Inspiring Me Now

  • "The Purpose of Life is to Be Happy" Dalai Lama

November 21, 2010

Tis the Season...

It's hard for me to remember exactly when "The Holidays" started to become less magical and more hassle-full for me. For the past several years, it seems the months of November and December have been full of headaches and heartaches for me. Last year, the guy who I was certain was "the one" broke up with me right after Thanksgiving. The year before that was my first Christmas divorced. The year before that, in November, my then husband told me he wanted a divorce, and the year before that (my icing on this sorrow cake) was when I was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.One year I even ended up in the hospital Christmas night after an asthma attack.  It seems as though I am setting up for the let down.

I think when you are a twenty-something single adult with no children, its easier to view the holidays with pessimistic eyes. I lay in bed days before Christmas trying to think of everything I need to pack to take home. I'm calculating how long a drive it will be with traffic. I'm wondering how many different houses I'll have to visit. How many relatives I don't even like, that I'll have to fake nice to. I wonder how many times I'll hear "How are you feeling?" or "I heard you had a tough fall, how's your asthma?" I'm wondering how many desserts I won't be able to eat, because someone forgot about my allergies to peanuts. I'm wondering how hard it will be to stand in the same house that for so many years held the loud boisterous belly laugh of my grandfather, to now only hear his echos. 

Hollywood and Hallmark have turned the holidays into something surreal. No one without a mini Martha Stewart in the kitchen can pull a perfectly browned Turkey out of the oven, carry it into the formal dining room (while wearing patent leather high heels and a hand sewn apron of course) and serve an extended family of 20. My mom is phenomenal cook. She has served an extended family of about 20 on several occasions, but there always seems to be some sort of mini crisis 10 minutes before the guests arrive. Last year, our entire family was sick and my poor mom had to cook and do everything herself. The year before that she made a fabulous turkey dinner with all the trimmings only to forget the mashed potatoes at the last minute. It was a mad dash to peel, cut, boil and mash those suckers!  She is always up Christmas eve finishing wrapping presents and is busting her ass in the kitchen Christmas morning trying to make sure whatever dish she's bringing to dinner later is perfect.

Aren't we kinda missing the point? Thanksgiving and Christmas aren't supposed to be about creating picture perfect memories. They're about creating lasting memories with the ones you love. When I think back to all the holidays I've spent with my family, I never think "...and MAN what a great turkey we had" No, I think about my grandpa "teaching" my cousins how to play basketball in the living room. I think about my grandma telling us the story (for the millionth year in a row) about where she got the silver aluminum Christmas tree she keeps on the porch. I think of all the grand-kids bundling up to go snowmobiling in the field. I think of my mom and aunts laughing at the same exact moment the same exact way, when someone says something funny. I think about red and green Hershey kisses in the candy dish. I think about my brother and I telling each other what we bought one another, because we simply can't wait another 24 hours. I think of our tradition of watching the Grinch on Christmas eve, and breakfast casserole and cranberry orange bread on Christmas morning.

We're all getting older and our lives are changing. We lose ones we loved dearly and at the same time, welcome new faces either by marriage or birth. Families get bigger and there are more places to visit and more relatives to see. Maybe it's time we stop trying to make every holiday season something spectacular and just enjoy the fact that for a few hours out of our hectic, crazy, drama filled year, we were all able to get together with people we love and care about. We get to share a meal together, and to enjoy the company of one another. To me, that's much more meaningful than a perfectly roasted turkey or a Christmas tree full of gifts.    

So this year I'm making it my personal goal to let go of my bad holidays past and try to embrace the little things that make this time of year special. I think the Grinch put it best himself... "Maybe Christmas," he thought, "doesn't come from a store. Maybe Christmas… perhaps… means a little bit more."

November 17, 2010

These Are A Few Of My Favorite Friends

By now pretty much all of you who are (loyally) following my blog know that I've been single for quite some time. The longer I've been away from a relationship, the more I've realized how important the other people in my life are. When I start dating, I have the tendency to submerse myself in all things boyfriend-ish. He's all I think about, he's all I talk about, he's all I text about. But, as my life has gone so far, these relationships come to an end. My silver lining though are my friends. These are the friends who sat through the all too often graphic detail of my bliss, the friends who plotted the revenge against the guys who made me cry, the friends who reminded me that there is more to life than being a part of a couple. I don't have one friend who fits into all of those categories. I have several friends who each in their own way contribute to my well being.

