I Am Naked.

Now before you go getting your knickers all in a knot, rest assured my knickers are still exactly where they should be (under my cut-off jeans). I have no problem being naked (literally) but I don’t make a habit of lounging around sans clothing on a daily basis.
When I say I am naked what I mean is I have finally (and I do mean after a long, exhausting, sometimes brutal haul) come to a place of absolute, comfortable, fully transparent vulnerability. I have shed my armour. I am a turtle without a shell. To the best of my ability I speak and act my truth. And here, with these musings, I write my truth. As a matter of fact, when I started this blog I discovered the phrase “The drunken tongue speaks the sober mind”. And I altered it to “The drunken pen writes the sober truth.”

Sure, I’ll freely admit a glass or two of wine always helps the truth shake free. And as long as you still have the wherewithal to share that truth succinctly and eloquently what is the problem with a bit of liquid courage?

The trouble is most people tend to drown their truths in gallons of alcohol. And then if anything escapes their drunken tongues it ends up being blitzed babble.

So let’s get back to me being naked. I did not coin this metaphor myself. It came to me last week from one of my dearest friends. We were discussing a text conversation I’d had with my ex. He’s great at sharing snippets of our son’s life, news of mutual friends and occasional family doings. But as soon as I say anything personal he shuts down.Immediately. And I’m not talking personal as in “what you used to do to me in bed”. I’m talking personal as in my health or my opinions. Shuts the conversation down like it never happened.

And my pal says to me “He can’t handle your nakedness, Vickie. You have long owned your shit, good, bad and horribly ugly and he can’t handle your willingness to bare it all to him even now, all these years after your marriage concluded.”

Maybe.

Maybe he just doesn’t care and I’m boring.

But I do see her point. Can you imagine if you were enjoying a nice dinner at a lovely bistro and suddenly your waiter appeared stark naked to take your order? Yeah. Might be a tad uncomfortable.

And that’s what I have discovered most people are like when metaphorical nakedness arrives on the scene. When someone is willing to share their whole truth damn the torpedoes no matter what the outcome of that outpouring … well, we get antsy. It’s awkward. And distressing. Because we as a society are unfamiliar with that amount of skin. We are unfamiliar with dealing with armourless humans. We have built a very civilized culture around acting correctly and saying the right things and not divulging too much and playing our cards close to our chests. We don’t dare bare our souls but to a few sacred few. Or anyone. Certainly not just about everyone.

Okay, so when I say I’m naked I don’t mean I run around engaging virtual strangers in discourse about my deepest secrets. What I am saying is the fear of getting hurt is no longer a driving force in my life. I’m going to repeat that because I think it is monumentally important – THE FEAR OF GETTING HURT IS NO LONGER A DRIVING FORCE IN MY LIFE.

Think about it. Think about your own life. Think about the last time you did/said/wrote anything that was not YOUR complete truth because you were protecting yourself. Protecting your heart, your soul, our facade, your veneer. Protecting the “public” you from humiliation and indignity.

Think about it. And then think about how often you actually fudge on the truth in order to protect your hard-won disguise. And before you clamour “I don’t wear no fucking disguise!” think about that too. Because we all do.

When I used to sing in public regularly, I painted on my disguise the moment I walked into the restaurant. I was charming and fun and super friendly and convivial with everyone and sometimes damn hilarious on stage. But then I found that more and more I was getting very emotional by the end of the evening. The music would really get to me. The smiling faces would overwhelm me (with gratitude). The wine would kick in and ultimately “Moon River” was more than I could handle and I would be singing with tears streaming. I mean, c’mon. “We’re after the same rainbow’s end, waiting round the bend, my Huckleberry friend, Moon River and Me.” How can you not weep?

Okay maybe that’s just me (or the wine). The point is, I could no longer manage my armour. And when it melted on the floor in a flood of tears I was done. Done.

Except I wasn’t. I was just done for that night. And the next month I’d go back and do it all again. BUT … for the longest time I was TRYING to keep that armour in place. Sing the damn songs, readjust my cloak and go home. And when I could no longer do it, I gave up singing in public. I’d like to believe my fans had got used to my nakedness. Maybe on some level they even found it endearing. But at that time I just couldn’t keep stripping down regularly. IN PUBLIC. It was too painful.

As with most things, the more you practice, the easier it becomes. And in recent years I have practiced nakedness with fervent regularity. I am not afraid of the repercussions because the fact is … there are none. When we own our vulnerability NO ONE can hurt us. Because we have already stated “OPEN TARGET!” You don’t shoot a guy in the back, right? And most humane souls will not further torture an open wound.

