Advice for Women · Andshelaughs · Health · Healthy Living · Jimmy Buffett · Men's Health · Mental Health · Midlife · Opinion · Perspective · Self-Care · Social Commentary · Society · Spiritual Living · Uncategorized · Wellness · women · Women's Issues

Mid-Life Clarity-Did You Work at it Your Whole Life?

hit you with a carThere is little that gifts perspective as much as experience.  And I’ve had experience in spades.

I’m pretty much home-bound with an ill sweetie these days, and have had lots of time to reflect, get frustrated, feel grateful, be sad, be relieved, be worried, and be overwhelmed. In other words, to be human.

Although I was a professional palliative care giver for the best part of a decade, nothing really prepares  you for personal crisis. The stress of organization, paperwork and dealing with an over-burdened health care system has been an eye opener.

What life has prepared me for though is clarity with regard to circumstantial right and wrong, and life is nothing if not circumstantial.

As I was rushing to pick up  a few groceries yesterday, the cashier tossed a bag on top of my groceries, and then began checking out the next person, who was looking sour-faced and in a hurry. When did we give up our expectation as consumers to have some quality interaction with the businesses that we give our money to?  When did every person having a pleasant interaction with someone else become a pain in the ass? Oh, darling, that’s easy, it was when you became an asshole.

Our caring civility has slowly eroded over time Even errands have become unpleasant interactions instead of being instances during the day we exchange kindness with people.  We have all become assholes to some extent, consuming, rushing, and being caught up in the necrotic social ideal that the material trumps relationship.

This is part of mid-life clarity. This is part of holding myself to the standard of living and overall health to which I aspire – happiness.

Making my way out of the parking lot of the store yesterday, traffic was impatient with pedestrians and pedestrians with traffic.  Everyone assumes that they come first. Which reminds me of a classic Jimmy Buffett question,

Were you born an asshole? Or did you work at it your whole life?

I do believe that no one is born an asshole. I also believe that you have to work at it to be extraordinary at it. You also have to work to be kind, compassionate and engaged with humanity. Perhaps choosing unwisely is the collective tragic comedy on the stage of life.

Advertisements
Advice for Men · Advice for Women · Advice for Writers · Aging · Andshelaughs · andshelaughs writing · Anxiety · Anxiety & Depression · Anxiety and Depression · Art of LIving · Artists · At Issue · Break Ups · Break-Ups · Breaking Up · Breathe In Breathe Out · Breathe In Breathe Out Move On · Broken Hearts · Buddhism · Buddhist Philosophy · Buddhist Writers · Canadian Writers · Coffee Talk · columns Dating Advice · Columns Relationship Advice · Comedy · Communication · Communications · Creative Life · Creativity · Dating Advice · Dating Advice for Men · Dating Advice for Women · Dating Advive · Dating Love · Dating Over 40 · Dear Asshole · Depression · Entertainment · Falling In Love · Fearless Living · Fearlessness · Free Thinkers · Freedom of Speech · Friends · Friendship · Girl Stuff · Graceful Living · Guy Stuff · Happiness Project · Having Fun · He Said She Said · Healing · Health · Healthy Living · Human Rights · ideas · insight · Inspiration · jealousy · Jimmy Buffett · Jimmy Buffett Toronto · Joy · Joyful Living · Kindness · Kindness Project · Laughter Therapy · Leadership · Lean In · Lean In Girl Stuff · Learning · Life · Life Lessons · Living · Loneliness · Loss · Love · Love Letters · Love Songs · Lovers · Marriage · Matters of the Heart · Mature Dating · Meaning of Life · Men's Health · Men's Issues · Men's Sexuality · Mens' Issues · Mental Health · Mindful · Mindful Living · New Age · New Feminism · New Year's Eve · Nostalgia · on-line dating · Pema Chodron · Perspective · Philosophy · Psychology · Rants · Relationship Advice · Relationships · Religion and Spirituality · Romance · Romance Dating · Sadness · Singles · Social Anxiety · Social Commentary · Society · Songwriters · Spiritual Living · Spirituality · The Art of Living · Therapy · Uncategorized · Wellness · Whole Living · Women's Issues · Words of Wisdom · Working Women · Writing · Writing Inspiration

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.

