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What Dating a Good Man Teaches you

I wasn’t allowed to date until I was 16 but ended up going on my fist date 3 months before my birthday. This was because the guy was moving out of state and my parents reluctantly allowed me to go. I am 42 now and have never been married. That’s a lot of dating. I have seen the good, bad and ugly of relationships. And I have learned a lot over the years.

My current boyfriend is amazing.  He doesn’t play games. He actually puts forth the effort and tells me, on a daily basis, that I am beautiful and amazing and totally worth it. I am thriving under the light of his wonderful attention and affection.  I wonder how I forgot that this is what dating is supposed to be, that this is how I am supposed to be treated? My current relationship is teaching me things that I didn’t realize I had forgotten. Like how I should be treated.

Somewhere along the way, dating became more of a game than a pleasure.  It seems that it’s about getting all that you can, when you can, while putting forth as little effort as you can.  When we women have men with this attitude from which to choose, we get discouraged by the lack of options and try to choose the lessor of many evils.

Ladies, Steve Harvey has it right – when a man really wants you, there will be no question. I think back to all those guys that used to drive me crazy making me wonder if they were really interested. Or that I was doing something wrong. Maybe that was the reason why they weren’t calling like they said they would, or didn’t seem interested, or would make an ambiguous date, then never follow through.

Stop wondering. Because if you have to wonder if he is interested, then the answer is No.  It doesn’t matter if you call or text him.  If he wanted to be with you, he would have already set up the date.

Easier said than done, right?  Because we are taught that if we have these high expectations, then we are demanding, and bitchy, and manipulative. No, we just know our worth.

I have had men who would text me (first of all, call the woman) and ask me to go out lunch that day…when I would accept and ask where…they wouldn’t respond. Until a few weeks later when it’s the same thing all over again. No, he didn’t get too busy, his phone didn’t break, he wasn’t sucked into a vortex where no communication was possible.  He just wasn’t really interested. So why text at all?  Who knows.  Maybe he wanted to keep that door open, or wanted an ego boost. He definitely didn’t want to go to lunch.

The guy I dated before my current boyfriend actually made me feel guilty if I even thought about asking him to help me with anything – He was healing from a woman who used him 3 years ago, so he couldn’t do anything for me.  I made the mistake of saying he could use my boat anytime he wanted if he would let me use his truck to pull my boat to the marina. I was promptly accused of making my boat and all maintenance his responsibility. If a man in interested in you, there will no excuses or strange accusations. If a man is interested, he will want to spend time with you, and he will care enough to help out when you need it.

My current boyfriend is amazing.  He sees projects that I cannot do myself, and he fixes them. I don’t even have to ask.  He just rented a Rug Doctor and cleaned the carpets in my house because my family is coming to visit.  And because he said I “should live in pretty.” Wow, what a difference.

I have dated men who refused to introduce me to any friends and family, while telling me how much they liked and cared for me.  My current boyfriend has introduced me to all of his friends and family. Because he wants me in his life, because he wants me to see from who and where comes. And he is interested in meeting my friends and family too. He wants to know my people. And a man who is truly  interested in you, will want to know your world and your people too.

There was a man who made a date on Easter with me….and was a no show.  Contacted me a few weeks later like everything was fine.  Then there are the guys who just wanted me to “come over and hang out”, but were never willing to drive to see me, or take me out.  Stay away from them, they are lazy and place no value on you or your time.

I think back on all the times I questioned if I was doing something wrong?  Women are taught that if you keep getting disappointed in dating, you are the one common factor.  So take a look in the mirror and find your fault. Well, it wasn’t me, it was them. Mostly. The only thing I wasn’t doing, in my worn and weary and discourage mindset, was remembering my worth. Because I didn’t want to seem demanding, or high maintenance, or bitchy, or unreasonable.

The man I am with now, expects me to know my worth, because he sees it every time he looks at me. And he makes sure I know how lucky he feels. And I am lucky too. Because finally, here is a man who sees what I didn’t see in myself for a long time. Dating a good man has reminded me that first and foremost, I am worth it.

Every day I am so very grateful that this wonderful man found his way into my life.

Because I am demanding, and high maintenance and bitchy and unreasonable…But only to those men who are not interested enough to do anything but put forth the least amount of effort possible.

And that is what dating a good man can teach you.

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Sitcom Moments: The Dark Crazy Family Comedy

One thing almost everyone has to deal with in their lifetime is aging parents and health issues that come along with them.  It’s no secret that my parents have faced their share of health issues  – my mother diagnosed 15 years ago with stage 4+ Ovarian cancer, my father with liver cancer.  Bother of them are in remission.   Obviously I come from very strong stock.

