Last month wasn't just the month of love around here at Fabulosa Farms, although I did write an awful lot about it.
It was also a month of challenges for this Zesty Mom~ although they were self created ones, so it's not like life just threw them at me.
Sometimes people create challenges for themselves that just seem to make unnecessary drama in their lives and leave you wondering what in the heck they are thinking.
I was going more for the kind of challenges that were thought out and meant to be used as intentional tools for growth.
At least that was the goal.
First, there was the month of writing letters challenge, in which people all over the world attempt to write and send one letter on every day the post office delivers mail during the month of February. My version (because I rarely follow directions) was to just write a whole lotta letters.
I think the total for the official challenge would have been 23 letters. (factoring no mail on Sunday or holidays) I came in at having mailed 17. There were spurts of no letters for days, then days I’d write 3 letters in a row.
It got harder the last half of the month when my final challenge started (see below) because I like the ritual of sitting down with a box of stationary and stickers and writing more when there’s a glass of wine to go with it.
In any case, writing all those letters was fun. It got me thinking about people I appreciate them and it gave me a chance to tell them why~ plus there were stickers. And who doesn't love stickers?
I also know it brought smiles to some faces.
I didn’t get in all the letters I planned and still have a few more people I want to write to~ so maybe I’ll get to it this month. Or this year, anyway.
My next challenge was the Treat Yo Self Challenge to do Yoga every day with Adriene, and I actually hit a lotta days. The timing was good because my Boy Child’s basketball playoffs were keeping me from my usual twice a week yoga class, so this gave me a back up.
And my SweetHeart agreed to (mostly) do it with me.
I was a little slackerish when I went on a solo business trip and only actually participated for about ½ the time the videos played. I definitely am better at completion when I have an accountability partner on a mat next to me to give me the stink eye if I leave to go get cookies.
Anyhoo, I got in some sort of yoga almost every day, and I know my body appreciated the movement, especially with how wintery it was outside, and I consider it a success.
My final and most difficult challenge was the start of Lent, in which I decided to give up alcohol for what I thought was the 40 days before Easter. While I’ve never been Catholic, I’ve been doing some version of Lent more years than not for the last 30 or so years~ and this whole time I never added up the days.
Well, last night I was looking at my calendar when I decided to see how many days I had done, and how many I had left~ and it didn’t add up!!!
There are actually 46 days between Ash Wednesday and Easter Sunday!
I had another freaking 6 days on there that I wasn’t even giving myself credit for!!!!!
Because it was too late to call the friend who introduced me to the concept of Lent when we were kids, I went to the interweb to see if I could figure out what in the heck I had been thinking with this 40 day idea for all these years.
I didn’t have to go far to find all sorts of confusion. It seems some people don’t count the Sundays in that time frame because each of those is considered a “mini Easter.” I’m not sure if that means it’s a cheat day or what?
Perhaps coincidentally, I had almost given myself a cheat day last Sunday when I was tired and had just started my cycle and giving myself comfort items, and I thought, “You know what would make this LaCroix a lot tastier? Some good dark rum and a slice of lime, that’s what….”
I hemmed and hawed about whether it was actually cheating since I was kind of making up how my own rules about how and what it meant to me, but in the end, it got late and I ended up staying rum free.
(I maintain my statement about the LaCroix though)
Anyhoo, while trying to figure out the “real deal” on Lent, I also learned that there’s even discrepancy in regards to what day it ends.
I always kinda went with sundown on the Saturday night before Easter Sun, but some people go as early as the Thursday before Easter (which is called Maundy Supper and commemorates when Jesus ate the Last Supper with his friends)
Apparently, there’s all kinds of wiggle room here, even amongst “official” peeps.
I haven’t decided yet what this means for me, but in any case, I have already gone 3 weeks with all the wine and rum in the house staying in the cabinet and not going into my body.
Maybe my kidneys are happier? I don’t know.
And not that I’m all that concerned, but I had kinda hoped I might have started to shed some of my winter coat of padding. But nope. Perhaps all the chocolate I keep shoving in my face is hindering that.
In any case, this has been enough of challenging myself for awhile. I’m still on Lent (for now) and that is plenty. I’ll still be trying to move my body and connect with people I care about whenever I can, but I’m not setting goals or keeping track~ just enjoying, which really is the whole point.
How about you? Any self imposed challenges you’re up to these days? Let me know how it’s going in the comments below. And wish me luck with the next couple of weeks.
Let’s just start with the fact that I have a long history of being a cynic, especially when it came to things like Love and Romance.
These were usually topics that incited eye rolling in the least, if not actual gagging sounds coming out of me. Not in the way of an 8 year old boy who spotted someone kissing, but more like a person who has seen enough of the ugly side of humanity to have formed some skeptical opinions.
However, life has also shown me some surprises, and one thing I know for sure is that the world needs More Love.
Which is why last week, I had started to share my favorite Love Story~ How I Met My SweetHeart.
As I started to type, I realized the story really started before then, and I got detoured talking about Being Alone.
It was an important detour, I think, because I don’t know that my story would have turned out the way it has if I hadn’t taken it.
But now, I’ll get to the point~ on to My Love Story~
In the year and a half since my husband of 19 years had left, I’d worked hard on my home, my career, my family and myself.
I’d bought myself a car that didn’t have parts held on with duct tape or jewelry wire.
I’d secured several flexible work gigs so I knew that my kids and I would eat, and I could still be around to be involved in their homeschooling and lives.
The kids and I had fixed up and painted our hideously ugly prison grey home and made it a colorful “Luscious Mango Love Shack”
I had settled in my single mama~ness, and had done a whole lotta thinking, learning, growing and figuring out around My Life, My Way. It wasn’t easy flying solo, but I was happy with where we were and where we were going.
