I love my life right now! Said no one ever, right? Well, I did. And I do. Seriously, no matter how difficult things get, I am grateful for my life. I love it!
I started writing a post called, Living the Life I Want, in April 2013. Looking back at my drafts I found these quotes that apply perfectly to what I’m going through now.
Jean Shinoda Bolen says, “As soon as you recover or discover something that nourishes you and brings you joy, resolve to care enough about yourself to make room for it in your life.”
Alice Walker says, “Look closely at the present you are constructing. It should look like the future you are dreaming.”
“The future depends on what you do today.” – Mahatma Gandhi
“Your own positive future begins in this moment. Every goal is possible from here.” – Lai Tzu
In my post, “Peace of Mind, Imagine the Possibilities “ 3-7-13, I said, “Knowing that stress causes ailments to manifest and weaken me, I recall the goodness that surrounds me and I regain my strength. It is almost instant. My head lifts. I feel light. When I walk, I walk tall. When I speak, I speak with love.“
It has to do with following through. I honor the practices of self-care. I honor my core values.
“When your values are the source of your actions, even the lows become a positive experience.” –Sandi Amorin, Life Coach
So, how did I go from hard times to living my best life and loving it? It has to do with staying true to myself and to my ideals.
It’s 2019 and my theme for this year is Simple Joys. My plan is to really take it easy. It’s the no plan plan.
Of course, things are starting to come together and some events are in the works in the coming months. I’m traveling a bit here and there and my husband’s 50th birthday is happening soon. I also made a commitment to teach an art camp this summer. But these things are spread out throughout the year and I will try to remain true to my theme and allow the simple joys to be my focus.
This comes after a very difficult couple of years. I pushed myself to new limits and I was tested in unexpected ways. I spent my 49th year convinced that if I set my intention on action and activating my best self that I would be more successful than ever before and be able to reach new heights.
Ironically, one of the most symbolic things I could use to describe how that plan worked out is so cliche it’s a little embarrassing- – I actually got a treadmill and made videos on You Tube and Instagram hoping to inspire myself and others with my “take action” attitude. When in fact I spent all year literally running in place and not getting anywhere.
See one of my treadmill videos here:
To my defense, I weathered through some really tough crises with the help of my husband, family, and dearest friends and learned a lot about myself in the process. I gained a deeper perspective and I am at peace with it. I still love my treadmill as much as I love all the things I attempted during the past few years that didn’t take me as far as I had hoped.
I might not have successfully gotten a new business off the ground, made any money selling books, card decks, jewelry, or anything else, or become the superstar of my dreams – but I did take action. I tried. I worked my butt off and made the effort. Which is more than I ever did before. Doing that lead me to meeting people and going places that I otherwise never would have. More importantly, I went outside of my comfort zone and saw myself rise up and develop my abilities, hone my talents, and excel in unexpected ways.
All of it was extremely satisfying, just like knowing that I have walked the entire length of Italy (736 miles) and climbed over 2000 floors (which is the equivalent of the height of a hot air balloon in flight) during 2018 without even leaving California or being lifted off the ground.
So here it is, a new year, a new intention, a new focus. I like to take what I have learned and move forward in my life mindful that each moment has its own merit. I am a new person in many ways. I am also the best at being the me I like being too. I am going to relish that this year. I consider that the simple joy of living life.
I am the best at being the me I like.
As a life coach I often use “re-” words to help in the moving on or moving forward process. Review, recharge, refresh, renew. I heard a phrase today that really encompassed what I have been feeling. Re-become. I am so ready for that. I became who I want to be. I am fully vested. I tried a few things and that was good. Now I can re-become me. It’s that simple.
What happens when a determined mom, like me, gets in a “Road Trip State of Mind?”
First, don’t mess with me! I am determined to make sure everyone has a good time and is comfortable. And I mean it! Hopefully, everyone ends up having a reasonably good time and no one gets hurt. Second, like most things in life, going on a vacation is a journey. Obviously! But it is a process. There is a beginning, middle and end. I have some experience at this, so I planned it all out and it went pretty well. Lastly, even though our lives were never truly at risk, any trip is about survival. Especially when a perfectly normal family unit is going to be cooped up for hours on end in close quarters. Here is how we all survived. . .
THREE TIPS that helped me to enjoy a road trip through SIX STATES in SEVEN DAYS with FOUR BOYS:
#1 Do everything you can to drive a big, comfortable, and reliable vehicle.
#2 Pack lots of water bottles, snacks, medicine and chocolate.
#3 Have a plan to make it fun, for yourself.
“Our life is composed of events and states of mind. How we appraise our life from our deathbed will be predicated not only on what came to us in life but how we lived with it. It will not be simply illness or health, riches or poverty, good luck or bad, which ultimately define whether we believe we have had a good life or not, but the quality of our relationship to these situations: the attitudes of our states of mind.”
― Stephen Levine, A Year to Live: How to Live This Year as If It Were Your Last
Yeah, we drove over 2500 miles in seven days. It was pretty hard at times and we had a blast at times. It was worth it, but it took a lot of planning and forethought to survive it. I would like to share with you why we actually needed to do it, how we actually ended up doing it, and why it was so worthwhile that I would highly recommend that you do it – at least once in your life! I believe in living life fully and making each moment count. I like to celebrate the milestones and create memorable events for my family. I became determined to take the task of visiting colleges and turn it into a vacation.
In the Beginning, I Found Myself in a State of Dilemma
We live in California and we wanted to take our oldest son to see three universities that he has been accepted to for the Fall. Two of the Universities are in Colorado and one is in New Mexico. We had a week off for Spring Break and a little savings to use for a trip. The money we had saved was not enough for all of us to travel by air and stay in hotels at all three locations, so we had to make some choices. I looked at it from many angles. I could afford to send my son to visit the schools if either my husband or I went with him, flew to Colorado and then drove to New Mexico and flew back from there. That was not only a hassle, but how would we decide who would go with him? Our first dilemma.
