Life: Your Wish List

Wishing everyone out there in ANDSHELAUGHS-land a very happy and relaxing Sunday. I think that I’ll write my list today…xo

Zen-Sational Living Photo

Zen-Sational Living Photo

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The Lazy Buddhist

"You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you're too busy; then you should sit for an hour." ~ Old Zen Saying~

“You should sit in meditation for 20 minutes a day, unless you’re too busy; then you should sit for an hour.”
~ Old Zen Saying~

I’m a lazy Buddhist.

Some days I’m more of a lazy Protestant, Hindu, Jew, Taoist, Muslim or Catholic. It just depends on how I’m feeling. I like to go with the spiritual flow, if you know what I mean.

How can I be all of those things? Well, it’s kinda like this;  I really struggle to wear the uniform of any single religion. I’m spiritual, and have found a home in my Buddhist practice. It  brought me to a much deeper understanding of my Protestant roots, and my academic study of religion.

But I’m lazy about it.

Today I put off a full day of meditation because I woke up with the same headache and sniffly nose that I went to bed with last night.

Mind you, I could have taken a seat in the meditation hall full of decongestants with a side of tissues, but it was so very much easier to stay in bed and cuddle with my 1500 count, aubergine-coloured sheets.

Granted the other folks attending today’s retreat are thankful that I didn’t come and clutter up their atmosphere with sniffles, bacteria, and a high level of shifting on my organic buckwheat hull-filled cushion, I could have gone.

Instead, I got up, had a glass of water and went back to bed, where, my body and mind rested for 5 more hours.

As usual, I made my way to my preferred coffee shop, sat back, and read the news. The piece that caught my ever-distracted eye was in the Focus section of the Globe and Mail. Crushed, by Erin Anderssen was a bell back to some thought about my own practice, and how, when I need it the most, I abandon it like a kitten distracted by an ant.

I have been worrying a lot lately. A lot. Worry is something that used to drive me toward my goals and accomplishments. Now it just drives me to bourbon, quick fixes and eventually, back to my breath.

Friendships wax and wane. Everyone has their own problems, and let’s face it, even though you may ask for someone to share their perspective, decisions have to be made with your very own unique concoction of rational thought and intuition. I tend to go heavy on the rational thought, and overboard on the intuition.

In the past, decisions that I’ve made from a place of fear or worry have been quick fixes that offered only temporary satisfaction.

For a week I’ve been stewing over something pretty hard. A simple ten minute session on my cushion mid-week, just before bedtime,  offered some release, and the most solid night of sleep I’ve had in months. I woke up with a new perspective.

So today I missed a great opportunity to share sacred, even holy, space with other people who know the power of practice within the safe space of a sangha. Instead, I chose to rest my own body and mind.

I felt guilty about not going, but then I decided to be at peace with peace. Both at letting myself get some solid rest, and for making a decision that wavered contrary to popular opinion. Just to be sure, I did some math, and realized that both my intuition and rational thought process were right on the money.

This week I had expressed my fears, hopes and thoughts to my friends, soliciting their perspectives and advice. They offered support  when I had come to a conclusion, and confided that with regard to this matter that was on my mind, I had made a poor decision before. I had to agree, and then, after calming my mind, I had to disagree.

This is life. Lived uniquely on our own, despite being surrounded by people; some caring, some sent teachers, and some we will never know.

Am I a lazy Buddhist, or am I just one who, working intensely with human loss each and every day, needed some space?

Breathing room and solitude are often mistaken for sloth. Don’t let anyone else’s ideas fool you.

When in doubt, hit the floor and give yourself ten for  zen. You won’t be disappointed, I promise.

 

The First Signs of Spring

shortsIt used to be robins, today, it’s men in cycling gear.  Something that can’t be unseen no matter how fast you look away or how hard you blink.

Spring in the city makes me want to take a road trip, sit by a window and watch in fascination as people take to the sunshine and streets, defying Old Man Winter’s refusal to pass the baton to Mother Nature.

Feeling a bit frisky and sorry for myself at the same time, I took myself out for lunch and enjoyed one of my favourite meals.

“Are you waiting for someone?” My server asked, using a tone which indicated that she assumed I was indeed, waiting for someone.  She was right and she was wrong. Waiting for her? Yes. Waiting for someone to join me at my table by the window? No.

