We are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole

Did you hear the one about the plastic surgeon who transformed a woman into the “perfect” female and then married her?

She went under his knife for multiple procedures including liposuction in several places, Botox and a vaginoplasty. She says he loves her for who she is inside.

Sounds like a bad joke, but apparently it’s true.

I feel bad for Veronica but worse for her nine-year-old daughter Isabella, who says she will never have surgery because she wants to be herself. I hope she can stick to her pledge, especially when she’s a teenager in that household.

To be perfect, or to be whole

Her refurbished mother is now “perfect”, without flaw or irregularity of any kind — befitting a culture that equates perfection with wholeness, with being complete.

But who among us is immune to the idea of making a body image “tweak” here or there?

Our culture is fixated on perfect 10s and we are reminded every day of where we fall short. Add some years to the mix and you’ve got a perfect storm of temptation.

When my daughter was little she would watch me put on makeup and say, “You are perfect mommy, just the way you are.” I sometimes wished I believed it as much as she did.

Recently I came across a  video in which actress Jane Fonda talks about how she became bulimic as a young woman to get a slim, perfect looking body.

But “we are not meant to be perfect, we are meant to be whole,” she says.

Her words have stayed with me ever since.

What does it mean to be whole?

To be whole means to be at peace with yourself, in harmony with who you are, imperfections included.

The process of becoming whole takes place gradually, on the inside; your outside packaging has nothing to do with it. 

Your bullshit detector

When you feel whole you are operating from a strong inner core of self-respect and self-love. What is good for you, and what is not, becomes very clear.

Your inner bullshit detector goes off whenever anyone tries to marginalize you, put you down or renovate you.

Being whole, or evolving in that direction (and we’re all a work in progress), means you start to outgrow those unhealthy relationships.

You tire of being hurt. You begin to let go of, and eventually walk away from, anyone who doesn’t treat you with the respect you deserve.

Being whole has a lot in common with being a brat:

Never let anyone drag you down instead of lifting you up.

 

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

 

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The secret to your success is in your childhood

If you want to know what you should be doing for a living, look at your childhood.

Back then you knew what you loved to do and you did it. You didn’t need to take a course, survey your friends or consult a career coach.

Everything was clear.

I was an instigator. In elementary school I got other kids to follow me around the yard at recess, singing songs I had chosen and written out on long sheets of paper.

I came up with new painting techniques or created completely new kinds of paintings — and became very annoyed when other kids copied them. I loved performing and collaborating on plays. I got great marks in English class.

The things you loved to do as a kid reveal your talents and personality and they provide the clues to what you were meant to do in your career.

Think back to elementary school:

What were you always doing every chance you got?

What did you get in trouble for?

What did you excel at?

What did you hate to do?

Doing what you’re good at — or what you love

You were yourself back then, the same self, with everyone you met. You hadn’t learned to suppress some of your personality to please others, to make them feel better about themselves or to fit in.

Back then, you didn’t just do what you were good at, you did what you loved!

I knew the difference between the two when I was 10 but I only discovered it years later. I remember the year and even the restaurant I was in when the ‘revelation’ occurred to me.

The full monty

Being a brat means defying any social convention that tells you it’s too late to reconnect with who you really are.

It is never too late to make a change — if you want to.

Being a brat means giving the world the full monty! No holding back, no excuses.

Don’t compartmentalize yourself, don’t keep those aspects that are most truly you from the rest of the world where they could do so much good.

They are connected to your strongest talents and gifts.

If you’re not doing what you love for a living, what did you love to do as a kid?

The secret to your success is there.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Denying your fear, makes it stronger

Everyone has to beat back fear. You have to charge ahead in spite of it to get the tough stuff done.

Right?

Suck it up, princess!

Somewhere along the way I absorbed the idea that ignoring my fear, pushing on in spite of it, was being ‘brave.’ I became a warrior and sucked it up.

Hanging out with fear

But as Seth Godin notes, denying your fear actually makes it stronger. Fear will keep poking at you from the inside while you’re busy being `brave` on the outside.

Reminds me of a comment by awesome entrepreneur and marketing coach Payson Cooper . She says that you really need to sit with those feelings, not turn away from them.

Listening to your fears, allowing yourself to feel them, helps you find a way forward because there is usually a lesson there. There is some information in that feeling of fear, that will help you make your next move.

As Godin says, “…fear becomes a compass…a way to know what to do next.`

A different kind of warrior

I thought warriors ignored that gnawing feeling in their stomachs and charged into the void. Turns out I may have been a warrior without a compass!

I’m learning to take the time to feel what may not feel good, because it will help guide me forward.  It’s about being a different kind of warrior.

Brats work with fear

Fear is part of life. Learning to work with it rather than against it, helps you get out of your own way so you can live the life you want. 

Nothin’ brattier than that.;)

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

How Katharine Hepburn changed my life

When I was a kid I lived in the country, far away from the big city.

