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A Powerful Woman

When dating was a priority and I treated it like a job, I often had men tell me I was intimidating.  That was hard. I was too intimidating for a second date.  I was too intense, although no one could explain what intensity meant.  It took a while to realize that a man being intimidated by me, does not make me intimidating.  I mean, I would still date me. 

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Rewards of Showing Up

  I get to show up for friends and it means I see something I wouldn't have ordinarily been exposed to on my own.  This has meant trying an amazing Albondigas soup at La Velvet Margarita Cantina and celebrating a birthday.  It means attending a company launch party at Couture Nightclub and seeing that I can be comfortable walking into the unknown, unaccompanied, and fiercely confident if vastly over dressed. I have had too much laughter to not snort watching the Unsupervised Sketch Show at Bar Lubitsch.  I have been able to show up for movie screenings at the Mondrian hotel on Sunset Strip where I've sat with great friends, deepening friendships and connections. I bought a book and got it signed by the author while being inspired by a teacher of creative writing.  She's awesome.  Find her at That Kind of Light. Her book inspired this post.

This week, I got to show up for a friend yesterday at the Artists and Fleas event yesterday in the Arts District in Downtown LA.  It's a fun farmer's market, shopping space that had vegan deodorant,  body oils, and cold process soap.  They had jewelry and candles with crystals embedded in them.  I was also at the Shop to Give event hosted at the CTRL Collective in Playa Vista Thursday. That space alone was worth the visit.  I know it's a work space, but it was like visiting a fun museum with open work spaces.

It might appear to be a sacrifice on my part . . .  taking time out to drive across town to say hello, but it's really been terrific for me and maybe a bit selfish. My latest reward looks like this . . .

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This amazing and beautiful friend of mine that I first mentioned here, took a huge risk and this box is my reward. She quit a stable job to launch her baby into being, and it looks like the pictures throughout this post.  I love the cards with the wealth of history and lore they provide. As a lover of words, I can say that the writing speaks to me and says lovely things.  The kits are designed as a starting point to show you how to pamper yourself, while making it clear that body scrubs and self care is far more tangible than beauty industries would make you believe. The materials were all carefully chosen and perfectly compiled in a box that is a treat in itself.  I don't need the pretty box, but it's worth keeping.  Really, I would love to know where she finds her salt, because the crystals are smaller, gentler and they feel like they hold moisture to them in the way they move and clump.

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I believe the sugar might be raw sugar, but again it's special.  My laptop really didn't appreciate my curiosity though and I cleaned it without photographs because I can't let this moment of excitement get away from me.

I made a mixture today.  It was my first, and it felt so great.  I didn't mix the entire contents of each carefully labeled bag and container, because I like the idea of concocting what I need as I plan to use it.  I get my chemistry ya-yas out and it's a tailor made expresion each time. You don't have to be jealous.  Get your own at Mystic Dirt.

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I get to show up for friends.  I arrive with a smile and receive a hug.  I give them my words of hope and support.  I give them my belief in who they are and empower them with all of the hope and belief I get from their dreams being chased.

The biggest reward of showing up for friends is the part where I'm really showing up for myself. I'm not sitting at home waiting for an opportunity to invite me out, but seeing what my friends are doing and showing up for them.  I get to see interesting venues, and try new foods.  (Today's snack of a curry lime almond dip came from Artists and Fleas.) I get to see friends and have deep conversations or share belly laughs.  I get to reminisce and create new moments that become treasured memories.  My selfies become group shots when I'm not too busy being in the moment to remember to capture them.

Yesterday I showed up for a friend's annual barbecue.  I left Kid2 with my Mom because he begged not to go.  I sat with a friend in conversation and felt so welcomed by his friends.  I got to experience what I was calling magic and learned was babaganoush.  I joined in a relay race that had me riding a tricycle through an obstacle course.  It's been more than 3 decades since I've been on one and my partner and I placed 2nd.  It was epic fun and I only regret not having proof of the shenanigans.  There was a moment where I felt guilt that I wasn't just doing what my son wanted (staying home), but we discussed it and came to an agreement.  I got to go for a while. He got to choose who he would prefer to watch him.  We agreed that this way we are both doing what was best for both of us, and today, he got a full day to be at home and in his gaming cave of solitude.

This latest box of fun has had me in a place of rest and self care.  I've had a great week and a better weekend but the time to care for myself and rest was needed and playing doesn't feel like wasted time that should be spent doing something else.  This box of fun has been about learning and mixing and smelling and exfoliating.  It's a beauty care package that reminds me to slow down intentionally while my Kid2 is happily gaming and spending the day as an only child while Kid1 enjoys his Dad and Kid3 has had a weekend with grandma and cousins.  I have been recharged and I'm ready to Paper Tiger my way through everything I've been putting off all week.

This ability to show up means for the first time since I became a Mom, I'm no longer a martyr to my family's needs.  I'm no longer staying home because of a need to always put others first. I'm standing for my wants and desires and trusting others to care for my children and showing my boys that it's okay to do what is important to me.  It's become important to me that we work as a family to stand for each other in what is important to us as individuals to show each other that this is where we place our value as a family. I'm no longer a short order cook on Saturday mornings while I skip breakfast.  We do what is best for our family as a whole and that means independence and the belief that we each matter, no matter who we are.  Our values are assigned by our love for each other and this love levels the field of importance.

Show up.  So much good happens when you show up for friends and when you show up for yourself through prioritizing what you want to do, alongside what we do because it's our duty and cost to the life we get to live. Live epicly!

Symbolism and Interpretation

I'm starting with a picture of my (dry) hand and three rings.  The one turned is one that never leaves my hand.  It's my college ring.  In high school I was so determined to finish college that I told my Mom not to waste money on a high school class ring.  It took 17 years but I finished school with the bare minimum that was acceptable to me.  I have my BA and one day when my nest is empty, I'm shooting for law school.

I spoke into a friend's life many years ago.  I stood for her when she wanted to quit high school.  I don't even remember what I said, but for her it was everything.  She's the most badass warrior dragon slayer I know.  She's a medical professional when she was once ready to skip her senior year of high school. She has stood for me in some of the deepest valleys I have been in throughout the decades we've known each other.  She showed up to speak to the darkness she saw that I couldn't.  She showed up with a Christmas tree.  She's standing for me yet again.

I wasn't planning on going to my high school reunion tonight.  It's been 20 years, but I didn't value the time and connection over the daily needs of my family, but she stood for me and told me my ticket was paid for and her stance for me . . . Her unfailing belief in me made me realize not going was about not stepping into relationship and when I do that, I'm the only one accountable.  When I see this woman, I see my past.  I see my present and she helps me see my future. That's what badass warrior dragon slayer best friends are for, right?

The rings . . . When I found these two small rings, there was a Reiki instructor selling her hand made jewelry and doing chakra readings.  I asked about the rings, and the infinity ring is about eternal love.  The arrow is a nod to her Sioux heritage.  I'm Choctaw in the way where I know it's in my veins . . . I'm just not connected enough to my heritage to know how.  But these are symbols and meanings are assigned.

Self love isn't a surface affection. You don't love just who you are inside. It's not the light as beauty and the dark as an absence of it. You love all of yourself as a whole. Broken or not, we are made of a whole and we deserve to love all of who we are. 

I love the idea of infinity.  I will always show up for myself, doing what matters to me, because I'm no longer a martyr to motherhood or marriage.  I get to fight for every moment of my existence like it matters because I do.  I have a few things going on this weekend.  Childcare isn't an issue because my support systems are remarkable.  I asked the kids if they wanted the extra time with their Dad because giving them options offers them control and while only one is staying with his Dad this weekend, I'm getting a sitter or taking them with me because I'm worthy of doing what will make me happy.

The arrow spoke to me differently than the original explanation. I've seen enough memes and pictures from Pinterest to remember that an arrow is always pulled back before it's launched.  I saw it and it reminded me that I've been launched.  I haven't landed yet, but I'm free and flying.  I often hear things like, "you have a great smile," or "there is so much love in you that it's shining and beautiful."  I never heard these things when I was being a wife.  It was a reality check a few months ago and I had another reminder yesterday.

I showed up last night.  A friend and my angel had a soft launch for her product line.  I didn't tell her I'd be there.  I surprised her.  The look on her face and her hug said all I needed to know.  I showed up and the symbolism in being present showed her that she mattered, while the look on her face told me I was loved.

The argument wasn't important, but I yesterday I heard the words that would have before told me that I'm a bad writer.  My followers and hits tell me I have enough people that want to read my words that this might not be a valid argument.  I was called a bad mother.  I've had enough professionals in my home and life tell me otherwise.  I was given the words that once wounded me so deeply: that is why I left you.  I hesitated for a moment because I remembered the way that used to feel and in that moment I felt freedom.  There was a disconnect between the past and the present.  I found no point in offering gratitude for what was meant to harm me, but I felt launched and free.  I'm grateful that the life I struggled through was taken from me because I feel a freedom I can't hide.

In this life, I get to look for meanings where life used to be mundane.  I get to drop by the ocean any time I need to be refreshed and renewed.  I get to experience the sublime and see each moment as a gift to be kept or shared as I choose because it's mine.

This isn't a new concept, but it's an extension of who I have always been.  These symbols are less painful or permanent than these or this one. At the end of the day, we see something, hold it closely or run from it entirely, and we get to assign or alter it's meanings. 

 

 

Living in Intention and Outside of Expectation

I had a small emergency with my kids today.  They're fine but for about 40 minutes I was freaking out.  Human error happened.  In reality, I'm sure my boys were happy with the way things unfolded. I'm fairly certain they were oblivious to what I was experiencing. My expectation failed to meet reality because I relied on past experiences to determine future outcomes.  When my response is to react (which looked like yelling at slow drivers with my windows rolled up, making calls and snapping in anger today), I (usually) try to remind myself that I get to choose my interpretation of a situation.  Life is neutral and any good or bad experience of it is an emotion assigned by me.  I mentioned the concept of intention vs. expectation briefly here. Now I'm explaining what it means to live in intention and outside of expectation.

