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Category Archives: love

It starts at the Marrakech Grill…


“What DO you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” It’s the same question my husband has asked me for years. Only this time, I have an answer. I hesitate before speaking, though, and think about how to respond.20160116_121227.jpg

We are at the Marrakech Grill in Denver, and I am on the hunt for the Happy, Fat, and Full. Those are three words that have become important to me. I don’t use them to describe my belly. I use them to describe my overall well-being. The short word would be BLISS. If I am happy, fat, and full in the wallet, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full in my marriage, I can relax. If I am happy, fat, and full spiritually, I can relax.

The Happy, Fat, and Full means I can enjoy the moment.

I look down at my plate and start the mini ritual that makes up my meal. Thinking of the salad scene in the Barbara Streisand movie, “The Mirror Has Two Faces”, I skewer the tender bite of Shish Kebab chicken on my fork. Then I add a bit of green pepper for balance and crunch. Next, I lightly skim the bite through the tzatziki sauce. Lastly, I plop it on the mound of Saffron rice, picking up several grains, to make THE PERFECT BITE. I bring it to my lips and… MMMM… it is.

The Perfect Bite. 

Munch Munch Munch. Chew Chew Chew. My husband watches me through this ritual, like he always does, with amusement and patience. He knows I am stalling, and he knows I know he knows. Twenty-four years of partnership is a good start to getting to know each other’s habits, I guess. He takes a bite of his own food, Chicken Shawarma with Basmati Rice, and seems content to wait me out. I swallow and start talking. “I want to write on purpose. With purpose, I guess. I want to be a travel writer.” My husband swallows, takes a swig of his Coke, and says simply, “About dang time.”

And it is.

For twenty-four years he has asked me what I wanted to do, or be, when I grew up, and at first I thought he was just teasing me. I mean, what else could I be, other than a mom and a wife? I had started off early with those two things on my resume, and had become resigned. Eighteen years old early, to be exact. But even before that, I didn’t have a clue what I wanted to be. The closest I got was knowing I wanted to travel. I wanted to see the world.

pic of grantsvilleGrowing up in a small town had given me a taste for solving the mystery of what it was like Somewhere Else. Anywhere Else, actually. My parent’s library painted pictures of rain-forests on misty mountains, and gently lapping waves on a sandy, palm tree-laden islands. I wanted to see everything in reality. Up close and personal-like, and it all started outside of my small town.

But how to start? It just seemed a bit overwhelming.

My older sister got out to see the world. She was an exchange-student in France, and then a nanny back east, and I admired that. I didn’t like her when she left. We fought a lot growing up. But when she came back, she was different. She talked differently. She walked differently. She dressed differently. She was calm, and confidant. She seemed happy and… content.

I wanted that.

So I decided to be a nanny as well. In spite of my dislike for children. Uh… yeah. I, at 18, had no desire to be around children. And may I just give a big ‘ol apology to the kids I babysat, and also to their parents? No, nothing bad happened while on my watch. No, your kids weren’t monsters. No, I didn’t neglect them. I just didn’t know what to DO with them. So they played with board games or watched TV, and I watched them play, kept ’em safe, and looked at the clock. I had no clue how to engage with them. Mediocre, for sure.

new born baby ultrasoundImagine my surprise, then, when I picked up a permanent babysitting job. My own child. Karma started early, I believed, so I cancelled the nanny job I had lined up in Washington D.C., right after graduating high school, and began the adventure of motherhood. No regrets, whatsoever, for my son. He is 23 years old now and an amazing guy. Four sons and one daughter has given me quite a journey. However, my husband would ask that question every once in a while, and it would make me wonder.

He would usually ask while I was changing a diaper or feeding someone. And I would usually return the question with a withering look or a bark of a laugh. Being a mom and a wife was my life. My journey. My adventure. It’s all I had time for.

Right?

Well, as I finished my delicious food in the beautiful atmosphere of the Marrakech Grill with the love of my life, I looked back at my adventure. I realized how much I had hidden my head in the sand when it came to his question. “What do you want to be when you grow up, Shar?” This was a question I secretly shied away from. Because deep down, I wanted nothing more than to be out exploring as much of the world as I could get to. And that did not include me being in one spot, watching everyone else experience their life while I was “The Heart Of The Home”.

I didn’t feel like the heart of a home. It seemed ludicrous for me to play that role, actually. Especially starting out at 18 years old. I was to be in charge of prepping the place for others to enjoy. I was the warden, the custodian, the support group, and the clean-up crew for the family, of which I had created and which had come out of my loins, so they could learn, be safe, and grow.

Ludicrous!

I wanted to explore the world, but did not allow myself to think about exploring, because that would be the opposite of responsible. And it became supremely important to be responsible. In fact, it became everything. All consuming. I had to show others, and myself, that I could be a grown up. So I did. I did it the best way that I could, pulling on whatever lessons and experiences I had at 18. I learned along the way.

Spoiler Alert: It Got Good.

