Life Lessons That Are Just a Click Away

How many times have you seen the Wizard of Oz?  One? Ten? I can honestly say I have watched it dozens of times.  30-40 viewings would be a good estimate having had 3 daughters that loved the movie and watched it over and over again. I have watched this movie literally my whole life, every Easter weekend, as that is when it aired on TV annually. My most favorite part was when Dorothy sung ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.  Forget being intrigued by her beauty and magical voice, but the verse below would melt my heart.

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops,

Way above the chimney tops,

That’s where you’ll find me.”

I never thought about this until listening to an audio book by Oprah Winfrey last weekend, but could THIS be what I have been searching for? Was I looking for a place to escape to in order to NOT deal with my worries and stresses?  Somehow, the decisions I have made in my life actually took me far away from this peaceful place and to a different place where I became buried in heart break, betrayal, and abuse. But now that I have been clawing my way back, it literally just hit me… Could I have had the answers and directions in front of me this whole time?  Up until this point, I have always viewed the Wizard of Oz as just a movie about a girl and her dog in a magical place- Period.  There was nothing deeper.  I remember there had been some talk that the characters represented social groups of people and issues during that Era.  The Scarecrow supposedly represented the uneducated Farmers and the Lion represented the heartless Steel workers.  But my girlfriend Oprah just opened my eyes to another, totally different thought process.  So, if you have never heard this twist on what the Wizard of Oz could represent, you are in for a treat and you need to sit down and take some notes. 

There is no way my mom could have ever of viewed The Wizard of Oz from this perspective.  Clearly, I as a parent did not.  But I think this movie should be required viewing for all older children and young adults.  Not only to view it, but to dissect it and then have a serious discussion of the embedded messages and how we can ingrain these lessons into our sense of being. After listening to my audio book, I reflected on the circumstances of my life. I have long accepted how I have gotten myself into those messes as a result of my poor self-esteem. But now, I am comparing my life to some of these ‘Oz” lessons and thinking…HOLY CRAP!  I have mentioned in early posts that I am a slow learner and missed and/or ignored many red flags in my life. But these words of wisdom below seem to be the saddest and most unfortunate messages that flew under my radar. As I reach the milestone of the big 50 tomorrow, I want to share my perspective of these messages.  So, let’s get started! This is my life seen through the looking glass of Dorothy Gale from Kansas.

Do you recall this scene?  Dorothy says to her dog that they need to find “A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?”  Life is so hard.  I think we have all had a moment that we wanted to abandon the life we were living and just go someplace simpler. A place where there is no stress, no worry, no bullshit…a place of peace and love.   But as I have learned the hard way, that place doesn’t REALLY exist.  It would be nice.  But instead, we get a sampling.  There are periods of time we catch a glimpse of a happy go lucky life, but let’s face it,  a fair part of life is unfair, hard, and/or fucking complicated.

I deeply regret the amount of times I have allowed my heart to be broken.  Yes, allowed.  I was an active participant in my life, so I do accept responsibility for my role and refuse to play the victim role any longer.  But to go out on that limb time and time again to love, despite how much love had let me down, was a risk worth taking to me.  What would my life had been like if I made a different choice?  What if I gave up on love?  What if I hardened my heart?  What if I shut it down to the point that I no longer had a heart?  This isn’t impossible.  I meet heartless assholes all the time.  Hell, I have dated and married a few along the way.  But perhaps, if I didn’t have a heart, my life could have been different… easier.  But I would have never been happy living the life of a Tin Man.  I’m a lover, a broken heart was a risk I was willing to take.   I am glad I kept trying.  Look at the amazing love I am blessed with today. Learning forgiveness definitely aided in keeping my heart open to new possibilities. Forgiveness is probably the most important process of preserving a pure and open heart.

The Wizard says to the Lion, “You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.”  I have felt like such a loser for leaving two marriages.  I have closed doors on many friendships over the years as well, many long term friendships.  I used to wonder what is was about me that was so horrible at relationships.  And I truly believed, I was a coward…I ran away.  I quit because things were hard or made me uncomfortable. It took me years to gain the wisdom that no one, let me repeat this again, NO ONE has the right to make you feel like you are less.  NO ONE has the right to harm you, physically or emotionally.  NO ONE has the right to control you…tell you what you can or can’t wear, where you can or can’t go, who you can or cannot call your friend, or who you spend your time with.  NO ONE has the right to talk about you, betray you, let you down at your lowest point.  I had reason to be very fearful of parts of my past, Serious reason. And yes, I abandoned those situations. But I didn’t run away, I gained WISDOM.  The wisdom to understand that these behaviors are unacceptable.  The wisdom to understand that these things in my life were deviant. The wisdom to know that I deserved better.  The wisdom to know that friends aren’t envious, petty, or manipulative. I had developed the insight of knowing that although these people were important to me at some point and they played an important role, their purpose in my journey through this life was over.   I didn’t run away.  I wasn’t a coward.  I finally started to develop a sense of self-esteem.  My courage finally surfaced in my ability to confront these people and say that I had enough.  I had enough of all of their non-sense, but more than that was that I had enough of being sad to the core.  I was brave to leave people in my life that no longer, and in some cases, never served my best interest, despite how I may have loved them.  I finally realized that I was worth fighting for. 

Experience has definitely made me smarter.  As I said before, you begin to feel so foolish when you make mistake after mistake.  I actually left mistakes and then returned to them! I returned thinking things would be different this time, that I could change the root of who and what some people really are. I think that I am always sharing my twisted past in an attempt to give people a huge head up about me.   I want them to know that I am a person who made more bad decisions than most.  More importantly, I also want them to know that I am tough.  Tougher than a good amount of people they may have ever met and if they cross me or they are not genuine, they will be plucked from my life like an ugly weed, despite how my heart may feel about you.   Experience has helped me to separate my brain from my heart.  It has taught me who is good and who is not. Very few “impostors” slip through the cracks in my circle of friends, at least not anymore.  I listen to my instincts a lot more and avert relationships with similar people and circumstances that have burnt me in the past.  I have learned from each good and bad experience in my life.  Those big experiences have help shape me into a bit of a warrior of love.  My experiences have also forced me to change me for the better. 

