Monday, May 31, 2010

Pimpin' it for the Troops


To me, it can't be Memorial Day without remembering what Memorial Day is for, can it?

So, in honor of our troops, here are a few ways to get involved supporting them.

Remember, whether or not you support the war, there are real people out there fighting for a cause. They definitely need our love and continued support.

***

One of my favorite causes, IAVA (Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America), is asking that we remind our family and friends what Memorial Day is all about.

Check here for some ideas on how to spread the word.

***

Move America Forward is always asking for supporters to send care packages to the troops.

I loved sending care packages when Soldier was deployed. Because he was an officer, I frequently sent more than enough so that he could share with his men. He would send me pictures of smiling soldiers playing with random toys my daughters would throw in the box. We'd also go to the party store and buy silly games or hacky sacks just for entertainment value. They ate it up.

He even gave some gifts to the Iraqi children.

Check out The Campaign Store to send care packages. All it takes is a small donation to make someone's day.

***

Donate to Sarah's cause: Wounded Warrior Project

Sarah is planning on running in the New York City marathon this fall. This is the same marathon where her brother Ryan died in 2007. She is running in Ryan's honor and attempting to raise money for the troops who come home wounded from war.

***

You can also support the USO. Or send a thank you email through A Million Thanks.

***

Or simply take a moment, when you're slurping down some barbecue or a margarita, when you're enjoying the beauty of a cloudless sunshiny day with your family around the pool, when you're sitting at a baseball game with your buddies, and remember what the true meaning of the day is for.

Please remember to say Thank You.

Thursday, May 27, 2010

Going the distance



How can I resist a movie trailer about a long distance relationship?

I mean, REALLY?

Especially with such a fun cast!

Thanks to Happy Long Distance Relationships for the heads up. Check out the movie website for more information.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Skeletons

I had a fairly normal childhood. Mom, Dad, me, sis, bro. My dad's parents, Mema and Papa, lived 3 houses down from us. We were all very close.

My parents divorced when I was in my early 20's. It was tough on our family but soon my parents were close friends. They remained close until my father passed away in 2007.

Right before my father found out abut his terminal cancer, he asked my sister and brother and I to join him on a 3-way phone call for something important. On the call, he admitted that Mema and Papa were not our real grandparents.

Papa's sister, my Great-Aunt Rose, was a single mom and took in boarders after WWII. Apparently, one such soldier/boarder impregnated her. I'm not sure if it was rape or consensual... but I do know that he left her alone and frightened. She called up Mema and Papa and said she was thinking of taking her own life.

Mema and Papa, in the meantime, were trying, unsuccessfully, to get pregnant. They agreed to adopt this baby boy from my great-aunt. The baby boy was my dad.

Soon after adopting him, as is wont to happen, they became pregnant with my dad's sister.

Great-Aunt Rose asked my grandmother to hold this secret from my father, which she did, until Rose died. Upon hearing the news, my father was furious at my grandmother. He always felt that his sister was treated better than he was. He also always thought my Great-Aunt Rose's son was treated better than he was. His cousin was now his brother. And his mother was dead. He was pissed.

He brought us in on this secret because he was angry at my grandparents and thought we should know how unfairly he was treated.

Have I ever told you that my dad's family is Sicilian? As in, the people who live by the term "vendetta"? Yeah. True story.

***

My sister and her husband are in the middle of a nasty divorce. I've kept the full story pretty vague on the blog. The reason for this is, well, it is the most upsetting, stress-filled pain in our family right now.

And then this morning...

My soon-to-be-ex-brother-in-law, whom I adore, was contacted by someone claiming to be my sister's half-sister!

As a family, we are unsure where her story comes from. We're working through it. We also have to be gentle in discussing this with my sister who is already in an extremely volatile place. My mother is distraught.

I'm left wondering, which way is up?

***

I'm also left wondering, WTF?!

I feel like my family is being challenged in ways beyond it ever has been before. Even beyond my parent's divorce and my father's terminal cancer!

I feel as if up is down and left is right. What I thought I knew, I no longer know!

My family depends on me to hold it together, to be the strong one, to keep my sanity, to tell it like it is. What I'm realizing is that I could slowly be driven insane if I take ownership of any of this.

Watching my sister make, what could possibly be, the biggest mistake of her life so far...

Watching my mother do what she can to be supportive and loving to my sister and her children and yet, breakdown over the stress it is causing in her own life...

Worrying about those kids...

Hearing the stories...

The sadness...

The anger...

The bitter frustration...

The utter confusion...

What is the truth? Who is right? Will everyone be OK? Is this going to slowly kill my family from the inside out?

We are breaking.

The best thing that I can do is KNOW that it is not in my hands. Though it seems like chaos has stricken my family, I have to have FAITH that everything is working out in a pattern that I do not yet recognize. I do not have a 30,000 foot view of this. I am in it, though I fight like mad not to be.

What I thought I knew, I no longer know. Some One else knows what's going on here. I have to rely on faith that my family will be OK.


"The way of a fool is right in his own eyes: but he that hearkeneth unto counsel is wise."
~ Proverbs 12:15

"Remember how many times you thought you knew all the 'facts' you needed for judgment, and how wrong you were! Is there anyone who has not had this experience? Would you know how many times you merely thought you were right, without ever realizing you were wrong? Why would you choose such an arbitrary basis for decision making? Wisdom is not judgment; it is the relinquishment of judgment. Make then but one more judgment. It is this: There is Someone with you Whose judgment is perfect. He does know all the facts; past, present and to come. He does know all the effects of His judgment on everyone and everything involved in any way. And He is wholly fair to everyone, for there is no distortion in His perception."
~ A Course in Miracles

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

Mothers be good to your daughters...



My daughters and I, thus far, have really great relationships. As a single, working mom of two, I'm not sure I could ask for more.

