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The Longest Night: How To

First of all, let go of all expectations.

The theme is the Longest Night: Finding Light in the Darkness, and is always, always, always held on the eve of winter solstice (December 21).

1)Send out invitations however you like – I use social media and the occasional email.

Given the theme, invite friends whom you feel you can be spiritually naked with.  The more the merrier, or not. It’s up to you. Personally I love having an eclectic group of friends who are intelligent and kind.

2)Each person is encouraged to bring a piece of writing, poetry, artwork, music or visual art to share with the group.  Have them bring copies to give out if they can.

3) Pot-freaking-luck – this not only takes the pressure off of the host, but it offers everyone a chance to bring a special dish that honours the spirit of the evening. Sharing food is an intimate act of friendship.

4)Offer a place to sleep should anyone be enjoying a few beverages or, if you’re in Canada, cannabis.

5)Offer all of the seating you can; couches, chairs, cushions, stools. Basically, form a cozy circle where people can relax.

6) Draw numbers to see who shares first, second and so forth.

7)Begin the evening with a toast, or reading appropriate to the theme. Light a candle as a symbol of the season of mystery and hope.  The joy of the evening is to share, discuss and share some more, taking everything at a leisurely pace.

8)Enjoy one another’s company.

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The Longest Night: Your Invitation

Like most adults, the magic of Christmas wanes with each passing year. This year I’m struggling to grasp that spirit at all, even a tiny shred of it.

I absolutely love getting out for Christmas dinners with my friends, I enjoy strolling the markets, and listening to Christmas music.  I realized just how un-Christmasy my life is this year after reading an update from my cousin this morning about having his first Christmas dinner in the books.

This after waking up and staring at the ceiling of what used to be my writing room, and thinking just that…this does not feel like Christmas.

When I was a young mother, doting on my son, baking, cooking and inviting friends into our home made the season so very special. Long past having a big wish list, I have always used Christmas as an excuse to connect with the people in my life whom I don’t get to spend time with often enough. It’s a special part of the year that carries me through, having reinforced the bonds of these precious friendships.

the longest night

But not this  year. This year I am bound to the house, run off my feet, and honestly, feeling lonesome for those friends.

Loneliness and isolation can make a pathetic woman, and I am anything but that. So this year, albeit late in the season, I’m going to begin my efforts to connect with the special people in my life. The sustenance of kindred spirits during times like this is essential to anyone’s well-being.

In years past, I used to host an event on the eve of winter solstice called, “The Longest Night”, where my friends would gather, bringing a piece of art (writing, music, visual art) to share with the group. The theme was always sharing light in the darkness. Celebrating the darkness where mystery was waiting to be revealed, ideas were ruminating, and reminding everyone that there is beauty even in the mystery of the dark.

So this year, once again, I’m hoping more selfishly than ever that my friends arrive in the darkness, to be received into the warmth of a circle of friends.

 

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Always Say YES!

lovesomeone

During a quick lunch with my Mumster the topic of keeping oneself vibrant while in the midst of feeling stuck became a theme. I like to think that our conversation was inspiring to us both. Just having a quick visit with a kindred spirit, helped my sense of well being.

As some of you may know, my day-to-day life has changed recently. I now find myself in the position of stay-at-home-caregiver. It’s the longest time I’ve ever been away from work, and frankly, it’s like living in a thick fog.

Anxiety has its’ natural place during times of transition and healing. I wish I had someone here to give me a hug, offer me a passionate escape, or a giddy drunken Christmas date night.  But that is not so.  What I have is myself; the stalwart, courageous, positive, kick-you-in-the-ass-just-enough-to-keep-you-going-all-day fabulous woman that I am.

The first thing I reluctantly gave up being here doing what I’m doing, was my sleep pattern. I’m a natural night owl, and later nights are always the first thing to come galloping back into my life  when I’m not on my work-home routine. If  I could force away the anxiety of wondering how I’ll adjust when I do go back to work, late nights aren’t a bad thing.  Mostly because just last night, head on the pillow, I was lulling myself to sleep, silently re-telling the stories of my literally ‘shitty’ day,  and it came to me! Novel number 3! Late nights are a breading ground for creativity, and that’s heady stuff.

Quietly, I got up in the darkness, crept past the orange-pink glow of the salt lamp, and made my way to my notebook, scrounging a pen from the medication log on the nursing cart in the makeshift hospital room that is now the living/dining room.

I curled up under my favourite wool blanket from Ireland, and wrote a basic outline, including main characters, and a handful of their personality quirks. I then pounded back a piece of lemon cake, the crumbs at the bottom of a bag of dill pickle chips, swigged back a hot cup of tea, and then went back to bed. Inspired.

That’s the same way I woke up.

