Thursday, August 30, 2012

Dreams becoming reality, Part 1

This year has been difficult at times, wonderful and amazing at others, and most definitely a time of growth and change for me.  Three years ago I was at one of the lowest points in my life. I had just turned 40 and I was miserable. I thought my life was going to be a certain way by the time I was 40, and my life was nothing close to what I had expected for myself. I was in some of the worst emotional pain I have ever experienced. My lowest point was when I was sitting on my couch one September afternoon sobbing uncontrollably and I thought to myself, "I'd rather die than be in this much pain."  It was a sobering moment for me. I had had depressive episodes before, but never once had I thought about dying as a way out of it.  The months that followed became a time of real soul-searching and the one thing I realize is that I was living a fear-based life. I made every decision out of fear. Fear of rejection, fear of failure, fear of scrutiny of others, fear of anger of others, fear of judgment, fear of being hurt...quite literally, almost every decision was fear-based. I knew that I couldn't continue to do that and expect anything to change.

I was desperately, achingly lonely. I had no boundaries with anyone. I had unrealistic expectations of myself and others and situations. So while I knew I had to change things, I had no idea where to start. I went to classes, read books, got into therapy, and started to try to become the adult I was meant to be. Part of having no boundaries and living in fear meant that because I was afraid of not being liked or accepted by friends and family, I wouldn't ever say "no" because I didn't want people angry at me and I didn't want to disappoint anyone. So I did things I didn't want to do and avoided doing things I wanted to do just to keep everyone happy with me.  What I wasn't doing was making my own decisions based on what I thought was best for me.  It was nobody's fault but my own. We teach people how to treat us by what we allow them to say and do to us. I realized this fear of anger, rejection, and disappointing others came from me needing everyone's validation to prove my worth and value as a human instead of knowing inside myself that I AM worthwhile and valuable. And as twisted as this is, as much as I craved that validation of others, I at the same time looked for proof that I wasn't worthy or vaulable. Promotions not happening at work? I'm a bad employee. Not in a relationship? I'm too ugly/fat/boring for anyone to want me. No one is inviting me to go places or do things? I must be horrible company.  I wouldn't even realize I was telling myself these horrible things. They were just the voice I've always remembered being in my head and I accepted it as the truth. I now realize that they weren't the truth and I've for the most part been able to replace the negative thoughts with positive ones.  The voice still speaks to me, but I am hearing it for what it is: That hurt little girl who took mean words said to her as truth and is just trying to keep me from being hurt again.

The thing is: to live is to risk. In the past year I  have risked every single one of those fears I mentioned in the first paragraph of this post. It's not been easy to risk, and I've been worried and scared, but I've come through it all. I'm still here and I still feel really good about myself and life and where I'm heading. Not everything I've risked has turned out positively, but a lot has. And while I have no guarantees about the future, I KNOW that no matter what happens it will all be okay.

All will be well and all will be well and all manner of thing will be well. --Julian of Norwich

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Things that inspire: Teacher Movies

Mr. Holland's Opus. Akeelah and the Bee. Lean on Me. Remember The Titans. To Sir, With Love. These are some of my favorite movies because they always leave me feeling good at the end of them. Teachers standing up for their students. Teachers doing the right thing. Teachers going that extra mile because they care that much.

Every time I watch these I feel great on one had and crappy on the other. I had thought when I was younger that I wanted to be a teacher. There was something so admirable about the profession. Imparting knowledge to others? Noble, in my view.  The teachers I knew and admired made such a huge impact on my life.  They each instilled in me something different. A love of school, a love of books, a love of writing, a love of theater, and a love of music. Along with the love, they imparted upon me an appreciation of each of those things as well. How huge is that??? So the crappy part comes from me not following that instinct to become a teacher.

Who's to say that teaching isn't in my future still? Perhaps it can be my second-life career. I just know that watching those movies inspires me in a way nothing else does. To think of myself having that impact on others--the way teachers did for me--makes me want to do more in my life. I want to be a better person after watching those movies.

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

What scares me? Flying

I have never been what you could call a calm flyer.  I wouldn't ever freak out or have panic attacks, but I was always nervous during takeoffs and landings.  Then about 3 years ago I had a pretty traumatic (for me) experience landing in Denver.

I was coming back from Vegas in mid July. Our flight was scheduled to land at 6:30. Upon our descent, when we were fairly close to the ground, the plane was coming in more nose-down and moving in every single direction. Side to side, up and down (both wing to wing and nose to tail).  The best way for me to describe it would be to liken the plane's movements to a gyroscope.  The engines ramped up and we ascended. After about 5 minutes, the pilot came over the intercom and told us that we had too strong of a tail wind and were coming in too steep and too fast. He said he would make our next approach from the opposite direction, but we would have to wait our turn and would have to circle for about 20 minutes.  As a bit of a nervous flyer to begin with, this was one of the last things I wanted to hear. But I tried to calm myself and tell myself we'd be on the ground soon enough.

