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Half Full

optimismI am an incurable optimist. I’m guessing a lot of people mistake my optimism for being naive and or just plain old southern bless-her-heart stupid. I’ve been told on more than one occasion I’m being “taken for a ride” as if I don’t really see what’s going on around me. Sometimes I may be missing something, but for the most part I’m not: I’m just not reacting to it.

I’ve tried to explain to a lot of people in my life that my compassion and ability to let things go and remain optimistic is a choice.
Someone flips me off in traffic? He must be having a really hard day and I hope it gets better.
Someone doesn’t call me back when they say they’re going to? Hopefully they’re safe. They’ll get back to me when they can.
It rains on my wedding day? What a funny way to remember this occasion forever!
What does it actually hurt to remain optimistic and compassionate? Releasing all that negative doesn’t put me at risk for not noticing someone hurting me or taking advantage of me; it just gives me the chance to check everything out from the positive perspective before creating issues that may never have existed.
People around me create conspiracy theories for themselves, like the world is out to get them. A woman said to me the other day, “My ex-husband has been calling me. He’s probably trying to cut off my alimony so I’m not answering!” It floors me when people go to the worst case scenario and just stay there. They set up a whole tent based on the worst case scenario and then they build a fire and LIVE right there in the experience that hasn’t even happened yet. Truth is if she did answer and her ex-husband revealed he was no longer paying her alimony, she might also learn why and glean some compassion from the conversation. Or she might just take him straight to court. Either way, remaining pessimistic does nothing to solve the problem, and it leaves her feeling shitty.

I’ve tried explaining my perspective on remaining incurably optimistic to so many people with this oldie but goodie: “Everything will be OK in the end, and if it’s not ok, then it’s not the end.” That’s John Lennon, and so sometimes the argument is…well…John Lennon said that. Not the best example of everything turning out ok in the end eh? At least as far as we can see…

But over the weekend, I heard the greatest example of optimism and why it makes more sense than any other way of living life, and I’m positive you pessimists can’t argue with this one.

“Nobody knows enough to be pessimistic.”

AND THAT’S EXACTLY IT!! Being pessimistic is almost arrogant. It’s assuming you know the way things are going to turn out!! And even if you plan out a scenario to the bitterest of endings you can possibly conjure, you STILL don’t know if that’s how it will all turn out! Bear losing his job a week after we closed on our house looked pretty bleak. Losing the job he landed AFTER he lost his job a week after we closed on our house could have been the end; the worst case scenario. But guess what? We didn’t know enough yet to be pessimistic. And two weeks later, he had an interview for a job that is now the greatest one he has ever had!

You don’t know enough to be pessimistic. You don’t know enough to assume the worst. Instead of being pessimistic (or as many of you pessimists like to veil it, “realistic”), could you just wait and see? Could you stop guessing the worst ending and just wait to see what the ending actually is?
Maybe, just maybe, you’ll be wrong.
The world doesn’t need a gabillion optimists. Don’t go full optimist for me. Just meet me in the middle where you don’t know the outcome and see where life goes.

What’s It Been Like Not Drinking for Two Weeks?

It’s been surprising.

About two weeks ago, I decided I was going to stop drinking for a little while. I didn’t give myself a timeline because that would just set me up for failure. I just decided not to drink “for a little while.” At bars, at restaurants, cooking dinner, out with friends…at every turn I’ve been tempted. And I’ll be totally honest with you, most of the time I have absolutely NO problem justifying why it’s completely fine to drink.
I’ve never had a drinking problem.
I love enjoying a bev with my friends and there’s no danger. 
Not drinking doesn’t seem to fix my anxiety.
But I continued on, not just to prove it to myself, but also to see what happens. The first week was pretty much just a demonstration of will power. A whiskey sour here, glass of wine there, margarita next to my glass of water…
imagesBesides the temptation, there was also this weird awkward social pressure that I did NOT expect. I found myself warning friends and family ahead of time or right before seeing them that I wasn’t drinking. I felt the need to specify, “I don’t have a problem with drinking. I’m just doing an experiment.” As if saying, “No thanks, I’m not drinking,” isn’t enough?! On one particular instance I was falling all over myself trying to explain how I just wanted to see how my body would change, my anxiety would change, or maybe how my social experiences would change. I even apologized!! I basically held up a sign that read, “Would anything I’m saying keep you from judging me or making assumptions about me?!” More than how drinking affects me, I’ve noticed how making the choice to not drink has affected me!
The second week was far more interesting. I was more accustomed to saying no, and after realizing I didn’t owe any explanations, I got more comfortable saying, “Just water, please.” I also started collecting little bits of data about why staying sober was actually kinda great. For one thing, I didn’t worry about whether or not I was being authentic. I never had to re-trace my conversations to be sure I didn’t say anything offensive or off-the-wall, either. I didn’t feel like garbage when going to sleep, not to mention I didn’t have anxiety about what I might feel like when I woke up. I even enjoyed not having to account for the extra calories!
I’ll tell you this: I’ve miss sitting down for a beer with my Bear. I miss relaxing with him on a hot afternoon with a cold drink. I enjoy sharing that with him.
BUT.
For the most part, I don’t really miss drinking. No, it really hasn’t helped me with my anxiety. It hasn’t made a difference in the way I sleep or eat or work out. But the perks of not drinking are outweighing the benefits of that glass with dinner at this point. If you know me, you probably think my blog has been hacked. Either that or you’re passed out on the floor. I’ve NEVER been one to turn down a drink. Now I’m wondering what my motives were that entire time I did drink? Have I just fallen into the idea that I’m someone everyone expects to drink and so I do?! Maybe…just maybe…I’m not a drinker?!

