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Stay Humble My Friends

coffee-cold-mug-winter

Humble. That’s the best we can all try to be right now.

Humble enough to be still, kind, and for the love of all that’s holy, quiet.

If I were a medical professional in the midst of this pandemic, I think that during my time off, earplugs would be as important as any personal protective gear during my time ‘on’.

You know what I’m talking about, the incessant chatter of  how this pandemic is spreading, what the symptoms are, and how long it will take before we can all get back to thoughtless, mass consumption.

After a most stressful five days of dealing with a sick person, a young man’s plea for a place to stay after being illegally evicted due to fear of the Coronavirus and worrying about my own job, I woke up this morning snug and warm among my fluffy duvets.

Bliss.

Until the chatter started. A thoughtful phone call to check in on my sick sweetie turned into an amateur COVID 19 medical conference right there in my bed.

I jammed an earplug in the ear that wasn’t on the pillow, took a few deep breaths, and then gave up before frustration set in. Earplug out, I padded down the stairs to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the solitude of morning.

This, after drifting off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, wondering about the outward object of ‘adoration’ in the context of rapture…it’s ok, you don’t have to understand. All you need to know is that I was delighted to have had some time to submerge myself in the type of writing and thought that is all encompassing.  Something bigger than myself. 

The stress of the day washed away with my wordplay, and the ability to surrender to whatever comes next flexed it’s muscle and settled around me like a cocoon. I fell asleep with pen and notebook on my chest.

 

When you realize nothing is lacking,

The whole world belongs to you

~Lau Tzu~

 

I hope that everyone has that kind of escape right now; something that they love which gives them purpose.  Or even a guilty pleasure to binge on like The Tiger King , a raw example of chattering pride (pun no intended).

Being humble can come from a place of great joy, simple pleasures, or curiosity. Wherever it comes from, it can be a gentle teacher and an anchor in a world that seems to have gone mad. During times like these, humility can offer up a calm raft in the deluge of  uncertainty and change. It can also save you from yourself in ways you didn’t  even know that you need saving.

 

 

 

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Building Pandemic Panic Resistance

squirrelSquirrels are jacked, Wish sells sex toys, and I found the perfect shade of lipstick at Sephora Canada for twenty-eight bucks.

If someone told me a month ago that I’d have the time to discover these little things, I would have told you they were mad.

Had I not been respecting this physical-distancing protocol, I never would have equated the relative muscle mass of a squirrel’s front haunches with the thick, muscular neck of a wolf, because I never would have had the time to stare out the window and wonder about something other than the demands of my own day.

I also never would have clicked on the promos from Wish, and discovered that they sell clothing, male chastity devices, as well as plastic parrot solar lights that would be fantastic for our Parrothead soirees – the lights, not the sex toys. The outline of a third book likely wouldn’t have unfolded into anything other than the outline either.

Luckily our household hasn’t been as adversely effected as others. Everyone is still working, everyone is still getting paid. Everyone is going a bit bonkers adjusting to being at home together.

Incidentally, I think that social media is going a bit bonkers right now too. Currently, it’s a five minute distraction at most for me. The same with the news. Once a day is enough to keep me informed, without making me paranoid.

After two weeks of being glued to news updates, being terrified of what I’m being exposed to at work, about a week ago I shut down the newsfeed and the unnecessary obsessing.  Now  my sweetie has fallen ill and I’ve raised my white-flag of surrender.  I will not subject myself to the massive influx of emails and private messages about COVID 19.

As always, I have a new writing project simmering, a pile of books on my desk waiting to be read (the ones I had previously designated as beach-reads for my annual Central American beach holiday), and a needlework project half finished. Perhaps it’s a Gen X thing , but I think I’ll just tuck in and ride this out, taking it day by day.

I have settled nicely into the routine of surrender.

It’s lovely to have time to sip my first and second cups of morning coffee bundled up on the patio in the fresh air. It’s blissful to have the time to  wonder about squirrel anatomy, who the wonderful guitarist is down the street, and to allow the poetic flow of words to dance in my imagination so that I can write it down on paper a little later on. Not being able to go out has been a wonderful retreat.

Next week, a new, temporary shift schedule starts at work to help adjust to the demands of our new reality. I will not be having leisurely, morning coffee save for weekends.

