Vulnerability vs. Stupidity

mice and cat

 

Facebook was kind enough to send me a memory from a year ago.  I must have shared this while feeling rather on-top-of-the-world and likely somewhat smug about it all. Mea Culpa.

vulnerable

I do agree with the statement – Wholeheartedly, but today I feel much differently about my vulnerability than I did then.

I’m feeling rather stupid. You know, that lovely nausea inducing feeling of shame and embarrassment. I absolutely believe in vulnerability, and generally, when it comes to little things, like asking for help at work or sharing my  experiences with someone down and out to help them feel better, I’m good at it.

But the big things I’ve been vulnerable with have come back to bite me in the ass. Instead of feeling safe, secure and loved, I feel ashamed. I feel worse off, and the weight of the world is now resting on my shoulders way more heavily than it did a year ago.

It begs the question of how we know when to expose our bellies to a world full of people with emotional swords.  The answer is something we all know; we don’t, we never will, and it’s always a risk.

Years ago I thought that it was worth the cost, you know, all of that hokey nonsense about in order to receive great love, we need to take great risks. At this age,  I’m not so sure any more. I kind of like the idea of curling up in a big ball and keeping my war-weary heart safe and sound.

Weigh whom you share your weaknesses, needs and dreams with. Be as sure as you can that they will honour you where you are  most fragile.

Wishing you  great friends who will cherish your vulnerability, and in turn, trust you with theirs. Kindness, kindness, kindness. May it reign.

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Ladies Night

dull-housewifeSometimes women are their worst enemies.

I have a reputation for rallying the troops for bi-annual lunches and events. But I’m pretty discouraged. In a recent attempt to bring some women together for a march to support women’s rights and a lunch afterward (yah, first world), I had one response from 25 women. One. Talk about privileged apathy.

I’m tired of hearing women complain about fatigue, feeling unfulfilled and burnt out when 99% of us don’t do a damn thing about it.This included rallying in the streets to protest our continued oppression. And I’m tired of being the only woman in my circle who swings wide the door so women have a place to come and bond. Ladies night? Whatever, I hear you bitching, but I don’t see you getting your goddess on and doing something about it.

Women are  caregivers, the healers and the peacemakers. We do a damn good job of sabotaging our own happiness by making sure everyone else’s needs are taken care of first.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m queen of cooking and mothering. I love to love, and I show it by being generous with my time and affection. I’m also human with my own needs, creativity and intellect.

It is apparent that men damn well do as they please with the absolute expectation that we’ll pack them a lunch on their way;We’re having a boys night, I’m going for a drink, we’re going to the game. Good. Go. Pul-eaze.

I believe that women absolutely need other women. We often get lost in this good-housekeeping-Maytag-1940’s-couture-ideal of being a partner, and when our relationships decay and our kids fly the coop, what’s left? I’ll tell you – a woman with no confidence,identity or fun stuff in her closet.

Having been single for most of my adult life, I feel blessed to have been so independent, I feel proud of my hard-won confidence and courage. I respect other women who haven’t won their financial freedom by spending years  in a marriage with no real relationship to their partner or themselves, only to the status quo.

Women need women. I aspire to inspire, and I also need to be around other women who make our goddess-power a priority. Applications now being accepted; bring fabulousness.

 

 

 

 

Friendship:Urine My Good Books

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Tonight I had to laugh as I dogged my way through backed up email.

The first email I opened was from a friend encouraging me to drink my own urine.

No, I did not freak out or wretch.

I laughed. Out loud. And it was a most welcome sound.  I could laugh because anyone who didn’t know us would think she was crazy, and that I was too. But that’s their problem, and their brand of crazy.

I haven’t done a lot of laughing of late, and having a friend who can talk about drinking pee makes me smile – laugh even.

I’m not going to get into the whole pee-as-a-beverage conversation, but let me just say this; she’s not crazy. She’s my friend.

That email (and the prior conversation we had about the entire process), reminded me of just how lucky we are to have friends with whom we can share our brand of crazy with. It is a wild and crazy life after all, and I think that’s easy to forget.

“I haven’t been myself lately,” was something that I said to a colleague today as we sorted out Chinese undies (don’t ask). I think that might have been the grossest understatement I’ve made in a while. Truth be told, I haven’t been jolly-old-over-the-top-flamboyant-self in a while, and hell, I MISS her!

My friends are grand reminders of who I am, how far I’ve come, the hope and the silliness still left in the world.

Just this week alone, I have been given all kinds of wonderful advice: drink your own pee, quit your job, have an affair, call in sick…

What would we do without our friends?  You see, it’s not about taking or giving advice. It’s about being caring enough to want to know how someone is feeling,  curious enough to look at alternative ways of being in the world and courageous enough to live out our choices.

