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.

O is for Obvious

I'm pretty sure that it's built into my DNA since my mother is this way and my younger brother definitely has the trait. So, in the nature vs. nurture debate, in this instance, I'm going with nature; definitely nature. Frequently we (meaning members of my family) look at other people and their words and/or actions and think, "okay, duh! Master of the Obvious!" I know that makes me obnoxious (another "o" word!) and just a tad intolerant. BUT... Seems to me there are a fantastic number of people out there with very little to no common sense. It's little things from signaling prior to cutting into the next lane or putting a band-aid on someone's wound at work when they have delicate skin. Gah! Duh!! I think to myself, "how in the world are you not lighting yourself on fire while trying to boil water?!?!" Today for example, I gave report to the next nurse coming on but had to stay to finish up some charting. Most people in the facility have very little faith in her ability, so that means that even though I'm only there to chart, I get to field questions and take additional telephone orders that should be given to her. Anyway... I leave the desk for a moment and when I come back, she hands me a message and says that she doesn't know what it is. Since there is no reason someone would be calling me specifically, I said that she needed to find out what was needed. She then crumples the paper and says, "oh well, if it's important, they'll call back." My response, "umm, okay, but what I'm wondering is why you're not calling them to find out what they need. You're the charge nurse now." So, she calls. Turns out, it was the hospital wanting to give HER report on a new resident that we were admitting that night. Oy vey!!! Or, and this is classic... years ago I worked at a book store and it wasn't uncommon for someone to walk in and say something along the lines of "do you have any good books here?" "Ymmm... nope! We've sold out of all of our "good" books. Now all we have are "bad" books." Seriously?!?! Come on, now! Or, my personal favorite, "So, I was watching Oprah about a month ago and I don't remember the name or the author... but it had a blue cover." REALLY?!?! "Let me just take you over to our "blue cover" section and you can see if anything is recognizable." Sheesh! Think before you speak. It would be funny, if it didn't happen so often.

Now, don't get me wrong. I know that we're all busy with a million and one things that we're trying to juggle. I understand the periodic faux pas, those random "senior moments" or "open-mouth-insert-foot" times when something just comes out. I'm not talking about those. I'm talking about the chronic offenders. The ones that you're sure should never have gotten the degree they claim to have, the driver's license that is stored in their wallet or, sometimes, simply, the job that they show up at but you have to go behind and clean up the mess. And... to those without common sense... you're making the rest of our lives harder!

Wednesday, April 18, 2012

N is for Nothing

Yup, that's right, folks... I got nothin'. My brain is completely empty. (But I am almost caught up on the A to Z April Challenge.)

M is for Memories

I have a poem posted under my poetry tab called Miscellaneous Me, which is filled with memories. I am made up of all my experiences... all my memories. I am the wonder I felt when looking at the sun through a newly bloomed tree, the softness of that cool breeze I felt when the sun was just a tad too warm, the hurt I felt after a betrayal, the excitement inspired by holding onto a new ticket to a Yanni concert. I am all those things and more. I know there are some that would argue with me. But me... I AM made of all those moments. The positive and negative are all a part of me.

Memories are such an interesting thing. They're not wholly the truth, which makes them a lie. And yet, they're our truths. They're what binds us to a situation or person, for better or worse. We hold on to those moments, filling in the details so thoroughly a memory is created. They fill in the cracks of who we are and define our responses. They can prevent us from moving on when it's time, or keep us from letting go when it's not. When the words are few, the bond of those shared moments still remain. They bring us joy in times of darkness. They offer hope and speak to possibility. They can also remind us when we're not meant to go back. And provide a fond smile when the thought dances to the forefront of our brain and the healing is complete.

"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 echos of you from the past. I will remember you." -Amy Grant, I Will Remember You.

L is for Love and Lisa

I couldn't decide on just one topic for this letter. Every time I'd start to compose this in my brain I'd end up on the other topic. Decide, okay, perhaps I'm meant to talk about that topic and find myself back at the original one. So, it felt important to write about both.


Last year I fell in love with someone for the first time in 19 years. The second I saw him everything in me said, "YES!" I had been waiting for that feeling for a very long time. I can't say that I wholeheartedly trusted it... but I didn't deny it's existence.

My first love happened when I was 20 and I loved him fiercely and passionately but was never able to tell him (see B is for Bravery for reasons why). Oh, I told him that I adored him and that I thought he was amazing. But I could never say those three little words. They meant too much... they were too powerful. And, I don't trust love much. So when Smitty and I broke up, it was one of the things that I regretted... not saying how I felt.

