Dare to Be Donald

donald

Not the infamous, Asshat Donald.

Today I”m talking about Donald who works at my local book store.

A couple of days ago, I picked up the phone to make sure that they had a copy of my book-club-book in stock before I fought Toronto’s ridiculous traffic to pick it up on my way to yoga class.

Yah, I know. First-world-problem-enough for you?

Anyway, when I called, it was early and I expected a worn out part-time employee’s weary voice on the other end, with just a hint of why-don’t-you-just-order-online sarcasm.

Instead I got Donald.

“GOOD MORNING! You’ve reached your local bookstore, and my name is DONALD! How can I make your day better?”

We chatted about what I was looking for, he put me on hold as he verified he could lay hands on it, and then came back and shared words to live by in his farewell address;

“Don’t eat too much cake today at the party because we’re going to celebrate with bubbly after that!”

We need more Donald in our lives. We need to challenge his enthusiasm, joy, and whatever help he gets by with.

Go out into the world today, treat it like a party, and dare to be like Donald.

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To The Next Family Who Moves Into Our ‘Ghetto’ Apartment

Home-Quotes-21Dear Family,

My son and his friends often referred to our little apartment as, ‘ghetto’.

As in; not the mortgaged palace of a dual income family, decorated in the safe fashion of the day (grey/beige).

It’s the home where I raised my son.

It’s  the home where I painted his childhood room the brightest shade of lime green imaginable, and where we wandered outside into the courtyard , wearing our pajamas,  to look at the full moon.

I left our little ghetto pad to move closer to work when my kiddo launched into young, adult life. I moved to a three bedroom, townhome,  where homes sell for well over six zeros.

 

The ghetto apartment that you are about to move into is as much a home as any finer four walls that you will ever find. I daresay, that it’s likely the place where I spent the very best years of my life,  relishing every moment of motherhood.

We roasted marshmallows over real wood fires in  the fireplace, hosted full houses of friends at Christmas and Thanksgiving. We had nightly rendez-vous to the kitchen for tasty midnight snacks, and it’s where we knew we could come and close out the badness in the world when we needed refuge. By the way, I left you some dry firewood in the shed so that you can enjoy some fires this winter, when the wind whips wildly outside the patio door.

During the finer weather, we had ‘happy hour’ together; Gatorade, water, or whatever else we nursed while talking about the events of the day. It was a plain patio, but it was good therapy.

You are moving into the home where the kitchen doorway is marked in pencil with my kiddo’s growth chart. It’s small, but every night I could poke my head outside of my bedroom door into the darkness and listen to the soft sound of my kiddo sleeping safely.

Your ghetto home has some colourful neighbours; the man with dementia who hollers like the devil, the young ladies whom I think may be prostitutes, the fitness fanatic, and the little old lady who pokes her head out of her second floor patio door to let me know she appreciates the beauty of the flowers that I plant every year. Please plant some flowers for her and put up some Christmas lights – she’s lonely.

I spent some of the best years of my life in that ghetto apartment, and I think that my kiddo did too.

Not only did I pack up boxes and boxes of our stuff, but I also took the important things with me when I moved too; heart, attitude and love.  All of this so that I could make the new four walls home. Home is about heart and not place.

To the family moving into our ghetto home, my wish for you is that your time there is as deeply satisfying as it was for me. Spend time there. Sit on the edge of your child’s bed and giggle with them. Give them a cool soak in the old, worn out bathtub when they get fevered, and be sure to  run out into the courtyard in your pajamas to look at the moon.

Abounding Grace & The ‘F’ Word

angrywomanFor months, maybe even years I wrote about how I had observed the incredible life-affirming beauty of grace in action.

I wrote about people overcoming heart-shattering loss, adversity, and hardship with incredible grace; without fists to the sky, without making the lives of those around them miserable, without despair.

I wanted to be able to handle shit that way. I think we all do. What I have discovered is that we don’t necessarily want the practice that it takes to be graceful. In other words, it takes hardship to to learn how to navigate the rough rapids of change with some savvy and style; Without using the ‘F’ word, without letting the shit show shadow all of the other other elements of our lives that we have to be thankful for.

As I have been chronicling in my mid-life-move blog, Andsheshines, (Be sure to subscribe!!!)

I believe I’ve finally leveled up when it comes to coping. You can read about some of my experiences in the great adventure of preparing to empty-nest,  moving in with a man for the first time in two decades, and everything else that goes bump-in-the-night while those stages of life march onward. Time waits for no woman, and I’m going to ride my time like the wild woman that I am.

Just Because You’re Supposed To Doesn’t Mean You Should; Maiden Mother Crone

maiden mother croneI’m old now. Ok, not really old, but older, and women in their 20’s and 30’s think I”m the wise old owl. I kind of dig it.

I’m the lady younger women come to for advice, to air their worries, and that they see as some kind of icon of independence, strength and compassion. They also think I’m eccentric, old and clueless at times. It’s a fine balance,and I think I can handle it.