(and trust me, those who would are not worthy of your consideration or anxiety)

I truly believe it is WHEN we guard ourselves fiercely we become exposed. Assailable. Unsafe. We are so busy maneuvering we can’t even see the next hit. Until we are felled.
Try figuring out your truth. Then owning it. Not just in your mind but in real life. In real conversation. On paper. In a text.

A few evenings ago I was alone listening to music and a Michael McDonald song showed up. “I Can Let Go Now”. It is heartbreaking in its honesty and simplicity. And it has long spoken to me of my broken heart 15 years ago when “the love of my life” ditched me for the fourth and final time. It’s the song I kept longing to sing. To live!

On that night it brought me to my knees.

Because I realized I had not. Let go. For many reasons, none of which are important here. But the truth is I had not let go.

So I pulled myself off the floor and listened to that damn song 15 times. I guess one for each year. And then I sent that old love a text. I thanked him for the love that “tossed me so high I almost never came down”. I was grateful. I was sad. I asked him not to respond. And I wished him well.

I let go.

In all my nakedness I made a choice to let go. Not just in my head but FOR REAL. I chose vulnerability and I chose honesty and I CHOSE to make a conscious effort to abandon old hope and old pain. I made a choice to abandon some strange old power that boy still had over me. Well, maybe not him per se but the magic we made. The fairy tale we shared. The dream that was so difficult to let go of. But I did.

I let go.

And I did it officially. On paper. Un-take-backable.

Because THAT is important. You can do any number of things in your head but seriously they do not count. As my friend Tom Wade says – Don’t think it or imagine it if you’re not going to say it or do it.

So what happened after, you may be wondering.

Well … nothing.

I called my friend and she said “Oh my goodness GOOD ON YOU! You got naked again!”

And we laughed. And then I had a most lovely evening and slept like the babiest baby who ever babied.

Turns out nakedness is freeing. Immensely so. And now I am free.

It’s also really fucking heard, just so you know. Armour is way easier. Way more automatic. Way more manageable.

Nakedness however is freeing. It is blessed freedom at its finest. Please give it a go.

Who knows … if YOU do maybe tomorrow … I’LL go commando?

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The Two Arrows … Or Why Do You Keep Shooting Yourself AGAIN?

I’ve just finished reading a marvelous new book written by my old pal Thomas Wade. When I say old I mean we go back over 30 years, to that delightful time that we toured Canada together in a country band. Shenanigans, drunken debauchery, boredom, bedlam and broke-dom … we experienced it all together.

If you had told me then that Tom would go on to write a book like “Singing In My Sleep” I think I might have guffawed. At the very least I would have been incredulous. I love Tom and always have. He was (and still is) an amazing singer, hilariously funny guy, one of the best songwriters I know and cute as a button. Would I have believed years later he would write an inspirational yet scientifically fact-driven, keenly researched and beautifully presented tome documenting his journey through a little-known disorder called Dystonia?

Nope. Not in a million years.

I’m not going to tell you Tom’s story, fascinating as it is. I urge you to buy the book. What I would like to do is share some of the philosophies I personally earned from the author , tenets I did not previously know and nuggets of wisdom that are (or can be) life-changing.

I’ll begin with “the two arrows”, apparently based on an old Buddhist parable. It goes like this:
You get shot once. This first arrow comes from an outside source. Something happens to you that seems pretty much out of your control. You slam your finger in a car door. Some idiot cuts you off on the highway. You get lost in Toronto trying to find your son’s new apartment in a maze of one-way streets all going the wrong way and you drive around for what seems like hours, your temper bubbling over at every turn, and when you finally get into the parking garage you bang your car door into the cement wall at which time you grab the homemade muffin that your child’s stepmother has lovingly gifted you with but which has now left cream cheese all over your car seat and drill it into that same evil cement wall.

Is that just me?

You see THAT is the second arrow. And I shot it myself. AT myself.

Getting lost in Toronto was the first. Happens to everybody, right? Especially when traffic lights and the one-way streets don’t cooperate. Yet even as I was driving in circles, talking to my son on the phone (you were allowed in those days), and he was begging me to calm down, I did not. Sure, I allowed that first arrow to penetrate as deep and as painfully as it could.

But that second arrow – the self-inflicted one that shot out of my quiver when I slammed the door and then the muffin – THAT was all me. I did have a choice at that moment. I could have opened the car door more gently in the tight space. I could have cleaned up the cream cheese later. I could have eaten the damn muffin instead of annihilating it. I could have taken a few deep breaths, calmed my head and gone to enjoy a happy visit with my son.

But noooooooooo. I chose the 2nd arrow. I chose to shoot it. At myself. How stupid is that? I chose to have a temper tantrum in an underground parking garage in downtown Toronto and I chose to murder a poor defenseless and probably delicious cream-cheese covered muffin because …

Yeah. Good question.

