Dance like you’re Carla

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I have a good life.
I know I do.
The spoon of privilege landed smack in my gob.
Why?
Because I’m a white woman.
An annoying white woman.
The acronym for that is, “Aww”.
Which is true; because if you bung a gaggle of us around a new-born baby, or Ryan Gosling’s instagram account, that’s exactly what we’ll say:
“Awwwwwwwww!”
Actually, if you show us Ryan Gosling’s instagram account, we’ll say
“Fuck me! He’s fit! I’d like to show him 50 shades of whey-hey”. But potato / patato.
But even though I’m a fully fledged ‘Aww’, sometimes shit gets me down.
The ups and downs of everyday life can take their toll.
I can be in a sea of people and yet still feel adrift.
That’s been my boat recently.
It felt like I took a wrong turn somewhere, and that somehow, I’d ended up in shit-creek.
No matter how I hard I paddled, I still felt alone.
Suffice to say,  when anyone feels like this, life feels a bit crap.
But tonight, I was obliged to go out with friends.
Let me be clear:
I did not want to go.
I wanted to stay home and throw a pity party for one, feel morose and spoon nutella straight from the jar.
But as Elizabeth Taylor said:

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So instead of a date with pureed chocolate goo, I accompanied my friends to our local pub, the ‘Fox and Fuckwit’.
I live in the suburbs, so our local boozer got caught in a time warp, although it’s less Rocky Horror, more 1980s bad rock and mullets.
When we arrived, ‘Living on a prayer’ was blaring out of the sound system and my hopes of dancing my cares away faded quicker than Josh Duggar’s hopes of getting out of his latest shit storm unscathed.
However two gin and tonics later, suddenly dancing didn’t seem like such a ridiculous idea.
Whilst dancing (yup, just the four of us) another lady joined the small dance floor.
I watched her out of the corner of my eye.
She danced with jubilation. With the thrill of being alive.
So what if the music was cheesy? She danced without a care in he world.
I shimmied over to her. Curious about her story.
Her name was Carla. Turns out she had arrived in Canada, from the UK, just six weeks before. She had fancied a dance on a Friday night, but with no one to go with in her new city, she went alone.
That take balls.
Or as this rad dame would say:

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Watching Carla dance so free and uninhibited, was inspiring.
So to all the Carla’s of the world, I salute you.
We all need a little bit of your chutzpah in our soul.
To dare to dance, just because we want to, even if that means we’ll dance alone.
By the end of the evening, the cheesy tunes were still spinning, and thanks to my friends and Carla I felt like my groove was coming back. Shit creek didn’t seem to reek as pungently as before.
And I’m sure serendipity had fuck all to do with it, but the last two songs playing, as we left the ’80s vortex, were two favourites from my teenage years:

Songs that reminded me of my misspent youth, dancing in an equally cheesy Venue, with my friends, all of us with the same exhilaration as Carla.
I don’t like getting all moralistic, this is a blog post not an episode of Sesame Street. But like it or not, life is always going to have ups and downs, shits and giggles. But whether your problems are man-made or aww-made it does you no fucking harm at all to find a little light relief, by dancing as though no ones watching.

If you’re here, you might as well show up. you might end up surprising yourself.

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So for the past three weeks, I’ve been immersed in a stand-up comedy boot-camp.
For those that know me, comedy is my passion. I’ve been performing for about three years and as terrifying as it is, I keep going back for more.
When I finally took the plunge to perform and write comedy so began a pivotal chapter in my life:
It made me finally feel at home in my adopted country.
It’s allowed me to unleash many creative dreams and find a group of beautiful weirdos that I now call friends.

I’ve always loved comedy: live, TV, or simply just listening to funny mates with a knack for spinning a witty yarn.
I’m not picky, it doesn’t matter. I’m a comedy slut.
Comedy ignites something special for me. It’s the ultimate human connection, that shared ‘a-ha’ moment of “yeah I know what you mean” that makes me feel alive and makes my life have that rosy glow.

But I never thought in a million years that I would have the balls to perform.

Then, three years ago one of my dearest friends lost her beautiful, cherished daughter to cancer.
Words can’t do a tragedy of this magnitude justice. I won’t even attempt to convey in words what it’s like to be a bystander to a nightmare that doesn’t switch off.
I can’t and won’t even attempt to write about what losing Isobel was like for her family.
All I will say is, I’ve never seen people I love face a loss like it.