The One Who's Known You Since When
: This is my friend Brooke. We met about 7 years ago. We were co-workers who became best friends quick. The first time we hung out together is when she came over to my new apartment to help me put shelf liners in my drawers. After that we were pretty much inseparable.  She was always there to lend a hand and was a co-conspirator in many adventures.  We started out on similar paths. She got married to the love of her life, then I got engaged. We talked every day and emailed back and forth constantly, even though we only sat desks apart. I was at her wedding. She was at mine. Then I moved away. Brooke had her first baby and I had my first (and fingers crossed, last) divorce. We no longer talked every day, she was a mom working full time and taking care of a family and I was single again, trying to find my direction in a new city. We always stayed in touch. And no matter if it was 7 days or 7 months between seeing each other, we've always been able to pick right up where we left off. Most recently we got together to celebrate my 28th birthday. We laughed talking about the mischief we used to cause. Then she said "Jacqueline and I will be best friend forever, because we both have too much dirt on each other not to be." I love having someone who knows my back story. There's no need to explain my strange tendencies to her and she always understands what I'm trying to say. I love you Brooke! Thank you for being so amazing.

The Cheerleader: This is my friend Jenna. Though we haven't been friends for long, the friendship Jenna and I have developed has had a huge impact on my life. Jenna has the craziest life of anyone I know. She goes to school full time, she works more than full time, and she still makes sure to fit time in for her friends. When I have something important coming up, or have been having a rough time dealing with some stupid boy drama, Jenna is always the first to text me in the morning "Good morning lady. I hope you have a great day!" Recently my step-grandma passed away. Jenna texted me the day of the funeral, "thinking of you and your family today". Though she doesn't have the type of schedule that permits us to get together a few times a week, she always lets me know that she has my back and that I'm on her mind. She encourages me to follow my heart and reminds me that we all make mistakes. I love that she is in my life. Her and her thoughtful, well timed texts are sometimes the things that keep me going throughout the rough days. Love you Jenna!

The Good-Mood-Girl: This is my friend Courtney. Courtney is another one of my friends who is insanely busy. She is a social butterfly. She has a million great friends and is always at someone's birthday or someone's wedding. I met Court through my ex-husband. She was in my wedding, helped me through my divorce, and has been a huge supporter in my challenges with MS. And through all of this...she is the epitome of cheery. She's outgoing and has the best laugh. Being with her puts me in a better mood instantly. She takes me out for a drink when she knows I'm down, and by the time I'm taking my last sip, I'm already feeling better. You can't not be in a good mood with this girl. She has a way of seeing the bright side in everything, and for me, who is eternally pessimistic, this is a VERY important friend to have. I love you my dear Courtney.

The Sister From Another Mister:
This is my friend Hannah. I met Hannah about 4 years ago. I feel like she's been a part of my life forever. She is straight forward. She tells me what she honestly thinks, which is not always what I want to hear. We have a "no-frills" relationship, meaning we don't need outside social interaction to feel comfortable around each other, we don't need a buffer. Some of my favorite times with Hannah have been spent in my sweats, no makeup, sitting on her couch talking or watching bad tv. She took me to the hospital when I called her at 4am having an asthma attack, she's seen me un-showered and dirty. She's seen me heartbroken and at the opposite end of the spectrum, totally in love. She's the one person I feel like I can totally be myself around. Thank you for never judging me Hannah. I love you dearly!

