Tuesday, June 28, 2011

The Scar Project- In The Shape of a Heart

  My second submission is from Heather H. at Gypsy Bitsy (thanks Heather!). During a conversation we had last month she mentioned a scar she's had for a few years, which has healed in the shape of a heart (the point is to the left and up a little in the photo). I like the sybolism of it. Here's her story..

 "The incense stick was labeled 'Rain'. It smelled like wet pavement and pine trees, a thick aroma wafting through my bedroom. It wasn't supposed to be burning. It wasn't even supposed to be in the house. My parents' house.
  No fire allowed behind closed doors, period. Father was adamant I'd burn the house down 'one of these days' with my collection of candles and incense--or I'll set off the smoke alarm, wake him up, can't I just knock it off?


  I can't. I'm Seventeen. Hurtling like a star through an uncertain sky, burning bright with every emotion on the spectrum. So many colors at once that the world turns white--the tip of the incense stick touches my skin, the pain is there, but I only feel gravity. Relief. Release. A small amount of blood, the tissue turning to gum, and when I'm done, I know this won't be the end.

   I've been cutting since middle school. This is my forth or fifth burn. The first in a prominent spot. Why should I cover it?--pretend to be fine?

   I've set off an alarm. The bells are ringing, loud, but not so clear. "What happened?"

  Father will insist I "see someone about that". He cannot say what exactly, will not specify. He will not look at it, will not look at me, for months. But I will see someone. A counselor. She will ask, "how did that make you feel". And I will say something snide. Flip my hair. I will not remember anything about those sessions except for the square of her office, the dead roses she kept in a vase, her Nordstrom Rack shoes with the barcode still on the bottom.

  I see this woman as an obstacle to my freedom. Father says that if I see her once a week, I can see the boy that I'm in love with. After three months, this boy will ask me "what happened". He will be the first to love me, the first to give me permission to love myself, and he will kiss my scar as it's healing, and he will tell me "please don't hurt yourself anymore, you don't see it, but you're hurting me, too".

  It's been about six years since the last time I hurt myself, but I still have the scars. This scar, the burn on my wrist, is something people see every day. Some people ask what it's from. Some people assume. But I rarely answer directly. I say, "oh, I burned myself a long time ago," and then I say, "but look how cool it is, it's healed into a heart".

   This is a symbol of hope, a physical reminder that as resilient as the body is the soul is even more so.

  Our scars are our stories, and our stories are what we make them."

I'm still looking for more submissions so if you have a scar and want to share your story please contact me.

Sunday, June 26, 2011

Secret Sunday

Hey everyone, time for the twenty-ninth round of Secret Sunday, a chance to share secrets and/or fantasies you've been keeping to yourself. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain naughty.

All are valid.

This is open to anyone who wants to participate, from regular follower to casual visitor. You can participate anonymously. If this is something you'd like to run on your blog please feel free to copy the rules.

What's your deepest secret?...

Thursday, June 23, 2011

Just One of Those Things...

  Y’know those moments where something seems so funny you laugh until you cry and just can’t stop? Then when you finally compose yourself you happen to think of it and totally lose it all over? That was today.

  One of the girls at work said she was going to see a play, which started this conversation..

Girl #1: “I’m going to see Richard the Third.”
Girl #2: “Do you have an appointment?”
     Me: “Yeah, he’s probably busy.”

  This sent Girl #2 and I into hysterics to the point of crying. Girl #1 just kinda looked at us all funny then started to crack up too.

  Fast forward to dinner tonight.

  I tell Sandy the story and lose it again. She‘s looking at me like I‘m possessed, I go through about four tissues to dry my eyes before once more gaining control. Then this happens..

Sandy: “I suppose King Lear was out of the question.”
     Me: “He was unavailable.”

  What followed was another ten minutes of my life I’ll never get back. You had to be there, but damn was it funny!

  My head hurts.

Wednesday, June 22, 2011

A Greater Understanding- Depression

                                   personal LoveReminder

   I began my "Greater Understanding" series as a way of addressing life's heavier subjects through the words of those who have lived them. I think it's important to talk about these issues, getting them out in the open will hopefully help dissolve some of the mystery and stigma surrounding them. Acknowledgement and understanding are I believe the first steps towards healing.

