Category Archives: aging

Letting Go of Old Resentments in Favor of Love:

God, it’s been so long since I have sat here and tried to write anything, that I almost don’t know where to start. I got stuck on the “Title” space for such a long time that I decided to just write first, and see if something came to me. In case you are curious, I will tell you that over the past two months, while I haven’t been writing, I have been doing a lot of work on myself. Trust me, there was plenty of stuff to work on, and plenty left to do…I’m not one to just leave myself be. Oh, if only I could. But that will never be me. Anyway, I thought about writing a lot, but I just didn’t have anything I wanted to say, here…then, the past few days, the urge started coming over me again. If you write, you know what I mean- little ideas start tickling the back of your mind. Nothing too pressing. Then, this morning came, and I knew it was time.

resentment

This morning, a friend of mine lost her father. He was in hospice, and so it wasn’t unexpected, but…she fell asleep beside him, holding his hand, and when she woke up, he was gone. She is devastated. Last week, a friend that I work with lost her mother. Like my other friend, she was there with her, right to the very end. We talked for a long time about it, and I told her that when I found out her mom had passed, I tried to imagine what it would be like to wake up in a world where my mother no longer resided- I really did this, at home, alone, trying to put myself in my friends place. Because, you know, I have never done that. No matter what kind of relationship I have with my mom- and it goes through phases- I have always had the assurance that she was there. I have taken that for granted every single day of my entire life. Imagine what it would feel like for that not to be true. Of course, if you have already lost one, or both, of your parents, you already know…but for the rest of us, it bears thinking about.

Now, think for a second about the resentments, big or small, that you carry around. Are they worth the price they will cost you if they are holding you back from fully loving someone that gave you life? This is a question I asked myself, and it may be worth asking yourself, as well. I am not saying that just because someone is your parent, anything they have done should be forgiven- I know there are horror stories of abandonment and abuse, and I am not talking about that. I am talking about things…well, I guess I am talking about the things that I have carried around, that hold ME back. I suppose what I am saying is that I have chosen not to love as fully as I could, maybe not consciously, because of my own resentments…things that belong in the past, to people who don’t really even exist anymore.

We grow up- children are not the only ones who grow up, who change. I certainly have, and I know my parents have, too. I want to love them with my WHOLE heart, and that is what I hope to do. Because they are still here, and I am a lucky daughter, indeed. I look at how strained my relationship is with my mom and dad at certain times (whether they know it or not) and I hope more than anything that my kids don’t ever have that kind of resentment or any of those kinds of feelings about me. But, boy, I have sure given them plenty of good material to use.

Here’s the thing- my parents are human beings, and human beings mess up. I know they had the best of intentions, like every one of us do, and they did stuff they regret anyway. I know this to be true, not just because I lived through it but because they’ve told me. With their own mouths, they have said to me:  “I wish I would have done things differently”. My mom has beat herself up for years over things she cannot change, decisions she made, that, at the time were the VERY BEST she could make from the options she had. And you know what? We are okay, anyway. My brother and I love her, we go to her with all of our stuff…but in my heart, I know I have held myself back. She can’t go back in time and change anything, anymore than I can go back and give my daughter a happy childhood with a mother who was not on drugs, not abrasive and full of rage. I can never, ever do that. But I hope she forgives me. I need forgiveness, too.

Today, I am letting go of that shit- those old resentments I have carried for far too long. I am going to love my parents fully, both of them, because they deserve it. They have loved and forgiven me for a lot of stuff- it’s time, for all of our sakes, that I leave the past in the past. I am so glad my mom and dad are still here, that I can pick up the phone and call them just to say “I love you.” And maybe this blog didn’t make a lot of sense to you, but my heart sure needed to puzzle this out. Thanks for reading- hope to see you again here, soon.

 

 

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Thoughts on my former ass, and other things that no longer exist.

my former ass

Once upon a time, I was young. I was so young that I couldn’t even imagine what it would be like to be thirty, or have stretch marks, or empathy for other human beings. I was so young, I never had weird hairs growing out of my neck or my nipples, but if I had, my sharp young eagle eyes would have caught them before they were long enough to grab with my finger nails.

I miss being that young, sometimes, and not just because of the weird hairs or the funky pair of lines between my eyebrows that make me look angry even when I am not…I miss it because I miss the ignorant, self centered, shallow bliss of being the girl I was.

That girl didn’t even care how stupid she probably looked, always half crocked on something, running around, making a spectacle of herself. She didn’t even know she was an idiot. She thought she was cute all the time. That girl didn’t care about the taxes coming out of her paycheck,  or how stupid all the candidates running for president were. She didn’t get into long, useless, political arguments with her friends on Facebook. There was no Facebook. And it was good.

