Entries categorized "Relationships"

Guided Meditation for Visiting Your Folks in Florida

Welcome to a guided meditation for visiting your folks in Florida.

First, find a quiet space where you can have a few minutes of privacy: a guest room, your father's recliner (is he raking the gravel again?), your mom's crafting room (perhaps she's watching Matlock), or the davenport if they're at the bank doing bank stuff. 

If Fox News is on volume 47 in the adjacent room, light the Yankee Candle for ambiance or, if you require a little white noise to aid relaxation, plug in the Vicks vaporizer.

You may need to do some rearranging to create your safe space. Old people in FL

If necessary, carefully slide the extra boxed wine onto the floor.

Gently stack the used, neatly-folded wrapping paper from last Christmas onto the other twin bed.

Ignore the ginormous stack of paper (a printed copy of every email they've ever received) sitting next to the fax machine and toss an afghan over the red, MAGA hat on the extra dresser.

That's right. While your parents are out paying for things with exact change or picking up a video on their way home from bridge, take this brief moment to refuel, refresh and regroup before re-entry.

Once you've found a cozy spot to release your burdens and cares, I invite you to lay down and feel the weight of your body being completely supported (even the extra pounds your mother mentioned since your last visit).

You are in a safe space.   

Close your eyes.

Take a deep breath: in and then, out.

Repeat slowly. In, and then, out. 

Let's start with a simple visualization exercise to help you relax. Imagine a beautiful staircase. As your foot touches the first step, let a wave of serenity wash away any negative feelings causing you anxiety.

Erase from your mind the cankles/sandals comment. Your cankles ankles are beautiful. 

Forget the "Huh, I never imagined you with red in your hair" statement.

Let all negative energy leave your body. Release and let go.

Purge the memory from earlier today when you found the Christmas present you gave them in their fully-stocked "Regift" closet.

Breathe in, breathe out. Let the calmness envelope you. Celebrate the life you are living.

Do not be distracted by the neighbor who is leaving the three-minute message on the Southwestern Bell answering machine. Your mind is relaxed. Continue to enjoy this moment of serenity. Ignore the repeated beeps indicating the tape is now full. You are relaxing. This is good. You are at peace. 

You will arrive at the second step of the staircase feeling calm and relaxed. You are free of all tension. 

Right now you're so calm you could sit in the back of the Cadillac and not be bothered that your father's right turn signal has been on for two miles.

Continue to breathe deeply.

You are so relaxed you can imagine admiring your parents' matching swimsuits as you walk the beach together discussing which foods your mom needs to take Beano before eating. "Artichokes, beans, of course, brussel sprouts, corn, oatmeal..."

Breathe in the beauty of your goodness. Breathe out your stress.

As you take a third step down, you are completely free of all tension in your instrument. You are flexible. You can bend. You can flow. In this state, you could even hear about Mrs. Kipplekeider, who lived down such and such street thirty-seven years ago, who, you remember, bought six boxes of Girl Scout cookies but then didn't want them because she'd developed Diabetes (the sugar one) just before delivery time. Well she just took a fall and thank God for her daughter who flew in right away from Poughkeepsie and didn't bring that dreadful husband of hers along, but boy, what a good daughter to just drop everything. Kids these days.

You are free. You can breathe. One more time: breathe in, breathe out. Visualize your happiness. 

In your deep state of relaxation, imagine standing underneath a large waterfall. Envision its glorious, cascading water. Hear the rush. Imagine the water running over your body.

Let Pat Sajak and all the vowels pour over you.

Let the Cagney and Lacey reruns run.

Let Leslie Stahl and the ticking clock tick, tick, tick. 

Let the Mapquest, hashtag, AOL, group texting, and  Windows questions just fall off your shoulders like waves, as you submerge yourself deeply in serenity.

Imagine the gentle waves wiping out the kitchen of its saved bread bags, Campbell's Soup labels, rubberbands, and pile of newspapers.

Let the water's gentle waves comfort you as you mourn the twenty minutes of your life it took your mom to pay with a check at Chico's, or the repeated attempts to explain to your dad how to unfriend two (out of his 16) friends on The Facebook who he thinks post too much.

Feel the warmth of the water. Bask in that comfort. 

Now let the water flow down over your back. Close your eyes and visualize each waitress you've had all week reach out and tell you, "It's all good." They have parents, too, they say. Even the young one with the piercings and the one your dad kept referring to as "the "Oriental girl" are there and smile. It's okay.

Breathe deeply. In and then, out. Again, in and then, out. 

Now imagine walking out of the water and gently being wrapped in a warm, soft towel. Swaddled in serenity, all negativity and tension have been washed away.

You are now refreshed. You are renewed. You are ready to return up the staircase. 

