31 Days of Romance – Day 4

In order to make any new goal come to fruition, you must take action, you can’t simply sit back and wait for it.  Romance is no different, you have to make a plan and work it.

Romance Day 4

There have been many times in my life where hope and a prayer was the best I had in me….I couldn’t have formulated an actual plan to save my life.  Those cycles in life happen to everyone and we do the best we can to get through them.  I am thankful we have made it together long enough to come out the other side of many of those cycles and that we still care enough to actually come up with any kind of plan at all.

So, the plan – you can do this on your own or along with your partner.  There have been times in my married life where I wasn’t necessarily as nice as I could be, hard to imagine, I know. But the realities of life took their toll at certain points in our marriage.  Easy to pull back from romantic gestures and even simple kindnesses.  Sometimes it was me, sometimes him, sometimes both of us stubbornly refusing to give anything, because truth be told, we didn’t have any thing to give.

I am in a place now where I am 100% willing to own my part in the situation if there is lack.  I don’t mind stepping it up and taking that responsibility.  My experience has been, anytime I have put a focus on more romantic gestures, he always notices and reciprocates.  Please note, I am making an assumption that your partner is not a total jerk.  There is no simple kindness ever going to cure a total jerk of his jerkiness.  It goes back to knowing your partner.  If its on you, step up and do your part.  If you think they would be receptive to making a plan with you towards this common goal, do it together.

Here is an example of why planning is so critical to get the ball rolling.  When I was in the midst for my craziest work schedule, I had Friday nights off.  My kids were always engaged heavily in extracurricular school activities and seldom around on Fridays.  My husband would let me sleep as long as I wanted, after working all night.  Then as soon as I was up, we would head out for Date Day!  It was official, written in stone, rain or shine.  People were always surprised at our commitment and consistency to it.  We would turn other invites down for date day, we protected it.

Then a funny thing happened when I quit my crazy job, freeing up my time…we could make date day, any day, but did we?!  No!  It is so easy to let one day run into the next knocking out the chores of life and before you know it months have passed.  We are just now getting back to the official schedule.

So you need a plan.  Don’t go crazy though.  No need to fill it with tons of things.  Just get started with something you will stick to.  Put at least one or two things on your calendar and do them.

To make the best of this new plan, make sure you talk about it in a way that builds anticipation in your upcoming time together.  When its over, talk about it the next day.  How’d it go?  Are you both desperately out of practice or did you actually have a great time?  What can be done to make the next two things you put into the plan better than the first?

I also can’t stress enough, the benefits of letting your kids in on your schedule.  While the kids may be somewhat disgusted at the thought of mom and dad having any kind of romantic adventures together, it is an awesome example to set for them.  It will imprint on their minds in a positive way.

So what’s your plan?

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!

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.

Finding Freedom in the Doing

We all have cycles in life where things are suckier than we would like them to be.  During these times it is easy to wax poetic about all the things we would do if only our lives weren’t so sucky right now; if we had time, the money, a better job, if we lost 20 pounds…insert your favorite go to crutch here.  The challenge though, when we actually get that time, money, job, etc is whether or not we will actually do those things we professed to want to do.  Were circumstances truly preventing us from the opportunity or were we just full of shit in terms of what we really want and how we want to present ourselves to the world?  Follow me here…it’s much easier and more socially acceptable to say, “Of course I would exercise and eat right if I didn’t have this job right now, who wouldn’t”, than to say, “I would really love to spend days reading on my couch and I have an insatiable affinity for carne asada burritos!”

A few of the things I wished for over the last year, if I only had the chance…

  • Sleep a full 8 hours during normal night time hours
  • Make delicious and healthy food for my family
  • Find fun for me exercise
  • Be social again.  Connect with new friends, reconnect with old

So, how have I done now that I have the chance?   Sleep…nailed it!  Love it…so happy to wake up these days.

Delicious and healthy food…well yes…but this goal collides with my other farming/gardening goals.  Turns out eight squash plants are too much for a family of seven to eat everyday, or should I say, too much for some of them to want to eat everyday!  We have had it roasted, sauteed, baked in bread, spiraled into noodles.  Squash level is a little intense around here right now.  Yep…this is today’s haul and the season isn’t even on yet.

photo

Fun for me exercise..well I have ideas about what this could be.  I have always wanted to, or at least said I wanted to, learn to golf.  Bob loves it, it is something we can do together.  I have crushed his dreams of me ever being his dawn patrolling surf buddy, but this is something that could still happen.  Keep in mind though, this is the man that taught me to snow ski, skiing backwards the whole time down blue runs, over jumps on one of the most extreme mountains in Colorado.  Let’s just say, he will not be teaching me to golf, lessons will be required.

Being social again, it’s a work in progress but going well, at the right speed for me.

This week brought two of my want to do things together in one; fun exercise and socializing.  I was invited to take golf lessons with some ladies from my neighborhood.  Sounds awesome, right?  If you have not had the opportunity to do something for a very long time, it can be intimidating to do it again, even if it is really what you want to do.  My socializing muscles are clearly as weak as some of my physical muscles, at least in my mind.  On the outside I am charming as hell, its the angst inside that can rule my world if I allow it.  Anxiety level grew as the date got closer…didn’t even look up directions for where I was going until the morning of, in the event I blew it off and it wouldn’t matter anyway.  I don’t really know these women, just met one of them one time, they certainly wouldn’t miss me.  But I didn’t blow it off…I got myself into the car and down the road.  In spite of spilling coffee down the front of my shirt as I was getting out of the car and spending what felt like an entire hour getting my left arm up and over my boobs, I had a great time and learned a few new skills. So very glad I went and looking forward to next week.

