National Daughter’s Day?

Facebook tells me that today, September 25, is National Daughter’s Day.

And my first reaction was, “Wait – this is a thing? Or is this just a Facebook holiday, kinda like a Hallmark holiday, but completely viral and fake?”

I hate being duped – HATE IT – so of course, I had to look into it so I wouldn’t fall victim to a completely fake guilt trip, the kind where I feel compelled to pour online praise over the existence my one and only precious daughter.

She is pretty awesome, by the way. I am in awe of her confidence, grace, poise, and smarts at age 10. I’m virtually certain I still had to be coached to comb my hair at her age. It might even be fair to say she’s more put together at 10 than I was at 20. But I digress…

Turns out National Daughter’s Day is legitimate. According to the Times of India, there’s actually a holiday designed to commemorate daughters because of cultural stigmas associated with having a daughter instead of a son. Apparently it’s celebrated on the 4th Sunday of September, so I’m off by a couple of days but still.

This whole thing buzzes the bee in my feminist bonnet. I work hard to respect cultural and religious differences but there comes a point where I draw the line. This myth that somehow women and girls are inferior to men and boys is one of the places where I draw it.

Really? It takes men and women to perpetuate the human species. One isn’t more important than the other. We are separate but equal. That’s what feminism is all about, and I’m a proud feminist. My husband is too. He gets it and we’re raising our boys with this in mind.

It makes me incredibly sad that it’s 2018 and there are still places in the world that need to call attention to this. But who am I kidding? It’s 2018 and America has a #metoo movement going on and a national outcry over a Supreme Court nominee who allegedly assaulted a teenage girl when he himself was a teen because, well, he could.

Don’t get me started on the president, either. That would be its own essay. A book, even.


A few years ago I had a new employee, a young woman, on my work team. She was a first generation American who grew up in northeast Ohio in what sounded like a very traditional, patriarchal home. I remember the first day we had snowfall for the winter marcio-marim-660968-unsplashseason and she called me to say she couldn’t make it into work. She was 22 and apparently she hadn’t really ever driven in the snow.

I found that tough to believe but there she was, pleading with me or quite possibly testing me. It was hard to know which, to be honest.

Maybe you don’t know northeast Ohio but it snows here. We’re not too far from Lake Erie, so it can snow a lot. And yet there she was, 22, with a professional job, calling me to explain she couldn’t come to work when nearly 3000-4000 other employees were already on-site.

I had to explain expectations that the first normal snowfall of the year was not a legitimate reason to skip work. I wondered why in the world her family hadn’t already explained something like this to her. Was she messing with me or was she coddled? Was she taught to fend for herself or did she need to be rescued? I tried hard not to think about how her situation presented itself to me, her supervisor, but I couldn’t help but wonder – I mean, jaw agog – how she got to be 22 and relatively helpless.

God help me if I raise my daughter that same way. I mean, at least this young lady was valued and not abandoned by her family. And isn’t that what National Daughter’s Day is trying to reverse? Years of cultural shame and stigma for having a girl?

j-w-675134-unsplashStill, it makes me wonder what good can I do in my little corner of the world when it comes to recognizing the value of the young girls we raise into women. I don’t know that I have all the answers here but we will continue to raise our precious daughter to pursue her education and interests, take full care and responsibility for herself, and to recognize the people and situations that stack the cards for and against her because, of course, that will happen.

The difference is, we’ll be in her corner the entire time, with every step she takes. We will help her thrive.

I wish that for every daughter in the world.

 

Photo credits, in order of appearance: Marcio Marim and j-w on Unsplash.

CrossFit Journal of a Fitness Flunkie

It’s been a rollercoaster of emotion since I started CrossFit July 30 of this year, 8 weeks ago. This self-proclaimed Fitness Flunkie is on her way to becoming…wait for it….a Fitness Phenom!

If you’ve been following me, you know I’ve written a couple of posts about the experience so far – right before my first class (Gym Class Jitters), and then again after the very first week (CrossFit New You Review). But neither of those entries really give you a feel for what the journey has been like so far. My Facebook friends know, though.

Yeah, yeah….I know it’s only been eight weeks. Let me take you along for the ride, courtesy of some posts I made at the time.

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July 30 – Day 1 Under my belt. Please send love and support as I sure as heck need it.

PS – CLEARLY this pic was taken before I did anything, given the complete and total absence of sweat. You know my face would glisten within seconds of hearing the word “burpee”.


August 1 – Day 2 of CrossFit New You Challenge and guess what I discovered? I got this!


August 3 – Day 3, and can I tell you I’m loving CrossFit so far? Got my freak on today with burpees, DASL style (those would be my initials which serendipitously spell “dazzle”) , which, for the uninitiated, isn’t anything all that dazzling but it works for me for now!

Michelle is a total bad a$$ coach, teammate Jessica is a goddess, and this chick right here is a freaking queen for getting through it and Week 1.

I got this.


