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Wednesday, 27 March 2013

My Mantra? Karma's only a Bitch if you are...

Things in my life are very good.  I am happy, as healthy as I could possibly be at 50, and live a very good life.  I’ve had my losses, lessons and struggles, but have managed to grow a little as a result of facing them.  For the most part, I have a pretty positive outlook on my future.  I’m in love, and engaged to marry an amazing man.  He is the love of my life, without question, and I am excited to build a life with him.  Not only do I get him, I get two beautiful step children to add to my brood, and am looking forward to the future….
Part of creating that future though, involves facing some less than fun hurdles.  Because CG and I are in different places financially, a prenup has to be drawn up.  I knew after my first marriage broke up, that I would never, ever go into another union without one, no matter what the situation.  In our case, I have far less than he does, so my kids will someday face getting far less than his children do when our estate is settled.  I just hope they’ll understand when the time comes, that I did the best I could for them.  They aren’t getting less because they deserve less, or because they were loved less by me.
I’ve found talking through a prenuptial agreement to be extremely difficult, but it has NOTHING to do with CG.  He is being more than fair about how we deal with what we each have now, and what we'll amass together.  It’s just that the stark reality of our inequity is a tough mirror to face.  Because I failed at my marriage, my children will have far less than they would have inherited if I had made it work.  The burden lies with me.  Have I done enough for my kids?  Is there any way for me to “catch up” a bit?  I don’t know.
What I do know, is that even if all they end up with is what I’ve managed to save right now, they’ll be getting more than most people in the world.   Even in their own circle of friends…
Yesterday my youngest , “Toby” and I were driving downtown early in the morning.  We drove past a large homeless shelter here, which has faced a lot of criticism.  The building was made to fit in with the rest of the downtown core, which mostly consists of new, shiny buildings.  The shelter has battled back by advertising that the clientele there is comprised mostly of the “Working Poor”.  What that means, is that 70% of the people there actually hold jobs, but can’t afford an apartment. 
As we drove by, Toby commented that he didn’t understand that statistic… and wondered whether addiction had a large part in why the “working poor” couldn’t afford a home.  He remarked that two of his friends have managed to make themselves a life without any support from their families, since the age of 15. 
One of these kids I know very well.  We’ll call him “T”.  He has been a fixture in our house for years, and became one of my “second sons” because he was around so often.  I knew things were rocky at home between “T” and his step mother.   T’s stepmom had no children when she married a single dad, and didn’t have any idea how to deal with a pre-teen boy.  Soon after the wedding, she became pregnant and had a little girl who was the light of her life, and T’s as well… he adores his little sister…. Anyhow, things went from bad to worse, as the situation began to cause marital strife between T’s dad and stepmother.  I didn’t walk in this step mom’s shoes, so I’m not sure why she felt it was her place to treat T the way she did.
Eventually, T moved out before he finished high school.  He managed to hold a full time job at McDonalds, attend and pass school, AND pay rent and buy his own food.  It was hard to do, but he managed to swing it.  During that time, I provided groceries, invited him to family meals, and bought him towels etc to get him started.   I’m sure it was a tough road.  T has since joined the Armed Forces, and is making a pretty good life for himself. 
The other friend, Miss “L”, is someone I don’t know at all.  Her father left the family and has provided no support to any of his children, even after the death of their mother.  This girl is excelling, and has great ambitions for herself.  Toby spoke about her situation as another example of someone very young, managing to thrive without a financial support system.  She is currently working full time, and at the age of 19 is attending college, and footing the bill for her school, her apartment, food and clothing.  It must be a difficult road for her sometimes.  When Toby told me about her situation, I decided another “Pay-it-Forward” opportunity was presenting itself to me. 
Pay-it-Forward is a great way to put pennies in the Karma Bank.  It gives both the giver and the recipient a good feeling if it’s done right…. It has to be handled so the person giving the gift doesn’t expect anything but good feelings in return, and so the recipient isn’t made to feel awkward.  I enlisted  the help of Miss L’s best friend… and bought her a gift card to a mall to be given to her anonymously.  Because it’s Easter this weekend, I also had my son pick up a chocolate bunny for her.  I have given her best friend instructions that the gift card is to be spent on something she wouldn’t normally buy herself.  A treat. 
My life was made much easier during a difficult time by two people who chose to pay it forward to me.  When I first left my sons’ father, I was in some financial difficulty.  I wanted to buy a home for us, and it was a stretch on one income….
A friend I met at work donated her wardrobe castoffs to me… Designer labels, many of which still had price tags attached.  She cleaned her closet out several times, over the years, and I benefited.  I truly believe my success at work was, in part, due to her.  My professional image changed when I dressed the part.
My second benefactor was the friend of a friend.  Someone I had never met.  When my marriage broke up, I was left with the van we had, but I was also left with the payments.   The friend of a friend had an old car to get rid of, and was asking around to see if there was someone who really needed one.  The timing couldn’t have been better.  It was a baby-blue, Ford station-wagon that was about 15 years old.  The car had been well maintained mechanically, so while it wasn’t pretty, it got me around for two years before I had to buy another car.  The fellow who owned it sold it to me for a dollar.  His only stipulation was that I promised to do something for someone else someday.  I have taken his generosity to heart, and have tried to share that spirit wherever I could.  I believe the world changes one good deed at a time.  One thought at a time.

Thursday, 10 January 2013

Wake-up Call

There has been a great deal of change in my life since the last time I sat to blog.  I will, at some point, work through it all, and write it down, but some of it has been too raw for me to sift through.  Some of it has been absolutely wonderful. 

