Making Space: The Genius of Silence

coffee lakePractice makes perfect.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve relied upon this little nugget of wisdom as a parent when my kiddo whines about not being able to do something. My response has always been; “How do you think I got so good at it? Practice makes perfect; get to it.

Yesterday I was anxious. The kind of anxious that feels like you have a thousand bees buzzing in  your head telling you all of the things you need to do, have to worry about, and can’t control. I was miserable; inside and outside.

Fortunately for me, I had a few hours of quiet time at the end of the day .Quiet for me is heaven. Quiet in the morning gives me time to meditate, and to take in just how fortunate I am.  It’s never a process whereby I sit cross-legged on a cushion wearing a mala made in Bali or a tunic made of hemp. No. It’s simply sitting with my thoughts.

Last night, in the quiet of solitude, I was able to spend some time reading the words of Thich Nhat Hanh.   It reminded me that my practice is not perfect. Far from it in fact. Just because I studied at the temple, attended dharma classes and go to silent retreats does not mean that my meditation muscle is exempt from a good workout on a regular basis.

As adults, we forget that our health as a whole is something that we need to practice on a regular basis.

It’s time for me to make space for some of the books and advice that I’ve gotten in the past. It’s time to make an effort again putting theory into practice.

It’s time for the genius of silence, and for my practice of peace to become a little bit more perfect.

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Three Little Birds: In My Head

There have been a few things rolling around in my mind lately.

What would the new year be if we  weren’t inundated with media pimping health and wellness gimmicks?

squatI’ve never been a skinny chick, and I don’t know that I’d be that comfortable being all angles and bones, but I don’t really dwell on it. I haven’t always loved my curves, or my height . As a young woman I struggled against the unrealistic messages that bombarded me via the media.

But I grew into my body, and I learned to love it and rollick in sensuality.

With a partner who finds it necessary to grab my love handles while asking, ” Are you going to the gym?”, the last thing I need is to second guess my own chutzpah. So this brings me to the first thing on my mind; why do people obsess over fitness and diet instead of trying to incorporate healthy habits?

bruce-trailPersonally I find it hard to seek support because people go overboard with it all. I need a workout buddy who can make being active fun. I also, like most women need less housework, a shorter commute, and a thyroid that works.

I need a workout buddy like the person who came up with this quote; I found out today that you can’t get a gym membership, ‘Just to watch’.
I don’t do well with being uncomfortable taking my clothes off in front of a man. My solution: be good to myself. Not to feel sorry for myself, but to rejoice in my over-the-top voluptuousness, sense of humour, joie de vivre and to get my groove back. I’m even going to try some reading material; The Self Esteem Coach, and the classic, The Art of Seduction. 

I honestly hope that something fun and delicious interrupts me so I don’t actually have to do the work and I can cop out, but I likely should do the work.

Honestly, I’m over 40, and I’m convinced that at this age women ought to be comfortable in their own skin and totally owning their goddess.

So that was my first one.

The second thing on my mind has been the take over of mocking Donald Trump in social media. Satire (and this is proven) does not change politics. Humour makes it funnier in a sad and apathetic way, but it’s ineffective as a tool to use against change.

It took a man with true leadership skills to cut the bullshit;

If you’re tired of arguing with strangers on the internet, try talking with them in real life. If something needs fixing, lace up your shoes and do some organizing. If you’re disappointed by your elected officials, grab a clipboard, get some signatures, and run for office yourself.  Show up.  Dive in.  Persevere.

protestQuit whining and gather in the streets. Don’t just bitch there darling, do something about it. If you’re not willing to do something about it, please shutupinski.

The third thing that’s been on my mind is the incredibly fast pace of doing absolutely nothing meaningful. Go to work, pay the bills, eat what you’re supposed to, take as many steps as the latest gadget deems healthy, measure every single aspect of your life until you’re too tired to enjoy it. Oh my gawd! What a wonderful life! Pass the lorazapam and tuck me in for the next decade. This sucks.

moomooUm, no thanks. Burn my bras and send me a moo-moo. I don’t really buy in, and I never have. I do find it incredibly more exhausting to be surrounded by people who do.

