The Downward-Dog-In-Heat Down-Low

make time for yourselfI’m going to answer your burning questions about my introduction to hot yoga; yes, I survived.

That in itself is success.

In an attempt to come up with some sort of healthy schedule in light of my new empty nest status, I have signed up for a month of hot yoga, hoping that I love it enough to make it a habit.

Empty-nesting has left a hole in my life where all of  my put-off self care needs to go.

So, I started at my local yoga place. The greeting at the door at Moksha Yoga was not a spiritual-community-greeting.  It was extremely clear that the sinewy, dewy-faced, blonde-haired  twenty something behind the counter was running a business.   After years of meditation practice, temple visits (and spa visits…), I get it.

Although I arrived very early, she was all about the rules. I might suggest that for identified first-time visitors, that business warm up their hellos. I’m pretty outgoing, so it didn’t deter me, but for others who are coming in,  carrying more anxiety and fear, it would certainly make the experience much more attractive.

A few folks that I know helped me choose an outfit that would not be sloppy and inhibit my movements; a sports bra, tank and pair of yoga pants. I took two towels, a water bottle, and rented a mat as I tossed my old one during my recent move. AmazonPrime will save me within 36 hours with a new one.

Hair: the bain of my feminine existence. I clipped my naturally ringlet tight curls up and added a sports band for good measure. After class I looked like I was making a  half-assed attempt at blonde dreadlocks but, whatever.

joy in livingThe class slowly filled in at the last minute, and I eased back into my position on the mat which I hadn’t made time for in at least five years.

It was hot, and I was wise choosing a reduced-heat class. I survived, and felt refreshed at the end of class. Even joyful.

I will be back.

 

 

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Tailgating Moms:Not Who You Think We Are

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When my son was younger, I was running helter-skelter trying to try and get him here and there, barely managing to make ends meet, but encouraging his athleticism. I had little time to socialize with other parents, but enjoyed their company while I sat in the stands and watched. I lived for our stinky drive home, and hearing all about the highs and lows of his game.

Today he is a scholarship player and represents our country on the national team. I go to his games, but I drive home without him.

My job now is to love unconditionally as mom’s do, and stay out of his hair.

The Parents-of-Players group at his school was surely developed by some mom-genius, who, like me, missed her kiddo more than anything, but realized the need to leave him the heck alone. Leave him the heck alone – yes, but still be there when he needs to look up and know at least one person is cheering him on.

And thus my tale of parent tailgating begins.

This morning I got up, prepared to cook,  before heading out on a roadtrip to support my boy and his team.

Thanks to the ridiculously photogenic food on Pinterest, I decided to make mini-corn-dog poppers and puff-pastry taco bites. Both seemed like good finger-food options, and anything that keeps me busy as I adjust to an empty nest is a good thing.

I set out this morning chopping weiners and rolling pastry.


I’m not sure whether the mini-corn-dog muffins look more like buttholes or nipples, and furthermore, I’m not sure a food label Bum-Bites or Nipple-Nips would help their popularity or my place in the hierarchy of respectable parents. The taco bites ballooned into something much larger than I expected.

I’m a little disappointed in my contribution to the party, but determined.

As the parent of a first year player, I’ve been welcomed with open arms into this group, who are teaching me how to celebrate the letting go, and next year, I want to be able to do the same for another first-year mom.

I have my second-hand red pants ready to wear, my ‘mom’ jacket and my air horn ready to go, along with the lawn-chairs, banner, flags and blankets.

Being around other parents proud to be part of their children’s lives is a joy.  Tailgating moms are not the hard-core, screaming fans you think they are. They are moms, with hearts as big and generous as the sky.

 

 

 

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.

The Buddha at Our Feet: The Wisdom of Annie

buddhist toesBecause life is short, and our intuition is bang on.

That’s why we need women in our lives like Annie.

Annie is my new pedicure professional. She’s voluptuous, has a full-rolling-belly laugh, and swears like a sailor. She also believes in spirits and the unexplainable.

I had stumbled into her shop after having a wonderful massage from another great lady, Erin, my massage therapist. She had just finished up our hour long appointment by rubbing sweet orange essential oil in my scalp on on my face. I looked the full part of a wild woman, and I smelled like heaven.

“Oh my god, it looks fantastic! I thought you had mousse in it.” Was Annie’s response when I tried to explain away my crazy she-wolf hair.

Annie could barely take her eyes off her phone when I walked in, no doubt skeptical about having to deal with another ho-hum woman who wanted her nails shaped just so-and-not-like-that-but-like-this. But both being straightforward and open women, it didn’t take long for us to connect.

