Maternal In Memorium & Mother’s Day Manifesto

IshtarToday marks the second anniversary of my mother’s death.

Ours was an unusually complex relationship, with  complete estrangement over twenty years ago. Despite the common cry of making amends by well-meaning acquaintances who do not know the depth of the family’s dysfuncionality, I have no regrets when it comes to this relationship, or lack thereof.

My mother was a victim of her times and of abuse. She was the poster child of body loathing and repression.  I grew up surrounded by women’s magazines, and I confess, I still regularly take Woman’s World for their feel-good stories and their little strips of inspiration. It reminds me of a simple time when my paternal grandmother would clip the posts and pin them to the fridge, or tear out the Ziggy comics and pin them to her inspirational bulletin board in the sewing room.

My paternal grandmother was in touch with her power as a woman. She was wise, fierce, kind and strong. She lived fully and taught me what it meant to be my own person.

ziggy Times have not changed so much, and maybe even for the worse. Not only are we expected to manage our homes, but bear the burden of less feminine roles as well.  We are still surrounded by racks full of magazines, air-brushed images of the female form, with covers that imply we are flawed; how to be thinner, how to be happier, how to please our men, how to de-stress so we can be all of the above. We are ingrained in a culture who continues to devalue the natural life-affirming work of women.

You may wonder what this has to do with the anniversary of my mother’s death. Everything.

I was raised by a woman who was  estranged from her own beautiful, glorious and powerful self. I had a choice as a young woman, continue the trauma, or claim my own glorious divine feminine. I chose the latter.

So many of us hate our ankles, our bellies, our hair or our skin.  We punish our bodies and ridicule our own needs. We ignore the call of primitive intuition, and we diminish the great power of fertility and motherhood.

We live in the world of magazine promises; to create a common, submissive self that perpetuates a world where our value and spiritual gifts are damned.

As the years passed and I healed into my own femininity, into my own woman, forgiveness came. My mother was not a bad mother as such, she was  truly a victim of her times, of her inability to seize her own power, and grow into her own, always determining her own worth by the praise of abusive men.

On this Mother’s Day weekend, I hope that all of the women in my life,  spend some quiet time, reflecting on their own beauty and how their body has served them well, their own natural, intuitive intelligence, and their own power to embrace the fullness of what it means to be a woman.

More than that, I hope that whether maiden, mother or crone,  that all of the ladies reading this live each stage of life and every transition fully.  I believe that is the secret to a well-lived life. That is the secret to having no regrets.

I Need Your Help: Podcasts & My Fat Ass

rsbushesBefore I go on a rant, let me point out that the purpose of this post is to get your feedback…

This morning, on my day off, my precious day off, I woke up early to annoy my kiddo before he set out for school and maybe, just maybe get in a nice walk and some writing.

So, it’s raining, and some big goof ball in a blue shirt just walked all over my daffodil greens while using his  leaf blower. Not only do I subscribe to the theory that the use of the leaf blower is evidence regarding the downfall of civilization (I’m sure Donald Trump has one to shoe away the leftover talcum powder that he spritzes his undies with apres shower).  I also subscribe to the theory that some giant lanscaping a-hole should know enough to not be blaring that ridiculous contraption prior to 9am outside of bedroom windows.

Anyway, with the drizzle and the bad atmosphere at my little writing window, I decided to make my way to the treadmill next door and walk a bit while my laundry was laundering.

Why? Well, because I’ve been unwell and rather inactive lately. Walking is easy exercise, and frankly, I need it.  I’ve done classes, punished my body with hard workouts and long runs, but I just can’t seem to work up the chutzpah to spank myself into fitness submission lately.

I’m more in the mode of loving the goddess. Which means my taste in music has changed. In fact, I want to listen to stories. As a writer, I do believe that we are nothing but the stories we tell ourselves, and that sharing our stories is the spiritual equivalent of excellent nutrition.

Which brings me to my latest fascination; Missing Richard Simmons. It’s a Podcast about the theories surrounding the disappearance of Richard Simmons.

Not only am I fascinated with this story, I’m a big fan of Mr. Simmons. Despite a terrible relationship with my late mother, I fondly remember her telling me to get off my fat, ugly, ass and sweat to the oldies with her. Ah, yes, Richard Simmons.

I’ve listened to TEDtalks and CBC writing podcasts, but there’s something about this one that has me hooked. Maybe it’s the anticipation of an answer about why such a charismatic man decided to duck out.

But I’m almost finished with the series, and I want more really great stories; nothing sinister or dark, just a really, good story and a sincere desire by the storyteller to enhance our lives. With this, I feel like I could walk forever. Fitness could be my bitch.

