Work: The Soul-Sucking Reality of Adulthood

giphyDo you remember what it was like to take the first baby steps in your career? How great it felt to take a step toward what you’d worked so hard for in school, and on the bottom rungs of the grunt-work-we-suffered-through-it-so-you-must-suffer-through-it-load-of-sadistic-bullshit-ladder?

Oh sure, for a while in your twenties and thirties you feel like you’re going somewhere, and then after forty – BOOM- it’s like hot-tub-fucking-time-machine.

You’re back in high school.

Nobody likes to wake up to an alarm, battle traffic and then be told what to do all day. That’s why they call it work, and that’s why you get paid to do it. Keeping yourself busy throughout the day is a good thing. Keeping yourself busy all day surrounded by egomaniacs is not.

And that’s what’s wrong with the world.

It’s not a competition folks. It’s life. It’s short, and it’s precious and it’s way better if you’re kind to one another.  Take these words of wisdom that I shared with my son during dinner tonight, and heed them well;

Ask for help if you need it. People are always happy to help, unless they’re douchebags.

…and really, life is too short for egotistical douchebags…

For instance, this morning I received a text from a friend who was down because they had been really mistreated at work. Beginning a new contract, they were not given the courtesy of being told in advance that there would be a later starting date, or that their title had changed.

The only realistic conclusion with regard to this matter is that the boss is an egotistical turd.

We all need to make a living. It doesn’t matter what you do, or who you are, your single goal ought to be kindness.  The true measure of a human being is always how they treat others, how they contribute positively to the environment that they are in. I’m a firm believer in using everyone’s strengths and weaknesses to the advantage of the day, and the purpose of our work.

There is no psychic room in our lives for petty maneuvers that inflate  ego, especially in the work place.

giphy1If you are in an environment of Douchedom at work  where kindness does not reign as Queen, may I suggest a few things?

  1. 1. Find solace in little things that you can focus on without anyone thinking you’re some kind of spiritual numpty.  For instance, a quirky little saying pinned to your board, a small photo of your next dream vacation, a stone from your favourite walking trail.
  2. Meditate on your beverage. Yes. It’s perfectly acceptable to have some sort of sipper at your station or desk, so put it in a container that brings you joy. Not a flask ( as much as a good snort of gin might feel mid-day). A pretty tea cup or a bright bottle. Whatever. Just remind yourself that you are taking care of you, and that a-hole-ego-maniac-ass-hat-of-a-co-worker can just sip on their own negative swamp water, because you are not having any of that poison.
  3. Before you lose your cool, quietly ask yourself, ” Who do you think you’re talking to”?  Take a deep breath, look directly into their eyes, smile, say “I see”, very calmly, and carry on doing exactly what you were before you were interrupted, attempted to be made a fool of, or lorded over. Carry. On.
  4. Use your commute to de-stess. Don’t call your bestie to bitch. Don’t text. Don’t drive in silence. Crank some feel-good music, roll the windows down, and envision all of the bad shit being blown away. Begin the transition to that hot soak in the tub, the novel you have beside the bed, or the long walk you’re going to take. Do not let bad mojo at work steal any more of your energy.
  5. Change before you leave the office. Change your whole outfit, change your shoes…whatever, just change something to symbolically get out of your ‘uniform’.
  6. Freshen up. That’s right. Twice a day go to the loo and fluff your hair, wipe your boob sweat, re-apply lipstick, pull up your socks, put cold water on your face….be creative, but come out refreshed.
  7. Look for a new job. I’m being serious. Even if you don’t really want to leave what you’re doing, it helps to know that there’s always other stuff out there. It was a piece of advice given to me by my mumster and it works. Knowing there’s gainful employment away from a bad environment helps strengthen your resolve to make it work, whether it’s from the desk you’re sitting at, or at  a new one.
  8. Accept that sometimes, no matter how great the calling, we do not find our joy in the workplace.  For instance, I find my joy in writing, reading, attending my kiddo’s sporting events, camping and even running. These are  great joys…small joy at work is a beautiful calendar, a dainty tea-cup, a smooth writing pen, having self control and coming up with witty comebacks in my own mind…If work is your joy, you do not have time to participate in pettiness. You only have time to become better at your craft. Keep your head down, your mouth shut and go for the gusto.
  9. Be nice. Have a candy dish at your desk, ask about somebody’s pet, kids or spouse. Be human and available. Don’t be the raincloud that dulls down the office. At the very least, on bad days, keep to yourself and enjoy your tea.
  10. Laugh. At yourself, at the douchebag who thinks they’re a big-shot, at everything. Just fucking laugh, because that my darling ones, is what life is all about.
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When You’ve Had Enough: Dealing with Wretchedness

