31 Days of Romance – Day 3

Next step in the search for more romance in your life: know your partner.  Are they adventurous, laid back, over the top?

Listen to this romantic memory from Miss Aimee:

“He set up one of those pop up canopy tent things on the deck in the backyard and hung blankets and had throw pillows; made it all nice like a little luxury getaway in India.  Had candles everywhere and gave me a nice massage and foot rub and we slept out there…all this to tell me he loved me for the first time.”

Wow…can’t you picture it?  He bought freakin’ throw pillows for this woman!  A+ for him and his creativity and dedication to her!  Now if I was reading this and thought, “Oooh!  I want that too” and then looked at my partner, expecting the same kind of treatment, I might find myself in for a rude awakening if this is totally outside the reality of who he is.

Early on when my husband and I were first dating, he surprised me at the beach one day.  Showed up unannounced, where he knew I would be, with a bottle of cheap champagne in a brown paper bag, plastic cups and roses picked from his yard.  It makes me smile to this day thinking about it. We were broker than broke at the time, both of us, so I took no offense to cheap champagne.  I appreciated his gesture.

couple on beach

We spent the rest of the afternoon sneaking swigs of champagne under a beach towel and giggling conspiratorially.  We were the only ones in the world that day, much like Miss Aimee must have felt in that backyard canopy.  Did I get any throw pillows out of the day?  That would be making the assumption my husband even knew what the heck a throw pillow was back then!  Ha!  No, no throw pillows for me.

So while the details of Aimee’s Indian inspired getaway may have been outside the realm of possibility for my husband, he was still able to create a getaway that was representative of who he was at that point in time.  Neither one is right, neither one is wrong.  For me to have a level of expectation beyond what would be comfortable or natural for him would be silly.

So know your partner.  Be gracious and appreciative for the gestures they do make.  Recognize their attempts.  Don’t compare what others are doing to your own experience.

More than 28 years later, he still likes to surprise me with random treats (and the wine has definitely gotten better!).  This is his “style” and I love it!

31 Days of Romance – Day 2

So in terms of romance, you’ve decided you want to attract more of it into your life.  On Day 1 your first assignment was to start the conversation with your partner; what is romance to each of you, test the waters as to your partner’s receptiveness to the whole idea.

Flowers

Before we go any further though – we need to know one thing…how do you feel about yourself?  Let me set the stage for where I want to go with this.

Years ago we would go to Texas to visit my husband’s family.  My mother in law, in her late 70’s at the time, bless her heart, as the Texans say, would corner me anytime we went to go out some where and pepper me with beauty suggestions.  “You sure you don’t want to put some lipstick on before we go out?” or “We can wait for you hon until you fix your hair and put your face on.”  I was in my 20’s, from southern California, with a new baby and to be honest, didn’t give a rat’s ass what I looked like.  If I had pants and shoes on, I was good to go.  Her well meaning questioning only led me to rebel more!

Over the years I came to understand that being appealing for her man was an important objective each day for her.  She took it seriously, as many women of her era did.  I’m sure I appalled her a time or two with my no frills regimen!

Truth is though, my husband could have cared less.  He would have been oblivious to any primping of any kind that I might have done.

I was truly missing the point though…how did being plain Jane everyday make me feel inside?  Did I feel desirable or sexy?  Did I feel strong in our relationship?  Did I feel strong as a woman in this world?

Shocked by her old fashioned sensibilities, I assumed she put lipstick on an an effort to please her man, for him, for his sake.  Looking back on it now, I know she did it for herself, for her own strength.  It made her feel good and beautiful and powerful; and oh how powerful she was, a true queen in her kingdom.

So my question to you is, how do you feel about you?  Do you feel powerful in your daily walk?  Because I can tell you right now, if you are looking for a little romance to make you feel better about yourself, stronger in your world, stronger in your relationship, you are setting yourself up for some bitter disappointment.

Look at where you are in your life.  Are you happy with who you are?  You have to decide what makes you feel strong in your own skin and then do more of that!  For some it might be make up and a new hair do, for others it might be a new dress like I got, or new comfy sweats so you can relax!  Whatever it is, whatever you define it to be for you, work it out sister!  Add more of it to your life and you will see a shift in how the universe looks at you, after all, you don’t mess with a queen in her kingdom.