Crouched at my feet was a wise-goddess disguised as a blue-collar-service worker.

Sometimes we stumble upon people in our lives that reinforce our own wild nature. Annie is one of those people.

At first, I thought, “Sweet Jesus, save me from the blabber-mouthed fool.” But she kept talking, and I realized that although some of what she said was shocking, it was all true. True to her, true in the world, and deeper than talking about the weather, or how our children were doing so well in school. Annie gets it.

She gets feeling nervous about firsts, body image, the plate full of worries that every woman sits down to every morning. She knows what it’s like to look down and think; I’d rather go hungry than digest this shit, and she carries on. We are kindred spirits.

It is so easy to slip into the Stepford-trap of conformity, of body-hating, of tame language, or wanting what the Jones’ have. It’s so easy to not be satisfied, to crave more, to fall into the trap of feeling not-good-enough.

Women like Annie are few and far between. I have been blessed to have her in my life; a Buddha at my feet.

Potential: The Alternative Reality

brick-wallDo you ever just get tired of trying to reach someone?

Seriously. There are only so many times  you can explain to someone, ask someone, or try. And then you give up.

Wise women recognize that  before it makes them a raving lunatic.  The problem is, if someone is important enough to try and reach (emotionally), you likely don’t want to give up. You convince yourself that they also want to be reached. You convince yourself of all the good that’s in them. You convince yourself that there’s potential.

Potential is a dangerous word, most often a desperate, unfulfilled hope, and a broken promise that was never really made in the first damn place. . In a word, potential is: dangerous and, quite frankly,  women over 40 don’t have the lifespan left, or the patience to deal with potential. Potential can rob you of a wonderful reality. 

I’m convinced that there are people out there (other fabulous pals and lovers) who won’t make you wait. Who won’t keep you guessing, and won’t leave you fantasizing about potential, because they are living it, in the present moment.

Let’s drop this potential crap and get back to reality shall we darlings?

 

Us vs. Them: A Dangerous Game During Dangerous Times

single-issues-struggleIt was super important to me to  able to take part in the Women’s March on Washington, here in my own country.

I have been sick like a dog for over a week, but felt the need to show up and be present.

As we gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto, I initially felt a little disappointed with the crowd, but estimates are that approximately 60,000 people attended. How they come up with these numbers, I will never know.

Standing on the muddy ground of our provincial legislature, I was humbled. How could I express my gratitude to be able to gather like this on public lands to advocate for human rights, when so many times in (relatively) recent history, people have been tortured, killed and imprisoned for doing the same thing?

I was also a bit cynical . I’d never seen so many pairs of pricey Blundstones and Doc Martin’s in one place in my life, and from where I stood, the crowd looked pretty darn, middle-class-privileged-and-very-white. Let’s face it, the folks working for minimum wage were working their minimum wage jobs while I was out there in my down-filled coat and Canadian made hat, looking forward to a warm pub and a hearty beer after all was said and done.

But that’s the point really. If people with some affluence and power do not advocate, the marginalized may never have a voice big enough to be heard.

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This all lingers under the shadow of the recent inauguration of a man who espouses so many vile qualities and completely lacks empathy. As a bit of an economic conservative and extremely social liberal, I fear the future. Even though I favour the left, this election wasn’t about Conservative vs. Liberal or Republican vs. Democrat. It was about how deeply disturbing it is that a man who is so cruel could be looked to as a leader by so many.

Kindness, above all else, matters. I’m not talking about  naivete or handouts.What I’m talking about is ensuring the basic needs of everyone are met; meaningful work that affords food on the table and a safe place to live. I know what it’s like to worry about both, and that kind of worry isn’t healthy.

What I’m trying to get at is that yesterday during the Womens’ March, I was very aware of how quickly my rights can be taken away. How easily it becomes an us against them game; I’m more of a victim than you because of my gender, my skin colour, my profession….in other words, how easy it is to fracture our basic bond as human beings, and how easily our political world can turn to horror.

We need to let the different freedoms we’re fighting for bring us together rather than divide us.

It was empowering to see so many of us care enough to get out of our comfort zones to gather together this weekend. I just hope that we can keep the momentum going instead of letting our privileged, North American apathy carry us back to relive a very dark time in our recent history. More than ever we need action. More than ever we need to be present.

 

 

Pussy Grabbers & A Feminist Who Sends Christmas Cards

holiday-partyIf you’re offended by the headline, you might want to buckle up. If a disgusting greed-pig like Donald Trump can say the word on a global stage, any woman can use it to express herself. Suck it up.

