Relearning How to be a Girlfriend After Being Married

I’m still learning. When I wake up and get ready to face my day, I get to decide I don’t have to know what it will look like or how it will feel. The hard part is realizing the many ways I need to unlearn an existence.

I was a wife for 15 years. I made meals I never ate. I rubbed sore muscles and washed laundry for someone that wasn’t my offspring or me. Dishes were washed and bathrooms scrubbed as the last thing I would ever want to do with the consistency of someone suffering from severe depression. The stench of urine never went away because teaching my boys to use a toilet when I didn’t have a penis as an example means it was a poor lesson and it often failed all over the seat and floor. (New lesson: bleach will make my skin reek and burn my eyes but after a while, the chemical scent fades and with it the smell of stale urine only a barfly could appreciate.)

I dated when I was younger. It was a goal to be someone that might become a wife one day. I wanted to be all that would make me a wife. Even to the point that I would put my desires behind someone else’s. I was a chameleon for love, as it were.

Fast forward to nearly two years ago and I’m suddenly single again. A year ago I started to enjoy being single. I’m doing what feels good and exciting to me. I go where I want and stay out as long as I want and it’s about making myself happy. I’ve gotten really good at buying myself flowers and discovering Victoria’s Secret for myself. I eat what I want and enjoy the epicurean delights of self-satisfaction. I love being single because I get to be selfish without feeling selfish.

Then lightning strikes and there’s a man. Just one. There’s a boyfriend and I get to unlearn being a wife to learn how to be a girlfriend and no longer a single woman.

There are moments of joy because I love the way I feel when I’m with him. There are moments of doubt. I have FOMO (fear of missing out) just like anyone else. Is there someone else? Could there be someone better? I have moments of telling myself to relax and enjoy each moment for the spontaneous gifts of our time together. Our times together are amazing enough that I want to learn to be an us when I was so happy with just being me. And moments where I feel like I don’t deserve him. They coincide with moments when he tells me he knows there isn’t another me on this planet.

I found myself rushing home after work to be by his side and in his arms. On a kid free day as a single woman, I would normally just explore the area I work in or drive to the ocean for a while until traffic was a straight shot home and into bed.

I keep turning the thermostat slightly lower to accommodate his comfort rather than my desire to comfortably walk around naked at home.

I would normally have a light dinner or a non-existent one on a kid free night, and I wonder if I should cook for him or how that should look as his girlfriend that isn’t hungry and he surprises me by caring for my needs and being self sufficient. I have moments that beg for a lifetime in spite of my fear of what that could look like. I wonder if I want more and I ask why can’t I have the more he’s offering. And there’s happiness and contentment and moments that shock me and rock the certainty I almost lived in. (I’m certainly adaptable.)

I find myself trying to remember how I am supposed to behave and care and not rely on him. Can I rely on him? Does he ask that of me and why does that scare me. Around that time, the reality of being abandoned shows up and I see how I keep holding him at a safe distance, without accounting for the fact that there is no safety in what we have and that is the thrill I have a right to embrace.

I’m learning what drives him and where his passions are. I’m learning to see the new patterns of who we are and not place the heavy burden of the old (my past) on top of him.

When I met my ex, it was on the heels of a superficial relationship with someone else. He introduced me to a song that I in turn introduced to my ex. We played that song over and over on our honeymoon. I kept wondering if I should just tell him and pick a different song. I heard it on the radio this morning and it was interesting how the memories of it were layered by two different men. I heard another song with a similar scenario and two different men, and again, the significance and memories cascaded in a way that felt so confused and beautiful. There was a moment with my current boyfriend. There was a sweet emoji he texted to me (and so help me, I’m embracing smiley faces and I don’t feel like an asshat doing it). He sent a picture that reminded me of my ex and I let his expression color the picture in a different light. Like brush strokes on a canvas, we are offered a gift in our expressions and it was a moment to shift what I saw and how I felt and rather than dwell on what it was, I was able to bask in what we’re making it. And that moment is his and mine and has nothing to do with anyone else.

My kids on the other hand . . . Kid1 isn’t in love with my dating one person. (He might have enjoyed the idea of me being a player or hard to keep because that meant I was so picky only his Dad was worth holding onto and that means only my kids held my attention. He isn’t rude but refuses to engage.  Kid2 is indifferent. Kid3 (at 10 years old) has moments where he likes the new boyfriend and moments where his anger is palpable. He tried breaking my car window after watching me, watch him pee all over the toilet seat on purpose. I withheld my smirk and laughter at how visceral his need to be territorial was.  And there I go with that bleach lesson again. We’re all learning.

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Learning Empathy

I went to an empathy workshop.

I was at an empathy training workshop last night and the real lessons kept hitting late last night as I was finally dozing off around 3 this morning.  It was a class that found me through the MITT network of classes I started in July.  Through discussion and working on ideas and concepts with others, I get to take notice of my actions, and make changes. I get to see how I look at the world around me and really understand how narrow minded I am.  I get to break the confines of what I’ve always known to experience all that can potentially be.

My judgements kept me from empathy in my marriage.

 

I was hard on my ex.  Ending the relationship the way he did because he wanted happiness and found it in other people throughout our marriage was something I crucified him on. Over the last couple of years as I really got to look at my life, I understood the value of my happiness and I can see that I was depressed through most of my marriage. I loved him.  I just wasn’t happy with myself.  I’ve learned that happiness comes from me.  I can’t borrow it from someone else.  I can’t take from who they are.  I get to make my own and while I can offer a smile, I can’t put it in anyone else. Being apart was a gift but I was so attached to my role as a wife that I looked for my happiness in other ways just as he did.  The reality of his action in a marriage of our mutual inaction was a gift and without malice I can see the ways in which he fought for our mutual happiness.  I can no longer blame him for the many ways he gave me more than I asked for in the life I now get to live.

My self guided tour spends a lot of time in selfishness.

Through a self guided transformational exploration of who I am, I no longer find my value in what others think of me.  They have no point of reference in judging me and have no idea how to value me.  I am not my college degree.  The time I took to earn it was a challenge and it was emotionally rewarding, but it’s a piece of paper and means little in my job search.  I’m not my relationships.  There is value in my relationships, but my relationship with myself means more than my relationship with anyone else.  I’m not my looks.  I like attention as much as the next person, but being a sex object when I feel so much better about my thoughts and ideas that are often ignored is never a good feeling.  I have a large brain and feelings!!!!

