Lead Me Not Into False Expectations

“Every new beginning comes from some other beginning’s end” -Semisonic

It’s another New Year, another time for new beginnings, resolutions (if you’re into that sort of thing) and a blank page in a yet unwritten book. I am wary of making resolutions due to the fact they are usually slightly unrealistic. If I were to make a resolution that I wouldn’t go all Hulk-like in traffic, but I had done nothing to change my frame of mind or manage my emotions, then I’m fairly certain my effort would be met with failure, or at the very least an inability to magically transform my commute from December 31, 2016 to January 1, 2017. When you think about it, it’s really just a change from one calendar to another; from a Sunday to a Monday. If my resolution is to not drink but I have a full cupboard of alcohol that I see every time I reach for a glass, it will be more difficult to not grab that bottle and have “just one” drink. If I haven’t dug deep to find out the “why” behind the drinking then my resolution is dependent upon my mood; if my mood goes dark and dangerous and I haven’t developed any healthy coping skills, then guess what? Chug-a-lug. Another great reason for my resolutions to fail is that I make them based on what I think I should do, not what I really want to do. Making a resolution to lose weight, so that the hot guy I have a huge crush on will notice (and hopefully fall in love with) me. Making a resolution to start attending mass on a regular basis because my parents (God rest their souls) would be pleased, as they look down upon me from Heaven. Or even better, so that I can get in God’s good grace and therefore avoid the fiery alternative. These are all great resolutions, as great as resolutions can be, but they are doomed to be unsuccessful if I haven’t invested in them long before January 1st.

I prefer to set intentions rather than resolutions. They are much more forgiving, loosely defined and honestly, give me an out if things don’t go according to plan.

in·ten·tion
inˈten(t)SH(ə)n/
noun
1.
a thing intended; an aim or plan.
“she was full of good intentions”
2.
MEDICINE
the healing process of a wound.

– Google Search

I love the second definition because the majority of my intentions do involve the healing and recovering from wounds, be it physical or emotional. My intention is to forgive those who have wounded me, but that may take not days, but years. My intention is to forgive myself for the wounds I have inflicted on others. My intention is to accept my faults and failures and love myself unconditionally, which will be my intention for every New Year until my Last Year.

I feel the danger in resolutions is that they lead us into false expectations; by changing my physical appearance, I will find love. By doing things for others, I will be accepted and loved. It’s not the resolution so much as it is the expected outcome. Realistically losing weight will not guarantee that the hot guy falls in love with me, especially if he’s gay, married or simply not interested. Not drinking alcohol is a great resolution, but there is much more involved than just not raising a glass to my lips. Forgiving others is a great idea, but that means letting go of old hurts and grudges. If they have been your constant companion for years and help you to feel righteous in your belief that they are in the wrong, then it will take much more effort than simply thinking you forgive them. One must take personally responsibility for their role in what happened and own up to it. My dad used to say, “It’s not the making of a mistake that should embarrass a person, so much as their failure to benefit from it.”

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Learning from mistakes so that we don’t make the same ones over and over is more helpful (in my experience) than making a resolution that is unrealistic.

So, Happy New Year to one and all! May this year bring you comfort when you’re distressed, company when you’re lonely, a hand to hold when you’re frightened and a safe harbor during Life’s many storms; the courage to face your fears, the strength to slay your dragons and the faith to believe that there is more to Life than just crossing days off the calendar and making unrealistic expectations. Peace and love to you all!

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Words of Wisdom

Just wanted to share some words of wisdom from my dad, which I didn’t appreciate enough at the time.

Two wrongs don’t make a right

I was really upset about a Mean Girl at school and came home in a black fury, spewing venemous threats of violence against her and how she was going to pay for that. My dad heard all the ruckus and asked what on Earth had me so upset; I explained the situation and through my tears of hurt and anger, I plotted my revenge and the bloodlust drowned out any humanity I may have possessed. My dad (used to this and thus unfazed) explained to me that just because she was mean didn’t give me license to abandon my morals and “get in the gutter” with her. He went on to explain that evil works that way; it appeals to the ego, the vanity of the person and lures you down a road of hate, violence and loss of compassion or reason. “Two wrongs don’t make a right, Michelle, no matter what your reasoning. Be the bigger person; turn the other cheek and forgive them or you will be the one who suffers, not her” were his words of wisdom to me. Easier said than done, which leads me to

