Thursday, December 31, 2009

Another year has gone by

I can't even remember what I did last year on New Year's Eve. Maybe I should keep better records of my life.

But I DO remember a lot of things that happened through the course of this year. A lot of firsts, a lot of finals, a lot of hurts, a lot of good friends, a lot of laughter.

I became an officially single woman again in March. My divorce was finalized and I was on my own, working my butt off and loving every minute of it.

I moved out of my room-for-rent in Saugus and into an apartment in Newhall with my sister just before summer. We both still live there, but our numbers have increased, and so has the level of fun. I rarely go out to the bar anymore because, frankly, being at home with my friends is more entertaining (and cheaper!)

At the beginning of the year, I was taking a bus to work every day and hitching rides with co-workers or friends to get home every night. In August, I got my drivers' license (thanks to my good friend Corey, who spent several months teaching me how to drive and trusting me behind the wheel of his Jeep!) and I bought my truck, my Phoenix, my freedom.

In October, I got laid off from my job at The Signal ... not a fun experience, but one that has opened up a new world of challenges and opportunities. I also embarked on a road trip across the southwestern U.S., including a stop in Phoenix, AZ to see my good friend Bradley and a stop in Hatch, NM to see my paternal grandparents, finally ending up in Texas to celebrate my 24th birthday with my parents and baby sister. I spent a little over a week with them, catching up on everything in our lives and enjoying each other's company. I love my family!

On the way home from Texas, I drove through northern New Mexico and up through Denver, just for the hell of it. I'm glad I did, too, because I fell in love with the Mile High City and vowed someday to move there. When I finally returned home after two weeks on the road (thankfully there was a LOT of music involved in that trip!) I made an effort to find a way to move to Denver immediately, but a fear of freezing to death while living out of my truck, coupled with an unwillingness to leave my sister behind (and maybe few other factors), kept me grounded in sunny southern California. And I'm glad I did. I'm happy here, and relatively warm. :)

After Thanksgiving, I started seriously looking for a job and found a part-time temp assignment at City Hall doing administration for the Department of Building and Safety. I started in mid-December, and so far, I'm pleased with it. The assignment is only for six months, so I know there's plenty more change in store for me in 2010, but that's more than OK with me.

This has been an overwhelmingly positive year, despite a few minor challenges and setbacks. I am incredibly lucky to have my sister as my best friend AND roommate. I have accomplished many of the things that were on my "To Do in '09" list and I've made a few new goals for the next year. I have made new friends (and given several people "roommate" and "honorary roommate" status) and reconnected with some old friends. I've had conversations that don't matter at all, and conversations that changed my life. I've been to places I've never been before, and I've returned to the places that I've been missing. I've been touched and moved by new sights, new music, new feelings and new people. I've learned a lot about myself this year (although I think I say that every year ...) and I'm on my way to whoever I'm becoming. I've made my share of mistakes this year, and I've come to terms with them.

For everyone who played a role in my life, whether it was as a friend, a family member, a co-worker, a roommate, an acquaintance or a stranger who smiled at me on the street and brightened my day ... you are appreciated. For everyone who gave me a hug when I needed one, for everyone who saw me cry, for everyone who laughed with me over something inane and hysterical, for everyone who was there for me when I went through my "firsts," for everyone who changed my life in one way or another ... you are my lifelines. For everyone who became my surrogate family, for everyone who accepted me as I was and allowed me to become who I was becoming, for everyone who understood what I was trying to say when I couldn't find the words, for everyone who loved me ... you are loved.

And remember this as you start your new year: the greatest thing you'll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return.

Now let's make this year AWESOME!


Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Independent women

Why is it so many women believe that to be independent, they must also be bitches?

I want us to be the new generation of independent.

Where are the women who can work 40, 50, 60 hours a week to pay the bills, to make ends meet, to get ahead ... but still be a good friend with a listening, sympathetic ear and helpful, mature advice?

Where are the women who can maintain a positive attitude, even when things don't work out as planned? Where are the women who can merge from Plan A to Plan B to Plan C as circumstances change? Where are the women who can keep moving forward when tough times hit, instead of wallowing in self-pity and the woe-is-me's?

Where are the women who support themselves, not only financially, but emotionally? Where are the women who exude the irresistible charm of someone who doesn't need anyone, but who everyone wants to be around? Where are the women who know who they are as individuals and stand their ground, no matter what? Where are the women who believe in themselves and work hard to accomplish what they know they can accomplish with their lives?

Where are the women who do good to their friends and neighbors and communities because it's the right thing to do, not because it's a conscience-salve that allows them to go about the rest of their lives in whatever selfish way they please? Where are the women who keep their class and elegance when everyone around them is immature and tasteless? Where are the women who aren't afraid to show a little personality?

Where are the women who know how to treat a man, the women who know how to let a man treat them like a lady? Where are the women who understand femininity is an essential part of being an independent woman? Where are the women who don't feel like they have to act like a man to be independent in this world? Where are the women who understand that their femininity is an asset to their independence, not a liability?

Where are the women who can think for themselves, instead of letting themselves be spoonfed by a media-laden culture? Where are the women who value their brains as much as their beauty? Where are the women who refuse to believe in the lies that romantic comedies and fashion magazines portray? Where are the women who know that beauty comes from within? Where are the women who can express their own personality with their fashion choices, rather than displaying the off-the-rack or off-the-runway mindless fashion that tells the world nothing about who they actually are as a person?

Where are the women who have passions for something worth while, something that will leave a legacy? Where are the women who care about the world around them and work to create a better one? Where are the women who aren't afraid to go against the grain and become what they want to be rather than what their environment expects them to be?

Where are the women who choose to be truthful and refuse to be manipulative? Where are the women who embrace the challenges of relationships? Where are the women who accept others for who they are and encourage them to be better people? Where are the women who know that strength is quiet and calm, a courage that doesn't give up but continues to press on through the diffculties, day in and day out?