Second approach: the plane starts doing the exact same thing. Moving in a way I've never experienced a plane moving before, and once again coming in with the nose of the plane more at a downward angle.  We were getting lower and lower when I hear the engines ramp up once again and we ascend after our second aborted landing attempt.  This time the lights in the cabin get turned off and the pilot says nothing. There are no reassuring words of what happened and what we were doing.  We again circle the airport, and where there were noises of chatting and people talking after the first aborted landing, it was now dead quiet in the cabin.  I looked to the seats next to me and there are two women sitting in the middle and window seats gripping onto each other's hands, eyes closed, mouths moving in what I assumed was prayer.  I looked behind me across the aisle (this is a Southwest plane and the seat rows don't line up across the aisles) and there was a gentlemen there. I asked him how he's managing to stay so calm and he looked at me and said, "I just try not to think about it." He then lifted his hand to pat my shoulder and added, "It'll be okay."  That brought me a tiny bit of relief, but as we kept circling, I kept wondering why the lights were out and why the pilot wasn't letting us know what happened that second time. In my head I was sure that something really horrible was going on and the pilot didn't want to tell us.  I started talking to my deceased father in my head and told him, "Well, dad...I guess I'm coming to see you."  I had never been so terrified, convinced I was going to die alone.  Well, among strangers but without anyone I loved there to be with me.

After what seemed like forever, but was probably about 30 minutes or so, we started making our third descent of the evening. This one was picture perfect. The plane wasn't doing any weird gyrations, the nose was more up than down, and we landed fairly softly on the runway.  The whole plane erupted into applause and I burst into tears.  After taxiing and deplaning, I made my way to the baggage claim and tried to convince myself that I was being a big ol' baby about the whole thing. I was still a big wigged out, but kept telling myself that I was just overreacting.  I got on the shuttle bus to the parking lot where my car was and there was a couple on the shuttle that also happened to be on my flight.  I hear the guy telling his companion that he's flown hundreds of thousands of miles and has never had an experience like that with two aborted landings.

Ever since that day I have been a very scared flyer.  Seeing a plane in the sky, hearing a plane pass overhead, watching a movie with a flight scene all make my stomach clench up in knots.  I have flown on two trips since that very bad flight. Each one has been just about more than I can handle.  Drinking massive quantities of alcohol helped on one of the trips, but I know that's a very poor solution to my problem.  I have another flight coming up in 9 days and I am trying to be calm about it.  I have downloaded some relaxation exercises specifically designed for fearful flyers. I am hoping it helps.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Z is for Zed

Z--the end. Z--the final letter.  Z--the end of this particular journey.

I can't believe we are here at the end of the challenge!!  It's been inspiring for me to not only write so personally and have others read and respond, but to read other people's funny, courageous, heartfelt, and personal narratives as well.

Through this I have learned that Dr. Maya Angelou's quote is so very true: "We are more alike, my friends, than we are unalike."  I think that's such a beautiful thing to learn and remember. We may have different views, tremendously varied backgrounds, and differing ideologies, but we also all share the human of experience of love, hope, despair, anger, laughter, friendship. The list could go on and on, but it makes me smile to think about. I revel in that feeling of connection and camaraderie.

I have stumbled a bit in the challenge--not always posting on time, perhaps not writing as eloquently or as profoundly as I had hoped--but I have kept on. I have been gentle with myself. I haven't thought I wasn't good enough or that I wasn't worthy to be amongst my fellow A to Z'ers.  That in itself has been important for me.  It's been the little triumphs throughout this month that have given me a sense of confidence. The feedback from all of you has been wonderful as well.  I appreciate each and every one of you who has taken the time to read my posts and comment.

This has been fun and I am sad to see it end.  However, I am already looking forward to next year!

Human Family - by Maya Angelou
I note the obvious differences
in the human family.
Some of us are serious,
some thrive on comedy.

Some declare their lives are lived
as true profundity,
and others claim they really live
the real reality.

The variety of our skin tones
can confuse, bemuse, delight,
brown and pink and beige and purple,
tan and blue and white.

I've sailed upon the seven seas
and stopped in every land,
I've seen the wonders of the world
not yet one common man.

I know ten thousand women
called Jane and Mary Jane,
but I've not seen any two
who really were the same.

Mirror twins are different
although their features jibe,
and lovers think quite different thoughts
while lying side by side.

We love and lose in China,
we weep on England's moors,
and laugh and moan in Guinea,
and thrive on Spanish shores.

We seek success in Finland,
are born and die in Maine.
In minor ways we differ,
in major we're the same.

I note the obvious differences
between each sort and type,
but we are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

We are more alike, my friends,
than we are unalike.

Y is for Yes

I have been a nay-sayer most of my life. Not to other people. I'm usually the one cheering people on and telling them "Of course it's possible!"  However, in my own life, I am the first to think of the million reasons why something won't work.  I say "no" before I ever let the idea of "yes" enter my mind.  I think I have done this as a way of avoiding disappointment. If I didn't expect anything at all, then there's no way I could be hurt, or disappointed, or disillusioned.  Except that was false thinking.  Saying no just kept me lonely, hurt, and fearful.

