Why I Open My Door At Thanksgiving

give thanks…because I’m truly grateful for the abundance of friends in my life.

My Thanksgiving celebrations are always potluck, jeans and t-shirt style. I put on the turkey, and everyone else brings something to share. That way no one has to do a lot of work and I’m not too stressed out to enjoy my friends.

Potluck is also a good conversations starter; Mmm! I love this! Who made it? What’s the recipe?….and the conversation goes on from there.

That’s what life is about.

I’ve been through hell and back as a child and as a young woman. Throughout all of it, I’ve had wonderful friends who are each, in their own way, unique and perfect.

Holiday times used to be sad for me, lonely even . I was often new in town, without family, and I felt very alone. As time went on, my new friendships deepened, and although I went through times of despair and loneliness, my friends would always show up in ways that helped me understand what was really important.

So at Thanksgiving, many people are caught up in family tug-of-wars about who goes where and who is hosting what. Or, maybe they have no family at all.

Autumn is the time of year when we start turning inward. The changing colour of the leaves wave us into shorter days and cooler nights. We cozy up inside, in big sweaters and under cozy blankets. We begin the journey into a season often spiritually described as one of mystery and hope.

I open my door at this time of year so that friends have a place to come and relax. My friends are my family, and I love them all.

I don’t have much, but I hope I offer a safe space to be yourself, laugh, and be nourished; both body and soul.

 

 

 

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Vulnerability vs. Stupidity

mice and cat

 

Facebook was kind enough to send me a memory from a year ago.  I must have shared this while feeling rather on-top-of-the-world and likely somewhat smug about it all. Mea Culpa.

vulnerable

I do agree with the statement – Wholeheartedly, but today I feel much differently about my vulnerability than I did then.

I’m feeling rather stupid. You know, that lovely nausea inducing feeling of shame and embarrassment. I absolutely believe in vulnerability, and generally, when it comes to little things, like asking for help at work or sharing my  experiences with someone down and out to help them feel better, I’m good at it.

But the big things I’ve been vulnerable with have come back to bite me in the ass. Instead of feeling safe, secure and loved, I feel ashamed. I feel worse off, and the weight of the world is now resting on my shoulders way more heavily than it did a year ago.

It begs the question of how we know when to expose our bellies to a world full of people with emotional swords.  The answer is something we all know; we don’t, we never will, and it’s always a risk.

Years ago I thought that it was worth the cost, you know, all of that hokey nonsense about in order to receive great love, we need to take great risks. At this age,  I’m not so sure any more. I kind of like the idea of curling up in a big ball and keeping my war-weary heart safe and sound.

Weigh whom you share your weaknesses, needs and dreams with. Be as sure as you can that they will honour you where you are  most fragile.

Wishing you  great friends who will cherish your vulnerability, and in turn, trust you with theirs. Kindness, kindness, kindness. May it reign.

Mean People Suck: Don’t Let Them Suck the Life Out of You

ugly buzzardNice and mean. Two simple words not often given enough credit for how important they are.

Nice matters. Mean sucks.

Today I’m going to be writing about mean, because recently someone has taken all of the vulnerability I shared with them, and been very mean.

In the past 24 hours I have been told that my friends and family are crazy. That’s pretty damn mean when the person spewing bile knows that mental health struggles that have gone on due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse throughout my family and friends lives.  The security of my home has  been threatened and I’ve been told some nasty, nasty things from a person who was dear to me.

But I’ve done mean. I survived it in my childhood home, in the workplace and even relationships. Which is to say, that my ability to overcome it is great. In other words, when someone is mean, the only thing I know that I can do is to disengage, and enter survival mode.

And how much fun is that? It isn’t. And I’m too old for this shit quite frankly. I’m due for some free-spirited, joyful living, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

When someone shows me how ugly their spirit really is, I choose not to invest my time or energy there. After all, I’ve got more important shit to do, like create a non-fiction masterpiece, and have wine-soaked discussions with kindred spirits. Fuck mean.

If you’re out there with someone who is a nasty little troll, whether it ‘s at home, at work, at school or in the community, try your best to disengage. Try your best to identify the hardest times to control your reaction. Focus on what you love; your art, your job, your pet, your kids, your daily walk around the block….

beautiful birdMean sucks.

Remember, mean belongs to the person spewing hate. It doesn’t belong to you, so don’t carry it. Take a deep breath, envision yourself surrounded by light which protects you from anyone else’s bullshit, and step forward into your own life.

