Tag Archive: love

Mighty Fine Men

I cannot deny that I have always been a bit “boy-crazy”.  In preschool, my free play consisted of bullying the cutest boy in our class into playing house with me.  In kindergarten, recess was spent dragging scared, innocent boys behind a tree so I could kiss them.  (Not to worry, guys.  I didn’t go to Bunn until the middle of first grade!)  I fondly remember each of my elementary grades by the boy that I was crushing on or “going with” at the time.  My parents memorialized my first love by wood-burning into our front porch railing my pathetic cry of “But Mom, I’ve loved him since the third grade!” when I found my heart broken once again in the sixth grade.  Amazingly, I even had boyfriends during middle school while I was in the midst of ear and facial reconstructive surgery.  High school opened up a whole new sea of possibilities for me as I found myself attracted to various jocks, nerds, skateboarders and smokers.  Even though I may have treated each break-up as a world-ending drama, I can honestly say I never had a bad break-up.  Yes, we may not have spoken for a few weeks or even months, but each boyfriend ultimately remained in my heart as a friend.  Since the end of high school, only two men have taken hold of my heart and I married both of them.

Looking back at all the guys that I have given a piece of my heart, physically there are very few similarities among them.  There has been tall and dark, short and red-headed, lean and blonde.  But it’s the qualities that we can’t see outwardly that made each of these guys special to me.  You will have your own list of non-physical “turn-ons”.  This is mine:

1. He must be able to look me in the eyes.  I’m not sure if it is my Aquarian nature or just a genetic glitch, but I can discover a lot by looking into a person’s eyes.  The eyes can show dishonesty when words ring true. Eyes shine with passion even with the body makes no moves.  Eyes show pain when we plaster a smile on our faces.  If a man is unable to look me in the eyes, then he and I will have nothing to build a friendship on as hiding one’s’ eyes is more obvious than wearing an unwelcome sign!

2.  A man that makes me laugh is sure to be a quick friend.  I have appreciation for humor that ranges from goofy slapstick to dry, sarcastic wit.  While it is rare that I am impressed by gross body noises, I do have three sons and know when a well-timed snort is appropriate.  Laughter breaks down walls, erases insecurities for a few seconds and allows our hearts to extend outside our bodies.

3. I am a talker.  Seriously.  And I happen to be opinionated.  I enjoy having a conversation with a man that has opinions and can intelligently discuss them.  I also appreciate a man that understands that while I will engage in controversial conversations, there is no need to attempt to convert me — in politics, sports, religion or philosophy.

4.  I really like  a man that is unafraid to show affection in public.  No, that doesn’t mean I am drooling over your man if he holds your hand in the grocery store.  It does mean that I know that your man is very secure in his feelings for those he loves.  In church, I find myself mesmerized by the men that unconsciously rub their partner’s shoulder or pull their wives/girlfriends closer while singing a hymn.  Of course, I was a huge supporter of PDA’s, even in kindergarten.

5. Compassion for others.  Wayne is probably the best example of this particular trait.  And I will suffer from sharing this so publicly … no more PDA’s for me for a long while!  Wayne cannot watch any commercials, telethons or charity concerts that show people in need.  Whether it is a child that is suffering from leukemia, a family that needs a mosquito net in Central America, or a woman that is starving in Africa, Wayne’s heart bleeds for these strangers.  There are many times he has been brought to tears and it has stunned me to my core.  The Youngsville Blue Coach Pitch All-Stars witnessed Wayne’s tenderness when he was so choked up during his final speech to the team, he was barely able to speak.  I have needed men like this in my life to teach me to be more empathetic.

While my husband embraces all of these qualities and I’m certainly NOT looking for anyone else, I do appreciate these qualities in my friends’ husbands, my boys’ coaches, the school dads and our extended family.  These men are the ones that I seek out to be role models for my own sons.  These are the ones that helped me make it to forty with my heart intact.  These are the finest men I know.



Reaching Out

ImageI must admit I am completely stunned and humbled by the response to yesterday’s post.  I never imagined how many of my friends would be affected by my story.  I also never realized how many people cared for me during that time in my life (and years afterward) and never found a way to share their feelings with me.  As youngsters, most of us had insecurities that prevented us from sharing such sentiments.  But what is our excuse as adults?  What drives us to bury our thoughts, feelings, desires from those we cherish the most?  

Many of you know that I was blessed to marry one of my best friends, Christian.  Before we dated, we shared everything with each other.  I knew all of his secrets (yes, he had plenty) and he preserved all of mine.  As friends, we hurt each other with selfish actions, but we never doubted our love for each other.  As we grew older and our relationship changed to one of intimacy, we became more guarded with our feelings.  We were hesitant to share our moments of sadness, fear, regret, temptation, etc.  Eventually, our conversations grew less meaningful, our silences became more profound.  When I felt Christian withdraw emotionally from me, I responded by building a concrete foundation to secure my own doubts and pain.  After a  time, when Christian found that he needed to reach out to me, he was unable to cross the barriers I had erected and I was too stubborn and prideful to tear them down myself.   We lived in the same house, but there was an ocean dividing us.  

