Vulnerability vs. Stupidity

mice and cat

 

Facebook was kind enough to send me a memory from a year ago.  I must have shared this while feeling rather on-top-of-the-world and likely somewhat smug about it all. Mea Culpa.

vulnerable

I do agree with the statement – Wholeheartedly, but today I feel much differently about my vulnerability than I did then.

I’m feeling rather stupid. You know, that lovely nausea inducing feeling of shame and embarrassment. I absolutely believe in vulnerability, and generally, when it comes to little things, like asking for help at work or sharing my  experiences with someone down and out to help them feel better, I’m good at it.

But the big things I’ve been vulnerable with have come back to bite me in the ass. Instead of feeling safe, secure and loved, I feel ashamed. I feel worse off, and the weight of the world is now resting on my shoulders way more heavily than it did a year ago.

It begs the question of how we know when to expose our bellies to a world full of people with emotional swords.  The answer is something we all know; we don’t, we never will, and it’s always a risk.

Years ago I thought that it was worth the cost, you know, all of that hokey nonsense about in order to receive great love, we need to take great risks. At this age,  I’m not so sure any more. I kind of like the idea of curling up in a big ball and keeping my war-weary heart safe and sound.

Weigh whom you share your weaknesses, needs and dreams with. Be as sure as you can that they will honour you where you are  most fragile.

Wishing you  great friends who will cherish your vulnerability, and in turn, trust you with theirs. Kindness, kindness, kindness. May it reign.

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Buy & Sell

wicker chairRecently I was introduced to a phenomenon that I was completely unfamiliar with; the on-line community of Buy & Sell.

For about two weeks I was obsessed. I stayed awake into the wee hours of the morning, fascinated by the crap that people were posting for sale; furniture, baby clothes, shoes, toiletries and other things that I thought most people just donated when they got tired of it.

On-line buy and sell is the hunting and gathering of our times. I wonder if it’s fulfilling some ancient drive to be self-sufficient that we lost after being turned into mere cogs in the capitalist machine?

I could not believe that someone would actually go to the bother of arranging a meet-up to pay for the same soap you can buy at the store. And besides that, who wants to rub stuff all over their body that someone else has cracked open…I’m talking about toiletries here folks, get your mind out of the gutter.

So I gave it a try. I was reprimanded for donating clothing that I myself had posted to see if the on-line system worked. I was accused of teasing other users with my selfish way of donating since one person in the group was offering me $1.

You can imagine my response to the administrator’s accusation of ‘teasing’. I could just picture her with her laptop perched on kitchen table of her two-million dollar Etobicoke home surrounded by the loneliness of Stepford-Stay-At-Home-Wifedom. Pul-eaze darling! Take your one dollar, pseudo-group-policing badge and stick it where the sun don’t shine. I’m quite happy knowing that my suits are being used by women trying to better themselves.

On a more positive note, I did have some adventures. While waiting outside a strip mall for a lady named Dee-Dee who was going to sell me a new vaccuum for twenty bucks, my son brought it to my attention that  the whole ordeal was, ‘sketch’. As in shady as hell. The vacuum being the equivalent of a chocolate bar used to lure middle-aged women into the abductor van of life.

My son leaned against the back of my bumper-stickered car and licked his ice-cream cone, “Look Mom, if some weirdo shows up and gives you a hard time, I’m not really sure I’m prepared to fight.” About five minutes later, a beige mini van with two septuagenarians pulled up and we cordially exchanged cash for the vacuum. “Sketch, mom. Totally sketch.”

I sent my boyfriend on a mission to buy a rug, which I somehow linked to the awesomeness of the-rug-that-tied-the-room-together in the Big Lewbowski.

giphy

My man-friend did not perceive the ;same, high level of coolness as I did. As a matter of fact, he was kinda pissed at me. Until he saw the rug.

Then there was the wicker chair that my son accurately described as smelling like old lady and wet cigarette butts. A little vinegar and water wash and some airing out, and it’s as good as new – the chair, not the old lady.

