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Who Wants to Get Laid?

fashionI’ve decided that it’s angst that’s missing from my mid-life journey.

It’s a truth that jumped up in all its 1980’s-headband-glory and slapped me in the face. I was sitting at a beer-tent table taking in the motley cast of characters who had come out to see two 80’s bands, have a few drinks in the heat of the summer sun and relive their youth.

The bad hair, neon shirts, and big hair were all there, but the angst was missing. The tension was gone.When the lead singer of Loverboy howled out, “Who wants to get laid?”, only a vague cheer went up. We all knew that getting laid now would never be the same as getting laid then.

The crowd who once thought the term making love was creepy, totally gets it now. An older man once wisely told me that some things are just better as fantasies. He was right. The fantasy of getting laid then is much different than the fantasy of getting laid now; tight schedules, middle-aged bodies and the been-there-done-that lack of sheen.

Just like spiral perms and acid washed jeans, angst has its place in my repertoire of nostalgia. After all, it was the perfect fuel for breathtaking passion. I have to thank it for the part it played in my well-spent youth, despite it’s lack of discernment. Angst carried with it a hungry awareness of mortality. That hungry awareness has turned to sated gratitude now that I’m past my best before date.

Oh, and don’t go on about there’s still so much time left to do what I dream of. I know that. Oh, boy do I know that. Don’t get me wrong, I still experience desire. I’m still the same hot-blooded soul that I ever was. I’m just ok with it all now. There’s less anxiety, more satisfaction. Less time wasted on the people and things that don’t make sense in an energy exchange involving the elements of life that I find satisfying.

I do not buy into the idea that I need to define myself with some great mid-life shift. It’s the great continuum of false goods sold to women these days – that we must reinvent ourselves rather than continue to become fully who we have always been.

Yes, Mr. Loverboy, I would like to get laid. I would also like to stretch out in a large, comfortable bed afterward, sip some bubbly and nod off rather than have to hump in uncomfortable spaces and rush to get my clothes back on. Thank you for asking.

Gratitude fills in quite nicely for angst, with it’s soft and ample settling into the hollow spaces. My own angst packed up and waddled off years ago, leaving me quite content with who I am, and less anxious about making mistakes.  I also have better hair.

 

 

 

 

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Always Say YES!

lovesomeone

During a quick lunch with my Mumster the topic of keeping oneself vibrant while in the midst of feeling stuck became a theme. I like to think that our conversation was inspiring to us both. Just having a quick visit with a kindred spirit, helped my sense of well being.

As some of you may know, my day-to-day life has changed recently. I now find myself in the position of stay-at-home-caregiver. It’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from work, and frankly, it’s like living in a thick fog.

Anxiety has its’ natural place during times of transition and healing. I wish I had someone here to give me a hug, offer me a passionate escape, or a giddy drunken Christmas date night.  But that is not so.  What I have is myself; the stalwart, courageous, positive, kick-you-in-the-ass-just-enough-to-keep-you-going-all-day fabulous woman that I am.

The first thing I reluctantly gave up being here doing what I’m doing, was my sleep pattern. I’m a natural night owl, and later nights are always the first thing to come galloping back into my life  when I’m not on my work-home routine. If  I could force away the anxiety of wondering how I’ll adjust when I do go back to work, late nights aren’t a bad thing.  Mostly because just last night, head on the pillow, I was lulling myself to sleep, silently re-telling the stories of my literally ‘shitty’ day,  and it came to me! Novel number 3! Late nights are a breading ground for creativity, and that’s heady stuff.

Quietly, I got up in the darkness, crept past the orange-pink glow of the salt lamp, and made my way to my notebook, scrounging a pen from the medication log on the nursing cart in the makeshift hospital room that is now the living/dining room.

I curled up under my favourite wool blanket from Ireland, and wrote a basic outline, including main characters, and a handful of their personality quirks. I then pounded back a piece of lemon cake, the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of dill pickle chips, swigged back a hot cup of tea, and then went back to bed. Inspired.

That’s the same way I woke up.

Not only do I have a full novel to edit, I have another one ready to be born, and butter softening on the counter for a batch of sugar cookies which I will decorate in layers over the next two days for the sole purpose of doing something other than letting my brain rot. I have a list of books to read, and have managed to finish 3 of them, and I”m slowly grinding my way through the fourth (  a dense book of essays).  I also have wine. And whiskey. And tea.

