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.

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Pithy Advice, The Artwork of Our Time

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There’s a lot of advice out there. Everyone gives it out like it’s the best thing in the world. But it’s not. It’s usually unsolicited and fucking awful.

When I’m feeling like this, the most therapeutic thing to do is to pour a beer, play some Janis Joplin on the annoying side of loud, throw my hands in the air and let the universe take over.

Nobody ever gives out cool, easy  Janis-Joplin-fuck-it advice. Nobody.

Today while meandering through a home decor store, I cruised by the aisle with the paintings and plethora of signs with pithy sayings.

in-this-house

 

Seriously? We all know that in ‘this house’, we do life the best we can, and that all this schmarmy shit is  a bunch of Stepford-bullshit-hoo-ha.

 

left-the-gate-open

 

Oh, bugger off.

dream-picture

 

Dream, hope, love…yes, I never want to lose those soft elements of my soul, but sometimes, it’s a little too much.

Tacky quotes have replaced art, creativity and independent thought. We have been so brainwashed that we hang our directives to suck-it-up in our living rooms.

Carl Jung is my hero. He championed the balancing of our shadow selves and touted it as the key to wholeness. If only the commoner could come to terms with their own anger, jealousy, fear and whatever other emotions aren’t considered pleasant.

I’d love to see some signs that say; you’re doing ok under the circumstances, and you are under no obligation to marginalize your less-Disney-like emotions? I once even thought I was going to embroider a sign to hang over the liquor cabinet that said:

Come unto me all who are weary…Matthews 11:28

Humour helps. When advice is plentiful and patience scarce, you don’t have to dance like no one is watching, or love like you’ve never been hurt.  Because people do watch (and give advice on how to dance better), and we’ve all been hurt.

For those who are also weary of placating the powers that be by stealing our passion and swallowing our sense of injustice, trust me when I tell you that telling the universe to fuck off once in a while can be completely, and utterly cathartic.

Now, excuse me while I commune with Janis and carry on exactly as I am.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

What the Women’s March on Washington Means to a White Chick

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” A house divided against itself cannot stand.” ~Abraham Lincoln~

I’m as white as they come. I’m a woman. I will never be and have never been anything other than I am. I will never know what it’s like to be Black, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, financially affluent or well-connected, and the folks who identify as all of those things and many more will never know what it’s like to identify as me.

Farah Stockman’s article on the front page of the New York Times brings up a lot of really great questions about race, class, privilege and other social issues. I suggest you read it.

The Women’s March on Washington is an opportunity to come together as a community to protest the ass-hat who was elected (and yes, by a number of ‘white women’) as the next President of the United States. I believe that everyone who voted for Ms. Clinton should be in the streets to protest the twisted fuck up that is known as the Electoral College. I believe in the power of numbers and the power of kindness.

To the groups who have made the March a divisive issue, thank you for falling into the eons old trap of dividing women to diminish our power. It happens in families, in the workplace, and now, under the spotlight of a grand social scale.

For once in our history of gender, let us come together without any other motive than to access the full potential of our political clout; the marginalized power of the sacred feminine.

What spiritual, political and ethical living come down to for me is; how would you treat me if I needed your help on the street?  I like to think that we would all, when we’re eye to eye, regardless of race, creed, class, gender or anything else, reach out and help. If you don’t feel the same way because I am white ( thanks for assuming), perhaps your place is not at an inclusive March?

You’re preaching to the converted. We’re there because we support equality, and we’re not afraid to learn more.

Bring your signs. Show the world what you stand for; is it gender equality, racial equality, equal pay…??? Bring it and come in droves. But don’t hate the next person for being different, appreciate them because they are there, standing side by side with you, supporting you even though they carry a different message. What matters is the message of unity against evil.

I will stand happily with my white friends, my black friends, my Muslim and Buddhist friends; male, female, trans and anyone else who simply wants to make the world a more loving place to live. I don’t care how you identify, as long as it’s from a place of inclusiveness and love.

This is what the Women’s March means to me.

 

Ringtones, Podcasts & Cupcakes

Today my phone chimed in with the famous ringtone I used to assign to men worthy of the term, ‘lover‘,  Let’s Get it On. Yes, I’ve a twisted sense of humour and I’m a phone screener extraordinaire. This ringtone used to either inspire my laughter or disgust, and based on my reaction, I knew whether I wanted to pick up or not.

 

What are old lovers if not opportunistic? Having known my preferences for well over a decade, he was fulfilling his annual happy-new-year-can-I-get-up-your-skirt-check-in-requirement, that quite frankly, had served him  well throughout the years.

Despite my hands-off status, it was interesting to hear from him. You see, besides his jack-of-all-boudoir-trades skills, he was quite a companion of intellect as well.

