T’was A Day for Decorating & Digestive Discontent

giant red ballsI never get to sleep in. Anymore.

No, I do not have an infant at home. No, I do not work three jobs. I have however, committed myself to a…morning person.

A morning person who just so happens to be away  golfing in the sunny south during my traditional Christmas-kick-off weekend.

At first you’d think I’d be jealous, what with being left all alone for our first real snow fall.  Alas, that is NOT the case.  After having spent the past three months adjusting to  mid-life empty nesting and newly cohibitating bliss, I am gloriously, and might I say well-restedly (let’s just pretend that’s a word shall we – don’t kill my vibe) alone. Ahhh…..

I have been able to sleep in, deck the halls for the holidays, and even took my time shopping yesterday without a grown man whining that he had to get home to watch football.

I had one of those focussed days yesterday. After checking the Michael’s coupons for the day, I thought I’d start early and do my shopping before I came home to tights, a Christmas sweatshirt, my snoozies skinnies and my hair pulled back like a ninja fighter.

I made breakfast, had a coffee and hit the road. I planned a route to a lesser populated area to the north, and listened to a head banging, Chris Botti Christmas jam.

I shopped until I reminded myself of my own mother. Wandering around the same aisles, examining every garland and piece of kitsch until I’m sure one of the salespeople thought that I was out on some kind of psychiatric day pass.

My cart was loaded with 6 strings of bushy evergreen garland, a giant “Meet Me Under The Mistletoe” pillow and various other bits and bobs that I had just the right place for. Oh yah, and my Michael’s 60% off coupon was ready on my app.

At that point, I realized that I was starving. But even more than that, I was in need of giant red balls….for the tree.

Just one more stop and I’d be on my way home. By this time I was really hungry.

Just a quick run in, I decided, and I would treat myself to my favourite fast-food no-no. My quick trip turned into another hour of picking through stocking stuffers, Christmas scented soaps, and big balls…

By the time I paid, I was s-t-a-r-v-i-n-g and thirsty! You know the shopping-mall thirst I’m talking about don’t you ladies? That parched-I’ve-been-hijacked-in-the-retail-dessert-for-way-too-long-I-gotta-have-some-water-or-I’ll-disintegrate-kind-of-thirst.

Hitting a blood-sugar low I muscled my way to my car, guzzled a half liter of water, and got to my fast-food-sin-spot asap. I ate in the car like a ravenous Christmas elf, and polished it all off with a vanilla milkshake.

Now here’s something you don’t know about me…fake ice cream makes my digestive system revolt. In a BIG way, and fast. It was only a fifteen minute drive home, so I wasn’t panicked. What I was, for about a whole five minutes, was sated, and giddy about going home to prepare for the holidays.

And then it happened. My forty-something-year-old-digestive-system said, “Hold up girl! This is not right.”

The half liter of water met the fake-dairy-milkshake at the threshold of my pyloric valve and all hell broke loose.

Two-wheeling it around corners in my 40km neighbourhood, I raced to the garage, only to remember that I’d left the automatic opener on the kitchen table. I jumped out and frantically keyed in the magic code, while skipping around pinching my butt cheeks together.  I backed the care in so fast that I almost backed right through the rear wall. Juggling bags with garland poking out everywhere, and a large sack of kitty litter, I fumbled for my keys.

My neighbour appeared on queue as all neighbours do – at the worst time ever –  on his back deck waving and wanting to chat. All I could do is grimace, try to raise a hand weighted down with in a semi-civilized wave, and slam the door behind me.

No more vanilla quasi-dairy-milk shakes for this woman.

It took me until the Women’s Network Christmas flick came on at 9pm to finish up. I strung lights on the garland for the staircase, the front porch, and decorated the tree. I unpacked the boxes of miscellaneous decorations that grace smaller spaces, and put up the vintage Christmas village. I washed couch cushions and nested like I haven’t nested in a long time.

motherfucker

Don’t get me wrong. at about 5 p.m. I was ready shove the picky, twisty, clingy garland up someone’s ass, not to mention the tangle of 400 lights I was dealing with. There’s a reason people leave me alone to decorate. It’s a marathon of patience, but it’s totally worth it.