I soon realized that all five of us could go on the trip if we drove and stayed with relatives for most of the time. Since we have four drivers and lots of relatives in these areas, I thought – “Great, problem solved!” The best part being that we would get to see some of our beloved relatives and we were overdue for a trip to one of our favorite places to visit! I thought it would be a good experience for the younger boys to visit these colleges and see what they have in store for them down the road. Then I realized we don’t have a reliable vehicle that all of us would be comfortable in for many hours at a time. That’s the second dilemma.
I did a web search of hotels, rental cars, and driving distances and figured out a way we could manage this trip. I reached out to my relatives and confirmed that all five of us could stay with my cousin in New Mexico for three nights, the longest part of the vacation. My son and I coordinated the visits with the three schools and I worked out a schedule from there. I priced out the rental cars online and found a pretty good deal with one and my husband chose the type of vehicle he wanted to drive for the trip. I found some amazing hotels with great reviews in the vicinity of the two schools we were visiting in Colorado, and got awesome deals since I was booking far in advance and online.
I put together an itinerary, got someone to feed the cats and watch the house, and I set to work on creating a memorable experience for our family. It wasn’t until the day we left on the trip that I realized this wasn’t going to be as easy as I thought.
On the First Day, I was in a State of Despair
I know that sounds dramatic, but it certainly was an urgent and desperate situation! The whole trip I planned depended on the perfect vehicle. It had to be spacious and it had to be reliable. I have three teen-aged boys and my husband and I aren’t exactly “compact” so it needed to be comfortable. Since we are on a tight budget it needed to be affordable. We were going to be driving over the Rocky Mountains and snow was predicted on the days we were going to be there, so it needed to be an all wheel drive vehicle. Mostly, I wanted it to be perfect. I wanted my family to be comfortable. I wanted to make my husband and kids happy. They weren’t as excited as I was about taking this road trip!
I thought I found the solution when I went through Hertz. I did, but it was a very difficult and disappointing ordeal. The main reason it became so harrowing is the poor customer service we received when we went to pick up the vehicle. The car I reserved was not available and the substitute was not at all acceptable. I called twice in advance to see if the vehicle I reserved would be there and both times was told that it or a comparable vehicle would be there when I arrived at my appointed time. It turned out that the staff did nothing to honor that commitment. They accepted what they believed to be the closest thing and never bothered to notify me. When we arrived, my husband and I waited forty-five minutes before anyone could even help us and then we found out about the mini-van. My stress is beginning to elevate now just thinking about it. If it had not been that important to my husband, we would have driven that mini-van through the blizzard we hit in Vail, Colorado. But instead, I stuck my heels in the ground, we made some calls, we delayed our departure and we exchanged it at a different Hertz location within the vicinity. It took some work, actual work, on the part of the employees at Hertz, but they were in fact able to provide the vehicle that I reserved. I think it was a surprise even to them! We ended up in a brand new, just off the lot, the window sticker still attached, Chevy Traverse LT AWD. Exactly what I had reserved.
I won’t go into details about the employees at Hertz and I would never name names, but they could stand to learn a lot about customer service, respect, common sense, courtesy and compassion, none of which was observed at either of the locations I had to interact with.
I must say that it all turned out okay in the end. The District Manager at Hertz did a lot to make it work out for us, but it is important to note that I had to really work hard to get what I wanted and I was not satisfied with my overall customer experience. Since Hertz claims their goal is “to provide the best customer experience possible”, they seriously failed to meet it. Eventually they discounted the rental, but I had to go through the corporate office by getting their attention on Twitter ( https://twitter.com/Hertz) and publicly proclaiming my dissatisfaction. If you know me, you know how extremely difficult it was for me to do that. I am probably the most positive person you will ever meet and it saddened me to complain. I was of course happy to get a discount, but what I am still waiting for is an apology and I would like to see the management take responsibility and show me how they plan to improve the service at my local office before I will ever consider returning to or recommending Hertz again. Service and reliability are extremely important to me. It was particularly challenging to remain calm and upbeat during this experience and it was vital that I didn’t get upset at the beginning of the trip. I had to use restraint to show my kids how I could take care of things without totally freaking out! I put myself under a lot of pressure to make this trip great and this was the very first step.
When we finally drove away and I was on the road for the first leg of the trip, I saw a black crow perched on a post at the freeway on ramp. I wondered if that was an omen. At that moment, all I could do was pray. I prayed that it would only get better from there. Thank God that was the worst of it!
If you like to read about travel disasters and conquests, visit this blog: http://elliott.org/ I will keep you posted on what I now call the “Hertz State of Despair.” I will recommend them if I ever get a note of apology and some clear perspective on how they plan to meet their goal of providing a positive experience for their customers.
That First Night, I Slept Soundly in a State of Relief
It was late. We were about four hours behind schedule. I had originally hoped to have time to have dinner with my mother-in-law in Henderson, Nevada on our first night. The boys were looking forward to hanging out with their cousin. My husband planned to meet up with his brother. None of that happened, but we were welcomed by my husband’s mother close to midnight when we finally arrived on her doorstep. Even though we said not to go to any trouble, she had of course cooked for us! She warmed up the food and laid it out on the table and we sat down to eat as if it were the normal dinner time. I knew if we weren’t there, she would be sound asleep! We felt at home and I relaxed for the first time in over 24 hours! We were safe and warm and comfortable.
