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Advice for the New Year

IrishBlessing8x10It’s time for the old year to retire.

He’s lounging in a smoking jacket with his slippered feet up, and a tumbler of bourbon to help clear the path of reflection.

New Year’s resolutions have always seemed a little silly, and a lot naïve to me. It’s the same with people who say they’re, ‘finding themselves’ or trying to figure out ‘who they are’.

I don’t make resolutions any more. Not even secret ones just for myself. I simply try to find joy and silliness in every aspect of my life; work, parenting, friendship, love and yes, even housework.

If you are joyful, you become friends with yourself pretty damn quickly. Your body enjoys the kindness and you start eating and exercising  naturally. Your work becomes a calling, and your relationships are a calm ocean where you can relax and refresh yourself.

We are born knowing ourselves. We tend to allow expectation and adulthood fog the landscape. During adolescence we seek approval from people who value meaningless things, and often never grow out of it.

If you’re busy looking for the next ego fix, you certainly can lose track of who you are and what makes your soul smile.

Ah, but not I. I’m one of the lucky ones. Life has rocked my boat and I’ve sprung a few leaks over the years, but I’ve held fast to my convictions and personal ethic.

Being a better person means being  true to yourself, having the courage to do what’s right and not what’s cool.

Wishing you a joyful and peaceful transition into another calendar year. Be good to yourself, and choose joy.

Let the old year finish the bourbon and welcome the beautiful new year as the gracious, happy, loving lady that she is.

 

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Christmas: The Perfect Time to ‘Find Yourself’

vmask
What you see is what you get.
I had an interesting conversation tonight. Interesting in that I’ve heard it a zillion times from a zillion people; “I’m finding myself”.

Which, by virtue of the ability to be found, means that some element of oneself, was, indeed, thought to have been  lost.

After very little thought, and perhaps a dash too much  judgement, I came to the conclusion that those who have felt lost were not lost, but sold.

Sold as in; sold the big ol’ American dream. They have bought into the who, what, where, when and why of existence as deemed necessary by our completely make-believe economy. After all darlings, Just like Saint Nick, if you believe, it must be real.

Someone pass my wine….

What I think ‘finding’ one’s self truly means is that people find themselves in an unexpected solitude. Finally they have the space and time necessary to contemplate  mundane aspects of their life which have previously been taken for granted.

Daily routine for instance, or whether or not they like a certain type of music, sex, or art.

Finding oneself is often accomplished in the reflection of solitude against companionship; the interaction between contemplation and practice.

Finding oneself in the moment is all that there really is. What better time to practice than Christmas time, when we are often time and energy stretched and prone to  participate in more social interaction?

The present moment is where you will always find yourself. And you rarely find yourself the same way twice. Learning this will help you honour who you  are in each precious moment, in each exchange of energy with your colleagues, friends, relatives and lovers.

This is where your mask slips, allowing you see your reflection, frowning or smiling just as you are. Who you are is who you are, in each, precious moment.

 

 

 

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Random Thoughts on This Mild December Night

elfonshelfRandom thoughts from a relaxed mind;

  1. It makes me sad that sarcasm has replaced wit and intelligence. It’s a cheap and pathetic substitute.
  2. The Christmas spirit may not be strong this year, but I have much to be thankful for every day. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel Christmasy. I’m just happier than I was ten years ago, so the gap between every day and ‘Christmas-spirit’ is practically non-existent.
  3. Despite having had a run-in with a sociopathic, fraudulent twat of a man this year, I still do, really love men.
  4. Champagne is going to replace bourbon for a while.
  5. Dating in my 40’s is more fun than it’s ever been because I’m way happier with who I am.
  6. I want a red sweater.
  7. An 80’s themed hairdo might be in order for my boxing day date.
  8. It’s been too long since I went on a Saturday night bender and kicked someone out at 3 a.m.
  9. Professional waxing is worth every, single, penny.
  10. Nice still wins in my book over hot, sarcastic and mean.
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Holiday Cheer: DIY

Christmas_Ornaments_2013_Homemade_Diy_Xmas_Ornaments_Crafts_and_Designs-10No one gets a writer like writer’s get a writer.

You see, we think much differently than most folks. We narrate our interactions in our heads, we make you into interesting caricatures of your own selves while you talk to us and generally, get lost in our own, wild and wonderful imaginations.

We need to pick one another’s brains once in a while to figure out this crazy ride of life.

Having just posted a social media countdown to retirement from a tenured media career, a bourbon swilling pal of mine has chosen his urban nest, and it suits him well.