I have been trying to allow more "YES" into my life. Yes to possibility. Yes to believing. Yes to trusting. Yes to opening up. Yes to being vulnerable.  And to tell you the truth, it's scary as hell.  But I am also tired of living a fear-based life where every decision I make is made out of fear. Saying yes...allowing new and uncomfortable for me.  I am hoping this isn't always so.  I am hoping "yes" gets easier to do.  And even if I do say "no" to things that I know aren't right for me, it's still a kind of yes. It's saying "yes" to myself.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for XXXX if I know what to write about today

ALLLLL month I have been trying to come up with a subject for the letter X and I have come up with squat. I tried to write about The X-Men movies, but all I could really come up with was: I love the movies, they are more than just rollicking action films, and Hugh Jackman is hot.  (cricket chirps ensued)

So to say I am struggling is putting it mildly. Especially considering that it's now 8:34pm in Denver and I have still not written a post.  OY, the pressure!!!!

X things I have experienced: x-rays, x-rated movies, playing the xylophone, xanax, Xerox machines.  X things I have NOT experienced: meeting someone named Xavier, and most of the list of X words I found online.

Hmmm...if you look at enough "x" words long enough, they start to look really, really weird. Like someone just made up a bunch of stuff and threw it out there--very much like this blog post.

My dear fellow bloggers, may you have had more success than I with your "X" topic. I shall sally forth and see how well the rest of you did. :)

Thursday, April 26, 2012

W is for Wanting

Wanting. We all want things in life. A better job, new car, bigger house, to lose weight...the list of things people could possibly want is endless.  I myself want things.  But foremost of these has been a life partner (significant other, boyfriend). 

The thing is, I have been concentrating so much and so hard on the wanting, that I have never allowed myself (until recently) to think about the GETTING.  Much of not allowing myself to think about the getting was self-preservation. What if I let myself think about it happening and I got disappointed?  Then my friend helped me realize that's exactly why I wasn't getting. I had stopped anything before it could even become a fully-formed thought. As she put it "You're hell and damnationing it before it even gets off the ground."  Truer words were never said. So, for the past two weeks I have been allowing myself to move from just thinking about wanting to actually getting.  It's a very strange and new feeling for me. To be hopeful is not something I'm used to doing.  One of the things I've done is I've created a dream board and put up images, words, and phrases of the things I want to do, be, or have. And lo and behold, within DAYS some of the things started manifesting in my life. 

As mentioned in my "V is for Victory" post, I haven't quite conquered all the bad habits of putting the kibosh on things before they can even get started, but baby steps are the way I'm dealing with it. It took me 40 years to build up these bad habits, so it'll take a bit of time to replace them with better habits.

V is for Victory

I haven't quite gotten to the point where I can declare an all-out victory just yet, but I am winning many smaller battles.  In what, you may ask?  In letting go of my past and being able to enjoy my today. In realizing that things *can* work out and that I don't have to keep waiting for the other shoe to drop.  In having fears come up and being able to let them go--not easily, old habits die hard--but eventually.

These victories may seem small, but for someone who has led a fear-based life, they're monumental for me.  I don't always do well in the battle, but it's getting a little bit easier each time.  Some days I am obsessed with the "what if", fear. Today happens to be one of those days.  I am working on a small victory of being able to release the fear (feelings are not facts) and trust that things will be okay. No matter what happens, *I* will be okay. 

Another thing I'm working on being victorious in: allowing myself to be open, vulnerable, and trusting with someone.  I am someone who can be scared spitless by the idea of being emotionally hurt by another human being, so for years and years I have kept myself closed off and behind a wall.  And it worked. I was able to avoid other people hurting me, but I was still hurting just the same.  A friend gave me an "aha" moment recently when she told me that trusting someone and possibly being hurt couldn't be any worse than how I was already torturing myself with fear and doubt.  So every day I am trying to move ahead toward victory over all of this. 

Positive thoughts regarding things working out and me eventually being 100% victorious VERY much appreciated.

Monday, April 23, 2012

U is for Unpretty

Mother always said I'd be very attractive
When I grew up, when I grew up.
"Different" she said, "With a special something
And a very, very personal flair."

"Different" is nice, but it sure isn't pretty
Pretty is what it's about.
I never met anyone who was "different"
Who couldn't figure that out.
So beautiful, I'd never live to see.

The above are lyrics from the song "At The Ballet" from A Chorus Line and ever since I first saw the movie (no, I've never seen it on stage), these lyrics pierced me through the heart because it conveyed exactly how I felt, and the words have stuck with me after 27 years. 

I have never in my entire life felt pretty.  I don't ever remember being told I was pretty growing up and I thought (part of still thinks) the reason I never had a boyfriend in school and have remained single is because I am not pretty.

I understand that some of you might be thinking that beauty is in the eye of the beholder.  While that can be true, there are also some realities.  Reality: attractive people make more money. Reality: teachers call on attractive students more and deem them smarter. Reality: in movies and TV good things generally tend to happen to the attractive characters while bad things happen to the unattractive ones. We live in a superficial society where the standards of beauty are narrow indeed. Or that's the way it feels when one is on the outside of pretty.

