Are You Taking Care Of Yourself?

We read about it all the time, right? How self-care is important. How we (women) must learn to set aside time for US. How we spend so much energy and effort caring for others – children, husbands, parents, friends – that we often end up at the bottom of our own totem poles. We neglect our own needs because we are so tired from tending to everyone else’s needs that when we get a moment to ourselves we crash on the bed. THAT is our idea of self-care. Grabbing some sleep so that we can do it all (for others) tomorrow.

Okay, so that’s the spin. I will admit right here and now that it’s the spin but it’s not really my personal truth. I am one of the fortunate ones who has time for self-care. Yes I have a son who requires attention on occasion and I have a man who does as well. But they are both adults and quite capable of tending to themselves. I have friends who need to talk and sometimes drink some wine (and that of course is never a hardship) and I have family to cook for (also not a struggle) and a part-time job which I enjoy immensely. Oh yeah, there’s also a dog that needs walking.

But I am in no way run ragged. Which is why I have the time and opportunity to muse on this subject. Because I do see so many women who ARE run ragged. And that’s why I have decided we need a self-care handbook. Something quick and easy to remind us how important WE actually are.

Years ago I had a friend who was a single mother, working full time to earn a living and raise her daughter. I often tended to that daughter after school until mom would stop by for some wine and dinner (and to pick up her kid).  She always said to me “Oh, I wish I had time to work out. I want to lose 20 lbs and feel fitter but I just don’t have time.”

In those days I was still working full time and my job involved a 40 minute commute each way and I still got up early so that I could log 20 minutes on the treadmill before I hit the road. And so I asked her “Why not just get up a bit earlier and log 20 minutes on the treadmill?”

And she replied “Oh God no. I’d much rather sleep.”

Aha. There’s the question. What speaks more to self-care? Working out or sleep?

You decide.

Then there was another friend. who rarely took a sip of wine. She couldn’t because she was always driving her kids somewhere. Sports, music, school activities and then there were appointments and full-time work to boot. That girl was always running somewhere. She never seemed to have a moment to breathe … or sip.

Until that rare night occurred when she did. And that dear girl would sip so enthusiastically she’d be blind-drunk in two hours.

Now I understand that we do need to tend to our kids but I also understand that sometimes we have to tend to our own needs. Breathe. Sip. Chill. Take care of self.  And I don’t mean once a month when a rare moment arrives. I mean weekly. Even daily.

My favourite time of day is 5pm. The music comes on, a glass of wine gets poured and dinner prep begins. My beloved knows that this is the perfect time for him to get lost. I don’t mean out in the big bad city, I mean go to your office and DO something. I don’t want to talk. I don’t want to hear about your day (yet). I want to listen to music (loudly) and create something delicious for us to share. THAT is my daily therapy. THAT is my daily self-care.

I am fortunate that he takes nothing personally and happily escapes to his lair.

But my self-care is not all wine and Carole King.  It also takes discipline. That dog gets walked every morning no matter what the weather or my disposition. I have to be really sick to forego that walk. And it’s not so much because the dog needs it. it’s because I need it. I need to zone out, commune with the Universe, get my heart rate up and hopefully even work up a bit of sweat. Yes even this morning in -10C I came home somewhat damp because I walk hard. I walk hard because my high blood pressure and mental well-being demand it.

And that’s the funny thing. I’ve been walking hard for over 20 years. It is no longer a chore. It is my joy. My happy addiction. It is the self-care I never knew I needed and now can’t live without.

And that’s the thing, isn’t it?  You’ll never really know what your daily joy is until you live it daily.  Until you find the time to discover it, practice it, make it a priority and then do it again tomorrow. We can all be disciplined in what we eat or how much alcohol or water we drink or less caffeine and more green vegetables and blah blah blah. But what about joy? Daily self-care joy?

There is a moment in Elizabeth Gilbert’s book “Eat, Pray, Love” where she is in Rome and walks past an upscale lingerie store. This is not a familiar place in her shopping repertoire but she goes in nonetheless, spends a fortune on lacy underthings, goes back to her apartment and lays out a picnic. A picnic for one.  And then in her very expensive silky new nightie she sits on the floor and delights in that beautiful repast. Alone and content. She is no longer shackled to a man or his needs. THIS moment is ALL about her desires.  HER sensual pleasures. Spending time (and money) on herself simply because SHE is worth it.

