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Blowing Out the Candles

candlesOn the eve of my 4o-plus-somethingish birthday, I cannot help but reflect upon the lessons I have learned this year. In theory I’m an expert.  In practice, however, that’s another story.

I do believe that the difference between theory and practice is the key to successful living though darlings, because bridging that gap is the difference between annoying should-sayers, and the people who shine brightly and inspire the rest of us.

Grace has been a concept I’ve wanted to put into practice  throughout the past few years. There are  times I have failed miserably; my birthday breakdown at a bar while trying to sort out my mother issues; my insecurity as a partner, my ability to maintain a positive attitude in light of the every day demands of living. Yah, I’ve failed a few times.

But I have learned a few things from all of that bluster, and I’m old enough to take the liberty of sharing them with you;

  1. I have spent way too much time on my hair.
  2. We allow ourselves to be led by a false economy and fabricated news. Does it feel right? Do it. Does it feel wrong? Don’t. The world would be a better place if we all followed the golden rule.
  3.  If you love your body, it will love back. At a certain point you realize your body feels better when you eat this and not that; when you do this and not that.  It loves water and apples and decadent butter cream chocolate from your favourite Chocolaterie. It does not like to listen to people incessantly rambling about fad diets or extreme routines. Love your body, let it gently communicate to you, and it will love you back.
  4. Kindred spirits aren’t terribly hard to find, but it’s terribly hard to be vulnerable enough to get to know one.
  5. Create things. Anything. Creativity is your human spirit making itself present in the world. Let it sing, paint, write, carve, stitch, bake….whatever! Let your mind wander and your spirit reveal itself.
  6. Do not let bitchy people ruin your day. Attitude is contagious – be sure to protect yourself.
  7. Nobody’s watching. Seriously. Just relax.
  8. Change is scary, but constant. If you can be excited through the fear, you have life licked.
  9. You need friends of all ages; older ones and younger ones, and people who transcend age. You need nurturing and affection and the awesome healing power of human touch.
  10. Flannel jammies, hot tea and a good hobby to keep you occupied are three simple things that are highly under-rated.
  11. Always, always, always buy the shoes.
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What Will You Choose???

"In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth." ~Patti Smith~
“In art and dream may you proceed with abandon. In life may you proceed with balance and stealth.”
~Patti Smith~

Tonight my darlings, I offer you a list of things I would do all over again and perhaps  for the first time.

It’s up to you to decide which may be which. Either way, I hope it’s an inspiring list.

What will you choose to do with your one precious life?

How will you decide to move forward each and every day?

When you reach a certain age, celebrating your birthday becomes more than a celebration, it becomes a spontaneously choreographed victory celebration.

Christ, we’re half-way there,” my gal-pal told me today as she finished reading the birthday card I’d written for her. Following which we exchanged stories of our lives; children, men, home…

What I wanted to tell her was that, if we’re lucky, we’re just half-way there. Based on genetics and historical data, my life is two-thirds caput.

When you frame it like that, perspective becomes brutally clear and time becomes even more precious.

We discussed our priorities, wishes, lost opportunities, and we  both came to the same conclusion. As strong, intelligent, very delightfully succulent women, we decided that the things that were important to us in our 20’s were over and done with.

Oh, don’t mope. It’s not that bad. What we meant was that we have seized those moments and have no regrets. Instead we each have a list of wishes that we’ve checked off. Sure, it sounds a little like we’re finished with all of the great, wonderful, and awe-inspiring things that life has to offer, but that’s not true.

What we have, instead, are lives well lived. Lives in which we have done exactly as we’ve pleased, with all of the gratitude, regrets, miracles and mistakes that anyone could ever ask to have. We know the thrill of travel, passionate love affairs, birthing and raising children. We will not dignify a mid-life, ‘what-if’ crisis. We are too freaking fabulous for that.

We know the value of a life well-lived, of choosing joy every, single,freaking day despite imperfect conditions. We don’t have the dreaded bucket list. A bucket list is for someone who didn’t have the courage to live while they had the benefit of exuberant youth and no safety net. They missed the point. A bucket list is for those who court fear and bow to the status quo.

If you live in the moment, you know joy as you know your own self. You  have a smile that spreads into your bones, and you know exactly what I’m talking about.

So, as I had a long hot soak in the bathtub tonight, with a glass of Ironstone and a head full of memories and desires, I thought about the things I would do again, and what I still wish for.

