickets, or getting out of sticky situations though it could be that perhaps I’m not as charming as I think or my smile isn’t so, well, killer – what does?  What does one do when utterly frustrated, overwhelmed and fighting every instinct to bang one’s fists, throw something and just run away?  And, quite frankly, how do you run away when you’re trapped in a fishbowl?

I think of my kindred spirit, Zoom.  I think of how clever this little fish was in communicating his needs and, well, I’m clever too.  Starting tomorrow, I’m breaking out of my fishbowl.  Charm, killer smile, diplomacy and brains…I’ve got all of these in my arsenal.  And who knows, perhaps I’ll lapse into a persona of courage, and before I know it, I’ll be celebrating in a dapper way with a Prosecco in one hand, and a scotch in the other.  The countdown is on…this year is going to be great!


I’m a GYPSY…and the sun revolves around ME!

11-successful-morningsEvery time I buy a lottery ticket…I get the chills.  Like I know THIS is the winning ticket.  This time, they’re going to talk about me, the nice girl from Toronto, mother of two sweet boys, financial advisor, married to Mr. Niceguy, as the winner of the largest jackpot in the history of the lottery.  I’ve even gone so far as to buy a ticket from a small, northern Ontario town with the hopes that I will have won because after all, most of the winners did not buy their lottery ticket at Bay and King.  Chances good?  Chances great!  And I dream of what I’d do with all my winnings…

Truth is…I hardly ever buy lottery tickets.  Which makes this fantasy all the more real for when I do, it’s because “something” compelled me to buy that lottery ticket.  (The most I’ve ever won was $20 and I’m just really hoping that I didn’t peak at 20 bucks…’cause that would suck.)

No matter.  It turns out the start of fall is also the start of McDonald’s Monopoly!!  And before you judge, YES, I LOVE McDonald’s.  I’ve never been a Big Mac combo kind of girl…but a drive thru giant Diet Coke with some small fries…ah, they hit the spot!  And what about piping hot chicken nuggets?  Yummm…and look, it’s not like I’m clueless about chemical contents, preservatives or genetically modified excuses for food but there’s just something about them!  It took me all of 5 minutes to get over being perplexed when they announced, “Chicken nuggets, now with white meat.”  Five minutes and just one bite of those finger lickin’ good nuggets…oops, sorry, wrong chicken product.

In any case, just this Saturday morning, for fun (ok, sheer laziness as I was all alone while Mr. Niceguy ran another obstacle course yay, Mr. Niceguy, boo single parent with two hyperactives for 12 hours) I took the boys to the local McD’s for breakfast and who knew we would end up with 10 monopoly stickers?!  TEN!  Surely I would be a winner…or on the path to “winningdom”?

It took every ounce of control for me to NOT order another round of breakfast (I asked and they promptly replied, “we’re full!”…also, my rationale kicked in and I figured we could always come back for lunch, or dinner…maybe both… (Don’t scoff!  We didn’t!

In any case, I peeled the stickers off so fast and this time, I have a feeling…we’re gonna win!  I mean, we got Park Place!!!  $100,000 is as good as mine!  Mine!  Mine!  Ooooh…my precious….

So what is this feeling, inherent, deep within, that drives this belief?  Is it just that the world’s my stage and I’m the main character?  Or am I the underdog that everyone’s rooting for to succeed?  Is it just that all of my various trials, tribulations, heartaches, trials, and tribulations (not a typo, worth repeating) must have EARNED me the-something-special.  Must have made me deserve the spotlight, the reward, the recognition!  (My name will be in lights!!!!)

Is it wrong to have hope?  Is it fallacy to believe in destiny?  Is it silly to think that our guts may actually be telling us something other than “you’re hungry” or “hurry up and find a toilet”?  Isn’t it true that sometimes, you just know?

Speaking of just knowing…it’s like paths.  And everything happens for a reason.  Or should we just go with,

Que sera, sera, whatever will be, will be, the future’s not ours to see, que sera, sera  

I say NO.

The Huffington Post just recently posted an article called, “Why Generation Y Yuppies are Unhappy” and in it, refers to a fictitious person named Lucy, a GYPSY – Generation Y Protagonists & Special Yuppies – a type of unique yuppy that thinks they are the main character of a very special story.  YES, YES I say!  Lucy is me!!  But there is a catch, GYPSYs are unhappy because they are extremely ambitious and have huge (unrealistic) expectations fuelled and taunted by peers who embellish their own realities.  Add to the mix some serious entitlement issues and an over-inflated view of oneself…and therein lies the frustration which arises due to said unmet (unrealistic?) expectations.  So what is a Lucy to do?  The article suggests staying wildly ambitious, ignoring everyone else and stopping thinking that you’re special.

And here’s what I say.  I AM SPECIAL.  I’m going to keep dreaming, keep hoping, and keep wishing.  True, now more than ever we can see what someone else has, what someone else has accomplished, and perceive what someone else deserves…and this “Keeping up with the Joneses” may be the cause for one or twelve of my bouts of anxiety or funky blues lately.  But I herewith, forthwith, from now forward will NOT be reduced to a Lucy. 