 

 

The Downward-Dog-In-Heat Down-Low

make time for yourselfI’m going to answer your burning questions about my introduction to hot yoga; yes, I survived.

That in itself is success.

In an attempt to come up with some sort of healthy schedule in light of my new empty nest status, I have signed up for a month of hot yoga, hoping that I love it enough to make it a habit.

Empty-nesting has left a hole in my life where all of  my put-off self care needs to go.

So, I started at my local yoga place. The greeting at the door at Moksha Yoga was not a spiritual-community-greeting.  It was extremely clear that the sinewy, dewy-faced, blonde-haired  twenty something behind the counter was running a business.   After years of meditation practice, temple visits (and spa visits…), I get it.

Although I arrived very early, she was all about the rules. I might suggest that for identified first-time visitors, that business warm up their hellos. I’m pretty outgoing, so it didn’t deter me, but for others who are coming in,  carrying more anxiety and fear, it would certainly make the experience much more attractive.

A few folks that I know helped me choose an outfit that would not be sloppy and inhibit my movements; a sports bra, tank and pair of yoga pants. I took two towels, a water bottle, and rented a mat as I tossed my old one during my recent move. AmazonPrime will save me within 36 hours with a new one.

Hair: the bain of my feminine existence. I clipped my naturally ringlet tight curls up and added a sports band for good measure. After class I looked like I was making a  half-assed attempt at blonde dreadlocks but, whatever.

joy in livingThe class slowly filled in at the last minute, and I eased back into my position on the mat which I hadn’t made time for in at least five years.

It was hot, and I was wise choosing a reduced-heat class. I survived, and felt refreshed at the end of class. Even joyful.

I will be back.

 

 

First Day of School for Parents of Intelligent Boys

backtoschool

You will cry, and they might cry,  but everyone will be fine.

Trust me, I know this.

He will be curious. His first report card will subtly let you know that he talks… A LOT.

He will be bored – because you taught him his ABC’s, and how to write and colour and explore. For this you will be rewarded with years of him finishing his work early and wiggling around in class, likely getting into things, and making you worry he’s going to end up in jail.

He won’t.

Your boy will comfort others who are struggling, and get away with all of the activity he can.

And all of this because you loved him like crazy before our world was ready to tame him.

Stay strong mom and dad. He will be just fine, and so will you.

Tailgating Moms:Not Who You Think We Are

tailgate banner

When my son was younger, I was running helter-skelter trying to try and get him here and there, barely managing to make ends meet, but encouraging his athleticism. I had little time to socialize with other parents, but enjoyed their company while I sat in the stands and watched. I lived for our stinky drive home, and hearing all about the highs and lows of his game.

Today he is a scholarship player and represents our country on the national team. I go to his games, but I drive home without him.

My job now is to love unconditionally as mom’s do, and stay out of his hair.

The Parents-of-Players group at his school was surely developed by some mom-genius, who, like me, missed her kiddo more than anything, but realized the need to leave him the heck alone. Leave him the heck alone – yes, but still be there when he needs to look up and know at least one person is cheering him on.

And thus my tale of parent tailgating begins.

This morning I got up, prepared to cook,  before heading out on a roadtrip to support my boy and his team.

Thanks to the ridiculously photogenic food on Pinterest, I decided to make mini-corn-dog poppers and puff-pastry taco bites. Both seemed like good finger-food options, and anything that keeps me busy as I adjust to an empty nest is a good thing.

I set out this morning chopping weiners and rolling pastry.


I’m not sure whether the mini-corn-dog muffins look more like buttholes or nipples, and furthermore, I’m not sure a food label Bum-Bites or Nipple-Nips would help their popularity or my place in the hierarchy of respectable parents. The taco bites ballooned into something much larger than I expected.

I’m a little disappointed in my contribution to the party, but determined.

As the parent of a first year player, I’ve been welcomed with open arms into this group, who are teaching me how to celebrate the letting go, and next year, I want to be able to do the same for another first-year mom.

I have my second-hand red pants ready to wear, my ‘mom’ jacket and my air horn ready to go, along with the lawn-chairs, banner, flags and blankets.

Being around other parents proud to be part of their children’s lives is a joy.  Tailgating moms are not the hard-core, screaming fans you think they are. They are moms, with hearts as big and generous as the sky.

 

 

 

Buy & Sell

wicker chairRecently I was introduced to a phenomenon that I was completely unfamiliar with; the on-line community of Buy & Sell.

For about two weeks I was obsessed. I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning, fascinated by the crap that people were posting for sale; furniture, baby clothes, shoes, toiletries and other things that I thought most people just donated when they got tired of it.

