Posts Tagged ‘relationships’

The Great Birthday Massacre!

Hello Friends,

Friday was my birthday, so I thought it was about time for me to come back and post on my dusty old blog again. I can’t believe it’s been a WHOLE YEAR since my Fiftieth Birthday Journey. I’ve been reminiscing, reading the old postings, looking at the pictures, and missing my girlfriends.

I’ve taken some time away from the blog to re-tool and re-focus why I started this blog in the first place. I’m passionate about relationships – healthy ones. And I hope to challenge you and support you into creating healthy thriving relationships in your own life. And I’m challenging myself along the way.

I’m working on a project with my coaching practice that I’m very excited about. I’ll be sharing that with you in the coming weeks. But for now, let me tell you about my great birthday massacre.

It all started in March. I had decided to try growing my tomatoes from seed this year – to see what might happen. I followed the directions on the seed packets – well for the most part. I made holes in the soil about 18 inches apart and dropped a few seeds into each one and covered them up.

Now, the directions on the seed packet say to thin the tomatoes once they get to be a few inches tall.

We’ve had a strange spring with lots of cold late rain. And when it finally got nice out, I had other plans on the weekends…. So with all that rain, followed by beautiful sun, and in really good organic soil, along with some neglect on my part, my tomatoes took off. Tall and beautiful and compacted together in the bed like one giant tomato bush. Without a single tomato.

Notice the chopped off nubs of former soil-mates.

Notice the chopped off nubs.

They had become enmeshed with each other. They didn’t need structural supports like other tomatoes do, they had each other. Clinging tightly together, their leaves shaded each other, preventing the sun from reaching the lower leaves. Their roots competed for nutrients from the soil, and their top stems stretched to find whatever sun they could catch. There was no energy left to make any fruit.

Steve, bless his heart, enrolled our dear friend, and master gardener Richard, to come over and help. It was my birthday present! Richard handed me clippers and said for each of the tomato groupings, I needed to pick one to save and cut the rest off at the root. Oh the humanity! The agony. Cutting off healthy tomato stems and casting them in the compost heap! It was a tragic massacre. By the time we were done, my poor garden looked sparse and pathetic. The plants that were left were too weak to stand on their own and needed immediate support. The stems were long with scrawny spread apart leaves. Steve and Richard worked together to build supports for the plants, and I tied them up carefully. Now each one has something solid to cling too. There’s room around them so the sun shines on the lower reaches and air circulates around them. I realize now how emaciated my poor plants had become.

Each individual plant needs its own external Frame, its own access to the sun and soil, or it will never produce fruit.

Too week to stand alone.

Too weak to stand alone

Made me think about relationships in my life. I have been in relationships, heck in a whole community, that was so enmeshed together that we had each become like those emaciated plants. We looked great together from a distance, but look at us closely as individuals, and we had become too week and frail to stand on our own, and we bore very little fruit.

How healthy are your relationships? Are you so dependent on each other that if one of you moves the other will fall down? OR do you each have something that individually supports you? Your own faith, your own sense of self? Do you give each other enough space to receive the warmth of the sun and the nourishment of the earth? Not sure? Take a look at the fruit. If you are each thriving, there will be fruit. Don’t see fruit? Consider what boundaries need to be negotiated into your relationships so that each of you can begin to thrive. Healthy relationships encourage us to dig our roots deep and open to the source of our nourishment directly. They don’t make us dependent; they make us strong and fruitful.

Rebuilding Community. Let the sunshine in!

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Today I’m Fifty…

…and I still feel the same as I did yesterday. Heck, I still feel the same as I did at forty, except for this little pain in my knee! I’d like to wax philosophic about turning fifty, but I haven’t had my second cup of coffee yet, and I’m still feeling the room tip from yesterday’s sailing excursion. All I can say is that I’m so glad I chose this way to turn fifty. Being in the life-affirming presence of my girlfriends has been like visiting the fountain of  youth. Their perspective is helping me look forward to my fifties with anticipation and excitement.

Ten years ago today, on my fortieth birthday, Harrah and Sandy threw me a lingerie shower. It was two months before my wedding, though I still didn’t have an engagement ring. I was sitting on the sofa in their living room surrounded by happy cheering women, opening packages of sweet little nothings…. when the front door opened and in walked Steve. He stepped through the women who were sitting on the floor, knelt down on one knee, and handed me a little box. I opened it and there was this beautiful gold ring, with diamonds locked inside Celtic knots. Harrah had helped him design it. He asked me to marry him again. I cried and said yes (of course), and he put the ring on my finger.

