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Mid-Life Crisis? Me? Umm.. No.

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“Girls Night Out”  Me (left) with two of my amazing friends, Natascha and Kate, on my trip to California.

I was explaining to my son exactly why I went on a vacation to California, leaving him and his older brother in the care of their father.

“Yeah, yeah, yeah.  I know.  You’re going through a mid-life crisis.”

I spun around so quickly, I think I scared him.  The only reason why my youngest boy didn’t receive my full wrath after that remark was because I figured he had been parroting the words of my ex.  He had to have been.  Who else would be so closely affected by me wanting to escape from responsibility for a mere week (out of 1,144 weeks that we were together)?  The one man on this planet to have tried – and succeeded – to have guilted me from doing those things and seeing those people who really fed my soul.  (Okay, so I allowed it, but still…)

“Mid-life crisis” is usually said with a judgmental and condescending tone.  To me, this phrase smacks of negativity.  As if reaching this point is a bad thing, as if we’ve stepped over to the darker side of the tracks.

Anyway, whoever whispered that choice little phrase into my son’s ear needs to hear what I have to say.

Self Discovery is the new Mid-Life Crisis. 

“Mid-life crisis,” I think, is being in a place of self discovery.  It’s when we look around and reassess our life and say, “Hey! There I am! I had no idea I would enjoy something like that.”  So we start playing and doing things we’d forgotten to have fun doing.  Stuff we’d stupidly put on hold for… what?  Whatever we were doing that we felt took precedence over our own needs, could have been tailored to work around or with us.  If we hadn’t shelved the fun or passion for so long, we never would have gotten to this point in the first place.  And while we’re in this state of “confusion,” our loved ones sit back and patiently wait for us to “come back” to our senses.  Will we ever come back?  I hope not.

I believe those with the tsk, tsk attitude might be a tad frightened when people like me wake up one day and say they’ve had enough.  I’m a threat.  I can single-handedly shake their tree and leave them scratching their heads, wondering what just blew through their forest.  I’m a break from their safe routine.

The reality is that this state of mind should be encouraged, for it is through the process of finding out what makes us happy, that this happiness will undoubtedly spill over into the outside world, not fester and breakdown, such as what happened to me not too long ago.

So, today, on my 50th birthday, I find myself still making up for lost time, and with a little help from my friends, the road to discovery has been over-the-top amazing.

The joy I’ve found and the joy I have yet to find will be for my friends and family as well.  So, here’s to 50 more years of self discovery….  Cheers!

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A Man’s Role In A Woman’s World

“When you marry a girl, don’t expect her to abandon her girlfriends, because you’ll never be able to take their place.”  ~ A man to his son

Truer words were never spoken.  It’s that whole DNA thing again.  A basic need that appears on an almost daily basis, to connect, to absorb, to reach out to our female counterparts – feeling completely and undeniably safe to expose whatever thoughts that happen to surface.  We know we will be accepted, but that’s a given because after all, women are from Venus, aren’t we?

But in life, there must be balance.  The yin to the yang, the black to the white, the leather to the lace.

So if I were to place an ad in the newspaper tonight, it would say something like this:

Wanted:  Seeking Males for Friendship Only – Applications now being accepted.

I’d do it because I like men, because some are strong, some are witty.  Some give that big brother feeling that women just want to embrace.  But most of all, men offer something girlfriends can’t – a perspective of life from a male’s point of view.  Men offer the other half of balance.  These friendships are easy-going and safe and are an underrated commodity that is a shame not to pursue.

 

But can men and women truly be friends?   It depends on who you’re talking to.

In college, I hooked up with Rob, who was my best male friend through my first year.  As a couple, we went bowling, watched movies, ate Chinese food in front of the TV, and took walks on the beach – sans the emotions.  It was a nice change from hanging out all the time with my three female roommates whose emotions ran to the extremes from one day to the next.

Then there was Chuck, Dave, and Dave (yes, two) who were always up for taking me and my roommates out clubbing.  Again, just as friends, and if there was any sexual tension between any of us, we never let it get in the way of our friendship.

Is this the exception rather than the rule?  What happens when there is attraction on one side?  What if two people met at the wrong time in each other’s lives and a relationship beyond friends is not an option?

A friend told me once that in order for men and women to be friends, the attraction had to run its course and then, only then, could the two be friends.

And if it didn’t run its course?  We could walk away, but then we literally toss out any chance of interaction with a person we were attracted to in the first place.  It’s a case of cutting off our nose to spite our face, and both sides usually feel the loss.

The end result of any relationship doesn’t have to be the progression of the human race or co-habitation in order to fall into the roles society has set up.

Friendships between men and women can be….just because.

What about you?  Do you think men and women can be friends?  If you are married, do either of you have opposite-sex friends?  If not, do you find yourself missing it?  I’d love to know!

Indulge In Bonding – It’s A Primal Need

Finally Friday!  For some that means a few more hours until the start of the weekend, hanging out with friends or sleeping in.  For me, it’s just another day.  Not a big deal.  It’s just that I have this thing about relaxing.

I don’t know how to do it.  I only have two speeds – fast and faster.  Crazy, I know, but a lot of us are like that.   Our strength is immeasurable; our talent for multitasking is, in a word, unbelievable.   This is a gift that is given to all mothers and is a gift that serves us well.

But what if we take all that energy and run with it?  I mean run away with it?  I’ve read a couple of books lately (Nothing Stays in Vegas and The Bridge Club) that just has me screaming ROAD TRIP!

Personally, I’ve set my sights on Italy.

