To Be or Not To Be

To Be or Not To Be

To Be or Not To Be

I heard something the other day that really hit home.  It seemed so smart.  It made so much sense.  I just have to share!  The question is “to be or not to be.”

When speaking of experiencing emotions we say:

I am sad.

I am angry.

I am happy.

I am frustrated.

I am joyful.

Interesting.  We talk about how we all “have” emotions but when we’re in it, we say we “are” that emotion (am is the first person singular present tense of are).

What’s the big deal?

The definition of HAVE is: 1. to possess, own, hold or 2. experience, undergo

The definition of BE (am, are, etc in different tenses) is: to have presence in the realm of perceived reality; exist; live 

When we say “I am – fill in the emotion” – we are expressing that that is our reality.  It is how we are living, existing.

In many other cultures/languages they say “I have – fill in the emotion” which indicates that the emotion is a current experience that we are holding for that moment.  The big difference between am and have is that with have, you have the option to let go.

Using “am” makes it feel a part of you, like something that will never end.  For example, I am a woman.  I am 50 years old.  I am 6 feet tall.  It would take a lot of work to change these things and some, like age, are unchangeable.  Emotions, however, can change on a dime.  By using “am” to refer to them we are tricking ourselves into thinking the anger, sadness or even happiness, will never change.

Using “have” gives you choice.  I have anger right now.  I choose to be angry right now.  And I can decide in the next moment to “have” another emotion.  In the next moment I may “have” relief, happiness, frustration, excitement and so on.  “Have” gives so much more freedom around our emotions.  It promotes choice.  It gives the impression of the ability to let go.

Which sounds better to you?  I choose “have”.  My intention is to make a conscious effort to change the way I refer to my emotions from “am” to “have”. With the question to be or not to be, I choose not to be.

How about you?  Do you want your emotions to run you, to be your perceived reality or to be a temporary state of being that you are currently experiencing?  I hope to “have” my emotions along with you.


Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty

Setting Selfish Goals

Setting Selfish Goals

Setting Selfish Goals

Here is the post from last year about selfish goals.  I must admit, I don’t think I could say it any better this year.  Set your selfish goals.  It’s worth it!


Did you make any New Year’s resolutions? If you did, there’s a good chance you’ve already broken it – or them.

There’s something about a new year that gives us hope for self improvement. The chance to correct all the mistakes we’ve made so far. The opportunity to be more than you were and closer to the perfection you envision. No pressure.

And then it all falls apart in a few weeks or, if you’re especially motivated, a few months.

The most common resolutions are:

- get fit/lose weight/be healthier

- quit smoking

- quit drinking

- spend more time with the family/work less

- get out of debt

- learn something new

- get organized/declutter

Been there done that? And how’d it turn out for you?

How about an alternative?


What’s the difference you may ask.

- resolutions are big sweeping changes, selfish goals are little things to do just for you.

- resolutions can feel onerous and overwhelming, selfish goals can be fun and rewarding.

- resolutions are often a result of societal pressure like being a certain size while selfish goals come from a desire and passion to be and express your best self.

The difference can be subtle. Let’s break down selfish goals vs resolutions to make it clearer.

RESOLUTION: get fit/lose weight

SELFISH GOAL: What are the things you love to do anyway that you’ve dropped out of your life for various reasons? Try something like this on for size. I love to walk in nature. I’m going to set a goal to walk a minimum of three times a week. OR I love to dance. I’m going to take a dance class. There is no reference to weight or fitness. It’s about doing things you love which will have the surprising outcome of making you healthier.

RESOLUTION: quit smoking/drinking

SELFISH GOAL: Ask yourself WHY do you want to quit? If its because you should or someone is pressuring you, be prepared to fail. If it’s because you have a deep desire to live better and healthier, then break it down further. What will you be able to do/enjoy more when you’ve succeeded in quitting? Set goals around those things and it will give you motivation for the big quit.

RESOLUTION: spend more time with family.

