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Thursday, 18 September 2014

It ain't over til the fat lady sings...



Therefore it's over.   I'm in a local amateur theatre show (The Metropolitan Musical Theatre's "My Fair Lady - come and see it please!  Tickets at www.metmusicals.com.au).  And one of my helpful cast members taped a rehearsal so we could practice a particularly complicated dance routine.

I started to watch the video and wondered where I was and who the fat lady was who seemed to be where I thought I was.  Yup. It was me.  Now granted, I was in baggy rehearsal gear and granted "the camera adds 10 pounds" but to misquote Chandler (to Monica in Friends) - HOW MANY CAMERAS WERE ON ME?

I know I've put on 10 kilograms,   I know I'm still 20 kilograms lighter than what I weighed at my heaviest.  I know my body has changed due to age and two babies, and weirdly, part of it isn't even the extra 10 kilos (I'm prepared for middle aged spread to some extent), what shocked me was the way I moved.

I've always been a dancer.  Since age 4.  I've always considered myself light on my feet, and pretty damn good on the d-floor.  Truth be told, dancing is when I feel my fittest, strongest, most powerful and sexiest.

But watching this video I saw someone clunky.  Someone who had to brace herself to get up from the floor, the way my elderly aunty does when she gets out of a chair.  I saw someone huffing and puffing to get her legs up for the spring kicks and someone who looked like she pounded the floor when she "elegantly waltzed" around the floor in the ballroom scene.

It shocked me to the core.  More than the ever-increasing waistline measurement, more than the 'oh-dear-I-have-to-buy-the-next-size-up moment in the dressing room.  Because this is something I've always prided myself on.  I've never really been hung up on my weight.  I've been skinny and I've been fat and everything in between and my self-esteem was not tied up in the number on the scale.

But this ungraceful, heavy, huffing, puffing, middle aged woman careening inelegantly away on the dance floor was not someone I found attractive, sexy or powerful.  So it's time to put down the fork full of schnitzel and hit the gym.  I'm not going to weigh myself, now or later, but I am going to, once again, feel light on my feet.

Wednesday, 10 September 2014

RU OK?




I don't have depression. I don't have anxiety. I don't have any form of mental health issues. I don't have any physical health issues. I have a roof over my head, a job, both my parents, and two great kids.  I have friends that love me and a hobby that sustains me.  Just for today, I am not okay.

I am tired.  I am weary.  I am exhausted. I am alone.

As a single parent all the emotional, physical, and financial burden falls to me.  I chose to have kids. I love my kids. I did not choose to do this alone.  But alone I am.  I'm tired.  My shoulders are heavy.

As a full time working parent I juggle guilt on sides.  Guilt I don't give enough at work. Guilt I don't give enough at home.  Wanting to work more hours to make the money situation less stressful, not actually having any more hours in a week to actually do this.  I'm tired.  My mind is a blur.  Sleep does not come easy at night.

As a single woman that has her kids 80 per cent of the time I haven't yet found someone special. It's not that I don't get out.  That 48 hours once a fortnight I don't have my kids, I am out and about.  I'm out running the errands I can't do when they're with me.  I lunch with friends.  I see amateur theatre productions, go to movies, rent DVDs, hang out with friends, who give me dinner in return for me making dessert.  I walk my dog, I have coffee, I laugh.  I have wonderful friends that I spend hours laughing with.  They sustain me, inspire me, challenge me, accept me and love me.  But I have no one special to curl up on the couch with to share the good times or the not so good times when I want to share them.  I'm tired. I'm alone.

This feels like belly-aching when I look around me and see people fighting depression, people struggling with anxiety, people trying to knock cancer on it's butt.  People who lost their parents too young.  People estranged from their children.  People who, in general have it a lot, lot worse than I do.  I know I've got it ridiculously easy compared to most.  So I feel like it's entirely reasonable for others to tell me to suck eggs and be grateful for what I've got.     I am tired. I feel guilty for feeling this way.