One of the many reasons my parents have beat the odds (the first reason being a lot of faith and prayer), is the fact they are simply stubborn as he-ell. Notice the hyphen in there…that’s two syllables, because one syllable isn’t enough to describe that level of stubborn. And I think it increases with age.

Another thing that everyone must deal with is the fact that their family is crazy. Yes, including yours.  At some point in our lives, we must come to the realization that our families are insane.  And there is no shame in it, because we are all in the same boat, paddling up Crazy Creek with a broken paddle. My family is crazy. Just take a deep breath, repeat that statement and let it wash over you. I’ll wait.

My mother can relax now that my father’s cancer is in remission in theory. If only she would.  Don’t get me wrong, I love her with all my heart, but she is 5’3”, 80lbs of pure, unadulterated stubborn. And she will argue with you that she is not stubborn all day long…and into the night. And the next morning. And next week. And next year….

So now that she is getting older and has some health issues, life is interesting.  I do my best to keep in mind that she is very old school southern, very proud, very private and can take care of herself, THANKYOUVERYMUCH (all caps on purpose). It’s like a dark and twisted comedy, because there are many moments that you cannot believe are actually happening.

She is only 80lbs because she doesn’t eat…and seems to like it.  Conversations usually go something like this:

{I can see this conversation happening on Modern Family or Raising Grace, or similar show, where the characters are so over the top that it’s funny. Welcome to my world.}

Me: So what did you eat today, Mom?

Mom: I ate an egg with cheese and toast, like I do every morning, had an energy shake for lunch and  then your dad and I ate pork chops and mashed potatoes for dinner. I eat like that every day.

Me: That’s a great day of food Mom. How much do you weigh?

Mom: 82 lbs.

ME: Mom, you’ve lost 4 pounds in 1 week…so you are either not telling the truth about how much you are eating, or you are very sick and we need to get you to the doctor right away…

CLICK

The reason for the hang up? Because you are not allowed to say that your mother might not be telling the truth. Oh yes, I received a firm scolding on respecting the woman who carried me in her womb for 9 months, endured a painful birth, and sat with my in the hospital as I was so sick as a baby. Yes, Ma’am.  But I still say if you were eating the way you say you are you would be gaining weight…CLICK.

She has a very bad back – spinal stenosis. Excruciating pain.  There is a doctor who will do laser surgery on her back, but she won’t go.  Too busy, she says. Same thing with getting her cataracts fixed.  So here she is, hobbling, wobbling along, feisty and stubborn as he-ell, not really able to see, but can still see well enough to point a finger at you to say mind your own damn business! I’m your mother, you don’t have the right to tell me what to do.

We went to talk with a cancer counselor at the hospital about how Dad’s cancer has affected the family.  I explained that it has been very stressful, since we nearly lost him 10 times in the past 4 years. Once the doctors even telling Mom that they were sending him home to die and he would be more comfortable at home. I cannot even imagine what that was like.  After I described, in detail, all of the family issues, the counselor looks at my mother and asks what her how does she feel?

Mom: “I’m fine, not stressed at all. This has not been hard on me, I’m fine. I don’t need therapy. But she does (meaning me).  If she wants, I will go to therapy with her to discuss anything that she wants, if that will help her.  Because she needs LOTS of therapy.”

I nearly fainted.

Me to Mom:  You mean taking care of Dad when the doctors said he was dying and nursing him back to health was not stressful, at all?

Mom: No.

Me to Dr:  Yes, I need therapy. Lot’s of therapy. Can we set something up, immediately?

Welcome to my crazy family. Grab a cup of coffee, or even better, a glass of wine.

The Destination in the Journey

It has taken a minute, a long minute actually, to get here. Many say it’s the journey and not the destination. I disagree. I think it’s both. First yes it is the destination, because we are all working toward something…a vacation, a better job, a family, a better life, a college education. If these things were not worth our time, why would we be willing to take the trip in the first place? The destination is what starts the journey in the first place.

The journey is what life is all about. The working, the experiencing, the travel before the vacation. That is where we meet the best and worst parts of ourselves and humanity. That is where we learn, grow, decide and Live. And when we get to where we were intending, if we get there at all, because we may change our minds along the way…sometimes we realize our dreams have changed, and that’s ok.

This journey has taken me quite a ways, and I am finally where I want to be. But it has taken many miles, over many roads, some paved, some dirt, some gravel. This journey has taken many years, much thought, lots of laughter, more wine, and more love, so much more love, than I ever thought possible to even hold. It has taken me in the woods, on the inside, around the outside, over the ocean and below the ground.

