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Santa & The Single Mom: Christmas Stress

unclelewis

Last night, while making a right hand turn at a busy intersection (during rush hour no less), I was so anxious having a little cry and panicking about paying the bills that I drove into a snow bank, went into auto-pilot and put the car in neutral, and then stepped on the gas (while still in neutral), and basically scared myself back to sanity. I did not shit my pants and I consider that a victory.

Where do you think you’re going? Nobody’s leaving. Nobody’s walking out on this fun, old-fashioned family Christmas.

Any single parent knows how difficult it is to keep the ship afloat at home.  You finally get a little savings packed away, and voila, an emergency and then POOF, it’s gone. It feels like a really blue collar Harry Potter life without the magic of cool creatures.

No, no. We’re all in this together. This is a full-blown, four-alarm holiday emergency here. We’re gonna press on…

I love Christmas, and I love celebrating it. The reality is a single parent home is a vortex of anxiety and stress during the holidays. The best you can do is try to breathe deeply, and most importantly, remember that you always get through it. Always.

Now, getting through it this year has been a bit easier as we’ve had some exciting and positive distraction in our home thanks to my fabulously awesome kiddo.  I’ve also had a lot of practice throughout the years, so keeping that in mind helps to relax me a bit. If you have little ones at home, trust me; it gets easier. Not that the pressure eases, no, it actually gets worse. You become more graceful about it as the years pass if you try.

…and we’re gonna have the hap, hap, happiest Christmas since Bing Crosby tap-danced with Danny fucking Kaye.

The truth is I get through the holidays with a few vices. Tipples in my morning coffee when I don’t have to go to work or be out on the roads. Knowing I can play my ukulele for distraction despite how badly I suck at it. Baking, stitching, and staying under my cozy blankets on my days off for as long as possible to meditate by counting my blessings. Oh, a fabulous drug plan, and a  good therapist go a long, long, way to always having a ho-ho-hold the stress holiday.

Mostly though, it’s counting my blessings and appreciating all of the fabulously weird, wonderful and kind people that I am proud to call friends.

And when Santa squeezes his fat white ass down that chimney tonight, he’s gonna find the jolliest bunch of assholes this side of the nuthouse.

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Change: Looking Forward to the Unknown

not-all-those-who-wander-are-lostA rogue wind gust smashes through the window and sucks the ashes of her ancestors from their urn, scattering them back out across the vast, midnight landscape…and so the protagonist knows that finally she is home.

Sounds delightful doesn’t it? Knowing that you are home. Forever. Where you are meant to be.

Actually, I find it a bit terrifying. I know better. I’ve witnessed it thousands of times; people who think that life will never change.  I don’t think I’ve ever felt that forever-at-home feeling.

Perhaps I should elaborate; I feel at home everywhere and nowhere. I have a gypsy soul and have a tendency to want to wander. I’ve lived close to the bone, just surviving with enough, and according to the stages of my life; student, young wife, mother, mother of a teenager…and soon, just me again.

This past year has been a combination of settling in and hurrying up to wait. And it’s killing me. Seriously, I am not a patient woman.

I am decisive and spontaneous, and quite frankly sick of the daily, commuting-to-barely-pay-the-bills-soul-sucking-grind. In light of not having a partner in adventure to plan the next grand project, place or party, I’m preparing to pack up my parlour and part. But all in good time.

As my Mumster would say,

My body is still here, but my spirit has moved on.

I get what she means. I’m restless and dreaming, and just fed up enough not to be nervous, which actually does make me a little nervous.

To anyone out there who thinks things don’t change, don’t kid yourself. To those of you who have a spirit of adventure, I wish you speedy decluttering, friends to help you unpack and courage.

 

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Travelling Light: My Very First Travel Companion

mapTravelling companions can make or break a travel experience. Or so they say.

I wouldn’t know. I’ve only ever travelled alone, but for one wild weekend in the Bahamas with my BFF, and we shall never speak of that again.

Pretty soon I’m off on an adventure with my sweetie-bear, my puddin’ pie, my hunk’a-hunk’a burning man love…you get what I’m talking about don’t you ladies?

Basically what I’m saying is that having passed the age of 40, I’m travelling for the first time with a man.

There are only two words for it; Yu Ikes.

Seriously.

Just the thought of it makes me giddy. Because giddy is my inappropriate nervous reaction.

Sweet Jesus. As I look around my hotel room, I see a sight that only a busy, single parent of an active teenager could smile at. My bra is hanging over the corner of the television screen. The large garbage can that is meant for the main living area is full of ice and wine. A French version of a popular food and drink magazine is drying out beside the sink (it got soaked by a half open bottle of coconut water while I was struggling to carry everything in from the underground parking garage), and deep purple remnents of said magazine are stuck to the towel that is hanging from a hook meant to hang up jackets in the entrance. There is a wet creamer package sticking half out of a coffee bag, and my shoes are scattered on the floor. Don’t even attempt to try and picture what the bathroom looks like afer a full-on gal-sprawl of cosmetics, towels, panties and hair accoutrements.  It’s pretty only in a way that that Parisian artists of the golden age could appreciate…while on opiods.

