Kinder, gentler

A plastinated human from Gunther von Hagens' Body Worlds

If I don’t include the horrible way I’ve been eating over the holidays, I’ve made some pretty excellent changes in the kinds of things that I eat, and was doing really well with going to the gym fairly regularly.

This is a slippery slope for me, because it kick starts some serious body-image obsession, and some not so healthy patterns of thinking. I’m consumed with guilt because I’ve been “bad”, even though it’s the time of year when everyone does this kind of thing.

I never weigh myself, but over the holidays I got on a scale, and though I was happy to see that I’ve lost about ten pounds since the last time I’d weighed in, I still have about ten to go before I’m happy with the numbers. Next, I will measure myself and compare to some earlier measurements.

Rather than feel proud of my success, I start to think about how I can axe those last ten pounds quickly. Anyone who knows anything about nutrition and health knows that there is no healthy way to quickly loose weight. I know this too, but sometimes I just don’t care.

I see photos of myself, and can see the difference, but all I fixate on is how much further I have to go before I’m satisfied.

New Year’s Resolution Number Two:

I will treat my body beautifully, and stop comparing myself to other women. Nutrition will be important, and exercise, and I will know that I look the way I’m supposed to because I am mindful of these two things. I will not do stupid things to myself for the sake of being smaller than I currently am. I’ll check in daily with my journal to keep myself on track – not weighing, measuring, or listing food that I’ve consumed, but writing about how I think and feel about my body.

Face Value

As cliche as this sounds, with New Year’s Eve approaching, I’m thinking about resolutions for the coming year. I’m proud to say that I’m generally good about sticking to the ones I make, and I think that this is because I really try to give them some thought.

One of the biggest issues that I’d like to tackle in 2010 is my inability to live in the moment. The happier I am, the more I find I’m looking over my shoulder to see what kind of bad is coming my way. In fact, I don’t think it would be a stretch to say that sometimes, hopefully subconsciously, I create problems because the peace and calm scares the bejesus out of me. I fear settling deeply into happiness in case it should suddenly come bursting apart at the seams.

Ridiculous, right?

I don’t want to allow fear and self-sabotage into my love life. I’ve been mostly successful at forbidding these things from clouding my professional life, and I’ve realized some pretty incredible success as a result.  After wishing so hard for this kind of happiness, I would like to receive it gracefully, and graciously.

So, resolution number one:

I will endeavor to be present each day, and accepting of the love I am given, free of doubt and fear.

On Faith

Christmas day. Last year, I made a silent wish that in a year’s time I would be sharing the holidays with someone I love. That wish came true, but I find myself unable to completely immerse myself in the joy of such a thing without worrying that I won’t have this kind of happiness next year.

Yesterday I had to explain to a six-year-old why, after the cruel tutorial from a classmate, Santa does exist, and some people just chose not to believe in him. I asked her to look into her heart and decide what she believed in, and she nodded solemnly and said “I believe in Santa.” Of course her affirmation was made real by the collective efforts of family and grandparents, and the magic unfolded before us all in a way that made me believe again too.

What good is faith without people to share it with? People to add their collective hope and dreaming into the well, to fill it with possibility and imagination? I believe this collaborative effort is required to breathe anything into life. To take dreaming and hoping and make these real, you need a community of dreamers, feverish in their dedication and their faith.


1. Confident belief in the truth, value, or trustworthiness of a person, idea, or thing.
2. Belief that does not rest on logical proof or material evidence.
3. Loyalty to a person or thing; allegiance: keeping faith with one’s supporters.