I have noticed, as they get older, more interesting conversations and quirks. I love to document these things, if only on the blog, so that I can come back and remember...

***

Rose, my 8 year old, gets embarrassed easily. She won't allow me to put pictures of her on my personal Facebook page without her approval. She has begun writing poems but gets completely worked up if you giggle at the sheer cuteness of them! She even begged me to throw away my Mother's Day poem!

Yet, she's feeling more comfortable about singing in front of people. She has an amazing voice. She has no problem showing off her beautiful artwork and creative comic strips.

She sat for an hour the other day and read a book of poems that I'd written. Maybe that will inspire her to let her creativity continue to shine forth without shame!

***

Yesterday, Grace, my 5 year old, pulled me out into the backyard to show me her new "trick".

She whipped up into a handstand and landed on her feet in a full backbend.

What the?!?

"When did you learn to do that?!" I asked her.

"I don't know. I just tried it."

Um... time to put this girl in gymnastics like NOW!

***

After hearing the Carrie Underwood song "Before He Cheats", my daughters asked me for the definition of "cheating". I explained that cheating meant that someone was secretly keeping another boyfriend or girlfriend. I was unprepared for the following questions:

Have you ever cheated on someone? How did they find out? Did you break up after that? Has some one ever cheated on you? How did you find out? Did you do all the stuff she says in the song.

I did admit to cheating. Thankfully they didn't ask for more details. I also admitted to being cheated on and showing my rage.

I also told them that that I came forth to confess my dishonesty to the other person. They both agreed, "Mommy, that's very good that you told the truth. I bet the other person is thankful that you did that."

Yeah, I hope so.

***

Oh... little girls also mean GIRL DRAMA.

Rose came home last week upset because of a rumor she heard. Several girls who were her friends last year are now saying she's mean and they don't like her.

My poor baby is like me. She wants to be liked by everyone! And she usually is! Other kids want to be around her and her silly nature. Unfortunately, however, she does have a shy side. Her shyness, sadly, is frequently taken as snobbiness - something I've been warning her of for years.

She asked what I would do and I told her that I would approach the girls. Her eyes grew as wide as saucers.

"Ask them. Just go up and ask them if they said it."

"But Mommy, what if they say they don't like me?!"

"Well, then you'll know, right?"

I asked Grace what advice she would offer her big sister, "When you see them, go up and give them a BIG HUG! (pause) And if that doesn't work, go tell the teacher."

My baby girl...

The next day, Rose came to me with a happy spring in her step.

"Mommy, I solved my problem!" she began, "I went up to the girls but I brought my friend with me. I told them what I'd heard and they said it was true. They said they thought I was mean. I told them that *I* didn't think I was mean. And then they said, 'OK, we don't think so either! We'll be your friend!'"

She was thrilled.

Gosh... if only it were that easy in adulthood, right?

***

My girls make me smile so much. I hope I'm raising good, honest and loving kids. So far, it seems, so good.

Monday, May 24, 2010

Making the most of it

I love my job.

I really do. There are lots of reasons for me to like it here.

One of the frustrating things, however, is that I haven't had a pay raise in over 2 years.

Now, for someone who always worked for large corporations, this is unheard of. We always received some sort of review/raise every year. This job, however, is different. We are a small (like TINY) business where half of the employees are actually owners of the company. The economy has hit us and yet, we're still hanging in there. I feel almost selfish for even suggesting a pay raise.

"If I could just get $300 more a month." I said to the CEO today.

"You know what you'd do with that $300 more a month?" he asked.

"Yeah yeah..."

I know I'd spend it.

Its kind of like... buying a bigger purse. Or a bigger house.

We think, "Oh I'll have more room!" And then what do we do? Fill it up. Suddenly we need a BIGGER purse or a BIGGER house.

Maybe getting a divorce was a blessing because I moved to a home that was half the size of the one I shared with my husband. We had to simplify. Donate. Scale down.

Now my daughters are asking for a bigger room.

Ahhh well, we gotta start somewhere.

***

I've been thinking about this since I mentioned wanting more money. The CEO is right. I can make the most of my earnings now. I am so grateful to have a job.

I know its possible.

How do YOU make the most of things?

Money, space, time, food, etc?

Please share your ideas!

Sunday, May 23, 2010

I wonder if parenting small children is a leading cause of divorce...

I say that because of the number of married girlfriends I have that are considering divorce and all of them have small children.

All of them complain about a partner who has checked out.

A loss of connection.

A lack of attention.

Exhaustion.

Frustration.

A feeling of "I deserve better than this."

A loss of identity.

A yearning for an escape.

I have no doubt in my mind that the men in these relationships feel the same way. In fact, I had many of these same complaints in my own marriage.


"The most important thing a father can do for his children is to love their mother."
~ Theodore Hesburgh


The fact is, raising small children is extremely difficult work. As the parents of the children, there has to be a stronger effort to stay connected, to listen, to be attentive, to show appreciation, to take time for each other AND for ourselves. So many of us lose ourselves in our children. So many of us parents today are trying to be more attentive, more allowing, more something better than MY parents did for me.

And when we do that, I think we're sacrificing a big part of ourselves, aren't we?

We're losing ourselves. One of my girlfriends told me she "deifies" her children. When we do that, doesn't that mean we're nothing but slaves to our children? Nothing but mere worshipers to their every whim, need and desire?

Maybe what I'm saying here sounds blasphemous to new parents or even newly single parents. I remember feeling that way. I remember those first few days without my girls... as a new mom... as a newly single mom... I thought I would die. They were my very soul, my lifeline, the blood that coursed through my veins.

Then one day, I thought, "Ok, I need to do something for me. Something that makes me feel like ME again." I felt guilty about it. How dare I do something I enjoy that takes me away from my children!

Then I got over it eventually.


Well, ok, I still have those mom-guilt ridden moments...

