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.

 

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Nice Luggage, Let Me Burn It For You

burning luggagePart of my spring ( and sometimes fall ) ritual is heading off to a silent, spiritual retreat. Lead by monastics, it’s an opportunity to sit with my own thoughts, emotions and reflection.

For most participants it’s a bit gruelling, myself included. It’s not the silence that we struggle with, it’s the constant clanging of our own thoughts echoing relentlessly in our own minds.

Silent, solitary reflection leaves no room to escape one’s own bullshit, as it were. There are many silent tears, some not so silent weeping, but much joy in having a sangha to practice with.

Trying to be a better person isn’t a one-shot deal. It’s a daily effort, and a life-long journey. I’m better than I used to be, but boy oh boy, do I ever eff it all up sometimes too.

And I’m not alone in the eff-ing it all up. We all do it. Because we’re all human, and we’re all afraid of something.

Today I wanted to go get a puppy, eat Captain Crunch cereal for breakfast, and go out to stomp in the mud without combing my hair. In other words darling, I wanted to be a kid; A carefree, do what I pleased individual, immune from consequences. I wanted to escape.

Escape from what? I lead a rather charmed life, I’ve cultivated an image of  independent-do-as-I-pleaseness, and lots of women are a bit jealous of it. But it’s not all that it’s cracked up to be. It’s a hard thing to change, this hard-won, Teflon veneer, (and just as hard on my sweetie), and quite frankly darlings, I’m way overdue for a change.

Alas, this morning I did not do any of those things that would have been escape-like. Instead, I made breakfast, threw a load of laundry in, and stared at my tired eyes in the bathroom mirror before sighing a big sigh and convincing myself to let it go and get on with my day.

In my previous post, Spring Road Tripping, I wrote about the rare sound of the laughter of friends. It seems that as adults, we’ve all over-packed and prepared an arsenal of protective gear  for our futures, based on past wounds. Whether you’re thinking the key to lifelong happiness is building a wall to keep everyone out,  blaming someone else for your own mistakes, or simply burying your head in the sand, rest assured, you’re only buying into your own bullshit. So don’t bring along a wardrobe for it.

Bullshit in a  frock is still bullshit. No one deserves to be judged based on someone else’s behaviour, no matter how you tart it up. Last night I did it, and my sweetie did it, and from the sounds of it, we’re not alone.

Time to let that shit go lovelies. For me, you, and everyone.

Can you enter into each interaction with a sense of generosity?”  That was the quote of the day, and immediately I thought, “Can I enter into each interaction and let all of my fears, baggage and hurt, go?” I figure if we can let that go, there’s really no other intent than generosity. If we can let that go, there’s really no expectation.

It’s the same for a lot of people. Can we enter into each interaction without casting a shadow from the past on something unspoiled, true and good? Can we?

Fear seems to be the beast, and I don’t know about you, but I’ve been letting it get the best of me lately, when really, I should be rejoicing.

Life is good. Love is good. I think that’s all I should carry with me on the next stage of this strange and mysterious journey. That, and a little bit of emergency chocolate. Pass me a match and that bag over there, will you?

Giving Yourself the Moments

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“Realize deeply that the present moment is all we ever have.” ~Eckhart Tolle~

Simultaneously I was voice-dialing my mumster and buckling my seatbelt when I was caught up in a moment.

Not a moment of city-driving-get-the-hell-outta-my-way. It was a moment of, “Ahhhhh…..” As in; big sigh of relief. Big sigh of, “I feel like I’m starting to pull myself together“.

After a long day, feet-throbbing, and 5:00 a.m. starts, I felt good. Satisfied, content, like maybe, just maybe I was ok.

As you all know, life has a way of knocking us around, and shaking our confidence. It also has a way of forcing you to surrender when the only fight you have left in you whispers, “I give up,” and then rolls over, gives your broken heart the finger, pulls the blankie over its’ head and goes to sleep.

Tonight, tired but happy, I gave myself the moment.

I let myself be grateful for just being where I was, simply in the moment. Grateful that I had a mumster to call, a kiddo to go home to, and especially that I have enough courage to keep moving forward.

We can only ever be certain of change, that our emotions can carry us to the most dark, frightening depths of the human condition and the loftiest heights of elation.

When we are in the moment; not anxious of the future or analyzing the past, we realize that it’s ok. We’re ok. Life is ok; As it is. Nothing less and nothing more.

