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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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The Holiday Hustle

santahustleSometimes you just gotta dance. I mean get out there, take off your wrap, your jacket, your inhibitions, and just shake what mamma gave you!

I’m not talking about the stiff, elbows up, I-give-you-a-seven-out-of-ten style of dance. No, I’m talking about freestyle baby. The kind that you do when no one’s home and you’re dusting the Dalton’s.

There are any number of holiday parties to attend, and a zillion reasons to be quiet, go home early, or feel inadequate. Trust me darlings, we’ve all felt that way, and when we feel that way, we wither like a two day old lily out of water. It’s the antithesis of fresh and glowing. Wilted and sad are never in style darlings. Never.

Not that hibernating and living in your jammies with leg stubble and four-day unwashed hair doesn’t have it’s place in spiritual growth, but come on! A bit of frivolous silliness is just what the doctor ordered to combat our winter blahs.

So, last night, I did just that with my mumster. We met a few new people, took some silly photos, and danced until we had to mop ourselves off the floor and go home. Fun, friendship, shaking off the burden of should-be’s; that’s what a party is about, not sitting primly at a table and counting the seconds until you can make your escape.

During my forty or so trips around the sun, I’ve learned that without a doubt, time passes whether you’re enjoying yourself or not. It’s your choice; suffer through the holidays, or do the hustle!

 

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The Freedom of Commitment

"Commitment is that turning point in your life when you seize the moment and turn it into an opportunity to alter your destiny." ~Denis Waitley~
“Commitment is that turning point in your life when you seize the moment and turn it into an opportunity to alter your destiny.”
~Denis Waitley~

I wish that I could say that this post was inspired by a deeply intellectual article  that I read.   I also wish I had that damn article, so I could quote it accurately.

But I don’t.  You are stuck with my inadequate muttering. As much as this post was inspired by the article on commitment, it was very much inspired by my carrousel-like love-life.

The article was about turning the idea of ‘commitment’ on its head.

In other words, instead of associating commitment with discipline, patience and exertion, it argued that commitment was the most freeing thing in the world. After all, once you’ve committed to something, you’re committed. There is no more weighing benefits and drawbacks. You don’t have to double-check your black book or worry that lover #1 is calling whilst you are endeavoring to be romantic with lovers #2, 3 or 4.  Once you’re committed, you’re committed.

This was an incredible idea for me, the goddess-of-all-things-commitmentphobe. I can’t even say the ‘C’ word without stuttering and choking a little bit.

This idea was as illuminating as my friend Ms. M’s ever-ready question about men behaving below standard, ” If this is what it’s like in the beginning, what will it look like at the end?”

Wise Ms.  M. Very wise indeed.

Just as wise is my own firm belief that should a man wish to be in your life, he is. It’s as simple as that. It’s easier to shake a hungry dog off a pork chop than an interested man from your life.

Men who want to be with you make extraordinary efforts to be with you. They don’t put it off for a week, or a couple of weeks, or even a day. If they’re hot for you my delicious gal-pals, they will be present. They will be proper and they will be thorough.

There shall be ‘good mornings’, ‘good afternoons’ and ‘sweet dreams’, communications daily.

My looming business trip should be punctuated at both ends by romantic gestures, even if it’s just sending a text to let me know he’s going to miss me and then dropping by as soon as I get home. Enthusiasm gets rewarded with enthusiasm gents.

Or not.

You see, another piece of wise advice that has filtered through the poo-poo this year is, ” You don’t get married on the first date.”

In other words, you don’t have to make a commitment to everything all at once. You can commit in little bits over time.

I believe trust works the same way. Trust is not absolute, it’s elastic. There are levels of trust, and someone proves their trustworthiness over time.

But I’m a woman known for her fire, her passion, her decisiveness in business and life.  I recognize that my greatest strength is also my greatest weakness.

I visualize this just as one would visualize  jumping into a pool.  I leap with the great expectation that I will dive deep, push up from the bottom and burst through the surface to take a delightfully deep breath of fresh air.

Sometimes however, I skitter across the pool deck, stub my toe, spill my drink, and bonk my head on the way down, only to be saved by my incredibly buoyant lady-parts.

So, as you may have guessed, I’m currently in a state of  relationship ‘yo’ (“when your heart says yes and your mind says no, is the magical state of yo” – thank the Smothers Brothers for that one).

