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The Kindness of Strangers

“The smallest act of kindness is worth more than the greatest intention.”
~Oscar Wilde~

Today I thought that my only lifeline would be a bag of marshmallow bananas and nap.

I was wrong. As usual.

Our authentic selves have a  funny way of  being teased out from the darkness during difficult moments, uncanny timing, and serendipitous encounters.

Each day I try to put my best foot forward, wear a true smile, and treat other people the way that I wish to be treated; with respect, an open heart, and eagerness to make each encounter a kind one. At the very least, I try my best not to be a worry-mongering busy-body (read; miserable twatcycle).

Today was not a great example of that. Today was one of the rare days that I felt tired, worn-out, and frankly my sweet little plums, just a tad concerned about how I was doing. I. As in me. As in, this calls for a totally emotionally, nutritionally unsound trip through the drive-through for my no-fail-depression-and-sadness-indulging lunch of synthetic food and a jumbo sized-diet-going-to-chew-through-your guts cola.

Yah, it was one of those days.

As I raised my card to tap-through my payment for food that was sure to make my insides feel even more crappola, the lady at the window paused and said, ” You have children don’t you?”

Her comment caught me by surprise, and I simply answered, “Yes”. Honesty, you see, is my default. Yes, yes, I know that’s naïve, but it works for me, despite popular practice to the contrary.

“They are so lucky to have a beautiful mother like you.”

What a kind thing to say. What a shining bright spot in my otherwise bleak day. What a way to be reminded that there are other people out there in the world who take time for kindness.

It was enough of a boost to make me pause. Evaluate. Pull myself up by the black-patent-pump straps of life and formulate a plan.

As I munched away on my I’m-having-a-feeling-sorry-for-myself lunch, I made a couple of personal calls, and then carried on with what turned out to be a rather unsuccessful day.

By the end of the day, my greasy, fatty, nutritionally decrepit lunch had settled in my tummy  like a physical manifestation of the way I had been feeling. The comment about how lucky my children were had slid off my over-tired, damp-from-the-humidity face, and clung somewhere to the bottom of my trouser leg like a tattle-telling piece of toilet tissue.

My last stop of the day was a must-stop, and I was sure my facial expression could be saying nothing less than, “Please show me to your quiet room where I can take a nap and suck my manicured thumb”.

Instead of being rushed out, I was shown gracious hospitality, and was charmed by a gentleman who, during the ten minutes it took to meet, exchange pleasantries and do the business of the day, managed to have delivered a beautiful flower to my vehicle to thank me for being so kind.

It was all I could do not to fall apart when these two strangers took time to smile from their heart, communicate from their soul, and spend the extra few seconds to make a difference in my life.

Often it’s the kindness of strangers that keeps us buoyed up during turbulent times. Many people have good intentions, but very few ever are moved to act in kindness. The best intentions are meaningless without action.

Never underestimate the power of your smile, the value of taking a few extra moments to care, and the treasure you are given by way of these simple things during your moments of darkness.

Tonight I’m sad, and I can only go to bed hoping that tomorrow might be a little brighter,that the seeds I planted in the days and weeks and months before, will come to fruition and bless my life with beauty. For now, all I can do is hope.

Tomorrow I will wake up and meet the world as that kind ‘stranger’, because that’s just how I roll.

It’s a madhouse darlings, so make the best of it and travel with people who love you for who you are.

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What is that taste?

rockin good wayThere are some moments in life that are meant to be savoured; long, lingering, mid-winter dinners spent at wizened harvest tables with too much wine and just enough friendship, being curled up with your lover in a breathless, sweaty limp-from-loving half-sleep on blushing, rumpled sheets or watching the slow spread of delight cross an old woman’s face and creep into her eyes.

These are all delightful moments. These are the moments which reveal themselves without pretense or ceremony  to our cluttered minds.

But there are other moments to be savoured. The ones that are not so easily recognized, cause your brow to crease, and the corners of your mouth to turn down before they turn up.

There have been a few instances in my life where my wee, little, girl brain has spun quickly ’round and come to a sudden, and definitive conclusion after asking, “What is that taste in my mouth?”

Much like a long-ago  Friday evening when I arrived home after a long stretch of twelve-hour days feeling alone and unloved. Don’t lie to me darlings, you’ve also visited that, nobody-loves-me-everybody-hates-me-place.  

