Hello? Anyone Out There?

Hello?  Anyone out there?  I know it’s been a while since we’ve talked.  I’ll totally understand if what I have to say floats out there like a balloon freed from the wrist of a toddler.  It floats freely, lazily, disappearing eventually.  None notice and none remember.

I’m okay with that.

After all, since my very long digital silence, I’ve come to one conclusion:  I must write for me and only for me.  Anything else is pandering to a crowd that likely doesn’t exist.

I’m okay with that.

Not Just Another Auld Lang Syne

New Years Eve 004How does one look back on a year such as mine?  Three years ago, I ventured out into one of the scariest places I think I’ve ever been.  Post divorce, 40-something, straddled with debt that wasn’t all mine, looking forward to fewer years to earn back the losses than I had behind me.  While many would say I look good for my age, the fact that they had to add the phrase “for my age” said it all.  I was divorced, single with more children than most, struggling to avoid bankruptcy, and wondering how I was going to pay the bills and put food on the table.  I was frightened.  I was destitute. I was humiliated and ashamed.  I was alone.  To make things better, I blew an engine on one car, and dropped the rear differential out of another.  I had no credit, no cash, no clue what an engine or a rear differential was, and nowhere to turn.  I was terrified.  I wondered, often, how and if I was going to survive.  I was also 40-something and it was only a matter of time before the aging process we all must eventually succumb to, became no longer disguisable. Further, I still had children at home, lots of them, and would probably retire (if that was still even a possibility for me) with them at home.  Not exactly the formula for finding someone to spend your golden years with before you actually get to your golden years. Continue reading

Some Blogging Positive Reinforcement

gottmanbook1 John Gottman, in his wonderful book, “Why Marriages Succeed or Fail…And How You Can Make Yours Last” (1994) discusses the criteria for a stable marriage:

“…it all comes down to a simple mathematical formula:…you must have at least five times as many positive as negative moments together if your marriage is to be stable.” 

So, you might ask, what’s a single mom like me doing reading a research-based marriage book?

Yeah, well, about that.

It has nothing to do with wanting to be married or in a relationship, though I do love Gottman’s work and the way he writes about it. I actually stumbled across Gottman’s work through my own research and study on student behavioral success and creating positive learning environments for all children.  Creating a positive learning environment is not unlike marriage in some ways. If a relationship is to be perceived as positive or stable, there must be 5 times as many positive interactions as negative ones. This applies to relationships between parents and children or colleagues.

So, you might ask, what’s that got to do with blogging?  

Well, yeah, about that.

To be honest, blogging hasn’t always been a positive experience for me.  If you are a blogger you know that it feels great when people comment on your posts, when people notice, etc.  This creates a community of sorts where people connect, comment, share and exchange pieces of their lives.  There is a positive exchange and even if you don’t always get positive comments, hopefully, when things are going well (your blog is getting traffic and the traffic is commenting) you, as the blogger experience at least 5 to 1 positives for every negative.

That’s the positive part of blogging.

If, however, you are not self-employed, or have a flexible schedule like a stay-at-home parent or an entrepreneur, or a job that allows you to blog as part of your daily tasks, or, if like me, you just simply don’t know what the he** (can I say that here?) you are doing, then you might begin to experience some negativity associated with blogging.

If you wish to blog daily, but can’t, tally one negative for the frustration of wanting to write but not having time to do it well.j0433180

If you can’t write daily, tally another negative for the disappointment in seeing your blog stats decline.  Blogging really is an “if you write it, they will come” endeavor. 

If you can’t write daily and your blog stats dwindle, it means you are not getting traffic to your site and you are less likely to get comments or feedback on your blog.  Tally another negative or two depending on how much this bothers you.

If you already don’t have enough time to write daily, you likely don’t have the daily time (except maybe on weekends or vacations) to do the required research and study to find out how to get your blog SEO or to drive traffic to your blog, develop your personal brand or simply get over to other blogs you love so you can keep up on what’s happening in their lives, and thereby comment, create and sustain a blog community for yourself.  Tally, at least three negatives for that.

The positive?  Hopefully you are writing for your own purposes and that is enough.  If so, tally more positives for you than negatives.  If not,  then you’ve just ended up in an unstable blog relationship which might not last if you can’t turn that around for your bloggy self.

Maybe intervention is necessary.

For me, this intervention occurred, in part, when Amber over at Making The Moments Count awarded me the Sunshine Award.  I wrote briefly about it in my post titled Awards, Recognition, Reality & Paying It Forward.

That equated to a number of tallies on the positive side of blogging for me. It was not enough to turn around my faltering blogging relationship but it at least kept me from divorcing my blog…at least for now. 

