Posted in Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Anxiety and Depression, Art of LIving, Faith, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, ideas, Inspiration, Joyful Living, Living, Mental Health, Mindful Living, Personal Development, Psychology, Religion, Religion and Spirituality, Religious Studies, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Spiritual Living, Spirituality, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Writing Inspiration

The Season of Mystery & Light

street lampI’m early, I know.

Advent is not officially upon us, but the shitty greyness of November sure is.

We are smack in the middle of the time of year when everything is bare, grey, and tired.

Not quite officially Advent, the season of mystery, of waiting, of germinating in the darkness so that we may blossom in the light is definitely upon us.

What better way to embrace it all than to try some new stuff?

This year, it’s all new to me; my home, my relationship status, and most significantly, my role as a mother.  Whatever you call your celebration of light in the darkness that you celebrate, the reality is November is often a month of feeling less than sparkly.

As always, I’m embracing it. All of it.  Well, at least I’m trying to. Trying ‘new stuff’ may help ease the doldrums, but is it the solution? I’m not so sure about that.

Being able to be still in the darkness takes incredible strength of mind and spirit. Allowing yourself to feel it deeply without running from the discomfort may be the secret to rising into the light refreshed and enriched. It may also send you to the psych-ward for a few weeks. Chacun son gout.

I try to remember the significance of the tiny lights twinkling in the cold and the darkness. They are the symbols of hope when we are not sure of our place and where we belong, and sometimes that’s all we have.


Posted in Advice, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Art of LIving, Columns Relationship Advice, Fearless Living, Girl Stuff, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Living, Men's Sexuality, Relationship Advice, Relationships, Sexual Education, Sexual Health, Sexuality, Simple Living, The Art of Living, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Women's Issues

The Pink Panther & Deep Purple: Remembering Your Sensual Self

orangeblossomcandleDeep purple. The Pink Panther. Randall.

You know what I”m talking about ladies – your BOB’s.

For those of you not in the 90’s know, BOB is a dirty acronym. Battery. Operated.  Boyfriend.

If you deny having one, either you’re missing out, or  you’re lying.

Recently I had the occasion to invite another BOB into my life. Not because I was jonesing for a new part-time lover, but for other personal reasons. And we shall leave it at that.

At mid-life sexuality is interesting. Just like everything else; our careers, our relationships, and our perspective on how-in-the-hell-did-we-end-up-here.

At this stage, when it comes to sex you’ve either giddy-uped, gotten-down and satisfied your every whim, or you’re spent shell of a person wondering how you missed out on it all. At this age, whether you really  ever need to see anyone else your age naked is a question you start to consider seriously.

Naked and sex are often poor substitutes for sensuality, when really, they are the pleasurable end-result.

Sensuality is Marc Broussard singing Do Right Woman.

You may think that BOB is going to make you feel sexual. For a while, and for a purpose, but more than BOB, you need to remember how to make love to yourself.

Too often the synchronicity of making time for our significant others feels like another obligation, rather than the joy of connection that it should be. Sensuality gets discouraged, because after all, wouldn’t it be nice to always end a hot bath or beautiful snack with some lovemaking? Alas, we are too often left alone feeling like a cog in a relationship wheel, unappreciated as a sensual being.

This is where your imagination comes in. Start with BOB if you must, but try to remember what it’s like to soak in a luxurious bath surrounded by the scents that make you exhale…orange blossom, vanilla, cinnamon. You need to remember how good it feels to pass the razor over your tired legs, and to massage your favourite shampoo into your scalp.


Perhaps like me, you enjoy the cool, salty sensation of fresh oysters and creamy champagne, or a pungent blue cheese accompanied with port by candlelight on a crisp fall evening.

BOB may help you remember the end game, but it won’t love you the way you can love you baby.

Indulge in the sensual sights, smells and sensations that remind your body of just how sexy it is.  Trust me, someone will notice.





