Being Boswell

Show Down in Savannah

We left Savannah Island at 9:30 am to begin the first leg of the 12 hour trip north to Pittsburgh. Our plan was to leave early so we could get to Savannah by 10. We had some last minute shopping to do. Tom’s favorite Broughton Street men’s store was having a moving sale and he wanted to check out. I had seen a folkloric, Haitian steel drum mermaid that I wanted to pick up for what is becoming my mermaid collection.

Finding parking was impossible. Little did we know it was graduation day for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). We circled and swore for over a half hour. Finally we saw an open spot, but it was the wrong way on a one way street. I decided our best course of action was for me to jump out and stake our claim. I would hold it, Tom would circle the block to come at it the right way.

There I stood. I should have had a flag. Perhaps a Union flag. I felt  proud claiming ownership of this metered space.

Until…

A HUGE Ford 150 roughneck truck, the color of the eyes of a blue eyed Barbie, pulled up and began to back into where I was standing. I waved my arms while yelling, “WHOA.” He kept coming. The top of his tail gate was the height of my armpits.

Years ago I had a similar vehicle versus me encounter. It was at the kids bus stop. One of the neighborhood dads would drive his kids and wait with them until the bus came. When the bus arrived, his kids would jump out and run, with all the other kids, to the waiting bus. Despite the bus’s blinking red lights and protective arm stretched out like a mom reaching across the front seat, this dad would pull out and take off down the road.

One morning I had had enough. I casually stood in front of his car, sipping my coffee, waiting for the bus to arrive. The bus came. The kids ran. He put his car in gear and headed toward me. I planted my feet, looked at him through his windshield, pointing to the blinking bus to make my point. I knew I had the law on my side.

He kept coming.

I remember thinking to myself, “He is gong to hit me and it is really going to hurt.” Regardless, my feet didn’t move. I was riveted to the spot. He began shouting at me. I shouted back. By the time we were finished making our points, the bus had left. I stepped aside and let him pass.

So it went with the large southern man in his over sized, compensating for something, truck. He informed me, through his rear cab window, that I couldn’t save this parking place. I told him I could…because I was… little did he know that where I come from people save parking spaces, quite frequently, using plastic lawn chairs. I explained, over the roar of his engine, that we had been looking for parking for half an hour and I was waiting for my husband.

His face got redder and he raised his voice to bully level telling me that since he was there, with his truck, he gets the spot. I explained since I was there first, I get the spot. All the while, I was on the phone with Tom, directing him to the cross streets and explaining that a very mad guy wanted our place, so he had to hurry.

Again, my feet were stuck to the pavement. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. I remember thinking, possession is 9/10’s of the law, as my body stood her ground. I told Tom, as my heart pounded, “This Southern guy, in his big truck, is going to hit me.”

Call it chivalry or perhaps Southern awhner, but when truck dude heard that he yelled, “ I’m not gonna hit you.”  With that he gunned his engine and peeled off. “Damned Yankee,” I imagined him cursing as he stepped on the gas.

Tom found me a few minutes later and slipped our sleek new Lincoln hybrid quietly into the spot. I was glad to see him.

As we gathered our things to go shop, the owner of the tanning salon across the street came out and said he had seen the whole thing.

He congratulated me for holding my ground.

Perhaps it was my Southern blood bubbling again.

Y’all come back, ya hear

 
waxseal2

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

Remembering Dad on Memorial Day…

My dad was from Alabama. He loved the South. He longed to return there to live. My mom would not consider leaving her hometown in NJ to move south of the mason dixon line. She didn’t like dads poor relations living in tin-roofed houses that leaked in rain storms. Dad endured his exile, sometimes less gracefully than others.

He often bribed me with the promise to buy a horse if I persuaded mom to move. Frankly I think he would have moved without her, if I would have gone with him, but that is another story.

The bribe was enticing since I couldn’t own a horse in NJ because we lived on the wrong side of the street. At least that was what mom and dad told me. My girlfriend, who lived across the street, also couldn’t have a horse. I worried if I moved south with my dad, both sides of the street would be the wrong side.

We appeased dads homesickness by naming our family dog, an Irish Setter, Rebel. It seemed to do the trick. It also gave me unintended permission to develop my internal rebel self. I knew better than to present her to the family, but I have called on my rebel blood often in my adult life.