Looking back, the journey got intense. Many times. But, along with the intensity came this: THE LOVE. THE COMPANIONSHIP. THE BONDS. I hadn’t counted on that. I don’t know why. I mean, I had heard so many times in my community that the calling of motherhood was the highest calling there was. A huge blessing. I just never believed them, while I was having back labor,  fainting with every pregnancy and earning bed rest. I didn’t recognize the blessings while cleaning up toys and books and dinner and kids faces for the umpteenth time in one day. imageI surely didn’t see any while holding a crying infant as my two-year-old screamed bloody murder at a Wal-Mart, with so many of those same community mothers looking on disapprovingly. I didn’t count on the blessings of love, because I was busy babysitting. Nevertheless, the bonds between my kids and husband grew.

That bond grew between those kids and I, in spite of the chaos that is motherhood. As they grew up, my adventure became less about being on the hunt for sleep and privacy, and more about individual memories where they would play the piano with me, or dance around with abandon while I played it. Or sharing jokes and stories while we drove around, going from scouts to camps to play dates.

Eventually, I knew what to do with these kids. I stopped babysitting, and started mothering. And it got good. Along with being responsible and in charge all the time, the good stuff canceled out the heartaches. I think it still does. So now, my journey of motherhood will not stop, if I start writing and traveling while I do it. It will just be a different role: Empowerment Coach. “Yes, it is about time, Husband.”  In the Marrakech Grill, I have found my Happy, Fat, and Full.20160116_121213.jpg

 

 

New place, New moment.


“Ya know something good about being old? Ya just don’t care anymore. You’re lucky, Mom. KBYEEE!”dropping off L. at school in slippers I still remember this sentence coming from my sweet seven-year-old’s mouth, and at the time I was horrified because I knew exactly what he was talking about. He had decided, based on my unkempt presence that day, that I was old enough to not care if I wore shoes or slippers, or even day-time clothes to take him to school. (I had also forgone the bra and makeup that hectic morning, which just made it worse.) He hugged me quickly, jumped out of the car, and thought no more about it.

I went home and ate some chocolate.

That was during my chaotic time as a stay-at-home mom of three boys, one husband, and a household to boot. It was when Elementary School and the ultimate homemade lunch was all consuming for me. Shoulds ruled my life. I SHOULD be a part of PTA. I SHOULD be a better cook/wife/mom/container gardener/scrapbook-er. I SHOULD be put together, somehow. I would SHOULD all over myself regularly, but at least I had my youth. I was twenty-seven at the time, and was pree-ty proud of myself for surviving any given day.

I just felt tired constantly, that’s all.

Now L. had no idea he wasn’t complimenting me. There was real admiration in his words that day. All he knew was that I spent time with him each school day approving some semblance of an outfit for him, but lucky me, I got to wing my wardrobe. And that was something to look forward to. It’s been fifteen years since he bounced off to school after dropping that bomb, and it’s taken me until I reached the ripe old age of forty-two to agree with him.

Now L. was talking about clothing choices, but I am thinking of the SHOULDS.

I never did buy in to the PTA. Or scrap-booking. I just let ’em go, somewhere along the line. Probably in my Thirty’s. I worked on being a better mom/wife/container gardener, and I’d say there is good improvement, but room for more. But I have outgrown the SHOULDS, for the most part. They are exhausting, demanding, and unrealistic, and who has room for those things AND uncomfortable bras?

Just sayin.

I say I am now old enough to start loving the skin I’m in. And shoes? I am old enough to be happy with my choice of shoes, slippers or not, no matter who’s looking, but that could just be because my shoes are of a bit better quality now, and therefore comfy. I dunno. Let’s just call ’em investments. But while I am on the subject of age, let’s get to the good stuff. I am old enough to make myself a priority, and it looks like this:

  1. Aloette skin care product lineSkin Care. I’m not talking about using the same lotion my husband uses for his callused feet. Nope. I mean my own stuff. The good stuff. With words like Moisturizing Beads, Soft and Silky Radiance, and Satin-ee Serum. (I am not doing the Plumpers, Pouty-Faces, or Lashes-For-Miles. Let alone Age-Defying anything. I’m no Betty White, for crying out loud.)
  2. crab-legsCrab legs. Spiders of the sea. Bottom Dwellers. Whatever you wanna call em, I’m a fan, and I am old enough now to splurge a bit for a lunch or three. I frequent Joe’s when I want to sit in the sun by myself, open up my laptop and write in peace and quiet. Scotty the bartender knows me by name, and he knows that when I ask for extra cherries with my Coke, what I ACTUALLY mean is an entire bowl full of cherries. “Because life is like a bowl full of cherries. Maraschino, even.” Scotty says it, and I believe him now.  I tip him well, just for that.
  3. nap with slippersNaps. The greatest part about being old enough for my kids to get themselves up and out the door for school/work is my naps. KA-CHOW, SUCKAHS! While my kids are out using their boundless youth for things like curling luscious teen-age hair for hours on end, or screwing up their 20’s with rash decisions, I am watching them walk out the door with glee, just to book it back upstairs to climb into my very soft, very luxurious bed. With a push of a button, I enjoy a massage at zero gravity while listening to the sounds of ocean waves from Alexa, the electronic robot that husband ordered from Amazon.
  4. bliss-out-yoga-pose-vivian-neoFinding my bliss. I know, I know. My kids and my husband are my bliss. They are, actually. But I have time, now, to enjoy a hobby/job/cause that brings me joy in addition to them, and so I hone my education and skills at being a Financial Coach, renew my annual pass at the Rec Center for Deep Water Aerobics where I am the youngest one in the class, and Write about whatever the heck makes me smile or cry.
  5. lady cryingCrying Whenever I Darn Well Please. Nope, I don’t turn away if my kids come in the door. Or my husband. Or a stranger. I’ve been through some SSS….tuff. I’ve earned the right to be authentic, and nuts to whomever feels uncomfortable about it. I went a lot of years pretending that “It is no big deal”. Whatever the deal was, it was imperative that I didn’t upset the kids. Or anyone else. Well, that phase is done, and they all have big kid panties they can put on. I know, because I gave them as Christmas gifts.

