Maternal In Memorium & Mother’s Day Manifesto

IshtarToday marks the second anniversary of my mother’s death.

Ours was an unusually complex relationship, with  complete estrangement over twenty years ago. Despite the common cry of making amends by well-meaning acquaintances who do not know the depth of the family’s dysfuncionality, I have no regrets when it comes to this relationship, or lack thereof.

My mother was a victim of her times and of abuse. She was the poster child of body loathing and repression.  I grew up surrounded by women’s magazines, and I confess, I still regularly take Woman’s World for their feel-good stories and their little strips of inspiration. It reminds me of a simple time when my paternal grandmother would clip the posts and pin them to the fridge, or tear out the Ziggy comics and pin them to her inspirational bulletin board in the sewing room.

My paternal grandmother was in touch with her power as a woman. She was wise, fierce, kind and strong. She lived fully and taught me what it meant to be my own person.

ziggy Times have not changed so much, and maybe even for the worse. Not only are we expected to manage our homes, but bear the burden of less feminine roles as well.  We are still surrounded by racks full of magazines, air-brushed images of the female form, with covers that imply we are flawed; how to be thinner, how to be happier, how to please our men, how to de-stress so we can be all of the above. We are ingrained in a culture who continues to devalue the natural life-affirming work of women.

You may wonder what this has to do with the anniversary of my mother’s death. Everything.

I was raised by a woman who was  estranged from her own beautiful, glorious and powerful self. I had a choice as a young woman, continue the trauma, or claim my own glorious divine feminine. I chose the latter.

So many of us hate our ankles, our bellies, our hair or our skin.  We punish our bodies and ridicule our own needs. We ignore the call of primitive intuition, and we diminish the great power of fertility and motherhood.

We live in the world of magazine promises; to create a common, submissive self that perpetuates a world where our value and spiritual gifts are damned.

As the years passed and I healed into my own femininity, into my own woman, forgiveness came. My mother was not a bad mother as such, she was  truly a victim of her times, of her inability to seize her own power, and grow into her own, always determining her own worth by the praise of abusive men.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope that all of the women in my life,  spend some quiet time, reflecting on their own beauty and how their body has served them well, their own natural, intuitive intelligence, and their own power to embrace the fullness of what it means to be a woman.

More than that, I hope that whether maiden, mother or crone,  that all of the ladies reading this live each stage of life and every transition fully.  I believe that is the secret to a well-lived life. That is the secret to having no regrets.

Wharehouse Shopping & My Mortality

shoes

I’ve been feeling miserable as hell, but faking it quite well.

Sounds like the lyrics of a B-class rock song, but  it’s true.

I’ve been on the downhill slide of feeling like absolute shit for months, and mostly successful at ignoring it. Until yesterday. Yesterday was not a good day in the health diary of your-fabulous-one.

But here I am, at home, and not dead. Go figure.

Haruki Murakami wrote that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. It’s a particularly Buddhist quote and it resonates with me as does the fact that the natural state of our bodies is one of health.

So, today, faced with setting up more appointments that will see me sitting in dirty yet sterile looking waiting rooms, I decided that despite pain and suffering, I was going to get on with the business of life.  I mean, I have shit to do man.

Spring has sprung in our little corner of the world, and I fully intend on taking advantage of it.

 

Today after my appointment with the doctor, who confirmed that I am indeed NOT dead, I went to get myself a new pair of  shoes. While I was shopping at one of my sketchy wharehouse sales that make me feel the essence of living on one salary, cue the gunmetal steps with the wood two by four railing and bald fluorescent  lighting….

Anyway, I needed these damn walking shoes…at about twenty five steps into what I am convinced is the next best thing to illegal merchandise, the namesake of the wharehouse gets on the intercom and I shit you not, he says this…

….You’ll have to excuse me because I don’t speak Chinese, so you’ll have to put up with my English. To all of you who are tearing apart my store, I’m going to have my staff ask you to leave. I paid for this stuff and I don’t want you ruining it. I’d rather you shop somewhere else because I don’t need your business…

At first I was appalled, and then I almost died laughing. What a circus!

Often I’ve been accused of being too direct, too bold, too independent, too smart,  wearing clothes that are too loud, and having boobs that are too big.

“Have you ever thought of having those reduced?” Um, yah genius. Would you like to pay my bills while I heal? No? Then shut up.

"No, no, no! It's longer with a bigger blade!"Having been feeling loogy for the past few months, I’ve had some time to reflect. I’ve actually been scared. Yes, afraid. I’m not often afraid of things, but the thought of really, really bad news about your mortality can make you a bit anxious.

