Dream A Little Dream

I had a nightmare last night. Maybe it was just a bad dream, but unlike most of my dreams, I actually remembered this one and woke up believing it was real.

First I have to give you a little backstory…

A long time ago in the MySpace days, I was asked to do restaurant reviews for a local publication. At the time, I had just finished reading The Between Boyfriends Book by former SATC writer Cindy Chupack and had pitched an idea to the editor of the Dating & Love section. In the last chapter, Chupack discusses the BAD/GOOD date ratio: how many bad dates a girl must endure in order to get to a good one. My idea was to pick an eligible bachelor at random from MySpace and have him accompany me on each restaurant review meal. I would write about my experiences using aliases. By the second date, I had decided to focus my attention solely on the guy I’d chosen and table the article.

I’d been peeking at this guy’s MySpace profile for a while, so I wrote him. I realized that the head shot on his profile was done by a photographer friend of mine who’d hired me to do the makeup and hair for that corporate website session. The guy was shy and I remembered talking him into letting me put a little product in his beautiful, thick hair to give it a little texture. (To be honest, I didn’t recall this detail until I’d been on a few dates with him, but it was a better story than the whole truth, so I told it whenever people asked how we met. Not that I’m encouraging half-truths, but since online dating was terribly taboo at the time, I rolled with it.)

I was tasked with doing a review for a local sushi restaurant. Knowing myself, and my fear of eating strange things, I knew that I had to find a more adventurous, more culunarily-cultured counterpart. This guy just happened to have a photo posted of him eating something strange and raw with chopsticks, so I used it as part of my opener. I sent him a message asking if he would like to accompany me on my reviewing adventure. He accepted. Soon after, we were seen all over town enjoying dinners, drinks and the occasional hockey game.

He was the first guy in a long time that I looked up to. He was smart and enterprising… owning, running and selling several companies and one restaurant. And he was the first guy I’d ever met who could tell me that he was an “Entrepreneur” without making me cringe and immediately think he was selling Amway. I respected him. He had an interesting life of his own and we never had a boring interaction.

Flash forward to present day.

We’re still in touch. We’ve both been through our share of failed relationships. The last for both of us ended last year. I still see him occasionally, as friends… Friends with a history.

I have no idea what spawned my subconscious to create the images it did last night, but they’re still vivid in my mind and I’m still a little shaken up by them.

Years ago when we were in the heat of our off-again on-again relationship, I never asked him to define what we were to each other. He’s one of those people who isn’t fond of PDA or discussing feelings of any type. When he took me to Puerto Rico, he spoke of a long relationship that recently ended. It was the first time I heard any sort of emotion in his voice, so although I really wanted to, I didn’t pry. He was a bit of a conundrum. I loved and hated it at the same time.

Because we never defined “US,” we found each other getting into other relationships, then coming back to each other. Although I kept looking for signs that I would be the next bona fide relationship, I never was. Instead, I was just the person he sought to fill the space in between. Evidently, this has affected me more than I thought.

Last night I dreamed that we’d been seeing each other just like we used to when one day he decided to tell me that he was in a new relationship, so we couldn’t continue. I was crushed. After all this time, I let it happen again. I could feel my heart beating out of my chest as I held back tears while trying to communicate. This time was different. He actually told me face to face instead of just ghosting me. Everything was the same, yet so different. And I was different. I finally found the words that I needed to say.

I told him “I was good enough to have fun with, but not good enough to be your girlfriend? That’s what hurts.” In fact, that has been an issue all along. I kept thinking that one day he would wake up and see me differently, but he never did. Perhaps he never will.

And although I know how much I have to offer, there’s a chance that some people will always blind to it. I was beating a dead horse, and although it’s my horse to beat, I don’t ever want to feel that way again.

I’ve had dreams that were premonitions. I’ve also had dreams that made no sense at all. But this one, although it was difficult, taught me a valuable lesson. My worth has nothing to do with how people treat me. I was tolerating behavior that made me feel less than, and I needed to move on. And just like that, the pedestal I put him on for so long is gone and I’ve finally found my voice.

Voice

MY Year of YES

There’s a subscription box group for Female Entrepreneurs that I belong to. I joined it on a whim when I was feeling a bit stuck. Although I haven’t had time for a lot of the free training sessions that have been offered, I appreciate the books, office supplies, tools and other useful stuff that comes with being a member of this elite little society. There’s a Facebook Group and the Founder is taking her wares on Shark Tank since this tiny box has taken off so exponentially. (It went from a small operation she put together in her living room, to a box she’s now outsourcing the curation and delivery of.)

