You throw like a girl…

I originally posted this piece in November of 2011. I am re-running it after seeing this awsome commercial air during the Super Bowl. May it change the way we talk to boys and girls.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XjJQBjWYDTs

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.

My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.

Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.

Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.

As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.

I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Dena colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.

In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.

I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.

Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.

I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.

All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.

I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).

What does that mean? Is the throw not far enough, fast enough? Is it exacted with a limp wrist, an unfinished follow through? Whatever it means, I don’t think it is meant to flatter the recipient.

My son played little league. Somewhere in the midst of Landon’s first season I concluded little league is where dads work out their own childhood sports trauma.  Either the bully is shouting insults to whomever he wants to feel bigger than-usually the coach or the umpire but in some cases, his son, or the nerd dad who is desperately yelling batting, throwing, running, sliding, or catching advise so his son won’t be a nerd too. It was disturbing to sit on those bleachers with those dads.

Then there are the coaches. Some coach’s coach for the love of the game and they like kids. Some coaches are dads working out their stuff, but with a coaches hat on. It seemed, however, that both types of coaches yelled, “YOU THROW LIKE A GIRL!” to some unsuspecting boy who had just attempted, but failed, to get the runner out at first base. I countered by yelling, “GOOD TRY!” I don’t think it helped the kid in question.

Perhaps the intention for yelling this statement was to stimulate the secretion of testosterone in the 6,7,8 year old boy, making them tougher so they could throw better. I don’t think it worked. What I noticed was the “throws like a girl” player became a little more tentative in his movements and in the game. He looked to me like he wanted to be smaller. Maybe he did.

As a mom-once a girl-sitting in the stands, with a daughter-at that time, still a girl-I had a reaction to the thrown insult (no pun intended) which was amplified if my son was the object of the coaches idiocy. I looked around the stands at the other moms and dads certain I would see the same outrage on their faces. I didn’t. In some cases I think they were just glad it wasn’t said to their son. I wondered what the young sisters of these players felt when throwing like a girl was used as an insult.

I remember being a junior in a high school gym class. I was walking across the gym toward the locker room in my one piece, blue and white striped jersey gym suit when I over heard Dena colluding with the “pretty, popular girls” that they should nominate me for homecoming queen. They all laughed. I knew what they meant and it wasn’t kind. I wanted to disappear. That last stretch to the locker room door was forever.

In my sophomore year at the University of Delaware, the Phi Kappa Tau Fraternity chose me as their homecoming queen. This put me in U of D’s race for the coronation of their queen. A fraternity brother met up with me as I crossed campus headed to class to tell me the good news.

I immediately referenced my high school gym trauma and believed this was another cruel joke. A repeat of 1975. My self image was based on the belief that the possibility of MEEE being homecoming queen was a laughable impossibility. I told my him how hurt I was, what a mean joke and limped away. I remember the look on his face.

Later, when I saw my picture in the university paper, amongst all the other “pretty, popular girls,” I realized it wasn’t a joke. Now his look of bewilderment made sense. This contradicted my long held belief of myself.

I needed to make a choice. What/who was I going to believe? Who was I going to see when I looked in the mirror? I picked. I decided to let go of the self deprecating messages I referenced to remind me of my place. I practiced (I am still practicing) letting go of my self judgement by gathering new data. I listened to others and believed them when they told me I was attractive.  I decided if I am going to believe someone, I might as well believe the people that say kind words. Right? It’s amazing how difficult that can be to do.

All of this works most of the time. But when I am particularly insecure or vulnerable I feel myself back in that high school locker room getting smaller and smaller. This is when I have to be kind to myself, surround my self with people that love me and assure that 17 year old that there is so much more to her than her looks.

XO

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P.S. I didn’t win the homecoming queen crown. It was enough to be nominated (not really, I am just saying that).

 

Luv Ya

It’s quick. It’s easy. It’s casual. “Luv ya,” I call over my shoulder as I head out the door.

I notice when I choose this abbreviated endearment to express my love. I notice when someone chooses to say to me. I feel a bit empty. Not necessarily bad empty, just empty. Like eating fat free ice cream. It’s fine. It looks like ice cream. It’s cold. It’s just not that filling.

