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Nice Matters: A Shout-Out of Gratitude

peonyToday I’ve written a bit about mean, so let’s shake that crappy mojo. I’m going to  write about something more important; nice (aka kindness).

Kindness matters. It’s part of that grace thing that I’ve been trying master for a few years.  We get it right sometimes, and we get it wrong sometimes, but what matters is that we strive to get better at it.

It’s good for us. Just as good as a healthy diet, or eight hours of sleep. Nice makes our bodies happy and our spirits calm.

Lately there has been a lot of nice in my life. My ‘crazy’ family and friends have been generous in their support of my son’s flight from the nest. He as been encouraged, supported, and cheered on. As a mother, there is nothing better than knowing your child is thriving and that they have a solid support network or friends, mentors, coaches and family. Thank you for being nice.

I’m taking a little longer to adjust to the transition. I tear up daily, and am struggling with the transition of being totally dedicated to my kiddo to being totally dedicated, but from a distance. My friends have been kind and gentle and supportive. Thank you for being nice.

I have flooded my social media feed with proud mom moments and not once has anyone told me how annoying it is. Thank you for being nice.

This is a challenging transition year for me, once again wondering where I will live, work and mom from in a year. In advance to my friends and family; thank you for being nice.

 

 

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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.
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Being Jolly on a Budget

Each year I come up with some grand ideas about how to spend time with the ones you hold near and dear without breaking the bank.

I mean really, isn’t that what the holidays are all about? Spending time together is my very favourite gift.

So, this year, I bring you a list of ideas for being jolly on a budget, and I encourage to you to do at least TWO of them.

 

  1. Have a Christmas movie marathon. Define that however you like, but it implies watching more than one movie. It requires that you snuggle under a cozy blanket and sip hot cocoa laced with something that will make you giddy.

snuggle up

If you’re not sure which movies to watch, try one of these;

White Christmas

Holiday Inn

The Holiday

It’s a Wonderful Life

Miracle on 34th Street

2) Wander through a Christmas Market – no purchase required, except for a minimal entrance fee and optional hot cocoa or eggnog. If you go on a cold night, all the better; it’s a great excuse to snuggle your sweetie.

distillery market

3) Attend a local carol sing. Usually the admission cost is a bit of food for a local food bank. What better way to celebrate the true meaning of the season?

Children's Christmas Pageant 2011 + Christmas in Fan Concert

 

4) Have a Christmas themed games night with your closest pals or your family. BYOB and a snack to share. Voila!

twister-4x3

5) Go for a walk on a snowy night. Take in the Christmas decorations and talk about your hopes, dreams, what your favourite traditions are.

windowshopping

6) Bake and decorate a gingerbread house of your own design. Pick out your favourite candy together, make the gingerbread (gingerbread often has to sit overnight before you bake it, so it could be a romantic pj party!), decorate the house just the way you want I to be.

gingerbread house

7) Read your favourite Christmas poems or stories.

robert-frost-the-road-not-taken

8) One of my favourite Christmas traditions is to watch Charlie Brown’s Christmas. It makes me smile, laugh, and remember what the true spirit of the season is really all about.

Wishing you a very happy holiday season that brings you closer to the ones you love.

 

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A Beautiful Messy Life

  

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Being Fully Present and the Wonder of My Awesome Mind

buddha-kiyoshi-nakamuraMeditation training sought as higher education following my graduation from the School-Of-Hard-Knocks seems to have paid off, both for my peace of mind, and my twisted sense of humour.

Grace, patience and discernment have all been qualities that I have had to nurture within myself. I was born a fiery, emotional, passionate, jump-in-with-both-feet kinda gal. Grace, patience and discernment are qualities that I’ve observed in others that I decided would look good on me. Likely a much wiser choice than my candy-apple red alpaca boa. Don’t judge.

So, with the challenge of challenging times, I make great efforts to both feel fully and completely my range of emotions, and balance those with being present. Fully present. As in holding the bridle of my ever-turning imagination of what-if’s and being in the moment.

Last night, as I lay in bed, the room was in complete darkness. Black. There was nothing but myself, and my monkey mind. I was wondering about all sorts of things; my parenting, my job, a deliciously handsome man….