I love that moment. And yes, I get it.  Those expensive lingerie picnics are a one-off.  But most magical moments are, right? Why not create one just for yourself?

Many moons ago when I was profoundly broken-hearted I was finding it difficult to eat dinner, much less make it (just for myself). But one night I decided that LACK of self-care had to stop. So I put on some very loud music and danced around my kitchen.  Like crazy dancing, the kind we did back in high school. Once I had completely exhausted myself I set out to cook dinner. I don’t remember what I cooked but is was a true grownup meal, not just cheese and crackers. I lit a candle, put on some jazz and sat at the table like a proper adult enjoying my creation. Alone. Not even the cat joined me.

And that moment made me laugh. And then made me proud. Because I had spent so many years cooking for men and kids and friends and family I didn’t even know what it felt like to cook just for me. I learned.

We learn in increments. By trial and error. But the word trial involves TRYING. We have to at least try to feed our bliss, walk off our stress, bathe in lavender serenity or listen to music loudly while cooking. Whatever it is that leads to our caring of self, we must practice regularly.

Without guilt.

There it is – your self-care handbook. Figure out what makes YOU happy and then do it regularly.  Yes, even if those around you suffer with the loss of your ever-available selflessness. They’ll figure themselves out eventually.

You figure yourself out. Care for yourself. Love yourself.  Make yourself a priority.  At least sometimes.

Because you know why?

You’re worth it.

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The Beginning Of A New Journey

Do you know when a new journey begins? Every day. Every single day. THAT is when a new journey begins.

This magnificent revelation came to me this morning when I was vacuuming up evergreen needles from our living room floor. It hit me that, as much as I love Christmas and all its fancy finery, I also love January when life gets back to normal.

If you know me at all, you know that I love the festive season. I start decorating in November, at about the same I start listening to holiday music. By December 1 it’s pretty much all holiday music all the time and our home is fully festooned. I mean I even decorate the powder room and my son’s bedroom!

And I can honestly say this past December was one of the best. As in … ever.

Why?

Because I stopped trying to be all things to all people and I stopped accepting every invitation and I stopped fighting for relationships that no longer serve me or my well-being and I stopped sweating anything that was even vaguely small and I stopped expecting a “magical Christmas.”

Instead I just took it as it came. I loved on old friends and new ones alike. I saw (almost) everyone my heart requested and was thus blessed with family time, son time, girlfriend time, yoga time, couple time, puppy time and music time. I ate well, drank well, laughed well and still kept walking.

And you know what happened? When I stopped expecting a “magical Christmas” I actually got one. Because I discovered that magic doesn’t come from the perfect gift (given or received) or the perfect party (hosted or attended) or the perfect romance, friendship, family dynamic or even song.

Magic comes from embracing every moment with people you love. Even yourself.

But magic also comes from not hanging on. Not hanging on to perceptions, notions, approaches or expectations. Magic comes when you let go of anything or anyone that is counter-intuitive to your own well-being. Magic comes when you prioritize YOUR people without apology.

But hey, magic also comes when you are vacuuming balsam needles and looking forward to a new month and a new year. Magic comes when relishing the changing of the season, whether from summer to fall or spring to summer or even, dare I say, Christmas to January. Sure, people talk about the January blahs and I suppose they may show up. But today on this first day of a new year I have January excitement! January optimism! January intoxication!

Not from the wine, honest. From the anticipation of what this new year will bring. This new journey.

I have long been a morning person. And I finally figured out why. You wake up, you pour that first cup of coffee and you wonder with childlike anticipation what the day will bring. It could be anything. It could be everything! It’s a blessed marvel just waiting to unfold. Kinda like Christmas morning.

That is exactly how I felt this morning. The antique ornaments were lovingly wrapped in tissue and stored away. The twinkle lights (well, most of them) packed up. Our most beautiful tree out back, naked yet noble, awaiting the charity pick-up this weekend. The needles vacuumed away for another year.

It is January and we are ready. I am ready. Ready for the new journey which begins today.

And will begin again tomorrow morning. And the next and the next and the next.
It doesn’t require tinsel or twinkle lights or shortbread or champagne.

All I have to do is wake up tomorrow morning and pour that first cup of coffee. Whether January 2 brings magic or mundane is yet to behold. I can hardly wait to find out.

