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Redefining Solitude

There is a fine line between solitude and loneliness. Frienship often helps define it.

It’s a perfect Sunday morning; waking up on my own without an alarm clock, feeling relaxed. Ah, yes, just what the doctor ordered.

Lazy spontaneity is beautiful. Unfortunately, I don’t have time or a lifestyle that allows for that.

I have to plan my rests, and plan them around my budget.  In the most recent edition of Tricycle magazine, there’s a great article written by Brent R. Oliver called, “White Trash Buddhist“, and in many ways, that describes my ability to fully participate in all that is the beauty of practice within an equally learned and practiced sangha;

I am forever in debt to the handful of teachers, writers, and thinkers who introduced me to Buddhist practice, provide constant inspiration, and continue to shape my knowledge of this path.

Actually, I’m just forever in debt.

Every time I get in my 12-year-old car and rattle away to the nearest retreat center, I’m reminded that I’m a poor white trash Buddhist. It’s a good thing none of those luminaries will ever try to collect, since I can’t even afford the practice as it is. That’s a shame, because the dharma saved my life.

I have a big heart and just as much education. Unfortunately logic and spirituality don’t always get along.  My stress level often reaches unimaginable highs, and when that happens, it knocks pretty loud and hard on the door to my practice of living with an open heart.

Thursday morning found me in a typically anxious frame of mind, re-writing my long to-do lists, and looking to the future. As I gulped my first cup of coffee, I knew that if I didn’t schedule a little self-care time for today, I wouldn’t get it at all for the next month or so.  Realizing that my  professional calendar is booked, days, nights and weekends until we creep close to the Christmas season, I felt my body sieze up, and tried to lower my shoulders from my ears.

Ah yes, anxiety and stress. What wild beasts to train to continually walk the tightrope of sanity.

‘A little self-care time’, looks like a day at the healing-water spa with a massage thrown in. I called the spa and booked it.

spa1

There’s nothing like letting the salt water tumble in a waterfall over your shoulders to release a little stress, to give your mind some quiet time and help you release that big sigh you’ve been ignoring for so long.

The gift of solitude in the steam sauna is priceless.  After a water-cycle, I’m completely de-stressed, mind, body, and spirit. A water-cycle followed by a massage leaves me feeling like a wiggly pile of jello. Sometimes we all need to be reduced to a big wiggly pile of jello.

A thorough romp that takes you from evening to late morning under the covers with you lover can accomplish a similar result, but the component of solitude is something all spiritual creatures need. But you can hide within your own solitude too.

You can have too much solitude. I work much of the time in the rambling space of my own mind, with moments or hours broken only by counseling or participating in planning meetings.  The past year has seen my energy level plummet. So much so that I’ve withdrawn from much of the social interaction that buoys me up.

So, although I predicted I would need a break from constantly being in work-mode, I didn’t predict what a wonderful hour I would share with my dear friend Mrs. CK, and her man the ‘Animal’ yesterday. On a brief stop following a long day working, I arrived at their home to a plate of beautiful meat, chese, and fresh grapes. Oh, and wine of course. The Animal has exquisite taste in wine.  Just having a few minutes to see and talk to Mrs. CK was uplifting.  They sent me off with hugs and a care package, and when I opened it later and enjoyed the food they’d packed for me, I felt even more connected, loved, and human.

Most of the time I don’t splurge on spa days. I have to be completely wrung out to spend a day doting on me, without feeling like I have to cook, clean, or be somewhere for someone else. Anxiety often sucks the joy out of the present moment, and keeps me cloistered at home alone, trying to quiet it down with activity. My nature is to nurture and help, but I must recognize that sometimes I too need to be nurtured.

This weekend has been a good reminder that being in the company of friends and neighbours is all the therapy a person needs sometimes. Rambling conversations and impromptu meals make for a lifestyle that fosters wellness, joy and balance.

Although I’m heading off to the spa today for some much needed TLC, I’m heading off in fine spirits thanks to the generosity of time gifted to me by some wonderful people. It’s a wonderful reminder that although I can’t always afford to participate in retreats and the sanctuary of a paid-entrance-sangha, my friendhips are priceless.

