Thursday, July 26, 2012

More Than Amazing!

As those that have been following my posts know, I've had a tough year when it comes to my career. Finally.... FINALLY... the job I was offered in May started in July. For the last month I've been doing some of the most rewarding work I'd ever hoped to be able to do. I've become a hospice RN.

Today I made a difference... and that makes all the difference. It's such a pleasure and honor to be allowed and accepted into someone's life during a time of change and perhaps, crisis. I love that I've been given the power to make a difference and that something I do or say could ease someone's journey.

Every day I learn something new and get to use my talents and skills to the maximum. I work with some of the most amazingly kind, compassionate, intelligent and giving people I've ever had the pleasure to work with. I'm so very, very proud that I get to say that I'm part of their team!

"You may be the only good thing someone experiences today." - Unknown

Saturday, July 14, 2012

Being Conscious

I had a conversation with a guy at breakfast this morning about relationships. He is struggling with finding someone that he desires sexually while still having a mental connection with that person. I think that's a challenge for many that are looking for deeper meaning and connection in their relationships. It's harder to find that person that you have a connection with than the movies or books make it seem. But, that's not what this post is about... This post is about what you do after finding that connection.

Richard Bach's words provide some of my greatest inspirations. He has moved me and at times, inspired me to simply keep breathing. There is a quote from the movie, Shadowlands, that goes something along the lines of "we read to know that we are not alone." Whenever I pick up one of his works, I am reminded that I am not alone and that there are like-minded individuals out there. I have had the great pleasure of being able to hear him speak on two different occasions. One was at a book signing where he showed up an hour early and had an impromptu conversation with those of us who had gotten in line hours earlier. It's one of my very favorite memories. The other was at a seminar he was giving about spirituality. It was at this event that he spoke about soulmates.

In Richard Bach's early works, he has a relationship with with a woman named, Leslie Parrish-Bach. Their start is, well, rough. He talks about that in his book called, The Bridge Across Forever. You meet them as a couple again in One and Running From Safety. They didn't always have an easy time of it. They have differences of opinion and different ways of looking at and processing the world. But they worked at staying connected; and seeing each others authentic selves. They were an inspiration to me. Then, years later (after the book signing but before the seminar), a little book came out that gave me an upset stomach when I read it. It wasn't obvious but I had the distinct impression that they were no longer together. I was devastated. It felt like my own parents divorcing all over again. I felt angry at him for deceiving me, for assisting in my belief that it was possible to meet someone and make a relationship work. I felt betrayed by him and my own hopes. So, when I met him at the seminar, I was still a little bitter and confused. When it came time for open questions, I ask him what happened. In a nutshell, here was his response (paraphrased, and I'm sure, not nearly as beautifully as his original words, but you'll get the meaning): When you meet a "soulmate" or someone that you have a connection with, it's like looking in a mirror. If you allow other things to cloud that mirror, then you lose that connection. You stop seeing that person for who they are and what they need and without that, the bond is loosened.

In other words, or rather, how his words rolled around like marbles in my head and what I ultimately took away from it was this: When we meet someone that we're connected to, however you want to define it, it's like looking in the mirror and we see the best and worst of ourselves. Ideally, we see the best and we want to strive to be more than ourselves or more than we are in that moment - not because it's demanded or manipulated - but because we suddenly have the foundation and freedom to reach for something higher than we can reach on our own. We're all human and we all make mistakes but if we're being our authentic selves in those moments and in that dynamic, and we're looking at our authentic partner just exactly as they are without the desire to mold or change them into something we'd prefer, then we are maintaining that connection. We are nurturing that relationship and not allowing the "clouds" (in whatever form they take: another person, old childhood tapes, children, money, etc.) to stop us from staying connected. It takes work but if that connection is conscious and authentic, then it shouldn't be a hardship. I imagine that it would look more like an adventure in exploration.

Last December a friend sent me an email from an article that she had found (she didn't provide a link but if you're intrigued, email me and I'll be happy to forward to you what I have) that talked about having an authentic, conscious relationship with another person. The article basically says that too often we have too many "people" involved in our relationship - when, by definition, a relationship is about and between two people. We bring in our parents, our churches, our past partners and sometimes, actual physical people. In those situations, it's hard, if not impossible, to be our authentic selves and until we're conscious of how those previous and current relationships play a part in the dynamic that is our primary focus, we will never reach a state of true intimacy. The article really struck a chord with me. The basic point of it was not that you'll ever completely get rid of those influences because that's not possible, but instead, to first become aware of their influence and how they manifest in your life and then to find someone that allows you to look to them for support and help, not in order to be rescued; to be a complete, whole person to their complete, whole person. It's about being conscious.

So, back to my breakfast conversation, he was saying that his ex wanted him to change, when he had felt perfectly happy being exactly who he was. He had previously felt that he was "good enough" and had hoped to be accepted. I don't think he's alone in the world. On some level, all of us simply want to be accepted for ourselves, exactly as ourselves. But, I hear from many - both men and women - that they meet people who want to change them. I don't understand that, by the way. I've always entered a relationship thinking to myself - what you see is what you get and if you can't live with this now... then what's the point, really. I've never looked at a potential partner and thought "there's a flaw in this area, but "I'll work on that.""

Let me clarify, there is a difference between supporting someone in their own attempts at growth and change, provided it was something they originally wanted to do versus seeing a quality that you don't like and then attempting to mold it into something that you want it to be. There is also a difference in asking someone to treat you with respect by asking them not to do something that hurts or annoys you. For example, if your partner is always calling you "the little woman" in front of their friends and you don't like it, well, I think you're obligated to inform your partner that you don't like it. Then, if the behavior continues, it's really about respect - their respect and concern for you, which is a whole other issue.

There has recently been a Fifty Shades of Gray craze and although I love the book and found it highly entertaining, it does scare me a bit. There are HEAVY attempts and some success by Ana to change Mr. Gray from who he really is into what she wants him to be. He compromises giant chunks of himself in order to be with her and please her. It concerns me that popular culture finds this behavior to be so acceptable. In fact, when I was discussing this very fact with a group of women, one woman became very annoyed with me when I pointed out the unauthentic, unconscious, seriously co-dependent hehaviors in their dynamic. She jumped down my throat in order to inform me that I was completely wrong and that Mr. Gray wanted to change. Really?!?! Really?? Because he seemed pretty content to be exactly who he was and it wasn't until Ana began her emotional blackmail that he started his own morphing into something more desirable to her.

But I digress...

In my last relationship, I felt, for the first time in my life, many of the things that I mentioned above. It was theory tested and proven true. But, it takes two people to keep the mirror clear. It takes two people to feel the connection. And it absolutely takes two authentic people, who genuinely want that connection, to maintain a healthy relationship that's centered around growth, authenticity and consciousness. It's not always easy, and sometimes it can be a bit painful (growing usually is), but I still believe the effort and journey are worth it. I'm a complete person and I'm looking for someone who is also complete and who wants to share an adventure in exploration.

Monday, July 9, 2012

Damn! Damn! Damn!

Have I mentioned lately how much I dislike "dating?" 

