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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Life Without Passion Isn’t

die of passionIt’s true. Life without passion isn’t really life at all. It’s not living, and it’s absofreakinglutely no fun.

Some days it’s easier than others to ignore the grey cloud of obligation that follows some folks everywhere they go. When it casts its shadow however on  the bright light of those of us who live with passion, it’s less than enchanting.

As a matter of fact, too many consecutive days of this is  frustrating beyond belief. It’s life sucking. It’s boring as shit.

It’s the machine against which creative spirits rebel. And in that rebellion, great, wild, deliciously unforgettable adventures are experienced.

In this very present moment, I feel that I need to step out of the shadow and into the light and guess what?….

 

I am utterly spent, but more than that, I’m fierce. It is within that fierceness that the fire of my passion, my creativity, and my sense of adventure are rooted and nurtured.

If you too find yourself occasionally worn down by the lack of imagination in the world around you, you are in good company here my friend.

Take some advice from me darling; get some rest, feed your desires and find the time and space to let your creativity run wild. I dare you to feel a sin coming on.

…and if it does, I want to hear all about it.

Body Image Issues; It’s not Me – It’s You, Pig.

oglingAbout a month or so ago, I had a really interesting conversation with my Mumster. She’s a wonderful woman, and someone whom I admire for her insight and brilliant sense of humour.

We were having side-by-side pedi’s and talking about the men in our life. You know, the oblivious sex. Particularly the middle-aged, if not beyond that demographic.

We were talking about how our confidence is much higher when we’re on our own, either completely out of the relationship, or at least not in the same room with them. I talked about this with other women as well, just to get a feel for it, and it seems to be generally true; women are most confident when not with their partners.

We feel capable and sexy when we don’t have someone around passively suggesting that we need to fix something about ourselves.

My oblivious man  is famous for patting me on my ample ass and asking if I’m going to the gym, or oggling another woman while we’re out together. Yes, it’s that obvious, and no, we don’t have to ignore it. Have some respect. You know what I’m talking about ladies, the general disrespect that has been deemed socially acceptable forever. Just last night it was, “Don’t take this the wrong way, but have you ever thought of having a breast reduction?” To which I thought, why yes darling, just last month when I was ready to dump your ass you ignorant tit.

Here’s a shocking newsflash; we live in our bodies. We know them, and we are keenly aware of their beauty and how they don’t measure up to society’s standards. And you know what, we love our luscious bodies anyway, because they are amazing works of art.

If you have a woman in your life who is vibrant, sexual and intelligent, you should appreciate and respect her.  Crawling out of the cave is a good start, it’s the twenty-first century after all.

If a man wants to be considered a gentleman, all of the high-priced grooming products in the world will not disguise his behavior as a douche bag.

 

sexy old man

Do I appreciate the physique of an anatomically-extremely-correct man? Absofreakinglutely. Do I rub it in my partner’s face that he bears no resemblance whatsoever to Channing Tatum or Dwayne Johnson by giving him a not-so-subtle smack on his ass and the condescending, “Are you going to the gym today baby. It’ll make you feel better?” No, I do not, but I think it may be time to start.

As a mother, it’s the last thing I want my son to have to worry about; looking like the cover of a Men’s Health magazine.

As a death care worker, I’m struck by the awesome beauty of healthy bodies every day, and I think we need to rejoice in that simple joy every day.

When your daughters, sisters and partners  struggle with mental health issues spurred on by body image (as most women do) your having the Swimsuit edition floating around your house doesn’t really help her. What it might do is fuel your fantasies of being a better lover than you really are, and makes every woman think you’re a pig. Oh yah, and that they never, ever want to get naked in front of you.

So don’t expect us to cower in our chubby bodies and be anxious about spending our days punishing ourselves with diets. We’re confident on our own. We love our bodies and quite frankly, if you want to act like you’re living in the mysogynist 60’s all over again; have at it, and while you’re there stud, get used to masturbating, because there isn’t a woman around who’s going to put up with your shit.

There are gentlemen out there who do respect their partners, and we have figured that out.

