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Archive for September, 2011

It’s funny how much of my life can be related to food – so stereotypical of a fat girl to say, I know. As I draw nearer and nearer to the date on which I give up my old food habits, I can’t help but see food in everything I do, see, say, love, and enjoy. I will expand more upon the eating changes at some later point, as I find the courage to deal with the issue publicly. But for right now, suffice it to say that I am reevaluating my relationship with food and making some major changes.

One of the biggest realizations I have come to is that I need to put people back to the top of the things that I love in this world. I have found myself drawing further and further into solitude as a way of dealing with the hurts and stress of the past 2 years.  I have been retreating further and further from people in a way to avoid stress, hurt, rejection, and pain. This ‘diet’ cannot be healthy for me – and certainly must be hurtful to the people around me.

So I am putting my relationships with my friends and family, the truly important people in my world, back to the top of my menu! I am once again going to feast at the table of the world around me. People are, in my theory, like a giant restaurant – sometimes a buffet, sometimes a fancy steakhouse, sometimes a fast food joint, sometimes an exotic foreign eatery. There are millions of different types of people out there and sometimes you have to be brave and try something new. Sometimes you’ll find that people are bitter or rotten but more often, I would like to think, people are sweet and unique and full of their own unique ‘flavors.’ But remember that the menu isn’t a la carte – people aren’t side dishes.  You can’t pick and choose what qualities they have and don’t have – you have to accept them and enjoy them for all of their ‘flavors’!

As I redefine my relationship with food, I am also going to redefine my relationship with the human race. I am no longer as trusting and naive as I once was – but that’s ok. I’ve tried a few really bad dishes in the past 2 years – I am now ready for a new menu!

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I have a very good guy friend who is, in almost all ways possible, the exact opposite of me. Besides the typical gender-related differences, he is so vastly different from me I sometimes wonder how we ever became friends at all. He is outgoing and can talk to anybody; I am rather shy and quiet around people unless I know them well. He is brash and bold; I am reserved. He is noble and brave; I am afraid of my own shadow half the time.

One of the most interesting differences, though, is how we have each responded to the extreme emotional hurt we’ve dealt with over the years. Like me, his spouse cheated on him and made a mockery of their marriage. Like me, Cupid has run over him with the proverbial truck and left him single in his 30s. And, like me, he is a decent, honest, hardworking human being with a heart of gold.

But, unlike me, he has responded to the hurts inflicted on him by becoming almost pathologically afraid of long-term commitments and decent relationships. My theory is that, in his life prior to when I met him, he wore his heart on his sleeve and gave his love easily. I suspect, from what he has told me about his past, that he fell in love regularly – he was engaged more times than Elizabeth Taylor, for God’s sake! I think he was too eager to love and to be married and to have that lifelong commitment. And, since those various past women screwed him over in a variety of ways, he is now over-compensating and refusing to let himself get attached to anybody! He gets involved with women who he KNOWS can’t stay in a decent relationship – they’re married or they’re drama queens or they’re super-high-maintenance or they’re emotionally unavailable or or or…. Subconsciously, he is attracted to and pursues women who are pretty screwed up (and in some cases, just total trash) because he knows they won’t stay around long. He prevents further hurt and damage to himself by keeping himself emotionally distant from these women.

This is the opposite of how I have dealt with my various broken hearts. I immediately begin looking for the next ‘victim’ and trying to create a new instant relationship. I hand my heart over again and again in an attempt to nab that elusive happy, loving, normal relationship – and ultimately end up with another crack in the broken heart. And yet I can’t seem to stop trying! Instead of becoming the commitment-phobe that my friend is, I am a commitment-addict. Relationships are my ‘heroin’ and I need a quick fix.

About the only thing that my friend and I seem to have in common is that we both seem to be pursuing the WRONG people! Someone once told me that if you lay down with dogs, you will get up with fleas – and both my friend and I seem to be hell-bent on finding those dogs. Neither one of us seem to be looking in the right places for decent, hardworking, non-criminal, non-loser people.

So now that I have psychoanalyzed the situation (and my poor friend who has no idea he is the subject of these deep musings) I know that I need to get off my ‘heroin’ and get rid of the addiction – but NOT become the commitment-phobe that my dear friend is. And we both need to stay away from the relationship dogs and find some decent people!

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If you haven’t figured out yet that this is the 10-year anniversary of the attacks on September 11, 2011, then you need to turn on your tv right away and watch all the emotional and touching coverage. As our generation’s Pearl Harbor, 9/11 is our historical benchmark, the date that changed our world forever.

In college, my thesis was on the concept of collective memory, how our thinking and our sense of history is constructed by our culture, our ethnicities, our race, our gender, our education levels, our economic status and a million other variables. No single event is remembered in the same way by everyone who lived through it – we are each programmed to see that event in a different way.

Thus the way we all remember 9/11 in vastly different ways. I, as with most of the people I know, can tell you exactly what I was doing, where I was, and who I was with for that entire day. I can tell you what I did to deal with the grief of those days. I can tell you about the high school and college classmates that I lost in the tower. Every moment seems to be etched in my brain as I reflect on those history-changing days.

