Muse Worthy

There have been times when I meet someone and am struck by their charm, personality, and wit. The immediate chemistry that we have. The recognition of that chemistry mirrored in the eyes of my potential counterpart burns an impression into my mind that can take a while to shake. Not that I want to be rid of that impression.

Something about the discovery and experience of this type of chemistry brings about motivation for me. The special significance immediately puts me in a creative headspace — one where I can write for hours. In moments we aren’t together, I find pages pouring out of my fingertips like fresh iced tea on a warm day. It’s refreshing and rewarding because the productivity level is skyrocketing.

The oddity is that the endorphins I may be experiencing don’t completely relate to my characters. My characters don’t start off in some happy place. They’re broken down, being challenged by multiple personal obstacles, not sitting somewhere daydreaming about someone new. They are hurt or grieving or carry within themselves a self-loathing that they must shake to move forward. They try hard to break through the surface, only to be dragged down and submerged again and again.

But maybe this man becomes my muse because it helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel for my characters. It opens the headspace for me where my characters are introduced to some new potential, new opportunity, new love. Where my characters get to see beyond their circumstances and hope.

I don’t think this muse helps me to see the light at the end of the tunnel for myself, however. I’m too cynical to be thinking that this one must be THE one and start mapping out our life together. And, in the majority of my past relationships, one issue was at the root of it all: timing. Something I have no control over, and something I would never want to manipulate for my own benefit.

Either you’re ready, or you’re not. Thus far, they’ve all fallen into the “not ready” category, which creates a bit of a hole each new muse must try to dig his way out of, because I now go into these situations assuming business as usual. They’re not ready, so why invest too much? I know this isn’t exactly an optimistic outlook, but thus far, I haven’t been wrong.

I’m just tired of living for “some day.” I have been patient, and I go over and above, but if I can see things lagging, I tend to err on the side of moving on. I don’t want to wait for some day, and I don’t need that second presence to create my own happiness.

Whomever my special person is, whether it’s this guy or the next, what I need more than anything is his presence. I don’t need a bunch of gifts or items, and I don’t need him to take responsibility for my happiness. I just need his presence and partnership. Love will find its way when it is right. But his love will complement my own, not be a substitute or replacement for what I already produce.

I don’t believe a partner fills a void; rather, I think the most successful relationships emerge when two whole people come together with mutual affection and respect, a willingness to work toward maintaining and improving together, and a level of support to help each other realize their respective aspirations. That would be my ultimate muse.

He’s out there.

Be Still

I’ve been going back and forth with myself over how I’ve let so much time go by; how I’ve allowed everything to get in the way of something I really love: writing.

I’ve been doubting myself a lot. Work, love, family, friends. Writing is in that pile too. I let people get into my head and make me think their opinion mattered more than my own. I fell back from church, and I felt completely isolated, guilty, and stressed to my breaking point.

Slowly, I’ve been building back up. I could have come back faster, but I think it would have been premature. I needed to be still for a little while and pray. To get back to where I need to be with God. To remind myself of who I am in Him. To remind myself that self love is as important, if not more, than loving others.

I am rededicating myself to my craft. To blogging, to the novels. To “me time.” I allowed myself to be robbed long enough.

Playing the Odds

I always find it interesting when people decide to point out how skewed the odds may be, especially when they appear not to be in my favor. It’s like, “hey, this looks really bleak… So how do you feel about it?”

Um, what?

I’m not big on worrying about the odds, whether they’re in my favor or not. If I gave up every time my chances weren’t great, I might as well have just stayed in bed. Why try at all? And this can apply to dating, job opportunities — anything where you’re putting yourself out there and taking a chance.

We face challenges on a daily basis. Sometimes we know we’re in for an uphill battle. Sometimes we know we’ll have smooth sailings. But isn’t life about the journey? Isn’t a part of the point that we will have a story to bear witness to others? If we were to always operate based on the odds, should we just give up when the odds aren’t good? And, if the answer is no, what is the true point in declaring that the odds are unfavorable to others that have to face them? Is it a passive-aggressive thing?

I get the sense that sometimes this is meant as a dose of reality, a “face the facts” sort of alert. But your reality may be different from mine. Just because you think I should be worried doesn’t mean I will be. That’s not really how this works, at least not in my reality.