I run a single-income, single family home, and I do it with chutzpah and pride. Until yesterday, I had forgotten about creating our annual dysfunctional-family-Christmas-card. Christmas here consists of a lot of visiting, a lot of food, lots of love, and a liberal sprinkling of wine. Self-described as a feminist-Buddhist-quasi-libertine, Christmas is another excuse to enjoy life. Don’t judge.

So this morning, job one (after making coffee and putting in a butternut squash to roast for a pot of soup) was to create our card.

Flipping through an old issue of the Shambala Sun (now The Lion’s Roar), I was reading an article about how a lady used to do the same thing, and how the card adapted to life’s changes; children, pets, grandchildren, her spouse…very sweet. But then one year when she placed her order and the question of quantity came up, there was no one left to send the card to. All of her contemporaries had passed away. Very sad.

So this is life. This passing of time. Just yesterday I was explaining to a colleague that I view ‘spending’ my time, much like a miser considers ‘spending’ their money. Time is the most precious thing that we have, and in the wake of the election results in the United States, I think that it’s important to take some of your precious time to consider exactly why and how the good ole’ U-S-of-A (and quite frankly, the rest of the modern western world), got where it is today.

And please, don’t misunderstand this as a jaded feminist perspective. It’s a justified, feminist perspective.

The most powerful ‘leader’ in the world, elected to office via a ‘democratic’ system, routinely and openly flaunted his disrespect for women, going so far as to comment that he would date his own daughter because she’s ‘hot’ (there’s a word for that  you incestuous slob), and how about his ‘grabbing them by the pussy’ moments? I’m sure a heterosexual man would be pleased if his fearless leader ok’d homosexual rape in the same nonchalant way.

When I think about how I spend my time, I can’t help but consider how much of the values of men (and women) like this steal my life, moment by moment.

I do not hate men. I happen to love men. But I will not abide this male-value-system, slut-shaming bullshit any longer. My life is too precious.

This year, I ordered my Christmas cards and remembered the story of the old lady who no longer had anyone to send them to. I will not live in anger as the majority of the world runs around chasing a commodity that will exist long after our last breath.

I will live freely. I will enjoy the finer things in life; friendship, creativity, meaningful work, making love with whomever the hell I like. You know, the things in life that don’t require a ticket, and  don’t require the approval of men who grab pussies.

 

 

My Culinary Relationship with Mother Earth – We Be Jammin’

rearviewmirroI remember the year the apple blossoms froze on the trees. It was 2012. We didn’t have fresh Ontario apples that year, and the prices sky-rocketed.

That was also the year I stopped making apple juice.

So what?

Well darlings, I’m a country girl at heart, and a big part of enjoying the seasons is enjoying whatever our harvest yields. A big part of showing love and coming together as friends and family is sharing a meal together.

The lack of apples impacted a generations long tradition of baking apple crisp, apple pie, applesauce and apple juice.While I live within the rushed pace of the city for now, I stay connected to the seasons and to what matters most by enjoying the tradition of preserving. Apples are the end of the summer fruits, and it was a strange feeling knowing that something as stable as our seasons and harvest were being affected by the impact of consumerism (aka global warming). Our harvest seasons are part of the essence of who we are and the organic rhythm of life.

flat of berriesStrawberry season signals for me the start of true summer. Rhubarb is spring. Of course you can’t forget asparagus and radishes. With the appearance of little white blossoms and bright, juicy, red fruit, I know that the strawberries cometh and that it’s time to enjoy in abundance what the earth provides, and squirrel away the rest for winter.

Yesterday I took a beautiful drive out into the country, got a flat of strawberries, and came home to make my first batch of jam. Next will be raspberries, and this year there will be beets, peaches, pears, tomatoes, and salsa.

 

 

pouring jamEvery year, I think of my grandmothers and my mother, who carried the tradition and taught me how to do these things.  I remember standing on a stool to stir the jam as it cooked, and when we used to use wax to seal the jars.

I remember hot jam slathered on homemade bread. The smell of granny’s kitchen when she made her chili sauce with the cheesecloth sachet of spices simmering in the pot, and being told countless times to go get another jar of this or that for whatever was on the stove. We used to count the number of jars of jam, tomatoes, beets, etcetera in order to ration them until the summer came again. It was never because we couldn’t afford to go to the store to buy more, it was because we subscribed to the rationale; who the hell would eat a can of fruit or vegetables plied with preservatives and chemicals that tasted second rate at best, when you could eat something that tasted good and wasn’t laden with other goop? It just didn’t make sense. And it still doesn’t to me.

