A Lesson in Self-respect

Recently, I had the chance to get to know a single man. Attractive.

We went out for dinner, but it wasn’t a “date,” according to him.

I rolled with it. I laughed.

Talking with him was so easy!

We told each other things– asked questions, silly and deep.

Discovered common interests and made up inside jokes.

And the best of all– the phone calls.

He actually liked talking on the phone.

Without my asking, he called me. Regularly.

He sent me a friend request, but I didn’t add him. I wanted to see where it went first.

See if we were actually compatible.

There was one conversation where we could barely hang up, we were so giddy.

But from that “non-date” dinner, he was also honest.

He is recovering from a pretty intense break-up. They still talk.

I make clean breaks with my exes.

And I was able to stop myself.

My heart said, “What are you doing? This can’t go anywhere.”

And I knew it was right.

But I learned something wonderful.

I don’t want to be friends with him

I want a date to be called a date, from the beginning.

And I deserve it.

And so I made the decision, rather than passively waiting it out.

I told him that I’m looking for a relationship, and he’s clearly not available for that.

I wished him luck, told him goodbye.

He accepted my decision.

And I felt immediately peaceful.

And it’s not like a closed a door. Instead, I accepted that the door was *not open* at all.

I decided not to wait by a closed door, hoping it will change.

And now I am walking forward.

Available for the time when a door will open to me.

Fully open, only for me.

The Magic of 2016

My 2016 is off to an excellent beginning.

Yesterday I worked, stopped by a new friend’s NYE party, and then rang in Midnight with my parents. I got back in town at 11:37 pm..— just in time to watch the countdown.

And I was surprised by how happy I was to be with them, how comfortable it was. They got up out of their chairs and I convinced them to dance at midnight and take some pictures with me! I felt loved and blessed.

In 2015 I joined a gospel choir at my church, started running 5K’s and summoned up the courage to apply to and  land a new job! And I love the changes both have brought to my routine– the people I’ve met.

The stability of going to the same office with the same co-workers and the same clients every day gives me tremendous comfort. I know many resent the 9-5 office life, but I love it! After working so many jobs over the years with fluctuating schedules, different store locations, constant sales pressure and policy changes– this new job is a breath of fresh air.

 

I feel open and excited about the year to follow. And FINALLY, I have weekends and holidays off and a reliable job where I’m always done by 5. It truly was the perfect job at the perfect time for me. I didn’t have to force anything to make it happen and I’m always moving forward, taking on new responsibilities and adjusting.

In fact, this week I celebrated my six-month anniversary as an employee. I officially have job security!! I feel grounded in a new way.

And to me, that’s more exciting than if I was celebrating a relationship anniversary– because this celebration is all about what I’ve created for myself. It’s about a team of people who have stepped up and shown me that I’m a valued team member. I work in an office where we all genuinely enjoy not just our jobs, but working together.

My co-workers know they can rely on me, and I can rely on them. I was able to attend our company holiday party last month– it was swanky! I even got a black cocktail dress and heels. I attended solo and got to know my co-workers! And then danced all night. I felt very adult.

Even on days where it’s overwhelming or I feel tired, I never miss my previous job. I never question my decision to move on to where I am today. I never feel nostalgic for the simplicity of my previous job, in which I worked five years.

I imagine that’s how I’ll feel someday about my dating history: so at peace that I never think of the men who didn’t work out. But even without a current relationship, I’m starting to get there on my own.  I have made some major progress !

On my loneliest days, I don’t long for my exes. I can finally say that! I understand why it didn’t work and know that it wouldn’t have been different in another time or if circumstances changed.  I’m lucky that I had the chance to find closure with those relationships– some directly, and some by putting distance between myself and dating until I felt more centered

That time has been healing.

I don’t feel this need to be perfect anymore– for myself or anyone else.

Of course I’m always looking to learn and grow. I have dreams and goals.

But truly, I’m proud of who I am.

And that makes me happy.

My Christmas Wish

I was hoping this year to bring someone to my church for Midnight Mass. I wanted to share it, especially since it was my first TRUE Midnight Mass.

Other years and other parishes, it started at 10:30 or 11:30– not the same. And this was my first time celebrating as a choir member.

Our rehearsal on Wednesday was a full two hours, and WOW was it fun!!

We sang a record NINE songs in 1.5 hours, though not each in entirety.

I realized how deeply embedded these songs are within me, as I didn’t need to read the lyrics to most of them. They are just part of growing up Catholic or Christian.

Yesterday at work I prepared myself with a Venti Peppermint Mocha. I needed to stay awake. It worked!

Our service was truly unlike any other I’ve attended.

We began with a male member, Jim, singing a solo to “Joseph’s Lullabye,” while a younger member performed a beautiful dance to it.

Then the choir entered from the wings on either side, holding candles.

The lights were turned off.

