The theme is the Longest Night: Finding Light in the Darkness, and is always, always, always held on the eve of winter solstice (December 21).
1)Send out invitations however you like – I use social media and the occasional email.
Given the theme, invite friends whom you feel you can be spiritually naked with. The more the merrier, or not. It’s up to you. Personally I love having an eclectic group of friends who are intelligent and kind.
2)Each person is encouraged to bring a piece of writing, poetry, artwork, music or visual art to share with the group. Have them bring copies to give out if they can.
3) Pot-freaking-luck – this not only takes the pressure off of the host, but it offers everyone a chance to bring a special dish that honours the spirit of the evening. Sharing food is an intimate act of friendship.
4)Offer a place to sleep should anyone be enjoying a few beverages or, if you’re in Canada, cannabis.
5)Offer all of the seating you can; couches, chairs, cushions, stools. Basically, form a cozy circle where people can relax.
6) Draw numbers to see who shares first, second and so forth.
7)Begin the evening with a toast, or reading appropriate to the theme. Light a candle as a symbol of the season of mystery and hope. The joy of the evening is to share, discuss and share some more, taking everything at a leisurely pace.
Like most adults, the magic of Christmas wanes with each passing year. This year I’m struggling to grasp that spirit at all, even a tiny shred of it.
I absolutely love getting out for Christmas dinners with my friends, I enjoy strolling the markets, and listening to Christmas music. I realized just how un-Christmasy my life is this year after reading an update from my cousin this morning about having his first Christmas dinner in the books.
This after waking up and staring at the ceiling of what used to be my writing room, and thinking just that…this does not feel like Christmas.
When I was a young mother, doting on my son, baking, cooking and inviting friends into our home made the season so very special. Long past having a big wish list, I have always used Christmas as an excuse to connect with the people in my life whom I don’t get to spend time with often enough. It’s a special part of the year that carries me through, having reinforced the bonds of these precious friendships.
But not this year. This year I am bound to the house, run off my feet, and honestly, feeling lonesome for those friends.
Loneliness and isolation can make a pathetic woman, and I am anything but that. So this year, albeit late in the season, I’m going to begin my efforts to connect with the special people in my life. The sustenance of kindred spirits during times like this is essential to anyone’s well-being.
In years past, I used to host an event on the eve of winter solstice called, “The Longest Night”, where my friends would gather, bringing a piece of art (writing, music, visual art) to share with the group. The theme was always sharing light in the darkness. Celebrating the darkness where mystery was waiting to be revealed, ideas were ruminating, and reminding everyone that there is beauty even in the mystery of the dark.
So this year, once again, I’m hoping more selfishly than ever that my friends arrive in the darkness, to be received into the warmth of a circle of friends.
I love to taste, touch, smell and enjoy what life has to offer. I like to let the beauty of art, food, sex and the great outdoors seep deep into my bones like water finds the most tiny of cracks and flows inward. A beautiful soul is the reflection of this sensuality, and I want to be effing gorgeous well into my senior years.
But I need to remember that, and honour it.
It’s pretty much mid-August, and we are in the true dog-days of summer. It’s that time of year when you hear so many people saying, “Where did the summer go?”
This will be followed in the fall with the same question about the whole of 2018. If you’re not careful, this will become the melody of your life-song. A recurring durge of regret.
At the beginning of this year, I made some resolutions for myself, and I’ve ticked off every single box. Since then, some other issues have come to my attention that I need to nurture and breathe life back into.
Friendships of all shapes and sizes come to mind. Friendships, I truly believe, are the living breathing entities that keep us thriving. We should all have hobbies and passions and interests, but for me, it is the company we keep while enjoying these things that makes them memorable and meaningful.
So many women blame their families for taking away their joy, using up their time, and basically social norms and expectations of the female role for hypnotizing them into some kind of being who forgets how to experience joy and ecstasy.
I want to propose a different perspective.