As I plucked through my email, I came across a little email from ‘the crazy cat lady’ who used to be my neighbour,  I had a copied and pasted message from one of my friends’ lovers ( a seriously well-written love letter…swoon), and an invitation to some sort of kitchen party. I had a reminder about a dinner a friend planned for me knowing my love of all things bourbon and spicy. I also had bills, a library pick-up notice, and a reminder about my e-signature on a contract.

As I muddle through the darkness of ‘not quite being myself’, emails about urine as medicine, torrid love affairs and kitchen-knick-knacks I don’t-need-but-want are most welcome reminders that these seemingly frivolous distractions are the substance of life, not just unnecessary distractions.

Sending out my gratitude for my crazy, lovely, ever-so-wonderful friends…xo

 

With Friends Like You, Who Needs Enemies?

flappersI’m in a waiting room…waiting.

You see, I’m struggling with a health issue.  In short, it makes me feel like shit, and takes the fun out of life.

When there’s not a lot of fun in the first place, you begin to cherish it even more. Hell, fun is my middle name!

The point of telling you this is two fold; first of all, we’re not getting any younger, and two, anything that brings you great joy is precious. Silliness for example brings me great joy,  as does a double shot of gin with tonic and lime, over-the-top-lovers, brave poetry and a slow, indulgent waking from a solid sleep. None of these are things I’m willing to give up.

The other night, I sat out on the stoop of a pal’s house sipping  gin and catching up on what was going on with each other. We laughed and vowed that our gin-sipping-stoop-sitting shall continue on a weekly basis. Just this morning we missed our planned coffee date…and so it goes.

Anyway, here I sit. Now. Waiting. In this room that reminds us that we won’t live forever.

And I’m thinking about my friends and just how shitty our friendships have become.

Women suck at actively nurturing the relationships that make us feel young at heart and ignite our vitality.

After years of being the organizer for lunches and dinners and events, I’ve pretty much given up. It is not my job to drag everyone from their work-a-day doldrums and ho-hum lovers.

It is time to commit to my own joy and vibrancy. It’s time to get my chubby buns in gear and connect with those who respond when I have a spectacularly fun idea. I also solemnly swear to make a special effort to get together with friends who come up with some shenanigans as well.

Let’s face it. Women put themselves last. You know and I know.

If your adult partner and teenage children can’t dress themselves and find food for a day or two, I hate to break it to you, but they’re likely too stupid to justify their space on the planet. If that’s the reason you neglect your friendships, congratulations.

So take a good look around and see if you feel alive. Like really alive; excited about something that makes you lose all track of time, makes you stop worrying, checking your phone and excited to share with kindred spirits. I’m talking about more than hiding in the bathtub with a glass of wine for half an hour every night.

Having said all of this, I’ve lost some of myself lately looking after paying the bills and building a strong foundation from which my kiddo will launch into the world. I’ve lost some of myself digging in to a committed relationship.

I see it now, and I desperately need to adjust my priorities.

There’s this old wives tale that life goes faster the older you get. I  no longer think it’s just something old people say. I know it to be true.

Basically, we’re all in a waiting room, forgetting that life is meant to be lived; joyfully, fully, in the present moment with people who cherish you for everything that you are.

If you haven’t heard from me in a while, it’s because I’m trying to find that joy again with people who also appreciate the fleeting nature of our own vitality.

Spring Road Tripping; Spotting the Elusive Adult Smile

flapperI’ve been  mulling some things over in my mind for a few days (and really, I’m just too pretty to have to think that hard), so I decided to call a pal for a little perspective.

Said pal has been slogging through the dark and mysterious land of the Bad-Relationshipdom for quite some time. When I got to thinking of it, it wasn’t only her that seems to be trapped in some-such-miserable-sexless-relationship-conundrum.

How long,” I thought to myself, ” has it been since I heard my friends really laugh?”

Much too long.

The gal-pal I called today is one of my closest friends (we can talk about anything without shame), I’ve been really worried about her. Somewhere along the way someone stole her chutzpah, and she was so worn out, I thought she’d never really get it back.

But today she picked up the phone, excited about a recent connection a-la-bad-boy, whom, according a few of our mutual friends, must meet me. The female equivalent of his badassery of course.

What was wonderful about the conversation was that she laughed. I could hear the joie de vivre in her voice again, and I knew that she had not been completely eaten up by the chasm of misery known as a bad, relationship.

Later on I received a text from another pal who recently packed up and moved in with the love of his life. They extended an invitation to visit, and sent along some pretty appealing photos of a pub next-door to their new digs, which boasted a pretty damn tempting whiskey collection. He was exhausted from the work of moving….but happy. I pictured them snuggled up at the bar, cozy in one another’s arms, and smiling.

Another pal who has witnessed many of my libertarian nights turn into hung-over mornings sent a quick text saying he was in town and going to pop by work.

