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The Lesson of Driving

I have been given the task of teaching my nephew how to drive.  Well actually, his grandmother (my Mom) taught him the basics, I just have to make sure he has expereince in traffic so he can get his liscense and not wreck when he starts driving. Sounds simple.

I am not sure how my parents managed to teach us how to drive and still have a liver left. My nephew has done very well, and yet by the time the lesson is over, the only thing I want to do is go to the liquer cabinet and pour something straight, forget the rocks.

Maybe it’s because it’s my new car that is being driven. Maybe because it’s my car. Maybe because I am old and drive like an old person. Maybe because I understand just how fragile life is and how in a second everything can change.  Maybe I need to drink before the driving lesson. But being the driving instructor scares the crap out of me.

The key to being a good and successful driving instructor is to let ever let the student know that you are scared. And no yelling. Ever. The last thing my nephew, or any young person learning to drive, needs is to hear me yelling “STOP!!’ or “TURN Here Now!!” The poor kind would have a heart attack and kill us both. I have found that a calm instructor makes a calm student.  And most of the time it is fine, as he is very good student. But in those moments when he does what all young drivers do…I take a deep breath, find something to hold onto, press my foot hard against the floor (like that makes him press the breaks faster??) close my eyes and say nothing. When we get home, that is the time to tell him, that the proper way to handle that next time.

I have to say that I am proud of him, driving now. We drove last night at dusk, in the rain, with quite a bit of traffic. He did good.

So we drive around the neighborhood. We go to the grocerystore and the post office. We drive to d whatever arrends need to be done. And at the end, he learns to drive, I enjoy and nice tall one and we both have a sense that we have accomplished something.

and that is what is important.

The Fuzzy Life

So I have a big “S” on my forehead. Especially when it comes to anything cute and furry. One of my best friends has run and animal rescue group for almost 2 years. And for the first year I was really good – I helped out with money donations, would always be available to promote special needs animals and provided a safe place for her to vent when things got overwhelming for her. I never once took in an animal.

And then…I agreed to foster two feral cats. Well, they were kind of feral as in they didn’t hate humans and might be friendly at some point, but who didn’t trust humans enough to actually be friendly. What does it take to tame a cat? A lot of time, patience and yummy food treats.

Then my friend showed me the two “bottle babies.” Bottle babies are baby cats that have lost their mother but are not old enough to be weaned, so you have to feed them from the a bottle. She mentioned that she had no place for them to go and was not sure what she was going to do with them. Oh yes, my friend is a master.

And I am a sucker for anything cute and fuzzy. And these fuzzy babies are adorable wrapped up in an extra layer of cute. I mean you just want to eat them with a spoon they are so cute!  One look at them and that was it…I heard it. You know, that sound when you get completely sucked into something? Yep.

So every 3-4 hours my family and I (because yes, everyone is involved in it at this point) feed them. And any friends who come in the house are expected to help feed and cuddle them too. They meow and play, then eat and play, then rest and play, then play and play. They are learning how to run, well, actually waddle at fast speeds, tumble, wrestle with each other, jump and scoot around backwards.  They have big round full bellies, the cutest little noses and eyes that close in happiness when they eat. They have learned to purr, and do so frequently when snuggling after eating.

They love to nuzzle around in long hair. They love to run under the coffee table where we cannot get them. They love to sniff my other cats, who are not quite sure what to make of these mini-cats. They are a joy to watch and they do not have to do anything but exist to be adored. You  cannot hold one of them without falling in love with them. And one day soon, they will make wonderful pets.

And so right now, my life is completely full of family and cats. My sister and nephew living with me, my two furry babies that I own, the two no-longer0feral cats, and the two bottle babies. And while I do enjoy having the extra furry love, I am looking forward to when they are all adopted out and we get back to a two cat home!

If you want to save a life, adopt a rescue pet, or agree to foster! It’s worth the time and effort.

If You’re Comfortable, You May Be Doing Something Wrong

Let’s face it, life is hard. Being an adult? Sometimes not all it’s crack ed up to be. Aside from the fact that we get to eat dessert first, there are a lot of responsibilities of being an adult. There’s a lot of pressure. Just when when we survive adolescence, with all the awkwardness, body parts, hormones, zits, voice changes and growing spurts, we get a dose of reality called adulthood. Really, who was the genius who thought that up?

