Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Spiritual, but not religious

When you join internet dating sites, they always ask you to state your religious beliefs using canned phrases. There was a time in my life when I would have checked atheist. I was so empty spiritually I doubted everything. But somehow this always felt wrong. Deep inside there was a tiny piece of me that wanted to believe in a higher power. I lived in Las Vegas for a year and a half before moving to the PNW and started seeking a spiritual path there.

During my first year in Seattle, I found a branch of the non-denominational church I went to in Vegas. It was a small church in an intimate setting that suited me very well. The man I was living with went with me for a while, but then lost interest. That was okay, because I needed to start building my own circle of friends and he and I had no burning desire to spend all of our time together. We were already starting to dance around the inevitable demise of our relationship.

A few of the people at the church decided to start a Course in Miracles study group, and I was delighted. I first learned about The Course in Las Vegas and welcomed the opportunity to be part of it. My interactions with the people in that group eventually forged some of the most important and positive spiritual influences in my life.

We met every Saturday morning at 8:30 a.m. and there was a core group of about eight of us. In case you are unfamiliar, The Course is divided into three sections: the “Text,” the “Workbook for Students,” and the “Manual for Teachers.” At the advice of our original group leader, we started by reading from the “Text” and then closed every session with one lesson from the “Workbook.” By the time we got to the “Manual for Teachers” we realized it was probably where we should have started, because according to The Course, everyone is a teacher and that section was the most basic and easiest to understand.

Over time, we went through The Course from cover to cover several times – all 1,108 pages of it - not including indexes. The first time through, it was like walking through a maze. We’d round a corner and see what looked like an exit only to find a dead end which propelled us back into the labyrinth. We talked for hours about what it meant, reading one heading and sometimes one paragraph per session in our attempt to decipher it. It was confounding and confusing and frustrating.

There were times I walked away from our meetings thinking I would never break through the complicated language to find meaning from the words. People who had already been studying The Course tried to help us. We also watched several tapes by people like Marianne Williamson who are experts on The Course. But slowly over time it started to make sense. It was through our own united willpower and desire that we were finally able to break through.

I learned it’s more important to be happy than to be right. I never thought about how detrimental my stubbornness was to my happiness, and how hurtful it could be to others. As I examined my actions, it seemed that sometimes the things, about which I most needed to be right, were not really very important in the general scheme of things. Simple things like how to arrange your kitchen cabinets didn’t really matter. I had to let them go.

I learned the world is filled with love and happiness and we will find what we are looking for when we know what we want. This was a very difficult concept for me because since my early childhood I’d never known real love and happiness. I had no idea what I really wanted and how it was supposed to look and feel. There was no role model to go by. There was no list and no rules to guide me. Figuring out what I wanted was a seemingly impossible task.

I learned every person we meet is a mere reflection of ourselves. We can learn something from them all, and the briefest encounters or the longest relationships provide opportunities for us to grow. Considering the fact I didn’t particularly like a lot of the people I met, it was painful to think they were personal reflections. The most irritating part was many of the people I disliked kept hanging around. When I finally realized the only way to make them go away was to actually learn the lesson they were here to teach, they gradually started disappearing.

I learned everything that happens is either from love or from a call for love. All the negative feelings - anger, fear, hatred, envy, etc, - are just a call for love. We can see things differently just by looking at situations and people with unprejudiced eyes. Instead of reacting to the negative feelings with more negativity, if I looked at them as a cry for help from that person, it made it easier to tap into the love inside myself and return love to them. It didn’t always work, but over time, it became deep-rooted in me and it was more natural to react from love.

This explanation may sound simplistic but that’s the beauty of it. For years we tried our best to make The Course really deep and complicated. We got caught up in all the beautifully crafted words. But in the end it wasn’t about the words – it was just about love. It was about letting go of the fear and loving our selves and each other. It’s amazing how long it can take to see what’s right in front of you.

The Course changed my life. It brought me peace and gave me a deep well from which to draw.

Now the box I check is: Spiritual, but not religious.

Sunday, July 29, 2007

1,000 + visitors!

When I started this blog last March I really didn’t think anyone would ever read it. I specialized in lurking back then and only started it because I wanted to ask Miss Snark a question and participate in her crazy contests and thought you had to have a blog to do it.

Sometime in the last 24 hours I passed 1,000 visitors. That’s not many compared to some of the blogs I visit – including my daily homage to Miss Snark even though she’s dark - but the number amazes me. It doesn’t matter that many of those visitors are repeats – in fact that makes it more special.

I’ve learned a lot from my blogging friends and believe I’m a better writer now because of their wisdom and advice. I still don’t know what I’m going to write. My heart says non-fiction because I really enjoy helping others and have lots of different experiences from which to draw. I’m a good speaker and would enjoy using writing as a platform for doing more of that.

There are also lots of small stories racing around my brain like go-carts on a track bumping into neurons and igniting sparks of creativity. With my limited attention span, perhaps I should think about doing short stories or magazine articles instead of the great American novel. I don’t know. It’s still all so new to me – writer land!

One thing I do know, I really enjoy the blogs and the outlet they provide for expressing my ideas, opinions, joys, frustrations and just mundane thoughts.

And I appreciate everyone who stops by to visit.


Saturday, July 28, 2007

Saturday morning miscellany

Thought I needed to spice up the blog with a new picture, so here’s my favorite coffee cup. It’s one of my favorite phrases. Sometimes I take it to work and flash it at people who make inane comments. I don’t even have to look up.