Even if I didn’t have a parenthood and job induced curfew, I would probably still go to bed before nine. Nothing exciting happens after nine- if my phone rings that late at night, I wonder a) who is drunk, and b) who died. That is what goes through my head when my phone rings after I am in bed. The twenty five year old me didn’t bother going out until after nine- NO ONE was out that early.

The young me didn’t worry about how I looked naked. I wanted people to see me naked. I looked that good. Now? I don’t even like to sneak up on myself naked. I wish I was kidding.

Eh, but who am I kidding? That girl was cute and all, but she was a bona fide mess. And most of the people I let see me naked didn’t even deserve to. Although, I’m glad there are references I can provide who can verify how awesome my ass used to be. Because I was trying to tell my trainer about it last night, and I could tell he didn’t believe me. If any of you have a picture of my former ass, can you send it to me? I need to show him.

Anyway, that is what I am thinking about right now. Aren’t you glad I shared it with you?

 

The Other 20!

Life-is-pure-adventure

Good morning! I am back with the other twenty things I feel compelled to accomplish while the age of 40. It occurs to me that this would have been an easier task had I started at 20 rather than 40, but then I may not have as many things to put on my list, right? As it stands, the ideas are coming at me so fast now that twenty more seems rather paltry. However, I have to keep in mind that most of the things on my list are going to take time and planning- marking them all off my list is going to take a lot of (fun) work!

I’m just going to jump right in! Here goes:

21) go on a camping trip that doesn’t totally suck. We’ll see if this is even possible.

22) learn how to make a quilt

23) leave the state of California at least twice, preferably in a different direction each time.

24) ride a ferry to an island

25) attend a live sporting event.

26) really fine tune my meditation practice

27) treat my body as kindly as it has treated me all these years.

28) never go to a public place in private clothes (ie, pajamas), not even once (this one is for Holly Nutt. LOL)

29) Go to Gilroy Gardens ( writing Holly’s name made me think of this one)

30) Do the Halloween tour at the Big Sur Lighthouse!

31) Visit no less than five museums

32) Write every single day for no less than 30 minutes.

33) Make a solid effort to connect more with my family, the ones who DON’T live with me.

34) Practice kindness, empathy, and non-judgement every single day.

35) Plant a garden in my huge, awesome, back yard.

36) Do my very best to make my home feel inviting and look good

37) Get rid of the clothes that do not fit me.

38) Have at least one party- this is a total phobia of mine, and it is HIGH TIME I get over it

39) Buy, and learn to use, a barbecue. You are 40, for the love of God.

40.) Say yes as often as I can- I am not getting any younger!

Oh my gosh, I am just so excited about the direction my life is going. I will definitely be keeping you all posted on where I am at with my list. Wish me luck. The clock is ticking!

Have a beautiful, wonderful, exciting, lovely day. 🙂

40 Things for 40 Years

Jack-Kerouac-Life-Vast

Before I go even one step further, I must give credit where credit is due- this idea was actually shared with me by my good friend Jennifer Paddack-Hyde, whom I hope is not angry with me for missing her birthday party (sorry, Jen.) She has been doing this for a while, I guess, and it somehow involves scrapbooking. I am not going to be doing the scrapbook thing, but I am a big believer in writing down specific goals as a way to actually get to them. So, thank you Jen, for the great idea!

Today is the last day of my life that I will ever be thirty anything, the close of a crazy, but definitely worthwhile, decade. I have a lot of respect for what happens during ones thirties- it is a beautiful time for most women. You girls getting close to thirty, starting to panic- don’t! The thirties are like the twenties, refined. All of that leftover teen angst and self-consciousness leaves you, and all of the beauty, most of the metabolism, stays. Do not fear your thirties. They are good. It is with deep love that I bid my thirties farewell. They were good years.

Now, looking ahead, Just at the brink of this next decade, I can tell you one thing for sure- this is not at all what I thought forty would look like. I am more excited than ever about my life, and best of all, that excitement has some experience and knowledge behind it. If my thirties were the time of gaining faith and confidence in myself, the time to learn who I really am and how I operate, I think my forties will be the time of putting all of that knowledge into action. What I feel is true is that there are no limits. That anything is possible. That this is the good part. And let me tell you, this girl is ready to jump in.

So, I have decided to make a list- Forty things I will do while I am forty. Some of them will be harder to achieve than others, but I have tried to stay reasonable. Also, I may only be able to come up with twenty today. I already have several rolling around in my head, but it is five o’clock in the morning. Give me a small break, okay? My intention, of course, is to document them for you here, so that, not only can you live vicariously through me (hahaha), but I can be accountable. Having said that, you all know how my intentions often work out. Shut up. I am doing the best I can. I just cannot seem to stop lying today, can I? Sigh. Okay, I do the best I can most of the time. Some of the time, I am just lazy. Without further ado, here they are:

1) Stop being so lazy ( will figure out later how to quantify and monitor this)

2) Get a real, awesome, professional makeover.

