I deserve it … NO… I want it……

In celebration of my 100th post…and because I don’t have anything new ready to share with you this week…I am rerunning my first post from November 5, 2010. I can’t believe how fast time has gone by or that I have stuck with this for so long. I am impressed with myself : )

I recently bought some new furniture. Okay, I recently bought a lot of new furniture, at a rather expensive local store. Something I don’t do, I shop for bargains, get it cheap, purchase incrementally. But this day I decided I had slid off my fiancé’s leather couch for the last time. I hopped in the car, his car- a cute red convertible- something else I don’t do because I am afraid to scratch, bump or bruise it. I went by myself, another novelty, we usually we shop for major purchases together, but today he wanted to watch the masters and I wanted to shop in the spirit of endless possibilities. It worked for both of us. I stopped for a latte along the way, feeling much younger than I am as my hair flew in a million directions in the open topped car. I didn’t allow myself to think about the knots I would attempt to brush through tonight. I arrived at the store, was greeted by Sherri, a very friendly sales woman who quickly became my new best friend.

I found a great couch; over sized, on sale and I even though I picked the most expensive house couchfabric to cover it in, the price didn’t go up. This was my day! So, it only made sense to now find a matching chair, which I did, with an ottoman. Unfortunately the fabric I picked did increase the price, but I had saved so much on the couch, right? Feeling very satisfied with my purchases, the thought occurred to me-this may be a good time to consider looking for a new dining room table.

When I moved into my fiancés home in November we combined our collection of “lifetime, kid functional, great flea market finds” furniture. I guess you could call the look….ugly. It didn’t take me long to find the perfect pedestal table. And it was being discontinued, so the price was great! How blessed am I?

I returned home and tentatively shared my expedition with Tom. He didn’t quite follow my excitement, but he is smart enough and old enough to know better than to say…”You did what?” Plus we agreed I was buying, so….what could he say? Other than, “you really want to get rid of my leather couch and chair?”

As time set in I panicked, I asked myself “What have I done?” I felt guilty. It was too much. Who do I think I am? I spoke with some friends who assured me I got great deals and it is all really good furniture…as only good women friend will do…and they said, “After all, you deserve it!”

Really? I deserve it? What does that mean? I had been noticing for awhile that women say to themselves or to a friend, “You deserve it”! When I heard this spoken to me I wondered what I had done to deserve it? Had I been really, really good, worked really, really hard, done “it” right? Is that why I deserve it? What if I hadn’t overachieved, does that mean I don’t deserve it?

As I thought about this, I concluded that we tell ourselves and others “They deserve it” because it is a very clever detour around feeling our guilt of wanting and getting! I watch my women friends and clients work harder and never feel good enough or deserving. I see us care more about others and care less about ourselves. I began to get curious. What if I felt my wants, regardless of what I have done, accomplished, or achieved? Could I let myself befriend my desire, know it intimately, inside and out, like a treasured lover? Can I tolerate feeling my desire, as well as, the possibility of being disappointed?. What if I want it and can’t afford it or my partner isn’t in agreement with my wants. Do I chose to ignore my desire so I never feel my disappointment? Like the saying, “Blessed are those that expect nothing for they shall not be disappointed.” I think this is convenient… for awhile… but exhausting and soul robbing in the end.

I bought this furniture because I wanted it. Plain and simple. I want my new home to welcome me at the door with furnishing I adore and can fall into at the end of the day. I want to feel proud of the home we have created and welcome friends in to share our loved creation. I wanted it, I could make it happen, this time, and for that I feel extremely grateful. I may also deserve it, but that is not why I bought it. I trusted myself, my desire, felt it and loved it into action.

With love
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

Mom’s Who Do To Much

The other day a coworker asked what I was doing for Thanksgiving.

nice gloves

 

“Cooking.”

 

She asked if I usually cook Thanksgiving. It struck me as an odd question. Who else would cook?…I am the mom…after all.

 

“Yes, I have cooked, give or take a year, for the past 27 years.”

 

Her eyes got big, “Wow, I never cook Thanksgiving.” Now I was intrigued. She is a mom too. How did she pulled that off?

 

She explained that the first time she cooked a turkey it wasn’t fully cooked when she served it, so her family didn’t want her to be responsible for the next years, or any year after thats’ holiday meal.

