Abounding Grace & The ‘F’ Word

angrywomanFor months, maybe even years I wrote about how I had observed the incredible life-affirming beauty of grace in action.

I wrote about people overcoming heart-shattering loss, adversity, and hardship with incredible grace; without fists to the sky, without making the lives of those around them miserable, without despair.

I wanted to be able to handle shit that way. I think we all do. What I have discovered is that we don’t necessarily want the practice that it takes to be graceful. In other words, it takes hardship to to learn how to navigate the rough rapids of change with some savvy and style; Without using the ‘F’ word, without letting the shit show shadow all of the other other elements of our lives that we have to be thankful for.

As I have been chronicling in my mid-life-move blog, Andsheshines, (Be sure to subscribe!!!)

I believe I’ve finally leveled up when it comes to coping. You can read about some of my experiences in the great adventure of preparing to empty-nest,  moving in with a man for the first time in two decades, and everything else that goes bump-in-the-night while those stages of life march onward. Time waits for no woman, and I’m going to ride my time like the wild woman that I am.

Apathy: The Emotional Equivalent of Wet Firewood

fireplaceLast night we tried desperately to get some good flame action going with  new firewood. What we realized was that the wood had not been cared for in a way that was conducive to the warm glow that we were hoping for.

Lately I’ve had a few conversations with people about their relationships. As always, my sage stance is that any relationship that is neglected will die; like  wet firewood,  an unwatered flower or like a lemon left to wither in the back of the fridge.

Human beings are wired for connection. Yet, in our twisted culture, we are socialized to fear intimacy. Partnership involves emotional risk and vulnerability. After all, if you can’t be vulnerable with your lover, the one person you ought to trust to be naked with body and soul, well, you likely don’t have a very solid connection. Apathy isn’t sexy. Apathy is your old maiden aunt’s dentures and wig-on-the-nightstand-every-night.

Fabulous women like you and I darling are certainly brave enough to be  vulnerable and to ask for the intimacy that we need. We are not needy enough to stay  if our basic needs are neglected and left to, (shall I say?) wilt. Six months ago I went out on a limb and asked for what I needed. Guess what has happened since?  Keep guessing…

If your ‘parnter’ parts leaving you with all of the times that they’re busy and can’t connect, see it for the big, fat, red flag that it is. And then go do whatever the heck it is that you  want to do.  Do not let someone’s lack of passion inspire insecurity or any other shitty feeling. At this age, we’ve all been through too much to waste time living in the land of ambivalence, apathy and pretentious crappola.

Start saying no to waiting around and yes to not giving a damn.

Now go spark up that fire people, whether it be your own innate wildness, or together with your true love. Some say absence makes the heart grow fonder, but  that’s a lazy excuse; out of sight, out of mind sweetcakes. Carry on!

Sink Or Swim; Nostalgia & a Little Shove

mylifeHolidays tend to make us nostalgic. Thank goodness that they’re officially over for 2015.

I can’t count the number of times that I’ve heard, “2015 was a terrible year“. Wow.

I prefer to frame my year as a deli sandwich. The bread was delicious, but the meat of it was a little sour. In other words, the first and last thirds were great (as in; good enough), but the middle really blew.

How often as children did we say a year was terrible? We didn’t darlings. We just did the 10 second countdown to the new year and moved forward with joyful, curious abandon.

sufferingNow we yearn for the days when life was simple and  we still believed in magic. Friendships and family were taken for granted, and happiness was just on the other side of the screen door.

As adults, we tend to overcomplicate things. ‘Be kind and play fair’, seem to have gotten lost in the big, adult personal ethics playbook. And that just stinks. Because it hurts. Yes, people can be selfish and cruel, but they can also be kind, giving, and lovely to snuggle up with. Naked.

As human beings, we all want to be loved. We all need and want strong friendships, a true love with whom we can  share our most intimate selves , and bourbon. Ok, maybe the last bit is all about me, but whatever.

When we lose ourselves in the fray of losing the one person we fell in love with, we feel broken. I’ve been there. It hurts. It’s scary, and it puts a pretty harsh filter on our vision of the future.

Just this summer, I sat, sobbing on my friend’s front step, while she nursed my broken heart and damaged pride. I felt empty, hopeless, afraid and lost.

We live in a world that prizes the individual and yet makes it impossible to live without the safety net of community, family and friends. Yes, the great Western-way-of-life has unfolded into a wonderful cock-up of psychological dissonance. But what do I know? I’m just a girl after all.