Now, because I nurture me, I feel like a better parent than I was before. Sure, I'm a *different* parent. There are lots of things I wish I could do for my girls. Because of lack of time or money or the fact that there's only one of me and two of them, I can't always do those things. But you know what? They're doing JUST FINE. In fact, they're blossoming into two intelligent, mature, sweet, caring, independent young girls who appreciate the things I AM able to do for them.

I am a better me to my man too. We're both parents but we take time for each other. We both realize the value in staying connected to each other. We both recognize that date nights MUST BE HAD. Time together is very important. Time alone, even from each other, helps us stay sane.

The sad part is that each of us had to move on from past relationships where we *didn't* do that in order to see the value in it.

And come to think of it, I think losing yourself PERIOD is probably the leading cause of relationship demise. Many of us, parents or not, lose ourselves in our partner and forget to nurture ourselves.

***

Ya know how, when you're on an airplane and they're going over the safety features of the plane, they always say,

"In case of emergency, oxygen masks will drop from overhead. For those traveling with small children, be sure to fasten your own mask before assisting your child."

And that whole "it takes a village" to raise a child?

Well, hey, as cliche as they sound, I've come to realize they're true.

  • Take care of yourself first or you're no good to your child or anyone else. Find an outlet of pleasure that isn't harmful to your relationship with your partner or yourself. Eat healthily. Exercise.

  • Ask for help. Then ALLOW others to help you.

  • Let some things go. I promise the mess will still be there tomorrow. Even better than that, reward your children for picking up their own messes.

  • Say "no" sometimes. To those things that push you into overwhelm mode. To your children. I promise they'll survive. 

  • Laugh more. Alone. With your partner. With your friends. Then you'll find yourself laughing more with your children.


These things take effort on the part of BOTH parents. Unfortunately, we're not taught these things. We're not warned. We're not even aware.

I'm no divorce counselor but I do know that if more parents of small children did these things, I think the divorce rate would decrease and there would be a lot more happier people.

Big people AND little people.


***Coincidentally, I wrote this blog post and then saw Shrek Forever After that evening. The movie's focus was this exact same topic.***

Thursday, May 20, 2010

The Power of Compassion

I've meant to sit down and write a blog post ALL DAY LONG but just never had the chance. I've had several ideas brewing for a while.

*deep breath*

Where to start?

***

I've wanted to write a post about positive thinking and how its done so blindly. I was going to call it, "The Negative of Positive Thinking."

I've done that. I would tell myself, "No matter what, I have to be positive, no matter how much hell I see around me." That way of thinking helped me through the worst of times, many times.

But I also found that sometimes, I didn't want to be effin positive. Sometimes I was just pissed off at the world and I wanted to feel it to my core!! And then I would kick my own ass for not being positive.

Surely, there was a better way.

***

I also wanted to write a post about how I watched a PBS special on The Buddha.

I've had an interest in Buddhism for some time but have never delved into it with as much passion as A Course in Miracles. Watching that special on the life of the Buddha definitely spurred my interest. I've been considering visiting a local Buddhist temple to see what it is like. I like the contented smile on the monks I saw on TV. I want some of that.

Mostly, what I want to understand is the Buddhist concept of compassion. Oh, I'm compassionate with others.

Where I lack compassion is for myself.

Didn't I just say how much I kick my own ass?


***

Then sometime today, perhaps it was when I was chatting with a friend who is leaving her husband, I realized that I had to put all of this together in one blog post.

She is absolutely wallowing in self-loathing. She is destroying herself for these feelings and is convinced that her husband and children will hate her. She is, and I recognize it oh so well, kicking her own ass too.

I spent the entire conversation trying to convince her to be more compassionate with herself. I wasn't trying to be positive. I told her in no uncertain terms that what she was feeling was perfectly normal and that she should allow herself to feel it.

***

The best advice that I could give, and what I recall about my own recovery after the decision to leave, was that I absolutely couldn't focus too much on the past we shared or the future that wouldn't be. No, I had to take it one moment at a time.

And when I couldn't help but be sad about the past or future, I had to cry.

Oh did I wail!

I used to put the kids to bed, go outside on the beautiful back patio of the home I was about to sell, crawl into the hot tub and literally howl at the moon. I'm sure my neighbors wondered what sorts of wild animals took up residence in the woods behind our homes. I was, quite excruciatingly, crushingly devastated.

I allowed myself to feel it.

I guess I was pretty compassionate with myself after all.

***

Is there a power in positive thinking?

Abso-freakin-lutely.

But I don't believe positive thinking means burying my head in the sand and pretending that I'm unphased by all that life sends my way.

Mercy is much more powerful than being positive.

I'm learning to allow myself to feel whatever I feel when I go through things... if only to be able to say, "Hey, would you look at that? There's shit. I'm living in it. And hey, would you look at THAT? I'm still breathing... how in the hell?"

I know that with all that I've been through, I've questioned beliefs about myself, limitations I put on myself and fears that I've fretted over time and time again.

When I allowed myself to feel those feelings, and I didn't try to fix them or figure them out or act like they weren't there, they went away faster.

And facing all of those fears that I worried about for so long and thought I'd never survive, but I did? I think it made me stronger.

Consequently, I found it was easier to be positive. Because then I could say, "Pfft. I'm not scared. Been there. Done that. Sang I Will Survive at karaoke."

Sometimes I couldn't even recognize the positive effects of what I went through until much, much later. Only then could I be grateful.

Maybe that is the true meaning of seeing the positive?

Maybe?



"Nothing is so strong as gentleness, nothing so gentle as real strength."
~ St. Francis de Sales

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

All I know

"Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky"


One of the amazing things about my relationship with Gentleman Jack is our conversations. What's so amazing about them?

If I'm thinking that we need to have a difficult conversation, even if I don't show it, even if I never mention it, he will somehow begin to talk about it. It is as if we share the same mind at times...