The Devastating Beauty of Heartbreak

"...and she finally stopped playing their song when she realized she was dancing alone..."

“…and she finally stopped playing their song when she realized she was dancing alone…”

Heartbreak leaves us utterly spent, hopeless and longing for connection.

It is a form of grief left to work its way out of your heart, struggling against every difficult, dark emotion that was hidden by the light of what you lost.

Our hearts break when our children suffer, when we witness injustice, when we lose a lover, a friend, or our family.

Our hearts break and our worlds change. To survive, we adapt, adjust, stretch ourselves to get through just one more minute, an hour, or a day.

I don’t know about you my darlings, but I’ve been heartbroken and stretched thin for far too long. I’ve wept morning, noon and night in between parenting, paying the bills and carrying out what-must-be-done-to-get-by.

Standing in front of the mirror wondering at how I got this damn old, my son said to me,  “You look good mom.”

“Like, ‘thinner‘ good?” I eyed my chubby profile before I slipped on my shoes.

No, like good all over. Even your face. Like you’re not so worried about work and stuff.” I’ve raised quite the diplomat. Instead of uttering the name of he-who-shall-not-be-named, he just left it at, ‘stuff’.

My first thought was, ‘Holy mother of pearl! I must have looked like a bag of old, worn out crap all summer’.

Heartbreak teaches us some of my favourite go-to-overdone-most-misunderstood-Buddhist teachings;

  1. Impermanence. Nothing stays the same and everything changes. In other words; This too shall pass.
  2. Interconnectedness. Our actions have consequences that involve the lives of others; For every action there is an equal and opposite reaction.
  3. Karma. Our thoughts and actions cause conditions which we must live through; You reap what you sow.

Heartbreak and moving on means doing things you’ve never done before. It might be going to bed alone, socializing in ways that you would never have done before, picking up a new hobby, or re-connecting with old friends. It can mean silently letting go, or hanging on.

Heartbreak cracks our lives open, with a  painful, receding tide that carries away people, places and things that we love. It washes us clean and floods our hearts with life again, brining back what was meant for us; fresh and mysterious.

Wishing you the strength to open your heart so the pain can escape, making more room for love, whatever that may look like.

A Picture Worth A Thousand Words

I thought that this was important enough to share. Sometimes a picture IS worth a thousand words. In this case, it speaks more loudly than words ever could. The article can be read at Post Internazionale.

sparire-dietro-un-velo-orig_main

Why Sex-Ed Belongs in Our Schools

knowledge-is-power-quote-22It’s true.

Religion has always been at best, a path on the road to spiritual awakening which encourages empathy, ethical living, and love. At it’s worst, it’s a bastardized tool wielded by the hands of power-hungry lunatics.

Spirituality belongs in school because we are all spiritual beings in human bodies. Religion belongs at home because of the long history of being used to gain power and dominate other human beings. It continues to be a  mess of misunderstood translation, twisted  cultural laws, and most importantly, something that you have the freedom to teach your children or not. At home.

Last night on the news two protestors on the sex-doesn’t-belong in school-side spoke to a reporter about their religious rights, and that it’s a parent’s job to teach kids about sex at home. First of all, if you wish to live by religious law, move. That’s right, go to a country that honours religious law unlike Canada’s secular law. It is because Canada enforces secular law that everyone is, on the surface, offered equal rights.

No? You don’t want to move to a country filled with fanatics willing to slit your throat in the street?  You don’t want to be a woman covered and bound as property to her father or husband? Then sit down and have a good think darling.

You see, sex education from a woman’s point of view is healthy. I must agree that  despite teaching about biology and the mechanics of it all, institutional education  lacks the more subtle, but just as important aspects of emotional intelligence, sexual ethics, and personal morals and values. Those things are indeed a parent’s job to discuss.

What I find very sad for both men and women is that culture within religion often perpetuates myths that can cause physical harm and psychological trauma. Most people who adhere to fundamentalist translation of holy scripture in any religious tradition value a woman’s virginity. What they don’t preach well to those young girls are the risks, health concerns and precautions to take when their protective male counterparts convince them that blow jobs and anal sex aren’t really sex. What they don’t preach well to boys  are the same things. They don’t have the knowledge to seek help when they are raped, molested or infected.

