Monday, April 28, 2008


It's hard to define yourself by an issue, and it's also quite unhealthy. But to admit that you struggle with something is the first step towards sanity. So many times I heard that kind of psycho-babble and rolled my eyes. I don't worry anymore about people rolling their eyes at me so much as I wonder if they, or you, are identifying.

The other day I read a story about a woman named Trina:

Trina just met the "man of her dreams" a few weeks ago. She invited him to stay with her when his girlfriend threw him out. She's so happy giving him what he needs domestically, financially, and sexually, especially when it's something the girlfriend wouldn't do. She loves knowing that she understands him better than anyone else. That is why she is going to surprise him by taking him out to dinner for his birthday and wear the kind of very revealing dress he really likes. Making him happy is what counts. She leaves work early to swing by his office and give him a ride so he won't have to take the bus. She's thinking about placing an ad to give away her precious Siamese because he has hinted that he doesn't like cats.

By the end of the passage, I was supposed to feel like this Trina woman was nuts, I think. But I just looked up and thought, well now, Trina sounds like a really nice person. I don't see anything wrong with what I just read.

Oh boy...

I laughed out loud about it later because I know better now. I don't see that behavior as loving anymore, but as captive. I don't see Trina's boyfriend as a nice guy down on his luck who just needs a little tenderness. I see him as a pariah. That's right... a soul sucking, blood thirsty, loser... okay... maybe it's not all his fault.

Of course it's not!

Trina is active in her victimhood. She allows her boyfriend to walk all over her. She does this out of a misguided idea of love and need for acceptance. So have you ever been Trina before?

Chances are, if you are a female, you might have.


Sunday, April 27, 2008

When the student is ready...

I read an interesting Hero Quest story today about a woman who faces great challenges and overcomes fears in order to soothe an angry husband recently home from battle, wounded and desiring nothing but isolation. The woman asks for guidance from a wise person in her village to help her cajole her husband back to the sanctuary of their marriage. She is sent off into the unknown for a hair. Stay with me... she climbs a mountain, gradually gains the trust of a bear by feeding him, asks for a hair from his neck, is granted the request, and half scared but mostly optimistic, runs back to the village. All I want at this point in the story is to read about the magic elixir that will make my angry husband change and love our family the way we deserve.

Will she never learn, you ask?

When the woman returns to the village, the wise person takes the hair, inspects it to make sure that yes, in fact, this woman did do as required. That she did conquer fear and insecurity for the love of the wounded husband. The hair is then thrown into a fire, seemingly oblivious to the harrowing quest taken up by the selfless (and at this point, I'm thinking, stupid) wife. She screams "WHY?" The wise person says to now in turn do the same for the husband.


What the hell? I'm supposed to risk life and limb to get my husband to come inside? Just because he's an angry jacka$$? What the heck kind of codependent crap was this storyteller trying to peddle? Is it just ME? I began to wonder if this was how "wise people" kept women in subservient roles for so long. But then as I read the explanation, I realized that I was once again reading with the wrong pair of glasses. The husband wasn't a husband.

He IS my psyche.

The husband is representative of the wounded part of us, wanting to isolate and wallow in our pain. The wife is the kind nature inside each of us who wants so desperately to cover the scars with the salve of love. It is in the quest, the scary moments, the times we rise above our fears and accept all of life's challenges, that we become stronger and more resilient. And in that strength, we are able to bring our wounded self back into the shelter. But who is the wise person that sends us on this journey to face a fear, knowing that we will be okay? That we will become whole?


My life verse is found in the Old Testament, in Isaiah. It's an amazing book of looking back on the wounds and looking forward on the healing. It's the eternal promise of God to bring us back into the sanctuary of His Love. The things in life that we wanted might have robbed us of our innocence and brought home to our loving nature a wounded warrior. With the help of God and his written promise, His Logos, we are able to be restored to the wonderful beings we were meant to be. With His grace and guidance, we WILL bloom again:

Isaiah 51:3

"The LORD will surely comfort Zion
and will look with compassion on all her ruins;
He will make her deserts like Eden,
her wastelands like the garden of the LORD.
Joy and gladness will be found in her,
thanksgiving and the sound of singing."