You will notice that cooking classes have not made it onto my list.

So now I am older than 27, and I found 7 gray hairs last week alone. I pulled them out immediately, of course, as I’m not ready to be Betty White, but I realize that I am more fine with them than I was before. I think it is because I simply didn’t know that it could get good. Getting older, I mean. I didn’t really think that becoming a little calmer, wiser, happier, and having a little fatter pocketbook could balance out the start of wrinkles and gray hair, along with a few more lady lumps.

In the youthful years, I did not take into consideration the look that so many parent’s of 20-something’s have on their faces. I didn’t recognize that small, knowing, smile that the oldsters would give me as I passed them in the halls of church, or in a park, or at a store. I thought those faces were smiling at me because they envied my youth and ability to keep it together at 4 pm, in spite of having 3 boys, a stroller, and a dog as my entourage.

Nope. Not even close.

Those 40- and 50-something parents couldn’t care less that I had water bottles for hydration, snacks that were organic, and that I had just managed to have my oldest son hold on to the pet leash AND his terror of a younger brother without having an all-out brawl. In fact, they probably glazed right over the drama and smiled simply because they knew that once I survived that part, I could partake in what they were on their way to do: Go have a conversation that had nothing to do with kids or bills. It was an encouragement smile, tinged with just a bit of relief that they didn’t have to get involved. It was a placeholder smile, just waiting for me and my entourage to move past them so they could high-five each other and say, “We’re out of that phase! Hallelujah!” and then head on over to find something to do that had nothing to do with surviving the day.

Who knew that was an option? I certainly did not, as I let L. out of the car that day so many years ago. It was a hope, but not a certainty, all vague and foggy, and as I learned that I was no longer as young as a youth, it let me start revving up for the good part. The Today’s.

I’m older, sure. But not old. Old, I have decided, is just about 20 years older than I am at any given moment. And when I am Betty White old, maybe I will look to change my passion to acting.

And then they can make a Bobble-head of me, too.betty white bobblehead doll preview

 

 

 

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There’s The Wedding, and Then There’s The Wedding…


There is going to be a wedding.

The question was asked. The answer was given. The status change happened on Social Media. It’s gonna happen. I couldn’t be happier for them. I mean, what isn’t awesome about the opportunity for a stellar day dedicated to a fantastic couple, right? The decor and food, the people and gifts, the love and the toasts and the vows and the dresses and the pictures and…and…

Wait. WHAT?

What was that one word? VOWS? Oh. That’s right. The Vows. The part of the wedding that is, after all, the point of the wedding. The MARRIAGE part of the wedding. Well. There is the wedding, and then there is The Wedding.

Look. I don’t want to get all preachy. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer. I don’t want to… blah blah blah (cue all the other politically correct sayings that preclude me softening the blow of what I am going to say anyway)… but what I will say is something I wish I had listened to a long time ago. Like 24 years ago, to be exact.

It is this: The Wedding is, first and foremost, a WEDDING of two souls. A blending and a taking on of each other’s lives. So take it seriously. It is a commitment for two people who were (up until this point) just hanging out together and enjoying each other’s company, to become one team.  Like, One Team, One Dream, baby. A well-oiled machine. And that takes commitment, yo. Intention with commitment and time.

Oh.

And before you decide to bring up the “I have to be me/I need my own space” debate, let me stop you right there. It would be pointless to have a clone of yourself, or the other person. Dur. So that’s not what I mean. I am talking about stacking the deck in your favor. When people go from being single to being married, they are forming a different entity. They are merging their lives, their beliefs, their traditions, their finances, their family and friends and habits and CREATING SOMETHING NEW. Something more than they were before. Now listen up. I didn’t say something INSTEAD of what they are. I said something MORE. That means you get to be you, AND you get to have more of what you want. It is an enhancement package. You get to be a team.

That is something to celebrate, for sure.

