Nice Matters: A Shout-Out of Gratitude

peonyToday I’ve written a bit about mean, so let’s shake that crappy mojo. I’m going to  write about something more important; nice (aka kindness).

Kindness matters. It’s part of that grace thing that I’ve been trying master for a few years.  We get it right sometimes, and we get it wrong sometimes, but what matters is that we strive to get better at it.

It’s good for us. Just as good as a healthy diet, or eight hours of sleep. Nice makes our bodies happy and our spirits calm.

Lately there has been a lot of nice in my life. My ‘crazy’ family and friends have been generous in their support of my son’s flight from the nest. He as been encouraged, supported, and cheered on. As a mother, there is nothing better than knowing your child is thriving and that they have a solid support network or friends, mentors, coaches and family. Thank you for being nice.

I’m taking a little longer to adjust to the transition. I tear up daily, and am struggling with the transition of being totally dedicated to my kiddo to being totally dedicated, but from a distance. My friends have been kind and gentle and supportive. Thank you for being nice.

I have flooded my social media feed with proud mom moments and not once has anyone told me how annoying it is. Thank you for being nice.

This is a challenging transition year for me, once again wondering where I will live, work and mom from in a year. In advance to my friends and family; thank you for being nice.

 

 

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For Women Only: Tips For Staying Youthful Looking

Granma-hippieWaking up and checking our smartphones is a sign of the times I think.

I check to see if my kiddo needs me. I check to see what the schedule is like at work, the weather, how many of you read my latest post, and what some small-minded arsehole of a man has decided I need to know about making myself beautiful.

Ok, the last point – I really don’t wake up to read that. I am exposed to it.

This morning, while scrolling through my feed Cheech Marin shared a post that suggested what not to do to stay youthful looking. Some of the tips included;

Do not wear jersey anything

Do not wear long hair.

Don’t wear loose fitting anything, but don’t wear skinny jeans either

Don’t wear chunky, funky frames for your glasses.

Don’t wear a specific shade of pantyhose.

Although some of the suggestions may feel right to some of the women out there, it all felt a little too 1950’s-keep-your-ankles-crossed to me.

And really, Cheech Marin is sharing this? Cheech, I’ve got news for you; grown women don’t give a shit what you think, and perhaps you might take a look in the mirror? Oh, no, I’m not going there and being nasty about his looks. Nope. That’s not what this is about.

Cheech, like everyone else on the planet is beautiful because of his smile, his authentic style, and his way of being Cheech, nothing more and nothing less.

Which brings me to the essence of what I want to say; screw everyone else’s ideas. For instance, I demanded a small piece of chocolate cake for breakfast…

Ok, maybe make healthy choices for yourself so you don’t end up with gout, but do be (doo-be-doo) sure to enjoy this life.

phyllisMy suggestions for staying youthful for women and men;

Don’t let your weight hold you back from anything. Back fat and belly rolls do not mean you deserve to be holed up in the house alone. Laughter and curiosity are healthy, no matter what your size.

Wear your hair however you damn well please, and don’t worry about it all day long.

Make-up: Do whatever makes you feel good. Some days I’m glam, some days I’m  ma’am.

Clothing; Are you comfortable? Yes? Then that’s good.

Pantyhose – do whatever floats your boat – men, women and everyone on the spectrum.

Jersey fabric – absofreakinglutely.

Eyeglasses; You likely will need them as you age. Wear something funky, wear something classic, just fucking wear them so you don’t have to ask someone else to read menus or street signs to you.

Do not be so infatuated with yourself that you miss out on the wonderful world around you. Do not be a navel gazer…

And that my darlings is your list to help you stay youthful. Look outward. See the world, and engage in it. No one cares about your hair, or your panty hose, or the shade of your frames. We do care that you are clean, authentic and kind.

Don’t stink.

Be true to your personal values.

Be nice.

Making Space: The Genius of Silence

coffee lakePractice makes perfect.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied upon this little nugget of wisdom as a parent when my kiddo whines about not being able to do something. My response has always been; “How do you think I got so good at it? Practice makes perfect; get to it.

Yesterday I was anxious. The kind of anxious that feels like you have a thousand bees buzzing in  your head telling you all of the things you need to do, have to worry about, and can’t control. I was miserable; inside and outside.

Fortunately for me, I had a few hours of quiet time at the end of the day .Quiet for me is heaven. Quiet in the morning gives me time to meditate, and to take in just how fortunate I am.  It’s never a process whereby I sit cross-legged on a cushion wearing a mala made in Bali or a tunic made of hemp. No. It’s simply sitting with my thoughts.

Last night, in the quiet of solitude, I was able to spend some time reading the words of Thich Nhat Hanh.   It reminded me that my practice is not perfect. Far from it in fact. Just because I studied at the temple, attended dharma classes and go to silent retreats does not mean that my meditation muscle is exempt from a good workout on a regular basis.

As adults, we forget that our health as a whole is something that we need to practice on a regular basis.

It’s time for me to make space for some of the books and advice that I’ve gotten in the past. It’s time to make an effort again putting theory into practice.

It’s time for the genius of silence, and for my practice of peace to become a little bit more perfect.

Letting Fear Scream Like the Child It Is

It’s April 7th and there is snow on the ground. I feel (physically) like I’ve been hit by a truck , and you know what? I’m so miserable I want to crawl out of my own skin.

zen circle.jpgWhich is really crappy. But sometimes crappy is ok. Sometimes we must embrace the tired, sore, discouraged and frustrated parts of our psyche and let them have their say.

