Stepping Outside the Box

We all have our comfort zones. I confess. I can be pretty bad. If I can’t win something, if I’m not good at it, I usually won’t participate. I’m competitive and I hate to lose. This is why I don’t do tennis and rarely do bowling. But, at least I know because I tried it.

But…

Trying something new is important. It’s exciting. It can be such a rush. Energizing. Envigorating.

Which is what I did this weekend. Although I can sing and write, I’ve always thought art was outside of my wheelhouse. And then, for one of my closest friends’ birthday, she decided to book a painting party at this place called Painting With a Twist.

Because we had a bigger group we got to use our own private room AND pick our painting. They supplied us with music, a teacher, smocks, easels, paints, and paint brushes. We got to bring our own wine and munchies.

The teacher walked us through the painting process step by step. This is my base. We were supposed to make the backdrop a streaky gray. My inner rebel came out & I added a touch of magenta to give it a bit of my personality.

  

As you can tell, I started to get really into the process….

Next step was coloring in the feather. Turns out I either don’t take direction well or I need to dance to the beat of my own drummer because whenever she’d tell us what color she wanted us to use next, I went with the opposite.

But, I think my feather turned out pretty well, and I was finding the process to be interesting and a challenge. I painted, chatted, and sang along to the music they had playing.

  
This particular creative process was never one I thought I’d be any good at, but I was doing pretty well…

And then came the dreaded birds. They almost did me in… Can you see how serious I got?   

In fact, our whole group got pretty hard core… Determined not to be done in by the birds. This time, I tried it the instructor’s way. It didn’t work for me. Until she helped me touch one of my birds up and I found my own way.

  
By the time I was done it felt like I’d really accomplished something. Something I never knew I could. And it felt good! 

  

Not bad for an amateur, huh? 

What I’m saying is that this was a great reminder of why it’s so important to try something new. Something outside of your comfort zone.

When was the last time you did something you’ve never tried before? What was it? Did you have fun?

Life Lessons in Losing and Loss

Steps

Losing and Loss. Both can teach such strong lessons. But what we learn is entirely up to us. How we choose to view these potentially defining moments.

For example, Derek Redmond, a runner in the Barcelona Olympics was supposed to be a shoe in to win the gold, but the unexpected happened….

Imagine training your whole life for this one moment, and then something like that. I remember the first time I saw this… I knew it was a hammy. I’m pretty sure he did, too.

But he also knew he had a choice. What would you have done?

What he did blew my mind and had me in tears, applauding his courage.

His father ran out to him. (Yeah, that was his dad…who, in today’s world would’ve probably landed himself in jail at the very least for interrupting a sporting event.) He asked him what he wanted to do. At that point, there would’ve been no shame in giving up. But he didn’t come to the Olympics to give up! He may not have won, but he finished. And he had his father, who held off all the officials who tried to stop him, and the crowd supporting him.

In my book, that choice he made in what had to be one of the most devastating moments of his life, made him a winner. And someone to look up to.

And when it comes to loss, we have choices, too. Nothing has brought that home, lately, quite the way the attacks on Paris have. And yet, through the fear and terror…people reached out. Despite the danger, people reached out via Twitter to let others who were stranded and with nowhere to go where they could find a safe place, an open door.

The rest of us watched in both horror and heartache, offering what comfort we could by letting Paris know, much like they’ve supported us through some of our hardest times in history, that our hearts and thoughts were with them. We put up pictures and banners on Facebook, hoping to let them know we stood by them.

There was courage and friendship and unity. In that moment, it was all about love and support…as it should have been. (Unfortunately, that didn’t last, but that’s all about hate and politics, which I choose not to give a foot hold on my blog.)

I think we were all praying this sort of prayer for those stranded…. (I thought it appropriate to select a song from Les Miserables).

And in honor of all our French friends and allies… How awesome that this scene in Casablanca was already there for them when we needed a reminder that freedom requires folks to stand up and protect it?

So that’s what’s been on my mind lately… What about you?

Celebrate Love

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Today is hubby and my anniversary, so I wanted to take a moment to share how utterly amazing it feels to have someone who loves and supports you and your dreams through thick and thin, good and bad, and the failures as well as successes.

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He waited patiently for me to be ready, and it took me years. He took the heat as the guy dragging his feet about getting to the altar when it was really me, not wanting to rush or make a mistake…because I will only marry once. Yes, I believe in happily ever after.

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I’m blessed with a guy who loves God, me, and the Dallas Cowboys.

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Someone with whom I can share my adventures.

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Who isn’t afraid to get up and dance..

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Who appreciates my brand of humor and my naughty mind…

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Who loves coming back to Chicago as much as I do…

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Yup! He’s my home, my soul mate, and my best friend….and he’ll be my life long adventure.

My wish for all of you today is that you all have or find someone who loves you unconditionally, flaws and all.

(BTW, in honor of our anniversary,  my book Three For All is only $.99. Click the link on the sidebar if you’re interested.)

