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 : )

 

 
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I just went for salad and got a life lesson….

On my way to work I stopped at the grocery store, heading directly to the salad bar, my habituated lunch choice. Once there, I noticed a woman standing a few feet from the earth-friendly paper boxes I needed. It looked as though she was simply waiting for her friend, who was a few feet from her at the bread counter.

I said, “Excuse me,” to her, paused momentarily, and then stepped between her and the much needed salad box. As I pulled the top box from the stack, she said, “Well, pardon me.” Accent on the WELL.

I felt the agitation in her voice. She was telling me I had rudely moved into her space. I held my breath and felt my own irritation with her as I recognized this as a choice point. How do I choose to respond? Do I apologize for my perceived affront or do I assert my intention? I took a moment.

I often base my decision, in these awkward moments, on my mood at the time. I am not proud of this method of determining my next move. I know I should base it on the highest good for all man and woman-kind. I should engage with her and explain myself. I should be nice. I should be relational. I should. I should.

Instead of what I should have done, I went with my tired, pissy and in-a-hurry mood. I responded with equal exasperation. I spoke over my shoulder to her, “I said excuse me.” Accent on the SAID.

She responded,”Well, I didn’t hear you.” Accent on the WELL, I DIDN’T HEAR YOU.

By this time I was half way down the first side of the salad bar. I had my spring mix, grapeimages tomatoes, peas and was scooping-up some chick peas, answering her in my head, “Well, is it my job to make sure you hear me? How am I supposed to know you didn’t? Why didn’t you just move when you saw me headed for the salad boxes?”

I was working myself into a fit. How dare she!!!

Another choice point. Do I say any of this to her? Do I share my grumpy disposition further? Or do I save it for later when I need to I argue with Verizon about this months’ bill? I wasn’t sure I wanted to unload on a random woman at the salad bar.

As I was contemplating my next move and heaping coals on my defense, her friend came quietly up beside me. “Please let me apologize for my friends behavior,” she said, “she has dementia and this is not a good day for her.”

I was mortified with myself.

I looked this woman in the eye and told her it was really okay, I understood and thanked her for telling me.

I was ashamed. I was also extremely grateful I kept my indignation to myself; fully aware that my silence was not due to my niceness but to my indecisiveness.

I finished making my salad. Quietly. Humbly. I began to judge myself, telling myself what an awful person I am for being mean to a woman with dementia. Why couldn’t I just be nice? What was the big deal? So she said something snarky, couldn’t I have just risen above it, been my higher self?

As I moved toward the 10-items-or-less check out line, I stopped at the baked goods to bag a chocolate chip, pecan cookie, not that I deserved dessert after my bad behavior, and found myself standing next to the same two women. I overheard their loving interaction with each other. I was touched. I noticed how the woman that that approached me took care of her friend. They, too, were after something sweet.

In that moment of feeding our mutual sweet tooth’s, I felt our mutual humanness and fragility. I recognized how our humanity is sometimes the good news and other times the bad news.

I realized I can, or will, be my highest self…unless I am not. But, it is my job to take responsibility for both. Most of us are really trying doing our best. Everyday. Sometimes our best is lovely. Sometimes our best is not so great.

If I keep that in mind, I will be gentler with your humanness…as well as my own.

Humbly Yours,

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My Still Unmade Bed

I know this is a long one, but seems memoir is…so here is my write something funny assignment. Class is almost over so hang in with me. And sorry about last weeks lack of a post. It is a another long story..

The stillness of the house made the morning sun feel like a my friend, who in their presence, I naturally slow down and breath deeper. This was one of the weekends I had to myself while Jena stayed with her dad. I was beginning to relish these periodic weekends alone as I became more comfortable in my own company, hearing less from my inner demon that would tell me, with great certainty, that I would never make it on my own. That I would never find anyone to share my life with.  He–yes it’s a male voice–would not stop there. He (me) would expound on why I would spend the rest of my life alone, using a tone of voice that convinced me he knew what he was talking about. The inner criticism who begin with, “you are too picky, you aren’t picky enough, you are too much, too needy, too tall, too scared, too injured, you don’t know how to love,” and end with, “you are a mess, my dear!”

So, in the absence of my nasty self, I planned this staycation retreat weekend. I considered traveling to a bed and breakfast, somewhere lovely with a Victorian four poster, canopied, quilted bed, serving gourmet breakfasts and quiet fields to roam. But my financially frugal inner accountant pursed his–are they all male voices?–lips together, folded his arms firmly across his chest and admonished, “Think again sweetie, you are staying right here, you can’t afford it.” So I stayed home.