Somewhere in that time, I decided to take my kids to a HomeSchool Conference. Of all the places in the world I would have imagined meeting a man who would change my life, that would not have been on the list,
But that is exactly where I met My SweetHeart. Not at a bar, or through an online dating site. But at a HomeSchool Conference.
It’s ridiculous and hilarious because it isn’t a place any rational person would go looking for love.
But that’s the thing. I wasn’t looking.
I was just going someplace that seemed like it would be fun for my kids and me, which is probably why it worked out in the long run.
It was a last minute decision, but my kids wanted to see their friends, and I knew there would be cool people and activities and things that we would all enjoy. We’d been working hard, and we needed fun.
There were issues with logistics~ the hotel was full and the tickets were out of my budget. But, that didn’t stop us.
I believe in finding creative ways to make stuff happen, so we volunteered in exchange for our admission and arranged to stay with a friend who lived a half hour away.
Sadly, not staying onsite meant that there would be no margaritas for me, even though it was still 12 million degrees at 8 PM and I was tired and thirsty and could have used one~ Plus, all my friends were having them and they looked and sounded so yummy.
Later, I would come to appreciate the fact that my mind was completely free of any outside intoxicants to make things look rosier than they really were.
But to be honest, at the time, I was a little bummed and lamenting my inability to indulge.
On the first evening of the conference, my kids were heading to a teen dance when a woman I didn’t know passed me in the hall and said in a low voice, “Underground Mom’s Dance~ room 302”
The ladies in this group are mostly not the denim jumper wearing homeschool moms who speak in hushed tones. They are an eclectic and wild bunch, just like their offspring, which is why we fit in there.
Within a short time, several other people mentioned this “Underground Mom’s Dance”, and it sounded like where all the cool parents would be. So I headed that way and quickly found a friend I already knew.
Even without any margaritas, the 80’s rock blaring from the speakers got the best of me, and I had to hit the dance floor. I remember that while twirling and whirling like a madwoman, out of the corner of my eye, I saw a handsome man in a hat sitting on the sidelines.
I assumed the only reason a dad would be at a homeschool conference was because his wife drug him there, and thought something along the lines of “Aww, How sweet that he comes and hangs out here”
I danced on, margarita free and therefore fully aware of how dorky my dance moves were but not caring in the least. My friend and I had a blast into the wee hours when I drove my kids back to our lodging.
The next day, back at the conference, I came across the same friend, and she just so happened to be talking to that cute man in the hat who I learned she had known for some time.
It’s probably a good thing I didn’t realize that he was single yet because he was really cute, after all, and I probably would have been nervous and uncomfortable and acted all awkward and weird.
Or maybe I would have just run away and never talked to them at all. Who knows? It had been a looooooooooooong time since I’d ever even considered such things.
But since I had no idea, I was free to be my goofy arse self, without even any consideration to what he thought of me or my loud voice, or my maniacal witch laugh, or the crumbs on my shirt, or even my crazy dance moves.
And that there is another key thing in why it worked out.
I was able to just be myself.
I went up to say hi to my friend, who introduced me. The man was friendly and kind and funny and we all chit chatted and laughed comfortably.
Over the next few days we kept running into each other and friendly hellos turned into talking.
It turned out that we had several mutual friends, and our kids ran in the same circles. I had been to several campouts in the last year with this homeschool group, and he happened to have been to the ones that I missed.
We both shared a lot of experiences, and eventually we learned that those included the ending of our long term marriages. He had 4 kids (which I always feel the need to follow up with the fact that they’re all from the same woman and marriage~ he’s not just a Baby Daddy)
He knew a lot about birth and educational philosophies that I don’t often hear men talking about. He was an artist and had good taste in food and music.
He had been so easy to talk to, that by the time I realized he was single, he already felt like he was someone who would wind up my friend anyway.
One afternoon, I went to a workshop on East Coast Swing Dancing, but upon arrival, I saw that the female to male ratio was about 12 to 1. I knew there was going to be a shortage of partners when a lone teenaged boy opened the door and was swarmed by a dozen girls.
But, I wanted to dance.
So, I sent a message to the only adult guy I knew on the premises. The cute guy in the hat.
He was there in about 3 seconds, smiling, ready and willing to be my partner. I learned later that he never dances~ like never ever.
But he showed up and danced that day. And he’s shown up and gone along with plenty more of my schemes, dancing and otherwise since.
In the class, he learned that I’m not very good at following, and that I kind of tend to go rogue freestyle. Later, he would learn that this tendency extends beyond the dance floor for me.
I don’t don’t know if it’s because we were really awful at East Coast Swingdancing, or because we were some of the only adults in the room, but the teacher kept using us as an example of what NOT to do. It was both mortifying and slightly annoying to have repeated, although polite, suggestions from an instructor to reign in my Big Moves, but we persevered.
While trying to concentrate on counting steps and following directions and not dying of embarrassment because the teacher kept pointing out our errors, I noticed that my dance partner was making an awful lot of eye contact.
As in He Was Looking Right At Me.
And that’s when I began to catch on to the fact that he was interested in me.
Sure enough, I panicked and turned into a nervous wreck. My eyeballs got big and suddenly looked everywhere in the room except his face. I was twitchy Mc~twitching and tripping over my own feet even though I was completely sober ~ the whole shebang.
At least that’s how I remember it.
But he must not have noticed or not seen it that way. Or maybe he just really liked me because he didn’t run either, even though he was dancing with a woman who had suddenly started moving like she might be using meth.
My Girl Child, who happened to be in the same dance class and may be more observant than me might have noticed the interest of my partner before I did. When I looked over at her, I saw her watching like a hawk, making sure nothing was amiss and ready to pluck the eyeballs out if this guy dancing with her mom if she needed to.