I do know this. The holiday season has seen a lot of falling in and out of love; happy hearts and hearts that have been broken and need time to heal, relationships that are worn thin, or worn out altogether.

The beautifully terrifying part of it all, is that the only way to heal a heart is to live life. The very life that has tossed you like a small boat on a big, angry, ocean, leaving you feeling washed up and broken beyond repair.

Cling to curiosity. Let your friends lead you when you are  blinded by tears. Be wary of the seductive pull of too much sleep, lack of self care, and try to remember how good it feels to laugh after you decide to, ‘fuck it’.

As a quasi-Buddhist-lover-of-Christian-ritual, this speaks to me. You have two choices; get up, dive back into that same unpredictable ocean to wash yourself clean, or wallow in the sand getting burned by the sun and possibly gnawed to death by vicious, exotic fauna.

Sometimes you need a friend to role you back into the ocean. In some cases, you need a friend to drag you, kicking and screaming, back to life. It’s called tough love, and we all need it once in a while.

Nostalgia and wishing for a happily-ever-after is a waste of time.

havetimeYou and I both know that more than anything else, this is true; life is short and precious.

Take the time you need to sit quietly with your broken heart. Don’t run away from it, or deny it what it needs to tell you.  Take your sadness and swaddle it like a helpless infant. As difficult as this may seem, you will see that soon enough, you will be at peace with it.

Weep. Cry. Scream into your pillow…and as you take your last gasp of sobbing breath, get ready for a shove back into the ocean of life.

You’ve always been a beautiful swimmer darling. Always.

 

 

 

Advice for the New Year

IrishBlessing8x10It’s time for the old year to retire.

He’s lounging in a smoking jacket with his slippered feet up, and a tumbler of bourbon to help clear the path of reflection.

New Year’s resolutions have always seemed a little silly, and a lot naïve to me. It’s the same with people who say they’re, ‘finding themselves’ or trying to figure out ‘who they are’.

I don’t make resolutions any more. Not even secret ones just for myself. I simply try to find joy and silliness in every aspect of my life; work, parenting, friendship, love and yes, even housework.

If you are joyful, you become friends with yourself pretty damn quickly. Your body enjoys the kindness and you start eating and exercising  naturally. Your work becomes a calling, and your relationships are a calm ocean where you can relax and refresh yourself.

We are born knowing ourselves. We tend to allow expectation and adulthood fog the landscape. During adolescence we seek approval from people who value meaningless things, and often never grow out of it.

If you’re busy looking for the next ego fix, you certainly can lose track of who you are and what makes your soul smile.

Ah, but not I. I’m one of the lucky ones. Life has rocked my boat and I’ve sprung a few leaks over the years, but I’ve held fast to my convictions and personal ethic.

Being a better person means being  true to yourself, having the courage to do what’s right and not what’s cool.

Wishing you a joyful and peaceful transition into another calendar year. Be good to yourself, and choose joy.

Let the old year finish the bourbon and welcome the beautiful new year as the gracious, happy, loving lady that she is.

 

When Your Best Isn’t Good Enough

IMG_6406I wasn’t going to write tonight.

What I wanted to do was to turn out the lights, curl up in a ball and shut out the world.

What I really wanted to do was to turn out the lights, curl up in a ball with my sweetheart, and shut out the world, possibly hearing those magic, fairytale words, “It’s ok”.

I don’t have a sweetheart to curl up with, and I can’t sleep. Right now, it’s not ok.

You see, today, despite always trying to be kind, loving and the world’s greatest promoter of open communication, I was hurt by two people very dear to me.

Call it what you will; lying, omission, whatever.

Being played for a fool, and not being trusted with emotional content is the emotional equivalent to tunneling through my heart with a grapefruit spoon. It’s messy, and it hurts like hell.

When someone  isn’t honest with me, I figure it’s for one of two very basic reasons; They’re afraid of being judged, or they’re an asshole.

Very few people I care about would fall into the latter category. So that makes me think that it’s something that I’ve done wrong. I must make them feel like I’m critical…They must think I’m stupid…They must be ashamed and are afraid to tell me…I’m a terrible person who makes people feel like they can’t talk to me….

And so it goes. I beat myself up and feel like my best just isn’t good enough. I feel like I’ve failed the people whom I care the most about.