Even if I formalize it a bit more by saying, “Love you,” my emptiness lingers. I feel the missing “I.”

Try it yourself. Say, Love you. Now say, I Love you. Do you notice a difference?

I do. I feel me when I use “I” and I feel you when you say “I”. (DId that make sense? Hope so. I hope so.) When I say, “I,” I am owning what I say. I am in my words. I am in me. I am holding myself accountable. I said that. I meant that. And you know it.

Anytime I drop “I” from my sentence it changes the fat content of my message. “Miss you.”  “Understand.”  “Sorry.”

Recently, before heading out to do some shopping, I stopped at our local diner for a late breakfast. Two eggs over easy, bacon, no toast. Two pancakes. My favorite. A little protein to modify the effects of the sugar and white flour high/crash of the pancakes. I sat at the counter with the other single diners enjoying my urban life.

There was a young man sitting alone at the end of the counter. He was hard not to notice. He was not using his inside voice. His amplified banter with the waitress distracted me from my book. I wanted him to be quiet.

At one point his girlfriend texted him. Maybe his wife, but I hope not. He apparently was late for something they had planned and she was wondering where he was. He reported this loudly and jovially as he shoved a large fork-full of his hungry-man breakfast into his mouth.Unknown-1

After he swallowed, he shared his antidote for an angry girlfriend. He had clearly used it many times.  “Luv ya honey.” He was very proud of himself. He had the formula. “It works every time,” he confidently confided to the entire diner. “That’s all I need to say and she will be fine.” He went on eating and enjoying the company of the waitress.

I thought how lucky it was for me to hear since I had begun writing this post and wasn’t sure where to go with it. Now I knew. I also thought, how unlucky for this girlfriend to be taken in by manipulative words that sound like I Love You, but I imagine didn’t feel like it.

Perhaps that is the litmus test. Regardless of the I, or lack there of, do I feel loved when you say it to me?

Likewise, do I feel loving when I am calling over my shoulder my many variations of those 3 simple words? Do I mean it as a perfunctory sentiment? Do I mean it at all? Am I offering all the fat or 2%?

Just something to think about over breakfast…since I couldn’t concentrate on my book.

XO

 
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I didn’t enjoy myself…

The evening began easily. We admired their lovely second floor apartment with distressed wood floors, high ceilings, an exposed brick wall and an original stain glass window. We all agreed it was good to finally get together. Being new to the area, we asked how they liked Pittsburgh.

Conversation moved to their upcoming trip to Paris. We shared with them our favorite Parisian museums, parks, and markets. We agreed the best way to experience Paris is to start walking and see where you end up.

As we exhausted this topic quiet moments began to fill the space between us. I knew what was happening in the silence, an unspoken choice was being decided. What was the evening going to be? We could deepen our interest in one another, ask probing questions and offer self revealing answers, or we could talk about, what we think about, what we know about, topics of interest?

I always lobby for the former. Being interested in others is my forte. I am good at it. I know the questions to ask that invite others to share. I am interested in what makes people tick, what we have in common and if this a possible on-going relationship to nurture.

The collective opted for the latter.

So we supped on generalities of economics, politics, and current events. These are not my areas of interest or expertise. I don’t understand economics, although I am a wiz with our family finances. I have strong opinions about politics, but they are not steeped in the facts because I can never figure out what is the truth. Current events are, I suppose, the best of the three, but I still found myself seasoning my contributions with, tell me more about you and I will tell more about me. I asked them if they had siblings? I know it had nothing to do with Russian history, but I was curious.

By the beginning of dessert I began to feel tired. I tried to stay with the conversation du jour, but was struggling. I felt self-conscious, withholding comments for fear I wouldn’t sound smart. I got overly interested in how efficiently the husband sliced the almonds to sprinkle on dessert. After asking him every possible question relatable to precision almond slicing, I fell silent.

I couldn’t get my brain and my mouth to cooperate. My verbal contributions seemed to be swimming in the shadows but refused to be pulled to the surface. I hoped this fugue was menopausal and not early dementia. I began to stare at the seat cushion on the chair next to me.

I wasn’t enjoying myself.