 Today's post on depression was written by Heather H. from Gypsy Bitsy. Heather and I have recently become friends and she's challenged my thinking on things I thought I had all the answers to. It's been interesting to say the least.

  In her words...    

  "When a person is born with a physical disability—a shortened leg, or only one lung—the world would never expect that person to ‘just get over it’. When a person has a disability, they learn how to use their bodies—make the most of their physical experience—they learn to navigate the world differently and perhaps more preciously because of their disability.
  In many ways Depression is a disability. One popular drug company’s commercial asks: Where does Depression hurt?
  The answer is: Everywhere.
  When I was seventeen I was diagnosed with Chronic Depression.
  And unfortunately, I wasn’t prescribed ‘chronic’ for my Depression. The doctor put me on Zoloft. A drug that—five years later—was prescribed to my friend Carly and is likely to have caused the volatile moodswing that resulted in her suicide.
  When I was on Zoloft my brain was only working at half-speed. And for someone like me, whose personality is largely based on mental prowess, it was HIGHLY disturbing. My usual bright banter and sarcastic quips slowed down to a crawl. I felt like a tennis player standing around at the Wimbledon, no longer sure what the racket is for.
  I wrote it in all caps across the spine of my binder. Threw away the Zoloft. & woke up my brain, let’s get out of here.
  If people can run marathons with metal legs, and swim with no arms, surely—I thought—Depression shouldn’t be that hard to deal with.
  But the thing about Depression is that it’s a Tricky, GREEDY, Bastard. Those who are affected by Depression understand that statement.
  Depression wants it all.
  Depression can make us fat, or emaciate us. It can make us crazy. It can break the spirit, break the heart.
  Depression makes us selfish, because when anyone is in an excruciating amount of pain they are not willing or able to help anyone else.
  But mostly, Depression makes us liars.
  We buy into the propaganda in our heads. We start believing we’re worthless, or that the world is an ugly place, we believe that other people will never love or understand us because of our disability. We believe those things so much, that we might even share those lies with other people.
  So how do you ‘get over it’?
  If you’re like me, with Chronic Depression, or Major Depression, or have a Mood Disorder, here’s step one: Go find a mirror, look at yourself, and tell yourself that it’s okay.
  Telling yourself that it’s okay is the first step, because no healing can take place without acceptance.
  Whenever your Depression crops up acknowledge it straight away. Remember, it’s a tricky greedy bastard, it will only get louder if it’s ignored. So look at that M-Eff-er, and say: Hey, Asshole, I’ve got a life to lead, and goals to make, and I don’t need to carry around your sixty pounds of bullshit and lies everywhere I go because I know better than what you’re telling me.
  Take back control from the voices in your head.
  Tell yourself whatever you need to hear. Tell yourself the Truth.
  Get past your pride and start asking for what you need from other people in your life. If you need to be told you’re loved more often, ask more often. If you need a hug, ask for one. Don’t stare at your phone waiting for people to call you, call them. The more you put yourself out there, the more people will reciprocate.
  Stop crouching your spirit under your Depression label. Say ‘I experience Depression’, rather than, ‘I am Depressed’. ‘Depressed’ is not my name. I am Heather. You are you. Make that distinction clear to yourself.
  Staving off Depression is a constant battle.
  Do not be seduced by the Enemy. Don’t dress it up in fancy black clothes and feed it comfort food, or play its favorite sad music, NEVER let it get you alone. It won’t hesitate. As soon as you’re weak enough, comfortable enough with this lethargy, Depression will take you to the darkest corner of your mind and convince you end your own life.
  It’s a lie.
  Write the truth: I [Name Here] am loved. I am capable of living a meaningful, successful, life. I matter. My life matters. There are things I enjoy: [make list]. People I love: [make list] And things I still want to experience: [make list].
  Keep these lists close to you. In your wallet is a great place. Especially if Depression comes hunting you at the mall or at a party in a room full of people.
  Lastly, there are many good Anti-Depressant medications that have been very helpful tools in fighting Depression. However, because Depression is a tricky greedy bastard, it’s not always satisfied by having the chemical balance restored in the body, it’s already shaped the way the thought process in the brain works—and so it’s important to also have a Cognitive Behavioral Therapist to talk to if you’re on medication.
  Suicide risk increases with many Anti-Depressants.
To Review:

