Writing on Walls in Dallas

I visited the City of Dallas homepage to find out about the city I’m visiting right now. Surely there is something interesting going on here that would be worth a blog. The first thing on their page is “5 Tips to Fight Mosquito Bites.” Being from Louisiana, I don’t really find that interesting. That’s all we ever did was fight mosquitoes. They have a Graffiti Arts Project here that did catch my attention.

The mission of the Graffiti Arts Project (sponsored by the Dallas Police Department) is:

Seeks to provide graffiti artists an alternative to tagging and to redirect their creative energy in socially acceptable ways and earn public acceptance of their talent. Central to this project is creation of a series of public free walls and semi-permanent public art locations. In return the city gets pledges from all participants not to continue to tag elsewhere and, ideally, less illegal graffiti and to use their influence within their community to enhance the community’s appearance.

Apparently, it was getting to the point that graffiti was making Dallas look more dangerous than it was, and the DPD had a team of people who were constantly covering up graffiti as their full time job. It was becoming problematic to keep up with it. Attorney John Barr, who was dubbed the Graffiti Czar, had a soft spot in his heart for graffiti artists and had the below chat with London street artist Ben Eine.

Interview with Ben Eine

The project was launched in May at the Trinity Winds Festival. City officials launched it by painting their own graffiti on some designated columns. Graffiti artists now have legal places where they can paint graffiti in the city. I thought this was pretty cool. Maybe I’ll check some out while I’m here. Meanwhile, view these photos found on the web.

Enjoy this slideshow of Dallas “Legal” Graffiti.

For more on this story, click here.

Midweek Inspiration: The Gift of Laughter

 

The most wasted day is that in which we have not laughed.    

–Chamfort

I love to laugh. And, I have a really loud, contagious laugh. My bosses are always shushing me at work because I’m too loud. I can’t help it. I love to have fun, and I love to laugh. When my sister and I get together, we giggle constantly. I even get sick of it, but it’s so much fun. We’ve done it all our lives.

Wikipedia says that the average child laughs about 300 times a day. The average adult laughs around 20 times per day. I hate that. Why do we stop laughing? They say that laughter is healthy and it stimulates all kinds of good hormones. See the article on Wikipedia for the health benefits of laughter.

My grandfather and Daddy used to tickle us as kids. It was always fun for awhile, and then we’d beg them to stop. But, I loved it. I can remember all of us screaming, “Tickle me!” And, of course they loved doing it. The only thing better than laughing yourself is making someone else laugh. My user ID on Match.com starts with makemelaugh. It represents a challenge. The secret, though, is that everybody makes me laugh, so it’s not really that hard to do. :) My nephew Bryce always says to me with a kind of funny frustration, “Why do you LAUGH all the time.” Well, why the hell not?

Goofiness and laughter

In the darkest days of my marriage, I didn’t laugh much. I was depressed. I had a lot of worries and anxiety. Nothing was really funny, or at least I didn’t filter it that way. I was super sensitive, and, of course, to laugh, you sort of have to let go and feel free. I felt trapped and unhappy. My life just wasn’t conducive to laughing. I remember one night my ex and I went out with one of my girlfriends, and we laughed all evening. He noticed. When we got home, he said, “It was great to see you so happy. You never laugh like that anymore.” I really appreciate these times in my life when laughter comes easily and often.

I like to be funny, and I get that from my Dad. All of us King kids have a really wicked sense of humor. Some of it can be sarcastic and hurtful, though. Not everything can be turned into something funny. I had a sarcastic sense of humor until I was in my 30s. I began to realize that being the butt of somebody’s jokes wasn’t funny. It was hurtful, so I put some boundaries on myself to stop doing that. I still slip up every now and then, but I really do try to keep my humor pretty playful and not sarcastic. My ex would say mean things to me and then tell me he was trying to be funny. That’s a cop out to use humor to hurt somebody. Passive aggressive is the technical term. Ugh…

Laughing with my gal pals at my 50th Birthday Party at my friend Michael’s house

When I left Accredo, one of my coworkers in Cincinnati said over a conference call, “I’m really going to miss coming to work and hearing that laugh.” Could she hear it in Cincinnati?  I traveled a lot for Whirlpool in the 90’s, and I would be away for long periods of time. I remember I came back to the office after a long trip, and I was talking to some folks at the front door. One of my old employees came running up to me from around the other side of building. She screamed, “I knew she was here. I could hear that laugh.” How nice to be known and remembered for my laugh!