The boys were aggravated when I told them that I wanted to leave at 5 AM. My husband was annoyed when he realized that we still had a 14-16 hour drive ahead of us the next day. No one understood that the first night was a mere “lay-over” and “rest stop” for what was to be the longest and most difficult, yet most beautiful and exciting part of our drive.
I planned that first night to be easy and carefree. I could depend on my mother-in-law and she came through with flying colors! This is a beautiful person who knows how to make the people she cares about feel special. If we needed it, wanted it, dreamed of it, she had it for us. I am not kidding! Sneezing? Is it allergies? She had a package of medicine for us to take. Forgot your tooth-brush? Here is a brand new one. Need snacks and drinks for the road? I bought extra. I made cookies. Take them. We hardly had room, but she filled the rental car with the essentials (most things I had thought of and packed already, but we graciously accepted anyway.) A roll of paper towels, a box of Kleenex. Even a pretty outfit for me to wear on Easter! She loves to give me clothes! I will probably be like that someday with my daughters-in-law! She got up early and made breakfast for us. She was at the door to see us off and wish us well.
At the moment we were about to take off, I really wanted to bring her with me! I needed another woman to balance out the hormones in the car. I could feel it already. It was going to be a bumpy ride! Me against the boys. They are easy going and good kids, but I am sensitive to their little remarks. I am a people pleaser and they never seem satisfied. If I plan ham, they want turkey. If I plan turkey, they want ham. You get it. They are gracious and sweet, but given a 50/50 chance to get things right, I always make the wrong guess. And there are three of them! The odds are stacked against me! Is that all in my head? If you ask any one of them or my husband, they will tell you, “Yes.” But think about it. Even logically, I knew that I needed to be at my most calm, best and easy going self to survive this trip. I think this is the first time ever I wished my mother-in-law was with me! I certainly wouldn’t have wished this experience on anyone else. No girlfriend could have taken it. I know I am in a “special mom place” when I am in the mother hen role. Since I no longer have my sister or my mom around to back me up, the only one who could have pulled it off was my MIL. Yet, would I come out alive after a trip with her and her grandchildren and son? Thankfully, I will never know for sure! But packed to the gills with chocolate, drinks, and allergy medicine, I knew I had everything I needed to make it through. Only five more states to go!
It’s not too late to go to Vegas!
Fake Animals on the Road Side
Beautiful Las Vegas Strip
Early Morning Leaving Town
Sunrise over Nevada
Jagged Mountain Tops in the Distance
The First Mesa We Saw
The Second Day I discovered myself in a State of Awe and Wonderment
We quickly drove through the dry barren desert area of Nevada and into Arizona in the first few hours of the drive. We spent most of the day driving through Utah. None of us had ever been through this part of Utah before. In fact, only my second son and myself had ever been to Utah. I went on a business trip to Salt Lake City once and my son had been to Park City with another family last Summer. So, this was very new and exciting. Driving through this part of the country is amazing and difficult to describe, but I will do my best.
We were truly in awe. The trek through Arizona was like being in the movie Cars. There is no doubt that the movie and the ride at California Adventure is based on someone’s travels on the very roads we were on. The rugged terrain, the mountains, cliffs and gulleys were crazy gorgeous, colorful, jagged, rocky and out of this world. It was a curvy, dangerous, and fun road to drive!
Everything seemed to smooth out when we entered Utah. The terrain was calm and the mountains were smooth and the lightly dusted mountain tops in the distance were soft and serene. It looked like someone had gone through moments before with powdered sugar and sifted it on the tops of the mountains that looked like giant mounds of lemon cookies. Then I began to notice that the shrubs and trees were getting bigger and the mountains were getting closer. We drove through them and it was no big deal. I thought, “Hey, this isn’t so bad. If this is the snow I had heard about, then we are doing great!” Little did I know!
The terrain changed drastically through this part of Utah. We saw every different kind of mountain that I could have ever imagined on this leg of the trip. They were all different sizes, shapes and colors. It felt like we went back in time. I imagined the dinosaurs walking over those giant rocks. I felt like we were on a different planet. The bright reds and coppers of the soil and the layers of rock jutting out of the ground at disturbing angles made me think of earthquakes and volcanoes. I had nothing but my imagination to keep me occupied during the long hours of driving in the middle of nowhere. For hours we saw nothing but mountains and sky. It was breathtaking. They are majestic. They are mystifying. They are high! The elevation grew with every mile. We are used to being at sea level! Before we knew it we were at the mile high mark. Over 5000 feet. And with each mile it got colder. I told the boys to bring jackets, none of us brought anything heavier than a sweatshirt! I think we had one coat between the five of us!
We stopped for lunch at the halfway point at Green River, Utah. There was not much green and I didn’t see a river. It was dry and barren and barely anything in sight for miles. There was a stretch of road that was slightly inhabited. We stopped at a burger joint that would be worthy of a spot on the show, Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives. We had green chile burgers and tater tots. It was delicious! I had a soft serve chocolate ice cream. We rested and the boys played ball in the parking lot. (Dirt road on the side of the building.) The boys play lacrosse and the locals were in awe having never seen such a thing. They were a hit!
As we made our way through Utah, we continued to see the most amazing views of mountains and scenery! Everything got bigger and bigger and I felt small as we zipped by in our “little” car. As we started to drive up through the mountains, around each turn I would notice we were driving higher and higher and there were more and more mountains. It seemed we would never get to the “top”. Around each bend there were more and bigger mountains to climb. Until we got to a point that seemed to be at the base of another set of mountains. Welcome to Colorado, the sign said! We were almost at our destination for the day! The time had changed and we realized we gained an hour. Were we an hour closer? No. In fact with the long stop for lunch and the time change, the time estimated for arrival to Fort Collins, Colorado was 9:00 PM.