These things are enough.

Enough to keep me motivated, creative and vibrant (under the circumstances).

Yes, I miss my yoga classes. I miss taking my time and poking about my favourite shops. I miss even going for a flipping walk! But these are not things I have control over right now. I can control what I manage to do while I’m limited to the house with brief periods of respite and so can you.

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As I’ve written many times, the spirit of Advent (waiting with wonder in the darkness) is one that resonates deeply with me. It reassures me of an idea that I believe in; out of the darkness and the muck of life, sprout the most fruitful of ideas and experiences.

If you are feeling stuck, take a few minutes to yourself. Grab a notebook and pen; jot down unfinished projects you’d really like to finish. Maybe it’s a new skill you’d like to learn  or  a book you would love to tuck in to read from start to finish.  Just let yourself relax into some kind of stillness of mind that will accompany you on a journey of wonder and discovery.

Most importantly if you have friends out there who offer a different perspective, a couple hours of respite, a moment of escape, always, always, always say YES!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Sweet Summertime

Summer solstice is almost upon us. You know, the phase of this trip around that sun that marks the true onset of summer.

We’ve all seen the social media posts with funky patio lights and carefree al fresco dining; vintage glassware, impossibly perfect outdoor furniture (that would wither with one rainfall), and no mosquitoes.

This side of 40, we all know that it’s never that perfect. But it can come pretty damn close.  The secret to enjoying summer, or anything else at this stage of the game, is a certain dude-ish je ne sais quoi.  A few flowy, funky, retro tops to hide a multitude of middle aged sins, and plenty of liquids.

The idea of cottaging, camping and celebrating everything that can be celebrated is a great idea, but the reality can be a little tiny bit exhausting.

So I’ve created a little backyard oasis which includes a couple of sets of dated christmas lights which are now trendily referred to as ‘fairie lights’, a water feature from my partner’s ex’s house, and a load of carefree climbing vines.  I added a few palms just to remind myself that when winter arrives, so do the snowbird deals to the Caribbean.

Creating your own, personal oasis leaves plenty of time (no snakey fifty kilometre traffic nightmare into the muskokas or Haliburton Highlands) to tear off your work-a-day clothes, throw on something loose, pour an icy cold gin and tonic and turn up the Jimmy Buffett in the backyard (before and after work, although you might want to substitute coffee before work).

In order to make summertime a little bit more summery and a lot less hectic may I recommend a few of my mid-life-mid-summer-secrets?

  1. The muu-muu. Call it a caftan, or whatever you like, but it’s a lifesaver. No bra. No panties. No public entertaining in this either, but you will feel somewhat goddess like with a generous heap of nonchalant I-could-give-a-craplessness.  Mrs. Roper to the rescue.

2. An easy cocktail. I recommend a simple gin and tonic. Either Tanqueray with Lime, or Hendricks with cucumber. Either works. Poured over ice, it’s simple and refreshing.

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3. Non-alcoholic beverages. Let’s face it, middle-age and empty nesting lets us fall into a relaxed way of being that does not always require assistance. A simple pitcher of pink lemonade in the refrigerator or a sumptuous hot tea can do the trick. My favourites include T by Daniel’s Night in Rio, or Tazo Wild Sweet Orange.

yellowtea

4.  A damn good book that you can sink your teeth into. This could be a post unto itself, but I’m going to stick with just one book for now. If you are a mid-lifer, empty-nester, or a woman who feels like change is on the horizon, I highly recommend, Women Who Run With The Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes.  Reading this will make you 100% confident wearing your muu-muu. I promise. No gin required.

women who run with the wolves

5. Fire. Yes, that’s right you need some fire. It’s primal, it’s hypnotising, and it can bring you back to yourself after a long day at work. If you have the space, try a firepit, maybe a chimenea, and for smaller spaces, try a little fire-pot.

chimenea

6. Soundscaping. A water feature can add that lovely trickling sound that makes you think that you’re somewhere other than your urban cage. If there’s no room for that, or no budget, try some of the 1990’s Dan Gibson Solitudes tracks cranked up to drown out the neighbour’s nattering,

Celebrating the sunshine is quintessential to summertime, and creating your own oasis optimizes all of that joyous vitality that the season brings. Wishing you the relaxed kind of muu-muu, gin-drinking, pink lemonade, feminist-reading kind of summer you deserve.