Most... okay... all of my dating originates from online sites. It's such an odd and mildly backward process. You learn from a basic profile more than you usually find out in a third... let alone a first... date. Plus, in the "traditional" method of meeting dates, you first establish that you have sexual chemistry and then see whether you're compatible. With online dating, that's backward... you first find out what you have in common and then determine whether there's sexual chemistry. So, why, you ask, do I not attempt to meet people in a traditional way?? Two reasons: 1) I don't usually hang out places where it's common to meet someone on a romantic basis and if some stranger just randomly approached me, I'd likely find that suspect; which brings me to 2) I never notice when someone is checking me out or hitting on me. Seriously, it requires a brick upside the head before I realize that someone might have an interest. Literally, my best friend once asked me during a walk, "Did you just see that guy leaning out his car window checking you out?" "uh, no..." She just shook her head. She and I joke that even if some guy plopped himself directly in front of me, wearing a bright neon sign saying "PICK ME!" I'd just put my head down and walk around him, muttering that "some people are so rude for standing in the middle of the path." For that reason, I suspect that I throw off some pretty decent "back off" vibes, even if unintentionally. And, really, that probably says more about my self-esteem than anything else.

But, back to my online issue. I'm one of those types that can usually find something to talk about with someone, and therefore, can create online "chemistry" with just about anyone. It used to be that I would spend a while exchanging emails but it reached a point where I'd think there was a connection and then I'd meet the man and end up completely disappointed, either because I was still intrigued but he wasn't... or... more likely, I just didn't feel like saying "yes!" I found myself in this cycle of hope and disappointment, which would ultimately wear me down and then I'd have to take a break from the whole online thing. In recent years, I determined that it was much better to meet early, before that faux connection was created. Now, I end up with a lot of first dates... but it doesn't change the fact that there is a serious lack of spark. I wonder some times if that's normal. I don't look at the world and think it's an all day humanity buffet. I'm pretty selective about who I chose to invite into my life and, honestly, don't often feel a sexual attraction to most men.

I've been on three dates in the last couple of weeks. All three of the men were perfectly nice but... nothin', nada. One was a mutual disinterest. I'm quite sure I didn't fit his idea of health and attractiveness, which is totally okay, I don't expect to be everyone's type. From a personality standpoint, we wouldn't have been a good fit. He gave wonderful hugs and was fabulously hairy... but... eh... I didn't even leave the date thinking that we could possibly be friends, let alone lovers. I've already talked about one of the men (see Kissing Frogs) who was perfectly nice and attractive but it wasn't there. We'd originally talked about being friends because we had very interesting conversations but then he decided he wouldn't be able to do that without hoping for more. We parted... but now he's texting. I'm going to have to confront the issue and point blank ask him if he's truly okay with being friends only.

Now, for the date I had last night... this situation is the one that I hate the most. He was so incredibly nice, sweetly nervous and would treat me like a queen. He would be anything that I want him to be. But, per my usual course, no spark. Nothing in me that wanted to say "yes!" I would give anything to be attracted to him. But (isn't there always a but?), I think he'd attempt to be what I want... and not who he is. I'm very attracted to strong men with strong personalities. Part of that attraction is likely about having a strong personality myself and I have no interest in dominating in a relationship. I want an equal partner... someone who can just be themselves with me, just as I want to just be myself with him. This guy has texted me three times since we parted last night. I don't want to hurt him but I'm afraid that he's going to invest too much hope in me and us as potential. From experience, I know how devastating it is when you're not on the same page as the person you're seeing and I won't do that to someone else. Ugh... Now I'm going to have to politely turn him down and that makes me feel like a total shit. Sure, all my friends tell me that I "shouldn't" feel that way and that I can't own their emotions. But, I do. I hate that I'm leaving hurt karma out there. I know how it feels to be rejected... to be the one who isn't "picked" and that sucks. It can, if you let it, erode the self-esteem and make you question your worth. I don't want to do that to someone else.

Why can't dating be simple? I'd give my right arm to realign the planets in such a way that we only meet people that we have a connection with and the potential for a mutual level of attraction and desire.. Dating exhausts me. But, I want to love again and since I haven't found another option, this appears to be the path that I need to take. So, I'll pull up my big girl panties and get online again.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Love of Learning

I started the new job in hospice today and it reminded me of how much I love learning.

I had a professor many moons ago who had a theory that people are at their most attractive in certain situations. Most of those situations are in places or circumstances where you can express a talent or passion. Perhaps it's the fact that you're doing something that you enjoy that lights you up inside... but perhaps not. I have a friend that I dated for a short time and I always found him most attractive when he was intensely concentrating on work. He'd be wearing glasses (which made him look so smart!) and utterly focused on whatever he was working on... HOT! For me, I'll never be hot in a bar... because it's not my element. I feel and then likely express that I feel like a piece of meat and I'm not even the prime, grade A choice cut. BUT... that's ok... because my element includes all those places where I get to use my brain... either through learning or teaching. Those are the moments when I light up inside. I can literally feel myself get a glow and I lean forward and open up. My brain is firing away and I just want to ask question after question. My voice holds excitement and I become expressive. I love looking around the room and listening to people talk, even knowing that I don't know or understand most of what they're talking about, just the knowledge that in 6 months or less, I'm going to be right there with them. Their knowledge will be familiar and mine. I love it. I've always loved learning. I loved school. It's part of why I love reading. There's something about the accumulation of knowledge that gives me a high.

I knew someone that used to say "Ask good questions." I totally agree. But I'm going to add... "be open to the unvarnished answer." It's not enough to ask the question... you need to be able to analyze and explore the answer, too.

I fell in love with two little girls last summer. It opened me to the idea of parenting or at least, being an example to future generations. If I could pass along just one thing... just one... it would be my love of learning. Learning opens up the world. I wouldn't trade THAT for anything.

Saturday, June 30, 2012

Kissing Frogs

I won't go so far as to say that all frogs are princes because that certainly wouldn't be the case. But, barring a serious case of narcissism, sociopathy/psychopathy or a ginormous dose of cluelessness, I think that many frogs could be royalty, if kissed by the right person.

Let me 'splain... I think that the divorce rate is so high because most people "love the one they're with" or make decisions based on fear of being alone rather than finding the one they want to say "yes" to. I think that if more people waited, well, I'm not saying the relationship wouldn't end... but perhaps the experience would be worth the journey. I think we expect too little; we undervalue ourselves... we replay those dysfunctional tapes that our parents programed and repeat their patterns... and then sadly, we pass those patterns along to our children. I believe we should begin as we intend to continue and that we teach people how to treat us. If we accept or allow someone to treat us poorly early on, then we've given them permission to treat us poorly in the future.

However, I'm asking for something different. I'm asking for something amazing. My amazing will look different from your amazing... and that's totally okay. As long as I think my situation is mostly (no one is perfect) a wonderful fit for me, well then, I've won the lottery. And well, while I'm at it, we all have baggage so if we can look at each others' baggage and think, "yup, that's a load I can and am willing to help carry" well, perhaps we have some place to start. I think that each relationship is different and that we must create a different dynamic with that individual from the one that we'd created with another... because people are different... needs are different and the chemistry created is different.

