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Well Hello There Anger, You Curious Beast

rozSubtlety has never been one of my shining qualities, nor do I wish it to be. It makes for hearty discussions that can be uncomfortable yet rich. Being with people who can admit that they are afraid of the dark,  yet have the courage to explore it are the best kind of people.

I’m a fiery gal. There are no if’s, and’s or but’s about it. I am not for the faint of heart or the timid.

But I’m also soft-hearted to a fault, and love nothing more than to take people in, feed them, make sure they’re safe, and take care of them.

For many years, like many women, anger was not my friend. It’s ugly, and doesn’t accessorize well. It chewed me up from the inside out, and boy oh boy, did I suffer for ignoring it. Once my practice matured, I was able to let it in, give it room to breathe it’s fire, and finally burn off the dangerous edges.

This post was inspired by my incorrect perception. Some might even say, I was wrong. But let’s not get carried away now my sweet little peaches. Being wrong is such a bitch and entirely not sexy.

The human smorgasbord of emotion is fascinating, with a little of this and a dash of that sprinkled through the entire menu. What I’ve discovered, and I believe to be true, is that the  plethora of negative emotions are all rooted in the muck of fear. To be fearless about exploring those negative emotions, well, that my darlings, is interesting stuff.

I will be the first to admit that relationships scare the hell out of me. Commitment is a word I actually had an issue saying ( it made me stutter).  Yet, I’m a devoted, loyal, stick-with-you-to-the-end friend and colleague. What gives?

Well, after years of learning and practicing, I came to understand just how healthy it is not to deny myself all of the ugly-step-sister emotions; anger, jealousy, shame. They are all rooted in fear, and we, as human beings all experience fear and the offshoots of fear every day.

After a thoughtful discussion with my sweetie last night about anger, communication, and perception, I came back to an article by Jules Shuzen Harris, Sensei; Uprooting the Seeds of Anger, (Tricycle, Summer 2012 p44-47);

We’re going to keep getting angry. It’s going to come up. It has come up in our lives before, and it will come up again. This practice is about becoming more mindful, becoming aware of how we are getting stuck. With care and work, we find ways to get unstuck. But we also know that the moment we get unstuck, we’re going to get stuck again. That’s why it is called a practice – we never arrive. So when you find yourself upset or angry, use the moment as apart of your practice, as an opportunity to notice and uproot the seeds of anger and move into the heart of genuine compassion.

This passage speaks to me of impermanence, the Five Skandhas, and the importance of self-compassion as we practice mindful living/self-awareness.

When I first sought out meditation practice and the wisdom of the monastic teachings at a local monastery, what I really was doing, was running away from fear. I thought that I was doing something wrong, and that being happy all of the time was what being a spiritual being was all about. But, surprise, surprise, the Goddess-of-Everything-Delightful was wrong. Wrong, wrong, wrong. Ick.

Denying oneself the full-spectrum of emotion is like plastering concealer over a nasty pimple. Eventually it wears off, and it just makes the problem worse.

Our daily practice consists in running away…We are afraid of the suffering that is inside us, afraid of war and conflits…But we do not want this fear to manifest, because it hurts, and so we repress it.  We try to repress our suffering and we invite other energies into our ‘lving room’ to fill it up so that the negative energies will not be able to make their appearance there…We should not adopt this boycott policy. On the contrary we should open our door so that our suffering can come out.  (Thich Nhat Hanh, True Love)

I have committed to my practice, and I feel it slip when fear enters uninvited, tracking mud through my heart. But I won’t pretend it’s not there. I will not kick it out, or wash away the dirty footprints without taking a good look at how it got in, and what I might do lovingly acknowledge it.

 

 

 

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Hump Day Hilarity: Because Sometimes You Just Need to Lighten Up & Laugh

The Swedish Chef makes me laugh uncontrollably. He’s right up there with King Julien, the other intellectual stimulation I sometimes seek after particularly stressful days.

I send this out with a heart full of love and a wish to hear your laughter ring out amid the crappola that can be the middle of the work-week.

Have fun people, and don’t forget that just because you’re an adult does not mean you can’t be silly.

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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.