Home Improvement Therapy

Lately I have been wanting all the home improvements projects done…yesterday. My mind wanders to my to-do list when I should be listening to how Tom’s day was or paying attention in traffic. I have become obsessed, or organized, I am not sure which. I  document my list in my phone’s reminder app. That way I have it handy at all times.

I have been taking pictures of outdoor lighting at Lowe’s, ceiling fans at Home Depot, ordering new exterior shutters — did you know that the size stated on the shutter is not the actual size of the shutter? The Lowe’s man calmly explained it is similar to a 2×4…they are not really 2″ by 4″ either. Who knew? And how is one to get the right size?

I have also been picking paint colors for different projects. I have even purchased my all-time favorite, a can of black spray paint. It is amazing what a little black spray paint can to to refresh worn stuff. I was tempted to give Tom a little squirt today, but thought better of it.

I am familiar with this pattern in myself. I become a DIY maniac when I don’t want to feel something going on in my life.

Landon’s wedding is 2 weeks away and instead of slowing down to feel the full impact of what that means to me, I am spray painting anything that is spray paintable.

The good news is stuff is getting done. The bad news is my back hurts and I don’t have shoes I can wear for longer than 10 minutes for the wedding. I need to be shoe shopping,  instead I am home improving.

I am fully aware I am sublimating, but I don’t really care. As the serenity prayer says, God grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, the courage to change the things I can, and the wisdom to know the difference.

I can’t change that I am old enough to have a son marrying. I also can not change that my son is old enough to be marrying. And I certainly can’t change that my mommying days are done. But I can sure as hell can change the color of the fireplace and update our mailbox!!

Here are my before and after pictures. If you like them I do work for hire…

the fireplace before

the fireplace before

 

and after I got through with it...

and after I got through with it…

 

Before a little black spray paint.

Before a little black spray paint.

and after!!

and after!!

I nested before Landon was born. Everything had to be in order and perfect for his arrival. Perhaps this is similar, but this time I am preparing my new nest for me.

Happy home improving to you,

 

waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

To speak or not to speak, that is the question…

Last night I told a friend that she had lost too much weight and wasn’t looking good. That her diet and exercise plan had gone too far.

Several years ago, after I had lost 25 pounds, a friend told me a similar thing. She said I was looking frail. I was as incredulous then as my friend was last night. She didn’t see herself as too thin. Neither did I.

I loved my size 6, flat stomach, easy to fit into any outfit, body. I felt sexy, powerful, in control. I did miss my boobs, however. I was never what you would call a well-endowed woman at my almost-B-cup-bra size, except for when I was pregnant and breastfeeding which doesn’t count because everything else was so big it was all proportional. But, in my minus 25-pound-stealth-self my girls had reduced to their adolescent AA bra size. I figured it was a small price to pay…no pun intended.

Saying the hard thing to a friend takes courage and love. It is a bittersweet gift to offer. When Trudy said it to me, I felt loved and trusted. She believed in me and in the solidity of our friendship to say the difficult truth.

So what do we not say?

And why don’t we say it?

Certainly I worry my loved one will be hurt, or mad, or reject me.

What I said last night came from a place of love and concern. There was no judgment or hidden agenda I was working out. When that is true, I feel safer saying the tough thing. When that is true it is also easier to hear the hard thing, as happened with Trudy. I felt no guile from her.

What I have learned, the hard way, is to keep my mouth shut when I feel I am harboring ulterior motives. That never goes well. The other person always seems to sense my duplicity. And as loudly as I may defend my honor, we both know the truth. My intentions were not honorable.

That is, perhaps, the question to be asked when choosing to speak or withhold. What are my motives? Am I speaking from a place of compassion and concern? I once read that it is our responsibility to speak from our hearts. That we cannot control how the other hears or receives what we say, but we should be sure where our message came from in ourselves.

I know I feel much better about myself, even if the other is hurt, when I am clear I meant no harm. That being said, I may still need to make amends despite my best intentions. It is my responsibility to do that also.

Saying the hard thing is an act of courage and love. It is also the true measure of a strong relationship.

