Andshelaughs · andshelaughs writing · Art of LIving · Canadian Writers · Creative Life · Creative Writing · Healthy Living · International Travel · Joyful Living · Letter Writing · Life · Life Lessons · Lifestyle · Living · Midlife · Paris · Paris Travel · The Art of Living · Travel · Travel Advice · Travel Guides · Travel Writers · Travel Writing · Uncategorized · Writers · Writing · Writing Inspiration · writing prompts

What You Need to Know About Paris

 

First of all, you need to know that I love Paris. Like: Love as-in-I-would-move-there-tonight-with-nothing-but-a-carry-on-kind-of-love. Looooooove…..

giphy-1

 

Recently I was asked by an acquaintance to send some information about my most recent holiday in the City of Light. It took me forever to get back to her. Mainly because I knew just how into it I would get, and therefor how much time it would take me to compose an email as full of useful information as I could muster with all of the enthusiasm I have for the city. I enjoyed every.single.second.

I went on about my favourite places, included links and maps, tips and tricks, and loads of my very own opinion. Which, of course, the world needs more of.

paris cafeYes, I adore all of the idiosyncrisies of the French. This includes terrible and rude (if not also terribly rude) service and their casual sense of elegance.  I love the tiny streets of Montmartre with the colourful shops squeezed together like hippies on a road trip. I love the billionaire-on-a-budget attitude of St. Germain, the connection to great artists I feel when I sink into the reading nooks on the second floor of Shakespeare and Company, and the thrum of those places where new worlds collide and your footsteps become unsure.

Had I only been able to make one suggestion to her though about getting a feel for what to expect, it would be this;

Find a lovely scarf which is slightly too long to wield delicately, and get thee to a crowded outdoor patio in the spring time. Order wine or coffee and a tiny glass of water, and no matter what the menu, expect an exquisite presentation of deliciously prepared food. All of this served to you by the most disinterested and apathetic server that you can imagine while your scarf blows in the wind like a prop from an Audrey Hepburn movie.

Welcome to Paris.

 

Advertisements
Advice for Women · Andshelaughs · andshelaughs writing · Art of LIving · Comedy · Coping · Fearless Living · Feminism · Feminist Culture · Feminists · Girl Stuff · Gracious Living · Healthy Living · Humor · Living · Middle Age · Midlife · Mindful Living · Motherhood · New Feminism · Opinion · Personal Development · Perspective · Philosophy · Professional Women · The Art of Living · The New Feminism · Uncategorized · women · Women's Issues · Women's March on Washington · Women's Rights · Working Women

Just Say No

grocery storeI’ve spent the better part of my 40’s scouring the grocery store for Shake’n Bake and marjoram, figuring out that flannel jimmies stick like velcro to flannel sheets, and annoyed at how closely hostility boils at the surface of every-single-freaking retail transaction I make. Hey sweetheart, I’ve worked retail too, so please, save me the passive aggressive bullshit and bag my groceries already.

By all accounts, I’ve achieved an acceptable definition of success; I have had a career most people find fascinating, I married, produced offspring, and divorced. I am in a socially acceptable relationship. Despite the lively shenanigans in my second and third decades of existence, I have remained alive and don’t have a prison record. Success!

I now have nothing to prove to anyone but myself. So I  can finally work on my own definition of success, writing, creating, and spending my time off imparting my hard won wisdom onto my child whilst sipping copious amounts of gin and wearing the grooviest muumuus I can find.

Oh, and I need to shed some of this joy-weight. You know, the kind that comes from trying to be the best mom, gal-pal out for drinks, and stress eating (because a lot of people are selfish assholes). The rest of the people are cool, and should be considered kindred spirits. Good luck figuring out which are which.

If you are a young woman reading this, skip directly to where middle age has positioned me emotionally.  Do not give a shit what others think.  Speed immediately past GO and tear up your Get-Out-Of-Jail-Free Cards. Screw it…just keep doing what you feel you must do, and save yourself a tidy little nest egg while you’re at it. If you can’t save, cultivate your charm. You’ll need it.

