The Season of Mystery & Light

street lampI’m early, I know.

Advent is not officially upon us, but the shitty greyness of November sure is.

We are smack in the middle of the time of year when everything is bare, grey, and tired.

Not quite officially Advent, the season of mystery, of waiting, of germinating in the darkness so that we may blossom in the light is definitely upon us.

What better way to embrace it all than to try some new stuff?

This year, it’s all new to me; my home, my relationship status, and most significantly, my role as a mother.  Whatever you call your celebration of light in the darkness that you celebrate, the reality is November is often a month of feeling less than sparkly.

As always, I’m embracing it. All of it.  Well, at least I’m trying to. Trying ‘new stuff’ may help ease the doldrums, but is it the solution? I’m not so sure about that.

Being able to be still in the darkness takes incredible strength of mind and spirit. Allowing yourself to feel it deeply without running from the discomfort may be the secret to rising into the light refreshed and enriched. It may also send you to the psych-ward for a few weeks. Chacun son gout.

I try to remember the significance of the tiny lights twinkling in the cold and the darkness. They are the symbols of hope when we are not sure of our place and where we belong, and sometimes that’s all we have.

 

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When Christmas Isn’t So Merry

ADVENT WREATH

“Christmas makes me sad, ” one of my colleagues said in passing this week.

Sad was a theme for me in 2015, so her comment caught my attention.

My head jerked up from what I was working on and I listened to what she had to say.

“I still put up the tree and decorate. You know, for the kids.”

“Me too.” I said.

We were speaking with a younger lady who is still a starry-eyed romantic like we used to be. I hope she never loses that magic, because once you lose it, you can’t get it back the same way.

Loss during the holidays spreads a pall over the joy of the season. Loss as in a you’ve experienced the death of a loved one during the holidays, you’ve experienced another type of loss during the year (relationship, job, ability).

As you get older, there tend to be more people and more things to miss. There are deeper elements of life to reflect upon, and joy comes less and less from what is under the tree than from the quiet moments you get to spend with people you love.

When I was a child, the season of Advent was not a spiritual experience. It was a season of ribbon candy, clementines, chocolate galore and lots of toys. As a young woman, it was a season of party dresses, romance and giddy fun.  As a middle-aged woman, I realize the meaning behind the season of Advent; living in darkness, anticipation and mystery, meditation, and the cultivation of patience.

For those who find the Christmas season emotionally challenging, please try and remember that you are not alone. Our silver-bell-and-city-sidewalk-smiles hide a multitude of sadness.

For those who still find Christmas deliriously happy, don’t be afraid to share your enthusiasm. We love it, and are happy knowing that although we may bring peace and love to the season, there are others who bear the burden of bringing the joy.

Wishing you peace this Christmas. Wishing you love. Wishing you the joy of friendship, romance and the thrill of experiencing some of life’s  unfolding mystery.

 

 

Thresholds

The truth can be seen from many doorways.

The truth can be seen from many doorways.

During recent months, I have come to some sort of peace, having I suppose, learned a lesson or two during my prolonged and regular attendance at the famed, School of Hard Knocks.

Go figure. Who knew that it would eventually pay off?

I’m kind of famous for being chatty, friendly, and a little folksy from my country-upbringing. I like to think of it as my own personal brand of charm. What most people fail to observe behind my bubbliness is that I do a lot of observing. Ironic, but true.

Some of the ‘isms’ I spout have been appropriate as of late. It’s almost as if there is a theme running in my life, and I’ve yet to learn the full lesson.

Recurring themes seem to be;

1) Just because I’m kind, does not mean I’m stupid.

2) You can put lipstick on a pig, but it’s still a pig.

3) The truth can be seen from many doorways.

Quite often we meet one another at a threshold; our interactions are a constant balancing act of give and take, talk and listen, lover and beloved.

Thresholds happen to be the place where  most conflict is likely to happen. Thresholds are also the most likely place of transformation and personal growth.

Think about it, the last time you had a tiff with a loved one, you were likely at a doorway, or trying your hardest to get there.Thresholds offer the promise of escape and of safety. They can also be scary and crossing over one means you’re stepping into that frightening abyss of the unknown.

thinkingEach day we bring our selves to the world, and meet everyone we interact with at their threshold.

Think about that one for a while. Let it marinate in your lovely heart.

