November 29, 2006

Going cruisin'.....

I've been sooooo stressed, like the pressures at work have not stopped for a minute. A new doctor added to the group, a receptionist who quit with no notice after three years, a new file clerk that lasted two days, a few very sick patients, and yada yada, I'm just at the edge. I cried at work, maybe the third time in decades, not counting the months after my mom died, and the docs got weird, like typical guys who don't know how to deal with an emotional woman. We'll all survive, I keep telling myself, over and over. When I'm not taking those deep breaths...

So, listen, we're going on a cruise, me and the WOW group. A weekend cruise on a ship called Paradise, with several other singles groups, and I'm gonna just forget everything. We'll eat, do some power walking on the decks, take a few yoga classes, sit and watch the ocean go by, read a good book, and eat and sleep whenever we want. And party! There is that late night off-color show that is so fun and a disco that starts after that! That is paradise, no question. Plus, I've got the company of my WOW ladies, those fabulous women who have similar stresses in life and always sail through. Silly us, we think that life's troubles are learning experiences and that life is a challenge that we enjoy.

So, wish us Bon Voyage! I promise to take pictures and put them on the blog! Happy trails to us!!!!

November 22, 2006


I reminds me of the children's story, how the little train chugged and chugged and said "I think I can" until it got to the top of the mountain. Sometimes life is really like that, a struggle against obstacles and difficult situations and sometimes ourselves. Geez, we grow up thinking that life is a fairy tale, that we will find Our Prince and have a house with a white picket fence and beautiful children and live happily-ever-after and then it doesn't turn out that way. Except for the beautiful children, since I do have a daughter who is lovely and wonderful and talented and a really good mommy to my two delightful grandbabies.

So we grow up and it's not so rosy. Our prince isn't so prince-like and our life is sometimes a series of problems to solve and sometimes we don't have enough money and sometimes the people who are supposed to love us just don't know how and we have stresses at work and sometimes we just feel defeated. And we don't seem to ever get to that age where we thought life would be trouble-free and we find that there are even new problems we didn't anticipate or thought they only happen to other people and when will it ever get easy?

But maybe life is supposed to be this way, so full of challenges and problems and disappointments so that we will appreciate our blessings. I've always thought that happiness is a choice. Challenges can be thought of as confidence and self-esteem builders, sickness can make us appreciate our health, loneliness can be considered time to reflect and renew, and loss can instead be a time to remember the lovely times that preceeded it.

On this Thanksgiving eve, I am thankful for the health of my daughter and her family and the immense joy they bring to me, the job that allows me a place to be productive and useful, the roof over my head that affords me safety and a place to nest, my new women friends who have opened their lives to me and given me so many happy moments, my old friends who have stuck with me through my ups and downs, and my continuing good health. I am clearly rich beyond measure.

November 18, 2006


She sat at her desk quietly. It was the end of a busy day, full of grandkids, hiking and laughing and climbing at the park and a bubble bath full of giggles. Now it was quiet and she was alone with her thoughts.

Break-ups just suck, she thought. She was lucky, though, and had a group of women friends who shared her sadness and were full of comforting words. How she should be grateful for having had the experience of being with this great guy, being so full of life and passion, and how they hunger for that themselves. How relationships were about learning and growing and that each one in our lives has a certain time to it, and no more. How she is a fabulous and wonderful woman who will attract another man some day who will adore her and cherish her and she will be full of passion again.

But, in the quiet moments, it still hurts. If only we had talked more and argued less, she thought. If only we had appreciated each other more and looked for issues less. If only we had seen more movies, taken more walks, talked more and listened more – then maybe it would have lasted. If only she had watched more and reacted less. If only she had hugged him more when he was upset. If only, if only, if only. If only she had loved better.

But it doesn’t bring him back, all this aching, and she knows it. It doesn’t make him willing to push through the pain and learn a better way to get along. It doesn’t take away his hurt and her hurt and the things they shouldn’t have said to each other. It doesn’t give them the courage to fight for what was so wonderful, to look at their own shortcomings instead of the other’s, to forgive and move forward. It doesn’t give them the chance to fix something broken, to create a new picture, to fall in love again. It doesn't give them a chance, after feeling such a loss, to make it beautiful again.

Books and love and happy times.