It is only now, a year after my child first moved out, that I am coming to realize how trapped I was in my own mind. How I simply became attached to all that I thought I was supposed to be doing. Days, weeks and months were swallowed up tidying other peoples messes and making sure that there wasn’t a crumb on the counter. It’s like ripping off a bandage when you give in to your own pursuits and desires.
It may feel frightening to acknowledge the creative, sensual woman you have hidden behind a veil all of these years.
When you finally reveal her to yourself, you won’t be able to stop from taking her in the joyful embrace of reunion. You will feast, and you will experience the entire world again with a fresh perspective. Fear will sulk out the door and take a nap so that the wild joy of your passion can dance.
Throughout all of it, I realized two things; I’m getting old, and I’m getting better at the important things.
This week a childhood pal’s hubby died, and a school chum of mine died as well. They were both in their early 40’s. Before you start sending condolences, I want to be clear; neither of these two men were part of my every-day life. My memories of them are frozen in the past somewhere among forgotten first dates, moonlit teenage-trists on the beach, and making out to Bryan Adams songs. They were pee-your-pants funny, and the kind of people you were happy to spend time with.
I’m a funeral director, so I’m not a stranger to death. But no one is immune to the rattle of mortality when she crosses your path all jangley-chained and staring you in the face with her gaunt eyes . The death of these two vibrant men was a reminder of how fast joy and enthusiasm can get lost in adulthood.
The takeaway message is clear: enjoy it while you can. Be grateful for what you have, love the people you love without shame and with wild abandon. Responsibility can include silliness.
Like I mentioned earlier, these things also made me realize that I’m getting better at the important stuff.
The best part of my week, besides my own lovely kid at home, was a conversation that I had with a four-year-old-boy at the funeral home where I work. We discussed the benefits and drawbacks of the differnt flavours of birthday cake .We also decided that absolutely nobody is ever too old to order a Happy Meal at McDonalds because the toys are awesome sometimes. And, at the ripe old age of almost-five, Henry decided that although he thought my hair was pretty, he would take my advise and stay away from drinking soda. That’s the reason I gave him that my hair was so curly (after all, it was the fizz from soda that bubbled all the way up from my stomach and into my head that made it that way). Henry stuck to cranberry juice.
I also dragged my middle-aged-not-a-morning-person-butt out of bed to go to an event that was very important to a beautiful woman whom I work with. She unveiled a painting that she had been working on for a year, and let me tell you, the joy she experienced today was contagious. Life gets better the more we love other people and the more we listen to our intuition.
Friday night dinner was hosted casually without fuss, with new and old friends around the table. Not once did I wonder if it was all good enough – I relaxed and felt the overwhelming fullness of spirit we are all capable of when we let go of ego and just become present.
The takeaway message is clear: enjoy it while you can. Be grateful for what you have, love the people you love without shame and with wild abandon. Responsibility can include silliness. Take time to have conversations about life with four-year-olds. They’ve got this living-life thing all figured out.
The headline on my yahoo homepage today was about Selena Gomez, the pop-star turned kidney transplant recipient, and the trolls who were criticizing her body. After experiencing the limits of her mortality, I’m sure the woman really doesn’t give a shit about critics of her amazing body.
Whether you’re Selena Gomez, or an average gal just trying to make a living, there will always be critics, people who intentionally try to make life harder for you. These folks are known as; assholes.
Delve into any type of spirituality that gets you through the day. There are a million pithy sayings that we can pull out of the air to set us on our own determined path to success (whatever that means in the moment);
Be kind to those who are unkind as they need it the most
An eye for an eye.
Give thanks to all of those people who were challenging as they were your greatest teachers.
Or, as I’ve come to realize with my more limited middle-aged energy; fuck’em.
Seriously, leave them to live as they are; miserable, petty and when you have enough energy leftover from loving your wonderful, healing, and healthy self, pass the love along to them.
If, like me, your life has finally come in for a landing and isn’t one survival worry after the next, give yourself all the love you can. Give the haters the leftovers.
