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Christmas Is:One Part of a Busy Life

Champagne TowerMy fiance was not prepared for this. After putting a two-and-a-half carat ring on my finger and whisking me away on a romantic vacation, he had the strange idea that I’d just keep staring at the ring, and not dotting the I’s and crossing the T’s of venue and vendor contracts.

It’s just my nature.

We’ve both been drinking more.  In fact, I’m currently out of red wine and praying that when he rolls in from the gym that he has a ginormous brown bag under his arm disguising a big, juicy bottle or two from California. Preferably a gulpable blend of cab, shiraz, and maybe a splash of merlot. I’m not fussy, but I am a lush.

My eyes are strained from computer use. Pinterest and custom stationary sites have me stuck to my laptop.  My sweetie is looking for his cheque book to avoid ridiculous credit card fees. My son’s girlfriend who is a touch more au courant than this old gal has been indispensable when it comes to sourcing make-up artists, photographers and dresses. She’s humouring me, and winning a crazy amount of mom-points.

I’m not sure she was counting on an almost-in-law who had a penchant for sequins, pearls and ostrich feathers though.  I’m sure she cringes at the dresses I send to her, hoping she might wiggle into one and hop on the bandwagon of glitter and shimmy.

On top of wanting to have all the big items booked for the big day, I have two major holidays coming up before Christmas, and a major surgery to get through. All of this in less than two months.

He’ll be on wine duty, so long as I take care of all of the other details. And that makes the relationship work.

I spent the entire day fussing over wedding details while baking Christmas treats to take to our Christmas at the Cottage family getaway.  And then my sweetie texted requesting our Christmas in New York Extravaganza itinerary.

I’m a planner by nature. As a funeral director, I’m basically an event planner on a turbo-charged schedule who can pass top level anatomical dissection, pathology, microbiology, and chemistry while wearing two-inch heals, an ugly uniform and an empathetic smile.

rolfs

As the full time vacation planner in the relationship, I have our itineraries researched and down to the nearest metro stop, secluded cenote, and best time not to be in a line-up for too long. I lassoed reservations in September for hard to get into NYC restaurants during the Christmas season, tickets to the Fort Worth Rodeo between football games, and a first day in France schedule that brought my sweetie up from our first metro stop to the best view in the city.  I plan shit. That’s what I do.

Weddings on the other hand aren’t something I’m too familiar with.  I’ve never been a wedding person. I’ve alway been a party-girl though, so I’m taking that approach.  And fabulous parties take planning.

From the language on the invitation to the details of decor, every element of a great party has to be dazzling. It has to be dedicated to a theme, delicious, boozy, artistically lit, most of all, welcoming for everyone. If all else fails, we’re starting with champagne reception and having an open bar…how bad can it be?

In the mean time, there are gifts to wrap, passports to find, bags to pack, unpack, and pack again, treats to bake, and weight to lose. Seriously.

If, like me, you have a lot on your plate this year during the holidays, I wish you some quiet moments to appreciate everything that’s good in your life.

 

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Stop: When Your Body Calls Bullshit

strongmanEvery  morning when I wake up I say a little prayer.

First I say thank you for waking up to another day. Second of all, I ask that I be given the grace and strength to get through the day and do good work.

I pull my body from my soft, warm bed, and wonder at the rhythm of my crazy life, and how much my mind and body have endured.

Years ago I received the best piece of health care advice I think I’ll ever receive in my life, ” Our body’s natural state is one of health.”

I decided then and there that this was one sure truth in life, and that I would never forget it.

But stress is a curious beast isn’t it? Sometimes serpent like, it can twist and turn and wind itself along every peaceful neural pathway of your body and seize up the works.  Your body recognizes bullshit, and when it has enough of you trying to be Superwoman, it will let you know. It will succumb to the constricting nature of stress in order to get your attention.

Quite often my stress level reaches the emergency state without me ever even noticing. My life has been a series of struggles to get by, and enjoying everything that I can on the way. It’s a fine balance really, this being independent, but it seems to have been worth it.

Every once in a while I realize that my life is out of balance. I’m stretched too thin in every way, trying to be everything to everybody, somehow losing myself in the mix. The things that I do to relax, and that energize me fall by the wayside; writing, running, stitching, coffee and girl-talking.