The Dreamer: My cousin Nicole. She is 10 years younger than me. I remember holding her when she was born. I remember being at her birthday parties and babysitting. Now, she's grown into a beautiful woman with a heart the size of Texas. As she got older, we became closer and closer. We exchange lengthy emails on an almost daily basis. These aren't the normal day-to-day drama emails, these are emails planning our campaign for co-presidency of the world, our travels plans for our backpacking trip across Europe, and our detailed description of the men we'll someday marry. Nicole has a way of bringing out my inner child, that doesn't have the chance to play as much as she'd like. When I'm with her, I feel carefree and full of hope. Nicole has a way of making the impossible seem like it's within arms reach. She has a wild imagination. She has taught me to embrace my silly side and let go a little. Her friendship is irreplaceable to me. I love you lady!

The One Who Needs No Introduction: I don't have a clever name for my last (but not least) friend. Andy. I've known Andy since high school. We dated briefly and then parted ways when he went off to college. We've never lived in the same city for more than a few months. But somehow, we've remained amazingly close. We talk everyday. We have stupid, hilarious inside jokes that carry on for years. I can tell him about my relationship issues and he has an unbiased, honest take on things. It's important to have a guys view on certain situations. He knows crazy little details about my life that no one else does. He's sent me flowers when I was having a bad day, he was the first to text me on my birthday. He knows what matters to me and lets me know that it matters to him as well. I can call him at midnight crying, and he can calm me down. He knows exactly what to say to make me laugh, and at the same time, knows just how to piss me off. We are so close. I truly do not know what I'd do without him. With Andy, I always know I have someone on my side. Love you Drew. Thanks for being there for me.

I have a lot of friends, and I don't want anyone to feel slighted for not being mentioned. These few though, are the one who make my world go 'round. Each one of them contributes something different to my life. Something important and invaluable. I'm glad that I have room in my life for so many different, wonderful types of people. I don't think you can have a "one-size-fits-all" type of friend. I think best friends are like shoes. If you're like me you have a billion different pairs that are all used for different occasions. Sometimes you don't feel like wearing high heels, sometimes you just want to slip on a pair of slippers. Whatever the outfit, there's a shoe to match. And so goes my relationship with these people. Their different personalities each add a little something different to my life. They make my life complete in different ways.

So to each of my wonderful friends, thank you. Thank you for putting up with my ranting about men and family issues and my dog. Thank you for the texts and emails. Thank you for going with me to doctor appointment and happy hours. Thank you for watching my dog and finding me Motrin when I'm hung over. Thank you for watching chick flicks with me and for listening to me brag about the Packers. Thank you for always having my back and letting me dream big. You all make me grateful for what I have in my life. I only hope that I can be as good to you all as you are to me.

November 10, 2010

Dating...For Realsies

I've said a million times, I don't date well. I relationship. I'm a freakin awesome girlfriend. I'm not usually one to brag about myself, but I feel like my girlfriend qualities far exceed most men's expectations. I'm sweet. I know how to cook and bake things from scratch. I don't hog the covers and I like beer. I'm not high maintenance by any means. I don't mind doing laundry and I can get mildly excited about the occasional sporting event. The problem is, you can't just jump into a relationship. You have to start with dating. Perhaps my problem has been the combination of long-term relationships at a young age.

I had my first "real-life" boyfriend when I was a mere 16. I call him Original Mike (as there have been others since). It was your typical high school relationship. He teased me mercilessly until I realized that he was flirting. Then we held hands and went to prom. You get the picture. We dated for 3 years. Though, it wasn't really "dating". Meeting at the mall to shop, watching movies in his basement, having my mom drop me off at his place to hang out on Sundays. These aren't exactly dates. While they were a good basis for a high school relationship, they didn't lay much of a foundation for an adult relationship.

The next guy after Original Mike we'll call Drew. Drew and I did go on dates. Original dates at that. He was pretty thoughtful when it came to planning. However, we were short lived as he moved away for college and started his grown up life.

The lucky bachelor after Drew was TJ. TJ and I met in a college lit class. He was older, 22 and I was 20. Our "dates" consisted of watching movies on my living room floor and me picking him up after bar close on Friday and Saturday nights. After I was legally allowed in bars, our dates were spent consuming large quantities of alcohol with his crazy friends. Somehow, despite the lack of creative dates, we lasted. For 2 years.

