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What To Do?

fallkittenI’ve been known to publish some really great seasonal To-Do Lists.  Except this year.

I didn’t do that.

Not for you and not for me.

But I’m ready for one. You see, I have a Protestant work ethic, and am a firm believer in work first, and rest when the work is done.  Which, of course, often leaves me desiring, but exhausted and out of time.

Alas, the really hard work of this year is pretty much complete, and I am left with time to rediscover more leisure pursuits.  Instead of providing you and I wish a seasonal to-do-list-on-a-time-line  of such tomfoolery that we think is Instagram-worthy, such as pumpkin patch visits, applie-pie baking and haunted house touring, I am going to provide you with a list of things that I want to do.

And I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own. Even if you don’t get to it, you’ll be reminded of what it is that makes you happy, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a little time for yourself to make your soul smile.

 

Here’s my list;

 

1. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Yah, I officially registered to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Why not? After all, I want to finish my damn novel, and I work well with a time-line. This may very well should  be the only thing on my list, but should’s have no place in my life right now.

onceupon

2. I want to go back  to wander the Guillermo Del Torro exhibit again at the AGO. It was so inspiring; a look at the inner mechanisms of a creative genius. Going back is a desperate attempt to have some of that genius-energy rub off on me.

deltoro

3.  A road trip to see the beautiful fall landscape (I’m thinking Collingwood with a side trip to a pal’s place in Thornbury, and the outdoor spa).

Hockleyfall

 

4. A visit to Hinterland Winery. In my opinion a hidden gem that deserves more of my attention. Here I come Les Etoiles!

hinterland

5. Chistmas shopping. Yes,  you heard it. I want to go Christmas shopping. That’s only because I avoid shopping in December like the plague. It sucks, people’s attitudes suck, and all of that makes me cranky. Make it a December to remember (create some memories with your loved ones – do not spend the month craving valium and flipping people the bird in parking lots).

decembertoremember

 

 

6. Cross Stitch. Oh yah. I want the luxury of  enough time to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a few hours of nothing but some needle and thread.

bring me tea

 

7. I would also very much like to make my super-duper-Hallowe’en-popcorn. I make it for my colleagues and my kiddo because even though we’re all grown up, on October 31st, we’re all still little kids just waiting for a treat.

Halloween-Caramel-Corn4-600x400

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Christmas Top Ten

English: Christmas cookies Deutsch: Weihnachts...
English: Christmas cookies Deutsch: Weihnachtskekse (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I love the holidays.

Yes, even the displays in the stores that begin in October. Just because we live in a world where we are brainwashed into our consumer stupors, doesn’t mean we have to participate.

It’s ok, more than ok, just to enjoy the lights, the energy, and be quietly reflective.

Today I offer you my current Top Ten list of Christmasy things to help get your ‘Christmas On’

 

1) Eggnog, eggnot lattes (which, I must confess, comes a close second (gasp!) to the Starbucks Caramel Brulee Latte), Eggnog and rum, Eggnog shortbread, Eggnog snogs under the mistletoe…

2) Christmas Carols, and radio stations that are ‘All Christmas’ at this time of year. After all, you can always turn it off and on whenever the mood strikes.

3) Snuggling under a blanket and watching the snow fall.

4) A warm, roaring fireplace.

5) Cookies. There is always an abundance at Christmas time, and I can totally enjoy that!!!

6) Donating or volunteering for charities. It’s fun, it makes you feel good, and it helps other people – t’is the season after all!

7) Christmas parties – an excuse to buff and scrub and feel pretty…and dance!

8) Getting Christmas cards in the mail. Better than bills and junk mail by far. This includes the crazy, too-freaking-much-information letters that people send out. I love those.

9) Giving gifts. Whether it’s a cup of coffee or a coveted luxury item, it’s nice to light up someone’s day and let them know that you listen, and you like to make them happy.

10) Time with friends. This my number one favourite thing about Christmas. This is a gift you can’t return, or have stolen from  you. It’s the true meaning of the season, and I look so forward to these special coffee, dinner, party…and ‘whatever’ dates with my friends, family and colleagues.

I hope that this niggles your hum-bug and helps you see some of the simple joys that are available not just during Christmas time, but all year ’round.

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Secret Santa For Your Sweetheart

English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift.
English: Danboard holding a Christmas gift. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

My shopping is finished before mid-November. My wrapping is complete within a week of putting up my tree (also in November), and my schedule is chock-a-block with Christmas get-togethers by the time the calendar is turned to the month of December.