Luckily, she didn’t need to.
Later, we shared pizza with a couple of our kids and I could tell by the way his daughter interacted with him that they had an actual relationship. Teenagers aren’t known for pretending that they like their parents, so I was happy to see that he was authentically connected to his kids.
One evening, he was brave although nervous, and looked me in the eye and told me that he liked me.
For the rest of the conference, I wavered between being smitten and being terrified. But even though I was scared, I was also drawn. I didn’t want to run away from him. I wanted to run with him, despite my fears about the whole concept of opening up to a relationship (I mean running in a metaphorical sense of course. We both hate actual running)
Anyhoo, I’m so glad that the connection I felt was stronger than my fear, and we kept spending time together.
We wandered around and talked, listened to live music and ate food. He hung out with me and doodled while I volunteered in the art room and we shared a lot of laughs.
We lived 5 hours apart, so at the end of the conference, we said goodbye for now with a huge hug, because I was still way too freaked out for any kisses.
When I got home, I promptly checked his background on the Megan’s Law website and when he was cleared of being a pedo-creeper, I immediately got a texting plan for my flip phone. (It was 2013 and much of the US already had smartphones at this point, but I didn’t really want or need one until. I had, after all, lived without electricity for 3 years, and didn’t really care about technology. But now, this cute guy was texting me….and I wanted to reply without paying for each individual message)
It turned out that we both had a lot more to say than we wanted to type with our thumbs, and we started writing letters as well.
Actual letters, like the kind you send in the mail.
We asked deep questions about philosophy and beliefs on all sorts of life issues. It was romantic and sweet and thought provoking and awesome.
Since real mail takes days, we also wrote emails in between, checking in daily, pondering and sharing life. In fact, most of our early courtship was through the written word, which was perfect for me.
Our kids would probably also point out that we were on the phone quite often, and I know I lost a lot of sleep to late night talks with him.
While long distance relationships are not easy, I’m really glad that we started that way. It gave us both the time and space to keep working on our individual lives with our kids while we got to know each other better.
The two of us met halfway between our two towns for a few lunch dates, and the chemistry grew.
A few months later, a beach campout came up with our group. Once again, this was perfect. We both had wanted to take our families on this particular trip anyway. We could camp separately, but next to each other so everyone could have space. Our kids would have their own mutual and individual friends there, so it wouldn’t just be an awkward forced hang out for them.
With the ocean, campfires, good food and great people, everyone had a fun time. I even brought my dogs and they liked him. Since I consider dogs to be good judges of character, this was important.
One night at dinner, his youngest daughter, who was 7 and very much attached to her daddy at the time, both metaphorically and literally, out of the blue scooted over her own plate at the table and made a place for me next to her dad. That was huge.
The whole thing went great and I may have had a deluded idea that this merging of people and lives would just always be easy.
Well, it may not be surprising that it wasn’t always that easy (duh, I know~ I can be silly sometimes) but it has been very much worth it.
From there, we spent nearly another 2 years being together, but living 5 hours apart. We had lots of wonderful times both with our kids and just the 2 of us.
We kept growing on our own and supported each other through all sorts of hard life changes~ like changing jobs, moving and unpleasant custody proceedings.
At one point, when cleaning out my desk in prep for a move, I came across a piece of paper that I had absolutely no memory of writing. Since it was in my handwriting, and my words, it must have come from me.
The paper contained scribblings pondering what a True Partnership looked like, and a list of the things I wanted in a partner / partnership in life. It was made up of things like character traits and feelings I wanted to have.
I must have made it in the time shortly before I Met My SweetHeart, when I had started to open my mind and heart to the concept of not just doing life forever alone.
My heart and smile both grew huge as I read through it because the man I met when I wasn’t even looking came straight from the Homeschool Conference with all but two of the items on the list (and both of those have since swung my way)
About two years in, and after already helping me move twice, My SweetHeart relocated to live near and with me. And I’m so glad he did.
I’ve learned more about Love in the past 4 ½ years than I had in my 40+ before then.
And somewhere along the line, I stopped being such a skeptic because now I know that Real, Grown Up Love is a thing~ the kind that requires Communication and results in an Actual Partnership~ and it’s pretty freaking awesome.
So, that’s the long winded story of How I Met My SweetHeart. If you’re still reading, God Bless You! Please leave a comment and tell me what you think.
And it would really make a difference if you share on Facebook, too.
Hope you enjoyed~
Since it’s the month when we celebrate Love, I want to keep rolling with the theme, and share one of my favorite love stories. Mine.
Sometimes people ask when and how I met my SweetHeart, and I love telling them it was at a Homeschool Conference. It’s absurd, hilarious and ridiculously dorky and mostly, it’s just not where singles would ever go to meet.
But we met, probably because neither of us was looking for it. We were just trying to take our kids someplace positive that would make them happy, but we ended up with a great relationship, and a good story out of the deal as well.
But just as important as how we met and the story of Us is the story of what happened before~
the story of being alone.
For reference, my SweetHeart and I had both been married young, and for most of our adult lives, and we had both had our lives change drastically when our marriages ended. The only story that is mine to tell is my own, so that’s what I’m sharing here.
My ex husband had been gone for nearly a year and a half when a friend casually asked me if I was thinking about meeting someone new.
My reaction was something along the lines of screaming “AAAAAACCCKKKKK! Good God, NOOOOOOOOOOO!” and accompanied by wide eyed panic, full body recoils, hair pulling and gnashing of teeth.
Frankly, the idea of dating after my divorce was one of the most unpleasant and terrifying ideas ever to be proposed to me.
Maybe I’m being a little dramatic, but I had gotten married at 21, and hadn’t “dated” since I was 19 years old.
Ninefriggenteen~ the peak of youngness.
In a word, dating sounded awful.