More on that as the experiment continues…

 

Stillness, Motion, and Wrinkly Eggs

keep-calm-and-do-something-170I heard my pastor this weekend say, “You cannot find your calling in stillness. You can only find it in motion.”
I tend to spend way too much time worrying about what I’m going to be when I grow up. Will I continue writing? Will I adopt a million kids? Will I become a lawyer or a pastor or a nurse or a Zumba instructor?? I should KNOW this stuff by now. My latest calling-based anxiety-attack has been, “Should Bear and I have a baby?” Because you know I got that age 35 coming up next year and that means “advanced maternal age” and THAT means them eggs is gettin’ wrinkly in there…
Also I’m loving dancing in my new Zumba classes so much that I started looking up Zumba trainings. Should I take a Zumba training and become an instructor?!
Oh, and I want to finish my second book. Should I do that?

Then there’s Bear. When he decides he’s going to, let’s just say, close his business, move across the city, buy a new truck, get a new TV, start a cornhole business…he just…he just freaking does it. He starts putting out his resume or looking for new places to live or searching truck ads or building cornhole boards. And then EVERYTHING HAPPENS. I, on the other hand, pray and then sit in the corner and wait for a giant sign that something is going to change and then when it shows up I wave at it and wait until something physically moves me towards the sign and then I might consider taking some action (after coffee and a shower and possibly a nap).
But the Pastor’s word Sunday gave me a friendly little Jesus-slap. How could I think that any of these options for next life-steps will make themselves known to me if I’m sitting around spending all my actionable time just wondering about them? I mean, I daydream about winning the lottery all the time and I don’t even BUY LOTTERY TICKETS. I cannot win the lottery nor find my calling by hanging out and asking God to tell me what I’m supposed to do.
This doesn’t mean I’ve taken any action. I’m just the messenger for you, I’m not ready to actually DO anything. I’m still mostly paralyzed by the fact that we close on our house in one week and then we have 4 days to get a million things fixed before we move in. I’m mostly waving at THAT sign right now and hoping the electric company calls ME and asks if I want to move my service to the new house. They keep track of new home sales, don’t they? If they don’t, they should.

By the way, did you one of you guys book movers for me?

I WAS JUST ON THE PHONE WITH OPRAH

(Stick with me. The title is true.)
I have this viewpoint on God and religion that a lot of people don’t have. For the most part, and there are ENORMOUS exceptions, I believe most of us are just trying to talk to God. Religions are like languages, different ways of talking to Him. I use Christianity, but I don’t judge someone who uses Buddhism because I find that though our languages differ, we’re saying the same things.
Now, to suddenly and without warning become far more shallow…I love Oprah.
I love her.
I think she is annoying and real and hilarious and a terrible interviewer and a wonderful interviewer and SO heart-centered in everything she does and an honest-to-goodness human being who is just doing her best and doesn’t mind if you watch her THE WHOLE TIME. I sincerely love the woman. I watch her TV channel, OWN, so much that Bear might sometimes secretly request to God himself that the cable go out. These sometimes self-indulgent television shows fascinate me because I feel the common thread O is trying to sew through all of them. (What? I call her O. She’s doesn’t care.)
While watching an episode of something that made me cry recently on the OWN channel, I said out loud, “I just want my job to be watching the OWN channel and then talking about what I watched while crying.” You know. Logical stuff.
Cut to a week later.
A client I’d done some writing for called me VERY excited that she had an AMAZING opportunity and she wanted me to help her. Excited by her excitement, and always being impressed by her projects, I turned on my listening ears. And do you know what she asked me to do?
Spoiler alert: YOU KNOW WHAT SHE ASKED ME TO DO.
Oprah created a new series on religion called Belief. The series will be 7 nights long and she wanted to know if I would watch the episodes now, respond to them, and then help create a conversation live among her clients online when the actual series ran.
She wanted me to watch OWN and then talk about it while crying.
Belief-Card-Boat-p2
She invited me to join The Belief Team, a grassroots group of people headed up by O herself looking to share the beauty of this series. No mass marketing. No uncomfortable sales pitches. Just a bunch of people who happen to believe what I believe: we can all believe different things and still welcome each other with love and compassion.
I’ve watched three of the Belief episodes and wept through every single one of them. I am SO blown away by the beauty of each faith, and it only STRENGTHENED my own faith. I’m so excited about the live launch on October 18.

