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Rabbit Revenge

For those of you interested in whether or not I slapped my neighbour across the face with a two day old rabbit carcass, I offer you an update.

This morning, as I padded around my tiny patio and sipped a hot cup of tea, speculating about where I would possibly start my new vegetable garden project, I stumbled on something small and furry.

My heart almost broke. It was the tail of my little rabbit friend. So small and soft, and a reminder of how that little body was so disrespected. Currently the lifeless body is out in my green bin. It’s at the side of the road waiting for the trash collector tomorrow. I don’t even know if that’s where it goes, but based on my a-hole neighbour heaving it into my garden, I think that’s the best place for it.

Staring down at that little puff ball of fur, my first instinct was to mail it to the sonuvabitch next door.  My second thought was that I’d like to pin it to his ass. And then I sat down on the step, and let my heart break a little bit.

I set down my tea, and found my garden trowel. I dug a neat little hole among the tiny purple flowers that form a soft carpet in the shade of the lilac bush, and gently placed the little tail in the hole.  Like a good funeral director, I covered up the spot with a small rock to mark the tiny grave. And then, as I always do when I bury someone, I say a little prayer in my head.

Sitting back down on the step, I looked at the little stone among the short, wild flowers. It’s one of my favourite haunts in the garden; wild and lush and full of every bit of life.

I thought about how much energy the prick next door deserves, and how much of my energy I’m going to allow to be drained.  I thought about what good it would do or not do to torment him. Such a good little buddhist. Such a lovely weight off my shoulders.

Immediately after realizing that I’m not so bad at analyzing my own thoughts, I turned my attention back to the tasks at hand; prepping the tomato beds, transplanting my jasmine, finally getting my dahlias in the ground, building obelisks for my scarlet runner beans…

And then, I turned up the little speaker that keeps me humming while I work. I turned it up full blast and played my favourite album ever; Bat Out of Hell. I put it as close to his open living room window as the fencing would allow, and I dreamed of tossing fish heads over the fence. We have a raccoon problem that I’d like to share with him. I think that making the rabbit-bastard’s life more interesting he may be encouraged to mind his own fucking business.

Note to self: look up rabbit totems, add fish to the weekly shopping list

 

 

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Sometimes You Have to Do More To Have Less

donate.jpg“The Year of Less”, by Cait Flanderswas a great read. Well, it was actually a listen.

I’ve learned that my schedule doesn’t allow as much time to read and write as I would like, so I’ve taken to listening to audio books.  If you’re not convinced, and you love great fiction, give Ann Patchett’s the Dutch House a try.  Narrated by Tom Hanks, it’s a book that makes me wish I would have read it while nestled in my reading nook, savouring each and every chapter.

Listening to The Year of Less  was a much different book, part memoir, part economic decluttering advice, it coincided with falling into a near rhythm of working during the COVID 19 pandemic.  As you have likely experienced, feeling like we have control over anything at this period of time is almost impossible. This little gem of a book was perfectly timed for a mid-life-pandemic-inspired, pivot.

And that’s what I’m planning on doing. As annoying as I find the word ‘pivot’ right now (kinda like tribe and squad were whored out to the hipster masses during the past few years), I’m hoping to do just that, using shelved skills to pave a way to the future.

But first I must declutter.

Clutter distracts me and exponentially multiplies my already high-anxiety. Cait Flanders’ experience decluttering her desk and clearing out more pens then she could ever possibly need at one time struck a cord with me.  I’ve decided that all I need at my desk are my fountain pens, a couple of pencils and some basic office supplies. The itch to clear out my office supply drawer is pretty intense right now.

But I don’t have time for that. It’s late, and today I already cleaned out the bathroom vanity. Three small bags of junk later, I feel that I’ve at least got a running start on the decluttering.

My next step is clearing out my office supply drawer.

And then I’ll attack my closet(s). My clothes’ closets. Seriously, as a professional who wears a uniform every day, there is absolutely no reason to hoard a full,  walk in closet of clothes that I’ve either outgrown, or just don’t wear.  Nor do I need the piles of shoes that have not been unpacked since my last move.