 

Brilliant. Why had’t I thought of that? I had, after all, accidentally burned the first shirt my then husband asked me to iron resulting in his never asking again. I had the paradigm. I saw how it worked. I didn’t take the hint.

 

Later that same day, when rescheduling a client, I offered a session the week of Thanksgiving. She declined explaining she will be too busy preparing for Thanksgiving. She was cooking.

 

I thought of the many Thanksgiving weeks that I worked in Pittsburgh while living in Chalk Hill. An hour and a half commute that I returned home from on Wednesday night around 6 or 7. I had made the stuffing, nut bread, and cranberry bread and shopped the weekend before so all that needed to be done to get dinner on the table in the next 20 hours was par boil, peel and make the white sauce for the creamed onions; peel, boil and mash the potatoes; prepare and boil the green beans to toss into the sautéed garlic and chopped shallots; whip the heavy cream into perfect decadence; put the leaf in the table and set it for 8-10 friends and family; panic because every year I seemed to forget the cornucopia themed paper napkins leaving me with Scott Every Days to design the Martha Stewart wannabe table; oh yeah, stuff and cook the turkey.

Apple and pumpkin pie was deliciously prepared by my then Husband. I never learned how to make pies, so he did. (Hint, hint.) Kathleen brought the sweet potato casserole. Heidi another dessert and/or vegetable.

 

This is what I expected of myself. And soon it became what my family expected also. I  trained them well. It never occurred to me that it was too much to do or that I could do less. Especially when working a full week. Out of town no less.

 

It is Thanksgiving again with Christmas right around the corner. And you know I am no easier on myself at Christmas. I usually begin asking myself, sometime the morning of December 26th, why I do this to myself year after year, concluding with my traditional New Years Resolution promising not do so much in the new year.

 

I do it for other reasons too. I do it for the sake of tradition, so my kids have endearing holiday memories, because my mom cooked Mama B’s cornbread stuffing and creamed onions, although she did not work outside of the home and the tension at the well set table of china and sterling usually made dinner a fast and furious event, because when all the preparations are complete and the people I love most in the world are sitting around the table, I feel sweetly and fully blessed.

 

Yesterday I was offering to teach Jena how to make her great grandmothers Alabama corn bread stuffing. (Perhaps unconsciously passing the torch…PLEASE.) Jena said she was planning on being one of those people that never learned to cook. (She does seem to date guys that love to cook.) I heard myself judgmentally ask,”How do you think that will be for your kids?” My question shamed her into retracting her statement saying she was only kidding.

 

As I retold this exchange to Tom I owned how sexist it was of me to assume holiday traditions will be her responsibility.

 

So how does a mom do it? Create tradition, if that is important to her, and not exhaust herself in the process? Ask for more help? Do less? Care less? It is a labor of love that can end in tired resentment.

 

I would love to hear your ideas. How do you do it?

 

And Happy Happy Thanksgiving!

A No Sun Sunday

The perfect Sunday. The illusion that there is nothing to be done, but of course there is, my winter clothes need to be carried from their basement storage up two flights of stairs to my bedroom closet, reading and writing to be completed, phone calls to be returned. For some unknown reason, maybe Grace, maybe my attempt to stay in the moment, I remain in the illusion and have a lovely Sunday.

 

Even my trip to the gym, followed by a quick stop at the grocery store, is not pressured by the clock or a to do list.

 

Around two o’clock we decide it might be a good time to watch a DVD a friend suggested, Adventureland. She said it was a sweet movie. Seemed like a good day for a sweet movie. Shortly into the movie I realized I had seen it, I seldom remember a movie by it’s title, but I often recognize the story line. (This costs us a few extra dollars a year in repeat rentals. Oh well.)

 

So we both fell asleep on the couch, a fire blazing in the fireplace, Clea, (short for Cleopatra because we knew as soon as we met her she was a queen,) my cat of unknown age who we adopted when she found her way to my son’s lap during a bonfire party twelve years ago, who is in the process of dying from kidney failure, asleep with us on my belly. It was one of those great naps because in this day there is nothing else to do but nap. My whole body let go into the couch, letting the couch have all of me. Clea letting me have all of her.