Not only do I have a full novel to edit, I have another one ready to be born, and butter softening on the counter for a batch of sugar cookies which I will decorate in layers over the next two days for the sole purpose of doing something other than letting my brain rot. I have a list of books to read, and have managed to finish 3 of them, and I”m slowly grinding my way through the fourth (  a dense book of essays).  I also have wine. And whiskey. And tea.

These things are enough.

Enough to keep me motivated, creative and vibrant (under the circumstances).

Yes, I miss my yoga classes. I miss taking my time and poking about my favourite shops. I miss even going for a flipping walk! But these are not things I have control over right now. I can control what I manage to do while I’m limited to the house with brief periods of respite and so can you.

advent

As I’ve written many times, the spirit of Advent (waiting with wonder in the darkness) is one that resonates deeply with me. It reassures me of an idea that I believe in; out of the darkness and the muck of life, sprout the most fruitful of ideas and experiences.

If you are feeling stuck, take a few minutes to yourself. Grab a notebook and pen; jot down unfinished projects you’d really like to finish. Maybe it’s a new skill you’d like to learn  or  a book you would love to tuck in to read from start to finish.  Just let yourself relax into some kind of stillness of mind that will accompany you on a journey of wonder and discovery.

Most importantly if you have friends out there who offer a different perspective, a couple hours of respite, a moment of escape, always, always, always say YES!

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Do Unto Yourself

nap hard

Adulting can be hard, and I do believe that our lifestyle is completely unnatural and contradictory to living in a state of wellness. I do believe that’s why we discovered psychedelic drugs, have legalized cannabis and have access to an encyclopedic variety of alcoholic beverages.  A Nobel prize worthy thought? Not likely, but true nonetheless.

“Sweetheart, why don’t you just curl up and go take a nap?”

Isn’t that what we all wish someone would say once in a while? I fantasize about being  tucked  in nicely with a cozy blankie and then waking up to a freshly steeped cup of tea. Maybe a light back scratch for good measure.

I mean, wouldn’t it be nice if you went to work and your boss said, ” You know, you work hard here, looks like you could use a nice rest. Go take a break in that quiet room there, and I’ll wake you up when it’s time to clock out.”

Or perhaps it’s a coach you might like to take some pity on you during your in-season practice. “Hey ____________ (insert last name here), go get yourself one of those blankets I brought in and show me how hard you can nap.”

But no one does that do they?

for them

Nope. Not unless you’re fortunate enough to go back home to your mom or grandmother and be spoiled for a day or two.  Most of us of a certain age no longer have that luxury. We are the moms and grandmas.

Note to self: buy more wine.

My advice to you is to tuck yourself in; take a nap, take a day off, re-jig your life so that you have regular and consistent opportunities to escape and focus on yourself for an hour or two. Whether it’s seeking comfort in a spiritual community, practicing yoga, going to the gym, or escaping to a coffee shop to read the newspaper on Saturday morning. Choose your nap-from-the-grind style and commit to it.

You are your own boss, coach and primo nurturer – act like it.

Do unto others as you would have them do unto you.

The golden rule applies to yourself as well…do unto yourself as you wish others would do unto you. Now go rest!

 

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Are You There God? It’s Me. Where’s Margaret?

itsmemargaretFinding your father’s copy of Playboy. Playing two-minutes-in-the-closet. Wearing a bra for the first time. Buying your first maxi-pads.

Those were all of the things that made 11 year old Margaret Simon’s  character so relatabel in Judy Blume’s  ‘Are You There God? It’s Me Margaret’.

I can’t remember who lent me the book, but I do remember hiding it from my parents and older sister.  Although the book was a decade behind (those girls had to wear belts with their pads),  it was as a staple in my generation’s pre-teen reading diet.  It was our porn.

Wanting to know about my changing body and emotions wasn’t easy. I was shy, a bookworm and a tomboy who was raised in a body-shaming-Baptist family.  Ballsy Margaret who crushed on Phillip and bought her own pads  from a boy cashier, was my hero.

How things have changed.

After having spent my adult years fully loaded up on contraception, today was the day that I would have my Mirena removed. This morning I stood in the drugstore looking at a wall of pads, tampons, and Diva Cups wondering just what the hell I was going to need. I would have loved to have had Margaret’s advice.

croneI no longer need birth control. What I need is to return to my feminine body. To experience the shift from motherhood to new-cronehood with some modicum of respect for the awesome female form that I inhabit.

I am from a generation of women who have been convinced that our natural cycles should be stunted. We are being convinced that unless we want to get pregnant, we need to saddle up on hormones and keep a constant, obedient level of functioning that does not include paying attention to the natural rhythm of our bodies to stop, rest, rage, weep and rejoice. We have been twisted into she-men.