Now being part of a team means bringing each person’s strengths to the table, so to speak. It is laying out the strengths and weaknesses honestly, and saying, “Look. We have a goal. In order to accomplish this goal, we’re going to need every idea, talent, intuition, and resource we can get, so here is what I have.”  In a marriage, by the way, the goal is to love, learn, grow, and have joy…TOGETHER. To be married because it’s a want-to, not a have-to. So get that “I need me time” crap out of your head right now, because you are automatically assuming you can’t have BOTH personal and married time, and that just sets the expectation that there is never enough. Which is crap.

Kapeesh?

If you can buy in to the wanting to be married, then buy in to the importance of making a marriage a want-to instead of a have-to or a  should. Ya know, “I HAVE-TO be getting home. I SHOULD tell him/her about this. I SHOULD see if I can help. I HAVE TO cook/clean/fix this.” Living in “Should’s and Have-To’s” sucks. Stack the deck, right up front by doing some legwork. So get all of the resources out where you can see them and use them. What do we like to do? What do we not like to do? What will we avoid at all costs? What can we do well without even thinking about it? This would take a meeting, logically. (And if anyone reading this has ever been in a meeting, I need you to quit rolling your eyes. Seriously.)

My husband and I don’t work for the same companies, but we are in meetings constantly. He works with teams a lot. So do I. We both use project-based goals. We both work from home, but work with clients, teammates, and have people we report to. We interact with people both in our home and off-site. There have been large, and I mean LAARRRGGGEE amounts of conference calls, Skype, and in-person meetings between the two of our careers. So please get where I am coming from when I say we have some experience in knowing what makes a pointless or annoying meeting, and what makes a productive, positive, even fun meeting. Basically, it goes like this: A big key to a successful meeting is communication of what roles people play. But an even bigger key is knowing what the point of the meeting is, and sticking to it.

Keeping The Thing The Thing, ya know?

Look, it doesn’t matter who caters the meeting, or where the meeting is, or who runs the meeting. I mean, it makes for a more pleasant meeting to have something to chew on while Bob or Dorkus starts a PowerPoint slide show, and I absolutely pay more attention when my tush is on a cushioned chair instead of a plank of wood or standing in a doorway. But no matter how decadent the setting, if the meeting is not relevant, then my time has been wasted, and so has everyone else’s.

So isn’t it kind of key for two people who want to align their lives, to take some time looking at what is important to each of them? Uh…YA-UHHH! Thus the meeting. The sit-down. The beginning. Anything important and lasting and good takes planning for it, right? A trip. A job. A party. A place to live.

A life.

Alrighty then. Here is where I wish I would have taken this advice. My wedding was my wedding. There were guests. There was a cake and gifts and music and awkwardness and laughter and then…. It was done. I intentionally left out all the describing words because it ended after a day. That part is irrelevant, other than as a memory. Harsh, I know, but the advice I minimized cost me YEARS of frustration, trying to figure out how I could have been taken by surprise when this particular topic came up, or when that particular situation reared its head.

I skipped the legwork.

My husband did not marry the venue. Or the cake. Or my dress. Or the music. But he did marry all of what comes with me. We chose to blend our lives, and that is the good and the bad. The positive and the negative. Which, I am telling you, came as a SHOCK down the line. Now granted, we didn’t live together first. We went from our parent’s homes to our own home, so everything from morning breath and snoring, to attitudes about keeping the house in order, was a new thing.

Those things got worked out, eventually, but there were things that really should have been talked about before we leaped into a committed life together. Things that would have made our lives, and our children’s lives, simpler. Things like…Religion. (GASP!) Life Insurance. (Hand over mouth.) Budgeting. (Ewww.) Parenting Styles. (Well, now that’s just too far.)

Suck it, Propriety.

I regret only a few, few, few things in my life because I deeply feel that the good and bad has made me who I am now, and I worked quite hard to accept and enjoy who I am, but seriously… I would be an idiot not to regret asking the hard questions when it would have made our life easier. We stacked the deck against us in so many ways because of it. I was too enthralled with having a wedding to ponder for long on what the wedding was for. The wedding could have been planned for and executed and thought of later with just as much joy and excitement as it already was, but with a more complete understanding of what to expect, if I had simply spent more time heeding advice to make The Thing the Thing.

The wedding is exciting. The wedding has a lot of magic to it, and should be remembered fondly. But The Wedding Vows… that is a FAN FRIKKIN TASTIC ride. It takes time, and heartaches, and patience and joy and love and loyalty to the team and goal to make it valuable, and it is SO WORTH IT. But for crying out loud, have a meeting first. Take notes. Get some great munchies and a soft place for your butt to go while you do it.

And then….?? Well, then, maybe you both can watch the PowerPoint slide show with the lights dimmed down…

 

Pass The Forgiveness, Please…


imageSomeone gave me cause to use forgiveness in the last little while. Well, two someones. They used my compassion and kindness and trust and took full advantage of it. Poison infected our lives because of it. Uncertainty and heartache came from it, and I am Pissed!

