Maternal In Memorium & Mother’s Day Manifesto

IshtarToday marks the second anniversary of my mother’s death.

Ours was an unusually complex relationship, with  complete estrangement over twenty years ago. Despite the common cry of making amends by well-meaning acquaintances who do not know the depth of the family’s dysfuncionality, I have no regrets when it comes to this relationship, or lack thereof.

My mother was a victim of her times and of abuse. She was the poster child of body loathing and repression.  I grew up surrounded by women’s magazines, and I confess, I still regularly take Woman’s World for their feel-good stories and their little strips of inspiration. It reminds me of a simple time when my paternal grandmother would clip the posts and pin them to the fridge, or tear out the Ziggy comics and pin them to her inspirational bulletin board in the sewing room.

My paternal grandmother was in touch with her power as a woman. She was wise, fierce, kind and strong. She lived fully and taught me what it meant to be my own person.

ziggy Times have not changed so much, and maybe even for the worse. Not only are we expected to manage our homes, but bear the burden of less feminine roles as well.  We are still surrounded by racks full of magazines, air-brushed images of the female form, with covers that imply we are flawed; how to be thinner, how to be happier, how to please our men, how to de-stress so we can be all of the above. We are ingrained in a culture who continues to devalue the natural life-affirming work of women.

You may wonder what this has to do with the anniversary of my mother’s death. Everything.

I was raised by a woman who was  estranged from her own beautiful, glorious and powerful self. I had a choice as a young woman, continue the trauma, or claim my own glorious divine feminine. I chose the latter.

So many of us hate our ankles, our bellies, our hair or our skin.  We punish our bodies and ridicule our own needs. We ignore the call of primitive intuition, and we diminish the great power of fertility and motherhood.

We live in the world of magazine promises; to create a common, submissive self that perpetuates a world where our value and spiritual gifts are damned.

As the years passed and I healed into my own femininity, into my own woman, forgiveness came. My mother was not a bad mother as such, she was  truly a victim of her times, of her inability to seize her own power, and grow into her own, always determining her own worth by the praise of abusive men.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope that all of the women in my life,  spend some quiet time, reflecting on their own beauty and how their body has served them well, their own natural, intuitive intelligence, and their own power to embrace the fullness of what it means to be a woman.

More than that, I hope that whether maiden, mother or crone,  that all of the ladies reading this live each stage of life and every transition fully.  I believe that is the secret to a well-lived life. That is the secret to having no regrets.

The Machine & Fierce Women

3x1wupaksuqncThe Machine and How it Works….an interesting string of thoughts in a book by  Thomas L. Freidman, Thank you For Being Late. Basically he talks about a writer being certain or at least having a theory about how the world works.

After dating someone I would consider to be a privileged male for a while, it’s clear to me that The Machine works way better for him than I. Dating a hearty feminist has not been easy for him, what, with me calling him on his sometimes subtle and sometimes blatant misogynistic bullshit.

But this isn’t a post about relationships. Not in the romantic way anyway. It’s about how the machine works for women. A shout out to my non-binary friends here; The Machine doesn’t work in your favour either.

What got me thinking about this was the suggestion that I provide a list of the cosmetics that I prefer to use.  This, after squeezing my belly fat and asking when I was going to the gym.

Answer to the first; whatever’s on sale. Answer to the second; none of your fucking business.

What does all of this personal interaction tell us about The Machine? The Machine is rigged to keep us submissive. It takes more energy (in the form of money) to buy our basic grooming products (soap, razors, feminine hygiene products).  We bear the judgement of society with regard to child-rearing, house-pride and keeping ourselves looking unrealistically young. And that’s just the beginning.

I shouldn’t say “we”, because I count myself and many of my friends among the witches and wise women; I honour my age and my experience, and I have no fear of poking a stick in the gears of the machine in order to bring your attention to it’s flaws.

That the leader of the free world was elected after condoning sexual assault, only reinforces the fact that The Machine works for the privileged male and the women who slip silently into their role as concubines to the system.

This Christmas, don’t let someone shame you because you don’t spend your hard earned dollars on cosmetic products with a label that do the same thing as those you can buy at the local store (if you use them at all). Ask for books, hell, ask for whatever you want, just don’t be a slave to The Machine, and don’t be a slave to fighting it either.

Instead, continue as if The Machine doesn’t exist. Live freely, with grace and integrity, but don’t be afraid to give the world the finger every now and then either. Being fierce is a feminine as it gets.

 

 

 

The Niqab Debate; A Feminist Canadian Perspective

maninchapsI’ve debated whether or not to write this post.

Let me be clear, the Niqab is a political, social and emotional hot button, and our Canadian Conservative spin-doctors hit the nail on the head when they reeled in this red herring.

This is and is not a political issue. It is because it addresses the clusterf^@k that happens when church and state mix. It is not because we should be focused on the complete erosion of democracy that has been achieved by the Conservative government.