Anyway, I arrive home to the quiet, solitude of singledom, kick off my shoes and pad into my boudoir, only to be taken by surprise at the sight of a pair of dust-bunny-ravaged men’s gitch which had been mercilessly dragged from the unholy darkness of underneath-her-bed by the cat.

It was a split second; my brow creased, the corners of my mouth turned down and then up as my girl-brain came to a screeching halt and definitive conclusion; some poor bastard had gone home commando.

And I laughed.

I laughed the tears-rolling-down-your-cheeks-kind-of-laugh all alone in my bedroom. In that moment I knew that the price of my loneliness was worth every second of my solitude.

The man-gitch were most certainly a souvenir from a morning-after that found my first thoughts asking, “What is that taste“?

Usually that taste was accompanied by some fuzzy memory of the night before; dirty gin martinis, laughter, the company of a delightfully sensual gentleman and whatever the flavor of the 3 a.m. craving was. It was usually a granola bar that only half fulfilled its destiny of reaching my tummy. The other bits would be found clinging to unlikely places on my sticky, hungover flesh.

After having spent a much-anticipated evening of mutual adoration with the love of my life, I was drifting off to sleep and thought, “What’s that taste“?

In the sputtering candlelight, wrapped in a once-in-a-lifetime-drifting-off-to-dreamland-full-body-embrace, my little girl-brain did not need to spin.

A slow, smile in all its fullness spread across my face and seeped into my body. “I know what that taste is”, a delicate fleeting thought crossed my consciousness just as it slipped away, “It’s gin, my man and joy. Now go to sleep darling, you have everything you’ve ever wanted”.

We make our memories in every moment. Sometimes they are the brow-furrowing, laugh-until-you-cry-memories that leave you asking, “What is that taste”?

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All The Heaven We’ve Got…

It’s that time. Time to shed the mid-work-week skin, and slide into our own little piece of heaven. Fill your cup darlings. Sit back, relax, close your eyes…”This is all the heaven we’ve got, right here where we are. In our Shangri-La.”

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Speaking With a Writer: How Not to Lose Your Mind

writersbrainYou avoid direct questions,” he said as he fumbled with something or other before we tucked in for the evening.

“Damn it, he sees me and he knows me, and he’s going right for the jugular, I thought, “That’s good. How very refreshing.”

I smiled, knowing all was finally  right with the world.

I don’t  avoid direct questions per se, but it takes me a while to mull them over. So far, no one has caught me at it, or at the very least, had the balls to call me out on it.

I’m a writer, and we tell stories. We subscribe to the old way of thinking, and believing that we are a culmination of all of the stories of our ancestors and all of their ancestors, and before that, the moon and the stars and the silent, mysterious breath of creation.

Writing came second to cave drawings, the first primordial expression of the human spirit.

I’m a writer who visualizes my thoughts, words and characters in my head. I make sense of issues by painting pictures of images which touch the deeper meaning of language and cut to the quick of our universal soul, despite my love of profanity and preference for clarity with regard to all things prefunctory.

It’s quite a process really, and it takes a damn long time to create the image, and then go back and pack it neatly into a package of language.

I don’t avoid direct questions. I just avoid answering them right away, because often direct questions are asked at critical crossroads, and at critical moments. I believe that we instinctively know what we need to do at these times. Overthinking really just mucks it all up.

Instinct rules in the moment. You may not consider it the right intellectual or emotional tool  for the long-term, but in the moment it often works best, and I’m ok with that. If you’re ok in the moment, you’ve got a firm foundation from which to navigate. That’s more than most folks, and a beautifully secure place to begin any journey.

Sometimes you know where you want to go, and it’s all smooth sailing. Sometimes you also know that conditions may not be just right. That means you change course, enjoy the view, and make discoveries at the mercy of the breeze. Why waste energy fighting it when you have so much to learn? Besides, you know want you want and where you’re going. Be a lover not a fighter darlings, it’s better for your skin.

When it comes to communicating with me, with a writer, with someone who entertains and quite enjoys having a Willy-Wonka mind,  it must be frustrating, fascinating and inspiration for many WTF’s. I would offer apologies, but I’m not sorry. I like who I am.

If you or your conversation is not significant to me, I’m direct, concise and clear with my language.

If you are part of my heart, if your very existence resonates in my bones, and my soul smiles when I think of you, let’s just put it this way; you’re gonna have to take a seat, order a nice, slow cocktail and settle in for the duration. Hell, order one for me while you’re at it. My thoughts will reveal themselves to you, me, and us, after a long slow unfolding on the canvas.