It has taken kisses, thousands of hugs, friendships, break ups, make ups, break downs and marvelous mornings. It has taken coffee. And pieces of my soul. It has taken scraped knees, dirty nails, messy hair, a cluttered home, hours of writing, and every single heartbeat, every breath, inhaled, held and let go. It has taken hopes, fears and a lot of prayer. And it has taken you, yes you too.

And finally, here I am, this place I so wanted to be, where I dreamed I would be one day, in the not so distant past. Yet at the time, this place seemed so far away, almost too far. But after many steps, and so much life, I have arrived. Just where am I?

At a place called Happy. Finally. And it is fabulous, and joyful and wonderful and amazing and a thousand other words I say softly at night, in my prayers, in your ear, to the sky, … And the sun is shining.

And I have to say, while the journey has been everything and so much more than I ever imagined, as I wondered down those long, hard, twisted roads, sometimes uphill, sometimes down, I am enjoying this destination so very much. While every trip is a mixture of both good and bad, when you can look back and say “what a ride!” Then you know it’s been a great experience. And it makes the destination all the more sweet.

Childlike

I swam in the ocean and played like a child. I did back flips, hand stands and the back stroke. I let the current of the ocean carry me as I floated on the surface. I swam underwater, like a fish, seeing how long I could hd my breath before coming up to the surface for that first gasp of air when my lungs felt like they are going to burst. There was an excitement, an innocents that coursed through my veins as I felt the water against my skin.

At first the water was almost too cold, but then as my body adjusted tot he temperature, it felt refreshing and I was energized. The entire sea in front of me, with all the mystery it holds. All it’s secrets being whispered to me in the currents.

It had been almost two years since I swam in the ocean. Almost two years since I did back flips and let the water carry me. And it was wonderful.

It makes you appreciate the cool fresh salty air of the sea. And to feel the soft breeze across my damp face was pure heaven. And I saw God, in the sea, int he sky, in the everything of the moment. And I knew He had me in his hands and that all was well in my world.

There were hot Krispy Kreme donuts in bed, melting in my mouth from the first bite to the last. There was laughter, wine and dancing. There was the innocence and playfulness of a child. It was freedom.

The Time in the Space

I have a pretty big place where I live. Almost 1,800 square feet. That may seem small to many, but to a girl who used to live by herself, that is a lot of space. 3 bedrooms, 2.5 baths plus a garage (which is now the computer lab and workout space). My nephew, sister and I all have own own space. We all have our own space to go to when we need. I have always lived in places like this. Where I had my own space, and anyone who stayed with me had their own space too.

My boyfriend has a wonderful place. I love staying with him because his place is warm, comfortable, beautiful and intimate. He has a great house that is like an efficiency – it has a bedroom with his wonderful comfortable king size bed, a kitchen with beautiful custom cedar counters he with his own hands, a laundry area and a bathroom with the best jacuzzi tub ever made. Walls, ceiling and floors that are of wood, laid with his strong hands, exactly in their place. And there is no place to hide.

I have always had a bit of trouble being vulnerable, being intimate, letting someone into my space and knowing how to be close. And here is my boyfriend, when I stay with him, in a place where I cannot hide. I cannot hide when i am feeling lost. I cannot hide when I am feeling fluffy and bloated. i cannot hide when I am board, or aggravated, or happy, or sleepy, or hungry, or thirsty. I cannot hide when I have to use the bathroom, or am cold, or am feeling insecure.

The time in his space, forces me to be intimate. And I love it. I find that in his space, where I cannot hide, where I am naked, where I am bare, is the place where I run when I need refuge. This place, warm, solid, warm, dark and sensual, is where I go to be protected, held and comforted. Yes, the time in this space, his space, has taught me a great deal. About myself, about intimacy, about sharing, about life and about him.

The Fog Has Lifted

It settled down like an unwelcome uninvited fog. It started about three weeks ago and stayed, thick, heavy tangible and low.  It felt awful. It left a residue. And now, slowly, it has lifted, leaving behind clear skies and fresh air. It was a bit of a funk. And everyone goes through the funk a bit, even when we have the best or most perfect lives.

In reality, there is no reason to be blue – my father is doing much better, my sister has a great job, my nephew is going back to school in a few weeks, I have a new car that I love, a wonderful man I am dating, I have wonderful friends and life, in general, is good.

But I was sluggish, just wanted to sleep, I even cried quite a bit. I just felt…Bleh.

And sometimes that’s how it goes. Even happy people get the blues sometimes. Even those, who seem to have everything in order have bad days…even bad weeks.

