Tag Archives: relationships

Gratitude

She told me to try to frame it in terms of gratitude. What was I thankful for as a result? What wouldn't I have if not for it happening?

"The upside of painful knowledge is so much greater than the downside of blissful innocence." – Sheryl Sandberg

I've a confession to make –
Sometimes, I miss the innocent way I used to view the world. The way I would jump headlong into something – full of optimism, brimming with trust.

I used to give the benefit of the doubt without a second thought.
I used to give away second chances like they were in a fire sale.

I used to have rose-colored glasses superglued to my face.

But then, it happened. There may be beauty in truth but there is ugliness there too – so jarring that it jolts us into a new reality.

A reality where a therapist asks you what the upside is, the things you can find to be grateful for as a result of it.

I smile.

I am grateful –

For freedom
For knowledge
For opened eyes
For relationships I've kept
For relationships I've built and rebuilt
For strength and resilience I didn't know I had.

For true happiness that only found me in my after.

For surviving and building something better inside myself.

Two tickets to paradise

For the first time in over two years, I’m going on a real vacation.  I’m excited, but I’m also really nervous…


Excited because, well, who isn’t excited to have a vacation from the every day grind of work (and school, for me) and responsibility?

Nervous because…I’m not traveling alone.  It’s the first time in over two years that I’m traveling with a guy…since well, a messy divorce and trust issues.

Yeah.

So I came up with tip of how to travel when you’re in a new relationship:

  1. Don’t be afraid to poo.  So, for whatever reason in new relationships, there’s this thing where people are afraid to poo in the other person’s place.  Don’t worry, everyone poops and your boyfriend/girlfriend/friend/crush/wolverine knows that you poop, even if you don’t do it at their place.
  2. Pack as you normally would. Don’t try to pack light, if you don’t normally. And don’t pack super heavy if you’re a carryon only type traveler. Just do you. 
  3. Tell them what you want or don’t want to see. Be honest. There’s nothing wrong with being agreeable, but don’t be a doormat to make someone else happy, make sure you see/do what you want too. 
  4. Bring your own stuff. This includes credit cards, cash, phone chargers, etc.  It’s always better to have backups in case someone forgets or loses something. Also, if you’re slightly morbid like me…you never want to be completely dependent on someone should stuff go wrong.
  5. Have fun and oh, sign up for frequent flier and rewards points for places you go, because it’s never too early to start saving/amassing points for your next journey. 

Flash Fiction – Time’s Echo

Image credit: Pixabay/Wordswag

I have a collection of notebooks that I’ve scribbled in over the years.  Some of it is just silliness, but other pieces are surprisingly okay.  Here’s a  piece of flash fiction I wrote awhile ago and later updated.

As I’ve said before, there are some things (and some people), you never stop writing about.  Some of this is true – I did hear a voice on a bus that reminded me of someone.  And I never crawled around under bridges with him…though sometimes, I wish I had.

Time’s Echo

I felt a sea of pins gliding over me, pricking up goosebumps over my usually calm span of skin.  All it took was a tone, a breath, a word – and time’s hand pushed me into memories of you.  

I heard your voice on the bus today, wishing while I turned that he’d look like you.  I’ve missed your dimples and laughing eyes, though I can count on both hands the years you’ve been gone.

He sat in the back of bus.  Surrounded by the smiling faces of friends, he recounted some tale of another night’s conquest.  But the words didn’t matter and barely registered in my mind.  I heard instead, your words – told in teasing rhythms, punctuated by laughter, and paused only by deep dimpled smiles.  He had your voice.  It’s clarity echoed in my heart and plucked the strings that hold me together.

My knees still bear scars from climbing under the old bridge with you.  Rushing over stones and brambles until we found the big rock at the edge of the marsh.  We rested our backs on its smooth face and lay in the sun, framed by swaying cattails and hidden by the fog rising from shallow waters.  You whispered poetry against my neck, teeth and tongue marking tender flesh with each word.

The man at the back of the bus turned and looked at me, his stare cutting through the haze of memories.  My heart beat a pattern of loss against my chest and my fingers probed the hollow of my neck, searching for the mark that has long since faded.