3) Have essay published in The Sun

4) Do a mud run

5) Meet Justin. I want to see him in real life (no one else needs to understand this, though a few of you might). He can totally wear clothes.

6) Get a literary agent

7) Attend a literary convention

8) Go to the glass beach in Ft. Bragg

9) Visit Alcatraz

10) Take dance lessons

11) Get my passport

12) Work all Twelve Steps to see if anything actually happens

13) Go to a swanky foodie thing

14) Submit a proposal for a non-fiction book idea. The worst thing they can say is no, right?

15)Try hypnotism.

16) Take a writing class for fun.

17) Take a jewelry making class for fun.

18) Hike Sobranes

19) Learn to surf

20) visit the hot springs in Sierraville. Love that place!

Okay, like I said, 40 is a lot to come up with in one sitting. Watch for part two! I have to clean my living room before my beautiful mommy comes over later. Oh yeah! Please, if you have any ideas that you think I might like, please feel free to let me know!

Have a great day!

40 Looming

40

I’m excited to turn 40.

Not something you hear a lot, I don’t think, at least not honestly…but I mean it. I mean, sure, it didn’t just happen. I was very upset a few weeks ago. Perhaps I will be again when the day comes (May the 8th, if you want to send me a card with money). But this morning? I had a vision of my future, and it looks so good.

For one thing, I am not really worried about what anyone else thinks about my life anymore. Do you know how fucking exciting that is? All of the energy I dumped into making my life appear the way I thought other people needed it to look- that is exhausting. I think, the day I decided to check myself back into treatment without a whole lot of conversation with anyone about what I was doing, or why, I kind of took my power back. I don’t need anyone to understand. I don’t really care what anyone thinks about the fact that I still struggle with addiction issues “at this age”. This is my story, my life, and it just is this way. I am handling it. If I need support, I know where to go for it, but I no longer need the approval of the masses to feel okay with where I am.

And as much as I can be okay with however anyone feels about anything I do, the best part is- it no longer has to affect the way I feel about who you are. Let me give you an example- there is someone I love a lot who absolutely disapproves of my inability to hold my shit together. They don’t always say it directly (although they do at times), but it is definitely out there, clear as a bell. In the past, this persons judgement and opinion of me would predetermine how I felt about them. But that is not true today. Today, I can love anyone completely separately from their opinion of me. This is incredibly liberating. I feel as though I have arrived somewhere I didn’t even know existed before.

Another thing? Forty does not feel old at all. Like, at twenty, forty seemed just hopeless, didn’t it? I thought it would be so different than it is! I feel pretty amazing, actually. My health is perfect (thank you, God), my wrinkles are minimal, my body, while a little, um…sturdier than it was at thirty, is still holding up just fine. At forty, you can be just as beautiful as ever, with not nearly the amount of effort you may imagine.

While we are talking about beauty, lets go a little deeper- Do you know what I think is beautiful? The way I have learned the value of family, and of my girl friends. I think it is beautiful that the idea of a fairy tale romance has faded, but the idea of being with a man that I can be great friends with, that I can laugh with, is front and center. It is beautiful, the things that have lost their power over me, and the things that have revealed themselves to be greatly important. I am so okay with this. It is beautiful to look at someone and see beyond the exterior- I am now at an age where I can look at someone older and see the person inside, and this changes a lot for me. Perhaps I was more shallow than I ever dreamed I was before, but whatever. I can’t change the past. I can, however, be excited about who I am becoming.

Someone who can laugh at herself. Someone who catches herself when she is behaving in a way that is not okay, and corrects it. A person who is interested in everything, most of all, what you have to say when you are talking to me. I am learning how to really listen. I am learning the true value of kindness, period. That the only thing that really matters, in the end, is love and compassion. Not my opinion about anything. Just love, just compassion.

When I look ahead, I see lots of nature. I want to spend more time outside, doing everything. I want to see new places, and I will. I see a woman who is embracing life, and all of her many, many blessings. Yeah…I think forty is going to be great.

Have a great day!

Look! A Quiz! Everyone Loves a Quiz!

sex joke

***Disclaimer**

I am making this quiz up as I go along. The scoring may be unreliable, as it is early, and I am bad with numbers. My college counselor said it was ludicrous that someone who scored as high as I did in every other subject could score so pitifully low in math, and that I had a mental block. I like this theory, as it gives me an excuse, and a long term one at that (I don’t know about you, but I know almost nothing about removing mental blocks), not to mention a fun little story that lets me brag about my intelligence without seeming to. Not anymore, though, I guess. Okay, back to the quiz: Please note- I am not an expert at anything, and therefore, this quiz is meaningless. Much like all the stupid ass quizzes that we all do on Facebook, only I am being up front about it. So, here goes:

How Much of a Grown Up Are You?