I have an abundance of faith that the path I am on is exactly where I need to be. I have faith in its possibility and ability to survive whatever the world throws at us. I have faith in the power of love. I have an “It’s A Wonderful Life” sized abundance of sweetness and real, pure love in this relationship. Enough that I brought everyone to my extended family holiday celebration, and introduced them to nearly all of my people.
This entry continues on Boxing Day morning, at my parent’s home. My family home, where I lived my entire life before venturing out on my own. We’ve crashed here, and my mother is now busy in the kitchen, putting together an epic brunch. I’m battling guilt over all of the bad-for-me things I’ve eaten in the last week, but I know the onslaught is not over yet, and so I’m steeling myself for more over-indulgence.
After my last relationship ended, I decided not to bring anyone home to my family until I knew it was the real deal. I didn’t want my poor parents to have to bond with anyone, only for it not to work out again. I realize there is no way to predict the future, but as I watch my mother, and more remarkably my father, filled with delight I feel a little knot forming in my belly, that is the product of so much hope and fear.
I want this so badly. Not just because of the love I feel, but also because if we can succeed at this, we will inspire so many people. We are like pioneers, forging our way across uncharted land, making our own rules as we meet new hurdles. To witness the love and acceptance and inclusion over the last three days has only further convinced me that this IS possible. That despite some complication and difficulty, there is a way that all of this can work, especially with a loving community to support us.
However, if we don’t believe in this ourselves, there isn’t very far to go at all.

The Most Wonderful Time

The only good thing about November is that it is immediately followed by December, which I think perhaps is one of my favourite months of the year.

I love the winter, and the snow, and the cold. It affords such quiet, introspective time, and finding interesting ways to keep your world filled with warmth and light always results in such lovely domestic moments with friends and family.

We hosted a beautiful party on Saturday night, and my favourite cook completely outdid himself. The night before was perhaps the most fun I’ve ever had shopping at an LCBO (there is only ONE wine expert in Barrie) or shopping for groceries. I credit my gorgeous shopping buddy for this. The party was a success. I was so proud. We were so organized. The house looked beautiful.

My first wish for the New Year is to organize this place together so it looks like this without having to hide stacks of boxes behind closed doors.

After such a fine, fine weekend, I’ve decided to see how long I can carry these feelings into the week ahead. The holidays should be an interesting experience in sharing and experiencing family dynamics. For the most part, I trust it will be pleasant, but I’ll admit to feeling nervous.

It’s funny how the expectations heaped on people at this time of year have really come to affect me. I’m in-between jobs, so Christmas shopping didn’t happen, and I’m feeling really strange about this. Next year, I’m giving everyone home-made gifts, and will be super organized about this. I love gift-giving. It’s a natural Leo trait, and it makes me so happy.

This morning starts with a meeting to put the finishing touches on plans for a Valentine’s Weekend blow out with the troupe. Then I come home to assist with child-care duties. I need to think up an activity that will amuse a three-year-old. Tonight will be quiet, with some baking, and a movie or two.

Looking at my life now, I think a lot about traditions and the little familiar rituals that surround these holidays. The cherished elements of my own childhood Christmas feel so far away now, but perhaps there is a way to re-visit them and re-invent them to fit within my new reality? It seems I am re-inventing everything to fit into my new reality, and I think perhaps this is the greatest thing I have ever done for myself.

As I break down everything that I was accustomed to, and everything I thought I knew, I realize I still have so much to learn, and that I’m surrounded by loving people who can only help me grow.

What are your favourite holiday traditions? Mine include:

The Charlie Brown Christmas Special
Making decorations
Christmas parties with my friends
Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer
The Grinch Who Stole Christmas
White Christmas
A Christmas Story
It’s A Wonderful Life (Kleenex required, ALWAYS)
Tourtiere (French Canadian meat pie)
Bertha’s butter tarts
Opening Christmas pajamas on Christmas Eve
My mother’s Christmas morning spread
Lazily watching new movies or listening to new music on Christmas day
The smell of my dad’s soap/cologne/aftershave as the house is filled with people getting ready for:
The big family Christmas Day party
Singing with my aunties
My cousins playing old Acadian folk music
Playing with my Grandmaman’s creche (My grandfather built the stable)
Drinking nog with my dad and listening to Bing Crosby
Wrapping presents
‘Twas the Night Before Christmas (my mom used to read this to us every year on Christmas Eve.)