Usually by the time I admit that I’m feeling fatigued, my body is one-step ahead, fully in the gnarled grip of stress. And when that happens darlings, I simply don’t half-ass it. Nope. My body completely raises the white flag of surrender and stops me in my tracks. It basically calls bullshit on my nonsense priorities.

When our ego pushes us too far, our bodies are a great barometer for forecasting our limits. Our bodies refuse us in order to maintain that natural state of health.

I had a wake-up call this week, and now I need to pay attention. Once again I will straddle the great teeter-tauter of adult life, and try to balance my physical, spiritual, creative and emotional needs again. All of this while trying to keep a single income household going. Yes, life can be circus like around here. It’s nothing if not entertaining.

No one ever said that life was easy, but I’m telling you right now, when you can slow down to appreciate all that you have, each day is a little celebration of joy.

If you share in my  struggle to find a bit of balance, I’ll let you in on a secret. Each week I try to make time for the elements of my life that bring me joy and replenish my energy;  spiritual practice, creative pursuits, physical exercise, social interaction with people who do not zap my energy, and rest.

Set these things in your calendar. Make time. Breathe. Get lost in the things that bring you energy and joy. I promise, just like your body, life will balance itself out, and it will be good.

 

 

 

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The Hardest People to Care For

"Courage doesn't always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying, 'I will try again tomorrow'" ~Mary Anne Radmacher~
“Courage doesn’t always roar. Sometimes courage is that quiet voice at the end of the day saying, ‘I will try again tomorrow'”
~Mary Anne Radmacher~

Are you one of them? A professional caregiver; nurse, police officer, paramedic counselor, doctor, mortician, social worker., firefighter, soldier..???

If you fall anywhere in that professional-soup, you are likely one of the most difficult individuals to care for .

After a trying week and anxiety that has registered off the scale and into the stratosphere, I think I may finally be coming back to the land of the living.

I’ve had a couple of friends offer me the equivalent of a pat on the back and kick in the ass. Not really what I needed when dealing with trauma of the ugliest kind, and top of my own personal issues.

What I did not need was a ‘Lol’, or a, “Yah, but you’ve felt like that before”, or a, “You always land on your feet.”

What I needed turned out to be a  blessing that came out of the blue; another human being who knows what it’s like to see the things that I see, and yet maintain a professional demeanor and carry on with life when what you really want to do is vomit, curl up in a ball, and have someone rock you like a baby.

Caregivers and those of us who deal with human mortality on a daily basis are the hardest people to care for.  We can recognize patronizing bullshit a mile away, and smell apathy like a hound smells a panicked raccoon. We recognize personal authenticity and we know when someone could care less. We’re also too worn out to call you on your bullshit most of the time, so you’re safe.

We are the most difficult people to care for, because we know all the theory, and suck at self-care practice. We also are the most loyal friends. It was my best pal of over 25 years who listened, and said just the right things. She didn’t try to make it better or lessen the trauma. It was another pal who recognized my despair in a well-timed-once-a-year-email response who surprised me the most. Although we haven’t seen one another in over a decade, he too knows what it’s like to be woken by nightmares and have your day interrupted by unwelcome thoughts and images.

You already know to avoid your half-assed friends and lovers, but if you need reminding, just try reaching out to those folks when you really need support. They will teach you all you need to know about who is important and who is not.

If you are one of us, ‘the hardest people to care for’, I urge you to seek the support you need. It may be reaping the benefits of a decent EAP program or even as simple as a coffee with your truly good friends and the  colleagues who share the same joy and pain of working with the underbelly of what it means to be human.

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3 Fingers of Bourbon & a Good Lay

bourbon3You can count on the bourbon and a good lay to help you relax. Always. At least, that’s my go-to therapy. When I’m in a pinch, I just settle for the bourbon. It’s a lot less hassle, and I don’t have to wash the sheets.

These are things I can count on, like the sun rising in the east and setting in the west.

Choose your own poison; wine, men, caffeine, women, your personal brand of kink, a smoke.  As long as you’re not abusing them, these things are black and white things in life. The sure things. The things you can count on no matter what. The things that help our wee little homosapien brains cope with the deluge of the unknown.

