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Christmas Survival Guide for the Lost Woman: Delegate

opinions

My friends have let me down. I’ve let them down too.

At some point women give up their own selves for the selfless, and mostly unrecognized emotional work of maintaining a home (creating the atmosphere, remembering birthdays, preparing for holidays, and bearing the greater responsibility of relationship nurturing).

Don’t be her. Don’t be the woman we all become at one point or another; a frumpy feeling, sad, uninspired woman who feels like the dishrag that society treats her like.

This Christmas I’m challenging you to connect with your pals, and I’m also challenging myself. In order to make more time for me, and to enjoy the preparations for the holidays, I’ve come up with a few strategies.

 

  1. The word of the year this Christmas is; Delegate.

Make lists….and then give them away. I mean, you single-handedly make the magic happen, at least save some time not shopping and not running errands.

shopping list

 

2) Clear out the clutter.

No, not stuff, people. If you need the whole house so you can spread out the holiday decor,  but your lovey insists on being sprawled on the couch watching the boob tube and basically being useless, ask them to leave. Unless they’re helping, they’re hindering. Vamoos!

joy

 

3) Bake ahead, and if you don’t like baking, don’t.

This year I’m googling ‘christmas cookies that freeze well’, and I’m going to use it. I’m also stocking the freezer with some frozen cheater meals so that I can enjoy my time off throughout the holidays, without cringing when I’m asked, “Have you thought about dinner”. Also, it’s so I don’t tell them that prison dinner might be worth it since I wouldn’t have to cook or do the damn dishes. My eggnot loaf is currently cooling on the counter so it can be frozen.

eggnog loaf

 

4) Be the one who puts a stop to gift exchanges. Other than a few things under the tree on Christmas morning that my loved ones need, will have sentimental value, or are a true ‘Santa’ surprise gift, gift giving falls a long-distance second to just spending time together.

get together

 

5) Make some gal-destinations a priority. Whether it’s a spa date for candy-cane mani’s, or a local church craft sale…make an excuse to get out, wander through all of the delights of the season, and make it a date with someone you’ve been meaning to get together with but haven’t.

one of a kind

 

 

Whatever you do this Christmas season,  make sure you make time to slow down and take in some of what brings you joy.

 

 

 

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Santa & The Single Mom: Christmas Stress

unclelewis

Last night, while making a right hand turn at a busy intersection (during rush hour no less), I was so anxious having a little cry and panicking about paying the bills that I drove into a snow bank, went into auto-pilot and put the car in neutral, and then stepped on the gas (while still in neutral), and basically scared myself back to sanity. I did not shit my pants and I consider that a victory.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.

Any single parent knows how difficult it is to keep the ship afloat at home.  You finally get a little savings packed away, and voila, an emergency and then POOF, it’s gone. It feels like a really blue collar Harry Potter life without the magic of cool creatures.

No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on…

I love Christmas, and I love celebrating it. The reality is a single parent home is a vortex of anxiety and stress during the holidays. The best you can do is try to breathe deeply, and most importantly, remember that you always get through it. Always.

Now, getting through it this year has been a bit easier as we’ve had some exciting and positive distraction in our home thanks to my fabulously awesome kiddo.  I’ve also had a lot of practice throughout the years, so keeping that in mind helps to relax me a bit. If you have little ones at home, trust me; it gets easier. Not that the pressure eases, no, it actually gets worse. You become more graceful about it as the years pass if you try.

…and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.

The truth is I get through the holidays with a few vices. Tipples in my morning coffee when I don’t have to go to work or be out on the roads. Knowing I can play my ukulele for distraction despite how badly I suck at it. Baking, stitching, and staying under my cozy blankets on my days off for as long as possible to meditate by counting my blessings. Oh, a fabulous drug plan, and a  good therapist go a long, long, way to always having a ho-ho-hold the stress holiday.

Mostly though, it’s counting my blessings and appreciating all of the fabulously weird, wonderful and kind people that I am proud to call friends.

And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

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New Year’s Resolutions for People Who Have Their Priorities Straight

winter-tableTime changes people. I’d like to think that it’s mellowed me and smoothed down some of the rough edges. Not all of them though, the coolest women I know have some pretty groovy edges.

Today I was snuggled in under my fluffy, white duvet, snuggled in between cozy flannel sheets coaxing myself to get up and press the button on the coffee maker when I got that little tapping glass signal that a text message had arrived.