Ah, women. How I love this WOW group. After one year together of dinners and speakers and meals at restaurants, we got together tonight for a book exchange. The idea was to talk about books we've read and enjoyed and to loan or give away books we've already read. Our book choices showed us to be more than a group of fun and beautiful women, but also a group of women who think and feel and connect with the world. OK, some of us admit to enjoying our "chick-lit" books, those lovely diversions starring strong women who conquer their worlds. We read books on finance to ethnic literature to metaphysics - and everything in between.

No matter what events we share, we women bring great riches to the table. We share in the commonality that we all love, we yearn, we think, we strive, we succeed, we fail - but we go forward, risking more pain, hoping for more joy, with hearts as big as the sky. And we have fun together and sometimes we laugh so hard that we cry - this kind of pleasure that women bring to each other that can't be found with men. There aren't the right words to describe this women bonding, how we get together, even with newcomers amongst us, and can speak our hearts and comfort each other during sadness and share the joys of our sucesses, just because we are women. And we understand.

I'll say it again and again, that you have all enriched my life beyond measure. I find joy in your company, I cherish your comforting and encouraging words, and am honored that you bless me with who you are. You beautiful women.

November 16, 2006

Does a woman really want a man to be a man?

We took another trip to Leon's to meet Wayne Levine ( runs the West Coast Men's Center in Agoura Hills, CA. The topic was "Finding your Nuts: Does a Woman Really Want a Man to be a Man." Cute teaser, but Wayne's mission is to allow men to find out how to be the best men they can be by bonding and mentoring in groups with other men. It seems that men learn how to be men from their fathers, who are often lousy role models. Their fathers were often weak men who allowed their wives, these guys' mothers, to dominate them, so the men we meet grow up angry at both of their parents, causing difficulty in their own romantic relationships. And thus is the cycle of both men and women being frustrated, anxious, and depressed, more and more as relationships fail - and men typically have nowhere to go to with these feelings, except to lash out at their mates and the cycle continues.

So Wayne allows them a place to find their manhood by determining their N.U.T.S., their "Non-negotiable Unalterable Terms," and the tools needed to be successful in relationships. Ah, the tools: Silence the little boy, express feelings without defensiveness, cooperate without compromising N.U.T.S, run the romance department, be the rock, listen, don't argue, and develop trusting relationships with men. It's all in his new book, "Holding on to Your N.U.T.S."

Clearly, some of the men at Leon's were resistent and some even hostile to the concept of learning from other men. As a women who has met many angry men in my life, I am comforted and joyous to hear that there is a place for men to go to learn to be the best men they can be. I applaud men who take this often difficult and painful path in seeking wholeness. I know that men don't usually buy self-help books and that for some it's not "manly" to admit shortcomings and express feelings - but I can't help but think how happy these men must become as they find their confident and joyful real selves.

November 2, 2006

Love and Honor.

Tonight, a few of us went to Conversations At Leon's to hear a possible speaker for WOW. I know, I know, Leon's is that crazy place where the audience takes over and the speakers have little or no chance to present their subjects. But maybe, this time, it will be different? It actually wasn't so bad and, oddly, it was the women not so much the men who tried their best to run the show. Imagine that!

The speaker was Adam Shreve, author of the book "Love and Honor." His premise is that we all have relationships in every part of our lives and that certain techniques will help them be healthy and loving. Golly, we've certainly heard this before, haven't we? Still, he had a rather basic message, that love is an action. That love, matched with honor, is something we give as a gift to those we love and is returned "as a carbon copy" back to us. He suggested we start by writing "gratitudes," a list of things we love in the other person (and in ourselves), that by changing our attitude from blaming to appreciation we will see others differently and that they will rise to live up to how we see them. We must "come from" self-love, gratitude, forgiveness, acceptance, integrity, receptivity, and spontaneity. And that we tell the loved one the things on the list, the reasons we are grateful for them, the things about them that we love and honor.

Frankly, I was astonished at the simplicity of his message, like he was teaching "Relationships 101 for Dummies". The crowd was full of cliches and antecdotes and I admit I felt surprised that the listeners were finding his topic new and interesting and challenging, since it seemed so basic to me. Love thyself or you can't love anyone else. Your first relationship is to yourself. Let go of expectations. Think the best of others.

We've certainly heard all this before. But maybe a lesson on how to love by telling the other person the very reasons that we do love them is a message that can't be told too much and we too rarely remember. And maybe we smart people make it all too complicated. Life is pretty tough and challenging and sometimes troubling - it's a lovely reminder to keep it simple and remember what made us fall in love in the first place. And tell the one we love.