As a wife I was very selfish and couldn’t see it without empathy.

I was rebellious in spending in ways that made me happy, justifying it as household necessities, knowing he wouldn’t see it that way and hiding all evidence of that debauchery.  For both of us, it was about control.  I did it in small amounts I felt could be justified.  He never saw the value I did and saw all of it as the deception it was.  I wanted my home to be a place I wanted to escape to, and he wanted to escape from it. I sucked my time and energy into side projects like making soap with fat and lye.  Or learning all about keeping bees and chickens. I would garden and do all I could to ignore the chaos and the lack of support I felt in my own home. I would read books back to back so I could check out of reality and school became a priority.  He wanted connection and found it in other people and I always held the idea that I did nothing wrong in isolating him because I did it in learning and ways that I felt were important to me and my family and I didn’t devote energies to other people and that meant I was faithful, right?

Last night in an empathetic perspective shift, I realized that he was looking for something to pull himself out of a marriage that wasn’t satisfying to both of us. For him, it meant walking away in the ways he needed to. For me through my attachments to being the wife I wanted to be, it was on my birthday this year when I decided something so terrible and irreparable had happened that I could justify the end of a marriage, because being rejected and abandoned for 11 months wasn’t enough. It was such a bad situation for both of us that something so drastic had to happen to justify walking away.

Empathy means I get to be vulnerable and release both of us.

I learned that through empowering myself, I have become the bully I felt he was being to me.  I get to take notice, and stop being aggressive when I know fighting back is a choice.  I know I can defend myself and I no longer need to. I shifted my perspective just enough with the help of someone else, I was able to forgive him on a level I didn’t realize I had not forgiven him yet. I went through months of repeating to myself, “Iforgivehim, Iforgivehim, Iforgivehim.” But I finally released the rest last night and it was just a perspective shift.  No crying.  No ritual or prayer.  Just a shift that let me release my ego, disconnect my emotions from thought, see it with new eyes, and let the fuck go.

Without empathy there is only selfishness and a commitment to being right and it is a pattern I took into my last relationship.

I had a boyfriend for a few days this week.  I don’t actually write about my relationships until they are at the point where I am ready to release them.  I hold close what I intend to keep and the moment I start writing, I know they may see it and not like what I have to say and walk away. With each of them, I’ve already seen enough to feel he’s not the one. It’s like a last ditch effort for me because the most attractive thing I could hear is “I’ve read your blog and it’s what makes me like you so much.” It was something I would have never heard in my marriage and it means probably more than it should now. I heard that in the last week and it was the most intense and short lived relationship I’ve had since my marriage.  There was one night that is a gift I will unwrap in memories for a very long time.

The workshop I signed up for was sent to me as a message on Facebook and I got the alert while next to the man I was with.  I brushed it off, but the next day signed up anyway, fully knowing that I may be with my boyfriend, but also knowing there was a chance I wouldn’t be.

How I met my last boyfriend.

Wednesday of last week I was doing my usual right and left swipe on a dating app. There was a man that was dragging out the conversation with a sentence a day for a couple of days.  I pushed and almost asked him out that night, giving him room to be dominant and actually do the asking.  He did and it was immediately attractive, even if the face in his profile picture was in shadow and hard to see. We ended up meeting at a bar, and as I learned from a friend that shared the workshop with me (as we continued our night at an epic viewing party in Beverly Hills we crashed), that was when I started rejecting him.

Rejecting and pulling him closer was selfishness.

It was that first gut check reaction when he stood next to me and said hello while I was looking in a different direction, and I flinched when I saw him.  It was in the ways he moved closer to me and I moved back.  It was in leaving and using my tone of voice and body language to flirt with another man, through innocuous conversation right in front of him.  It was as we were walking to our cars and his parting kiss was rebuffed in my excuse about public displays of affection.  It was in celebrating and laughing at going home by 10, asking my friend that works at the bar about that beautiful man I wanted to get to know better and a Facebook post that was a direct dig at the man’s character.

Stopping my dysfunctions is something I get to work on.

Somehow the next day I went out with him again.  I loved his dominance in telling me he would pick me up.  I was talking to two men about him.  At one point I wanted to date them but ended up sticking them in my friend zone.  They told me I should go and I was deciding against him before giving him a chance the way I did to them.  I had nothing better to do and so I met him on a second date.

But he was so good in so many superficial ways.

The physical chemistry was there.  He had a body I could cry over.  (I might have when things ended.) The third date was following a familiar pattern and when he asked me to date him exclusively, I said sure.  I mean, he was my first actual date that got a second date since that beautiful but barely understood Italian man back in May. I had coffee, and hugs in the week before, but those weren’t dates as much as meeting platonic friends I would never meet again.  It was easy to date him exclusively.  It followed the pattern of my boyfriends in Junior High.  Being his girlfriend meant no one else could steal me away.  Being my boyfriend was cool because no one else was asking me out.  I like to focus on one love interest at a time anyway.  Everyone else was just mental aerobics in bouncing from conversation to conversation.

We didn’t really talk and I never allowed him close to me emotionally. I said yes to all he asked of me, without really considering the image of the future he had in mind.  He gave me a poetic moment and it just chipped away at the ice around me.  I nearly melted at his words and given time and really given the opportunity to step away from my judgement of him, it could have been special.

I rejected him in the ways I talked about him.

I told family and a couple of friends that I had a boyfriend, but the reality was I knew it was temporary and described it as such to everyone that I talked to about him.  I only told my family because I wanted to spend New Year’s Day with him and invited him to join us. When my kids met him, my youngest had a gut check that didn’t trust him (he blamed it on the shape of my boyfriend’s nose), my oldest hid from him in the bathroom and his bedroom and my middle son gave him a classic autism dismissal.  He was a non person to my kids because they knew he was good enough for me, which he really was, but not good enough for them. I actually told them this.  The reality is he made me want to be selfish and enjoy him, going against my better judgement as a mom and not putting my foot down and saying no when he asked about meeting my kids.  At the time he said he wanted to grow a full relationship and make me his woman and start a family and all of that.  Instead I prepared them by saying they didn’t have to worry because he’d never be their step-dad because I didn’t think he was good enough for them.  I get to look at that on it’s own. This was me rejecting him again.

The day he rejected me was when the cost of my rejections of him broke over me.