Tell me yours!


That’s my word for the week.

I like it. I want to use it to describe myself, but I think that’s one of those words best left to others to use.

It always makes me thing of those busty, lipstick-wearing sexy chickens that used to roll with Gonzo from the Muppet Show. If I haven’t said it lately, I love Jim Henson. If I had magical powers, I would raise him from the dead to help Les Coquettes create the most ridiculous burlesque cabaret ever witnessed by people-kind.

Plucky. Like a sexy chicken.

If you haven’t seen our shows, this may sound ridiculous, but people are really moved by what we do. On the surface, it’s a cabaret packed with lots of skin, and sexy young performers, but beneath this surface, it’s a world of passion driven by intelligent, inspired women. Those are our fantasies we’re acting out, and our imagination coming alive. Women come and see us, and then email me about classes, men come and see us, and are permitted to feel sexual AND human. At this weekend’s show, two of my dear friends were there with their husbands. Both are new moms and for each of them it was their first night out in a long, long while. I didn’t even have to speak to them to know that everyone in each house was in for a big treat when they got home. I love that. I love how we grant permission. How we make it safe and fun to feel alive in such a way. How we can laugh at and celebrate sex, which is so warped in our mass media. Taken so seriously, taken for granted, taken out of context, taken away from us every single day.

It’s our life force. It drives us on a deep, primal level, and when we separate ourselves from this essence, or if we are forced to separate from it, sad things happen.


I’m challenging you to look at your relationship with sex. Not just the act, but the deeper sexuality that lies within. How has your own sexuality evolved? What is your relationship like with your sexuality? Do you need a long overdue date with your sexual self? Have you been honest about your feelings? Are there things you need to get out in the open?

My wish for you, this holiday season – celebrate your life force. Define what it means to you, and embrace it warmly ‘neath the mistletoe.

Deck your halls, if you will.

The Chapped Nose Blues

Me, as Winged Monkey - by Katherine Piro, costume by Manuge et Toi

It turns out that gin is NOT a good remedy for the common cold.

Neither is parading about in your unmentionables for two hours in what used to be a baptist church.

That’s how I spent my Sunday, with the guys and dolls, doing our thing for the holidays for a packed house. Now I have the post-show blues.

For three days my home was overrun with activity preparing for the show. My favourite little elf helped me glue and sew and pack and shuttle, and now life returns to the state we left it in last week.

So, I sleep until noon, I clean the kitchen, I continue to work through the laundry pile, and I eye the gray, rainy day warily and try to work up the nerve to walk to the bank in the cold wet.

I’m losing my voice today, which isn’t such an issue when I’m home alone, and perhaps it is better sometimes to just remain silent and listen. I don’t like the things I’m hearing, so I’m listening harder for more subtle, deeper signals. I’m listening with something other than my ears. I feel a storm is coming. My trick knee is acting up, but I have no idea when it will hit and so I sit here gazing out the window-wall and I wait.

I’ve worked hard for the last several years to make my life exactly what I want it to be. I’ve almost always done exactly as I please, never staying in one place for too long, sometimes stay too long in the wrong places. I wonder if I want too much? So many people are so content with a simple existence. They live quiet, peaceful lives, going to work, coming home, watching television. I want an abundance of stories to tell, riches of spirit, sensual experiences of the world each and every day. I want to create, to ignite, to delight and inspire, and I want colour and variety, and ever-changing possibility.

I want to bring joy to the people who love me. I want to be a great source of happiness, a ray of light, something they are thrilled with. All that other stuff, listed up there is possible, I think. This latter bit? Well, I guess we’ll see.

Girl, Interrupted

It’s gray, and slushy, and snowy, and sleety, and I don’t have to leave this place today, so I’m feeling very grateful. I also feel exactly like the weather.