So, I beg of you. Get off your ass and have some fun. Call me (please!!!) so I can do that with you. When we’re having fun, being creative, laughing and working together toward a kinder, more gentle society, I believe that changing ourselves and the world will happen, just a little more organically and way more joyfully.

P.S. Seriously, I need this moo-moo.

 

Santa Baby: Slipping Something Under the Tree

surpriseIt’s that time of year. Shopping for your sweetie. Women have the edge on this one. Men seem to have less romantic notions of what should appear after the landing of the eight tiny reindeer.

Women on the other hand are dreamy eyed and romantic. We may not share it with you gentleman, but trust me, this is what we talk about during our wine and yoga pants nights…

I wish I may

I wish I might

Find a robin’s egg blue box

Under my tree tonight

It’s not that difficult really. We like shiny things, things that smell nice, and other stuff that falls under the category of ‘want’ not ‘need’.  Often neediness is confused with wantiness. Strong women are not needy – they can take care of their basic needs. Strong women are wanty, but wouldnt’ dare ask for anything.

So, if you guys want to know what we sit around dreaming you quantify your undying love with, flag this list. Trust me, I’ve saved the best for last…a.k.a., #6.

  1. First of all, we want romantic dates. Take us to the Christmas market. Take us to a Christmas show. Take us home and take it all off…

christmas-market

2. Every woman wants to smell delicious. You can’t go wrong wrapping up her favourite fragrance. Buy it in layers and wrap it in something soft.

perfume

3. Shiny things.  Just new? Try this…

heart-bracelet

 

A little more sure? Try this…

keys

Getting seriously serious??? See #1 and go window shopping during your romantic stroll so that you know what her dreams were made of as a little girl.

Was it this?pink-ringor this ?big-enough-to-skate-on

 

4. We love romantic cards and notes. Seriously gentlemen – get thee to a Hallmark store. Five bucks can make you the most romantic guy on the planet and she will love it.

hallmark

5. First Christmas together? First Christmas in your new home? First Christmas with a new little one? There’s an ornament for that…

first-christmas-ornament

6. As promised, I’ve saved the best for last. What all women want is to feel like your woman at Christmas time. We want to be hand in hand with our man. We want to go to sleep with you on Christmas eve and wake up with you on Christmas morning. We want to see you smile when you open the gifts that we give to you, and we want you to know that you are loved.

coffee-morning

 

 

A Love Letter to Middle-Aged Men

shaving-brushesThere’s a running joke between the more experienced ladies in the office, and the young singletons. It goes something like this: We used to be attracted to  older men – until we got older.

Women get ugly and men get creepy. That seems to be the stereotype. I can’t say I know many creepy old men. I tend to avoid them like syphillis and fungal infections. My tastes rather lean toward the educated and emotionally intelligent gentleman. You know, the kind who might have a bit of a belly, but a beautiful heart.  Someone who still believes in romance, intellectual conversation and the value of intimacy.

I mean really. As we age, who truly wants to see us naked? Any of us? Sure, put Chris Pine shirtless on the big screen any day. But don’t ask me to be intimate with him. I could see myself making him a peanut butter sandwich for lunch and giving him a pat on the head as heads out the door to play, but not in my bed thanks.

I prefer my middle-aged, intelligent yet man-dumb, gives-a-crap-about-how-he-shows-up-in-the-world-every-day guy any day. And that my darlings, is hot.

There’s a lot of media out there that leads us to believe that men and women’s attractivness declines with age. I disagree.

Snuggling in with a middle-aged man has it’s advantages. First of all, they have come to some understanding that women will always think they are somewhat man-dumb, and are thus more open to communication.  They are more in tune with their  out-of-tuneness than younger men and are, at the very least, consistent.

Pay attention gents, we don’t want you to look any different than the day we met you. We don’t need you drive an expensive car or take us shopping. We just appreciate you for meeting us half-way, even after life has tossed you around a bit. We get it. We’ve been there too.

