Sunday, 9 June 2013

Being Beautiful

(Author's Note: I first published this online under another profile. I can assure you, I wrote it. It's me in the picture!)

I am beautiful.

I tell myself this dozens of times a day, because Society constantly conspires to tell me that I can't be. After all, I am over 40 and bigger than a size 2! However, I stopped trying to stuff myself into a societal pigeonhole some time ago, and I determined that beauty was a state of being, not just how I looked. When I am presenting myself to the world, I do so with the attitude in my mind and my heart that I am beautiful, and being dressed to the nines and in full makeup does the same thing for me that putting an oil painting into a stunning frame does for a landscape. It takes that beauty I feel inside and showcases it so others can see how great I feel.  Sometimes I see other women in the grocery store, and I recognise myself in them. Tired, overweight, unhappy; careless in their appearance because it is so much easier. Feeling beautiful shouldn't be hard work; it doesn't have to be, and looking good doesn't have to be an onerous task. I can do my face in under 10 minutes and feel so much better about myself, and it takes minimal effort.

MY favourite new beauty product is the BB creams that are sweeping into the marketplace, and I understand why...This single product is a foundation, sunscreen, primer, and all kinds of things rolled into one. If my face is a canvass, then this BB cream is the Gesso that preps it to create the masterpiece. Because I am concerned about under-eye circles and how thin my lips are, I always use just a little cover-up under my eyes and over my natural lip line. The BB cream brand I use currently is called "CathyCat'; it's imported from Korea, and the only English on the tube is the name. I swear it's why Korean women all have such beautiful skin! It does an amazing job with fine lines and large pores too! Now that I have flawless looking skin, there are only 3 things I need to do; eyes, cheeks, lips.

I don't bother with full eye makeup for daytime usually. Otherwise, it's just   mascara and eyebrow pencil; what could be easier?  The hardest part is the eyeliner, because I am getting shortsighted. I have to stand closer to the mirror to do the deep black eyeline look I love. Having the right liquid eyeliner product helps. The L'Oreal eyeliner I use has quite a long thin brush, so I can get the line right in three stages. First, I lay the line from the middle of my eyelid to the outer corner. Then, I reverse the brush and go towards the very inner edge with the thinnest line I can get. Finally, I wing out the outer edge to emphasise the almond cats'eye effect. On my cheeks, I use a little MAC creme blush right on the 'apples'. That takes 30 seconds, but it brightens me right up. For lips, I use a lipliner slightly outside my natural lipline. After I fill that in, I use a lipstick in the same colour family all over. Done!

Thursday, 10 May 2012

Dear Bully,

Your fifteen minutes may soon be up. I would like to take this opportunity to call you out, sir. You were not a merry prankster; you were a bully. You may actually not remember these bullying incidents, but I guarantee you, the people you hurt do. I was bullied all the way through elementary and high school. It’s in part why I was an alcoholic by the time I was 20. It’s also why I became an elementary school teacher. In my forty something years on Earth, I have learned a few things about bullies.

Here’s what I know. I KNOW bullying hurts; emotionally, psychologically, physically, and spiritually. In 1943, Abraham Maslowe wrote about our innate needs as human beings. Here’s my favourite version of the chart.

 I am proposing here what I'd like to think of as Sparrow's Theory of Belonging;  bullying prevents self-actualization by destroying one's sense of community. Being bullied makes CRYSTAL clear that the victim is other. They are not of the community, they are shunned. THEY DO NOT BELONG. That's the message, right? We get that. Those of us who have been bullied understood that message loud and clear. It's why we end up joining gangs, or becoming alcoholics and addicts, or why the bullied sometimes turn into the biggest bullies. Fight back and gain acceptance; that's the message lots of people give their bullied children with the best of intentions. For those who have been beaten down too far to fight back, or who know that yes, they are outside of what's societally acceptable in the primitive culture that is High School, that's not possible. That's why bullying causes suicide. The tormentors, though? Many of them go on to be successful and happy, because they can rationalise away their actions as High School Pranks.