At the root of all issues for most young ladies and old alike is the fine balance of fulfilling our practical obligations and doing the things that make us feel good.

We slip into our roles as caregivers in a Stepford-kind-of-way. So much of what we do falls into a less-than-conscious way of being. We do because that’s what we’re supposed to do; because that’s what everyone expects.

And then we lose ourselves to all of that. We simply do not have time to do the things we love. We don’t prioritize it. Women’s soul-work is not valued. We become mothers to our partners subtle demands. Guilt can be sinister and subtle.

So, to the younger ladies who come to me with their relationship, career and creative struggles, my one piece of advice is to do what makes them feel alive, and make sure they have a solid resume to support themselves.

I’m as guilty as the next woman when it comes to romantic ideals, but I’m older and wiser now.  If a partner tells you they’re not good enough for you; they’re not. If they tell you they’re not sure where the relationship is going; it’s not going anywhere. Embrace what brings you joy and go do that .

 

Bottom line, do not stop prioritizing the things that bring you solitary joy. For me it’s writing, painting, going to art galleries and camping.  Stick with your tribe. You need your girlfriends and you need to keep your own zest for life alive.

crone poem

 

Potential: The Alternative Reality

brick-wallDo you ever just get tired of trying to reach someone?

Seriously. There are only so many times  you can explain to someone, ask someone, or try. And then you give up.

Wise women recognize that  before it makes them a raving lunatic.  The problem is, if someone is important enough to try and reach (emotionally), you likely don’t want to give up. You convince yourself that they also want to be reached. You convince yourself of all the good that’s in them. You convince yourself that there’s potential.

Potential is a dangerous word, most often a desperate, unfulfilled hope, and a broken promise that was never really made in the first damn place. . In a word, potential is: dangerous and, quite frankly,  women over 40 don’t have the lifespan left, or the patience to deal with potential. Potential can rob you of a wonderful reality. 

I’m convinced that there are people out there (other fabulous pals and lovers) who won’t make you wait. Who won’t keep you guessing, and won’t leave you fantasizing about potential, because they are living it, in the present moment.

Let’s drop this potential crap and get back to reality shall we darlings?

 

The Once Every Six Week Crap-Out

a-crying-ladyMy Mumster suggested to me that I just flow through what she calls, “The Once Every Six Week Crap Out”. Being a ‘crap-out’, it’d kinda tough. Being in the middle of the bleak mid-winter makes it even tougher.

Tears have been a companion off and on for a few days, and I’m sure, given the shit way the morning started out, they will be again today. But that’s ok. I have tissue.

Focus is something I grasp at during these days of sacrifice. I say sacrifice as I believe that after a holiday filled with indulgence and excess, our bottoms and our bottom lines need some reigning in.

My tendency is to withdraw into myself and hibernate a bit, keeping my energy for planning wonderful things like Winterlicious dinners, allowing the characters I’m writing about to come out and play, and choosing something to accomplish.

To my gal pal who spent her birthday alone yesterday, I want to let you know you were in my heart. Been there, done that, and trust me, you’ll be better for it next year.

To my other gal pal who is working very hard at her profession, feeling guilty about money and family time, I am so very  proud of you.

To a few of my pals, don’t feel alone  in your intimate relationship. I’m with ya, and coffee and a good talk with a friend go a long, long, way. Call me.

To my Mumster who normalized the every-six-week-crap-out, thank you ever so much. It helps me in my practice to never forget the temporary nature of all things. It helps me just let go of all of the insignificant crap that interferes with the incredible woman I’ve worked so hard to become.

To my dear friends, I hope that your once-every-six-wee-crap-out is a catharsis of sorts, leaving you feeling purged of your demons and ready to step back onto the road of fabulousness.

 

 

 

Three Little Birds: In My Head

There have been a few things rolling around in my mind lately.

What would the new year be if we  weren’t inundated with media pimping health and wellness gimmicks?

squatI’ve never been a skinny chick, and I don’t know that I’d be that comfortable being all angles and bones, but I don’t really dwell on it. I haven’t always loved my curves, or my height . As a young woman I struggled against the unrealistic messages that bombarded me via the media.

But I grew into my body, and I learned to love it and rollick in sensuality.

With a partner who finds it necessary to grab my love handles while asking, ” Are you going to the gym?”, the last thing I need is to second guess my own chutzpah. So this brings me to the first thing on my mind; why do people obsess over fitness and diet instead of trying to incorporate healthy habits?

bruce-trailPersonally I find it hard to seek support because people go overboard with it all. I need a workout buddy who can make being active fun. I also, like most women need less housework, a shorter commute, and a thyroid that works.

I need a workout buddy like the person who came up with this quote; I found out today that you can’t get a gym membership, ‘Just to watch’.
I don’t do well with being uncomfortable taking my clothes off in front of a man. My solution: be good to myself. Not to feel sorry for myself, but to rejoice in my over-the-top voluptuousness, sense of humour, joie de vivre and to get my groove back. I’m even going to try some reading material; The Self Esteem Coach, and the classic, The Art of Seduction. 

