Uncategorized

IN MY MIND

IN MY MIND

As a non married woman by choice, buying or leasing a brand new high end and high performance car without a man by my side, also by choice, is a psychological mind twist. I have only owned two other high end cars. My first one was a Cooper Mini Convertible, purchased when they were barely out of the showroom. As most of my car purchases have been in my young life, it was impulsive. They usually are. But this Cooper was the car that defined a unique time in my life. My business and life felt successful, I had just turned forty and I had learned independence, oddly, through the security of my marriage. This convertible was filled with all of the bells and whistles that a sports car could have, chrome everything, six speed manual and I felt like I was in a James Bond movie every time I placed my hand on the almost sexual, smooth and velvety round knob that was the shifter. That car was amazing, completely impractical unless it was a perfect summer day in July. Winters, forget it, terrible. I didn’t have a garage and snow an ice were not good companions for this car. It would have been a great second car, but even I knew this was not practical, the narrative in my head said so. I cried the day I traded it in. My son, who I think was about eight at the time, looked at me with his big brown wisdom filled eyes and said, Mom, it’s only a car. Touché. Out of the mouths of babes, surely.

Five years later, when Dave and I were going through our divorce, I got into a slight accident, distracted, not paying attention and actually side swiped a parked car. If that wasn’t the universe telling me to slow the hell down, I don’t know what else could. It was a week before my son’s Bar Mitzvah and my car would be in the shop for at least three weeks. This seemed like a perfect time to buy a new car, actually a used car, the first used car I ever bought as an adult. This car was big, bold and totally not me at all, whatever the hell that is supposed to mean, I mean seriously we are talking cars here. It was one of steroid type Lexus SUVS and it drove like an airplane taking off on a trip to Europe. Smooth, sleek and really big. The sound system alone made the car worth the purchase and this was by far the stupidest purchase I had ever made. I thought my soon to be ex husband was going to have a stroke when he saw me driving this thing. It cost well over sixty dollars to fill the tank, only got about sixteen miles to the gallon and I think it was around the time that gas prices were headed to over four dollars. There was talk about the apocalypse coming and with a car that only got sixteen miles to the gallon, impractical was an understatement. When I picked my grandparents up at the airport in this thing, I am sure they thought their oldest granddaughter had lost her mind. After all our family drove Prius’ and practical, understated cars. We didn’t drive Lexus’. At least the Cooper wasn’t as in your face as the Lexus so I got by with that because it was also compact, small, non gas guzzling, responsible.

That Lexus lasted about six months, I never should have bought it and it cost me dearly to get out of it. Being the queen of rationalization, though I traded it in for a very family approved pragmatic Prius. That car fit my family’s personal narrative surely. Plus it got like five hundred miles to a tank of gas and the amount of money I saved on gas alone each month more than compensated me for the loss. This car though fabulous on gas had terrible pick up and no power, but it took me through my son’s high school years. When my friend came home with a VW golf, I decided to trade in the Prius and get one. This car, still small, had pick up, was good on gas and was a sporty little reasonable automobile. Meanwhile my son was driving one of my favorite cars ever, bought in 2002, one of the first Toyota Highlanders. I had traded in my Camry what seemed like a lifetime ago back then and bought this car on a five year loan. I remember leaving the auto dealer that evening. I had installed the car seat in the back and strapped Michael in and he and I looked at each other. I briefly thought, wow so much can happen in five years. My brother had been gone for seven years and I was definitely a deeper thinker since his loss. Car payments for five years had a definite calendar awareness of life coming at you.

Last week, though, the Highlander finally gave out. Of course my son is living off campus this year so he needs a car. Putting the Highlander out of commission is sad actually. This car has been our family vehicle when we were a family, it was a beat around car for Dave when we got divorced so he could grieve in the way he knew, gardening and lawn and tinkering outside. The car came back to me when our son needed a car for high school and then became the car to pack up when Michael headed to college. We thought the Highlander would get us all through the entire college years, but this week we learned this would not be so. My son needed a car and though I am completely aware he could well buy his own car and this could give him one of those textbook life lessons, I didn’t want to. I wanted to give him my Volkswagon as a gift.

