Sports Moms – When It’s Your Turn to Be Inspired

football benchAbout two weeks ago I was brought to my knees by sharp pain and then was overcome with panic.

I thought I had a heart attack.

A little thick around the middle, and always in the kitchen, I made a quick decision to become more active. Not running-marathons-and-and-eating-kelp-sandwiches-active, but more active.

Flashback a billion years to all of the summers, winters, springs and falls that I sat on the sidelines cheering on my athletically gifted kiddo. I drank a lot of tea from drive-thru windows and kept the company of other parents doing the very same thing.  As he ran and played, I was plopped in a lawnchair, making sure that when he looked up, Mom was there. I also spent a lot of time in the kitchen, cooking at 11pm after late baseball games so he went to bed with a full tummy. So my  butt got a little chunky.

I have been all of the following; a baseball mom, a football mom, a cricket mom, a basketball mom, a curling mom, a badminton mom and  a did-you-do-your-homework-mom.

During the past two weeks, I have developed a greater appreciation of my child’s experience during his childhood of sporting.  How much did my presence feel like pushing? How much did it feel like support? I guess I’ll never really know.  What I always hoped was that he was doing something he loved, that made him feel good, and made him feel proud of himself. I wanted my boy to have confidence.

What I do know is that pushing through the discomfort of new levels of physical movement takes some grit. Trust me, I’ve had to have grit a’plenty during my lifetime, but it’s been a mental grit. A determination to get through one day at a time. Physical grit, not so much.

My body has always had a comfortable ease about it. I was built for hugging, cuddling, and lounging during long, philosophical conversations about religion, politics and gender equality issues.   Wine adores my body. So does chocolate, champagne and puff pastry.

So I’m swinging a golf club for the first time, and running my ass off, and sweating. Like a man. It’s not pretty, and parts of me actually hurt.

I can’t help but think of my son. I think of how hard he as worked to accomplish the things that he has. He’s on a national sports team, plays a bahzillion sports, and maintains his grades, and also puts up with a rather flamboyant mamma.

My old bones ache in places where I forgot it could possibly hurt in the first place, and it reminds me of how hard my son has worked and what strength and grace he’s had to develop in order to accomplish  it all.

Running at my little gym, I have an extraordinary view of a public play-space and just beyond that a beautiful lake in the middle of our bustling city. I watch parents come out and play with their kids, some of them shooting baskets, and others, likely tired single-moms like I was, sitting in a chair and keeping an eye on their kids as they play.

portable locker roomI want to go out there and tell those weary parents that it’s all worth it; that team sports and athletics are worth every early morning, every weekend taken up with tournaments, and all of the leaving early and working overtime that has to happen to make it work.  Not because it just keeps their bodies healthy, but because it develops character and forms strong bonds of friendship. I want to tell those parents that gaining an extra ten or twenty pounds is not the end of the world. Missing your kids’ childhood is.

So, this afternoon, when what I really want to do is nap with the cat. I will likely be running my little 30 minute marathon, because my son sets a damn good example and if he can push himself to do it, damn it, so can I.

When you raise an athlete, there comes a turning point where you are no longer their inspiration. Instead, they become yours. It’s a very hard feeling to describe. Pride doesn’t quite cut it, but joy comes close.

 

 

I Need Your Help: Podcasts & My Fat Ass

rsbushesBefore I go on a rant, let me point out that the purpose of this post is to get your feedback…

This morning, on my day off, my precious day off, I woke up early to annoy my kiddo before he set out for school and maybe, just maybe get in a nice walk and some writing.

So, it’s raining, and some big goof ball in a blue shirt just walked all over my daffodil greens while using his  leaf blower. Not only do I subscribe to the theory that the use of the leaf blower is evidence regarding the downfall of civilization (I’m sure Donald Trump has one to shoe away the leftover talcum powder that he spritzes his undies with apres shower).  I also subscribe to the theory that some giant lanscaping a-hole should know enough to not be blaring that ridiculous contraption prior to 9am outside of bedroom windows.

Anyway, with the drizzle and the bad atmosphere at my little writing window, I decided to make my way to the treadmill next door and walk a bit while my laundry was laundering.