There was a dynamic shift and Tuesday night after we were exclusive for maybe 5 days, he broke it off because he wasn’t comfortable with my male friendships that he saw as disrespectful.  And I didn’t take it well.  I mean, I could see the jealousy and the ways that it would have grown into an abusive relationship because there was nothing deceptive in my friendships when I was clearly choosing (and simultaneously rejecting) him. His rejection was immediately seen as a gift because he was able to walk away when I knew it was right, even if I really didn’t want him to. But he let me go before I was ready for him to.

I don’t usually cry for the men I talk to and date.  I see the lessons they leave and there might be a bit of sadness, but rarely tears.  This was different. This was rejection and abandonment.  This wasn’t me seeing him on a moment to moment basis, but actually imagining a few days ahead. I had this disconnect between what I knew wasn’t a relationship I was really invested in and the emotional pain from the loss of it.  I didn’t beg him to take me back but I let him know I didn’t want to lose him.  It was the first time since I started dating that I meant it more than I wanted to.

Last night I was getting ready to leave and sat on the floor of my shower crying for a relationship I never wanted to grow.  He was fun, and I loved the way it felt to be in his arms and the many other things he made me feel, but I was objectifying him completely.  The moment I felt it was mutual, I felt a familiar ache that had nothing to do with him. I felt in the reflection of my rejection all of the pain I must have given him and I was shattered. There was a lot of good in him but in my rejection, I never closed the distance to really appreciate him.  He was tender and affectionate.  He was tall and I really loved his body.  He was capable of taking care of himself, even if I saw the ways in which I would live his life differently. He was mine, and then he wasn’t and that wasn’t a choice I made for us.

I was still blinded by my selfishness.

I left the workshop feeling like I needed to give myself empathy to put the relationship and all it was supposed to be ahead of the things that were important to me as an individual.  After a reality check from a friend in the many ways I was rejecting him, I knew I was being an asshat and not giving him an ounce of the empathy he deserved.

Last night I went to the workshop I had a feeling I would be at anyway.  I signed up for the class knowing that even though I had a boyfriend, the relationship might not last that long.  I don’t know that I would tell him any of this.  It’s not that I’m showing you all I am an asshole.  I’m okay with being authentic.  I’m not really a nice person all the time.  Some people think I am because I can be, but it’s a choice. Part of me wants to make him feel better about the ways I rejected him.  I know that it is about relieving guilt and not for him. Part of me wonders if he saw it because until it was pointed out to me last night, I really couldn’t. Part of me wants to give him the power of his rejection.  He made an empowered choice for his life and I need to give him that.  The rest of me wants to honor the many ways he affected me and taught me to shift my perspective, even if he has no idea he did.

It’s amazing what stories make sense when you go through a situation and what a perspective shift can do.  In the class, I learned that empathy isn’t draining if you exchange it with vulnerability. Seeing things with compassion, understanding and love is a gift I get to give to myself.

Hopefully you can learn from me too.

Think of a person you have a hard time seeing eye to eye with.  Give voice to your frustrations.  Give yourself permission to feel what you feel. Then flip it.  Ask what they would say you are doing to make them feel the way they do.  Look at them with love.  There’s a reason, or maybe there was a reason that they mean enough to get under your skin. See their world the way they do and let go of the idea you are valued for being right.  That is what empathy looks like and in my case, it’s got a heavy dose of guilt.

Rise

“Rise”

I won’t just survive
Oh, you will see me thrive
Can’t write my story
I’m beyond the archetype

I won’t just conform
No matter how you shake my core
‘Cause my roots—they run deep, oh

Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in my veins
I know it, I know it
And I will not negotiate
I’ll fight it, I’ll fight it
I will transform

When, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,”
But still I rise

This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in
Think again
Don’t be surprised
I will still rise

I must stay conscious
Through the madness and chaos
So I call on my angels
They say

Oh, ye of so little faith
Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Victory is in your veins
You know it, you know it
And you will not negotiate
Just fight it, just fight it
And be transformed

‘Cause when, when the fire’s at my feet again
And the vultures all start circling
They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,”
But still I rise

This is no mistake, no accident
When you think the final nail is in
Think again
Don’t be surprised
I will still rise

Don’t doubt it, don’t doubt it
Oh, oh, oh, oh
You know it, you know it
Still rise
Just fight it, just fight it
Don’t be surprised
I will still rise

