Archive for the ‘Women in relationship’ Category

Be The Chooser

At Lake Tahoe with Steve to celebrate our anniversary, review and renew our goals, have some much needed time together enjoying Autumn in this beautiful place, and spend time reading and preparing for my upcoming Break Through Into Love coaching group for single women over 30. And Wallace came too.

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In the book I’m reading, Conscious Dating by David Steele, he has this quote that grabbed me.

“Choosers know what they want and how to get it. Choosers take responsibility for what happens and know that they are in charge of their lives. Being a Chooser takes a certain amount of confidence and effort, but anyone can be one! Finding the love of your life is not about hoping to be picked. You need to know yourself so that you can be The Chooser, rather than waiting to be chosen. Being The Chooser means taking initiative and responsibility for your outcomes: you are in charge of creating what you want in life. You do not restrict yourself to what or who chooses you.”

What do you think about that? I’d love to hear your thoughts.

It makes me think about how I was raised. I picked up the messages that first as a child and then as a woman I am to wait to be chosen. I grew up with some old fashioned ideas – many of which I celebrate – but some of which I now question. This is one of them. So much of my life has been spent waiting to be chosen, waiting to be noticed and recognized, not only in relationships with men but also in other areas of life.

When we’re not The Chooser, we’re the Victim. We get to settle for the life that we have; and we get to blame our mother, our boss, our ex-husband, our ex-best friend, our neighbor, the other driver, anyone else; and we get to be right about it.

Think of an area in your life that you’re not completely satisfied with. How have you let circumstances or other people dictate who you will be in this area? Now consider what might be possible if you became The Chooser in this area. What choices are available to you? Is it really the circumstances or other people who are keeping you stuck here? Or is it instead your own choice? Perhaps changing the situation might require some bold risky action that you have been unwilling to take. Recognizing that you have CHOSEN this part of your life and you are responsible, might change your perspective about it. How might your relationship to this situation change if you owned it like that? How might that affect how you relate to others?

I’m really looking forward to exploring this more deeply with my Break Through Into Love Coaching group for Single Women over 30, and I’d love to hear your thoughts as well. I have three seats left in the group which starts Wednesday, October 19. If you, or someone you love, are considering this group, now is the time to contact me.

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What’s Love Got To Do With It?

Well, dear friends. It’s been more than a month since my last post. I so want to post more often – but my wee little break on Fridays! Glorious Fridays! – has been filled this summer with the project I mentioned in my July 10 post on The Great Birthday Massacre.

I’ve been cooking up a new coaching program for single women over 30 who would like to be married.

To see it, check out my new Break Through Into Love page.

I’m a big fan of strong, healthy relationships and marriages. I think they’re foundational to EVERYTHING else! Call me old fashioned – but I think that many of our nation’s current woes are directly or indirectly connected to a breakdown in relationships – starting with family.

I’m also a big fan of strong, healthy singleness. Strong, healthy singles are not half people waiting for their “better half”. They are whole and complete in themselves – capable of changing the world in ways married folks only dream about. Their singleness can be their greatest asset and gift. There are more opportunities than ever before for single people to do great things and have powerful fulfilling lives.

But if it’s time to transition from successful single to successful married, especially in today’s confusing and fragmented culture, the challenge can be overwhelming. Preparing yourself, finding your life partner, and setting your relationship up for success is not for the faint of heart. It takes courage, honesty, humility, and a really good sense of humor, not to mention patience and perseverance. If you’re over 30, you’ve probably already experienced some set backs in this arena which can be challenging to overcome. I know, I didn’t get married until I was 40.

That’s why I’ve been reading up, interviewing singles, doing some coaching, and tapping into my own experience and training to develop this program.

I’m very excited to launch my pilot Break Through Into Love coaching group on October 19.

This first group will be local – right here in Sonoma County – in my own living room.

After that – well – we’ll just see where it goes. I’d like to make this available to women outside this area as well.

If you’re single, and over 30, and a woman, and you think you’re ready to make the transition…. and you live in the vicinity of Santa Rosa, California …. (or if you know someone who fits these criteria) then check out my offering. It could change your life.

Contact me for more information and please tell your friends.

Sandy

Sandy and I met probably about twenty years ago at church when I first moved to Santa Rosa. However, we didn’t really become friends until she moved in with Harrah around 1994.

Harrah had initiated a little group of seven friends for the purpose of supporting and loving each through all the changes in life that would be coming our way. We called ourselves the seven sisters. I know some people were a bit hurt by our exclusive little club, and we tried to not be so exclusive… but you can guess how well that worked. We did adopt some honorary members along the way.