But every person (and their history) is different. Some people knew no one that had been directly involved in the attack while others wandered the streets of Manhattan for weeks trying to find their loved ones. Some people were concerned about the political ramifications of the attack while others concentrated on the human impact of the terrorism. Some people felt that going to war for retribution was the only way to prevent further attacks while others instead volunteered to give their time, money, and health to search Ground Zero for the victims. Some people cloaked themselves in anger and bitterness towards those of the Muslim faith while others gathered in churches and community centers to help each other grieve.

I propose that every single person’s response to the tragedies of that day was shaped by that person’s socioeconomic, religious, social, and political ideologies. Everyone’s reactions were different – and the important thing to remember is that NONE of them are right or wrong. All too often in our society, especially in coping with tragedies like 9/11, we are so terribly judgmental about other peoples’ beliefs and actions. I can’t help but think that if we all were a bit more tolerant of those that think or act differently than we do, tragedies like September 11th wouldn’t happen.

I was amazed and enlightened by the outpouring of common human compassion in the wake of 9/11. The tears that were shed by Americans around the country were genuine and the shattering sense of awakening affected us all. Patriotic pride and the American spirit abounded, as flags were raised around the world and people turned out by the millions to show their support. While one of the most heartbreaking events in our country’s history, that awful day brought out some of the best qualities of the American people and made me truly proud to be a citizen of the United States.

As we sit at the 10-year anniversary of that terrible day, I ask that everyone take a moment to think of all the innocent people that lost their lives that day –  the 411 emergency workers (firefighters, paramedics, and police officers) that gave their lives in the service of others; the thousands of people on the airplanes and in those buildings that were just going about their daily lives; the heroes of Flight 93 who rebelled against the terrorists and prevented their plane from hitting another target; the families and friends of all the victims who have struggled for the last decade to put their lives back together; the survivors who have to live each moment with the terrible memories of that day.

Today is a day to remember those that were lost, to reflect on the tragic cost of hate, to hope for a more peaceful world. Today is the day to thank the first responders in your communities who are running into burning and collapsing buildings to save lives every single day. Today is the day to set aside hate and anger and embrace tolerance and diversity. Today is the day to shed a tear for the moments and memories that the survivors and families have lost with their loved ones. And today is a day to thank whatever Supreme Being you believe in for the blessing of continued life.

I wish you all a peaceful and reverent day of remembrance. God bless America and her citizens.

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I’m taking this idea from one of Baltimore’s more entertaining morning radio shows, the Laurie DeYoung show. Every so often, I will catch a segment on her radio show called “Simple Pleasures” in which callers give examples of the small things in life that make them happy. I LOVE hearing what people have to say – and I love even more the fact that we, as human beings, can remember what those little things are. I’m not sure we take enough to slow down and savor the moments that are all around us. To paraphrase George Strait, I’m not here for a long time, I’m here for a good time.

So here is my list of those simple things that make my days happy:

  • floating in the pool on a sunny summer day
  • a good book in whatever genre you prefer – and the time to actually read it
  • snuggling with the kittens for a nap
  • a summer thunderstorm
  • the new car smell in my (duh!) new car
  • the smell of freshly washed clothes
  • the giggle of a child – especially when they’re laughing with you
  • crawling into bed at the end of the day
  • a compliment
  • a meaningful song on the radio
  • a glass of wine with your best friend
  • the smell of coffee brewing in the morning
  • weeding the garden or mowing the grass
  • being kind to a salesperson or clerk
  • a hug
  • a familiar old movie on TV
  • a backrub
  • an email forward from a friend with either LOL Catz or People of Walmart pictures
  • finding an extra dollar in the laundry so you can buy dinner instead of cooking
  • freshly baked cookies
  • a phone call or text from someone special

These are just some of the little things that make me smile as I wander through regular, everyday life. Please take a moment to think of the things in your life that add a little extra happiness. And smile when these things happen to you – they are the small moments that make our lives complete!

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Today was a sad day in my world. Today I said goodbye to a very good, loyal, dependable old friend – my pickup truck. I bought that truck just months before I moved to Maryland. It was my single redneck girl vehicle, my status symbol. It was how I said “this is who I am” to a new life and a new home. It was the first of my vehicles to ever wear fire department tags. It moved me to my own apartment and then to my own house. It ran countless wedding errands and had the oh-so-inconvenient flat tire in the BWI parking lot at 1:00 am after our honeymoon.

Over the past few years, my ex-husband had ‘custody’ of that splendid piece of machinery. And, I am sorry to report, he did not take very good care of her. She clicked up near 150,000 miles and got damage to her windshield and her seat. The neglect and abuse made her tired and careworn. And, like the famed Camaro, I felt a kinship with my red truck. There was never any maintenance in our marriage, either, so I knew what the truck had to be feeling at the hands of my careless husband. But her frame stayed strong, her looks only slightly faded, and deep down she remains a sturdy, loyal, dependable vehicle.

But it was time for her to move on to another life. I couldn’t pay to repair her to her former glory days – too much damage had been done. I knew it was time to say goodbye, to let her go.

I know it’s silly and stupid to have gotten emotionally attached to an inanimate object – and even sillier for a girl to make her truck into an old friend – but I am going to miss her. She was a symbol of a life long gone and of the girl that I used to be. I will always look back on that vehicle with great fondness and happy memories.

So today I let another part of my past go, said goodbye to another part of my old life and my history. I am building a new life for myself but it didn’t stop me from shedding a few tears for that beautiful red truck and the life I’ve lost. I will miss you, Red, thanks for the memories.

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