What Makes Me #Embraceable?

Everyone is just a little bit different. It’s what makes us beautiful AND what bonds us.

But how often have you lost yourself?

Forgot to believe in you?

Been afraid to show your true colors?

Your sexuality?

I’ve been fortunate to work together with August McLaughlin and some of the most beautiful souls in the world to bring this labor of love to you guys…and it’s finally released on paperback!

Here’s a little bit of what I shared in the book on the subject of “Slut” Shaming:

Maybe part of me is still that young girl, fighting back against those bullies

who dared name me a “slut.” Maybe it’s simply my way of trying to help other

people understand that there’s nothing wrong or dirty about sex, but rather the

shaming and judgment that seem to follow it.

 

Yes, there’s more to the story than that….but you’ll have to read it to find out more. I truly believe that this book is powerful enough to change the world if we let it…

And the voice who brought us together? Well, August is generously doing a giveaway right HERE to celebrate the release of this amazing book that includes jewelry, gift cards, and more!

But if you’d like to purchase your own copy, please… feel free! Part of the proceeds are going to supply womens shelters with much needed feminine hygiene products! Buy your copy HERE!

And while you’re there… you can always pick up a copy of my book, Four One Night, which is on sale this weekend for $.99!

But, back to the above questions….

What makes you Embraceable?

Everything!

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?

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!

It’s Just a Hallmark Holiday, Right?

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of cuteimage at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

 

The longer I’ve lived, the more I’ve grown to wonder something.

When exactly did love become a noun? Isn’t it supposed to be a verb? An action verb, at that? And if I’ve learned nothing in my years on this earth, I’ve also learned that there are two things that are not for wimps. Long termed relationships and aging. And sometimes I think aging might be easier because there’s really nothing that can be done about the passing of time except maybe make healthy choices to make that passage a bit easier.

Love, the lasting kind, takes a lot of work. It’s not all roses, hot bodies, and rampant sex despite how much I adore the books and movies that tout this message. Is some of that a part of it? Absolutely! Would they be so popular otherwise? I may not be a therapist, but here’s my take on the impact of these things:

  • Roses, candies, cards, and romantic gestures- They let your partner know that you’re thinking of them. That they’re a priority to you and that (especially if you’ve been together for longer periods of time) you aren’t taking their presence in your life for granted.
  • Hot bodies- Okay, so more often than not, this isn’t always your own or your partner’s, but rather the viewing of others for the purpose of fantasies (hopefully shared and communicated with one another to keep your relationship fresh and interesting). But if it is yours, even better! The message your sending is that you care to keep yourself in tip top shape so your partner can admire and enjoy your physique for years to come….and that you want to make sure you live a nice long life so that you can spend as much time with the people you love as humanly possible.
  • Rampant sex- So over time this may slow down from 3-5 times a day to several times a week/month. The thing about sex, though, is that it’s hugely important so that you maintain the physical and emotional connection with your partner. Listen, that hot and heavy, can’t-take-my-hands-off-of-you passion can be cyclical. But that doesn’t mean that shared comfort and vulnerability is anything to turn your nose at. That vulnerability and connection is a form of communication, too. It is a type of comfort, release, and a way of sharing your most intimate self.

Think for a second about a parent/child relationship.  When a child screws up, does a parent just walk away because it’s too hard? Do they quit caring? Do they find another child that might be “easier” to deal with? But isn’t that what we do all too often in relationships when the going gets tough?

How many times have you heard someone talk about a marriage and end with a shrug and “if it doesn’t work out, we can always get divorced?” Is that really giving a relationship a fair shake?

My heart has been aching for a few friends who’ve recently come to me, speaking about their relationships in terms of ending them. And don’t get me wrong… I’m well aware that there are plenty of things that can happen to permanently destroy a relationship. And I’ll always support my friends, regardless. But there’s so much damage done to a person’s spirit when relationships end and the connection, the trust, and the partnership are severed.

I’m lucky. My guy and I have been through ups and downs…22 years worth. Regardless of all that life has thrown at us, he’s always been my very best friend. When I’m hurting, he’s the first one to open his arms and ask if I need a hug. He cheers me on, and I do the same thing for him. He understands who I am and accepts me unconditionally, even when he doesn’t always agree with the decisions I make. But he’s always in my corner, cheering me on in the good times. Building me back up through my failures. He listens to me. Believes in my dreams. And I do the same for him.