There is a lot of implied power when the word forgiveness comes up. Like a spell from a wand used triumphantly, only after a great quest has been conquered. Or maybe as if it was stumbled upon when digging through an old abandoned chest, and then spoken as a knee-jerk reaction.

I know. I use it every once in a while.

The truth is that if I choose not to use forgiveness, I feel weak. Like I should wave it around to make someone else feel better, whether I feel it or not. “Honey?? Say you’re sorry to your brother.” Tap! You are forgiven. “I’m sure she didn’t mean it.” BRRIIINNNGGG! You are forgiven. “Don’t hold a grudge!  It’s all water under the bridge.” WHACK! I forgive you as well.

A convenient wand for comfort.

The truth is, I hoard it. It is part of keeping my word to myself that I will be true to me. Still, somewhere in the back of my head, I feel selfish. And, I guess I am because I make it my choice how to dole it out.

I giveth and I taketh away…

Sometimes I just put forgiveness on my emotional shelf and wait for a bit. I take that spell of power down, every once in a while, and look at it. I feel it and think about using that power, and then I put it right back where it was, on the shelf of SOMEDAYS. It’s up there with a bottle of “boldness”. It hangs out with bunches of “risk” and bundles of “reckless abandon”. It lies in front of a very dusty packet of “trust”.

I’m using the power of “honesty” today. The honesty that says, “You piss me off. You betrayed my trust and my loyalty. You took advantage of me and you did it on purpose. You suck.” The problem is, it is not socially acceptable. The truth makes others uncomfortable. Like having a stranger talk to you about Jesus right off the bat. Or a neighbor complaining about the dirty homeless problem, and ending the rant with, “Am I right?”. Or having your friend call himself a fat cow when he is overweight. He’s not, but he is expecting to be comforted. They all are looking for justification. Thus, it’s just not polite to be honest.

“And how are you today?”

“Oooo, you look sad. What’s wrong?”

Hug Hug. Pat on the back. “You look like you need a hug…”

The proper response is I’m Fine in each one of those cases, but inside I seethe with, “What’s it to you?” And then comes the weakness. The lack of forgiveness. I could easily forgive them for being oblivious, or using the human form of “I see you and this is my response.” Well, sometimes I forgive, and sometimes I don’t. Chalk it up to the phases of the moon.

That’s a thing. Seriously.

Now, JESUS is what my daughter thinks of when I use the word forgiveness with her. I asked her, and, BAM! simple as that, she knows what it is to unconditionally love and forgive. She is wise. They go together for her. But just so we clear this up, I’m no Jesus. Maybe forgiveness is a compassion of a sort. It is a balm that could give me courage. Which is another potion waaaayyy in the back of that shelf of SOMEDAYS, by the way.

imageAs she reads this, proofreading a bit, and brainstorming a bit, I notice the simplicity in her view. Then she asks, ‘What would happen if you just mixed them all together? Those spells that have a hold over you?” What, indeed… What would come of being bold, and risking with reckless abandon, trusting that forgiveness would give me the courage to become whole again?

It’s comforting in theory, but what about those Jay-Holes that crapped all over my space? They are gone, now, and the chaos is settling down, but still. It’s a choice. Do I stay hurt and wounded? Well, up to this point I had taken down Righteous Indignation from that emotional shelf and sprinkled it liberally from bedroom to kitchen, all the while chanting about their weaknesses and gossiping to whomever would listen. And rightfully so.

Right?

Now, the chanting is old. The words are old. The emotions are old. The story is old. And that’s how I know it is time to put that feeling away. So what do I choose now? I look and look and look over the possibilities. The combinations. The right thing, and you know what?

I think it’s time for a brew. A stew-ee brew.

imageI will throw into my cauldren of life some compassion and kindness for flavor, but use caution and logic as the basics. I’ll sprinkle positivity in for the luck in my life, and a liberal amount of gratitude for the “It could be worse-ness” view. The mix will need to be right, and I will watch it simmer, sometimes impatiently. The flavors should marry. This stew will be the energizing option for me to get on with getting on.  It isn’t chocolate, which is a quick fix as a distraction, but it is good for me.

And now for the power…

Forgiveness will be the bit of bread that I use to dip into the main course, and I’ll try it out.  I’ll look it over to see if it is stale and needs to be replaced with love, or see if it is fresh and can stand on its own. It will be my choice as to how it compliments my need for emotional nourishment. And as long as it adds to the meal, I will look forward to that.

It may need butter to go down smoothly, but then again, what doesnt?

 
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Posted by on August 16, 2015 in Forgiveness, love

 

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Emotional Thermometer Just Hit 90…

Emotional Thermometer Just Hit 90…

imageEmotional Thermometer Reading. These words flow together obtusely like Grass-Roots Movements and Synergistic Management Solutions. (…The haay-elll does that even mean?) I ALMOST know what the definitions are all about, and they sound important and interesting and descriptive, but secretly, I’m wondering what the fancy jargon is all about. Say what you mean, man! I am unsure what the first word has to do with the second part, and feel absolutely sure that the third word is thrown in purely for pomposity sake. It’s obnoxious-speak for I–FEEL-Important, really.  They are terms that fit a niche group. A dialed in group. A Making-A-Diffeence kind of group. I am an outsider, so far. Nevertheless, I have an opportunity to take my emotional thermometer reading.

