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How to Get Up & Get Going For Fall

The older I get, the easier it is to make up excuses not to do stuff.

It’s easy to come home, go through the motions and then fake like a boob and get stuck on the chesterfield all night.

It was thanks only to my genius Summer-To-Do list that I accomplished anything fun this summer. You see, my summer turned into a bit of a gong-show, thanks to my self-indulgent je-ne-care-pas, and a schedule only five-star anal-retentive could memorize.

I managed to accomplish all but one of the fun-things on my list. I’m ok with that though. It’ll give me a starting point for my 2016-Summer-To-Do-List.

So, with the proven success of making a list of fun stuff to do,(spontaneity is best, but what the hell, I’m Type A) I am going to formulate an Autumn To-Do List. This will not include anything that I don’t want to do, like finish most of my Christmas shopping, grout cleaning or dragging out our winter clothing.

1) Host our annual Friends’ Thanksgiving Dinner

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2) Spending a day at one, or a number of, our local Niagara Winerieswinetour

3) Purchasing 12 bottles of wine directly from said wineries

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4) Hallowe’en Hay Ride, corn maze, or some such shenanigan…

corn maze

5) Road trip with someone who makes me laugh

roadtriplaughing

6) Smores in the fireplace

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Things That Make Me Happy

I think we all have enough of ‘have-to’s’ in our life. Let’s take a little peek at some of the lovely things that make life a little more bearable….

(all photos found on yahoo.ca)

Daffodils – the first sign of spring way up here in the Great-White-North.

 

firstsignspringGulpable wine

red-wine-wallpaper

Hot coffee in the morning

coffeemorning

A Shoulder to Lean On…a strong, competent shoulder…

shouldertoleanon

A really good book

gatsby

..and another wonderful book patiently waiting to be read…

bookonbed

Candlelit baths

bathbycandle

Being read poetry while in the bath

NerudaPoem

Kittens and old cats…

kitties

The first ball-game of the season

baseball

…and the first ballpark frank and cold beer…

beerandhotdog

…and the next season of ball…

oregon

Dinner with kindred spirits

bestnight

Kisses in the rain

rainkisses

Stargazing

Deep space nebulae

Waking without an alarm clock or agenda

sleepingin

Celebrating (anything) with champagne

champagne

Kindness

adopt

 

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How Will You Spend the Last Week of Summer?

28728-Vintage-Ferris-Wheel
“The end-of-summer winds make people restless.” ~Sebastian Faulks~
The 31st day of August, and all is well.

Well? 

The end of August, although not the official end of summer, is the end of summer-as-we-know-it.

Yesterday at the grocery store, I found myself sniffing pumpkin-spice scented candles and wondering at the orange, red and brown accessories that accompany back to school granola bar and juice box on-sale-specials. As I wandered the aisles, the reality that another summer was waving good-bye with her candy-apple red manicure, sunk in.

Did you manage to do everything that you wanted to do this summer? Did you go skinny-dipping under the stars with your sweetie? Did you plant your garden? Did you stay up too late drinking wine and talking the deep, soul quenching talks with your true-love?

Once again I have a summer-to-do list that is still unfulfilled. I did manage to do a few things though, and I still have a few days left. A concert, a day at the CNE and goodness-knows-what will be crammed in there. I hope to make every moment of this last week of summer count. I hope that you do the same.

During the past two weeks, I’ve silently mourned the dwindling hours of daylight. Yesterday, in the humid afternoon air of late August, I made a pathetic attempt to reorganize our shed, but made just enough progress to untangle lights and recycle a couple of empty boxes.

I hung twinkle lights on the patio, and dreamed of our annual fall Friends-Thanksgiving-Gathering. I imagined the pumpkins and corn stalks and decorations that would take the place of my petunias and geraniums.

summersunflowerAt dusk, under the twinkle lights with my cup of tea, I let my mind wander to the blessings in my life. For even though this summer has been the first time in my life that I have really come to know sadness, I have so much for which to be grateful.

The sunshine of summer is transforming to the warm colours of fall. Seasons change and turn with no regard for how much we feel we have accomplished, how satisfying our relationships are, or our ability to appreciate the swift, unforgiving nature of time.

We have one week left darlings; Wishing you a week of summer that is full of the light-hearted delights that only summer can offer.

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Lay Your Body Down;What To Do When You Don’t Know What to Do

faintingI’m not the kind of gal who runs from trouble. What I mean is, when the going gets tough, I stick in there. Always have, and likely always will.