Solitude is healing, revealing and fertile ground for personal growth, but I must not forget that the solitude of friendship is just as necessary. After all, I’m only human.

 

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Dear Princess

worldpeacepedicure“The State shall strive to promote those circumstances that will enable the successful pursuit of Gross National Happiness.” So reads the Kingdom of Buhtan’s ninth article of their Constitution.  Sounds pretty great.

Sounds like the sign that should be hanging on the door to my spa, right here in civilized Canada.

Sadly, there is no such sign, and the idea of happiness is a very selfish one inside our once-upon-a-time sacred-spa-space.

Today I made a visit to my spa. You know, that sacred space of femininity don’t you my juicy little plums? A sanctuary of women getting buffed, plucked, polished, wrapped, primped and waxed.

The spa used to be a sacred place of released sighs, silence, and minimal eye contact. It was once the modern day equivalent to the ancient sanctuary of the fabled ‘Red Tent’. Except no talking, just a few quiet whispers between BFF’s.

Alas, like most sanctuaries the spa is no longer sacred, silent or civilized.

Tonight, my visit was longer than usual. Anything over and above my routine waxing and bi-monthly pedicures is considered spa-indulgence. I’ve been in a funk, and with no one but myself to consult on such delicate matters as my own mental and emotional health, I did what we all must do; I took myself for some pampering and much-needed TLC.

My quiet time was contaminated by women who are ignorant of social grace, or just grace in general. To you my dear readers, I give my open letter to the spa Princesses.

Dear Princess,

I can only imagine how difficult it was to squeeze yourself out of your five-million dollar home and drive yourself (gasp) to have your shellac filled and your stubby toes polished. My heart goes out to you. Truly it does.

Do you realize how ridiculous you look with your oversized, designer bag filled with what appears to be very official looking ‘work’ documents sitting on your lap, as you simultaneously juggle your blinged-out cell phone in your chemical-coated talons?

That wouldn’t be so bad, if the rest of us could simply divert our eyes or even focus on the chick flick that’s playing.

But we can’t do that because you’ve got your lips, which look disturbingly like the arse-end of a baboon in heat,  buzzing a thousand miles a minute at a volume Beethoven could have heard above his 5th-freaking-Symphony!

This is a spa, not a public phone booth. You are an adult, not a pre-teen at a pajama party. Stop acting like one.

Oh, and just so you know, the women who work in the spa are people too. The rest of us don’t really give a rat’s patooty if you like your decrepit looking toenails, “Not that short.”

That you have to cover your phone and yell at the woman who is crouched at your feet, less than a metre from your face, is an indicator that you should really pull your rude and demanding head out of your tiara-lined (and likely bleached) bumhole.

Clearly money is no object, and from the look of the rock on your ring finger, hubby could afford to send staff in to help you out. But I suppose that wouldn’t give him any ‘me’ time.  That, or your ‘rock’ is actually  a little stone you picked up at the flea market along with your spray-on tan and hair dye.

Forgive me sweetpea, but maybe I’ve got you all wrong.

You’re not the cultured sophisticate you want us to believe. You’re just like us aren’t you?

Do everyone, including yourself a favour. Leave the phone and the warrior-princess bravado in your ginormous knock-off handbag. Lean back, exhale, and relax. We’re all in this together darling. No one here will let your secret out of the bag.

With much love,

Your similarly stressed out sister. XO

Please share this with your similarly fabulous gal-pals. Mwah!

 

 

 

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Mirror Mirror

Bush Trimming / Horticultural Bikini Wax by Banksy
Bush Trimming / Horticultural Bikini Wax by Banksy (Photo credit: dullhunk)

Spa visits are rife with interesting conversational tidbits. In my own mind that is.

Now, I have, as most ladies do, a regular aesthetician.

I’ve found a waxer and polisher that I like, and I have been faithful to her for the past five years.

We know what to expect from  one another. I drop my pants, and she efficiently goes about her business, with the soothing sounds of water and the pan flute flowing from the sound system.

Water and the pan flute don’t drown out the sound of screaming. That’s somewhat comforting, knowing the music isn’t a cover up for torture chambers, just an attempt to relax you as hot wax drips just  millimeters away from your little girl.