Happy Journey, my friends. Happy Newest Day and Happy Newest Year.

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So Why Exactly DO We Have To Put The “Christ” Back In Christmas?

Sorry folks, but I am really tired of watching that meme float around my social media universe. Really tired.

Don’t get me wrong. I’m all for anyone and everyone having an opinion. I’m all for anyone and everyone LIVING their opinion (as long as it doesn’t hurt anyone else). I just have difficulty with sanctimonious drivel. I have even more difficulty with people who are incapable of opening their hearts and seeing a bigger picture.

See the thing is, I don’t think you have to say “Merry Christmas.” But if you want to say Merry Christmas please, by all means say it. And if you want to say Happy Holidays or Season’s Greeting say that. I simply do not believe that the actual spirit of Christmas is served in any way by narrowing down our salutationary (yes, I just made up that word) options. What? We’re only allowed one? Because of course Christmas is a Christian holiday marking the birth of Christ (who of course we all know was a Jew) so we better make damn sure we get his name in there somewhere, right?

Wrong.

Because to me Christmas is something so much more than a religious event. To me it is a time to be a little kinder. A little gentler with yourself and those around you. A time for generosity. A time to be reminded that giving is a good thing. Giving to the poor, the homeless, the forgotten, the disenfranchised. A time to include EVERYONE in your circle of love. No matter what their religion and no matter how they greeted you on the street.
I mean seriously, wasn’t that Christ’s mandate? To love and accept everyone? Like, even Conservatives?

Kidding.

Kinda.

That’s what I don’t get. Why was it cool for Jesus the Jew to love and accept everyone and not give a flying hoot if there was Christ in Christmas? But now I am supposed to. I am supposed to proclaim loudly that I am a CHRISTIAN who insists that two words and ONLY two words be used during this festive (oops … bad choice of word) season?
Um … nope. Please be festive. Even if you’re not a Christian please be loving and kind and generous and festive. The spirit can exist amongst all of us, regardless of our personal beliefs.

Years ago I happened to be dating a lovely Jewish man and come holiday (oops again) time I invited him to my office soiree. It was Hanukkah and he had to light a candle first but he did show up (late) and we had a marvelous evening. Celebrating Christmas with my colleagues. I didn’t care and HE didn’t care that he was an orthodox practicing Jew. What we cared about was each other and sharing the season (I’m not saying oops again).

My son, whilst becoming a rock star, works in the hospitality industry in Toronto. He doesn’t have a hard time getting Christmas Eve, Day and even Boxing Day off work (he loves Christmas and being with his family) and you know why? Because the hospitality industry in large cities is populated with non-Christians. And they are more than happy to work the holidays. And to those fabulous folk I say “Thank you and God bless!” (you pick your deity). I am SO grateful to you because YOU are the reason I get to celebrate with my son.

Do I make a conscious effort to say Happy Holidays to those wonderful people? Ya know … cause they don’t believe in Jesus?

Nope. I say Merry Christmas because that’s what I say. That’s what I’ve always said. Even in England (where I have spent many holidays) where everyone says Happy Christmas I always said Merry Christmas. It’s how I grew up. It’s what makes me happy. Yes, Merry makes me Happy.

But please know beyond any doubt that I don’t say Merry Christmas because I am keeping the Christ in Christmas. I know far too many people who haven’t been to church in decades (apart from weddings and funerals) who have posted that stupid meme. No offence my friends, but walk your talk or please embrace silence. Because here’s the one thing I do know – the God of Jews, Muslims, Buddhists and Christians ALL preaches love. And that should be enough.

That should be ENOUGH in December and it should also be ENOUGH in January when the tree is down, the presents are unwrapped and the carols are no longer sung. Love, acceptance, inclusion … should be enough.

I think Christ would have agreed.

So please … say what you want, believe what you want, celebrate what you want and love who you want. Just don’t ask me to blindly be a sheep, simply because you re-posted a meme. The truth is I don’t think that meme is Christian at all.

I don’t think that meme is anything.

I think the Grinch said it best (I wonder what religion HE was?).

“What if Christmas, perhaps, means a little bit more?”

I’m pretty sure it does.

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What Is Your Type … and Why Do You Even Have One?

I have a bunch of single friends and I, aspiring to be cupid when and if I can, am always attempting to fix them up. More often than not, however, after I’ve offered up a descriptor or a photo, I am rejected firmly with a “Sorry, not my type.”