So this travelling without a companion has been a wonderful freedom that very few of my gal-pals have been able to enjoy. I totally get loving this freedom to not give a crap about anyone else’s space or comfort. After all, when you travel alone, your ‘stuff’ is all in one place and nobody bothers the organized chaos. There is also no cleaning up after anyone else either, which is a heavenly bonus. As is the fact that there is no one else’s schedule, priorities or aversions to be considerate of.

There is also no one to share it all with either. Not the messy bathroom and bra and the television set stuff – the good stuff. Well, not unless you go out and find someone to enjoy it with, but I digress.

Simply put, I need some valium and a good whack of booze to get me over my nervousness. But maybe a hug from my sweetie will do. I’ll let you know how it all pans out, hair accoutrements and all.

 

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Sunday Chores: It’s All About Perspective

danceinthekitchenAbout ten years ago I was in a supervisory meeting and was asked how I was feeling about my life in general.

I was happy. Deeply happy. My son was at, what I thought then, was the perfect age (around 7 or 8 years old). My career was both paying the bills and meaningful. I was single, but content going home to my own space, and feeling safe when I closed the door. I had time to concentrate on the spiritual elements of my life, and I took the time to be creative; painting, singing, writing, playing.

It’s been a long ten years.

Shortly after that I entered into one of the most difficult and enlightening relationships of my life. It fundamentally changed my perception of the world, it challenged me to re-think what it was I really wanted and expected from relationship. Most importantly, it made me even more deeply grateful for the simple life I had as a two-person-parent-and-child household.

During the past ten years, my son remained at what I always thought was the perfect age. As his birthdays passed,  I remained in tremendous awe of watching this person unfold and grow into who he was meant to be.

My needs changed, and my career became a source of grief. I left a place that had a piece of my heart and started over. I started over again after that, and then one more time until I found what I needed.

Ten years. A decade. The wheel has turned full circle.

I’m happy.

My son, towering over me is doing all of the things that a young man his age should be doing; asking to take the car out on dates, goofing around with the guys, getting his grades in order, and excelling in a sport that has the right people watching.

How can mundane tasks like cooking and cleaning and making mothering a priority be considered cumbersome now? I just can’t see it that way.

Even though my thoughts upon waking were a list of must-do’s today; cooking so there is food in the house for my long week of shift work, cleaning so home feels like home, not a shelter,getting my taxes in order, and of course, the creative finances of a single income home.  These are all chores of a charmed life, and I am grateful.

Wishing you enough peace and joy in your heart that you can clearly see your blessings, even it they’re dressed in an apron and sweeping the floor.

 

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Christmas: The Perfect Time to ‘Find Yourself’

vmask
What you see is what you get.
I had an interesting conversation tonight. Interesting in that I’ve heard it a zillion times from a zillion people; “I’m finding myself”.

Which, by virtue of the ability to be found, means that some element of oneself, was, indeed, thought to have been  lost.

After very little thought, and perhaps a dash too much  judgement, I came to the conclusion that those who have felt lost were not lost, but sold.

Sold as in; sold the big ol’ American dream. They have bought into the who, what, where, when and why of existence as deemed necessary by our completely make-believe economy. After all darlings, Just like Saint Nick, if you believe, it must be real.

Someone pass my wine….

What I think ‘finding’ one’s self truly means is that people find themselves in an unexpected solitude. Finally they have the space and time necessary to contemplate  mundane aspects of their life which have previously been taken for granted.

Daily routine for instance, or whether or not they like a certain type of music, sex, or art.

Finding oneself is often accomplished in the reflection of solitude against companionship; the interaction between contemplation and practice.

Finding oneself in the moment is all that there really is. What better time to practice than Christmas time, when we are often time and energy stretched and prone to  participate in more social interaction?

The present moment is where you will always find yourself. And you rarely find yourself the same way twice. Learning this will help you honour who you  are in each precious moment, in each exchange of energy with your colleagues, friends, relatives and lovers.

This is where your mask slips, allowing you see your reflection, frowning or smiling just as you are. Who you are is who you are, in each, precious moment.

 

 

 

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Uncorked Part 2: If a little Her-Heming-Way Becomes Her, So Does An Entire Bottle of Chardonnay

IMG_7058Ah yes, Part Deux of deux.

The prerequisite for reading this post is Uncorked Part 1.

Pour a glass of your favourite tipple darling, and snuggle in. In fact, just bring the whole damned bottle with you.

Two Christmases ago (is that even a word?…anyway), my friend, the Determined D. gave me a very heartfelt gift. She was very familiar with my love of fine wine, and my love of not-so-fine men.

