When experiencing heartbreak you literally feel like a part of you is dying, and in some ways it is. Maybe it’s the part of you that no longer wants to put up with being treated like crap any more, or maybe it’s the dying of old patterns you keep repeating over and over. Soon time heals wounds but in the process you take it day by day and try your best to love yourself.
You would think loving yourself would be easy, but in all my years of experience it’s the one relationship that has taken the most work and truthfully, nobody can treat me like crap as much as I can. As we walk along this journey called “life” what tools and techniques can we use to make the intensity of this love relationship with ourselves, and others, more bearable?
I used journalling and art as a form of introspection during times when I wanted to give up. When I hate the world, the people in it and the decisions I was making in the process. For my guest today, renowned pop rock punk singer Bif Naked, she decided to write an anthem. The anthem titled, “I love myself today” and it has empowered thousands of people to find a kick in their step when all seemed lost in the world of love.
When I was 23 years old I accepted my second contract to teach English in Korea. This time I was not travelling with friends, but I felt confident because I already had one year under my belt and was two years more mature.
I was ready to leave my province because of the lack of work and the responsibility of student loans looming over my finances.
Before I left I had a not so great encounter with this guy who was a friend of a friend. He asked me to take some photos of his acting company and then didn’t pay me when I completed the job. I was not very impressed and truthfully did not care if I ever laid eyes on him again. The way the Universe likes to play tricks on me, it had another plan up its sleeve.
Arriving in Korea my new boss took me to his office to introduce me to the only other foreign teacher. You will never guess who it was? Of all the teachers around the world, it was that same guy.
It was incredibly awkward at first but he won me over with his humour and I decided to give him a second chance. We started dating and everything was going great, so I thought.
One day I picked up on a weird vibe between him and our mutual friend and co-worker. As I was hanging out with her one day I tricked her into telling me that they too were in an intimate relationship. When I confronted him about it his response was, “You know how it is for us foreigners Cara, it’s casual, but for them (the Koreans) it’s not. You should know this.”
So wait a minute, it’s okay to sleep with me and toss me to the side because I am a Western woman and I should ‘get it.’ What the hell!!?
Shocked by this statement I screamed, “I get that you are a total asshole!”
The worst part about that situation was that they continued to date and their desks were right next to me in our office. It was the worst.
It took me a really long time to get over that situation. (Geez! I really use to be a bit of a “jerk” magnet) I cried a lot, blamed myself a lot, and questioned myself A LOT. That was when I made the kick ass playlist of empowerment. I would go for long walks and hear the words of these songs like they were the only truth keeping me alive.
The songs from Canadian rock star, Bif Naked, were some of my favourites. The hard rock sound with words that spoke to my experience were my saving grace. I played them on repeat and reminded myself that in “My moments of weakness” I need to learn to “Love myself today” and to put on my “Tango shoes that help me dance without you.” They became the anthems of empowerment that reminded me of my self-love.
Bif Naked is an International Recording Artist, Poet, Writer, Motivational Speaker, breast cancer survivor and a kick ass person.
She has travelled the globe with her killer rock tunes and is a legend and icon to all those who know her art.
I sat down with Bif and asked her some questions about what was happening in her life at the time she wrote these iconic tunes. Here is our interview.
Me: Bif I want to start by telling you a little story. It’s about a young girl, 23 years old, walking down the streets of Korea with her heart broken listening to your songs on repeat because it gave her the most amazing, powerful feeling of overcoming this adversity. That girl was me Bif, that girl was me..haha.
Bif Naked: Oh that makes me so happy!
Me: You were really part of the soundtrack of my life. Your music gave me so much inspiration to tell my story, so I want to thank you and start off the interview by telling you how much your art has meant to me.
Bif Naked: That is incredible and I feel honoured that I was a part of your journey.
Me: How does it feels to know that you’ve moved so many people to find self-empowerment with your music.
Bif Naked: Honestly I can’t even imagine because half the time I was singing, I Love Myself Today, basically that was a mantra that I didn’t believe. Whenever I would be faced with a situation, such as, I had a thing for very abusive relationships. We pattern repeat, so I was on ten guys in a row who were not very nice and I would always just say that in my head and basically convince myself that if I couldn’t leave a relationship for me, I would do it for my dogs (because I had two fluffy dogs at the time), and I always could. Then one day I said that eventually I was going to love myself enough that I will really transcend any adversity, or stress, or abuse I was in and it became a single. I can’t even believe it.
