Friday, August 17, 2018
Navigating friendships at age 50 is much different than it was at 20. I no longer have the parent connection, if you know what I mean--the lacrosse moms, the swim team moms, all of that revolved around the kids. Once the kids graduated POOF they were gone.
It's fascinating to me how fragile friendships are. I once had friends I thought would last a lifetime, but they have mostly disappeared as well. All of that "we'll grow old together in rocking chair" talk was just that--TALK. Once I (a) lost my husband (b) dared to grieve about that loss (c) didn't have as much money as I used to have, especially being a single mom and needing to rebuild a career (d) started vocalizing my true beliefs about things and standing up for myself (e) became ill (f) a combination of all of the above--people disappeared on me. That was the great unraveling. Fine. I survived and I grew stronger from being alone.
Now that I am putting myself out there at 50 in a new city, it's strange but doable. I have fun. I meet fascinating people from all over the world. My mind is opening to different types of friendships I would never have been exposed to if I hadn't left my comfort zone. I'm in a constant state of discovery, which I find stimulating.
It hasn't all been rosy, though. I've met a few crazies--one guy told me he slept with a woman and watched her transform into an alien when she climaxed, for example. That same guy in the same conversation also told me that the women in his apartment building were CIA and wanted to burn him alive in the fire pit located in the courtyard of his building. Then I met a woman who would make up stories about ME in front of ME and when I would correct her she would give me "the look" that scared the crap out of ME. Oh, and let's not forget Silvia...the woman who seemed totally cool and normal until she invited me over one afternoon for wine and cheese only to strip naked in front of me to show me her plastic surgery scars (there's more craziness here but she could be her own post). Then I met a guy who murdered someone--as in actually bashed the woman's head in and served time in a mental facility for it. And I can't leave out the neighbors who park their shitty vehicles and trailers in front of my driveway so I cannot leave my house and keep their dogs outside 24/7 barking because they are entitled assholes. Yes, it's been an eventful year.
Have I given up? No.
I love torturing myself.
No, that's not it. I am the eternal optimist.
I went to a meet up earlier for happy hour with a meet up group where I had a good time with some new people who are all here starting over themselves. We laughed a lot, exchanged numbers, made plans for the weekend, friended each other on Facebook.
In my 20s, friends were easy. We worked together or went to school together. We'd go to happy hours and pitch in money for beer and wings. All was good. Simple.
Now, it's complicated because we all have baggage. We've all been hurt. We've all had loves and broken hearts. We've been betrayed. We've had successes as well as failures. Our scars are our stories. Introductions are guarded as we size each other up a bit to determine if he or she will fit into our lifestyle. At this age, we know what we want and what we don't want and are rarely open to compromise those things.
I don't tolerate one-uppers or the blatantly insane (mentioned above) or clingers or fakers. It is easier at this age to say that with confidence because I have earned my independence. I have earned the right to say "no, you are too toxic to be in my life" or "no, you don't respect my boundaries and I can't have anyone around me who doesn't" etcetera. Age alone creates a don't-fuck-with-me attitude. I've been around the block. I don't need anyone--I am choosing those I allow into my life.
Another thing I have discovered is that there are a lot of people exactly like me out there in the world who are starting over at my age and who have bravely sold all of their stuff to move to a new city. It seems rather common! We're all in the same boat, all of us dipping our toes into the social pool and risking meeting a stranger who might possibly become our best friend. Some of us admit to having social anxiety but putting ourselves out there anyway. Most of us prefer our own company because it's so much easier.
It may be more challenging to meet people at 50 than 20, but that only means that I've developed higher standards and am confident enough to choose being alone rather than being unhappy. It's all ok.
If you're alone and frustrated, join a class of some kind, download the MeetUp app on your phone, put yourself out there even when you would rather stay home in your PJs. Why? Because life is short and there are so many others exactly like you who want friendship, too.
I used to think I was abnormal. Starting over like I have has reassured me that there are others exactly like me who want the same things, who have endured similar things, who have the same adventurous spirit, who have the same interests. It takes more effort to connect with them, but they're out there.