…and then I caught myself. I was not in the moment. I was not still. I was not appreciating the cool air, the cozy sheets or the soft bed in which I was luxuriously stretched out. As soon as I brought my mind back to the present moment, my breath instinctively deepened, slowed, and I was happy. Happy! Happy in the moment.

My gift to you is a list of, Being-In-The-Moment-Moments, that I’ve experience so far this week;

  1. Stopping to smell the flowers (literally), and first being overcome by their beauty (one of my favourite shades of the softest pink), second feeling sad thinking of how long it’s been since someone sent me beautiful roses, and third, thinking funeral flowers come as a poor second behind real flowers while someone is alive.
  2. Observing traffic. Watching a man deeply and thoroughly clean out his left nostril with his index finger buried past the first knuckle, check to see if anyone was looking (he didn’t see me gaping in my rearview mirror), and then continue to analyze what he had mined. He then proceeded with the right nostril.  Hilarious. A good reminder that a firm hand shake may be second best to a curt nod.
  3. Being in a meeting with a person with such high anxiety that my gut reaction was to meet it head on. Instead, I took a deep breath, visualized a cocoon around my body and carried on without having my energy zapped. Why meet crazy when you can let it zip right on past? I hope this person either had a bottle of wine waiting at home or a really good prescription.
  4. Nesting. I tend to nest at back-to-school time. I like to stock the shelves, bake and cook. It feels good to nurture. I also noticed that at this point in my life, I would like someone to reciprocate the nurturing. Note to self; wear your cute smile whenever you go out.
  5. The peace of petting the cat. Seriously. This morning I was doing my regular social-media routine before heading out the door, and my trusted literary advisor hopped up on my desk and pinned his cute, little, pink nose to the window glass. I stroked his back and his purring caused great joy.  Note to self, spend more time with the cat.
  6. Needlework. I know, I know, who woulda thunk it. It’s a productive meditation that calms my nerves. Besides that, it results in really pretty stuff.
  7. The ring, ting, or beep of a cell phone. Conditioned like a dog am I. Ting, ting, harp string ring…yes, I’ll even risk life and limb to pick up the important things. Powering off the darn phone results in having to sign back in to APPs and a rash of ridiculousness, hence, it’s always on. Now, if I could just discipline myself to turn off the damn ringer!
  8. The virulence of mood. It’s amazing how easily a negative, or positive mood can impact those around you. Beware energy vampires, negative Nate’s and Whiney McWhinersons. Ick. Make sure you have a good dose of sappy happy hippies.
  9. Winding down for the night. I’m amazed at how tired I am when I get home from work, and then as the work day wears off how energized I am. That means I’m shocked when it’s midnight and I have to get up in five and a half hours. Hello snooze button and speeding through morning traffic…to everything there is an equal and opposite reaction. My hectic mornings are a direct result of my creative evenings.

Wishing you the peace of presence, the wisdom of discernment, and the ongoing cultivation of grace.

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Grace: Not Just a Popular Name for 8 Year Old Girls

grace-and-imperfectionGrace is a practiced art. It is a quality of character made up of a unique combination of natural poise, and practiced during the most difficult of circumstances.

As it so happens darling, yours truly was born with little grace.

I was launched into the world among a family of women who were either unstable (read; bat-shit cray-cray), or fiery as hell. I thank my lucky stars that my character was forged on the fiery side. Although passion does not ally itself with grace, it is more conducive to being trained to appreciate it.

During my lifetime as a working adult, I have had the privilege of journeying with people through times of crisis. Even though this tends to bring out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. Grace is a quality of character that I aspire to nurture within myself, and admire greatly among those who already have mastered the art of living with grace.gracewater

Being graceful is a cinch when the world is on your side, not so much when you’re experiencing crisis.

Suffering gracefully does not mean suffering in silence. It means suffering openly with those whom you can trust to honour your feelings without question. It also means knowing when to disengage with those whom have not cultivated the same quality of character.

Grace is a beautiful way of being in the world, and I have yet to master it.

With each challenge I recognize the opportunity to practice; to open to the world and accept gracious guidance, or seek shelter from the overwhelming amount of superficial advice and ill-informed opinions.

It has been a challenge for me lately, but I recognize my struggle for what it is, and it’s been a tremendous learning experience.

Wishing you the strength to carry yourself with gracious dignity, and friends who have already laid a path for your journey toward finding the strength to be  kind, gracious and loving.

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