My son has already had some good life lessons in his young life, parents going through a divorce, witnessing the death of our Aunt by taking her off of life support, his mother having breast cancer twice, and watching his grandmother stop speaking to his mother to name a few. No- these are not life and death life experiences, but as I recall my own twenties, this is my way of making up for it giving him an easier way to enter his twenty first year. In leasing a new car this past week I have been listening to the non stop chatter in my head that seems to consistently scream words like irresponsible, careless, will you ever learn, silly and the volume of other negativity to somehow be a voice of reason. I don’t know whose voice this is, but the difference this time around is that I have witnessed it from a different perspective. I am my own power. No one has any over me, I am not going to “get in trouble” for buying a car or buying anything for that matter and this chatterbox is from a long ago past. It is a judgmental sour sound that creates feelings of lack and guilt and serves no purpose. I release the voice. I have my own voice now and the way I use it is important. Many women I speak with have these feelings about items they have purchased, from the smallest trinket to buying furniture for their homes, there is some sound in our heads that go off like a fire alarm. We are brought up surrounded by messages to shop and buy and fill and then we feel guilty when we spend. It is a weird conundrum, perhaps it is self protection, but ultimately it is harmful, at least to me.

When I stand at the shoreline, I am struck by how vast the sea is, I often see myself with a bucket trying to collect the water or the sand and no matter how much I scoop, the ocean and the beach still look exactly the same. There is plenty. There is enough. Life is abundant. These are the messages I replace the ornery cranky ones with. My partner has a sign that says, “Don’t believe everything you think.” When those negative lack themed thoughts arise, I replace them with I am enough, I am always divinely protected and cared for and life is abundant. I am aware that abundance takes action too, you can’t just wish for it, but what I do know is when I replace negative thinking with a positive one, I feel better, more open, more calm. And amazing life gifts come my way. These are the little life nuggets that help quell that chatterhead. Time is short, buy the car, own your life and live on the edge occasionally, it wakes up the soul with a brightness that even the sun can’t compete with.


life is short, enjoy the ride, there is plenty to go around.
Uncategorized

BRAZEN AND BADASS

BRAZEN AND BADASS

“I’ve been through the desert on a horse with no name, it felt good to be out of the rain,” or is it out in the rain? It’s a desert so I’m thinking that it is out of the rain, but I’ll pay closer attention next time the song blasts on. When that America song comes on the radio, regardless of the correct phrase, I am five, in the front seat of my mother’s pale yellow triumph, top folded down by unsnapping it before we left because automatic tops didn’t exist except in James Bond movies. My mother endlessly smoking from the familiar blue and white box of Parliaments, one after the other. She lit them with the automatic lighter provided as standard along with the ashtray to collect the cigarettes looking carefree as she and I headed towards Third Beach, to meet her friend Ann and Ann’s son who was about my age. I can smell the ocean and the salty breeze in our hair as we sped down the road listening to America and Carol King belt out familiar tune after tune.

My mother was only twenty-five when I was five, but it never occurred to me that anything was particularly odd or young about this. I am not sure where my brother was or if she was still pregnant with him but when I do the math, she would have had to have been at least six or seven months pregnant. I am sure with my good memory I would have recalled this. So he was either born already and would have been seven months and home with someone and this would have made me six instead of five and it would have been the summer of 1971 instead of 1970. Or he wasn’t born yet and therefore I was four and it was 1969. This is sad to me because I don’t recall a lot of my brother’s presence in my young life; there was a bit of invisibility to him. Of course there could have been the possibility he was tucked away in the little back area of the Triumph, a definite consideration because there weren’t many child safety laws back then. Regardless, my beach memories are some of the fondest ones I recall when it comes to me and my mother, Ann. These memories unfold with a gentle smile like the black and white Kodak prints locked away in the five or six yellowy albums Ann gave me when she moved to North Carolina almost the same day I announced my engagement. At least that is what it felt like at the time, Ann always running, farther and farther.