1. Tell yourself that it’s okay. Depression is a type of disability, but you are not Abnormal.

2. Recognize that Depression is a tricky greedy bastard. Catch that guy at the door, block his entrance. Throw down like in Macaulay Culkin in HomeAlone.

3. Retrain the ‘Voice in Your Head’ to sound more like your best friend. Your inner voice should be kind, supportive, inquisitive, patient, like your best friend would be. (If your best friend is as much of an asshole to you as the Voice of Depression, get rid of him/her immediately)

4. Start asking for what you need. Don’t assume that people know your needs and are withholding. Like John Mayer said, “if you want more love, why don’t you say so?” It’s a rhetorical question.

5. Understand the difference between who you are, and what Depression is.

6. Depression is the enemy. Address its body of lies. Make it real. Then, kick it in the groin.

7. Write your Truths, to dismantle Depression’s lies. “Actually, I am pretty.” “People do love me, here are their names”

8. TALK TO A PROFESSIONAL, especially if you’re on medication. Friends are wonderful resources, so is family, but they are not mental health professionals, and even if they are it’s good to have someone who is an unbiased safe-zone.

Good luck, Warriors. & remember, I’m on the battlefield with you everyday. & so are millions of others. You are not alone.You are loved."

  Heather, thanks for taking the time to contribute. I'm thankful you were able to fight back and not let this consume you. It would be a shame if we never met.

Sunday, June 19, 2011

Secret Sunday

Hey everyone, I hope your weekend was as good as mine! Time for the twenty-eighth round of Secret Sunday, a chance to share secrets and/or fantasies you've been keeping to yourself. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain naughty.

All are valid.

This is open to anyone who wants to participate, from regular follower to casual visitor. You can participate anonymously. If this is something you'd like to run on your blog please feel free to copy the rules.

And now to it...

Thursday, June 16, 2011

The Scar Project- First Submission

  Most of us have scars from something, self-inflicted or otherwise. Some have a great story behind them, others are painful reminders of things we'd rather forget. But all are part of the journey of our lives. I'd like to feature yours on my blog; if you're interested in participating please check here for details. I'm in no way trying to romanticize or glamorize the wounds life gives us.  My hope is that sharing them might help raise awareness in some of what others have gone through.

  My first submission comes from Fenella, though it's a bit long it was an interesting read. In her words...

  "I had a benign tumour, called a Focal Nodular Hyperplasia on my liver. It measured 10 x 9 x 9 cms or thereabouts. Anyway, it's my favourite scar, it has such a long story behind it. Oh and feel free to use my name, I'm proud of what I went through!"

August 27, 2010

   "I was awoken around 5.45am to prepare for surgery. I was met by a lovely smelling nurse and the anaesthetist, who proceeded to try to find my horrid veins. In the mean time the nurse packed me under a blanket that had warm air pumped into it, it was very cosy indeed. Next thing I was aware of was them telling me that I would begin to feel tired and I was out like a light.

   "Fast forward through all the surgery bits, coz I have no idea what they did! I woke up in my room, or at least that's the first memory I have. I was in a single room, hooked up to oxygen via a facial mask. I later discovered I had a drain in my stomach, coming from my liver, a catheter so I didn't have to get up to wee and a central line straight into my neck to administer IV drugs and to easily take bloods. I also had a PCA – a Patient Controlled Analgesic device. This contained morphine and I could press a little button and administer it to myself as required. I had a drip line feeding me ketamine too, this is a common analgesia used after surgeries (as well as an illegal party drug). I was fairly comfortable, though I did ask for a nose prong oxygen mask rather than the facial mask. The only weird thing for me was the anaesthetic drugs had wonked my eyes, I couldn't focus any further than a couple of feet in front of me.