You see, I do write for my own purposes, but somewhere along the line things changed and it became more than just about me.  It became about what I like to refer to as “The Community”.  It is about the friendships.  It is about the challenges we all encounter and share in life.  It is about the camaraderie, the laughter, the tears, the connections. It became about connecting with the real people behind the print.

The biggest negative for me is that I’ve missed keeping in touch with those other really excellent writers out there who share their stories, their perspectives, their knowledge and their lives through their blogs.  I’ve missed what I gain from reading them.

So, you might ask, where am I going with this?

Yeah, well, about that, too.  Like a wayward toddler in the toy store this post had a mind of its own.  I’m working hard to put it back in the stroller, so to speak, but I’m failing, so I’ll get to the point.

sunshineblogaward1 I am going to pay it forward to 10 other bloggers who bring sunshine to my life, but again time constrains me so I’m going to do it in parts.  What makes the bloggers I’m recognizing today so sunny for me is that they, like me, are not professional bloggers or writers.  They struggle with the time demands of a job (outside writing) that takes up most of their day then they come home to the second shift, often on their own without the benefit of a partner. In fact, they don’t even write daily some of them.  That worked in their favor here and that NEVER happens in the blogosphere. 

So, here we go with the first three of ten to get the Sunshine Award from me. 

Drum roll, please.

The first of these blogs I stumbled across months ago.  The author has a graduate degree in Communication, the same area of study I did my undergrad work in.  I’m fascinated by his approach to planned change and how he’s implemented the strategies in his own personal life to not only change his life but deliberately plan and improve his entire existence.  Give it up for jassnight at The Critical Path. Better yet, go visit him!

The second of these blogs, I stumbled across a while back during my internet excursions. I was encouraged by the perspectives of a dad, who blogs and can cook and lives to tell about it.  This must mean his cooking is tolerable; a quality I definitely admire in a man almost as much as I appreciate a man’s ability to communicate thoughtfully.  He says he’s not first date material, but I’m thinking he’s got that wrong, after all, he has a day job and it isn’t blogging.  Give it up for Travis over at A Culminating Life.

The third daddy blogger, gets the sunshine award for keeping it real and sharing the good, the bad, and the irritating post-divorce single parenting realities.  He works in one of the most stressful professions I could imagine in probably one of the most stressful locations in the country.  I applaud him for consistently trying to be the best dad he can be and for sharing his joys and his disappointments so candidly.  If you haven’t done so already, I’d encourage you to visit Big City Dad.  I think you’ll enjoy it.

So there you have it.  Today’s top three.  I hope they got some positive reinforcement from this award and will now share this award with ten other bloggers who bring them sunshine (however, they choose to define it).  It’s going to be very fun reconnecting and visiting all their great links…at Spring Break! 

A Broken Heart

 

imageI know it is an idiom: The idea of a broken heart.  Your heart doesn’t literally break like some glass ornament that can shatter when it falls from the tree. It is merely an expression indicating great pain. Pain usually associated with the loss of a love.

I know this pain.

I know this pain intimately.

For me, this pain, while usually referred to in emotional terms, is one I experience on a physical level as well as on an emotional level. Most often, for me, it has been associated with the loss of a love, the end of a hope of a shared joy, the end of a dream that will never become a reality.  For me, mostly, this broken heart experience occurred when I finally realized that the relationship I thought I had was nothing like what I thought I had.  Broken hearts, for me, represent endings.

It is a very real emotional pain, but I also experience a tangible physical pain. It resides in my chest, just to the right of center and it feels like someone wedged a pick ax in at that particular point and is now trying to pull my heart right out from my body or, at least crush it so that it beats no more.

It is a physical pain as well as an emotional pain.

What I didn’t know, was that sometimes, a broken heart occurs for reasons other than lost, failed, or unrequited love.

A broken heart can occur sans the love between two humans.

A broken heart can occur when a dream that you loved, that you hoped for, that you worked for, dies.

Broken hearts might always be about love, but sometimes they are not about lovers.

No Name-Calling Week

j0442223Anyone who’s been on a diet knows that you can resist foods of all kinds until the moment you decide to diet.  Suddenly the cravings come out of nowhere, the urges arise and if you aren’t very careful and very disciplined, you are soon stuffing your mouth with all sorts of rubbish that never tempted you before. 

I’ve found this strange phenomenon to be present in another area this week.  That is the area of name calling.

This week is officially No Name-Calling Week.  According to the event’s Facebook page the week is described in the following manner:

No Name-Calling Week is an annual week of educational activities aimed at ending name-calling of all kinds and providing schools with the tools and inspiration to launch an on-going dialogue about ways to eliminate bullying in their communities.