If you’re stuck in a rut of scrolling through social media, watching the news spool over and over, might I suggest staring out the window for a while, and noticing the little things that otherwise go unnoticed.

 

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Pissing In The Wind During COVID-19

farm womenIt’s a well known fact that when in distress, we revert to our fist language. It brings us comfort, and takes less energy than coming up with words we’re not so familiar with.

My first language is English, but the colloquialisms that I use now are far from my mother tongue. I was raised among proud, country folk and hard asses.

Living in the city has influenced my language to acquiesce to more professional terms such as; Multi-disciplinary, facilitate…with an understanding of complex…blah, blah, blah

Recently, I surprised myself by telling someone that they, “May as well just piss in the wind.”

Not only had I said it, but I said it with passion.  And then I caught myself saying it again.

You may as well just piss in the wind.

You can picture it can’t you, this pissing in the wind?

It’s a satisfying string of  words lending itself to a powerful visual;  Letting it all hang out, and then having it all blow back in your face.

I’m sure it’s the way a lot of you have been feeling lately in the face of COVID19, (like you’re pissing in the wind) and the mostly inadequate measures that ‘we’ have taken to protect our communities. Pissing in the wind.

Crazier than a shithouse rat.

Dumb as a stump.

As useless as tits on a bull.

God willing and the creek don’t rise.

You can’t make a silk purse out of a sow’s ear.

Sweatin’ like a sinner in church.

If it’d been a snake, it would’a bit ya.

These are just a few of the finer phrases that were familiar to my upbringing in a small village on the north shore of Lake Erie.

Lately I’ve been stressed more than usual. I’m sure you’re feeling it too. Our world is in flux, and there is little, if any steady footing.

These little sayings are homey, and can be comforting. They’re power-packed nuggets of wisdom that colour our conversations and paint a vivid picture. It feels good to fall back on something solid; my first-language.

As we continue to exist in an environment of the unknown, I know that others will return to their first language as well. I can only hope it’s as soothing and entertaining as my own, because if we don’t all stay the hell home, the health authorities ain’t just whistlin’ Dixie.

Wishing you and those whom you love, good health.

 

 

 

 

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Travelling Light: Decluttering

travel lightAfter learning that my friend died a week ago, I wondered what I had to remember her by. Keepsakes are precious and the one I have from her is a tiny tile she brought back from Delft in her Dutch homeland.

Along with my grandmother’s nurses cap, my son’s framed art, and my one photo album, that tile is among  the things that will likely stay with me forever.

You read that correctly by the way. I only have one photo album.

Trust me. After twenty some years working in the funeral business you really can’t take it with you, and those who try to, make it really damn hard on their family.

The burden of leaving a huge pile of stuff for your loved ones to sort through after your death equals a crap load of emotional guilt when they realize that they too, can’t possibly save your precious memories.

Like I said, I have one photo album. When I moved into my current home, I realized just how much I had stashed away during the eight year stay we had at our previous home. I didn’t want to burden my child with having to sift through over 30 albums of meaningless photos should anything happen to me (and it will).  Photos were paired down to one album for myself, and five for the kid.

I kept at least one photo of each of my favourite people. When I open that album, which is rarely, my memories come flooding back. I remember how far I’ve come, who I loved and who loved me back. I don’t need a multi-volume album collection to remember the most meaningful moments in my life.

What I cherish from the days at that old apartment are the memories. The feeling that I get, no matter how foggy the details, thinking of the time  I spent parenting my favourite person in the world.  Nothing can bring those times back.

I’m ready to go. As far as my stuff goes anyway.  What I mean is, there’s not a hell of a lot I’m attached to. Almost everything of sentimental value fits inside a small trunk that I use for a coffee table.  The rest I hold in my heart.

Despite priding myself on my eclectic home, which is filled with framed art created by my friends, and special momentos, I really have very little stuff that I’m attached to.

More important than decluttering is the realization that the things that are special to me are connected to memories that are unique to me. Very few things hold meaning for anyone else, so why should I burden anybody  with sorting through meaningless stuff?

Pass down your stories, not your stuff.