I had a second date with a guy today who was perfectly nice and attractive, etc., etc. I had a great, very intelligent, real conversation with him the two times we went out. BUT... and it's a big but... I didn't feel that spark. I didn't feel that little thing inside that makes me want to board the train and see where it takes me. I suspected the lack of chemistry on the first date but I've been told many, many times that I'm too picky and that I don't give people enough of a chance. Perhaps... but I've seen the men that they date and opted to be a little more picky... then to pick men like they had. I've experienced a dynamic that allowed me to feel as though the foundation and chemistry created would allow me to reach for the stars. I'd realized that with the "right" person, I am frickin' fabulous at relationships. I am all I want to be: open, honest, giving, a partner... and so on. I want that again. But I want amazing. I frickin' deserve something awesomely amazing! And so, when this very nice man stated that he really liked me and wanted to spend more time with me, I kindly told him that I wasn't experiencing the same thing. I felt it better... and ultimately kinder... to end it early. You see, I would much rather be told early on that "he's just not that into me" than to build up hopes and dreams... only to be crushed like a bug later.

For those reading my blog regularly, you know that I've had a tough breakup and perhaps it's too soon to start dating... but then again, perhaps it isn't. I have always trusted my intuition. Upon rare occasions its led me down paths that I didn't expect and to places that I'd perhaps rather not gone... but in all cases, I came out stronger, wiser and with a greater sense of self-worth. I haven't wanted to say "yes!" often but when I have, it turned into an invaluable experience.

And because I'm worth it... I'll keep kissing frogs, hoping that one day... I'll turn into a prince.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Dealing with Alzheimer's

A good friend of mine inspired me to write this blog post.

One day my friend and I were hiking and he was talking about his mom who has started to show signs of dementia. I work with people who have Alzheimer's (Alzheimer's is a specific form of dementia, which by the way, is not a normal aging process) on a daily basis and I believe that I approach them in a unique way that helps to keep them calm while allowing me to provide the care they need. I was walking through the disease process with him when I happened to mention that I thought the kindest thing a person or family member could do for someone with Alzheimer's is to recognize the point where "reorientation" was no longer appropriate or helpful.

Reorientation is a term we (healthcare professionals) use to describe the process of helping the patient orient to reality. It may be a simple reminder of where they are, what the date is or even what time it is. As Alzheimer's progresses, reorienting simply becomes stressful and the person starts to feel paranoid. Their reality has changed. In those instances, it becomes time to go where they go. I have the benefit of having been involved in the theatre. Improvisation is second nature to me. That said, although I know it's incredibly frustrating and painful for family to see their loved one in such a altered state, going where they are is the kindest thing to do for everyone.

A little story (or two):
We have a resident were I work who spent much of his life working as a security guard. He has reached a point where he now thinks that he is working security for a hotel and that he has a room there. Instead of reorienting him, which wouldn't be helpful and only confusing, when he comes up to ask if he's on shift, depending on what I'd heard in report, I'll usually ask him if he's eaten because it's break time and I don't want him to miss his meal. If he'd been up "patrolling" all night, then I suggest that he go and get a nap because he's "on shift" later that night and we don't want him to miss his sleep. I'm able to manage his care by going where he is and using his experience to make sure that his needs are met.

We had another resident that was very, very proper. She liked manners. So, I called her Miss Eve (name has been changed for privacy). She was very paranoid and didn't like people to touch her. So, instead of just coming up and shoving her meds in her mouth, I would kneel down so that I was eye-to-eye with her and say in an enthusiastic tone of voice, "Hello, Miss Eve, how are you this morning?" I would have a quick dialogue with her and because I'd spoken to her and discovered what she likes, I knew she loved applesauce. So I'd put her crushed meds in that. Because I also knew she liked manners, I knew she wouldn't refuse me if I told her that I'd specifically made the applesauce for her. Getting her to take meds was... simple. When she was no longer able to swallow effectively and her meds were put into a gel, I told her that her skin was very dry and that I wanted to put lotion on her. Whereas other staff really struggled giving her care, I never once had an issue. Because I would go where she was and offer what she was familiar with. No stress for either of us.

These basic things have helped me to have a relatively stress free interaction with those who have some sort of memory impairment.
  1. Have patience. Their thought process is slower than ours. If you think of memory like a file cabinet, we all store our memories (everything from words to the first time we saw Santa) within the cabinets, in their own, perfectly labeled files. And, if you're like me, then they're all nicely color coded with a neatly typed label. We are able to access these memories, for the most part, with quick accuracy that doesn't hinder our interactions. When someone has a memory impairment, it's like ALL of their files where tossed into the air. Some of them were put back in the correct file but others weren't and some files are now empty. It takes time for them to access those memories. It's not helpful when we attempt to complete their sentences or express frustration. They're frustrated, too. What helps is to use short sentences. Ask "yes" or "no" questions. Express one thought at a time. Use pauses in order to let them catch up. Sit quietly while they find the words. If you don't understand them, ask the same question... don't try to rephrase it, that only confuses them more because they think you're asking a different question.
  2. You don't need to be right. Being correct is unnecessary and you can't win... because their reality is not your reality. When you deny their reality, it creates paranoia, greater confusion and anxiety.
  3. Go where they are. If they think that you're their great grandmother... then be their great grandmother. What harm does it cause? None. And it provides them with a companionship that is familiar and comforting to them.
  4. Remember that Alzheimer's has stages and that each of those stages must be approached in a different manner. The person may not behave in a way that you are familiar with. They may not seem like the person that you love. But they cannot help their behavior. Some wander, unable to sit still. Some cuss or become overly sexually inappropriate. Remember that this is a stage and will eventually pass. 
Watching a loved one go through the changes of Alzheimer's can be very, very painful and exhausting. If you're a caregiver... find support (other family members, a professional support group, church, etc.) because it's not easy and caregiver fatigue is common. You're also really, really amazing for making the commitment (and it's definitely a commitment) caring for your loved one. If you find that it's too much, please don't suffer guilt. It's exhausting work. And there are wonderful facilities that can care for your loved one... just do your research.

If wish you every luck and my heart goes out to you.

**For more information about Alzheimer's and dementia, please click on the link above.

That Sense of Freedom

Yesterday morning, after tossing and turning and weighing the pros and cons of turning down a $94,000 a year salary (sooo tempting), I called the recruiter and told her that my heart lies in helping people and that I wouldn't be doing that in the position they wanted to offer me. Yes, I'm talented at teaching and training. But I'd rather use that talent to teach people about a disease process or about death and dying or how to maintain their health... not how to use a computer system.

This is the letter I'd received from her this morning. I guess they were even more impressed with my presentation than I'd originally thought.

I think it is the right decision for you- After hearing how you treat “Frank” – it showed me it is what your calling in life truly is! !I went home and told my fiancĂ© that I thought you would not go to the interview and would change your mind – I am fairly perceptive. When I called him and told him – he said you knew it.  I sensed that even if you went to the interview you would not end up taking the position. Later on, after you have been in nursing for a while you can always transition into training again – you would be a great trainer for nursing students or new nurses – compassion and respect are not always taught but shown through examples. I hope my mom finds a nurse like you when she moves to a facility!