Today, I’m with Harrah, tomorrow, God willing, I’ll be with Sandy, and Saturday…. 🙂

It’s early Thursday morning in Maine. The plan is for a relaxing day at home followed by dinner at Shephard’s Pie in Rockport with Harrah and a few of my new friends. Early tomorrow morning, Harrah’s friend John will drive me to Portland. From there I’ll take the bus to Boston. From there I’ll fly to Alexandria, Louisiana, to meet my final friend on this journey, Sandy Barger Bryant.

The final event of my forties was to go out into Rockport Harbor with Molly and Harrah in Molly’s sailboat. Late afternoon going into sunset. Oh lovely. Enjoy the pics.

Molly is great fun and was very generous with her sailboat and her expert sailing skills. She turned fifty last year, and enjoyed helping me celebrate my fiftieth.

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Isn’t it amazing how easily women can just enter right into conversation – especially about relationships? First it was Harrah’s turn to share about her current venture into romance. Then Molly shared her story. Then it was my turn – talking about how Steve and I met, our crazy long (five-year) courtship, no friendship, ok courtship, no friendship, well all right I like you courtship, no wait I didn’t mean it friendship, ok it’s all off friendship, wow I actually love YOU and want to spend the rest of my life with you if you’ll still have me courtship, engagement, and marriage (finally) ten years ago. Sharing our stories – in between sailing instructions like “pull in the jib,” “helms alee,” “turn her about,” “trim the sails,” etc….

Perfect day, beautiful company.
Lessons for the day for single women (and men) considering relationship…

Make your own list (you know… THE list). But don’t make it until you’ve taken the time to know and love yourself. That way your list truly reflects who you are and what you value – not what others expect you to value.

Consider the order of priorities on your list. What are the absolute deal breakers? What’s negotiable?

Have really clear boundaries – and honor them.

Don’t be surprised at the baggage that shows up in you and your potential partner from previous relationships. Do yourself and them a favor and carry it yourself, i.e. do what you can to get rid of it. Don’t expect your partner to carry your baggage. A good relationship can be very healing IF you stay conscious and responsible for your own wounds.

Thank you, Molly, for sharing your lovely boat Ripple and your delightful company with us.

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.

Count Down Two Days…

I guess I’m getting ready for East Coast Time… I’ve been waking up at 4 AM for the past two days, thinking about all that needs to be done before I leave, and just too excited to sleep. I guess that’s OK ‘cause in two days 4 AM will be 7 AM. I just have to remember that on the other end. I hit the wall last night around 9 but kept going anyway. Not good.

Anyway, sad to say, Eileen couldn’t make it this time. Eileen is this amazing beautiful woman (I think I keep using that phrase about my friends, but I can’t help it). She’s a writer, specifically a screen writer, though she has co-authored several books as well. She gets passionate about her subjects and throws herself into her work with an energy that I envy. More importantly, to me anyway, is that she is a faithful, honest, true friend who looks me in the eyes and speaks the truth with such depth and insight that makes me become a better person and believe that I really can move mountains and change the world.

Our home is her home away from home, and when she visits she gets me out of my rut and takes me, and our dog Wallace, for walks around the Spring Lake. She always seems to come when the stress of my Day Job begins to feel overwhelming. When she’s here, I can breathe more deeply and see the horizon. And it’s going to be OK.

Wallace, our Golden Retriever, thinks she is his Personal Love Slave. When she is here, I become nothing to him.

I’m sorry she couldn’t come this time, but just as well…. I’m a maniac right now, with preparations… endless preparations….

Gotta go… last day at the Day Job….

The Right Person

In my opinion, the best thing you
can do is to find a person who
loves you for exactly what you are.
Good mood, bad mood, ugly, pretty,
handsome, what have you, the right
person will still think that the
sun shines out your ass. That’s the
kind of person that’s worth
sticking with.

MAC’s advice to his daughter Juno

From the screenplay JUNO
By Diablo Cody

He’s Just Not That Into You

Last week, Steve was at a conference in San Diego for about five days, so I got to experience living alone again.… It brought back old familiar feelings, an emotional cocktail made up of the pleasure of independence, mixed with confusion about what to do with myself, with a shaker of boredom, and a big shot of loneliness.