Confidence is not the issue; respect is the issue.

When it comes to humour, the only thing that’s still acceptable is woman bashing by men. We’ve all agreed that gender identity and race are not a joke, but somehow, being a woman still is.

Confidence is not the issue, men acting like pigs is.

 

I Need Your Help: Podcasts & My Fat Ass

rsbushesBefore I go on a rant, let me point out that the purpose of this post is to get your feedback…

This morning, on my day off, my precious day off, I woke up early to annoy my kiddo before he set out for school and maybe, just maybe get in a nice walk and some writing.

So, it’s raining, and some big goof ball in a blue shirt just walked all over my daffodil greens while using his  leaf blower. Not only do I subscribe to the theory that the use of the leaf blower is evidence regarding the downfall of civilization (I’m sure Donald Trump has one to shoe away the leftover talcum powder that he spritzes his undies with apres shower).  I also subscribe to the theory that some giant lanscaping a-hole should know enough to not be blaring that ridiculous contraption prior to 9am outside of bedroom windows.

Anyway, with the drizzle and the bad atmosphere at my little writing window, I decided to make my way to the treadmill next door and walk a bit while my laundry was laundering.

Why? Well, because I’ve been unwell and rather inactive lately. Walking is easy exercise, and frankly, I need it.  I’ve done classes, punished my body with hard workouts and long runs, but I just can’t seem to work up the chutzpah to spank myself into fitness submission lately.

I’m more in the mode of loving the goddess. Which means my taste in music has changed. In fact, I want to listen to stories. As a writer, I do believe that we are nothing but the stories we tell ourselves, and that sharing our stories is the spiritual equivalent of excellent nutrition.

Which brings me to my latest fascination; Missing Richard Simmons. It’s a Podcast about the theories surrounding the disappearance of Richard Simmons.

Not only am I fascinated with this story, I’m a big fan of Mr. Simmons. Despite a terrible relationship with my late mother, I fondly remember her telling me to get off my fat, ugly, ass and sweat to the oldies with her. Ah, yes, Richard Simmons.

I’ve listened to TEDtalks and CBC writing podcasts, but there’s something about this one that has me hooked. Maybe it’s the anticipation of an answer about why such a charismatic man decided to duck out.

But I’m almost finished with the series, and I want more really great stories; nothing sinister or dark, just a really, good story and a sincere desire by the storyteller to enhance our lives. With this, I feel like I could walk forever. Fitness could be my bitch.

Please share your podcast suggestions to keep my butt and my heart in shape. Also accepting DVD copies of Sweatin’ To the Oldies. Not kidding.

PS – To GK – give up your argument about massive amounts of leaves, give up the wasted fuel and instead give the neighbour kid thirty bucks and a rake.

 

 

 

Pithy Advice, The Artwork of Our Time

shadow-work

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.

 

 

 

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.

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.

 

 

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.

A Love Letter to Middle-Aged Men

shaving-brushesThere’s a running joke between the more experienced ladies in the office, and the young singletons. It goes something like this: We used to be attracted to  older men – until we got older.

Women get ugly and men get creepy. That seems to be the stereotype. I can’t say I know many creepy old men. I tend to avoid them like syphillis and fungal infections. My tastes rather lean toward the educated and emotionally intelligent gentleman. You know, the kind who might have a bit of a belly, but a beautiful heart.  Someone who still believes in romance, intellectual conversation and the value of intimacy.

I mean really. As we age, who truly wants to see us naked? Any of us? Sure, put Chris Pine shirtless on the big screen any day. But don’t ask me to be intimate with him. I could see myself making him a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and giving him a pat on the head as heads out the door to play, but not in my bed thanks.

I prefer my middle-aged, intelligent yet man-dumb, gives-a-crap-about-how-he-shows-up-in-the-world-every-day guy any day. And that my darlings, is hot.

There’s a lot of media out there that leads us to believe that men and women’s attractivness declines with age. I disagree.

