Tag Archives: dating

That Time I Shut Up

“The world is filled with people who, no matter what you do, will point blank not like you. But it is also filled with those who will love you fiercely. They are your people. You are not for everyone and that’s ok. Talk to the people who can hear you. Don’t waste your precious time and gifts trying to convince them of your value, they won’t ever want what you’re selling. Don’t convince them to walk alongside you. You’ll be wasting both your time and theirs and will likely inflict unnecessary wounds, which will take precious time to heal. You are not for them and they are not for you; politely wave them on, and continue along your way. Sharing your path with someone is a sacred gift; don’t cheapen this gift by rolling yours in the wrong direction. Keep facing your true north.”
– Rebecca Campbell, from her book, Light is the New Black

Make sure you read that quote up there. Read it very carefully.

Did you read it?  Good. Now, go back and read it again. I’ll wait. Really, go on.

There.

[See? Still here. Told you I’d wait.]

I read that quote yesterday for the first time and it really got to me. And I mean really. I went back and read it again. And then again. And then one more time for good measure. Seeing those words, and then committing them to my heart and mind, reminded me of something that I don’t talk about very  much.

And today, I’m going to change that.

I want to tell you about the time I shut up.

I know, I know. Sounds like fiction, right? Me? Shutting up? But nope – this story I’m going to tell you is all true. Every last word of it.

Unfortunately.

Most of you who read this blog either don’t know me at all, or know me through the wonderful world of social media. With that being said, you know the “me” who is a talker. The me who posts a Facebook status or a blog post every time a thought enters my mind. The me who is a performer, a writer, an extrovert in every sense of the word.

But there was a time before all of this. A time before Facebook. A time before the writing and the sharing and the openness.

A time between performances. An intermission, so to speak.

I was involved in a bad relationship. Now, don’t take that as my saying I was in a relationship with a bad man. That’s not what I’m saying. I’m saying I was in a bad relationship. A really bad one. And what made it so bad was this: I was with someone who didn’t like me.

It’s true. I spent almost five years involved with a man who didn’t like me. Oh, he loved me, I suppose. But he didn’t like me. There’s a difference, ya know. He didn’t like who I was.

For example, he didn’t like when I told people things. Anything. Because, of course, I could have been telling them our problems and those things needed to remain private. So, I stopped telling people anything, good or bad, in person or on social media. I just stopped reaching out; kept to myself.

He didn’t like my writing because I might make him the subject of it and, again, that needed to remain private. My views were so outlandish anyway, no one would ever possibly identify with anything I had to say. I should just be quiet and save myself the embarrassment.

So I stopped writing.

intermissionHe didn’t like my acting. After being involved with community theatres for as long as I could remember, I let the curtain fall on those aspirations. Theatre took time and time was something I didn’t have. I needed to be with him, not out doing God knows what with God knows who for all of those hours. A woman belonged with her family, not on a stage. What was wrong with me?

So I stopped acting.

For someone as bold and blunt and hardheaded as I am, I’m sure it’s hard for you to believe this when I tell you. How could this have happened? How could someone like me become someone like that? But folks, I’m here to tell you – it happened. I wore my hair the way he required. (He once refused to look at me for an entire day because I straightened it and he wanted the natural curls.) I dressed the way he required. I obeyed the way he required.  (Until the time I didn’t – but that’s a story for another day.)

I became so entranced with trying to please him and be what he wanted that I lost me. I had no idea who I was anymore. I became depressed. I slept for hours at a time. I gained weight. In short, I was miserable.

Why does this matter now? Why am I writing about it all these years later?

A few reasons.

First, I posted a blog earlier this week that wasn’t popular with a few people. (Okay, a lot of people.) My viewpoint didn’t jive with some others…including that of my own brother. I don’t like disagreeing with people I love, and for a moment, I did what I used to do. I stopped talking. I got off of the internet for a few hours and didn’t say a word. I didn’t stand my ground, I didn’t argue my point. I ran.

In other words, I shut up.

But then a few hours later, with a sudden jolt, I immediately realized what I was doing. I was once again allowing the sound of me to disappear because someone didn’t like what they heard.

Second reason I’m telling this story: I saw something a week or so ago that I can’t seem to shake from my mind. There was a news story going around about a woman whose husband was being prosecuted because of forcing her to have sex with many men over a period of years. While the story itself was atrocious, the comments that followed the posting of the story were almost worse. I saw so many people saying, “she obviously wanted it or she wouldn’t have participated” and “why doesn’t she go to jail too? She is the one who did it.” Etc. etc. I saw the woman called every unsavory name under the sun, followed ironically by the question of, “Why didn’t she leave?”

