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.
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Go Get It

Just a reminder to everyone out there who has a partner, friend or employer who diminishes your desires.

Speaking from experience, I refuse to wait on someone who treats my needs like a hassle. Go out and get what you want; the intimacy, the coffee, the job…

timeforwhattheywant

Hump Day Hilarity: Because Sometimes You Just Need to Lighten Up & Laugh

The Swedish Chef makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s right up there with King Julien, the other intellectual stimulation I sometimes seek after particularly stressful days.

I send this out with a heart full of love and a wish to hear your laughter ring out amid the crappola that can be the middle of the work-week.

Have fun people, and don’t forget that just because you’re an adult does not mean you can’t be silly.

Things Not Meant For You; Do We Ever Really Know?

Life is like one of those teachers who scare the living daylights out of you, but earns your respect for life.

This year, Life has offered me many opportunities to say good-bye.

Early this year, I tacked this little saying to my fridge.not meant for you

Grace and discernment are two qualities that I’ve become very conscious of during the past year or so. Little did I know when I tacked that little nugget of wisdom to the fridge, that I would turn to that saying over and over again, especially the, “…how gracefully you let go of things not meant for you.

That’s a hard one. Mostly because we’re never really sure, are we darlings? Grace is one thing, but the discernment to know what or whom is meant for you is an entirely different ball game. It’s like you prepare for a game of football, and show up to find out that you’re playing badminton.

Life is a wonderful journey filled with surprises. The trick is to be able to stay curious and hopeful when the future remains unclear.

What I’ve learned about good-byes are that many of them are not really good-byes, they’re more like, ‘see you later’s’, or, ‘bye for now’s’.

Even the good-byes we look forward to are often just temporary absences until we’re presented with something from the past that needs some more attention. As we grow up, mature, and reach out, our worlds become smaller as we meet more and more people.

Death, break-ups, and career changes. I’ve experienced them all this year, and the fat lady of 2015 hasn’t finished singing yet.

Wishing you the grace to let go of the things that aren’t meant for you, and the ability to let go of trying to figure out if they really were.

Breathe in, breathe out, move on.

~Jimmy Buffett~

A Guide to Achieving the Perfect Life

daring adventure or nothingPerhaps there’s been a huge cosmic shift in energy, maybe we’ve had some rare planetary eclipse, or maybe it’s just the big old world shaking us up a bit to remind us that nothing is as it seems and everything changes. You see, I can’t seem to understand what the heck happened this week in Andshelaughs land.

Just when I think I have it all figured out, somebody shakes the snowglobe and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

When I was a kid, I used to see adults and think how nice it would be when I finally had my life together. Ha! Anyone over 30 knows how much of an illusion ‘having it all together’ really is. Throughout  years of helping people during crisis, I have come to realize that we never, ever have our lives together in such a way that we are immune to change.

Often change can cause suffering and pain; anxiety, addiction, grief, fear, or  tightly woven combination of all of those emotions. If you can make your way through it, keeping fear at bay, and even a tiny flame of hope burning, change can be the best thing that happens to you.

This week, I had a number of conversations that were difficult, enlightening, and even shocking. People I assumed to be sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful demonstrated qualities just the opposite of that, and others, surprised me by crawling out of the dark-ages and exposing excellent quality of character.

Because the conversations were not what I expected (expectation is such a fickle bitch anyway) they made me think. Hard. Should I have said that? Should I have kept silent? Can I trust you? Who cares...

fancy dark chocolateThe bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter. Most of our big decisions in life come about as a result of something we never expected.

So I’ve decided to sit back and watch. Wait and not wait; carry on. See what happens. Go with the flow. Dream. Hope, and even laugh a little at it all.

Life will always roll like waves on the ocean, sometimes smooth, sometimes rough, and every once in a while there will be a rogue wave that knocks you down, pulls you under, and spits you out, disoriented but with a fresh perspective.

The only time we ever have life under control is when we can sit back, breathe deeply and accept that life changes. When you are aware of your reactions, you can actually stop reacting, and remain calm, observant and cultivate a deep sense of who you are and what you need to do.  In the mean time, there’s champagne; bourbon if it’s serious.

Work Schmirk

Computer cubicles inside the Digital and Multi...

