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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…

 

 

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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!

 

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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.

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Is There A Hole In Christmas?

IMG_3679“They say that anger is just love disappointed”….

So went the lyrics of the Eagles song I had cranked as I poured my first coffee this morning.

After changing plans due to weather I crawled back under my covers and settled in between my mass of duvet and fluffy pillows. I starred out at my tiny piece of the snow-covered urban wilderness.

Thursday already,” I thought to myself with a sigh. My week off is almost over. I decided I’d lay in just a while longer and watch the white tree boughs brighten as the sun rose.  Willie Nelson was already stretched out in his watch position, letting me know that all was right outside the window and that I was safe from threat of intruders. “Good old Willie Nelson,” I smiled, and let my eyes close.

Our little corner of the world is a happy place. Sure, there’s the stress and demands of every day living, but I’ve been really good at keeping any nonsense at bay, and it’s something that I’m glad that I did.

As I indulged in the soft warmth of my bed, I listened to those song lyrics and thought about anger, disappointment, love and wisdom. Discernment as you know my darlings, has been front and center for me and has pushed my girl-brain into overdrive.

Anger, for a woman is something that’s not ok. We’re supposed to be gentle, smile, and be mothering. So, quite often an angry woman is not seen as feminine at all, but an abomination of all that is sugar, spice and everything nice.

Every time I’ve been angry, it’s been because I’ve been hurt, felt rejected, or disappointed in love. Not necessarily glass-slipper love, but love in general; friendship, romance or collegial respect.

So what does this have to do with Christmas? Well, sometimes holidays get muddled up in what we think should be happening, who we think we should be spending time with, and giving or receiving the gifts that should be under the tree. It’s when those should-be’s don’t happen we feel hurt and angry, and that is the hole that we put into the season of Christmas.

Yah, you read that right – you put it there. I put it there. We put it there. Sometimes we do such a good job of it, it should come wrapped in shiny paper and a beautiful bow so that we’re forced to open it and stare our disappointment down. We’d all open a beautiful package with grand expectations (mine would be a tiny blue Tiffany box by the way), and then we’d be wounded when it was empty. Empty! Empty? Yes – empty. Odd  isn’t it? It would be empty. Because it’s not real. Because it’s a figment of our fucked-up imaginations and social subconscience.

Christmas is a season of giving, a season of light, a season of slumber and contemplation. I wrote about waiting, hope, endings and beginnings last year as the season of Advent started.  Light and giving sound great right? Well, slumber and contemplation can be cozy, but they can be uncomfortable too. But I’m convinced that it’s in those moments of discomfort that we choose to grow or let the expectations we never grew out of turn us into some kind of jerk.

Drop the should if you can. Just let them go. Enjoy what you truly enjoy, embrace the friendships that keep you sane, and toast the things that your wise discernment has help you cast aside. If you haven’t begun to think about the wisdom of discernment, maybe contemplation can be your gift to yourself this Christmas.

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The Angry Optimist

saidatallI’m an optimist and I frequently get pissed off. I’m also a Buddhist, so the apparent juxtaposition doesn’t bother me. Nothing is permanent, everything is interconnected, and damn it, it’s all going to be ok!

The idea of ‘choice’ has recently come up a few times during discussions with friends, and even people who are not friends.

Choice. Choosing. Circumstance. Karmic energy. Discernment. Biscotti.

Yah, that was a choice today too, and I enjoyed one dipped in my one and only coffee of the day.

More recently I have been choosing optimism. You don’t know if you don’t try right? You can’t change your circumstance if you disengage from the world. Yet, you can’t make healthy choices if you engage with the wrong choices over and over; finances, relationship and wearing white socks for example.

Lately, I’ve liked the way that the word discernment rings a bell of mindfulness in my wee, little girl brain. I like the idea of self-respect, time and thought-management. That’s right, thought-management.

Most hurtful things have nothing to do with us, it has to do with the person you think is hurting you. It’s likely their issue, not yours. You just happen to offer a sounding-board, and you can either absorb their toxins, reflect it back, or better yet, convert that energy to something better for you.

Bad choices, selfish people, rude people, hurtful people sometimes make me sad or angry , and I’ve discovered that as I become more discerning, I also become more optimistic. Anger forces optimism. Huh?

For example, this morning started with a wash of bad news even before I made it to my writing desk. But the beauty of the darkness was that, it was not my darkness to absorb. It was darkness to reflect upon, and then choose how I would frame my day.