I’ve come to the conclusion that our personalities can be bright lights promising a welcome, comfortable place to interact as human beings, whether it’s the conversation you have at the grocery store checkout, or  part of a meeting with professionals.

We can also offer a threshold that is ever dark, foreboding, and menacing to approach. Of course there’s always the middle way as well, sometimes light and sometimes dark.

In work and in life I have often been criticized because I like to see the potential in everything, but after living with myself for so long, I’ve decided I’m ok with that.

I’m nobody’s fool, and I’d much rather swing wide the door of my compassion to the world, than barricade it with iron.

Decorate your thresholds accordingly my lovelies, you never know who may be seeking shelter.

P.S. Bringing a bottle of wine doesn’t hurt when you’re knocking…

Dear 2015

Photo ritghts are not not mine. I believe they belong to : www.b4men.nl "Write it in your heart that every day is the best day in the year." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson" "

Photo rights are  not mine. I believe they belong to : http://www.b4men.nl
“Write it in your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson”

My darling 2015, what took you so long?

I’ve been waiting for you since 2013. I thought 2014 was my soul mate, but it turns out I was wrong. So many of us were wrong about that charmer.

But you, you’re the one. I can just feel it in my squishy girly bits.

Take off your boots and put your feet up by the fire. Let me get you something to warm you from the inside out my deliciously, mysterious friend.

This year we’re going to have a lot more beach and a lot less stress. Yes, my sweet new love, let’s make that promise to one another so that when we toast one another good-bye and I move on to your big brother in 2016, we know that we’ve shared a special once-in-a-lifetime. Sand and sea breezes always bring out the best in me, and I’m ready to give it to you! In a pinch, we can settle for pool-side or more long, hot, deliciously candlelit baths. Bring poetry.

Already you’ve gifted me the pleasure of new company thanks to Vicki and Monica. What a delightful way to begin our relationship; surrounded by completely wonderful people who I didn’t know before.  It’s always a blessing to meet kindred spirits who know how to laugh and enjoy life.

You really need to introduce me to your friends. Don’t be jealous 2015, think about it. I’m going to need a lovely man to stick beside me after you leave. That’s your number one priority this year. Do you hear that 2015? A good one; kind, funny, loving, and if it’s not too much to ask, a little younger with some little giddy-up left in him. I will defer to your judgment here as mine has historically sucked.

I woke up with a headache this morning, and I’m assuming that’s because you knocked all of the negative el-poopo out of my energy field last night while I was getting my beauty sleep. Not so rough, eh? I need my lessons delivered gently, with a slow hand and generous heart. After all, I am a lady.

So, I’m all yours 2015.  Fully, completely, and unabashedly committed to making you a year to remember as one that brought good health, joy and love to not just me, but everyone I consider a friend.

Now, enough of all of this talk. Let’s go snuggle.

 

 

 

The Magic of Christmas Appeared in the Form of Ambrosia

"Isn't there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?" ~Charlie Brown~

“Isn’t there anyone who knows what Christmas is all about?”
~Charlie Brown~

The magic finally happened for me this year.

I had just put the tacky Christmas goldfish ‘sunshine-Jello-salad’, into the fridge and was stirring together the tacky ambrosia, when I felt the first sparkly jolt.

Christmas?! Yes!

Perhaps it was going through the motions of tradition that brought it about for me this year. On the eve before Christmas Eve, I found some magic. It started with a kind message from one of my oldest friends who helped  me realize that I don’t have to constantly be strong for everyone else.

Just in time for Christmas Eve: my favourite part of Christmas.

To say that it’s been an anti-climactic lead-up to Christmas is an understatement. In fact it’s been a Christmas time to remember. Often these are the years that build character and help us empathize with others who struggle through the holidays.

One well-meaning soul typed a comment about having expectations too high at Christmas time.  This Christmas has not been Christmasy, and it’s not because of any expectation, it’s because of loss. Expectation is an interesting concept, and one worthy of discussion.

We live in a hurried world where sadness and empathy take time none of us want to take. I believe that encourages platitudes about ‘no expectation’ and ‘not being attached to outcome’. Hogwash and pith my darlings.

It’s right up there with; having a stiff upper lip, not crying in front of the children, and keeping yourself busy. I’m a ‘loss’ professional, and I firmly believe in having to fall apart sometimes in order to pull your refined-by-trial soul back together. Sometimes things suck, and it’s ok to say so.

