The Sweet Spot

So, my loves, I find myself at the pivotal point in dating where you start defining what will work and what will not. We’ve made it through the accelerated fire of the initial phase where all is perfect, magical and intense.

We’ve so far successfully passed the intrusion of reality and differences in communication styles that bring confusion, second thoughts, second guessing and the confabulation that naturally occurs with a lack of information.

We make shit up when we don’t know, don’t we? Communication must have dwindled to feeble and generic because I stumbled into some bad lighting, spoke a little too honestly, showed a little too much of my heart, or holy shit…

Maybe I’m not all that and a bag of chips after all.

I’m happy to say that while I did lock into “chick mode” for a short time, I snapped myself out of it and asked what I wanted to know. Then let it go to unfold as it would. We are both busy people with family, friends and work. I wouldn’t long be dating a guy who didn’t put his kids in the priority position. I wouldn’t respect or admire that at all.

It seems that even the most authoritative, confident communicators tend to falter a bit and struggle when it comes to their personal relationships. I get that. I used to hesitate plenty, edit too much and accept too little. Not any longer.

Life’s too short to bullshit and play games so I just say or ask what matters to me.

I love that he does the same, even when it’s hard to find the words. I love wrapping my arms around the intrusions of reality that I quietly waited for, wondering what would become of us then. Would he take the easy way and ghost? Guarding a potential treasure is hard work. A lot of us aren’t up to the task because we haven’t learned how rare it is to find like hearts and endless potential.

But some of us know this well, and hold the line.

This is what I can report of my findings thus far…when I see his face, whether it’s after 4 hours or 4 days and I ask him how he is, and he wraps me up, brings me close and just breathes me in…

It is still for me, perfect, magical and intense.

No matter what intrudes.


The Beatitudes

For those of us who have wondered at the wars and the rumors of wars that come with keeping the faith in the possibility of the perfect date, I present to you proof from the front lines…

I have to write this down while it is fresh in my mind. My findings are astonishing.

He will text you, then call you, then ask to meet you. He’ll call you before you leave home to make sure you know where to go and when. In spite of knowing you can kick ass and take names if you have to, he will ask what you drive so he can look for you, and open your car door when you arrive so you will not feel awkward walking in alone to meet a stranger.

From the moment he sees you and for the 3 hours that follow, you will know that you are the most beautiful, interesting, intelligent and intriguing woman he has ever known.

You will, for the first time, believe it without any doubts.

He will take your jacket, pull out your chair, look at you as if he’s won the jackpot. His confidence lacks any arrogance that repels, he’s strong enough to be easy in the touching of your shoulder, your hair, your hand.

Not once do you have to defend your space because he guards it himself.

You’ll talk with the ease of years and the fascination of new, a sense of recognition in each surprise uncovered. You’ll wonder why it’s effortless when everything has always been hard.

There is a mutual wonder that you’re next to each other, breathing the same air…

It’s now what I call Star Date 13 and we’ve been together 11 of these days. I begin to over-analyze as I am wont to do when faced with something new and amazing…

Dating someone strikes me as a potentially religious experience. When I went through the phase of studying various religions, I remember the universal feeling that was the base of each one before individuals (or groups of them) bastardized them into rituals of ego and self-validation.

They both start off with the feeling of love, wonder and open-ness don’t they? Then you begin to sink in over time, and carefully unwrap layers of the unknown. This is when human nature kicks in and you may begin to uncover (much to your dismay) the actions and attitudes of burning the witch and stoning the harlot when you don’t match up to their pre-conceived notions of you.

You find yourself at times uncovering those who try to buy their way into heaven with shallow kindnesses and thinly veiled corrections while consigning you to “hell” with their judgments based on who they wish you/they really were. This is the beginning of the end of times.

The celebration becomes silence, the glory dims and the dreams fade to gray.