Floundering in the grey area requires finesse, grace, and a that je ne sais quoi equivalent of giving the world the finger as you step blindly into the abyss.

Most days I function quite well. I dress the part, look the part, I even walk and talk the part. I high-step through the grey as if I’m the Duchess of Grey, the Matron of Mystery and the High Priestess of the Unknown.

Other days call for ibuprofen, curse words, and a non-stick ego. Having enough of those days consecutively calls for the summoning of one of your go-to-evils. Mine happen to be bourbon and boys. Adult boys.

Now, having said that, I want neither my booze or my boys to control me. I do not want them to bring me to my knees, make me cry,  or question my self-worth. My booze and boys shall not cause any drama in my life. They shall not bring ugly company into the relationship like cigarettes or crazy ex’s.

You know what I mean; if I’ve had too much bourbon, I might, maybe, I could possibly give in to a craving for  a cigarette. At that moment it becomes clear the bourbon is not good for me. At that point I must walk away, even if there’s a smidge of liquid gold in my tumbler. In the same way, if a boy brings complications to my life, like say crazy ex’s or passive-aggressive badgering, I must also walk away.

Within every situation  is a tipping point. Unfortunately we must often be pushed over the edge in order to recognize the edge of that tipping point. Unfortunately when the path over the edge becomes habitual,  taking another route is uncomfortable until you get used to it. Since (I’m assuming),  you’re all adults reading this, you will agree that as adults, new routines, relationships and lifestyles are always uncomfortable.  We’re damn good at avoiding being uncomfortable, even if it means sacrificing a lifetime of joy.

So, after a week or two of topsy-turvy man-issues, a grueling professional schedule, and all the joys of single parenthood, I turn to a candle-lit bathtub filled with hot water, and a tumbler of bourbon.

 

 

 

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No Mud No Lotus

lotusmudNo kidding.

We know that already don’t we? We’ve all heard the sayings;

It’s always darkest before the dawn

No pain, no gain.

You can’t have a rainbow without the rain.

It’s in when I’m in the middle of chaos that I know my mind and emotions rock back and forth as violently as a ship on a stormy sea.

It is when I’m in the middle of chaos that I forget all of my training as a meditating wonder. Instead,  I laugh, cry, rage and cower randomly, and often.

It’s when I’m in the middle of chaos that I forget my breath.

I forget that deep knowing in my soul that the world is as it should be, and the best thing to do is to surrender and do my best in the present moment.

Instead, I regret the past, I fear the future, hope, despair and basically, drive myself crazy.

I guzzle my tea, swallow my food, and forget what I’m actually doing while my mind is travelling through the time-space continuum.

Little phrases like, ‘No Mud No Lotus’, coined by Thich Nhat Hanh (Thay) can seem kitschy and meaningless when you see them plastered on a car bumper, or posted on a Facebook page.

For practicing Buddhists they can be a bell calling them back to their breath, to the present moment.

These concise little phrases  can be the reminder that you haven’t really ‘practicing‘ anything, and you need to get back to the cushion.

No Mud No Lotus. 

Tomorrow before I hit the shower, I will remember to great the morning;

wakingupthismorning

 

After I repeat that my butt will hit  the cushion.

This weekend before I head out to work on Saturday night, I will register for my annual meditation retreat.

Tonight, before bedtime, I will breath. I will smile.

I will have to dig deep, past all of the, ‘screw this’s, and screw you’s’, and I will remember just how much I have to be grateful for.

No Mud No Lotus; Thanks for the reminder.

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Ode on a White Wine Spritzer

Ode on a White Wine Spritzer

" I prefer tongue-tied knowledge than ignorant loquacity." ~ Marcus Tullius Cicero~
” I prefer tongue-tied knowledge than ignorant loquacity.”
~ Marcus Tullius Cicero~

Oh succulent mixture!

Thou light-golden elixir of joy,

no questions or needs

simply an offering of intoxicating abundance.

Oh delightful beverage of low alcohol content

you offer me not one but two helpings of meditative nourishment!

By night I bask in the sunset of your succulent afterglow

By day I am lost;

the memory of your sweet taste on my lips,

how you warm my body and soul  from the inside, out.

Le sigh White Wine Spritzer,

Le sigh….

I shall remain forever bewitched;

forever devoted to you and your subtle charms.