Anything worth having won’t be easily gotten 

I wanted to learn how to work the speed bag (always trying to keep up with my brothers) but it was difficult; my knuckles were red and sore, my arms were tired and felt like lead. I was two seconds away from bursting into tears when my dad came in. He took one look at me and told me to come outside with him so we could talk about it.He explained to me that the things that come to us easily are not necessarily good things; anything that is worth having will require hard work, dedication and a desire to overcome all the obstacles keeping us from what we want. He said this will help me to realize what is important and what is not. If I am not willing to the hard work, I will only make it so far before I encounter some difficulty; if I turn around and go back, I have accomplished nothing but taken a leisurely stroll and then came back, empty handed. But if I dig in and do the hard work, get through the obstacle, I will reach my goal and I will have the confidence that comes with overcoming obstacles, facing fears and standing strong. A half an hour later, I went back into the family room determined to master the speed bag, no matter how bloody, bruised and painful my hands became. And I did.

There are many, many more but these are the ones I find truth in even today, especially after the events around the world that have been unfolding and will continue to do so.

“Resentment is like drinking poison then hoping it will kill your enemies” -Nelson Mandela

Food Circus, Dad and Veterans Day

Whenever I was in trouble, or in need of a heart-to-heart discussion (need as defined by my father) it was known without saying it that said discussion would take place where all Important Discussions should take place and that would be Food Circus. Now, to the uninformed, this may conjure up images of people selecting their meal by pointing to whatever cage held whatever type of dinner. This is in fact incorrect. Nor is it an “End of Life” circus where performing animals are the main course. Food Circus was a collection of International Restaurants (think American International) that included German, Italian, Filipino (Anna Banana’s) and a Hof Brau (not the same as the German restaurant) and a gift shop that made transfer t-shirts that said cute things like “Kiss Me I’m Irish” or “Mom and Dad went to California and all I got was this stupid T-shirt” type of stuff. A florist, a gourmet grocery store, (Corti Brothers) a watch repair shop, a donut shop, awesome candy store (Snook’s Candies, now in Folsom, on Sutter Street). Last, but not least was Jumbo’s Coffee Shop.
Our family would go there after church on Sunday for donuts and coffee (orange juice for the little ones). When I was in my Rebel Without A Clue days, I worked with Dad on a business venture and we would take breaks at Food Circus (or Food Zoo as Big Brother #3 renamed it) because of course my dad smoked and back in the 1970’s you could smoke wherever you damn well pleased. So it was cup of coffee, 3 cigarettes, a refill cup, then 3-4 more smokes. Needless to say, Dad got 110% out of me those days. I was wired for sound and all he had to do was give me direction and turn me loose. That was the beginning of my love affair with cigarettes, coffee and going fast, in general. Food Circus is now The Marketplace at Arden Fair mall and has a very nice restaurant, movie theaters, a couple of chain-type restaurants and looks nothing like it did then. But I can just close my eyes and I can be there again, sitting across the table from my dad, listening to his day and comprehending about 10% of what he said and filling in the blanks by reading his face, his body language and listening to his tone. I can smell the strange yet familiar scent of all those restaurants, the burning coffee left on the warmer too long, the cigarette smoke blending with the men’s cologne and the ladies’ perfumes, vying for attention. That was where I received my education, the gifts that my father bestowed upon me, little pearls of wisdom lost on a teenager so certain her parents were irrelevant and knew nothing about Life as she knew it. I’m grateful every day that I grew out of that phase and spoke at great length with my father later in life. My father outlived Food Circus and we moved our talks to different places, but those days will always stay with me and I will treasure them for the gift they were.
My father served in the Air Force and I believe that his life wouldn’t be what it was without the life experience and education he received while serving. This Veterans Day I would like to give thanks to those who fought for us, before many of us were even born, so that we could enjoy simple yet profoundly precious moments like those I had with my father. Thank you is not enough; I don’t know if there is anything that words can say to express the depth of my gratitude, but words are all I have, so thank you. All of you.