This reminds me of a story from back in my band-on-the-road days. Our keyboard player was very talented but a bit of an odd duck socially. He was always trying to find a girlfriend so I once asked the bandleader what A’s type was. He responded with a laugh “His type? Two arms, two legs, that’s his type!”

So when people now talk to me about type I think … why? Why do you have a type? Why have you narrowed your pond to just the goldfish and the angelfish? Have you ever tried a different school? Oh my Cod, if you haven’t then please let minnow why not? Did you lobster and never flounder? You hate shrimpy dudes? You’re not interested in a crab with no sole?

Okay I apologize.

But I just don’t get it. And so I want to float this idea by you.

Okay sorry again. Please … don’t tuna me out here.

Why have a type? Why limit yourself before even starting? Why not approach every prospective suitor as the individual they are, get to know them and THEN decide if they are your type?

My pal G definitely had a type. Tall, thin, pretty – that was his type. When he met F he liked her immediately. They shared interests, ideals, passions and senses of humour. And she was damn pretty. But F wasn’t tall or slim. She wasn’t fat either but he described her as “chunky”.

So even though it was obvious she was totally into him and he totally enjoyed her company he back-burnered her completely when R came along. Because R was his type. He was SO going to explore a romance with R because she was tall and slim. That was his type.

What G didn’t factor in was that R was also haughty, self-absorbed and demanding. Like seriously demanding. And when, after a few months, all of those delightful traits came to light G hoofed it out of there as fast as he could and guess where he ended up? Yep … back with F.

Guess where he still is 6 years later. With F. He is happy as a clam (oops, sorry again) with F and they are making a pretty fantastic life together.

I say “Yay G” because he learned an incredibly valuable lesson and for most dudes past the age of, say, 35, that is virtually impossible. He learned that his “type” was not the be-all and end-all. Sure it might be a starting point but it can just easily be an ending point if your “type” doesn’t factor in at least a hundred variables.

P also had a type. Back in high school P only wanted to date the good-looking dudes. The popular boys. The jocks. She was a damn pretty girl and she had her pick. Never mind that M totally adored her and was pretty much her best buddy. No way she was going to date M because he had a big nose. And he was super smart and maybe a little geeky. Nope … she was going to date the super-cute dude and in fact not only date the super-cute dude but marry the super-cute dude. See ya later, M!

Until many years and a few children later she discovered that super-cute dude was cheating on her. Pretty much all over town. But not before M had resurfaced. After a couple of decades and a burst of newfound technology M showed up in her inbox. What a surprise! His nose was still big. So was his bank account. And his lifestyle. His job. M’s world was fucking huge because he had made a huge success of his brainy geekiness.

They never did end up together even though P did leave super-cute dude. M too was married and that was that. But P told me wistfully that it would always be a regret. She would always regret choosing her “type” over honest exploration and discovery.

And then there’s me. Yeah, I know, there’s always me.

I was playing at a bar in my twenties, middle of August, deathly hot. It was an old hotel so not much AC. During one of our breaks I was chatting with the bartender about the heat and I said “You know what I need up in my room is a fan. I need a fan!”

And the dude sitting alone a few seats away started to clap. He just started to slowly clap while his eyes remained glued to the television.

I was feeling pretty bold because I had just spend exactly 7 minutes chatting with the best-looking dude in the room who had turned out to be not only extremely handsome but extremely boring so I strutted over to clapping-guy and exclaimed “Why are you clapping?”

“You said you needed a fan,” he replied sardonically. “Here I am.”

Hilarious.

Long story short we spent some time talking, he invited me out to dinner, I accepted (hey, I was a poor musician and free dinners were magnificent!) and we ended up dating for almost a year. I can assure you clapping-boy was not my type at all. Best-looking dude was my type. Until I actually got to know them both.

Can you spell tables-turned?

So if you are single and still searching for your type, I ask you to write down ALL of those attributes and then … throw that paper in the trash can. Because trust me, you truly have no idea what the heck your type is until you fall in love with him.

I’m 5’6″. I still like high heels so the possibility exists that on date night I will be 5’9″. For this very reason, back in my on-line dating days, I never even considered anyone under that height. Ever. Even the guys who said “Hey it won’t matter in bed!” … hugely funny and please read that with sarcasm dripping.