1)You are in line at the grocery store, scanning magazine covers out of sheer desperation. This is what you are thinking:

a) I have no fucking idea who ANY of these women are, not one of them…I don’t even know why they are famous. Are they actors, singers, what? Oh, wait…there’s Kim Kardashian…why IS she famous?

b) Oh my gosh! Look! There’s a search for America’s most Beautiful Baby in Parenting! I am buying the magazine, we are totally going to win! (switches to out-loud baby talk voice) “Cause mama’s got the prettiest baby in the world, don’t I ?”

c) You know what, I have FORGOTTEN more sexual positions than you have ever learned, Cosmo. Why don’t you publish an article that actually matters? Idiots.

d) Katy Perry has great tits. BIG tits.

e) Oh my gosh! Katy Perry is so mental, what is she doing with that creep Riff-Raff? who is that guy? Her boobs look awesome in that pic!

Okay, 2: Your friend calls you on Thursday to see if you are busy Friday, and if you want to go out. Your response:

a) “Go OUT?! What do you mean, Out? Out, like out in public?”

b) ” I’d love to, but I need WAY more advance notice, duh! I can’t just pull a sitter out of my ass.”

c) “No, that doesn’t even sound remotely appealing, just…no.”

d) “Yeah, that sounds cool…just call me when you head out and I’ll meet up with you wherever.”

e) “Duh! where are we going, downtown, or Cannery Row? Maybe both, even…”

3: While walking down the street, you trip, and royally eat shit. Your first thoughts:

a) Great. This is going to hurt for WEEKS.

b) How am I going to chase the baby around if my ankle is sprained?

c) I hope I didn’t break anything. That’s how it all starts…

d) Dude. That was classic.

e) How totally fucking embarrassing. i want to die.

:4 When you find yourself in financial trouble, you:

a) cut out the Starbucks and Itunes for a while. Maybe slim down your cable package.

b) Switch to store brand diapers and generic formula, and hope the baby doesn’t suffer developmental setbacks.

c) re-evaluate your budget, and transfer money from your savings into your checking account. without even patting yourself on the back.

d) call mom, ASAP.

e) Pay day loan, or creepy older guy with a crush? Mmmm…creepy older guy. Just easier.

5: All the mail you get:

a) sits in a giant, unopened, anxiety inducing pile on your kitchen table. It never stops coming

b) are hospital and OB/GYN bills, plus offers for kids books and movies.

c) Junk, statements, more junk, ads. I pay all my stuff online.

d) I don’t really get mail at this address…which reminds me, I need to fill out a change of address.

e) Ulta coupons, Glamour Magazine, Victoria’s Secret, Student Loan.

6:Other people would say you have a ton of clothes. However, you look in your closet and drawers and see:

a) nothing I can try on without ruining my entire day. Except pajamas and yoga pants. Which are basically pajamas.

b) Before baby clothes, pregnant clothes, after baby clothes. Which are basically pajamas and yoga pants.

c) I only have things that fit me, and are comfortable. which means pajamas and yoga pants. and one nice outfit, just in case.

d) dude, no one would say I have a lot of clothes. Or of anything, for that matter.

e) Yeah, I do have a ton of clothes. But everything is so freaking cute!

7: You have to go to a fancy thing out in public. You dress up for the occassion. This is how you feel:

a) I literally tried my very hardest, and achieved a barely attractive look. If I have to sit next to a twenty year old, I’m stabbing someone.

b) Oh my GOD, I look like a sausage in a casing! What happened to my cute body?

c) I cannot do more than thirty minutes in these shoes. It’s just not going to happen. This is torture.

d) Time to bust out the leather flip-flops!

e) oooooohhhh! I look so grown up right now! Selfie time!

8: When it comes to your body, you:

a) have not given up on looking awesome again yet

b) Have no doubt that you’ll be back to normal in a few more months

c) don’t even really notice it anymore, unless something hurts

d) huh?

e) wish you could run through life naked, because, GODAMMIT. Prime booty, over here.

9: Your idea of a good marriage would mean a partner who:

a) Could keep it in his pants, hold a decent job, not be a total idiot with issues, but maybe just a decent guy who loves you. As you are.

b) A good dad, who can change a diaper and overlook a stretch mark or two.

c) A partner who is dead. that would be ideal. Dead, and rich, with no heirs.

d) Marriage? EH. Not happening.

e) Hmm…he’d have to be hot, fun, rich, hung, super good in bed, sexy, make all my friends jealous, but think all my friends are ugly. And fat. And he wouldn’t make me sign a pre-nup. No way.

10: What are your feelings about the future?

a) Still a lot of good stuff ahead, but I’m not as optimistic as I used to be, which sucks.

b) I can’t wait to see my life, and baby, in the years ahead…but I want to stay right here forever, too.

c) I don’t really have any. A little bit of fear, I guess. Things are pretty level.

d) I am not really thinking that far ahead yet.

e) I will be young and hot and awesome FOREVER!!!!