In the wake of that: watching people you love try to regroup, look ahead, find a way forward, I took stock of my own life.
In a helpless situation, with no way to help, I decided the only way to honour Isobel was to show up in my own life. Because every new day I got was a chance.
I didn’t want to fritter any of my days away.
I vowed to try harder, to make it count.

Don’t get me wrong. My self- accountability doesn’t change a fucking thing.
I’m not for one moment pretending it does. But as Oscar Wilde says:

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So instead of letting my inner critics tell me I was not good enough to try, I ignored them.
Instead of allowing the little voices in my head to stop me, I decided that if I was here, I would have a fucking go.
And so I have.
I’m not saying I’m any good at stand-up, but that’s besides the point.
Even if it just makes me happy, isn’t that success enough?

So last night was my last comedy boot camp class. I came away with a new routine, friendships forged and a new chapter in my book of life that hopefully I will look back on fondly one day, many years from now.
A chapter I shall probably call “The chapter I said fuck, a fuck of a lot”.

As we were having a post-class drink (best thing about comedy is that people aren’t afraid of a mid-week bevvy) is that while we we’re all surmising about our post-show nerves, it struck me that this beautiful little interlude is almost over.
That hanging out with this glorious bunch of funnymakers, twice a week, is nearly done.

So today, instead of feeling all jittery, antsy and eating my own weight in bagels from stress, I am trying to enjoy the experience.

I’m dancing to records that make me smile, like this one:

And this one:

Or this one:

And tonight, when I get on the stage, hopefully I’ll make people laugh a little.
Hopefully, I will remember to take a moment to remember that taking chances in life is fun.
And even if I suck, it’s all good. I’m bloody lucky that I get the opportunity to show up and re-write this chapter again tomorrow.
Well – as long as I don’t drink my own weight in gin at the post-show party, of course.

Something to get off my chest

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Hello three readers!

Sorry, it’s been a while. It’s not you. It’s me. I’ve been busy.
But yesterday, I read a blog post on the Internet that got me so incensed I feel there is no other option but to get it off my chest.

The article that has steam coming out of my lugholes is this one:

http://www.popsugar.com/moms/Covering-Up-When-Breastfeeding-37695809

This is the start of the article:

“Dear Breastfeeding Moms,

Okay, I’m just going to say what everyone’s thinking.

What’s with all the controversy about nursing in public?

I mean, seriously.

Is it really that hard to cover up?

Here’s the deal: Strangers don’t want to see your areola. (Yeah, that’s it.)”

The author, Janie Porter, a mother who breast fed her child, goes on to to say that while she doesn’t want to start a war on breast feeding,  she thinks women should cover up.
And she certainly doesn’t want her husband or pre-schooler son to see a flash of nip.
Sorry Janie, who gave you permission to speak for us all?
You know what everyone is thinking? Get real.
I’ll tell you what I’m thinking: your letter directed at breastfeeding Mums was nothing more than a passive aggressive rant.
It was wholly unnecessary.
You got my back up.
So now, the gloves bras are off.

Here’s the deal: you say nowadays women are applauded for breastfeeding and that there’s no stigma attached to it.
Can you spot the irony there?
Sorry to be the one to point it out to you, but your letter reeks of hypocrisy, worse than a  nursing bra stained in three-week-old breast milk.

Here’s why I’m mad: As women, we get shamed enough.
And by penning that letter, you highlighted that sadly, most shaming comes from women taking vicious snipes at each other: Slut shaming, frigid shaming, body shaming, hair shaming (as a dame with a ‘tache bushier than Tom Selleck I know all about that one), the list is endless.
We heap shame and judgement on each other for everything from our parenting skills to our feminist views and now, Janie, we can add breast feeding to the list.

You’re right about one thing, the right to breast feed and the dialogue surrounding it, has come a long way.
But for all the years that took,  along comes a post like yours, dressed up in a “Oh I don’t mean any harm” veil and unfortunately, it undoes a lot of hard work.

Why would you do that?

If you see a nature show on TV with an baby suckling its mother, is that abhorrent to you too?
Or do you just draw the line at our species?
I have some advice for you. Just like a nature show, if you don’t like what you see, look away.
Nursing mothers are hurting no one. You included.