Good luck and stay in touch!

When I hung up the phone yesterday, I felt this immediate sense of lightness, almost sense of soaring and I figured that I'd either gone into shock and had disassociated (that's a lot of frickin' money) or that's what freedom felt like.

I'm very excited to start hospice. I think I can make a difference and help people there. And I won't be making anywhere near $94,000 but at night, as I'm lying there thinking about my day, I hope that I fall asleep with a smile and sense of contentment.

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Adventures in Air Travel

Tonight as I was flying into Denver, I was fortunate enough to witness one of the most spectacular sunsets I've ever seen. The sun was this burning, hot orange-ish pink that transitioned into hot pink. As it set over the mountains, it hit the gray-purple clouds over the front range, creating a halo behind the mountains. It sank behind the mountains as I thought, "I am so blessed." And I desperately wished I had a camera with me. It's an image that I hope to never forget.

*                               *                               *

And so he goes... "So... are you one of *those* that likes girls?" My loud laughter echos throughout the plane as I reply, "No, I like men."

On the trip between Chicago and Louisville, I ended up sitting next to a career (30 years) Army recruiter. He was awesome! Very funny... He started by tormenting (I couldn't hear what he said) the 3 business men across the aisle and then he turned to me and said, "I love bar-tending their conversation. They simply hate that." He was currently stationed in MN but his wife lives in AK. He was traveling to KY for some sort of training. He was simply impish... and the one that asked me if I were a lesbian when I'd told him that I'd never been married. We talked about travel and Alaska. I told him of my October 2012 trip to see polar bears (a life long dream of mine). He showed me photos of his three adult sons, his wife and his Harley.

I'd left with his business card, a poker chip and a Harley sticker; along with the comment, "You're going to get this job. I can feel it. You have the personality for it"... all gifts from my seatmate.

*                               *                               *

It's occurred to me that if I want to meet another business man (which is who I seem to be drawn to), perhaps I should hang out at the airport on week days. There seems to be a whole lot of men in business suits here. Oh and... it's not the suits, it's the leadership that draws me in.

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Success Dilemma

"You may be the only good thing that happens in someone's life today." - unknown

So, depending on how far back in my posts you've read, you've probably realized that I haven't been particularly happy with the type of nursing that I'm doing. It's not that it's a bad or unworthy endeavor; it's just that it's not at all what I'd expected to be doing. In April, I'd reached a breaking point and papered the healthcare system with my resume. With a tad bit of success...

It landed me with an interview at a hospice company. It's one that I'd had great respect for and that I've worked with. I was very excited! Although, again, hospice wasn't something that I thought I'd be doing this early in my career, it was certainly an area of interest. The caveat... it was going to take "a while" to get me started. What I didn't realize was that they meant a LONG while...

I'm waiting... and waiting... I know that I've gotten the job but things aren't moving... at all. And, really, the point of getting a NEW job is so that you can leave the OLD job. A few weeks ago, I get an email from a recruiter about a traveling trainer position. It took a few days before I replied but I wasn't sure it was what I'd wanted. But, contact them I did. The job description is something that I'm perfectly suited to do. I've done very similar work in the past so I figure... what the heck? On the day of my first telephone interview, the hospice company calls and says they are ready for me to start... of course. Of course. In the meantime, I have to prepare a 3 - 5 minute YouTube video where I'm doing a mini training. I get the 2nd telephone interview and the day that's scheduled, the hospice wants me to come in and fill out paperwork... of course. Of course.

In the meantime, I've found out the travel trainer position would require/allow me to travel to 46 different states and will pay me more money (by about 34K) than I've ever made in my life. Needless to say, hospice won't be paying me that much. Instantly my mind starts going "cha-ching" and I'm planning on the extra large tv that I want to buy and the new cruiser bike that I'd hoped to get this summer. Then I start thinking about the masters that I want to get and how I could save, etc. I've also found out that I've gotten the face-to-face interview in KY and that I'll be required to prepare a 30 minute training session (on a topic of my choice) complete with material that I'd need to supply (for any hands-on portions that they're expecting me to include) and Power Point. Needless to say, I'm frickin' stressed!!

Thursday was meltdown day. I kept feeling all this pressure and uncertainty. I couldn't figure out if it were fear of presenting, fear of success or my intuition screaming at me to PAY ATTENTION. You see, I'd been noticing, but ignoring (I've discovered that I'm VERY good at ignoring) some ginormous red flags.
  1. The recruiter kept saying things like, "we had this one woman give an AMAZING presentation but her blouse was too low cut so she didn't get the job because they felt she showed too much cleavage. Really? She was great... but... Wouldn't it have been better to offer the job but to say, "we were a little uncomfortable with your outfit, mind being more conservative in your dress in the future?"
  2. I received no less than 17 documents (a minimum of 4 pages each) with "helpful hints" and requirements for the INTERVIEW! For the love!!
  3. "It's a very, very conservative company."
  4. I'd be a consultant, likely trapped into a contract until the end of 2013. Oh and... although the travel would be fun, I'd be on the road EVERY Monday - Friday. While initially fun, that could get really old, really fast.
  5. I'd be training their employees... when a physician doesn't feel like learning their new computer system... who do you think they're going to blame?? The M.D.?? Oh no, they'll blame the consultant... the RN. 
  6. I'm getting a deja vu sensation and mild anxiety whenever I think about the job. 
  7. I've only been a nurse for a year and in CO, the ONLY way to get a job in a hospital is to get the year under your belt. I feel like I'd be going backwards... going BACK to training computers. The job titles would be different... but it's essentially the same work that had driven me... fleeing... out of corporate America. 
  8. I'm very concerned that after the contract is up, I'd end up back in a LTC (long term care) facility because I would have had a hiatus with my "skills." And, considering this has been one of the hardest, most agonizing years of my life, needless to say, it's not one that I'd care to repeat (any of it) any time soon.
  9. My last corporate America job was really good at helping people board the "Perfectionist Treadmill" and then setting the speed at impossible levels, until you eventually slipped and landed on your face, nose bloody and likely broken. The more questions I'd asked, the more I felt as though this company was of a similar culture. I'd ended one abusive "relationship" (i.e. the former company), I'm not anxious to get into another.
So, though the money is very attractive and for a moment, it's shininess dazzled me and filled me with dreams of accumulation, I paused and asked myself... how do I really define success?? What really matters to me? The voice from my soul said, "you left corporate America and ripped your life apart in order to do something with meaning. Yes, you're an EXCELLENT trainer and teacher. It's a talent, certainly. But so is helping people through trauma. You can do that in hospice, with people whose lives you can make a difference. You're not making any difference by teaching someone how to input a certain code into a system."