Okay, so give yourself one point for every a, two for b, three for c, four for d, and five for e.

If you got:

Mostly one’s– you are me. somewhere around thirty eight, forty, forty two. Not ready to throw the towel in, but definitely not feeling twenty-anything anymore. Life is a little off kilter- like the tweens of middle age, you aren’t quite sure where you fit in.

Mostly two’s- you are in the special dimension called mommy land. no one but other mommy’s really wants anything to do with you. No one cares about your awesome new balm for cracked nipples, or how you massaged the gas right out of your infant. Just stay home until you can act right again.

mostly three’s- you are solidly in grown up world. The joy has been systematically removed from your soul, you are self sufficient, practical, and a total bummer. You need to get laid, and wax your mustache. It would be for the good of ALL people.

Mostly fours- you are a young dude.

mostly fives- you are a silly, shallow, annoying young lady. All of us one’s, two’s and three’s used to be some version of you. Now we hate you. We take comfort in the knowledge that you will eventually out run your metabolism, too, and then wonder if you ever really wore a size four, or if it was a story you made up. Please, try to take it down an octave or two, and for the love of God, start taking care of your skin NOW.

There! Well, that was ten minutes of your life you are never getting back. But hey, it was fun to write. And if you can figure out how to share it on Facebook, go right ahead. Have a fantastic day.

That Spark.

spark

I am going to ask you if you remember being young, to which you will reply, “Of course I do!”, and in your head, you will see a snapshot of yourself at seven, the one you hated when you were small because your mouth was closed funny (to hide your missing front teeth), but love now, because your hair was so pretty and your freckles were amazing. I don’t want you to think about that snapshot. When I ask you if you remember being young, I want you to be fifteen again, or sixteen, seventeen, even- whatever that age was when you were in the front seat of a friends car, an hour past curfew (but your parents think you are at her house, and her parents think she is at your house), on your way to a raging party, and your favorite song comes on, and you are singing, your heart is leaping, your hair is blowing around you like you’re in a video, and you feel FREE, finally, totally, irrevocably free! That moment when you realize that you are pretty much as good as gone, one foot out the door of the home you have always known, that foot almost twitching to bolt out into the vast unknown world.

Do you remember being young? That wonderful stretch of time when limits are removed, and choices need to be made…eventually. But nothing, absolutely nothing, is preventing you from doing whatever it is you want to do immediately, which is usually something in a group, probably illegal, and always too much fun to stop until the sun comes up, or everyone passes out. When you are finally eighteen, and that phone there in your pocket stops feeling like a burning lump of coal, weighing you down like a boulder of guilt because you haven’t called home to tell some ridiculously overdone lie. You are an adult-lite: all of the perks, none of the expectations or even the ability to really run your own life yet. You are 18- the only thing you really know how to do yet is mess things up, party, and call home when you need help- which you will probably get, and which is probably more often than you want anyone to know.

Do you remember being twenty one or twenty two, and looking in the mirror before you went out to the bars for the night, and realizing how beautiful you were? How perfect your clothes fit, how perfect your make up was, how amazing your hair turned out…and you walked through rooms oozing self confidence, and you could see the boys checking you out from the corner of your eye. I remember one night, at about twenty two, when a boy- I guess he was a young man, he was a few years older than me- that I had known when I was in the ninth grade (I had a crush…no, I had an obsession with his best friend, which was quite one sided, embarrassingly) ran into me at a popular, packed bar in Monterey. He was walking past me, and I was looking straight ahead to avoid eye contact with any of the oglers, and he glanced at me, then did the most flattering double take I have ever seen. He grabbed my arm and I looked up, seeing it was him, and felt a satisfaction I remember to this day. “Is this really Courtney?!” He said, “Wow! You have really grown up!” Or something like that. The words weren’t nearly as important as the sentiment, and the way it made me feel. As if life was just so amazing, and I was just getting started. As if anything could happen.

That is what it was, I think- the sense that I was just at the beginning of something that would become my life, and the world was my oyster. As if anything could happen. That vast unknown was no longer beckoning, I was out there in it, and I was not afraid in the least. I was far too young and inexperienced to be afraid. I was sure that I would either stay the same forever, or simply grow more awesome.

Do you remember being totally unafraid of what lay ahead? Or, what about this- do you remember the first time you became afraid of whatever was next? I don’t remember either of those things, just like I don’t remember when that feeling of happy anticipation about life started to fade, or when my ability to roll with the punches got a little more prone to avoiding the punches in the first place. I couldn’t tell you when cynicism replaced my unguarded trust in people, or when I began to worry about nearly everything, after having worried about nothing my entire life. I can’t tell you when the changes began, but I can tell you that I felt it. I felt it, and it scared me, until it got big enough that it started making me forget that I had ever been another way.