Ah, yes. The “why didn’t she leave?” stance. My favorite.

Sigh. What is wrong with us? What is wrong with people today? Why are we so full of ourselves that we think we know everything? Why do we feel like we know the true story of something that happens behind closed doors that we’ve never even peeked around? Why do we feel that we know the obvious answer when this poor victim didn’t? Do we think we are that much better than her? That much smarter? That much wiser?

I don’t know, guys. I really don’t know.

But I do know this.

I am now someone who tries to recognize the ones who are between performances. I know too well what that feels like. I try hard not to judge. I try hard to remember that I don’t know what happened that put them where they are today. Until you’ve been there, you don’t know how easy it is to slip down that slippery slope of people pleasing. You want so badly to be loved…to be liked…that you find the pieces of you that they don’t like slipping away a little at a time until you don’t even recognize yourself anymore. If you haven’t been there, you don’t know. But trust me, it doesn’t happen overnight. It happens in fits and starts and the further you go down the rabbit hole, the harder it is to turn around and crawl your way out.

Back to that quote at the beginning.

Are you someone who’s between performances? Is it intermission time in your life? I’m here to tell you that I understand. I truly do. But I also want to tell you that I finally…finally…also understand what it feels like on the other side.

“Talk to the people who can hear you.”

Find your song again, friends. Find it and sing it loud. Sing your heart out. For the ones who like you, your song will be music to their ears. Your song will be the best one they’ve ever heard. To them, all other music stops when you start singing. Your voice is beautiful.

And for the ones who don’t like you? They won’t be able to hear you at all. They just won’t. And you can’t make them. It’s such a hard lesson to learn, but it is a necessary one.

Never, ever, let yourself believe what I did. Never tell yourself that the answer is to stop singing. Believe me, dear ones. There is a place for your song. A place that would be empty without it.

Find it. Okay? Promise me. Find it.

And don’t let anyone, or anything, ever shut you up again.

Intermission is over, my friends. It’s time for the second act.

BR9KJP Empty movie theater

***

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Romance: Confessions of a Girly Girl

“The longer you have to wait for something, the more you will appreciate it when it finally arrives. The harder you have to fight for something, the more priceless it will become once you achieve it. And the more pain you have to endure on your journey, the sweeter the arrival at your destination. All good things are worth waiting for and worth fighting for.”
– Susan Gale
Okay, so I have a confession to make.

I’m a girl.

Yep, it’s true. A big ole girly girl. That’s me. Now, I try to be rational – keep my head out of the clouds and all that jazz. But deep down, I’m still a girl. I still believe in girly stuff…romance, love, heart flutters…all that silliness.

I’ve been a writer for as long as I can remember (though it took over 30 years for me to get up the nerve to call myself that) and I can remember being 14 years old and writing my first love song. Talk about girly…sheesh! Here are some of the lyrics:

“Love, it can stand the test of time,
It can cross over any lines
No matter what people say
They would find a way
Nothing could stop those feelings inside…”

Girly, huh? Oh, you should hear the rest of it. It’s all about two young people in love who are torn apart for whatever reason and they have all these miles and years between them and yet still they hold on to each other through it all. Then she’s dying and in he walks to hold her as she takes her last breath.

*BARF!*

It’s easy now to make fun of that little 14-year-old version of me who wrote those silly little love lyrics. But, if I’m perfectly honest with myself, a part of her still exists. A pretty big part actually.

Those of you who know me or who have read my blog regularly know that my husband and I do not have your typical love story. (Read more about that here if you want.)  We didn’t see each other across a crowded room and gaze into each other’s eyes as we realized we had found the one.  Ha!  Hardly. We met, dated, ended things. Crossed paths again, dated, ended things. Got back together, got engaged, got married. Some love story, huh?

And I’m going to be honest with you – that little 14-year-old songwriter side of me has always struggled with that a bit. Isn’t it supposed to happen like it does in the movies?  Aren’t you supposed to meet and feel this sudden fluttery feeling in your stomach and just know? Now, in all honesty, it almost happened like that with me. It didn’t take long for me to decide that Richard was what I wanted.  But Richard? Notsomuch. He struggled. He was coming out of a long-term relationship and just wasn’t sure if my redheaded, loud-mouthed, starry-eyed version of romance was what he was needing in his life at the time. It took quite a while for him to come around.