I have a quote on my computer that has been there since I started nursing school. It says "you may be the only good thing that happens in someone's life today." It's something that I try every day to live... even when I should simply throw up my hands and walk away... I still try to understand the other perspective and be open to their experiences. So... success for me isn't defined by earning the almighty dollar. I define success by how much of a difference I'm making, whether I'm using my talents and whether I'm happy at the end of the day. I haven't felt very successful this last year. But, I'm working on it. And so, although I will have to follow through with the interview, I'm 99% sure that I'm going to turn it down. Because success isn't about money... not really. I want my epitath to read... "She was a really amazing, kind and compassionate person," not "She was a millionaire." Though, <g> if both are written, I wouldn't mind that either. I mean, I'm altruistic... not a fool!! <g>

Thursday, June 7, 2012

Before Ever After

I cannot rave about this book enough. I just finished it and it's all I want to think about. It's one of the most beautifully written, creative stories I've read in a very long time (and I read many, many books each year). I am deeply touched by the characters and the exploration of love and loss; what that means, how to cope and how to move on. The scenes are vivid and rich and the characters wonderfully three-dimensional. Max's story is moving and original. I couldn't wait to get to the next adventure... but I didn't want it to end. I so desperately didn't want it to end. For the first time in a while, I wanted to BE Shelley. I wanted to curl up next to Max and never, never, ever let go. I want to relive the novel over and over, memorize it, absorb it into my soul, incorporate it in my very DNA.

I hate that I can't tell you more... but I don't want to spoil anything. I will say... you absolutely must check out this book!

A few quotes from the book that moved me:

"Growing old is to be set free, Brother," the abbot said. "It is a slow and long-simmering process that extracts from you what you are really made of. But it requires acceptance. You cannot put a flailing chicken in a boiling pot. You must accept the heat and the pain with serenity so that the full flavors of your life may be released."

 "Shelley, will you let me hold your hand as we outrun reason, brush past elephants, race up steps, tumble down hills, roll in the hay, leap over crumbling walkways, and dangle our legs over ledges?"

 "She had known a love worth mourning, a love worth remembering."

Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Letting Go

Ever since December 31, 2011 I've felt this impending sense of doom. It's a bit like I've lost something incredibly valuable and don't know how to get it back or how to live without it.  It's made me by turns angry, frustrated, competitive, hurt, needy and depressed.

It's like I'm caught and I'm being forced to cut off a limb in order to save my life. It's the only option I see. I know it's going to hurt like hell but I don't know what else to do. So, I stand there trying to work up the courage. The first cut is excruciating. But I can't stop now. I know it will feel worse than anything I've ever felt before... but what else can I do? And yet, there's that lingering question... that little voice that says, "what if you're making the wrong decision? What if all this pain is about NOT letting go?"

I feel like I have to draw this line in the sand in order to be honorable and all I feel is a massive anxiety attack lingering on the edges, waiting to swamp me. I feel an overwhelming desire to curl into the fetal position and sob or to scratch and claw and kick at something just to let them experience what I'm feeling. It's like every cell in my body is screaming. I want to fall on my knees and beg. Please.

What if I've made the wrong decision?

I want him to be happy and if I'm not that girl, then I have no choice. I see no other option than to let him be free even though my heart is shattering.

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Things I'm Afraid Of - The Ocean

This month my group on FB has decided to challenge themselves to weekly topics. This week will be posts about things that scare me. Prepare yourself to jump into my irrational psyche. Have fun...

The ocean - it scares me spit-less. I know where it started... I was little when the book, Jaws, came out. For those old enough, you'll remember the cover... It's a woman swimming in the open ocean and Jaws is below her with its mouth wide open ready to bite off her leg. I imagine the second scene which includes a blood soaked water and woman dangling from a shark's mouth. I would stare at the cover in fascinated terror. Then, to really drive home my fear, when I was about 5 years old, we (my mom, her friend, Debbie, and myself) went out in a little rowboat onto a lake. I was terrified. And then Debbie screamed, "Look, Lisa, it's Jaws!" I remember screaming hysterically and curling up in the bottom of the boat, begging to be taken to shore. Sure... NOW it's funny. But I am left with a more than a normal fear of any water that isn't clear or where I can't see my feet. I even struggle going boating. Oh, I mask my fear well but it always takes me a little talk, reminding myself that sharks or box jelly fish can't live in reservoirs. 

I grew up in a landlocked state so getting to the water wasn't a normal event for my family (no exposure therapy for me!). We went a couple of times to San Diego but I didn't go into the water. I'm sure I walked in the shallow waves, but I have no memory of it. As I became an adult and cable became more popular, I fell in love with all of the science channels... and yup, you guessed it, I watched all of the ocean shows. There I learned more about sharks (Shark Week!), rogue waves (terrifying!!) and box jelly fish (death the size of my pinkie nail). Pretty much put the kibosh on any desire I MAY have developed to venture into open water. I'm not even sure I could do a cruise... rogue waves could hit at any time or we could get trapped in a hurricane. I MIGHT walk ankle deep as the waves crash into the shore... but those box jellies are sneaky devils and you don't see them until it's too late.

Nope... no ocean for me.

It's actually rather sad because I love the water. I find it very healing. I love the idea of sitting on a winter beach, wrapped in a big sweater, watching the gray waves wash in. I guess that would be okay since I wouldn't actually get in the water then. But I can't ever imagine going to a beach and getting into the water to swim. Yikes!! Strikes terror in my heart!

Monday, April 30, 2012

Z is for Zzzzzz

Ahhh... sleep... the big Z. How I miss you!

I used to be an awesome sleeper. I could get into bed and within 3 minutes of shutting off the light, I was fast sleep. I might wake up once during the night with bladder needs but not often. Now that I'm a month from the big 4 0, I have noticed a huge change in my sleep habits.

Men... brace yourselves... I'm about to discuss Peri-menopause!

First off... When did I get to be 40?!? I am so not ready for that. Second, I spent a number years in my 20's completely misunderstanding my mother's inability to sleep. SHE spent her 40's angry and sleep deprived - oh joy! Simply can't wait. She would talk about waking up at 2AM and being unable to get back to sleep. She would wake at the drop of a needle on carpet. I would roll my eyes and think, "geez, seriously!!" Okay, okay... you were right, Ma! It wasn't just your imagination or stress! I apologize for being so wrong and so judgmental!

Now, my sleep issues could be a combination of emotional stress and hormone changes. I will admit and accept that. But, ever since January 1st, I consistently wake in the middle of the night, spend a couple of hours tossing and turning, finally able to fall back to sleep, only to be reawaken a few hours later to the sound of my alarm, groggy and unfocused. I am HOT. Not hot flashes... just a major elevation in my body temperature. I want the covers off, I want the covers on. Oh my God... I've become a total sleep bipolar person!

I need to express a grudge against women who have already been through this... WHY didn't you warn us?!?! I would have enjoyed the sleep in my earlier years so much more. Perhaps even spent a few more afternoons napping. So, ladies younger than me... THIS IS YOUR WARNING!! You can expect terrible sleep in the years to come. Enjoy your sleep now, while it lasts!

Saturday, April 28, 2012

Y is for YES!

I'd mentioned in L is for Love and Lisa that when I met two of the men I have loved, I had a "YES!" feeling. Let me explain...

