Posted in Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Advice for Writers, Aging, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety & Depression, Anxiety and Depression, Argument, Art, Art of LIving, Artists, At Issue, Beauty, bloggers, Breathe In Breathe Out, Breathe In Breathe Out Move On, Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Writers, Career Advice, Careers, Columns, Communication, Creative Life, Creative Writing, Creativity, Dining, Entertainment, Fearless Living, Fearlessness, Free Speech, Free Thinkers, Freedomof Expression, Friends, Friendship, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Happiness, Happiness Project, Health, Healthy Living, ideas, insight, Inspiration, Introverts, Joyful Living, Kindness, Lean In Girl Stuff, Life, Life Lessons, Lion's Roar, Living, Loneliness, Love, Meditations, Men's Health, Men's Issues, Mens' Issues, Middle Age, Mindful, Mindful Living, Philosophy, Psychology, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Self-Care, Self-Help, Shambhala Sun, Simple Living, Social Anxiety, Social Commentary, Society, Sprititual Living, Uncategorized

A Night Owl’s Meditation Lesson for Morning People

no wormI’m not a morning person. Unless I’m the first one up when I’m in the great outdoors, marvelling at a sunrise, watching mist rise from a placid lake, and listening to the first call of the loons.

But that rarely happens.

So, I’m basically just not a morning person.

I am a night owl. The still darkness is rich ground to cultivate ideas and search out creative genius.

We all have a delicate balance of extroverted and introverted needs, and as a fence rider on almost every element of the Myers-Briggs assessment, I need as much time alone as I do surrounded by other fascinating human beings.

Morning people often insinuate that I’m wasting the day. They gently suggest that perhaps I’m a tad depressed, lazy, unmotivated, or accomplishing less than my potential. Morning people are wrong.

My very naïve beginnings at meditation have developed throughout the years, and my practice is now something I am aware of every day.

Waking slowly, at my own pace allows me to be quiet with the thoughts that come and go from my mind.

It’s easy to be aware of all of the thoughts that come to mind as your head is on the pillow waiting for sleep to wrap her arms around you. Unless you’re dog-tired, thoughts come fast. You can’t help but be aware of their presence in the quiet darkness of night-time.

Morning thoughts are different. These are the thoughts that come out quietly, like a hungry stray hoping for a leftover morsel. They slink quietly into consciousness and scatter as soon as you turn to thoughts of preparing for the day.

be the awarenessThis morning as I woke,I listened to the heart-breaking howl of the neighbours oft neglected dog.  The irony is that if some of my thoughts were sounds, they would have sounded like that baleful howling.

In the silence of my fluffy duvets, snuggled warm and safe, I had time to reach out and hold each of those thoughts gently, examine them, and then let them go.  At peace with my own self, I felt prepared to face the day, and share it with whatever the world had prepared for me.

My not-a-morning-person mornings are a simple pleasure, and a quality of life indulgence.  I have the peace to let my emotions and thoughts speak their truth, and the time to gently make peace with everything, both good and not so good. This is the value of meditation, practice, and the awareness of personal presence.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Advice for Writers, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety, Anxiety & Depression, Art of LIving, Articles, Bereavement, bloggers, Blogging, Blogs, Break-Ups, Breaking Up, Breathe In Breathe Out, Breathe In Breathe Out Move On, Broken Hearts, Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Writers, Business Advice, Career, Career Advice, Coffee Talk, Columns, columns Dating Advice, Columns Relationship Advice, Creative Life, dating, Dating Advice for Men, Dating Advice for Women, Dating Advive, Dating Love, Dating Over 40, Depression, Faith, Fearless Living, Fearlessness, Feminism, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Men's Health, Men's Issues, Men's Sexuality, Mens' Issues, Mental Health, Mindful Living, Personal Development, Professional Women, Psychology, Relationship Advice, Relationships, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Spiritual Living, Student Life, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Women's Issues, Women's Issues, Working Women

Fear – You Show Me Yours & I’ll Show You Mine

storytotellFear is a slippery little fella. Sometimes you need to hang on to it so you don’t get damaged, and other times, you need to set it adrift on a flaming raft with an over-zealous shove and a one-fingered salute.