Laughing with a guy friend at Levitt Shell

Laughing is good for you. Its healthy. It gets your blood flowing. It lowers anxiety. It is bonding and connecting. There’s just not a lot of downside to it. I do have laugh lines on my face, but, as long as I keep laughing, you don’t see them so much. I think laughter is a sign of good emotional health, and I love hearing the laughter in the rooms of recovery. We sometimes laugh at things that other people would never see as humorous. My ex and I heard a man tell his story one night, and on the way home, my ex said,”I was offended by the laughing. That wasn’t funny. The stuff he was going through was horrible.” Yes, I said. It was. But, we laugh because we don’t have to live that way anymore. It’s the only way to make sense of it all.

Experiencing the Spiritual: Male and Female

One of the most fabulous things about recovery from addiction for me is rediscovering women. I never had a lot of women friends, and recovery really made me depend on them. It is suggested that most of my support come from the same gender especially initially. There’s the obvious reason for that in that you really don’t need the sexual temptations to complicate early recovery. But, I discovered another reason this weekend, and it totally fascinates me.

I went out to lunch with some friends from my 12 step group, and it ended up being an outing where I was the only woman among about 7 men. My first reaction was “This is my kind of party.” I actually didn’t know these guys really well, so I kind of just sat back and listened. I know…it’s hard to believe that I might be quiet, but I am sometimes. And I discovered something really interesting. It’s amazing how I learn things when I shut my mouth, open my ears and really be present.

These fellow recovery travelers began talking about Step 6 and their experiences with Step 5. Now, I’ve discussed these steps with women and, of course, my sponsors, but I’ve never heard it discussed quite this way. It was such a subtle difference that I wasn’t sure why I wasn’t relating to it right away. The way they described the Step 5 “relief” was so literal and so physical. One mentioned that he could feel a part of him fall away when he took some time to be by himself. Another started describing how his “ego reconstructed itself” when he relapsed. I don’t know if even quoting what they said would be enough to illustrate what I heard. When women talk about spiritual changes and shifts, it’s very emotional. It’s inside. It’s something not seen and only felt. It seemed as if these men were describing something they could see or maybe even touch. There were seemingly separate entities that moved away or came back or launched an attack. I have never described my shifts like that. It was just so different! I found it absolutely fascinating.

A few years back, I found a piece of literature called “A Woman’s Way Through the Twelve Steps” by Stephanie S. Covington, Ph.D. When I first got into recovery, I really had a hard time with the language of the literature that we used. To be sure, it was originally written by men and for a group that consisted of mostly men. The language of the program seemed harsh to me and sometimes it even offended me. I knew that this was the answer, so I just dealt with it. But, when I found this book, it helped me shift my perspective a little with more feminine language and a gentler feel, although nothing in recovery is really gentle. I even feel a difference in women’s meetings. We’re just more emotional, and I feel really comfortable in that energy. The mixed gender meetings have a different feel to me. They always have. This lunch just helped me understand why.

I could be totally off base here, but it seemed to me that the genders experience spirituality differently. I mean, God is God. And, if you believe we are made in his essence,  God is both masculine and feminine. There is both because masculine and feminine are different. Why wouldn’t we experience it differently? It makes perfect sense. We experience love, connection, communication and sex differently, too. Women are much more emotional, and men are much more physical. I was part of a women’s group where we were trained how to process our feelings and how to assist other women in processing theirs. There was a “brother” organization that did the same thing with the men. From what I understand, the men’s process work is about breaking down the physical and bringing them to a breaking point so they can access their emotions and be vulnerable. The first women’s weekend was set up the same way, but it didn’t work. Women need to be supported and led through a process that supports emotional ebbs and flows. Once they changed the process work to be more supportive and introspective, the women’s weekend was more successful.

I was really fascinated by the conversation at lunch the other day, and I feel pretty honored that I got to hear that and experience it. I talked to a male friend of mine in recovery tonight about it, and he encouraged me to write about it. I’ve mentioned the book, “A Woman’s Way Through the Twelve Steps” to another male friend, and he was very concerned that the language might be changed a bit and that it may take away from the program. And, that’s a valid concern. But, the steps don’t change. The essence of the program doesn’t change. It’s really just the feel and the energy of the program that allows women to describe spirituality in the emotional way that we feel it. I’m so glad I have the opportunity to see how both genders experience the power of recovery. And, I continue to crave more.

Girl Talk: Candy Kisses

“Women look like giant pieces of candy walking around.” a guy friend of mine said.