SELFISH GOAL: This can be tricky. One aspect of Selfish Goals is they are about YOU. Setting a selfish goal that involves someone else can defeat the purpose. Often when we set goals that involve others we get defeated if they’re not on the same page. Ex: I want to go to Paris with my husband but if he hates to travel or can’t stand French people,will you let that stop you from going to Paris? SOLUTION: Before setting any family goals, find out what they want as well. Be sure to know what you want so that you don’t go along with the desires of others just to make peace. Now mesh the priorities of everyone as best you can. If they don’t want to be part of this goal, you may need to find other ways to satisfy this desire. Be prepared to be creative. Also realize that you need self time as well. Make sure your whole life isn’t wrapped around your family – especially you ladies!

RESOLUTION: get out of debt

SELFISH GOAL: Less debt is a noble goal. Unless you have a clear reason to get out of debt other than you “should”, it will never happen and will feel like a burden. Without the weight of debt around your neck, what would you be able to do? Travel? Buy better clothes? Give to charity? Set the selfish goals of what you will do when the debt is gone and remarkably the debt will shrink.

RESOLUTION: learn something new

SELFISH GOAL: What do you want to learn? Be very clear about the end result you want. Do you want to do something creative? Are you leaning toward something academic? Do you want to work alone or in a group? How much time/money are you willing to spend? Once you answer these questions, you can look for things that satisfy your needs. Being selfish in this way will guarantee a higher level of success with your endeavor. Most of all, be sure you’re having fun with it!

RESOLUTION: get organized

SELFISH GOAL: Why do you want to get organized? The why will help with the how. Cleaning out your closet is an onerous job. But when you do it to make room for new clothes, it feels more exciting. Organizing your office seems like the worst job ever. But when you do it knowing that you will feel more creative, it gives you energy. Always look for the why and the how will come. Being selfish in this way will create more motivation.

A University of Bristol study suggests that 88% of people fail their resolutions. Not very encouraging. Change to Selfish Goals that bring you joy, feed your passion, ramp up your energy and in general make you feel great, you will succeed.

Have fun being selfish!

Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty

It’s Playtime! – Feline Life Lesson #4

It's Playtime!

It’s Playtime!

The next several posts will be related to a new book I’m working on.  The title – at this time – is Feline Life Lessons.  The short life lessons will be accompanied by cat pictures.  The pictures will be of my cats and those of my friends/followers.  So, if you have cats and some good shots of them, if you feel inspired by the lessons I will cover over the next several posts, please send them along.  You will, of course, get full credit for your pic(s).

It’s Playtime! – Feline Life Lesson #4

No matter their age, cats always play.  All it takes is a long piece of fabric dangling or a catnip mouse on the floor or a laser pointer (or other point of light), and away they go!  Suddenly, it’s playtime!

Humans, on the other hand, often forget to play.  As we get older it starts to seem frivolous.  It becomes something we have to plan or coordinate.  If we do it at all.  I have a friend whose favorite question when getting to know people is “what do you do for fun?”  It is remarkable how many people can’t even answer that question.

Let’s take a clue from cats young and old – playtime is a good thing!

  • It keeps us fit.
  • It keeps us engaged in life.
  • It makes us laugh.
  • It keeps us young.

And who doesn’t want that?

There are many ways to have fun, and we all like different things.  Even cats have different tastes.

I have to keep elastic bands away from my Siamese Marlowe otherwise he rips them apart.  My no longer with us orange tabby Griffon loved twist ties.  Izzy, the Abyssinian, will play with anything he finds laying on the floor, attached to with window or your fingers.

A few years ago while browsing a toy store in Banff, my man and I found a toy called “Cat in a Bag”.  It was a paper bag with a ball and motor in it attached to a tail sticking out of the bag that twisted and turned around on the floor.  We bought it, certain the cats would love it.  They did not!  They ran from it.

On the other hand, give them a simple burlap bag filled with catnip or honeysuckle and you can’t keep it away from them as they rub their face and roll all over it.

What you find fun isn’t the same as what others find fun.  For example, I hate games like Risk, Monopoly and Scrabble – anything that requires a lot of strategy and/or takes a long time for each person to take a turn.  I love quick, creative games like Pictionary, Scattegories and Cranium.   I’m not big on team sports, but I like activities like dancing, bowling, cross country skiing and sledding.

What do you find fun?

With the holidays approaching, there will be a lot of opportunities to have fun with family and friends.  Use this time as a chance to reignite your play.

