Hi, I'm Karen but I'm better known around the web as Sassymonkey. Most days you can find me on Twitter and at BlogHer.com where I am a Community Moderator. Find out more.

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I've been thinking a lot about walls lately. In particular, the walls I construct. I'm damned good at putting up walls.

You see, deep down I don't believe you don't like me. I believe you are just pretending to be my friend and waiting for me to believe it so you can turn around and use it to hurt me. That if I talk to you, you'll be nice to my face but not behind my back. That you are using me for something in a way I do not yet understand, but I know in the end you are going to hurt me.

It seems junior high never really does leave us.

Sometimes, when I try really hard, I can forget about my walls. I forget to build news ones or maintain the ones I have and so they crumble. My defences can lie dormant for months at a time. Sometimes years. But then something will happen to trigger them and they get built stronger than before. Sometimes I add in extra defences, like moats and barbed wire. When I get to this point, reaching me is like attempting to complete the 12 labours of Hercules. I don't make it easy for anyone to get close and when you do get there, I will try to push you away.

Sometimes, when my walls are down, I will call you. I will set up dates. I will put myself out there, allow myself to be vulnerable, and accept things are mostly good. But then something happens and I take a step back. I start my retreat. I will decide not email, tweet, or text you until you do so to me. I test your loyalties without telling you.

Because, like Deborah, I forget to remember to to forget. I want to be important enough to be remembered. I want you to remember and when you don't I curl up into a corner behind my walls. Every single slight -- real or imagined -- becomes magnified.

What I so often forget when I'm in this place is we've all got walls. Your walls may not look the same as mine, you may not build them for the same reasons, but deep down I know they are there. It's just so hard to hear the voice telling me that truth when the other voices are so much louder. When I'm good, I remember this. But when I'm so far from being my best it's near impossible for me to make myself vulnerable in front of you.

I am not an easy person. I never walk the easy road because I believe easy is a lie. I am not bubbly and friendly. I am guarded and I will try to push you away so you cannot hurt me. I assume you don't like me before I ever open my mouth to introduce myself. I am my own self-fulfilling prophecy.

The truth of my truths is I put up walls to protect myself but they end up hurting me more than you ever could.


Sometimes the Voices Win 

As we returned from BlogHer '12 in New York City, we pulled off the highway into our community and we were greated with a rainbow. 

Aw!  A rainbow to welcome us home. Ottawa you're the bestest.

I had forgotten about it. It was just a photo among the hundreds of photos I've taken in the past two years. Then as we pulled off the highway last night, on our way home from BlogHer' 14, we were greeted by one of the most brilliant coloured rainbows I've seen in a long time. A feeling of deju vu washed over me.

Mother Nature's welcome home present. #rainbow

I had a rough weekend. Flying gave me wicked vertigo and then I had horrible jet lag the entire trip and did not sleep. (I also had a totally unexpected asthma attack at the closing party. I am awesome.) Add in a quadruple dose of insecurity and you had one Karen with an inability to ignore the voices in her head telling her that she did not belong. That she shouldn't be there. That no one wanted her there and she was in the way. That her otherness was a waste of space and that she just simply was not enough and never would be. I was in rooms filled with the most awesome women and I was completely and totally alone.

I was a hot mess.

I still am.

Yesterday's rainbow reminded me of the first one and left me wondering how I got to this space where the voices are winning. Where, if I'm being honest, they have been winning for months.

In a different life and time, this is when I would run away. I'd move. Quit my job. Attempt to recreate myself. But I can't keep running. The voices always catch up sooner or later.

I know the voices lie. I know, deep down, I am enough. But at this moment the voices telling me I am not are louder and stronger than the small part of me who still believes.

The voices won. I am still alone and stumbling about in this dark maze. I know that somewhere down here I will find Ariadne's string and begin to lead myself out of the labyrinth. Because the voices cannot continue to be scream my unworthiness at me. 

I cannot permit it. 


Friday Links July 18

July has felt... hard. It's been full of deep thoughts, hard questions, and scary things. These things come in cycles. I know this. I've been feeling quiet and contemplative. I've been disconnecting a bit more, both in good ways and in bad. Some of these links will make you think. Some will make you dream. Hopefully none of them will make you want to disconnect. 

Friday Links July 18 - Sassymonkey.ca




Friday Links July 4

I am so happy it's Friday. Wait, it is Friday right? Canada Day fell on a Tuesday and I took it off and I've been confused as heck about what day it is all week. Tuesdays off work are really confusing. 