His lips split tanned skin into a smile that could never compare to the crooked brightness of yours.  Between three fast breaths sucked in through my nose, I allowed my lips to curl into a sad answer to his smile.  Dark hair fell over his shining blue eyes, as he turned back to his friends and continued the soft torture he afflicted on me.

But I wanted him to –

I closed my eyes, straining to memorize the rhythms that died with you.  I wanted to press my ear to his lips – hearing him, hearing you – capturing a piece of you inside myself.

Summer Music Series VI

IMG_2096Alright, alright.  Summer is almost over, but not quite yet.  Some kids may have started school (my grad school classes are going into their 3rd week, ugh), but everyone knows that summer is not officially over until the last night of Labor Day weekend.

So let’s go on a drive, crew.  It’s still warm enough to cruise around with the windows down – wind whistling through our hair – and the music up.

I suppose I get my habit of talking about songs and what they mean from my mom.  And it’s this song, “Will you love me tomorrow,” that I have clear memories of talking to my mom about in the car.

In case you didn’t know it, the song is about someone wondering if they’re about to have meaningless sex or something more meaningful.  My mom would to sing it to me when I was in high school and would point out key lyrics to me, kind of like this –

Mom singing: “Is this a lasting treasure, or just a moment’s pleasure?  Can I believe the magic of your sighs? Will you still love me tomorrow?”  Followed by Mom glancing at me.  She’d say, “You know what they’re talking about, Lee?  Sighs? Sex.  But will he still love her tomorrow? Kind of important, Lee.”

Then the Shirelles would croon: “Tonight with words unspoken, you say that I’m the only one.” (Mom pointedly looking at me, no doubt adding in the translation of “sex” for my benefit.) The Shirelles, oblivious to this exchange, would continue.  “But will my heart be broken, when the night meets the morning sun?”

Leesha would groan and put her hand over her face, knowing what was coming next.  And what came next? What else? As I was a teenager and she a frazzled creature known as the mother of a teenager, she’d launch into a long conversation of sex, relationships, being careful, and all that fun stuff.

Years went by and after the lectures stopped, I would listen to the song and remember that conversation with my mom.  She had a point of course, but you have to appreciate the ingenious way she brought it up.  When the song would come on in the car, I would often turn it up and tell the story.  Then announce to my passengers that I’d one day do the same thing to my kids, treating them all to a silly rendition of the speech, and allowing everyone to relive a bit of those awkward lectures from parents.

And then something happened – I left my husband and had to restart my life…which meant at some point, I’d start dating again.

This was terrifying. (And this is actually an understatement.)

Sure, there were the normal questions that everyone wonders  – After being with one person for ten years, what would it be like to be with someone new? What if it was weird?

And, since I haven’t disclosed any details of my divorce before (and am not going to right at this moment), I’ll just say – there were some added fears for me.

In the first days after leaving my ex, I’d stand in the shower for a long time – scalding and scrubbing my flesh to erase terrible fears.  There was a week when I barely ate.  There were terrible nightmares.  And there were months where I couldn’t even read a romance novel, much less imagine being with anyone new.

But – even though it didn’t seem like it then, little by little, I began to heal.  Time is a greater healer of all things, after all, and one day, I decided to start dating again.  That’s when this song came back to me, in a bit of a taunting melody.  But unlike a lot of people who may wonder if the sex they’re about to have will meaningful or meaningless (though I did wonder about it a bit), I really wondered how I’d react after – if I’d curl up into a ball and cry…or run to the bathroom and be physically ill.

But – amazingly enough to me at the time – none of those things happened.  And, since I’m classy and won’t give away super intimate things, I’ll just say this – I’m back to reading and writing romance novels. 😉

I’ve said all of this for a greater purpose though.  And it’s that you can heal from any hurt that you have.  You can experience something terrible and get past it.  Fear and pain may build up to be a wall set in your path.  But you can get past it…and the other side of that wall is a truly beautiful place.

