Meditation

Silence is golden. (It’s also a powerful weapon, as any forlorn boyfriend will tell you), but how often do we actually appreciate silence?  In a world that’s cluttered with noise and activity, it’s difficult to recognize silence when it does come, if it comes. My quest for peace came late in life. I just got tired of the noise, all of it, and I needed to quiet my mind, so I turned to meditation, a practice growing in popularity.

I did my research. I got a book from the library (Meditation for Dummies) and a tape narrated by a popular therapist who would ‘talk you through’ the mediation practice. I even attended an evening mediation workshop hosted in a local Shambhala Centre (it was free)

I waited for a day when I knew I’d be alone at home, popped the tape into my player, sat on the floor in lotus position and prepared to quiet my mind. The tape began with soft, spa-like music; running water, bird sounds, not unlike those I’d imagine in a rain forest, then a voice instructing the listener to take their conscious thought to their perceived place of serenity. I immediately envisioned a secluded beach at sunset; gentle waves lapping at the shore. I note a dull ache in my hips,,, this lotus position hurts (I didn’t think mediation was supposed to hurt?) Focus. The book said to ignore physical distractions.

The voice urges me to release all feeling in my limbs…..more gentle waves. Surrender all thought to the wind (Jesus, my hips are killing me) I squirm a little to release my legs from the pretzel-like hold of the lotus. (ok, better, relax) I force my thoughts back to the water…. swish, swish, swish. (was that the dryer buzzing? Rats, those are darks and they’ll wrinkle if I don’t fold them now….) No, stop, re-focus. Nothing matters, just this moment and the silence. (Are those crows screaming out there? I should’ve shut the window) Relax. (mother of God, how many are there? Was there a major kill or something?) Ignore it. Clear your mind – you hear nothing, just the water…….(Jeez, I hope they don’t crap all over my porch,,,it sounds like a hundred of them…)

The voice continues….’feel yourself drifting, floating weightlessly through the air.’ The doorbell rings. I ignore it….this is too important to my well-being. It rings again.  (wait, it could be a parcel delivery…maybe someone sent me a gift….if I don’t get it, I’ll have to go to the local post office later,,,,,better to just answer it now) I shake out my numb legs and wobble to the front door anxious for my anticipated surprise. It’s not a parcel. I groan as I recognize the now familiar pair of Jehovah’s Witness recruiters who’ve come for their weekly attempt to convert me. After assuring them I already have a direct line to God, so no need to read from the bible thanks, they reluctantly leave.

I rush back to the family room, plop back into position and resume my visit with serenity noting I’ve already lost 20 minutes. My husband  will be home soon…. (I’d better relax pronto)  The phone rings. (Ignore it) Waves lapping onto the shore, ring, ring,,,,(what if it’s important),,,,ring, ring Cursing, I again unfold my numbing legs and rush to answer the phone – good news! I’ve been selected to win a cruise just for participating in a brief survey, yay! I hang up and shuffle back into position. Ok, water, air, floating, blah, blah, hurry up and relax already. I’m annoyed. This meditation stuff isn’t relaxing at all and I’m not forcing my legs into anything anymore.

The soft voice on the tape is now dreamy and far off. ‘Surround yourself with a warm white light’ ……all you hear is the water, birds, peace….oh hell, and those bloody crows are back, really? (when did my yard become a gathering ground for the wild kingdom?) Oblivious to the tape, I stomp to the window and slam it shut, muttering under my breath. As I prepare to return to my zen state, the dryer buzzes a final warning that my load is done and for a moment I hesitate. (NO, you’re gonna get back on the floor and you’re gonna relax!) I return to my seated position on the floor, close my eyes and focus on the soft voice just as it says, ‘ok, I want you to return to a state of consciousness now. Wiggle your fingers and toes. Open your eyes and feel the sense of contentment within yourself. Face the remainder of your day now with confidence and a renewed peace.’  Really?