Friday Links: July 4

  • Working out isn't enough: Advice for Desk Workers I've been trying to take short breaks to walk around more often but it's surprisingly difficult. Granted I've also been exceptionally lazy this week about exercising (well, minus that 5k on Canada Day) because I've been all the tired. 
  • What to bring to a Vacation Rental Kitchen  I've been very tempted to bring a chef's knife but I'm always worried about forgetting it. Plus it's vacation. We make do with what's provided. Because we drive, we do totally bring a box filled with things like olive oil, balsamic vinegar, pasta, rice, our favourite spices/spice blends, etc. We have a stockpile of these things. It doesn't make sense to spend a lot of money buying small sizes when we get to our location. Last year we also brought homemade pancake mix and granola. Oh! I should make granola this weekend. 
  • How to Make 10% Better Decisions I think I like this. I think I like this a lot. I think many of us tend to think we have to make big changes and we need to do them NOW. But small change is good. Small incremental changes can have big results. What if instead of focusing on how I don't eat enough servings of fruit every day, I focus for having a piece with breakfast? That's 10% better than I've been doing. That do to list that never gets finished? What if I focus on just getting one more item crossed off? 10% improvement is much, much better than not doing anything at all becasue it seems like too much or too hard. 
  • Stop Explaining, Justifying -- Live Free Own your priorities. Not apologizing doesn't mean you are being an ass about things. (Well, unless you are. But I bet you are not.) Be you. Set your priorities. Own them. No apologies. 
  • Why Working Harder Doesn't Always Work We need downtime. We need to recharge. Ever notice that when you really need a break and you push through to finish that item on your to do list, it takes you twice as long than if you had taken the break and then finished the task? 
  • Trust Your Training Yes. Just yes. 
  • What Keeps You Up At Night?  Do you have "bedtime procrastination"? Sometimes I do but I really love sleep. And my bed. And my pillow. Though we don't have a set time we like to go to bed. Maybe we should? 
  • 20 Things I've Learned About Being a Grown Up Maturity is measured by how well you handle all the shit life has to throw at you. *nods*



Where Was I 10 Years Ago? At the Beginning of the Next

Where Was I 10 Years Ago? At the Beginning of the Next

When I pulled out my summer clothes a few weeks ago, I found myself lingering over a black and white striped halter dress. I realized it was ten years old. I had splurged on it and worn it for my 25th birthday, which was by far one of my least awesome birthdays but at least I had an awesome dress. I can still wear that dress, and do, but it's interesting to me how far that dress has travelled with me and how I both am and am not the same person who wore it a decade ago.

Ten years ago I was kind of lost. I was living in Montreal and struggling financially. I was lucky to have a job and it was a decent first "real" job. It paid about as much as you would expect a first job to pay, which is to say not enough to make student loan payments, pay rent, and eat. But they liked me and liked my work. They weren't the most ideal employers. It was a small company and they had a habit of forgetting we needed to be paid every two weeks (yes! every two weeks! always!) because they were not paid every two weeks. We went through cycles where we were insanely busy and worked long, long hours. It was good and not good, as many jobs are, but there wasn't much a future in what I was doing. If I was lucky, I could ride it out for two or three more years at the most, but that didn't seem like a very good option.

It wasn't just the job that was making me feel unsettled. I was increasingly feeling like I didn't have much of future where I was. Full stop. I didn't have many job prospects. I was friendly with my coworkers but they weren't really people I would hang around with often outside of work. Many of my friends had left the city when they finished university. My boyfriend and I and recently split. I had a nice roommate (a rarity!) but she was still a student and I was not. I didn't want to live a student lifestyle anymore. I felt stuck. Stagnant.

The money stress was piling up on me. I was attempting to make payments on four different student loans, all of which I was thankful for but it was frustrating and emotionally draining to negotiate payments and payment relief programs with four different entities. I really needed to make more money. Not a lot but enough to pay for the loans and rent and food.

I was quietly starting to explore options. In the fall of 2004 I took a couple of evening classes. I started my first blog. When the time for voluntary layoffs came around at my job, early in 2005, I informed them I wanted one. I used that course, my zomg all the overtime hours bonus, and moved myself to a new city and a new career. I thought. I worked. I made a new beginning.

Ten years ago I was at the beginning of the next. The next what? The next everything. The next city. The next job. The next life. The next.