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Things That Make Me Happy

I think we all have enough of ‘have-to’s’ in our life. Let’s take a little peek at some of the lovely things that make life a little more bearable….

(all photos found on yahoo.ca)

Daffodils – the first sign of spring way up here in the Great-White-North.

 

firstsignspringGulpable wine

red-wine-wallpaper

Hot coffee in the morning

coffeemorning

A Shoulder to Lean On…a strong, competent shoulder…

shouldertoleanon

A really good book

gatsby

..and another wonderful book patiently waiting to be read…

bookonbed

Candlelit baths

bathbycandle

Being read poetry while in the bath

NerudaPoem

Kittens and old cats…

kitties

The first ball-game of the season

baseball

…and the first ballpark frank and cold beer…

beerandhotdog

…and the next season of ball…

oregon

Dinner with kindred spirits

bestnight

Kisses in the rain

rainkisses

Stargazing

Deep space nebulae

Waking without an alarm clock or agenda

sleepingin

Celebrating (anything) with champagne

champagne

Kindness

adopt

 

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The Cocktail of Life: Make it a Double

Wild Women of the Past (8)Yesterday I was the recipient of two wonderful gestures of friendship; the first a letter from my soul mate in death and parenthood, full of the profanity and absurdity which many others would consider devastating. The second was a wonderful message from a dear friend, “I’m just at a bar having a rum and coke and was thinking of you. Just kidding, I’m having a double rum and coke.”

Both of these things made me laugh, and oh, how I needed those laughs.

When laughter has been hard to come by, these gestures of raw, imperfect, human authenticity are a gift. They are a reminder that life is short, precious and if you have the right attitude, entertaining as hell.

And so it goes, this one wild, crazy, beautifully bittersweet life. These kinds of friends are the ones who are ok to dance with me when the music is strange and I can’t see my feet.

These are the same friends who would have previously received drunken texts or phone calls, with the nitty-gritty details of my deliciously decadent personal proclivities. Before I matured of course. That would never happen now darlings….wait, yes, yes it would, but…

B.U.T.

Big freaking BUT…life gets in the way.

Or does it?

Does it wiggle it’s big ugly knee in the door jamb of our lives and force its way through, or do we swing wide the door ourselves and yell, “Y’all come on in!”

I tend to lean toward the latter. In most cases. Oh, don’t give me any argumentative who-ha here darlings. I’m all for weeping and wailing and nashing of teeth. I’m also all for blowing your nose, scraping yourself together, pouring a gin and tonic and strapping some flip-flops on, metaphorically givng the universe a very detached, “What-everrrr“.

But this comes from a woman who, when being coached through a grueling emotional exercise in counseling palliative patients, chose to give up everything else in life, (i.e. relationships, shelter, nutrition, sight, etc.), and keep her sense of humour.

My sense of humour has ruthlessly pulled me through all kinds of abuse, hard times, depression, financial strain, and the day-to-day struggle to keep on keepin’ on. The junior players were wine, bourbon, gin, younger men and pretty undies.

Despite less-than-perfect-life-circumstance, these pals o’mine manage to keep a keen sense of humour which also involves spewing profanity at the offending irritants and being able to forgive themselves for failing at being present, gentle, or forgetting to take the high road. Sometimes the high road is for folks who care too much what everyone else thinks. Sometimes the world needs a good, old-fashioned bird-flipping and f-bombing to keep it real.

Sometimes, what our adult worlds of children, jobs and spouses needs is a dash of fun and a lot of, ‘Why-not?’s thrown in. Just because you’re grown up and have commitments does not mean you have to act like a Southern Methodist preacher about it.

Sometimes you have to let go of all of the crap we are told we ‘should‘ feel, do and want. Sometimes we just need to be grateful for what we have and enjoy it.

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But You Said…

"My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation." ~Jane Austen~
“My idea of good company is the company of clever, well-informed people who have a great deal of conversation.”
~Jane Austen~

I say a lot of things. Actually darlings, so long as this little conversation is just between you and me, I speak entirely too freely, too much and too often.

