Obstacles to the Simple Life

"Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man." ~Iain Duncan Smith~

“Do not underestimate the determination of a quiet man.”
~Iain Duncan Smith~

I live life by the golden rule. I try my best to always treat others the way I would wish to be treated.

Unfortunately I realize that not everyone abides the same ethic, and that’s when living simply stumps me.

I like to think I’m right. All the time, and although I know in my wee-little-lady-brain that can’t possibly be true, I often  live in the glorious and light-filled illusion that it is.

But when I come head to head with someone difficult and am knocked off my unicorn, my habit is to stonewall. You see, that’s simply the kindest thing I can do. Throughout the years, I’ve learned that my stealthy and quick-witted tongue is as sharp and lethal as any dagger. So I simply clam up and carry on.

Earlier this year I decided that the best way to handle a person whom I find appallingly rude, selfish and a complete and utter social-knob, was to simply pretend as if they were not there. But, there they are, and pretending they’re not there isn’t bothering them as much as it bothers me.

Years ago, I came to the conclusion that being unfriendly was far more difficult than being politely civil. Saying hello and having the ability to engage in small talk is way more pleasant than having to act like someone doesn’t exist. Besides that, I believe ignoring another human being goes against everything sacred in the universe.

Difficult people, not the boxing day sale at Holt Renfrew,  are the biggest obstacle to living the simple life. We need other people, and we should be there for other people when they need us.

When we just can’t be, when our human nature is at its most primal, sometimes the best thing to do is to remove yourself from the situation. Like it or not, even adult, proper ladies need a self-imposed time-out every once in a while.

My time out this weekend has given me a chance to get some much-needed rest, visit with a gal-pal, mooch around cutesy shops to get some Thanksgiving Party ideas, and indulge in unrushed morning coffee whilst still in my nightie.  Way better than having to get up and give the cold shoulder.

Not being caught in the trappings of ‘things’ is often what we think of when we use the term, ‘simple life’. The most important thing, is to learn how to interact with people who challenge us. The best way to get better at that is not concocting witty comebacks, or more fully engaging in a battle of wits. No, the best way to overcome this difficult problem is to love yourself enough to remove your precious , one and only self from any situation that makes you uncomfortable.

Oh, and wine, the company of good men and even better chocolate. All of those things help too.

 

 

 

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You Think You Have Time

thinkyouhaveI’ve had a lot of pretty deep conversations this week. In my line of work, that’s not so odd, but in my personal life, I try to keep things gloriously simple and straightforward.

After all, time ticks by quickly, and no matter how wealthy you are, you can’t buy more of it.

My own summer has seen three young lives suddenly lost. My professional life partners me face-to-face with loss and life choices every single moment. We all, do, think that we have time. But we really don’t darlings. Life is a dazzlingly slick dance of smoke and mirrors that we barely have the ability to comprehend.

If you want to be happy, be happy. Love is rare and beautiful in this short and precious lifetime. Leaps of faith are required to make the most of your precious and delicate debut on the planet.

A delightfully delicious specimen whom I think is relatively gaga over yours truly said to me, ” I think you like being single.”

make someone love you

After having lived my words, and taken many great leaps of faith when it comes to matters of the heart, I have been let down each time.

So, my response to this wonderful man was that of course I like being single. I like my own company, and over the years myself and I have gotten to know one another pretty well.

We’re both hilarious, brilliant, and we share the same taste in men and wine. Why on earth would I give up spending time with myself unless my male counterpart weren’t as equally loving and kind?

So, that’s the crux of the matter folks. Although I won’t be making the cover of Vogue any time soon, and I’m pretty sure that regardless of however fabulously engaging this blog is, I won’t be winning the Nobel Prize for literature this go’round, I’m worth at the very least, a kind, loving partner.  We all are.

 

There you have it. Life in the nutshell of a few sentences. Everyone wants someone, but that someone must make life happy and good. You may even have that person in your life, but failed to wake up to that realization or be courageous enough to do anything about it.

Isola FarneseSo, as I make my debut into the foyer of the grand ball of middle age, I realize that however imperfect the circumstance may be, I will continue to take chances when it comes to matters of the heart.

I hope, that in the middle of that leap of faith off of the trapeze of love, I will catch the hand of my partner, and make a spectacularly sublime landing.

Time is short and precious my darlings, and I have every intention of taking a firm hold of what makes me happy and I shall passionately follow.