And then there’s the giant bean-bag chair that I have been coveting on-line for a year. It’s $400, but I managed to buy one for $50 that was never used. I smelled this one before I bought it though. Old lady is much harder to rinse out of a bean bag chair than wicker.

I have always been a donation gal. If it no longer serves a purpose in my home, it gets packed in a box and dropped at the nearest donation drop-off. I believe that someone out there needs it more than me, and I want them to have access to it.  I also believe that I like the idea of making a little extra cash too, especially from items that I over-spent on, and never really use.

Perhaps that’s what it’s all about; Easing our consciousness of how much crap we consume, and how it actually diminishes the quality of our lives.

Maybe that’s why it enraged someone so very much that I had the gall to snub the one dollar offer, and the tank of gass I’d use to meet the cheapskate. The idea that I would rather donate my stuff to someone in need takes away from the glory of the almighty dollar.

 

 

All Grown Up With No Time to Go

woman rushedEventually we all grow up; in different ways, and on different schedules, but I believe that we do.

The faster it happens, the better off we are. That’s my opinion anyway. I’m not talking about having childhood trauma throw you into the world of adulthood prematurely. No. What I’m talking about is growing up and accepting your responsibility as an adult.

This included how you treat other people, and how your actions and words make them feel.

In other words, I don’t subscribe to the bullshit about living ones own life ignorant of the collateral damage it leaves behind like flaming shrapnel. Sometimes being a responsible adult means missing out on, or rescheduling something way more delicious than living up to a responsibility.

For some reason, we have mistaken the idea of self-care with selfishness. Seriously, we’ve reached the tipping point, and it’s pretty ugly.

I’ve witnessed it, and stumbled over my own  expectations of an instagram-worthy life.

Take a look at this:

That is a hell of a lot of work for a bath.  I confess to having a candle-lit set up in my own little piece of heaven, otherwise known as the loo. I’m a social media addict, snapping and posting pics as if my life depended on it.

It doesn’t though. What means more than a bunch of likes is the actual time I get to spend with the people I care about.  It seems to be getting harder and harder to carve out that time, what with shift work, a partner, and a child on the cusp of a big transition.

Self-care is a must, and empathy is also a must. It can be a fine balance when we live our lives with very narrow margins; lack of time, money or other resources.  When we finally develop into a stage of all-grown-upness, it seems as if we find ourselves livnig a life so fast that we have no time to nurture the meaningful connections that give our lives meaning.

Our connection to one another is the most important thing we have, and we musn’t let the world convince us otherwise.

Saturday Morning Coffee; Child Killers & The People Who Have to Be Nice To Them

saturday morning coffeeLast night I had my sweetheart, his son, and my son together around the table to enjoy a meal together for Easter. With young adult children and their crazy schedules, family time is precious, and to have both families blend together during these holidays is a true joy.

Simple things like having dinner together every day, and making sure you say, “I love you”, before you head out the door are mandatory at my house. Maybe a little too obsessively-compulsively so.

You see, my career is death and dying. The fragile nature of life is not lost on me, and maybe I have some PTSD going on. Ok, I do have some of that going on,  but I think that’s normal under the circumstances.

Easter dinner with the kids was extra meaningful for me in ways that I’m sure people who don’t work around loss and trauma will never know. Nor should they.

This morning I sat down to my little window, with my coffee and kitty mentor, Mr. Willy Nelson. I cruised over to www.thestar.ca and read the article about Ontario’s Chief Pathologist, Dr. Micheal Pollanen.

Basically, the crux of the article was that Dr. Pollanen has been guilty of confirmation bias;

Among them was confirmation bias — reaching a conclusion and working backward to find evidence to support it, and professional credibility bias — being unwilling to change an opinion once stated.

 

Fine. I get it, and god forbid I was on the receiving end of a case where a professional reasoned that I was guilty and then tried to prove it. Basically, you’d be screwed.