On-line buy and sell is the hunting and gathering of our times. I wonder if it’s fulfilling some ancient drive to be self-sufficient that we lost after being turned into mere cogs in the capitalist machine?

I could not believe that someone would actually go to the bother of arranging a meet-up to pay for the same soap you can buy at the store. And besides that, who wants to rub stuff all over their body that someone else has cracked open…I’m talking about toiletries here folks, get your mind out of the gutter.

So I gave it a try. I was reprimanded for donating clothing that I myself had posted to see if the on-line system worked. I was accused of teasing other users with my selfish way of donating since one person in the group was offering me $1.

You can imagine my response to the administrator’s accusation of ‘teasing’. I could just picture her with her laptop perched on kitchen table of her two-million dollar Etobicoke home surrounded by the loneliness of Stepford-Stay-At-Home-Wifedom. Pul-eaze darling! Take your one dollar, pseudo-group-policing badge and stick it where the sun don’t shine. I’m quite happy knowing that my suits are being used by women trying to better themselves.

On a more positive note, I did have some adventures. While waiting outside a strip mall for a lady named Dee-Dee who was going to sell me a new vaccuum for twenty bucks, my son brought it to my attention that  the whole ordeal was, ‘sketch’. As in shady as hell. The vacuum being the equivalent of a chocolate bar used to lure middle-aged women into the abductor van of life.

My son leaned against the back of my bumper-stickered car and licked his ice-cream cone, “Look Mom, if some weirdo shows up and gives you a hard time, I’m not really sure I’m prepared to fight.” About five minutes later, a beige mini van with two septuagenarians pulled up and we cordially exchanged cash for the vacuum. “Sketch, mom. Totally sketch.”

I sent my boyfriend on a mission to buy a rug, which I somehow linked to the awesomeness of the-rug-that-tied-the-room-together in the Big Lewbowski.

giphy

My man-friend did not perceive the ;same, high level of coolness as I did. As a matter of fact, he was kinda pissed at me. Until he saw the rug.

Then there was the wicker chair that my son accurately described as smelling like old lady and wet cigarette butts. A little vinegar and water wash and some airing out, and it’s as good as new – the chair, not the old lady.

And then there’s the giant bean-bag chair that I have been coveting on-line for a year. It’s $400, but I managed to buy one for $50 that was never used. I smelled this one before I bought it though. Old lady is much harder to rinse out of a bean bag chair than wicker.

I have always been a donation gal. If it no longer serves a purpose in my home, it gets packed in a box and dropped at the nearest donation drop-off. I believe that someone out there needs it more than me, and I want them to have access to it.  I also believe that I like the idea of making a little extra cash too, especially from items that I over-spent on, and never really use.

Perhaps that’s what it’s all about; Easing our consciousness of how much crap we consume, and how it actually diminishes the quality of our lives.

Maybe that’s why it enraged someone so very much that I had the gall to snub the one dollar offer, and the tank of gass I’d use to meet the cheapskate. The idea that I would rather donate my stuff to someone in need takes away from the glory of the almighty dollar.

 

 

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.

Making Space: The Genius of Silence

coffee lakePractice makes perfect.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied upon this little nugget of wisdom as a parent when my kiddo whines about not being able to do something. My response has always been; “How do you think I got so good at it? Practice makes perfect; get to it.

Yesterday I was anxious. The kind of anxious that feels like you have a thousand bees buzzing in  your head telling you all of the things you need to do, have to worry about, and can’t control. I was miserable; inside and outside.

Fortunately for me, I had a few hours of quiet time at the end of the day .Quiet for me is heaven. Quiet in the morning gives me time to meditate, and to take in just how fortunate I am.  It’s never a process whereby I sit cross-legged on a cushion wearing a mala made in Bali or a tunic made of hemp. No. It’s simply sitting with my thoughts.

Last night, in the quiet of solitude, I was able to spend some time reading the words of Thich Nhat Hanh.   It reminded me that my practice is not perfect. Far from it in fact. Just because I studied at the temple, attended dharma classes and go to silent retreats does not mean that my meditation muscle is exempt from a good workout on a regular basis.

As adults, we forget that our health as a whole is something that we need to practice on a regular basis.

It’s time for me to make space for some of the books and advice that I’ve gotten in the past. It’s time to make an effort again putting theory into practice.

It’s time for the genius of silence, and for my practice of peace to become a little bit more perfect.