"Lovers they may cause your tears
Go ahead release your fears
Stand up and be counted don't be shamed to cry"


What I've also learned is that these conversations bring out the best or worst in each of us.

Sometimes...

He becomes a bratty little boy.

And I become a dramatic little girl.

But then I remember...


"You gotta be, you gotta be bad
You gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know love will save the day"


I have responsibility for my reactions to words. I am responsible for how I feel. I have a right to my thoughts and to express my needs. My needs DO matter. (Something I'd never considered before.)


"Herald what your mother said
Read the books your father read
Try to solve the puzzles in your own sweet time"


I get frustrated. I get angry. I get upset. I don't like when we disagree. But it is worse to NOT have the answers. It is worse to NOT talk about it.


"Some may have more cash than you
Others take a different view
My, oh, my, hey hey hey"


We ARE different people. We WILL disagree. Everything is still very much OK.


"You gotta be bad
You gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know love will save the day"


I am responsible for me. He is responsible for him.

He loves me.

I love him.

There are some days that will be more difficult than others.


"Time asks no questions it goes on without you
Leaving you behind if you can't stand the pace
The world keeps on spinning can't stop it if you tried to
This time its danger staring you in the face"


So when those days are difficult, I have to remember....


"Listen as your day unfolds
Challenge what the future holds
Try and keep your head up to the sky
Lovers they may cause your tears
Go ahead release your fears
My, oh, my, hey, hey, hey

You gotta be bad
You gotta be bold, you gotta be wiser
You gotta be hard, you gotta be tough, you gotta be stronger
You gotta be cool, you gotta be calm, you gotta stay together
All I know, all I know love will save the day"


Love WILL save the day.

It hasn't let me down yet.


Monday, May 17, 2010

Change

I could tell that something was bothering her. She wore a look of exasperation like a heavy drum upon her weary mind.

"I'm leaving my husband," she finally admitted, defeated.

****

The above scene has played out 3 times in my life since last week. Is there something in the air? The water? The COSMOS?

All three women have shared this information with me because they feel that I can offer some understanding. And I do. I understand their fears.

It is frightening to think of uprooting your entire life and the lives of your children.

I have given each of them the same sage offerings:

It's gonna suck.

You will go a little crazy.

You will lose some friends.

You will feel resentful of the obligations that come with single motherhood.

Your children will handle the new change just as well as you do.

You will find a new stigma that is associated with you and your children.

You will make mistakes in other relationships.

You will probably have your heart broken again.

You will still find dissatisfaction and loneliness once you are divorced but it won't be near as dissatisfying and lonely as being in a miserable marriage.

What that also means is that when you feel that way, you will have to look in the mirror and figure out why.

You can change your mind.

You can choose happiness.

You will keep the friends who matter and make new friends on the other side.

You will revel in joy for things that you did ALL BY YOURSELF; things that you never thought you could do before.

You will find someone who loves you for who you are NOW.

You will find a new normal.

You will be OK.




Change is difficult. Remember, though, that fighting it makes it even more difficult. Allow. Just as the trees don't try to hold on to the leaves that change in the fall, allow. Remember that fresh new leaves always reappear in the springtime. You will find your spring as well.


I offer these words to them. What would you say?

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Gratitude for the Weekend

While I'm still in a state of contentment, I want to offer gratitude for so much loveliness from the weekend:

  • Eat Pray Love - I've written that I cannot wait to see the movie when it hits theaters in August. It has also been quite a few years since I've read the book. I bought the audio book and listened to it during the normally 3 hour (but-always-4-hours-when-you-include-Dallas'-late-Friday-afternoon-traffic) drive to see Gentleman Jack. Listening made the rainy drive much quicker.
  • The Greek restaurant around the corner from Gentleman Jack's house - I stopped to pick up some yummy food for myself, my man and the boys on the drive in. No cooking = more time doing nothing
  • Carbon Copy and Fireball hugs - I love that both of GJ's boys rushed to greet me in the driveway so they could get hugs from me before their daddy did.
  • Being all wrapped up - I love LOVE when my man puts his arms around me. Remember this picture? Yeah. Like that.
  • That feeling of "wow its been forever" co-mingled with the feeling of "honey, I'm home" - Because we stay in such nearly constant communication, it feels very surreal to greet him after weeks apart. Part of me feels as if I haven't seen him in ages and the other part seems as if I've just gone to the store for some milk.
  • His sighs of absolute bliss - He stares at me on the couch next to him and literally sighs out loud in that "all is right in my world" kind of way. He caresses my face, rubs my back and touches me ever so gently as if I am precious sand art that could be blown away if the wind kicked up too hard. 
  • Movie time - He and I could sit and watch movies for HOURS. We usually get in at least one movie while we're together. There's something about being all snuggled up that makes the films that much more enjoyable.
  • Taking a break from our phones - Each of us keeps our phones nearby so that we can contact each other via text or call. We were both happy to put the phones away and contently BE with each other. 
  • Sex - Now do I really have to say anything about this? Its been 5 weeks people. 
  • Sleeping in - Even if he has to get up, he lets me sleep as late as I want. Mmmmm...hmmm....
  • Family time - We went to the boys' sporting events and stopped for ice cream. We ran a few errands. All as a family. I taught both boys how to play backgammon while Gentleman Jack made dinner. (A "dear LORD this is the best meal I've eaten in a while" dinner, I might add.) The day felt naturally comfortable for all of us.
  • Lying in bed by candlelight listening to Pandora radio - before sex, after sex, touching, talking, laughing, exploring... all of it was beautiful. Time stood still as we, very sincerely, enjoyed each other.
  • Snuggles, love, silliness, respect, kindness... - all of it was offered by the males in that house. They do literally treat me as if I'm a goddess. This girl ain't complaining!
  • My girls - I feel like a better mommy after the trip away and being spoiled rotten. I was happy to snuggle up with my girls this evening and listen to their stories about the weekend with their daddy. I felt present with them tonight, after being filled up with love this weekend. The best gift I can give them is presence.
I'm only passing on the gift as it was given to me.

