The good, the bad and the ugly

Which do you want first? The good news or the bad news?

I was asked this a few years back when I was having my home refurbished. The contractor asked me these questions. I opted for the bad news first because I wanted to end the news on a more positive note. The bad news that day was my ceiling was caving in. The good news was, he could fix it. I knew a ceiling couldn’t be healthy when the darned thing was curved…downward…and what looked like dry hay was creeping from the corner.

The end result was I had a beautiful home, shiny, updated and strong from the foundation to the roof. And it all came at a price. The dollars, time and being forced to live in a spot in one room for several months was difficult at times. I felt discombobulated. My ground chakra had no wiring. The mess before the unveiling put me outside of my comfort zone for a few months, but in the end I was more comfortable and ultimately happier. I remember standing in that home and looking all around and marveling that I was in the same space but not in the same space.

Before the construction could begin the deconstruction had to happen. The discomfort had to happen. The inner exchange, the daily negotiations changed, which had to happen. Re-modeling a home is a lot like remodeling a life. The bad news is some areas of my life are caving in, but the good news is…I can fix it.

That good news is really good news! Have you ever been in the company of someone who is actively living and making choices to better themselves? If not, then you really should begin your reconstruction with your circle of friends and acquaintances. Sure, the person who is listening to Zig Ziegler for the thousandth time and is telling you how wonderful life is and on top of that they actually lost weight during the holidays can be challenging to one’s psyche especially if one just bought a size larger pair of jeans because of the holidays and one has no idea who Zig is other than the papers used to roll Cigs. It is so easy, so natural to continue in your own flow even if the flow drops into no-man’s land, where nothing grows and nothing new ever happens.

How does one re-model their life? Which walls come down, which rooms are re-utilize and what is the new decor? The bad news is that all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else. The good news is all those choices should be chosen by you and no one else!

Commercials are on overdrive for weight loss products and clinics and shots and suctions. I often wish I could have a constant companion telling what to do, what to eat and to knock the food right out of my hands if I am over calorie budget for the day. I often wish I had someone there to insist I go to the gym, pick out the right clothes, point out that I need to meditate. And, yes, I know that I am my own constant companion, and that is where things turn ugly!

Being our own contractors is challenging, but finding the answers to the problems needing to be solved, such as a ceiling that is caving in, is the stuff of life. We must be careful who we chose to help us, which tools to use and in the end the price paid. Change is never easy, change is ever constant and change can be extremely uncomfortable.

But in the end, it is all worth the new digs.

MOB: Mother of the Bride

wedding

Holding the office of MOB, Mother of the Bride, can be a navigational nightmare! Just watch a few Say Yes to the Dress episodes and you are sure to see a few MOBs who are tripping all over their daughter’s moments. I have been a MOB twice, and both times, if I was caught unaware one may have seen in the visage kaleidoscope  a deer in the headlights look of fear, contemplation, love, sadness, pride, reservation, honor, and did I mention love? Oh yes, I did!

My first MOB experience was in 2009. My daughter actually came home to me for a month prior to her wedding. We did fun stuff like go to the gym and shopping. After she was married and whisked off on her honeymoon then new home I was alone again, and re-vistited empty nest syndrome which hurts like hell. Her mantra to me was her marriage was her moment- something she had dreamed of and was now creating. The reality is it is a chore to create the magical moment of I dos.

I remember watching her walk down the isle; though she was walking with her father I felt as if I was beside her, so surreal to see my baby in her gown, radiant and ready! I watched her the entire night: dancing, laughing, enjoying the event so well planned and executed. I learned, being MOB meant letting your daughter shine and never taking one inch of her light unless she pulls you in. There is so much going on at a wedding but the bottom line is that it is a celebration of the couple, not anyone else.