thingsthatshine***ADULT LANGUAGE WARNING***

Let all of those things bubble to the surface and let them heal you.

~The Mumster~

She was talking about things that pissed me off. You know, the things that camouflage themselves when viewed through rose-coloured glasses.

These are the things you want so badly that you project your lovliness onto them, despite them being absolute rubbage. Stinky, ugly, screwed up beyond all recognition; trash.

These are the people and things that make you cry, doubt yourself, clutter your mind with slow-motion-replays of every single freaking clue you should have picked up on, until you finally decide that you’ve had enough.

E-freakingnough…

Darlings, I’m too old to replay my past. At this stage, I want to move forward, build healthy relationships, both professionally and personally, and I most certainly do not want to tolerate someone else’s bullshit. I want to laugh, love and laugh some more.

I have lived intentionally for a long time, choosing (yes, CHOOSING) to be a kind, open-hearted and loving person in spite of selfish and mean-spirited people trying to take advantage of that.

What it  boils down to is this; if you are an asshole of the dirtiest kind, only you have to suffer that. We don’t. I choose to eliminate (no pun intended) those folks from my life, with as little energy expended as possible. You should too. Ignore those assholes so hard that they start to believe they don’t exist.

Sadness and heartbreak are inevitable, but so are the wonderful new experiences which await us if we continue to choose to be kind, loving and embrace life.

Without having had to question certain relationships this year, I would not be looking forward to a more stable income. I would not have reconnected with a hunky old school chum.

I would not have reached out to my friends as much as I have for support (therefore we’ve formed stronger bonds). I would not have been so inspired to tackle a writing project, and other hobbies that make me come alive.

prettywreckI also would not have been laid out in tears, heartbroken and sad. Sounds awful! But no. It gave my body and mind a chance to process things, and rest. Rest is highly under-rated these days. Napping is the new black.

In other words, if framed properly, dealing with bad relationships can work, but only if you adopt the right attitude, get off your lazy buns and do something to make YOU more vibrant.

Life is for living, and if nothing else, dealing with bullshit and assholes should be a firm reminder that life is precious, time passes too quickly, and people who are lovely, well, they’re worth more than their weight in fine chocolate.

Be fabulous darlings.redhearts

Rumi the Wise One

breaking your heart

Personal Leadership & The Leaders Who Lack It

wolfbreathThere is nothing worse than a person with power who lacks leadership. Take, for instance, most world leaders today. Most are egomaniacs with a side of masochism. Et voila! Welcome to the modern world of faster, more and who gives a damn.

This is your call to action. Each day we wake up and participate in the false global economy, and dawdle off to our nine-to-five so we can pay our bills, we have a choice. We can silently let the world and all of the unfairness in it go by, or we can choose to act in a way that honours our human instinct ( I do believe it’s an instinct) and follows the golden rule. In other words, we can be selfish wahoos, or individual leaders standing up for what’s right.

There have been times in my life when I’ve come home from school or work, ready to throw in the towel.