I went to a high school where pranks were a big part of the graduation hijinkery. (GO SEMI TOTEMS!)
Sneaking onto the rugby field with dozens of bottles of bleach and spelling out GRAD 83 is a prank. Getting the rugby team to carry a 1970s Mini Cooper down a flight of stairs so you can drive it through the hallway (yes, really!) is a prank. Climbing over a barbwire fence to 'borrow' a speedboat and then chickening out halfway through is stupid, but it's still no more than a prank.* Pranks are funny and harmless. Pushing someone to the ground and cutting off their hair? NOT A PRANK!

I have a bad left shoulder. Perhaps this is due to the prank I was part of in 6th grade, when I was shoved from behind into a portable classroom wall. I'm pretty sure I hit it with my left cheek Pushing someone to the ground and cutting off their hair is assault. Saying "Attagirl" to a gay male classmate is hate speech. And by all that is good and pure in this world, DRIVING THOUSANDS OF MILES WITH YOUR DOG IN A BOX ON TOP OF YOUR STATION WAGON is animal abuse. 

This is the TWENTY FIRST CENTURY, Mr., and I am afraid that your ideas (Assaulting people is harmless fun! The dog loved it!) do not belong here. Please go away. Soon.

I wish you well in your life, and out of mine.

* I actually participated in one of these events in High School. Guess which one?

Wednesday, 28 March 2012

Dumbest. Thing. EVER!

I've done a lot of stupid things in my life. That's perhaps an understatement of epic proportions, considering the magnitude of some of said stupidity ("You know what would be fun? Let's climb over the barbed wire fence at the end of the White Rock Pier, and steal a boat!" Not my idea, granted, but I went along with the plan, all the way up to agreeing that no, those police sirens PROBABLY weren't for us, stealing the boat probably wasn't such a good idea, and we should probably go find someplace inside to continue with the rest of the evening's frivolity.) Yesterday, however, was a whole new level of stupid.

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Cougar Pride!

I admit it: I consider myself a cougar! A cougar in a cage, maybe. A semi-domesticated cougar. But when you're a woman in her mid-40s, and the two generations of women older than you in your family are both still pretty active and vibrant at 73 and 96, you have to be realistic.

My grandmother is 96 years old. She lives in an assisted living residence now, but she lived alone until she was ninety! She still goes dancing once a week with her 'friend', John. John is quite a catch in their circle; since he's considerably younger than my grandma, he can still drive! She NEVER misses a dance, because someone else might catch John's eye and then what would Grandma do? She's always been that way: had to have the attention of every man in the room on her all the time. I think she probably saw herself as a femme fatale. Of course, she liked a drink or twelve, too...At any rate, my dad learned early into my parents' marriage, FIFTY YEARS AGO, that he should always turn his head away quickly at the last minute if my grandma swooped in for a kiss, lest it be borderline icky. (The Mr. learned that too late, lo these many years gone by...still bears the emotional scars, poor lamb.)

My mother is 73 years old, but you'd never guess it by her energy or activity level. When my mother commits herself to doing something, she by God DOES it. Her garden is amazing. It looks like someone should be taking admission at the bottom of the driveway and directing traffic on the lawn. She used to do Tai Chi 5 days a week for several hours each day, and was the secretary treasurer too, but that got to be too stressful. Then she found out that the rigourous dairy-free lifestyle she's adhered to for years had resulted in osteoporosis in her back and hips. So now she's taken up weight-training to help rebuild her bone mass. Still does Tai Chi and walks daily too. And gardens. And, my hand to God, last year she learned to play the marimbas. I can't make that stuff up! Maudie was never really a cougar, because as I mentioned, she's been married to my dad since the year KENNEDY was elected (my parents got married a month later, incidentally, though I'm positive the two events were unrelated. However, much like a cougar, she goes out and scouts for new dens, decorates the dens, relocates everything into said new den from its labeled box from the prior den. The male lounges around the den dozing and watching golf, only venturing forth to play golf, eat, use the bathroom or sleep. At least, I fervently hope that at 76, that's all he comes out of his den to do!