If I could do it all over again, I would do it like a woman, and not try to be the she-man that our you-can-have-it-all-girl-boss-culture would like me to buy into. I would get pregnant again and rejoice in my body. I would revel in my sexuality. I would do so many things differently with regard to my divine feminine.

Much like young Margaret’s character, I’m wondering about what will happen next. Except I’m in my mid-forties.

I’m noticing changes in my body; less firm, more round, a greater comfort with my own self when I look in the mirror after I slip out of my clothes and into the hot bathwater.

I wonder what happened to ballsy, Margaret when she hit forty? I’d sure like to hear from her now.

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You Are a Goddess Born for the Act of Creation

danu
DANU  – This multi-faceted aspect of the Divine Feminine is experienced as the air we breathe, as the river that nourishes all of life, as the bounty and abundance of earth and as the cosmic energy of universal wisdom.
A Triple Goddess, which means she is able to take the form of the Maiden, the Mother or the Crone, and a Divine Lady who is the essence of the earth, the air and the essence of water, Danu is able to embody the form/energy suited the situation.  Here she brings the power of versatility and teaches us to honor and respect diversity within ourselves and within others and reminds us to honor each stage of our physical life.

Collage therapy, Goddess meditation, writing prompts, textile arts, embroidery, pottery…

All of it. I want to get my hands mucky and dirty and calloused and spend my time doing aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaalllllllllll of it.

Or at least pulling myself out of a career of death and dying. Not completely of course. I mean, I’m in my forties for goodness-sake! I’d be foolish to leave the stability of a pension and good benefits (not to mention an awesome team of colleagues). this I know to be true, and we (you know who you are ladies) need something else.  Something  that we can find joy in which allows us to sip from the spiritual fountain of youth, or make a few extra bucks to fund what we would all like to become our annual Central-American-Beach-Rehab. Ok, that’s my dream, but I’m sure you have your own.

Being creative is generally frowned upon in our culture. Go out of the house with wild hair? Wear something unique? Sing your way through the work day? Yah, not so cool, and possibly a good way to have yourself committed.

I think most women at my stage go through this. Whether you live in a hovel or a palace, life becomes routine. There is comfort in routine, but there is also stagnation. We become sexless, and our femininity is starved. Being spiritually and emotionally vibrant goes a long way toward health.

My daily challenge is to let-it-go.

Letting go of all of the time-gobblers that suck the life out of me.

The time we’re  not at work too often becomes perfecting the comforting space of domesticity. Food prep, folding  laundry,  tidying up; It’s become the hole in my spiritual bucket.  Yours may be binge-watching, trashy novels or napping.

Let me be clear. Our need  to create is not a whimsy, or modern construct. There is evidence of creativity dating as far back as our human history.  It is part of our essence.

My need to create is always there though, simmering under the surface, sometimes boiling over and making the kind of mess that anything repressed tends to do. Goodness knows I don’t need any more messes to tidy up.

I will continue my daily struggle to find balance between being a responsible adult and a wild-at-heart free-spirit, why don’t you join me?

Let yourself transform into the creative goddess that you are; let your hair grow, buy the funky jacket, relax into comfortable flip flops, and damn it, spend time in the comfortable, wild space of creativity.

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New Year – New You; When Did You Stop Dancing?

mirror heartThree days ago I danced naked in front of my bathroom mirror.

I watched as every ounce of my forty-three year old body jiggled and bounced. It wasn’t pretty by anyone’s standards, but it was joyful.

Until it wasn’t. As I took in my reflection, I wondered at how different my appearance is to the way I feel on the inside. What happened to my firm body? The one I used to work so hard, make love with, gave birth with, and adorned to glorify it?

It got caught up in all of the should’s, my anxiety, eating away at my piece of mind, padded my tushy, and provided a thicker layer of protection against a demanding world.

But three days ago I used it to dance.

And being the turn of the new year, I couldn’t help but want to love it a bit more. All of it. You know, let my bones rest from carrying so much should-shaming, and shake off the madness by dancing from the inside-out.

Yes, I do need to lose weight and get in shape. I really believe that it comes from the inside though. I never make resolutions, but this year will be an exception. 2017 saw an overhaul of my emotional landscape, and damn it, I’m going to celebrate!

This year I will dance; in the moment, not wishing to be anywhere but where I am. I will do my best to be joyful, and present, letting the discomfort of my patterns make me uncomfortable enough to explore outside of my comfort zone.

One of my gal-pal’s posted her word, “GLOW”, as her word for 2018, I had to nod my head in agreement.

If I have to narrow down one word for this new year, may I suggest, “DANCE”. Not the kind of dancing that will make you an overnight YouTube star, but the kind of dancing that starts in your soul and shines in everything that you do.

2018, I will delight in dancing within the moments you gift me by loving the body that carries me through it all.

Wishing you everything you need to dance.

when did you stop dancing