If you think that having rainbows and lollipops poof out of your arse all day long is normal, please send your unicorn to fetch me for your next seminar.

Certain expectations are healthy; to be treated fairly, to be compensated fairly for work, to be able to live freely without discrimination and most importantly, to feel validated when you feel every emotion, including the ugly ones like fear, anger and sadness that make most folks uncomfortable. These are healthy, and necessary expectations.

For anyone who has experienced loss, Christmas can be a really tough slog, regardless of expectation.

As we near the midnight hour, and our corner of the world slows down, I think I will take some time to stop and consider what expectations are helping me move forward or holding me back. Discerning between the two is where the magic happens, because as much as our human brains would like the world to be black and white, it isn’t.

Christmas magic appeared unexpectedly as I went through the motions of making the traditional food that goes on our Christmas table, and I am grateful. Happy even. I’m looking forward to tonight and tomorrow, and am thankful for having people to share the day with.

Wishing you joy this Christmas. Wishing you a soft landing if  you are among those who have experienced loss at this time of year.  Wishing you the wisdom to discern between healthy expectation, and hokey platitudes. If you’re having none of that, I’ll send over a dish of ambrosia for your narwhal.

 

Why It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

 

"I close my eyes and drift away into the magic night I softly say a prayer like dreamers do. Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you." ~Roy Orbison~

“I close my eyes and drift away into the magic night I softly say a prayer like dreamers do. Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.”
~Roy Orbison~

It has been decided and declared from our home to yours; it does not feel like Christmas this year. At all.

It’s been an odd festive season, and I had held out hope that as the day approached, I’d start feeling Christmasy. I kept hoping for that Christmas miracle I’ve been praying for would manifest in some way shape or form…until this evening as I assembled my ‘goodie’ platters for the office tomorrow.

I thought to myself, “I’ve done everything right. I’ve put up the outside lights. I’ve decorated the house. I’ve entertained and baked. The gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and I’ve stocked the pantry with treats and nibbles, so why on earth does it just suck this year?”

Decidedly it sucks because ‘we’, as in the royal, collective ‘we’ are caught in a vicious commercial and capitalist cycle of bullshit.

There is no break and no ‘taking it easy’ because it’s the holiday season. We work to the limit and squeak out a few days off to catch up with the people most dear to us.  Holiday house parties? Forget it. Who has time for that? Fun office parties? Nope, I’m afraid we’ve taken our professional selves to the edge of robotic functionality with no room for emotion, compassion or humour. Snarky sarcasm has replaced sincere humour as it’s older, wiser cousin. Dear god I miss laughing.

I want to believe in the magic of Christmas. I want to wake up one morning to whatever that Christmas miracle is that I’ve been hoping for, but I don’t have the energy this year to dig that deeply.

Perhaps I will find that magic in the candlelit sanctuary of church this Christmas Eve, after the Eucharist,  as we raise our voices to sing silent night and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

If ever we’ve needed your magic Santa Claus, this is the year.

 

Surrogacy: An Outsider’s POV

surrogacy

My friend asked me to write a post on Surrogacy from an outsiders perspective, so here goes.

It’s screwed up. It’s against nature, and in all ethical debates I favour the natural; Refer to Margaret Somerville’s: The Ethical Imagination.

I am unashamedly Pro-Choice. In other words, I’m a hypocrite. I always favour nature unless…any number of emotional arguments whose colour runs through every strand of the fabric of human life.

The Universal-Collective-We favours logic over emotion. That, my darlings, is unnatural.

We have the capacity to love, hate and feel a broad spectrum of emotions combined with intricate expressive language. When we started to prize logic over emotion, we lost out on the rich beauty of intuition and true love. I’m not saying I’m a braless free-loving hippie. I am saying the value we place on logic versus emotion is the reason psychotherapy is on the rise.

So what does this have to do with surrogacy? Well, everything.

I have chosen not to be a surrogate mother, for many reasons, but they are my own, and not yours.

Both of my very best friends have been surrogates. When the first pal o’mine whom I’ve known since I was 12 told me about her decision, I thought she was crazy and I told her so. I finished up my three sentence blessing with, “Whatever you do, I’ll support you and love you.” You know why? Because I love her.

When my second pal decided to do the same thing, I gave the same speech. You know why? Because I love her.