   "Of course a lot of my memory of this time is really broken, but I do remember the first night having a bad reaction to the ketamine they were giving me. I'd started feeling uneasy and unsettled and it escalated into me feeling terrified and really unwell and unhappy. They took me off it immediately and within 20 mins I started to feel a lot calmer and happier.

   "On my 4th day of admission I was told that I could go home. When I woke up the next day I was feeling ok, refreshed but still like a complete space cadet. Then everything went pear shaped! By mid afternoon I was in a huge amount of pain and it was escalating. By late afternoon I was pacing the house, crying, moaning and wondering where the heck it had all gone wrong.

   "I knew I had to get back to the hospital, so my friend who is now an absolute angel in my eyes, picked me up and we met my Dad at the hospital. I was suffering more than I ever had, more than the very first few hours out of surgery and I knew things weren't right. Within 20 mins I was in an E.R. bed. Things moved slowly that night, but I was given lots more pain relief and felt a lot happier. I spent about 24 hours in the E.R, most of those waiting for a bed to become available up on my old ward. Eventually I was given some disgusting contrast liquid that supposedly tasted like aniseed. I had to drink that and then wait for my CT scan that had been booked in. I had my CT scan done, they injected a different contrast into me and I was taken back up to my E.R. bed. By 7pm I got the word that I was to move back up to my old ward. To say I was happy was an understatement. Eventually I was wheeled up on a wheelchair and settled into my new bed on 7 East. I felt like I'd come home and immediately relaxed into my new environment. I then spent another 4 days on 7 East.

   "I had plenty of visitors in my time in hospital which was great. I must say the nurses I had were by far the best I've ever had. Always smiling and nothing was too much for them. I developed quite a healthy crush on one of them, a gorgeous red head who was chirpy and ever so sexy. I got to spend quite a bit of time with her, so that made my days entirely sunnier. She was the one who removed my staples, well some of them. She had a student nurse with her and after she'd removed a few I asked the student nurse if she wanted to remove the rest. She was excited to be given the task. Thankfully it was a painless procedure and after a few minutes all 30 staples had been removed.

   "The next day I was given the all clear to head home, after 10 accumulated days in hospital. In hindsight, they never should've sent me home after 4 days. It was far too soon and I'm not surprised I ended up back in hospital. But I'm very happy with everything else that happened. I've got a nice clean scar that is healing really well. During my first visit home, I entirely felt that the surgery had been a big mistake and I was wishing that I'd never had it done. But now that I'm feeling better and am far more relaxed, I realise that it really was worth it."

after surgery

ten months later

Thanks for this Fen, it means a lot to me! I've enjoyed getting to know you.

Wednesday, June 15, 2011

Our Anniversary Dinner

Last night Sandy and I went out for dinner at The Keg to celebrate our 14th wedding anniversary. (Some of you in the US may be familiar with The Keg, for anyone else who isn't it's a steakhouse restaurant). Here’s our evening…

   Since we're without reservations there's a twenty to thirty minute wait, which we happily spend on the outdoor patio. We're seated in front of a big glass wall with a cascading water feature, which obscures the busy road behind it. Nice touch. I'm driving tonight and don't plan to drink until dinner so I ask for a glass of ice water. Sandy orders a Miami Haze (Polar Ice vodka, peach schnapps, mango, orange and pineapple juice with a splash of cranberry cocktail), which she thoroughly enjoys. She seems somewhat charmed by the cuteness of our blonde server but I, of course, am oblivious to it all. (at least for the purposes of this post). During the conversation I quickly calculate that at twenty years old our talkative waitress would have been one when Sandy and I first met.  At this moment I hate math more than ever.

   After a short time our table is called. Being of typically modern, contemporary decor the restaurant is dimly lit. We take our seats and as we peruse the menu I ask our server for some candles. Not so much to set the stage for romance as to cast some light, since neither of us have our reading glasses and can barely read the menu. Kill me now.