August 13 – Started Week 3, aka Day 7 of 18, in the CrossFit New You Challenge. Practiced our first Olympic lift today, the Hang Power Clean. My cousin was right about the steep (whoa is it steep!) learning curve but as a group we did pretty good tonight. I gotta work on the hip thrust and the “scarecrow” position which requires a bit more strength from the deltoids than I have but I’m completely envious of my coach’s arms so …. #goals. Worked with a 35# bar which was respectable!

I can’t believe how much fun I’m having. Now I laugh that I once thought this was so radical. It’s actually empowering. I feel strong and it feels like I’m getting stronger each day.

Lost 4.5 pounds in two weeks too. That might be because I’m actually tracking calories and trying to target a certain number. I am usually 200 over every day but clearly it must be less than I had been taking in when I didn’t track at all. So…. #bonus.

Drinking tons more water too. Not quite at my target level but easily doubled or tripled what I had been drinking before.

I ❤️ us: my New You Challenge teammates and coach. CrossFit is easily one of the best things I’ve ever done for myself.


August 15 – Hear ye, hear ye: I hereby declare August 15 “Bada$$ Beast Mode Day” since I killed it morning, afternoon and night.

Ok, normally I don’t go on about this kinda stuff, but today was flat-out awesome and I just have to share!

Morning: presented to our board of directors on our enterprise risk management program which I run. Killed it. Had our VP of strategy tell me that I exuded fantastic executive presence and confidence, in full command of my subject material and at complete ease answering their questions. Flying high after the whole thing was done. 

Afternoon: prepared a presentation for my coworkers intended to be education and my analysis of 60 privacy laws that we are subject to and my recommendation for how we improve our privacy program and consumer marketing as a result of that analysis, all the while protecting the constituents who count on us to do so. Killed it.

Night: today at CrossFit Day #8, I dead lifted 75 pounds roughly 30 times, jumped rope 160 times, ran 400m, and did some bicep/tricep work…forget what they’re called but I was spent when it was done. Another half pound gone. Better than three weeks ago when I wished I was doing something like this, bettering myself and getting stronger. Killed it.

Beast mode. August 15. Carry on.


August 20 – CrossFit Day 10: today was a tough one for me mentally. We didn’t do an enormous amount of cardio but enough. Man, I hate cardio. My lungs feel like they’re no bigger than a zip-lock snack bag. Why is that? Why has it ALWAYS been like that for me? Will it ever improve? Seems like the answer is a flat no.

We did some weight lifting which was challenging but fun. At least I felt like I could do it. I can feel the muscles in my arms getting stronger.

Not gonna lie: today was the first day in three weeks I didn’t want to go. I’m feeling demoralized about it getting harder. And tell me how one day of eating birthday cake magically added five pounds back on my frame overnight? That ticks me off.

Still, I went. And I got through it. We all did. Here’s to another day.


August 24 – I just finished Week 4 of 6 in the CrossFit New You Challenge. 12 workouts in, at this point. As I’ve mentioned in prior posts, I never once considered myself an athlete. I am the furthest thing from it. Kinda like how I’m a creative soul trapped inside of an accountant by education…I have capabilities that go unused on a daily basis.

maria-fernanda-gonzalez-461523-unsplashOne of the most surprising things is how I’ve been remarkably upbeat about attending class. There were two days out of the last four weeks I just didn’t want to do this. Not that bad! I’m basically starting from ground zero but to have only two down days this entire time? Put a notch in the win column.


August 29 – You guys: today was pretty challenging. I don’t even remember my workout time. 32 minutes and some odd seconds? Whatever.

At some point toward the end of the burpees, I started to tear up for the first time in this whole challenge, five+ weeks in. 

Coach Michelle was concerned that I wanted to quit, but that wasn’t it. It was more me thinking about how I WANT THIS SO BAD. I want to be fit and strong and flexible. No more excuses. No more “window shopping wishes”.

It’s so hard right now when your body fights everything you ask of it, but at least I can do it. At least I’m healthy and able enough to give this a go. I finished every bit of this workout today.

Ok, so I modified the box jumps. Sure, my bar work isn’t 100% to form, what with my tiny little hands trying to hold all this body weight upright, but I did it.

#dirty30 #goals #newyouchallenge


September 6 – If you had told 10 yo me that 51 yo me would not only hang from a bar AND pay money to do it, she wouldn’t have believed you. She might have cried.

If you had told 21 yo me that it was a chin-up bar and not one that serves beer, she wouldn’t believe it either. But instead of crying, she’d cheer!


September 10 – 😔 You guys… As you know I’ve been hitting the gym for 6 weeks now. I can tell I’m making progress but I don’t SEE it yet and it’s getting me down. Yes, I know it’s only six weeks. Yes, I know it took nearly 20 years of high stress to put it on as I had no outlet for dealing with endless life changes. Yes, I know I have tons of support on this journey, but I’m feeling so crappy right now.