It wasn’t until Christian’s dreadful diagnosis of lymphoma in 2002 that we were forced to “get real” with other.  We had an infant to think about.  We had to put aside the years of mistrust and decide how to move forward to secure a future for our son.  There were attempts at complete reconciliation, but the time for us to mend our internal wounds for a successful marriage had passed.  We poured our hearts out to each other, claiming responsibility for our marital carnage.  We extended a friendly truce to each other, not just for David’s sake, but for the sake of two kids that had once been the best of friends.  When Christian died in 2003, I was distraught.  I was unsure how to make it through the days without hearing his easy-going voice or endless jokes.  The one thought that made Christian’s death more bearable, was knowing that he and I had made peace with each other.  I have never had a single night of regret that Christian did not know how I felt about him or that I would have to live on this earth without his forgiveness.  He and I had overcome the worst of circumstances to become the best of friends again.  But we had to throw away our insecurities with each other, open wide the doorway to our vulnerabilities and lay claim to the love we could resurrect from all of our years together.  

A life-threatening illness, an innocent child and a wrecked marriage motivated our conversations.  You would think that I would have taken that to heart and used that as a learning opportunity to never let another day pass by without telling everyone I love — on whatever level — how much they mean to me.  I should know not to overlook an opportunity to express gratitude, extend a congratulations, share heart-felt sympathy, say a simple “Love you”.  But that childish fear holds me back, makes me question how my sentiments will be taken.  Will they be embraced or thrown back in my face?  Will I be laughed at or turned away?  Looking into that 12 year old girl’s face yesterday, I realize that I have faced much worse in my life.  No one can make me feel as small, lonely, and terrified as I did 28 years ago.  I have nothing to lose by reaching out to those around me.  And honestly, neither do you. 

From Heart Drum to Broken Mirror

“That is how love relationship is meant to work,  each partner transforming the other. The strength and power of each is untangled, shared. He gives her the heart drum. She gives him knowledge of the most complicated rhythms and emotions imaginable. Who knows what they will hunt together? We only know that they will be nourished to the end of their days.”  Clarissa Pinkola Estes, Ph.D   Women Who Run With the Wolves

These words touch a part of my soul that I cannot easily describe or possibly even identify.  It seems to sum up my young and idealistic view of LOVE — everlasting love. I am no longer naive enough to believe that love alone can sustain a relationship, but I still like to dwell in that mindset when the everyday world pours doubt and hardship over me.  My experiences become soggy, like corn flakes  left to soak in milk for too long. The edges lose definition and the flavor seeps away.

At forty, there are still so many unanswered questions about life, relationships, self-image, family, etc. Where is that talisman of wisdom that we are to be granted as we age? Why does it seem that life becomes more complicated? I want to charge into a sophisticated, upscale department store and demand to purchase the nonchalance and free spirit I was certain I would be draped in when I hit forty.

I don’t want to care about the disdainful looks I get because of my overweight figure or the snide comments when I color my grey roots an outrageous burgundy.  I long to be comfortable in my skin — as marred, scarred and stretched as it may be. I no longer want to look in a mirror and feel disgraced by my many imperfections, but I want to be overjoyed and confident in my attributes.  

The one stumbling block I constantly trip over is the very cliche truth, “You must love yourself before someone else can love you.”  Once I overcome this, then perhaps I can share a heart drum with my husband for the rest of our days.  But I will let him do the hunting while I am breaking the mirrors.  

Stranger In Her Bed

She looks over at her sleeping husband. She soaks in his peacefulness and marvels how sleep can erase the lines of worry and wrinkles of time that normally define his face. She smiles at the white hairs that now dominate his goatee and thinning hair. She knows they have both changed a lot physically since their first kiss eleven years ago. The deep rise and fall of her husband’s chest assures her he has escaped the stress of his job and his numerous responsibilities to his family, at least for the next six hours. As much as she wants to envy his ability to shed the restraints of the real world, she is actually very grateful that he is granted this reprieve each night.

She knows the physical features of this man better than she knows her own; however, she cannot shake the feeling that she is sharing this bed with a stranger. She no longer knows his deepest desires or darkest fears. She no longer knows what to say or do to bring the twinkle back to his brown and blue eyes. She knows nothing of his current nightly dreams or even who he considers to be his closest friends. She may still know what foods to prepare him or which shirts he prefers to wear, but she is clueless about the emotions that must pass through him each day. 

Oddly, although she has lost touch with him in so many ways, she knows undoubtedly that her love for him has not diminished. It is that love that makes the distance between them so frustrating.