Offer your sentimental items to someone who may also have an emotional appreciation for them. Donate anything that someone else would be grateful to have and use.  If you must, photograph the things that break your heart to part with but didn’t make the final cut, and load them in an album to look at when you need to reminisce.

Let your lightness lift you to new places and spaces.

 

 

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Intimately Yours

leloIntimate pleasure in the form of a mascara wand.

Not that it’s new, but hearing about it on The Shopping Channel  – TSC, was certainly a different experience.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not here to preach about sex toys on late night television. In fact, I watched in awe as a plasticized sex therapist delivered a most 1950’s-housewife-narrative regarding the ‘pleasure objects’ up for grabs.

I actually learned something new. Apparently there are products to tone your vagina. And they have a very buttery texture.

Had I not been four glasses of wine into mourning my uni roommate’s death, I may have had a different reaction. I may have been indignant that the beauty industry had weaselled their way into my vagina. I may have ranted unabashedly about  saggy testicles that hang out in the open exposing us all to their hairy, wrinkled homeliness.  Tone the surface my vagina? Seriously.  Like I’ve got time for that. Besides, at this age, the men of my vintage need reading glasses to see anything that close-up.

As it were,  the sound of my friend’s hysterical giggles filled my imagination, and I became glued to the late-night sex-toy drive.

Where I grew up, The Shopping Channel was akin to Amazon. It was the first sit-in-your-flannel-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-order-shit-you-don’t-need home-delivery service. I know many a country-bumpkin with simulated gemstone finds.  Now I have to wonder if they were all the most sexually satisfied, oppressed women in South-Western Ontario. Maybe I’ve been wrong all this time.

As the women on the show (host, sales rep and sex therapist),  discussed the very buttery texture of the vag cream, not, incidentally to be confused or used as a lubricant, I began to admire their command of very precise language.

These women were trying to sell a 2020 audience less phallic pleasure objects so that we didn’t intimidate our partners.  Less threatening, as in; it seemed like they assumed everyone was heterosexual, and women who used sex toys had to hide them from their men in order that said men’s masculinity could be unrealistically held above all else, as sacred.

There was just so much wrong with this.

I laughed, thinking how my friend and I would have laughed until we cried.   I could hear her beautiful giggle, and her gasping, “What the actual f@*k?!”  between laughing fits.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recommend  the sex therapist who hosted. I don’t think anyone needs to be encouraged to feel any more self conscious about their sexuality than they already are, especially when it comes to being less threatening to the phallic brutality that has dominated the lives of women since the dawn of time.

I might however recommend what I’m going to call the  mascara wand vibrator to slip into your make-up bag for weekend getaways.

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Reminder: Women’s Day is Every Day

International Womens Day HistoryJust prior to quitting time on Friday, I got a call put through to my desk . It was the kind of phone call that we all dread.

My best friend, the woman I lived with during my university days, giggled with uncontrollably, and knew me before I was married, had a child, or knew the weight of being a responsible adult, had died.

We hadn’t seen each other in too long.

As with many conversations between women my age, our last digital conversation this week had ended with, ” We should get together soon.”

That was the last thing she wrote to me. My friend, who was going to be a great novelist.  Who giggled as we staggered home from middle-of-the-week-nights out,  and egged me up onto the stage on my 21st birthday to sing a Hank Williams song.

We won’t be getting together soon. I’d feel sorry for myself, but my heart is breaking for her children who will not be seeing their mother again.

In honour of Women’s Day, I waxed my mustache.

She would have liked that. She had my sense of humour.

My friend was one of the first women who shared my passion for feminism and free speech.

She was there for me when my mother couldn’t be. What I mean is, my mother was one of those women who felt trapped her entire life because she was a woman. She never had an opportunity, or the support we often give one another as women, to realize our worth, our power, and our innate depth as women.

International Women’s Day is a day I try to honour every year for that reason.  My best friend and I spoke up, protested, railed against the patriarchy if only in our university theses and ability to drink anyone under the table during informal debates.

And then life happened.  We got married, went back to school and had children in alternating patterns, and time became an enemy.  Time is the greatest of gifts, and we all need to be more careful how we spend it.

During Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, my phone lights up with messages and thoughts from friends and colleagues. I have the best women friends.