I’m crazy anxious to see progress, a lot of progress, because um, gym photos of me are not the most flattering thing ever and it looks like those will be posted on a fairly routine basis. 😳 Sure, I could untag myself but you guys see me looking like this every day so what’s the point of that?

Really, I monumentally struggle with my looks when I try to clean up and look nice, but to be all red-faced, sweaty, saggy, and uh….LARGE is not fun. I’m embarrassed by my size. I am really embarrassed. I am trying to channel that anger and embarrassment and disappointment in myself into motivation to change. I just don’t know if I can really pull this off, ya know?

What’s needed is a lifetime of sustained effort, and that’s hard to imagine. I’ve never done this before other than a crash diet thing 20 years ago which was not healthy. And the funny thing is I looked fine back then. Being too fat was simply something one of my many bad boyfriends made me feel at the time, but it’s something I’ve carried with me ever since. Kinda like a dagger stuck in my heart…

This is so hard, and I’m so discouraged, but maybe facing this head on with full transparency is what will help. I don’t know. Just feeling pretty weepy right about now.

But, I’m not quitting… I will not quit! That thought hasn’t crossed my mind, at any point so far. I don’t think it will. I don’t think the past six weeks were a total loss, and I know miracles don’t happen in that short of a period of time. Just uuuugh. I want to fast forward a few weeks, or reverse several years.

Sigh….

I am trying my darnedest to apply the determination that I easily apply to every other part of my life to this.

51 is a tough age. It isn’t going to get easier. Hormones are gonna start wrecking things for me pretty soon (TMI? LOL) It drives me crazy when people complain about how old they are or feel. I don’t ever want to complain about that. I am just grateful I am relatively healthy and can do this. I’m determined to do this even though I’ve never been an athlete.

I truly didn’t expect miracles in just six weeks. Logically I know I’m in a pretty good place. Emotionally? Well…yeah. How I wish I had done this a few years ago but that just wouldn’t have been possible. My kids are relatively self-sufficient only now. This is what I get for having two of my three kids in my 40s…not exactly the plan early on in life but they are my world, and I will do everything in my power to be here when they are young adults.

I love the my gym family. They are a huge blessing at a time when I really need it because it is so hard to be a cheerleader for me! I am wracked with self-doubt, all the time. I don’t have these conversations like that with anyone but my husband, and then he tries to cheer me up but I completely ignore every word he says. For a brief moment years ago, I had my act together, and then it all came apart and I’ve been picking up the pieces ever since. I hate surviving. Thriving is where I like to live but it’s been a long, long time since I knew that feeling. I don’t even remember the number of times I have admitted, “It all comes down to diet and exercise…The answer to *everything*: diet and exercise.” Countless conversations like that! Get the diet and exercise right for the body and suddenly the other things mind and soul will fall into place too. I’ve been trying to slam the “soul” puzzle piece into a place where it just doesn’t fit. And the mind piece of the puzzle? Well, I’ve lost that one. Lol

I do know my insides are thanking me. It kills me: I totally know the intellectual side of the argument for working out but vanity is talking and taking over at the moment.

And to think I have a daughter! I am trying to be a good role model for her. Then again, she’s a bit of a role model for me with her dancing… And I know this whole thing is far more about health versus looks but dang it, I want to look and feel good about myself again.

CrossFit will be a tougher haul when it comes to weight loss, but I am on this journey for health, flexibility, and strength reasons too. The social aspects of CrossFit are a HUGE bonus I didn’t expect at all. I thought it was a decent possibility at this particular gym (it sure looked like people loved it) but it’s over the top awesome.

I do feel good about my ability to stick with it this time…I just need to get over an immediate hump. The first photo where I don’t look like I have for years will be an incredible win. Then again, two people at work said something to me this week, so apparently I’m finally moving the needle.

Nevertheless, my “why” is bigger than physical look alone. I’m impressed with friends who have made changes of their own, taking charge and going after EXACTLY what they want and getting it. They are such a huge inspiration and I thank them for sharing their victories along the way.

No way am I giving up. I’m very fortunate to be relatively healthy such that I can pull this off. Believe me, I know how fortunate I am, even as I think about people I know dealing with cancer or diabetes diagnoses and other very serious health issues.

I am proud I gave this a go as it was THE most radical thing I could think of. Can’t play it safe any longer. Life is too short for that. And yes, I’m getting a lot of “shocked and awed” responses when I mention I started CrossFit. It is pretty radical but it’s also way more doable that I ever imagined. Believe me, if I can do this, anyone can.

I do feel different, and I’ve had a few of the most crazy productive days at work over the last month..tackling stuff that is intricate – complex – and I feel like I’m killing it. It’s been a long time since I felt that way professionally, so I take that as a NSV (non-scale victory).

I try hard not to compare myself with others. I’m a pretty different kinda chick so that isn’t a meaningful comparison, for starters. I have adhered to the belief that I compete with no one but myself, which is why living the way I have up until this has been particularly tough for me. I was better than my current physical condition many yesterdays ago.