It was from my best friend; The woman I met the first day of high school as we hunted for our new lockers and found ours side by side. We’ve been through a lot together, mostly in spirit and via telephone as we live at a distance from one another.  She never fails to make me smile, or let me know she cares, and I hope I do the same for her. When was I going to see her during the Christmas holidays…hmmm….good question. You see, I’m a mortician, and death is far too graceful to care about holiday time.

At this time of year, I am more aware than ever that I don’t see my friends as often as I would like; Vicki (my mumster) and her crazy sidekick Jim, Cindy and Jacques (my fabulously stylish friends), Virginia (the magic woman who is connected to the universe), Virginia (the crazy pet lady), Darleen (a woman who knows how to conjure the teenage girl in me), Carlo (a woman trapped in a man’s body with more empathy in his babyfingernail than most people have in six lifetimes), my cousin Mark ( one of the only people I share DNA with that I’m not ashamed to call family), my Auntie Penny ( a woman I admire for her zest for life and ability to mix a grand cocktail…. 

Instead of writing about not seeing the people who matter in my life, I think it might be the time to whip up some resolutions for the new year…

  1. Set up social time with all of the above listed people who matter in my life.

  2. Finish my second novel.

  3. Publish my first novel.

  4. Work toward my goal of getting out of this crazy cycle of socially accepted bullshit in order to live in the country in a house with a huge harvest table so all of my friends can gather on a regular basis for intelligent conversation, support and life affirming connection.

  5. Practice my ukulele more.

  6. Write more poetry.

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Ho-Ho-Hold the Holiday Anxiety

plum pudding.jpgLooking at my schedule for the next two weeks makes me anxious. I don’t know how I’ll have enough time to do all that I need to do or the resources to do it.

Yes, I preach about spending time not money, but by this time of the season, I’m feeling stretched to the point of breaking with both. On top of that, I have real life things to deal with too, like work,parenting, a relationship and trying to make ends meet that I know simply won’t.

So, if you are feeling a bit overwhelmed by it all (like I am). Do yourself a favour and reinforce your boundaries. Insist on the quiet time you need. Insist on reminding yourself that what you are doing for everyone else around you is enough.

Pick up the phone and listen to a friend tell you about their day, smile at someone, and take five minutes to sit down with a cup of tea, and remember why you do all that you do in the first place.

Yes, I said that. Sit your tired ass down, right in the middle of your work day, your preparations for dinner or at the mall and take a break. You are good enough, and the rest of your world will wait.

 

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Christmas Burnout; Adapt don’t Change

bull-dog-christmas-lightsThis  year I gave up.

I gave up a lot of Christmas traditions that have become burdensome, and not joyful. Quite often when people expect you to do things it becomes less about enjoying it, and more about feeling pressured to do it.

So I gave up making my Christmas cake, I gave up buying gifts for friends, and I gave up my annual Christmas party (way too much preparation).  All of these things stress the clock and the wallet, and frankly, all of that stress over a long period of time can wear on a gal’s fabulousness. And I’m nothing if not a shining beacon of wonder.

What-the-hell and a giggle have been my signature move for years.

Not giving a crap has never been my modus oparandi, but appears to be the most freeing way to be in the world. I’m learning that from the people around me who are kings and queens of, ” I could care less about how you feel”.

I thought about faking that shitty attitude until I make it. But I can’t do that, because it’s just not who I am. I care. I’ll always care, and I’m proud of it. The rest of the apathetic world can just choose which side of my butt to kiss first and carry on. I will hang with goddesses of ethic and compassion.

Rather than giving up doing things that bring me close to my family and friends, and letting the burnout I’ve been feeling creep even closer to my bones, I decided to change.

Change? Yes – it’s as scary a word as morninghair (yes, it’s a word).woman-silly

Ok, so change is a big word. Perhaps I should say I’ve chosen to adapt rather than change.

I will continue to bake, but not necessarily what everyone else wants. Sure, I have a soft spot for my kiddo’s favourites, but I also have a hankering for some new mocha eclairs and candy cane fudge.  I’ve asked for a little more help with Christmas dinner, and instead of cooking myself into a coma, I’m doing my Christmas party way more casually. I’ve opted for an open house with chili and beer.