Please share your podcast suggestions to keep my butt and my heart in shape. Also accepting DVD copies of Sweatin’ To the Oldies. Not kidding.

PS – To GK – give up your argument about massive amounts of leaves, give up the wasted fuel and instead give the neighbour kid thirty bucks and a rake.

 

 

 

Us vs. Them: A Dangerous Game During Dangerous Times

single-issues-struggleIt was super important to me to  able to take part in the Women’s March on Washington, here in my own country.

I have been sick like a dog for over a week, but felt the need to show up and be present.

As we gathered at Queen’s Park in Toronto, I initially felt a little disappointed with the crowd, but estimates are that approximately 60,000 people attended. How they come up with these numbers, I will never know.

Standing on the muddy ground of our provincial legislature, I was humbled. How could I express my gratitude to be able to gather like this on public lands to advocate for human rights, when so many times in (relatively) recent history, people have been tortured, killed and imprisoned for doing the same thing?

I was also a bit cynical . I’d never seen so many pairs of pricey Blundstones and Doc Martin’s in one place in my life, and from where I stood, the crowd looked pretty darn, middle-class-privileged-and-very-white. Let’s face it, the folks working for minimum wage were working their minimum wage jobs while I was out there in my down-filled coat and Canadian made hat, looking forward to a warm pub and a hearty beer after all was said and done.

But that’s the point really. If people with some affluence and power do not advocate, the marginalized may never have a voice big enough to be heard.

singleissueslives

 

This all lingers under the shadow of the recent inauguration of a man who espouses so many vile qualities and completely lacks empathy. As a bit of an economic conservative and extremely social liberal, I fear the future. Even though I favour the left, this election wasn’t about Conservative vs. Liberal or Republican vs. Democrat. It was about how deeply disturbing it is that a man who is so cruel could be looked to as a leader by so many.

Kindness, above all else, matters. I’m not talking about  naivete or handouts.What I’m talking about is ensuring the basic needs of everyone are met; meaningful work that affords food on the table and a safe place to live. I know what it’s like to worry about both, and that kind of worry isn’t healthy.

What I’m trying to get at is that yesterday during the Womens’ March, I was very aware of how quickly my rights can be taken away. How easily it becomes an us against them game; I’m more of a victim than you because of my gender, my skin colour, my profession….in other words, how easy it is to fracture our basic bond as human beings, and how easily our political world can turn to horror.

We need to let the different freedoms we’re fighting for bring us together rather than divide us.

It was empowering to see so many of us care enough to get out of our comfort zones to gather together this weekend. I just hope that we can keep the momentum going instead of letting our privileged, North American apathy carry us back to relive a very dark time in our recent history. More than ever we need action. More than ever we need to be present.

 

 

The Once Every Six Week Crap-Out

a-crying-ladyMy Mumster suggested to me that I just flow through what she calls, “The Once Every Six Week Crap Out”. Being a ‘crap-out’, it’d kinda tough. Being in the middle of the bleak mid-winter makes it even tougher.

Tears have been a companion off and on for a few days, and I’m sure, given the shit way the morning started out, they will be again today. But that’s ok. I have tissue.

Focus is something I grasp at during these days of sacrifice. I say sacrifice as I believe that after a holiday filled with indulgence and excess, our bottoms and our bottom lines need some reigning in.

My tendency is to withdraw into myself and hibernate a bit, keeping my energy for planning wonderful things like Winterlicious dinners, allowing the characters I’m writing about to come out and play, and choosing something to accomplish.

To my gal pal who spent her birthday alone yesterday, I want to let you know you were in my heart. Been there, done that, and trust me, you’ll be better for it next year.

To my other gal pal who is working very hard at her profession, feeling guilty about money and family time, I am so very  proud of you.

To a few of my pals, don’t feel alone  in your intimate relationship. I’m with ya, and coffee and a good talk with a friend go a long, long, way. Call me.

To my Mumster who normalized the every-six-week-crap-out, thank you ever so much. It helps me in my practice to never forget the temporary nature of all things. It helps me just let go of all of the insignificant crap that interferes with the incredible woman I’ve worked so hard to become.

To my dear friends, I hope that your once-every-six-wee-crap-out is a catharsis of sorts, leaving you feeling purged of your demons and ready to step back onto the road of fabulousness.

 

 

 

Blowing Out the Candles

candlesOn the eve of my 4o-plus-somethingish birthday, I cannot help but reflect upon the lessons I have learned this year. In theory I’m an expert.  In practice, however, that’s another story.

I do believe that the difference between theory and practice is the key to successful living though darlings, because bridging that gap is the difference between annoying should-sayers, and the people who shine brightly and inspire the rest of us.

