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Bad Neighbours & Stubborn Feminists

creepy neighbourThis afternoon I came home to a dead bunny.

It had been tossed over the fence and into my backyard. Intentionally.

My right-wing, conservative sweetie isn’t convinced. Mostly because he’s not the one who takes the brunt of my miserable neighbour’s passive-aggressive-patriarchal misogyny.

I am. 

This is not going to be a popular post for any of my fellow left-leaning social-idealists. Mostly because I live in a little pocket of the city that has been sold out from under our feet to foreign investors. And the ‘foreign’ part comes from a part of the world that doesn’t value human rights, especially not women’s rights. As a matter of fact, (and it is a fact), female offspring were often offed in favour of males. Hey, facts are facts and it’s best to face them.

I knew where the dull-eyed, disemboweled bunny  came from because the day before, my asshole-misogynist neighbour pointed out that there was a dead rabbit on the sidewalk in front of our house.  I don’t walk down that sidewalk every day, so it may have been there for a while, but it didn’t look or smell like it. I know death. I know what it looks and smells like.

I don’t think the neighbour knows I’m a mortician. I don’t think he knows that dead things don’t really bother me. But miserable old pricks do.

Anyway, after he pointed the animal out to me, I shovelled it off to the curb so that the municipality could pick it up. I shovelled it into a small pile of leaves, which made it really difficult to see. I want to point out here, that it was me, not the man of the house who didn’t shy away from cleaning up the carcass from the public sidewalk. I watched as the neighbour walked down the street again to find out where I put the rabbit.

So, today, when I came home to find that same bunny (that was well camouflaged on the side of the road in the little bed of leaves) in the middle of my vegetable gardening area, it didn’t take long to know who put it there.

throw stones at frogs

It was the-dink-next-door who told me to clean up the leaves in the front yard last year, but waved and smiled to my man. Same jack ass who told me to shovel the garage entrance and doesn’t whisper a word to my sweetie.

Anyway, creepo-neighbour-dick-wad, had to walk onto the road, pick up the rabbit, cross back over the sidewalk and then swing the rabbit over our fence. I am infuriated.

And I’m about to become the world’s most annoying neighbour.

In a civilized culture, we contact the municipality, and they safely clean up what is basically road kill (although from the look of this, it was a coyote who caught and chomped the upper abdomen of the little bunny). In the civilization I grew up in, we do not throw dead animals into the neighbour’s yard because we’re passive-aggressive women-haters. But we do take psychopath people who do that kind of thing, to task. And I have every intention of doing just.

Unless we come up with some really great protection against foreign ownership of Canadian property, and create a market that reflects housing needs and affordability based on the local economy, we’re in for big trouble. And by we I mean women, and by god, especially marginalized of women.

I don’t think it matters in my neighbourhood that I’m a woman, or a homosexual, or trans. I think it matters that I’m not a man. Being politically involved, and realizing the impact that our unaffordable, but competitive real estate market can have on the values we hold dear, becomes very important for anyone who values human rights.

Picking up the dead rabbit and tucking it into the compost bin was a more respectful option than grabbing it by the back feet and nailing it to my bastard neighbour’s front door, or playing a game of throw-a-bacteria-infested-carcass-back-and-forth. After all, the spirit of the animal deserves some respect.

Even though I resisted my urge to educate my neighbour about what is neighbourly behaviour and what isn;t, while holding the dead rabbit against his face, this is not over.

 

feminist-quotes33

I hope it happens when I’m looking anything but the picture of feminine helplessness. As a matter of fact, I hope it happens while my hair is still wild from bed, and I’m in a loud, unflattering muu-muu. I like to make a statement. And that statement will be; I don’t give a fuck what you think of me, and I’m not to be crossed. Especially by a man whom I could snap in two with my unfeminine big-boned frame.

