Inauguration Day

in·au·gu·ra·tion
iˌnôɡ(y)əˈrāSH(ə)n/
noun
    1. the beginning or introduction of a system, policy, or period.
      “the inauguration of an independent prosecution service”
      2. the formal admission of someone to office.
      “Truman’s second presidential inauguration”
      3. a ceremony to mark the beginning of something.
      “the inauguration of the Modern Art Museum”

Today is the end of an era.

I can no longer sit up here in this little corner of my quiet room, distracting myself with a million things that aren’t my own voice.  Work things, helping things, playful things, domestic things. They are important, of course, but they can’t replace my voice. Not anymore.

Today I stop saying ‘I’m too tired’ or ‘It’s too cozy here’. I will accept invitations, make new alliances, pledge allegiance to my sisters who are loud and proud. They not hiding under the assumption that everyone is too busy to make plans, or too uncomfortable with my lifestyle choices.

Today I honor my own constitution and recognize that to feel well, I have to treat my body well. This, on occasion, will mean laying on the couch for an entire afternoon reading books. Mostly, it will mean challenging myself to be more fluid, stronger, more vibrant. It will mean choosing something sweet every once in a while, and choosing to be very conscious about what food means to my body and soul all of the time.

Today I salute the commander-in-chief of my journey through this life. My writer, my story teller, who has patiently waited for the opportunity to rule the country of my heart. Small victories, and a career full of setbacks have led to this victorious moment, when we stand united in our love for this great land of my imagination.

Today I vow to dedicate my office to the voices of the little people. Those tiny hands and hearts who demand better play time, less distraction, more connection to our changing climate and the fertile lands of this country. They have fought long and hard for my attention, often kicking and screaming to be heard. I will answer their cry by getting off my high horse and spending more time in their tattered sneaker shoes.

On this inauguration day, (no caps, please) I will place women’s reproductive rights at the top of matters of congress. Sexual congress, that is. I will recognize my right to complete freedom and power over my body by exploring and encouraging multi-level orgasmic funding, investigating new systems of pleasure, and implementing a charter of self-love that is supported in both the private and public sectors. I don’t even know what that last line means, but it sounds like fun, doesn’t it?

It is with great humility and awe that I step into this role as president of my own tiny universe. I take this venerated position very seriously, despite my outrageous hair and shocking media persona. You, the people of my consciousness have elected me, and I will unite this land of opportunity and privilege and make this woman great again.

Because if history has taught us anything, it’s that nobody else will.

A To-Do List For A Difficult Day

Anyone who knows me knows about my love/hate relationship with November. This year, I seem to have gone darker and deeper into the grey than ever before. I need vitamin B, or iron. I need a week off. There’s never enough sleep, never enough time. The leaves are hanging on longer because even they seem to know that I need the added brightness of their outrageous colours. The good news is, it’s nearly over.

Here’s a to-do list for today. It will likely be extended to tomorrow as well. These are big days for me, these two. Big enough that without such a list, I might just sit here and stare out the window and not get anything done at all. Feel free to borrow this list, any time you need to. You’re guaranteed to feel at least 3% better if you use it.

Today I will…

  1. Eat an entire bar of chocolate. Well, almost. But, it’s fair trade and sugar free. Plus it’s dark, 70% even, so I’m okay with this.
  2. Cry over nothing.
  3. Cry over some really big things.
  4. Write.
  5. Try to work. Mostly suck at this.
  6. Make an entire thermos of tea and sip it slowly all afternoon.
  7. Listen to Leonard Cohen.
  8. Miss my kids.
  9. Colour.
  10. Read for pleasure.
  11. Eat soup for dinner.
  12. Wear my slippers at work because I need the extra cozy.
  13. Wear lipstick, or something else that makes me feel better.
  14. Finish all my work so I can do whatever I want all weekend.
  15. Send lovey emojis to my cousin-sister.
  16. Call my mom.
  17. Hug my kids after school.
  18. Go for a walk.
  19. Try not to cry in front of people who barely know me.
  20. Avoid the news, because sometimes I have to.
  21. Sing.
  22. Have a glass of wine, but only one.
  23. Make a fire in the fireplace.
  24. Add some frankincense to the diffuser.
  25. Watch a funny Christmas movie.
  26. Eat popcorn.
  27. Light a candle.
  28. Remember the spectacular depth and breadth of love.

