Bed As Battlefield & Tempting Invitations

holding handsMore than I hate crying, I hate crying in front of anyone, and that’s exactly what I did. I was in the middle of reprimanding myself for letting my heart win out over my head.

Goodness knows darlings, that fabulous women certainly do not put themselves in precarious emotional situations. Vulnerability is for the weak, and the lord knows we aren’t weak. Delicate maybe, but not weak.

I had fallen into a trap of my own making, having made an exception to one of my rules-of-romantic-engagement. Feeling frustrated, angry, and foolish, tears came, and my stomach knotted. Making my way back from a good-old-fashioned-anxiety-provoked-puke, I decided to turn off my head and try and get some rest.

Seriously, who needs the heartache??? Who needs this shit?

And then the room lit up with the faint light of the magical smartphone. A late message is one of three things in my home; an urgent message from the kiddo, a friend’s cry for help, or an old lover reaching out for whatever-it-is-they-miss-when-they’ve-overindulged.

In this case it was behind door number three. An old lover I’ve known as long as one of my oldest friends. “You have been on my mind. Just wondering how you’re doing and if you’re ok. Let’s get together soon.”

Let’s get together soon you say?  Ooh-la-la.

This little out-of-the-blue text got me to thinking. Really, who does need the heartache? A delightfully romantic date and a steamy romp are always only a phone call away when you’ve reigned over the land of Singledom,  back-up lists, younger men and full-time-on-call lovers longer than any of your gal-pals.  Choose your poison ladies, and they show up on the doorstep with whatever your heart desires, and an appetite for everything that’s deliciously bad for you.

My thoughts turned from reprimanding myself and repeating in head the mean words my sweetheart had uttered and over again, to the various and sundry shenanigans that I had been exquisitely escorted through on the arm of my rather storybook suitors. Not. Too. Shabby.

Keeping close to my side of the bed-turned-battlefield,  I asked myself again, “Who needs this relationship-heartache shit?”
 

 

 

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Cloud-Watching; Dreaming Back to Life

clouds

We are all music makers and the dreamers of dreams.

A brown painted fence. A gnarled and sprawling crabapple tree. The sky. Blue like the lake that was just a short walk away; always changing, wide open, endless and without possibility. This was the sky that was the object of my meditation as a child. It was second only to the endless landscape of water which met the horizon, always leaving me feeling full of hope, like the world had so much to offer.

In my grandparents side yard, facing a brown-painted fence, with my bum resting on the criss-crossed vinyl weave of lawnchair mesh, my bare feet dangling, not able to touch the ground, I would let my head fall back so I could take in the changing shape of the clouds.

Often my granny would be sitting next to me in deep daydream mode.Through squinted eyese, I could see airplanes  break up the serenity  of the sky, or the confusion of clouds twist and reform over and over again. Old before my time from witnessing so much of the of the broken world of adults, I remember often saying, “Granny, I wish I were on that airplane going somewhere far away.”  And just as often,  she would reach out her hand to mine and matter-of-factly reply, ” Me too. But you know, you always have to come back. No matter where you go, you always come back“.

I was never one hundred percent sure what she meant by that, but it made me just a little bit uncomfortable. I liked to think that one day I could just pack and up leave without coming back for anything, ever.As an adult, I know that she’s right. The things that we want to escape from and the things that keep us up at night, travel with us wherever we go; loss, love, fear and joy. They are silent, uninvited, travel companions.

This morning I had a rare opportunity to wake without an alarm. But I did wake with alarm. A difficult dream, but not horrific enough to drop in the bucket of nightmares. Dreaming now is left to rare moments when I forget my obligations, or when I wake slowly, aware that I’m dreaming, but not yet fully awake.

Quite often when our minds wander, daydreaming, lucid dreaming, or dreaming during our sleep cycles, they either bring great escape and offer wish fulfilment, or they take us back to unresolved elements of our life that dare rap on the door of consciousness for some attention. Such was the case this morning.