Admittedly, I’m a romantic, flighty, soul-mate wanting, twenty-first centuray hippie woman. I have also been betrayed and heartbroken in ways that would unstuff the average bear.  Perhaps some time away is just what the to-commit-or-not-to-commit doctor ordered.

So, I will consider all of the advice I’ve been given, dished, and sought. Commitment is indeed the greatest freedom. Right now, I just don’t know which way it’s going to go.

 

 

 

 

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Popping the Question Again: Marriage At Middle-Age

I don't think I ever actually took a photo of ...
I don’t think I ever actually took a photo of them together since getting married last fall. Here they are. It’s a matched set from Diana Classic in platinum. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Where to start with this minefield of possible opinions? Likely a bourbon on the rocks and a direct prayer to the universe.

My first thought, when I look deeply into my sensitive feminine intuition is, “Why bother?”.

My obvious second thought darlings, is, “Why not?”.

A recent article in the Style section of the Globe gave a no-brainer instruction sequence to the young lad preparing to wow his girl with a surprise proposal.

I cant’ criticize the article, however, being a woman of a certain age, I got a  kick out of it. First of all, most marriages at middle-age are either a second marriage (or third, or….). Secondly a surprise proposal at middle-age, as romantic as it may seem, really wouldn’t be that surprising.

I mean, come on my cute little rhubarb custard pies, at this stage of the game no one jumps into a life-long commitment without doing their research and talking it into the ground. Nobody with an ounce of common sense anyway.  By middle age, we’ve all taken stock of our resources, have kids, or parents with failing health, and quite frankly, enough attitude to take a round out of a biker bar.

The article went on to discuss permission from parents. Not necessary at middle age. Permission from young adult children – absolutely not, but perhaps a courtesy call, as in , “Heads up dude.”

The Globe article discussed the importance of dressing appropriately. Quite frankly, I hope that by the time I meet a man with enough character to get down on one knee to pop the question that we’re somewhere that fashion doesn’t really matter.  Perhaps in bed. Maybe in the backyard reading the paper. At the beach.  Out for a walk. I’m assuming I will have the good taste to choose s gentleman who is aware of the no socks with sandals rule.

Planning the ceremony? Not such a big deal at middle age. Catered in the backyard. A short beach holiday with our besties. Perhaps at the park under a full moon.

The bottom line is, that by the time you’re middle-aged, you likely have the good common sense to have given your relationship the ‘live-in’ test drive it deserves, complete with flannel, flatulence, flu-bugs and sports vs. chick-flicks on the tube.  Well adjusted men and women  are pretty content with their own company by this stage of the game, so having another person around full-time is testament to their solid character anyways.

If a middle-aged (ok, maybe past middle-aged) man has the kahonas to pop the question, who really cares if he’s sporting the latest style, rehearsed in front of a mirror, or exhumed your father’s body to get permission.  He’s made an attempt at romance, even after the reality of a prince-not-so-charming has taken root.

My advice for popping the question to middle-aged gals;

1) If she criticizes you for your cutesy efforts take the ring back. Real women appreciate your effort, or at least a good laugh.

2) Size doesn’t matter. It matters that you know what style of ring she will look at and know you thought of her.

3) Make sure you two are solid, have talked it to death, and are committed before you pop the question. Don’t scare the hell out of her.

4) Keep it to yourself. No jumbotrons, no popping the question in front of a crowd, no telling the world. Tell your best pal if you need to shake off some of the nervous energy, but other than that keep your trap shut. Announce the wonderful news together.

5) Be near a phone. I know that my friends have a running bet that I will never get married again. If it ever happens, I will be on the horn faster than a mustang on a mare.

6) Be scrubbed and ready to go. Women of a certain age have an, um, er…..well, insatiable appetite. Be prepared, that’s all I’m sayin’.

7) Ignore #2. Go big or go home.

8) Do it on a day when she needs to remember how lucky she is. Crappy day at work – voila. Fixed!

9) Don’t tell her what you spent on the ring. Middle aged women don’t want a show piece that’s going to take you a year to pay off, we want you to have the deal sealed and be a gentleman about it. Shh!

10)  Smile. You’re about to wander into a lovely part of life with a woman who knows what she wants, and you’re him. Congrats!

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Wedding Etiquette

Bride's Bouquet of Large White Roses
Bride’s Bouquet of Large White Roses (Photo credit: VancityAllie)

Good lord save us all from another season of wedding bell hell bliss. I offer you a list of current rules of wedding etiquette to consider for the 2013 season of matrimony.

