Coming to Mindfulness by the Back Door

I’ve been thinking a lot about living in the moment (being mindful).

I’ve been practicing daily meditation for a couple of weeks now. As with most people, I’m pretty bad at it. But I keep trying.

And the reason I keep trying is because, at the most stressful time of my entire life, being mindful got me through.

When I was living with JD, his OCD made our lives chaotic and exhausting and extremely difficult to live with any measure of peace. Correction: it made my life that way. It was his normal way of being and he seemed mostly OK with that.

Except every once in a while he would complain about other people being able to take vacations and have weekends “off” and time to enjoy life, and why couldn’t we?

Oh brother. Where do I begin? I used to tell him exactly why but he didn’t want to acknowledge that it was the disease’s doing because he didn’t want to seek help. So I just stopped responding. He didn’t want a solution; he just wanted to complain at the unfairness of it all.

Anywho, every once in a wee while he would agree to us taking a day or most of a day off and we would hit the road for a respite. Those times got me through. During those times, without consciously thinking about it or forcing it, I lived totally in the moment. I was BEING. HERE. NOW. I  didn’t think about the mess back home, the unceasing backlog of work, the shit-storm life I found myself trapped in, NOTHING.  I just enjoyed every present moment of being with a more relaxed, funny and charming JD, and taking in some new sights and experiences.

And when that day or those few hours ended, I felt as refreshed as if I had been away for a week of “regular” vacation. Huh!

When JD got cancer, things got much worse. Because nothing was supposed to change or else the cancer would have won. (Spoiler: the cancer won anyways – 6 months later.)

So I kept working and going to (online) school and now I had a new job – caregiver to someone who already needed a lot of care and attention. JD had to stop working because he was too weak but he kept on going with his MBA studies as well. And his OCD escalated, of course. And I had to participate in even MORE of his daily rituals as part of my caregiver role. Plus we had a few of our own, like his nightly heparin shot to the stomach, that I had to administer.

Most days the only moment of peace I had to myself was when I went upstairs to wash my face to get ready for bed. I wash my face with olive oil, have been doing this for years. But when JD was sick, this became my “moment”.

I would apply the olive oil to my face and gently massage it all over. Then I would take a washcloth and rinse it in the hottest water I could stand. Then I would place the hot washcloth on my face and just let it sit there. Ahhhhhh….

I called it my daily spa moment. During that 60 seconds or so, I focused on the feeling of peace and serenity that accompanied the hot cloth being applied to my face. I succeeded in noticing every wonderful moment of that experience. My mind emptied of all other thought. And if I was really lucky, I got to enjoy it until the cloth got cooler without hearing “Sweetie? Sweetie, where are you? Sweetie! Sweetie!!”

And it was enough to keep me going for another day. It had to be.

So these 2 experiences taught me about the absolute power of mindfulness. I wasn’t intentionally being mindful – not at all – I had no time to think about that. It was more like a survival instinct kicking in. I found myself at mindfulness, at this intention unintentionally, by opening the unmarked backdoor.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Becoming Mindful About Money – Mindful Monday

Indeed.

I think I’ve been pretty good with money overall. But I do have some big-ass goals related to paying down the demand loan on my building and those extra payments aren’t going to make themselves, ya know?

One of the first things I’m looking at to increase mindfulness in my life is to become more mindful about my spending (again). In the bad old, sad old days, I was used to having to sweat over every little purchase. It was not fun.

Living on my own now, I actually have more money at my disposal than when I was married, thanks to no longer carrying two properties while also paying for a masters degree and supporting husband #2’s dream of becoming a golf pro (a seasonal, minimum wage venture while apprenticing). Huh, go figure. Thus for the last few years I’ve been enjoying not having to think too much where the money was going to come from when an idea/item took my fancy. (Kayaks, I am looking at you!)

A while back I read an excellent post on how, in our consumerist culture, we are brainwashed into thinking we can save money by spending money. This was embraced by husband #1 – it used to make me crazy to have to scrimp on groceries everything only to have him come home with some expensive new toy tool and proclaim how much money he saved by buying it.

Like the whole second-hand sewing machine vs. motorcycle debacle. In the early days of our marriage (1981, I believe), I asked if he thought we could afford to get me a used sewing machine I saw listed in the newspaper ($150) and he said we couldn’t afford it right now. I was disappointed but agreed to wait. Not even three weeks later he comes home late from work and tells me he bought a motorcycle ($3500). Even put on his big boy pants and went and got a loan – all by his little self – without so much as a hint to me as to what he was doing/thinking. But he got SUCH A GREAT DEAL!