This past weekend, fear crept in and tried to snuggle up in my heart. Good thing I can be a cold-hearted, logical gal when I need to be. Good thing I have friends who remind me not to let my imagination get the best of me and conjure up all sorts of possible ways that my happiness can be sabotaged. Good thing I didn’t turn tail and run. Good thing.

Regardless of what we identify as being bountiful or lacking in our lives, we live within the comfort zone of the known. We live rooted in the identities that we have crafted for ourselves. We cling to our wounds until they no longer serve as shields.

The truth is, we often cling to our wounds long past their expiry date, and we do this because that is the only way we know how to go on living. We do this often without knowing we’re doing it. We fear leaving what is known and comfortable to seek what is meaningful.

During the past 48 hours I  have received calls, and had coffee with friends who have all experienced some sort of crisis rooted in fear. I was an addict. I’m drinking too much. I keep winding up in toxic relationships. Today I heard all of these symptoms, and I offered as much compassion and humour as I could. After all, being fearful is normal. We need to tell and re-tell our stories. We need to be the storyteller, and we need to be the witness to the life-stories woven by others. Change is scary, and we need our friends to walk beside us when we don’t know if we have the courage to take another step on a path that leads to goodness-only-knows-where-but-there-had-better-be-margaritas-and-a-bed.

Fear of feeling, dealing with the here and now, or not having someone to prop up an ego seem to have been  served up a la carte over the weekend. It’s  a menu everyone eventually gets served; long in the planning and very bitter. It keeps popping up on the menu until you get tired of the bitter aftertaste and are inspired to take over the kitchen.

brokenThe most curious of fears is the fear of getting what you want. It means letting go of an identity that was defined by lack of the thing itself; career success, loving relationship, independence, you name it. You have to be brave enough to break down the walls protecting your own kingdom of fear.

While trying to shake off the snug embrace of a well-known-and-outlived-it’s-usefulness-fear-of intimacy which had slithered it’s way into my mind, I had a rather synchronistic encounter.

After zenning out and treating myself to some self-care paraphernalia at an over-incensed and herbal-tea’d hippie hang-out, I wandered back to my car completely and utterly distracted. Rationalizing with oneself can be very engrossing, and I was neck deep. I was not going to half-ass this one. I was going to face this thing down even if it meant a haze of incense, tantra-drumming, and Buddhist-throat-singing loud enough to scare the bejeezus out of the neighbours. While I was getting all bad-assed and spiritual with this fear, I was being watched.

Two men of questionable intent approached my car, one wedged between the driver’s side door and the car next to me, pulled on my door handle and banged on my window while the other stood at the right side.

Thanks to good habits, my door was locked, and the car was started. Thanks to a friend who was texting an invitation for a drinky-poo, I was head-down-distracted, allowing these two men to target me.

Hours after I had safely pulled away and caught my breath from the initial shock, I sank into the corner of my couch and cried. I sobbed and relived those few seconds of that man’s face just inches from my own.

But why? I was safe in my own space now. I was ok.

I cried because the threat of harm pulled me back into the rational fear I had developed throughout years of abuse and  assault. It was like someone tossed me back into the arena to face another hungry beast after I thought I’d finally made it out alive.

What I did next was remarkable. I reached out. Well, I reached out the best I could. Via text of course, because I couldn’t bear to speak and have anyone hear my voice tremble. My pride wouldn’t hear of it.  “I kinda need you.”

It’s rather ironic that my fear of letting someone in was challenged head on by someone literally trying to get in.

presence.jpgPart of healing and kicking fear in the ass is learning that it’s ok to be vulnerable sometimes.  It’s a lesson that I have found extremely challenging. But with true self-compassion, vulnerability can be the greatest warrior in the battle on the front-line of fear.

There is a spiritual alchemy exchanged every time we offer support or receive it. This alchemy is grace in action, mercy in motion, the very human breath of compassionate and spiritual living. It is the greatest enemy of fear. It’s ok to kinda need someone, they kinda need you too. Trust me, if you show them yours, they’ll show you theirs.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Aging, Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Breathe In Breathe Out, Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Writers, Coffee Talk, Columns, Creative Life, Creative Writing, Creativity, Free Speech, Free Thinkers, Freedom of Speech, Freedomof Expression, Friendship, Leadership, Lean In, Life, Life Lessons, Live Music, Meaning of Life, Meditation, Men's Issues, Mental Health, Uncategorized

Empaths; Diluted Spiritual Practice

pink tulipsWhen I’m sad I buy flowers.