When we finally did arrive in Fort Collins, with the time change accounted for, we had been travelling for 17 hours. technically that was just the first day! The boys weren’t too happy with me that first night! I haven’t even gotten to the part about the snow storm!
Read more about the trip in the next installment at Our Wild Rocky Mountain Drive. Follow this blog to be notified when new posts are published or subscribe to the newsletter. If you are new here, please leave a comment and let me know. Heck, leave a comment anyway! I love to hear from you!
I am blessed to be in a lasting relationship with my best friend of 28 years (I have been married to him for 20 years!) I know what it takes to be in a devoted relationship that withstands the tests of time while traversing the hills and valleys of life’s journey. I was recently asked to write a featurette on such a couple. I am feeling both proud and lucky to have been given this opportunity!
Married for 37 years, living in the public eye in the entertainment business and having faced numerous hardships throughout their lives, I found the story of Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jr. to be both fascinating and quite inspiring. Having loved their music for decades, I never really considered myself a big fan. Thankfully, I had the opportunity to learn about their many accomplishments and the gifts that this wonderful pair are sharing with the world through their love, their music, and their philanthropy. . .
The Queen of Latin Pop and Latin King Midas
An inspiring story of Miami’s ‘Royal Couple,’ Gloria and Emilio Estefan, Jr. By Melissa Reyes
Disclaimer: I received no compensation for this article or the featurette, photo credit or links. I am not a paid contributor or sub contractor and my opinions are my own. Information regarding the subject of the article was obtained through my own research findings, are not based on first-hand knowledge and sources have been listed accordingly.
I’ve been meeting a lot of angels lately! Kindred spirits who come and sit next to me, we get to talking and before I know it we have an instant bond, we are in to the same thing, we have a similar purpose. And in a crowded room there is no reason we would ever talk or meet or even be introduced, but as fate would have it, I find myself seated next to an accomplished author, an aspiring poet, a fellow adventuress. It never happened to me as frequently or as obviously in the past as it has been happening lately.
Have you ever asked for a sign from God that you are doing the right thing? Please Lord, show me the way! This is how He answers me. It’s as though I am walking my path and the light posts along the way are turning on and everything is brightly lit ahead of me. I can walk on without worry because I know it is a safe route. I know I am being supported. I will not walk alone. Even though my friends and family may not understand what I am doing and even though I didn’t know anyone else personally who has done what I want to do, I do not walk alone.
It is not that I am lacking the confidence to do it. I am not afraid to turn the corner on a dimly lit path, but for some reason the lights are being turned on. It is as if I am being pulled in that direction, lead actually. It feels so right and I want it so much. I have never felt this level of confidence and self assuredness before. I can do this. I am doing it. My vision is coming true. I am making it happen.
This weekend I attended a Masquerade Ball. I planned to write about it. It was a 50th birthday celebration of a friend who I recently met through my son. It was quite magical. I enjoy a dress up party and having been an event designer, I looked forward to this for the mere joy of attending a well executed party and I hoped it would be. It far exceeded my expectations! It was completely enjoyable and lots of fun. There was amazing food and drink. The venue and service was exquisite. The guests were lively and genuinely nice. The entertainment was perfectly planned, in sync, modest, and served the purpose of highlighting the life of the guest of honor without going over the top. It truly was magical.
It was magical for me in a very special way. I had been working on writing my book this weekend. I am turning the outline of my Life Balance Workshop into an ebook. Even though I have multiple writing projects currently in the works, I thought I would give the Kindle ebook upload a try with this idea first. That way, I can have it in time for the Spa Retreat that I am speaking at in October. (That I am typing these words in reference to my own life is HUGE and very magical! I can hardly believe it!)
I am loving the experience of piecing my book together and cannot wait to get it finished so I can get it online, and I relished having a three day weekend to work on it. Yet, I found myself spending the day at an auto dealership and taking care of important family business and did not have a chance to get back to it before needing to get ready for the party. I was trying not to have any really groundbreaking thoughts about the book so I could enjoy the party, hopefully you get what I mean by that! I really wanted to enjoy myself and be mindful of the moment at hand. I took lots of pictures and I spoke to everyone at the table. I was trying hard not to talk about the writing. I was just being a great mom and wife and enjoying the fantastic cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, when I began talking to the lady seated next to me. Guess what! She is an author, who has around forty books published on Amazon for Kindle! She was nice enough to tell me to contact her if I had any questions. We really connected and it was over the top coincidence that we met because she is in my genre and we have similar interests! When she began to tell me the topics that she has written about, it was as though she was reading the list of topics that I write about! Spirituality, self development, life, love.
I used to be the person at a table of strangers who did not speak unless spoken to. How many amazing people did I miss connecting with all those years that I was so self absorbed, so worried about making the right impression, concerned about exposing myself as imperfect, less than, not accomplished, under-educated, and so on? What was my problem? I was insecure. Immature. Inadequate. No more. No way!
I love to hear people’s stories and I love that I can Google most people and find out more about them!! Every outing is an adventure when I know that if I open the door and ask to enter, people will invite me in. I have learned so many wonderful things when given that opportunity. I am so grateful for
that gift. I am so amazed that the angels will talk to me!
Here is a challenge for you, next time you are at a party and sit next to someone you have never met – really talk to them. They could be there to guide you! They could be the sign you asked for.
I’m a movie buff (cinephile in French, cinefilo in Spanish) and I love going to the movies all the time, but in the summer, it’s almost required. Maybe it’s the cool dark theaters, the gigantic icy soft drinks, the block busters that open in the Summer months, I don’t know for sure. But I have been enjoying taking in a few flicks recently.
Last night I got to see a pre-screening of the film, Magic Mike. This is a much-anticipated film about male strippers set in Tampa, Florida. I’ve heard that it is loosely based on the background of the star of the film, actor Channing Tatum‘s life.