For those of you who care, but need a break too, consider adapting instead of changing the traditions that you hold dear. Leave enough time to lean in to your own sense of personal flair, and enough room to allow your giggle to bubble up and over into the mood of every day.

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Best of One of A Kind Show Toronto 2016

There’s something magical about beautiful pieces of practical every-day clothing and necessities.  At this stage of life, I am packing up and moving on, and I have decided not to move anything that is not useful and beautiful.

Hence my journey to the One of a Kind Show in Toronto. My gal-pal and I had a hoot trying on hats, and egging one another on to treat ourselves. I managed to pick up most of the remaining Christmas gifts on my list, and felt like a million bucks when I left.

If you’re looking for something fun and a few little unique treats, give it a whirl. Here are a few of my personal favourites…

Hats

Oh boy, did we ever shop for hats. Wildhagen’s booth caught my eye ( a name close to my heart). I buckled and bought a piece of art to wear on my head…and I love it! My teenage son loves it, and buying it made me feel the tiniest bit guilty for possessing something so delightful!

This is the hat that came in as runner up, and I have decided that a quick jaunt to Queen Street will one day make it mine…perhaps in winter white.

wildhagenhat

 

Arts/Crafts

Admittedly I love to drink my tea from pottery mugs. Junichi Tanaka’s ceramics stole my heart. Each piece beautifully and thoughtfully made, with a craftsman who cares about the purpose of his vessels. Mr. Tanaka offered us water to pour from his exquisitely made tea-pots to ensure a drip-free pour.  I managed to bring home a small bowl with an iridescent rust, pewter and purple/red sheen and a small serving plate that spoke to me.

tanaka

 

JEWELLERY

Shelly Purdy Sutdio’s Canadian Sunset Ring stole my heart.  Reminiscent of our precious summer days in the north, the ring symbolizes everything I’ve known to be summer holidays. The bottom row of diamonds symbolizes the lake, and the centre diamond the setting sun, and who could possibly mistake the Group-of-Sevenesque pine?

corona_sunset_mld_and_seasons_by_shelly_grande

 

Handbags

And last but not least, who can really resist a practical handbag? After gathering Christmas gifts, I have left this one on my list of must haves. The perfect messenger bag awaits from Nautilos. Available in so many more delightful colours than basic black (although the black is lovely). Hot Pink was the hands-down favourite, followed by the yellow, and turquoise.

handbag

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Santa Baby: Slipping Something Under the Tree

surpriseIt’s that time of year. Shopping for your sweetie. Women have the edge on this one. Men seem to have less romantic notions of what should appear after the landing of the eight tiny reindeer.

Women on the other hand are dreamy eyed and romantic. We may not share it with you gentleman, but trust me, this is what we talk about during our wine and yoga pants nights…

I wish I may

I wish I might

Find a robin’s egg blue box

Under my tree tonight

It’s not that difficult really. We like shiny things, things that smell nice, and other stuff that falls under the category of ‘want’ not ‘need’.  Often neediness is confused with wantiness. Strong women are not needy – they can take care of their basic needs. Strong women are wanty, but wouldnt’ dare ask for anything.

So, if you guys want to know what we sit around dreaming you quantify your undying love with, flag this list. Trust me, I’ve saved the best for last…a.k.a., #6.

  1. First of all, we want romantic dates. Take us to the Christmas market. Take us to a Christmas show. Take us home and take it all off…

christmas-market

2. Every woman wants to smell delicious. You can’t go wrong wrapping up her favourite fragrance. Buy it in layers and wrap it in something soft.

perfume

3. Shiny things.  Just new? Try this…

heart-bracelet

 

A little more sure? Try this…

keys

Getting seriously serious??? See #1 and go window shopping during your romantic stroll so that you know what her dreams were made of as a little girl.

Was it this?pink-ringor this ?big-enough-to-skate-on

 

4. We love romantic cards and notes. Seriously gentlemen – get thee to a Hallmark store. Five bucks can make you the most romantic guy on the planet and she will love it.

hallmark

5. First Christmas together? First Christmas in your new home? First Christmas with a new little one? There’s an ornament for that…

first-christmas-ornament

6. As promised, I’ve saved the best for last. What all women want is to feel like your woman at Christmas time. We want to be hand in hand with our man. We want to go to sleep with you on Christmas eve and wake up with you on Christmas morning. We want to see you smile when you open the gifts that we give to you, and we want you to know that you are loved.

coffee-morning