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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The Invisible Woman: Asking For What You Need

invisibleOnce upon a time I used to think that the worst thing that could happen when you asked for something was to be told, “No“. I was wrong.

I can’t give my Mumster enough kuddos for all of the things that she’s taught me. I really can’t. Sometimes she’s said things to me that don’t make a damn lick of sense, and sometimes she comes forth with wisdom of the ages.

I’ve become invisible,” she said to me one day. She seemed sad, and a bit worn out.

I think I was in my early thirties, and looking back on my early thirties now, I know exactly what she meant.

I too have started the slide into invisibility, and it sure as hell doesn’t feel like a superpower.

I used to be able to turn heads. I’ve had men interrupt me at dinner to tell me that I was intriguing, fly me to them, and plan delightfully romantic dates. I’ve also had those same men, lie, cheat and hold my dignity and self-esteem hostage. Through all of it, I maintained my joy, my passion and my delight in sensual things.

But I fear I am becoming invisible.

Becoming invisible may mean; being past the age where you no longer want  your uterus for making babies, simplicity trumps trends, speaking truth and wisdom  at work and in the world is more important than getting ahead, or, a very common sign that a woman is becoming invisible; getting passed over for service at a restaurant.

I have become more dignified than cute. In my profession I am experienced, not green. In love, I am old and no longer considered by men to be fairy-tale worthy. None of these things lend themselves well to the coy seduction of  indulgence by others.

What I’m learning to grow into is also helping me learn what not to grow out of. One of those things is vulnerability in relationship; asking for the intimacy that I need, taking time to hear my friends although our opinions differ, and maturing into the letting-go role that all mothers must do.

At this age, the worst thing is not being told, “No”. It’s being ignored. It’s having your lover ignore your need for physical intimacy. It’s having your friends neglect the friendship. It’s feeling that you aren’t living your heart’s desires.

I wish I could easily point my finger and say, “Hey, it’s all your fault”. Becoming invisible is  a reflection of our society’s throw-away attitude but it’s also a part of our own design.

To keep vibrant, sensual, curious and liberated means digging deeper. As we age we need to access the reserves of wisdom that we have faithfully stored throughout our life time. To do that we need to be brave enough to get rid of anything that doesn’t make us feel alive. We  need to surround ourselves with lovers and friends who remind us just how brightly we shine

 

 

 

What the Women’s March on Washington Means to a White Chick

goddess

” A house divided against itself cannot stand.” ~Abraham Lincoln~

I’m as white as they come. I’m a woman. I will never be and have never been anything other than I am. I will never know what it’s like to be Black, Arab, Muslim, Jewish, financially affluent or well-connected, and the folks who identify as all of those things and many more will never know what it’s like to identify as me.

Farah Stockman’s article on the front page of the New York Times brings up a lot of really great questions about race, class, privilege and other social issues. I suggest you read it.

The Women’s March on Washington is an opportunity to come together as a community to protest the ass-hat who was elected (and yes, by a number of ‘white women’) as the next President of the United States. I believe that everyone who voted for Ms. Clinton should be in the streets to protest the twisted fuck up that is known as the Electoral College. I believe in the power of numbers and the power of kindness.

To the groups who have made the March a divisive issue, thank you for falling into the eons old trap of dividing women to diminish our power. It happens in families, in the workplace, and now, under the spotlight of a grand social scale.

For once in our history of gender, let us come together without any other motive than to access the full potential of our political clout; the marginalized power of the sacred feminine.

What spiritual, political and ethical living come down to for me is; how would you treat me if I needed your help on the street?  I like to think that we would all, when we’re eye to eye, regardless of race, creed, class, gender or anything else, reach out and help. If you don’t feel the same way because I am white ( thanks for assuming), perhaps your place is not at an inclusive March?

You’re preaching to the converted. We’re there because we support equality, and we’re not afraid to learn more.

Bring your signs. Show the world what you stand for; is it gender equality, racial equality, equal pay…??? Bring it and come in droves. But don’t hate the next person for being different, appreciate them because they are there, standing side by side with you, supporting you even though they carry a different message. What matters is the message of unity against evil.