This rant comes courtesy of telling myself not to take my own self care seriously, giving up my yoga and writing time until my routine at home becomes somewhat normal again.

As I wandered down a grocery store aisle (for the second time) in search of Shake’n Bake, I realized that what I was feeling was not frustration. Just an aside, Shake’n Bake should be sold above the meat cooler like the wise old grocer did in my childhood village. What I was feeling was not frustration, but resentment. Resentment that it was my precious time being wasted searching for the solution to someone else’s craving for baked chicken.

But the thing is ladies, no one holds a gun to our heads while we frantically search grocery store aisles for 1970’s chicken coating. No. We take it on all by ourselves, and wear our tidy, well-stocked homes as a badge of honour.  I am the only one in my house who ventures to Costco because they know what a colossal time-sucking-black-hole the entire expedition is, same goes for restocking grocery trips and big-box store runs.

As I was finishing my errands today ( on my day off when I should have just ran away with my laptop to some wonderful cafe for four hours) I received a text;

Hey, can you stop by Costco and pick up a couple of boxes?

 

Which begs the question; Seriousfuckingly???

Seriousfuckingly ladies. Just say no.

 

 

Art of LIving · Buy & Sell · Creative Life · Fearless Living · Graceful Living · Gracious Living · Healthy Living · insight · Joyful Living · Life · Life Lessons · Living · Meaning of Life · Men's Issues · Mindful Living · Opinion · Simple Living · Society · Spiritual Living · The Art of Living · Toronto Life · Uncategorized · Whole Living · Women's Issues

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.

 

 

Advice for Women · Christmas · Christmas Letters · Christmas Lists · Christmas Marketing · Parenting · Professional Women · Single Dads · Single Parenting · Single-Mothers · Singles · Uncategorized · women · Women's Issues · Women's Rights

Santa & The Single Mom: Christmas Stress

unclelewis

Last night, while making a right hand turn at a busy intersection (during rush hour no less), I was so anxious having a little cry and panicking about paying the bills that I drove into a snow bank, went into auto-pilot and put the car in neutral, and then stepped on the gas (while still in neutral), and basically scared myself back to sanity. I did not shit my pants and I consider that a victory.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.

Any single parent knows how difficult it is to keep the ship afloat at home.  You finally get a little savings packed away, and voila, an emergency and then POOF, it’s gone. It feels like a really blue collar Harry Potter life without the magic of cool creatures.

No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on…

I love Christmas, and I love celebrating it. The reality is a single parent home is a vortex of anxiety and stress during the holidays. The best you can do is try to breathe deeply, and most importantly, remember that you always get through it. Always.

Now, getting through it this year has been a bit easier as we’ve had some exciting and positive distraction in our home thanks to my fabulously awesome kiddo.  I’ve also had a lot of practice throughout the years, so keeping that in mind helps to relax me a bit. If you have little ones at home, trust me; it gets easier. Not that the pressure eases, no, it actually gets worse. You become more graceful about it as the years pass if you try.

…and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.

The truth is I get through the holidays with a few vices. Tipples in my morning coffee when I don’t have to go to work or be out on the roads. Knowing I can play my ukulele for distraction despite how badly I suck at it. Baking, stitching, and staying under my cozy blankets on my days off for as long as possible to meditate by counting my blessings. Oh, a fabulous drug plan, and a  good therapist go a long, long, way to always having a ho-ho-hold the stress holiday.

Mostly though, it’s counting my blessings and appreciating all of the fabulously weird, wonderful and kind people that I am proud to call friends.

And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

Advice for Men · Advice for Women · Argument · Christmas · Christmas Gift Ideas · Creative Life · Entertainment · Girl Stuff · Lean In Girl Stuff · Life · Life Lessons · Meaning of Life · Men's Issues · Professional Women · Uncategorized · women · Women's Issues · Women's Rights · Working Women

Butterscotch Marshmallow Squares & What Every Man Needs to Remember at Christmas

christmas-tree-diamonds-19932765.jpgI’ve a had a few ‘precious’ moments this holiday season, (precious as in you’re-not-making-my-life-any-easier-in-any-way-shape-or-form-you-giant-whining-man-child). So this blog goes out to the gentlemen whom have inspired it.

