Rebranding a Marriage: Change the game this Valentine’s Day

valentines symbols loveMarried to a man? Congratulations. They’re really quite durable and can put up with a heck of a lot. And it’s always nice to have something warm and solid to lean against whilst one ties one’s shoes. Married to a woman? Double congratulations. Through the grace of our exotic majesty you are invited to bear witness to the sublime… and that’s just before breakfast. Continue reading

Dare to celebrate ‘The Before’

celebrate the before Strip down and take a good long look in the mirror. Your reflection is the photo-physical manifestation of every decision you’ve ever made, your unique genetic relationship with time and externals, and your current system state. Which is to say… this is you, now. This image is the fullness of your humanity expressed in a single quantization of time. Reject it, and you reject the entirety of your existence. Accept it with unrelenting compassion, and you – maybe for the first time – discover love.

But what use is philosophical intellectualization when your whole body wilts with shame at the mortification of having allowed your dimensions to start sliding off the bell curve of culturally indoctrinated hotness? Actually, you’d be surprised. But you’ve got to get down and dirty if you’re going win over your limbic mascot (your emotional brain) and get your whole system on board for celebrating and loving ‘The Before’.

My hallway mirror and I had been ships in the mist all fall and winter, so it was quite a surprise, come spring, to discover I was a honkin’ 30lbs heavier than my bikini ideal. Philosophy’s fun, sure, but damn it I’m a girl! I hardly recognized my own body; I had become a ‘Before’!! No one else to blame. Sure I’d been dealing with grief, and a winter that dragged me along with it to its bitter slushy end, but I was also digging deep into my humanity in an exploration of… Ya, ya, truth is I lasciviously maxed out my glamours and insatiables in an unrestrained orgy of debauchery, mostly while wearing extremely unrestraining track pants – hence my surprise.

“Oh shit,” I said, looking down, “this is not good, not good at all.”

I happen to be one of those lucky bitches who gets off on broccoli and hiking, so losing weight wasn’t my biggest concern. But I really didn’t want to feel like shit for the next few months while I whittled myself back down to my ideal system state proportions. Solution? Push the boundaries of permission (introduced last post).

warning signI’m not kidding about down and dirty! OK, first up, permission to experience gratuitous joy in sensory context of body, connecting experience of body with ebullient brain state. Homework: new morning routine of dancing naked to fave tunes in celebration of being a woman who peaks her pleasures with total abandon. Hell ya! Next, take fun (strategically flattering!) ‘before’ pic that is a celebration in itself (see pic – pssst missing letter is M). Note: I know I look ironically, infuriatingly skinny in mine – one word people… ANGLES! Rework wardrobe to accept and accentuate new curves to improve aesthetic and social feedback. Done, and done.

But we’ve got to get our primitive brains primed if we want a true visceral change in perspective. I had to somehow seduce Mitch-the-insatiable-itch. Dressed as full-on Christina Hendricks from Mad Men sexy buxom secretary, I “took my new tits out on the town” – objectively ignoring anyone who was ignoring me and replaying any and all ogling to imprint it in my memory. I also made sure to engage in some very strategic boob-centric flirtations – figured hubby wouldn’t mind since it was all in the name of ‘research’ ~wink.

The internet will give you precedent of permission for almost anything. Thus, I discovered ‘gainers’ and the men who love them. Google if you dare! Defining the extremes can help you find your place in between. Nerd that I am, I made notes. I paid close attention to the specific language the women used when talking about their bodies and expressing their fantasies. I also made note of the luxurious, sometimes surprising, ways their men touched/fondled/caressed different areas.

Permission to celebrate ‘The Before’ must come from within, so once again I left my own man on the sidelines so I could take permission into um… er… my own hands. All for brain science! Now, without getting too TMI here, I can only say this: training a new glamour by incorporating the gainer language, visualizations, and tactile techniques into my own experience made for an… um… ‘transformative’ eventcelebration hat – the first time, the second, the… But I’m afraid my brain training may have worked a little too well. I’m actually sitting here thrilling in my own cleavage. So why am I still bothering to lose the weight? Find out in an upcoming post!

Funerals, peas, and a red lipstick kiss goodbye

red lipstick kissWhen my grandfather’s heart stopped this past spring, he used his one last moment of decision to kiss my grandmother goodbye. In a church full of black, she wore her favourite deep red skirt suit to his funeral. She curled her hair, coordinated her makeup, and stood tall and graceful in a scene of unimaginable bravery. Theirs was one of the true great love stories, sustained over half a century by affection, faith, courage, and generosity. There would be space and time for grief, but my grandmother chose that day to celebrate the life and love of her extraordinary man.

What came as a shock to us all, especially to my strong, beautiful grandmother, was that there would be only five short months of space and time before she too would pass – the very day before what would have been their 60th wedding anniversary. Neither would have to spend an anniversary alone. My own extraordinary man and I celebrated our 10th anniversary this August. I’ll always be grateful to my grandparents for offering their unconditional love and support when we got married just 5 short months after meeting.

I wouldn’t tell anyone what I was planning for my part of my grandmother’s eulogy, only that I was bringing a prop. I knew was already taking a risk with my leopard print leggings, but since she’d once showed me a snakeskin print tunic/pants outfit from the back of her closet, I figured I was in good company. When it was my turn to speak, I took a step to one side of the pulpit and up at the front of the church, in full view of friends, family, two Reverends, and the entire congregation, I carefully applied a good thick gloss of bright red lipstick.