I am by no means a social conservative. I am, however, amongst other fabulous and wonderful things, a feminist.

As a woman, the idea that any faith or culture requires a woman to hide her body reinforces the grand debate about the inequality between women and men.

It’s all bullshit folks. Women, men, and everyone who lives in the spectrum between these binary ideas of gender, deserve to be treated equally according to their achievements, gifts and status as a human being.

This morning, sipping my coffee, I read a social media post, (read it folks- it makes a great point, the twitter handle is @manwhohasitall ), which emphasized how screwed up our culture is when it comes to assigning value to typical gender roles.

The title of the article was; If we gave fathers the same nonsensical advice we give working mothers. Here are a few of the more ridiculous quotes;

TODAY’S DEBATE: Is fatherhood the end for career men?

RISE & SHINE FRAZZLED DADS! Wife & kids asleep? Now is the time to declutter cupboard under the sink & snack on your open pores. ‘Me time’.

Working husband & father? Feeling overwhelmed? YOUR FAULT. Drink more water, get up earlier & dress in your ‘wow’ colours.

Now that we have established the double-standard that still exists for working women, let me dive right in to Canadian politics and culture.

People flee to this country because it has a reputation for being nice, for offering equal opportunity, and not allowing our citizens to slit one another’s throats in the street because of basic human rights such as gender, religion, or ability differences.

You know why that exists folks? Because we separate religion from politics.

Given that the history of the niqab as religious versus cultural choice is debatable, let me hit you with a feminist, Canadian, patriotic perspective; women are sick and damn-tired of being told what to do. As Canadians, we’re sick and damn-tired of people from other countries coming here and telling us that they want the same religious-cultural government that they fled from.

If your argument is that not being allowed to wear the niqab is a religious right, perhaps you can cover your face and symbolically demean women in another country. I would never dream of travelling to Saudia Arabia, wearing a bikini and whining about being persecuted for wearing it. It just doesn’t happen.

I wouldn’t mind if all heterosexual men were mandated to wear ass-showing chaps so I could size up my next pony-ride, but I doubt that’s ever going to happen. Because it’s sexist and demeaning.

I agree with Naheed Nenshi’s latest article in the Globe and Mail which talks about Canada being a country of hope. I do not agree with starting down a slippery slope of mixing church and state via the not-so-subtle misogynistic tradition of devaluing the feminine in the name of religion, a la Niqab.

Don’t give me the ridiculous argument about Hallowe’en or Newfie Mummers. It’s not the same and you know it. You know why?  Because females and males participate equally in both. Because no one shows up at airport security, in a courtroom, or in any other situation with their face hidden. It’s a slap in the face of every woman who has ever had to fight to vote, be legally considered a person, been paid less than a man for the same job, the list goes on and on.

Yes, mandating an uncovered face would be telling women what to do, and men too. It’s also telling citizens that we are all accountable for our actions, that hiding behind religion or cultural traditions which symbolically treat women as the property of men will not be tolerated.

Like it or not, allowing the niqab to be worn in public flies in the face of women’s rights in North America. We have worked damn hard to achieve the reduced level of inequality that we have now.

Misogyny cannot hide behind a veil. Instead, that veil screams to North American women that it is alive and well.

She Promised Herself

Promise-to-self

Sunday evening. Time to snuggle in by the fireside, and build ourselves up for another week darlings. Stir up a steamy, rich, cup of cocoa and set your intentions on self-care and joy.  You and I definitely will not be broken….

Grace; Clothed in Strength & Dignity

"Nude" by Julian Mandel

“Nude” by Julian Mandel (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

For a big ol’Buddhist, I have a rather scholarly knowledge of the bible, which some folks in my home town liked to beat each other over the heads with on Sunday afternoons.

One of my favourite biblical-quotes-almost-always-taken-out-of-context is; Proverbs 31:25 – She is clothed in strength and dignity, and she smiles at the future.

Part of Proverbs 31 is an ‘Ode to a Capable Wife’. Wife schmife. Let’s go with plain old ‘capable woman‘.

We live in a culture rooted in capitalism. The collective ‘we’ praises independence and individuality. We also live in a culture where the number of single parent homes is on the rise, and the majority of single-parent homes are headed by women.

Women also happen to be paid statistically less than men for the same work .Even if you’re a starlet. Please see the recent letter to Miley Cyrus from musical legend Sinead O’Connor

You and I may not be mathematicians darling, but it doesn’t take a genius to realize the financial and emotional stress that can affect women who, as my bra-burning sisters before me like to say, ‘have it all’.

Without our network of girlfriends, life would be a lot less tolerable. Proverbs may have expounded on the wonders of a ‘capable woman’, but I think in today’s world, capable translates to grace.

I hate to disappoint you wonderful women out there who think I’m all that and a glass of wine, but I must confess, I too suffer from ‘single-parent-home’ overload on occasion.

Growing up in an environment where money was used as a power and control mechanism,  I have worked hard to not owe anyone anything. I have spent sleepless nights wondering how I will pay this bill or that bill, or make sure there’s enough milk in the fridge.