Where are the women who love unconditionally? Where are the women who know how to balance their toughness with their empathy? Where are the women who know how to balance every aspect of their lives and keep their harmony and center?

Where are the women who treat others with respect and earn the respect of everyone around them? Where are the women who take their work seriously and themselves lightly? Where are the women with a sense of humor, an ability to laugh at the little ironies in life instead of getting irritated with them? Where are the women who love life to the fullest and live each day the best way they can? Where are the women who lead their lives as role models, as friends, as mothers, as sisters, as wives, as lovers, as executives or hourly wage earners, as artists or scientists, as dreamers, as hopeless romantics, as students, as believers, as women?

Where are the women who make me proud to be a woman?

Wednesday, August 19, 2009


Sometimes, I feel the fear of uncertainty stinging clear
And I can't help but ask myself how much I let the fear
Take the wheel and steer
It's driven me before
And it seems to have a vague, haunting mass appeal
But lately I'm beginning to find that I
Should be the one behind the wheel

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
I'll be there

So if I decide to waiver my chance to be one of the hive
Will I choose water over wine and hold my own and drive?
It's driven me before
And it seems to be the way that everyone else gets around
But lately I'm beginning to find that
When I drive myself my light is found

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
I'll be there

Would you choose water over wine
Hold the wheel and drive

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
With open arms and open eyes yeah

Whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there
I'll be there


There was once a plan... a plan that would change my life, a plan that would change the lives of many people around me. Some despised the plan, some supported the plan, a select few supported me whether they approved of the plan or not. Some tried to stop me from going through with the plan. Some doubted I could go through with the plan... some doubted I could go through with anything. She doesn't finish things, they said. She can't commit. She's wishy washy and unstable. She'll never make it, they said.

There was once a plan. Find a job. Check. Find a new place to live and move. Check. Get a driver's license...... and I'm proud to say that I can finally, after all these years, check that one off the list.

I passed my driving test today, and am now the proud owner of a CA driver's license.

I was finally at the right place in my life where I could commit to learning to drive, and had the means to do it... and I did. I followed through. I did what I needed to do. I'm that much closer to my freedom.

There's still a plan. There are still many steps to go. And as I check each one off, I add new ones to the bottom. I make new goals and I figure out what I have to do to reach them. And then I reach them.

It's not that I can't follow through. It's not that I can't commit. It's not that I can't finish what I start. It's just that I know when something isn't worth following through with... isn't worth wasting my time on... isn't worth the heartache and the drama and the despair... isn't worth the pain. When it's worth it, I finish it.

I'm more likely to finish what I start nowadays, because I'm more careful with what I start to begin with. It's a live-and-learn thing for me. The things in my past that I gave up on (or a few that I merely postponed) don't haunt me. I stopped "following through" when it stopped being beneficial ... to anyone, not just to myself.

When I dropped out of college, it was because a $30,000/year education became too many cons and not enough pros. When I go back to school to finish my degree, it will be because the pros outweigh the cons, and not until then.

When I signed the divorce papers, it was because I believed that it was not only in my best interest, but in the best interests of everyone involved ... whether they could see that at the time or not. Sure, a lot of people thought my decision was motivated entirely by selfishness. And part of it was.

But now ... the past is in the past, and the future is bright. There's a plan ... and even if the plan morphs and grows and becomes something other than originally intended, it's still a plan, and I'm still following through. There's still a dream, and I'm still pursuing it.

So don't accuse me of never following through simply because I chose not to follow through with the things you wanted me to follow through with.

My choices are my own, and I live with the consequences of them.

And guess what? I haven't gone crawling back, I haven't hit rock bottom, and I haven't made the same mistakes twice. I understand that this surprises some who knew me way back when. But I'm stronger because of the choices I've made and the way I've dealt with the situations that have sprung up in my life. I'm wiser because of my mistakes. I know more about love and honesty and acceptance and supportiveness than ever before.

I still have my moments of weakness. I still have small bouts of depression sometimes, but they are short-lived and easy to cure. I still have doubts and misgivings about the direction my life is headed, but I know that even though I can't control the circumstances around me, I can control my own actions and reactions. And I still have plenty of faults and I still make plenty of mistakes, but I have learned how to learn from them and how to avoid repeating them. I don't feel like I have to be perfect all the time anymore. I'm not afraid of being found to be flawed. I'm not afraid to be myself.

Fear isn't driving me anymore. I can drive myself. And whatever tomorrow brings, I'll be there with open arms and open eyes.

Saturday, July 11, 2009


Random fragments of thought that have a special meaning in my brain right now.

I will always love you.

Desperado, you'd better come to your senses, come down from those fences and open the gate... it may be raining, but there's a rainbow above you... you'd better let somebody love you before it's too late.

Lay me down with a ghost, 'cause anything's better than alone.

Some believe in destiny, some believe in fate, I believe that happiness is something we create.

I stand for the power to change, I live for the perfect day, I love till it hurts like crazy, I hope for a hero to save me.

There's only us, there's only this... forget regret, or life is yours to miss... no other road, no other way, no day but today. I can't control my destiny, I trust my soul, my only hope is just to be... there's only now, there's only here... give in to love or live in fear.

Take me for what I am... who I was meant to be... and if you give a damn... take me, baby... or leave me.

I am more than you know... streetlights and open roads... I am more than a face, stuck living in one place.

Off into the world we go, planning futures, shaping years... love bursts in and suddenly all our wisdom disappears... love makes fools of everyone, all the rules we made are broken, yes love, love changes everything... live or perish in its flame... love will never, never let you be the same.

All along, all I ever wanted was to be the light when you life was daunting, but I can't see mine when I feel as though you're pushing me away. Well, who's to blame? Are we making the right choices? 'Cause we can't be sure if we're hearing our own voices as we close the door even though we are so desperate to stay.