“Will You Love Me Tomorrow” written by Carole King (I LOVE her) and Gerry Goffin

“Tonight you’re mine completely
You give your love so sweetly
Tonight the light of love is in your eyes
But will you love me tomorrow

Is this a lasting treasure
Or just a moment’s pleasure
Can I believe the magic of your sighs
Will you still love me tomorrow

Tonight with words unspoken
You say that I’m the only one
But will my heart be broken
When the night meets the morning sun

I’d like to know that your love
Is love I can be sure of
So tell me now and I won’t ask again
Will you still love me tomorrow

Quotable Thursdays

When I was going through my divorce (mostly last year), I felt like I had wasted so much of my time with my ex…especially since things didn’t work out and that I was missing out on my true self, my true destiny, and my true calling.

And I’m sure I’m not the only person who sometimes feels this way.  But hitting a snag or a roadblock on our own personal journeys does not stop us from getting where we want (or need) to go.  Sometimes, we just have to take the long way around.  And hey, who doesn’t like the longer way?  Sure, it’s a bumpier road and there are far less people on it.  But, you know what?  It’s the scenic route and the path with the most interesting stories, and I am after all, a writer and a reader – who loves a good story.

That’s when I came across the following quote:

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And you know what?  It’s true.  It’s never too late to become who you want or do what you want in life.  Go out and get it.  You can do it and you can start today.

Packs, support groups, beta readers, and drinking buddies

(The importance of finding your own “writer’s pack.”)

wordswag/pixabay

I began my writing journey when I was in the fourth grade and teachers would assign writing exercises  – you remember, don’t you? The ones where they give you a topic, like going to the moon, and you got to fill in all of the blanks?   Oh, after just a few of those create writing prompts, I was hooked for good on writing.  🙂

In middle school, I focused on poetry (a lot of sad poetry because those years were rough but also the regular teenage stuff of lamenting that my crush didn’t know I existed).  But it was also the beginning of me attempting to write novels.  And I say “attempting” because I was never able to finish.  It wasn’t until many, many years later that I finished a novel (I was around 30).

So why couldn’t I finish a novel?

First, I lacked discipline when I was a young writer.  My attention span – especially when I was in middle and high school wasn’t where it needed to be to be able to finish a novel.

Second, time – this one has me nervous now, as this week starts grad school classes for me.  But a major hinderance to finishing a novel in high school, college, and the first few years of my adult life was my lack of time.  Or maybe more accurately, my lack of time management.  If you’re sneaky enough with schedules, I’d imagine that you can make anything happen (that’s my hope, at least).

Third, and most important was support of fellow writers.  Don’t get me wrong, I’ve always had the support of my family and friends for my writing (they are my oldest and most loyal fans).  However, for quite a long time, I did not have a writing pack – a group of like-minded people to help you along this strange journey of writing.  And we need them more than most, since writing can be a very lonely process.

Believe it or not, once I found my pack and we committed to meeting once a week, my first two issues of discipline and time management were crossed off.  Why?  Because I was dedicating a place and time for writing.  And even more than that, there were people I was committed to seeing, who would know if I didn’t show up.

My group served as a writer’s support group and gave help that only other writers could provide.  Do you second guess your story and yourself too?  Is your writing progress as slow as mine is?  Should I outline?  Should I bounce around from scene to scene or try to write chronologically?  How often should I edit (while still writing my novel)?  Should I blog?  My writer’s group helped me with all of these questions and hopefully, I’ve helped them as well.

As the group grew, we also became supportive in other ways as well – reading small snippets of novels to make sure things were on the right path, going to poetry sessions to support artists reading their works out-loud, and volunteering to beta read and help edit completed works.  (Though honestly, it’s my opinion that you need to work your way up to this point and not merely show up at an event and demand that people edit/critique your work when they don’t even know you yet).

Also, as my writing pack grew and as I grew as a writer, I found myself able to share my own experiences with other writers.  Giving advice on tricks and tips that have worked for me as a writer and cheering others along in their own endeavors, which has been my favorite part of the writing group. 🙂

Moral of the story – if you want to really succeed, join a writer’s group.  Not only will it help you to grow as a writer and let you meet some really great people, it will allow you to help others as well.  🙂

Summer Music Series – V

Summer Music Series (Episode V)

IMG_2096I sing in the car, I can’t help it.  I mean, I can help it..it is possible – if it’s a really short trip or if we’re still in that part of our relationship where I’m nervous of what you’ll think of my singing.  But otherwise, I’m singing along (loudly) to songs and chattering away about songs, memories, or whatever pops into my mind.