Why? Well, because I’ve been unwell and rather inactive lately. Walking is easy exercise, and frankly, I need it.  I’ve done classes, punished my body with hard workouts and long runs, but I just can’t seem to work up the chutzpah to spank myself into fitness submission lately.

I’m more in the mode of loving the goddess. Which means my taste in music has changed. In fact, I want to listen to stories. As a writer, I do believe that we are nothing but the stories we tell ourselves, and that sharing our stories is the spiritual equivalent of excellent nutrition.

Which brings me to my latest fascination; Missing Richard Simmons. It’s a Podcast about the theories surrounding the disappearance of Richard Simmons.

Not only am I fascinated with this story, I’m a big fan of Mr. Simmons. Despite a terrible relationship with my late mother, I fondly remember her telling me to get off my fat, ugly, ass and sweat to the oldies with her. Ah, yes, Richard Simmons.

I’ve listened to TEDtalks and CBC writing podcasts, but there’s something about this one that has me hooked. Maybe it’s the anticipation of an answer about why such a charismatic man decided to duck out.

But I’m almost finished with the series, and I want more really great stories; nothing sinister or dark, just a really, good story and a sincere desire by the storyteller to enhance our lives. With this, I feel like I could walk forever. Fitness could be my bitch.

Please share your podcast suggestions to keep my butt and my heart in shape. Also accepting DVD copies of Sweatin’ To the Oldies. Not kidding.

PS – To GK – give up your argument about massive amounts of leaves, give up the wasted fuel and instead give the neighbour kid thirty bucks and a rake.

 

 

 

It Seemed Like a Good Idea at The Time

tired-womanYou know what I’m talking about don’t you?

Most of my biting-off-more-than-I-can-chew moments come to me after I’ve been relaxing for a while and feel like I have energy to do something extra. Or after a couple of glasses of wine.

What the hell was I thinking? Trying to clean up and clear out with Christmas coming?

I have giant box filled with miniature Christmas village tid-bits beside the couch, and am still finding leftover Hallowe’en confetti every time I go into my bathroom. As much as I love the decorations and lights of Christmas, I’m relieved to have it all come down and the house back in order as soon as possible.

Being festive from Thanksgiving through the new year takes some work. I’ve discovered my pattern though. I get inspired when I feel rested (which is rare), and commit to the projects after work, or on days off, which leaves little time for the stuff that makes my spirit let out a big sigh of relief.

Rounding up ingredients for a new recipe to bake at the end of a long day seemed like a grand idea, you know, something to look forward to. Until the cookies stuck to the pan and the recipe did not turn out like the cute little photo on Pinterest.

During  quite time at work, coming up a big menu to cook on my day off brought me joy. The thought of having the ones I love gathered around the table helped get me through the long 13+ hour day. But a nap is really nice too after long shifts at work and days off spent working around the house.

But declutter I must. Decorate and cook I must. Must? Should? Have to? Yah, kinda sorta. You catch my drift. There’s always that one person in the house who carries the weight of injecting joy into the seasons. That person is me.

Everything festive seems like a good idea at the time, until effort is required. And then it sucks. And then it’s beautiful. At the end of the day the effort it takes to decorate brings me joy. I love nothing more than turning the lights off before bedtime and sitting quietly in the glow of the Christmas tree lights.

I love having a fire burning on cold, wet, rainy and snowy days.

I love having people gathered at my table; the conversation, sense of family, and knowledge that everyone there feels loved.

But in order to do all of these things, I know I need to energize.I must also not forget to spend time alone writing, and playing my ukulele and remembering to enjoy the slowing-down-moments-of -time to myself with nothing on the agenda but whatever the heck I want.

Life moves fast. Be sure to step away for a little while every day to do what makes your spirit soar.

After that, you can curse the Pinterest gods, the untested Facebook recipes, and the tangled Christmas lights that you can’t seem to coax into something beautiful.

 

 

Nasty Woman ; Courage & A Sense of Humour = Freedom

courage-and-freedomLast night my partner informed me that you catch more flies with honey than sugar. I informed him that the time for honey had passed.

I was advocating for my friend’s health care. My friends are my family, and I protect people I love with passion and ferocity when need be. When a man does this he is seen as being a provider and a protector. When a woman does this she’s a bitch, or, as one privileged male recently was quoted as saying; she’s  a “nasty woman”.