Upon reaching the bottom step, feel the infusion of positive energy. You'll now have the patience to endure one of those conversations where you retrace each generation of a family (and their cousins) who maybe lived in that house on the corner of Huron Avenue and Third Street or was it Fourth? Wait, didn't the sisters marry brothers?

As you walk up the next step, continue breathing deeply.

Untap your refreshed reserves of joy from within as you look forward to 5:00 dinner at the strip mall's "House of Lamb" (located conveniently nearby to get home for Hannity).

As you land on the final step, slowly open your eyes. Reacquaint yourself with the wallpaper. Give yourself a moment. Gradually rotate your hands and feet and move to a sitting position.

Feel your energy renewed.

Enjoy the moment.

Allow it to unfold, knowing that in twenty years' time you'll still be asking, "Is this a chip reader or do I swipe?"

 

 

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Met My Old Lover in the Grocery Store

Remember that old Dan Fogelberg song? When he runs into his old girlfriend on Christmas Eve? 

Met my old lover in the grocery store. The snow was falling, Christmas Eve.

This just happened to me. Well, sort of.

Granted, it wasn't Christmas Eve. I wasn't in the frozen food section and we didn't share a six-pack in my car.

BUT, the rest was just like the song.

Not long ago, completely out of the blue, I received an email from an old boyfriend. It's true that right after my divorce I may or may not have tried to find him in the usual places: Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn. I might have even Googled him. Oh come on. Don't judge. You've done it with your exes, too.

Anyway, back to the email. For once, his timing was impeccable.

Twenty-six years ago, in May of 1990, I had just graduated from the University of Wisconsin with a degree in English. As I waited for the job offers to pour in (who doesn't want to employ a girl who can read a good book like a biatch?), I spent the summer waitressing at an old-fashioned summer resort and fell in love.

And I had the time of my life.

*cue Dirty Dancing music*

He was like Patrick Swayze (without those stretchy dancer pants they try to pass off as regular pants but you can totally tell they're dancy-pants) with a million dollar smile, great hair, and an Australian accent. He was a race car engineer. I didn't even know what that was, but his accent was so dreamy that when he talked about Midnight Oil, even though I knew nothing about cars, I could listen to him all night.  


FullSizeRender (25)By August, I had packed my belongings and moved with him to San Francisco. I was high on romance, and a trek across America was the ultimate trip. I was ready for adventure. What girl didn't want to move to California with an Australian instead of get a regular job? I had big hair, bigger shoulder pads, and a red Cabriolet filled with mix tapes.

And although motorsports was an exciting lifestyle, it turned out to be quite stressful and unpredictable as well. After a couple years, I began to crave routine and security. My friends were marrying accountants and buying starter homes. We were long on love, yet short on money, maturity and wisdom. Good mix tapes only get you so far.

If we had met three years later, we may have had a chance. A darn good chance. But as he traveled and I went back to school, our dreams conflicted. He needed to be on the road. I needed to be in class. Love wasn’t enough, and eventually, through a lot of tears and hugs, we parted ways. That was over twenty years ago.

In his email, he explained he'd be in town for one night on business and invited me to dinner. Before saying yes, feelings of insecurity plagued me.

Would he still like my smile? My laugh? And the way I talk with my hands?

Would he hear resilience in my voice?

Would he see the extra weight I carry as armor against my loneliness?

Would my laugh lines remind him of my humor and not my age?

Would he see that under my tough exterior and crutch of humor there is still a great deal of pain from a hurtful marriage? 

Seriously, I went on overthinking the whole thing for a good hour, asking myself these ridiculous questions, because before I do anything, I've got to complicate the shit out of it. In the end, I channelled my inner Stuart Smalley and said, "Yes." 

The minute I walked through the door, I saw the same 20-year old with whom I fell in love. He wasn’t looking at my thighs or examining my wrinkles. He flashed that same toothy grin and I immediately felt decades younger. My heart warmed with relief as we hugged. 

I told him about my boys, my writing, and my xxxxx, xxxxxxxx marriage (phrase redacted per wise divorce attorney). He was visibly surprised and concerned. Pouring out my heart to him was different than sharing with a long, lost girlfriend. Here was a man who had loved me very differently than my husband. Being in his presence again reminded me that I am worthy of goodness and that I can be a good judge of character. Not everyone is xxxxx, xxxxxx, xxxxxx (yep, she made me remove that part, too).

I listened as he told me about his mum, who I remembered fondly. He showed me pictures of his beautiful daughter and wife. It turns out he did find success as an engineer for a racing team and also became a world champion jet ski racer. (Seriously! Right!?!) He told me about the life he had built for himself. It all came together for him and I could not have been more happy for him. He was clearly content and fulfilled.

We reminisced for hours. We laughed about how I couldn’t figure out how to turn on our first vacuum cleaner and that time some pervert stole my underwear from the laundry room of our apartment complex. We lamented that the pay phone from which he used to call me had been taken down. 

