Lost, Broken, or Hope? Which Are You?

My heart hurts today. I just can’t sit here and say nothing. Am I the only one who feels it lately? All this hate, rage, toxicity oozing out of social media?

Can you not feel its destructiveness to your bones? I can.

There’s already so much pain and desolation and fear in the world. Must we really rabidly spew more hate into it? For the first time in a long time I hid someone’s posts from my Facebook posts from my feed because I couldn’t stand the hate messages wrapped up as “activism” anymore. Every message was filled with vitriol, spewed hate, and fanned the flames of extremist behavior while denigrating anyone who might value something other than what she believed.

I felt sad. Sorry for her. That she was so unhappy and filled with poison and looking for someone to blame. But I couldn’t be in her universe anymore. For me. I couldn’t condone her messages of verbal violence against others. That’s not a solution. That’s not helping make this world better. That’s just more of the horrible cycle of fear and hate and violence.

Listen…

I live in Florida. My heart broke for all the lost young lives. I ache for their families. It hit very close to home. The violence is not ok. I think we all agree on that. Gun control? Maybe it will work, maybe it won’t. I don’t pretend to know. Do I think mental health issues play a big part in the violence of today? Absolutely. Do I think teachers should have to carry guns? No.

Billy Graham, who has been a religious leader to many, also died this this week. He lived to a ripe old age. Good for him.

Death isn’t death. Everyone finds their strength to move on from different sources, faith in God being a big one. So when I see the same people shouting hate comments at political leaders due to gun control laws, then spewing filth, nastiness, and wishing violence on a religious leader, I get sick to my stomach. I begin to wonder just how broken you are to fan more fuels of hate after such a painful week, and I walk away.

I feel sorry for the person, but I forgive them and I leave. Because I can’t be around that. I refuse to believe that the world is so broken and disgusting that it now only filled with rage and hate and finger pointing.

I don’t like people who extol hate and vicious rage. Who fan flames of doubt and violence. I may love you as a person, but it doesn’t mean I like you. Or that I’m blind to a person’s effect.

I guess what I’m asking is this… Have you considered the message you’re sending out into the world? Is it truly representative of the person you are? Are you helping to make the world a better place? What things have been hurting your heart lately? What things have given you hope or joy?

Thankful and Thoughtful

Today I’m Thankful. For friends. For family. For freedom. For success.

And for heartbreaks. And losses.

Because they gave me a chance to experience the love and friendship that came before.

This last week I lost a close personal friend. It was unexpected. Came out of nowhere. I stood up in her wedding. She was only 30. She was one of those people who asked me for sex advice. Who laughed and flirted with me. Who I Dommed, just a little bit…all for fun. She’d come to my pleasure parties. In fact, I threw her a pleasure party before she got married because she had a dear, adventurous heart and wanted a sex swing. But at the core of it all, we were friends of the heart.

I was a mentor for her professionally. She was a supportive friend. We shared a passion for dogs. Talked about arranging a play date for our girls. Sadly, it never happened, and now it never will. Life happening, and us not spending as much time together as I’d have liked are my big regrets. But she lived big and loved bigger, so I’m thankful for the time I had with her.

I’ll never forget her. And I know she’s smiling down at me as I remember our shared laughter and the irreplaceable moments. We had a friendship that lasted a lifetime.

I’m also thrilled and thankful to announce that I’m sharing a part of myself in one of the coolest projects with one of the most amazing people I have the pleasure of knowing.

Yep! I’m finally announcing my super secret surprise.

August McLaughlin, the host of Girl Boner radio and author of suspense thriller, In Her Shadow, invited me  along with several other authors and experts to contribute to  a project of love.

Embraceable
This book, all about empowerment and strength, will be coming out soon. Isn’t the cover charming? To read more about the book and the various contributors, CLICK HERE! If you’d like to help spread the word and join in the blog tour for the book, click there, too. The way to sign up is there, too.