You see, for the people out there who don’t know what it’s like to be ‘free’, I direct you to a line made famous by Janis Joplin but written by Kris Kristofferson;

Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose

In other words, I’ve never had anyone who’s had my back and the only ‘thing’ I have to lose is my sense of self. Even though I come from a long history of a-holes (that’s French for lunatics and weirdos),  I’m the woman who always shows up, smiles and does what needs to be done.

Some days I hate it. I hate that people have so much damn faith in me. Some days I’d like to be the southern-belle who swoons and takes to her bed until the villain knuckles and offers her an icy mint julep and the keys to happily-ever-after.

Anyone who knows me knows that I would never do that. I’d be the southern-belle with mud on her skirts and a villain by the balls short and curlies with a shot of bourbon at the ready, and a poetry salon going on all the while in the parlour.

I live and love in a fiercely loyal way. It can be heartbreaking and it can be beautiful. As my darling cousin reminded me, “When you love, you love BIG, and there’s nothing wrong with that.” In other words, I fall completely head over heels and give 100% of myself. If I’d only invested in a tissue company, I might be able to stop my nine-to-five and open my home to artists and their muses…alas my sweet peaches, I digress…

Coming from a painful upbringing, I value ideals more than I do material things: friendship, honesty, loyalty, and stick-to-it-ness. I fight for what is good and right. I fight for the ideals and people whom I love.

Lately I’ve lost a lot. A lifetime of lost hope, and maybe even a future I was so looking forward to.

A wise grief therapist, in a Southern Baptist drawl reminiscent of an old-time, passionate, protestant preacher once said,

You will need to lay your body down

Walking up the stairs to my office a couple of weeks ago, those words came to me.  I realized that I have not had the opportunity to do this. More importantly, I’m out of practice and I’m not very good at it. But I try.

You see, when you’re ordained with the heavy knowledge of the human soul and its suffering, it’s not a job you can retire from, or hand to anyone else. It is simply yours to hold with all of the suffering and joy that comes along with it.

But you can rest. You can lay your body down; for ten minutes while you try to calm your mind, or two hours while your physical self recovers from being at battle with your anxiety. You can take time to feel the pain that you had no control over coming into your life, and you can release it. You can choose not to carry what is not yours and to replenish your own self in order that you may continue to love those whom have earned a place in such a completely loving heart.

There have been many, many tears lately. Years ago I thought that I didn’t have any left. I was wrong, but as I allow my emotions to wash over me, I remember my Sifu’s story of a woman weeping in meditation. She said nothing, simply rubbed the woman’s back until she stopped sobbing. This kind of emotional release is exhausting, and soon wears us out. Like meditation, we are aware of the rise, the expression, the pain and the release of these things that remind us we are fully human, just as we notice joy and laughter and love. The painful things suck though, and we’d be more than happy to avoid them. But this is life darlings, in all of it’s stunning and frightening mystery.

So, just a little note from an old gal who feels like she’s had her heart and soul ripped out, don’t ever give up on what you believe in. Don’t stop making wishes on old dandelions that are waiting to be blown out into a universe waiting to answer your prayers.  Don’t give up on love, on friendship or on bringing something good to the world every day, even if it’s just having the courage not to quit.

But do lay your body down, and please, remind me it’s ok to do the same.

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Dining Alfresco

eggcrackingThere are two types of people, those who prefer to dine al fresco and those who don’t.

Those who truly do, know the glory of stretching out on the grass and delighting in the most simple of food while watching the world go by. These types of folks like wild, rambling conversations, a good drink, a solid sleep and the company of like-minded people.

I’ve been known to be one of those people. Often, and without reserve.

This morning, after having been swatted away like an irritating insect by my loveliest of lovely men ever, I decided I’d forgo further snuggling, suck up the fact that I was not living with a cuddler, and head to the office early.

As you all know, lengthy, relationships with the less fair sex have never been my strength. Relationships of purpose and pre-determined length (preferably no longer than three hours at the outside), nonetheless meaningful however, have been my go-to preference. I’m a woman with diverse tastes after all.

But since having nestled into a loving, long-term relationship, my own gifts to give have been called into question by a relentlessly ironic universe. As I was propelled through morning traffic my mind wandered to wonder what exactly it was that had me feeling unsettled, unsure and quite frankly, a bit like hitting the accelerator in a panic and turning off onto the highway to faraway-parts-unknown. Parts that would surely include a beach, icy gin, and quiet sunrises.

My first email of the day was a monthly or bi-weekly or quarterly, or whatever-the-hell-time-frame-they- plop-it-out newsletter from an employee assistance program. This month’s topic? Relationships.