And then, tonight, I got to be on a phone call. With Oprah’s producers.
And…with O.
OPRAH WINFREY.
It was a conference call to drum up excitement among a community of thought and faith leaders. And I was allowed to be on the call.
Like. No one kicked me off.
I was there the whole time. Squealing.
I wasn’t brave enough to raise my hand or post a question. But as I sat breathless listening to leaders of all faiths come forward and share their love of this series, their love of their own beliefs, and Oprah’s response to it all. I felt like I came out of my body.
In short: Holy. Shit. I sat in on a conversation tonight. With Oprah. Winfrey.
Mind. Blown.

She spoke for a moment about the series, and then some of the more prominent leaders on the call were offered the chance to ask O a questions. What did I do? I transcribed her answers like a squirrel at a keyboard COVERED in nuts because I was freaking out that I was listening to O speak from her bedroom in a comfy chair with a cup of tea in a bath robe (NO I DON’T KNOW WHERE SHE WAS OR WHAT SHE WAS DRINKING OR WHAT SHE WAS WEARING BUT I GOT TO BE ON THE CALL WITH HER SO I GET TO PICK ALL THOSE DETAILS).

I’m posting all the questions and answers because I assume everyone is like me and you want to know EVERYTHING SHE SAID.

What does God feel like?
O: God feels like life. Every breath that I take and every moment that I’m allowed to touch, feel, taste, and experience life. It’s my favorite bible verse, Act 17-28. It’s…when I was on trial in 1998 for saying something bad about a burger, in Amarillo, TX, I was going into the courtroom and my friend and mentor Maya Angelou told me to look above the juror’s heads and see the Lord’s salvation and repeat to yourself as your mantra, “In God I move and breath and have my being.” I did that so much on the witness stand I literally had this feeling that the presence of God was so with me that I felt exalted! I’d been two days on the witness stand and after 2 days of testifying from 9-5, I said to the next person who was going to sit on the witness stand, “Oh my God. You’re gonna love it!! You’re gonna love the experience! Lean into the space that is God and let that space carry you wherever you need to go. No prosecutor…no harm can come to you.”
It was one of the most challenging times of my life. Because we all go through trials, and depending on where you are in your life they show up in different ways, and literally sitting on the witness stand I thought, “Oh gee, I live such a big life that I would actually BE on trial! The whole purpose of the trial is to help you lean into the space that is God. In god I move and breath and have my being. God is this space and entity in which I’m allowed…that is in me and around me and through me at all times.

How do people without faith connect with the Belief series?
O: One of the reasons we wanted to do this series was for people who aren’t connected, or to have an array of choices and ideas and approaches to looking at faith. That they can see what may or may not align with their own or just to choose to see the spiritual thread of love and compassion that connects all of the stories. That’s why we tried to be inclusive of Adam, the mountain climber story, who doesn’t believe in anything, doesn’t call it God, but he believes in life and living in the present moment and going throughout the world and trying to be a decent person and contributing to humanity through his work and his passion, and his pride in climbing. So I think there’s something in the series for everybody and I think that people who may or may not be as aligned with a particular faith will have particular interest in the series because it opens up that door to be inclusive for everyone.

What was your favorite moment of the pope’s visit?
O: I was so moved by his visit here, and my favorite moment was after he had spoken to Congress and he was standing on the balcony. It speaks to what Bob just said. When he said, “Pray for me, and if you don’t believe in prayer, just send me good wishes.” I just thought Wow. We have this pope who acknowledges that there are people who don’t pray, but that if you don’t pray, that’s ok. Just send me good wishes! I’ll accept those, too! I thought that statement, his example, was one of the most inclusive things I’ve ever seen. It was a way of opening up and being inclusive without saying, “…and now I’m going to include all you sinners!” More than what he said throughout his visit here, his countenance, the very essence and spirit of him…the way he walked, the way he moved through the crowds, the way he acknowledged other people, and even in his calm moments, I’ve never felt so clearly that Wow. That is a man of God. And the peaceful space from which he seemed to speak and move and have his being was what touched me the most. I watched him and thought – I want some of that! Whatever you’re doing pope, I want some of that!