And that bothered me.

During my varied insecure moments over the years, I’ve questioned him about this. “Did you just have to convince yourself to love me?” “Did you just decide to force it because it made sense?” “How do you know it’s real?” “Do you ever wonder if you made a mistake?” Etc.  (He loves these conversations, by the way.) And every time, he just tells me in his quiet, no-nonsense way that none of that matters. He loves me now. That’s all there is to it.

But I’m a girl, darn it!  I want more than that!  I want answers!

My dear lifelong friend John Michael posted something on my Facebook wall one day that he said made him think of mine and Richard’s relationship. Here it is:

romance

I told him at the time that he couldn’t know how much that meant to me. I didn’t know why or how to put it into words, but something about that quote just really struck a chord with me. I love the phrase “tidier histories.”  A tidy history is something that Richard and I definitely do not have. It’s a mess.

But maybe that’s okay?

This morning I was riding to work listening to an audio book: Orange is the New Black by Piper Kerman. For those of you who aren’t familiar with this (or haven’t seen the Netflix TV series that sprouted from it), this is a true story about the author’s one-year stint in prison. Now, you wouldn’t expect to glean a love lesson from something like that, but…leave it to me…I did.

In one part of the book, Piper’s husband had written an article for the local paper about their unconventional love story. (It was unconventional even before she went to prison.) He talked about how he didn’t know from the start that she was “the one.” He said that it took him years to decide, even after they started dating, that he might want to marry her. He said he generally takes his time to choose anything in his life – even material things – and, because of this inability to make definite decisions, he tends to keep receipts for things he buys in case he decides to take them back. Basically, it’s not that he doesn’t want these things, it’s that he’s afraid he might be making a mistake. His fear of commitment (my words, not his) masks his desire.

Hmmm.

Now I’m sure there were thousands of lessons that Piper Kerman wanted us to take from her year of incarceration, but the one I took was this one. This tiny little blip in her book about how her husband wasn’t sure he wanted to marry her from the start.  I’m sure she’d be so proud if she knew this…

Turns out, I guess some people are just careful. They take their time. They make sure something is right before they dive in. Does that mean it isn’t real? Of course not. That just means they want to know they’re making the right decision before they make it. So, should I still be offended and worried that we don’t have that “movie” kind of love? Nah. I’d say what we have is better. I wasn’t just a passing feeling of romance that overtook him instantly. I was a long, well-thought out decision that he had to make. And in the end, my careful sweetheart chose me.

Awwww.  Well, how do you like that.

Now, does this mean I’m going to stop with all those insecurity questions? Am I going to lay off for a while and give him a break and rest in the knowledge that he does indeed love me and move forward without looking back ever again?

Psssh. Heck no. As if…

Hey, I’m still a girl. 😉

merichie

 ***

“For anything worth having one must pay the price;
and the price is always work, patience, love, self-sacrifice.”

– John Burroughs

The Basic Human Rights Struggle…um, I mean The Same-Sex Marriage Struggle

 “Gay rights is just one of the social issues I’m interested in. I think that people might be less tense about it if we would all accept the fact that not everyone is wired the same way.”
– Charlaine Harris
Let me start this out by saying that I’m the least informed person when it comes to politics that you may ever meet in your life. Why is that? I don’t know. I just have a brain block or something when it comes to that subject. I don’t like things that don’t have a clear-cut right or wrong answer. To me, politics is just a massive pile of personal opinion being thrown around that ends up creating laws that force others into submission, regardless of how they may feel about the situation. Call me crazy, but I just don’t like that crap.

And you know another reason I stay out of it?  It’s pretty simple, really.

I HATE when people don’t agree with me.

I do. Oh my gosh, do I hate it. Why are other people so darn dense? Why can’t they see that I’m always right??? Sheesh.

Which brings me to one of the current topics of political discussion these days. Same-sex marriage.

Unless you live under a rock (and hey, if you do – scootch over, I’m coming in too), you have heard that same-sex marriage is a hot topic these days. And now, it has made it to the supreme court. Hearings started yesterday and the outcome is not expected to be heard until June 30th.  June friggin 30th.

protestSo, let me get this straight.  (No pun intended.)  A discussion is going to start on April 28 and is going to continue throughout TWO FULL MONTHS before the final decision is made…and it’s all about whether or not two people who love each other can get married?

Excuse me while I scratch my head for the next two months straight because I don’t know what the heck is happening here.