Yes, we see through bullshit at this age and we call you on it. We know you wouldn’t respect us if we didn’t. We don’t have time for that stuff.

gartersBut we do have time to appreciate your body and your soul. We think you’re sexy, and yes, we even fantasize about you.

We love the way that your your hairy old chest feels under our palms, and how your experienced body feels curled up next to ours.

We appreciate  who you are and where you’ve come from. We see you as a whole person; your intelligence, your emotions and your physical self. We can appreciate the scars and how hard you’ve worked and still see you as sensual and sexy and worth wearing our garters and stockings for when we go out for a romantic dinner.

We appreciate that you have earned your stripes as men, not boys. We have busy lives which keep us vibrant and we know how to prioritize a man who prioritizes us. As long as you share this adult handling of partnership, you are like Gods to us. We want to see you happy, satisfied, and we crave your touch.

Yes, we are as cynical as you, and yet we are still as hungry for fun, excitement and adventure as you. We are your intellectual and emotional equals and we want you. No Porsche required.

 

Selling Yourself Short One Glass of Bourbon at a Time

whiskeyJust so I make myself absolutely clear, this one is for the men out there.

Last night I met a sexy beast of a friend of mine for bourbon.

“Did you get new glasses? New look?” He said, as he stood up to give me a hug.

I was confused. My glasses are over a year old, and well, I’ve been rockin’ the same look since I refused to wear leotards to grade-school. In other words, I was a bit concerned about his perception of time. Hadn’t it just been a few months since we’d last met to discuss writing over a few shots of bourbon?

No. In fact, it had been almost two years. Two. Yeeeeaaaars.

Time flies darlings. Faster than you know, and much faster when you’re having trouble keeping your head above sea level.

So, we sat and chatted as we always do about life, writing, and bourbon.

Neither of us are aficionados, but could be if we put our minds to it. Bourbon has just been an excuse to get together every once in a while.

I also have a confession. I’ve thought this guy was hot since the day I met him and my existence barely registered on his mid-40’s radar.

I met this gentleman about 14 years ago in his backyard. He was rushing off to play tennis, and I was the third wheel in a conversation with his then wife. I’m not sure if she was his first wife, or second wife, but one thing was clear even to my somewhat naïve and cynical divorced-at-25 eye; the marriage was not best described as blissful.

Fast forward to last night. He’s divorced and I’m a champion at remaining single. We have never, ever, not-even-once known what I’m sure would be the mutual delight in one-another’s flesh.

After a beer a few glasses of good-for-what-ails you, he confessed that he was in a sexless relationship.

bourbonglassTake that in; Sexless.

Time flies.

“We don’t’ have sex, we don’t share a bed. What is that?”

“Fucked up,” I said, swallowing the last delicious caramel nosed swig of my Woodford.

We talked about his age, his relationship (great companionship other than the sex – which, if you didn’t know, is called friendship). Don’t get me wrong, friendship is amazing, but let’s face it, relationships come down to one more thing than friendship; heart-stopping, sweaty, messy, endorphin-releasing, sex.

Being able to drink alcohol, walk around naked in my own place, and thoroughly enjoy a long, luxurious boink are a few things that I appreciate about being an adult. No matter how my finances are, my perspective, or my schedule, I always make time for each of those things.

So, to hear this man confess his lack of sexual engagement was heart-breaking for me. Heart breaking as in; I, more than most, know how fleeting and precious life is.

womaninlingerieWhat I wanted to do, was to lean over, and give him a soft, slow, very wet and deliberate kiss on the mouth, and have him take me home for a thorough and proper ….

But I didn’t…because he’s clearly a lovely man who doesn’t want to hurt the woman whom he is remaining in this friendship with.

Gentlemen, it doesn’t matter if you’re 26 or 76. Life is what you make it. If you are still a nostril-flaring stallion at 65, get it on and praise the universe that you still have it.  Because you do. And we still want it. Every, single delicious drop of it.