Friday, May 14, 2010

Random thoughts before the weekend


I'm feeling SO sad about the oil spill in the gulf. I feel like my home state has suffered enough with Katrina and Rita and just, well, being Louisiana. Heh.

That's why that state's motto is "Laissez les bon temps rouler!" And that's why they have to party so hard in New Orleans. Maybe they understand the temporary state of life.

I know that oil is a natural resource. I know that it will eventually seep back into the earth, right? Isn't that right?

I'm no expert but the photos of the sea life and the thought of the fishing/shrimping industries being harmed... just makes me sad.

Say a little prayer for those harmed by the spill, ok?

Thank you.

***

Speaking of temporary states of life, this morning I caught up with a former co-worker I haven't talked to in ages.

We worked together when I was pregnant with Rose and for a few years after. He didn't know about the death of my father. He hadn't heard about the breakup with Soldier. I didn't know about subsequent deaths in his family.

We both agreed that life is definitely too short and we should have fun while we're here.

That was a great way to start my Friday.

***

Its Friday. Thank goodness!

A year ago today, Gentleman Jack was enamored by a photo of me on Facebook and left a flirtatious comment.

I dished it right back at him after a quick check of his page.

I blogged about it here.

A year later and my love is asking me when I'm planning on moving to Louisiana. Hmmm...I don't know. My girls... changing their lives...finding a job... talking to my ex about this...

But I do know that I love him.

We'll see.

***

For the first time in 5 weeks, I'm heading to Gentleman Jack's house this afternoon!! My weekend plans are to do absolutely nothing.

Seriously.

I've been feeling ugh because of allergies and sinus stuff. I'm definitely not 100% but he'll have his boys and they all like to wait on me hand and foot.

I like that.

I get to be treated like a queen by three males who believe I hung the moon and stars.

My servant has some catching up to do.

Hells to the yeah.

Ya'll have a great weekend, ok?

Thursday, May 13, 2010

My sexuality, part 6

I have been evaluating my sexuality since the beginning of this year with a series of posts. This is part 6 in the series. (part 1, part 2, part 3, part 4, part 5)

Throughout these self-examining posts, I've realized that I use my sexuality as power. As I've gotten older, and the realization of this sets in, I have found that sometimes, I've wanted to test this power.

Like the day I wondered if I could be a MILF.

And I got way more than I bargained for.

***

It was a hot summer day and I was hanging out with a girlfriend at her apartment pool. We'd made some sangria and joined the young party crowd around the grill for burgers and pool volleyball.

I wasn't feeling especially social that day. I was still on my first sangria and sat on a chaise beach chair quietly observing the crowd. Everyone was partying, enjoying themselves, music blaring, and beer guzzling. It was Texas in mid-summer and that's just what you do.

I spotted a young stud playing volleyball in the pool. He was a cute, 20-something hottie who glanced my way more than a few times with a smile. Somewhere in there, I thought... I wonder???

The next time he walked by my chair, I invited him to sit. We chatted briefly and he poured on the compliments. I offered them right back and we continued to banter with flirtatious comments as the afternoon went on.

....The most fun about NOT drinking is observing those who ARE drinking....

There was another man. A tall, dark and handsome man (closer to my age) who began flirting with me too. I was playful, enjoying the feeling of control since everyone around me was three sheets to the wind.

That's when I needed to head inside to the ladies room. And that's when the Young Stud decided to escort me.

I was amazed at how quickly he let it be known what he wanted from me. He followed me into the ladies room, making small talk. As I exited the stall, he stood waiting... his swim trunks dropped to the floor as he stroked his very well endowed self into stiffness.

Dude.

How could I NOT partake? It had been nearly a year since I'd been in the presence of such a thing of beauty.

***

A while later, we made our way back to the crowd. Mr. Tall and Handsome immediately spoke up and asked, "Why did ya'll lock the door? I wanted to watch!"

I was surprised and laughed off his comments. But he continued on the subject. He wanted to be involved in some way.

The night went on and I continued consuming water as everyone else drank more. My girlfriend was drunk and off with other friends. I was invited by Young Stud to sneak off from the crowd. "I want to do that again." - his exact words. I had to laugh at the gleeful expression on his face.

Mr. Tall and Handsome wanted in. He invited us back to his apartment.

"Ya'll come with me. I want to watch."

Now, here is when you'd think I'd be scared. Two male strangers and me. But no. I wasn't frightened at all. I was throwing caution out the window. I'd never done this before. I'd never had an anonymous one night stand. I'd never been a MILF. And now, I wondered...Could I be with both of them?

Once inside Mr. Tall and Handsome's apartment, he immediately pulled out a huge bottle of bourbon. "I think we're all going to need this," he said, nervously.

Observation: they were both nervous and I was not. Interesting...

Mr. Tall and Handsome sat on his couch. I stood before him and allowed Young Stud to undress me from my bathing suit. The stud explored my body in front of a stranger and I loved it. I felt SUCH power. I felt SUCH control. My head was spinning.

The handsome man on the couch pulled his swim trunks off as well. He began pleasuring himself as he watched me being pleasured. I knelt to the floor and crawled towards the couch....

The scene must have looked sexy hot. I could barely contain myself.

In those few moments, anything could happen. But what DID happen surprised me the most.


Young Stud suddenly stopped. He. just. STOPPED. Right in the middle of everything.

"I've uh... gotta get home."

What?!

Wow.

The moment was over. The spirit of fun had died. You could actually feel the awkward.

The three of us gathered ourselves, dressed and joined the crowd out by the pool once more.

