Wednesday, 29 April 2015

Jonny Depp and a Recipe for Love

I recently came across this quote from Jonny Depp...
“If you love two people at the same time, choose the second because if you really loved the first you wouldn't have fallen for the second.”

Now, I want to make out with Jonny Depp as much as the next person, but I think he got this a bit wrong actually. I could get all indignant and plead that of course the feelings for the second are greater because, by virtue of the fact that they are second, one has had less time to experience the full gamut of not-so-niceties that come with knowing a partner over a long period of time. But, I think that I can explain my theory more effectively with recipes and math.

Recipe for (romantic) Love
1 cup warm fuzzy feelings
1 cup sharing your life
Generous dollop of hot chili peppers XXX

Now feel free to add cinnamon, strawberries, garlic, whatever floats your boat, but as far as I can tell these are the key ingredients, and it is not romantic love if one is missing. For example, I have warm fuzzy feelings and share my life with my children and even a few of my girlfriends, but these relationships lack hot chili peppers. Or perhaps, one has warm fuzzy feelings for another which leads to the addition of hot chili peppers, but when you think of sharing your life with that person, you warm to the idea of sticking needles in your eye. You get the idea.

To help you better understand this concept, I've created this graph of my own personal research on the subject:

So what valuable information may we glean from this graph, you ask? Well, perhaps one might notice that there were significant lapses in the life-sharing during the earlier years of our relationship when HandsomeManA and I lived apart. Or, one may find it notable that in years 7, 9, and 12, (the years our children were born) there was a corresponding decrease in the frequency of hot chili peppers and simultaneous increase in feelings of warm fuzziness. Or one may see a steady decrease in feelings of warm fuzziness in the early years of our relationship possibly relating to an increase in expressed flatulence (but that deserves its own graph). Now none of this is particularly telling or interesting, but what this very scientific graph does prove is that the mere presence of these three ingredients does not a 'love' make. And the reason is this... What this graph of humps and bumps is unable to show is any significant growth pattern, when, in reality, my love for HandsomeManA increased in magnitude everyday for 14 years.

Well, here's the kicker folks... Every good cook knows that a recipe needs a 'binder' (for those of you who are not culinary geniuses, a binder is the ingredient which holds the recipe together. Eggs to a cake, for example). Without a binder, the recipe just falls apart, and one could try any quantity of the other ingredients but the end result would not stick. In the case of the recipe for love, one might experience a combination of the warm fuzzies, hot chili peppers, and life-sharing time and time again but find that 'love never stuck'. Or in the loosely interpreted words of Jonny Depp, one might find himself choosing to love the forty-second person, assuming that because they once again found the right combination of ingredients, the forty-first recipe was flawed.

Having said that, I do have to applaud Jonny for this—he has included the key ingredient. In the original quote, notice the word “CHOOSE”. That's it, folks... The binder. Choice. I can categorically confirm that my choice to love and continue to love HandsomeManA everyday for fourteen years directly resulted in a love that grew and grew and continues to grow.

Now here's a more telling graph:

As you can see there is a causal relationship between my choosing to love HandsomeManA and the level of hearts in our relationship.

Now whether or not you buy into my Math (I don't know how you couldn't??) or Jonny's more succinct quote, the message is the same. Love is a choice, and, because I happened to come across this last week, I will conclude with what I see as a more comprehensive quote on the matter. This comes from my uncle Ron Rolheiser, “Love is a decision...We find that hard to believe because long before we have to decide for love, we first fall into love. Initially, it chooses us more than we choose it.” And I would add, that in turn, "we must choose it again and again and again.”

Happy Wednesday...


Tuesday, 28 April 2015

Post-Natal Anxiety, Faking it, and the Things I wish someone had said to me

Want to see pictures of me faking it? Because I've got lots—LOTS! If you're ever flipping through the newborn photos of any of the three of my children, and you happen to see one in which I appear happy, relaxed, or remotely in control...yea, faking it!

When my first son was born (and anyone who has ever become a parent can confirm this), my life was turned upside down. And I'm going to say this out loud, my life was turned upside down and not in a good way. If you're thinking about becoming a parent, I'm not saying this to scare you, nor am I discrediting anyone who felt this change was an amazing one, I'm saying this because I wish someone had said it to me—IT IS OKAY IF YOU DON'T LOVE IT (the whole parenting thing) RIGHT AWAY.

My feelings, which I now recognize as ones of full-blown anxiety were very real and understandable. How else would I feel on the heels of nine months of pregnancy (not awesome for me), giving birth, and becoming immediately and wholly responsible for a helpless human being? But having said that, many of my thoughts were not rational, though in the moment, I very much believed they were. For instance, I remember very seriously asking my husband if it would be so outrageous if we gave him up for adoption. Now, I'm not going to bother considering the reality of that because it was never going to happen, but I am not apologizing for a thought I had during a mental health episode either. Again, I say this because I wish someone had said it to me (who knows maybe they did!), IT IS NORMAL TO FEEL OVERWHELMED, ANXIOUS, or EVEN INCAPABLE.

