Good News

I’m one of those “happy by association” kind of people. Even on days when I feel I’ve been completely dragged through the mud, I can find joy in seeing a friend realize triumph.

It’s not that I don’t continue to experience my own circumstances; rather, I see them accomplishing some form of success, and I’m reminded that there really is a light at the end of the tunnel. Life is just a succession of tunnels. Some of them curve, some of them go on for much longer than we can really stand being in confined spaces, and others we pass through so quickly that we don’t even realize we were ever in a dark place. These happy moments experienced by others are like a brief glimmer, or even a skylight, along whatever tunnel I’m traveling through. Answered prayers are fantastic bursts of light.

I have a friend with a new work opportunity, another with a beautiful baby on the way (who is going to be ridiculously stylish), and most areas of my life are pretty good right now. Things aren’t perfect me, but I don’t think I ever expect perfect — that would just be setting up for failure.

My rollercoaster of a dating life is probably one of the tunnels I’ve been traveling lately. It’s been a really long time since I’ve been in anything significant, and that’s been weighing on me. Four years since my last relationship that got anywhere near the “L” word, and everything since has been so obviously temporary.

Even the latest muse. Fun when he’s around, but for the most part he isn’t anywhere to be found. I know his circumstances, and though I enjoy his company, I’m not expecting much. He’s not ready. Highly unlikely that anything serious will develop, so more than anything, I find myself looking out the window and wondering what’s next for me. That I was in a long-term relationship for the length of my 20’s, am I going to spend the whole of my 30’s alone?

I don’t want to force anything, and I don’t want to rush. I actually enjoy my own company, so I’m not looking for someone to fill my entire calendar. I just get tired of waking up alone every morning, coming home to an empty apartment every night. Everyone who checks on me is at least a few hundred miles away, for the most part. I’m not isolated the way I was in New Orleans, but I do recognize the value I put on real friendships, and those aren’t always easy to forge the more “mature” we get.

Even feeling a bit lonely myself, I’ve been over-the-moon happy for my friends. I’ve been praying for the both of them, and I know they’ve been through so much to get to these incredible moments. Through their experiences, they remind me to be humble, to appreciate what I already have, and to exude the positive energy that I want to come into my life. They give me perspective when it escapes me, though they probably have no idea the impact their experiences have had on me.

I will be just fine, no matter what. Even if I end up an old spinster with a million crocheted blankets or a houseful of cats. There’s always light at the end of the tunnel, but I think being present and having the peace of mind to enjoy someone else finding the end of their tunnel can, in turn, keep us moving forward until we find the end of ours.

Valentine’s Day

This post has been sponsored by Amazon and SiteGround, but all opinions expressed here are my own.

Such an interesting day. I get that Valentine’s Day is a manufactured holiday — one that benefits the card, candy, and floral companies — but I am enamored with any day specifically purposed for love.

I’ve never understood the folks who hate Valentine’s Day or the ones who celebrate “Singles Awareness Day.” Even if you don’t have a significant other to celebrate the day with, you have a special someone: you. Self-love is a real thing — a necessary thing — and I’ve never understood the amount of self-loathing that takes place on this day in particular.

Being single on Valentine’s Day doesn’t mean you’re a failure or that you should hide under a rock for the next 24 hours. A little self-love goes a long way. Pamper yourself. Go get a massage, buy yourself your own flowers or chocolate (just don’t eat the whole box). I used to send myself my favorite chocolates on Valentine’s Day as a reminder that it’s not really a big deal. Don’t allow the only way for you to feel special about yourself to be controlled by someone else. You can (and should) do that for yourself.

How do I spend the day? This weekend, I’ve been curling up with some good books, watching movies, I’ve been cooking and organizing the apartment, hosted a dinner, went to the salon, and I’ve enjoyed the peace and quiet. I love long weekends, and I am enjoying making my apartment a home. This doesn’t sound like some adventure-filled weekend, but it has been everything I’ve needed it to be. I’m relaxed, in good spirits, and I’ve removed some of the chaos at home (by cleaning and organizing my storage room). This may not be romantic love, but self-love is abundant.

Recently, I finished a book by Adriana Trigiani, entitled Brava Valentine: A Novel. Though the title is appropriate for this weekend, it’s not actually about Valentine’s Day. Rather, the heroine (Valentine) navigates a trilogy in pursuit of professional success, family business stability, love, and (in my opinion) self-realization. Through her missteps, she learns about what she wants for herself. Though she’s taken great pride in her work, she has an ah-ha moment and discovers that she really does want to be loved. She didn’t trust that honest love or passion were really possible, primarily as a result of familial infidelities.

Through the novel, the beauty of Italian country, good food, and funny quips come through. Brava Valentine is the second book in the trilogy, so I’m excited to read the third installment, The Supreme Macaroni Company: A Novel. As a writer, nothing gets me more amped up to write than reading a good book.

