Sunday, June 27, 2010

Body Image -- Getting Over It

I was just asked to provide a photo of myself for an article. I wish I could have gotten away with sending the one on the left. That was taken in London a year before my oldest niece was born -- she just turned nineteen.

If you had asked me for this photo twenty years ago, I would have balked. I'd have said it made me look too fat, too old, too tired, too frizzy... Now I look back at the photo and think, "Now that's back cover material! Alison Bruce, Woman of Mystery."

I wish those Dove commercials had been around when I was growing up.

Now, and I will be the first one to admit it, I hide behind cartoon self portraits. It started with "Coffee Girl". Note that she isn't skinny. I got over the "must be skinny" phase decades ago. In fact, I have a bad habit of offering unsolicited advice to strangers talking about the latest fad diet -- especially if they've teens.

"I dieted myself to my current weight," I tell them. And it's true. At age sixteen I was a curvy blonde bombshell that saw herself as a fat girl. If I could go back in time, I'd give that kid a slap.

Maybe when I'm eighty-something, I'll have the same thought's about the current me.

So, no skinny cartoons -- but no Bell's Palsy either. I have to admit, that's the sticking point picking a photo these days.  No bow-lipped pout for me. If I don't smile, I look grim; if I do, it's all too obvious that one side of my face doesn't work as well as the other. Yet, when I spot other people who have had Bell's Palsy -- Jean Chretien comes to mind -- I recognize it without thinking it mars their looks. I'm just hard on me.

I suppose the bottom line is, I don't see myself the way I look in photos. Mirrors are kinder. (Except first thing in the morning, of course.) The reflection of myself in the eyes of my children, friends and family is even better. That's how I need to see myself -- the way they see me.

It's a work in progress. In fact, I'd say I have it covered until I have to supply a photo for something.

 Post Script....

I've decided that I really need to get myself a trench coat and fedora... or maybe a riding coat and a Stetson for when I write westerns. In the meantime, this blog led to my niece Sophie making me pose for a new profile photo.

Friday, June 18, 2010

3 Tips for Cooperative Living

I live in co-operative housing. It has many good things going for it including affordability and a safe environment for my kids. It does have a few drawbacks too. Privacy is more difficult to maintain. Personality conflicts are harder to avoid. A few people do most of the work; a few more do nothing; and the rest need regular motivation to participate.

None of these issues are unique to co-ops. Workplaces, classrooms, boards, and associations of all kinds have the same problems. Since I'm in a "3 Tips" frame of mind (see National Crime Writing Month Blog), I thought I'd share my top tips for living in a co-op and generally working with people.

1. You don’t have to like a person to get along with them.
Cooperation doesn’t rely on liking a person. For socializing and lasting relationships, liking is key. To achieve common goals – like property maintenance or decision making or whose turn it is to clean up – respect is much more important.
When we give and expect respect, we are more inclined to listen fairly  instead of jumping to a positive or negative conclusion based on personal preference.
Respectful behaviour includes courtesy: the courtesy of listening; the courtesy of speaking directly to the issue; the courtesy of dealing with a person directly rather than talking about them behind their backs.
We don’t need to like a person to show them respect, but it is the first best step to getting along with them.

2. Don’t gossip, communicate.

If you are curious about someone, have a problem with their behaviour, or just aren’t sure about something - talk TO them not ABOUT them.
Most people don’t bite if addressed directly about an issue in a courteous and respectful manner. Most of us are actually like talking about ourselves as long as the questions aren’t too personal. Problems can be settled or become non-issues with communication.
Direct communication doesn’t always work, but it is always more effective than gossip.

3. The carrot works better than the stick.
No one likes to feel nagged.
Everyone like to feel appreciated.
Use that knowledge!