 

Beans and greens for dinner, the beans have been soaking since last night, the organic kale we grabbed yesterday at the co op is beautiful. I feel healthy just looking at it. I know I will feel better eating it. It is the perfect no sun Sunday in November meal.

 

 

Maybe an extra hour is responsible for this leisurely day. Having more time always seems to slow me down. I relax when I believe there is enough time to do nothing.

So Sorry

Last week was a doosey.

My printer stopped talking to my lap top after I replaced an empty ink cartridge. Two  ink cartridges later, because the first cartridge was defective (1 out of 50 are I now know) and a $89.95 visit from the Staples Geek Squad, they are now talking.

My car was feeling funny. So I did what we are do. I took it in to my mechanic. I needed a new axle. So I got one. It still felt funny. I took it back to the garage. I had gotten a bad axle. They replaced it. It still felt funny. The tires needed to be balanced. Last night I drove home smoothly.

I began to see a theme.

Then my intern was working on my blog to make some upcoming changes- I will tell you about them in my soon to follow post-and  Off the Couch when off line. It took 3 days to resurrect. Hmmmm, I won’t even go there.

So I am back. Thank you for missing me.

 

 

Good Surprises

So I am here to tell you, ya just never know.

 

We just have to be open to the next thing that appears.

 

So I am telling myself…as I work with determination and faith to develop a new venture I am alternately thrilled by and terrified of. (Can I end a sentence with of?)

 

I am offering my counsel as a financial wellness coach.

 

I am thrilled because I have been informally sharing with anyone who would listen–and some who would not–my personal financial transformation.

 

After my divorce I decided to I needed to change my relationship with money. I knew if I was going to make it on my own financially I had to take a look what was not working-just like I had done with my ailing marriage. Over time and with a discerning eye it was clear-money and I needed some couples counseling.

 

So, one night, with a bottle of wine, steamed shrimp, cocktail sauce and chocolate for dessert (my comfort menu at the time), I sat myself and money down on the couch. We spent the evening reacquainting ourselves with one another. We painfully sorted through everything, especially what was coming in and what was going out.

 

What made this evening so memorable is that money and I became very clear we both needed more from each other. I needed money to help me have more adventures in my life and money needed me to be pay more attention to it.

 

So we began, awkwardly at first, like dancing with a new partner, to develop our rhythm.

 

This meant learning several new steps. I had to look at long held family dysfunctions concerning finances. I had to treat myself and money with respect…everyday. This meant making responsible money choices. At least once a month I needed to spend quality time with my budget and bills. Finally, and maybe most importantly, I needed to dream and plan my future.

 

The resulting two-step crescendoed into a very specific budget system I call The Best Money Management System in the World (pretentious perhaps, but true!). Eight years later I am living the financial life I dreamed about that night on the couch.

 

I recently shared my journey and my system with some close friends. Their unanimous advice was to teach this to others. “Really? Me teach money stuff?” I countered, “I can’t teach this.” This brings me to the terrified of part of my story.

 

You see I was never a math wiz. Actually, that isn’t quite true. I was good at math until I hit middle school where my 7th grade math teacher hated me. I, in turn, hated him. He was also the vice principal. So while commendations for History and Spanish were being sent home, Mr Small (yes that was really his name) sent home Math deficiencies. He called my mom in for conferences on my behavior and dress. He took exception to the culottes I wore, calling them shorts. Unfortunately for him, my mom had made those culottes and was quite proud of them. Mr Small was sorry he had shared his opinion with my mom. He never commented on my culottes again.

 

He also would keep me in his office all day bullying me into confessing to offenses I didn’t commit. I was a really good girl in middle school. I tried very hard to stay on adults’ good side. My rebellion thankfully showed her brilliant face though by refusing to give in to his harassment. I was determined and I succeeded sitting the full day in his office without showing him any hint of fatigue. He finally gave up, but the damage to my math self esteem was done. I had come to believe I was bad in math.

 

I went on to bomb out on my math SAT’s. I zoned out when I saw anything math related. My first job after college was as a bank teller outside of Richmond Virginia. My friends were astounded. They knew my talent was in talking with people, not banking. However, in Va. I needed a masters to work in the therapeutic field, so I took the job that would hire me.

 

Citizens Saving and Loan.