I felt the same way during my second daughter’s wedding. It was her moment, her time. Even when she said yes to her dress, I made sure not to give negative feedback, and to help fan each positive moment. My oldest daughter had given me the Wedding Dress Shopping Rules…I was NOT to make faces, comment when not asked and to keep it positive. When she came out in a dress I did not like, my facial expression betrayed me and my daughter became anxious. I promised her I saw the beauty in the dress! She didn’t buy it. I had to work on my game face!

When she came out wearing THE dress I forgot all the rules and sprang up from the velvet couch and teared up due to how magical she looked! She began to cry and I asked if I had made a mistake in liking the dress a little too much to daughter number 1. I was assured that my behavior was just fine and the moment was as it should have been! Whew!

During the second MOB experience I marveled that I was so blessed to have this moment a second time; I was experiencing magic! I again felt as though I was beside her all night- I watched her as I had her sister, I caught almost every smile, tear and look of love. I saw her interact with her friends, new family members, old family members and her husband. I felt her love all night.

When I left the reception I was accompanied by the bride and her husband. We took a tram to our rooms so we could change and go back for more festivities. My daughter said to me that she hadn’t seen me, she missed me and wondered why I was so quiet. I looked at her and reminded her that I was the one who helped put her dress on earlier that day then stayed with her until the last moment before her father walked her down the isle. I was one of the first to hold her after she had said I do and before the pictures were taken. And, as it was with her sister, I watched her the entire night, taking in her laughter, tears of joy and sheer excitement of a dream come true.

Being a MOB has been such a wonderful experience and for anyone who needs a little help from those of us who have been there just remember, it is all about them, and not about you.

Work that truth and the rewards will be that you will experience the love and magic of their moment cleanly and joyfully! And that is worth it!

The Apology

Forgiveness is a form of gratitude. When we fo...

Apologies. I am pretty good at knowing when to give one. In my life, I have apologized… a lot. I am not proud of this. Every apology came from my heart which was laden with grief. I know when I hurt someone. It is almost like I can feel their pain, annoyance or anger. With each apology I truly wish to salve the emotional wound for them and me. With each apology, I hope for forgiveness. This whole self-awareness thing is hard, but rewarding.

Apologies are an important ingredient within the social structure. We are appalled when one is lacking, or if when one is made, it is not quite what we needed. I have made many, but received few. So, with this ability to apologize I have also been sharpening this thing called forgiveness. Apologies and forgiveness goes together like peas and carrots, or Forrest and Jenny. I find my anxiety can be squashed by this comforting duo. Lately I have learned to allow them into my past life to help heal some old stuff, circa late 60’s and all through the 70’s. The growing up years.

Facebook has been a great way to reach out to some of the people I treated poorly in those early years and so far, no one has told me to go to hell. I think it helped me to say to them how this teenager, who was so angry lashed out in hurtful ways, and now like a loving adult, I sort of present this troubled kid and say, “She is really sorry for the pain she may have caused, but she gets it now and wants you to please forgive her.”

I have written letters in the same manner and asked for forgiveness. But those are the ones from the past. These days I apologize in real time! I cannot imagine going a full day knowing I have made a mistake without trying to rectify it. So, my question is, when someone hurts me in some way (and I could name about two dozen right here but I won’t) why is there no apology or recognition of my feelings? It is so very rare. In the last two years, the people who have been so quick to apologize, really didn’t harm me in any way. One of my co-workers came to me and said they owed me an apology and was feeling worried they had crossed some kind of line in our conversation from the previous day. I couldn’t remember what it was we had even talked about and they were so relieved. I felt  happy to be able to ease their mind and heart and at the same time I felt cared for and honored.

I had a crazy situation happen not too long ago where I was threatened, ridiculed and judged so completely wrong that I am still perplexed at this person’s ability to love another human being. If they brought this type of hatred to a small table, dealing with me, a person in service to them, I cannot imagine how cruel and dark they are to those closest to them. I remember thinking, right after the attack, if this person will somehow come to the realization that they were wrong about me, and that telling me I was worthless hurt deeply and maybe they would apologize for their words.