I’m not going to worry about the odds. There’s always a curveball that can be thrown, and as long as you expect that from life, you’re about as equipped as you can be. I believe in myself, my resilience, and I surely believe in miracles, because I fall short.

Life doesn’t feel a whole lot like risk when you factor in faith. Stay positive, try anyway (regardless of the odds) and see what happens. Maybe you can change the odds.

Building a Sisterhood

The end of June is always a tough month for me and for my family. June 26th this year marked the 11th anniversary of my younger sister’s passing.

Some years are harder than others, and this year has been especially rough because she would have turned 30 years old this fall. I think my family has been hit especially hard this year. I can hear it in my mother’s voice.

I miss her. It’s like the air I breathe is thinner without her. My quality of life is different. My longing for her and the relationship we built grows stronger each year. My wondering what she would be or how she would be now rack my thoughts all the time.

A dear friend of mine pointed out to me last week that I make great efforts to build a strong network of sisters around me, not necessarily just for my own benefit, but to support and encourage each other. I’d never thought of it that way before, but it’s true.

When I feel my lowest, I look to these sisters I’ve found over the years. A few particularly special ones have helped me keep it together when I couldn’t do it on my own; when I didn’t feel I had enough to take care of myself after taking care of my family. They’re who saw me grieve when I couldn’t allow my parents to see; they’re who checked on me and sat with me as I dealt with family complexities.

When I was the one who had to be strong for the family, to be their rock, these sisters made sure they were mine. And, in turn, I make sure that I do everything in my power to take care of them. I don’t look to them to replace my sister that is no longer with me, but I look to them for outlets to provide support, love and encouragement that I can no longer use toward her. It’s still in me, and it has to go somewhere. She would approve.

I think of my accomplishments, and I think of the opportunities I’ve had to be there for people the way that I’ve wanted to be there for my own sister. I hope that she would be proud. I hope that she would smile and laugh, and when I meet her next in heaven, I hope she does a little dance before she throws her arms around me. I can’t wait.

I will continue my efforts and being who I am for her, in her memory. I am nothing if not dedicated to my sisters: my rocks, my inspiration, my advisors and confidants. I had almost 19 years with my own, and I have my entire adulthood to enjoy these new chances at sisterhood. That means everything to me.

Zen Moments

The last few months have been complete craziness.

As much as I want to say I never think about those butterflies I used to feel in the past, I really can’t say it. I don’t know what’s wrong with me, but I’m not over it. I don’t think about it all the time, but once in a while it just hits me. Needless to say, I’ve made every attempt to find other outlets of fascination.

Work has been up and down; the question of relocating has been on my mind, but I’m not completely sold on moving just yet. As more and more work piles up, I’ve tried to quiet the worry in my mind and keep from stressing the little things and the things that are outside of my control.

I’m about to be a godmother… again. This time, I’m not as worried, because it’s my best friend’s son. I can’t wait to meet my little guy. He’s going to be so loved.

I’ve been reading books on meditation, and I already love my yoga. Taking mini moments to reflect and just breathe, when normally I would just blow up at someone, shows that something is working. Every day is a work in progress, a page in this chapter of my life.

If nothing else, I’m more comfortable with me, and I’m more open to whatever may come. Whether I’m reunited with butterflies or go in a completely different direction, I’m open to whatever may come, and I refuse to force the situation or bend to something that runs contrary to what I want or who I am.

One step, one breath, one page, one day at a time. Woosahhhhhh.

New Year, New Opportunity

Are you one of those people that puts everyone ahead of yourself? I am, but I’m finding that to be a blessing and a curse.

I’m one of those people that would give my last to make sure everyone I care about is taken care of, even if it’s to my detriment. I want the people I love to be happy, to have what they need, and to feel like they’re progressing. I always figured that I would take care of me when everyone else was covered.

Slowly, I’ve come to the realization that needs are constant. Everyone always needs SOMEthing. And that’s not a negative, per se. It’s truth. At some point, we have to prioritize these needs, and I had to admit (to myself) that I can’t help you if I’m not helping myself. I can’t provide for you and yours, and subsequently leave myself in a position where I’m not cared for.

More often than not, I’ve found that some of the outreached hands will take and just continue taking, but they never offer anything back. They never reach back to try to lift me up when I’m struggling, nor do they try to provide for me when I’m in need. And I’m not saying everyone is in the same position to give in the same way or to the same magnitude, but you can always give SOMEthing. When you can’t give financially or tangibly, give encouragement, give kindness, give acknowledgement. Give from your heart.

