Soldiers of Love; Little Old Ladies

Happy smiling senior woman showing her apricot tartI’ve been accused of acting like an old lady.

This was only after I’d gone (what seemed prematurely) through my own mid-life crisis…in my 30’s.

You see, mine has been a full life; a career where I’ve seen more trauma, death and mystery than any binge episode of the most popular television series,  a made-for-tv-movies childhood and a plethora of mischief with lovely men.

There are few things I feel that I yet need to do.  The very saying, bucket list, makes me cringe. What a bunch of pretentious, assuming crappola. Every day should be your bucket list, without assuming you have time to carefully plan a list.

What I’ve come to understand at this stage is that little old ladies are often zenned out in their own little worlds of comfort; cooking, crafting, singing, baking, volunteering, doting on their children and watching Hallmark movies. They live for gentle moments of comfort.

This reality hit me when I was speaking to some younger women at work who had inquired about my career. It’s been a wonderful winding road that served my role as a mother very well. But there’s been an unusual amount of exposure to trauma, violence, and death. Which entitles me to take comfort in ‘little old lady things’, like baking.

Women who like to live their lives amidst creating a comfortable, quiet home life are sometimes the toughest broads on earth.  Like me.

We have been given the misnomer of the weaker sex  all the while proving that really we are the strongest. This is  despite gender inequality, violence, sexual abuse and economic discrimination. It is the women who are strong enough to offer our families the unrecognized emotional work required to create the sanctuary of  home where we recharge with love and kindness.

Never underestimate the power of little old ladies, especially the ones who arrived at old-ladyhood prematurely. Underneath the homemade cookies and blankets, we are fierce.

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A Guide to Achieving the Perfect Life

daring adventure or nothingPerhaps there’s been a huge cosmic shift in energy, maybe we’ve had some rare planetary eclipse, or maybe it’s just the big old world shaking us up a bit to remind us that nothing is as it seems and everything changes. You see, I can’t seem to understand what the heck happened this week in Andshelaughs land.

Just when I think I have it all figured out, somebody shakes the snowglobe and I haven’t got a clue what’s going on.

When I was a kid, I used to see adults and think how nice it would be when I finally had my life together. Ha! Anyone over 30 knows how much of an illusion ‘having it all together’ really is. Throughout  years of helping people during crisis, I have come to realize that we never, ever have our lives together in such a way that we are immune to change.

Often change can cause suffering and pain; anxiety, addiction, grief, fear, or  tightly woven combination of all of those emotions. If you can make your way through it, keeping fear at bay, and even a tiny flame of hope burning, change can be the best thing that happens to you.

This week, I had a number of conversations that were difficult, enlightening, and even shocking. People I assumed to be sensitive, intelligent and thoughtful demonstrated qualities just the opposite of that, and others, surprised me by crawling out of the dark-ages and exposing excellent quality of character.

Because the conversations were not what I expected (expectation is such a fickle bitch anyway) they made me think. Hard. Should I have said that? Should I have kept silent? Can I trust you? Who cares...

fancy dark chocolateThe bottom line is that it really doesn’t matter. Most of our big decisions in life come about as a result of something we never expected.

So I’ve decided to sit back and watch. Wait and not wait; carry on. See what happens. Go with the flow. Dream. Hope, and even laugh a little at it all.

Life will always roll like waves on the ocean, sometimes smooth, sometimes rough, and every once in a while there will be a rogue wave that knocks you down, pulls you under, and spits you out, disoriented but with a fresh perspective.

The only time we ever have life under control is when we can sit back, breathe deeply and accept that life changes. When you are aware of your reactions, you can actually stop reacting, and remain calm, observant and cultivate a deep sense of who you are and what you need to do.  In the mean time, there’s champagne; bourbon if it’s serious.

When the Amazing C is Silent

"Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty." ~Sicilian Proverb~

“Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.”
~Sicilian Proverb~

You’ve read about her before right? The Amazing C?

She’s a funny bird, but I love her.

Unlike my bestest friend who has known me since I was a virgin, the Amazing C came into my life later; After a marriage, a divorce, once-tight abs and my belief in fairytale endings had all faded into the sunset.

She’s my soul-sister in suffering and absolute fabulousness. She, more than anyone else understands my world of work, and understands when words are inadequate to describe the suffering of a higher calling.

She also understands how that relates to raunchy escapades, a bottle too many, and emotions that run so deep, even you don’t know they’re still there.

I like to believe that although life pressed the ‘normal’ button on our life-cycle, when we next meet face-to-face for a girls weekend, we will remember what it’s like to be ‘delicates’.