I have been in mourning off and on for the past few years,and I thought it was my youth that I so sorely missed. I thought it was the perky tits and shapely ass that just grew there, asking nothing of me in return. I thought it was me missing all the heads that turned when I passed, and that I was shallow and vain for feeling so terrible about it. But I think it was so much more than that. I think it was the spark of life that lit me up, day after day, making me feel so alive, and so full of promise, and as if life would never be more awful than I could handle. That I would be able to smile my way into peoples good graces forever, and I would be fine. I missed the feeling of buoyancy, of being full of so much hope that I could barely keep myself from floating away.

We become heavier, earthbound things, at some point- most of us do. The spark of life and possibility gives the impression of being your inherent nature, but it is burning less brightly just as you hit your stride. It’s like a heat source that propels us, gives us the momentum we need to launch off into our lives. We don’t stay young forever. We have children, and we begin to put someone before ourselves, we learn about love in a whole unexpected new way, as if we have only been using a third of our hearts our whole lives, and now this whole new level reveals itself. But with love comes the worry, and the guilt, and the trappings- responsibilities, no more all night parties, no more spontaneity, no more loud sex or sleeping in. We get jobs and start chasing money the way we chased boys, we start to want things, we start to crave safety the way we once craved freedom.

We bolt the door at night against the vast unknown, and tell our children about the dangers that exist out there. Strangers and weirdos and drunk drivers, people who could harm them. Waking up to the feeling that anything could happen today fills you with anxiety now, instead of excitement. For just one day, you would like NOTHING to happen. Fifteen years ago, a day when nothing happened could send you careening into crushing, life ending, despair. Now, it would be a miracle. You watch your daughter, at seventeen, as she chomps at the bit, one foot in, and one foot out, of the only home she has ever known-whatever place you were, that was her home. She is suffering under the burden of these last few months at home, going crazy because she can’t answer the siren’s call she hears out there, out in the sea of possibility. It seems impossible that she is almost grown, but then you realize how tired you feel, next to her. How crazy everything she says now seems to you. The spark is blooming in her spirit, gathering heat, getting ready to launch this beauty into the unknown.

And now you know the way your mother felt, looking at you. A mixture of pride and annoyance, excitement, hope, and fear. Confused by the swiftness of what had seemed like such a lot of time, but ready, willing, almost, to let you go. Telling you how great you’d be, and crying in the shower every day. This journey is a tricky one, and nothing ever, really, is what you think it will be.  When you are young, you know you will get older, but you don’t really believe it. And when you get older, you know you you were young, but you can’t really remember what it was…can’t forget all you know, and all that’s ben, not even for one second so that you might remember. Bittersweet, each part of life, a loss for every gain, and something left behind with every step.

Beautiful

It’s a beautiful morning here on the peninsula- still, the way only Sunday mornings ever really are, gray, misty, quiet. The only sound I could hear, as I sat out on my front porch with my mug of hot, strong coffee, was the clang of what I believe to be buoy bells- I could be wrong about that, but in my head, that is what those clangs are.

But that is not the kind of beautiful I want to talk about right now. I had an interesting conversation with my mom, yesterday. It probably wasn’t very interesting to her, but it stood out to me. It went like this- we were talking about my youngest daughter, Camryn, and how she is just getting cuter every day. I said something to the effect of, yes, she is just lovely, but it’s her personality that really takes it over the top for me, and my mom says “No, I think she is just beautiful, just a pretty girl.” To which I replied “Yeah, she reminds me more of Aisley (my older daughter) all the time.”  Then my mom says, and this is what got me thinking- “Now, don’t take this the wrong way, but I see a lot of me in her.”

This is Camryn, who looks just like my mom at this age
This is Camryn, who looks just like my mom at this age

Now, why would I take that the wrong way? I was confused, and told her as much- I was honestly not connecting the dots. “Well, ” she said, “I don’t want you to think that I am saying I am beautiful…” And the conversation went on, and then I was in the store, so I had to go, but her words stayed with me.

At first, I was baffled, but then, after a while, I was sad. My mother, one of the most beautiful women out of all of the mother’s I have ever met, doesn’t want me to think that she would be foolish enough to call herself beautiful. More pointedly, my mother doesn’t think that she is beautiful. Now, I struggle with this all the time, and I understand, but when your own mother, who happens to be so pretty that people are constantly commenting on it, says something like this- it really strikes a chord. And I have something to say about it.

This is my mom and I on my last birthday- she is gorgeous
This is my mom and I on my last birthday- she is gorgeous

Listen, ladies, lots of you may know this on a certain level- that there is more to beauty than a flat stomach, and a pleasing face- but when it comes down to it, I think we have a tough time internalizing and believing this truth, as it applies to us. But you know what? Fuck that. You are beautiful.