All of it. I want to get my hands mucky and dirty and calloused and spend my time doing aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllll of it.
Or at least pulling myself out of a career of death and dying. Not completely of course. I mean, I’m in my forties for goodness-sake! I’d be foolish to leave the stability of a pension and good benefits (not to mention an awesome team of colleagues). this I know to be true, and we (you know who you are ladies) need something else. Something that we can find joy in which allows us to sip from the spiritual fountain of youth, or make a few extra bucks to fund what we would all like to become our annual Central-American-Beach-Rehab. Ok, that’s my dream, but I’m sure you have your own.
Being creative is generally frowned upon in our culture. Go out of the house with wild hair? Wear something unique? Sing your way through the work day? Yah, not so cool, and possibly a good way to have yourself committed.
I think most women at my stage go through this. Whether you live in a hovel or a palace, life becomes routine. There is comfort in routine, but there is also stagnation. We become sexless, and our femininity is starved. Being spiritually and emotionally vibrant goes a long way toward health.
My daily challenge is to let-it-go.
Letting go of all of the time-gobblers that suck the life out of me.
The time we’re not at work too often becomes perfecting the comforting space of domesticity. Food prep, folding laundry, tidying up; It’s become the hole in my spiritual bucket. Yours may be binge-watching, trashy novels or napping.
Let me be clear. Our need to create is not a whimsy, or modern construct. There is evidence of creativity dating as far back as our human history. It is part of our essence.
My need to create is always there though, simmering under the surface, sometimes boiling over and making the kind of mess that anything repressed tends to do. Goodness knows I don’t need any more messes to tidy up.
I will continue my daily struggle to find balance between being a responsible adult and a wild-at-heart free-spirit, why don’t you join me?
Let yourself transform into the creative goddess that you are; let your hair grow, buy the funky jacket, relax into comfortable flip flops, and damn it, spend time in the comfortable, wild space of creativity.
I’ve been known to publish some really great seasonal To-Do Lists. Except this year.
I didn’t do that.
Not for you and not for me.
But I’m ready for one. You see, I have a Protestant work ethic, and am a firm believer in work first, and rest when the work is done. Which, of course, often leaves me desiring, but exhausted and out of time.
Alas, the really hard work of this year is pretty much complete, and I am left with time to rediscover more leisure pursuits. Instead of providing you and I wish a seasonal to-do-list-on-a-time-line of such tomfoolery that we think is Instagram-worthy, such as pumpkin patch visits, applie-pie baking and haunted house touring, I am going to provide you with a list of things that I want to do.
And I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own. Even if you don’t get to it, you’ll be reminded of what it is that makes you happy, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a little time for yourself to make your soul smile.
Here’s my list;
1. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Yah, I officially registered to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Why not? After all, I want to finish my damn novel, and I work well with a time-line. This may very well should be the only thing on my list, but should’s have no place in my life right now.
2. I want to go back to wander the Guillermo Del Torro exhibit again at the AGO. It was so inspiring; a look at the inner mechanisms of a creative genius. Going back is a desperate attempt to have some of that genius-energy rub off on me.
3. A road trip to see the beautiful fall landscape (I’m thinking Collingwood with a side trip to a pal’s place in Thornbury, and the outdoor spa).
4. A visit to Hinterland Winery. In my opinion a hidden gem that deserves more of my attention. Here I come Les Etoiles!
5. Chistmas shopping. Yes, you heard it. I want to go Christmas shopping. That’s only because I avoid shopping in December like the plague. It sucks, people’s attitudes suck, and all of that makes me cranky. Make it a December to remember (create some memories with your loved ones – do not spend the month craving valium and flipping people the bird in parking lots).
6. Cross Stitch. Oh yah. I want the luxury of enough time to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a few hours of nothing but some needle and thread.
7. I would also very much like to make my super-duper-Hallowe’en-popcorn. I make it for my colleagues and my kiddo because even though we’re all grown up, on October 31st, we’re all still little kids just waiting for a treat.