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Dear Santa,

Hi there. I know it’s been roughly twenty years since I last wrote, but I had a 24-hour bug yesterday and watched a lot of Christmas movies on TV, so I’ve been feeling sentimental.

First of all, I want to thank you for last year’s presents. The clothing steamer and eye cream have both given me a relatively wrinkle-free year. Also, thanks for convincing the movie theatres to have a $5 showing of White Christmas on the big screen this year. It made me feel a whole lot better about Christmas, which I’d been contemplating avoiding like all other holidays this year.

This year, my list is a little different. My priorities have changed a lot this year as “living” and “being able to afford the basics” have been the things I’ve focused on most. I’m not an actor anymore, so an audition wardrobe and lessons and visits to the hair salon and good teeth are no longer basic necessities. Nowadays, all I need are clothes that fit, food, basic toiletries, home hair dye, and enough money for rent, loan payments, a monthly metropass, and visits to my therapist and  support groups etc. Oh, and yoga. Lululemon’s free classes are great, but there’s just something about a studio . . .

I’m not asking for handouts though, Santa. All I want is a job that will pay me enough that I can cover these things myself. So if you hear of anything, please let me know.

This year, I’ve learned that I value two things above all others. These two things can give anyone everything they need to change their life and strive for something better. The first is hope. Without hope, there’s no point in trying for anything better. You can’t see a way out of the place you’re stuck in because you can’t find the light. Even a pinprick of light can make the darkest corners of the world seem a little less grim. I found mine sitting in a room of women who refuse to give up, led by another woman who shines light on everyone she meets. It has made all the difference. Please put a little hope in the stocking of everyone you visit this year.

The second thing I value is a gift I received and did my best to give many times this year. Words of kindness are the greatest gift I have ever encountered. They have a strange power, and if you gather enough of them together, they can chip away at the hatred and doubt that grew from strategically spoken words of cruelty. Those are far too easy to find nowadays, and can do more damage than anything else I’ve found. Please help me remember to choose my words carefully this year, and treat others with kindness, whether I think they deserve it or not. I suppose that includes being kind to myself, Santa, because I’ve been pretty cruel to me.

The other things I want in my life I’m not going to ask you for. Yes, it would be nice to have everything handed to me, wrapped up in shiny paper, but that wouldn’t teach me anything. There’s a sense of pride and accomplishment that comes from working your hardest for the things you want and finally achieving them. Learning that I’m strong enough and capable enough to take care of myself is a hard battle, and it means that I can’t have everything I want right now, but someday that strength will mean more than, say, a vintage Kelly bag.

Thanks for reading my letter, Santa. I know I haven’t been entirely well-behaved this year, but I’m hoping you’ll accept my attempts to change as passage to the “nice” list.

Please say hello to your wife for me. I met her two years ago on my birthday at Disneyland, and she was so lovely and kind that it made me cry. Take good care of yourself, and the elves, and the reindeer. I don’t have a chimney where I’m living now, but I know you’ll be able to get in somehow. There’s no stocking up, but there are a couple of pairs of boots near my tiny Christmas tree that should be decent substitutes. I actually have both milk and cookies in my house this year, so feel free to help yourself.

Merry Christmas, Santa.

Lots of love, Kelly

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Day 4 – I want adventure in the great wide somewhere . . .

Day 4:

“7 Wants”

Want: A Kelly Bag. Not Grace Kelly's life . . . and certainly not the man in the pic.

Wants and needs are scary things . . . they leave me feeling, well, wanting and needy. When I was trying to come up with ANY reason to commit to recovery, I wrote a list of things I wanted to be able to do (or have) that I couldn’t do (or have) while dating ED. While the list has changed (carbs, dairy and junk food are now a part of my meal plan, so therefore no longer wants . . . in fact, they’re DON’T wants a lot of the time . . . ) a lot of them are still worth mentioning.

1. A degree. In spite of spending 6 years in school, I only have a certificate and a diploma, no degree. Because my diploma is in Musical Theatre, it’s really good for nothing else. I always valued earning a degree, but a) it wasn’t necessary for a career in performance and b) there were no degree programs in musical theatre in Canada when I was in school. Having a degree leads directly into . . .

2. A career that makes a difference. I always valued that. The reason I got into theatre was because, as a child, theatre was a manner of escape for me, and I wanted to be a part of showing kids like me what a happy ending could look like. I still want to do something along those lines, just not in the theatre. I think mostly I want to be an activist, and not only show people that a better life is possible, but to help create a better future.