I laughed….because I always laugh at something out of the ordinary. He followed up with something about how most women might take offense at that. Well, he’s probably right, but I really think he has a point. What is candy anyway? Sweet, sugary, colorful, tasty, addictive, hard to resist and often wrapped up in colorful, enticing wrappings? It’s really about having fun, isn’t it and giving in to your desires. No wonder a man might think that about women.

I think that pretty perfectly describes us. To be sure, we’re deeper than all that, but he did say “looks like”. He didn’t say we were. I have to think of our obsession with clothing and accessories. To hear us howl with delight when we find that special item that just totally fits our personality. I have this little black and white ruffled skirt that I saw at Macy’s last spring, and I just had to have it. It was so “me”. I love that skirt. It’s just the rock in my roll! And, it’s not about the skirt, it’s about dressing to show myself off, to express myself, to “sell” what’s inside me, right? I certainly wouldn’t get that excited about a new pair of cargo pants even though that expresses the outdoor part of myself, but it just doesn’t have the same magic as selling my feminine spirit, my “sweetness”, that flirty attitude. I’m thinking it expresses the same sort of feeling as Starburst candy. Tangy, flirty, colorful, zingy, irresistible fun….Hmmmmm…..

What about chocolate? What’s not to love about chocolate? It’s creamy, dark and decadent. It’s the feeling of chocolate on my tongue that I love, though. OMG…it’s sweet, it’s rich, and the taste of it sends me into another dimension. It’s sexy in a whole different way than the tarty ping of Starburst candy. I think of my deep brown wrap top that I got off Etsy.com. That top paired with some Levi’s, the bronzey necklace I bought at a yoga retreat and a smoking hot pair of boots, maybe my new cowboy boots, certainly says I’m a piece of chocolate.

I love walking into those candy stores with barrels and barrels of old-fashioned candy sitting around. It’s colorful, and it’s fun, and you can pick out a little of this and a little of that. Don’t you think that’s what a guy feels like when he’s in a night club and there’s all these women dressed up in their “evening out” costumes? That’s the great thing about bars and dancing. You get to sample each other, having fun, making the rounds and dancing without having to buy. It’s simply a big candy store.

Candy….

Paula in Officer and a Gentleman told Zach, “I dare you not to fall in love with me. I mean, how can you resist? I’m like candy.” He assured her: “You’re better than candy.” She replied: “It’s going to be very hard to get enough. Very hard. Very hard.” And, I believe she was right, if I remember how that movie ended accurately.

Living: Running for Fun

My clothes were ready and colorful!!

 

I am a runner, although I haven’t run since last weekend. But, last weekend I had a blast running. I’m not very competitive, but I have been known to work really hard to beat my time in half marathons. Runners call them PRs (Personal Records), and it’s fun when you break them.

I ran the Women’s Running Magazine women’s half marathon in Nashville last weekend. I ran it last year with three friends that were virgin half marathoners. That was a blast to see people do something really challenging that they’d never done before. We vowed we’d come back in 2012 with some more first timers. It didn’t pan out that way, but three of us, Jill, Shelly and myself came back to run it again.

Totally hot guy that I had just had to flag down to take a picture.

I had not done any speed work or hard training this year due to other life priorities, so I decided early on that I would take pictures, talk to people and just enjoy the party. That’s what those big races are – moving festivals. They have live music, fun spectators, people running in costumes, great after parties and lots of food and beer. Runners are fun, and we like to party.

Before the race…

I love this women’s race for a couple of reasons. When you get over 4,000 women together to do something, it’s always fun. We support each other more than compete with each other, so it’s a very supportive and uplifting environment. Plus, we like to dress up. There are costumes, to be sure, but women see running clothes a whole different way than men do. We like colors and wild-looking stuff. So, it becomes another avenue to express yourself and your fashion sense.

This particular race has a 5K and a half marathon, so really anybody can do it. If you can walk a 5K, you can be part of the party. Last year, we even had a friend that didn’t run. She came to support us, and it was great to have somebody traipsing all over the race course helping us out and cheering us on. We missed Ann this year.

We shopped Friday night and had an early dinner at a mediocre restaurant. I bought a fabulous pair of Lucchese boots for half price. They had about 50 pairs of samples in my size for half price. Lucky me, only about 6 pairs of these exist, so they are practically one of a kind. I slipped them on my feet, and I thought I’d died and gone to heaven. Love those freaking boots! I wore them with shorts on Saturday. When in Nashville, …….

