Monday, June 30, 2014

Beauty Advice

A sweaty no-frills post workout selfie
I admit, I'm crappy at giving advice. I generally write about how flawed I am, how I screw up and what I have learned from doing so.  But, dispensing tips?  That makes me uncomfortable, like I'm saying I have things all figured out or something. Which is ridiculous. So,  let me just clarify, I DO NOT HAVE THINGS ALL FIGURED OUT.  However, these are some things I've noticed that help make me feel beautiful. (Please note:  This "beautiful feeling" comes in fleeting moments when the stars align and acceptance collides with contentment. So about as often as an eclipse.)

Exercising:  Simply breaking a sweat in some capacity.  

Eating healthy and getting right back on track after cheating.

Spending time with family and friends.

Connecting with nature.

Giving generously to causes that matter.

Disconnecting from technology from time to time.

Reading books.

Pursuing creative outlets. 

Day dreaming. 

Trying new things.

Choosing optimism.  

Suspending judgement.

Failing with style.

Of course it almost goes without saying, sunscreen, a good night's sleep and laughter. And lots of it! 

(Not a solar eclipse. Because this "beautiful feeling" comes more frequently now, like a lunar eclipse.)

Thursday, June 26, 2014

Post Traumatic Stress Disorder

The real-life chalk outline of the accident.

It happened 8 months ago.  Right after I'd gotten my marriage back on track.  Right before I published my book about how I got it there.  My husband fell off the roof and I found him unconscious in a pool of his own blood on my driveway.  Derailed in an instant.  Never have I ever had more clarity about what I want out of life than that morning.  I want him.  Next to me.  Always.

Survival rates of roof diving accidents aren't good.  Even then, many survivors become permanently disabled.  Miraculously, neither was the case for my husband.  He came through relatively unscathed.  Now, I'm not a religious woman, but I'm positive something much bigger and more powerful than luck was at work.  Call it whatever you want.  I call it my deceased father-in-law and mother pulling strings from the other side.

The first 6 months post accident,  my husband and I did what we've always done.  We made roof jokes and laughed about it.  And we still do.  But, lately, I've come to realize the gravity of the situation.  He could've very well died.  Not a divorce, the death of a relationship.  But,  the six feet under, very finite, final, forever kind of death.

BOOK SPOILER:  At the beginning of the book, I'm emotionally stunted. And throughout it, I learn to trust myself and feel my feelings for the first time in my life.  Instead of avoiding them as I'd always done. And now here they are biting me firmly on the ass.  Whenever  I see a ladder, I fret.  When he takes his bike to work,  I worry.   And let's not even talk about him getting on the roof, which YES, he has done on a supervised basis since his accident.  I cannot control him people.  Oh, trust me, I HAVE TRIED!

The thing about feelings is, you can't just take the good ones and leave the rest like you can with Halloween candy.  You have to choke down all of them.  Even if you find Almond Joys to be completely repulsive and joyless.  Even if you have post traumatic stress disorder after they're shoved down your throat.  It's still better than the alternative, not having any, because that's not truly living.  The price of life's ups are life's downs.  And it's so worth it.

Monday, June 23, 2014

Knee Deep

I don't bruise easily.  I know this because I've fallen out of a moving car onto a busy boulevard, from a tree house that collapsed with the weight of too many kids, I was rammed directly into a cement wall by a roller derby girl who generously outweighed me and I repeatedly throw my own body onto a metal pole.  So, when I achieve a bruise, a glorious, majestic, well earned bruise, please know even if it appears minuscule and faint,  it hurts like a bitch.  LIKE A BITCH I SAID.

I've learned a lot of new pole moves lately, but the ones that really intrigue me at the moment are knee holds.  Funny thing about knees, they have no meat in which to cushion the blow.  It's like getting a tattoo on your toe.  Bad to the bone.  Unless it's on the underside, then it's like getting a tattoo in your arm pit.  Strong enough for a man, but made for a woman.

After several attempts, I finally got the hang of the knee hold.  Literally, hanging off the pole to the side, holding on only with my knees.  One pushing, one pulling.  No hands.  OWWWWW!  After doing it once successfully, I knew it had to go into my pole routine for the recital. Which meant, to do it just one measly time during the routine, I would need to practice it over.  And over.  And over.  OWWWWW^10!  If I ever need a knee replacement, I think I'll know the reason.

The recital was last night.  The video is dark and grainy.  (Sorry about that.)  But, see if you can spot the knee hold.  And just take a second to appreciate that I am knee deep in pain.  Cause it hurts like a bitch.  LIKE A BITCH I SAID.

For the next recital I might focus on armpit holds.  Do you even know how much it hurts to hold all your body weight in an armpit?  For example, this move is called the teddy bear.