Just to summarize, I turned 50 in June, and just a month later became engaged to CG, July 28th.  From that happy crescendo, I crashed to the ground just 3 weeks later with the death of my amazing mother.  The next few months were an awkward blend of messages from people who know me… “Congratulations!.... sorry about your Mom”… or "So sorry for your loss, but you must be thrilled to be engaged" was hard to know what to feel, but I made it through.  I know my mom really thought CG was the right guy for me, and knew he'd treat me right.  That means a lot to me.
I will delve into the whole scenario someday just to sort out how I feel about being a “Middle Aged Orphan”.  Yes, that really is a term… it’s a strange phenomenon and can leave a family in tatters.  This blog post, however, isn’t that story.  It’s the story of friends of mine, and how they changed the trajectory of my life.
I started working for a large, very recognizable oil company in 1989.  When I began, I worked as a technical assistant to a group of geophysicists.  The work was interesting, but the things I was being asked to do, like filing and folding maps, wasn’t intellectually stimulating.  My boss recognized that I needed to have a little more substance, so agreed to let me join a group managing seismic data.  Seismic is the study of sound waves through the earth.  Sound waves can be directed through the rock below the surface of the earth, and then recorded as it bounces off different rock formations.  The speed the sound comes back to the surface tells a geophysicist what sort of rock lies below, and can help determine whether or not a specific area is a good place to drill for oil or gas. 
My job was to manage that data.  I had never really been exposed to that sort of stuff, so the learning curve was pretty steep.  Thankfully, I was trained by a woman the gorgeous Miss “S” who had actually worked out in the field as a jughound.  A jughound is a guy who walks for miles, carrying a huge, very heavy cable on his shoulders.  This cable is equipped with many spiked receivers that are pounded into the ground using the heel of his heavy boot.  Most "juggies” work in very inhospitable places like the arctic in freezing cold conditions, or working in the heat of summer on a prairie somewhere.  I was absolutely shocked when I heard she’d done that job, because she was a well groomed, well coifed woman, who wore beautiful clothing and jewelry. 
“S” is warm and funny, and we soon became fast friends.   We started going for walks every lunch hour… she to shop and me to offer a second opinion.  She was very sweet, and recognized that as a young mother with two small children and a husband in school, I didn’t have money to spare.  She started bringing me in garbage bags full of beautiful clothing she had either tired of, or didn’t like as much when she got it home.  These were designer labels, sometimes with the price tags still attached.  While my husband and I were poor as church mice even when he got out of school, because of her generosity I didn’t look as though we were struggling.
Knowing she had the means to help a little, she approached her handsome husband “C”, who was running a large seismic company's operations, to ask if he could use a weekend worker.  That conversation changed my life.  "C" said he could use another part time guy, so my then husband took the job.  He worked just a couple of weeks before “C” recognized he had a great engineering and problem solving mind, and offered him a full time job.  From there, he was promoted to heading the equipment repair department, and eventually into the local leadership team for operations. 
Needless to say, “S” didn’t need to work, but being childless, she enjoyed the camaraderie in the office, and I have to say, she was one of the hardest working women I have ever known.  I respected her very much, and was devastated when she and her husband moved to Houston to manage international operations and further grow the business.  She quit her job and decided to be a stay at home wife. 
“C” had started at his company at it’s inception, when there were just 5 people in an office.  It’s now one of the two largest Seismic companies in the world, employing over 50 thousand people world-wide.  Part of their success is due to "C" and his dedication to both the company and it's founder.  He wore beautiful suits, and became the face of the company, but never forgot he’d started his career as a jug-hound, and would roll up his sleeves to help repair equipment, or go out to show a crew how to do the job properly.  His employees loved him, and would’ve walked through fire if he'd asked.
I can remember my ex telling me once he’d been handling an equipment issue in Houston.  Apparently they’d had some trouble with cattle chewing holes through the casings on the geophone cables.  As he sat there, up to his elbows in dirty equipment, “C” came in, threw his Hugo Boss jacket over the chair next to him, rolled up his sleeves and started fixing cables right alongside the crew.  When he left, the guy sitting on the other side of my ex said “Who the hell was THAT?”  To which my ex replied “That’s the guy that signs your boss’s, boss’s check!”
“C” and “S” seemed to live a charmed life, and were utterly devoted to each other.  They were a striking couple, he very tall and muscular, with a full head of sandy brown hair and the most piercing blue eyes I’ve ever seen.  She, the delicate dark haired beauty.  They laughed loud and often, and their love for each other shone through every time I ever saw them together.
After the move, we continued to keep in touch even though we were so far apart.  I missed our daily walks, and even more the talks we had.  She had a gentle way of showing me when I needed to stand up for myself, so it was during a visit to her I decided to end my marriage.  She never encouraged me to do so, just allowed me to talk it through, throwing in intelligent and insightful questions as I vented and wrestled with the decision.  It was the right choice for me.
In around 2001, “S” and her husband bought a property in Mexico, and were working toward a retirement there.  Her husband had recognized the stress he was under during a large merger, when he personally had to let 5000 people go, and decided to take a year off.  I came to visit during that time, and asked him if he planned to return to work.  I remember him looking at me, pausing for about 30 seconds and replying “The only way I’m going back is if they offer me an OBSCENE amount of money to come back.” Gesturing with his hands the way you do when describing the size of a very large fish.
The next time I saw him was about a year later… I walked in to my office, and saw him signing in to attend a meeting.  When I asked what he was doing there, he just did that gesture again, and mouthed the words “OBSCENE...OB-SCENE!” at me with a wink.   That was the last time I saw him.  He retired for good in 2004 before he hit 50, and they moved to their paradise in Mexico full time.
Over the years, we kept in touch, with invitations to come down to their home to visit, or me going to an all inclusive and asking them to join me for a week, but it seemed like the timing was never right.  Our communication slowly dwindled to a yearly Christmas note and I’m embarrassed to say this year I thought to do it, but promptly forgot and never did send the update even with all I had to share this year.  My bad.
On January 2, I got a text from my ex.  It’s rare for us to communicate now that our boys are grown, so I opened it thinking he was looking to connect with them.  The note was a shocking three liner letting me know “C” had died on New Year’s Eve.  He was just 57.  I caught my breath, nearly throwing up when I was hit with what the magnitude of my dear friend’s loss would be. 

The details I was able to get from mutual friends are even more sad.  "C" was a vital man.  He was born into a family with some struggles, and as a result, he'd given up alcohol when he was 24.  He never touched another drop.  He ate well, and exercised.  He was doing things right.  The day he passed away, he had complained of indigestion and begged off going out.  I'm not sure whether it was during the afternoon when his wife ran out to do errands, or whether she had gone out that evening to see friends, but the fact is, she briefly left him alone.  When she came home she found him, already gone.  My guess is, his indigestion was actually a heart attack in progress.  I imagine what that must feel like for his wife... how heavy must those feeling of guilt be?  I can imagine her asking over and over "What if I'd stayed home?"....
I reached out to her immediately, a couple of days later got a brief reply, and am now regretting that I didn’t take the time to email her much more often.  I will not head to Mexico for the “Celebration of Life” but will reach out in depth in a few months.  I know, from experience, there are tons of people around for the first while after a loss, but that falls off, and there is little to fill the void.  I'll ask her to come for a visit, or will arrange to meet her down there.  I will be there to listen to her vent, to give a shoulder if she needs to cry.  And I will remember, every time I crawl into bed with CG that my time with him is a gift. Any moment, one or the other of us could be gone. 

Either way, after the dust settles, I hope someone will be there to listen to the one left behind.

