When We Lose Our Neighbours

greed economyI’ve lived here four and a half months, and said hello to exactly three neighbours. It’s amounted to a total time commitment of under 10 whole minutes. 600 seconds.

Earlier this week a news story broke about a house fire and the resulting fatalities. A single mother and two children living in a multi-family house died.  The house is  suspected to have been scraping under the radar of housing regulations, as most affordable housing does.

A neighbour was interviewed saying that he lived ‘nine-steps-away’, but had never met the family. Just nine steps.

And therein lies the problem. We no longer have a sense of community. We are no longer neighbourly. We no longer have the energy or resources to care for others.  We no longer have the inclination to take the time to build relationships with other people. Our world is losing its humanity in the great race to keep the economic machine rolling.

eat cake

Recently the raise in Ontario’s minimum wage has people divided over the benefits and drawbacks. Primarily the arguments are about the ability of businesses to ‘catch up’ and make profits. What is lacking in the conversation is what has been happening to the most vulnerable people in our communities for a very long time; decreased access to safe housing, health care, and the resulting social maladies. What is also lacking is a discussion regarding the  ridiculous wealth acquired by those who say they cannot afford to pay a fair, living wage.

The short-sighted argue that by raising minimum wage, the vulnerable will become jobless, and their situation worse. And they’re right. Unchecked greed will make all of it worse. Protesting for and protecting the vulnerable can only create a stronger community. It’s what neighbours do. It creates community. It prevents bad things from getting worse.

The word neighbour seems to be going the way of the word chesterfield. Perhaps we’re unwittingly becoming more like our neighbours to the south than we’d like to think.

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Christmas Survival Guide for the Lost Woman: Delegate

opinions

My friends have let me down. I’ve let them down too.

At some point women give up their own selves for the selfless, and mostly unrecognized emotional work of maintaining a home (creating the atmosphere, remembering birthdays, preparing for holidays, and bearing the greater responsibility of relationship nurturing).

Don’t be her. Don’t be the woman we all become at one point or another; a frumpy feeling, sad, uninspired woman who feels like the dishrag that society treats her like.

This Christmas I’m challenging you to connect with your pals, and I’m also challenging myself. In order to make more time for me, and to enjoy the preparations for the holidays, I’ve come up with a few strategies.

 

  1. The word of the year this Christmas is; Delegate.

Make lists….and then give them away. I mean, you single-handedly make the magic happen, at least save some time not shopping and not running errands.

shopping list

 

2) Clear out the clutter.

No, not stuff, people. If you need the whole house so you can spread out the holiday decor,  but your lovey insists on being sprawled on the couch watching the boob tube and basically being useless, ask them to leave. Unless they’re helping, they’re hindering. Vamoos!

joy

 

3) Bake ahead, and if you don’t like baking, don’t.

This year I’m googling ‘christmas cookies that freeze well’, and I’m going to use it. I’m also stocking the freezer with some frozen cheater meals so that I can enjoy my time off throughout the holidays, without cringing when I’m asked, “Have you thought about dinner”. Also, it’s so I don’t tell them that prison dinner might be worth it since I wouldn’t have to cook or do the damn dishes. My eggnot loaf is currently cooling on the counter so it can be frozen.

eggnog loaf

 

4) Be the one who puts a stop to gift exchanges. Other than a few things under the tree on Christmas morning that my loved ones need, will have sentimental value, or are a true ‘Santa’ surprise gift, gift giving falls a long-distance second to just spending time together.

get together

 

5) Make some gal-destinations a priority. Whether it’s a spa date for candy-cane mani’s, or a local church craft sale…make an excuse to get out, wander through all of the delights of the season, and make it a date with someone you’ve been meaning to get together with but haven’t.

one of a kind

 

 

Whatever you do this Christmas season,  make sure you make time to slow down and take in some of what brings you joy.

 

 

 

It’s Difficult Loving a Snoreman

duct tapeI woke up this morning with the bloody evidence of a restless sleep. In my ear  no less. From trying to block the loud sleep-purr of my man.

For two years ear plugs have kept me from two things: chronic sleep deprivation, and killing my partner in his sleep.

For years I lived alone.

Only in retrospect have I discovered that it was ‘blissfully’ alone.

HA-ha! HA-ha-HA-ha-HA!

