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Hot & Sour Soup for the Cynical Soul

“A good neighbor is a fellow who smiles at you over the back fence, but doesn’t climb over it”
~Arthur Baer~

I don’t jump on every pseudo-spiritual band wagon that rolls through town claiming to reveal some mystic secret of the universe and ways of “being” that the great faith traditions of the world have somehow missed.

As a religious studies scholar, I think the great faiths have got it covered.

We just happen to live in a world where people look for quick fixes, whether it be weight loss, relationships or spirituality.

It was with some hesitation that I picked up one of the “Chicken Soup for the blah-dee-blah-dee-whatever Soul” books.

To summarize, the story was about a man (let’s call him Dick) who was shocked upon hearing about a neighbour’s suicide.

Let’s call the neighbour  Mr. Rogers.  The neighbour was a retired fellow whom everyone loved.

Dick reported that his young daughters often were at Mr. Rogers’ to have their bikes fixed, colouring in chalk on his driveway, and generally doing stuff with him because Dick was too busy.

Dick also said that Mr. Rogers was wonderful because every time anyone asked him for help, Mr. Rogers obliged. Dick also reported that Mr. Rogers never complained about the leaves blowing from Dick’s lawn (Dick was too busy to rake) onto Mr. Rogers’ own, just raked lawn.

As a matter of fact, Dick couldn’t remember a time when Mr. Rogers wasn’t a pleasant wonderful man. Perhaps Mr. Rogers  wasn’t thinking of what wonderfully selfish neighbours he had when he climbed on top of the step ladder, wrapped his handi-work noose around his own neck, and took a leap into the great here-after.

After the lovely funeral service, at the reception (hosted by Mrs. Rogers at their home), Dick learned from the neighbour’s friend, that the blowing leaves from Dick’s yard did in fact irritate the living hell out of  Mr. Rogers.

Read that last paragraph again;  I mean come on! Poor old Mrs. Rogers had to host her own husband’s funeral reception?! Where were all of these neighbours who loved Mr. Rogers so much?

Standing outside, looking at his own messy lawn, the leaves swirled in the wind around Dick. A tear came to his eye. Reaching for a tissue inside the pocket of his suit jacket, Dick pulled out a tissue, and low and behold, there was a leaf in his pocket too ! Dick  thought this was a sign. Oh my!

Yes, surely this meant that Mr. Rogers with his stretched, snapped, neck  was smiling down on Dick. This leaf was a message to say that Dick was forgiven for being such a knob of a  neighbour.


Perhaps self-centred, egotistical Dick who had no time to rake his own yard or look after his own kids needs to not just pull the tissue out of his pocket, but his head out of his….deep, dark pocket.

Perhaps the leaf  meant nothing at all. More likely it was a message from Mr. Rogers  to let Dick  know that it was being surrounded by  un-neighbourly neighbours who took advantage of his kindness which  pushed Mr. Rogers over the edge. Hmmm?

As I have said before, many people like Dick mistake kindness for ignorance. We know that you know we’re doing you a favour and you really don’t appreciate it.  Don’t let leaves in your pocket convince you otherwise.

Too often our spiritual nutrients come in the form of ‘spiritual gummy bears’; a sugar rush that doesn’t last, leaving you feeling depleted. More specifically, causing us to swing from tacky ‘signs’ to hocus pocus and back again as we grasp at the spirituality our hectic lifesyles sacrafice.

So, never underestimate how much you irritate the crap out of your neighbours, even if they never complain and only smile and nod.  Does your selfishness/lifestyle impact another person’s enjoyment of their own home? If  so, you’re a Dick.

I have one piece of advice for you if your neighbours are Dicks. Don’t let your silence and kindness push you take your own life like Mr. Rogers.

Surely to everything that’s holy, a bit of a rant and maintaining firm boundaries might save you, possibly curbing your Dick’s destructive pattern of self-indulgence and spiritual negligence. Accepting nothing but respect from your neighbours may actually fertilize their spiritual growth.

Again, as I’ve said before, the moral of this story; Don’t be a Dick.

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More Dating Tips for Men 40+

“How many of you have ever started dating because you were too lazy to commit suicide?”
~Judy Tenuda~

Since I’ve had a number of emails with regard to my post  Dating Tips for Men 40+, I thought I’d give you another ten to work with;1) You are over 40. Do not constantly check yourself out in every surface with a reflection. You look more ‘Saturday Night Fever’ wanna-be than debonaire. After 40, women are looking for substance before style.

