Posted in Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Artisists, bloggers, Blogging, Book Reviews, Breathe In Breathe Out, Breathe In Breathe Out Move On, Buddhist Writers, Canadian Writers, Entertaining, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Food and Wine, Girl Stuff, Happiness, Happiness Project, Healthy Living, ideas, insight, Inspiration, Life, New Feminism, Seasons, Self-Care, Summer, The New Feminism, Uncategorized

Sweet Summertime

Summer solstice is almost upon us. You know, the phase of this trip around that sun that marks the true onset of summer.

We’ve all seen the social media posts with funky patio lights and carefree al fresco dining; vintage glassware, impossibly perfect outdoor furniture (that would wither with one rainfall), and no mosquitoes.

This side of 40, we all know that it’s never that perfect. But it can come pretty damn close.  The secret to enjoying summer, or anything else at this stage of the game, is a certain dude-ish je ne sais quoi.  A few flowy, funky, retro tops to hide a multitude of middle aged sins, and plenty of liquids.

The idea of cottaging, camping and celebrating everything that can be celebrated is a great idea, but the reality can be a little tiny bit exhausting.

So I’ve created a little backyard oasis which includes a couple of sets of dated christmas lights which are now trendily referred to as ‘fairie lights’, a water feature from my partner’s ex’s house, and a load of carefree climbing vines.  I added a few palms just to remind myself that when winter arrives, so do the snowbird deals to the Caribbean.

Creating your own, personal oasis leaves plenty of time (no snakey fifty kilometre traffic nightmare into the muskokas or Haliburton Highlands) to tear off your work-a-day clothes, throw on something loose, pour an icy cold gin and tonic and turn up the Jimmy Buffett in the backyard (before and after work, although you might want to substitute coffee before work).

In order to make summertime a little bit more summery and a lot less hectic may I recommend a few of my mid-life-mid-summer-secrets?

  1. The muu-muu. Call it a caftan, or whatever you like, but it’s a lifesaver. No bra. No panties. No public entertaining in this either, but you will feel somewhat goddess like with a generous heap of nonchalant I-could-give-a-craplessness.  Mrs. Roper to the rescue.

2. An easy cocktail. I recommend a simple gin and tonic. Either Tanqueray with Lime, or Hendricks with cucumber. Either works. Poured over ice, it’s simple and refreshing.

gt

3. Non-alcoholic beverages. Let’s face it, middle-age and empty nesting lets us fall into a relaxed way of being that does not always require assistance. A simple pitcher of pink lemonade in the refrigerator or a sumptuous hot tea can do the trick. My favourites include T by Daniel’s Night in Rio, or Tazo Wild Sweet Orange.

yellowtea

4.  A damn good book that you can sink your teeth into. This could be a post unto itself, but I’m going to stick with just one book for now. If you are a mid-lifer, empty-nester, or a woman who feels like change is on the horizone, I highly recommend, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Reading this will make you 100% confident wearing your muu-muu. I promise. No gin required.

women who run with the wolves

5. Fire. Yes, that’s right you need some fire. It’s primal, it’s hypnotising, and it can bring you back to yourself after a long day at work. If you have the space, try a firepit, maybe a chimenea, and for smaller spaces, try a little fire-pot.

chimenea

6. Soundscaping. A water feature can add that lovely trickling sound that makes you think that you’re somewhere other than your urban cage. If there’s no room for that, or no budget, try some of the 1990’s Dan Gibson Solitudes tracks cranked up to drown out the neighbour’s nattering,

Celebrating the sunshine is quintessential to summertime, and creating your own oasis optimizes all of that joyous vitality that the season brings. Wishing you the relaxed kind of muu-muu, gin-drinking, pink lemonade, feminist-reading kind of summer you deserve.

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Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Health, Healthy Living, Men's Health, Mental Health, Professional Women, Sexual Health, Uncategorized, Wellness, women, Women's Issues, Women's Issues, Working Women

Sleepless Beauty

sleeping ladyWhat keeps a gal busy enough to stay away from her favourite venting place?