But we made it through being a teenager, and we can make it through being an adult too. What’s the secret? I don’t know, but I think that if you’re comfortable, you are probably doing something wrong.

That may sound counter-intuitive. Go ahead and read it again, I’ll wait…

What that means, at least to me, is that when you stay in your comfort zone, you are not learning, not growing. If you want to be successful, if you want to follow your dreams, get used to being uncomfortable. Because stepping out of your comfort zone, is by it’s very nature, uncomfortable. And it also means taking risks.

There is a saying that well behaved women never make history. Its very true, for men and women. You have to be a little bit of a rebel to be successful, you have to not be afraid of discomfort. It’s kind of like exercising: If you feel the burn, you know it’s working. You also can’t be afraid of anyone else opinion of you. People may call you crazy, silly, stupid, whatever. But as long as you have the vision, then you’re OK. Don;t worry about what “they” think. “They” don’t know anything.

Take a look at the most successful people in the world – Steve jobs, Bill Gates, Donald Trump, JK Roland, Richard Branson, even George Washington and Thomas Jefferson…they were all willing to stretch themselves, take risks, gamble a little and get out of there comfort zone. Now where they concerned about what other people thought.

Success isn’t just monetary, it could being a singer in a band, starting your own business, going back to school, making a career change, leaving your spouse, or whatever it is that would make you happy. Get uncomfortable. Nothing great ever happened to people who just sat watching TV wondering “what if.”

Those risks may require making sacrifices, and that may make you feel even more uncomfortable, but it’s worth it. It may mean taking that job that you really don’t want so you can save up enough money to take that trip, or start your own business. It may mean leaving everything you know, it may mean losing a bit of money and it will definably mean making a lot of mistakes. But so what? As long as you learn something, that’s what’s important.

And really what do you have to loose? You already haven’t accomplished whatever it is…so if you fail, so what? At least you tried. And you’ll learn something, meet new people, have some new experiences and maybe even a few new stories to tell along the way.

I have been blessed to be a successful writer. That meant being poor for quite a while. That meant leaving my comfy job to strike out on my own and do freelance work. That also meant taking many jobs I didn’t like in order to pay the bills. And it took a hellava lot of hard work. But here I am. And how do I know which writing projects to take on next? Which ever ones will make me the most uncomfortable, which ever ones make me a little scared and make me wonder if I can really do it.

Never stop growing, never stop learning, and always be willing to be uncomfortable. You’ll be amazed at how great it can be.

Belly Dance Beauty

“Stop talking, start dancing. Soon you will know what you need to know.” -Anon

My sister and I went to belly dance class tonight and it was much fun. We are starting to really get comfortable with the moves, the shakes and the shimmies. It is a lot of fun.

The first class that I took they told me how the history of belly dance is that it was never meant to be seen by men, That the women are separated from the men and the dance started as a way for women to celebrate their bodies and what it means to be a woman, what it means to be feminine. And the dances are passed down from mothers to daughters.

There are no men allowed in the class and there are no observers allowed. So when you go in, it truly is a celebration of your body, learning extreme muscle control, learning to move in ways that you never thought your body could move. It is a great way to celebrate your body. To learn how to roll your stomach muscles, learned how to move your hips separate from your knees and stomach. It is fascinating and beautiful to learn and watch my hips move in these ways taught in the class, to watch my stomach, chest and arms, my legs and watch the movements of my whole body come together. Indeed, it makes me feel sexy and feminine.

And as I push my body past what I think it can do, as the sweat builds on my chest and face, first little beads, then slowly dripping down into dark places, as my breath catches because I am concentrating, I feel wonderful. Empowered. As I push past the pain and the fatigued muscles, I feel sensual and confident.

And when I walk into a room, I know a little secret…that I can move my hips in a way that others can’t. That I can move in a way that celebrates my body and femininity. Yes, it is wonderful to be a woman.

