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How Full is Your Cup & What’s With the Heavy Breathing Guy?

yogaIf you don’t already know, I’ve been captive in my own home, caregiving. As much as I have come to appreciate my mobility, I also miss it. The big kind of mobility. The kind of mobility that finds me doing  completely selfish, self-care. The kind that involves hot yoga every day I’m not working the night shift.

I like to think of self-care as part of what any good social liberal would call boundaries; the things I need to maintain balance and health.  Let there be no mistaking it, these boundaries are for the privileged. Before you go all first-world-problems on my ass, I’ve not always been so privileged. I appreciate it, and in order to live my best life, I will pursue these things. Hot yoga, time to write, and dates that inspire creativity.

A mere week before I unexpectedly had to change course and stay home to caregive, I sustained my own injury, which required physiotherapy (which I haven’t had) in order to heal. Today, with the help of some respite at home, I was able to make it back to a one hour class to get my sweat on.

The first thing that I noticed was the stink. The unique odour of an unwashed yoga towel.   Actually, that’s a lie. The first thing I noticed was annoying heavy breathing guy. If you’ve ever gone to a yoga class, you know exactly who I mean; the one person in the room who is the equivalent of the asshole on the train who sits with his legs spread, crotch on display, taking up the width of three seats.  His clear sinuses infect the room like a swarm of mosquitoes.

He was already in the room when I went in to place my mat on the floor. He was actually in my spot, breathing like, look-at-me-I-was-raised-in-the-sacred-culture-of-yoga-and-I’m-going-to-breathe-in-all-of-the-heat-and oxygen-and-I-want-you-to-hear-my-dominance.  I’m nothing if not flexible, so I moved to my third favourite spot (on the opposite side of the room) and took to my stinky mat. By the way, heavy breather also farts through the entire class.  My third-favourite spot is now my second favourite spot. Sans farts and annoying noise.

I had to baby my injury, but it felt soooo good to get back to something normal. Something that has become a huge part of my self care. Part of what today’s instructor referred to as ‘my cup’. Before we began, she asked us to evaluate how full our cup was. Flat on my back, breathing deeply into my chubby belly, I decided I was at about 75%. And and I was pretty damn happy with that. Not so bad under the circumstances, especially considering that I knew what I needed to add the 26% which would create a convex surface atop  the cup, making it dangerously close to overflowing…

Sweat dripping onto my turquoise  towel, I felt hot, sweaty, healthy, radiant and for the first time in a long, long, time, more like myself.

Today I welcomed the inappropriate presence of  heavy breathing guy, hipster-shirtless-beard guy and the Asian business lady who was oblivious of the silent rule who interrupted my mojo by asking me questions at the beginning of the class while I was clearly getting down to it in Savasana. She also moaned painful ‘Oh God’s’ as she transitioned into each new position. Come to think of it, maybe that middle-aged lady knows a little trick that I don’t know. A little Oh God moaning might do me a world of good…

Regardless of your situation in life, I urge you, as I urge myself, to maintain your boundaries. Ensure you know how to refill your cup, even if you’re going through a stage where it’s not full. Know your boundaries, and skedaddle like hell when you get the chance to give yourself some of that self-love that you need. If you don’t get time, fight the good fight to make the time.

 

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New Year-New You, Which Includes New Undies

giphy-2Amid all that can be happening on any given day, death always calls us out.

As many of you know I’ve been bound to the house, with little social contact other than running necessary errands.  Ironically, today, my outing was to a funeral. There’s nothing more poignant than the thud of cold dirt hitting a plain, wooden casket on the bottom of a single grave. It makes you think about what’s important (my kid), and the things I can’t control (my kid).

As a young funeral director, death brought a hunger for life that was sated by sexy shoes, late, late nights, and a swath of of decadence for every hunger.  As an old funeral director, death brings the longing for continued relationships with the old friends, time to create and new friends with whom I can explore all of the fun and excitement still left to savour.