September 24 – Today marks eight weeks I’ve been giving this a go. And you know what? The workouts are starting to get easier. I can’t believe it. I threw more weight on the barbell and I don’t think it was enough. I was almost able to get full depth in my back squat! Wha????  

That’s CRAZY. All this in eight, short weeks? While I still can’t do a full-fledged pull-up, I can mimic the motion and I can do 15 at a time with a small break in between. It doesn’t kill my hands either. Am I actually getting stronger? This is absolutely crazy.

I love it. I’m down almost 10 pounds and people at church who only see me once a week are starting to comment on my progress. I appreciate the outpouring of encouragement. And I can’t wait to go back.

bruno-nascimento-149663-unsplashIt’s almost to the point where three days a week isn’t enough for me. I can’t wait for 6am Wednesday morning for my next class.

Wha???? Did I say that? I’m not even a morning person.

#bonus #onmyway #staytuned

 

Photo credits: kettlebell – Maria Fernanda Gonzalez and shoes – Bruno Nascimento on Unsplash.com

 

Dating Advice, aka Love Lessons for My Children

My dating life spanned a whopping 20 years. Not really my preference for it to have bridged an entire generation, but those are the facts. You could make the case that I’d learned a thing or two over the years. Or given the length of it, you could just as easily say I didn’t.

First a little context: I came of age in the mid-80s, a time when the bulk of my peers did their best to postpone adulthood into their late 20s or even their early 30s. Even still, some really great people I know successfully married at a relatively younger age, leaving it to the rest of us to sort maniacally through the pool of remaining available people.

It was fun for a few years, sure. And then it got depressing, fast. Around Year 17, I got used to the idea of being by myself forever. Sure, a companion throughout life would be awesome and having a family was a dream that eluded me, but marrying the wrong guy was not the answer.

Now these many years later, I am married and watching my young kids grow up. They are still at home and not yet in the dating scene, but the oldest is now older than I was when I first fell in love. It seems time for me to collect my thoughts about this subject.

Believe me, I’ve definitely had more than a few facepalm situations with guys over the years but luckily for me I’ve never been a victim of domestic violence. I’ve never been divorced either, nor do I intend to be. But what follows here is not marriage advice. Oh no! I’m not ready to go there yet.

Nope, for now all I’ve got is some dating advice. Maybe it’s a little on the heavy side. Then again, if it was all sunshine and rainbows, it might not have been a 20-year venture! lol So yes, everything I write about below I’ve learned the hard way, and this is what I jotted down over the span of one evening. I’m sure I will add to it over time, too.

To keep things simple, I’ve written it for my daughter but the advice just as easily applies to my sons. And while I often size up a date/boyfriend/love interest, it’s just as easy to flip this advice around and use it to examine one’s own behavior.

tyler-nix-525388-unsplashSo kids? Listen to your mother as follows, in no particular order.