Guilt, sadness and feeling inadequate; The trifecta of feeling like crap. There is never any rejoicing in being lied to or taken for a fool.

I practice what I preach when it comes to matters of the heart. I leave it all out there every day. I don’t miss an opportunity to let someone know I’m thinking of them, and I always, always, always tell them I love them.

Life is, by the way, a matter of the heart. Just in case you forgot what being a human being is all about and have mistaken it for a game of who can acquire the most stuff, the quality of your character matters, not the quality of your clothing.

I know that being able to open yourself to love is the cost of being loved. In other words, if you put it all out there, like I do, it’s a risk. But it’s a great risk. If you don’t allow yourself to be seen (in the spiritual sense), you don’t allow yourself to be loved, nurtured, or to grow in the warm light of relationship.

As my humble roots might mutter, “If you half-ass it, you’ll get half-assed results”.

For wearing my heart on my sleeve, I’ve had it beaten up, mocked and treated like hell.  It’s a tough old heart, but it’s just as tender on the inside as it was when I was a school girl with the school girl crush, and that’s the way I plan on keeping it.

After all, if you don’t put it out there, the right people will never be able to capture and care for it.

When your best isn’t good enough, it’s ok to be sad, to cry, to feel alone, and to dig your heels in and battle on in the name of all that you believe to be good and true.

 

Top Ten List – We’re Not So Different After All

200276829-001This morning, as I sipped my coffee with Willie Nelson cat perched with his paws on the window sill and his bum next to my shamrock, I  scanned my social media pages as usual.

Silliness has a way of captivating me. I crave it like I crave long, solid hugs and deep wet kisses. Silliness is ageless, does not care what your hair looks like, and certainly doesn’t worry about whether or not your socks match.

So, this Tuesday, a day that always proves that life is like a jester, full of surprises and harsh reflections, I give you a rebuttle of a Top Ten list that expounded on the ‘Top Ten’ things that women do wrong in bed. Pul-eaze!

1) Not grooming – that includes your face gentlemen, and that mess of bushy pubes you’re so terribly afraid of giving some style to. Don’t mercilessly hack away at it. Go get it groomed by a professional like we do. If your wee-wee resembles King Lear raging on the stormy heath, we will stay away. Let me also point out your toe-nails. We notice. In fact, poorly groomed feet have hampered one recent rendez-vous pour moi. I must say that this ties in to point number four about not shaving your legs, but a man wrote this, and I think he actually had difficulty coming up with a total of ten things we ladies do wrong.

2) Sex in the dark. We’re visual creatures too you goons. Throw us some candlelight in your disgusting man-caves.

3)Leaving birth control up to her. Are you serious? Whomever created this man’s list is delusional. What right-thinking woman would ever leave this up to a man? Ah yes, and what right-thinking man wouldn’t come prepared with a stash of first-class condoms that he prefers???  Grow up.

4) Not shaving your legs. Ok gentlemen, please don’t shave your legs, or your back or your chest. It just leaves you picky and feeling like we’re snuggling shoreline scrub.Groom thyself to be a snuggly, lickable piece of man loveliness.

5) Laying there like a flounder. God no. There is nothing worse than a man bouncing on the matress and spreading out like a sultan ready to be serviced. Ick. If you put your hand on the back of our heads for a little mouth to mouth with sir-dribbly- bits, forget it. Especially if you have toenail issues. Barf. Go get a hooker.

6) Using Cosmo as a sex bible. First of all gents, if you date a woman who has yet to graduate to Vogue or the New Yorker, you get what you pay for. P.S. we suggest you don’t use porn as your sex bible. Use it just enough to let us know you care about your performance, and use your own imagination just enough to let us know you’re a thinking man. Smart is sexy after all gentlemen.

7) Expecting her to cuddle. Amen and hallelujah! Do not assume you are EVER spending the night. Call a cab, take the bus or put on your walking shoes until you’ve successfully completed level one darling. Don’t leave your toothbrush.

8) Making her responsible for your orgasm. Well, we like to make you happy, so I’m going to adapt this one. Don’t have an orgasm like a baby bird, with a little chirp and go limp. Give it some gusto gents, like the man we know you are.

9)Assuming sex means love. See number 7.

10) It’s not that easy, men are not machines. You don’t say. Neither are we. I guess we’re not quite that different after all.

