The Truth and Freedom

14 months in a boot, sitting on a porch over looking a river = 60,000 words of life that now need to be sifted, sorted, and hopefully converted into something useful.

I learned a lot about myself, and my story during that recovery time.  I looked at my trigger points for my temper, my joy, and false shame. I gave myself permission to get mad about things I under-reacted to in the past, to feel what I feel, think what I think, and to realize some things weren’t worth the time of day and it was time to let them go.

I usually started my stories with a them in mind and it took a few pages to get to the me part of it. That’s pretty normal for me, really. I’m glad I did it. I know more about who pulls my trigger and why, and I get to take ownership of that back.

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Meme courtesy of Cowgirl Spirit on Facebook

I shared this meme today on Facebook and wow what a response. Several people wanted to correct this and say the truth will set others free, but it will piss them off — all eyes on everybody else.

We just love telling other people the truth about how we see them, don’t we? I hate to break it to you, but my truth about how I see you might not really be the actual facts of the situation. My truth is warped by perception and my past realities. So is yours.

I’ve learned something at the river, If I spot it, I got it. The need to point out other’s faults is becoming less and less these days. Not that I don’t notice them of course. Honestly, looking around and finding faults in others is like shooting fish in a barrel.

1. The overly controlling wife or husband. You know the type, they control the entire social circle, question your motives, know all of their spouse’s passwords and want immediate access to all social media on demand. Or they don’t let them use social media at all unless it’s a shared page. I know several folk, men and women alike who do this.

2. The woman who has a crush on my husband and tears up every time she’s around him. – I’m not going to lie that one alone makes me want to turn into woman #1. It also makes me remind myself that prison orange is not my color. He’s a grown man, he’s got this. He does not need me running constant interference or checking up to make sure he doesn’t talk to her. I don’t even know his passwords and after 25 years, I don’t need to know them. Honestly, if he’s going to chase after waterworks gal if I don’t stay on it, I don’t want him. And he’s not going to, so I’m not worried.

3. The friend who doesn’t have time to talk to her friends, but has all the time in the world to send plea letters from her non-profit-of-the-month making us all feel more like check books than friends.

4. The bitter alcoholic who blames the world for everything, but never themselves. The perpetual victim. “It’s not MY fault.” – or let’s be fair The Put Upon Alanon who super glues their wrist to their forehead and goes on and on about what all they put up with in the name of love.

5. The person who exaggerates their accomplishments ad nauseum in order to fit in or impress – hard not to roll my eyes when this happens. I know a few people who fall into this category.

6. The jealous over other people’s accomplishments gal – She’s not hard to spot, wears a martyrs hat and says “must be nice” an awful lot. Also likes to sigh heavily and roll her eyes.

Surely, I don’t do any of those things.

Smirk.

yeah right.

On my best day, maybe not. But not every day is my best day, you know?

It’s rather easy to feel good about myself when I compare my best attributes to the worst characteristics of others. A friend once told me that.

“Of course you feel good honey, you are comparing yourself to a low bottom drunk — kinda difficult not to come out on top compared to that now isn’t it? Now, let’s talk about you for a change.”

Talk about hurt feelings.

She was right — It’s easy to feel good about myself when I do that. I can be any one of those people I listed in a heartbeat if I want. Heck, I’ve been worse some days.

And so when something sets me off – like the water works gal, the controlling spouse of a friend, or another plea letter. I have the freedom to look at myself and decide what I’m going to do. I can tell waterworks to back off and then let it alone. I can do my best not to be that controlling spouse in my home and trust my husband, and as for plea letter I can ask to be removed from that list and look at my own lists of friends. While I may not send letters, I did have people on my FB list for the sole purpose of marketing to. I deleted them. Can’t very well get snarky with someone when I’m doing the same thing, you know?

