Posted in Life, Life Lessons, Meaning of Life, Toronto Life, Toronto Star, Toronto Strong, Uncategorized

Toronto Strong – Take to Your Porch

tostrongI firmly believe that change starts at home. Grassroots caring is the most nasty guerrilla warfare of our time.

I woke up to a wall of ‘Toronto Strong’ on social media, but when I looked out my window, there was not a soul on the street. Not a neighbour to be found.

Laundry and dishes and meal planning suddenly took a backseat to the CBC News Network’s coverage of the mass murder that played out yesterday on a stretch of a nearby Toronto street.  Colleagues of mine watched people being mowed down on the sidewalk just outside of their office, and the rest of us watched as the scene replayed over and over on screens all afternoon.

Was it a terrorist? Was it an “involuntary celibate’ (misogynist)? How can we fortify our city against these attacks? These were the predominant questions posed by the media. But these questions merely poke at the symptoms asking for band-aid answers. They don’t come anywhere near getting at the cause of the misery that is murdering our world.

Stay Strong. That’s the overwhelming populace message choking the city today.

Let me offer another perspective; stay vulnerable. Allow your grief and fear and anger an outlet. Let your community of friends embrace you as you grieve and heal.

In a world that has become lost to the miracle of humanity, one that values material success over kindness, community, and the health of our spirit, staying strong may give a message of toughness that we just don’t need.

I concede that if it were my child or loved one callously killed, I would have a rage and hate with limitless depths. It would take a fountain of caring friends to help heal that massive dark hole in my life. We need one another, not just during times of tragedy, but every day.

Our communities have disappeared into subdivisions and condos with closed doors with invisible neighbours. We are too busy fighting a modern-day-material-survival-of-the-fittest to put the kettle on and hang out on our front porches. This is the root of the problem. We are insular and inward looking.

Reaching out and getting to know your neighbours is the first step to staying strong…as a community.

 

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Posted in Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, Spirituality, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living

The Spiritual Satisfaction of Slowing Down

sleeping kittyI think I’ll listen to my body more often when it tells me to linger a while  longer upon waking up on my days off.

This morning I woke up before my alarm and fully ready to start my day, I decided to ditch my spa appointment. Yah, that’s right, you heard it. I lingered in the comfort of my big, cloud-bed and directed my mind to just how freaking wonderful life is (that’s always how I start my mornings – with a gratitude meditation, while still snuggled under my fluffy, soft, duvet), and you all thought that I was just sleeping in!

I just couldn’t justify the 407 tolls, and the premium price to have the hair around my lady-altar torn out, and most of all, the loss of my precious, precious time.

Because of my desire to linger under my cozy covers a bit longer this morning, I finally found a decent spa where they do the same quality waxing, in a better atmosphere  for a little less of my hard-earned moolah, and only 10 minutes from home.

 

Which makes me wonder…just how much do we create our own obstacles?

Sometimes our desire to slow down forces positive change. Slowing down allows us to be still and life becomes just a little bit more manageable. All of the things we think we have to do are just really just a conversation about reality we’re having with ourselves, in our own minds. We really don’t have to do anything, but we are giphyprogrammed to produce rather than to be thoughtful, insightful and effective.

After a hectic few weeks,  I took some time to slow down today . I still managed to write, to do my morning meditation, to complete the domestic chores that ensure we don’t live like animals. I had nap. I cooked a nutritious meal, and I enjoyed the relaxed end-of-the-day satisfaction of not having to do anything.

Posted in Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Dating Advice, Dating Advice for Men, Health, Healthy Living, Men's Health, Mental Health, Self-Care, Self-Help, Sexual Health, Uncategorized, Wellness

To My Beautiful Friend

cannonball

I woke up this morning thinking about a conversation that I had with a friend yesterday. He is a really good guy, with a smile and attitude that goes on forever.  He was complaining about his body. We’re both part of the not-likely-to-make-the-cover-of-Vanity-Fair-crew. We will likely never-ever be swimsuit models, but we’re freaking awesome people.

What I woke up wanting to say to the world today is not to let your comparison with the bodies of others ruin your one and only precious life. What I wanted to say to my stressed-out-over-his-belly friend is that he is beautiful, and nobody cares about his body, we just care about whether he’s a good person; and he is. The best kind of person.

Oh, and his blood pressure and other health indicators are top notch. In other words, the body that he’s frustrated with is healthy. Seriously, that’s what it’s all about. Yes, life is not about the people who try to make us self-conscious about our bodies so that they can feel better about their shitty personality.