I have what I believe to be reasonable standards when it comes to how I treat other people, and how I expect to be treated. I expect to be treated with respect, and like to do the same to the people I encounter on a daily basis.  I do my best not to complain, gripe, gossip or bring negativity to the room when I enter it. After all, isn’t it nice to have a conversation that doesn’t make your gut clench with anxiety or reach for a tissue? Yes, yes it is.

Sometimes, ok, a lot of the time, we are in situations with ‘leaders’ who have about as much couth as a coyote in a henhouse. The ability to lead has very little to do with experience, education or seniority. It has to do with personal philosophy, spiritual cultivation, and knowing oneself. Now expecting those qualities from someone, my darlings, is having high expectations.

As I’ve aged (and yes, leaders with no leadership ability is exactly the type of thing that ages me), and matured, I’ve come to realize that trying to change, explain to, or negotiate with a person in power who lacks leadership is a complete and utter waste of time. It’s like wearing mascara to the steam bath. It just gets messy and ugly in a hurry.

The issue becomes not whether you can change someone else, it becomes how well you are able to know yourself, and control your own reactions. I had two great pieces of advice given to me when I was a teenager chomping at the bit of independence; first of all, you don’t go anywhere if you don’t step forward, secondly, and I quote, “Sweetie, there will always be assholes.”  I grew up in the country, this wasn’t really considered cursing, it was just a matter of fact.

If you too find yourself spending time brooding over someone who consistently and more frequently displays a lack of true leadership, don’t do anything. The reality is, you need to do and say nothing. You need to buck up, carry on, and not let anyone rock the firm foundation of who you are or what you stand for. You do not need to argue, rant, run or cry. When it comes to jobs and relationships, give it a thorough analysis, because wherever you go, an idiot will be there. I’m not saying stay in an abusive situation, but try not to take it personally.

Eventually, you do learn that it really isn’t you, it’s them, and oh my, how they must suffer living in such misery.

By doing nothing, not reacting, or buying the kind of crazy that leadership-lacking-leaders are selling, you create this little zone of discomfort. It’s in that zone, when leaders cannot affect your own control over yourself, that they get a little woozy. You see, they thrive off your discomfort, and when you cut that little supply of nourishing misery off, they starve.  If none of their bullying tactics work,  it may prompt a little self-reflection. Don’t bet on it though. Just bet on yourself, and don’t forget sweetie, “…there will always be assholes.” Don’t let them recruit you.

YOU LEARN

by: Veronica A. Shoffstall

After a while you learn the subtle difference
Between holding a hand and chaining a soul,
And you learn that love doesn’t mean leaning
And company doesn’t mean security.
And you begin to learn that kisses aren’t contracts
And presents aren’t promises,
And you begin to accept your defeats
With your head up and your eyes open
With the grace of a woman, not the grief of a child,
And you learn to build all your roads on today
Because tomorrow’s ground is too uncertain for plans
And futures have a way of falling down in mid-flight.
After a while you learn…
That even sunshine burns if you get too much.
So you plant your garden and decorate your own soul,
Instead of waiting for someone to bring you flowers.
And you learn that you really can endure
That you really are strong
And you really do have worth…
And you learn and learn…
With every good-bye you learn.

Do not let a leader who lacks personal leadership spoil your day. As the great Jimmy Buffett once sung, “…breathe in, breathe out, move on…”

When the Amazing C is Silent

"Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty." ~Sicilian Proverb~

“Only your real friends will tell you when your face is dirty.”
~Sicilian Proverb~

You’ve read about her before right? The Amazing C?

She’s a funny bird, but I love her.

Unlike my bestest friend who has known me since I was a virgin, the Amazing C came into my life later; After a marriage, a divorce, once-tight abs and my belief in fairytale endings had all faded into the sunset.

She’s my soul-sister in suffering and absolute fabulousness. She, more than anyone else understands my world of work, and understands when words are inadequate to describe the suffering of a higher calling.

She also understands how that relates to raunchy escapades, a bottle too many, and emotions that run so deep, even you don’t know they’re still there.