“No, I know exactly what I’d like to order I said.” And so it went, in an efficient manner, I was served a glass of one of my very favourite reds  ( Grifalco Aglianico del Vulture 2010) together with my prosciutto, gorgonzola and pear pizza.

All around me, the restaurant on Toronto’s Queen West hip-strip was hopping with foot-traffic. As I savoured the first bites of my pizza, I was struck with one of the rare, but quite lasting moments of contentment that only a single woman can know.  Le sigh….the world was good and gracious, and manageable in that moment. I do know what I want, I thought to myself, repeating a line used on me by a boy-man last week,  and that’s a damn good quality to have. Decisive women are  rare, wild and beautiful.

A Buddhist quote about finding one’s equal in love passed through my wine focused mind. It says something about being better off alone than being in relationship with a moron (my words not Buddha’s). I had to agree, although steamy affairs of the heart are also under-rated as tonics for sallow complexions and dull skin.

Having not had breakfast, the wine took effect with speed. “The more to entertain yourself with my dear“, it seemed to wink from the glass. Thus I was struck with the need to share one of my top ten lists with you my darlings.

Let’s call it, my Ostara Musings on How Weird We Are…

1) Let’s start with men in cycling gear. Not just the shorts that make their penises look like hamsters poking their noses out of a stack of wood shavings, but the entire ensemble. Pointed shoes? Pointy helmets? Clinging wind breakers? Seriously. Men! This is not a good look. Ever.

2) This whole new media-objectifying-men’s-bodies is amusing, although the resulting skeletal-man-who-pays-way-too-much-attention-to-his-facial-hair is a bit emasculating. Cue the lumberjack number, and bring me some nice thick thighs please won’t you?

3) What’s with Asian women in pleated skirts and fedora’s? Cute, but overdone. I believe that hats, like stage props, must have a definite purpose or be left in the closet.

4) Somehow parents have missed out on teaching kids manners, and gone straight for extending their egos to raise narcissistic little bots. As I was happily munching, some pretentious three-footer came in and announced, “The reservation is under MacKenzie”. Really?  How about a polite salutation you crude little turd?

5)We all talk about dreams and travel and great loves, but very few people really have the balls to take risks any more. Stop talking at your minimum-wage-water-coolers and go do something. Make wild-passionate-love to someone who’s all wrong, pack a bag and get on a plane….Security comes at a heavy cost to our freedom and sense of wonder.

6) Grammar snobs are as annoying as fraying elastic in your panties. When someone is expressing an emotion, thought or sharing anything with you, it’s just bad form to correct their grammar. It’s also a passive aggressive way to make yourself feel better. Today, I did however find a word that I fell in love with, although will likely never use outside of this post; myotahpea (n): the feeling of shame you experience on behalf of another person when they do something stupid or embarrassing. Kinda like when I heard that little kid announce his last name for reservations as if it were Windsor, and  what I felt each time I saw some guy’s skinny legs and shriveled pee-pee stuffed in bike pants.

7) People wish for things they never go after. Wee-ird. Not me. I wish for Rheo Thompson milk chocolate covered cherries, and I damn well drive there and get them. Road trip to Stratford next weekend anyone???

…..I usually stop at ten when I’m making lists, but I think I’ve given you enough to ponder for a Sunday evening…

Stay well, be happy.

 

 

No Mud No Lotus

lotusmudNo kidding.

We know that already don’t we? We’ve all heard the sayings;

It’s always darkest before the dawn

No pain, no gain.

You can’t have a rainbow without the rain.

It’s in when I’m in the middle of chaos that I know my mind and emotions rock back and forth as violently as a ship on a stormy sea.

It is when I’m in the middle of chaos that I forget all of my training as a meditating wonder. Instead,  I laugh, cry, rage and cower randomly, and often.

It’s when I’m in the middle of chaos that I forget my breath.

I forget that deep knowing in my soul that the world is as it should be, and the best thing to do is to surrender and do my best in the present moment.

Instead, I regret the past, I fear the future, hope, despair and basically, drive myself crazy.

I guzzle my tea, swallow my food, and forget what I’m actually doing while my mind is travelling through the time-space continuum.

Little phrases like, ‘No Mud No Lotus’, coined by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) can seem kitschy and meaningless when you see them plastered on a car bumper, or posted on a Facebook page.