Let me tell you a tragic story; I grew up on the lake with a mother who always hated the way her body looked in a swimsuit, never wanted to get her hair wet, and let her own anxiety over comparing her  appearance with that of others essentially cripple her ability to savor the moment. It made her miserable from the inside out.

As a little (tomboy) girl, I vowed no matter how big my belly was, jiggly my thighs, or wild my hair, I was going to dive right into life, and enjoy it all.  And I’ve mostly been able to do that, although at times, I admit, my anxiety does get a grip. After all, we all want to be attractive, feel special, and even get our sexy on.

All too often I have conversations with people who are unhappy with their bodies; I’m too fat. My ass is flat. My ass is huge. My belly is big. My hair is unruly. My thighs are ugly…

The list goes on and on, and it’s starting to bother me more than just a little.

As a mortician, I marvel at the human body in it’s living form. What a miracle! What a beautiful, delightful, unique miracle. Mwah! I love it all!

Our bodies do so much of the work for us in this life, while our minds groove reckless, like wild horses. Start giving praise where praise is due; thank you, you bad-ass jiggle monster thighs for getting me where I need to go; thank you arms for carrying everything that I drag around with me every day; thank you abundant ass for giving me a nice place to sit; thank you for housing my awesome, kind, dynamic and charismatic spirit!

Take your body to the beach. Give it some fresh air. Wrap  it in that wild shirt, the bright shorts and celebrate it. It’s not just a thing, it’s part of who you are, and mostly, you are awesome.

I spent years counselling people who had their bodies ravaged by disease, just waiting for the day when their bodies finally failed them completely and they had to say good-bye to everyone they  loved. There was a lot of regret. I witnessed this thousands of times. Trust me, there will come a day when you would love to have a chance to live with that fat belly, or jiggly thighs, or unruly hair.

So love it all now while you can. Adorn your one and only body with colour, go everywhere and don’t try to make yourself small. Love your body and maybe, just maybe, it will love you back.

Posted in Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Fearless Living, Grace, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Health, Healthy Living, Joy, Joyful Living, Kindness, Kindness Project, Living, Meaning of Life, Mental Health, Mindful Living, Professional Women, Psychology, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, women, Women's Issues, Women's Rights

Nice Matters: A Shout-Out of Gratitude

peonyToday I’ve written a bit about mean, so let’s shake that crappy mojo. I’m going to  write about something more important; nice (aka kindness).

Kindness matters. It’s part of that grace thing that I’ve been trying master for a few years.  We get it right sometimes, and we get it wrong sometimes, but what matters is that we strive to get better at it.

It’s good for us. Just as good as a healthy diet, or eight hours of sleep. Nice makes our bodies happy and our spirits calm.

Lately there has been a lot of nice in my life. My ‘crazy’ family and friends have been generous in their support of my son’s flight from the nest. He as been encouraged, supported, and cheered on. As a mother, there is nothing better than knowing your child is thriving and that they have a solid support network or friends, mentors, coaches and family. Thank you for being nice.

I’m taking a little longer to adjust to the transition. I tear up daily, and am struggling with the transition of being totally dedicated to my kiddo to being totally dedicated, but from a distance. My friends have been kind and gentle and supportive. Thank you for being nice.

I have flooded my social media feed with proud mom moments and not once has anyone told me how annoying it is. Thank you for being nice.

This is a challenging transition year for me, once again wondering where I will live, work and mom from in a year. In advance to my friends and family; thank you for being nice.

 

 

Posted in 60 Minutes Life, Advice, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, andsehalaughs, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety, Argument, Art of LIving, Articles, bloggers, Blogging, Blogs, Breathe In Breathe Out, Breathe In Breathe Out Move On, Buddhism, Buddhist Philosophy, Buddhist Writers, Canadian Writers, Coffee Talk, Columns, Communication, Coping, Creative Life, Creative Writing, Creativity, Entertaining, Entertainment, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Women's Issues

Abounding Grace & The ‘F’ Word

angrywomanFor months, maybe even years I wrote about how I had observed the incredible life-affirming beauty of grace in action.

I wrote about people overcoming heart-shattering loss, adversity, and hardship with incredible grace; without fists to the sky, without making the lives of those around them miserable, without despair.

