Friday, May 31, 2013

Lesson Learned: the Stove is Hot!

How many times to do you have to tell a child that the surface of a stove is hot before they learn to listen to you instead of touching it with their finger and then crying about it after?

Apparently when you are dealing with a 34 year old single mom - A LOT!  I gave into the ‘hot loneliness’ feeling and just wanted a distraction so I texted Hot Hair.  Again, I hear the sigh of disapproval from strong, independent women everywhere.

He didn’t text back on Monday, why would I have anything to say to him on Thursday?  In my defense, I’m a dreamer. Whenever I’m in a situation where I make the unwise choice, I hold out hope beyond hope that this time things will go differently and that dream of a better ending wins I send the unwise text.  Guess what - a hot stove is a hot stove, no matter how many times you touch it - it will burn you!

We exchanged a few texts and again, right in the middle of the conversation about hanging out, he just didn’t text back.  My cheeks were burning so bright red with embarrassment you would have thought I was a 5 year old who just came in from the cold after building a snowman in the dead of winter.  

I spent the rest of last night (and this morning) shaming myself for making such a rookie move and now looking like I’m ‘available’ to him at his whim.  That is not the case!  No matter how Hot your Hair is, next time I see you, you will receive the blow off that you justly deserve!  (side note: I was the one who blew him off last summer and again this spring, however i at least sent a polite text saying I was otherwise engaged...”no text back” is brutally cold!)

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Tigers Above, Tigers Below

This eloquent and lovely story below is from Pema Chondron’s weekly Heart Advice.  As I woke up this morning grumpy with frustrations from my job, anxiety about not hearing from Hot Hair and overwhelmed by the demands from my daughter combined with my mother’s impending move, I was feeling Tigers all around and was commiserating at my circumstances.  

Then the doorbell rang and movers arrived with my childhood piano, being delivered from my mom’s home to mine. I have loved, downright adored this piano my whole life. I love the smooth feeling of the keys beneath my fingers, the perfect weight that they have as each note is derived from precise pressure, and the few signs of wear that came from my mom’s attention and musical affections as a child and then again from me during my youth and into my adulthood.  Now it is in my home and my daughter will be able to love the piano as much as the two generations before her.  Suddenly, I saw the patch of strawberries, and I enjoyed the moment.

There is a story of a woman running away from tigers. She runs and runs, and the tigers are getting closer and closer. When she comes to the edge of a cliff, she sees some vines there, so she climbs down and holds on to the vines. Looking down, she sees that there are tigers below her as well. She then notices that a mouse is gnawing away at the vine to which she is clinging. She also sees a beautiful little bunch of strawberries close to her, growing out of a clump of grass. She looks up and she looks down. She looks at the mouse. Then she just takes a strawberry, puts it in her mouth, and enjoys it thoroughly.

Tigers above, tigers below. This is actually the predicament that we are always in, in terms of our birth and death. Each moment is just what it is. It might be the only moment of our life, it might be the only strawberry we’ll ever eat. We could get depressed about it, or we could finally appreciate it and delight in the preciousness of every single moment of our life.

Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Memorial Day Madness

The beach weekend kicked off over Memorial Day and I returned for another year of splitting a beach house with a bunch of young professionals in Avalon.  As soon as I arrived at the popular bar in the beach town, I got a text from Hot Hair (went out a few times in the summer of ‘11, hung out a few times in the summer of ‘12).  He asked where I was and quickly came to meet me.  As he walked up, he hair looked as hot as ever and he had a smoldering look in his eye. He gave me a big, warm hug and said, “you look fantastic, you look exactly the same as the day I met you!”  That’s all that it took for me to step outside of my self-chosen Convent and commence melting.  

We hung out Friday night and Saturday night and he said we should hang out in the city sometime because he just bought a place there. I said that sounded good and after a weekend filled with smoldering looks and compliments (practically soul food for a single gal), I was looking forward to seeing him again.

I left the beach on Sunday to spend the rest of the weekend with Grace and good friends. All around a fantastic weekend. I texted Hot Hair on Monday evening and in a flirty way asked how the rest of the beach weekend was and he wrote back a bland, normal answer. I sent a second very cute text about the rest of my weekend and awaited a response.  Crickets. Crickets. He never wrote back!  I had forgotten one key thing - he is flaky!  I discovered this early on after we met 2 summers ago. Rediscovered it again last year. And here he is yet again...same hot hair, same flakiness.

