Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Fountain of Youth.

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Dear Beautiful Sarah Jane,

You saw my photograph and asked me, “If I found the fountain of youth?” On the one hand I took this to be a wonderful compliment, but I also saw this as an earnest question worthy of thoughtful reflection and consideration. It is however, a bit like asking, “what’s the secret or meaning of life?” The short answer is, “I don’t know.”

The Fountain of Youth is something I’m not in search of. Perhaps that’s the secret to finding it. Stop looking. What a gorgeous paradox this is.

I am now safely on the other side of young. But it wasn’t necessarily an easy journey getting here. Learning to accept that I am aging. Growing older in this Earth Suit that will one day expire. Accepting the changes to the way I look has at times been difficult. I’m still startled and spooked by the old woman who stares hauntingly at me in the mirror. But thankfully I’m less preoccupied these days with hanging onto the young “me” I once was. I am now more interested in being well, in particular, well in my soul. Could be another secret Sarah Jane.

This is who I am now.

Today, in this photograph, I look like this. Some days I look worse. Tragic even. Rod Stewart put it best in his song Maggie May, “the morning sun when it’s in your face really shows your age.” It’s true. Morning light can be a real buzz kill to an old broad like me. Ah, but afternoon light, after a good night’s sleep and a cup of chai tea with someone you love, works miracles. One more secret maybe Sarah Jane.

I have always looked younger than my age. Possibly because I’m physically small and spiritually large. I look inwards more than outwards. I explore fearlessly my interior world and let the exterior grow out of that. I meditate and do yoga every day. Is there some clue in this practice Sarah Jane?

I eat well and wisely most of the time. But then I also devoured a big bag of Lays potato chips last night. I never go to bed with makeup on. I brush my teeth three times a day. Take vitamins. Drink gallons of water daily. Laugh out loud a lot. I burp like a pig. I play music. Sing in the shower. Sit in the shade on sunny days. Go for long walks up country roads. I take tons of pictures on my cell phone. Read books and write something every day. I keep my mind open to the possibilities. Pursue wisdom and knowledge. I never stop learning. And most importantly, I hang out with dogs and good people of all ages. A secret there perchance Sarah Jane?

I love fashion. But ironically hate to shop, unless I’m with “my girls.” Then it’s fun. Especially if we stop for lunch and gossip. I do love clothes though. I’ve learned that if worn well, they cover up a whole host of not-so-pretty issues that develop as you age. Some people probably think I dress inappropriately for my age. I say fuck them. Or that I’m too old to wear my hair so long and dye it red. I say fuck those people too. I swear. And I’m unapologetic. I don’t know if there’s a secret in that Sarah Jane.

Then there’s just plain old luck and good genes. My mother was Italian. She was small physically, spiritually large and had beautiful flawless skin all the days of her life. She also dyed her hair jet black right up until the very end when she was too ill to do so. She taught me all the things I have just shared with you. Except she didn’t swear.

One last thing Sarah Jane, my sweet butterfly. Stay fierce about life in all its colors and complexities. Never let go of your curiosity and always stay close to the ones you love.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Listening to Books.

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I love to read. I end each day snuggled under my shabby chic bedding, with my head propped on a stack of soft marshmallowy pillows, reading glasses perched on the end of my plastered-in-night-cream nose, tea, warm milk or water on the bedside table and a good book in my hungry hands. I can’t think of a better way to end the day.

But I also enjoy listening to books.

This simple pleasure dates back to the last year I lived in Toronto, the one and only year that I drove in that fabulous and fatiguing city. Back then I particularly enjoyed listening to Wayne Dyer during my drive time to and from work. His soothing and reassuring voice comforted me during many difficult days, and gave me the courage I needed to move 4,000 miles across the country with two kids and 3 cats, and with absolutely no prospect for work. Nada. There was only this inexplicable and powerful yearning to go west, the kind that I imagine the early pioneers must have possessed. And there was also the unwavering belief that a better life waited for us on the other side of the mountains, next to the big blue sea.