I entered Jason Evans “Halo” Short Fiction Contest . I’m entry #8. Let me know what you think and if you like it be sure to vote for me. I’m not sure how you do that, but do it anyway.

I have a “happy” problem. I lost another 12 pounds (down 33 pounds so far) since I bought all my new clothes last year. The skirts still look fine on me, but the pants are literally falling off. Oh, Happy Day! I have another 10 pounds to lose to reach my ideal weight, so I think I’ll run to Macy’s and see what’s on the super sale rack to tide me over. If I just buy a couple of basic pairs that should see me through.

It’s a gray day in the beautiful PNW, but somehow my mood is sunny with clear blue skies.

Friday, July 27, 2007

I just want to feel something.

I love most music but country music has a way of speaking to my heart and soul. That’s what I listen to in my car. Some of it is just silly – like when they talk about loving their tractors and trucks, why don’t we get drunk and screw, I ain’t as good as I once was but I’m as good once as I ever was, I’m a redneck woman I ain’t no high class broad. Those songs make me laugh and ease the traffic snafus during rush hour.

Occasionally a song will reach into my chest and touch my heart. Songs like “I’ve had my moments” or “Anyway”. I can relate to most of the words and the emotions. I understand.

Then there are songs that are like tuning forks in my soul. They resonate deep within me and cause long hidden emotions to wash over me like giant waves on the shore – dragging me under and forcing me to struggle to regain my balance.

Trace Adkins song “I just want to feel something” is one of those songs.

If you’re tellin me I’m not on fire
You’re just preachin to the choir
I’ve gotten dull as old barbed wire from livin
Last night I watched the evening news
It was the same ol nothin new
It should have cut me right in two
But it didn’t, I don’t know why it didn’t

But I wanna feel somethin
Somethin that’s a real somethin
That moves me, that proves to me I’m still alive
I wanna heart that beats and bleeds
A heart that’s bustin at the seams
I wanna care, I wanna cry, I wanna scream
I just wanna feel somethin

If you’re tellin me that’s just how it is
I don’t buy it cause once I was kissed
By a red-headed girl with cherry lips
On her porch when I was sixteen
And I felt it somewhere in my soul
And time stood still and I couldn’t let go

I cant tell you cause I don’t know how I got so cold
When did I get so cold

[Chorus:]I just wanna feel somethin
Somethin that’s a real somethin
That moves me, that proves to me I’m still alive
Run my fingers through your fingers,
Across your face and through your hair

And close my eyes and breathe you in like air
I just wanna feel somethin

How did he know what I was thinking? The first time I heard it during the afternoon drive home, I cried like a baby.

The inability to love or feel deep emotions about another person is nonsensical to most people. They smother you with platitudes and tell you the “right” person just hasn’t come along yet. I understand that they mean well and have learned to just smile and nod. If the solution was simple, I would have done it long ago. My commitment phobia runs deep.

I once reached a point where I was so hardened to intimate relationships emotionally that I was in danger of having it creep into the other relationships in my life. I realized that I needed to do something drastic to stop the cycle. Finally I couldn’t stand the pain anymore. I was going through the endless cycle of abandonment and rejection so often I totally lost my perspective on the reality of my situation. So to stop the cycle of poor choices and bad relationships I gave up men for a while.

It’s been several years now - several happy, peaceful years of self reflection and introspection. It’s been a time to regain my self esteem, my idealism, and my inner calm. But, one of the consequences of this cleansing process has been a dramatic increase in my inability to feel something. The happier I am in other areas of my life, the less willing I am to risk falling back into the drowning sea of relationships.

Every year I add a few more bricks to the wall around my heart – making it higher and less scalable. Then someone like Trace Adkins comes along and tries to put a hole in my wall. Right now I’m still reaching for the bucket of mortar to repair the hole. I want to feel something, but I'm just too scared.

Are you beginning to understand what commitment phobia FEELS like yet?

Thursday, July 26, 2007


This was my Yahoo horoscope for today:

Your old issues deserve to be where all old issues belong: in the past. Do not try to hold on to water as it flows under the bridge -- you'll just end up getting all wet (not to mention frustrated). Time moves forward, and you are meant to go along with it! It's true that looking back can give you insight about the mistakes you have made, but you must let a certain amount of time pass by before you can achieve that 20/20 hindsight. It's too soon right now.

Wow! Love the water under the bridge analogy.

Tuesday, July 24, 2007

It was a beautiful wedding – except…

Since you all seemed to enjoy hearing about my lovely family so much, I thought you might like to hear the story of the last “mandatory” function I was called upon to attend. It’s been over a year now so I finally have enough perspective on it to be somewhat objective – yea right!

Background: Sometime in 2005 I received an e-mail from older sister (OS) telling me oldest nephew (Groom) had proposed to long time girlfriend (Bride) noting more details to follow – ad infinitum.

In the fall of 05, I get one of my many sinus infections from hell – followed by a couple of rounds of antibiotics that seemed to take care of it. In late October it came back – more antibiotics, repeat in late November, repeat in late December, January, February. I become progressively sicker as my system is being ravaged by constant infections. I have horrible headaches, no energy and have been on and off antibiotics for over 6 months.