I’m a woman who believes in living a life of her convictions, but sometimes those convictions rearrange their own little order on my top ten list, and well, frankly, it’s hard to keep track of. Pass the bourbon

For instance, I’m all for nature and preserving our environment, but I’m skeptical of the effectiveness of our recycling programs and political platforms from which they come neatly tied in biodegradable green-bags. I’m an animal lover, but frequently find myself muttering things like, “Those damn squirrels  buried their peanuts in my clematis pot again!”

Often I say things like; I would never do that, and then I do just that. Usually after a few drinky-poos and some goading by my shenanigan loving gal-pals.

The reality is that everything that we say, do and think is circumstantial, and we’re nothing less than fallibly human at all times, despite our perceived pedigree or status.

Pedigree, now there’s a word for you. I never ever thought I’d use that word with reference to human beings. It just seems so, oh, I don’t know, disgustingly bourgeoisies. Ick.

Often it is our engagement in intimate relationships which allows us to be more vulnerable than fearful.

It is here where we find ourselves peering into the dimly lit mirror of our personal ethic, and what we see is mostly a murky reflection of what we have been taught by the generations of women who came before us; a sure, unquestioning knowledge of what is and what isn’t. It is a visceral seeing and knowing beyond skin and bone.

So often, as time and circumstance wear like water against rock, the things that we once said become half-truths or nothing. We are forced to concede to the mystery of what it means to exist in a world in relation to other people who also evolve, devolve and change.

If you find yourself in a situation that is causing you to rethink your position, opinion or values, consider yourself one of the lucky ones. Life is either encouraging your growth, or insistently dragging you to a higher level of being.

So if someone insists that you once said something or other and points out a contradiction in your actions, take time to consider why you might have changed your mind. Do you still want to? Do you wish to remain true to those ideas, or has your experience taught you something new?

Regardless darlings, whatever you said, should not have gone unsaid. It is in the saying, the discussion, the long, rambling, twilight  confessionals where we learn who we are and share our very best selves.

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Choose Joy or Die

formI truly believe that we choose joy.

After you fish your rolling eyes from the back of your head, keep reading, because it’s not as pithy as it sounds darlings. I have not lost all sense and let my brains fly out the window of my being.

You see, we like to think that we have control over the world, and what we do in it. To some extent that’s true. We absolutely have control over how we react, bring ourselves to meet the world every day, and whether or not we are open to being vulnerable to our darker side.

Almost 10 years ago during a business meeting with a mediator, they uttered the words, “You will never, ever feel like you have enough resources for all that you hope to accomplish.

Often, these words have come back to me during times of crisis; emotionally, professionally, financially.

I’ve decided that I will keep these words, in my psyche in the stuff-that-is-fundamentaly-correct-pile, right next to lime juice in my gin and tonic, and going commando after a long day at work.

Great things have been done in this world by people who have not had the resources which we are conditioned to think that we need for success; a loving family, money in the bank, and a traditional education. I really believe that the most amazing inventions, concepts and changes have come about as the result of hardship and feeling just the teeny-tiniest-feeling-of-being-uncomfortable. Think of athletes, leaders of social change, and although I’m loathe to use big-business as an example of true success, some of the brightest business minds were not made by doing what they ‘should’. No, my sweet little peaches, they were made because they followed their hearts and took chances.

Choosing to be joyful is much the same.

When I wake up in the morning, there a zillion reasons to be fretful, anxious, insecure and unhappy. But life is far too short for that kind of misery. There are also a zillion reasons to nurture joy, to embrace the simple, but wonderful things that we are graced with every day.

Sure, we’re all going to have rough days. We’re all going to let our trains-of-thought rumble through old, dark tunnels every once in a while. We’re going to revisit mistakes, missed opportunities and regrets, but by doing this, we have a chance to change the course of our next days and weeks and years. Without joy, we choose suffering, and suffering is just a prolonged version of dying. Choosing suffering is a repetitive, painful choice to tortuously kill off our human spirit by reliving  a life of missed opportunities instead of living in the moment and stepping forward into the future.

If we choose joy. Deep joy. Real joy. The kind of joy that we may even sacrifice some of our old patterns and bad habits for, we may feel vibrant, whole, and like we’re really living. Think about it darlings…do you choose joy?

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When Nothing Matters, It Matters Most

Toast 1Despite having a career which could easily see me lost day and night in the good and meaningful work I am blessed to be able to do, the energy I have to do that work comes from making time for rejuvenation, shenanigans, and spending time being nurtured by the people who love me.