As a wild-child turned adult, I often feel that I miss the shenanigans I once was so famous for. I miss hearing the joy, excitement and silliness in my friend’s voices as they talk about their lives.

Today their joy was mine, and I knew that as sure as spring is around the corner, so are a few road trips. It’s time to hit the road and make some memories.

 

#TBT Throwing it Back

never grow upToday I indulged in TBT, tagging my best friend of nearly 30 years in one of my favourite photos.

We were sitting atop a huge boulder in the northern Ontario wilderness, each wearing our high school sweetheart’s sweater, and sporting late 1980’s curls.

Our body language and shy smiles told the world that we were unsure and dreamy; unsure about what the world had in store for us, but sure that it was wonderful.

Flipping through my old photo album, I found another gem. It was a photo of a group of eight of us posing in someone’s living room in our prom finery.

One of the boys and I have kept in touch, and we recently had a conversation about adult things; careers, children, lovers and just how very difficult it is to schedule time for fun.

Throughout the years friendships have waxed and wained. As spouses, children, divorce and death have visited, many of us have forgotten who those fresh-faced kids were who stare back at us from our shared TBT photos.

As my conversation ended with my guy-pal from that old, prom photo, I wished that I could give him back his mischievous smile and take away the pain that he has come to know as an adult.

I wished we could go back to the days he shyly delivered truckloads of ice to the quaint village store where I used to work, barely raising my eyes to meet his,  offering a small wave by way of acknowledgement.

Social media may be flawed, but the older I get, the more I appreciate being reminded by these friends, of the magic we all carry within us. Our news, updates and loll’s  breathe life into our still-young-at-heart-hopes-and-dreams.

Celebrate TBT and throw it back out there. You never know who you may inspire to seek out their young school-kid heart and remember what it’s like to be silly.

Beach Life: Bathing Suits for the Rest of Us

Sennett-Bathing-Beauties-1915_thumbI bought a bathing suit today.

Yes, I know it’s the middle of Canadian winter. No, I haven’t booked a sun-holiday…yet.

I’m debating the merits of an Irish romp with my sweetheart, or a solo beach holiday.

Either way I’m taking a two-piece bathing suit with me that would have made my mother convulse.

You see, I was raised by a woman who suffered extremely low self-esteem and did her best to pass that little nugget of twisted psychology on to her youngest daughter. That’s me by the way.

I grew up in a small town and lived at the beach. Winter, spring, summer and fall. Summer was my favourite. There was nothing better than swimming in the lake all day, the smell of malt vinegar on the homemade French fries that they sold at the little snack shack that would sometimes be lifted off it’s foundation and dragged with the tide when the spring water was high.

Somewhere out there is a photograph of me grinning a grin so wild and wonderful, that I have held that image in my mind for all of these years. It’s a moment of bliss I remind myself I’m capable of, even as an adult.

There I was, white caps at my back,  standing naked, proudly holding my bathing suit at arms length. My waist-long, blonde, pig-tails tangled with lake water and sand, just daring someone to try and get that wet, sticky bathing suit back onto my body.

I may not have been skinny enough, pretty enough, or worried enough about what people thought about what I wore every day. But I was wise enough. Typical of anyone who suffered childhood trauma, I was quiet and very observant. I was constantly tuned in to the tiniest nuance of mood, just in case.

At a very young age, I came to realize that no matter how thin, how pretty, or how well-turned out they were, there were a whole lot of unhappy women out there. And that unhappiness was ugly. Like, soul-deep ugly. Their fear of not being good enough came out as anger and jealousy, and missed trips to fun places. It stopped them from smiling. IT stopped them from going to the beach, getting their hair wet, or smudging their mascara. Their insecurity overshadowed everything. They  let their tummies and their thighs hold them back.

You see, before I even reached puberty I had decided that fat would not keep me from enjoying the beach. Or the snow, or going out to eat a delicious meal. Later on in life, I decided that fat would also not keep me from making wild, passionate love to the man I loved. Some crazy idea of being not good enough would not keep me from having fun.

Being an average looking woman would not keep me from savouring all of the wonderful bits of life, and it certainly did not make me less worthy of healthy curiosity and joy. In fact, I think this joie de vivre is one of the qualities that make many of us beautiful.

I will never be solicited for the cover of Vogue, nor will I turn the heads of men because I’m the ideal beauty. But I will turn the heads of like-minded people. These are the people who buy big, bright bathing suits, get their hair wet, and laugh with every inch of their sun-soaked, skin.

Buy the bathing suit, not because it’s going to turn you into a model. Buy it because it’s a tool in your tickle-trunk of living fully.

 

 

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.

 

Pick Up The Phone if They Make You Giggle

gigglemore.jpgImmediately after I turned off my bedside lamp last night, my phone lit up.