Which brings me back to shoes. Am I the only forty something mamma who has let her shoe game go the way of extremes? I’m a beach baby from birth. My professional uniform consists of  ultra conservative shoes and my home life is a melieu of thongs and runners.

womensundies

And then there’s undies. Today I pulled out a black pair of barely-there delicates when I was reaching into my pink and white drawer. When  was the last time that I wore these, I thought to myself, as I pushed them to the back and frantically felt around for the giant suckem-ins that I hoped I still had. You know what I’m talking about ladies, the one stretchy pair of gitch that hides the abundance of the good lord’s handiwork. The ones you pull out when you wear one of two types of outfits; one that’s a size too small after the holidays, or one that’s meant to leave little to the imagination.  I haven’t worn the latter for a very, very, very long time.

Standing at the graveside, with my tights having slithered down past my crotch against my teflon-slick miracle-granny-panties, my new friend Hayley was describing the ideal of humility that was at the core of Jewish funeral traditions. I was trying to focus on what she was saying at the same time as I was wondering how, exactly one was supposed to get tights to stay up against the ugliest slipperiest undies in the world. Perhaps I’ll go back to garters; sexier, and less likely to leave you with your tights around your knees in minus five degree weather while you shovel dirt onto a casket. I waddled back to my car like a baby penguin, knees pressed together so my dignity didn’t slip down any further underneath my black overcoat.

A few years ago, after experiencing the death of someone close t me, I  went back to a simple uniform and community anonymity.  It was a big relief.  I went from where everyone knew my name to a place where no one did.

There is always something within passion itself that opens doors to a different world and a different way of embracing the world in which we find ourselves.

The new year may bring something much different for me though. Socially I mean. My private life finds me in hippie style, barefoot and outside as much as possible, with flowy dresses, jeans, and flip flops. My mom-life is a sports mom-life (jeans, sweaters, and anything that will keep me warm while sitting on cold metal bleachers in late fall).

This new year will find me back out and about. I need it. I need you. Besides my regular ‘resolutions’ of acquiring more grace and patience, I’m going to give two new resolutions a go; no judgement (I can be such a hardass),  and new friends to go out to explore the world. This must include socially appropriate duds, including functional undies, sexy undies, and stunning footwear.

My passion is writing, and what better reason to give new experiences with new friends a try? After all, to write stories, we must have some, even making friends at a Jewish funeral with your tights around your knees.

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T’was The Night Before Christmas

…and all through the house, not a creature was stirring, except for mamma. Mamma’s are always stirring. Mamma’s are Christmas.

My Mumster always told me that it is the mum who makes Christmas happen, and she’s right. Regardless of the twaddle that our families (biological or of choice) throw at us about not fussing, not having any special baking or meal requests, when you fail to make every single Christmas treat that they like throughout the month of December, you inevitably get the disappointed face asking, “Where are the butterscotch squares,”?  And you feel as if you’ve failed. Coloured marshmallows and butter are my secret weapon…and sprinkles…maybe also rum and a little bit of ameretto.

This year has been different around our house. So much so, that waking up today doesn’t feel like Christmas Eve. Christmas Eve day is my favourite day of the year. I love it. It always begins with a mom-son breakfast, carries on with cookie baking, movie watching, lots of relaxation, decadent food, supper heated from a box (because I’m too busy prepping for Christmas dinner and the throngs of people I feed), and finishes off with a trip to church, with the grand finale being the singing of Silent Night by candlelight.

But not this year. Oh no. This year involves a trip to the airport to pick up my kiddo (who’s flight is now officially delayed) and giving a bed bath to my partner who is unable to move. I can’t lie, if this flight is cancelled or late, I’m going to be searching pretty hard for goodwill-unto men. I’m also kinda over giving bed baths too.

Christmas Eve

In lieu of church, I think I’m going to get loose with eggnog and rum, or perhaps I’ll keep it simple and drag  the Santa gifts out after a few glasses of wine (a few glasses = a bottle). Perhaps this year old St. Nick will be swigging a gin and tonic and enjoying some Branston pickle on cheese…hey, whatever gets you me through the night. I may even get in those hours of editing I’m so badly craving.

I have not been out to the Christmas sock party, the Christmas ugly sweater party, my work Christmas party, my usual friendly visits, or romantic Christmas rendezvous. I will not be going to the annual boxing day open house in Stratford that has on more than one occasion found me  dancing until dawn on the 27th and charming some poor soul into falling in love with me. No. This year is different.