This was a ridiculous choice when I remember that one of the great loves of my life was 5’8″. Well he would argue 5’8.5″ but whatever. He was no basketball player and yet I adored him. And since then I have adored other vertically-challenged dudes. Oops … was that politically correct?

What I mean is I thought my type was “tall” but maybe it is not?

I also enjoyed (sometimes) a 2 year relationship with a tee-totaling vegetarian. Yes me, the certifiable lush who delights in ripping barbecued flesh from the bone learned how to drink tea and cook tofu.

Sorry. That was a lie. I did learn how to cook tofu. Whilst drinking wine. Because as we know, in every relationship compromise is key.

My point is that dude was tall. But he wasn’t other things. And eventually other things got in the way.

And then there’s my darling ex. Of British extraction and I spent so much time in England, a country with merit but not exactly my soul’s home, visiting his family and wondering if our child would also have bad teeth, I vowed my next lover would be Italian! British is just not my type!!

Guess what? My current lover is …

British. And I mean the real deal with the accent and everything. And guess what else? We go to England every year to visit family.

And guess what else?

I like it. I like England and I like his family and I like visiting and then, well sometimes we … hop over to Italy.

My point is … I gave up. On types. I gave up on criteria. I logged on to exploration and discovery and POSSIBILITY and I gave up on any other guidelines.

Henceforth I solemnly swear that the only type I shall entertain is the type I type when I type this blog.

The ocean is FULL of fish.

Please do not carp if you can’t reel in your type. Expand your net. Adjust your perch. Scale different heights. Don’t trout …

Okay … you know I meant pout and now I think I’m done with horrible puns.
Seriously … try something different. Something new. Something against type.

Just for the halibut.

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Are You Aging Gracefully or Gratefully?

Today I visited my dear friend G. In hospice.

G is just a few years older than I am and has pancreatic cancer.

He also has a thousand watt smile that still lights up the room. A sharp mind and beautifully articulate voice. A fortitude that defies his prognosis and yet a dignified and reasoned acceptance of his fate. He is an absolute marvel.

So is his mother. She just turned 103 and today he said with resignation and also perhaps a tiny bit of pride “She will probably outlive me.”

When I left my dear friend after our visit I was overcome with gratitude. Gratitude not only for knowing him and loving him but gratitude to have been given a chance to share THIS part of his journey too. Gratitude for ALL the memories we made. And yes – maybe selfishly – gratitude that I am still here on this planet, alive and ready to kick some more.

And then I got to thinking about the concept, typically applied only to women, about aging “gracefully.” I just read a Facebook post about this and I think (could be wrong) what that poster meant was aging “naturally.” So I wondered – who decided that natural and graceful were synonymous? And why is graceful so important? I mean damn, sometimes I’m as clumsy as an ox and I’m pretty sure I’ll never be a fan of wrinkles and gray hair. You know, on me. On MY person.

And then it hit me. Aging “gracefully” is simply not on my agenda. If it’s on yours, and by the way you can define gracefully any way you like, then yay … go for it. But if you want to Botox your forehead and plump up those lips … go for it! Wash that gray right out of your hair … do it and go blonde! Get laser treatments and chemical peels and facials and a face-lift … it is YOUR call. And no one can tell you that you are not aging “gracefully” just because you would like to look as young as you feel.

No one.

By the way I think Jane Fonda is aging FABULOUSLY and fully admits to getting work done. I also believe so is Ali McGraw (remember Love Story?) and apparently she is all original.

The truth is – I do not care how you age.

What matters to me, for you AND for me, is that we are granted the privilege of aging. Whichever “higher power” deals those cards, or even if it is just random dumb luck, what matters to me is that IF we are given the opportunity to age we chose to age GRATEFULLY.

We don’t waste a single moment of the moments we have left. We love deeply and truly. We feel every emotion and heck, appreciate even the bad ones because every emotion reminds us that we are still in the game. We check in with the big picture, do not sweat the small stuff, express appreciation every single day and stop judging anyone, even backhandedly, for their choices.

We are all rare and beautiful individuals on unique journeys that, oddly enough, will end in the exact same place. G and I talked about that today. And as I love to say (in my best southern drawl) – “We all gonna die!”

So how we choose to LIVE, how we choose to facilitate our golden years – should we be so fortunate to enjoy them – is as exclusive as our fingerprints. You are the architect of ALL of your life.