Determined D presented me with a beautifully, purple organza wrapped bottle of Chardonnay. When she gave it to me she said, with sweet, wistful, Disney-like-fairy-tale, earnestness,

” I want you to open this with the love of your life. I just know that this is the year you will meet him.”

I really, really, really wanted to believe her.  So, I took the bottle (still wrapped), and placed it with my stash of vino that I keep on hand should I have the good fortune to keep the company of a wino with expensive taste, such as my own.

…and I waited….

And waited. And then I met Mr. Wonderful-Love-Of-My-Life-Everything-Just-Clicked! Ok, so it took a few months longer, but still! The Determined D was right!

I poked my head into my secret wine stash. “There it is!” I thought to myself. I’m going to open this on the big day when everything is official. Given the discussions we’d had, I figured that would be September sometime. Maybe October. You know, perfect weather for a little autumn al fresco dining.

Keep in mind darlings, that I’ve been single for the better part of a decade and a half. Not a year and a half. I’m talking a DECADE.

Long story short, he turned out to be the adult-equivalent of my high-school sweetheart stomping on my heart with the whore whose dad was the town dentist. Oh boy did it hurt.

After a bit of a parade of useless men during the past few weeks, and a really bad week on other fronts, I decided that tonight was the night that I was going to uncork my hopes and dreams of meeting the love of my life.

So, what exactly does a lady do when she officially surrenders? When she knows that there is never going to be the love-of-her-life to share that special, thoughtfully and beautifully wrapped bottle with?

She takes herself out to one of her favourite places. Mine just happens to be a world-class art gallery, with a Member’s lounge boasting an award-winning chef. She orders a tall glass of something boozy, a mouth-watering meal and stays to hear the world premiere of a piano concerto written specifically for the current exhibit.

She then get’s somewhat loose, toasts a grand good-bye to the lying, cheating, multiple-personality, whack-job, dickwads that have broken her heart, and goes home alone (listening to classic 80’s rock so loud the car shakes) to a fabulous bottle of Chardonnay. That’s my guess anyway….

Tonight I went to my go-to feel-better place. I stared out the window into the darkness of the November night, into the beauty of a city fully alive. I meandered the gift shop and decided to forgo buying a guilded acorn that Nordic legend holds will ensure a long life.

You see, the way things have been going, I don’t know that I want a long life. I want a happy life, a simple life, a life filled with love. An acorn isn’t going to give me that.

Neither is the Chardonnay, but at least it’ll get me though the night.  See Part 1.

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Being Single; Protecting Your Go-Juice

relaxonbeachIt seems that single people are the great catch-basin of sympathy for those friends negotiating marriages or the equivalent.

Our relationship troubles get us a pat on the head, and the standard, simple advice of, ‘If you don’t like it leave’.

A lot of coupled folks live their courage vicariously through us singletons.  Common platitudes include; You don’t need anyone, you’re independent, it’s time for you to focus on  your career (interchange that with a hobby, parenting, or some other such bullcrap), you don’t need a man/woman.

It’s easy for these folks to casually waive their ringed-fingers in the air and brush away our trite singleton emotional pain when, at the end of a hard day, they have someone to come home to, someone to snuggle up with, and someone to help negotiate the financial waters.

Yah, we get it. Relationships are not easy, and they take work. Why do you think it’s taken us so damn long to find someone we can live with? We understand why your spouse irritates the hell out of you. We really do. That’s why we didn’t marry them. We also understand why you irritate the hell out of them too.

There is an understood law of friendship that unless it is a true emergency, you don’t call after or before certain, civilized hours. Oh wait, that’s for coupled folks only. Single people stay up partying all night and writing their manuscripts. I wish. This long-weekend alone, I have been woken up every single morning with a text or call from a married pal in crisis, been needed (in person) for emergency advice out-of-town, and in my own living room.

Last night, I had a chance to put my feet up and enjoy a simple, quiet evening watching the ball game. By that time, My Go-Juice(you know, the fun energy that keeps you going) had run out, and I was in need of recharge time. I’ve been in need of recharge time for six months, but have neglected it too long.

I’m already counting down to my next holiday, and have narrowed down my escape destination to two options.

During the past few weeks I’ve come to realize just how burnt out,  in need of nurturing and good company I am.

If you are single, and find yourself constantly being asked for energy and time, it may be time to re-evaluate. Are you the one always organizing dinners, lunches or trips? Do your pals give you the brush off when you talk about your relationship struggles, but expect a kind ear when they bitch about their partners lip-smacking appreciation of anyone other than them, their messy habits, inability to communicate, lazy or alternately hyper libido?

If you answered yes to any of these questions then it’s time to recharge and re-fill your Go-Juice.

It’s ok to say no when you have nothing left to offer. God forbid us singletons get so cozy in ourselves that we’re happy handing out the candy-equivalent of peanuts for apathetic advice; If you don’t like it, leave.

It’s not that simple now, is it folks?

No, relationships are complex, fluid, wonderful things. Especially our friendships.