Yes, friendships may be fragile, but navigating the journey has made me stronger. Not only that, but it has made me more courageous in my pursuit of the life I choose to define on my own terms. That's liberating.
Go make a new friend this week! Try something out of your comfort zone. Join a new group and actually interact with people. Listen to them. Make eye contact. And I would add...trust your instincts. (All of those crazy people I met? My intuition cautioned me away, but I was still in that 'be polite' phase. I have now outgrown that. TRUST YOURSELF!) Have fun!
Wednesday, August 15, 2018
Shining this spotlight on this funny, smart, suspenseful, and sexy as hell new release by Dakota Skye--did I use enough adjectives? You MUST read this book. It is action-packed with passion and a mystery to keep you guessing--oh, and did I mention there are dogs? It is a must read! Go and get it today! First, read the blurb and excerpt below.
From the back cover
Sweet temptations, sinful secrets, and scintillating seductions—psychic Lisa Vanderveen sees it all and wants to do whatever it takes to change Fate. But Fate is determined to toy with her by bringing the man of her visions directly to her door.
Blake Santore does not believe in psychics, let alone an animal communicator, however, he will do anything to help his best friend, a German Shepherd named Greg. He is unprepared for the shocking tale she weaves of a deception so unforgiveable it rocks his already fragile world.
Together they are bonded by undeniable chemistry and a deep need to uncover the truth. Their quest leads them on a dangerous and erotic journey. Secrets are revealed and desire clouds rational thought. Will the truth set them free or destroy their lives? Will love triumph over the need for revenge?
She waited for him under the awning, the keys to her Mini dangling from her fingertips. He snagged them before grabbing the back of her head and grinding his mouth against hers.
Wanting more than anything to make her laugh again, he dragged her into the rain without releasing her mouth. He crushed her body to his and thrust his tongue against hers until she curled her hands around his neck. Rain pelted his head and soaked through his shirt, but he didn't care.
"Blake," she gasped against his lips.
He sucked on her bottom lip and stared into her eyes. "What?"
"We're soaking wet."
"So?" He moved his hands over her back before molding them to her ass, uncaring that they were blocking the entrance to the restaurant or that people darted by them on the sidewalk trying to get out of the rain.
She laughed, her breath warming his skin. "Are you going to fuck me right here against the side of the building?"
"I'm thinking about it." He gave her ass a final squeeze before stepping away and snagging her hand. Hegotten the response hewanted. Laughing, he pulled her toward her .
They both collapsed inside the car, completely soaked to the skin, and laughed at their predicament.
"We're acting like children," she said with a smile as she adjusted the heat.
"Children don't do what we do." He winked before focusing on driving them out of the city.
Cobblestone roads rushed with water, the storm turning streets to streams. With the swooshing of the windshield wipers and the sound of their breathing over the quiet music from the radio, the confines of the car created an erotic setting where their body heat steamed the inside of the windows.
At a stoplight, he glanced toward her and noticed her nipples standing erect against the thin fabric of the dress. Her mascara had run a little, creating a shadow beneath her eyes and her lips were swollen from his rough kiss in the street. Droplets of water clung to her bare knees and he wanted nothing more than to lick them from her skin.
Abruptly, he pulled over into an alley and shoved the car into park. Without waiting for her to speak, he jumped out of the car and raced around to her side. He yanked the passenger door open and pulled her out.
"What the hell, Blake?"
"I can't wait one more minute to sink myself inside you." He pushed her up against a brick wall and peeled her dress up and over her head before she could react.
She automatically covered her bare breasts and looked up and down the alley while licking rain off of her lips. "We could get arrested! We were being followed."
"Do you see anyone following us? I don't." He nipped her neck with his teeth before ripping her lacy panties from her body.
"Saying my name like that only makes me hornier." He worked his zipper down before wiggling free of his jeans and underwear, needing to free his throbbing erection.