Friday, 25 May 2012

The Luck of the Draw...

I’ve written before about how fortunate I am to have the life I do.  I started this blog from a place of loss.  I’d been through the death of my beloved father, followed two weeks later by a pretty crappy break up, and I felt like a worthless old raisin as a result. 
I was unaware how profoundly things can change in an instant.  Funny, how sometimes you don’t realize how cold you’ve been until you come into the warmth.  CG has brought that warmth to my life.  His kids, my kids, our simple life of going to the dog park, raising teenagers, Sunday dinners at home, walks in the evening and trips to Costco… all of it brings me great joy, and makes it really hard for that little devil sitting on my shoulder to really get going.  It may sound boring as Hell to you, but when you’re with someone who can make you laugh like nobody else, and just “gets” you, it’s a great place to be.
One of the things we “get” about each other is our inherent personality differences.  He’s far more direct and extroverted than I am…  He likes to be the center of attention and he often is.  I prefer to hang back, preferring to be his support, although I do like to be noticed.
His confidence is something I wish I had.  He sees something he’d like to do and he doesn’t question his ability, he goes for it, and he’s good at whatever he tries.  He will drive to affect change wherever he thinks it’s needed.  I am far more likely to have my little inner voice telling me “I can’t do that, it might inconvenience someone…”  I am all about people.  He is more task oriented, although he takes developing people's strengths to be one of his key goals.  He is organized and disciplined, and I am a magpie, easily distra….

OOOOH look at that butterfly!......
I recently planned and pulled off a surprise party for him, with the help of Pinterest, his parents, sisters and most of all, our kids.  His friends came together from near and far to help this man celebrate his 50th birthday.  Before the party I even had people calling to ask why they hadn’t made the invite list.  Many of them I met in person for the first time that night, and it’s clear he’s had a positive impact on many lives around him. 
We both have amazing friends who support us, laugh with us and make our lives that much richer.  I’d like to tell you a bit about one particular couple, because they've been dealt some difficult cards, but deal with that hand with a great deal of positive energy, and hard work.  They inspire me to better appreciate how lucky I am.
CG’s friends, K and JD are just amazing people.  The moment they walk in a room you feel their presence.  They’re as beautiful as any Hollywood couple, as smart and kind as they are gorgeous.  
They met, fell in love and married, much like any other drop dead gorgeous power couple.  After a few years of marriage, they decided to have children together.  All the signs pointed to their creating super-model children who would grow up strong and smart, having the world by the tail.
A perfect little boy was born to them, and all seemed bright in their charmed world… but when their son was a few months old, they noticed their little boy wasn’t doing what other babies of that age were doing. 
He was unable to hold his head up, roll over or grasp things the way other babies did…  They were told their child had inherited a rare form of Muscular Dystrophy… this was caused by two recessive genes, one from each parent.  Devastating to be sure. 
Surely this was a random act of chance..... When their sweet daughter was born 3 years ago, however, the story repeated itself. 
Neither of these beautiful children can stand or walk unaided.  They will likely never be on the rugby team or take part in ballet class… they attend physio therapy daily to deal with the atrophy of their muscles, and they live in a world not built for people with physical challenges.
K and JD could’ve retreated into their private hell, watching their children struggle with their disability, but they have decided, instead, to fight this disease tooth and nail, head on, for the world to watch, driving positive change for their kids, and for others with the same challenges. 

They work to give their kids as normal a childhood as they possibly can, filled with activities they can do, and focussing on the positive, rather than dwelling on the negative.  Both kids have a real zest for life, and are every bit as bright as their parents.
I’m amazed at how much this couple loves each other, and how committed they are to making the world better for their kids.  Most marriages that result in children with disabilities much less severe than this don’t survive, let alone thrive.   K and JD celebrated their 10th wedding anniversary this weekend with some much deserved alone time.
Yes, these two could rival Jenifer Anniston and Brad Pitt, but it isn’t just their looks that catch your attention.  They have what CG calls a “Great Shine”.   Ok I know Jen and Brad aren't together any more, but Jennifer just seems sweeter and more like K...

There's that butterfly again...
Ok... So, shine refers to how you feel when you first encounter someone… The vibe they emit in just a nanosecond (akin to “Blink” , which is a book by Malcolm Gladwell…and if you haven’t read that, you should) ... the initial gut impression of these two is they’re good people. 
That just gets magnified as you get to know them.  They’re not just good people, they’re GREAT people.  JD is CG’s right hand man at work.  He manages operations for a large company, so has a lot of business acumen. 
Because he was unimpressed with the local Muscular Dystrophy board in the past, CG encouraged him to run for a position on the National Board.  That way, he can help to drive change across the country.  JD has recently won a national board position.  He’ll be the only board member who has a child afflicted by the disease, so he’ll bring his unique perspective forward! I have no doubt at all, his placement will mean a REAL difference in how monies are spent to make a difference in the lives of people struggling with MD.
Life is full of inspiration.  It’s all around us if we choose to quit wallowing in our own bullshit, and realize we have it pretty good.  Yes, there will always be those who have an easier road than we do.  We should also recognize there’s always someone who struggles with much harder situations than our own, and make it look easy.  We can either learn from their shining example, or we can continue to be myopic and whine.  I heard once that if God were to throw everyone's troubles into a pile, when you saw some of the difficulties faced by others, you'd be in a hurry to grab yours back.  Amen.
This weekend, CG and I  will be participating in a walk to raise funds to support those who suffer from Neuromuscular Disorders.  We've joined a team started by K and JD...  Our team is in first place in our city for fundraising.  Not a surprise, and also not surprising, is the fact that JD is the top individual fundraiser, closely followed by his wife, who is in second place, but closing fast!

Because I, too, have amazing friends, willing to open their pocket books to support my efforts, I’ve managed to raise over $1000 in sponsorship.  I know that isn’t much. Not world changing to be sure, but it’s something. 
Of course I could be completely missing the point.  My friends might feel  the teeniest bit OBLIGATED to support me because I’ve bought about a billion Girl Guide cookies, magazine subscriptions, chocolate covered almonds and whatever else their little darlings were selling over the years…

I'm KIDDING... My friends are wonderful, caring and kind, and were touched as much as I was when they heard about K and JD's wonderful children...

Wednesday, 16 May 2012

Ok – now here’s one for Ripley’s Believe it or Not….