I was raised on grits, corn bread crumbled in butter milk and my dad’s stories of the magic of the south. The beauty of the land. The kindness of the people. When dad drank his vodka and tonic’s the South rose agin (Southern for again) to fight the Recent Unpleasantness (the Civil War). In his alcohol impaired rendition, the South won and confederate money became the nation’s currency.

When I met Tom, with his southern accent tamed by Yankee living for the past 30 years, I heard my dad. One day, early in our relationship, Tom said to me, “We’re in high cotton now!” I had not heard that expression for years. It made me feel strangely at home with him. The first time he fixed me grits with bacon grease I melted, and gained 2 pounds.

Tom’s Southern heritage makes him move slower-which sometimes makes me want to light a fire under his butt, speak slower, and hold his ground regardless of the current popular view. He calls this awhner (Southern for honor). I naturally resonate to this cadence.

So as we loaded the car to head south to visit his relations (Southern for family) my Southern blood began to bubble. I began to feel base. Sturdy. Thoughtfully certain. As we drove into Savannah, the moss skimming the top of the car, I am enchanted. As we crossed the bridge to the island I smelled the mud of the South and my body felt at home.

I wish he was still alive to tell him, “I get it!”

Love to Y’all

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Patricia Boswell

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

 

 

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

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?
waxseal2

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

(pretty much)

I never thought to ask my mother to go away together for a weekend, and, likewise, my mom never thought to ask me. Perhaps we just didn’t want to…

So when Jena called, shaken from a dream that I had died, we decided we needed to spend some time together. We had both been suffering from the changes caused by the  empty nest created when she left home this past December. Jena faces flying solo (pretty much.) I face watching her solo voyage, saying very little (pretty much) and praying a lot.

UnknownSo with some internet searching we decided on Rocky Gap State Park, Resort and Spa in Maryland. It turned out to be much more State Park and much less Resort and Spa, but at least we were together.

We checked out the pool and hot tub. They were inviting, except for the hoards of screaming, splashing kids. I remembered the chlorine-soaked-hotel-pool-evenings of Jena and Landon’s youth. The intention was to water log them so they would go to sleep early and easily. Unfortunately it was usually their dad and I that fell asleep. As I was strolling down nostalgia lane, Jena remarked that she was not interested in swimming with all those noisy kids. I didn’t blame her. Who really does? I joked with her that she sounded old.

We ate dinner in the resort dining room that over looked a sparkling lake surrounded by hills. The meal was mediocre, ending with Jena finding a fly in her almost all eaten salad. The waitress was dutifully concerned, offering a new salad, which Jena declined due to her slight nausea. The waitress, I think in an attempt to comfort us, told the story of another customer who had ordered a caesar salad and was upset to find a fish (anchovy) in her salad. We didn’t bother to explain the difference.

The dinner bread, however, was delicious. Warm. Crusty. Hearty. We ate it all and asked for more. I wrapped the left over bread in a napkin to take back to the room. I knew stuffing bread in my purse was a sign of age. I did it anyway.

We also learned that the annual polar bear plunge to raise money for special needs kids was scheduled the next morning. Jena hopped on board, always ready for the next adventure. She tried to sell me on the idea, saying, “Let’s do it together Mom, you know a Mother-Daughter thing.”  Usually I cannot resist this kind of not-so-subtle manipulation, except when it comes to voluntarily submerging myself in a lake that was frozen-over two days ago. I negotiated my contribution to the mother-daughter bonding would be the $50 entrance fee needed to submerge her 23-year-old body.

So Saturday morning, Jena, along with over 700 other plungers, ran full speed into the icy lake, while snow fell on those of us that were staying dry. I tried, without success, to findimages Jena in the sea of shamrock green charity t-shirts. As I held my iPhone in place, making sure the video light was on so I could capture her heroics, I worried that she would get sick-and it would be my fault.  “What kind of a mom would let her daughter do such a thing?” I reprimanded myself. I had time traveled back to my parenting responsibilities of her pre-eighteen years, when what I said mattered (pretty much).