31 Days of Romance – Day 1

If you knew me you would probably think that romance would be one of the last things in the world I would be blogging about.  Trust me, I am surprised too.  My blog is about a recent turnaround I made in my life.  My focus here is to explore all the things I missed out on leading up to my turnaround, romance was most certainly collateral damage in the hectic life I was leading.   I am making choices now, however, that allow me to put focus where I need to in my life.

Romance Day 1

Now don’t get me wrong; if I didn’t have my current husband, at my age I would be fine with or without romance in my world, wouldn’t give it much thought.  My goal is definitely not to tell women you have to go get some romance in your life to be fulfilled.  But the fact is, I have a husband who has stuck with me through thick and thin for more than 25 years.  We have survived some hard fought battles in our day and have yet to kill each other.   At this point in our lives, we deserve all the sweetness and goodness that comes from having a long term relationship like we do.

If I am here, if he is here, why not put in the effort to make each other feel special?  I am choosing to intentionally seek a romantic relationship with my partner.

When I think about it though, I am not sure I even know what romance truly means to me.

According to Google, romance, as a noun,  is “a feeling of excitement and mystery associated with love”, as a verb, “to court; woo.”  After 25 years of marriage, could I possibly still feel any mystery?  Lord only knows the last time my husband tried to court or woo me!

Merriam Webster defines romance as, “a medieval tale based on legend, chivalric love and adventure, or the supernatural”!  What?!

I am going to ditch the definitions above if you don’t mind.  I prefer Urban Dictionary’s interpretation;

 True romance is doing something special or unexpected for someone you love, even      though you don’t have to. Romance isn’t a greeting card, it isn’t Valentine’s Day, it isn’t a box of chocolates, and it certainly isn’t a dozen roses (unless you like that sort of thing). Real romance is not what modern society has been taught to think it is. Real romance isn’t manufactured. It is completely individual. Romance is for showing the person you love that you’re thinking about them. It shouldn’t feel forced. There are no limits to romance; it can be shown by a handwritten note, by going for a walk, or even by making someone a sandwich. Romance is something simple and sweet that reminds your partner why they fell in love with you in the first place.

A 20 something newlywed I recently spoke with didn’t really think romance was a part of her life at this point in time, saying “We are kind of boring. Our favorite thing to do is go for walks together, looking at houses and dreaming.”

She didn’t necessarily associate these things with romance…certainly no medieval tale of chivalric love in walking around the block!

She wasn’t attributing romantic value to the act of dreaming together.  Looking forward to a shared future and daydreaming about it…its so full of hope, faith and commitment and truly romantic in the scheme of things.

At the opposite end of the spectrum, a 60 something friend had this to say, with no hesitation; “If there isn’t great sex involved, I have no need for a man at all.”  A totally different life experience and view of what romance is for sure!

What is apparent to me in having these ongoing conversations is that everyone has a different idea of what romance is to them.  As my preferred definition says, its completely individual.  I hope that by spending the next 31 days with me you can take some of the thoughts or suggestions you find here and make them your own, infusing your own personality and creativity so that you and your loved one can build on the romance in your lives!

Your first task then, think about what romance is to you and your partner specifically.  Talk about it…share what you think is and isn’t romantic.  Are there things you guys are doing well right now?  Things you could improve on?  Whatever you do, start the conversation.  No more making assumptions and being frustrated.

If you don’t think you have a partner that would be particularly receptive to this conversation, what are the things that are important to them?  Sometimes we just need to take baby steps to identify what kindness and sweetness would look like in our relationship.  These are the first steps of your intentional journey towards a more romance filled life!

Please leave me a comment and let me know your thoughts!  You can read about recent gestures my husband and I have made to one another here and here.  Thanks for stopping by!

Romance – The Dress

I was at a conference recently and one morning, from the 5th floor I spotted a woman down below in the lobby in an awesome dress that caught my eye.  Black and white geometrical pattern, short black sweater over the top…I loved it!

pink bubbles

Once I was downstairs, getting some coffee, awaiting my next session to begin, who do I run into, but the woman in the cute dress!  I compliment her, her shoes are super cute too.  Unbeknownst to me, she is the speaker in my next session.