Tough, you think you've got the stuff, you're telling me and anyone you're hard enough... you don't have to put up a fight, you don't have to always be right.. let me take some of the punches for you tonight. Listen to me now, I need to let you know you don't have to go in alone... and it's you when I look in the mirror, and it's you when I don't pick up the phone... sometimes you can't make it on your own.

Now I'm glad I didn't know the way it all would end, the way it all would go... Our lives are better left to chance... I could have missed the pain but I'd have had to miss the dance.

Wednesday, June 17, 2009

Sand and sea

I wore skinny jeans -- fashionably fitted, tight from hip to ankle, and utterly impractical as beachwear. But I wouldn't let a silly thing like practicality keep me from doing what I wanted to do, so I set to work, determined to roll the cuffs of these damned jeans up as far as they would go without cutting off the blood supply to my feet.

I succeeded marginally with the cuffing venture, then removed my shoes, stuffed them unceremoniously in my purse, and trekked, barefoot and bare-calved, toward the ocean. The sand was blistering hot, but the breeze was almost chilling. The combination gave me goosebumps.

As I neared the water, I broke into the best sprint I could muster ... which was mostly just a slight lengthening of stride and an extra bounce. The wet sand was cooler and easier to walk on. I slowed my steps, sinking into the impressionable surface as I walked, looking back at my footprints. I wanted to think of something profound, an epigram of sorts, to commemorate this walk, but everything I thought of was profoundly lame and cheesy, so I gave up.

I made my way to a spot the crowds hadn't claimed, near where the waves lapped up against the legs of the pier. There I stopped and stood and gazed and let the foamy water swirl around my ankles, and then my calves. The tide was coming in. My cuffed jeans were soon wet all the way up to the knees. The careful hem-rolling hadn't done any good at all. But I didn't really care.

A wave slipped back from the shore and left the sand soaked and smooth. I picked up a feather from the dry ground behind me and stooped down to absent-mindedly draw shapes in the sand. But as soon as my primitive artwork was complete, or nearly so, another wave snuck up on me and erased it.

This gave me an idea. There was a reason I was here. I just hadn't known the 'why' until now.

In the wet sand, I began writing words -- phrases -- thoughts.

"I'm letting go of the past," I wrote. And the ocean erased it.

"I forgive you for the pain you caused me," I wrote. And another wave smoothed it over.

"Fear, doubt, hurt, bitterness, hate, anger, jealousy," I wrote. And the water washed them all away at once.

I crouched alone with soaked jeans and an improvised quill pen, spilling years of deceit and petty dramas onto the sand, watching as each negative thought was erased and a blank slate left in its place. A fresh start. Yes, that's what I came here for.

Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Forget regret, or life is yours to miss

Three years isn't a long time in the grand scheme of things. But it's been long enough for me to do a lot of thinking and realizing and growing and becoming.

I realized who loved me for me and I realized who loved me for what they thought I was or what they wanted me to be. I realized that there were people in my life who wanted to change me, and there were people in my life who wanted to help me.

I'm still learning how to communicate in a mature, adult way. And I'm still learning a lot about honesty. And trust. And vulnerability. And truth.

I've made plenty of mistakes in the past three years... some that went by relatively unnoticed by the general population, and some that changed the course of people's lives (including mine) forever. I've made life choices that strengthened bonds and friendships, choices that reflected love and caring. And I've made life choices that broke hearts and destroyed relationships, some irreparably. I've made a couple emotionally-charged choices, and I've made a lot of painstakingly contemplated choices. I've done the right thing a few times and I've done the wrong thing a few times, and sometimes I couldn't tell the difference between the two, but I did what I felt had to be done.

And everything that is done is done. Every choice I've made has brought me to where and who I am today. And I don't regret it. Regret is for people who don't believe in learning from their mistakes. I don't deny that I've made mistakes... and big ones, on occasion. But to regret those choices would be to regret the very things that make me the person I am.

Over the past year, I've made several conscious decisions to move on with my life and to not let the past determine the future. I am stronger now than I've ever been, and I know myself better than I ever have. I'm in a good place in my life right now, mentally and emotionally. I'm stable and happy. And should circumstances change, for better or worse, I know I can still be stable and happy.

Despite the mistakes I've made (or probably because of them) I am a better person today than I was three years ago. I know more about love (real love) and I understand people better. And I'm still moving on. And I'm still choosing, every day, to move forward, to continue becoming the person I want to be... not who someone else wants me to be.

And to those who have loved me the same, through it all... thank you. You are the sunshine of my life, and I love you.

Sunday, May 24, 2009

The voice-to-mindset connection

I've been thinking a lot lately about the connection between what we say, think and do.

Remember the old children's story about the little engine that could? "I think I can, I think I can, I think I can..." This is a concept that I am finding more and more to be true and applicable to adult life.

Our minds are fascinating organs. I find that my mind responds very strongly to auditory cues, the things I hear. When I am surrounded by negative sounds (too much loud noise, people yelling and screaming, a lot of angry swearing, harsh squealing, whining and complaining) I tend to quickly fall into a bad mood, no matter what my overall state of well-being is like. Conversely, when I am surrounded by positive sounds (the voices of people I love, music I appreciate, pleasant conversation, people laughing) they tend to bring my mood up, even if I am otherwise feeling down.

Another interesting concept I've been learning is a voice-to-mindset connection. I find that when I complain, vent or whine about negative things, it only seems to make me feel worse. It seems to me that by hearing myself vocalize the negativity in my mind, I only validate those negative feelings and teach my brain that those feelings are OK. My brain responds to my voice.

I'm also finding that by vocalizing positive things (even if I'm not necessarily feeling them) helps my brain respond in a positive manner to the situation.

My brain processes my voice saying, "I can do this. This is OK. This is going to be all right. I can make the most out of this. This may be a problem, but I am strong and resourceful and I can make it work. I am going to rise above the tide. I am capable of doing what needs to be done." And the more positivity my brain hears, the more my actual mindset becomes positive. And when my actual mindset is positive, my actions in each circumstance and my reaction to each situation become more positive as well.