You likely have a friend just like the Amazing C. Don’t you think it’s time to make the effort to reconnect?

All women have years that pass quickly and deplete their buckets of empathy. We’re all  trying to keep up with daily life. But in doing so, we lose ourselves just a little bit. Reconnecting with our friends helps us rekindle that spark that made life exciting and cast a long shadow on fear and self-conscientiousness.

I’m off on another little globe-trotting adventure where I hope to re-connect with my creative, dynamic and energetic self. Maybe I’ll find that delusional girl with stars in her eyes who I used to be. I’m sure she’ll be there with your twin-double, cleavage at the ready, drinking martinis with sexy Scottish rugby stars.

When I get back, let’s do something stupid together again.

 

An Open Letter to Mothers With Young Children

"Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it's the most exquisite love of all." ~Maggie Gallagher~

“Mothers are the people who love us for no good reason. And those of us who are mothers know it’s the most exquisite love of all.”
~Maggie Gallagher~

I was you once – giddy with affection and unconditional love for my child.

Every moment was a miracle, and every second I could kiss, cuddle, snuggle or coo my little one, I did. Unapologetically.

I see you out there, proud as punch as you push your strollers and post your photos on social media of your naps, and first steps, and messy little-helping hands of your budding cookie bakers.

Don’t stop.

That’s right. You read that correctly. Don’t stop falling in love with your babies.

I’m the middle-aged woman you pass at the coffee shop, or in the shopping aisle who stops to tell you how beautiful your baby, toddler or young child is. I’m the woman who coos over the outfits and little faces, and even the tears.  I’m one of the kazillion middle-aged women who look at you through their newly increased lens prescription and says; “Enjoy them while they’re young.”

Don’t stop being amazed at every new stage. Ever.Don’t stop wondering how they are when they head off to school, and don’t stop bothering them for a hug, or stories about their day when they become teenagers. Trust me, they will challenge you sometimes.

Whatever happens and whatever they get up to, don’t stop being the ferociously loving mother that you are.

I’ll be honest with you. When my child turned three, I was tempted to see what the return policy was. Four was better. Like a light switch being turned on, the ‘terrible three’s’ (it was three not two) turned into the fabulous four’s, and I had my angel back.

It’s true, every age and stage holds some surprise. Some stages, much like the prize your potty-training-darling hands to you while proudly shouting, “Poo-Poo”  are less satisfying than others. Sometimes you will despair at how you will get through the day; emotionally, physically, financially. Sometimes, you will have nothing left to give. But that’s when us older gals come in.

We’ve been there; the smiling photo-posting-proud-as-pie times and the lonely-how-am-I-going-to-do-it-times. Pick up the phone, talk to us in line at Starbuck’s, or at the grocery store. We’ve been there sister, and lived to coach you through it.

For now, just keep doing what you do. You’re great at it, even when you’re not sure you’re doing it right, you are.

~Enjoy them while they’re little. They grow up too quickly.~

 

 

Why It Doesn’t Feel Like Christmas

 

"I close my eyes and drift away into the magic night I softly say a prayer like dreamers do. Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you." ~Roy Orbison~

“I close my eyes and drift away into the magic night I softly say a prayer like dreamers do. Then I fall asleep to dream my dreams of you.”
~Roy Orbison~

It has been decided and declared from our home to yours; it does not feel like Christmas this year. At all.

It’s been an odd festive season, and I had held out hope that as the day approached, I’d start feeling Christmasy. I kept hoping for that Christmas miracle I’ve been praying for would manifest in some way shape or form…until this evening as I assembled my ‘goodie’ platters for the office tomorrow.

I thought to myself, “I’ve done everything right. I’ve put up the outside lights. I’ve decorated the house. I’ve entertained and baked. The gifts are wrapped and under the tree, and I’ve stocked the pantry with treats and nibbles, so why on earth does it just suck this year?”

Decidedly it sucks because ‘we’, as in the royal, collective ‘we’ are caught in a vicious commercial and capitalist cycle of bullshit.

There is no break and no ‘taking it easy’ because it’s the holiday season. We work to the limit and squeak out a few days off to catch up with the people most dear to us.  Holiday house parties? Forget it. Who has time for that? Fun office parties? Nope, I’m afraid we’ve taken our professional selves to the edge of robotic functionality with no room for emotion, compassion or humour. Snarky sarcasm has replaced sincere humour as it’s older, wiser cousin. Dear god I miss laughing.

I want to believe in the magic of Christmas. I want to wake up one morning to whatever that Christmas miracle is that I’ve been hoping for, but I don’t have the energy this year to dig that deeply.