I wanted to be able to handle shit that way. I think we all do. What I have discovered is that we don’t necessarily want the practice that it takes to be graceful. In other words, it takes hardship to to learn how to navigate the rough rapids of change with some savvy and style; Without using the ‘F’ word, without letting the shit show shadow all of the other other elements of our lives that we have to be thankful for.

As I have been chronicling in my mid-life-move blog, Andsheshines, (Be sure to subscribe!!!)

I believe I’ve finally leveled up when it comes to coping. You can read about some of my experiences in the great adventure of preparing to empty-nest,  moving in with a man for the first time in two decades, and everything else that goes bump-in-the-night while those stages of life march onward. Time waits for no woman, and I’m going to ride my time like the wild woman that I am.

Posted in Art of LIving, Creative Life, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Toronto Life, Uncategorized, Whole Living

Change: Looking Forward to the Unknown

not-all-those-who-wander-are-lostA rogue wind gust smashes through the window and sucks the ashes of her ancestors from their urn, scattering them back out across the vast, midnight landscape…and so the protagonist knows that finally she is home.

Sounds delightful doesn’t it? Knowing that you are home. Forever. Where you are meant to be.

Actually, I find it a bit terrifying. I know better. I’ve witnessed it thousands of times; people who think that life will never change.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt that forever-at-home feeling.

Perhaps I should elaborate; I feel at home everywhere and nowhere. I have a gypsy soul and have a tendency to want to wander. I’ve lived close to the bone, just surviving with enough, and according to the stages of my life; student, young wife, mother, mother of a teenager…and soon, just me again.

This past year has been a combination of settling in and hurrying up to wait. And it’s killing me. Seriously, I am not a patient woman.

I am decisive and spontaneous, and quite frankly sick of the daily, commuting-to-barely-pay-the-bills-soul-sucking-grind. In light of not having a partner in adventure to plan the next grand project, place or party, I’m preparing to pack up my parlour and part. But all in good time.

As my Mumster would say,

My body is still here, but my spirit has moved on.

I get what she means. I’m restless and dreaming, and just fed up enough not to be nervous, which actually does make me a little nervous.

To anyone out there who thinks things don’t change, don’t kid yourself. To those of you who have a spirit of adventure, I wish you speedy decluttering, friends to help you unpack and courage.

 

Posted in Andshelaughs, Careers, Coping, dating, Friendship, Girl Stuff, Guy Stuff, Inspiration, Lean In, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Men's Issues, Middle Age, Motivation, Professional Women, Psychology, Relationships, Women's Issues

A Guide to Achieving the Perfect Life

daring adventure or nothingPerhaps there’s been a huge cosmic shift in energy, maybe we’ve had some rare planetary eclipse, or maybe it’s just the big old world shaking us up a bit to remind us that nothing is as it seems and everything changes. You see, I can’t seem to understand what the heck happened this week in Andshelaughs land.

Just when I think I have it all figured out, somebody shakes the snowglobe and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

When I was a kid, I used to see adults and think how nice it would be when I finally had my life together. Ha! Anyone over 30 knows how much of an illusion ‘having it all together’ really is. Throughout  years of helping people during crisis, I have come to realize that we never, ever have our lives together in such a way that we are immune to change.

Often change can cause suffering and pain; anxiety, addiction, grief, fear, or  tightly woven combination of all of those emotions. If you can make your way through it, keeping fear at bay, and even a tiny flame of hope burning, change can be the best thing that happens to you.

This week, I had a number of conversations that were difficult, enlightening, and even shocking. People I assumed to be sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful demonstrated qualities just the opposite of that, and others, surprised me by crawling out of the dark-ages and exposing excellent quality of character.

Because the conversations were not what I expected (expectation is such a fickle bitch anyway) they made me think. Hard. Should I have said that? Should I have kept silent? Can I trust you? Who cares...

fancy dark chocolateThe bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter. Most of our big decisions in life come about as a result of something we never expected.

So I’ve decided to sit back and watch. Wait and not wait; carry on. See what happens. Go with the flow. Dream. Hope, and even laugh a little at it all.

Life will always roll like waves on the ocean, sometimes smooth, sometimes rough, and every once in a while there will be a rogue wave that knocks you down, pulls you under, and spits you out, disoriented but with a fresh perspective.

The only time we ever have life under control is when we can sit back, breathe deeply and accept that life changes. When you are aware of your reactions, you can actually stop reacting, and remain calm, observant and cultivate a deep sense of who you are and what you need to do.  In the mean time, there’s champagne; bourbon if it’s serious.