The Mr. and I recently became quite interested in collectible silver coins. When we saw the Canada Cougar, the Mr. conceptualised it as a jewelry piece. Accordingly, I designed this choker using a Royal Canadian Mint $5 Canadian Coin. The coin, a limited minting, is attached to a black velvet choker using a silver tube bezel, skillfully applied to do the least amount of damage to this highly collectible silver coin. Fashioned from 1 ounce of pure 9999 silver, it features a cougar (mountain lion; puma; Puma concolor, or panther, depending on your part of North America. Here in BC, we call them cougars!)

Here's a closeup of the coin:
And here I am in my mock up photo version. Tomorrow, I'll figure out how I will attach the tube bezels to Queenie's ear to get it where I want it on the choker!

As shown* $97.50. To upgrade to a sterling silver chain, please contact me to discuss the length and diameter of rolo chain you'd like!

*Attractive redhead not included. Display model only.

Wednesday, 29 February 2012

I'm Sorry, But Our Operating Systems are Incompatible

Do you ever experience those Zen moments when everything falls into place,  and the words and metaphors you usually need to grab for just pop into your head? When you have that instant of perfect clarity and you can explain EXACTLY what you mean in such a way that it's like you're painting a digital image for your listener? They sure don't happen to me often, at least not in conversation. Those of you who have ever managed to get through a whole meaningful conversation with me know what I mean. There are a lot of false starts, and side tracks, and long pauses where I'm searching for a word that means exactly what I need to say. When your vocabulary puts in the 99.5th VIQ* percentile, that's a lot of words to choose from. It's like having MSWord running in my head, but it occasionally runs much slower than my mouth does. [The thing is: I talk like I write. Rather, I write like I talk. The difference is that in my writing I can do all of the editing in private and long before I send it out to the world. I can put it away and read it over time and again until it sounds right in my head before I hit the SEND or POST buttons. Language is how I relate to the world. If I could have every aspect of my every day scripted, edited, revised, rehearsed and memorised, I could run this bloody country. ] See that? Sidetrack. was the Zen. I was speaking with a young man at the grocery store. I talk to strangers. A lot. Buy me a t-shirt that says that and I will love you forever, in a total nonsexual way. Unless, you know, you're of age and  you're into that. I was trying to explain my disability to him. For those of you who didn't know I identify as having a Severe Learning Disability (and to paraphrase Dr. Sheldon Cooper, I have the test results to prove it!) that's known as Nonverbal Learning Disability. Here's the Wiki: .

The metaphor came to me like this: imagine your brain is a computer. Not hard, right? You know how there are dozens, if not hundreds, of programs on your hard drive. Imagine, though, that you have a hard drive that frequently runs programs that should just run silently in the background suddenly take over all your RAM. Tech experts; excuse my butchering terminology. I know my computer has RAM, and that means Random Access Memory, I think...but I know enough to know it's important.....Blue screen of death, no doubt, or "{Your Evil Overlord Operating System } has recovered from a serious error." That's me. There are parts of my brain that function incredibly well. To continue the metaphor, my word processing program PWNS, dude! My internal thesaurus scores in the 99.5th percentile! My cromulescence** never ends! In fact, it extends to a ridiculous ability to mimic accents and learn languages. You ought to see how freaked out Mandarin speakers get when I say to them "I don't understand what you're talking about" in Mandarin. In other areas, though, it's about as sophisticated as a Commodore 64.

I have minimal sense of direction, and really poor spatial awareness. Physically, I mean. I can parallel park either one of my cars like a boss! I bump into furniture, counters, doorknobs, the undersides of desks, cupboards, and today, a 50 inch TV set with my head! An honest to God, pound on the floor tantrum helped somewhat with the resulting frustration. I also fall down a lot. Like, a lot. It's particularly bad with stairs. And uneven pavement. Or if I happen to experience vertigo while hurrying across uneven pavement in a parking lot...I'm like the opposite of a Weebil, even after losing almost 75 pounds. If I wobble, I am sure as shit falling down.  If I am walking, and I stumble, there is a greater than 90% chance*** I'll fall ass over teakettle on my way to a scrape here, cut there, occasional scar, etc.I think my personal record, not counting when I used to drink excessively, is three falls in one week resulting in minor injuries. I continue to regret not letting the doctors at the local hospital examine my knee after I smashed it against an automatic door track when I fainted in their doorway....because I smashed the hell out of it. It was lumpy for weeks, in a way that kneecaps were not meant to be lumpy. Still hurts when I kneel on it wrong.