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Life As Poetry: A Lesson From L. Cohen

bubblesI woke up this morning and don’t you know it, that tiniest bit of fear about change had crept in while I was sleeping.

Change often is an uncomfortable process that yeilds beautiful results – if you let it.

So, as I padded around in my bare feet looking for my glasses, I paused to open an email from a couple whom I consider kindred spirits.  It inspired me, motivated me, and chased that little inkling of fear right out of my heart. It reminded me that my life ought to be more like my poetry; free flowing and without too much overthinking.

It’s time for change. It’s time to give my creativity, ‘land, lots of land under starry skies above,’. It’s been fenced in far too long.

I have work to do, and what better way to get motivated to clear physical and existential space than to listen to the wisdom of Leonard Cohen???

Wishing you a beautiful day…xo

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Misfit Thanksgiving – Getting to Know You

give thanksI had the pleasure of getting to know an acquaintance much better last night as our Thanksgiving celebration wound down into the quiet evening hours.

I had known this gentleman and his wife for years, but never really had an opportunity to speak to him. He discussed community, politics, religion and generally, the stuff that makes the world go ’round.

This is the beauty of what I have come to call our, “Misfit” get-togethers; gathering people together who are kind and intelligent to share an evening of, well, true sharing.

The definition of Misfit is; One who is unable to adjust to one’s environment or circumstances or is considered to be awkwardly different from others.

As we age, being around people we actually like is a big deal. It’s rejuvenating, fun, and renews our belief that good triumphs over evil. Being surrounded by thoughtful (as in they think independently, and care about how they impact others), intelligent people with a true sense of who they are and how they show up in the world every day is something that I am thankful for.

Most people define themselves against their first experience of ‘them’ and ‘us’, basically, how and where they fit into the family unit.

For some, family gatherings are just another uncomfortable event they feel they have no choice but to attend. Others have tossed decorum and bunk to the side, and have decided to live a life less complicated and simply spend time with people they actually like.

As we charge full-steam ahead into the season of holidays that seem to be tied to family tradition and sanguineous relationships, don’t forget that it’s all a load of crappola.

These traditions of gathering are an opportunity to spend time with the like-minded, differently-minded or whatever-mined, kind, loving, wonderfully diverse people whom you call friends. If you have been invited to our home to share a ‘misfit’ holiday with us, know that you have my respect, and that I like you.

The good people whom I like; they are my family of friends, and for them, I am truly thankful.

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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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Planning Ahead & Being Prepared

camp coffeeWe plan for everything. Generally speaking we plan ahead for everything that could go wrong.

You know, health insurance, emergency phone numbers programmed into our phones, an extra bottle of bourbon on the back shelf just in case.

Fortunately or unfortunately, I’ve had a life of planning ahead; planning for this, that or the other thing. Sure I’ve planned for holidays, lunches with the ladies or romantic evenings of carnal bliss, but I’ve never had the luxury of planning for something wonderful.

Until now.

And it’s a strange feeling darlings. Strange as in; Yowsa! Holy smokers! I’m so happy I could cry…

When your 40 years of living have taught you that the most wise fallback is a door that only you have the key to, and suddenly you realize that’s changed, well darlings, it can throw even the most guarded of ladies off-balance.

I’m not sure whether to issue the command to fetch mamma her bourbon or break open the champagne from the art deco chaise lounge where my psyche rests in my wee, but very ornate girl-brain.

It’s a man darlings. Yes, it’s a mere flesh and blood man who has me peeking inside a life that has suddenly cracked open, exposing all of the precious treasures of sentiment that have been so well hidden away for so very long.

I do not use the term man lightly my juicy little plums. You see, boys and guys and nicknamed personas have pranced through my life like a summer holiday parade; all dazzling spectacle and curiosity. They’re the kind of people you bring a lawn chair for, and pack up and leave when the band stops playing. no anxiety

Men don’t require you to do that. Men swing wide the doors of a woman’s heart and set up camp.  No worries, no drama, no grand, sweeping gestures. It just happens and it’s good. Just. Like. That.

So here I am with the life that I’ve always hoped for. Job – check. Kiddo responsible and ready to launch – check. Lifetime friendships – check. Man who has set up camp and has the coffee pot on while I get lost in my hair-brained writer’s mind – check.

You can plan all you want for the what-if’s, but I don’t think you can plan when it comes to matters of the heart, and that’s a good thing. A very good thing.