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.

 

 

 

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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.

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.

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.

 

Stop: When Your Body Calls Bullshit

strongmanEvery  morning when I wake up I say a little prayer.

First I say thank you for waking up to another day. Second of all, I ask that I be given the grace and strength to get through the day and do good work.

I pull my body from my soft, warm bed, and wonder at the rhythm of my crazy life, and how much my mind and body have endured.

Years ago I received the best piece of health care advice I think I’ll ever receive in my life, ” Our body’s natural state is one of health.”

I decided then and there that this was one sure truth in life, and that I would never forget it.

But stress is a curious beast isn’t it? Sometimes serpent like, it can twist and turn and wind itself along every peaceful neural pathway of your body and seize up the works.  Your body recognizes bullshit, and when it has enough of you trying to be Superwoman, it will let you know. It will succumb to the constricting nature of stress in order to get your attention.

Quite often my stress level reaches the emergency state without me ever even noticing. My life has been a series of struggles to get by, and enjoying everything that I can on the way. It’s a fine balance really, this being independent, but it seems to have been worth it.

Every once in a while I realize that my life is out of balance. I’m stretched too thin in every way, trying to be everything to everybody, somehow losing myself in the mix. The things that I do to relax, and that energize me fall by the wayside; writing, running, stitching, coffee and girl-talking.

Usually by the time I admit that I’m feeling fatigued, my body is one-step ahead, fully in the gnarled grip of stress. And when that happens darlings, I simply don’t half-ass it. Nope. My body completely raises the white flag of surrender and stops me in my tracks. It basically calls bullshit on my nonsense priorities.

When our ego pushes us too far, our bodies are a great barometer for forecasting our limits. Our bodies refuse us in order to maintain that natural state of health.

I had a wake-up call this week, and now I need to pay attention. Once again I will straddle the great teeter-tauter of adult life, and try to balance my physical, spiritual, creative and emotional needs again. All of this while trying to keep a single income household going. Yes, life can be circus like around here. It’s nothing if not entertaining.

No one ever said that life was easy, but I’m telling you right now, when you can slow down to appreciate all that you have, each day is a little celebration of joy.

If you share in my  struggle to find a bit of balance, I’ll let you in on a secret. Each week I try to make time for the elements of my life that bring me joy and replenish my energy;  spiritual practice, creative pursuits, physical exercise, social interaction with people who do not zap my energy, and rest.

Set these things in your calendar. Make time. Breathe. Get lost in the things that bring you energy and joy. I promise, just like your body, life will balance itself out, and it will be good.

 

 

 

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.

 

Christmas: The Perfect Time to ‘Find Yourself’

vmask

What you see is what you get.

I had an interesting conversation tonight. Interesting in that I’ve heard it a zillion times from a zillion people; “I’m finding myself”.

Which, by virtue of the ability to be found, means that some element of oneself, was, indeed, thought to have been  lost.

After very little thought, and perhaps a dash too much  judgement, I came to the conclusion that those who have felt lost were not lost, but sold.

Sold as in; sold the big ol’ American dream. They have bought into the who, what, where, when and why of existence as deemed necessary by our completely make-believe economy. After all darlings, Just like Saint Nick, if you believe, it must be real.

Someone pass my wine….

What I think ‘finding’ one’s self truly means is that people find themselves in an unexpected solitude. Finally they have the space and time necessary to contemplate  mundane aspects of their life which have previously been taken for granted.

Daily routine for instance, or whether or not they like a certain type of music, sex, or art.

Finding oneself is often accomplished in the reflection of solitude against companionship; the interaction between contemplation and practice.

Finding oneself in the moment is all that there really is. What better time to practice than Christmas time, when we are often time and energy stretched and prone to  participate in more social interaction?

The present moment is where you will always find yourself. And you rarely find yourself the same way twice. Learning this will help you honour who you  are in each precious moment, in each exchange of energy with your colleagues, friends, relatives and lovers.

