Saying Good-Bye to Christmas: A Beautiful Mess

peaceIn the quiet stillness of the-day-after, I sit alone looking at the lights on the Christmas tree.

The house is finally empty and I have my first few minutes alone.

Putting together the holiday for everyone feels like nothing short of a miracle some years, but this year was different. I was happier and more relaxed. Exhausted still, at this point, I am spent.

The evidence is all around; an errant ribbon on the table, a Shriner’s fruitcake card atop a red velvet jewellers box, gift tags that got left behind, a bottle of wine reflecting the lights on the tree. There is one gift bag left unopened, intended for someone who didn’t make it over in time for the festivities, and a piece of art behind the tree that the kiddo forgot to tuck away.

All of this beautiful mess here and there makes me happy. It is proof that family and friends were here, cozy, happy and fed well. Hopefully everyone felt connected and loved.

It’s over for another year, and perhaps, the beginning of some new traditions for everyone.

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Do You Know What We’re Going to Do Today?

spoilI do know.

As my sweetie shouts from the kitchen about what I should do before he packs up and heads home (clean out the fridge and send him on his way  with a care package of food), I chuckle to myself knowing that any and all shoulds are not be on the we agenda today.

Today I need to rest. Today, after days of cooking and fussing and making sure everyone had all of their favourite traditions honoured, we are heading to the spa, and we are going to dig in to creative work (aka my novel), and finish the day off with a hot bath, cozy flannel and the Kennedy Center Honours.

We have given up our life-affirming-soul-inspiring-love-of-storytelling, and we are getting it back today. Yay! Whatever you love, do that today and forget about the shoulds.

As a matter of fact, I’m quite certain that we are going to do nothing but recoup and rejuvenate ,however we feel appropriate. That means no pressure to do anything other than perhaps look civilized enough to scoot out for a pedicure and hopefully enough motivation to get to the gym.

For everyone out there who takes the lead on holiday preparation and execution of ritual, take some time for yourself today, and make sure we does exactly as we needs.

Santa & The Single Mom: Christmas Stress

unclelewis

Last night, while making a right hand turn at a busy intersection (during rush hour no less), I was so anxious having a little cry and panicking about paying the bills that I drove into a snow bank, went into auto-pilot and put the car in neutral, and then stepped on the gas (while still in neutral), and basically scared myself back to sanity. I did not shit my pants and I consider that a victory.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.

Any single parent knows how difficult it is to keep the ship afloat at home.  You finally get a little savings packed away, and voila, an emergency and then POOF, it’s gone. It feels like a really blue collar Harry Potter life without the magic of cool creatures.

No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on…

I love Christmas, and I love celebrating it. The reality is a single parent home is a vortex of anxiety and stress during the holidays. The best you can do is try to breathe deeply, and most importantly, remember that you always get through it. Always.

Now, getting through it this year has been a bit easier as we’ve had some exciting and positive distraction in our home thanks to my fabulously awesome kiddo.  I’ve also had a lot of practice throughout the years, so keeping that in mind helps to relax me a bit. If you have little ones at home, trust me; it gets easier. Not that the pressure eases, no, it actually gets worse. You become more graceful about it as the years pass if you try.

…and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.

The truth is I get through the holidays with a few vices. Tipples in my morning coffee when I don’t have to go to work or be out on the roads. Knowing I can play my ukulele for distraction despite how badly I suck at it. Baking, stitching, and staying under my cozy blankets on my days off for as long as possible to meditate by counting my blessings. Oh, a fabulous drug plan, and a  good therapist go a long, long, way to always having a ho-ho-hold the stress holiday.

Mostly though, it’s counting my blessings and appreciating all of the fabulously weird, wonderful and kind people that I am proud to call friends.

And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

New Year’s Resolutions for People Who Have Their Priorities Straight

winter-tableTime changes people. I’d like to think that it’s mellowed me and smoothed down some of the rough edges. Not all of them though, the coolest women I know have some pretty groovy edges.

Today I was snuggled in under my fluffy, white duvet, snuggled in between cozy flannel sheets coaxing myself to get up and press the button on the coffee maker when I got that little tapping glass signal that a text message had arrived.

It was from my best friend; The woman I met the first day of high school as we hunted for our new lockers and found ours side by side. We’ve been through a lot together, mostly in spirit and via telephone as we live at a distance from one another.  She never fails to make me smile, or let me know she cares, and I hope I do the same for her. When was I going to see her during the Christmas holidays…hmmm….good question. You see, I’m a mortician, and death is far too graceful to care about holiday time.