Which faith was most surprising while creating the series?
O: I wasn’t aware of the ritual of the Changing Woman. I wasn’t aware that…I’ve seen so many rites of passage in the Jewish faith and even the African community as well, and I didn’t realize that that was such a strong tradition and part of their culture and faith. And so I was particularly…it was one of those Woah! I never knew that! Never experienced that.
Also that Jain nun who was in the Indian Army and let to go from the army to being a nun. And not just a nun but a JAIN nun, and having ever hair plucked form her head in the town square. I think what all of these stories do, to an extent, is… would I be willing to do that for my faith? I’m glad my faith doesn’t require me to have every hair plucked on my head, but I admire the courage and discipline and devotion to faith that I experienced in some of those stories. I felt strengthened by them in my own way, as I hope everyone will. That’s why the series isn’t preachy or “This is how you should think” or “What we want you to think or feel is…” It’s however it touches you. And when you leave audiences with that light touch, you have the greatest chance of opening up that heart space for people.

Final thoughts:
O: From the depths of my self, and this is what I know for sure (otherwise you wouldn’t take the time on this call or be a part of the Belief Team), this is how we change the world. We all, in our daily lives, look at the news and experience the world and talk about how terrible things are. But this is how we change it. One person at a time. One bishop, one pastor, one rabbi, one imam, one buddhist, one sikh. Through our experiences, we get to offer a piece of healing, and your being a part of this is part of the chain of healing. It’s what Bishop Walter Scott Thomas said…too often the religious expressions of the world hunker down in their own bunkers or cocoons and don’t have a clue of the religious world outside their walls and then they start to believe that they’re the only one who’s right, and many go on to believe their rightness means they can hurt other people or undermine other people…
But in my life experience, I truly believe this series could serve mankind as a great corrective of that mindset: i you can find the true character of God in any faith as evidence through the tenants of faiths shown in all of them:
Compassion and kindness and love.
Whenever you can find that and affirm it and praise it and bless it, wherever you see the character of God, you see the glory of God.

And there it is. That last line…it’s final proof to me that maybe my way of thinking isn’t so crazy. Maybe there are other people out there who are OK if you just practice compassion and kindness and love in your way. And what a lovely world it would be if we cared less about the language we use and more about what we’re saying.

Also…Oprah and I are best friends.

I Grabbed Lunch, Let the Dogs Out, Bought a House… (Part 2)

“Oh right, the loan. No problem,” Ruben said as he opened up a screen on his computer and began typing. “You started working with Ken over at Main Lending before, didn’t you?”
“Yes, I did…”
“Cool. I’ll get you a pre-approval letter…”
“BUT WE DIDN’T FINISH THE PROCESS! They were still…”
“It’s fine, relax.” Ruben acted like I’d told him I’d forgotten my lunch money…not a loan for the house we were about to put an offer on.
I watched Ruben click away at the keys, writing emails, filling in the blanks on proposal paperwork, and all I could do was stare at a tree outside his window and wonder if I could technically jump to it from the window if these were the kind of windows that opened.
“Done. Sign here and we’ll have Bear e-sign right here from his phone.”
“You can do that?”
“You can do that.” Ruben had an answer for every obstacle. Even the ones that I didn’t know existed. “Now. We wait. They have until Monday.”

For three months I’ve been working on a loan pre-approval and seeking out the perfect house. Three. Months. And in one day…nay one HOUR…the perfect house appeared and the loan was magically approved. I guess that when things are supposed to be set in motion, if you just allow them to unfold…they will. Sometimes all at once. All in one day.

I returned to the cornhole tournament and showed Bear pictures of the house I’d just attempted to purchase without a home loan or any freaking idea what I’m doing. “Oh. I remember that one,” he said. That was the big reaction. He remembered the house I’d just purchased for us. Huzzah.
“We can go see it tomorrow morning before church.”
“Ok. Great. I’m sure it’s great.”
We finished up the tournament together and then packed up the truck while saying goodbye to our friends. One friend in particular stuck around, reminding us that he has all kinds of contacts within the construction world if we needed something done to the new house (which we would). It was such a lovely, settling conversation. Not only was the house a possibility, but we would have help to fix the issues we knew it had.