I’ve also spent a lot of time this weekend trying to optimize this site; to make this site really work for me. I’m so glad that I decided to self-host my domain, and that Siteground has been the absolute best choice for me. Though WordPress recommended Bluehost, I thought their service was awful, the attempt at transferring my domain was rough, and that maybe the company doesn’t have enough staff to truly support such a huge WP constituency.

Moving over to Siteground came with more than really responsive service. It also opens up the world of plugins, which you cannot use if you’re hosted on WordPress.com. Opening up the worlds of Adsense, affiliate programs, the editorial calendar, and a ton of options makes this process a little overwhelming but a lot gratifying. Taking 100% onus of the site means that it can be done my way, can make me money, can have whatever content I need. This part of my writing journey is coming together, which frees up more time and focus for my books. Finally.

Web Hosting

Snowcation Reverie

Being cooped up at home lends to reflection, especially when you’re alone. Even trapped in it, there is something so magical about the snow to me. I’m in awe. And it’s crazy, because this is the first time I’ve lived somewhere that gets a snowy winter, a hot summer, a gorgeous spring, and a true fall.

Blizzard-like conditions are said to be upon us for at least the next 24 hours, and though I’m cozy at home with plenty of movies to keep me entertained and food to keep me fed, I find myself drained thinking about work. I struggle to prove to myself that I’m not a workaholic, but work seems to be my primary stressor these days. I find myself worried about whether I’ll make the right decisions. Whether my efforts will be seen as such. Whether I will be a good leader here.

And it’s not that I haven’t been just fine elsewhere. I’ve certainly been challenged, and I think I ultimately handled myself well. I learned some important lessons along the way, personally and professionally. It’s just… I find myself waning. Questioning what I really want, whether I’m really happy or just happened to find something I’m relatively good at. Do I see this as a job or a career? It makes a difference.

In my mind, if I’m going to work 7 days a week, I want it to be something that I love. I’m not loving this, and if I’m really honest with myself, I haven’t loved this for a year or two. When you love what you do, it doesn’t feel so forced. Right?

Is it time for something new? Is it time to take some risks? Am I ready? I’m not really sure.

Per my usual, I’ll pray about it and mull it over. I never make rash or uninformed decisions. And who knows, maybe this is just a season, and the tides will turn for the better.

A friend of mine talked to me last week and helped me put some things into perspective; made me think about where I am and what I prioritize. What can I be doing to affect the change that I want to see? As much as I’d like to believe all of my motivation is due to my most recent muse (who may be a done deal at this point, who knows), the talk I had with my friend still weighs heavily on my mind. Lovers tell you what you think you need to hear (which is really what you want to hear), but friends tell you the truth. It may be a hard truth, it may be a humbling experience, it may show you where you where you went wrong. You may have to swallow your pride. The important thing is, coming from a friend, it’s always meant to build you up and steer you in the right direction.

If I’m not prioritizing myself, putting first those things that I really want to do/achieve, how can I really be happy with all of this other stuff? How can I meet the personal goals I’ve set for myself? How can you publish something you never finish? What’s a reasonable amount of time that I can devote to myself and my craft? Heavy stuff, my friend, but you were right on time.

Thank you.

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.

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.

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

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.

The Dating Rotation

Do you ever try to keep your calendar full so that you don’t have time to think about the fact that you’re very much single (and maybe a little lonely)?  I’m not afraid to admit that I do.  Especially around the holidays, more than any other time of year, I miss having someone to spend time with.  I miss cute little gifts (and big expensive ones too), cuddling up when it gets cold outside (though I’m starting to think there’s no such thing as cold in New Orleans), and making plans for the new year.  I’ve filled up my calendar, made some new friends, and kept myself busy at work so that I don’t really have time to think about it, but I still do.  Why is it always so difficult to find someone that wants to be there?  Wants to make an effort, actually cares, can be 100% real?

I used to have what I called a dating rotation, but my BS meter failed me on several occasions, and I’m to the point now where I’m so wary of nonsense that I don’t want to bother.  Each person in the rotation served a purpose.  One was fun to go out with, watch movies, shoot some pool, etc.  One was more of the “stay in” type for movies, cuddling, and well… you know.  One was a total foodie and would explore restaurants with me or be my guinea pig on new recipes I was trying out.

You may wonder why I decided to date a bunch of people, but there was a real reason.  Alone, each of these guys wasn’t boyfriend material.  They were good for certain things, but none of them really fit the mold of what I really needed.  I never lied or gave anyone the idea that we were exclusive, and I was forthcoming in admitting that I was dating other people.  I expected the same honesty.   I kept the rotation because I knew I didn’t want to fall for these guys, and what I had in place kept me from developing feelings for any one person.  And it worked for a while, but I eventually wanted more.  Just not from any of them.  Maybe I sound like a terrible person, but there was no deception.  We all parted ways amicably, one by one.  And then it was just me again.  And then I had butterflies… and, for whatever reason, it didn’t work out.  I was so sure about that one, would have done anything for him, but it didn’t matter.  At least not to him.