And then I think of just one more gift. Just one more person who could use a little treat.

That one more person is often the current apple of my very hard to catch beautiful blue eye.

First there is the question of whether to buy a gift at all.

Should I? Shouldn’t I? What if they get all awkward and all, “I forgot your gift at home,” or, well, just weird.

But what if they don’t? What if they genuinely love the idea that you thought enough of them to offer them something at Christmas time?

What if, whether or not they turn out to be the love of your life or not, you end up brightening up someone’s life during the season of mystery, light and goodwill. Either way, going out on the gift-giving limb is win-win, situation.

Are you afraid of rejection or having your pride hurt? Sissy. If, at this stage we don’t go after what we want, we’ll be lonely old pitiful souls.

So, I have decided that this year, I will be buying the man who puts a twinkle in my eye and a little skip in  my middle-aged step a small gift to let him  know that he is in my heart.

For the ladies and gentleman out there who aren’t ready to hop into the sack, profess their undying love, nor are ready to give up getting to know someone special, I offer you a list of things you may wish to offer as a small token of your affection;

1) A beautiful pair of gloves or mittens with a little note..think something like, ” Wishing you a warm and cozy holiday,” for the more bold, you may like to try, “These are to keep your strong, capable hands warm so that you can warm me up later tonight.”

2) Cologne/Perfume; a small bottle. Perhaps offer to dab a little bit behind their ear and then take a slow breath next to their skin to inhale the scent. For the more bold lovers out there, buy yourself a wonderful new scent, dab a bit on your décolletage, direct their schnoz to your perfumed fleshy heaven and ask them if they like it.

3) Homemade baking. We’ve all heard that the way to a man’s heart is through his stomach, but women also appreciate a man who knows how to stir up something sweet.

4) An ornament. Be prepared to explain why it’s special and why you chose it for your sweetheart.

5) Music. Let them know which song reminds you of them and why.

6) Take them out for a walk or a movie or a quaint cup of coffee. Time, after all is a wonderful gift, and one that everyone appreciates.

7) A wine, scotch, bourbon or beer tasting. Go out and have some fun. Let them know that you know what they like, and you want them to  enjoy themselves.

8) A cozy blanket. Again, I suggest a note for the meek, ” Wishing you a warm and cozy Christmas.” For the less meek, “Hoping we can get into some trouble under the covers.”

9) An advent calendar with notes tucked inside. For the meek, include something pithy, generic and inspirational from tumbler, etc. For the less meek, leave a daily hint as to where to find you under the mistletoe on a certain date, at an exact time – clothing optional.

10) Give them a calendar for the new year with notes and dates you’ll spend together, written throughout the months of the year.

Whatever you decide to do, just DO something.

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The Art of The Christmas Letter

"      “Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”~ Bill Cosby ~
“Through humor, you can soften some of the worst blows that life delivers. And once you find laughter, no matter how painful your situation might be, you can survive it.”
~ Bill Cosby ~

Whenever I receive a Christmas letter folded lovingly inside a carefully written Christmas card, I take time, with a cup of tea, to sit back and enjoy the entire thing.

I marvel at what wonderful years that my friends and their families have had, and it warms even the most cold, cynical corners of my fabulous little heart.

This year, my darling younger cousin (he’s fabulous, AND single ladies – inbox me for his number ) has been the only one to send out a Christmas letter, complete with photo, and a string of accomplishments from his year.

I’m still waiting for the one from my previous boss, I look forward to that one every year. This year I hope he mails me the Austrian cookie recipe that his mom used to make for us.

I contemplated writing a letter this year, complete with photo and oodles of glorious details about my perfect life.

I even thought of substituting our dysfunctional family Christmas card with pictures of my kiddo, the pets and I, for a demure folded number with a delicately written one-pager tucked inside.

But who am I kidding? I’m not a delicate one pager. I’m a blood-and-guts-of-it-warrior-writer-of-truths-and absurdity.

Besides, this has not been a year for the record books. My Christmas letter would go something like this;

Well, here it is, the end of 2012.  What’s new? Not a whole lot. I did stick to my guns and take a year off of being in ‘relationship’ (with a total douche-sac). That’s been refreshing.

My kid is awesome, but I don’t want to brag too much about it or else it will sound like bragging, and you’ll all think I’m obnoxious.

My book; 20 pages and I’m done, but they’re kinda like the elusive last-five-pounds. It’s going to take some serious pacing, procrastinating, and a month away at a secluded writing retreat with no TV  and lots of wine in order to get it finished.