Work: The Soul-Sucking Reality of Adulthood

giphyDo you remember what it was like to take the first baby steps in your career? How great it felt to take a step toward what you’d worked so hard for in school, and on the bottom rungs of the grunt-work-we-suffered-through-it-so-you-must-suffer-through-it-load-of-sadistic-bullshit-ladder?

Oh sure, for a while in your twenties and thirties you feel like you’re going somewhere, and then after forty – BOOM- it’s like hot-tub-fucking-time-machine.

You’re back in high school.

Nobody likes to wake up to an alarm, battle traffic and then be told what to do all day. That’s why they call it work, and that’s why you get paid to do it. Keeping yourself busy throughout the day is a good thing. Keeping yourself busy all day surrounded by egomaniacs is not.

And that’s what’s wrong with the world.

It’s not a competition folks. It’s life. It’s short, and it’s precious and it’s way better if you’re kind to one another.  Take these words of wisdom that I shared with my son during dinner tonight, and heed them well;

Ask for help if you need it. People are always happy to help, unless they’re douchebags.

…and really, life is too short for egotistical douchebags…

For instance, this morning I received a text from a friend who was down because they had been really mistreated at work. Beginning a new contract, they were not given the courtesy of being told in advance that there would be a later starting date, or that their title had changed.

The only realistic conclusion with regard to this matter is that the boss is an egotistical turd.

We all need to make a living. It doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are, your single goal ought to be kindness.  The true measure of a human being is always how they treat others, how they contribute positively to the environment that they are in. I’m a firm believer in using everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to the advantage of the day, and the purpose of our work.

There is no psychic room in our lives for petty maneuvers that inflate  ego, especially in the work place.

giphy1If you are in an environment of Douchedom at work  where kindness does not reign as Queen, may I suggest a few things?

  1. 1. Find solace in little things that you can focus on without anyone thinking you’re some kind of spiritual numpty.  For instance, a quirky little saying pinned to your board, a small photo of your next dream vacation, a stone from your favourite walking trail.
  2. Meditate on your beverage. Yes. It’s perfectly acceptable to have some sort of sipper at your station or desk, so put it in a container that brings you joy. Not a flask ( as much as a good snort of gin might feel mid-day). A pretty tea cup or a bright bottle. Whatever. Just remind yourself that you are taking care of you, and that a-hole-ego-maniac-ass-hat-of-a-co-worker can just sip on their own negative swamp water, because you are not having any of that poison.
  3. Before you lose your cool, quietly ask yourself, ” Who do you think you’re talking to”?  Take a deep breath, look directly into their eyes, smile, say “I see”, very calmly, and carry on doing exactly what you were before you were interrupted, attempted to be made a fool of, or lorded over. Carry. On.
  4. Use your commute to de-stess. Don’t call your bestie to bitch. Don’t text. Don’t drive in silence. Crank some feel-good music, roll the windows down, and envision all of the bad shit being blown away. Begin the transition to that hot soak in the tub, the novel you have beside the bed, or the long walk you’re going to take. Do not let bad mojo at work steal any more of your energy.
  5. Change before you leave the office. Change your whole outfit, change your shoes…whatever, just change something to symbolically get out of your ‘uniform’.
  6. Freshen up. That’s right. Twice a day go to the loo and fluff your hair, wipe your boob sweat, re-apply lipstick, pull up your socks, put cold water on your face….be creative, but come out refreshed.
  7. Look for a new job. I’m being serious. Even if you don’t really want to leave what you’re doing, it helps to know that there’s always other stuff out there. It was a piece of advice given to me by my mumster and it works. Knowing there’s gainful employment away from a bad environment helps strengthen your resolve to make it work, whether it’s from the desk you’re sitting at, or at  a new one.
  8. Accept that sometimes, no matter how great the calling, we do not find our joy in the workplace.  For instance, I find my joy in writing, reading, attending my kiddo’s sporting events, camping and even running. These are  great joys…small joy at work is a beautiful calendar, a dainty tea-cup, a smooth writing pen, having self control and coming up with witty comebacks in my own mind…If work is your joy, you do not have time to participate in pettiness. You only have time to become better at your craft. Keep your head down, your mouth shut and go for the gusto.
  9. Be nice. Have a candy dish at your desk, ask about somebody’s pet, kids or spouse. Be human and available. Don’t be the raincloud that dulls down the office. At the very least, on bad days, keep to yourself and enjoy your tea.
  10. Laugh. At yourself, at the douchebag who thinks they’re a big-shot, at everything. Just fucking laugh, because that my darling ones, is what life is all about.