These are the lyrics to the song Advanced 139 chose to represent who we are. Powerful, right? It’s not the Katy Perry version but a cover by Boyce Avenue.
Last night I was challenged. It was a stretch for me.  I was to embody Beyonce and be empowered by it.  Oh my goshness.  It was rough and there was a really raw feeling that settled in my belly and held me hostage most of the day.
There are many people that love Beyonce, but I’ve never really been a huge fan.  I still haven’t even listened to Lemonade.  The album hit too close to home.  Waiting for my ex to decide he wanted me back for 11 months is not a feeling I want to revisit.  I feel stronger now.  I feel confidence and joy I didn’t feel before.  I feel freedom for the first time.  Listening to that album didn’t feel like something I could handle, so I’ve avoided it.  I loved her music in the early days, but there was a disconnect in who she is.  I tend to love music, while ignoring the person behind it.
The prude in me sat in judgement of her.  I’ve never seen the skin she exposes or her dance moves as empowering.  We have different styles.  I will step outside of the voice in my head, steal a hug from a man and tell him how appreciated his beauty is.  But it’s about sexualizing someone else for my needs, not caring about theirs.
“You’re beautiful.”
“Thank you for loving your body as much as I do.”
“Thank you for that public service that looks like your exercise routine.”
Spreading her legs on her back . . . Crawling on all fours . . . Exposing her flesh to turn someone else on always felt like putting her sexuality in service to someone else.  It’s her agency but it felt like she’s giving it to someone else because he wants it enough that he’ll claim ownership of her. It says more about me than it does her.  Madonna has done the same for years, but there’s this distance she has.  She hasn’t seemed emotionally needy in decades.  It’s also possible that I over identify with Beyonce and I see in her the parts of myself I don’t like.
I spent years using my body to please others, rarely ever enjoying the encounter myself.  I’ve found my power in satisfying my needs, rather than trying to please someone else.  I’m in a place where offering my sexuality is a gift I’m offering because I choose to and it’s no longer a gift just because someone else wants it.
I posted a selfie video on my Instagram on September 19th.  I almost took it down because I thought of it being used by someone else to live out a sexual fantasy.  I decided to leave it up because that would have been me catering to someone else’s fantasy, rather than enjoying the moment of confidence and satisfaction I was in when I made the video.
I was asked to empower myself by being transformed into Beyonce.  I had to dress in a way that I wouldn’t dress.  My bra was visible through my shirt last night.  I wore pleather shorts, much shorter than I’m used to, with high heels that I nearly fell in.  I stumbled and almost took a few ladies down with me.  It was epic.  I was cheered through it and it helped me get through the ridiculousness.
The big part of what I was asked to do was to empower myself.  How amazing is it that people who have known me for 3 days could decide on day 4 that my biggest discomfort is in empowering myself? They don’t see my insecurities at work when I’m asking and double checking what I know because I’m afraid of making mistakes.  They don’t see me shrink back from fighting because it’s easier to not fight and walk away than use my voice.  I know I could hurt others.  I choose not to because hurting others hurts me even if I’m being attacked, but also because there’s uncertainty . . .   Sitting in the shadows as others move forward unable to use the thoughts that just don’t shut up in my head . . . They don’t see me silencing myself when with family or my ex.  They didn’t see that the only place I’ve found confidence is in fighting for my children.  In this moment, I can see that as the past because I’m a badass and change is a choice I can make today and continue to make.
Last night, we left it out there.  I powered through my fear in bravery.  I stumbled through cold, in heels that were a little too big and trusting my feet or not, the shoes betrayed my ankles and I powered through in courage.  And through it all, I said, “Oh what the fuck? Do whatever it takes,” because in the end, it wasn’t about me but supporting and being supported in what I was doing.  I was being encouraged while allowing others to encourage me.
After the performance, I was lifted by my tribe. I was cradled, then held high above their heads as Beyoncé sang “Halo” and I sang along with her. My walls were tumbling down. 
At the end of the night, I had rug burns on my knees.  I had several hands on my body.  I held so many people in my arms.  Rather than feeling dirty and used, and distanced by my own design, I felt open.  I felt so much love that while my heart was ready to burst with the trust I felt, I was okay with it.  It was a time of open hugs that offered more full body contact than I’ve had in really long time with men that were scantily clad.  I may have really enjoyed that too. I offered massages and gave massages.  It wasn’t payment for a negotiation of pleasure.  It was a gift and an offering of love.  Unconditional love and service to each other.  I was open to sharing who I was.  I was ready to let others in. I am ready to let others in.
I had a moment of just opening up in love to my Buddy.  He’s beautiful.  He’s kind, and generous.  He’s considerate. He’s a leader.  He’s everything I would want to wake up to in the morning, if only he weren’t gay.  I keep saying the perfect man would be gay but into me and he embodies this in a way that aches.
I’m committed to being gentle with myself, and opening up to others, trusting that being hurt by others might happen and I’ll face that set back with a moment to say, “Yes!” I’ll sit back, reassess, and move forward with an open heart because closing off only hurts myself.
The legacy I will live in will be to live in openness. I get to live and allow others in.  I get to live and in empathy, find empathy for myself because being connected to what I feel is a gift and I receive it in the present.  Each breath I breathe is the gift of life and each exhalation is my contribution to the world, and I can’t contribute if I hold who I am.  That will only make me suffocate.  There is no life when there is no exchange.  We rely on others to reflect, to connect.  It was a huge lesson last night.  I get to live in a way that doesn’t cripple my sons.  I get to live in a way that doesn’t leave them searching to heal the scars I’ve created.  I get to be the mom I want them to have and I get to ask them the questions and offer the answers that I wouldn’t have before because I get to let them in.  I get to let people in.

When, when the fire’s at my feet again, And the vultures all start circling, They’re whispering, “You’re out of time,” But still I rise.

A Night Meant to Happen

I’m often amazed at the way things fall into place.  Part of that is a willingness to look for serendipity.  Last night I was invited to an event with GenArt at Skybar at the Mondrian Hotel. I love what GenArt does.  They live out the active study of humanities by incubating emerging talent in film, art, music and fashion until they are ready to be launched and are able to fly on their own.  I love what they do.

On my way to the hotel, I was struck by the beauty of the setting sun and the many shades painted in the clouds. I ended up in a turn lane and on Mulholland Drive instead of staying on Laurel Canyon.  The timing of what I saw and the spot I was able to pull into left me in perfect position for a breathtaking  view of the sunset.  There’s something about the ability of clouds to hold so much magic.

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It was a long day and at the end of it, I needed a nudge from a couple of friends to go to the event.  I wanted to go because I wanted to show up for my friend and steal a hug from her.  I wanted to enjoy grown up moments.  I wanted to enjoy the screening and be surrounded in the magic of the Hollywood I wanted to be part of in my early 20’s but don’t have the stamina for now.I wanted to shmooze with the fun crowd, although I never bothered to  fake a persona, as I’m more comfortable as myself.  I felt guilt about postponing my reunion with my boys who were back from 5 days with their Dad.  My niece was with them as she gets them after school, but I was asking for a few hours longer, and feeling guilt about it.

In the end, I did what I wanted to do, which was sit poolside. I accepted that the nudge I sought from friends wasn’t permission or an opinion I was asking for as much as I needed them to soothe my guilt over the moment I wanted and felt selfish about.  I remembered that guilt is manufactured by me and a choice.  I knew my kids wouldn’t care if I was home as long as they had quiet and food and for a few hours I could enjoy myself and come home energized.  I did.

At the event, I had the honor of meeting David who embodied everything a great mentsch should.  He was decent, authentic and straight up.  We talked for a couple of hours and there were waves of clarity from the perspective he helped me shift.  Our conversation started with how I know the owners of GenArt.  I told him about the MITT Basic class I took and how moved I was at my friend’s steadfast belief in me.  She believed in me so much that she enrolled a friend of hers into the idea of putting down my deposit for the course.  She had no idea if I would go or pay her back, but she believed in me and it was a huge gift to me.  I get to take the Advanced class next week, and while I haven’t met my goal, I’m believing it will all work out because things always do. David pointed out that showing up is catalyst enough.  He told me to show up and give of myself, but that even givers must be discriminating.  I need to know that I’m worthy, and give to those I find worthy.  He asked why I wouldn’t assume others would want to help me.  He asked me to not base my expectations on what happened in my marriage.  We spoke openly about life.