   A basket of piping hot sourdough bread with churned butter is brought to our table. Sandy orders an Argentinian malbec to drink paired with a prime rib steak, twice-baked potatoes and sauteed mushrooms. I'm having an Oscar sirloin (topped with shrimp, scallops and asparagus tips in a Bernaise sauce) with a side of rice pilaf and Rosemont Estates shiraz to wash it down. God I love Australian reds.

   We chat as we wait for dinner. Sandy looks great, this girl knows how to dress. Our meal arrives and it's delicious, they never disappoint at this restaurant. I’m warned that the horseradish has a potent kick but decide to attack it anyway, and it fights back. My sinuses are flooded with a prickly sensation that rattles around in my brain before escaping out my ears; it’s the culinary equivalent of Steve Carell in The Forty-Year-Old Virgin getting his chest waxed. With each bite I utter a stream of silent expletives, until seconds later the flavour settles upon my palette. It’s a deliciously twisted game.

   Dessert time. Sandy’s weapon of choice is a B-52 coffee with a bowl of French Vanilla ice cream.  Quite decadent. I order warm apple crumble topped with vanilla ice cream and a tea. We end dinner with a toast of complimentary champagne before heading home, where we have an enthusiastic romp between the sheets before drifting blissfully off to sleep.

The End.

(Actually there's no romping, we're too stuffed to do anything. With heads on our pillows, the night ends with whispers of days to come, each bringing us closer than the last. What more could one ask for?)

PS: For the benefit of some of you who are wondering, here's what Sandy wore. I love this outfit:

Sunday, June 12, 2011

Secret Sunday

All I want
To know of you

Is everything.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

21 Things About Me

  • I'm 5'11"
  • I once rode a rollercoaster in my pajamas
  • My navel is slightly off-centre
  • My brother and I used to catch snakes. One day they got loose in the basement and I almost didn't see my next birthday
  • Russell Peters and I used to do amateur stand-up together Tuesday nights in Toronto. Not as an act but the same night, same line-up, same stage. He was a lot of fun even back then
  • I think women look just as beautiful when they're pregnant
  • People find me very open-minded. I can't remember the last time I was shocked or repulsed by a desire or experience someone shared with me
  • Although I'm not bisexual I think they're some of the most beautiful people in the world. The ability to find beauty and attraction in both sexes is amazing to me
  • I used to have an intense dislike for cats and now have three of them
  • I've never had a cup of coffee in my life (excluding the flavoured kind)
  • I don't smoke, never have
  • I don't like hockey
  • I think the nape of the neck is incredibly sexy
  • Justin Bieber still annoys me and it kills me to admit he has some talent
  • I used to have hayfever, allergies to ragweed and cut grass but I've almost completely grown out of it
  • I'm still allergic to all nuts, bananas and penicillin
  • I love summer, can't stand winter
  • People share incredibly personal things with me. I'll take every one of these secrets to my grave
  • I once let a dozen springy Tiggers loose on a shelf in Walmart. You should have heard the noise
  • I have a very wide taste in music. A friend has recently turned me on more to new country which I swore would never happen
  • If I could live anywhere else in the world it would be Australia hands-down

Friday, June 10, 2011


"Open-minded isn't about taking the liberal view. Open-minded is being able to see all sides indiscriminately”
    ~ Heather, Gypsy Bitsy (taken with permission from one of our conversations)

Thursday, June 9, 2011

"Just Friends"

One question that's always caught my interest is, "Can men and women just be friends?" I think in general this is asking if friendship can exist where there's a potential for attraction, so in fairness I'll say that it can also apply to same-sex friendships. But for this post I'll talk about it from a heterosexual view since it's all I've ever known.

   Male/female friendships seem to have the odds stacked against them from the start. I don't think most people believe men and women can be friends without something eventually getting in the way (romantic feelings on one side or jealousy from someone outside the friendship). I agree it happens a lot, still these friendships can and do work. The relationships I have with females are incredibly rewarding; not only do I get to see things through a woman's eyes but often by those of a different generation. And though some of these friends haven't yet or won't ever experience the things I have, I'm amazed at how much I've been able to learn from them and how much common ground we share.