At this time of year, I am more aware than ever that I don’t see my friends as often as I would like; Vicki (my mumster) and her crazy sidekick Jim, Cindy and Jacques (my fabulously stylish friends), Virginia (the magic woman who is connected to the universe), Virginia (the crazy pet lady), Darleen (a woman who knows how to conjure the teenage girl in me), Carlo (a woman trapped in a man’s body with more empathy in his babyfingernail than most people have in six lifetimes), my cousin Mark ( one of the only people I share DNA with that I’m not ashamed to call family), my Auntie Penny ( a woman I admire for her zest for life and ability to mix a grand cocktail…. 

Instead of writing about not seeing the people who matter in my life, I think it might be the time to whip up some resolutions for the new year…

  1. Set up social time with all of the above listed people who matter in my life.

  2. Finish my second novel.

  3. Publish my first novel.

  4. Work toward my goal of getting out of this crazy cycle of socially accepted bullshit in order to live in the country in a house with a huge harvest table so all of my friends can gather on a regular basis for intelligent conversation, support and life affirming connection.

  5. Practice my ukulele more.

  6. Write more poetry.

Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares & What Every Man Needs to Remember at Christmas

christmas-tree-diamonds-19932765.jpgI’ve a had a few ‘precious’ moments this holiday season, (precious as in you’re-not-making-my-life-any-easier-in-any-way-shape-or-form-you-giant-whining-man-child). So this blog goes out to the gentlemen whom have inspired it.

I’m sure my  non-binary friends will find it in their hearts to excuse my battle of the sexes rant. I will use ‘he’ and ‘she’ liberally without committee debate regarding the political correctness of pronoun as I do believe that regardless of gender, partnership often becomes unbalanced in a mutiny-on-the-high-seas-kind-of-way.

Tonight my guy announced in true man-dumb fashion; “I hate having to go out shopping this week”. I did not give voice to my thoughts. No. Instead I sipped my pineapple cocktail and thanked the universe for booze and a great drug plan.

Christmas falls on the twenty-fifth of December every year dumbasses.

This is just a subtle reminder to men that, much like toilet paper and toothpaste, the holiday season isn’t delivered by fairies. You have to get off your ass and go get it; cook it, decorate it, bake it, wrap it, shop for it, lug it into the house, and plan for it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to relax while thinking of what needs to be done, so that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day go off without too many glitches; making sure that everyone has all of their favourites on the table.

butterscotch-squares“Just give me a list and I”ll look after it,” are the famous naive words of a man who has never been responsible for putting ambrosia and those fucking butterscotch and tooty-fruity-marshmallow-crap-bars on the table.

These are the famous words of men who don’t get why coming home without the sour cream and sage can send an overworked, underpaid woman into an opiod- booze-adled-bender…not that I’ve ever experienced that, but I’ve witnessed it, and it’s damn tempting. I’m sure I could play out a meltdown worthy of a standing ovation, and a man who decides never to be a dumb-ass again. Alas…

As I sat cross legged on the living room floor wrapping gifts on behalf of  my man, I thought that one day a woman will be doing the same thing for my son, just as my mother did for my father, and my grandmother for her husband. It’s called ENABLING.

In the past, I supposed that gender roles guilted the woman into doing the grunt work because society wouldn’t let her ‘work’. Now, bless my overworked soul, society not only expects us to work twice as hard for half of the money, it also expects us to do everything else too.

So there I sat on my ass wrapping gifts for him while he stretched out on the couch.

And that is why we deserve diamonds ladies. Lots and lots of fucking diamonds.

 

 

The Machine & Fierce Women

3x1wupaksuqncThe Machine and How it Works….an interesting string of thoughts in a book by  Thomas L. Freidman, Thank you For Being Late. Basically he talks about a writer being certain or at least having a theory about how the world works.

After dating someone I would consider to be a privileged male for a while, it’s clear to me that The Machine works way better for him than I. Dating a hearty feminist has not been easy for him, what, with me calling him on his sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant misogynistic bullshit.

But this isn’t a post about relationships. Not in the romantic way anyway. It’s about how the machine works for women. A shout out to my non-binary friends here; The Machine doesn’t work in your favour either.