 

The Courage of Vulnerability

wetkittyYou know you’re tired when….

…it’s a relief to be sick so you can sleep

…you’d rather come home and go to bed than take someone to bed

…you wish you’d collapse so someone would finally take care of you

Maybe you’ve had a week like that? A month like that? A year like that? A lifetime like that?

Most strong, independent people have a hidden wound that keeps them going somehow. They’ve learned through heartache that vulnerability can be a dangerous thing and despite adversity, they keep on showing up and taking on the world alone.

From time to time, it’s impossible to be  everyone’s smiling face for the day.  You just can’t do it any more.

No matter your training, your practice, your dependence on cheesy motivational sayings, sometimes you just feel inadequate.

Tired, old, fat, ugly…whatever your personal self-inflicting wound weapon of choice, you use it on yourself.

Regardless of how awful you feel about yourself, there’s someone out there who can relate.

Hopefully they offer a sympathetic ear, and know enough to hold off on the advice, or, my personal favourite, the ‘suck it up cupcake’ followed by a thousand reasons you should be thankful, or worse, a thousand reasons they have it worse off than you.

What’s important is to recognize that you feel this way for a reason, and that reason is most likely that you are physically, emotionally and mentally exhausted. As in exhaustipated.

Be gentle with yourself. Wear your fat pants. Have a nap. Take a day off. Don’t pick up your phone. Cancel a date with that soul-sucking social contact. Eat that chocolate bar. Take yourself to the spa. Order take-out.  Accept someone’s offer of kindness…

Yah, that one can be pretty hard to do when you’ve perfected the independence thing. Sometimes courage doesn’t mean being someone else’s savior. It means being vulnerable so someone can be yours.

Sure, it means exposing yourself to possible pain, but it also means exposing yourself to great love.

Sometimes someone extending a kindness can be so touching it feels as if your heart is breaking. But you have to let yourself be vulnerable in order to let someone else help raise you back up.

Try it, you just might find out that being vulnerable isn’t as awful as you think.

 

 

My Kitchen Is a Time Machine

canningAs soon as the screen door squeaked open, the little, blond-haired girl with pig-tails scrunched up her nose. The fading light of sunset was lost in the tangy, humid air of the house. The scent was strong, sour, spicy, and unfamiliar.

“I just love that smell Mo,” her father said to her.

That was over 30 years ago, and the aroma of chili sauce boiling on the stove still takes the  little blond-haired girl with pig-tails back to that humid August night.

My Grandmoter was in the steamy kitchen boiling down her chili sauce. She was a fabulous cook. Granny could take the most basic home-grown ingredients and create a feast.

The cheesecloth bag that was bouncing around in the bubbling pot was full of spices, and I always think of that day when I cook up a batch of my own chili sauce this time of year.

Even though my other Granny wasn’t much of a cook, she made the best roast beef. We don’t eat a lot of red meat, but when I cook a roast, I think of my maternal Grandma bent over the stove in her apron, turning the beef. She would say to me, “You only turn it once.” She smothered the beef in black pepper, the same way she did her parboiled and fried turnip slices. Mmmm!

This weekend I bottled tomatoes, salsa, pickled beets and cooked peach jam.  Anyone who does any significant amount of home preserving knows that the cost savings are negligible. Everyone seems to want some, and very few bring back the jars. But that’s not the point.

The process provides as much satisfaction as the end result. My big, tall, football and baseball-playing teenaged son donned an apron and spent the entire evening with me preparing the fruit, stirring and washing up. I know that these are precious moments that will soon pass as he grows up and spreads his wings.

My son also manages to be around when I prepare the fruit for the fruitcake, measuring it by sight, and pouring the rum over it.  Every year I point to my Granny’s handwritten recipe, and tell him the stories of growing up in the country, and the particular Christmas Eve that the town drunk let himself into Granny’s house when we were out at church. There is comfort in ritual, even in such a simple atmosphere as the kitchen.

The scents from the kitchen bring back wonderful memories of family, holidays and full tummies.

Although I appreciate a finely cooked meal, the abundance and friendship that are nurtured around our meals is more important.

As a young woman, I had dreams of a country house with a huge harvest table. Instead, I live a city life. As  I pulled the protective cloth off of the antique maple table that my Mumster gave me, I realized I already have everything that I wished for. My table is a harvest table during the month of August. My home is filled with love, friendship and abundant laughter.