What I truly want is really out there…I just have to be patient and find it.  And I. WILL. HAVE. IT. ALL.  It’s just the “ALL” that needs to be defined.  Now, how about a McNugget combo…like I said, I’ve got Park Place if you’ve got Boardwalk!


PS:  Here’s the link to the article in the Huffington Post –

Funky blues…Part II

A week has gone by, and I still can’t shake the blues…but at least it looks like we’re actually going to be on time today.  Kids are dressed and fed, bags are packed for school, and just as we go outside to load everyone up in the car…DISASTER! Oh. My. God. There is rotten food everywhere…I forgot to close the garage door last night and raccoons got into my green bin!! GROSS!!!

A quick clean up later I’m thinking, crisis averted, when up the driveway comes my cleaning lady. My existing cleaning lady – the one that keeps rearranging all of my stuff; the one that keeps breaking things in my house; the one I’m putting off letting go because I’ve never “fired” anyone in my life.  I wasn’t expecting her!  Especially since I am actually trying out a new cleaning lady…TODAY!!! And who is set to arrive any minute! What to do now???!!! I blurt out, “Oh…hi! I wasn’t expecting you today.  But…ummmm….great.  Go ahead inside, I’ll just be a minute.”  Quick, send text. No response. Call….pick up, pick up, pick UP!! “Hi, it’s me.  I’m so sorry, part of our roof fell off last night and I really don’t feel comfortable having you come here while they work to put it back on.  Us?  Oh, geez, we’re fine…thank you for asking.  I will pay you, for sure, I’m so, so sorry! See you next week.  Thank you so much.  OK, bye.”

Before you judge…part of the roof DID fall off last week (some trim thingy) and tomorrow a roofer IS going to come and put it back on…so…not a lie…just a stretch??

I hop in the car with the rest of the gang who have now (thank goodness) offered me a ride to the subway.  Purse?  Check.  Spare bag with shoes?  Check.  Latte?  Checkity, check, check! Things are starting to go my way…I think I’m going to shake this funk after all…I mean, what a comedy of errors this morning, right?  And I survived.

This subway is disgusting.  It is crowded and hot.  I hope I don’t almost faint again.  Focus…perhaps I should turn off Zero Dark Thirty and just stare at the ground – somehow torture scenes seem too akin to what I feel like I’m going through right now.  Hmmm…why don’t they have the AC on? OUCH!!! What the…OUCH!!!!!  Some totally oblivious woman has not only just stomped on my foot with her big, high-tech sneakers but when I turned to see what was going on, she clocked me with her giant backpack.  And now there’s a medical emergency and I’m stuck here??? Oooofff. Funkity, funk, funk!

It’s eight hours later…I did make it to work, had a not-so-productive day evaluating my life again and managed not to cover myself with my lunch this time – so all in all, not so bad.

And now I’m at my son’s baseball game (which I signed him up for as a way to at least cross one more item off my list). We’ve been in our neighbourhood for close to five years and this is a great way to get involved – and yes, this new-ish environment will be just as tricky for me as it will be for him…I just wish I wasn’t in such a funk…

I look around…there’s a group of women who seem like they’ve been on this circuit for years: they have their folding chairs, their travel mugs and hunter boots (on this unseasonably cold and rainy Tuesday evening I am wearing a thin t-shirt and converse and willing the sun to come out) and they appear more interested in comparing notes over their latest acquisitions, recipes and social agendas. I swear that if I were to look closely enough at the grass by their feet I would see tiny little brass plaques denoting their respective, individual plots of land at the park – undoubtedly passed down for generations.  I know this because I got the “once-over” when I was carrying our gear to “their territory” so I did a quick 180 and changed course…I’m too funking drained to deal with this…

But…oh no.  I’ve now wound up with the really nice and inclusive group.  You know these people – they are overly sweet and complimentary.  They want to know every little detail about you and where you come from, seem oblivious to the fact that you only met five seconds ago, and for some reason, believe that you are just as interested in every detail about their lives: “We’ve been at this league forever!  You’ll love it!  We live right over there…see my house?  What about you?  What street?  What number?  My son, X, has been playing for the past two years but just look at him, he can’t focus or listen – X!! PAY ATTENTION TO THE COACH!!!!! – I swear that child is going to be the end of me.  You know, he won’t eat any vegetables??!! What do I do? You must have some ideas?  Which one is yours???” Oh boy.

So now I’m sitting by the dugout. This really is the best spot anyway – near all the kids and I can really get into the game.  Little-by-little I’m feeling not funkadelic anymore, but bewildered.  I’m trying to figure out how I got here.  And how I’ve let my funk dictate so many of my moves…like not making an attempt to get to know some of these people, or worrying about the consequences of each and every decision I’ve made up to this point, or the consequences of each and every decision I have to make hereafter.