Have you ever wondered how it is so easy for some people to live a lie? I think it's because they have convinced themselves (through constant voice-to-mindset conditioning) that a lie is the truth. It becomes their reality. The brain really is a fascinating organ.

The kind of voice-to-mindset conditioning that I am trying to practice in my life is of a more positive nature. It's the kind of conditioning that teaches my mind to look for the positive in every situation. It's a kind of self-vocalized pep talk.

The more positively you approach a situation, the more resourceful your mind is when trying to come up with a solution. If you go into something thinking (or even worse, saying) "I can't" then your mind has already given up, and you most likely won't be able to come up with a solution. When you free up your mind by giving it the positive green-light, you can do so much more. You remove the "I can't" boundaries you've set up previously in your mind, and you give yourself the freedom to do what needs to be done to turn a potentially negative situation into something positive. Attitude is everything.

Some people call me an idealist. They call me a hopeless optimist. A dreamer with my head in the clouds and little grasp of reality. I beg to differ.

I've seen plenty of negative stuff in my brief time on this planet. I know it exists. I've lived through some of it, and I've stood by some people close to me as they've lived through some of it. I know there is evil, I know there is bad, I know there is negative. I also know that giving in to evil and bad and negative is not an option for me. To me, pessimism is letting the negative win, letting the negative control you.

Training myself to vocalize positivity is merely taking advantage of my brain's natural functions and using them to better my life and the lives of those around me.

Besides, nobody really wants to listen to me complain and whine anyway. :)

Friday, May 1, 2009

I'm a country girl

Growing up in Texas, it was pretty much inevitable. In California, I seem to be viewed as a crazy person because of it. But I don't care. I freely admit it -- I like country music.

I'm not necessarily talking about old-school, twangy country and western cowboy music. I appreciate a lot of that style, but I'm more referring to the modern, CMT popular country music. And there are a lot of things I love about it.

It's simple. Each song is about a simple concept... love, anger, friendship, heartbreak, death, life, whatever it may be... it's simple. These songs don't use much poetic language or big words. They rely on conversational phrasing and the ability to use very specific examples to make the emotions almost tangible. They also have significant relevance for people like me, who appreciate the beauty in the common things, the little things in life.

It's real. These songs are about real life... the real things that real people have to deal with on a regular basis... they speak to the common issues that we face, and many of them offer optimism in the face of difficulty. They offer a view of love, life and family that very few, if any, other genres of music even touch.

It's fun. I've made playlists of 'fun country' songs that could play for hours and keep me dancing and singing along the whole time. So much of country music is just fun to listen to. It's about having a good time and living life with a smile on your face.

It's the playlist to life. At least for me, I can pretty much name a country song (or a whole playlist of them) to match any mood I'm in, at any time. The genre is so much more diverse than the stereotypical "tear in my beer" or "my wife left me for the guy with the bigger pickup truck" idea that so many people have of country music.

Give it a shot. It may not be what you're used to, but it may speak to your heart in a way that no other music can.

Here is a much-abbreviated (though it may not look like it) list of some of the country songs that have been on the playlist of my life (now and in the past.) Each of these songs fits with a story from my life... a time, a place, an emotion... What songs are on your life playlist?


We shall be free by Garth Brooks
Something more by Sugarland
Something worth leaving behind by Lee Ann Womack
It's a great day to be alive by Travis Tritt
I love this bar by Toby Keith
I wish I were the rain by SheDaisy
You've got a way by Shania Twain
Born to fly by Sara Evans
Perfect by Sara Evans
I'll be by Reba McIntire
I'm movin' on by Rascal Flatts
My wish by Rascal Flatts
I love you by Martina McBride
This one's for the girls by Martina McBride
I'm already there by Lonestar
What about now by Lonestar
I hope you dance by Lee Ann Womack
You made me find myself by LeAnne Rimes
One way ticket by LeAnne Rimes
The woman with you by Kenny Chesney
Summertime by Kenny Chesney
Somebody like you by Keith Urban
Raining on Sunday by Keith Urban
Home to you by John Michael Montgomery
Like we never loved at all by Faith Hill & Tim McGraw
Let me let go by Faith Hill
I should be sleeping by Emerson Drive
Wide open spaces by Dixie Chicks
I would have loved you anyway by Trisha Yearwood
She's everything by Brad Paisley

Share your playlists with me! I'd love to know the music that touches you at your core.

Sunday, April 12, 2009

Hollywood's "random attraction" plots annoy me

Pet Peeve #3,498: Movies in which the protagonist and his/her romantic interest "fall in love" for no apparent reason, with no attempt at character development.

Okay, here's the thing. I've seen so many shallow romantic comedies/dramas that seem to have main characters only because a movie without main characters is pretty stupid. There is no character development at all. And the male and female leads "fall in love" at the end of the movie simply as a plot element, with no basis in reason or even emotion. It just happens because that's what you expect to happen when you have a male and a female lead in a movie.

I want to watch a movie that shows a glimmer of understanding about how actual relationships work... how actual, flesh-and-blood people fall in love. Movies seem to base "love" on nothing more than a basic attraction and circumstance.

Love isn't a plot element, just something to be tossed around for the sake of a heart-warming story.

I've seen very few movies that have the characters fall in love because they are compatible, because they have a lot in common, or even because the complement each other. In fact, it's usually the opposite. So many Hollywood movies thrive on pitching "opposites attract" themes. People who "fall in love" against their better judgment, against their initial gut reaction to another person, against all odds. It makes for a great "love conquers all" story, but when I see a movie with this theme, it leaves a huge, gaping question in my mind.

What happens after the initial "attraction" fades?

It's no secret that opposites attract. But mere attraction isn't enough. A love that is going to last past the final credits has to be based on more... on reality... on compatibility and commonality... on commitment and a consistent choice to practice love.

Perhaps this is much too much of a rational approach to love for some people. It probably wouldn't make a very popular movie.

