May 30, 2010

Margaret the Magnificent.

I was treated to another Wow meeting at my house this week.  Once again, my quiet home fills with the smells of potluck dishes and the cheery voices of women.  I send out invitations and the Wowettes bless me with a delicious meal and their delightful company.

Our speaker was Margaret Futerer of  Once again, I picked Margaret from an online speakers site and really didn't know if she would be a good speaker, but I was intrigued by the introduction on her website, "Each one of us is magnificent, each one of us has magnificence within our core. We have our own unique gifts, hopes, dreams, passions and purpose. Every woman has within her the incredible power to change her life and become more of the amazing woman she carries within her.  Through a series of books, speeches, workshops and mentoring, Margaret Futerer guides women of all ages to discover and liberate their magnificent potential. Her programs are designed to help women develop the courage and compassion to set themselves free from the stories of their past. Through Margaret's workshops and weekend retreats women are inspired to connect with their life purpose and become the Magnificent women they were born to be.  After the last very difficult four years on my job, I had finally realized, with some professional help, that the buttons in me being pushed by the new doctor were from my childhood and the thought of Margaret helping me to get past those wounds was irresistible.

And so was Margaret.  Lovely, friendly, and smiling, she entered my house and I immediately felt a kinship.  She was soft spoken but clearly strong, and I anticipated her story to inspire us all, and it did.  Margaret was raised in a polygamous commune and grew up believing that the purpose of girls was to be wives and have babies and that they were to never have opinions or make decisions of their own. She watched girls grow up, be married in their mid teens, and have baby after baby.  Her own mother had fifteen pregnancies and twelve children. The curious would sometimes visit her commune and move on, often leaving their children behind to fend for themselves. Even as a young child, she seemed to know she wanted more than this life and escaped at 17, creating a life of travel and adventure, all the time changing like a chameleon, always trying to find out who she really was. Different clothes, different behaviors, different cities, different men, and still Margaret didn't really know herself.  Without support, she managed to survive on her own, even attending college and creating a business.  She finally devised a three page list with descriptions of each quality she sought in a mate and amazingly did meet the man who fit the bill completely.

So she got married, was successful in business, had two children and was still not happy.  Then, when the economy struggled, she lost her business and almost her house and then, after believing she could fix anything, she found herself flailing.  Still, this challenge prompted her to reconnect with herself and her intuition.  She started to really listen to herself and become aware of the "shoulds" she had placed on her self and her life and began the process of healing.  She realized that she had focused on what was wrong in her and her life and that it had caused depression, so she decided to stop listening to those thoughts and instead focus on gratitude.  She said when we shift from the negative to the positive, we become able to see the real possibilities in our lives.   Next, she realized she needed to forgive.  In forgiving her parents and forgiving herself for holding on to the emotional attachments of those old resentments, she found emotional liberation.  Free of anger and bitterness and negativity, Margaret was able to connect with her real self, which led to her beginning to write and thus finding the beautiful creative voice that was within her.

Finally, Margaret discovered she was magnificent and realized that ALL women are magnificent - sensitive, nurturing, passionate, intuitive, and creative. If we connect with the magnificence in us, "we can do anything."  Rather than being defined by our possessions or our job or our family, we are truly defined by "the relationship with ourselves."  She ended by saying to all of us women, "I am magnificent.  You are all magnificent."  And for once, we were completely speechless, like something extraordinary had just happened within each and every one of us, as if each of us had realized, yes, regardless of our difficult childhood, our failures in relationships, our financial hardships, our anxieties....we are really, really magnificent.

When I had called Margaret to confirm that she was planning to attend the meeting and thanked her for her willingness to drive one to two hours to share her story with us, she said, "I love to inspire groups of women."  I know the Wowettes were wowed by Margaret, and myself, I think I'll never be the same.  After struggling all my life to overcome the pain of my upbringing and the ensuing failures and struggles of my life, I finally realize that it's just about realizing that I am magnificent, just as I am today, and that really, none of the past matters.  Thanks, Margaret, for opening our eyes to recognizing our own magnificence and loving ourselves.  Just as we are. Today.

May 24, 2010

A few guys respond...