On the ride home I was bothered. What had happened to me?

I realized I had tried to fit-in, versus show-up. I had withheld my vitality, my interests and my emotional intelligence to dine on the conceptual knowledge that was being served.

What if I hadn’t? What if I had offered-up my, albeit different, relational angle into the evening? What if I had seasoned the conversation with relational tidbits?

I became astutely aware that it was me, not them, I wasn’t enjoying.

I suppressed myself and when I do this, I don’t enjoy me. Go figure…

I don’t want to do that anymore.
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Celebrating my 100th post!!!! Life is a buffet…

I am remembering a phone call with my dear friend Kathleen. Instead of asking what was my New Year’s resolution she asked what do I want in the new year? Hmmm.

This simple word substitution opened a totally different door in my psyche.

What do I want?

Honestly? After thinking about it, I want it all.

Life is a veritable, all-you-can-eat, smorgasbord. It all looks so appetizing my mouth imageswaters. I want to taste most everything. I want to read the Better After 50 booklist. I want to learn how to knit a hat–I can knit a scarf. I want to join a cooking club where we take turns trying new recipes on each other. I want to take a writing class, a meditation class, a succulent wreath making class, a Spanish class, a typing class. I want to learn to use Facebook and Twitter like a 20-something-year-old.

I confessed my desire to my monthly women’s group telling them I want it all. I heard myself repeating it several times because it felt soooo good to admit. I want it all. I want it all. I want it all. Iwantitall. Jude suggested this was greed. Everyone in the circle gasped. Did Jude just call me greedy?

I didn’t feel offended, I felt interested. Am I greedy? Is this greed? Gimme-gimme-have-you-got, my mom’s voice chided.

I looked up the definition of greed; an intense and selfish desire for something, especially wealth, power or food. Hmmm. I thought about this. Lord knows I don’t want to be selfish…I have heard of what happens to selfish women…

I realized I felt more hungry than greedy, more interested and excited than insatiable. I just don’t want to miss anything.

I wonder if this is what happens after 50, after the kids are grown, the nest is empty, and the diaper money that morphed into soccer camps, that morphed into prom gowns, that morphed into gas money, has finally found it’s way back into my wallet? Do I want it all because I have more time and resources? Because it’s my turn again?

Sorting through my many wants, in any given moment, takes discernment. It also requires the ability to tolerate disappointment. I don’t always get what I want. Sometimes because it is too much money. Or too much time. Or my work schedule gets in the way. Or I have conflicting wants–I want to go to that event but I also want to spend time by myself.

Letting myself want is a tricky business. Not so easy after-all.

Yet, I am enjoying going after what I want. I am even having fun telling you what I want…I want to sit home all day watching movie marathons in my p.j.’s, eating popcorn and homemade soup. I want to clean and organize the garage, paint the spare room, have lunch with my son, volunteer, go shopping with my daughter, write more, nap often…

Hmmm…Maybe the myth of selfish women is untrue. Maybe when we look out for our selves, trust what we want, we are happier. More fulfilled. Content.

What do you want?
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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.

: )

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You Are My Mirror

Geez a Whiz.

I was just asked, by Better After 50, an online magazine I write for, to describe in more detail, on the authors Facebook page, what my blog is about. What my focus is.

imagesDo you know it took me half an hour to answer that question?

What’s up with that?

Shouldn’t I know by now? Should’t my reply just roll off my tongue…fingers? Every good, successful anyone has their elevator speech practiced and perfected.

My problem was threefold. (It started out twofold until I got thinking.)

First, I heard the invitation as “Who AM I?” and “What IS IT I do?” I truly am a work in progress so my answer felt subject to change. I felt threatened committing myself to just one answer. What if I am not that tomorrow? God, I think too much.

Second…ly, putting it in writing, on Facebook, to a group of women I don’t know, is intimidating. What if they don’t like what I say..translated by my 7 year old self, “What if they don’t like me?” Many of the responses by the other writers have “likes” beneath their answers. What if I don’t get any likes?

After the 20 minutes of editing and reediting, I got irritated with myself. “Just say images-1something and be done with it,” I admonished. “I am sure these other(articulate, better than me) women haven’t agonized over this…Oh, I bet they have,” a wiser, kinder voice whispered. “You aren’t so different.”

