Teenage Head vs. Buddha

be here nowMy sweetie and I are not of the same vintage. We often find ourselves WTF’ing about our friends’ antics, and our choices of entertainment .Yet we persevere, giggle, and learn A LOT.

It was this past weekend at a Teenage Head concert that most of my Buddhist training came back to me. Present moment? Pul-eaze, these folks were hanging on to the past harder than me hanging on to my only child’s innocence.

The present moment was nowhere to be found. Hanging on to beer bottles like the social-teddy-bear-comfort-of-underage-drinkers, fifty and sixty-somethings duded themselves up in outfits that should never, ever, be seen in public. Ever.

Were they having fun, or out there hoping to have the same kind of fun that they organically experienced in their youth? It’s a spiderweb issue, never really to be dissected.

I’ve had the good fortune of being exposed to trauma and crisis. Yes, I did say good fortune. I say that because I’ve witnessed true grace under presssure. Whatever the age or stage, it takes grace to transition to another phase with success and with some modicum of fabulousness.

Which brings me to the crux of what I’ve been thinking about lately; how to remain happy in the present moment, and continue to be spontaneous even as fear disguises itself as good sense and responsibility.

It’s tough. “We get cautious“, my gal-pal said to me during a conversation about how we’re feeling ‘old’.  Just yesterday I was stretched out in a worn blue gown that ties at the back on the pale green sheets of a gurney, being told about parts of my internal organs that were not healthy.

edith-piaf-non-je-ne-regrette-rien-columbia-8I regret nothing; The crazy nights out, my falling in and out of love,  career changes, my devotion to my kiddo, and especially my larger-than-life-sometimes-too-much-for-you personality.

What I do regret though is the caution that has gotten comfy and is taking up space in my psyche.

So, I hope to find joy in new places, experiences and acquaintances, that maybe, just maybe will scare me a little bit.

I beg of you. Let the 80’s hair, leather and old artists go. rade it in for the some half-shaved version  of the now, more sassy leather, and support new artisits. Find something new and fresh. Live in the present moment. Allow your body and your soul to mellow and change. Rejoice in your softening.Read new authors, go see new plays, listen to live music written and performed by kids who could be your own, paint your living room red, learn to code….

Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart, and laugh. Laugh a lot.

 

 

 

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When Christmas Isn’t So Merry

ADVENT WREATH

“Christmas makes me sad, ” one of my colleagues said in passing this week.

Sad was a theme for me in 2015, so her comment caught my attention.

My head jerked up from what I was working on and I listened to what she had to say.

“I still put up the tree and decorate. You know, for the kids.”

“Me too.” I said.

We were speaking with a younger lady who is still a starry-eyed romantic like we used to be. I hope she never loses that magic, because once you lose it, you can’t get it back the same way.

Loss during the holidays spreads a pall over the joy of the season. Loss as in a you’ve experienced the death of a loved one during the holidays, you’ve experienced another type of loss during the year (relationship, job, ability).

As you get older, there tend to be more people and more things to miss. There are deeper elements of life to reflect upon, and joy comes less and less from what is under the tree than from the quiet moments you get to spend with people you love.

When I was a child, the season of Advent was not a spiritual experience. It was a season of ribbon candy, clementines, chocolate galore and lots of toys. As a young woman, it was a season of party dresses, romance and giddy fun.  As a middle-aged woman, I realize the meaning behind the season of Advent; living in darkness, anticipation and mystery, meditation, and the cultivation of patience.

For those who find the Christmas season emotionally challenging, please try and remember that you are not alone. Our silver-bell-and-city-sidewalk-smiles hide a multitude of sadness.

For those who still find Christmas deliriously happy, don’t be afraid to share your enthusiasm. We love it, and are happy knowing that although we may bring peace and love to the season, there are others who bear the burden of bringing the joy.

Wishing you peace this Christmas. Wishing you love. Wishing you the joy of friendship, romance and the thrill of experiencing some of life’s  unfolding mystery.

 

 

Beach Buddha With a Side of Fry Sauce

Tneversaidthathis weekend I made my annual pilgrimage to the lake to enjoy a fresh fish dinner, drink Mackie’s famous Orangade, and dunk my fries in their special fry sauce.  Instead,  I got caught up in a whirlwind of worries.

In the moment, with the sun shining in a clear blue sky,the lake calmly offering refreshment, and soaring seagulls, my meditation training came back to me in a snap. This moment is it. It’s all we’ve got.