I also told Tom last night that he couldn’t wear his plaid shorts and printed shirt, even if the blue’s matched. I did have ulterior motives, we both knew it, accepted it and laughed about it; concurring that at our age, mismatched hipster-dom simply looks like old age.
waxseal2

 

 

 

 

 

 

I confess…

…after being called out on it…

…that  last weeks re-post of my first 2010 post was a lame attempt to seem engaged when Iimageswasn’t. It was also kindly brought to my attention that I was still celebrating my 100th post at post # 102.

Can’t blame a gal for trying…

So here’s the truth.

I confess…I had nothin’ to say. NOTHIN’.  I had paid attention all week to events that occurred and nothing captured my attention or  my heart. Nothing stirred me. So I wrote about going to dinner with another couple and how I didn’t enjoy myself. The spin I took in the 600 word masterpiece was how it was me I didn’t enjoy. Not them. I was astutely noticing that when I say, I didn’t enjoy myself, I often make it about the other, when it is really me that was being a poop. I spent 2 ½ hours Sunday morning, using my evolved hunt and peck typing skills to write this brilliant piece. At 2 hours and 45minutes I reread it and said, “Who gives a crap?”

I was tired of myself. I felt self absorbed and whiny. I was impersonating someone who had something of importance to say. Like I said earlier, I had nothing.

So I reposted.

Secondly, I confess…about a month ago I had a stalker. He contacted me through Facebook, snail mail, phone, Psychology Today and finally here, my precious blog, where I bare myself to you. Where I use names and places of my dear ones. Did you notice in the post, I just went for a salad and got a life lesson, I didn’t say what grocery store I was in? That was purposeful. I was scared. I didn’t want him knowing where I shop.

Since then he has been caught, reprimanded and has stopped contacting me. But, my hesitancy — about what this means to my blog and how should I proceed — has not been resolved inside of me. Perhaps I was naive to think I could put myself into the cyber world and not have something creepy happen. My sense of good will and safety has been shaken. Now, instead of thinking about each of you as I write, I have to push him out of my head.

My therapist reminded me how much I love to write. He also helped me to remember what this blog means to me. He encouraged me to persevere, to not to give up what I love out of fear. I love him.

Finally, I confess…I wonder if anyone out there is reading this? Some of you tell me how much you enjoy being Boswell — which very honestly keeps me writing, but as you can see there are no comments. I started bB to have conversation. Some of you may remember Conversation Cafe where Jodi and I, for 2 years, made space for women to gather and talk about heart felt issues. That was a very special event for us and for the woman that attended. I hoped bB would invite conversation too.

So the truth is, I want/need something from you. Talk to me. Talk to each other. Make this your place too. I’m feeling lonely out here all by myself…

Also, tell a your friends about bB. Send them links to your favorite posts. I have been working to build readership by figuring out SEO’s (search engine optimization), increasing FB page likes and daily tweeting. This exhausts me and my head feels like it is going to explode. Recently, when I was close to detonation, a left brained man suggested I stop all that and use word of mouth. My energy returned and my head remained on my shoulders. I never wanted to do all the shenanigans and contortions the blog world requires. I just wanted to write for you, and for me.

So would you help me build my readership? Please?

That is my confession. I never quite understood the value of my Catholic friends going to confession, but I think I understand now. I feel better after having leveled with you.

Thanks for listening. Would love to hear from you : )

 

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

You Little Witch!

I heard my mother say this to my young niece when she refused to give my mom a kiss good night. In that moment I no longer felt crazy. My mom had just given me the greatest gift that she could give…validation of her demand to be loved.

 

Hearing my mom’s accusation to a child, other than me, that didn’t give her what she wanted assured me I wasn’t making “it” up. I hadn’t imagined that it was my job to please her or make her feel important. I saw second hand how she withdrew her love. If mom didn’t feel special, ain’t no one gonna feel special. I crafted a childhood career of getting what I needed by giving her what she wanted. My early training in the art of manipulation.

 

I wrote her wonderful mommy poems rhyming my way into her good graces. I decoupaged them to wooden plaques so she could hang them on the kitchen wall to remind herself of how well I played the game with her. I made her look good with my high grades, my get along attitude and involvement in all the right activities. I was who she wanted me to be…unless I wasn’t.