What I realized is that I have very few (if any) regrets. Other than having my finances in better order, or a little less clutter for my son to clear out, or maybe not being able to be a mom for longer, I really have had a life well-lived.

Most of that is because of my too-muchness. I have lived out the curious corners that most people avoid as they tread the safe line of social acceptance and keeping up with the Jones’.

what are you talking aboutSo I had to give kudos to the man who called out the rabid greed of warehouse shoppers today. I love being with people who know how to cut to the chase when it’s necessary. Life is, indeed, short.

The last thing I want to waste time on is bullshit, and the first thing I want to waste time on is good conversation, delicious food, wonderfully thoughtful company, playing, laughing and being present in the joy that the present moment has to offer.

For now I will cope with this ill-health in the best frame of mind possible, remembering the comforting truth that the natural state of my body is one of health, and that although I may be in pain, suffering is optional.  I will also wear bright clothing, speak my mind, and laugh at everything.

So, if you’re mucking up my present moment, I’m going to ask you to leave. I don’t need your business.

 

 

I Need Your Help: Podcasts & My Fat Ass

rsbushesBefore I go on a rant, let me point out that the purpose of this post is to get your feedback…

This morning, on my day off, my precious day off, I woke up early to annoy my kiddo before he set out for school and maybe, just maybe get in a nice walk and some writing.

So, it’s raining, and some big goof ball in a blue shirt just walked all over my daffodil greens while using his  leaf blower. Not only do I subscribe to the theory that the use of the leaf blower is evidence regarding the downfall of civilization (I’m sure Donald Trump has one to shoe away the leftover talcum powder that he spritzes his undies with apres shower).  I also subscribe to the theory that some giant lanscaping a-hole should know enough to not be blaring that ridiculous contraption prior to 9am outside of bedroom windows.

Anyway, with the drizzle and the bad atmosphere at my little writing window, I decided to make my way to the treadmill next door and walk a bit while my laundry was laundering.

Why? Well, because I’ve been unwell and rather inactive lately. Walking is easy exercise, and frankly, I need it.  I’ve done classes, punished my body with hard workouts and long runs, but I just can’t seem to work up the chutzpah to spank myself into fitness submission lately.

I’m more in the mode of loving the goddess. Which means my taste in music has changed. In fact, I want to listen to stories. As a writer, I do believe that we are nothing but the stories we tell ourselves, and that sharing our stories is the spiritual equivalent of excellent nutrition.

Which brings me to my latest fascination; Missing Richard Simmons. It’s a Podcast about the theories surrounding the disappearance of Richard Simmons.

Not only am I fascinated with this story, I’m a big fan of Mr. Simmons. Despite a terrible relationship with my late mother, I fondly remember her telling me to get off my fat, ugly, ass and sweat to the oldies with her. Ah, yes, Richard Simmons.

I’ve listened to TEDtalks and CBC writing podcasts, but there’s something about this one that has me hooked. Maybe it’s the anticipation of an answer about why such a charismatic man decided to duck out.

But I’m almost finished with the series, and I want more really great stories; nothing sinister or dark, just a really, good story and a sincere desire by the storyteller to enhance our lives. With this, I feel like I could walk forever. Fitness could be my bitch.

Please share your podcast suggestions to keep my butt and my heart in shape. Also accepting DVD copies of Sweatin’ To the Oldies. Not kidding.

PS – To GK – give up your argument about massive amounts of leaves, give up the wasted fuel and instead give the neighbour kid thirty bucks and a rake.

 

 

 

Three Little Birds: In My Head

There have been a few things rolling around in my mind lately.

What would the new year be if we  weren’t inundated with media pimping health and wellness gimmicks?

squatI’ve never been a skinny chick, and I don’t know that I’d be that comfortable being all angles and bones, but I don’t really dwell on it. I haven’t always loved my curves, or my height . As a young woman I struggled against the unrealistic messages that bombarded me via the media.

But I grew into my body, and I learned to love it and rollick in sensuality.

With a partner who finds it necessary to grab my love handles while asking, ” Are you going to the gym?”, the last thing I need is to second guess my own chutzpah. So this brings me to the first thing on my mind; why do people obsess over fitness and diet instead of trying to incorporate healthy habits?

bruce-trailPersonally I find it hard to seek support because people go overboard with it all. I need a workout buddy who can make being active fun. I also, like most women need less housework, a shorter commute, and a thyroid that works.

I need a workout buddy like the person who came up with this quote; I found out today that you can’t get a gym membership, ‘Just to watch’.
I don’t do well with being uncomfortable taking my clothes off in front of a man. My solution: be good to myself. Not to feel sorry for myself, but to rejoice in my over-the-top voluptuousness, sense of humour, joie de vivre and to get my groove back. I’m even going to try some reading material; The Self Esteem Coach, and the classic, The Art of Seduction. 