We all had a relationship with Harrah though not necessarily with each other, though we all were in some way acquainted. Over the years, our little group has evolved. Everyone has moved out of town except for me, which has been a bit painful since I became pretty attached to this wonderful group of women. Hence my fiftieth birthday gift to myself. Most everyone stays in touch with one or a few of the others. Some have drifted away. Some have worked hard to stay close. Harrah is like the Mom who at least tries to stay connected. We all have little gifts we’ve given to each other. Like the Claddagh ring I wear. Everyone has one, but I think I’m the only one who still wears mine. I even wore it at my wedding to symbolize my commitment to hold my friendships close to my heart even as I took vows to my husband. We have taken turns giving each other little men… We’ve had some fun with this one! We’ve had a few reunions, though it’s been quite a while since the last one.

Sandy was Harrah’s housemate and was part of the seven sisters. This is how we started to become close. Then as one by one those we were closest too moved away, and as I got married, Sandy and I began to gravitate more and more to each other. We were involved in several projects together, a marriage workshop called One Accord, The Gap Youth Training, and finally Friends On Purpose.

She was also the girlfriend I would call to go do girl things. She was the one I’d call to help me decorate a room, or go shopping. I’m not a shopper, but Sandy is a master at it. She was a confident and dear friend.

Then… she left me too. Married Paul and ran off to Hawaii. I was her Matron of Honor and sobbed through the entire toast. Sigh…. It really is all about me! When she left, she generously gave to me many of the lovely things she had collected on her many shopping excursions. Beautiful garden pots, art work, throw blankets, etc. I have little reminders of Sandy all over my house.

Steve and I went a few years ago, on my birthday, to Oahu to visit Sandy and Paul. We spent the 4th of July and my birthday with them before heading to Kauai for vacation.

When Sandy and Paul came to Santa Rosa to visit they stayed with us. I came home from work one day, and found Sandy busy in the back yard planting lovely flowers in all the empty pots she had given me the year before. She had purchased the plants, the soil, the mulch, and the fertilizer. I jumped in to help, and she taught me all about how to plant arrange and care for flowers so that they would look fabulous for a long time. All the rest of that summer I had an amazing show garden that made me smile with joy and gratitude every time I visited it. Now, every spring I plant my flowers and think of Sandy – and wish she were here to enjoy the process with me. Everything is so much better when shared with a friend.

Saying Good Bye

Why must we do it? It’s always so hard.

Birthday Breakfast

It was a bit overwhelming to see all the warm wishes from Facebook Friends and blog readers, and to receive calls from family and friends. So much love to share. My brother Guy’s birthday is the day after mine. He’s three years older than me. Except on July 8. Then he’s only two years older. Somehow this makes him feel younger! He called to say I shouldn’t be staying up so late now that I’m old. I need to eat my tapioca pudding and go to bed. I told him not to make me laugh or I’ll have to put on my Depends. Today is his birthday, and once more he’s three years older than me. Happy Birthday, Guy.

A big highlight was a phone call from my two-year old granddaughter Eden. She sang me Happy Birthday. All our grandkids call me Nannie ,or Nonni, or Nani. We can never figure out how to spell it. It was the sweetest little song that made me laugh and warmed my heart. I can’t wait to see her again.

Last night Harrah and her friend John took me out to dinner at Shepherds Pie. It’s the hottest thing to ever happen to the little village of Rockport – at least that’s what Harrah says. The “downtown” seems to consist of three or four quaint old buildings stretched out on half a city block. Funny though… those few buildings are an Opera House, an Art Gallery, and now Shepherds Pie. You must go somewhere else if you want to buy groceries or sundries or go to the bank. But if you want to walk to a great dinner, you’re in business. This little restaurant seems to always be packed. We got there around 8:30 and had to pressure people to leave in order to get three seats at the bar.

I say “we”, but I mean Harrah. She seems to know everyone in this little town, and she somehow managed to get us prized seats right at the corner of the bar.

Me, Harrah, John

John and Harrah had the cheeseburger, ‘cause apparently it’s fantastic. I couldn’t decide, had difficulty reading the menu in the dark, felt a bit of pressure because they had already decided and the bar tender, Dennis, was busy and was taking our order. I almost said “I’ll have what they are having,” just to relieve the pressure. But I just didn’t want a cheeseburger for my fiftieth birthday. So I asked Dennis what he recommended. I ended up with the fried clam tacos. I wish I could explain how delicious these were. I only know that I’m glad I spoke up and didn’t just settle for what everyone else was having. It was amazing. Ding! She made up her own mind, got clear about what she wanted, took a risk, and was deeply satisfied. Ding! Small victories when turning fifty.