Sunday, June 6, 2010

Health: Female Masterbation

What every girl should know -- and most parents won't want to discuss.
Guest Blog by K. I. Bruce-Ireland

Every time you masturbate a kitten dies, your ovaries shrivel up and you become infertile, you’ll get hit by lightening, a car and your late grandmother, you’ll die alone, you’ll loose your beauty and hair and if all that isn’t enough, when your sin-filled life is finally over, you’ll go to Hell. These are the things our mothers tell us to keep the showers short and make women think that one bad touch will bring upon the apocalypse. But when being lectured about the lonely life ahead of you, they never mention that self-fulfillment can be the best thing for a female’s libido. Masturbation is an important part of any woman’s sex life because of the positive health effects, the opportunity to learn new ways to reach an orgasm and because it can be very difficult for a woman to reach her climax with a partner.

    Not only does masturbation simply feel good, it has numerous positive health effects. Masturbation has been known to help against insomnia. Out of a study of two thousand, thirty-two per cent said that they used masturbation to help sleep. (9) It also gives you a mini cardiorespiratory workout, giving a quick jolt of intense heart beats, slowly building during masturbation and beating at it’s fullest through the duration of the orgasm which is approximately fifteen to twenty seconds. (9,4) Lastly it is a natural pain reliever, the sensation dulls the pain threshold, helping against headache and pregnancy pains like contractions. (9)  There are many more positive effects that make masturbation all the more appealing.

    Masturbation is the best way to learn about your body’s needs and desires. The first thing is to remember to have fun, if all you think about is reaching your climax then it will be harder to achieve. Masturbation is about having enjoying yourself and shouldn’t be stressed about. (8) The most simple way to masturbate is the use of a clitoral massage. This can be done by rubbing the clitoris with fingers, hand or an object, pinching is also is also a good way or using a handheld shower, though clitoral stimulation can sometimes be too intense. (4,3) Lastly is the use if a dildo, which is inserted into the either the vagina or the anus. Dildos come in many shapes and sizes, in ribbed or not ribbed, vibrating or not vibrating. (8,6) Knowing what your body needs is important and promotes a healthy sex life.

    Finding pleasure with any partner can be a challenge, where upon masturbation is the only way to orgasm. When dealing with this you must first realize that it is no one’s fault; there are many thing that could be causing it. The most common one being that the man is too confident. (7,5) Some other issues are more medical, such anorgasmia –  when you are unable to orgasm –  an injury, stress or guilt. (4, 1) The best way to help achieve orgasm with a partner is to masturbate. This helps you learn what your pleasures are, which you should tell your partner so they may better cater to your needs. (7,2) No matter your attachment to your partner or their skill level, a female orgasm can be hard to reach and you should never feel guilty about spending time on your own pleasure.

    The things under the bed will not come and smack you silly and yet many women are told tales such as this from a young age. Self exploration has many positive health effect, gives you the opportunity to learn about your body and helps with any problems reaching orgasm with a partner. Masturbation promotes taking time for one’s self, feeling good and understanding our own bodies.

“We know that more then seventy to eighty per cent of women and ninety per cent of men masturbate, and the rest lie.” - Joycelyn  Elders, June 5 2006. (10)

  1. "Anorgasmia." The Canadian Medical Encyclopedia. 1992., 1., 111.
  2. "" Available at: May 20Learning Masturbation. Our Bodies, Ourselves: Touchstone publishers, 2006.
  3. Maines, Rachel P. "Frigity" and Anorgasmia. The Technology of Orgasm: The Johns Hopkins University press, 1999.
  4. "" Available at: May 28.
  5. "" Available at: April 30 2010.
  6. "" Available at: April 30 2010.
  7. "" Available at: April 30 2010.
  8. Silverberg, Cory. "" Available at: May 1 2010.
  9. "wikiquote." Available at May 28.
A final note...
This was written by my daughter for Grade 8 Health. Her teacher asked me several times if I was okay with this. Actually, I'm very proud of her for taking it on. However, I do want to point out right now, I never told her a kitten would die or she'd get struck by lightning -- not even once. - AB