 

My money drawer never settled. Some days it was over, some days under. Amazingly Citizens never accused me of embezzling. I think it was because they knew I was not mathematically savvy enough to rip them off. At my exit interview my manager Rick commented that my people skills were exemplary. He went on to say that wasn’t so true of my teller skills.

 

He highlighted the day a familiar customer pulled up to the drive thru window explaining she had forgotten her check. She asked if I could give her the amount of the check and she would run the check back later in the day. I had no doubt she absolutely would bring the check in. I also knew first hand what a pain it is to forget your check when you need the cash for your next errand. I considered her request. I trusted her.  I still believe, to this day, she would have come back with the check. Rick didn’t agree. He said, “No.”

 

Today, I am out from under Mr Small’s spell and I understand why Rick said no.

 

Necessity derailed my self-fulfilling prophecy, as it is known to do. I needed to support myself and my kids, I wanted a life with more financial pleasantness and security.  I had to get serious with myself and with my relationship with money.

 

I am writing this on my way to Barcelona, Spain followed by 10 days in the South of France. Places I never dreamed I would be able to afford to visit. I have also been to vacation in Paris, Mexico, New Mexico, Wyoming, Cape Cod and the California wine country in the past 8 years.

 

My ability to travel is a dream come true. My ability to pay for it feels like a miracle, but it isn’t. It is a result of using a very specific budget system that thinks ahead so there is money there when you need some.

 

Who knew?

 

Wish You Were Here

I know I left you hanging…desperate for pictures of Toronto from our airport hotel window. I even took some for you to see, but for some technological reason that is waaayyyy beyond me, I was unable to post them. Until now.

But now I have a new, better, wonderful view to show you. The one that comes with the house we are renting in Gabian France.

Pretty amazing huh?

When Tom and I travel we like to bring some tradition back with us to keep that trip alive. When we went to Paris we loved the hand held shower heads. It felt so luxurious to have the shower head directly washing our toes we decided to install one in our shower at home. When we went to Mexico we brought home our love of Mexican food. Now we cook, a couple times a month, as traditionally Mexican as we can-in Pittsburgh. So what tradition do we want to bring back from the south of France?

Morning and evening swims.

Yeah, yeah, I know, minor detail, we don’t have a pool. But we didn’t have a hand held shower head 3 years ago either….

 

Here are a few more pictures I’d like to share with you.

 

We finally got our welcome to Barcelona sangria…They were huge and very good!!!

The guy rubbing his head? That is a couple from Essex England. They were visiting for the week and taking the bus tour of Barcelona the next day. They have been to the US, to California, they liked it a lot. I could tell you more but I won’t…

 

This picture is in the medieval village of Pezenas. There is a great street market there every Saturday. They have  food, wine, baskets, clothes, soaps and jewelry from vendors that speak very little to no English-in fact we have found that to be mainly true here- so our patched together French/Spanish is useless. Pezenas also has shops along narrow castle-like ancient passageways. We bought lots of stuff. I love stuff.

Not quite sure how I will get it home though.

 

Since I have been doing more traveling I have noticed I am drawn to windows and doors in other cities/countries. I made Tom stop the car for this one. I may frame this for our living room.

I wonder who lives there? What are their hopes and dreams? What is their favorite food? Are they happy?

I really hope so.

 

SO I will end here. It is late and we are headed to Provence tomorrow.

Hope you all are well.

xo Patricia

 

 

 

 

It’s Not Polite to Stare

Yesterday as I drove down a residential city street, a man in a white pick up truck pulled out of his parking place headed in my direction. I noticed that instead of looking out of his windshield, as is suggested and preferable, he was intently peering out of his passenger side window at something on the sidewalk. As a result of his wayward stare his oversized truck was headed down the middle of the street-straight toward me.

 

“What are you looking at?” I yelled as I looked to the sidewalk. The answer. A sweet young girl walking down the sidewalk in her summer skirt and t-shirt. “Really?” I impotently yelled through closed windows, “You are old enough to be her dad-first of all, you are going run into me or another parked car-second of all, and have a little respect-third of all.” (Is there a third of all?)

 

This morning on my way to work while I waited at a stop light, another man in a pick up truck-what is it with men and pick ups-had his head stuck out of his window to ogle a girl walking past. When he couldn’t twist his neck any further he used his rear view mirror to lock on. I began yelling again, this time hoping to catch his eye letting him know I saw him being a lech.