 

I had this other side of me that just couldn’t fly right. I argued on behalf of animal rights as my family went hunting. I refused to wear animal fur (so my mom told me the saleswoman had assured her it was fake fur encircling my hooded face. I soon caught on and had yet another reason to distrust her). I stood against the war in Vietnam to my Major in the Army dad and Commander in the Coast Guard uncle. I railed against their bigotry and knocked on the door of the only African American family living in my neighborhood to sell them Christmas cards. I developed healing rituals which I practiced in attempt to transform this family that made little sense to me. I was always fighting fights for the underdog.

 

In these moments, I was a little witch too.

 

It was no coincidence that one of my favorite books as a kid was, Little Witch, by Anna Elizabeth Bennett. I still have it on my bookshelf. Little Witch was different from her family. They didn’t understand her. They didn’t like her for the same reason. So she found ways to secure herself in her self, despite her lack of belonging to her own flesh and blood.

 

This story gave me hope as a youngster. I wasn’t alone. I identified with Little Witch feeling like the outcast. I understood her many attempts to fit in with her family, as well as, her refusal to give up on herself. Little Witch bolstered my courage to fly in the face of my family.

 

I went on to read many books about young witches. I came to identify with them. Still do. I assume, except for the wicked witch of the west-who, in the book Wicked, was simply misunderstood-witches are intelligent, thoughtful, insightful women that see life a bit differently than most. In fact the word ‘witch’ means wise woman, or did many moons ago.

 

In 2nd grade I won the Halloween costume contest wearing a mother made witch’s costume. It was great, complete with a big pointy hat donning strategically placed patches of plaid fabric. As the winner, I lead my class in the elementary school Halloween parade. I belonged. A fleeting state of being for me. Little did my mom know what paradox she created sewing me into that costume. She was too busy letting everyone know she made the costume.

 

When Jena was in middle school she and her friends decided to trick or treat as the Wizard of Oz characters. One guess who Jena wanted to be…I was so proud. My Little Witch. So I proceeded to make her a Wicked Witch of the West costume. It was great, complete with a witchy hat full of black tulle trailing down her back. I stayed up very late the night before she needed it to finish it. I was on a mission. I knew exactly what I was doing. I was passing the broom to my daughter.

 

I love witches. I resonant with their misunderstood-ness.

 

But what I admire most about witches?

 

Witches don’t kiss anyone they don’t want to kiss!

 

You Little Witch!

Fifty Million

Forgive me this political rant…I have them every now and then…and instead of pontificating to myself in the shower  I thought I would share the problem and my brilliant solution with all of you…so bare  ; ) with me…

Recently at the Netroots Nation’s mid day plenary, “2012 and the War on(and for) Women” in Providence, Rhode Island, Darcy Burner stated that one in three woman in America will have an abortion at some point in their lives. This adds up to over fifty-million women.

Ms. Burner went on to ask the women in the audience, if they felt comfortable doing so, to stand and acknowledge having had an abortion.  Apparently women stood up. Tentatively at first, then as momentum built and courage spread, women throughout the crowd stood in admission of the abortion they endured.

Ms. Burner then asked all of those in the audience who supported the women standing to join them. Everyone in the room rose to their feet.

As a woman raised by a stay at home mom in the late 50‘s, who was told I could be and do anything I put my mind to but who was refused a credit card at 23 because I was not married (but was working) I applaud Ms. Burners challenging the war on women.

However, I want to ask the audience a different question. I want to ask the men in the audience, if they are comfortable doing so, to stand if a partner they have impregnated has had an abortion. If my math is correct, if over fifty-million women will have an abortion then over fifty-million men have too.

This is not a war that is gender exclusive. This “war on women” needs a voluntary draft of Baby Daddy’s stepping up to the bassinets and fighting with women to preserve reproductive rights. As they say, it takes two to tango and it is time the other half enlists.

When the women in the audience of the Netroots Nation session stood, an email went out by Digby, John and Howie and the Leadership of Blue America. They commented on the shame women feel in admitting an abortion by writing, “That’s not an easy thing to do in this culture, even among friends. The right has made it a dishonorable, solitary act, borne in silence, subject to fear and social stigma.”