Here’s the thing: making Mums feel uncomfortable about baring their boobs to breastfeed in public is way more disgraceful than a full tit exposed with a child attached to it.
Because it’s hard to breast feed fully covered. I should know. I nursed all three of my shiny diamonds.
Back when they were a newborns, it was easy. All they thought about was the task at hand:

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Flash forward a few months and the newborns who were totally focused, now hop on and off my breast more frequently than a carnie, working on a merry go round ride.

Full disclosure: I did my best to cover up. I’m British. We’re a bunch of prudes.
We make you look open minded.
But I envied those Mums who sat in full view, proud, feeding their kids, worrying about nothing.

Why is there such a dysfunctional culture surrounding breasts in North America?
There are so many contradictions about what’s acceptable.
But that’s another article entirely.

When I was a kid I spent a lot of time on the beaches of Europe.
Topless women of all shapes, ages, colours and sizes strutted without a care.
And what happened at such a flesh parade?
I’ll tell you.
Women rarely got a second glance.
I’m glad I got exposed to such a relaxed view about our bodies from such an early age. Pun intended.
It’s wonderfully liberating to understand that the human body is something to be proud of.

I’m sad for you that you don’t want your son to see Mums breastfeeding. I’m happy if my kids encounter a nursing mum. Its a chance to marvel at the wonder of human life. A chance to have a quick conversation about it being one of the best gifts in the world, a miracle that is also no big deal…how many others things can you say that about?
I don’t want my children to have hang ups about breasts, bare or otherwise.
In some cultures women can’t breastfeed publicly at all, whilst in many other countries it’s encouraged for women to do so openly, without shame.
As it should be.

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Mother’s Day is really just a slice of sunshine…one we all should serve.

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So I’m a little late posting about Mother’s Day.
But fuck it, I think I have a reasonable excuse.
This weekend I was on a Brownie camp, on a ranch, with more than a 100 girls.
However, this morning, when I awoke at the crack of dawn, the late-night giggly girls were all, at last, finally catching a few winks of sleep.
So I crept out of my cabin and recorded my thoughts.
Here they are.
The message might be late, but I’m hoping it’s a fairly good sentiment, no matter what day of the year it is.
Let me know what cha’ think.

You’re fecking kidding, right…? Dad Bod? Since when was Homer Simpson sexy?

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Right.

Brace yerselves, cos this post is about to get a little bit ranty.

If you were catching 40 winks whilst surfing the net this week, the latest trend to take men by storm, might have passed you by.
No, it’s not man buns.
It’s bigger than that.
And more literal.
But if you were thinking man buns…as in arse, then you’d be right on track.

This week, Leonardo Di Caprio made the headlines as the celeb who apparently, is a prime example of the “Dad bod”…cos’ ya know, it’s a thing:

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(photo courtesy of tumblr)

Now excuse me, but just what the FUCK is all that about?
Apparently, the size of Leo’s gut is big news. This shit just went viral.
The headline at Elite Daily was “Leo Di Caprio is living proof that ladies do love the Dad bod”
While the U.K.’s ‘Daily Mirror’ said:
“What is a ‘dad bod’? Introducing the physique that’s the hottest trend at the moment.”

Hottest trend?
Excuse me while I just go absolutelyfuckingbonkers.
What about the Mom bod?
When has that ever been celebrated?
Shamed yes. Ridiculed definitely. Mocked? Yes, yes, yes!!!
Here’s the thing: last month, a model posted a picture of herself, on Instagram, four days after giving birth. This is what she looked like:

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What’s up with that?
While I have no problem with Sarah Stage posting a pic of her svelte tum, five minutes after the placenta was extracted, (making the rest of us mothers feel like shit) how about this for a revelatory idea?

How about we all stop analyzing celebs physiques and  start discussing what’s really important? Like World peace, global warming and cat videos?

Cos when it comes down to it, Leo’s just a geezer.
Granted, by Noel Cowards standards of acting, “Know Your Lines and Don’t Bump Into the Furniture” he does it well. But do we really need to nit-pick him?
Or any one else; male or female, for that matter?

The fact is, rotund or ripped, it’s not news.
Not even Leo’s dust-buster beard, that is vaguely reminiscent of Mr. Twit, is worth commenting on:

 

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Why can’t we all just focus on shit that’s real?

