Posted in Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living

The Freedom & Joy of Middle Age

lucilleballEurope-bound.

Despite having been ill for over two weeks, running out of sick time, and trying to mother through training camp stresses, I am sitting in a plush, premium lounge waiting to board my flight.

I have layers to keep me warm, prescription inhalers, nasal spray, neo citron and enough green tea in my carry-on to seve a royal court.

There is a freedom about mid-life that I know is precious. And I’m cherishing it darlings. Oh, how I’m cherishing my good fortune. My kiddo who is on the right track, my rather stable career ( despite missing almost a month between being sick and now being away), true friends, and a partner who spoils me when he’s not making me crazy.

In my life I have witnessed women my age fall prey to the pressures of looking and acting like twenty-somethings. I revile that. I have earned every wrinkle, roll and opinion that I have. I’m happy and thankful and also pretty damn impressed with how my life has rolled out.

Your value has never been in your DNA ladies, it is in your heart, how you carry yourself every day out into the world and love.

Do not let the invisibility that comes with loss of youth for women make you shrink and shrivel. Shine brightly from your wealth of experience and knowledge, and always, always, always, say yes to the glass of wine.

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Posted in #TBT, Advertising, Advice, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Food, Food and Wine, Food Critics, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Classic Style – Keep it Classic

but you said
“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.” ~Jane Austen~

What I’ve recently recognized about the world that we live in is that it lacks imagination. For all of the nouveau trends in food and dress, ‘retro’ is a rather civilized way of making lack of imagination seem trendy.

Style is an easy example. Ankel length, full length, wide leg, narrow leg, graphic prings, stripes, florals…it’s all been done before.  Other than (thank God) changes in more practical fabric, it’s really not that different.

And then there’s food. One of my pet peeves. At a summer luncheon, I was served a house-named caesar salad. It boasted a poached egg atop a large disk of crispy parmesean which required explanation and directions with regard to how to actually eat the damn thing.

Let me be clear. This was NOT a caesar salad. The taste was similar, but it was not a caesar. It was delicious and did not disappoint my senses. The establishment could have at least given this wonderful creation the credit it deserved and called it something unique. As for the waldorf salad in a current epicurian rag-mag, it is not a waldorf salad. A waldorf salad has a specific dressing, walnuts, apples and lettuce. Eggs and cheese and pecans do not a fucking waldorf salad make. Please, for the love of all that’s holy, at least come up with an original  name!!!

My ultimate annoyance is the caesar. Gimme some voddy and clamato. Rim it with celery seed and plop in a celery stick.

When messing with the classic caesar came into vogue over a decade ago, I was sitting at Fran’s in Toronto waiting for my date. We were headed to a Bonnie Raitt concert at old Massey Hall, and I was hungry. A great drink to order prior to a meal (when you’re freaking starving) is a caesar. It’s ok to have a cocktail while you’re waiting, but not so much a meal, and a caesar is pretty much an appetizer in a glass.

So I ordered my caesar and people watched. Enter the spicy bean. Like I said, I was hungry. So, I chomped down on the offending bean and almost died choking. I downed my glass of water, my caesar, and had to order another just to stop from choking again. Please no bean this time. Celery if you have it.

Please, do not garnish my classic cocktails with pretensious garnish that need to be groomed, pampered, handled with cutlery or introduced and explained.

Cocktail bars and great restaurants need not rely on old names for new, delicious concoctions. They need to get creative.  Don’t sell me either caesar unless it’s true. Do tempt me with new concoctions with new names. Imagination is sexy darling, dreadful surprises are not.

Posted in Andshelaughs, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Purpose & Payday – Your Monday Meditation

purpose

Purpose. It’s a word that gets thrown around a lot these days, like ‘badass’ and ‘tribe’. I judge people when they level up one notch on the  organically- crafted-hipster-ladder by using this kind of catch-phrase.

I figured out my purpose a long time ago, but it wasn’t until I thought about purpose that I could put it into a fifteen second elevator speech. But let’s face it, fifteen second elevator speeches are for salespeople, not purpose driven folks. I was just thankful that at over 40 years old, I’d been intentional enough to realize what my purpose was.

Purpose is what sustains us, whether we’re aware of it or not.

So here’s a little story from my day at the local holistic healing fair about purpose;

“You’re completely done.” She looked me dead in the eye when she said it. “Just finished with all of it.”

I nodded.

faery magicThree decks of cards later (Faerie, Archangel Michael, Angel) it was confirmed by the powers that be that I was jonesin’ for a complete change of course.

But I already knew those things before I sat down didn’t I? We already know as intuitive beings when what once imbued meaning into our lives has vanished. Validation is nice though, isn’t it?