In the Oprah audio book, she makes an interesting point about the three characters Dorothy encounters on her journey to get back home.  She suggests that perhaps they are disassociated pieces of Dorothy’s own personality.  Here is this defiant teen, trying desperately to happiness and along the way, she has to confront some broken pieces of herself.  She tries so desperately to run away from her troubles.  She isn’t feeling loved and understood by those around her (Tin Man).   She also is afraid to confront this insecurity in herself (Lion). With experience, she learns her self-worth. (Scarecrow).  What better representation of Dorothy getting on the right road to find herself than by the guidance of the beautiful Glinda.  Glinda is a true representation of how beautiful we really are deep down inside.  Could Glinda have also been a representation of Dorothy subconscious?  The Wicked Witch of the West clearly served as the obstacle in Dorothy’s life who forced her to face each of these fears and weaknesses. Think about the situations in your life that served as obstacles?  What was the breaking point that pushed you to finally face your fears?  For me, it was a fierce desire to no longer let my children down.  My goodness, what a horrible disappointment I must have been at times.  I was driven to make sure my children were safe and felt loved. I strived to become a person they could trust and admire.   An important scene is after the witch threatens Dorothy.  “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!” Glinda reminds the Wicked Witch that she has no power over Dorothy in that situation.  Isn’t this the truth with all of us.  In reality, we have the power in our lives, not our fears.  When we are in crisis, we cannot see that we have power because we are unsure, scared, broken.  But it is there.  Step back.  Breathe.  Focus hard.  Your strength is in there.  You just have to melt that nasty old witch telling you otherwise.

It takes courage to look within.  For some of us, that is a jagged pill to swallow…facing the things we need to change about us.  However, if we reach way deep inside, we will eventually discover that we do have the power to change our lives and always have. It’s not lost, it’s just forgotten or misplaced.  This lesson is one that I wished I had learned so much earlier in life.  I didn’t gain any magical powers along the way in life.  I didn’t learn a new skill to deal with my life or combat my own demons.  I simply began to like me better.  I became the same advocate for myself that I was for others.   I grew up with the Catholic guilt in believing it was a sin if we were selfish.  I confused selfish with self-care.  It is not selfish to take care of yourself first.  IT IS MANDATORY. When you fly on a plane, they tell you that in the event of an emergency situation, if oxygen in needed, you should put it on yourself first and then help others afterwards.  There is no possible way to take care of others when you are a hot mess yourself.  My decisions to stay in certain situations literally left me suffocating emotionally.   It is mandatory for your physical and mental well-being to be kind to you and to help yourself.  If you are still struggling as you read this, click those heels of yours three times and get your ass in gear! Find your power

It is a natural response to run away from danger.  If you are not physically doing it, your body is most certainly doing it through its Fight or Flight response.  This roller coaster of ups and down we are riding on is aging us and for some, it can literally destroy you.  We all want to escape our stress and responsibility at times.  But we are not solving the problem.  It is still there and trust me when I tell you….it waits for you.  In increases in size and intensity. It turns into the flying monkeys, ripping you apart a lot like they ripped apart poor Scarecrow.   I ignored, pretended, and hid the truth. I became so good at it that I should have won an Academy Award for my performance!  I started to believe my own lies.  I didn’t trust me or my judgment.  I was afraid if I faced my problems, I would rock the boat, make them worse.  I was lost.  I had no idea who the hell I even was at time.  The more I looked outside myself to solve my problems, the further I got from actually solving anything. I believed things like if I just cooked better, things would get better.  If I just lost weight, things would get better.  If I  got my marriage blessed in a church, things would get better.  Crazy, right?  Well guess what?  I did all of those things and dozens more…and nothing changed.  It didn’t change because although the situation was indeed broken and needed to be fixed, I was broken and needed to be fixed.  And once I saw that and believed in me, I became stronger and things fell into place.  Not over night.  Not even over a decade.  But I am making progress and so can you.

Dorothy finally realized by the end of the move that she possessed everything she ever needed to be happy and return to Oz and her home and eventually, so did I. I started to come back home me, MY thoughts, MY beliefs, MY strengths.  It wasn’t solved by external factors; it was solved by coming home to me.   I really never lost me, I just misplaced me.   Home is within you if you look hard enough!  And finding yourself is as great as coming home from a vacation and finally getting to sleep in you own bed. Ah! There really is no place like home!

When I was lost in my land of Oz, I honestly believed that I could be enough and love enough for everyone!  My love could FIX things…marriages, friendship, finances, etc.  I didn’t know, or perhaps I forgot, that I deserved to be loved too. I forgot that I deserved to be loved and respected by others, especially people like my husband or friends. My forgetting that, I grew to dislike me so much, that this thought was just not plausible.  My heart was broken because’ I ‘ failed to fix my life and  I became exhausted by giving out all of my love. I was running on empty.  I gave my love to people who seriously did not deserve it.  And not only were they not worthy of it, they sucked me dry and never cared enough to return some love, not even a little bit.  Once I allowed my self to be loved by me, the rest began to fall into place.  And I want to make it clear that I don’t mean the love of a man, I am talking about finally feeling the love from myself, my parents, siblings, children, clients,  and yes, eventually the love from a great guy, and amazing, selfless friends.  I am home!  MY. HEART. IS. SO. FULL!!! I know many people struggle with these issues; I still have some of my own that I will tirelessly work on.  But our life is shaped by the people we meet along the way. Remember, the barriers you come across have no power over you in your home.  Stay the course.  Follow the yellow brick road.  Trust and love yourself.  Be brave and walk away from things that are not good for you.  Learn from your experiences.  And the most importance lesson of all…Persevere Bitches!

Life Lessons That Are Just a Click Away

How many times have you seen the Wizard of Oz?  One? Ten? I can honestly say I have watched it dozens of times.  30-40 viewings would be a good estimate having had 3 daughters that loved the movie and watched it over and over again. I have watched this movie literally my whole life, every Easter weekend, as that is when it aired on TV annually. My most favorite part was when Dorothy sung ‘Somewhere Over the Rainbow’.  Forget being intrigued by her beauty and magical voice, but the verse below would melt my heart.