Plus OS, who ordinarily doesn’t acknowledge my existence unless she wants something from me, is sending constant e-mails about the July, 06 wedding and all the exciting prep she is helping Bride do. She even called me a couple of times to make sure I WOULD be at the wedding because the photos needed a complete family. (My words – after all how would it look to have a missing aunt? The sky might fall in.) I mentioned my sinus problems but don’t think she heard me.

Finally went to a sinus specialist in April. After a couple of rounds of special and even more powerful antibiotics, he determined I needed surgery. For the record, he did an MRI of my head and I do have a brain – I saw it! He wanted to do the surgery in mid-May but because I couldn’t fly for at least 6 weeks after the surgery and I needed to be photographed in early July – or else – we set the date for the surgery the second week in July.

To complicate things, in early June I started having reactions to the antibiotics and they finally had to take me off them completely. So for almost 3 weeks before the wedding, the infection returned and sapped almost all my energy. Basically I went to work then home to bed and not much else. All the while, OS is e-mailing to make sure I’m not going to shirk my duty and telling me how much she is doing for Bride to help her – MIL from hell in the making.

I fly to city of wedding on Friday and arrive in early afternoon with massive headache but good drugs. (Good Dr. had anticipated problems flying with sinus infection from hell.) Arrive at hotel, check in to my room, go to OS suite and find Mother (who still thinks I’m 17 and a total FU) there with niece. Mother who divorced father in 1966 (count 40 years ago) proceeds to tell me how pissed she is that no one told her Stepmother (Step) was coming to wedding because if she had known she wouldn’t have come and she knows this will make everyone uncomfortable and she’s really upset and just wants to go home – and now SO DO I!

Mother and I do NOT have a good relationship. She can only see my faults and has no problem pointing them out to me even though she hasn’t spent more than about a week total with me in the past 30 years or so. So these are all faults based on how I was 30 – 40 years ago and based on her stellar track record of 2 alienated daughters (Kid and I) and 2 divorces. (Ex-college prof – better at teaching than doing.) At this point I am envying Kid who is not coming to rehearsal dinner that night – in fact not arriving until next afternoon not long before the wedding. Head is pounding – time for more drugs!

ETA: For the first time in my life, instead of allowing my Mother the martyr to manipulate me and draw me into her little trap, I told her she had 2 choices. She could either continue with her crappy attidude and ruin her grandson's wedding, or she could suck it up, keep it to herself and allow everyone to have a good time. I amazed myself!

OS arrives, happy to see I’m “entertaining” Mother and full of wedding chatter. Sees I am sick so assumes I am perfect one to accompany 85 year old Mother to rehearsal dinner. I’m now wondering how often I can take the drugs without ODing, although even that is starting to sound good now. By the way, I’ve been there for about 3 hours now.

Mother goes to take nap and I tell OS about Mother’s concerns about Step. Step was 2nd wife after mother (Dad’s 4th) and had nothing to do with divorce but Mother never got over the divorce 40 years before and still harbors delusions of Dad returning to her even though he died in 2000. (I’m not making this up. Just ask Kid aka Anonymous Sister of Anti-Wife.)

Time passes and we all assemble at rehearsal dinner spot. Mother sits at table with back to Step and never moves from there. Step is really a very nice person and I tell her about Mother’s concerns. She knows Mother and just shakes her head – as we all have at this point – but said she will tread lightly. Her new husband thinks we’re all nuts!

Cousin I haven’t seen in years is there with daughter and I pass time recalling silly times (when we were in single digit ages) with them. Rehearsal dinner mercifully passes quickly and I usher Mother back to hotel where I immediately go to my room, down more drugs and go to bed!

Next morning I get up as late as I think I can get away with (blame 2 hour time difference) and go to OS room. She whisks me off to Starbucks where they take my money and then forget to make my drink. About 30 people get served before me before my aching head realizes what has happened and I question the clerk who is rude but detects from the nasty snarl on my face that perhaps he should just quickly make my latte and get rid of me. Anyway, OS wants to spend a few minutes of quality time with me (about 80% of which she is on her cell phone). All she really wants is to make sure I will handle Mother during the wedding. I’m too sick to argue.

Happily, Kid and her daughter arrive in early afternoon and I feel the life returning to my body for a few moments. All passes quickly as Bride and Groom get dressed, leave for photos and we then head for wedding venue. Wedding is beautiful and dinner spot looks great. No time for Mother to complain so far, but I am seated with her. Lucky me! Dinner goes off fairly peacefully and I decide I’ve had enough. No one really seems to care that I want to leave early.

I use the excuse of shuttle arriving at 6 am to take me to plane taking off at 8. (I’m not that stupid after all) Kid is pissed because she and daughter are staying until later next day and will have to take over my duties as resident whipping post.

I get up to leave and Mother decides she wants to go too. Damn! But, being the dutiful daughter, I take her back to the hotel, take her to her room, say good-by, go to my room, take more drugs, set the alarm AND call the desk for a wake-up call – I’m not missing that damned plane!

5:30 a.m. – I’m up and dressed like a rocket and checked out just as the shuttle arrives to deliver me from hell.

Two weeks later I had surgery and now I breathe well and have no more infections. OS finally realized I had been sick during wedding when I e-mailed all to let them know the surgery went well and I was on the mend. “Oh, that’s why you were so quiet.” If that’s what she wants to think – so be it.

And just as an aside, during the holidays when I e-mailed OS and Kid and mentioned I was writing about how having cancer had changed my life, OS e-mailed back, “When did you have cancer?” Now normally this wouldn’t be so unbelievable, but she came to visit me in the hospital both times I had surgery for my cancer.