1) You are absolutely, without-a-doubt not expected to attend the massive wedding (or bridal shower) of a mere acquaintance. Please see my new-found etiquette reference, which includes tear out sheets for the acquaintance who so thoughtfully included you on their special day.

2) When I was a kid, the value of wedding gifts had to factor in the cost of your dinner at the wedding. If you find yourself asking whether it’s an open bar and calculating the amount you’re going to spend on a gift, stop. Just stop it.  A gift is a gift. Always buy within your budget and give from the heart.

3) Do you have to attend the wedding and the reception. I don’t know? How’s your ‘you’ time going these days? Feel like you can’t sacrifice your personal time to attend both? Then don’t. Pick one or the other.

4) Two weddings on the same day? This had me flustered and flummoxed last year. I had a cousin’s wedding and a friend’s wedding on the same day.  I chose to do the long drive to see my cousin get hitched, and spend the reception time close to home so I could take a cab. It’s up to you, but remember you can’t be in two places at once, and friends understand this.

5) Special diet requests. Only if you’re going to swell up like a blimp and have a terrible allergic reaction or a massive coronary.  The last thing a bride and groom need is to be catering to preferences. You’re invited as a guest, not as royalty. Keep it simple.

6) Bringing guests. If the invitation says ______________(your name here) + guest, then by all means, invite a guest.  If not, either go solo or not at all.

7) Wearing white. Yah, don’t wear white, or cream, or any other colour that competes with the brides dress. It’s just bad form sweetie, and like it or not, people will think you’re an idiot.

8) Alcohol consumption. Well, personally, it’s the only way I’ve gotten through some weddings, so do what you must and accept the consequences. If you are a bridesmaid, by all means, get loaded. After all, it will serve you well to forget what you had to wear.

9) Suffering through vocal soloists. Soloists are the rednecks of wedding music. Sit still and do not make eye contact with  your friends. Giggling and/or laughing out loud is considered rude.

10) Advice to the bride. She doesn’t need any. This is about the couple not you. Keep it zipped.

11) Catching the garter or bouquet. Leave it for the desperate and the drunkards. It’s not worth tearing a seam. If you really want flowers, go get yourself a bouquet on Monday from the local greenhouse.

11) If you have accepted an invitation to a wedding, you have accepted an unspoken agreement to be polite, non-judgmental, and sincerely supportive of the wedding vows. When in doubt, ere on the side of silence my darlings.

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Sixteen times a Bridesmaid Only a few times a Bride

“I’m glad he’s single because I’m going to climb that like a tree.”
~Megan from the movie Bridesmaids~

‘Tis the season for prettily packaged invitations, light summer frocks and days spent in sweltering churches as we watch our friends and acquaintances tie the knot. What  great way to waste a beautiful summer day.

Yes, wedding season has arrived. It arrived enveloped in high quality stationary yesterday morning. I gave them marks for that ( my friends that is) good paper stock is the first sign I look for which indicates whether the event will be tacky or not tacky.  The invitation was gorgeously designed and very traditional. There was a postage-paid envelope included.  I noticed that the invitation included myself and ‘guest’. Guest who? They knew I wasn’t bringing a guest. In fact they were already prepping me for the set-up with the best man, a well-to-do lawyer who lives in the city. Apparently we have a lot in common, like pushing 40 and still being single.

With the invitation came a wash of gratitude. I was not standing  up in this wedding. Well, not having to wear an ugly dress anyway. I would be the Mistress of Ceremonies. Perfect. The last wedding I stood up in I was the Maid of Questionable Honor.

This time I could choose my own dress, and what fun that was going to be!  I’m looking for a dress that looks good with a glass of champagne and a slice of their yummy lemon wedding cake.  My only job at the wedding shower was to show up with a gift. My only job on the wedding day is to give a speech and get them to the first dance. Woo-hoo, a wedding I will enjoy! 

A number of years ago, I sat in a country church next to one of my colleagues and watched a wedding party solemnly walk, step, by step up the aisle to altar. It was hot and already I, and the people around me were using their order of service as fans in the close air. I missed the beach and felt a little bit cheated having to spend my day in the restraints of obligation. This was not fair.  A drop of sweat trickled from between my shoulder blades and slowly, made its way down the middle of my back, and finally, most uncomfortably down the crack of my butt . Soon another followed.  

