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Modern Christmas: For Empaths & Introverts

What happened to our society? Especially at Christmas time?

Who else remembers a time when November and December were full of social engagements and excuses to dress up? There once was a time that I looked forward to the annual company party, where everyone was expected to dress up, socialize, and participate in some good clean fun…until most everyone drank too much and had to be chauffeured home.

And what the hell is with not playing that wonderful song, “Baby, It’s Cold Outside”? Give. Me. A. Break.

Maybe it’s the new cultural trend of insta-worthy-over-sized sweaters and hands wrapped around steaming mugs of cocoa. Hell, it’s a lot easier to pull off than heels, strapless dresses, and a clearly defined ‘date’. I totally get that everyone has either become an empath or an introvert; a modern way of saying; I’m sensitive, so don’t hold me to your cultural standard of politeness and respectful interaction….the penultimate of victim culture.

Just a tip – half of the fun was watching everyone interact. It was fun to play with our persona’s of  sequined flirts with no other intention than to share a few laughs; to entertain and to be entertained by virtue of our very own selves.

I miss what I so fondly refer to as Gatsby-Socializing. When you were expected to flirt with everyone, the art of telling a joke was appreciated, and keeping up with current events wasn’t quite enough. People actually had discussions intelligent enough to persuade, entertain and engage.

There was no distraction appropriate at the table. I mean really, cell phones at the table are akin to someone in the 80’s taking out a handwritten letter, smoothing it out on their lap, lowering their reading specs, and totally disengaging with the people in front of them. Talk about a slap in the face of civilized behavior.

For a while I thought that the slow fade of high-end socializing was directly related to my age. I was wrong. It’s the result of fear. Everyone’s afraid that they’re going to be fingered for being inappropriate, being blamed for the irresponsible behavior of another adult, and painted with the pariah brush of our I’m-not-responsible-for-my-own-behavior culture.

So get out your cocktail dresses and brush off your dyed satin shoes. Break out your costume jewelry, shake up a mean cocktail. Invite a wild mix of personalities over and watch the magic of real-live human interaction unfold all in the name of Christmas cheer. I’m dying for some superficial and super-fun festivities.

 

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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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T’was A Day for Decorating & Digestive Discontent

giant red ballsI never get to sleep in. Anymore.

No, I do not have an infant at home. No, I do not work three jobs. I have however, committed myself to a…morning person.

A morning person who just so happens to be away  golfing in the sunny south during my traditional Christmas-kick-off weekend.

At first you’d think I’d be jealous, what with being left all alone for our first real snow fall.  Alas, that is NOT the case.  After having spent the past three months adjusting to  mid-life empty nesting and newly cohibitating bliss, I am gloriously, and might I say well-restedly (let’s just pretend that’s a word shall we – don’t kill my vibe) alone. Ahhh…..

I have been able to sleep in, deck the halls for the holidays, and even took my time shopping yesterday without a grown man whining that he had to get home to watch football.

I had one of those focussed days yesterday. After checking the Michael’s coupons for the day, I thought I’d start early and do my shopping before I came home to tights, a Christmas sweatshirt, my snoozies skinnies and my hair pulled back like a ninja fighter.

I made breakfast, had a coffee and hit the road. I planned a route to a lesser populated area to the north, and listened to a head banging, Chris Botti Christmas jam.

I shopped until I reminded myself of my own mother. Wandering around the same aisles, examining every garland and piece of kitsch until I’m sure one of the salespeople thought that I was out on some kind of psychiatric day pass.

My cart was loaded with 6 strings of bushy evergreen garland, a giant “Meet Me Under The Mistletoe” pillow and various other bits and bobs that I had just the right place for. Oh yah, and my Michael’s 60% off coupon was ready on my app.

At that point, I realized that I was starving. But even more than that, I was in need of giant red balls….for the tree.

Just one more stop and I’d be on my way home. By this time I was really hungry.

Just a quick run in, I decided, and I would treat myself to my favourite fast-food no-no. My quick trip turned into another hour of picking through stocking stuffers, Christmas scented soaps, and big balls…

By the time I paid, I was s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g and thirsty! You know the shopping-mall thirst I’m talking about don’t you ladies? That parched-I’ve-been-hijacked-in-the-retail-dessert-for-way-too-long-I-gotta-have-some-water-or-I’ll-disintegrate-kind-of-thirst.