Computer cubicles inside the Digital and Multimedia Center (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

WORK – noun, adjective, verb, worked or wrought/ working.

noun
1. Exertion or effort directed to produce or accomplish something; labour; toil.
Work, you know what I’m talking about right? That  nebulous, mundane thing that folks talk about doing every day?  The stuff you do to pay your bills and take your bi-annual much-deserved vacations?
Work – the very thing that makes some of you wonderful little plums dread Monday morning.
We all work. Whether it’s around the house, or in the yard, or on something we take up as a hobby. Perhaps it’s even your 9-5 pay-cheque gathering activity darling.
Of all the things people say about ‘work’, I think that this quote by the brilliant poet Charles Bukowski describes it best;
How in the hell could a person enjoy being awakened at 6:30am by an alarm clock, leap out of bed, dress,  force feed, shit, piss, brush teeth and hair, fight traffic, to get to a place where essentially you made lots of money for somebody else and were asked to be grateful for the opportunity to do so?
I have met people who complain about their suffering because they have chosen long commutes over time with their young families. I have also met people who chose to ‘work’ as little as possible and pursue their happiness elsewhere.
Ideally, we all get the opportunity to work at something we find meaningful and feel passionately about.
At the very least we should all work just enough to be able to have time and resources to pursue our great loves; Family, Spirituality and Art.
Stay fabulous my delicate peaches, and don’t let work dull your sparkle.

Powerful Beyond Measure

Prosperity. Abundance. Hope. Joy.

joy

joy (Photo credit: Ganesh K S)

This has been a daily mantra of mine for quite some time.

Without feeling very prosperous, with a lack of abundance, hope and joy, these four simple words became part of my everyday waking, meditation and my nighttime routine as I threw off the garment of 2012 and headed exposed and vulnerable into 2013.

At midnight, as I toasted my friends, I also silently toasted the success I was sure to find as 2013 rolled on. I vowed that I would look back on 2013 as a year of positive change and transition.

So, we’re just beyond half-way into 2013.  Last night, as I settled in to a bench along the lakeside trail to watch the sunset, I thought of a quote from Marianne Williamson’s, A Return to Love; Reflections on the Principles of A Course in Miracles;

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.”

You see, as I walked the lake trail, my wondering at the beauty of nature was interrupted by a pesky anxious thought, “Holy bourbon Batman, next weekend I’m flying solo.” At work that is.  My mind began to race about all the things that I felt less than confident about, and I panicked a bit. I went over a checklist of things ‘to-do’ on Monday morning and then I went over it again about five more times.

Five kilometers later, as I settled in on a bench, the sunset glowed a soft orange-pink over the lake.

Ten years ago, if you would have asked my capped and gowned graduating self which company I dreamed of working for, and what job I wanted to have, this would have been it.  In fact, I remember telling myself that in ten years, this is where I would be. After a bit of a detour, here I am.

Wondering at the beauty of the sunset and getting back to the simple mindfulness meditation of breathing, I realized that I was not afraid of failure. Failure is not, and has never been an option for me.

I realized darlings, that I was somewhat afraid of success.  I was thinking, ” Who am I to be successful?”. When really, the question is, “Who am I not to be?”.

My work is and always has been a call to service.  When most folks are complaining about the tedium of the mundane, I feel energized.  How can I not be successful when I work with love and the belief way down  deep in my fabulous little heart, that what I’m doing for others is ‘good’ work?

Always remember my sweet, tender little plums, you were born to thrive. You were born to be successful, and you are naturally fabulous just the way you are.

Breathe deeply, and hold your head up high as you step out into the light my lovelies. Make every day a great one, and for those days that are a little less than terrific….God gave us champagne!!!

 

 

 

 

Unanswered Prayers

Whew!

Whew! (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

You know the words to that now classic Garth Brooks song right? “Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers.” If you don’t, you should.

Today I had yet another reminder that unanswered prayers are as much a blessing as the ones that are answered.

Whomever, or whatever you pray to, I believe it’s as important to acknowledge the unanswered prayers with grace and gratitude as it is to give thanks when you receive a wonderful blessing.

Generally, if you look back at the things that didn’t work out, you’re pretty happy right?