Since then I hadn't met someone that drew me enough... that I wanted to spend that sort of time with... until Sean. My dynamic with him was 180 degrees from what I had with Smitty. With Smitty it was a flash fire, fast and intense, passionate and dramatic (oh the drama and fighting!)... and so quick to burn out. With Sean, I knew immediately that he was someone that I wanted to spend a lot of time with. Those voices in my head that ordinarily flash into the future and predict how the relationship will go were turned off. I was content to take it a day at a time; to simply enjoy the experience and see what happened. I felt I had nothing but time. I didn't want kids of my own (I knew I'd some day be a step-mom, there are few men my age that don't already have children) and I wasn't sure where I stood on the whole marriage concept... so there was no reason to rush. But, to quote Tori Amos, "I like rivers that rush in." So though emotionally things weren't moving quickly, for me at least, our lives together did. In some ways, things were very easy between us. We lived well together. We shared domestic duties well together. We didn't argue. We could have deep, intense conversations without feeling the need to change or convince the other person that our position was the correct one. Each of us are very good listeners and we both like to live life beneath the surface. In some ways, we were very alike and in others total opposite. For me, it was a nice balance. We didn't always have a lot in common to talk about but it meant that there was something new I could learn from him and also gave me the benefit of remaining close to my female friends because all my words weren't given to him. I still had more to talk about. He was strong, physically and emotionally, but also unafraid to cry. I liked that in him. It made me feel as though I didn't always have to be the strong one; that I could let go and surrender the need to control for a bit. The world wouldn't fall apart if I sat in the passengers' seat for a while. With Sean, I was slow to fall in love. Both of our lives were in flux and we were dealing with a lot of life changes. I wasn't 20 anymore... I was rapidly heading towards 40 and I looked at love in a way that wasn't about simple infatuation. We questioned at times whether there was enough passion in our lives. I think that aspect bothered him more than me. I saw it as lack of drama. I felt passion for him. I wanted to watch him because he amazed me, touch him because he turned me on, talk to him because he intrigued me and for me, that was passion... it just didn't come in that intense package. We were about 6 months into our relationship when it began to occur to me that I loved him. But because it was still fresh for me, I didn't say anything. I didn't trust my feelings and honestly, I didn't trust his. I didn't know where he stood where I was concerned and was afraid to ask those questions. And then he broke my heart. That story is not for here and not for this time. But I found myself finally telling him that I loved him on the last night we were together as a couple. It was... ironic.

Now I have the chance to open my heart again. Love for me has never been an easy emotion. It's wrapped up in all sorts of fears. Because of Smitty I wonder if the flash and burn is real... but because of Sean I question if I'm on the road alone. I don't know where to find the balance.

This new man is interesting and intelligent. He looks amazing on paper and I've enjoyed our conversations. Each relationship is different and always... always... a new dynamic is created between those particular individuals. I liked me with Sean and I grieve that loss of self. This new man is interested in me in a way that Sean never expressed and that's a bit scary. He lives a good ways from me so seeing him has, to date, not been possible. And, if the chemistry is there it would require leaving everything I moved back to Denver for behind again. That's scary, too. I'm still not sure I'm ready to take that leap.

I feel torn because Sean still holds pieces of me... but I feel the tug of this potential, too. I still want to say "YES!" to Sean but question whether that's possible and letting go is what is supposed to happen. What I do know is that I want to love and I want to live. Turns out that despite all the intimacy fears that I'd had between Smitty and Sean, I'm really good at relationships. Who would've thunk it?!?


I've mentioned The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin... oh, about a hundred times, so it should come as no shock that I'm mentioning it again.  She talks a lot about "Be Gretchen." I've always felt that I've been pretty true to myself, that the image that I project is pretty authentic. But, "Be Gretchen" made me think about where I wasn't "Being Lisa." I have moments of "shoulding" all over myself. I "should" like this. I "should" not like that. I "should" be this and I "should" let go of that. Recently I gave away copies of all of Anne Rice's vampire books, plus, Violin, Pandora and one of the witches books. I had been carrying them around with me for about 17 years... including across the country - twice... and finally decided that I will NEVER read them. It's not my thing... and Anne Rice is not an author that appeals to me... and that's simply ok. I may never watch another movie that was made before 1970. I'm sure there are many that are brilliant... I just don't like them. I can't get inspired to watch "old" movies. And, that's ok. I'm starting to realize that it's perfectly acceptable that I have preferences and that doesn't make me close-minded, shallow or in any way limited. It's simply me... and it's okay to Be Lisa.

a mug I'd painted as a little reminder

K is for Kitty

I have the most beautiful of all beautiful kitties in the whole wide world. Her name is Isadora (aka Is, Izzy Izzy Izzy, boobaloo) and she's a 7 year old Tortie. She brings me joy and her warm little body against mine is surely the best napping pill ever!