More often than not, my son comes home, opens the door, and says, “Oh, something smells good! Is that…”, and sure enough, it usually is. Whether it’s my favourite chocolate chip cookie recipe, or a pot of chili sauce, there’s usually something cooking at our house.

Friday Night Football Lights games, Thanksgiving and Christmas will all see our little home filled to bursting with friends who visit and join us for a bite to eat.

As I sat reading the paper and having my tea listening to the jar lids pop and seal, I was that little girl in blond-pigtails again, back in my Granny’s kitchen.

 

How NOT to Write a Wine Review

reallygoodwineAfter having already been to the market, and forgotten to pick up my coveted weekend copy of the Globe & Mail, I settled for a quiet cup of tea and some wine reviews.

I was a colossal fan of Billy’s Best Bottles when Billy was witty, concise and hilariously jolly about his wine writing(pre 2010). Billy was not a wine critic, he was an enthusiast and a writer. Every wine was an underdog waiting for its time to shine, we just had yet to discover it.

Billy’s Best Bottles no longer gets published, and the ‘branding’ has positioned Billy as a wine critic cum travel agent. It’s a shame really, because Billy’s humour was what set him apart from the over-the-top-have-to-prove-something wine critics,and inspired most people to explore new wines. After all, any vino that slid in under his ‘Cheap & Cheerful’ category could only be wonderful.

Alas, I am left with wine reviews that are dry, pretentious, and make me wonder if these critics aren’t all sitting back with wildly mischievous grins on their faces because they know they are full of the finest el poopo out there.

The first review I read today described a Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon as having aromas of menthol, tobacco, clay and beeswax. Are you kidding me? Clay and beeswax? At $S80, I’d say it’s a bargain, wouldn’t you?

Then there was, “…it offers raspberries, anise, some violets, plums and (wait for it…) oolong tea. Oolong tea? Yah chooch, I know what Oolong tea smells like, and if I wanted some, I’d brew it.

Having, “…plenty of incense”, really isn’t something I’m looking for in a wine. I get smoky, but incense? Please monsieur, put your thesaurus away.

Now, every girl wants to uncork, “Sappy and focused on the nervy finish.” For the love of all that’s holy! That’s why we’re opening the bottle in the first place! We need to get away from sappy and nervy. Definitely not picking up this beauty.

I think the crowning glory of wine elitism gone terribly awry is, “It possesses copious notes of garrigue, loamy soil, balsam wood, underbrush…”. Stop right there Shakespeare. Put the pen down and back away. Clearly you are in dire need of help removing your brains from your arse.

Having grown up in the country, I thought that the first reference to aromas of  tobacco, clay and beeswax were the tiniest bit, romantic. But, “melted road tar,” trumps that by far. Melted road tar? Don’t tell me,  your ideal wine smells like new permanent black marker, flowing gasoline and sulphur-like flatulence, doesn’t it sweetie?

If I were a wine producer, I would be suing some of these goofballs for slander.

Now, having said that, there are reviews that make me want to run out and buy cases of wine.

How about this? “It has enough fruit generosity but it also has a clear, honed elegance. Plum spice, cloves, red cherries. Succulent red. Lipsmacking. Excellent depth and impact..” (about Penfolds Bin 128 Shiraz 2012 by C.J. Katz, wine-front.com.au, Feb 28, 2014). Yes! I’ll take lipsmacking any day!

Or perhaps, “…dark and brooding bouquet offering cedar, black furits and fine French oak; the palate shows great intensity, whilst remaining light on its feet, with tannins that are very fine and polished; a sleeper waiting to awaken.” (Ben Edwards, winecompany.com.au, July 17, 2012). Mmm! Mmm!

Sure, I can hear my critics say that critics can say all that great stuff, but the wine might be plonk. Sure, that could very well be the case. But I’d rather take my chances on lipsmacking and a 2012 waiting to awaken than melted road tar.

Gone may be the days of good old reviews such as, ” Expect some Baco-style wildness, and edge. Wimps beware.” (Billy Munnelly, Billy’s Best Bottles 2012 about Colios, River Rock), or his lusciously lovely descriptor; gulpable.

Thankfully we have writers such as Katz and Edwards who are relatively down to earth, although, lacking the Irish humour I love so much.