So how do you get out of the Bleh’s? I don’t rightly know. Some people get super social, some get super introverted and just want to be left alone. Some people throw themselves into work, others go hiking, biking, workout, work in a shop, go shopping or just drink. What do I do? A combination. Sometimes I like to be left alone, take a quiet walk. Sometimes I want to be around my friends and enjoy their stories and laughter. Other times I want to just put my head down and work, sometimes I have a drink (or three) and sometimes I want to be held.

All of this has helped me get out of Blahville. These things a long with a new experience. I worked in a workshop this past weekend with the man I am dating. We built shelves for his home. We went and got the wood, then I watched as he methodically measured and cut the pieces with the saws and power tools. I helped as much as I could, but I was entranced by the method of creating something out of noting but a few pieces of wood. After helping him, I was assigned my tasks – to sand and to stain.

So I took the sander as I was instructed, and I concentrated on nothing else but the wood, the sanding, feeling of the machine in my hands and the texture. It was slow, purposeful and planned. Then there was the staining. I had never stained before. So the trick is to get all the stain on evenly…with no finger prints or darker stains. That may not sound like a big deal, but to a clumsy Pinktank like me…it can be a bit of a challenge. Actually, I am not sure which I am most proud of – the fact that i did a great stain job, or the fact that I managed to NOT trip, fall, stumble, foible, wobble, dribble, drop, spill or break anything in the shop. That in itself took great effort and concentration.

But I great stain job I did accomplish. And as I was staining, it came to me, that in everything there is a methods, there is a process and we must be patient and allow life to takes it’s time, dry and develop. And it came to me also, that I am in this place in life. I am used to running, doing, working and accomplishing. Now is the time to let the methods of life unfold. To let the processes take place. And to just let it happen as it will.

It is amazing how much stress and pressure that can take off a person.

You have to have patience. Work hard, play hard, love hard. But know when to take a step back and let life unfold on its own.

Admit It

Ok I admit it. I have a bit of writer block.Those are two ugly words. especially for a writer. It’s not that I don’t have anything to write about really, it’s that I kind of get the feeling that I have written about it all before. What do I have to say that is new? fresh? Inspiring? Hmmmm.

I could write about painting my nails tonight and how great it is to be a girl. How we get to have all the fun. Maybe I could write about buying a new car, and how it is easier than I thought it would be. I really did think I was going to have to go through a Spanish style inquisition requiring detailed explanations about  my credit, income, tax returns, my pets names, blood type, shoe size, the secret recipe that makes my meatloaf to die for good (I will never tell!). Or how I have become one of those people who obsesses about their car, washes it all the time and parks in the furthest parking spot. (I have not resorted to taking up two spaces…but it’s not Christmas at the mall yet either).

Maybe I could write about what it is like to be a writer and search for corporate contracts. How to deal with contracting agencies, how to be a contractor, how to send out a ridiculous amount of resumes and such per day. How to stay focused and not get discouraged or terrified when thinking about bills (alcohol helps. So does yoga. Oh wait, I don’t do yoga…)

Or maybe a nice piece on housecleaning – how I am scared to look under my bed and the fact that the dust bunnies are at war with the hair balls from the cats. Or how about the fact that I am fostering cats for a wonderful animal rescue? Maybe the fact that I am swimmingly happy and enjoying the wonderfulness of a romance that makes my knees weak?

There is always writing about what to do in the rain, how to build an arc, the importance of taking swimming lessons (along with explaining why it is perfectly normal for a woman to have 10 pairs of black pumps – because we NEED them). I recently organized my shoes. That was a huge undertaking. I could always write about living with my sister…and the many laughs we have (who would have thought we could get along for this long and not kill each other??).

And then there’s politics! Nothing gets people talking more than voicing your political opinion. Gun control, Bengazi, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, Fast and the Furious scandal, the $100 million vacation scandal, healthcare, {fill in the name of the latest scandal here}.

Yes, I suppose those, and many more things, could be topics of writing.

And yet, nothing seems to strike my fancy. No wise words to impart.

But sometimes that is what happens when we go and go and go in life. At some point, we must rest and refill. We must take pause and take a moment before we have anything to give to the world. Sometimes we must hide away. Call it writers block, or taking a break, or being an introvert, or…whatever you like. But sometimes it is necessary to just breathe…in…and….out. To relax. To have nothing to do. But live life.

And so tonight I sit, at the computer typing. But ony after I have enjoyed my favorite TV show, some coffee, watching lighting dance across the sky. Only after spending time with my family and pets, and catching up with friends. And only after living and breathing. Yes, life is refilling me, nurturing my soul and gently rocking to sleep, dreaming of that which I can write. Later.