After a nap in the afternoon after the race, we, of course, went shopping. Franklin is not too far from Nashville and has some great boutique shopping. I spent a few bucks on a cool new dress for the winter.  Then, we dressed up and went out in Downtown Nashville for dancing and listening to live music. Rippy’s was recommended to us as the place to go, so that’s where we headed. As soon as we walked in the door, there was a table full of middle-aged men sitting there with a bucket of beer and smiles on their faces that smacked of drinking all day long. We started chatting immediately, and Jill leaned over to me and said, “Sharon, these guys are part of a group of 30 Detroit fireman here for a bachelor party.” I said, BINGO…put your purse down.”We danced all night. It was a blast.

I’ve never been so present for a race since I wasn’t worried about speed. I stopped and talked to spectators, chatted with other racers and slowed my pace to enjoy the sights and sounds. Enjoy the pics….gals…join us next year??

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Changing My Vocation

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In 2002, I realized I was miserable in my job. I was a Project Manager for Whirlpool Corporation working on Innovation Projects. The projects themselves were fun and creative, and I met some really interesting people and did some interesting work. But, I felt really unfulfilled, and I hated going to work.

I tried several solutions. I tried focusing on the positives and the things I enjoyed. I tried going part-time. Both of those helped somewhat, but I felt empty about what I was doing. The worst thing was that I really couldn’t see a path for a future at the company where I’d invested 10 years. I felt trapped. I talked to my therapist about it, and he suggested that I try career counseling.

I made an appointment at the local Community College in St. Joseph, MI to talk with a counselor. I met with her and explained my career history and my dilemma. I remember as a college graduate, I wanted to be a corporate executive. It’s where I set my sights. I have no idea why except maybe I thought there was some power and money in it. I certainly knew nothing about what the job might be like. It never occurred to me to understand what the day to day life of a corporate executive would be like before I worked my tail off to get there. It just seemed logical to want it. She suggested that I take two tests, the Myers Briggs Type Inventory and a vocational interest inventory.

My Myers-Briggs type is ENFP.The interesting thing is that one of the 10 LEAST favorite jobs for my personality type is a corporate manager. It would have been helpful to know that 25 years ago. Of course, I didn’t ask. My bad. So, at least I knew that I was on track and there was nothing wrong with me. The types of careers that were most satisfying to people like me are counseling, ministry, journalism, teaching and counseling. When I look at my past jobs, I did start out in the right direction intuitively and certainly not conciously. I majored in English Education with a minor in Journalism. I was also constantly being pulled into training roles in my jobs. So, the desire and the talent were there. Something kept moving me there.

I took some time to explore all of the above listed jobs. I wanted to get a Masters in Social Work or Psychology, but life kept getting in the way of my doing that. One thing I’ve learned is that when things don’t happen, it may be because there is a reason. So, having this knowledge, I just did my research and let God show me the way.

Eventually, my ex and I moved to Northwest Indiana to be closer to his children. Purdue had a branch close to that area. I got out their catalog and looked at the degrees for the careers I was considering. I was still in a state of confusion about which one I wanted to pursue, but I decided to just start walking and pick a direction. The rest, I figured, would present itself. Purdue had an Instructional Technology Program. This would give me a Masters degree with an emphasis in Training, Instructional Design and a variety of other skills that I could use in schools, corporate jobs and other settings. Okay…..I’m just going to do it. So, that’s how it happened. It wasn’t my passion. I wasn’t led to it. I just picked something and started moving.

Somewhere along the line I started praying that my career moves would be obvious to me. I know that God understands that I am risk averse in my career even though I’m comfortable taking risks in my personal life.

Getting the degree really helped me open the doors I needed to get the experience I needed in my field. It was definitely a positive move. I decided on a corporate job quite frankly because of the money. I’m single, and I need to provide for myself. I’m lucky enough to land in a company with a great culture that provides some work-life balance in the role I’m in. I like going to work today.

I’ve designed my life the way I want it. My job doesn’t fuel all my passions. I travel for fun…I make it a priority. I also write this blog which helps me connect with people with like interests. I trust that creating this life that I have will lead me where I need to be. And, I may already be there. But, I do sense that it is constantly evolving, and I don’t have to force it or obsess over it. If I keep moving in the direction of my heart, the paths will present themselves.

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Mid-Week Inspiration: An Addiction to a Possibility

What is codependency? A lot of people ask me that. That’s because it’s really hard to define. The best definition I ever heard of codependency was this:

Codependency is an addiction to a possibility. 