Dating would involve trying to dress up and look nice and acting as though I was charming.
It would mean being on my best behavior and not spilling food on my shirt and making sure there were no beans in my teeth and…. basically a whole lotta work in an effort to impress people.
By this point I was beyond 40. That’s a lotta years where time, childbirth and gravity had done their thing~ not to mention the way life itself squelches youthful optimism and naivete.
It’s not that I was particularly unhappy with my aging self or my life~ but I was (and still am) a bit "Quirky" and can be rough around the edges. I guess I'm an acquired taste, and I really had no interest in being judged or trying to woo anyone into liking me.
I have zero poker face, and I was quite sure that even if I did go on a date, there was no way I could manage a neutral expression, let alone a pleasant one, for the entire time. The freaking out fest in my mind would surely be showing with bug eyes and flared nostrils, which would most likely frighten anyone who wasn’t a complete weirdo.
And then I’d be stuck on a date with a weirdo~ and not even the good kind.
No. Just no. The whole thing made me want to vomit.
I brushed away my friend’s ridiculous idea and went on with my day.
But later, after my initial nausea and flailing wore off, I had some time to ponder the idea. I realized that while it was true that I did not feel in the least bit ready to date then because I was quite happily figuring out life on my own, I also knew that I probably didn’t want to spend the rest of my life alone.
I had my awesome offspring, but they are kids after all. They are meant to grow and live their own lives.
I had some great friends and a wonderful community, but at some point, additional companionship might be nice.
Here’s where I realized what I think was one of the most important concepts of my life~
The timeframe I was in at that moment did not equate the rest of my life.
It was a season of being alone, not a lifetime commitment.
I actually wanted and needed to go through that process Alone and figure out MySelf before I got tangled up in anything or anyone else.
For me, the alone season was both important and awesome.
Life as a single mom was not always easy. Actually, it could be really hard, but I was learning a lot, and I was really happier than I had been in a long, looooooooong time.
I really didn’t feel lacking or like anything was missing. I liked taking care of my own things the way I wanted and being the head of household. I liked getting to know myself better.
I felt stronger and more competent than ever.
Without consciously realizing it, I was learning that I was whole.
All by MySelf.
I think people get afraid of being alone, but it can be a very good place. It certainly was for me at that time.
I can’t emphasize enough how happy I am that I had that time Solo.
Wrangling my own big life changes on was a huge undertaking, but it was also majorly empowering for me and my kids.
I came out of it knowing that all by my Big Girl Self, I could not only be OK, but I could kick arse.
Fast forward to a month or two later, when the same friend asked me again about my thoughts on dating. My initial thought was “Uggghhh….not this again…”
While I still wasn’t ready, I also wasn’t as violently opposed as I had been a couple of months earlier. My body didn’t start heaving violently and I didn’t go into panic mode like I had before.
Being the type who tends to overanalyze and overthink things, I began to ponder about what it really was that I wanted out of life~ as in the big scheme of things.
In the wonderful way that the universe works, right about that time, an email from Jodi Chapman popped into my inbox about a course that she and her partner Dan Teck had created on soulful love.
Now, truth be told, I come from a long line of skeptics and have rolled my eyeballs at romantic stories for as long as I can remember. Even as a young child, I could never stand the dumb girl who needs someone to save the day.
As an adult, I just feel sad for the lonely hearts and empty lives just waiting to be completed by some outside source because they aren’t OK with themselves.
I didn’t believe in or want any of that pathetic Disney nonsense.
So, even though my initial reaction was “Oh Blehhhhck,” the words “Soulful Love” did sound different~ like a spiritual connection that began within.
I knew that if and when I ever got involved again, that was what it should feel like. A connection of Souls.
This led me to all sorts of pondering as to what I thought a good relationship looked like, analyzing the good and bad about my deceased marriage, including my own role in it.
That was actually really helpful to look at my Own Self, not in a bashing way, but just to figure out what might work better and how I could be the kind of partner I wanted to be.
That was new right there~ the concept of being actual partners.
Maybe because I was older and wiser than I used to be, I could analyze all this and not feel bad about it because it wasn’t like I wanted to go back.
I was happier than I had been in a long time, and I knew there was no point in blaming anyone because we were all doing the best we could, and in the end, we were just pointing in very different directions.
I think after a divorce, there’s an easy tendency to just point out all the sucky things your ex did, which might or might not be valid, but it isn’t helpful in creating a better and different future for yourself.
If you’re done with them, let that shizzle go.
Besides, chances are, most of us have our own share of “stuff” and you could make more of an impact by looking inward than pointing a finger outward.
I could see that I didn’t want to recreate that scene again, and that the only person I could do anything about was myself.
So, I thought about the kind of person I wanted to be, and while I may not exactly have mastered it, (ok, not even close) at least I became aware. And I started to try.
Somewhere along the timeline of being alone, I started to appreciate myself, my efforts and my abilities.
I began to have compassion for myself and others (generally young children and animals got all my “niceness” and as far as I was concerned, adults could just suck it up and shut up about it.)
I started to let go of a lot of blame and shame and began to open my heart to the concept of Love.
Still not Disney love~ prince charming can go rescue his own sorry self.
But Real Love. Like Velveteen Rabbit kind.
And not just for someone else, like from me to my kids.
But for me.
And not just from someone else either. But to myself, from myself.
And I think that’s when I was ready.
It must be, because that's when I found what I didn't know I had been looking for.
This has been long enough for now, so if you’re still reading Thank You!
Next time, I’ll continue with the story of How I Met My SweetHeart.
If you liked, this, please, please, please go “Like” it on Facebook and share it with a friend.
Until next time, I hope there is all kinds of Love in your life now, starting with You!
I woke up on this Fat Tuesday feeling ironically bloated and overly full in the gut even before I opened my eyes.