My fear, though, is that with the Hollywood idea of random attraction so prevalent, how will anyone learn to move beyond this shallow, vague notion of love?

Sure, there are aspects of love that are irrational, passionate, desperate and emotional... the butterflies in the stomach, the trembling fingers, the rapid breaths, the overwhelming sensations... all these things are important components of the romantic portion of love... but if these feelings aren't grounded in something solid, that love is a helium-filled balloon that will disappear into the clouds. It will end in heartbreak and devastation. You have to have a foundation, or the shifting sand of life will crumble the love you tried to build.

Perhaps it's impossible to make sense out of something so deeply rooted in the heart. But I choose to attempt rationality (or at the very least, level-headedness) in the arena of love. The mind and the heart must be trained to cooperate, to coincide, to co-habitate. To separate the two is to accept a false dichotomy.

Sunday, April 5, 2009


I'll write you poetry
Set to a melody
Set to the beating of your heart
And maybe then you'll see
I can be the one who brings the dimples to your cheeks
The one who illuminates your dark.

I've always been somebody's weakness
Tonight I want to be somebody's strength.

I want to know what makes you bleed
And what's behind each breath you breathe
I want to know the color of your soul
I want to know what makes you laugh
And what's behind each dream you have
I want to know what makes you lose control
I want to count the freckles on your skin
And visit every place you've ever been
I want to add your world to my own
And know you like you've never been known.

And if you want to know me, too, tonight
That's all right
But my green eyes will be your kryptonite
And I will show you all of me
And all my insecurities
But you will have to let me be your weakness
And you will have to reveal all your flaws
And you will have to open up your heart and let me in
Because only in your weakness will you recognize my strength
And I'll go to any length to prove
Your secret's safe with me, my love
Your secret's safe with me
And together, in the dark tonight, we will be

Need vs. love

We've all seen it, and many of us have probably been a part of one at some point in our lives. Yes, I'm referring to the clingy couple.

The clingy couple is comprised of either one insecure party and one self-assured party or two insecure parties. I'm not sure which couple is worse.

I've been clingy and insecure before. There was a time when I would get upset if my significant other didn't let me know where he was every minute of every day. There was a time when I felt the need to be loved, not for love's sake, but for my own selfish validation. There was a time when I would have accepted any attention from anything male, and I would have gone to great lengths to be admired and appreciated.

That is all in the past (or at least I hope to God it is.)

The main thing I've discovered about clingy-ness and insecurity is that it's about as attractive as a pile of compost. It's repulsive. It's needy. It's like having a puppy follow you around all the time just hoping to get a pat on the head once in a while. It's annoying.

I choose dignity and self-respect. I refuse to succumb to the urge to constantly and pathetically call, text or instant message whoever is currently on my mind. I choose to believe in the old adage, "Absence makes the heart grow fonder," and the slightly newer one, "How can he miss me if I won't go away?" I choose to find validation in myself and pride in my accomplishments, rather than in the opinions of others. I choose to be careful with my heart and not give it away to every masculine bipedal creature I encounter. I choose to think with my brain and not my vagina. I choose to look beyond the masks of others and see who they really are. I refuse to put on a facade, to pretend to be something I am not. I refuse to try to be what I think someone else wants me to be. I choose to surround myself with people who want to know me for who I really am. I choose honesty. I choose patience. I refuse to be desperate. I choose to be me.

And whatever will happen, will happen. I'm tired of pretending to fall in love just because someone thought he fell in love with me. I want to fall in love because I'm in love.

But before I fall in love, I need to be sure of myself... I need to be a complete, 100% individual -- all by myself. I don't ever want to fall for that 'puzzle piece' nonsense. I'm not looking for someone else to make me whole.

If I'm not a complete person on my own, no one else will ever be able to complete me. Too many miserable people believe that a 'soul mate' will fill a hole in their hearts and in their lives to make them happy, but they miss the opportunities around them every day to be happy with themselves.

If you're not happy alone, you won't be happy with anyone. Happiness is a state of mind, a choice the heart makes, not a sudden change in relationship status. Happy has to be me first and we later.

As far as I can tell, I think one of the keys to a good relationship is to want to be together... not to need each other.

I don't want to need anyone, and I don't want anyone to need me. Need puts a lot of pressure on a person. Need says, "Don't mess up, my well-being and state of mind depend on you." Need is clingy. Need is desperate. Need is not love.

Love is much more accepting of people's flaws because love isn't using another person as a feel-good potion. Love says, "I want to be with you because of who you are, not just because of how you make me feel." Love is independent. Love is strong. Love is unconditional. And that's why love lasts.

And because of that, true love is rare.

And because of its rarity, true love is worth waiting for and worth living for.

Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Watch me grow

Disclaimer: If you are easily upset by a retelling of my marriage/divorce story, please do not read. And if you have nothing constructive or logical to say, please do not comment. Otherwise, carry on.

I've been wanting to write something along these lines for a while now, but I'm finding it difficult to do in a mature, non-juvenile way that won't get me a ton of hate (or love-in-the-form-of-confrontation) mail from people who disagree with me.

The past year of my life has been one of turning points and learning experiences. It was about a year and a half ago that I became seriously unhappy in my marriage. I read book after book after book, Christian and non-Christian, trying to figure out what was wrong with my marriage and what I could do to fix it. I stayed up late every night, reading, crying, wondering what the problem was, wishing I could be happy again. I can't remember any other time in my life when I have shed so many tears. Eventually, I gave up and fell into a deep depression instead. Nothing made me happy anymore. The things that used to make me happy just made me feel more depressed as I remembered what it was like to be happy.

The depression deepened at about the same rate that my marriage fell apart. I did my best to talk things out, but the words for emotion that raw are hard to come by.

Eventually, a little more than a year ago now, I made a drastic and completely uncharacteristic decision. I chose to tell my husband I was leaving him.