Appropriate? Sure! We all laughed, and then of course, I completely fell apart describing how my grandmother always used glamour, not as a mask, but as a celebration of the way she saw the world – and her family – full of promise and wonder, and worthy of the very best she could bring to the table.

Peas and mushrooms recipeIn a literal sense, what a table! Using the delicious and ingenious strategy of cooking healthy dishes (like their famous peas and mushrooms) they teamed up to keep their love story alive and well far past its genetic due date – telomeres be darned! This Thanksgiving weekend was the family’s first without our dear Matriarch and Patriarch. While the gift of the Quebec cottage they built with their own hands will stay with the family (thank heavens!), their Ontrio home, with all its comforting smells, sounds, collections, and textures, is being dismantled for sale. And individual objects, once separated from their context, begin to lose their meaning.

I am a woman who lives through her senses (through rarely common-sense), and this Thanksgiving I gave thanks to my grandparents the best way I knew how. I made their magical peas and mushrooms (my version above). My kitchen was filled with the smells and tastes of tradition. I added some sauteed onions for some next generation flair, and melted in enough butter to have horrified my grandmother. But time stopped for those few hours, and the unfathomable concept of loss was made tangible. Grief took a physical form, as it had with my lipstick, but in doing so became a celebration.

This morning, my man slept through 5 snooze alarms and by 6:30am I was ranting at him for risking being massively late for a 7:30am dentist appointment. Seeing his pensive face (because who likes going to the dentist anyway), I caught myself. To lighten the mood, I threw a sock at his head from the 3 day old pile of unfolded laundry on our bed. He whipped it back and it got me right in the neck! But when the mock battle subsided, I lifted my face to his, closed my eyes, and waited for our sacred ritual – because you never know how much time you have. Gone was the warrior with impeccable aim, here was a husband, giving his wife a kiss goodbye.

Multi-tasking mushroom soup + casserole recipe = A threeway even monogamists can enjoy!


Why let one man, one woman, or one flavour profile hold you back in your quest for sensory bliss. We monogamists have the secret… adding a dash of this, a dash of that, changing it up to make every night a new recipe for…

Night One – Comforting Soup
3 cans condensed mushroom soup
3-4 cups sliced mushrooms (or one large package)
1 bunch celery (chopped)
1 bunch parsley (chopped)
8 green onions (chopped with whites separated)
2 tbsp butter/oil
1 tps dried thyme (or to taste)
salt/pepper to taste
grated cheddar (to garnish)

In your largest soup pot, sauté mushrooms, onion whites, and celery in butter until just softened. Add canned soup and water (+ extra 1/2 can water). Add thyme/salt/pepper to taste. Add 1/3 parsley and 1/3 onion greens. Simmer 5 min+ to combine flavours… serve with garnishes.

Night Two – Surprising Stir-Up
leftover mushroom soup
1 large can corn niblets
3 cups fusilli pasta
retained garnishes

Prepare pasta according to package (al dente). Add drained + rinsed corn to reheated soup. Stir in pasta… serve with garnishes. Note: you may have to alter the pasta proportion depending on how much soup is left over.

Night Three – Personal Casserole
leftover mushroom stir-up
lots-o-cheese
retained garnishes

Heat leftover stir-up on stovetop (pasta will have expanded to absorb soup liquid). Divide into oven safe bowls and top with hefty amount of cheese. Broil until cheese is bubbling. Garnish and serve.

Famous Valentines: Quotes about Virginia Woolf by her husband Leonard Woolf

Virginia Woolf, a prototypical Blank Canvas Thinker, and self proclaimed “explorer” from birth, found in her husband, Leonard, a patient motivator who loved her with an understanding and forgiveness that speaks of a joining of two souls on a level beyond most modern concepts of marriage. While Virginia innovated the novel form with stream of consciousness and progressive female-centric values, Leonard set up Hogarth press in their Richmond house, both to publish his wife’s work and as a way to finance her literary explorations. When the interviewer in this wonderful youtube snippit asks Leonard why he stopped writing his own fiction, Leonard replies in what may sound to some a simple practicality; but coming from a man worthy of mental partnership with one of the most creative intellectuals of the 20th century, his answer, “one of us had to give it up,” (delivered surprisingly matter-of-fact) is heart-wrenchingly poetic.

On his wife’s genius…
“She had a combination of imagination and intelligence which is extremely rare, I think.”

On his wife’s magic…
“Every now and then, she would do what I call ‘leave the ground’ and give the most fantastic account of a perfectly ordinary thing which had happened or which she’d seen.”

On his wife being (occasionally) the object of ridicule…
“She dressed, I think, very beautifully, but rather unlike most people – and walked about in this curious way.”

Many scholars consider Virginia’s 1941 river suicide a sacrifice for love, to save Leonard from further anguish. But why don’t they understand – why didn’t Virginia understand – that any man who would chose to put on hold the chance at his own greatness for the woman who needed all of him, would have (with that same matter-of-fact grace) spent the last of his strength dragging her back up on to shore. For his true greatness will always be in helping his wife endure hers.