As I fold my now wrinkled laundry, I glance out the window and note the crows have indeed crapped all over my deck. Lovely. But that’s ok, cause I’m at peace in my head now, right?

meditation.jpg

 

Old Flames

It’s interesting to reflect on the relationships we’ve had over the course of our lives. More interesting though, is our take on these same relationships in  maturity. Young girls day dream about their perfect husband and spend countless hours practicing their signature as Mrs Someone. Young boys, oblivious to the ‘relationship’ aspect, just fantasize about a good looking busty girl, willing to play – the future of any relationship has no relevance to them, not now. (I recall a friend describing her daughters high school prom with disgust. After spending hundreds on dresses, some of these young girls got drunk and vomited on their gowns. Her husband, in defense of the impetuous youths, cut her off and said, “guys don’t care about that…just wipe off that vomit and lets go make out!”)

The high school or university sweetheart we had usually ends there. Some carry on and eventually marry. Many part ways as they enter their new working lives, and it’s often here they meet their destined partner, if they are so destined at all. We all know the cool guys and girls at school because they were never seen alone, ie, they had to have ‘someone’ and back then we envied them their popularity. Today when I think back, I wonder that it wasn’t their insecurity we were actually witnessing. That they had to have someone, always, tells me they aren’t confident enough to be alone, and to see how some of these old flames have fared in life is interesting.

One such old flame who moved on to new adventures (ok, he dumped me) did well, quite well actually, and for the longest time I resented that because the wounded young girl me still felt jilted. Over time I came to realize our parting (I mean he really dumped me, but I’m not bitter) was destiny, and the best thing for both of us. In hindsight we had nothing in common, contrary personalities, and conflicting priorities, and I have to admit we would not have had a happy future together. I see that now and I’m glad he’s done well. (ok, I bit my tongue on that one)

An encounter with another old flame (that’s it, I only had 2) a few years ago was an eye opener. I met him at a mall with his current wife, and I was startled at his transformation. I recalled a low key, conservative guy. These two reminded me of Al and Peggy Bundy, from “Married with Children”. He had bleach blonde curly hair, wore a thick gold chain around his neck and sported a diamond studded pinky ring, that he played with continuously. His wife had long brown puffy hair (and I mean Annette Funicello puffy) and was wearing a very tight one piece leopard skin body suit. (Jesus, where do you even find something like that?) Both were in their mid fifties so you can imagine how synthetic this looked. (ok, this one didn’t dump me, I dumped him, but boy, did I dodge a bullet or what?)

I believe every encounter in our lives serves a purpose. It fashions who we become, so I suppose any time spent with those now deemed losers, was not wasted. In truth, this fellow was still a really nice guy, just a flashy middle aged man clinging to his youth – and there’s no crime in that. (He should get an award for sheer nerve in going out in public that way though)

Then there’s the popular girl every guy drooled over. She was always asked out, seldom spent weekends at home; the ‘it’ girl. In all fairness, the one I knew was lovely, and a really nice person. Fast forward 35 years and she is alone, much to the surprise of all. She’d had relationships over the years but none panned out, so she chose to remain single and she was ok with that. Last I heard she was living with, and caring for, her elderly mother. Not the future we all envisioned for her, but it was her chosen path. (I’m also betting that she must’ve dated some real losers if living with her aging mother was the better choice)

We all know the someone who ‘has to have a partner’. They’re everywhere and you have to feel sorry for them. They have an endless trail of former loves and are registered with several dating services, always looking for that perfect someone, because God forbid, they should be alone. They scour the ‘chatting’ options online, partake of speed dating and literally live to find their next mate because without them, they are nothing. (how sad is that) If there’s one thing I’ve learned it’s that not everyone is meant to live the traditional life; you know, marry Mr Perfect, have 2.5 children, a cocker spaniel, and the white picket fence. Some people are actually happier alone. (and they usually have wonderfully busy social lives)

I have a number of unattached friends, who are so by choice, and I admire their self-confidence. These are individuals secure in their own right. They are outgoing, vivacious and popular, and do not feel compelled to saddle themselves with a partner for the sake of ‘having someone’. Bravo!