Finally, I’m also thankful for my newest nephew who, after a scary introduction into the world, is thriving. My sister was due to have her first child this May. He actually arrived much earlier… Like. February. He was in the NICU for a long time as he was a micro premie, born at 1.5 lbs. It was a scary time for our family, and was the beginning of my radio silence. These days, though, he’s a ray of sunshine and a ball of energy…and enjoying his first snowfall. I’m sure my brother is looking down from heaven, enjoying his nephew’s laughter and grins.

So, despite all the craziness and challenges…. I’m both thankful and blessed. God is good, and I have faith that he has a plan. I just don’t know what it is. 😉

What are you grateful for?

H is for Happiness

Happiness

IF.

I truly believe it’s one of the most dangerous words in the human language.

If I had more money… If I had a better job… If insert name here loved me… If I had taken that other path instead…

How many times have you heard people lament their lack of joy in their lives with that little word? If.

It’s tough to live in the now; to see the good things that are happening all around you when your energy is spent focusing on what you don’t have or envying the good fortune of others.

What we often neglect to realize is that every day we make a choice. To see the good in things and people. Or not. To believe in the best in people. To live in the moment. To recognize the things in life that are worth holding on to, believing in, and fighting for….and then doing it.

That’s part of the discovery of all the worthwhile things in life.

What brings you happiness? For me it’s the simple things. A song. An unexpected word of appreciation. A hug. Jokes. Beauty of nature painted across the sky, or in the sway of the leaves, a gentle breeze caressing my cheek. Playing in the rain. Time spent with friend or family (by the way, pets fall into this category).

That’s happiness….and it makes me the wealthiest woman in the world.

What things bring you happiness?

Celebrating Originality this Holiday Season

I’m such an Ella Fitzgerald fan that I couldn’t let this holiday go without sharing her magnificent, fun self.

Rudolph’s story has always had a soft spot in my heart because he was different, picked on, and laughed at….but his beautiful originality was what wound up saving Christmas. Just goes to show that being unique is a gift, not a curse. We need to better learn to embrace it.

Badasses & Birthday Celebrations

I still remember the day my mother-in-law looked across the front seat of her car at me and uttered words that made me blink. Granted, I was only dating her son then, but still, her opinion of me mattered.

“You’re a stubborn person”

I wanted to put my hand to my chest and say, “Moi?” Instead, I found myself blinking owlishly at her, wondering where our conversation was about to go. She must have sensed my unease because she looked over at me, let out a light laugh and patted my leg.

“That’s not necessarily a bad thing, you know…”

I bit my lip and wondered if I should respond. Curiosity won out. “What makes you say that?”

“I’m well aware your family doesn’t exactly approve of your relationship. Most people find it easier to break up and start over…to try to find someone they would approve of, but not you. You know who and what you want and you won’t let anyone dictate who you do or don’t date. Not even your family. Considering how close you guys are, that’s saying something.” She shrugged. “See? Stubborn.”

That conversation has always stood out in my mind because I’ve always felt it was a trait we shared. She’s one of the most loving, accepting people I know…and a lot to live up to. This wonderful woman was riding horses and teaching aerobics classes in the fellowship room of her church into her 60’s. She’s been completely supportive and accepting of me… in fact, while we lived in Chicago, Saturday nights and Tuesday nights became our hang out time. Saturday evening was dinner with the ‘rents, followed by Mom and me watching The Pretender and Profiler together. Tuesday nights were reserved for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Charmed. Hubby would either be watching college football or playing Warcraft or Diablo or sometimes he’d join us. I think he got a kick out of how close we’d become, but acceptance seemed to be a family theme…at least with me.

Hubby's mom...zip-lining (right before her 80th birthday)

Hubby’s mom…zip-lining (right before her 80th birthday)

 

There are times I miss those days… Miss not living close enough where we can just jump into a car and go. This weekend has been one of those times. She’s an awesome woman with a great spirit… A sense of joy in life and adventure that she shares with her son….whose birthday is only 1 day before hers. Yes, my husband was her birthday gift to herself….well, with the help of her husband. 😉

This weekend was their birthdays….but hers was a landmark. That daring woman zip-lining in that picture above? Well, she did that a couple months before her 80th…which she celebrated yesterday.