  • Take some time to reflect on what you find fun.
  • Don’t let your age deter you from fun – you’re never too old.
  • Seek out opportunities to do what you enjoy – take a class, go to a board game cafe, join a meet up group – there are so many options!
  • Spend time with children and allow them to guide the play – they’re much better at it!

Remember every day – It’s Playtime!

Have fun!

Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty

Ask for What You Want – Feline Life Lesson #3

Ask For What You Want

Ask For What You Want

The next several posts will be related to a new book I’m working on.  The title – at this time – is Feline Life Lessons.  The short life lessons will be accompanied by cat pictures.  The pictures will be of my cats and those of my friends/followers.  So, if you have cats and some good shots of them, if you feel inspired by the lessons I will cover over the next several posts, please send them along.  You will, of course, get full credit for your pic(s).

ASK FOR WHAT YOU WANT - Feline Life Lesson #3

Cats know how to get what they want.  We may not speak the same language, but the messages are still clear.

Attention?  They will touch your arm, rub against you, look at you and “ask” (meow).  My Izzy is a pro at pawing at me until I pay attention.  Marlowe will climb on me and start to purr.

Food?  They will run toward their food bowl or where the food is stored when you go near.  Some will nudge their bowl or knock it over to show it’s empty – or not full to their satisfaction.  Marlowe will stretch up and reach out to me.  He’s tall enough to touch the top of the countertop when he is at full length.  Izzy paws at the cupboard and wanders around the kitchen howling.

Clean my litter?  Complaining near the box or using another spot are a pretty clear indication.  Izzy will pee in my closet or poop near the box if it’s not clean to his satisfaction.  Marlowe isn’t as finicky.

Go outside?  Not everyone lets their cats outside.  When I first got Marlowe (a beautiful chocolate Siamese), I didn’t want him to go outside.  He made it very clear that this was NOT cool.  Siamese are famous for being very vocal – not only in quantity but also in quality.  He would walk back and forth from one door to the other yowling at the top of his voice.  Finally it was either let him out or throttle him.  So he got what he wanted.

Do you ask for what you want?  The only way to get what you want is to ask for it.  It sounds so basic and yet so often we expect our mind to be read.  “If he loves me, he should know what I want.”  “I really want that promotion.  I’m sure my boss will see that I’m the best person for the job.”

When we don’t get what we want even though we didn’t ask for it, we get all bent out of shape. “I can’t believe he got me THAT!”  “Really?  I’m am so much more qualified than she is!”

I have news for you, if you didn’t ask and you don’t get, it’s your own fault!  So start asking.

The other side of the coin is asking for what you want and still not getting it because you weren’t totally clear.  For example, I turn 50 next year.  I’ve told my partner that I want to have/do something special for this milestone.  So far I’m not really clear on what exactly that is.  I can leave it in his hands and get what I get – and maybe end up disappointed.  Or I can get clear on what I really want and be sure he fully understands.

To get what you want:

  • know what you want – be clear with yourself first
  • ask for what you want – be absolutely clear and detailed
  • be sure you are understood
  • if any detail is unclear to the person you are communicating with, repeat it until they understand; realize that you may need to word it differently if it’s unclear to the other person
  • if it is a request that will need to be accomplished over a period of time, check in on a regular basis to make sure things are still going according to plan.

Let’s go back to my 50th birthday.  Sure, it might be fun to just see what happens.  He knows he can collaborate with my sister and best friend.  If I choose to go that route  and “hope” that he does something I’ll be impressed with.  If I do that, I’ll have to be prepared to be happy with whatever I get.

It’s your choice.  Ask for exactly what you want or hope for the best because you don’t want to have to tell people what you want.  It’s your call.  If you opt for the second option, be prepared to be disappointed and don’t blame anyone other than yourself.

I would rather be a cat and be clear and get what I want.  It’s a lot more satisfying.

Live Feline Life Lesson #3 and ask for what you want!


Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty

Feline Life Lessons #2 – Take Naps

Cats will nap anywhere, anytime.

Cats will nap anywhere, anytime.

The next several posts will be related to a new book I’m working on.  The title – at this time – is Feline Life Lessons.  The short life lessons will be accompanied by cat pictures.  The pictures will be of my cats and those of my friends/followers.  So, if you have cats and some good shots of them, if you feel inspired by the lessons I will cover over the next several posts, please send them along.  You will, of course, get full credit for your pic(s).