I needed time to consider, reflect, renew, and figure a few things out; like what I am going to do with the rest of my life. I let my friends know my plans, that way when they didn’t hear from me or I didn’t answer the phone they wouldn’t think I had fallen into that deep, dark pit I frequently mentioned. I told my daughter the same, but assured her if she really needed me, she could call my cell phone. I shopped for food I love, shrimp with homemade cocktail sauce, fresh asparagus and a great bottle of wine. I picked up the movie Under the Tuscan Sun, a story about a divorced woman redesigning her life.

I was well prepared for my weekend retreat to begin.

I woke leisurely, feeling grateful that I could take this luxurious time out. I was also thankful to be waking alone in the previous marital bed. I knew when I decided to marry, Unknown23-years-ago, I would miss sleeping alone. I always loved that sense of freedom and privacy of being in my own bed, wrapped in the covers, with no one else to consider. I moved slowly, allowing my body to wake as I made my way downstairs to the kitchen to make that first great cup of coffee. As I waited for it to brew, I decided to cover the microwave clock so I could ignore its bright red face insisting on the time. I wanted to hear the voice of my own internal clock this weekend.  After all, isn’t that what a retreat weekend is all about?

As I blindfolded the clock there was a knock on the kitchen door. I turned around, to see my neighbor Kyle standing on the other side of the french doors. Kyle and his family owned a weekend home up the street. I hadn’t known they would be here this weekend. I momentarily resented his intrusion to my quiet movements, but cajoled myself saying, “be nice and there is no escape, he knows you are home.” I opened the door. We did a neighborly shoulder only hug hello. I was still in my morning sweats.

I liked Kyle. I liked his wife and kids too. Our families got together often when they visited. Kyle explained he was here to do some work on their house, Laura and the kids decided to stay home. He said he was on a run and decided to stop in to see how I was fairing after the separation. How thoughtful I mused. We caught up on the kids, his and Laura’s trip to Italy, and my pathetic current circumstance. Even though I had planned to be alone and contemplative, I was comforted that someone had checked in on me.  I was also certain he wouldn’t be staying long.

We finished our coffee — I offered only one cup — and got up off the kitchen stool to rinse my mug in the sink. Kyle came up behind me, presumably to rinse his too, but instead wrapped his arms around my waist pulling me tightly into the front of his body. I tried hard not to feel anything I knew I wasn’t supposed to be feeling. I was speechless. My brain and my mouth were not engaged.

As he held me, he lamented his concerns for his son who had recently started college and was struggling socially and scholastically. Since my ears were working, I listened to what he was saying, while still trying to make sense of his physical contact. It had been a long time since I had needed to decipher another mans intentions. Obviously too long. I naively concluded Kyle must be very upset about his son and be in need of a friendly hug. Nothing else made sense. After all, he was married and our families were friends. I assured myself by he meant nothing by it. As he released me I fell tipsy to one side. I was off balance.

We continued to talk as though this was normal contact for us. I half paid attention to what he was saying, the other half of my attention was listening to my now engaged inner banshee, who was screaming, “What the fuck was that?” This time it was a female voice, a rather outraged female voice.

I’d like to report it ended here. It didn’t. Kyle made it known, in several explicit ways-that even I didn’t miss-that he was at my service. Did I look like I needed to be serviced, I wondered? Was this what I got for ending my marriage…offers from other women’s husbands? Had I misread Kyle’s friendship all these years? I began to question my judgement. Maybe I shouldn’t have let him in. Should I kick him out? I felt like I didn’t know anything any more. I felt scared that maybe I was doomed to be alone, a woman with too many cats — my demon had returned.

I didn’t get mad, I didn’t take action, I was immobilized in my confusion and self doubt.  I couldn’t find my center. Kyle continued to sit on my kitchen stool, sipping the second cup he poured for himself, patiently waiting for me to take him up on his very generous offer.

My insides were tangled between introjects of “be nice” and “men are pigs.” Messages skillfully taught to me by the women in my family. These lessons, distilled in me to their purest form, made it virtually impossible for me to find my way on this retreat morning. This was not the first time I had been caught in the trap of my family’s mixed messages.

Suddenly and without conscious thought, something in me began to straighten. It took me a minute to register just what, but I am thrilled to say it was my backbone….my hackles were up and I was pissed. I grew 2 inches sitting on that stool. I found my voice and told Kyle he was a PIG.