What are the chances my two best friends decided to do something that wouldn’t even register as a possibility on my radar? Well, because I have my own life, my own experiences, and my own opinion. They have theirs.

Argue gay-rights, Christian rights, women’s rights, or whatever rights get your pink and whites sweaty, I really don’t give a rat’s ass. What I care about is people caring about one another.  I was raised in a heterosexual-nightmare of a household, and frankly, some wolves would be far better parents than a lot of people out there who bumble through life, giving birth like I give out bags of potato chips on Hallowe’en.

I know many heterosexual-childless couples by choice, and I know a lot of homosexual couples who would be amazing parents.

Money changes hands over more insidious things than bringing human babies into the world, so who am I to judge?  Surrogacy is a priceless gift, which is why the money makes it seem dirty. Our version of survival of the fittest now includes survival of the most financially and class-status elite. Face it, poor people don’t have surrogate babies. Ever.

No one shakes a condescending finger at people taking chemo (against nature), birth control, oral fertility medication, erection enhancers, or diet pills – all against nature. We don’t picket the Red Cross because accepting donor blood is against nature, and we sure as hell don’t tell our flaccid-penised mates to pass on the little blue pills that make us go giddy in the bedroom.

The reality of the surrogacy issue is that it is tangled up in a web far too complex for human beings to comprehend and therefore too complex to mess with. Euthanasia, assisted Suicide, invitro-Procedures, organ transplants, tissue donation, even global warming. The list goes on and on and on….

Human beings think they have a handle on medicine and science, but we are mere infants in a universe more infinite and magical than we can ever comprehend. Every time we tamper with it, we damage it even more. We are emotional creatures, and we are loving creatures. We are far, far away from being ruled by logic when it comes to reproduction, our evolutionary drives, mortality and sex.

What is important is acting from a place of love, while we flounder with the deceptively simple logic of right and wrong.

 

 

 

I Believe: Christmas Miracles

"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" ~Jon Bon Jovi~

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?”
~Jon Bon Jovi~

For weeks I have been waking up, and saying a little prayer to the universe before I step out of bed; Please give me the strength to get through this day and the grace to find beauty in it.

This morning I had a phone call from a friend whom I’ve lost touch with. We had a difficult conversation earlier this year which ended, badly?

I’m not sure if it ended badly, or just ended where it needed to end, so I left it alone and thought that time, like it always had, would lend some clarity

…but let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you…

~Kalil Gibran~

After reaching out with a Christmas card (yes, I still send them), I had a phone call from my friend. Maybe that was a Christmas miracle? I can’t help but think so. He left a beautiful message and caught me up on the important things including his health, book, and new love in his life. I was overjoyed that perhaps the rickety bridge to our friendship was still in tact.

I’ve had a few of those calls this year, from people who have drifted from my life just due to the demands of daily life with family and career. I’m so thankful for this time of year when something more powerful than the rat-race pulls us together again.

The past two years have been difficult. This one has been difficult in a good way. Busy in a good way, and at the same time exhausting and an emotional marathon of isolation.   I’m tired of worrying about how we’ll survive the next day, and the one after that. I’m tired of being tired.

So after a day of spoiling myself and hoping that my visit to the Alex Colville exhibit,my favourite  shop, Wonderworks, and our favourite bakery, Forno Cultura, I went to bed in full surrender. My only request was that whatever happened next, ‘be gentle with me’.

This morning I woke up in the quiet of my room. I could tell that the day was going to be another grey, drizzly day, and already I was thinking ahead to the demands of the week and worrying about how I would make it all happen. “Magic,” I thought to myself and snickered a bit.

But that’s what this season is about isn’t it? Magic.  We’re almost smack-dab in the middle of the darkest days of the year. All of the seeds we have planted are working furiously to take root and get ready to blossom, making beauty appear like magic from the fallow darkness.

Mystery. Magic. The magic of Christmas. A Christmas miracle. Hmmm?

So my daily prayer to the universe changed this morning; Please give me the strength to get through the day and the grace to find beauty in it. Please send me a Christmas miracle…

…and then for good measure I added, “…that I can recognize and am not afraid to accept.”

I rolled out from under my fluffy white duvet and let my feet hit the floor.

Any time now universe, any time…

 

 

The Amazing ‘C’ at Christmas

IMG_3684The Amazing C Strikes again.