Unconditional Love

In some ways I started the concept in writing about unconditional love and what it means to me.  It comes without expectations and leaves without disappointment.  It's not bartered affections, expecting emotional repayment.  To borrow a line from my favorite poem, it's knowing kisses aren't contracts and presents aren't promises. It's offering love in the ways you express it, knowing you will be happy if it's not returned, and even if it's rejected.

Expectations

Expectations can drive us mad.  My day included two separate conversations with friends that have reached a space in their relationships where they get to shift their expectations of the lives they envisioned. Break ups are hard because it's not just the person we part with, but the expectations we've often assigned to their existence in our lives.  When we start to invite them into our private spaces, and include them in our present and future lives, we are building a future that is connected. We are seeing our lives as a reflection of their lives.  We speak love and life into each other and our echoes resound in the darker places of who we have become, shifting us into better people, empowered by the love we've been given. We grow what we have into something much bigger and often outside of ourselves.  How easy is it to build up the person we love, in ways that we often neglect to love ourselves?

When we flip a light switch, we expect the room to be illuminated by the bulb that is feeding off the the electricity we just closed the circuit to.  We water a plant, and give it sunlight and we expect it to grow.  When it doesn't flourish, something is wrong and we look for fertilizers and check the soil ph and moisture levels.  We offer attention, affection and vulnerability and we often expect it returned.  We hold back until it looks like there's reciprocity.  We imagine a future and feel like it might be love but we withhold those words until it's safe to release them.  We expect a return on investments.

People are changeable.  We change our minds.  Priorities shift.  I went to bed earlier this week excited about a date, and woke up this morning thinking I'd prefer to spend my free time alone than with this particular man.  I expect to have a good time at every opportunity and I woke up knowing my intention remains the same, but the expectation that I would find that with him would be a failure on my part.

Intentions

When I focus on intentions, I'm focusing on my goal and what I would like, but I don't hang my expectations on it.

It's where I can openly love someone unconditionally, without the expectation that my love would need to be returned or my affection exchanged for something of value.

It's where I imagine receiving a back rub without a foreplay label or expected tip might be.  I've never experienced it and I'm not sure what it would look like.

As far as writing these blog posts, my intention is to write something every day.  I don't expect that I will get it done every day and I'm pleasantly surprised when I do. Often it looks like a post started later at night, with heavy lids falling and fluttering through words that come out with eyes closed, and meanings shifting into lucid dreams.  I'll hit "Publish" and drift off to sleep, only to edit the same post throughout the next day, forgetting what I wrote within a week.

It's expecting to grow old with the person you find and hang your hopes on without giving them permission to change who they are to you.  It's deciding your fate is tied to them, ignoring the fact that you can untangle the most complex knots.

It's a first date that looks like a second would be promising without considering the other person hasn't even put her purse down and her keys are still in her hand . . . Is blind intention and expecting a bit much. No. 

Putting it Together

It's a pleasure we rarely afford ourselves to live in the moment.  We grow up with emotionally detached parents and unavailable lovers mimic what we crave.  When we're able to step outside of what's expected, we are able to reach out to the best of our ability into ways that will help us grow. We give of ourselves in vulnerability and when we do it without a cost attached, we're often surprised by genuine reciprocity. It's about being in the moment, without the rushed pace of living in the future or the sluggish sorrow of reflecting on the memory of yesterday.  Be.  Be flexible.  The plans we plot can shift in an instant, and we can't survive by trying to stitch back tattered shreds of a broken promise and fading memories.

You're Overthinking it, Love

Me: I hope you aren't drowning in my dark.  It can be a bit heavy if you aren't me.

Him: Yes.  Stay in the light.  It's warm.

Me: I get the impression you can handle it, but don't let me overburden you.

Him: What does that mean?

Me: You have a strength about you but it's not a strength that you can put on like a jacket.  It's who you are and it was born through survival.  It's easy to lean on you and borrow what you have.

Him: Wow.  You're not wrong, but how did you get all of that?

Me: We hung out and talked for like 20 minutes in my car.  You were there.

 

I overthink things.  It's a default setting for me.  For years that skill was put to use in advocating as an autism mom.  My Mom had a few wars to wage and my research superpowers were called to action.  As a student and mom and wife, I was able to do it without sleep and not always remembering to feed myself with a kindergartner on my back, asking me how to spell things. Now it's about people and interactions and I can't shut it off.

It's funny sometimes that I can see what I'm doing and call it out in others, but it's hard to stop.  A couple of weeks ago I was at La Velvet Margarita Cantina in Hollywood with friends, having fun playing wing woman to the men with me.

I gave one friend advice that got him affection from his girlfriend:

Me: buy a rose. Call her up. Tell her this rose was handed to you by the guy walking around and selling them. It wasn't until you touched the petals that you missed her because they reminded you of her skin. Then ask if you can drop it off.

Him: you're good.

Me: yeah . . . When you see her, make the rose an extension of your fingertips along her cheek. She needs to feel what reminded you of her.

For my other friend, I kept offering my friendly "hello" to random women and nudging my friend in their direction.  He'd chat and come back for a debriefing, and I kept telling him, "stop overthinking it, love."

That same night there was an Andy.  Walking past him, I called out, "You're beautiful."  We had a couple of separate moments where the conversation started, and I walked away, but I have fun rejecting men and I was looking for an excuse to let him go.  I wasn't lying.  He was beautiful, but that is never enough. His rejection came in his passivity.  He let me initiate each interaction and I was okay letting him go because I wasn't interested enough to accept the mixed signals he was sending.  I watched his body language and the way he had moments of turning out toward me and moments of turning his back to me.  I noticed way too much about what he was doing to appreciate the short conversations we had.  I was over thinking it.

I'm really great at over thinking things.  I'm exceptionally talented at over complicating the simplest things.

Today I'm working on bold authenticity because it's easier to hide in something false.  I'm working on accepting that life's events are neutral and I can guide my response by defining my interpretation.  I'm living in intention and outside of expectations.  (This should be a post one day, but don't hold me to it.) I'm working on being present in the moment, because it's not a super power right now. I'm working on self love because when old patterns emerge, I can no longer ignore them and beating myself up over them is my default.  I get to see what I'm doing and what my motives are and face them so I'm no longer controlled by them.  And I get to release the need to over think things by addressing them boldly, no matter what that may look like.

 

My Musical Legacy

There was a conversation with an adorable ginger Monday night.  I was at the Mondrian hotel on Sunset strip and watching Empire Records after a short Q&A with director Allan Moyle. It was an amazing event all around, hosted by GenArt.  This very attractive (if shorter than I like) redhead was telling me all about his experience with vinyl and my experience made me come off as so much older than I am.  Part of it is being the baby for nearly two decades with older parents.  My whole household was older than my generation. Then Mom started adopting and we don't fit much of any family's identity anymore. We call it the zoo and it's who we are.

I'm a native from L.A. and this man with freckle kissed cheeks was from the east coast.  From what I remember of my short trip to New York in 1997, everything was about the latest in everything.  The latest music and style was what mattered.  Status revolved around replacing the old with the new, as quickly as possible.  The wedding we crashed showed me that hairstyles were more of a decades heavy throw back, but everything else was about finding the new things that were the commodification of a generation and nailing down that zeitgeist in any way possible. It was insane and overwhelming to me and I was there only about a week. Vinyl records died and then came back on that side of the country.

In Los Angeles, vinyl never died.  Growing up I played my Dad's Diana Ross records.  He had a small collection of R&B records. I loved smaller 45's because they were mini-records and cute. Most of them were black, but sometimes they came in yellow or red. As I got older I went to house parties. My best friend and the man I named my firstborn after would learn how to DJ, and keep everyone dancing at every single house party I threw until I got married and the parties stopped.   He still DJ's although I'm not sure where and when, but I know he "spins" his records at a Barcade in Koreatown.

I remember hitting record stores with my friends and I would wander for hours while they would go row after row, digging in the crates.  Of course Tower Records was everywhere.  I remember running to the Wherehouse for singles on cassette tapes or the latest Mariah Carey or Madonna albums on CD.  We'd go to Amoeba, Rockaway Records, or Aron's Records and just look for music. It was about hanging out to avoid going home but it was about holding onto a heritage passed down from parents and older siblings.

There's something in the sounds that carry our emotions either through lyrics or melodies.  There's magic in the flow that wraps around us and wrings us dry.  There are still record stores in Los Angeles because they never went away. They evolved.  They re-emerged, but they never went away.

There are kids and adults that geek out on vinyl.  There's something about an automatic arm that moves with precision.  Or sometimes I would hold and guide the arm with the needle onto the dark and smooth outer edge of the record, and watch the needle move towards the center as the songs played through the crackle of imperfections laid into a record.  You can't get that in digital media.  Even modern songs that incorporate the sound that tries to imitate a record can't get it right.  It's too precise.

I'm not a fan of live music usually.  The first time I heard Mariah Carey singing, "I'll Be There," over the sounds of applause, I was bothered.  She didn't sing it the way I wanted it to sound.  I wanted it to be perfect and I wanted to be her only audience and I couldn't feel that way with the sounds of the crowds she was actually singing to.

As I get older, I miss the nostalgia of records.  I miss the sound of melodies woven through white noise and the soft hum of a muted speaker, waiting for it's duty to be lived out in song.  There's a heaviness on a record when vocals dip into sotte voce.  It begs for a physical reaction. I can't remember the artist I used to listen to, but I remember the feeling of her lower ranges gravelling through a record, and that sound memory is a gift.

