Posted in Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life Lessons, Lifestyle, Living, Meaning of Life, Midlife, Mindful Living, Politics, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Society, Spirituality, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

How to Break from Political Horror & Come Back Refreshed

change of perspectiveWe’re not even safe in our living rooms any more.

The madness south of the border seeps in through CNN and FOX news like a spring leak in a dank basement.  And I’m tired of being angry.

The solution to the madness in the world is not complicated despite the common-cop-out response from people who just don’t feel like defending their political, social and gender-role points of view.

It begins and ends with kindness.

Stop being greedy, lustful, covetous fuck buckets of douche scum. It’s that simple.

To save myself from my partner’s obsession with news south of the border, yes, even the redundancy of hurricane news on CNN, I have decided I must  leave the room.

One act of kindness followed by another, routinely carried out throughout the day by ourselves and our leaders might, just might, heal the world.

For now, there are happy articles such as this; Woman Arrested for Trying to Recreate ‘Dirty CAnding’ Scene in a Wine Store. 

Enjoy.

 

Or perhaps this is more your style;

 

When you’ve had a little break and feel some of your  faith in humanity restored, don’t be afraid to catch up on your local news, and then go out into your community and make a difference with your kindness.

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Change the Pronoun – Change the Outcome

A child was raped and assaulted over and over. He was terrified to tell anyone, and so remained silent his entire childhood, growing into a young man wounded so deeply that he would bear the scars the rest of his life.

As an adult he could no longer stand the guilt of thinking that other children would suffer the same horror.  He spoke up. It was emotional, he felt ashamed for something he did not provoke, and at the end of it all, because he was believed, he began the real work of healing.

Does anyone remember the Penn State sexual abuse scandal? If not, refresh your memory.  Young men came forward reporting  sexual abuse, resulting in the prosecution of the perpetrator.

You’d have to have had your head buried in the sand if you haven’t heard of the reports of child abuse (overwhelmingly of boys)  reported in the Catholic Church and the  incredibly powerful conspiracy to cover that up. Overwhelmingly these young men came forward because they trusted that they would be believed.

Now read my first paragraph again with a different pronoun;

A child was raped and assaulted over and over. She was terrified to tell anyone, and so remained silent her entire childhood, growing into a young woman wounded so deeply that she would bear the scars the rest of her life. 

I was one of those girls. When I wanted to come forward (years later after much counselling and thought), to help other children who were exposed to this man’s reign of terror, I was told (by professional lawyers and psychologists) that despite my record of years of counselling ,  that it would be my word against his. Without any real physical proof (all those years later), he would not be prosecuted. Not only would he walk away without any repercussion for being a rapist and abuser, getting away with it would only reinforce his perversion.

I was told that should I break my silence in order to help the other kids at risk,  he would become bolder and continue to abuse and rape. This is the kind of support women of my generation had; none.  Not likely what those Penn State men were told.

men speak

The ‘Me Too’ movement has exposed the dirty underbelly of western misogyny. It has highlighted the history of fear-mongering and abuse of power. The frustrating and sad reality of it all is that because these victims are women, they are being poo-pooed, and condescended to by the very systems and people in power who have orchestrated silence of the vulnerable for centuries.

The common opposition about coming forward after years and years, and false accusations are non-arguments. Coming forward years later often happens after much difficult and heart-wrenching work, and with the hope of stopping the horror.

As for false accusations, I take that seriously. After all, I’m the mother of a son. It would break my heart to see his name dragged through the mud if he did not hurt someone.

Most women that you know have been sexually abused and raped. It’s a fact of life that we all know, yet our global culture shrugs it off. As North American women we set a standard for the rest of the women in the world.

In my own sphere, men often shrug it off by saying, I don’t know. It never happened to me. Well, lads, imagine being sexually assaulted and raped and then emotionally abused into being humiliated and shamed by the man or woman who did it. Would you think that they were capable of doing it again to someone else?

Remember that women (and men) report not out of vindictiveness, they report because they want to stop the cycle of abuse.

The problem is that society rallies behind sexually abused men and boys, while, by silence, apathy and blatant denial of the female voice, condoning the continued abuse of women and girls.

maya angelou quotes.jpg

Finally our voices are uniting, and are becoming stronger and louder than the din of the historical patriarchy.

