Why I Open My Door At Thanksgiving

give thanks…because I’m truly grateful for the abundance of friends in my life.

My Thanksgiving celebrations are always potluck, jeans and t-shirt style. I put on the turkey, and everyone else brings something to share. That way no one has to do a lot of work and I’m not too stressed out to enjoy my friends.

Potluck is also a good conversations starter; Mmm! I love this! Who made it? What’s the recipe?….and the conversation goes on from there.

That’s what life is about.

I’ve been through hell and back as a child and as a young woman. Throughout all of it, I’ve had wonderful friends who are each, in their own way, unique and perfect.

Holiday times used to be sad for me, lonely even . I was often new in town, without family, and I felt very alone. As time went on, my new friendships deepened, and although I went through times of despair and loneliness, my friends would always show up in ways that helped me understand what was really important.

So at Thanksgiving, many people are caught up in family tug-of-wars about who goes where and who is hosting what. Or, maybe they have no family at all.

Autumn is the time of year when we start turning inward. The changing colour of the leaves wave us into shorter days and cooler nights. We cozy up inside, in big sweaters and under cozy blankets. We begin the journey into a season often spiritually described as one of mystery and hope.

I open my door at this time of year so that friends have a place to come and relax. My friends are my family, and I love them all.

I don’t have much, but I hope I offer a safe space to be yourself, laugh, and be nourished; both body and soul.

 

 

 

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Just Because You’re Supposed To Doesn’t Mean You Should; Maiden Mother Crone

maiden mother croneI’m old now. Ok, not really old, but older, and women in their 20’s and 30’s think I”m the wise old owl. I kind of dig it.

I’m the lady younger women come to for advice, to air their worries, and that they see as some kind of icon of independence, strength and compassion. They also think I’m eccentric, old and clueless at times. It’s a fine balance,and I think I can handle it.

At the root of all issues for most young ladies and old alike is the fine balance of fulfilling our practical obligations and doing the things that make us feel good.

We slip into our roles as caregivers in a Stepford-kind-of-way. So much of what we do falls into a less-than-conscious way of being. We do because that’s what we’re supposed to do; because that’s what everyone expects.

And then we lose ourselves to all of that. We simply do not have time to do the things we love. We don’t prioritize it. Women’s soul-work is not valued. We become mothers to our partners subtle demands. Guilt can be sinister and subtle.

So, to the younger ladies who come to me with their relationship, career and creative struggles, my one piece of advice is to do what makes them feel alive, and make sure they have a solid resume to support themselves.

I’m as guilty as the next woman when it comes to romantic ideals, but I’m older and wiser now.  If a partner tells you they’re not good enough for you; they’re not. If they tell you they’re not sure where the relationship is going; it’s not going anywhere. Embrace what brings you joy and go do that .

 

Bottom line, do not stop prioritizing the things that bring you solitary joy. For me it’s writing, painting, going to art galleries and camping.  Stick with your tribe. You need your girlfriends and you need to keep your own zest for life alive.

crone poem

 

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.

 

 

 

 

November 30th – Time to Commit to Christmas Carousing

women-coffeeThere’s nothing I admire more than a woman who doesn’t whine.

Perhaps a well matched wine to a hearty meal or a really comfy pair of walking shoes, but strong women always have a special place in my heart.

Whenever I get discouraged, down on myself, or frustrated, I think about how few women I know have overcome the adversity I’ve faced and kept it all together.

And then I automatically think of my mumster. The woman who took me under her wing when I was a rowdy thirty-something year old.  In my adult life, I never had a mum.  It kinda felt weird taking on a new one seeing as I was an adult already. But it was a good weird. It took me a while to understand that depth of kindness, even though I knew what it meant to be a mother.

Last night I came home from a weekend away, working on a relationship that only middle-age could inspire. Mumster had been here overseeing the household and my giant kiddo. The first thing that I noticed when I walked through the door was that the house was clean. Clean! My kiddo was still alive, and the kitties were happy. Prior to going away I had been working long hours, staying in the city, and trying to make everyone else happy. Mumster to the rescue.

Come to think of of it, it has been mumster to the rescue in a lot of cases; old broken down cars, old broken down hearts, and old broken down patterns of coping.