But today I just want to drop my bundle at someone else's feet and give my shoulders a rest.  Because I've been doing this alone for 10 years and I just want a break, a minute, an hour to hand it all over to someone else temporarily, until I feel able to pick it all up and carry it again.  Because I can. Because I will.  Because I will be okay. Tomorrow. I am strong.



You ain't never had a friend like me



This my gay pretend-husband and I at our joint birthday/pretend-wedding celebration.  Or as our friends know it - Bec and Daniel celebrating being Bec and Daniel.  I'm a straight 44 year old woman.  He's a gay 27 year old man - and we're besties.

There really is nothing quite like the friendship between a gay man and a straight woman.  It's not quite siblings, it's not quite friends, it's not quite lovers, but at the same time it's also kind of all three at once (without the sex).  Okay, okay, I'm willing to admit - maybe this is like this, just for us.

I can be myself around him.  Warts and all.  There's no judgement.  Maybe it's because he's gay and he's faced judgement in his life and he's determined not to inflict that on others.  (Okay - with one exception - he'll judge what I'm wearing.  But normally his fashion advice is spot on.)  Is that stereotypical?  I don't know.  I trust him to be honest with me.  He'll let me know if an outfit is working or not.  Clearly the outfit in this photo totally works....for a dress up party.

We watch Disney films together and sing all the parts (sometimes he's the girl - we switch according to the key range).  This embarrasses my kids, but we love it.  We go to the movies together and we watch musicals and action adventure equally.

He drinks wine, I drink beer, we both like scotch a lot.  We love a quiet Friday night in eating pizza in our trakkies as much as getting all glammed up for a fabulous new bar.  We both LOVE food. To excess.  We're both happy to rub each other's bellies when we've over-eaten all the good stuff.  Cheese. OMG we both love cheese.

I can talk to him about anything to do with sex (SEXY TIME QUESTIONS is the funnest game ever.)  We argue about politics, we ramble on about tv shows, we randomly sing songs at each other.  We can look at each other from across the room and know what each other is thinking.  Sometimes I feel like we're two halves of the same coin.  His wonderful partner Simon, has said to me that he knew when he came on the scene that he had to pass muster with me if Daniel and he were to work out.  If ever someone comes on the scene for me - well they'll have to pass muster with Daniel.  He trusts me to see what he can't and vice versa.  He messages me during the day and sometimes we even message each other the same message at exactly the same time. We're HILARIOUS with the back and forth.  Others may not think so, but as he'd say "they'd be wrong".

I've had a rough trot with friends in the past. Sometimes I've had friends that seem to be in competition with me.  I'm not sure what we're competing for.  Sometimes I've had friends who only seem to be there for the successes and not the failures.  They haven't lasted long.  Sometimes I've had friends who are only interested in what they can get from me and never give back.  Actually, now that I think about it I'm not sure any of the above qualifies as friendship.

But with Daniel I feel equal, I feel accepted, I feel loved.  So I just want to celebrate him for a bit.  And as he'll tell you - he's worth it.


Sunday, 15 June 2014

With a little bit of luck...


Around 10 years ago I suffered from anxiety due to a long term situation I was in.  It would start with a pain in my chest which felt like indigestion, but wasn't.  My heart would race and occasionally skip a beat, my hands would shake and adrenalin would surge through my body.  I'm long since removed from the situation and therapy has helped me deal with the anxiety.  I rarely suffer from it now, although if I feel I'm in situation similar to the one that used to trigger it, the symptoms will come on again.  However I'm now equipped with techniques to calm myself down, and have used them successfully.

I had a very different experience on Sunday with something I can only assume was blind panic.  I was auditioning for a role in a local amateur theatre production of My Fair Lady.  It's not my first audition, and I had worked with everyone on the audition panel in previous productions - so there were no unfriendly faces.  Now, I normally get nervous before an audition, but as someone who's been a performer since the age of 5 I know how to harness those nerves and always in the past, once the music starts muscle memory kicks in and a performance happens.  Also, I have this weird ability in job interview to harness nerves and normally interview really well.  So what happened next came as a surprise.