So I did what any good wife would do. Ran right out to the mall and came home with a brand new designer wardrobe sewing machine ($250). Good times, good times. Good thing I’m “over” it. Yup. (See yesterday’s post.)

Back to the Now: The post I mentioned above – on Our Next Life – resonated with me so much that I still remember it, weeks later. It really is worth the time to click through the link and read about how this couple “fostered a new mindset” instead. AND, their spending went down and savings increased when they weren’t hunting for the best deal when considering a purchase. Mind. Blown.

Like Mrs. ONL, I have been spending this past week ruthlessly unsubscribing from store emails – at a rate of about 5-10 per day!

Some were easy…some I struggled with because, well….oh look, such pretty things from a favourite retailer… I love a deal as much as any red-blooded woman.

These Inbox temptresses were arriving daily with one purpose only: to create a desire to purchase that didn’t exist in me until I opened them up.

Hey yeah, I’ve been meaning to get me one of those, and look – it’s on sale with free shipping if I spend more than $50! What else can I buy to take advantage of the free shipping? Look at all the money I’m saving by buying this thing I had no idea I “needed” until I READ. THIS. EMAIL.

Free shipping and returns?

Code for 50% off on EVERYTHING IN THE STORE/ONLINE?

BOGO?

NOGO! Get thee behind me, Satan! I unsubscribe you. Back to the sooty depths of the spam folder, where you belong!

Yeah. So I’m letting that shit go.

Money mindfulness for a Mindful Monday.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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Pay Attention When You Have a Violent Reaction to Something

On Friday I made a post of some favourite Canadian music artists  of mine. I deliberately left off one very talented artist because of one song that just makes me gnash my teeth whenever I hear it.

City and Colour – The Girl. Go ahead and take a listen. I’ll be here when you come back.

A lot of people love this song. They think it is tender and romantic. It makes my blood boil.

Dallas Green sings: You sacrifice so much of your life in order for this to work.

And: If you were to leave; fulfil someone else’s dreams, I think I might totally be lost.

I end up mentally (or actually, if I’m alone) screaming whenever this song comes on the radio:

Oh yeah, what about her own fucking dreams, huh?! Why is The Girl’s only purpose to fulfil someone else’s dreams? What about her own dreams? Why does she have to sacrifice so much of her own fucking life to make the relationship work? Where is your sacrifice, Dude?!?!

Lately I’ve been thinking about this violent reaction I have to what most people would say is a gentle and loving tribute to someone in the artist’s life.

If you’re acquainted with this blog or know me in person, you’re probably shaking your head right now and thinking it’s so bloody obvious. And yes, it is to me now. I hate the lyrics in this song because It. Is. About. Me.

I’m the one who sacrificed her own dreams for most of my adult life to support the two husbands I committed to. Men who either were or would have been totally lost (at least temporarily) when/if I left.

So I’m furious with this song because it reminds me that I alone allowed this to happen. I willingly drank the Kool-Aid. And I’m still not at peace with myself for doing this. Although it is getting better.

A valuable lesson for me to remember: that when I have a violent reaction to something that doesn’t warrant that much emotion there is some inner work I need to do.

My apologies to City and Colour for omitting them from my Friday post. It’s not you; it’s me. Really.

Rock on,

The WB

 

 

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The Breakfast of Epic Proportions

Breakfast is my favourite meal of the day. But I only get to enjoy it to the fullest on the weekends, usually.

Weekday mornings I’m just not hungry enough before I have to leave for work, or otherwise too cramped for time to truly savour this meal.

But today is Saturday and once again I prepared THE BREAKFAST OF EPIC PROPORTIONS. Just a little name I give to the types of breakfasts I like to have…hehehe.

Behold:

This is everything I love about food, in one bowl.

I found a recipe on Ye Olde Interwebs earlier this week and vowed to make it at my earliest opportunity.

Paleo Oven Pancake with Bacon – makes 4 generous epic servings

You know breakfast is epic if it can carry you through to supper.

Rock on,

The WB

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12 Canadian Artists I’m Loving Right Now

We’re not just about Celine Dion, Nickleback and Justin Bieber here in the Great White North, ya know?