Plus, I just had faith. Faith that if I did this very big and scary thing, it would all turn out okay. That God and the Universe and my Fairy Godmother would provide. We 3 Kings would be taken care of. And we were.

Some of my favorite audio books have been Christmas gifts from my son. There have been a few where I’ve thought, “this can’t possibly be something I’d enjoy. What was he thinking?” But those were often the very ones that I’ve enjoyed the most. Like Beyond the White House by Jimmy Carter or The Elephant to Hollywood by Michael Caine or the one he gave me this year Brief Encounters by Dick Cavett. I can’t even begin to tell you how much I loved Billy Crystal’s Still Foolin’ Em. I laughed and cried in equal doses listening to this one and was reminded once again why I’m such a huge fan of this man.

All really wonderful books that I probably never would have even given a second glance had he not been given them to me.

I just finished listening to Bossypants by Tina Fey. I read the book when it first came out in paperback and it was an enormously entertaining read. But listening to Tina read her own words, was nothing short of brilliant. I realized that the voice inside my head reading Bossypants was all wrong. It was me doing Tina. So to hear the real McCoy was heavenly and a much richer experience.

The thing I like the most about listening to audio books is the intimacy of being alone in my truck while someone’s reading to me. There’s just something precious, no matter how old you are, about having someone read to you. For that brief encounter, I am able to suspend all disbelief, and imagine that I’m sitting with Barack Obama or Steve Martin or Bill Bryson or The Beatles while they tell me – just me – a very personal story about their life. It’s beautiful and lovely. I highly recommend it. Not as a replacement for reading books. I would never in a million years suggest such bibliophilic blasphemy. But in addition to reading, and especially if you’re crunched for time.

You can listen and learn something new. Listen and laugh out loud. Listen and cry your eyes out. Listen and ponder the wonders of the universe.

Or you can just listen. And enjoy.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Hang Out With Animals.

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Girl Warrior.  Hang out with animals. It’s next to impossible to be in a foul mood when you do. They have an infinite capacity to lift the spirits of their human friends. You’ll be happier and healthier in their furry or feathery company. Your beaming joyous face is proof positive.

Pet a dog when you’re anxious and within minutes you’ll be relaxed. Watch a cat chase a light beam around the room and you’ll find yourself giggling hysterically. Cuddle a bunny and you’ll know instantly why good things come in small packages. Sit in front of a fish tank for ten minutes and without effort you’ll be meditating. Listen to the birds sing and you’ll know what real communication is all about. Get on the back of a horse and you’ll understand the true meaning of balance and strength.

If you’re feeling blue, they’ll brighten your day. If you’re lonely, they’ll be there. They’ll teach you things about loyalty, faithfulness, dedication, steadfastness, resilience, trust, courage and bravery.

And most importantly, about unconditional love.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Open Your Heart Wide and Let in the Love.

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Girl Warrior. Go where your heart leads you. And don’t run from its softness. Let it be tender. Kind. Compassionate. Gentle. Extend your hand to another and grab on tight. Then let go. Therein lies your strength.

Love again. Then again. And again. You don’t have to get it right. Or perfect. Just let love come naturally. Accept that sometimes it will hurt. Don’t let this frighten you. Don’t push it away. Or turn your back. Don’t give up on it. Most importantly, learn to recognize love when it comes your way. It doesn’t always come gift-wrapped.

Your power to love is your secret weapon.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Get a Kick Out of Life.

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Girl Warrior. Get a kick out of life. Have fun. Find things that amuse and delight you. Not just once and awhile. But every day. Don’t put it off for the weekend. For vacation. Or another time. Hoot and holler right now. Find your zippity doo dah.

Make a joyful sound. Cause a ruckus. Bang on your drum all day. Laugh your guts out. Until you cry. Embrace happiness. Enjoy the people you’re with right this very second.