Home is a sacred, special place for me. It represents safety and security for myself and my child (ok, so he’s a man-child now, but all mothers know your children are always your babies). Anyone who messes with the safety and sanctity of my home should prepare to deal with the wrath of a woman like me.

Our home is now ready to welcome you for the holidays. I know, I know, it’s not about the decorations or the gifts, but I do love decking our halls to create that feeling of sacred welcome that is too often missing in our busy lives.

I’m already excited to know that my kiddo is almost ready to come home for his Christmas break. I’m eager to cozy up by the tree with friends and family for some precious down-time.  That’s what Christmas is all about. Failte.

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Friendship:Urine My Good Books

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Tonight I had to laugh as I dogged my way through backed up email.

The first email I opened was from a friend encouraging me to drink my own urine.

No, I did not freak out or wretch.

I laughed. Out loud. And it was a most welcome sound.  I could laugh because anyone who didn’t know us would think she was crazy, and that I was too. But that’s their problem, and their brand of crazy.

I haven’t done a lot of laughing of late, and having a friend who can talk about drinking pee makes me smile – laugh even.

I’m not going to get into the whole pee-as-a-beverage conversation, but let me just say this; she’s not crazy. She’s my friend.

That email (and the prior conversation we had about the entire process), reminded me of just how lucky we are to have friends with whom we can share our brand of crazy with. It is a wild and crazy life after all, and I think that’s easy to forget.

“I haven’t been myself lately,” was something that I said to a colleague today as we sorted out Chinese undies (don’t ask). I think that might have been the grossest understatement I’ve made in a while. Truth be told, I haven’t been jolly-old-over-the-top-flamboyant-self in a while, and hell, I MISS her!

My friends are grand reminders of who I am, how far I’ve come, the hope and the silliness still left in the world.

Just this week alone, I have been given all kinds of wonderful advice: drink your own pee, quit your job, have an affair, call in sick…

What would we do without our friends?  You see, it’s not about taking or giving advice. It’s about being caring enough to want to know how someone is feeling,  curious enough to look at alternative ways of being in the world and courageous enough to live out our choices.

As I plucked through my email, I came across a little email from ‘the crazy cat lady’ who used to be my neighbour,  I had a copied and pasted message from one of my friends’ lovers ( a seriously well-written love letter…swoon), and an invitation to some sort of kitchen party. I had a reminder about a dinner a friend planned for me knowing my love of all things bourbon and spicy. I also had bills, a library pick-up notice, and a reminder about my e-signature on a contract.

As I muddle through the darkness of ‘not quite being myself’, emails about urine as medicine, torrid love affairs and kitchen-knick-knacks I don’t-need-but-want are most welcome reminders that these seemingly frivolous distractions are the substance of life, not just unnecessary distractions.

Sending out my gratitude for my crazy, lovely, ever-so-wonderful friends…xo

 

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;

Random Thoughts on This Mild December Night

elfonshelfRandom thoughts from a relaxed mind;

  1. It makes me sad that sarcasm has replaced wit and intelligence. It’s a cheap and pathetic substitute.
  2. The Christmas spirit may not be strong this year, but I have much to be thankful for every day. Maybe that’s why I don’t feel Christmasy. I’m just happier than I was ten years ago, so the gap between every day and ‘Christmas-spirit’ is practically non-existent.
  3. Despite having had a run-in with a sociopathic, fraudulent twat of a man this year, I still do, really love men.
  4. Champagne is going to replace bourbon for a while.
  5. Dating in my 40’s is more fun than it’s ever been because I’m way happier with who I am.
  6. I want a red sweater.
  7. An 80’s themed hairdo might be in order for my boxing day date.
  8. It’s been too long since I went on a Saturday night bender and kicked someone out at 3 a.m.
  9. Professional waxing is worth every, single, penny.
  10. Nice still wins in my book over hot, sarcastic and mean.