The first time I heard this description, I could tell it hit home with people because everyone in the room went “ahhhhhhh” with this great sense of relief and understanding. It just resonated. There may be many other definitions of codependency, but to codependents this makes perfect sense.

I was addicted to the possibility of:

  • My ex-husband getting emotionally healthy.
  • Being perfect.
  • Saying the right thing to change a situation.
  • Controlling and manipulating people, places or things to suit my needs.
  • Having a great marriage.
  • Life being different than it is.

That was my addiction. And, it was really painful. It was all about controlling my environment and distracting myself from my feelings by focusing on exterior solutions. It was really tiring because I was constantly trying to read people and my environment to anticipate what might happen. Once I did that, I had to figure out how to change things so the worst wouldn’t happen. Most of the time that meant changing someone else – and that’s impossible. But, I didn’t know that. I knew it intellectually, but I didn’t really get it. It flat wore me out.

Because I was addicted to a possibility, a fantasy, a dream…..I was not living in reality. It’s like being obsessed with the possibility that my dog might become a cat. First, I can try to talk her into being a cat. Then, I can try to entice her to act like a cat. And, if that doesn’t work, I can try to force her into being a cat. And, if none of that works, I would get angry and resentful at her because she’s not a cat. Sounds stupid when you put it that way, doesn’t it?

The reality of my life was that I did not know how to focus on me and take care of my own needs. I can blame my unhappiness on my ex or on my situation, but, in reality, I was the problem. I gave up taking care of myself because somehow I thought I could get my needs met through other people or other things. I just had to make sure they met them. I still sometimes find myself doing this. It just comes really natural to me.

Comfort is the big obsession I have. I have heard people say that people who are codependent or are addicts are addicted to comfort. That could be true, too. But, being comforted is also a real need. It just doesn’t need to be an obsession. If I’m afraid, I need to be comforted. Now, I look at my fear and let myself feel it. If there is something I can do to reasonably prevent an event from happening, I think through it and do it. If I have no control over it, I let it go. And, sometimes I have to comfort myself by calling a friend, getting a massage, attending a meeting, taking a nap, eating healthy food, praying, or journaling. I can comfort myself. What a revelation that was! And, how great- because I don’t have to convince myself to do something I need. I don’t have to manipulate and yell and get angry to get what I need. I just simply do it. And, the feeling passes. And, I feel better. My needs get met.

Part of taking care of myself was getting myself out of dangerous relationships. I had it backwards. I thought the relationship had to change. And that would be one way out. But, I also had to be respectful of the other person’s needs and desires. And his desire was for things to stay the same. Initially, I thought that meant that I had to put up with what was happening. But, one day I finally realized that I could see the relationship for what it was, accept it for what it was and make a decision that it was NOT for me. But, I had to let go of the fantasy, the possibility for me to make that decision. And, yes, it was very painful to let it go. But, it was painful to stay. Neither option was painless. I had a choice. Having a choice is the opposite of  having an obsession.

Codependency is an addiction to a possibility. Everybody’s obsession may be a little bit different. But, the addiction, the obsession, the relentless pursuit of relief is the same. It is relentless, and it seems that it’s the ONLY possibility. Recovery, for me,  is about understanding that there are many choices and many roads to taking care of myself. One of those ways may be asking for something from others. The key word here is ASK. They have a choice, too. And, I have to give them the respect to make their choices at the same time that I make my own. When I act like this, I’ve released the bondage of codependent behavior and started to heal. I’m learning to live in reality. And, that’s really comforting.

Spotting Emotional Unavailability

A friend of mine texted me yesterday…”New blog topic: how to identify when someone is emotionally unavailable.” How the hell would I know? That’s the type I fall in love with over and over again. I texted back, “Haha…I would have to figure it out before I wrote it. Well, maybe I see if they are attracted to me. If they are, they are.” I’m not a psychologist, but I love talking about this stuff, and I write a blog, so I guess I’m the one who needs to do the research.

Like all good researchers, I first googled “What is emotionally unavailable?” I don’t know why. I know as much about it as anyone on the internet does. And, by the way, I think I’ve googled this topic about 1000 times, so I already know what’s out there. There’s a picture of my second husband…that’s emotionally unavailable. (I know…that was a cheap shot.)

