Posted in Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living

The Freedom & Joy of Middle Age

lucilleballEurope-bound.

Despite having been ill for over two weeks, running out of sick time, and trying to mother through training camp stresses, I am sitting in a plush, premium lounge waiting to board my flight.

I have layers to keep me warm, prescription inhalers, nasal spray, neo citron and enough green tea in my carry-on to seve a royal court.

There is a freedom about mid-life that I know is precious. And I’m cherishing it darlings. Oh, how I’m cherishing my good fortune. My kiddo who is on the right track, my rather stable career ( despite missing almost a month between being sick and now being away), true friends, and a partner who spoils me when he’s not making me crazy.

In my life I have witnessed women my age fall prey to the pressures of looking and acting like twenty-somethings. I revile that. I have earned every wrinkle, roll and opinion that I have. I’m happy and thankful and also pretty damn impressed with how my life has rolled out.

Your value has never been in your DNA ladies, it is in your heart, how you carry yourself every day out into the world and love.

Do not let the invisibility that comes with loss of youth for women make you shrink and shrivel. Shine brightly from your wealth of experience and knowledge, and always, always, always, say yes to the glass of wine.

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Classic Style – Keep it Classic

but you said
“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.” ~Jane Austen~

What I’ve recently recognized about the world that we live in is that it lacks imagination. For all of the nouveau trends in food and dress, ‘retro’ is a rather civilized way of making lack of imagination seem trendy.

Style is an easy example. Ankel length, full length, wide leg, narrow leg, graphic prings, stripes, florals…it’s all been done before.  Other than (thank God) changes in more practical fabric, it’s really not that different.

And then there’s food. One of my pet peeves. At a summer luncheon, I was served a house-named caesar salad. It boasted a poached egg atop a large disk of crispy parmesean which required explanation and directions with regard to how to actually eat the damn thing.

Let me be clear. This was NOT a caesar salad. The taste was similar, but it was not a caesar. It was delicious and did not disappoint my senses. The establishment could have at least given this wonderful creation the credit it deserved and called it something unique. As for the waldorf salad in a current epicurian rag-mag, it is not a waldorf salad. A waldorf salad has a specific dressing, walnuts, apples and lettuce. Eggs and cheese and pecans do not a fucking waldorf salad make. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, at least come up with an original  name!!!

My ultimate annoyance is the caesar. Gimme some voddy and clamato. Rim it with celery seed and plop in a celery stick.

When messing with the classic caesar came into vogue over a decade ago, I was sitting at Fran’s in Toronto waiting for my date. We were headed to a Bonnie Raitt concert at old Massey Hall, and I was hungry. A great drink to order prior to a meal (when you’re freaking starving) is a caesar. It’s ok to have a cocktail while you’re waiting, but not so much a meal, and a caesar is pretty much an appetizer in a glass.

So I ordered my caesar and people watched. Enter the spicy bean. Like I said, I was hungry. So, I chomped down on the offending bean and almost died choking. I downed my glass of water, my caesar, and had to order another just to stop from choking again. Please no bean this time. Celery if you have it.

Please, do not garnish my classic cocktails with pretensious garnish that need to be groomed, pampered, handled with cutlery or introduced and explained.

Cocktail bars and great restaurants need not rely on old names for new, delicious concoctions. They need to get creative.  Don’t sell me either caesar unless it’s true. Do tempt me with new concoctions with new names. Imagination is sexy darling, dreadful surprises are not.

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Worst Case Scenario – Just Take a Nap

free spirit

Recently I had a back-stabbing event. You know, the kind most people finish with in seventh grade?

It got under my skin. At first it upset me, and then I remembered M. Scott Peck’s famous work, People of the Lie.

His work was my first exposure to understanding the age old question, “What the hell is wrong with you?!” The sad truth is that some people cannot accept joy or joyful people. They are suspicious of anyone who isn’t as miserable as them. Darkness always seeks to extinguish the light, and to that I say; shine brightly darlings, don’t pay any attention to the banshees scratching at your back. Carry on and blind them with your dazzling spirit.

I’m too old and lazy for retribution. Besides that, being bitchy is bad for my middle-aged complexion. I’m on the other side of the hill of time now, and I want to enjoy it.