You look in the mirror, and maybe you see ten or twenty extra pounds, but your mother looks at you, at this person she loves, and she sees you vibrant and healthy, and everything you have ever been, and all of the things you are going to be. She sees you, and you are beautiful.

This is what you see.
This is what you see.
and this is what you are.
and this is what you are.

You see a picture of yourself, and you see gray hairs coming in, or crows feet, or maybe a face you don’t even recognize as your face anymore. But your children look at you, and they see the person they love more than anyone else in the world. They know your soft, cool hands that would soothe away nightmares, and the safety of your embrace, and the way you know what they really need when no one else does, and you are stunning. Nothing in the world could mar that kind of beauty.

we love you exactly as you are.
we love you exactly as you are.

You maybe don’t even bother with the mirror anymore. You long ago lost the idea that anything about you could be appealing or pretty. But let me tell you, your grandchildren? There is no place in the world they would rather be than in your lap, snuggled into your arms. There is no better place they can think of than your presence. You are the most beautiful person in the world.

This is beauty you can't mess with.
This is beauty you can’t mess with.

You may not fit the format that has been laid out before us- maybe you are too skinny, or not skinny enough, not quite there yet, or past your prime, maybe you hate your thighs or suck your stomach in, think your legs are too short or your boobs are too small. Maybe you spend a lot of time wishing things were how they used to be, or just different than they are now. Well, stop it. Because someone, the most important ones, look at you, look into you, and they see all of the things you ARE. Your great laugh, and your sharp wit, your kind heart, your willingness to be there, the ease with which you give.

Gorgeous laughter
Gorgeous laughter

Whoever you are, wherever you are at in your journey through life, you are beautiful. Way more than just a pretty face, my friend. And that includes you, my beautiful, gorgeous, wonderful, funny, strong, mom. I love you. I would be proud to have daughters just as radiant as you are.

My beautiful mother. And me. I'm not so bad, either.
My beautiful mother. And me. I’m not so bad, either.

The Dreaded “Good Morning” Text

 

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I would like to dedicate this post to my good friend from High School, who first brought this to my attention…you know who you are.

I have been single for a few months now, having just recently stopped licking the wounds from a very long, very turbulent, very damaging relationship- as many of you already know. Very early into my “singledom”, I was so terrified of backsliding (as I have countless times in the past) and running back to my ex, I decided it would be a good idea if I went out with someone new. You know, sort of as an insurance policy of sorts…yes, I see now that this is a bad idea on MANY levels. I have come to understand that I am in NO WAY ready to navigate the treacherous waters of dating, nor do I even want to. But for a minute there, I thought it was a good idea.

I had chatted with this dude on Facebook for quite some time before the actual, final demise of my relationship- going way back into December, I think. My ex and I were very off and on then, and I kept making tentative future plans to meet this guy for coffee, which kept never happening. As is often the case with Facebook, this guy knew a lot of people I knew, so I thought maybe I knew him, too, but even if I didn’t, he was clearly not an ax-murderer, right? RIGHT? Well, probably not, anyway. So, in March, when he asked me to have coffee with him again, I thought, why not?

Here’s the deal…it may have gone fine, if it weren’t for his total over zealousness. The minute I said yes, the barrage of Facebook messages and phone texts ratcheted up to intolerable levels. I got useless, boring conversations that distracted me from whatever I was doing. I got countless, irritating, winking emoticons. I got daily doses of the the dreaded “good morning” texts.

What is the problem?! You may be wondering. Clearly, this dude was interested in you, he just wanted to let you know. Isn’t that what girls want? Sigh…well, yes. And No. See, had we already met for coffee, and found that, indeed, there was a spark there, and we both felt it, those things may very well have been welcome.  But this guy didn’t even know me. At all. And something about those leering, winky emoticons made my skin crawl. I found a suggestiveness in those innocent yellow faced orbs that I never noticed before- I mean, what the hell was he getting at, anyway? Why all the winking?

Then came the morning, six thirty, tops, when I heard my phone buzz across the room, and noticed that my entire body tensed. “Gee, wonder who that could be?” I asked myself sarcastically. I grabbed my phone, and sure enough…”Good morning! wink, wink”. FUCK. I sent him a message back describing that I was in no way ready for any of this, that quite frankly, I was a little put off by all the attention, and I just didn’t know if meeting was a good idea. On the following Monday, he asked again, and I said NO. I told him “I am sure you are a really nice guy, but you seem to have a lot on your plate (he is going through a pretty nasty divorce, which he told me ALL about during our one phone conversation), and I am really not interested in complicating my life. I promised myself a long time ago that I would honor my instincts, and I am getting a big old NO in this case. I’m sorry.”