I ended up settling in by the fire (yes fire in May… it was pouring rain and freezing cold… but I digress), with our dog Wallace at my feet, and read an entire book. As I am exploring relationships in my coaching practice, someone had recommended the book He’s Just Not That Into You, by Greg Behrendt and Liz Tuccillo, writers for the hit TV show Sex in the City. Now… I have to tell you, I’m no real fan of the show. I’ve watched it a few times, and sometimes it’s pretty funny…. Don’t tell anyone and call me old fashioned, but to my friends, I call it Sluts in the City. So, I was pretty skeptical when I picked up this book, but I thought… what the heck. Steve’s out of town, it’s raining, I’m bored, and my beloved dog is at my feet.

It’s pretty light weight compared to some of the other books I’m currently reading, like Undefended Love and Intimate Allies. But I did discover something refreshingly wonderful about this little book. It was written primarily by a man to an audience of single women basically telling them how NOT to settle for a man who’s “just not that into you”. It was like a splash of cold water on my face. Of course! We’re so quick to make excuses for men who don’t love us. What are we thinking, girlfriends??!! We are worth being loved, and it is just plain silly to waste our time on anything less. I laughed out loud during parts of the book, startling poor Wallace from his dreamy trance.

At the end of each chapter, there’s a checklist of the things you should have learned. Seems obvious, but how many of us have not really learned these yet?

  • An excuse is a polite rejection. Men are not afraid of “ruining the friendship.”
  • If you can find him, then he can find you. If he wants to find you, he will.
  • “Hey, let’s meet at so-and-so’s party/any bar/friend’s house” is not a date. Even if you live in New York.
  • Men don’t forget how much they like you. So put down the phone.
  • You are good enough to be asked out.
  • If he’s not calling you, it’s because you are not on his mind.
  • Don’t be with someone who doesn’t do what they say they’re going to do.
  • There is no excuse for cheating. Let me say it again. There is no excuse for cheating. Now you say it. There is no excuse for cheating.
  • It doesn’t count unless he says it when he’s sober.
  • You deserve to be with someone who is nice to you all the time. (You have to be nice to them, too.)
  • Freaks should remain at the circus, not in your apartment.

I think the hardest part about this is the fact that we women so long to be loved, that we settle for what we think might possibly eventually perhaps turn out to maybe be something that looks kind of like love… i.e. I think he might like me….or at least he’s better than nothing. Another quote in the book is “Better than nothing is not good enough for you.”

What do you think?

Mr. Right?

When I was in my early twenties, I was in a relationship with a young man about my age. We were in the same church and were both active in the arts ministry. He was a musician, I was a dancer. He expressed an interest in me, I thought he was a really great guy, but a bit nerdy…  he didn’t fit my perception of the guy I was “supposed” to end up with. However, he was fabulous best-friend material. So we decided to become friends, and to prove the world wrong that a guy and a girl couldn’t be best friends without getting romantically involved.

He really did become my best friend. We became inseparable. Did everything together both alone and with our thriving group of friends. We threw parties together, cooked and sang together, laughed and cried together. What a great time we had. We would talk for hours on the phone, in the park, on the ferry boat, wherever.

But we would never touch beyond the safe little side-to-side hug… no holding hands, definitely no kissing, no “I love yous”…. Strictly platonic.

His mother wasn’t buying it. She always spoke to me with absolute truth. At the time, I didn’t really know what that was, and I was never quite sure how to take what she said.

She would challenge me to consider whether what I had with her son wasn’t actually the real deal after all… and whatever I had made up about who I was looking for was a silly myth.

I asked her once how does one know when they have found THE ONE. You know, that one, single, human being on the planet, who you are destined to somehow meet, fall in love with, marry, and raise a family with… fulfilling God’s perfect plan for your life. Happily ever after…..and all that.

She laughed at me.
I was hurt.
She said I needed a dose of reality.
I asked what she meant.
She said that we choose who we will love, and then we love them. The “magic” we feel in the beginning of the relationship eventually fades, and then we start loving. Love is a choice. We could pick anyone, and create a life with them, if we chose to love them. It’s a commitment.

I balked at her words. I pictured myself picking up some homeless guy off the street, choosing to “love” him, and somehow creating a happy life together. Her words seemed so sterile, cold, and un-fun. All about sacrifice and duty.

Sigh….. there was wisdom in her words, that I didn’t have ears to hear at the time. Had I listened…. Life would have been very very very very different for me.

But I had miles to go, hearts to break, hard lessons to learn, before I could hear what she was really saying to me.

What do you hear?