Friday, January 27, 2012

Crow’s Feet AND Zits….REALLY?!?!

I don’t mind showing a little age.  I don’t.  I think laugh lines are a good sign you are healthy and well-adjusted.  But shouldn’t the acne make its exit once the wrinkles set in? Is this some sort of cruel joke that Mother Nature plays on us?

My diet is not the French fry and Pizza riddled fare of my youth.  Okay – I LIKE my chocolate, but it’s the DARK kind!  There are PROVEN cardiovascular benefits – it’s for my health!  All the super models swear drinking plenty of water is their secret to clear skin.  I could drink enough water to float the Mayflower and all I would end up with is a shortage of toilet paper.

Men don’t have to go through this drama.  You don’t see 30 and 40-something men with big ol’ blemishes on their noses.  As women our hormones mess with us much longer.  I guess I will take acne over  balding, though….

I really DO have better things to worry about than checking to see if the flaming red dot on the end of my chin is still tamed to a dull pink under one more layer of powder. Maybe it’s a conspiracy by the make-up manufacturers to sell more cover-up!  One day there will be blacked-out documents showing the investigation and how Cover Girl knew all along that they were creating a market for their product.

As a teenager, I accepted acne as part of the deal.  One of the many changes we go through.  Everything is out of whack then anyway, what’s one more?  It was supposed to be a temporary thing – it would go away with the braces, blue eye-shadow and other assorted awkwardness.  Never did I dream Mr. Benzoyl Peroxide would be neighbors with Miss Clairol.  Will he still be there when Ben Gay moves in?  Which one will Ben choose?!  Who knew that my medicine cabinet would turn out to be Peyton Place?

Wednesday, January 25, 2012

The Black Dress

I wrote this several months ago.  A post from a friend brought it to mind, so I thought I would share.  

The black dress has been sitting my closet for years.  I bought it one day when I was out marathon bargain shopping with my mother.  It fit well, was a great deal and I figured I could use it someday.  Over the years I would pull it out, but it never was quite right for any event.  The crepe fabric made it too dressy for daytime, and the demure cut wasn’t generally what I wanted for an evening outing.  So the black dress has never been out of the closet. 

I have lived on the planet for four decades and have never been to a funeral service.  There are many reasons.  It starts with my mother’s aversion to funerals after her beloved grandmother died.  Our extended family was far away, so we didn’t travel back when someone passed on.  The concept of going to ‘pay your respects’ was just not part of our family culture.  The biggest reason that I have never been to a funeral however, is because no one I have ever been truly close to has had one. 

Until today.

I have known Patrick since the first grade.  We lost touch after high school, but over the last two years we became close again.  We had many conversations about everything and nothing.  Patrick had battled brain cancer seven years ago.  He had surgery, chemo and was in remission.  Then in January, he suffered a seizure.  The cancer was back.  This time it took hold and would not let go.  My friend died on Saturday. 

So today, I donned the black dress, which happens to be just right for a funeral.  A very grown-up dress for the little boy I played chase and compared scraped knees with.  I made it through the service without coming completely unglued, and celebrated a life that touched many along the way.  I saw people I had not seen in years.  There were tears, smiles and hugs.  We all assured Patrick’s family that his humor and kind heart made an impact on everyone he came near.

Now the dress will go to the cleaners and then make it’s way back to the closet.  From now on, I won’t look at it and wonder if I will ever wear it.  The dress now has a purpose.  It is my sincere hope I won’t wear it again for quite some time.

Wednesday, January 18, 2012

You planned the wedding....What about the marriage?

You’re in LOVE!!  This is the person you can’t live without.  For the rest of your life, you want to be joined to your one-and-only.  You decide to get married.  (Does anyone “pop” the question anymore?) Full-on wedding planning begins.

For a year, the details are pored over.  Time.  Date.  Place.  Lilies or roses?  Fondant or buttercream?  Bridesmaid’s dresses in pink – but Blush or Bashful?  What song for the first dance?  High heels or slippers? Cummerbund or vest? Down to the font on the label on the tiny bag of rice.  It is all CRITICALLY important. 

Plans are made.  Contingency plans are made.  What if Cousin Sue can’t travel because she is pregnant?  Okay Kellie will step in as bridesmaid.  What if it rains – okay we’ll move inside.  Hours upon hours are spent in meetings, tastings and negotiations.

Then the wedding is over and your new life begins.  What plans have you made?  Probably you thought about kids.  You MAY have a general idea of what you want to do with your career.  You know which apartment you want to live in.  From there, most people just go with the flow. 

There are no set goals for your relationship.  No financial plans are made.  No set path is laid out as to what you would like to do when.  You assume that your spouse knows what you want even though you never told them - because they love you, right?  You follow the Jones’ because they seem to have something good going on.  (You have no idea that behind closed doors they are miserable.) 

Seven years later you don’t recognize the person on the other side of the bed.  Debt has mounted.  The kids are always underfoot.  You hate your job and by the time you get home at night, you don’t have the energy to object to the crazy parenting your spouse engages in.  Dreams for life have faded and you have NO IDEA how you got here.  Every discussion seems to break down to angry barb throwing and it is just not worth it to try and talk anymore. 