For those of you who don’t know me, I’m a voracious reader. I constantly have a book going. Actually, I usually have at least three books going at any given time. I listen to audio books in the car, I carry a paper book with me wherever I go, and I have audio books on my phone so I can listen to them when I’m running. Now, for someone who reads as much as I do, there’s a massive potential for me to be supremely intelligent, wouldn’t you say?  I could be reading “how to” books and history books and current events books. But nope. I just listen to novels. Made-up stories. Not anything earth-shattering or informational. Just pure old-fashioned entertainment. But every now and then, a little nugget of awesomeness slips through from one of these novels. Let me share one with you. This is from The Patron Saint of Liars by Ann Patchett.

(Young girl to a nun): “What would the church say about something like that?” (Nun’s answer): “No, the question is what would God say. And that’s between her and God. It’s none of our business.”

Now, did you catch that? It’s NONE OF OUR FRIGGIN BUSINESS. Why in this world is it going to take TWO MONTHS for a bunch of supreme court justices to sit around and decide the fate of something that is none of our business? It just blows my little novel-reading, politics-ignoring, pea-sized mind.

Am I looking at this too simply? Perhaps. But is the world making this much more complicated than it needs to be?  YES. For God’s sake, YES.

I know this may come as a shock to some of you, but Christianity is not the only religion in this country. (I’ll pause here while some of you catch your bearings. Breathe. Just breathe.) Thus, that whole separation of church and state thing that everyone ignores. We are a country of diversity. Beautiful, precious diversity. Why is it any of my business what the neighbors are doing with their personal life? Why? If same-sex couples are not allowed to marry, are they all going to suddenly break up, repent, see the error of their ways, and get back in straight relationships where they belong? Puh-lease. This is a formality. Straight people are straight, gay people are gay, and there is nothing that a supreme court is going to be able to do about that. It’s nature, people.

I was recently at a conference for my job. Now, I work in real estate, mind you, and guess what topic came up at this conference? You guessed it. Same-sex marriage. A local North Carolina county register of deeds was the guest speaker and she was speaking about the changes that have been enacted in relation to same-sex marriages being filed with the court. While same-sex marriages are supposed to be recognized in the state of North Carolina now, many court workers have refused to participate in the preparation and filing of the licenses. So, how has North Carolina responded to this little problem? They have allowed the workers to refuse the work if it goes against their beliefs. Oh, same-sex couples can still be married, mind you. But they have to wait to be sure the register of deeds herself (or himself) is present because they, unlike the other workers, are not allowed to refuse. What the heck?

Scene. Okay, I’m a worker at the register of deeds office. You with me? I’m sitting there playing solitaire on my computer and in walks my ex-boyfriend. Yep, that sorry, no good ex-boyfriend of mine that broke my heart into a million pieces. And who does he have with him? The good-for-nothing little blonde that he LEFT ME FOR. And what’s he there to do? Get a marriage license. Are you kidding me? Oh HELL NO! That jerk doesn’t deserve to be married. So, nope. Not gonna do it. Why? Because my BELIEFS say that this lowlife doesn’t deserve marriage like the rest of us do. Why not? Because he’s a cheating bag of scum. So there. BAM! No marriage for you, sucker.

And guess what? I get to keep my job. Nanny nanny boo boo.

Oh, wait. That scenario is different, you say?  Pray tell me how? That was me letting my personal beliefs interfere with my job. Why on earth do I get to continue working there? Shouldn’t I have to do my job or get the heck out? What is it about this that I’m not getting, people?  Help me out here.

At this same conference, the register of deeds was talking about all of the new e-filing systems and how technologically advanced North Carolina is when it comes to those matters. Somewhat under her breath, she followed that up with, “North Carolina: technologically advanced, but legally backwards.”

Amen, sister.

I_Support_All_Kinds_of_Love_by_Hazel_AlmondsWhat’s my point of this blog? Nothing really. Just a rant, I suppose. Just some rambling thoughts about an issue that affects people I love. Will what I say make a difference to anyone?  Probably not. But should I keep saying it? You betcha. If one person out there knows that one other person in this world has their back, then my job here is done.

Why can’t we just love and let love?  I just don’t get it….

***

“If Sue loves Joe and Tom loves Joe, Sue can marry him and Tom can’t. And the difference is based upon their different sex. Why isn’t that a straightforward question of sexual discrimination?”

