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And It Cliqued, Just Like That.


Women.cliques

Here’s the thing about women. They are POWERFUL. They have influence individually, but in groups, they are exceptional. And if anyone has been to middle school, or high school, you may have experienced some of that. Whether in a school dance or at a lunch table, school age groups of females have been a force to be reckoned with. I know this because, well, I am one. And from experience, I know how hard it can be to operate around a group of females. A bad hair day, or the wrong jeans are sometimes all it takes to feel the brunt of a gaggle of ladies. We women can be cliquish. Dramatic. Catty. Gossipy.

Or…

powerful womenWe woman can be inspiring. Empowering. Encouraging.  This is what I experienced tonight. I experienced a MeetUp group called Onederous Women. Onederous Women chose into creating an inclusive space where networking was not a cattle call for business cards. I experienced a space, instead, where strengths were shared.  I got to be part of a space where women met to empower, enjoy, and partake of each other’s lives.

It was an honor.

Imagine this: Nourishment for the belly and the soul all in one room. Practical solutions to everyday problems. A group of problem-solvers devoted to hearing a call and responding. That’s what happened tonight. Right there in the basement of a church, inspiration happened. Bravery happened. Connection happened.

And I was in awe.

I choose to believe it was all for me. It had to be. Because it was that specific to me. No, seriously. Look. I have needs. And wants. We all do, but all I can do is speak for me. So, again,  I am saying that I lack in many areas. And mostly, I get to them eventually. EVENTUALLY, some things get handled, but some just keep getting pushed to the bottom of the pile. But it was a bit uncanny that so many of my needs and wants and lacks were being solved in one room, at one time. The room was filled with innovative solutions by women who utilized their talents, their experiences, their sorrows and joys into a workable resource that filled a need.

My need, tonight.

Check this out. I need a tailor. For my husband. We have been looking and looking, but never really got around to pulling the trigger. So we just let it hang out there, in nebulous space. Also, I need to eat healthier. I say it every day, and so does my daughter and hubby. Again, nebulous need. However, I also need a practical way to travel. It has become more important. Also, I need clothes that rock. But I just hate shopping.

stuffNebulous space gets a bit crowded sometimes.

So many more. I need guidance with my finances on an ongoing basis. So does everyone I know. I crave knowing what I don’t know. I stink at sending out cards and correspondence. I am on a journey of discovering how to heal and move forward. I need help knowing how to market to people who are looking for what I can do for them (Freelance writing, by the way. Shameless Plug.) Blah, Blah, Blah. I lack in many areas, but what I lack the most is a cheering section of people who know how hard it is to be living life as a woman, and know how to help.

I didn’t even know that having a one-stop problem-solving shop was an option.

These ladies brought all their power together and what came from it was an alliance of possibility. Power radiated throughout that room, and I don’t know that they even realized it. Actually, they probably do. And now, so do I. Think about the power of possibility. Now add to it the real-life applications, the experience, the innovation that comes from hard working business-minded women. It adds up to much more than hope.

lightbulb momentIt is what makes success.

If you have one whit of sense, you will seek out this group. For networking, sure. For fun, yes. But for a life-changing experience, definitely. Be part of a power clique.

 

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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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The Broccoli Dilemma…


Stranger number 1. “Mormons. Can’t live with ’em, can’t shoot ’em.”
Stranger number 2. “Pssshhhhh. Can’t live without ’em, either. They’re the first ones to show up when a disaster hits.”
Guffaw.
Harrumphhh.
Clinking of the mugs.
And on to the Broncos.

I overheard the comments at a diner and it got me thinking. And feeling. My thinking was, “Amen, brothahs!”, and my feeling was, “UHHH! Ruh-ooode!” Offended, yet understanding and agreeing. Both. How can that be? How? Easy. Life is not tidy.

I am a Mormon. And… I am also, not.

I am a Mormon because I have a name and a blessing, have been baptized, and have had church callings many many times. Actively participating or not, disciplined or not, it has been part of my culture. You could say I am a native. I am Mormon because I strive to be as Christ-like as I can be, choosing Mormonism as my vehicle of organized religion. Yet…I am not Mormon in this way. I am having a crisis of faith. In praying and seeking answers to questions, I have found that I currently do not agree with all views and policies in my religion. I feel very un-faith-like, in this faith-based religion, actually. In my mind, I have divided my faith into two distinct parts. The Church, and The Gospel. It’s how I justify putting up with one so I can enjoy the other.

OKKKKK. Let me stop you right there. This is not a pro- or anti- rant. There is no platform or soap box. So if you are looking for that, head right on back to Facebook. Ahem.

So the “yes I am” and the “no I’m not” kinda feels like… like this. Like dipping broccoli into Ranch dressing. I dig the Gospel principles of love and kindness, and turning the other cheek, and peace from a source who has a much bigger design than I can comprehend. I am good with that. That’s the Ranch. The Church part, the human part, the inconsistency part where there is paperwork and differing personalities clashing and keeping the bills paid… well… that is the iffy part for me. It’s the Broccoli. The have-to have to enjoy the get-to have.