Friday, April 25, 2008

Ladies Who Lunch

Before the wrong impression develops, the dyanmic ladies I lunched with today would probably be perfectly happy in a spa chair getting their toes done. They'd likely be more enthusiastic, however, about profit and loss statements and branding meetings.

Good Ole Gals is a group of women who are all creating the life of their dreams through either their own businesses or as a representative of some big name national company. We met today at a local Winery (no, I only had Iced Tea... darn) over a plate of field greens with dried pears and grilled chicken breast. Total chick meal. Aside from the meal, there was chit-chat and a fun personality quiz, according to which I am not only the life of the party but "volatile." Who, Me?

As our time together wrapped up, I was encouraged and just warmed from the inside out to see women proactively finding ways to work together and succeed together. I almost started singing I Am Woman, except I'm too young to know the words... There were bankers, realtors, a lovely photographer (*ahem*), a small business coach, a background investigator, a retired nurse who will deal with insurance companies for you, a hypnotherapist that unlocks your subconscious and refills it with positive thoughts, a florist, a graphic artist, a recruiter... all kinds of industries were represented at that table. We all have different stories, different strengths, and different personalities. The common thread is the willingness and desire to help another woman follow her passion and find success.

Needless to say, I had a fabulous time. There was a lot of interest in my Mother's Day special, one coffee meeting was set, and another consultation is tentative. And although I know the ultimate goal is to get business for yourself, we were all getting creative about how we could partner together for more abundant results. So great. Such a wonderful turn of days. The sun is shining... the birds are singing... I am woman... yada yada...

I'm still in the afterglow of all that empowerment... I have to go lay down!

Thursday, April 24, 2008

Eat, Pray, Love

Ahhh, the year long journey of mind, heart, and soul that Elizabeth Gilbert took us on. All the beauty in self discovery and healing. How could anyone read that book and not be completely transformed?

Unfortunately, I have perverted the Eat factor this week.

I lent my copy to a friend today. In taking it out, I had so many flashbacks... aha moments mixed with soul draining tears. I hope she finds solace in it, as I did. In fact, the way I'm feeling right now, I wish I was immersed in it rather than my own story. If I were to write my story today, it would never sell. It's not empowering or hopeful or inspiring.

It's pathetic.

I've been really thinking late into the night about the things that I allow. I allow a man who doesn't love me (at least not in the nurturing husband way) to keep me just within reach? I fill the companion role for him but without all that messy commitment crap. But what about me? Is that all I'm willing to settle for? Can I really have just a little compartment in his heart? Am I not worthy of more? "Don't fall for it," I've been screaming in my head. But no one has been listening.

So to punish myself, I decided to eat... bad.

I walked out of the grocery store two days ago with two Three Musketeers (which I guess is Six Musketeers), M&Ms, and a Twix bar. Also in the pile were two quarts of Ben & Jerry's, elixir of all broken hearts. Then there were the Cream Puffs. Oh and don't forget the Extra Creamy Whipped Cream.

What a pig.

And why? Because I stupidly let myself believe that anything good could come of my husband-ish and I dating. To be fair, I actually thought it might work. I mean, hey, my blood doesn't run cold, you know? He likes our set up of "I'll see you soon." Of course he does. But now, really living in it, I don't. I feel insecure all the time. Hollow. Sad. Except when he's here. And I don't want to wait around for him in order to feel like me. When we are not "dating" I don't have these issues. I'm self assured. Confident. Beautiful, even! When I'm with him, I'm scared, insecure... ugly.

Fortunately, I snapped out of it before I could do any damage.

I broke off our "arrangement" today. It was tough being honest without trying to persuade him to be different. He is who he is, and I can't do anything about that. I CAN, however, accept it and extend myself a little grace. Who knows... in a year, I may be filled with the kind of love that Ms. Gilbert found on her amazing journey. And maybe I'll have a more inspiring way to wrap up this chapter of my life.


PS: Thanks Vita for recommending this wonderful book to a friend.


