Posted in Advice for Women, Art, Art of LIving, Artists, Creative Life, Creativity, Decor, Empty Nest, Fearless Living, Girl Stuff, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Life With Cats, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Midlife, Mindful Living, Professional Women, Simple Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, women, Women's Issues, Working Women

What Are You Good At – Maybe Everything!

catslipper.jpgLast year I attempted to make slippers for my son’s giant feet, but after two tries, I ended up with what looked like a crocheted sleeping bag for our cat. The fat one.

Projects and hobbies are so necessary for me, that I couldn’t imagine my busy life without them. Having lived an adult life filled with responsibility, these small, creative outlets bring me immeasurable joy.

Creativity is essential to the human condition. If you feel listless, find something that makes you smile, and go out and make it. Don’t worry about how long it takes or what the end result is, try to enjoy and trust the process.

Someone once asked me if I was good at anything, given I had so many interests.  It wasn’t a question asked in ernest or with good intent, no, it was sarcastic, and in my twenties, it hurt.

Now that I’m in my forties, I can honestly say that I’m good at a lot of things.  I love doing things that I’m good at, but just as much as doing something I know that I’m good at, I adore figuring out new projects.

This month, my new project is refinishing my old desk (I’ve had it since I was 13). My office at home is completely different than where I work (I’m a funeral director).  My vision is a bright, unmistakingly vamp-fem space where I can work on making people feel their best.

At first I imagined an aubergine desk;

purple

 

That was until my little Pinteresting fingies found this gem;

pink-dresser-desk

 

My colour pallette now looks more like this;

watermelon pink

Va-va-va-voom! “And how can I help you?” I imagine myself asking from behind this little piece of heaven.

Even better than finding the picture,  I found the instructions on the www.allthingsthrifty.com website, including the paint colour and brand (Krylon)

Can I get an, ‘AMEN’?!

Having a hot pink desk would not be a professional decorator’s idea of fine decor, but that’s not what matters to me at this stage. What matters is how I wish to reflect my personality in my home and personal business space, and hot pink it is!

Yes, there will be eye-rolling by my partner, my adult son, and anyone who has zero joi de vivre. Alas, I feel a pink desk coming on.

 

 

 

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Posted in Advice for Women, Art of LIving, Book Reviews, books, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Girl Stuff, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Lean In Girl Stuff, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, New Feminism, Professional Women, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, The New Feminism, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living, women, Women's Issues, Women's Issues, Women's March on Washington, Women's Rights, Working Women

Do Not Wash the Floor: Putting on Your Big Hat

tiredwomanDoes it amaze you that the people you live with (aka your family) know where to go get stuff but they can’t remember how to put it away? It kind of makes you twitch doesn’t it? The high level of frustration which comes with lack of respect for your  time.

If I took a survey of all of my women-friends and asked how they were feeling, most of them would answer the same way; Tired.

I’m tired.

Fatigue. It seems to be a running theme among women in their 40’s. Most are smack in the middle of feeling the pressure of their long-forgotten wild selves tugging relentlessly at their heart-strings.  We’re now in the middle of our  lifetime on this earth, and we can feel it in our bones.

We can feel it slip away every time that we clean up someone else’s mess, and every time we sweep the floor.

Time seems to have accelerated just as we need things to slow down.  Something inside of us feels like it needs to be uncaged.  If we listen hard enough, we can hear our goddess call out from deep down in the dark visceral places of our suppressed soul: Let me out!

How the hell do we do that?!

We must use our precious energy to build firm boundaries and defend them with (and for) our lives. For the majority of women, the idea of leaving work, taking time to rediscover and recover their passions is an impossible ideal.  Yet, we must take time away to listen to our own intuition.

Another way to strengthen connection to intuition is to refuse to allow anyone to repress your vivid energies…that means your opinions, your thoughts, your ideas, your values, your morals, your ideals.

I’m a woman of strength and courage, and I even find that carving out time for this self-care is a tug-of-war. We all know that days off are filled with domestic chores which women are expected to do; organizing, planning and preparing meals, laundry, the never-ending business of tidying and picking up miscellaneous crap.

One day, years later, after washing the kitchen and living room floors by hand, she slipped into her very best silk blouse, buttoned her long skirt, and pinned on her big hat.  She pressed her husband’s shotgun to the roof of her mouth and pulled the trigger. Every woman alive knows why she washed the floors first.