I hadn’t expected to reconnect so easily. The longer we talked, the fewer years seemed to have passed. For a moment, I could have walked right back into that life.

But that’s what love does. In my head I knew that chapter in my life was closed. He has a wife and I have… Well, I have my sons and they need me.

I fell into a funk in the days that passed. My loneliness seemed magnified and harder to manage. It had felt so good to sit across the table from someone who had loved me so much. Someone who could finish my sentences. Someone who didn’t take so much work. Someone who made me a better person. I had forgotten what that felt like.

I was teary, and before we parted he said, “You look exactly the same, except without the big shoulder pads.” And from that moment on, I knew I'd love him forever. 

Just for a moment I was back at school,

And felt that old familiar pain 

 And as I turned my way back home, The snow turned into rain.

 

 

Not familiar with some of the references? Click on the highlighted text. 

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Have Cowboys. Will Travel

I woke up this morning and realized my three sons are on three different continents. 

I shuffled out of bed, let the dogs out, and sat on the lawn. It was eerily quiet. Signs of the boys were everywhere: an arrow stuck in the lawn which had missed its target by a long shot. Olive, our little Sheltie, was chewing on a faded soccer ball. And one, lone, white sock, partially covered in mulch, peeked out from under the boxwood, because..., well, just because. 

And then I cried. I mean, I really cried. I cried tears of relief because each had made it safely to his destination. I cried messy, happy tears because each of my boys was doing his own thing, taking the world by storm. And then I cried out of fear because this has been one helluva violent summer. And my babies are out there. 

IMG_2841The oldest, 16, is in Beijing through SYA on a language immersion program. My 13 year-old is doing a student exchange with our sister city in Esslingen, Germany through our chapter of the People to People organization. And my youngest, 12, is in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan (feels like a separate continent) on the shores of Lake Superior at Michigan Tech's amazing hockey camp. 

Plans for our summer of 2016 began last October with applications, interviews, grant forms, webinars, essay questions, and a lot of check writing for program deposits. 

Then Malaysian Flight 17 was shot down and suicide bombers attacked a train station in Turkey.

In November, Paris suffered a massive attack and chaos ensued.

Over the holidays people asked, "Are you sure you want to let your kids travel with all that's going on in the world?"

We continued with our planning. My son applied for his visa, the scholarship form was finalized, and we went to the bank to set up teen checking accounts and debit cards.


HugonjulianIn January, the mass shooting in San Bernardino made it abundantly clear that no safe havens were left in today's world.

In spring, the bombings at the Brussels airport and a metro station shook me to the core. 

With tears streaming down my face, I made plane reservations for the boys anyway. 

We picked out adapters, journals, good walking shoes and continued to check things off our lists.

We didn't avoid the news. Together we watched the coverage of Orlando. 

We said "I love you" a lot. In fact, the act of saying "I love you" began to feel like our five seconds of safe haven. We said it before bed, getting out of the car for school, getting dropped at soccer practice, before meals, and basically all the time. When we weren't together, we texted it. "I love you" became our daily armor to protect us from whatever unimaginable tragedy was going to strike next. 

The police shootings in Dallas and the Bastille Day attack in Nice followed. It was clear the world had gone utterly mad. 

We discussed these events. We mourned the dead. And we kept saying  "I love you."

On Friday we packed the suitcases, hockey gear, and  went shopping for travel snacks. 

When we deposited checks from grandma and grandpa at the boys' bank, an employee said, "I would never let my child go to Europe or Germany or any of those places."  Um, honey, oh...forget it.


IMG_3008I got defensive, "What should we do? Stay home for the rest of our lives? My child could get hit by a car tomorrow right outside our front door." We live in a cul-de-sac and that would never happen, but she didn't know that.

"Well," she said, "I don't think you should go lookin' for trouble." 

"I promise you, bank-teller-lady, no one here is lookin' for trouble. Let me guess, you spend your time on your Cheeto-stained couch watching reality TV repeats: shows of other people doing stuff that they already did."

Ok, I didn't actually say that out loud. I just said it in my head, but it was still quite satisfying.

The insinuation that I was careless with my children's lives stung. And it stung hard.

Do we have to stop wandering? Do we just put our heads down and try to get by? Do we have to give up our dreams? I bet that woman has never tried ceviche, rolled the dice in Vegas, or stood in a city center with a map and a thirst for knowledge. 

That woman didn't realize she's the one who is really in danger. 

As soon as we stop learning, we begin to die.

 

 

 

 

 


A Good Dog Is Better Than A Bad Date


Ben near bath

It's a bad sign when I'm on a date and I miss my dog.  If I look forward to drooly, droopy jowls, rather than Mr. Comb-over's kiss, it's time to call a cab. Don't get me wrong, I love men. It's just that in a lot of cases, I love my dog more.