We are all still the child who daydreamed at the way the wispiness of the clouds changed shape from seashell to fire breathing dragon. We  all carry universal fears and dreams in our tender hearts.

I have learned that my granny was right though. No matter what I do; degrees attained, professional accolades, adventures sought and conquered, we all have to come back. We come back to our own selves, time and time again; vulnerable, fearful, curious, and always looking for the tiniest spark of hope.

 

 

Nice Luggage, Let Me Burn It For You

burning luggagePart of my spring ( and sometimes fall ) ritual is heading off to a silent, spiritual retreat. Lead by monastics, it’s an opportunity to sit with my own thoughts, emotions and reflection.

For most participants it’s a bit gruelling, myself included. It’s not the silence that we struggle with, it’s the constant clanging of our own thoughts echoing relentlessly in our own minds.

Silent, solitary reflection leaves no room to escape one’s own bullshit, as it were. There are many silent tears, some not so silent weeping, but much joy in having a sangha to practice with.

Trying to be a better person isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s a daily effort, and a life-long journey. I’m better than I used to be, but boy oh boy, do I ever eff it all up sometimes too.

And I’m not alone in the eff-ing it all up. We all do it. Because we’re all human, and we’re all afraid of something.

Today I wanted to go get a puppy, eat Captain Crunch cereal for breakfast, and go out to stomp in the mud without combing my hair. In other words darling, I wanted to be a kid; A carefree, do what I pleased individual, immune from consequences. I wanted to escape.

Escape from what? I lead a rather charmed life, I’ve cultivated an image of  independent-do-as-I-pleaseness, and lots of women are a bit jealous of it. But it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s a hard thing to change, this hard-won, Teflon veneer, (and just as hard on my sweetie), and quite frankly darlings, I’m way overdue for a change.

Alas, this morning I did not do any of those things that would have been escape-like. Instead, I made breakfast, threw a load of laundry in, and stared at my tired eyes in the bathroom mirror before sighing a big sigh and convincing myself to let it go and get on with my day.

In my previous post, Spring Road Tripping, I wrote about the rare sound of the laughter of friends. It seems that as adults, we’ve all over-packed and prepared an arsenal of protective gear  for our futures, based on past wounds. Whether you’re thinking the key to lifelong happiness is building a wall to keep everyone out,  blaming someone else for your own mistakes, or simply burying your head in the sand, rest assured, you’re only buying into your own bullshit. So don’t bring along a wardrobe for it.

Bullshit in a  frock is still bullshit. No one deserves to be judged based on someone else’s behaviour, no matter how you tart it up. Last night I did it, and my sweetie did it, and from the sounds of it, we’re not alone.

Time to let that shit go lovelies. For me, you, and everyone.

Can you enter into each interaction with a sense of generosity?”  That was the quote of the day, and immediately I thought, “Can I enter into each interaction and let all of my fears, baggage and hurt, go?” I figure if we can let that go, there’s really no other intent than generosity. If we can let that go, there’s really no expectation.

It’s the same for a lot of people. Can we enter into each interaction without casting a shadow from the past on something unspoiled, true and good? Can we?

Fear seems to be the beast, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been letting it get the best of me lately, when really, I should be rejoicing.

Life is good. Love is good. I think that’s all I should carry with me on the next stage of this strange and mysterious journey. That, and a little bit of emergency chocolate. Pass me a match and that bag over there, will you?

Spring Road Tripping; Spotting the Elusive Adult Smile

flapperI’ve been  mulling some things over in my mind for a few days (and really, I’m just too pretty to have to think that hard), so I decided to call a pal for a little perspective.

Said pal has been slogging through the dark and mysterious land of the Bad-Relationshipdom for quite some time. When I got to thinking of it, it wasn’t only her that seems to be trapped in some-such-miserable-sexless-relationship-conundrum.

How long,” I thought to myself, ” has it been since I heard my friends really laugh?”

Much too long.