Which got me to thinking about thinking.

plato-s-symposium-anselm-feuerbach-1873Intellect and thoughtful conversation have always been a huge turn on for me. In our fast-paced lives of distracted-attention-deficit-afflicted-engagement with our loved ones and contemporaries, who has time to think? Like, really take time to put an idea on its’ axis and examine it from all sides? More importantly, who even realizes that we don’t do that? Most importantly, who takes time to set aside a few hours to have meandering discussions about ideas or the creative process, or how we found ourselves at the bottom of the political wheel again? Very few people even have the time, attention or inclination to actually read books (yes, plural) with fully expounded upon ideas, let alone form any original thoughts all on their own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scolding anyone, I’m as guilty as the next cog.

Tonight, the noise from the television was right up with there with the noise from a leaf blower (a contraption I believe proves our culture has lost it’s collective fucking mind). With dramatic music playing in the background, and a black and neon blue-lit set to match, celebrity couples were  being pimped on one of those disgustingly pretentious cooking shows.  Le sigh….

Has the world seriously come down to this? Really? We’re judging other people’s fondant and cupcakes with more earnest than our national leaders? Buh. Arf. Do something worthwhile for crying out loud! Sit at the table and eat wieners and beans, but for the love of all that’s holy, try to have an intelligent, engaged conversation.

The poop on the television was in direct contrast to the entertainment I chose on a short road-trip this afternoon. A phone call from a previous lover inspired me to take  time to indulge in some exercise for my intellect. It was refreshing to step away from the madness and listen to someone who has taken the time to do some thinking for us.

 

In a world filled with entertainment that at best can be a terrific study in dramatic background music (queue the chocolate cupcakes ), podcasts can offer us  something more substantial.

Trust me, I understand the value of small talk to safely test the waters of new acquaintances. For every discussion about philosophy, spirituality, art, or global justice, there is also a place for sports and fashion, but now, more than ever, we need to nurture our collective spirituality in order to hang on to not-so-long-ago-hard-won-social-justice.

Set the table and I’ll bring the cupcakes.

2017- Wishing You Enough

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“I have learned that to be with those I like is enough.” ~Walt Whitman~

Enough.

It was a simple sign that hung above the chair of my friend’s father during the last years of his life. We were never sure whether it meant he’d had enough, or that he felt like all that he had was enough; a distinct difference.

It was a quiet transition from the old to the new this year, but a transition nonetheless. With change on the horizon at our home for  the slippery, tail end of 2017,  it’s easy to get overwhelmed. In the moment however, I feel like I have enough, and that’s an awfully nice feeling.

One thing that I’ve noticed contributes to much unsatisfaction and anxiety is how ruthlessly we subject the minutiae of our lives to the scrutiny of being under the microscope.

Enough navel gazing already!

Enough analyzing to death every, single, damn thing that you do. Be. In.The. Moment.

My wish for you during 2017 is that your, “Enough”, is the deep, soul-satisfying kind.

Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares & What Every Man Needs to Remember at Christmas

christmas-tree-diamonds-19932765.jpgI’ve a had a few ‘precious’ moments this holiday season, (precious as in you’re-not-making-my-life-any-easier-in-any-way-shape-or-form-you-giant-whining-man-child). So this blog goes out to the gentlemen whom have inspired it.

I’m sure my  non-binary friends will find it in their hearts to excuse my battle of the sexes rant. I will use ‘he’ and ‘she’ liberally without committee debate regarding the political correctness of pronoun as I do believe that regardless of gender, partnership often becomes unbalanced in a mutiny-on-the-high-seas-kind-of-way.

Tonight my guy announced in true man-dumb fashion; “I hate having to go out shopping this week”. I did not give voice to my thoughts. No. Instead I sipped my pineapple cocktail and thanked the universe for booze and a great drug plan.

Christmas falls on the twenty-fifth of December every year dumbasses.

This is just a subtle reminder to men that, much like toilet paper and toothpaste, the holiday season isn’t delivered by fairies. You have to get off your ass and go get it; cook it, decorate it, bake it, wrap it, shop for it, lug it into the house, and plan for it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to relax while thinking of what needs to be done, so that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day go off without too many glitches; making sure that everyone has all of their favourites on the table.

butterscotch-squares“Just give me a list and I”ll look after it,” are the famous naive words of a man who has never been responsible for putting ambrosia and those fucking butterscotch and tooty-fruity-marshmallow-crap-bars on the table.

These are the famous words of men who don’t get why coming home without the sour cream and sage can send an overworked, underpaid woman into an opiod- booze-adled-bender…not that I’ve ever experienced that, but I’ve witnessed it, and it’s damn tempting. I’m sure I could play out a meltdown worthy of a standing ovation, and a man who decides never to be a dumb-ass again. Alas…

As I sat cross legged on the living room floor wrapping gifts on behalf of  my man, I thought that one day a woman will be doing the same thing for my son, just as my mother did for my father, and my grandmother for her husband. It’s called ENABLING.