2) Do not take your own shirt off for a make-out session. Ewww. Do that, and you are fodder for sarcastic girl talk and laughter the following day, and forever after that.

3) Kiss gently, tenderly and deeply. Deeply as in with feeling, don’t cram your tongue down her throat. Gross.

4) Facial hair – have it under control. If your beard, moustache or other facial accoutrement is not groomed immaculately, you look like a dirty old pervert.

5) Do not refer your lecherous friends to other women, especially without their permission. We are not stupid, real introductions happen over dinner, at a party or at a chance meeting.  “I want to get to know you” texts or out-of-the-blue-phone-calls are really just “I’m a useless flap of lecherous old skin who wants to get laid.”….and they likely also  have poorly groomed facial hair to boot.

6) Don’t be too eager. If you hear about us, and you are instantly in love, you’re likely nuts too. Go get help.

7) If we’re out on a third date with you, we like you. Relax, have fun and refer to number 3.

8) Do not lie about your age. Tell the truth. Liars, always get found out, and whether you realize it or not, even such a ‘white’ lie lays the foundation for suspicion and zero trust.

9) Erections. Get and maintain one. No, it does not happen to everyone. They have pills for that – go to  your doctor. We are not therapists, we are luscious, wonderful, fully sensual beings. You are courting us, not married to us. Make the effort.

10)  Be romantic ‘just because’. I refer to you to Gregory Godek. It takes practice to become a habit.

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Saturday at 11am

“Friendship is born at that moment when one person says to another, ‘What! You too? I thought I was the only one.”

The autumn can seem like a wonderful new beginning as the leaves become debutantes in all of their deep-hued splendor.

And then it just  kinda sucks.

Sure, it’s still awe-inspiringly beautiful when the gold leaves cling to deep brown branches, but after that, the grey pallette is really just depressing.

Until April hits us with beautiful blooms, we’re stuck with grey, slush and the occasional glistening snow storm that makes day-to-day life a challenge.

So it begins, the season of, blah. This week most of my clever and brilliant gal pals are just slightly under the weather. Nothing seems to be going right, and we’re all (yes, including moi) feeling a bit less frisky.

Even a well mixed gin and tonic, and an evening with a young stud seem comme ci comme ca. My, my, my, whatever should we do?

Coffee. Saturday at 11. You got it ladies. The best sure-fire way to feel better about the bilious tedium that we call life is to connect.  Too often when we’re feeling, blah, we withdraw, stay in, curl up with a good book, and pull the covers over our head at the end of the day.

Chances are, your gal-pal is feeling the same way. Maybe it’s work, your man, your lack-of-man, your thighs, your frustration that life just has this wonderful way of soldering on long after life stops being interesting. Whatever it is, you, and your luscious lady pals could both use some cheering up, and reminding how much fun some mischief can be.

So I challenge you today to connect.  I guarantee you that for the cost of a cup of coffee or tea, you get the best therapy money can buy – shared laughter and maybe even some tears.

It’ll be worth getting out of your pj’s. Trust me.

Creative Writing · Health · Life · Poetry · Writing

Red Pants Brown Robes

“Individually, we are one drop. Together, we are an ocean.”
~Ryunosuke Satoro~

The temple down the street

I see it every morning

every afternoon coming home I imagine

the venerables scurrying around purposefully


lounging on their mats

reading and sipping tea

like a Buddhist Platonic verse

Red tile roof

how exotic for the small town carpenter’s girl

Surely those tiles can’t endure like ours

asphalt and paper and tar

I must  feel the rough edges

and the grooves that fit so smoothly to believe

Black pants or beige pants

yes, sometimes beige pants to the meditation hall

skin on my legs

creating obscenely loud friction

as in silence I mount  the three incense gilded stories

finally perching breathless, like a pretzel

on the cushion.

my thoughts; in – two..three……four……..five……….out –two….three……four……..five……….six…………seven…………….

wiggled away to you

my red pants hot pants

rooted through my beige and black

‘hello’ ,the brown robes told me to nod to you

and yes, indeed, you did disappear

cool breath inside the soft moist dampness of my nostril

cool flow over each hair, every membrane

warm breath from my lips

abdomen released, shoulders dropped, I breathe a sign post to nirvana

but your head peaks out

laughing at me, jester, you kiss my lips

and water my red pants to root on that cushion

the click of old bones under brown robes

soft soles connecting to the wooden floor boards

sticking and pulling away

under the red roof

from the other side of the room, only a whisper from my twitching closed eyes,

tenderly untangled my delicate tormentor and kicked you back

in – one..two….three……four……..five……….just say hello and carry on out-one..two..three……four……..five……….six…………seven…………..

those brown robes chased you down ate you alive


Under the red roof

My brown-robed, bitch-slapping monk

is dying.