My kids have never known the sound of vinyl imperfection. With digital media, computer programs modify voices and instruments into perfection so we can take it for granted that if it's on the radio, it will be perfect.  My sons don't know the way Ethel Merman could cut through a room with the way her voice rung out, unassisted.  You are offered that taste on a vinyl record. That was true perfection.

For me, vinyl records mean the sound of the needle first hitting the spinning record with the crackle and groan of the grooves speaking before the melody flows and is met with the power of human ability.  That first sound fills you with anticipation.  I don't plan to get into records again because I only had the by product of my Dad's love of music before.  Really, he had 8-tracks and I'm not going there either.  There are some things I am willing to part with.

My contribution to the legacy I was given is the willingness to sing powerfully. I'm not a singer, but I sing.  It is strong and loud and in my voice are the emotions that won't be held back.  I sing to my sons, looking into their eyes, unashamed and unafraid.  I give them all that I have and maybe one day they'll hear a vinyl recording that speaks to a memory they can't place.  Maybe one day they'll feel the power that I did as a child and it might be one day when they move out or when I'm gone.  It will feel like the memory of their mother singing her heart out to them like it matters, because they do.

I am Yessica Maher. 

I had a hard time sleeping last night with the to-do list that comes with Monday's usual custody swap and an evening appointment for the kids. That and my childhood asthma has been making it hard to breathe as an adult. In the early hours of this morning as I was contemplating all that would be coming with the sun, I started to think about my last blog post. I love myself and yet I'm still hiding behind my blog.  I don't want to diminish the wonderful feeling that in my words, all you get is the voice in which I write. Aside from my last post, and maybe a random other post where I buried a picture of myself in a slideshow, you really don't see what I look like.  Okay, so in recent months I may have shared pictures of me in my childhood or 15 years ago.  But nothing too recent until really recently. You don't really know who I am.  I'm hiding. Unless you're one of my Facebook friends and probably annoyed with the posts that link to my latest ramblings on a daily basis. I really don't even know how many of my friends read my blog and how many just like the pictures when a post comes with a visual. If you follow closely, you'll know that at one point about a year and a half ago, I couldn't even string together a whole paragraph.  I still have a hard time getting lost in a book. Focusing on getting lost comes with the guilt from spending so many years escaping from my family in young adult paranormal romance. I've grown in ways that I didn't expect and yet, here I am, hiding in anonymity.  I love myself, and yet, I'm hiding my identity like I'm not proud of the woman I have become.

I started writing under a guise because I was thinking of the damage my words could do to a job hunt.  After a conversation with a friend today I realized I really don't party all that hard.  I don't do anything that is extreme or dangerous that would label me a hire risk.  I'm just not that exciting.  Hiding my identity was supposed to be about potential jobs, but the reality is it's about protection and hiding.  Loving myself means I get to own up to what I say.  Not only is my face on my blog.  I am in every single word.  I don't hide behind a pseudonym on Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn.  I don't hide in other areas.  In the most meaningful expression of who I am, I hide the most.  This place is my playground and I hide from everyone even though I give the most honesty here. You won't see a feminist forward or a fur baby moment. This is me.  Not borrowed or shared.  Just me.

After last night's post, I realized I was holding onto old fears.  I had a blog years ago that focused on being an autism mom.  My ex didn't want me writing about him or the boys and I realized it was hurtful to put my kid's lives on display for my therapy.  I write about my family now as they're relevant to my exploration of who I am, but I try to be mindful in keeping this about me.  I get to be selfish here.

There was a short while where my latest crush  and I would talk about writing.  I haven't seen or talked to him in a long while. He is a dedicated writer that will spend time in creativity every single day.  He crafted his words for hours at a time in a way that I don't.  My writing comes out in spurts of inspiration.  I scribble out a thought and hammer it out in moments before dozing off.  I wake to finish my posts.  I don't treat it like a job and he always did, encouraging me to write because he's just a really great person.  He was really uncomfortable with my observations of him.  I saw him in a way that was intense and writing about him made me happy with an equally taxing cost to him.  In all of the ways a conversation with him made me want to write, he never once discouraged me from what I wrote or how I wrote or even the times I wrote about him.  I realized today I was hiding from my words based on a situation with my ex, when my latest crush showed me that the censorship imposed on me was based on someone who no longer matters to me.  He didn't say anything to persuade me of anything.  He simply existed as he was in a way that shifted my perspective while healing old hurts. Talented and special.

Here I am.

I was named Yessica by my Dad.  He was studying Hebrew at the time of my birth.  In honor of the Hebrew alphabet missing a "J" sound, he named me Yessica.  It was a name he's always translated to "God's Gift."  That's what I get for making the 7 year old baby a middle sister.  I get to be his gift from God.

My Mom chose my middle name, which is Ruth.  It's biblical and I held onto my namesake for so long as I stood in prayer and hope for my marriage.  It was the belief that no matter what kind of husband my ex was being, I could choose what kind of wife I would be.  It was over 11 months before I realized I was more attached to my role as a wife than I was to the man I married. I get to be someone else's wife one day.

My paternal heritage gave me a typical Egyptian name and it blends into the legacy of a woman brought into the United States on a slave ship from Africa.  Her name was Americus Starks and I'm almost certain it wasn't a name given to her at birth. I have educators and preachers in my lineage.  There was a State Senator.  We are Choctaw Indian, English, African American, and Mexican. When my divorce is final, I'm reclaiming my birth-name.

On my maternal side, there is a family that is strong enough to rely on each other through extreme developing country poverty.  We are from Thailand and my Dad just informed me we are also Burmese.

I married and gave my children their father's name. It comes from his Irish side, although the family remembers his Dutch side most. Taking his name was the first fight I lost.  I wanted to hyphenate my name or just add his name after mine, but taking his name was important to him.  It identified me as his wife.  It bound our family under a single name that I adopted as mine with a history to claim as my heritage and a future to forge in the legacy of our children.  It was a blessing that became a curse in shame.  It is a burden that daily reminds me of the road I've traveled and grown strong through.  I'm happy that I get to let it go.  When I think of the day I had his name covered on my arm with a tattoo of my son's names, I can easily recall feeling so free and empowered.  I imagine my name change will feel like that except getting a tattoo of his name was always my choice while the name change never was.  I'm sure it'll feel better once I get past the paperwork.

I am Yessica Ruth Maher.

I made a contract with myself a few weeks ago:  I am a brave, courageous, heart led leader.  Whether I lead only myself, or my children, or a horde of people ready to reclaim their voices in the shadows of an experience they share with me, I choose this identity.  I am brave through fear.  I am courageous through discomfort and pain.  I lead from the heart, choosing what is right over what is easy.

I am a daughter to the parents that raised me and the parents that claim me.  I am a product of their contributions to my identity and the support they never cease to offer.  I am a child that knows love that looks like duty and feels like honor.

I am a sister.  We are a combination of blood relatives, step siblings, adopted siblings and siblings through marriage.  Our gatherings are huge, but we know that family is bound by duty and we'll always be there for you, even if we don't like you at the moment.

I am a Mom.  I'm an autism mom.  I'm the mother of a sensitive but neuro-typical child. I'm the mother of boys. My firstborn and I survived the baby blues. My youngest saved me from my deepest depression while in my belly. I was a surrogate mother and helped families grow in ways that healed parts of motherhood that ached in painful shadows of comparison that I could never touch in ways that I wanted to.

I am a woman that lived in constant depression from 1992 until I was pregnant with my youngest child in 2006.  He saved my life with every tap and jab to my womb at precise moments when our lives were hanging in a precarious balance.

I'm Yessica.  You can call me Yessie.  Just make sure you don't forget to call me for dinner.

 

Living Like I Love Myself

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I love me.  I really, truly, and with an open heart, love me.  I love me when I'm insecure. I love me when I need to be alone.  I love me in my silliness, and through my intensity.  I love me when I can slip into  being me, whether it's as Mom, Sister, advocate, one of the guys, or Freakzilla.  Yeah, she's still around. This self love hasn't always been my reality.  At one point it only meant I had fresh batteries.  I can admit that and love myself in spite of the times I hated being who I am. I hated living in isolation when I wanted to reach out. I hate that I have to learn to be social again, pushing past my loner tendencies. I hated what I thought and felt to the point that I offered lies to cover my truths.

In depression, it's easy to disregard your amazing for the ideals we envision.  It's easy to think we would be better if we were just . . . thinner, prettier, smarter, more confident. We don't see that "just . . . " is the most devastating weapon of self destruction we could create. It's easy to think, "I'm an okay person," ignoring that you are the only person capable of loving yourself with the complete understanding of what makes you uniquely different from every other human being on this planet at any point in time. We hold ourselves to a standard of someone else's creation, not valuing the unique design of our own rubric based on our own awesome attributes. My reality check came a few days ago when I was looking at my old Facebook pictures.

I was fairly committed to my massive ass expansion and I was content in it.  I was smiling and happy in the moment these pictures were taken, but I didn't love myself. In the first one, I was surrounded by family at Christmas.  The second was at my brother-in-law's birthday party.  Number three was my niece's sweet 16, and number 4 was a couple of months before my ex ended our marriage. I felt I was happily married and didn't know he wasn't.

I'm big on selfies lately.  They make me happy because they capture what I was feeling in any given moment.  I can go through my Instagram, look at a picture and tell you what happened in that day, and at that moment. My joy is what inspires my vapid selfie moments and they capture a feeling so that at any other moment, I can recreate it.

What my lack of selfie moments pointed out to me was that I didn't like taking pictures or looking in the mirror for that matter.  For years, the only mirror in the house was the bathroom vanity mirror.  I didn't want to see myself.  I was only in pictures that someone else was taking and I was asked to pose for. There are years of my life where I don't have pictures of myself.