David sipped his bourbon as I sipped a club soda with lime, and he looked me in the face and asked if I was prepared for his honesty.  I was.  I didn’t even have to check my inner voice because in that moment I felt self love that was profound.  I felt his kindness reaching out to me in a way that was gentle and giving.  He gave me a word: Worthy.  He told me I needed to make it a mantra until I no longer need to remind myself that I am worthy.

He gave me a story about an unlicked cub.  A mother would have only so much energy for licking her many cubs that there is one that would get neglected.  I was in some ways an unlicked cub and I need to internalize that I am worthy.  Even if that is something I might have a hard time seeing.

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As we continued talking I gave him a word that had been given to me by a really incredible woman.  Several months ago we were talking about my first crush since my ex and the looks we exchanged. I gave him a look of hunger when I didn’t mean to.  He looked at me like ice cream on a cheat day.  Yet, there was distance and space that would never be breached. She told me he needed to work out his mishegas.  Of course, my second crush would follow the same patterns of wanting more, but not enough to want more and the same crazy back and forth happened until it didn’t.  What struck me last night was that I missed the other part of what she told me.  We attract what we are or who needs what we have.  She pointed out that my giving nature would provide me with someone who needs me to take care of them and that I had enough on my plate.  What she was too kind to mention was that the mishegas I was seeing in him was a reflection of my own. Last night I realized that through my marriage and now as a woman who is not divorced and yet single, I am in my own state of mishegas.

For so long as a wife, I did what my version of someone else’s expectations of me were.  I failed their expectations and mine.  Now I kinda do what feels right and I have a happier home because of it.  But there’s the whole dating thing.  Legally I’m still married.  In every other sense I’m single.  I really like being single too.  I do so much that I enjoy and I’ve had enough bad dates recently to feel like I want to know my day won’t be wasted with bad company.  If I do find myself entertaining the idea of a relationship, it’s never with the natural progression of cohabitation. I don’t want something that looks like living together and meeting families. David gave me sound advice, and I’m figuring out what it means to me.  He said the longest distance for a man to travel is the lean in to kiss a woman, and it doesn’t take much to convince him not to lean in.  I’ve known my confidence can be intimidating, but hearing it in such a fatherly way really gave me enough pause to consider my more predatory moments.

As we talked I realized I was getting comfortable.  I’ve heard so many dreamers imagine being rich, but their life looks like it does every single day.  For a while, every ounce of thought and energy went into plans and goals, and I’ve gotten comfortable with doing a job I love to the point that I wasn’t really looking at it to see if it’s the right place for me in the long term.  I stopped dreaming and for a while I was just setting moderate goals.  As we talked about my career, he asked me to think of what I could do that would allow me to give, but also to give in a way that the people I give to would be able to give further.  That was a profound moment for me.  It’s not enough to hand granola bars to homeless people camped out by freeways.  I need to give in such a way that those receiving would be able to make my gift grow.

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There was so much that we talked about and so much of himself that he shared with me.  The night of being in the moment was a gift.  I didn’t worry about my kids (they were taken care of by my niece).  I didn’t worry about work.  As much as I love it, I’m not essential to my position and I don’t need to prioritize it when I’m off.  That thought could be terrifying, but I take it as freedom. My love life was just as stunted and stalled before the night as after it.  As I left, I had a hard time remembering much of what was said, but the feeling he left me with was profound and resonated in hollow parts I didn’t know were emptied.  I got home to a loving message from a friend based on a silly Instagram video I took on my lunch.  I went to bed not only content but happy.

Hollywoodland Kindness

The plan for today was to explore the Secret Stairs in Hollywood.  I had the PDF with instructions printed out and with me.  I grabbed two small water bottles after inhaling a banana on my way out the door.  I somehow ended up at Bronson Caves and was excited to head up to the Hollywood Sign from Camp Hollywoodland instead. This last minute change of heart is very typical of me and I always go with it.  It usually ends up in an amazing transformative lesson happening.  Or a really pretty view.  I think I got both today.

At the car, I didn’t really plan to go all the way up to the sign.  It looked daunting the first time I heard about the trail when I was exploring Bronson Caves with a friend.  She made it seem entirely easy and doable because she’s done it with a 3 year old on her back.  She’s pretty amazing.  I should remind you, I’m not into exercise.  I like pretty things and will do the crazy and sometimes the stupid to see it.  After my trip to Sunken City in San Pedro and hiking to the water below it, a friend joked with me about seeing me on the news because I was one of those people willing to do stupid things because I wanted to see what it looked like.  He teased me in love.  There will always be love in this friendship.

As I was hiking up and ready to quit the first time, there was a family coming down, with children and a stroller.  They made it to the halfway point pushing a stroller and told me to at least shoot for that.  I made it my goal and it was easy.  By this point, I was almost done with my first bottle of water and I had left the second bottle in the car.  I sat on a bench.  The only bench on the hike, and caught my breath.  As I sat and thought about turning back, there were a couple of young women with their dog.  I let my pride get to me.  If a little dog could do it, why couldn’t I, right?  I mean, I’ve driven down Sunset strip and I’ve seen enough of these little yappy things being carried in purses.  Why shouldn’t I keep going if this little pooch had it in her?  The girls encouraged me.  They pointed out the last real incline and that the rest was relatively flat.  I was doing okay, aside from the heat.  I had just hiked Runyon Canyon the day before with far less water than I had today.  I was energized and had a great experience by the end.  I didn’t consider the fact that I left a few hours later today, or that it was considerably hotter. And a bit further.  I just thought, if a dog can do it, and I feel good, why can’t I?  Honestly, I held onto my empty bottle of water until I turned back because I hoped there was a fountain on the way somewhere. There wasn’t.  I was getting closer to the water tower and that’s when the lethargy started to set in.

As a mom, I’m used to pushing through exhaustion.  I’m used to going and going until I actually can stop and take a breather.  I was pushing myself.  When I got to the residential area before that last leg of the hike that takes you above the sign, I realized I could probably drive through the residential area and hike above the sign another time.  It was time to head back.  I sat and rested until I was cool and my heart wasn’t racing.  I threw away my empty bottle and I started back.

As I was walking, only determination kept my pace up.  I was determined to get back to my car and that one bottle of water.  The thirst in my throat wasn’t burning.  You read about vampires and burning throats, but I think that’s just authors in need of heartburn relief.  There was a dry itch at the back of my throat.  My mouth felt hot and dry.  I’m usually fairly modest, but I became one of those women hiking in her yoga pants and sports bra today.  I never imagined the day I would hike without a shirt again.  The last time was 7 kids ago.  I was so hot I didn’t care how visible my tattoo was. No one else cared either.  I started planning each rest stop as the next shady spot or rock ahead of me. I would rest until my heart stopped racing and my body cooled down.