The events that followed this tearful revelation were numerous, emotional and blend themselves into a haze in my mind. They are also unnecessary for this narrative. I don't want to assign blame, condemn others or air dirty laundry. Suffice it to say, that night was only the beginning of a long, stressful span of many months. I began to be much more honest with myself and with my husband. I said things I had never before even imagined I would have to say. I wept uncontrollably over everything, simply because the emotional stress was overwhelming.

I opened myself up as much as I knew how at the time. And almost every time I did, the things I said in truth and honesty were either condemned as lies, or they were thrown back in my face as a weapon. Either way, it didn't really make me feel like telling the truth. The deceit that I had grown accustomed to in my life seemed much easier.

But I had crossed the line. I couldn't remain fake. I had finally discovered a glimpse of who I really was, and I preferred that person over the person I had attempted to be all those years prior.

All the months of trying, all the emotional wear-and-tear, all the drama, all the tears, all the immaturity, all the long, lonely nights finally, gradually, came to an end when I moved out on my own. I was finally able to assert my freedom, my independence, my individuality. And I did.

In the past seven or eight months, I have grown and matured as a person on multiple levels, in ways I would have never dreamed possible. I have had to face the world as an adult, and every day, at the end of the day, I know that I'm a little better off than I was yesterday.

I learned a lot from the experience. I learned that regret is not an option. I don't believe in regret. Everything that has happened in my life has made me the person I am today, and I am grateful for that.

I am deeply sorry for the pain that my dishonesty and immaturity caused to others in my life, but I hope that they have learned and grown as much as I have, despite the pain.

My divorce was officially finalized earlier this month, and I can now officially close that chapter of my life as I move forward.

Growth doesn't just happen with age. Growth happens when we experience things that drive us far away from our comfort zones, when we learn how to deal maturely with circumstances that have never come up before.

Maturity, I think, is a conscious decision. Immaturity is natural. Maturity takes effort and initiative. I catch myself sometimes and say "Is this the mature response?" More often than not, my gut reaction to a situation is immature... but if I can catch myself in time, I can think of the more mature, more logical, more appropriate response and do that instead.

Really, it's about using your brain. It's not just there to fill space. Life isn't rocket science. So much of it is just common sense. But even if it's common... it still has to make sense, people.

My world has been drastically altered by the events of the past few years. In many ways, I'm the same person I've always been, just a lot more honest. But in a lot of ways, I hardly even recognize myself when I think back to who I used to be, or at least how I used to live. The person I was would have never even dreamed that the person I am now could have existed.

And you know what? I like the real me a lot better than the fake me.

And I can't wait to see who I'm going to become this year.

How do you measure your growth as a person? Are you growing? Are you striving to become the best possible version of you? Or are you stagnant and comfortable?

Thursday, March 19, 2009

The games we play with our words

Have you ever stopped to think about the mind games people play, and why they play them?

I did. And these are some of my thoughts on the subject.

I think playing mind games is a form of OCD... a compulsive need to control other people. Playing mind games is a manipulation tactic. If Person X chooses to play mind games with someone, it's because she wants to manipulate their responses and their reactions to her. She wants the ball to stay in her court all the time. She wants to make the rules. She wants to ensure that the situation goes according to her plans.

Sometimes this manipulation is conscious, but I think a lot of times it's just a subconscious habit, a way of doing things that we've had ingrained in us from a very young age. We see it everywhere we look. Parents do it to their children, couples do it to each other, the media (in all its various forms) does it to society... we are all guilty of it at some point in our lives... doing or saying something with the express goal of eliciting a certain response.

What I am aiming for in my life right now is the opposite of this manipulation. It's honesty.

See, honesty puts the ball in your court. It lets you as an individual decide how to react to what I lay out as truth or fact. It does so without emotional hang-ups and without any particular desired response. And it is, honestly, a remarkably difficult thing to accomplish.

See, at least for me, whenever I interact with someone, I have an automatic 'desired response.' There is a certain way I want people to react to what I say or do. And it's tough to push that desired response aside and get into the mindset that it doesn't matter what reaction I get, as long as the truth is being told. But sometimes it's hard to be truthful in a society that doesn't really respect the truth.

And truth... one of the words that I will soon have tattooed permanently into my skin... truth, in it's truest form, isn't easy to come by. It tends to be tainted. We're not used to telling it, and so we're not used to hearing it. It's so easy to embellish or sugar-coat the truth... but is it really the truth after all that?

How long are we as a society going to be okay with living in lies?

I tell the people close to me in my life that the best way to hurt me or insult me is to lie to me. If you have something negative to say, it's like ripping off the proverbial band-aid. Say it honestly, brutally honestly, if you must, and let me deal with the pain and get over it. If you just keep covering up everything with band-aids, there are going to be a lot more to pull off eventually, and the pain is going to be prolonged unnecessarily.

Yeah, the truth can hurt. A lot. But if you ask anyone who's been chronically lied to, they'll probably tell you... lies hurt a lot more.

Maybe Mom was right. Maybe honesty really IS the best policy.

Monday, February 9, 2009

Insecurity and defense mechanisms

A conversation I had today got me thinking about the many manifestations of insecurity I see in the people around me, and the defense mechanisms they use to hide the way they feel.

The critic
For instance... some people manifest their insecurity by being overly critical of others. Some people feel the need to put others down or to be overly demanding of others in order to make themselves look better. It's as if they're saying, "If I make this person look or feel like an idiot, then I will look and feel better by comparison." People who feel small want to make other people feel just as small. People who have a healthy self-confidence want to make others feel confident, too.

The flaunter
Some people manifest their insecurity by overcompensation. Some people feel the need to have the latest fad gadget, the most expensive car, the biggest house, the best big-screen TV, the designer clothes and the diamond jewelry... and they are often the people with the greatest insecurities. It's as if they're saying, "I don't think very highly of myself, so I want to have the best of everything so that other people will think highly of me." A lack of self-confidence creates a void in your emotional being. By attempting to define yourself by the things you have, you show me you aren't comfortable with yourself as a person and need something else to fill the void.