I like to believe that although life pressed the ‘normal’ button on our life-cycle, when we next meet face-to-face for a girls weekend, we will remember what it’s like to be ‘delicates’.

You likely have a friend just like the Amazing C. Don’t you think it’s time to make the effort to reconnect?

All women have years that pass quickly and deplete their buckets of empathy. We’re all  trying to keep up with daily life. But in doing so, we lose ourselves just a little bit. Reconnecting with our friends helps us rekindle that spark that made life exciting and cast a long shadow on fear and self-conscientiousness.

I’m off on another little globe-trotting adventure where I hope to re-connect with my creative, dynamic and energetic self. Maybe I’ll find that delusional girl with stars in her eyes who I used to be. I’m sure she’ll be there with your twin-double, cleavage at the ready, drinking martinis with sexy Scottish rugby stars.

When I get back, let’s do something stupid together again.

 

Take it Off…All Off!

takeitalloffYou have absolutely no idea how excruciatingly wonderful it felt to slip my tailored suit jacket down my arm and across my back as I kicked off my heels and walked toward my bedroom.

“Good-bye fancy ear-ring,” I said, as my fingertips gripped the back of the clasp…

You will never comprehend how decadent it felt to peel off my pantyhose and know that for two-whole weeks, the only big wardrobe choice I have to make is flip-flops or bare feet.

Sah-weet!

When you wear a uniform or uniform-like attire to work every day, it becomes part of your identity.  Not that that’s a bad thing. I happen to be among the chosen few who actually love their job and the people they work with. Having said that, every now and then, it’s nice to put some distance between your skin and the clinging sheath of your professional persona.

Sometimes it’s just really nice to reconnect with what it means to be a free-creative-music-and-art-loving-spirit, connected to the earth and sea. For me it’s always been the sea. It’s always been the water, and the fresh wind, and the dark night sky and it’s been so terribly long…

Stepping out of my suit and taking off my ear-rings, necklace, watch and rings, I relished the feeling of freedom that comes with not having to.

I write to you my lovelies because I care. If you, like me, get lost in the routine of every day, occasionally get overwhelmed with anxiety and fear of the future, are thankful for all of the blessings in your life, and don’t want to rock the boat, I urge you to resist your fear and make time to reconnect with what you love.

The margins in my life are narrow. My resources are all self-mined and lean toward the depleted side. I look death in the eye daily, and I know that life is short. It’s all a gamble my friends. It’s all water under the bridge to never-never-land. Every now and then you need to take a leap of faith, jump for joy and do something that rekindles the spark that made you absolutely fabulous once-upon-a-time.

As I slip out of my suit and into something the good-lord made comfortable, I raise a glass to the simple joy of saying, “Fuck it”, and then doing just as you please.

 

 

 

 

Why Bother Reading Chick-Lit

jewelsofthesunMixed in with bag of qualifications and academic letters is an English degree. I’ve studied and written and read some of the best literature on the planet according to the almighty ‘They’.

I have also read a lot of smut. During certain moods and times of the year, I devour Harlequin novels like a Canadian eating blueberry flapjacks. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate the benefits of reading a genre that most people won’t admit to enjoying.

Alas, I will come out of the chick-lit closet and admit that I’m a lover of lovers, love-stories, and happily-ever-afters.  Go ahead and look down your long, literary noses. I can take your criticism, because I know that somewhere out there in the crowd of literature snobs are the bazillion hypocrites with reams of chick-lit stashed under the mattresses.

This afternoon I picked up another Nora Roberts novel, Jewels of the Sun. It’s an older novel, but, like most other things that I read, including philosophy, religious texts and business books, it has come at the right time and I can relate to it;

All the signs were there, had been there hovering and humming around her for months. The edginess, the short temper, the tendency toward daydreaming and forgetfulness. There’d been a lack of motivation, of energy, or purpose.