All I know is that with an impending move, I don’t want to have to declutter while I pack. I want to be able to pack by putting lids on the containers under the sink, piling things in boxes neatly labelled with the room they belong in, and make a minimalist move into a new home.

This involves uping my gig game. Getting my copywriting and wordsmithing services up and running. It means taking a few more courses so I can set up a home business. It means keeping focussed while I’m not carrying on my long-time professional career.

It’s gonna take some focus and more work to achieve a ‘year of less’, which I hope results in a future of more. More of what is meaningful to me; time, family, joyfilled work. Less of the rat race.

 

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Keeping “Community” In My Personal Economy During COVID 19

My doorstep is a source of constant ding-donging, and parcel delivery.

Wth my son’s recent acquisition of a condo, he’s ordered the domestic accoutrements that he needs to make himself feel at home. My sweetie, the only one of us who is not deemed an essential worker, has been working from home, and enjoying the freedom of not having to go out to expose himself to the virus. He’s taken to ordering the cats’ wet food to be delivered, along with miscellaneous foofurah that will make him happy.

I admit that I do order from Amazon from time to time. I’m currently waiting for datura seed that I could not find at any of our local on-line offerings.

Mostly though, I’ve been trying to order from stores that I want to see open their doors again once this quarantine/shut-down/pandemic is over. Once a week I order from one of my favourite places.

I’ve placed a couple of orders with Wonderpens. Admittedly, I’ve never attended their location before. It was a thoughtful gift of fountain pen and fine writing paper notebook that hooked me.

 

It’s their Instagram feed @wonderpensstudioshop that keeps me interested and up to date with the products that they have available.  Their products provide me with quality stationary to that makes my writing feel more like an indulgence than work. From personal notes to novel outlines, I love using their high quality offerings.

When things call for something sophisticated for the palate, I turn faithfully to Hinterland Wine Company . Find them @hinterlandwine on Instagram.

hinterland.gif

 

‘Things’ these days, include A lazy Sunday lie in with brunch at the kitchen table, or binge watching old seasons of Game of Thrones. I always believe that you should have a bottle (or two of bubbles at the back of the fridge for occasions such as these. So why not indulge in something delicious and local?  Hinterland has been a favourite of mine since they opened. This week, it will be my treat to order a few more bottles to have on hand.

I first fell in love with their bubbles on a not-so-romantic getaway with a man whose company required copious amounts of alcohol just to keep me from pushing him out of the car…but I digress.  What kept me loyal and coming back to Hinterland for a visit was the charm of Vicki Samaras when she personally delivered a case of Les Etoiles, a few months later when I was single and able to enjoy their fine fare in the peace of good company.

Years later, when I took my sweetie to Hinterland in Prince Edward County, it was a giggly surprise to learn that Jonas Newman, Vicki’s husband and business partner, used to be his neighbour in Toronto. Small world. Delicious bubbles. What more could a gal ask for?

Pizza.

Another business that I enjoy ordering from appeals to a more base instinct; hunger.  Since I live in Markham, I don’t have much of an excuse any more to make it down to Terroni to pick up my very favourite pizza; The C’t mang.

c t mang

Admittedly, I’ve only ever ordered take out twice from Terroni. I prefer to sit in, mostly solo, and enjoy the pizza with a glass or two of wine from their delicious wine list.

But maybe a downtown road trip is due. After all, my favourite spot to hang out and drink craft beer happens to be Left Field Brewery. When they were open to the public, you could take in your own food to enjoy with their brew. Tucked in a sweet little spot in the east end of Toronto, it’s a cool place to hang out. In fact, last year for Mother’s Day, that’s where I took our twenty-something kiddos to hang out for a few hours.

left field.jpg

 

My personal favourite is their Bang Bang, a dry hopped sour.  The atmosphere is great for a casual meet up with friends, but barring that ,now that we live in the age of COVID, why not order some for delivery and hang out on your own back porch in the sunshine?

And speaking of back porches, the other local haunt that always cheers me up with it’s greenery and outstanding customer service is Kim’s Nature (Instagram @kims_nature). Curb-side pick up is available for your gardening needs. And really, who couldn’t use a little earth therapy? Seriously. Gardening, getting your hands damp in rich soil, and watching the lifecycle of a flower and vegetable garden are good for the soul.