Although pole dancers often use the slang terminology 'grizzly bear' for this move.  You may have guessed, it's because it hurts like a bitch.  HURTS LIKE A BITCH I SAID!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

The Secret to Happiness

Image from

I used to think some people were just born happy.  That a peaceful and passive existence was bestowed upon them genetically somehow.  And that conversely, I was defective, because I wasn't born that way. I was always the sullen, inhibited girl trapped inside her own head, consumed by her fears.  That was until I learned the secret to happiness.  Which is,  it's a hell of a lot of work.

Near the end of my book I write about happiness.  And how American culture is consumed with it.  Or, rather, the appearance of it. Because our culture is also overly consumed with appearances.  Just browse all the perfectly filtered smiles on Instagram and Pinterest so you can instantly feel like you don't measure up.   And need to see a cosmetic dentist and abuse whitening strips.  

Funny thing, once I gave up striving for happiness through perfection, I immediately felt relieved.  And in that reprieve, you guessed it, I felt content.  Happy even.  Now, I own my imperfections.  Flaunt them even from time to time.  But acceptance alone isn't enough.

And here's where the work comes in.  Every day we all make choices.  Hundreds of small choices.  And each of those contribute to either feeling good or feeling like crap.  Thus adding to your overall cumulative happiness or slowly chipping away at your self worth.  So eating three bowls of ice cream  in one sitting is a large divot.  Walking your dog or bike riding with your kids is a double word score in Scrabble.  And if you play Scrabble with them afterward then it's a triple word score.  I'm not sure there even is a triple word score, but there should be. 

Maybe this sounds too simplistic.  But it's always the things that sound easy that are the hardest to execute and integrate into our lives. I will be the first to admit,  I make tons of mistakes every day.  (I ate the equivalent of 3 servings of Jade's homemade mint chocolate chip ice cream just last night and I'm not gonna lie, my stomach is killing me and I feel like shit right now.)  The thing is, I own my choices now.  They don't own me.  I choose to be happy or at least mildly content every day.  

So now if you see me out in public, I will inevitably be bumbling something up.  That's nothing new. But nowadays, I just might be doing it with a smile on my face.  Unless I choose not to.  And that's ok too.

Monday, June 16, 2014

Daddy Issues

I ponder it all the time. Why am I like this?  Why can't I do better?  Oh, I know why.  It's my daddy issues.  Specifically,  why am I such a crappy gift giver on Father's Day?  This year I was going to do better and blow it out of the water.  Maybe, partly, totally inspired by the fact that my husband gave me a cruiser bike with a homemade basket and tail rack for Mother's Day.  How does one top that?  HOW, I ask?

The plan changed a bit when my sister and her family came out for an impromptu visit for the weekend.  Father's Day weekend.  Then I figured we could just bond as sisters over our communal daddy issues.  The thing was, this year I had a plan.  Plus, I scored THE perfect Father's Day gift for my husband.  This was not going to be like that lame-ass gift I gave him for our anniversary.  So I was bursting with anticipation.

Luckily, I didn't buy him a hammock.  Cause he bought that for himself and strung it up on the porch with the assistance of my brother in law the day BEFORE Father's Day.  Phhhheeewwwww.  Tragedy averted.   No, my plan was better.  Requiring good weather.  A road trip.  And a river.

Accompanied by River and the other elements and our guests of course too.

Because this year, I got Craig a flotation device.  An inflatable kayak.  Which he LOVED!

Ok, so maybe I got it for him because it's a DOUBLE KAYAK.  So maybe I kinda, totally benefit from this gift.  Maybe I actually gave myself a Father's Day gift.  See, I told you I have daddy issues.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Inside Out

A while ago, I read Naomi Wolf's book, Beauty Myth, about how the cosmetic companies feed into women's insecurities.  Selling us beauty products, implying that without them, we're hideous.  And we buy into it.  Because we're women.  And as women, we constantly compare ourselves to the perceived "ideal" woman and then criticize and ridicule ourselves when we don't measure up.  Because ideal isn't real.  It doesn't even exist except in photoshop.  I wish I could say I was above this.  But, I assure you, I am not.  

I know this because every time I go to a store with a cosmetics/beauty aisle I'm drawn to it like a magnet. I scour for new products in packaging with clean lines that projects clinical strength with light natural Tahitian flower scent.  Naturally, some will make the cut and end up in my cart. When I do this, I am fully aware of what my expectations for this product are.  Reducing the size of my large forehead, erasing the ever present lines on it while correcting my receding hairline. Giving me cheek bones.  A gorgeous, pore-less Mediterranean olive skin tone.  And thick hair. (Among others.) Ok, I want to look like Angie Harmon.  Or Padma Lakshmi.  Wait, no, definitely, Malia Jones. So, my expectations might be a tad unrealistic.  Then the work of rationalizing products out of my cart begins.  The entire process is extremely unpretty.  And I usually end up with at least one intricately nude colored lip balm to add to my already huge arsenal of barely there lip products only I know I'm wearing because it's not visible to the naked eye.