Kind of gives new meaning to the term “invisible”, don’t you think?

Monday, July 23, 2007

Another reason I love my KID sister!

I have 2 sisters - one older and one younger. We are all very different - almost like we had 3 different sets of parents. My younger sister (Kid sister) and I had childhoods that seemed far more traumatic than our older sister. I'm not quite sure why. Our older sister doesn't choose to discuss anything with us except her social life and her 3 children. In fact, on the rare occasions we're around her she rarely gets off her cell phone long enough to have any real conversations with us. She is the ultimate sorority sister socialite. I’m not sure she deems the kid and I worthy of her attentions.

Older sister did everything she was “supposed” to do. She was an honor student in high school, went to college, joined the best sorority, graduated, got married, had 3 children, has a good job, and lives in an upscale suburb.

I was an average student in high school (bored out of my mind), went to college, got heavily involved in sex, drugs and rock and roll, dropped out of college, worked, went back to college, got bachelors and 2 masters degrees, worked, became totally commitment phobic with major intimacy issues, got cancer, survived cancer, left my high paying corporate position, wandered somewhat aimlessly for a few years and finally became an exec assistant. I’m doing extremely well. Most of my family just hasn’t caught up with this fact yet.

Kid sister ran away from home at 15, returned for a few days at 16 and then disappeared until she was 18, got her GED, bachelors, PA, masters, married a really stellar guy, had one child and adopted a second with autism, became an expert on her children’s needs, became a published author, is working on her doctorate and teaching college. She’s extremely successful. However, as with me, most of our family just hasn’t caught up with this fact yet.

Kid sister and I don’t enjoy our family gatherings – in fact we try to avoid them like the plague. Even though she and I have both done very well and become quite successful in our lives in many areas, we are treated like the proverbial black sheep of the family. Everyone seems to relish rehashing our past trials and tribulations and beating us over the heads with them. At this point, she and I understand that this is their problem. However it doesn’t make for happy family interactions. Thus our avoidance of them unless absolutely forced i.e., weddings and funerals.

Bottom line; we have chosen to maintain a distance between us and them. Frankly, they bore and depress me because they refuse to see me as anything except a person who totally fucked up her life and threw away her opportunities. Kid wants her children exposed to normal people and not our incredibly dysfunctional family. They don’t know us and we probably don’t know them either. And that’s okay because we have each other and we also have wonderful lives and friends where we are – me 2,500 miles and kid 1,000 miles from the nearest relative.

She complains that I call her my Kid sister, but she is and always will be and I love her. Besides, she's bigger than me. When I try to express that on my blog, she sends me silly yet profound responses. To my blog about “One reason I love my Kid sister” she wrote:

Anonymous said...
Kid sister.... It is almost diagnostic of a family having had a traumatic event, that relationships get frozen in time, and people continue to think of others in the same terms as did when the craziness occurred. My family still regards me as a kid. I'm 50, I have graduate degrees, I teach at the college level, I have nice teenage children, I live a comfortable life, I am financially secure, and my own nuclear family relationships are rock-solid stable. But I am still a kid to the family of origin, even to the cool sister
(That's me - I hope)! 35 years of maturation passed without their notice. Nothing I did mattered; nobody was there to see any of the way cool stuff I have done. And when they were there, the drama was like a black hole, sucking us back into the past.

One reason I love my intelligent, creative, energetic, commitment-phobic sister is that she is a heck of a lot more committed than she admits. Her relationships mean a LOT to her. She is not a superficial person. And, she is smart enough to escape from drama and get a life of her own choosing!

-Anonymous Sister of Anti-Wife

Did I mention that I love my Kid sister?

Saturday, July 21, 2007

I was just trying to be nice!

Occasionally you try to do something nice for someone and it seems like everything goes wrong. That happened to me recently. Most of you who read this blog know Patricia Wood’s new book “Lottery” is coming out next month and everyone is very excited – not only about the book but also for Pat. I found out about her through Miss Snark (I miss her!) and have been reading Pat’s blog for several months now – vicariously enjoying her journey. Through reading her blog I learned of her fondness for dragonflies.

Not long ago, I went to Big Lots and they had dragonfly pillows. Because Pat mentioned dragonflies bring luck, success and good fortune I bought one for myself because I figured I need all the luck, success and good fortune I can get. I posted a picture of the pillow on my blog and Pat commented on it, so I sent her the following e-mail:

I love the dragonfly pillow too. It's really pretty. If you want one I can run over to Big Lots and see if they have any more. They had them in the nice beige like the one I bought and they had them in a medium teal with black dragonflies. They measure 19" square and are very soft and cushy.

Let me know if you want one and if you know anyone else who might want one.

She e-mailed back:
ooh ooh!!! teal & black???? (beige is a runner up!!!) I'd LOVEone!!!! I bet Holly would adore one and I will see her here and onMaui on the 21st of August!!!It would be way WAY cool.Thanks for being so supportive.This is SUCH an incredible ride but can be hairy!

So, I ran off to Big Lots and sent her back this e-mail and picture:
SCORE! They had 8 left - 2 beige and 6 teal, so I bought them all - just in case!

Pat e-mailed back:
OMG!!!!!!How VERY COOL!!!please please please Can I buy two teal from you when I see you in Seattle??????and / Or or or can I pay you to send them to me now?????My REAL address (deleted because it’s none of your business.)