Feline Life Lessons #2 – TAKE NAPS

Cats spend a lot of time napping.  So much so that people call their own naps “cat naps”.

In our busy society, many people shun naps.  “I’ve got so much to do!”  “I don’t have time for such things.”  “It’s a waste of time.”  “There’s no purpose for naps.”  “Just push through.”

Many are proud of how hard they work, especially those in high level jobs or entrepreneurs.  “I work 16 hour days.”  “I was so into what I was doing I stayed up until 3am and got up at 6.”  “I can’t remember the last time I had a day off.”  “I always work through lunch.”  “Breaks are for the wooses.”

Ever heard – or said – anything similar to these?

It’s easy to admire those who are so “dedicated.”  It’s easy to feel that those who work so hard are “heroes.”  It’s tempting to want to emulate such people and work harder and longer.

I’m here to tell you it ain’t worth it!  Everyone, no matter what their job – CEO, electrician or mom – needs to recharge.  A long holiday.  A day off.  A lunch break.  A nap.  These chances to relax, to decompress, to recharge are critical in our lives.

Cats have it figured out!  I look at my cats all the time and wish that if there is a next life that I will come back as a well loved house cat.  What a life!  Sleep, eat, get love, repeat.

I am a napper.  Pretty much every day after lunch (or a little later if my schedule doesn’t allow), I take a 20 minute nap.  I can even take a 5 or 10 minute quicky if that’s my only option.  I always wake up refreshed and ready to face what’s next.  I prefer to nap on my chaise under the big window in my living room.  My chocolate Siamese Marlowe will usually nap with me laid out on my chest.  If I’m out and about I will often pull over in a quiet spot and put my seat back for a few minutes to recharge.  No matter what the location, I value my naps.

Powering down doesn’t necessarily mean closing your eyes.  If you aren’t a good napper – some people have trouble falling asleep or sleep too long which creates grogginess – find some way to rest.  Take a walk.  Have a chat with someone in the lunch room.  Read something non-work related.  Whatever you do, take your mind off your work, your worries and allow your brain to reset.

For more information on napping, check out this information from the National Sleep Foundation.

Take a lesson from the cat.  Take breaks.  Relax.  Enjoy life.  We are not here to work only.  Give your brain a rest.  You will be much more efficient and effective.

I promise.

Hugs, Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty

Feline Life Lessons #1

Don't Take Anything Personally

Don’t Take Anything Personally

I had an idea for a new book.  It would be little life lessons and pictures.  The title – at this time – is Feline Life Lessons.  The short life lessons would be accompanied by cat pictures.  The pictures would be of my cats and those of my friends/followers.  So, if you have cat(s) and some good shots of them, if you feel inspired by the lessons I will cover over the next several posts, please send them along.  You will, of course, get full credit for your pic(s).

Today, Feline Life Lessons #1: DON’T TAKE ANYTHING PERSONALLY

My chocolate Siamese, Marlowe, has this lesson down.  He likes to sleep with me at night. He will snuggle right next to me. If he was bigger, you would say he was spooning.  He usually wraps up right behind my knees.  Unfortunately sometimes he curls up before I’m completely settled.  In these cases he will get moved, bumped and even knocked off the bed while I’m trying to get comfortable.  It doesn’t faze him at all.  He just keeps coming back and laying down.  Eventually, I will be settled and so will he.  He also likes to sleep on my chest when I’m on my back.  When I roll over, he won’t get huffy, he’ll just change his position to match mine.

If he was a person, he’d get all bent out of shape.  He might think, or even say, “What?  Don’t you love me?  What’s going on?  You don’t want to snuggle?  Did I do something wrong?  Well, then, maybe I just won’t snuggle with you anymore.  Jerk.”  As a cat, he doesn’t take it personally.  He knows at some level that it’s not about him.

This last week I had to take Marlowe to the vet.  He’s about 12 years old and this is the first time I’ve taken him.  I give him his shots myself so there’s never been a need.  The last time he was at a vets office is probably when his previous owners took him to get fixed.  I took him in to get a cyst removed from his side.  You’d think he would be pretty pissed at me for that.

Nope, he didn’t take it personally.  He didn’t hold a grudge.  He was happy to be home and be able to snuggle and get his love.  Even if he did have to wear an embarrassing cone and weird sweater, he realized it wasn’t about him.  It just needed to be.