Did you and all the other third floor daemons

eat her from the inside out?

Or, was it the lounging monks idle

human nature? not even robes can soothe to death

In my beige pants red sparks fly

I see across the lake over the hill through the houses

I imagine her there

Shrivelled up in her rough, wide, brown robes, shrinking

and the red roof settles in my bones, will endure there

much longer than paper and asphalt and tar

my senses overcome by subtle autumn decay.

Copyright 2012

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Terms of Not-So-Endearment

“An unfortunate thing about this world is that the good habits are much easier to give up than the bad ones.”
~ William Somerset Maugham

How much to reveal and how soon? Those are two really important questions to ask yourself when getting to know a new partner. 

Often times, it’s when we get a glimpse of someone’s ugly bits (I’ m not talking about what’s hiding inside your undies ladies and gents) that we head for the hills, or decide to love someone anyway.

We all have our war stories, but today I’m going to treat you to a glimpse of relationship battlefield shrapnel. Yes, some are tales of my own battles, some are tales that belong to my gorgeous gal-pals.

1)  Your partner sleeps with a black beauty mask and has a twice daily skin care regime.

2) Your soon-to-be hubby sleeps with earplugs and fuzzy socks. Every. Single. Night.

3) Your partner horks (please don’t make me write a definition for this) in the shower.

4) Your partner has a recurring fungal infection down there, and has to regularly use prescription ointment.

5) Your partner twirls their pubic hair into dreadlocks when they’re late with their manscaping regime.

6) Your partner regularly takes ‘nutritional’ supplements to boost his booster, and insists this is normal. It’s not normal.

7) Your partner begins to use the word ‘bloated’ frequently. No, no, no. This is what girl-talks and physicians are for.

8) Your forty-something  partner thinks having mumsie do his laundry is perfectly acceptable.

9) Your partner likes shoes. Large, red, high-heeled, shoes. On himself.

10) Your partner wears socks more than one day in a row. Ewww!

11) Your partner insists on wearing bikini undies because he honestly thinks they turn you on and make his junk look bigger.

12) Your partner has a latex allergy that causes swelling. I have yet to decide if this is a bad thing.

Are any of these make-it-or-break-it quirks for you?

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Rules of Engagement

Elite Dinner Party!
Elite Dinner Party! (Photo credit:

Years ago I was invited to a very purposeful dinner party. It was a monthly event hosted by a core group of single friends looking for a partner. 

The key to the success of the event was that everyone committed to  participation. The catch was that you had to convince one new single person of the same-sex to attend the party with you.

Each month, the members of the group were introduced to friends of friends, thereby expanding social circles and increasing exposure to potential partners.

I never attended these dinner parties despite multiple invitations. You see, I’m just not that kind of girl. Stifled polite conversation doesn’t get to the heart of who someone is, it merely let’s you know whether a gentleman knows which utensils and plates to use.

If I were to host such parties ( and I just may decide to do this), I would have other rules.


Rules of Engagement

1) Everyone must cook a dish to bring to the party, include the recipe,and make up a story about how the recipe came to be. Extra attraction points go to rom/com stories in line with the theme of the evening.

2) Everyone would have to take off their shoes and socks at the door. Nothing says ‘be fore-warned about all of my bad stuff’ like the ugliness of someone’s feet. This way, the ice is broken, we’ve seen some of  your ugly bits.

3) All guests would have to join hands and sing/learn the Johnny Appleseed prayer. Any man who is brave enough to sing Johnny Appleseed is truly a man.

4)There would be a bowl of discussion topics in the centre of the table to be passed around. Each diner would have to speak for two minutes. Subjects could include; my morning bathroom routine, favourite every-day getaways, reasons I may not want to be romantic, what part of my body makes me uniquely sexy.

5)A two drink limit. You must have two drinks to loosen up prior to your speech. Wine is a truth serum. If you don’t/can’t consume alcohol, I’ll sneak you half a Valium just to get you loosened up.

6) Proper, boy, girl, boy, girl seating to ensure a good mix.

7) A confession segment. The ‘guests’ would have to confess one thing they’re envious of, about the person who invited them.

8) Mandatory phone list and confidentiality agreement. To ensure that all diners and guests are sincere in their efforts to work toward the goal of the group, attendees must provide their contact information (phone number) to the host in advance. A list will be provided to every guest at the end of the evening. The numbers must be held in confidence and not shared outside of the group.