 

 

 

 

 

I wandered down a few more aisles at this holistic healing show, and bumped into a soap maker. Not just any soapmaker, but Momtaz, a third-generation soap maker.

Third-effing-generation…let that sink in.

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I spent some time (and money) at her booth, and casually asked about her Aleppo soap.  She informed me that it is the oldest soap recipe in the world. She was passionate about her work, she told me all about the properties of the soap, how you could use it on babies with extreme eczema and fragile skin. She was so happy that I was interested in what she was doing that she gifted me a bar, and in turn, I promised her that I would share it with someone who might need it. That’s purpose.

I made my way methodically through the rows of booths. I admired how these (mostly) women were making their purpose pay.

Until now, I’ve been injecting my purpose into every day life. I thought that was satisfying enough, but more and more I’m feeling like it’s not. My job pays, but my purpose only gets to sneak a peak once in a while in the shadow of my career.

Back to the lady who made twenty bucks reading my cards. She was retired from a job similar in nature to my own. She could relate to how bone-tired I am from caring for other people. The twenty dollars she charged was  a small price to pay to be reminded of what I already know I’m meant to be doing.

Whether it ‘s the holistic approach like I tend to take, or the professional approach a la Mike Drak, investing in what we love to do can reap financial rewards later in life.

For many of us, our purpose will have to be injected into our daily grind. And our daily grind will have to include significant time to work on projects that develop our purpose. And this is what will sustain us now, and in the future.

 

Posted in Art of LIving, Food, Food and Wine, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Midlife, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Society, Soul Food, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Farmer’s Markets: Hipster Paradise or Community Refuge?

Twelve dollar nut-milk and dairy-free cheese. Fermented cabbage, kombucha everything and an old shipping container decked out with an energy guzzling refrigerator stocked with locally made craft booze.

It’s a hipster haven, and on the surface, it’s annoying ‘AF’ (as my child’s generation would call it).

It’s the farmer’s market at the Evergreen Brickworks in Toronto. A man-made ‘natural’ oasis in the middle of the city.  The Saturday morning farmer’s market is well-curated, and the food court is pretty damn tempting.

To be quite honest, this market had me at Monforte Dairy and Hinterland Wine.

A country girl at heart, I yearn for my connection to the earth. After all these years, I have to admit, that I can come across as a city girl too, and maybe that’s why I’m so attracted to the bucolic civility of a rustic market just off seconds from the Don Valley Parkway.

Rural life tethers us with  invisible thread, connecting us to seasons, the earth, and the natural order of things. There is comfort in that.  I believe it’s the main reason why, even here in the city, where many children and adults  don’t know how to plant a seed or cultivate a garden or preserve food, that every walk of life  flocks to farmer’s markets.

As pretentious as  all downtown markets seem, they’re a sight better than our lives here in a city where anonymity is sweet, but the bitterness of a community lacking heart overpowers that sweetness. Markets are a small gesture of humanity within the  momentum  of the economic machine that is our lifestyle.

Our food sources connect us to the natural cycles of life, and to the intimate relationship that we have with our physical bodies. Food – the great equalizer. We break bread together as a symbol of opening our minds, hearts and homes to those whom we gather with.

Feeling some connection to that food is life-affirming and spiritual nutrition. Even if it just means it didn’t travel across borders to get here, and we received it from the same hand that harvested it.

If you have yet to make your way to your local farmer’s market this year, I encourage you to do just that. I reminds you where we are within the seasons, the community, and the planet as a whole.

Posted in Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Perspective, Seasons, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

My Summer Fling

plum pitEvery summer I have a fling.

The romance starts in the spring. The seduction of the sun after long, dark winter nights always pulls me away from the cozy hibernation of the indoors.  My clothing gets lighter, I show more skin, and turn my back to anything that pulls me away from the fullness of his attention.

The house becomes a forgotten locker room.  I bathe, change, and sleep inside, feeling that each moment is wasted away from the splendid beauty of the summer.  Spending time away from the fresh air and wildness of summer pains me. My patio becomes the breakfast nook, living room and dining room.  I lose track of time, and weekends blur into the workweek, each sunny morning a painful reminder that at some point I have to steal myself away from the embrace of my May-September lover, interact with other people and for-god’s-sake-put-on-some-decent-clothes.

Increasingly nostalgia blossoms into a familiar yearning for the type of countryside wildness into which I was born. A sensuality city-folk only ever glimpse but never fully appreciate; picking wild raspberries by the roadside, climbing ancient, gnarled mulberry trees to acquire enough fruit to bake something delicious, finding wild strawberries in the grass, and falling asleep with the window open in the dark nights that the city can never know.