Today I bought a bouquet of pink tulips.

I wasn’t sad for myself, or suffering any great loss. But I have been the strong shoulder on which to lean for a few of my friends lately, and it got me to thinking.

There’s been a lot of talk about ’empaths’ lately. It’s the hip catch-word for empathy, and kind of an annoying one at that. Heaven forbid we feel empathy for one another any more. It’s so fucking depressing and inconvenient after all.

Who needs that?! Aren’t we all supposed to be hap-hap-fucking-happy all of the time? Isn’t it best to dilute our suffering so we can ignore it a little easier and be productive? Maybe a new purse would help? Oooh! And the matching shoes!

Empathy has long been trickling out of our culture like a slow leak in a milk bag. The only thing  that it leaves behind is a disgusting sour mess.

Self-awareness has somehow eclipsed the sacred and ancient practice of being present. Fully present. As in, being as fully aware of your own actions and reactions in relation to the rest of the world.

I was sad today because I woke up to two phone calls from people  who are suffering. I also woke up to a text message from someone rather new in my life. I knew it was thoughtfully composed, and I knew why, and that made me sad too.  The collective ‘we’  complicate things unnecessarily, and all it really does is hurt.

“I’m an empath,” someone recently confided to me at a party. “I see,” I replied. It’s my standard response when someone’s utter oblivion catches me off-guard.

What I really wanted to say was, “We’re all empaths honey”.

We’re all human and we all feel a full spectrum of emotion. Remember that the next time you hold back. Whether you’re trying to play it cool in a romantic relationship, not break boundaries as a friend or colleague, or wondering whether you should defend someone in their absence.

Remember that we all feel deeply, this wild and wonderful bittersweet life.

Empath, schmempath! Enough pop-psychology drivel. Practice being fully present, and I promise, your heart will thank you for it.

 

Posted in Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Advice for Writers, Andshelaughs, Anxiety, Anxiety & Depression, Art of LIving, Break-Ups, Breaking Up, Broken Hearts, Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Writers, Canadian Writers, Coffee Talk, Columns, columns Dating Advice, Columns Relationship Advice, Creative Life, Creative Writing, Creativity, dating, Dating Advice, Dating Advice for Men, Dating Advice for Women, Dating Advive, Dating Love, Dating Over 40, Dear Asshole, Fearless Living, Friendships, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Grief and Loss, Happiness, Happiness Project, Happy New Year, Healthy Living, Inspiration, Joyful Living, Kindness, Kindness Project, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Loneliness, Loss, Love, Meaning of Life, Relationship Advice, Relationships, Religion and Spirituality, Uncategorized

2016 Predictions: It’s Your Choice Baby

liveonceToday someone paid me a backhanded compliment. Their ex accused them of being just like me.

To which I say, ‘That’s right douchedrop, she’s just like me. Happy.’

I’ve been accused of being too passionate, too cold, too serious, too silly and just too much of many things.  I am who I am in the moment. I feel deeply and think creatively and give big, warm, squishy hugs. It’s a wonderfully liberating way to be.

A lot of people can’t handle authenticity in the face of their own, long-ago-lost moral compass.

I know heartache greater than losing your true love. I’ve known regret, self-doubt, crippling fear and loss. I’ve known the depths of depression and despair.

Perhaps this is why I readily see beauty in simple things. Perhaps it’s why my definition of crisis is much more intense than the average bear. Perhaps it’s why tonight, with family and friends gathered at my humble table I felt a deep, profound, contentment.

This year I hope you have the courage to be who you really are. For some, you will be ‘too much’.

I hope that you are finally brave enough to take time to sit with your demons in silence, hear them out, let them have their say, and then graciously hold the door while they leave.

Be brave enough to use your heart for great love. Cherish your friends, fall head-over-heels in love, and don’t let the shadow of hurts-past darken the gift of getting to do it all over again.