Taking time to refresh your spirit in the privacy of your own thoughts is essential. Understanding where those thoughts are coming from, helps to understand why we’re so damn tired.

During busy times, creative pursuits may be put on hold, and our time even more precious. For these times, I reach for a book. A few minutes of quiet time to read words of wisdom from other women always sustains me.

For the these important moments during the day when you get to nourish your divine feminine, I suggest a few good reads;

  1. The Red Tent by Anita Diamant
  2. Every Last Cuckoo by Kate Maloy
  3. Women & Power by Mary Beard
  4. Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes ( I confess, I can’t get enough of this book right now…reading and re-reading)
  5. Living Beautifully with Uncertainty & Change by Pema Chodrun

Whatever you do, do not wash the floors. Let someone else take a turn.

Put on your best silk blouse, button up your skirt, put on your big hat and go out into the world.

We need one another at this time in our lives more than ever before ladies, and we need to see our courage and hunger for life reflected back to us by our peers when we aren’t feeling that courageous ourselves.

All quotes taken from Women Who Run With the Wolves: Myths and Stories of the Wild Woman Archetype by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.
Posted in Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Artisists, bloggers, Blogging, Book Reviews, Breathe In Breathe Out, Breathe In Breathe Out Move On, Buddhist Writers, Canadian Writers, Entertaining, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Food and Wine, Girl Stuff, Happiness, Happiness Project, Healthy Living, ideas, insight, Inspiration, Life, New Feminism, Seasons, Self-Care, Summer, The New Feminism, Uncategorized

Sweet Summertime

Summer solstice is almost upon us. You know, the phase of this trip around that sun that marks the true onset of summer.

We’ve all seen the social media posts with funky patio lights and carefree al fresco dining; vintage glassware, impossibly perfect outdoor furniture (that would wither with one rainfall), and no mosquitoes.

This side of 40, we all know that it’s never that perfect. But it can come pretty damn close.  The secret to enjoying summer, or anything else at this stage of the game, is a certain dude-ish je ne sais quoi.  A few flowy, funky, retro tops to hide a multitude of middle aged sins, and plenty of liquids.

The idea of cottaging, camping and celebrating everything that can be celebrated is a great idea, but the reality can be a little tiny bit exhausting.

So I’ve created a little backyard oasis which includes a couple of sets of dated christmas lights which are now trendily referred to as ‘fairie lights’, a water feature from my partner’s ex’s house, and a load of carefree climbing vines.  I added a few palms just to remind myself that when winter arrives, so do the snowbird deals to the Caribbean.

Creating your own, personal oasis leaves plenty of time (no snakey fifty kilometre traffic nightmare into the muskokas or Haliburton Highlands) to tear off your work-a-day clothes, throw on something loose, pour an icy cold gin and tonic and turn up the Jimmy Buffett in the backyard (before and after work, although you might want to substitute coffee before work).

In order to make summertime a little bit more summery and a lot less hectic may I recommend a few of my mid-life-mid-summer-secrets?

  1. The muu-muu. Call it a caftan, or whatever you like, but it’s a lifesaver. No bra. No panties. No public entertaining in this either, but you will feel somewhat goddess like with a generous heap of nonchalant I-could-give-a-craplessness.  Mrs. Roper to the rescue.

2. An easy cocktail. I recommend a simple gin and tonic. Either Tanqueray with Lime, or Hendricks with cucumber. Either works. Poured over ice, it’s simple and refreshing.

gt

3. Non-alcoholic beverages. Let’s face it, middle-age and empty nesting lets us fall into a relaxed way of being that does not always require assistance. A simple pitcher of pink lemonade in the refrigerator or a sumptuous hot tea can do the trick. My favourites include T by Daniel’s Night in Rio, or Tazo Wild Sweet Orange.

yellowtea

4.  A damn good book that you can sink your teeth into. This could be a post unto itself, but I’m going to stick with just one book for now. If you are a mid-lifer, empty-nester, or a woman who feels like change is on the horizon, I highly recommend, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Reading this will make you 100% confident wearing your muu-muu. I promise. No gin required.