As I walked, and stopped, I would pay attention to what I felt.  I would sit on a rock and lean forward and feel light headed.  As I walked, my hands started swelling to the point where I had to put my class ring on smaller fingers.  I had a hard time getting it off, and it’s normally fairly loose.  (Dehydration was on the verge of getting scary.)

At one of my resting stops, three women asked me how to get to the Hollywood sign.  I started explaining and had to pause for a moment because words were hard to get out.  I excused myself and explained that I was in the mood to see something pretty but I really don’t exercise and I didn’t plan my water needs very well.  I was offered some water and empathy.  They got directions.  A swallowed mouthful later and I kept going.

At another resting stop, I saw a man running back down.  He ran past me on his way up and he was running past me again.  He stopped and asked if I was okay.  I must have looked terrible to break his stride, or he was just really a great guy.  I told him I was already more than half way down, but taking it slow.  He asked about my water.  I admitted I was a little dehydrated.  He offered his hydration pack, and I wasn’t too proud to accept.  He apologized about the weird taste because he adds electrolytes but I wasn’t in a complaining mood.  I was so grateful.  Immediately, I could feel a difference.  He walked with me a bit and asked if I wanted him to stay with me all the way down.  I insisted he keep going on his run, but I regret not getting his name.  He gave me one of his electrolyte powder packs and all I gave him was my gratitude.

I was almost at the bottom of the trail and remembered how excited I was at this point on the way up.  I saw a group coming and I didn’t notice their backpacks.  I told them I hoped that they had more water than what was visible.  They said they did and I told them to have a great day, realizing I was mothering strangers.  One of the girls in the group ran back to me and handed me a bottle of water.  I was so thankful.  I got to my car and had the second bottle after adding some electrolyte powder to it.  Then I drove to Gelson’s for coconut water and more water.

There was a lesson in my day.

I’m fairly used to being on my own.  Last night I was at a launch for a friend’s company at Club Couture in Hollywood.  It was a red carpet event and I showed up alone.  I invited people, but didn’t have any takers.  I was still comfortable going to the event without an escort.  I danced alone, and was asked to dance.  (A yes to a dance request does not mean I will be okay with you touching my butt, and no matter how beautiful you are, if you are with a date, don’t waste your time on me because I don’t share.)   Today was about learning that there is a community in human existence for a reason.

The kindness of strangers kept me going when I wanted to quit, and kept me hydrated.  It could have been bad.  It didn’t escape me that there were rescue helicopters flying around, watching all of us for the silly folks like myself that didn’t plan appropriately.

There is a reason there are buddy systems in hiking, and swimming and schools.  Buddies are amazing gifts. The short time I walked with the man that stopped his run for me felt better.  There is so much in the encouragement and companionship of someone else.

Research is brilliant.  I’m committed to preparing for hikes I’ve done before, and researching for new places I want to explore. I should have connected with that friend that has done the hike.  I should have checked out a map, and seen I could have made a short cut by driving through the residential neighborhood.  (I don’t hike for exercise.  It’s about seeing pretty things.) Going on a hike and making a really long detour yesterday was not brilliant.  Going on a hike I wasn’t prepared for today could have been dangerous.

Planning is not overrated.  Even though my plans shifted, it would have been a great idea to shift with those plans, and make sure I had the provisions I needed.  My next hiking trip will include a backpack for water and coconut water. I may look for that electrolyte powder because it felt good.  It will include insect repellent.  I have bites. They suck.  And sunblock that was already in my car should have made it to my face and arms.  I am not red, and I won’t peel, but my skin is hot to the touch and I’m sure my makeup is now too light for my skin tone and that is quite a bit of foundation and concealer to replace and not wear. It was nice to hike really close to Gelson’s.  Once I got to the parking lot I dozed off in my parked but running car, sleeping off my exhaustion in air conditioning.

I really could have made it to the top if I had been more gentle on myself.  If my body wasn’t trying to shut down on me, I could have made it.  I have sore muscles now and a slower walk.  I also have a new appreciation for walking through air conditioned museums with restaurants and available drinks everywhere.

My thought Saturday was I can do this without company and Sunday I learned how essential company can be.  And strangers are incredibly kind.

 

How I Show Up in Romantic Relationships

I’ve had 3 conversations in the last few days that have really forced me to look at my romantic history.  The conversation last night was with a really great guy. He’s handsome and sweet.  He’s known me since my teens and he’s constantly calling me out to expect greater than I do.  He says, “How are you love?” and “Raise the bar, ma.” Decades ago I was the confident flirt.  If this expression of him were to meet me then, I’d be in trouble because he is dangerously hot and his emotional intelligence of women is off the charts. He’s capable of making someone very happy, but he would be settling.  He was shy and quiet when we were young.  I may have enjoyed him for that on more than one occasion.

We talked about what we want in romance.  I’m not polyamorous but we talked about it.  It’s about wanting a mental, emotional and physical connection with several people.  That would never work for me because I thrive in monogamous relationships. I like the idea that I’m on someone else’s mind as much as he’s on mine. I want to know that random things remind him of me and that he’s on the street and something about the person in front of him makes him think of me.  I guarantee that happens for me when he’s special.  When he’s special, I don’t have a poker face and I can’t hide it.  It’s written all over my face and it’s in my body language. When he’s special, I feel like who I am is bending around him into ways that make him a part of me. And yes, that scares me. I’m the type that gets a rush in doing the brave thing in spite of fear.  I would go with it.  I can press in without worrying about the future because there is amazing joy in the present.  But it scares me.

Yesterday I had a brief conversation about where I am in my dating life right now. I’m not seeing anyone and enjoying the many ways I get to date myself. I buy myself lingerie and flowers. I take myself to nice restaurants and museums. I catch beach sunsets and take long walks through beautiful parks. My dating history looks nothing like what I do for myself and if someone wants my attention, I have to first believe I’d have a better time with him than alone because my alone time is special to me. There aren’t many people I would give up my free time for. There’s an even smaller number of people I’d be willing to drive to and meet on their side of town. And if he wants to meet my boys, he’d have to be able to offer them more than my happiness. He has to be curious and intelligent and beautiful. . . So I date myself and my sex life is only in my dreams but that’s okay too.