***

As I drove home that evening, I had a weary smile on my face.

I smiled because I learned more about sexuality as power. It turns out that I could have sex anytime, if I wanted it. That was something men had been telling me for years and I never believed it before this incident. I'd never tested the theory before. I felt weary because I also learned that, although the experience was intriguing, it left me feeling empty... and yes... unsatisfied.

I prefer intimacy. I prefer a man who knows my name. I prefer a man who knows the subtle nuances of my body and what I find pleasurable.

I prefer to be naughty, yes, but I prefer it in the context of a respectful relationship. I guess I needed to step outside the norm to figure that out.

Now I know.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

Have you ever?

For those of you who saw P!nk on the Grammy awards earlier this year, you may recall this amazing performance.





Well, the song was released to radio and it is BEAUTIFUL.

I had to post the lyrics. Truly. Amazing. Song.

Glitter in the Air

Have you ever fed a lover with just your hands?
Close your eyes and trust it, just trust it
Have you ever thrown a fist full of glitter in the air?
Have you ever looked fear in the face
And said, "I just don't care?"

It's only half past the point of no return
The tip of the iceberg,
The sun before the burn
The thunder before lightning,
The breath before the phrase
Have you ever felt this way?

Have you ever hated yourself for staring at the phone?
Your whole life waiting on the ring to prove you're not alone
Have you ever been touched so gently you had to cry?
Have you ever invited a stranger to come inside?

It's only half past the point of oblivion
The hourglass on the table,
The walk before the run
The breath before the kiss
And the fear before the flames
Have you ever felt this way?

La, la, la, la, la, la, la, la

There you are, sitting in the garden
Clutching my coffee, calling me sugar
You called me sugar

Have you ever wished for an endless night?
Lassoed the moon and the stars and pulled that rope tight
Have you ever held your breath and asked yourself
Will it ever get better than tonight?
Tonight

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Allowing a little snark



"I've learned something about you recently," Gentleman Jack told me when I was having medical issues last month, "You REEEEAAALLLLYYYY don't like yourself when you're sick."

Ya think?

I've spent many posts discussing how I need to allow myself to feel less than 100%. Instead I kick my own ass for not being the ME I want to be *all* of the time. The ME that's loving, kind, patient, forgiving, happy and easy-going.

The perfect person.


"Always do your best."

This is yet another one of the Four Agreements that I have difficulty with. My "best" changes depending on my health, how I feel emotionally, what I'm going through physically, mentally, spiritually. Instead, I expect my "best" to be THE VERY BEST all the time and that is simply not possible!

I've also realized that I tend to be just as hard on others as I am with myself!

***

"When you blame and criticize others, you are avoiding some truth about yourself." ~ Deepak Chopra

I saw the above quote on Student Mama's blog post and it hit home. I have been extremely harsh on many people in my life lately. Friends and family members are making all sorts of decisions that I feel are wrong. Some of these decisions, I've made myself and KNOW they are wrong. But these people, grrrr, they won't learn from my mistakes! They have to experience it themselves and its pissing me off!

"I've always been Miss Rainbow-Sunshine-Butterflies to my friends," I told Gentleman Jack recently, "Now, I can barely talk to some people because I feel so judgmental and angry at them. What the hell is my problem?!"

"Maybe Miss Rainbow-Sunshine-Butterflies isn't who you are," he surmised. "Maybe you're finally being honest and authentic. Maybe you were being so agreeable and non-judgmental before because you needed approval from people. Maybe now you don't."

***
"Contrast and differences are necessary teaching aids, for by them you learn what to avoid and what to seek."
~ A Course in Miracles

You know how you try to get your kids to try a certain food? I know I'm not the only one to use the line, "How will you know if you like it if you don't try it?"

I need to remember this about others AND about myself. I had to experience pain to know that I no longer wish for it. Others have to experience things in their lives in order to grow. Sometimes, the things they wish to experience or feel will also cause me pain, if I allow it to. I have to give them space to feel or experience what they choose.

I also have to allow myself the same thing. I am choosing to experience pain over and over again when I try to control what people in my life are choosing.

"Who made you the savior of the world?" - a therapist once said to me. In actuality, the only person I can save is myself. The best way to do that is to allow others their experiences and allow myself to be less than the perfect, never-says-a-harsh-word zen-master that I think I'm *supposed* to be.

Which means that if I'm sick, I'll probably be bitchy. And that's OK.

When others do things that I don't agree with, I'll probably want to say how much I disagree with them. And that's OK.

When I allow these things to bother me, it is MY own doing. It is MY choice to feel their pain. It is also MY choice to choose again. Let it go. Let them be.

God help me to allow a little snark to sneak out of me now and again. I don't always have to please everyone else if it does nothing but harm me.

Monday, May 10, 2010

The storm before the calm



The conversation started innocently enough. Just a simple "hello, how has your day been so far?"

It started well.

But there was underlying tension. Misunderstood words.

Frustration.

Assumptions.

Longing.

Sadness.

She was in a good mood. She was hiding all of that. Those emotions were underlying but forgotten for the moment.

Like some current of electricity, the hidden parts are felt by him. He is connected, clued in... he SEES her even when she chooses not to be seen.

He can't stand it and he dives into the riptide of underlying tension....

Why now? Now isn't a good time. Now is... other people listening, watching, as she grips the phone tighter, trying to hold it together.

He won't let go. He allows the waves of all of her emotion sweep over him and he begins reacting, frustrated, sad, assuming....longing.

She leaves the room, rushes away where she can pour it all out - pour it into the little black receiver in her hand. He is turning her inside out and she can no longer fight it.

She spills it, every last drop of the tension and every tear she has been resisting. She isn't sad. She isn't frustrated. She is no longer assuming or longing.

She is LOVE. The emotions she has been hiding are not all of the ugliness. She has been hiding love.