I woke this morning with a stuffy nose, and a sore throat, and a show in four days. So I find myself now staring out the wall of window over the city in a bit of a daze, wondering what the next few days will bring.

When you come from a family that is well-versed in the twelve step program, you grow very used to the phrase “one day at a time”.  If life has taught me anything, it is that you really have no way of predicting what might come at you from one day to the next. The best thing I can learn to do is try to really live in the present.

And so, today – this gray, sleety day – has started out sadly. Cleaning the apartment, and starting to tackle a mountain of laundry has helped. Knowing that I have to put on a game face for two of the girls from the troupe who are coming to rehearse and help with costumes is also pulling me onto my feet. Fantasizing about steak salad with crumbled blue cheese and grilled tomatoes for dinner is another step in the right direction.

I am lacking in a very certain kind of faith. In my heart, I believe that the universe will always look after me well, but I realize that I have very little faith in people. I wonder how one re-learns such a thing?

My therapist is brilliant, and in mid-January, she and I are starting 16 weeks of intensive work surrounding the topic of trust. I am so looking forward to this. I feel sometimes as though this was taken away from me, but that means giving certain people far more power than they ever really deserve.

If you are a regular Schnooville visitor, you will see that there are some entries missing here. They still exist, of course, but they are now private entries. There are some topics that I will not post about anymore, to protect the people that I love. Schnooville will continue to exist as it always has – a look inside my head and heart, and I suppose it will be from the perspective of me outside of any other personal relationships in my life.

My grade eight principal, who was a staunch, pasty, red-headed Irish woman who smelled like a dentist’s office used to say “Do what you feel is right in your heart, and let the chips fall as they may.” I used to think she was talking about potato chips. Once you’ve seen them ground into the carpet, you realize falling chips can be pretty fucking messy.

So, to those of you who have been such supportive readers, to those of you who have sent such heartfelt letters of thanks, know that now, more than ever, I feel inspired by you, grateful for you, and humbled by everything you’ve shared.

More coffee, some Neko Case, a load of laundry folded, and then the glue guns will get plugged in.

I’m not afraid. I’m a lion who lives surrounded by love, and my heart is as big as the sky.

In the hall of the Gnome King

Pheasant Feathers - David Taylor

Yesterday we bought a Christmas tree, set it up in our living room, went to a pot luck at the girls’ school, and then decorated the tree with all of the decorations we’ve made.

I’m a PTA mom. I have children to enjoy the holidays with. I have a family.

Every day we are growing, and with the hope that peaceful December brings, I daresay getting stronger. I believe we are getting stronger.

The dreamy phase has been paused, and work, and life have sunk their teeth into us, creating some stress and some seriously distracted grown-ups with their faces buried in their computers, but we persevere. I work at being better, stronger, and most importantly, more trusting. This one is the hardest, and it is with real anger that I admit that. I imagine myself free of doubt, and able to sink deeply into the arms of love, and know that work distractions don’t mean the end of the world. My waking brain knows this, but there are still cobwebs that keep this message from being clearly relayed.

Sometimes when I tell my boyfriend some of the things in my head he laughs. Not because he is laughing at me, but because he can’t believe how far his own thoughts and my perceptions are from each other in such moments. I wish I could laugh at this too. Maybe that’s a good way to dismiss such moments, or put them in better perspective.

This has been an incredible weekend. When I can look up and catch secret, special glances from both of my partners each time, I know all is right with the world. We’re listening to Louis Armstrong, each working away in our brightly sun-lit living room, brunch is packed away, and the girls are playing in their now-clean bedroom. The six-year-old is wearing a crazy woolen hat that I own, and matching blue tights with crazy flowers all over them. She has a leather belt with embroidered flowers, where she’s tucked a recently acquired plastic sword. Her fuzzy red and white striped socks match the red and white furry pouch she has slung diagonally across her little self, and she is addressing her father and I as the Gnome King and Gnome Queen. She returns from her epic travels to her bedroom with treasures that she lays like offerings with a bow and a flourish; old rhinestone costume jewelery, feathers, crystals, old coins, and anything else that catches her imagination.

