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To My Beautiful Friend

cannonball

I woke up this morning thinking about a conversation that I had with a friend yesterday. He is a really good guy, with a smile and attitude that goes on forever.  He was complaining about his body. We’re both part of the not-likely-to-make-the-cover-of-Vanity-Fair-crew. We will likely never-ever be swimsuit models, but we’re freaking awesome people.

What I woke up wanting to say to the world today is not to let your comparison with the bodies of others ruin your one and only precious life. What I wanted to say to my stressed-out-over-his-belly friend is that he is beautiful, and nobody cares about his body, we just care about whether he’s a good person; and he is. The best kind of person.

Oh, and his blood pressure and other health indicators are top notch. In other words, the body that he’s frustrated with is healthy. Seriously, that’s what it’s all about. Yes, life is not about the people who try to make us self-conscious about our bodies so that they can feel better about their shitty personality.

Let me tell you a tragic story; I grew up on the lake with a mother who always hated the way her body looked in a swimsuit, never wanted to get her hair wet, and let her own anxiety over comparing her  appearance with that of others essentially cripple her ability to savor the moment. It made her miserable from the inside out.

As a little (tomboy) girl, I vowed no matter how big my belly was, jiggly my thighs, or wild my hair, I was going to dive right into life, and enjoy it all.  And I’ve mostly been able to do that, although at times, I admit, my anxiety does get a grip. After all, we all want to be attractive, feel special, and even get our sexy on.

All too often I have conversations with people who are unhappy with their bodies; I’m too fat. My ass is flat. My ass is huge. My belly is big. My hair is unruly. My thighs are ugly…

The list goes on and on, and it’s starting to bother me more than just a little.

As a mortician, I marvel at the human body in it’s living form. What a miracle! What a beautiful, delightful, unique miracle. Mwah! I love it all!

Our bodies do so much of the work for us in this life, while our minds groove reckless, like wild horses. Start giving praise where praise is due; thank you, you bad-ass jiggle monster thighs for getting me where I need to go; thank you arms for carrying everything that I drag around with me every day; thank you abundant ass for giving me a nice place to sit; thank you for housing my awesome, kind, dynamic and charismatic spirit!

Take your body to the beach. Give it some fresh air. Wrap  it in that wild shirt, the bright shorts and celebrate it. It’s not just a thing, it’s part of who you are, and mostly, you are awesome.

I spent years counselling people who had their bodies ravaged by disease, just waiting for the day when their bodies finally failed them completely and they had to say good-bye to everyone they  loved. There was a lot of regret. I witnessed this thousands of times. Trust me, there will come a day when you would love to have a chance to live with that fat belly, or jiggly thighs, or unruly hair.

So love it all now while you can. Adorn your one and only body with colour, go everywhere and don’t try to make yourself small. Love your body and maybe, just maybe, it will love you back.

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How to Know When You’re Old

You know you’re getting old when…

You’ve become the person you used to look to for guidance. No where is this more evident than in my career.

I began a second career in my late twenties. Yah, I know that sounds outrageous, but it’s true. I was passionate, interested, engaged and enthusiastic.

If aging has taught me anything about the above qualities, it’s that I miss my enthusiasm the most.

growing older but not up

 

Don’t get me wrong, I get excited about things, but they’re different than they once were. After all, just this morning I actually uttered the words, ” I almost fell over when I met him. He looks just like a guy I used to date. Turned out he was a murderer.”

How much enthusiasm can you have for anything when you’ve had that kind of experience? I mean really, that kind of over-the-top-outrageousness wears thin after a while. Coming home to a cat, and  reheated take-out becomes heavenly.

And that’s how you know you’re getting old.

Yesterday my shift partner (whom has worked with me through a company change and six years) asked if the noise of our younger colleagues got to me. I had to admit that it did. I asked him, ” You know why it bothers us”?

“No,” he said.

“It’s because we’re old” I said with a little grin. “We’re the old ones now, and we used to be exactly like them.”

He nodded as he laughed and walked away muttering something about it being true.

And that’s how you know you’re getting old.

Last week I had an evening planned with one of my best gal-pals. I bought her tickets to see Jerusalem. The day-of, I received an email which I considered a warning. The gist of it was that running time of the play was three hours, so prepare to sit for a loooooong time. I was pissed. PISSED! Three hours?! What on earth could possibly be so good that I needed three hours to experience it. Goodness knows I didn’t want to be out all night. What I wanted was to go home, put on jeans and a sweater, and have some god-damned peace and quiet.

What I got instead was a very pleasant and unexpected reminder of just how amazing getting out really is for my creative spirit.

I thought I was so over the  restaurant and theatre thing in Toronto. Seen it. Done it. Don’t need to do it again.