I was taking an Interpersonal Communications course in college when I heard about something called a "touch quotient." In a nutshell, we all need touch but some of us require more physical touch than others do. There was a psychiatrist that was seeing a number of women who were in their 30's. All of them reported having a fulfilling career, a positive relationship with their families and healthy female friendships. But, they all reported feeling depressed; some even had severe depression. What they were lacking was a partner and because of that - skin on skin touch. Their touch quotient wasn't being met. The remedy that the psychiatrist recommended was a weekly massage... or... get a pet. This really struck me. I was 30 something. I had great friends. I was, at that time, satisfied and challenged by my career... and yet, I was depressed. I wasn't dating anyone and didn't have any real potential prospects at the time.

So... I found a local shelter and Isadora picked me out. She has been fantastic. She's been across the country, in a car (and we all know how much cats love that!), with me 8 times. During lean times while I was trying to get through school she lived with me in a room. She has been patient and loving and a true blessing in my life. I can't imagine my life without her. Thanks, Miss Is for deciding to come home with me.

J is for Jamie

I've recently finished reading Outlander by Diana Gabaldon for like... the 100th time. Ahhhh, Jamie... I love him. He is only the very BEST crush in the whole wide world. And, really, if you have to have a crush on a fictional character, may as well make him a gorgeous, tall, masculine, strong, red-headed Scot who is also affectionate and has the capacity to love without reserve!

Oh... Jamie, Jamie, Jamie... how you make me smile and dream.

I'm a big fan of fictional crushes... I mean, for the most part they're harmless. The biggest risk really is comparing them to all of the "real" guys out there but, well... okay... that's not good at all. Not that it'll stop me from dreaming.

Other fantastic fictional crushes:
Mike Muldoon from Into the Night by Suzanne Brockmann
Max Bhagat from Breaking Point Suzanne Brockmann
Vane Kattalakis from Night Play by Sherrilyn Kenyon
Sam Donovan from Mr. Perfect by Linda Howard

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

I is for Inspiration

I wonder what inspires you. I always find it fascinating to hear what brings another to a place of inspiration; what raises them out of themselves and takes them to a place of creativity, or focus, or however you define inspiration.

For me, I'm deeply inspired by words; especially when they are beautifully or cleverly combined to form a sentence that strikes awe in me, moves me or simply makes me go "huh."

For that reason, I love books! Books open my world and take me to places or into people that I would never meet in this lifetime. They're a study in human nature, our drives and motivations. Through them I sometimes see my own journey or the path I could've chosen but didn't. At times books help me work through what I'm dealing with at that particular time in my life, or teach me new methods of dealing with a future experience. I can almost always find something in a book that moves me or alters, even slightly, how I approach the world.

Quotes are another inspiration for me. I have them on magnets and posted all over my fridge. I've created a journal that is filled with quotes that make me think. When I moved across the country alone, I drove the entire way there with a quote propped up beneath my radio as a reminder that I can create my own destiny. During my darkest hours, I have studied them and been reminded that others have been here too, or had even darker moments and survived their journey, intact and sometimes even the better for it. They have been the words that I couldn't say or couldn't articulate.

Standing among trees is my connection to a higher power; it's my cathedral. Being surrounded by nature reminds me that there is something so much greater than myself and that I am the perfect puzzle piece that fits exactly where I need to be in the big picture. When I am feeling stressed or disconnected, I head for the mountains and the sound of my feet on packed earth grounds me once again.

Rocky Mountain National Park, Black Lake Trail - July 2011

Along those lines, photography triggers my sense of wonder. I wonder what those people were thinking in that moment, what they were doing. I wonder how the photographer felt as they gazed at that incredible site. What made them take that particular photo in that particular moment? As I mentioned in a previous blog, curiosity and creativity help me to release any depression that I might be feeling. It helps me to get unstuck be taking me beyond my small piece of the world... even if just for a moment. And sometimes... a moment is all I need.