Hasn’t happened yet. Funny thing is that a phone call is what it took to cause a load of pain, a phone call would ease it.

But, apologies are more for the trespasser than the trespassed. I have written that incident off as, that person is mean and hateful, and I need to FORGIVE them!

Forgiving is harder for me than asking for forgiveness. Which is probably why God, Life, the Universe, sends me so much to forgive. It is my weakness. Once crossed, I find it hard to forgive, not impossible as I do have many forgiving victories, but it is never easy. Disliking someone is VERY easy. What is wrong with that picture?

When I applied for my job as district counselor, I was asked this question: “what is the one thing you can say about yourself that would give you success in this job?” I said, “I am very self-aware: I know how to interact, I can read a situation, I learn from my mistakes, I can admit when I am wrong and I am not afraid to apologize.” The second question was, “What could keep you from doing a good job here?” I said, “I have never held a counseling position, I need to learn everything….but I am aware of that!”

I got the job.

I think that is true in life. We learn from our mistakes, we grow, we change, and the cycle continues. I think the person who was super-mean to me is missing the blessing of a soft heart. As I continue to completely forgive  them, I am blessed with the struggle that comes with personal growth. Maybe when I reach level five, self-actualiztion, upon hearing a judgement I will immediately forgive their hardened heart, and stunted nature, because the truth is hatred like that does not live in the light of love.

As I write this I offer my open heart to anyone who holds me in a moment of social contempt. Forgive me, I really am trying to get life right.

To Resolve or Not to Resolve, That is the Question

Have you noticed? People are resolving not to resolve! In developing New Year’s Resolutions, one decides to change something, firmly choosing a new direction. At least for a few weeks! The in thing, I am noticing, is to NOT make any resolutions. Why do it, some are writing: just live and let live. Making a decision to change something at New Years is a farce, leading us toward disappointing ourselves yet again. How many of us made a resolution last year to lose weight and, well, didn’t? Or, to make major changes in other areas of life like in love, work and spiritual commitment, and didn’t? Is the answer to can the resolution and just start the year off with nothing ahead but what fate allows?

I am understating a lot of things, but my point is, I like the New Year’s Resolution thing. Some years I did fail, and yes, after a few weeks. Some years I succeeded. The point of the resolution is that when I make them, I have such hope and energy. I see that what I desire in my life for the new year gives me a blast of positive energy. How can that be a bad thing? So, I resolve to resolve a few things this year. Go ahead and judge; it won’t bother me at all. I often tell clients that the difference in life is started by a thought: A spark in one’s mind that makes sense. If that thought makes your adrenaline flow, go for it. That adrenaline is the stuff from which paths are forged.

My life has had many paths. I certainly followed a few dreams. Doing that gave me reasons to do and be, and conquer a fear or two. To quote some one who surely understood extreme redundancy, “I ain’t dead yet.”

juicer I sit here writing with my first juiced drink from my new juicer. I resolve to use it at least 5 times a week. Up until today I let my eating habits slip, with no momentum after Thanksgiving to watch my weight, I got an I just don’t want to care right now about what I eat attitude. The end result? I am emotionally slumped and fatter. The Sugar Rewards. There are none! I have resolved to go back to my vegan ways. My inner organs have been begging me to do so!

A couple of years ago I set a goal to write this blog and I had quite a few ideas of what to do to make this site succeed. I resolve to continue to do just that. I have no big ideas, but I do have a few that may result in getting that book together.

I could have sworn that God sent me messages to stop my comedy career after the Eva Longoria fiasco, but I still love the stage and am starting this year booked at a few amazing places. I resolve to continue to be open to comedy as it was my catalyst for life for so many years.

I love music, and we bought a BOSE for the house. I resolve to dance more in my kitchen…it has the biggest “floor.”