There are few people my age who know how to do these things anymore, and I wonder what they must be missing out on, counting summer by work-weeks instead of by the season; strawberry season, raspberry season, plums, pears, apples, squash, tomatoes, cucumbers…

This might even be the year that I get back to making apple juice. Just the thought of hot cider by the fireplace makes me want to cuddle with someone. During the winter months, there’s nothing like opening a jar of peach jam to remind you that soon, summer will be upon us again. Or maybe it’s a jar of tomatoes for a rich, hearty stew.

jam 1Living in the city for the past 16 years, you’d think I’d prefer the convenience of buying something off the shelf, but I don’t.

I love the slow process of gathering, preparing and preserving my own food, knowing that it’s fresh and wholesome. Knowing that what I’m eating and what I’m sharing with the people I love is the best that I can give them.

Wishing you a bountiful summer, and an extra pair of hands in the kitchen.

 

Flannel on Fire; A Sure Sign of Burn-Out

womanonfireBurn-out. It’s a thing.

When you’re the glue that holds it all together, it’s dangerous for everyone when you get so worn out that you crack.

My therapist calls it ‘over-functioning’. I call it every-day living, or at least I have since I became a parent.

When you’re too busy to even think about taking a break, and nobody cares enough to pick up the slack, something’s gotta give.

Something’s been giving for a while here, and tonight I think it snapped.

If you’ve read enough of my sagas, you will recall when I super-glued my foot into a pretty little open-toed sandal. You will remember when I had tummy-trouble in the middle of a boot-camp fitness class. You might even recall the cat setting his giant fluffy tail alight. You will know that very little passes by without getting a deep, full belly laugh reaction from me.

But not tonight.

Absolutely burned out at home and work, I allowed myself the indulgence of a candlelit bath.

With my face covered in an organic chocolate cleansing mask, and my hair dangling in the front of my wet face, I thought I detected the smell of something burning.

I have a terrible sense of smell, so I wasn’t too alarmed. But that quickly changed.

With deep conditioner in my eyes and a slippery hold on the edge of the bathtub I skittered to attention as I glimpsed a trio of candles burning rather too brightly on the vanity. Wait. I didn’t have a trio of candles, I realized as the smell of something burning became overwhelming. I had a candle. One.

And that was smoke in the air not steam.

And something was burning!

In my hurry to retrieve my forgotten face mask something had snagged my all-time-favourite-snuggle-in-at-home-costume; my mommy-flannel-nightie. The one my five-year-old son insisted was the most beautiful piece of clothing I owned. It was flaming on the vanity, melting a bottle of lotion, and shooting flames up, up and away.

Sometimes we ignore the signs when we need to slow down, that we need to administer some strict boundaries and compassionate self-care.

But trust me when I say this; a flaming flannel nightie gets ones attention. Fast.

“Mom, are you ok in there?”

Barely, I thought as I pulled my charred nightie into the sink and then returned to the bath, resigned to the fact that perhaps this was as good as it gets.

Thank you universe for reminding me that not protecting my own time, energy and values will cause me to burn-out, by sending me a big hunk of burning-flannel.

 

Hipster Economics and the Politics of Place

  Walking a short stretch of Queen Street East today, I wondered where exactly we all fit in to this crazy world. How do all of these loosely woven threads come together to form the fabric of a city?

Within a block, I passed trendy restaurants, proudly puffing their chests boasting, “Leslieville” signs, while any number of homeless men passed me by, eyes boring through people as if to say, ” I know who you really are”.

It’s a strange, strange world, where I’m convinced that hipsters perpetuate their own livelihoods, reinforcing their own egos to the point that it’s like neighbourhoods have devolved into oompa-loompa economic viability and no one knows the value of a dollar any more.

High end stores bragging organic-sugar filled products (yah, folks, that’s still sugar), offer gourmet-organic-dog-biscuits at the door for substitute-child-pets. Just around the corner, a man pushing a grocery cart fingers a parking meter for change and stumbles on, south, toward the lake.

Myself, I wander in and out of shops, and witness all of this craziness of life happening around me.

Somehow we all fit; the owners of an over-valued detached home with an adorable over-sized garden gnome at the front entrance, the homeless guy in a toque who walks by me but just half-an-hour ago was in a wheelchair with his hat held out to beg for my change, the well-groomed-pure-bred dogs wagging their tails tied to firehydrants with over-priced leashes.

Off to a bar that boasts outstanding margaritas and a menu of Mexican/Asian food…who knew the twain should ever meet?

Yes, this is the world that we live in, and it works. For the most part it works.