Tuesday, April 22, 2008


We Recycle bottles, cans, grocery bags, etc. But more than that, we repurpose! (That's the new B.S. word for recycle.) I take great pride in turning trash to treasure. But now, I have to donate... give away... release... many items that I can no longer find purpose (or space) for.

In my new MUCH smaller home, I have had to Kaizen-ize. I'm making myself nuts trying to find a place for everything, leaning our items down to the necessary and practical. The difficulty is having to let go of the stuff I love.

Like my Thinking Chair.

It has to go. I am sad about the fact that it fits absolutely NO WHERE in our townhome. It's big and wide and deep and comfy. But it really doesn't fit anywhere. I need to let someone else enjoy reading their favorite books wrapped up in a blanket, enveloped in the cushions of that chair.

And my books.

Where am I supposed to put all the books? I could place them throughout the house on shelves, but with such a small space, it would look cluttered and messy. I suppose I could wrap each individual book in matching paper so that it looks all Pottery Barn. I could. But that would be an extravagant waste of time. Way more work than donating them to a women's home.

My Husband-ish is having a tough time letting go of stuff, too. He has a 1974 Porsche 914. He has TWO, actually. One is his daily driver; spunky yellow, zippy around a corner and really cute. The other one... well, it's pukey green, in a million pieces and rusting away. Definitely not cute. Guess which one he can't let go of... He talks about all the things he'll do to it , how it will turn out, where he'll race it. I wonder if I'll ever see It run. But then he wonders why I've hung on to That Chair for so long.

There are things in all of our lives that we as individuals have a tough time letting go of. Not because of the value it holds to this world, but because we identify it with a time in our life or feelings of security. When we relate to things by the feelings they spark, it's as though we are tossing the emotions aside. But IT'S JUST STUFF. Right? Why then is it so difficult to let someone else repurpose those things right on out the door?

It's not easy, but eventually we all benefit from letting go.


Happy Earth Day and Happy Repurposing!


Monday, April 21, 2008


The Boy has been whining for approximately 73 hours, 48 minutes, and 32 seconds. I finally snapped. Go! To! Bed! NOWWWW!! And don't wake up until tomorrow morning! Don't worry... he's fed... Unfortunately, he had to share his nuggets and came in second in the mac & cheese race, which was the reason for the final whine blast.

I could really use some WINE myself. Crap. I hate that.


Saturday, April 19, 2008


All week, it's been beautiful here... glorious even...

Yesterday afternoon, as I was driving over the hill, I looked out towards the beach to see a thick fog bank covering the coast. It was one of those that just sort of clings to the edge of the world. I knew it could go either way... off shore or right over us. Since today is my big nine-person shoot, it only stands to reason that the precipitation would have just come on shore.


Now I have to watch the sky for the next few hours and see if this crap is going to burn off. If not, we may have to reschedule... to next Saturday... the day that I already have two social functions to choose between. That's what you call a serious codependent conundrum.

Please burn off... please burn off... please burn off...


Friday, April 18, 2008

Uncommon Grace

I had the good fortune of visiting a local college campus yesterday for their International Day celebration. At the booth representing China, there was a kind gentleman who was writing names in Chinese Calligraphy. He took the syllables of each name and translated them into characters. Each character represented something different when translated back to English. My son's name returned as "Hero" and my daughter's was "Beautiful Girl." I wasn't really expecting anything profound for my name, so it was a nice surprise and so encouraging to hear my characters translated back to me as:

Uncommon Grace


Thursday, April 17, 2008

It's a Story... of a Man Named Brady

Ahhh the Brady's. I loved them. I laughed with them. I cried with them. I danced with them. And when the Brady sisters got married all those years later, I cleared my calendar to make sure I got to see the episode. I instantly believed that all the products Mrs. Brady peddled were supreme as they were endorsed by the Best Mom Ever.

I wanted to be a Brady more than anything else in the world.

My mom used to get mad at me for wanting that kind of life. She used to yell at me about how silly I was. I guess she was just upset at her own insecurities and took them out on me. I actually discussed this with my "doctor" the other day... just to find out that many Latch-Key Gen-X'ers had clung to images of family to survive their parents' Self-Actualization, Me-Me-Me crap. Their knee jerk divorces and search for their personal best left a whole generation drowning in their wake.