She can't even recall the words the moment they leave her lips. They are out there, leaving him speechless as he listens even closer, opening his heart and his arms. He sees her ever more clearly as she allows the love back into her emptiness.

And then somehow, once again, the distance disappears and calm returns. Once again, they're swimming, accepting, holding each other tightly, loving the LOVE they have found, side by side in peaceful waters.


**I wrote this after an exhausting afternoon phone call with Gentleman Jack last week. I can tell its been too long between visits when we have moments like this. Looking forward to the weekend...**

Saturday, May 8, 2010

Mom's Day

The girls and I are enjoying a lazy Saturday morning. We will also be heading to the gym for some swim time today. They need to get back to fine swimming form for the summer. Tomorrow, we're meeting with my mom and sister for a homecooked Mother's day brunch. We're taking it easy. That is SO fine with me.

It is fun to look back over the Mother's Day posts from last year and the year prior. I like reading about what we did, what my girls did to celebrate with me and where I was in my life.

I had to laugh at the little "about my mom" booklets that my daughters made at school this year, completely separate from each other. Both of them said Mommy is happy when they clean up after themselves and that Mommy spends most of her time doing laundry.

*sigh*

Ain't it the truth?

I hope that overall, they see the fun we have in our lives beyond the clean house I wish to have.

And on the topic of self-service, I am having my cleaning lady come today so that I won't have to clean my house. Yay me!

I hope all of my mommy bloggy friends out there are having a wonderful Mother's Day weekend. Ya'll all (yes that's a real term) remember your own Mom's this weekend, mmmkay?

Much love to all of you.


Pic from here

Thursday, May 6, 2010

Every single mom needs one... (part 7)

Self-service!

As a single parent in charge of everything, I have to make an extra effort to take care of myself. I'm a better mom and friend when I do. Many times, I don't have the money to get massages or other items or services that would be special treats to enjoy. What I've learned, over the course of time, is that I can either find the money or treat myself with some self-service.

Am I talking about sex-toys again?

Why the hell not? I definitely believe that single women should invest in a special battery operated boyfriend, dildo, porn or whatever is going to make life a little less frustrating. Men have toys and special items that they could use as well. Go get you some! Last year during the month of May, I celebrated Masturbation Month in the hopes of encouraging more self-love among readers. Because if you don't know how to please yourself, who else will be able to figure it out, right?

***

Another item that I enjoy for some self-service is my foam roller.

I know there are exercises for this thing but I use it for massage. It is SOOOO great. I roll it on my back for all sorts of snap, crackle, pop sounds. And after my long bike ride this past weekend, I rolled my butt and my legs on it to work out all of that trapped lactic acid. It feels like a hard core deep tissue massage that hurts so good.


***

I also treat myself by making my own homemade smoothies or buying myself flowers. Some girlfriends of mine treat themselves to home pedicures and spa nights. One even shared with me this special body scrub recipe:

2 tbs olive oil
1/2 tbs cocoa powder
1 cup of brown sugar
1/2 tbs cinnamon
1/2 cup sugar
Mix everything well, store in sealed container. It will be good for 6 months.

We are all truly deserving of special treats, men AND women.

What do you do for yourself?

Every single mom needs one... (part 1), (part 2), (part 3), (part 4), (part 5), (part 6)

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

Alone


During the long bike ride on Saturday, I was feeling very resentful.

I've been feeling this a LOT lately. Many of the friends that were cycling with me are either single with no kids or married with kids. What that means is that they have plenty of opportunity to get out on the road and train.

Me? Not so much.

Much of my training is done on my bike trainer in my bedroom with my daughters sleeping soundly in the next room. Booooorrrriiing.

Which is basically why my training was so sporadic this season. When I have been able to get out to train, I've enjoyed it but felt weak. It was obvious to me that I've not been consistent. I've not been consistent because I'm training in my house. Alone.

Which is why I've not made plans for any big triathlons this year.  I'm tired of training alone.

I was even looking forward to spending those hours on the bike, this past weekend, while riding next to one of my best friends. We hardly see each other. She has only just begun cycling so I thought that surely she'd be as slow as I am. Nope. She has fallen in love with cycling (and I can't blame her) and gets out as often as she can. Thus, because of her consistent training, it was easy for her to leave me in her dust.

And yet again, I was riding alone.

When we talked about it later, she said, "Part of me felt bad that I left you. But another part of me thought you'd prefer it that way."

Funny, she echoed my feelings exactly.

You see, I was resentful that I was left behind. I was also thankful that I could go my own pace and not feel like a burden to her or other friends.

***

In this long distance relationship with Gentleman Jack, I go through times that feel quite excruciating.

I don't want to be alone for the amount of time that I have been. Lately, we've both had busy schedules and have been unable to keep up with our regular every-two-weeks visits. At this point, it has been 3 1/2 weeks since we've had a weekend together. We probably won't see each other again for 2 more weeks. Other than the one night where we met half way, we've not been together physically.

I can't stand it. This is when I want to say, "No, I need more. I need someone to be here!"

But then again, I don't.

I like my independence. I like having time to myself. I like that he has his life and I have mine.

***

I guess I need to find a balance of alone.

I like being me, my alone time, not being a burden on others, being able to do what I want and at my own pace.

I also really like companionship. I like the physical sharing of touch, smiles, hugs, body language and eye contact during engaging conversation.

Maybe lately, I've just been feeling more of the "alone" than the companionship.

And because I can't make up my mind, maybe that's why my life plays out exactly the way it has thus far.

Tuesday, May 4, 2010

The rest of the way

Usually, when I or anyone else I know, is doing a bike rally or triathlon or some other major athletic event, sleep is a commodity. I guess it's nerves that prevent a sound sleep the night before. We're all afraid we'll oversleep! Everyone I talked to, the morning of day 2, said they fell asleep hard but woke up early or every hour on the hour.