In my mind, emotionally unavailable is someone who is unable or unwilling to invest the time and energy into building a relationship. Sometimes people are emotionally unavailable as a character trait. These are the ones that have no idea that they are emotionally unavailable or even that there’s a term for it. I went out with a guy from Match one evening. I asked him what his three…yes, three…ex-wives said about him. He said they told him he was emotionally unavailable. I said, “Well, are you?” He said, “Probably.” That was one of the easier ones to figure out. Duh. I wish they were all that easy to spot.

I know I’m attracted to emotionally unavailable men. I married two of them. At the time, I didn’t know that was the case. They were workaholics and chronically depressed. Now, I was depressed, too, and I would assume that meant I was emotionally unavailable as well. How can I invest time and energy in a relationship when I am struggling with depression that won’t go away? And, with depression, my filters wouldn’t allow me to have a good view of reality, so I couldn’t really be present and engaged. So, we were perfect matches. In reality, I think a lot of people, both men and women, are emotionally unavailable.

What are some signs? Like I said, I’m not a professional, but this is what I look for:

  • Addictions like chemical dependency,  workaholism, gambling addiction, sex addiction, pornography addictions, untreated codependency
  • Eating Disorders
  • Untreated depression or chronic illness that occupies a large chunk of time and energy
  • Married, in a relationship or just out of a significant committed relationship
  • Overwhelming life responsibilities

That being said, some people are emotionally unavailable right now. I knew that I was emotionally unavailable for two years after I divorced because I was consumed with grief and was dealing with some significant personal growth work. I needed to make myself emotionally unavailable in order to heal. I totally walled myself off from potential relationships except with women who were also in a healing process. It was an incubator of sorts, I guess. I slowly let myself become more emotionally available in the third year, and it probably took me another year to test relationships enough to feel safe in being vulnerable and to invest myself. This is another reason that 12 Step Programs tell people not to make major changes or get into a relationship during the first year of sobriety. A person just can’t emotionally invest in a relationship and do really tough things like kick an addiction. The energy and focus has to go somewhere, and usually its going to go to the “easier” thing.

The problem is that most people are not aware enough of their feelings and their limitations to realize that sometimes they just need to take a break. Or, they are so unaware of their feelings and limitations that they don’t realize they are not capable of a relationship. Others are chronically emotionally unavailable. They don’t know they have feelings because all they do is use relationships to distract them from looking inside themselves. A person is just a substance to use to make them feel better. Still others have numbed out so much that they are just drifting through life, and relationships make them feel alive. There are so many reasons, but they all lead to emotional unavailability.

For a long time, I said it was hard to spot. It’s actually not that hard to spot. It’s hard to say “off limits,” especially if you like the guy. They are going to say they are available, they want to stop working so much, they just need to find the right person, etc…. So, I will start making excuses for him, and listening to what he says instead of watching what he does. My second husband was still married when I met him. Yes, he had been separated for over a year, but he was not divorced. He told me that he was “spiritually and emotionally” divorced. He was just waiting on the legal piece. I already really liked him, so I let it slide. If I met him now, we wouldn’t make it past the first date. First of all, he had no long term friends. Anybody that is healthy emotionally has some friends. Relationships are important to them, and they know how to work to keep them. This is now a deal-breaker for me.

It’s not hard to spot a person whose work is out of control, who is using alcohol or drugs excessively, or is not consistent in their behaviors if I am looking. When I was younger, I wasn’t looking. I didn’t know I needed to look. Now that I’ve felt some pain because of this, I pay more attention. I ask more questions, and I don’t give my heart away so quickly. I know some people can schmooze you and lie and con you. That does happen. But, for most people, they are so unaware that there is anything wrong with their lifestyle, they will tell you. I’ve heard all of these in the last two years:

“I’m a workaholic.”

“My ex-wife told me I couldn’t have porn in the house, so I subscribed to Playboy to spite her.”

“I’m a prick.”

“I’m not looking for anything serious.”

“My wife died last month. My friends told me I need to get out here.”

All of these are code for, “I’m not available for a healthy, committed relationship.” Now, they may be available for sex or dating or friendship, and that may be just fine. I have to be honest with myself, though. That’s as far as it will go. When people show me or tell me who they are, I listen. I honor them and myself enough to accept reality as it is. If I don’t, both of us may get hurt or angry or both. So, the question I have to ask myself is whether or not I am emotionally available and want a relationship. Because, if I am and I do, I wouldn’t want this. If I’m not and I don’t, it might be a perfect fit.  I have to live in reality.

Girl Talk: The Lyrics of Female Love

Jill, Me and Shelly before the Half Marathon this weekend.