As I watched her for the next hour doing her thing, I began to think, I could totally rock that dress!

Now for many of you, this may not seem like any big earth shattering thought, but for me it was.  You see, I have spent the last nine years working in warehouses, my last experience being with Amazon.  Jeans, t-shirt, hair clip and off I’d go!  I had professional business attire, but did not incorporate dresses into my wardrobe.  We didn’t go out a lot on the weekends with the schedule I had, so it never really made sense for me to get a dress.  I also felt too big to wear what I considered dainty clothes.  I simply have not worn a dress in years!  My husband and I were trying to figure out recently the last time I wore one…sometime near 2003!

I was so inspired by the thought that I could actually wear this dress, however, that I Googled the darn thing on the break and found it online at Nordstroms.  I ordered it immediately!  It makes me laugh thinking about it.  I was almost embarrassed at ordering it.  I was really embarrassed when it arrived…I snuck it off to my closet right away where I could hide it until I had a chance to try it on when no one else was around!  It fits perfectly by the way!

Why after all this time would I feel so compelled to order this dress?   I spoke in a previous post about things my husband has done for me, especially in my jeans and t-shirt days, that I considered sweet and thoughtful, romantic if you will.

Well, that man has always loved me in a dress, he reminds me of this regularly; each time, of course, I roll my eyes and scoff at the suggestion.

Ordering this dress is my romantic gesture to him.  I may be out of my comfort zone, but he will love it…he will appreciate the thought.  I might find I actually might like wearing it!

He is gone this week on a fishing trip but we have date night planned when he comes back.  Will see if I am brave enough to bust out the dress!

Rising Strong

In the two years since I was first introduced to Brene´ Brown in a Ted Talk,  I have read three of her books, Daring Greatly, The Gifts of Imperfection and now Rising Strong, all of which have helped me tremendously in my turnaround process.

Rise Strong Everyday
Photo Credit: Rebecca Milam Photography

The idea of acknowledging the role of vulnerability and shame in your life, so that one can venture forth, daring bravely is pretty life changing stuff.  After reading her first books, I set forth on my path to live a wholehearted life, daring bravely and then what happened?  Life…day to day messiness…less than perfect decision making…and sometimes even full on face down failure.

On the cover of her latest book, Rising Strong, it reads, “If we are brave enough, often enough, we will fall.  This book is about what it takes to get back up.”

Even though I know in my heart leaving my job was the best thing for me, there are feelings of failure associated with it; if I had just tried harder I could have made it work, thoughts like that gnaw at me.  Someone I worked with, as we were commiserating about the situation said, “I would quit too, but I don’t like giving up”.  Jeez louise…is that what I did?  I wallowed for a bit in my failure story.  Nevermind the fact our lives are at totally different stages and what makes sense for her, doesn’t make sense for me…failure, guilt, fear creeped into my bones.

In Rising Strong, Brene Brown acknowledges these stories we have created in our minds and challenges us to reckon with them, to rumble with them, in order to come out the other side so that we can dare bravely once again.

She gives us this exercise to help us work through our stories once we have written them down:

  1. What more do I need to learn and understand about the situation? What do I know objectively?  What assumptions am I making?
  2. What more do I need to learn an understand about the other people in the story?  What additional information do I need?  What questions or clarifications might help?
  3. What more do I need to learn and understand about myself?  What’s underneath my response?  What am I really feeling?  What part did I play?

She says, “The irony is that we attempt to disown our difficult stories to appear more whole or more acceptable, but our wholeness – even our wholeheartedness – actually depends on the integration of all our experiences, including the falls.”

I for one want to own my story, regardless of how scary I have made it, and dare bravely again!  Here’s to you rising strong as well!

What is this blog about anyway?

Writing, romance, travel, connection, gardening, farming, cooking, and why?

The focus of this blog is on the major turnaround I had in my life earlier this year, the process of taking a bad situation and making it good again. I worked a crazy amount of hours, slept 6 hours a day on a good day and never saw my family.  There were so many times I said, “if only I had the time, I would be out there doing  _____.”  My blog is about the discovery of those lost things.