My reality is that I was sexualized at a young age. I had men make me uncomfortable with their desire before I even needed a training bra. By the time I was the same age as my first born, I was having regular sex with a boyfriend. Through high school I had a few relationships that lasted over  a year and a half and my in between times were about learning to flirt comfortably.  I may have a problem with shutting that off.  It’s not on purpose.  Early college days meant many fleeting hookups.  Then I met the man I married. I had never had an innocent relationship that was just about making out.  There were innocent enough hookups but innocent relationships skipped me entirely.  My sexual history tells me the best encounters are the ones in meaningful relationships.  My last relationship isn’t one I would want my children to model.  So I’m cautious.  I’m a chicken shit.  I’m happy in my celibacy.

When I was younger, I would find someone that was full of amazing and I would very easily look over their terrible qualities.  I was having a conversation with a co-worker and naming out things that were part of my marriage that I now see were not normal, but her reaction told me how far from acceptable it all was.  It’s not okay to be jealous of platonic friendships to the point where I’d end them.  It’s not okay to feel responsible for how others see the man I’m dating when his actions will speak for him.  It’s not okay to feel bad about wanting to learn more and do better in life because of how that might reflect on someone else’s ambition. I don’t know how to be in a relationship that doesn’t walk all over me.  But I’m learning.

I had many relationships where it was very clearly just sexual on his part.  He would let me know in direct and subtle ways that I wasn’t the person he was pouring his soul into.  I would accept what he offered and hoped that I would grow on him. Like a fungus.  I was very big on settling for what I was being given. I was always in this perpetual state of hope that my love could flow through him and back to me, even if he consistently proved to me that it was just sex.

I’m learning.  It’s changing.

I look at my history.  Today would have been an anniversary for my parents.  They’ve been divorced since I was still in high school and I have a high schooler now.  I saw their dysfunction and persistence as normal.  Mom yelled.  Dad ignored.  When my ex said he was leaving, I became them.  I was my Dad that first night in packing and separating our stuff at 3 am.  I was my Mom in saying, “go.” I didn’t need him.  Then I was me, in my crazy need to hold on and fix it because I saw my mom hold on and try to fix it for so long.  It was all I knew.  They had rare moments of affection that skeeved me out, but I was too young to remember if they were ever madly in love with each other.  As an adult, I can see the ways they still love and care for each other, even if they still refuse to talk to each other.

As Mom, I see my kids in their good and their bad.  I see more than anyone else, and I consistently choose to love them deeply, even if there are moments I don’t like what they are doing.  I tell them they are consistent in who they are.  It’s my ability to be patient that fluctuates and it’s my fault if one day I lose my shit. This blog post was born from my need to step away and calm myself. As a mom and a daughter, love means I accept you as you are, without a need to change you because that would rob me of the gift of knowing you in your purest form and warmest light.  I want love to be about accepting the dark and the light and basking in all of the ways it feels to.

My latest goal is to love unconditionally.  Offering love isn’t the same as being in love.  There’s a difference.  I know it.  Lust and infatuation are very different from being in love and I’m aware of it too.  I’m a hugger.  I don’t offer a hug unless I know I can hug the way that feels good.  If it’s an arm or a side hug, I’d rather not bother.  If I feel I can hug you, I can offer transparency (in doses).  I can offer affection and build a person up with the amazing I see in them.  I’m going to let a person know when I randomly think of them because this is expressing love. When I get to the point that I know I would offer more than I have to give, that is a transition into being in love and that is where I step back.  I run away when it feels like my moods are dictated by how they make me feel.  That is what being in love feels like to me.  Otherwise I’m offering love without expecting a return. It feels good and in the offering I’m being selfish by not expecting an exchange or allowing myself to rely on them.

Control Freaking

In the Basic class I took through MITT, the lecturer, Jorge gave us an example that I’ve been leaving all over town. I’ve probably left it here already, but I’m okay with that. I’ve added my own embellishments, because that’s what I do.

When you really have to poop, you have to poop.  If it’s a case of raging diarrhea, beware of white walls that beg for poopy painting.  When babies wear swim diapers, you can see it as a dark poopy cloud in the blue of a chlorinated pool.  When you’re constipated, you can sit and wait, and strain . . . You can get up and walk and try to relax . . . If you can’t go, you just can’t go.  You feel uncomfortable and your normal flow is halted.  You literally can’t control the shit that is in your body, so why try to control anything else?  All we can control is our reaction and our interpretation.

There’s a story that isn’t mine to share but the end result is my kids needed me to come get them a day early.  They need me to keep them for more than my usual custody days.  They need me to be the Mom they deserve because this situation has required me to spend more time with the women that my ex surrounds himself with than I would like, and they are being the guard dogs he seems to need around me.  I’m just that vicious.  Grrr.  Well, he keeps calling me a bitch but he has no clue that I could be far worse than I have been, but being kind is something I do for my boys and something he couldn’t possibly understand.

In their effort to avoid a fight (that I wasn’t in the mood for anyway), they have put plans in place to keep me from my ex (that I really don’t want to see).  At the end of the day, you really can’t take away the rights of a wife and rightful next of kin.  There are perks to the stubbornness that hasn’t started a divorce or legal separation.  I can exert my authority where the other woman can’t.

I’m not talking about pulling a plug on anyone.  It’s not that kind of a situation.  At the same time, if I want to go to visit or get basic information, I have yet to be denied.  I don’t need to know details other than how it will affect my boys.  Is it serious? Not fatal.  Is it going to put him out of commission for a while? Yup.

I had serious control freak issues for a while.  I still do, but I’ve relaxed. I remember a few years back I was doing IVF and preparing for an embryo transfer.  I was really big on sorting recyclables at home.  I had two separate trash cans and would recycle cardboard, and plastic.  I would neatly fold used aluminum foil and recycle that too.  I was keeping a productive herb and vegetable garden.  And I was doing IVF.  Generally after a transfer, you are supposed to take it easy and let those embryos stick to calm, relaxed uterine walls.  I was preparing for a couple of days, but that got extended when I had some spotting.  For days I stayed in bed and my couple hired help so I could stay in bed and not worry about my kids.  My help didn’t know about my crazy recycling or how much my garden meant.  The moment I was off bedrest, I was trying to revive plants, and digging through the big city trash bins to sort it all.  I was a mess.  It was about control.