I knew that if I wanted to go to university — and get away from my current circumstances — I would have to make it happen myself. I would have to organize it and finance it on my own.

But sometimes when you feel you’re on your own, you’re not. Often there is someone whose example gives you the courage to make a major change.

For me that person was outspoken actress and icon, Katharine Hepburn (below, in a 1940 still by Clarence Sinclair Bull, for The Philadelphia Story). She played feisty, independent-minded women in films and was much the same off-camera.

Katharine Hepburn, The Philadelphia Story, 1940 by Clarence Sinclair Bull

“That’s all there is to life, being part of it.”

I read those words of Hepburn’s and I never forgot them.

As a teen I desperately wanted to be part of life — a richer, bigger life — which to me meant going off to university and living in a big city. There was energy there, intellectual stimulation and fresh, new ideas and ways of looking at the world!

I had outgrown my circumstances. I needed to stretch and grow and learn, to be challenged. I was hungry for it.

Hepburn’s independent spirit reinforced my resolve. I watched her films and read everything I could about her. Her passion for life and her view that you must take responsibility for your own destiny inspired and empowered me. It made me feel bold and strong.

Where would I be without Hepburn’s inspiration?

How I could have changed the course of my life without her inspiration is something I won’t allow myself to consider. Altering my circumstances was so critical to my well-being and to my future, that I cannot imagine what would have happened had I not done it. I won’t let myself imagine it.

Feeling inspired gives you courage and reinforces the courage you already have. It helps push you to make the changes that will move you forward and into a healthier place.

Katharine Hepburn’s advice for living:

  • “Life is to be lived. If you have to support yourself, you had bloody well better find some way that is going to be interesting. And you don’t do that by sitting around.”
  • “Without discipline, there’s no life at all.”
  • “The thing about life is that you must survive. Life is going to be difficult, and dreadful things will happen. What you do is move along, get on with it, and be tough. Not in the sense of being mean to others, but being tough with yourself and making a deadly effort not to be defeated.”
  • “We are taught you must blame your father, your sisters, your brothers, the school, the teachers – but never blame yourself. It’s never your fault. But it’s always your fault, because if you wanted to change you’re the one who has got to change.”

But don’t forget your sense of humour. This quote inspires Bratty Kathy every single day:

“If you obey all of the rules, you miss all of the fun.”

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Cyber-Seniors — the movie!

The web is a great place to find men if you are 77. Just ask Annette, one of the stars of the new documentary, Cyber-Seniors.

The film shows what happens when teenage sisters Kascha and Macaulee get their high school friends to teach seniors how to use computers. It pokes gentle fun at the generational divide and then shows it disappear as friendships form.

A YouTube video contest grew out of the school project and eventually so did this film, directed by the girls’ sister, Saffron.

I met many of the seniors last summer, when I was one of the judges of the Cyber-Seniors video contest, so it was great to reconnect with them at last night’s screening.

Olivia Chow, MP, Trinity-Spadina, stopped by to give some rousing opening remarks and to chat with the cyber-seniors including Shura (below centre) who was enjoying the evening with her friend Linda Wells (left).

Cyber Seniors screening with Olivia Chow

Then it was off to the movies for cyber-senior gold:

Learning new things

“When you’re 90, the elevator goes slowly to the third floor.”  Barbara (90)

Barbara Cyber Seniors-1

Forgetting new things

Teen teacher: “I’ve had quite a few of them forget their passwords. The answer to the security question never helps.”

Finding your way online 

Frances:  “I typed in www.email.com.”  Max (teacher): “Yes, that’s the problem.”

What is Facebook?

“It’s where you put all your friends and then you delete them.” Annette (77)

Facebook etiquette 

Lydia discovers a man that she hasn’t seen in ages on Facebook and thinks she’ll just “poke” him.  Granddaughter Courtney tells her that poking someone you don’t know is, well, rude.

Annette feels it is inappropriate to post pictures of yourself kissing someone. Teacher Henri says,”This is exactly why I don’t have my grandmother on Facebook!”

Annette and Henri Cyber Seniors-1

Finding love online

Annette becomes intrigued with online dating sites. “Single woman wanted!” she reads aloud. “You make these things go too fast,” she tells Henri as they scan a site. ”Can’t you go back to the single man?”

Celebrating setbacks

Senior: “I crashed! I’m proud of it; I didn’t know I could!”

Cyber Seniors movie party Linda Wells, Diana Martin and her sister Shura

(Linda, Shura’s sister Diana Martin and Shura)

Cooking lessons

As Shura got used to the computer, she became very fond of watching cooking videos on YouTube.

So, she decided to make her own.

In “Cooking with Shura,” she demonstrates how to boil corn-on-the-cob in an electric kettle and cook grilled cheese sandwiches with an iron.

The moment when she leans in to choose the correct setting before ironing her sandwich, is priceless.

Cyber-Seniors video contest

After watching Shura’s video, others wanted to get in on the act.

Marion, 93, who still has all of her teeth, shows them off in a rap video.