Sometimes being a nasty woman is the only way to go in world dominated by a masculine norm.

Women who are intelligent and assertive have to be way more careful about how and what they say in every situation other than a wine-and-yoga-pants night with the girls. Take the recent defeat of Hillary Clinton in her bid to be president of the U.S.A. A woman with experience was vilified more than a misogynist, narcissistic business man who has robbed the nation of millions (if not billions) of dollars by way of evading taxes. But I digress…

We know when it’s time for the vinegar, and most importantly, we think it’s hilarious to watch your gobsmacked reaction to good sense, boundaries and intelligence. Those of us who identify as being anything but masculine are forced to function within the norms of a society based on the concept that male dominance and strength are the only values that everyone should aspire to. Our economy, education and news media are all based on this basic foundation of patriarchy.

Look at Hillary’s pant suits for goodness sake. Do we really have to dress like men to be taken seriously? I don’t give a flying fuck if you’re wearing a chiffon tutu and a smocked blouse, I will respect you if you know what you’re talking about. I will respect you more if you stand up for your rights, have boundaries, and can laugh at it all at the end of the day.

In the midst of my stern advocacy last night, any woman would have had a grin on her face. My mumster laughed this morning when she checked in to see how my pal was doing, sure in her knowledge that I would be successful in getting the care that was necessary.

When my ill pal finally met with her health care provider, she texted me; “Lol! I assumed that was you on the phone.”, I knew that not only would her health care improve, but she would get a chuckle out of it all too.

Being a bitch, nasty woman, or f’ing c@&t are all words that strong, independent women hear every day when it comes to expecting the same respect and treatment as men. Keeping your sense of humour about it is essential.

When a woman pulls someone up on the rug, it’s only because the ‘honey’ that we’re conditioned to communicate with has been denied again. 

Be courageous ladies. We need to care for one another. Above all else, keep laughing in the face of those who don’t understand how wonderful nasty women are.

Idle Chatter: The Mundane that Saves Us

coffeetalkI haven’t been myself lately. Burned out and under the weather as it were, I’ve taken to keeping my own company and dreading anything other than sleep or a hot bath. I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes I feel like I’m at my limit.

 

I’ve been making more of an effort to reach out to my friends. Most of these phone calls and texts look like a casual ‘how are you’, but they are way more than that. I learned long ago that winding conversations often create a safe place to explore what’s going on emotionally . It allows your mind to wrap its limited matter around the vast open parallel universe where our emotions dwell. I have often said that we are nothing, if not the stories we share.

I have long held the belief that you can argue logic, but not emotion; hence the great wars and repeated debates about God-talk and creationism. At some point it comes down to faith, and faith is not logical, faith is emotional. Love is not logical – love is emotional.  Day-to-day functioning is logical. Passion is not logical – passion is emotional, and in my opinion, passion gets things done.

Now don’t get your pants wet. Logic is no greater a reality than emotion. None at all. The goober of it all is that our culture, our world, and everything we base our economy, ethics and livelihoods on assumes that logic has a higher value. It may be so.

It also may be so that our emotions, our subconscious and our intuition are more powerful, more accurate and way more authentic to our spiritual selves than logic. And that, for me at least, holds a hell of a lot of value.

That’s where idle chatter comes in. I’ve been reaching out for conversation, contact and exchange with my friends lately for many reasons; mostly just to try and stay calm and not live in my own head for so long. That shit can make you crazy.

Slow conversation that meanders through a garden of subjects often is the best conversation. It connects us with others, and it reacquaints us with our own thoughts, values and priorities.

If you have friends who can carry a conversation about life, art, faith, politics and relationships, count yourself very lucky. These are the people who buoy us up when it feels like we’re drowning in the tumultuous sea of every-day demands.

Allow space and time for symposiumesque conversations, I believe this helps heal all of us.

 

 

 

A Father’s Day Meditation

coffeemorningToday is the day that we celebrate Dads. Fathers, step-dads, adoptive dads, and for some of us, those men who became mentors and ‘father figures’ to us fatherless sons and daughters.