I will stand happily with my white friends, my black friends, my Muslim and Buddhist friends; male, female, trans and anyone else who simply wants to make the world a more loving place to live. I don’t care how you identify, as long as it’s from a place of inclusiveness and love.

This is what the Women’s March means to me.

 

The Niqab Debate; A Feminist Canadian Perspective

maninchapsI’ve debated whether or not to write this post.

Let me be clear, the Niqab is a political, social and emotional hot button, and our Canadian Conservative spin-doctors hit the nail on the head when they reeled in this red herring.

This is and is not a political issue. It is because it addresses the clusterf^@k that happens when church and state mix. It is not because we should be focused on the complete erosion of democracy that has been achieved by the Conservative government.

I am by no means a social conservative. I am, however, amongst other fabulous and wonderful things, a feminist.

As a woman, the idea that any faith or culture requires a woman to hide her body reinforces the grand debate about the inequality between women and men.

It’s all bullshit folks. Women, men, and everyone who lives in the spectrum between these binary ideas of gender, deserve to be treated equally according to their achievements, gifts and status as a human being.

This morning, sipping my coffee, I read a social media post, (read it folks- it makes a great point, the twitter handle is @manwhohasitall ), which emphasized how screwed up our culture is when it comes to assigning value to typical gender roles.

The title of the article was; If we gave fathers the same nonsensical advice we give working mothers. Here are a few of the more ridiculous quotes;

TODAY’S DEBATE: Is fatherhood the end for career men?

RISE & SHINE FRAZZLED DADS! Wife & kids asleep? Now is the time to declutter cupboard under the sink & snack on your open pores. ‘Me time’.

Working husband & father? Feeling overwhelmed? YOUR FAULT. Drink more water, get up earlier & dress in your ‘wow’ colours.

Now that we have established the double-standard that still exists for working women, let me dive right in to Canadian politics and culture.

People flee to this country because it has a reputation for being nice, for offering equal opportunity, and not allowing our citizens to slit one another’s throats in the street because of basic human rights such as gender, religion, or ability differences.

You know why that exists folks? Because we separate religion from politics.

Given that the history of the niqab as religious versus cultural choice is debatable, let me hit you with a feminist, Canadian, patriotic perspective; women are sick and damn-tired of being told what to do. As Canadians, we’re sick and damn-tired of people from other countries coming here and telling us that they want the same religious-cultural government that they fled from.

If your argument is that not being allowed to wear the niqab is a religious right, perhaps you can cover your face and symbolically demean women in another country. I would never dream of travelling to Saudia Arabia, wearing a bikini and whining about being persecuted for wearing it. It just doesn’t happen.

I wouldn’t mind if all heterosexual men were mandated to wear ass-showing chaps so I could size up my next pony-ride, but I doubt that’s ever going to happen. Because it’s sexist and demeaning.

I agree with Naheed Nenshi’s latest article in the Globe and Mail which talks about Canada being a country of hope. I do not agree with starting down a slippery slope of mixing church and state via the not-so-subtle misogynistic tradition of devaluing the feminine in the name of religion, a la Niqab.

Don’t give me the ridiculous argument about Hallowe’en or Newfie Mummers. It’s not the same and you know it. You know why?  Because females and males participate equally in both. Because no one shows up at airport security, in a courtroom, or in any other situation with their face hidden. It’s a slap in the face of every woman who has ever had to fight to vote, be legally considered a person, been paid less than a man for the same job, the list goes on and on.

Yes, mandating an uncovered face would be telling women what to do, and men too. It’s also telling citizens that we are all accountable for our actions, that hiding behind religion or cultural traditions which symbolically treat women as the property of men will not be tolerated.

Like it or not, allowing the niqab to be worn in public flies in the face of women’s rights in North America. We have worked damn hard to achieve the reduced level of inequality that we have now.

Misogyny cannot hide behind a veil. Instead, that veil screams to North American women that it is alive and well.

Wine: The Cure-All for Driver Training, PMS and Annoying Old Ladies

"Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together." ~Liz Taylor~

“Pour yourself a drink, put on some lipstick and pull yourself together.”
~Liz Taylor~

Let’s work backward from the annoying old lady shall we?

Given that I, myself am an annoying old lady according to my kiddo’s generation, you can take this with a grain of salt.

