Three things the bring me joy

1. My dog Rocky
2. My Banjo
My horse Azul — who isn’t technically mine, he belongs to a friend of mine and I get to ride him. We rocked that arena this week. I worked for it, and we had a blast.

In other news: I tackled a cowboy this week. Hadn’t seen him in over a year and he surprised me by showing up at the stables. He’s married to my friend Jo and he’s been working out-of-town.

I have more girl in me than I sometimes admit and took off in a dead run the minute I saw him — Good thing he’s a cowboy or he’d have gotten knocked over.

My friends bring me joy as well.

Last week I was tired from being on the road for so long and was dealing with stolen car issues. (My car was found and returned to me in great condition) This week, it’s about peace, time at the lake and things that matter, like friends and family. This has been a great week you guys!

My hope for you for this weekend and the coming weeks is that you get to spend time with things that fill you up.  I also leave you with a question:

When was the last time you were so happy to see someone you took off at a dead run? Or better yet, when was the last time you allowed yourself to be free enough to do that?

Redemption’s Heart is Under Construction and is getting a new name.

under constructionA new attitude is rising up around here — I’m thinking a brand new look is in order as well. We’ve slapped on some paint, shifted some  furniture, knocked out a cyber wall or two and this page is really starting to come together nicely. In light of all the changes, both in my life and on this blog, Redemption’s Heart needs a name change. — For starters it just doesn’t fit anymore. and I’m not a Mommy / Garden Blogger Anymore. I’m still married, but my kids are grown and my gardens are dead.

And so, we’ve changed the name from Redemption’s Heart to Deana Louise.  We’ve played with all kinds of names, some of them really cool (My husband suggested “my hot wife”  and while I thought that was sweet, I decided to pass) Since I own Deana Louise Productions, it just made more sense to go with that. I’m a comic, artist, speaker, freelance writer , banjo student, and poet. Instead of PTA meetings and bake sales, I am now exploring life after kids, facing down fears and testing my own grit. This is where I share my new adventures – and sometimes misadventures. Welcome.

Talk Dirty To Me: 22 Years and Dating…

Me: My oldest just left for college and it’s killing me. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my youngest leaves.

Her: Oh honey, you’ll do just fine. I’ll never forget the day my youngest moved out.

Me: What did you do?

Her: I came home from work, parked my car in the garage, took off my clothes, opened a beer and sat on the couch buck naked, because I could.

Me: What did your husband do?

Her: Grabbed himself a beer and helped me break in the couch.


I sat there and stared at this women who is ten years my senior, in utter shock and frankly envious admiration.

I hear about marriages going south after the kids leave more than I do about getting to know each other again.

“According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall divorce rate declined by 1.4 percent between 1981 and 1991, the Arps said in their book, The Second Half of Marriage: Facing the Eight Challenges of the Empty-Nest Years. However, during those same years, the divorce rate grew 16% for couples married 30 years or more.” – citation Marriage Missions International

I’ll be honest you guys, I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t have all of the answers. I may very well wake up single one day and if I do it won’t be without a fight. I believe some things are worth fighting for, marriage especially.

Our youngest has chosen to live at home and attend Jr College rather than move away so unless I want to pay for therapy on top of college tuition, breaking in the couch might not be an option just yet. I do, however, think it’s possible to learn how to date again.

I know all marriage seminars and books tell you to date while you still have kids. Seriously? Who has the time? Or the energy. My husband traveled almost constantly through out our marriage. He could have pursued music and chose to keep his corporate job instead. That was a huge sacrifice. He did so in order to provide a living and a home for us. I’m immensely grateful for that. While I regret greatly that we didn’t date like they tell you to in those marriage advice things, it is possible to re-learn how to connect.  While we were raising kids, because he traveled, I made sure I took time out for myself when I could and I focused on exclusively female friendships.