This is where your mask slips, allowing you see your reflection, frowning or smiling just as you are. Who you are is who you are, in each, precious moment.

 

 

 

A Beautiful Messy Life

  

Not Giving a Damn – Radical Self-Care for Givers

giveadamThe love of my life who abandoned me told me that me being a  ‘giver’ was what most attracted him to me. Ha!

That should have had me running the other way. The only people attracted to givers are takers, and quite frankly, it’s boring.

The reality is though, that I am a giver. A giver of my heart in everything that I do. I tend my friendships, bring my best professional self to work, and hope to leave the world a better place than I found it at the end of every day.

I’ve realized over time that that looks a little differently than I used to think it should.

Example; today it was strongly (passively aggressively) suggested that I should abandon my work and go home to tend to a minor sore throat and common cold. In the past, I would have toughed it out, lived on liver-damaging-over-the-counter-pharmacandy and felt better in a month. Smiling all the while of course.

But not today. Nope.

You see, I’m learning to take some of my own advice. Givers tend to utter such sincere statements as, It’s ok sweetie, don’t be so hard on yourself, and one of my personal favourites, don’t worry about it I’ll take care of it.

Years ago I gave up the need to be a ‘giver’. After a really bad, treacherously drawn-out relationship,  I finally learned that I don’t need to be there for people who are only there for me when they need something.

The second two quarters of this year have been a colossal gong-show of loss, heartbreak, being taken advantage of, and frankly my darling buttercups, I’ve had efuckingnough. That’s French for; I’m done.

lucilleballI do not need to be anyone’s savior, free therapist, or emotional punching bag. I could use a wicked massage, night of hot sweaty sex, and a romantic dinner.But that’s in the works as I type this my sweet little peaches…after all, a lady makes sure that her needs are met in order not to settle for second-best.

So, today, at the suggestion that I was too ill to work, I packed up my beautiful black and red leather bag and headed out the door.

After a quick stop to pick up new shoes, and a hair-colour pick-me-up, I spent the afternoon finally taking the advice of a good art-therapist friend of mine.  I used the last of my instant, vanilla-flavoured coffee that’s been in the cupboard since David slew Goliath, and spattered the hell out of some watercolour paper. I scrawled my pastels and turned up my Rachmaninoff  extra-freaking loud.

I sipped tea. I wore tights and a baggy sweater, and I opened wide all of the windows to let the fresh autumn air breeze through our little home.

Photo from a Vogue Photoshoot

Photo from a Vogue Photoshoot

When I was done with that, I spent 90 minutes with Charlie Hunnam on my couch and watched him take his shirt off and stare back at me with his wild blue eyes. Men like that give me faith in my libido and all that it’s done for me over the years. Thank you Charlie.

What I did not do was listen for my phone, respond to energy-sucking messages, or feel that I owed anyone anything. After all, a gal has to take care of herself every once in a while, ’cause there ain’t nobody out there who’s going to do it for her.

What I’ve learned is that when you do it all, all of the time, no one comes to your rescue. It used to upset me, make me feel abandoned, alone, sad and even angry.

The truth is, I don’t need to be saved. No one does.

I just need to let go of the message that our western world sinisterly implies; keep busy, want more stuff, don’t think, just keep going.

Busy is over-rated. Stuff just kills the planet and clutters our space. Rest, introspection and silence seem to go against everything society shoves so beautifully down our  throat. Today I wasn’t swallowing though. Today I pulled the blankie of don’t-bother-me up around my ears and turned my face to the wall.

Today I did not give one single damn. I took care of me, my son, and my mental health. I let my broken heart loose and loved it just as it was; whole, hurting, imperfect and yet, still hopeful. Damn I’m one hell of a dame…

I strongly suggest you don’t give a damn too. Every once in a while, it’s just the medicine you need.  After all, who are you trying to prove yourself to, really?