They call that taking my own inventory – something I try to do on a daily basis. That doesn’t mean I can’t set boundaries in relationships. I do. I speak my truth when it impacts me directly — If it doesn’t impact me directly then it’s none of my business.

So just for today:

I can tell myself the truth

Clean up my side of the sidewalk

and be free. 

And it doesn’t have to piss me off like it used to. 

I’m a work in progress — a majestic creation designed by the hand of God. I’m just not finished yet and that is okay.

Wow, what a ride…

wow what a ride

There is a saying in my circles that drives me absolutely crazy some times.

“This Too Shall Pass.”

Honestly, when I’m in the middle of THIS, whatever it is, I’m not all that keen on seeing the temporary of my situation. All I can see is the now and the now stinketh much sometimes.

Take my right now for instance. I am 30 weeks into what started as a simple ankle replacement. I am still in part one of that. My tibia is still broken and we haven’t even gotten to the ankle part. People have commented about my positive attitude and I want to tell you, there are days where my prayers sound like King David’s “How long Oh Lord?”

Now I do know that my leg is going to heal and that life will pick up again and that like the saying goes this will pass. I know this because 10 years ago, it was my heart that was broken instead of my leg.

10-years ago, I didn’t believe this would pass. I felt stuck in a never-ending cycle of hurt and disappointment.

While I was still depressed over my circumstances, I chose to trust God with a single step. Nothing major, just make my bed. Then it was get dressed. Then take a walk. Quit my job. And then the scariest of all – make a new friend. And another. And another.

Over time things changed. I started doing things that scared me to death for a moment and produced wonderful results. (I failed at a lot of things as well, but you know… I kept going anyway)

tbt2

So beloved – where ever you are, whatever season you are in, know that things do pass, life does change, and if you take one small step of faith and courage great things will happen.

Be Brave
Be Bold
Dare to Live

Happy 2013 Some Random Thoughts from little ole me.

When writing the story of your life,

don’t let anyone else hold the pen. – Harley Davidson

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It doesn’t matter how 2012 ended.

It does not matter if you kept last year’s resolutions or not.

You have the power to decide where to go next. You always have.

I usually end the year with an inventory of some kind. I list what went well, what did not go well, what I learned, what I still need to learn and then once finished, I declare the year complete. 2012 was a year of challenges and great growth for me. Instead of making resolutions, I followed the advice of several writer friends. I chose to live a great story (Donald Miller) and picked a word for the year to focus on. 2012 turned out to be one of the best years I’ve had in a while. I even chose to follow Ken Davis’s advice and live a year that is Fully Alive and what a difference that makes. Living a great story Fully Alive is not an easy road — you get skinned knees and bruised hearts along the way. It requires honesty with yourself and others. It’s hard work. Sometimes you say as many goodbyes as you do hellos and that is okay.

Some highlights from 2012

  • My youngest graduated high school and started college as well as a part-time job. — He has epilepsy and a great deal of my life and his childhood has revolved around taking care of him and being his advocate. Now I get to watch him spread his wings and I could not be more proud. (My oldest is in his 4th year of college with one more to go — my life is changing fast)
  • I’m in two movies as a paid extra, Cowgirls N Angels and So This is Christmas — I am at a loss of words trying to explain the emotional impact of seeing myself on the big screen had on me. The best I can come up with is “it rocked!” I want to do more of that.
  • I rode the Tulsa Tour De Cure for the first time and will definitely raise the challenge bar and do it again.
  • I started playing the banjo.
  • I emceed a local youth rock concert.
  • Attended the Christian Comedy Association Conference in Nashville and had a blast.
  • The political climate caused some attrition in my friendships. Sorry to see that happen, learning to let go.
  • Made new friends.
  • I said goodbye to the church I’ve attended for ten years and hello to a new one that has women’s ministries and bible studies, two things that are important to me. This was a hard choice, but one that needed to be made.
  • In 2013, I plan to ride more, participate in the Route 66 Marathon, return to Nashville for the CCA Conference. My word for the year is Resolve and I plan to continue writing and living a story that keeps me alive.