In a nutshell, give a shit about someone other than yourself and your interests.

This year, I’m moving forward with an understanding that I’m not anyone else’s priority, especially if I’m not my own. I need to make sure I’m taken care of BEFORE I try to help everyone else.

BEFORE I give my last, I need to make sure I have a contingency. I can’t save anything for future or for emergency if I give everything away. There’s no rainy day fund. There’s no savings, because I exhausted it trying to help.

I find a joy in cooking and feeding others, but cared little about doing that for myself. About carving out that “me time” or making sure that I was getting what I needed emotionally, physically, spiritually, financially, or intellectually.

This year is my opportunity to begin righting some of those wrongs. And it’s not about regrets, life is about learning and progress.

How will your priorities change in 2014?

Valentine, Schmalentine

I happen to be one of those people that love Valentine’s Day, regardless of my relationship status.

I’m not one of those “love to be in love, but only when I’m with someone” types, who post embittered “Happy Single Awareness Day” photos when I don’t have someone to see when I come home.

Single Awareness

In all honesty, I love any day that’s focused on love.  I don’t care if I’m single; I’m still loved.

So I had two opportunities not to spend this special day by my lonesome, but I chose to avoid both options.  You might call me crazy, but (at least at this point) I value my time too much to waste it with someone that I’m not feeling.  Feel free to tell me your thoughts when you read both scenarios, but I’m telling you, I’m better off cooking a meal, having a glass of wine, and enjoying the next episode of Scandal.

Scenario 1:

So I met this guy, and so far we’d only gone out for coffee.  There were so many things I found fault with that I thought maybe I was just being picky, but I eventually gave in and had to veto this option.  He was younger than me, and though I don’t typically have a problem with age, his age just showed.  He was needy; he constantly sought my approval about everything, fished for compliments like nobody’s business, but kept trying to assure me that he was mature for his age.  I wasn’t buying it, and I let him know that I didn’t feel he and I were on the same page.

Of course, he balked, so sure that the (several year) age difference couldn’t mean he didn’t know what “to do,” but how could he argue with how I felt?  In all honesty, to me, he didn’t come across like a man.  He came across like a kid.  We’d talk, and he’d go off on long tangents that had nothing to do with anything.  Sometimes, he’d text me random song lyrics he was hearing on the radio.  And his grammar made me cringe.  Ridiculous reason not to date someone, perhaps, but please don’t ever let your reaction start with “And so, I be like…”  Um, what IS that??

Youthful characteristics aside, something about his voice made him unattractive to me.  This sounds incredibly nit-picky, but before I even had the thought myself, he told me that he’d been asked before if he was gay because his voice is rather effeminate.  Um… was I supposed to think differently?  It just sort of highlighted the fact that there was no deep, manly, testosterone-dripping voice on the other end of the line.  As a result, there was just no way anything he said in a flirty manner was read as such.

When he asked if he could take me out for dinner and a movie on Valentine’s Day, I debated it for a while.  Although most of my friends, and even my parents, thought I should go for the free meal and movie (who can pass up Die Hard?), I just couldn’t do it.  The worst part about it was that I could have agreed to the movie if I could skip the dinner — that way we wouldn’t have to talk.  Terrible to say, but the honest truth.  In the end I told him that I thought he was really sweet (read into that what you want), but that I didn’t want to take advantage if I wasn’t really interested.

Scenario 2:

I met this guy a few weeks ago, who only randomly texts me.  Mind you, I’m really not holding out any hope for this guy — he doesn’t live in New Orleans — but he said he would be in town and wanted to see if I was available to go out.

Something about his request made me pause.  He was extremely attractive, definitely a man, a couple years older than me.  But still, I just didn’t feel right.  Something I noticed during all the texting (and absent conversation), was that he really never tried to get to know ANYthing about me.  I mean, really?  I know I don’t look brand new, folks, so he can’t possibly think I’m that gullible.  But he did.

When he mentioned wanting to get together, I told him I wanted to get to know him better first.  He agreed, so I asked him a question about himself.  He didn’t bother to answer the question.  Still hasn’t.  But yesterday, he sent me a text to ask if we were on for tonight.  Uh… what?  So I told him that he hadn’t even bothered to answer my question, and I felt that was indicative of his interest level.  I’m not doing Valentine’s Day or weekend trips if you don’t even want to know who you’re dealing with.  He said he’d been busy, but you know that’s BS when 6 days go by and he still has yet to answer one question.