My advice for wine critics; have some fun. Wine is meant to be gulpable. It is the fuel for friendship, creativity and passion.

 

 

 

 

 

Weekend Reminder List

tuesdayGood morning to you my fabulous readers.

I hope, with only two weekends of official summertime left, that you have something wildly delicious planned. In that vein, I will make this a short, but very important post.

 

~Top Ten Reminders For Every Day Health & Happiness~

1) The left lane is for passing. If you can’t see over your white knuckles on the steering wheel or  aren’t going the expected and forgivable 10km over the speed limit, move to the right lane. The far right lane.

2) Do not ask highly personal questions about someone’s past if you know that they’ve had a difficult one. Should someone subject you to this gauche questioning, throw something back at them like, ” Have you ever considered a silent retreat? That’s something I think I would enjoy doing with you.”

3) Concert etiquette dictates that for general admission seating at an outdoor event, that you do not put your skanky feet on my blanket patch of real estate. Having said that, it’s good to make friends with those around you.

4) When asking someone for some of their homemade summer preserves, return the jars afterward. Anyone who bottles the flavours of the season is happy to share, but not happy to invest in new hardware every year.  Not acting on this little courtesy ruins it for everyone.

5) Poetry, write it, read it, share it. We don’t have enough of that in this world.

6) If a coworker looks lost in their work, do not interrupt. Engineering a train of thought takes time and patience. One should not have to make emergency stops to chat about the weather.

7) Litter. Don’t. It seems to be a foreign concept to a lot of people. If I wanted your cigarette butts stuck to my shoe, I’d come over with my glue gun and glitter to do something about it.

8) Smile. Breathe. Be in the moment.

9) Mentor. You don’t have to have it in your job descriptions, but great leaders inspire, encourage and motivate every day all the time. If you don’t mentor your younger colleagues, who will?

10) Sleep in at least once a week. No alarm clock. Let your body and mind rest. How can you be fabulous darling, when you’re only half re-fueled?

~Wishing you a fantastic weekend!~

 

Why You’re Second Best

"Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character."  ~Henry Clay~

“Of all the properties which belong to honorable men, not one is so highly prized as that of character.” ~Henry Clay~

I can picture you reading this.

Perhaps you’re perched over your newspaper with  mug in hand, scooping toast into your mouth with your pinky in the air.

Maybe you’re sneaking in a read while you lounge on the couch enjoying some of nature’s finest.

Maybe, you’re even listening to wifey put the kids to bed down the hall.

Whomever you may be, trust me, this post is about you.

But how can it be?”

You’re getting that sinking feeling in your stomach right now aren’t you darling?

You poor thing. It’s kinda like the same feeling your half-truths have given the other person on the receiving end of your juvenile rationale that  not telling someone something doesn’t constitute a lie.  Grow up and grow some.

It’s not about lying or not lying. It’s about being truthful, trustworthy, and kind.

You have yet to develop those traits, so long as you skirt around the truth like a nine-year old.

Besides the universal truth of women’s intuition, now we have social media as well. Which means the little half-truths and lies you tell are not that long in revealing themselves all on their very own.

So, to women and men out there who like to manipulate their relationships, stop wondering why people-of-good-character don’t set firm dates with you.

Stop wondering why we back out at the last-minute, or just seem like we just don’t want to do stuff with you.

The reality is, you’ve made us feel like second-best, and frankly, you’re our last choice as well. You’ve  become what my savy, grey-wigged-great-auntie used to refer to as, ‘Any port in a storm’. You may be good for a beer, or a bonk, but nothing more than that.

Most of us have reached the age where the old adage is true; If we can’t be friends how can we be lovers?

We can’t.

The bad news for you  is that everyone knows you’re a coward who hides the truth. The good news is,  now you know your secret is out.  You might have just enough years left in your lifetime to make something of yourself.

Hump Day Suggestion

It’s Hump Day..how about a wet Willie???

wet willie

You Only Live Once

Seriously Tuesday?! Could you be any more of a ball-breaker?

My recommendation?

Take a does of Mae West to get you through the week.

westliveonce

 

Happy Monday!

I NEED this mug!

There are so many deadlines looming I’m drawing straws

to see which one goes to the bottom of the list this morning.

Happy Monday to you.

My wish for you is a week full of met deadlines,

flowers on your desk,

and happy customers!

what deadline