It amazes me sometimes how an idea becomes a tangible reality when I'm explaining it to someone else. I was talking with my Dad this afternoon and as I'm telling him he should really start treating himself like he loves himself, it really began to solidify for me that I really do treat myself like I love myself.  Before this conversation, we were sitting down for a meal at Burger King. His choice.  I was telling him he needs to take better care of himself and treat himself like he loves himself.  The irony of the moment hit me when I took another bite of my open faced protein style burger.  I was eating food I didn't like, even though I wasn't hungry.

This morning I made myself breakfast.  It was eggs over medium on honey ham with shredded cheese on top.  It's not healthy, but it was delicious.  I enjoyed every single bite.  When we were out, I wasn't hungry, but we were stopping so he could eat.  I looked over the menu and couldn't find anything that screamed out, "this will give you intense food joy!" I settled on a burger without a bun, which somehow translates to no salt and pepper or sauce of any type. It was depressing to eat, and I was still eating it.  My doodle moment at the top of this post was about treating myself like I love myself and it was something I found on Pinterest and gave to a co-worker that wanted encouragement, and I'm hammering that out now. (I need more deskside doodle moments.)

Don't say mean things to yourself.

There are so many thoughts that run through our minds.  It's hard to shut them off or slow them down.  Sometimes random thoughts filter through and I've had a full conversation before I realize what exactly I've said to myself.  I have to be intentional with myself.  The self criticism has to go out the door.  It's not easy.

At one point when my ex was still here, but he had told me the marriage was over, he did his best to let me know all of the reasons I killed our marriage. Single handed, because I am a powerful marriage destroyer with the ability to control someone else's general happiness. (I should really learn to use these powers for good, right?) He handed his phone to his girlfriend so she could tell me (from the phone still in my name) that I was a horrible mother, physically unattractive, and deserved the way I was being treated by my husband.  I was treated like a mistress by my husband of 15 years.

I'm fairly confident now, but I still have moments when my confidence dips and I feel like I might be ugly or undesirable, ignoring the men I turn down because I am so picky.  Often, it just takes a walk.  I play music with my earbuds silencing all else and it makes me happy. Sometimes singing along, I take a short walk with my head held high.  I stride with one foot directly in front of the other, hips swaying in the imbalance of my gait.  I get appreciative looks. I've gotten strangers to pull over to get my attention and I've made shy men smile like I just handed them my last lollipop as a promise I might intend to keep (I never do).

Treat yourself the way you would treat a small child.

As a new Mom, I used to eat after my kids.  I don't mean when they were too little to eat table food. At that time, they got to taste little bits of what I had.  When they got older, I would make dinner and help them through their meals, only to eat the rest of the food off of their plate.  I treated myself like a garbage disposal.  I would never make my kids eat my scraps, and yet that was good enough for me.  I would insist they eat what tastes good to them, and I wouldn't force them to eat if they weren't hungry, but I would keep offering them food so they had what they needed when they were ready for it.  You would think I would do the same to myself, but that has been a more recent development and it looks like it did when I was a teenager.  I loved myself then, too.

 Put yourself to bed early.

Being Mom means you're constantly touched and pulled on and needed all day.  As a Mom that was also a wife, there were many nights when my whole house was asleep, but I was wired.  I would watch television or read a book, or just try to sleep but sleep wouldn't come. Laying in bed next to the ex when he was ready for bed, I would try to fall asleep with him and even faked sleep many nights to appease his desire to go to bed at the same time. Then I would stay up and make a midnight snack of a can of chunky soup, a fist full of sharp shredded cheddar and topped with another fistful of French fried onions (I did mention massive ass expansion).  By 3 or 4 a.m., I would go to sleep.  At 7 in the morning, I was getting the kids up and out the door, helping the ex get out the door, and falling asleep around 9.  I woke up by noon, ran errands, made calls, and did a crap job of housework.  When the kids were home from school, I would help with homework and start on dinner, because all meals were homemade with fresh ingredients.  My Dad introduced my kids to frozen meals when I needed help with groceries after my ex left.  I gave them fresh foods and learned how to cook new meals because I love them.  I would give myself cans of soup, piled with tons of unhealthy. Crazy, right?  Add 12 units of English literature and that's how I worked on my BA. Writing about it and the ways I had to argue my case for school with my ex each quarter got my 6 scholarships in 2 years. I did mention I'm a badass, right? I know I say this to myself all the time.

I go to bed fairly early now.  I spent this week going out.  I was at a friend's house Wednesday.  I went to a sketch show at Bar Lubitsch Thursday.  I celebrated a friend's birthday at La Velvet Margarita Cantina in Hollywood on Friday and met more friends at the Arts District Brewing Co. last night.  I'm making an effort to step out of being a loner. This in no way means I left at closing time.  Each night I was in my bed by midnight and happy to be there.  Cinderella has no idea how awesome her curfew was.

Go play outside, and allow naptime after playtime.

I love pretty things.  I love the beach at sunset and hiking trails where I'm surrounded by open skies and can see far out.  I love nature and museums and mostly I love my city.  Lately I've made every effort to be a tourist.  Just yesterday I explored the secret stairs in Hollywood. Hollywood was originally planned as a gated community called "Hollywoodland." The famous sign has nothing to do with the entertainment industry and everything to do with real estate.  It was built in the hills before cars were popular and staircases were put all over so young families could get around the neighborhoods with ease.  It's worth the Google search for the PDF.  I take myself to places I want to see because even without company, I still want to see it all.  I prioritize what interests me.  I have a whole list of places I want to go to and I keep that list at work. On Friday, I go through the list and decide what I want to knock out on my weekends alone.  It's a trip to see something pretty but it ends up looking like exercise and at the end of it, there's always food I like, and a nap.

Don't put yourself in danger.

I love solitary beach nights.  I love going to Will Rogers State Beach and watching the sunset.  I love laying in my car with the windows down and listening to the waves crash.  I love sitting on the sand, surrounded by darkness and completely alone.  Unfortunately, it's not safe so I often end up at Santa Monica Beach where performers don't worry about their tips being stolen because the police are all over that pier. I didn't make it to the beach all week and I'm not going to make it at least until Wednesday and I'm a little bummed about that but my week with friends was pretty epic. 

I went hiking a little while ago and ended up pushing myself too hard while unprepared.  I have learned my lesson and now carry much more water than I need.  I won't start a trip with a near dead cell phone.  I really want to go back to Sunken City and hike down to the water again, but I can't think of a person I would endanger like that and I won't go alone again for safety reasons.  Yes, I really just wrote that.  I want to do the dangerous thing, but I would never put another person in that position.  I won't go without a buddy because of the danger.  I won't invite someone else because of the danger.  I want to go again, but I won't because I can't put myself in danger.  I say this repeatedly because I need to remind myself that I don't put myself in danger when I love myself.  This is why I protect my boys like the fierce dragon slaying autism mom and advocate I am. But those were really pretty sights to see and I might go back without putting myself in danger. I might actually listen to the "No Trespassing" signs. 

Getting back to self love through not putting myself in danger, this also means I don't drink and drive.  Texting while driving isn't cool and I might offer a call that is hands free instead.  I don't want to pick up an old smoking habit even if it does feel like teenage rebellion. 

In a way, dating goes under this section too.  I would much rather not date, than date a boy that doesn't want to treat me like I matter.  I want to be treated like I'm beautiful and smart. I get plenty of attention from boys that want me to show them a good time. I want to know that if I'm handing my heart to someone, he will try to treat me the way I treat me, because I really love myself.  He needs to act like he might make me feel better than I already do when I take myself out for a good time alone. I want to be treated like a coffee mug. This is what kept my fascination with my latest crush from being consuming. I never could see that going anywhere solid. 

Feed yourself healthy food.

A few years ago, my doctor told me I was pre-diabetic.  It was early enough that I could make changes in my diet and I did.  I'm no longer pre-diabetic because I stopped eating like I wanted death to come early. I didn't do it for myself.  I did it for my kids.  Around the same time, I was always uncomfortable and had severe gas pain almost daily.  I started limiting my sugar and keeping a food journal that included what I ate and how I felt.  I didn't measure portion sizes or count calories.  I stopped eating 4 chocolate bars a day.  I loved almond filled croissants and grilled cheese sandwiches, but started limiting things that weren't healthy.  Within weeks of cutting sugar, I learned I'm sensitive to wheat in a bad way.  After dropping the wheat from my diet, I lost about 10 pounds in a month.  At my heaviest non pregnant self, I was about 230 pounds.  I ate what I wanted to eat, whether or not I was hungry.  It was often junk food that I ate without paying attention to what I was doing.  I was eating out of boredom.  I was eating because it was there and I didn't want to waste food.  I was eating because I couldn't feel whether or not I was hungry, thirsty, full, or loved. Eating took away the need to feel what was so far out of reach.

Fast forward to a period when my survival relied on being able to love myself, and I started eating like I love myself.  Cravings for unhealthy foods slowed down. I don't limit anything, but I no longer want it like I used to. I still eat sugar and I like it, but I don't want it as much as I used to.  I have both sugared and sugar free candy at my desk, but often share it without eating it all. My favorite snack is raw sugar snap peas. I drink sweetened coffee and tea sometimes but I also love Perrier (L'Orange and Green Apple) and the original V-8 juice.  I don't drink soda and rarely drink fruit juice. Just for the sake of the blog, I stepped on a scale today. I weigh 175 pounds, without exercising on a regular basis. Normally I don't weigh myself. Without paying attention to the way my clothes fit, the way I feel or a BMI that I can interpret, weight is just an arbitrary number and I normally don't torture myself with it. It's here because it's a standard we all use. I only take myself on field trips when I don't have my kids, and that's only every other weekend.  I don't diet. I don't measure my food or eat anything that makes me feel like death would be better than digestion. I eat like I love myself and the reward is I get to buy new jeans every time my pants start acting gangster, because that's the only way I'd sag my jeans. I'm wearing the same sizes I wore in high school.