Jena ran out of the frosty water, and into my outstretched arms holding dry hotel towels, with a smile that radiated heat. I held her as though she was still my little girl, while enjoying the young woman in my arms. I was proud of her. I was proud the us we were forging.

That night we went to the quieter, late-evening pool with a bottle of champagne and paper cups to celebrate Jena’s college diploma and teaching certificate. She told me her life IMG_0937plans, as much as she knew at this point. She told me about her new love and how safe she feels with him. How smart and protective he is. About the practical jokes they play on one another. I got the sense she loved talking about him — as new love does — and that she really wanted me to know what he means to her. I mostly listened. Sometimes I threw in some motherly advise, along with some concerns I wanted her to consider. I realized that she may or may not appreciate my opinion, but our morphing relationship seemed to allowed for it in the moment. We talked easily for a long time.

I felt a new mutuality developing between us. Jena wanted to know about me; about the safe place I went to in the mediation we did earlier; about my writing class as she edited my assignment with thoughtful, insightful suggestions. I softened into her interest. It felt like a door into our future. She was becoming interested in me in a way saved for adult children. Our mother-daughter norms seemed to be maturing. I warmed to it, feeling my historical uber-mother vigilance relax.

I realize, looking over the three generations between my mom, Jena and me, Jena and I are lucky. Not everyone likes their mom or their daughter. I don’t think my mom liked me – I was too much. And she never really knew me. It was my job to know and please her. So I did. Until I didn’t.

Jena and I have something special. I love being her mom and I think she loves having me as a mom (pretty much). She told me that no matter where she is living, when she decides to have children, she is returning to live within an hour of me…because I am home.

With Love,
waxseal2

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

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 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

Another New Year’s Resolution

I have been wondering about my New Year’s resolution for 2013. I usually have several in mind by now, something to do with time management, a regular spiritual practice-which will bring me into the present moment and of course the ever constant, increase my gym attendance. Some years my New Year’s pact has included writing a book, learning to debone a duck, a la Julia Child, find the best hamburger in the world, and learn to type. Sadly these were not consummated.

In 2011 I changed it up. I resolved to sign my name neatly, every time, after I swiped my credit card through the payment pad in the drug stores, grocery stores, clothing stores, I frequent. My thinking…it would slow me down in the check out line so I would remember to breathe at least once that day, as well as, act as an experiment, of sorts, determining if I could, by the end of 2011, master the art of legible touch screen signature signing. I did rather well with this, 2011 was one of my more accomplished years, resolution-ally speaking.

In 2012, I know I made some, unfortunately I don’t remember what they were.

I have been wondering what promise to shepherd into 2013. I composed some birthday declarations earlier in December, so I feel a bit resolution redundant.

However, I just read an article http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/good-news/chain-reaction-tim-hortons-goodwill-183517438.html that gave me a possible idea for a new, never before done by me, New Year’s intention.

Once a week I will pay a kindness forward. 

(If this were a movie and you were listening to the soundtrack, a needle was just pulled across the vinyl record. EEECCCCCHHHHHH)

All my failed New Year’s resolutions pass before my eyes. Unfulfilled promises to myself. Disappointments felt as I reread the lofty list, written by me, a well meaning, albeit naive, woman on the last night of the year. High hopes not reached. To further my shame, if I tell all of you I am going to commit to this weekly practice and I wimp out or forget or just don’t want to do it anymore, my ignominious rout will be public.

Perhaps I should simply pledge to put gas in my car each week and have another successful year.

The good news, or the bad-not quite sure sometimes-is I am not one to turn away from a challenge. I have thrown the resolution quantlet at my feet. I accept my challenge.

In 2013, I will pay a kindness forward, I will offer random acts of kindness, I will attempt to make someone’s day more pleasant…at least once a week. And I will keep you all posted on my progress…or lack thereof.

Would any of you like to join me by sharing your resolution for 2013? Putting it in print  certainly ups the ante. (Again the good news and the bad.) And if you do, I won’t feel so “out there” by myself…nothing like a little New Year’s guilt.

Wishing you the year you dream of,
waxseal2

 

 

 

Patricia Boswell

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…

Patricia Boswell

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

Patricia Boswell

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.