And we talk. Even when it’s not the easiest conversation. Or when the truth hurts. We still talk. And when one of us screws up, we apologize and mean it. If one of us is still holding on to hurt or anger, we share that, too, until we’re finally able to let things go. There have been times when we’ve both fought with each other and for each other, though as we’ve grown together, the “with each other” doesn’t happen as much.

And for those of you who have wondered how he handles the racy stories I write? He grins and shrugs. Does he read them? Bits and pieces every now and then. The girl on girl action scene in Four One Night? Yeah…. LOL! His response? Low key, like him. He just nodded and said it was hot.

He’s the other part of my heart and I wouldn’t have it any other way, but it’s work. Constant work. Worthwhile work. And the reward of him being such a core part of my life? Worth every sacrifice. I’ve told him that when I imagined my “dream man,” I never pictured him, but I thank God every day that he sent me everything I didn’t know I wanted and needed. Things I never dreamed of asking for past the superficial stuff.

Aren’t I lucky?

Now it’s your turn…. Share your thoughts on love. (By the way, you don’t have to agree with me or my thoughts. I’d still like to hear from you.)

Celebrating My Prince Charming

IMG_0437.JPG

My happily ever after began 5 years ago, today…or that’s what a piece of paper says. In reality, it started when I was 19 years old and too full of myself to notice it.

That’s how old I was when I first met my husband. Back then I mostly dated pretty boy GQ types who rarely challenged me to be “more” on any level. My mom would tell you that’s probably why, in my youth, I changed boyfriends as quickly as some people changed bed sheets. She claimed that they weren’t “smart” enough to capture my interest, so she never worried. She knew I would get bored.

Still, when Mr. Kitt came along, he wasn’t what my friends considered my type. They cautioned him not to get his hopes up. He’d just grin. He knew exactly what he wanted and wouldn’t be deterred. He became my best friend, instead.

Most guys would hate being “friend zoned,” but not him. He noticed my friends lasted longer. He got to know me. My hopes, my dreams, my loyalty, my fears. And I got to know him. His sneaky brilliance, his ability to see through the facade to the true face of people, his irrepressible humor and ability to talk meaningfully about anything.

He waited a year before he made his first move. I never encouraged him, thinking we didn’t really have any sexual chemistry. Boy, was I surprised when he proved how thoroughly wrong I was!

That was 21 years ago. Our friendship? 22 years.

Wedding Day

He’s taken the heat for years because the world assumed he was the reason it took us so long to get married. It wasn’t. He always knew what he wanted. Me? Let’s just say I had some scars. He knew it and he waited patiently for me to face them. He stood beside me all the while. He never let me get away with things. He was honest, even when it hurt. He challenged me. Made me think. And he expected the same from me.

Kiss

So today, I’d like to say Happy Anniversary to the patient, loving man who knows me inside & out and loves me anyway. You truly are my best friend and partner, and the person I want to share happily ever after with because I know with you it will never be boring. Thanks for all the adventures so far, can’t wait to see what’s next.

Lessons in Life and Love from Once Upon a Time

I wasn’t the girl who was hooked on Once Upon a Time from the beginning. I’d recorded it with the intent to watch, but somehow, I never did. Until the end of this last season. What I found was brilliant script writing, fairy tale characters I remembered, but spun to be virtually unrecognizable in the coolest way possible….and some awesome lessons in living and loving well if you paid attention.

If you know anything about fairy tales, you know that there are certain inalienable truths.

According to Shakespeare, “The path of true love never did run smooth.” The folks in Storybrooke, Maine would agree with that. In fact, they don’t even know it, but they’ve been trapped by a curse placed upon them by the evil queen to gain her revenge on Snow White, a local school teacher. Yes, when she activated the curse, she moved her world of magic into our world, a place where magic didn’t exist. In this world, no one remembered who they were or got happy endings…well, not until the “savior” arrived and the curse was broken.

Lesson: True love takes a lot of work, faith (both in yourselves and each other), and sacrifice. Problems and challenges don’t just disappear because you’ve found your true love. In fact, there will be times when you will lose sight of what’s important. In those times, the other part of you will rise up to the challenge–to believe and fight enough for you both.