Perhaps however,  it will happen while I’m in dirty yoga gear that doesn’t quite fit, after a long-hot, day of gardening, hair stuck to my sweaty forehead, and garden spade in hand.

made bail

Regardless, I have now committed to be the neighbour who plays great female vocalists right up until 11pm on my brand-spanking new outdoor blue-tooth speaker. I’m thinking Maggie Rogers or Janis Joplin or Sinead O’Connor, just loud enough to be heard through closed windows and above his television. I will likely add some pulsing strobe lights on the garage eaves for good measure, and invite my feminist friends over to have enthusiastic, unfiltered conversations in the back yard.

I will make a point of making my point. And I will do it often, over and over and over again.

What was it that, that cool 80’s girl-band sang about? Oh yah, “It’s a cruel, cruel summer.”

 

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Purpose Doesn’t Need Pants

no pants 2Meh. I don’t need pants today. Not really. Or a bra.  My  first thoughts as I towel off after the shower.

These are strange days, strange days indeed.

I stepped on the scale…Crap…Stepped on it again, and again, and again… a different reading every time. I would’ve thrown it out the window, but now’s not the time to go shopping for a new one, I’ll take a two pound window of the-numbers-don’t-matter-your-pants-don’t-fit, and try not to devour any more ju-jubes today.

I’m as stress eater.  A reader. A crafter. A napper. A stressed out funeral director grasping at anything to make me feel like I have control of something during these challenging times.  A meditation student trying to let it all go.  It’s a fine balance. Chocolate helps.

Standing there in the bathroom, with my hair piled on top of my head, I wonder if maybe, trudging in to work every day is not my purpose. And then again, maybe it is. This pandemic after all, is what I’ve been trained for.

As I sit here with no pants or bra on, sipping my coffee and writing to you, I am thinking of all the people out there who are doing their best. You’re keeping yourself and others safely at a distance. And then I think about the people whom I deal with who are selfish and stupid and inconsiderate.

You can’t fix stupid. And right now, I’m not going to try.

What I am going to do is try to maintain the grace with which I handle myself day-to-day. That does not mean acquiescing to rude, ignorant people. It means  that I will state facts firmly, and maintain the directives that have been issued to me as a professional.

The rest of my energy will be directed toward maintaining calm, kindness, and a sense of purpose that we all must have at this time. Purpose: a word that self-helpers have heard a lot lately.  I like it.

During this time of fear, and stress, I urge you to explore the deep and fascinating scope of your purpose.

Just prior to stepping out of the shower and deciding that I didn’t need to wear any civilized clothing, I had a few moments under the streaming, warm water to think about my purpose.

Deciphering your purpose can be like assessing which fork-in-the-road to travel; the one smoothly paved with obstacles too far down to see, or the one with seemingly insurmountable obstacles right at the beginning.

Fear is a powerful motivator. But it’s blind sometimes. Discovering your true purpose requires you to be brave enough to keep your eyes open, while also relying on your intuition.

Purpose. May you discover it, define it, and live it during these unprecedented times…pants or no pants.

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Intimately Yours

leloIntimate pleasure in the form of a mascara wand.

Not that it’s new, but hearing about it on The Shopping Channel  – TSC, was certainly a different experience.

Don’t get me wrong: I’m not here to preach about sex toys on late night television. In fact, I watched in awe as a plasticized sex therapist delivered a most 1950’s-housewife-narrative regarding the ‘pleasure objects’ up for grabs.

I actually learned something new. Apparently there are products to tone your vagina. And they have a very buttery texture.

Had I not been four glasses of wine into mourning my uni roommate’s death, I may have had a different reaction. I may have been indignant that the beauty industry had weaselled their way into my vagina. I may have ranted unabashedly about  saggy testicles that hang out in the open exposing us all to their hairy, wrinkled homeliness.  Tone the surface my vagina? Seriously.  Like I’ve got time for that. Besides, at this age, the men of my vintage need reading glasses to see anything that close-up.

As it were,  the sound of my friend’s hysterical giggles filled my imagination, and I became glued to the late-night sex-toy drive.