I get the attraction. I look at men and women too. I am attracted for many reasons. I think they are beautiful. I like their outfit. I don’t like their outfit. I like their dog. There are many reasons to look at one another.  But when guys are looking only at boobs and butts, as if the woman is on the side walk is there for their pleasure, it is time to teach them some manners. I wanted to slap their faces.

 

When my daughter, Jena, turned 21 we took her out to celebrate. My son’s fiance was singing at a local club so it was a perfect celebration. As we sipped our drinks, Jena her first legal one, I perused the room. My eyes caught a 50-60 something year old man, slight build, polyester suit, talking with many different women. I noticed when the woman turned her back his eyes went straight to her rear end. When she turned back toward him it was her boobs he zeroed in on. I felt a hot flash coming on.

 

Then, to my surprise, he was next to me and walked right up to Jena. He stood way too close to her and said, “Don’t you look sparkly tonight.”

 

I couldn’t help myself. My body moved into action before my brain was even consulted. I put my body between Jena and this lounge lizard. After his gaze left my breasts to meet my eyes, I squared off with him, “I am her mother. You need to back off!”

 

“Oh mama bear. I was just telling her she is sparkly,” he said, his reptilian tongue striking the air between us. “Back off,” I growled, puffing myself up to stand a good bit taller than him.

 

He walked away.

 

The kids were amazed, both that I intimidated him to leave and that what he did bothered me. Perhaps you have to be in your 50’s and menopausal (make my day) to be intolerant of one more man’s bad manners. Maybe you have to be a mom of a young woman to feel the fury that moved my body between them. Regardless, Jena gave me a hug and thanked me. She got it..it’s impolite to stare. I had her back.

 

 

The story doesn’t end here…this creep circled back. He wound his way around the bar to where we stood. He stopped in front of my husband. “You have one uptight wife,” he pronounced.

 

Tom held his gaze, man to slime ball and like waving a fly away from your food said “Go away.”

 

He did.

Comparing Yourself to Others Never Ends Well

Spending the week in Shangri-La was rejuvenating. The view from every deck and window, including the window next to the toilet

looking to the right off of the deck

in my bathroom, overlooked marsh lined channels leading out to the ocean where fishing boats dotted the water early each morning. The house was comfortably elegant with dark wood wainscoting, hard wood floors, comfy furniture and an eclectic smattering of master pieces hung with distinction next to Debbie’s quirky sense of decorating humor. This included schools of fish, made of different metals, clay, and wood, swimming mostly in the same direction, except for a few free thinking swimmers going the opposite way, arranged on two adjoining walls in a bathroom, jars of wonderful old marbles, interesting woven baskets holding porcupine quills, clay sculptures with imaginative faces…you get the idea. When I wasn’t admiring the view, or lost in conversation with my dear friends, I was amused by the subtle humor tucked into little nooks just waiting to be noticed.

 

And to the left toward the ocean

Spending the week in Shangri-La also had a dark side, and mine showed up big time. I began comparing my life circumstances to that of my friends. I tormented myself with, “Where did I go wrong? What if I had gone to a better college?  Maybe followed a different career path.”

 

Then I moved into what I call Cinderella questions. These have to do with a man rescuing me. “Should I have married a rich man, someone who could have provided paradise?” And if so, “How come I didn’t?” My answers were not pretty. My inferiority was in full bloom. She straight-out informed me that I could never have landed a rich man. I am not good enough. Not smart enough. Not pretty enough. (I’ll end here if you don’t mind; this is depressing.)

 

I thought about my middle class family of origin and how I learned limits. How not to expect more than there was. How to be happy with what you had. These are lessons I respect but as I wandered the rooms of this magnificent home, I began to challenge them. What if I expected more? Wanted more? What if being dissatisfied led me to more? Would this be my house?

 

The onslaught of questions left me uncertain of me. I was knocked off my center. However I knew, from past encounters with my darkness, that these shadow sightings are often a good thing…in the end. I trusted if I could stay present to myself long enough, listened to my self judgements until they were hoarse and was honest about this predatory side of me, I would land back on my feet with a greater love and trust for myself. (At least that is what I told myself.)