I trust my intuition. It's very, very rarely steered me wrong. Sometimes, I don't listen to it at first, but 99.99% of the time, it's been dead on. My trick is to listen. I have met two men that made me think/feel "YES!" and both of them were incredible life lessons. Most of the men that I've met I've thought/felt "NO!" or, even worse, "hmmm... maybe? I guess I could get used to this?!" I, personally, think that most first divorces result from people not waiting until they meet a "YES!" I know that I'd rather be alone than be with a "NO!" or a "Maybe." I don't think attempting those relationships are fair to either myself or the person I'm with. I believe they also deserve a "YES!" Now, I can't tell you exactly what the means. It's not a personality type or a quality... it's simply a feeling inside that says, "I'm going to board this train and I'm not getting off until the very last stop." Neither of the men that I've loved were what I'd expected. I guess that speaks to the fact that 1) you need to be open, and 2) sometimes the Universe knows more about what you need and want than you do.


I met Smitty when I was 20. I was at a stage in my life where theatre was my world. I had no interest in a significant relationship. I wanted to play and discover, with no interest in having anything committed. Smitty was... dazzling. He was like a whirlwind around me. I didn't know which way was up and which way was down. He was, hands down, the most dynamic man that I'd ever (to this day) known. He was... persistent. I couldn't say "no." Despite my arsenal of weapons, he kept coming back. He was so intelligent. He spoke 5 (yes, 5) languages fluently and he was so frickin' romantic. On the first morning after we'd made love, he sang to me and then fixed me breakfast. We used to compete to see who could make the most romantic gesture. We would sit on the floor and he'd play the guitar and make up Blues songs about me. It was insane... and so very much fun. We would go to a public place and completely make up stories about who we were and why we were there. He was creative and fascinating. He taught me that I deserved to be loved... and more, listened to. He wanted me, all of me. I never had a remote doubt about that. He would get a certain look in his eyes that would make me melt; and that would happen anywhere, no matter how public. He had a raw sensuality and he taught me about passion, being uninhibited and that I could be utterly sexy.  

Smitty was 35 and at a very different phase of his life than I was. He wanted to turn me into the perfect little house wife and mother. I was twenty and had no idea WHO I wanted to be, let alone where I wanted to be in the next year. The control issues... oh my! We fought all the time, about everything. It was so exhausting. I would get so tired of arguing. I just wanted us to be. I wanted him to let me simply... be.

After Smitty I spent a lot of time thinking about what we had, what I wanted and what I didn't. I spent many years working on myself. In my next relationship, I wanted to be whole, or as whole as possible. But, deep down, I didn't believe I was worthy and made romantic decisions that reflected that. It took me a LONG time to start to believe that. And, even still, that insidious thought will sneak in and sabotage all of my hard work.

"I will be walking one day, down a street far away. And see your face in a crowd. And smile. Knowing how you made me laugh, hearing sweet echoes of your from the past. I will remember you." - Amy Grant, I Will Remember You


As I've mentioned before, I waited 19 years before I met another man that made me want to say "YES!" I met Sean unexpectedly. I thought I was heading into a one night stand and I was okay with that. He opened his door and smiled and looked at me in such a way... and that big, bright white and neon sign lit up over his head with giant pink arrows flashing down at him. It said, "YES!" I closed my eyes and ignored it. I had a fantastic evening with him and the morning after the first night we slept together, I curled into his chest and breathed in. He smelled of "home." And I thought, "Crap! I'm in so much trouble here." I fully expected to leave and never hear from him again. I was okay with that. I was prepared for that. I had a wonderful night and was prepared to just bask in that. And then he said he liked me. And hope lit up inside me. Sean taught me how to simply be me. I didn't have to be anyone else for him and it felt so liberating. For the first time... ever (initially)... I felt like I was enough. I could be silent and didn't have to fill the space. I didn't have to entertain and I didn't have to control. I could be soft and feminine. When I was hurt or scared or happy or confused, he listened. He taught me I could openly express myself and be vulnerable and it wouldn't be the end of the world (and I really, genuinely feared it might be). He taught me things I'd never experienced before and opened me to thoughts and feelings and experiences that were... well, in a word, incredible. He took me to heights that he simply does not comprehend. He taught me that I could BE myself and not LOSE myself in a relationship. We had a quieter relationship and it's those simple moments that leave me longing at times. We would walk at sunset and just talk and hold hands. It was the perfect way to end my day. He taught me that I could share my space and that it was okay. He taught me that I'm fantastic in relationships and I that really enjoy them (though I still hate "dating.") He taught me what it means to forgive myself and others... and that was a lesson I was long in need of.

"You say the word. You know I will find you. Or if you need some time I don't mind. I don't hold on to the tail of your kite. I'm not like the girls that you've known. But I believe I'm worth coming home to. Kiss away night. This girl only sleeps with butterflies. With butterflies. So go on and fly then boy." - Tori Amos, Sleeps With Butterflies

I once had the absolute pleasure of hearing Richard Bach speak and he was discussing the end of his relationship with Leslie Parrish-Bach. He said that when you meet a soulmate (yes, "a"... I believe we have many, not just one, and they come in all forms - from friends to lovers to random strangers that say just the perfect thing at a perfect moment), it takes work and you have to continue to attempt to see each other. When you stop, you lose that connection (that YES! feeling) and they cease to be your soulmate.

I will forever be grateful to these men. They taught me so much... opened me to so much!! I sincerely hope that I get that "YES!" feeling again and that it doesn't wait another 19 years to appear because it's such an incredible place to live. I will not settle because that "YES!"... that feeling... is far too amazing to ever stop reaching for.

Friday, April 27, 2012

X is for X-rated

Okay... I have a confession to make. The reason that I've not written in my blog since Monday is that I've been COMPLETELY consumed by Mr. Gray and his fifty shades. Oh my!!

This is the review that I'd written for (there are no spoilers included):
Fifty Shades of Gray by E. L. James

Hmmm... Well, I will start by saying that 1) considering the content of this book, I'm seriously surprised that it's become such a mega hit; 2) I wonder what is taking place in our society that women are gravitating to this book like bees to honey; and 3) if you are even REMOTELY prude, this is NOT the book for you.

I had not heard of this book until a good friend asked whether I'd read it. She said, and I quote, "I can't decide whether this book is completely erotic or whether he's just an asshole." Hmmm... well, I was completely intrigued. Then, suddenly it was all over the news being called, "mom porn." I am a romance aficionado and have read my share of risque books (some I enjoyed and some, not so much.) I was prepared to hate this book. I wondered whether James would have the guts to go where she needed to go. I wondered whether she would be respectful to the BDSM community. I worried that she'd make it a parody or so distasteful that it would completely freak the vanilla world out.

I started this book and found the first 50 pages to be a bit slow. I didn't like that she was trying to make some of the language early twenty-ish. It felt awkward and false. That was the first night. The next day it picked up and I found myself completely unable to put it down. I simply HAD to know what was going to happen next. Needless to say, I got about 4 hours of sleep that night. The sex scenes... frickin' WOW, YES PLEASE!!! I think I have about 12 different bookmarks and am completely prepared to present them to my next lover. I mean, who wouldn't LOVE such a creative lover?!?! Yummy!! Before I'd even finished the first, I had purchased the next two. I couldn't imagine not finding out what happens... as immediately as possible... in the others. I thoroughly enjoyed their dynamic and the byplay between them (I love the email exchanges.) Who wouldn't be intrigued by a man that is so completely into them... duh!!