Where I grew up, The Shopping Channel was akin to Amazon. It was the first sit-in-your-flannel-in-the-middle-of-the-night-and-order-shit-you-don’t-need home-delivery service. I know many a country-bumpkin with simulated gemstone finds.  Now I have to wonder if they were all the most sexually satisfied, oppressed women in South-Western Ontario. Maybe I’ve been wrong all this time.

As the women on the show (host, sales rep and sex therapist),  discussed the very buttery texture of the vag cream, not, incidentally to be confused or used as a lubricant, I began to admire their command of very precise language.

These women were trying to sell a 2020 audience less phallic pleasure objects so that we didn’t intimidate our partners.  Less threatening, as in; it seemed like they assumed everyone was heterosexual, and women who used sex toys had to hide them from their men in order that said men’s masculinity could be unrealistically held above all else, as sacred.

There was just so much wrong with this.

I laughed, thinking how my friend and I would have laughed until we cried.   I could hear her beautiful giggle, and her gasping, “What the actual f@*k?!”  between laughing fits.

I’m pretty sure I wouldn’t recommend  the sex therapist who hosted. I don’t think anyone needs to be encouraged to feel any more self conscious about their sexuality than they already are, especially when it comes to being less threatening to the phallic brutality that has dominated the lives of women since the dawn of time.

I might however recommend what I’m going to call the  mascara wand vibrator to slip into your make-up bag for weekend getaways.

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Reminder: Women’s Day is Every Day

International Womens Day HistoryJust prior to quitting time on Friday, I got a call put through to my desk . It was the kind of phone call that we all dread.

My best friend, the woman I lived with during my university days, giggled with uncontrollably, and knew me before I was married, had a child, or knew the weight of being a responsible adult, had died.

We hadn’t seen each other in too long.

As with many conversations between women my age, our last digital conversation this week had ended with, ” We should get together soon.”

That was the last thing she wrote to me. My friend, who was going to be a great novelist.  Who giggled as we staggered home from middle-of-the-week-nights out,  and egged me up onto the stage on my 21st birthday to sing a Hank Williams song.

We won’t be getting together soon. I’d feel sorry for myself, but my heart is breaking for her children who will not be seeing their mother again.

In honour of Women’s Day, I waxed my mustache.

She would have liked that. She had my sense of humour.

My friend was one of the first women who shared my passion for feminism and free speech.

She was there for me when my mother couldn’t be. What I mean is, my mother was one of those women who felt trapped her entire life because she was a woman. She never had an opportunity, or the support we often give one another as women, to realize our worth, our power, and our innate depth as women.

International Women’s Day is a day I try to honour every year for that reason.  My best friend and I spoke up, protested, railed against the patriarchy if only in our university theses and ability to drink anyone under the table during informal debates.

And then life happened.  We got married, went back to school and had children in alternating patterns, and time became an enemy.  Time is the greatest of gifts, and we all need to be more careful how we spend it.

During Women’s Day and Mother’s Day, my phone lights up with messages and thoughts from friends and colleagues. I have the best women friends.

On this Women’s Day I am so thankful to be going out with friends as a balm for my grief.  My gregarious friend will be looking down on me, or perhaps even the devil on my shoulder, while I swig a cold beer and toast her joi de vivre.  Women’s day also involves receiving token recognition from  organizations that keep the systems running in such a way that ‘Women’s Day’ is necessary.

Women very much live in patriarchal construct of time. This mostly includes honouring the  9-5 grind on top of fulfilling the much undervalued drives of mothering and our need for connection.

Let Women’s Day remind you this year of how important it is to spend time with our gal-pals. Let it be a reminder for you, above anyone else, to prioritize and respect the energy you put in to how you spend your time.

Happy Women’s Day to all of my dear friends, regardless of gender and age.

Go out there, and make some memories. Remind us all that we have safe harbour, infinite potential, and reasons to laugh until we can’t catch our breath.

 

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Self-Worth: The Biggest Mid-life Myth Debunked in Under 10 Minutes

beautiful busyI have thick thighs and thin patience…

What I’m finding particularly interesting at this middle-age-stage of femininity is how we continue to be coerced into believing that women exist in a big vat of lack.