I was overjoyed when I opened last month’s box and out popped Shonda Rhimes’s “The Year of YES! (How to Dance It Out, Stand In the Sun and Be Your Own Person)” This book has been on my list for a while now and I couldn’t wait to read it. Unfortunately, my schedule is a little crazy, so I resorted to grabbing the Audible download and adding it to my collection as an accompaniment. Yesterday I began reading.

This is MY year of YES.

  • YES to putting myself first
  • YES to doing the things I’ve always wanted to do before it’s too late
  • YES to cultivating meaningful relationships
  • YES to knowing that I don’t need to change to be loved
  • YES to taking good care of myself and those I care about
  • YES to listening to my own inner voice

I’m doing a lot of things that are taking me out of my comfort zone, but for the first time in a really long time I’m also perfectly fine and really happy. Although societal norms dictate that I’m supposed to have been married and popped out a few kids by now, the thought of having someone to answer to (besides my parents) isn’t one I have a desire to explore.

My last boyfriend needed constant reassurance and validation. By the time that relationship ended, you could look at pictures of me and clearly see the life had completely drained from my eyes. Now that I’m getting back on track to becoming the person I’m supposed to be, I refuse to revert to anything resembling that shell of a person. It’s not what I want for myself. I want so much more.

Don’t get me wrong, I WILL say YES to love, but only when I know it’s what’s right for me. It’s never pleasant to fail. And one of the worst failures of all is to have a failed relationship that ruins a lifelong friendship. At least I know that now. Postponing the inevitable is probably what drained the life force from my eyes. The stress and worry of the impending failure weighed a few million tons.

Since then I’ve:

  1. Started a series of renovations on my house (everything I’ve always wanted to do and HAD to do)
    • Complete remodel of guest bathroom
    • Partial remodel of master bathroom
    • Foundation repair
    • HVAC line & box replacement
    • Screened in patio with built-in wet bar
  2. Purchased tickets to the Life Is Beautiful festival in Las Vegas (I went in 2015 BY MYSELF and the lineup was EPIC)
  3. Went to Raleigh’s FIRST EVER SuperCon
  4. Saw Jump Little Children and am seeing them again in October
  5. Saw and met K.Flay!
  6. Got published in an e-zine!
  7. Got promoted!
  8. Saw Bowling for Soup
  9. Graduated from the FIRST EVER Citizen’s Police Academy
  10. Went to my first “Great Cover Up”
  11. Saw Kevin Smith
  12. Had a Bride featured in Borrowed and Blue

If all goes well, renovations should be finished by my birthday (August 27, fingers crossed) so I should have some great photos to post by then. Otherwise, expect some of the usual stream-of-consciousness ramblings and photos to tide you over.

Most of the things on this list are things I would have held myself back from if I’d stayed in the same place life was going last year. I was disappearing. I was hiding from life. I was shying away from everything I really wanted because my insides were full of conflict and doubt.

NO MORE!

  • YES to knowing better so I can do better
  • YES to saying lots of YES, but knowing when to say NO so that I can take the time to recharge

Just so much YES. It feels so good each time I say it.

 

Limitless (and the Pitfalls of Private School)

It’s natural to have doubts. We don’t start out that way. In fact, we start out trusting everyone. We talk to strangers, reach for the hot burner, don’t look both ways before crossing the street, attempt to stick our fingers in the light socket… (okay well perhaps not all of us, but we get the warnings regardless) We are born fearless and without prejudice. We know no strangers. We have no issues of weight or body image. We don’t doubt ourselves. Why should we? The world is a great big mystery to be solved and it’s all out there for us! And then… we’re thrust out into the real world.

I remember my first bitter taste of reality. My parents sent me off to Junior Kindergarten at a private school that required all students to wear uniforms. We couldn’t even wear our winter coats on the playground at recess because our school emblems needed to be visible at all times. That first day Mom also sent me off with a few toy cars in my pocket. As soon as I pulled them out at recess, they were quickly stolen by a girl named Mary Alice Askew. I asked for them back, she refused. I asked again to no avail. Recess ended and we were ushered back inside.