Slowly we proceeded in to “Silent Night,” one of my favorites.

And I loved the symbolism– of Jesus’s birth. Jesus, the Light of the World, coming into our midst. I was happy to hold a candle, to directly participate in illustrating the love of God for humanity, that He sent his son to live among us, to indeed become human.

I felt a deep kinship with my fellow choir members.

I recognized faces from the pews on Sunday– even though they had a small child or are older themselves. Many would choose an earlier Mass.

There was another service option– this morning, Christmas Day.

But everyone I wanted to see was there. It was community.

And my wish was granted by my dear friend, Dulcinea. She came to see me and support me. She took pictures as I filed in. She photographed our performance, and  best of all, got it on video!

Watching it, I saw reflected what I love about our choir. Rather than stoic and militant, we were alive with movement, joy, and familiarity.

We swayed, clapped, and looked at each other smiling. We cheered on our soloists! It was special.

This choir has given me something vital. A deep sense of belonging. A direct and FUN way to serve my parish while rejoicings simultaneously.

A new group of friends who share my religion and values.

One day, it’ll be me soloing!

We ended with “Joy to the World.”

Dear Lord, what a blessing!!

I feel cherished. I feel grateful. I feel loved.

Merry Christmas to all!

 

 

 

The Joy of Serving: A Thanksgiving Feast

Today I was given the gift of serving the clients at the non-profit where I began work not quite four months ago.

We celebrated Wednesday, since we are closed on the holiday and Friday.

Each staff brought something to our Thanksgiving Feast, and we helped prepare the food at a table. We wore blue latex gloves and the clients filed through, pointing to and asking for what they wanted on their plates.

Prior, I had thoughts of being annoyed at having to wait. What if all the good stuff was gone? But once I saw a spot to hop in and help out, I couldn’t stop smiling.

It just felt so GOOD to do this small thing. It was also humbling. It reminded me that because of these clients, I have a job. A job which I adore and which has totally improved my life in such a short time!

And we had more than enough of everything! Even mashed potatoes.

I got to meet the daughters of another staff member who works in the office with me! They are seven and three. I was astounded to see that the seven-year-old WROTE a story– on the computer. And the grammar was mostly intact with only a few misspellings. She knew she was at her mother’s work, at a “Thanksgiving party.” The story was all about her mother, who she clearly adored.  I asked her if I could have a copy, and she graciously agreed.

How inspiring! I need to be more like that little girl. Recapture my wonder at the ordinary events in my life.

When I wake up, I’ll hit the road to visit my Mother’s family in Iowa. I plan to get going early! I am all packed.

I will arrive to myriad hugs, joking, and pictures to be taken!

This is the first Thanksgiving in five years I have been OFF work! I haven’t been to see them in two years.

I am grateful beyond compare.

I want to close with this Bible verse I found in a journal from this summer:

“Blessed is the one who trusts in the Lord, who confidence is in him. They will be like a tree planted by the water that sends out its roots by the stream. It does not fear when heat comes; its leaves are always green. It has no worries in a year of drought and never fails to bear fruit.”

Jeremiah 17: 7-8

Friendship and a 5K

This morning I woke up early and ran my fourth 5K! My friend Jen and I ran together. It was her first.

And I think it was my favorite one thus far.

Because neither of us cared about our time or being competitive.

We were just doing something to be healthy and to hang out together.

Plus, it’s sponsored by Guardian Angel Services, an organization both of us care about. We’re both in social work.

Jen and I have been friends since freshman year of high school– 1995. That’s 20 years! Holy cow.

The event was called Angels Against Abuse, and before we ran there was a speaker. She talked about how she found the strength to leave her ex-husband, the man who was “the father of my children.”  She repeated that last phrase emphatically– and I got it. Wouldn’t that be the primary arrow aimed at any woman trying to move on and escape an abusive relationship? Aren’t women always pressured to forgive all because they are expected to sacrifice not just her happiness, but her own well-being and safety in the name of keeping the family together? She said she knew if she didn’t leave, one day he would kill her. The most incisive moments for me was when she read excerpts of the love letters he would write her after the abuse. The promises, the begging, the hope he would spark that he really did want to treat her better. Her belief that *she* was the one who could heal him– he’d had a rough life.

She credited her counselor with helping her manufacture courage to start her own life with her children– safely. That counselor was her advocate at each court date, all the way until the divorce was finalized.

Afterward, they hugged. I was definitely tearing up.

And subsequently, the race stated.

There were times she needed to slow down and walk, and there were times that I did. And both of us are happy to comply and wait until the other was ready to run again. We’d talk a little.

And she was always positive, always fun!

It was equal. And both of us suggested running again to the other and encouraged each other to keep going.

We were also laughing because we got hit with not just substantial wind resistance, but rain!!

It was really coming at us! Luckily I had a hoodie from the event, but I was soaked. My toes were squishy in my shoes.