Have you ever attempted to go a week without calling names?  It isn’t as easy as you might think.

Consider these things.  We are an increasingly disrespectful society.  I would say that this is limited to the U.S., however such is not the case.  In fact, in just the last week, I’ve received two comments on my blogs from people in other countries or continents calling me names and not nice ones either.  Of course, I spammed those comments in the spirit of the week I am celebrating.  While I’m not opposed to having people air their opinions in their own way, name-calling will never get press here.j0433180  Further, my own journeys around the blogosphere reveals a vast array of digital name-calling.  Behind the screen, it seems, that people simply let loose with whatever derogatory term or insulting phrase they deem appropriate given the circumstance. These labels and insults go far beyond merely disagreeing with another’s perspective or flawed reasoning, they are hateful, mean-spirited, and, at best, incredibly disrespectful and unkind things to say.  I have a friend who tells her children, “You might think it, but you can’t say it.” Personally, I think that’s a great start.  Sometimes these derogatory terms are meant in jest, in play, or in a teasingly affectionate manner. But  more often, there is no disguising the venom and fury and hate behind the words. 

The reality is, bullying is one of the first and simplest means of reducing another human being to a state of fear and helplessness. Name-calling and other acts of bullying are intended to intimidate and humiliate. The first and easiest method of bullying (and a largely effective one employed by those who bully) is name-calling.  The No Bully website lists name-calling first in its list of behaviors that identify bullying.  Bullying and name-calling in particular used to be called “just kid stuff”, but the reality is that those who end up perpetrating violent crimes in the teen years are as likely to have been long time victims of bullying as they have been to be the bully. Those children identified as bullies, are more likely to have a prison record by the age of 24.  It isn’t just silly kid stuff anymore.  While it begins in childhood, it continues to occur everywhere in our adult world too.

So this week, I and several others I know, including 32 young people I meet with every day decided to celebrate No Name-Calling Week. We are becoming more aware of how often we have the tendency to let slip a name even in jest.  We are finding that this task is much more difficult than we first imagined.  In fact, one young man even commented after a day or so, “Yeah, right,” he stated in frustration, “Like we are ever going to completely eliminate name-calling!”

No%20Bullying%20circle My answer?  “No, at least, not right away.  But if we all ban together and try we might do some serious damage to the disrespect we all encounter.”  Thus ensued a brief conversation about how we feel when someone calls us names and the respectful consideration of simply treating others the way we’d like to be treated. One conversation and one week of increasing our awareness certainly isn’t the cure all and I realize this.  But as a parent and as a human being, I am increasingly alarmed by how humanity is redefining decency, courtesy and respect. In an age where tolerance is valued, there is one thing we ought to be completely intolerant of and that is bullying in all its many forms, and this week, most specifically name-calling.

Saturday, Good For What Ails Ya

j0408908 I love Saturdays.  Saturday is almost always the only day of the week that I can keep completely unscheduled, except for activities of my own choosing, for most of the year. Sandwiched nicely between Friday night, which usually kicks off my weekend with a celebration or retreat of sorts, and Sunday which finds me doing any number of things required to prepare a household for the upcoming week, Saturday is the one day I  can almost always call my own.

Saturday, is also that time of the week that I make certain I take some me time to check in, think about the week that just passed, and ponder the week to come.  It’s become important to me, over the last couple of years to take stock of my personal internal state.  These days, with my weekly weigh in and measuring, this time of reflection is becoming even more important to me. Sure, I check the numbers to see that I show continued loss or improvements, but the numbers lead to more introspection and further consideration.  This personal evaluation doesn’t just stop with looking at the “what happened” during the week, but it explores the “why it happened”, which I feel is just as important for my peace of mind and for lack of a better phrase, staying grounded.

Weekly Measurements

j0402348 This particular Saturday morning was, as a true reflection of the week that proceeded it, disappointing. I woke late, began cleaning, forgot completely about my weigh in and measurements until after drinking two glasses of water and nibbling some food.  Not that this is such a big deal but, just like all week, I was a bit off my game. I like to weigh in and measure first thing in the morning on a completely empty stomach. I did end up weighing myself and came out at one more pound lost, and 2.5 inches smaller in various places for a total of 4 pounds lost and 5.5 inches gone) thank goodness one of those places was not my chest! Even so, the numbers are glaring proof that this week, though it started out well and wasn’t a complete disaster, had it’s share of disappointments and discouragement. 