So I emailed back and said I would send them and they were my gift to her and she e-mailed back:
I am SOOOOO excited!!! I will blog about it!!!!!THANKYOUTHANKYOUTHANKYOU

To which I replied:
No need to do that. I don't want people to think I'm really nice!

To which she replied:
ha ha ha h ahah ahahah

At which point I realized she probably thinks I’m some kind of weirdo and perhaps she shouldn’t be corresponding with me. Anyway, I packed up the pillows and ran to the local post office (on a Sunday mind you) and used the automated box sending machine. It took about 3 tries to make it work. The first time I got half way through and discovered I needed a special form, so the machine kicked me out until I had the special form. Then I got almost all the way through and I pressed a wrong button and it kicked me out again. The third time I finally got the postage to print and put the box in the slot then I ran home and sent Pat the following e-mail:
The package is in the mail. It's in an Amazon.com box and scheduled for delivery by 3:00 pm Tuesday. I waived the signature requirement so you don't have to be there to get it. Love the xxxxxx post office and all the automated stuff.

This all happened on a Sunday. On Tuesday, I went on-line to track the package and it said the package was undeliverable as addressed and was being returned to me. PANIC! I sent Pat an e-mail explaining this ending with:
They say it's going to be returned to me and it's too late to track it on my end. Don't know if you can do anything about it. The return address is (deleted because it’s none of your business.)

Pat e-mailed me back:
OMG!!!!!!A massive brain fart on my end!!!!I cannot believe it.The correct address is (deleted because it’s none of your business.)I gave you half of my mail service address and half of my REAL address.HOW STUPID IS THAT!!!!!!!!!Please chalk it up to what is happening to me -I am NOT ususally this much of a ditz!!!!

Then she sent me another e-mail with another city and zip.

At this point it was too late for me to call my local post office because they were closed. She called hers and they said it had to be done on my end. I called the 800 number for the US post office and they said I had to call the Seattle office, but they closed at 7:30 Pacific time and it was now 7:49. So I sent Pat the following e-mail:
You won't believe it. The 800 number customer service ends at 10:30 Eastern time - 7:30 my time. I just missed them. I'm going to call as soon as I get up in the morning and see if I can get them to change the city and zip without returning it to me. UGH!

Pat replied:
What is so weird is that they Have it at the correct city and zip-xxxxx, Hawaii 96xxx It's a small town - I can't think why theydidn't deliver it.Boy now I'll REALLY owe you!!!Just to make surethe address is: (deleted because it’s none of your business.)I think it was finding out I have another live radio interview....
I cant believe I screwed up my own address like three times!!!

Anyway, we sent a few more e-mails back and forth that night. The next morning I got up at 6 am (my usual time) but instead of jumping in the shower I immediately called the post office. Here’s the e-mail I sent to Pat:
This morning at 6 am I called the 800 number only to learn I needed to call the local office here in Seattle. Of course they didn't open until 8, so the minute I arrived at work I called and left a message. They were very nice when they called back and said they would see what they could do, but also gave me the number to the facility at Sea-Tac airport. So, I called them and left a message (I've learned you can't talk to anyone at the post office without first leaving a message). They called back and were also very helpful but couldn't tell if the pillows are on their way back to Seattle or still in Honolulu. So they gave me the number for Honolulu. I called them and left a very detailed message but they haven't called me back yet.

Bottom line: either the pillows will be delivered to you soon, or they will be returned to me. Either way, I promise you'll eventually get them.

It's a good thing I'm a fairly patient person!

At that point things were getting busy at work, so I just put it on the back burner.

Later I received the following e-mail from Pat:
This is too weird!!! The box was delivered YESTERDAY - It was at the harbor office the whole time!!!The local postman probably just said I know it goes to xxxx andsent it out!!!!!!!!!In fact it was there while I was talking to the harbor master but it was at the bottom of the stairs and neither of us looked!!!!!!!I LOVE THEM!!!! Holly will have to PRY one out of my hands physically...

Now I personally think she had the box the whole time but she decided to have it x-rayed before she opened it to make sure some crazed stalker fan wasn’t sending weird stuff through the mail. But I’m afraid my crazed stalker days only existed in the mind of some strange Hawaiian author who’s obviously been inhaling too much happy gas for the last few months just because she’s about to become famous.

I shall attend her signings in Seattle and Everett, but there will be no stalking.

And next time – FED-EX!

One reason why I love my kid sister!

Her response to my post on the benefits of lists and my commitment phobia:

1. make list
2. life intervenes
3. waste time looking for the list
4. get boxes
5. hide things in boxes
6. store boxes
7. buy bigger house to store boxes
8. use stacks of boxes to hide unfinished projects
9. invite compulsive sister to visit
10. wonder why she can't commit to coming back for regular visits!
Anonymous sister of Anti-Wife;
"Comfortable with ambiguity"

Friday, July 20, 2007

The benefits of lists

As part of my post yesterday I talked about lists. I really can’t emphasize enough the benefits of making and using lists. In the past when I was overwhelmed I just shut down and did nothing. I let my problems compound. But when I discovered the power of making lists everything changed. Lists not only keep me aware of and working on my tasks, they also keep me from being weighed down by them.

As an example, when I first bought my house it was in need of a total overhaul. Except for being structurally sound almost everything needed work. So I added the house to my list of things I needed to deal with in my life. But when I looked at my list and saw the word “house” and thought of all the work, time and money that implied, I was overwhelmed.