Me: The words and the passionate way you sing it remind yourself that sometimes it’s really hard to love yourself, in particular situations, especially if you are in abusive relationships.
Bif Naked: Oh sure, if you are dis-empowered and belittled long enough it’s going to be very difficult to transcend that.
Me: I think a lot of people listen to that song, and your song Tango Shoes, and say, “You know what, I’m still going to put on my shoes and keep going!” You’ve overcome a lot of different adversities, especially in the last ten years being a survivor of breast cancer.
Bif Naked: So far so good. I’m still on medication and I’ve had my ovaries removed so menopause has been interesting. Physiologically it has been extremely educational, I am a science geek, but more than anything, once again, I just don’t feel like anyone is really talking about it. Well I have a big mouth so I am talking about it.
So all of my fans who grew up with me, we are all the same age, we are all in our 40’s and I just think that it sucks for a lot of people because they don’t self-identify as being in their middle age so I want to encourage people, women in particular, to feel as silly and fun as they did in their twenties.
Me: Do you find being in the music industry keeps you young?
Bif Naked: Yes and no because for a couple years, after chemotherapy specifically, I was tired, just exhausted. I didn’t want to tour anymore or make records. I got asked to do an acoustic record, which I did, so I toured acoustically and that felt really natural to me, it felt appropriate. Somehow I just couldn’t bring myself to do a rock show, it felt contrived and not a good fit for me anymore. Then this year we started doing rock shows and I was like, “Nope, it definitely fits and it feels really good!” I feel like I am having a bit of a renaissance in a way and I love it!
Me: I don’t think people realize how much energy it takes to be in the music industry.
Bif Naked: I was anorexic for fifteen years. Anorexia and bulimia doesn’t always mean you are puking and pooping all the time, it’s your behavior basically. I think I fasted for ten years, living on popcorn for three years, and the different things you do that you might not realize are unhealthy, they are just a means to an end. As a vegan traveling on tour I was too busy to eat so I would have an apple for the whole day and eventually that snowballed into years. I think it may have contributed to a lot of health issues that I had and I can look at that and think, “Yep, that’s the music business. It really is!”
It’s making videos, it’s being a female and things being expected of you, people are always looking at you. Thank God there was no social media! I can’t imagine if it would have been better or worse, just for me psychologically, I don’t know. I like to fly under the radar. I am a bit of a neutral person and I don’t seem to attract too many crazies, which I am grateful for.
Me: That’s interesting because that was one of the questions I wanted to ask you. You seem to make yourself fairly available to your fans, which I think is pretty cool because you engage them. When I watch your Twitter account I notice that you are really paying attention to what they are saying and I think there is something really beautiful about that!
Bif Naked: Ahh, thank you so much!
Me: When you give access to yourself like that, where do you find your boundaries?
Bif Naked: You never know when someone is going to be not cool until they are. That has been a theme in my life. I have had a stalker before who took me to court for charging him with stalking. We have had all those stories. With 25 years in the business we still get a couple of nutters that are on the radar. You can charge them with criminal harassment but it is pretty hard to get that done in Canada and even more difficult if it your ex-spouse or something. Women can’t seem to get peace bonds very easily and when you get one it still doesn’t really prevent someone from coming after you. That has been a great education for me in the justice system here, it’s been very interesting. I just think that every lesson learned leads us to something else. For me I apply my knowledge to my advocacy work and help people that way.
Me: I heard on the radio that you are launching a book, Easter 2016!
Bif Naked: I wrote an autobiography for Harper Colins and that was a really labour intensive thing for me to do because I don’t sit still very often. To sit down and write was the hardest part of it. Being able to recall it was not hard but being able to find the words to describe it was difficult. I am a super flowery describer and it was a little bit long in the tooth but it will be interesting to see how it all comes together. Essentially it is a collection of short stories.
Me: My last questions I have for you is, from your lived experience, what advice do you have for youth learning to live authentically and what does that mean to you?
Bif Naked: It’s really hard to live authentically because basically the number one fear people have, youth especially, is that they are going to be judged. I learned very young that it didn’t matter what I did people were going to talk about me and treat me a certain way no matter what I do, so I might as well do what I know and what I want in life. For me it’s a very square way to live, it’s not very racy. I had to find peace with that really young. Twitter is a really great example. Basically you are putting out thoughts into the universe and I think it can be a really good tool for self-healing, expression, identity, realization. You start to lose your fear of being judged eventually and you start to find out what your truth is and who you want to be. The authentic person that you want to be on the internet.