Dear Starbucks,

starbucks2015This letter has been coming for a long time. An event this weekend encouraged me to reach out to you, my beloved.

First of all, let me say that I adore you.

I love everything about you. I love your dark wooden décor, and your comfy leather chairs. I love your hipster music, and the red cups and aprons you’ve brought to us for  the winter holiday season.

I love that you are a relaxed place for dates, getting together with the girls, and allow writers like myself to occupy a table for an hour or two with just enough stimulation to feel like we’re not crazy, isolated artists.

As a self-proclaimed city girl, I am convinced that I could not survive winter without your eggnog lattes and cranberry bliss bars. Simply put, you are one of the simple pleasures in my life. I love you.

I love you so much that I must share with you a little suggestion regarding your tea. You see, as much as I live for your coffee, I also adore your tea. Youthberry is my favourite followed closely by Peach Tranquility. Your tea is often my most reliable counselor during times of self-doubt and rejection. It is however rather hazardous to drink. if I’m not enjoying the ambiance in-house, I’m likely enjoying your beverages and nummies on-the-go.

Which brings me to the tea. Yesterday, the cute, little, paper tab attached to the string on the bag was tucked directly under the little sippy hole. I’d gone through one of your drive-thrus prior to getting on a very busy highway for a roadtrip. Did you know that the cottons string wicks the moisture from the tea, soaks the little paper tab, causing it to drip down the side of the cup? Perhaps you didn’t. Well, it does, and it gets kinda messy.

Whilst trying very hard not to get wet from the drippy tab yesterday, the lid of the venti cup popped off as the paper cup folded, and splashed boiling hot tea all over my hand, my lap, and inadvertently, the steering wheel.  Fortunately I had a co-pilot with quick hands and a lovely sense of humour.

We managed with giggles no-less, (while still in 120 km+, four lane traffic) to wipe the steering wheel and wedge all of the serviettes I had prudently stashed in the glove box under my soaking wet derriere. I managed to drive to the nearest service centre, all the while holding my plump rump up off the seat, kind of like holding a 120 km an hour squat  for ten minutes.

My pinky finger was burned, as was my pride, but it could have been worse had I not been an old experienced driver. A precautionary word to drivers – you may wish to order two beverages instead of a venti.

My darling, precious, true-love coffee-house Starbucks, my suggestion to you is two-fold; please fix the tea bag wicking problem, and think of a way to make your venti cup design less tippy, less likely to collapse, and still hold all of the nummy-nom-nom goodness that your beverages are known for.

Please know that I relate my tale of warm-woe to you so that you can simply become more awesome.

Your most devoted fan,

Andshelaughs

Hump Day Hilarity: Because Sometimes You Just Need to Lighten Up & Laugh

The Swedish Chef makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s right up there with King Julien, the other intellectual stimulation I sometimes seek after particularly stressful days.

I send this out with a heart full of love and a wish to hear your laughter ring out amid the crappola that can be the middle of the work-week.

Have fun people, and don’t forget that just because you’re an adult does not mean you can’t be silly.

If Change is as Good as a Rest, I Should be In a Coma

moving forwardSeriously God, universe, or whatever is out there playing with my life. Stop it.

Subtlety has never been my strongest character trait. Nor is gracefulness, although, I believe I have been more studious this year about cultivating grace in my life.

Rigidity, focus and drive are all qualities that I have in abundance.

Maybe that’s what the latest lessons in life have been sent to teach me; relax, let it all just happen, and for the love of all that’s holy, breathe.

Loss has been a theme this year. Yippee, just what every middle-aged woman wants. Loss and more loss.

As a late-night, bourbon-soaked email from a friend reads, “You are nothing if not resilient. It’s a great quality.” It’s hard as hell to cultivate though, and I wonder what price I’ve paid for it, or if I’ve really paid any price at all.

Loss of family, a lover, and now potentially home.