And then…my phone rang.
“Good news. They accepted your offer.”

tornado-2006-420x240You need to take a breath?
Maybe review?
We choose a house.
We decide to put an offer on a house.
We call the seller to set up a meeting.
The seller of said-house gets a KIDNEY infection and has to postpone the meeting.
Two hours later, I see another house online.
I visit house the house in person 15 hours later…without Bear.
I somehow get approved for a home loan and put in an offer all within the next hour.
Three hours later…the offer is accepted.
Now we kind of own a home.

I’ll be honest with you. I haven’t set my phone down since Ruben called to say we got the should-you-rent-or-buy-househouse. Inspections. Lenders. Banks. Family members (for money, not to celebrate). I’ve literally sold 3 things on Craigslist since Saturday in order to pump up our savings. I have NO idea how we are going to do this, but I had no idea that I could get a loan pre-approval AND a house in one day, either. It’s both the scariest and most exciting thing ever. I mean…a home. That’s ours. Where our boys can play and our life can just…be. When I think about this all being said and done, I melt into my chair. How glorious it will feel to put my pots and pans somewhere. How amazing to have a closet. How wondrous to know that the lawn I am mowing is MINE. Pick your own weeds, batty, I’m picking MY weeds now!!!
No one I’ve talked to has said this would be an easy process. It’s hard. And it costs money. But I’m thinking if we can hold on for the next 2 months, we might…just might…have a home.

What-If Monsters and Faith

tattoos-for-eyes-funnyPastor Furtick said during his Easter sermon that God is already there with a plan for when you fall, turn away, and come back. He didn’t say “if” you turn back in faith, he said, “when.” Like eventually you know you’re gonna. And it got me thinking…I am SUPER good at believing God for things when the circumstances in my life suck. If I’m getting divorced, I lose my job, I break my leg…I have 100% unwavering faith in God. I don’t throw my hands up and say, “Oh great. God failed me again.” I usually say something like, “There’s a reason for this. If I can get through it with faith, the other side will be oh-so-sweet.”

You know what’s messed up, tho?

I don’t turn away from God when most people’s faith would waver. I do it when things are going WELL. I’m counting down the days to the next disaster. I’m not sitting around being all grateful for the upturn. I’m panicking about the next downturn. Or maybe more constructive than panicking, I’m PLANNING. I’m sitting down to a business meeting in my head with the What-If Monsters and ticking through a list of horrible possibilities so that I can plan for every worst case scenario.

Isn’t that adorable? I think I can predict every worst case scenario? Like hitting a tree with a boat and breaking my femur and three ribs?!?! ‘CUZ THAT WASN’T ON THE LIST.

Here I am today making enough money to pay my bills, healthy, and loved on all sides (with lots of love to give, too) and what do I think about everyday?
“Babe? You’re not going to leave me, right?”
“Ummm…no.” He gives me the “wtf are you talking about face” when he answers me.
“Ok. Are you sure?”
“Why are you asking me this?” He looks down at his arms and legs as if his “infidelity is showing” or something.
“I…I….I dunno. But you’re sure, right?”
“Yeah. I’m sure. You’re my one and only.”
“Ok.”
“Ok. Love you, Little Bird.”
“But you’re DEFINITELY not going to leave me, right…”

The What-If Monsters aren’t as good at knowing what’s coming as God is. They aren’t really aimed at peace and love and joy, so their predictions are more based on totally ruining my life as opposed to a path that will teach me the most. So that begs the question…Why did God even INVENT What-If Monsters?! Because to have light, we start with dark. To have grace, we start with…the opposite of grace. (I dunno, I googled it but I didn’t find any words that fit.) If I want to build muscle, I need resistance like heavy weights. If I want to build faith, I need life’s roadblocks. And when there AREN’T any roadblocks around and life is lovely, I just use God’s handy-dandy What-If Monsters.

Ok. I don’t think God created What-If Monsters. What I’m saying is: life’s challenges include the ones we create for ourselves.

You are creating a challenge for yourself right now. You’re worrying about the bills, the weather for this weekend, the amount of time you spend with your kids and whether or not it’s enough, whether or not your spouse will be in a good mood today…You’re worrying about problems that aren’t even problems yet. You pre-gamed in college, you pre-worry as an adult. (That’s why college was way better.) So remember that God will test your faith. He’ll do it, I promise. So in between challenges and tests…relax. Have a cocktail. Go on vacation. Smell a flower.

Seriously. Go smell a flower.