So when I came across the book The Recipe for Radiance, marrying two things I'm passionate about, eating healthy and trying to look like Malia Jones,  I knew I had to read it.  It's all about eating your way to beauty and slathering food on your face.  Fun! We all know that beauty comes from the inside.  And trying to achieve health by merely taking a gummy multi-vitamin is just pissing your money away.  Because your body won't absorb most of these foreign sources of nutrients.  No, your body, wants the good stuff.  Real food that's really good for you.  From the inside out.  

A staple I have in my pantry that I use all the time is coconut oil.   

I use it to pop popcorn, make pancakes and for this, one of my favorite recipes:

Sweet Potatoes with Spicy Coconut oil

Plop some coconut oil in the bottom of a fry pan.
Add a bit of minced garlic & a pinch of crushed red pepper.
Peel and cube sweet potatoes, add to pan (the smaller they're cut, the faster they cook).
When the potatoes are near done, add kale, arugula or spinach.  Whichever you prefer.
Salt and pepper it to taste.
Done & delicious. 
(And no, I don't "measure".)

I also use coconut oil cosmetically.  I take my make-up off with it.  Bonus, it doesn't sting my eyes the way the ones on the store shelves do. Plus there's less packaging and it's way less expensive. Especially if you buy it drum-sized at Costco like I do.  

When I read in the book that you could wash your face with coconut oil and it has antibacterial properties, I tried that too.  Now, I have oily skin, so this seemed counter intuitive to me, but it didn't make me more shiny or breakout, it just added moisture.  And as a woman over 40, I need all the moisture I can get.

The book is filled with both recipes to eat (the Chilled Thai Almond Butter Noodles are amazing) and recipes to apply to your skin.  So check it out and say screw you to the cosmetic companies out to make you feel less than.  And most of all, feel beautiful from the inside out. 

(And if you haven't heard of oil pulling yet, you may want to research it & give it a try.  I can only make it 5 minutes, myself.)

Monday, June 9, 2014


I'm not the romantic sort.  Goofy and fun?  Yes.  Maybe you've gotten this vibe already.  So when my 22nd wedding anniversary came around, I of course was not prepared.  And as I sat next to my husband of 20 something years who I'm grateful did not die falling off the roof back in October (completely ridiculously unromantic understatement), I might have said, "I'm not getting you an anniversary gift cause we're just going out to dinner right?"  To which he replied, "I already got you something".  Cause he's an incredibly thoughtful, romantic, nostalgic gift giver and I SUCK!  Clearly I don't deserve him.

Two days before our anniversary, my brother is in town and the kids and I are showing him the sights while my husband is slaving away at work to support us.  As we're meandering through the tourist trap that is Manitou Springs, I had a thought.  I should look for something for Craig.  Cause nothing screams "I was thinking of you" quite like shopping with your brother, in a town best known for pot, a couple of days before an important benchmark occasion.  Despite the odds, I found it.  Some old brothel coins "Good for One Screw".  And a lucky rabbit's foot.  Do you see the theme here?  Did I mention I suck at this?

The next day we hosted a party for Jade and 25 of her closest friends featuring gluten-free and animal cruelty free foods at our house.  Then, the next morning, the big day started off with a weary, tired, but heartfelt "Happy Anniversary".  And that's when we exchanged gifts.  Mine first.  Luckily, after 22 years of marriage, my husband totally gets me and thinks this is a cool gift.  He's especially impressed with the rabbit foot. What can I say?  I'm a very lucky girl.

Now, it's Craig's turn.  He got me tweezers to put in the car.  The rear view mirror is the single best place to pluck eye brows.  He knows this because I'm obsessed with mine and if I don't maintain them they resemble caterpillars.  When he met me 26 years ago, I pared my mullet with my au naturale brows.  I'm going to take this as a sign that he appreciates the effort that goes into their cultivation.  In typical Craig style, he researched the best rated tweezers and had them delivered to the house a month in advance.  He's really quite awesome. 

That night we went out to the grand opening of Brother Luck's new restaurant.  See how the luck theme runs through this?  And my husband did not die falling off the roof.  Did I mention that?  I'm still humbled and completely amazed by all that we've endured.  Together.  Especially at a time when the odds seem so stacked against marriage.  There's one thing that has always been there from the beginning.  And it's not romance. Sure, it's been there. But, it's fleeting.  The constant in our marriage has always been humor.  Even in the worst of times.

So what better way to celebrate than with the watermelon pop rock salad?  Sweet, but spicy.  Nutritious with a sprinkling of junk food.  Delightfully, completely unexpected.  A metaphor for our marriage.