Mother daughter relationships are layered with complexity. Add to this recipe alcoholism and a slew of other emotional injuries and our relationship’s potential became weaker and less likely the older we became. The further away I am from my mother though, I have a more objective view of how I move and dance with my mother who doesn’t want to have a relationship with her only surviving daughter. For the most part since the words came in that stark and abrupt email, “I prefer you never contact me again,” almost three years ago, the untangling of her hold on my emotional state has been one of freedom and release. She might say the same thing about me; I readily admit that we both didn’t bring out the best in each other. In a sad and unraveling way, it has been healthier for both of us.

But I still miss her. I have reached out and have attempted to break that awkward silence by those damaging words. She in turn has responded in her own way and for this rare communication, I feel like at least the relationship cannot be labeled as estranged. Estranged feels immature, permanent, unforgiving, unapologetic. This is not who I am. So we both seem to accept the space between us and realize that this is probably as good as it ever is going to get. I know I have broken the cycle of abrupt family endings by having a strong relationship with my son and my former husband and the life we had and have now. The thing about Ann though, is that she is a part of me, whether we agree with each other, whether we judge each other or feel frustrated by either of our behavior. She shows up in ways I have grappled with despite countless Alanon meetings and therapy sessions trying to learn what it is about me that I can control or change.

My mother has used shopping to fill the hole in her heart for as long as I remember, way before my brother died, way before my father left. This was my example. When the going gets tough, go shopping, Ann could have written this mantra. In Ann’s case, to be more specific, it would be when the going gets tough, buy a new car. When I was a young girl, we had lots of different cars, so it will likely come as no surprise that I have the same contagious problem when I am relationship triggered. I wish I could recognize the fall down the rabbit hole before I ended up at the car dealer signing on the dotted line, but this time around, once again, I ignored the signs right in front of me that caused the tornado.

This time it is different; this time I changed the narrative. This time when the blah blah voice on my right shoulder came up to scold me for being irrational or irresponsible, I stood tall and looked at that voice, hands on hips, legs firmly planted, thigh muscles contracted and said, Whose voice is that anyway? Whose voice does that belong to? And why do I get these out of body commands to buy a car anyway? What is the trigger? Like Ann leaving, one of my oldest and dearest friends abruptly left too, without so much as a note; I know this is the trigger, this is the familiar way I deal with grief and loss. This is why the feelings come up because it connects me to my mother for a fleeting moment; there is a familiar rush with it. And during this whirlwind, I forget that I am the grown up superchick who has basically raised herself and raised a business with these two strong hands on her own. If I want to throw all cares to the wind and buy a new car, or in this case, lease one, I am a grown woman who gets to unabashedly make this choice. I am not five, I am fifty three, getting closer to my mid fifties by the minute and I can’t get into trouble by anyone. There is no timeout or punishment for my decisions, rash, planned or everything in between. It is the first time I have looked at that voice and challenged it and the freedom that washed over me stabilized my core like a long held warrior pose as I stood up to this familiar voice. At Last.

I can feel sad and feel grief and for a change not punish myself for the ways I deal with that grief. As soon as I challenged this blithering voice, it went back in its shell, and I marched forth, brazen and bad ass with a new bat mobile in my driveway. I wish I could call Ann and tell her. She would be laughing with her infectious laugh and would likely recognize that despite our distance, we do share some similarities. It is those that I miss.

Yep.
Uncategorized

THE PENDULUM SWING

THE PENDULUM SWING

My constitution is off; I can feel it. The pleasure of getting to know my body as a science project for the last seven or eight years, studying what makes it tick has opened my eyes when something is not quite right. And something is not quite right. I have lost my zazzle for my vigorous workouts, not keeping the morning workout routine I have loved and cherished. I have been eating carbohydrates like a bear getting ready for her winter cave of hibernation and sleep. I am constipated, literally holding on to old shit as I like to think of it as an esoteric message waiting for a literal and figurative breakthrough. All of this has led to a spending spree as these lapses in my life usually do- (thankfully, not a new car, though truth be told, I have been contemplating one) this time, an obsession with typewriters, buying them, typing on them and creating a new business with them as the centerpiece. Yin and Yang, one extreme to the other and I wish the pendulum would just park somewhere in the center of the swing to allow me the joy I felt again from routine and healthy eating that gives me a sense of inner strength and an unstoppable force to be reckoned with.