Consent? What is that when one gender is the property of another? And ‘God’ forbid there may be more than two genders. Gasp!

Regardless of gender and religion, every person in this country is entitled to knowledge and resources when it comes to a whole picture of health. That includes sexual health. Chances are you’ll have more experience with sexuality than with  calculus during your years of mature adulthood.

Chances are the irate, red-faced fathers on the news would go into convulsions explaining the transgressions of the flesh that their children face. The same goes for their mothers. Memory is a slippery trickster, remember, it was less than a hundred years ago that women were considered persons and successfully fought for the right to vote right here in the true north strong and free.

God does not belong in school. Spirituality does. Education does. If you are God-fearing, religious, or otherwise follow a moral code, it is your duty to help your children experience the beauty of spiritual living, including the real meaning of sexual desire, intimacy and relationships.

If you really care, may I suggest adjusting your priorities instead of talking smack. Instead of bowing down to the almighty dollar, be home to share a meal around the table. Spend time with your kids and get to know their friends. Teach your sons and daughters about personal respect, compassion and leadership.

Knowledge is power, especially for young women who still live in a world where rape and the onus for birth control weighs solely on their shoulders. Now, could that be the reason that men of certain religious and cultural traditions poo-poo public education, because it gives women power? Why yes, I think we have the winning answer right there darlings.

Knowing the risks and reality of sex does not take away from religious life. It never has and it never will. It only takes away power from power-hungry leaders and the weak.

Hello…Is There Intelligent Life Out There?

When my soul saw you, it said, "Oh there you are. I thought I recognized you."

When my soul saw you, it said, “Oh there you are. I thought I recognized you.”

Revelations of the spirit. They’re not something that happen every day.

Sadly, I’ve come to realize that they are not part of life for everyone, and although everyone has the potential for cultivating intellect and spirituality, few  realize that potential.

Kinda like avoiding our own mortality, it’s really easy to ignore your human spirit and the need to let it breathe every once in a while. You know, in between getting the kids to school, practices, work, meetings, social engagements, managing a household and basically being a cog in the modern western machine of false economics and materialism.

Whew! Am I ever glad I got THAT  off my chest.

Apparently it’s been bubbling under the surface for a while like a big old rotten egg.

After a rather thoughtful and engaging conversation today, I got in my little car, let out a deep sigh, and then had a mammoth revelation of the spirit. I do not recommend this darlings. No, it’s far more convenient to hover over the surface of human spirituality than to wade through it hip-deep like a cranberry farmer.

Anyway, despite months, heck, I’ll even say years of coggery. That’s a new word folks. It means being programmed in  a machine like manner with regard to your approach to daily life.

My creativity has not been placed on the back-burner, it has taken a position at the bottom of my small apartment sized deep freeze beside the frost-bitten chicken legs from 2012. The amount of nurturing I’ve allowed myself to receive is the metric equivalent of zilch, and my connection to another human being in a truly intimate manner has been non-existent. Sex, smexch, I need some intellectual conversation with my pillow partner, and I need it now!

In plain-speak, I routinely am blessed to have very intellectual conversations with some of the most well-educated people around, but there is no emotional connection or long-standing relationship. Don’t get me wrong, I do stand by my previous essays promoting hot and fast meals of carnal delight. Everything has a place in the crazy lives that we live, but these hot-fast-get-it-while-you-can-fiestas-of-flesh do not sustain anyone who functions above the emotional level of sociopath.

better to walk aloneIt’s the relationships in which you feel safe exploring beneath the surface of the mundane that truly make my heart go pitter-patter. It’s knowing that beyond touch and taste or being held in someone’s arms that there can be elements of the sacred human mystery shared between two people. That’s what ultimately fans the flames of my hope for that kind of intimate connection in relationship.

I miss conversations, even with my friends, that linger over a meal and wine, weave themselves through the afternoon, evening and into the wee hours of the morning just before the dawn. My life is squeezed between getting from A to B, from 5a.m. until my head hits the pillow. Then I get up and do it all over again, and that my dear ones is NOT living

Life has gotten lost in the every-day business of living. It’s an abuse that’s hidden itself well, like the isolation imposed by jealous lover. Today, in the sunshine-filled silence of my little car, the root of my own suffering revealed itself to me and I wept; Thankful for the conversation that inspired my personal reflection, finally exposing that suffering at the source.