I.Kid.You.Not.

Oh, the irony, and before 8:00 a.m. no less. Le sigh…black coffee and silence pleases plebs, momma’s got some thinkin’ to do.

At the top of the newsletter were the politically correct number of Caucasian, African-American and Asians (three in total, sorry Native Americans, Drag Queens and everyone else, you remain represented and marginalized by the ‘big three’). However, someone in marketing goofed (or not), because they were all women.

Excuse me?

All women? Only women need this information about relationships; professional, familial, friendships, romantic? Say it ain’t so.

For a moment I thought about the lovely handsome man who was slumbering in our bed, oblivious to having tossed off the morning-snog bowline and giving me the equivalent of a one-legged-flat-footed send off from shore after having taken my paddle, map and water and shoving me out into the pre-dawn,swampy, wilderness.

Ok, ok, I might exaggerate a little bit, but I’m a woman of great imagination, and I want to be sure you understand the depth of my feeling. But I digress…

The irony of the morning send off and morning email was not lost on me. Not lost on me because women so often are the gatekeepers of relationship health. My mumster’s wise words of wisdom have always been, ‘Men will treat you how you allow them to treat you“. In other words, don’t take any shit, and be prepared to reel in your line,go to another fishing hole without haste, on your own steam, without looking back and wearing something that makes you feel wonderful. Thanks Ma.

But why did it bother me this morning? Most mornings, I’m happy to leave my delightfully delicious man-steak peacefully slumbering with his light snore and adorably messy hair, knowing he’s safe, resting, happy, and refueling his manliest of manly love-machines.

It wasn’t until this afternoon while I was driving around, finding (or losing, depends on how you look at it), my religion that it dawned on me.

My ah-ha moment? There was this beautifully haggard, out-of-time man sitting, back against one of the only trees generous enough to provide shade. His legs were stretched out in front of him, one laying long against cool grass, the other bent, over which he rested his arm. He was chomping on a sandwich and watching the world go by. It could have been 2015 and it could have been 1815. It didn’t matter. He was in the moment, being fully alive and human.

This man was the answer to that nagging question the bitch of insecurity had followed me with from my bedroom to work this morning. I am that man. Well, I’m really not that man, but you know what I mean right darlings?

I mean, I’m the kind of woman who does that kind of thing every day. I’ve never given it a second thought. I come home and revel in being naked, sliding on a pair of undies after my after work soak, pulling on a t-shirt, and drinking, writing, or entertaining the less fair sex into the wee hours of the morning.

I’m that guy!!! I’m the Alfresco diner for Christ’s sake!!!

Somewhere along the way during the past few months I’ve lost him her.

Immediately I decided to ditch my suit, and cling to a patio chair while being administered cold gin and tonics and listening to Jimmy Buffett.

Instead I came home, mumbled the residue of the angst that has been holding me prisoner, collapsed into bed for two hours and awoke looking like the Pillsbury Dough-boy in a coral-coloured tunic.

Tomorrow I’ll do it with more flair and a double G&T. I will welcome my self back gently and with wonderfully tacky beach music.

Ah yes, sometimes it just takes a slow drive, a few weeks of madness, and a true love to rock a lady to her core.

Sometimes all it takes is, having a long, slow meal outdoors with some great wine, the delightful company of your lover,  tossing our worries to the wind, and taking in the world just as it is, no more and no less.

Here’s to dining Alfresco and always finding a soft shady spot to land.

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Seeing & Knowing; Why We Write

breaking your heartThere have been very few moments in my life when someone has looked me in the eye, and I know that they know exactly how I’m feeling in a moment of despair. Seeing and knowing in the spiritual sense is powerful for the object of that seeing and knowing.

I had one of those moments recently. It was powerful, brought me to my knees, and made me realize that no matter how much I have overcome, that I’m still human, vulnerable and need, just as much as anyone else,  to feel like someone, somewhere has my back.

Memories come quickly sometimes from places in my past that I thought had long ago been dozed, graded re-forested and landscaped in a fabulously bohemian way.

Lately it’s been a grand parade across a never-ending stage instead of a dreamy oceanside stroll. Images, words, and scents evoke my white-blonde-pig-tailed, tear-streaked-cheek childhood as I stir dinner at the stove, rinse my face at the bathroom sink, and even pour a beer after a long day.

My story is being played out again even though I didn’t clap for the encore, and I’m rewriting it all in my head as I’m held hostage to it all.

For the folks out there who have not had the pleasure of experiencing crisis, trauma or what it’s like getting by one day to the next without knowing when it will ever end, trust me, it’s a wild ride darlings.

