Posted in Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Dating Advice, Dating Advice for Men, Health, Healthy Living, Men's Health, Mental Health, Self-Care, Self-Help, Sexual Health, Uncategorized, Wellness

To My Beautiful Friend

cannonball

I woke up this morning thinking about a conversation that I had with a friend yesterday. He is a really good guy, with a smile and attitude that goes on forever.  He was complaining about his body. We’re both part of the not-likely-to-make-the-cover-of-Vanity-Fair-crew. We will likely never-ever be swimsuit models, but we’re freaking awesome people.

What I woke up wanting to say to the world today is not to let your comparison with the bodies of others ruin your one and only precious life. What I wanted to say to my stressed-out-over-his-belly friend is that he is beautiful, and nobody cares about his body, we just care about whether he’s a good person; and he is. The best kind of person.

Oh, and his blood pressure and other health indicators are top notch. In other words, the body that he’s frustrated with is healthy. Seriously, that’s what it’s all about. Yes, life is not about the people who try to make us self-conscious about our bodies so that they can feel better about their shitty personality.

Let me tell you a tragic story; I grew up on the lake with a mother who always hated the way her body looked in a swimsuit, never wanted to get her hair wet, and let her own anxiety over comparing her  appearance with that of others essentially cripple her ability to savor the moment. It made her miserable from the inside out.

As a little (tomboy) girl, I vowed no matter how big my belly was, jiggly my thighs, or wild my hair, I was going to dive right into life, and enjoy it all.  And I’ve mostly been able to do that, although at times, I admit, my anxiety does get a grip. After all, we all want to be attractive, feel special, and even get our sexy on.

All too often I have conversations with people who are unhappy with their bodies; I’m too fat. My ass is flat. My ass is huge. My belly is big. My hair is unruly. My thighs are ugly…

The list goes on and on, and it’s starting to bother me more than just a little.

As a mortician, I marvel at the human body in it’s living form. What a miracle! What a beautiful, delightful, unique miracle. Mwah! I love it all!

Our bodies do so much of the work for us in this life, while our minds groove reckless, like wild horses. Start giving praise where praise is due; thank you, you bad-ass jiggle monster thighs for getting me where I need to go; thank you arms for carrying everything that I drag around with me every day; thank you abundant ass for giving me a nice place to sit; thank you for housing my awesome, kind, dynamic and charismatic spirit!

Take your body to the beach. Give it some fresh air. Wrap  it in that wild shirt, the bright shorts and celebrate it. It’s not just a thing, it’s part of who you are, and mostly, you are awesome.

I spent years counselling people who had their bodies ravaged by disease, just waiting for the day when their bodies finally failed them completely and they had to say good-bye to everyone they  loved. There was a lot of regret. I witnessed this thousands of times. Trust me, there will come a day when you would love to have a chance to live with that fat belly, or jiggly thighs, or unruly hair.

So love it all now while you can. Adorn your one and only body with colour, go everywhere and don’t try to make yourself small. Love your body and maybe, just maybe, it will love you back.

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Posted in Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Girl Stuff, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Lean In Girl Stuff, Living, Mindful Living, New Feminism, Self-Care, Self-Help, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Women's Issues, Women's Rights

Give Them the Leftovers

the sunThe headline on my yahoo homepage today was about Selena Gomez, the pop-star turned kidney transplant recipient, and the trolls who were criticizing her body. After experiencing the limits of her mortality, I’m sure the woman really doesn’t give a shit about critics of her amazing body.

Whether you’re Selena Gomez, or an average gal just trying to make a living, there will always be critics, people who intentionally try to make life harder for you. These folks are known as; assholes.

Delve into any type of spirituality that gets you through the day. There are a million pithy sayings that we can pull out of the air to set us on our own determined path to success (whatever that means in the moment);

Be kind to those who are unkind as they need it the most

An eye for an eye.

Give thanks to all of those people who were challenging as they were your greatest teachers.

Or, as I’ve come to realize with my more limited middle-aged energy; fuck’em.

Seriously, leave them to live as they are; miserable, petty and when you have enough energy leftover from loving your wonderful, healing, and healthy self, pass the love along to them.

If, like me, your life has finally come in for a landing and isn’t one survival worry after the next, give yourself all the love you can. Give the haters the leftovers.

 

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How to Know When You’re Old

You know you’re getting old when…

You’ve become the person you used to look to for guidance. No where is this more evident than in my career.

I began a second career in my late twenties. Yah, I know that sounds outrageous, but it’s true. I was passionate, interested, engaged and enthusiastic.

If aging has taught me anything about the above qualities, it’s that I miss my enthusiasm the most.

growing older but not up

 

Don’t get me wrong, I get excited about things, but they’re different than they once were. After all, just this morning I actually uttered the words, ” I almost fell over when I met him. He looks just like a guy I used to date. Turned out he was a murderer.”

How much enthusiasm can you have for anything when you’ve had that kind of experience? I mean really, that kind of over-the-top-outrageousness wears thin after a while. Coming home to a cat, and  reheated take-out becomes heavenly.