I, on the other hand, am trying to understand the ’40 is the new 30′ bullshit that hipsters are trying to prove with bacteria infested beards and Ginsbergesque eyewear.

We debated my soon-to-be empty-nester situation. Do I make a move to the serenity of the country, or do I plan to live in the beauty of a vibrant city with a twenty-four hour buzz?

To arrive for our rendez-vous, I drove from my job in the land of blue and white Hanukkah decorations, into the heart of the city’s fashion district with bright lights and Christmas trees lit in every window, to the throbbing centre where cultures of the world gather on the same doorstep.

As we sat in a grand hall we reminisced about our visits to Musee D’Orsay. We gulped our  wine and listened to a string quartet play Debussy’s, Claire De Lune and Carlos Gardel’s, Tango Por Una Cabeza.

Life can be so diffult when one has friends who can get together for an impromptu string quartet, gourmand nibbles (amuse-bouche gingerbread rounds the size of a quarter topped with chicken liver pate and figs) and intellectual contemplation of what’s next.

In order to move forward, one must step back, so we played, ‘year in review’. In other words, we looked at what a torrid shitshow my love life has been up to this moment in time. We also looked at what a torrid shitshow most people’s love lives are, but guilded with a very thin layer of, it’s-ok-because-we’re-too-scared-to-go-after-what-we-really-want.

Which brought us to the magic of life.  Which, essentially, fades away like the weird and surprisingly wonderful aftertaste of chicken liver pate atop gingersnaps with figs.

In order to take a bite out of life, you have to be continually open to tasting whatever happens to be on the menu that day instead of ordering the same old thing.

The magic fades, and we get stuck in a rut. It fades away, but it doesn’t completely die. There is always a small spark, sputtering somewhere. You just have to have faith that when you exhale, your breath will give the spark enough oxygen to come to life again.

At this age and stage, there is no breathtaking excitement about first kisses, cars, loves, homes or jobs. We’ve been there. Done it. Done it wrong. Done it right, and then realized that there is no wrong or right. There is simply doing one’s best.

So this Christmas, if you feel the magic has died, you must take it upon yourself to create your own magic and your own joy.

Surround yourself with people who inspire you. Take a few risks and put yourself out there. Make time to have conversations with people who are older than you, younger than you, educated differently, from different cultures and faith groups.

As the two of us writers discussed our ages and stages, we contemplated just how very well we would do touring the pubs in Dublin and our favourite writing haunts in Paris. I plotted my holidays and timing and wondered just what adventure, near or far, might remind me that the world is still a place of wonder and inspiration.

There is still magic out there to be found in this living beyond your youth and innocent mystery. You just have to nurture that tiny spark so you can feel even more deeply the joy, love and hope you did when the world was fresh and unfolding in front of you for the first time.

You have to be willing to pop that little morsel of ungodly flavours in your mouth and see how you like it. As every Grandmother since the dawn of time has said, “You won’t know if you like it unless you try it.”

This Christmas, if you feel there is no more magic left, you must create it yourself. You must venture into the wilderness of the unknown. You must  do it yourself.

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Malls: A Little Bit of Christmas Hell

santafeetupToday, for some unknown reason, I headed into what I know to be one of my very own, personal hells. The shopping mall.

I’ve been overworked and under inspired for a couple of weeks, so I thought that if I just got out, maybe my mood would pick up.

Oh, I’m soooo funny.

The first mall we went to was out of the one-and-only Christmas present that I had yet to purchase. It was also out of my favourite perfume, which I had decided to buy myself because, well, it’s one of my daily indulgences.

Anyway, off we went to mall number two, the Mecca-of-Malls to find what I had set out for.

Parking. Yah, it’s a little like survival of the fittest among the most ruthless and uncaring pack on the planet; consumer-driven humans.

As I backed my little car in to a parking spot, two more cars came at either side as if they were heat seeking missiles.  Walking thought the parking lot, a little silver sports car swerved to miss hitting us, and then the passenger swung open her door and hit me in the legs.

I was officially in a bad mood. Worse than when I started out.

We found the one gift we still needed and were tempted to stop for a lazy meal in the food court.  It was a sea of weary shoppers stuffing themselves while stuffed together at cramped tables, bags and coats and little kids falling all over.

No one looked happy.  Not one.

After a quick look at the food court scene, we decided to skip a quick meal and find somewhere we could relax. The other thought that went through our heads was that shopping malls all decked out for the holidays with wall to wall people who celebrate Christmas are likely not the safest place any more. You know, with terrorists going on shooting sprees.