When I began this fitness journey with my “Looking Good Naked” post, I knew there were going to be some difficulties.  I knew, because I know myself well enough, that this wasn’t simply going to be a journey of exercise, diet and externals.  I knew it wasn’t going to merely be my own personal quest for a kick ass body.  I knew this was going to be a journey of internal cleansing as well. This week I began to hit some of those areas, that like the snag just under the surface of the water, tripped me up.

Internal Journey

On a personal level, I experienced some real disappointments. These letdowns were just as mixed with positive outcomes and they were saddening to me.  I simply hate it when I’m in a place of confusion and this week I was up and down with that.  On the other hand, it was a bit like driving through fog: beautifully eerie, but difficult to navigate.  Then suddenly, just as so often happens when driving through fog, I found myself in a place of complete clarity; no shadows, no disguised shadowy forms.  What I saw in that place of clarity did not please me.  It saddened me and disappointed me greatly. What it didn’t do which is a huge step up for me, is discourage me. In fact, quite the opposite.  I was encouraged.  But I also noticed something.  When I’m unhappy, feeling tense or anxious or lost, I tend to take this unhappiness out on myself in negative ways. I need to work on dealing with disappointments differently.

l_d936a92dfd9c9191d51e157d457a3256 I’ve been a boater and an avid water skier since my high school years.  I first dated a young man whose family owned a boat and much of our summers were spent out on the lakes and reservoirs of Eastern Oregon, baking in the sun and cooling off on the glassy waters as we sailed along the water’s surface behind the boat.  I eventually purchased my own boat and spent many wonderful summers pulling my children and their friends around behind it and being pulled myself, until I had to sell it when it became evident that my marriage was not going to last.  In water skiing terms, there is a phrase we use when we are so tired we can’t continue to ski.  We “throw the rope”.  This is when the skier after a great ride simply tosses the rope and sinks into the water.  Sometimes we do this because the water is just too choppy and no fun to navigate.  Sometimes we do this because we are simply tired and can’t continue any further. 

I realized this week, that when disappointments come my way, I throw the rope on myself emotionally.  I give up.  I don’t give up forever, I don’t give up drastically or dramatically, and I certainly don’t give up for long, but I do give up for a bit.  I lose that bit of determination and drive, that mental edge, that I need to keep my positive forward momentum up.  Discouragement is my biggest nemesis. This week, I gave up for three days.  I didn’t work out, I ignored my healthy eating.  I “threw the rope” on myself and my own personal goals in one area of my life because another area was disappointing, confusing or stressful to me. This is not an effective choice for me.  This is what I will need to force myself to push through, even more than forcing myself to workout when I don’t want to, or eat right when I’m tempted to binge.  This is the area for me where my personal determination will be challenged.  I have to get better at shaking off the disappointments and the setbacks or, at least, continuing on my course in spite of them.  Sometimes it is true we need to back off and take a break from things.  I understand that.  This throwing the rope this is a bit different.  It wasn’t a break, it was a mental kind of momentary giving up.  I succumbed, I think, momentarily to a sense of hopelessness.

j0428551Questions, Answers & Insights

Do you “throw the rope”?  Have you ever given up on yourself, even momentarily?  How do you handle the setbacks or letdowns you experience?  Does it become easier or more difficult to handle if you are dealing with setback after setback or disappointment after disappointment?  What strategies do you have for “sticking with it” when you most feel like it doesn’t matter or you want to give up.

While living this week wasn’t the greatest experience of them all on one hand, after reflecting on all that happened and after dealing with the internal stuff, I’ve come to the conclusion that I’m in a much better place after having lived this week than I was when it started.  That’s a very positive outcome. It certainly beats living a week and having learned nothing. I’m much more clear about some things that were bogging me down.  I didn’t blow it so badly this week that I lost ground on my fitness goals so I don’t have that added disappointment to contend with.   I stepped out and took some risks that were new for me, got involved in some activities that were different than I normally spend time on, gave up a commitment I needed to give up, and sought help and advice and received very good counsel from a dear friend that wasn’t pleasant to hear, but which I needed to hear. I reconnected with another long time friend, went on a field trip with my daughter, and had some potentially interesting business opportunities dump themselves right in my lap.  I’m getting more involved in my community for some positive efforts that extend beyond my own existence and survival.  While I would have loved to have done  all this much earlier than now, I’ve been living in survival mode for so long, I simply wasn’t physically or emotionally available to do anything more than I was doing to keep my children fed, clothed, safe and me healthy.

j0400995 Sometimes there are seasons where all you can do is survive and it has to be good enough to make it to the end of the day in whatever fashion possible.  Just saying you showed up is sometimes a phenomenal success.  The most encouraging and hope inspiring piece of this whole bizarre experience called my week is the realization that this season of simply being able to “show up” (which I felt stuck in) seems to be over for me.  So, I’ll take the disappointments, because the joys of the lessons and insights far outweigh the sadness.  I also know that nothing lasts forever and even pain and disappointment are temporary. 