But the point of my little blog here isn’t to crucify Dr. Pollanen. I worked with him. I didn’t really like him – let me be clear, that’s my personal opinion. He seemed to be book-smart-brilliant, and socially awkward. But most of the doctors down there fit that description.

At the Office of the Chief Coroner, one finds that ego-with-a-capital-E runs rampant, and the term Doctor warrants a god-like-untouchable-status to anyone who doesn’t have the same credentials. Humility has no place there. There are few exceptions.

The reality however is that those coroners are human too, and I would argue, because of their perceived status as stronger, more intelligent and wiser-than-the-average-bear, they are at higher risk for PTSD, burn-out and the other psychological monsters-that-go-bump-in-the-night. Sure, they have  access to support, but there is no system in place to monitor it. There is no formal support in place to insure that the mental health of  professionals subjected to the most brutal trauma imaginable is cared for.

During my training, a past Chief Coroner ended his lecture to my graduating class by telling us that if we ever felt that we needed counselling or help coping with trauma, that we should suck it up because that was our job. This was hands-down the worst advice I’ve received in my career.

I too have seen the trauma of a child’s lifeless body marked by abuse, accidental injuries or what appears to be a cold-blooded homicide. I’ve looked into the teary eyes of grieving siblings who are too young to have know what grief feels like.  I’ve done it many times, it’s part of my job.  Unless you’ve physically had to take part in the autopsy or preparation of the body, you do not have any idea what it’s like to be a professional in death care, so stop judging and proselytizing.

You don’t know the deeper level of concern that we bear when our child or spouse takes the car, or is running late. Working with trauma brings you face to face with the fickle nature of mortality every. single. moment. of. every. day.

Don’t get me wrong, I’m not excusing Dr. Pollanen, I’m simply empathizing with him. You might want to try it sometime.

Ask yourself this; In a courtroom full of adults unwilling to admit that they either abused or neglected a child to the point of death, I wonder what the average reader of the morning paper would do? Part of me likes to think that they would rage and deliver a little eye-for-an-eye justice, the other part of me is a passive Buddhist.

So, as I sit here this morning, sipping my flavoured coffee, looking out at children in the courtyard giggling and scurrying during the annual Easter Egg hunt, I ask you to think of Dr. Pollanen as a human being who has dedicated his life to making our society a safer place.

 

 

 

Wharehouse Shopping & My Mortality

shoes

I’ve been feeling miserable as hell, but faking it quite well.

Sounds like the lyrics of a B-class rock song, but  it’s true.

I’ve been on the downhill slide of feeling like absolute shit for months, and mostly successful at ignoring it. Until yesterday. Yesterday was not a good day in the health diary of your-fabulous-one.

But here I am, at home, and not dead. Go figure.

Haruki Murakami wrote that pain is inevitable and suffering is optional. It’s a particularly Buddhist quote and it resonates with me as does the fact that the natural state of our bodies is one of health.

So, today, faced with setting up more appointments that will see me sitting in dirty yet sterile looking waiting rooms, I decided that despite pain and suffering, I was going to get on with the business of life.  I mean, I have shit to do man.

Spring has sprung in our little corner of the world, and I fully intend on taking advantage of it.

 

Today after my appointment with the doctor, who confirmed that I am indeed NOT dead, I went to get myself a new pair of  shoes. While I was shopping at one of my sketchy wharehouse sales that make me feel the essence of living on one salary, cue the gunmetal steps with the wood two by four railing and bald fluorescent  lighting….

Anyway, I needed these damn walking shoes…at about twenty five steps into what I am convinced is the next best thing to illegal merchandise, the namesake of the wharehouse gets on the intercom and I shit you not, he says this…

….You’ll have to excuse me because I don’t speak Chinese, so you’ll have to put up with my English. To all of you who are tearing apart my store, I’m going to have my staff ask you to leave. I paid for this stuff and I don’t want you ruining it. I’d rather you shop somewhere else because I don’t need your business…

At first I was appalled, and then I almost died laughing. What a circus!

