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Category Archives: Adulthood

Come What May

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brene1

To write down your intentions is one thing. To begin to live with intent is quite another.

Starting The Mighty Peach List pushed me to attend Camp Mighty. It was there that I met the most incredible people and told the world my dreams. Suddenly, the dreams-turned-words-on-paper became tangible actions and realities. I had professional portraits taken, traveled to Portland, tasted foie gras for the first time, saw the Christmas tree at Rock Center and had a frozen hot chocolate at Serendipity. I ran a 5K, 10K and a half marathon. I’ve planned to visit London and to hug a gigantic Redwood at Yosemite. I declared my desire to buy a house and start my book.

All this has been heady and empowering. But these are things. Stuff.

The real work appears when you realize that you’ve been living your life and dreams at the will of others, or at least in consideration of their judgment. The real work comes when you finally choose to stop letting THEM decide YOU.

At first, the change happens in small ways. Someone makes an assumption about your feelings, casually dismissing a hurtful remark. Calmly and honestly, you correct them and state your hurt aloud.  And the moment you receive acknowledgement – the moment you’ve shown up to be seen and heard – the moment you get a heartfelt apology and an admission of wrongdoing? That’s when you promptly crumple into an ugly-crying mess.

Because WOW you just put yourself out there, utterly naked emotionally, fully expecting to get your heart stomped on. And instead you were given validation.

The actions snowball. Other difficulties are confronted. Each instance is more awkward and difficult and scary, but you’ve grown to understand that you matter enough to be heard and seen. No more will you sit quietly and let assumptions be made about your heart or your life. Careless people that once would have been silently resented for their thoughtless actions are now admonished aloud for their behavior. Relationships are ended because you realize that if someone cannot make room for you in their lives, then they are not worthy of having your heart.

You learn to stand alone in your skin. To take pride in the person you’ve become and the person you’re still growing to be. You’re able to reflect on the thorny path you took to get here and you’re grateful for each tumble over twisted roots. You start to live with your whole being. You’re able to use this new-found strength to reach out to the one person who never left your heart.

And blessedly, luckily, find love in return.

The possibilities are staggering.

Because in the end, stuff is just stuff. Go seek out the scariest work. Face your biggest fears and don’t be afraid to eat some concrete. Once you set your intention to live for your own happiness and no one else’s, the rewards are significantly greater.  Do the work and be ready for what comes your way. You’ll be amazed.

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. Git you some.

Jugular Exposed

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hands

He missed her. He still cared. He needed the truth.

“I have things I need to say to you. Things that it’s taken me over a year to process and come to terms with. I hope you’ll listen?”

His eyes softened. “Of course I’ll listen.”

She gathered courage she’d never possessed and told him that the person he’d loved was a broken, twisted version of herself. The depression had its claws deep and wouldn’t let go.

She knew she would cause pain, but explained where their relationship turned dark. She held back nothing, spilling the many hurts that had caused her countless hours of lost sleep and miles of self-doubt. Her words held no heat. Only honesty. She was strong enough now to give him that.

The bottom line was that she’d needed him to help navigate the darkness. But instead he’d caused her more pain, deepened the sad. Because she wasn’t good enough at her worst. Not for him. Not for anyone. So she had to leave him, and leave that place. It was the only way to survive.

Pausing there, her heart thumped heavily.  She felt the fear spidering as she waited for an indication that he understood why he’d lost her. What if he said she was dead wrong? What if he didn’t take any ownership of the destruction? She sat there, jugular exposed, swimming in a level of vulnerability she’d never experienced before. Underneath her calm expression she was a frightened child, ready to haul the steel curtain up around her heart.

Finally, he spoke.  “I have no excuses. I wasn’t there for you. All I can say is that I was so blinded by how much I love you that I couldn’t see. I couldn’t see what you needed. I let you down. And for that, I’m so fucking sorry. I’m sorry I made it worse, when all I’ve ever wanted to do was make you happy.”

His hand came across the table to grip hers tightly. She looked down at the joining, feeling the familiarity of his skin and the shape of this union.

I finally got through to him.

Fighting the knot in her throat, she replied softly, “And I didn’t have the capacity at that time to tell you what I needed. I was too far gone. I could only manage one of two extremes: sad and mad. I hated the person I was, but I could barely even hold on at that point. I couldn’t live that life any more, trying so fucking hard to make you happy when I was alone in the dark. It wasn’t fair to either of us.”

