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What did you win? ~ What didn’t I?

do what you loveYah, last year I jumped on the speeding wagon of NaNoWriMo and fell off almost immediately.

This year I won. I won!!!

What did you win?

I actually completed the first draft of my novel. Which leaves me with over 200 pages of crap to edit during the next few months.

Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I’m going to be the next J.K. Rowling. But I do think I’ll be a hell of a lot more interesting, joyful and fulfilled than a lot of people my age who have no other hobbies than gossiping, bitching and the occasional hangover.

Hobbies, interests, and stepping out into the world to be exposed to new ideas and different people helps to make us better people, or at the very least more engaged.  Apathy after all is really not just the biggest sin against humanity, but it’s boring as hell. I daresay it’s even found lingering as the cord that connects the seven deadliest of sins.

So I met the goal of NaNoWriMo, got out to meet other writers in my community, and managed to inspire myself to think more intensely about the art and craft of storytelling. Which in turn turned me toward book reviews, essays and text books. And of course that led me to reading  new books, articles and interviews by authors of very different ilks.

The win of NaNoWriMo is not simply the word count or the first draft, it’s actually keeping people engaged with a world bigger than just themselves.  A world that ever more seems to be frightening, contentious and less likely to change just because we care.

If you’re not a writer, this definitely won’t be your thing, but you may find it via a few words on the page. If not, I beg of you to find it somewhere. Find something that makes you happy, interact with other people even more knowledgeable and passionate as you are, and  make a difference in your little corner of the planet. Create your pocket of joy and goodness so that it spreads and connects to another. The world will thank you.

 

 

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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.
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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.

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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.

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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.

 

 

 

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Sunday Morning Meditation: Book Love is Nothing Unless You Give it Away

booklove
The Little Engine that Could, Frog and Toad, Anne of Green Gables….

Sunday morning. Yah, I’m not a morning person. Not at all.

As I’ve grown older, I’ve grown to appreciate the quiet of morning. It allows me to sip my coffee at my little writing desk or on the patio when the weather is warm, take in the sunshine, and contemplate what is.

Sunday I try to read the paper, do some writing, and if I’m really lucky, I can quiet my mind enough to read a book. If I’m not working.

When I’m on a roll, I devour books like Fred Flintstone devours Whateverosaurus ribs.

I love sharing that passion for reading with little ones, especially those who are so tiny that they sound out each word letter by letter.

When they finally make sense of an entire word or an entire sentence, their faces light up like they’ve unlocked the secret door to a new kingdom. And they have.

I remember the joy in reading Shel Silverstein’s, Where the Sidewalk Ends, and the bittersweetness of life captured so poignantly in the The Giving Tree, in such a simple way that even a small child could relate to. I rediscovered Silverstein’s work as an adult in such giggly classics as My Uncle Oswald. If you need a laugh, you need this book.

“Listen to the mustn’ts, child. Listen to the don’ts. Listen to the shouldn’ts, the impossibles, the won’ts. Listen to the never haves, then listen close to me… Anything can happen, child. Anything can be.”

~Shel Silverstein~

My favourite books as a child were; The Little Engine that Could (which as turned into a mantra of mine), Frog and Toad, and Anne of Green Gables. What were yours?

Years ago, I struggled to read. I was not the first kid in the room to raise their hand at circle time to give it a go. No, I suffered from shyness, and was sent for remedial help. Today I have a bachelor’s degree in English literature. We all come to reading, knowledge, and the wonder of the world around us in our own time.

Wishing you the joy of reading, and the magic of sharing that joy with a young person. Happy Sunday…

PS; For the adults out there, some favourite books that I would suggest are:

Anatomy of the Spirit by Caroline Myss, The Dark Night of the Soul by Gerald G. May, Bring Me the Rhinoseros by John Tarrant, and The Heart of the World by Ian Baker, Mordecai Richler’s Barney’s Version, Moon over Marekesh by Nazneen Sheikh and A Discovery of Witches by Deborah Harkness (because we all need to be reminded that there is magic in life).

Wishing you the joy of reading, and of sharing that with some of the younger people in your life.