Often I’ve been accused of being too direct, too bold, too independent, too smart,  wearing clothes that are too loud, and having boobs that are too big.

“Have you ever thought of having those reduced?” Um, yah genius. Would you like to pay my bills while I heal? No? Then shut up.

"No, no, no! It's longer with a bigger blade!"Having been feeling loogy for the past few months, I’ve had some time to reflect. I’ve actually been scared. Yes, afraid. I’m not often afraid of things, but the thought of really, really bad news about your mortality can make you a bit anxious.

What I realized is that I have very few (if any) regrets. Other than having my finances in better order, or a little less clutter for my son to clear out, or maybe not being able to be a mom for longer, I really have had a life well-lived.

Most of that is because of my too-muchness. I have lived out the curious corners that most people avoid as they tread the safe line of social acceptance and keeping up with the Jones’.

what are you talking aboutSo I had to give kudos to the man who called out the rabid greed of warehouse shoppers today. I love being with people who know how to cut to the chase when it’s necessary. Life is, indeed, short.

The last thing I want to waste time on is bullshit, and the first thing I want to waste time on is good conversation, delicious food, wonderfully thoughtful company, playing, laughing and being present in the joy that the present moment has to offer.

For now I will cope with this ill-health in the best frame of mind possible, remembering the comforting truth that the natural state of my body is one of health, and that although I may be in pain, suffering is optional.  I will also wear bright clothing, speak my mind, and laugh at everything.

So, if you’re mucking up my present moment, I’m going to ask you to leave. I don’t need your business.

 

 

Teenage Head vs. Buddha

be here nowMy sweetie and I are not of the same vintage. We often find ourselves WTF’ing about our friends’ antics, and our choices of entertainment .Yet we persevere, giggle, and learn A LOT.

It was this past weekend at a Teenage Head concert that most of my Buddhist training came back to me. Present moment? Pul-eaze, these folks were hanging on to the past harder than me hanging on to my only child’s innocence.

The present moment was nowhere to be found. Hanging on to beer bottles like the social-teddy-bear-comfort-of-underage-drinkers, fifty and sixty-somethings duded themselves up in outfits that should never, ever, be seen in public. Ever.

Were they having fun, or out there hoping to have the same kind of fun that they organically experienced in their youth? It’s a spiderweb issue, never really to be dissected.

I’ve had the good fortune of being exposed to trauma and crisis. Yes, I did say good fortune. I say that because I’ve witnessed true grace under presssure. Whatever the age or stage, it takes grace to transition to another phase with success and with some modicum of fabulousness.

Which brings me to the crux of what I’ve been thinking about lately; how to remain happy in the present moment, and continue to be spontaneous even as fear disguises itself as good sense and responsibility.

It’s tough. “We get cautious“, my gal-pal said to me during a conversation about how we’re feeling ‘old’.  Just yesterday I was stretched out in a worn blue gown that ties at the back on the pale green sheets of a gurney, being told about parts of my internal organs that were not healthy.

edith-piaf-non-je-ne-regrette-rien-columbia-8I regret nothing; The crazy nights out, my falling in and out of love,  career changes, my devotion to my kiddo, and especially my larger-than-life-sometimes-too-much-for-you personality.

What I do regret though is the caution that has gotten comfy and is taking up space in my psyche.

So, I hope to find joy in new places, experiences and acquaintances, that maybe, just maybe will scare me a little bit.

I beg of you. Let the 80’s hair, leather and old artists go. rade it in for the some half-shaved version  of the now, more sassy leather, and support new artisits. Find something new and fresh. Live in the present moment. Allow your body and your soul to mellow and change. Rejoice in your softening.Read new authors, go see new plays, listen to live music written and performed by kids who could be your own, paint your living room red, learn to code….

Whatever you do, do it with all of your heart, and laugh. Laugh a lot.