 

This was risky business-listening to me compare myself to others. I noticed how comparing myself never ends well. When I compare myself to people who have more I feel less than and when I compare myself to people who have less I feel guilty. It is a lose/lose proposition.

 

Returning home to my no longer newlywed husband I find myself feeling satisfied as I look around my surroundings. I feel at home in our space. I love our 7’ x 9’ deck overlooking enough trees that one might think it is woods, but it’s not. I like the simplicity. I welcome the familiarity. And I adore the man I picked, and would pick all over again.

 

So perhaps in the end it is all good. Both Shangri-La and middle class are wonderful gifts to be fully enjoyed.

 

It is comparing yourself to others that limits what you can love, mainly in yourself.

Where Have I Been? Again…

Missing in action.

 

I do this sometimes. I have since I was a kid. I disappear from view, a ‘time out’ of sorts.

 

Historically these MIA’s have been a result of my wish to be found, usually by my family. Would they notice I was gone? Would they care? Am I important enough to be found?

 

If I am honest there was some of that in my absence the past several weeks. (I wish I could say I am beyond that insecurity, I manage it much better these days, but I doubt it will ever be completely gone.) But, more than that, I ‘checked out’ because I lost my vision and my energy. I began to question my decision to become a blogger.

 

Two years ago I didn’t even know what a blog was, let alone how to manage one. So I have been learning. It has been a very left brained-not my strong suit-endeavor, which was painfully tedious. Then there was the need to develop a blog readership. That means social media. So I acquired a facebook page(s) and a twitter account. My facebook page continues to feel like an unorganized closet full of people I don’t know-is that a good thing?-and messages/invitations to things I am not the least bit interested in. I just don’t get it. As for twitter, I have know idea what to tweet about.

 

My exasperation worsened when I realized that there are soooo many Off the Couch blogs written by other therapists. My brilliant idea was not so unique, special or trademarked-which means some other therapist could ask me to “cease and desist” if they started their blog before me. That was the last straw. My discouragement became exhaustion and I let go…of my vision and my desire. I do that to. I sometimes let go of my dreams from a place of exhaustion and overwhelm.  But what I also do, if my dream is in my blood, I pick myself and it back up and start again.

 

So here I am. I am back, starting again, but, this time with the help of a 22 year old intern that is waaayyy smarter about all of this blog and social media stuff than I am. Karen is going to help me clean my facebook closet, tell me what the hell to twitter about, and rename my blog.

 

This is where you, my readers, can help. I need your input and ideas. We are going to start with rebranding Off the Couch blog. I will miss Duke as my mascot. I love the double entendre. But I need to let go, this time of Duke and not my dream to be a top 100 women’s blog.

 

So if you don’t mind, I will run some fresh names for the blog by you.  Let me know what you think. And if you have any ideas to improve the blog, an idea for a new name, social media strategies, or anything else, by all means let me know.

 

I also want to apologize to those of you that look forward to my Monday morning posts. I am sorry for the last 4 weeks of radio silence. I also want to thank those of you that reached out to tell me you missed me. It’s good to be found…

More Noticing…There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon

 

This is a book I used to read to my kids. There’s No Such Thing as a Dragon by Jack Kent. It is the story of young Bill Bixbee who finds a baby dragon on his bed one morning. He carries the dragon downstairs to breakfast to show his mother. Despite the

dragon standing on the table eating his pancakes, Bill’s mother insists, “There’s no such thing as a dragon.” Bill accepts her view on the situation and the baby dragon grows a bit bigger. Throughout the day, each time Bill tries to show the damage done by the dragon, his mom denies it’s existence and the dragon grows even bigger. Until, by the end of the day, the dragon is so large it carries the house down the street after a bread truck. When Bill’s mom notices her house has been carried off, she finally acknowledges the dragons presence. With her noticing the dragon miraculously returns to kitten size. The story ends with mom petting the dragon while it rests on her lap. “I don’t mind dragons this size,” she says to her son, “I wonder why it had to get so big?” Bill replies,”I think it just wanted to be noticed.”

 

I LOVE this story. In it’s simplicity is it’s wisdom. Often something has to get really big for us to notice it.

 

I can choose not to notice my life’s dragons. Continue reading