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Wisdom ‘Four’ The Ages:Soda Makes Your Hair Curly

fun on the beachIt’s been a week.

Ups, downs and all arounds.

Throughout all of it, I realized two things; I’m getting old, and I’m getting  better at the important things.

This week a childhood pal’s hubby died, and a school chum of mine died as well. They were both in their early 40’s. Before you start sending condolences, I want to be clear; neither of these two men were part of my every-day life.  My memories of them are frozen in the past somewhere among forgotten first dates, moonlit teenage-trists on the beach, and making out to Bryan Adams songs. They were pee-your-pants funny, and the kind of people you were happy to spend time with.

I’m a funeral director, so I’m not a stranger to death. But no one is immune to the rattle of mortality when she crosses your path all jangley-chained and staring you in the face with her gaunt eyes .  The death of these two vibrant men was a reminder of how fast joy and enthusiasm can get lost in adulthood.

The takeaway message is clear: enjoy it while you can. Be grateful for what you have, love the people you love without shame and with wild abandon.  Responsibility can include silliness.

Like I mentioned earlier, these things also made me realize that I’m getting better at the important stuff.

Little girl on the playgroundThe best part of my week, besides my own lovely kid at home, was a conversation that I had with a four-year-old-boy at the funeral home where I work. We discussed the benefits and drawbacks of the differnt flavours of birthday cake .We also decided that absolutely nobody is ever too old to order a Happy Meal at McDonalds because the toys are awesome sometimes.  And, at the ripe old age of almost-five, Henry decided that although he thought my hair was pretty, he would take my advise and stay away from drinking soda. That’s the reason I gave him that my hair was so curly (after all, it was the fizz from soda that bubbled all the way up from my stomach and into my head that made it that way). Henry stuck to cranberry juice.

I also dragged my middle-aged-not-a-morning-person-butt out of bed to go to an event that was very important to a beautiful woman whom I work with.  She unveiled a painting that she had been working on for a year, and let me tell you, the joy she experienced today was contagious. Life gets better the more we love other people and the more we listen to our intuition.

Friday night dinner was hosted casually without fuss, with new and old friends around the table. Not once did I wonder if it was all good enough – I relaxed and felt the overwhelming fullness of spirit we are all capable of when we let go of ego and just become present.

The takeaway message is clear: enjoy it while you can. Be grateful for what you have, love the people you love without shame and with wild abandon.  Responsibility can include silliness.  Take time to have conversations about life with four-year-olds. They’ve got this living-life thing all figured out.

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Fear: Friend or Foe?

fearful-dog-hidingFear is a fickle, fickle bitch lady.  Like that annoying, inappropriate extrovert at the party,fear pushes us into dark, uncomfortable corners, and often brings out  equivalently dark emotions.

Let’s not mince words: Fear is an asshole of the grandest kind.

But you know what Buddhists say about our challenges right? They say they are our opportunity to practice and to become better people: more patient, kind, understanding, and dare I be gauche and say, zen?

Fear comes and goes in my life, kinda like that extra twenty pounds that sneaks up every now and again. During times of bounty and joy, fear can’t be found anywhere. It’s curled up napping in a corner of the basement next to the grungy, old patio lanterns and cobweb blessed bowling shoes.

During these times, we often forget that fear, loneliness, uncertainty, anger, and all of those other not-so-pretty emotions take up equal residence in our psyches.

Not until we stumble, suffer a loss, or come nose to nose with the not-so-nice stuff about ourselves that fear wakes up, takes a leisurely stretch, yawns, and wanders through the parlour of our minds with pubes poking through its ripped and soiled gotchies. Ah yes, FEAR; the ugly, unkempt brother to confidence.

A few years ago I was completely frozen by fear. Self-doubt strung such a heavy curtain across my life that I felt like I was literally paralyzed. I didn’t like a lot of things about my life, and as it turned out, sitting alone, frozen in fear, I didn’t like quite a number of  things about myself.

If there’s one thing I hate, it’s being vulnerable, and yet allowing yourself to be vulnerable is the only way to receive true love. Not the roses and horse-drawn-carriage-ride kind of love. No, the kind of love that sees the light at the end of the tunnel for you and drags you to it when you are temporarily blinded and paralyzed…usually by fear.

So, as a fiery woman of strong-female-fiery-Irish descent, my natural reaction to fear is anger. I’m a fighter not a fligher. I’m not sure that’s a good thing, but it’s a thing, and it’s my thing, and I’ve grown to accept and own it. Le sigh….

As a quasi-buddhist-agnostic-lapsed-protestant-catholic-ritual-lover, I know that fear is a grand teacher. I know that breathing, being in the moment, and my practice as a Buddhist have taught me that all things, even that fickle bitch lady, Fear can be kind in the end.

Fear has taught me most of the qualities that make me a good person, but they’ve been hard lessons, and they’ve been painful, dark, depressing and scary as hell.

One day I had a frank conversation with my dear cousin, the Magnificent Mr. M. He encouraged me to really think of what exactly I was afraid of.  As it turns out, my deepest fear was essentially (jobless, homeless, loveless) being vulnerable, dependent on the kindness of others

But then I realized, that being able to be kind and loving to others is what makes me the happiest. Face it, I’m just too lazy to be a miserable twat. What that means is, if being able to be kind is a gift to me, allowing others to care for me also satisfies a deep human need for connection and giving. Giving and receiving love and support is an alchemy of spirit that we should never deny.

Huh??? That’s the double-edged sword of life though isn’t it? It’s so cliche, but it’s so true; Great love requires great risk…

…and what else is there but love my darlings? Really, what else is there?

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Beyond Chutzpah

“Confidence is the sexiest thing a woman can have.”
~Aimee Mullins~

I have to admit, I am kind of unique in a breath-catching je ne c’est quoi way.  Or at least that’s what seems to be the case based on some weirdo who mimics my every post, witty turn of phrase and personal philosophy.

As an adult, I have come into my own through gritty experience, and the realization that no matter how much I may want it to stop, life goes on, even during the most stressful of times.

My humour, my kindness, and my ferocity have all matured organically as I put one foot in front of the other during this absurd journey we call life.

I can say the same for everyone else that I know and admire. My favourite guys and dolls have had their edges worn smooth like beach glass. Still they maintain personal boundaries, honour their own personal ethics, and  stand up for what they believe in.

They need not imitate anyone because they know who they are – most of the time. During those times when they’re not sure, they fake it, and that takes chutzpah. That takes personal style, finesse and courage.

No amount of reading the latest pop-culture-pseudo-spiritual tonic will help you develop into a whole person. Trying to be someone else (even fabulous ol’ me), will only delay your own fulfillment.

Quiet reflection. Deep learning. Never, never, never giving up. These are the things that will gently transform  you into a fortress of empathy and fearlessness.