H is for Highlighters

I have a confession. I have a secret fetish for office supplies. I love them!! I have been known to wander through an Office Depot while desperately attempting to convince myself that I absolutely do not need that paper cutter or that collection of pens... or jeez... that spiral binder that I'll use three times before I decide I need another one.

I am a pen snob. It's RSVP for me all the way, baby!! Even though my rational mind understands that there are thousands, if not millions, of them out there, I can't help but think whenever I see someone with them, "Dude! Is that my pen? Did you totally steal my pen?!?"

Oh... and don't get me started on highlighters. It does not help my case that I'm totally a visual learner! It's colors, colors, colors for me! At work, I've assigned a treatment to a color so that I'll know at a glance what I need to do on whom. It's terrible... it's obsessive.

Speaking of work, when I was in corporate America, I'd find the newest supply that I could (say... a stapler) and then I'd take a white label and neatly write my name it, then I'd tape it to the object. Then, if anyone took "my" supply, I'd know and could take it back!

Yup, it's a sickness!

So shhhh... please don't tell. If you'll keep my secret, I promise to share a pen with you. In the meantime, I'm looking for a support group. <wink>

G is for Growth

I wonder why growth is often so painful. Why, as humans, do we insist that we cannot grow when things are stable and we're, well... happy or at least content? Why is the saying "the pain of staying has to exceed the pain of leaving" before we chose to alter our existence so impossibly true? Are we naturally stubborn? Is safety so very important to us? Why can't change knock on the door and we simply say, "ok, let me go pack for the journey" and we enter the next adventure with the desire to meet the challenge head on?

I am a Gemini, and as a mutable astrological sign, I ordinarily enjoy change and have been known to seek out change simply for the sake of change... but when it's thrust upon me... I fight like a wild cat dipped in water. I have also been known to subconsciously create chaos or sabotage myself in order to force change into my life... to knock down with force that ivory tower I had been living in. And I always bring in the big guns... it's no bulldozer for me. No sirree... I employ dynamite to destroy my tower. Apparently I want no option of returning to that place once I've left. Under those circumstances... I don't like it. I don't like it at all. In those periods, I feel as though instead of building bridges, I'm burning them as soon as I cross them. Perhaps I'm intentionally, though subconsciously, ensuring that I am unable to ever go back. That that option simply doesn't exist. Lately, I feel as though I have a ginormous bonfire behind me.

There is lots of change happening in my world right now. I feel as though I'm standing on broken, slate rock and every move is a perilous risk that could result in a broken leg. Each move I make could be stable footing or a long and painful slide into a place I don't want to be. In some ways, it creates a fear of moving at all... but I know I can't just stand there waiting because the earth has started to rumble beneath me. And I'll be forced to take action no matter what.

What scares me is the path ahead. I can't see it clearly. I long for a hand to hold but find that I am alone. But perhaps that is also part of this period of growth.

"The mark of your ignorance is the depth of your belief in injustice and tragedy. What the caterpillar calls the end of the world, the Master calls the butterfly."          -Richard Bach

 "If nothing ever changed, there'd be no butterflies."          -Author Unknown

“We delight in the beauty of the butterfly, but rarely admit the changes it has gone through to achieve that beauty.”                   -Maya Angelou

F is for Frustration

Grrrr... I'm so sick of applying for jobs and immediately getting discounted because I don't have a year of nursing under my belt. I'm frickin' qualified!!! Just give me a chance for the love of God! I promise... you won't regret it! I'm an incredibly fast learner and have highly developed critical thinking skills!

E is for Effervescent

Joyously unrestrained...

I have been described as "bubbly," "vivacious," "spirited" and "full of the essence of life" - in other words, effervescent. In my positive moments, I would absolutely agree with those adjectives. I love the images that the word conjures and how it captures a youthful joy in life and experience.

I'm not, however, feeling very effervescent lately. At times I feel bogged down with the details of life, as though the struggle to survive is more than can be tolerated. I long, at times, to walk with another - someone to share the journey with, the heartache and triumphs. "And what I wouldn't give to find a soul mate? Someone else to catch this drift. And what I wouldn't give to meet a kindred?" (Thank you, Alanis Morissette.)

If you explore the history of this blog, you'll know that I had intended to do a Happiness Project this year. Oh boy did that go to hell in a hand-basket fast. (wry smile) I was so inspired after reading Gretchen Rubin's book and so excited to see how much happiness I could create in my own small corner of the world. Well... 2012 has started off being one of the most difficult challenges I've ever experienced. "Happiness" seems to have come second to "survival."