For those of us who were destined to walk this path with a partner, choose wisely and be realistic, at every age. We don’t stay young and perky forever so you need to love what’s inside so much more than what’s outside. I am fortunate that the love of my life still fits the bill as my handsome prince (actually, it was his sense of humour that won me over but he doesn’t feel the love when I tell him that) He’s a little older, balder, pudgier even, but who am I to judge? I’ve put on a couple of pounds, scaled back the ‘sexy’ in my wardrobe, sport industrial underwear, and traded in my stilleto’s for sensible shoes. (we can’t stay young forever)

Last fall I bumped into an old flame (yep, the one that hurt) and as much as I knew I was over him, I still wanted to show him what he missed out on. I sucked in my excess middle and stood proudly tall, head held high (it stretches out the wrinkles on my neck when I do that) After we each regaled the other with tales of our triumphs in life, we parted ways.  (We had to. If I didn’t exhale soon my eyes would blow off my head)

As I strolled away, I glanced over my shoulder and noted his gait was slow and his pants were secured with a belt just under his armpits. “Yep, dodged another bullet”, I muttered to myself.  As I shuffled away cursing the damp weather that aggravated my arthritis riddled hip, I rubbed my neck (to allow my neck wrinkles to redistribute) and thought “oh yeah, he missed out alright”.

Old Flames

Some days just aren’t worth navigating

I wake up each morning expecting a normal day. I’m an average person, living an average life, so my days should unfold routinely, largely because I make them so. I am a creature of habit but every now and then destiny messes with my head.

On one such morning I awoke totally unaware of what my day held in store for me, but clearly my guardian angels, God, destiny, somebody/anybody decided to wreak havoc with my life.

After getting my two eldest children off to school, I pack up my youngest, an adorable 18 month old boy, (my darling angel baby whom I love, even though he was a horrendous barfer) and head off to the grocery store. I get a prime parking spot and the place is empty, perfect! This day is starting off well.

Plop my #1 son into the seat of the cart and off I go. As I scan the racks of fresh loaves of bread, I feel a tap on my shoulder and turn to see an elderly Asian woman, who says, “scuse me lady, that your baby eating those donuts?”  I turn to find my darling has done a face plant in a display of chocolate donuts  (who makes these displays accessible from a grocery cart?) Mortified I peel the 6 pack of donuts off his face noting he’s already ingested half the pack, including plastic wrap (that’ll be pretty next diaper change) and sadly I see he’s ‘man-handled’ another 2 packages. Great, guess we’re buying those. I fumble in my purse for tissue to clean the chocolate off his face. A kind faced young man, obviously an employee, hands me a paper towel, which I gratefully accept. It’s dry and does little, but beggars can’t be choosers, and the kid was trying to be nice. That stuff is sticky and it’s there to stay until bath time. Ok, movin’ on.

Regaining my composure I head to produce. (after tightly strapping the seatbelt in the grocery cart to my kid, and wedging my purse in beside to minimize mobility)

I look over the veggies, grope a few (not sure why, but I’ve seen it on tv) and finally reach in for my selection, a nice robust bunch of carrots,,,, just as the sprinklers come on. (That’s ok, my face needed a good cleansing) Stepping back to wipe off my face I hear several ‘thuds’ close by. It appears my ‘little darling’ managed to reach a display of cantaloupes and sent several tumbling across the aisle. Some cracked, making a lovely mess. A couple just rolled across the floor so I quickly kicked them under the booth to avoid notice. Woulda worked too, if I hadn’t glanced up and seen the produce guy standing there watching me…… hold on,,,,, it’s same kid who helped me in the bakery. (looking not so kind this time) Rats, ok, mildly embarrassed. Movin’ on.