“Someday I’ll wish upon a star

And wake up where the clouds are far behind me.

Where troubles melt like lemon drops,

Way above the chimney tops,

That’s where you’ll find me.”

I never thought about this until listening to an audio book by Oprah Winfrey last weekend, but could THIS be what I have been searching for? Was I looking for a place to escape to in order to NOT deal with my worries and stresses?  Somehow, the decisions I have made in my life actually took me far away from this peaceful place and to a different place where I became buried in heart break, betrayal, and abuse. But now that I have been clawing my way back, it literally just hit me… Could I have had the answers and directions in front of me this whole time?  Up until this point, I have always viewed the Wizard of Oz as just a movie about a girl and her dog in a magical place- Period.  There was nothing deeper.  I remember there had been some talk that the characters represented social groups of people and issues during that Era.  The Scarecrow supposedly represented the uneducated Farmers and the Lion represented the heartless Steel workers.  But my girlfriend Oprah just opened my eyes to another, totally different thought process.  So, if you have never heard this twist on what the Wizard of Oz could represent, you are in for a treat and you need to sit down and take some notes. 

There is no way my mom could have ever of viewed The Wizard of Oz from this perspective.  Clearly, I as a parent did not.  But I think this movie should be required viewing for all older children and young adults.  Not only to view it, but to dissect it and then have a serious discussion of the embedded messages and how we can ingrain these lessons into our sense of being. After listening to my audio book, I reflected on the circumstances of my life. I have long accepted how I have gotten myself into those messes as a result of my poor self-esteem. But now, I am comparing my life to some of these ‘Oz” lessons and thinking…HOLY CRAP!  I have mentioned in early posts that I am a slow learner and missed and/or ignored many red flags in my life. But these words of wisdom below seem to be the saddest and most unfortunate messages that flew under my radar. As I reach the milestone of the big 50 tomorrow, I want to share my perspective of these messages.  So, let’s get started! This is my life seen through the looking glass of Dorothy Gale from Kansas.

Do you recall this scene?  Dorothy says to her dog that they need to find “A place where there isn’t any trouble. Do you suppose there is such a place, Toto?”  Life is so hard.  I think we have all had a moment that we wanted to abandon the life we were living and just go someplace simpler. A place where there is no stress, no worry, no bullshit…a place of peace and love.   But as I have learned the hard way, that place doesn’t REALLY exist.  It would be nice.  But instead, we get a sampling.  There are periods of time we catch a glimpse of a happy go lucky life, but let’s face it,  a fair part of life is unfair, hard, and/or fucking complicated.

I deeply regret the amount of times I have allowed my heart to be broken.  Yes, allowed.  I was an active participant in my life, so I do accept responsibility for my role and refuse to play the victim role any longer.  But to go out on that limb time and time again to love, despite how much love had let me down, was a risk worth taking to me.  What would my life had been like if I made a different choice?  What if I gave up on love?  What if I hardened my heart?  What if I shut it down to the point that I no longer had a heart?  This isn’t impossible.  I meet heartless assholes all the time.  Hell, I have dated and married a few along the way.  But perhaps, if I didn’t have a heart, my life could have been different… easier.  But I would have never been happy living the life of a Tin Man.  I’m a lover, a broken heart was a risk I was willing to take.   I am glad I kept trying.  Look at the amazing love I am blessed with today. Learning forgiveness definitely aided in keeping my heart open to new possibilities. Forgiveness is probably the most important process of preserving a pure and open heart.

The Wizard says to the Lion, “You, my friend, are a victim of disorganized thinking. You are under the unfortunate impression that just because you run away you have no courage; you’re confusing courage with wisdom.”  I have felt like such a loser for leaving two marriages.  I have closed doors on many friendships over the years as well, many long term friendships.  I used to wonder what is was about me that was so horrible at relationships.  And I truly believed, I was a coward…I ran away.  I quit because things were hard or made me uncomfortable. It took me years to gain the wisdom that no one, let me repeat this again, NO ONE has the right to make you feel like you are less.  NO ONE has the right to harm you, physically or emotionally.  NO ONE has the right to control you…tell you what you can or can’t wear, where you can or can’t go, who you can or cannot call your friend, or who you spend your time with.  NO ONE has the right to talk about you, betray you, let you down at your lowest point.  I had reason to be very fearful of parts of my past, Serious reason. And yes, I abandoned those situations. But I didn’t run away, I gained WISDOM.  The wisdom to understand that these behaviors are unacceptable.  The wisdom to understand that these things in my life were deviant. The wisdom to know that I deserved better.  The wisdom to know that friends aren’t envious, petty, or manipulative. I had developed the insight of knowing that although these people were important to me at some point and they played an important role, their purpose in my journey through this life was over.   I didn’t run away.  I wasn’t a coward.  I finally started to develop a sense of self-esteem.  My courage finally surfaced in my ability to confront these people and say that I had enough.  I had enough of all of their non-sense, but more than that was that I had enough of being sad to the core.  I was brave to leave people in my life that no longer, and in some cases, never served my best interest, despite how I may have loved them.  I finally realized that I was worth fighting for. 

Experience has definitely made me smarter.  As I said before, you begin to feel so foolish when you make mistake after mistake.  I actually left mistakes and then returned to them! I returned thinking things would be different this time, that I could change the root of who and what some people really are. I think that I am always sharing my twisted past in an attempt to give people a huge head up about me.   I want them to know that I am a person who made more bad decisions than most.  More importantly, I also want them to know that I am tough.  Tougher than a good amount of people they may have ever met and if they cross me or they are not genuine, they will be plucked from my life like an ugly weed, despite how my heart may feel about you.   Experience has helped me to separate my brain from my heart.  It has taught me who is good and who is not. Very few “impostors” slip through the cracks in my circle of friends, at least not anymore.  I listen to my instincts a lot more and avert relationships with similar people and circumstances that have burnt me in the past.  I have learned from each good and bad experience in my life.  Those big experiences have help shape me into a bit of a warrior of love.  My experiences have also forced me to change me for the better. 