Before she could say one more word, he grabbed her ass, lifted her up, pressed her hard against the wall, ground his mouth against hers and thrust deep inside her warmth. He loved the wildness of the moment, hadn't realized until hemet her how desperately hecraved losing control and forgetting the world. Now that hebeen unleashed, however, he doubted heever be able to rein himself back in.
He slid his mouth down her neck and squeezed her breast with his left hand. He didn't care if they were caught—hell, the idea actually turned him on even more. Water pooled around their ankles and dripped between their bodies. A clap of thunder echoed through the narrow alley.
Her fingers pulled on his hair, her legs tightened around his hips, her high-heeled shoes ground into the back of his thighs, her cunt convulsed around his dick in orgasm.
He bit her shoulder before returning his attention to that delectable mouth of hers. God, he could survive the taste of her alone. He came with a final thrust deep inside of her. The thunder drowned out his own shout of ecstasy.
She laughed against his mouth and smoothed her hands over the side of his face. "You surprise me."
He pulled free of her and kissed his way down her neck, between her breasts, over her abdomen, and down her legs before picking up the discarded dress and looking up at her.
"You are so damn beautiful," he said.
She grabbed the useless dress and jumped into the front seat naked. "I'm going to get and die. Can we go home now?"
He pulled up his jeans and adjusted himself as he walked back to the driver's side. Satiated, he settled behind the wheel and took a minute to observe the naked and wet woman next to him. When they made eye contact, they both burst out laughing.
"You know those people in New York you asked about?" he asked as he leaned in for another kiss. "They would all be shocked and scandalized if they knew what we just did."
"Most people would be, I think. "Now let's get home. I'm naked and freezing."
He needed no more encouragement. He also wanted to get home, see his dog, unpack the new clothes he bought, and curl into a warm bed next to this woman who brought out a side of him hed never known existed.
"For the record, I've known more lawyers than a normal person should ever know," he said as he downshifted the car into overdrive. "I'm happy you're a baker slash witch."
"You cannot deny it."
"I'm happy you came to Santa Fe."
Monday, August 6, 2018
During this starting over phase of my life over the past year, I've experimented with a lot of self-improvement classes, webinars, books...anything and everything. I have gravitated toward some and been repelled by others. After all of this time, a revelation hit me this weekend--I'm okay as I am.
Yes, I have issues in my life that are still unsettled, but at my core I am genuinely happy. I don't want to go into a room and talk about my sadness anymore. I don't want to analyze my traumas--that's what I do in my writing and it suits me better.
On Saturday, I went to a class that sounded fun or at least interesting. It was a class on stepping into my power, which is a theme of mine that I've been focused on for awhile. But it went all wonky almost from the beginning. I am a very animated person when I'm in my zone. I talk with my hands and I am passionate about my words when I'm feeling the vibe. One of my triggers that always makes me feel "less than" is someone telling me to calm down when I am in such a flow. That happened in this empowerment class from the instructor. I was answering a question and was confident in my response so therefore was animated--hands going, words flowing--and she says to me, "take a breath...calm down." This is what my mother does to me and it always puts me in the defensive. I wasn't upset. I was happy...until that moment. The trigger had been pulled and I found myself gaping at her with confusion. Take a breath? Calm down? This was supposed to be a class about being confident and owning one's power, yet I was being told to be small. This has happened to me all of my life.
Later, on my way home, I realized that I am done. I am happy. I have come so far in a year's time with rebuilding my confidence and feeling comfortable expressing myself. I don't need classes on how to do it--I could probably teach a few with all the studying and the work I have done to get to this point.
Believe me, I've done some dumpster diving into the depths of my soul and realized that I've carried shame in my heart for most of my life. I've been told for years that I am too much this or too little that and the shame for being "wrong" somehow embedded itself into my very being. This shame led me into abusive relationships with men and toxic friendships. It led me to compromise when I knew in my gut I should stand my ground. It kept me silent when I was abused because, after all, it had to be my fault somehow. It kept me hiding my writing for years because--gasp--I might embarrass a relative. Shame crippled me for most of my life. No more. All this work I have done has enlightened me to the realization that I have nothing to be ashamed for--not one thing.