What got me thinking about this was the suggestion that I provide a list of the cosmetics that I prefer to use.  This, after squeezing my belly fat and asking when I was going to the gym.

Answer to the first; whatever’s on sale. Answer to the second; none of your fucking business.

What does all of this personal interaction tell us about The Machine? The Machine is rigged to keep us submissive. It takes more energy (in the form of money) to buy our basic grooming products (soap, razors, feminine hygiene products).  We bear the judgement of society with regard to child-rearing, house-pride and keeping ourselves looking unrealistically young. And that’s just the beginning.

I shouldn’t say “we”, because I count myself and many of my friends among the witches and wise women; I honour my age and my experience, and I have no fear of poking a stick in the gears of the machine in order to bring your attention to it’s flaws.

That the leader of the free world was elected after condoning sexual assault, only reinforces the fact that The Machine works for the privileged male and the women who slip silently into their role as concubines to the system.

This Christmas, don’t let someone shame you because you don’t spend your hard earned dollars on cosmetic products with a label that do the same thing as those you can buy at the local store (if you use them at all). Ask for books, hell, ask for whatever you want, just don’t be a slave to The Machine, and don’t be a slave to fighting it either.

Instead, continue as if The Machine doesn’t exist. Live freely, with grace and integrity, but don’t be afraid to give the world the finger every now and then either. Being fierce is a feminine as it gets.

 

 

 

Ho-Ho-Hold the Holiday Anxiety

plum pudding.jpgLooking at my schedule for the next two weeks makes me anxious. I don’t know how I’ll have enough time to do all that I need to do or the resources to do it.

Yes, I preach about spending time not money, but by this time of the season, I’m feeling stretched to the point of breaking with both. On top of that, I have real life things to deal with too, like work,parenting, a relationship and trying to make ends meet that I know simply won’t.

So, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all (like I am). Do yourself a favour and reinforce your boundaries. Insist on the quiet time you need. Insist on reminding yourself that what you are doing for everyone else around you is enough.

Pick up the phone and listen to a friend tell you about their day, smile at someone, and take five minutes to sit down with a cup of tea, and remember why you do all that you do in the first place.

Yes, I said that. Sit your tired ass down, right in the middle of your work day, your preparations for dinner or at the mall and take a break. You are good enough, and the rest of your world will wait.

 

Christmas Burnout; Adapt don’t Change

bull-dog-christmas-lightsThis  year I gave up.

I gave up a lot of Christmas traditions that have become burdensome, and not joyful. Quite often when people expect you to do things it becomes less about enjoying it, and more about feeling pressured to do it.

So I gave up making my Christmas cake, I gave up buying gifts for friends, and I gave up my annual Christmas party (way too much preparation).  All of these things stress the clock and the wallet, and frankly, all of that stress over a long period of time can wear on a gal’s fabulousness. And I’m nothing if not a shining beacon of wonder.

What-the-hell and a giggle have been my signature move for years.

Not giving a crap has never been my modus oparandi, but appears to be the most freeing way to be in the world. I’m learning that from the people around me who are kings and queens of, ” I could care less about how you feel”.

I thought about faking that shitty attitude until I make it. But I can’t do that, because it’s just not who I am. I care. I’ll always care, and I’m proud of it. The rest of the apathetic world can just choose which side of my butt to kiss first and carry on. I will hang with goddesses of ethic and compassion.

Rather than giving up doing things that bring me close to my family and friends, and letting the burnout I’ve been feeling creep even closer to my bones, I decided to change.

Change? Yes – it’s as scary a word as morninghair (yes, it’s a word).woman-silly

Ok, so change is a big word. Perhaps I should say I’ve chosen to adapt rather than change.

I will continue to bake, but not necessarily what everyone else wants. Sure, I have a soft spot for my kiddo’s favourites, but I also have a hankering for some new mocha eclairs and candy cane fudge.  I’ve asked for a little more help with Christmas dinner, and instead of cooking myself into a coma, I’m doing my Christmas party way more casually. I’ve opted for an open house with chili and beer.

For those of you who care, but need a break too, consider adapting instead of changing the traditions that you hold dear. Leave enough time to lean in to your own sense of personal flair, and enough room to allow your giggle to bubble up and over into the mood of every day.

Commitment – The Other C Word

going-all-the-wayYears ago I read an article in one of my Buddhist magazines that was about the freedom of commitment. At the time it seemed like a radical idea to me, you know, that freedom and commitment should co-exist. Commitment after all has this connotation of strangling one’s freedom, especially when it comes to romantic relationships.