This wasn't always the situation. I was a confirmed cat person for years. However, heading for divorce and in need of some serious extra credit to get into Catholic Heaven, I promised my sons they could have a dog. After researching breeds with the shortest life span, 6-8 years max. (I had no intention of living with another mistake for 15 years), they decided on a St. Bernard. In January 2009, we brought home Big Ben.

Boys and big ben on porchWe went through the typical puppy years. He ate pencils, rolling pins, and a table or two. He broke through the same screen door weekly. In six months he gained 106 pounds. He learned to jump out the car window. I chased him through intersections, a golf course, school parking lots, tennis courts, and soccer camp. He became so strong, instead of walking the dog, the boys quickly learned to body surf. Realizing he was too big for the boys to handle, by default, Big Ben became my dog. 

After nine months I'd had enough. I was depressed about the state of my marriage, the kids sensed the tension, and drool was everywhere. It hung from lamp shades, chandeliers, drapery rods and most often, unknowingly, from the back of my head. At one time I owned 17 lint rollers. I called rescue shelters to take him. But each shelter Ben and me in carencouraged me to work with him to properly bond. Eventually he obeyed a couple commands: sit and... Well, ok, maybe he just obeyed one command. But when the boys went back to school that fall, Big Ben and I clicked and became inseparable. 

Sure, he has annoying habits, like drinking out of toilets, snoring louder than a freight train, producing poop larger than sandcastles, and consuming nine cups of food plus five hot dogs a day. He hides his treats all over the house, like a squirrel preparing for winter.  I find string cheese under drapes, hot dogs in sofa cushions, and once I found a three-day-old piece of pizza behind my pillow.

But he loves me. Unconditionally.

He lets me talk for hours, never interrupts, and five minutes later, still gets excited at the sound of my voice. He sticks to his word. He never says he's going to clean the garage and then doesn't do it.  He never commits to cutting the lawn and then watches a ball game instead. And he certainly knows when to keep his mouth shut. If my jeans are a little tight or dinner is a bit late, he never voices his disdain. We don't argue about politics, religion, or who drank the last Diet Coke.

Big Ben on my lapMy divorce required so much change. The kids needed my attention to help work through their anger and anxiety. Not being part of a couple, the dynamics of many friendships changed. Saying goodbye to a beloved home was heartbreaking, and the fear of the unknown seemed to hover over our heads the entire first year. However, one thing never changed. My dog was always by my side. No matter my marital status, my mood, my bank account, my home, my tears, my laughter, my disastrous dates, and the many nights home alone when the boys are with their dad, Big Ben has been next to me.

I don't believe it's a coincidence my boys chose a St. Bernard. St. Bernards are said to instinctively anticipate avalanches and storms. They rescue people who are lost or stuck. Big Ben walked into a doozy when he came to our house. And he rescued me. He continues to remind me that loneliness is a choice. A full life takes many shapes and forms. The Joneses have theirs, and I have mine. The sky is the limit with a companion that provides unconditional love. 

Enjoy the video. And by the way, Big Ben insisted I remind all readers that the camera adds at least 10 pounds.  After viewing it, he said probably more like 15! 

 

 


10 Reasons the Gym Denied My New Year's Resolution Application

Woman with alarm clockI had good intentions for my New Year's resolution. Really good intentions. As a single mom, four years post-divorce, it's time to get back on the proverbial horse. Call it a horse, a rooster or whatever you choose, but it's time for me to get on something.

I decided to get back in shape to avoid being alone for the next decade, so I filled out the membership paperwork at a fancy, schmancy fitness club and awaited their response. In the meantime, I was so serious about this resolution, I shopped online and almost bought a 17-hook-and-eye sports bra made of steel. Turns out I'm not only off the hook; there likely won't be any eyes on me, either. The following arrived in the mail today:

Fitness app 2


You CAN Handle the Truth -- Now Go Give a Hug

I've always been drawn to war movies. Platoon, Black Hawk Down, Apocalypse NowThe Thin Red Line. The raw intensity moves me. The grittier, the better. When I re-watch those first 27 minutes of Saving Private Ryan, I still have a visceral reaction. The courage and fear in those boys is palpable as they approach the beaches. I wince knowing their fate. 

I couldn't find anyone to see Lone Survivor with me, so I finally went by myself. 

That's too hard to watch.

Too much violence. 

It's just too real.

Such a downer.

I go to the movies to escape. Teleport me to an alien planet for a couple hours.

To each his own. Yet, for some reason, I embrace that raw reality-- the insanity of war, the pain, the frustration, the anger. I respect it. As a citizen of the world, I actually feel it's my duty to watch these movies. It seems un-American to avoid


them as "too messy." No doubt they're difficult to watch, but our unease seems a small price to pay considering the immense human sacrifice.