This stigma seems to be placed on the shoulders of the mother. I see bumper stickers that say Choose Life…Your Mother Did. Come on folks, unless it is immaculate conception their dad too. Since Freud, moms are blamed for everything. Believe me. As a “seasoned” therapist and a mom of adult kids I know this is true.

The Center for Disease Control reported in 2008, 84.3% of all abortions were performed on unmarried women. The Guttmacher Institute states nearly half of pregnancies among American women are unintended; about 4 in 10 of these are terminated by abortion. Twenty-two percent of all U.S. pregnancies end in abortion.

Has a woman’s right to choose morphed into the convenient belief she is solely responsible and therefore the enemy in a war against her?

We need to remember behind every aborting woman there is an aborting man. Fifty-million to be exact and it is time they stand up now.

 

 

 

 

 

20 Seconds of Courage

We watched We Bought a Zoo with Matt Damon and Scarlet Johansson.  It is the semi true story of how a dad reconnects with himself and his children, especially his son, by buying a zoo after his wife dies. All the heart wrenching scenes of a grief stricken dad trying to do right by his children.

 

It was an okay movie. I felt a bit duped when we read in wikipedia that the real life wife died after they bought the zoo. I guess anguished dad stories sell more movie tickets.

 

Anyway, my point?

 

Mid way through the movie Matt Damon’s character tells his children the story of how he met their mom. He recalled how frightened he was to approach her in the local cafe. As he stood outside the cafe, deciding to act or leave, he heard his older brother telling him as a child, “All you need is 20 seconds of courage.” He went in and met his future wife.

 

20 seconds of courage. I loved that concept. It made sense to me. I could use that in my life.

 

Saturday night Tom and I went to our when we have something to celebrate restaurant. Our last celebration was when I sold my house. I took him out for lobster and champagne. This time we were celebrating his raise. He took me out. They didn’t have lobster, so we had really great fish and champagne.

 

Toward the end of the evening, the table in the corner of the room, surrounded by windows overlooking downtown Pittsburgh, began to fill with a group of women. Each one came in separately clearly excited to greet her already seated friends. I’d say they were in their forties, some dressed conservatively, others provocatively, all looking their best and beautiful. They hugged each other saying, “You look great!”

 

I couldn’t stop watching them. “You can’t take your eyes off them can you?” Tom noticed. I admitted I could not. He asked me if I had noticed the couple sitting there before them, 2 people lost in a 6 person table. I had not. “So what is so interesting to you about these women?” he asked. I wasn’t sure, but I was guessing they had a great story.

 

I watched a little longer hoping not to get caught eavesdropping or staring. Tom suggested I go over and introduce myself. He guessed my interest saying they might have a great story I could blog about. I looked him straight in the eye, the kind of straight in the eye that implied his idea was crazy.

I explained to my partner of 5 years, husband for 9 months, that I am basically a shy person. I couldn’t interrupt this table of friends to get my curiosity quenched. It was a ludicrous idea.

 

Then I heard it…loud and clear,

all you need is 20 seconds of courage.”

 

I made up my mind and walked over to their table. They looked up expecting to see the waiter and instead they saw me. I explained I am a local blogger and admitted I couldn’t take my eyes off them. I went on to say my husband encouraged me to come over because I imagined they had a great story of how they met, how often they gathered and what it meant to them to gather like this. They all smiled at me and to one another.

 

Their story. They met at Slippery Rock University their freshman year all teaching majors. Two remained in the education school and the others switched majors, but they remained friends throughout their college years and their lives. They explained they now live all over the country and haven’t seen each other in 25 years. This was their reunion. I teared up.

 

They asked me what I did. I explained I am a psychotherapist specializing in women’s issues. They invited me to sit down. “We need to talk to you,” they all laughed. (One of two responses occur when I tell someone I am a therapist. Either every one shuts up or no one shuts up.)

 

I took their pictures with several of their cameras and invited them to email me the long version of their story so I could share it with all of you. They took my card and said they would.

 

I feel better for meeting them. I feel sweet about life and friendship and courage.

 

All it took was 20 seconds of courage.