He said “I thought we could meet as friends and see where it goes.”

I said “I think I am being pretty clear that it can’t go ANYWHERE because I am not interested.”

He said “Okay. I’ll call you”

Sigh. Well, I don’t know if he’s called me or not, because the texts kept coming, so I just blocked him. Then I got rid of him on Facebook. Now, I keep getting hang-ups from a “no caller id” number. LOOKS LIKE I MADE THE RIGHT DECISION.

The moral here? Boys, dating a grown woman on the fast track to forty, especially one with kids, is not like dating a childless woman or a woman in her twenties or early thirties, even. We are infinitely more careful. We have usually learned hard lessons in love. To say we are cautious is optimistic of you- I’m more skittish than a mouse in a box with a boa constrictor. Of course, I am not dating, after all. But when I am…please don’t send me the dreaded “good morning” text. Not until you are pretty sure I am into you. 

Thanks.

And for my nominee for the Liebster award today, I have Three Months to Forty, a blog I just discovered about dating…at my age.

PMS: The Innocent Bystanders Survival Guide

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Mother Nature has a weird sense of humor. This year, my kids are getting a visit from the Easter Bunny, while I got a visit from HER…actually, she’s been hanging around, slowly increasing her presence for what seems like an awfully long time now. That’s kind of how it seems to be working for me, now, as I’ve gotten older. I don’t always get a hormone surge capable of launching me into psychosis, but when I do…it’s EPIC. So, like once every three or four months, rather than the average little grouchy mood and perhaps an annoying twinge in my abdomen signalling (*WARNING* I am about to discuss my PERIOD. If you are a man, or my mother, look away) the arrival of the nightmare in my southern hemisphere, I get a full scale metamorphosis- we’re talking Jekyll and Hyde, here- like an all out battle between good and evil, taking place throughout my body.

My boobs hurt so bad I am afraid to remove my bra because gravity is ACTUALLY PAINFUL. My body begins sucking calories out of the food other people are eating, and I bloat up like someone has been inflating me with a bicycle pump while I sleep. In reaction to this, I begin aggressively eating things I would not touch with a ten foot pole at any other time of my life. I have eaten McDonald’s twice in the past twenty four hours, not to mention all the candy I could pilfer from my toddlers Easter egg hunt winnings yesterday. And some ice cream. And perhaps some candy I found on the floor of my car. It would behoove you, however, not to mention this to me, as I am prone to violent, and totally unpredictable outbursts that may or may not escalate into physical altercations. I know, it surprises me as much as anyone. Still. And I have been going through this shit for YEARS. Here is an example of a hypothetical conversation between myself and my toddler that could have occurred, say, yesterday, for example:

Her: “Mommy, what are you doing.”

Me: “I’m watching this show.”

Her: “You really like this show, huh, mommy?”

Me: “Yeah, that’s why I’m watching it.”

Her: “Is it your favorite show?”

Me: “I don’t know…”

Her: “What…what…what’s this show about?”

Me: “I HAVE NO IDEA, YOU WON’T STOP TALKING LONG ENOUGH FOR ME TO WATCH THE FRIGGING THING!!”

Silence.

Me: Sigh. “I’m sorry, honey, I’m not mad at you.”

Her: “Are you a good monster, or a bad monster?”

Oh, if only I knew. My best tip to everyone is to not make eye contact with me, or say anything that may be considered “inflammatory”. unfortunately for you, nothing falls into that category, including utter silence. Yes, I can even turn that into an argument.

In my defense, and in the defense of all of the women in the universe who have ever suffered from this very same hormonal disadvantage…it is not our fault. There is literally some chemical madness going on in our bodies that even we don’t totally understand. There is always that one annoying chick out there who “doesn’t get PMS”, and to her I say: Suck it. The rest of us hate you.

This morning I woke up in a state of seething annoyance, hating everything about my house. I predict that this will progress, by mid-day, into utter self loathing, reaching a peek around two o’clock when i try to fit into a pair of jeans I know FOR A FACT will button, but not zip, at which time I will dramatically collapse onto the floor, sobbing, and dream about smashing everything in the house. Tomorrow, my period will arrive, and I will just feel silly about the whole thing. I mean, what the heck was THAT all about? Yep, this is the routine, for me. I just feel lucky it doesn’t happen every time.

Oh, and as for surviving it as an innocent bystander? You kind of can’t. If you are a man, just resign yourself to saying the wrong thing, no matter what you say, and perhaps threats of divorce or imminent relocation. If you can, maybe just plan to be off fishing, or at a religious retreat or something. If you are a child, pretend you are trying to get in the Guinness World book of Records for hide and seek, and HIDE. Speak when spoken to. Tell your mother she is pretty, and if she asks if you mean it. for Gods sake, do NOT snicker when you say yes. This is all I can arm you with. Good luck.

Happy Easter.