Snuggling in with a middle-aged man has it’s advantages. First of all, they have come to some understanding that women will always think they are somewhat man-dumb, and are thus more open to communication.  They are more in tune with their  out-of-tuneness than younger men and are, at the very least, consistent.

Pay attention gents, we don’t want you to look any different than the day we met you. We don’t need you drive an expensive car or take us shopping. We just appreciate you for meeting us half-way, even after life has tossed you around a bit. We get it. We’ve been there too.

Yes, we see through bullshit at this age and we call you on it. We know you wouldn’t respect us if we didn’t. We don’t have time for that stuff.

gartersBut we do have time to appreciate your body and your soul. We think you’re sexy, and yes, we even fantasize about you.

We love the way that your your hairy old chest feels under our palms, and how your experienced body feels curled up next to ours.

We appreciate  who you are and where you’ve come from. We see you as a whole person; your intelligence, your emotions and your physical self. We can appreciate the scars and how hard you’ve worked and still see you as sensual and sexy and worth wearing our garters and stockings for when we go out for a romantic dinner.

We appreciate that you have earned your stripes as men, not boys. We have busy lives which keep us vibrant and we know how to prioritize a man who prioritizes us. As long as you share this adult handling of partnership, you are like Gods to us. We want to see you happy, satisfied, and we crave your touch.

Yes, we are as cynical as you, and yet we are still as hungry for fun, excitement and adventure as you. We are your intellectual and emotional equals and we want you. No Porsche required.

 

Winnipeg: What Wonders Await?

blog1

So here I am in Winnipeg.

Discovering that the curtains don’t close over the white blinds isn’t exactly a night owl’s dream.

Being woken up at precisely 6:00am by my morning lark sweetie (and not for sex)- also not delightful. And I’m all about delightful. It’s a damn good thing he’s cute and conscious of my AM limitations.

After rolling over and trying to get back to sleep I decided to get up and start the day. I opened the blinds and welcomed the sunlight, begrudgingly at that hour, but welcomed nonetheless.  I pulled up the crisply dressed all in fluffy white bed, and welcomed some quiet, ‘me time’.

The day takes me a while to ease in to you see, and I’m still adjusting to someone who is a morning person. Sweet love of Jesus, help us both.First of all, I can’t see a damn thing any more without my specs, but I can usually get to the washroom ok. Excess noise (as in anyone speaking words other than, “Would you like a coffee honey” makes my blood pressure raise in a flight or fight response, and I become at risk for a stroke, or homicide.

Despite not having my glasses on, I did spot a giant, black bug in the crack between the tub and the tiles. Suddenly I needed my glasses. Very nice. Sweetie of course was no where to be found. He was either in the gym, pool, or walking around doing some such nonsense that normal people wait to do until noon.

I was stuck with the bug.

I decided it likely wasn’t going anywhere to quickly. Big bugs aren’t like the little wirey bastards that skitter around like crack addicts. Given my AM logic, I proceeded to the in-room coffee station to make what I hoped would be passable joe.

I opted for a flip flop over a running shoe, simply because the sole is flat and I figured there’d be no losing the damn thing in the arc of the toe, or the deep grooves in the tread. Flip-flop samurai. Mission accomplished.

The coffee was a let-down, but I knew what to expect. The local Starbucks sign just down the street was taunting me, but I’m a strong woman, and I can wait until we hit the road later on today.

With my weak coffee and morning fog still lifting, I decided I would find a nice, easy jazz station to listen to while I started my first day of vacation with some writing. Right. I managed to tune in to a full-blast version of ‘Dirty Deeds’, and a twenty year old Trisha Yearwood song that reminds me of my days on the California coast. Seriously, Winnipeg? Really? This is what you’re listening to…le sigh.

I sent a quick text to my kiddo (the reason I’m here), and we laughed about the bug and my morning struggles, and in the end, were thankful to be here, together.

After my early morning of watery coffee, 70’s country and rock, and beatles in the bathtub, I don’t think this fair city can disappoint. It can only charm me….after 10:00 am of course.

In the mean-time, there is sunshine and vespers on Jazz 107.