Perhaps happiness is a choice... simply making the decision to be so and you are so. Part of me absolutely believes that. Another part of me says... "but..." I know that the state of being effervescent is a natural state for me; that my curiosity in the world around me eventually rises to the surface and helps me recapture that "joyously unrestrained" feeling once again. I hope I find that state of being again soon...

Monday, April 16, 2012

D is for Desire

Sometimes the wanting is so much it oozes from interest into craving. Sometimes its for a person, or a condition, or an object. I know you know what I'm talking about... the wanting that defies reason and rational thought. It's that burning that lives deep in your gut that says "that" or "he/she" is meant to be mine. I have to... I must... make it mine.

For me, desire can be a motivator to make a change, stretch my limits or use my natural stubbornness to remain focused on a goal - when evidence to the contrary is showing me the road is difficult and perhaps even fruitless. Its at times created a desperate need in me that forces me from my safe place and into the unfamiliar. Desire has led me into situations that were perhaps not as... smart... as I'd ordinarily choose had rational thought been at the forefront of my brain. In my world, desire and hope are intricately, even intimately, intertwined. Hope offers the light at the end of the tunnel, while desire gives me the fortitude to continue the journey when the light seems distant.

At this stage of my life, I desire many things... a man who can love me back, as I am capable of loving him; a job that fulfills the need to give back and make a difference; an expansion of my world through travel and adventure; the discipline to continue my journey to a healthy lifestyle; and a space where I can find balance and my center.

Years ago, as a project for a creative writing class, I wrote the following poem. It was before I started the nursing program (see C is for Career Crisis) and I was not dating anyone at the time. It typifies my desire, at times... but perhaps with a darker edge.


Lurking in my dark depths,
The monster inside
Salivating with desire.
His dark need oozes from pores like sweat.
He is filled with reckless greed.
Breaking free of the rational bonds I have placed on him,
He surfaces with single-minded intent and
I’m wrapped in his arms of selfish want.

that sweet safety net,
that protective defense,
Is ripped harshly from my mind.
I am overcome.

Through his eyes I burn with longing.
I am enticed,
Lured into pure sensation.
With irrational insatiability I pursue the object of my yearning
Lost in fantasy,
I am conquered.

Surrendering, I embrace the monster inside.
Reveling in his power,
His mouth that consumes
My body.
Leaving behind
Intense, biting

C is for Career Crisis

I'm currently having a career crisis.

I am, what is considered in the health care industry, a "new nurse." What that means in practical terms where I live is that I'm pretty much required to work in a long term care or skilled nursing facility. And, well, I hate it. It was never something I wanted to do to begin with and being here has only confirmed that it's not something I want to do. I went from LOVING the elderly to well... something far less than that.

Let me start at the beginning. Nursing is my second career. About 5 years ago, I ripped my life apart by leaving the safety but hellish environment that is corporate America. I wanted to do something that had meaning, where I could give back. I wanted to feel like I was making a difference in someone's life. I have a quote on my computer that says: "You may be the only good thing someone experiences today." I don't know who said and I don't remember where I found it, but it got me through nursing school, when times became tough, I was losing my house and sure in the knowledge that completing my BSN was also going to result in losing my car and filing for bankruptcy. But I was sure... absolutely sure... that what I was doing would result in more fulfillment and a life better served. I did not... absolutely did not expect that I would be where I am today.

I'm ambitious. So instead of going for my associates degree, I opted to spend the extra time and complete my bachelors. I knew that one day I would absolutely go for a masters. I graduated magna cum laude and was inducted into the nursing honor's society, Sigma Theta Tau. I studied my booty off and dreamed and planned. I also wanted to move "home" and knew that staying in the state where I was currently living would stifle my soul further. Staying likely would've meant that I'd already be working in an ER or ICU. But, the day of my final exam my car was loaded and I was driving across country with my cat and the remainder of all the possessions that could be loaded into my car.

I thought... I thought... that coming home would mean there were more hospitals and less nursing schools so I'd have a fighting chance of getting a job in a hospital. I spent 3 weeks studying for the NCLEX (for those not in nursing, that's the exam that gives me a license and allows me to practice in my state as a registered nurse) and passed with 75 questions in 45 minutes. Again, for those not in nursing... that's frickin' AWESOME!!