As busy as life gets, I think of her every day, I just don’t take the time I should to let her know. So, at Christmas time, I look forward to our visit, our time together, and giving her a thoughtful gift just for her.

I also like to take time to see the other fabulous women in my life; my bestie the Lovely Mrs. L, my crazy aunties, Cindy, Darleen, Virginia, Carrie, Karen….the list is long and beautiful, and yes, Carlo and Colin, rest assured, you are both considered one of the girls. You too Dennis.

Even though cynics criticize Christmas revelers as hypocrites for getting together only in December, I have to make a statement on the other side of the line. I really don’t care what the excuse is, I’m grateful for it and I will use it to connect with the people I love for as long as I’m able. Amen and hallelujah to that darlings, now pass the nogger and throw on your santa suit ’cause mamma loves to celebrate!

 

 

 

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.

Well Hello There Anger, You Curious Beast

rozSubtlety has never been one of my shining qualities, nor do I wish it to be. It makes for hearty discussions that can be uncomfortable yet rich. Being with people who can admit that they are afraid of the dark,  yet have the courage to explore it are the best kind of people.

I’m a fiery gal. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. I am not for the faint of heart or the timid.

But I’m also soft-hearted to a fault, and love nothing more than to take people in, feed them, make sure they’re safe, and take care of them.

For many years, like many women, anger was not my friend. It’s ugly, and doesn’t accessorize well. It chewed me up from the inside out, and boy oh boy, did I suffer for ignoring it. Once my practice matured, I was able to let it in, give it room to breathe it’s fire, and finally burn off the dangerous edges.

This post was inspired by my incorrect perception. Some might even say, I was wrong. But let’s not get carried away now my sweet little peaches. Being wrong is such a bitch and entirely not sexy.

The human smorgasbord of emotion is fascinating, with a little of this and a dash of that sprinkled through the entire menu. What I’ve discovered, and I believe to be true, is that the  plethora of negative emotions are all rooted in the muck of fear. To be fearless about exploring those negative emotions, well, that my darlings, is interesting stuff.

I will be the first to admit that relationships scare the hell out of me. Commitment is a word I actually had an issue saying ( it made me stutter).  Yet, I’m a devoted, loyal, stick-with-you-to-the-end friend and colleague. What gives?

Well, after years of learning and practicing, I came to understand just how healthy it is not to deny myself all of the ugly-step-sister emotions; anger, jealousy, shame. They are all rooted in fear, and we, as human beings all experience fear and the offshoots of fear every day.

After a thoughtful discussion with my sweetie last night about anger, communication, and perception, I came back to an article by Jules Shuzen Harris, Sensei; Uprooting the Seeds of Anger, (Tricycle, Summer 2012 p44-47);

We’re going to keep getting angry. It’s going to come up. It has come up in our lives before, and it will come up again. This practice is about becoming more mindful, becoming aware of how we are getting stuck. With care and work, we find ways to get unstuck. But we also know that the moment we get unstuck, we’re going to get stuck again. That’s why it is called a practice – we never arrive. So when you find yourself upset or angry, use the moment as apart of your practice, as an opportunity to notice and uproot the seeds of anger and move into the heart of genuine compassion.

This passage speaks to me of impermanence, the Five Skandhas, and the importance of self-compassion as we practice mindful living/self-awareness.

When I first sought out meditation practice and the wisdom of the monastic teachings at a local monastery, what I really was doing, was running away from fear. I thought that I was doing something wrong, and that being happy all of the time was what being a spiritual being was all about. But, surprise, surprise, the Goddess-of-Everything-Delightful was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ick.

Denying oneself the full-spectrum of emotion is like plastering concealer over a nasty pimple. Eventually it wears off, and it just makes the problem worse.

Our daily practice consists in running away…We are afraid of the suffering that is inside us, afraid of war and conflits…But we do not want this fear to manifest, because it hurts, and so we repress it.  We try to repress our suffering and we invite other energies into our ‘lving room’ to fill it up so that the negative energies will not be able to make their appearance there…We should not adopt this boycott policy. On the contrary we should open our door so that our suffering can come out.  (Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love)

I have committed to my practice, and I feel it slip when fear enters uninvited, tracking mud through my heart. But I won’t pretend it’s not there. I will not kick it out, or wash away the dirty footprints without taking a good look at how it got in, and what I might do lovingly acknowledge it.

 

 

 

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.