Magic Mike was written by Reid Carolin, actor, producer, director and screenwriter. He is also the co-founder of Constellation, a service (Facebook Ap) presenting live interactive events built around online streaming movies, where viewers can chat with each other and with special guests.
Check it out: http://www.constellation.tv/event/magicmike
Reid Carolin, who also wrote the documentary, “Earth Made of Glass,”about Rwandan President Paul Kagame and France’s hidden role in the 1994 Rwandan Genocide, is President of Iron Horse Entertainment, the production company he started with Channing Tatum.
Oscar Award winner Steven Soderbergh, who is known for Traffic, Ocean’s Eleven and its sequels, directed Magic Mike. Although the movie was great as a fun summer flick to be enjoyed with a few girlfriends after happy hour or before going out bar hopping, it was not what I would expect from Soderbergh. If this film makes money, it will be solely because of the mass marketing taking place and the possibility of it becoming a ‘must have’ DVD for all the ladies who love Matthew McConaughey and/or Channing Tatum. In fact, I will be stocking up on said DVD to have on hand to be given as a bridal shower/bachelorette party gift for sure!
There were some heavy topics and themes which emerged in the story-line of the film. Choosing one’s life direction and doing whatever it takes to make your dream come true is one of the major themes. Few people strive to be a stripper and to make their living with the dollar bills stuffed in their g-strings. But most everyone has a dream that they hope to achieve in life. We can all relate to the hope of living comfortably and doing meaningful work that we are passionate about. Magic Mike mentors “The Kid,” played by Alex Pettyfer. Unfortunately for “The Kid,” whenever he gets close to success it eats him up. Drug addiction, extreme living, and the “lifestyle” of stripping, sex, and partying gets in the way of his dreams.
The Kid’s sister, Brooke, played by Cody Horn, copes with her struggles to make ends meet on her own, being supportive of her brother and standing by as he learns his life’s lessons while he repeats some mistakes along the way. It was an interesting twist on the story being that it is her little brother who turns to dancing and gets caught up in the dangerous night life. Of course, Magic Mike, who is talented and sexy beyond belief, is the one who travels the most on his journey and has the most to lose. Brooke is forced to practice some tough love on her brother while resisting her attraction to Mike as he works out his own issues.
Thanks to Warner Bros. for releasing this movie and for all the fun promotions that I enjoyed on my own vacation from reality this past week! What I want to know is, do all the movies at the AMC Theater in Century City open with live male strippers entertaining the audience? Because if so, it will be worth it to me to drive there for the rest of the summer!
I would say that the best part of this movie by far was Matthew McConaughey’s performance as Dallas, the owner of Club Xquisite, the Tampa, Florida male strip club. It wasn’t his best acting performance and he played it pretty straight. He might have stolen the show just a bit! I love his acting in films like We are Marshall and The Lincoln Lawyer, but in this particular film all I want is to see him on the screen with his clothes off. It wouldn’t matter to me what he says! Now, if a man said that about a female actress I would most likely protest! I want to be clear that I appreciate Matthew McConaughey’s versatility and ability to share his many gifts. He has an amazing physique. He is a god!
My friend said this about McConaughey in Magic Mike, “It was so wrong, but it was so right. He has the perfect body and I love that it has some meat on it!”
I couldn’t agree more! I enjoyed all the eye candy and fun excerpts of dancing and showing off skin and muscles both on screen and at the pre-screening events. Ladies, it’s going to be one hot summer!
but by simply noticing how I am imprisoning myself
in the very moment in which I am imprisoning myself.
I have been freed!
May 28, 2012
This weekend, Memorial Day Weekend, I am thrilled to celebrate the 100th post on my blog: http://mizmeliz.com!
I have learned so much and have met so many amazing people in the past six months! It has been a remarkable journey, so far. I want to pause and reflect on all the people who have paved the way and who have stood by and cheered me on. I know there is much, much more in store for me. I want to take a moment and really thank all of you for making this a reality for me!
This is a chronicle of the experiences I have had since I started blogging. I know it’s small beans relatively speaking but they are my experiences and I treasure them and I believe in celebrating each moment. This is how I have made a mark on my tiny corner of the Universe. These first few months have made a positive change in my life. Indulge me if I get carried away here. . .
The First Steps
I wouldn’t have continued with blogging seriously if it weren’t for the nudging of a fellow school parent and church friend, Ricca Frances 1. Who invited me to the group So Cal Lady Bloggersin October 2011. Ricca, who writes at http://www.sprmama.blogspot.com/ further encouraged me when she told me that she reads my blog and she considers me to be a prolific writer! Thanks to Ricca’s faith in me, I have been accepted by some wonderful communities and influential groups in the blogging world.
I cannot thank these ladies enough! Megan McClain 2, Carolyn West 3, Sidney Patrick 4, Wendy Nielson 5, Meagan Elliott 6, Beverly Diehl 7, Trina Finton 8, and AJ Feuerman 9 (and everyone at So Cal Lady Bloggers) for their advice and encouragement. I have enjoyed the meet ups, the conversations, the laughs and the education that they have gifted me with during our brief interludes. Thanks to all of them for showing me the ropes and for including me in their endeavors. It can only get better! I am looking forward to my induction into the wonderful world of blogging conferences and spending more time with you all IRL!
Megan, who writes at http://sunshinewonderland.com was the first person who asked me “What is your niche?” I realize now what a difference knowing the answer to that question makes.
Thanks to Carolyn, who writes at http://thistalkaintcheap.com I had the opportunity to attend a book signing and appearance of Jenny Lawson 10/http://thebloggess.com/hosted by Soleil Moon Frye 11 of http://moonfrye.com/ that made me laugh like crazy, buy the book, and enjoy every minute of reading it which inspired me to further pursue my own desire to write a book!