For years I worked to mend relationships, apologize to those I hurt and just learn to love better. I am keeping the last part of this, I am open to loving. I am not too turned on by mending, at least not being the one to seek the salves. I realized recently that I am a pretty good person, and I like me. Getting here was my life’s journey. I resolve to love more, and more freely.

The juicer is set up and broken in, I am writing today, I have a few jokes to put in my next set , my i-pod is playing my favorite tunes and, I love more today than yesterday.

I resolutely resolve to my New Year’s Resolutions! It just makes me so darned happy!

When a New Life Calls

He was called up to accept his award for fifty years of loyal service to the company, and as he walked toward the podium the crowd stood and applauded. It was a proud moment. He had accomplished long-standing loyalty and was granted retirement and a watch to own his hours of free time. This was the last chapter of the Dick and Jane books from which I was taught to read and was taught how life in America was suppose to look. Funny thing about those books and this last chapter- it some how has always given me solace. I was not told to embrace Dick and Jane’s suburban utopia, I just did. There was safety in their world. Safety in dinner being on the table at five, bath at 8 and retirement at 65. I wonder now why I have not lived safely and yearn for something different once things become too familiar.

See Kim. See Kim run. Run Kim run.

I am ready to go live in the mountains. Meet strangers and make them my new friends. I feel restless. Is it hormones? Can I blame this on my estrogen levels as I have been able to do with the rest of the stuff I feel a need to explain away? Weight gain? Estrogen. Spending too much? Estrogen. Unable to focus in one life direction? Estrogen.

Dick's Peak Summit Pano

Dick’s Peak Summit Pano (Photo credit: Joe Parks)

This new decade of my life has been a gift. Sure, the gift that I am alive, with manageable health issues, but also it has given me the gift of emergence. I have struggled all of my life. Family, money, sense of self, all seemed to offer a challenge rather than clean, clear blessings.  I think many of us struggle through life, trying to feel moments of happiness and bliss and trying to hold on to them, then seeking it out all over again. It is no wonder I had two children, tried several jobs, received two degrees, bought and sold several homes. Yes, I often even buy two of something if I like the style and can justify the cost. I really, really want to buy or build another home, and I would contemplate a nice tree house at this point in Costa Rica.

I admire the people who make a home for their life in one place, retire from their first job and maintain a group of friends acquired in elementary school.  I admire them, I love to converse with them and bask in their world. It is better than the book, but in all honesty, and I mean that, I never did read past the first grade reader. I am only guessing Dick, Jane, Sally, Mom, Dad and Spot all stayed in the family home until each was launched properly to their parents alma mater. Spot was buried in the backyard, and his puppies have had puppies so Spot has lived on.

I would like to say that if  I was given a prompt to describe my life I would know how it would read. Wonder years meets wanderlust. And just like I yearned to jump in my car in 1979 and drive to Alaska on a whim, I yearn to jump into my car and drive west- towards mountains and open spaces. I never did go to Alaska. Fear stood in my way. Now, retirement does. Eight years and I get my “watch.”

It just seems wrong to wait to do what  I want to do.

Now I know why the lotto is so well-funded. Money can buy me happiness. Maybe not class, but certainly happiness. And a nice bungalow in Hawaii, or Fiji.

Just saying.

Hot Flash or Bubbling Cauldron?

If women could harness the energy of the hot flash it would be a super-power. Imagine being in Alaska, in the middle of the winter on a glacier in a bikini, or a nice one-piece that slims 10 pounds with properly place herring bone, and the locals are warming themselves at your hips. Global warming takes a back seat to the environmental effects of more than 20 million women flashing. Maybe those glaciers are melting when cruise ships of menopausal women get too close. Funny how so many tipping glaciers are caught on camera! “This is your captain speaking. All menopausal women below deck in the kryptonite chamber!”  Maybe scientists should be looking in the ovary for the piece of matter that blew up and created the Universe. Higgs Smiggs, I have the Milky Way’s cousin in my belly! Wouldn’t that just anger ALL men who wish women to remain silent and shrouded?