Because I firmly believe in the adage “Treat others the way you would like to be treated” I tend to be rather trusting.  I don’t screw people around, I treat people as fairly as I know how to do, and I trust people will do the same for me.  I can have strong opinions, and will express them here, but don’t generally get impolite or rude in daily conversation.  Even with idiots.  I heard the saying “Karma is only a bitch if you are” the other day, and thought it was pretty true actually.
Anyone who knows me well, knows a couple of things about me.  I like my house to be clean, but am NOT enamored with picking up after other people… sometimes not even myself.  I like things to be put away, but I’m not organized… thankfully, I make a good enough living, I can hire someone ELSE to come in, put things away and clean the toilets every other week or so…. To me, that’s money well spent.  Especially being the mom of two boys, who sometimes don’t have the world’s greatest AIM.
A few months ago, the cleaning woman I hired got a really good full time opportunity, so quit her cleaning business.  I was really happy for her, but was disappointed I was going to have to look for someone else.  I placed an online ad, and immediately had several responses.  Because they were all pretty similar, I decided to interview the first person who responded.  She turned out to be a young mom, building up a business to help supplement her husband’s income, in order to raise their adorable little 10 month old girl.  She seemed to be pretty professional, but over time, the cleaning became really sloppy, and she was not really all that warm and fuzzy to deal with. 
I had checked a couple of the references she gave me at the start, had interviewed her and given her plenty of time and slack when her daughter was ill, so finally, upon seeing that she wasn’t going to EVER clean behind my bathroom door, or move anything on the counter before wiping it down, I decided to let her go. 
I figured I would rather send an email than text her letting her know I had to stop doing business with her, but realized I didn’t have her email address.  She’d told me she was setting up a website, so I Googled her name to see if her site was up and running, and if her email address might be attached…
 Instead of her cleaning business, I was SHOCKED to see her name and photo come up in a news article about how she and another woman had spent a year in jail for assaulting a 90 year old woman in a mall parking lot.  I was polite when I let her go, but was certainly relieved to change the combination on the door lock.  After the relief wore off, I realized I had to get back to finding someone to trust in my home.
While that’s weird enough, this story just gets better and better… I am not kidding, the following is absolutely, 100% true…
I completely believe God has a sense of humor, and sits up on a cloud laughing his ass off at us sometimes.  Not only did he give me a little shocker with the housekeeper I was letting go, he decided to continue the fun.  When I went into my email to start going through responses to my new ad, lo and behold, there was a response from an old friend of mine… If you don't remember "Smell Your Underwear Guy, read about him here...
Honest to Christ, you-know-who responded to my ad, telling me he would come and clean for free if I was a “Type ‘A’ Dominant”… good LORD!  To each his own I guess, but I can’t think of many things less enticing than a guy I could order around!  I don’t like an aggressive man, but I do need my man to be… well… MANLY. 
I forwarded the creepy email he sent to CG with the message “Clearly his efforts on the dating site aren’t going so well….”  His response was “Or it’s working REALLY, REALLY well and he’s branching out.”  … eeeeeeew!

Monday, 30 April 2012

Beauty or the Beast?

What people find “attractive” is really interesting to me.  My son, “Lyle” is in a band.  As part of his persona he's adopted the “grunge” look complete with small plugs in his earlobes and tattoos.  He has ink on both arms, but so far just one full sleeve.  He’s a very good looking guy, so I just don’t “get it”. 
I guess there’s a market out there, because CG’s gorgeous daughter, “Jasmine” has a thing for tattooed “band guys”, and is planning a few tats herself.  I don't have a problem with tattoos per-se, I have one myself, but it's hidden during my regular day to day life. I guess I just grew up when they weren't part of the professional landscape.  Thankfully the stigma attached to wearing that sort of embellishment has lifted somewhat. 
Recently, Lyle joined a dating site.  I don’t get that either.  I mean, when you’re in your early 20’s everyone in that age bracket is naturally looking to hook up.  For a raisin like me, internet dating makes sense because you work at the same place, you see the same friends, and you just don’t have the chance to meet “fresh” people.  When you’re 21, even driving down the street is an opportunity to meet someone new.
I must admit, I find it amusing hearing my kid discuss the pitfalls and advantages of internet dating.  For CG and me, admitting we met online seems to get more validity with kids than people our age.    They still seem to see internet dating as a place for losers and freaks, unless of course, they're single too…
Ok, I totally admit, it IS a place for losers and freaks, because both CG and I met our fair share...(remember "Smell your underwear" guy?) but it's also an avenue for people like him and me.  Average people, who don’t have other opportunities to meet people. 
It’s interesting to hear the difference between dating online at 48 and my son’s experiences at 21.  I was looking for someone who was ready to welcome a partner into his life.  Not just a sex partner.  For my son, I’m not sure the goal is quite the same.  Listening to him talk, I guess dating is pretty much like it was when I was 21, just with different “tools”… and that word can be taken any way you like! 
Lyle’s criteria for approaching or responding to someone online are a little different than mine were too.  I admit, I looked at the photos attached to the messages I received, and weeded out the “OMG that is SO not happening in this lifetime” guys, but as long as he wasn’t a complete troll I read the profile to see if there was any common ground there.    Lyle's process is pretty simple.   “I just look for all the “hot girls” and then I message them.  I don’t even READ the profile.”  
CG and I were amused to hear Lyle outline his experiences.  He was telling us he’d had responses from women as old as 35.  His response, "Eeew!"  CG told him he should expand his horizons and just flag those women as "Not long term" prospects, but told him there could be some real advantages to that scenario.  I think Lyle was astounded to hear guys of 35 had approached ME several times online, and shocked to hear women of 67 had approached CG!  Those scenarios don't happen to be our thing.  You know?  There are some really good things that come with age.  Yes, you have to deal with saggy skin, and the loss of your close vision, but you also get a pretty clear picture of yourself and what you want. 
For example, I know no matter how smokin’ hot he was, things could never work with a guy who doesn’t know the difference between “then” and “than”.  I need a guy who knows how to use his brain.  Dumb and pretty just becomes dumb to me after a while.    
Conversely, there has to be something physically attractive enough about a person to make you want to go past being buddies, and trust me, a man doesn't have to be 35 to pull that off.  I have been very fortunate to have found someone I find incredibly attractive both ways.

Thursday, 12 April 2012

No means No. Period.

Well, I have been very lax about keeping things up here.  Life has just gotten in the way, and I’ve found when I’m happy, it’s hard to find something to spout about, but today I found something. 