And that’s how you know you’re getting old.

Yesterday my shift partner (whom has worked with me through a company change and six years) asked if the noise of our younger colleagues got to me. I had to admit that it did. I asked him, ” You know why it bothers us”?

“No,” he said.

“It’s because we’re old” I said with a little grin. “We’re the old ones now, and we used to be exactly like them.”

He nodded as he laughed and walked away muttering something about it being true.

And that’s how you know you’re getting old.

Last week I had an evening planned with one of my best gal-pals. I bought her tickets to see Jerusalem. The day-of, I received an email which I considered a warning. The gist of it was that running time of the play was three hours, so prepare to sit for a loooooong time. I was pissed. PISSED! Three hours?! What on earth could possibly be so good that I needed three hours to experience it. Goodness knows I didn’t want to be out all night. What I wanted was to go home, put on jeans and a sweater, and have some god-damned peace and quiet.

What I got instead was a very pleasant and unexpected reminder of just how amazing getting out really is for my creative spirit.

I thought I was so over the  restaurant and theatre thing in Toronto. Seen it. Done it. Don’t need to do it again.

When you start thinking like that, well, that’s how you know you’re getting old.  What makes it true is to continue to think that way and to act on it.

So yes my lovelies, we are all aging, but old really cuts to the bone.

As I age, I realize that I have to make an effort not to poo-poo what I assume I already know. That’s what makes us old from the inside out. Pushing back against this resistance of futility will keep me youthful, vibrant and creative, even if my outsides don’t look like it so much any more.

 

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Love & Other Fragile Things

birdbranchYou know that I’m writing this for you, right?

The woman who’s just had the news that her husband isn’t ‘in love’ with her any more. Maybe it was your wife, or your partner…whatever. It’s all the same soul-crushing-crashing-everything-to-a-halt-breath-stealing-change. And it hurts. Bad.

And it scares the hell out of you.

Trust me, I know. I’ve been there. But here I am, 17  years single, and not a-crazy-old-cat-lady…yet.

There will be times that you despair, and feel loneliness deep in your bones. You will lose sleep over how you will pay the bills, tell the kids, manage holidays, and ever manage to open yourself up to the wonder of everything that once brought you joy. But you will darling. I promise.

Your sense of self, your home, your routines, your comfort zone – these things make you fragile my sweet.

But you will crawl out of all of this muck. You will be a polished, shining, more resilient version of yourself. You will be more wise. You will appreciate the little things. And you will laugh from your belly.

You will also wonder what the hell you were so upset about in the first place. There’s a lot of energy that goes into loving someone – I mean really, feet-on-the-ground-all-hands-on-deck-loving, or as some people call it – active loving. You likely spent a lot of time doing stuff for your partner; maybe you cooked, did the laundry, maintained the vehicles, did the lion’s share of maintaining the kids, your family holidays, etc., etc.  If you’re like me, you put your own timeline and the little things that bring you joy  second to the priorities of your partner; boys’ nights, golf, their fitness and waking time preferences.

At first, time on your own will feel like a long rest after a marathon, and then it will feel eerily quiet. What will you ever do with this landscape of barren time?

Let me give you a few suggestions; pedicures, concerts, art galleries, boozy lunches with the gals, discovering favourite shops, more time with your kiddos, a bed all to yourself or not, reconnecting with friends, and eventually rediscovering the joy of  being treated like the precious gem that you are.

Love is fragile, but so is our sense of self.  As a woman who has had the luxury of time alone, I realize the cost of independence and the price of nurturing another. Love is fragile, Time is fleeting.

Lean on your friends. We will remind you of the fabulous person you have always been, even in the shadow of heartache.

 

 

 

Posted in Advice for Women, Creative Life, Dating Advice for Women, Dating Love, Falling In Love, Fashion, Health, Healthy Living, Life, Life Lessons, Love, Meaning of Life, Men's Health, Mental Health, Professional Women, Self-Care, Self-Help, Sexual Health, Uncategorized, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

Once Upon a Time: Adventures In Plastic Surgery

fairytalecastleOnce upon a time I found myself in a plush waiting room with comfy chairs and glossy fashion magazines…

Today I found myself sitting in a questionably disinfected examination chair, clad in a mint green hospital gown and wondering what the hell is wrong with the world.

You see, I was in a plastic surgeon’s office. Not because I’d requested to have my belly banished, my nose narrowed or my melons maintained. No, it was a mistaken referral which should have been to a dermatologist.

In the waiting room, a screen played images of women’s bodies over and over, giving us all a good 3-D look at the natural flaws that ‘appear over time’. I saw nipples and bum cheeks, lips and noses. Not once did I see a man’s saggy testicles or jowly chops. Not once did they put man-boobs or beer guts in the glaring spotlight.

Nope. It was all women. Every bit of marketing was directed toward women and just how insecure we should feel about our bodies. Every single image dissected women’s bodies and divided us into pieces to be criticized and rebuilt into a singular image of beauty.

manBalderdash. How freaking boring is that? Pass the gin and bring me a man.