   Opposite-sex friendships can be precarious. I'm a bit guarded and mindful of what I say with some, because I don't always see my female friends the same way I do my buddies. Maybe I should, but I don't. I have a love for my male friends but with the women in my life it just feels different, runs deeper. It's hard to explain other than there's a different set of emotions that come into play that I don't experience in my relationships with the guys.

   So what does this all mean, is there a chance of someone feeling something more? Sure, there's always the possibility that feelings will grow between people in any kind of relationship whether it's personal or professional. But I don't think it should ever stop us from developing these relationships. If we don't allow ourselves to feel deeply for anyone else we're robbing ourselves of some amazing experiences. I've never seen attraction as a reason to immediately end a friendship, if a relationship is worth having it's worth talking things through. But if it can't be worked out then someone needs to say goodbye .

   Before Sandy and I met I had a friend who liked me. I mean, really liked me. Her feelings were obvious to everyone; her best friend, my friends and me. But she wouldn't admit to it. She was very intelligent, into music and The Arts, good company and generally just fun to hang around with. And we did.  I knew how she felt but for me it didn't go further. One weekend we took a trip out of town (to the Shaw Festival at Niagara-On-The-Lake for those of you who know where that is). We stayed overnight at a bed and breakfast, slept in the same bed but nothing happened. It could have but I wasn't interested.

   I met Sandy a short while later and found that connection I was looking for. Today we have a great relationship and both of us have opposite-sex friendships. We accept these people as part of our lives; there's no drama, no one's ever acted out and all relationships are respected. Within the parameters of these friendships has been a lot of affection, love and words shared through good and bad times. I wouldn't want it any other way.

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

The Scar Project



 I've started a project that I'm hoping some of you will be interested in participating in. I was talking with a blogging friend of mine who used to self-harm (cut) back in high school, which thankfully she no longer does. During our conversation she told me that one of her cuts has scarred into the shape of a heart. I was struck by the symbolism of this and it got me wondering how many people have a similar story to tell.

  Most of us have scars from something, self-inflicted or otherwise. Some have a great story behind them, others are painful reminders of things we'd rather forget. But all are part of the journey of our lives. I hope you'll share yours for my latest blogging venture, "The Scar Project". What I'm looking for is a photo of a scar that has significance to you for any reason whatsoever, with a written story (long or short) behind it. You don't have to mention where it is on you if you'd rather not. I'm also looking for stories of emotional scars, whether or not you feel they've healed. Let me know if I can include your name, if you prefer to remain anonymous I promise to respect that.

  This is in no way meant to romanticize or glamorize the wounds life gives us.  My hope is that sharing your stories might raise awareness for some people of what others have gone through. I've always thought it's important for people to know they're not alone in their experiences.

  Please contact me with submissions, questions or comments at barrysquotations@gmail.com .  I'll reveal the results in a future post.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Phone A Friend

close up cell

  Yesterday I got an e-mail from a good blogging friend who's struggling with things some loved ones are facing. I began to answer her e-mail and thought, why write when I can call? And so, after holding onto her number for months I phoned her for the first time. Needless to say she wasn't expecting my call and took a few seconds to realize who I was. When she did it was like a 1400 mile hug.

  We've known each other for almost two years. I first came across her blog when she was completely anonymous, gradually she grew comfortable with me and today we can confide in each other about anything. It was great hearing her voice on the phone, we were able to talk through what she was dealing with a little and have a few laughs along the way.  I  was even able to let her talk with Sandy.  And it got me wondering how many of us have been able to do this.

  Have you ever called or mailed a blogging friend?

Sunday, June 5, 2011

Secret Sunday

I haven't had time to post this yet so I'm taking a quick break before the day gets away on me. This is the twenty-sixth round of Secret Sunday, a chance to share secrets and/or fantasies you've been keeping to yourself. Some are uplifting, some are heartbreaking and some are just plain naughty.

All are valid.

This is open to anyone who wants to participate, from regular follower to casual visitor. You can participate anonymously. If this is something you'd like to run on your blog please feel free to copy the rules if you wish.

And now to it...