I can't change circumstances. I can't erase pain and suffering. And I've certainly learned I can't change history. However, I can bear witness and say, Yeah, that happened. That was real. And it was God-awful. Take note, damn it.

Shelter from the stormThe truth is, every day I'm surrounded by people fighting battles. I don't need a big screen to remind me of the tough realities of life people face daily. No, they are not on a grand scale, like a war, but they are still epic in the true sense of the word --heroic and impressive in quality. I have a friend who has a child addicted to heroin, a parent with a progressive disease, a friend undergoing chemo, a friend who just lost her husband, a neighbor dealing with heart-breaking betrayal, a colleague with a severe special needs child.

 

I know firsthand these battles aren't won or lost in a day, a month, or a year. Often these storms rage for years - alternating between chaos, a new normal, more chaos, another new normal, more chaos, the next new normal and on and on. For many, living day to day in chaos and fear is completely normal. 

 

When bad news is delivered, a tragedy occurs, or an accident happens, resounding support is often close at hand in the form of meals, cards, notes, hugs, flowers, donations -- whatever is needed. I don't have to look far to find little armies of support giving rides, making meals, picking up the phone, sending a note or just sitting and listening. Those are the actions that fortify my soul.

However, over time, support systems can fade. It's not that people don't care. It's just that very few people have the emotional energy or stamina to hang around for the long haul. 

You're STILL dealing with that?

Isn't it time to move on?

I've been meaning to call.

C'mon. It's time you get over it.

Can't you let it rest?

Isn't it over YET?

You still need those meetings?

You still have no ________ (justice, answers, relief, diagnosis, etc.)?!?!?

Supportive friendsWhen there's no quick fix, no light at the end of the tunnel or no sure thing, the momentum of support can die. Let's face it, after a while, some folks just don't want to hear about it anymore. I'm guilty of this. I get wrapped up in my own problems and frustrations and sometimes think I just can't send a card, make a meal, or watch her children. But I need to remember, it's not the size of my offering - it's the offering itself that matters. Sometimes just a few kind words -- the mere acknowledgement of a friend's pain, can send the message: Hey, I know you're going through something tough, but the world hasn't forgotten you. You're situation is not too messy. I'm not avoiding you. I care. I can't fix it, but I got your back, no matter how many years it takes.

No doubt there is too much human suffering in the word today. Let's not be those people who insulate ourselves from it. Let's have the courage and compassion to join the battle, no matter how big or small our contributions. Pick up that phone. Send that note. Make that pot of soup. And give that hug. You can handle the truth. 

 

 

 

 

 

 


Dear Friend, Abuse Is Never OK

Dear friend,

First, I want to tell you that you're not alone. You may feel alone. You might think no one else could possibly understand the chaos you endure on a daily basis. But please take heart knowing there are people of all walks of life who understand

Someone you know needs helpyour pain,

your fears,

and your confusion.

Let us help. 

Abuse comes in many forms-- physical, emotional, economic, sexual. Your deepest pain may not be from bruises, neglect, empty bank accounts, broken bones or ruined credit. Your deepest pain is likely caused by the incredible trauma your heart has endured from being repeatedly betrayed by someone you loved and trusted. 

Maybe you've begun to feel like you're crazy, but you're not. If you're in an abusive relationship, it's normal to doubt your own sense of reality. Your abuser may tell you things that fuel your inner confusion. Things like-

"You've got it all wrong."

"I tried to help you."

Continue reading "Dear Friend, Abuse Is Never OK" »


A Letter To Mrs. Weiner

Weiner phone

From the Very Messy, Can-Barely-Find-Sh*t, Yet Amazingly Functional Desk of

Liesl M.Testwuide

 

August 4, 2013

 

Dear Mrs. Weiner,

I feel compelled to send you a note on behalf of women who have been betrayed. Last week, we watched you stand beside your husband, New York City mayoral candidate, Anthony Weiner, as he apologized once again for sending naked photos (not impressive), sexting, and having cyber affairs with complete strangers. You stoically supported your manscaped-man and announced you love him, forgive him, and plan to move forward with him. But seriously, come on! 

Continue reading "A Letter To Mrs. Weiner" »


Bark Less, Wag More


Ben near bath

It's a bad sign when I'm on a date and I miss my dog.  If I look forward to drooly, droopy jowls, rather than Mr. Comb-over's kiss, it's time to call a cab. Don't get me wrong, I love men. It's just that in a lot of cases, I love my dog more.

