Empty Coffee Cans & Gas Tanks – The Small Costs of Living With Intention

 

empty_coffee_pot_blasphemy_in_the_morning_mugsThis morning I opened the top of the coffee container to find that someone had used all of my flavoured coffee while I was on vacation. In 2013, all of my delicious half-caf vanilla flavoured coffee would still have been there.

And without my current employment, I  also wouldn’t have been able to afford a little escape to worship the sun near the equator. So, I guess I’ll take the near-empty coffee can, thank you very much.

Without an awesome kiddo, I also could not have taken a break. I mean, how many parents feel comfortable leaving their kid home, with access to the car?

I am truly blessed.

Three years ago during my annual June life review (yah, I do it in June, don’t ask why…that’s another story for another time), I decided that there were a few things out of order in my life, and I set an intention to work toward them. One of them being a coffee-addicted-partner who leaves just enough of my favourite coffee for four cups and a kid who has such a busy social and sports schedule that he needs the car most nights. Good damn thing they’re both cute.

Lately I’ve been waking up with a health concern on my mind. First thoughts being hopeful; is it gone? No. Is it any better?

Health was at the top of my 2013 list, and I’ve been pushing my own self-care aside like most women do when they are juggling parenting, work and relationships. It’s evident that I need to adjust my priorities. It’s also evident that I can.

What I mean is, my life is pretty darn good right now (knock on wood).

So, if you are like me; A ‘Type A’ working mother with a creative streak, life can often seem overwhelming and time extremely limited to work on all of the clever projects that cultivate vital energy in us.

Just take a moment to let the piles of paper remain where they are. Take a deep breath and sit your ass down with a cup of tea. Count your blessings. If you don’t have that many, begin to think about what you need and how to get there. Live with intention despite being pulled in a million directions; resist distraction and carve out the time you need to apply for a new job, create a relationship with a loving partner, take a walk…

And be sure to be thankful for the near-empty coffee can and empty tank of gas. It’s all a matter of perspective.

 

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Teenage Head vs. Buddha

be here nowMy sweetie and I are not of the same vintage. We often find ourselves WTF’ing about our friends’ antics, and our choices of entertainment .Yet we persevere, giggle, and learn A LOT.

It was this past weekend at a Teenage Head concert that most of my Buddhist training came back to me. Present moment? Pul-eaze, these folks were hanging on to the past harder than me hanging on to my only child’s innocence.

The present moment was nowhere to be found. Hanging on to beer bottles like the social-teddy-bear-comfort-of-underage-drinkers, fifty and sixty-somethings duded themselves up in outfits that should never, ever, be seen in public. Ever.

Were they having fun, or out there hoping to have the same kind of fun that they organically experienced in their youth? It’s a spiderweb issue, never really to be dissected.

I’ve had the good fortune of being exposed to trauma and crisis. Yes, I did say good fortune. I say that because I’ve witnessed true grace under presssure. Whatever the age or stage, it takes grace to transition to another phase with success and with some modicum of fabulousness.

Which brings me to the crux of what I’ve been thinking about lately; how to remain happy in the present moment, and continue to be spontaneous even as fear disguises itself as good sense and responsibility.

It’s tough. “We get cautious“, my gal-pal said to me during a conversation about how we’re feeling ‘old’.  Just yesterday I was stretched out in a worn blue gown that ties at the back on the pale green sheets of a gurney, being told about parts of my internal organs that were not healthy.

edith-piaf-non-je-ne-regrette-rien-columbia-8I regret nothing; The crazy nights out, my falling in and out of love,  career changes, my devotion to my kiddo, and especially my larger-than-life-sometimes-too-much-for-you personality.

What I do regret though is the caution that has gotten comfy and is taking up space in my psyche.

So, I hope to find joy in new places, experiences and acquaintances, that maybe, just maybe will scare me a little bit.

I beg of you. Let the 80’s hair, leather and old artists go. rade it in for the some half-shaved version  of the now, more sassy leather, and support new artisits. Find something new and fresh. Live in the present moment. Allow your body and your soul to mellow and change. Rejoice in your softening.Read new authors, go see new plays, listen to live music written and performed by kids who could be your own, paint your living room red, learn to code….

Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart, and laugh. Laugh a lot.

 

 

 

Tending Your Wild & Untamed Heart

http://data.abuledu.org/URI/51e95290Some of the best advice I ever received was to go make memories while I could. That was advice. It was said in good fun, at a time when I still believed there were memories to make with people who still thought I was worthwhile making them with.

The truth is, some day, you will realize that everyone but your best of friends will not consider you worthy enough to make memories with. Most people don’t have the fortitude to keep their hearts alive and daring (as hearts are meant to be).

As Hemingway once wrote; A man alone ain’t got no chance. True love is the wish of every heart, whether you have the courage to admit it or not.

What no one told me was that as we age, we also get the hell beaten out of our hopes and dreams by people who are too scared to feel any more. Some hearts are courageous, and some are cowards. The odd part is, it’s the cowards who end up killing us all. It’s the cowards who  bore through the dreams of the hopeful.

When it comes to a woman’s attention that she is  not worthy of the lust and longing of true love, any formal commitment, or courtesy of priority,  it ought to make her snap to it. It’s not a pitiable circumstance my sweet little peaches. It’s simply life in a world where ego and economics trump human connection.

So, despite the recent confirmation of the collapse of my own desirability currency, I shall carry on as usual. I may have had  my belief in romance and second chances at true love taken from me, but I will always tend to my own wild, untamed heart. Because I’ve worked hard to keep it that way. After all, that’s what makes me beautiful.

Oh, don’t get me wrong darlings, my heart is still willing, it’s just  that the rest of the world has been damned to cynicism and I’m experienced enough to know it.

To know; to perceive directly; to have direct cognition of

By nature, age plays host to ghosts of  pain, heartbreak and disappointment. It’s up to us whether we invite them in as demons or angels. Demons suffocate the ability to hope, to heal, and to recognize that our hearts are just as, or even more important than, our heads.

To my friends who are watching their chutzpah walk away; try to change your perspective. At the very least, be open to making new memories. To those of you young enough to not relate to what I’m talking about; take the advice of my dear friend-go  out and make your memories now.

 

Opinions & Margaritas

"Some people say that there's a woman to blame. But I know, it's my own damn fault." ~Jimmy Buffet~

“Some people say that there’s a woman to blame. But I know, it’s my own damn fault.”
~Jimmy Buffet~

This post was inspired by chocolate chip cookies, samosas and margaritas.

Ok, mostly just margaritas. But let’s not get stuck on that little piece of trivia my darling.

Immediately before driving home and mixing up a batch of ‘Coconut Margaritas’, I attended a philosophical talk by the Vedanta Society of Canada.  At the end of the lecture, they sent everyone on their way with a packet which included a samosa and some Indian sweet I’d never eaten before.

When it was handed to me, I smiled and said thank you. After all, someone had gone through the trouble of making sure everyone left sharing some food.

Earlier this week, I offered a young child a cookie, not, of course, before going through the requisite permission asking of the mother. Well, I didn’t get past the mother. No, it was not due to a nut allergy, dairy intolerance, soy aversion or gluten issue.  It was religious and cultural.

The mother looked at me as if I were breasted-satan, and physically pushed the cookie away as she said (emphatically and rudely), “No, we don’t eat that. We only eat Halal.”

So, first lesson here; we live in a highly culturally diverse area. Second lesson; across cultures, and without exception, being offered food is akin to being friended.  Third lesson; you take the f-ing cookie and say thank you. Yes, inter-faith and inter-cultural living is that simple.

Margaritas are made with ice, tequila, lime juice and salt if you’re nasty. They are not made with coconut, strawberries or any other pooh-ha that rides the current culinary trend of we’re-so-wealthy-we-don’t-have-anything-better-to-do-than-make-up-recipes.

The same goes for any martini other than a straight up, shaken-not-stirred. Cosmopolitans? They are Cosmopolitans, not martinis. Appletinis – apple cocktails. Chocolatinis – chocolate cocktails. Sidecars – not just bourbon, bourbon mixed with other crap.