As for the BDSM aspects, yes... they are definitely, oh so deliciously there. And, James, does a decent job of giving a very high level overview of someone in the life style. She is respectful in indicating that it's about pleasure and pain and that it's ultimately about consent. Remember that... consent! I think that at times Ana WAY overreacts, just as Gray's possessiveness is a bit over the top. But, overall... way too much fun!

Now... that said, for the vanilla people out there who find this book completely erotic and want to try some of this stuff. Be careful!! Do your research!! It's too easy to unintentionally hurt each other physically and emotionally. Practice makes perfect... but not on each other! Remember that this is a ROMANCE NOVEL and NOT REAL LIFE! ALWAYS have a safe word and discuss limits. Go slowly. This book moves really quickly and it's not at all safe. Remember that if this were real life, Mr. Grey would not be sexy... he'd be a frickin' scary stalker!!

Whew... now that that's said... enjoy!!


But, this brings up a very interesting thing for me. What IS IT that's captivating women with this novel? I consider myself to be a hardcore feminist. I believe in equality for women and will support women in any way that I can. I am, absolutely and without a doubt, any man's equal. Perhaps not in all things but when it's balanced out... definitely. By the same token, I want to be the woman in the relationship. I want a man that is strong and capable. I don't want to subjugate myself in order to make "him" feel stronger... I want him to simply be stronger. I want a man that can take charge/control. I'm attracted to leadership. I'm attracted to a man that can make decisions. I find that a man that is able to do that, frees me. I don't have to be the strong one. I don't have to be in control. I can sit in the passenger seat and relax, for once. I can be young and playful and funny and all those other things that responsibility doesn't make me feel. That's not to say always... I believe in partnership and that there's a give and take. I believe that some times I have to be the strong one; which I'm more than capable of being. It's the give and take. I'm not asking for anything that I'm not prepared to give in return. But, most frequently, I find myself involved with men where I feel like I have to be in control because if I'm not, no one else will be. It's exhausting and those relationships never work for me.

I was talking to a woman about "bringing back the feminine." For me, that means having the door held for me, having my partner open the car door, having him place his hand on the small of my back when we enter a room. It's about feeling protected and desired. Not as though I'm the weaker sex... but, perhaps as someone to be cherished. It's about not feeling as though I have to be in control. That if I just... surrender... someone else is capable of stepping up to the plate. That's the romantic aspect.

I think this book also brings out (by it's huge popularity) that women also want to be "taken." That not being in control sexually is WAY TOO much fun! And, we women like sex and creativity and variety so much more than what we're given credit for!!

W is for Wondering

lol... I'm wondering if these sentences will cut it as an actual blog post?! I'm anxious to get to "X!"

V is for Voluptuous

From Merrium-Webster:
  1. a : full of delight or pleasure to the senses : conducive to or arising from sensuous or sensual gratification : luxurious <a voluptuous dance> <voluptuous ornamentation> <a voluptuous wine> b : suggesting sensual pleasure by fullness and beauty of form <voluptuous nudes> 
  2. : given to or spent in enjoyment of luxury, pleasure, or sensual gratifications <a long and voluptuous holiday — Edmund Wilson
So... I wonder... when did this delightful word come to mean "fat"? I am voluptuous and curvy and rubenesque. Some might even consider me fat. But, I like my body... overall. Sure, I want to be more fit because I enjoy feeling strong and active... but I don't ever want to lose my curves. I was once told that what is fabulous to touch isn't necessarily great to look at. Fortunately, it wasn't directed at me but it made me think. This society is so entirely consumed with being thin that it often frightens me. I have a friend who literally refuses to stop smoking because they are afraid of gaining weight?!? Seriously?!?! Lung cancer and laryngeal cancer (which is probably one of the most horrifying things I've ever heard of) are worth the risk to gaining a little weight? I find that horridly sad. I read a fantastic book called Wasted by Mayra Hornbacher about a woman's struggle with anorexia and bulimia. At one point she weighed 86 pounds at an average height for women and she was constantly told how great she looked. What the hell?? I find it frightening how unacceptable it is in our society to be overweight but how extreme thinness is looked at as a great accomplishment. Apparently starvation is the ultimate in self-control. 

I have struggled with my weight since I was about 6, for various reasons. Losing weight was hard. I enjoy being the weight that I am now. I'd like to lose another 20 pounds but if it doesn't happen, I'm okay with that. There is a fantastic part in Eve Ensler's The Good Body where she describes a trip to Africa. Please pardon the butchering but in a nutshell: Ms. Ensler is talking to an African and she asks her whether she loves her body and the woman replies to the effect of "I love my body. Look at my arms, they are strong and can carry many things. My legs... oh my legs! They can carry me to great places... so strong" and so on. She then asks Ensler if she loves her body and Ensler replies that she doesn't; that she doesn't know how. The woman then says, "Eve, look at that tree... do you love that tree?" Eve says, "of course, it's a beautiful tree." And the woman say, "what about that tree? Do you love it?" and Even says, "of course." The woman then says, "but they are different... how can you love each tree?" Insight dawns and the woman says, "Love your tree, Eve." I'd also watched a fantastic documentary called America the Beautiful (you can get it on Netflix) and they focus on loving your body as function. It's a beautiful and insightful documentary. I would highly, highly recommend it. 

There is a beautiful blog that is written by a woman that I've come to love (her writing at any rate). I've included a link because she says it better than I. 

U is for Underneath

I often think of myself like an iceberg. No, not because I'm cold but because only about 10% of what I'm thinking and feeling are actually shown to the world.

I do a fair job of making people assume that they know all there is to know about me. I'm open and will answer almost any question asked, with frankness and honesty. But, therein lies the rub... you actually have to ask. I don't often just share (this blog is somewhat of an exception). I'm curious and like to ask others questions and it's been a great diversionary tactic when I'm not up to talking about me. Plus, I find that I sometimes ask questions in an attempt to get to know someone, but also in the hope that they'll ask me questions back. That they actually want to know me, too.

I'm extroverted and like to organize group events. I give the appearance of being totally strong and capable and well, in control. I smile as a genuine indication of my emotions... but also as a defense. And, sometimes it's probably difficult to know the difference. I've lately been recognizing that if I weren't the initiator, I'd never see 98% of the people in my "life." I have people in my life that I consider "good friends" who have never once asked me to go to dinner or a movie. I make most of the attempt to stay connected... and I find that lately I'm tired and hurt by it. It's not really their fault. I probably set this situation up as part of my personality. And, yes, ordinarily, I don't mind so much - it's part of my nature and I'm good it. Yes, I can ask for help and do. I learned how to do that a long time ago... but sometimes, it simply nice when someone else notices that you're at the end of your rope. Sometimes... I wish others would stop and look underneath the surface... or simply just ask "hey, how are you doing?"