Summer – of course!

….and a complete lack of quality sleep.

I’ve been poked, prodded, and misdiagnosed, but what good quality of life depends on for me (and likely you too) is a good sleep.

Having moved in with the love of my life less than a year ago, my dream-domain has been adjusted to his majesties pleasures. Don’t worry friends, I’m not going to tell you about his sexual preferences, I’m totally focused on what he needs to sleep. Apparently it’s piles of clothes laid out like a landmine on the floor, lots of light, and enough silence so that when he snores, the entire universe shakes. And me. Yes, he loves to snuggle right up to me.

Oh, lucky ducky.

So when I brought home news of my new sleep plan, facilitated by a young physician who had recently attended a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) sleep credit class; you want to make your bedroom a place you can’t wait to go, be sure it’s dark, no television, no phones –  my bedroom-bestie responded with; “Pft! She’s wrong. You sleep just fine.”

Ah…no. You sleep just fine.

insomnia

You know what I’m talking about ladies. After you do the drudge-work of housekeeping until the moment you’re ready to drop from exhaustion, Mr. Snorey-McSnorerson keeps you awake so you wander around the house until exhaustion makes you drop on the spot at about 2:30am or, when you’re blissfully asleep and Casanova keeps poking you with his love-baton.

The only reason you should wake me up when I’m sleeping is if my life is in danger, or you can romance me without much participation from me. Either get on with it or put your pistol away. From now on I”m bringing a lawnmower and a stick to bed. The lawnmower to counteract the snoring, and the stick to poke him with all night long when I’m feeling amorous.

Ladies and gents, if you, like myself, are suffering from severe sleep deprivation, do make some changes. I hope that your partner (if you have one) is more empathetic to creating a mutually comfortable space to rest than mine is.

The suggestions I was given are these;

Create a space where you love to go, instead of dreading spending hours in bed worried about not sleeping.

No goal-oriented tasks for an hour before bedtime.

Make the room dark.

Turn of all electronics or better yet, remove them from the room – esepcially the little lights that shine brightly one them.

Get a white noise machine.

Turn the light off on your alarm clock.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you sweet dreams. xo

Posted in Advice for Women, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Friendship, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Mindful Living, Professional Women, Simple Living, The Art of Living, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, Wellness, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

On Fat, Friendship & Flipping the Bird

laughing on the insideThe other day a friend of mine said something friends are not supposed to say;

“You know that picture you posted of yourself? You looked horrid, and fat and old.”

Thanks.

Like I didn’t already feel that way underneath the smile we’re all supposed to wear every day.  I mean really, who the hell thinks that’s ever ok to say? It’s not. It’s mean, and it lacks basic goodness.

“Let’s go for a walk, and do you have time to pop into the store with me.” Now there’s a healthy response to a friend who is stressed to the point her body is showing it.

I want to lay in bed and cover up my head and cry today….all day. But instead, I will put on my suit (that’s way too tight now), and head in to the office to compassionately take on the world’s grief. And therein lies the problem, doesn’t it ladies? It’s the expectation that we will care for everything and everyone, and whatever shitty chores no one else wants to do.

Here’s a newsflash; each day only has 24 hours in it, even for women.

dream bigLately, despite being fatter than ever, and pinched for time, I’ve been really satisfied with my accomplishments. My resolution this year was to complete a course that could actually help me achieve some financial freedom. And I did it!  I did it while working full-time, managing a relationship, keeping house, and moving my son back from his first year in university. I was feeling pretty happy with myself….and then someone felt the need to let me know I was ugly, another to remind me that I don’t make enough money, and perhaps I don’t look after every-single-fucking-person-animal-and-thing-in-my-life to their liking.

With friends like this, really, who needs enemies ladies?

So it’s on these days when we don’t want to face the world, when the self-esteem that we usually have without thinking about it makes a ragged and surrendered appearance, that we need to dig deep and look at what is important to us, not someone out there marking us like a french judge at a figure skating competition.