I think of the last ‘longer term’ relationship I had. Whew! That was a close call, he almost managed to smother my fabulous, vibrant, flamboyant, self. Imagine the horror of losing such a fine lady to the abyss of badboyfrienddom. I thank my lucky stars!

Not one, but two of my prospective career moves were halted at the last-minute. Just in time, as it turns out, to save me from leaping into a position that was terminated just months (and in one case days) later. Whew! Thank you universe!

Although it hasn’t been received with applause, I have avoided the ‘c’ word (commitment) since my last relationship, resulting in deeper friendships, and a lot more fun.

Commitment isn’t a bad thing sweeties, but it is with the wrong partner.

In a couple of cases it was not divine intervention, or the universe reflecting my own positive energy, or the great hand of God smiting mine enemies. No. It was my very own decision-making.

I did not dial after half a bottle of bubbly. I did not let him spend the night (always best to wake up on your own time isn’t it gals?). I did not accept dates that I knew would end in heartbreak for he or I. I did not decline advice, or offers of support.

I did dream. I did take care of myself (body and soul my sweet peaches). I launched a plan and followed it step by step. I’m still following it. After all, life is a journey.

Huh? Hmm? Am I blessed with unanswered prayers, or just a new, rejuvenated sense of self and purpose?

Hard to say, but just in case, I am thanking the universe for all of my unanswered prayers. I’ll do my best to listen to what the universe is trying to tell me.

For any of you struggling with something that didn’t happen for you, rest assured, in a few days, weeks, months, or even years, you will look back and be grateful.

International Women’s Day

" I would like to be known as an intelligent women, a courageous woman, a loving woman, and a woman who teaches by being."~Unkown~

” I would like to be known as an intelligent women, a courageous woman, a loving woman, and a woman who teaches by being.”
~Unkown~

Women’s Day. Hmm?

I can hear all of the skeptics out there cynically muttering, “What about Men’s day?”

I’m sorry gentlemen, but my tissues are for the next generation of men who have to reconsider gender roles as women surpass them in education, professional accomplishment and financial independence.

Men’s day, at least from my North American, First world perspective, has been happening every day since the colonies were established. Alas, the pendulum is indeed swinging my darlings, in ways as interesting and multi-faceted as Cole Porter lyrics.

I could site facts and numbers about women still being under-paid, under-hired, and over worked. But I’m not going to do that. I don’t need to prove anything to anyone who still needs convincing.

Today I want to talk about the women in my life, of my generation who blossomed into full-blown ‘womanhood’ during a time when having it all was the ideal.

Not only were we pressured to pursue professional careers, we are still expected to maintain beautiful homes, cook nutritious meals, and mother in an overbearing and perfect way.

Oh, not to mention, in certain circles, we’re still expected to hunt down and trap that elusive breed of male who have educations and incomes better than our own. Are you serious???

My own neurosis of not being a stay at home mother and creating the illusion of the perfect Martha Stewart home versus my guilt over not contributing significantly in a financial way to the family, ruined my marriage. Well, that and a few other things.

I am one of very few women whom I know who are happily single and don’t feel pressure to bake cupcakes for the school/sports/band bake sale that look like something Marie Antoinette ordered.

My independence and devil-may-care attitude came at a high psychological price. For years I battled with guilt, and the seemingly two diabolically opposed personas fighting for air time.

Women often compare themselves to one another; their men, their children, their waistlines, and their mortgages. For many years in my twenties and very early thirties I felt like a failure.

Not only did I not have a husband, but I was divorced. Imagine that horror my little sweets! I rented instead of being mortgaged to the neck, and I barely made enough money to cover my bills.

Some time between then and now, I had a wonderful epiphany in my sweet-pink-girlie-soul. It may have been brought on by champagne bliss and the detailed attention of skilled lovers, but it was an epiphany nonetheless; I am educated. Well educated, with a professional designation, and I don’t have to check in with anyone before I travel, spend or save money. I’m not tied to a house with windows that need changing, a roof that’s leaking, or worse yet, a pot-bellied man sitting on my couch every night wearing sweatsocks ( I have a particular aversion to men who wear anything white below the belt) .

When I look at the women who are my contemporaries, for the most part, they are all juggling the ‘You Can Have It All and SHOULD Have It All” culture that our bra burning aunties worked so damned hard for.

