Uncovering My Flaws

As a full-time working mom, I never felt like I had even a moment to reflect on what made me “me”. Sure, I knew I was overweight, needed to step up my wardrobe game, and do a better job with concealing the bags under my eyes but I mean who was I really? Beyond the superficial, exterior things.

Now that I have more time to myself, I have gotten to know the real me. What I’ve discovered is that I am a hopeless romantic, an eternal optimist, and when I’m not happy, satisfied, and fulfilled, you can read it in my eyes and hear it in my voice. Some days, these traits feel like flaws. Weaknesses that can leave you a little vulnerable. You might be asking yourself, how are these flaws? Isn’t it a good thing to be loving, optimistic, and transparent? Well, let’s see…

Optimist

Being a hopeless romantic who wishes she lived her life like a country love song, being married to a man who listens to alternative metal and calls himself a “realist” can prove challenging. I look at an older couple holding hands on a walk and think – that is the sweetest thing ever. He sarcastically says it’s because he was told to hold her hand. Yin and yang. You get the picture.

I look for the good in everyone and often give people far more credit than they may deserve.  I want to believe everyone is pure of heart and most people are good (to quote another great country song). Some call it naivety, some call it overly optimistic, I call it “being me”.

Finally, if eyes are the windows into the soul then my shades are never drawn. If you can look at me, read me, and know how I’m feeling then you truly know me and I’m okay with that.  I like to think it’s why I have lots of really close people in my life and not just acquaintances.

Flaws? Hmmm…you’re right. I don’t think so either.

hopeless romantic

Life from a Different Perspective

As my husband and I get ready to celebrate our silver anniversary, I am immediately brought back to one of the most amazing anniversaries we have ever had. An adventure second to none but, an adventure that immediately brought us back to reality.

At year 20, I wanted to do something special. Something unforgettable. I never loved to fly but he loved it. He had mentioned a number of times that he would love to take helicopter lessons. He talked about how he wanted to go up in a helicopter. I was never a great flier but i know it’s the best way to get where you need to go so I grin and bear it because, at the end of the day, I love to travel. Besides, a couple drinks never hurt to take the edge off either.

He was shocked as we lifted off, exploring the coast of Newport and the incredible mansions. We were soaring 500, 1000, 2000 feet above the beautiful Cliff Walk. It was amazing! We were in awe of the beauty all around us.

Here’s the switch of perspective. As we walked through the door after an incredible 48 hours, the news was reporting a bombing at the finish line of the Marathon. Our city was under attack, terrorism had struck again, and the joy, excitement, and amazement was washed away by horrible people with an unthinkable agenda.

This switch of perspective made me appreciate all I had even more. Two great kids, a strong marriage, and a love of country that still makes me tear up at the National Anthem.

The Quiet Really Isn’t Eerie

More times than I can count this week, I have walked into a silent house. More times than I can count this week, I’ve been alone in this house that I’m deciding is too big for two people.

There hasn’t been a single noise, a single tv blaring in the background, a single footstep bounding up the stairs. But guess what? For the first time, it didn’t make me sad. Instead, there was a sense of peace. Moments where I’ve looked around and reflected. Looked around and thought what next? Looked around and smiled.

Sometimes the quiet can be eerie but lately, it sounds like success. No chaos, no drama, just peace. The dots are connecting; my path is falling into place. Career-focus; relationship-focus; future fun.

Reconnect

I want to create a buzz, a revelation, an a-ha moment that can change someone’s day; maybe even their life. It’s going to be called – “Put down your phone.”

Right now each and everyone one of us is holding a device, me included, focusing intently on what’s going on, who’s doing what, and what our extended network of “friends” are doing but – WHY? Why are their lives so much more interesting, fun, or important than what you could be doing?

I will never disown my device or stop scrolling my feed or checking my email from the road but, I am go to look up more without a device in my hand or within arm’s reach. I want to reconnect with those that I can touch and feel and not those that don’t even know I’ve been watching their lives unfold. I want to continue my journey of self discovery through my own adventures and interactions.

Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, etc have created a false sense of connectedness. Ask yourself this question – when you see someone post to social media and think “wow, that’s cool” or “hmmm, I’m a little worried about them” – if you saw them out in public, would you go out of your way to let them know? If you answered yes, then good for you. If not, it’s time to reconnect. Live your own experiences, care about what’s going on around you, and enjoy.