Class started, but I was still distraught over the injustice that had just occurred. I whispered to Mary Alice while the teacher’s back was turned, “Give me back my cars!” She snickered. Overhearing this, the teacher called me to the front of the class and asked what was going on. “Mary Alice stole my cars!” I said. The teacher then promptly collected the cars from Mary Alice, put them in her desk drawer and gave me a spanking in front of the entire class! I returned to my seat, car-less and mortified. This was the exact moment I learned that life was not fair.

I spent 10 years at that odd little school with its strange rules and stringent dress code. My Mother was under the impression that if I attended a private school, I would meet people of a higher social standing than those in public schools. What she didn’t realize was that many of the students at this school were sent there because they were kicked out of everywhere else. She also didn’t realize how badly I was being treated by my peers. I was never taught to stick up for myself, so I was bullied and talked down to probably more often than I even noticed.

Mom used to arrange after-school play-dates with girls in my grade who she assumed I was friends with. I wasn’t, and I was usually surprised when they told me they were supposed to come home with me. They were nice to me one-on-one, but when we got back to school nothing changed. Mom kept arranging these hangouts and I kept wanting real friends. I may have been young, but at least I knew the difference.

My teen years were painfully awkward. I was too ugly, too skinny, I’d never kissed a boy and I didn’t know what all the sex slang terms meant. If I wanted a guy to pay attention to me, I had to grab the new transfer student before he started hanging out with the cool kids and making fun of me as well. I wasn’t cool by any stretch of the imagination, so I just did my best to get through.

I found an escape through the world of musical theater and collected a handful of quirky theater nerd friends along the way. There was a great theater camp during the summer and I had started getting a few lead roles here and there. (All the while, my parents were hoping I’d switch gears and tell them I secretly wanted to become a Doctor or Rocket Scientist) One year, right before school started, I landed the role of Baby Louise in Gypsy, which required me to dye my hair a deep, dark brown color. The bullies at school didn’t miss a beat on that one. The prank calls about my hair looking like “excrement” started a few weeks before the show opened. Luckily that was about the extent of it.

But all of that never broke me. Sure, I had plenty of teenage “sequester yourself in your room-listen to loud music and cry” moments, but doesn’t everyone? And I finally found my voice. It took me a long time to learn how I needed to stick up for myself, but I finally have. My friend JD used to say that I had a habit of going from zero to bitch in 60 seconds. This was because I wouldn’t say anything until I was past my breaking point. I put up with all sorts of things that I should have nixed from the start. This comes from a history of self-doubt. When you experience so much unpleasantness, you start to question yourself and wonder if you’ve done something to deserve it. Then in later life, it takes a while to realize that it was never you at all. It takes a skilled eye to see through people.

25ef22acb1b4d2518fd4509214eeb612

So I’ll leave you with this…

be-kind

Happiness & the Pursuit Thereof

It’s funny how little I’ve thought about happiness lately, yet I’m perfectly happy. I have great friends and I’m finally starting to make a dent in my super-huge “to do” list (which is giving me a much-needed feeling of satisfaction). As much as I’m loathe to admit, I’m a born list-maker, so I do a tiny internal “happy dance” each time I get to check something off.

In my Facebook memories today I ran across an article I’d shared from a blog which mentioned The Happiness Project. Basically, Gretchen Rubin, then a writer at Slate.com, began chronicling her year-long journey toward happiness. It became a best-selling book, which turned into a phenomenon. Now she’s published a few more on the subject (as well as a few on completely different subjects). Happiness is indeed a much sought-after commodity.

Much like happiness, freedom has been a focus lately. It feels AMAZING to be unapologetically me. I answer to myself and that’s it. I have wise friends and if I want their advice or help, I know I can seek it, but I enjoy the feeling of not being confined by the rules or expectations of another. As if by telepathy, this appeared in my Inbox this morning. It’s an article about freedom in love relationships. I can’t tell you how much this resonated with me.

if-you-love-something-set-it-free

Now I actually understand what that means.

In the years that followed the viral success of The Happiness Project, there were a number of people posting the results of their own Happiness Projects to social media. Every one is different. Each person has different things that create their own brand of happiness. No two results are the same. I challenge you all to go out and begin your own Happiness Projects. I know it’s March, so we’re a little late to the party for New Year resolutions, but here is a tiny excerpt from the book to start you in the right direction.

And a list, because I love lists.