Hitting a blood-sugar low I muscled my way to my car, guzzled a half liter of water, and got to my fast-food-sin-spot asap. I ate in the car like a ravenous Christmas elf, and polished it all off with a vanilla milkshake.

Now here’s something you don’t know about me…fake ice cream makes my digestive system revolt. In a BIG way, and fast. It was only a fifteen minute drive home, so I wasn’t panicked. What I was, for about a whole five minutes, was sated, and giddy about going home to prepare for the holidays.

And then it happened. My forty-something-year-old-digestive-system said, “Hold up girl! This is not right.”

The half liter of water met the fake-dairy-milkshake at the threshold of my pyloric valve and all hell broke loose.

Two-wheeling it around corners in my 40km neighbourhood, I raced to the garage, only to remember that I’d left the automatic opener on the kitchen table. I jumped out and frantically keyed in the magic code, while skipping around pinching my butt cheeks together.  I backed the care in so fast that I almost backed right through the rear wall. Juggling bags with garland poking out everywhere, and a large sack of kitty litter, I fumbled for my keys.

My neighbour appeared on queue as all neighbours do – at the worst time ever –  on his back deck waving and wanting to chat. All I could do is grimace, try to raise a hand weighted down with in a semi-civilized wave, and slam the door behind me.

No more vanilla quasi-dairy-milk shakes for this woman.

It took me until the Women’s Network Christmas flick came on at 9pm to finish up. I strung lights on the garland for the staircase, the front porch, and decorated the tree. I unpacked the boxes of miscellaneous decorations that grace smaller spaces, and put up the vintage Christmas village. I washed couch cushions and nested like I haven’t nested in a long time.

motherfucker

Don’t get me wrong. at about 5 p.m. I was ready shove the picky, twisty, clingy garland up someone’s ass, not to mention the tangle of 400 lights I was dealing with. There’s a reason people leave me alone to decorate. It’s a marathon of patience, but it’s totally worth it.

Home is a sacred, special place for me. It represents safety and security for myself and my child (ok, so he’s a man-child now, but all mothers know your children are always your babies). Anyone who messes with the safety and sanctity of my home should prepare to deal with the wrath of a woman like me.

Our home is now ready to welcome you for the holidays. I know, I know, it’s not about the decorations or the gifts, but I do love decking our halls to create that feeling of sacred welcome that is too often missing in our busy lives.

I’m already excited to know that my kiddo is almost ready to come home for his Christmas break. I’m eager to cozy up by the tree with friends and family for some precious down-time.  That’s what Christmas is all about. Failte.

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What To Do?

fallkittenI’ve been known to publish some really great seasonal To-Do Lists.  Except this year.

I didn’t do that.

Not for you and not for me.

But I’m ready for one. You see, I have a Protestant work ethic, and am a firm believer in work first, and rest when the work is done.  Which, of course, often leaves me desiring, but exhausted and out of time.

Alas, the really hard work of this year is pretty much complete, and I am left with time to rediscover more leisure pursuits.  Instead of providing you and I wish a seasonal to-do-list-on-a-time-line  of such tomfoolery that we think is Instagram-worthy, such as pumpkin patch visits, applie-pie baking and haunted house touring, I am going to provide you with a list of things that I want to do.

And I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own. Even if you don’t get to it, you’ll be reminded of what it is that makes you happy, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a little time for yourself to make your soul smile.

 

Here’s my list;

 

1. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Yah, I officially registered to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Why not? After all, I want to finish my damn novel, and I work well with a time-line. This may very well should  be the only thing on my list, but should’s have no place in my life right now.

onceupon

2. I want to go back  to wander the Guillermo Del Torro exhibit again at the AGO. It was so inspiring; a look at the inner mechanisms of a creative genius. Going back is a desperate attempt to have some of that genius-energy rub off on me.

deltoro

3.  A road trip to see the beautiful fall landscape (I’m thinking Collingwood with a side trip to a pal’s place in Thornbury, and the outdoor spa).