The gal-pal I called today is one of my closest friends (we can talk about anything without shame), I’ve been really worried about her. Somewhere along the way someone stole her chutzpah, and she was so worn out, I thought she’d never really get it back.

But today she picked up the phone, excited about a recent connection a-la-bad-boy, whom, according a few of our mutual friends, must meet me. The female equivalent of his badassery of course.

What was wonderful about the conversation was that she laughed. I could hear the joie de vivre in her voice again, and I knew that she had not been completely eaten up by the chasm of misery known as a bad, relationship.

Later on I received a text from another pal who recently packed up and moved in with the love of his life. They extended an invitation to visit, and sent along some pretty appealing photos of a pub next-door to their new digs, which boasted a pretty damn tempting whiskey collection. He was exhausted from the work of moving….but happy. I pictured them snuggled up at the bar, cozy in one another’s arms, and smiling.

Another pal who has witnessed many of my libertarian nights turn into hung-over mornings sent a quick text saying he was in town and going to pop by work.

As a wild-child turned adult, I often feel that I miss the shenanigans I once was so famous for. I miss hearing the joy, excitement and silliness in my friend’s voices as they talk about their lives.

Today their joy was mine, and I knew that as sure as spring is around the corner, so are a few road trips. It’s time to hit the road and make some memories.

 

More Chances to Fly & More Places to Fall

vintage-smokingIt seemed like a lifetime ago that I lay awake in the dark, staring at a vast, chasm of nothing, and feeling about the same.  Dr.Hook blared somewhere on a CD,

“I’ve got a couple more years on you babe, that’s all…”

More than likely there were tears involved. Perhaps some contraband vodka, as those were the early days.  This was before I realized that my heart wasn’t broken, I was just being nostalgic.

Ah yes, a couple more years on you babe. I’ve reached an age where it’s not the years, but the experience that makes all the difference, and boy oh boy, do I have experience.

Get your head out of the gutter, I’m not talking about thigh-wrapping-lip-locking-giddy-up-experience. I’m talking about the good stuff; love, loss, overcoming adversity, and enough street-smarts to not really give a hairy rat’s patooty what anyone thinks.

It’s grand darlings, it really is.

Stretched out alone in the darkness as a very young woman, I thought about the love and loss I’d endured from those sinfully delightful men-folk in my life who did, at that time,  have a couple more years on me. Back then I never knew that there would be nostalgia on the other side of youth, or that I would feel like the one who had a couple more years on you babe…that’s all.

It ain’t that I’m wiser, it’s only that I’ve spent more time with my back to the wall

Nostalgia is a quick rose-coloured glasses fix on the past, and not so much the grand master of being in the moment. And that’s all we have darlings. This moment.

But sometimes, in the moment, one must realize that being rooted in personal authenticity, and staying flexible enough to bend with the ever-present winds of change is a balancing act that never ends.

Which means, that someone, somewhere, has always got a couple more, or less years on you babe. That’s all.

 

 

Hipster Economics and the Politics of Place

  Walking a short stretch of Queen Street East today, I wondered where exactly we all fit in to this crazy world. How do all of these loosely woven threads come together to form the fabric of a city?

Within a block, I passed trendy restaurants, proudly puffing their chests boasting, “Leslieville” signs, while any number of homeless men passed me by, eyes boring through people as if to say, ” I know who you really are”.

It’s a strange, strange world, where I’m convinced that hipsters perpetuate their own livelihoods, reinforcing their own egos to the point that it’s like neighbourhoods have devolved into oompa-loompa economic viability and no one knows the value of a dollar any more.

High end stores bragging organic-sugar filled products (yah, folks, that’s still sugar), offer gourmet-organic-dog-biscuits at the door for substitute-child-pets. Just around the corner, a man pushing a grocery cart fingers a parking meter for change and stumbles on, south, toward the lake.

Myself, I wander in and out of shops, and witness all of this craziness of life happening around me.