– Chief Justice John Roberts, April 28, 2015

I Know Where Love Lives

“You keep your mansions of gold
Buddy, I don’t care
‘Cause I know where love lives”
– Hal Ketchum

So, let me tell you a little about what’s been happening at my house lately.  Actually, it’s kind of the same thing that is pretty much always happening at my house. Richard, my gorgeous new husband who happens to be a musician, is learning a new song.

And here’s what happens at our house when Richard is learning a new song.

Nothing.

That’s right. Nothing.

The man has a one-track mind, people. He decides he wants to learn a new song (or anything new for that matter) and his focus is on that one thing and that one thing only.  He’s like a dog with a bone, man.

Example?  A conversation in the living room the other night:

Me:  Richard, did you hear me?
Richard:  *singing and playing guitar*
Me:  Richard?  I was talking to you.
Richard: *singing and playing guitar*
My daughter: He only listens if it’s about a song. Sing it to him and see if that works.

Oh yeah. This is how it is, folks.  And you want to know a secret?  Want to know how I really feel about that?

I love it.

I know, I know.  I know what you’re thinking. Oh, they’re newlyweds. She thinks it’s cute now, but just wait…  And hey, I’ll give ya that. Maybe you’re right. Maybe one day it’ll drive me nuts. But right now?

Nope.

And here’s why.

I’ve been hearing a lot of pretty sad stuff in the news lately. One, in particular, is something that has happened to a fellow runner in an online running group I am a part of. Now, I don’t know this woman personally. Let me just give that disclaimer upfront. But I feel like I do. She’s a woman; a mom; a runner; a fellow human being. I identify with her in many ways. But there’s one way that (but for the grace of God go I) I don’t identify with her. She was in an abusive relationship. Note the word was. She is no longer in that relationship anymore. Why? Because her husband…the father of her four children and the man who took vows before God to honor and cherish her…took her life last week.

Just like that, she’s gone.

You hear news like that, and you can’t help but think of your own life. It’s human nature. I’m no exception. First, I feel a sense of disbelief. That can’t possibly have just happened to someone who is just like me. Next, I feel sadness. Such overwhelming sadness for those four kids who have to face this world without their mother, and with a murderous father in prison for the rest of his life.

And then, my feelings almost immediately switch over to something else. Gratitude. That’s right. I feel grateful. I can’t help it. It may sound horrible to say that–it may sound overwhelmingly selfish–but that doesn’t make it any less true. I immediately thank God that I will never know how that poor woman felt in those last moments of her life. I’ll never know what it feels like to fear the man I love.

Never.

So, when you put it like that…it makes a little one-track-mind singing seem pretty trivial, doesn’t it?  I’m in love with a man who fills our home with music. So, not only does it not irritate me when his mind is stuck on a song…it fills me with an indescribable joy. My heart fills with so much love for this gentle, tender, good man that I just cannot believe that the stars aligned in such a way that brought him into my world.

So, back to the song. The song he has been learning is called “I Know Where Love Lives” by Hal Ketchum.  Here’s a little snippet of the lyrics:

There’s a house on the edge of town
It’s a little old, it’s a little run down
Full of laughter and tears and toys
Crazy things only love enjoys

I know where love lives

I know where love lives
She’s sitting on the back step in the evening air
Sea green eyes and her chestnut hair

You keep your mansions of gold
Buddy, I don’t care
‘Cause I know where love lives

Wow.

Nope, our life isn’t perfect.  Yep, we get on each others’ nerves at times, no doubt.  But you know what?

I know where love lives.

And that’s the greatest gift I could have ever imagined.

lovelives

Photo credit: Bobbi Jo Scott

 ***

“Sometimes we should express our gratitude for the small and simple things. Like the scent of the rain, the taste of your favorite food, or the sound of a loved one’s voice.”
– Joseph B. Wirthlin

I do.

“Happily ever after is not a fairy tale. It’s a choice.”
– Fawn Weaver

Well, hey there strangers!

So, I knew it had been a while since I had written a blog post, but I just checked the calendar and realized it has been almost a full month!  Whoa.  That is officially the longest I have gone without a post since I started this blog in February 2013.  Bad girl, Mel.  Bad. Girl.  *hand smack*

Ok, now that the punishment has been doled out, let’s get back to business.

First, thank you all for still being here.  Much to my surprise, when I finally came back and checked my blog stats, there wasn’t a single day in the last month that didn’t have at least 10 views or so.  That’s pretty awesome.  You guys are still checking out my stuff, even while I’m AWOL. My readers rock.