Lazise, Lago di Garda, Italy – Photo by Ian Britton – freefoto.com

I love every single picture I have ever seen of Italy.  I want to experience first hand the food and the culture.  I adore la bella lingua.  Heck, even four-letter words sound seductive in Italian.  (And, I’ll admit, I am a bit curious about the men, but who isn’t?)  I even have a couple of Italian pen pals to help me learn the language.

A trip to Italy would be incredible.  A trip to Italy with my girlfriends would be unbelievable.   So I pick my posse – My cousin Toria, an incredible writer who encouraged me all the way through my first novelKathleen, also a great writer, who is my copy editor for my work in progress.  Aunt Renee, who has my vote of most likely to get us into wicked trouble.  Natascha, my cyber friend who I’ve gotten to know over the last year and just cannot wait to finally meet.

Whether out of the country or just out of town, there’s something about a band of women in unfamiliar surroundings that just brings out the best in us.  Our true, untamed selves spark to life when there is no one looking over our shoulder, no one judging what we do.  Secrets are shared, fears are exposed – and we’d all go to the grave without ever betraying what we know or what we’ve seen.   We play hard, we fight hard, and we love much too easily.  Sure, we can get bitchy sometimes, but that’s part of our charm.  In the end, we’ve got each other’s backs.  This bond of sisterhood has been ingrained in our DNA since the day the caveman discovered fire.

So whether Friday signals an end to your week or the start of another, let’s all feed the need of sisterhood and get in some much-needed girl time.

This goes for you men out there as well.  Not being part of the male gender limits my perspective a bit, but I know the need for male bonding is just as important.

What I want to know is this…how often do you get out with your own posse to do some serious decompressing?  What is the craziest trip you’ve ever taken?  Do you make it a priority in your life?  I’d seriously love to know!

By the way, since my last post, I’ve been fortunate to discover three other Facebook communities of the sisterhood!  The Divine Secrets of a Domestic Diva, Home C.E.O., and Chibi Cow.  Give them a check-out.  It will be well worth your time!!

Girl Power – Totally Real, Totally Raw

“Mom…That’s not right.”

“What’s not right, honey?”  I wasn’t really paying attention to what he was referring to.  I was focused instead on getting us across the busy street in one piece.

“That.”

I backed us both up and followed his gaze in the direction of his pointed finger…all the way to my stomach.

To the approximately one and a half inches of exposed skin.

“I don’t get it.” I asked.  “What’s wrong with that?”

“I dunno.”  He wouldn’t meet my eyes when he said, “Mothers just don’t do that.”

Is this what he had in mind?

Hmm…Okaaaay.   So show me whatever book that is written in so I can refresh myself with the rules of being a mother.  Obviously I had forgotten them.

“Who said mothers don’t do that?” was my reply.

“Well, Jeffrey’s mom doesn’t do that.”

That stung a bit and I got a tad defensive.  “Yeah?  Well, here’s a newsflash for you, kiddo.   I’m not Jeffrey’s mother and I am not like other moms.”

In the silence that followed, I thought about this and quietly rephrased it.  Most moms are not like most moms.

It’s hard to live up to the standards and expectations that society has so cruelly branded into our foreheads, and when we deviate, either privately or publicly, we usually end up with an elephant-sized guilt trip riding on our shoulders.  We worry what others might think.  We wonder if we’re going to be the topic over the next morning’s coffee.  Will so-and-so’s mother let our little Johnny play with her son anymore?  In a little town like the one I live in, word of deviant behavior travels like wildfire.  We might as well be walking around with some big scarlet letter silk-screened on our shirts.

I understand that not every woman has an alter ego kicking and screaming to be heard, and that’s okay.  As long as she is happy.  Happy is good.

But speaking for myself, I love a great trashy novel, love slamming down shots of tequila, and have been known to drop the F-bomb on a few occasions – but only when no other word in the English language would suffice.  Okay, on more than a few occasions.  But that’s not the point.  The point is that I’d be willing to bet there’s a little bit of wildness to some degree in all of us women, mother or not.

In an earlier blog I spoke about trying to be someone I wasn’t – the perfect example of the wife and mother – and it killed me.   So I loosened up a little and stopped trying to be so perfect.  I mean, how bad can it really be when even the Queen Mother will toss back a beer?

queen mother

I can’t be wrong on this because there are a minimum of 4000+ women who have embraced their wild and aggressive side and made it more than okay to be that way.  A close friend of mine has created a Facebook page for women, mostly mothers, to vent their frustrations and generally blast apart whatever is annoying them at the moment.  It’s not a place for the easily offended, because it gets totally real, totally raw.  The page is called Give Me A Valium With My Latte.  Reading the threads usually has me laughing out loud and/or shaking my head in amazement.  These women say what I can only think, and I consider myself a fairly outspoken person.  Here is where it all hangs out.

Facebook harbors a community of like-minded women who feed off of each other’s boldness and use it to fuel the smoldering fire within them.  Other fabulous mommy pages on Facebook are The Brazen Apron, Maybe It’s NOT Me, Maybe It Is You, Epic Mommy Fails, and Reality With A Twist Of Lime.

Keep this in mind – Just because we allow ourselves to dance the line between the expected and the unexpected, doesn’t mean we don’t love our families or fail to put them at the top of the priority list.  It’s just that we agree to share that space with them.  As it should be.

So how about you (men included)?  Do you tend to play down certain characteristics out of fear of disapproval?  Is cutting loose ever an option for you?  Do you allow yourself to be truly you?  Let me know!  I’d love to hear from you!