Somehow we all fit; the owners of an over-valued detached home with an adorable over-sized garden gnome at the front entrance, the homeless guy in a toque who walks by me but just half-an-hour ago was in a wheelchair with his hat held out to beg for my change, the well-groomed-pure-bred dogs wagging their tails tied to firehydrants with over-priced leashes.

Off to a bar that boasts outstanding margaritas and a menu of Mexican/Asian food…who knew the twain should ever meet?

Yes, this is the world that we live in, and it works. For the most part it works.

OM & A Sharp Tongue

pointy endFor someone who goes on and on about kindness and spirituality, I can be a bit of a bitch. Just a tiny bit. Sometimes…

A ‘bitch’ in the best sense of the word darlings, of course. Only in the most fabulous way. Or not.

It all depends on perspective.

The long and the short of it is that I let frustration get the best of me a few days ago, and well, as the story goes, someone caught hell from the pointy end of my sharp tongue.

Besides feeling a touch of regret for not just turning tail and heading home with my mouth shut and my temper tamed in the simmering pot of my mind, I felt a bit silly for not knowing my own limits.

Being treacherously independent means pushing the envelope of one’s limits, and that my juicy little plums, is my speciality. Too much obligation and nary a shenanigan makes a lady crazy.

There’s nothing better than waking up without the wail of an alarm clock, stretching out in the decadent bliss of a soft, warm bed, and deciding, without obligation to father-time, what to make of the day.

I don’t do enough of that, and that’s precisely what energizes little- old-bourbon-drinking me. This is the attitude that has carried me rather blissfully through many a day when life was scary and lonely, and exciting all at the same time.

So, here’s to being able to keep my mouth shut,my mind open, and my wildness untamed.

Communal Solitude; Listening to Your Mind

steaming-cup-of-teaI woke up this morning in pain from a massage yesterday. No, he wasn’t an amateur and yes, I’m that tense.

Life is a grand adventure, and I gear up for it every day. I whole-heartedly do my work, enter into my relationships as a parent, friend, professional and lover with gusto. I live to live, and I think everything is pretty damn funny.

Except when it comes to keeping my own ship afloat, and it’s been hard crewing a single craft for so long. Stress over time is kind of like dirt. Eventually it gets pretty ground in, and it starts to wear things out.

I’m a solitary soul when it comes to sorting out my own thoughts and emotions. I’ve decided that I need more quiet time than the average super-model. I need to to watch where my mind wanders, and to understand who I am and how I show up in the world every day.

Meditation throughout the years has developed into an instinctual practice. Early mornings are my quiet time to observe my mind, express gratitude, and sort myself out. I haven’t had much of that quiet time lately, so it is with great relief that I prepare to head out on my annual silent retreat. It’s time for a shift in habit and the way that I do things to make room in my life for other wonderful things that perhaps I’ve denied myself too long.

Silence can be a powerful motivator, an advisor, and a bit daunting. But I’ve learned to love what it offers; the tears, the deep joy, and the comfort of being surrounded by people who find value in the same communal solitude.

 

Decluttering; Physical Space for Our Spiritual Mojo

letitgoChange is the only constant. It’s one of those cliché sayings which sings a universal truth.

As a professional in the area of saying good-bye, I’ve had most of my adult life to contemplate what change and loss mean. I’ve discovered after all of this time and all of the practice I’ve had waving bon voyage to life, that I’m neither good nor bad dealing with my own emotions. I’m merely human.

I’m about three months late here getting to my annual decluttering.  I tend to start at the back of our little abode, and work my way to the front.  My walk-in-closet has become a repository for stuff I’m not ready to say a final adieu, and craft projects that moved with me here over eight years ago.

So often we equate loss to death or divorce, or the careers that build up our egos. But loss is as shapeshifter, forever appearing and then becoming invisible in our lives. It’s there, like music at the dentist’s office; for the most part you don’t hear it over your whirring mind, but every once in a while you notice the sound of the piano, or pan flute, and it either irritates the hell out of you, or lifts your spirits. Either way, it’s there.