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Planning Ahead & Being Prepared

camp coffeeWe plan for everything. Generally speaking we plan ahead for everything that could go wrong.

You know, health insurance, emergency phone numbers programmed into our phones, an extra bottle of bourbon on the back shelf just in case.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve had a life of planning ahead; planning for this, that or the other thing. Sure I’ve planned for holidays, lunches with the ladies or romantic evenings of carnal bliss, but I’ve never had the luxury of planning for something wonderful.

Until now.

And it’s a strange feeling darlings. Strange as in; Yowsa! Holy smokers! I’m so happy I could cry…

When your 40 years of living have taught you that the most wise fallback is a door that only you have the key to, and suddenly you realize that’s changed, well darlings, it can throw even the most guarded of ladies off-balance.

I’m not sure whether to issue the command to fetch mamma her bourbon or break open the champagne from the art deco chaise lounge where my psyche rests in my wee, but very ornate girl-brain.

It’s a man darlings. Yes, it’s a mere flesh and blood man who has me peeking inside a life that has suddenly cracked open, exposing all of the precious treasures of sentiment that have been so well hidden away for so very long.

I do not use the term man lightly my juicy little plums. You see, boys and guys and nicknamed personas have pranced through my life like a summer holiday parade; all dazzling spectacle and curiosity. They’re the kind of people you bring a lawn chair for, and pack up and leave when the band stops playing. no anxiety

Men don’t require you to do that. Men swing wide the doors of a woman’s heart and set up camp.  No worries, no drama, no grand, sweeping gestures. It just happens and it’s good. Just. Like. That.

So here I am with the life that I’ve always hoped for. Job – check. Kiddo responsible and ready to launch – check. Lifetime friendships – check. Man who has set up camp and has the coffee pot on while I get lost in my hair-brained writer’s mind – check.

You can plan all you want for the what-if’s, but I don’t think you can plan when it comes to matters of the heart, and that’s a good thing. A very good thing.

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Looking a Gift Horse In the Mouth & Other Adult Dysfunction

dandelionsunshineWe were driving from somewhere to somewhere when my sweetie laughed and said, ” I never look a gift horse in the mouth”.

“I like to wedge an incision spreader in good and snug and take a thorough look around,” I answered. And I wasn’t kidding.

Sometimes in life, a gift horse is also a swift-kick-in-the-arse-horse. Sometimes, a gift horse is also just a gift horse.

Although I’m a big fan of ‘going with your gut’, I also over think to the point of being able to navigate my local LCBO with my eyes closed. Don’t judge me, we all have our casual therapists.

Matters of the heart and our logical minds are caught in an eternal tug-of-war. The good news is that it keeps us balanced. The bad news is, that when one breaks the other, either our mind or heart ends up in the muck.

The problem seems to be that when the real gift-horse comes galloping into our middle-aged lives, we’re so afraid of another nasty surprise that we only see the gift-horse as another fast-moving disruption with the potential for destruction.

It’s easy to roll up our empathetic sleeves and sport scars from the past. It’s a lot harder to see someone simply as they are; fully human and fallible.

Which brings me to unconditional love. Nonsense. There is no such thing. I won’t get into the gory possibilities, but let’s just agree to agree and leave it at that.

Love and trust are choices, often made with the heart. Which, by the way, is completely healthy. Somewhere, somehow , we came to discredit the value of emotional intelligence and trusting our own balanced decision-making.

We choose love as we choose not to love. It is that simple.

Love and trust exist not as absolutes, but as elements of the human condition which exist on a continuum, often teetering dangerously high and low, causing our minds and hearts to react. Balance is a tension not easily achieved, and sometimes highly over-rated. A little bit of bat-shit crazy can go a long way toward jerking your head out of your ass darlings. It’s not gentle, but it’s effective.

It’s ok to be happy, and it’s ok to be sad. Just as it’s ok to be angry, silly, afraid, lustful, curious and head-over-heels in love.

It’s rare we can be in the moment, present, and open to communication without dragging a boatload of what-if’s and once-upon-a-time-someone-screwed-me-over stories into the mix.

Look a gift horse in the mouth if you must, but don’t let it run away without saying thank you. Also, keep bubbles in the fridge in case you need to either soothe the wounds or toast a beautiful gift from the universe.