I’m sure my  non-binary friends will find it in their hearts to excuse my battle of the sexes rant. I will use ‘he’ and ‘she’ liberally without committee debate regarding the political correctness of pronoun as I do believe that regardless of gender, partnership often becomes unbalanced in a mutiny-on-the-high-seas-kind-of-way.

Tonight my guy announced in true man-dumb fashion; “I hate having to go out shopping this week”. I did not give voice to my thoughts. No. Instead I sipped my pineapple cocktail and thanked the universe for booze and a great drug plan.

Christmas falls on the twenty-fifth of December every year dumbasses.

This is just a subtle reminder to men that, much like toilet paper and toothpaste, the holiday season isn’t delivered by fairies. You have to get off your ass and go get it; cook it, decorate it, bake it, wrap it, shop for it, lug it into the house, and plan for it.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told to relax while thinking of what needs to be done, so that Christmas Eve, Christmas Day and Boxing Day go off without too many glitches; making sure that everyone has all of their favourites on the table.

butterscotch-squares“Just give me a list and I”ll look after it,” are the famous naive words of a man who has never been responsible for putting ambrosia and those fucking butterscotch and tooty-fruity-marshmallow-crap-bars on the table.

These are the famous words of men who don’t get why coming home without the sour cream and sage can send an overworked, underpaid woman into an opiod- booze-adled-bender…not that I’ve ever experienced that, but I’ve witnessed it, and it’s damn tempting. I’m sure I could play out a meltdown worthy of a standing ovation, and a man who decides never to be a dumb-ass again. Alas…

As I sat cross legged on the living room floor wrapping gifts on behalf of  my man, I thought that one day a woman will be doing the same thing for my son, just as my mother did for my father, and my grandmother for her husband. It’s called ENABLING.

In the past, I supposed that gender roles guilted the woman into doing the grunt work because society wouldn’t let her ‘work’. Now, bless my overworked soul, society not only expects us to work twice as hard for half of the money, it also expects us to do everything else too.

So there I sat on my ass wrapping gifts for him while he stretched out on the couch.

And that is why we deserve diamonds ladies. Lots and lots of fucking diamonds.

 

 

Andshelaughs · andshelaughs writing · Buddhist Writers · columns Dating Advice · Creative Life · dating · Dating Advice · Dating Advice for Men · Dating Advice for Women · Dating Advive · Dating Love · Dating Over 40 · Girl Stuff · Inspiration · Lean In Girl Stuff · Mature Dating · Monday Inspiration · Monday Motivation · Motivation · Motivation Advice · on-line dating · Opinion · Psychology · Romance Dating · Student Life · Toronto Life · Uncategorized · Women's Issues · Women's Issues · Writing Inspiration

The Toilet: Where You Find The Best Things

no-mudFor years I had this je ne sais quois quality about me that, dare I say was charismatic, charming, and could even make your grouchy old granddad giggle.

But then I lost it. I guess for a while I didn’t much care. I figured it was just the normal aging process. Recent events have had me re-evaluating, and realizing that like my black tights which make their way onto hangers under the next sweater I’m going to wear, my chutzpah hasn’t died, it’s just been hiding in a corner where I had, out of sheer exhaustion, dropped it.

For a couple of months I’ve been getting hints that it’s still around. I’ve been reclaiming my own joy; creativity, physical activity, rest…and with that, I’ve felt it was coming back; that fabulous zest for life that is my legacy. Our legacy ladies. Everyone’s legacy.

No, it wasn’t hidden by the old stack of House & Home magazines in the corner, or next to an errant knee high and old slipper that continually fail at making it into my laundry bin. No, I found it in the loo at a crowded bar,dressed up and fevered to the point of sweating through my clothes and being yelled at because of it.  Yah, it’s true, we find miracles in the darndest places.