Random Thoughts:

  • It’s easier to tell the truth the first time than to have to remember a lie.
  • Hidden things have a way of coming back to bite you — deal with your closet before it deals with you. (Just trust me on this one.)
  • You can’t have everything you want.
  • Don’t take what isn’t yours.
  • Don’t do something permanently stupid just because you are temporarily upset. – Temper your temper.
  • Always strive to leave people and things better than you found them.
  • Own who you are.
  • Don’t blame others for your choices.
  • Try new things.
  • Fail as often as you need to before you succeed.
  • Gratitude is a choice.
  • Write your own story.
  • Find your catalyst and be the person worthy of love, trust, and respect that looks back at you in the mirror every day.
  • LIVE a life that is UNDAUNTED.

Thoughtful Thursdays: If you are cute and you know it, bat your eyes.

Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! 2 Corinthians 5:17

I’ll be honest, some days I feel more like my old self than I do my new. Some days the old me emerges out of nowhere and I wonder if I’ve grown any at all. Thankfully, feelings aren’t facts.

The old me was really really cute, and man did she know how to work it. I still do and I hate it. As much as I hate how good I am at cute, there was a time when I hated being called out on it even more. And yet, I have a mentor, and a multitude of friends who when seeing my “cute self” try to push her way around, call me out on it. A lot. I am learning to appreciate that even if it hurts. That’s what happens when you hang out around 12 step rooms for too long. You learn to appreciate things you used to resent. – Like the truth. It took me a long time before I ever allowed people to tell me the truth. While I’m selective today about who gets to, I still allow it because I know I need it from time to time.

“I’m cute and I know how to work it!” Said no self-respecting woman, ever! —Tweet This

Playing cute is a lack of trust as well as a lack of respect both for ourselves and our victims.

My cute self got us in a butt load of trouble when I was younger. So much trouble in fact it cost me the respect of my co-workers, friends, and myself. What made me change? A man. An honest one at that.

Do you know what he said to me?

“Don’t get me wrong darlin, I love my wife. I just think we’d be good in bed together.”

I didn’t feel very cute after hearing those words come out of his mouth.  Actually, I never felt more alone, hurt, and ashamed in my life. My cute self had behaved us into a really nasty corner and I felt stuck.  I’d pursued him, if I’m being honest, under the guise of we work together, we should hang out. What’s the harm in that? Not that he wasn’t willing, ready and able, but I digress. Every time we hung out after work was at my invitation, never his. And we rarely hung out in a crowd, it was usually just us and a couple of beers.

My excuse at the time “I thought we were just buds. I never saw that coming, HE’s the jerk, not me.” — It took me a few weeks (okay years plus a few 12 steps, sponsors and finally a flat on my back moment of surrender) to stop lying to myself. Even though I wasn’t willing to admit it at the time, deep down, I didn’t want him to love his wife, I wanted him to love me. Now that the truth was out, I couldn’t lie, I couldn’t pretend and boy did it hurt.

The truth is, they always love their wives and you and I deserve better than meaningless table scraps. We deserve the whole banquet and yet due to moments of extreme stupidity, loneliness, lack of self-esteem or what ever you want to blame we are easily tempted to settle for so much less.

Instead of being the kind of woman that brings out the whole man, we play the cute little girl who can manipulate boys and nobody wins.

“I love my wife…” I heard these words more than two decades ago, and I have never forgotten them.  My life changed that night.

Yes, I turned him down. Just in case you were wondering. Not that it matters really. It still cost me my job eventually. I also cried for weeks. Cute stopped being fun. It stopped working. Cute wanted love, not a cheap one night stand with a married co-worker. I had to kick her to the curb if I was ever going to get what I really wanted and kick her to the curb I did.