Though I’ll be the first to admit that I want someone right now, I don’t have the energy to start up another rotation.  Maybe it comes from turning 30, maybe I’ve just decided that all of the BS isn’t worth the trouble of dealing with a few.  I just want one.  One that I can be dedicated to, be myself with, share and experience things with that wants to be with me in the same ways.   Someone that’s willing to work at it, will tell me when I’m wrong, but who will also hear me when I’m right.  I don’t need pretense, nor am I looking for an immediate fix.

I’m looking for real.  Well, maybe “looking” isn’t the proper term… I’m praying for real.  When I look, they’re never right.  I assume that’s because when we know what we want and need, we try our best to make the person in front of us fit the mold.  But they don’t.

Everyone says to just let it happen.  Well, my white flag is waving.  No more rotations, no more quick fixes.

If it doesn’t have true potential, I just can’t do it anymore.

Drawing a Line

Sometimes I think you hope that there will be more, even when you know it’s over.  Maybe because it wasn’t your decision to end things, maybe because you don’t want to start all over again.  There’s always a reason.

I think one of my biggest hangups has always been that I’m completely honest, and I expect the same in return.  I want to be able to tell you what it is, and I want you to do the same.  I don’t see the point in flowering words to save feelings, someone else’s or my own, because then we’re not really at the heart of the matter.  We’re skating around it.  I always come back to two words: be real.  In my last romance, I honestly don’t know what happened to cause our demise.  I just know it’s over.

I started blogging just over 9 years ago.  My first start was on Xanga, and then Blogger, and now WP.  Over 12 blogs in all, multiples are still in use.  I was grieving over the loss of someone very close to me — someone I’d known her entire life — my sister.  That same year, I lost 4 more people close to me, and I felt like my world was closing in around me.  Honestly, I’m still grieving.  Writing has always been my outlet; I always knew how to describe and myself through written word.  It wasn’t until I’d dealt with some demons through writing that I realized that I had a need to express myself verbally.  If I love someone, I need to say it.  I can’t hold back anymore.  I’ve lost too many opportunities with people I grew up loving to continue to hold back.  The cycle would just repeat itself, and I don’t think that I could bear it.

The one that gave me butterflies… There’s no question, I love him.  Even now.  He knows that.  And maybe he didn’t love me back, or he wasn’t ready.  Maybe I just wasn’t the right one for him.  I may never know, and I’ve accepted that.  Maybe we can never be friends or be close the way that we were.  He’s drawn a line.  At the end of the day, though, I just hope he remembers.  I won’t forget how I felt, or how I loved him, or what I’d hoped for.

Maybe there’s something better out there and I just can’t see it yet.  Maybe.

Closure

Sometimes you just don’t get it.  There’s no warning, there’s no explanation… Seemingly, there’s no reason.  And it hurts.  You feel rejected, you question everything that transpired, and you wonder what it is that you did wrong.  You’re assuming it was you.

If you can relate to what I’ve just said, I’m here to tell you that you can do everything right and sometimes it’s just not going to work.  I’m saying this from experience.  You can love, give, try, work at it, everything — but it still takes two.  That darn free will element.  But that free will portion is so clutch.

It’s easy to say hey, I’m a good woman.  I cook, I love sports, I play video games, I’m intelligent, I’m funny, I’m sweet, and I don’t need to be up under him all the damn time.  I have a life and my own friends, and I intend to keep them.  He compliments me, he doesn’t complete me.  He says he loves me, and I haven’t given him a reason to stop, so logic follows that he should just keep loving me.  Stop right there — that last statement is flawed.

I hate to compare love to a job, but maybe it’s not such a bad analogy.  A relationship is like at-will employment.  You can be fired without cause; meaning, you don’t have to do something wrong to be dumped.  Whether it’s timing, he decides he’s not ready, a lack of chemistry, a loss of chemistry, dishonesty, or whatever the case, you may not have done something wrong.  And, still, you’re now seeking closure for the end of a relationship.

But think about it:  you’d rather KNOW that someone wants to be with you, rather than feels like they HAVE to stay with you, right?  It makes a difference.  Knowing that someone chooses to spend time with you over someone else, chooses to treat you with love and respect, makes you a priority… Doesn’t that feel better than someone who is just with you for now, biding their time until something they perceive as better comes along?  Or better yet, someone who is with you for that one thing only?

It’s so easy to overanalyze every single event, thought, expression, conversation… But it’s pointless.  If it’s over, give yourself the time and space you need to accept that.  Whether you ever get that explanation you’re hoping for, you’ll find closure.  It’s really about getting back to the place where you can accept that you are enough.  With or without someone else.