I guess that's why I am separated and trying to figure things out with my husband rather than tossing it all in and going the route of our parent's, inflicting more pain and insecurity on future generations. It's what I feel is the right thing to do.

This article in Newsweek really spoke to me.

The more I think I'm alone and the only one that had my experience, the more I have come to realize that there are whole sub-cultures of every one of my experiences. In a way, I'm relieved... but now I have to find something else to be "special" for. I know! How about something...



Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Is that chocolate or poop??

Taxes are done... Who needs a laugh? I feel a Chick Flick Night coming on...

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

Mirror Images

I shot this self portrait as the afternoon sun was peeking in to my office. The ornate mirror that used to hang in the sitting room of my former home rests on the floor waiting to be hung. I sat cross-legged in front of it and started experimenting with angles, shadows, streams of light, etc. Fun stuff...

Monday, April 14, 2008

Horoscope Spying on Me?

This was Saturday's scope:

Are you an intellectual or a poet, dear Taurus, a novelist or a playwright? The celestial energy is leaving you alone with your anxieties and questions. You are sure of only one thing: words are friends you have decided to spend the rest of your life with. This is a kind of dream and a challenge that corresponds well to your identity. Get to work. You will find your vocation, as well as your passion, in your writing.


I know I'm not supposed to believe in these things and I know that even a broken clock is right twice a day... but it's been like this for weeks now! And not the self fulfilling prophecy kinda way, either. Hmmm... God gave us the stars, right? And he ordered them a certain way, right? And we don't really understand it all, right? So... hmmm... I don't know...


Sunday, April 13, 2008

Livin' in the Now

My daughter came across one of my little tiny books. You know, the ones filled with short quotes, only long enough to fill about an inch of space. This one was on Quotable Women. I've had it for over ten years, but I always find something new in it. Today, my daughter found us something:

Imagination is the highest kite one can fly. ~Lauren Bacall

As fate would have it, we had a moment of pure serendipity. The winds were extreme today in San Diego. Instantly, we got on line to see who would have kites... the really cool kind. Within an hour we were up on an empty ball field on a hill behind our home. It was hot and windy and too much fun. I'm hoping the summer wind comes back tomorrow.


Saturday, April 12, 2008

My First Camera

When I was nine, there were two things that were more precious to me than anything: my dorkie, rainbow Mork suspenders and my Polaroid. (I had a closet full of Barbies and all the trappings of her glamourous lifestyle, which, as any self respecting BarbiePhile knows, belong in a completely different category)... anyhoo... ignoring the suspenders...

The Polaroid.

It was a gift from my Nana. I was her favorite. Yep... that was my role. And because of that, I got whatever I wanted for my birthdays. I wasn't a selfish or spoiled child. I understood finances and the limitations of ours and Nana's so I never pushed it. (One year, I got Barry Manilow's Even Now, easily less than ten dollars at the time. You could have knocked me over with a feather when I opened my gift! My whole Mexican family, too, for that matter. They weren't quite sure what to think of my fascination with the CopaCabana guy that seemed a little, well, you know...)

The next year, I got the magical box that spat out photos in an instant. WOW! I KNEW I was special 'cause that was WAY over ten dollars! I had to save for the film by doing, I don't know what... selling avocados?? I can't remember. But save I did. As you could only snap ten images per pack, and again, being a family of modest means (read: butt-ass-poor), I made every shot count. I learned to have a steady hand. I learned to make sure the flash was always ready to go. I posed my friends and family to fit inside the little red square. In short, I was training to be a photographer.

My Nana passed away a little less than nine years ago. I don't miss her temper, but I sure do miss being The Favorite. Now I have to say goodbye to another life marker. Although it was announced a couple of months ago, I was in denial about it. Seriously. Don't laugh. I had a really tough time with the headlines: Polaroid will no longer make the instant camera.

A moment of silence... please...

My Nana planted a seed that I am now reaping the rewards of. What was a fun hobby turned into a passion and is now a means of self support. So before there are no more of the precious pop-up insta-magic boxes and any remaining film cartridges that limit my shooting to ten images, I'll be stocking up.