Don’t sell yourself short with a glass of bourbon and a fantasy.

Personal Leadership & The Leaders Who Lack It

wolfbreathThere is nothing worse than a person with power who lacks leadership. Take, for instance, most world leaders today. Most are egomaniacs with a side of masochism. Et voila! Welcome to the modern world of faster, more and who gives a damn.

This is your call to action. Each day we wake up and participate in the false global economy, and dawdle off to our nine-to-five so we can pay our bills, we have a choice. We can silently let the world and all of the unfairness in it go by, or we can choose to act in a way that honours our human instinct ( I do believe it’s an instinct) and follows the golden rule. In other words, we can be selfish wahoos, or individual leaders standing up for what’s right.

There have been times in my life when I’ve come home from school or work, ready to throw in the towel.

I have what I believe to be reasonable standards when it comes to how I treat other people, and how I expect to be treated. I expect to be treated with respect, and like to do the same to the people I encounter on a daily basis.  I do my best not to complain, gripe, gossip or bring negativity to the room when I enter it. After all, isn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t make your gut clench with anxiety or reach for a tissue? Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, we are in situations with ‘leaders’ who have about as much couth as a coyote in a henhouse. The ability to lead has very little to do with experience, education or seniority. It has to do with personal philosophy, spiritual cultivation, and knowing oneself. Now expecting those qualities from someone, my darlings, is having high expectations.

As I’ve aged (and yes, leaders with no leadership ability is exactly the type of thing that ages me), and matured, I’ve come to realize that trying to change, explain to, or negotiate with a person in power who lacks leadership is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s like wearing mascara to the steam bath. It just gets messy and ugly in a hurry.

The issue becomes not whether you can change someone else, it becomes how well you are able to know yourself, and control your own reactions. I had two great pieces of advice given to me when I was a teenager chomping at the bit of independence; first of all, you don’t go anywhere if you don’t step forward, secondly, and I quote, “Sweetie, there will always be assholes.”  I grew up in the country, this wasn’t really considered cursing, it was just a matter of fact.

If you too find yourself spending time brooding over someone who consistently and more frequently displays a lack of true leadership, don’t do anything. The reality is, you need to do and say nothing. You need to buck up, carry on, and not let anyone rock the firm foundation of who you are or what you stand for. You do not need to argue, rant, run or cry. When it comes to jobs and relationships, give it a thorough analysis, because wherever you go, an idiot will be there. I’m not saying stay in an abusive situation, but try not to take it personally.

Eventually, you do learn that it really isn’t you, it’s them, and oh my, how they must suffer living in such misery.

By doing nothing, not reacting, or buying the kind of crazy that leadership-lacking-leaders are selling, you create this little zone of discomfort. It’s in that zone, when leaders cannot affect your own control over yourself, that they get a little woozy. You see, they thrive off your discomfort, and when you cut that little supply of nourishing misery off, they starve.  If none of their bullying tactics work,  it may prompt a little self-reflection. Don’t bet on it though. Just bet on yourself, and don’t forget sweetie, “…there will always be assholes.” Don’t let them recruit you.

YOU LEARN

by: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Do not let a leader who lacks personal leadership spoil your day. As the great Jimmy Buffett once sung, “…breathe in, breathe out, move on…”

The Love of a Good Woman

embraceThe love of a good man, woman, or anyone is a rare and beautiful gift.

Too often we ignore the precious friendships that we share with truly loving and giving people. These are the angels in our lives who provide sanctuary for us to disclose our vulnerability, dream without feeling foolish, and provide hope that our heart’s deepest desires will, one day, come true.

After having this many trips around the sun, we all surely have known betrayal,  been wounded, and felt a fool a time or two.

We have all have fallen in love, fallen out of love, and wished for it to find us again.

I do believe that regardless of age or battle-wounds, that it is possible again,   though I dare only whisper it in the quiet of my own midnight thoughts.

Constantly I am reminded by the people I have been blessed to have in my life; do not give up on the love of a good man, or a good woman, or a good anyone,  just because you’ve been hurt before.