In some ways, I think shame also pushed me to taking classes like the one I did on Saturday. There was this part of me that thought, "no, you don't have this mastered yet, you need to go to another workshop and be told by yet another person that you are enough. Don't be cocky and think you have this figured out." While sitting there, though, I realized I do have it figured out. I trust myself now. I am comfortable with myself now. I am genuinely happy and at ease no matter what happens. I speak up for myself now where I wouldn't have a year ago...and definitely wouldn't have two years ago.
Life beat me down, but it also lifted me up. Without my journey, I would not be half the person I am now. I like that I am deep. I have enjoyed the intense study inward. I have sobbed on the floor. I have been on the edge where I struggled with, "what's the point of living?" I have been cloaked with darkness. I am grateful for all of it because now here I sit in my loft writing this with a smile on my face and my dogs at my feet. I have no shame for where I've been--and I never needed to carry that burden.
I was abused many times--why did I carry the shame? By carrying it, I continued to give the abusers power over me and I am no longer willing to do that.
Abuse comes in many different forms from the physical and the verbal, yes, but gossip and betrayal are also abuses. Do you know how many times I carried shame for a friend being rude to me or lying about me or leaving me? Instead of putting blame in the correct box, I carried it all. No wonder I gained weight, slumped my shoulders, stayed away from people, stopped speaking up for myself--all that shame was heavy.
Twenty-five years ago today an ex-boyfriend of mine tried to murder me. Today is the anniversary of my escape from his assault. I used to be ashamed of it--me, the victim, carried the shame. All the "if I would have only's." It didn't help that my family was also ashamed about it and wouldn't allow me to discuss it. Ever. Shame, shame, shame.
So much shame.
Then I was pregnant when I got married--more shame heaped on me by peers and family. Oh, and then the ultimate shaming--my husband's suicide. Shame, shame, shame. Add financial struggle of a single parent onto it--more shame. God, I could hardly breathe!
I'm free of it now. That's what I realized when I drove home from that class Saturday. I don't need to be shooshed. I don't need to justify being confident. I don't need to be anything less than who I am. I don't need to be told that I'm this way or that way because I know who I am. For anyone reading this, maybe you won't understand and that's fine. But for years I didn't know who I was anymore. I had strayed so far off course. I had beaten myself up so much and blamed myself for everything imaginable--especially other people's bad behavior. I viewed the world through a lens of shame.
I can't pinpoint the exact moment the shame lifted. I credit all the work I've done this past year--and none of it has been easy. I do know that driving home on Saturday solidified the fact that it's gone, though. How? Because I laughed and sang on the drive. The heaviness had lifted. I felt light and happy.
I am forever a work-in-progress, but I believe the work will be easier without shame standing in my way at every turn and whispering doubt in my ear. Fuck that.
Fuck you, Shame! I won't hide behind you anymore. I am free of you.
As for the twenty-five year anniversary of the day I looked evil in the eye as a man strangled me while bashing my head into the pavement--I celebrate being alive. I celebrate my escape--which was a miracle considering how near death I was, but I did it--I got away on my own two bloody feet. No one rescued me--I rescued myself. Fuck shame for preventing me from acknowledging that. Fuck anyone who ever stopped me from talking about it. Fuck anyone who thinks I shouldn't be writing about it now.
I celebrate all the life that happened in the past twenty-five years: my children that were born, the man I loved and married, the laughter I shared with friends, the wine I consumed, the places I traveled, the tears I've cried, the meteors I've witnessed, the pain I've felt, the bliss I've experienced. I own it all! Yay, me, for having scars both physical and mental! Yay, me, for having stories to tell! Yay, me for still being here.
I lived. I survived. No more shame. I reject it. I put a wall around me to shield me from anyone who wants to toss that shit at me again. No more. I am free. It's okay to be happy. It's okay to forgive myself for things both imagined and real and to let it all go.
And for the little girl me who first started feeling ashamed for being creative and weird and shy and tried so hard to fit in by being someone she wasn't...you're free now, too.