Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Do You Really Want a Nice Guy?

What do you want? I have a theory that in fact, regardless of how happy or unhappy you are, you have exactly what you want.
 It’s a highly developed scientific theory. Like most of my highly developed theories it was born of laying on the beach with a friend discussing human behavior. Ours, our friends, co-workers, children, boyfriends of the moment, and total strangers. Back when we believed whole heartedly that given the chance and resources we could fix all the world’s problems.
And maybe we could have.
 If we’d really wanted to.
I remember the beginning of this theory like it was yesterday. Probably because I’ve thought about it a lot in the twenty plus years since.  After all, people talk every day about what they want.  
“I want to quit smoking” “I want a happier marriage” “I want to be healthier” “I want to live where it’s warm” “I want to make more money” “I hate my job” “I want to get out of debt” “I want to feel better about myself” “I want to date nice guys”
“Why do I not have what I want?”
Twenty-ish years ago my beach friend was nearing forty. She had one tween and some teen children of her own. The man she loved was a little older with no children. He talked often about how much he wanted kids. He would get sad around the holidays because everyone he knew had children to share them with and he did not. His pain around being childless affected his behavior and it affected her.
So she went to a doctor to discuss getting her tubes untied. Mostly to make him happy. Partly to help her decide if she wanted it to. She didn’t. Her love was very disappointed and it was a big problem.
Then, in a moment of sun baked clarity, my friend asked “if he wants kids so bad why does he keep dating women who either don’t want them (or more of them) or can’t have them? He could be dating younger women or women who really want children. Why me? Why put all this time and energy into a woman whose tubes are tied!? If it were me I’d have said early on….I like you, but I plan on having kids so this isn’t going to work for me”.  
Her love didn’t want children as much as he thought he did. Or he’d have been doing exactly what she said. He knew early in the relationship that she had her tubes tied. For the obvious reason that she didn’t want more kids. Yet he pursued her intensely. Why? Because he wanted something else more than he wanted children. Something I can’t define and he might not be able to define either.
When I hear women tell me they never meet nice men. I think to myself “I meet them all the time. And so do you. You just don’t want anything to do with them”. You want something else. There are a lot of nice men in the world. I’ve got a highly developed scientific theory about what women want who don’t date nice men, but that’s another two pages.
People put their energy into what they want. So they get it. If you want to smoke cigarettes, you’re time, energy and money go into smoking. Money you could spend on that laptop you think you want, but what you want more is a cigarette. Time you could spend on anything else you think you want, but you actually want that cigarette.
Yes that’s somewhat dumbed down. Cigarettes are an easy target. And people’s true desires can be deeply hidden, even when it comes to something as simple as smoking. Maybe your true desire is to connect with people and all the people in your life connect while smoking cigarettes. Your desire for connection is more powerful than your desire to not smoke. The deeper desire is difficult to see and difficult to find a replacement for.
Someone is in a miserable marriage. They’ve complained about it for years. They ask themselves every day “why don’t I change this?” Maybe it’s as simple as the fear of having to change an entire life; financially and otherwise. But maybe their desire to see their spouse punished for an affair they had ten years ago is stronger than their desire for a happy life. Whatever it is, they don’t want what they think they want.
What do you really want? Don’t look at what you don’t have when asking that question. Look at what you do have. Look at what you spend your time doing. Because it’s the answer. You want whatever it is you put your energy into.
You’re actions speak louder than your words. You’re reality is what you have made it. When the day comes that you actually want something, more than what you have, you will be actively working at making it happen.
I don’t let myself off the hook. I asked myself this question recently. I won’t tell you the answer yet because I’m somewhat ashamed of it. But someday.


Friday, March 14, 2014

Green Grass Part 3: DREAM

The e mail from my daughter contained a link to a job posting for a "content writer" at an online magazine called She said "you should do this mom". They asked for a resume and writing sample. I figured they wouldn't be impressed with my ten years as a probation officer, my stint as a child protective services investigator or the years I contracted with family court as an investigator in contested child custody battles.


My first thought was to delete it. Instead I said "what the hell"? I sent a semi goofy e mail, links to this blog and the facebook page associated with it. The publisher responded with interest, we e mailed, we discussed and ultimately we agreed I would write an article for her magazine based on an upcoming trip I was taking to the U.K by myself.

Cray Cray! My dreamer daughter who always believes you can make the life you want was dreaming for me.

Below is the link to my first PAID writing job. It's also my first experience with being "edited". A tad annoying but something I can live with. It's not going to pay enough for me to make a living and I may not ever get paid again. But what it did was tip me over the edge of "what now" into "anything is possible. Do some dreaming".

Do some dreaming. is the website and the publisher is also a woman in her fifties looking to live her next act. Check it out.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

What Do You Love?