Single women are not scaled, withered up virgins. We are highly sexed, independent women who enjoy a good man, and a good sleep. No need for the sleepover or the snoring gents. Please pack up your tired  testicles and take them home when we’re finished. We love you, and we need our space to do important things. You’ll get a call-back when we’re ready for another performance.

Gal-pals. The most important element in a woman’s life. We love one another no matter what, and we disclose everything. We give one another hope to carry on. We also give one another our stories so we don’t feel so silly. Thank you gal-pals for all that you do for me!

Loud children. I love children. They are vibrant and bring a fresh perspective. If, however, I wanted to hear your children howl and scream at all hours, I’d invite your entire family over and pinch the kids at random. Hard. Please soothe your children and love them.

Glassware. It’s important to have an assortment. A great glass can change the mood of any drink, no matter what the immediate atmosphere. Second-hand stores have a terrific assortment. Note to whomever broke my French, antique pedestal serving dish; I will find you.

Belly laughs. They are the best when they are had unexpectedly while wrapped in the sheets with a best friend and lover. Thank you for the belly laughs my friend – you know who you are.

People who pass the buck. Yah, they are still out there my friends, despite the plethora of inspirational memes and social-media jargon. They make you appreciate real professionals. Amen.

Candlelight. A professional single’s best friend. Housework is for the elite. Us working girls don’t have time to waste on tasks that need to be re-done immediately and go unappreciated. Strategically placed and lit, candles hide a multitude of domestic, and anatomical sins. Get some.

One margarita to go, and then a hot soak before the man of the hour arrives…I hope you were entertained my friends. XO

 

 

 

 

 

It Whispers

whisper2

“Our intuition is where our true genius lies.”
~A. Artemis~

Relax. Trust the process. Surrender. Good things come to those who wait.

The world, and social media sites are awash with pithy statements. Stop. Go. Om.

Along with our waning attention spans ( over half of you have stopped reading this already), our ability to trust our instincts has been lost as well.

Whether you’re stuck in a bad job or a bad relationship chances are you’ve sought out advice about what you should do. Stick it out or make a run for it?

In the past, I’ve had relationships that I’ve known are no good from the start. Hindsight is 20/20 of course, and I can see now that those relationships lasted as long as they did because I wanted a relationship, but the one I was in was not the one.

There have been other relationships that were interfered with by a third-party, and I took that as a sign it wasn’t meant to be. Hindsight reveals that it was  a good relationship and the interfering party was wrong. Not just wrong, but wretched.

Whether it’s a lopsided friendship, job, questionable  lover, relationship with a faith group or business partner, experience has taught me two things. First, engage your trusted friends and colleagues in a conversation to fully explore what may or may not be happening. Second, and most importantly, come to a conclusion and develop a course of action based on your own intellect and intuition.

Sounds simple doesn’t it?

Are the things that are meant to be, supposed to be a struggle, or feel effortless?

Now  it’s time that I must seek some solitude and listen very closely to what my intuition is whispering….perhaps two fingers of bourbon will help….bottoms up darlings.

 

Keeping the Fun in Fitness

Stretching never looked that good!

Stretching never looked that good! (Photo credit: deleted.scenes)

Today was the day I made the effort to reconcile with my friend the gym.

It’s been a while. Since I took to outdoor running and paddling, the stale air of indoors hasn’t held the same appeal.

After having a rotator cuff tear in two places, be repaired and torn again, it was with a heavy heart that I made the decision to  abandon ship (my dragon boat team), and get back to the gym.

As much as I will miss being on the water with a great team of women, I know that my shoulder is done. Shot. Finito. Caput.

So, it is with sadness that I leave the river and go back to the gym. Back with gratitude too though, because it’s within walking distance, and I love it.

Combined with my yoga in an oak and stained glass sanctuary, and my running on the trails by the lake, I think it will all balance itself out, and my little, worn out soul will be happy.