While I am sure I’ll hear from him again, I also know he pays attention only to what is right in front of him in the moment.  So I’m not taking it personally but at the same time there is a bit of disappointment as I could have soaked in a few more smoldering looks and compliments before getting my fill.

Monday, May 20, 2013

Date: Navy Guy

“Until I meet someone who is better company than my dog, I am staying single” - me, May, 2013

On Friday night, I went out with a guy I met at Cinco de Mayo festivities a few weeks ago.  ‘Navy Guy’ (graduated from the Naval Academy and spent the next 12ish years in the military) is 2 years older than me, well dressed and good looking. After 2 weeks of nice texts, I was excited to meet face to face for a drink!

As we sat down, he shared various stories from the Navy that were new and interesting, as I don’t know anyone else who was in the Navy.  I marveled at how cute he was, with his hip hair and nice clothes.  It was off to a good start....or so I thought...then he moved from his commentary on the Navy to his friends to his divorces to his family - explaining his thoughts in detail - but not once asking a single question about me! He moved into politics and discussed his distaste for the liberals and for a bunch of policies that I zoned out, choosing instead to bop to the beat of whatever was on the jukebox at the time. The apex of the evening came when he was arguing a point in a conversation about going to Afghanistan and then flipped and made a completely contradictory statement. I asked “which point are you arguing?” and he said “I don’t know, I just like to argue”.  I informed him that, on that note, I had to get up early with Grace the next morning and needed to get going (although it was only 9:30 at night!). I can say that I did enjoy myself solely due to the fact I was wearing the new perfume that Grace (aka me) gave me for Mother’s Day and I could smell the lovely fragrance all night while I listened to his views on everything from politics to family to war to religion.

I sent him a text the next day thanking him for the drink and said that I didn’t get the feeling he was interested in dating someone right now (as generally when you are interested in getting to know someone, you ask questions about them in an attempt to actually get to know them!).

Thursday, May 16, 2013

Making frends with 'cool loneliness'

I started catching up on my Pema reading (Pema Chodron: When Things Fall Apart) and pleasantly surprised to pick right up at the chapter on loneliness. Pema differentiates between the hot loneliness where you will do anything to escape and not feel it, and cool loneliness which is hard to define outside of the person who is lonely is also super cool (obviously, this is the case with me).  But I’ll defer to the expert - Pema says, “When we draw a line down the center of a page, we know who we are if we’re on the right side and who we are if we’re on the left side. But we don’t know who we are when we don’t put ourselves on either side. Then we just don’t know what to do. We just don’t know.  We have no reference point, no hand to hold. At that point we can either freak out or settle in. Contentment is a synonym for loneliness, cool loneliness, settling down with cool loneliness.”

Funny how you read the exact thing that describes exactly where you are at that point in time. As I wrote before, my anxiety is way down but my loneliness has increased. So where does that leave me? I still don’t know. The general feeling of contentment that now underlies each action (as opposed to the previous feeling of anxiety which was under each action) is so new that I can’t make heads or tales of what it is, except that it isn’t bad...and sometimes it is even GOOD.  

On an unrelated but very contented note, do you know what makes a good day? When you find out the route you’ve been running is a half mile longer than you originally thought and then you go and run a mile further and feel great! 

Friday, May 10, 2013

Wrapping up the Month of Me

As the Month of Me (loosely used, it may be closer to 6 weeks) wraps up, I can confidently say that my anxiety has singificantly decreased whereas my contentment and overall perspective have significantly improved.  So much so that I plan to extend the month of me for another month...or more.

In the beginning of ‘the month’, I second-guessed my decision to stay solo for a while because I thought this might be the first step down a long, worn path to becoming the old lady who lives with many cats.  So it was fitting when I came across this article today on the Huffington Post, “To Date or Not to Date”, that validates, if not substantiates the need for a Month of Me - and the extension of that month into a longer time frame!

I will admit that I was out at a Cinco de Mayo party last weekend and met not one, but two guys (go figure!). One I quickly ruled out as an all-of-the-time joker.  He seems like a fun guy but hasn’t said one ‘real’ thing yet. The other guy looks good on paper and has asked me out but hasn’t set a date. Although my overall plan is not dating...this guy seemed very nice and he has a sense of style (in the laid back cool way, not in the high maintenence metro way) - so I said yes to the date (pending he follows through). Either way, it’s still the Month of Me. I’ve just agreeing to a friendly conversation with a well-dressed guy!

Thursday, May 9, 2013

In the Spirit of Mother's Day...