Surprisingly, he didn’t agree. He explained he was not offering to do it just to do some of it. He went on to explain, if we didn’t fuck, he wasn’t technically cheating on Laura. What sophisticated rationale. He did, he explained, have a line he wouldn’t cross.

I began to find this all very funny in its absurdity. I began to recite his logic back to myself, making comic sense of it. Ohhhh, I told myself, my mistake. Why didn’t he make this clear from his first grope? In his world his wife won’t mind if we retire upstairs, to my still unmade bed, and roll around for a while. I was astonished at the sincerity with which he made his offer.

I told him I would accept his very thoughtful proposition. But…only if Laura agreed with his definition of faithful. My demon and banshee stood down; they knew I had this now.

I handed him the phone.

He rinsed his cup and left.

: )

waxseal2 

 

 

finding my FIERCENESS

Last weekend really took it out of me. You know...it…the stuffing, the feathers, the air. It wasn’t seeing mom; feeling her vulnerability and loneliness. It wasn’t feeling my own helplessness and sadness. No, what left my nervous system in a state of code orange was the encounter with my brother.

A lifetime of fear of his physical and verbal aggression lives in my cell tissue. I am undone every time I encounter his hostility toward me. I end up mad at myself for giving him such power. I fantasize my ability to square off with him, face to face, and with no quiver in my voice tell him, “Shut the fuck up.”

Instead, I have jello legs, my heart beats out of my chest, and I can’t breathe. I hate him and then myself for responding like a wimp…again. My body responds to the danger by shutting down when my head wants me to either take him out or run away…quickly. My head and my body are at odds with one another.

After my encounter, Tom and I headed back to our hotel, stopping on Hope Street (how appropriate) to browse in some of the cute shoppes we had driven by for the last two days. Tom went into the men’s shoppe, I found PB&J’s, a woman’s boutique. It seemed a bit high end for me, but touching the soft fabric soothed me, doing something mundane, like shopping, helped me feel normal.

Then I saw it. A coat. Not just any coat. A great coat. Hanging there, against a wall, so beautifully displayed in it’s isolated simplicity. I knew, as I walked toward it, hands outstretched like I was headed toward the Light, I did not need a new coat. Again my body and mind begged to differ. My feet walked toward the coat regardless of my recent decision to reline and revamp my favorite 10 year old alpaca overcoat.

“Oh, what the heIl,” I cajoled myself as I tried it on. In the mirror looking back at me I IMG_0917good enough to eat saffron satin lining sealed the deal. I felt carnivorous. “Don’t mess with me, I will eat you!”

I pulled out my Visa and bought the coat. Thanks to an after Christmas sale it was 25% off. See…it was meant to be. Tom, who had wandered into the store to find me, foolishly asked if I thought the coat would be warm?

“Warm? Really? Who cares?” I responded. I left the store, my totem coat casually draped over my arm, embodying Audrey Hepburn’s understated glamour.

Yesterday, I shared my weekend with my dear women’s group. I cried with them as I told them about my terror. I admitted adrenaline was still running through my veins making me forgetful, easily startled and exhausted. They listened and loved me as only wonderful woman friends can. They soothed my self loathing by assuring me it was smart to trust my bodies reaction of terror when facing my brother’s disowned malevolence. They said when someone is being terrorized they are supposed to feel terrified. Feeling understood opened my airways.

As I prepared to leave, throwing my coat over my shoulders, they shared my excitement in buying such a powerful, sharp clawed cat coat to made me feel safer. Stronger. Fiercer. With cheetah speed to run faster.

RRRRROOOOAAAARRRRR

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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!

What Are You Made Of?

Remember the story of the 3 little pigs?

 

The first little pig built his house with straw and the wolf blew it down. The second little pig built his house with sticks and the wolf had his way with that house too. The third little pig built his house with brick and for all his huffing and puffing the wolf couldn’t blow the house down.

 

Sitting with a client the other day this fairy tale popped into my head. I have come to trust these little “pop ins”…they usually offer some wisdom I would never have come up with on my own.

 

We were talking about her sense of her self. How comfortable she is being her? How strongly she can advocate for herself? How well acquainted she is with herself ?Basically, how strongly can she stand (with herself) in the face of high wind?

 

That is when “the pigs” popped in.

 

When I consider of my own sense of my self using this metaphor of being a house-a structure that holds me-ideally it(I) would be well built. I know for myself, my friends and the women I work with, this is not always the case. Our houses (sense of self, hearts, confidence) are all too often and too easily blown to bits, straw and twigs flying in all directions.