I honestly hope that something fun and delicious interrupts me so I don’t actually have to do the work and I can cop out, but I likely should do the work.

Honestly, I’m over 40, and I’m convinced that at this age women ought to be comfortable in their own skin and totally owning their goddess.

So that was my first one.

The second thing on my mind has been the take over of mocking Donald Trump in social media. Satire (and this is proven) does not change politics. Humour makes it funnier in a sad and apathetic way, but it’s ineffective as a tool to use against change.

It took a man with true leadership skills to cut the bullshit;

If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with them in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.

protestQuit whining and gather in the streets. Don’t just bitch there darling, do something about it. If you’re not willing to do something about it, please shutupinski.

The third thing that’s been on my mind is the incredibly fast pace of doing absolutely nothing meaningful. Go to work, pay the bills, eat what you’re supposed to, take as many steps as the latest gadget deems healthy, measure every single aspect of your life until you’re too tired to enjoy it. Oh my gawd! What a wonderful life! Pass the lorazapam and tuck me in for the next decade. This sucks.

moomooUm, no thanks. Burn my bras and send me a moo-moo. I don’t really buy in, and I never have. I do find it incredibly more exhausting to be surrounded by people who do.

So, I beg of you. Get off your ass and have some fun. Call me (please!!!) so I can do that with you. When we’re having fun, being creative, laughing and working together toward a kinder, more gentle society, I believe that changing ourselves and the world will happen, just a little more organically and way more joyfully.

P.S. Seriously, I need this moo-moo.

 

A Natural Lush Muses on Muscle

reclining-goddessBy nature I am voluptuous both in body and soul.

I could think of no better occupation than striking a sideways reclining position on a well-cushioned chaise  while holding court with artists and intellectuals. Dressed in something flowing, yet revealing (likely a deep red or aubergine with gold glitter somewhere near the valley of all that god-gave-me), and drinking a chewy red with a long finish…think California meets Plato darlings.

Alas I must actually work. In a suit that makes me look like a Russian prison guard from the 1920’s.

Which means I also must work-out, if I’m to have any figure at all, and remain somewhat psychologically in tact.

I spoke with a friend of mine who is wonderful, outgoing, and joyful. She told me that her social anxiety is building, and going out in a crowd, let alone going out in a crowd that is sweating in body hugging clothing is impossible for her.

Ladies, I know you are out there. I know that you dread the same things that we do. Do not let it stop you. The endorphins – you need them. The friends you make there – you need them. Sure, it comes slowly, and you’ll have embarrassing moments, but we all do.

Get yourself an outfit that works. You may not feel fabulous, but functional is all we can ask for some days. Pick up a 365 motivational book and read it. Celebrate your body for all that it has carried you through, and give it some love in return.

After hitting bottom recently,  I dragged my bottom back to the gym. And I’m loving it. No, it’s not a joke, and no, I don’t strike a Socratian pose on a mat and sneak wine in my plastic sippy cup for adults while ogling the man-steak. I actually sweat and make a tiny effort.

Today, after my little perspire-a-thon, I relaxed onto the floor to do my stretching, which, incidentally is my very favourite part of the whole gym thing. I then made my merry way back to the change room to disrobe of my sweaty gym stuff and pile on a plush towel for the basking-in-the-heat-of-the-sauna portion of my strict physical regime.

Finally, and without a grand show of nipple or jiggle, my favourite white sports bra gave up the ghost. Not having it let loose on the gym floor, or while I was doing my back extensions was a small miracle, but one that I appreciate very much.  I’m also kinda happy that I actually used the damn thing and didn’t let it set in my drawer next to my unused boa and fishnet body stocking…but I digress...

Reading my magazine,wrapped in a cozy and colourful towel in the sauna, I sweat out the gunk and gave a quiet thank you to the universe. Thank you for providing a great facility so close to home. Thank you for new friends. Thank you for not letting the girls run free in public because of a wardrobe malfunction.

To celebrate? I’m going to stretch out in my sweats tonight, sip a glass or two of my favourite red, and muse poetically on…

 

 

 

 

Idle Chatter: The Mundane that Saves Us

coffeetalkI haven’t been myself lately. Burned out and under the weather as it were, I’ve taken to keeping my own company and dreading anything other than sleep or a hot bath. I know I’m not alone when I say that sometimes I feel like I’m at my limit.