Posted in Advice for Writers, Andshelaughs, andshelaughs writing, Art of LIving, Canadian Writers, Christmas, Christmas Gift Ideas, Christmas Lists, Christmas Toronto Things to Do, Creative Life, Fall, Fall Autumn, Fall Things to Do, Fearless Living, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life at Starbucks, Life Lessons, Lists, Living, Meaning of Christmas, Meaning of Life, Mindful Living, Simple Living, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, Things to Do Fall, Travel Writers, Uncategorized, Whole Living, Writers

What To Do?

fallkittenI’ve been known to publish some really great seasonal To-Do Lists.  Except this year.

I didn’t do that.

Not for you and not for me.

But I’m ready for one. You see, I have a Protestant work ethic, and am a firm believer in work first, and rest when the work is done.  Which, of course, often leaves me desiring, but exhausted and out of time.

Alas, the really hard work of this year is pretty much complete, and I am left with time to rediscover more leisure pursuits.  Instead of providing you and I wish a seasonal to-do-list-on-a-time-line  of such tomfoolery that we think is Instagram-worthy, such as pumpkin patch visits, applie-pie baking and haunted house touring, I am going to provide you with a list of things that I want to do.

And I hope it inspires you to make a list of your own. Even if you don’t get to it, you’ll be reminded of what it is that makes you happy, and maybe, just maybe, you’ll take a little time for yourself to make your soul smile.


Here’s my list;


1. Successfully complete NaNoWriMo. Yah, I officially registered to write 50,000 words during the month of November. Why not? After all, I want to finish my damn novel, and I work well with a time-line. This may very well should  be the only thing on my list, but should’s have no place in my life right now.


2. I want to go back  to wander the Guillermo Del Torro exhibit again at the AGO. It was so inspiring; a look at the inner mechanisms of a creative genius. Going back is a desperate attempt to have some of that genius-energy rub off on me.


3.  A road trip to see the beautiful fall landscape (I’m thinking Collingwood with a side trip to a pal’s place in Thornbury, and the outdoor spa).



4. A visit to Hinterland Winery. In my opinion a hidden gem that deserves more of my attention. Here I come Les Etoiles!


5. Chistmas shopping. Yes,  you heard it. I want to go Christmas shopping. That’s only because I avoid shopping in December like the plague. It sucks, people’s attitudes suck, and all of that makes me cranky. Make it a December to remember (create some memories with your loved ones – do not spend the month craving valium and flipping people the bird in parking lots).




6. Cross Stitch. Oh yah. I want the luxury of  enough time to curl up with a hot cup of tea and a few hours of nothing but some needle and thread.

bring me tea


7. I would also very much like to make my super-duper-Hallowe’en-popcorn. I make it for my colleagues and my kiddo because even though we’re all grown up, on October 31st, we’re all still little kids just waiting for a treat.


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 Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Andshelaughs, Columns, Columns Relationship Advice, Creative Life, Friendship, Health, Healthy Living, Life, Meaning of Life, Mental Health, Psychology, Sexual Health, Uncategorized, women, Women's Issues, Women's Issues

Mean People Suck: Don’t Let Them Suck the Life Out of You

ugly buzzardNice and mean. Two simple words not often given enough credit for how important they are.

Nice matters. Mean sucks.

Today I’m going to be writing about mean, because recently someone has taken all of the vulnerability I shared with them, and been very mean.

In the past 24 hours I have been told that my friends and family are crazy. That’s pretty damn mean when the person spewing bile knows that mental health struggles that have gone on due to physical, sexual and emotional abuse throughout my family and friends lives.  The security of my home has  been threatened and I’ve been told some nasty, nasty things from a person who was dear to me.

But I’ve done mean. I survived it in my childhood home, in the workplace and even relationships. Which is to say, that my ability to overcome it is great. In other words, when someone is mean, the only thing I know that I can do is to disengage, and enter survival mode.

And how much fun is that? It isn’t. And I’m too old for this shit quite frankly. I’m due for some free-spirited, joyful living, and that’s exactly what I’m going to do.