However, I am trying to take my power back. I have gained much strength and a bit of calmness about things from this video: Katie Makkai - Pretty. It brings me to tears every single time I watch it, but it helps me feel less alone in my unpretty world and helps me to see that this is something that a lot of us struggle with. I'm not sure I'll ever conquer this feeing of being unpretty. I hope I can. I hope I can be confident in who I am and accept that perhaps everyone (me included) is really beautiful in her own way. I see it in others. I just struggle to see it within myself.

T is for Tattoos

I adore tattoos. I like them all: big ones, small ones, dainty ones, tough ones, bright ones, black and grey ones. I have several tattoos. I got my first one (shown below from both sides)

when I was 26 years old.  Well, the flowers and leaves were done at 26, and the butterflies were added 10 years later. So, it is one comprehensive design done at two sittings 10 years apart. My second one was also flowery and girly

  and my latest one was done about 4 years ago.  
They all have special meaning to me and I got all of them for a specific reason.  

I know tattoos have certain connotations with people, and I understand that. I also know that you can't judge a tattooed person so quickly. Tattoos are no longer the bastion of sailors, bikers, and miscreants. We who choose to have tattoos just like to have our art on our bodies and most of us have chosen what we have for a special reason or to commemorate a person or memory. And, we LOVE to be asked about them--as long as it's done respectfully and not with disdain. So if you see someone with tattoos that you either admire or are curious about, feel free to ask. I know I'm always happy to talk about  mine!

Sunday, April 22, 2012

S is for Snobs

Is it snobbish to dislike snobs?? Because I do. Dislike snobs, that is.  Their better-, holier-, smarter-, more enlightened-, more refined palate-, than-thou attitudes are detestable to me.  So what if someone prefers to only listen to the music they grew up with and nothing else? Has there been good music since? Yup. But why should it make you feel as though they are "less than" because of it? Or so what if someone thinks the height of food love is to eat aerosol cheese on Ritz crackers? You go and enjoy your foie gras and $100 bottle of wine--the fact that others don't shouldn't bother or intimidate you enough to be a a-hole about it.  The bottom line is this: everyone has their own ideas of what is good and what they like. Thinking yourself superior because the things you like are "better" (according to you), is the height of conceit.

Have I been a snob? Yes, I have. I am also trying to let go of the need to be right about everything--which is what I believe lies at the heart of snobbery.  At the end of the day the need to be right is more about making others wrong.

One question we need to all ask ourselves: would we rather be right or happy??

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Relationships

I have many relationships in my life. Friendships, familial relationships, coworker relationships.  But I have only ever been in two romantic relationships.  Those two were 14 years apart.

I love all my different types of relationships.  My family are some of the most fun people to hang around with and there is always plenty of laughter when we do.  Hanging out with them reminds me from where I come and that I have a solid foundation to fall back on if ever I need to.  I am grateful for them and so happy to have all of them in my life.  My friendships are amazing. (See F is for Female Friendship) They keep me grounded and help me see my life more realistically than I tend to do and have saved me from going off the deep end many a time.  I am so lucky to know these women.  My coworker relationships are a bit more complex. I truly like some of my coworkers (some are even in my Female Friends category) and there are some I could do without. I do have respect for most of them, however. They are some of the smartest people I've ever met and they are doing pretty innovative things. My romantic life I will not talk about at the moment, but I will have more to say about it in a later post.  Let's just say things are looking up!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

Q is for Quirky

I was introduced to a saying and concept quite a few months ago. A dating coach said on her website to "Let your freak flag fly." As she explained in her blog, letting your freak flag fly is merely being authentically who you are--weird stuff and all--and not hiding your quirks. It made me start thinking about all of my attempted relationships and one of the common denominators of them was that I was always trying to be who I thought the other person wanted me to be.  I wasn't being true to myself and as a consequence, if any of these relationships had progressed, I would have been keeping up a facade the entire time. Looking back now I realize just how crazy that is.  I am lovable not in spite of, but *because* of my quirks.  And I know being Mary is enough.  I don't have to hide or pretend. And someday, someone will see me for who I truly am and say, "Aha! There you are!"

We all have our quirks. Whether it's liking polka music, eating tuna fish on chocolate chip cookies, or knitting sweaters out of yarn made from your own hair. Know that someone out there will think that because of your quirk you are just the bees' knees.

So, my fellow bloggers and readers: Let your freak flags fly! And if that phrase bothers you (as it does one of my friends) then I say: Let your unique idiosyncrasies be known!  Stop being someone you aren't and people who truly appreciate you will fill your life.

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

P is for Practice

When you come from a not-very-functional family, oftentimes you're not given the life tools you need to be functional and emotionally healthy in your adult life. Skills like resilience, anger management, self-esteem, assertiveness, speaking up for oneself, and a slew of others didn't manage to get instilled in me. What I'm finding out as a trying-to-be-functional adult is that all of the skills require practice.  What a bummer *that* was!  I thought that just because I wanted all those things, that <POOF> they'd automatically be mine. The reality is that just like a muscle, emotional skills require maintenance and upkeep. It's very much a "use it or lose it" reality.

I also believe that people and situations are brought into our lives in order for us to practice what we most need to learn.  Often, however, we see these things as annoyances, or the world being against us (not true--the universe is always for us and never against us), or some people even see these challenges as "just my lot in life."  I think if we take the opportunity to look at the situation and ask why this might be happening and ask what we could possibly learn from it, then we can see it for what it is. A chance to practice. A chance to become something beyond what we are now and move forward into something new and maybe wholly different than what we could have ever expected.