Stirring honey into my tea today, I overheard a woman exclaim that she was feeling overwhelmed, and complaining that going away for a holiday just made it harder to come back and get up every day to get back to work.

I slipped my wooden stir-stick into the trash and stole a quick peak at her from under my luscious locks. She was a bit younger than me, and clearly, unbalanced.

That’s not a cynical observation.

She looked to be carrying the weight of the world even though she was sipping a gourmet beverage in an upscale coffee shop with a friend willing to listen. “Why is life so difficult“, her high shoulders seemed to be whimpering. I know shoulder language, because more often than not, my own shoulders are tensed right up to my ear lobes, and the margins in my life are tighter than cycling shorts on a man smack dab in the middle of a mid-life crisis.

You read that right. Men in cycling shorts should never happen. Ever.

Anyway…

Balance; the-shoulds-of-a capitalistic-society verses the shoulds of, Deep-down-I-am-a-free-thinking-spiritual-lush. Recently I’ve been up to a little ‘make herself happy’  balance plan.

laughingwomenFood, wine and friendship, the great triumvirate of happiness. Combine those three, and I’m a happy woman.

Before I allowed my joy to be stolen by a grand conspiracy of single-parenthood, economic necessity, and surrender, I was the queen of food, wine and friendship, the duchess of do-it-all-and-then-some, the grand-dame-of-damn-that-woman-can-dance. Oh yah, I lived in and for the moment.

That was long ago and far away, but not an impossible attitude to resurrect.

Trying to be a responsible-adult-woman, the final strike was entering into a relationship with a man who ruined all three for me; food, wine AND friendship.  I carried on in the relationship because that’s what I thought I was supposed to be doing when in fact, I was supposed to be doing whatever the hell I felt like.

Life as I knew it and dreamed it was over when that relationships ended. It was both heartbreaking (there would be no big, happy family or new babies) and emancipating. Turns out, I’m not sure I was ever convinced, other than the apparent security, that a traditional relationship was best for me after so many years of doing everything on my own.

More than a man who needed to lead, it turns out I need a man who values laughter, discovering new food, wine and ways of making sure moments matter even if it’s just sitting in companionable silence. I thought I had  someone like that making a place in my life this summer, but I was mistaken. Must have been the wine.

On my way home from the office I stopped on a whim and picked up a couple of bottles of wine to hold me over until the vintage release this weekend. I found a much coveted Italian varietal, and another which conjures a warm, no.  Wait. Not warm. It conjures memories of an electrically charged, white-hot  and carefree love-affair, aptly birthed in Sonoma, California and named Folies a Deux.

I will take my charming new find to be uncorked at a French restaurant tomorrow evening to share over a meal and wonderful conversation.

Being excited to try new wine, try new recipes, make time for friends, writing, and maybe a little tryst in a land far-far-away means I’ve got the groove back I thought I had lost.

"We all begin as stringers..."  ~ANDSHELAUGHS~
“We all begin as strangers…”
~ANDSHELAUGHS~

What on earth was I thinking? When you’ve got it, you can never lose it.

Get out there and be fabulous darlings. There is exquisite wine held hostage in bottles just waiting to be emancipated. There is savoury food waiting to dance on your palate, and friendships that need rekindling.

I also have a suspicion that there are delectable men who are worthy of wooing us, just waiting for our school-girl hearts to bow to the sage wisdom of serendipity.

 

 

 

 

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Planning Your Dream

drum beatingPlanning your dream? What’s up with that?

Aren’t dreams supposed to be pie-in-the-sky, never-gonna-happen fantasies?

Well, in my opinion they are not.

Some dreams are possible and some would take something akin to a miracle to make help them come to life. I get that. But I’m a dreamer, and a bit of a lush, so I like to think that some of the things I dream about can and will in fact, come true.

I dream a lot. I often find my mind hiking well ahead, in the future somewhere, playing out some fantasy like the latest blockbuster.

Planning a dream means you have to choose one. One. Maaaaaaaybe two.

Which one to choose? Hmm? Humph!  Don’t worry, one thing at a time my sweet little plums. Once you make the first dream come true, you’ll be inspired to work on the next one, and the one after that.