And here we are 22 years later and a soft camera lens later.  Because that's how we look best these days.

 Twenty two years from now, Sky will be taking our picture from the moon to get the most flattering photo of us together.  Hopefully.

Thursday, June 5, 2014

We are Experiencing Technical Difficulties

I have no idea what is up with my Mac right now.  It's slow, I can't move pictures to my desktop.  I'm not getting e-mail messages or getting them way late. Messages I'm  sending aren't being received.  What if it has the black plague?  Or tuberculosis?  Ebola?  Not that I'm qualified to make a diagnosis, as I'm not a diagnostician.  Or in any way inclined with computers.  Or cell phones.  TVs, DVRS. Basically anything with a plug or a charger.  Totally clueless.

So, as of right now, I'm temporarily out of service.   If you know of a good computer doctor, please send him over stat!

Monday, June 2, 2014

Performance Anxiety

My husband and I were on the way to my belly dance recital when I mentioned it casually, as if it were no big deal and I was normal.

"I've been asking other dancers about performing in restaurants around town", I said.
"What?  Why would you do that?" He asked.
"It's just that I'm at this point that I feel like I should do something with it.  You know, progress"
Should is an evil word.  I knew that well before it slid out of my mouth.
 "You should probably start enjoy performing before you do that."

And he's completely right.
The fact is, I've never even thought about enjoying being on stage.
Not once.
Cause how could someone get on stage in front of real live people and enjoy it?  

I would like to say that I set the goal for that evening to be savoring the joy of performing. But, who am I kidding?  That was way, way too lofty of a goal for someone with terrifying stage fright.  I had to use all my energy doing what I normally do,  trying to act normal.  Disguising the myriad of worries that constantly swirled through my mind.   

Did I double knot my halter top so it doesn't fall off mid performance?
Do I have to pee?  I think I do.  No.  I just peed.  I totally don't have to.  And if I do go again I'll probably end up with my skirt tucked in my panties or something.  Best not to chance it.
I should be social and talk to other dancers back stage.  What do I say?  
Wait, she's talking to someone else, I don't want to intrude.  Unless I'm just making an excuse.
Am I making an excuse?  I am aren't I?
Never mind, I'll just stand over here out of the way.
But getting out of the way of someone means getting in someone else's way in a small dressing room. 
Maybe I forgot how to balance my sword on my head.  Let me try it here in the dressing room.   Where there's no room.  And I may accidentally blind someone.
About 20 times.
Just to be sure I can still do it. 
Did I double knot my halter top?
Do I have to pee?
Oh thank god there's a box of wine!
I'll just have 3 sips.  Just to take the edge off.
I wonder who brought the wine?  Should I contribute a couple bucks to the wine fund?
(And this is the short list of my anxieties.)

It didn't help that in practice right before rehearsal I whacked my arm on my sword.  Which caused a series of other screw ups that rattled me.  Causing me to have even more to worry about.  When the waiting was finally over and I stepped out on stage for the performance, I swirled in a whirlpool of self deprecating thoughts.

This is stupid.
Why am I doing this?
I should be enjoying this.
Everyone else is enjoying it.

Somehow, I made it through the performance without any major mishaps.  Craig didn't fare as well, he couldn't get the video camera to work, so I don't have video of it.  I know, I'm disappointed too.  (Ok, that's a total lie.  I'm relieved.)  I don't think I smiled once.  I know this from the photos he took.

 When it was over,  and I was back in the relative safety of the dressing room, someone came over to me.  "Did you enjoy it"  I don't even know what the hell I said.  But, I can tell you what I thought.  Why is everyone obsessed with this 'enjoying it' thing?

So after I slipped into regular clothes and was sitting in the audience to watch the rest of the show, I finally enjoyed it.  From a distance.  Until it was over.  At which time, I was so exhausted from my anxiety, I made a break for the door.  Maybe I should take up running, because I make a pretty damn fast exit from social situations.  Maybe marathon running is more my thing.  And bonus, they never smile.  I mean, I hate running, but what does that matter?

Now, you might think I'd be relieved that it was done.  Maybe I'd even have a sense of accomplishment that I'd faced my fears.  But, that wasn't the case.  Instead, I quietly retreated into my head and ruminated on my flaws.  All of them. The more I tried to stop, the worse it got.  By the end the night, I was on the verge of tears.  And all this is for a performance that went well!  This is what anxiety does to me.

Did I mention next month is my pole dance recital?  Where the time before last, my anxiety gave me a  pre-performance migraine.  And what could possibly go wrong hanging upside down on a pole with excessive sweating involved.  Let me count...

(If you're interested, here is me practicing performing the sword routine ALONE in the comfort of my own living room on a tiny stage sans people.  Without smiling.)


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