So, what have you all been "practicing" lately?

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

O is for Old-fashioned

I guess you could say I'm a bit of a contradiction.  I'm pretty liberal politically, I'm very open minded when it comes to a "live and let live" philosophy, and I'm into certain things sexually that a lot of people would shy away from. And along with all of that, I'm a tad old-fashioned.  I like mannered people (doors held open whether a male or female doing it for a male or female), I believe in monogamy, and I want to be courted and wooed.

I think society has gone in the wrong direction when it comes to social relationships. We are bombarded with sexual images and are led to believe that the norm should be at best hopping into a sexual relationship with someone almost immediately and at worst engaging in promiscuity.  I have always wanted to meet someone and get to know that person first before embarking on anything physical.  Time learning about who someone is and getting emotionally intimate first seems, to me, ideal.  Do I want passion and intensity? I do, but I want it built on a foundation of truly knowing someone and them truly knowing me. I want someone who is going to work with me through the tough times instead of discarding what may be considered by some as "broken" and not worth saving or trying to fix.

Monday, April 16, 2012

N is for Niece and Nephew

I am not, technically, a mom.  I do, however, have two people on this earth who I can't imagine loving more if they were my own children. Those two people are my niece and nephew.  They are both in their 20's now and the reason I am so close to them was the opportunity I had in taking care of them when they were little.  My niece was born a little less than a year after I graduated from high school.  I was coming off one of my aforementioned depressions (see "H is for Happiness") and wasn't attending college and needed a job at the time my sister-in-law was ready to go back to work.  So when my niece was just three months old, I started taking care of her while my brother and sister-in-law were at work.  Three years later, my nephew came along.  I was with them Monday through Friday from 7 in the morning until 5 in the evening. I fed, bathed, and diapered them.  I was there for first words, first steps, and first days at school. I accompanied them on field trips and even took care of them when their parents went on vacation. So to say I have a close bond with these two amazing people would be an understatement.

They are two of the funniest people I know.  Our conversations--whether in person or via text--will often have me laughing so hard I snort.  They are both smart and kind and I see them growing and changing into these strong and capable adults and am awed they've been able to do all that in spite of all my shortcomings as a caregiver.  My niece is kindhearted, artistic and beautiful. My nephew is sweet, generous and handsome.  Every day I am so grateful that I have been able to be a part of their lives and every day I am grateful for the opportunity I had to be with them as much as I did.  This post is in honor of them. Thank you, my snugglies, for helping me to be a better person.  Auntie loves you to the edge of the universe and back.

Saturday, April 14, 2012

M is for Music

I imagine there will be a lot of "music" postings for today's A to Z challenge letter.  And I LOVE that! It just shows how important and amazing and universal the power of music is.  As a matter of fact, just recently, a Facebook friend posted a beautiful video detailing how music is being used in nursing homes to help residents engage and respond. Here it is

It brought tears to my eyes because it proves to me the power of music.  I love music for many reasons and I love so many different types of music. I enjoy music that makes me want to get up and dance, I enjoy instrumental music that is so beautiful it makes my heart ache and brings tears to my eyes.  Music makes my work day go faster and when I'm feeling down I can listen to some of my favorite songs and music and feel better almost instantly.  One of the most amazing things technology has done is allow us to take vast quantities of music with us wherever we go in something that takes so very little space. We can have our entire music libraries with us if we so choose! And to be without music is to have a very unsatisfying day in my opinion.

“After silence, that which comes nearest to expressing the inexpressible is music.” 
― Aldous Huxley

Friday, April 13, 2012

L is for Love

I posted a few weeks ago about things I love.  The list still holds true and there is much more I could have added.

Today I'm thinking more along the lines of romantic love.  The love you read about in books or see in movies.  Does it exist?  Or is most of that lust combined with some fondness?  I've always thought that I wanted to be with someone who was a friend first.  Someone who I had gotten to know over time and who I loved and appreciated in their entirety.  I know there are different schools of thought regarding this. I have a very good friend who says she has enough female friends and doesn't need her lover to be her friend as well.

From all I've read about relationships, it seems that the passion people have at the beginning of a relationship doesn't last.  There are certain hormones that are rampant during the "falling in love" stage of a relationship that just don't stick around.  About 18 months into a new relationship people think they've fallen out of love, but what they've really fallen out of is that hormonal rush of feeling.  Are those falling in love feelings awesome? Absolutely, but they're also not sustainable. So I guess for me it makes sense to be with someone you really like because the rest of the stuff is so ephemeral.

What have been your personal experiences with new relationships and how they've evolved?

Thursday, April 12, 2012

K is for Kink

Warning: adult content ahead.

I am attempting to be completely honest and completely myself during my blogging and what better way to lay it all out there than by saying I am into kink.  Now, people hear the word "kinky" and they think weirdos, pedophiles, degenerates, deviants, etc.  I'm here to tell you that most people who are into kink or BDSM usually can't be picked out from a crowd. Usually.  Just as anything else, there are degrees and levels of involvment in kink.  And just because one is into kink doesn't mean one is into everything involved with kink. Are there some unsavory types in the kink scene? Yes. But there are unsavory types in the vanilla world, too.  So before you judge people for their kinky interests, please educate yourself before you form your opinions.