Today I’m not in a shit mood, that’s why I’m writing about it. I’ve gained a little more perspective and had a little more sleep.

You see,  I was also in a shit mood on the 9th. Despite the sun shining in as I drove to work,  some poor sod got the finger when he rode my bumper, and not just a flip of the bird. I must have held it up there  and waved it around for a full 10 seconds like a hillbilly waving the confederate flag. I wanted to make sure he saw it. Yah, not a proud moment.
It’s in these moments, I want to not only be aware of, but practice, Thich Nhat Hahn’s famous teaching about cradling our suffering like a newborn baby. I want to be aware of that, but what I usually do is spiritually squirm like a spoiled toddler, wanting to stamp my feet, whine until someone gives me ice cream and then tucks me in for a nap.  But I am getting better at it.

Spiritual practice is long and sometimes it feels grueling. In a culture that praises speed, cultivating grace is a long, slow, lifetime process.

Recently I’ve had the benefit of more solitude and silence than usual. Unlike during years past, I’ve had questions of clarity pop into my mind about my attitudes, reactions and fears. Better still, I’ve had the opportunity to let the reasons why come to the surface.

angry trollWaving a white flag and needing a hug, all of these reasons have come crawling out of the past. Finally. Since the distillation of my emotions and thoughts, fear seems to be their leader.

When you’re angry, jealous, sad or hurt, ask yourself why? And then ask yourself why again. And again, and again….trust me, it always, always boils down to fear.

So give yourself the bad days, the pissy, miserable moods, and yah, every once in a while you might slip up and lay on your horn for thirty seconds or flip an intentional bird. Just look a little deeper if you can when the clouds have passed. You might catch a glimpse of your fear poking out of hiding, ready to make friends.

 

Home for the Holidays; Wherever Your Heart Is

wanderingI’ve lived in this place too long. Perhaps I’ve just lived in my own head for too long with very little meaningful companionship.

Christmas is a time of reflection. We tend to let our minds wander to our relationships with the people and places we love.  As I do that, I realize that I’m at home nowhere and everywhere all at the same time.

As a child, I never felt at home when I was at home. That helped me cultivate feeling at home within myself, wherever I landed, or lived.

“I could never live in the city,” or “I could never live way out in the boonies, ” are the common things people say when we talk about the benefits and drawbacks of city vs. small-town living.

More common at this time of year is; “What did you ask for, for Christmas.”

To which I think a very mature and calm, “WTF”?

Seriously, at this age is there anything a person really needs?  I have everything I need, so what could I possibly want that anyone other than myself can give me?

Sure, I want my every-day luxuries; my favourite French perfume, champagne in the fridge, a good book, a formal dress, good shoes, and a piece or two of very fine chocolate hidden away for emergencies. But I look after that myself darlings.

Right now, what I want is to run away.

The question is from what and why?

In my experience it’s because I’m searching for fulfillment. Looking for somewhere I feel more at home than home. It’s happened a few times, but I’ve been pulled back by responsibility.

At this  mid-life juncture,  I can’t move, and I can’t afford to take half a year off to find myself in a sailboat on the Caribbean sea, or wandering the cobblestone streets of old Europe.

I’m counting down to when I might throw this city living in, and hide away in the country by a lake. Or perhaps I’ll move to the heart of a city, ditch the car and commute for a bachelor pad and a subscription to the theatres.

In order to fully think all of my options through, I might need to pack my trusty carry-on and make a last minute skip across the pond.

Who knows how this wanderlust and dissatisfaction with life will play itself out.  It’s the classic theme that literature reflects so well; leaving home to find yourself.

Since my nature to nurture is not being fully realized as a singleton, maybe it’s time to go on an adventure to mine the joy I know is hidden somewhere deep within myself, make a plan, and have something to look forward to.

This Christmas, one of my wishes for you is that  you find yourself at home, wherever you are.

 

 

Grace: Not Just a Popular Name for 8 Year Old Girls

grace-and-imperfectionGrace is a practiced art. It is a quality of character made up of a unique combination of natural poise, and practiced during the most difficult of circumstances.

As it so happens darling, yours truly was born with little grace.

I was launched into the world among a family of women who were either unstable (read; bat-shit cray-cray), or fiery as hell. I thank my lucky stars that my character was forged on the fiery side. Although passion does not ally itself with grace, it is more conducive to being trained to appreciate it.

During my lifetime as a working adult, I have had the privilege of journeying with people through times of crisis. Even though this tends to bring out the worst in people, it also brings out the best. Grace is a quality of character that I aspire to nurture within myself, and admire greatly among those who already have mastered the art of living with grace.gracewater

Being graceful is a cinch when the world is on your side, not so much when you’re experiencing crisis.

Suffering gracefully does not mean suffering in silence. It means suffering openly with those whom you can trust to honour your feelings without question. It also means knowing when to disengage with those whom have not cultivated the same quality of character.

Grace is a beautiful way of being in the world, and I have yet to master it.

With each challenge I recognize the opportunity to practice; to open to the world and accept gracious guidance, or seek shelter from the overwhelming amount of superficial advice and ill-informed opinions.

It has been a challenge for me lately, but I recognize my struggle for what it is, and it’s been a tremendous learning experience.

Wishing you the strength to carry yourself with gracious dignity, and friends who have already laid a path for your journey toward finding the strength to be  kind, gracious and loving.

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