I look up and start to really watch.  To my surprise, I notice that my son has joined, I mean really joined, his team without hesitation.  He’s talking to all the other kids and having the best time. He got thrown into a situation he knew nothing about, or had control over, and is doing just fine.

As the innings progressed, I found I was enjoying myself and letting go of all of my other wonderings…the noise in my head grew quieter as it was replaced with cheers, squeals and my favourite, the crack when the ball connects with the bat.  Then, to my utter astonishment, the game has ended and I am being congratulated by the coaches: “Your son had the hit of the game!” And all of a sudden, I knew that we had accomplished what buying a new pair of shoes could ever achieve…I was out of the “spin-cycle”…for now.

Funky blues…Part I

Open.  Close.  Open.  Close.  Open.  Close.  Open…scan top…scan middle…scan bottom…nothing in the left drawer…nothing in the right…nothing in the door.  Close.  There is officially nothing to eat.  I’ve checked, double-checked and triple-checked.  The fridge fairy bypassed my house again.  Maybe I can scrounge up some chocolate or candy…

Cable?  PVR?  Netflix?  Nothing.  Well, nothing except another show about a couple getting to choose between three potential homes in some exotic locale of which it’s quite obvious which two they’d only choose if they were completely insane.  Again?  No thanks.  And it’s not shark week!!  My shows have all had their season finales too: Survivor’s done, the Bachelor’s done, 90210 (yes, 90210) is done for good and worst of all…no Glee until September!  Whatever will I sing along with?? And I absolutely, unequivocally will not watch any of the PBS shows that reside on my PVR – no, I did not choose them nor can I stand to get past their descriptions like the role of this agency or that in foiling some terrorist plot or new insights into some World War II battle fought in who knows where, who knows when, or better yet, what REALLY was behind the financial crisis.  I really should’ve taken the time to program some of my shows…

So, nothing to eat and no entertainment…a nasty combination for my constitution.

It’s morning.  I get up, get ready and get to work.  I need to focus on work.  I need to put more of an effort into my career.  But I can’t.  I’ve ignored these funky blues, pretended they weren’t happening, and now I’m just going to be a big girl and admit that yes, I am totally funked out.  And today my funk manifested itself in the ultimate act of betrayal:  my very yummy chicken burrito full of lettuce, tomatoes, green peppers, cheese, burrito sauce and sour cream bottom-end exploded onto my brand new silk coral top and black silk skinny pants…I LOOK LIKE A BAG LADY, FOR GOODNESS SAKE and I am definitely going to have to spend the rest of the day on my chair pressed right up against my desk to hide this mess.  This is not helping my funky blues at all…

But I’m not good at being still…and since I can’t concentrate on work anyway, I’m going to make one more attempt at breaking out of this funk.  I’m going to do what almost always works and I pray, would not fail me now…I’m going to the shoe shop under my building!

I can feel the funk lifting as I step into the elevator…down, down, down…sniiiiffff inhale…pfhooooo exhale…’DING’ out I go.

Ahhh…I swear I feel lighter, there’s a bounce to my step.  Whatever will I get?  Cute pair of ballerinas or perhaps a pair of trendy sneakers to wear on the soccer field – the possibilities are endless!  I walk in…to my absolute, and utter horror, however, I am confronted by one of my most hated songs – you know the one from your teenage years full of angst, revolution and the one that was the backdrop to a bad dumping or a wardrobe malfunction in high school.  I feel heavy, worn.  If I could cover my ears, curl up into fetal position and cry out of frustration, I would.  But no, I’ll put on a brave face.  I’m not giving up.  This song will pass…and it does…except the next one is worse.  I swear I lifted my arms up in total exasperation and stormed right out of the store.

Should they not be putting together song lists to INSPIRE purchases???  Who’s in charge here???  Why aren’t they playing any Britney Spears?  Or J.Lo???!!

My funk has now taken a backseat to my anger.  I need someone or something to BLAME for my funktastic mood…ah ha…Mother Nature.

I can trace my funk to this time of year, Spring, when we all come out of hibernation expecting renewal and change (lots of pretty flowers and warm breezes certainly seem like the perfect backdrop for some magic!)  For me, spring also happens to be a time when I am once again evaluating and re-evaluating every aspect of my life…all while tackling the ultimate in mundane tasks:  the multitude of baby clothes/toys/gear that I STILL have to get rid of, the flipping of my closet (and let’s be real, everyone else’s too) from fall/winter to spring/summer, the seven pounds I still have to shed before bikini season, the pedicure I still have to get, the tidying up of the garden and how I’m going to make sure that we get enough fruits and veggies in our diet…

This evaluation I put myself through is just so exhausting!!  My brain hurts.  There’s too much to think about.  And I keep adding more to my list.  As a side note, I’m not particularly gifted in any one thing, but I possess an incredibly high level of curiosity and sometimes ill-placed high level of confidence which have resulted in a deluded sense of capability.  In other words, I think I can do anything but I can’t figure out what to do first!!  This is just crippling…how do I dig myself out of this quicksand and get out of this funk????

Mother Nature…it’s not you…IT’S ME!!!  Funk.