 

 

 

Advice · Andshelaughs · Art · Breathe In Breathe Out · Breathe In Breathe Out Move On · Jimmy Buffett · Life · Living · Lyrics · Meaning of Life · Music · Musicians · Philosophy · Poetry

Lady Luck & The Duchess of Doom; Surround yourself with good people

whatwouldjimmydoI bought a cheap watch from a crazy man
Floating down canal
It doesn’t use numbers or moving hands
It always just says now
Now you may be thinking that I was had
But this watch is never wrong
And If I have trouble the warranty said
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

This year I have been host to the Duchess of Doom. Let me re-frame that. The middle part of the sandwich of this year has been a doom filling with bread made of ick.

Lady Luck strikes rarely and very singularly in our lives. The Duchess of Doom seems to visit more frequently and in clusters. In other words, some years just seem full of tough stuff, and others pass with barely a blip on the radar of ‘Eww‘.

I say that because we’re headed into the final quarter of the year, and I’m really hoping it’s less fraught with gunk than May through September. I have a fresh start to look forward to, a new routine, and a fall list which this morning seemed like an impossibility…but one just never knows.

I see a lot of people in crisis every day. I see sad people and angry people, and all of these people carry themselves with at least a smidgen of grace which I respect very deeply.

Usually they look to me for some indication that their suffering is normal, and I validate that and assure them that things that suck come in multiples, and send them on their way.

This too shall pass.

If a hurricane doesn’t leave you dead
It will make you strong
Don’t try to explain it just nod your head
Breathe In, Breathe Out, Move On

It just passes much more quickly and less painfully if you let friends support you, you keep your sense of humour, and you don’t lose sight that this ride called life does not offer the option of more time. Surround yourself with good people who stand as reminders of that, and let the rest go.

Stay true to yourself, be kind, be gentle, and for the love of all that’s good and holy, don’t be afraid to laugh your ass off.

Advice · Art of LIving · Buddhim · Christianity · Girl Stuff · Guy Stuff · Humor · Humour · Jimmy Buffett · Jimmy Buffett Toronto · Knee Deep · Life · Living · Lyrics · Meaning of Life · Middle Age · Music · Musicians · Poetry · Psychology · Seniors · Spiritual Living · Spirituality · Zac Brown · Zac Brown Band · Zac Brown Toronto

Music As Therapy: Knee Deep with Zac Brown & Jimmy Buffett

peenMusic is an ancient form of magic. It can transform the atmosphere within seconds, and conjure emotions that have been buried deep.

If you are excelling at the art of living (and it is an art darlings), despite the middle-aged or just aged person looking back at you in the mirror, you still manage to rejuvenate, dismiss the nay-sayers with a regal gesture of your arm, and still have lots of life left in you.

We play music at all of our rites of passage and carefully select which melodies and lyrics reflect the emotions that words seem inadequate to describe.  For instance, on the way to a funeral, AC/DC’s Highway to Hell came blaring out of the radio. It certainly changed the mood in the car, especially for the priest.

At an outdoor summer concert with my kiddo, after a spring and summer of emotional bull-riding, I let the music of one of our favourite-fun bands wash over me.

Gonna put the world away for a minute
Pretend I don’t live in it
Sunshine gonna wash my blues away
Had sweet love but I lost it
She got too close so I fought it
Now I’m lost in the world tryin’ to find me a better way

The sun was setting over a ferris wheel lit up with bright colours, seagulls were flying over the roof of the amphitheatre, and all around me were thousands of people  had paid out their energy (aka money) to escape from the stress of life to sing and dance and be washed clean of the crap of daily living.

Wishin’ I was
Knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky, breeze and it don’t seem fair
The only worry in the world
Is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise, there’s a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

This tune brought me back to a holiday I took with my kiddo.  We had so much fun listening to this song as we planned, packed and piloted away. Every time I hear it, it’s like a trop-rock meditation bell reminding me to chill-the-heck out.