Today…a complicated song for me.

If we were in the car, when the first notes of this song sail out of my speakers, I would put my hand over the song information and ask you two questions – name the song and if you’re a bit of a movie person like me, name what movie it’s from.

But alas, you’re reading this and we are not in the car.  So I’ll have to forgo that bit and just tell you – the name of the song is “let my love open the door,” and my question of what movie it’s from is actually a trick one.  Tricksy hobbit (in case you didn’t know, I’m kind of a nerd).

The song is in a few movies, but the two that showcase the song the best (in my humble opinion) are “Look who’s talking,” yep, it’s the song in the very beginning when she’s literally in the process of getting pregnant (more on this later).   And “Dan in real life,” when Steve Carell pretty much serenades Juliette Binoche with an acoustic guitar (it’s toward the end of the clip below).  What is it about guys serenading with acoustic guitars?  It’s like my kryptonite.

<Sigh>  Leesha, why are you so sappy?

Anyway – over a year ago and in many ways, in another lifetime, I was married and trying to start a family.  Actually, I’d been trying for quite some time and that year, I started fertility treatment.  I’ll condense all of that to say, that I got to the step where doctors perform a procedure to help you get pregnant and after said procedure, I had to lie on a table for 5-10 minutes.   So what did I do?  Well, because it’s me, I brought my iPad and read a romance novel.  But also because of “look who’s talking” and because I’m silly (and wanted all the luck I could get), I played this song.  The silliness of playing the song made me smile during a tense and confusing time – wanting something so badly that is supposed to come naturally and being alone (my ex didn’t come with me) in the doctor’s office weren’t much fun.  In the end, the procedure didn’t take and a few weeks later, for different reasons, my marriage was over (but that’s a story for another day).

And then, I began to listen to this song in a different way.  Not as a silly homage in my quest for a baby, but about my life and myself.  You see, I’ve always been a champion for lost causes and lost people.  My dad used to joke about it when I was younger – if there was a sad soul in my vicinity, it wasn’t long before I was lending my heart out to them, bringing them home, and trying to make them feel better.  I used to be the type of girl who would have sung this song about someone who needed to be healed and who I wanted to help.

In the middle of my divorce, I realized the irony of it all.  How often when I was young, I would try to patch up the wounded souls I came across in my journey, and now, many years later, it seems I’d become my own wounded soul to save.

So, I began to sing the song about myself – but not about how I was waiting for someone to come along and save me.  Honey, please.

I sang it about saving myself and that’s what I did (and continue to do).

Let my love open the door,” by Pete Townshend

When people keep repeating
That you’ll never fall in love
When everybody keeps retreating
But you can’t seem to get enough

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

When everything feels all over
Everybody seems unkind
I’ll give you a four leaf clover
Take all worry out of your mind

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

I have the only key to your heart
I can stop you falling apart
Try today, you’ll find this way
Come on and give me a chance to say

Let my love open the door, it’s all I’m living for
Release yourself from misery
There’s only one thing gonna set you free
That’s my love, that’s my love

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door

When tragedy befalls you
Don’t let it drag you down
Love can cure your problems
You’re so lucky I’m around

Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
Let my love open the door
To your heart

R is for Rubes – A to Z (WR)

For the A to Z challenge, I’ve been examining different types of characters from books, movies, and television.

Perhaps one of the most endearing aspects of reading about a character is seeing a little bit of yourself or someone you care about within them.  It’s not a Mary Sue for the reader, but in many ways the most beloved characters of all time share similarities with the author’s readership and it allows the reader to form a magical bond to the character (that’s a big part of becoming beloved after all).

Sometimes readers share negative attributes with characters, often you see this in cautionary tales, meant to scare readers into whatever behavior the author deems appropriate.

And sometimes, even we authors see parallels between our own lives and characters that we love (whether we’ve created them or not).  Just like readers, sometimes these parallels are positive and sometimes they are not.

Rubes are naïve characters (sometimes foolish), who are often taken advantage of by all sorts in books – villains, twists of fate/plot, and even sometimes our own dear hero(ine).