So today, after I’m finished with a good cry and a have plastered on my professional face, you can count on my doing two things; giving those negative assholes the finger and getting on with the things in my life that make me happy.

Posted in Life, Life Lessons, Meaning of Life, Toronto Life, Toronto Star, Toronto Strong, Uncategorized

Toronto Strong – Take to Your Porch

tostrongI firmly believe that change starts at home. Grassroots caring is the most nasty guerrilla warfare of our time.

I woke up to a wall of ‘Toronto Strong’ on social media, but when I looked out my window, there was not a soul on the street. Not a neighbour to be found.

Laundry and dishes and meal planning suddenly took a backseat to the CBC News Network’s coverage of the mass murder that played out yesterday on a stretch of a nearby Toronto street.  Colleagues of mine watched people being mowed down on the sidewalk just outside of their office, and the rest of us watched as the scene replayed over and over on screens all afternoon.

Was it a terrorist? Was it an “involuntary celibate’ (misogynist)? How can we fortify our city against these attacks? These were the predominant questions posed by the media. But these questions merely poke at the symptoms asking for band-aid answers. They don’t come anywhere near getting at the cause of the misery that is murdering our world.

Stay Strong. That’s the overwhelming populace message choking the city today.

Let me offer another perspective; stay vulnerable. Allow your grief and fear and anger an outlet. Let your community of friends embrace you as you grieve and heal.

In a world that has become lost to the miracle of humanity, one that values material success over kindness, community, and the health of our spirit, staying strong may give a message of toughness that we just don’t need.

I concede that if it were my child or loved one callously killed, I would have a rage and hate with limitless depths. It would take a fountain of caring friends to help heal that massive dark hole in my life. We need one another, not just during times of tragedy, but every day.

Our communities have disappeared into subdivisions and condos with closed doors with invisible neighbours. We are too busy fighting a modern-day-material-survival-of-the-fittest to put the kettle on and hang out on our front porches. This is the root of the problem. We are insular and inward looking.

Reaching out and getting to know your neighbours is the first step to staying strong…as a community.

 

Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joy, Joyful Living, Living, Middle Age, Mindful Living, Parenting, Simple Living, Single Parenting, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Enthusiasm is Sexy

all hereThe older you get, the faster it goes; The only truth that my mother ever spoke.

We are at the end of the first quarter of 2018. Where the hell does the time go, and how on earth did I actually get this old?  The way I carried on as a teenager and twenty-something, it’s a small miracle that I survived at all. But here I am, a forty-something empty-nester.

One of my high school pals posted a little something on social media about the no-man’s land of being forty-something. If you’ve done it all correctly, you have some regrets about being a bit of a selfish jerk (before you knew better), and no regrets when it comes to sampling the libertarian things in life.

Forty is when you begin to realize that your contemporaries, like yourself, are tired. We’re tired of our career and the joy we once found in our hobbies has taken a back seat to responsibility. On top of all of that, our bodies are a little more…casual, our libidos are rarely in line with our opportunities, and our enthusiasm is pretty much non-existent. There are few things we haven’t experienced. We’re like teenagers – we  know it all.

We lack enthusiasm.

So, we’re a quarter gone in 2018. The new year is no longer new. Are you enthusiastic about anything my darlings?

While I was trying to figure out what the hell was missing after my awesome kiddo left the nest, I realized after a couple of months that it was my enthusiasm. There wasnt’ anything that I allowed myself to get excited about.

So I rediscovered a few of the hobbies I had let slide. And I got enthusiastic about getting better at them.

What I learned is that there is nothing more sexy than enthusiasm. And that my darling middle-aged friends, is golden.

Posted in Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, Spirituality, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

The Spiritual Satisfaction of Slowing Down

sleeping kittyI think I’ll listen to my body more often when it tells me to linger a while  longer upon waking up on my days off.