You know, I think back to prenatal classes which I dutifully enrolled for when I was pregnant with my first. The thing that stuck with me was this... They do a really great job of presenting in agonizing detail every possibility of labour and delivery, every twist and turn these events might take, the hospital, the drugs, the personnel, etc...but the end result was always the same—a baby with whom you fall instantly in love and the lifetime of bliss that follows. Well, when my son was born, there was definitely an element of that, but, I'm not going to lie, there was an underlying terror screaming “NOW WHAT?” And I remember one of the many thoughts I stewed over over the next few months being, “Why the f&%k aren't there any post-natal classes?” And I say this because THE FIRST FEW WEEKS OF YOUR BABY'S LIFE, YOU WILL RIDE THE STEEPEST LEARNING CURVE OF YOUR LIFE.

Another thing that stuck with me were the many, many words of advice that came from well-meaning relatives and friends during this period. Now I make a habit of not being offended when no offence was meant, but in my fragile state, these words of advice may as well have been written on stone and lightning bolted from the sky. I felt compelled to heed every single one, even the ones that contradicted the other ones. I felt this because I had NO IDEA what I was doing. To give you a few examples... When my newborn cried (and he cried A LOT!), people seemed to enjoy warning of the more onerous trials that would inevitably come my way... “Oh, you just wait til he's teething,” or “At least he's not a teenager,” and “It gets worse during a growth spurt.” Now those warnings may or may not hold any weight, but what I heard was this, “You ain't seen nothing yet, buttercup.” and in a moment where I was hanging on by thread, this was NOT HELPFUL.
Then there was the gushing... “He's so perfect,” “Isn't motherhood the most amazing thing?”, “Try to enjoy this time, it goes by so quickly.” Now, I can't express how very TRUE these statements actually are, but in my sleep deprived, anxiety-ridden state, all I could think was, “When will this (WAHHH) F*&king (WAAAHHH) amazing (WWWWAHHH) time (WWWWAAAHHH) be (WWWWWWAAAAAAHHH) over (WAH)?” What I felt was failure and like there was something wrong with me. The words that would have been more helpful here? WHAT A BEAUTIFUL BABY. HOW ARE YOU DOING WITH EVERYTHING? Now, no doubt, I would've put on my best 'fake-it' face, said I was doing fine, and asked for your advice on green poo, but you get my drift.

Now my story of anxiety is not dramatic tale—mostly inability to sleep, irrational thoughts, feeling tightly wound, paralysed with indecision—all of which might mean nothing to you unless you have been through it. The lifetime-of-bliss-feeling did arrive for me when my babies were 4 months, 2 months, and 3 months old, but it was tough-slugging during those months. I was lucky enough that an awesome support network (who I acknowledge quite possibly did say these things to me) and 'faking it' were enough to see me through to the other side, but if they hadn't, the words that I hope would have...DO YOU NEED HELP?

Now if you know me, you will know that I am a 'supporter' more than 'advisor', so the bus kinda stops here. But wherever you are on your parenting journey, from pregnancy to an old-pro, if anxiety was part of your journey, I just wanted to say, I hear ya. I wish you all the best in 'faking it', getting help, doing yoga, whatever you need to do, to help you enjoy the little people in your life the way you deserve.

Adele Paul

Monday, 20 April 2015

Pink is fat---Why I can't start my blog

Recently a friend told me, "You should be a writer. You have interesting perspectives."  Wow!! Thanks!  Because that is not the first time I have heard that and because I just know, this is true.  I should be a writer in some capacity.  Writing lights me up in a way that nothing else can, but there is something that has stopped me from forging on with this for as long as I can remember.   You see, writing for me (and probably others) is EXTREMELY intimate (like I'd-rather-pose-naked-intimate). What is the big deal, you ask?  It's just words... And if you know me personally, you will know I am not generally short on words... But I promise you written word is different--it's permanent and calculated and often dangerously lacks context and tone.  Anyway, it is not at all the words themselves, it's what those words say about me.

Consider this my first blog post...Pink is fat. (I'm talking about the singer here)

Three words.  Now here's a chart...

What "Pink is fat" says about....


  • in someone's opinion, Pink is fat

  • I follow celebrity gossip
  • I believe my opinion on the 'fatness' of Pink to be relevant
  • I probably judge people based on their appearance
  • I have a specific definition of the word 'fat'
  • Body image is important to me
  • I consider it socially and morally acceptable to publicly comment on someone's weight

I'm sure you could add to the list, but I hope I've made my point.  Words are powerful and they expose us. 

 It is my intention that this blog stimulate conversation and thought, and I realize I can't do that without exposing myself in some way. So there it is, I welcome and thank in advance anyone willing to read, consider, comment, or co-blog!  Happy Monday!

Adele Paul