Posted in Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Health, Healthy Living, Jimmy Buffett, Men's Health, Mental Health, Midlife, Opinion, Perspective, Self-Care, Social Commentary, Society, Spiritual Living, Uncategorized, Wellness, women, Women's Issues

Mid-Life Clarity-Did You Work at it Your Whole Life?

hit you with a carThere is little that gifts perspective as much as experience.  And I’ve had experience in spades.

I’m pretty much home-bound with an ill sweetie these days, and have had lots of time to reflect, get frustrated, feel grateful, be sad, be relieved, be worried, and be overwhelmed. In other words, to be human.

Although I was a professional palliative care giver for the best part of a decade, nothing really prepares  you for personal crisis. The stress of organization, paperwork and dealing with an over-burdened health care system has been an eye opener.

What life has prepared me for though is clarity with regard to circumstantial right and wrong, and life is nothing if not circumstantial.

As I was rushing to pick up  a few groceries yesterday, the cashier tossed a bag on top of my groceries, and then began checking out the next person, who was looking sour-faced and in a hurry. When did we give up our expectation as consumers to have some quality interaction with the businesses that we give our money to?  When did every person having a pleasant interaction with someone else become a pain in the ass? Oh, darling, that’s easy, it was when you became an asshole.

Our caring civility has slowly eroded over time Even errands have become unpleasant interactions instead of being instances during the day we exchange kindness with people.  We have all become assholes to some extent, consuming, rushing, and being caught up in the necrotic social ideal that the material trumps relationship.

This is part of mid-life clarity. This is part of holding myself to the standard of living and overall health to which I aspire – happiness.

Making my way out of the parking lot of the store yesterday, traffic was impatient with pedestrians and pedestrians with traffic.  Everyone assumes that they come first. Which reminds me of a classic Jimmy Buffett question,

Were you born an asshole? Or did you work at it your whole life?

I do believe that no one is born an asshole. I also believe that you have to work at it to be extraordinary at it. You also have to work to be kind, compassionate and engaged with humanity. Perhaps choosing unwisely is the collective tragic comedy on the stage of life.

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Caregiving & Not Caring At All

twofacedI found him on the floor.

And that’s how our little cozy home changed, for better or worse this year.

I’ve deleted three posts about how awful people are with their criticism and how deep down in my human soul, I hope that karma slaps them in the face. Le sigh….this is where not caring at all becomes spiritual practice, oh, and also letting go of all of that karma’s-gonna-get-you-bullshit.

My home has always been my sanctuary, filled in every nook and cranny with something meaningful, inspiring or fun (including the people in it).

As a writer, caregiving is rife with stories to tell, lessons to be learned and emotion.

One thing I’ve learned is that organized living helps reduce stress during times of crisis. Having some financial wiggle room is essential to being able to stay home and provide care, and self-care is golden. Also, the quality of the company I keep has been revealed as well. That’s right, I’ve heard how you’ve said I don’t need to be here right now. It stung, but I’m over it. Mostly because it says everything about your lack of character and nothing about mine.

Not only have I been indoctrinated into the lack of modesty of my partner, introduced to body fluids that are not my own, and run my chubby little ass off, I have also come to cherish two things dearly; my hours alone after my love has been tucked in and medicated to sleep, and the escape I get with my writing.

I would be lying if I told you that I’m not scared to death about how we’re going to get through this, with complicated issues including fever and infection that I never really thought about. But I would also be lying if I said I’d have it any other way. I belong here right now for the safety of my sweetie, and that is caregiving. Truly not giving a shit about those people who have no empathy, well, that’s going to take some practice…but I”m up for the challenge.

As a writer, I like to think that this experience is enhancing my craft. As a partner, I wish I could trade places and take the pain away. As a friend, frankly I’m relieved to have revealed to me who is true and who is not. My nature is a caregiver…not giving a shit, not so much.

 

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Do Unto Yourself

nap hard

Adulting can be hard, and I do believe that our lifestyle is completely unnatural and contradictory to living in a state of wellness. I do believe that’s why we discovered psychedelic drugs, have legalized cannabis and have access to an encyclopedic variety of alcoholic beverages.  A Nobel prize worthy thought? Not likely, but true nonetheless.

“Sweetheart, why don’t you just curl up and go take a nap?”

Isn’t that what we all wish someone would say once in a while? I fantasize about being  tucked  in nicely with a cozy blankie and then waking up to a freshly steeped cup of tea. Maybe a light back scratch for good measure.

I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if you went to work and your boss said, ” You know, you work hard here, looks like you could use a nice rest. Go take a break in that quiet room there, and I’ll wake you up when it’s time to clock out.”