I hope your buzz, your new year’s “revelation” is all about disconnecting, unplugging, and having true social interactions. It’s going to be mine.

I’m Not From Around Here

Have you ever played I’m not from around here? My guess is you haven’t because I think I made it up. But now, it’s your turn to play!

Next time you’re up for an adventure or searching for something to do, pick any town or city close by, even your own, and pull out that phone that is probably already in your hand.

Search “best things to do in ________”.

Typically on the top of the search, Trip Advisor pops up. Of course, some of the things you already know will pop up if you are searching local but not all the time.

Search for whatever you’re into – show me the top five restaurants; show me the top ten historical sites; show me the best hiking trail. You get the picture…type in your want and presto – a new adventure, a new special spot, a hidden gem. We’ve been steered to some of the best places to hike or take a walk, to have lunch, or even just to explore.

Trust me, they’re all not gems but what do you have to lose? Life is about the adventure! Find it, run with it. You only go around once, make the most of this new found time. The life of the empty nester!

Do You Ever Sit Still?

When the kids are little you are either at home or en route. On the way to a friend’s house, a practice, an appointment, or a birthday party – nothing adult-related. As they are able to drive themselves, you stay home, not so patiently waiting, pacing the floors awaiting their safe return. Now that they’re grown, there’s no need to pace at home. You’ve done your job, you’ve done the best you could and now it’s time.

Time for what you ask? Time to explore, time to find and rediscover you. It’s not time to sit around the house and watch Pretty Woman or Sixteen Candles for the 100th time. How will you remember who you are by staring at those same four walls you’ve admired for 20 or so years?

So, to answer the question that I hear from my friends on a regular basis of “Do you ever sit still?”, the answer is, “No, I never sit still.” What’s the point of sitting around? I need to find me and she’s definitely not locked in this house.

The Real Journey Started in 1990

I loved him and I knew I was doing the right thing or at least that was what my naïve, twenty year old mind was telling me.  I made a rash decision to move eleven hundred miles away from home.  I withdrew from college with just three semesters left.  I quit a decent, full time job that could have been a career.  I deserted a loving family who were always caring and supportive.  I did all of these foolish things just two weeks before Christmas, Christmas the biggest family day of the year, with just a promise to come back and visit some time.  Was it the right thing?  Who knew, but I was sure as hell going to find out.

As my parents stood in the driveway wiping away tears, all I could think about was myself.  As I drove away, I ripped their hearts out, dragging them, slowly beating like the U-Haul I was towing.  Selfishly, I didn’t care who I hurt as I ran to him, it was all about me. Me, me, me and whatever I wanted to do.  Was I making a good decision?  Did I consider the feelings of my family who urged me not to go because I really didn’t know him?  No, I was a twenty year old college drop out who’s only future plans rode on the pipe dreams of a wanna-be whom I’d only been dating for three months.

They say hindsight is twenty-twenty, that couldn’t be any truer!  Had I known what I know now, would I have made a different decision?  Probably, but what happened in my life over the next two years was meant to be.  It was the most eye-opening time of my life.  Fate, destiny that is determined before you take your first breath, had carved out a scenic route for me.  On this part of my life’s journey, there were so many twists and turns that I thought I may have lost my way while spiraling out of control.  Today I am thankful that I landed face up in familiar territory.

My eleven hundred mile trek dropped me in South Carolina with him.  This part of my journey I like to refer to as “driving through the storm”.  This storm lowered my self-esteem and made me unsure of every move I made.  I worked two jobs to pay all of our bills and he claimed to have a job.  As far as I knew, with a job came a paycheck, this never happened.  His lack of a real job led to drinking and drinking to excess.  Drinking to excess led to hostility and anger.  Anger led to huge arguments and mean, nasty words.  Arguments led to him storming out of the apartment to the local bar.  And finally, more drinking led to cheating.  I won’t even dignify his presence in my life by writing or speaking his name but I do owe him one thing.  Thank you.  Thank you for opening my eyes to a world outside of Massachusetts.  Thank you for showing me what kind of relationship is never worth having.    But most importantly, thank you for leaving.  The mind games in which I had been the pawn finally stopped.