This was probably because my SweetHeart had opened the bag full of “Valentine’s Day Week” treats late the night before when I mentioned craving Cheez Its. (I know, I know... they’re not even a real food, and honestly, it’s not something I eat regularly. But for some reason, that salty fake orange cheez with a Z flavor was sounding good.)
The snacks My Love had procured were MUCH better and contained real food ingredients~ basically a bag full of Trader Joe’s Chocolatey Goodness. Not exactly healthy, but tasty and not artificial either.
I immediately lasered in on the Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee and began gorging, “Nom, Nom, Nom” noises and all.
Since it was probably 11 PM when I was stuffing my boca with sweet treats, it’s not exactly a mystery why my belly was feeling so very maxed out beyond its’ designed capacity when I woke.
Willpower is not exactly my specialty, especially when there’s a bag of good, dark, chocolate within reach.
And willpower is sort of what will be needed to get through the next 40 days.
Tomorrow is the start of Lent~ and a season where I give up something as sort of a spiritual growth exercise.
I always feel the need to mention that I’m not Catholic, and not sure what the official rules are surrounding Lent. I only have my version, that I’ve been doing more years than not since high school. It’s a personal thing for me~ sort of a cleansing and connection to my higher power and spirituality.
Some people like to focus on the bleak lack and sacrifice around the sean, but I’m just cleaning up my act.
In the past, I’ve given up tangible things like chocolate, coffee and meat, as well as conceptual things like smack talk and being bitter (which are way harder if you’re wondering)
This year, it will not be chocolate that I’m giving up, so it’s not like there was any actual rush for me to eat all that candy~ except I didn’t want to share with the children. I was just overindulging greedily.
No, this year, I’ll be saying goodbye to alcohol. From Valentine’s Day until Easter, it’s gonna be a dry 40 days for this lady, or at least that’s the plan.
I made a long list of pros and cons of this choice, because overanalyzing is how I roll. To be honest, the pros list of taking a break from drinking was the only long part and it was full of stuff about overall health, body weight and mental presence. On and on it went.
The cons side pretty much had 1 thing: I like it.
I tried to elaborate with “it’s tasty and relaxing” but I knew that I was making stuff up and I should just accept that it was the right choice for this year.
It’s never easy giving up something you like, but that’s kind of the point of the whole thing. Consciously taking a break in the spirit of reverence.
I think my kidneys will thank me, and probably the rest of my body as well. And my wallet, too.
Since I’ll be spending the evening of Fat Tuesday at a Christian Homeschoolers Basketball Game, I don’t think it’s going to exactly be a last night of whooping it up for me before the oncoming drought. My opened bottle of wine will probably get made into sauce or frozen wine cubes for some future post Easter concoction.
Until then, at least I have my bag of sweets to console myself. Wish me luck~ Here’s to better health.
It's Valentine's Day week and every year as the stores overflow with heart-shaped boxes of candy and the jewelers try to convince us to show our love with their trinkets, I find myself smiling at the ridiculous twists and turns this holiday has had in my life.
Today, I want to share a perennial favorite story of a Valentine's Day far in the past.
It's the tale of a silly and broken-hearted (and probably overly and unnecessarily dramatic) young girl and some snooping parents.
I've told it before and I'll surely tell it again because it always makes me laugh. And I hope it makes you laugh too.
This year, I'm also in the middle of the month of writing a Whole Lotta Letters, and as I was writing to the very same dear old friend in this story, I couldn't help remembering how letters used to be a normal part of our communication and how much trouble they got us in. It also made me glad that we came of age of more reason before the internet was a thing.
For now, here's the story of a sad misunderstanding about VDs.
Once upon a time there was a naive little girl who fell for a boy. Looking back, the girl has no idea what on earth she saw in this particular boy~ perhaps it was his fast car, or his awesome rock band t-shirts. Maybe she just thought he was cute, and her silly young heart wanted it to be something more than it was.
The draw to this boy certainly wasn't based on shared conversation or charm or friendship. Whatever it was, it was nothing of substance, but for some reason, she wanted it to be.
Well, the boy broke her heart, and he did it the week before Christmas. After she wailed miserably about the ordeal to her BFF, they eventually laughed that the boy was probably just wanting to get out of buying her a present.
Sure enough, a few days after the holiday, he called her, full of weak attempts at romantic compliments. In hindsight, it was probably not very convincing really, but the silly girl thought she should be looking for love, and so she fell for it. By New Years Eve, he had done some stupid thing, she isn't even sure what anymore, but she spent that night too gabbing with her BFF about the pain of love.
By Valentines Day, she knew the whole thing was a sham, but being young and unsure of herself, she still wanted desperately to feel loved. The hearts and chocolates and cards in every store just reminded her that she wasn't, or at least she didn't think so at the time.
And so, she wrote her BFF a note, because that's what school girls did in the days before texting. She wrote on paper of how glad she was that VD was over, how painful the whole VD had been, and how she would be glad to skip ever experiencing another VD for the rest of her life.
Well, BFFs mom found the note, and read it. Being a paranoid mom of a teen girl, she didn't know that VD was in this case an abbreviation for Valentine's Day. Her concerned maternal mind thought VD stood for.... Venereal Disease. (...insert horrified mom shrieking here...)
The Poor Mother was appalled, not just because she thought her daughter's BFF was running around getting VDs, but because she had imagined this BFF to be such a good girl, (which she actually was) but this VD revelation was squelching her perceptions.
Raised blood pressure a good deal of yelling and a few parental tears followed before an understanding was reached.
(Note to parents of teens: Sometimes you could save yourself from quite a bit of unnecessary stress and worry by simply not snooping.)
In any case, the 2 BFFs laughed and laughed and laughed about the VD incident for years. I don't know that the mother ever found it quite as amusing though.