She is that wacky, wonderful, outrageous friend that every woman needs in her life.

Why? Because she reminds me of what it’s like to be carefree and young again. She reminds me that my troubles are not as insurmountable as they seem. She reminds me that I’m not only a mother, or a friend, but I’m someone fun and worthwhile.

We had a bit of a snow storm a few days ago, and I had one errand I absolutely had to run. Before I left, I checked the mail, and there was a parcel slip. I had a package waiting.

While my car chugged through the snow still piled on the roadways, I cursed myself for forgetting this errand yesterday, but looked forward to getting home and opening my annual Christmas gift from the ‘Amazing C’.

The Amazing C is  a full-fledged couponer. She has a stockpile and posts her grocery items on Facebook with a, “Guess how much I spent”?  She always amazes me. I on the other hand have a schedule that barely allows enough time to get a load of laundry out of the washer and hang it up before I leave the house.

So, as I sat, hair wet from the snow that fell while I was shoveling the step and a pathway to our little patio, I opened up the purple and gold sparkly wrapped parcel.

Inside, she provided everything  a girl would need for a sexy night in; soap, toothpaste, matching pink and blue toothbrushes, a razor for him, yummy smelling lotion, hair stuff, a flask for my hooch (love that Amazing C!), a scented candle, condoms, laundry soap for the sheets the next day and some herbal tea. I’m assuming the batteries and chocolate were just in case the ‘romance’ turned flat.

Thank you for believing I still have what it takes to bring’em in Amazing C. This holiday I dedicate my sleazy nights to you! I shall toast you whilst naked between the sheets after each conquest…or I will curse you for the extra pounds that come with the chocolate as I sit home in my flannel watching Renee Zellweger flicks.

2014 was not a year we did much to celebrate our friendship. She was busy with her kiddos and a pregnancy. I was busy with my kiddo and career and this writing gig.  Our phone calls more often than not were under the 30 second mark, and ended with a hurried, “Gotta go. Love you!”

Thank you Amazing C for thinking of me this year, and posting your Christmas package. You made me smile and laugh, and that’s not been easy this week.

Wishing everyone a friend as wacky and wonderful this holiday season as the Amazing C!

 

Christmas Is For Firemen

firemanhotDear Santa,

Andshelaughs would like a fireman for Christmas…

Yah, I hope I find a buff-eager fireman under my tree this year, but what can I say, I’m a dreamer.

Last night I said good-bye to some very dear friends, and big, ole’ tough me cried myself to sleep. I felt so homesick for them, I just rolled out of bed now. The laundry can wait.  I’m busy moping.

So, I finally get out of bed this morning, pour a good dose of Jimmy Buffet into the speakers and turn the coffee pot on, all the while dressed in a t-shirt and a bracelet. Don’t try to picture it, you’ll hurt your eyes.

My hair is long now because I’m trying to grow it long enough to pull back in a practical something or other while on the sailboat this winter. That means instead of being short and wild, it’s long and wild.  What remains of my mascara after scrubbing my face last night has made itself more comfortable in the hollows of the bags of my eyes, and somehow I’ve managed one sock.

It’s morning. My daily nemesis. Describing me as, ‘Not a morning person’ is like saying the Dali Lama is sorta spiritual. I suck at mornings. More importantly, I’m ok with it.

I’ve turned on the coffee pot, yawned, and have a copy of the New Yorker in my hand featuring a story about bull-riding. I love bull-riding. And boxing. Those sports fascinate me. So, Ms. bawling mess homesick for her friends is in the kitchen looking, well, homeless, and reading about bull-riding when the fire alarm goes off. Not my smoke alarm, the one wired into the 12 units of homes that I live in.

Immediately, I shriek, “Oh Golly!”. Ok, I do not shriek, “Oh Golly”, but if I’m ever going to be ‘Freshly Pressed’ on WordPress I have to stop using the f-word. So, use your imagination. I say, “Oh…..k!”

I don’t panic because first of all, it’s before noon and I just don’t panic before noon. That’s way too much effort. I already know what’s happening. It’s fire alarm testing day.

Whenever I am home on a Friday it’s freaking-fire-alarm-testing day. I know that within moments, my Christmas wish is going to be almost true. There will be firemen in my house.

You have never seen a chubby middle-aged blonde woman move so quickly!

…and that’s how it happened Santa, honestly.