The next part of my journey is referred to as “the accident”.  He was a guy from the golf course, he was married, and he had kids.  I was drowning my low self esteem in Crown and water.  We hit it off right away.  He told me that he was married but he and his wife were treading on thin ice.  I wonder if she knew that but of course I believed him because I was a starry-eyed twenty-one year old.  He shared that he still lived at home but it was only because of the kids.  None of that seemed to matter to me.  I was on the rebound and needed someone to treat me like a girl was supposed to be treated.  What a twist in the road.  I was the one being cheated on last time around but this time I was the accomplice in the cheating.  What a terrible irony.  Unfortunately the only thing wrong with this relationship was that he was married.  Oh, did I mention he was seventeen years older than me?  Alright, so there were two things wrong with that picture.  Enough said.  The fun was short lived but well worth it.  I regained my self-esteem, grew a conscience and vowed to always be treated as I should in a good relationship.

I was having the time of my life, feeling good about myself, living on my own, working hard, attending classes at University of South Carolina and visiting my family whenever I could.  On a visit home during the spring of 1992, I caught back up with Mark.  Mark grew up a mile from me and I had known him since grade school.  He was “a friend of a friend” and when his eyes met mine while I was spending my last night in town out with a group of friends, I felt like he was the only one in the room.  His smile made me melt from the inside out.  The way he laughed with such innocence took my breath away.  Why did I have to run eleven hundred miles in the other direction only to find the love of my life living in my hometown?  Was it my destiny?  Was it for personal growth?  It was fate that took me on this scenic journey.  In the blink of eye my life had changed.  In less than one year from the day we re-connected, I married the man who had become my best friend.  This final part of my journey I like to call “reaching my destination”.

Living Your Dash

This time of year is perfect to reflect on where you’ve been, how you feel about the present, and what your future holds.

I must admit, I have been doing this a lot over the last 2 or 3 years – reflecting, evaluating, and re-aligning. When I’m deep in thought about my “what’s next”, I’m often reminded of the poem by Linda Ellis entitled The Dash.

I read of a man who stood to speak at the funeral of a friend.

He referred to the dates on the tombstone from the beginning…to the end.

He noted that first came the date of birth and spoke of the following date with tears, but he said what mattered most of all was the dash between those years.

For that dash represents all the time that they spent alive on earth. And now only those who loved them know what that little line is worth.

For it matters not, how much we own, the cars…the house…the cash. What matters is how we live and love and how we spend our dash.

So, think about this long and hard. Are there things you’d like to change?

For you never know how much time is left that can still be rearranged.

If we could just slow down enough to consider what’s true and real and always try to understand the way other people feel.

And be less quick to anger and show appreciation more and love the people in our lives like we’ve never loved before. 

If we treat each other with respect and more often wear a smile, remembering that this special dash might only last a little while.

So, when your eulogy is being read, with your life’s actions to rehash…would you be proud of the things they say about how you spent YOUR dash?

As we usher in the new year, make a point to be proud of your dash. If you’re not, it’s time to do something to change it.

Where’s My Christmas Spirit?

I have to admit, wholeheartedly, I am jealous of those of you with little ones. For the last few years, the month of December has felt like every other just colder than the one before and a bit more expensive. There is no excitement in the air, no Elf that we need to move all over the house in strange (but funny) positions, and no gifts that I need to wait in line for hours to get.

So, where’s my Christmas Spirit? I think it’s waiting patiently in the shadows, for a few years. Lingering all around us as we shuffle through the holidays. The spirit will emerge again when we are dubbed grandparents.

The magic that those little people create fill the whole house with something unmatched. Enjoy every moment. Love it, embrace it, smile about it. You, the people with little ones, are the lucky ones this month. Right now you’re probably not feeling so lucky as you race from store to store trying to fit it all in. You’re not feeling so lucky as you’re chasing away the sniffles and coughs to make sure everyone is healthy for the trip to Grandma’s. You’re definitely not feeling lucky because you are getting even less sleep than before because you have to move the Elf after everyone is sound asleep and, most likely, they are up even later than ever. Trust me, you are lucky and you’ll realize it in about 10 or 15 years.

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