When you finally come to know something about your own humanity, you can’t un-know it. It’s the physical equivalent of seeing your naked self reflected in a full-length department store mirror.

It’s time to set a place at my table for another kind of meal. Not the hot and fast kind that I’ve managed to sneak in to satisfy a craving , but the warm, nourishing kind created with love. Heck, with the right wine, there may even be dancing on the tables once more!

Customer Service: The Art of Joy

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Goose. Yep. That was the message delivered from the ‘Animal Spirit Guides’ deck that was gifted to me this past Christmas.

Goose? When I think of a goose, I think of the absurd waddling they do, their plump bodies, and the way that they disguise their natural survival instincts with the appearance of total oblivion to anything other than pooping on paved park paths and wandering in circles.

This was my first week back to reality after two weeks of holiday time, away from the office, social media, housework, parenting, and anything else that required attire more formal than a bathing suit.

Having been a good-girl, I came home with some extra spending money, and decided that I could afford to treat myself to a dress that I saw while visiting The Bitter End. So, I ordered it. What ensued has been a miserable experience with HiHo Clothing’s Customer Service department, and an even more frustrating time with UPS. Lessons learned; just buy the damn dress, use FedEx, buy local.

What does this experience have to do with the Goose totem? Well, frist of all, I thought of the saying, ‘Silly
Goose’, which in my wee little girl brain means a doddering woman who is naive, and weak. Drawing the Goose totem also meant just taking an inward glance at my own attitude. A return to ‘real life’ always means kicking into high professional, domestic, and everything-else high-gear. In short, it sucked.

But why?” I asked myself over and over. Why did it feel so icky to be back to a life that I had created for myself? I love my job. I love my kid. I don’t live in a castle, but I also don’t have to shovel my own snow or mow my own grass, so it all evens out.

Satisfaction. That’s what I think it boils down to. I am very rarely satisfied with what I have, and continually strive to be better, to have more, to do more. What a lunatic!

Which leads me to believe that the atrocious lack of customer service at HiHo and UPS is a result of people showing up do to a job, get a pay-cheque, and leave to get back to their real life. It also likely means that the employees likely don’t have a great working environment, but that’s just my opinion. Rarely do satisfied employees metaphorically flip you the bird by hanging up on you or not responding to email. Satisfied employees have time to address customer questions and respond in a way that makes everyone feel warm and fuzzy.

Newsflash; Your job is your real life. Those moments on the clock are about being yourself and being of service to others, whether it’s solving problems, creating something brilliant, or cleaning up a bathroom stall so we don’t all die of some poop-bacteria-related disease.

So, as I caution you against the exceptional lack of customer service which abounds, I also challenge you to take a little look inside and ask yourself if you too are being a customer service asshole (that’s French for being useless).

Watching myself transform into an uptight-bot within 24 hours of arriving back to my ‘real world’, I took the advice of the Goose. I slowed down, took a look around and marveled at just how far I’d come, and with that attitude, I carried on with my week, trying to be kind, at work, home, and everywhere else. Most importantly, I reminded myself that it’s ok to relax, breathe deeply and trust my own value.

Doing that doesn’t make me a weak, naïve woman. It makes me healthy, helpful, and energized.

So go on ladies, dare to be a goose. Dare to create a life you life with joy.

Dear 2015

Photo ritghts are not not mine. I believe they belong to : www.b4men.nl "Write it in your heart that every day is the best day in the year." ~Ralph Waldo Emerson" "

Photo rights are  not mine. I believe they belong to : http://www.b4men.nl
“Write it in your heart that every day is the best day in the year.”
~Ralph Waldo Emerson”

My darling 2015, what took you so long?

I’ve been waiting for you since 2013. I thought 2014 was my soul mate, but it turns out I was wrong. So many of us were wrong about that charmer.

But you, you’re the one. I can just feel it in my squishy girly bits.

Take off your boots and put your feet up by the fire. Let me get you something to warm you from the inside out my deliciously, mysterious friend.

This year we’re going to have a lot more beach and a lot less stress. Yes, my sweet new love, let’s make that promise to one another so that when we toast one another good-bye and I move on to your big brother in 2016, we know that we’ve shared a special once-in-a-lifetime. Sand and sea breezes always bring out the best in me, and I’m ready to give it to you! In a pinch, we can settle for pool-side or more long, hot, deliciously candlelit baths. Bring poetry.