This picture sums it up for me perfectly:

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Something to think about as you’re shopping for a new bathing suit this season… whatever bod you’re rocking.

Take a chance on you 

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So do you know what today is?

It’s national take a chance day.

Now I know there seems to be a bleeding day to celebrate everything, but in this instance I think this is a little something worth getting behind. We should all have a crack at chasing our dreams. Mark Twain said:

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Tonight I will be performing stand-up comedy in a local club and watching a group of first-timers who have spent the past six weeks writing, working and sweating on their first ever comedy sets. Tonight is their big debut and I’m so excited for all of them, to watch them take the stage and take a chance on life.
All too often we listen to the little critics in our head that tell us to quit. These guys are not doing that I’m proud of them for living life full throttle.

Just to hammer home the live your life like it’s golden sentiment, here’s a video from the eloquent Prince EA, who says it so much better than me. Have a good day – may you step out of your comfort zone…go on, surprise yourself.

And if that doesn’t do it for you, let Abba remind you:

Would you rather be a Demi-God or a mortal?

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On Sunday my son and I (boisterous being number one) embarked on our third crack at the Vancouver Sun Run. For those of you not in rain city, the Sun Run is one of the largest 10kms run/walks in the world. Before I go any further, let it be known that old Yifof is not much of a runner. I’m more of a happy shuffler. The Sun Run is right up my alley, because it welcomes people from all walks of life and abilities to lace up their runners and get involved. This annual tradition that me and my boy started is something that I look forward to year-round. Not only is it a splendid run, taking in the beauty of Vancouver, but for ten kilometres, running, walking and wheezing amongst thousands of other people, my son and I get to chat.

One on one.

The banter we share keeps our momentum and spirits up, and as a mother who can get bogged down with the day-to-day minutiae, I get to focus on my son. This year as we ran and walked, stopping only for water breaks and to high-five supporters lining the road, our topic of conversation was the Greek Gods. I have to say, not my first choice, simply because I know naff all about them, but as we pounded the pavement, I got a blow by blow account of these legends. The vast volume of information that my son has on these Gods, Demi-Gods and their offspring is staggering. For 10 kilometres he regaled me with tales of Poseidon and Athena and every other mythological being in between. Hearing about the Gods high-jinks From the unique perspective of a ten year-old kid is enthralling and hilarious all at the same time. This, all whilst soaking up the marvellous atmosphere of a collective experience.

What I love about the Sun Run is that it not only gives you a great view of our city, it also brings people together. All to often Vancouver gets a bad rap for being snobby, clicky and filled with pockets of communities that don’t mix. Some might say that as a city, it operates like an overgrown high school, where each group keeps to themselves. But on Sun Run day, all guards are dropped and every one gets into the spirit of a shared experience. All kinds of people line the roads to cheer-lead the participants. My boy and I saw some fabulous sights. People sitting in lawn chairs, sipping mimosas and encouraging the runners on with “Cheers!” and champagne. The sheer number of people who rise early on a Sunday morning to hold signs, offer support and soak up the vibe of a shared human experience, uplifted my soul in a way that is hard to put into words. Such moments are hard to come by. So I’d like to give a shout out to the people from all over the Lower Mainland who took the time to create this little slice of magic: The runners, the walkers, the cheering crew, the volunteers.  We really enjoyed the signs. We couldn’t take pictures of all of them, but here’s a couple:
 

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Of course this next sign was totally up Yifof’s alley:

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And when we crossed the finish line, how about this for a sight for sore legs:

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These fellas from Resource Works Society had the genius idea of cleverly marketing their cause in a cute package (pun intended).  Smart move. Get sweaty housewives falling into your arms, then alert them of your cause. Because they’re the ones who have the kids, and they are really the ones who have any bloody chance of saving our planet. So today on  World Earth Day, I salute the Natural Runners and their quest to get people talking  about how to use BC’s natural resources sustainably.  Check out their website for more information here: http://www.resourceworks.com/

On Monday an article was published on Buzzfeed that says a recent Stats Canada survey found Vancouver to be the unhappiest city in Canada. I disagree. After taking part in the Sun Run I know this city is so much more than melancholy hipsters. Maybe the naysayers, and indeed  all of us should try and put a little bit more sun-run spirit into our everyday lives.