  1. Love, the kind of love that I wish for you, is a verb that transcends all time and place. You will learn this over a significant length of time. It won’t be the first date. It won’t be the 100th. I don’t know when you will discover it, but I hope you do. And when you do, it’s that kind of love that should propel you into marriage.
  2. Love isn’t a 50/50 proposition because nobody knows where the 50 yard line is in the game of life. It moves all the time because your needs and his forever change. Give because you want to. Give because you love him. Give in a way that doesn’t keep score but on the flip side, don’t go broke or be a doormat in the name of love because that’s not love. That’s desperation.
  3. Love most certainly can be a one-way street, and you will find out that’s true when you get your heart broken. It will hurt like hell. But the best kind of love flows like a current between you both. You’ll be able to feel that and will know it’s right.
  4. Learn to love yourself. Very easy to say but perhaps a little harder to do. Nevertheless, know your worth and hold your head high for as long as it takes. I hope it doesn’t take 20 years for you to figure this out on your own but you never know. You may come to doubt yourself over and over again, but don’t think there is something inherently wrong with you. Sure, we all have things to learn and there are ways we can and should grow, and you will. You really don’t need someone else to prove you’re worthy. You simply are. Don’t forget that, ever. You are an amazing, beautiful, wonderful human and you deserve to spend your days with someone just like that in return.
  5. Know what you want out of a date or a relationship. Are you just looking for someone fun or interesting to hang out with on a short-term basis or are you looking for “The One”? Allow this to inform your dating strategy and be up front about your objective with the other person relatively early on. Don’t waste your time with someone who wants the former when you want the latter and don’t feel pressured by someone when it’s vice versa.
  6. Say no as often as you want or need and dump any guy who refuses to respect that the first time you say it.
  7. Figure out what your primary love language is as you will be lonely with someone who doesn’t know how to speak it. If you don’t know what a love language is, read The Five Love Languages by Gary Chapman. It’s a quick but eye-opening read. Understand that some guys simply cannot learn a different love language other than the one they speak. If you care about someone, learn to speak his love language to really connect with him on a deeper level.
  8. Get attuned to a person’s vibration or energy level and recognize whether yours resonates or clashes with it. This applies to friendships too. Notice whether you lift each other up or if your dude routinely makes the mood spiral down. Being blue once in a while is normal but avoid negative energy vampires as if they’re contagious, because they are. It’s futile to think you can fix him.
  9. Frantic guys are often dealing with insecurity and need to keep busy or constantly crack jokes to make you laugh to feel good about themselves. Sure, it can appear admirable or even be fun at first, but over the long haul, it’s exhausting. Again, check your energy level when you’re around this guy.
  10. Dull Dan, not his real name, may be a really nice guy but he lives a ho-hum life that will bore you to tears. If you’re so bored on a date with him that you start eating the candy necklace off another guy’s neck, you might want to take that as a clue he’s not the best guy for you.
  11. You should be able to sit together in comfortable silence for any length of time without it getting weird.
  12. Be bold enough to ask out the best looking person in the room. Don’t worry if he turns out turn out to be gay when you’re not. Maybe you didn’t realize there is a thing called “gay-dar” and you need to turn it on and tune it in. Hopefully the first person you ask out isn’t gay, but if he is, don’t let it knock your confidence levels down a notch or two for a few years.
  13. While we’re on the subject, confidence is a magnet. Project it yourself and seek it out in others. Do not mistake arrogance for confidence. And while we’re at it, giddiness and gushing on your part is understandable when you’re very young but it’s a turnoff when you’re no longer a teen. Compose yourself and keep your dignity intact.
  14. Every once in a while you’ll meet someone who refuses to change his haircut or get rid of his old clothes. He doesn’t see the world changing around him while you do. Move on. He’s not for you.
  15. Dump immediately anyone who insults you. He’ll claim he was just joking but he does it to feel better about himself. It’s not your job to make him feel better about himself.
  16. Breaking up can be hard to do but do it as soon as you know, and do it face to face.
  17. Ever hear the term “failure to launch”? There comes a time in every young adult life to get a job, start earning a living, move out on your own, and generally grow up. Don’t devote so much time helping a lazy boyfriend off the launch pad that you start to neglect what you need to do for yourself.
  18. Trust your gut. It is always, always, always right. You won’t be able to put it into words. You feel it in your gut for a reason.
  19. If you’re ever lucky enough to meet someone with eyes and heart enough to peer into your soul, and he genuinely loves what he sees and vice versa, don’t EVER let him go under any circumstances. You’ve met your soulmate.
  20. If the relationship “looks good on paper” or he meets some basic criteria to be an acceptable mate but you struggle to connect on an intimate, emotional level, let it go. You’re not right for each other. Sure as hell, don’t take three years to figure this out.
  21. Dump whomever doesn’t introduce you to his friends or let you come over to this house within the first month. See his home. See how he lives and with whom. If he doesn’t open up, he’s hiding you or he’s hiding a life – or a wife – he doesn’t want you to know about.
  22. Give a new relationship a three-month trial. If it doesn’t have positive momentum by then, move on and be relentless about it. I don’t care how awesome he may seem. If he can’t figure out how smart, amazing, wonderful, and beautiful you are in three months’ time, he won’t ever figure it out. You want different things. He doesn’t really want YOU.
  23. Dump the possessive, jealous guy who tries to physically control your body or emotionally control your life. He will try to dictate who you are friends with, where you work, what you wear, and where you live. Dump him fast and don’t look back. His insecurities bleed into more than his love life.
  24. Notice whether his secretary at work screens every incoming call from you or if he’s given you his number to dial him directly. You deserve direct access after that trial period, baby.
  25. Pay attention to how your date treats everyone and everything: cashiers, waiters, parents, siblings, friends, children, the elderly, strangers, animals, the environment, property, and possessions (his or others). You want someone who demonstrates consistent kindness and care no matter who or what is the object.