women who run with the wolves

5. Fire. Yes, that’s right you need some fire. It’s primal, it’s hypnotising, and it can bring you back to yourself after a long day at work. If you have the space, try a firepit, maybe a chimenea, and for smaller spaces, try a little fire-pot.

chimenea

6. Soundscaping. A water feature can add that lovely trickling sound that makes you think that you’re somewhere other than your urban cage. If there’s no room for that, or no budget, try some of the 1990’s Dan Gibson Solitudes tracks cranked up to drown out the neighbour’s nattering,

Celebrating the sunshine is quintessential to summertime, and creating your own oasis optimizes all of that joyous vitality that the season brings. Wishing you the relaxed kind of muu-muu, gin-drinking, pink lemonade, feminist-reading kind of summer you deserve.

Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Health, Healthy Living, Men's Health, Mental Health, Professional Women, Sexual Health, Uncategorized, Wellness, women, Women's Issues, Women's Issues, Working Women

Sleepless Beauty

sleeping ladyWhat keeps a gal busy enough to stay away from her favourite venting place?

Summer – of course!

….and a complete lack of quality sleep.

I’ve been poked, prodded, and misdiagnosed, but what good quality of life depends on for me (and likely you too) is a good sleep.

Having moved in with the love of my life less than a year ago, my dream-domain has been adjusted to his majesties pleasures. Don’t worry friends, I’m not going to tell you about his sexual preferences, I’m totally focused on what he needs to sleep. Apparently it’s piles of clothes laid out like a landmine on the floor, lots of light, and enough silence so that when he snores, the entire universe shakes. And me. Yes, he loves to snuggle right up to me.

Oh, lucky ducky.

So when I brought home news of my new sleep plan, facilitated by a young physician who had recently attended a CBT (cognitive behavioral therapy) sleep credit class; you want to make your bedroom a place you can’t wait to go, be sure it’s dark, no television, no phones –  my bedroom-bestie responded with; “Pft! She’s wrong. You sleep just fine.”

Ah…no. You sleep just fine.

insomnia

You know what I’m talking about ladies. After you do the drudge-work of housekeeping until the moment you’re ready to drop from exhaustion, Mr. Snorey-McSnorerson keeps you awake so you wander around the house until exhaustion makes you drop on the spot at about 2:30am or, when you’re blissfully asleep and Casanova keeps poking you with his love-baton.

The only reason you should wake me up when I’m sleeping is if my life is in danger, or you can romance me without much participation from me. Either get on with it or put your pistol away. From now on I”m bringing a lawnmower and a stick to bed. The lawnmower to counteract the snoring, and the stick to poke him with all night long when I’m feeling amorous.

Ladies and gents, if you, like myself, are suffering from severe sleep deprivation, do make some changes. I hope that your partner (if you have one) is more empathetic to creating a mutually comfortable space to rest than mine is.

The suggestions I was given are these;

Create a space where you love to go, instead of dreading spending hours in bed worried about not sleeping.

No goal-oriented tasks for an hour before bedtime.

Make the room dark.

Turn of all electronics or better yet, remove them from the room – esepcially the little lights that shine brightly one them.

Get a white noise machine.

Turn the light off on your alarm clock.

From the bottom of my heart, I wish you sweet dreams. xo

Posted in Advice for Women, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Friendship, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Mindful Living, Professional Women, Simple Living, The Art of Living, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, Wellness, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

On Fat, Friendship & Flipping the Bird

laughing on the insideThe other day a friend of mine said something friends are not supposed to say;

“You know that picture you posted of yourself? You looked horrid, and fat and old.”

Thanks.

Like I didn’t already feel that way underneath the smile we’re all supposed to wear every day.  I mean really, who the hell thinks that’s ever ok to say? It’s not. It’s mean, and it lacks basic goodness.

“Let’s go for a walk, and do you have time to pop into the store with me.” Now there’s a healthy response to a friend who is stressed to the point her body is showing it.

I want to lay in bed and cover up my head and cry today….all day. But instead, I will put on my suit (that’s way too tight now), and head in to the office to compassionately take on the world’s grief. And therein lies the problem, doesn’t it ladies? It’s the expectation that we will care for everything and everyone, and whatever shitty chores no one else wants to do.