Patricia Boswell

Show Down in Savannah

We left Savannah Island at 9:30 am to begin the first leg of the 12 hour trip north to Pittsburgh. Our plan was to leave early so we could get to Savannah by 10. We had some last minute shopping to do. Tom’s favorite Broughton Street men’s store was having a moving sale and he wanted to check out. I had seen a folkloric, Haitian steel drum mermaid that I wanted to pick up for what is becoming my mermaid collection.

Finding parking was impossible. Little did we know it was graduation day for the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD). We circled and swore for over a half hour. Finally we saw an open spot, but it was the wrong way on a one way street. I decided our best course of action was for me to jump out and stake our claim. I would hold it, Tom would circle the block to come at it the right way.

There I stood. I should have had a flag. Perhaps a Union flag. I felt  proud claiming ownership of this metered space.

Until…

A HUGE Ford 150 roughneck truck, the color of the eyes of a blue eyed Barbie, pulled up and began to back into where I was standing. I waved my arms while yelling, “WHOA.” He kept coming. The top of his tail gate was the height of my armpits.

Years ago I had a similar vehicle versus me encounter. It was at the kids bus stop. One of the neighborhood dads would drive his kids and wait with them until the bus came. When the bus arrived, his kids would jump out and run, with all the other kids, to the waiting bus. Despite the bus’s blinking red lights and protective arm stretched out like a mom reaching across the front seat, this dad would pull out and take off down the road.

One morning I had had enough. I casually stood in front of his car, sipping my coffee, waiting for the bus to arrive. The bus came. The kids ran. He put his car in gear and headed toward me. I planted my feet, looked at him through his windshield, pointing to the blinking bus to make my point. I knew I had the law on my side.

He kept coming.

I remember thinking to myself, “He is gong to hit me and it is really going to hurt.” Regardless, my feet didn’t move. I was riveted to the spot. He began shouting at me. I shouted back. By the time we were finished making our points, the bus had left. I stepped aside and let him pass.

So it went with the large southern man in his over sized, compensating for something, truck. He informed me, through his rear cab window, that I couldn’t save this parking place. I told him I could…because I was… little did he know that where I come from people save parking spaces, quite frequently, using plastic lawn chairs. I explained, over the roar of his engine, that we had been looking for parking for half an hour and I was waiting for my husband.

His face got redder and he raised his voice to bully level telling me that since he was there, with his truck, he gets the spot. I explained since I was there first, I get the spot. All the while, I was on the phone with Tom, directing him to the cross streets and explaining that a very mad guy wanted our place, so he had to hurry.

Again, my feet were stuck to the pavement. It wasn’t even a conscious choice. I remember thinking, possession is 9/10’s of the law, as my body stood her ground. I told Tom, as my heart pounded, “This Southern guy, in his big truck, is going to hit me.”

Call it chivalry or perhaps Southern awhner, but when truck dude heard that he yelled, “ I’m not gonna hit you.”  With that he gunned his engine and peeled off. “Damned Yankee,” I imagined him cursing as he stepped on the gas.

Tom found me a few minutes later and slipped our sleek new Lincoln hybrid quietly into the spot. I was glad to see him.

As we gathered our things to go shop, the owner of the tanning salon across the street came out and said he had seen the whole thing.

He congratulated me for holding my ground.

Perhaps it was my Southern blood bubbling again.

Y’all come back, ya hear

 
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Patricia Boswell

Remembering Dad on Memorial Day…

My dad was from Alabama. He loved the South. He longed to return there to live. My mom would not consider leaving her hometown in NJ to move south of the mason dixon line. She didn’t like dads poor relations living in tin-roofed houses that leaked in rain storms. Dad endured his exile, sometimes less gracefully than others.

He often bribed me with the promise to buy a horse if I persuaded mom to move. Frankly I think he would have moved without her, if I would have gone with him, but that is another story.

The bribe was enticing since I couldn’t own a horse in NJ because we lived on the wrong side of the street. At least that was what mom and dad told me. My girlfriend, who lived across the street, also couldn’t have a horse. I worried if I moved south with my dad, both sides of the street would be the wrong side.

We appeased dads homesickness by naming our family dog, an Irish Setter, Rebel. It seemed to do the trick. It also gave me unintended permission to develop my internal rebel self. I knew better than to present her to the family, but I have called on my rebel blood often in my adult life.

