August 20, 2009

"ACT-ing up" from Texas

Self-Portrait by Jean Baptiste Simeon Chardin, 1775

Jean Baptiste must have been my predecessor. Everybody thinks this is ME. A realistic snapshot of me in my gardening hat and sunglasses that's worth hanging in the Louvre. Not in the Renoir gallery of bosomy women with large be-hinds, best fit for bearing intelligent kids; but somewhere in the Louvre for sure. Maybe over yonder in the landscape section. Gardeners tend to be less concerned with taking care of themselves than they are taking care of their flowers.

This picture also reminded me of a person who likes their solitude and I see myself as a outsider who 'fits in', but doesn't really 'fit in'. If you know what I mean. Maybe it all started when the crayon worked best in my left hand even after adults told me to use my right hand or suffer the wrath of God.

SO to please everyone in my life including myself, I used my right hand to cut paper with scissors, my left-hand to draw, and had my feet come with opposable thumbs, I'd have looked like an octopus in kindergarten.

Then after a week of grade school resistance, off to church we'd go on Sunday and my lesson in iconoclasm was biblically reinforced. "Then shall he also say unto them on the left hand, depart from me, ye cursed, into the eternal fire which is prepared for the devil and his angels." Matthew 25:41

It was hard growing up.

Perhaps my left-handedness precipitated perceptions of myself as an anomaly. A nice one; but an anomaly nonetheless. If my brain made humorous connections between two disparate thoughts, it didn't upset me if people cocked their eyebrows and asked, "Where'd that come from? Out of left field?"

All that to say that the other day, I wrote a message about myself as an old school bus and yea, it was a little far-fetched, though you have to admit the clip art was cute. The metaphor of a bus fit well since despite my loner-ism, I go through life collecting people like some folks collect nick-knacks. It was during my healing process that I thought of myself as a bus because I appreciate anyone who dares attach to a left-handed, left-behind, leftie who brakes at stop signs, obeys traffic rules, and graciously yields to the right even if she's headed left herself.

I've been visiting my son in Texas and he was only too proud to take me to his local Barnes & Noble bookstore. It was INCREDIBLE. I nearly leapt out of my Nikes when we opened the front door and saw ESCALATORS carrying people with shopping carts to the second floor. There were leather easy chairs, an aromatic Starbucks, rows and rows of bargains and library-ish signs directing people through what must surely be the biggest bookstore in Texas!

My internal compass irresistibly pulled me towards the psychology section like a magnet to a well-stocked refrigerator. The first book begging a nibbling outlined a therapeutic approach called ACT (re: Acceptance, Commitment and Take Action). I bought the book titled, Finding Life Beyond Trauma by Victoria Follette and Jaqueline Pistorello (I love therapy books written by women. They 'get' what our lives have been like during the deconstruction of traditional roles) and started reading it last night while the kids were playing Resident Evil or some other computer game reminding them of childhood.

Lo and behold, and YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS, the authors of this respected psychology book that even made it through editing and publication, compared people to BUSES.

Yes. Buses.

Maybe the authors are left-handed, I dunno, but let me share this with all of you and hopefully redeem my now-officially-sanctioned-metaphor of 'the bus' since people with Ph.D's used it to describe the healing process in their book.

This is so hilarious to me...maybe that's because it's becoming undeniably obvious that left-handed or right-handed, people react similarly to trauma. We really aren't alone in our singular perception of peculiarity.

Follette and Pistorello wrote: 
"As the bus driver, you often have to make decisions about things like speeding up, slowing down, and, most importantly, making turns at different intersections. You have some ideas about your route---what you would like to do with your life---AND there are passengers on your bus who look pretty scary."

(The authors musta seen my kids).

"Some of these characters who have somehow managed to get on your bus, are acting menacingly."

(They musta seen my X).

"They sneer and frown at you, bulging out their eyes and making rude get scared, who wouldn't?? It seems best to do what these creeps tell you to do; otherwise, they might really go crazy and take over altogether."

(They definitely met my X).

"What if other people saw these passengers on your bus and thought you picked them up on purpose?"

(They musta met the "You're codependent!" brigade).

"You've become so accustomed to this pattern that when an intersection is coming up, all the nasty passengers have to do is merely look in your direction and you turn left without their having to lift a finger."

And THAT, my friends, is where they lost me.


Hugs all,


Follette and Pistorello. Finding Life Beyond Trauma. Using Acceptance and Commitment Therapy to Heal from Post-Traumatic Stress and Trauma-Related Problems. Published by newharbingerpublications, inc. Pages 104-105


  1. "the Renoir gallery of bosomy women with large be-hinds, best fit for bearing intelligent kids"

    had me laughing!

  2. "started reading it last night while the kids were playing Resident Evil or some other computer game reminding them of childhood."

    OK! LOOK! I cannot keep posting to blogs and forums if my keyboard keeps getting covered in coffee spray!

  3. Pheonix,

    Maybe you stumbled across the Psychoplogy article suggesting men chose women with big butts because these women had an evolutionary advantage over women with skinny butts. (If procreation is the unconscious motive, not how well she conforms to standards of beauty).

    The article goes on to suggest that women with 'bigger behinds' bear children with higher intelligence. Supposedly. this is because bigger brains can pass through the birth canal.

    Alls I know is that both my kids are extremely intelligent.


    Nice to know people are laughing at my cockamamie comments...'cuz gosh knows, we sure NEED a good laugh!

    Some of my best laughs ever have occurred while reading psychologist's research conclusions.


  4. When I teach a foundation art history course to gr.9's, or we talk about what Ideal Beauty is in gr.12, I show them the Venus of Willendorf (one of my faves) and I tell them just what youre referring to. Big butts, big boobs, big bellies and big thighs - and try to get them to imagine how luscious and alluring they looked during a time when people had to forage for food and when child mortality rates were so high.

    And the real beauty and mystery of it was, those idols or images appeared all over the world during a time when there were no transcontinental boat trips, no satellite, no airmail.

    I'm not commenting on the size of my butt, but suffice it to say, my kid's straight A's too!!!!


  5. I actually have a small Venus of Willendorf on a necklace that I sport around town when I'm feelin' spunky. Ha!

    My age will definitely show in this comment:

    It used to be that women and men married in order to have children and their lives were focused on raising, disciplining and playing with those children as their highest priority.

    Nowadays, or so it seems to this ol' dinosaur, men and women get together to play with each other.

    I doubt most men these days are thinking about big butts and smart children. If they are thinking about having children, they want a wife who fits the cultural ideal. Not that I’d know what men were thinking but watching couples in church or in public, tells me “things has changed, CZ.”

    Marriage is not about meeting the children’s needs anymore. It’s about meeting the adult’s needs. Who wants to put up with a big butt in the day and age of breast implants?

    LOL…not to offend anyone but it used to be that a large bosom was only possible with an ample derriere. At least that used to console me when I couldn’t fit into size 2 jeans.



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