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I get to act like I love myself.  I crave healthy snacks.  I eat when I need to, and not just because I can.  I'm not as fluffy as I once was and there's very little effort in it.  And the confidence that comes with loving myself feels like that first crunchy, creamy bite of creme brulee.  It's heaven.

Does Writing Make a Writer?

It's not a simple idea for me to own being a writer.  I never wanted to be a writer.  It wasn't something that was ever who I am or in my bones.  I didn't breathe in every moment knowing this is who I am.  It just happens.  Words come out.  It feels better. I was a scientist once.  There was a moment when the world in perfect excellence shattered for me and I was a scientist.  I fell deeply in love with Geology and I wanted to be a rock doctor.  I wanted to climb mountains and camp along active volcanoes and wear that big, shiny suit to take measurements.  I wanted to pick up and analyze rocks.  I wanted to weigh and measure and even bite dirt to see what the grains felt like.  I was a scientist. And I still stick rocks in my pocket.

To know me is to think of me with every sensory caress of the ocean; every rock that looks special; every butterfly that floats by.

Being a scientist at the time didn't really take in the needs of a young family.  I couldn't leave my family for field trips to study the earth and really thought about taking them with me.  I didn't have the security of knowing that I could leave and their Dad could run the house.  This sounds harsh, but if you think about my first childbirth, it makes sense.  I had Kid1.  My ex got food poisoning and when I got home from the hospital, I had to make my own dinner.  I hit the ground running from that moment on.  I'd be hospitalized, and get home with laundry waiting for me.  I wasn't allowed to lift a laundry basket and my help looked like someone willing to carry the laundry basket to and from the laundry room, but I was still on my own for everything else.  I couldn't see leaving my family to study the earth as an option.

Then there was the math.  I struggled with math in the 3rd grade when I was suppoed to be memorizing multiplication tables.  It wasn't just the math. It was at a time when I was sitting at a desk next to a boy that kept touching my legs and wanting to explore grown things.  I was curious too.  My teacher never noticed. I was not at all focused on math.  Not having that foundation, I struggled.  By the time I got through college level algebra with 2 kids and one on the way, it started to look impossible.  I was facing chemistry, calculus, and physics, and it seemed impossible when I had to fit homework in after my family fell asleep.  I imagined getting through with really bad grades and I wanted better.  I wanted an easier major.  I was no longer a scientist, but I fell into being an english major.

English and literature were easier for me.  I loved reading from the time I would steal my sister's trashy bodice ripping romance novels.  I loved literary porn from the 8th grade, not realizing how much I was warping my ideals of love and romance and real relationships.  I got older and had  a family of my own and would spend hours reading books as an escape.  Some days I would read 3 novels in a day, forgetting to eat, and barely feeding my family.  The housework would sit.  I was in bed reading, while my ex was watching television, and it was okay to run away without leaving.

When I was in the 10th grade I started keeping a journal.  It started after a breakup and became a place to pour out all of my darkness.  I would write and forget about what was bothering me.  That first journal was full of terrible men jokes.  When I got married, at first I thought it was okay to share everything, so I did.  When you share what is hurting you in a way where it was written only for you, it can look hurtful and mean, even if that was never the intention.  I began keeping my journal to myself, but the new boundary was never honored.  I stopped writing.  At one point, I had several entries a day and it was a cleansing ritual.  It became sporadic.  I remember writing an entry after a 4 year gap.  I would write for healing, but it was covered in shame. Then it was hidden, because I couldn't own how I felt.

In the months where I was still trying to save my marriage, I destroyed and threw away over 20 years of journals.  This was at a time when I couldn't write.  I was trying to write creatively, and I couldn't string together a paragraph.  I felt like my writing killed my marriage and I couldn't get it out because I was so broken.  I tried starting a new journal. I wanted it to be new and not include the dark, but more optimism.  It was easier to not write. I tried writing a story and got bored while writing.  Why would anyone want to read what I'm too bored to write?

In February of this year I started blogging here.  It was free therapy.  My words made me feel better.  It was more positive because bashing people isn't what I want to do and knowing the words are for someone else means I am held accountable by faceless numbers of blog hits and subscriptions.

But I still haven't stepped into being a writer.  I blog.  It's a hobby.  My Dad identifies himself as a writer, and I never liked what that looked like to me.  He was writing and I wanted to snuggle.  His dreams came with disappointment. Writers are made for rejection.  It becomes great material. I think that's why I'm in love with falling in love and my superficial crushes mean more to me than the men actually did.  It might be why I still refer to them as boys.

One day I might call myself a writer.  Today I own the fact that the words I string together can be compelling.  Much like a train wreck. It's enough.

Owning It

There are times when the situations we find ourselves in are too great to imagine being in control of.  It's easier to make ourselves the victim of our choices.  Let's explore full ownership! It'll be fun.

Bad Choices

That time you got arrested for breaking the law?  Own it.  You did it.  You got caught.  You didn't get locked up.  You didn't end up in jail.  Your choices put you where you were meant to be.  Take ownership of the circumstances you created.

That time your bold faced lie got you ostracized? That was a choice you made.  Your friends turned their backs because you weren't being authentic.  They trust you with their honesty and you don't feel they deserve yours. Own it.

Always running late? Things happen.  Sometimes better planning would be the only fix you need.  Other times you need to acknowledge you made a commitment that wasn't in your interest and rather than stand on a firm "NO," you chose to say yes. Being late is saying, "Screw you, my time means more than yours does." Personally, I tend to give myself so much extra time that I think I have time to squeeze in a quick stop, rather than taking the moment alone to shake off the drive or other things in my life that won't allow me to be present and engaged.  This is my problem.  I own it.

How do you present yourself?

You want feedback? You want to know if people want to be around you? Look around.  Are they reaching out to you? Are you reaching out to them? Have you only made time for the hurricane that is your life and drama? Did you ignore the last seven life lines tossed your way? Own it.

Every so often a friend will ask Facebook a question of "what should I do?" They have two or more choices and don't know which to take.  They go back and forth, laying out the best and worst case scenarios.  I often tell them to do what they want.  They know what they want and they're asking for approval because they need someone to make them feel better about their choice.  I won't face the consequences or receive the benefits of that choice.  A Facebook based conversation means we're just not that close.  I like you enough to spy on you, but if I'm not texting you or asking if I can call because I'm driving, I've given space, and while I'm open to closing that gap, I usually don't.  (My bruised bits in this area are healing.) Own your decision.  I can support your choice, but I won't support you living in fear of your life.  I won't do it anymore and I wouldn't want my friends to. Own it.

Compliments

Someone tells me I'm beautiful.  I get stopped and told I have a great smile by passing strangers (male and female) on a regular basis. I've had people smile from their cars and hope I'd be willing to pull over.  I've pulled over more than once.  I'm a romantic, and one day it might be worth my time. Other times I pretend I don't see him and keep jamming to whatever song I'm singing to myself (way too loudly). I own it, but it's never something that gets my attention. I always hope to talk to someone and hear that I'm smart too.  I want to hear that I'm intense and it isn't a bad thing.  I want to hear that I'm warm and loving, even if a bit snarky at times.  I accept beautiful and when it becomes purely sexual, I offer my hard pass with a smile.  I own it because I've grown numb to what it means to someone else.  I'm fully aware of what I look like and for the most part, I love what I feel, but more than that, I love what my body is capable of. I own my looks that were a gift from my parents and have nothing to do with anything I can control.

People will call babies cute because they're little.  Babies are cute and precious, even if they look like they've been beat up by a uterus for a day and are still covered in bodily fluids and reek of a vagina that's been flexing and stretching all day. Cute kid, let me hold it because it's pure and I want some of that purity in my arms.  I want that tiny bit of person that you have had all to yourself with the stretch marks, heartburn, tingling legs, and stress incontinence.  I want to see what has given you a close and personal relationship with every bathroom you've met throughout a pregnant lady day. I want to bond with a child I will only see on occasions and certainly not for that feeding every 2-3 hours or the fever that has you freaked out because it won't break, and I get to remember what it was like before teenagers started acting like they hate me sometimes.

People will lie about beauty, but not if they aren't expecting anything in return.  I'm not asking you out.  I'm not trying to see if you'll let me touch your butt on the dance floor.  No cost is coming.  You are beautiful.  Own that shit.

Last night, the founder of the leadership courses I've been taking singled me out as a good writer.  She pointed at me and gave me a solid compliment in a room full of people that had her full attention.  There was no escape, and I kinda wanted to.  Blogging is free therapy. It's been a place to escape the confines I've been keeping all around me for longer than I can comprehend.  Each word destroys the chrysalis I never knew was holding me in. It's where I talk about dating or not dating or dating myself because I do that spectacularly.  I explore motherhood  while trying to not make this about my boys because how fair is that to them? I'm not them. I try my best to not just bash my ex, no matter how easy he might want to make it. I'm so thankful to the open ears that listened through yesterday's drama and the place I'm in that makes it no longer necessary to protect him or seek vengeance.  I spend way too much time alone at the beach (which sounds really good for tonight) and it's silly to me.  Living out my days and looking for joy is fun, and writing about it is healing, but it's not serious. I have a vague idea of what real writing is and I can't see that I'm there.  She singled me out and my blog stats tell me otherwise.  I am so interested in all she's going to be teaching me and I trust her.  I have to trust that she likes the way I string words together. The email followers, the Facebook hits, the searches that land people here . . . I need to own that even if it does require chocolate.