Just in case you couldn’t tell, that is the delirious, sleep-deprived laughter of a woman who now shares her bed with a chronic snorer. A snorer supreme. A snorosaurus. A snorenado if you will.

Every night it’s snormagedon. And I’m sooooooo t i r e d.

This morning, a contractor needed to get into the building where I worked before we opened, so since I was awake all night anyway, I went in early to unlock the doors.  I rolled out of my car yawning at the same time as the contractor pulled up.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, finishing up a big, wide-mouthed yawn, “I”m not much of a morning person and the love of my life snores like a bulldozer.”

“So do I, ” he said, and then he laughed.

He laughed.  Asshole.

I had the same response from the lady who served me at the liquor store tonight. It was my one and only stop on my way home from work. The only thing I wanted was a big bowl of my auntie’s recipe for 3 in 1,  an intravenous feed of red wine, and a full-bellied-red-wine-induced-nap in front of the fireplace.

And that’s exactly what I had.

Until my well-rested horror-snorer came barging through the door. He was full of energy from having a full night of sleep.

Just to be clear to all of the snorers out there-we hate you.

You see, until now, I thought I had a solution. I had adopted the wise sleep habit of my bestie – using earplugs. Trust me, once you start wearing your long nightie to bed with socks, the ear plugs come next. The good news is when you reach this stage, you have simply come into your own power. You are silently creating your very own space. Everything about you, including your self-induced hearing impairment does not invite anyone into your space, not even subliminally. Your entire vibe is fuck-off-and-let-me-sleep. The flannel, the socks and the construction orange ear-plugs are sleepy-time-thug-gear.

Until you wake up with a bloody ear from wearing ear plugs too often.

The only solution I can come up with right now is to learn how to accessorize an orange jumpsuit.

None of this F*ing Matters

nothing mattersIt was a comment on my desire to keep a tidy, welcoming, cozy home.  And it was correct.

In the end nothing matters.

We’re all on a path to the same destination; our mortality. I mean, who better to realize this than a mortician? Who better to appreciate libertine values?

In the end, does anything really  matter?   I suppose not, if you think about it. We all end up dead and sure as shootin’ the world carries on.

Who cares if your dirty undies take up space next to a sports bottle that has leaked on the white carpet? Only an asshole I suppose. I mean, after all, we’re all just getting older, and we all just want to be happy, right? So, who cares if all of the linens, dishes and groceries get tossed in various and sundry places? It keeps things exciting right? Besides, what’s life but a grand adventure?

There is no better quality of life than looking for shit because you haven’t the time to be organized or respect shared living space. Joie de vivre etcetera….

Bullshit and wrong. Absofuckinglutely wrong.

The same people who who claim to be chill, free spirits are the same people who expect you to respect what does f*ing matter to them; golf, football, bubble baths, not being woken up during their weekend naps, a welcoming home, the daily crossword, listening to the weather, being on time, morning coffee, evening tea…which means they expect you to respect them.

I was reminded that people who do not respect me do not care about what f*ing matters to me, and that costs me precious time.

“None of this fucking matters. I just want to be happy and live my life. You should try it.”

If you hear this, be sure to remind yourself that if you are loved and if you are respected, the little things that f*ing matter to you, will f*ing matter to them. The end.

 

 

The Afterglow-Or Not; Keeping the Passion Alive, One Closed Bathroom Door At a Time

how beautiful our love isI don’t even know where to begin.

I guess I can start around 17 years ago when I got divorced.

At that time, I decided a few things about my next real relationship. I decided that I would really examine my own self and try to improve. I also decided that the only person that I would clean up after would be a human being whom I gave birth to.

Most importantly I decided that I never, ever….never, ever, ever needed to see my partner on the toilet. I never, ever needed to hear them or smell them. Oh yah. This is a big boundary for me, and my man knows it.

 

With three children in university and college, and all the stresses of merging two lives and two families, let’s just say our communication has been a series of to-do and to-buy lists along with griping about the others living habits. Our intimate communication has been less than five star. In fact, it’s been f-ing horrible.