Grace has been a concept I’ve wanted to put into practice  throughout the past few years. There are  times I have failed miserably; my birthday breakdown at a bar while trying to sort out my mother issues; my insecurity as a partner, my ability to maintain a positive attitude in light of the every day demands of living. Yah, I’ve failed a few times.

But I have learned a few things from all of that bluster, and I’m old enough to take the liberty of sharing them with you;

  1. I have spent way too much time on my hair.
  2. We allow ourselves to be led by a false economy and fabricated news. Does it feel right? Do it. Does it feel wrong? Don’t. The world would be a better place if we all followed the golden rule.
  3.  If you love your body, it will love back. At a certain point you realize your body feels better when you eat this and not that; when you do this and not that.  It loves water and apples and decadent butter cream chocolate from your favourite Chocolaterie. It does not like to listen to people incessantly rambling about fad diets or extreme routines. Love your body, let it gently communicate to you, and it will love you back.
  4. Kindred spirits aren’t terribly hard to find, but it’s terribly hard to be vulnerable enough to get to know one.
  5. Create things. Anything. Creativity is your human spirit making itself present in the world. Let it sing, paint, write, carve, stitch, bake….whatever! Let your mind wander and your spirit reveal itself.
  6. Do not let bitchy people ruin your day. Attitude is contagious – be sure to protect yourself.
  7. Nobody’s watching. Seriously. Just relax.
  8. Change is scary, but constant. If you can be excited through the fear, you have life licked.
  9. You need friends of all ages; older ones and younger ones, and people who transcend age. You need nurturing and affection and the awesome healing power of human touch.
  10. Flannel jammies, hot tea and a good hobby to keep you occupied are three simple things that are highly under-rated.
  11. Always, always, always buy the shoes.

Midnight Visits from the Ghost of Granny; Living with Intention & Gratitude

There were many nights that I used to get up in the middle of the night and see my Grandmother at the kitchen table.

I thought of her last night, when the rest of the world was in slumber. I know that  she had her own heartache and troubles, but she inspired me with her courage and zest for life.

Inspired by the woman who most inspired me, I have decided to go about my day with intention. Beyond the BIG things; my son and my home, there are little things that I am grateful for every day. So I give to you a list of things that make me happy/am grateful for, and I hope that it may inspire you.

  1. A good pair of tweezers. Oh yah baby. Women of a certain age can appreciate this as much as a man appreciates that little do-hickey end of a hair trimmer that removes ear hair. Sometimes it’s just the little things.

tweezers

2. The friends who love me. Like really love me, and manage to keep the flame of silliness burning alive and well within me. You know who you are; The Lovely L., The Amazing C., The Rolicking R., The Daring D.,  the Mumster and the Fearlessly Creative C.

Sennett-Bathing-Beauties-1915_thumb

3. Creativity and the friends who value creativity as highly as I do…

drum beating

4. The legacy of a kick-ass granny, who knew how to balance compassion and strength, especially on the days when you felt like giving up. Her fearlessness and curiosity always give me a kick in the bum.

grandmothers

5. Sports. For instance, this year, the Toronto Blue Jays are playing in the semi-finals. Sports give us something common to be emotionally invested in, talk about and bond over that isn’t too personal. Sports give us easy, enthusiastic conversation without the monotony of the curse of middle-age; talking about work, our failed marriages or how we still don’t have a clue what’s going on. Sports are highly under-rated.

octoberbaseball

6. Witnessing the evolving relationship of couples who love each other. They know the value of what it means to love when it’s easy, and when it needs to be fiercely fought for. Depth never came easy. Kuddos to my pals, the Kick-Ass Ms. K and the Debonair Mr. D. I admire your commitment to one another…

karen-and-dennis

7. Junk Food. Oh yah. The ultimate narcotic.

caramel-corn

8. My cleaning lady. Yes, my granny would swat me behind the ear for not cleaning my own house, but some things change.

cleaning-lady

9. Feeling motivated to get back to the gym. Anyone who is a little on the pudgy side knows the anxiety of being seen wearing spandex in public.

gym

 

10. Bread, blue cheese and red wine. Accompanied by thoughtful, fun and intelligent conversation makes it even more delicious…

glass-red-wine-blue-cheese-15246901

 

 

The Stillness of August

storm cloudsThere is something to be said for stillness.The way that the long, close days of August build up in the atmosphere, slowly unwrapping the ribbons on a parcel of thundering rain.

The trees look up, waiting on behalf of the parched land below. The sky, in slow-motion turmoil does not look down. It only simmers and rolls until finally it splits open. The trees and tired earth receiving their blessing in torrents, gusts and rivers, flooding the cracked earth.