Well, the girls grew up, first according to the calendar and in regards to the legal sense, but it took a lot longer to grow in any real sense. They both got married far too young, and eventually divorced as well, and they both took turns finding themselves leaning towards the cynical side of the fence in regards to love
Then, that girl who was so relieved to have VD over really did some growing.
She realized that a person needs to love themselves before they can love truly love someone else, and that happiness isn't found in unhappy relationships.
She learned that love isn't a fairy tale, and that she didn't need or want to be rescued or saved, because she had her own back. She became her own BFF and realized how much she loved learning about all that she still had to learn.
She knew from being a mother herself that no matter how pure and strong a love is, relationships still take work, commitment and dedication. Every Day.
She learned that real love is a choice that a person makes, and that a partnership requires both partners be willing and able to do whatever work it takes because they believe it will be worth it.
Eventually she stopped mocking the idea that love could really conquer anything because she realized that while feelings come and go just like mood swings, Real Love is not just an emotion~ it's a verb~ an action word.
And just like in parenting, she knew that the only actions a person is really responsible for are their own, and that doing their best to make those actions loving is the most important thing, and really the only thing, that they can do.
When she looked around, the girl realized she was now a Grown Ass Woman and was full of gratitude for the abundance of beautiful blessings surrounding her life, and she knew without a doubt that those blessings outweighed all the stupid pain in the arse stuff.
And when she finally opened her heart to the possibilities, even more wonderful things came her way.
Happy Valentines Day! I hope your day is filled with love!
If you liked this little story, PLEASE give a like over on Facebook! (It really helps me get found on the mysterious ways of the web)
And I'd love to hear your "VD" stories below! XOXO!
As February approaches and I'm recuperating from my bout with the combination devil illness and super sadness that knocked me on my arse for a chunk of January, I’m prepping myself for a challenge.
Nothing involving physical training or food restriction~ those would be awful and unpleasant, and nobody needs that. And certainly not anything involving filming myself doing something idiotic like eating detergent. (Good grief, what is wrong with the world?)
Instead, I’m gathering my colorful pens and a sheet of Wonder Woman stamps as I get ready for a month of writing letters.
Yes, letters. Like the kind that you mail and are delivered by the postal service, and that nobody writes anymore, except maybe your grandma or your 5 year old niece who doesn’t have a phone yet. The kind that are personal and people are excited to see in their mailbox and unlike texts (or this blog post for that matter) generally use complete sentences and proper grammar.
(Ok, the last part about proper grammar may or may not happen in my letters. But, for some reason, it feels like my writings will be more likely to contain proper English if I write the words with a purple pen than they would if I typed them with my thumbs on a tiny screen. Maybe I'm just old fashioned that way...)
The official challenge is to to try to mail something every day that the post office works this coming month, and it’s actually a thing.
LetterMo started in a public way in 2011 and has taken off to the point where people from all over the world participate. There’s an official group with forums and a Facebook Page and all kinds of connections and support.
I won’t be doing all of that, because all I want to do is write letters. But still, it’s nice that it’s available.
For my version (because why not make your own version that suits you better?) not everything will be mailed, Some of my letters may be hand delivered, and one will be to my future self and will be stuck in the box of Christmas decorations in the attic to be discovered / opened Christmas 2018 (because that’s another thing I like to do, but didn’t get around yet~ so now’s the time...
Anyhoo, at first thought, the idea of adding any challenge of any kind to my life sounded like ridiculousness, but I’m actually liking the idea of this one.
Because it is a conscious way to slow down.
Because it gets my eyeballs off of screens and onto paper.
Because people like getting mail, at least when it isn’t a bill and especially if it has stickers on it, and I like making people smile.
Because it’s a chance to reach out and connect with people that I miss.
I'm not going to be heartbroken if I don't get 24 letters written, because any amount will be more than I would have written otherwise. Besides, it's not like there's a fine or some penalty for not getting it exactly right. I'm going with the philosophy of trying something different from my every day and enjoying the process. Whatever happens will be great.
If you’re interested in a month of writing letters too, go check out LetterMo. Or just get some pens and paper and start writing
Until next time~ Enjoy!
It didn’t seem to matter that I had plans for this weekend. They weren’t big plans, for my SweetHeart had been sick for most of the week, and I was a bit tired myself. But, I did have mini- plans nonetheless~ little things to keep the checkmarks going on the to-do lists of life.
By Friday night though, I knew something was wrong. I didn’t know what exactly, just that things didn’t feel right.
Not only was I unusually fatigued and suspect that I was catching the hideous cold or flu or whatever my SweetHeart had been down with, but there was also this huge and heavy fog of what felt like sadness that seemed to be enveloping the air I was trying to breathe.
I couldn’t name it and I couldn’t explain it, but I could just tell that something was wrong.
Saturday morning came and I felt all around worse.
Physically, every little bit of activity exhausted me. My head and chest were full of mucus and my asthmatic lungs were not impressed. There were random shooting pains throughout my body and my skin felt like the fabric touching it was leaving bruises.
As awful as all of that was, I could chalk it up to the traveling illness. But emotionally, the sadness had become so heavy, and at points there were tears so close to the surface that I was relieved to go in the shower so no one would see me.
The thing is, I’m not a cryer~ like almost never~ not unless a baby or a dog dies or something~ so I couldn’t understand why I would cry over being sick or if that wasn’t it, what the heck was going on.
I accepted the fact that I wouldn’t be altogether mobile for the day, and tried to think of things I could get done from a chair or bed. I’m really good at being super productive in PJs, so I shouldn’t have had any trouble, but even work from bed seemed like too much. Something was telling me that I needed to just stop.
Not just slow down, but altogether stop.