It’s wearing my patience thin.

As a child, I was born into a generation who taught little girls to be quiet, and for-God’s-sake-don’t-pull-at-your-leotards-like-that.  As a teen, I was fed a diet of magazines with super-thin-models and how-to-keep-a-man-satisfied headlines.

In my twenties and thirties, it was about having it all; relationships, career, children, bff-friendships over expensive, boozy, brunches, and more diets and fitness routines. Raise your hand if you don’t have time to do your hair after a lunch-hour work out.

Now I’m in my forties, and the thing to be doing is redefining yourself.  It all sounds great; it’s a powerful message to send that in our 40’s we have so much lost potential. Fuck off with that already. Quit telling us that more is better. This is a myth perpetuating a generation of women who feel not good enough. 

sewing bookQuit telling us that existing in this world as a female requires more.  All  while men are getting cozy in their careers, maxing out their earning potential (still on average  13.3% more than a woman’s), and being patted on the back about their wonderful achievements.

Women are being fed a big ol’spoonful of ‘you-can-do-better’.

We are in crisis because we’re being told we should be more.

We are in crisis because we bear the responsibility of reproduction after spending our most fertile years striving for a career.  We have fewer economic opportunities, and the social expectation of being caregivers to parents and children while working at often more than one job to try to ensure we can retire before we die of exhaustion.  A male’s shrivelling manhood is being exalted while we’re being told we’re not good enough. No wonder our vaginas dry out and shrivel up.

If you’re strong enough to be a woman, you’re strong enough to no.

‘No’, will immediately toss you into the pile of ‘nasty’ women who quietly, but powerfully carry on as they damn well please.  Everyone with any honesty will tell you that women over 40 lose a significant amount of social currency. While men start getting rejected from potential employment in their late 50’s, women experience it a decade earlier. Saying no to unreasonable demands and less than you’re worth claims power.  It claims the respect you deserve for doing most of the emotional work within the household, for getting up and going to your job every day so you can put food on the table, even though it’s not sexy and even claims some time to rest.

The myth tells us all that we must be working at something else in order to justify a ‘no’. You do not. You just have to do you. And you is likely exhausted.

We’re enough as we are. We do not need to strip our souls bare and redefine ourselves. We do not need to buy into this myth just because the privileged class thinks it’s cool to be in crisis.

In my world, it’s cool to be cool. It’s cool to be ok with being all that you are.

You lack nothing. Be proud of who you are.

 

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Christmas Is: Time to Cheer for Change

So I’ve been writing a lot about Christmas. I love Christmas, it’s easy to get lost in the merriment and let’s face it, I’m easily distracted by shiny things.

What I haven’t been writing about is how burnt out I am. How I have let things go so long, that now it feels like it’s gone to shit. And I don’t have the inclination to fix it, fake it, or take it.

I’m not a sissy at burn out. I’ve been there before, but now I’m too old for it. I feel like a toddler with my chubby arms crossed against my old-lady chest, lip stuck out, emphatically letting the world know that, ” I don’t have to.” It’s not cute, and it’s not pretty, but it is what it is.

I may look sad, but trust me, I’m pissed. And I will not tolerate anyone’s shit. Not for love or money.

I’m not a nervous breakdown burn-out. I’m a pissed off, middle-aged burn out.  And when I’m pissed off I cry. Then I get frustrated with myself, and I get angrier, and then I cry.

I constantly tell myself everything is rosy when it’s not. I can do it for years. It’s a long-standing type of self-preservation that only people who come from a history of abuse will understand. Take it from me, you know when it’s time to move on from any kind of toxic relationship; career, friendship, romance, family…whatever.

If your burnout is from work, try to reframe it until you can leave. Through coaching and experience, I have learned that sometimes work can give us what we need ( a pay cheque) until we find a pay cheque that stresses us less. Nothing lasts forever. And that’s a good thing.