In the Oprah audio book, she makes an interesting point about the three characters Dorothy encounters on her journey to get back home.  She suggests that perhaps they are disassociated pieces of Dorothy’s own personality.  Here is this defiant teen, trying desperately to happiness and along the way, she has to confront some broken pieces of herself.  She tries so desperately to run away from her troubles.  She isn’t feeling loved and understood by those around her (Tin Man).   She also is afraid to confront this insecurity in herself (Lion). With experience, she learns her self-worth. (Scarecrow).  What better representation of Dorothy getting on the right road to find herself than by the guidance of the beautiful Glinda.  Glinda is a true representation of how beautiful we really are deep down inside.  Could Glinda have also been a representation of Dorothy subconscious?  The Wicked Witch of the West clearly served as the obstacle in Dorothy’s life who forced her to face each of these fears and weaknesses. Think about the situations in your life that served as obstacles?  What was the breaking point that pushed you to finally face your fears?  For me, it was a fierce desire to no longer let my children down.  My goodness, what a horrible disappointment I must have been at times.  I was driven to make sure my children were safe and felt loved. I strived to become a person they could trust and admire.   An important scene is after the witch threatens Dorothy.  “I’ll get you my pretty, and your little dog too!” Glinda reminds the Wicked Witch that she has no power over Dorothy in that situation.  Isn’t this the truth with all of us.  In reality, we have the power in our lives, not our fears.  When we are in crisis, we cannot see that we have power because we are unsure, scared, broken.  But it is there.  Step back.  Breathe.  Focus hard.  Your strength is in there.  You just have to melt that nasty old witch telling you otherwise.

It takes courage to look within.  For some of us, that is a jagged pill to swallow…facing the things we need to change about us.  However, if we reach way deep inside, we will eventually discover that we do have the power to change our lives and always have. It’s not lost, it’s just forgotten or misplaced.  This lesson is one that I wished I had learned so much earlier in life.  I didn’t gain any magical powers along the way in life.  I didn’t learn a new skill to deal with my life or combat my own demons.  I simply began to like me better.  I became the same advocate for myself that I was for others.   I grew up with the Catholic guilt in believing it was a sin if we were selfish.  I confused selfish with self-care.  It is not selfish to take care of yourself first.  IT IS MANDATORY. When you fly on a plane, they tell you that in the event of an emergency situation, if oxygen in needed, you should put it on yourself first and then help others afterwards.  There is no possible way to take care of others when you are a hot mess yourself.  My decisions to stay in certain situations literally left me suffocating emotionally.   It is mandatory for your physical and mental well-being to be kind to you and to help yourself.  If you are still struggling as you read this, click those heels of yours three times and get your ass in gear! Find your power

It is a natural response to run away from danger.  If you are not physically doing it, your body is most certainly doing it through its Fight or Flight response.  This roller coaster of ups and down we are riding on is aging us and for some, it can literally destroy you.  We all want to escape our stress and responsibility at times.  But we are not solving the problem.  It is still there and trust me when I tell you….it waits for you.  In increases in size and intensity. It turns into the flying monkeys, ripping you apart a lot like they ripped apart poor Scarecrow.   I ignored, pretended, and hid the truth. I became so good at it that I should have won an Academy Award for my performance!  I started to believe my own lies.  I didn’t trust me or my judgment.  I was afraid if I faced my problems, I would rock the boat, make them worse.  I was lost.  I had no idea who the hell I even was at time.  The more I looked outside myself to solve my problems, the further I got from actually solving anything. I believed things like if I just cooked better, things would get better.  If I just lost weight, things would get better.  If I  got my marriage blessed in a church, things would get better.  Crazy, right?  Well guess what?  I did all of those things and dozens more…and nothing changed.  It didn’t change because although the situation was indeed broken and needed to be fixed, I was broken and needed to be fixed.  And once I saw that and believed in me, I became stronger and things fell into place.  Not over night.  Not even over a decade.  But I am making progress and so can you.

Dorothy finally realized by the end of the move that she possessed everything she ever needed to be happy and return to Oz and her home and eventually, so did I. I started to come back home me, MY thoughts, MY beliefs, MY strengths.  It wasn’t solved by external factors; it was solved by coming home to me.   I really never lost me, I just misplaced me.   Home is within you if you look hard enough!  And finding yourself is as great as coming home from a vacation and finally getting to sleep in you own bed. Ah! There really is no place like home!

When I was lost in my land of Oz, I honestly believed that I could be enough and love enough for everyone!  My love could FIX things…marriages, friendship, finances, etc.  I didn’t know, or perhaps I forgot, that I deserved to be loved too. I forgot that I deserved to be loved and respected by others, especially people like my husband or friends. My forgetting that, I grew to dislike me so much, that this thought was just not plausible.  My heart was broken because’ I ‘ failed to fix my life and  I became exhausted by giving out all of my love. I was running on empty.  I gave my love to people who seriously did not deserve it.  And not only were they not worthy of it, they sucked me dry and never cared enough to return some love, not even a little bit.  Once I allowed my self to be loved by me, the rest began to fall into place.  And I want to make it clear that I don’t mean the love of a man, I am talking about finally feeling the love from myself, my parents, siblings, children, clients,  and yes, eventually the love from a great guy, and amazing, selfless friends.  I am home!  MY. HEART. IS. SO. FULL!!! I know many people struggle with these issues; I still have some of my own that I will tirelessly work on.  But our life is shaped by the people we meet along the way. Remember, the barriers you come across have no power over you in your home.  Stay the course.  Follow the yellow brick road.  Trust and love yourself.  Be brave and walk away from things that are not good for you.  Learn from your experiences.  And the most importance lesson of all…Persevere Bitches!

What if I am not ‘Enough’?

Have you ever looked in the mirror, saw your own the reflection, and thought…”? Who the FUCK are YOU?’ There is nothing more perplexing than being so disconnected from…well…you! I can’t be the only person who feels one way on the inside and the complete opposite on the outside, Can I?   This is probably the reason I find myself drawn to those silly videos of children on Facebook who have this outrageous self confidence that I am still struggling to find.  I have to say, one of my favorites is the little chubby girl who is flinging her hips side to side, while shaking her finger with attitude to Aretha Franklin’s RESPECT!  Why, oh why, isn’t being almost 50 and chubby with a sassy misdemeanor so endearing???? Ugh!