So I made a separate list for the house. It included all of the general categories – floors, doors, windows, paint, yard, exterior, garage, electric, plumbing, etc. It’s a big house for one person and it has a big lot. The list added up to over $50,000 worth of work. I was overwhelmed.

Next, I made separate lists for each room in the house and for each section of the yard. For instance, for the upstairs, part of my list was:

1. Repair and refinish wood floors
2. Insulate outer walls
3. Install new electrical throughout
4. Attic insulation
5. Install attic stair unit
Back Bedroom
1. New window
2. New closet and doors
3. Scrape popcorn off ceiling
4. Paint
5. Trim
Front Bedroom
1. New window
2. New closet and doors
3. Scrape popcorn off ceiling
4. Paint
5. Trim
1. New tub and surround
2. New floor
3. New plumbing
4. New window
5. Refinish vanity
6. New vanity top
7. Add another electrical outlet
8. New light
9. Paint

This is an example of how detailed my lists were for each area. I had lists for every room and every section of my yard. I had notations on the list of which things I could do myself, which things I could do myself with help, and which things I had to hire out. I also had information on where I could get supplies and how much it was going to cost.

Once I did this the lists were still daunting but they weren’t overwhelming anymore. The beauty of the detailed lists is as I accomplished each task, no matter how large or small, I could cross it off and have proof of my progress. It also allowed me to prioritize the tasks and helped me focus on finding ways to pay for them. Even if I had no money there was always something on the list I could do that didn’t cost anything except my time and effort. My original list was almost five full pages long. I revised that list a couple of years ago. It’s now one page and some of those things have been crossed off too.

My life is very full and there are lots of distractions. My lists keep me focused and on task. I have lists everywhere and constantly update them or just make new ones. Having my lists has made a huge difference in my ability to accomplish things. Accomplishing things makes me feel good about myself and my environment.

Lists are beneficial! How do you stay on task?

Thursday, July 19, 2007

Commitment phobia and last minute-itis

That’s what I call it anyway – last minute-itis. I blame this on my commitment phobia because there’s something in me that hates to commit to anything until the last minute.

For example:
Signing up for conferences or vacations – I always do this right before the deadline. I may argue with myself for weeks about the reasons to go or not to go, then right before the deadline I’ll decide. What’s interesting is most of the time I don’t go. It’s like men, I can always think of a million reasons why I shouldn’t so I don’t even give myself the opportunity to see if I would like it. What’s crazy is when I do go I almost always have a great time.

Another example:
Committing to do a project or participate on a committee or attend some minor function. Everything is always a maybe – even things I really should do. Do or not do, go or not go – always a last minute decision.

Even things for work or assignments I actually do agree to do are usually done at the last minute. Fortunately I’m very resourceful and really quick at most things. Plus I’m too afraid of rejection (a true commitment phobic issue) to not get something done. If I actually say I’m going to do something, you can absolutely count on it getting done before the deadline.

This all drives me nuts! However, I have developed systems to deal with my last minute-itis so it doesn’t get me into trouble. I have lists – lots of lists - and I update them frequently. This keeps everything right in front of me so I don’t let things pile up and overwhelm me. They force me to do what needs to be done in a timely manner.

I keep my closet very organized and have a system for rotating through my clothes so I don’t have to make too many decisions about what to wear in the morning. If I didn’t, it would take me forever to get dressed. It keeps my choices simpler and takes the last minute-itis out of wardrobe decisions. Being organized helps make decisions simpler and it makes committing less terrifying.

Here’s another crazy thing – I have a hard time saying no when people need help on committees or with projects. AND everyone asks me because they know I always get things done and on time. Can you say dichotomy?

It seems so stupid when I write about it, but not when I’m going through it.

Tuesday, July 17, 2007

Commitment phobia - how it feels

So, what does it feel like to be commitment phobic?

First, it’s lonely. I have lots of friends, a great job, and wonderful co-workers, but no matter how much I share with them and how close we are, there’s always some distance between us. The distance is something I impose on all my relationships. It’s not malicious or even necessarily intentional. I can’t help it.

I’ve never been a fighter – probably because of the horrible fights I witnessed between my parents when they were separating and the fact that I was so shy as a child and young adult. The smallest sign of tension can send me running for the exit.

When people get too close to me emotionally or begin to have expectations of me, I start to get claustrophobic. I feel like everything is closing in on me. When I feel claustrophobic I become restless and an undercurrent of fear runs through me. My immediate response is to start backing out the door. I try to just disappear – to become invisible. I try to make others believe there’s nothing wrong – I’m just busy. I can always find a legitimate reason to put some distance between me and whoever’s getting too close.

In me there’s a profound sadness always lurking just below the surface.

This doesn’t even begin to describe what happens when I’m with a man and it looks like there could be a potential relationship developing.

But that’s a story for another day.

Monday, July 16, 2007


Who's there?


Illinois who?

Illinois you to death if you don't send me some better knock-knock jokes!

(Seriously, I need some knock-knock jokes!)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

How to keep Martha Stewart away!

I've set up a new security system just for her - several people positioned at various points around the yard covered in food stains carrying tuna casseroles. That should frighten her away.

Saturday, July 14, 2007

Top 10 ways to know if Martha Stewart is stalking you dog.