Um…. here goes.

This month is wrapped around anticipation. English peas come into season at the farmers’ market. I get 20 lbs., and eat only that for a week. Its almost my birthday, not that I admit to aging. The 4th of July is almost here and that means the nation celebrates my birthday with parades and fireworks. It’s Father’s day, and… Oh yeah. It’s Father’s Day. I get to hint and remind my kids to make my husband feel great and celebrate the good that he brings into their lives. There is a dinner, and cards, and laughing, and usually calling him “Old Man”.  But there is also celebrating MY father.

I can’t call him. I can’t write him. There is no card I can send him. I get to just look to the sky and say, “Thanks, dad, for your advice and love.” I don’t like it. I don’t approve. No one asked me if I was ok with him dying, anyway. It sucks. So my emotional thermometer reading for this month is bitter, climbing to tears, and a possibility of a Klondike Bar.What would you do for a Klondike Bar?

I never did get to tell him thanks for listening when I took the plunge and shared the times I was abused growing up. I didn’t convey to him how much it meant that, when I opened up, he didn’t interrupt, or roll his eyes, or look disappointed. He didn’t look shocked, or embarrassed, or uncomfortable at all. He took it in. And then he said he loved me.

But that wasn’t all.

He looked me right in the eye and said, “Now what are you going to do about it?” I wondered if he meant, was I looking for revenge, or what?… but he clarified by saying, “Dot (short for daughter. I now call my own girl Dot, and smile inside), you have been a victim for a very big portion of your life, up to this point. Right now. And now, you have a choice: To stay a victim, or become a survivor. So, which is it?”.

It hit me hard. I had a pretty big chip on my shoulder. A big one. Hurt and anger and shame and mistrust were all bubbled at the surface. But he was asking me, not with derision or judgement, but with love and genuine interest. What did I want to do from here? Live in the past, or choose to move forward?

In that moment, I chose to move forward. It was freeing, right then. He wasn’t about sympathizing and consoling, or vendettas and revenge. He didn’t waste time with that. He held me in the space of strength. I had a choice, from that time forward. Harumphh. This doesn’t mean I forgot. Or even forgave. (I am quite fine with knowing Karma has given 2 of the jerks just what they deserve.) But, I got to let go of their hold on me.

As I take my emotional temperature, I am a bit bitter. He was the good one. The one that didn’t downplay my hurt. He started a partnership with me. And now he is gone, and I have a day devoted to my memories of him, mingled with a bit of childish pouting. I bounce back and forth, wondering why I don’t know how to feel about this holiday. Empty, maybe. I shy away from the why-can’t-I-feel-him-near-me. Shouldn’t I?

pffff…

I googled this term. Emotional thermometer. It’s really about being rated, by a scale of 1-10, on how emotionally upset I am in these areas: Distress, Anxiety, Depression, Anger, and Need For Help.

Well…let’s just see.

Distress – Nope. Not this month. Kind of freeing, actually. Had some good intimacy last night, and feeling mighty fine. No emergency here.

Anxiety – Hell yes, I am anxious. I am in the habit of anticipating when the next memory will pop up. How will I react when I see a white young pompous man in a red hat? Or should I give in and drink the anxiety away? I hear it is therapeutic. I wonder if I think about this stuff, am I just prolonging the pain, or am I needing to process this still, and when the hell will it end? Anxious, yep.

Depression – Nope. No highs and no lows this time. I’m doing well in business, assisting others, learning a lot. In short, I am doing my best to keep busy and serve others. And eat ice cream.

Anger – Well, that is the crux this month.  Do I spend time looking at the sky and pretend I can feel my dad looking down in love or disapproval, while I drum up a tear or two for his memory? Do I do the polite, positive thing and call to wish my mother’s new husband a happy Father’s Day, letting him know inadvertently that I am accepting his role as replacement for the man I have yet to really grieve for? That would be…polite.  Should I swallow what I want to really shout, and instead simply say, “I am glad you two are happy. Enjoy your dinner.”  Now this guy is a great guy. A really good guy. He just isn’t my dad. Period. I should work to make him feel comfortable, right? I mean, Right?? Should I…should I…

Should. Screw that!imageI am so angry!!!

Need For Help – Well, that’s why I’m writing. It is my way of moving past the victim mode and sliding into survivor mode. Hmmm. possibly past that into a healthy life.

So, I’ll watch my husband use a crowbar and knife to open his Man Crate, a Father’s Day gift from me, which is understood by all to be from the kids. I’ll coddle him and honor him for his role, not only in my children’s lives, but as my constant companion in moving forward. He becomes my own focus for a male role model. Happy Father’s Day to him.