Just Say It

I was having a conversation with a beautiful friend last night.  I was slightly envious of her perfect posture but appreciated her strawberry blonde hair, softly swept over her left shoulder.  She was telling me about her trip home and the family love she was surrounded with.  She told me about a camping trip that got rained out.  It reminded me of a trip to Green Valley Lake where the rain pelted the tent throughout the night and we cut our trip short, packing up in the rain, and then setting the tent up in our living room to air out over a pizza dinner which I preferred over the walking tacos or sauteed trout that was probably planned. Those are the best conversations, right? The ones that revive a memory or a thought of another time and place that feel like home and taste like warm honeyed milk.

We walked and talked and she danced around telling me about the love in her life.  I've known heartache.  She was expressing something I have known and have grown to appreciate. It's an effort to remember that the love I give is given and not bartered.  I have to remind myself that the amazing I see and praise isn't a chip I get to cash in at the end of the romance.  I told her that I loved her.  I do.  It's not difficult to admit, because I can say it and know there is truth in it.  Am I in love with her? No.  I couldn't see myself putting her above my needs because doing so would bring me joy.  I could do it, but it would be about generosity, not personal fulfillment.  I can say I love her.  I know that as special and wonderful and amazing as she is, I'm not in love with her.

The thing about saying you love something or someone is you should really just say it.  Think about what people proclaim their love for on a daily basis.

I love pizza!

I love tacos!

I love Fridays!

I love Saturday sleep ins!

I love rough porn star sex! (What, you've never heard this one? Try online dating. Or don't, might be the lesson.)

My loves? Beach sunsets, museums, food joy, but you know this and it's meaningless.  Without a person to love, things are meaningless.

Love was never meant to stay within you.  It feeds off of others and that's how it grows.  You can't force change through fear or domination but you can through love because that is what helps an ideal solidify through intention.  We're all world changers in our way.  Wouldn't you want to impact the world in a greater way? Do it through love. It's universal.

When you hold in your expression of love, does it feel good? Do you enjoy the wonder of what their reaction will do, or do you let your love sit within you, surrounded by the fear of a reaction.  Fear lies to us.  It tells us what the worst possible outcome is and we believe this without proof.  It tells us to forget what we know and run from what we can't see. It allows us to hide in stagnant waters that are unable to oxygenate and make us grow.  It allows us to die through emotional suicide.

When you hold love in and the situation changes but you kept those words to yourself, you have not only robbed the focus of your affection of the opportunity to be loved, but you've robbed yourself of that moment of expression.  You have placed the value of your emotions in the fear of someone else's interpretation without realizing that they don't count the way you do because you aren't willing to teach them.

I'm guilty of this. The last time I withheld that expression, it became a withheld confession.  I attached guilt to it. Not saying it was about my fear that it would frighten him.  It was about placing his needs of being superficial in our connection ahead of my need to get it out of myself.  I robbed him of the opportunity to prove me wrong or show me he is who he's always shown up to me as. I care more about how he might react than a missed eggy breakfast.  That's love.  With him, the words were meaningless to me when I could take the opportunity to express it through the action of doing what was contrary to who I am becoming.  Life is practice.  I'm not done yet.

How you do anything is really how you do everything.  I shoot from the heart.

A Week

Sunday wakes slowly and stretches languidly before remembering the week ahead.  She runs around, picking up and preparing for the busy jaunt that will come quickly. She rests when she can because it's still her day off.  With kids. Is there such a thing? She'll contemplate that after she puts away the drill and adds anchors to her shopping list. She pulls cobwebs out of her hair after reorganizing the storage shed and re homes spiders (not black widows, they get a rubber mallet funeral) and beetles that land where they didn't belong.  She sips coffee throughout the day but it's always just a little too sweet.

Monday is all business.  She rises promptly and falls into routine like a drill sergeant.  The hot water of a morning shower forces her awake.  Her bark gets the boys up because it's time to face their week too.  She sends them off with a call for "good choices," and drives on to start a work week with eager excitement.  She loves what she does.  She walks in confidence to her desk, sending a sleeping computer into running order.  She cracks her own whip and smiles at naughty adventures she can still taste in fading memories. After her coffee, she'll hold a mug of hot tea in prayerful supplication.  She likes her green tea unsweetened, her black with cream, and everything else with raw sugar.

Tuesday knows she has to get up and get the boys out but she begs for 5 more minutes before she remembers they are her 5 minutes to take. She flows into the routines of the week, taking advantage of a street cleaning threat that hovers over the clock, knowing they'll get out before parking enforcement will make it to her block.  She passes the demand of responsibility onto the threat of a ticket because she wants to be forceful but rely on someone else's authority. She gets tired of being on her own when it comes to parenting the boys. She eases into routines that Monday started and she'll be thankful for that bore's easy organization because the reality of Tuesday's morning is the product of Monday evening and the boys shifting back into a school week is torture for all involved.  She loves the crunch of sugar snap peas and salted popcorn.  She likes a brisk walk to 7-Eleven for Green Apple or L'Orange Perrier and will enjoy the smiles she receives when doing it.

Wednesday is a hoppy rabbit with excitement for the evening.  The boys go back to their Dad and Wednesday has a taste for shenanigans.  She spends her day in dreams of the ocean and performers that wrap music around them with their goatees and easy to watch physiques.  Their smiles whisper of naughty adventure, and she understands the language they speak. She has tasty visions of the things she would do with a boy like that but she knows the rest of the week knows regret in the morning feels like spit warmed over and swallowed back down.  She is a randy whore that likes to look but has little interest in touching.  She feels the eyes of strangers and it feels like warmth and lowered inhibitions.  She goes home alone and sings love songs to herself.  That feels good.  Enough.  It feels good enough.  She likes an Apple Martini that tastes more like an Apple Blow Pop than something sour and foul.

Thursday is a teenager.  She wakes up alone and will go to sleep alone.  She'll make herself eggs for dinner one week and coq au vin the next.  It's not hard to convince her she deserves a night on the town and she will sometimes end up at a table for one where she will scribble in a notebook or laugh at her phone.  She likes a Scooby-Snack at a bar, but she will chase it with water because she has never met a hangover she could be friends with. She doesn't worry about who might be watching her because she is comfortable and doesn't really care.

Friday is a happy girl.  She loves waking up and heading to work and she'll find any excuse to stop at a store before she settles in for the last day of the work week. She is either planning a long weekend at home with the boys, or she's planning a night of debauchery.  She likes putting on something short and low cut, but the other girls always chime in and demand she dial it back a bit. She is someone's mom and she should try to be considerate of what that means, even if she is redefining what it means.  But maybe her butt isn't all that impressive and could be made into less of a main attraction. She'll sip a Cape Cod, but has a taste for a Bloody Mary from time to time as well.

Saturday makes an appearance throughout the week.  She insists on doodling in notebooks and sitting under trees on a lunch break.  She blows bubbles with a wand she keeps in her car for traffic.  She once made them stop for a cigar to relive their youth and she insisted the unfinished stogie was worth it but everyone else knows it wasn't. She's been known to serenade her boys, getting them used to the idea of someone singing to them directly.  She sings alone at work because it makes her happy but she might also be trying to convince the world she might be a little bat shit crazy. The idea of being offbeat amuses her. Every phrase is "shit" or "awesomesauce" because she doesn't do anything that would fall in between. There are no shades of gray when the world is so rosy colored.  She has a sweet tooth but no one else does.  The stash is for her but everyone else insists sugar snap peas are just as good as Peanut M&M's and Perrier is better than soda.  She's not buying it, but she adds all the cream to their coffee so it tastes like candy.  She has projects around the house that wait until it's a weekend at home with the boys, or she has a list of places she can't wait to explore. She's never idle and loves her own company, so anyone that wants to join her had better be damn special.  She doesn't put up with anyone that isn't. And she doesn't give second chances, but the rest of the week does. She accepts it but will slam a Purple Hooter Shot, their whiny complaints ignored on the rare occasions the week will allow a little inebriation.

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.

Gay Bar and Hookah Lounge Shenanigans

It's early Sunday morning and I think I'm still recovering from Friday night.  It sounds much worse than it is. Yes, there was dancing, and my calves and feet have been shooting off painful missives to remind me that I don't exercise, but that's probably more about potassium and I'll have a meeting with some bananas and avocados throughout the week.  I want to learn Bachata one day so my body will just have to suck it up.

Yes there was drinking, but it was a Scooby-Snack followed by a couple of water and lemon slice chasers.  I used to drink until the ground was hard to find while walking, and puking was a natural progression for the night, but I eat wheat when I want to feel like bad choices are trying to kill me.  And it's no longer on purpose.

Then there was the lack of sleep.  Waking up at 6 and spending all day at work (leaving only after it wasn't fun anymore because I love what I do) . . .  Only to go out with fresh makeup and eyes so red they matched my lips and then getting to bed by 3 . . . Then waking up at 7 because my internal clock is evil.  At the same time, I was able to get up, get my pedicure and waxing, take a short hike to the Bat Cave (or Bronson Park), run to the hospital to sit in the ER with my sister and cousin (she's home and fine, we were exhausted), check out the Self-Realization Center in Hollywood, enjoy family time at a late lunch, then fall asleep insanely early, only to wake up and think trolling Facebook was a great idea to mask what looks like insomnia.  On the plus side, I get to give you words and pictures.

I went to The Abbey in West Hollywood. There was a moment where I became a chair.  I was sitting in one, and a boy (not my type) thought I would make a great chair and when his friend called to look for him, he said he wanted to introduce him to his new wife.  I was in a good mood so when a chair opened up within moments, I had him take it.  He wanted to stay, insisting he wasn't that heavy, and I kept it to myself that it really wasn't a selling point.  My cousin wanted a drink and I was ready for water so we left him at the table and for the first time in my life, I said "bye Felicia."  Not actually to him but when we were likely out of earshot. Dating tip: just no.  This whole thing - just don't do it.