Here is your promised list

  1. Quitting a job to follow a dream
  2. Being flat-out in the darkest of country nights next to a handsome stranger on a mission to spot falling stars, wearing make-do baggy sweaters and wool socks
  3. Being kissed against the wall of a beach bar by a stranger in the rain in a foreign country
  4. Skinny dipping with a lover in a hot tub and laughing so hard tears come
  5. Taking a last-minute vacation with my bestie and living like there wasn’t a tomorrow for just a few days
  6. Fall, deliriously in love and keep that falling-in-love happening until I’m so old and wrinkled that I don’t even know how to spell the word.
  7. Decide that life is too short to wake up feeling inadequate.
  8. Road-tripping on a moment’s notice across borders, with nothing but a few dollars and a great playlist.
  9. Saying good-bye to people who are vampires of joy, energy and my happiness.
  10. Saying yes.

Say yes darlings. Just say yes to life. I promise, you will slide into old age, delirium and death a very, very happy soul.

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Happy Birthday To Me!

now at lastIt’s my birthday.

Today I officially begin the second half of my life. I am, by most accounts officially middle-aged. 40.

Time to step up my serenity and sense of adventure.

Time to be gentle on myself and keep myself occupied learning new things.

Time to settle into the contentment that comes with accepting that this is, in all likelihood, as good as it gets.

Time to do exactly as I please!

I’m so very much looking forward to my birthday party, a birthday cake, and a room full of the best friends anyone could ever dream of having!

 

 

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This is How I See You: Grandmothers & Christmas

Frosty Footpath - winter snow
Frosty Footpath – winter snow (Photo credit: blmiers2)

This post is for all of the Grandmothers out there.

It’s for all the grandmothers who teach us how to bake and cook, how to always make room for one more at the table, why homemade gifts are the most meaningful.

In doing so, they also teach us how to hold our heads up day in and day out, even when the magic of Christmas has been gathered up and stored away for the next year.

I start celebrating Christmas as soon as I get the itch to play Christmas music. That usually happens in July sometime.

Most songs make me sing along happily, but one always makes me stop and remember the wonderful Christmas times I shared as a  young woman with my Grandmother;

“Sense of joy fills the air
And I daydream and I stare
Up at the tree and  I see
You’re a star up there”

(Wintersong, Sarah McLachlan)

 I’m writing this today because today would have been her birthday, and being only three days apart from my own birthday, memories of her start flooding my mind from now until Christmas.

My grandmother seemed to have a magic kitchen. For weeks she turned out baked goods and meals for our large family.

The space around the bottom of her Christmas tree was a black hole that just kept delivering gifts for the entire family, many of them handmade.

Every year she decorated her tree in a different theme. All of the decorations were handmade, and she made at least 101 of them. When I asked her why she made 101, she said it was so that she could say, ” I made over one hundred….”, and then she laughed.

Each year the tree took on her whimsy. One year it was Cabbage Patch Kids, one year it was farm animals, another year it was quilted hearts, and yet another year her tree was graced with finely crocheted white angels.

No matter who tagged along for the holidays; boyfriends, girlfriends, neighbours, clients, friends….there was always room for ‘one more’.

Whether it was a happy year, or a sad year, Grandma taught me that life, indeed, does always go on, and it was up to me to make the most of it, and carry on with my dreams.

For the grandmothers out there with grandchildren whose toddling threatens to break all the decorations on the tree, or the ones with teenage grandchildren attached to their cell phones, don’t lose heart.

We learn more from you than you could ever imagine, and we are deeply grateful. Well, at least when we grow up we are.

Things My Grandmother Taught Me During Christmas Time:

1) You can never, never, ever, have enough butter.

2) A deep-freeze is a lifetime investment.

3) Always have a little hooch stashed away for the really, really long days.

4) Do a little bit every day, and it’s not so difficult.

5) Handmade gifts always hold more meaning than anything else.

6) There is always room for one more at the table.

7) Invest in a table that expands

8) Presence is a gift, not presents.

9) Buy flour, icing sugar, coconut, cocoa, gingerale, and green and red maraschino cherries in bulk.

10) Stop to enjoy a cup of tea by the light of the Christmas tree at the end of the day after everyone else is in bed.

In honour of my wonderful Grandmother, I dedicate this song. It’s ‘her’ song during the holidays. I hope you listen to it, and remember your grandmother, and the wonderful things that she taught you.

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Lake is frozen over Trees are white with snow And all  around reminders of you Are everywhere I go

It’s late and morning’s in no hurry But sleep won’t set me  free I lie awake and try to recall How your body felt beside me

When silence gets too hard to handle And the night too  long

And this is how I see you In the snow on Christmas  morning Love and happiness surround you As you throw your arms up to the  sky I keep this moment by and by

Oh, how I miss you now, my love Merry Christmas, Merry  Christmas Merry Christmas, my love

Sense of joy fills the air And I daydream and I stare Up at the tree and I see You’re a star up there

And this is how I see you In the snow on Christmas  morning Love and happiness surround you As you throw your arms up to the  sky I keep this moment by and by