The obsessive
Some people manifest their insecurity by obsession. I have seen this in numerous ways. Some men, when they feel emasculated by the women in their lives, develop an obsession with things that make them feel "manly." Sports, violent video games, fast cars, guns. Some women, when they feel insecure, develop an obsession with things that make them feel worthy. Fitness, fashion and beauty endeavors are common ways women attempt to validate themselves. The obsession can often become a way for these people to prove to themselves that they are good enough. It's as if they're saying, "I don't feel good about myself, but if I pour myself into this one thing, I will feel better."

The slut
The slut syndrome is another way insecure people attempt to validate themselves. For some people, having sex with various partners makes them feel better about themselves. It's as if they're saying, "If all these people wanted to sleep with me, then I must be worth something, I must be sexy, I must be special." It's a very common mechanism for people who have felt rejected in a relationship.

The sarcastic
Some people manifest their insecurity by using sarcasm as a relationship barrier. This is the category I generally fall into. Some people (including me) use sarcasm as a way to keep people at a distance, to keep people from getting too close. It's a mechanism that (supposedly) keeps insecure people from getting hurt. It's as if they're saying, "If I don't let you get near me, you won't see my flaws and you won't reject me."

The attention whore
Some people manifest their insecurity by demanding attention from everyone around them. Some people aren't happy unless they are in the spotlight and everyone in the room is focused on them. The attention whore often takes drastic measures to be the center of attention. They tend to be very likeable people, but they may brag a lot about themselves and their accomplishments. It's as if they're saying, "If I can get all these people to pay attention to me and think I'm worth something, I will feel reassured of my worth."

All of these manifestations of insecurity are perfectly normal, but all of them are harmful to you and often to those around you. And so, some brief words to each of you.

To the critic...

Learn to focus on positives, in yourself and in others. Look for the good in other people, and check yourself when you start criticizing. Recognize your tendency to be critical, and stop to think about when you feel those tendencies and why.

To the flaunter...

Learn to focus on who you are rather than what you have. Nice things are nice, but don't let things define you. You are more than things. You are a person, and your heart, your soul, your mind, your goals, your dreams, your relationships and your life are all a million times more important than the things you have. You want people to love you for you, not for your stuff. Recognize your tendency to fill your void with nice things, and think about when you feel those tendencies and why.

To the obsessive...

Learn to focus on the big picture rather than the individual things that you think will get you what you want. An obsession with one thing in life will not make you feel like a complete person. A complete, whole life is made up of a balance of many components. Recognize your tendency to obsess, and stop to think about when you feel those tendencies and why.

To the slut...

Learn to focus on building deep relationships rather than momentarily validating ones. You will feel more secure in yourself by realizing that a few people love you for who you really are, rather than many people loving you for a passing, meaningless moment. Recognize your tendency to seek validation from sexual partners, and stop to think about when you feel those tendencies and why.

To the sarcastic...

Learn to focus on letting people see the real you rather than a pre-determined mask or barrier. Open yourself up. You may not get hurt if you don't let people get close to you, but you also won't be able to love and be loved. Take a chance. Recognize your tendency to use sarcasm to push people away, and stop to think about when you feel those tendencies and why.

To the attention whore...

Learn to focus on other people rather than on yourself. You may be surprised to find how much self-confidence can be gained by paying attention to others and not worrying about what they think of you. Recognize your tendency to draw attention to yourself, and stop to think about when you feel those tendencies and why.


What are you insecure about? How do you manifest your insecurities? What can you do to deal with your insecurities in a healthy way?

Tuesday, February 3, 2009

I would have loved you anyway

If I'd've known the way that this would end
If I'd've read the last page first
If I'd've had the strength to walk away
If I'd've known how this would hurt

I would've loved you anyway
I'd do it all the same
Not a second I would change
Not a touch that I would trade
Had I known my heart would break
I'd've loved you anyway

It's bittersweet to look back now
At memories withered on a vine
Just to hold you close to me
For a moment in time

I would've loved you anyway
I'd do it all the same
Not a second I would change
Not a touch that I would trade
Had I known my heart would break
I'd've loved you anyway

Even if I'd seen it comin'
You'd still have seen me runnin'
Straight into your arms

I would've loved you anyway
I'd do it all the same
Not a second I would change
Not a touch that I would trade
Had I known my heart would break
I would've loved you anyway
I would've loved you anyway

Monday, February 2, 2009

Sometimes men just don't get it

My dear co-worker and friend drove me to the bar after work tonight, and we hung out for an hour or so, mostly just relaxing after a long day.

It was one of those nights. You know the kind I mean. The kind of night when, even though you've just gotten off work and you haven't retouched your makeup all day, you still look amazing in those wonderfully dimly lit dive bars. Yeah, it was one of those nights.

So I'm having a coke and a conversation with my beautiful friend, and this cute guy keeps watching me from across the room. He's good-looking, so I shoot him a glance and a smile or two, and he takes that as a sign to come up behind me when I turn my back and tap my shoulder.

I shake hands, as any polite bar fly might, and introduce myself. He does the same, and then proceeds to stare blankly at me for a moment, as if processing his next sentence took an excruciating amount of brainpower.

His next statement, however, didn't reflect any exerted brainpower at all.

"So who were you rooting for in the Super Bowl today?"

Uh, sidebar. If you're a guy at a bar, try not to assume that all the pretty girls you see want to discuss football as an icebreaker.

Now, I enjoy sports other than football, so I explained to this guy that I'm not much of an NFL girl, but I'm crazy about the NBA, and to try to keep the conversation flowing, I mentioned that where I come from, basketball trumps pretty much every other sport.

So he paused for another minute, swayed drunkenly a bit, and asked where I was from. A decent question. So I answer. "San Antonio, Texas."

Another pause. God, this is getting really irritating. I could have three other conversations in the time it takes him to process this one.