When you start thinking like that, well, that’s how you know you’re getting old.  What makes it true is to continue to think that way and to act on it.

So yes my lovelies, we are all aging, but old really cuts to the bone.

As I age, I realize that I have to make an effort not to poo-poo what I assume I already know. That’s what makes us old from the inside out. Pushing back against this resistance of futility will keep me youthful, vibrant and creative, even if my outsides don’t look like it so much any more.

 

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The Afterglow-Or Not; Keeping the Passion Alive, One Closed Bathroom Door At a Time

how beautiful our love isI don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I can start around 17 years ago when I got divorced.

At that time, I decided a few things about my next real relationship. I decided that I would really examine my own self and try to improve. I also decided that the only person that I would clean up after would be a human being whom I gave birth to.

Most importantly I decided that I never, ever….never, ever, ever needed to see my partner on the toilet. I never, ever needed to hear them or smell them. Oh yah. This is a big boundary for me, and my man knows it.

 

With three children in university and college, and all the stresses of merging two lives and two families, let’s just say our communication has been a series of to-do and to-buy lists along with griping about the others living habits. Our intimate communication has been less than five star. In fact, it’s been f-ing horrible.

The long and the short of it is that we committed to re-connecting, and after our hour-of-power-a-la-boudoir, we began to settle in to what I like to refer to as a ‘time of tenderness’. You know what  I mean ladies, when you feel all cuddly and want to talk, and reconnect to the awesome partner you fell in love with. With the bother of passion out of the way, it was clearly time to rekindle our friendship. This is also usually the time that your man falls asleep and you begin hating him again.

So last night, music playing in the background, stretched out feeling blissful, reliving our recent forray into, well, let’s call it the-glorious-climb-to-the-snow-capped-peak…. I awaited my man’s return from our en suite bathroom.

man on toilet

Do not leave the bathroom door open unless you’re sick.

In the candlelit quiet, my heart eased a bit, and I actually felt like a woman, not a domestic workhorse. From the bathroom;

“Hey – do you like The Killers?”

In my head; Sweet Jesus, does the man have a romantic drop of blood in his body?

Out loud; “Yes.”

He then passes gas, tinkles and says, “So do I.”

In my head; Brilliant.  He’s perched on the toilet with the door open. The romance is, officially dead.

…and back we go to the reality of life. Poop. Money. Who’s cooking dinner.

It really takes work to keep a spark alive. Trust me, keep the pilot light lit, it makes it a lot easier.

Remember that you’re friends, and always, always, always, close the bathroom door.

 

 

 

 

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The Pink Panther & Deep Purple: Remembering Your Sensual Self

orangeblossomcandleDeep purple. The Pink Panther. Randall.

You know what I”m talking about ladies – your BOB’s.

For those of you not in the 90’s know, BOB is a dirty acronym. Battery. Operated.  Boyfriend.

If you deny having one, either you’re missing out, or  you’re lying.

Recently I had the occasion to invite another BOB into my life. Not because I was jonesing for a new part-time lover, but for other personal reasons. And we shall leave it at that.

At mid-life sexuality is interesting. Just like everything else; our careers, our relationships, and our perspective on how-in-the-hell-did-we-end-up-here.

At this stage, when it comes to sex you’ve either giddy-uped, gotten-down and satisfied your every whim, or you’re spent shell of a person wondering how you missed out on it all. At this age, whether you really  ever need to see anyone else your age naked is a question you start to consider seriously.

Naked and sex are often poor substitutes for sensuality, when really, they are the pleasurable end-result.

Sensuality is Marc Broussard singing Do Right Woman.

You may think that BOB is going to make you feel sexual. For a while, and for a purpose, but more than BOB, you need to remember how to make love to yourself.

Too often the synchronicity of making time for our significant others feels like another obligation, rather than the joy of connection that it should be. Sensuality gets discouraged, because after all, wouldn’t it be nice to always end a hot bath or beautiful snack with some lovemaking? Alas, we are too often left alone feeling like a cog in a relationship wheel, unappreciated as a sensual being.

This is where your imagination comes in. Start with BOB if you must, but try to remember what it’s like to soak in a luxurious bath surrounded by the scents that make you exhale…orange blossom, vanilla, cinnamon. You need to remember how good it feels to pass the razor over your tired legs, and to massage your favourite shampoo into your scalp.

bath

Perhaps like me, you enjoy the cool, salty sensation of fresh oysters and creamy champagne, or a pungent blue cheese accompanied with port by candlelight on a crisp fall evening.

BOB may help you remember the end game, but it won’t love you the way you can love you baby.

Indulge in the sensual sights, smells and sensations that remind your body of just how sexy it is.  Trust me, someone will notice.

 

 

 

 

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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.

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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.