Couple of things I realized this week:

  • My want to do list is an evolving work in progress
  • I have to do my best keep it clear of things I think the world expects of me while at the same time full of things I would truly like to do.
  • I need to get over the fear or get it off my list.  I can’t let fear allow me to feel like a failure of my own damn list, that is ridiculous.
  • Overcoming the fear will give me the confidence to add new things more easily to the list.

I am definitely finding freedom in the doing.  How is your list looking?

My husband

photo
Back in 2006 we made a decision for my husband to stay home with the kids.  It just made good sense after he had suffered an injury on the job.  It gave him the opportunity to recover and make up for some lost time with the kids.  As I worked more hours and took on more responsibility in my jobs, he also took on more at home.  I think this past year just about put him over the edge.  My working 16 hour days, six days a week resulted in many firsts for him – shopping for and preparing Thanksgiving and Christmas dinner for our family and friends, shopping and wrapping all Christmas and birthday gifts.  We are inundated with December and January birthdays at our house, so no small feat on his part getting this all done on his own.  But he did every bit of it without complaining.

His thought was, if I was working that many hours, he was going to work that many hours at home.  The sheer amount of work he has done around our house; building, fixing, maintaining things is unbelievable.  Where we live lots of people have someone to do those things for them…I have him…he’s my guy, whether it be gardening, dry wall, house painting, car maintenance, cooking, cleaning.  He would spend all this time making my house an awesome place for me to be, when I was awake and not working, all the while creating a nightmare job for him that he couldn’t clock out of and leave at the end of the day.  The more he made it right for me, the more of a prison for him it became.

So…if I am taking this year off to sort things out, he is taking this year off as well.  The conversations we have had with me trying to convince him to take a break, go ride his bike, or go surf have been infuriating…work and obligation is so ingrained in him!  We are going to have to take baby steps to help us through our transition.  Big step yesterday though.  He packed up our small four wheel drive truck to go to Mammoth, camping and fly fishing his way across the valley on his own-no agenda, no one to have to set camp up for except for himself, no tour guide duties.  Just a man happy to get a chance to finally use all those flies he has been tying and hoarding.

If I hadn’t taken this time, he never would have either.  The two of us would have continued on, miserable in what we believed to be our obligations.  Our last kid leaves the house in three years…if we continued down this path, what frame of mind would we be in by then?  We would have checked all the boxes but would have drained ourselves of everything that makes life real.

Leaving his responsibility behind and following his heart, even just for a week, is an important step for him.  Fortunately/Unfortunately our family motto has always been “Get Shit Done”, GSD for short.  It’s what we do as a family.  But now it’s time to get the right shit done…(even though GTRSD isn’t near as catchy). Whether he gets it yet or not, that is precisely what he is doing this week.  Can’t wait to hear about his week!

My Last Day and Some Semblance of a Plan

04/12/2015

Last day at work, ready to get it over with.  Can’t wait to release it.  I need to let this go, let this year go.  I am anxious to do a number of things truly to right my compass.  I feel as though my compass has been broken for a time.  Its time to get it back on track.  Here is my list of things I am going to do this week/month, in no particular order:

  • Sign up for RE classes
  • Arrange Hawaii trip
  • Sign up for yoga classes
  • Get help setting up a blog
  • Arrange a sister’s weekend with Shelley and Cheryl
  • Go back to church
  • Write everyday
  • Reach out to friends, develop new ones
  • Honor my family
  • Study meditation and mindfulness
  • Take care of myself physically and mentally
  • Plan things to do this summer with Bob and the girls

Now, six weeks later, I look back on this list to gauge where I am.  Let’s just say, in the past I haven’t been well known for completing my to-do lists.  In all fairness, over the past year I haven’t had time to even make a list, let alone check things off of it. But I am very proud to say, I have done every one of the items on this list.  I am going to sit back and revel in that a bit ~  Good job me!

In an effort to be mindful and not just busy, I want to consider how this feels.

  • I can sleep through the night
  • I am happy to wake up (for the first time in a year)
  • I have energy and purpose
  • I don’t know what is going to happen next but I am not scared, I am hopeful.  I have taken as much control as I have in me and I graciously give the rest to God.

The day I gave notice…

Just wanted to give you a little insight into where my mind was the day I gave notice…

04/01

Last straw conversation with my boss – check!

Gave notice – check!

Made a plan – oops!

The 12th will be my last day.  I cannot wait.  I can’t pretend anymore I haven’t hated walking in that building every day for a year.  I haven’t been able to get more than about five hours of sleep a night since I gave my notice.  I wake up playing all the conversations with my boss in my head; what I said, what I should have said.  Bottom line is, he was a lunatic and this company is not a good fit for me and my family.

For the first time in my life I have a little money in the bank and can make a decision to cut ties, shake it off and start again.  Start again, what does that even mean?  To be honest, I stumbled into logistics in the first place, definitely without meaning to make a career of it.  But eight years later, here I am.  I have an odd back ground, not sure I want to stay in this field.  What can you even start over and do at my age?  What would you do if you had a choice?

I always wanted to sell real estate.  I even went so far as to get my license in Texas and sold a house.  Unfortunately I have never had the time or money to build up a real business.  That is actually a choice I could make now.  That and write.

I always like to think these things happen for a reason.  I can guarantee you working the schedule I was working, I could not have maintained that and actually ever have a chance of being the person I am meant to be.  Maybe the experience was really bad for me so that I would venture out and really dig deep into what I need.  Maybe so…