10. There's potpourri hanging from his/her collar.

9. The dog's nails have been cut with pinking shears.

8. The dog toys are all stored in McCoy crocks.

7. The pooper scooper has been decorated with raffia bows.

6. That telltale lemon slice in the new silver water bowl.

5. You find liver and whole wheat dog treats stamped out with copper cookie cutters and decorated with royal icing using a #2 rosette tip.

4. Dog hair has been collected and put into wire baskets for nesting material for the birds.

3. A seasonally appropriate grapevine wreath adorns the front of your dog's crate.

2. Your dog goes outside naked and comes in wearing a thyme colored virgin wool hand-knitted sweater with matching boots.


1. The dog droppings in your backyard have been sculpted into swans.

Stay away from my dogs, Bitch!

Thursday, July 12, 2007

Rosie's getting old and cranky

For those of you who haven’t read my missives about my dogs, Rosie is my soon to be 14 year old Lhasa Apso. Until about a year ago, she was just as sweet as could be. But now, like many old people, she’s getting crankier by the day.

To give you some background, last year we had to change groomers because Rosie was put on “probation” by her old groomer for pooping and peeing on the table then nipping at the groomer. She never did that before and I wrote it off to the new inexperienced groomers they were hiring. Anyway, the new groomer knows how to deal with sensitive older dogs and Rosie has mostly tolerated them and even enjoys her pampering every 3 weeks there.

Rosie is also the one whose snores sound like a phantom jet roaring through the room. Pound for pound she can out snore anything on the planet.

She also doesn’t like stairs. She quit going down the deck stairs a couple of years ago - too high, steep and slippery for her (she only likes concrete or carpeted steps with low risers now). Since the doggie door goes out to the deck this was a problem at first because she was using the deck as her bathroom. But I love her so I keep tissues to pick up the poop and a garden spray bottle close by full of simple green and water to wash everything away .

Then she decided she doesn’t want to get wet anymore, so she started going next to the doggie door – INSIDE! So, 2 rugs later, I have a waterproof tarp with newspapers available for her convenience. The papers are changed and tarps are cleaned everyday and the tarps are replaced every month or so. I’m a smell fanatic, so we keep it very clean.

Her dislike for stairs has now taken a new turn. Since her recent episode of sliding down the stairs and little encounter with the paint tray in which she became known as “Rosie the red assed dog”, she refuses to go down the stairs anymore. She will go up them, but she won’t go down.

So, picture this; our bedroom and family room where we spend the majority of our time is downstairs. I have set up a spot in the laundry room with a pooch pad and some water and food for her convenience (YES, she IS spoiled). However she still prefers her papers, deck and food and water from the kitchen – upstairs. So she climbs the stairs – which with her short and stiff little legs is quite a process – and does her thing upstairs, then she sits at the top of the stairs and barks until I come CARRY her back downstairs.

If I’m not home, she doesn’t really care and just goes and sleeps under the red chair in the guest bedroom – her favorite snoozing spot upstairs. However, when I’m home she wants to be near me and she likes to sleep with me so she can occasionally wake me up with her snoring.

Last night she barked me awake. This means I’m supposed to put her on the floor so she can go do her thing. It was about 3 in the morning and after I put her down, I decided to hold my ground and just go back to sleep and let her bark. She barked from the top of the stairs and I ignored her until I finally went back to sleep.

This morning when I went upstairs to the kitchen to eat breakfast, fix my lunch, give the girls fresh food and water and change the papers and clean the tarp, Rosie had managed to express her displeasure with me for ignoring her barks. She peed and pooped all over part of the kitchen floor – RIGHT NEXT TO THE TARP!

I had to clean and sanitize the whole thing in my work clothes and heels. Mommy was not happy! Rosie made her point. I found her snoozing under the red chair and gave her medicine and a small treat. No use punishing her. Dog only knows what she might do then.

Now I understand why they call female dogs bitches.

Wednesday, July 11, 2007

Hot again!

It's going to be in the 90's again here today. Very unusual for all us PNW slugs. They say we're going to have high humidity too. Now you have to understand that high humidity in the PNW is not like high humidity in the Midwest, South or East. Here high humidity occurs at around the 50 to 60% level. Compare this to the 80% and 90% levels in the other areas of the country (I spent the 1st 36 years of my life in Illinois). They don't have a clue what real humidity is like.

In the Midwest during the summer I spent lots of time fighting colds caused by going in and out of the air conditioning at work and from all the viruses lurking around commercial buildings. At home (no AC then), the fans were running full time and the humidity was so high it was hardly worth drying off after a shower. At night I would sleep nude on my bed (it wasn’t a gross picture back then) with the fan going full blast and wake up still sweating.

The heat and humidity were oppressive. Sometimes I spent so much time trying to find ways to stay cool I didn’t get any work done. Doing anything that required effort only made things worse. It was not fun!

So my question to all these wimps out here is always, "What humidity?"

What a bunch of whiners!

Man it's hot!

Tuesday, July 10, 2007

Busy, hot day

I'm away at a work conference right now so no time for posting. Hopefully I'll have time tomorrow night. Been thinking more about what it feels like to be commitment phobic and how to describe the process I go through when confronted with a situation that may require a commitment and I'm almost ready to write it down.

It's going to be in the 90's today and tomorrow in Seattle. We're all shriveling up and dying.

What's it like where you are?

Saturday, July 7, 2007

Feeling silly today!