Neither heard the bachata song blaring through the speakers. The unspoken was far more deafening.

They searched each other’s faces, wondering what in the world to do now.

Her heart calmed, knowing that no matter what happened between them, she’d finally been brave enough to tell him the truth. She’d broken through to the light.

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing and 100th!!! Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. The crew at YW are not only amazingly talented bloggers who write and writers who blog, they’ve become my friends.  Not friends with benefits, you perv. Just friends. ;)

Sharp Edges

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unfinished

Leaning against the hotel sink to touch up her makeup, she remembered her own sharp inhalation at the sound of his voice when he’d answered her call.  Thank god he couldn’t hear her inwardly curse at her heart for daring to do a slow flip flop after all this time.  After all the work she’d put into getting over him. And now just a few hours after making contact again she had a belly of butterflies wondering how this dinner with him would go.

He picked her up from the hotel, surprising her with his new car but not with his choice of cologne. He wordlessly strode around the car’s rear and grabbed her into a bone-crushing hug. As his scent invaded her thoughts, her legs went a little wobbly. The flood of olfactory memories bowled her over for a brief moment.

Steady…steady, now. God, he smells good. But still. Just keep your shit together, girl.

She recovered from the sensory jolt on the ride to dinner and was relaxed again by the time they’d settled into their wine. It was easy, actually. They’d always been friends as equally as lovers. She told him all that she’d overcome since leaving the North a year and a half ago. All that she’d achieved and accomplished – physically, mentally and emotionally. Sincere pride shone in his eyes as he congratulated her. She returned the same pride as he shared his own growth and experiences.

Wow, I’m impressed. He’s changed so much. 

They caught up on each others’ families and the gossip in their old circle of friends as babies, weddings and all the expected drama were laughed over.

“Love the hair, by the way.”

She looked down at the bold strands draping over her shoulder and smiled. “Really, you do?”

“Yes, I really do. For years you’ve said you wanted to go red. I’m glad you finally did it. It suits you and GOD that dimple still kills me when you smile… but I didn’t just say that… Um. What else? Tell me more.”

She delighted in the flattery, but decided to address the first of the elephants in the room.

“So, were you surprised to hear from me?”

“Stunned, actually. Why now? It’s been over a year.”

“I honestly don’t know. I’d told myself all week leading up to this trip that I wouldn’t reach out to you. But the moment the plane touched down, something told me that I had to. It was such a strong feeling… I can’t really explain it.”

Looking at her intently he said, “Well, I’m glad you listened to that feeling. I’ve missed you.”

Their server arrived to refill their wine glasses then, which gave her a moment to ponder over that single statement.

He had missed her.

Once the Pinot was poured she held her glass up to his and toasted. “To reunions.” They clinked and sipped, gazes locked on one another.

Lowering the glass she asked directly, “If you missed me, then why didn’t you reach out to me at all since our last text? Not a single word. Nothing.”

He cast his eyes downward and said softly, “I thought I’d scared you off. I thought I’d hurt you, so I decided to give you space. To be. To let you heal.” Looking up, he locked eyes with her. “I figured when you were ready, you’d let me know.”

The old her would’ve accepted that without pause. The new her could not.

Screw diplomacy.

She leaned forward and blurted the raw feelings. “Didn’t you stop to think that maybe your silence would have made me feel like you didn’t care? That you were done with me, got what you wanted from me, and tossed me aside?”

His voice heated with passion as he fired back,  “I would never. You know how I feel about you. How I’ve always felt about you. That never changed. It still hasn’t.”

Shocked into silence, she sat there feeling the sharp-edged emotions crackling in the space between them.

So many fucking feelings. Shit.

She didn’t have a choice. She needed to tell him the truth.

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. The crew at YW are not only amazingly talented bloggers who write and writers who blog, they’ve become my friends.  Not friends with benefits, you perv. Just friends. ;)

The Unfinished

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back

Sitting in the lush back seat of the chauffeured car, she stared down at the iPhone in her lap. His name and number stared back at her.

She was there on business for only a few short days and could have easily slid in and out of town without him knowing the difference. After all, it had been over a year since she’d pulled him up on her screen. Over a year since they’d exchanged a final painful goodbye. Yet something indescribable was screaming at her to make contact. It was a pull like the love she’d always had for him – undeniable and annoyingly persistent.