Recently I was speaking to one of my friends who has her own counselling practice. She said that people come to her on a regular basis terrified of crying at work, totally victims of harassment and workplace bullying, the ugly step-daughters of corporate greed. I do believe that working until we have nothing left to give is one of the great social diseases of our time.  It eats away at the good things in our life, until it’s the only thing we can think about. Not cool. Not sexy. Not impossible to extricate yourself from either.

I have been very lucky in the past to have meaningful work that didn’t feel so much like work.  And that gives me hope, and I hope it gives you hope as well.

The end of the year often lends itself to retrospection, which goes hand in hand with setting goals for the new year. What was great about my year? What wasn’t so great? How am I going to change that? How am I going to make my life better?

stuckOnce upon a time my Mumster told me to go home and just look at job sites. She said knowing that so many opportunities are out there would cheer me up. She’s right. It was the same feeling I had as I drove through the city streets from our island airport. I looked up at all of the tall buildings, at all the lights, the ads, and I knew that there was opportunity if only I got out and let the world know that I was interested.

If you’re feeling burnt out, I hope you don’t get comfy in the cushy sofa of despair.  I hope that you set coffee dates with people who are doing what you want to do and are open to sharing their experience.  Spend time with people who love you and want you to be successful. Start small if you have to. Offer your services on fiverr, take free classes at the local library, be curious.

There are plenty of resources out there for you. My sweetie loves,  What Colour is Your Parachute, but I prefer Careergasm. I’m a fan of Sara Smeaton and think that in 2020 I need to spend more time at her workshops.  Last year I started off the year going to seminars, setting goals and putting myself out there. It fizzled at the end, but I gained some momentum…and I’m convinced that that momentum will continue.

As one of my  hippy dippy friends said, “Put it out to the universe.”  She was right. Put it out there. Let the world know you are open to opportunity, and it will find you.

 

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Connection: Wonder in the Darkness

candle in snowIt’s that feeling when you receive an email from the person you’re thinking of at the same time as you press send on your email to them.

Synchronicity takes faith. It’s that feeling of floating above it all where everything and everyone just clicks.  My life is abundant with that…mostly.

We’re coming to the end of another year. January 1st can be a pretty important mental reset date.  Goal setting, resolutions and check-lists for the year ahead.

This year I set some pretty great goals. I met most of them. What I learned this year was way more important than checking off a list though. I learned what traps my energy and keeps me from feeling that satisfying peace of synchronicity. Now that I’ve identified it, I can do something about it.

That’s power my friends. That’s joy-brimming, creative-muscle-flexing power! It makes me giddy, and hopeful, and snuffs out the candle of despair which so easily ignites when we totter off balance.

I always save vacation time for the Christmas season. I enjoy the nesting of this holiday; baking, cooking, gift making, cocoa-sipping, movie watching, cocktails with friends, and making time for the coffee dates we put off all year long.

I also really dig Advent. I fully subscribe to the mystery of Advent, the idea of light in the darkness, and rebirth via struggle. But not too much struggle. Not struggle for struggle’s sake. I don’t dig unnecessary suffering, even as an artist.

Synonyms for ADVENT ˈæd vɛnt
  • advent, coming(noun) arrival that has been awaited (especially of something momentous) …

  • Advent(noun) the season including the four Sundays preceding Christmas. …

This holiday season, weather you celebrate Christmas or not, the darkest days of the year lend themselves to introspection, to wonder, to being open to new, yet-to-be-revealed opportunities. I hope that during this time you take the solitude you need to rest, reflect and connect.

cocoa with friends

It is through connection that I hope to reign in the things that deplete my energy.  It is through connection that I hope to ignite what brings me vitality. It is through connection that I hope to contribute to the world around me through my relationships, profession and creative pursuits.

I urge you to reflect on any feeling that tugs away at your soul and needs attention. And then connect with people whose presence alone will help heal those attention seeking areas of your life.  I hope that you connect with people who help you feel joyful, powerful and positive.