Already you’ve gifted me the pleasure of new company thanks to Vicki and Monica. What a delightful way to begin our relationship; surrounded by completely wonderful people who I didn’t know before.  It’s always a blessing to meet kindred spirits who know how to laugh and enjoy life.

You really need to introduce me to your friends. Don’t be jealous 2015, think about it. I’m going to need a lovely man to stick beside me after you leave. That’s your number one priority this year. Do you hear that 2015? A good one; kind, funny, loving, and if it’s not too much to ask, a little younger with some little giddy-up left in him. I will defer to your judgment here as mine has historically sucked.

I woke up with a headache this morning, and I’m assuming that’s because you knocked all of the negative el-poopo out of my energy field last night while I was getting my beauty sleep. Not so rough, eh? I need my lessons delivered gently, with a slow hand and generous heart. After all, I am a lady.

So, I’m all yours 2015.  Fully, completely, and unabashedly committed to making you a year to remember as one that brought good health, joy and love to not just me, but everyone I consider a friend.

Now, enough of all of this talk. Let’s go snuggle.

 

 

 

Surrogacy: An Outsider’s POV

surrogacy

My friend asked me to write a post on Surrogacy from an outsiders perspective, so here goes.

It’s screwed up. It’s against nature, and in all ethical debates I favour the natural; Refer to Margaret Somerville’s: The Ethical Imagination.

I am unashamedly Pro-Choice. In other words, I’m a hypocrite. I always favour nature unless…any number of emotional arguments whose colour runs through every strand of the fabric of human life.

The Universal-Collective-We favours logic over emotion. That, my darlings, is unnatural.

We have the capacity to love, hate and feel a broad spectrum of emotions combined with intricate expressive language. When we started to prize logic over emotion, we lost out on the rich beauty of intuition and true love. I’m not saying I’m a braless free-loving hippie. I am saying the value we place on logic versus emotion is the reason psychotherapy is on the rise.

So what does this have to do with surrogacy? Well, everything.

I have chosen not to be a surrogate mother, for many reasons, but they are my own, and not yours.

Both of my very best friends have been surrogates. When the first pal o’mine whom I’ve known since I was 12 told me about her decision, I thought she was crazy and I told her so. I finished up my three sentence blessing with, “Whatever you do, I’ll support you and love you.” You know why? Because I love her.

When my second pal decided to do the same thing, I gave the same speech. You know why? Because I love her.

What are the chances my two best friends decided to do something that wouldn’t even register as a possibility on my radar? Well, because I have my own life, my own experiences, and my own opinion. They have theirs.

Argue gay-rights, Christian rights, women’s rights, or whatever rights get your pink and whites sweaty, I really don’t give a rat’s ass. What I care about is people caring about one another.  I was raised in a heterosexual-nightmare of a household, and frankly, some wolves would be far better parents than a lot of people out there who bumble through life, giving birth like I give out bags of potato chips on Hallowe’en.

I know many heterosexual-childless couples by choice, and I know a lot of homosexual couples who would be amazing parents.

Money changes hands over more insidious things than bringing human babies into the world, so who am I to judge?  Surrogacy is a priceless gift, which is why the money makes it seem dirty. Our version of survival of the fittest now includes survival of the most financially and class-status elite. Face it, poor people don’t have surrogate babies. Ever.

No one shakes a condescending finger at people taking chemo (against nature), birth control, oral fertility medication, erection enhancers, or diet pills – all against nature. We don’t picket the Red Cross because accepting donor blood is against nature, and we sure as hell don’t tell our flaccid-penised mates to pass on the little blue pills that make us go giddy in the bedroom.

The reality of the surrogacy issue is that it is tangled up in a web far too complex for human beings to comprehend and therefore too complex to mess with. Euthanasia, assisted Suicide, invitro-Procedures, organ transplants, tissue donation, even global warming. The list goes on and on and on….

Human beings think they have a handle on medicine and science, but we are mere infants in a universe more infinite and magical than we can ever comprehend. Every time we tamper with it, we damage it even more. We are emotional creatures, and we are loving creatures. We are far, far away from being ruled by logic when it comes to reproduction, our evolutionary drives, mortality and sex.

What is important is acting from a place of love, while we flounder with the deceptively simple logic of right and wrong.