So take a lesson from Marlowe.

  • It’s not about you.  Others are wrapped up in themselves.  Any perceived snub is about how the other person feels, what they need.  Not about you.
  • A thing is what it is.  There is no need to read anything into events.  Like Marlowe’s cyst, sometimes a thing just needs to be and to be dealt with.  It has nothing to do with you.
  • Expect the best of others.  In general, there is usually a good reason for what is happening.  It’s not about you.

I look forward to sharing more Feline Life Lessons with you.  Live like a cat and see how your life improves!


Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty



Judging Things by Their Skin

Do you judge a building by it's skin?

Do you judge a building by it’s skin?

Recently I was listening to an interview about architecture.  One comment stuck with me.  “We judge a building by it’s skin.”  In other words, if a building is made of brick, we call it a brick building.  If it’s concrete, we call it a concrete building, a wood building and so on.  It doesn’t matter what’s inside, we always describe it by it’s appearance.  We are always judging things by their skin.

My sister recently painted the outside of her house.  Her neighbors told her that they were thrown off because for years they’ve been telling people to “turn at the pink house” and now their house if no longer pink.  Here in Edmonton we have a city hall with pyramids.  Unless you’re from here, you don’t know what’s inside – or rather under – those peaks so you would call it “the building with the pyramids on the roof.”

What we see on the outside is what we refer to.  It’s the easiest thing to see.  What is true for buildings is also true for people.

We tend to describe people by their appearance.  The blonde.  The tall one.  The one in orange.  The one with the beard.  The Asian.  We respond to what we see.

But, like buildings, that’s not really who we are.  And often our outsides don’t really match our insides.

I have the unfortunate genetics that cause my mouth to naturally turn downwards.  When I am wearing a neutral expression, I look angry no matter what my actual mood.  I have been told many times that I look mean.  I’ve been told that I was not the aloof, grouchy person that was expected once someone got to know me.  My boyfriend is always telling me that I look nasty when I’m concentrating.

I know this about my face so I make an effort to smile, even slightly, as much as possible. And I can’t do it 24/7 either.

I’m certainly not immune judging things by their skin.  I’ve met many people that I thought were one way from first impressions and discovered I was completely wrong.  Whether it’s the way they dress, how they speak, their face, their gender, their race – there are a lot of outer features we use as guides to make an initial judgement.

There’s no use in judging yourself as a bad person for using these visual cues.  It’s a normal, natural way that your subconscious uses to keep you safe.  The step to take now is to be aware of it.  Once aware of judgement, it’s much easier to look beyond it and determine if it’s correct.  Sometimes it is correct, sometimes it isn’t.

Years ago, I noticed that when I was driving past someone that “looked sketchy” because they were aboriginal or wearing biker gear or simply seemed shifty, I would lock my doors.  Once I noticed I was doing this, I became aware of it and was more willing to be less reactionary.  Yes, there are situations when it’s good to be cautious.  And, on the other hand, driving through Edmonton on a sunny afternoon is probably pretty safe.

It’s easy to judge that a young man with his pants down around the bottom half of his butt is a slacker.  It’s easy to judge that a woman in a short skirt is looking for sexual attention.  It’s easy to judge that someone in frumpy clothes doesn’t care about themselves.  It’s easy to judge that a 40 year old is more responsible than a 20 year old.  It’s easy to judge that someone overweight is unhealthy.  It’s easy to judge that someone dressed up or in really good shape is overly concerned about perception.

I’m sure you can come up with people or situations where all of these judgments have been proved wrong in your own life or by someone you know.

After becoming aware of our judgments, the next step is not to try to irradiate them.  That is impossible.  The next step is to test them.  How do you do that?  Simple.


It’s when we get to know someone that we find out if our initial impressions were true or not.  And, very often, they are not.

  • Acknowledge that it’s natural to judge things by their skin.
  • Notice when you do it.
  • Test your judgement by getting to know people or simply by asking questions.

It’s easy, and hard.  And so worth it.  We miss out on so much by making assumptions and not testing their truth or falsehood.  Take a step today and test out one of your judgments by getting to know someone a little better.  Just like a building, we are so much more than what’s on the surface.