With catchy little tag-lines on brochures like, “Never Fear the Mirror”, and  “Love Your Lips”, it was a bit crazy.

The only thing I could think was,  “Fuck off. We’re perfect. Now get me outta here.”

My darlings, you are perfect as you are. Love your body and yourself, nothing less will transform you into a beautiful person inside and out.

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Your True Self

doitlaterWhen did the dreaded mid-life crisis start rearing it’s ugly head in our thirties? Seriously.
Recently I’ve spoken with a handful of thirty-somethings in the middle of what I will call spiritual crisis. Oh, and forty somethings and fifty somethings…
I think you get it don’t you darlings?
Our day-to-day has become a constant battle of trying to convince ourselves that life is hap-hap-happy. When really, we get up and go to jobs that require more and more of us, or no job at all, neverending bills, and to-do lists that make the activities and the relationships (friendships) we once loved seem like dreams that we can’t really take time to enjoy.
This morning as I stroked another thing off my to-do list, I had a call from my wonderful friend the Amazing C, and we had a good girl talk. I miss her and she misses me. The old her, and the old me. The broke, single, carefree, laughing our heads off ‘us’.
Neither of us could have planned out how our lives have played out. Neither of us feel completely connected, or hopeful at this stage. But what I think we shared was feeling connected,  because someone out there  does indeed understand our bitching, our heartache, and our complete frustration in the moment. And then I asked; is this who we really are? Is this our true ‘self’?
I write this on the tail of my previous post, and share with you a portion of an email exchange with another dear friend…
Thank you for your email. Thoughtful as always. I haven’t been calling as much because I know that you’re in a difficult place right now.
As you can likely tell, I’ve been in a bit of a dark place too, feeling like there is little meaning in my life… Sadness is the only way I can describe it…I let it overwhelm me sometimes and then I realize that I’m letting it take over my life, that I’m allowing the cycle to continue.
While I was taking my Buddhist classes, they taught that in their philosophy, those who commit suicide come back and have to endure the suffering over and over again until they live out that particular lifetime. To which I thought; Fuck off and son of a bitch.
At the retreat I just attended, I decided that I did not want to speak in our evening dharma groups, that I just needed to ‘retreat’ and listen. Ironically, this year they asked me to be one of five speakers.  Anyway, during our dharma group chat I was able to remain silent, and one lady spoke of how she lies awake in bed at night, quite often lost in anxious thoughts of the future. Oh boy, could I ever relate. … And then she said what were the magic words for me in that moment; “I know that these thoughts aren’t’ real. They’re just thoughts”.  For me that was really important as I often make up scenarios in my head about all of the things that I’m afraid of coming true.
The other thing that came to me during my time in silence was that I’ve never felt good enough. I’ve never felt pretty enough, or smart enough, or good enough for anyone or anything, and quite frankly, when I look at my life, I think I’ve been exhausted my entire life just trying to ‘be good enough’. It’s a shitty way to feel and to live. I haven’t figured out how to change that, but at least I’m aware of it now. That awareness is like having a big turd on the living room floor and not being able to get rid of it. That awareness just sits there like a big, stinky, piece of shit…
I’ve also realized that in the moment, I’m not any of those things either. It’s a constant struggle to shake off where I came from and be in the present, looking forward to anything.
I don’t know why I’m telling you all of this. Maybe I hope that something will resonate, and you won’t feel as alone as I do sometimes.
So having reflected on all of this, I’ve decided that there is only one solution. Shenanigans. Yes, darlings. That is all.  An afternoon on a patio with a kindred spirit, a girls weekend with the women who make me feel like a kid again, and lots and lots of time on my little patio, looking at the world and letting the reality of just how wonderful things really are. In. This. Moment. These experiences and feelings of joy are very much also part of our true selves, it’s just time to let them in, because we are good enough.
Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety and Depression, Girl Stuff, Guy Stuff, Guy Stuff Women's, Life, Life Lessons, Meaning of Life, Religion and Spirituality, Self-Care, Self-Help, Uncategorized, Women's Issues

Happy Hour – Right After Closing Time

A few weeks ago during a conversation with one of my very close, wise, and kindred-who-gives-a-flying-patoot-what-anyone-else-thinks friend, I decided that I would not have any serious  discussions (especially with my sweetheart) after 8:30 pm.

Really, who wants anything too heavy before bedtime, whether it be a big dish of pasta, or a big ol’ cup of pissed-off? Nobody. You know why? Because you just can’t digest anything that late. It repeats on you, and leaves a bad taste in your mouth.

In favour of letting my anxiety get the best of me, I’ve decided to let it go. Until I get moving the next morning anyway, and since I’m really not a morning person, that means sometime after 10am.

With all of that designated, “No Bitching” time, I’ve discovered a couple of things. First of all, I’m happier. As in way happier. I’m not such a snowballing mess of fear and anxiety. Second of all, it’s given me way more time to be grateful.

So if you’re a Type-A-worrying-control-freak, give it a try. You may just find some joy.