Beach Life: Bathing Suits for the Rest of Us

Sennett-Bathing-Beauties-1915_thumbI bought a bathing suit today.

Yes, I know it’s the middle of Canadian winter. No, I haven’t booked a sun-holiday…yet.

I’m debating the merits of an Irish romp with my sweetheart, or a solo beach holiday.

Either way I’m taking a two-piece bathing suit with me that would have made my mother convulse.

You see, I was raised by a woman who suffered extremely low self-esteem and did her best to pass that little nugget of twisted psychology on to her youngest daughter. That’s me by the way.

I grew up in a small town and lived at the beach. Winter, spring, summer and fall. Summer was my favourite. There was nothing better than swimming in the lake all day, the smell of malt vinegar on the homemade French fries that they sold at the little snack shack that would sometimes be lifted off it’s foundation and dragged with the tide when the spring water was high.

Somewhere out there is a photograph of me grinning a grin so wild and wonderful, that I have held that image in my mind for all of these years. It’s a moment of bliss I remind myself I’m capable of, even as an adult.

There I was, white caps at my back,  standing naked, proudly holding my bathing suit at arms length. My waist-long, blonde, pig-tails tangled with lake water and sand, just daring someone to try and get that wet, sticky bathing suit back onto my body.

I may not have been skinny enough, pretty enough, or worried enough about what people thought about what I wore every day. But I was wise enough. Typical of anyone who suffered childhood trauma, I was quiet and very observant. I was constantly tuned in to the tiniest nuance of mood, just in case.

At a very young age, I came to realize that no matter how thin, how pretty, or how well-turned out they were, there were a whole lot of unhappy women out there. And that unhappiness was ugly. Like, soul-deep ugly. Their fear of not being good enough came out as anger and jealousy, and missed trips to fun places. It stopped them from smiling. IT stopped them from going to the beach, getting their hair wet, or smudging their mascara. Their insecurity overshadowed everything. They  let their tummies and their thighs hold them back.

You see, before I even reached puberty I had decided that fat would not keep me from enjoying the beach. Or the snow, or going out to eat a delicious meal. Later on in life, I decided that fat would also not keep me from making wild, passionate love to the man I loved. Some crazy idea of being not good enough would not keep me from having fun.

Being an average looking woman would not keep me from savouring all of the wonderful bits of life, and it certainly did not make me less worthy of healthy curiosity and joy. In fact, I think this joie de vivre is one of the qualities that make many of us beautiful.

I will never be solicited for the cover of Vogue, nor will I turn the heads of men because I’m the ideal beauty. But I will turn the heads of like-minded people. These are the people who buy big, bright bathing suits, get their hair wet, and laugh with every inch of their sun-soaked, skin.

Buy the bathing suit, not because it’s going to turn you into a model. Buy it because it’s a tool in your tickle-trunk of living fully.

 

 

Advertisements

A Night Owl’s Meditation Lesson for Morning People

no wormI’m not a morning person. Unless I’m the first one up when I’m in the great outdoors, marvelling at a sunrise, watching mist rise from a placid lake, and listening to the first call of the loons.

But that rarely happens.

So, I’m basically just not a morning person.

I am a night owl. The still darkness is rich ground to cultivate ideas and search out creative genius.

We all have a delicate balance of extroverted and introverted needs, and as a fence rider on almost every element of the Myers-Briggs assessment, I need as much time alone as I do surrounded by other fascinating human beings.

Morning people often insinuate that I’m wasting the day. They gently suggest that perhaps I’m a tad depressed, lazy, unmotivated, or accomplishing less than my potential. Morning people are wrong.

My very naïve beginnings at meditation have developed throughout the years, and my practice is now something I am aware of every day.

Waking slowly, at my own pace allows me to be quiet with the thoughts that come and go from my mind.

It’s easy to be aware of all of the thoughts that come to mind as your head is on the pillow waiting for sleep to wrap her arms around you. Unless you’re dog-tired, thoughts come fast. You can’t help but be aware of their presence in the quiet darkness of night-time.

Morning thoughts are different. These are the thoughts that come out quietly, like a hungry stray hoping for a leftover morsel. They slink quietly into consciousness and scatter as soon as you turn to thoughts of preparing for the day.

be the awarenessThis morning as I woke,I listened to the heart-breaking howl of the neighbours oft neglected dog.  The irony is that if some of my thoughts were sounds, they would have sounded like that baleful howling.

In the silence of my fluffy duvets, snuggled warm and safe, I had time to reach out and hold each of those thoughts gently, examine them, and then let them go.  At peace with my own self, I felt prepared to face the day, and share it with whatever the world had prepared for me.

My not-a-morning-person mornings are a simple pleasure, and a quality of life indulgence.  I have the peace to let my emotions and thoughts speak their truth, and the time to gently make peace with everything, both good and not so good. This is the value of meditation, practice, and the awareness of personal presence.

 

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.

 

 

 

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!!!

Planning Ahead & Being Prepared

camp coffeeWe plan for everything. Generally speaking we plan ahead for everything that could go wrong.

You know, health insurance, emergency phone numbers programmed into our phones, an extra bottle of bourbon on the back shelf just in case.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve had a life of planning ahead; planning for this, that or the other thing. Sure I’ve planned for holidays, lunches with the ladies or romantic evenings of carnal bliss, but I’ve never had the luxury of planning for something wonderful.

Until now.

And it’s a strange feeling darlings. Strange as in; Yowsa! Holy smokers! I’m so happy I could cry…

When your 40 years of living have taught you that the most wise fallback is a door that only you have the key to, and suddenly you realize that’s changed, well darlings, it can throw even the most guarded of ladies off-balance.

I’m not sure whether to issue the command to fetch mamma her bourbon or break open the champagne from the art deco chaise lounge where my psyche rests in my wee, but very ornate girl-brain.

It’s a man darlings. Yes, it’s a mere flesh and blood man who has me peeking inside a life that has suddenly cracked open, exposing all of the precious treasures of sentiment that have been so well hidden away for so very long.

I do not use the term man lightly my juicy little plums. You see, boys and guys and nicknamed personas have pranced through my life like a summer holiday parade; all dazzling spectacle and curiosity. They’re the kind of people you bring a lawn chair for, and pack up and leave when the band stops playing. no anxiety

Men don’t require you to do that. Men swing wide the doors of a woman’s heart and set up camp.  No worries, no drama, no grand, sweeping gestures. It just happens and it’s good. Just. Like. That.

So here I am with the life that I’ve always hoped for. Job – check. Kiddo responsible and ready to launch – check. Lifetime friendships – check. Man who has set up camp and has the coffee pot on while I get lost in my hair-brained writer’s mind – check.

You can plan all you want for the what-if’s, but I don’t think you can plan when it comes to matters of the heart, and that’s a good thing. A very good thing.