All the Balls

I’ve been a bad writer. Any of you who have taken on writing know that sometimes it just doesn’t happen. The words go away, and your computer screen or blank page seems to mock you. In my case, it’s never for a lack of ideas, it’s not writer’s block in the traditional sense. I literally block myself, stepping into the path of my own writing and grinding it to a halt.

Until I’m clear on why I do this, I’m not sure how to break this cycle. My momentum will be going strong and then, bam! Something happens and I derail myself. In this case it’s been months away from the page, as evidenced by my disappearance here.

My issues with writing are attached to value, guilt, worth. All ugly stuff really, and the kind of stuff that I speak so passionately against where everyone else is concerned. Why are we all so bad at following our own great advice?

Life without writing isn’t awful. I have enough meaningful work, volunteer gigs, beautiful moments with friends and family to keep my days filled with good feelings and a sense of purpose. Life without writing does feel a lot like the difference between eating well and laying into foods that just don’t agree with you. Or skipping vitamins for too long. Something wasn’t working quite right underneath all of the good stuff. Something felt off.

So, on Monday I dusted off my novel and got back to re-writes. I entered a contest. I decided I’d do NANWRIMO (national novel writing month) and write a Christmas present for my daughters. Can you hear my writer’s knuckles cracking?

I’d like to say that I motivated myself. That the feeling of not writing was worse than the struggle and uncertainty of a daily practice. I’d love to tell you that I gave myself a pep talk and decided my passion for words and stories was worth the time investment, even if I never made a living off my writing. I’d be thrilled to say that I’ve decided to take myself more seriously as an artist. But those would all be lies.

Last week my four-year-old son came home from junior kindergarten with a package. It contained a very simple book about colored balls. We sat on the couch and he read each page to me, clear and sure, and my heart exploded out of my chest. It was the first book he’s ever read to me.

I remembered how as a child, books saved me from loneliness and filled my soul to the brim with possibility. I saw his own potential for reading his way through endless adventures open up right there in our cozy living room. I felt an ache so deep and strong pushing me to make sure my kids get to read one of my books someday. A book that I’ve written.

“This is me in all the balls.” That was the last line of the book my son was reading. I may have to juggle a whole bunch of them, but I can’t drop this one again because it’s just too important.

What Forty Feels Like

On July 24th I turned forty, and I welcomed my birthday with some of my very best friends who greeted me in the morning naked in my pool. We’d shipped the kiddos off to spend the night with their grandparents so we could enjoy an adults-only party, and we gave the neighbors plenty of warning. The people behind us got the hell out of Dodge, which is a shame, because of the naked burlesque troupe in my pool. It’s classic that they would all wait to the light of day to shed their swim suits.

what forty feels like

If you had told twenty-year-old me that life would look like this at forty, I would have been very delighted. And probably a little shocked. Back then, I thought I would end up being a classical actor, and I was pining away for a guy who didn’t know I was alive. Now I’m the retired Artistic Director of a cabaret burlesque troupe, a burgeoning writer, and an entrepreneur. I have a sexy husband and a gorgeous wife who believe in my talents, and three beautiful and healthy children. All three of our families are wonderfully supportive and loving. I have a quirky and spacious home to host all these wonderful people in our lives. I make money doing work I love, and work that I can do anywhere in the world. I’m better looking than I was at twenty (yep, I said it) and I’ve healed so many old hurts that my heart is bigger than it’s ever been. I’m in my skin in a way that I couldn’t possibly have been decades ago, and I love it.

Forty feels like I’m finally ripe. It feels like I know myself a little better. I feel like I’m not afraid to look vulnerable. Turning forty feels like I know how to be grateful.

As far as goals are concerned, this year I want to continue to move forward with my writing. I also want to add a comprehensive fitness component to the lifestyle changes of last year (we gave up grains and sugar, and now I’ve kicked dairy too), I want to meditate every day, and I want to grow my businesses. As far as the rest goes, I’d love to keep up simple living, volunteering, eco-friendly shopping (lots of thrift stores in my life), awesome family moments, commitment to my own passion, and balance of life, work, and creativity.