I feel like the word, grey. Not battleship grey, absent of tone and vibrancy, but the type of grey laced with blues and purples, like a fading bruise, but not yet where the yellowy brown tones have started to show. This too shall pass, it always does, but in this whirlwind of staring off into space thinking about working out and planning my next eating plan, I signed up for a painting class. Not a painting class that is filled with structure and discipline, that is surely not my style, but an expressive arts painting class. Expressive arts in general has been part of my personal fabric since one of my first life and business mentors, Judy Chaves turned me on to its power when I was a mere twenty five. It blends creation of art, all types with guided visualizations and breath work. Its premise is to allow the heart to message and guide rather than that lovely and talkative brain of ours. The theory is that the heart is as wisdom filled as our brain, but because our brain is a perpetual chatterbox, we often don’t allow the heart enough quiet to give it room to speak.

I am a believer in its transformative process and there has not been a time when I have not had a seismic shift in my life after taking a class. Yesterday’s class was no different. The challenge of expressive arts is, in fact, to get you out of your head, to not try to “make” a piece of art, to not intentionally draw what you see in your quiet moment, but to allow whatever movement happens on paper and then go beyond. Usually with the nudge of the instructor, in this case the same art therapist that taught me at my first class twenty eight years ago, another major mentor, Susan Fox.

This class yesterday was a messy one. Painting with acrylics, using our fingers, our hands, our fingernails, stepping way out of our comfort zones with humming and movement in a room filled with like minded women all going through some sort of their own shit. Likely no accident that it collided with the day before the bad ass full moon called The Harvest Moon, a moon symbolic of gathering, storing and getting ready for the upcoming winter. A moon filled with light to clean up our gardens, pull out our jackets and start picking apples for the pies yet to be made and crock pot stews yet to be eaten.

We made four pieces of art yesterday and as I put my pastel to paper and moved my hand with my eyes closed, I shed my first tear. It came quick, because I was ready. This is the beauty of grieving loss and the transformation that can occur in its midst, I am in tune with my body, my heart and my needs so tears are exactly the release that my body needs but they don’t come on demand. Art is often their prompt for me. We also had to use our non dominant hands for both the art and the words we had to write on the paper that inevitably come up in the process. It baffles me how much I got out of this simple paradigm shift and my art was all the better for it. And this is a process, there is no beginning or end, no thing to check off our lists as Done, let’s move on. Grief doesn’t allow this; perhaps it wanes like the moon, but it also comes back in full force when it is least expected like the full light of tonight’s Harvest.

My work yesterday was not something I had planned or organized into a neat to do list to accomplish. If this is what you are looking for in Expressive Arts, then you need to sign up for a class pronto because expressive arts takes you away from that incessant female need many of us over achieving super chicks struggle with, those three elusive P’s -planning, progress and perfection. Expressive arts is about giving yourself permission for presence, process, and patience. And it is life changing every time. For anyone out there reading this where the thought of humming and movement and painting makes your stomach curdle like bad milk, take it as a sign that it is more likely just what the cosmic doctor ordered.

I have been feeling dark lately, my immune system has been compromised and as a result, I came down with a whopper of a two day stomach bug, a rare occurrence for someone who doesn’t usually get sick (except for that pesky breast cancer diagnosis, but I am for some reason not counting this in the sickness category). No surprise though because my personality usually warrants an on my knees sickness to actually give myself permission to rest. I know how ridiculous this sounds, but I have come to grips with my perpetual sense of urgency that life is short and I have a lot to accomplish. On the other side though is the full awareness that without my health, life is short and there is nothing I can accomplish. Ahh the struggle, the process. Trying to understand why an old friend decided she would no longer be an old friend in almost the same twisted way my mother decided that she no longer wanted me to contact her again ever, is the grief. Time though does assist and so does the art so here I am today feeling full with light, no longer constipated and moving through, gently and kindly. It is okay to take a rest, a nap, this was what I got out of my art yesterday, to stop being such a nag to myself and just accept where I am right now is exactly where I need to be.