Before I go on, I want to say I am the happiest I've been in my adult life, ever, and I couldn't be more grateful.  I am in love with the right man.  He makes my good life great.  I wouldn't be who I am, though, without going through the trials and hardships I've had in my life.
Lately, the news has been full of teen suicides brought on by bullying, and today I read a particularly poignant story of a girl who took her own life after being raped.  The reaction of her peers was extremely negative... and I mean toward her, not her rapist.  Really.  I found I could relate to her story, and caught myself thinking "There but for the grace of God..."
I try to avoid bitterness in my real life.  I try not to ask “why me?” in most instances, and I sincerely try to embrace challenges as a life lesson.  Things rarely bug me once I've taken the time and thought them through, but I'm not perfect.  One of the few times I feel my heart twist with jealousy or bitterness, is when someone shares the story of what it was like to experience sex for the first time.  Usually it’s a cute story about their first love, and how awkward it was, but sweet too...  Everyone’s first time should be like that.  My story is vastly different.  You know I'm a middle aged woman... but when you read the following, I'd like you to imagine it happening to any one of the cute young girls in your life. Your daughter, neice, cousin, friend, or yourself.....  
For me, things went something like this…
For most of my teen years.  I was at a small, all girls boarding school in Italy, where I had a large circle of friends and felt very secure.  There were only 80 high school girls living at the school, and about 30 more who came as day students.  The boys I had contact with, were at an all boys boarding school across town, and our interactions were limited to after school and weekends, and were mostly chaperoned. 

Life changed for me in 1979, when my dad was offered a job back here.  I was uprooted at the end of 11th grade, and had to start all over finding friends and trying to fit in for my senior year. 

I know, right?  That would be a bitch for any girl of 17, but to add to the awkwardness, the school I went to senior year was co-ed and HUGE.  I went from having very close friends and an active social life, to being 'that weirdo' who grew up in Europe. 
Most of the kids who were in my new school were in the same cliques they’d been in for years.  Some were still hanging out with the people who had been in their first grade class.  That makes it hard to break in to any social circle, especially if you’re shy.  I felt alone, awkward and out of place… I made a couple of friends, but my social life was limited.
I'm a people person, so being isolated like that isn’t comfortable for me… and at 17, being dateless was not a natural state either.  I ended up meeting a boy from another area of the city I live in, and I fell hard.   I thought he was that “someone special”.  He was tall and handsome.  He was muscular had a great smile,  big blue eyes and shoulder length feathered blonde hair.  He was the bomb for me in 1979...

He was older than me by about two years, so he was working, and he was a little bit dangerous having grown up in a blue-collar area of the city.  That was like catnip to me.  We began dating, and in retrospect, I cared much more for him than he did for me. 

I was looking for affirmation from someone in my age group so I did all the classically stupid things a teenager would do, such as making myself available to him any time he felt like seeing me.  Paying for movies or dinner dates even though I was only working part time and he had a full time job.  I even forgave him when he stood me up without so much as a phone call the night of my graduation.  His excuse for humiliating me?  He "forgot".   
We dated at his convenience for about a year.  Because we didn’t have cell phones or texting plans back then, I didn’t always know where he was or what he was doing, but rumors spread that he’d become involved with the little sister of a friend.  It made sense, because I was a lily white virgin, still holding him off from home base, and she was a girl from his ‘hood.  Younger than me by almost two years, but WAY more experienced in “street smarts” as it were.  She was just 16, but had lied about her age, and was already a stripper making thousands….

 I elected to believe his BS when he told me I shouldn't believe the "lies", but when we showed up at a party at the house he and a couple of friends were renting, and she was there, their behavior convinced me the rumors were true.
I was upset watching her grab his butt, and giggling with him right in front of me.  He began to get drunk, and was ignoring me rather effectively so I decided it was time to go home.  I quietly went to leave, but before I got out the door, he said we should go have a talk. 

His bedroom was not unfamiliar to me, we’d necked in there a million times, so when he suggested we get away from the crowd and have our conversation there, it didn’t cause any alarms to go off for me.  Not even when he locked the door, so the people just outside the door wouldn’t “come in and interrupt us”.  Remember, I was only just turned 18 at the time.

He told me he had gone out with “little sister” a couple of times, but they were just friends.  He said he had no interest in her, and  I had no reason to be insecure.  When I told him I was upset that he went out with her behind my back, he tried to placate me by kissing me and telling me to lie down with him for a bit. I wanted to believe he was telling the truth.  As I said, this wasn’t unfamiliar territory.  We’d necked several times before, without things getting too heated.   This night would be very different. 

I remember exactly what I was wearing, where I bought it and how I felt when I was getting ready that night.  It's seared in my memory as clearly as though it happened yesterday. I’d bought a new outfit to wear over that night.  A pair of high waist, yellow jeans with slash pockets, and a cute little yellow peasant blouse with cap sleeves and little pink roses embroidered on the collar.  Certainly not suggestive clothing in any way.

When he became a little insistent with me, trying to get his hands in my shirt, I fended him off.  He continued to pull my shirt out of my waistband.  I told him I wasn’t comfortable, and started to move away.  That’s when things turned.  In a fraction of a second, he held me down, pulled my shirt over my arms by the tail and then leaned on my hands with one forearm.   The shirt was covering my face, and effectively curtailed my being able to lower my arms. 

With his other hand, he pulled my bra, up over my breasts without undoing it, and bit me.  Then he proceeded to undo my pants and rip them and my underwear off just ONE leg.  He used his hip to pry my legs apart, with me saying “No” louder and louder.  That didn’t even slow him down.  Keep in mind, he was about 185 pounds of drunk young muscle, and I was about 118 pounds of female, with no upper body strength.  What was I to do?
He proceeded to rape me.  He didn’t care what he was tearing or bruising.  I screamed for him to stop, but nobody outside the door even heard me because the music was so loud.  I became so numb, that when he lifted me on top of him I couldn’t even fight him any longer.  Once he was spent, he fell asleep, leaving me to pull on my other pant leg, and try to clean myself up before going out to walk the gauntlet of people at the party to get to my car.    

I struggled to unlock the door, so when he heard the door open, he followed me out to the party, and put his arm around me.  Because I was in shock, I stood there like a zombie for about 15 minutes before I found an opportunity to escape when he went to the bathroom. 
I drove to my sister’s house because I’d arranged to stay there that night.  The moment she saw me, she knew something wasn’t right.  My face was puffy, my makeup and hair a mess, and where the collar of my shirt had rubbed, my neck was raw.  I basically stood there, stiff and shaking while she put two and two together and demanded I take my pants down.  When I was standing there in my panties, with my pants around my ankles, she could see the angry bruises starting to show.  You could see where each of his fingers had bitten deep into the flesh of my arms and legs. 

I had bruises all over my arms, the bite on my breast, and to add to the injuries, he had torn my peritoneum open which allowed for an infection to set in just as my bruises were fading, days later. I went to the doctor when I realized I wasn't healing, under the auspices of having my first "real" check up.  When he saw the damage to me, he knew exactly what had happened. 