Where I come from, birthdays are precious. I’ve seen some very near and dear people not get nearly enough of those milestones, and I want to savor each and every one. Part of what makes that possible is keeping my mind and body as sharp as I can. The rest is about balance.

We each have a daily list of ingredients required to keep us at our best. Click To Tweet

Here’s my daily list of happiness ingredients:

Reflection
Exercise
Clean Eating
Creativity
Nature
Family
Reading
Hard Work
Domestic Bliss (I like this better than ‘chores’)
Love (giving back, helping, holding)

I’d love to hear how turning forty made you feel, or how you imagine yourself at forty. Leave your stories in the comments below!

They Even Have a Sandbox

So today was a pretty exciting day for the Noodle (my nick name for my three-and-a-half year old son) and I. He had been looking forward to this day for months, in a way that surprised me – I didn’t know a kid that age could track time this way. Today was kindergarten orientation. He caught a glimpse of the excitement waiting for him in September, and I caught a glimpse of just how many boxes of tissue it was going to take to get through the first day of school.

They Even Have a Sandbox

The kindergarten classroom was everything I wanted it to be: clean, bright, filled with natural materials, lots of hands-on play opportunities, a solid house corner, water table, and as Noodle breathlessly declared “They even have a sandbox!”. To him, it was a little dude paradise. The teachers seemed lovely, and switched on to the importance of things like one-on-one attention, affection, and outdoor play time. Noodle even had a pair of his buddies from daycare to bond with. The highlight however was the practice bus ride. Oh my heart.

Watching how his big head and little body bounced and lurched on the bus made me realize just how little an almost-four-year-old still is. Sure, he’ll be on that bus with his ten and nearly thirteen-year-old sisters. Sure he’s beyond thrilled about the whole thing. Still, I saw The Sweet Hereafter, well before I had kids, and the idea of a little body on a huge school bus simply makes me want to barf. I kept my cool though. I know it’s dumb to download those illogical anxieties on your kids. The world’s his oyster, and I want him to feel that way just as long as he can.

But here’s thing…No matter how vast the universe of possibility and opportunity I want for him, it aches deep down into my very atoms (another Sweet Hereafter reference?) when I think of him growing up. Obviously I want him to grow and thrive, but there’s always going to be a part of me that wants to keep him as close as I can. Like, on a cellular level. I guess that’s what you get for growing a person in your body. Though hell, I get those pangs for my non-bio daughters too, and I didn’t even get to meet them until they were three and five.

Watching my twelve-year-old’s sharp angles slowly morph into softer curves is the sweetest form of heartbreak. I know she’s going to blow minds and take names, but I also know that the sweet little bubble we have built up around our tadpoles, with spit and love and tenacity won’t hold forever. Eventually it will burst because the world is just like that. It’s a bubble bursting, bubble blowing party.

And as long as they aren’t dating, playing injury-causing team sports, blowing auditions, taking school buses, having adventures without us, basically, we get to keep that bubble in tact. Kind of. Not really. Sigh.

The greater your love, the greater your fear of loss. The greater your loss, the greater your fear of love. I can’t shut it down, no matter which end I tackle. I feel the magnitude of my fear just as deeply as I’m filled with the depth of all this love in my heart.

So, I’ll keep my shit together on that first day of school until he’s safely inside his classroom. (Because I’m driving him there on the first day. The bus will have to wait until day two, damn it) Then, after I get into my mom-mobile I will shed those tears and say goodbye to the sweet stickiness of the toddler years. Goodbye to our carefree Fridays off, playing zoo and enjoying day trips together. It won’t be as bad as the first day of daycare. I know this, because leaving him sobbing in the arms of a stranger was the worst parenting experience I’ve had thus far. He’s excited about Kindergarten (or JK/SK as he calls it) in a way that he never was about daycare. Maybe he had a premonition of all of the colds he would be destined to bring home from such an unsophisticated place. Or, maybe even he knows he’s growing up and hitting the big leagues. Even he knows this is a great big deal in the department of milestones.

Thrive on little man. Play with all of the plastic animals. Sift your pudgy fingers through all the sand. Make all the macaroni art. I’ll spare you my tears, just know that I want you to drink up every moment that JK/SK lays at your feet. And please, for the love of God, be careful.