Why I Love Your Husband

015beea7a87defc65c7543a0af7f31ddLast week, I was sitting all alone in silence. I was patiently waiting for the rare, almost Monday-evening-extinct  bird of inspiration to strike.  As is my habit when I’m in a preternatural funk, I check my email, facebook, twitter, blog and homepage a kazillion times every hour.

Monday evening, in my very still position as hunter of inspiration, I had a fresh email from one of my besty’s husbands. This doesn’t happen often. The men in the lives of my pals know of my rapier-like wit, and steer clear of me unless they want to talk politics, baseball,need an opinion, need a gift -giving solution, or have a hell of a joke to share.

I clicked on an email expecting a joke or question about a gift, although my pal’s birthday isn’t until January, and their Anniversary was in April.  Porn. He had sent me the world’s most tacky, hilarious, gob-smacking 20 seconds of porn I’d seen in a very long – well, now, come to think of it…since the last time he sent me laugh-out-loud porn.  Because I was hoping for inspiration, I clicked on it. Only because I was looking for inspiration, because we all know not one of us ever, ever gets that dirty.

It has been six years since this man came into my life via my besty.  You see he picked her up at a playground while they were entertaining their kids, and the rest, as they say is history.

Women are ferociously protective of their friends. At least the women I know anyway. We want someone to worship and adore our gal pals; to treat them with respect, and awe; to shower them with flowers and jewelry and passionate love-making every day. We will however settle for sane, employed and clean.

Without fail, when a friend begins to date a new man, the ladies of her girldom court become aflutter with questions about what did he say? How did he say it? What does he kiss like? How’s the sex? To which, just in case you’re wondering guys, the proper answer is, “He can be trained”.

The beginning stages of relationship are when friends are the most critical and protective. We go out, we analyze, we consult with our girlfriends and Magic-8-Balls. Ok, I’m the only one I know who consults the Magic-8-Ball, but I’m odd that way.

Although we want to be encouraging, we bristle at anything negative that he says, does, or even thinks of doing in the beginning. We listen to our friends explain things like, “He didn’t comment on my new dress”, “I thought we had the most amazing sex and then he just rolled over and went to sleep and didn’t cuddle or say anything”, “He took a call during dinner. Who the hell is so important at 9pm?!”.  Our responses are appropriate, “That’s ok, guys don’t notice these things”, “That’s not good,” and “What an a-hole”.Don’t lose me here fellas.  We go all girly ga-ga over sweet gestures – the flowers, the sweet middle of the day phone calls and texts, the secret plans he made for a romantic evening or weekend getaway.

Before you know it, the beginning is over. We know that good, bad or otherwise, this fella is here to stay a while.  We start to give him the benefit of the doubt, and begin wondering how on earth he puts up with our besty’s girl crap.  He sticks around. We respect him a little more.

It takes years though. I met one of my besty’s husbands while we were still in high school. I cursed that man from Canada to Japan and back. He was not good enough for my best friend. He was too selfish. He did not love her and she was doomed to be in a loveless, one-sided relationship. After only13 years of marriage, I have to admit, he’s one of the best husbands a woman could ever wish for.

So don’t worry guys, we get you. We understand the hoops you sometimes feel you have to jump through to impress the gaggle of chicks that accompany your gal through the high seas of love and life. Like I said, we’ll settle for sane, employed and clean. I know that I would never resort to using any of those three adjectives to describe the hubbies of my gal pals.

I would use the words; intelligent, patient, compassionate and thoughtful. That’s why I love your husbands gal-pals o’mine.

Good guys do win, and you guys are the greatest!

New Man for the New Year

So you want this to be the year that you do it?Francesco de' Rossi's painting 'Portrait of a Man'

Yah, do it. Over and over and over in a deliciously hot mess with the man of your dreams.

Then we gotta talk girl.

Cozy up with a glass of whatever makes you think straight, and listen up sweetheart.

This goes for you too guys.