I have always counted myself very lucky to have not one, but three post-secondary pieces of paper hanging on my wall. I have never, despite sleepless nights, anxiety attacks and a genetic disposition to lunacy, stopped working, and trying to provide for my household.

Despite my work ethic, there have been times when working hard wasn’t enough. Being organized and prepared didn’t stop flu bugs, chicken pocks, pneumonia, torn ligaments, and surgeries.

During those times, my girlfriends have come through. It has always been with great difficulty that I am able to say to someone, “I need your help.” Those are the four most difficult words for me to say. They devastate my pride, and make me feel weak, vulnerable, and indebted to someone else.  But there have been times when I’ve had to do just that.

You will be shocked to know that I was not born with a boatload of natural grace. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe my sweet, delicate flowers.  Life, has an amazing way of giving us what we need, and it has indeed given me a number of challenges.

I like to think that as I age, I meet these challenges with just a little more grace, a little better sense of humor, and a lot more faith.

I believe deeply that if  I maintain my own moral compass through the storms, I will indeed arrive stronger, with more wisdom and grace on the other side.

It was not only my own experience that taught me this, it was the wonderful mentoring of my “Mumster”, and other older, wiser women who had travelled the path before me.

We are all clothed in strength and dignity my  darlings, and if we love one another we shall all smile at the future knowing that we are in good company.

Remember that when you see younger women struggling. Raise them up, help with their practical needs, and be the kind woman whom they strive to become.

Be grace in motion. Be fabulous 😉

Handyman

Shirtless Worker

Shirtless Worker (Photo credit: Lizzie279)

Yah. We all need one sometime.

Not because we can’t do something. We wonderfully dazzling ladies need a handyman because we choose not to sully our delightfully delicate, feminine wardrobe or our manicured nails.

You may also be like me and require a handyman because you’re just a touch lazy. That’s ok my sweet, juicy, peaches. It’s OK to be a lady of leisure after a long day at the office.

I’d much rather come home to a delightfully refreshing spritzer and watch a hunky man install what-cha-ma-call-its while I watch his rippling biceps and continue to tipple.

However, my recent handyman experience has reinforced my strong tendency toward independence.

I was delighted when a tall dark and handsome man pulled up with a load of tools and an adorably short hair cut.  So delighted I had a very brief flash of imagination that instead of writing this to you, I would be tangled in my light, cotton sheets covered in sweaty handyman love, wearing his tool belt, with a socket wrench thrown in for a little pizazz. But I digress….

Alas, when said handyman stepped out of his car, he was so short I had to look down to see his biceps, and I certainly wouldn’t call them, ‘rippling’.  In other words, he was short and puny with adorable eyes.

“It’s ok, it’s the short ones that make love like Cirque du Soleil acrobats”, I told my judgmental self. “He could be the nicest guy in the world.”

Wrong.

Had I not had a previous relationship with a relatively short foreigner who sported an accent and an annoying attitude, I may have made the mistake of being attracted to this man. If he were on stilts and kept his mouth shut.

Mr. Handyman proceeded to try to up-sell me on electronics equipment, and then poked his nose into the photos I keep on the mantle, asking personal questions and making an irritatingly obvious attempt at flirtation.

I could hardly blame him. After all, his nose was precisely at the level of my breasts, and I could just imagine his dirty little mind undressing the girls, burying his face in the grand valley of womanhood and prematurely ejaculating in his low-riding trousers.

That I know Mr. Handyman wears tightie-whities is just wrong, wrong, wrong. I’m not talking trouser cleavage here, I’m talking low riding at his puny little hip.  That’s just dirty. In a bad way.

I couldn’t’ even continue my light, spritzer induced buzz on the off chance the vino snuck up on me and I got tanked and woke up next to this Russian anomaly of masculinity with the golden tooth.

Instead,  I made a cup of tea and made myself scarce in the kitchen.

Yep. That’s right. I had a short man with a gold tooth hitting on me in my own living room.

When he asked me out for a drink, silently in my mind I cursed the colleague who referred me to this lovely gem of Russian wisdom. I made a note to crazy-glue my beloved colleague’s wipers to his windshield and hide a lump of dog poop under the driver’s seat of his car. Soft, fresh, dog poop.

My not-so-hunky-handyman had an opinion about my relationship status (every woman needs a man), my haircut (cute), my face (fresh), and my ‘no dating’ stance ( just a little shy).

Then he walked me through a scenario when he was working with a ‘single-mother’ and texted her later that night because he liked her and asked if he could come over.  Subtle Casanova. So, with the same subtlety I let him know that should I receive a text that woke me up later this evening (or EVER) from him, it would  be at his peril.

Had I decided to get in his pants based on that story, in a week I’d be wearing his severed, dry penis and ball sack as a teeny, tiny pendant.

Handyman indeed. I think not darlings. Definitely not.