Delicious Deserts by Candle Light

For dessert I had a 20-year-old Ferreira tawny port, the smoothest most delicious elixir I can remember tasting, along with a chocolate pots de creme which had little crunchy nibs of raw cocoa beans. Wow. Harrah had strawberries and cream, with a hint of pepper. John had pineapple upside down cake, soaked in some kind of delicious liqueur. Ooooh lah lah! Thank you John and Harrah for a lovely birthday dinner.
Last night Harrah & I stayed up and talked waaayyy too late. Couldn’t help it. We’ve been talking about my old struggle with feeling like I should or could be doing something else, rather than embracing what I am doing now – with gratitude – with purpose – with acceptance. And to stop listening to the should voice, the disappointment about how things turned out. I feel like I have been working on this one my whole life. Probably always will be. It’s tied to deep childhood expectations. Right now I feel like I’m further behind than I’ve ever been, and I’ll never get there. But there is a moment by moment choice. It’s a perspective I choose as quickly as a breath, or a silent prayer. Oh when will I arrive? When will I get this thing figured out? The older I get the less I know. Is this a mid-life crisis?
This morning, I said my goodbyes to Harrah. It was quick. Like pulling off a band aid or killing a chicken. Make it quick to minimize the pain and the drama.
John graciously drove me to Portland to catch the bus to go to the airport to fly to Sandy. Gave me a lovely hour and a half to become acquainted with this interested kind gentleman.
Right now, I’m writing this in transit from Boston via Atlanta to Alexandria to meet Friend Number Three – Sandy… or Sannie as I like to call her. I’d post it, but all the airport’s promises of free wi-fi are reserved only for the special people who know the code, have paid their dues, and look like really important business people. I get into Alexandria, God willing, at 9:00 tonight. Probably will post this sometime tomorrow.

Thriving in Your Tribe

When Harrah first moved to Maine, many of us worried about her. She was leaving her community in California, and heading off to unknown parts. She had quit her job at Pomegranate, a publishing company, put her stuff in storage, and loaded up her Miata. Her son Seth flew out from New York and drove her to the East Coast to find a new home. For all the years she had lived in California, she was never really at home. She’s an East Coaster and nothing could change that. Not even those of us who loved her so much. She visited family and old friends and began exploring up and down the New England coast. Somehow she landed in Rockport, Maine,  rented a cottage across the street from Camden Harbor, and a year later purchased a lovely little yellow house nestled in the woods.

Now, ten years later, she is thriving in this little creative community. She’s a successful freelance book designer and publisher, and literally every place we go she is hailed by people who know and love her. I’ve lost count of all the people she has introduced me to. I’m her friend from California, or “Away” as those of us not from around here are called.

Harrah has given me some perspective on turning fifty. She began this journey of reinventing herself and following her dream when she was fifty-six. She encouraged me to do a little math. I could easily be working and doing and living a full life through the age of seventy-five and beyond. That’s at least twenty-five more years. She asked me to consider all the life I have lived over the last twenty-five years, and to look at having all that time and more still in front of me. Turning fifty is just the beginning – and something to celebrate with excitement and anticipation for all that is coming. Okay. I’m in!

Since my arrival on Wednesday, Harrah’s phone has been busy. Her friends have been inviting us over so they can meet her friend from California. There are more invitations than we can accept. This area is a thriving creative community, and most of Harrah’s friends are artists of some kind and range in age from 20 to 90. The conversations are deep, enlightening, and fun. There are numerous art schools here, loads of galleries, and interesting creative people who love to congregate, sip wine, and talk about art and politics. Their homes are beautiful, with stunning views of the harbor. Harrah has found her tribe and she is thriving in it. It makes me happy and helps me to better understand why she had to leave California.

Here are some photos of some of our adventures since I arrived.

At a Pub in Portland

At a Pub in Portland

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Street Musicians in Camden

Street Musicians in Camden

Lantern at Camden Harbor

Lantern at Camden Harbor

Harrah Chatting with Friends in Camden

Harrah Chatting with Friends in Camden

Camden Yacht

Camden Yacht

Hydrangea

Hydrangea

Twilight Schooner in Camden

Twilight Schooner in Camden

Call From Sandy

Call From Sandy

Open House at Camden Inn

Open House at Camden Inn

Duckfat Cafe in Portland

Duckfat Cafe in Portland

Harrah in Camden

Harrah in Camden

Harrah

It has been a few very full days since my last post. I would wear you out (and me too) if I tried to write it all down now. So, I’ll give you little bits each day to catch you up and fill you in on this beautiful part of my journey.

First, a little background:

Fawn & Harrah & Booger the Cat in 1995

Harrah & I met briefly at church one day in 1992. A few weeks later, I met her mom. Turns out, her mom was staying with her, and I noticed her sitting in front of me at church. The only way I can describe her was strikingly beautiful. She must have been in her late eighties, and she was stunning. Wavy white hair, not quite shoulder length, a solid silver necklace set against clear olive skin, bright piercing eyes, elegantly dressed. I said hello and she began talking to me about her pure-bred racing horses. Her voice had that east coast accent, similar to Barbara Walters. I knew instantly she was not from Sonoma County! I also knew she must be Harrah’s mom. She had that striking elegant natural beauty.