DO NOT ask forty-something year old women if they are married and have a family (in the same breath).  If you must ask, you clearly don’t know me well enough to ask and clearly it is none of your damn business darling.

First of all, it does not endear us to you, and second of all because you’re likely to get an answer that confuses your out of touch moronic-question-asking priorities. My answer, “No, and yes,” with a smile that silently said, “All the better to eat you with you gauche old cow“, was clearly confusing. So, I did what I thought most prudent under the circumstances; spun on my well turned-out heels and walked away.

Women are not baby-factories or defined by their marital status any more. We have credentials, and likely a better grip on our own personal world of finance, family and friendship than any man whom may have coddled previous generations of women through life. We generally do not subscribe to the rule of, the bigger the sin, the bigger the diamond. We conduct ourselves with discretion and expect our wonderful men to carry themselves the same way.

We also have PMS.

I don’t care what we think big-pharma is pulling over our eyes. I already KNOW they’re killing us while making trillions of dollars off of our unnatural lifestyles. What I also know is that I get tired, bitchy, and a tad prone to tears when mother nature comes to collect on all the party time down under. Whilst preaching the benefit of some wonder-contraceptive today, my body was secretly laughing.

“Maybe you’re just PMS’ing”, a pal said when I told her I was feeling a bit edgy.

Nah, I don’t PMS. I was a skeptic, but have this new wonderful-better-than-gawd-birth-control, ” I giggled like a mad woman, “I don’t get periods any more.” Ah, yes, the beauty of aging. Clearly that was the confidence of over two decades of successful birth control and no unwanted pregnancies speaking, not my rational self.

But mother nature can be even more cruel than little old ladies who judge you according to whether or not you’re married and as miserable as they are. Mother nature promptly, and without warning tapped me on the head with her magic-menstruation-cudgel. Wonderfreakingful.

The only thing that could possibly have been better is if I were wearing brand new panties and white short-shorts in a canoe a thousand miles away from a tampon, which, just in case you’re wondering, has happened to every Canadian woman who has ever had an in-the-great-outdoors-adventure.

Perfect.

The only good part about my day was getting home before dawn, and actually having time to run some errands and see my kiddo. Who, incidentally hates me by default because he’s a teenager. “Are you ever actually going to take me driving?”. I think he may have even made eye contact while he  spoke, so it must have been really important to him.

It’s a good thing he asked after I’d had a chance to load up on some vintage vino, with one particularly lovely Shiraz from the Southern Barossa Valley which was silently wooing me from the trunk like a secret lover who had managed to squirrel away a few hours for passionate love-making..

So there you have it.  After having some old bag call into question my value as a woman because I’m not with-band-on-ring-finger, having the equivalent of a rogue-wave-in-a-mud-puddle anomaly of a period arrive, and have to sit through a driving lesson with my teenager, I am finally resigning myself to being completely and utterly in the moment.

It doesn’t hurt to have some classic jazz and a lip-smacking, seductive wine to help me get my Zen on. So long as no strangers ask me any more judgmental-quasi-Christian-have-you-been-saved-questions, we all just might make it out of this week alive. Cheers to you my fellow fearless ladies. May your wine racks overfloweth!

This Week’s Top Ten

paper…things I learned this week…

1) The 2013 vintage of California wines is a goldmine. Still over-priced, but worth every penny to me. Must get to the LCBO to buy a case or two. Better yet, must drift off and daydream about my time spent in Sonoma…le sigh.

2) Alas, I will never look good in the new ankle-length pant. My décolletage is far too abundant to have me look like anything but a teetering tower of lusciousness. Le sigh – again. Must make up for this by going shoe shopping.

3) According to psychologists the beard trend is a revolt against female power and beards are as much a phallic symbol as, let’s say, the CN Tower. Interesting, but do we really care ladies?  No. Just have a well manscaped face, and kiss me oh bearded masculine gods!

4) My horoscope says that the full moon makes me talk too much, and I should just be quiet and go for the secretive Scorpio persona. Let’s face it, half of the stuff I say makes little sense to anyone else, therefore my babbling makes me all the more mysterious. Horoscope, schmoroscope!

5)My friend Carlo writes like Craig Davidson. Yes, despite a degree in English Literature, I still prefer Canadian writers. Landscape; the overwhelmingly accurate, psychological theme of most of our novelists….take me on a road-trip any time.