The gist of the article was that once you have committed to something, you no longer spend energy on the wavering. Your mind is clear, and you can live a better, more enjoyable life.

Yes, yes, yes…to all of the cynics out there who still give reason the blue ribbon and instinct the dreaded, thanks-for-participating-but-you-suck ribbon, we know, anything can happen, nothing is forever, and change is inevitable.

I challenge those freaks of social programming to ride the rapids of change as well as those of us who trust our gut.

This year has taught this little family a lot about commitment. As my kiddo weighs his many options to ‘commit’ to a school and a team, the rest of the family holds their breath as well, because for years he has been the center of our world. Where he goes will change the course of the flow of our lives too. With that commitment comes the peace of mind that our wee little reptilian brains crave; order and predictability.

 

So, that’s one kind of commitment.

The other kind is the get-down-on-one-knee-and-let’s-become-one.  On top of  life changes to my role as mother, I’m also at that mid-life-make-it-or-break-it-stage. I’ve lived the ‘freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose’ my entire life. I’ve been alone. As in alone-in-the-world. I’ve always wanted a sidekick, a partner who is committed to crazy old me, and who is my best friend and lover.

Last night, sitting quietly by the glow of the Christmas tree, I had a chat with my man-pal, and I talked about taking him ring shopping tonight. At which he balked. Not a good feeling, but honest, and I can appreciate that.  So, with my own little tropical-cocktail-all-aglow-buzz, I sat quietly for a while and let my thoughts whisper to my heart, which then translated for my head.

Just like my son committing to a team and a school, one person committing to another is something only they can decide. There will be no ring shopping tonight. There likely never will be for me. I’m not really the type of woman who does that anyway. The best people come into our lives and want to stay because they love us. A man will commit or not, and in the mean time, I will live my best life possible. Every type of healthy, lasting relationship takes commitment and that is something that can’t be manufactured.

If the people and relationships that you want in your life are not committing to you; your employer, your lover or your friends, commit to yourself. Commit to making choices that will ensure you have the freedom to spread your wings in order to find the things that make your heart happy, and are easy to commit to.

Best of One of A Kind Show Toronto 2016

There’s something magical about beautiful pieces of practical every-day clothing and necessities.  At this stage of life, I am packing up and moving on, and I have decided not to move anything that is not useful and beautiful.

Hence my journey to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. My gal-pal and I had a hoot trying on hats, and egging one another on to treat ourselves. I managed to pick up most of the remaining Christmas gifts on my list, and felt like a million bucks when I left.

If you’re looking for something fun and a few little unique treats, give it a whirl. Here are a few of my personal favourites…

Hats

Oh boy, did we ever shop for hats. Wildhagen’s booth caught my eye ( a name close to my heart). I buckled and bought a piece of art to wear on my head…and I love it! My teenage son loves it, and buying it made me feel the tiniest bit guilty for possessing something so delightful!

This is the hat that came in as runner up, and I have decided that a quick jaunt to Queen Street will one day make it mine…perhaps in winter white.

wildhagenhat

 

Arts/Crafts

Admittedly I love to drink my tea from pottery mugs. Junichi Tanaka’s ceramics stole my heart. Each piece beautifully and thoughtfully made, with a craftsman who cares about the purpose of his vessels. Mr. Tanaka offered us water to pour from his exquisitely made tea-pots to ensure a drip-free pour.  I managed to bring home a small bowl with an iridescent rust, pewter and purple/red sheen and a small serving plate that spoke to me.

tanaka

 

JEWELLERY

Shelly Purdy Sutdio’s Canadian Sunset Ring stole my heart.  Reminiscent of our precious summer days in the north, the ring symbolizes everything I’ve known to be summer holidays. The bottom row of diamonds symbolizes the lake, and the centre diamond the setting sun, and who could possibly mistake the Group-of-Sevenesque pine?

corona_sunset_mld_and_seasons_by_shelly_grande

 

Handbags

And last but not least, who can really resist a practical handbag? After gathering Christmas gifts, I have left this one on my list of must haves. The perfect messenger bag awaits from Nautilos. Available in so many more delightful colours than basic black (although the black is lovely). Hot Pink was the hands-down favourite, followed by the yellow, and turquoise.

handbag

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