I’m not the chick that has such little confidence or self-respect that I could go there.

* * *

Even with such terrible prospects, I don’t blame Valentine’s Day.  It’s a day, folks.  It’s what you make of it.  If you’re depressed because you’re single on Valentine’s Day, face it — you’re depressed EVERY day.  Love yourself.  Know that, if today were your last, YOU are enough.  If you don’t think so now, why should anyone else?

Love is out there, but don’t sacrifice who you are to try and find it — you’ll find something else completely.   I believe that to be true.  There’s no use in wallowing — your outlook affects what you attract.  You can enjoy Valentine’s Day whether you’re in a relationship or not, so opt for the one that can actually lift your spirits.

Cheers!

Roses

I’ll Call You

This three word phrase is almost as dreadful as the four word phrase “we need to talk.”  Why do people even utter the words?  We all know what it really means, having decoded the line the first time it was used:

They’re not really going to call.

I guess I always wonder what the point is in lying?  Please don’t worry about sparing my feelings — I’d rather you be up front with me.  If you’re not interested, want to pursue other prospects, the timing is wrong, whatever the case may be… just say it.

And when did this whole “let me spare your feelings” thing start?  When did people stop being straight with each other?  Were people EVER straight with each other?  If you’re not really going to call, and you’re never going to see her again, what is the point in trying to let her down easy?  Why try to gently sever the ties, only to risk her calling you anyway to figure out what happened, why you haven’t called?

In all honesty, I think that you earn so much more respect when you can be up front.  No one’s asking you to be lovey dovey here; all I’m saying is don’t say you’re going to do something if you really aren’t going to.  There’s no good that can come from creating an expectation that you have no intention of meeting.  Just let her know what it is and walk.  She won’t break into a million pieces — women are stronger than you think.

Seriously, I would say it to you…

Grow a pair.

Boxing Butterflies

I still have butterflies when I see him.  I can’t help how I feel; my heart just hasn’t been able to catch up with my mind.  I know at this point that it’s best for me to let go and walk away, but when I see him I just can’t.  Who he is, how he is, what he is… I’m still in love with him.  In spite of obvious flaws, shortcomings, and his own demons.  Truly unconditional — something he wasn’t ready to return or face.  How I feel isn’t logical, productive, or even right anymore.  But it IS.

And, in all honesty, I just can’t stop.  I want to, to save myself some hurt, but I can’t.  In my mind, I know I have to let it go, I know that I’m enough and that I can survive without him.  I just want him.  And when he walks into the room, everything I feel comes rushing back like waves, pulling me with the tide.  How he ended things wasn’t right; I deserved better treatment, no doubt.  But I can’t deny what we had, or how quickly I react when he’s in my presence.  I haven’t accepted the entire picture yet, because bringing everything into complete focus means having to address the mistreatment and the immaturity.

But being around him for over a week on a tropical island like Barbados?  Complete torture.  Seeing his ex constantly in his face, obviously still harboring her own feelings?  Killing me slowly, like the death of 1,000 cuts.  Wondering whether he would succumb to her advances because she’s right there in front of him, and we all knew he could get it if he wanted to?  Hell.  Beautiful, tropical island hell with a big cup of rum punch to fuel the flames.

We were civil.  Most days I felt like he was avoiding me, which I understood.  Guilt can do a number on you, and it has certainly been doing a number on him.  We had a heart to heart one day in an attempt to clear the air, and honestly I think that he expects me to make advances to get him back.  He thinks that I will ask him to come back to me, beg him for a reason, or let him into my bed just for a fleeting moment of reminiscence.  Thankfully, though my heart hasn’t caught up with my head, I can salvage enough reason and self-respect to know that I can’t (and won’t) ask him back or open myself up to more hurt.  I may not be ready to completely let go, but I’m not going to beg someone to be with me.  I don’t want to be with anyone who doesn’t want me.  That’s been my saving grace.

It’s sad, but I wish he would give me a reason to hate him.  Maybe he has, and I overlooked because I feel the way I do.  But hating him would make things so much easier, because I wouldn’t struggle against letting go — I just would.

I have everything I need for closure.  I’m almost there.  It’s akin to packing for a move.  I have the box and the tape all set.  But my heart has to let go of these feelings so that I can pack them away.  I’ll always have some feeling for him, but this box needs to go in the garage and stop cluttering up my house.