Hockleyfall

 

4. A visit to Hinterland Winery. In my opinion a hidden gem that deserves more of my attention. Here I come Les Etoiles!

hinterland

5. Chistmas shopping. Yes,  you heard it. I want to go Christmas shopping. That’s only because I avoid shopping in December like the plague. It sucks, people’s attitudes suck, and all of that makes me cranky. Make it a December to remember (create some memories with your loved ones – do not spend the month craving valium and flipping people the bird in parking lots).

decembertoremember

 

 

6. Cross Stitch. Oh yah. I want the luxury of  enough time to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a few hours of nothing but some needle and thread.

bring me tea

 

7. I would also very much like to make my super-duper-Hallowe’en-popcorn. I make it for my colleagues and my kiddo because even though we’re all grown up, on October 31st, we’re all still little kids just waiting for a treat.

Halloween-Caramel-Corn4-600x400

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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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Random Thoughts on This Mild December Night

elfonshelfRandom thoughts from a relaxed mind;

  1. It makes me sad that sarcasm has replaced wit and intelligence. It’s a cheap and pathetic substitute.
  2. The Christmas spirit may not be strong this year, but I have much to be thankful for every day. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel Christmasy. I’m just happier than I was ten years ago, so the gap between every day and ‘Christmas-spirit’ is practically non-existent.
  3. Despite having had a run-in with a sociopathic, fraudulent twat of a man this year, I still do, really love men.
  4. Champagne is going to replace bourbon for a while.
  5. Dating in my 40’s is more fun than it’s ever been because I’m way happier with who I am.
  6. I want a red sweater.
  7. An 80’s themed hairdo might be in order for my boxing day date.
  8. It’s been too long since I went on a Saturday night bender and kicked someone out at 3 a.m.
  9. Professional waxing is worth every, single, penny.
  10. Nice still wins in my book over hot, sarcastic and mean.
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Malls: A Little Bit of Christmas Hell

santafeetupToday, for some unknown reason, I headed into what I know to be one of my very own, personal hells. The shopping mall.

I’ve been overworked and under inspired for a couple of weeks, so I thought that if I just got out, maybe my mood would pick up.

Oh, I’m soooo funny.

The first mall we went to was out of the one-and-only Christmas present that I had yet to purchase. It was also out of my favourite perfume, which I had decided to buy myself because, well, it’s one of my daily indulgences.

Anyway, off we went to mall number two, the Mecca-of-Malls to find what I had set out for.

Parking. Yah, it’s a little like survival of the fittest among the most ruthless and uncaring pack on the planet; consumer-driven humans.

As I backed my little car in to a parking spot, two more cars came at either side as if they were heat seeking missiles.  Walking thought the parking lot, a little silver sports car swerved to miss hitting us, and then the passenger swung open her door and hit me in the legs.

I was officially in a bad mood. Worse than when I started out.

We found the one gift we still needed and were tempted to stop for a lazy meal in the food court.  It was a sea of weary shoppers stuffing themselves while stuffed together at cramped tables, bags and coats and little kids falling all over.

No one looked happy.  Not one.

After a quick look at the food court scene, we decided to skip a quick meal and find somewhere we could relax. The other thought that went through our heads was that shopping malls all decked out for the holidays with wall to wall people who celebrate Christmas are likely not the safest place any more. You know, with terrorists going on shooting sprees.

I was careful to be friendly, patient and wish every cashier a very merry Christmas.  I was also very careful to get in and out as quickly as possible given that shopping malls are not my idea of merry.

People from the entrance of the parking lot to the heart of the materialistic mecca looked strained. There didn’t seem to be any peace, joy or love happening.

This reinforced my year’s old tradition of not shopping in December, keeping gifts to a minimum and time with loved-ones at a maximum.

I have to admit that I enjoyed watching my son carefully choose his gift for his girlfriend. I liked the flavoured coffee I picked up and I enjoyed the feeling of not needing or wanting much.

Tonight with my feet up, the Christmas tree lights twinkling, and the garland on the mantle  I’m feeling more Christmasy than I have in a while, satisfied with who I am and what I have. Maybe I needed a little Christmas Mall-hell to appreciate the woman I’ve become.