Wrote a note, said “Be back in a minute”
Bought a boat and I sailed off in it
Don’t think anybody’s gonna miss me anyway
Mind on a permanent vacation
The ocean is my only medication
Wishin’ my condition ain’t ever gonna go away

I recognize that my note to the world saying, “Be back in a minute”, can apply every day. We have happy hour at our house. It’s a relaxation ritual that involves letting the demands of the day wash off, and lots of laughing about everything.

As it turns out, you can abandon stress right here, right now, if you so choose. Life has relentless stamina, and even though there may be times you don’t want it to go on, it just keeps on rolling like the ocean after a storm.

This champagne shore watchin’ over me
It’s a sweet sweet life livin’ by the salty sea
One day you can be as lost as me
Change your geography and maybe you might be

Whether you’re cleaning the house or front-row-centre, always, always, always, choose the soundtrack to you life carefully.

Knee deep in the water somewhere
Got the blue sky breeze blowin’ wind through my hair
Only worry in the world
Is the tide gonna reach my chair
Sunrise, there’s a fire in the sky
Never been so happy
Never felt so high
And I think I might have found me my own kind of paradise

Come on in
The waters nice
Find yourself a little slice
Grab a backpack
Otherwise you’ll never know until you try
When you lose yourself
You find a key to paradise…

Andshelaughs · Buddhism · Girl Stuff · Guy Stuff · Jimmy Buffett · Joyful Living · Life · Living · Love · Men's Issues · Mental Health · Psychology · Relationships · Robert Mondavi · Wine · Women's Issues

Finding Your Happy Place: One Particular Harbour

sunset_sailboatThis one goes out to the great Jimmy Buffett, the One Particular Harbour of my soul and Robert Mondavi.

In other words, I’m writing this with the teeny-tiniest of hangovers. You know the kind I’m talking about; the kind that leave you just spent enough to feel relaxed, refreshed and embracing a new perspective.

I know I don’t get there often enough
But God knows I surely try
It’s a magic kind of medicine
That no doctor could prescribe

Life is a wild ride, and a wonderful one, if you can convince your mule-like perception that there is beauty even in the darkness. Ok, that’s a load of shit. Sometimes the darkness is just dark, and it sucks to feel stuck there.

After a passive aggressive berating about how annoying, selfish and vocal I can be, I thought it might be time for a little introspection, a look at what a horrible, selfish woman I am. I poured some hooch so my wee, little, female brain didn’t start to ache as much as my heart, which incidentally was implied to be nothing more than a cold, hard, lump of coal.

After some careful consideration I decided that caring had been construed as selfishness, and that I was suffering someone else’s pain. When you care about someone, empathizing isn’t  a sin nor is sharing your perspective about well-being. Being attached to what you can’t control though, ahhhh, now there you go darlings. That’s a killer, and I was definitely guilty of that.

And then, as el vino is want to do, a very clear meme-ish insight made a sudden appearance, tap-dancing onto the main stage of my consciousness;

Not my circus. Not my monkeys.

That’s as deep as it got. I decided to stop with the back-hoe of emotional torture, and went with the child’s sandpail and plastic shovel model. Besides being less painful, it’s a prettier picture. I poured another glass.

I heard the word, “Surrender”, being whispered in my ear. Surrender. That’s a tough one for a woman who has always had to go after what she wants with a gene-pool of quicksand always threatening to pull her back and bury her alive. In work and life, I tend to go boldly forward until I’m satisfied I’ve done my best.

Surrender is a dangerous precipice promising both apathetic failure and great joy all at the same time. Ah, the paradox of the human condition – thank you for coming to visit, you squirrelly bastard.

Today, as I sip my morning coffee, and take a thorough look at my thoughts and feelings, I understand that where I need to be is my One Particular Harbour, feeling safe, loved, and like being me is not only good enough, but appreciated.

Most mysterious calling harbour
So far but yet so near
I can see the day when my hair’s full gray
And I finally disappear

Wishing you the courage to surrender, and safety of your one, particular  harbor to drop anchor and enjoy the view of this one, short, precious life.