Top Ten Tips to Get You that Delicious Man in the New Year

1) Give up the bad boys. That’s right, they’re the human equivalent of a warm croissant with jam. They taste delicious and and are a pleasure to nibble, but leave us hungry an hour later.

2) Open your eyes. Yes, open them and be prepared to be gobsmacked. There are wonderful, intellectual, caring men available to you right where you are. Quit rolling your eyes. You likely have a couple of them lolling around in your brain as possibilities even before you finish reading this paragraph.

3) Quit being a snob. Just because you have more letters after your name than he does doesn’t mean he can’t give you a few lessons in life.

4) Say yes. Just say yes…to coffee, a movie, dinner. That’s the best advice anyone ever gave me; when someone makes a suggestion be curious enough to search it out (at least a little bit).

5) Go out. Alone. Men do not infiltrate a gaggle of gals unless they’re stark-raving mad, or wagering a bet. By alone, I don’t mean in dark alley-ways or for your run in the part after dark. Use your head.

6) Be nice. Being nice is pretty simple, but something we overlook all the time. Don’t treat them any other way than you wish to be treated. He wasn’t your cup of tea?Politely tell him that. Worst case, you get a restraining order.

7) Appreciate that he’s also looking. That means that someone just as good looking, well-educated and witty (she also has the same fabulous stilhettos and lipgloss) is out there just waiting for him if you give him the cold shoulder.

8) Rip up your check list. Seriously. None of us are a perfect set of scores 100% of the time.

9)Don’t settle. You know, for the bad boy routine. If he doesn’t call and he’s not around, move on. Immediately.

10) Love yourself first. Whatever it is that rejuvenates you, do that. Every day. That’s what makes you irresistible.

Why We Need Men

Jeff Bridges admires Julianne Moore at New Yor...

Jeff Bridges admires Julianne Moore at New York LebowskiFest 2011 (Photo credit: ChrisGoldNY)

You must be over 18  and an Open-Minded, Sexually Liberal Adult to enter this blog….

“Why We Need Men”…or women, whatever your particular gender identity or sexual preference, you get what I’m going for here…

One of GQ’s covers this month, featured fellow Buddhist Jeff Bridges. He’s  on my I-Would-If-I-Could list.

Old gnarled up Jeff Bridges really lights my fire ladies and gents. His rugged two-day beard, the way he holds his jaw, and fills up a big screen with his raw laid back machismo makes me want to be close to a MAN. Meow!!!

The mouth-wateringly sexy cover was a good enough excuse to pick up the magazine and bring it home so I could slobber over another interview with the famous, intriguing ‘Buddhist’.

While flipping through the pages, I happened upon an article intended to reassure men that our ‘small bedroom appliances’ would never take their place. I’ve reached that tender age where reading the article would have been a tad elementary.

After all darlings, at this stage, we’ve all made the foray into the land of I-Never-Want-To-Be-Bothered-With-Man-Crap again.

This little journey into the dark forest of what I like to delicately refer to as ‘self-care’ offers an education in B.OB.’s (battery operated boyfriends), lifelike models of the phallic landscape, slippery prosthetic tongues, the ‘cone’, gags, ties, whips, slips, chains and canes, lube, tube and, ultimately, disinfectant. Le sigh….

Alas, it’s kind of like buying a long skipping rope with no other playmates to turn it for you.  This is precisely why we need, or choose to keep the company of our succulent and satisfying men.

There is no more powerful antidepressant or anti-anxiety than the comfort offered by human contact. Whether it’s a sincere hug, or a full-on-body-contact-bedroom-bonanza, having a real life partner to connect with is priceless.

At the end of the day, after all is said and done, we’re all trying to connect. Why else would there be a zillion toys on the ever-thriving adult market trying to make up for the simple miracle of human anatomy?

So, gentlemen, do not let a lady’s collection or experience frighten you.

Consider it a compliment that an experienced woman who has a choice of suitors has invited you to join her on a journey into that warm, wonderful, slippery slide into a full-on intimate relationship.  Consider yourself blessed if it’s accompanied by a deep friendship and lifelong commitment.