We all have different experiences, and top that with our different perceptions of the flash. To me, the heat inside ignites like an old gas stove: when the fire catches it is fast and big, engulfing all the extra gas that leaked in prior. There is no running from it- that makes it worse. I try to stay still and fan myself, or find a fan or a glacier. My face, neck and chest turn red, and I sweat in places I didn’t know glands existed. I remember reading to my senior class from The Great Gatsby. I thought it was great internal timing to get a hot flash during the scene where they first enter the hot hotel room in New York. As if on cue, I began to sweat. Who needs computer simulators? I embodied what that room felt like, and I too, just wanted a glass of icy bourbon. My students learned to ignore flashes. Or, at least they acted like they did. they looked away like it was the proper thing to do, like not staring at thebearded lady. Neither I, nor my grandmother could help it!

Night time is the worst time for hot flashes. No mattress is comfortable when the occupant is smouldering in a pre-spontaneous combustion state. Really, if spontaneous combustion were real, our fire departments would be very, very busy. I hate it. Hot, then sweat, then cold and clammy. I got special wicking PJ’s for my 52nd birthday. I was so happy. I took pictures of them and posted it to Facebook. They are more exciting than the splashes on the White Water Rapids at Six Flags. I now sleep with a fan directly on me about 2 feet from where I am on the bed, the ceiling fan and the air conditioner blasting after midnight. During the winter I do not need a heater. Remember? Alaska?

I had no idea that the heat would ignite more that just internal temperature. It also brewed up a bubbly cauldron of memories, mostly those which were of me, being less than perfect. The cauldron is a dark and scary place. I first began having memories of my mothering pop-up. I would wait until a decent hour, maybe 6-ish am-ish or so and call my girls and beg them to forgive me for whatever it was that needed forgiving at that moment. After a month or two of these calls, they asked me to stop it and that they forgive me for everything and anything else I may remember. I wonder if they just hated being woken up to “Please forgive me for…” It was weird, but I would get a very clear picture of mistakes I made night after night. I called this time in menopause the time of the bubbling cauldron of self-regret. Am I the only one?

The memories continued to the rest of my life. I have apologized to many people, written letters, found long-lost elementary buddies etc. If I have to go through a life review when I get to Heaven, I will cry “Foul!” I have already done this deed. Enough Jesus!! I cannot do this again. I picture myself telling God, “Oh no YOU didn’t!” When he pushes ‘play’ on the life review DVR.

Thanks to my doctor, the bubbling cauldron of self-regret has gone dormant. Like an active volcano, it lies there waiting for me to skip a hormone pill. I tried to “go through it naturally” with creams, black cohosh and extreme exercise, but none of that worked. Pre-hormones I was a sweating, apologizing, anxiety-filled mess. I felt as  though I was a closet Joan Crawford.  Closet. Get it? I kill me.

Today I am thankful for the new research that said hormones are not so bad, and women can take them past the five years declared safe. I am betting the researchers are men and women affected somehow by a menopausal woman. Why is Dr. Scientist afraid to go to sleep? It must be scary to wake up next to a woman saying ,”Give me the eye!” While she peers into her inner cauldron. I recently met a women who announced to me she was tossing the hormones as they made her fat. First, she wasn’t fat, but she did say she had gained 15 pounds since she began taking them. I don’t ever want to live in a place where my experience is the only one and the right one…but, I did tell her to be careful: once the hormones wear-off, just be really self-aware. If you find yourself in place that only Howard Hughes would go get out and run back to the MD.

If hot flashes burned calories, I would abstain from the hormones and join Bethany Frankel as a Skinny B-Word. One would think, with all that incineration some fat would be burned. But the only thing burned was my inner psyche…a true size 0 after it was all said and done! Thankfully, I am now back to normal size, which means my psyche is more Dove Girl than Cover Girl, but that is just fine with me!