 

I’m hoping that they open their outdoor garden centre this year if business conditions allow. Why? Because out of all of the places I’ve shopped in this neighbourhood, Kim’s nature have the heartiest plants and wonderful staff.

And I can’t forget my go-to take out when I’m hunkered down at my esssential workplace. It’s Abruzzo Pizza that my tummy begs for when it’s craving carbs and deliciousness. Located a short drive from work, It’s a family-owned business that has been around for just shy of 40 years. If it’s your first time ordering, get the Abruzzo Special. Get a party size, because you’ll want seconds and thirds.  Check them out on instagram at @abruzzo_pizza

Abruzzo

 

If you’re in the GTA, I hope that these suggestions inspire you to look into some of my favourite places and direct your spare cash to indulge in some of their treats.  If you’re not in the GTA, I hope that it inspires you to think locally and support your communities.

First and foremost though, especially for those of you who may not be lucky enough to still have a pay cheque coming in and are focussed on the necessesities, I hope you are well. I hope you have a strong, connected. loving community of support.

 

 

 

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Stay Humble My Friends

coffee-cold-mug-winter

Humble. That’s the best we can all try to be right now.

Humble enough to be still, kind, and for the love of all that’s holy, quiet.

If I were a medical professional in the midst of this pandemic, I think that during my time off, earplugs would be as important as any personal protective gear during my time ‘on’.

You know what I’m talking about, the incessant chatter of  how this pandemic is spreading, what the symptoms are, and how long it will take before we can all get back to thoughtless, mass consumption.

After a most stressful five days of dealing with a sick person, a young man’s plea for a place to stay after being illegally evicted due to fear of the Coronavirus and worrying about my own job, I woke up this morning snug and warm among my fluffy duvets.

Bliss.

Until the chatter started. A thoughtful phone call to check in on my sick sweetie turned into an amateur COVID 19 medical conference right there in my bed.

I jammed an earplug in the ear that wasn’t on the pillow, took a few deep breaths, and then gave up before frustration set in. Earplug out, I padded down the stairs to enjoy a hot cup of coffee in the solitude of morning.

This, after drifting off to sleep in the wee hours of the morning, wondering about the outward object of ‘adoration’ in the context of rapture…it’s ok, you don’t have to understand. All you need to know is that I was delighted to have had some time to submerge myself in the type of writing and thought that is all encompassing.  Something bigger than myself. 

The stress of the day washed away with my wordplay, and the ability to surrender to whatever comes next flexed it’s muscle and settled around me like a cocoon. I fell asleep with pen and notebook on my chest.

 

When you realize nothing is lacking,

The whole world belongs to you

~Lau Tzu~

 

I hope that everyone has that kind of escape right now; something that they love which gives them purpose.  Or even a guilty pleasure to binge on like The Tiger King , a raw example of chattering pride (pun no intended).

Being humble can come from a place of great joy, simple pleasures, or curiosity. Wherever it comes from, it can be a gentle teacher and an anchor in a world that seems to have gone mad. During times like these, humility can offer up a calm raft in the deluge of  uncertainty and change. It can also save you from yourself in ways you didn’t  even know that you need saving.

 

 

 

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Reminder: Women’s Day is Every Day

International Womens Day HistoryJust prior to quitting time on Friday, I got a call put through to my desk . It was the kind of phone call that we all dread.

My best friend, the woman I lived with during my university days, giggled with uncontrollably, and knew me before I was married, had a child, or knew the weight of being a responsible adult, had died.

We hadn’t seen each other in too long.

As with many conversations between women my age, our last digital conversation this week had ended with, ” We should get together soon.”

That was the last thing she wrote to me. My friend, who was going to be a great novelist.  Who giggled as we staggered home from middle-of-the-week-nights out,  and egged me up onto the stage on my 21st birthday to sing a Hank Williams song.

We won’t be getting together soon. I’d feel sorry for myself, but my heart is breaking for her children who will not be seeing their mother again.