When someone shows me how ugly their spirit really is, I choose not to invest my time or energy there. After all, I’ve got more important shit to do, like create a non-fiction masterpiece, and have wine-soaked discussions with kindred spirits. Fuck mean.

If you’re out there with someone who is a nasty little troll, whether it ‘s at home, at work, at school or in the community, try your best to disengage. Try your best to identify the hardest times to control your reaction. Focus on what you love; your art, your job, your pet, your kids, your daily walk around the block….

beautiful birdMean sucks.

Remember, mean belongs to the person spewing hate. It doesn’t belong to you, so don’t carry it. Take a deep breath, envision yourself surrounded by light which protects you from anyone else’s bullshit, and step forward into your own life.



Posted in 60 Minutes Life, Advice for Men, Advice for Women, Creative Life, Dating Advice for Men, Dating Advice for Women, Fearless Living, Feminism, Feminist Culture, Feminists, Graceful Living, Gracious Living, Healthy Living, Joyful Living, Life, Life Lessons, Living, Meaning of Life, Men's Health, Men's Issues, Men's Sexuality, Mens' Issues, Mental Health, Mindful Living, New Feminism, Personal Development, Simple Living, Social Commentary, Spiritual Living, The Art of Living, The New Feminism, Uncategorized, Whole Living, women, Women's Issues

For Women Only: Tips For Staying Youthful Looking

Granma-hippieWaking up and checking our smartphones is a sign of the times I think.

I check to see if my kiddo needs me. I check to see what the schedule is like at work, the weather, how many of you read my latest post, and what some small-minded arsehole of a man has decided I need to know about making myself beautiful.

Ok, the last point – I really don’t wake up to read that. I am exposed to it.

This morning, while scrolling through my feed Cheech Marin shared a post that suggested what not to do to stay youthful looking. Some of the tips included;

Do not wear jersey anything

Do not wear long hair.

Don’t wear loose fitting anything, but don’t wear skinny jeans either

Don’t wear chunky, funky frames for your glasses.

Don’t wear a specific shade of pantyhose.

Although some of the suggestions may feel right to some of the women out there, it all felt a little too 1950’s-keep-your-ankles-crossed to me.

And really, Cheech Marin is sharing this? Cheech, I’ve got news for you; grown women don’t give a shit what you think, and perhaps you might take a look in the mirror? Oh, no, I’m not going there and being nasty about his looks. Nope. That’s not what this is about.

Cheech, like everyone else on the planet is beautiful because of his smile, his authentic style, and his way of being Cheech, nothing more and nothing less.

Which brings me to the essence of what I want to say; screw everyone else’s ideas. For instance, I demanded a small piece of chocolate cake for breakfast…

Ok, maybe make healthy choices for yourself so you don’t end up with gout, but do be (doo-be-doo) sure to enjoy this life.

phyllisMy suggestions for staying youthful for women and men;

Don’t let your weight hold you back from anything. Back fat and belly rolls do not mean you deserve to be holed up in the house alone. Laughter and curiosity are healthy, no matter what your size.

Wear your hair however you damn well please, and don’t worry about it all day long.

Make-up: Do whatever makes you feel good. Some days I’m glam, some days I’m  ma’am.

Clothing; Are you comfortable? Yes? Then that’s good.

Pantyhose – do whatever floats your boat – men, women and everyone on the spectrum.

Jersey fabric – absofreakinglutely.

Eyeglasses; You likely will need them as you age. Wear something funky, wear something classic, just fucking wear them so you don’t have to ask someone else to read menus or street signs to you.

Do not be so infatuated with yourself that you miss out on the wonderful world around you. Do not be a navel gazer…

And that my darlings is your list to help you stay youthful. Look outward. See the world, and engage in it. No one cares about your hair, or your panty hose, or the shade of your frames. We do care that you are clean, authentic and kind.

Don’t stink.

Be true to your personal values.

Be 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.