They were together for nearly three years. Everything fell apart. She moved away. And she moved on.

Except she didn’t.

Since the two of them had shattered she had dealt with blind dates, suffered the torment of speed dating, endured the crazies of online dating and had an embarrassingly horrific one night stand. She’d made poor decisions while drinking and tried to force feelings when there were none. She smirked, remembering the tribal-tattooed musclehead. That one had almost resulted in an intervention by her friends. She remembered the men who claimed to love her but left coldly and without explanation. Men that weren’t looking for the same things.  Men who were devilishly handsome but devoid of emotional connection.  Men who amused her but never managed to make her belly-laugh.  Men who could certainly turn her on, but never gave her butterflies. Shorter men, taller men, military men, musicians, men far away and men right around the corner… hell, her friends teased that they needed to create a flowchart to keep her love disasters straight.

All she knew was that she had things to say to this man. There was risk, for sure. Reaching out to him meant facing the possibility that he may be seeing someone else, or be married with kids. She didn’t think he would be, but he could also be completely cold or cruel towards her. Yet even though she was opening myself up to a world of potential hurt, she didn’t care. There was no way she could ever completely be whole again if she didn’t take the opportunity to voice her side.

She wouldn’t live her life as a fraud, having never faced the full extent of love and pain and letting go. She knew it was the unfinished holding her back, preventing her from fully opening her heart to anyone else. Yes. She needed to charge headfirst into this, acknowledging fully the element of danger.

The deep inhale and long exhale had a finality in its weight.

Still glaring at her phone, she thought to herself, “He needs to know how much he hurt me. He needs to know what I’ve gone through since the day I packed my car and drove away in tears. How I’ve changed. How the person he dated for three years was a broken, unhappy version of myself. And he needs to see the strong, vivacious woman that I’ve become since him.” Her heart didn’t leave her any choice.  It was time.

Her finger hovered over his number on the screen. And then it made contact.

The screen filled with his name.

rrriiiiiiingggggg….

rrriiiiiinggggggg…

*click*

“Ohmygod. …….  Hi.”

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This piece is being submitted to the amazing Yeah Write Weekly Challenge grid. If you don’t know Yeah Write, you should. The crew at YW are not only amazingly talented bloggers who write and writers who blog, they’ve become my friends.  Not friends with benefits, you perv. Just friends. 😉

Flexible only applies to me in yoga.

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At Camp Mighty, Maggie told the story of her Life List item to see the sun rise over the Aegean. Once there in Greece, fearlessly about to reach success, she realized that the sun only SET over the Aegean. Her attitude could have been Shitty McGrumpypants, but she chose instead to go with it. It may not have been *exactly* what she wanted, but a slight discrepancy in semantics wasn’t going to derail her enthusiasm. To her, this choice of perspective stood out in her mind as a huge life lesson.

Be rigid only if you want to break.

I am a planner by nature. I have lists for my lists. So when we were told to narrow down our Life List to just five items for 2013, I was all over that shit. I carry them with me everywhere.

house1WM

Yet only a mere 49 days into 2013, and I’m already finding that my top five goals for 2013 may need some tweaking. Not for any huge, earth-shattering reasons… simply for the reason that situations change. Circumstances shift.

One of the main goals I’m speaking of is the purchase of my first house. Some outside influences have swept into my life and are postponing the house hunt until my footing is steady again. This doesn’t mean it won’t happen for me this year. It just means my projected timeline of early Spring is pretty much out the window unless some miracles of miracles happen.

I can choose to kick and scream about it or I can go with it.

Duh. I know what I have to do, because you know what? The curveballs? They’re good for me. They’re making me grow.

The same way all the curveballs of 2011 brought me to Atlanta and into beginning this journey in the first place, these new plot twists are getting me out of my own comfort zone and testing the mindset of the “new me”.

A shift of plans does not equal failure. It doesn’t mean that I won’t reach my goals. It only means that I’ll get them completed a little differently than anticipated.  I know everything will work out for the best, however curvy my path may become.  And I also feel in my heart that these changes are what is best for me in the long run.

Good things are ahead. 🙂

Enough.

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These words hover on my office wall at eye level.   Individually, the words are simple and stark.  Together, the three entities become strength.

EnoughWM

You are enough, all on your own. The emotional abuse toward you is not your fault, nor is it your undoing. You are stronger than this and you are not alone.