Because why?

Because I had not learned how to control my mind. My thoughts. My base (and by base I mean lowest of the low) reactions. I had not taught myself to do that.

And teach ourselves we must. We must learn by conscious effort and then practice, practice, practice. We must stop ourselves just as we are readying that 2nd arrow for attack and we must say (quietly) – what the fuck? I just got hurt! Why do I want to hurt further? Doesn’t it make more sense to overcome the first hurt and move on with my lovely life?

I have managed a better (or more peaceful) response on occasion. On the first Christmas morning after my ex-husband and I split up, he came to my house to share the day with our son and me. I was also preparing for the family dinner and at one point, while he was using the bathroom, I tried to move a table and ended up shattering a full bottle of red wine on the ceramic floor. When he came into the kitchen and saw red everywhere, there I was, calmly cleaning up the mess.

“What happened?” he exclaimed in disbelief.

“I broke a bottle of wine,” I sighed and carried on wiping.

There was a brief silence and then “Who are you and what have you done with Vickie?”

My darling ex was vaguely familiar with my short fuse and somewhat vocal reactions to negative stimuli. But there I was, all Zen. Hey, I was involved with a yoga instructor at the time and that shit rubs off!

On another occasion I had just arrived at the radio station where I hosted a midday show. Somehow in the exiting of my sporty little vehicle, handbag, paperwork and large Tim’s coffee all in hand, with the lid on said coffee not securely fastened by the lovely lady who had passed it out the window, I managed to squirt scalding coffee all over my new Gap blue jeans. Literally all over.

I was livid. And in a bit of pain. But mostly livid at that broad’s ineptness and livid that I would have to spend a full day in wet, stained jeans. My comfort and my vanity were both supremely compromised!

Until I walked into the station and realized that me having a tantrum was not conducive to A) my fun-loving radio show or B) my fun-loving relationship with my colleagues. So what did I do?

I got creative. I got on the phone, called the Gap which happened to be in the mall next door and asked if they could pretty please deliver a pair of size 10 boot-cut regulars (or something like that) to the radio station across the street, after which I would give them untold kudos and love on my show.

They did. And not only did I have an okay normal day I had a fine fantastic extra awesome day. I had conquered the demon 2nd arrow and got myself out of wet jeans at the same time!

So maybe the trick is to THINK twice instead of shooting twice? Maybe when you become AWARE that the 2nd arrow really wants to see some action you’ll respond “Sorry buddy, not today.” Because the beauty is YOU are in charge of the 2nd arrow. Always. The universe might shoot at you willy-nilly with nary a rhyme or reason and you’re gonna have to take it. But that 2nd arrow is ALWAYS in your control. And the more you control it, the less often it will shoot you.

Guaranteed.

One more story – Most people think my friend W is a sweetheart. Lovely. Nice. Accommodating. Even mild-mannered. He comes across that way.
What most people do not realize is that he can also be Robin Hood on steroids. That 2nd arrow is never too far from his trembling hands. He shoots it often and with glee. Except that glee is always laced with resentment. And in my opinion, resentment will always turn cancerous. It eats you up from the inside.

Several years ago W and I were on the golf course. I used to be a pretty good golfer but don’t play much anymore due to back issues. W was new to the sport but, as an accomplished athlete in other arenas, expected to be Arnold Palmer within months.

That ain’t how golf works.

So there we were, and he was having a bad hole, and so was I, but I actually don’t care. And we got to the green and he attempted a pitch and it flubbed and guess what? He threw his club. Apparently there was no arrow handy so W threw his fucking club.
In all my years of golf (I started when I was 22) and all my years of temper-tantrums I have never ever thrown a club.

And so I very calmly looked at him and stated without hesitation “If you ever throw another club ever I will never play with you ever again!”

Because I now know that we don’t need to throw clubs, muffins or arrows. We don’t need to throw anything. One arrow is enough, thank you very much. That 2nd missile can stay put.

That’s our job. Our job is to stifle that 2nd arrow.

It’s work. And then more work. And worth it.

Thanks, Tom and … more to come.

p.s. If you want a copy of Tom’s book email him at thomaswade@live.ca

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How Much Work Are You Willing To Do ON YOUR MIND?

We are a society of achievers. Only in North America do we consider 2 weeks vacation A YEAR acceptable. We work long hours for success and we work enthusiastically for money and we work diligently for status and we work hard simply because we were brought up to honour a hearty work ethic. Then when we’re done work we go to the gym and work on our bodies. We work on our muscles and our heart/lung capacity. We work on our hobbies in our spare time. We work on sporting activities and we work on bettering ourselves at them. We may work on music and the making thereof because it brings us joy. We work on raising good kids, we work on taking care of our pets, we work at looking after our people and we most certainly should work on our relationships.