 

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 Advice for Women, books, Empty Nest, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Girl Stuff, Guy Stuff, Lean In Girl Stuff, Middle Age, Midlife, New Feminism, Personal Development, Professional Women, Social Commentary, Society, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, women, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

Are You There God? It’s Me. Where’s Margaret?

itsmemargaretFinding your father’s copy of Playboy. Playing two-minutes-in-the-closet. Wearing a bra for the first time. Buying your first maxi-pads.

Those were all of the things that made 11 year old Margaret Simon’s  character so relatabel in Judy Blume’s  ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’.

I can’t remember who lent me the book, but I do remember hiding it from my parents and older sister.  Although the book was a decade behind (those girls had to wear belts with their pads),  it was as a staple in my generation’s pre-teen reading diet.  It was our porn.

Wanting to know about my changing body and emotions wasn’t easy. I was shy, a bookworm and a tomboy who was raised in a body-shaming-Baptist family.  Ballsy Margaret who crushed on Phillip and bought her own pads  from a boy cashier, was my hero.

How things have changed.

After having spent my adult years fully loaded up on contraception, today was the day that I would have my Mirena removed. This morning I stood in the drugstore looking at a wall of pads, tampons, and Diva Cups wondering just what the hell I was going to need. I would have loved to have had Margaret’s advice.

croneI no longer need birth control. What I need is to return to my feminine body. To experience the shift from motherhood to new-cronehood with some modicum of respect for the awesome female form that I inhabit.

I am from a generation of women who have been convinced that our natural cycles should be stunted. We are being convinced that unless we want to get pregnant, we need to saddle up on hormones and keep a constant, obedient level of functioning that does not include paying attention to the natural rhythm of our bodies to stop, rest, rage, weep and rejoice. We have been twisted into she-men.

If I could do it all over again, I would do it like a woman, and not try to be the she-man that our you-can-have-it-all-girl-boss-culture would like me to buy into. I would get pregnant again and rejoice in my body. I would revel in my sexuality. I would do so many things differently with regard to my divine feminine.

Much like young Margaret’s character, I’m wondering about what will happen next. Except I’m in my mid-forties.

I’m noticing changes in my body; less firm, more round, a greater comfort with my own self when I look in the mirror after I slip out of my clothes and into the hot bathwater.

I wonder what happened to ballsy, Margaret when she hit forty? I’d sure like to hear from her now.

Posted in Art of LIving, Canada, Canadian Business, Canadian Culture, Canadian Politics, Canadian Writers, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Healthy Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Society, Spiritual Living, Spirituality, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

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.

Posted in 60 Minutes Life, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Girl Stuff, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Lean In Girl Stuff, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Professional Women, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Society, Spiritual Living, Sprititual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, women, Women's Issues, Women's Rights, Working Women

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.

Posted in Art of LIving, Creative Life, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life at Starbucks, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Opinion, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Society, The Art of Living, Uncategorized

Summer: Does Pumpkin Spice Belong Here?

pumpkinspiceThe end of summer has a natural melancholy about it, nostalgia seems to like the golden light of sunset and my pumpkin-spice-swilling-compadres seem always ready for the next consumer fix…ho-ho-hold off on the winter holidays please. I’m still trying to sip my September dream of October.

I missed day-one of the Pumpkin Spice season at Starbucks, but you can bet your syrupy sweet, sugary ass that I made it there on the second day.  We are an odd bunch, craving fall when it’s still peach season.

Does pumpkin spice belong here before the kids go back to school? Who’s to say. I mean, it was a marketing campaign that changed the face of how we end our summers, but maybe we can come up with some new ideas;

Peach tea lattes ( I know, it’s been done, but they are damn yummy), please don’t leave me plum lemonade, late summer boo-hoo berry or  harvest melancholy melon???

Perhaps is was Toronto’s above average rain fall and below average temperatures that fooled me into thinking our season had to be longer, or that September would bring with her some sunshine and dry heat.

For a gal who loves her some festive, pumpkin-spice lattes, I wasn’t prepared this year. Nor was I prepared to walk into a shop yesterday and find myself surrounded by Christmas decor, the  Thanksgiving and Hallowe’en stock already having been pushed to a corner.

Late summer is a mix of hanging on to the carefree days of summer, new beginnings and connecting to our ancient rituals around the harvest.

Every year, my middle-aged mom social media feed is awash with ladies celebrating the return of the syrupy-sweet-caffeine-laden coffee that is our generation’s valium. And every year, I contribute to the madness. I covet  no-whip-half-sweet-non-fat-pumpkin-spice-lattes. It’s like a small booby-prize for growing older but not up.