For practicing Buddhists they can be a bell calling them back to their breath, to the present moment.

These concise little phrases  can be the reminder that you haven’t really ‘practicing‘ anything, and you need to get back to the cushion.

No Mud No Lotus. 

Tomorrow before I hit the shower, I will remember to great the morning;

wakingupthismorning

 

After I repeat that my butt will hit  the cushion.

This weekend before I head out to work on Saturday night, I will register for my annual meditation retreat.

Tonight, before bedtime, I will breath. I will smile.

I will have to dig deep, past all of the, ‘screw this’s, and screw you’s’, and I will remember just how much I have to be grateful for.

No Mud No Lotus; Thanks for the reminder.

This Week’s Top Ten

paper…things I learned this week…

1) The 2013 vintage of California wines is a goldmine. Still over-priced, but worth every penny to me. Must get to the LCBO to buy a case or two. Better yet, must drift off and daydream about my time spent in Sonoma…le sigh.

2) Alas, I will never look good in the new ankle-length pant. My décolletage is far too abundant to have me look like anything but a teetering tower of lusciousness. Le sigh – again. Must make up for this by going shoe shopping.

3) According to psychologists the beard trend is a revolt against female power and beards are as much a phallic symbol as, let’s say, the CN Tower. Interesting, but do we really care ladies?  No. Just have a well manscaped face, and kiss me oh bearded masculine gods!

4) My horoscope says that the full moon makes me talk too much, and I should just be quiet and go for the secretive Scorpio persona. Let’s face it, half of the stuff I say makes little sense to anyone else, therefore my babbling makes me all the more mysterious. Horoscope, schmoroscope!

5)My friend Carlo writes like Craig Davidson. Yes, despite a degree in English Literature, I still prefer Canadian writers. Landscape; the overwhelmingly accurate, psychological theme of most of our novelists….take me on a road-trip any time.

6) Despite an ex’s insistence that my movie choices are purposefully pretentious, I continue to be shocked when the movies I really want to see only play at ‘select’ theatres. To the cinematic powers that be – Please, please, please don’t underestimate the number of culture junkies in the suburbs.

7) God bless Lucy Waverman. My famous bananas in rum-butter sauce will go perfectly with her ‘Boozy Bundt’ cake. Yum!

8) It has been decided that contrary  to the release of recent evidence by fitness gurus, an abundance of sex does decrease belly fat. It’s true. My friend Darleen nodded when I suggested that the gurus were, (gasp) wrong, so it’s true.

9) Although it’s months away, the twelfth anniversary of my 28th birthday is this year, and I must appoint a party committee to plan the debauchery. See #1 on this list, and begin stocking up.

10) I will always miss Paris.  Always.

 

Cocktail Style Guide

"Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you've got a bottle of champagne in the fridge. " ~Hester Browne~

“Always keep a bottle of champagne in the fridge for special occasions. Sometimes the special occasion is that you’ve got a bottle of champagne in the fridge. “
~Hester Browne~

…or, the less conservative; “How to Have your Hooch and Look  Like a Lady Doing It”.

There’s nothing like a little burn-out to make a girl appreciate her liquor cabinet.

I hate to generalize, so let’s define burn-out shall we ladies?

The Bing on-line dictionary’s  definition of burn out goes something like this;

burn·out
 [ búrn òwt ]   
  1. exhaustion: psychological exhaustion and diminished efficiency resulting from overwork or prolonged exposure to stress
  2. extremely exhausted person: somebody affected by psychological exhaustion
  3. machine failure through heat: failure of a machine or part of a machine to work because of overuse or excessive heat or friction

Just to be thorough in our mutual understanding, I think that we can concur that burn out can also result from lack of shenanigans, lack of sexual ecstasy, and an overload of having to deal with those of diminished capacity for common sense and basic human emotions such as empathy or twisted senses of humour.

White Wine Spritzer. If your burn-out stems from the workplace, it is socially acceptable to come home and make dinner whilst dancing in the kitchen, to a little Solomon Burke and enjoying a white wine spritzer (or two) with a dash of lemon.

Red Wine. If your ever-attentive man is making your dinner, switch your spritzer to a juicy gulpable red, and enjoy while soaking in the bath…because we know what will happen after your second or third glass with dinner. God bless the men who know how to take care of us and stroke stoke our fire.