Involvment in kink can be mild:
  • foot fetishists
  • dress-up (corsets, heels and stockings)
  • erotic photography
  • role play

 to moderate:
  • bondage
  • spanking
to extreme:
  • breath play
  • needle play
  • CBT (look it up--but be warned it *is* extreme and you might see something VERY graphic)

 These are just a very, very few examples. 

One's level of involvment is nothing but a preference. The kink community is very welcoming and very accepting. I am not into the extreme end of kink, but I don't try to make others wrong for enjoying and engaging in the extreme stuff.  The saying is "YKINMK" or "Your kink is not my kink."  It's a "to each his own" type of philosophy that I appreciate.

I'd be more than happy to answer questions or give you website addresses that can help you understand all of this.  And if you are curious about the kink lifestyle, don't be shy...the water's fine! ;)

Wednesday, April 11, 2012

J is for Judgemental

During this A to Z blogging event, I have decided to lay it all out there--warts and all. Today is one of those days.  Fellow bloggers, I have a confession.  I am judgmental.  This was pointed out to me by a therapist during one of our sessions where I was once again beating up on myself--not literally of course.  We talked more and she asked if I was tough on people and if I expected a lot from them. I do. She then said it was because I judged myself so harshly.  (I do.)  This is not something of which I'm proud.  I don't judge people on looks, status, or material things. I tend to think in terms like "If they'd only just do (fill in the blank) they wouldn't keep having such problems."  or "Why can't they see that what they're doing is WRONG WRONG WRONG??"  Ever since that relevatory moment in therapy, I have tried to be more compassionate.  I try to remember that everyone is going through their own struggles and that everyone is doing the very best they can with the tools they currently possess. And through all of this, it has allowed me to be kinder to myself. To realize that I don't need to judge myself so harshly either. 

To paraphrase (because I can't find the exact quote): We do the best we can at the time with the tools we have. When we know better, we do better.

I am trying to do better.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

I is for Insecure

I wish I were a more secure person.  I want to be bold and brave. I want to have the confidence that I am enough. That I am worthy; that I am lovable. At the moment, I believe none of those. I know seeking that validation outside myself is not the way to go.  No matter how many times I am told by others that I am enough, that I am worthy, that I am lovable, I don't believe it.  And until I believe it to the depths of my soul I will keep needing that validation.  And I've learned from experience that someone else can not be your self esteem nor can you be theirs. 

So how does one get to that point of believing herself good enough, pretty enough, interesting enough? Because I know there is a vicious circle happening.  I don't feel good, pretty, or interesting enough so I subconsciously exude that insecurity and people are put off by that which in turn I deem as proof of all my failings. This struggle feels like a roller coaster ride: up and down.  I have good days, bad days, sometimes I'll even have great days.  I'm working toward having more good and great days. I am realistic enough to know that it will require work and that wishing and hoping things were different won't make it so. The struggle at the moment is the "how". What can I do to help things along?  I guess I keep trying. I will keep seeking.

Action is a great restorer and builder of confidence. Inaction is not only the result, but the cause, of fear. Perhaps the action you take will be successful; perhaps different action or adjustments will have to follow. But any action is better than no action at all.
Norman Vincent Peale

Monday, April 9, 2012

H is for Happiness

It seems like a big topic to handle, and maybe it is. But I also don't think happiness is all that complicated. I think happiness is defined differently by different people and that some think happiness is nothing but joyful feelings or having a smile on your face.  Am I joyful in happy moments sometimes? Absolutely. Do I smile during happy moments? You bet I do.  For me, though, happiness is about contentment with my life. It's a feeling and a sense that I am doing what I'm meant to be and I'm where I'm supposed to be in that moment. It's a feeling of peace and ease with life. That sense of being in the flow of life.

There seems to be a belief in modern society that one has to be happy all of the time. I'm not sure where or when that started, but I don't think it's a natural state for humans to be happy all the time.  Sad things happen in life and part of being able to deal with it and let go is feeling the sadness.  I also think we wouldn't appreicate the good times nearly as much if we were happy all the time.  But we've been sold the idea of happiness looking a certain way and we've been sold on the idea that if you're not happy all the time there is something "wrong"--something needing to be fixed.

Do I think there are genuine times when people need some chemical intervention? Yes. But I think we've oversimplified the solution to bringing ourselves out of the depths.  I've been seriously depressed several times in my life and have gotten through them. My latest one was three years ago. I was sitting on my couch sobbing, and I thought to myself "I'd rather die than be in this much pain."  It was a scary wake-up call for me.  I had never before considered death as an option.  I realized something had to be done. I got into therapy, I started making changes in my life and slowly, gradually, I started to feel better. Today, I'm the most content and self-aware as I've ever been in my life.