I was raised on grits, corn bread crumbled in butter milk and my dad’s stories of the magic of the south. The beauty of the land. The kindness of the people. When dad drank his vodka and tonic’s the South rose agin (Southern for again) to fight the Recent Unpleasantness (the Civil War). In his alcohol impaired rendition, the South won and confederate money became the nation’s currency.

When I met Tom, with his southern accent tamed by Yankee living for the past 30 years, I heard my dad. One day, early in our relationship, Tom said to me, “We’re in high cotton now!” I had not heard that expression for years. It made me feel strangely at home with him. The first time he fixed me grits with bacon grease I melted, and gained 2 pounds.

Tom’s Southern heritage makes him move slower-which sometimes makes me want to light a fire under his butt, speak slower, and hold his ground regardless of the current popular view. He calls this awhner (Southern for honor). I naturally resonate to this cadence.

So as we loaded the car to head south to visit his relations (Southern for family) my Southern blood began to bubble. I began to feel base. Sturdy. Thoughtfully certain. As we drove into Savannah, the moss skimming the top of the car, I am enchanted. As we crossed the bridge to the island I smelled the mud of the South and my body felt at home.

I wish he was still alive to tell him, “I get it!”

Love to Y’all

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Patricia Boswell

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
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Patricia Boswell

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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Patricia Boswell

(pretty much)

I never thought to ask my mother to go away together for a weekend, and, likewise, my mom never thought to ask me. Perhaps we just didn’t want to…

So when Jena called, shaken from a dream that I had died, we decided we needed to spend some time together. We had both been suffering from the changes caused by the  empty nest created when she left home this past December. Jena faces flying solo (pretty much.) I face watching her solo voyage, saying very little (pretty much) and praying a lot.

UnknownSo with some internet searching we decided on Rocky Gap State Park, Resort and Spa in Maryland. It turned out to be much more State Park and much less Resort and Spa, but at least we were together.

We checked out the pool and hot tub. They were inviting, except for the hoards of screaming, splashing kids. I remembered the chlorine-soaked-hotel-pool-evenings of Jena and Landon’s youth. The intention was to water log them so they would go to sleep early and easily. Unfortunately it was usually their dad and I that fell asleep. As I was strolling down nostalgia lane, Jena remarked that she was not interested in swimming with all those noisy kids. I didn’t blame her. Who really does? I joked with her that she sounded old.

We ate dinner in the resort dining room that over looked a sparkling lake surrounded by hills. The meal was mediocre, ending with Jena finding a fly in her almost all eaten salad. The waitress was dutifully concerned, offering a new salad, which Jena declined due to her slight nausea. The waitress, I think in an attempt to comfort us, told the story of another customer who had ordered a caesar salad and was upset to find a fish (anchovy) in her salad. We didn’t bother to explain the difference.

The dinner bread, however, was delicious. Warm. Crusty. Hearty. We ate it all and asked for more. I wrapped the left over bread in a napkin to take back to the room. I knew stuffing bread in my purse was a sign of age. I did it anyway.

We also learned that the annual polar bear plunge to raise money for special needs kids was scheduled the next morning. Jena hopped on board, always ready for the next adventure. She tried to sell me on the idea, saying, “Let’s do it together Mom, you know a Mother-Daughter thing.”  Usually I cannot resist this kind of not-so-subtle manipulation, except when it comes to voluntarily submerging myself in a lake that was frozen-over two days ago. I negotiated my contribution to the mother-daughter bonding would be the $50 entrance fee needed to submerge her 23-year-old body.

So Saturday morning, Jena, along with over 700 other plungers, ran full speed into the icy lake, while snow fell on those of us that were staying dry. I tried, without success, to findimages Jena in the sea of shamrock green charity t-shirts. As I held my iPhone in place, making sure the video light was on so I could capture her heroics, I worried that she would get sick-and it would be my fault.  “What kind of a mom would let her daughter do such a thing?” I reprimanded myself. I had time traveled back to my parenting responsibilities of her pre-eighteen years, when what I said mattered (pretty much).