  26. Absolutely talk about sex, religion, money, child-raising, and politics. Every single taboo! He’ll have an opinion on the first thing, for sure. But if he has no opinion on the latter, he may not have a brain, a conscience, or a care in the world. You do. Make sure you’re compatible when it comes to these things. Make sure. Do you want to spend your life going to church alone? Whatever you do, do it together. Do you want to find out years later that greed and “every man for himself” rules his heart? If you believe in God and he thinks it’s hocus pocus, it won’t work out in the long run. And be totally aligned on the subject of whether you will have kids before you jump into marriage. Don’t waste time trying to convince him of your point of view if it’s different. There are compatible men out there. It may take you much longer to find one and you may have to move to find him, but invest in one who is.
  27. Guys who strive for high status come from every kind of background, but they’re not looking for a companion. They’re looking for a trophy. You are worth far more than that.
  28. Pay close attention to weird idiosyncrasies like the fact that he never, ever takes his socks off, constantly slurs his words, shuffles his feet, sprawls and slumps over whenever he sits a chair, doesn’t know how to look someone in the eye and shake their hand upon greeting them, or cannot put his phone down or turn it off, even for a moment. Do you really want to deal with this forever? If it bugs you now, it will bug you always. You can’t fix him. You have to decide whether you can live with it. So if it bugs you now, believe me, you can’t handle living with it.
  29. Understand your own growth game and his. Are you content with life as-is or do you continue to learn and grow at a high pace? Do you like exposure to new places, people, and things? Then you want to be with someone whose growth potential is as high as yours or you may find that you will leave them behind. It’s ok if your growth potential isn’t on hyperdrive, but you want to find someone whose pace matches yours or else you’ll eventually be emotionally, socially, spiritually, or intellectually misaligned.
  30. Dating will introduce you to new things you find you enjoy. However, don’t twist yourself into a knot becoming a brand new person in an effort to be likable. Discover new things and keep doing them because you love it, not because you love him or want him to love you.
  31. Beware the guy who lavishes you with expensive gifts as he thinks you can be bought. He doesn’t care about your soul.
  32. Beware the guy who heaps praise on you, especially early on. He doesn’t know you yet. It’s called flattery, and when he discovers you actually have substance, he’ll go silent and run, because he has none to offer in return.
  33. Beware the guy who gets pissed off when he finds out you make more than he does. He’ll feel threatened and he’ll be pretty angry about it. In reality, he should be happy for you and applaud your success, but if he can’t, he’ll NEVER get over it.
  34. Notice what it takes for him to lose his cool and how bad it gets. You really don’t know a guy until you’ve seen him angry.
  35. When the time is right, go on a trip together. Believe me, you see a whole new side to a person when you’re with them for 24 hours straight. Make sure you enjoy that person because 24 hours is nothing compared to a lifetime.
  36. Honestly ask yourself whether you like his friends. If they all seem like a bunch of jerks, it’s because he fits right in with them when you’re not around. In a similar vein, ask yourself whether you like his family.
  37. If it all starts to go south after three months, dump him. He’s been on his best behavior up until then but he’s reached his limit. His real personality is starting to reveal itself.
  38. Ambition is healthy but there are limits on both ends of the spectrum. What does he want to make of himself? Does he have any goals what is he doing to reach them? Is he willing to sacrifice everything and anything to reach them, including ethics?
  39. Be open-minded about looks, status, education, and age such that you don’t miss the joy of discovering the beauty inherent in all kinds of guys. Be open-minded but know and hold out for whatever really makes your heart sing because the best kind of love fits like a glove.
  40. Avoid the serial playboy. They get their kicks purely from the pursuit. They don’t need a prize. Don’t waste your time or dignity trying to convert them.
  41. Recognize alcoholics and drug addicts and avoid both. Sometimes they are really good at hiding their addiction. You’re not a social worker, unless you ARE a social worker in which case I would tell you to leave work at work.
  42. Avoid at all costs anyone who is overly aggressive, or physically or emotionally abusive. DO NOT GO THERE. You are more precious than he will ever appreciate.
  43. Break up and don’t look back if you fight all of the time. This should be a big, freaking, honking clue!
  44. Don’t waste your youth fixing broken people. Seek to be evenly yoked and help each other soar.
  45. Do not be afraid to go after who you want when you know in your heart it’s the right thing. Don’t be afraid of looking like a fool or disappointing anyone or stepping on someone’s toes. You may get your heart broken big time and you may never fully recover from it but I’m telling you, do not give up your shot at happiness, waiting for the perfect time in the future to tell him how you feel. “If it’s meant to be it will be” is bullshit. Love isn’t just gonna roll before your feet and present itself. You will have to work for it. Sometimes you will have to stick your neck out there and risk it to get what you want. Because if you don’t? You’ll spend years trying to catch lightning in a bottle a second time, only to find it can’t be done. Respect marriage vows but everything else up until then is fair game.
  46. Sexual compatibility is a real thing. Sexual intimacy is absolutely sacred and beautiful. Let love be the foundation of a long-term relationship. Please be a full-fledged adult perfectly capable of taking care of yourself, satisfy yourself first with green lights on all the aforementioned dating advice, and by all means protect yourself, but try before you buy. Wait a really long time before you do because all sales are final. There are no returns.
  47. No matter what: you and he get to choose whether you will be a “we”. Only you know who is right for you. Not me, not your dad, not your friends, not his parents, and certainly not exclusively him. Ideally you choose each other, with no rush. The right love is forever.
  48. Jitters are normal. When in doubt, don’t.
  49. Flowers are nice. So are kisses on the forehead. Then again, I’m a sucker for romance.
  50. Despite what I said earlier, be with someone who makes you laugh with ease and vice versa. Levity helps you get through life together.
  51. It’s not a race, it’s not a contest. It’s ok to call timeout once in a while. You owe loyalty to no one other than yourself until you pledge loyalty to him in marriage.
  52. You’ll know if he’s The One. You won’t have to ask yourself or anyone else for confirmation. You’ll just know.