Charming said it best. “I will always find you.”

Then there are the villains, Regina, the Evil Queen, and Rumplestiltskin…and even, to an extent, Regina’s mother, Cora. They’ve made some terrible, hateful decisions in the name of anger and revenge. But they are capable of love…and when they embrace that rarely used part of their souls, amazing things happen.

Lesson: With the power of love, no one is irredeemable. Flaws are there, and seen, but true love is acceptance, warts and all. Love means letting go of hate and anger, sometimes sacrificing yourself, to put someone else’s happiness and well being above your own.

Sometimes people will lose their way, forget who they are. In Storybrooke, this has happened quite literally. Charming lost his memory, for a while the entire town had no memory of their life in The Enchanted Forest, and Belle literally lost all her memories of Rumplestiltskin and their love. Sometimes losing their way can also be metaphoric. Snow lost sight of who she was in her quest for revenge, Pinnochio forgot his path and his responsibilities, even Red (yes, that’s Little Red Riding Hood) lost sight of the true meaning of family and acceptance when she met her mother.

Lesson: Those who love you will remember who you are and hold on to you. They won’t let you stay lost for long. They’ll remind you of just how important you truly are.

In life, we’re all bound to make mistakes. They don’t have to define us. In Once Upon A Time, Emma had given Henry up for adoption, thinking she had nothing better to offer him. He found her, and she fell in love. He was adopted by Regina, the Evil Queen, who had cast a curse of vengeance against Snow and Charming, Emma’s parents.

Lesson: Everyone has an opportunity to redeem themselves if they’re brave enough to take the chance. Love means owning your mistakes and moving forward. They don’t have to define who you are.

And finally, the most important lesson of all– “True Love is the most powerful magic of all.”

Yes, I’ve definitely got a soft spot for fairy tales. Always have. I love the way these ones are being told and blended into this beautiful tapestry. Are you a Once Upon A Time fan? Are there any lessons from the show that you’d like to impart? Is there another show that’s gotten you hooked? What life/love lessons did you catch?

 

Christmas: Dreams and Destiny

What did you want to be when you grew up? Do you remember your dreams? Your hopes?

Parents, when you held your precious little ones, did you ever wonder who and what they’d be when they grew up?

This Whitney Houston song from The Preacher’s Wife really spoke to me because it made me think about big dreams. Somehow, even knowing what they did about who Jesus would grow up to become, I wonder if Mary and Joseph were really able to wrap their minds around what that would mean.

Redemption

Sunrise

Sunrise

 

Now I lay me
Down to sleep.
Close my eyes,
Start to weep.
Gaze up at
A shining star,
Wonder how
I fell so far.

Where’s the girl
I used to be,
Filled with
Possibility?
Is she gone
Without a trace?
Would I even
Know her face?

When did she;
Forget to dream;
Trapped inside
A silent scream?

Close my eyes,
Contemplate.
Consider how
To change my fate
Reach out for
My destiny;
Be who I was
Meant to be.

Take a breath,
Dry my tears.
Greet the dawn,
Face my fears.
Whisper,
“Give it one more try.”
Look out world,
Watch me fly.

No more regrets.
Throw them away.
Step fearless to
The light of day.

The future’s mine
To shape and mold,
If I am willing
To be bold,
The endless
Possibility
Is waiting patiently
For me.

Hold tightly to
Life’s precious gift,
Enjoy life’s road,
Each bend and shift.
So if I die
Before I wake,
There’s no remorse
I have to take.

He’s A Slice Of Something Amazing!

Since losing my retail job back in July I’ve been writing. As many of you know, there is no such thing as instant financial gratification in writing. (I chuckled to myself even as I wrote that sentence.) Writing-doing it right, takes time. Even once you’re finished with your story, it needs editing, polishing…yadda, yadda, yadda. I am okay with that. Hubby and I talked. We’ve decided to use this time to allow me to pursue my dreams! He believes in me…believes I’m talented enough to make a go of this.

It’s a bit of a scary move for someone who’s been working in traditional jobs since she was 16 and has had two careers that lasted nearly 10 years each. I never considered it a viable dream before. Had it not been for the prodding of some very good friends, I might have gone back to find some other job that took over my life and stifled my passions. Fortunately, my support system is pretty amazing…so I’m following my dream.