More than anyone else I’ve ever known, I’ve reinvented myself time after time. Earlier this year I decided that should I throw my lot in with the love of my life it would not involve a change of workplace or home. Turns out that was the least of my worries with said gentleman.

Stability doesn’t get the street-cred it deserves. In your 40’s, it’s pretty sexy. Scary too as you realize that it’s taken the place of spontaneity and the potential titillation of surprise.

I’m much more cautious about change than I used to be. In the past, I’ve jumped headlong into change without fear or investigation. I just jumped, giddy for a new experience and the vast potential for what kind of story it would turn into.

So, as I begin to assess the possibility of a move,  I wonder if change would be as good as a rest, or if it would push me over the ever-loving edge of sanity. I wonder if I wonder too much?

so differentJust over a month ago, at the end of a relationship, I read this quote and rolled my eyes thinking, “Nope. Everything is, pathetically, exactly the same.

And then I was offered a new job. Old flames turned old friends reappeared in time to soothe my aching heart, and now the potential change of venue for the place I call home.

Hmmm….

Life does really change like this; unpredictably and always, always, always, faster than we’re comfortable with.

Amish On-Line & Other Absurdities

itsawildworldI do most of my socializing via phone while I’m driving. Hands-free of course.

More and more I’ve been doing less and less talking, and that suits me just fine.

Coming off of an energy-sucking few months, I find most people exhausting and barely tolerable. My overworked bullshit detector has become antiquated, and I’m left to depend on my quick wit and lack of patience. A deadly combination at best.

The conversation I had this morning with one of the few people I find tolerable began with our shared disdain for small-talk, and the necessity for sobriety.

We talked about my latest therapy session, and the ridiculous need to quantify the human experience for the sole requirement of doing business. What a tragedy of ignorance.

As it happens, this therapy session of which we were speaking, ended with the therapist saying a pat congratulations for being so resilient and the required, “Goals have been met”.

What? Goals have been met? Like not raising my own jugular vein and making a tidy incision? Like not overdosing on a sweet bedtime concoction of prescription pharmaceuticals, vintage wine  and over the counter cough syrup? If that’s the case, then, Yay me! Goals met indeed! Someone decant the wine and pass the Nyquil.

Our conversation veered to the more spiritually enlightened, something about taking an on-line course about Quakers. Which, struck me as something akin to Amish On-Line, or AshleyMennoniteMadison.com.

Our world, if you have the right sense of humour, can be wildly interesting and engaging. It can also be anxiety provoking and lonely. It seems that the more empathetic someone is, and the more spiritually engaged, that the more difficult it is to tolerate the thick curtain of bullshit that pervades our public lives.

Two men across from me at a café hold a business meeting so that their review of employee performance (including the employee names) is now public. An annoying bald-headed athlete-wanna-be in tear away pants has a phone conversation on highest volume speaker phone while he waits for what I can only imagine is a coffee beverage as pretentious as himself. A couple get up , leaving a pile of unpurchased and carelessly thumbed through books for someone else to clean up. Pages wrinkled and now wasted, as no one wants to pay full price for a dirty book.

In a world we all share so intimately, I am astounded at the variety of perspectives about what is acceptable, and what makes someone a complete social write-off.  For instance, the gentleman who just  tried unsuccessfully to attend the café washroom with a copy of the Globe & Mail tucked under his arm. He just made haste for the washroom at the back. Note to self: wait until you get home, do not touch the public copy of the newspaper.

As absurd as taking a course about Quaker spirituality on-line may sound, it is no more absurd than the life you can witness around you at any given time. Keep your eyes peeled, your phone on silent, and your sense of humour well-maintained.

Honouring Nuit Blanche: A Writer Upon Waking

morning hairI woke up to find half of the day gone.

If you’re a hardworking, anxiety-addled-type-A-creative-spirit like myself, you know what these days are like. The days when you have been looking forward to. The days you’ve carved out time to just write, or draw, or paint, or contemplate.

You wake working the clock backward; what needs to be done, what do you want to get done, and how much time can you spend on each thing in order to make it happen. Is combing your hair absolutely necessary, and underwear,…really?