Jena ran out of the frosty water, and into my outstretched arms holding dry hotel towels, with a smile that radiated heat. I held her as though she was still my little girl, while enjoying the young woman in my arms. I was proud of her. I was proud the us we were forging.

That night we went to the quieter, late-evening pool with a bottle of champagne and paper cups to celebrate Jena’s college diploma and teaching certificate. She told me her life IMG_0937plans, as much as she knew at this point. She told me about her new love and how safe she feels with him. How smart and protective he is. About the practical jokes they play on one another. I got the sense she loved talking about him — as new love does — and that she really wanted me to know what he means to her. I mostly listened. Sometimes I threw in some motherly advise, along with some concerns I wanted her to consider. I realized that she may or may not appreciate my opinion, but our morphing relationship seemed to allowed for it in the moment. We talked easily for a long time.

I felt a new mutuality developing between us. Jena wanted to know about me; about the safe place I went to in the mediation we did earlier; about my writing class as she edited my assignment with thoughtful, insightful suggestions. I softened into her interest. It felt like a door into our future. She was becoming interested in me in a way saved for adult children. Our mother-daughter norms seemed to be maturing. I warmed to it, feeling my historical uber-mother vigilance relax.

I realize, looking over the three generations between my mom, Jena and me, Jena and I are lucky. Not everyone likes their mom or their daughter. I don’t think my mom liked me – I was too much. And she never really knew me. It was my job to know and please her. So I did. Until I didn’t.

Jena and I have something special. I love being her mom and I think she loves having me as a mom (pretty much). She told me that no matter where she is living, when she decides to have children, she is returning to live within an hour of me…because I am home.

With Love,
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Patricia Boswell

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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Patricia Boswell

Another New Year’s Resolution

I have been wondering about my New Year’s resolution for 2013. I usually have several in mind by now, something to do with time management, a regular spiritual practice-which will bring me into the present moment and of course the ever constant, increase my gym attendance. Some years my New Year’s pact has included writing a book, learning to debone a duck, a la Julia Child, find the best hamburger in the world, and learn to type. Sadly these were not consummated.

In 2011 I changed it up. I resolved to sign my name neatly, every time, after I swiped my credit card through the payment pad in the drug stores, grocery stores, clothing stores, I frequent. My thinking…it would slow me down in the check out line so I would remember to breathe at least once that day, as well as, act as an experiment, of sorts, determining if I could, by the end of 2011, master the art of legible touch screen signature signing. I did rather well with this, 2011 was one of my more accomplished years, resolution-ally speaking.

In 2012, I know I made some, unfortunately I don’t remember what they were.

I have been wondering what promise to shepherd into 2013. I composed some birthday declarations earlier in December, so I feel a bit resolution redundant.

However, I just read an article http://ca.news.yahoo.com/blogs/good-news/chain-reaction-tim-hortons-goodwill-183517438.html that gave me a possible idea for a new, never before done by me, New Year’s intention.

Once a week I will pay a kindness forward. 

(If this were a movie and you were listening to the soundtrack, a needle was just pulled across the vinyl record. EEECCCCCHHHHHH)

All my failed New Year’s resolutions pass before my eyes. Unfulfilled promises to myself. Disappointments felt as I reread the lofty list, written by me, a well meaning, albeit naive, woman on the last night of the year. High hopes not reached. To further my shame, if I tell all of you I am going to commit to this weekly practice and I wimp out or forget or just don’t want to do it anymore, my ignominious rout will be public.

Perhaps I should simply pledge to put gas in my car each week and have another successful year.

The good news, or the bad-not quite sure sometimes-is I am not one to turn away from a challenge. I have thrown the resolution quantlet at my feet. I accept my challenge.

In 2013, I will pay a kindness forward, I will offer random acts of kindness, I will attempt to make someone’s day more pleasant…at least once a week. And I will keep you all posted on my progress…or lack thereof.

Would any of you like to join me by sharing your resolution for 2013? Putting it in print  certainly ups the ante. (Again the good news and the bad.) And if you do, I won’t feel so “out there” by myself…nothing like a little New Year’s guilt.

Wishing you the year you dream of,
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Patricia Boswell

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…

Patricia Boswell

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

Patricia Boswell

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.

Patricia Boswell