I have blogged about how I think I developed such a poor self-esteem.  But I don’t think I started out with any form of self-esteem at all, good nor bad.  I do know the formulation of my self-esteem bloomed from what and who people told me I was: Big nose, chipped front tooth to make my buck teeth stand out even more, short curly hair, stocky build…all negative. Sadly, I cannot remember one time looking in the mirror and saying to myself….” DAMN GIRL!” Not even to date.  I have 2 very different opinions of who I am.  I am this outer shell that is damaged and cracked but this shell has done its job in carrying me through this life so far. I am not fond of my outer shell at all.  Then I have this very different perception of who I am at the core.  I have done so much work in this area.  Before, my perception of the outside and inside used to be very similar: Self-loathing all around.  That was sort of my secret at the time.  I can remember hearing Smokey Robinson’s song “Tracks of my Tears” for the first time and almost crying. 

“People say I’m the life of the party
‘Cause I tell a joke or two
Although I might be laughin’ loud and hardy
Deep inside I’m blue

So, take a good look at my face
You see my smile looks out of place
If you look closer it’s easy to trace
The tracks of my tears.”

That was the first time I really understood how good I was at hiding how broken I was. But I have made real progress on liking who I am at the core, despite my struggles to align that with how I feel about my physical appearance.   

I have worked over the years to repair the damage the actions that others instilled on my body and soul.  I have become a self-help book, magazine, and talk show junkie. I am not sure where my life would be if it wasn’t for the wisdom and guidance of people like Oprah, Iyanla Vanzant, Deepak Chopra, Joel Osteen and Eckhart Toole,  Although my blogs up to this point have talked about how broken and damaged I had become through my life’s experiences, my work over the past decade has been significant enough that I do like myself for the most part.  I am a good person.  STOP, I am, for anyone who just giggled.   Don’t get me wrong, if you cross me, I will take you out.  But I am good, and my heart is even better because I have learned that although there were many times, I couldn’t help myself, helping others has bridged that disconnect within and has made me more empathetic and caring towards others, including myself.  And here is where I now experience a strange and painful disconnect with who I feel like I am within and the person I see on the outside.

 I have tried to like the outside.  And I have found some things I really can appreciate.  I like my eyes.  They are my dad’s eyes.  When I look in the mirror, I can look past all my flaws when I focus on my eyes.  My eyes are now getting tired looking with age.  The fine lines and bags are hard to ignore, but they remind me of my dad, so I tend to look past the imperfection that surrounds them.  I have also developed an appreciation for my skin, but even that is beginning to fail me as I have been diagnosed with precancerous cells from my years of sun worshipping and I will spend a few weeks this winter undergoing a chemical peel through a chemotherapy type cream.  But there is where I draw the line regarding the things I like about my face. 

I have taken my body and face shaming to insane levels. I have never been the person I had hoped I would be in that department.  I am no stranger to plastic surgery.  The mean taunting of a horrible stranger led me to be terribly self-conscious of my huge bump in my nose.  What bump you say???  EXACTLY!   The ridicule of an ex pushed my self-loathing of my body to the extent that I tucked my belly and lifted my boobs (I know…they still need some more lifting…all in good time).  Somewhere along the line, as much as my weight has been a constant source of stress for me, I have allowed my weight to creep up and up.  I have honestly lost and gained the same 50 pounds for over a decade.  I have been on a roller coaster of several diets…so many, that I can no longer keep track.  I have even woken up some days committed to Weight Watchers and by dinner, I am in a restaurant ordering wings and I thinking, “Aww, screw it…I’m on Atkins now. Waitress, throw in a Tito’s and Club!”  And even at my current age, I am undergoing a second round of braces in the form of Invisalign.  Oh, and let’s not forget the Botox trial that made my forehead and nose resemble a female version of Herman Monster?  On second thought, I think it’s best for us all to leave that story where it lies, in my twisted past.   

You have probably seen a certain saying on Facebook stating, “I AM ENOUGH!” I do not need to be what society says I should be.  I am enough just the way I am.  I have not had the easiest paper route, but I persevered.  I have survived devastating relationships and turbulent and heart-breaking parental challenges.  Regardless, I owned a very successful business with about 75+ employees across 4 states, my business has helped hundreds, no, honestly thousands of children with disabilities over a 10-year period.  I try hard to be a good wife, mother, daughter and sister. I am a friend that will move mountains to help you.  I love to a fault. I am more than enough.  I am entitled to every wrinkle and stress line I wear on my face; the ones that time is making more prominent lately.  And if I am overweight, who cares…I am enough. I am not morbidly obese.  I have earned the pizza, the wine, and the piece of chocolate I sneak when I think no one is looking.  I deserve it all.  I am enough!  My mouth could easily say those things, but my heart was singing a different tune. 

In my search to find inner peace and balance, and to confront my weight demons, I tried a little experiment. I GOT NAKED!  I did this to accept and live comfortably in my well-deserved “Enough” body. This was such a terrifying experience, that I literally stopped in my tracks, threw back on some clothes, downed a double shot of Petron in seconds, and thought to myself, WHAT THE FUCK!   However, I was committed to doin this thing I have avoided for years.  So, yes, I got naked once again and glared into the mirror. I am a ‘lights out’ girl, if you know what I mean, and I only own one full length mirror that I almost never look in, so this was a big deal for me.  I resolved that I was going to take a hard look at myself in the mirror, in my most vulnerable state and accept all that I am and all that I have endured.  I was going to accept this god given human form that supported me through the good, the bad, and the ugly of my life. 