Now, you won’t catch me with the fridge door open in the middle of the night, guzzling Ranch dressing from the bottle. Rest easy, Mom. But you won’t catch me ordering a vat of Cream of Broccoli soup, hold the soup, either. My religion has been my version of a healthy snack. Kind of a no-brainer snack. Only, I am tasting the Broccoli a lot more, lately, and it almost tastes like Brussel Sprouts.

So where does that leave me? How do I categorize myself? In limbo? On the fence? Is there a fence? Hmmmm. I guess there is. And I realize that there has been, for years.
This is an opportunity to look at the fence I am sitting on.

And I know fences.

I grew up in a small town in Utah. Many fences. Way more potholes than people. No stoplight, but lots of community involvement. I, like any other kiddo growing up, had many spoon-fed concepts, from many different sources. For instance:
1. (MOM) We have inside voices and outside voices. Please use them correctly. (ME) Ok.
2. (SESAME STREET) We say please and thank you. Always. (ME) Ok.
3. (DAD) We go to church and all church activities. Every time. (ME) Ok.
4. (NEIGHBORHOOD) Many hands make light work, so pitch in and watch out for ways to help. (ME) Ok.
5. (SUNDAY SCHOOL TEACHER) Be kind, always. (ME) Ok.
6. Change your underpants every day because you never know when you will get in an accident and have to go to the doctor. (ME) Uhhhhh. Okkkkkaayyy….(That came from Grandma, bless her soul. Sound advice.)

The natural assumption I took on was that a line of authority wasn’t questioned. It didn’t need to be. We all had roles, and mine was to grow up, be good, and have fun. That was as far as I looked.  I naturally assumed that authority was there to protect and provide order to those with less experience and knowledge. It was a learning process, and a safeguard against being hurt. Moms and dads guided and protected us. Adults protected us. We kids respected and listened to them. It totally made sense and worked.

There really wasn’t anything to ponder about. Nothing I needed to change because everything ran smoothly. Not that I always followed them in real world applications. Ask anyone in my family. I was the middle child. Boo Hoo. It was HARRRRRDDDD to follow every assumed custom AND every rule EVERY time. So I messed up. Sometimes I tried really hard to keep it all together, and sometimes I got fed up and did what I wanted, knowing there would be consequences. My choices, my consequences. Pretty cut and dry, right?

You see what I’m saying.

Stay with me here. Many assumptions. My easiest assumption, by the way, was that because I learned these things in MY home and neighborhood, everyone learned those things in THEIR home and neighborhood. Everyone, everywhere. And, I lived a very cut-and-dry, right-or-wrong life. Simple. Until the ripe old age of Kindergarten.

When I was six, I went to elementary school and noticed that not everyone had the same experiences and opinions, or even habits that I did. It was just a quick adjustment, but by the end of the first day I had learned about Root Beer Bubble Gum, Puff The Magic Dragon, and just how many kids there were in my grade. I saw that manners were subjective. (Nose-picking was a lot more common than I thought.) I learned that some girls knew how to do back flips, and immediately wanted that in my life. (Gymnastics was a passion for me for the rest of the week.) I saw a 4-square game outlined in yellow paint on the black-top at recess and immediately needed the giant rubber bouncy ball in my collection of toys. (I didn’t get one.) There was a lot of cool stuff to take in, and I wanted to know about it all.

Well, almost all.

I experienced bullies at recess, right along with back flips and 4-square. They were different than the big-brother bullies, simply because they clashed with my sensibilities so much. (How dare they not be polite? They don’t even know me, yet! We are all supposed to be kind, except for big brothers!) Sometimes, as I went through the grades, bullies would be in packs, and other times they would be on their own. Now I wasn’t always subject to them, but all the classes knew them. We knew who they were, and unofficially formed plans to counter those attacks. Luck helped sometimes. Sometimes not. When a plan fell through, and we would see a victim come back with a story, we shared in that hurt. (Here. Have a piece of Root Beer bubble gum. It’s my last one, but you can have it.)

So here’s the thing. I went out into the wider world, but when I came home, there was a sense of safety and peace. It was a familiar place where I belonged. I could tell my family about the good and the bad, or come back with scrapes and cuts, and my mom and dad would make things right. They never went after those bullies, but made the place where I lived a safe haven. Yep, there were arguments and things I didn’t want to do. Yes, I felt very picked on sometimes. But overall, it was an assumption that when I was home, I was safe. So when certain people were invited into our home, people who were assumed to be safe, but weren’t, it rocked my world.

It didn’t make sense.