Sidney, of http://www.milbetweenus.com/ , will always be remembered for organizing the first meet up I attended. I was concerned about the first impression I made after having suggested she add time for cocktails (because I knew I would be nervous and would need a drink) and after exchanging our business cards, realizing we both had the same exact design. After the initial shock of the “showing up in the same dress” feeling wore off, I felt validated that I had a really cool business card just like Sidney’s!
Beverly, from http://writinginflow.blogspot.com/ has inspired me to write what I love. I love her because she is in a niche that I wish I had the balls to be in and she inspires me to be myself when I write and to let the creativity flow freely.
I am grateful for Trina, from http://www.shesgeekyinc.com who thoughtfully dressed in yellow, showed me the way, and gave me direction – quite literally – when I got lost in Beverly Hills while looking for the The Blogess! She was so kind and watched out for me, a total stranger!
AJ, who writes http://confessionsofafatgirl.typepad.com/ is my soul mate in many ways and I am so proud of her because she articulates thoughts and feelings that I have had my entire life that I still have not dared to write about as candidly as she has on her blog.
I am grateful for the opportunity to express myself creatively through writing and photography and I am much happier since I decided to take this turn in the road. In the past six months I have jumped around and explored many of my lifelong interests. I have been especially creative and I have had so much fun with it! From making jewelry, crocheting scarfs, making key chains and bookmarks with feathers, scrapbooking, drawing, face painting, sewing costumes, and decorating Easter eggs, to making videos and editing pictures using digital photography and iPhone apps – my hobbies and interests are extensive. There have been quite a few bumps in the road, but as any adventurer/thrill-seeker knows, that is what makes things interesting.
Special thanks to all the creatives who have accepted me into their fold, added me to their closed and secret Facebook groups and made me feel like a crafter, an artist, a photographer, a writer, a super mom, a super wife, a super friend, even a muse – – all of the things that I know I am, but now have incorporated into my bio. Because of you, I am being recognized outwardly for the things that I have cherished inside of me for so long!
I am proud to have had the pleasure of exploring the crazy avenues of life online as a member of some special groups on Facebook. Because of this I have found myself having heart to heart chats with the most talented and creative people I have ever met and would never have met if it weren’t for the “inter webs!”
It all started with Sue Dribben-Dicksen 15 (Abingdon) who I didn’t know in high school to unknowingly mentor me as a writer on Create a Story and Book Talk. http://aspiefolks.blogspot.com/
Sue then referred me to Susanne Bal Balyemez 16 http://peppysposts.com (Philadelphia) who made me a member of her Girl’s Treehouse Advisory Board and allowed me to share my inner thoughts and advice with a group blessed with so many spiritual, caring and thoughtful women.
Susanne then refered me to The Atelierwhere I found myself amongst some of the most incredible artists like Amy Kalabsa-Garcia 17 (Chicago) http://amykgarciaart.wordpress.com/ and Harold Rantasa 18 (Austria) http://www.art-rantasa.com/ who have shared their original works of art with me and allowed me to use it freely on my newly designed blog site.
Susanne also referred me to The Cooks Cornerwhere I pretend that I can cook so I can hang out with my BFIRL (best friend in real life) Holly Markman 19, private chef and owner of Holly’s Homemade. Holly has used some of my pictures on her website and I help to promote her endeavors. (So, shameless plug here – if you need a chef, a consultation or would like to take classes stop by http://www.hollyshomemade.com/)
Returning to a Familiar Territory
Somewhere around this time I started taking pictures of flowers and food while on all of my adventures. Shortly after I got married (about a million years ago) I took a college extension course in photography. I loved taking pictures and considered photo journalism as an area of interest. My mother-in-law gave me a beautiful Nikon SLR and I learned about aperture, depth of field and the basics of amateur photography. I put the passion for photography on hold for a while and only recently re-discovered it when I began taking pictures with my cell phone.
I joined Instagram, Flickrand Tumblr. I post my pictures of flowers that I edit and I enjoy looking at them as much as I enjoy taking them.
I met a photographer/artist who had inspired me years ago at an event and thanks to my new-found confidence; I introduced myself as a blogger/photographer. Now I have a mentor and I am collaborating with the inspirational and talented Elizabeth Thoman, CHM 20. Liz has a made a beautiful contribution to healing the sick by using her photography of flowers to help people in hospitals pray and enjoy their beauty http://healingpetals.com/. Liz has been recognized for her lifetime of work and exemplary leadership in various roles, including writer/editor of Media & Values magazine, Executive Director of the Center for Media Literacy (CML), and co-founder of NAMLE, the National Association for Media Literacy Education. http://namle.net/2009/08/31/meritorious-service-award-honors-longtime-leader/
Recently, I found myself in a group called Picture This where I was suddenly immersed in the world of photography. Jamie Gall 21 and Kristin Boyle McGuire 22 http://crazykwistin.wordpress.com/ both members of So Cal Lady Bloggers, are in this group. Jamie included my photos on her cell phone photography blog post http://mngirlinla.com/2012/04/09/week-2-of-cell-phone-photography-entries/. I am challenged on a weekly basis to post pictures with specific themes or in certain categories. Many of the other participants are professional photographers. It’s such a blast!
My article about decorating Lithuanian Easter Eggs got alike from Charlie 23 and Tom 24, two brothers, at http://photobotos.com/. I am hoping to be acknowledged for some of my work on that majestic site which highlights photography from around the globe.