Strapping my ‘little brat’ tighter into the cart, I mosey on to institutional products, laundry soap, softener, etc.  Surely to God, I’m safe here. I glance around and am relieved to see I am alone in the aisle and my child is engrossed in the workings of his zipper. (should I be worried?)  I scan the options for laundry soap – why is there such a variance in price? While I read the labels to see what they do and don’t do for my clothes (I’m nothing if not diligent) I hear yet another ‘thud’ and my heart sinks. You got it. My ‘little burden’ managed to reach a bottle of softener, and how he pulled it off the shelf is still a mystery. Nevertheless, it hit the floor, splattering softener everywhere.  (Ok, is it not the responsibility of the manufacturer to ensure the lid is tightly closed?) I look up to see the same kid (looking totally annoyed now) heading toward me, mop and bucket in tow, and I could swear I heard him muttering something. I utter my apologies, shrug helplessly, and rush out of the aisle cursing my husband (because, oh no, two isn’t enough, had to go for the boy)

Believe it or not, I actually managed to get through the balance of my shop without incident and rolled up to the cashier, finally relaxing. We load everything onto the gurney, she bags, chats about how cute my baby is, blah, blah, blah, and she gives me my total. I reach for my purse only to find it’s empty. When I used it to wedge my  little hellian into the cart seat, I never imagined he’d open it. (I was just happy he was quiet)

Worried that my wallet is somewhere out there, and hugely embarrassed that I can’t pay, now (until I find  my wallet) I rush to explain what happened and as I do, I note that her ‘bagging boy’ is the same employee who’d witnessed each of my episodes. (what is this kid, spiderman? Could he be stalking me? Or maybe the grocery police searching for wayward toddlers? Ok,  I have to admit, at this point I would’ve gratefully turned mine in) Thankfully enough, the two see my anguish, and to avoid a scene (which I was prepared to provide) they get on their internal intercom to get help finding the contents of my purse.

Mercifully someone found my wallet in produce (amidst the cantaloupes) and turned it in. Relieved that my wallet was in tact (but lamenting the loss of my favourite # 285 “Pinkelicious” lipstick which remains at large) I pay my bill and hastily exit the store (much to the relief of the staff)

I make it to the car uneventfully, hastily load my groceries into the trunk, return the cart, and heave a final sigh of relief that I managed to get through the ordeal of the morning without further incident.  I take a few deep breaths to calm my rattled nerves and turn on the radio. Humming along with Anne Murray I roll into my turn exiting the parking lot and there out of the corner of my eye I see a toddler sobbing in the seat of a grocery cart in the cart corral.  Rats!

Some days just aren’t worth navigating!

baby in grocery cart

The Life of Riley

According to the dictionary, The Life of Riley is defined as a carefree, comfortable, and thoroughly enjoyable way of living”,,,,,,,,,,, and my husband is living it!

When I ruminate on the nature of my relationship with my partner I can’t help but see some glaring inequities in the split of responsibilities, specifically household responsibilities. Life comes with chores; that’s just the way it is, so it puzzles me to see how men and women differ in their acceptance of said chores. Men don’t see the need in tidying up – “what’s wrong with a little dust?” Laundry only needs washing when one runs out of underwear, right?  But the best is “I would do it, but you do it so much better than me.”

I don’t think my husband is unique here. Men in general just don’t place as much importance on the completion of mundane tasks as women do, but they still have to be done, and I think men have figured out that if they put it off long enough women will eventually get tired of nagging and just do it themselves. (they’re smarter than we think,,,who knew?)

Last weekend was Canada Day and we had company coming for dinner on both Saturday and Sunday. Fortunately for me, it rained on both days which meant golf was off  and I could count on an extra pair of hands to help prepare our home for company……right? (oh please, don’t make me say it…….WRONG!)

