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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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.

 

 

 

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.

 

The Perfect Gift for Her

You can never find the perfect gift when you’re looking for it. Never.

That’s why I hate Christmas shopping so very much. I hate feeling like I have to buy something for someone.  I prefer to see something that makes me think of that someone special and snatch it up.

Alas, no one is perfect, not even me, and we’re smack dab in the middle of the busiest shopping season of the year. Yikers.

I’ve personally never been told that I’m hard to buy for, but I’ve heard the cry from my friends, their spouses, and the singles among us who are inspired to use the romantic leverage of this time of year to spring something wonderful on their true-love.

I don’t pretend to know the love of your life, but I can tell you this; women, unless you know them extremely well (and if you did, you likely wouldn’t need to read this) all enjoy similar things.

Never forget that just spending time with you is what makes  her truly happy.

If you feel bound to buy a gift, unless it’s gawd-awful or an engagement ring, with jewellery, you really can’t go wrong. White gold, yellow gold, whatever gold. Diamonds? Meh. That may not be the message you wish to send. How about sapphires, rubies or emeralds? And remember, the strength of the stone represents the strength of you love for her. If you’re not thinking of taking the relationship to the next level, do not buy jewellery.

unstoppable

 

 

Perfume. Know what she wears, or what she likes to wear, and splurge on her favourite scent. Most perfumeries offer sets at this time of year, and we love them. What could be better than travelling with a miniature vanity stocked with your favourite frangrance?

elie saab

 

 

If you’re just not really that serious, but you feel like you should buy her something, try alcohol. Chances are she knows you’re also not the one, and could use a little liquid therapy. Buy her something bubbly and delightful.

les etoiles

 

 

If she loves her spa time, give her a generous gift-certificate to her favourite escape. Always, always, always accompany this with something soft and snuggly like a teddy bear or a stuffed reindeer. Silly can be cute. A stark envelope cannot.

blitz.jpg

 

A weekend away. If you can both manage this one during the holiday season, I tip my hat to you. Giving of your time is often the most coveted and most difficult gift to give.  Make it romantic. Bring champers, roses, candles, and a be well rested so you can….well, you know…

room

 

Of course a beautiful bouquet at any time will let her know that you’re thinking of her…

peony

 

These are all terrific Christmas ideas, but what every woman really wants is just to spend time with her sweetie.

Stay tuned for Being Jolly on a Budget….’cause that’s how you’ll win and keep her heart.

HO-HO-HO!!!

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

andrewnamecard

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

3) Purchasing 12 bottles of wine directly from said wineries

bottlesofwine

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

fireplacesmores