She is a soul-twin, of that I am sure. There are so many moments when I am convinced she can see into my head and my heart. For example, just the other day, she was playing a story game taught to her by a class mate. It goes like this:

“Once, there was a man named Gunkie Dung Gung, and he ate a slug.”

None of us knows what this means, but we have a joke that only children can say the name of this man, because it is unpronounceable to the grown-up tongue. This particular morning though, she changed the game up:

“Once, there was a man named Bookie Boo…”

Bookie Boo was the nickname my father gave me as a little girl. I’ve never told her this, nor have I ever uttered this name in her presence, but there it was. She amazes me every day.

At the pot luck, the children in her kindergarten participate in a little ritual called the Advent Spiral. The teacher lays evergreen boughs on the floor in the shape of a spiral and the path is marked with large shells or crystals or tin stars. In the centre of the spiral are individual white taper candles in fat apples. The children walk with a parent, select a candle, and walking the spiral, place the candle near the symbol that speaks to them. Our six-year-old chose me to walk the spiral with her, and it was so sweet and solemn. She didn’t want to hold my hand though. She led the way, proud and strong, selected her candle, walked with me at her side, and laid it to rest beside a large, beautiful feather.

From the internet:

“When you find feathers upon your path it could be taken to mean that you are on a higher spiritual path (whether you accept it or not), and it may be a sign of encouragement as you philosophically travel on this path.

Finding feathers on your path is also symbolic of having a lighter outlook on life or a particular situation.  When we see feathers in our midst it is considered a message that we need to lighten up, not take things too seriously, and try to find the joy in our situation.”

Light. Joy. Spirit.

Let the holidays begin.

Sometimes I Wonder How to Be Me

Workspace of my dreams

I am sitting by the wall of window that is my new living room, and watching the sun sink slowly below the tops of the skyscrapers.

I feel like me again. Mostly. I wonder if it is because it is no longer November?

I’m waiting for the family to get home. Waiting for our six year old to swing open the door and yell “Hi Distinguished!”. Distinguished is her nick-name for me. I have no idea where she picked this up. Waiting for the silence to be broken by hustle and bustle. Waiting to see how I feel to be surrounded.

I’ve been home alone a lot lately. I think it’s good. It’s been productive, and quiet, and this space is feeling more and more like my own as a result. My partners are working away at their old warehouse, and my apartment, and I am plotting and planning here between loads of dishes and laundry. It is only today that I’ve really felt like leaving my house in about a week or so. Very unlike me, for sure.

These two little girls have unlocked my creative drive like no self-help book I have ever encountered. All of this crafting has been incredible, and I’m constantly on the hunt now for new ideas and activities. Our six-year-old is an incredible artist, mind blowing really, and it’s thrilling to show her new ways to express her talent. It’s also a huge ego boost for me because they think I’m some kind of artistic genius.

I know I’ve written before about never recognizing my own artistic ability. I’ve spent so much time trying to support the artists I’ve loved, and help them realize their own goals. I’ve always thought of myself more as a dabbler, but now that I am the working artist in my household, I think I need to get on board with this idea – Schnoo as artiste.

Thirty-three years of denial is hard to kick. This much I know.

My partners are super supportive. They are supportive in the way that I have been supportive; that ‘I know you can do anything you want, and I want to help you realize how’ kind of way. It’s so incredible, in fact, it’s sometimes hard to believe. I want to be very sensitive about never taking advantage of this, or taking it for granted.

What will I do now, with this opportunity? I know I cannot sit at a desk, in an office, tied to one space for hours on end. I don’t work well like this, and I can’t pretend anymore.

The faint glimmerings of an incredible work possibility are on the horizon, but I don’t want to jinx it. It all came about in one of those moments when timing seemed like everything. I’ll write more as I learn more about this.

Whatcha got for me next, universe?