So here's where the amazing came in: There was so much love that it flowed around us in glowing embers.  You would think this was the booze because that is the extent of my mind altering (exhaustion doesn't count because that can make a person crabby), but there was this loving flow that is beyond words.  I mean, you walk in and once you get past the idea of the dancers gyrating for cash in their underwear, there is a really friendly vibe in the gay community.  There were so many beautiful and friendly people.  Gay, straight, bi-sexual, transgendered, young, really old, obvious sugar daddies with their sugar babies . . . Just having a great time and not at all angry.

We danced, we watched.  We talked to the dancers.  We swooned at the accent on the cute ginger that did that thing where he twerked his tush in mid air above us.  We checked out guys because we have the same taste in men and both love watching because our standards are really high for the actual introductions and touching.  There is so much safety in knowing I was surrounded by beautiful men that had no interest in me, whatsoever.  As we walked through the club, we would stop and tell these men how beautiful they were.  I was included in so many group hugs.  It was a really different feel from my creepy moments of looking at strangers while driving and saying, "Hi" in my best Stitch (Lilo and Stitch) voice, or "You're beautiful," and "thank you for what you are doing for me right now." And my more aggressive moments of actually saying that with the windows down so I might be heard.  That only happens when I'm feeling more out of control and my behavior matches my inner destruction.  I see it, and taking note means I must change it.

We left the club and walked arm in arm, continuing to tell men they were beautiful.  I got these really great hugs.  It wasn't about trying to get a number or take someone home.  It was about seeing someone's beauty.  It was about telling him (and a few hers) that they were beautiful.  We liked their dress.  Their hair made me happy.  It wasn't for an exchange.  It was just an offering and it felt good.  There were lots of smiles and beautiful people.

We left for Cafe Dahab in West LA where people around us were enjoying their hookah and playing card games.  The food was amazing.  I'm convinced they toast their garbanzos or sesame seeds to give their hummus that smokey flavor.  It was more than roasted garlic and it was amazing.  It was a sensory meal where I just savored every bite, with eyes closed.  It was the crunch of falafels covered in creamy hummus and garlic sauce.  Their chicken kabobs were tender and juicy and the company was terrific.  We had deep conversations about life and love and goals. Never underestimate cousin time.  He was the biggest blessing of my day.

I spent Friday night with a gay man that wears makeup and every once in awhile, a dress.  We went to a restaurant and were surrounded by Muslim Arabs with beautiful hijabs and perfect eye makeup.  I spent my Saturday morning hiking with a Muslim woman and her beautiful son.  Then spent part of my afternoon in the Self-Realization Center in prayer and meditation while I worried for my sister. Then I explored and took pictures.  When I was little I would watch the news and felt so much fear and hate for Muslims and the gay community.  My parents watch the news and when I was little I watched news about terrorist attacks and the gay community and HIV. I no longer watch the news and have no idea what is going on in the world unless it's something that is so large that it's jumping out through my social media feeds. Then I can search for details I want. I'm far too empathetic and will cry with a mother I've never met and will never know.  And of course what the bible says about Muslims and homosexuality and anything else you could imagine has always colored my views in ways I'm continually striving to alter. This is what healing looks like.  This is understanding that all lives matter and this is what living it out looks like in my life.  It feels good too.  The best part is my weekend isn't over and neither is my story.

These Hands

These hands have dug in fresh soil and planted tiny seeds.  They have watered thirsty seedlings, weakened by the sun and pulled weeds determined to steal their care.  They have scrubbed bare feet that wiggled in freshly turned soil and crusted in dry earth and chipped nail polish. These hands have snipped fresh herbs from the garden because there is magic in them.  They picked out ingredients in the grocery store.  They've washed and chopped and seasoned to taste . . . They've crafted a meal laced with love and a little booze.  My sons ate their food in silent tribute without a moment to savor the flavors these hands carefully balanced.

These hands have prepared needles and plunged them deep in flesh during seven IVF cycles to bring life to families I don't see anymore.  They have carefully measured and filled hormones in oil and given self administered scar tissue and knots under flesh that wasn't prepared to house the medications that forced a life where there wasn't one.

These hands have cradled a growing womb, caressing and loving children that were loved profoundly from the moment their existence was known.  They have tapped back at kicking limbs and pushed back on rolling turns as a growing child sought comfort in confined spaces.

These hands have changed diapers that painted on canvases of infant backs and ruined onesies with mustard consistency.  They have caught vomit before the projectile ruined furniture. They have burped babies that couldn't do it on their own with a spit up payment of spoiled milk.  They have spoon fed baby food and fought exploring tongues that pushed their food out instead of helping them swallow it down.  These hands have cooled burning flesh in cooled bath water while being covered in the smell of sickness breathed out by weak children like dragon's fire.

These hands have held children close to my heart, in unconditional love and loving abandon.  They have rocked them to sleep and brushed their hair with gentle back scratches.  They have held open books as voices were changed between characters.  They have held little hands and taught them how to knead dough that's baked into the sweet aromas of yeast and sugar.  They have taken pictures of children singing and laughing and learning through exploration.  They have felt the soft and tender flesh of a newborn.

These hands have written love letters and careful explications.  They have used pen and pencil, keyboards, and crayons to tell the secrets of my heart.  They have erased and backspaced and scrapped the old to make room for something new.  They have filled out applications and completed documentation because autism moms have to paper tiger through life.

These hands have held other hands.  They have found solace in connection and traced the lines of faces meant to be memorized visually, and tactilely.  They have rested on firm chests with racing hearts.  They have tickled and teased through hair and on dampened skin, sticky with the wonders of a life in motion.  They have felt the sensations of pleasure I've known in the touch of another and they have granted sensory joy in careful exploration.

These hands can use a hammer and drill.  They have dug holes and laid new plumbing. They have repaired electrical outlets. They have replaced vanities and changed tires.  They have picked up dead animals and nurtured small ones to health.  They have scrubbed floors on hands and knees and washed dishes that no one ever notices.  They scrub toilets and bathtubs and take the trash out.  They carry large bags of dog food and cat food and bottled water because I don't trust my pipes.

These hands have been manicured and cared for.  They have been dried out by frequent washing in scalding water.  They have been massaged and neglected.  They have known callouses from the uneven bars in gymnastics, and weights, and garden tools with yard work and bare hands.  My knuckles have known the sting of flesh punched off of bony fingers.  They have healed into hardened scabs that eventually lost all memory of their trauma.  They have soothed me when stressed by picking at scabs or with bitten nails, and picked at cuticles.  These hands are sensitive.  These hands are mine.

Stretching Past My Grungies

I'm a firm believer that things happen in the time and order that they are meant to. There is a process to life and at times when chaos makes me want to control every outcome I am learning that I need to fully trust the process. Each lesson in life has a meaning meant to unfold and stretch who we are into who we will become.  We are prepared for what will come. I've written briefly about a personal development seminar I attended called "Basic" and taught by Mastery in Transformational Training. It was perspective shifting in the best possible way.

Hugs

I've always been a hugger.  I believe hugs are meant to hold us up and hold us together. I've also believed that if you don't feel comfortable hugging someone, then don't because there is such a thing as a bad hug.  What the class taught me was to see each person as a unique and beautiful person, independent of what I might be able to receive from them.

Relationships

The class had some exercises that focused on parent child relationships.  During one exercise, I was so moved by how open the men in the group were.  There was transparency and vulnerability.  It was beautiful and powerful and I found myself weeping with the emotion I was witnessing and swept away in.  I left the class and finally saw my mother with clarity, and love and appreciation.  I gave her a hug that explained the intricacies weighing and moving in my heart when I saw her.  It was powerful.

Choice and Interpretation

The class taught me how to shift my focus in terms of the past.  We're given disappointments and broken agreements in life.  This class helped me see that a shift in my interpretation could help me adjust my focus and find that I don't need to fugue through sorrows when I can learn and grow through them.

My Perspective Shift

I left the class with a determination to eventually take the next class.  This next class is the Advanced class.  My ideal was to take the class in September because my kids would be in school and it would fill my 5 day kid free weekend.  It was what was in my head.  I've been watching the community online and I've been so encouraged by the continual growth I've been honored to witness.

Life is full of surprises and I'm still guilty of poor planning.  I anticipated the class but forgot about a family vacation and back to school shopping.  When I was meeting with one of my really great friends last night, we talked about the ways the Advanced class would stretch me and make me uncomfortable.  I told her how I needed to wait until I was ready and she told me what I often say to people thinking about having kids

There is never a perfect time and things will always come up, but life is amazing in the way things will always fall into place.

This friend knows details about my separation I don't often share.  She knows how hard it was when my ex first left and I was struggling for groceries.  I didn't ask for help but it always showed up right when I needed it.  I understand the value of receiving a gift, but have always had a hard time with asking for help.

We looked at dates farther out and they would fall on weekends when I have my kids.  This September class is the one I was committed to and she helped me see it is the only real option, but to get there, I needed to ask for help.  I promised I would start a Go Fund Me by Tomorrow night but I chose to do it before bed.  It wasn't easy for me, but if you would like to support, or just read more of my words, you can find it here.

If you would like to check out the class (and I highly recommend it), check them out here.

 

 

 

Vision Boarding

I don't actually have a vision board yet, but I'm working on one.  I'm in the exploring phases and trying to figure out what a meaningful life looks like to me. I've been walking through that in the last year.  It looks like setting and reaching goals, beach trips, strolling through museums, and dating myself. It looks like patience with my kids, that reaches far past my own exhaustion.  It looks like being inspired and inspiring others.  It looks like examining what I feel I should do, compared to what I am actually doing, and deciding how to shift my shoulds into actuals so that I'm happy with what I'm getting done and feeling productive about it. It looks like deep love and great hugs.  I could use more hugs, quite honestly.