My doctor urged me not to press charges because the victim is often the one who pays the price.  I agreed because it would be hard to keep from my parents if I did.  In collusion with my doctor I went through months of torture trying to deal with the physical damage because the treatment was to have a large q-tip soaked with silver nitrate solution inserted inside me to burn away the damaged tissue.  I suffered this without alerting my parents, because they'd warned me about my rapist months earlier.  They hadn’t liked him right from the first seconds of meeting him…

Because I wasn’t able to talk with my mother about this situation, I talked to a few of my new "friends".  Many of them asked me why I would talk about it at all.  It should be something I locked away.  I was told it wasn't a "big deal" and I should just "get over it".  Many asked what I was wearing that night.   Everyone offered an opinion on how it could never have happened to them if they'd been in the situation.  They'd have kneed him in the balls, or screamed louder, or bitten or scratched.  They acted as though I hadn't tried to defend myself.  Some even accused me of “blaming” my rapist because I’d “allowed” him to deflower me and then regretted losing my virginity. That was the one that hurt most, and caused me the most damage.

I didn’t seek any sort of therapy, and so my behavior was not healthy afterward.  I spent years wondering what I had done to “invite” him to rape me.  Maybe people were right.  Maybe I didn't fight hard enough....  

I began to believe I didn’t deserve to be treated any better than he'd treated me..  That I had asked for it because, after all, I had gone into his bedroom alone with him…  I MUST'VE let him go past the point of return, and then just let it happen. 

Even my wonderful, strong mother’s reaction was way off base. I didn’t tell her what had happened until my infection became so bad I had to be hospitalized to treat it.  Her initial response was that it was my fault for seeing “that boy” after she and dad had told me they didn’t like him. 

My physical problems continued for years, culminating in surgery to repair the damage when I was 24.  When I was put under, I wasn't sure I'd have a uterus when I awoke.  That was devastating, because I always wanted to be a mother more than anything in the world. 

The emotional damage was insurmountable.  I had self esteem issues for years afterward.  I convinced myself I had brought this on myself, and that I was being punished.  I honestly believe I sought out men I thought would mistreat me because THAT’S what I deserved.  I allowed behavior no woman should allow.
My mom later admitted many times over that she reacted badly.  She became an outspoken advocate for women whenever she got the chance to change someone’s view.  I remember several years ago, when my uncle, her brother in law, was pontificating about how women invited rape by dressing provocatively.  He was an ordained minister, and was discussing the topic of his next sermon.  He stated his case, not knowing what had happened to me, and ended his point with the question “What do women EXPECT when they dress the way they do?” 
My mother calmly let him finish, and then said “Listen.  I will bet you a million dollars, you could walk down the street stark naked and you wouldn’t have to worry for one second that some woman couldn't control her urges enough to keep herself from having sex with you!”  The look on his face was priceless. 

Why do we continually blame the victim? 
Happily, I can say I turned a corner some time ago.  I still struggle with insecurity and self worth, but most of the time I can overcome my negative self talk with a little reflection.  The man I spend my time with now, is the man I deserve to have in my life.  And he deserves me.  How lucky is HE?
Wait.  Don’t answer that!  ;-D

Thursday, 8 March 2012

What a difference a few months can make!

So today I received a beautiful note from a friend I made in South America while I was dating “The Bachelor” long distance.  Getting her cute little note this morning sure got me thinking how different life can be in such a short time…. 

The last time we saw one another was in the airport in Rio de Janeiro.  She was with her family, getting ready to hop a plane to Florida for a vacation in Disney World. 

I was travelling home after having been unceremoniously dumped the night before by a man I trusted.  I managed to keep it together until his name came up… then I dissolved.  Not the Demi Moore, single tear, beautiful cry, but that ugly cry where you end up as nothing but a big ball of tears and snot ….The hugs she and her husband gave me in that airport, were a welcome kindness, even though I'm sure they had to change their jackets afterward.
14 months ago, I seriously thought I would never survive the pain from the loss of my dad, let alone losing the support of the man I thought had my back, just two weeks later, but the best thing he ever did for me was to leave me.
The slow realization he had been cheating on me when he announced his engagement to a woman from the country he'd been working in just a few months after dumping me, put icing on the cake.  Thing is, I don’t regret the time I spent in that relationship. I grew a lot during those years.
On the positive side, the Bachelor is very patient and has a gift for making people see their potential.  It’s a talent that makes him a great boss.  He helped me see what I was capable of achieving both professionally and personally.  He helped me see myself in a different light, and I am a far more confident woman because of the time I spent with him and alone during the 3 years we spent in a long distance romance. 
His gift to me is that I am now the happiest I’ve ever been in a relationship. Bar none.
While we have no doubt crossed paths a million times I know I never actually MET CG until that first internet date.  Even though we hung out at the same bars, and later lived in the same area of our city, I know, because if we had, there’s no doubt I would have fallen for him. 

I’m a sucker for that amazing combination of thick dark hair and blue/grey eyes, great smile and dimples.  His sense of humor would’ve sealed the deal.  We couldn’t have lasted though.  The younger version of me would have driven him nuts with my insecurities, and I would’ve eventually mistaken his self confidence for arrogance. 
I told him once I wouldn’t have appreciated the man he is if I’d met him when I was younger.  His response was “I wasn’t ME back then.”   I thought that was an astute point.  He has obviously changed and grown over the years as well.  He's gone through the breakup of a marriage, and raising children alone which has no doubt helped him grow as a person.

  Our 23 year old selves may not have fit together, but our 49 year old selves sure seem to fit like two puzzle pieces.  We GET each other.  We have spoken almost every day in the past 11 months, and have never run out of things to say.  He is the first person I want to share good news with, the one I need a hug from when things are tough, the best person to seek advice from, and is the only person I want to see naked.
I've heard him tell his daughter and son many times, "Don't marry a person you can see yourself growing old with, marry a person you can't picture living without."  I would change that a little because to me, it has a little desperation to it.  I would say "marry a person you don't WANT to live your life without." That implies a confidence and a choice to be together.  I would prefer to be with someone who WANTS to be with me to someone who can't be without me. 
I count myself lucky to walk beside a man who is generous, self confident and strong.  He has a good moral compass, and I would bet my left arm he woudn't cheat.  He is professionally successful, and personally comfortable in his own skin.  He strives to be a “good man”. 
Does that mean he’s perfect?  NO.  I don’t want perfect.  Perfect is boring.  I’ve said before, he’s just enough “bad boy” to keep me entertained, and our kids perpetually disgusted by the fact their parents are still… um… “active”…. And nothing could be more fun than making them squirm a little.
I don't WANT to live my life without him, and don't WANT to picture my life without him in it, but if he chose to leave me, or if I decided I needed a committment he wasn't able to give, I COULD, albeit unhappily. 
Am I perfect?  No… I just try to be grateful for all the lessons I’ve learned over the course of my life… and I try to be as charitable as possible…

I truly hope the now-reformed Bachelor gets everything he’s wished for in his new marriage… yup, all that, and THEN some… See, NOT perfect …

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

Fat and Happy!