We are all meant to take a turn as the fool in our own life stories and it was a year ago today that I realized that I had been cast in this particular role, probably for quite some time.

But I want to tell you something – something that all of we former rubes have learned:  you won’t be a rube forever – and if you let it, your time as the fool will make you wiser and will help you find the strength you never knew you had.

  

Outrunning the bitterness

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Life always has its challenges.  Big and small storms that can, if you let them, turn your outlook from sweet to bitter.

Divorce (my most recent storm) is definitely one of life’s challenges that can be thrown your way.  But how do you stop the terrible things in life from pushing you into bitterness?

Well, I’d imagine there are a lot of different ways.  Here are some of the ones that have helped me (and maybe they can help you too):

1) Breathe (in all forms, including screaming, if you need it) and let it go.  There is a good reason why there are so many quotes about letting go and letting go of the things you can’t control (sing it with me – let it go, let it gooooo).  In most cases, you have a better chance of controlling the weather than you do for controlling another person’s actions.  The only thing you can control is how you react.  Which brings me to my next point.. 

2) Plan – do not let a bad event (or person) screw up your life.  Adjust your old plans or make new ones, but don’t give up on your life or yourself.

When I left my ex, I was in the middle of fertility treatment to start a family, which I have wanted for years.  The treatment didn’t take.  So, in addition to dealing with the fallout from the end of a ten-year relationship, my hope of becoming a mom (I am in my early 30s) was thrown into doubt.

I knew that I did not want to start dating again while being totally obsessed with finding someone to make a baby with.  That would not be enjoyable or healthy for me or, I’d imagine, any man who was thrown into my path.

So, I made a new plan.

If I’m single at 36, I’m going to get IVF on my own and become a single parent.  If I’m happily coupled by then, and the guy I’m with is ready as well, we can start a family the old-fashioned way, otherwise, I have my plan.  In the meantime, I can date without getting so stressed out about my biological clock.  And I already have a few guy friends who have volunteered for donor-ship, so check and check. 🙂

3)   Spend time with friends and seek out new friends and experiences – Your friends are already lovely, so spend time with them and reconnect.  Just being with the people you care about, who also care about you, is a soothing balm for your soul…let it help you heal.

Also, get out there and shake things up.  Major shocks to your system often require major action.  Find a meetup group, volunteer, go to a conference, take a class, travel… just do something.  Make sure it’s something healthy though, engaging in self-destructive behavior won’t help you deal with a bad situation…it might feel good at first, but in the end, it will just make everything worse.

4)  Stay positive – All of the things on this list helped me stay positive throughout my hard times and when that didn’t work, I made an effort to practice gratitude.  Even in my darkest days, I was able to list the people and things I was thankful for in my life – and it made a huge difference in helping me heal.

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I can tell you – looking back from the other side of my own pain – if you’re struggling, hang in there.  Better days are coming. 🙂

Quotes for hard times

I love words – obviously, I’m a reader and a writer.  But I’ve always loved them and recognized the power in them.

But you have already discovered that for yourself.  You already know that there’s nothing like listening (and singing along, in my case) to a song when you’re happy/sad/nostalgic.

I love singing (more accurately screeching) along to songs and reading poems or wise words when I’m down.  During my separation and divorce process (just a scant few weeks before everything is final now), I would use google image search to find quotes against pretty backgrounds that I would save on my phone.  I can’t tell you how many of these image quotes I’ve saved or read over the past year (sadly, separation/divorce can be a lengthly process), but I can tell you that they’ve helped – because words have a great power – to give you hope, strength, and even to heal.

I recently started making my own image quotes, using the fabulous app –  Word Swag.  If you don’t have it, or something like it, you should check it out.  Here are some of the quotes and thoughts that have gotten me through the roughest days of my divorce…and if you need to be built up a bit, I hope that they can help you too.

Because everyone needs hope and to focus on the future when bad things happen –

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Because the end of one thing, does not mean the end of everything –

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Because you have to be able to take care of yourself, count on yourself, and above all, save yourself – not wait around for someone else to do it.

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Try not to be bitter and always be thankful for the things you have –

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And lastly, Bella’s wisdom, for appreciating the little things (and to remembering to take things slowly).  🙂

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