Gratitude is such a simple thing. And yet a thing that some of us forget to express, feel and LIVE IN on a daily basis. Which I think is why I have blogged about it more than once. We ALL forget. We ALL need reminders. We ALL get so caught up in minutiae that we forget to be grateful for every single breath.

Those breaths are numbered.

I’m going to say that one more time my friends – THOSE BREATHS ARE NUMBERED.

Don’t waste them.

Be whoever it is you want to be in whatever package makes you feel yourself and do NOT let anyone else tell you you’re doing it wrong.

Just be grateful that you are still here.

Doing it.

Just like G.

 

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This Lady’s Not Home … (thank you Melissa Manchester)

Back in the 70s, on one of her first albums, Melissa Manchester sang a song called “This Lady’s Not Home Today.” Even then, when I was a mere babe, fresh and innocent, those lyrics resonated with me.

Got a house on the hill
And it’s constantly filled
With a number of passing acquaintances
But I’m tired and spent
From all the friendships well meant
And the rents getting high on my maintenance, Lord

In recent weeks I have found myself humming this very song over and over again, mostly under my breath. Not so much because of friendships well meant (although there have been a few of those) but more because I am feeling increasingly tired and spent.

Now I’m not a big fan of pity parties. I rarely throw them for myself and I sure as hell don’t like attending those thrown by others. We’ve all got shit, right? Figure it out and move forward. Don’t waste your life stalled in self-induced muck. Or even muck induced by others. Shovel that muck into a ditch or ditch the person mucking with you. I always thought it was fairly simple.

Until the muck really started to pile up on my head and I found myself drowning in it, even with shovel in hand madly scooping. I won’t bore you with the details of that shit-storm. Suffice to say it has been ongoing and suffocating.

But the worst part is it has sent my blood pressure skyrocketing. Yes I am already on meds and have been for quite some time – I was blessed with pregnancy induced hypertension when my son entered this world and it kinda stuck with me. I was also blessed with a genetic predisposition to big numbers. Both my mother and grandmother had high BP (and both lived long lives) but my father, with his LOW BP, made up for it with a decidedly Type A personality which he thoughtfully passed along to me (thanks Daddy).

So here I am, Type A with high BP and I sound like some fucked up alphabet soup about to boil over and splatter against the ceiling.

Actually, THAT is how my head feels. Like my brains are trying to escape through my ears and splatter … anywhere.

Okay damn, this IS sounding suspiciously like a pity party.

But here’s the point: the point is as much as I have been fighting the inevitable – “This lady’s not home today.”

I mean, she is, but she is unavailable for consultation.

Okay that is not true either. Today I have consulted with my son, my best friend, my partner, my sister, my neighbour and my dog.  Apparently I am unable to simply turn off. Oh, how I wish I could.

Well I can’t be a fool
Though I’d like to come through
With a satin edged blanket for comfort
But, I got needs of my own
I’ve been too long left alone
Without somebody shoulder’n my hurt, Lord

I am now consulting with a glass of Pinot Grigio , new medication and a new conviction to let the world carry on without me, at least for a few days, while I decompress and hope these ridiculous numbers drop. No more charitable endeavours, no more long “helpful” chats. No more picking up all the pieces and no more making all the plans.

No more.

Time off for good behavior
Time off to be my savior
Stay in touch with your indecision
So I’ll have something to return to
After this brief intermission

I DO want to return after this brief intermission. I would very much like to return with my brains still residing inside my skull. And when I DO return I want to be available. As I’ve always been available. For consultation, for conversation, for consideration and of course … for wine.

But I am reminded now of the plane/child/oxygen thing. Take care of yourself first or you won’t be taking care of anyone. Period.
And that is why …

Right now I’m relighting my fuses
And tending to my bruises
Trying to find my direction, Lord

MY direction is towards better health. Less stress. No more headaches. More vitality. All things that will lead me back to my people. The people who need me. The people I need.

Self-care is so incredibly important. So why do we leave it to languish at the bottom of our to-do lists? Are we so full of our deluded sense of self-worth that we don’t believe the planet will spin without our constant involvement?

I am probably more guilty of that particular brand of hubris than most.

But no more. The world will turn. And yes of course I will return to that turning world.

But – for now – I’m hanging out the sign:

Say do not disturb me this lady’s not home
Today.