This is only one possibility. The other is that you embrace and enjoy the wonder of each other, accepting every damn thing that made each of you into the person that has rendered the other star-struck. You welcome the story of every trauma and heartbreak that gave you the sum total of the human being who has chosen to be with you.

You may decide to guard the treasure, fight the demons of conformity and become more than the sum of your experiences thus far. You could let go of the shit that limits you to everything you’ve had before and gives you a miracle.

It’s an option.

Blessed are the brave at heart, for they shall know love.


Some ways of thinking have perplexed me my entire life. One of them is the way people need to “type” people around them.

“He doesn’t seem like your type.”

“They don’t look like they go together.”

“What does he/she see in her/him?”

It baffles me how we think we know stuff like this at a glance. What we look like can be fleeting, who we are is a constant discovery. Beautiful exteriors can hold beauty, or ugly, or emptiness inside. Surely the decision of whether or not to give someone our attention is worth the time to excavate some of what they hold beneath the surface.

I’ve met people who appeared to be physically stunning at first  who became uglier the more I learned of them, and average looking people who became so mesmerizing that to this day I can recall the flecks in their eyes, the tiny chip of a tooth, the way that they laughed and most of all the way they made me feel when I was with them.

I’ve known those who gave much to the world and sacrificed greatly for others who weren’t willing (or never learned how) to invest in a personal relationship. There are those with the gift of  beautiful words and dramatic performance who did not develop the heart and truth to breathe it into reality.

They were hollow.

Then there are the sleepers, the “type” who bring who they are to the table, and when they do it matters not at all that every head didn’t turn when they walked into the room.

What matters is that your heart recognized a master at living and giving.

What we truly need is to be (and enjoy being with) the “type” of person who is willing to grow, learn and invest time and attention into ourselves and others. To tell our stories, to hold hands and offer shoulders upon which to cry our tears, to travel and discover, uplift, laugh and enjoy.

We are supposed to excavate our hearts and take the time to discover what blends beautifully with what we uncover in one another. I don’t get the “types” and the checklists and the requirements we push on others without holding ourselves to the same standards.

A priceless jewel discovered by the untutored eye is still priceless. In the hands of a master, in just the right setting, it will be breath-taking.

As will the hearts we each hold within us.


Rules of Engagement

I shall document the days that follow, not for future generations, but for the men and women who now find themselves in a similar circumstance as the kind I am facing now.

Fortunately, I have friends of both genders and a variety of ages to educate me in the changes that have occurred in the world of…dating.

Being removed from the dating scene for 29 years by the bonds of holy matrimony, I kept myself under house arrest for the two years that followed my leaving to make sure I had sorted through the contents of my heart and mind. I wanted to be sure that I didn’t perpetuate any behavior that would turn my life into an endless Ground Hog Day.

It’s a fact that no matter what else changes, you take yourself where ever you go.

So when I told my friends I was no longer afraid to let myself date, I got plenty of advice. The first of my three besties has been on a campaign to get me to create an online dating profile. She even went as far as to create a fake profile to show me who was out there, and I was astonished to see they all fell into one of three categories…

Young enough to raise, too old to care for themselves, and are you kidding me.

I got as far as a user name and password, which made her very proud of me, and then I said, “Oh hell no”. She did still give me massive credit for going that far so I’m good, and she did teach me a lot of acronyms that made my hair stand on end and pulled the plug on 99% of the sites I saw. She keeps me in the know.

My second bestie suggested church groups for singles which made me want to hug her so hard because she loves me so much that she wasn’t even thinking how stressful that would be for the church-going fellow. I’m a bit too expansive, too open-minded, and too much of a seeker to be anything but a calamity in that type of a hook-up. I’ve studied all religions and attach myself to none. What I know and experience spiritually is always open to questions and new knowledge as it is revealed. She is such a kind and amazing person, I wouldn’t ruin her cred by taking her up on that. She keeps me grounded.

I’m pretty sure God nodded her head and agreed with me when I made this call.