Rock Star Sparkle

This past week or so has been a crazy happy blur. I had a magnificent time in Charlotte and got to meet K. Flay! If you haven’t heard her music or seen her live, she’s touring now (so this is your chance) and she’s the absolute sweetest. She’s a hugger! The first thing she did when I approached was hug me! And when I told her that I’d driven over 3 hours to see her, she grabbed me and hugged me again! She may have even hugged me more than twice. I was so drunk with post-concert giddiness I hardly noticed. It was like hanging out with one of my best girlfriends. (If said girlfriend was a badass rapper/vocalist who made music you love.) She signed 2 cds and posed for so many photos with Allison and I (the lighting was SO BAD it was almost a must.) I wouldn’t have traded the experience for the world. In fact, I’m still all smiles just thinking about it.

It was nice staying with Allison for a day or 2. We look after each other. She cooked for me and made sure I had all the comforts of home. And I ended up coaching her on some online aspects of her business. I had brought her a book full of inspiration that I thought she’d enjoy, but I never saw myself fitting into a coaching role. I think the more we grow, the more we don’t think we have it “together.” We realize how little we actually know in the grand scheme of things. But growth isn’t supposed to be comfortable. That’s why so many people don’t do it. I’ve never been one of those people.

“And the day came when the risk to remain tight in a bud was more painful than the risk it took to blossom”
– Anaïs Nin

After a few days of adjusting and jumping back into work, I got to hang out with a few of my favorite people this weekend. Unfortunately, we were reminded that sometimes when things come too easy, there’s a catch. Lee Ann got ROCKSTAR parking in front of the venue, but when we returned to her car, she’d been hit by a party bus full of drunken millennials. I use the term “Party Bus” loosely. It was actually a retro school bus spray-painted black. I won’t go into details, I’ll just say that I hate that this happened to one of the most amazing people I know. In other news, the food and the company were nothing short of amazing. And I’d like to wish a Happy Birthday to our friend JD, who is always there for us. (#theoriginalJD)

Saturday morning I had one of the most interesting makeup jobs I’ve had in a while. A friend of mine who I’d met when I dated his college roommate (funny story… I totally got Delta Chi and Theta Chi confused. WHO DOES THAT? Luckily, he set me straight before I went on embarrassing myself for too long) hired me to do makeup for the Intro to his local cable access show. The makeup was to be a closeup shot of lips as they spoke the opening catch phrase. What I didn’t know was that he would arrive equipped with craft services of an edible arrangement, champagne, brie, crackers and a vegetable tray for the talent to enjoy after it was photographed. He was taking care of a few jobs he needed to photograph or film that day and we all got to reap the benefits.

As it turns out, Randal is a dental hygienist. It just so happens that the practice he works for has developed a kit for in-office tooth-whitening with a take home component and a nifty reminder app that whitens at least 3 shades without sensitivity in 30 minutes. Everyone on site got to try this out for themselves and it was GLORIOUS! It’s not every day that I show up on set, get spoiled with fancy treats AND get to leave with a shiny new smile!

Evidently, this tooth-whitening system will soon be featured on the TV show Shark Tank, so I’m not allowed to give too many details, but I may end up in some of the preliminary promotional materials.

And if you get a chance, listen to my new friend K. Flay. You’ll be glad you did.

New Year’s Resolution #5839 – Stop putting other people first.

I’m not sure why this hasn’t been the mantra recited in my head daily. I think it’s because I’ve been a people-pleaser since birth. But when you take a step back and think about it, it’s stupid to sacrifice your own feelings only to spare those of someone else. Most people can see through you when you aren’t being authentic… at least that’s the basic assumption.

All of this finally sunk in at the end of last year. I put it into practice. I was miserable, so I got out of my miserable relationship. I said NO to IT and YES to ME. I was scared to death of hurting him, but I finally convinced myself that my happiness was simply more important… not more important than him or his happiness. That’s not it at all. It’s just that for the duration of the relationship, I had been so concerned about him that I never really thought about myself. And for a change, I needed to think about what would make me happy.

I took a day and thought and cried and kept to myself. Before I knew it, I had an answer. I needed to get out of the relationship. So I put on my big girl panties and did it.

“Deciding is freedom. Indecision is torture”
– Jen Sincero
You are a Badass: How to Stop Doubting Your Greatness and Start Living an Awesome Life

I felt awkward and weird for a little while. Some days I even wondered if I’d made a mistake. Then one day the happy set in. I realized that I could do whatever I wanted again. I didn’t have anyone making demands on my time or watching every move I made via social media. The tightness in my chest released. My smile came back. I started making plans with friends I hadn’t spent quality time with in what seemed like ages. The smile became bigger. I started setting goals, creating budgets, making to-do lists, researching things I’d only dreamed of doing.