For the record, I dumbed down grass-roots movement to mean, simply, “Ordinary or common people, as opposed to leadership of the elite, the govonment parties, and social organizations.” The Basic level challenging the snooty-asses and all that is wrong with the world. Stick it to the man, and here’s a cause worth jumping on the bandwagon for.

As for Synergistic Management Solutions… Play Cards Against Humanity, and pick the best sounding definition. It’s a buzz term that not even google can pin down. My husband knows, being an IT and business guru, but apparently, it is complicated to explain. Dur.

I’m grabbing a Klondike bar. That’s my temperature.

 

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A Specific View Of The Broadmoor

A Specific  View Of The Broadmoor

Sometimes life is about stopping to smell the roses. Even in February. Even in Colorado Springs, Colorado. Wherever it happens to be, taking in a breath can be rejuvenating. Now it wasn’t that I’ve been scrambling around in a physical frenzy, desperately longing for a space to sit down and rest my aching feet. I wasn’t. What I was, though, was hunkered down in a mental bunker. I was uber-focused on fixing the future. Bills, studying for my business, and doing a lot of scheduling for various members of the family and myself put me on the computer and phone for hours every day for several days. Or weeks. I can’t remember. It all blends together.

I set reminders on my phone to find time, in the next day or two, to remind myself for even more stuff. I had reminders to wake people up, take medicine, make phone calls, and study. I set timers to pick people up, drop people off, and set appointments. 10 minutes for time with each kid, 30 minutes for hubby. Set a timer to pet the dog. I just forgot down time, eating time, and to smile.

Time just blurred together.

I wasn’t ready to look up from my tunnel vision even when my husband invited me to go with him to a luxury hotel for three days. He got to spend those days in a conference room, and I would be free to relax and explore the grounds.

Tempting, right?

Um. Well. All I saw were the mechanics. Who should take and pick up my daughter from school? Would the kids be ok? Would the house survive? I was still hammering out details, needlessly hovering and unwilling to let go of the responsibility, when we pulled into the wide avenue showcasing the spectacular piece of art that was The Broadmoor.

I let go.

Um. Hotel is an understatement. As we drove, looking for our own spot to call home, stately trees lined the paths and roads. Manicured flora and fauna graced the expansive grounds. Bridges flowed over the lake, dotted with elegant swans. And in the background, craggy, tree-strewn mountains grew around the property, cradling the place in crisp air and breathtaking views.

The entrance was grand, of course. I was now expecting that. What delighted me, however, was the attention to details for the guests. Never did we touch handles. Cars, doors, and elevators were opened with pomp and ceremony. Staff seemed to enjoy assisting us to our room, proudly pointing out things of interest with a smile, a nod, or a gesture. I felt as if I were the only guest there. How could it get any better?

Then the the door to my room opened.

Plush, tasteful elegance greeted us as the door was opened and I couldn’t help but grin. I’ve never been a fan of wallpaper. Til now. Subtle, silky cream curlicues let a hint of light baby green fabric peek through the walls. It cocooned the room that brought me to a time when grace was more important than convenience.  Details brought the room into focus. King size bed with cream colored embroidered bead spread. Pillows in rich fabric, inviting hours of lounging in a robe and slippers. Which, of course, were provided. A soft bench at the bottom of the bed, a plump sofa, and reading arm chair provided choices in relaxation. A work station rounded out the furnishings, along with a large tv and plenty of soft-lighted lamps.

And then there was the bathroom. Hotel bathrooms have a sliding scale of function mixed with attractiveness. But ultimately, it provides a means to an end. Not so, at The Broadmoor. I wanted to just stay in it. Really. Yes, there was a huge marble shower, yes the lighted mirror and double sinks were beautiful. It was the deep soaking tub and in mirror tv that made it stand out.

As soon as the bellman left, my husband, bless him, filled the tub for me. Yes, it covered me to my chin.  Yes, there was a pillow towel for my neck. Yes, there was hot cocoa ready for me to sip. No wonder this gem has been graced by presidents, sports heroes, and movie stars. It was the perfect place to be pampered, and I had fallen for it. Hook, line, and sinker.

 

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Glorious Mountain Time…

Glorious Mountain Time…

So. This is what beautiful means. Another kind of beautiful. A not enough oxygen for the Every-Day-Joe kind of beautiful. A Travel-Here-At-Your-Own-Risk kind of beautiful.

Worth it.

We arrived here at the tail end of a thunderstorm. The wrong end of the thunderstorm, I clarify. Actually, we started at one end of the thunderstorm, traveled up the mountain in growing darkness through the middle of the thunderstorm, hydro-planed around semi rigs and a Volkswagen bus on wings of guardian angels, and sluiced to a stop at the resort, clean air and slightly dripping aspens all around.  End of thunderstorm. No big deal.

There is a reason this resort is here. In Vail. It had to be here. Vail had to be the backdrop for twinkle lights drenching the pines, and customer service draping over us the second we pulled up. The temperature, the crispness of the air, the sincere pride the staff took as they welcomed us… All of the elements had to work together to create the ambiance that is this place. And I love it.