Then came today…February 1st. Why is this such a big deal? Because that means Valentine’s Day is in 13 days. Many of you have known me for a while now and know 2 things:  I like to celebrate holidays/milestones and last year was rough. Last year around Valentine’s Day I was doing at least 4 double shifts a week and 6 day work weeks. Somehow I managed to get Valentine’s Day off, so I made him his favorite Filipino foods. By late that night he was headed to the emergency room…and the following day found him having an emergency appendectomy.

This year will be different. As I racked my brain wondering what sort of awesome (not overly expensive…hey, I’ve been unemployed for a while now) gift I could get him, one of my awesome Twitter buddies, @Lisas_alter_ego posted something amazing! It was this picture!

Giordanos Pizza Heart

Hubby and I are from Chicago. This means that we can be a bit on the pizza snob side. It also means that there haven’t been any pizza places that have measured up to what we had back home. His absolute favorite thing is Giordano’s Stuffed Pizza. For Valentine’s Day they’re doing the pies shaped like hearts! And they FedEx them on dry ice! How cool is that? Sooo, guess what I’m gonna do for him? Absolutely! I’m gonna order one to be delivered for him.

I have an awesome man who loves and supports me. He believes in me and is willing to do whatever it takes so that I can pursue my dreams. To me that makes him pretty much the coolest person on earth. The pizza may not be much, but it’s a slice of home…and it’s one of the things he loves. Once I’m more steady on my feet again, I’ll be able to give him something more to show him how valued he is in my life…but for now, I’ll have to settle for a slice of cheesy goodness.

So what about you guys? Any plans for Valentine’s Day yet? Do you have a Valentine? Are you one of those people that feels this is just another Hallmark travesty? Let me know… while you enjoy my musical dedication to the day for lovers…

 

Haunted

Woman-Crying

You look right through me,
the ghost,
turning away.
I have become
invisible to you.
I reach out,
Praying you’ll notice
how I ache
for a gentle word,
a soft caress
that says
“You’re beautiful to me.”

I beg you to hear me,
just once,
look my way!
Wishing you’d see the heart
I laid bare for you.
The walls
you built to make our house
left me
on the outside,
The stranger at the door
waiting for my invitation
or a simple
“Welcome home.”

We used to be great together,
equal partners; a team.
Now I’m just
the babysitter
who bore your children,
and warms your bed.
You don’t reach out
across our chasm
in dark of night.
You turn away,
my lonely heart aching
for
“I love you.”

How much longer
can I battle
for our life without your help?
The woman I am
slipping further away.
You haven’t even noticed
how your cold shoulder
erodes my confidence:
saps my strength.
I’ve given you
all I have.
The only thing left
is
“Goodbye.”

I am in a very happy, healthy relationship. I’m lucky. My husband loves me and doesn’t, not even for one second, take me for granted. He treats me with love and respect. We are a team…true partners. Sometimes, talking to some friends, I almost feel guilty talking about him because I know how very different their relationships are.

One friend in particular comes to mind. Her marriage is in trouble. She has been fighting her butt off to try to save it. She’s a great parent. She’s given up so much for him…to try to make a home for him, to help him build the career he wants, to support him. Unfortunately, it hasn’t been a two way street. Every time she thinks she’s making a breakthrough, he pulls the rug out from under her…breaking her heart all over again.

Truth is, if she didn’t love him, she’d have walked away a long time ago… Instead, she’s like Don Quixote…battling windmills. I watch as this vibrant, strong woman becomes reduced to tears of frustration…trying to find another way to stay in a love she’s beginning to feel is one sided. I watch her digging deep, trying to hold on to the powerful, intelligent, wonderful person that the rest of us see…but feeling like she’s shattering inside, her essence corroding away.

It sucks to be the bystander, unable to do anything to help but listen and support. Today I asked her…”How much are you expected to take?” Her answer was, “I don’t know.” Sadly, he’s of the school that believes if you ignore it, the problem isn’t there. It definitely doesn’t help.

So what happens when you get pushed back against a wall and you run out of options? When you run out of reasons to fight? More importantly, when you see your friend devastated and your heart is breaking for them…what do you do? I did the only thing I think I can… listened and offered support. I wish I could do more.