Another Reason to Be Grateful

"If you cannot find a good companion to walk with, walk alone like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress." ~Unknown~

“If you cannot find a good companion to walk with, walk alone like an elephant roaming the jungle. It is better to be alone than to be with those who will hinder your progress.”
~Unknown~

I’m nothing if not up for a little adventure. I believe in nurturing curiosity, being open to new experiences and meeting new people. I believe in letting the Universe know what I want.

I’m also getting used to the “Universe’s” twisted sense of humour.

I’m so tired of the twists and turns and encouragement to ‘be specific’ about the utterances and vibes that I give off, I’m tempted to switch from being a half-assed agnostic-Buddhist-left-wing-conservative-hippie, and start praying once again to the old Burn-In-Hell-Baptist-Old-Testament-God that I snuggled up with every night as a child.

Just kidding. I do not need an overbearing passive aggressive male figure in my life.

As you may have guessed, I have lived my life much by the seat of my pants, and it has been good. Good as in; I have cultivated friendships with good people, I have known the company of good men, and I’ve worked really hard at my academic and professional accomplishments. I also have pretty eyes and my legs aren’t that bad either.

...OR NOT....

…OR NOT….

So, it was with great confidence that I decided much like my professional life and parenting, I would put a strategic plan in place and execute it in such a way that outcomes could be measured and goals achieved when it came to finding love.

Sexy, I know darlings, but an intelligent woman is often heart-stopping to like-intellectually-gifted men.

Earlier today I arranged to meet Blind Date #1. Let me cut the story short in case you don’t have a lot of time; Today will also be the day that marks the end of my strategic dating plan for 2015.

Since Blind Date #1 had jumped into the deep end of the dating pool, and clearly needed to stay in the swamp, I have come up with a list of suggestions for gentlemen pursuing their potential one-and-only.

1) Teeth are important. That I even have to mention this makes me puke in my mouth a little bit. If a woman has to strain herself to make sure you do indeed have a solid set of upper central and lateral incisors, you likely should either A – ensure she has been afforded the courtesy of  a good full frontal Eric-Estrada-quality-smile photo of you prior to agreeing to a date, or B – seek the support of a cosmetic dentist. Since not everyone can afford a good dentist, and not every woman is totally turned off by toothless suitors, I suggest the less-expensive of the two above options.

2) Disclosing stomach ailments including vomiting and as my granny used to call it, “a good case of the shits”, is highly unlikely to score you a second date, or even another five minutes.

3) If you visibly tremble when meeting people for the first time, get therapy sweetie, because it makes it awkward for the lady you’re trying to impress. If you are shaking and have already disclosed number two (no pun intended), just turn around and leave. We don’t need an explanation.

4) No one expects to meet a man with a wallet as thick as Donald Trump, but we do not want to hear how difficult it is for you to pay your rent. If that’s the case, you should not be asking ladies out on a date. You should meet at the library or park.   Do not pass go, do not collect the two hundred dollars you need to make the rent and do not call, text or communicate any further. Just slither on out with the pathetic skin you came in with. Special note to ladies; do not feel guilty and pay the guy’s rent. Go get yourself a new pair of shoes and recognize your developing discerning wisdom.

5) Telling a woman you need a woman in your life is like giving them a front-seat tour through the main street of Red-Flag City.  We all need companionship, we’re just not all needy. Like you.

6) If on a blind date you do not hit it off, crying before you leave is just the most miserable kind of awkward.

Should you choose to make a mis-step and fall prey to any one of the above no-no’s, rest assured that you need to seek immediate professional help. I’m not being sarcastic, and I’m not joking.

If you think dating is going to solve your emotional, psychological, physical or financial problems, you need to stop and cultivate the wonderful person you have the potential to be. No one can do this for you sweetheart, so don’t waste our time. That’s what friends and therapists are for.

If nothing else, meeting a man who succumbed to all six boo-boo’s within fifteen minutes of meeting has made me extremely grateful, not to mention feeling my skin-crawl.

According to the Urban Dictionary gratitude means; The quality or feeling of being grateful or thankful.  It is also the instruction of much of today’s pop-psychology hoo-ha preaching happiness. What tends to get left out is how much slogging through hard times has to do with learning about real gratitude.

Long story short, today I was reminded to be grateful that I am a woman with enough discernment to know when the universe is chuckling and shaking its head. I know what I need to be doing, and it’s not spending time on blind-dates planning an exit strategy.

No darlings, we have way too much to offer the world to waste our time like that.