I'm picturing Elaine and the Sponges.


Friday, April 11, 2008

WANTED: Someone Just Like Me

It would be just fantastic to talk about my life without having to explain myself or deal with those eye twitches and not so funny smirks from others. It would be so nice to have someone else understand my idiosyncrasies. SO here goes...

SSWBF (semi-single, whitish brown female) seeks friend who is just like her. Must be divorced AND separated. Former(ish) husbands should be adrenaline junkies with a need for speed (ie race car drivers and jet pilots). Said husbands should also care more about their hobbies than their women. Friend must be familiar with the codependent behavior that made her think that trying hard enough would have made things better. Must have at least four children ranging in ages from Preschool to College with at least one of the children completely self-excommunicated. Prefer a friend raised on own as her parents were too busy fully realizing themselves. Must love the Lord but cannot use any annoying Christianese when conversing. Should be interested in hiking and biking as well as pedicures and spa getaways. Doesn't mind making an ass out of herself when attempting to surf. Potential friends please apply. No credit check but a full psyche eval would be good. (Membership in recovery program would suffice for psyche eval)

I need to get out more.


Thursday, April 10, 2008

Mama's Little Helper

No... not Zoloft... you sick women...

How many of us are tapped out emotionally and creatively? How many of you have made the same five meals in the last two months? I'm here to tell you that I have. So imagine my amazing happiness when I found a site filled with easy cooking: It's for Working Moms... which is EVERY mom (can I get an AMEN?)!

I don't have to be a perfect mom for my kids to love me. I can... and will... admit my shortcomings. That includes losing my love of cooking. I'm okay with that. Especially since I am now my target weight. Amazing what a separation and loss of appetite can do for you. But the kids... they still need to eat, so MANGIA!

Don't say I never did anything for you.


Wednesday, April 9, 2008

Learning To Ride

I was listening to a couple of dads today talking about teaching their kids to ride their bikes for the first time. As they were describing the day they first let go, you could hear the joy in their voices. I thought back to the time that I taught my oldest. We would go up and down the street every morning before school, each day going a little more. Her sister would be sitting in her car seat with a warm bottle of milk quietly watching, not understanding why we were laughing and giggling.

One day, I knew it was time.

And so I let go and smiled as I watched her get further and further away. "You're doing it!!" A little panic and then a BIG smile! She was so excited and swelling with pride knowing that she was the force making her bike go. And, wow ... I still feel tears welling up in me at the expression on her face that I can still see so vividly in my mind. I wondered today, listening to those guys, what was it that made me so happy then and even now in recollecting the day. I suppose there was the part that she accomplished something that had previously scared her. There was also the happiness in seeing the pure joy on my child's face. And, of course, the relief of knowing that I was released from running unnaturally crouched over a bike. But it was more than that.

It was the first time I let her go.

I knew then the impact that letting go would have on my heart. I knew that it would probably scare me... a lot. That I might feel unsure and want to grab hold and not let her go forward on her own. I knew that there would always be the danger of hindering her growth because of my insecurities. That I might... I could possibly stay unnaturally crouched over her forever. But I also knew then that I had to remember the look on her face that morning before school. I knew I would have to get used to letting her go, little by little... until one day, she would be off on her own.

This past weekend, my City Girl flew home from The City for a visit. She had people to see and places to go. But she still had time to hang out with Mom. It was so sweet...

We went for a bike ride.


I love you, Jazzy. Thanks for letting me let you go... and for coming back every now and then.


Sunday, April 6, 2008

My Part

So part of this whole Sense-of-Self thing (for me, anyway) has been taking ownership of my part. After the Open Letter episode (which has now been taken off the air, thank you very much) I felt better. I really really did.

And then I didn't.

What if we get back together? Wow... my friends will think I'm a HUGE Jackass after airing all that dirty laundry! Well, that was the purpose of going public right? To be held accountable. Still... I wondered... what if? So then, as part of my old, scary, codependent cycle, I fell back into making excuses for him and blaming myself.

So much for My New Self.