I was zenned out after having read a chapter in a Buddhist classic. To look or not to look. Oh, what the hell…

I glanced at the screen  thinking a little dreamily that it may be a romantic good night message.

Nope.

Not my sweetie.

It was a friend with whom I had recently connected. The kind of friend whose presence immediately shakes off ten years of cynicism and seriousness. He’s the kind of pal that makes me feel vibrant, silly and indomitable.

Our friendship was always one where we could be expected to find ourselves arrested, invited to an impromptu wedding, or making our way home at 10am, barely piecing our evening shenanigans together, with one shoe off and someone else’s shirt on.

We all need this kind of friend.

I was tired when the text came in, a bit caught up in my own head, and really, just not feeling as fabulous as our friendship warrants. So, what’s a gal to do?

That’s right. I picked up the phone and called him. We giggled about his upcoming rendez-vous. We shared stories about our love life and giggled about our foibles.

For those moments, we were young again, fearless, and ready to take the world by storm, with gorgeous unmentionables, and enough confidence to march right into our next affair with our heads held high and our pink and whites of the most tacky design.

When your phone rings, and it’s one of those people who keeps you young, giggling, and feeling like there are reasons (albeit superficial and decadently sexy) to carry on living, answer the call. Better yet, make the call. These are the people who inspire your laughter, and that my darlings is what makes life worth living

Let this be the year you giggle more. Let this be the year you succumb to silliness. Let the  the youth that still grows in your wild and wonderfully fickle heart spring forth and surprise you. Toodles.

 

Sink Or Swim; Nostalgia & a Little Shove

mylifeHolidays tend to make us nostalgic. Thank goodness that they’re officially over for 2015.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard, “2015 was a terrible year“. Wow.

I prefer to frame my year as a deli sandwich. The bread was delicious, but the meat of it was a little sour. In other words, the first and last thirds were great (as in; good enough), but the middle really blew.

How often as children did we say a year was terrible? We didn’t darlings. We just did the 10 second countdown to the new year and moved forward with joyful, curious abandon.

sufferingNow we yearn for the days when life was simple and  we still believed in magic. Friendships and family were taken for granted, and happiness was just on the other side of the screen door.

As adults, we tend to overcomplicate things. ‘Be kind and play fair’, seem to have gotten lost in the big, adult personal ethics playbook. And that just stinks. Because it hurts. Yes, people can be selfish and cruel, but they can also be kind, giving, and lovely to snuggle up with. Naked.

As human beings, we all want to be loved. We all need and want strong friendships, a true love with whom we can  share our most intimate selves , and bourbon. Ok, maybe the last bit is all about me, but whatever.

When we lose ourselves in the fray of losing the one person we fell in love with, we feel broken. I’ve been there. It hurts. It’s scary, and it puts a pretty harsh filter on our vision of the future.

Just this summer, I sat, sobbing on my friend’s front step, while she nursed my broken heart and damaged pride. I felt empty, hopeless, afraid and lost.

We live in a world that prizes the individual and yet makes it impossible to live without the safety net of community, family and friends. Yes, the great Western-way-of-life has unfolded into a wonderful cock-up of psychological dissonance. But what do I know? I’m just a girl after all.

I do know this. The holiday season has seen a lot of falling in and out of love; happy hearts and hearts that have been broken and need time to heal, relationships that are worn thin, or worn out altogether.

The beautifully terrifying part of it all, is that the only way to heal a heart is to live life. The very life that has tossed you like a small boat on a big, angry, ocean, leaving you feeling washed up and broken beyond repair.

Cling to curiosity. Let your friends lead you when you are  blinded by tears. Be wary of the seductive pull of too much sleep, lack of self care, and try to remember how good it feels to laugh after you decide to, ‘fuck it’.

As a quasi-Buddhist-lover-of-Christian-ritual, this speaks to me. You have two choices; get up, dive back into that same unpredictable ocean to wash yourself clean, or wallow in the sand getting burned by the sun and possibly gnawed to death by vicious, exotic fauna.

Sometimes you need a friend to role you back into the ocean. In some cases, you need a friend to drag you, kicking and screaming, back to life. It’s called tough love, and we all need it once in a while.

Nostalgia and wishing for a happily-ever-after is a waste of time.

havetimeYou and I both know that more than anything else, this is true; life is short and precious.

Take the time you need to sit quietly with your broken heart. Don’t run away from it, or deny it what it needs to tell you.  Take your sadness and swaddle it like a helpless infant. As difficult as this may seem, you will see that soon enough, you will be at peace with it.

Weep. Cry. Scream into your pillow…and as you take your last gasp of sobbing breath, get ready for a shove back into the ocean of life.

You’ve always been a beautiful swimmer darling. Always.