 

Because I don’t think I ever told you guys this…

A year ago this past weekend, I got an email from a guy on Match.com. I was on Match.com essentially trying to pass the time with free dinners and new people as my divorce was being finalized. I was really lonely. I was really sad. And I was kind of terrified. The man that emailed me honestly seemed less “showy” than the other men. He was more…normal. He asked me for my phone number and when he got it, he immediately called me.

At 3 o’clock in the morning.

I was asleep, and my phone ringing startled me because (A) I usually turn my phone off at night and (B) Abe was asleep in the bed next to me. Oh, and (C) because it was three o’clock in the freaking morning.
I didn’t answer. Because rude.
He left me a message acknowledging that it was totally inappropriate to call me so late but that he’d just received the email with my phone number and that it felt like “Christmas” and he wanted to call right away.
I texted him the next morning with the words:

And the first-impression award goes to…

Then I wrote him off.

However, he did not write me off. He remained persistent, sending me lovely texts and asking if he could take me to dinner over and over and over again. I made up excuses, tried my best to blow him off, but he was relentless. And finally, on a Tuesday, I conceded.
“Can I pick you up at 6?” he asked.
“Pick me up!? I don’t even know you!”
“Well, I don’t want to tell you where we’re going. It’s a surprise.”
“Of course it’s a surprise. I know nothing about you. Anywhere we go will be a surprise.”
“Ok. I will tell you where we’re going closer to the time we eat.”

At about 4:00pm, he texted me a set of coordinates. I immediately entered them into my map app and found location. I zoomed in and got an address. I googled the address and it was a cuban restaurant, cafe, and bar.

Ooookaaaaay.

I arrived about 5 minutes early and the restaurant. was. empty. Completely empty. The host and owner asked who I was looking for and I said I didn’t really know, but I was fairly certain it wasn’t the elderly couple sitting in the back. So he sat me in a booth. Alone.

So let’s recap. First he called and woke me up at 3 o’clock in the morning. Then he sends me on a chase to find our date. And finally…he’s late to our date. Because now it’s 6:10pm.

Finally this well-groomed, bald as an eagle, proud-looking man comes walking in with BIG eyes and a bigger smile and shakes the restaurant owner’s hand who tells him it’s good to see him again.
“You’re late,” I said.
“This is for you,” he said and handed me a red rose. “It’s to make up for calling you so late. I guess now I have to make up for being late to our first date.” I later found out he was late because he was trying to find a place to buy roses.

The date was fine. Conversation flowed easily and we had a good time laughing. I wouldn’t say there were fireworks. Not for me, anyway. But what I kept noticing was the way he looked at me. No one had ever looked at me that way before. He wasn’t looking at my face. He wasn’t ogling me. He was appreciating me. He was really looking at me.

Over the next 2 weeks, he came to my house with dinner, brought me an endless supply of flowers, and fell all over himself every time he saw me. I stood back watching everything as if outside of myself. What is happening here?! This man was courting me, full on courting me, and loving doing it. He was everything any woman would wish for.

And for me, he’d arrived at the wrong time.

You see, I was only expecting Match.com to be a fun way to distract myself while I trudged through a divorce. I was planning on going to my Self-Improvement Retreat in Maui, praying for a year about the man that would enter my life and sweep me off my feet, and then eventually meet him in the grocery store while both grabbing for the same tomato. I was not planning to be so raw and vulnerable when I met him; so damaged. But here he was, way too early, being all perfectly imperfect…and I wasn’t ready.

Each time I told him I wasn’t ready, he smiled and said OK. And waited. He waited while I was in Maui (and sent roses to my hotel room), he waited over Valentine’s Day (which I spent with my son, so he had to cancel the reservations he’d made the day after our first date), he waited until finally I looked at him with a smirk on my face and said, “Fine. I’ll be your girlfriend.”

I am still not sure how I ended up so lucky. I have this man who might actually think that I hung the moon. And who, as it turns out, is one of the most brilliant, funny, kind, hard-working people I’ve ever met. I definitely did not mean to fall head over heels for him, and it did NOT happen over night. But I did. I can’t claim to know the future, nor can I predict what tomorrow morning holds. I just know I’m so lucky to be with someone who has my back, and who lets me be myself.

10922477_10153529128109829_8904350303225542171_nI don’t think I ever told you all that story because by the time I introduced him on my blog, I’d broken my leg. So I thought you should know that one year ago today, I met him in a cuban restaurant, cafe, and bar…and I feel so blessed to have gone back to that same place today with a whole new life. (And I got a dozen roses this time…)

Happy 365, Bear.

Vote Fan. 2014.