Today, there is sun peeking through the clouds; a cheerful reminder that summer will soon be here and that though things aren’t perfect in all areas for me, they are mostly very, very good.  And…it is…Saturday.

Disconnected Musings

Copyright 2009, The Wild Mind

Four nearly completed (but totally unpolished and incoherent) posts later and it is clear I’m not posting a thing of worth tonight.  There’s just too much going on in my mind.  Really, really too much.  It’s disjointed.  It’s random.  It’s deep.  It’s trivial.  It’s about everything and nothing. It’s totally disconnected mostly.  It looks like this:

Strands of thoughts from a fellow blogger’s blog who confessed she dreams in advance about things that happen to other people,  a dream last night that seemed so real, one I haven’t yet forgotten, I might never forget.  It has been my life for the last two years.  Different faces, different specifics, same words, same pain, the same, all of it.  A scenario I’ve lived many times over in some fashion or another.  A scene I am well aquainted with.  Wondering if my friend has already dreamed my future and if it will simply be yet another of  the many second place finishings I’ve experienced. More ideas and pondering about trust, intimacy, authenticity, connection evaporating in my reality of hidden feelings, unsaid words, unasked questions and confusing behaviors.  Goals for the future opportunities and success running parallel with current 2nd place realities with no means to see the two paths join.  Happiness, contentment, confidence, hope, enthusiasm and joy all tangled up with disappointment, sadness, longing and, yes, somewhere in there, I must confess, the old familiar sting  of  pain.  Words I want to say but can’t.  Ideas to convey, but tangled up with accusations of “not good enough”. Where do these accusers of inadequacy arise and how? Inhibited thoughts that simply can’t get out into visible or audible form, at least, not in a manner that would be comprehensible and confident, let alone adequate.

Not here. Not tonight.

Sometimes there are days when I simply must say…I tried.  I didn’t make it, but I gave it my best effort. I did the best I can, it is all I have to offer. Here it is.

Sometimes there are days when my best doesn’t quite cut it, but it has to be good enough to have tried.

Then there are also times that, in spite of the disconnected randomness of it all, I can look at the craziness called my life and say, everything’s alright and I’m going to be okay. 

Tonight is one of those nights.

Truth In Dating Laws

j0438505 We have Truth-In-Lending laws why can’t we have a Truth-In-Dating Law.  I personally think there should be a Truth-In-Dating Law somewhere accompanied by a lie detector test. If only that could really happen, dating, online or otherwise, might not be such a disastrous thing for so many of us who still have the old school values of honesty, integrity and character.  Alright, I know the word “disastrous” is a bit extreme and may paint me as a complete failure in the dating realm, but, chill for a sec.  I’m using a bit of exaggeration here just to make a point.  The reality is, people lie when they date these days.  In fact, I just heard in a discussion group I’m a part of, that 1/3 of all men on internet dating sites are married representing themselves as single.  For the single mom out there who just wants to try to find a decent unattached guy out there to spend some time with that just bites. Because, no matter how you slice it or dice it, the married man or the separated-and-still married man is just not available, emotionally or otherwise. Well, maybe sexually but for someone looking to build some kind of authentic meaningful relationship that’s just “Ewww!”.

I personally believe this is due to the fact that our culture is a culture of the external.  We don’t care how good a product is anymore, we care how it’s packaged, and quite frankly there’s several hundred thousands of my salary and more being spent on research just to find out what certain things attract what certain demographics. And, as a nation, the U.S. has fallen right into the little marketing myth of “if it looks good, it must be good”. 

Sigh. 

This translates very negatively to the dating world, and other areas, I might add, but I’m talking about dating here so I will attempt to stay focused. 

Instead of putting ourselves out there and promoting our good character (because see, people don’t really care about that anymore) we promote all things about us that are appealing.  That’s not a bad thing, but then we take things a bit too far in merely presenting the positive. We don’t really lie, but we do leave out vital tidbits of information. And, some people out and out lie.

Some of the things I’ve come across in the last two years of dating will blow your mind, if you’re the honest, truth-abiding sort.  For starters, let’s try the many, many men who put on their profiles that they were single only to reveal later that they were not only not single they were still married with no paperwork in progress…for whatever reason…and trust me, I’ve heard many.

Disappointing?  Yes.  Frustrating?  Yes.  Infuriating?  What do you think? 