Work, work, work.

And we do most of it with conviction and acceptance. Sure we may on occasion fudge here or there but we are well aware that we must work to live. To thrive. To survive.
But then, after bank accounts, physical bodies, relationships, hobbies and responsibilities have been attended to with the most conscious of efforts, do we THEN work on our minds?

I’m not talking about reading or learning or exploring new things or even teaching. I am talking about working on our own minds. Our personal sanctuaries of chaos, bedlam, pandemonium and the occasional burst of clarity.

In my experience most people don’t spend much time working on their minds, they do not work on consciously controlling their thoughts and more importantly they do not even understand how their thoughts control THEM because they don’t believe they can. They DO NOT believe they are in charge of what goes on upstairs.

But they are. YOU are.

Yes. You are in charge of how much weight you lift, how may miles you run, how many hours you put in at work AND what is going on in the old noggin.

Let’s try a few examples (just in case you’ve decided I’ve truly gone off my rocker this time).

L was ditched by her beau. Many years ago B left her for another woman. L still has “conversations” with B almost every day. They just happen in L’s head. L creates almost daily an entire intricate dialogue between B and herself. What she should have said to him, the lying bastard. What she wished she could have said to him when her heart was breaking. L even invents B’s portion of the program. She invents what B should have said. She invents what B would say if he saw her now. She invents what she would say to B and his new love if she ran into them and she even invents her new lover Brad Pitt who would of course be on her arm when she met B and his new lover.

Seriously, we’ve all done it, right?

I know I have. I still do. But ever since my friend and guru Thomas Wade told me to stop doing it guess what? I have stopped doing it. Sure I start doing it and the moment I realize what I am doing I STOP!  Just like that. I remind myself that these imaginary conversations are a) stupid b) pointless c) unrealistic and d) stupid.

Did I mention stupid?

They are a waste of the limited space in my mind. My imagination is much better served writing a song, redecorating a room or creating a fabulous dinner. Every moment I waste (WASTE is a big fat operative word here) is of my own doing. Remember that. I am wasting my brain on delusions. And those delusions keep the Ferris wheel spinning. The Ferris wheel of my past and its hold on me.

Another example:
K lives in a constant state of anxiety. K worries about money and getting fired from his job and hating his job and K worries about not succeeding in his career or life or relationships and K struggles with getting older and being surpassed by his peers. K is anxious a lot. So K drinks. Probably too much. And when K gets tipsy these concerns multiply and overwhelm.

Perhaps if K could learn to control those ever-present thoughts, and I mean control as in tell them to fuck off every now and then, K could get on with life. Instead of being paralyzed with fear K could make a plan. K could make a plan with conscious steps that he could implement daily so that perhaps K could actually get where he wants to go without giving in to drink far too regularly.

Oh come on, Vickie, “No one can control their thoughts!” you are now shouting. We can’t all control our anxiety.

I know. Control is a big fat impossible word.

We can’t control.

What we can do is manage. We can manage our thoughts.

When L realizes she is manufacturing yet another dialogue SHE can shut it down. SHE can nip it in the bud. SHE can turn her thoughts to something else. ANYTHING else but this ridiculous mythological conversation that never was and most likely never will be.

K can also train himself to manage his thoughts. What’s the old saying – “If you’re depressed you’re living in the past, if you’re anxious you’re living in the future. If you’re at peace you’re living in the present.” K can train himself to BE present. Present in a crappy job, present in plans for the future, present in enjoying the moments and present in gratitude for life. K can still be cognizant of his challenges and K can still make plans to overcome them. What K is not obligated to do is live in chaos while he does this.
And by chaos I mean the chaos of the mind.

I’ve been called “a handful” more than once in my life. As a matter of fact I have been called “a handful” so many times I started to believe it must be true.

It’s not.

The reality is my brain goes a mile a minute, 1440 minutes a day. Okay, that’s not true because I do sleep. I will say I have some pretty crazy dreams but I’m sure there must be a few moments every day that my mind actually shuts down. So IF I am a handful I think it’s because there is always SOMETHING going on upstairs that I feel compelled to sort out and then possibly share. Why do you think I write a blog?

But here’s the reality. Whatever is going on in my blonde head is under my jurisdiction. If I allow it to seep out, it shall. If I choose to let it gush so be it. And if I choose to render it silent for all time THAT too is my choice. MY jurisdiction. MY control.

I get to choose my thoughts, I get to choose (or exile) my make-believe communications, I get to choose to acquiesce to my overwhelming fears or I get to choose to tell my brain to shut the fuck up when it is not serving my best interests.