 

 

 

Pithy Advice, The Artwork of Our Time

shadow-work

There’s a lot of advice out there. Everyone gives it out like it’s the best thing in the world. But it’s not. It’s usually unsolicited and fucking awful.

When I’m feeling like this, the most therapeutic thing to do is to pour a beer, play some Janis Joplin on the annoying side of loud, throw my hands in the air and let the universe take over.

Nobody ever gives out cool, easy  Janis-Joplin-fuck-it advice. Nobody.

Today while meandering through a home decor store, I cruised by the aisle with the paintings and plethora of signs with pithy sayings.

in-this-house

 

Seriously? We all know that in ‘this house’, we do life the best we can, and that all this schmarmy shit is  a bunch of Stepford-bullshit-hoo-ha.

 

left-the-gate-open

 

Oh, bugger off.

dream-picture

 

Dream, hope, love…yes, I never want to lose those soft elements of my soul, but sometimes, it’s a little too much.

Tacky quotes have replaced art, creativity and independent thought. We have been so brainwashed that we hang our directives to suck-it-up in our living rooms.

Carl Jung is my hero. He championed the balancing of our shadow selves and touted it as the key to wholeness. If only the commoner could come to terms with their own anger, jealousy, fear and whatever other emotions aren’t considered pleasant.

I’d love to see some signs that say; you’re doing ok under the circumstances, and you are under no obligation to marginalize your less-Disney-like emotions? I once even thought I was going to embroider a sign to hang over the liquor cabinet that said:

Come unto me all who are weary…Matthews 11:28

Humour helps. When advice is plentiful and patience scarce, you don’t have to dance like no one is watching, or love like you’ve never been hurt.  Because people do watch (and give advice on how to dance better), and we’ve all been hurt.

For those who are also weary of placating the powers that be by stealing our passion and swallowing our sense of injustice, trust me when I tell you that telling the universe to fuck off once in a while can be completely, and utterly cathartic.

Now, excuse me while I commune with Janis and carry on exactly as I am.

 

 

 

A Little Bit of Medicine Makes the Madness Go Down

gin-and-tonic

“An intelligent man is sometimes forced to be drunk to spend time with his fools.” ~ Ernest Hemingway

Limes, tonic water and club soda are at the top of my grocery list. Guess what’s getting me through the horror-show that is American politics? You got it ladies – booze. Booze, helpless laughter and apathetic photos of cute, baby animals.

Spending a day trapped under the weight of a huge writer’s block, I turned to Twitter and Instagram, only to be bombarded by angry politics.

I get it. I do. I’m a fighter for anything I believe in, and I do believe it’s time to fight. But a gal needs a to retreat into comfort to gather her wits.

Given the internal, spiritual distress it’s causing, I’m hoping a few of my favourite things will fortify my faith in human beings again; a satisfying nosh at a TO restaurant paired with aglianico  and political conversation, the passionate and detailed attention of an attentive lover, a controversial novel and even a loud girl talk in public.

What makes it all sweeter is that this madness that is the USA, is a serious threat to all of the above mentioned freedoms, especially for women.

Do whatever gets you through ladies. Stock up on your favourite cocktail elixirs, take comfort in the arms of an accomplished lover, gather and plan in circles of strong women.

Whatever you do, remember how much courage it took for women to pave the way for us, and never, never give up.

Cheers!

Ringtones, Podcasts & Cupcakes

Today my phone chimed in with the famous ringtone I used to assign to men worthy of the term, ‘lover‘,  Let’s Get it On. Yes, I’ve a twisted sense of humour and I’m a phone screener extraordinaire. This ringtone used to either inspire my laughter or disgust, and based on my reaction, I knew whether I wanted to pick up or not.

 

What are old lovers if not opportunistic? Having known my preferences for well over a decade, he was fulfilling his annual happy-new-year-can-I-get-up-your-skirt-check-in-requirement, that quite frankly, had served him  well throughout the years.

Despite my hands-off status, it was interesting to hear from him. You see, besides his jack-of-all-boudoir-trades skills, he was quite a companion of intellect as well.