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Say What You Need To Say

I was just yesterday told that I am an “open book” and that there aren’t very many people “like me”.

Perhaps. And I did take it as the compliment it was meant to be. And then I got to thinking …

Why aren’t there more people like me? Why doesn’t anybody else (or very few other elses) want to be open books? What good is a closed book? You get to read the title and the author’s name and maybe see a pretty picture on the cover and then pfft … you’re done.  Isn’t it way more fun to open the book and actually read it?

Of course the answer is fear, right? Everybody is afraid that if they become an open book someone will misread what is written, or misinterpret. And if they share all their secrets and tell all their truths it may backfire. They might end up getting hurt because I’ll tell you this – it is impossible to manipulate anything, any situation or any ONE if you are an open book. Absolutely impossible. Plus you up the odds that someone just might manipulate YOU.  Because once your truths are on the table, well baby you are naked. No more mystery, no more wondering, no more armour.

In his famous song John Mayer sings:
Have no fear for giving in
Have no fear for giving over
You’d better know that in the end
It’s better to say too much
Than never to say what you need to say again

John darling, I fully agree. HAVE NO FEAR. Because the worst thing that can happen is that you get hurt. You don’t get what you want. Or what you think you wanted (probably more realistic). But so what? If you said what you needed to say and you did it with the truest intentions and a heart wide open, then hold your head up high!

That’s was John says:
Even if your hands are shaking
And your faith is broken
Even as the eyes are closing
Do it with a heart wide open

Because there is absolutely nothing more beautiful and true than a heart wide open. Sure those clever, calculating, contriving and crafty creatures who never give anything (meaningful) away, play their cards ever-so-close to their chests and ALWAYS play to win (no matter what the prize), well they do seem to be the ones in charge.

But they are not. Trust me, it takes a lot of energy to keep your stories straight, your truth concealed and your heart fully protected. Quite frankly it is exhausting. And in the end, the only prize you win is … more prevarication. Sure you might win the round. You might save yourself from getting hurt. You might even carry on endlessly unscathed, flying way low under the radar.

What a horrible way to endure.

I would much rather be ON the radar. Flying freely. Wings fully extended. Heart wide open. Saying what I need to say.

Of course being an open book can also be exhausting. Living without any armour whatsoever tends to be somewhat bruising. And we all know bruises hurt.

But I have lived the other way. I know that pain too. It is much much worse.

Usually at this point in my ramblings I include some anecdotes about myself or people I know who have experienced whatever it is I am writing about.

Today there will only be one. Prefaced by a small bit of history.

Soon after my ex-husband and I split up, he and his new love condemned me for “sharing too much” with my son.  For being “too honest”.  For “speaking too freely to a child.”

Sure. Maybe. He was 12 and possibly wanting a few more Disney years. Heck, I was 47 and I wanted a few more Disney years.

What I did not want was any more lies. And more concealed truths. I wanted “heart wide open”. For ALL of us.

This morning, after a long chat yesterday, my son informed me that he had decided to “say what he needs to say.” It’s a delicate situation. It could be fragile. It could backfire. It could hurt him and it is fraught with many unknowns. There is no dodging the radar when he says what he needs to say. There is only belief. The firm and unequivocal belief that saying what he needs to say and accepting all ramifications is better … and healthier … than keeping it bottled up, behind glass, hidden away in a heart half-closed.

I have never been more proud of him.

And truth be told I have never been so proud of myself … as a mother. Because years ago I made a choice about what kind of mother I wanted to be. And I chose regardless of the nay-sayers who wanted me to NOT say what I needed to say.

I am so very very glad I made that choice.

My son (just like John):
Walking like a one man army
Fighting with the shadows in your head
Living out the same old moment
Knowing you’d be better off instead,
If you could only . . .

IF ONLY.

How many times have you uttered those two words to yourself?

IF ONLY.

Today my son torpedoed IF ONLY and said what he needed to say.

I will only take a small amount of credit. But hell yeah, I will take some. Apples and trees, right?  I’m so grateful he didn’t fall too far from mine. Grateful and proud.

Say what you need to say.  Heart wide open. It won’t matter if you are met with rejection, ridicule or even silence. The outcome is not yours to control. That would be manipulation.

But the truth? The truth is ALL yours.

Own it. Love it. Say it.

Say what you need to say.

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