If you've ever been in my classroom, or my home, you know that while my creative enthusiasms and, dare I say it, abilities, are numerous, my organisational skills are....profoundly lacking. [Or,to again butcher the phraseology of my beloved Dr. Sheldon Cooper****, in my organisational paradigm, silverware on the couch is perfectly valid!) The more chaotic things get internally, the more chaotic things get externally. The more anxious I get about the chaos, the less able I am to function on anything but the most basic level. The anxiety mounts to a breaking point, at which point I generally crash into a depression. If you're reading this and thinking "What? Heather's had depression? I had no idea!" then either a) you don't know me in real life, or b) you DO know me in real life, but I've never trusted you enough to drop the "Play Normal" act. Or c) you have difficulty recognising human emotional states. If you come to my house and it's spotless, I've either been scrubbing for hours, or things are functioning pretty well. Or I haven't been home in days. Or all of the above. A popular ie: frequently played game in our house is called "This Doesn't Go Here". It's like something from Sesame Street but with more sarcasm and profanity.When I cook, as I cook, I have to keep a running under my breath commentary or internal dialogue that goes something like this;
Dude, where's my mug? Ah....mug found. OK. Now where's the damn coffee?

Coffee is located in the cupboard where it goes! Score! Filters? YES! Scoop? Scoooop? No frigging scoop. [search in several unlikely places, until scoop is located in dishwasher.] Filter is loaded, water is poured. Now I just need a pinch of salt. *spend 10 minutes or so tracking down the salt. Locate salt shaker on the living room floor****. Spend 20 minutes faffing about on bloody Facebook while coffee brews.*

OK....cream. Pour the cream. Pour the coffee in. Add the Splenda. Throw the wrappers away. Stir your coffee. Put your spoon next to the coffee pot. Grab a clean cloth and wipe up the coffee and cream you spilled. Put the cream back in the fridge.

 And without word of a lie, unless I go through that task that thoroughly from beginning to end, there will be wrappers on the counter all day long, and puddles of coffee drying in rings on the counters, and smears of jam on the kitchen island...because once I'm done drinking the coffee, I've long forgotten about spills and wrappers, and I've left the half full coffee cup on the table, and gone back to the internet 4 or 5 times, and possibly gone outside three or four times to try and photograph the hummingbirds in my backyard...

I could go on, and on, but I sort of have already, haven't I?

To sum up: I'm not crazy, my operating system just doesn't conform to your plug and play apparatus.

Oh yes, and my internal spell check sticks to Canadian/Commonwealth spellings, no matter how many updates I'm unwillingly forced into.

Notes: Oh come on, you knew I'd get to the asterixes eventually!
*VIQ: Verbal Intelligence Score. One half of the score that makes up your total IQ. 
**The state of being cromulent. What? It's a perfectly cromulent word.
***Like they say, 85% of statistics are made up on the spot. I just know it's way more likely than not.
****Yes, I am perfectly aware that he is a fictional character. Your point?
****These asterixes were a pain in the ass. Next time, I'm figuring out footnotes.

Welcome to my World

Won't you come on in?

You may know me as Wildheather, or Birdy, or even as Ms. S. You might have even met me once or twice in person. However, with the exception of one or two of me, you don't know me. Rather, you only know the persona that I wear in public. The private me is someone quite different than that person, and very few people ever get to see past the bluff. With that in mind, and with the purpose of helping me bring more of my authentic self to the surface, I've decided to open up JUST a little bit more of myself to the world outside.

Some of what I have to say may surprise you. Some of you may not like some of what I have to say. That's okay with me: if you don't like it, you always have two options: read it and disagree, or don't read it. It's unlikely that you'll manage to change my mind, so arguing won't do either of us any good. (Besides, no one really wins an argument on the internet, do they?) But here goes nothing....feel free to tag along.