The long and the short of it is that we committed to re-connecting, and after our hour-of-power-a-la-boudoir, we began to settle in to what I like to refer to as a ‘time of tenderness’. You know what  I mean ladies, when you feel all cuddly and want to talk, and reconnect to the awesome partner you fell in love with. With the bother of passion out of the way, it was clearly time to rekindle our friendship. This is also usually the time that your man falls asleep and you begin hating him again.

So last night, music playing in the background, stretched out feeling blissful, reliving our recent forray into, well, let’s call it the-glorious-climb-to-the-snow-capped-peak…. I awaited my man’s return from our en suite bathroom.

man on toilet

Do not leave the bathroom door open unless you’re sick.

In the candlelit quiet, my heart eased a bit, and I actually felt like a woman, not a domestic workhorse. From the bathroom;

“Hey – do you like The Killers?”

In my head; Sweet Jesus, does the man have a romantic drop of blood in his body?

Out loud; “Yes.”

He then passes gas, tinkles and says, “So do I.”

In my head; Brilliant.  He’s perched on the toilet with the door open. The romance is, officially dead.

…and back we go to the reality of life. Poop. Money. Who’s cooking dinner.

It really takes work to keep a spark alive. Trust me, keep the pilot light lit, it makes it a lot easier.

Remember that you’re friends, and always, always, always, close the bathroom door.

 

 

 

 

Soldiers of Love; Little Old Ladies

Happy smiling senior woman showing her apricot tartI’ve been accused of acting like an old lady.

This was only after I’d gone (what seemed prematurely) through my own mid-life crisis…in my 30’s.

You see, mine has been a full life; a career where I’ve seen more trauma, death and mystery than any binge episode of the most popular television series,  a made-for-tv-movies childhood and a plethora of mischief with lovely men.

There are few things I feel that I yet need to do.  The very saying, bucket list, makes me cringe. What a bunch of pretentious, assuming crappola. Every day should be your bucket list, without assuming you have time to carefully plan a list.

What I’ve come to understand at this stage is that little old ladies are often zenned out in their own little worlds of comfort; cooking, crafting, singing, baking, volunteering, doting on their children and watching Hallmark movies. They live for gentle moments of comfort.

This reality hit me when I was speaking to some younger women at work who had inquired about my career. It’s been a wonderful winding road that served my role as a mother very well. But there’s been an unusual amount of exposure to trauma, violence, and death. Which entitles me to take comfort in ‘little old lady things’, like baking.

Women who like to live their lives amidst creating a comfortable, quiet home life are sometimes the toughest broads on earth.  Like me.

We have been given the misnomer of the weaker sex  all the while proving that really we are the strongest. This is  despite gender inequality, violence, sexual abuse and economic discrimination. It is the women who are strong enough to offer our families the unrecognized emotional work required to create the sanctuary of  home where we recharge with love and kindness.

Never underestimate the power of little old ladies, especially the ones who arrived at old-ladyhood prematurely. Underneath the homemade cookies and blankets, we are fierce.

What To Do?

fallkittenI’ve been known to publish some really great seasonal To-Do Lists.  Except this year.

I didn’t do that.

Not for you and not for me.

But I’m ready for one. You see, I have a Protestant work ethic, and am a firm believer in work first, and rest when the work is done.  Which, of course, often leaves me desiring, but exhausted and out of time.

Alas, the really hard work of this year is pretty much complete, and I am left with time to rediscover more leisure pursuits.  Instead of providing you and I wish a seasonal to-do-list-on-a-time-line  of such tomfoolery that we think is Instagram-worthy, such as pumpkin patch visits, applie-pie baking and haunted house touring, I am going to provide you with a list of things that I want to do.

And I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own. Even if you don’t get to it, you’ll be reminded of what it is that makes you happy, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a little time for yourself to make your soul smile.

 

Here’s my list;

 

1. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Yah, I officially registered to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Why not? After all, I want to finish my damn novel, and I work well with a time-line. This may very well should  be the only thing on my list, but should’s have no place in my life right now.

onceupon

2. I want to go back  to wander the Guillermo Del Torro exhibit again at the AGO. It was so inspiring; a look at the inner mechanisms of a creative genius. Going back is a desperate attempt to have some of that genius-energy rub off on me.

deltoro

3.  A road trip to see the beautiful fall landscape (I’m thinking Collingwood with a side trip to a pal’s place in Thornbury, and the outdoor spa).