My brain does not get to choose. I get to choose.

So do you. So does everyone.

It’s not simple or easy or natural. You know what it is? It is work. It takes practice and practice and then more practice, just like tennis, playing the guitar or brain surgery.
So I urge you to try it. And then practice it. And then practice it some more.

Juts like going to the gym, giving up white sugar and quitting smoking – it won’t be easy. Not at first. But you WILL get the hang of it. It will become more natural. Pretty soon it won’t feel like work at all and you’ll just be doing it.

YOU will be controlling your thoughts.

Not all of them, but enough. Enough to give you dominion and a modicum of government.

Trust me, it’s work. Mindful (pardon the pun) HARD work.

But worth it. You wouldn’t want your pancreas running amok, would you? Or your liver?

Take charge of your brain. You are the General. Your thoughts are your soldiers.
Just start with basic training and see what happens …

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My Personal Choice To Purge Passion

Yep. I’m doing it. After years of pursuing passion, pondering passion, pontificating about passion and even performing passion … I have decided to purge it from my life.
Now I must tell you there are a lot of different definitions of passion but this one I particularly like: a strong or extravagant fondness, enthusiasm, or desire for anything.

Oh yeah. I’ll tell you right now my strong and extravagant fondness for a few things has got me into some pretty passionate pickles in my life. And while those predicaments could be perplexing even whilst being potent, they were also invariably pressing. They pressed upon my heart and my soul. To this very day I find that passionate pickles typically yield more problems than peace.

And that is why I have decided to purge passion. I am now intent upon pursuing peace. Placidity is no longer the enemy. Pining for passion has become a problem. And so I now seek serenity.

Sorry. The Ps are done.

Now how might you accomplish this Vickie?, you may ask. How does one consciously and effectively remove passion?

Simple, my dear readers.

Remove red.

Yes indeed, I have recently removed the colour red from my decor scheme.
There was a time I was a huge fan of those flaming pops or crimson rose. Red reverberated throughout my residence with great revelry. I even bought an old house with a red stripe running over the original hardwood floor. I painted front doors red. I bought red furniture. Coffee mugs were red, toasters and kettles were red, and even my kitchen counter boasted black with a red fleck.

I then added lime (or maybe it’s more like apple) green to the mix and boy oh boy did the passion quotient ever proliferate. Those kicky bold hues just brought passion aplenty to every part of my planet.

How the heck did those Ps get back in here?

A few years ago I decided that blush pink was the new red so all the red in my home was banished. The lime green went too. As a a matter of fact it all went … north. To our new trailer/cottage. The passion palette found a new palace and I found – at home – calm and tranquility. The blush pink coupled with black and gray created an entirely new mood. And that mood was decidedly calm. This was a good thing. For me and my blood pressure.

So here we are a few years later and the white leather sofa that was grounding all that red and green at our summer abode completely (and very quickly) gave up the ghost. The leather disintegrated. The white sofa was fast becoming a blizzard of tiny leather flakes.

So off I trundled to the local furniture store where style is always secondary to price. This is cottage country after all. I gotta tell you the pickings were kinda slim. And the colours? How do YOU spell BORING? Everything was either gray, blue, beige or brown. Not even black, which I can totally work with.

I was seriously contemplating giving up the search and throwing a blanket over the blizzard. Until I discovered, in the bargain room, a totally funky brown and black zebra-striped chair. I knew that paired with the chocolate brown fake suede-leather sofa I could make this work! Everything was on sale and it was “Oh Happy Day”!

Until I got home and remembered that my sweet little abode is still chock full of red.

It ALL went. The red blanket, the red pillows, the red candle, the red kitchen stuff and the red leather dining chairs. Gone. Bu-bye.

In came white chairs, black and white pillows, a black throw, regular stainless kitchen appliances and a few pops of green.

I sat back, sipping my Pinot Grigio, and stared in wonder. Our lovely little living space was now a dispassionate delight. An oasis of calm. A gentle and alluring area of restraint.

Restraint? Who me?

Yes. Me. I love my new passion-less living room. I love my new passion-less kitchen. I love that this big open space is still and serene. It brings me comfort. It leads me to quiet. It soothes my soul. I have purged that passion with no regret! The time for peace has arrived!

Well, at least in the living room and kitchen.

There is still LOTS of red in the bedrooms. Both bedrooms (always mindful of my guests, I am). And in the bathroom too, go figure. All those red towels had to go somewhere.

I guess what I am trying to say is perhaps as we age (or is that evolve?) the need for non-stop passion transforms into a desire for quietude and peace of mind combined with the occasional POP of brightly coloured combustion.

What do YOU think?