Hubby asked me to write a poem on his behalf…honoring her…and I did my best to do it justice. No, I’m not sharing it here…it was solely for her. But, I wanted to share HER with you guys… She’s the badass I strive to become as I get older! And she gave me an awesome man (who IS accepted and loved by my family, by the way… it just took my mom time). I guess that stubbornness she accused me of paid off! 🙂

So, happy birthday to them both…with a wish for many more. (Yeah, I know…birthdays and anniversaries galore for me in September.)

Hubby & me at Trump Tower in Chicago

Hubby & me at Trump Tower in Chicago

 

Dance

Dance

Close your eyes,
Feel the beat,
Sway your body,
Move your feet.

Let music wind
Into your soul,
Guide your passion,
Take control.

Arms reach out,
Life embrace,
Full of power,
Joy and grace.

Glide and bend,
Bare your heart;
Love and pain,
Each movement, art.

Today my mind wandered toward passion; how people view it, express it. For me, passion manifests itself into my writing, singing and dance. Dance, it seems has been universal for expression of sorrow, joy, anger, pain….LIFE!

So as I thought about how I sometime dance in my seat when I’m excited or jump up to dance to a song I love when I’m happy…or even dance to feel powerful, I thought I’d jot down a few words…isn’t it funny that they took on a rhythm, a lyrical quality suited to dance?

How do you express your passion? Where do you find your joy?

I also hope you’ll take the time to enjoy these awesome musicians who’ve combined their passions for both dance and music into some memorable and powerful songs.

Pink does power and anger and a never say die attitude so well. Like she said, “You’ve Gotta Get Up And Try!”

Kellie Pickler does an awesome job of communicating that life is all about moments…and they go on all around us. Don’t miss one because you’re too busy to tell someone how you feel.

Or this one….from Singin’ In The Rain. Actually, that scene could’ve very well been a movie clip of my life if I knew how to tap. Something about late nights with friends and just pure old fashioned fun.

So I ask again…. How do you express your passions? Your joy? Heartache? Love? Do you Dance (keep in mind, I didn’t ask if you do it well…;-)) ?

Imperfectly Perfect

Most writers are people watchers and I’m no exception. The only difference between me and some of my counterparts is that I’m a bit of a talker and social butterfly where some of my counterparts are a bit more reserved. What does this mean for me? Front row seat v. the sidelines. It also means that it’s not uncommon for me to be used as an advice giver, sounding board or just an empathetic ear.

After the loss of my friend at the end of last week, my introspective side kicked in. It seems like there have been two common threads in the dissatisfaction my friends have been expressing: Their inability to find the “perfect” significant other and/or how they weren’t “perfectly” happy in their sex life. You guys are astute. I know you picked up on the same thing I did. Perfect seems to be thrown around a lot.

As imperfect people that’s an awfully big word to be bandied about like that…. Nobody’s perfect. Not me. Not you. We’re all flawed….and those that are narcissistic enough to believe they’re perfect? They’re not exactly relationship material, are they?

So why do we get hung up on “Perfect”? Because, seriously…my friends weren’t the only ones that got caught up in the hype. Hello! It took me 16 years before “fully” committing to my relationship with my husband by getting married. He was my best friend. He’d do anything for me and me for him…except get married.

For a little while I was afraid that maybe my beloved romance novels had given me unrealistic expectations regarding relationships. But no. That wasn’t right. Anyone who’s read the “greats” knows the men and women aren’t perfect. They fight themselves, each other, their fears…plenty of conflict…but they find a way to make it to their happily ending.

But if not my romances, what?

unrealisticexpectations

Well, okay. Maybe not Disney in particular….just fairy tales. Think about it. Girl somehow becomes a damsel in distress, in need of a rescue. The hero who rides in always looks perfect, knows what to say and wears the perfect clothes. He IS perfect. The conflict is always caused by some outside evil source that he vanquishes with a flourish….and the moment ends with the perfect happily ever after kiss. Right?

There is no accidental going in too fast for that kiss only to have your teeth smack against each other… Or someone bobs when they should have weaved and the heads get knocked together…. Or you step in and right onto the hero/heroine’s foot, Yeah…Never happens.