So the next time someone hurts you or disappoints you, or makes you angry, take a few moments to figure out what within yourself is hurt, and then go love the hell out of that wounded spot. All, day, long.  Go ahead and say the ‘F’ word if you need to. Say it a few times in different contexts if you need too.

Regardless of ‘F’ word or not, you will soon figure out that if you’re not satisfied with what you have, it will push you to something better, but you have to be angry enough to be an optimist, and that takes guts.

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The Holiday Hustle

santahustleSometimes you just gotta dance. I mean get out there, take off your wrap, your jacket, your inhibitions, and just shake what mamma gave you!

I’m not talking about the stiff, elbows up, I-give-you-a-seven-out-of-ten style of dance. No, I’m talking about freestyle baby. The kind that you do when no one’s home and you’re dusting the Dalton’s.

There are any number of holiday parties to attend, and a zillion reasons to be quiet, go home early, or feel inadequate. Trust me darlings, we’ve all felt that way, and when we feel that way, we wither like a two day old lily out of water. It’s the antithesis of fresh and glowing. Wilted and sad are never in style darlings. Never.

Not that hibernating and living in your jammies with leg stubble and four-day unwashed hair doesn’t have it’s place in spiritual growth, but come on! A bit of frivolous silliness is just what the doctor ordered to combat our winter blahs.

So, last night, I did just that with my mumster. We met a few new people, took some silly photos, and danced until we had to mop ourselves off the floor and go home. Fun, friendship, shaking off the burden of should-be’s; that’s what a party is about, not sitting primly at a table and counting the seconds until you can make your escape.

During my forty or so trips around the sun, I’ve learned that without a doubt, time passes whether you’re enjoying yourself or not. It’s your choice; suffer through the holidays, or do the hustle!

 

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Do You?

Christmas lights backgroundLate at night, long after I should have gone to bed and should have finished my to-do list for the day, I often turn off all of the lights but those on the Christmas tree,  and spend quiet time on my own.

These moments are too infrequent, and wrought with what if’s. However, if I’m still, and if I let go of everything that I’m clinging to; my fears, my worries, my lists of wants and needs, I can still touch that place I thought I left behind when I was a little girl.

Growing up in a small town, I did not know the indulgence of city parades and rows of shop windows. We had a small grocery store, with the original French doors and hard-wood floors. Produce and meat were weighed, measured and priced on the shelves, and were all passed along a simple groove-worn counter top without a conveyor. String hung above the cash register to wrap and tie parcels, and your bags were still packed in brown-paper bags and carried to your car for you.

I grew up in a land where time had, for a few years at least, been stopped.

Each Christmas the grocer’s wife would decorate the store window with the same dollhouse filled with miniature furniture and smiling dolls. It was the picture of a perfect family. Mom rolled out dough on the kitchen table while the kids and dog looked on. Each detail was perfect and so very tiny.

As a little girl, I stood, mesmerized by the scene before me, and the creation of my own imagination.  How wonderfully perfect it must have been to live in that house of smiling dolls, with the warm fireplace and kind faces.

Beyond the store window, I knew there would be paper-wrapped stands holding clear plastic bags of French creams, snow balls, ribbon candy, and my very favourite; chicken bones, the hard cinnamon candy with a chocolate centre.  Beyond that, during the holiday season only, there were bins of loose nuts and those wonderful tangerines!

While my mother and grandmother would shop, I spent a lot of time looking at the doll house in the window, imagining and dreaming, and hoping.

Those precious years of endless, hopeful dreaming  slip away without us realizing. As a teen, I worked in that store every summer, and eventually, one-by-one, the businesses closed, including the grocery store and the tradition of the doll house.

When I hear about ‘believing in the magic of Christmas’, I don’t so much relate to the little boy born in a manger. That may horrify some of you, but it’s true.

The magic of Christmas for me has always been the effort we make to stop time for just a few hours; to slow down our ever-busier lives that slip by faster and faster as we age. The magic of Christmas is now, more than ever, the miracle of making time for one another and really taking time to share, listen and care.

I do still believe in that.

Each Christmas my hope is that whether at my home, or when I’m visiting with friends,  that the joy, hope and magic I believed was happening in that miniature doll-house that decorated our old-fashioned grocery store window, does still exist among us today. Even if it’s only at Christmas time when we pause, reflect, and give thanks to the people who make our hearts feel as happy as I imagined those little dolls to be.

I still believe in the magic of Christmas. Do you?