Pamela Llano Zesty Mom
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!
Writer, Artist, Empowered Living Advocate, Wanna-be Organic Gardening Foodie, Travel Loving Life Explorer, FunSchooling Facilitator / Former Goat-Herding HeadMistress for our Mostly Happy Homeschool, Semi-Crazy Chicken Lady and Mamacita Extraordinaire to a couple of Cage Free Kids.