Coffee first. Steaming hot, rich, rocket fuel. Ah yes, gimmee some of that lovliness, and back the hell away until I’ve had a few cups.

My hair has more volume and curl than Madonna’s in the 80’s, and I still can’t see properly because I don’t have my glasses on. Sleep is still thickly fogging my vision. Who texted? Who called? Who commented, read, liked……Who cares.

I blink, still unable to see a darn thing. I stumble over my bare feet and a cat toy. More coffee.

12.5

The number of hours of sleep my body required last night.

No phone. No alarm clock,. No cats jumping at the bedroom blinds like lunatic gymnasts. No one to wake me with their snoring.

I needed that.

Time to pack my laptop, my underweared-self, and get the hell out the door before the guilt of must-do’s overwhelm my creativity and desire to write.

All creative folks need that. Protected time, away from anything that pulls at your conscience.

In the spirit of Nuit Blanche, I wish you a perfectly indulgently creative day!

Cat Vomit & Alarm Clocks: A Meditation

buddhist catI love no-alarm-clock days. They make me feel like I’m spoiling myself a little bit.

No-alarm-clock-days are few and far between in this house, and today was no exception. Although, just before my alarm was set to wake me up to the sounds of weekend jazz, the wild-cat we adopted this year began a lovely chorus of guttural vomiting. It’s a good thing he’s so darn cute.

For some reason the cat vomit made me think about some of the people I’d interacted with this week.  Isn’t if strange how our minds work?

Anyway, my unsupervised mind turned to those folks who had spoken or acted unkindly and/or unethically. The needle for arse-holes has been pushed into the red this week.

I began to wonder what on earth made them tick, and then I stopped.

You see, all of the yucky stuff boils down to insecurity, greed, anger, jealousy…which really further reduces to one singular element; fear. Fear must feel exactly like our little wild cat felt this morning – gut-wrenchingly nauseated.

Despite snuggling into my big, soft, duvet covered bed, I couldn’t get back to sleep. Instead, I picked up my Fall 2015 edition of Trycicle magazine which features buddhist perspectives on how to deal with difficult emotions. This quote from Daisy Hernandez’s article, Envidia made me laugh out loud;

It was the second or third night of the workshop, close to midnight, when I sat on the very cold bed in that dorm room in Texas and realized that I hated at least three of my friends and a woman I knew only marginally.

The reason that I thought it was so funny was because I could totally relate.  I’d been that woman, in retreat, alone at midnight in her dorm room. I’d been held captive with my own mind in silence for days at a time within a group of people, who in silence made me think that I was, they were, that we were somehow above feeling anything but blissful-unicorn-joy-and-loving-kindness toward the world.

inthemomentWhen I first started attending longer retreats I had difficulty. By the second full day of silence, my mind was like a heroine addict going through withdrawal, and the sound of anyone shuffling in meditation, or masticating during our silent meals made me want to stealthily creep out of my perfectly-spiritual skin and glue their ass to the mat or cram their vegetarian-tofu eggs down their throat. Needless to say, days three and four got incrementally better.

No one that I know of ever went home in a body bag because they were suffocated by tofu-eggs (tofu eggs by the way, are a sin against nature), nor did anyone have to have their meditation cushion surgically removed from their hiney.

I wish I could say I  was immune to all of the wonderfully difficult emotions that I was mulling over in my early-morning-cat-vomit-addled-mind this morning. I wish I could say I am always kind and angelic, and gentle. I’m not.

I do my best, and yet I still cherish my  fiery Irish-tempered side. It protects my heart and gives me something to hang on to when it gets broken. I believe in balancing light and dark and observing those thoughts. This is one of the most effective, inexpensive, therapeutic techniques to keep us living a meaningful existence.

Sometimes, it’s the cat vomit (fear, anger, jealousy) of life that serves as a meditation bell, bringing us back to our own thoughts, our own space, and our own choosing how we wish to show up in the world every day.

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