Secondly, a bit of an explanation. (Or, maybe I should say, excuses? Eh. Tomato, Tomahto…)

Let me start out by saying that my absence from the blog has not exactly meant that I haven’t been writing at all per se. I actually have been working on a “project,” so to speak. I was asked to contribute to an upcoming anthology of local writers in the county. How cool is that!? I’ll provide more details as the publication date gets closer, which is April 2015 as of now. When I was first asked to contribute, my first thought was, Say what? Um, hellllo? An anthology about this county? Ahhem. You do realize I’m a gypsy, right? I’m a military brat…from everywhere and nowhere…a nomad…a wanderer…(I’m out of words…) Basically, you realize that it’s hard to write about any place as if I actually belonged there. Right?

But, you know what happened? The same thing that always happens when I sit down to write something (this blog you’re reading now being no exception). The words just poured out of my heart. And through that writing, I realized something. Maybe I have finally found a place to belong.

Well. How about that.

And using that realization as an awesome segue into that other little bitty tidbit of information that I haven’t filled my readers in on during my absence…I’ll give you a bit more info as to what has been keeping me so busy over the past few weeks. Oh ya know, it’s nothing major. No biggie. Just this tiny little change that is getting ready to take place in my life….

RICHARD AND I ARE GETTING MARRIED!!!

EEEEEEEEK!

Yup. It’s official, people. On July 10, 2014, Richard asked me to be his wife.

Okay, that’s a total lie. That’s not how it went down at all. I mean, come on. Nothing about our relationship has been traditional up to this point, so why should the engagement be any different? Here’s how it really went down (or something to this effect…)

Me: (jokingly – like I’ve done many times before…) We should get married.
Richard: We should.
Me: Uh huh.
Richard: Let’s do it.
Me: *Laughter*
Richard: No, really. Let’s do it.
Me: Are you drinking?
Richard: It’s 10:00 a.m.
Me: Are you drinking?

Or something like that. (Pretty darn close to that actually.) Yes, folks, that’s the romantic way in which Richard and I came to the decision to tie the knot. Awwwwwww.

USbeachAnd while we’re speaking about the whole non-traditional thing, get this. No engagement ring. I’ve told Richard 5,716 times that if we ever did decide to get married, I really and truly do NOT want an engagement ring. My reasons are numerous, but at the top of the list are (1) been there, done that; (2) bling is not really my thing; (3) I want to spend all that money on something way more awesome. Not sure what, but anything would be better than a ring that I don’t really want; and (4) I want a wedding band. Just a wedding band. That’s it. No “rock.” Just a sweet, meaningful wedding band. And that’s it.

[Insert little aside here about Richard’s response to my “I just want a wedding band” comment… “I could probably get a few of the boys together to play if that’s what you really want.” Grrrr. Not that kind of band, doofus!! Sheesh….Musicians, I tell ya….]

Okay, back to the non-traditional wedding details.

So, am I weird? No? Okay, well about this. I think I’ve also decided to wear a RED wedding dress. Now am I weird?

Dude…me and “traditional” just never have seen eye-to-eye, ya know? I just don’t tend to be a by-the-book kind of gal. And if I ever am, it’s just because I think that’s what is expected of me. How much of tradition do we really even understand anyway? Most of that stuff, we just do because everyone else does. And, in my humble opinion, that has been the cause of lots of problems in this ol’ world as time passes. So, nope. None of that on my wedding day.

Oh, and as for my wedding day? The date will be November 1. Richard wanted a Fall wedding (at our home) so I glanced at the calendar and that date shone like a beacon. It would have been my grandpa’s birthday…the grandpa that passed away just months before I met Richard. The grandpa that Richard reminds me of so often. The grandpa that I think would have really liked him. So, there you go. November 1 it is. It will be a very small, family-only kind of ceremony, with what we hope will be a much larger, very non-formal “reception” (read: cookout) later in the day.

Eeeek! I’m getting married!!!

For those of you that have followed my blog from its early days (and let me pause here to thank you from the bottom of my heart for that), you know well that the road to this day has not been smooth. The love was always there. Always. But the common sense? Eh, notsomuch. It has taken us a very long time to finally smooth out our paths in a way that they are finally able to blend together and head in the same direction. The best things in life are worth waiting for though, right?

Oh yeah, and one more thing!  Another reason I’ve been a tad busy lately?  I started training for my first full marathon.  Guess when it is?  November 15. Two short weeks after my wedding.  So, guess what our honeymoon is going to be?  Yep, you guessed it, people. I’m marrying a man who is willing to let my first full marathon be our honeymoon.