Most working women can relate to feeling like this at some time or another. I happen to work in a profession traditionally (as in from the dawn of time) dominated by men. Work isn’t just work, it’s working to change the entire language of what it means to be a professional.

As a barely middle-class, well-educated  single parent, just keeping up with the demands of every day living is exhausting, so much so that I forget what it means to be feminine. It is an indulgence that I can not often afford to feel or express.

When I pick up a piece of chick-lit, I can escape into characters who mirror exactly what I’m feeling;

Every morning the simple task of getting out of bed to dress for the day’s [work] had taken on the proportions of scaling a mountain. Worse, a mountain she had absolutely no interest in seeing from a distance much less climbing…

Imagine, she thought, not having to talk to anyone for several days in a row! Not being asked questions and expected to know the answers. Not making small talk…No schedule that must be adhered to.

Not only are there characters written who normalize the exhaustion I feel, but they have lovely old crones who are well rooted in the goddess of the earth dishing out advice;

…Still, it’s a good spot, the hill, for looking inside yourself ot your heart’s desire. You look inside yours while you’re there.

Ah yes, the sweet temptation of foreign vistas and solitude.  We all need a bit of prodding to leave our comfort zones and get back to our own authentic selves. A gal can only get by on daydreaming in local coffeeshops or long-hot-candle-lit-baths-so-you-can’t-see-the-grime, for so long.

While I begin the final countdown to my own time-out on the sea, I will internalize the advice of the old granny in the book;

…don’t stand back too long and watch the rest of the world. Life’s so much shorter than you think.

…and don’t we know it.

A Soldier of Love on Buddhist VD

"Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn't mean the circus has left town." ~George Carlin~

“Just because you got the monkey off your back doesn’t mean the circus has left town.”
~George Carlin~

Welcome to February!

In Canada, it’s another month of cold weather gear and snuggling by the fire. You may only be snuggling with the cat, a good book, a tumbler of your favourite winter red, or like me, all three.

During this month of winter, I am going to try my best to warm you up with cozy thoughts of love my darlings.  This will replace my annual whining about being bombarded by pink, white and diamonds tossed at us by Cupid, the  figment of our collective imagination aptly decked out in a diaper.

This year I am determined to laud Valentine’s Day as a day dedicated to loving and friendship. I will be doing this from a sailboat in the Caribbean Sea, which may be taking the sting out of it, but I digress…. Regarless of motive, I shall persevere and not question my rose-coloured outlook.

Yesterday, I as I lounged under my pile of duvets, I had time to read a short piece in Mindful magazine by Dr. Cheryl Fraser, entitled, Make Love a Priority.

Now, I really don’t have one special person in my life, so you might be wondering why on earth I was reading an article on making relationships last. Well darlings, it’s always best to be prepared.

I was reading the article as I would a map of sorts. It’s nice to become familiar with the landscape before you arrive. Consider it reconnaissance of the most delightful kind, being carried out by this soldier of love.

The little teaser read, “Remember: “Love” is a verb”…Oh good lord I thought as I sipped my coffee, this is going to be a bunch of idealistic pooh. Since I usually refer to Valentine’s day as VD, I thought I should carry on with the article in case it might change my very stubborn mind.

Dr. Fraser went on to tell the story of her Grandparents who met at a Valentine’s dance while her Grandmother was already engaged to someone else. This meant nothing to Norman (her grandfather), who was determined to woo and romance this woman.

Now that’s my kind of love story; real, messy, and completely lived on the fly. She had me hooked;

Though she was engaged to another man, he wooed her, won her, wed her.

“Go get her Norman,” I thought as my wee little cynical heart began to beat a  faster.  In a few sentences I learned that the couple did, indeed, live not just happily-ever-after, but with passion and that little je ne sais quoi that keeps your wiggly bits warm.

Most of us know a couple like my grandparents, and we want that sort of love affair, too. None of us plan to become the couple staring blankly across the restaurant table with nothing to say. But great relationships are created, not discovered.