Navigating My Way on the Road to Success
I could not have gone this far on my journey without the support and encouragement of my family and my friends. In January 2012 I was given a special gift by fellow blogger and spiritualist, Joy Detor Holland 25, http://facetsofjoy.com/ who sent me an email in regards to a writing initiative called A Year With Myself. One of my first blog posts was actually a response to a blog that I read by a friend of Joy’s, Raam Dev 26. Raam inspired me to write in the moment and consider a minimalist outlook. http://raamdev.com/
Writing in response to the prompts from A Year with Myself has caused me to examine my core values, my true passions, my talents and my goals. Following the prompts and committing to writing on my blog once a week is what made me believe that I could be a writer. Having the support of the creator and instigators of A Year with Myself has been a blessing beyond words. It has been an honor to get comments and ongoing encouragement from these writers who are experts in their fields.
I have been influenced by Patti Digh27, who describes how living in a liminal space, the ‘in between’ space, is the moment that there is nothing to hold on to where I can be the most present, most alive, most vulnerable, and most human. http://www.37days.com/
C.A. Kabu 32 (the creator of A Year with Myself) defined authenticity for me, asking me to think about my character, values, strengths, and their intersections while relating this to having a sense of who I am and sharing it with the world without reservations. http://ayearwithmyself.com/
Karen Caterson 33 taught me that knowing my differences—and living them is what makes me authentic, and how being authentic can lead to making a difference in the world. http://www.squarepegpeople.com/index.php
Abby Kerr 34 showed me that vision is having the ability or capacity to apprehend what I really want and believe I can do. http://abbykerrink.com/
Sue Mitchell 35 revealed how the relationship of adventure, serendipity and creativity and how being adventurous helps me in my creative projects. She talks about building self-confidence and finding life’s meaning through being adventurous and how inviting more adventure into your life, awakens the adventurer in you. http://www.yourmuseiscalling.com/
Dyanna Valentine 36 beckoned me to proclaim the things that I am not sorry for and to own who I am and what I stand for. http://dyanavalentine.com/
Thanks to A Year With Myself, I have had contact with other writers who are on this journey of self discovery and empowerment as well. One person in particular is Wing Pauh 37 (Singapore) whose website is http://www.wingvantagepoint.com/ at 22 years old, only half of my age, she has a deep insight and understanding of where she fits in the world that I truly admire. I just got a text from her about wanting to appeal to her company’s corporate social responsibility and provide donations for an animal shelter. She is such a remarkable young lady and I would never have met her if it weren’t for the broadening of my horizons through writing online.
I have also had a chance to help out other bloggers with my writing by having a guest post on their blog. When Tiffany 38 at http://stuffparentsneed.com/ was going to be away for a few weeks having her second child, she worked it out to treat her readers to articles from other bloggers. I heard about this on Facebook and I submitted a request to help her out. I was so excited when Tiffany accepted my proposal to do an interview of a new parent asking what item they couldn’t live without.
After that post, I was accepted as a member of the California Mom Bloggers by Teresa Olivera 39, who I would categorize as a blogging media mogul (or overachiever) http://teresaolvera.com/other-blogs/ Teresa is also a member of the So Cal Lady Bloggers and creator of Geo Moms. In a serendipitous swoop Teresa accepted my offer to review and post a weekly recap of The Bachelorette at http://californiamomblogs.com/! Now I have a weekly guest spot and I am reviewing a TV show!
My latest endeavor is my association with the Latina Lifestyle Bloggershttp://llbloggers.com/. I am very proud to have been accepted into this fine group of women. I met the founder and moderator of this group, Ana Lydia Monaco, 40 through So Cal Lady Bloggers, too! My favorite comment after announcing my acceptance to this particular group was from my brother who said, “So now you are Latina – congratulations!” In the next few weeks, I will uncover my deep seeded perceptions as to why I never embraced my heritage in this way until now. I have already begun writing about some issues that come to mind having to do with segregation, racial profiling, stereotypes, ethnicity and environment.
Road Signs and Mile Posts
One thing that every blogger knows about is the importance of knowing your numbers. For whatever reason, I have started to look at my stats and have forced myself to learn a bit about analytics just to keep up on the conversation! The purpose of this becomes important when joining groups, in applying to be a contributor and in the hopes of proving yourself worthy of being sponsored or picked up by an advertiser. For me, it is a fun way to see the potential and growth that I have engaged in as a blogger and I look at it like a map of my journey.
Speaking of numbers, there are some folks that I would like to THANK but it is impossible for me to list. I am grateful for their attention and love!
43+ writers who have influenced me (listed with their links above)
3988 people to date who have visited my blog, from over 60 countries!
89 comments people have made on my blog
16 people willing to subscribe to my blog
82 (and counting) likes on my Facebook Fan Page
424 followers on Twitter
274 people who have connected with me on LinkedIn
25 people who have viewed my vlog on my YouTube Channel
49 people who have viewed my Photostream on Flickr
38 followers on Instagram
67 people in my circles on Google+
76 people who follow my boards on Pinterest
And I am extremely grateful for my two followers on Tumblr!
You for reading the 3306 words in this post!
I am thrilled by the fact that I know these connections have been made by real people and not all my husband just clicking like on everything just to make me feel better! I love each and every person out there who has made a connection with me and I pray for them everyday! I do hope to have more success with my writing. I humbly hope to reach more people, to be inspired by them and to inspire them to live an authentic life. The only way I know this is happening online is to measure my success by using numbers. I think about how each of these sets of numbers represents real people all the time. I hope to add zeros to the ends of all the numbers above the next time I look at these statistics. But honestly, if the numbers do not increase at all, I would continue this path. It is so rewarding to share my thoughts with all of you who care about me.
The main thing I want to express to you (especially to those of you who are still actually reading this!) is that what makes this experience so incredible is all of the influence and support of all the people I am meeting along the way. I took the time to list them and give them credit because I am so very grateful for the way they have touched my life.