Long ago I decided that when someone was cruel to me, I would not let them win. By win, I mean I would not fall into the trap of doing anything harmful to myself; binge drinking or eating, negative self talk, or not doing something I was looking forward to.

riverIt’s been a great philosophy for me. Often I accomplish a lot of wonderful things when I’m pissed off. Creativity gives me the opportunity to birth something fun and new. Creativity is truly a slap in the face to any demons that hunt us down when we’re vulnerable.

During my quiet time, I have made things, and written things, and tended to my garden. I reclaimed the magic in abandoned ideas. I lived fully and completely in-spite-of,  and sure enough, it has turned into joyful abandon.

Keep writing my darlings. Keep painting and drawing and stitching and singing and dancing and making the world a happy place.  And if you’re just too tired of the bullshit, take a good, long, nap.

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Raising the Veil: When You Meet Her Again

veiled womanI am nothing if not a sensual woman.

I love to taste, touch, smell and enjoy what life has to offer. I like to let the beauty of art, food, sex and the great outdoors seep deep into my bones like water finds the most tiny of cracks and flows inward. A beautiful soul is the reflection of this sensuality, and I want to be effing gorgeous well into my senior years.

But I need to remember that, and honour it.

It’s pretty much mid-August, and we are in the true dog-days of summer. It’s that time of year when you hear so many people saying, “Where did the summer go?”

This will be followed in the fall with the same question about the whole of 2018.  If you’re not careful, this will become the melody of your life-song. A recurring durge of regret.

At the beginning of this year, I made some resolutions for myself, and I’ve ticked off every single box. Since then, some other issues have come to my attention that I need to nurture and breathe life back into.

Friendships of all shapes and sizes come to mind. Friendships, I truly believe, are the living breathing entities that keep us thriving. We should all have hobbies and passions and interests, but for me, it is the company we keep while enjoying these things that makes them memorable and meaningful.

So many women blame their families for taking away their joy, using up their time, and basically social norms and expectations of the female role for hypnotizing them into some kind of being who forgets how to experience joy and ecstasy.

I want to propose a different perspective.

It is only now, a year after my child first moved out, that I am coming to realize how trapped I was in my own mind. How I simply became attached to all that I thought I was supposed to be doing. Days, weeks and months were swallowed up tidying other peoples messes and making sure that there wasn’t a crumb on the counter. It’s like ripping off a bandage when you give in to your own pursuits and desires.

It may feel frightening to acknowledge the creative, sensual woman you have hidden behind a veil all of these years.

When you finally reveal her to yourself, you won’t be able to stop from taking her in the joyful embrace of reunion. You will feast, and you will experience the entire world again with a fresh perspective. Fear will sulk out the door and take a nap so that the wild joy of your passion can dance.

Posted in Andshelaughs, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Purpose & Payday – Your Monday Meditation

purpose

Purpose. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, like ‘badass’ and ‘tribe’. I judge people when they level up one notch on the  organically- crafted-hipster-ladder by using this kind of catch-phrase.

I figured out my purpose a long time ago, but it wasn’t until I thought about purpose that I could put it into a fifteen second elevator speech. But let’s face it, fifteen second elevator speeches are for salespeople, not purpose driven folks. I was just thankful that at over 40 years old, I’d been intentional enough to realize what my purpose was.

Purpose is what sustains us, whether we’re aware of it or not.

So here’s a little story from my day at the local holistic healing fair about purpose;

“You’re completely done.” She looked me dead in the eye when she said it. “Just finished with all of it.”

I nodded.

faery magicThree decks of cards later (Faerie, Archangel Michael, Angel) it was confirmed by the powers that be that I was jonesin’ for a complete change of course.

But I already knew those things before I sat down didn’t I? We already know as intuitive beings when what once imbued meaning into our lives has vanished. Validation is nice though, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

I wandered down a few more aisles at this holistic healing show, and bumped into a soap maker. Not just any soapmaker, but Momtaz, a third-generation soap maker.

Third-effing-generation…let that sink in.

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I spent some time (and money) at her booth, and casually asked about her Aleppo soap.  She informed me that it is the oldest soap recipe in the world. She was passionate about her work, she told me all about the properties of the soap, how you could use it on babies with extreme eczema and fragile skin. She was so happy that I was interested in what she was doing that she gifted me a bar, and in turn, I promised her that I would share it with someone who might need it. That’s purpose.

I made my way methodically through the rows of booths. I admired how these (mostly) women were making their purpose pay.