Choose to be happy. Choose to be quiet. Choose to be alone. Choose to be whatever the hell it is that you need to be. But know it is a choice darlings. You, and only you, can choose.

Don’t whine and be a martyr for your lover, your family or your colleagues. Don’t waste your breath explaining away your shitty choices, or your crazy ones, or the ones that will make you smile a kazillion years from now when all you have left are memories of your misadventures.

My wish for everyone whose life I touch this year, is that I help them be at ease with themselves, in this wild and wonderful world.

 

 

 

 

Posted in Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Writers, Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Gift Ideas, Christmas Lists, Christmas Marketing, Coffee Talk, Columns, Columns Relationship Advice, Family, Fatherhood, Friendship, Guy Stuff, insight, Inspiration, Joy, Joyful Living, Kindness, Kindness Project, Life Lessons, Living, Loss, Love, loving, Magic, Meaning of Christmas, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Motherhood, Nostalgia, Personal Development, Perspective, Psychology, Relationship Advice, Relationships, Simple Living, Student Life, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Wisdom, Women's Issues, Working Women, Youth

Everyone is a Kid at Christmas

kidsThis is for teenagers, young adults, and parents.

Let me tell you a short story. Today was my day off. I work long hours, at a very (physically & psychologically) demanding job (which I love). Even so, I L-O-V-E my days off.

No-alarm-clock days are luxurious. After all darlings, I have mastered the art of living and relaxing. But today I set my alarm for 6 a.m. You see, my kiddo had to get up and out before 7 a.m., and I wanted to give him a drive.

Yes, he’s old enough to get there himself. Yes, he knows how to pack his own lunch, cook, clean and do his own laundry. Despite the kiddo’s protests,  “Mom, why do you want to drive me? I’m fine on my own. Go back to bed“, I often get up even on the days I work a late shift.

Why? Well, as any parent will tell you, they cherish those moments with their children, and those moments come fewer and more far between as our children grow up.

The Christmas season offers many opportunities to argue, fight, and to feel annoyed with one another.

When we want to be with you to decorate the tree,  have dinner with friends, and participate in family traditions, please remember that it’s not intended as a form of torture.

When we ask how your day was, we’re not so much checking up on whether you were a stand-up human being, we want to make sure you’re ok. Ok as in, we’ve been there, and we know that the world can be cruel and hard. We want to make sure you never leave for the day, or go to bed at night feeling, ‘less than’.

When we pack you a lunch, or suggest you take more food, we’re not criticizing your menu choice. We don’t want you to be hungry.

When we make sure you have a winter coat for the season, and suggest you take a hat or gloves, it’s not because we want to send you out looking like an over-grown toddler or out of style. We don’t want you to feel the cold.

When we ask you about your first crush, we don’t want to give you a moral lecture on sexual behavior. We want to know if your crush is treating your tender heart with care. We don’t want you to feel heartache.

When we ask you what you want to study or what you want to be be when you grow up, we don’t care if you have a definitive answer. We want you to go after your dreams.

We don’t want you to suffer; to feel pain, cold, hunger, loneliness or sadness.

No matter how old you are, if you are lucky, you will always be someone’s little boy or little girl. At a certain point in life, the roles reverse, and like I feel about my mumster, you’ll want to swaddle us in protective love too.

Wishing kids of all ages, a very happy holiday.

 

 

Posted in Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Aging, Ancestors, Andshelaughs, Angels, Art of LIving, Catholic Holidays, Celebrations, Christmas, Christmas Marketing, Church, Columns, Life, Life Lessons, Life With Cats, Living, Loneliness, Loss, Love, Meaning of Christmas, Meaning of Life, Uncategorized

Decking the Halls & Trimming The Tree

Our tree has changed throughout the years, but not the tradition.

We play Christmas carols, and put the Velcro and felt antlers on the cat.  Every year I give a special ornament to my kiddo, and I never move the ornaments he places on the tree.

When I grew up the closest thing to spirituality and grace fostered during the Christmas season was that the name of  Jesus was frequently spoken. Often emphatically. Usually it was at the beginning of a sentence.