Monday, April 23, 2012

T is for Theatre

I owe everything to my theatre experience in high school. It not only saved my sanity when I was younger and gave me a safe place to experience a wide range of emotions; but it gave me a community of misfits in which to play with and belong to.

I learned how to think outside of the box by doing improvisation; how to creatively find a solution and think of various different ways to meet and make an end goal feasible. It's allowed to me come up with methods to get my work done (what do you want and how do you get it?) while ensuring that most of the people I work with felt as though they had won, too. It's taught me how to deal with many different types of personalities. It taught me to think quickly and on my toes. When dealing with people who suffer memory deficits, I'm able to easily go wherever they are and to maintain a conversation that meets their needs. It's taught me that if at first I don't succeed, then instead of giving up, it's simply a flag that reminds me I need to come up with a different path that gets me to my destination.I learned to break things into "beats" or steps and figure out the problem in that moment before moving on to the next step or beat. It's what allowed me to be an effective project or process manager.

It makes me sad whenever I hear about another school or district that is cutting funding to their music or theatre programs... or worse, eliminating them all together. Without theatre, I wouldn't be the person that I am today and that would truly be tragic.

Saturday, April 21, 2012

S is for Small Spoons

So, it turns out that I have all sorts of funky eating habits and rituals that I was totally unaware of (as being odd) until I dated my last boyfriend.

Here are a few:
  • I'll only eat with the small silverware that comes in the set.
  • I don't eat leftovers unless it's Indian or Italian.
  • I like tomatoes but rarely eat them because I don't like to cut them.
  • When I eat a club sandwich, usually it's cut in thirds, I have to eat 1/3 first, then I can add ketchup to my plate for the fries.
  • I use ranch dressing on my steak (and, there are many who would be completely horrified that my steak is well done. Or, perhaps, they'd argue, that's why I use to the ranch to begin with.)
  • I have to have lots of pickles for my cheese burger and I will never eat a burger without cheese. (Good thing I'm not attempting to eat kosher!)
  • I don't eat seafood except for popcorn shrimp; and that only because its breaded and I drown it in cocktail sauce. 
  • I can't eat yogurt without having granola in it... It's a texture thing.
  • I don't like most cooked vegetables but love those same vegetables if they're raw.
  • I'm not a big fan of popcorn and if I were forbidden to ever eat peanut butter or chocolate again, I'd be okay with that. 
  • And, I'm sure that there are many more that slip my mind at the moment...
I'm not sure where it started or even why I do it. It was never something I really thought about until it was pointed out to me (in a funny and loving way) and now I find it a fantastically quirky part of my personality; one of those things that make me amusingly different. I guess I wasn't aware I was unusual when compared to my stepdad, who will joyfully put peanut butter on fried eggs or cheese. (gag!)

So, what are some of your quirky food habits? I know you have some... so spill!

Friday, April 20, 2012

R is for Release

Release! (Said almost with the same intensity as you would say it to a rabid dog who has its jaws sunken into someone's leg.)

I have recently had a great epiphany. Ready for it?? I am wickedly stubborn. I know!! Shocker!! I can see all of my friends that are looking on with a "duh!" look on their faces.

But really, for as self-aware as I consider myself, I have never considered myself stubborn (or competitive, but that's a whole other blog post). Until recently. I've noticed that I have a really hard time letting something go. I am stubborn, stubborn when it comes to deviating from a plan or path that I had been on. It's like moving giant boulders. I'm not talking about old childhood wounds or some such thing, I'm talking about a general thought or idea that implants itself into my brain and absolutely refuses to budge. Lately I feel like I will fight to the death for a losing battle... and I KNOW it's a losing battle. (sheesh)

I've been pondering the idea of "letting go" lately; which the opposite translates to stubbornness for me. It's sort of along the same lines as "let go, let God" or "just breathe." But, apparently those gentle messages don't get through my thick, stubborn skull and now my new word is "release!" The intensity of that feels much more aligned with the intensity in which I'm holding onto whatever it is I'm holding onto. It's my "gentle" reminder to surrender and know that I don't need to control everything; that it's okay to let a process proceed to it's conclusion without my intervention. In fact, my intervention may be exactly the wrong thing to do. Perhaps if I can't get the "release" message soon, I'll have to get a clicker and treats or a pinch collar. That just might do the trick.

Q is for Questions

Ask any of my friends, I love questions! My brain is filled with them. I am curious about everything... what makes people tick, why do they do the things they do, what if there were a different way or different life or different experience? I am infinitely curious about human nature and what brought people to that point... all those little decisions that made them arrive at the place they are today. I'm also very curious about my own process and what led me to the point that I am. I consider myself to be pretty self-aware and unafraid to go deep in the self-examination. Therefore, the questions usually begin with "if" and sometimes it's "I wonder..."

I find that asking creative questions is a unique way of getting to know someone and often gives a better insight into the type of person they are.

Here are some of my favorites:
1. If there were a Fantasy Island (yes, I know I'm dating myself), what would your fantasy be?
2. If you could solve one universal mystery, what would you solve?
3. Would you rather travel into the deep ocean or deep space?
4. What one choice did you make that if you made the opposite choice would have completely changed everything about your life (excluding having children or getting married... that's too obvious)?
5. If you could choose any other career besides the one that you're doing now, what would you choose? And, if you're unhappy now, why aren't you doing it?

Next time you want to get to know someone, try one or more of these and see what responses you get. It's more fun then "what type of music do you listen to?"

Thursday, April 19, 2012

P is for Paradisiacal

Since I was having a hard time coming up with a word that really spoke to me and inspired me to write, I decided to look up a new word and came across...

Paradisiacal. adverb: suggestive of a place or state of perfect bliss.

Ever had one of those moments? Where everything seems to be exactly as it should be in that moment? Where, just for that second, everything is perfect?

I have.

It often happens when I'm on a hiking trail somewhere in the Rocky Mountains. Usually, I'm surrounded by green, there are wildflowers and aspen. Sometimes there's a light breeze that causes the leaves to shimmer and dance. And other times, there's a lake and I'm sitting on a rock... just breathing. Then there's moments when I'm glazing up at a mountain peak that seems unimaginably high and I think, "wow! There is so much that's greater than myself."

Lake Dillon, Colorado - April 2012

Other perfect moments have involved listening to music. I'll be lying on my couch and a certain song will come on that simply speaks to me in that moment and I think, "can my life get any better than this moment? It would simply not be possible."

Silence has also brought me to that state of sheer bliss. One memory in particular - I had just come home from a hike and my dog, Bailey, was sleeping on one end of the couch and I was reading on the other. I was enjoying my book immensely and everything was so quiet. I had the windows open and it was one of those perfect Colorado days in May; warm but not hot and there was a breeze blowing through the living room. I had no responsibilities and no decisions that I had to make. I remember thinking, "my life is absolutely perfect, just as it is, right now."

Laughing with friends or having a deep conversations will bring my soul to a place of awe and wonder and I think that I'm so incredibly lucky to have the people in my life that I do. They are sheer bliss.

Lightening and thunder storms cause a different sort of bliss. This feeling energizes me and causes my adrenaline to rush through my body. It reminds me of the power of Mother Nature and how awesome she is. And how awesome life is.