To be present right here, right now, holding all of our fears and worries, all the while appreciating how fortunate we are to have what we do, now that my sweet peaches, is the art of living.

Holding hope and loss at the same time seems paradoxical, but it’s the essence of the human mystery. I don’t preach this from living a blessed life. Loss is not a stranger in my life. Loss is a ruthless teacher and a sneaky sonnuvabitch.

Anxiety is the residue that gets left over when loss finally packs its oversized bag and leaves.

So often we associate  loss with death, and forget about all of the other losses; home, love, jobs, and hope.

Hope. Yah, that’s a tough one. Loss often packs a good one-two punch, with a kick to the groin – it always blesses us more than once in a very short period of time, leaving us feeling vulnerable, fearful, numb and hopeless.

With each loss we lose hope in the story of our lives; what we hope to do with our loved ones, how we hope to grow old and with whom or that old wounds may somehow heal with reconciliation.

As a young adult I suffered major losses. Journeying with someone I love as they experience new losses in the shadow of my own,  I began to wonder whether it was easier as a young woman than it is now.

But it’s not about easier or more difficult. It’s about different. Different as in; as we age we process loss much differently in the lengthening shadow of our own mortality. With each loss, our perception is that time offers us less opportunity to recover. Perception is the key word here. Loss can cause despair, and on the other hand it can be used as an opportunity to start fresh, put new building blocks in place (think Lego – it was my favourite toy when I was a kid), and write a new story.

Within the period of a few months, loss has snuggled up in our home, poured itself a drink, put its stinky feet up on the coffee table, and helped itself to an unfair portion of our sanity. It’s like the dreaded overseas relative come to stay for an unknown period of time. To celebrate the arrival of our special guest, my anxiety dressed itself up, rolled out the red carpet and said,  “Welcome, what can I get you? My sleep? A cozy blanket of  pathetic weeping perhaps, or how about some home-cooked fear”?

Despite my anxiety, I am aware of my blessings; my child, my love, my friendships, my life as I know it.

As the Buddha at the beach reminded me, it’s not impossible to hold hope and fear. It’s best just to let them both gently go and appreciate the moments as they are.

Wishing you the presence to practice letting go, being present, and keeping love and hope alive in your heart.

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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We Always Choose

choice

Waiting, Hope, Endings & Beginnings

Christmas may be celebrated with gifts, food, drink, carols and time spent with loved ones, but it begins with Advent.

Advent Vespers

Advent Vespers (Photo credit: holisticgeek)

As my minister preached the sermon this first Sunday of Advent, he took us back and reminded us of our own Christmas’s past;

The first year you were married. The last Christmas you spent with a loved one. The first Christmas you lived away from home and drove for hours to get back to spend time with your family. The very first Christmas memory that you have from  your childhood.  The  very first Christmas you spent with your sweetheart….

Christmas can be a season of great joy, and it can be  season of  unfathomable loneliness, sadness, when hope is all that you have, and it’s pretty hard to find.

Advent is the beginning of the Christian calendar, and it is a season where the beauty of light breaks the long season of darkness. As with all beginnings, there is mystery, and a tangled bundle of emotions that must all be held in our hearts just as they are, intricately and infinitely bound to the others;

Waiting.

Hope.

Endings.

Beginnings.

This Christmas as with all others, I will remember my own Christmas’s past; both the joyful years , and the years I cried alone on Christmas eve with my kiddo tucked in his bed waiting for Santa, and the house filled only with  a roaring, vast, silence.

This year has been one of great change. I have survived endings and beginnings and yet I wait with hope for one more great blessing.

As the season of Advent begins, I wish you the strength to see beyond the endings, be patient in the waiting, and the courage to live with hope for the new beginnings which are sure to follow.

 

 

The Love of a Good Woman

embraceThe love of a good man, woman, or anyone is a rare and beautiful gift.

Too often we ignore the precious friendships that we share with truly loving and giving people. These are the angels in our lives who provide sanctuary for us to disclose our vulnerability, dream without feeling foolish, and provide hope that our heart’s deepest desires will, one day, come true.

After having this many trips around the sun, we all surely have known betrayal,  been wounded, and felt a fool a time or two.

We have all have fallen in love, fallen out of love, and wished for it to find us again.

I do believe that regardless of age or battle-wounds, that it is possible again,   though I dare only whisper it in the quiet of my own midnight thoughts.

Constantly I am reminded by the people I have been blessed to have in my life; do not give up on the love of a good man, or a good woman, or a good anyone,  just because you’ve been hurt before.