I was trying not to squirm in my seat, when one of my colleagues leaned over and said, ” I can’t believe she’s marrying this douche-bag.” He said what everyone on her side of the church was thinking. I didn’t crack a smile, just nodded, and looked straight ahead at nothing in particular as I continued to wave my order of service in front of my glowing face. I was somewhat a professional at this, having sat through at least a zillion Italian funeral masses. But the heat was getting to me, and I knew that when I stood up I’d have to pry my dress off the back of my wet thighs and away from my damp panties. I thought of the court room in to Kill a Mockingbird and wished at least there were ceiling fans in this church.Despite my physical discomfort, I was honored to be invited to the wedding. I mean they had to choose only 250 of their closest pals to share their special day with them.

I have had the distinct pleasure and honor of standing up in a plethora of weddings throughout the years, and I have, despite having been married for a brief time myself, always been one of the token single girls prodded to go out and take part in the catching of the bouquet. Just to be precise, I have caught the bouquet 6, yes, count’em, 6 times. I’m not sure what 6 means in this case, the only thing that remotely relates is the advice given to a friend of mine by her very cool father that  good girls wait 6 dates before hopping in the sack with a guy and absolutely blowing his mind, or whatever else she decides to blow.

I have worn pink shiney dresses with puffy sleeves trimmed in lace. I have had to coax small children dressed as fairy tale characters up the aisle to fulfill their duties as ring bearer and flower girl. I have danced with bad-breathed, drunken ushers while wearing some of the ugliest clothes on earth. I have had to manipulate bra straps and cups to hide underneath cubist dress back designs.

Ironically, in all cases, I have been told by the bride to be that, “I’ve chosen something you can wear again.” Yah, right, I thought to myself wondering what nutbar bride might like me to wear an iridescent cocktail length teal skirt with a cotton chintz bodice to her wedding too.  I have worn a pink dress one size too small and felt like a giant piece of chewing gum. I wore navy blue when I was three months pregnant and spent most of that day, a very hot August 1st finding places to vomit. I’ve worn red, light blue, more pink, and was quite satisfied to deliver every single one of those dresses to my local charity shop.

I have organized wedding showers with lingerie themes, wine themes, and a traditional shower with over 200 people and more potato salad than a mid-west hoe-down. I have obeyed the bride to be and taken them to their first ever strip joint – with the end result being that I now have seen more paid-homosexual-dancers be spanked by my married girlfriends than anyone should ever have to witness. “Oh, if Dave EVER found out…tee-hee-hee,” one of my friends said teetering inebriatedly on her stiletto heels after an hour in the VIP lounge spanking some Asian guy named Gary. “Holy cow woman!” I thought to myself, ” After what I just saw you do in there, don’t tell me you just lay on your back, put your heels in the air and do if for the flipping queen with poor old Dave!” And my friends wonder why I’ve been to therapy.

I have had to save money for an entire year to afford a flight, a dress, a gift, a shower gift, my satin shoes dyed (thank  the good lord that trend is over everywhere but Redneckville), a hotel room and spending money. I have had to buy super-duper-suck’em in underwear for weddings to make the dress look decent, and masses of silky stockings.  I have had the night-before-the-wedding-I’m-scared-shitless-to-do-this talk, at least  a dozen times.

Everyone who knows me well enough to ask me to stand in their wedding knows me well enough to know I fly solo. Unless someone ‘puts a ring on it’, I will not be taking a date to a wedding. If I’ve had to buy the ugly dress, wear it in public, and spend a small fortune to send my pals off in style, I want one hell of a party at the end of it all, and I don’t want someone I’m not committed to dependent on me for a good time.

Since my marriage biodegraded, I have only ever had wedding talk with one man, and we were pretty clear about the simplicity of it all. We knew where, what time of day, what we would eat, the music we’d like, and the general ‘atmosphere’ we wanted.  In the end, I decided that a wedding wasn’t such a bad thing, it was the forever and ever that made me  sweaty and shifty, just like sitting in a sweltering country church in mid-July. 

Times they are a’changin’ though. My friends are at an age where weddings don’t take on a life of their own, the relationship does. Despite my little rant about being a bridesmaid, I love very simple weddings, because I think they represent simple relationships, and in my experience, simple relationships are the strongest. It shouldn’t be that hard to meet someone and treat them the way you wish to be treated.

So, here’s to the wedding season – ugly dresses, neurotic brides and single bridesmaids pining for a groom; old churches with no air-conditioning, and my personal favourite – vocal soloists. The piece de resistance and icon of everything that is tacky.

Sacred marriage vows be damned! Nowadays it’s all about the ‘wedding’. Someone please bring me more champagne, and that man, yes, that one over there…..