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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. 😉

Feelin’ the love!

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I was thoroughly surprised this week to be awarded not one, but TWO bloggy awards!

leibster

One Lovely Blog

First, Kathleen at Michigan Left surprised me with a Liebster award, and then Kristin over at Kristin Has Two Eyes has bestowed upon me the One Lovely Blogger honor!

I have lovingly placed these badges in my sidebar and send mucho love and sloppy kisses to Kathleen and Kristin. Next up, as part of these awards, y’all get to learn some fun facts about Peach. Lucky you. 😉

Kathleen’s questions to her Liebster recipients:

  1. Where would you live if you could pick any place in the world? I want to say Italy, but I haven’t been there yet!
  2. What is your favorite CD and why? I can listen to Mumford & Sons all day, every day. Their words hit me smack in the heart.
  3. Why and when did you start blogging? 2005, for no reason other than I love to write.
  4. Were you a jock or a nerd in high school? Both. Band nerd, academic nerd and soccer player. Overachiever, much?
  5. Who, besides your significant other, knows you better than anyone else? My undergrad college roommate. She and I were born 22 hours apart. We speak without speaking and know each others’ moods/quirks like our own…because they’re the same.
  6. What book most influenced your life? The Agony and the Ecstasy – Michelangelo’s story by Irving Stone.
  7. What is your biggest fear? Failure.
  8. What is your dream profession? Earning a living as a writer. Somehow. Some way.
  9. What attracts you most to someone?  Humor! Make me laugh and you’ll have my heart.
  10. Beatles or Stones? Oh, Beatles.

And 15 random factoids about Peach, for Kristin:

  1. I hate vinegar. Anything vinegar-based, pickled or fermented, no thank you! Ick.
  2. When I was much younger I wanted to be a veterinarian. Even though I am happy today, I still wonder “what if” sometimes. Oh, to give my 18yo self the confidence I have now…
  3. In dating, I’ve found that my height is an effective method of weeding out insecure men.
  4. I have a dimple. Just one.
  5. I have never broken a bone, needed surgery or stayed overnight in the hospital. Knock on ALL OF THE WOODS.
  6. To fall asleep I need total darkness. And I cannot nap during the day, no matter how tired I may be.
  7. I am a classically trained musician, but that is not what I “do” anymore.
  8. A challenge is my biggest motivator. Tell me I can’t do something, so I can prove you wrong.
  9. There lies a mean temper under this sassy and fun demeanor.
  10. My college debt is still bigger than yours. I guarantee it.
  11. My first car was a big ole honkin’ truck.
  12. Sheets with thread counts under 600 need not apply. 1000 is preferable.
  13. I talk in my sleep.
  14. I despise being told that I’m ‘too sensitive’. No, you’re just being an asshole. Don’t invalidate my feelings. (also see #9)
  15. I am hyper-observant. I notice even the smallest of the most inconsequential details. It freaks some people out. 🙂

Thank you again, Kristin and Kathleen! Have a great weekend, everyone.

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.

Snark the Halls

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Being single during the holidays means that it’s the perfect time of year for many, many things to make you feel stabby.  Go grab your peppermint-bark-crusted-salted-caramel-nutella-oreo-chocolate-explosion cookies and sit down with me for a moment.

socksWM

‘Tis the Season of family holiday photo cards arriving in the mail. Oh, yay. The snail-mail arrival of perfect photographic depictions of perfect families and perfect kiddos.  The only thing holding my sanity intact when I open these are that I am close enough to these gorgeous faces that I know a photocard only captures one perfect moment. I’ve seen the meltdowns and diaper explosions, people. I’m onto you. 🙂

‘Tis the Season of being the only single gal at gatherings and neverending “Sooooooo, how’s your love life?!?”s. While I don’t mind sharing my dating shitshow stories in the least, it can also be deflating. If I have to hear “OhmyGAWD, I’m SO glad I don’t have to deal with dating any more.” one more time, someone’s gonna get a bacon-wrapped date where the sun don’t shine.

‘Tis the Season of sappy jewelry commercials that invoke single-girl emotional death spirals. After seeing them, I can’t help but imagine all my coupled-up friends having fireside chocolate and wine and gifting their ladies diamond tennis bracelets… while I’ll be on the couch in my UGA sweats watching Love Actually and eating my feelings in Rolos.

‘Tis the Season of being the last consideration when it comes to family gatherings and travel arrangements. If you have no family of your own, it’s automatically assumed you’ll go with the majority rule. The only way around that is to grow a pair, speak up, and say that you’re doing your own thing this year. Which I did.

‘Tis the Season of FUCK YOU, MISTLETOE. Maybe I should start full-body tackling any single man that walks within 5ft of that make-out malarkey. That might work to score me a date, no?

‘Tis the Season of the bleeding checkbook.  Giving gifts to a single person is easy. One person, one gift. But giving gifts AS a single? We wind up spending double to reciprocate gifts given to us by couples. It hurts the single-income wallet.

But on the other hand… as a single…

‘Tis the Season of not having to haul around a monstrously big tree. A friend of mine we’ll call FreakFlag got stuck playing Catch the Tree while her husband shoved a 7-footer over the rail of their back deck. It was all fun and games until the stump landed directly on her big toe. Gee, that sounds like fun. Yeah, no thanks.  I stuck an inanimate pretty thing on my counter, hung two stockings on my front door, slapped a string of lights over my outside entrance and called it a day.

treeWM

‘Tis the Season of not having to fight with any in-laws over who’s going where this year, how much to spend on each cousin under the age of 13, or any other nonsense that stirs up hurt feelings and drama. Y’all have fun with that. I’ll be over here sexting with the other lonely singles.

‘Tis the Season of baking…but only if I want to.  There are no daycare/school parties requiring cookies and no neighborhood block parties demanding banana/pumpkin bread. And if I do choose to bake, people are all… whoa, look what the single girl did! You’d think I didn’t have opposing thumbs.

‘Tis the Season of not being required to send cards. I will say that I appreciate the friends that remember that I’m alive this time of year, because it is sweet to be included in their address list. But no one seems to mind if single people don’t send cards.  I personally do, but I stick with something funny/snarky. Like this.

cardsWM

‘Tis the Season to gift yourself! So what if no one is giving me bling? See those boots? I want em. Hmm, that Coach bag is gorgeous. It shall be mine. I probably would have spent a ridiculous amount on a significant other, so why not treat myself? More, why let all these sales go to waste??

‘Tis the Season of freedom. Singles can travel! Last year I spent New Year’s Eve in California. This year, New York, are you ready for me?!?!  My friend NotMary is grabbing the chance to take a trip to Haiti, just because she can. Cool, right?

Well hell, y’all.  Overall, I think the goods outweigh the bads. And if the bads are really bad this year?  There’s always alcohol.

Lots and lots of alcohol.

So tell me.  Single or taken, what are the most annoying things about the holidays for YOU?