Hockleyfall

 

4. A visit to Hinterland Winery. In my opinion a hidden gem that deserves more of my attention. Here I come Les Etoiles!

hinterland

5. Chistmas shopping. Yes,  you heard it. I want to go Christmas shopping. That’s only because I avoid shopping in December like the plague. It sucks, people’s attitudes suck, and all of that makes me cranky. Make it a December to remember (create some memories with your loved ones – do not spend the month craving valium and flipping people the bird in parking lots).

decembertoremember

 

 

6. Cross Stitch. Oh yah. I want the luxury of  enough time to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a few hours of nothing but some needle and thread.

bring me tea

 

7. I would also very much like to make my super-duper-Hallowe’en-popcorn. I make it for my colleagues and my kiddo because even though we’re all grown up, on October 31st, we’re all still little kids just waiting for a treat.

Halloween-Caramel-Corn4-600x400

NaNoWriMo – My First Time

writersclockI’ve been writing, and chiding myself for not writing enough for what seems like a life time.

Often my blogs are a ritual of sorts before I get down to the real business of writing my novel.

My poor novel.

It’s been neglected for a couple of years now, and it’s time I either gave it wings, or set it free to find someone else to write the story. I am a believer in the vision of creativity that Elizabeth Gilbert explains in Big Magic ; Either use it or lose it, and I’m on the very precipice of losing it.

Already there is a movie in the theatres called, Mother. That’s the main character of my novel, and just a couple weeks ago I met a dog named Clover…another character in my novel.

The universe is sending me signs that it’s time to write or drop my pen. So, I’ve decided I must make a serious commitment to my writing.

This is the year I commit to NaNoWriMo. This is the year the rest of the things that tug on my shirt tails for attention get a swat.  This is the year that I re-establish myself as a regular at a local coffee shop and get lost in my own little world of characters and creativity.

…and all that I can think is…YAY!!!

Why I Open My Door At Thanksgiving

give thanks…because I’m truly grateful for the abundance of friends in my life.

My Thanksgiving celebrations are always potluck, jeans and t-shirt style. I put on the turkey, and everyone else brings something to share. That way no one has to do a lot of work and I’m not too stressed out to enjoy my friends.

Potluck is also a good conversations starter; Mmm! I love this! Who made it? What’s the recipe?….and the conversation goes on from there.

That’s what life is about.

I’ve been through hell and back as a child and as a young woman. Throughout all of it, I’ve had wonderful friends who are each, in their own way, unique and perfect.

Holiday times used to be sad for me, lonely even . I was often new in town, without family, and I felt very alone. As time went on, my new friendships deepened, and although I went through times of despair and loneliness, my friends would always show up in ways that helped me understand what was really important.

So at Thanksgiving, many people are caught up in family tug-of-wars about who goes where and who is hosting what. Or, maybe they have no family at all.

Autumn is the time of year when we start turning inward. The changing colour of the leaves wave us into shorter days and cooler nights. We cozy up inside, in big sweaters and under cozy blankets. We begin the journey into a season often spiritually described as one of mystery and hope.

I open my door at this time of year so that friends have a place to come and relax. My friends are my family, and I love them all.

I don’t have much, but I hope I offer a safe space to be yourself, laugh, and be nourished; both body and soul.

 

 

 

Dare to Be Donald

donald

Not the infamous, Asshat Donald.

Today I”m talking about Donald who works at my local book store.

A couple of days ago, I picked up the phone to make sure that they had a copy of my book-club-book in stock before I fought Toronto’s ridiculous traffic to pick it up on my way to yoga class.

Yah, I know. First-world-problem-enough for you?

Anyway, when I called, it was early and I expected a worn out part-time employee’s weary voice on the other end, with just a hint of why-don’t-you-just-order-online sarcasm.

Instead I got Donald.

“GOOD MORNING! You’ve reached your local bookstore, and my name is DONALD! How can I make your day better?”

We chatted about what I was looking for, he put me on hold as he verified he could lay hands on it, and then came back and shared words to live by in his farewell address;

“Don’t eat too much cake today at the party because we’re going to celebrate with bubbly after that!”

We need more Donald in our lives. We need to challenge his enthusiasm, joy, and whatever help he gets by with.

Go out into the world today, treat it like a party, and dare to be like Donald.