Third…ly, I knew this was an opportunity to network, drive readers to my blog and deepen my emersion in this internet, web, social network, blog thing. So I knew what I said was important. It was a form of advertising. It was a one dimensional opportunity to present myself to total strangers that share a common interest; women over 50 who write for the same publication.

I struggled with the absence of the other two dimensions, facial/body expressions and tonality. The truth is Who I am is co-created by who you are. I am influenced by the presence of the other-we all are. Together we create the us. Without the presence of the other, I am making myself up in isolation. I can do that. We all can and do. It was what I needed to do for this Facebook page conversation. But I will be different without you.

Think about this with me. We are each others mirrors.

When I am with someone…like my brother, who I am in that moment is much different from who I am with my sweet sister friend, Heidi. Both reactions are authentically ME, but very different parts of myself, called forward in co-creation with the other.

Now you know why it took so long for me to answer the question. I think too much.

It is who I am…

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P.S. I got a like

Dear Ones

It is Sunday night, Tom and I have just driven in from New Jersey where we visited my mom who is living in an assisted living facility. I surprised her Friday evening as she sat at the family style table waiting for dinner with the other women who don’t know each other’s names, each of them sitting with their heads down and eyes closed.  I tell myself they were meditating, at least I hope they are, otherwise it is just too sad to bear. (Note to self…when I am 88, sitting at a table of close strangers, I will  be meditating.)

Saturday we took her to lunch. Afterward we drove around Newton, the nearby town where she grew up. She wasn’t sure who I was when I surprised her Friday night, but she knew how to find her families homestead pointing out whose window was whose

Mom would kill me if she knew I posted this picture of her without her make up on. Sorry mom, it was the only picture we took this weekend and I wanted to share you with my readers.

Mom would kill me if she knew I posted this picture of her without her make up on. Sorry mom, it was the only picture we took this weekend and I wanted to share you with my readers.

bedroom, where the garage used to be and which hills they went sleigh riding on. She said she felt free as we drove around. That getting out was the shot in the arm she needed. When she said it I felt grateful I could give her that. As I write it now, my eyes begin to sting.

At 3 o’clock Tom and I met with a realtor to prepare to sell the family home I grew up in. Mom is gracefully letting go of her hope to return there, comforting herself (and me) with statements of being treated well by the staff at Bentley followed by the food there is not half bad.

Throw in an nasty encounter with my very aggressive brother and the weekend was complete. And I am exhausted. I thought I would have the stamina to post a witty piece while Tom took his turn at the wheel, but I just mostly sat and stared.

So this is it for this week my dear ones.

I don’t want to get old. I don’t want my daughter to have to help me in the handicap stall of a restaurant  holding me up while pulling down my adult diapers. Mom and I accomplished this gracefully and sweetly however, joking about her sexy under ware and holding each other more closely than was necessary for the job at hand.

waxseal2

 

 

 

About BeingBoswell

Interestingly and serendipitously as a result of naming this blog
to being Boswell, I found myself. My friend, Wikipedia, informed
me that my surname Boswell was passed into the English
Language in the 1800‘s to mean a constant companion and
observer of life, especially one who records those observations
through writing.

I have been writing stories or journaling since my first, locked,
with the tiniest key ever, diary was given to me in grade school. I
began my entries with Dear Diary. I quickly abandoned that
salutation when I realized I wanted to write to a reader, not to an
inanimate object. I longed to tell my version of life to someone. I
felt less alone conjuring a reader nodding his or her head in
shared recognition of an examined moment, possibly even
laughing or crying with me as I spilled my version of life onto the
page. I hoped my imaginary audience would feel less alone and
more understood as I exposed myself to self scrutiny.

So here I am, many, many years later, with the technological
creation of the über diary.

Being Boswell is a unique view of the everyday life. I use my own
life as my muse and my background as a psychotherapist as my
lens. Life is my teacher. I learn life’s lessons sometime gracefully.
Sometimes kicking and screaming. Eventually life wins and I write
from my surrender.

You will recognize yourself in my stories.

I am a work in progress…just being Boswell.

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.