How could people so deceitful and sneaky and terrible be allowed in my home? I had no answer that made sense, and at six or seven, I needed a simple answer. Nothing made sense, so I went with the logic that was available at my young age. I simply understood from that time on that because they were in our home, the logical conclusion was that my parents were somehow fine with it in our home. Ergo, they were fine with something terrible existing right along with the safe environment, even scolding me when I didn’t want to be around those guests. That was something that did not make sense, but nevertheless WAS happening in reality. The REAL WORLD stuff was not in alignment with the SHOULD-BE’s. That’s how I knew that life wasn’t black or white.

The reality is that my parents did not know. They were unaware that a terrible thing was happening. In fact, it simply was not a possibility to them that someone would take advantage of the love and kindness that they showed. And because they did not think of that possibility, they came to their own conclusions about my lack of civility to these guests. It became apparent to them that I was moody and over-dramatic and prone to over-exaggeration or fibs, even. My truth became that my mom was cruel on the inside and kind on the outside, and dad trusted mom’s judgement. We all formed our opinions, and life went on. That became the reality.

I bring this up, not to bring you down, but to look at something. I experienced something completely different than my parents did. In our safe haven. In our same family. At the same time. Simple as that. Our experiences led to assumptions about ourselves and each other and that became our reality. Were we both right? In a way, yes. We acted from interactions that actually happened. The actions were obviously right there. And yet…in another way, a resounding NO! I had only one view of an event.

So did they.

The events in their entirety did not just reveal themselves to me, on their own, by the way. Nobody came to me to clarify what was going on at all. It took me actively questioning my side of the past events over years, as an adult. It took talking several times with people about uncomfortable things. It took me allowing myself to follow my gut feelings as well as my head. It took getting out of my comfort zone. And I became the target of some pretty unpleasant words from those completely outside of the situation. What I found, over years of digging, was an opportunity for information to be shared, for relationships to be strengthened, and for my angst to be laid to rest.

So back to the diner. And my fence.

My relationship with my faith has been complicated. Am I Mormon? Yep. I was born and raised in the faith and know how to do all that is asked of me. I have felt love and peace many times over the years, through my faith. Do I feel Mormon? Not exactly, simply because I am questioning the reasoning and accountability of certain parts of my religion. And feeling uncomfortable doing it. My logic says that it should be cut and dry. There is a natural line of authority, put in place to lead, guide, and love a group of people who want peace and joy and love in their lives. The same goes for a natural line of authority in government, companies, and any other leadership organization. It is trust. It is there to give direction to those who do not have all the answers or experience in an area and are wanting that safeguard.

I am having an event, which is a part of a series of events, that I have felt is the whole event. Until now. Now, I feel there is a major lack in the whole picture that I am experiencing.

So do I rock the boat? The Church boat? We-heh-heh-hellll. Let me tell you, rocking the boat is… exhausting. Fighting for answers takes time and commitment. Going up the chain of command is frustrating to me when answers aren’t easy to explain or find. I hear it is the same in the military, the education system, and in corporate life. So the big question for myself is, “Do I want to go here?” I have kids, exercise, work, bills, husband, sleep, fun, reading, living of life to do. Do I really want to move that stuff around? Hey. It’s only my spiritual, eternal self I’m talking about.

Sitting on this fence is starting to get mighty uncomfortable.

Now, my experiences and assumptions are mine. Only mine. Some may have similar stories, and others may not relate at all. A few may even doubt my honesty about my stories. Some have. But worrying about someone else’s opinion is not my business. What I do with my experiences and assumptions, are. So this is what I choose.

1. I choose to use information and facts over opinion and assumptions. It’s certainly interesting to get everyone’s input on a subject, but it is subjective, in the end.

2. I choose to listen to my gut feelings, and temper them with my logic. Because if I don’t, then there isn’t a complete picture.

3. I choose to have a line. I am allowed to form a line of safety. My safety and moral compass is on one side of the line, and on the other side is the stuff that I don’t want in my space. Not for manners sake. Not for comfort sake. Not for other people’s comfort sake. It is a line.

4. I choose to question things so I know how I feel. I am ok with going on faith in some instances, and questioning in others. BOTH.

The diner experience leads me to realize that it is time to search for the questions about certain policies that I have just been waiting for others to answer. It is time to be proactive. Right or wrong? For or against? Yes or no? Puh-leez! Those are about as polarizing as it gets. And that just doesn’t work for me.

There is more to it than either/or. Life is not tidy. My grief is about my conflict. I am grieving the simplicity that I so want in my life. I am grieving my former reality. I am conflicted because I know that I am coming down off the fence. Not only coming down off my perch, but I will be pulling up the fence and seeing what leaves my space, and what stays.

I know I want love and light and peace in my life. I know that duplicity and deceitfulness and looking the other way have no part in my space. Not from myself, and not from others. Even when it would be simpler/easier/nicer to just do nothing.  Am I Mormon? Am I not? Do I believe?

Meh.

How bout…. I am… Hungry. It’s time to hit the fridge and browse. Ranch can go on many things. Not just broccoli. Who knows? In my search for the perfect snack, I just may create a fantastic meal.

 

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…

 
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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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