3. I want to own property. I thought I loved the gypsy life that goes along with a life in musical theatre, but I’m learning how much I value stability. I want to have my own place to come home to every night, where I feel safe and have some security. And it would be nice not to have to pay rent forever . . . I’ll take a mortgage over rent any day.

My childhood dog, Walter the Wheaten

4. A dog. I really want a dog. I loved having a dog, and they always make me feel better, even just while walking down the street. I want a rescue dog . . . we can make each others’ lives better. In order to have a dog, I’m gonna need at least a career and a house, because I’ll need money and somewhere I haven’t had to pay a security deposit . . .

5. I want to travel. Again, a career and money would come in handy for this one. Mostly, I need to be relaxed enough in my food etc. rituals to actually go places and eat in restaurants, in front of people, etc . . . It’ll happen someday.

6. I want better relationships all around. Because I’ve had to hide for so long, and lived in fear of abandonment, I’ve always kept people at arm’s length, and my inability to express my true emotions makes all my interactions pretty surface level. Once I don’t have my eating disorder symptoms to protect me and keep me numbed out, I hope all my relationships will improve.

7. I feel like the last one should be fun and frivolous. I want to win the lottery! If I won the lottery, I could pay my parents back for treatment, have unlimited sessions with the best therapist ever (mine), do yoga as often as I’m medically cleared to, buy property, pay tuition, travel, afford a dog, start an eating disorder charity, and afford to buy a new wardrobe every time I go up a size in this fucked up process . . . and I would buy a Kelly bag. I think I’ve mentioned before how much I need a Kelly bag.

Hey. You. What do YOU want?

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Day 2 – All You Need Is Love

Day 2 of the 10 day challenge is

“9 Loves”

So here goes.

1. Family and friends. Duh. Pretty sure you’re an asshole if you don’t include this.

2. Music. For so many years, the only way I could express myself was through song. It was always safer to say how I felt using someone else’s words, made more beautiful by the music. A good song can make you feel things you didn’t know you had inside you, and can allow you to breathe when you didn’t know you’d been holding your breath.

3. Nature. Trees, birds, flowers, the sky, butterflies . . . all things that make the world more beautiful and remind you that, even when everything looks dark in your life, there is light and freedom available to you, if you open your eyes.

4. Judy Garland. We covered this last post, but that woman never fucking gave up, and lived to make the world a better place through her art. You gotta love that kind of determination and, well, love.

5. Tea. I was a coffee girl for a lot of years, and it was a big part of my eating disorder. This summer, I discovered David’s Tea. They have the greatest collection of loose leaf teas in every variety: white, green, black, oolong, pu’erh, mate, rooibos, and herbal, and about a million flavors to choose from. My favorites are Forever Nuts and Mom’s Apple Pie. They help me get in my water content for the day (still a battle), and taste like a big hug.

6. Books. I’m a big nerd. I always have at least one book on the go (I think I have 4 right now), and love to escape into a good story. I also love auto/biographies . . . You can learn a lot from real people. Some of my favorite books are: The Wizard of Oz series (I have 10 of the originals, including a couple 2nd editions. My dream is to own a first edition of The Wizard of Oz), The Red Tent by Anita Diamant,  Dancer by Colum McCann and The Poisonwood Bible by Barbara Kingsolver. Auto- and biographies: Get Happy about Judy Garland, Alan Alda’s books, and old Hollywood autobiographies, because they use old-timey language (Kate Hepburn, Fred Astaire, etc.) Oh! I also really like The Hunger Games trilogy.

7. Keeping on the über nerd theme, I fucking love learning. I was born curious: my dad tells the story of how, when I was born, the doctor lifted me up and I was already straining against his hands to turn my head and look around me. Nowadays, I’m still fascinated about everything. If I learn a little bit about something, I want to know everything about it. I like learning to craft to: just learned how to knit, so I can make Christmas presents for everyone . . . I overestimated myself, though, and all my friends and family might have to share one scarf . . . Also, once I learn how to do something and have mastered it, I never want to do it again, because the fun of learning how to do it is gone. Oh well. At least this nerdiness will come in handy, since I will have to go back to school if I want a good career . . .

8. All things vintage. I firmly believe I was meant to live sometime between 1920 and 1950. I love the fashion, I love the artwork, the music, the movies, old pictures, old people . . . Another dream is to own a vintage Kelly bag. Come on. It’s got my name! I have to have one!

9. Finally, even though I retired from it, I still love musical theatre and performing. Basically, it makes me believe in a happily ever after. It’s like G.K. Chesterton says about fairy tales:

“Fairy tales are more than true: not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us that dragons can be beaten.”

Thanks for caring enough to read . . . anyone willing to post a love or two? No takers so far on the secrets . . . hmmm.

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