Marion Cyber Seniors

Lydia Cyber Seniors-1

Lydia talks about her passion for gardening and Ellard (90) demonstrates his exercise routine.

Ellard on exercise bike Cyber Seniors-1

Annette goes on the town for, “Six tips on how to pick up” men.

My grandmother would love this video about seniors and technology. It celebrates that bratty spirit that pushes you to try new things, to be who you are and to pull the rug out from anything that gets in your way. And it inspires others do the same.

And, it has the Hallelujah Chorus!

Carpe diem filmmakers, teachers and Cyber-Seniors!

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Negative self-talk: kick it to the curb

If you think you don’t deserve it, you won’t get it.

Do you ever tell yourself: I don’t deserve to have a loving partner; I don’t deserve to be financially comfortable; I don’t deserve a good job. In other words, I don’t have a right to those things.

If you’re guilty of that kind of negative self-talk, think back to your childhood.

Every child deserves to be nurtured 

When you were little, did you deserve to be loved, nurtured and cared for? Did you deserve to have your talents and dreams supported by the adults around you? Did you deserve to have friends to hang out with and fun things to do?

Of course you did.

Maybe you didn’t get what you deserved but that wasn’t your fault. It was the fault of the adults around you; it was their responsibility to provide those things for you. You didn’t have to “earn” them by being pretty enough or smart enough or popular enough. You just deserved them. Period.

Every child deserves to be loved and nurtured, made to feel special and to know that their talents and personality are unique and wonderful.

You deserve a happy life and a successful career

Now you deserve the adult version of those things — a good career that utilizes your talents and gifts, people who support and believe in you and financial stability. You deserve all of that; you never stopped deserving it.

You’re that same little child, just older. You still deserve a good life. 

Negative thoughts change your life 

But if you’ve adopted negative self-talk that says you don’t, then you are setting yourself up for struggle and heartache.

You may think, “Why should I try for those things? I’m not one of those people who has a nice home, a great job and a holiday every year.”

If you’ve been listening to that negative voice, that lie — and believing it, then you won’t create a life that makes good things possible. Thinking you don’t deserve them will remove the confidence you need to pursue them.

Being a brat means exposing anything false and being empowered by the truth — not choked by lies. The idea that you “don’t deserve” success is a lie. 

But changing your thought patterns takes time so be patient and keep trying.

Whenever you think, “I don’t deserve good things”:

1. Remember when you were a child. You deserved good things then and you deserve them now. That hasn’t changed.

2. Ask yourself: Do I feel better when I think this way? Do things improve? Are these thoughts helping me create the life I want?

3. Replace negative thoughts with positive ones: I deserve a fulfilling career; I deserve a partner who will have my back; I deserve to be financially secure.

4. Be a brat. Rip the rug out from under any lie that says you’re not good enough. Smash it. Kick it to the curb!

c 2013 Kathy Barthel

Coming out of the closet as a brat

For years I was in the closet; only my closest friends and family knew I was a brat.

In fact, this blog only came about because my inner brat decided to bust out a few weeks ago.

Bratty childhood

My kick-ass spirit wasn’t always hidden. When I was four, I scolded my beloved grandmother because she’d made my big sister cry. When I was 10, I wrote an indignant letter to the prime minister telling him to stop the seal hunt. 

Sometimes you have to stir it up, you have to pull the rug out from under things to make them right.

Adventures in bratty dating

The summer before university, I went out with my boyfriend at 8:30 p.m. Saturday night, and returned home at 7:30 a.m. Sunday morning.

My mom, bless her heart, was very upset and asked what the neighbours would think about me coming in at that time.

I said, “Well, if they’re peering out their windows in the middle of the night wondering where I am, I think they’re the ones with the problem, not me.”

As a parent I understand where my mom was coming from but being a brat means standing up for the truth, even if it goes against the status quo.

And the status quo is often covering up another truth.

Into the closet

I remember doing the dishes with my sister on a visit home from university and saying something typically bratty. She asked if I would say that to my boyfriend and I said, ‘Of course not! He couldn’t handle it.” 

It may have been during the dishwashing that my inner brat went into the closet. 

 Peeking out

This has been a year of change — being downsized, my only child moving away for school, becoming single again and more recently, the loss of my mom.

This post marks one year since that all began.

But it has also been a year of growth, creativity and new alliances.

Just over a year ago I was on my porch enjoying the summer night air and writing about how I wanted to do more public speaking, writing and videos. I wanted to inspire people to live more fulfilling lives by doing what they were meant to do.

I also wanted to move my own life in that direction. 

Busting out

For me that means being a brat — calling out hypocrisy, taking a strip off injustice and ripping the rug out from under my own thoughts or ideas when they get in the way of the life I want to live.

And of course, having a little fun.

When I launched this blog a few weeks ago I didn’t put my name on the posts, only my pseudonym, Bratty Kathy.

I told myself, “If you write about orgasms, you’ll never work in this town again!”

I got over it.

c 2013 Kathy Barthel