It is Thursday night and I’m already making a mental list and a partial physical pile of everything that is needed for Grace, Gram (my mom) and my trip to Ocean City, NJ for our annual Mother’s Day celebration.  In between packing chaos, I took a moment to catch up on emails from the week and thought I’d share these two articles from some of my closest mommy friends which I think are both relevant and fitting to where we are as parents who are still figuring out how to do it all and do it with grace :)  Enjoy!

Tuesday, May 7, 2013

”You share with the people who have earned the right to hear your story.”

I was watching a segment of Brene Brown’s discussion on vulnerability with Oprah on Super Soul Sunday, and Brene definitely stated,”You share with the people who have earned the right to hear your story.”

This instantly hit home as I’ve been feeling disconnected in my new workplace. I do not have “a person” (as Meredith Grey frequently refers to as Christine Yang). I don’t have someone I can truly confide in about my own concerns, insecurities and anxieties that arise from a new job and the associated challenges. At this point in our lives, it is abundantly clear that the only path to true connection is through vulnerability. As such, I have selectively had conversations where I was vulnerable with a few coworkers that I thought may understand.  These conversations were received with varying levels of validation and empathy but one thing that has not happened is reciprocation. I don’t know if everyone at this company is afraid to be vulnerable or if it is generally taken as a sign of weakness to be vulnerable (aka real) in the workplace.  Either way I’ve been feeling isolated and disconnected.

During the interview, Oprah and Brene remark that if you have one friend who ‘shows up’ for you when you are vulnerable, that is all you need. And if you have 2 or 3 friends who ‘show up’, consider yourself lucky. Well, I must be the luckiest superhero on the planet because I need two hands to count the number of close friends who show up and support me not just when I’m feeling vulnerable but when they are too. True friends that you know will not judge or critique but who show empathy and compassion as we are all trying to ‘grow our gardens’ in a sometimes difficult environment (see earlier post).

I highly recommend checking out a few of Brene Brown’s segments with Oprah - they are chuncked into short bits by topic so you can glean amazing insights without being glued to your computer screen.  If you watch/have watched the interviews, please share any parts that hit home for you!

Monday, May 6, 2013

The Beauty of Gardening

I say that Summer is my favorite season because, as an always cold person, I love the heat and not feeling cold for an entire season. But the truth is, Spring is my favorite season because the tastes of warm weather and everything blooming makes me excited to get up in the morning as every day is literally bright and new.  Things are warming up, both physically in the outside world and mentally for most of us who have now suffered through months of light deprivation.  New beginnings are all around.

As I was talking to Little Buddha about the 2nd anniversary of my divorce (yes, I let the two year anniversary pass without so much as a blog post!), I told her that year 1 was survival and year 2 was rebuilding -- so what is year 3 is ??  It is a new feeling to look around and see  that what you used to view as devastation is now beginning to grow again and is really wonderful - to literally reap the benefits of what has been sown.

This beautiful analogy is compliments of Little Buddha:
It’s like gardening, but in years.  You plant a seed and you don’t even see it grow for how long?  Then it starts to grow a little.  You may have a bird, bug, animal come along and chew it or eat it, which is as frustrating as it is depressing.  You either try again with a new seed or have something left so you try and repair it.  You try different things to keep the little buggers away.  Then you may end up doing the damage yourself.  You may overwater, underwater… and you try again.  You may even give up and not care anymore so you just water here and there and pay little attention to it.  Finally one day you walk outside and see this little thing coming out of the ground and you look at it in amazement, but you still don’t focus too much on it for fear of being disappointed again.  You keep doing what you are doing and figure if it grows, it grows.  Again one day you go outside and wow, you see a little blooming going on.  It’s little moments like these that you are reminded “oh my gosh, I love life”.

Thursday, May 2, 2013

Something has gone really wrong...or right?

Last night Grace was at her father’s and I had a free night to myself. I went for a run, ate my favorite meal (cereal!) and watched some TV. As they night went on I felt lower and lower.  What should be my independent free night felt more like a prison sentence in the isolation cell.  I mentioned to a friend that my life was feeling lame and it seemed like something went very wrong along the way. Then I paused and wondered if it was true. Sure, the divorce happened. That was certainly a bump. But is my life forever altered for the worst?  My mom sold her house and is moving up here. Grace and I are soaking in the warmer weather with outdoor activities, and I’m spending my weekend with my frends. It seems to me that something must be going really right for me to be so lucky.  

Once I made that shift in thinking, from feeling lame for being solo for one night, to feeling lucky for the bigger picture of things, my mood lightened. There is an old saying the “beauty is in the eye of the beholder” and I think this is doubly true for happiness.