The problem I have with Miss Cute Self is she likes to make an appearance every once in a while just to see if she’s still got it. That’s when my brain kicks in and tries to tell me that I will never change.

I have a news flash, my brain lies. For one thing the committee that meets are a bunch of drunks, misfits, co-dependents, floozies, and stone throwers. They are the nay-sayers of life and live to prove that I’ll wind up homeless and rejected tomorrow if I’m not careful. They like to wring their hands and show slides from the past. They like to try to prove that what tripped me up yesterday will surely trip me up today and I need to stay in my little cocoon and keep up my old tricks in order to survive.

Every time my brain rehearses the past to take away my present reality, I lose the chance to grow.  Committees are just dementiated liars. (I made that word up – my committee suffers from memory loss and warped perceptions of reality.) I don’t care how many times I hit replay on that DVR’d memory, it’s going to be foggy. Did I say this or that? What did they really say? When did that really happen? All I get are sound bites and nothing more. Just enough really to want to cling to my old habit, old hurts, old resentments, old anger, whatever.

I miss out on so much when I let the committee have its way with me. When I get lost in my mind as I’m prone to do, I need a referee. I need an advocate. I need Christ to take over and set things straight. Once I have that, I can ignore them when they call. Unlike my committee, God doesn’t keep score. I’m told in psalm 130 that he keeps no record of our sins.  I think that’s fantastic. He’s not some boogie man in the sky waiting to strike me dead or hold me to account for my past — he covered that with the cross.

There are still old habits, old behaviors, and old memories that trip me up from time to time even today. That doesn’t mean I haven’t changed or grown. It doesn’t mean I have to keep doing those things either. When I catch myself in an old behavior (or have an old behavior pointed out by a friend) I can choose to react and behave differently right this minute. Yep, I’m back to choices.

I have friends who believe in me enough to tell me the truth. Sometimes it’s a “yeah you, you so got this!” and sometimes it’s things like, grow up, quit being a victim, don’t manipulate me, and take responsibility for your choices.

I don’t have to crumble when someone points out something I know to be an old behavior surfacing. It’s not the end of the world. I don’t have to allow the committee to take over with their doctored evidence. I can own it, apologize and move on. And it’s over and done with. I love that.

Sometimes there are tears because it hurts. Hurts is okay. It means I’m alive. Allowing myself to be open enough to these friends is a good thing – and a somewhat new thing. Ken Davis said it well in his book Fully Alive, If you choose to move forward in your quest to live fully alive, you will fall, it will hurt…and it will be worth it.

I have friends who love me enough to help me kick her to the curb when they see her and I love that. I don’t need to be cute with them. I just need to be me.

Contrary to what the committee says, I don’t need my cute self in order to survive anymore nor do I have to stare at my past and believe I’m never going to change. I have changed and that is good news.

What old habits trip you up? Do you let them define your day? How do you change?

Country Girls, Chatter Boxes, Lobotomies and Life

hy·per·bo·le

   [hahy-pur-buh-lee]

1. obvious and intentional exaggeration.
2. an extravagant statement or figure of speech not intended to be taken literally, as “to wait an eternity.”

Have you ever tried to tell a joke to someone and have them stare at you like you have a third eye? Me too. I’m amazed at how many people do not recognize hyperbole from reality, especially when it comes to humor. In light of that recent discovery,  I want to clarify a few points for my literalistically thinking friends and followers. (I’m pretty sure I made that word up, but you know what I mean.)

While my girlfriends and I love to talk about Johnny Depp, we’re not about to leave our husbands for him. He’s a brilliant actor for sure, but that’s all. And if you still do not understand the nuances of hyperbole, go read some Anne Lamott. She is a strong influence on my writing style today.

I did not really go buy a little black dress, red lipstick and fish-net stockings when I read “Follow me and I will make you fishers of men.” That is what we call a joke. All references to my “catch and release program” in Fishers of Men simply refer to how insecure, clingy and naive I was in my younger years.