 

 I have been watching episodes of the Big C on NetFlixs. It is a story of a woman, Cathy, who has cancer. In the episode we watched last night Cathy was hired as the high school swim coach, despite the principals concerns she couldn’t do the job because of her cancer. As the new coach, Cathy took charge. She changed practice warm ups, team strategies and confronted an arrogant, undermining swim team dad. As I watched her stand up to him, I felt her belief in herself as a coach. I was impressed. I noticed I sat straighter on the couch. She was made of brick.

 

As the episode continued, and the plot thickened, Cathy and her husband got crabs because their son slept with a prostitute in their bed (too gross to think about on sooo many levels). Thanks to facebook, and the sons now x girlfriend, the word got out. This was all the arrogant dad needed to have Cathy fired as the swim coach.

 

The scene unfolds as Cathy walked into the pool area; clip board in hand, whistle around her neck, only to see the principal, the dad with all the other parents and her team waiting for her. Cathy is told by the principal she is being fired for putting the girls at risk of getting crabs. I could feel myself cave in for her. I imagined myself as her and could see myself slink out of the gym, find my way home and crawl under the covers. I could feel my shame for her. I was made of straw.

 

Cathy, brick house that she is, doesn’t collapse into her shame, instead she confronts them on the improbability of their accusation and threatens them with a law suit if they try to fire the “woman with cancer.” She ends her self absolution by saying she is taking her team, whoever is still on it, for a run. With that she turns, clip board close to her chest, whistle swinging and out she walks out of the gym. Last scene-she is running on alone on the track. One by one the girls on her team fall in behind her.

 

Now I know this is a well scripted TV series, but I was moved…right out from under my emotional hiding place…announcing to myself and the space between myself and the TV, “I want to be like her when I grow up!”

 

To not move into shame when someone huffs and puffs at me. 

 

To feel my house made of bricks and to stand my ground.

 

To laugh I the face of the big bad wolf…and then take a run.

 

Oh yeah, I don’t run. I’ll take a brisk walk instead. Anyone want to fall in along side of me?

 

 

 

 

 

 

I Love My Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

 

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

 

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

 

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to… Continue reading

Loving Life

Before I lived in Pittsburgh I said to myself, “When I live in Pittsburgh, I am going to go to meditation classes, ti chi, and yoga classes, I’m going to sit in coffee shops with friends, go to art openings, eat fun food in interesting neighborhoods, and take some art classes.”

I have lived in Pittsburgh for over 4 years now. All the activities I couldn’t wait to take advantage of are right at my finger tips. I have done a few, sporadically, but not to the extent I imagined. Why? I have no excuses. I take that back…I have plenty of excuses, “I’m too tired, I don’t have time, parking is too hard, I have to cross a bridge (did I just say that? I must really be a Pittsburgher), I don’t want to commit to every week.”

Why do I do this? Why do I talk myself out of the things I dream of? Do you do this too?

As I sit with that question I come up with several versions of viable answers. They all lead to…

What if I didn’t?

What if I gave myself the time and energy to do those things I dream of.

What if I promised myself to follow my interest, my desire, my heart?

What if…(fill in your own)?

I can’t imagine it would be harmful to follow my interests. Can you?

So I have a challenge.

Together, let’s do one thing a week that is enough out of our ordinary routine that we smile, a heart felt smile, knowing we are alive. I will start a I LOVE MY LIFE forum on BeingBoswell and we can share our stories. Hearing others success and excitement can be contagious. Don’t make it a big deal thing, just easy and fun. A dinner at a new restaurant you always wanted to go to, a store you have wanted to explore, a book that has been calling your name, a meal you have wanted to cook, a friend you have wanted to spend time with, a new way home through a neighborhood you have wanted to see.

You get the idea.

To share your experience, scroll down and leave a comment! 

Don’t be shy. Your story will encourage all of us.

I will go first.

I AM NICE!

Many years ago-sounds a bit like the beginning of a fairy tale-the foundation of who I was, or thought I was, crumbled. I grabbled with the question, “Who am I?” I felt the enormity of the question, as well as, my terror of not knowing the answer or, worse yet, how to find the answer. My illusions had died and I didn’t have a replacement reality. I felt like a blank slate.

 

Because I am a visual person (that much I did know about myself) I envisioned my blank slate status as a big, yellow legal pad. With that image in mind, I drove to Staples, found a tablet and bought it. My plan was to notice myself and document who I met. I remember feeling a bit overwhelmed by the project and a lot scared at the blankness of the tablet before me. I also remember some excitement at the prospect of defining myself rather than being defined by others.

 

So, I took my pad with me where ever I went.

Continue reading