Perhaps I will find that magic in the candlelit sanctuary of church this Christmas Eve, after the Eucharist,  as we raise our voices to sing silent night and remember the true meaning of Christmas.

If ever we’ve needed your magic Santa Claus, this is the year.

 

Santa Strike: Stuff That Won’t Get Done This Christmas

"Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself." ~Hermann Hesse~

“Within you there is a stillness and sanctuary to which you can retreat at any time and be yourself.”
~Hermann Hesse~

This is one of those Christmases. I’ve had very few of them, but this is going to be counted as one.

It’s 11:25 am, and I am still in my nightgown, staring out at a beautiful sunny sky, thinking of my to-do list, and giving myself permission to mentally rip it up and set it on the Christmas fire.

Having been an eager little elf in years past, people expect my bounding red, green and jingling-bell joy every year; the cards, sweets, treats, carols, and extra little gifties. They expect my home to be clean, neat, decorated and the door to be open. There is always wine and coffee and tea, and time to sit and visit in the midst of the lights on the tree and mantle.

This year, is not one of those years. Sure, the lights are up, there is definitely wine available, and tea or coffee if you prefer, but you’re likely to find me wandering around with a book of Rumi’s brilliance and braless until noon, and I’m ok with that.

You know what that means? That means you have to be ok with it too. Yep.

Instead of good old Bing and Ella belting out classic Christmas tunes, I’ve got Hozier on high, and Sam Smith. If you want treats, the ingredients are in the cupboard, and you can help yourself to my kitchen. While you’re at it, mama would like some Scottish shortbread and some macaroons. The floor could really use a scrub and the dishwasher needs unloading. Too much bother you say? I totally get it.

Sometimes you just have to take a break from being everyone else’s jolly elf. Sometimes you need to just forget about what you think you have to do, and do what your soul is telling you that you ought to do for your own well-being. I’m going to pioneer a new field of study; The Ethics of Self-Care.

Take it from the master of flipping-off-elf-class-101. I’m headed to the tub now for a long soak with my coffee, Patti Smith art book and Eminem. If you need me, you’ll have to drag my pudgy,wet, steamy body from the bathtub, and that won’t be pretty.

I Believe: Christmas Miracles

"Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don't, who will?" ~Jon Bon Jovi~

“Believe in love. Believe in magic. Hell, believe in Santa Claus. Believe in others. Believe in yourself. Believe in your dreams. If you don’t, who will?”
~Jon Bon Jovi~

For weeks I have been waking up, and saying a little prayer to the universe before I step out of bed; Please give me the strength to get through this day and the grace to find beauty in it.

This morning I had a phone call from a friend whom I’ve lost touch with. We had a difficult conversation earlier this year which ended, badly?

I’m not sure if it ended badly, or just ended where it needed to end, so I left it alone and thought that time, like it always had, would lend some clarity

…but let there be spaces in your togetherness and let the winds of the heavens dance between you…

~Kalil Gibran~

After reaching out with a Christmas card (yes, I still send them), I had a phone call from my friend. Maybe that was a Christmas miracle? I can’t help but think so. He left a beautiful message and caught me up on the important things including his health, book, and new love in his life. I was overjoyed that perhaps the rickety bridge to our friendship was still in tact.

I’ve had a few of those calls this year, from people who have drifted from my life just due to the demands of daily life with family and career. I’m so thankful for this time of year when something more powerful than the rat-race pulls us together again.

The past two years have been difficult. This one has been difficult in a good way. Busy in a good way, and at the same time exhausting and an emotional marathon of isolation.   I’m tired of worrying about how we’ll survive the next day, and the one after that. I’m tired of being tired.

So after a day of spoiling myself and hoping that my visit to the Alex Colville exhibit,my favourite  shop, Wonderworks, and our favourite bakery, Forno Cultura, I went to bed in full surrender. My only request was that whatever happened next, ‘be gentle with me’.

This morning I woke up in the quiet of my room. I could tell that the day was going to be another grey, drizzly day, and already I was thinking ahead to the demands of the week and worrying about how I would make it all happen. “Magic,” I thought to myself and snickered a bit.

But that’s what this season is about isn’t it? Magic.  We’re almost smack-dab in the middle of the darkest days of the year. All of the seeds we have planted are working furiously to take root and get ready to blossom, making beauty appear like magic from the fallow darkness.

Mystery. Magic. The magic of Christmas. A Christmas miracle. Hmmm?