Each of the elements I have experienced so far alone would have been enriching and exciting for me to explore, but having them all happen together is life enhancing. It has been like falling in love with life. When you fall in love, you just know. When you are doing something that makes you happy and feel good, everything just falls into place. It feels like I know my way around here and I like the direction this road is leading! For now, I have enjoyed stopping and taking a look at the amazing scenery which surrounds me each and every day.
My husband and I have been married for twenty years now. We are totally in love and we are a “happily married couple” in every sense of the phrase. When people ask me how we stay happily married I usually give them the spiel about communication and being friends first, it takes an equal partnership, yadda, yada, yada. All of those things are true of any healthy relationship. With close friends, family and even at work things run smoothly if you follow one rule – If you don’t understand something, ask. I believe what makes a happily married couple is two people who are happy to begin with that are willing to stay together.
There have been plenty of times when either one have us have been unhappy for one reason or another. So far, we have been lucky to never be unhappy at the same time. Sad at the same time, yes. Distressed, worried, yes. We have always been able to support each other through difficult times. Generally, my husband is a pretty happy guy! When he has been unhappy about our marriage or about me, he was willing to work through it and he has always been very devoted to me. Even at the worst of times, I have supported him and been able to stick with it.
I am an optimistic person for the most part. I have suffered through clinical depression. When I feel like the world is closing in on me, I begin to count my blessings and being married to this man is always at the top of the list! Gratitude goes a long way on the path to happiness. When I am truly happy with myself and my situation, my love flows freely. When I am able to truly love, and be loving, the feeling spreads to those around me. My beloved responds and showers me with his love. The root of my happiness starts with what is in my own heart.
My husband is my “true love.” But, I have been in love before. I had a crush on an upper classmen in high school and after he graduated, he came back to volunteer! I was determined to get a date with him. We became friends and did start dating. I was trying to play things cool and was open to dating other people. I thought I was doing the mature thing and that would keep him interested. I had already begun dating the person I eventually married. My big crush took the “high road” and stepped back to let me decide what (or who) I really wanted and he joined the Air Force. When he left he said, “You’ll always be my girl.”
We wrote to each other for awhile and as would be expected, my relationship with the boy who stayed around got stronger. After awhile, I lost touch with my crush. But, in my heart, I was waiting for him to come home to me and sweep me off my feet. Instead, I got a call from him to tell me he was getting married. I was heartbroken!! I asked him, “If we had kept writing to each other would I be the one making the wedding plans?” He said simply, “You will always be my girl!” That didn’t help!
Every few years, he would come home to visit family and friends. No matter where I was living or working, he would find me. Many times I would get a call out of the blue and it would be his deep distinctive voice saying, “Hey girl.” My heart would sink. I would get that tingly nervous feeling. We would get caught up on each other’s lives. When I saw him, I always had a feeling that I lost him when I had the chance and that he came around to see me because he wanted me to make a move. I never had the nerve. Besides, I was married to a wonderful guy! Then, as both of our families grew, we lost touch again. I hadn’t heard from him for a very long time. We were friends on Facebook, but I really didn’t even follow or keep up on him anymore. He had stayed in the Air Force as a career and had travelled the world. It had been about six years since I heard from him. Then I got a call at work.
He had retired, was divorced, and was planning to move back to the area. What was that middle part? And he wanted to know if we could get together when he was in town. Was he back to sweep me off my feet? It’s been twenty-five years since we had a romance and I was still thinking he could be coming back for me. Well, not really. The teenage girl trapped inside me who was still pining for him heard that he was coming back. The sensible me did the right things and asked questions. But that sneaky little girl was still curious!
He came to my office and took me out to lunch. He was still handsome and interesting and was everything I had remembered him to be. He told me all about how he and his wife split up. He told me he needed to take care of his ailing parents. He asked me about my life, family and work. We talked for hours. I decided to ask him what made him think of me and if he still had any feelings for me after all this time. To be honest, I have no idea what he said. He spoke. It sounded positive. He said the right things, tactfully, sweetly, honestly. I am sure of it. But all I could think about was, “What the heck do I think I am doing?”
The adult me answered, “You are flattering yourself.” True that! I needed it and deserved it, everyone does! After all, it was flattering. He was coming for a visit down memory lane and he thought of me. But it definitely wasn’t at all because he wanted to see if I was willing to take him back after all these years. Don’t think it’s because he is that much of a stand up guy that he wouldn’t break up my marriage. Of course he wouldn’t. But I’ll never know for sure. No, it is because he was already seeing someone!! It turns out that he was networking for job connections so that he could move here to be closer to his girlfriend!
I just want you to know that all of this nonsense taught me some lessons. First, love never dies. First love, school girl crushes, puppy love, it lasts as long as you remember how it felt to love someone. Like a flower, you can tend to it and it can take root and grow and grow and eventually branch into new directions and last forever. Or, you can pluck it and put it in water. It may last awhile that way and be beautiful. You can preserve the memory of its beauty and press it in a book. It will remind you of your youth and how you were once someone’s girl. But if you take it out and touch it and try and make it grow after all that time, it will crumble and fall apart. Some things are just not meant to be.
That doesn’t mean it was a waste of time! The other thing I learned is that an idea trapped in one’s mind fades away quite easily. All you have to do is let go. It took seeing him again to make that happen. It took thinking about it and planning and evaluating all the what if’s and could I evers. Could I have seduced him and begged him to come back to me? Would he have? Could I have a chance to start over? I guess not or I would be writing a heated love connection story right now rather than giving advice on what to do about unrequited love! The point is, I let go of the pipe dream. I was the stand up girl. I was in love with my husband. I did not go looking for this guy! I helped him get an interview at my work and put in a good word. I was relieved when he didn’t get the job. I’ll bet my husband was relieved, too!