I may have mentioned this before on Ye Olde Blogge: I am loving and appreciating the Canadian alternative music scene like never before. It’s always been great IMHO, but lately the quantity and quality of music is just blowing my mind.

Here are just some of the current crop of Canadian bands/artists that I think are just great, in no particular order. Check them out!

First up, Hollerado:

Serena Ryder:

Bleeker:

Mother Mother:

The Glorious Sons:

The Zolas:

July Talk:

USS:

The Darcys:

Monster Truck:

The Sheepdogs:

And of course, Arcade Fire:

Rock on, eh!

The WB

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Throwback Thursday – The Jersey Boys

This week a memorable date in Widow Badass-ology came and went. On November 14 it was the 4th anniversary of my becoming a widow. I’ve already discussed that recently, and in various places all over the blog – use the search feature if interested – so I didn’t feel like writing about it again so soon.

Except to say that I have such mixed feelings about that date… Is it my birthday? Is it a sad day? It was the day my life took a drastic turn. It was the day I got my life and freedom back. It was the day I lost someone I once thought of as a soul mate. It was the day another human being close to me left this life far too early. So many conflicting feelings, all of them valid. Which I am OK now to acknowledge, and move on.

In thinking about what to write today for NaBloPoMo, I was coming up empty so I thought I’d do a Throwback Thursday to a happier November 14th.

November 14, 2015 – My mom had come to live die with me by this point. The chemo wasn’t working anymore and she had had enough. Months before all this had happened I had bought tickets to take her to see Jersey Boys – a musical Mom had long expressed interest in seeing. Then my aunt came to spend some time with her sister one last time in October of that year. Mom really wanted Tante to come to the show as well. So flights were changed and another ticket was sought out.

My friend, Mizzuz J, Me, Mom and Tante waiting for the show to begin.

Tante had a brilliant idea to get the cast of the Jersey Boys to come out to say hi to Mom after the show. So she somehow got backstage at Intermission and made it happen. What a woman!

Mom – in the centre of it all.

Oh my, we had fun that day. Mom was clearly in her glory, surrounded by all that…er…talent.

Rock on,

The WB

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My “Go Beige” Moment

I remember reading an article about Sophia Loren years ago. She (at that time) only ever wore 1 lipstick colour. It was called “Go Beige”. And when she found out it was going to be discontinued, she bought up all the remaining stock and kept it in a cooler so that she would never run out of it.

I remember thinking at the time how boring that was. I loved (and to a certain extent still do) playing with makeup and to have only 1 shade of lipstick to use seemed so limiting – so like my mother’s style of making up to go out when I was a kid: red lipstick, powder, mascara…DONE! (Ladies did not wear much else in the makeup department, back then. Not if they were “ladies”.) Her makeup collection could fit in the palm of my hand. Whereas mine takes up most of a very large and deep drawer.

I possess probably way more lipstick colours than I should, considering that I usually only apply it once a day (just before I head out to work, if I think of it) and then switch to Burt’s Bees lip balm for the rest of the day.

Yet what can I say? One is always on the lookout for the perfect-er shade of red or pink or wine or pinky-mauve or browny-pink or….

For the past 4+ years (a record for cosmetically-fickle me), this is the one lip colour I have returned to, again and again:

I wish it had a cool name like Go Beige but alas, it is just good ol’ 104.

It’s not an expensive brand of lipstick. Rimmel can be found in just about any drugstore. This colour is just the perfect matte-ish warm rose that goes well with my skin tone no matter how much or little sun I’ve been getting or what clothes I’m wearing. It’s like my natural lip colour on steroids. You might as well call it my Go Beige colour.

I was at the drug store on the weekend and happened to notice that my already inexpensive little friend was on sale. So I picked up a tube, thinking it would be good to have another on hand just in case Rimmel ever decides to discontinue (horrors!!!) this line and this colour.

I threw it in the drawer in the vanity for a couple of days, but then thought about what Sophia did and decided to move it to the fridge because it might be a year months before I have to replace my current one and it couldn’t hurt to keep it cool.

This is what I found when I opened the seldom-glanced-at top compartment on the fridge door that I wanted to store the lipstick in:

Huh! Looks like I already squirreled an extra 104 in there, at some point. Plus a partially consumed bar of chocolate I received at my MBA grad, back in June 2016.