At first, I didn’t know where to begin, so I started at the top.  I looked at my hair.  Darn it…I always wished I had long, thick hair.  But I got thin, curly hair that is ok with me at this point. Hair extensions have helped.  Next, my attention went to my eyes.  They are tired.  But the sleep I lost over the years gave me time to reflect on moving forward, which I did successfully, so in all sense of the term, my eyes are ‘enough.’  I looked hard at the scar on my forehead from when fell in my driveway as a child, the one above my eye from the truck door flinging back at me when I got out while dropping my kids off at my mom’s on my way to work, and the one on my chin that I have no recollection of but it clearly required several stitches.  All battle wounds were classified and tucked away as things that made me strong.  I then focused on the new aging and sun spots on my cheeks and neck.  As horrible as they now appear, they represented years of summers at the swim club and on the beach creating memories with family and friends that somehow kept me sane in the tumultuous world I lived in.  All Blemishes were accepted and tucked away as a well-deserved price to pay for such great times.  My torso was a bit more brutal to look at objectively.  I observed the 2 incisions under each breast from my lift which helped release insecurity of sagging boobs a bit, the ones that endured engorgement of breast milk 4 times and bore the stretch marks to prove it.  Then, there was the scar between my breasts from the mole removal.  Remnants of an afternoon in a friend’s pool slathered in Crisco Oil…what the hell were we thinking??  Next came my most recent scars. 6 small incisions that span across my stomach in a semi-circle fashion from the 4-hour surgery to remove 2 significant tumors and help the oncologist rule out ovarian and /or uterine cancer.  The successful surgery and residual scars are a small price to pay for the peace of mind it gave me: Accepted and tucked away in my memory . Scanning lower, I observed the significant scarring from hip to hip from delivering my breach 10 lb. 7 oz son.  Overlapping the C-section scars, my body displays a significant tummy tuck scar which aided in removing the excess abdominal fat from the weight gain I went through being pregnant and delivering a baby at almost 38 years old and never losing the weight permanently.  All of these ‘battle wounds’ are well-deserved scars of a life that I was, somehow, no longer ashamed of.  I scanned down my legs to the scar on left knee from where I nearly bled to death in an early-age leg shaving accident. Adjacent was a scar I sustained from running from the cops in a raid at a beer party in the woods as a teenager.  All battle wounds were classified and stored in my memory as proof that I was a stupid teenager, but boy I had some great times.  My final scar was the one I bare on my inner left foot.  The one that represents my first, real heart break from a boy.  Mission accomplished.  The front is done.  I AM ENOUGH.  My body, and all its imperfection serves as a road map to 50 years of love and loss.   I finally did a quick spin around and examined my naked derriere. 

Let me start my saying that God is an extremely cleaver being having the hindsight to put our eyes in the front of our head and our ass in a place where the eyes cannot see easily or on a regular basis.  The split second I turned around to evaluate the back of me, panic struck.  UHM, NOPE!  Reality hit me square in the ego.  I quickly dressed and opened a bottle of wine.  My rear end was most certainly ‘Enough’.  In fact, the backside of me was MORE THAN ENOUGH! Enough for me and perhaps another person or two.   And then it occurred to me how silly this saying “I AM ENOUGH” can be for some people.  I am NOT enough.   Not for me. 

Please don’t misunderstand and think that I am trying to fit into society’s expectation of being perfect.  I am not starting a new cycle of finding faults. That is not it at all.  I do accept most of me.  But I honestly believe its perfectly fine to want to be the best version of yourself…and my legs and ass are not, to my standards, an acceptable version.  I want more and better for myself.  It would be so easy for me to continue to justify my weight.  In doing that, I am justifying and accepting a state of being that is not healthy.  I think I said this before, I have no desire to be a twiggy thin person.  One, my frame was not made for that, but two, I like my curves…they are just too curvy for me right now.  So, I will continue my endeavor to achieve change, but in doing so, I vow to be kinder to me.  I vow to continue to find the good in me.  I vow to do the best I can to be kind to and help others.  I vow to use gratitude to show me that this life is good, and I contribute positively to it.  And I vow to get on the treadmill and try all kinds of lifestyle changes to bring the rest of my body in line with a version of me I can finally find peace with.  I encourage all of you to love you enough to do the same.  Be the best version of you!  Find your version of being “Enough” and work towards it.  Don’t look for perfection.  It doesn’t exist.  But self-love and acceptance is possible.  Do the work to find it. That is my plan. Persevere Bitches!

Love is Love…it’s that simple!

I believe in a God that is good and loving. My God is merciful, forgiving, and peaceful.  This is the state I strive to achieve each day in order to be closer to my God.    My God is not the hateful, vengeful or punishing God that I was raised to fear through my Roman Catholic upbringing.  You know, the God that will strike you down with lightning for your sins and send you to burn in hell for eternity; the God who we learned will seek retribution for our wrong doings.  I do not have a God who would be so wicked.  I believe my God has created every one of us.  He has made us to be unique so that our world would be filled with diversity and perhaps, so that we could learn from each other and appreciate our differences. 

I believe humanity consists of some bad things such as ego, hate, jealousy, greed, conceit, and prejudice.  I live trying to find my balance between not getting myself caught up in these human traits and living a more enlightened path to earn my place in paradise.  I can say that the older I get, I feel that I am living a life in which my see-saw teeters heavier on the spiritual side as I am more aware of how my human instinct of feeding my ego weighs negatively on my heart  and I can breathe easier and sleep better when I ignore the ego and follow my conscience.

I firmly believe love is love.  I have been blessed to have friends from many walks of life.  I have a good number of friends from the heterosexual gene pool as well as the homosexual gene pool.  I have always had a keen ‘gay-dar”.  So, no one has snuck onto my friend list by mistake.  I choose my friends for their spirit and hearts, for the positive energy they give off and the love they exuberate.  I choose my friends by the way they make me feel and I can only hope that I reciprocate those feelings and add positivity to their lives.  I do not discriminate because of a person’s race, religion, sex, political views (although some people try my nerves in this department), nor their sexual preference.  I believe there are great people from all these groups, and I believe there are some real assholes in each as well. 

I have worked very hard to pass this well-rounded love of all onto my children.  I can recall a time we spent a few days on a gay beach in Rehoboth, Delaware while my kids were in their early teens and on the last day, I asked them if they noticed anything different about the beach we have spent at least 4-5 days on by that point.  They all looked at me very confused.  I said, I want you to walk from one end of the beach to the other and tell me what is different.  They walked up and down the beach and came back and said, “We have no idea.”  I said, “You did not notice that there are mostly women on this part of the beach and only men on that part of the beach?”  They laughed and said, “Well, now that you pointed it out!”  My work was done! They had no idea we spent the week on a lesbian beach and all the homosexual males were on the next beach.   They spent the week noticing how similar we all were and did not notice how different we were.