Even though I think they are charming as heck, cowboys do not really give me the hiccups. Yes I did blush and giggle the very first time I met one, however, I like the simplicity and manners that comes with these guys. They make it safe and easy to be a woman. And let’s face it, something about being called “darlin” touches my heart. I never had that growing up and I’ve learned to enjoy it today. It’s when they stop calling me darlin’ that I worry.

A walking lobotomy is simply a phrase I use to describe how easily I can throw my IQ out the window when it comes to certain men. When I was younger (much much younger), if our eyes met across a crowded room and my heart started doing 280, chances are they either had a flask in their pocket or a criminal record. Or in the case of that blue-eyed wonder I met in front of the Sears Tower back in 1987, both.

I did not really hire a stunt double for my annual exam – again that was a JOKE.

I am not a stay home wife anymore. I am a self-employed comic, speaker, actress, artist and freelance writer. Having my personal office in my home is not that same as “staying home.” I am not a bored housewife taking artsy fartsy classes to pass the time. I’m an artist striving to improve my craft. I left my career in telecommunications to raise my family and care for a child with epilepsy. I’m very proud of both of my children and have no regrets. In order for me to return to telecom, I’d have to go back to college and start over. I figured if I was going to start over at my age, why not do something I’m good at and enjoy.

Contrary to popular belief, I am still married – to the same man I met back in 1988 (not the Sears Tower dude). We love each other a great deal and are comfortable enough with each other and our relationship to acknowledge that certain Hollywood stars are dreamy. He’s into Meg Ryan, Goldie Hawn, Emma Stone, and a few others. His tastes run more towards natural beauty than flash. I like that. The fact that I sometimes write jokes about cowboys, Hollywood bad boys, and my previous dating disasters does not in any way shape or form bother him. If it did, I would write about something else entirely. My husband reads my blog every week. I do not write anything that would shock or amaze him. We’ve been together since December 3, 1988. There isn’t a man alive who knows me better than he does.

He knows if I’m laughing and cutting up with a man, it’s no big deal. He knows that taking me to see a Johnny Depp or Robert Downey Jr flick is no big deal either.

I know not to go see Magic Mike or read 50 Shades of Grey. That would not sit well.

He knows if I’m rendered silent in the presence of a man (and yes that does still happen to me at times, I’m 47  and very human and if you say that has never happened to you, well I think you are lying.) or avoid someone like the plague – just trust that and move on.

And for all my girlfriends who texted me Monday night telling me to change the channel to the CMA’s – I know that the first Monday night football game of the season is on and there is no way I’m going to be able to convince that man to change the channel for five minutes just so I can watch Luke Bryan dance.

Have mercy.

Life After Kids, Cowgirls ‘n Angels

One of my biggest fears is having my children grow up, move out and leave me behind. Marriage and parenting can take our all, every day, every week, every year. And then poof, just like that it seems they are grown, gone and testing their wings.

What then?

A lot of women fall apart at this stage in life. So do a lot of marriages.

I made a choice a few years ago.  I do not want those things happening to me. I do not want to wake up six months from now without a clue of who I am. Or worse yet – I do not want to wake up six months from now, look at my husband and think “who are you and what are you doing in my bed?”

Just like weening a baby off the breast, I have to ween myself off the “mom roll” and come back to the woman.

It’s not easy to do. Actually it is very painful at times.

It takes soul-searching work, bravery, and conviction.

There is a fun side to testing my own wings and seeing what I’m made of beneath the sweat suit and pony-tail.

One of the fun things is watching this movie trailer and seeing myself in the crowd scenes during the trick riding. – I even got paid to be there when they filmed last summer.

A release date has not yet been set, but I can’t wait to go see it.

Life doesn’t have to end when our kids grow up. We can begin to prepare by getting to know that woman in the mirror again today.

Take some time and get to know her, who knows maybe she’ll surprise you.

Love you guys!