confidence

That time I smiled

On Thursday I went for drinks with some coworkers. It was the first time I’d socialized with anyone from work since the 2015 Xmas party. Apparently, it’s just a “fluke” that these things get organized when I am out of town for work – of course I shouldn’t take it personally. Hmph. The result of these flukes is that I’ve socialized with my Parisian coworkers 400% more often than with my Mtl coworkers. 

I arrived at the bar 30 mins after my crew. They were deep into their first round of drinks. I searched for a waitress. Waited, and waited. After too many minutes without alcohol, I went to the bar to order my beers from the bartender. As I turned to rejoin my coworkers, the bar manager chatted me up. He apologized for my long wait, and offered me a drink on the house. I smiled.

My beers arrived a few minutes later. Chatty chat chat with ze coworkers. And then, like Moses parting the sea, my (male) coworkers made space for the pretty, busty, blond waitress: she presented me with a tumbler of Jameson, and smiled saucily at my confused coworkers.

Vanilla, how? That’s not free, is it? It is? What did you do?

I smiled.

40 minutes later, that same waitress presented me with a 2nd tumbler. 

40 minutes later, she presented me with a 3rd tumbler. My male coworkers were incensed.

Vanilla, stop kidding around. How did this happen? What do you mean, you smiled?!?

I mean I smiled. The last time I smiled, I got treated to the most ridiculously generous/excessive multi-course meal in Dubai. What can I say? Happiness is contagious.

On Saturday, I attended a dance event by myself, totally different crowd from my usual one, didn’t know anyone, NBD; can we acknowledge how far I’ve come since my Dubai meltdowns?! As I walked into the ball room, I smiled. I was immediately accosted by a charming out of town professional dancer who danced several successive songs with me, praising my musicality. I then danced with the event organizer (from France!) and every guest instructor present. I found myself smiling while dancing, and once or twice, I even laughed from the sheer joy of the dance. (Oh, how Energizer would be proud/amazed!)


When came time for the inevitable Afrohouse animation, three of the instructors took turns leading the crowd. Then the organizer pushed me to the front, and I danced while everyone followed, before he ended the animation in style. I was the only non-instructor to lead the pack. I smiled.


On both Thursday and Saturday, I was stuck in one of those oh-so-female IhatemybodyIlooksogrossEwwwwImfaaaaaaaat moods. To the point I modified my outfits (loose clothing), convinced people would notice my protruding food baby of a belly and judge me. I considered bailing on both events because what’s the point of socializing if everyone will find me repulsive?

Clearly, I am no closer to achieving body acceptance. But at a minimum, I am refusing to let my poisonous brain modify my behaviour or distract me from my quest for happiness.

That’s worth smiling about.

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First time on a beach

I spent the day on a beach. Kite beach, one of the world’s longest stretches of white-sand beaches.

No, I did not have to cover up or be veiled. I did not see a single burkini, much to my inner-fashionista’s relief. Veiled women lazed around, as did non veiled women – funny how opting to be veiled, or not, does not decrease one’s appreciation for the sea, waves, sand and relaxation. #debunkingignorance I did see and hear one of the most diverse crowds I’ve ever been immersed in. French, English, American, Russian, Ukrainian, Spanish, Indian and of course Arabic.

By putting on SPF 100 sunscreen 5 times in 6 hours, I mostly avoided burns. Not a lobster.

I spent the day alone on the beach, as Dynamo’s brother, Bossman, and Bossman’s wife IronSweetie (more on them in a later post) had to work. IronSweetie was worried I’d be bored or lonely, and reassured me that people were very friendly on the beach, I shouldn’t be shy to go say hi. My social skills remain legendary, apparently… I promised her I’d be ok. And I was. I didn’t talk to many people, other than to ask for help applying sunscreen on my back. I too busy enjoying the forced alone time – no data, wifi wasn’t working… 6 hours disconnected from the world. I swam for an hour, I walked the entire length of the beach, admiring the male joggers (#eyecandy), I read my book, I dozed. It was exactly the kind of solocation I needed.

Bonus realization: my usual body hangups didn’t make an appearance. Yes, I was bloated, PMSing, had spent the last 3 days eating all the food (Arab hospitality dictates that one must try kill one’s guests through constant peer-pressured eating and unnatural portion sizes). I hadn’t exercised in 10 days (#Parisandalltheprofiteroles). My body was not beach-ready… and I didn’t care. Why bother concerning myself with cellulite and a puffy tummy when there was the hypnotizing sound of waves and children laughing surrounding me.

I think, I hope, I am on the path to self-acceptance. And a tan. Please God, I need a tan.


Meanwhile, in Canada… Montreal’s been afflicted with one of the worst snowstorms in years. 35+ cm. Today‘s snow day was announced yesterday, because yesterday’s evening traffic was so bad (50 minute commutes taking 3.5 to 5 hours long!) that regardless of whether or not the snow removal companies worked the night through, it would be impossible to clear the snow, never mind the continued snow accumulation. However, since this is Montreal… I’d say there is 50% chance my street won’t be cleared by the time I get back Monday night.

What better time to change my Facebook profile pic to me standing in the sand?

This Friday brought to you by a vain Amazon 

Convo with Bballer:

  

The art of being woman:

I can feel this way (pic above), yet still fret about how my jeans are too tight. I can feel that way and still feel completely incompetent due to my inability to stick to a nutrition plan that would allow me to drop the 10lbs I promised Coach I would months ago. 

But at the same time, I’ve learned to dress and shop better, to highlight my body’s strengths. I’ve learned to enjoy getting ready in the morning and constructing an image for the day that I’ll show the world: sometimes girly, sometimes powerful, sometimes nerdy, sometimes whimsical, sometimes beautiful, depending on my mood. The variations are endless. (The only variation I am still uncomfortable with is the sexy one. How well that fits with my Vanilla personality! Consistency is key, so they say.)

When I look at myself in the mirror, even on the most PMS-y, bloated day, I’m happy with what I see. Even though my belly is not flat, and my pawg-y butt and thighs have a bit too much jiggle, I’m content. My body and I have been through a lot together: we have the scars to show for it. It’s taken me a long time to learn how to take care of it, and often I still get it wrong. But by working together, overcoming injuries, some of which are decades-old, my body now allows me to box. I know my body is doing the best it can, and it’s my job to try help it along, and appreciate it for as long as I can. Because the day will come where my body will tire out and start to fail, whether due to illness or old age. When that day comes, I want to be able to look back on my life and say to my body, “we had a good run together. Well done.”

This Amazon business ain’t easy.