Suddenly the idea of a clean slate becomes appealing.  A new start  - that’s it!  Your coworker understands you and is not hard to look at.  Escape is good and alcohol is just the ticket. 

If the average couple would put a FRACTION of the energy and effort into planning their life they spend planning one day, their marriage would stand a chance of making it through the trials and tribulations. 

PLAN your life WITH your spouse. The benefits are incredible.  Make it a priority.  Just like you planned the wedding day from beginning to end, look at your life from beginning to end.  TALK about your hopes, your dreams and what you want to see when you look back on your life.  Steven Covey says to “Begin with the end in mind”.  Set a date and time to talk regularly about where you are, where you have been and how you will get where you want to go. Your spouse can only support you and be your accountability partner when they KNOW what is in your heart.  They really cannot read your mind.

If you have a plan, the bumps in the road are much easier to navigate.  Knowing that you have a goal for your life and your marriage keeps you focused on what is important.  When the inevitable distractions come your way, they will not be able to destroy you if they get no attention.  What you focus on multiplies.

Decide to go to Hawaii.  Head out the front door on foot. No compass and no money in your pocket.  Without a plan, your marriage’s chances are about the same as you surfing on Oahu.  

Monday, January 16, 2012

Ya Gotta Get Away

Since my second child was about 6 months old, I have been taking regular weekend trips with my girlfriends.  This has become a tradition that we do not compromise on.  At first it just seemed like a little bit of fun.  Now it is a MUST. 

Life gets crazy.  It is easy to get saturated in the day-to-day minutiae of life.  As a mom, it is easy to let your life revolve around the kids and your family and rarely focus on yourself.  What you don’t realize is that you get saturated.  In the quest for daily survival, it is easy to lose sight of who you are apart from someone’s parent or spouse.  Without a sense of self, it is easy to become resentful.  It is easy to become depressed.  I think we can all agree that a resentful and depressed person is no fun to be around!

In order to gain a little perspective, a change of local is often just what the doctor ordered.  Some time to sit back, relax, and just BE. 

When my friends and I go out, we rarely have any kind of agenda or must-do.  (Well, except for tie-dying, but that is a topic for another day!) We catch up on girl movies, go for a hike, cook the food that our children and husbands would rather not eat and have many cathartic chats.  It’s not expensive, we don’t go far, and the only rule is that you cannot be high-maintenance! 

Knowing that there are other ADULTS out there who identify with me is huge.  Getting in touch with who I am, sharing hopes, wishes, dreams and recipes is a way of reminding myself that I am an individual. 

We come back with batteries re-charged.  The kids are easier to handle and the husbands have regained some of the charm they lose when you are WAY TOO FAMILIAR with all of their habits. 

Because of this ritual, I believe that I am a better mommy and wife.  I believe that I am teaching my children that it is important to take care of self so that we may take care of others more effectively. 

Find yourself a group.  Get away.  Your children will survive.  Your husband CAN handle it.  YOU will never regret it!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

The Grass is Always Greener.

As I observed the couple at the next table, I had to work to keep my green-eyed monster at bay.  They were thoroughly enjoying one another’s company in the newness of their relationship.  They were seemingly unencumbered by the issues facing a 19 year marriage. 

Her investments were hers alone, and could be discussed objectively with her companion without the reservations one uses when another’s feelings must be taken into consideration.  There was no talk of family strife or arguments about what parental position to take with the children, whether or not a new car should be purchased or any other of the daily minutiae befalling a married couple. 

They were clearly on a third or fourth date and were enjoying one another immensely.  This is such a rare environment. The window of happy discovery is open for such a short time.  The one aspect of their dinner that hit me the hardest was their ability to “kanoodle” in the corner without thought to the others around them.  Such behavior, while offensive to some, sparkles with bright champagne bubbles.  Oh, how I miss the bubbles!

I think the bubbles of my relationship lasted a great deal longer than most.  For what seemed like years, we rarely disagreed and rarely existed in each other’s presence without being hand-in-hand.  Maybe that makes me miss it all the more.

So, the evening wore on and I sank a little deeper into my jealous depression. 

Then it came time for them to leave.  Their conversation turned to hesitant future possibilities of their relationship and I felt the uncertainty with which they spoke. Then came the decision.  His place?  Her place?  Her kids were home. 

I never found out the resolution of their evening. 

After they left, I found myself feeling less sorry for myself and more sorry for them.  I have a beautiful family with a loving husband and father of 19 years.  We share a history that is long and storied and can evoke emotion with a shared look because we know each other so well.  Our laughter comes from shared experiences that can never be replaced or recreated.  There is no uncertainty about our relationship.  There are incredible benefits that can be derived by spending years together on the Rollercoaster of Life. 

Being able to trust that he will be there to hold me during the weepy part of the movie, or to be able to read me so well that he can draw a hot bath and dismiss me for the evening after a particularly trying day with the children.  To be able to go out on a date in our hometown and recount endless stories that occurred at hangouts, intersections and houses through town. 

And best of all, when we get to the end of the night, no discussion is necessary because we are going to the home we created together.