Today my groomer was away. Gone. Not to be found. I was at the mercy of another woman, and my anxiety hummed up an octave.

As I spread my grand, gorgeous self across the waxing table, I began to wonder at all of the unspoken thoughts I have, and that my aesthetician must certainly have.

First of all, I always wear ugly undies. It is not desirable that the woman waxing my personality-below-the-belt find my gitch interesting or attractive.

Mainly I’m concerned that they my panties are old enough I won’t care if wax gets on them, and that they are clean and odourless.

If we’re honest with ourselves darlings, the only two reasons that we go to the spa are that we’re too lazy to do the work ourselves (’cause let’s face it, with a little practice any woman can keep her pubes groomed and her nails painted), and, it’s an hour or two long escape from our men and children.

It’s sad that having our pubic hair pulled out is a break from how hard we’re expected to work at home.

So today, with my legs spread open, the only work I do is hold up one side of my Wal-Mart panties as my groomer applies warm wax to the edge of the pleasure pit, and then mercilessly pulls all the hair out. Yah. Nice.

Her method is slightly different, and she’s muttering a bit.  I’ve gone so long to the same Vietnamese owned spa that I’m convinced  if my labia were to speak, they’d be fluent in Vietnamese slang.  If I ever travel to that part of the world, I think I’ll just wear a dress and walk on my hands.

This goes on, until she assumes she’s balded me sufficiently in all the right places. I have a general sense that all is well in the valley of passion, and prepare to get up, and regain my dignity (aka put my pants back on).

Instead, she holds my shoulder down and offers a mirror. “Here. You check.”  Pardon?  Um… No.

That’s just a little to finicky and a bit kinky for my taste. Looking at my own lady bits in a mirror in this small space with another woman is like the B quality porn warm up to mutual masturbation.

Nah. No thanks. I’ll just take your word for it. I’m having someone come and check your work later on. With their tongue. I’ll let you know what they think.

Next time I’m not just walking in. I’ll be sure to book an appointment with my aesthetician – no mirror required.

We make our way over to the spa chairs, where there is a warm, bubbling spa waiting for my toesies.

There is no eye contact. We both pretend she hasn’t just seen my holiest-of-holies, and I relax as she buffs and polishes the less taboo bits.

There is no tip generous enough in my opinion for the women who do our dirty work.

 

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The Amazing C and her Memory

“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.”~Mark Twain~
“Humor is the great thing, the saving thing. The minute it crops up, all our irritation and resentments slip away, and a sunny spirit takes their place.”
~Mark Twain~

The Amazing C strikes again!

After a long day at work I picked up the mail to find two magazines which I know I won’t read this weekend, and personal letter.

Although there was no handwritten, return address marked on the envelope, I knew from the writing it was from The Amazing C.

” I can’t remember what’s in this!” was scrawled in her big, bold, expressive (and kinda sloppy) handwriting across the back.

We often fill envelopes with letters and treats, and then set them aside to be mailed to one another months later.

I ripped open the envelope to find a photograph of me that was taken over 9 years ago.

We were at a cottage, and I’m acting like a doofus ( a refined, gin-sipping doofus) with glow in the dark bracelets shaped around my head like a pair of pink glasses, and a giant glow-in-the-dark-glow-circle a la Mr. Bill style in my mouth. Classic.

If I recall correctly, and I know that I do, we tried skinny dipping. It wasn’t until we ran out into the freezing, artesian well-fed lake (naked as the day we were born) that we discovered the water only came up to our knees. Oops.

Where did that goofy version of my fabulous self go? Money was tighter, my self-confidence was smaller, and my life in general was an exercise of flying by the seat of my stubborn and scared pants.

I’m a great believer in self-care; physical, emotional and spiritual. During the past month I’ve had massage therapy, reiki treatments, therapeutic touch, healing waters, prayer, and meditation.

When I looked at that photo today it reminded me that nothing is as holistically healing as laughter and silliness. They are the vehicles of joy.

The best place to go for a laugh is always anywhere that your friends are!

I can always count on the Amazing C to make me smile, and I can only hope she feels the same way about me.