Decorate as you will. Fill your home with gray and beige if it brings you tranquility. Add some black and white for contrast. And as for red …

Maybe save it for the bedroom.

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Dreading Retirement … and Other First World Problems

I am fully amazed at the number of people I know who, approaching retirement age, are actually conflicted about the next step. People with full pensions and few money worries. People who have enjoyed lucrative and satisfactory careers. People who have experienced great success and even acclaim.
People who are apparently SO defined by their work they simply cannot fathom a life without it.
Fully amazed, I am.
I guess because that is SO not me. I love my work and have for 30 years. As a matter of fact I love it so much I told the owners of my radio station I’ll never leave and they’ll have to hook a cane around my neck and drag me out of there kicking and screaming if they want me gone.
But I’ll only kick and scream for a day. Then I will happily embrace the next phase of my life, whatever it may be. I’ve only worked “for the man” (and by that I mean a job where pension is deducted) for about a decade of my life so believe me, my personal pension is diddly squat with literally no hope of getting “topped up”.  So yeah, I’m on the “Freedom 85” plan. I may well be the oldest DJ on the planet (unless they use that cane).
But if not, well, I’m okay with that too. Because I do know that I don’t need much. I’m a gypsy at heart and could live in the same cut-off jeans and flip-flops for the rest of of my life. Might be a tad cold in Canadian winter but I’ll cross that bridge when it arrives. The other thing I know is that every day is a new adventure. And my adventure is in no way defined by my work. It may be augmented by my work and supported by my work but I am not my work. I am an adventurer.
So what about these folks who are terrified of letting go? Who hang on past 65 (or whatever year is their magic pension number) simply because they don’t know what they will DO once what they’ve done for a very long time comes to a conclusion.
Hmmm. See what I mean about first world problems?
I could be wrong but I’m pretty sure these problems didn’t exist a century ago. They don’t exist in third world countries and they don’t exist with your average blue-collar worker who cannot wait to retire.
They exist in first world success stories. Which is in itself the biggest paradox, isn’t it?  Those who MUST work can’t wait to retire. Those who love work … dread it.
So I must ask – what is it exactly that you dread?
Do you dread the lack of actual employment? That first morning when you have nowhere to go, no dragons to slay and no victories to celebrate?
If so, take your talents and volunteer them for free some place where they can be utilized and appreciated. My friend T who hasn’t yet retired is already doing that. She flies to third world countries yearly to help a random business (could be just about anything) become more productive and profitable. She shares her wisdom and experience and gets an adventure in the process. Win-win.
My sister the high school principal retired quite young (early 50s) so she put herself on the supply list and got back into the classroom. She did this not to rob some young teacher from possible employment but because she taught German and her ilk were few and far between. She did it because they asked and she LOVED it. Because for years she had been an administrator, diplomat, peacekeeper and bureaucrat. Suddenly she was back where she started – in the classroom. With kids. Eventually she wound that new (old) career down and retired completely. And now (she’s still not 65) she is content with her new life. Her new freedom. Her new identity. What she did, she did. And what she is now doing, she is doing. Whole-heartedly.
But my other pal D is not quite so excited about this next phase. She loves her work, she loves the power that comes with her work, she loves the accolades that come with her work and she actually just plain old loves what she does.
What D doesn’t love so much is her life. She loves aspects of her life (the benefits of making a very good living for a long time) but she doesn’t love her marriage and she doesn’t love the prospect of living in that un-loving situation full-time. She doesn’t love the prospect of “no more winning”. D loves winning! But if she is not winning in work and not winning at home then what the heck is D going to do to win? To achieve that great big high that comes with winning? With succeeding? With achieving?
I might suggest that D either A) work on her marriage or B) get out of her marriage or C) design a new life based not on winning but based on living and experiencing and enjoying and giving back.
But hey, what the heck do I know?
What I do know is that anyone who moans about impending retirement or worries about impending retirement or even bellyaches one teensy little bit about impending retirement … anyone with a full pension and a bank account full of dough and a healthy body and an intact imagination … anyone who still thinks THIS problem is important is lounging in a misguided belief that HER worth in society is irreplaceable. Lounging in the misguided belief that she will be diminished when she is no longer “viable”.  Lounging in the misconception that without her title she is LESS. Lounging in first world purgatory.
Hey, people write blogs about this shit. Even full books. There is “industry” in dealing with retirement.
Amazes me.
Because if you are one of those extremely fortunate beings who does not have to toil until you’re 85 or dead, then please embrace your next adventure.
You are whatever YOU create in this next phase. YOU are pliable and viable and open to new experience. YOU are allowed to enjoy and embrace your twilight years, whatever they may bring. YOU SHOULD enjoy and embrace your twilight years, whatever they may bring.
IF you get to “retirement age” and you’re still alive and healthy and you actually have a future (unlike your peers who died too soon or the poor souls who didn’t experience your love of career) and you’re not starving and the only dilemma facing you is “how am I gonna do this” … well, may I respectfully suggest you acknowledge that your problem is one of the first-word variety. Nobody except your equally self-absorbed cronies gives a shit and YOU should probably find something more worthwhile (and enlightened) to concern yourself with.
Be grateful you got what you got. Did what you did. Achieved what you achieved.
Let the next generation have their go and GO live (and love) your first world retirement.
Trust me, you’ll be dead soon enough and all your “concerns” will be dust in the wind.  Wake up!  And be grateful you get to retire.
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What Exactly Is Closure and Why Are We All So Desperate For It?