This year, it’s a small, quiet Christmas. As such, I have splurged on the cats. their stockings will be bulging with cheap toys, treats and stale catnip from a bag. Fa-la-la-la-la…..la-la-la-laaaaa!

Yesterday I made rum balls and took the temperature on the stock of supplies for our tiny Christmas meal.  By tiny I mean this is the fewest amount of people I have ever cooked for at Christmas time. Although our mother-son breakfast will be delayed, and I’m not stressing over space to cook for a pile of people, this Christmas is going to be wonderful. Because I’ve made up my mind that it shall be so.

But next year, oh, next year! My social media feed will be rife with the jolly stress of an over-worked, over-tired, over-done-it mamma who can’t wait for the last piece of turkey to be gobbled down so she can get back to a quiet life of not dodging Christmas decorations while trying to bake everything under the sun before heading out to see the lights. I will be revelling in the exhaustion, excitement and over-doing-itness of the season.

But for now, here’s to a silent night, a quiet night, tucked in by the fire with my most favourite creatures on earth.  May you all be so lucky as to have your loved ones close.

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Modern Christmas: For Empaths & Introverts

What happened to our society? Especially at Christmas time?

Who else remembers a time when November and December were full of social engagements and excuses to dress up? There once was a time that I looked forward to the annual company party, where everyone was expected to dress up, socialize, and participate in some good clean fun…until most everyone drank too much and had to be chauffeured home.

And what the hell is with not playing that wonderful song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? Give. Me. A. Break.

Maybe it’s the new cultural trend of insta-worthy-over-sized sweaters and hands wrapped around steaming mugs of cocoa. Hell, it’s a lot easier to pull off than heels, strapless dresses, and a clearly defined ‘date’. I totally get that everyone has either become an empath or an introvert; a modern way of saying; I’m sensitive, so don’t hold me to your cultural standard of politeness and respectful interaction….the penultimate of victim culture.

Just a tip – half of the fun was watching everyone interact. It was fun to play with our persona’s of  sequined flirts with no other intention than to share a few laughs; to entertain and to be entertained by virtue of our very own selves.

I miss what I so fondly refer to as Gatsby-Socializing. When you were expected to flirt with everyone, the art of telling a joke was appreciated, and keeping up with current events wasn’t quite enough. People actually had discussions intelligent enough to persuade, entertain and engage.

There was no distraction appropriate at the table. I mean really, cell phones at the table are akin to someone in the 80’s taking out a handwritten letter, smoothing it out on their lap, lowering their reading specs, and totally disengaging with the people in front of them. Talk about a slap in the face of civilized behavior.

For a while I thought that the slow fade of high-end socializing was directly related to my age. I was wrong. It’s the result of fear. Everyone’s afraid that they’re going to be fingered for being inappropriate, being blamed for the irresponsible behavior of another adult, and painted with the pariah brush of our I’m-not-responsible-for-my-own-behavior culture.

So get out your cocktail dresses and brush off your dyed satin shoes. Break out your costume jewelry, shake up a mean cocktail. Invite a wild mix of personalities over and watch the magic of real-live human interaction unfold all in the name of Christmas cheer. I’m dying for some superficial and super-fun festivities.

 

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The Longest Night: How To

First of all, let go of all expectations.

The theme is the Longest Night: Finding Light in the Darkness, and is always, always, always held on the eve of winter solstice (December 21).

1)Send out invitations however you like – I use social media and the occasional email.

Given the theme, invite friends whom you feel you can be spiritually naked with.  The more the merrier, or not. It’s up to you. Personally I love having an eclectic group of friends who are intelligent and kind.

2)Each person is encouraged to bring a piece of writing, poetry, artwork, music or visual art to share with the group.  Have them bring copies to give out if they can.

3) Pot-freaking-luck – this not only takes the pressure off of the host, but it offers everyone a chance to bring a special dish that honours the spirit of the evening. Sharing food is an intimate act of friendship.

4)Offer a place to sleep should anyone be enjoying a few beverages or, if you’re in Canada, cannabis.

5)Offer all of the seating you can; couches, chairs, cushions, stools. Basically, form a cozy circle where people can relax.

6) Draw numbers to see who shares first, second and so forth.