Had a really interesting chat with a friend on Facebook this morning.  Yes, I'm supposed to be at work, but I have a presentation to do, and I'm having trouble with it... so... as you might surmise, I'm pulling my usual "Magpie" act and procrastinating.  Avoiding the inevitable because I have to do charts and graphs and spreadsheets and all that shit I have zero talent for or interest in.

My friend "Big I"... the same guy who asked me for a letter of reference I posted a while ago, is trying to rearrange his life so he can devote more time to writing.  He is extremely smart, funny and talented.  He is one of the smartest people I know, and I don't say that lightly. 

We started chatting about a writing project he's working on.  He’s compiling his Twitter posts about what it’s like to take public transit here.  It’s irreverent and funny as hell.  The perfect writing project to cut your teeth on. 

 We were discussing how hard it is to write when life is good… His comment about me,was "When you're happy you lose your “edge.”"  That led to discussing the fact that I've been super lazy about getting on here and…well…writing.  I find it extremely hard to write anything compelling when I'm happy.  I'm a far better writer when I'm miserable.  I told him not to worry too much, because “sooner or later I’ll find a way to fuck things up”.     

Life is pretty great for me right now.  I have a job I enjoy most days, love my friends and kids, and am really happy in my current relationship.  There is one thing I'm not completely happy about though…

While I don't feel a need to write as often, I am a prolific EATER when I'm happy. I've managed to put on about 10 ugly pounds since CG and I started our relationship 8 months ago!  Up until Christmas I was fat and happy... but we've booked a holiday in Mexico in early February, which is only about 5 weeks from now.  That means I have to drop the 10 bonus pounds, and could stand to lose an extra 5 for good measure.  That means another diet.  UGH!  Why couldn't I just be a genetic anomaly who stays naturally skinny, or a functional crack head or something?

When the dates of our vaycay were finalised I decided I'd better spend an evening trying on my summer clothes and bathing suits.... Um... Most of them were a LOT tighter than I remember, so I bit the bullet and decided to join that giant cult for weight loss.  The one that has everyone looking at food labels with their handy dandy calculator to determine just how much tasteless crap they can stuff in before they hit their limit.  CG is doing the program as well, which in some respects makes things easier, but I'm totally choked because he gets a lot more food than I'm allowed in a day.  I know he’s a man, and his metabolism is faster, and he’s bigger than me, blah, blah, blah.

On this diet, you're allowed to eat as many fruits and vegetables as you want per day, in addition to the limited real food you choose to eat.  I spent this morning chowing down on about half a pound of baby carrots, which is great, except that coupled with the banana, peaches and apples I had this morning has left me with enough methane build up to heat a small town. 

They don't warn you about this when you start a "healthy lifestyle"... It's healthy alright, unless someone lights a freaking match in my vicinity.  Thank GOD smoking isn't as popular as it used to be, or I'd be worried about taking out a city block. 

When I told you CG gets more real food than I do in a day, I didn't mention that because he's a guy, he needs to be grazing on way more fruits and veggies too... and double the raw food in, means he isn't immune to producing his own "noxious gas emissions".

We've discussed this side effect, but we're both modest enough that we don't like to run the risk of crapping ourselves in front of one another.  I've learned a whole new side of muscle control, because in his house, his en-suite bathroom door doesn't work properly.  The toilet is positioned so you could sit on it and make constant eye contact while your partner lies in bed if you wanted to.  The acoustics also allows for optimum sound transfer.  Can you say SEXY?

There has to be some cardinal law of Feng-shui that’s being violated by THAT little design detail.  I don't know if you've ever tried to pee sitting down without allowing any gas to escape your other orifice, but it requires some talent.

I love the guy, but I don’t think couples need to know every intimate detail about one another that way.  I’d love to maintain the aura that I don’t actually fart.  Ever.  Most women would I’m thinking.  We decided, when we started this plan, that we’d use a pill you’re supposed to eat with your first bite of veggies, and you won’t actually produce gas.  To be honest, I think this stuff, which is about 9 bucks a bottle, is selling a load of BS. 

The plan recommends exercise to help you get your metabolism up.  Sounds great, but I'm really worried if I were to start doing squats or anything else that requires exertion I'm gonna have trouble recognizing if I'm about to pass wind or actually shit myself....

Dieting is one thing that really doesn't make me blissfully happy, so I'm thinking I might be posting more often... this might just be the sort of boost I need... let's just pray the methane production settles down a bit once our systems are used to the increased fibre intake, but for now, I’ve got about a half pound of carrots to finish…


Tuesday, 29 November 2011

Residue buildup

Ok so one of the super-duper things about dating in "mid-life" is figuring out how to deal with the residue of a past marriage or relationship.  Yours AND that of your partner.

I've been divorced a long time.  I haven't ever wished I'd put more effort into bailing to try to save that sinking ship.  I gave it my all for 10 years, and figured that was long enough to spend on something that was never going to change.   I couldn't afford to stay in the home my ex and I built, so my boys and I started in a crappy rental, and as my financial situation changed, we've moved up a few times to get to where we are, so we didn't get super attached to our houses.  Moving makes it easy to jettison a lot of residue. 

CG has been through a similar situation, but has been in his home for many years.  His kids were very small when he and his wife chose that home to raise their family in.  There is sentiment attached to many things there. 

I haven't asked CG to change.  Really.  He is perfect for me just the way he is.  I have really appreciated the fact he's made some changes to his home and his life in order to accomodate me, but it's not because I've insisted. 

It's funny how women seem to attach sentimental  feelings to things more than a man will.  CG sized his wedding ring down to fit his pinky and has worn it since his divorce.  He didn't attach any meaning to it other than the fact he liked the ring. 

I liked my wedding ring too.  It was a gorgeous gold band hand made by my ex-husband, so rather than selling the gold, I sent it to my beautiful step-daughter for a right hand ring.  I just thought she might like the fact that her father made it, I had worn it, and it was made with gold from several of my dad's tie pins... I would never have put it on to wear again, because it signified a negative time in my life. 