I was careful to be friendly, patient and wish every cashier a very merry Christmas.  I was also very careful to get in and out as quickly as possible given that shopping malls are not my idea of merry.

People from the entrance of the parking lot to the heart of the materialistic mecca looked strained. There didn’t seem to be any peace, joy or love happening.

This reinforced my year’s old tradition of not shopping in December, keeping gifts to a minimum and time with loved-ones at a maximum.

I have to admit that I enjoyed watching my son carefully choose his gift for his girlfriend. I liked the flavoured coffee I picked up and I enjoyed the feeling of not needing or wanting much.

Tonight with my feet up, the Christmas tree lights twinkling, and the garland on the mantle  I’m feeling more Christmasy than I have in a while, satisfied with who I am and what I have. Maybe I needed a little Christmas Mall-hell to appreciate the woman I’ve become.

 

 

 

 

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Home for the Holidays; Wherever Your Heart Is

wanderingI’ve lived in this place too long. Perhaps I’ve just lived in my own head for too long with very little meaningful companionship.

Christmas is a time of reflection. We tend to let our minds wander to our relationships with the people and places we love.  As I do that, I realize that I’m at home nowhere and everywhere all at the same time.

As a child, I never felt at home when I was at home. That helped me cultivate feeling at home within myself, wherever I landed, or lived.

“I could never live in the city,” or “I could never live way out in the boonies, ” are the common things people say when we talk about the benefits and drawbacks of city vs. small-town living.

More common at this time of year is; “What did you ask for, for Christmas.”

To which I think a very mature and calm, “WTF”?

Seriously, at this age is there anything a person really needs?  I have everything I need, so what could I possibly want that anyone other than myself can give me?

Sure, I want my every-day luxuries; my favourite French perfume, champagne in the fridge, a good book, a formal dress, good shoes, and a piece or two of very fine chocolate hidden away for emergencies. But I look after that myself darlings.

Right now, what I want is to run away.

The question is from what and why?

In my experience it’s because I’m searching for fulfillment. Looking for somewhere I feel more at home than home. It’s happened a few times, but I’ve been pulled back by responsibility.

At this  mid-life juncture,  I can’t move, and I can’t afford to take half a year off to find myself in a sailboat on the Caribbean sea, or wandering the cobblestone streets of old Europe.

I’m counting down to when I might throw this city living in, and hide away in the country by a lake. Or perhaps I’ll move to the heart of a city, ditch the car and commute for a bachelor pad and a subscription to the theatres.

In order to fully think all of my options through, I might need to pack my trusty carry-on and make a last minute skip across the pond.

Who knows how this wanderlust and dissatisfaction with life will play itself out.  It’s the classic theme that literature reflects so well; leaving home to find yourself.

Since my nature to nurture is not being fully realized as a singleton, maybe it’s time to go on an adventure to mine the joy I know is hidden somewhere deep within myself, make a plan, and have something to look forward to.

This Christmas, one of my wishes for you is that  you find yourself at home, wherever you are.

 

 

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Christmas is For Friendship

elcatrin.png
I had the pleasure of getting out for dinner/dessert with a handful of people whom I don’t get to see too often.

We agreed on a place and a time, and enjoyed an evening at a gorgeous restaurant.

Life is busy, and as I get older, I prioritize my free time very carefully. Well, at least I try.

Many times I’ve heard that getting together at Christmas time is hypocritical. That the Christmas spirit is bogus. That if you can’t make time the rest of the year, why bother at Christmas time?

I’ll tell you why. It’s a damn good reminder that there is more to life than work, bills and wishing you were living on a secluded island with a muscular, pool-boy who who knows how to shake a mean margarita.

It’s a good goose on the bum to motivate you to make plans.

So, tonight was a kick-off to what I hope will be a season of cozy catch-ups over coffee, boozy brunches with the gals and lingering dinners with friends.

Tonight, as I sat listening to, and talking with my friends, I realized just how fortunate I am to have people in my life who are genuine, kind, and more intellectually and spiritually evolved than the general public.

I’ve come to beware of people who zap my energy and I know my personal boundaries.

So rest assured, if I’m spending time with you, I not only like you, I respect you. Ok, ok, I admit that I do spend time with some folks for the sheer entertainment value they provide. Use your imagination…

My wish for you this Christmas is the same as my wish for me; that you have enough time to spend with your friends to refresh your soul, and enough entertainment to keep some fire in your soul.