Women talk. We talk a lot. Sometimes when I’m around a lot of women, even I get overwhelmed from all the talking. I remember when I went to Hawaii for a week with 17 women, I got so sick of all the talk one night I went to bed early. I just had to have a break. But, it’s the way we communicate. You can see it in little girls. They learn early on that talking is the way to relationship. Women are driven by relationship, and talking is the primary means by which we relate, especially to other women.

I just spent an entire weekend with two very good friends. The premise was that we were running a half marathon in Nashville. But, essentially, it was a girls’ weekend and time to talk. I’ve known Jill for 16-17 years. We met working at Whirlpool. We’ve never actually lived in the same city. We were members of a team that traveled to field branches, and we often were together at meetings and at work functions. The true gift of that was it sped up our bonding process. We would be in a strange town with only each other for company. So, we hung out together. In addition, there were no boyfriends (neither of us were married) or other friends or other life responsibilities to keep us distracted. We just spent a lot of focused time together. I’ve known Shelly for only about 5 years, but we just recently became friends through our running. We are really just starting to get to know each other as women. We also met at work.

It’s interesting how connection happens for me with women. I usually experience an initial “small talk” time where we sort of catch up on what’s going on, how they feel physically, or any variety of things that on the surface are happening in their lives. Sometimes we may stay at this level, and that’s okay. Some women can’t move past it out of their own fear or because they are just not in a place to get vulnerable. We can usually sense that from each other, and it’s not a problem.

Totally hot guy that I had just had to flag down to take a picture.

“So, what did you buy at the expo?” …….”I bought  two bras. I loved the ones I bought last year, so I bought some more. And, of course, I bought more headbands, haha…you know, if you buy three, you have to buy four to get that free one.!”

“So, how are your kids?”

“How’s work? Are you working less these days?”

Most of the time, because women are so moved by talking, we start to talk about deeper things, funny things, sad things and all the other things that bring up feelings. We are so emotional, and talking is the vehicle that we use to access our feelings.

“Do you still have your cats?”…..”I had to put my cat down last year. It was really hard. Brian was out of town, and I had the kids. It was really hard making that decision. I just never knew if I was doing the right thing. It’s hard to know.”…..”Yeah, I had to put my dog down a couple of years ago, and it was so much harder than I thought it would be. He was my dog before I got married, so it was the last of my stuff. It was really hard for me. I didn’t expect it.”

“So, are you still really hot for your husband after all these years?”…..”Yes, I mean I have to let go all of all the life stuff that’s going on, but, when it’s just me and him, and I can get in that place, he really does it for me. (giggle)”

“I feel like I’ve lost myself. I’m trying to get back to who I want to be. I just don’t know who that is.”

“I never thought I was attractive. This is the first time in my life that I’ve ever let myself feel this way, and it’s so much fun!”

“I remember realizing one time when I was pregnant that I was crazy. I just was really cognizant for a moment that I felt insane.”

Beautiful Jill

The talk goes on and on. It gets really deep and tense and emotional, and then we laugh and lighten up to ease the tension somewhat. It often feels like a roller coaster to me or like music the way it swings so high and low and fast and slow. It’s spiritually connecting, and it can be intensely bonding. I have had women friends whom I’ve barely known tell me things that they’ve never told anyone else on the planet. When it feels right, we say it. And, we don’t apologize. If this happens with a man, it usually gets really awkward for a minute, and they will use humor or minimizing to erase the tension. Women don’t really do that. Some do, but most are more comfortable with emotions.

And, the laughter is the most fun. OMG…We laugh until we cry. My face hurts after a weekend like this one because of how much we laugh. Everything is funny, and we tell stories and make fun of everything that happens. We tell story after story of when we were together the last time, what happened with old boyfriends, what happened with their kids, and so on and so on. I usually cry at least once, too. I know I cried this weekend when I was reading my blog “The Gift” to my friend Jill. If she was a man, she would’ve run for Kleenex or apologized for making me upset. Not women….we just witness each other’s tears. They are so normal, and sometimes we cry with them. That’s the best!

We went out Saturday night, and I felt so sexy and fun. It had nothing to do with my outfit or the men I met. It had everything to do with my time with my girlfriends. There were several bachelorette parties out this weekend, and we talked about how young they were. Were we ever that young? They have no idea what they are about to do. They can’t know. It dawned on me that I didn’t “get” it at that age, this connection with women. I remember thinking that alcohol could make me feel sexy and fun. Then, I thought that finding the right man would make me feel that way. What I’ve learned is that it’s not something that can come from the opposite sex no matter how kind they are. Those feelings come from the inside. They come from tapping into my feminine energy and becoming a woman that is sexy and fun. My connections with women build that in me. Those connections help protect me from the men and the substances that take away from my power. I’ve often heard that “men become men in the company of men.” It’s the same for women. We become women in the company of and in connection with other women. It’s important. It’s life giving.