I joked that we were “hardcore” runners now! I I felt like such a bad ass.

Crossing the finish line was such an achievement!! I’ve never had to deal with so much weather in a run.

I did see my time at the end,  but didn’t make particular note of it.

Then we grabbed some refreshments and snacks, thanked each other for a great race,and went our separate ways.

Neither cared about how we ranked. We had achieved our goal!

And now it was time to go home and enjoy it.

In two weeks we have another 5K, in Chicago. Cannot wait!!

Instead: Lyle Lovett Wins

I chose music over fitness tonight.

I drove to Downtown Joliet planning to run this evening. It was after 6. I was driving around looking for a spot to park, when I saw the marquee for The Rialto.

Lyle Lovett and John Hiatt!! Playing tonight, 7:30 p.m.

And decided I can run anytime– but this was not a concert to pass up. I had to try.

So I found parking and rushed to the theatre. At the window I asked if it was sold out– it wasn’t!

I was NOT dressed at all appropriately. Running pants and shoes, a hoodie over it. Bad hair! I wasn’t expecting anyone to see me running solo in the dark. Certainly no make-up. I felt a little ridiculous in the midst of all these threat-going people, mostly dressed up. It was definitely an older crowd— probably mostly ’40s and ’50s. Mostly couples.

I was able to get row M, which is a pretty great seat.

Sadly, I had left my hearing-aids at home. I missed out on a lot of the banter.

The shocking thing is that I knew nothing of Lyle besides that he is Julia Roberts’ ex-husband. I was psyched to see John Hiatt– I have one of his CD’s. I was hoping to hear “Have a Little Faith.”

And once they began, I was smitten by Lyle. They were great together– very comfortable and respectful of each other’s talents. They sang and played together a few times and also allowed each other to shine with solos. The audience was laughing often as Lyle mostly spoke and told stories.

John got better as the eve wore on, but there was not a single Lyle song I didn’t adore. Tragically, I have no idea what most them were that he played. I was able to look a few up on my phone by guessing at lyrics.

Lyle radiated this easy calmness. His songs were so much more inventive and varied, I couldn’t get over it!

The couple directly in front of me was having a wonderful date. She frequently put her arm around the back of his chair and stroked his hair. They leaned in together to whisper and laugh– they kissed a few times. Their shoulders were always touching. Several times, she leaned her head on his shoulder and relaxed. She swayed in her seat, seemingly an equal fan of both. I couldn’t see in the dark if they were married and wore rings– but they radiated the kind of love I imagine most couples would aspire towards. I wanted to ask them how long they’d been together. She had on a leather jacket and shoulder-length hair.

I hope one day I’m part of a couple so unable to hide their affection! It was sweet to behold.

Tonight was something special. Even from where i was sitting, I could see Lyle’s ears sticking out! He had a on suit.

They ended the show, and then re-emerged for an encore. I yelled my song request, along with others I heard.

Luckily, John Hiatt obliged! He did sing “Have a Little Faith,” but it was a  bit anti-climactic. I was just happy that I got to hear the song which motivated me to take a chance on tonight!

It felt so luxurious to be out on a Thursday night enjoying such a wonderful concert.

After that song, I left. It had started circa 7:40 and was nearly 10 and still going! I wanted to beat the crowd. In the lobby I stopped and bought one of Lyle’s CDS: “Release Me.” I played it in the car on the way home. I was a little bummed that more songs weren’t written by him, but all the songs are great regardless.

One thing is for sure! I’ll see Lyle again if I get a chance. And I’ll definitely be exploring his catalog.

What an incredible surprise. Thank you, Mr. Lovett.

The Same Moon

I just went outside to check out the Supermoon Lunar Eclipse….

and met a new neighbor.

“Are you out here to see the same thing I am?” an older woman asked me. She lives in the building next door.

And I did something usually foreign to me.

I befriended a neighbor. Her name is Peggy and she said I’m welcome anytime. She’s very grateful for her new place and I told her the neighborhood is great, which it is!!

She kept using my name and she just seemed so genuinely happy and friendly.

Typically, I’m just uninterested in my neighbors– even inside the building. Sounds bitchy, but that’s me.

Takes me awhile to warm up to people. I just usually hate small talk.

But as we talked, we interrupted the conversation to just gaze at the moon.

It was just so beautiful. The clouds were flirtatious– gliding away and then covering up.

Because of that moon, I made a new friend.

We probably chatted 20 minutes.

I said goodbye because I had left the back door open, only intending on a couple minutes max.

I had to walk to the end of the driveway because the moon was hiding–not visible from the back yard.

What was YOUR moon experience like tonight??

Reminded me of one of my favorite movies, “Moonstruck,” with Cher and Nic Cage.

Was that Cosmo’s Moon tonight??

I think so.