“Locked in this dance is a secret language that tells the story of women’s lives… their passions and their spirituality, their sacrifices, their joys, their intuitions, their emotional life drama.” —Delilah

The Friendhsip Contract

I Will hate the same people you hate, and re-like them as you do.

Unless it is some jerky boyfriend. Then I reserve the right to not like him, but pretend to like him for your sake. And I will secretly hope a piano falls on his head. I also reserve the right to make faces behind him when you are talking to him, or “accidently” kick him under the table.

I will always be honest about how you look.

I will never let you leave the house for work/date/social event if you do not look great. I will not ever be mean about it, but I will make sure you never leave the house in anything that makes you look fat. I will also always tell you if you have something stuck in your teeth or have something hanging out of your nose. I will also tell you if you have “that leak” around your time of the month.

I will always know your cycle

and have appropriate feminine products at my house and in my purse so you are never stranded without. I do reserve the right to make fun of you for still using maxi pads.

I will keep your secrets

and only joke about them when no one is around…or when no one will get the reference.

I will have your favorite snacks at my house

If there is a break up involved I will haul ass to the store to make sure I have your favorite ice cream, chocolate snacks and alcoholic beverage beverages.

Help clean your house when it is dirty.

When you are going through a rough time, are super busy. I will come and help clean your house. I will also help set up then clean up after parties.  I will also co-chair all of your parties/events with you. And if your house is not available for your events, my house will be open.

But I can always ditch you

if there is a chance for incredible, hot, amazing sex. Especially if it is with that hot guy that I have had a crush on forever. But I must make it up to you by telling him you are my best friend, that I love you dearly and I must give you appropriate details the next day.

I will help you pack and Move.

This is a big part of the friendship contract. Anytime you move, no matter how many times, I will be there to help pack and move it. I will help you move out of the boyfriends, out of the bad apartment with bugs, out of the bad roommate situation. I will hate it, especially if you have not packed much before I get there, but I will be there.

Buy candy that your kids sell for school.

And wrapping paper, and jewelry, and popcorn and…whatever. All of it, until I have a closet of useless stuff that your kids of sold. I will also take care of your kids if you die.

Drink with you.

I promise to be there with wine, beer or whatever adult beverage of your choice for whatever occasion is needed. I will also pay for your drinks and or dinner if you are broke.

I will watch your pets while you are on vacation,

No matter how strange, big, weird or unfriendly they are. I will come over and feed your dog, change your cats litter box, talk to your snake, make sure your hamster, goldfish, iguana, bird are all OK. But I can make fun of you for having such weird pets.

We borrow each others clothes.

All the time. And if I really like a sweater of yours, I can always keep it in my closet and you can come and visit it on occasion. And even though we still call it your sweater, you will understand that is really is mine now.

Hold you hair back when you get sick,

And put a cold rag on your forehead and help.you in and out of bed. Whether it’s the flu or a bad hang over, I will be there.

Listen to your problems, over and over and over.

And over. But I will give you a kick in the pants when you need it. You have the right to be shitty for a certain period of time. But beyond that, I will tell you when you need to get it together.

I will defend you to anyone who does not like you.

And I will refuse to like them. Ever.

Tell you to keep your Susie-Stalker crazy self in a box.

It’s Ok to be Susie-Stalker with your best friends, but not to that hot guy. Keep it in a box and stay in your lane.

Facebook stalk the guys you like with you.

And I will agree that they look hot and the things they “Like” are compatible with yours.

Check on your boyfriend after a fight for you.

When you have a bad fight and you want to check and make sure he is either at his house, his guy hang out bar, or the office, I will drive by his stomping ground and report back to you.

Pick you up at any time of the day or night

When you are too drunk to make it home, when you are sick, when your car dies in the middle of nowhere.

Not get mad at you for taking me for granted.

If you don’t say thank you, don’t call me back or disappear because you fell in love, I promise to pick things up right where they left off when you resurface. It would be nice if you did send a text or email every now and then just to touch base.

I will listen to you lament about your latest crush and/or broken heart.

I will help you plan drunk revenge schemes and promise to hide the bodies in the trunk until we bury them. In the words of the Dixie Chicks, Earl Had to Die.