At some point (and yes, it was a sober some point as all I’d had for two days was gingerale and tea) the reality of reality sets in.  When you find peace in a tiny stall with a toilet, you should know that something is wrong.

One cannot seek meaningful solace next to the shitter darlings. One can only hope to apply fresh lipstick and get their kit together.

If you find yourself in a similar circumstance sweeties, look at it less like a dirty toilet in a pathetic re-run bar, and more like a time machine, transporting you from whomever made you want to shrivel up, or feel shrivelled up, to all of your gloriousness as a woman who is true to herself.

In those toilet-hiding moments, we find our je-ne-sais-quoisness.  These are the moments that give you the confidence to strut.

Last night, after having suffered for someone else’s comfort, and being yelled at and treated poorly, I made a trip to the lady’s time machine where my wee little girl brain asked me what in the hell I was doing suffering for someone else who was supposed to be not just a friend, but the best of friends.

The night got worse before it got better, but it was at least efficient.

Quite often women retreat to the bathroom as their only place of quiet and peace. Whether it’s out and about, or at home. Quite often they are there because someone has attacked their self worth. Those quiet, albeit gross moments near the toilet are generally where you can find your value again. Dare I say your,  I-Don’t-Give-A-Shitness.

It’s sad that we are forced into the shit to find ourselves, but that is life. No mud, no lotus right? Whatever…

Just remember if you find yourself in the loo with a tear in your eye, it’s a grand opportunity to make things better.  I mean, after all, how much worse can it get than hiding in the same place a thousand other people have pooped? Not much.

 

Comedy · Creative Life · Friends · Friendship · Friendships · Girl Stuff · Girls Stuff · Humor · Humour · Life · Life Lessons · Life With Cats · Meaning of Life · Professional Women · Uncategorized · women · Women's Issues · Women's Issues · Women's Rights · Working Women

Friendship:Urine My Good Books

untitled
untitled

Tonight I had to laugh as I dogged my way through backed up email.

The first email I opened was from a friend encouraging me to drink my own urine.

No, I did not freak out or wretch.

I laughed. Out loud. And it was a most welcome sound.  I could laugh because anyone who didn’t know us would think she was crazy, and that I was too. But that’s their problem, and their brand of crazy.

I haven’t done a lot of laughing of late, and having a friend who can talk about drinking pee makes me smile – laugh even.

I’m not going to get into the whole pee-as-a-beverage conversation, but let me just say this; she’s not crazy. She’s my friend.

That email (and the prior conversation we had about the entire process), reminded me of just how lucky we are to have friends with whom we can share our brand of crazy with. It is a wild and crazy life after all, and I think that’s easy to forget.

“I haven’t been myself lately,” was something that I said to a colleague today as we sorted out Chinese undies (don’t ask). I think that might have been the grossest understatement I’ve made in a while. Truth be told, I haven’t been jolly-old-over-the-top-flamboyant-self in a while, and hell, I MISS her!

My friends are grand reminders of who I am, how far I’ve come, the hope and the silliness still left in the world.

Just this week alone, I have been given all kinds of wonderful advice: drink your own pee, quit your job, have an affair, call in sick…

What would we do without our friends?  You see, it’s not about taking or giving advice. It’s about being caring enough to want to know how someone is feeling,  curious enough to look at alternative ways of being in the world and courageous enough to live out our choices.

As I plucked through my email, I came across a little email from ‘the crazy cat lady’ who used to be my neighbour,  I had a copied and pasted message from one of my friends’ lovers ( a seriously well-written love letter…swoon), and an invitation to some sort of kitchen party. I had a reminder about a dinner a friend planned for me knowing my love of all things bourbon and spicy. I also had bills, a library pick-up notice, and a reminder about my e-signature on a contract.

As I muddle through the darkness of ‘not quite being myself’, emails about urine as medicine, torrid love affairs and kitchen-knick-knacks I don’t-need-but-want are most welcome reminders that these seemingly frivolous distractions are the substance of life, not just unnecessary distractions.

Sending out my gratitude for my crazy, lovely, ever-so-wonderful friends…xo