Stopping is not something I do anymore than crying, but since I was in such bad shape, I figured I’d better try.
So, I stopped. I spent the entire day not doing anything productive at all. I didn’t try to create anything or make any plans or check any lists. I sat under a blanket in a chair in the sun for a while and watched my chickens, drinking tea, sniffling and occasionally moaning. I read random passages from books and took a few naps and pondered how very awful I felt.
Around six o’clock in the evening, out of the blue, I realized what day it was.
It was the 22nd anniversary of the day the day my world had actually stopped~ the day my oldest son had died.
Not long after that wave hit me, my SweetHeart got home, came in to check on me and asked how I was doing.
I replied “awful” and, he said “I know” thinking I was referring to the sickness he was just getting over.
But I told him, “No, you don’t know.” because he didn’t. He has never held his baby that he knew wouldn’t grow up, and he has never buried a child.
Because he’s a good listener, he sat while I blabbered random and odd details that sprang to the surface~ about how none of it made sense and about other people’s solemn voices and horrified faces and paintings on the hospital walls~ about days curled up with my dog eating nothing but bites of bagels that friends had sent~ about rain for weeks before the first flower of spring.
In my rambling patchwork of details, I realized something~ that my body had probably known before mind could even entertain the possibility of what had happened.
And it seemed like this weekend my body again seemed to know something before my mind remembered. Maybe that’s why I felt like a blanket of doom was smothering me and I had been on the verge of tears that I couldn’t explain.
It’s funny because in every Breastfeeding class that I’ve taught in the past 12 plus years, I’ve told the expectant mama’s that after they have their babies, if their body tries to tell them to slow down, they should listen, because the body will get their attention one way or another.
Somehow, it came as a surprise to me in this case.
Sometimes the body just knows, well before the mind can understand, and the body will make you listen..
At times, I’m still surprised that I didn’t lose my mind from the whole situation with my son. It wasn’t the kind of thing I even knew could happen to people today, but was like some sad tale from a pioneer story set in the 1800’s.
Only it does still happen. And it did.
To my kid.
He would be 22 years old now and his name is Hans.
So, even though I had another blog post planned for today~ some cheery post about traveling with kids~ I’ll share that at another time because right now this feels more important.
So many things have changed in the years since his death and birth. A lot of people in my life now don’t even know he existed because it’s not really the kind of thing that comes up in everyday conversation.
In the days immediately after his death, one of the harshest things was realizing how the world at large just kept on going like nothing had changed, even though my world had stopped.
Eventually, my world started moving again, but there are times, like this last weekend, when whether I like it or not, I just have to stop.
For whatever reason, no matter where my mind wants to go, my body is making me stop.
My acupuncturist once told me that grief is held in the lungs. She hadn’t known that my Grandmother was dying at the time, only that I was seeking help with asthma. I still don’t really know anything about how all that works, but I was definitely grieving then and my lungs were clearly not working very well either.
And as I’m lying here hacking like an 85 year old smoker and puffing an inhaler, both of those things seem to be true today as well.
So, I’m trying to honor where I’m at with this sickness and to take care of my body, my mind and my heart. I’m listening and stopping.
And I’m remembering.
Hot water streaming down my back with a lathered washcloth full of suds in my hands, I stood and inhaled deeply. As I let the water carry away my worries, the scent of ylang ylang filled my lungs.
That particular floral fragrance is said to be both erotic and narcotic~ I don’t know about all that, but the warm shower at the end of a long day certainly did make me feel warmer and melty-er than I’d been feeling before.
My mind began to wander along rabbit trails of philosophical things ~ abundance and scarcity, faith and safety, fear and anxiety and on to the concept of plenty.
It finally slowed down around there with the question of what makes a good life?
In particular, what would a First Class life look like?
That little seed had been planted by Denise DT of Lucky B. If you’re not familiar with her, she’s a sassy Australian who dives deeply into the concept of money mindset. She doesn’t so much talk budgets and investments, but deals with how thoughts about finances affect people and the life they live.
There’s actually quite a lot to it beyond the woo woo of feelings. I’m not opposed to woo woo, but there’s also actual consequences to the fears and self imposed limitations and expectations we have for ourselves.
On Denise’s suggestion, I sat down to evaluate things in my life, not just actual material things, but relationships, time, everything~ and rated them from Economy Class to First Class (with Premium and Business classes in between.)
It’s an interesting exercise, complete with surprises and I recommend trying some version of it for yourself.
The point isn’t necessarily just about the monetary cost of things, but how YOU personally *feel* about them.
It’s going to vary from person to person, but the main point is that it’s nice to not be surrounded by people and stuff that make you feel poor, victim-y, loser-ish or bad about yourself.
Going through my belongings and life, the rankings were all over the place, but it was really, really comforting to see how many areas I’ve moved up on the scale from where I was feeling a few years ago.
And, it’s been especially wonderful to realize that there are actually some areas in my life that feel legitimately First Class.
Like for real.
Coming from a working class background, it’s a strange and giddy thought to realize that I can actually have First Class things. It’s crazy and makes me smile just to think of it.
I mean, who woulda thought????
First and foremost, having First Class relationships feels HUGE, and is definitely the most important thing for me.
As far as “things,” most of the tangible objects in my life that feel First Class are actually rather small in size.
But, when it comes to impact, they are mighty.
And that was the best part of this whole exercise for me~ noticing those tiny things around me that make my life feel quite nice.
Which brings me back to that delightful shower….
Perhaps the bathroom itself could use some cleaning help, and the razor needed replacing, but the soap I was using~ total luxury.
And I only came to know the loveliness of these products through some accidental lack of organization and a bit of encouragement.
The soap is handmade by a friend who makes wonderful soaps in a little cottage that I was lucky enough to stay in while between houses a few years ago.