"I am still determined to be cheerful and happy, in whatever situation I may be; for I have also learned from experience that the greater part of our happiness or misery depends upon our dispositions, and not upon our circumstances."
- Martha Washington

Thursday, April 5, 2012

F is for Female Friendship

I have been blessed to have met many wonderful people throughout my life. I am even more blessed to be able to call some of those people friends. And while I have loved all of my friends, those who hold the most special places in my heart are my female friends.  I know some of the most amazing women and I am indeed lucky to call some my friends. These women are smart, funny, loyal and fiercely protective.  They have shown time and again that they would go to battle for me and I love how each of them are willing to go after anyone who has hurt me.  I am humbled and grateful for that level of love and caring. And I know I would do the same for any of them.  These friends are a source of strength, a source of comfort, and always the ones who can "talk me back from the ledge."

What saddens me is when I see women around me who are so competitive with each other that they don't know how wonderful these friendships can be. They're all fighting to be the prettiest and the one who gets all the attention that they see more benefit from keeping someone down rather than trying to lift her up. I wish I could say I only see it in younger women, but I do still see it in women my age. Not as much, but still enough to be disheartening.  And the thing is, when we women work together, we are a force with which to be reckoned. 

Be slow to fall into friendship; but when thou art in, continue firm and constant.

E is for Endings

I had one of those blow-to-the-gut moments a few weeks ago.  I sent an email to someone I hadn't talked to in a while, but he had been heavy on my mind lately and when that happens for no particular reason, I think it's life trying to tell you something, so I sent the email.  I got an email from my service provider telling me that it bounced back because my IP address has been blocked as spam.  It hurt, I will admit.  This is someone with whom I have had such amazing conversations and who was extremely integral in my personal growth these past three years.  I'm upset that this person may be gone from my life forever. We had always had one of those correspondences where we could not email or chat for months, and then pick up right where we left off.  I was hoping it would be the same this time.

When I make a connection with someone, it's difficult for me to end that connection. It doesn't happen often for me and those people who I've bared my soul to aren't easy to let go. The older I've gotten the more I realize endings are just part of life. Doesn't mean I have to like it.

I try to find some comfort in in being philosophical. "Every new beginning comes from some other beginning's end."(Ahhh, the philosophy of Semisonic.)  But there is still sadness; I am still mourning the loss of connection and friendship. Also, this isn't one of the most painful of endings. At least I can wish this person health and happiness and hope good things happen for him.

May your endings be few and as pain-free as possible.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

D is for Disappointment

I once took a seminar where I learned that there are only three causes of any upset. 1) An unfulfilled expectation. 2) A thwarted intention. 3) An undelivered communication.  In other words: You didn't get what you wanted. You didn't do what you wanted. You didn't say what you wanted.

My latest disappointment--a true upset--was all three of these.  I would like to lay the blame at the feet of the person who I could say disappointed me.  However, I need to own my share in the disappointment.  I didn't have something happen that I wanted to happen. However, at some point I needed to communicate something to this person that I didn't.  I needed to stand up for myself and stand up for how I deserve to be treated. I didn't. My intentions were thwarted because I had intended to practice speaking up and letting my needs be known with this person, but when the moment of truth arrived, I kept silent. I chose not rocking the boat over my needs.

I was also disappointed in myself because I didn't follow through what I wanted to do. However, I have regrouped, forgiven myself, and will try again. We are none of us perfect and sometimes we will not do what we intended. Sometimes we will take the path of least resistance and perhaps not stick up for ourselves. But we can dust off and try again. We can become stronger. We can say to ourselves: "I give myself permission to attempt this until I get it right."

Monday, April 2, 2012

B is for Bullying

It seems as though not a week goes by and we're hearing about some young person doing the unthinkable because someone had bullied them to the point where they thought they had no other options to escape the hurt.  And every week my heart breaks for these young people and their loved ones.  I want to turn back time. I want to find these kids and tell them that they are NOT what they're being called.  I want to tell them that they are worthwhile and valuable people. I want to reach inside their tortured souls and heal their pain.

I have been very fortunate in that I have been teased in my life, but never bullied.  I was never singled out and told horrible things relentlessly every day.  I stretch my mind to try to imagine what it would be like. To have the hurtful teasing things that were yelled at me intermittently happen every day throughout the day. My mind reels with the idea.  How do you fight against that? How do you find the worthwhile self inside of you despite all that and protect that inner self from the assault? Can parents help? Sometimes parents can be one of the offenders.  I saw my niece's self-esteem whittled away by comments my brother and his wife made to her, all the while thinking they were helping.

Some schools have programs in place to teach about bullying and to try and stop it.  But if a kid has been bullied long enough and heard enough negativity to the point where they believe it, how can we expect them to speak up for themselves and get the help they need?  Perhaps it starts with ourselves and our children. If we see bullying, we step in and say something. We teach out children to do the same. To rise up and defend those who for whatever reason can't defend themselves.  We do the right thing when we can where we can.

Maybe there are no easy answers. Maybe there are no answers at all. Perhaps all we can do is our little part.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

A is for Adultery

I'm on a few dating websites. My profile on all of them states very clearly that if you're married or otherwise involved, don't bother contacting me.  I have had men either not read that portion of my profile or think that they're so amazing (or I'm so gullible) that they will be the ones to change my mind about that. I try to be as polite as possible. "No thank you. Good luck. Hope you find what you're looking for." However, most of the time I want to all-caps their asses and virtually yell "FIX YOUR SHIT OR GET OUT!!"