I got to know Harrah some time later. I had just completed the Breakthrough Training, and was on the volunteer team for the next one. One of my duties was to calligraphy names onto popsicle sticks. This is not as easy as it sounds! I was instructed to give Harrah a call, since she had had this job for the previous training, and could teach me how to do it. So I called and one Saturday afternoon she showed up at my door. We spent the rest of the day painting, writing names, and talking, mostly about men and relationships. I was fascinated by her beauty and her perspective. She’s sixteen years older than I am, with a world of experience far different from my own. I always thought of myself as creative, but Harrah was a true artist. A professional graphic designer, educated and knowledgeable about the world. She was in the throws of a painful divorce. She was dealing with her mom’s dementia. We had both just completed this training and were exploring new perspectives on life and relationships.

Over the following months, through mutual friends, our relationship grew slowly. We’re trying to recall when it was really sealed, and neither of us can recall a specific incident that bonded us. All I know is that she became more and more important in my life.

It was a season of great transition for both of us. I was beginning to emerge from my very claustrophobic shell. I believe both Harrah and Kim were sent to assist me in that process. Harrah came from an old east coast family with connections to famous industrialists. Her home was filled with interesting beautiful things, each with a story. The color and texture of her life made my controlled little box feel all the more sterile, small, and oppressive. It made me want to rip out the walls and start decorating my life.

She would call me to go with her to events I hadn’t heard about or ever considered attending: Glendi, the annual Eastern Orthodox festival with food, music, and participatory dancing from Eastern Europe – put on by our local Eastern Orthodox community. I didn’t even know we had one. Then there was the Sebastopol Celtic Festival, rich in Irish and Scottish music and art, with a healthy sprinkling of the old Sebastopol hippy dippy tie-dye patchouli oil culture. She also invited me to join a Scottish Country Dance class with her, complete with Bagpipes, drum, and fiddle. It was great fun, and the new friends I met there encouraged me to get in touch with my Gilmore Scottish roots.

Most of all, Harrah became the wise woman rock I leaned on through probably the darkest time in my life. When I was lost, ashamed, alone, frightened, heartbroken, and disillusioned, Harrah was the friend I clung to. Her wisdom, experience, and compassion helped me step away from my circumstances, see the bigger picture, and find hope that this too shall pass. She was a safe harbor in a terrible storm.

She moved to Maine a month before I married Steve, but she flew back to be in my wedding. We spent the third week of our honeymoon at a friend’s guest house on Chebeague Island in Maine. Harrah came out and met us one day, made us a lobster dinner, and brought the cheer and love of home and friendship to this beautiful spot.

It’s been almost ten years since I was married and she moved away. We’ve seen each other a few brief times over the past decade, but this visit is all about quality time.

I’ll share more about life here in Maine tomorrow. Today, I wanted to catch you up on this most precious friendship.

“A faithful friend is the medicine of life.”
~ Apocrypha

Amelie…


Kim & I spent the morning yesterday at the Guglhupf Bakery and Café. We’re doing the café’s in the mornings so I can get on the internet to publish the blog. This one is our favorite. Fun little German bakery with lots of cool art, and free wi-fi… We’re back again this morning.

Yesterday, we drove to University Mall in Chapel Hill to meet up with Pam Owen, have lunch, and SHOP… I was expecting the standard mall with all the same old shops you see everywhere. They had a few of those, but most of these were local and really cool. Warmed my heart. Check out the geckos. Sometime, I’ll tell you about Steve and the Geckos. It was a bonus to see Pam again.

After we stocked up at the Wall of Chocolate at A Southern Season we headed home. Kim has a supply of her favorite movies. I had never seen Amelie, so we put it in.

If you haven’t seen Amélie, I think you should. It’s the ultimate feel good movie, and lo and behold, it’s French.

The movie got us talking about relationships. How sad it is when women think we might have found “the one”, only “the one” can’t seem to make up his mind…. Hmmm, do I want YOU or do I want something or someone else? THE ONE will not have any trouble making up his mind.

Darlin’, if he can’t decide, he’s definitely NOT the one.

One of my girlfriends has an expression for what she’s looking for: “The man who will walk across the crowded room for me.” She means the man who sees her, and no one else. Kim and I both had one when we were young. That first love, that we let get away – for really really stupid reasons.

I’m so grateful for Steve. I was the one who couldn’t make up my mind. HE on the other hand, bless his heart, loved me from the very beginning. I never worried about that. And I thank God every day for that.