He then stares at me again, and says, "Wow, I've never met anyone from Texas who didn't like football." More swaying. How many beers has this guy had today? Obviously his halftime party was quite a bash.

I explain that I'm not your average Texan, and turn away to chat with my lovely friend, who sees my distress and becomes my personal savior by asking some incredibly enthralling question that demands an immediate (and private) conversation.

He wanders away, but a few minutes later, he comes back. Wow, buddy. You didn't get the message? Denser than I thought. Let's try this again.

"I think our conversation got cut off somehow," he says.

"Yeah, probably. That happens sometimes in a crowded bar." I'm just annoyed by now. I sip on my coke, and my savior rescues me once more by pointing out something hilarious on the TV behind the bar. I love her.

Finally, this guy pays his tab and starts to walk out. He comes up behind me and taps my shoulder again. He leans in and says, "I'm leaving now..." and gives me this look like he's anticipating something. I shake his hand again, and say, "Okay, hon, have a good night." I turn back to my friends. He taps my shoulder AGAIN. And stares. No words. He just stares.

Huh? What do you expect me to say?

"Oh yeah, we just had this wonderful conversation, a total of about seven words, and now I'm just dying to give your drunk ass my phone number."

Do I look desperate?

God, I hope not.

So, here's a quick rundown of signs to look for that indicate I'm not interested in continuing a conversation with you:

1. I say a quick hello and turn immediately back to my companions.
2. I answer your questions succinctly and turn immediately back to my companions.
3. I shake your hand, say "Have a good night," and turn immediately back to my companions.
4. I completely ignore you as I'm chatting with my companions.

My friend and I left the bar laughing our asses off.

I love the bar. Such intriguing things go on within those four walls.

I might be pretty. I like to think I am. But I don't need your creepy stares and slurring comments to validate the way I see myself. In fact, I don't need your sober stares or normal comments to validate the way I see myself. I like attention, but don't think just paying attention to me is going to make me want you, need you, have to have you. I need a little more than a guy who plays the role of the magic mirror telling me I'm the fairest in the land. Mostly because it's not true, but also because I don't care. It's my soul, my heart, my brain that makes me who I am. My body is just the package I come in.

I've had men obsess over me before. Where are the good men that are worthy of my obsession?

Sunday, January 18, 2009

Your tits are not a valid conversational topic, hon. Try again.

So, I realized (again) tonight why I don't hang out with groups of females very often.

They irritate the hell out of me.

Can someone please explain to me why the extent of a female's conversational ability is confined to about three asinine things when she is in the company of other females?

1. Men. Women love to talk about men. The men they like, the men they hate, the men they fucked, the men who fucked them over... and most of the conversation on this topic is degrading, gossipy, bitter and/or completely unwarranted. I can't stand listening to women bitch about the way men treat them. Listen, sister. If you weren't such a bitch to the guy, maybe he'd be a little nicer. And if you weren't so emotionally wrecked and needy, maybe he'd enjoy your company a little more. And if you weren't such a slut, maybe he'd respect you a little more. Don't get me wrong... men can be pretty stupid sometimes. But women like you certainly don't help the situation.

2. Women. Women love to talk about other women. Yep, gossip. Yes, dear... the whole room needs to know who slept with who behind who's back. And we all care who danced on the bar topless that one night in Cabo. And we're just dying to hear what that bitch said about us while we were in the bathroom. Good Lord, is there no end? Is your life so pointless and meaningless that you feel the need to find fulfillment in the gory details of other people's lives?

3. Tits. Yeah, you thought this one would be on the Things Men Talk About Too Often list. Well, it is. But it's on this one, too. Why on earth do women enjoy discussing their boobs so much? Cup size, cleavage, breast-feeding babies, nipple rings, bra shopping, drunk-flashing people... who gives a flying fuck? Maybe instead of that breast implant, you should have gotten a brain implant. It would have been put to better use, anyway. Listen, sweetie. I've got my own tits. I don't need to hear all about yours. Please. Put 'em away and let's chat about something that matters.

For the sake of all that is decent in the world, please think of something else to talk about. There are orphans in Africa, and they don't care one bit about your boob job.

Put People and Cosmo back on the rack, and pick up Time instead. Or The New Yorker. Or the New York Times. Or whatever small-town, two bit newspaper you can find. But for Pete's sake, woman, read something that matters!

I like to think I'm a decent conversationalist. I may not know a whole lot about a whole lot, but I know a little bit about a lot, and that helps me converse semi-intelligently on a wide variety of subjects. Here's an abbreviated list of some of the topics I can discuss, if not intelligently, then at least interestingly.

1. Cars, especially classic ones. The prettier it is, the longer I'll be able to talk about it.
2. Star Trek. No, I don't go to conventions. Yes, I can discuss the philosophical ramifications of various episodes.
3. Movies. And I don't mean American Pie or Legally Blonde: The Stupidest Sequel in the World.
4. Current events. And I don't mean the latest American Idol show.
5. Music. And way more than just the current Top 40 hits, too. My taste dates back to the early '40s and spans almost every genre imaginable.
6. Technology. Believe it or not, I can hold a conversation that involves terms like terabyte and defrag.
7. Literature. Think Jane Austen, Edgar Allan Poe. Not paperback romance novels and soap-opera-esque chick lit.
8. Work. Yes, I can tell fun stories about what happens at work, and the interesting things I do for a living. I don't always find it necessary to bitch about my bosses and my coworkers. Sometimes, yes. But mostly in the context of a story that will make you laugh.

Ladies, please don't get mad at a guy for staring at your tits when you talk if you can't find anything intelligent to say. Learn how to have a decent conversation, and maybe, just maybe he'll care more about your brain than your boobs. And if not, well, move on. You deserve someone who sees the real you. Just do yourself a favor and make sure the real you is a little more than just great tits. You'll be doing your guy (and everyone else who ever has to speak to you) a favor, too.