You are enough, in your career.  The backhanded, no-grounds firing you endured will not derail your ethics or your integrity. Good things and calmer waters lie ahead.

You are enough, in your skin. We all feel ugly and heavy and unwanted at times. But you are beautiful to so many more than you know.

You are enough, despite your mistakes. We all make them. We should forgive, but also remember to forgive ourselves.

You are enough, as a parent. Though it may feel as if the inane and the routine have beaten you down, your Self is still in there. Let it shine.

You are enough, in every way. Your flaws are not flaws. The person you will find one day will not see them as imperfections, but as what makes you… You.

You are enough, even in your darkest moments. It is not a sickness. The Truth is that without this part of you, you would not be the friend that I adore.

You are enough, in your own choices. Not everyone will agree with the decisions you make. But the decisions are yours to own. Not theirs.

Though a few of these statements are written selfishly, most I wish I could verbalize to people in my life. Some of those people are reading at this very moment. I hope you hear me. If you can’t, may you find at least one way in which you are enough and that you are able to take from these words a little bit of my strength. I am right here with you, feeling ‘less than’ at times, but stubbornly refusing to succumb.

We are enough.
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Linking up with Yeah Write and the lovely community over there. These people are amazing. I am humbled to be a part of such awesomeness.

Valentine’s Day – What’s Your Style?

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Way back in college, I was that girl. The one who threw the “Anti-Valentine’s Day” parties.

The requirements for attendees stated that you must be unattached and if any rogue couples decided to crash the party after their romantic dinner plans, they were unceremoniously shoved back out the door.

My friends and I would decorate the apartment with those horrific paper banners and cupid cutouts, except they’d been marked up with my own slogans. I’d also leave out blank ones and markers for guests to write their own.

“Love bites.”

“Who cares?”

“Nice shoes. (Wanna ___?)”

“Cupid’s an asshole.”

“Eat more chocolate.”

And so on.

I’d play hostess in a sexy head-to-toe black outfit – the taller the boots, the better. Because, duh. What my fellow single co-eds relished the most was having a destination far away from the commercialized, overly vomitous, forced romance of this dreaded day. We’d all suck down cheap beer to forget what the world was trying so hard to remind us of YOU’RE ALONE, blast the music, and dance the pain night away. Good times. Kinda like this.

Fast-forwarding more years than I care to admit, I can say that I’ve experienced some very romantic versions of this holiday as part of a couple. Awwww. Barf. But I’ve also had just as many Bridget Jones moments of face-eating pints of Haagen Dazs Chocolate Chocolate Chip while watching The Biggest Loser in my fat pants.

bridget

Now? I’m just over the whole thing.

You see, I don’t believe in placing sole importance on the actions of a person on a single day. It is the actions of a person every day that matter the most.

Keep the words. Show me instead.

With the right person, I don’t believe it’s necessary to shell out a hundred bucks a head on a four-course prix fixe menu if that’s not your typical style. This girl’s style is that I’d be perfectly content in a pair of ripped jeans, laughing my ass off with someone over a bucket of sloppy bbq ribs and beers. You can keep the satan-created pantyhose, shoes that shred, and overly rich garlic-butter-cream-sauced-poultry/pasta dish that will likely have you running to the restroom in 20 minutes. Who wants that???

I will say that for some, Valentine’s Day is admittedly a nice gesture. It could be a great chance for couples who are stuck in their daily grind of work and/or parenting to reconnect over one special night. But shouldn’t it also just be another day with your honey?

Because the man who treasures your heart, who values you as a person, who wants to do nothing more than make you laugh every single day? He’ll get it. And Valentine’s Day will be just another day that he’s going to continue showing you in his own small ways that he cares. He’s going to do something stupid just to put a smile on your face. He’ll place a surprise kiss on the back of your neck while you’re shoulder-deep in dishes or dirty diapers. And he’ll make you feel like the most beautiful woman on earth, even while your face is covered in barbeque sauce.

Not being fully on board with this holiday doesn’t mean I’ve given up on romance. Not at all. I just think acts of romance should be present in some way that speaks to you every day. It shouldn’t be reserved for just this day.

But that’s just me and maybe I’m crazy. What do you think?

What does Valentine’s Day mean to you? How do you spend it if you’re single? If you have a honey, do you go all fancy-like or stay low key?

bacon

awesome.