My Expectations

The big question I get asked (after the money questions) is why do I FEEL I need to go to the The Biggest Loser Resort at Fitness Ridge for a four week commitment.

I want to talk about that.

Everyone owns a self image, and mine is in need of a major overhaul. I need more than a tune-up. In fact, if I could trade my current self-image in for a new model, that is what I will do.

On July 8th I turn 50. If you are reading this and have either met that crossroad, or you are nearing it soon, then you may understand that with the golden age comes the cold reality that life on the other side may be shorter, and one’s body is going to change dramatically in the next 20 years. I do not want to be the lady who falls and can’t get up. So, that said, I wish to add that with a healthy BMI, and with proper diet and an active lifestyle, once I retire (I hope that I will be able to do so!) I will have the vehicle to travel and enjoy the rest of my life.

On self-image: when I was growing up I was the daughter of a man who never wore a shirt at home. He was a sculpted, bronzed perfect man. My father was handsome as well…and I am guessing here that he wanted his children to have the same pride in their appearance as he had in his. My paternal grandmother was a very large woman, and I think he knew that genetic capacity was in his girls- because my brothers had no fat on them at all. My sister and I were, my mother’s words, “chubby”.

I really like the word chubby. It is friendly and cute. It has a cuddly connotation. Chubby at eights years old was just fine for me. But when I turned 14, 15 and 16, my father saw me only periodically, and when he did see me he would ask me to turn around so he could get a look at me. On several occasions he would proclaim it was time to start exercising and the first one was to push away the plate. If my behind was too big in his opinion, he would use his Catholic cussing, “Mary Mother of Jesus” . He didn’t need to say anything else.

In my 20’s and 30’s there were times I had lost weight and was training hard to have muscle tone. His response was on a few occasions, “Now you’re too thin. Add about 5 pounds and you will be perfect.

No, I would not be perfect ever in his eyes. Ever. First off  because I am a female- but I will save that rant for another posting!

As one of my students so aptly put it when he needed to make a point and wanted me to listen intently: REAL TALK, I know I do not look bad. I know I am not more than say 15 to 20 pounds more than I can be…what I know is that my muscle mass is shrinking daily and cellulite, in all it’s awful glory is taking over. Dr. Oz says if one wants to diminish the look of cellulite, gain muscle and lose weight! Those creams are not going to change your celluite to muscle ratio. I love Dr. Oz, and maybe it is not only me, but don’t you think he would benefit from a permanent co-host? Oprah kept him interesting.

Andabout Oprah and all of the other rich and priviledged women in the world who gain a few pounds and call their favorite chef and tell them to cut the calories in each meal, then call the yoga, pilates and personal trainer to help them shape up. I have always wanted THAT experience. The Ridge is appears to be THAT experince and the price is the best I have seen for the program. I will be channeling my inner rich girl all month.

Before I started trying to run again in January of this year, my joints were starting to ache and creak. Arduous exercise helps diminish that, as well as many aches and pains associated with being a couch cushion. BONES…let’s talk BONES!!! I read about the bone drugs given to women either prior to having osteoporosis, and those with it. These drugs do not help build nice, thick bones. They help build thicker yet much less dense bones still prone to fractures. Boniva ain’t the perfect answer ladies!! I love Sally Field: I have been a fan since Gidget. She is a tiny lady who was so small if she wears a habit she may still be able to fly! How dense do her bones need to be to hold her miniature body up between takes? One of the weird things happening to women taking these drugs is their femurs a breaking easily. That is the largest bone in our body- and it is snapping like a cracker after years on bone drugs.

What is the alternative?

Lift weights- run, eat right. Think positive. Love your body. Love yourself.

To recap, I am looking for less cellulite, more muscle, and a self-image overhaul. When I turn 70 I hope to be in better physical condition than I am in right now.

I just received my last subscribed copy of More Magazine. I like that magazine. But, you know that the Baby Boomers continue to age past 40; maybe there needs to be a new magazine…how about Much More!