The pianist starts playing my audition song and I start to sing and I'm not in the right key.  I ask for another start and the same thing happens again.  The Musical Director, who knows I can sight read, offers me the libretto so I can quickly re-acquaint myself (with the song I had been practising for over three weeks on a daily basis) and try again.  I look down at the sheet of music and the words and they are suddenly a bunch of meaningless symbols that I can't translate.  It's like she's given me a book written in another language.  It was the most bizarre and frightening experience of my life.  I slammed the book shut and said I'll just try again.  I hit the key I was supposed to be in, but was so rattled by the experience that I lost the words of the second verse.  Bless her heart, the MD sang the third verse along with me to keep me going.

I went on to finish the dancing and reading section of the audition without any problems.  But for 10 seconds of my life I had the worst moment of blind panic a person can experience.  It was like something out of a nightmare, except I wasn't dreaming.

Panic and anxiety should never be underestimated.  It's a scary, scary thing.

Oh and one more thing: "C'mon Dover!  Move ya bloomin' arse".

Monday, 14 April 2014

Girl, You'll Be A Woman Soon.

I'm not sure a picture can get more girlish/feminine/Disney/Princess than this photo of me.  Although if you find one let me know.

Today's topic is femininity and why I'm not sure I feel it.  Or maybe I feel it but don't understand what the feeling is.  Don't get me wrong, I wear enough make up, own enough dresses and have the stereotypical fetish with shoes to "qualify" as a woman.  (Please, please note the tongue in cheek use of quotation marks.)

This weird turn of mind comes about, because recently I've had friends of various ages talk to me about their femininity or their womanhood or their essential feeling of femaleness.  After listening to them I don't think I have this.

One of my friends is a much older lady.  She has been through menopause and come out the other side, but for various reasons she's about to undergo a total hysterectomy.   They're taking everything and she was quite upset about this and telling me that she's not sure she'll feel feminine or female after they take the bits that represent that, out of her.  I didn't understand completely where she was coming from.  You see, she's a grandma and she definitely wasn't using those bits anymore.  I don't mean she doesn't have a fulfilling, raunchy, hang-from-the-sex-swing-in-your-rafters sex life with her husband of 40 years, what I'm saying is that babies were a highly unlikely result from said sex life. So how could she feel less womanly?  I kept these thoughts to myself, because obviously she was feeling very strongly about this and hugs were far more appropriate.  I'm not judging her on her feelings by the way, I'm judging me on mine.

Another friend has been through breast cancer.  She's very close to getting the one that was "lopped off" (her words), reconstructed and she was excitedly telling me that she'll feel like a woman again.  I didn't think that she wasn't anything other than one of the strongest women I've ever met and I've never seen or thought of her as less than. So why did she?

Are we, as women designed or educated to feel that our bodies are the only way of expressing our womanliness?  Or is that exactly how we are supposed to express it?  With our bodies?

I don't think about my body that way.  I don't equate my girly bits with well...being a girl.  In fact when I stop and think about myself,  I don't even think about myself in girly/female/womanly terms.  I am simply Bec.  This made me wonder if that's normal? (OH HELL - WHAT EVEN IS NORMAL???)  But you get my drift, right?

There are people out their struggling with gender identity, there are people out there struggling with faulty reproductive systems, cancerous jiggly bits and I wonder if we as human beings are only designed to suddenly ponder gender when faced with any difficulties with it.  In the grand scheme of things is that how we work?  Do we only consider a problem when we are faced with it?

I'm not even sure I think about it when I think about sexy times.  My focus is on the connection I have with the other person.  That connection to the soul, the eyes, the brain, the intellect, the emotion is what I feel then.  So I'm guessing I missing something here.  Or maybe I do feel it - I just don't use gender terms in my head when I do.

What does it mean for you?