Love, Mom

Photo credit: Tyler Nix on Unsplash.com

Happy Blogiversary to Me!

rawpixel-574835-unsplashSharing a short little ditty today: September 30 marks my first anniversary of this blog!

I promise, I had no idea what to expect when I started Live Laugh Love Louie. I have known for a long time that I loved and needed to write, and enough friends of mine encouraged me to give this a try, so I did! And now here we are, 1700 visitors later, from 54 countries around the world, and roughly 2700 views including those from 89 followers.

My most popular piece, drawing plenty of attention even a year later, is “What does it mean to be beautifully broken?” I guess it helps when there is a movie on the horizon by that same name! I used more of a third-party voice when I wrote it, but my natural tendency is to speak more from a first person perspective. Maybe I’ll play with third party voice a bit more in the future, since it seems to have resonated so well.

Mostly I will continue to write from the heart about things that mean a great deal to me.

Family is foremost in my life, but I try hard not to talk about my kids and husband very much on here. Their privacy is important to me, and for me to talk about them to complete strangers seems exploitive. I lean more toward shielding them from public viewing, so you won’t hear too many intimate details about them from me.

The same goes for my friends. I may tell stories about them but I will mask who is who to protect their privacy as well.

But as you can see, I love travel and resolutions and planning. I struggle with the remnants of a broken heart, loneliness, religion, politics, and fitness. All of them are ripe for mining.

I’m thinking a lot about my oldest who will be leaving our home for college in a few years and whether we’ve done everything we should to prepare him for those steps. I also think about my daughter and the world she’s growing up in, and how very different her experience already is compared to mine. And I think about my youngest, and the pure joy and innocence he brings into this world, and how precious it is. All three remind me every day to be present and grateful for the gift of today and to find things to laugh and smile about.

So please take a moment and let me know what you’ve liked best so far, whether it’s a topic, tone, or turn of phrase. I’d love to hear from you. And in closing…

Thank you to all of you who showed an interest in my little corner of the internet.

 

 

Photo credit: Rawpixel on Unsplash.com

 

18,615 Days

I’m in the woods today, lounging on the balcony of a log cabin eyeing the sunset and listening to birdsong. So quiet here. A long weekend getaway in Hocking Hills again with my husband and kids to soak up a change of scenery and pace. It’s serene. I’ve learned to embrace it.

Tomorrow’s my birthday. Last year was a milestone – the Big 5-0. I spent years looking forward to it. Relatively speaking this year snuck up on me. The ones ending in 5 and under always do.

Needless to say I am approaching 51 much more quietly this year but then again my birthdays are always like that. No hoopla…no fanfare. Only three birthdays ever came close to that and I wouldn’t characterize them as hoopla.

Yes, my sisters and their families and a couple who are friends of ours and their kids joined us for dinner last year but it was a pretty quiet affair, reserved in a way that is the hallmark of my family growing up. A high school friend threw me a surprise 15th birthday slumber party and my parents hosted a party at our house with more school friends when I turned 16, but that’s it. It felt weird to be the center of attention each time.

Part of me wanted my 50th to be a big, special affair, but honestly? I was afraid no one would come so I didn’t ask a soul. Neither did anyone ask…. so I think I was right on about that hunch.

How did I know? Well, my other milestone birthdays were almost comically bad! I don’t remember 20. I’m pretty sure I had just broken up with my jealous, possessive-type boyfriend. Thank God I had the presence of mind to avoid entering a new decade with that sort of baggage. He was so wrong for me.

21 was a total bust. These days it’s a rite of passage. For me? Nope. My college roommate didn’t drink. It was the holiday weekend so other friends went home to see their families. I decided to ask a drop-dead handsome guy on a 2nd date for my birthday – my Computer Science 101 grad-student instructor from the prior semester – and he was gracious enough to agree to it….BUT…..he turned out to be gay and didn’t have the heart to tell me. It wasn’t immediately obvious but really, I had zero experience asking guys out, so what did I know? I do recall it becoming painfully clear – FACEPALM obvious – during dinner. It was such an epic fail, I didn’t bother asking guys out from then on, despite being relatively confident and feminist. I really began to hate the sheltered way I had grown up! Nothing in life prepared me for the dating scene I encountered…

25 was my first mid-life crisis. I took stock of what in the world was happening with me, who I was spending my time with, where I was living, and how my career was developing. My roommate of many years was an absentee “friend”. The guy I had been dating for a few months was too caught up in his medical studies and professional goals to devote any time to me…plus he eventually made it clear I wasn’t a good enough trophy for him in the long-run. I traveled all of the time for work and was having a hard time meeting people besides those I worked with, and that was a strange office environment of married men managers hitting on single women at the staff level. I was gone all week traveling across the country and then drove two hours home one-way to visit my Dad on the weekends since he was now an older widower. Not a whole lot about that lifestyle was enjoyable or sustainable so I decided to move to Pittsburgh where it was a little easier to visit Dad regularly and start over socially.