in order of how I made them, I fully realize that I won’t be giving up my day job anytime soon, but this is not the point, right….?
Uncategorized

NOT THAT BAD

NOT THAT BAD

It seemed like the one liner I heard over and over again after I delivered my son almost twenty one years ago was, “As time goes by, you forget the pain of the delivery and you will want another one.” I definitely forgot the pain of the delivery, but there was no way I wanted another. One was plenty. I knew myself well back at thirty-three and I knew with all of my heart, that I wouldn’t have been a good mother to more than one. And as my son approaches the momentous occasion of twenty-one with the world as his oyster boldly in front of him, I love that decision more every year because I love his being more every year.

As we mothers know, the pain in delivery is only the beginning of motherhood and frankly I am in awe of every mother who decides to do it again. Motherhood was a roller coaster ride of emotions, guilt, joy, worry, panic, love, like, oh my God what have I done and will I ever be able to go the grocery store or take a shower again feelings that moved in and out and up and down and through my heart from one moment to the next. The emotions on any given day varied, challenging my thinking, my esteem, my validity and my abilities in the role of mom, wife, woman and human being.

Another tagline typical of moms with kids that were older than mine was “Wait till they go to kindergarten, school flies by.” Then from the much older moms whose children were my son’s age at the time, “Enjoy every moment, time goes by in a nanosecond.” I couldn’t imagine this when my son was screaming at five pm every night and I couldn’t settle him, no matter what. I never thought that five years would pass until he got to kindergarten, but it did and here we are, junior year in college all of a sudden.Time did go by in a nanosecond. Turns out, time did fly by and it seems to be accelerating every day as I am hungrier to accomplish more and more.

In an odd juxtaposition, breast cancer was like this too. Approaching my first full year of the final reconstruction surgery this September feels in some ways like it did when I had Michael. I have almost forgotten all of the bad parts. The drains, the discomfort, the numbness in my entire upper body, my loss of upper back strength, my self awareness of the fakeness of what is now my very upright and pointy wonder woman boobs that adorn my body like a fifties pin up poster. I finally feel like myself again, only better and it wasn’t that bad.

Now this all being said, I reiterate, I never had chemo, my breast cancer was caught early two times and I have done preventative surgery to take out those pesky ovaries hoping to shut down that wild and untamed estrogen my bad ass body loves to produce. Every single woman is different and by no means is this being written for anyone who is going through this shitty ordeal or has gone through it or has a friend or a sister or a mom who is about to go through this to compare their experience to.

It sucked, it was painful, it was traumatic and awful while I was in the quagmire, but I am still here. And it wasn’t that bad. As I get ready to celebrate the first full year of the last part of my whirlwind ride with my new boobs, I can’t believe it has been a year. Like being a mom to an almost twenty one year old, time has blasted forward in a time travel capsule to another dimension. I have a hunger for learning and writing and creating that I never imagined and I know it is because of this breast cancer experience. There is both a sense of urgency to gain knowledge about so many things I have no knowledge of and I am in awe at the magnitude of what I don’t know. The twist of this urgency though is the calmness and peace I also feel. Panic and fear has left this building I call my body and my non-stop ever working mind. Of course I still have moments of anxious thinking, who doesn’t, but the knowing is a constant that everything works out in the divine right order and the endless lists I love to write get done when they are supposed to.

Perhaps these feelings are the trifecta of new boobs coupled with getting closer to fifty five and having a son turn twenty one… and menopause… and realizing over and over that no one gets out alive. This is humbling as I navigate my way through the maze of my life as calm and joyous as humanly possible. Good Old Dr. Hottie, (remember him?) assured me at the very first, and very frightening at the time, consultation that when this one year mark came, I would look in the mirror and say holy crap, Alayne, those are some seriously awesome tits, (actually he never said that, but he should have). What he said was that it would take a full year to feel like myself again.

What he didn’t say is how much better I feel than I thought I would.

It took me almost five years to feel like myself again when I became a new mom, now Michael heads to the half way mark of college and he has a mom who gets to be alive to witness it. This is the gift and for this, I can’t express enough gratitude.