Monday, 10 February 2014

Out of the mouths of babes...



My 11 year old son is trying to get voted on the Student Rep Council.  He had to prepare a speech for his class mates.  He asked me to read it when he was done and see if there was anything I would change.

Nope son.  Not a word.

*27 February 2014 update
He was not voted into the Student Rep Council and the feedback that he received from his teacher was that he didn't use enough persuasive language about HIMSELF.  My kid was focused on what he could do for others, and wasn't interested in talking himself up.  I thought that's what public service was about.  Maybe we're both too idealistic?

Thursday, 6 February 2014

I'm your Number One Fan



My 15 year old received a $15 voucher for K-Mart over Christmas from an elderly aunt. We both wondered what he would spend his money on.  I was the one who had the joy of trailing behind him while he looked at games, Cd's, clothes and lollies.

He (and I) had given up hope and started to walk out of the store when he walked past a fan.  He's been bugging me about getting one for his room for years (he likes the constant hum) but I'm not one for increasing my electricity bill so I've dragged my heels about getting one.  His face split into a wide grin when he saw the fan was on sale for $15. VOUCHER+RIGHT PRICE=15 YEAR OLD BOY CARRYING HUGE FAN BOX TO MY CAR.

He waited a week to put it together.  Now I am the Queen of Putting Things Together.  Nearly every piece of (thanks Ikea!) furniture in my house I've put together.  The only thing that wasn't, was my coffee table.  My dad put that together.  It fell apart after 6 months.  Handy is not his thing.  Long winded stories about the ships of Australia and the history of Kangaroo Island are.

I asked my son if he wanted me to put it together for him, but apparently that was treading on his newly formed man toes (as opposed to pudgy piggies that go to market).

So one night at 10pm he decided that was the perfect time to put the fan together.

"Make sure you check you have all the parts, before you start" I offer helpfully.

"MUM I AM NOT AN IDIOT I CAN DO THIS" was the grateful reply.  So I settle back on the lounge with my book and soda water, sip loudly and slowly and flip my pages noisily.

Thirty minutes later with what I am sure was mumbled swearing he comes in and asks for help.  Because I'm a good and loving parent, I hide my smug "I knew you would ask for help" smile.

The fan pieces are strewn across the floor and the instructions are nowhere to be seen.

So first things first I find the instructions and together we start to build the fan.  The cool thing is that we also got to build our relationship a little by saying awesome things to each other like "hold the damn blade still" and "that's too small to go in there" and "why is this bloody screw going in wonky" "where is the plastic clip thingy - I JUST gave it to you to hold/You didn't give me any plastic clip thingy/Oh here it is, under my foot" and "OMG it's hot in here I wish we had a fan".

Seriously, we actually work together well.  He's good at holding the heavy stuff.  I'm good at the fiddly stuff where his rapidly expanding man-hands can't fit.  Together we get to the last step before the fan is complete.

Except there are no more pieces.  It's the long slidey-shiny metal thing that helps adjust the height of the fan (yes that is the technical term, thank you very much).  So we assume he's put it down in another room while he searched for the philips head screwdriver (which we didn't need).

So I ask the fatal question, 'Did you check you had all the parts before you started?'  He looks at me, guilt written over his face.  (I swear it's in male DNA that instructions are the enemy and to be feared).  We turn the house upside down and no luck.  I swear we look for 30 minutes and it's pushing 11pm - on a school night

So I say "Well mate, we've got to take it apart and take it back to the shop."  He's angry and disappointed.  But I tell him he's learnt the first rule of any construction.  Make sure you've got all the right tools and all the right parts.

We turn the bottom base pole upside down to remove a set of screws and lo and behold the long slidey-shiny metal thing falls out.  HALLELUJAH. LORD JESUS WE'RE SAVED.

The fan has now been running for a week and he will need to get a job to pay for the electricity bill.  But hey, he's happy. He's got a fan.  Everyone should have at least one fan.  He's lucky he's got two - because I'm his Number One fan.