One of my projects is to sift through a pile of photo albums. By pile I mean about 30 books.  They’re all little tickle-trunks of memory and persona that myself and my loved ones have tried on over the years.

It’s time to say good-bye to those things.  Keeping a few photos to pass along to my kiddo, and tossing the rest will not only give me more space, but also release some of the tidbits of  old memories that cling like dust-bunnies to my identity.

This morning I had a brief chat about building new relationships and not dragging shit from the past into them. That’s something I’ve become good at – not reliving my many adventures in man-land. At this stage, I do not want to punish any man for someone else’s behaviour, nor do I wish to relive any of my past relationships with anyone else. I certainly am not ready for a starring role as spectator to someone else’s ended love-affair. I’m too old for that darlings, and frankly, it’s a little dull.

At this age and stage, after all of my life experience, I appreciate true love, laughter, silliness and shenanigans. Kindness is king, and nice matters.

Decluttering is often the physical evidence of letting go of the past, and being able to step unencumbered into the present moment. Spiritually it’s a cleanse, and it re-invigorates us.

With the release of physical items that hold the energy of past experience, I often feel lighter, more grounded in who I am and what I’m about.  I also have room for fresh, new clothes and fresh, new adventures. There may even be some space in there for new memories that we declutter years from now, smiling and happy in our hearts about remembering-when.

 

 

Stop: When Your Body Calls Bullshit

strongmanEvery  morning when I wake up I say a little prayer.

First I say thank you for waking up to another day. Second of all, I ask that I be given the grace and strength to get through the day and do good work.

I pull my body from my soft, warm bed, and wonder at the rhythm of my crazy life, and how much my mind and body have endured.

Years ago I received the best piece of health care advice I think I’ll ever receive in my life, ” Our body’s natural state is one of health.”

I decided then and there that this was one sure truth in life, and that I would never forget it.

But stress is a curious beast isn’t it? Sometimes serpent like, it can twist and turn and wind itself along every peaceful neural pathway of your body and seize up the works.  Your body recognizes bullshit, and when it has enough of you trying to be Superwoman, it will let you know. It will succumb to the constricting nature of stress in order to get your attention.

Quite often my stress level reaches the emergency state without me ever even noticing. My life has been a series of struggles to get by, and enjoying everything that I can on the way. It’s a fine balance really, this being independent, but it seems to have been worth it.

Every once in a while I realize that my life is out of balance. I’m stretched too thin in every way, trying to be everything to everybody, somehow losing myself in the mix. The things that I do to relax, and that energize me fall by the wayside; writing, running, stitching, coffee and girl-talking.

Usually by the time I admit that I’m feeling fatigued, my body is one-step ahead, fully in the gnarled grip of stress. And when that happens darlings, I simply don’t half-ass it. Nope. My body completely raises the white flag of surrender and stops me in my tracks. It basically calls bullshit on my nonsense priorities.

When our ego pushes us too far, our bodies are a great barometer for forecasting our limits. Our bodies refuse us in order to maintain that natural state of health.

I had a wake-up call this week, and now I need to pay attention. Once again I will straddle the great teeter-tauter of adult life, and try to balance my physical, spiritual, creative and emotional needs again. All of this while trying to keep a single income household going. Yes, life can be circus like around here. It’s nothing if not entertaining.

No one ever said that life was easy, but I’m telling you right now, when you can slow down to appreciate all that you have, each day is a little celebration of joy.

If you share in my  struggle to find a bit of balance, I’ll let you in on a secret. Each week I try to make time for the elements of my life that bring me joy and replenish my energy;  spiritual practice, creative pursuits, physical exercise, social interaction with people who do not zap my energy, and rest.

Set these things in your calendar. Make time. Breathe. Get lost in the things that bring you energy and joy. I promise, just like your body, life will balance itself out, and it will be good.