The notion that, ” I must be married have a family, run a perfect household, be mortgaged to the hilt, and pay half the bills” really isn’t all it’s cracked up to be now that we’re pushing 40. Buh-arf.

So, this women’s day, I send out love and blessings to the women of my generation who are just now second guessing the insidious pressure our society has placed on us to ‘have it all’.

My best friends are women. If any of them came to me and said, “Duchess ( I like to be called that sometimes, especially when I’ve had a few drinky-poos), I need your help.” I would help.

Not only would I help, I’d recruit my bevy of strong, independent, beautiful friends, and they would help too.

We are lucky to be ‘First World Women’, and should never take for granted the basic human rights so many women around the world die for every day. We ought also to rejoice in our freedom and the opportunities we have.

So, on this International Womens’ Day, women of my generation, don’t forget you are loved, and we totally ‘get‘ you.

i choose

Then Again, Maybe I Do – Dilemma of A Working Woman

Hard Working Women

Hard Working Women (Photo credit: Bo47)

In my last post, I wrote about women ‘having it all’, and what “ALL” meant to me. I challenged my readers of the fair sex to redefine all, and rethink success.  One of my readers wrote me a short note and asked for some advice. Advice? Sure, I can give advice. 

The question she had concerned whether or not to maintain a professional designation. You see, this ‘reader’ and I met as she was writing her board exams, and I was a year behind completing my internship. We worked damn hard in an ‘old boys’ business to get our license. We were shift partners for a while, and I grew to respect and like her.

The school work was demanding. The practical work was even more demanding. The internship required many,many long days of physically and emotionally draining work. The pinnacle of working toward the license was having to complete three separate board exams which also cost a significant fee to write.

If we choose to let our licenses lapse, it would mean reapplying and having to write the board exams again.  In order for the license not to lapse, we must actually find jobs in that field and work a minimum number of hours equivalent to a full, part-time job. We both work outside of that particular profession, but in related areas of expertise. 

I miss the work, it’s just not conducive to the kind of lifestyle I want at home. I’ve never worked in an atmosphere of stronger camaraderie, or with people who could make me laugh so easily.  I do miss the work, but don’t miss the strain it put on my life at home. Ideally I could find a part-time gig that works around my ‘real’ job, and my family schedule. Am I dreaming? I won’t know unless I put it out there and see what’s available.

Reflecting on our little dilemma today I came to this conclusion. I am convinced that in life, without making room for what truly makes us happy, we will be stuck with substitutes that are barely, “good enough”. 

Having it “All” might simply mean having ‘ENOUGH’. But ‘good enough’ is not good enough. Good enough means there could be something more, something better, something yummy and satisfying you want to snuggle with.

As much as I want the security of that professional designation, I’m not willing to give up what I have professionally right now. What I have right now is better. But in a pinch, having a professional license means I have a meal ticket much more easily redeemed than if I had a resume without it.

Now, if this were a situation about men, what would a girl do? What if you were dating a decent man; he had a decent job, was ok looking, was better than your B.O.B in the sack after a glass of wine or two(Battery Operated Boyfriend), and was good enough company to not get too lonely? You’d keep him until you just got bored to death, and then turn him in for another Mr. GoodEnough.   Easily replaced.

What gets our attention though is a man who is good at his job and enjoys it, is attractive, way, way better than B.O.B. in bed, and not only keeps our feet warm at night, he also can engage in intelligent conversation about a wide range of current events. That’s worth kicking Mr. GoodEnough out with the trash and making room for something with a little more va-va-va-voom.

So, my answer to my friend with the question about her license is two-fold. First it’s always good to have back up when it comes to men and employment when you’re not completely convinced they’re ‘the one’. Second, if we really want to get what our hearts yearn for, we have to take a leap of faith and just do it.  If you haven’t accomplished what you really, really want professionally, maintain your professional designation  as a back-up and cash provider while you work at making whatever puts a song in  your heart sing full-time.

When it comes to back up concerning men. Give up your back-up when you find someone you’re deliciously head over heels for. I did it for my last sweety, and although he turned out to be a joke, I don’t regret trying. Besides, back-up is pretty easy, and fun to find.