If you have a father who loves you, mentors you, and is an example of kindness, goodness and integrity, I hope that you celebrate him well today.

If you have a father who, provided mentoring in a much more zen-monk-beating-you-with-a-stick kinda way. Raise a glass. Yes, I’m being deadly serious my succulent little tarts.

Maybe having a jackass for a father has made you a better person? Perhaps the experience has inspired you to a deeper spirituality, taught you the wisdom of forgiveness, or just simply clarified how not to be. If not, then you really need to work on yourself darling. Seriously…

Being ‘fatherless’ has been a blessing in disguise. At first there was pain, anger, hatred, and a deep desire to roll my pretty little sleeves up and spew fire and hate his way.  But after awhile, slowly, like a fog lifting, I began to realize just how wonderful my experience has been. I know that being fatherless has opened up a whole new world of goodness and hope.

I have been blessed with a plethora of wonderful men in my life. Really, really great men who are kind, thoughtful, ethical, and a whole lot of fun. These men are all my fathers, and I thank them all this Father’s Day, from the bottom of my fabulous heart!

For all the ‘Dads’ in my life, this is for you;

My Culinary Relationship with Mother Earth – We Be Jammin’

rearviewmirroI remember the year the apple blossoms froze on the trees. It was 2012. We didn’t have fresh Ontario apples that year, and the prices sky-rocketed.

That was also the year I stopped making apple juice.

So what?

Well darlings, I’m a country girl at heart, and a big part of enjoying the seasons is enjoying whatever our harvest yields. A big part of showing love and coming together as friends and family is sharing a meal together.

The lack of apples impacted a generations long tradition of baking apple crisp, apple pie, applesauce and apple juice.While I live within the rushed pace of the city for now, I stay connected to the seasons and to what matters most by enjoying the tradition of preserving. Apples are the end of the summer fruits, and it was a strange feeling knowing that something as stable as our seasons and harvest were being affected by the impact of consumerism (aka global warming). Our harvest seasons are part of the essence of who we are and the organic rhythm of life.

flat of berriesStrawberry season signals for me the start of true summer. Rhubarb is spring. Of course you can’t forget asparagus and radishes. With the appearance of little white blossoms and bright, juicy, red fruit, I know that the strawberries cometh and that it’s time to enjoy in abundance what the earth provides, and squirrel away the rest for winter.

Yesterday I took a beautiful drive out into the country, got a flat of strawberries, and came home to make my first batch of jam. Next will be raspberries, and this year there will be beets, peaches, pears, tomatoes, and salsa.

 

 

pouring jamEvery year, I think of my grandmothers and my mother, who carried the tradition and taught me how to do these things.  I remember standing on a stool to stir the jam as it cooked, and when we used to use wax to seal the jars.

I remember hot jam slathered on homemade bread. The smell of granny’s kitchen when she made her chili sauce with the cheesecloth sachet of spices simmering in the pot, and being told countless times to go get another jar of this or that for whatever was on the stove. We used to count the number of jars of jam, tomatoes, beets, etcetera in order to ration them until the summer came again. It was never because we couldn’t afford to go to the store to buy more, it was because we subscribed to the rationale; who the hell would eat a can of fruit or vegetables plied with preservatives and chemicals that tasted second rate at best, when you could eat something that tasted good and wasn’t laden with other goop? It just didn’t make sense. And it still doesn’t to me.

There are few people my age who know how to do these things anymore, and I wonder what they must be missing out on, counting summer by work-weeks instead of by the season; strawberry season, raspberry season, plums, pears, apples, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers…

This might even be the year that I get back to making apple juice. Just the thought of hot cider by the fireplace makes me want to cuddle with someone. During the winter months, there’s nothing like opening a jar of peach jam to remind you that soon, summer will be upon us again. Or maybe it’s a jar of tomatoes for a rich, hearty stew.

jam 1Living in the city for the past 16 years, you’d think I’d prefer the convenience of buying something off the shelf, but I don’t.

I love the slow process of gathering, preparing and preserving my own food, knowing that it’s fresh and wholesome. Knowing that what I’m eating and what I’m sharing with the people I love is the best that I can give them.

Wishing you a bountiful summer, and an extra pair of hands in the kitchen.