So now I have 2 backup lipsticks. And some old chocolate. (Don’t even ask me about the Lindt bars underneath the Athabasca bar either. They have to be at least as old.)

I’m thinking there is a high probability that there will be a 104 #3 to join 1 and 2 in the fridge someday, as once again I will see it on sale and think: Hmmm, I should pick up “a” backup, just in case.

And let’s not kid ourselves – when I finally do run out of my current tube, I won’t remember what’s in the fridge. I’ll just go to the drugstore and pick up another one up.

Sometimes I find myself and the things I do unintentionally hilarious. This is one of them.

Anybody else do stuff like this? Please?

Rock on,

The WB

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If It Lasts That Long…

Last night I made something new. Something I’ve been wanting to make for a few years’ now.

Every year I would read posts about this stuff and vow to make it the next year. Only to be reminded too late in the season to have it ready in time for guests and gifting.

But not this year! 2017 is gonna be the year of Alton Brown’s Aged Eggnog.

This is what’s left over for personal use valuable research on aging nog, after I put 3 pint jars of this boozy deliciousness away in the fridge.

I had thought I had more glass jars available than I in fact did, so I ended up putting the rest of the nog into an ancient indestructible juice pitcher that used to belong to JD’s grandmother. I will find it a more suitable container or two today – one that doesn’t take up quite so much valuable fridge real estate.

I don’t like store-bought eggnog – with or without added booze – since I’ve become an adult. And I’m not one for sweet alcoholic drinks, normally. (I will make an exception for Bajan rum punch though, heavy on the lime.)

I still have the bottle of Baileys Irish Cream I bought for Mom to enjoy and she’ll be gone 2 years this December. I have to move it around the fridge every now and then to make space for something else and I never think to pour myself a glass. Talk about taking up valuable real estate! Does it even need to be kept refrigerated? I must check.

When it comes to things alcoholic, give me a dry wine (red or white) or a crisp lager or an ultra dry vodka martini (with olives) and I’m a happy camper.

So it doesn’t make sense that this recipe has captivated me. I must say though, the nog IS mighty tasty already (think liquid premium ice cream with a kick) and is supposed to get even more so the longer it sits. It’s gonna be amazing after 1 year.

Rock on,

The WB

 

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Mindful Monday – the Zafu

I’m shaking off the blog frustrations plaguing me lately and I’m going to try something new on ye old blogge – a theme for one day of the week: Mindful Mondays.

Each Monday I am going to post about something related to introducing more mindfulness into my life. I’ve been fascinated by (and dabbled in) Buddhist thinking and practice since I was first introduced to it in Writing Down the Bones, by Natalie Goldberg, way back in the early nineties. Reading Robert Wright’s Why Buddhism is True: The Science and Philosophy of Enlightenment  reminded me recently of all that just “clicks” for me about this philosophy.

And I promise not to get all preachy about it, like I just turned raw vegan or something. That’s not really my style. This is more my style:

I couldn’t have said it better myself.

Initially I balked at the idea of having to BUY something with which to sit still and empty my mind, but after a couple of painful attempts at meditating last week, I reconsidered my stance.

I found this cushion on Amazon.ca and both the price and the reviews were fantastic. I am absolutely thrilled with my buckwheat-filled zafu.

Loving this cushion

It’s still hard AF to quiet my mind, but at least my hips, legs, and back aren’t yelling at me the whole time. I could sit for a whole 10 minutes this morning. Baby steps, people, baby steps!

Rock on,

The WB

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This is Getting Old

The new email subscription widget I oh-so hopefully installed yesterday doesn’t work so I’ve removed it.

I tried subscribing with various emails (personal, work, theWB@widowbadass.com)…got an error message with each one when I clicked on the link to confirm my subscription. Shit.

Spent about an hour trying to figure out the problem with no success and finally decided it is not to be, for whatever reason. At least not for today. So the offending widget has been plucked, once again!

My old subscription widget (Feedburner) is still sending out emails with blog posts despite being inactivated AND deleted, so please unsubscribe (click link in email) if you receive one.

I sure hope Jetpack isn’t lying when they say people will be offered to subscribe to the blog through the comments. If someone could try it out and let me know if it actually works, that would be great.

This is all I have for today – I have to move on to other necessities of life, like grocery shopping and trying to catch up on the work backlog. See you on the blog tomorrow!

Rock on,

The WB

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