This morning I woke up before my alarm and fully ready to start my day, I decided to ditch my spa appointment. Yah, that’s right, you heard it. I lingered in the comfort of my big, cloud-bed and directed my mind to just how freaking wonderful life is (that’s always how I start my mornings – with a gratitude meditation, while still snuggled under my fluffy, soft, duvet), and you all thought that I was just sleeping in!

I just couldn’t justify the 407 tolls, and the premium price to have the hair around my lady-altar torn out, and most of all, the loss of my precious, precious time.

Because of my desire to linger under my cozy covers a bit longer this morning, I finally found a decent spa where they do the same quality waxing, in a better atmosphere  for a little less of my hard-earned moolah, and only 10 minutes from home.

 

Which makes me wonder…just how much do we create our own obstacles?

Sometimes our desire to slow down forces positive change. Slowing down allows us to be still and life becomes just a little bit more manageable. All of the things we think we have to do are just really just a conversation about reality we’re having with ourselves, in our own minds. We really don’t have to do anything, but we are giphyprogrammed to produce rather than to be thoughtful, insightful and effective.

After a hectic few weeks,  I took some time to slow down today . I still managed to write, to do my morning meditation, to complete the domestic chores that ensure we don’t live like animals. I had nap. I cooked a nutritious meal, and I enjoyed the relaxed end-of-the-day satisfaction of not having to do anything.

Posted in Columns, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Girl Stuff, Lean In Girl Stuff, New Feminism, Opinion, Professional Women, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, Women's March on Washington, Women's Rights, Working Women

It’s Time to Listen: A #MeToo Breakdown For Men

introverts

It’s my staunch belief that the #MeToo movement was born the moment Trump was elected POTUS. That was a bitter pill to swallow for everyone with a pussy to be grabbed.

The men in my life are wondering what the hell happened. Men are speaking up with sheer obliviousness about how they feel they no longer know how to communicate with women. Good.

Try listening. If you can’t listen, and you want to evolve past the shameful state of the pussy-grabbing POTUS, or even just avoid some life-ruining sexual harrassment lawsuit,  take some advice; Read a book and start listening.

Books are a good place to start.  As Elizabeth Renzetti is quoted as saying in a recent Toronto Star article by Tara Henley,

A book forces you to think deeply, to think profoundly, to think at length about issues that don’t just flash before your eyes as you’re scrolling through your phone. It forces you to actually confront, and acknowledge , and come to terms with, issues that are quite complex, and that need the space to be examined.

Women have lived their lives since the dawn of time, surrounded by Donald Trumps – affluent old pigs who get away with whatever they want because they pay for it.

Anger is just frustration that doesn’t feel heard.

And a lot of us are angry.

Saturday night I went to bed angry. My other half, who is obsessed with CNN, and therefore the asshat known as Donald-Useless-Twat-Trump, officially got on my last nerve.

“Turn that shit off! The last thing I need to listen too all weekend is CNN talking about Donald Trump fucking porn stars!” I stomped up the stairs, and before I slammed the bedroom door shut I finished off my rant with, “…and don’t you dare wake me up when you finally get enough of that garbage. I deserve to be able to relax too!” Slam.

With an icon of misogyny elected as the leader of the free world, it was really the last straw.  Seriously how much could any intelligent woman take? Pussy hats dotted the streets lined with millions of women for the Women’s March on Washington, and women everywhere started to speak up for one another.

The #MeToo movement was a tipping point for women to step forward into the light, and claim their power. As survivors of sexual abuse, we all know that speaking up has traditionally been taboo. No one wants to hear that stuff. It’s akin to the visual of watching someone be disemboweled.  The pain is incomprehensible, as is relating to the victim or the perpetrator.

The tsunami of women coming forward during the past year has been overwhelming. For most men, really thinking about their sisters, girlfriends or mothers being raped or assaulted, is nearly incomprehensible. But I guarantee you, a woman you love has experienced this.

Now is the time to listen.  We need to stop being distracted by sensationalism. Turn off the twaddle blaring from CNN and reflect.

Just listen.