Time for a little spring cleaning.

Opposite Sides of the Broom

This isn’t even the first or second time that it’s happened.  I just know I don’t like it.  I don’t like feeling like I’ve done something either consciously or subconsciously to attract such a man.  It feels wrong, I’m not the kind of girl who could ignore the big picture, and it makes me wonder how the outside world perceives me for this to happen so often.

He’s married.

Now you may or may not have the right idea about me, especially after my last post, but let me say this:  I have no interest in ruining a marriage, being a homewrecker, breaking up a family, or catching feelings for someone that has sworn vows to someone else.  I might see a married man and think he’s attractive, sure — I’m a flesh and blood woman.  I’m human.  But I’m not going to take it further than a glance.  There could never be more than that.

Last night, I was hit on by a work acquaintance that I’m still getting to know.  I’m still getting to know everyone at my job… I travel so much for work, people barely know me.

Let me give you some background:  I’m genuinely a warm person.  I smile a lot — so much so that if I’m not smiling people think something is wrong.  I love to laugh, and I love the warmth and friendliness of New Orleans because my personality fits here.  It was lost on many in Los Angeles because you can smile and greet someone there, and they’ll look at you like you’re carrying the plague.

Anyway, I’m warm, I’m smiley, and I care.  I want to know the names of the security officers and the cleaning ladies, I want to be able to ask them about their weekends and their families.  I like building a rapport because I don’t like feeling like I work with and around strangers.  It’s just a part of the fabric of my personality.  I won’t say I’m a social butterfly; rather, I would say I choose to be familiar with those that cross my path on a regular basis.  And familiar doesn’t mean close, necessarily.

Anyway, a work acquaintance joked around with me and some of my other co-workers about being huddled up in the cold (the weather has been weird this week).  Perhaps it was innocent, or maybe there was purpose behind it.  I don’t pay any mind, especially if I see shiny metal on the third finger of a left hand, so I was completely oblivious of any connotation.  I smiled at him the same way I smiled at the woman next to him.

Because of a safety concern, we all exchanged information.  I’m notorious for working late, and when my ground floor office is lit at night, I can’t see anything at all… Even if someone is standing directly outside my windows.  It’s creepy.

About 2 hours after the office closed, I was still working.  It’s not unusual, and often co-workers will check on me or offer me a ride home (I walk to/from work).  I decided to leave, and I walked out with the same work acquaintance, who happened to be right outside.  We chatted for a minute, nothing flirty or anything, and I left to go grab some soup to take home for dinner.

When I got home, he called me.  He joked about random things, and then he said something that raised a warning signal for me.  He said he wanted to find a reason for me to come back to work so that he could see me again.  Mind you, I know he’s married, so I stopped him.  Don’t let the smile fool you, I can be extremely serious and I tend to be very blunt.  I asked him what he was really asking of me, what his intentions were, and the obvious question. Aren’t you married?

I think he was surprised by how direct I was, but it didn’t really phase him.  He said all of these things, that he thought I was cute and funny, and that he wanted to get to know me better.  That one time I patted him on the shoulder, and he had wanted to react to it but didn’t.  That he didn’t see anything wrong with an innocent hug or kiss, and that we should hang out.   He didn’t see anything wrong if things went further than an innocent kiss, but he understood why I might.  He said he wanted to hang out with me before I left for my Christmas vacation; we could have breakfast or take a drive somewhere, hang out by the lake.  Said we could always talk about things if I felt uncomfortable.

Except I was already uncomfortable.

I do believe that people can be friends and be of the opposite sex.  However, you have to set boundaries, and you have to be willing to determine those that can’t stay on their side of the line.  I didn’t want to shut out someone that I’d just met, especially someone that I worked with, but I had to set some ground rules.  Namely, uh, we’re not hanging out, you’re married, and I’m uncomfortable.  We’re cool in the context of work, but that’s all it can be.  Friend zone.  If you’ve ever been a fan of Kevin Hart, this would have been a perfect opportunity to say “Pineapples.”

What he proposed made me feel sullied and cheap — like my friendliness had been taken for granted or skewed into something unbecoming.  I may be missing closeness and affection, but I’ll never be that desperate.  I could never cross the line drawn by the broom he jumped with someone else.

I just don’t have it in me.