PH01614J I always try to learn something from every experience and these experiences taught me that I needed to ask to see signed legal paperwork before engaging the person in conversation. Which is exactly what I started doing.  This didn’t keep the dudes from trying to lie, but somehow more of them seemed to come out with it earlier on. 

“Um,” they’d clear their throats and I could hear it coming, “Yeah, I’ve been separated for two years but we can’t file right now due to financial reasons.”

“Oh,” I’d ask, “So then, you are just out for some booty?”

Click.

I did have a few men online approach me and tell me up front they were still married.  Of course, after telling me all about their loveless marriages and how they were staying in it for the kids (which is such a crock and there’s good research to back it up), they then proceeded to convince me that an affair with them would be something I’d never regret.

On what planet does this make any sense?

I mean, kudos for the honesty, but reverse the call due to the completely skanky disrespectful thing they were attempting there. Some of them I just clicked off with a “No thanks.”  At some point though, I decided to have some fun with it.  They invariably folded when I told them I was looking for something authentic ( that word, to the lying married man, is like a cross and garlic to Dracula) which could possibly lead to a white picket fence and three (more) children playing in the yard.  Yeah, scares ‘em away every time. 

Many think this is simply the reality of online dating and I’d tend to agree…

maybe…

…if I weren’t me.

I’ve been just as impressed and stunned by the audacity of men I’ve met in face-to-face (F2F) world. For example, there is the standard run of the mill deceiver, who is just a victim of his own ego, and who can’t make up his mind between the real and warm present and a figment of his imagination from the past.  These men are not emotionally available, though, they might be available in every other sense of the word which makes them difficult to spot.  Sad thing is, unless you really pay close attention to the “I’m just not that into you” signals he’s giving off you’ll end up blindsided and heartbroken by this dude.

The most bizarre incident, was the guy who was introduced to me through friends.  I figured, these are my friends, right?  They know I am not into dating married peeps, right?  Wrong.  The third or fourth date in and conversation turns to the GOYA Club. 

“The what?” I asked. 

“The GOYA Club, “ they repeated laughing hysterically, “The Get Off Your Ass and file the papers club.”  It was then that I learned that my date was separated, had been for two years, but was no where near filing the divorce papers even though he had good income and was financially able to.  Very calmly and with a completely straight face I turned to him and said, “I’d like to go home now.”  I hear that three months later he was divorced and less than six months later remarried. Bizarre. Better her than me.

In the last month alone I’ve had men come on to me, set up dates with me, and back out admitting they already had girlfriends. (Whatever.)  It apparently didn’t work out with the girlfriend for one guy because right after the new year he emailed me asking if he could have a fresh start and an opportunity to explain.  I’m not kidding!  What do you think I said? 

“Yes!  Ooooh! Ooooh!  Pick me!  Pick me!”  Uh, not exactly. 

“Sure, I’d love to give you the opportunity to explain,” I texted back. “I’d just like to take the opportunity to remind you that I am a blogger and I was wondering, could I record this conversation?”  Never heard from him again. I just wonder what people like this think?  Seriously?  They just notified me that someone else was first in line and they ditched me (yeah, I’m being gracious about the whole deception thing here) for that person.  It didn’t work out with them, so now they contact me hoping I’m still free and insecure enough to be so thrilled that they decided to go to the second string. Wow.  What must people be thinking these days?

j0406568 The really sad thing that all this brings me to conclude is this:  Many are desperate for deep and meaningful connection with another human being.  We desire intimacy and that experience of knowing and being known.  We want to know that wonderful exquisite experience of being able to be completely vulnerable, without fear and to know that we will be treated gently, lovingly, carefully and that even with our flaws, failures, past mistakes and bad choices we will be accepted for the unique individual we are and loved regardless. 

This is a human and admirable thing to desire.

But so many of us go about it in the wrong ways.  Instead of being transparent we cover and hide. We start the very relationships we hope will save us out on footing that is sure to falter, stumble and fall. We think, “Oh, if they could only get to know me first the rest wouldn’t matter.”  This is the biggest lie of them all.

The really disappointing thing is in all this is, that when we lie to another person in this way, we deprive them and ourselves of enjoying something real. Somebody in the dialogue isn’t being honest.  The other person is developing trust and connecting based on the information they have rather than the truth. The relationship is predicated of falsehood and deception.  The other person is not given the chance to make an informed choice for themselves.  When that truth is finally revealed what the deceived person experiences is nothing short of betrayal.  Not a real great way to begin a relationship you hope will last.

This is not a good thing. 

Not if what we seek is something really special.j0438386 

Not if what we seek is something authentic, built on trust that is proven and demonstrated.