The Season of Light

Snow and Lights on Christmas Tree in ForestIf there’s one thing I love about Christmas, it’s the dreamy landscape of Christmas lights.

There’s something about the crystalline quality of lights that twinkle through the icy, clear winter nights. Whether it’s the Christmas tree in my living room, or driving past the city square, sparkling lights are always a gateway to daydreams, wondering and nostalgia.

So this weekend, we set to work putting up garland, trees, villages and patio urns, all twisted and tangled in a wash of lights. It’s a bit of work for a lot of joy.

Tonight dinner is in the oven, and my first batch of short bread will be baked.

Even though we don’t have big, spacious house, we have a home filled with love. This year, when I planted my little summer garden, and set up my cornstalks, pumpkins and Thanksgiving decorations, one of my neighbours poked her grey-haired head out of her patio door, and said thank you.

I put up our lights and decorations so that we have a home to look forward to coming back to at the end of the day, but it makes me feel even better knowing that it makes our neighbours feel the same way.

So, if you don’t want to bother decorating this year, that’s ok, but remember, sometimes it’s your little piece of the planet shining brightly on a dark night that helps someone dream of a better life, and  easier days ahead. It is indeed a season of light, because it is in the darkness we most need a beacon of hope.

After a long, busy autumn, I hope that the next two months find me baking in the kitchen or cuddled in by the fire. Mostly, I hope it finds me with lots of time to spend laughing with my kiddo, and sipping tipples by the fire with my closest friends, dreaming as we gaze at the twinkle lights, and are reminded of what is truly important.

 

“Freedom’s Just Another Word for Nothin’ Left to Lose”

200365584-001I can’t recall when I lost it.

It was somewhere between someone else’s dream, and when I forgot that my own dreams mattered.

It was beautiful really. I had it all planned out, but there was something or maybe even someone, missing.

For the longest time I could close my eyes at night, and picture just exactly what it was I was working so hard for; My son to be raised, my bills to be paid, and a small writing desk in a quaint little cottage that overlooked the water.

After more than a dozen years, that dream has gotten much more difficult to see through the fog of every-day-living anxiety. In fact, I had forgotten about it altogether until a few weeks ago.

I always love to hear Janis Joplin sing her famous lyrics, “Freedom’s just another word for nothin’ left to lose”.  I know exactly what she meant and how that freedom feels. I have been, and will always be my own woman. With no family other than my kid and the cat, I have more freedom to move than anyone I know.

I don’t know when and I don’t know why I gave up on my dream of my cozy little home, and my desk by the window. I’ve been thinking about it lately, and somewhere as I was trying to get it all right, it just crept away and curled up in the corner of my being. Slumbering, but not gone.

Maybe it was that I couldn’t face each day not knowing how I would make that dream come true, and be a good mom, giving my kiddo the stability he needed to step out into the world with a strong sense of who he is. It’s become apparent that my parenting is and always has been, more than adequate, and that my kiddo has become a lovely young man on all counts.

Although it will be awhile before I can pack up camp and move along, I can see it on the horizon, and that makes me happy. I think I might even see a gorgeous hunk of sexy man-steak walking towards it with me too.

At least I hope that’s what it is, because goodness knows I don’t need another cat!

 

 

Past the Expiration Date

Photo found on Pinterest

I do not own rights to this photo – found on Pinterest

This life I’m living is past the expiration date.

This life with my feet on the ground and my head tethered just below the clouds like a helium balloon tied to a fencepost.

It all just feels old, stale, and it’s really kinda stinky.

I’ve reinvented myself a thousand and one times, and each time the shedding of the old skin makes me feel vibrant, and energized. It’s time for a thousand and two.

As the Mumster says, “My body is here, but my spirit is out there waiting for it to catch up.” And so it is…

I’m craving the sea. Wide porches and roads that know slumber and speed limits. Trees whose branches whisper stories of grandmothers as the breeze meets the morning.

I’m craving wild hair and sleep to the rhythm of my own whims, in a bed with an endless landscape of white linens, clouds of duvets and pillows you can wrap your arms around.

I want to listen to blues music and sweet, sweet southern jazz with the windows wide open, with nothing on but a champagne flute balanced between my fingertips, filled to brimming.

I see an old desk and coffee-stained papers strewn across it; the encrypted sign of a life lived passionately, freely, and without regret.

There is a harvest table with the remnants of a rustic dinner, bones sucked clean,  wine stains deep in the wood and sputtering candle flames.

Quiet, quiet nights that beg for another kiss, and still one more; for the remembering and the forgetting.