So first up this week – Romance.

The funny thing is, asking people about romance and what it means to them, I had no idea this could turn out to be a damn near hostile topic!  I was very taken aback by the responses.  I asked for feedback from a broad range of women in their 20’s, 30’s, 40’s, 50’s and 60’s.

I know because of my schedule earlier this year, romance had to be the first to go.  My husband had essentially become my pit crew, slapping me back together and pushing me back out there each day.  That was all the romance I could hope for during that time.  I am fortunate in that he did a number of things for me at the height of the craziness that I consider romantic.  For example, he put those old fashioned looking string lights in my garden.  It makes the place magic to me at night.  I would like to say my husband is so up on this whole romance thing, that he totally knew what he was doing with that, but no…truth be told, he had no clue. But he knows me, loves me and wanted to create something special just for me…that right there is the essence of romance to me.  Doesn’t get any better than that.

Garden 2015 - lights

So back to my unscientific survey; the 20 somethings I spoke with weren’t exactly sure it existed, especially in this social media driven world they have been raised in.  They are still in the process of defining it for themselves.

The 30 year olds are a different story!  Based on my small sample, those 30 year olds got it going on!  The heat and passion in their world is palpable.

Here is what Miss Kennytta, age 33, from Atlanta, Ga had to say;  “For me romance is a frame of mind. Anyone can be romantic but to fully experience romance I think that you have to be it in every sense of the word.  I have felt romance by a single touch, embrace, stare. Romance can be shared by two people who don’t love one another and never will, or by two people that love each other deeply.  Romance is fluid and ever changing, someone can see romance in one thing and the next won’t.  It’s an expression of love.  It doesn’t have to be love or as I said shared by lovers or even people who love each other.  It can just be a shared experience between two people.   With that being said..ahhhhhh…I loooove romance!”

See what I mean…sister’s feeling it!  I love that.

Here’s another one; Shawnta also 33, from Greensboro, NC,  “Romance can be displayed in different ways. For me it can be a romantic moment, day, trip, act or something he may say… I feel like it’s something that you have to work on, on a regular basis because you can get content and complacent with someone and not even think about it and up to a point where the romance is gone. I do all of the above and also leave little notes for him or even a text here and there. You can be romantic in so many ways. Just take the time to show or display how you feel about the person you are with.”

Now, I am ready and willing for you all to prove me wrong on this next statement…many of the 40’s and above ladies that I spoke with were all at various levels of resignation about it being a part of their lives anymore.  There were some beacons of hope out there for sure, but overall, resignation.

Does it still have an important place in our lives once we hit 40?  Does it always wane at some point?  Is it possible those ladies with heavy resignation in their voices became complacent as Shawnta mentioned above?  Maybe, but in all honesty, every situation and circumstance is different.  Each life takes many different twists and turns.  Last thing we need to do is compare our level of romance to another person’s.  We do, however need to do two things: (1) understand what it really is to us as individuals.  There is no right or wrong and this is as individual as we are, and (2) nurture and feed it in order for it to be healthy.

I will share other stories and opinions that I received in the coming weeks.  They are very entertaining!  In the meantime, I would love to hear your input on romance and what it means to you.

Before I Die…

Last year I heard a great Ted talk by Candy Chang about her Before I Die project.  I loved her premise of wanting to create thought provoking art that makes us want to rethink how we go out into the world each day.IMG_0747

I was very excited when I was randomly driving through Louisville, Ky and spotted this wall.  I made the people I was with stop immediately and add some thoughts to the wall.  When you stand there, it can be overwhelming all the possibilities you could put up there.  You can be serious, silly, naughty, reflective.  This one didn’t have too much on it.  If you look closely someone wrote skinny dip…seriously?!  Thats what you’re waiting to do?!  Knock that out sister, there is so much more out there to embark on!  The one thing I found in putting it on that wall, I now am intentionally committed to making that thing happen in my life.  I wrote it down, put it out in the universe.  Intentional.  For me, before I die, I want my children to know the depth of my love for them.

Have you ever seen or written on one of these walls?  Would love to see your picture!