This wasn't always the situation. I was a confirmed cat person for years. However, heading for divorce and in need of some serious extra credit to get into Catholic Heaven, I promised my sons they could have a dog. After researching breeds with the shortest life span, 6-8 years max. (I had no intention of living with another mistake for 15

Continue reading "Bark Less, Wag More" »


Yep, You Should Probably Listen To Your Mother, Too

Mom and LieslMy mother and I were born opposites. She's a Felix and I'm an Oscar.

Growing up, I'd consciously do the exact opposite of what she suggested. If she said, "Boy Liesl, your natural hair color is so pretty," I'd dye it darker and darker. If she said, "You know, Liesl, you'd look nice with long hair,"  I'd cut it short. My experimental asymmetrical look almost sent her over the edge. When she'd mention, "Skirts are so flattering on you," I'd wear my Guess jeans with pockets up and down each leg (I could fit 9 beers in those jeans). And when she said, "Liesl, if you'd wear a bit of a heel, it'll give you a nice long, slimming leg,"  I'd put on my hiking boots with the bright red laces. 

Continue reading "Yep, You Should Probably Listen To Your Mother, Too" »


Excess Baggage? You've Got It Too


Recently on my way home from New York, I was cursing myself for oversleeping and getting a late start to the airport. I'm a procrastinator and hate mornings- a bad High stack of luggagecombination for early departures. When I arrived at the airport, I raced down the walkway, rolling my suitcase, and landed in the skycap line out of breath.

"You're overweight" said the skycap.  

"Jesus. Well, good morning to you, too," I said, shrugged my shoulders, and mouthed a "What the fu-?" to the guy behind me.

"Ma'am," the skycap continued "you've got excess baggage."

"Seriously?" I asked. "Is it that obvious I'm marginally, or maybe somewhat f*cked up just from looking at me? You can eyeball me in an instant and know I've got issues without any knowledge of my parents' divorce, my test anxiety, a bullying ex-husband, and my I've-just-about-had-enough-of-happily-married-couples? Are my fears and resentments really that palpable?"  

"Lady, you have multiple bags and they each need to weigh less than 50 pounds. This first bag is tipping the scale at 102 pounds."

"Oh," I responded, "Yeah, that one is filled with resentments. It's actually lightened up quite a bit in the last year, but I've got a way to go."

Whatever, lady, your baggage is clearly over the limit. You wanna take a moment and remove some of the excess?"

"Oh, I see.  So let me get this right," I said. "On this cold, windy morning, you want me to get down on my knees on the rough ground in my brand new $27 Donna Karan tights, bend over, despite a line of nine businessmen behind me, unzip my suitcass, reveal my unconventional packing methods to the world, risk the possibility of my unmentionables catching a gust of wind, at which time I would have to chase my Hanky Panky stretch lace panties into oncoming traffic where I'd likely be hit by a bus full of South Koreans fresh off the plane for a great exchange rate vacation in America. Yeah...  No, I don't think so."

"Ma'am," he said, "you've got too much baggage. You've got to deal with it."

Woman on couch"Right here and now, on the curb at LaGuardia, you want me to deal with my excess baggage? Really? And just how do you suggest I magically deal with it? Do you have a leather couch beyond that conveyor belt? Can you just deduct years of emotional abuse from my Sky Miles account? I've made a lot of progress post-divorce, but 45 years of baggage, that's gonna more time than a layover in Detroit."

"Ma'am, we try to keep this drop area a drama-free zone, see the sign over there? You look resourceful, I'm sure you can find a way to reduce your excess baggage."  

Emotional-baggage-claim"Buddy, I'm a divorced, 45-year old, single mom of three boys. I'm seriously at the bottom of the food chain. Read plankton, dude. I'm shocked you can actually even hear my voice."

I continued my rant, "I've got an entire bag filled with resentments. Another is cholk-full of divorce lawyer and therapy bills. You think I can just stuff the excess baggage into another bag to lug around? Or, worse, convince a sweet, lonely man to take these things off my hands for a while?"

"Um," piped up the guy behind me in line, "I don't mean to be rude, but I can't take on her excess baggage. I'm on my second mortgage, third wife and my son was expelled from another school last week. I've hit capacity."

"I guess you're stuck with it" said the skycap. "I'm gonna have to charge you $135."

"I'm good with that," I said, "Those carry-on types are total bores. You see, that fourth bag is my bucket list. I'm headed to all kinds of unknown destinations on the next leg of my journey. I can't wait to see what happens next as I continue to get stronger, more confident and adept at leaving the past behind."


My Acceptance Letter for Project Divorcée, Season One!

Dear Ms. Testwuide,

Congratulations!  You have been selected as a contestant to appear on the inaugural season of Project Divorcée.  Modeled after the successful Project Runway series, Executive Producer, Heidi Klum, has decided to try her recently ringless hand, at a new reality show. Project Divorcée will pit women at their lowest point against one another, in order to win a prize package by further losing their dignity.  