9) Each guest must participate in all events, including the games section. One of the following games would take place following the meal; Pictionary, Charades, Name That Tune (byok – bring your own kazoo).

10)  Invited guests interested in joining the ‘group’ could do so after buying the executive committee (myself and anyone else interested in a governance position) a bottle of Spanish Cava and a Dairy Milk bar.

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Gifts reveal the Giver

“Remember, the greatest gift is not found in a store nor under a tree, but in the hearts of true friends.”

This weekend, I had a discussion about the delicacy of gift giving. The haggaring duty of it, and the joy it can be as well.What kind of gift giver are you? The reality is, many of us are obligated gift givers. We buy for occasions which are dictated by etiquette.Each year, at about this time, I get an unsolicited email from my ex-husband. Usually the subject line is something like; Birthday and Christmas gift ideas. Every year when it arrives, I have a good laugh at the irony,but know that I will likely assist our kiddo in choosing a gift or two from this list.

I often say I don’t like giving lists because I don’t like people to feel obligated, but maybe it’s becaue I like surprises. As odd as it seems to me,  my ex-husband’s list makes my life easier. I know that these are things he won’t buy for himself, and I know that he will be happy with the gift.

Whichever school of thought you belong to – the list or not to list – you’re right.  Gift giving is a tricky business. The gifts you give reveal a lot about you and your relationship with the gift-getter.

I have had wonderful gifts that were also heartbreaking. When I was younger, I was given very expensive gifts of clothing. Clothing that I would never, ever wear because it was not a reflection of who I was. I felt like the giver was trying to tell me to change my image. I know it’s hard to believe, being as fabulous as I am, but I’m a socks, underwear and a book kinda girl. Walking around flashing designer names makes me feel like a dickwad.

Another example of heartbreaking gifts were from a previous true-love-of mine .He gave me wonderful gifts.  All of his  gifts were beautiful, but they were things he knew (without a doubt) that I did not like. Again, they were gifts with a message; change who you are.

Then there are gifts from children. These are not heartbreaking gifts, because they are from children, not adults who need therapy. My very favourite, I-love-this-so-I’m-buying-it-for-you-gift was  from my kiddo. Many years ago,  there was one package under the tree for me. It was a box about 8″x8″x8″. My kiddo would put it in my lap each night the week before Christmas, and make me shake it.  By the time the week was up, he had me convinced that whatever was in that box was abso-freaking-lutely marvelous.

Christmas morning came, and I opened the box. It was filled with….are you ready for this? It was filled with three pieces of plastic fruit; an apple, an orange and a banana. Yes, for a four-year-old, plastic fruit is wonderful, and holds all the potential of a four-year-old’s endless imagination. I kept that fruit in the centrepiece on the kitchen table for two years because he was so proud of having bought me a gift.

Giving gifts you think someone will love makes you happy. Thus the popular saying, ” It is better to give than to receive.”

I offer you a few thoughts about gift giving options;

Gift Cards – can be interpreted as a very lazy way out of shopping for something meaningful OR can be a wonderful gift for someone saving for a specific item at a specific shop

Homemade Gifts – when I was a kid, I always felt a little ripped off with the whole let’s-make-our-gifts. As an adult, I realize how precious those gifts are, and the love that goes in to them. Give me a homemade gift any day. If someone has taken the time to make me a gift, they have taken the time to keep me in their heart.

Boy-Girl-Romance Gifts – I can only give a short list of what women want, because what men want is a mystery to me.  Women love flowers, jewelry, perfume and luxurious clothing (ie leather gloves, beautiful scarves, delicate nighties), and a ‘date-night’ to frame the moment.

Gift of Time – as we get older, and life takes on a constant buzz of obligation, the gift of time is more precious than any. So what if it’s only during the holidays that we make the time?  It’s not hypocrisy, it’s an annual time  to catch up, to stare at the twinkling lights, dream out loud, drink hot chocolate and laugh.

Heirloom Gifts – when someone gives me a gift that belonged to someone special in their life, I feel truly blessed. These gifts say, ‘You are my family of choice.”

Too often I see gifts given because there is obligation. “Do you think this is enough?” I heard this growing up every birthday, Christmas, wedding and occasion.

The question is, does the giver think that it’s enough? Is it thoughtful? Is it within your means? Will it make the person receiving it smile, breathe easier, and feel good?

If it comes from the heart, it is enough.

I guarantee if you cut down on giving gifts you feel obligated to give, and give to those who make your life worthwhile every day, you’ll be a much more fulfilled gift giver.