6) Despite an ex’s insistence that my movie choices are purposefully pretentious, I continue to be shocked when the movies I really want to see only play at ‘select’ theatres. To the cinematic powers that be – Please, please, please don’t underestimate the number of culture junkies in the suburbs.

7) God bless Lucy Waverman. My famous bananas in rum-butter sauce will go perfectly with her ‘Boozy Bundt’ cake. Yum!

8) It has been decided that contrary  to the release of recent evidence by fitness gurus, an abundance of sex does decrease belly fat. It’s true. My friend Darleen nodded when I suggested that the gurus were, (gasp) wrong, so it’s true.

9) Although it’s months away, the twelfth anniversary of my 28th birthday is this year, and I must appoint a party committee to plan the debauchery. See #1 on this list, and begin stocking up.

10) I will always miss Paris.  Always.

 

Summer Harvest

Quan Yin

Quan Yin (Photo credit: Robbi Baba)

It makes me nostalgic to  know we are at the waxing of our summertime. Already I am mourning the late 9pm sunsets and my walks around the lake.

With some home reno’s complete, I’m feeling the urge to nest, to put up my home preserves, and tuck in for a long, cozy winter.

There is something entirely instinctual about the way that I feel, preparing my home for the winter months and looking forward to the crackling of the fireplace.

My old cat is stretched out on the new hardwood floors, chin flat and legs splayed, a lazy intent toward the door, and who may or may not be at the threshold.

My neighbours, Pakistani Muslims who arrived via a four year stay in Singapore have collected our cast off television and glass-doored cabinet, in preparation for their  first ‘Canadian’ winter.

How they came to collect my furniture is an odd story. I was reading David Shields’,  “How Literature Saved My Life”, when the two new neighbor girls came out to play.

Frolicking in their lemon-drop yellow and candy-floss pink dresses, I smiled behind the pages, thinking how lovely it is watch the innocent freedom through which young children experience the world.

After a few rounds in the evergreen and dogwood mini-forest, the girls disappeared back inside their home to return in a few seconds, plastic golf-clubs waving in the air, madly chasing a squirrel that appeared out of nowhere.  My attention completely left the book, which expounds quite broadly on the topic of mortality, survival and the meaning of life, to follow these pastel angels waving their Fischer Price weapons in the air.

The squirrel skittered through the underbrush, and scampered up a tree. I could almost feel his little heart pounding as he raced to escape death by pretend-five-iron. “We must throw something at him,” the young candy-floss enrobed huntress said to her older lemon-drop sister, “Can you find a big rock?”.

My stare must have put a wrinkle in their aura because they both turned around and saw me staring at them. I got their cold shoulder, and they wandered back to their patio where I could no longer witness their attack.

Cookies make everything better, so, I slid open my patio doors, and padded to the kitchen in my bare feet. I placed two of my freshly baked, half-cookie-half-brownie delights on a beautiful plate, and carried them over. Thus are all great neighbours made, are they not?

I introduced myself to Mom, to make sure the cookies were ok, and we began a conversation out on the grass about how they are settling in, where the girls will go to school, and whether or not they needed the cabinet and television I wished to give away.

I can’t help but reflect on the play-psychology of those young girls, out for blood with their toy golf clubs. Our survival instinct is intricately tangled up in our genetics like our hair colour  and the contour of our noses.

As I prepare for winter, preserving the harvest and deciding on committing to a relationship so I have someone with whom I can hibernate  during the cold  months, I will wonder at how deeply instinctual and evolutionary is our need to love and to fight.

Yesterday I was the recipient of a Quan Yin statue at my temple. An omen for sure. The goddess of compassion, the image of whom I’ve kept in my office as I carry out the truly earthy  work of caring for the dying, the dead and bereaved.

Tonight she sits as the guest of honour on my buffet, reminding me of the cycle of life; spring, summer, autumn and winter, reminding me that we are all, indeed, in this together.

Tonight I wonder at the immensity and the simplicity of it all; candy-floss and lemon-drop dresses, little girls with golf clubs, squirrels readying for winter, a Buddhist and Muslim living side by side as neighbours, and my open heart.