In honour of Women’s Day, I waxed my mustache.

She would have liked that. She had my sense of humour.

My friend was one of the first women who shared my passion for feminism and free speech.

She was there for me when my mother couldn’t be. What I mean is, my mother was one of those women who felt trapped her entire life because she was a woman. She never had an opportunity, or the support we often give one another as women, to realize our worth, our power, and our innate depth as women.

International Women’s Day is a day I try to honour every year for that reason.  My best friend and I spoke up, protested, railed against the patriarchy if only in our university theses and ability to drink anyone under the table during informal debates.

And then life happened.  We got married, went back to school and had children in alternating patterns, and time became an enemy.  Time is the greatest of gifts, and we all need to be more careful how we spend it.

During Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, my phone lights up with messages and thoughts from friends and colleagues. I have the best women friends.

On this Women’s Day I am so thankful to be going out with friends as a balm for my grief.  My gregarious friend will be looking down on me, or perhaps even the devil on my shoulder, while I swig a cold beer and toast her joi de vivre.  Women’s day also involves receiving token recognition from  organizations that keep the systems running in such a way that ‘Women’s Day’ is necessary.

Women very much live in patriarchal construct of time. This mostly includes honouring the  9-5 grind on top of fulfilling the much undervalued drives of mothering and our need for connection.

Let Women’s Day remind you this year of how important it is to spend time with our gal-pals. Let it be a reminder for you, above anyone else, to prioritize and respect the energy you put in to how you spend your time.

Happy Women’s Day to all of my dear friends, regardless of gender and age.

Go out there, and make some memories. Remind us all that we have safe harbour, infinite potential, and reasons to laugh until we can’t catch our breath.

 

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Life After 40: Finding the Face of the Invisible Woman

 

Saturday morning I spent two hours researching wrinkle serum. Yes, serum, not cream, because at the ripe old age of just over 45, the skin on my face that once was perfect, is now taunting me with oiliness.

As usual, upon waking, I brushed my teeth and washed my face, applying a store-brand moisturizer  before I padded down the stairs on my freshly pedicured tootsies, to fill up on coffee. It was time to research anti-aging serums. I came across the Clinique Canada site which offered a skin assessment. 

I flipped the camera on my phone so I could see a reflection of my freshly scrubbed face. Gee-Sus!!! When the hell did I finish growing grandma’s jowls  on my face??? The little scanner slid across my reflection, and I was horrified at how much I looked like a sadder version of Cathy Bates in Misery.

A wise woman once told me that at a certain age, I would become invisible. After my little analysis, I was almost grateful to slide under the radar as someone unworthy of notice.

Invisible; I was shocked when it happened. Not because I didn’t believe it, but because I had always been able to stand out in a crowd.  I’ve never considered myself a beauty, but perhaps a natural beauty, with an easy laugh, and ability to gatsby-socialize and bring a smile to almost anyone’s face in any circumstance. I was a sure thing at a party, and in the sack. I was cute. I was confident. I was under 40.

You have an easy smile…

You have beautiful skin. ..

Is that your natural eye colour or are those contacts?…

These were an assortment of daily compliments that were gifted to me during the course of my day-to-day interactions. Eventually these compliments have dwindled to become merely a distant memory.

That’s how it happened. Not all of a sudden, but gradually. It was like putting on your favourite jeans one day, and not being able to button them up. I’d be lying if I told you it didn’t rock me. It was like trying to keep my balance during an earthquake. It didn’t matter what I tried to cling to in my repetoire of feel-good-physical-traits, nothing felt stable.

The older women were correct; the crepe-skinned-chain-smoking-60-something-one-time-beach-bunny who advised me to make my memories while I was young, my mumster who first presented the invisibility theory, and my granola-crunching senior advisors who cheered on my loose-morals and stiletto heeled antics from the closed-door sidelines of their lonely Friday nights.

Wisely, I did indulge in all of the sensual pleasures of youth, and I’m still a bit of a lush when it comes to wine, women and song. I am also however more aware of the pressure that we face as women to never age (on the outside).