Until now, I’ve been injecting my purpose into every day life. I thought that was satisfying enough, but more and more I’m feeling like it’s not. My job pays, but my purpose only gets to sneak a peak once in a while in the shadow of my career.

Back to the lady who made twenty bucks reading my cards. She was retired from a job similar in nature to my own. She could relate to how bone-tired I am from caring for other people. The twenty dollars she charged was  a small price to pay to be reminded of what I already know I’m meant to be doing.

Whether it ‘s the holistic approach like I tend to take, or the professional approach a la Mike Drak, investing in what we love to do can reap financial rewards later in life.

For many of us, our purpose will have to be injected into our daily grind. And our daily grind will have to include significant time to work on projects that develop our purpose. And this is what will sustain us now, and in the future.

 

Posted in Art of LIving, Food, Food and Wine, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Society, Soul Food, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Farmer’s Markets: Hipster Paradise or Community Refuge?

Twelve dollar nut-milk and dairy-free cheese. Fermented cabbage, kombucha everything and an old shipping container decked out with an energy guzzling refrigerator stocked with locally made craft booze.

It’s a hipster haven, and on the surface, it’s annoying ‘AF’ (as my child’s generation would call it).

It’s the farmer’s market at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. A man-made ‘natural’ oasis in the middle of the city.  The Saturday morning farmer’s market is well-curated, and the food court is pretty damn tempting.

To be quite honest, this market had me at Monforte Dairy and Hinterland Wine.

A country girl at heart, I yearn for my connection to the earth. After all these years, I have to admit, that I can come across as a city girl too, and maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to the bucolic civility of a rustic market just off seconds from the Don Valley Parkway.

Rural life tethers us with  invisible thread, connecting us to seasons, the earth, and the natural order of things. There is comfort in that.  I believe it’s the main reason why, even here in the city, where many children and adults  don’t know how to plant a seed or cultivate a garden or preserve food, that every walk of life  flocks to farmer’s markets.

As pretentious as  all downtown markets seem, they’re a sight better than our lives here in a city where anonymity is sweet, but the bitterness of a community lacking heart overpowers that sweetness. Markets are a small gesture of humanity within the  momentum  of the economic machine that is our lifestyle.

Our food sources connect us to the natural cycles of life, and to the intimate relationship that we have with our physical bodies. Food – the great equalizer. We break bread together as a symbol of opening our minds, hearts and homes to those whom we gather with.

Feeling some connection to that food is life-affirming and spiritual nutrition. Even if it just means it didn’t travel across borders to get here, and we received it from the same hand that harvested it.

If you have yet to make your way to your local farmer’s market this year, I encourage you to do just that. I reminds you where we are within the seasons, the community, and the planet as a whole.

Posted in Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Perspective, Seasons, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

My Summer Fling

plum pitEvery summer I have a fling.

The romance starts in the spring. The seduction of the sun after long, dark winter nights always pulls me away from the cozy hibernation of the indoors.  My clothing gets lighter, I show more skin, and turn my back to anything that pulls me away from the fullness of his attention.

The house becomes a forgotten locker room.  I bathe, change, and sleep inside, feeling that each moment is wasted away from the splendid beauty of the summer.  Spending time away from the fresh air and wildness of summer pains me. My patio becomes the breakfast nook, living room and dining room.  I lose track of time, and weekends blur into the workweek, each sunny morning a painful reminder that at some point I have to steal myself away from the embrace of my May-September lover, interact with other people and for-god’s-sake-put-on-some-decent-clothes.

Increasingly nostalgia blossoms into a familiar yearning for the type of countryside wildness into which I was born. A sensuality city-folk only ever glimpse but never fully appreciate; picking wild raspberries by the roadside, climbing ancient, gnarled mulberry trees to acquire enough fruit to bake something delicious, finding wild strawberries in the grass, and falling asleep with the window open in the dark nights that the city can never know.

My home turns into a bit of a museum in the summertime. Even though autumn is a time of slow decay, it has always signaled a fresh start. A renewal of routine and return to the warmth of home. And so endeth my summertime affair every year. Slowly I come back to preserving the harvest,  decluttering all that was dropped and forgotten as the sun seduced the household outdoors.

Summer affairs allow you to sip the sweet, sweet, nectar from the cup of life, but there is something to be said to waiving good-bye and coming back home.