I’ve always had a weird sense of humor, but I gotta tell ya. My friends and I took it over the top yesterday.

It all started yesterday morning when two lovely Jehovah’s Witnesses came to my door with literature. Now, I’m a big fan of God. He reads my blog. But I don’t know that he necessarily wants people interrupting my sacred morning coffee to receive his word. Besides. God knows me. He knows I can’t READ before I’ve had coffee. So, I politely thanked them for their pamphlet through my bleary eyes and crusty-cornered mouth, and promptly set all the literature on my roommate Jason’s bed. You know. Just to see if it would catch fire.

Anyway, it got me a little tickled.

Then I finished my coffee and opened my computer. I read about Fan Gate. If you’re not from Florida, you probably haven’t heard about this. And that’s a good thing. Because…Oh, Florida. Basically Charlie Crist and Rick Scott, both candidates for Florida’s governor, were set to have a debate. However, it was REPORTED that Rick Scott refused to take the stage because Charlie Crist had a fan blowing beneath his podium and I guess Mr. Scott thought that was against the rules. A few of my friends laughed about this on Facebook because even if it’s not true, it’s a hilarious story. And it was hilarious. All fun and games. Until one friend posted what was the become the focus of my entire day.

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And therein, “Vote Fan” was born. We began simply by making puns.

Vote Fan! You’ll be blown away!
Vote Fan! Fanning the flames of the future!
I’m Florida’s number 1 Fan fan.
Vote Fan! He’s so cool!

Then, one of my friends went as far as making a campaign poster for Fan. (We all have jobs, I swear.)

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You read that? “The winds of change are blowing?” Please tell me you chuckled.

As we sat on the back porch of my neighbor’s house later that afternoon howling with laughter over the ridiculousness of actually taking the time to create a campaign poster for a fan, we also took a moment to recognize the BRILLIANCE. We were ON to something. (Have I mentioned that me and my friends are certifiable?) So as we continued coming up with pun after pun regarding Fan’s campaign for governor, my neighbor left the porch.
He came back with FOUR floor fans. And guess what?

We were having a Fan 2014 campaign rally.

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I feel like I should mention that we werent even drinking.

Soon, though, it became the first interview with the family of Fan, of “fan-ily”. We gathered around and asked the fans questions. In case you can’t see in the picture, one of the fans is holding yard clippers because he believes Fan is going to “cut spending”. Another has on gardening gloves because he believes Fan is ready to GET HIS HANDS DIRTY. The American flag is of course draped across the seat. After all. ‘Murica.
And, please. Don’t ignore the fact that Fan’s grandbaby was even in attendance.

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Sweet little baby Fan fan.

By the end of the ridiculousness, we were all walking away from the “interview” singing, “We are Fan-ily!”

Again. WE WERE NOT DRINKING.

I tell you this to remind you that there are MANY MANY important things you need to do everyday in your life. Many times you will find work is upon you and you must focus your energies on making money and making a home. But please…consider that some days should be thrown to the wind (see that? I added another pun) and given up completely to things that make you laugh uncontrollably like you’re in high school because, well, you’re acting like you’re in high school. Find a reason this weekend, find the right people this weekend, and just be silly. Cut out the serious and have a Fan fan rally. Just laugh and enjoy laughing for a while. It’s totally worth it.

Vote Fan. 2014.

Acknowledge it. Then Stop It.

647c9c17354b8d9545c00cde49e33e2d.image.300x300The self-help landscape, as far as I’ve experienced it, is all about acknowledging. Acknowledge your past, your pain, yourSELF. Just get in there, get real about it, and sit in the truth of it all. And I agree with this portion of healing oneself and moving forward. I can’t imagine healing the parts of my failed marriage that I need to heal without first acknowledging my role in it all, the self-betrayal via the lies I told myself, the sadness of what truly happened. It’s a super uncomfortable part of the process, but ENTIRELY necessary to moving forward.

BUT.

How many people do you know that pride themselves on ACKNOWLEDGING what happened to them? And they’re still acknowledging it, and acknowledging it, and acknowledging it years later?

Sitting in the acknowledgement forever actually gives you a new woe-is-me issue to focus on instead of moving forward; healed. It’s really difficult to go on with life when you continue to give attention or energy to the pain, the sadness, over and over again. So here’s what I did: I stopped acknowledging it.

It was incredibly difficult for me to feel worthy of love after my marriage. I felt unworthy of flowers, of help, of money, of kisses for no reason, of someone having my back, of meals cooked for me, of doors opened, of the whole nine yards. I went ahead and acknowledged the unworthy and sat in it. It sucked. I hated feeling that way, but I had no idea how to MAKE myself feel worthy.