Not if we want that special something that provides both people a safe haven to retreat to at the end of each day.

None of the hiding deceptiveness will ever really, truly be able to amount to love, because love by nature requires trust and trust is dependent upon honesty.

I just think things would be very different if people behaved as though they had to sign a Truth-In-Dating Clause.  I, for one, am thinking that before I go out with the next guy I’m going to have to fax him the form.

What’s Cooking & Other Kitchen Games

emeril1_t290 I’m pitching a reality TV show idea to Hollywood.  This show would feature any number of really excellent cooks (Rachel Ray, Paula Dean, and, ooh la la Emeril (Bam!) to name a few) who would come in to the studio kitchen and attempt to teach me how to cook. I would then attempt (keyword: attempt) to make the dish or the meal, right there on national television.  It’s a bit like Julie & Julia because, of course I would be attempting to imitate a great cook, but it would also combine elements of some other reality TV shows like Survivor.  The audience members getting drawn to sample the finished product (would they be the contestants or the judges?) would be the ones trying to survive, of course.  The name of this new reality TV show?  You guessed it, “How To Screw Up A Really Great Meal”.  I can hear it now.  The studio audience applauding, the cameras swing into action panning the audience, lights go up full, the musical score plays and the announcer’s voice belts out my cue to go onstage, “This is How To Screw Up A Really Great Meal with your host, The Wild Mind!”  The crowd goes wild, because they truly hope that this episode will be the one where I finally pull off an edible attempt.

Sigh.  One can dream.

fantasy cook off Hell’s Kitchen

Truth of the matter is, I’ve never been comfortable in the kitchen until recently.  Growing up in my home, for me, and learning to cook with a dad who was first, an excellent cook himself, and two, anal retentive about leveling off every single cup, tablespoon and teaspoon.  Now, that’s not such a bad thing, but something happened between my father and I in the kitchen every time he tried to teach me a recipe that led to him getting frustrated with me and me in tears about it…or angry.  My memory of the experience is a bit Hell’s Kitchen-esque.  The result?  I gave up trying to cook.  By the time I really needed to cook to feed a family, there was no way on God’s green earth I was going to ever measure up to my, then, husband’s mom’s cooking or my now deceased father’s ability to measure and scoop so succinctly, so again, you guessed it, I gave up and quit trying.  I mean, who really enjoys slaving away for a couple of hours after a long day at work only to be greeted with criticism.  Throw the poor cook a bone and at least affirm the effort. Those of you wonderful family members out there who suffer in silence and still muster the lie, “It was great honey!” and manage to choke it down anyway, are to be commended.  You will soon be dining like kings instead of ordering out take-out. Anyway, enough of my deplorable kitchen issues. 

Cooking isn’t rocket science

One thing my dad did tell me was any fool who can read can learn to cook.  In fact, his attitude was that if you can read you can teach yourself to do anything and by the time I left home for college he’d proven that theory on a number of things in his own life.  It was pretty amazing.  So, while our father-daughter bonding kitchen experiences are less than ideal, my dad set a pretty great example in a bunch of areas. Learning things you have no clue how to do was one of them.

So, with that example, and with the added incentive that my poor children are starving, I’ve decided to, finally in midlife, do something I’ve really always wanted to do, but have never really made a commitment to doing.  I’m finding that cooking is a lot more fun than I expected. 

j0426457Since being single, I’ve found out that there are also many, many men who are not only great handy men, but they are skilled in the kitchen as well.  This leads me to think that gaining some kitchen knowledge might be a lot more fun than I previously thought.  After all, there’s a lot of fun to be had using hot pads, an egg beater and real butter.  Accompanying the meal preparations with a fine bottle of wine is a nice touch.  Later in the evening the adventurous cooking couple can advance to serving each other cocktails such as Sex On The Beach or Screwdrivers.  But for those, who like me, are uncertain of themselves in this new domain, I’d like to suggest these simple steps to enjoying a wonderful culinary experience. This is a combination cooking experience for beginners and a party game.  It is a versatile recipe.  Feel free to experiment with your own combinations and techniques.  As you gain confidence and skill, I’m sure you, too, will be able to develop your own personal culinary style.  If you’re more adept at the culinary arts maybe you could leave a comment and share what variations on this recipe you’ve tried. 

Recipe For Kitchen Success

Ingredients:

2 nicely shaped ripe oranges, one ripe but not over-ripe banana, saucepan, oven with working heat controls, 1 very flavorful Kielbasa, seasonings.

Instructions:

Step One:  Carefully and slowly, peel the oranges

Step Two:  Gently squeeze the oranges

Step Three: Savor the oranges as you simmer over a low heat and season to taste.