This time last year, I was filled with hope and confidence. I thought the world was my oyster. And then I started applying for jobs. I figured that my prior work experience, along with what I was able to accomplish in school would give me a toe hold in the door. I couldn't have been more wrong. After about the 100th rejection letter (and I mean that literally), my confidence waned and I took a job in a memory care facility that was really more a psych ward than strictly dementia. I actually enjoyed it for the most part. It was the staff that was crazy. That and being required to work nights. As a morning person, a 9p - 9:30a shift was pretty much the creator of insanity. In addition, I wasn't practicing any of the nursing skills that I had learned in school and I wanted that... needed it in order to get into a hospital. So, I went to a long term care/skilled facility. It has been hell pretty much since month three. It is the polar opposite of what I thought I'd be doing and the dreams that I had created. I fought for a long time to be optimistic and remain happy but I'm worn down. I'm tired.

And now I'm questioning whether it's nursing that I should reevaluate or simply the area of nursing that I've found myself involved in. I'm actively applying to other places right now and my optimism is resurfacing... at least cautiously. I hope... I hope... that it's simply the wrong place and that there is a niche for me where I can either save lives, ease someone's pain (emotional and physical) or assist them and their family with end of life issues and concerns.

B is for Bravery

Those that know me personally are probably completely shocked and surprised that my "B" isn't "Books." Though I love them fiercely... another topic has been more relevant lately.

I've been thinking of bravery a lot since the beginning of April and what that really means. There is the obvious bravery such as a fireman rushing into a burning building to save someone or a cop going into a dangerous situation, scared, but knowing that it's the "right" thing to do. Those are also heroic moments... but I'm not speaking of those.

Merriam-Webster defines bravery as the "state of being brave: courage." They also say that brave means "having or showing courage."

So does that mean that confronting any fear is an act of bravery? Things like confronting your emotions, standing up for yourself, setting boundaries, or being honest with yourself about yourself... or even scarier, being open and honestly sharing your emotions with another. Is that bravery? What if it's the thing that scares you the most in the world... the exposure of your naked, unfiltered self, is it bravery then? And for that act of bravery, should one expect a reward? Some sort of payoff? Or is the act itself the payoff, the simple knowledge that through the sharing, growth took place? Should that be enough?

Change requires a huge amount of bravery. It's scary to let go of the familiar and take the leap into the unknown, not knowing whether a net will catch you, you'll be given wings or if you'll be smashed flat on the rocks and left there bloody and wounded. I carry the scars of being smashed flat, but a few moments, too, where I've been given the wings to soar.

For me, trust does not come easily. It never has. There is always a tiny but persistent part of me that fears rejection or the confirmation that I'm not worth it... whatever "it" is: the energy, time, effort, love, etc. Trust requires every ounce of bravery that I have. I have fought hard and spent many an hour in a therapist's office to overcome some of that fear. I'd recently been able to push against that fear and meet it head on. I didn't feel brave. In fact, I was scared shitless; but I allowed myself to open up and be exposed. I can't say the end result was as I'd hoped or expected, but I am richer for the experience. And perhaps next time the fear will not be as great, the dragon will bellow a little less fire and there will be more steps in that bridge that I'm required to cross. Perhaps next time I won't be considered to be quite as brave.

"The bravest are surely those who have the clearest vision of what is before them, glory and danger alike, and yet notwithstanding, go out to meet it." 
                     - Thucydides (Ancient Greek historian  and author (460 - 404 bc))

Sunday, April 15, 2012

A is for Absent

I have a very good friend that began a blogging challenge that she found called the A to Z April Challenge. She sent it to me and I found it intriguing... but one thing or another... April rolled around and I didn't start it. However, I just read her blog and I love how authentic and honest she's being; how finding a topic based on a letter has allowed her to focus and be inspired. So... although I'm a little (ok... a lot) behind, I've decided to start my own. I'm not officially joining the challenge so we'll just consider this a personal one.

When thinking of my "A", I thought of many words, "adventure," "art," "amazing" and "authentic", to name a few - but right now, I'm struggling with being present in my life. I've been longing to simply "check out" and regroup, which is a comfortable and safe place for me but also an ivory prison. So pretty, but I'm trapped, nonetheless. And although there is a place for that and it can be very healing, I also find that it makes me absent from my life. When I'm in that state of mind, I allow life to pass me by, which in turn causes me to feel stuck. Being stuck makes me want to push back on life and people until something breaks or shifts. All around, it's a vicious cycle and not particularly productive.

So, I've been asking myself how to stop being absent in my life without creating strife and anxiety. How do I reengage when the urge is strong to stay hidden? I'm not sure of the answers yet... but I'm still asking questions.