Anyhow, rather than magpie-ing the way women will,  some time ago I asked CG if there was any significance to his wearing the ring.  He assured me there wasn't but I guess my asking got him thinking.  Last night he asked me if I noticed how much he's growing and changing... I said I had noticed a lot of things he'd done recently... Then he said, "Did you notice my hand?".  I hadn't noticed he wasn't wearing his ring....

His removing that ring meant a great deal to me.   He did it of his own accord, not at my insistance or suggestion, so it means so much more.  

That's the difference between the me I am now, and the me I was at 27.  When he told me there was no longer significance to the ring for him, I'd taken him at his word, and moved on.   Back then, I'd have shredded myself into a ball worrying about what wearing that ring meant, or why he had photos of his ex in his yearly albums or whatever else.  How do I know?  Because that's how old I was when I became a second wife... tough gig being second wife during my first marriage... 

The me I am now, realizes when he reminisces about his first significant girlfriend, or smiles at an old memory, it's ok.  I do the same thing from time to time.  It doesn't mean I'd go back to that person if they showed up on my doorstep, and more significantly, I don't feel threatened that HE would either.  I love my life now.  I love this man now, and I like myself way better than I did at 27.  CG and I are who we are now, because of the experiences we had in our life up until this moment. 

So... I'd like to acknowledge all the other women he's had relationships with.  That doesn't mean I want to meet them and become BFF's.  It also doesn't mean I won't feel a twinge if I meet them and they're prettier or skinnier than me. 

I don't have to like it when I know he's reminiscing about his time with another woman, but I appreciate the man he's become because of his relationships with them.  Most significantly his ex wife... She, more than any other ex, helped to shape him into the man I love. 

Like my ex, she left some permanent and very positive residue... beautiful kids.  Our children are living proof that we both lived and loved before.   Don't get me wrong..there are days I'd like MY 21 and 19 year old "residue" to get school finished, move out and start their adult lives, but they're the sort of residue I hope keeps coming back...  To VISIT....


Friday, 25 November 2011

I'm so thankful it's nauseating. Really.

I realize writing when life is really good is probably way less engaging than when my life sucks and I have a big, fat target on my back, but my life these days is just how I hoped it could be.  I realize I’ve had my teeth kicked out and handed to me more than once, but instead of waiting for that to happen, I’m enjoying what life has become.  For the first time in my life, I’m feeling secure.  

Yesterday, I discovered a great song writer.  Shazam-ed a song in the middle of Michaels’ Craft store… hadn’t heard it before, and just fell in love with the guy’s voice.  The song is called “My Favorite” by Gabe Dixon.  It just caught my heart, and expresses pretty succinctly how I feel… that led to feeding my iTunes addiction in purchasing the whole CD… which has quickly become my favorite playlist.  Yes, I’m sentimental as hell… and found myself in tears more than oncelistening to “Even the Rain”, just absolutely overwhelmed by my good fortune.  So here’s my plug for the day… go to iTunes, and listen to this guy. 

I think having lived through absolute Hell a year ago has given me a new perspective.  That hell started in October, when my father was diagnosed as having terminal cancer.  We thought he’d beaten it, but it came back with a vengeance, putting him and my family into a world of hurt, with the crescendo Christmas Day when my dad left us.   When my relationship ended just two weeks after my dad’s death, I think I was about as low as I could get.  I couldn’t see how there could possibly be an end to the pain…

Slowly, though, things started to get better… I’d started seeing a counselor earlier in the year when I recognized my then boyfriend and I had some communication issues.  She realized long before I did that relationship was a dead horse, and I was wasting my time.  She also realized I was ready to have someone in my life who saw my value, and would appreciate my nature.  She knew I had to mourn not just my dad, but the death of my long distance relationship, so she led me through that dark place and encouraged me to look forward.

When she decided I needed to “get out there” in April, I thought she was crazy.  I didn’t feel ready, but she could see the rust had begun falling from my heart, and it was time to feel again.  She assigned homework.  I was to join a dating site and get out there into the land of the living again.  I did what she asked with a great deal of trepidation and dark humor.  I hated every second of being online, but started a dialogue with about 3 or 4 men with whom I seemed to have something in common, but the “fit” just wasn’t there. 

Then I came across a profile that had something in it I found interesting way beyond the one photo of a smiling dark haired man.  I generally didn’t make first contact with anyone online, but with him I chose to send a “wink”… basically a lamo little notification that I’d found his profile interesting.  

He wrote me an articulate, warm email about a week later.  Just long enough that I’d given up on hearing from him, so it was a pleasant surprise.  We exchanged a couple of emails back and forth, and then decided to meet.  We’d both been through a few disastrous meet and greets, so neither of us was expecting to have things go well... but they did. 

Our timing was interesting... that first meeting took place on Friday the 13th.  Turns out it was a pretty lucky day for me.  The instant I saw "CG" as he’s become known, I just knew this date, at least, was going to be fun.  3.5 hours later, when he realized he had to go rescue his poor cats who were tethered in his back yard, I think we knew we had potential.  I was absolutely sure I wanted to spend a lot more time with him. 

We have spoken on the phone, texted and/or seen each other every day since, and every single day, I can’t wait to hear his voice or see him.  He is the first person I want to call to share good news with, and he’s who I turn to for advice or a laugh.  He gets me.  I get him.   It’s good.  As good as it gets.

This Sunday we will have our 5th Biweekly Sunday dinner as a "family".  We all just seem to fit.  As much as I wish our weekends lasted much longer, I look forward to those Sunday afternoons.  We’ve had small dinners with as few as 5 of us, but the last two have been much larger… our kids like each other, and have started to bring their friends along to enjoy a good meal and conversation. 

CG and I sit there like parents do, enjoying the fact that our kids, his neice and friends are there, enjoying the banter, the laughter and stories… the best part, is they have all expressed how they want to start eating together EVERY Sunday.  CG figures they want to spend time with each other, and we just happen to provide the food and location, but being a big suck, I like to believe they enjoy the time with us too…

I know our kids are happy to see us happy.  My oldest told me the other day, that he really likes the feeling of family and belonging.  I couldn’t have said it better myself.  One day, I look forward to having my step kids from my marriage and their partners and children there to join us.

Why do I deserve this any more than my beautiful girlfriends who are still out there trying to find the place they belong?  I don’t.  I realize how fortunate I’ve been.  I hope with all my heart that each and every one of them will find what I have right now.  I hope, too, that CG and I are able to keep the momentum going.  I simply love this man.  I have never felt so cared for, and I’m truly 100% happy for the first time ever.