My day started early, preparing food, doing laundry, setting the table and cleaning bathrooms. My darling got up at 9:30, spent his day reading the paper, cover to cover, (he needs to stay informed) watching the LPGA, (just because) and warming various couches and chairs. Thinking he’d eventually realize I was the only one working (how stupid am I?) and that maybe he should contribute, I brought up the vacuum and pointedly left it in the middle of the living room. He stepped around it to get to the computer where he parked himself to indulge in some country music on You Tube. (he got tired of reading) Eventually he got bored here too, and realizing I was finally working upstairs (unclogging the bathroom drain, cause “he doesn’t know how”)  he saw an opportunity to turn off my radio (I always have my radio on when cleaning) and switched on the family room  tv. By the time I’d finished my chores and taken a quick shower, it was 6:40pm. I came into the kitchen and noted he was now in his lazyboy, sporting a cocktail, when he hollered over his shoulder  “what’s for dinner?” I stepped over the vacuum and etched an appropriate expletive in the dust on our coffee table.

Message received. Ten minutes later I could hear the vacuum running throughout the house and the hum of the microwave as he rushed to defrost soup for dinner. (a healthy fear of your wife is good)

Now I can’t lay all the blame on this poor helpless sloth. He was groomed from a young age to do absolutely nothing and I, foolishly and continuously, enabled it over the years. No more.

Three months ago my darling husband of 35 years retired, (one year after I) and despite his resolution to keep active in retirement he’s done nothing (and I mean nothing) to date, except play golf, plan to play golf, and ‘unwind’ (from what?) so I’ve taken matters into my own hands. Putting to an end his “Life of Riley” he now has a ‘to-do’ list on my kitchen cupboard and is required to tackle a minimum of 1 task per week plus help regularly with household chores, daily. No more will he sit idly by while others hustle around him.

Happy wife. Happy life. (or tomorrows headline will read “Recent retiree slain by irate housewife”)

Happy retirement…..to both of us!

Man relaxing                         woman housework

Opinions

We all have them…… and nobody wants them.

At some point we have all been asked, “What do you think?”, or some variation of this question, and for the most part we take it lightly, often shrugging it off, and sometimes, regrettably, giving our honest opinion.

At the end of the day, no one really wants it. When someone asks your opinion, they really want reassurance, your support even, but not your honest opinion (unless it coincides with theirs….and that rarely happens)

How many men have survived the old ‘do you think I’m fat’ question? (I recently complained to my husband about some extra padding I’d acquired over the past year fully expecting a diplomatic lie to salvage my dwindling confidence. He said, “that’s ok, I’m fat too, so we match.”) Men have the unfortunate habit of answering honestly (unless they see it could get them into trouble, then they lie, and fast!)  but sadly most men don’t see that land, mine until it’s too late. Women, on the other hand, will quickly point out your misgivings with a complimentary twist to minimize the sting. “No no, you’re not fat, it’s supposed to look like that.” They’ll tell you where you’re fat, where you’re bulging, etc, and thank God that they do because otherwise how will we know our imperfections, right?

Wrong. As women we women are, sadly, our own worst critics. Too fat, too thin, too short. too tall, we see ourselves as so imperfect. Men seem to have it all together (God, that just sticks in my craw) They see beauty in all women, in all children, in cars, even in all men. (Jeez, my husband sees beauty in a nice lawn) Everything and everyone is acceptable to them without criticism. All they need is clean underwear, a woman and a beer, and life is good. Beyond that they have no opinion. Aren’t they lucky.

So what is it with we females that we have to analyze and criticize ourselves to the point of eating disorders and phobias? Is it the whole mating thing? We think men ‘desire’ skinny, sexy, stupid females…….so we fashion ourselves to meet this criteria in order to ‘catch a man’? The male opinion is more accepting of who they are; who we are, and less judgmental of everyone. The female population could learn a lot from them about acceptance, not only of others, but of themselves. (God, I hate saying that, because it’s true) If you really want an honest opinion, ask for it, but be prepared to hear it straight, good or bad. If you can’t handle the unpleasant truth (and you likely already know what it is) don’t ask.

I was always taught that if you can’t say something nice, say nothing at all – easier said than done, but definitely worth the effort. Life is full of enough unpleasantness so when the urge to give your opinion hits, bite your tongue, several times if necessary. What’s the worst that could happen…….you spare someone’s feelings? Eventually you’ll feel better for having kept your opinion to yourself because at the end of the day, nobody really wanted it anyway……sigh.

opinions