For instance, when trimming the tree, my mother could be heard screaming, “Jesus Christ! Are you f-ing blind? Can’t you see that looks awful!” …not a creature stirred, not even her spouse…

Since I’ve had my own home and my own tree, the hall-decking and tree-trimming has taken on a new flavour.

Being a single parent, it was always really easy to feel less-than. For years we had a theme tree; baseball, candy, under-the-sea. I bought ornaments and decorations, and went overboard. I Christmased with the best of them.

I’m so over that.

I’ve officially entered the if-it’s-not-useful-or-really-damn-sentimental-I-don’t-want-it-weighing-me-down phase of life. I also have a strong preference for silliness, laughter and feeling at ease.

Decking the halls and trimming the tree is meaningful because of who you share it with; whether they’re the ones trimming the tree with you, or the ones you’re remembering as you hang ornaments they gave to you.

Trimming the tree was never meaningful when I hung  over-priced au currant ornaments void of meaning.

This year I truly did some trimming. I decluttered a bunch of ornaments I just don’t, and won’t use any more. We are down two Christmas boxes, and it feels good.

This year our tree was trimmed simply, with a few shiny red Christmas balls (because I like shiny things, and red makes me feel festive) and the ornaments we’ve been gifted throughout the years;  handmade snowmen and kitties from my mumster, a colleague’s signature, hand-painted snowflake, great-granny’s quilted hearts, the Beatrix Potter ornament I bought when the kiddo was three and I thought that perhaps he was really the offspring of satan, loads of personalized ornaments from our now-in-Newfoundland-neighbours, the candy-cane carrying Mr. Potato Head my kiddo gave me years ago, the star that was stolen for me from a tree in Venezuela on New Year’s Eve, the rubber gingerbread man the kiddo squirted with sparkly glue when he was 4, and  the Eiffel Tower ornament I bought for myself in Paris….

Life has been a struggle this year, and hanging ornaments reminiscent of more light-hearted, silly times was bittersweet.

As the season of Advent approaches, I know that I will sit quietly in the stillness of the midnight hour,  wondering by the light of this Christmas tree what mystery might unfold in my life this Christmas season.

 

 

 

Posted in Advertising, Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Bereavement, Break Ups, Broken Hearts, Buddhism, Canadian Writers, Christianity, Christmas, Christmas Marketing, Church, Columns, Death, Death & Dying, Depression, Girl Stuff, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Guy Stuff, Happiness, Healing, Healthy Living, Holidays, insight, Inspiration, Life, Living, Loneliness, Loss, Uncategorized

When Christmas Isn’t So Merry

ADVENT WREATH

“Christmas makes me sad, ” one of my colleagues said in passing this week.

Sad was a theme for me in 2015, so her comment caught my attention.

My head jerked up from what I was working on and I listened to what she had to say.

“I still put up the tree and decorate. You know, for the kids.”

“Me too.” I said.

We were speaking with a younger lady who is still a starry-eyed romantic like we used to be. I hope she never loses that magic, because once you lose it, you can’t get it back the same way.

Loss during the holidays spreads a pall over the joy of the season. Loss as in a you’ve experienced the death of a loved one during the holidays, you’ve experienced another type of loss during the year (relationship, job, ability).

As you get older, there tend to be more people and more things to miss. There are deeper elements of life to reflect upon, and joy comes less and less from what is under the tree than from the quiet moments you get to spend with people you love.

When I was a child, the season of Advent was not a spiritual experience. It was a season of ribbon candy, clementines, chocolate galore and lots of toys. As a young woman, it was a season of party dresses, romance and giddy fun.  As a middle-aged woman, I realize the meaning behind the season of Advent; living in darkness, anticipation and mystery, meditation, and the cultivation of patience.

For those who find the Christmas season emotionally challenging, please try and remember that you are not alone. Our silver-bell-and-city-sidewalk-smiles hide a multitude of sadness.

For those who still find Christmas deliriously happy, don’t be afraid to share your enthusiasm. We love it, and are happy knowing that although we may bring peace and love to the season, there are others who bear the burden of bringing the joy.

Wishing you peace this Christmas. Wishing you love. Wishing you the joy of friendship, romance and the thrill of experiencing some of life’s  unfolding mystery.