So my daily prayer to the universe changed this morning; Please give me the strength to get through the day and the grace to find beauty in it. Please send me a Christmas miracle…

…and then for good measure I added, “…that I can recognize and am not afraid to accept.”

I rolled out from under my fluffy white duvet and let my feet hit the floor.

Any time now universe, any time…

 

 

On Being a Weirdo

~Anne Taintor~

~Anne Taintor~

Despite being told by a number of men that they love strong, intelligent women, I have come to the conclusion that they have all been full of el-poopo, and that stinks.

During a recent conversation with a friend-of-the-same-vintage, I came to the conclusion, that I was the only common denominator among my failed dating adventures, and I think it’s because I’m a bit weird.

You see, I was weird before nerdy was cool. Way before it was cool.

As a little girl, my older, much into-material frou-frou sister used to turn up her nose and say, “You’re a weirdo.”

It was intended as an insult of course, but coming from someone whose personal ethic never really did it for me, I could have cared less.

As the years have passed, I realize that despite academic and career achievement  I am, indeed still that weirdo. I’m interested in process and theory as it relates to real world applications. I am fascinated by physics and karmic energy. War strategy and architecture make me lose track of time, and good writing, I mean really good, authentic journalism makes me sigh.

When Indigo designed their marketing-to-men menagerie’s, I was a bit taken aback. It seemed like anything interesting, thought-provoking, or requiring an IQ above village-idiot-level was considered man-territory. Pish posh!

I too enjoy a nice single-malt, swig of lager and adventure autobiography. In fact, unless I had a personal shopper who called me when the new seasonal suits were in at my fashion atelier of choice, I’d go to work looking like a homeless person.  I am a hard-working, professional woman, and my personal philosophy is that I should not be giving the majority of my mental effort to matching trinkets while my male counterparts get away with less education, lack of experience and are considered extraordinary dressers if their shirts are pressed.

Granted I’m motherly and like girl stuff like kittens, embroidery, romance novels, baking and jewelry. I love wearing frilly things and having my nails done when I spend time with the man of the hour and I’m a very strong, intelligent, independent woman who often likes to kick back with a beer on Friday night. I like baseball games and musical theatre. I love to camp, fish, canoe, and can also relax in a jacuzzi with vintage champagne. I enjoy it all equally. I enjoy sex for the sake of it, and reserve my heart for someone worthy.

If all of that makes me a weirdo in the eyes of the majority, then so be it.  I’ve decided that the majority of age-appropriate single men don’t have a clue what to do with a woman who can be a friend of equal or superior intellect and a lover.

To the other female weirdos out there – don’t change a thing. To the men who don’t know what to do with us – grow a pair.

The Holiday Hustle

santahustleSometimes you just gotta dance. I mean get out there, take off your wrap, your jacket, your inhibitions, and just shake what mamma gave you!

I’m not talking about the stiff, elbows up, I-give-you-a-seven-out-of-ten style of dance. No, I’m talking about freestyle baby. The kind that you do when no one’s home and you’re dusting the Dalton’s.

There are any number of holiday parties to attend, and a zillion reasons to be quiet, go home early, or feel inadequate. Trust me darlings, we’ve all felt that way, and when we feel that way, we wither like a two day old lily out of water. It’s the antithesis of fresh and glowing. Wilted and sad are never in style darlings. Never.

Not that hibernating and living in your jammies with leg stubble and four-day unwashed hair doesn’t have it’s place in spiritual growth, but come on! A bit of frivolous silliness is just what the doctor ordered to combat our winter blahs.

So, last night, I did just that with my mumster. We met a few new people, took some silly photos, and danced until we had to mop ourselves off the floor and go home. Fun, friendship, shaking off the burden of should-be’s; that’s what a party is about, not sitting primly at a table and counting the seconds until you can make your escape.

During my forty or so trips around the sun, I’ve learned that without a doubt, time passes whether you’re enjoying yourself or not. It’s your choice; suffer through the holidays, or do the hustle!

 

It’s Saturday – Use it Wisely

live a life of love

Just in case your day isn’t so glorious, I suggest popping a flask of bourbon in your handbag darling. You know, in case of emergency…

It’s one of those very rare mornings when I don’t need to set an alarm.

Other than a bit of tidying and shopping to prepare for my birthday night with the girls, I have a glorious day to myself.

Should I bite the bullet and really launch my novel on WattPad, or dig into novel 2 and 3 I have rambling around in my notebook, brain and WattPad scribblings?

What a delicious decision to have to make.

Whatever you choose to do today, enjoy it. Savour each moment, and spend your time with the people who appreciate your beautiful self.