Closure: The bringing to an end. Conclusion.

So that’s what it is. It is a finale. An acceptance that something is over. A termination.

But if we are speaking about relationships then I think closure is something else. Something different. Something more ethereal.

When my ex-husband and I split up and he concocted our separation agreement in about three minutes and then told our lawyers “She needs money and I need closure.”

You see the lawyers thought everything was flying just a little too quickly (for their benefit or my preservation, I am not sure). But I was willing to sign whatever he concocted because YES I did need money. But I also felt horrendously guilty. I had fallen in love with another man and that sure as heck made me the bad guy. I figured I could be a little less bad if I didn’t fight. So I agreed to whatever terms he set out even though my lawyer counseled me (and made me sign something affirming that I was agreeing to something against her counsel) that what I was accepting went against the letter of the law.

But ya see my hubby was a spurned man. And he needed closure. He needed me to get gone. He needed to free up his emotional “space” to make room for his new love who happened to be the ex-wife of my new lover. It’s a long story and if you need to know you’ll just have to go back and read all my blogs.

But here’s the thing: he said he wanted closure.

But how could there ever be closure? We have a child. We are co-parents. We have mutual friends and my family still likes him and believe it or not some of his family still like me. So where exactly is the closure? It wasn’t like I was jetting off to Santorini to live out my life while he enjoyed harsh Canadian winters in the company of our child.

We were absolutely destined to cross paths. Make nice. Even have hugs and tears.

Which got me thinking about this seemingly universal desire for closure. Why is everyone so desperate for THE END?  I mean, in my books THE END is when you die. At least THE END of this mortal existence. I’d like to believe there is another great adventure beyond death’s door but in THIS life I do not crave THE END. I crave THE CONTINUATION. Maybe THE EVOLUTION? Maybe the new paragraph, the new reality and the new opportunity. I do not crave the CONCLUSION.

Not even a little.

That guy who I fell in love with, that guy for whom I left my hubby … well, he left me. Four times. I have not seen him in over ten years. He broke my heart bigger and better than anyone before or since. And I still do not want closure. I’d like to see his face. Look into his eyes. Remember the love and forgive the pain. That’s what I would like. Sure there were moments on this journey when I thought “Okay, damnit, I am done with, you scoundrel! I have my closure!”

But it wasn’t real or true. It was false bravado and maybe a bit of wishful thinking. The reality is – at least for me – there is no closure with love. When you love truly and deeply and consciously the love is eternal. Even when your heart is shattered.

So how can there be closure if love is eternal?

I know there are really nasty divorces and abusive spouses and horror stories and dramatic finales. And I know that when these situations occur closure is the desired outcome. Get your business complete and get out! Don’t give that bastard another thought!

And I guess that would be great if it was possible. If you could actually choose the thoughts (and memories and feelings) that created that love and then stuff them into a bottle and toss it into the ocean.

But you can’t. Because memories and feelings and thoughts are like invasive souvenirs. They show up like a velvet Elvis – in the most inopportune and usually questionable situations. But there they are, staring you down. So you fight and you fight and you scream “Get the fuck outta here, I need closure!” … and still they lurk. Maybe you push them back for a spell but they still lurk. And then when you least expect it – they pounce. And that hard-won closure disintegrates into a pile of dust.

My ex-husband and I are cordial and even loving (when it comes to our son and family members). I’m not sure he EVER got that closure which he so desperately sought. I doubt it. Because you can’t close the door on your only child’s mother. I’m in your picture whether you like it or. And you are in mine.

For all time.

Get used to me, baby. You may get your closure when I die.

You also may not. Those “good”memories may haunt you until your dying day.

That other lover of mine, the one who shattered my heart four times … he seems to have moved on and he seems to be gosh-darned happy. Yet when his father died I sent him a text offering condolences. And he was grateful for that text.

When my mother died a few months later he sent … nothing.