My home turns into a bit of a museum in the summertime. Even though autumn is a time of slow decay, it has always signaled a fresh start. A renewal of routine and return to the warmth of home. And so endeth my summertime affair every year. Slowly I come back to preserving the harvest,  decluttering all that was dropped and forgotten as the sun seduced the household outdoors.

Summer affairs allow you to sip the sweet, sweet, nectar from the cup of life, but there is something to be said to waiving good-bye and coming back home.

Posted in Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Men's Health, Men's Issues, Mens' Issues, Mental Health, Midlife, Mindful Living, Personal Development, Professional Women, Self-Care, Self-Help, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, Sprititual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, women, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

Monthly Planner

Today while connecting with my lovelies on Instagram, this post caught my eye and made me stop what I was doing.

I used to be religious about keeping a day planner.

As a matter of fact, I took pride in documenting every single thing that I did of note so that it could be neatly tucked away, ink on paper, in the same type of  tidy journal that my grandfather kept, and then filed neatly on the same shelf that housed his journals during his old-age.

During trying times, I made a conscious effort to ensure that all my needs were met in order to stay healthy; emotional, physical, spiritual, social and intellectual. I made time for at least one hour of an activity, or get-together (per week) that was intended to satisfy each of those needs in my life.

journals

 

And then suddenly, without much thought, the ease of carrying every tidbit of my life on my portable phone took over. Instead of having my month laid out for me, I tend to look at days, and then parts of days so that I can manage my job, my business, my home and my social life in bits and pieces. Because I no longer look at a bigger picture timeline, I have felt myself slide into a schedule that is running me, and not the other way around.

Today an Instagram post caught my eye and reminded me of all of what I’ve just said. And of course, I thought that it was a damn good idea to get back my old way of scheduling what can only be called, time for joy.

I’m looking forward to recommitting to my relationships and self-care. I hope that this little social media gem is as helpful to you as it has been to me.

Now who wants to join me for breakfast in the morning? My treat.

 

Posted in 60 Minutes Life, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Bereavement, Creative Life, Empty Nest, Fearless Living, Fearlessness, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Less Than Five Minutes to Read, Life, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Men's Health, Men's Issues, Mens' Issues, Mental Health, Middle Age, Midlife, Mindful Living, Personal Development, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, women, Women's Issues, Working Women

Wisdom ‘Four’ The Ages:Soda Makes Your Hair Curly

fun on the beachIt’s been a week.

Ups, downs and all arounds.

Throughout all of it, I realized two things; I’m getting old, and I’m getting  better at the important things.

This week a childhood pal’s hubby died, and a school chum of mine died as well. They were both in their early 40’s. Before you start sending condolences, I want to be clear; neither of these two men were part of my every-day life.  My memories of them are frozen in the past somewhere among forgotten first dates, moonlit teenage-trists on the beach, and making out to Bryan Adams songs. They were pee-your-pants funny, and the kind of people you were happy to spend time with.

I’m a funeral director, so I’m not a stranger to death. But no one is immune to the rattle of mortality when she crosses your path all jangley-chained and staring you in the face with her gaunt eyes .  The death of these two vibrant men was a reminder of how fast joy and enthusiasm can get lost in adulthood.

The takeaway message is clear: enjoy it while you can. Be grateful for what you have, love the people you love without shame and with wild abandon.  Responsibility can include silliness.

Like I mentioned earlier, these things also made me realize that I’m getting better at the important stuff.

Little girl on the playgroundThe best part of my week, besides my own lovely kid at home, was a conversation that I had with a four-year-old-boy at the funeral home where I work. We discussed the benefits and drawbacks of the differnt flavours of birthday cake .We also decided that absolutely nobody is ever too old to order a Happy Meal at McDonalds because the toys are awesome sometimes.  And, at the ripe old age of almost-five, Henry decided that although he thought my hair was pretty, he would take my advise and stay away from drinking soda. That’s the reason I gave him that my hair was so curly (after all, it was the fizz from soda that bubbled all the way up from my stomach and into my head that made it that way). Henry stuck to cranberry juice.

I also dragged my middle-aged-not-a-morning-person-butt out of bed to go to an event that was very important to a beautiful woman whom I work with.  She unveiled a painting that she had been working on for a year, and let me tell you, the joy she experienced today was contagious. Life gets better the more we love other people and the more we listen to our intuition.

Friday night dinner was hosted casually without fuss, with new and old friends around the table. Not once did I wonder if it was all good enough – I relaxed and felt the overwhelming fullness of spirit we are all capable of when we let go of ego and just become present.

The takeaway message is clear: enjoy it while you can. Be grateful for what you have, love the people you love without shame and with wild abandon.  Responsibility can include silliness.  Take time to have conversations about life with four-year-olds. They’ve got this living-life thing all figured out.