Next came "the biggest lesson I'll ever learn". He and I met in a bar (classy). He was a bouncer I was a drinker. I gave him my phone number on a napkin written in lipstick. No lie. We also didn't really date. We moved right into a very serious relationship. It was quick and intense. First we bought a dog together and few months later he bought me a ring. Then came the wedding and the honeymoon and the divorce.

I was now 25. A divorcee back on the field. I started seeing someone quite a bit younger than me. So young in fact, that he couldn't legally buy me a drink. Our "dates" were pizzas and bad tv at my place. We couldn't watch tv at his place, because we'd wake up his parents. We lasted 8 months.

At this point I was starting to notice a trend. I was moving too quickly into the comfortable relationship stage. While I certainly don't mind low key evenings spent hanging out at home, I have been skipping over a crucial step in the relationship process. According to the wise editors at Glamour and the Hollywood followings on TMZ, I believe dating involves two key concepts: 1. is going out. That means NOT hanging out at my apartment or his. This means doing things. Creative things. Dinners, concerts, museums, walks, coffee shops, book stores, etc. You get the idea. 2 is talking. It's hard to get to know someone when they're sitting on the couch next to you, zoning out on a Matt Damon action flick. Going out gives you the opportunity to really talk face-to-face with someone and get to know them.

I may not be ready to be back in a relationship, but I am ready to date. I'm ready to go out and take chances and really get to know someone. I'm ready to move slow and live in the moment. I'm ready to let go of my future expectations and just see how the night goes. I know it won't be an easy thing for this controlling, life-planning, decision making girl, but my Happily Ever After will be so worth it!

So, Mr. Joe Mauer, if you're reading this, I like steak. Good steak. And I like live music. And it just so happens that I'm free this weekend! Just let me know what time you'll be by to pick me up.

November 2, 2010


When we are little, we dream about big white unicorns and cereal bowls filled with candy. When we're a bit older we dream of getting into an ivy league college, dating the captain of the football team, meeting the lead singer of our favorite band. Then we get older yet. The dreams keep evolving. We dream of an amazing boyfriend, a fairy tale proposal, and a huge white wedding. Followed by the dream of a quaint house in the suburbs with a little garden in the back yard and a little family inside.
Of course, I never found a big white unicorn and the closest I got to candy in my cereal bowl was when my gramp would load spoonfuls of sugar on my grapenuts. I didn't apply to any Ivy League colleges, I didn't date the captain of the football team, however I'm still holding out on meeting Mark Hoppus and Tom Delong (Blink-182's lead singers). I had a couple amazing boyfriends, unfortunately they weren't the ones who eventually proposed and I had the big white wedding, but it ended in a bigger messy divorce.

Now I have my adult fairy tales. I dream of advancing in my company. Each day I take on a new project or new responsibility at work I picture myself looking at my bigger bank account, I picture someone handing me the keys to my brand new jeep I can finally afford. I picture buying a brand new pair of in season Monolos at full price! And when I start dating someone new, it's the same thing. We talk about the future. Our soon-to-be fairy tale. We talk about the vacations we will take together, we talk about the kids we will have. We talk about where we'll go camping, who we'll spend Christmas with, what kind of parties we'll host together. We talk about how many bedrooms we'll have and what sort of dog will be running around in the back yard.

The world tells us to keep our feet on the ground, focus on the bottom line. But I think the dreamers have the right idea. The dreamers are the ones looking at the "true" bottom line, and that's happiness. Happiness isn't about finding the man of my dreams, it's about finding someone to dream with me. I'm not looking for someone practical and good on paper. I want someone who will step outside of this normal, boring, day-to-day cycle we are all in and walk with me somewhere completely impractical. I think I've put too much energy into searching for someone who meets the criteria on my checklist, when in fact, I should be looking for someone who's reading the same fairy tale. I want to be okay dreaming about the life I want. I don't want to feel foolish about it, I want to believe that there is someone out there who shares my same visions. Someone who hasn't stopped dreaming just because reality has told us to stop.

So, I'm ripping up my checklist and opening up Cinderella. Ok, so she wore glass slippers, not a pair of Monolos, but we're both shoe girls, so I figure it's a good place to start.