Which got me to thinking about thinking.

plato-s-symposium-anselm-feuerbach-1873Intellect and thoughtful conversation have always been a huge turn on for me. In our fast-paced lives of distracted-attention-deficit-afflicted-engagement with our loved ones and contemporaries, who has time to think? Like, really take time to put an idea on its’ axis and examine it from all sides? More importantly, who even realizes that we don’t do that? Most importantly, who takes time to set aside a few hours to have meandering discussions about ideas or the creative process, or how we found ourselves at the bottom of the political wheel again? Very few people even have the time, attention or inclination to actually read books (yes, plural) with fully expounded upon ideas, let alone form any original thoughts all on their own. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not scolding anyone, I’m as guilty as the next cog.

Tonight, the noise from the television was right up with there with the noise from a leaf blower (a contraption I believe proves our culture has lost it’s collective fucking mind). With dramatic music playing in the background, and a black and neon blue-lit set to match, celebrity couples were  being pimped on one of those disgustingly pretentious cooking shows.  Le sigh….

Has the world seriously come down to this? Really? We’re judging other people’s fondant and cupcakes with more earnest than our national leaders? Buh. Arf. Do something worthwhile for crying out loud! Sit at the table and eat wieners and beans, but for the love of all that’s holy, try to have an intelligent, engaged conversation.

The poop on the television was in direct contrast to the entertainment I chose on a short road-trip this afternoon. A phone call from a previous lover inspired me to take  time to indulge in some exercise for my intellect. It was refreshing to step away from the madness and listen to someone who has taken the time to do some thinking for us.

 

In a world filled with entertainment that at best can be a terrific study in dramatic background music (queue the chocolate cupcakes ), podcasts can offer us  something more substantial.

Trust me, I understand the value of small talk to safely test the waters of new acquaintances. For every discussion about philosophy, spirituality, art, or global justice, there is also a place for sports and fashion, but now, more than ever, we need to nurture our collective spirituality in order to hang on to not-so-long-ago-hard-won-social-justice.

Set the table and I’ll bring the cupcakes.

Ladies Night

dull-housewifeSometimes women are their worst enemies.

I have a reputation for rallying the troops for bi-annual lunches and events. But I’m pretty discouraged. In a recent attempt to bring some women together for a march to support women’s rights and a lunch afterward (yah, first world), I had one response from 25 women. One. Talk about privileged apathy.

I’m tired of hearing women complain about fatigue, feeling unfulfilled and burnt out when 99% of us don’t do a damn thing about it.This included rallying in the streets to protest our continued oppression. And I’m tired of being the only woman in my circle who swings wide the door so women have a place to come and bond. Ladies night? Whatever, I hear you bitching, but I don’t see you getting your goddess on and doing something about it.

Women are  caregivers, the healers and the peacemakers. We do a damn good job of sabotaging our own happiness by making sure everyone else’s needs are taken care of first.  Don’t get me wrong, I’m queen of cooking and mothering. I love to love, and I show it by being generous with my time and affection. I’m also human with my own needs, creativity and intellect.

It is apparent that men damn well do as they please with the absolute expectation that we’ll pack them a lunch on their way;We’re having a boys night, I’m going for a drink, we’re going to the game. Good. Go. Pul-eaze.

I believe that women absolutely need other women. We often get lost in this good-housekeeping-Maytag-1940’s-couture-ideal of being a partner, and when our relationships decay and our kids fly the coop, what’s left? I’ll tell you – a woman with no confidence,identity or fun stuff in her closet.

Having been single for most of my adult life, I feel blessed to have been so independent, I feel proud of my hard-won confidence and courage. I respect other women who haven’t won their financial freedom by spending years  in a marriage with no real relationship to their partner or themselves, only to the status quo.

Women need women. I aspire to inspire, and I also need to be around other women who make our goddess-power a priority. Applications now being accepted; bring fabulousness.