On this Women’s Day I am so thankful to be going out with friends as a balm for my grief.  My gregarious friend will be looking down on me, or perhaps even the devil on my shoulder, while I swig a cold beer and toast her joi de vivre.  Women’s day also involves receiving token recognition from  organizations that keep the systems running in such a way that ‘Women’s Day’ is necessary.

Women very much live in patriarchal construct of time. This mostly includes honouring the  9-5 grind on top of fulfilling the much undervalued drives of mothering and our need for connection.

Let Women’s Day remind you this year of how important it is to spend time with our gal-pals. Let it be a reminder for you, above anyone else, to prioritize and respect the energy you put in to how you spend your time.

Happy Women’s Day to all of my dear friends, regardless of gender and age.

Go out there, and make some memories. Remind us all that we have safe harbour, infinite potential, and reasons to laugh until we can’t catch our breath.

 

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Life After 40: Finding the Face of the Invisible Woman

 

Saturday morning I spent two hours researching wrinkle serum. Yes, serum, not cream, because at the ripe old age of just over 45, the skin on my face that once was perfect, is now taunting me with oiliness.

As usual, upon waking, I brushed my teeth and washed my face, applying a store-brand moisturizer  before I padded down the stairs on my freshly pedicured tootsies, to fill up on coffee. It was time to research anti-aging serums. I came across the Clinique Canada site which offered a skin assessment. 

I flipped the camera on my phone so I could see a reflection of my freshly scrubbed face. Gee-Sus!!! When the hell did I finish growing grandma’s jowls  on my face??? The little scanner slid across my reflection, and I was horrified at how much I looked like a sadder version of Cathy Bates in Misery.

A wise woman once told me that at a certain age, I would become invisible. After my little analysis, I was almost grateful to slide under the radar as someone unworthy of notice.

Invisible; I was shocked when it happened. Not because I didn’t believe it, but because I had always been able to stand out in a crowd.  I’ve never considered myself a beauty, but perhaps a natural beauty, with an easy laugh, and ability to gatsby-socialize and bring a smile to almost anyone’s face in any circumstance. I was a sure thing at a party, and in the sack. I was cute. I was confident. I was under 40.

You have an easy smile…

You have beautiful skin. ..

Is that your natural eye colour or are those contacts?…

These were an assortment of daily compliments that were gifted to me during the course of my day-to-day interactions. Eventually these compliments have dwindled to become merely a distant memory.

That’s how it happened. Not all of a sudden, but gradually. It was like putting on your favourite jeans one day, and not being able to button them up. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t rock me. It was like trying to keep my balance during an earthquake. It didn’t matter what I tried to cling to in my repetoire of feel-good-physical-traits, nothing felt stable.

The older women were correct; the crepe-skinned-chain-smoking-60-something-one-time-beach-bunny who advised me to make my memories while I was young, my mumster who first presented the invisibility theory, and my granola-crunching senior advisors who cheered on my loose-morals and stiletto heeled antics from the closed-door sidelines of their lonely Friday nights.

Wisely, I did indulge in all of the sensual pleasures of youth, and I’m still a bit of a lush when it comes to wine, women and song. I am also however more aware of the pressure that we face as women to never age (on the outside).

Unless you’ve made a career of your beauty, or were privileged enough to have role models who convinced you to establish self-care habits  at an early age,  you likely have found yourself staring back at one hell of a woman whom you fear is trapped, forever under  jowls and deep wtf wrinkles between her brows.

Today I smiled when a friend of mine who just rounded the corner on 40 commented on the not-so-easy-to-transform, changes in her body. This, the same person who made me cry when she told me I looked old, just as I was feeling old for the very first time in my life.  I told her I’d just been out buying skin care products….and an absurd amount of red wine…

I shared with her some of the things I have found that bring a smile to my over-forty-face. They help to make me glow on the outside the same way I still feel on the inside;

 

  1. Dr. Jart Vital Hydra Solution Mask

dr jart

 

2. Clinique – All About Eyes

all about eyes

3. Hope’s End Red Blend

hopesend

4. Revlon Super Lustrous in Love That Pink

love that pink

5. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair

wrinkle repair

 

6. Life Brand Bubbling Face Mask

This comes in new, white packaging now.

bubbling face mask