I'm thinking of what a good life is to me.  I'm imagining what makes life worth living. I want to know what will matter on my deathbed and what I will be remembered for, and is it what I want to be remembered for?  It's reframing my relationship with money.  I want to control my wealth, and I don't want the pursuit of it to control me.  I want to do and give and be. I want to embody leadership, and be the person that helps others grow.  I want a life so creative that my expectancy doesn't know what it means to have a dream too big. If it's a dream, size doesn't matter, does it?

I believe in acting like I love myself.  That means I speak like I love myself.  Mainly I write like I love myself.  It takes more courage to say it, and even more to do it.  At the end of the day, I'm proud of the fact that I really do move, eat, speak, and act like I love myself.  I'm proud of the person I am because it's become important to me to see that I can do epic stuff daily.

I'm Nicer Than I Want To Be

I like to say I'm not a nice person, but I really am, and I will try my best to own that.  I like to think I'm mean to others in an effort to put myself first, but telling someone they have a really cute kid that I really can't see because my contact lenses are misbehaving doesn't make the cruelty cut, does it?  It presents itself as a kindness because in reality, it could have been an ugly kid and I would have lied if it really was an ugly kid.  It's not a stretch to imagine I would have been lying. I'm not a fan of the way newborns look.  They look like they have been beaten up by a uterus for a day and swimming in their own pee for several months. They're swollen and wrinkled and boring, except when they cry.  Give them a few weeks and they start to look kinda cute, but there's a good chance that the features you had to grow into will be a curse on your children too. They are to mine. They are cute only because they are little and new and there's something magical about the innocence and purity of never having committed any offense (except the cries of a miniature dictator that can't wait for you to wake up on your own).

I haven't been on a date with anyone other than my sons in months.  I can't tell you when my last date was because it wasn't worth remembering.  I stopped dating when I deleted my dating profiles. I've had other offers but I wasn't interested. I shared lunch with someone at work, but spent the time talking about my ex, and later realized I was trying to sabotage the date because I haven't talked about him as much before or since that lunch date.

Dating means I often get frustrated and feel angry because I'm more than a body with a smile.  There is usually a man that isn't ugly, though he's rarely beautiful, and he wants to get to know me.  It's about the third response from him that suggests he wants to get me to his place, half naked, and drinks involved.  It's a pool or jacuzzi I just have to see.  It's a movie where we sit in silence and he wants to see how far his hands can roam. It's a home cooked meal I should taste.  It's a bar around the corner from his house and a safe place to crash if I can't drive.  It's a back rub that would melt away my stress.  There's a knowing excitement when I say I don't really drink.  They tease out that I do drink on occasion but can't handle my liquor and it means I'm a cheap date and it won't be too expensive to loosen me up.  So I go out alone or with my sons and find peace in solitude because I'd rather be alone than on defense all night. I'd rather listen to the thoughts in my mind than be irritated with the crap that most men see as insightful banter.

I realized today that I really am a nice person, even if I don't want to be at times.  Well, it was when a woman told me that blocking stupid men is what any woman would do that I realized I'm nicer than I think I am. When someone treats me like I'm desperate and lonely, I want to tell them they aren't beautiful enough to be a jerk, but I don't. I just block them.  When the guitarist / skater kept reminding me of Beavis and Butthead, I didn't tell him I couldn't date an idiot, I just told him we weren't a good fit, and later I told him I wanted more than he was willing to offer, even though I knew I didn't want any of what he had.  I almost gave him a pity date but realized I owed more to myself than I did to him.

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What it comes down to is that I will take a lot before I ever dish it out because I know what it means to hurt and I don't enjoy hurting others.  Even when I attacked the ex, I wasn't happy that I hurt him.  I was excited that I finally defended myself.  I later felt pity because he had never had my abuse and I wasn't sure he could handle it.  (Emasculating him was always unintentional, even just now.) I may have wanted to throat punch him for the times I was expected to cook for him, clean up after him, then be his groupie, but I never expressed anything but love for him and irritation at the housework.  I never directed my rage at him when he made me angry.  It often looked like taking it out on the kids or animals.  It looked like hiding in books. Now it looks like I need a timeout and I sit alone and focus on breathing and slow movements until I calm down enough because I can usually remember that I want to be the mom my kids deserve which is not the mom I usually feel like being.

I say I want to be fierce and angry and I want to direct my rage outside of myself, but I rarely do.  When I do attack, I aim to hurt and dig intentionally.  It's a surgical strike and I won't waste words.  I won't call names without aiming at weaknesses, and I will have spent long enough taking insults to observe weaknesses and I will use what was left at my disposal.  When I'm done, I will replay the situation in my mind, and hope that the guilt will be drowned out by the exhilaration of defending myself. For the most part, it's far easier to let it go.

I call on that baby duck.  A momma duck is insane.  She will go after you if you approach her babies.  A baby duck is so busy learning to swim, they don't care about the water sliding off of their back.  I'm a baby duck.

I can listen and it might bother me for a few hours, or even a day, but I melt into the peace that comes when I realize I don't have to live in the hate that was thrown at me. I'm not drowning in anger and trying to bail it out on others. I can choose my reaction and to be able to love openly and freely and unconditionally, in spite of the microaggressions and assaults at my expense is a gift.  I might want to be mean but at my core I know being nice and having that be who I am and what I express daily is a gift.

I'm snarky, and I have moments I'm not proud of, but I can be proud of being nice in spite of the mean that looks like funny to me.  Inside my head is all kinds of fun.

 

 

 

 

 

Bottled Bruises

I'd bottle the bad and toss it out to sea if it meant that through my eyes, all that can be seen is shaded with the freedom of interpretation. Actions wouldn't be the feigned responsibility of reciprocity but the intentionally unconditional offer of first fruits and selfless grandeur.

I would wake up daily. I would see what is to be seen and I would stop drifting casually and aimlessly. I've stopped waiting for life to happen as my life is a daily choice and open expectation. I expect responsibility for my choices.

These old scars are being packed in a glass bottle and I'll cork it up and wax it down and live out what I breathe in. I will be what I am being.

I get what it means to see that I am.

Music

The students that took the Advanced class after our Basic class together through Mastery in Transformational Training had their graduation Sunday night and I witnessed the LP class graduation after it. One of the students that graduated was a young man that was in my class and I went to support him.  I'm so proud of him.  The room was full of people that seemed to have a new outlook on life and they embodied love.  It was beautiful. During the graduation, my adopted son couldn't see who was surrounding him as he was singing a group chant with closed eyes.  We were asked to join in and as I stood in front of him with his eyes closed, I began singing with him and to him and I could see the immediate joy on his face from the recognition of my voice affirming what he was imprinting on himself.  There was so much emotion in the voices lifted in solidarity. I don't remember what we sang, but I remember how humbling yet fiercely powerful it felt to be in that room. Just the night before I was preparing to go to a music festival and as I sat in my car, I couldn't ignore the fact that I'm really not a fan of live music.  The first time I heard a live recording of Mariah Carey singing, "I'll Be There" I was sad.  It wasn't as perfect and to me it wasn't as beautiful.  I don't want to hear crowds cheering.  I want to hear the songs that wash me in memories and nostalgia, not songs that are only performance. I have all kinds of weird about concerts and I accept that.

Last week while on the way to the beach with a carload of kids, they listened to songs they found on YouTube.  I loved listening to them sing together and even joined in on the parts I knew.  I love having music I love playing on iTunes, but that means I don't know any new music and I can be lost when listening to the radio. I've talked about music before. Briefly.  I talked about removing my ex's music from my iTunes because the things we stop sharing hold so much significance in this post and when I finally did it, I wrote this.  It kinda paid off on the car ride to keep his music because my son was in the car with me and asked if he could play it.  It was in my iTunes.  It was available and I was able to be the parent my son needed and at least pretend that the sound of his voice wasn't irritating me.

I enjoy new music being played live.  I love being a private audience.  It's an honor to be the first to hear someone's heart bleed so beautifully and privately.  I've enjoyed jazz music in bars and clubs . . . Once upon a time.  Music that's way too loud for the sake of being music and not an excuse to dance bothers me.

My ex's rap music was a different.  His music came with days and nights being home alone with the kids.  It meant he was in the studio and might be drinking and spending the night out and my knowledge that the studio often had strippers hanging out. His rap was my abandonment and rap in general makes me feel like less of a person because according to the rap I grew up with, I'm a body and a bitch and nothing more.

A couple of weeks ago during my Basic class I was in the middle of several group hugs.  I'm a hugger so it was bliss, but I took that moment as an opportunity to serenade the people that were in the center of our group hug.  Music was playing and I was close enough that these people could hear me sing to them and I did.  It wasn't about performance but an offering of the deepest part of me and it was my way of showing them that they are beautiful to me.  Toward the end, there were several people singing along with me and the camaraderie resonated in all of us.

In high school singing was about performance to me.  Singing a solo on stage from Les Miserable in high school was about belting it out and being seen.  It was about attention and being popular.  I kept trying and it was years later when I would run into strangers that remembered me that I really felt like I was trying too hard because I was already there for other people. Singing in church wasn't about worship.  I wanted to be seen and heard and I was way too concerned with how I looked or what it sounded like.  Now it's about offering who I am for the gift of what parts of themselves they've given me. It's about playing music that I love and singing while looking at my kids, or grabbing hands for playful impromptu dancing sessions.  It's expression.  It's love.  It's joy.

There is always music in my home and my heart.  It can help me develop a deeper emotional moment or curb a bout of sadness.  It gets me through traffic with loud singing and driver's seat dancing and classical music is what I write to when I'm crafting or writing more than how I feel or what I think. It was an amazing weekend and a terrific Monday.  Right now my soundtrack is super happy and upbeat and on my way home there will be singing. Loudly and purposely off key.