I love tackle boxes.  I keep one for my jewelry making supplies and tools.  I used to keep one for my jewelry too, but then I never wore different things.  They’re out so I can see and choose now.   I keep a tackle box for my sewing kit.  Right now it’s a bit messy.  Normally the threads are all organized and wound tightly.  I brush out lint and dust.  I keep all compartments full of extra supplies.  It’s about control.

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My garden is mainly dirt and a collection of rocks I pick up because I always find a rock that needs to fit in my pocket or go home with me in the trunk or front seat.  Right now I’m never home and we’re in the middle of a gnarly drought. Once upon a time, I was growing fresh thyme (I need a new plant, it died), chives, flat leaf parsley, sage, rosemary, oregano, mint and basil.  I had a bed I loved and mulched with crushed cocoa nibs. I would walk barefoot in it and each step smelled like chocolate.  I grew zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, spinach, lettuces, bell peppers, and peas.  I loved that I could plant something and my kids usually wouldn’t pull it up.  They even ate vegetables they helped me harvest. I did have to stop a sword fight that attacked a new fig tree.  It wasn’t like housework.  Just today I got home to the drying sticky mess that was a soda earlier today on a floor I stayed up last night to clean.  I couldn’t control the natural disasters that looked like my sons and sometimes felt like sensory integration dysfunction to them. Gardening was about control.

As a daughter, my parents always told me what to do, but now it’s a constant expectation of what I should do.  They are starting to nudge and give distance.  They are starting to see me as an adult and they understand my rebellious streak. I have to remind myself that they can’t give me guilt.  That can only come from within me, and if I feel guilt, I need to examine what I’m doing and why I’m doing it, because I refuse to live in shame for my choices.

As a sister, I still get told what to do.  “Don’t post where you’re going all the time on Facebook . . . Stop going out alone to the beach.” I really don’t think anyone cares about what I’m up to.  Otherwise they’d say something and I’d probably include them in my shenanigans.  I sometimes catch the surprise on my sister’s faces when they realize I am actually an adult and capable of making grown up decisions and observations.  I will always be the baby to my older three sisters and they will always want what’s best for me. They’ll always have a hard time seeing that it might look like what I do, rather than what they think I should do and that will have to be okay.

As a wife, I was told what to do but it often came with the weight of the ideal he held for me.  He knew what kind of wife he wanted me to be and even if I wasn’t her, I wanted to be her for him.  In the end, there was always a rub that left me raw, and I often did what I wanted to do and accepted he wouldn’t be happy with it.  It’s how I got my degree, and built up my Kindle library.  It’s how we got all of the camping supplies he now has.  I did what I wanted and hid my actions or faced the music after the fact. How sad is it that I lived  a life where I knew what I was doing was wrong or would upset him and the only balance was to do what I wanted and know it wouldn’t be okay to do what I wanted to do? I really am grateful to the life I get to live without him.  Our struggles weren’t about money or housework, as much as he wanted to believe that.  It was about control.  We fought for it without actually fighting.

My obsessive observations of beautiful men . . . In my writing . . .  On the street . . . In social media feeds . . . It’s all about control.  It’s more than aggression in objectifying someone or calling out to him in a way that would offend me if roles were reversed.  It’s about noting intricate details to avoid dealing with the real issue bothering me.  It’s about control.  There really is no mystery to my extreme boy craziness, and unwillingness to step into more than a glance or smile.  I’m not dating anyone because then I would feel obligated to stop getting lost in a beautiful body and genuine smiles.  I’m more into silly nothings that stay nothing. I prefer the chase of a crush. If it’s more I have to address my fear of abandonment and you can’t abandon me if it’s not serious.  You can’t dump me if we were never together.

I’ve become a rebellious teenager.  I see it in everyday moments and taking notice doesn’t always mean I want to change it.  It’s been a balance I’ve been trying to strike, and I don’t mind moments where I’m behaving badly. It’s between taking control of my life, and letting go of what I can’t control.

Sharing my latest anguish and frustration with strangers and keeping those details to myself when it comes to people I have made an emotional connection with . . . It’s a way of distancing my intimacy from those I have already made a connection with and asserting control in the details that I can’t control. I see intimacy as a moment where there is transparency and I’ve invited you to see into me, as I see into you.  I can step into it.  I can dance in it.  If it goes deeper than I’m ready for, the fear claws at me and I back pedal and try to avoid the risk that seems to pile up and around me until I’m unable to move forward.  I’m still broken in many ways, and this is one of them. This weekend had great highs, and extreme lows and I’m still finding myself trying to stay afloat in it all but the details weren’t offered to all of the people I really do care about and have connected with. At the same time, all it takes is an empathetic smile from a stranger and I’ve spilled it out in a cascade like falling marbles.  Rolling and spreading outward and impossible to control.

In my life, I am responsible for my choices as well as the consequences of those choices.  It’s about taking ownership of the things that make me smile and the things that break my heart.  I have a huge heart. That means it breaks beautifully and terribly almost daily.  I refuse to hold back and control my outpouring of love. I’ve done it for long enough.  I choose to live in abundant unconditional love.  I love freely and without expectation.  I give and if I feel my heart breaking or offense setting in, I remind myself I attached a cost to what I offered and love isn’t something you barter unless you’re into prostitution.  There’s control in not expecting anything.  In not expecting a return, I’m not allowing you to be someone I can rely on.  I’m not allowing you to offer anything that you could potentially take away.

It’s about letting go of what I can’t control and holding on tightly to the way I look at things and my reactions to them.  Saying goodbye when I don’t want to . . . Not having a voice in who spends time with my kids when I don’t have custody . . . Being the person that others want to fight with and putting my pride aside so I can be the mom I want my boys to have, and not the person I feel like being. Accepting that my plans will change and then deciding what about the change I want to be excited about.  For example, I planned to stroll through a museum Saturday and instead got to sit with my sister and take her home from a surprise hospital visit.  I got to check out the Self-Realization Center in Hollywood and I got to do it while being the sister I want to be.  Sunday I planned to catch a beach sunset and spend some time listening to street performers.  Instead I got to pick my kids up a day early. I got to take the control I wanted by using the title I’ve held for 16 years.

In moments where I completely give up control, I have moments of clarity and grace.  These are times when I’m able to catch a corner of the big picture.  Giving up control is work.  It’s difficult.  It’s rewarding.  It’s what you do when you want to grow because it pushes you past what you are used to and that’s the only way to grow.