I’ve been that couple. But that’s the kicker isn’t it? The ever-evolving creation, the ongoing magic of spiritual alchemy between two people that needs constant tending. I wish I fully realized that when my marriage fell to bits. It’s only in hindsight I have been able to recognize these things, and fully come to realize the ongoing effort that’s involved.

I’m a great one for grand gestures and whirlwind (but time limited) romances. They are so much more exhilarating than hacking away at the same old thing, but you miss the joy of reminiscing, and looking back on the trail you’ve created together.  It’s a cowards’s way out I’m afraid. It’s a way to let fear rule, and your heart remain safely locked away.

Authentic relationships are  a fine balance with pro’s and con’s on both sides of the ‘to be in a relationship or not be in a relationship’ debate that so often wages war in my anxious mind.

Whichever side you take; better-off-coupled or better-off single, it’s an article worth the read. Most of the advice applies to friendships as well. Those can be lop-sided too. Without effort, the friendship becomes stale, and meaningless. The maintenance of  true connection and attention to care in any relationship is necessary for survival.

Treat Valentine’s Day like a meditation bell, reminding you to slow down and show up for love, over and over again.

Call me a hopeless romantic Buddhist if you must, but I do have to recommend this article to friends, lovers, and armor-clad soldiers of love such as I.

Not Being In Love: The Truth From Someone Who’s Single

"Don't ever settle for a relationship that doesn't allow you to be yourself." ~Unkown~

“Don’t ever settle for a relationship that doesn’t allow you to be yourself.”
~Unkown~

When you’re not in love, life is a lot simpler.

That’s what my experience has been. When you are in love, your heart aches for that someone special, and you would twist yourself inside out to make their world a little brighter.

Being in love is ideal, and not being in love can be very liberating.

Not being in love allows you the freedom to be distracted from your real life and to be entertained. Flirting requires a cleverness that gets lost in relationships. Not being in love means not being attached. Not being attached means not being attached to any particular  outcome. Not being attached to outcome lends itself to a lighthearted freedom, and you know what Janis Joplin’s famous rendition of Me and Bobby McGee taught us about freedom;

Freedom’s just another word for nothing left to lose

~Kris Kristofferson & Fred Foster~

One of the best parts of any great relationship that I have, whether it be romantic, or platonic, is that it was rooted in the deep muck of silliness, play and lack of inhibition.

Too many relationships have been about saving the other person. I don’t know about you, but I don’t like hanging around like that hideous orange and white life-preserver that dries out and cracks in the sun while everyone is having fun in the pool. I don’t want a needy partner looking to be saved. I want a relationship to be a place where we can both come to recharge our batteries, instead of sucking the energy from one another. It’s a fine balance my juicy little love-plums.

So if you’re not in love, the next best thing may be to be engaged in some sort of flirtatious shenanigans. These are the things that keep us young at heart, and there is nothing more deliciously sexy than someone who knows how to have fun. Wine doesn’t hurt either…but I digress.

Being in love can be safe, comfortable, and deeply satisfying. Not being in love often results in the singleton being told a plethora of platitudes from people who are only somewhat satisfied with their partners, some of the worst of which are; you’ll find someone when you’re not looking, don’t settle, and, have you tried on-line dating?

All the while, the singleton at the receiving end of this merciless load of poop is thinking, “Maybe you should try shutting up and going home to suffer in silence next to your boring partner who makes you feel mediocre at best.”

Not being in love does not offer the safety of two incomes. It does not offer an unconditional casual therapist. Not being in love leaves you free to choose when you want to wake up on your no-alarm clock days, and coming home to eat curry and drink beer in your undies after a long week at work. Not that I would personally ever do such a thing….

Not being in love also opens up a world of delight if only you can let yourself enjoy some harmless flirting. Which, has also been known to lead to falling head over heels into the sticky spider-web of love…proceed with caution my lovelies. Consider yourself warned.