White Wine Sangria. If you are entertaining, and it’s hot, like southern belle hot as hell, mix up some vino verde, gingerale, sliced berries, limes and lemons with loads of ice. Easy and de-lish.

Campari and Soda. Perhaps you’re waiting for your bestie to arrive to dish the lastest on her man’s prowess (or lack thereof), a Campari and soda – rocks please- will satisfy your craving, and make you feel as feminine as a pretty pink pair of panties.

Amaretto Sour. If evening shenanigans are on the menu and the dinner hour has passed while you primp and prime yourself, go straight for these. They’re fun, sweet and have a little twist. They’re just like you plan on being while flirting and playing well into the wee hours of the morning.

Bourbon (one of my personal favourites) is best served straight and warm, or with a single cube of ice if you need it to be refreshing. Bourbon is for discussing serious issues with people whom have garnered your respect; professional or otherwise. Let it fortify you from the inside out. Take a cab home.

Beer. Hmmm, best for a quick catch-up at the bar while watching the World Series.

Port. Blue cheese please. Fireplace and handsome, informed company is mandatory.

Martinis. The chipped nail-polish of the cocktail world. Trashy  like one-night-stands, unless they’re straight-up, dirty, with olives on the side. Every one-night stand has it’s place, so don’t knock it until you’ve tried it. Good for shaking off excess energy and getting your  groove back. Don’t hate yourself in the morning. Simply switch to mimosas.

Mimosa. Every Sunday morning. Preferably after a solid shag, and before you read the paper.

Mojito. Only in Cuba. Only with fresh mint. Only while sitting in an open air café with ceiling fans spinning lazily.

Tequila – when your attitude is ‘what the hell’ and ‘who gives a crap’. Should only be consumed while wearing denim and something bought at K-Mart designed by Jessica Simpson.

Mint Juleps – May. Only May, while watching the Kentucky Derby. Can also be excused while watching the Preakness.

Rum. Are you on a tropical island or wish that you were? Mix rum with pineapple juice, or whatever makes you think happy thoughts. Some sort of slushy concoction can take your blues away for a few hours.

Champagne (Cava may be substituted). While soaking up to your neck in a hot bath while listening to Leonard Cohen. While prepping for an erotic, perhaps even kinky evening in with your partner of choice. Can also be consumed in copious quantities while having girl-talk about the one that got away, your body issues, or your hopes and dreams. The bubbles in champagne make you feel like the world must be ok if you’re drinking such a delightful drink.

Vodka – seriously? It’s like drinking a K-car. Move on.

Irish cream – over ice with milk. Good for an evening wrapped in your snuggie while reading a Harlequin.

Gin and tonic. Must be over twenty-seven degrees Celsius. Must be ice cold. Must have lime. Must drink at least three.

Whiskey. Are you wearing cowboy boots? Is your carriage for the event a pick-up truck? Does someone have on a ball-cap, or alternately have hat-head? Then it’s ok.

I do hope that this simple guide to making your hooch seem feminine has been of assistance to you. Please enjoy responsibly, and do give in to temptation of the flesh every once in a while my sweet, juicy little peaches. It’s what keeps us young.

Canadian NOT American

Surprisingly delicious and as addictive as any illegal drug.

Surprisingly delicious and as addictive as any illegal drug.

Chicken’N Waffles flavoured potato chips, two dollar and fifty cent wine, and state troopers who look like Smokey the Bear. What are; things you can only see in America.

As a tourist in the Caribbean and Europe, Canadians are sometimes confused with Americans. But not often, and not for long.

Living within an hour or so of the U.S. border, Canadians often like to make the trip south for a little break, and to shop.

We get a kick out of seeing alcohol on grocery store shelves, and an even bigger kick out of bringing a bottle or two of otherwise high-priced hooch across the border.

If you’re familiar with Michael Adams’ studies on the sociological differences between Canada and the U.S.A, which argues we are becoming more and more divergent when it comes to the values we espouse as nations, you will have some idea of the subtle differences that give these two North American countries decidedly distinct identities.

If you haven’t read the books, or thought much about it, let me give you my non-political, purely biased perspective.

U.S.A. vs Canada

1) Size matters in the U.S.  Meals are served on platter sized plates, drinks are served in gallon pail sized glasses, and the result is that the folks south of the border like their elastic waist bands way more than we do in the Great White North.