My most recent two encounters tried to garner some sympathy. "Things aren't good at home." "I haven't had sex in two years."  And that's my concern, HOW??  Sorry, boys. You get zero sympathy from me. None. Staying in a bad relationship is a choice. I'm not saying it's an easy one. But nevertheless it is a choice.  And as a point of full disclosure here, I confess to having had a past relationship with a married man.  It wasn't fun. It wasn't easy. It wasn't worth a few moments of seeing him to go through all the rest of it. Guilt. Hurt. Resentment.  And the biggest argument against it: you, as the "other woman" will never be first for him. You will never be his priority. You will never be the one he chooses. And if by some miracle he does get a divorce and decides to be with you, you are now involved with a man who doesn't try to fix what's wrong in a relationship, but instead seeks fulfillment elsewhere.

My conclusion: A no win situation if what you're searching for is a healthy, fulfilled, full-time relationship.

Monday, March 5, 2012

Negative Nancies

If there's one thing I've learned in my 40+ years on this earth is that life doesn't hand us what we want, life hands us what we expect.  And language like "always" and "never" are some of the most self-defeating ways to think of things.  Because if your thought is that you "always get in the line that moves the slowest", guess what?  You WILL always get in the the slow-moving lines!  If you think and post that you "always meet losers on dating sites" you WILL draw those people to you because it's what you're expecting. 

I'm not saying that we all need to put on the rose-colored glasses and walk around with our heads in a Pollyanna cloud, but if we can have a different expectation--from life, from people--perhaps it can lead to more better days than bad days.  How about just trying it as an experiment?  Say you go home tonight and want to discuss (for the 28th time) with your significant other about clothes going in the hamper instead of on the hamper.  And say that instead of thinking "Oh, I'm sure I'll get the same response I always get," you try, just TRY to think of a different response and thinking of that different response, you EXPECT a different response.  How wonderful will it feel to have a conversation that moves forward instead of getting stalled at the same point it has in the past?? 

The energy with which we approach our interactions affects those with whom we're having those interactions. So for a week, experiment with the idea of a different expectation. I'd love to hear how it goes!

Wednesday, February 15, 2012


I often get inspired by reading other blogs.  Today I read a blog post by someone who listed the things she loved, in no particular order, and it was such a beautiful, touching, and funny list that it inspired me to think about the things I love--the things that make me happy.

In no particular order, I love:

My niece Brianna.

My nephew Brandon.

Sunrises and sunsets.

The smell of fresh cut grass.

Loving characters so much in a book I ache for them when bad things happen.


My brothers.

My sisters.

My mom.

Knowing that if everything fell apart in my life, I'd have the most amazing support group to help me back up.

Sheldon Cooper. :)

Banana cake with cream cheese frosting.

The color purple. (Not the movie or book, although I love those, too.)

Living in Colorado.

Colorado's breathtaking beauty.

Homemade tortillas.

The smell of orange blossoms.

My legs.

The ocean.

Road trips.

The Oatmeal.



Being to-the-bone exhausted and finally being able to crawl into bed with a happy sigh.

That light bulb moment when I finally understand a concept that had eluded me before.


Music so beautiful it makes me cry.

Elvis Presley.


Board games.

The smell of a man wearing Curve Crush.

Roller coasters and thrill rides.

Sleeping in.


Thanks for the inspiration, Ree!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

What I would tell my 18-year-old self

I was out with a friend today and we were having a fabulous conversation (as we always do) and I thought of a question one of my coworkers likes to ask people she meets. She often asks them, "What would you tell your 18-year-old self?"  It's a fascinating and intriguing question. I posed it to my friend today at the coffee shop and we both took turns answering. Here's what I would tell myself at 18: you're more amazing than you think. You have so much to give the world.  It's okay to be hurt--the hurt won't destroy you and you will learn to be happy again. Take more risks.

At 18 I remember myself thinking I was nothing special. That i had nothing to offer the world. I was really depressed after I turned 18. I think I would tell myself that it gets better. That life can be fun and that you will feel happy again. And maybe, most importantly, I would tell myself at 18: it's all going to be all right. Stop worrying and enjoy your life. LIVE your life.

It also makes me realize that I'm so glad I'm at *this* point in my life. I'm so glad that I've been on the journey that I have and it has culminated at me being at exactly this point at exactly this time.

Friday, February 3, 2012

What does it all mean?

I'm trying desperately hard to not go into "men suck" mode, but they sure as hell have been disappointing me lately.  I keep going back to what my friend has told me about the book "He's Just Not That Into You" and I happen to agree with her. If a guy really and truly wants to be with someone, he will.  No ifs ands or buts about it.  Being philosophical about it helps a bit. I'm telling myself that I don't want people in my life who do that and it's a good thing that I'm finally standing up for what I want. It just leaves me feeling alone and lonely. I despair of there not being anyone else on the horizon.  Of being alone.  I guess I'll just have to learn how to do single and solo and still be happy.