The Three Instincts

The Three Instincts

The Three Instincts

August has been a month of inspiration for me.  I was in Edinburgh, Scotland with my man, sister and brother in law for the first part of the month.  In addition to castles, caverns and churches we went to shows at the largest Fringe in the world.  That’s a story in and of itself!  Then home for the second largest Fringe in the world.  At both Fringes I saw good, mediocre and poor shows.  Shows that inspired and shows that made me laugh.

For inspiration, one of the shows I saw here at home was Marathon written and performed by Fringe veteran, TJ Dawe.  TJ has been on a growth and discovery path over the past few years and these themes appear in his shows.  One of the topics he discussed in this show was the three instincts from the Enneagram personality system.

The Three Instincts are:

  • Self Preservation:  This is the instinct to be sure you are safe and taken care of.   This instinct features a great deal of independence and desire for comfort.  It is a gathering of energy.
  • Sexual:  Despite the name, this is not all about sex.  This instinct is about one on one connection and seeking new experiences.  It is a giving/releasing of energy.
  • Social:  This instinct leads to seeking the company of others.  It is a sharing of energy.

Everyone has all three instincts.  We all have one that’s our fallback, the one that makes us feel safest.

  • Self Preservation types are the ones who over pack for trips “just in case”.   They always have water and snacks with them.  Everything about their surroundings is about being sure that there are no surprises and they won’t have to ask for help.
  • Sexual types look for chances to take risks.  They often do things alone or with one other person.  They like to be stimulated and surprised.
  • Social: types love to be around groups.  They will make sure that they go out with lots of friends.  They look for ways to connect with many people at a time.  They feel best surrounded by others.

We also all have one that’s in balance.  It exists in us without running our life.

The third instinct will be our challenge.  It’s the one we have to make an effort to cultivate.  Not sure what it is?  Look at your life and if it’s the one you “brag” about when you do it, that’s your challenge spot.  Proud when you remember your water bottle?  Self Preservation is your challenge.  Pat yourself on the back when you do something new?  Sexual is hard for you.

For me, it’s Social.  When I’m in a social situation I can appear very comfortable as I’ve been working on it for years.  However, I always have anxiety and have to talk myself into going to anything in a group.  Especially if it’ll be mostly strangers.  Then, when I do get myself to go, I make a big deal out of it.  I’ll list it in my successes for the day.  I’ll pat myself on the back.  I may even tell someone else about how amazing I was because I talked to two new people!  Wowzers.

I thought for sometime as to which of the three instincts are my strong point.  Without doing a full analysis based on the Enneagram method, this is what I’ve concluded.

I switch back and forth between Self Preservation and Sexual depending on how I’m feeling about myself.

When I feel lost or unsure of myself, I’m all about Self Preservation.  All I want to do is stay safe.  I’ll worry about the future.  I’ll make sure I have as much safe padding around me as possible so I don’t feel out of control.  I get more introspective and withdraw.

When I’m feeling good about myself and my direction, I’m all about the Sexual instinct.   I put myself out there.  I take risks.  I speak boldly.  I’m creative and out of the box.    Self Preservation still exists (I tend to have water and snacks with me) but it’s more secondary, more in balance.

So, what does this all mean?  Well, to be completely honest, I’m not sure.  I found this concept very interesting and wanted to share it.  I think it’s important to be aware of how we function and what makes us tick, what runs us.  I look forward to learning more and getting more insights on how these manifest in my life.

This information has really helped me see my patterns.  Awareness allows us to be clear about what we need to go forward and what is holding us back.

Knowing that I struggle with the Social instinct (which is really not a surprise) helps me put more attention on building it up.

Knowing that I flip flop between Self Preservation and Sexual helps me be aware of when I’m in my passion and when I’m struggling with direction.  This awareness can help me seek solutions to the latter.

I’d be curious to hear what your thoughts are on the Three Instincts.  What are your strengths and challenges and how does it manifest in your life?

Have a PURRfect day!

Hugs, Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty




Princess Craze

princessOn the CBC show Head too Toe yesterday there were some parents talking about keeping their young girls from participating in the princess craze that seems to be running rampant.   The concern of these parents was to keep their daughters from thinking that this is the only way that you can be a girl.  Their solution was to ban it.