Darn... I felt so weak and powerless, and then just sick about that cycle repeat. Shoot! I was doing so well. Fortunately, it wasn't a complete setback. I started to see my part in this whole thing. So here goes:

~I can be pretty stubborn when it comes to things I think I deserve... like that Kirby. Damn thing can airspray paint! Did you know that?

~I whine when he flies all the time. Did I mention I KNEW he was a pilot when I married him?

~I pout when we don't do active stuff together. This one is a toss up. When we were first married, we used to go power walking all the time. Then I had the baby and she would always get the sniffles when we came back from the beach, so since there were no sidewalks anywhere else in town *ahem* I stopped walking and blamed my weight gain on his lack of support. Which is sort of true... but not entirely.

Stupid stuff like that used to get us both so blown up. Kind of like the toothpaste-cap argument. Obviously, things got worse and worse over the years. Without any guidance on the communication front, we started letting those annoying little behaviors become huge elephants in every room until we were doing pretty mean things to each other. We didn't cope well. We didn't talk. We just took to our separate coping mechanisms and limped along.

We were ugly with denial.

The worst thing that I have to regret about it all (and this is the biggest part of My Part) was that I expected him to be someone he was not. I wanted an apple... I really really wanted an apple. So why did I complain when I walked over to the orange tree on my own volition and picked an orange? Did I think an orange would magically transform into an apple if I held it and wished long and hard enough? If I did everything in my power to sweeten, cajole, persuade this orange to become that apple? I think, too, he might have expected ME to be someone I was not... or was not capable of being. We both reached for something that was more a mirage than reality. The mirage kept us hopeful, but the reality kept popping in to shake us back awake.

For now we are separated behaving kindly towards each other and handling our adult obligations like business partners. We are married by law only, it seems. So now what? I have no idea. I do know that the clock isn't going to stop ticking, the earth isn't going to stop spinning, and the pages of the calendar will not cease flying off month after month. There is still the Living thing that needs to happen. I still have children to raise and guide. I still have photos to shoot and copy to write. I have invitations to accept, kindnesses to acknowledge, books to read, and trails to climb. I don't know what will happen with my marriage. I do know that I have a lot to accomplish tomorrow. And that's about all I can take care of for now. I hate to say this but...

One day at a time.


Saturday, April 5, 2008

Sense of Self

Do you ever get the feeling that you are moving along in a life that was designed for someone else, by someone else, for some other outcome? Like you're on stage in a play you never auditioned for?

That's what life felt like for me for such a long time. I was really trapped by trappings and by pleasing people that I didn't really care for. I am so aware of that now. It's been an amazing, eye-opening journey... one that still has a long course ahead. I feel like I'm starting to be the person God designed me to be. He gave me some talents and the ability to capitalize on them. I'm not going to regret any of the mistakes or sidetracking jaunts I've taken up until now. I'll just put them in my pocket and keep going down the road. Maybe I'll pull the stories out every now and then... look at them in the sunlight... maybe laugh, maybe cry...

And then what?

What to do with all those little stories. Hmmm.... I suppose I could just sit on them... or keep them in the dark... ignoring the lessons... hiding my embarrassing moments... pretending... but that would just be silly. I suppose I need to fill in some blanks. Like a Mad Lib of purpose. Purpose... that's such a funny concept. As if it were some great Thing, your Accomplishment, your Magnum Opus. As if Living itself were lacking in purpose.

Living for Real. Not just in Theory.


Thursday, April 3, 2008

Customer Service

I was checking out a domain name for my photography business. This is the message that I got from the company regarding my very important inquiry.

  • If you are interested in purchasing a domain name that is being used by our traffic network, please fill in the form below.
  • Frankly, domain name sales inquires are, for the most part, a waste of our time and therefore reside on the bottom of our priority list.
  • Replies can take up to several weeks, but usually less.

Wow... now that is some serious customer service. You know, even if you are really that good... do you really have to be an a$$ about it? I wonder what brilliant sales and marketing genius decided that this was the best way to explain the company priorities. And what did he ("cause you know it's a guy) get paid to pen such deep thoughts?

Makes you want to go purchase your insignificant domain elsewhere, doesn't it. Yep.