Does that mean he got closure and I did not?

Maybe.

It may also mean his is a self-absorbed dick.

Whatever.

What I do know is this: FOR ME closure will never be an end-game. It will never be something I strive for and it will never be a win.

The win is THE JOURNEY.

Yes, I know you’ve heard this a thousand times before but it is the truth. The win is the experience, good or bad. The adventure, successful or not. The relationship, for a lifetime or a year.

THAT is the win.

Closure will never be the win. Closure means shutting down something that was perhaps meaningful and exquisite and shutting it down forever.

I won’t go there.

I do not want closure.

I’ll take memories and I’ll take hope. I will also take acceptance and gratitude. I will take the wisdom I have gleaned and the bruises I have earned.

But I will not seek closure.

My door will always be open …

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You’ve Got Mail! Or … Can E-Relationships Be Real and Meaningful?

I still remember the day I received my first email. It was from a girlfriend’s boyfriend in the States. I had recently taken possession of a lumbering old beast and logging on to that phone line, hearing that crazy noise and then seeing that something was coming in was darn near magical. Like a little Christmas every day. Since B was one of the few people I knew who was hip to e-mailing, he and I struck up an almost daily correspondence. We talked about anything and everything. One time he came home from a party pretty tipsy and shot off a missive without editing, typos, mistakes, bad punctuation and all. I could almost hear him slurring as I read the words. It was hilarious.

B and I were e-buddies in a time when such a thing was new and fresh. ANY email was special. He was my friend’s beau and I was married so that is all we were but it was a fun, chummy relationship. Until his relationship with my friend ended and she made it quite clear that my allegiance should be clear.

I missed him, sure, but life went on and new e-relationships were born, some which led to mayhem and misery.

My next e-relationship fostered marital infidelity. Which fostered mayhem. And misery. Because communication is a huge aphrodisiac. The BIGGEST aphrodisiac, quite frankly. At least for me, the word girl. Communication turns me on. And, as it turns out, gets me into trouble.

Which begs the question: Can E-Relationships ON THEIR OWN, with no promise of future connection or romance, be real and meaningful? Of course I am now talking about opposite-sex relationships. Relationships that could potentially lead to desire. Relationships that could turn from chummy and innocent to flirty and dangerous. Can such a thing exist?

In my country-band days I was madly in love with my guitar player. He was married but hey, my morals were obviously a bit askew. We ended up together for almost three years and then we were not. He ultimately reunited with his wife and we got on with our separate lives.

Until one night he showed up in the restaurant where I was preforming and emailed me the following day, stating in no uncertain terms that he would like to run away with me. He and his wife were on the rocks (due to her infidelity) and I was just a shiny beacon of hope in his otherwise dismal world.

Didn’t happen. The running away thing. I was living with the love of my life and entirely uninterested. Even when the LOML dumped me and guitar-player guy and I kept emailing it did not happen. We developed a beautiful camaraderie. We were able to share deep and important thoughts almost daily. We had such a profound history it translated to a really special friendship. We became buddies!!

(He even told me about an out-of-the-blue tryst that surprised even him and I was like “Go man go!”)

Our e-relationship was decidedly friendly. Until he and his wife reunited and he told me he had to ditch me. No way was she ever going to understand that we were buddies. Only buddies.

And ditched I remain.

I’m okay with that, because I was merely a stepping stone to the next chapter of his life. Our e-correspondence was lovely and honest and, when it could no longer be that, it was over.

Wasn’t so simple for my friend P. She developed an e-relationship with an old beau who lived on the other side of the planet. They were both unhappily married. Yet no matter how hard they tried to convince themselves that their e-relationship was just platonic pals sharing woes and laughs, the underlying spark was there. Sparking away until it turned into raging flames.

Ultimately they met. And there was nothing platonic about their meeting. After which her marriage broke down, his remained intact and they both got on with their lives. But for her ir was painful as hell.

THIS was most definitely an ” opposite-sex relationship. One that led to desire. One that became decidedly flirty and dangerous.”

When you’ve lived as long as I have you come to the realization that there are no hard and fast rules and nothing is cast in stone. What was once innocent can, in a heartbeat, turn to trouble. And what was once trouble (like my guitar-dude) can just as easily turn to innocent and genuine friendship.

I have experienced both. E-relationships that were meaningful and e-relationships that were delicious … and destructive.

The thing is we never know which way it’s going to go. What we think is innocent fun can ON A DIME become dangerous. Yet that “innocent fun” is so addictive it’s damn difficult to acknowledge that it could get crazy.

I don’t have the answer. I’m hoping that maybe you do.

So I ask again … Can E-Relationships Be Real and Meaningful?

I look forward to your thoughts.

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