Besides the stale air, the gym is also a festering pool of  dodgy material to write about. Writers are always observing. Perhaps we all have a slightly perverse voyeuristic bent, but that’s kinda sexy. Right?

As my torn tendon screamed in pain, I ignored it and focussed instead on some of the general truisms about gym life. I bundled them all up in my teeny, tiny girl brain, and brought them home to share with you;

1) The men who like to have their women covered head to toe in the name of religion, are the first ones to settle into a cardio spot with an excellent sight line to the women’s fitness room. The gym is a haven for sexual hypocrites and perverts.

2) The older you get the less you care about your panties showing above your yoga pants. You just hope you don’t toot or actually shit yourself.

3) Men in spandex all look less than attractive. Unless you’re Channing Tatum or some such masculine delight, wear  something else. Please.

4) Fill-in instructors all have full-timer envy, and make it their mission to push you to that psychological breaking  point where you fantasize about giving them a thong wedgie and a slap.

5) Where there is cinder block, there is sweat and bacteria. I’ve never stretched against a gym wall that wasn’t appallingly moist.

6)  Someone will always hog the piece of cardio equipment you were hoping for. (That’s why I do my running outside.)

7) Gym yoga will always be the cheap, trashy version of the real thing.

8) When you least feel like going, you get the best work-out. Some deep breathing and sweat make you feel alive, and tickle your smile out where everyone can see it.

9) Gym water fountains. Ew. Just ew.

10) Squash courts have always been, and will always be THE very best place to pick up quality men. Trust me on this one ladies.

11) Any class description that includes the word ‘Bootcamp’ makes you want to die, but is totally worth it…in a week or so when you can walk again.

12) Open showers. A good indication that your gym needs a reno.  Shower at home – see number one.

***If you don’t hear from me for a while, it’s because my right arm mercifully fell off.***

Savoury Sundays: Cioppino

English: Map of Italy and its districts.Every Sunday ANDSHELAUGHS will post a savoury recipe for you to prepare for the ones you love.

***Please leave a comment  and reblog if you make the recipe. Let us know how you liked it!***

This very first  Savoury Sunday, I offer up one of my very favourite recipes: Cioppino.

It takes me back to a visit to San Francisco, and indulging in a classic Italian dinner at Alioto’s overlooking the bay.

Perhaps not a traditional family meal, Cioppino makes an easy, light meal ideal for a quiet night in with your sweetheart.

I recommend serving this Cioppino with fresh bakery bread,butter and a bottle of  Luccarelli Primitivo to enjoy as well.

Cioppino

Ingredients

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 onion finely chopped

1/2 green bell pepper, seeded and diced

4 garlic cloves, finely chopped

1 can (14.5 oz) crushed tomatoes ( I use my own home preserved tomatoes)

1 cup dry white wine

1/4 cup tomato paste

1/4 cup chopped flat leaf parsley (don’t skip this, parsley is a key ingredient)

1/4 teaspoon dried basil ( I prefer t use fresh – just a few finely chopped leaves)

1/4 tsp dried oregano

1 bay leaf

10 oz boneless whitefish cut into 1.5″ chunks

12 littleneck clams, scrubbed

12 medium mussels, scrubbed and debearded

8-12 medium shrimp, peeled and deveined

*Add crab if it’s available* Yum!!!

Method

1. In a large nonstick saucepan, heat the oil, and saute the onion, pepper and garlic until softened.

2. Add tomatoes, wine and tomato paste, spices, herbs, bay leaf and 1/2 cup water.

3. Combine all ingredients well, and bring to a boil.

4. Cover and simmer for 30 minutes.

5. Add the fish and simmer uncovered for ~5 mins.

6. Add the clams & mussels and simmer ~3 mins.

7. Add the shrimp and simmer uncovered for ~5 mins until the clams and mussels are open and the shrimp are pink.

*** Discard any unopened clams and mussels as well as the bay leaf***

***When preparing this meal, beware of the timing. It’s not something you can leave on the stove top and keep warm until your dinner guest arrives. Prepare your ingredients, and enjoy a relaxed conversation over a glass of wine while you’re cooking.***