 

I’ve been making more of an effort to reach out to my friends. Most of these phone calls and texts look like a casual ‘how are you’, but they are way more than that. I learned long ago that winding conversations often create a safe place to explore what’s going on emotionally . It allows your mind to wrap its limited matter around the vast open parallel universe where our emotions dwell. I have often said that we are nothing, if not the stories we share.

I have long held the belief that you can argue logic, but not emotion; hence the great wars and repeated debates about God-talk and creationism. At some point it comes down to faith, and faith is not logical, faith is emotional. Love is not logical – love is emotional.  Day-to-day functioning is logical. Passion is not logical – passion is emotional, and in my opinion, passion gets things done.

Now don’t get your pants wet. Logic is no greater a reality than emotion. None at all. The goober of it all is that our culture, our world, and everything we base our economy, ethics and livelihoods on assumes that logic has a higher value. It may be so.

It also may be so that our emotions, our subconscious and our intuition are more powerful, more accurate and way more authentic to our spiritual selves than logic. And that, for me at least, holds a hell of a lot of value.

That’s where idle chatter comes in. I’ve been reaching out for conversation, contact and exchange with my friends lately for many reasons; mostly just to try and stay calm and not live in my own head for so long. That shit can make you crazy.

Slow conversation that meanders through a garden of subjects often is the best conversation. It connects us with others, and it reacquaints us with our own thoughts, values and priorities.

If you have friends who can carry a conversation about life, art, faith, politics and relationships, count yourself very lucky. These are the people who buoy us up when it feels like we’re drowning in the tumultuous sea of every-day demands.

Allow space and time for symposiumesque conversations, I believe this helps heal all of us.

 

 

 

My Culinary Relationship with Mother Earth – We Be Jammin’

rearviewmirroI remember the year the apple blossoms froze on the trees. It was 2012. We didn’t have fresh Ontario apples that year, and the prices sky-rocketed.

That was also the year I stopped making apple juice.

So what?

Well darlings, I’m a country girl at heart, and a big part of enjoying the seasons is enjoying whatever our harvest yields. A big part of showing love and coming together as friends and family is sharing a meal together.

The lack of apples impacted a generations long tradition of baking apple crisp, apple pie, applesauce and apple juice.While I live within the rushed pace of the city for now, I stay connected to the seasons and to what matters most by enjoying the tradition of preserving. Apples are the end of the summer fruits, and it was a strange feeling knowing that something as stable as our seasons and harvest were being affected by the impact of consumerism (aka global warming). Our harvest seasons are part of the essence of who we are and the organic rhythm of life.

flat of berriesStrawberry season signals for me the start of true summer. Rhubarb is spring. Of course you can’t forget asparagus and radishes. With the appearance of little white blossoms and bright, juicy, red fruit, I know that the strawberries cometh and that it’s time to enjoy in abundance what the earth provides, and squirrel away the rest for winter.

Yesterday I took a beautiful drive out into the country, got a flat of strawberries, and came home to make my first batch of jam. Next will be raspberries, and this year there will be beets, peaches, pears, tomatoes, and salsa.

 

 

pouring jamEvery year, I think of my grandmothers and my mother, who carried the tradition and taught me how to do these things.  I remember standing on a stool to stir the jam as it cooked, and when we used to use wax to seal the jars.

I remember hot jam slathered on homemade bread. The smell of granny’s kitchen when she made her chili sauce with the cheesecloth sachet of spices simmering in the pot, and being told countless times to go get another jar of this or that for whatever was on the stove. We used to count the number of jars of jam, tomatoes, beets, etcetera in order to ration them until the summer came again. It was never because we couldn’t afford to go to the store to buy more, it was because we subscribed to the rationale; who the hell would eat a can of fruit or vegetables plied with preservatives and chemicals that tasted second rate at best, when you could eat something that tasted good and wasn’t laden with other goop? It just didn’t make sense. And it still doesn’t to me.

There are few people my age who know how to do these things anymore, and I wonder what they must be missing out on, counting summer by work-weeks instead of by the season; strawberry season, raspberry season, plums, pears, apples, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers…

This might even be the year that I get back to making apple juice. Just the thought of hot cider by the fireplace makes me want to cuddle with someone. During the winter months, there’s nothing like opening a jar of peach jam to remind you that soon, summer will be upon us again. Or maybe it’s a jar of tomatoes for a rich, hearty stew.

jam 1Living in the city for the past 16 years, you’d think I’d prefer the convenience of buying something off the shelf, but I don’t.

I love the slow process of gathering, preparing and preserving my own food, knowing that it’s fresh and wholesome. Knowing that what I’m eating and what I’m sharing with the people I love is the best that I can give them.

Wishing you a bountiful summer, and an extra pair of hands in the kitchen.