Step 4:  Continue savoring and simmering while stirring occasionally.

Step 4:  While simmering the oranges over a gradually increasing heat, peel the banana

Step 5:  When the oranges, banana and oven are fully heated…

Step 6:  Play Hide The Kielbasa

Enjoy!

Divorce Transitions or How To Slay a Dragon—Another Year Later

Costumes_Halloween_Lady_Dragons I wrote this last year at about this time of year over on my other blog. It is rather lengthy so I’ve broken it down into a series of several posts.  Those of you who have been through the divorce process and are trying to heal up after it, might have some very significant and quite possibly different perspectives to share.  If so, I hope you’ll leave a comment.  I certainly don’t profess to have the only valid experience.  I only share mine and what was helpful for me.  I love hearing what others found helpful.  I know my readers do too!

I spent most of my childhood growing up in rural eastern Oregon.  My family lived in the same home from the time I was in third grade till after I graduated from college.  We drove the same ’68 Chevy Camaro and never had another car.  My mother had the same job in the same office building across from the county library until she retired many years after I was grown and beginning my own family.  My grandparents lived across the river in Idaho, a mere six miles away.  They owned a department store in town where I spent my pre-school years hiding in the racks peeking out at customers from behind the clothes.  It was a stable, predictable, secure childhood.  Very little ever changed.  It was not the kind of beginning that exactly prepares one to deal with the transitions that come after a marriage ends.  But, if we are fortunate, and I was, we should not be preparing for such sad events.  There just weren’t that many dragons to slay back then…and…I guess that’s a good thing.

clocks-med Change is the only constant.  This is never more true than when going through a divorce, when emotions run high and everyone is running scared at some level.  Everyone, except the attorneys and the dragon.  They are running to the bank.  (Sometimes I think I am definitely in the wrong career.  Hmmmm, is it too late for a law degree?) Even so, I am grateful for a good attorney who helped me see the issues clearly and without emotion.  The dragon is bigger and has the fire-breathing capabilities.  You can easily determine where the dragon fits in your own analogy.  For me, it was a volatile and completely unstable partner who was an incredible con artist and who had everyone believing (including myself) that I was the crazy psychotic problem child.   

Phase 1–Acceptance

This is the first transition and probably the most difficult in divorce:  accepting that the marriage is over.  Accepting that one partner wants out badly enough  to formalize the dissolution legally can be a difficult and heartbreaking reality to grasp.  Whether you are the one initiating the divorce or the one having to accept that your partner is saying, "I’m out!",  the very first step is to accept that no matter what happens, when the dust settles you will in fact be divorced.  Nothing else but this will be certain as you head into the process of negotiating like you’ve probably never in your marriage or maybe your life negotiated before. It is not unlike dodging the fiery blasts of the dragon’s anger as you attempt to defend your kingdom. The finances, the assets, the kids, the child support, the alimony and the acrimony will all be undetermined until the judge raps his gavel or until the two of you sign out of court. Until then, you just don’t know how the dragon will move, twist, or turn.

BooksandGavelA_jpg When I walked in to see my attorney…a good two years before I actually retained her…she told me these words, "Look, I can’t assure you of anything except that by the end of this you will be divorced."  She was right, and despite what is oft said about attorneys, she was honest, direct, a great strategist and she advocated on my behalf.  She helped me negotiate the frightening web of legalities to ensure the best possible outcome for my children and I.  She was there to negotiate some of those transitions for me.

Plan on the transitions.  Expect them, anticipate them, negotiate them and then live them.  My attorney helped me plan and prepare for the first phase of transitions but I had to first face the reality that nothing I could do was going to change the eventual outcome.  Armed with this knowledge I was able to take a more active role in determining and shaping my own post-divorce world.

If you are at this place in your life and the inevitable is going down, I encourage you to begin doing your own research.  Find out what the laws are in your state or county.  Find out how property is usually divided and how the courts generally treat custody and parenting issues arrangements.  Your attorney can be a valuable resource in this area.  You can also do your own homework.  There are many great resources on the internet. 

It helped me to think of life in three categories: the things that were non-negotiable for me, the things that I could easily give up, and the things that fell in between these two extremes. It became a matter of prioritizing.  When it came to negotiating with the ex, I knew clearly what I had to barter with and what wasn’t up for negotiation from my perspective.  This ended up being irrelevant for me as my ex didn’t even show up for the hearing and the judge ruled everything as proposed by my attorney with some added stipulations making it more difficult for the ex should he seek to drag me back to court in the future. This, however, is extremely rare.  Expect a battle and arm yourself intelligently and thoughtfully for it.