Or perhaps it’s a coach you might like to take some pity on you during your in-season practice. “Hey ____________ (insert last name here), go get yourself one of those blankets I brought in and show me how hard you can nap.”

But no one does that do they?

for them

Nope. Not unless you’re fortunate enough to go back home to your mom or grandmother and be spoiled for a day or two.  Most of us of a certain age no longer have that luxury. We are the moms and grandmas.

Note to self: buy more wine.

My advice to you is to tuck yourself in; take a nap, take a day off, re-jig your life so that you have regular and consistent opportunities to escape and focus on yourself for an hour or two. Whether it’s seeking comfort in a spiritual community, practicing yoga, going to the gym, or escaping to a coffee shop to read the newspaper on Saturday morning. Choose your nap-from-the-grind style and commit to it.

You are your own boss, coach and primo nurturer – act like it.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The golden rule applies to yourself as well…do unto yourself as you wish others would do unto you. Now go rest!

 

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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.

 

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Worst Case Scenario – Just Take a Nap

free spirit

Recently I had a back-stabbing event. You know, the kind most people finish with in seventh grade?

It got under my skin. At first it upset me, and then I remembered M. Scott Peck’s famous work, People of the Lie.

His work was my first exposure to understanding the age old question, “What the hell is wrong with you?!” The sad truth is that some people cannot accept joy or joyful people. They are suspicious of anyone who isn’t as miserable as them. Darkness always seeks to extinguish the light, and to that I say; shine brightly darlings, don’t pay any attention to the banshees scratching at your back. Carry on and blind them with your dazzling spirit.

I’m too old and lazy for retribution. Besides that, being bitchy is bad for my middle-aged complexion. I’m on the other side of the hill of time now, and I want to enjoy it.

Long ago I decided that when someone was cruel to me, I would not let them win. By win, I mean I would not fall into the trap of doing anything harmful to myself; binge drinking or eating, negative self talk, or not doing something I was looking forward to.

riverIt’s been a great philosophy for me. Often I accomplish a lot of wonderful things when I’m pissed off. Creativity gives me the opportunity to birth something fun and new. Creativity is truly a slap in the face to any demons that hunt us down when we’re vulnerable.

During my quiet time, I have made things, and written things, and tended to my garden. I reclaimed the magic in abandoned ideas. I lived fully and completely in-spite-of,  and sure enough, it has turned into joyful abandon.

Keep writing my darlings. Keep painting and drawing and stitching and singing and dancing and making the world a happy place.  And if you’re just too tired of the bullshit, take a good, long, nap.

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Raising the Veil: When You Meet Her Again

veiled womanI am nothing if not a sensual woman.

I love to taste, touch, smell and enjoy what life has to offer. I like to let the beauty of art, food, sex and the great outdoors seep deep into my bones like water finds the most tiny of cracks and flows inward. A beautiful soul is the reflection of this sensuality, and I want to be effing gorgeous well into my senior years.

But I need to remember that, and honour it.

It’s pretty much mid-August, and we are in the true dog-days of summer. It’s that time of year when you hear so many people saying, “Where did the summer go?”

This will be followed in the fall with the same question about the whole of 2018.  If you’re not careful, this will become the melody of your life-song. A recurring durge of regret.

At the beginning of this year, I made some resolutions for myself, and I’ve ticked off every single box. Since then, some other issues have come to my attention that I need to nurture and breathe life back into.

Friendships of all shapes and sizes come to mind. Friendships, I truly believe, are the living breathing entities that keep us thriving. We should all have hobbies and passions and interests, but for me, it is the company we keep while enjoying these things that makes them memorable and meaningful.

So many women blame their families for taking away their joy, using up their time, and basically social norms and expectations of the female role for hypnotizing them into some kind of being who forgets how to experience joy and ecstasy.

I want to propose a different perspective.

It is only now, a year after my child first moved out, that I am coming to realize how trapped I was in my own mind. How I simply became attached to all that I thought I was supposed to be doing. Days, weeks and months were swallowed up tidying other peoples messes and making sure that there wasn’t a crumb on the counter. It’s like ripping off a bandage when you give in to your own pursuits and desires.

It may feel frightening to acknowledge the creative, sensual woman you have hidden behind a veil all of these years.

When you finally reveal her to yourself, you won’t be able to stop from taking her in the joyful embrace of reunion. You will feast, and you will experience the entire world again with a fresh perspective. Fear will sulk out the door and take a nap so that the wild joy of your passion can dance.

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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.