I’d never been one to buy something like really nice soaps for myself. I’d buy good quality food for my family, sure. A reliable car, yes. Because those things seem like logical priorities.
But handmade soap seemed like some sort of luxury that just hadn’t entered into my mind as something I’d spend money on for myself.
Back when I had stayed in her cottage, there were awesome little sample bars of soap at every sink, which I loved using. Even though I wouldn’t yet buy them for myself then, I had decided to buy some as holiday gifts, happy to support my friends’ business, especially knowing the products were really nice, and the recipients would feel uber special when they used them.
Well, a few months later, I realized that I actually managed to forget about one gift package altogether because it was buried behind a pile of craftiness until well after the holidays.
When I found it, and debated what to do, my Partner encouraged me, as he always does and said “Treat Yo-self!”
Mostly because I was too lazy to try to deal with mailing it, and explaining my tardiness, I just kept the bar for myself.
Here’s the weird part...I had kind of a hard time actually being the one to mess up the whole big, perfect, beautiful bar by using it for the first time.
I mean, I know it’s soap and you’re supposed to use it, but it was brand new and so pretty and glittery and all decorative and swirly on the top. I hated to get it wet because I knew it would never look the same again.
But I did because I told myself it’s soap and it would be ridiculous not to use it~ like one of those things you read about old ladies who died never having used their wedding china in 50 years of marriage etc.
I have enough other quirky habits and collections my loved ones will have to deal with~ I wasn’t going to be the weird unused soap lady too, so I just stuck it under the water and lathered up.
And I freaking loved it.
It smelled yummy and lathered better than shaving cream and left my skin feeling smooth and soft. I don’t know what a million bucks feels like, but using that soap sure felt delicious.
Luxury comes in surprising places I guess~
With the soap, and far beyond, it’s made a huge difference to look at all the things in my life that feel prosperous. Every single time I think of one and say “Yay~ I can have nice things!” it's like I'm a little kid having some big revelation that brings me a great deal of delight.
It's a feeling worth sharing and spreading, so I encourage you to think about what makes you feel prosperous in your life?
Hopefully you’re not wearing old, stained up undies that would make you embarrassed to change in a public locker room, even though you could just go to the mall and get some new pretty ones.
And more than that, I hope your relationships and the people around you and places you spend your life aren’t making you feel icky and drained.
We all deserve to be happy.
If you think a nice bar of soap might you happy, check out my friend Nicole. Her handmade, all natural, earth friendly bath products are produced in small batches on her beautiful homestead that includes an olive orchard, flower, vegetable and herb gardens, fruit trees, and happy homeschooling kids.
I'd love to hear what makes you all feel prosperous~ so please share in the comments below, and if you enjoyed this, please give Zesty Mom a like and a share on Facebook as well!
Until next time~ Good luck finding first class in your life! Who knows where it might turn up? Mine was in the shower.
Here we are, a week into 2018, and no matter how many advertisements bombard me with “New Year, New You” messages, I have no delusions that a new Pamela is on the way, and no plans of trying to build one either.
Instead, I’m just planning on being nice to the same old me that has been here, showing up for the last 46 years, occasionally late and scattered, but almost always full of big (and possibly crazy) ideas.
I’m telling myself that I’m like a fine wine that gets better with age, but it’s possible that I really just gave all my effs away in my twenties, and I no longer have any to spare.
Either way, I’m pretty happy now with who I am and where I’m at, and I like where I’m going too.
I used to be fearful that contentment would lead to stagnancy, but I no longer think that it necessarily does.
It’s actually a lot more fun to enjoy where you’re at while looking forward to the road ahead, than it is to use dissatisfaction as motivation, that’s for sure.
The other night I was watching my son play high school basketball, and the other team was losing quite badly. They were good sports and trying hard, but they were outmatched, and even though they kept at it, giving it their all, their coach just berated them, no matter what. We watched the kids’ eyes dim and their spirits wilt as they tried to block out the coaches negativity and focus on playing.
I found myself cheering for those kids, even though they were the “other” team. I even had an internal mom moment of wanting to go buy them all cookies or something, and to give that coach a talking to about being so stinking mean, but to avoid mortifying everyone involved, I didn’t.
It was pretty obvious though that the tactics of that angry coach weren’t helping. Unfortunately, he was too caught up in what was wrong to see that he was making it worse.
Sadly, a lot of people talk to themselves the way that coach talks to those kids.
I’ve done it myself and the things is, it never has helped.
It has however led me down roads to stress, anxiety, and rage, all of which are entirely unpleasant states that leave me and everyone in my wake feeling awful, not to mention the scary looks it imprints on my face, complete with angry eyebrows, wrinkled forehead and all.
For the good of myself, and the world around me, I’d rather avoid that if possible.
I’m all over no BS straight talk and working to improve things, but I’m not into having the negative, mean attitude attached to it. I think progress and improvement warrants at least as much, no actually *more* focus than what’s wrong does.
Which is why I’m recognizing all my baby steps and not just tallying my failures.
In doing my 2017 year end review, I was glad to come across many more things that worked well than those that didn’t. There were some mess ups for sure, including a couple of biggish ones and some things that got neglected and forgotten (like this blog...whoopsie) but more so, there were lots and lots of wonderful things that made up an amazing year.
Traveling, teaching, learning, creating and good times with the people I love.
And as I head into 2018, those things that I’m most grateful for are what I’m wanting more of.
And lots more love.
I wish all of those for you too.
So, for 2018, the same old me will be here dreaming and scheming, and growing along the way. I hope you’ll join me!
Happy New Year!
I was afraid to even look at my website to see when the last time I published was.
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Former Goat Herding Chicken Lady and Full Time Mamacita Extraordinaire to an Assortment of Cage Free Kids.