I am a mom of 3 adult daughters and 1 pre-teen son.  There is nothing they have in common but me.  My girls have all participated in dance lessons, like the little princesses I raised them to be, although, they have played every sport.  My son is trying to figure out the world of sports as he was blessed with more artistic, musical and academic talents.  My youngest daughter was the athlete of athletes!  Everything that kid tried she excelled at.  She spent her teens living at a boarding school on an ice hockey scholarship.  During her second year of high school, I was driving her back to school after Spring Break.  As I looked in the rear-view mirror, I saw tears falling down her cheeks.  I asked what was wrong and she said…I need to tell you something.  My heart sank.  She is not someone who cries…ever!  I couldn’t imagine what she was about to say.  I asked her to give me a chance to pull over so we could talk and so I didn’t have an accident in case it was bad.  By time I pulled over she was sobbing.  What could be so terrible and upsetting?  I finally asked, “What do you need to tell me?” She began, ” You know that girl so and so from my school?”  she cried. YEA??? “Well I like her.”   OOOOOKAY??? I respond.  And she cried harder.  ” I ‘like her’ like her?” 

As parents, our obligation is simple.  We love our kids…love is love!  It is supposed to be an unconditional, undying love.  Obviously, if you are Charles Manson’s mom, that may have been a significant bridge to cross, but a parent loves their child. PERIOD! A parent’s love should not be based on a standard or an expectation, ” I will only love you if….” We do not love our children only if…. I still stand dumb founded when I hear that a parent will disown their child because they are gay.  Let’s go back to where this started.  I believe in a God who loves.  There is nowhere…NOWHERE…NOWHERE…NOWHERE in the Bible that states that God does not approve of homosexuality.  This is the breaking point for some parents of gay children. It’s where their love ends. Somewhere down the line, ignorant humans, with their large egos, have interpreted the Bible to fit their agenda; An agenda of bias and hate.  One of the most referenced statement in the bible for the homophobic Christians refers to God’s disapproval of the Sodomites.   Look it up, it is there!  God disapproves of Sodomites.  Our so-called Christian leaders have used this term to prove God’s law against homosexuality.  Let me let you in on a secret!  That is not what Sodomite means! Did you know that God destroyed the city of Sodom in the time of Abraham in the Old Testament because of its evil inhabitants?  City of Sodom…Sodomites.  City of Israel…Israelites.  Get it?  The bible is not referring to anal sex, to gay men or homosexuality?  Come on… Jesus, the son of God, loved Mary Magdalene…a prostitute!!  If you really believe your God does not love the person he created, who happens to loves another person of the same sex AND if you believe this same sex love between good people will result in them burning in hell, then you need to go find yourself a new God and religion. 

My response to my daughter was one of a little bit of disbelief. “Are you trying to tell me you are gay?  Let me tell you something, when you were 2 years old, I enrolled you in dance school.  At the recital, while all the other kids danced, you threw your tiara into the crowd and laid on the stage ripping at the crotch of your tutu in tears.  You went on to wear only boy clothes and play street hockey.  You clearly are NOT blowing my mind right now.  But what does make me sad about what you are telling me is that people are mean.  And I understand that this is more accepted in today’s society.  However, people will still be mean to you and judge you for this and this makes me sad because no one wants their kids to be hurt.  But rest assure, you are NOT blowing my mind.”

I see people and their hate towards others…their ugly prejudice. What I will never understand is how can any parent turn their back on their child because of who they chose to love, especially if that person is a good person who loves them back?  Isn’t that what we want for our kids…for them to find love and for someone to love them back?  Love is love! The thought of a parents hate towards their child destroys me.  The story of my daughter being gay is not my story to tell, but I can tell my perspective as being a parent of a gay child.

As much as homosexuality is accepted in today’s society, I did not live most of my life in the presence of people of the same gender in intimate relationships with each other. I would be a liar if I said to you that having a gay child was an easy thing for me to get used to. My daughter being a Tomboy was something I grew accustomed to over many years. Trust me, I wrestled her to the ground to get a dress on her for a holiday or a special occasion. Once she was openly gay, the first couple times she was affectionate or lovey dovey with her partner in my presence was a jagged little pill to swallow.  This had nothing to do with her and everything to do with me.  Although not “prejudice” or judgmental of her choice, my lack of exposure to same sex intimacy made their display of affection feel ‘wrong’ because of my ‘programming’ in this area.  And as she becomes more comfortable with who she is in terms of her style and sexuality, I still catch myself a bit uncomfortable with some of her choices.  Again, not because she is gay, but because she is different…stands out…and I don’t want anyone to talk about her or hurt her. Plain and simple!  I am a Mama Bear like no other and I will rip your throat out if you hurt my child.  I didn’t have that conviction for myself, but I do for my children.  I can tell you that after 10 years, it’s still is a little odd for me at times to deal with homosexual issues but here’s the beauty…it’s not about ME! They are not my issues. My only issue is to love and support my child.

My overprotective nature and lack of experience also didn’t make me the ideal parent at times either.  I attempted in a loving way to sway her a bit along the way by teasing with her about the fact that it was so unfair that she got the great hair and wore it in a bun or ponytail all the time.  I also wanted to choke her for wearing a suit to her sister’s wedding rather than a bridal party dress.  I tried to play the “I’m the mom and I said so” card with my adult daughter to make her wear a dress for this special event.  I also found myself compromising with her….”Ok, I’ll give you the boy outfit, but you need to have a girl hairstyle and some lip gloss.”    I have said to her several times over the years….”You are so beautiful…why can’t you be the chick in the relationship and wear that dress.”  Although she would always laugh and tell me to get over it, I sometime wonder if my teasing and requests hurt her or made her think that I really did not accept her for who she was.  Yes, my motherly instincts want her to be like everyone else as a protective mechanism. Maybe I am trying to protect me. I reason with myself by thinking that I just want my kids to be accepted and included in all things no matter how old they are. I don’t ever want them to be the kid I saw bullied and teased when I was a child.  But I assure you, her sexual preference has no impact on how much I love her or how quickly I will go to bat for her if someone treats her unkindly.  