In the past, I supposed that gender roles guilted the woman into doing the grunt work because society wouldn’t let her ‘work’. Now, bless my overworked soul, society not only expects us to work twice as hard for half of the money, it also expects us to do everything else too.

So there I sat on my ass wrapping gifts for him while he stretched out on the couch.

And that is why we deserve diamonds ladies. Lots and lots of fucking diamonds.

 

 

The Machine & Fierce Women

3x1wupaksuqncThe Machine and How it Works….an interesting string of thoughts in a book by  Thomas L. Freidman, Thank you For Being Late. Basically he talks about a writer being certain or at least having a theory about how the world works.

After dating someone I would consider to be a privileged male for a while, it’s clear to me that The Machine works way better for him than I. Dating a hearty feminist has not been easy for him, what, with me calling him on his sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant misogynistic bullshit.

But this isn’t a post about relationships. Not in the romantic way anyway. It’s about how the machine works for women. A shout out to my non-binary friends here; The Machine doesn’t work in your favour either.

What got me thinking about this was the suggestion that I provide a list of the cosmetics that I prefer to use.  This, after squeezing my belly fat and asking when I was going to the gym.

Answer to the first; whatever’s on sale. Answer to the second; none of your fucking business.

What does all of this personal interaction tell us about The Machine? The Machine is rigged to keep us submissive. It takes more energy (in the form of money) to buy our basic grooming products (soap, razors, feminine hygiene products).  We bear the judgement of society with regard to child-rearing, house-pride and keeping ourselves looking unrealistically young. And that’s just the beginning.

I shouldn’t say “we”, because I count myself and many of my friends among the witches and wise women; I honour my age and my experience, and I have no fear of poking a stick in the gears of the machine in order to bring your attention to it’s flaws.

That the leader of the free world was elected after condoning sexual assault, only reinforces the fact that The Machine works for the privileged male and the women who slip silently into their role as concubines to the system.

This Christmas, don’t let someone shame you because you don’t spend your hard earned dollars on cosmetic products with a label that do the same thing as those you can buy at the local store (if you use them at all). Ask for books, hell, ask for whatever you want, just don’t be a slave to The Machine, and don’t be a slave to fighting it either.

Instead, continue as if The Machine doesn’t exist. Live freely, with grace and integrity, but don’t be afraid to give the world the finger every now and then either. Being fierce is a feminine as it gets.

 

 

 

Pussy Grabbers & A Feminist Who Sends Christmas Cards

holiday-partyIf you’re offended by the headline, you might want to buckle up. If a disgusting greed-pig like Donald Trump can say the word on a global stage, any woman can use it to express herself. Suck it up.

I run a single-income, single family home, and I do it with chutzpah and pride. Until yesterday, I had forgotten about creating our annual dysfunctional-family-Christmas-card. Christmas here consists of a lot of visiting, a lot of food, lots of love, and a liberal sprinkling of wine. Self-described as a feminist-Buddhist-quasi-libertine, Christmas is another excuse to enjoy life. Don’t judge.

So this morning, job one (after making coffee and putting in a butternut squash to roast for a pot of soup) was to create our card.

Flipping through an old issue of the Shambala Sun (now The Lion’s Roar), I was reading an article about how a lady used to do the same thing, and how the card adapted to life’s changes; children, pets, grandchildren, her spouse…very sweet. But then one year when she placed her order and the question of quantity came up, there was no one left to send the card to. All of her contemporaries had passed away. Very sad.

So this is life. This passing of time. Just yesterday I was explaining to a colleague that I view ‘spending’ my time, much like a miser considers ‘spending’ their money. Time is the most precious thing that we have, and in the wake of the election results in the United States, I think that it’s important to take some of your precious time to consider exactly why and how the good ole’ U-S-of-A (and quite frankly, the rest of the modern western world), got where it is today.

And please, don’t misunderstand this as a jaded feminist perspective. It’s a justified, feminist perspective.

The most powerful ‘leader’ in the world, elected to office via a ‘democratic’ system, routinely and openly flaunted his disrespect for women, going so far as to comment that he would date his own daughter because she’s ‘hot’ (there’s a word for that  you incestuous slob), and how about his ‘grabbing them by the pussy’ moments? I’m sure a heterosexual man would be pleased if his fearless leader ok’d homosexual rape in the same nonchalant way.

When I think about how I spend my time, I can’t help but consider how much of the values of men (and women) like this steal my life, moment by moment.

I do not hate men. I happen to love men. But I will not abide this male-value-system, slut-shaming bullshit any longer. My life is too precious.

This year, I ordered my Christmas cards and remembered the story of the old lady who no longer had anyone to send them to. I will not live in anger as the majority of the world runs around chasing a commodity that will exist long after our last breath.

I will live freely. I will enjoy the finer things in life; friendship, creativity, meaningful work, making love with whomever the hell I like. You know, the things in life that don’t require a ticket, and  don’t require the approval of men who grab pussies.

 

 

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.