7)Begin the evening with a toast, or reading appropriate to the theme. Light a candle as a symbol of the season of mystery and hope.  The joy of the evening is to share, discuss and share some more, taking everything at a leisurely pace.

8)Enjoy one another’s company.

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The Longest Night: Your Invitation

Like most adults, the magic of Christmas wanes with each passing year. This year I’m struggling to grasp that spirit at all, even a tiny shred of it.

I absolutely love getting out for Christmas dinners with my friends, I enjoy strolling the markets, and listening to Christmas music.  I realized just how un-Christmasy my life is this year after reading an update from my cousin this morning about having his first Christmas dinner in the books.

This after waking up and staring at the ceiling of what used to be my writing room, and thinking just that…this does not feel like Christmas.

When I was a young mother, doting on my son, baking, cooking and inviting friends into our home made the season so very special. Long past having a big wish list, I have always used Christmas as an excuse to connect with the people in my life whom I don’t get to spend time with often enough. It’s a special part of the year that carries me through, having reinforced the bonds of these precious friendships.

the longest night

But not this  year. This year I am bound to the house, run off my feet, and honestly, feeling lonesome for those friends.

Loneliness and isolation can make a pathetic woman, and I am anything but that. So this year, albeit late in the season, I’m going to begin my efforts to connect with the special people in my life. The sustenance of kindred spirits during times like this is essential to anyone’s well-being.

In years past, I used to host an event on the eve of winter solstice called, “The Longest Night”, where my friends would gather, bringing a piece of art (writing, music, visual art) to share with the group. The theme was always sharing light in the darkness. Celebrating the darkness where mystery was waiting to be revealed, ideas were ruminating, and reminding everyone that there is beauty even in the mystery of the dark.

So this year, once again, I’m hoping more selfishly than ever that my friends arrive in the darkness, to be received into the warmth of a circle of friends.

 

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Making Room in My Jeans for Enchantment

distractionBecause of my inability to focus, my jeans are getting snug.

As in, I’ve gone beyond muffin-top to mid-section-souffle. I’ve been home a lot lately, and although I’m busy as stink caregiving, I have lots of time on my hands while I stay up way too late and overthink everything.

Today, while having a meltdown (likely a bloodsugar low), I ate another of my beautifully decorated sugar cookies, gave myself a tummy-ache and got to thinking while I laid down to sweat it out. Perhaps I should just really focus on what makes me feel good.

And what is that?

Well, it’s my writing, my inspiration, or ‘enchantment’ as Elizabeth Gilbert refers to it in her book, Big Magic, (a book every creative soul needs).  Given that my nervous baking habit has made me pack on pounds and feel like crap since I’ve been at home for the past number of weeks, I couldn’t help but listen when my nauseous tummy and tight waistband went from a whisper to a scream; “QUIT BAKING THIS SHIT!!!”…and in a much more kind, caring voice, “Do what you love sweetheart.”

One idea from Big Magic that stuck with me the first time I read the book is,

However, I’ve always had the sense that the muse of the tormented artist – while the artist himself is throwing temper tantrums – is sitting quietly in a corner of the studio, buffing its fingernails, patiently waiting for the guy to calm down and sober up so everyone can get back to work.”

I have a lot of interests; baking, cooking, reading, writing, yoga, gardening, being an enthusiastic sports mom…and the list goes on. These are the equivalent of my temper tantrums. Convincing myself that I don’t have enough time to write is akin to a temper tantrum.

I’m so funny.

I have time to do most of my hobbies, except write.  Why??? the only explanation I can come up with is that my upbringing as a hard-working-protestant-country-girl saves the best for last. “I’ll write after I…..” And then the day is finished. I have no energy left for the good stuff.

It’s hard to think of a tortured artist baking and decorating cookies, but it’s my very civilized-flirting-with-diabetes form of torment. But it is no more. No more half-hearted attempts at making slippers, meringues, paintings, blankets or any other whim I get snagged on while cruising Pinterest.  No more tummy aches and sugar lows. No more cursing myself for my jeans getting even smaller.

In Big Magic, Ms. Gilbert talks about enchantment, and whether you meet it with the resistance of the stereotypical tortured artist or like gracious host who makes room for it.

I’m going to try and be the gracious host. And that includes not wearing pants that are way too tight.