I love and truly admire my daughter.  Her decision to be openly gay at such a young age was extremely brave.  I admire her for her courage to talk to me about it.  I admire her for trusting me.  I admire her for being true to herself and not being someone or something for someone else, not even for me.    I admire her for being able to light up a room with her smile and personality, even in her suit and tie. I admire her for being kind and good hearted.  I admire her for trying to be the best version of herself during the chaos of her trying to figure out who she even is and what she actually wants out of life. I only want happiness for her.  That is my greatest dream and prayer for all my children, despite their sexual preferences. 

I sometimes think that parents that can disown or not accept their gay child may see something in their child that they do not possess themselves and it causes a fear and maybe even a resentment.  Maybe they see the courage to not live within the boundaries of a society or religion.  Maybe they see the courage to stand independently and live and love despite the challenges of that lifestyle.  Maybe they see someone who is true to themselves and willing to do whatever it takes to live the life their God created and intended for them to live. To those type of parents, I would like you to ponder this. You should be horrified if your child grows up to be a mass murderer.  You should be heartbroken if your child becomes an addict, thief, or prostitute. But nothing…none of these things should make you disown or even dislike your child, even if is as simple as being born gay.  I hope just one parent, who may think this way, reads this and reconsiders their decision.  I hope that you learn that love is love, for all of us.  And if you don’t learn this lesson, I hope you are prepared for how you will explain your hatred to your God when you meet him at the gates of heaven.  ‘Cause you’ll have some explaining to do!  In that I feel confident. Persevere Bitches!

About Me!

I consider myself a normal person. I am a good wife and mom, in my opinion. I mean, I get gifts on special occasions and Mother’s Day, so I guess my family thinks I am ok too. I try hard to be a good person and a good friend, but I have a low tolerance for bullshit, and I can leave a relationship in a second if it is bad for me…this is a newly acquired skill.

I have a long history of being the unfortunate lover and mate. I can honestly make a statement that most relationships I have been in have been based on lies and deceit. I have spent tons of money in counseling and self-help books trying to figure out why. Why did he cheat or me? Why did he lie? Why did he beat me? Why did the unthinkable happen? What is broken in me that makes men treat me like this? Why do I choose this type of person over and over again? Is it a deep seeded betrayal by my father at a young age??? Nope. Could it be that I was not loved enough as a child?? Hmmm. Maybe, I mean, I am number 7 of 10 children…how much love was really left over for me? Could it be I am a glutton for punishment and perhaps a slow learner? Definitely a yes on that one. But the short of it is this…I have spent most of my life in that state which is a bit depressing when you think of it. It has broken parts of me so bad that I fear I may never heal.

But do not cry me a river yet because I am one who gets right back on the bike once I fall off. I finally have reconnected with the love of my life!!! My high school sweetheart and I finally reunited after a 25-year hiatus. Yeah me! And life has been a fairy tale. Right up to the second he was diagnosed with cancer last Thanksgiving. So I finally get an amazing man who loves me and I am slowly (closing in on an 8 year recovery) building my self-esteem again and now the universe wants to fuck with me. Oh, did I mention I curse a lot?? We will get into why I do that another day. But yes, this amazing man strolls back into my life, stealing my heart, and then gets sick. His cancer has been in remission for one year now and counting. So, suffice it to say, I have not and will not give up on that love story so stay tuned for more about him!

As a mom, I have definitely fucked up more than most. Although, I can say that I have done many things right too. I got pregnant at 18 which put a damper on dorm living in college, but I worked like a crazy person to earn my master’s degree and push my kids to be successful. What better way to shove it up the asses of all those people who judged me for that, right? I am averaging 75% on the task of raising successful children as my kids are 30, 27, 25 and 12. No typo there…12! Why? Because God has a sense of humor. So, I have about 10 years to go before I can achieve that 100% but I am working on it. However, the things I have done wrong, I have mastered at doing wrong.

Addiction did not discriminate when it came to my family: Grandparents, siblings and even one of my children. It is a cruel and insidious parasite. It knows no boundaries and does not discriminate…but we are fortunate to be winning in that department as well…one day at a time.

In terms of my physique, I am an average looking girl. Not ugly but not gorgeous. I was an ugly duckling for most, if not all of my teenage years…chipped front tooth, braces, big bump in my nose. Talk about things that damage a kid. I never was a skinny girl and most likely never will be…as one of my first boyfriends pointed out. And no matter how much weight I lose, I will always have a fucked-up body as my first husband felt the need to remind me. So somewhere along the line, my body aligned with the mean words of others…but I do work at it. I would love to have a rock hard, lean body…but I would like to have pizza and wine too. I am trying to figure out how to have both.

In terms of my profession, I am excellent!!!! I have given 100% and have seen the rewards in hundreds of my patients in my over 25 year and counting career. Because this is an area that all is well, I will rarely ever talk about my work, unless it’s to talk about how to work hard in business or survive being bitten or peed on in the workplace!

So why blog? I am a storyteller by nature. Being bit of a Gladys Kravitz has helped to fuel my story telling skills. Did I just give away my age with that Gladys statement??? But I am constantly torn by events in my life. I am a Libra so when things are out of balance in one area, they are out of balance everywhere. I have found since my husband’s illness, that I worry incessantly which is caused by these horrible scenarios that I create in the Cerebral Cortex of my brain which in turn activates my Amygdala therefore causing physical symptoms like stomach pains and sleepless nights. I guess I should also mention again that I read lots of self-help books to self-diagnose in which I typically misinterpret to make things in my life a bit crazier. In any event, I thought that if I blogged, if I could formulate my experiences and stories into this blog, that perhaps I could see them for what they are, just things that have happened in my life and not who I am. I also thought that in doing this, I could come to terms with the bad ones to let them go, reminisce about the good ones, and perhaps help someone else along the way.

My life has not been easy, but I have found the good in most situations. So let’s get this started. Strap on your seatbelt’s bitches, the ride will sometimes be bumpy!