Am I a lucky girl or what?

And there you have it, folks! The reasons (aka excuses) for my blog absence, and a quick run-down of what’s been going on in the meantime. Thanks for still being here. I hope you all know how much you mean to me.

See you soon! (And this time, I mean that!…*Ahhem*…I hope…)

***

“Where there is love, there is life.”
– -Mahatma Gandhi

…You Lose Some

“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.”
– Robert Green Ingersoll

I’m a Loser.

loserThat’s right.  Capital “L” and all.  La-hooooo-za-heeer. (Said in my best Jim Carrey/Ace Ventura voice.)

I often blog about my writing successes on here.  Last year, I wrote about winning first place in the essay category at the Chautauqua Festival Creative Writing Competition.  Then, I went on to tell you about my first published work appearing in the Chicken Soup for the Soul series, and now I have a second story appearing in another Chicken Soup for the Soul book, which will be available in August of this year.  Pretty awesome stuff, huh?

But you know what I don’t often blog about?  All the other submissions I’ve sent in.  Or better yet, all the rejections I’ve received.  And trust me, there are PLENTY of them.

Yesterday, in fact, I received two rejections in one day.  That contest I won first place in last year?  Didn’t even place this year.  The next Chicken Soup for the Soul book that’s coming out after the one in August?  My story wasn’t chosen.  These are just two loser-ish examples (did I mention they happened in ONE DAY?) but there are many more where those came from.  I sent my boyfriend Richard a message yesterday saying “Okay, I’ve received two writing rejections in one day. Tell me I’m pretty.”  (Yeah, I probably won’t be winning any awards for my sense of humor anytime soon either…)

Why am I telling you this?  Well, after my rejection-filled day yesterday, something dawned on me.  I had some pretty good luck straight out of the gate last year.  Now, mind you, I’ve written all my life – as early as I can remember I was giving poems to people as Christmas gifts (did I mention that I’m also cheap?…)  But it wasn’t until a few years ago that I started sharing my writing publicly- starting with this very blog site you’re looking at now.  After the positive feedback I received on my blog posts, I decided to take a chance at submissions.  Lo and behold, I won that essay contest (my first submission EVER!) and then it was shortly followed by a call from Chicken Soup asking to print the story I submitted to them. Whoa! Talk about your beginner’s luck! But soon after those first boosts to the ego, the rejections started coming in.  Magazines didn’t want my essays. I didn’t place in other local writing contests. My blog stats started dropping. And for a brief moment, I sort of felt like giving up.  But you know what?

I didn’t.

And why didn’t I?  Well, I was one of the lucky ones who had been blessed with the feeling of winning.  I knew that just because I “lost” a few times, that doesn’t mean that my stuff wasn’t “good.” It just didn’t get chosen this time.

I kind of have this theory.  I think every life is filled with a certain pre-destined number of wins and losses. And I’m not just talking about writing submissions here.  I’m talking about all that life has to offer – in your professional life, your creative life, your personal life – all of it. They’re not all going to be losses, but they’re not all going to be wins either.  As far as this writing thing is concerned, I was honored with a few of those wins upfront. But in other aspects of my life?  Those wins took a little while longer. I had to go through quite a few defeats before I got to the winning portion. In fact, I’m in the middle of a few defeats now.  But you know what gives me hope?

I know that my time to shine is coming.  I just haven’t gotten to the winning portion yet.

You get it?  You buying what I’m selling here?

We don’t always get the wins up front. But that doesn’t mean they’re not coming. It’s so tempting to give up, isn’t it?  It’s so hard to believe that the good stuff really is out there somewhere.  But it is.

It is.

A few years ago, after my second divorce, I had pretty much decided that a “win” in the love department wasn’t possible.  And then, out of the blue, I met Richard.  And you know what?  That wasn’t a “win” either.  Oh, it is now, don’t get me wrong.  But at first?  Phew.  Let’s just say ours isn’t your typical “their eyes met and it was love at first sight” story.  (Well, it was for one of us…but I won’t get into that right now…)  I could’ve given up on this too.  And trust me, I wanted to. But somewhere deep down, I had a feeling that a win was coming. And you know what?

I was right.

us3Richard and I have what I’ve only dreamed about in the past. I honestly had no idea that a relationship could be this good.  This sweet. This tender.  This supportive.  (WINNING!)  But believe me when I tell you this – it was NOT easy.  I had to take the losses before the win.  Sometimes that’s just how these things work.