Here’s a newsflash; each day only has 24 hours in it, even for women.

dream bigLately, despite being fatter than ever, and pinched for time, I’ve been really satisfied with my accomplishments. My resolution this year was to complete a course that could actually help me achieve some financial freedom. And I did it!  I did it while working full-time, managing a relationship, keeping house, and moving my son back from his first year in university. I was feeling pretty happy with myself….and then someone felt the need to let me know I was ugly, another to remind me that I don’t make enough money, and perhaps I don’t look after every-single-fucking-person-animal-and-thing-in-my-life to their liking.

With friends like this, really, who needs enemies ladies?

So it’s on these days when we don’t want to face the world, when the self-esteem that we usually have without thinking about it makes a ragged and surrendered appearance, that we need to dig deep and look at what is important to us, not someone out there marking us like a french judge at a figure skating competition.

So today, after I’m finished with a good cry and a have plastered on my professional face, you can count on my doing two things; giving those negative assholes the finger and getting on with the things in my life that make me happy.

Posted in Life, Life Lessons, Meaning of Life, Toronto Life, Toronto Star, Toronto Strong, Uncategorized

Toronto Strong – Take to Your Porch

tostrongI firmly believe that change starts at home. Grassroots caring is the most nasty guerrilla warfare of our time.

I woke up to a wall of ‘Toronto Strong’ on social media, but when I looked out my window, there was not a soul on the street. Not a neighbour to be found.

Laundry and dishes and meal planning suddenly took a backseat to the CBC News Network’s coverage of the mass murder that played out yesterday on a stretch of a nearby Toronto street.  Colleagues of mine watched people being mowed down on the sidewalk just outside of their office, and the rest of us watched as the scene replayed over and over on screens all afternoon.

Was it a terrorist? Was it an “involuntary celibate’ (misogynist)? How can we fortify our city against these attacks? These were the predominant questions posed by the media. But these questions merely poke at the symptoms asking for band-aid answers. They don’t come anywhere near getting at the cause of the misery that is murdering our world.

Stay Strong. That’s the overwhelming populace message choking the city today.

Let me offer another perspective; stay vulnerable. Allow your grief and fear and anger an outlet. Let your community of friends embrace you as you grieve and heal.

In a world that has become lost to the miracle of humanity, one that values material success over kindness, community, and the health of our spirit, staying strong may give a message of toughness that we just don’t need.

I concede that if it were my child or loved one callously killed, I would have a rage and hate with limitless depths. It would take a fountain of caring friends to help heal that massive dark hole in my life. We need one another, not just during times of tragedy, but every day.

Our communities have disappeared into subdivisions and condos with closed doors with invisible neighbours. We are too busy fighting a modern-day-material-survival-of-the-fittest to put the kettle on and hang out on our front porches. This is the root of the problem. We are insular and inward looking.

Reaching out and getting to know your neighbours is the first step to staying strong…as a community.

 

Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joy, Joyful Living, Living, Middle Age, Mindful Living, Parenting, Simple Living, Single Parenting, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Enthusiasm is Sexy

all hereThe older you get, the faster it goes; The only truth that my mother ever spoke.

We are at the end of the first quarter of 2018. Where the hell does the time go, and how on earth did I actually get this old?  The way I carried on as a teenager and twenty-something, it’s a small miracle that I survived at all. But here I am, a forty-something empty-nester.

One of my high school pals posted a little something on social media about the no-man’s land of being forty-something. If you’ve done it all correctly, you have some regrets about being a bit of a selfish jerk (before you knew better), and no regrets when it comes to sampling the libertarian things in life.

Forty is when you begin to realize that your contemporaries, like yourself, are tired. We’re tired of our career and the joy we once found in our hobbies has taken a back seat to responsibility. On top of all of that, our bodies are a little more…casual, our libidos are rarely in line with our opportunities, and our enthusiasm is pretty much non-existent. There are few things we haven’t experienced. We’re like teenagers – we  know it all.

We lack enthusiasm.

So, we’re a quarter gone in 2018. The new year is no longer new. Are you enthusiastic about anything my darlings?

While I was trying to figure out what the hell was missing after my awesome kiddo left the nest, I realized after a couple of months that it was my enthusiasm. There wasnt’ anything that I allowed myself to get excited about.

So I rediscovered a few of the hobbies I had let slide. And I got enthusiastic about getting better at them.

What I learned is that there is nothing more sexy than enthusiasm. And that my darling middle-aged friends, is golden.