What do you love? What are you grateful for?
I know, totally cliché. There can be truth in cliché. If you struggle with finding something you’re grateful for, or you don’t have something you love in your life, then I’m sad for you. That would suck.
By “something to love” I mean now. Not “if I had more money” or a different job, or no job, or lived in a different town, or lost weight, or found a man. Today. What do you have in your life that you love? 
If you have something you love, then I’m guessing you’re already grateful.
Years ago I told someone “I have no tolerance for being miserable”. And I don’t. To be clear, I have no expectation of happiness either. I’m grateful I was born into circumstances where my basic needs (food, clothing, shelter) were met. Someone loved me. I was born with good health, above average intelligence and decent looks. In a time and into a country where women have opportunity. If not equal opportunity. All of these things contributed to my ability to pursue the cliché “more out of life”. I’m aware that’s not a given. I’m grateful I’ve had a certain amount of luck in my life.
 I do not expect that no tragedy will touch me or that I will never be ill. That people will never disappoint me and that in short, things will not always go my way. But I have no tolerance for misery which I have any control over. Not even a little bit. Therefore I have things I love and I do them. They make me happy. Happy is better than unhappy.
When I ask what do you love? It’s not the same as who do you love. Who do you love can be tricky. It can be a trap. It can mean that you mostly do what someone else loves, that you put their needs before your own, that you forget what you love.
No, I’m asking what-do-YOU-love and do you do it?
When was the last time you realized “this moment could not be better”? Whether you were gardening, cooking, walking in the rain, writing a story, riding a motorcycle, taking karate lessons, singing a song, dancing, or…. You get the point.
When was the last time you loved something so much that there was nowhere else you would rather be and nothing else you would rather be doing?
I hope it’s today.


Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Whose tougher than Ray Lewis? Elizabeth Smart!

“Elizabeth Smart is a flat out bad ass” I thought, looking out over the crowd of women I fit in distressingly well with. Hundreds of “ladies who lunch”. Invited to a fund raiser for a girls group home. Elizabeth at the podium being inspirational while telling as little of her story as possible. Something I admired and understood. She described herself pre-kidnapping as a “wallflower” and “beyond painfully shy”. For the most extroverted of us, having the world voyeuristically invested in your abduction, torture and rape would be ugly.
It’s incredible where you can find bad assness. This benign looking young woman drenched in it. A girl that frankly, without her kidnapping, and in her own words would be “just another blonde girl from Utah”. Someone your eyes would slide by on their way to shinier more interesting targets.
I kept thinking about how I’d see Elizabeth if I didn’t know her story. How I might tell someone “I met the sweetest kid today”. People watching at the mall I’d dismiss her as a “wallflower”. Her shoulders are slightly rounded in and her face a bit flushed, she doesn’t look quite comfortable. She seems an introverted even frightened girl. Sitting at a table of people, if she stood out, that’s what she’d stand out for.
When in fact she’s a bad ass. A David kills Goliath kind of bad ass. An “I eat navy seals and NFL linebackers for breakfast” kind of badass. She’s a real hero that mostly matters just to women. It’s the way we define tough in this country that puts Elizabeth Smart on the speaking circuit for women’s and children’s issues. While someone like Ray Lewis, an ex NFL something or other, will be sought out by corporations, politicians, government agencies, and likely even some women’s and children’s organizations. He'll command much larger fees than Elizabeth’s. He’ll be a highly sought out motivational speaker because he played football. Because he was good at football. Football (sigh).
Would he have cried hysterically and begged for his mother if someone (bigger, stronger, and meaner than him) woke him up in the middle of the night with a knife to his neck, drug him to a remote mountain top, chained him like a dog and repeatedly raped him. Keeping him, in Elizabeth’s words “as an object. Not even a pet”. There for him to “do whatever he wanted with. To be a permanent audience when he wanted to talk” and a physical object when he didn’t.
The kind of tough men we glorify in sports and television, men like Ray Lewis who may have killed a man in real life and can beat them on a football field. And Jax Teller from the TV show Sons of Anarchy. Jax whose biker gang character runs hookers and films porn. Jax who beat up his ex-girlfriend in order to gain custody of his son. Men who carry guns and get in fights and pick fights on sports fields. We think they’re tough.
Those men have nothing on Elizabeth Smart. Who literally walked through the valley of death and came out a gracious, loving, and optimistic human being trying to make the world a better place. Elizabeth Smart who understands that “everyone has a story and a struggle but everyone’s struggle is different”. Whose hope for the abused and neglected girls she’s championing is that they “understand nothing in their past can cheat them of their value as human beings”.
In this video of Ray Lewis, giving a motivational speech for a group of young athletes at Stanford University, he asks “If tomorrow wasn’t’ promised what would you give for today?”
It’s a good question. And one that Elizabeth Smart can answer. At 14 years old, that little girl spent every day thinking tomorrow might not come. But Ray Lewis faced down big mean football players while making millions of dollars to do it. He's a bad ass.
I’m amusing myself with the pictures in my head of Elizabeth Smart walking into that locker room in Stanford, asking the question “If tomorrow wasn’t promised what would you give for today”. The looks on the boy's faces that say “who the hell is this? Joe… who IS this? Ummmm coach the social work departments speaker got lost”.
They don’t know for tough.