30? I don’t even remember what I did or if I spent it with anyone at all. Maybe I blanked it out. My long-term boyfriend had unceremoniously broken up with me a few weeks before, dropping me off on the front porch of my house after our vacation. I didn’t have the guts to ask my girlfriends to go out because I had invested so much of my time in this guy for the prior 18 months….I had kinda neglected the friendships, ya know? I felt like I had deserved to spend 30 alone.

Are you noticing a theme here? I have to chuckle when people think I live this fairy-tale life. Uh, no. Definitely no.

By 40 I was finally married but we had moved around a bit. I don’t remember the birthday itself but I must have spent it with my husband and two kids at the time. We were still relatively new in town, and I was working full-time as a consultant traveling all over the region. Being the mother of small kids, I had no means to develop any deep friendships and I found it really hard to keep up with my old ones. Parenthood – at least the way I approach it – is all consuming. So yeah, I don’t even remember my 40th either.

So 50? It wasn’t a big giant celebration. It wasn’t anything at all like I had always imagined it would be. And if I’m lucky, I get one more big milestone birthday…and who knows who will be there for it? My kids will mostly be off on their own…even the youngest will be off to college for the first time. Maybe just my husband will be there and that will have to be enough. It makes me really sad that the circle I have around me is so small, but it needs to be enough. It’s all I’ve ever really had.


You know how some people dread turning older, and especially the milestone birthdays? Believe it or not, not me. Actually I’m pretty grateful for the years I’ve been given. I don’t know if it was the realization of just how young my mom was when she died at 64 – when I was 20 – or when I was diagnosed with melanoma at 24 or a combination of both. Those who die before me, and there have been a lot of aunts and uncles and now friends in that category, are stark reminders of just how short life really is. Maybe it’s a little melancholy but to be me is to know loss.

My oldest niece turns 38 this year, which blows my mind! I was 13 when she was born and remember it like yesterday. I can tell she is dreading the big #40. I want to hug her so hard and shout: enjoy every second. She’s healthy. She’s surrounded by friends and a beautiful family of her own. She has a lovely home. She works a job she likes. And it’s a privilege to be 40. It hasn’t happened a whole lot yet but the healthy young people around her are going to just start disappearing from this life through no fault of their own. It will simply be their time. Too soon, of course, but you’ll learn soon enough you are not guaranteed even one more day. Embrace 40 with joy.

So even though my actual birthdays have never been a giant celebration of my life, surrounded by family and friends, I still try to embrace life as though that was the case.

And so I greet 51. With joy, with gratitude. With passion and laughter and zaniness and loads of hugs and kisses. With hope and, yes still, with dreams. Dreams of another 50 years of health and vitality if I can help it but you just never know.

I dream I get to watch my kids grow up, discover what jazzes them, and chase their own dreams. I hope I get to watch them fall in love and it be the real thing, to love someone with their entire being and be fiercely loved in return. Everyone deserves that. It’s one of the most sacred things in life and a pure gift from God when it happens. It is a covenant of enormous beauty when it happens.

I dream of a petite, lithe body. To know how it feels to push myself beyond the limits I thought I had and see results on a level I’ve never seen before. To become strong, to know what that feels like physically.

I hope for the day when decency and dignity returns to the White House. I hope that happens sooner than later.

I am excited about the chance to further develop professionally back in technology where I feel most at home. To feel like I’m bringing value in a space that has been neglected for too long. I hope I can stay engaged with this line of work for at least another 10 years if not 13-15. To retirement…which is a CRAZY thing to be thinking about but you know I do!

I can’t wait to pack my bags for our next trips. It is so much fun to travel and explore, take the kids to the places I know and love! We’re thinking of taking the kids back to Utah next summer to see their grandma and then head down to Sedona, the Grand Canyon, and Las Vegas as a side trip while my husband teaches a percussion master class out west. And maybe we’ll head back to Hawaii next year too. We have a place to stay so we should take advantage of it while the five of us are together and can. Pretty soon our oldest will graduate and leave home so we know the years together on vacation are coming to a quick end.

But mostly I just wish I could spend more time with friends of every sort and every age and just laugh. Talk about life, talk about the funny goofy things that happen, joke about our little quirks and idiosyncrasies, and do it again and again. I’ve been slowly reconnecting with old friends this year, as I’ve written about more than a few times in this blog, and opening up more to new ones. I know I’ve neglected those dear old friendships, and I’ve been afraid to start new ones because I am careful to surround myself primarily with people who are kind, passionate, and joyful. People who like to learn and drive themselves to be better and to be silly and laugh because life should be embraced and enjoyed. People who hug and support, encourage and lift up, bake and deliver casseroles, and crack jokes at every opportunity. I want to be that person for others.

These are just some of things I’ve experienced and learned over the last 18,615 days. I know what’s precious. Birthday celebrations are truly just icing on the cake.

Photo credit: Nick Stephenson on Unsplash