She knows the shielded emotions are not to hurt her but are in fact a way to protect her from worry and additional sleepless nights. She sadly smiles at his slumbering form as she realizes that their conversations focus on the boys and their schedules and schoolwork.  They share funny tales of their friends or laugh over the latest celebrity debacles. Her finger gently travels over his scruffy cheek and down to his sleep-slackened jaw as she tries to recall the last time they truly shared quality time alone. They have had several one-nighters when all the boys were away, but they only used the peace to catch up on sleep, not each other. She sighs heavily as she realizes that it has been seven years since they got lost in each other and allowed the other to glimpse behind their protective walls.

She peppers his shoulder and tattooed bicep with quick kisses as she prepares her own mind and body for sleep. Resting her head against his, she silently pleads to the universe, “Bring us back together. Let us use each other as our safe havens and not resort to silence and reluctant acceptance. Let us not repeat our past mistakes!”

Tattered Tapestry

I recently posted on my Facebook status “How do you move forward if you don’t know what is holding you back?”  None of my Facebook friends offered me an answer, but one of my novel characters that currently resides in my head did reply.  He told me that my past was holding me back.  He told me I had to let the past go.  Well, it took a few days for his message to truly sink in because I allowed myself to get lost in his beautiful mocha chocolate eyes and I was absolutely mesmerized by the deep dimples that appeared as parentheses around his boyish grin.  Thankfully, I was able to snap out of his seductive trance before my fingers found their way to his black strands of hair that curled provocatively at the collar of his turquoise jersey t-shirt.  Anyway, when I finally allowed myself to concentrate on the meaning of his words I understood what he was trying to tell me; however, I find myself disagreeing, at least partially.  (Now that is perfectly normal Dana behavior!) 

There are parts of my past that I threw away quicker than Blake Shelton can sing “Chew tobacco, chew tobacco, chew tobacco, spit”.  Obviously, those moments were the ones of regret, questionable decision making or drunken blunders.  But there are parts of my past, or more accurately, people of my past that I don’t want to let go.  There are relationships that ended but with no closure.  These “lost” friends have created patches of emptiness in the tapestry of my life.  In some cases, I am unable to weave these friends back into my life because of death or trauma.  In some cases, I am unable to weave them back into my life because I am afraid I am not made of strong enough fiber to swallow my pride, face my fears or expose my vulnerabilities to them.  I often look at the picture of my life and it is those blank spaces that fill me with so much angst that I allow myself to become stagnant.  I yearn to tie up those loose threads and create a beautiful rendering of what I want my life to look like but since I never learned how to sew, crochet, knit, weave, or patch I find myself unable to do so. 

I know many people would say that for the friends that left by choice, then they weren’t true friends to begin with.  I think we resort to that so-called wisdom when we don’t want to force ourselves into action to right a wrong or to simply communicate an apology or request for an apology.  For many people, letting go is simply far easier than throwing a lifeline and struggling to maintain that hold when we are weary, hungry or in pain.  For me, letting go was easier at the time.  But as time goes on, my soul begs for the second chance, or perhaps even third. 

Maybe I can move forward after attempting to rescue the lost friendships that “incomplete” me.  Maybe if my honest efforts are rebuked, then I can move forward knowing I have at least attempted to put my tapestry through a sewing machine.  Fortunately, I have many fine tailors among my current friends. They will help me learn how to snip those frayed edges.

Joys of Parenting … somewhat

The search for Luke’s precious blank-blank begins again. The temptation to put that poor blanket out of its’ smelly, sticky misery grows each day. I look in all the usual places – behind the toilet, in the bathtub, behind a dining room curtain, in the darkest and creepiest corner under the stairs.  I growl in frustration as the red-headed terror stomps behind me demanding, “Now Mama, blank-blank, NOWWWWW!”  I try to use reason with this child. “It is your blanket.  YOU should look for it.”  He ignores me, a talent possessed by all four males in this household. I move on to the living room. I stand at the doorway with my hands on my hips and look down to see my three-year-old nemesis mimicking (mocking) me! I growl louder which only encourages Luke to roar back at me.  I tell The Terror that this is my last effort, if the blank-blank is not in the living room he will just have to do without it.  I see a slight smile flicker across his face and settle mischievously in his eyes.  He knows all too well that no one in this house will let him lose his favorite lovey. One couch cushion up and I’m thirty-seven cents richer. I debate my ability to successfully bribe Luke into forgetting about the blue scrap with the new-found coins. Ha, that is pointless as I know I’m more likely to publish a Newberry Medal book than to redirect his attention to anything else.  Clenching my jaw and trying not to utter curse words (which would earn me an entirely different award), I search under cushions two and three. The only treasure to be found there is a long-lost Happy Meal toy that should have found its way to the garbage weeks ago. As I calmly tell my child that it is now time to learn consequences and responsibility, I toss up the last couch cushion. My child hurls himself onto the lumpy, faded couch frame and squeals in delight. Relief and exhaustion wash over me as my sweet boy buries his face in his blank-blank and tells me, “I fine now, Mama.  I fine now.”