Even now, it is raining, and it is enchanting. Wait. It “rains” in other places. Here, it RAINS. The raindrops frolic as they reach the resort. Then some dance on the surface of the infinity pool, bringing steam up invitingly. Other drops lazily make their way down aspen leaves, pitter-pattering to the stone, and gurgling down the gutters. All the rain forms together to make a filmy, misty sheet that flutters down the mountain, across the pines, and onto the property.  That’s what the rain looks like here.

I get to witness it from a plushly padded lounge chair, just under the eaves of the outdoor rooms. Talk about bringing the outdoors in. And the resort does do that. Three beautiful fireplaces ring the saline infinity pool, one for the hot tub and two for gathering spots. They are inviting, with their rocking chairs and outdoor heaters. They just beg guests to enjoy hot chocolate out in the rain, snow, or chill of the air.

As the days and nights progress, I truly experience the consideration that is seeped in this place. From the sights of the outdoor property, to the scents of the on-property restaurant. A hamburger is NOT just a hamburger here, by the way. It is a culinary delight. Onion ring, pesto aioli, and beef or buffalo cooked to specification (mine was beef, cooked medium), set off bells of pleasure on my taste buds. Even something as mundane as french fries took a ride to happy town with chives, garlic, and mushroom wreathing the steak cut morsels.

As rain came down on the beautiful village of Vail, people took the time to come together over drinks and food. Or a game of chess or cards. People read in the lobby, or library, sure, but the stories flowed from the mouths of people wanting to make connections with others, right there in the conservatory.

In that room, with huge windows showing the beauty that was nature on one side, and a roaring fire on the other, people would gather in twos, or fours, or more, and talk about their lives and what brought them to this spot at this particular time.

Many came for a conference. “Hello, how are you? Are you here for CIMA? Do you know…” And simple as that, they are off and running on system security management for the here and now.

Others, however, are here for weddings and family gatherings and such. I met some interesting girls this way. They flitted here and there popping around walls and bouncing wherever they went, happy as clams. They flopped down next to me and asked me why I was here? I told them my husband was speaking at a conference here, and they sensed it was their turn to speak, so they did.

A lot.

They let me know they had flown in with their family, from New Jersey, for a cousin’s wedding. They were also a bit sad that their grandpa couldn’t come because he was so funny. I asked why he couldn’t be there, and they said, finishing each other’s sentences, that he was 89, was in a home, but had just needed to go to a hospital for something. He was very funny, they said, and the nurses laughed a lot around him. I said it must be nice to have a funny grandpa, and they said yes, grandpa Yogi was the best.

Yogi is not a common name, and I thought it was also the name of a bear, and then some other guys name, maybe a football or baseball player from long ago. That’s as far as my line of thinking went, as these young ladies, vivacious and glad to chat, kept up a history of their lives as they knew it. Staying with their grandpa Yogi. “He reminds us of a gorilla!” The younger girl, maybe 7, said. “His ears, you know… They are preeety big.” The elder sister, around 9, chimed in. “He kind of walks funny, too.”  I learned that he was indeed named Lawrence, but that no one called him that since he was a catcher in baseball long ago. His team mates, then just people, called him Yogi and his last name was Berra, and wasn’t that funny?

The girls went with their parents to Florida every spring break, and… Their dad used to play sports as a job, and … Then the two blonde haired, talkative gems were hustled out of the conversation by a 50-something year old man, fit and trim, that wasn’t too keen on my friendly smile. He seemed in a hurry, and that was that.

I had just had a fun discussion about and with the great Yogi Berra’s grandchildren.  I think so, anyway.  Maybe not. I confirmed some things with my husband later, and with Wikipedia. Yessirree Bob, I had been brushed off by a retired ball player/dad, had a chat with a legend’s grand kids, and enjoyed the weather while doing it.

Nice place.

My last night found me down at the hot tub with my husband. We enjoyed the stars hanging in the sky, the trees swaying in the cool, crisp air, and the steam rising off the stone hot tub water. A fire blazed just a few feet away, beautifully corralled by stone and wrought iron fancy.  We soaked for a bit, marveling at the adventure we had experienced, and caught up on our day. He nailed his presentation, had been productive at the socializing that went on at these things, and now he was ready to relax and go home. I shared with him my time and observations, and we both laughed. Then sighed.

It was good to soak.

After a quick dip in the pool, and a spell by the fireplace, we retired to our room.

Our room. Our room! Big, beautifully well-appointed… Our room was a vacation in and of itself. On the top floor, we got a beautiful view of the pool and mountains. The room housed a plush king size bed with a suede headboard. All soft and inviting, I spent a few hours curled up in it, I’ll tell you. Large closets, well stocked mini fridge area, big bathroom. All done in woods and stone and glass. An office area for hubby to do his conference calls and business. Nothing was an afterthought. Everything was warm, yet elegant.

Our morning was spent packing and smiling because we knew that we had loved this place.  The sun was out. Our trip would be dry. And it was the perfect end to our adventure in a truly breathtaking spot in this world.

 

 

 
 
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