Unless you’ve made a career of your beauty, or were privileged enough to have role models who convinced you to establish self-care habits  at an early age,  you likely have found yourself staring back at one hell of a woman whom you fear is trapped, forever under  jowls and deep wtf wrinkles between her brows.

Today I smiled when a friend of mine who just rounded the corner on 40 commented on the not-so-easy-to-transform, changes in her body. This, the same person who made me cry when she told me I looked old, just as I was feeling old for the very first time in my life.  I told her I’d just been out buying skin care products….and an absurd amount of red wine…

I shared with her some of the things I have found that bring a smile to my over-forty-face. They help to make me glow on the outside the same way I still feel on the inside;

 

  1. Dr. Jart Vital Hydra Solution Mask

dr jart

 

2. Clinique – All About Eyes

all about eyes

3. Hope’s End Red Blend

hopesend

4. Revlon Super Lustrous in Love That Pink

love that pink

5. Neutrogena Rapid Wrinkle Repair

wrinkle repair

 

6. Life Brand Bubbling Face Mask

This comes in new, white packaging now.

bubbling face mask

 

 

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Redefining What You Love: Passion, Purpose & Pretty Things

By this time last year I was two life-coaching seminars down, had logged a one-on-one with a literary agent, and was laser focussed on pursuing my passion.

That was then.

This is now – I’m into the third week of recovering from a major surgery and not doing as gung-ho as my tough-old-bird persona is want to do.  I have the same focus as I did last year, with a lot more realistic expectations of the work involved, and the skills I have yet to hone.  I’m training my anxiety to learn how to enjoy the work of building strong foundations.

And I’m having fun with it. Yes, fun.  Passion, purpose and pretty things might very well be my words for 2020. Passion for my passions, purpose for my vocation, and pretty things for everything I find myself engaged in. Sounds pretty good and a load less messy than panicking by throwing myself at wine, unhealthy relationships and meaningless pooh-ha.

pretty typewriter

PASSION

Of course it’s my novel writing. But I need to refine my craft. Re-writing and giving my characters and stories depth has become my focus. Learning, refining, being creative in ways I’ve never tried.  Focus is a stern master when it comes to us creative types, but I think I’ve finally been tamed.

be kind to one another

PURPOSE

Kindness. That’s really it. Kindness isn’t as simple as it seems, and it takes character. To be kind in my profession means being knowledgable, patient (not a natural gift of mine), and also providing myself enough self-care time so that I have the energy to hold space for my clients and colleagues.

pretty paris

PRETTY THINGS

It seems simple and self-explanatory, but it’s not. I’m sure many women can relate to having body image issues. I’ve been fat, thin, struggled with an eating disorder, fit, flabby, and everything in between. I spent many years listening to self-talk that hissed how very undeserving I was of pretty things.  I’m over it. Not 100%, but my gratitude for my body has finally come in to it’s own.

My recent surgery has totally changed the shape of my body, and I have to learn how to dress again. As much as my chubby belly has now taken over prominence from my recently departed breasts, I’m having a blast playing with my own style. I turned here for inspiration ; https://www.stitchfix.com/women/blog/fashion-tips/find-fit-for-your-body-type/    I’m focussed on respecting my body by giving it a lot healthier input…with the occasional chocolate bar thrown in of course. And gin.

I haven’t come to this place easily. I’ve felt a little bit lost. The things I once loved don’t mean what they used to.  I’ve wavered with regard to my preference for weekly book reviews. It sounds trite, but it’s always been a part of my life that I look forward to and could count on.

My friendships have changed. I no longer feel obligated to feel obligated. I no longer get satisfaction from the work of trying to bring large groups of my diverse friends together.  I now prefer one-on-one time.  I care more about who I spend my time with because time is so very precious.

Social media time has been dialed down. One-must-be-peaceful, happy and paid for their passion (take a read of this article) memes are Stepfordesque, and I’ve had enough.

Stripping back what truly makes your life balanced and happy  includes a balance of the reality of work, and the pleasure of play.  There isn’t a lifestyle guru out there who can define that for you. You have to do it yourself.

Passion, purpose & pretty things. I’m gonna go with that.