We have reviewed your audition tape and processed your application. We feel you embody the perfect mixture of bitterness, apathy, and vengeance. When combined with your delicate emotional state and raging sugar addiction, you make a perfect reality TV character.  

Too tight jeans

We feel your too-tight-sized-14-mom-jeans, high likelihood of developing Type II Diabetes during production, and constant collection agency calls for unpaid therapists' bills will make you an instant fan favorite.

Your file was missing some paperwork. We require all divorce lawyer’s bills be sent to our offices to authenticate your eligibility. We recognize shipping is costly. We understand the pure poundage of your particular legal bills has reduced your transportation options to ground service only. We thank you for chartering a train to transport these documents.

The winner of Project Divorcée will receive $25,000 for Vaginal Rejuvenation, a Lifestyle Lift , a set of Glamor Shots, and a one year supply of Ben & Jerry’s ice cream created exclusively for our show, Manic Xanax. 

Please sign the enclosed documents agreeing to the following:

  1. Continue your diet of saturated fats, high fructose corn syrup, refined sugars and any recipes by Paula Deen.
  2. Purchase a clean bathrobe as it appears from your audition tape to be your signature wardrobe piece. A silk robe with shoulder pads, high slit, and no middle zipper may make you more palatable to male viewers rather than your current Cheeto-stained fleece.

Unlike Project Runway, contestants for Project Divorcée are informed of their weekly challenges in advance in order to schedule therapy sessions as needed. The first challenge requires contestants to don pre-divorce evening dresses that still fit. "Fits" is defined as "zippers to top while contestant breathes continuously." Contestants will then attend a couples’ cocktail party solo. You will be judged on your ability to smile, engage in friendly banter, and remark "I'm so happy for you," at least ten times during the evening. The winner of challenge one will receive two Ambien and be allowed to spend the next 24 hours in bed.

We look forward to your arrival in Allentown, PA for the first season of Project Divorcée.

Sincerely,

Myles Seabrunner and Barton Winkler

Associate Producers

Project Divorcée

 

 


I Bet You're On Fire, Too

Over the years I've chosen theme songs for my life.   Everyone does this, right?  I mean, I can't be the only one who imagines walking in the door of any party, meeting, interview or parent-teacher conference carrying a boom box blaring my personal theme song to drown out my self-doubt and your critical eye. Thankfully Apple has made this scenario a lot less awkward with the invention of iPods and ear buds.

PlatformsWhen I filed for divorce, it's no surprise my theme song was "I Will Survive." Gloria Gaynor knocks it out of the park.  I went to the vintage store, purchased platformed disco shoes and bedazzled the crap out of them.  Not only do they lift my spirits, but man, they look good.

When the boys and I moved out of the long-time marital residence, my song was definitely from The Mary Tyler Moore Show: "You're gonna make it after all...." Can't you hear it now?  "Who can turn the world on with her smile..."

After putting on my screens at the new house, I was so impressed with myself, I couldn't resist doing an MTM (standard move of mine - throw hat in air, smile MTMand spin.)  Without a doubt, my sons thought I was nuts.  But in my head, I was feeling Mary-Tyler-Moore-screw-you-Mr.-Grant-take-no-sh*t-conquer-the-world-on-my-own vibes. And who can't use a little dose of that every day?

Unfortunately, self-destructive thoughts creep in my brain and camp out.  After receiving negative messages from a spouse for well over a decade, I believed them to be true. Even worse, it became natural to think that way.  If only I was prettier, thinner, smarter, richer.... Oh, you're right, sorry to bother you with my ridiculous thoughts, you've had a long day at a real job... Absolutely, you know best. What do I know?  You get the picture - and it's not a pretty one.

As a rational person (and after a lot of therapy) I know those negative messages are false. My opinions matter. I am smart. Changing my hair color, whitening my teeth or having bigger boobs won't make me more worthy of love. I'm already worthy.

But here's the kicker:  even though my brain knows those messages are false, my body operates on instinct.  When reminded of a past negative message like, "Do not call me, text me or email me at work;  I have paying clients that are way more important than you," my body automatically has a visceral reaction. I physically feel anxiety, loss of breath, and the sensation of being punched in my gut.  

The worst part is, instincts are hard to retrain.  After having the habit of being on the defensive for so long, I am amazingly skilled at interpreting things negatively and not feeling worthy of others' time.  And then what happens?  The old tapes in my head start to play: If only I were... You are right, that was a ridiculous idea...I am sorry I bothered you.

In summer I saw the movie, We Bought a Zoo, in which a father gives his son some words of advice and inspiration. He says:  "You know, sometimes all you need is twenty seconds of insane courage. Just literally twenty seconds of just embarrassing bravery. And I promise you, something great will come of it."  