I’m so very glad I didn’t give up.  Look at all the love I’d have missed.

Are you going through a loser phase right now?  Hang in there, my friend. I have a feeling a win may be just around the corner.  Just don’t give up before it gets here.

***

“Defeat doesn’t finish a man, quit does. A man is not finished when he’s defeated. He’s finished when he quits.”
– Richard M. Nixon

Out of the Mouths of Babes

“I don’t give a shit if kids take too many selfies or listen to bands I don’t like. They’re smarter, braver and care more than we give them credit for, and that’s pretty much always been the case.”
– Zack Foley

(I hope you’ll pardon my French with that quote above, but censoring it just wouldn’t have packed the same punch.)

I had been toying with a blog idea in my head for a while when I scrolled through Facebook and the above quote caught my attention.  A friend of mine was quoting a friend of his and what he had to say fit right along with the blog I had in my head. So, I asked permission to share it and there you have it.  And here’s why I liked it so much.

kellyselfie

My brilliant little Kelly in all her selfie glory

It’s true.

So incredibly true.

Case in point: my daughter, Kelly.  Those kids Mr. Foley refers to in his quote?  Oh yeah, my kiddo fits it to a tee. That little selfie-taking, weird-music-loving teenager of mine is everything that quote describes.  Especially that last part.

A few weeks ago, my boyfriend Richard and I were…um, let’s say…having some “issues.”  Okay, let’s just call it what it was. We were fighting. And it was bad. Now, if you haven’t heard me mention this before, Richard is a very quiet man. VERY quiet. So, when I say “fighting,” what I mean is…we weren’t speaking to each other. (Even I get tired of yelling when no one yells back.)  These non-communication fights have a tendency to drag on forever, as I’m sure you can imagine, since nothing ever gets talked about or worked on, and this particular fight was no exception. And while we try to hide our arguments from the kids, they aren’t dummies. We go from being the happiest, cuddliest couple in the world to not wanting to be in the same room? Yeah, they kinda figure something is up.

Well, this time, Kelly wasn’t having it.

She sent both of us a group Facebook message.  And I want to show it to you.  Now, I’m editing it a bit to keep out the details of the argument (I’d hate to broadcast publicly how WRONG Richard was, ya know…bless his heart…), but I’ll put enough here for you to get the gist.  Check this out:

“Okay. Y’all are getting on my nerves again. Fighting over really stupid stuff…..To be honest, you both are acting like middle schoolers. You guys get in a fight, don’t try to fix it or don’t want to talk about it, and just act like you don’t care. You do. I know I’m only 14 but I have sense….I know you both love each other and I know you care about each other, so start acting like it…Suck it up and be the couple all of us know you are.”

Okay, so I’m aware that I could be mad that she spoke to adults like that.  The whole “ya’ll are getting on my nerves” and “suck it up” parts aren’t the most respectful terms she could’ve used, of course.  But you know what? She was absolutely right.  Absolutely 100% right.

She didn’t know every detail of the argument we were having, but it really didn’t matter. The details aren’t the point. The point is that, even at 14, she could see that we weren’t handling things the way we were supposed to. She could see the love that he and I were forgetting during our anger. She could see that we needed a reminder to “be the couple that everyone knows we are.”

Now, I’m not sure how Richard immediately felt when he read this (after all – we weren’t speaking), but me?  I instantly felt the tears coming to my eyes. Not only because I knew she was right…I so love that big doofus-head boyfriend of mine with every ounce of my being…but because she cared enough to stick her nose in and try to get us back on track.  That took guts. And a heart.

And I’m so proud of her.

(By the way, Richard’s written response to her message?  “No fair – why do you get to be the smartest one in the family?”)  Heh.

Now, with all this said, I just want to clarify: I’m not saying the kid knows everything.  (Although if you ask her, she’d probably disagree with that statement.)  She still has lots and lots to learn yet.  (Don’t we all?)  But what I am saying is this: sometimes it sure does help to look at things through the simple, caring, knowing eyes of a child.  They see a lot more than we give them credit for, and they have a lot to tell us if we’ll take the time to listen.

Sometimes the details just don’t matter. Sometimes, you just have to get back to the heart of the matter…the love that lies dormant underneath all the chaos. And sometimes…a lot of times, actually…it takes a child to help you do that.

***
“In youth men are apt to write more wisely than they really know or feel; and the remainder of life may be not idly spent in realizing and convincing themselves of the wisdom which they uttered long ago.”
– Nathaniel Hawthorne