2) Food is a chemical and caloric shit-storm. If it’s palatable, it’s ok to eat. Welcome to the U.S.A.  Admittedly I did not seek out any ‘organic’ specialty stores, however, there were none visible during two days of driving to, through and around a major city.

3) The accent. First of all, in Canada, you’re out of luck in 99.9% of cases if you’re looking for grits. In the U.S., it’s pronounced ‘gree-its’, and they’re everywhere.

4) Americans love booze, but hate weed. Canada regulates booze like it’s crack-cocaine, and treats marijuana like it’s alcohol’s adorable little sister.

5) State troopers seem to have a permanent presence at convenience stores. They seem to be in a constant state of dehydration, lingering at the counter holding some giant beverage from the cooler. In Canada cops like coffee and donuts – they hang out at Tim Hortons.

6) American men all seem to have a hang-dog face and some terrible nasal condition which causes them to breath out of their half-open mouths. Canadian men are adorable, rugged lumberjacks underneath all of their please’s and thank you’s.

7) Brand names are big. If you don’t have at least one tagged on your body in the U.S., you’re an outcast. Canadians are slightly less attached to the thought of being walking billboards.

8) Salespeople in the U.S. are more aggressive, and smile while doing it. I’ve never seen so many over-the-hill women in heavy make-up and veneers this side of drag-night on Church Street as I did at the Macy’s cosmetic and fragrance counters.  I kept expecting the saleslady at  Estee Lauder to say, “All the better to eat you with my dear“.  She also happened to love every shade of lipstick I tried on, and held my chin firmly in her hands while applying it. Run. For. Your. Life.

9) Pizza. The US border cities definitely do it better. Crust that tastes like dough not cardboard, real cheese, and fresh herbs. Mom and pop shops always do pizza better.

10) Canadian highways, although aging and in a dismal state, are almost always more clean and maintained than U.S. interstates. “Tired”, was an adjective recently used to describe the infrastructure in New York state, and I would have to agree.

Each time a Canadian customs agent hands me back my passport and waves me through, I breath a deep sigh of relief. Canada is home, and I’m glad of it. Now, if we could just get our politicians to see the light…

 

 

 

Why You Should Be Late

hotAs I’ve developed my spiritual side, my tendency for mischief has decreased.

I’m not sure whether that’s a good thing or a bad thing, mostly because, well, there’s no other way to say it, I’m a hoot to hang out with when I feel a little frisky.

Regardless of your deeply cultivated, responsible self, the world is still a veritable playground.

Years ago that’s how I unconsciously approached the world every day. It was fun. I was fun. Very few things were sacred.

I remember, almost a decade ago, looking at a 7th story window with my mumster beside me and saying, “The world is our stable.” We laughed so hard we nearly choked on our coffee.

But it was the truth, and I felt it was my duty to point that out to her. Now I need to refresh my own sense of fun, mischief, and go back to my ‘what-the-hell-why-not’ attitude.

Do you remember getting excited about what you were going to wear underneath what you were wearing? Do you remember being silly and giggling, and knowing that Mr. Right-Now was either going to adore you, or you’d move on?

Yah, I remember that too…..

As it turns out I’m not the only one. According to my pals, our taste for older, slightly balding men who could wine and dine us, has been sated. There are few men of our own vintage or older who can teach us much that we don’t already know or haven’t already done. We no longer need the older, balding man (who, incidentally look much like a giant phallus) to impress us with what he knows or what he owns.

No darlings. Now we like the younger ones. The ones who may be able to be taught a thing or two. Please finish those last two sentences with, ‘in the bedroom’.

They aren’t jaded, or miserable, or blaming their ex for making them intolerable. They are yummy and delicious, and we want more.

Now, for the older gentlemen out there, don’t moan and roll your eyes. Do not take your sorry over-the-hill-ass to the couch and guzzle a beer. Trust me, older women can relate, after all, this is the paradigm that we’ve been faced with for centuries.

Perhaps we all just need to refresh that seventh story-office-I-was-late-this-morning-because-my-lover-was-ravishing-my-body perspective again.

There’s nothing that a hot snog, thorough shag and bottle of bubbly can’t make right.

Now go get’em goddesses.

…and I don’t want to see you until ten minutes after you’re supposed to start on Monday.