“It’s all happening.”
Penny Lane
Almost Famous

Now every morning I get up and look forward to my days. Even though most of them have been packed with the sort of homeowner minutia that makes most people groan with disdain. I’ve been kicking ass at work. (I even got an email from a recruiter about a job I would have given my eyeteeth to do a few years ago and even today considered shooting him a resume just for fun) I have a great side hustle and get to meet famous people constantly. The workmen destroyed my mailbox post? Meh, I got another. And the company was super-sweet in their correspondence with me, which made the entire process feel less daunting. Even the bad stuff seems good now.

This weekend I’m going to visit my friend Allison. We’re celebrating our friend Renee’s birthday with our friend Tracy. These are 3 of the strongest, bravest, most awesome women I know and I’m grateful to have them in my circle. Renee’s celebration also happened to fall the day before the K. Flay concert at my favorite venue in the same city. When I saw the concert announced, I’d lamented first because it was on a Monday and second because it was at my favorite intimate venue. It seemed impossible for me to be able to make that happen.

Then one day Allison sent me a text asking if I would come celebrate Renee the night before the concert. I immediately told her about K. Flay and asked if we could figure the concert into our plans. Before I knew it, I was asking for time off and purchasing concert tickets.

You only get one life. Live it the way YOU want.

Notes From the Universe

Eight years ago I went through something that changed me. I fell in love with someone completely wrong for me and kept having to convince myself that I was doing the right thing for myself. All evidence to the contrary, the Universe was screaming WRONG WRONG WRONG! But I’m stubborn and I persevered, ignoring all the signs. It ended badly. of course, but it was also the first time that someone had ever looked me in the eye and told me that I was “not allowed to exist in his world anymore.”

I’ve had good, communicative, healthy breakups and I’ve had a few awful ones, but this… This life event made me question everything. I’d never had anyone I trusted and loved so much just throw me away as if nothing ever happened. I was deeply devastated and most of all, I stopped believing in love. In fact the jury is still out on that one. Before this point in my life I gave freely of myself and I loved with everything I was. Now I became guarded, bitter and resentful. My world was turned upside-down and most of my choices were motivated by fear. I would never be the same.

One day when I was browsing the web, I stumbled upon some motivational sites, a few had emails that you could subscribe to… so I did. I knew I needed a great deal of positive motivation and I wanted desperately to put the traumatic event behind me so I could move forward with my life. You never realize how difficult it is to get out of a mindset and truly let go of something until you’ve experienced something like this. I needed all the help I could get. My first gurus were Ariel & Shya Kane. I ordered their audio book “Working on Yourself Doesn’t Work: The 3 Simple Ideas That Will Instantaneously Transform Your Life” When I was finished, I went on to find Marc and Angel Chernoff. I immediately signed up for everything I could on their website and years later, went on to purchase their book on Kindle and attend their workshop when they came to NC.

I’ve been receiving almost daily emails from Marc and Angel and Ariel & Shya ever since. A lot of the basic principles are common sense, but we tend to forget them when we need them the most. Marc and Angel are big advocates of meditation, but meditating is always a big fail to me since my mind is always whirring with thoughts like 20 hyperactive hamsters in a wheel. It’s been a journey and it still is. But it’s only recently that I started REALLY thinking about the bigger picture and what sort of energy I’m sending out into the Universe.

Because struggling through another viewing of “The Secret” seemed pointless, I looked elsewhere. And there it was. Amid all the other health, wellness, DIY and other assorted junk mail reading in my Inbox was a link to a website called Notes from the Universe. Of course I clicked it.

“I’m a born lever-puller”
– Ringo, Yellow Submarine

So basically the idea is that you get daily emails of encouragement sent to your Inbox. You can even customize these notes to encourage you toward a few long-term goals. I’m always willing to let more positive motivation into my life, so I did it, and I’m glad I did. Even if your mailbox is full of clutter, these little notes are brief and stand out. I try to make them the first thing I read every day.

And the Audible service? I feel like I get a new benefit from it every day. Today I’m listening to Anna Kendrick’s book of biographical essays Scrappy Little Nobody. She narrates each story as if she’s talking to you, so for a few days I have Anna Kendrick as my co-pilot. I’m pretty sure the other drivers are wondering what I’m chuckling about.

I’m gonna let ’em wonder.