We did have a lovely trip south this year, and it was awesome. So awesome in fact, the police had to pile me on the plane to come home because I didn’t want to come back. Ten days of bliss out of 365 – a sad ratio of bliss:reality.

Le sigh, my french friends, le sigh indeed.

Wait, that’s not quite the ratio. Upon reflection I had awesome times with my mumster, including spa days, and many,many lunches out together. I enjoyed weekend get-aways, and even managed to save my bestie from going to the slammer during a night of, um, well, revelrie.  You don’t get to do that very often at this age. Yes, I guess 2012 hasn’t been that bad at all.

Spring found me in a great running routine, and summer out on the river paddling. Fall on the other hand held out a hand of caution and my athletic pursuits were halted because of a health scare. As a result, my new short hair-do is scrumdillyumptious though and brings out my breasts er, eyes, and gives me a realistic goal – growing my hair long again.

Every weekend I’ve been fortunate enough to be at the AGO, or sharing dinner and wine with friends, or tucked away at a cafe somewhere writing.  I’d say the ratio of bliss: reality is more like 365:365, after all, it’s what you make of it isn’t it? 

Next year you’ll be emailing me for my new address and passing out my new business cards. I hope. Continued, friendship-buoyed, hope – now there’s a reason to crack the champagne as the calendar flips into 2013. 

Put a few bottle on ice for me – I’m anticipating wonderful celebrations to stay in vogue beyond the December 31st/January 1st split.  Next year’s letter is going to be dangerously fabulous!

Don’t fret my dears, if your 2012 was as up and down as Lombard street. I’ve heard you, and enjoyed our chats over coffee, on the phone,and your emails. Not every year is letter worthy, but that’s what makes the good times so darn good. If you’re like me, you’ll use your ‘fallow’ years as  rich ground to grow your dreams, or at least use them to relax and rediscover the joy of laughter.

Here’s to creativity, love and abundance as 2012 ends with the warm, magical season of light that we call Christmas.

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Christmas is for Every Day

“Of middle age the best that can be said is that a middle-aged person has likely learned how to have a little fun in spite of his troubles.”~ Don Marquis ~
“Of middle age the best that can be said is that a middle-aged person has likely learned how to have a little fun in spite of his troubles.”
~ Don Marquis ~

What’s not to like about Christmas? The food, the decorations and lights, not to mention all the fun times with friends and family.

Wait.

What if you don’t have family? What if your life is in shambles and you just don’t feel like being festive?If that’s the case, Christmas time can really suck.

When I was first starting out on my own with my kiddo, Christmases were hard. I was working long hours at a demanding job, going to school, and trying to raise a toddler all alone in the city. With no family, and only new friends close by, there were a lot of times that I felt lonely, and worse than lonely – alone.

I know, I know, it’s hard to believe that a gal like me could ever feel anything but wonderful. There were days I thought I couldn’t go on, that I was going to break.

One cold, snowy morning, I dragged my son out of bed, and out of the basement apartment we were living in.As we stepped out into the pre-dawn freezing rain, and onto the icy walk (the landlord never cleared the snow), my mood was in the toilet.

I was tired, I was cold, and I felt terrible about dragging my little kiddo out into the cold and dark when I knew he deserved to be tucked into bed in a home with a mom and a dad.

About two steps into our journey to the driveway, my kiddo smiled up at me as his red boots skittered along the ice, “It’s a be-youteeful day Mommy!”

His joy broke my heart. I felt unworthy of such a wonderful little person.

There were many mornings like this my first few years on my own. One of the only encouraging thing about my days was the kindness of my colleagues.

There was one man I worked with who would always find time in the morning to make a cup of espresso for me and have a chat before we started our days. Unbeknownst to him, these were the only moments in the day that I had a chance to stop and catch my breath. The only time I wasn’t working, worrying about bills, or babysitters.

So, despite absolutely loving Christmas, and having wonderful friends to share the season with this year, I’m no stranger to the other side of the holiday; the echo of loneliness that sounds loudly when a home is empty.

Christmas isn’t just about December 25th. It’s about the spirit of loving kindness that permeates the season.No matter what the date make the time that you do spend with your children and your loved ones Christmas.

A word to anyone who feels lonely this Christmas; try not to let who isn’t with you take away from who is. Life is short and precious my darlings. There is love all around, but it looks quite a bit different from what the fairy tales taught us.

Wishing all of you peace. Wishing all of you wisdom. Wishing all of you a light-hearted giggle or two.