Whichever of your dreams you choose, there are a few things you need to do to put the often slow, rusty wheels of the dream-making machine into motion;

quityourdaydream1) First of all, hang out with people who have similar hopes and dreams. You want to be a business success? Hang out with people who are business minded and enjoy sharing information and ideas. If you want to be a writer, hang out with other writers.  Much like getting into a new fitness routine, it’s nice to have a partner to keep you motivated. Surround yourself with people who will be your, I-think-I-can-I-think-I-can cheerleaders.

2) Research. Do some research. Do you have to save some money? Do you need to prioritize your time differently?

3) Talk about it. Talk, talk, talk, and talk some more. The more you talk about what you want, the more likely someone who can help you will hear you, or someone who knows someone will hear you. Don’t be afraid to voice your hopes and dreams out loud.

4) When it feels impossible, out of reach, and foolish, seek support from someone who will encourage you to be fearless.

If you’re a dreamer like me, sometimes it’s difficult to quiet your mind and focus on one thing that you really want. More difficult still is to become as fearless as possible.

Do your best to coax the root of your anxiety into the light, and make a really honest assessment. Most fear can be overcome if you get your ego under control.

The new year is no longer new. We’ve already lived out the first quarter. It’s time to make the remainder of the year matter.

Dream on sweet dreamers, the world needs more of that!belowthem

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Anxiety & Depression: Catch Someone Doing Something Right

 

fortune cookiesEach year my mumster takes us out to a Chinese restaurant at Christmas time. It’s a tradition that we look forward to every year, including the passing around of fortune cookies, and reading them out loud. Mum’s hubby has added the advanced silliness of adding, “…in bed“, at the end of each fortune.

As the sun seeks longer periods of shelter from her shining down on the northern hemisphere, my good mood also fades, and I’m left with anxiety and depression that is even more hard to clothe in something fabulous and breathtaking. During the winter months those two aspects of my psyche stand as huge grey pillars in the flat landscape of my mind, poking up new outcroppings along paths that in the past were clear.

It’s been a doozy of a winter to navigate darlings. Bourbon, bubbly and boys just get in the way. It’s a raw journey that one must always make alone.

Mumster’s Christmas dinner always marks the beginning of the dull, dark, grey months, so the fortune is something light and lovely, and I always, always, always, tuck it in my wallet and keep it until the next year. It’s a reminder to keep things light.

youwillberewardedFortunes often promise something, but this year it issued  a task. This year, my fortune read; “Catch someone doing something right”…in bed. That’s not fun! That’s more work? I have to actually do something? Well, I never…!!!

The fortune hit home, and it caught me off guard. Catch someone doing something right.

I hadn’t done that in a while. I hadn’t acknowledged just how right some things were going, and being done around me. Instead, the bleak landscape of winter had taken over my very own grey matter. Grey, bleak and as always, it seemed like it would never end.

As much as a fortune can be, I use it as a guidepost, a koan, and do the best that I can for what it has to offer.

I caught little Willie Nelson the cat curled up in my white duvet this morning, so that’s gotta be doing something right.

Reading Kelzbelzphotography this morning, I felt less alone in my suffering, even if I did feel a little indignant about some of the comments,  “Think of your children….chin up…” , one of them read. Oh please, save the platitudes. Buh-arf! But the short post was something right. Sharing these thoughts and feelings is difficult at best. Kelzbelz did something right by making the rest of us feel not so alone.

Catch someone doing something right, snuck into my head, and I began to think of all the things people do right;

1) My pal’s offer to drive to the movie theatre yesterday

2) An invitation to a birthday get-together

3) An invitation to a business lecture to help grow my fledgling writing business.

4) Texts despite being busy

5) Willie Nelson the cat, just being himself

6) Being lent a waterproof camera for a much-anticipated vacation

7) Someone else doing all of the planning for said vacation

8) Someone being my diet buddy

….the list goes on and on. I have so many wonderful people in my life who tolerate me during my expeditions into the depths of winter doldrums, that it’s hard not to find someone doing something right all of the time. inbed

Even though I may not have told you, and you all know who you are, I catch you doing something right all of the time, and I am grateful. Winter sucks, and you are the marshmallows in the warm cocoa of life.

Go ahead, try to catch someone doing something right, and see how it changes the landscape of your grey, winter mind. Who knows, I may even catch someone doing something right…in bed!