I drove home from Nashville with a huge smile on my face. I wasn’t thinking about the dancing the night before or the great boots I bought or the race I ran, although all of that was fun. I was thinking of the words we shared, of the bonds we forged on this weekend. The three of us…so different in so many ways… but so much alike in our words, our lyrics, the music we make in life…I can’t wait ’til next year. There will be so much to share through the lyrics that we sing.

 

 

 

Living: Sticking it to Me

I’ve shared that I struggled with depression for many years. My depression has actually turned out to be one of my most blessed gifts. I know that may sound weird, but it has forced me to take care of myself, and the fear of it coming back keeps me motivated to continue living a healthy life. I know that my depression will come back if I don’t continute to exercise, keep my stress level low, treat my anxiety, minimize my intake of coffee and sugar and get acupuncture. I wouldn’t have discovered acupuncture if it hadn’t been for my depression.

My first acupuncturist was at East Wind Acupuncture in Chesterton IN. I went to her to try to get off my anti-depressant. She taught me a lot about Chinese Medicine and the difference between it and Western Medicine. I believe that both have their place. I use acupuncture to keep me healthy and prevent health issues. Once I get sick, I use Western Medicine as an intervention unless its something mild like a cold or stomach virus. Acupuncture works really well on colds and stomach viruses. I went initially for my depression, but I continued because of all the things acupuncture does for me.

This is the way acupuncture works. The needles stimulate the “chi” or “qi” which travels along the meridians in the body. Don’t ask me what they are, I just know they have some charts that show the meridians and the acupuncture points on the wall in my current acupunturist’s office. She, Marlene Bair, can probably tell you the scientific reasons it works better than I can. I know that when my chi is blocked in a certain area, and she sticks a tiny, hairlike needle in there, I can feel the chi jolt into action around the pin prick. It does hurt,  but it stops hurting as quickly as it started. If I get regular acupuncture, I find that I have more energy, I’m drawn to healthier habits, I crave healthy foods, and I have less pain.

I think acupuncture is pretty amazing. I had an upper back injury for about 5 years from lifting weights the wrong way. Keeping the pain at bay was one of the reasons I did yoga. One day when I was having an acupuncture treatment, I asked my acupuncturist if she could do anything about my back pain. She said she would try. She stuck a needle in my right hand. Within 5 minutes, I could feel the pain melt away….AFTER FIVE YEARS!!!! I couldn’t believe it. I literally felt the pain melt away as if it was butter dripping off an ear of corn. She told me that I was holding my emotions in that spot. I don’t know if that’s true, but I do believe that we hold emotions in our body, and I was going through the grieving process during my divorce. Whatever it was, it stopped hurting and didn’t come back.

This is what you can expect if you go to an acupuncturist. They will ask you a lot of questions about your emotional, physical and emotional life. In Chinese Medicine, they believe it is all connected. You will go to a quiet room where you can lie down. The practitioner will come in and place needles in a variety of different points that they deem necessary for treatment of your specific problem. Typically, I get stuck with about 5-10 needles. Then, I rest for about 40 minutes to an hour. The practitioner comes back and removes the needles. During the session, I get very relaxed. Some people sleep, but I rarely ever do. When I’m done, I always feel very balanced and centered, no matter what state I was in when I got there.

The best way to get an acupuncturist is to get a recommendation. There are a couple of websites where licensed Acupunturists are listed, but if someone you know has had a good experience, that’s the best recommendation. I recommend my acupuncturist to everybody, and I’ve never had anyone that was disappointed. I have sent people to her for menopausal issues, menstrual problems, depression, food issues, addiction problems and anxiety. I’ve heard it can help with infertility but I’ve had no experience with that. If you are in the Houston Area or in Memphis, I recommend Marlene Bair. She’s awesome and is really good with women’s issues. She has a gentle style and works with diet, herbs, aromatherapy and Reiki.

My friend Rachel who sees Marlene said, “I’ve never recommended acupuncture to anyone that they didn’t get some benefit from it. I know, for me, it keeps my pain and my fibroid problems at bay. I couldn’t work without it.” Thank you, acupuncture…anything that alleviates pain and promotes wellness is a gift to me.

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