My third bestie pretty much rolls with whatever comes and expects me to keep her up to date and let her know when I figure this shit out. She’s been with me through multiple acts of God (floods), the loss of our homes (floods), and loss of our spouses (death and divorce). She doesn’t give advice, we have round table discussions, and I venture forth and report my findings. She keeps me real.

Apparently I need to update my competence to match my confidence when it comes to today’s dating practices. My DIL was willing to take me dancing when I wanted to go but had to school me on the new rules of never leaving your drink unattended, what it means now when a guy buys you a drink, and how some kinds of dancing would cause me to possibly injure the other party for going where he wasn’t invited. Needless to say, we decided not to go there.

Whew. I am perplexed as how to continue, but I will persevere.

I have considered the idea of creating a site that combines youth and experience, romance and wild-ish, intelligence and laughter, with a healthy dose of reality. Conversation, fun, adventure and a touch of drama where appropriate.

There must be others like me out there saying “WTF?”.

I should start a podcast, take it to the people. There is a world between the unsolicited dick pics, DTFs and the graveyard shift. I know it in my heart. My people are out there.

I must find them.


The Refinery

Are you done? Are you where you want to be? Have you given all you have to offer?

I’m not. I haven’t. And it totally pumps me up.

We all have these things we think about doing, being or giving. We whisper them if we speak of them at all, because we tell ourselves that we’re too old, it’s too late, it seems too egotistical to offer what we know through our experiences. What a selfish, cowardly way of thinking. We don’t want to put ourselves out there for somebody to flay. We’re protecting ourselves while telling others to live large, honest and brave.

I don’t have a doctorate in anything, I have a business degree. But I’m out in the fucking field just like you. Every single day brings a new thought. Do we date or wait? Do we spend or save? Do we change jobs or stay where we are? Are we still in that relationship because there is still something to learn or are we just cowards? Do we drop the fancy bullshit and show who we are or keep playing the game that leaves us lonely no matter who we’re with?

We’re not too old to start over if we’re starting over. Every day we wake up breathing is just one more day in the refinery burning the gold of us to the surface to be skimmed off and offered to the world. It’s one more day to forge ourselves into a blade that cuts through our own bullshit to live a life that offers value to those around us.

I listened to a Gary Vee podcast today where he suggested (quite strongly) that everyone spend some time in a retirement home talking to those who lived there. Not just because it’s a decent thing to do, but because you will learn from them what regret looks like, or conversely, satisfaction. I was horrified to realize that I was a walking retirement home myself, full of regrets just waiting to happen if I didn’t say, “screw this” and get my ass in gear.

We’ve got priorities to set, things to learn and shit to do people.

At least I do. This refinery is open and active.

Are you in?

Full Circle

In the beginning there was empathy and compassion throughout my being. I felt the pain of those around me, cried tears over their hurts and became distraught if I upset anyone for any reason. I wanted everyone to like me, be happy, have only good things happen to them. I knew that if I were in charge of the world, I could make everything be wonderful for everyone.

Then I was promoted to my first management position and got stomped into the mud. The first couple of times I had to let someone go, I was so upset at ending their ability to provide for their family that they comforted me.

“It’s okay,” they would tell me as they hugged and patted me, “it’s not your fault that I keep calling in and people catch me at the fair or the movies or the mall.” Or, “You told me 3 months ago this was going to happen if I didn’t start showing up on time, please don’t be upset”.

After many disappointments and illusions lost, I turned to the dark side.

If I could not love and care these people into happy lives, then by god I would force them into it with my great and mighty authority. I developed the look, the tone, the walk and the strategy to make almost everything go the way it needed to go for everyone to get what they said they wanted. I was loved and hated with equal passion through those years. I got the degree, read the books, watched the videos and took to heart the lessons from (technically the greatest professional of all time)…my mother.

I knew shit.

The love for, and priority of my son’s upbringing caused my decision to step away. During that glorious hiatus, I learned a very valuable lesson that has carried me through the stages of the past few years.