I say exclusively and I mean it. No men. My reason for that was simple. Being home alone with children all day for days at a time can be lonely. So lonely in fact that the smelly homeless guy who smiles at me can start to look attractive. Every parenting book I ever read warned about that and they were right.

Can I be totally honest with you? I cannot begin to tell you the number of creepy guys who went out of their way to make sure I knew they were there for me if I needed them. Not nice guys, I’m talking the sidled up alongside me, give me a sideways hug so they could cop a feel rejects. Jeff used to like watching me untangle from these guys and run straight to him. Sorry if I seem blunt, but that happens to both men and women.

I will openly admit, refusing to allow men into my life while I was raising our kids might not have been the best tactic. I may have missed out on more than just learning how to set appropriate boundaries with them. (Something I do struggle with at 46.) and I may have missed out on some great growth opportunities so please don’t send me letters about how y’all had male and female friends and it never interfered with your marriage – if you did that’s great. I personally chose not to that’s all. For better or for worse, I can’t change that. The male friends I do have are friends we have together and they are great friends.

There you have it, two confessions, I don’t know how to be friends with men and I didn’t do a great job dating my husband while we were raising kids. We were busy and we were tired. We also knew that the day was coming when we’d wake up and think, “Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?” and so we started planning.

My plan was to sell our house in the suburbs, move to mid-town and go to concerts and such in River Parks like we did when we were dating in Chicago and I wanted to travel the world.

His plan was to buy a bigger boat and fish more.

We neither live in midtown nor own a big boat.

We needed to learn how to compromise.

Sometimes we do things he likes, like fishing or golf, and sometimes we do things I like such as concerts, or plays. One of the things I love best about our marriage is we make each other laugh and we put each other first.

Most of the time it works out. In June we saw Barry Manilow and he didn’t die and in July we saw James Taylor which was amazingly awesome. I’ve even started watching him play again on Saturday nights, something I gave up when the boys were in high school because I was just too busy. And he comes to watch me when I perform comedy. We support each others dreams.

Which brings me to a crucial point, developing myself as a woman so that I have something more substantial to lean upon than just his arm if you know what I mean is very important during this season of my life otherwise I run the risk of running away to find myself. Well that and boring him to tears.  So I took up banjo, started riding a bike, and started comedy and acting. I’m becoming informed about politics, and music and world affairs. I became a Democrat which didn’t thrill him, but it does interest him. It’s a lot easier to date a man – or a woman for that matter – when you know who you are and can bring something to the table, otherwise the burden in on one person and nobody likes that.

Jeff and I will be celebrating 22 years of marriage this Saturday. Parts of it have been wonderful and parts of it have been hard. I come from a divorced family, full of fear and baggage as do a lot of people. We’ve had to work through our stuff together. I love hearing the compliments of how people perceive us, and yet I’m afraid we do at times give the wrong impression. Yes, we are happily married. Is it always happy? No. Sometimes it’s work. I need you to understand that – behind every happy marriage is a ton of work.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore this man however staying married is the hardest thing either of us have ever done in our lives. I don’t want to mislead anybody. In today’s age when people bail at the first sign of trouble we didn’t. We have a very real marriage. There are days where we drive each other to absolute distraction and there are days when we click on all six cylinders and we stick it out and we fight for each other. We think it’s worth it. While we do not have the money for a big celebration this month due to college bills, we’ll find something. And it will be fun.

So married readers: Do you date your spouse? Would you like to share your dating secrets with us?

Thought for the day: Are we there yet?

I’m a redhead again. My year of hair repentance is over. (Some of you may remember the great blonde fiasco of 2011). There is much rejoicing in my house as I got the green light to cut my hair and go back to my truest self. I cannot tell you how much I missed my hair. Learning patience is not an easy journey.

Raised an only child by a single mother who worked two jobs when she needed in order to make ends meet, I had to learn how to wait for things.

Today I live in a world where I no longer have to worry about what I’m going to eat, if I’m going to eat, and where I get to live. Lulled by a false sense of security, I’ve forgotten how to wait.