Wild as in it is a teacher of the most grand kind who takes you through a crash course on self-awareness while you’re still not quite awake to the world and barely dressed. It can make you tough, and it can make you so damn tired that all you have the energy to hope for is to feel numb. It can harden you so you lack empathy or compassion, or it can rip open your heart so you bleed life and love and kindness all over your world.

As a writers we can write out our suffering in the lives of our characters. We can re-write those sights, scents and sounds that evoke so many memories and what-if’s.  The brilliant part is that we are able to create something which expresses the bittersweetness of life out of something dark and painful. Laughter usually follows deep and cool on the heels of human folly.

But it takes guts to go there. It takes time, space, and friends who tolerate the depth of crazy that it takes to keep diving into and crawling out of our character’s heads. Because they’re our  pretty little heads, our jumbled thoughts, our answer’s to all of the what-if’s that have ever kept anyone awake at night.

Going back to where I started with this post, when my friend looked me in the eye and I knew that they knew what I was going through, it was the closest I came to feeling like it was ok to sink into my characters and writing like slipping into a deep, warm bath.

I knew that I had to do something or I would drown in this endless ocean of memory. Please toss me a pool noodle and whip me up a gin and tonic. This is going to take some time, and I’ve worked up quite a thirst.

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A Good Excuse for Ladies Who Lunch

clunyFrom the beginning of time human beings have gathered around food; hunted, gathered and prepared as a community while sharing stories, passing down wisdom, and nurturing the divine within each person.

Food then, is not just nutritional sustenance, it is a tangible vehicle through which we come to know and care for one another.

Our lives have become so busy that the cultivation, preparation and intake of food has been condensed to a faceless speaker and drive-thru window. Not good.

I work too much. I rush too much. I eat too much pre-packaged, prepared, processed food, and it makes me sad.

For the “Ladies Who Lunch”,  it’s been ten years, maybe twelve. We’re not really quite sure, and we don’t really care darlings.  What we know is that every year we can count on Summerlicious and Winterlicious to encourage a ‘Ladies Who Lunch’ afternoon of catching up with one another over a slow, delicious meal.

You see, sometimes a gal just has to get together with her pack of women. You know, the intelligent, beautiful gals who raise her up when she can barely lift her own head and who raise a glass to her every success, even if that success is just making it through the day without flipping the bird with her well-manicured hands.

We take time out of our busy lives to connect  with other intelligent, compassionate and kind women who know the same joy, pain, frustration and daily triumphs that women feel deep down in their bones.

Lately I’ve been neglecting moi. Yes, I’ve been time-starved. It’s made the-little-old-laid-back-lush that is yours truly, anxious and neurotic. The freak show that is currently performing in the three-ringed circus of my mind is a shit-show of the most grand order, requiring pharmaceuticals, but settling for the odd gin and tonic after a long day of being held hostage by the nine-to-five grind.

Summerlicious with the girls is something which requires planning, research, multiple telephone calls, and always last-minute-begging to change reservation numbers and times. It’s the event-planning equivalent of herding horny cats during a midnight rainstorm. But we’re fabulous cats, and it’s always worth the effort. Besides, it’s a wonderful opportunity to practice patience and not-being-attached to outcome.

Given my state of mind this year, I was pretty sure that I was going to forgo the event unless someone else picked up the ball and organized the event. Alas, I decided at the last-minute to create the event in the most simple way possible. Choose the venue, make a reservation for six, and go forward. Usually I take requests for locations on a first-come-first-to-be-called basis, and then dial a zillion numbers until I find a place which will take a Saturday Summerlicious reservation for a dozen or so. Not easy.

We started with a reservation for six and ended up with eleven ladies at our table. Cluny Bistro was more than gracious accommodating our group (We will all be back, and appreciate your patience). Some arrived early, some arrived late, but in the end, we all managed to take a few hours out of our busy lives to connect and share that face-to-face interaction that I’ve been so starved for, for so long.

Lunch with the ladies is something we say we’re going to do, but never get around to doing it. One of my friends and I have been planning lunch together, and had to think back almost four months since our last visit. Four months is pretty darn good. This year I’ve had multiple reminders that taking time to spend with friends who nurture me is something I’ve neglected for far too long. Months turn into years, and years and years…

Summerlicious may be a marketing ploy to open our wallets and spend more money, but we’ve used it as the excuse we need to come together, try a new restaurant and remind ourselves that our friendships matter, that we do not need to exist as solitary, stone angels who do it all.