To never let you leave with that hot guy, no matter how hot he is, in a bar.

I will hunt you down and take you from his car if I have to to make sure you do not end up a headline on the news. We girls have to watch out for each other.

How to Respect Yourself in a Relationship

Madonna sang about it and made it famous. Respect Yourself. Go for what you want and need in a relationship and don’t settle. Pop songs can rarely be applied to real life, but maybe the singer was onto something. When you are in a relationship, how do you respect yourself enough to not loose yourself? How do you know where that line is that should not be crossed?

Aside from the obvious – no physical abuse, no criminal activity – sometimes defining just how to do this can be a bit tricky, even for a feisty red-head like me. And when you really care about someone, it can be easier said than done. But basically it comes down to this: Respect yourself.

If you don;t respect yourself, then why would anyone else. No one will respect you any more than you respect yourself. Have standards. Love should not hurt and someone who loves you will not do anything to hurt you intentionally. Have pride in yourself and walk away from anyone who tears you down, makes you feel bad for wanting to be treated well, or makes you think that you do not deserve to be respected. A person who loves you will not disrespect you.

If you are in a relationship, you are going to hurt each other at some point, that is par for the course and part of the deal. Respecting yourself though is not about the occasional spat or even cross word. It is not about who left whose dirty socks on the floor or squeezed the toothpaste tube in the middle. It has to do with being treated at a certain level – as a human being. Girls, if the man you are with lies about something (like when his divorce is final), he will lie to you about other things.Respect yourself enough to not allow him to lie to you this way. Hold him accountable for not only his actions but his words, and walk.  

Forget about second and third, and 100th chances. and ut’s not your job to try to understand them or why they are mistreating you. It’s not your place to make excuses for them. You are not the jerk whisperer. Nor would you ever want to be.

If he says he loves you, then you find out that he is seeing other women, he doesn’t love you. Respect yourself enough to know that you deserve better. Don’t settle. Walk out the door and know that nice people, normal people, do not treat others in such a cruel and damaging way. If he balks at the fact that you have called him out on his bad behavior, if he doesn’t like you knocking on the door when you catch him cheating when another car is in his driveway or you find messages on his phone or such, then walk. You deserve better and there are too many wonderful, kind and amazing men out there to settle for someone who is so uncaring that he would let others suffer.

And some people think that if you care about or love someone, that that gives them the right to mistreat you. No it does not. No matter how much I love someone, I will not let them mistreat me. Period. And if they try to mistreat me, they will quickly see this little red-headed girl put down the law in a matter of seconds.

So chin up, and respect yourself to know that you deserve someone who treats you with kindness and caring, someone who means it when they say I love you, someone who doesn’t cherishes you and makes you feel like you are the only girl in the room. And know that, just like Calvin says, normal people do not destroy other human beings.

So what does Madonna have in common with Calvin and Hobbs? Now you know.

Loves Labor

Today has been on e of those days that reminds you how lucky you are to be alive and have the life you do. First of all, it was a beautifl day with beautiful weather. The windows were open, the fan on. There was laughter, TV watching, rice crispie treats and good times.

But in the back of my mind, I had to say a prayer. A man I knew 7 years ago was going to his son’t funeral today. His son committed suicide, and he and his family have to find a way to pick up the pieces.

And so as the day went on, there was nothing that could keep me from beeing thankful for the life I have. No matter what happens, no matter what issues or hick ups, I am here, I’m alive, and that in itsself is a huge gift and blessing. We are given the gift of life, no one promises that will be easy, no one promised that it would be fair.

So, take care of the life you have, treat the people in your life well. They say a man’s charactor can be judged by how he treats those who can do nothing for him. Yes, indeed. And you never know when those people who can do nothing for you today will be in a position to help or hinder you down the line. Karma is a bitch of a mistress, so make sure it’s pleasent visit when she comes to call.

Because the best way to show your appreciation and thankfulness for the life you have been blessed enough to have been given, is to treat those around you well.  It may be hard, but life will multiply when you do right by others. you will flurish.

And every day, I want people to see how thankful I am by seeing how I treat those around me.