I've been working hard for the last 4 days and I'm feeling a little silly. So here's one of my favorite pictures. It suits my mood!

Thursday, July 5, 2007

The door is RED!


Damned door!

I'm beginning to think the damned front door doesn't want to be red. The new can of paint is not "Red, Red Wine", it's pukey magenta. They gave me the wrong color! I should've bought the gallon in the first place. I took the next 2 days off work to finish some stuff around the house and it looks like the only thing that's going to be finished is me.

Sorry, just needing to rant!

Wednesday, July 4, 2007

Pictures of new front door tomorrow!

So, it's almost done. I almost have a red door. I also now have a partially red entry rug and a partially red coat closet door - this time thanks to Belle the wonder pooch.

I went to Home Depot and purchased the tinted primer and get this - the salesman told ME to go get the primer I wanted. Now I am not a painter by trade and I was unprepared for this so I wandered dazed and confused into the paint aisle and started reading labels. I must have been gone for quite a while because he finally came to find me and quickly picked up a can of primer then asked ME if this would be okay. I politely shook my head but my brain was thinking, "How the Hell should I know! You're the experts. That's why I came here!"

And then after he mixed it, the color was bubble gum pink. I mean seriously pink! I just kept telling myself that the experts on HGTV say all red looks pink in the can and not to panic. Anyway I primed this morning then put on 2 more coats of red. It needs another coat so I have purchased more and will put it on tomorrow, but the door is looking GOOD!

Oh, yea! The spill happened when Belle came up behind me and I almost tripped over her, thus spilling the paint on the floor, rug and closet door. I wiped up most of it, but now I have to buy a new rug. Oh, darn! (I hated that stupid rug.)

That's why I needed more paint!

Monday, July 2, 2007

Thoughts for the Day

A friend sent me these and I thought they were worth sharing.

...I planted some bird seed. A bird came up. Now I don't know what to feed it.
...I had amnesia once -- or twice.
...I went to San Franscisco. I found someone's heart. Now what?
...Protons have mass? I didn't even know they were Catholic.
...All I ask is a chance to prove that money can't make me happy.
...If the world was a logical place, men would be the ones who ride horses sidesaddle.
...What is a "free" gift? Aren't all gifts free?
...They told me I was gullible... and I believed them.
....Teach a child to be polite and courteous in the home and, when he grows up, he'll never be able to merge his car onto the freeway.
...Experience is the thing you have left when everything else is gone.
...One nice thing about egotists: they don't talk about other people.
...My weight is perfect for my height -- which varies.
...I used to be indecisive. Now I'm not sure.
...The cost of living hasn't affected its popularity.
...How can there be self-help "groups"?
...If swimming is so good for your figure, how do you explain whales?
...Show me a man with both feet firmly on the ground, and I'll show you a man who can't get his pants off.
...Is it my imagination, or do buffalo wings taste like chicken

Sunday, July 1, 2007

I'm an idiot! - Again!

Today started out so well. I took the girls to the doggie beauty parlor and they came home beautiful. I got 3 loads of laundry done, finished power washing the back patio and all the deck furniture, washed the front door, stoop and sidewalk, went to the store and found the perfect shade of red for the front door, and applied 2 coats of paint. That's the good part.

There were a few mishaps along the way.

I accidentally got too close to the house a couple of times with the power washer and now have a couple of spots to touch up. They're very small - almost imperceptible - but oops! Good thing they left me a 1 1/2 gallons of extra paint.

In power washing one of my tarps, I accidentally blew it apart. Oops!

The paint didn't stick to my front door. Apparently my pre-primed door has been hanging too long without paint and the primer doesn't work anymore. I stupidly turned down the suggestion from the clerk at Home Depot to buy a quart of tinted primer because I figured a quart should be enough for at least 3 coats on a front door. The paint just peeled right off as easy as you please. Tomorrow on the way home I'm buying the tinted primer. So no pictures of my beautifully painted door today.

While I was letting the paint dry, I fixed some rissoto in the micorwave and it boiled over. Anther mess to clean up. Oops!

As bad as all of this was, the worst - and the funniest - was my dog Rosie. She's my old 14 year old and is mostly deaf and partly blind. When I'm home, she likes to sleep close by. She has a difficult time negotiating the stairs. The front door is on a landing with stairs going up and down. Sensing I was on the landing, she came half walking and half sliding down the stairs, narrowly avoiding disaster.

I quickly gathered up the paint can, rag, roller and brush and moved them aside, but I wasn't quick enough. She sat down in the paint tray. Her right front paw, butt and tail are now a lovely shade of red as are a couple of the stairs going down. I wiped as much off as possible, but I'm afraid most of it will just have to wear off with time.

I guess if you're going to have a dog with a red ass, Rosie is an appropriate name!

Sunny Sunday morning

It's a beautiful Sunday morning in the PNW. It's finally warmed up enough here to turn off the heat for summer.

The girls are at the doggie beauty parlor and I'm working around the house trying to make the rest of it look better. Now that it's painted, everything else looks really crappy. I power washed the deck and most of the patio and deck furniture in back. Still have to do the rest of the deck, some furniture and the sidewalk, porch and entry door in front. Then I'm going to paint my front door red - a nice subtle dark red! I have some devil's horns a friend made for me that are the perfect color, so I think I'll take them with me to the store when I get the paint. Wonder what the clerk will say?

Don't feel like dealing with commitment phobia today. Maybe later, but I'm not going to commit to that!