I am safe.

I am in many ways, the exception rather than the rule.

I am impatient and a perfectionist.

In this season of my life, I catch myself wanting it now instead of later and get impatient with the journey.

I still wait for the day when I can finally say “I’ve arrived.” only I read in Fully Alive that arriving is death. Once I arrive it means I’m out of things to learn and mountains to climb. Arriving means I get to relax. I’m ADD, if I relax I’ll get bored. When I get bored, I forget who I am and make stupid choices.

It’s the valleys of life that teach me compassion and it’s the mountains I conquer that teach me bravery. Without those two crucial things in my life, my spirit withers. I lose touch with who I am created to be and I lose touch with others.

I want to race through the valley, and be on the mountain top already. I forget that the journey is the life. Whether I’m in a valley, climbing a hill on my bike, or standing on top of the mountain, I’m breathing. I’m alive.

I used to dream of the day when I would no longer be neurotic until I realized it’s that place of living in the raw, stuck between the shitty first draft (As Anne Lamott would call it) and the clean up that gives breadth, depth and meaning to all of my relationships and experiences. It’s here in the middle where the oxygen is most abundant and I am at my most truest self. It is here where I am free.

Living in the middle means I get to be bad at something until I become good at it.

Living in the middle means I get to feel pain, know hunger, and suffering on occasion and learn that this too shall pass.

Living in the middle lets my eyes scan the horizon for the next goal, and the next opportunity to push myself beyond my perceived limitations and experience the joy of real accomplishment.

Jeff and I took a new path while riding bikes yesterday. This one has more hills than flat lands and I wasn’t prepared. I wound up walking the first hill and dug down into myself for the rest. I decided that I could stop and catch my breath if needed but I was not coming off my bike again no matter what. I knew that hill was waiting for me on the return trip. I knew I was going to have to dig in if I wanted to climb it.

I watched my pace and kept close to his. I shifted gears, pushed through the pain and refused to stop. I made it to where he was waiting and then…

…………………………………………………………………I threw up.

I am living in the middle of the consequences of throwing a temper tantrum and gaining 50 pounds hoping to assure that I’d never get hit on again. I’m living in the middle of learning boundaries, facing fears and finding myself. Sometimes living in the middle means doing the right thing even if it means I have to throw up afterwards. (Fellow scardy cats will understand that one)

Living in the middle is messy. It means I don’t get to have all the answers. It means I get to make mistakes and be imperfect. It means I get to try again until I get it right.

I don’t know what middle you are living in right now. Maybe it’s the middle of a storm, the middle age of life, the middle of a climb or the middle of a descent and you keep waiting for the day when you can finally say “I’ve arrived.”

Don’t settle for arriving. Don’t waste time wishing you were there, when you could be living in the here and in the now.

Strive to live.

Dig down.

Get messy.

Make mistakes.

Be neurotic.

Throw up if you have to.

Choose joy.

Believe in yourself.

The Melody of Life

“The banjo is such a happy instrument–you can’t play a sad song on the banjo – it always comes out so cheerful.” –Steve Martin

I can have a horrible week.

A heart breaking, nothing goes right, things break, family crisis, gut pulling kind of week.

A run away from home, lock myself in a cabin by the cove and play banjo for two days straight and question my sanity kind of week.

Then I walk into my banjo lesson and my instructor breaks down the songs, gets me laughing my butt off, reveals deeps secrets of the musical universe (Don’t force it. Don’t rush, you have all the time you need. Pay attention to the important things. Don’t forget to have fun.) and my soul is happy again because we’re playing a banjo and I can hear the melody.

A lot of us who do comedy for a living think we need a stage to help people feel better. That isn’t always the case. The day-to-day interactions we have with others can have a profound impact. He helped me remember that even with all its twangs, missed notes, thuds and buzzes, the melody of life can still be heard and that is a glorious thing.