You might wonder, how do we muster that twenty seconds of insane courage?  Get yourself a theme song. 

When I've got my theme song playing loudly in my head, it overrides the self-doubt, negativity and fear.  I get a I-don't-give-a-rat's-ass-that-I've-got-a-run-in-my-tights-and-screw-the-man-I-like-who-doesn't-feel-the-same-toward-me-and-yes-dammit-I-do-look-good-with-dog-drool-on-my-boob attitude. I don't have a glamorous life. I don't have a full social calendar. My jeans are too tight. I have fines at the public library. I'm lonely. I spend way too much time at Kwik Trip.

But with Alicia Keys in my head, there is no room for negativity and self-doubt.   As seen in my music video below, her words and music have the power to bring out the positive from deep within.   My overly-sensitive-average-single-mom-life makes me feel like a "Girl on Fire."  Just click the play button and enjoy.  I bet you've got some fire in you, too!

 

 

 


Have You Had “The Talk” With Your Kids?

Recently I had "the talk" with my kids. I had put it off too long, which was truly irresponsible. Although my children are still relatively young, it's best to have certain discussions before they know everything and I'm just another embarrassing mom.  

I knew the subject matter of our discussion would be uncomfortable. Some could argue that not drinking, not smoking or not having sex are far more pressing topics.  But with three boys, I've got to pick my battles.  My gravestone and final resting place are far more important than teenage pregnancy or drug addiction.  

Instructions at graveAs single mom, I ponder what my final resting place will be like.  Walking through the cemetery, I panicked to realize I might land in the bumpy last row of our family plot, next to old Augusta Bach. A distant cousin, Augusta was a pathetic case who had no husband. My great-grandma begrudgingly agreed to toss her in the back for eternity. 

When I filed for divorce, I felt relief in being alone.  In fact, my epitaph might have read:  Beware of Dog.  However, now that time has passed, I can't deny I fear being alone forever.  I secretly yearn to have the words, "Beloved and super hot wife of...." engraved on my stone for all my posterity to see. 

The fear of being alone causes me to have unusual reactions around happily
married folks. When I witness couples holding hands at the grocery store, I want to smack that happiness right off their faces. Permanently dressed in a black turtleneck and yoga pants, like a middle-aged ninja, although lacking any sort of stealth, I fantasize about nailing three perfect flips at warp speed down the baking ingredient aisle and karate-chopping their hands apart.  Swish, swish, swish, hi-yahhhh!!  In my fantasy, at the last minute a bag of flour drops off the shelf providing a smokey veil into which my cart and I would vanish.
 

As a result of hating the happily mairrieds, I don't want to be stuck next to those annoying, well-adjusted couples for the next 200 years. Therefore I took the boys to the cemetery for a simple "do and don't" session.  Don't get me wrong, they don't need to go overboard.  I don't need a "statement" grave.  

I don't have issues about the size of a penis.

Boys at penis grave

Nor do I have a Napoleon complex. 

Napoleon complex FS

I don't need to pay homage to a lost testicle.

Indirect kick

But after walking the cemetery, surrounded by so many unique symbols of love,  I've decided not to give up on finding true love, the sequel.  And in the event I do get that second shot, all of eternity will know. The boys have strict instructions to order a hot pink, grossly bedazzled gravestone which reads:  "She's Goin' Down."

 




Fitness Club, Schmitness Flub

Dr scholls finalSince I pray that some day, some one will want to be naked with me again, I was encouraged to stop in a local fitness center and fill out an application form. I've posted it below. Sorry it's tough to read. I shouldn't open the mail when my blood sugar is low (which is pretty much never since 9,072Thin Mints were just delivered to my house.)  

Health form final 1
Health form fianl 2


72 Hours to Get Ready For a Date? Yep, at Age 45.

Since I am recently divorced, my friends have nudged me to get back out there and date. Out where? I ask.  I mean, there is not a strong market for the 45-year-old-non-drinking-stay-at-home-mother-of-three-sons demographic – or as I like to call it, “the three penis package deal,” but I have been willing to give it a try.

Friends suggested I try Match.com, eHarmony or HookUpsForMoms. I’ve given a couple of these sites a shot, but to be honest, I just don’t have the energy. In fact, I almost fell asleep on my last date.  Don’t get me wrong, the date was hardly boring; he was an engineer, funny, handsome, grown children – the total package.

The problem is that at 45, it takes me 72 hours to get ready for a date.  By the time he picks me up, I’m ready for a good night kiss.  The days of preparing for a date by adding a second pair of shoulder pads, a half can of Shaper hairspray and my ID are long gone.

72 hours. Can you fathom how long 72 hours is?  It’s twice as long as my kids are in school for a whole week and longer than one of Britney Spears’s marriages. In other words, one little date is a serious time investment all designed to look like it took no time at all! 

 

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