I honestly hope that something fun and delicious interrupts me so I don’t actually have to do the work and I can cop out, but I likely should do the work.

Honestly, I’m over 40, and I’m convinced that at this age women ought to be comfortable in their own skin and totally owning their goddess.

So that was my first one.

The second thing on my mind has been the take over of mocking Donald Trump in social media. Satire (and this is proven) does not change politics. Humour makes it funnier in a sad and apathetic way, but it’s ineffective as a tool to use against change.

It took a man with true leadership skills to cut the bullshit;

If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with them in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.

protestQuit whining and gather in the streets. Don’t just bitch there darling, do something about it. If you’re not willing to do something about it, please shutupinski.

The third thing that’s been on my mind is the incredibly fast pace of doing absolutely nothing meaningful. Go to work, pay the bills, eat what you’re supposed to, take as many steps as the latest gadget deems healthy, measure every single aspect of your life until you’re too tired to enjoy it. Oh my gawd! What a wonderful life! Pass the lorazapam and tuck me in for the next decade. This sucks.

moomooUm, no thanks. Burn my bras and send me a moo-moo. I don’t really buy in, and I never have. I do find it incredibly more exhausting to be surrounded by people who do.

So, I beg of you. Get off your ass and have some fun. Call me (please!!!) so I can do that with you. When we’re having fun, being creative, laughing and working together toward a kinder, more gentle society, I believe that changing ourselves and the world will happen, just a little more organically and way more joyfully.

P.S. Seriously, I need this moo-moo.

 

A Little Bit of Medicine Makes the Madness Go Down

gin-and-tonic

“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Limes, tonic water and club soda are at the top of my grocery list. Guess what’s getting me through the horror-show that is American politics? You got it ladies – booze. Booze, helpless laughter and apathetic photos of cute, baby animals.

Spending a day trapped under the weight of a huge writer’s block, I turned to Twitter and Instagram, only to be bombarded by angry politics.

I get it. I do. I’m a fighter for anything I believe in, and I do believe it’s time to fight. But a gal needs a to retreat into comfort to gather her wits.

Given the internal, spiritual distress it’s causing, I’m hoping a few of my favourite things will fortify my faith in human beings again; a satisfying nosh at a TO restaurant paired with aglianico  and political conversation, the passionate and detailed attention of an attentive lover, a controversial novel and even a loud girl talk in public.

What makes it all sweeter is that this madness that is the USA, is a serious threat to all of the above mentioned freedoms, especially for women.

Do whatever gets you through ladies. Stock up on your favourite cocktail elixirs, take comfort in the arms of an accomplished lover, gather and plan in circles of strong women.

Whatever you do, remember how much courage it took for women to pave the way for us, and never, never give up.

Cheers!

Blowing Out the Candles

candlesOn the eve of my 4o-plus-somethingish birthday, I cannot help but reflect upon the lessons I have learned this year. In theory I’m an expert.  In practice, however, that’s another story.

I do believe that the difference between theory and practice is the key to successful living though darlings, because bridging that gap is the difference between annoying should-sayers, and the people who shine brightly and inspire the rest of us.

Grace has been a concept I’ve wanted to put into practice  throughout the past few years. There are  times I have failed miserably; my birthday breakdown at a bar while trying to sort out my mother issues; my insecurity as a partner, my ability to maintain a positive attitude in light of the every day demands of living. Yah, I’ve failed a few times.

But I have learned a few things from all of that bluster, and I’m old enough to take the liberty of sharing them with you;

  1. I have spent way too much time on my hair.
  2. We allow ourselves to be led by a false economy and fabricated news. Does it feel right? Do it. Does it feel wrong? Don’t. The world would be a better place if we all followed the golden rule.
  3.  If you love your body, it will love back. At a certain point you realize your body feels better when you eat this and not that; when you do this and not that.  It loves water and apples and decadent butter cream chocolate from your favourite Chocolaterie. It does not like to listen to people incessantly rambling about fad diets or extreme routines. Love your body, let it gently communicate to you, and it will love you back.
  4. Kindred spirits aren’t terribly hard to find, but it’s terribly hard to be vulnerable enough to get to know one.
  5. Create things. Anything. Creativity is your human spirit making itself present in the world. Let it sing, paint, write, carve, stitch, bake….whatever! Let your mind wander and your spirit reveal itself.
  6. Do not let bitchy people ruin your day. Attitude is contagious – be sure to protect yourself.
  7. Nobody’s watching. Seriously. Just relax.
  8. Change is scary, but constant. If you can be excited through the fear, you have life licked.
  9. You need friends of all ages; older ones and younger ones, and people who transcend age. You need nurturing and affection and the awesome healing power of human touch.
  10. Flannel jammies, hot tea and a good hobby to keep you occupied are three simple things that are highly under-rated.
  11. Always, always, always buy the shoes.

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.