I don’t need to be somebody to be somebody.

In the resting place of caring for my family and being responsible for only the work I did,  I began to learn that power over self trumps any fictitious power I thought I had over anyone else’s life choices. Unfortunately, the lesson didn’t root deeply enough. When I stepped back into management, I did something extremely foolish.

I picked the world up again, and carried it with me.

Being the stubborn, obstinate and contrary person that I obviously am, it took a major shake up for me to let the fuck go. People have the right and responsibility to earn and learn their own rewards and lessons. I do not have the right to “save” them from themselves or take their potential wisdom away just to make myself feel better by making their lives easier. There’s always something to face, that next thing, and if they are not strong enough how can they win?

Enabling is not empowering. It is the exact opposite.

Honestly, it is so hard for me not to jump in when I shouldn’t. It’s just as hard not to let others jump in and save me when I know I need to feel the pain of something. But I know myself well, and try to respect that others deserve the same chances to grow in the face of resistance. Which is the only way any muscle is built.

So after all these years, I have finally found my way back to the heart of me that empathizes, hurts and cries for another without stealing the struggle needed to grow strong. With some spine, hard-learned wisdom, and the ability to support without invading another’s choices I am gaining much needed ground in my own peace of mind.

*Just don’t ask for my thoughts on a matter unless you’re ready to hear it.

*disclaimer =)




The Player

Emotional manipulation really chaps my ass. To me it’s just half a notch down from the tie for loser slot number one of physical or verbal/emotional abuse of one human being to another.

It’s such a hard boundary for me now that for a while I was over zealous about not allowing anyone to know how I felt or when I was struggling. I was so horrified by my own experiences that I couldn’t let my people be my people when I needed them.

I have since learned the difference between allowing love and using love for gain.

To be fair, (and I struggle mightily with this topic) it is a sometimes subconscious skill learned when a person gets what they want by crying, or whining, or weaving a sorrowful tale of childhood, or mommy or daddy weren’t what I needed, life’s been hard on me…

blah, blah, blah.

You don’t know my story and I don’t know yours, but I do know this. There comes a point in every life where you are old enough to choose who you are going to be. You had a bad childhood? Decide to be the parent you always wanted. Belittled and bullied growing up? Make the decision to uplift and protect those weaker than you.

You decide whether to perpetuate or change your family legacy. You. Decide.

Here’s the hard thing, the thing I personally struggle with every damn day. I can’t save you. Nobody can save you but you. You may not know you’re being played the first time, but after that baby, you are a supporting character in the show of their sob story.

I know these things because I’ve done them myself. 

You’ll despise yourself for it while you keep the game in motion. You’ll rationalize how they just need a little more love, a little more time, a little more understanding. You’ll keep giving them what gratifies them and feed the monster that feeds their weakness and your own.

You’ll tell yourself that you gave everything, you understood, you were supportive, you were loving and gracious and forgiving. You will say you deserved better than the stomping you took from this person. Originally, yes you did. Yes, I did. But did I deserve the injuries I sustained? The damage I had to repair? The ass-kicking I took emotionally?

You bet I did, and nobody is taking that lesson away from me.

My only hope in writing this is that someone, somewhere will stop and wonder for just long enough, if they are allowing themselves to be manipulated instead of loved. To ask themselves honestly if they are actively helping in the injuries to their own hearts. To consider that maybe they are worth more than the life of involuntary servitude that they have given themselves over to.

We each have such heart, beauty, love and courage inside of us. Please see it. Feel it.

Pull yourself free and give who you truly are to us. 

We need you.