Building Mr. Right

I have been thinking for a while about diving into the waters of the dating world again and as always, I ask myself what kind of man is it that I’m looking for? If I could build Mr. Right what parts and pieces would go into his creation? Kind of like a puzzle but with body parts, personality, moral and ethical laws and whatever form of spirituality he may possess. That led me to thinking about the men in my life; past, present, good, bad, ugly, beautiful, sad, bad & everything in between. What was it about the Bad Boy that made me so weak in the knees? What was it about the Desperate to Please that made me so irritated? Why did I immediately like that guy, only to find out that he was a liar, (note to cheating married men – we can go online to see if your “divorce” actually happened, so quit being dumb asses and telling such pathetic, easily verifiable lies) why is it that the perfectly available, ready to settle down, single guy makes me want to jab my eyes out to break the monotony of listening to this safe, clinically sane man who is more in love with himself than he will ever be with any other human being bore me to tears with his painfully dull monologue about how great he is? All these things considered I came up with the following:

My dad, was of course, the first man in my life and to say that we had a complicated relationship would be akin to saying the sinking of the Titanic was an unimportant event in history or that the parting of the Red Seas was a neat trick (ok atheists – settle down over there) neither does them justice or tells the whole truth. At any rate, my dad had some outstanding traits such as he was a “thinking man” who loved the Greek philosophers, debating pretty much anything and had a thirst for knowledge that was unquenchable. He spoke to me as an adult, even when I was a child. He gave me the belief that I had something to offer in any conversation, regardless of content or who the participants were. He never treated me like I was “just a girl” or “little Princess” (thank God!!!!) so I grew up a tomboy, blissfully unaware about gender roles, as they applied to me. I was able to hit the speed bag just as well as my brothers when I needed to blow off some steam; Dad knew that my temper would be my downfall and tried to give me healthy ways to deal with it. However, Dad was also an alcoholic for the first 20-some odd years of my life, was an unhappily married man for most of those years (yeah, my poor choices in men are no longer a mystery) and I’ve been there, done that and have no desire to return. So married would go to the top of my “Non-Desirable/Deal-Breaker Traits” list.

All of my five brothers were the next important men in my life and I could fill a book with what they taught me. But the traits I admire the most are their very unique and individual senses of humor, their tenaciousness and ferocity in protecting those they love. They are good husbands, fathers, uncles, friends and of course, brothers.

My first husband, who taught me that I was worth loving, that there was a man in the world who could look past all the Crazy and see something worthy of love; that man had patience beyond saintly. He was the first man who would have stuck by me through better or worse, in sickness and in health; truly until death do you part. So naturally, I was terrified that I was responsible for yet another person’s happiness and blew that relationship to smithereens. However, all I need to do is look into our son’s eyes to know that it happened for a beautiful reason, a wonderful gift of life and love. He has since remarried and is living happily, hopefully drama-free and enjoying the life he chose to live.

Along with my brothers, my dear friend JJ would be the next hugely important man in my life; because of him I found the courage to seek out sobriety, to see myself in an entirely different way and to appreciate the small, beautiful, everyday things that I’d always taken for granted before meeting him. His friendship was solid gold, true blue and forever; no false platitudes or sugar-coating from him. You never had to ask him what he thought because he would just tell it like it was, the good, the bad and the painful to hear because it was true.

The other men I’m just going to let them remain nameless, to protect the guilty and the innocent alike. One of them, let’s call him Walt, always loved taking off on spontaneous trips (which I would never even consider) to places nearby for a weekend or even just a day. On the down side, he was a freak off his leash, meaning he couldn’t keep “It” in his pants. Another man, who we will call Tom, taught me about living life Post Divorce, how to survive when your kid is in another state, with another woman raising him, who is a complete stranger. This man had infinite patience with me and more love and kindness than I could have ever hoped for. On the down side, he was married, so yeah. You see the pattern, right? Good stuff, not so good stuff. There are more men who taught me to enjoy fine wine, music I had never listened to, books I’d never read, movies I’d never seen. The varied and infinite degrees of love, the different chemistry, the short or long lasting fascination with each other; all different, but all playing important roles in the Story of My Life.

So, to sum it up, I would love to meet a man who is patient, fearless, loyal, kind, generous, not married, hopefully sober with a great sense of humor but doesn’t take himself too seriously, is forgiving, loves and appreciates the small things in life, has some battle scars and war wounds but is a survivor, a fighter fighting the good fight. Of course, he can’t be perfect, so he’ll have some flaws or some issues he’s working on, as we all do. Or he snores, leaves the toilet seat up, turns the toilet paper roll the opposite way I do or doesn’t put a new roll in when the old one runs out and instead sets the new one on top of the empty one? Maybe he has a Man Cave that no cleaning products or vacuum cleaners are allowed in. Maybe he likes gangster rap (hold on; that may be a deal-breaker) or listens to Fox News (ok – maybe another deal-breaker) or maybe he cross-dresses. Who knows? The point is that there is no Mr. Right; there certainly is Mr. Right Now but we’ve met and he’s not for me.

I guess I’m looking for Mr. Right for Me.