W is for Wanton

Wanton

I’m not going to lie…. When I went looking for the literal translation of wanton, it bothered me. Why? Because I wasn’t thrilled with the way the archaic version of the word singled out women. Don’t get me wrong, I’m all cheers for anyone who is sexually immodest. Who embraces their bedroom beast. But considering how, historically speaking (especially in patriarchal societies), women have been oppressed into hiding that they even have a sex drive, to see my gender singled out… Grrr.

…And off my soapbox. Just to be clear, when I’m talking wanton, I’m being gender neutral. Mostly because I believe that overall life in general and sex in particular should be lived with wanton abandon.

Be wanton enough to chase your dreams, uninhibited by fear or judgment of others. Throw yourself feet first into your passion. No safety net.

Be wanton enough to explore your passions and desires. Share them with a lover. Don’t be afraid to try something at least once.

Be wanton with honestly sharing your feelings. Fear of rejection can destroy many wonderful life opportunities before they’ve even started. You’ll never know until you’re honest.

Love wantonly. It’s never a mistake, even if it isn’t always reciprocated.

Give yourself over to the life you deserve by pursuing it with raw, wanton passion.  And when those times come that it doesn’t work out? Learn from them so that the next adventure you wantonly chase is even bigger and better than the next!

U is for Unwritten

Unwritten

How much time do you spend living in the past? Reminiscing over past memories. Dwelling on past victories….or sometimes mistakes.

While it’s true that it’s our past experiences that often shape how we view the world, it’s also true that focusing attention there can cause you to miss your present; your life. Believe it or not, it’s easy to be so busy looking back that you miss the entire beautiful view in front of you. You’re facing the wrong way!

Stand in your present.

Take a good look around.

Where do you want your life to be? What path would you like to follow? You have choices! You may not be able to change the past because it’s already over and done, but the future?

Well that’s all yours to write! Where do you want it to take you? What’s the first step you’re going to take to get you there? Because only you have the ability to write this story and it’s outcome.

Want that happy ending? What are you willing to do to create it?

S is for Sex Appeal

Sexy

What is sexy?

If you were to ask the average adolescent they’d probably tell you it’s a hottie dressed in provocative clothes. Or lingerie that leaves nothing to the imagination.

And if you asked them what sex appeal was, they’d probably give a similar answer.

As we mature, we start to realize there’s so much more to sex appeal than hot, half naked, and obvious.

MeowWhat comes to mind for you when you think of someone who oozes sex appeal?

For me, it’s intelligence and humor. Somehow they seem to manifest themselves in the playfully irresistible grins or the knowing, intent looks.

CleverYeah, for me, intelligence is an amazing turn on. So is someone comfortable in their own skin.

Sexy Soul

Confidence is hot. So is honesty. And honor.

Yeah. What people seem to forget is that sexy is predominantly mental. Not physical (although being in great health is also sexy).

What things do you find irresistibly sexy? What screams sex appeal to you?

R is for Romance

Everyone has their own unique ideas of what romance is or is not.

When I was younger, I had that tv idealized version of what romance was. You know, the one where the handsome dreamboat sweeps you off your feet a la Prince Charming?

Back then romance was a boy who wanted to do all those images that danced in my head. Walk on the beach hand in hand. Make soft, gentle love in front of a fire after feeding each other fruits, cheeses, and wines. Or maybe he’d fight for me against some equally and some guy who had nefarious intent in mind… 

Yeah. They’ve all been well used tropes in many a romance novel. Heck, practically the only stereotype I didn’t hold up was the billionaire boyfriend, and that’s probably because I always figured I’d be rich enough in my own right…and I have always found love to be more important than financial security.

But as I lived a little more life, my ideas of romance changed. Drastically.

 

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When I was online and would be approached by men, I’d ask what they liked. Answers that included walks on the beach, quiet nights by the fire, or giving massages (foot or otherwise) to their romantic interests tended to get a snort and a cynical eye roll. 

I grew up. I was no longer interested in the predictable pat answers that were more than likely either lines to get a woman in the sack or really were into those things. If they were the latter, they were definitely too soft & too much of a pushover for me. I am more intense and not so easily impressed with outward trappings. If it’s the former, I’d lost a bit of respect for their lack of honesty & need to play games.

These days, romance to me is centered more around open communication, a willingness to share fantasies, honesty, someone who has both shared and differing interests from me. He may love to do things like surprise me with my favorite sweet treat or cooking me dinner. He loves hanging out with me as much as his friends. His mouth is both orally talented and verbally, too. Yes, a smartass with a sense of humor is practically mandatory for a woman like me. 

Most important thing for me when talking romance? Someone who loves and accepts me just the way I am. Warts and all. Proud of my accomplishments and can’t wait to introduce me to the people and things in his life that he’s passionate about, and dying to learn the same about me. 

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I guess what I’m saying is…. These days, romance these days is a shared sense of adventure, unconditional acceptance, laughter, honesty, and a sense of joy in the little surprises that let me know he listens, he cares, and he just loves doing something nice for me for no other reason than it makes him happy to put a smile on my face. 

What about you? What screams romance to you? Is it the same thing that it was in your youth? Have you been fortunate enough to find the person who has brought it into your life? What’s the most romantic gesture you’ve ever recieved?