So you know what I did?

I just ignored the unworthy feelings.

I’d already done my job of sourcing them unworthy feelings. So I decided I would no longer see them. I didn’t push them away. I didn’t hate them OR approve them. I just actively ignored them. When I started to feel icky because I was shown love, I ignored it and said thank you.

I felt super fake about it at first. My “thanks yous” sounded contrived. I didn’t actually feel appreciation, but I IGNORED the idea that I wasn’t worth the love. In time, and with commitment to ignoring my ongoing acknowledgement of the past, it’s become a non-issue. I don’t really ignore it anymore. I don’t think about it. It’s not a thing in my life. I simply AM worth what I’m given without self-involvement, over-thinking, or a narcissistic attitude. The pain from my past was healed without years of psychotherapy or continuing to talk about how hard it was to heal.

At a certain point, therapy and self-help can get really damaging, in my opinion. After the initial purpose for doing work on yourself has passed, it’s super easy for us control-freaks to hold on the therapy for years and years because it’s something we can control. For my life, after I’ve taken the time to deal with an issue that’s making it difficult for me to be happy, I’m learning I can let it go and decide it’s not an issue anymore instead of waiting for some magical therapeutic technique to continue defining me in place of the issue. Anyway, I’m not sure if this all makes sense but I think I may be on to something here.

Acknowledge it. Then stop it.

 

Be a Woman

*Note, when I say man and woman, I mean male energy and female energy. Those energies can flip back and forth within straight couples and exist in same-sex relationships.

I’m going to rant a little bit, here. You may disagree with me. That’s cool.

On our first date, Bear brought me a single rose. He opened the door for me. He asked me what I wanted to drink and then ordered it for me. Same with dinner. He paid for our meal. He waited outside the bathroom for me so we could exit restaurant at the same time. He offered me a kiss on the cheek (which, I will admit, I politely declined in favor of a REAL kiss because…well, that I couldn’t help).
And I didn’t like most of that at the time.

I’m in a hailstorm of learning right now. I am re-discovering my feminine side, the part of me that is emotional and nurturing and protected. I lost most of that part of Erin due to some of the dynamics within my marriage. It’s a super weird experience finding out that I actually like being a girl, and it’s kind of a step-by-step process of the letting go of what I thought I should be.

I was raised in a generation of “Women can do everything.” I was taught that any and all careers were mine for the taking, that I was in charge, I held the power, I was woman hear me roar. GO VAGINAS! I heard things like “glass ceiling” and “gender equality” all over the place and I scoffed and scowled. I believed that I could be ANYTHING AT ALL. I DON’T NEED A MAN.

What no one told me was that I would still need to be soft, loving, nurturing, and receptive if I want to have a relationship.

That’s where shit got confusing.

chivalry2I spent years thinking that by giving up my “power” to a man, I was being taken advantage of. But as it turns out, a man wanting to open my doors, pay for my meals, fetch me ice cream at 10 o’clock at night, that’s not taking my power. That’s not degrading. Being a GIRL is not degrading. Letting a man do man-ish things is what signals to him that you appreciate his ability to be a man, and that you like being able to be the woman in the relationship.

How do I tell the difference between a man making me “less-than” and a man wanting to be an actual man? I ask myself this: “COULD I do this myself if I wanted to?” The answer, almost invariably, is yes. However, the rest of the answer is, “…but allowing him to do it gives him space to be a man. And I want to date a MAN.” It’s isn’t a relinquishing of power or rights or status. It’s allowing both parties to feel necessary in the relationship. If he tries to open my door and I don’t let him, he doesn’t feel like he has a role. Suddenly, only one of us is necessary.

Being a girl feels vulnerable. And that’s why we don’t like to do it. It’s good knowing that WE can ask the guys out and WE can make the money and WE can mow the lawn…well, it’s just that: good to know. But allowing someone to take the reigns and to trust them to guide the ship is SCARY, so we just stay right up there at the helm with them, fighting to be the captain. It’s time to stop doing that now. It’s time for me to stop doing that. A real woman allows a dude to open her doors without a snarky little, “I got it.”

Maybe it’s not that there’s a lack of good men in this world? Maybe it’s that women have forgotten how to be women. We’ve forgotten to be soft, to wait for men to order our drinks for us and pump our gas. In the midst of all this equality, we forgot that it doesn’t matter that a relationship is EQUAL. It matters that both people feel important and loved. So go out and build your careers, women! Do all the things they said women could never do 50+ years ago. But when you get home to your man, remember that he’s the man.

Step aside. Let him.

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