Let them see your playful radiant blithe heart.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: The Power of Music.

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Lately every time I hear two particular songs on the truck radio, one particular person comes to mind. My first big love. You know what I’m talking about. The one you’ll never forget. Ever. No matter how hard you try. No matter how many times you tell yourself you’re a fool to feel this way. A foolish young girl then. An equally foolish old broad now.

I’ve also learned recently that time has no affect on this kind of love.

Chances are, I might never have realized just how big a deal this guy was to me had I not bought a truck. And had that truck not come loaded with six-months worth of Sirius Radio. And in case you’re wondering, six months is just long enough to become addicted to the billions of stations Sirius carries. You name it; they’ve got a station for that. Let’s just say I’ve listened to a lot of good music over the past five years.

Last summer I discovered a station called The Bridge. This station features mellow classic rock and ‘70s folk rock. There’s a lot of acoustic stuff from guys like Jackson Browne and James Taylor. I had no idea I liked their music so much until I started tuning into The Bridge.

In addition to discovering a ton of fabulous old-new music, I’ve also taken a few trips back to another era in my life, all the while driving in this one. It was bound to happen. I’d hear a song or two that reminded me of him. Ones that would fill my spirit with doleful lamentations and serve as poignant reminders that even the passage of time and tornadoes, the heart simply remembers what the head discards with yesterdays old love letters.

The first song, the happier memory-maker of the two, is Paul McCartney’s Maybe I’m Amazed. I say this one is happier only because this song was from the beginning of our affair with love. Picture this. A darkened room lit only by a single candle stuck into the top of a Chianti bottle, the kind with the fiasco basket, with rivers of wax dripping down onto the table. This was a classic ‘70s mood-setter. Now tune your ears to this. He puts Maybe I’m Amazed on his record player and says, “This song is how I feel about you. I think of you every time I hear it.” Nice. I was intoxicated. Not only by his earnest declaration of love, that was beyond anything I could have ever imagined, but by the Chianti. I was seriously drunk. Which explains why I thought something like this, “I must be amazing if a guy as cute and popular and sexy as him, feels this way about me. And he played the piano just like Paul McCartney. How did I get so lucky?”

So Maybe I’m Amazed is the happy ‘in the beginning, everything is new and wonderful, once upon a time fairytale’ song.

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And then there’s Carole King’s It’s Too Late. Picture this. It’s the middle of summer. It’s stinking hot and humid in Northwestern Ontario. I’m pregnant with my first big love’s child. And we’ve split the sheets. As in gone our separate ways. Or more accurately, he’s gone touring and my heart has gone in about a million separate ways. Now tune your ears to this. The phone rings. I pick it up. Hear my first big love’s voice on the other end. My heart momentarily lifts to glorious angelic heights. “He wants me back,” I hopefully (and foolishly) think. Then he says this, “I thought of you today. That Carole King song, It’s Too Late came on the radio this afternoon.” I don’t remember a word he said after that. I just remember putting down the phone and lying in the middle of my bedroom floor on my back, staring up at the ceiling. And bawling my fucking brains out. My life was over. Of course, it wasn’t. It just felt that way.

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Eventually I picked myself up off the floor and started the life that would lead to the life I have today. One filled with music. And love. And love of music.

There you have it. Drive time. Two beautiful piano songs accompanied by two bittersweet memories.

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Diaries of The Breadman’s Daughter: Stare Down Your Fears.

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Girl Warrior.  Stare down your fears. Look them straight in the eyes. Laugh at them. Call their bluff. Walk right through them. Don’t go around. Don’t avoid. Face them head-on. Take a deep breath. Or a hundred breaths.

Make your move. And keep moving. Shaky legs, a racing heart, lump in the throat or dry mouth are just the silly antics of fear. Not real. Feel the fear and do it anyway. Find your brave heart and take it into battle. Give yourself a hug.

Then go out and kick some ass.

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