While I understand the desire to teach their girls that they don’t have to wait for Prince Charming to save them, that they are strong and capable of anything, I feel that their approach is misguided.  Banning one point of view does not help confirm another.

How is this any different from banning your boys from playing with dolls?  Or banning girls from playing in the dirt?   Or from telling your girl she’s pretty and your boy he’s smart?  Or from dressing your boys in blue and your girls in pink?  Or from telling them that girls are good at some things and boys another?

The key is not taking away one thing hoping they will gravitate to another, it’s about teaching them balance.

Playing princess is not inherently a bad thing – whether it’s your girl or your boy.  It’s one of many ways that children explore who they are and what is possible in their lives.  It doesn’t mean they’re going to want to “be a princess” when they grow up.  Unless, of course, they get the message that that’s the best option along with the dresses and shoes.

One story I loved in the show yesterday was the woman who was looking through a book on Princess Di with her daughter.  In that book she saw pictures of her in jeans and body armor and in various situations.  This was a moment to let her daughter know that being a princess isn’t all about pretty dresses and living in a castle.  It’s about helping people, about love and caring, about taking responsibility and being strong – just like everyone else in the world.

It feels to me that the need to blur the lines between gender has gone too far.  There is nothing wrong with being female or male or a little of both.

Another story I recently heard on CBC gave a little more hope.  It was about a young boy in Edmonton who started life as a girl.  He knew from a very young age that this just wasn’t right.  He confided in his little sister who then told their parents.  They talked to their daughter about her need to be treated as and eventually be a boy and realized that it was real.  Now this 13 year old is living as a boy.  He won’t be able to get his gender reassigned for some time, but in the meantime, he is treated as a he.  His friends accept him, his family accepts him, his school is behind him.

Gender is fluid and solid at the same time.  It’s important at a young age to be able to explore.  It’s important for parents not to freak if their children waver from what they think their gender means and simply let them be who they are in that moment.

When I was young I wanted to be a boy.  There were many reasons for this including that my parents divorced when I was young and as the oldest I felt I needed to be strong and, for me in the early 70′s, that meant being more boy-like.  I always wanted to be the dad when playing house.  I would put a ball in my pajamas to see what it would be like to be a boy.  I never felt I wanted to be a boy, just more like the boys.  It passed.  It took me a long time, though, to really accept that I could be as strong as I felt I was and needed to be as a woman.

The important thing is to teach our children – and accept ourselves – that anything is possible no matter what genitals are attached to our body.  Whether we are dressed as princesses or bikers.  Whether we decide to be nurses or rocket scientists.  Celebrate the individuality we are all born with.

I just got back from Edinburgh and while there, I checked out some shows at their giant Fringe Festival.  The show No Belles  was the one I enjoyed most.  It was 3 women telling stories about women, well known and less known, who excelled in science.  It was a well structured show that really touched my heart.  Despite all odds – no pay, sickness, lack of respect and more – these women went ahead and made a difference.

If your little girl is into princesses right now, it will pass.  Tell her stories, let her wear pretty dresses, let her watch the Disney movies and, at the same time, give her other options and tell her stories of women who made their own way and made a difference in the world.

Allow yourself and your children to express who they are, to look into options and ideas, to follow their dreams and just be.  Even the princess craze is OK.

Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty

Taming of the Shrew

Freewill Players presents Taming of the Shrew

Freewill Players presents Taming of the Shrew

I love Shakespeare.  He tells the most amazing stories that transcend time and space.  I have seen some of my favorites live or in movies several times.  I acted in Shakespeare in theatre school.  I’ve read a number of the plays and sonnets and have the necessary Shakespearean dictionaries for deeper understanding.

One of the shows I’ve never seen is Taming of the Shrew.  I have seen the musical adaptation Kiss Me Kate a few times and sung the song I Hate Men in performance or auditions many times.  But the Bard’s actual words, I had never seen performed in full.

When I found out our local company Freewill Players had decided to do Shrew for this year’s production, there was no doubt, I HAD to go.  I go to the Freewill shows pretty much every year.  They always do a stellar job of putting the plays in fun locations (not just Shakespeare garb) and giving them little twists with music or characterization.  The performers are supremely talented at making the language understandable to all and are always entertaining.