Good Friday (from the Book of Shell)

Good Friday is an appropriate time to consider dying to those behaviors, feelings and actions that are toxic don’t you think?
If you’re sad, lonely, depressed, anxious or angry…
Consider getting out of yourself and reaching out to someone who needs you to step up…
There are two reasons we go through trials and tribulations. The first is to learn something we have refused to accept about our lives, beliefs or behaviors. The second is to help another through the minefield we just survived.
That’s it.
Don’t waste your time weeping, wailing and gnashing your teeth, (yes, I have a biblical theme flowing in honor of Good Friday) get away from the story of you and lead a brother or sister through the desert. Or dessert. Both have a positive influence on your state of mind.
It is scientifically proven that gratitude and generosity to self and others positively changes your physiology, your brain function and your emotions.
Give your time, lend your ear or shoulder, sister can you spare a dime? Do something, even if it’s to save yourself and see what happens.
I have a friend heading just now into waters that have almost overcome me the past 2 years and I realized with some relief that there was a fucking POINT to it all. We are here for each other and to teach each other to stand for ourselves! Our people need us, WE need us.
We are here to be a light for those we love, a lesson, a witness, a support, a hand to hold, a loving silence that says…
“No matter what, I am right here.”
On this wonderous Friday, I worked late when we normally don’t work at all and as I was just heading home, the poor guy I was married to for 29 years texted that his battery was dead in his new truck. I did a u-turn, allowed him to jump his battery, and followed him to the grocery (where we picked up a few things each of us needed) just to make sure his truck would start again. He would do the exact thing for me. And he bought me some wine! Win/win.
We are here to learn love never dies, it just transforms.
My point is this. When it is time for something to “die” there is a mourning and learning period (I will call this Saturday) and then we rise again, less our ignorance and more than we were capable of being before our trauma.
Self-imposed or not.
Think of this in the tomb-like silence after the heart-break, in the wtf wondering of it’s purpose, in the slow and appalled realization of the knowledge you have previously chosen to ignore.
There is a reason to rise again, to move the stone, to appear as the you that may not be readily recognizable to those that knew you before. They need you to spread the good word. They need to know the way to stand back up when life has beaten you bloody and killed your spirit and who you thought you were is nothing but a distant memory.
They need to know there is that time to rise.
They need to know it’s possible.
Happy Easter…I bid you rise, and go forth.

The Power Of Grace

It happens if you’re very fortunate, that all of your accumulated “lessons” from your shit decisions are revealed to you all at once, wrapped in a big ass bow surrounded by grace, which is by its definition completely undeserved.

I taught myself at a very young age to forgive immediately anyone I felt had harmed me in any way. I found that I was able to find joy in life easier by letting go and understanding that the more free and generous I was in redeeming the behavior of others towards me, the more the universe would be pre-disposed to offer the same to me.

Glory halliyooyer.

I have not, until recently, offered myself the same kindnesses and it has taken a horrible toll as a result. I have found that people walking all over me were merely following my footsteps, kind of like the saying that people learn how to treat you by the way you treat yourself.

If I don’t care enough about myself to eat, or rest enough, or exercise or balance work with life, or have fun or set boundaries for how I’m treated…why would anyone else care? And if they did care, why would I let them? If I put everyone else’s well-being in front of my own, why wouldn’t the rest of the world do the same? If I act like I don’t deserve better, why would anyone else believe I do?

If you’re brave enough to raise your standards, the first ass you kick is your own.

Do it, and the world will follow your lead, or fall away.

Both are to your benefit.

I promise.




The Mirage of She – Hiding a Heart of Thunder

No more back-sliding. Pinky swear.

Shelly Aspenson ~ Living Write

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She made an art of her disguise, although her greatest yearning was to be recognized, known, and accepted by those of like and thunderous hearts. She walked in the world, but not of it. She participated, and contributed, but did not belong. She worked, and laughed, and fulfilled her duties so flawlessly that those in her circle accepted the mirage; the illusion of her that would disappear if one were to reach out to touch her.

She remained concealed behind the reflection that allowed those around her to see what they were comfortable with, instead of the truth of her. She gave them their comfort in this, as her heart thundered in her chest, and her downcast eyes hid the flashes of lightning that preceded each rumble of the imminent storm of her.

She began to know, as her self-awareness grew, that the storm could not long be…

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