As for the sex…. The assumption would be that guys are the only ones who have this complaint, right? Wrong. I saw a funny clip a few days back and wondered how I was going to share it with you guys. Turns out I didn’t have long to wait. It’s a great fit for today’s post.

In porn, sex happens all over the place…often incidentally and with strangers. In fact, a friend shared something she saw the other day and I couldn’t help but crack up!

Porn

What you never see in porn are some of the stories some of my friends and I have laughed about. You know….getting so hot and sweaty with your partner that you’ve basically stuck to each other…and when you go to separate there’s a big suction “pop” sound that has you rolling with laughter. Or deciding to get all hot and racy with a partner after a day on the beach with a lover only to find out tanning oil and satin sheets don’t always go so well together as you slide onto the bed…and keep sliding…right into the bedside table.

Or maybe it’s the exhausted sex after a long day…where it’s just a relief and a release of tension. Not spectacular, but not bad. The imperfection could be caused by *gasp* a lack of orgasm. Maybe sex was initiated but fatigue and stress cause a lack of aroused response from the man in the relationship. How’s that possible? Isn’t that all men think of???? (For those of you who may not know me well…insert sarcasm here.)

So much perfection we’re expected to live up to…. Unrealistic perfection. Me? It took me a while to figure out that the hot, spicy, romantic gestures and feelings are cyclical. That much of that IS based on what we get in fairy tales and the like… What hit me over the head is when I started to notice it was a cycle. The things that never changed? The fact that the guy sitting patiently next to me was my very best friend. He knew me inside and out….and I knew him. More importantly, we loved and accepted each other just the way we were…flaws and all. The reality is, when I looked harder, I found that those flaws were almost custom made to match mine. Which made us imperfectly perfect for each other. Does he buy me roses every day and massage my feet? No. But he finds recipes he thinks I’d enjoy and makes me dinner. He’ll be at the grocery store and see Pepperidge Farm is having a BOGO on Milano cookies and will pick some up because he knows I love them. We’ll sit down to watch tv and I’ll scratch his back because I know he enjoys that. I’ll hold off watching something on the DVR till he gets home because it’s more fun to watch it together.

As for the sex…guys aren’t the only ones these days that have unrealistic expectations. Sometimes ours come from books, sometimes from porn. Either way there are things we do to one another that undermine the ability to have great sex.

Examples? Many women simply don’t talk to their men about it. They take it, they fake it…then they either don’t talk about it at all…or they complain to their friends about it. Here’s a sad truth about that… Ladies, if the women you’re complaining to have significant others, chances are that the conversation didn’t just stay between you and your friend. If their partner is friends with yours…guess who has heard about your complaints? Although we don’t acknowledge it often, guys have feelings, too. They are capable of being hurt. And before we get up on our high horse and say something about their egos…imagine how you would feel if someone important to you said you sucked in bed. Yeah. Major ouch. Guys, before you think you’re out of the woods on this one….You’re just as bad as we are, so the same thing applies to you!!!

The truth is, not every guy is uber experienced. In fact, it wasn’t until a little later in my relationship that I found out my husband, then boyfriend, was a bit intimidated by me and my experience. Sure, I was a virgin when we got together…but that was about the only think I hadn’t done…and multiple times. I assumed that because he’d had sex before (with one other girl) that HE was more experienced. After that conversation, I’ve tried never to assume again. We talk.

If communication lines are open it’s amazing how rarely misunderstandings happen. It’s also a great way to teach your partner what you like…. And you know what else? Sex is messy…and physical…so it stands to reason that there are going to be funny, goofy moments! Enjoy them! Laughter is sexy, too…not to mention healing.

Bottom line…before rushing to “perfection”….take a second. Look closely at whatever it was you were about to complain about. Is it your perception of what should be that has you bothered or is it something truly wrong? Sometimes, if you look closely enough you’ll find there’s something pretty amazing in the imperfections.

What do you think? Do you think I’m crazy for thinking this way? It’s okay to share… I’m comfortable in my crazy. Have you found beauty in imperfection? Tell me about it!

Me? I’ve embraced my imperfection… It’s made life so much more enjoyable!