I went to Shrew last night.  I’m so happy I made sure to get there despite a busy week ahead (we leave for Scotland next Friday).  The show was probably one of the best I’ve seen this company do.  It was uproariously funny.  Every character was spot on and well rounded no matter how small.  And, despite having to be inside this year due to issues with the usual outdoor venue, it felt fresh and airy just like being outside.  Plus, they made fun of the change of venue.  It was truly one of the best times I’ve had in the theatre – and I’ve had many!

Before the show began, there was a panel discussion.  This is a difficult show to do, especially to a modern audience, because it’s seen as misogynistic and anti-feminist.

For those who may not know, the central story is about Kate – the shrew – who is not a pleasant person.  She’s downright mean to everyone, especially men.   She’s also very clever and willful.  Along comes Petruchio who is equally as headstrong and clever.  He decides to make her his wife and “tame” her.  Thus the name of the show.  At the end of the show Kate has an infamous monologue about how a wife should behave.  This speech is the source of most of the ire against this show.

It’s understandable.  She talks about how the man is the ruler over the woman.  How she must obey.  How women are weak.  Yikes!  Feminist sensibility (whether you call yourself one or not) starts to fire and get the hackles up.

What I loved about this production is how it showed that Kate and Petruchio do love each other.  They have both been hurt in life and have their guard up.  Kate, especially, has no one in her corner.  Everyone sees her as a nasty shrew unworthy of love and care, even her father.  Her sister hates her.  It’s no wonder she wants to keep everyone away from her heart.  Yet, these two kindred spirits, when they find each other and open their hearts, become very sweet and loving.

This is a difficult show to swallow and yet, when you look deeper, it’s actually very true to life.  Remove some of the offensive language, some of the old ideas and you see some very true mirrors of relationships.

  • There are two other couples in this story.  Lucentcio and Bianca (Kate’s sister) are attracted for superficial reasons.  Horstensio, being spurned by Bianca, takes the first woman to come along who shows an interest.  It is obvious that neither of these couples have a deep love.  How many times have you been in a relationship (or know someone who has) like either of these?   And how did they turn out?  Likely not well.
  • Hortensio’s wife fixed him with withering looks and rolling eyes when she didn’t get her way.  I have performed this behavior many times and have seen women do the same with their partners.  When we feel like we’re not being heard or feel like we need to assert ourselves, sometimes in comes out in this kind of behavior.  It doesn’t serve anyone.  It just makes us look petty.
  • In our modern world, men and women are supposed to be equal.  We really aren’t quite there, but that’s another discussion.  Due to that we women don’t want to appear weak.  We want to open our own doors.  We want to be as strong as a man.  Women are strong.  We are intelligent.  We are so many things.  However, come on, let’s admit it, we are not as physically strong as men (except for the rare few who really work at it).  Men love to feel needed.  Why can’t we just let them help?  It certainly doesn’t make us any less worthwhile.   If your man knows you can change a tire but you still ask for his help, it makes him feel good.  And that, in the end, is good for both of the people in a relationship.
  • The secret to a relationship is respecting each other.  It’s not about one being above the other.  It’s not about one being master and one being slave.  It’s not about one being strong and the other being weak.  It’s not about one being right and the other being wrong.  Why do we hold so hard to being right?  Ask yourself – would you rather be right or happy?  If it’s the latter, let go of the need to be in control and come to a place of peace with those you love.

Back to Kate’s speech.  At the end she says “And place your hands below your husband’s foot,In token of which duty, if he please,My hand is ready, may it do him ease.”
In the show, Kate bends down to the floor and puts her hand out as she looks up at Petruchio.  He has been such a loud and brash man throughout the show, it wouldn’t be a surprise for him to step on her hand.  Instead, he gets down on the floor, looking at her with soft love in his eyes and kisses her hand.

This was the most beautiful metaphor for a relationship I’ve seen.  When two people truly love and respect each other it’s not about ruler and ruled, controller and controlled.  It’s about equality.  Wherever one is, the other will be there too.  When one is down, the other will take the journey along with them and help them along the road to the light.  When one is euphoric, the other will celebrate with them.  No matter where the road leads, it is traveled together.

It’s worth an evening of laughs as well as a little enlightenment to check out the Taming of the Shrew whether you read it or go see this production or another.  Look deeper than the surface and, just like in a relationship, you may discover something profound.

Christie Mawer – The Bad Kitty