Not me. For some reason, I slept hard and very soundly after day 1's ride. Because of that, I seemed to have more energy than I expected.



The ride volunteers served up a great breakfast at our starting location for the 3200 cyclists participating. I decided to (once again) chow down on some food. This time, I also vowed to listen to my body on what I should eat during the day. My attitude on day 2 was vastly different than it was the day before.

The first surprise of the day was running into K and his wife. If you'll recall, K was the man I had the affair with.

Awkward.

Kind of but not really. I actually ran into both of them several times during the course of the day. We ended the day hugging and discussing our trials and successes during the ride. I feel pretty good about that.

***

If you had the chance to find out what was going to happen in your future, would you?

I ask that question because, just as the last time I did this ride, day 2 consisted of warning after warning about the huge hills we would be climbing.

I really didn't want to hear about them. Hearing the warnings only led me to feel anxious and fearful. Those two emotions burn up a lot of energy that I'd rather save for the struggle when I get to it. Or maybe that's just me?

There were hills. Lots of them. Including one hill that was a steady incline for about a mile. I still credit yoga for helping my body to handle these things. I used lots of cleansing breaths and my mantra:

"I am healthy, fit and strong."

Throughout the day, I stopped at the break points and continued to nourish my body. I kept my energy levels strong and kept smiling. The most fun was at one pit stop where they served peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. And they played this song, over and over again. I still can't get it out of my head. I danced my way to the snack table, ate a bit, did some yoga and danced my way back to my bike, singing this song the rest of the way in.



My mom had volunteered to drive a support van and passed me several times during the ride. All day she would text or ask me if I wanted a ride. My mom is so freakin' awesome. She knew I wanted to finish this thing but as always, she is loving and supportive.

I decided to have fun with the 74 miles I would be riding on day 2. I knew I had the energy. I knew my body could do it. I felt good.

As the temperatures rose during the day, I wished I was out with Gentleman Jack on the lake. His weekend was spent at an extremely competitive fishing tournament. We were sending pictures and videos during the day to stay in touch. There were plenty of moments when I wished I was somewhere else, ANYWHERE else, but on a bike. At one point on the route, I saw a pillow on the side of the road and imagined crawling into my bed...

Still, I finished strong and still full of energy. I joined the after party with my friends, had a beer and more food. My mom finally came through the finish line with her support van right as I was getting a nice post-ride massage.

Day 2 was a much better day for me. My body handled it well with yoga, good nutrition, massage, homeopathic arnica and good sleep. I am also very thankful for butt butter, pickle pops, Powerade, Clif bars and Shot blocks and my wonderful foam roller for working out those tight muscles. Lots of support from friends and fellow cyclists kept my spirits up all day too. Cyclists are really the nicest people you'll ever meet.

Overall, it was another great experience. Now... where do I want to challenge myself next?

Monday, May 3, 2010

160... ok, actually 134

I am blogging from my bed where my body is recovering from riding my bike 134 miles over the course of two days this weekend.

The route was actually 160 miles but I had some major issues on Saturday - one of them being my bad attitude.

I was dreading this ride. I'm not sure why. Perhaps it was the medical issues I've been dealing with lately. I've not been myself. I've not been strong. My training has been here and there with little consistency.

I'd done a 40 mile hill training ride last weekend that left me exhausted. I was disappointed in myself because I can usually do 40 miles easy. What I realized this week though, is that my core strength isn't as strong as it was pre-surgery - and you need that core to get up those hills! My legs are overcompensating. I have to get my abs strong again.

To do something like this or triathlons, much of it is physical training. A good portion of it, honestly, is mental attitude. I handled it differently the last time I did this ride, two years ago. I had no idea what I could do. This time? I just didn't want to be there on Saturday. Didn't.want.to.do.it.at.all.

***

Do you realize that when you're cycling, you burn calories like nobody's business? Seriously! Check out this 'calories burned' calculator to determine how many calories you burn during athletic activities.

According to that calculator (and unfortunately my fitness watch doesn't give me this info), I may very well have burned close to 8000 calories on my ride this weekend. That's insane, ya'll. I doubt I eat that much food over the course of 5 or 6 days!

Because I was nervous about not getting enough nutrition in my body, I ate a ton of food on Friday, did my carbo loading, and continued to eat during the ride on Saturday. I also, and this is part of good training, didn't really think about the protein-to-carbohydrates balance I should have during this ride. During most of the pit stops, they're handing out cookies, energy gels, electrolyte drinks, fruit, and protein bars. I think I actually ingested way too much sugar over the course of the day. I was downright sick by mile 48.

Also, at the first pit stop, I'd asked a guy from a local bike shop to add some grease to my bike chain. When he did, he also adjusted my derailleur (used to move the chain when shifting gears). However, he made too much of an adjustment... which caused my chain to drop off several times during the ride. Once, as I was shifting to take on a very steep hill, the chain fell off and I couldn't recover. I also couldn't clip out of my pedals fast enough which caused me to fall, and caused the cog that holds the chain to bite me in the leg. Ouch!


With blood and grease on my now open wound and my body exhausted and sick, I sat on the cement, crying, cursing and frustratingly defeated at mile 50. A support van picked me up and carted me to the next pit stop where I was treated by medics. I'd given up.

Then as I waited for another support van to take me to the finish line, I decided to give it another go. After another 10 miles down the road and another dropped chain, I finally hopped off the bike and began walking. My mom (YAY MOM!) was driving a support van for the ride and passed right at that moment. She picked me up and got me the rest of the way for the end of Day 1.

I enjoyed hanging out with wonderful friends that night. My energy level was quite strong though I'd only cycled 26 miles less than everyone else. We loaded up on more carbs and protein that night for dinner, did some yoga and got a great night's sleep.

Day 2 details tomorrow...