Sometimes my writing touches a nerve.   Remember the guy online who I was liking in the first emails and then sent me naked pics of himself?  He apologized for offending me with the pics and then we had some nice emails back and forth.  He complimented my past blog writing and my appearance and we had a few cool discussions of philosophy and our ideas about relationships.   Then he suggested we meet in person and sent him my phone number and he wrote that he "hated" phones and preferred to meet in person.  I replied that I'm not comfortable meeting without talking on the phone first but, since his emails only came during the day during work hours and he didn't want to call me, I was getting the idea that he was probably married or otherwise attached and then he wrote:  "I'm sorry, but I think I'm going to stop this back-and-forth between us. You seem like a very intelligent, thoughtful, and physically attractive (!) woman, but I keep getting the feeling like you're trying to leash me and house-train me. Starting with the tsk-tsk about sending you some tastefully revealing photos, followed by the public flogging on your blog, the largely negative remarks about men ("passive-aggressive", alpha-male, father fear, etc.),the reluctance to discuss or contemplate anything sexual until you've been treated like a princess and wooed, and now concluding with the terms under which you would meet, you've left me afraid that you really do like to domesticate your men and call the shots. Maybe this is because you've had a lot of less-than-satisfactory experiences with them, but I don't want to put on a leash all the time because you've had a few dogs that behaved badly. I'm too nice, intelligent, and well-mannered for this bullshit. You blew it with your strong-arm tactics."

 Yikes! I'm always glad to find out a potential date is angry or bitter or nuts in some way before I agree to meet, so thank you for showing me this side of you up front.  Somehow, I don't think that being offended by naked pics showing details of your private parts or asking to speak on the phone before meeting are "strong-arm" tactics but, again, thanks for sparing me seeing this side of you in person.

I was kinda unnerved by this guy, obviously, and was delighted to hear from another guy who told me his opinion in a very kind and amusing  way:  "Hi Ellen - Maybe you're setting your sights too high? I mean expecting to find an employed Prince Charming with a brain who is ALSO single on line???? Hope springs eternal doesn't it? You hit it right though - no matter what our age, we really do have just one thing on our minds. (I am fond of saying that God only gives us enough blood to run one head at a time.) But even though you've probably made some nice female friends on line you haven't met any male keepers have you? I can't speak for all men but I'd hazard that you won't meet the man of your dreams there. You're obviously good looking and intelligent but do you project approachability (if that is even a word) when you are out and about? I mean you are able to
'converse' with a stranger on line but have you ever walked up to a guy in the supermarket and struck up a conversation? Even a smile might invite a man to ask you to dinner rather then cook that single piece of chicken in your basket.  Sometimes you just have to take a chance and let the Universe provide..."

Thank you for your opinion!  It's really the conundrum of the times.  I remember in years past, before computer dating,  how we girls would go to Friday night happy hours and meet nice guys every week.  There were really cool guys at Parents Without Partners events and friends' houses and at the Longhorn Saloon where I was on the dance team.  But there hasn't been PWP for a long time and the Longhorn closed years ago and friends don't have parties like they used to.  And yes, I've been to dozens of local singles events recently, like Meetups or dances and it's like a graveyard, $20 for a bad dinner and singles my age hanging out with the ones they already know, not even looking my way and no way to mingle with them.   

Really, I'm quite friendly.  I'll talk to anyone in an elevator or in line at a store.  I put on ten free singles parties a few years ago, each attended by over 100 40+ singles who mixed and mingled and laughed and danced and I talked to each and every person who attended, but that hotel has closed that room and the cost of other locations is prohibitive.  I really don't see single men at Trader Joe's or Von's.  I've been redecorating and painting my house, so I've been to the hardware store a dozen times recently, but the men there were with their wives or were contractors with their carts loaded with wood and tools and not remotely looking around.  It was suggested to me to visit an Apple store, which I did and it was full of people, but everyone was completely engrossed in their individual computer. 

Jeez, now I sound like I'm whining, but I seriously think many guys are sitting at home behind their computers, where they can write to as many women each day as they have time.  It's almost like there are too many choices, and it's too easy to carry on conversations online with dozens of women at the same time.  So what's a girl to do?  As much as I'd love to have a great guy in my life for cuddling at home or adventures out in the world, I'm pretty content with my life as it is.  I have some great friends, get to see my grandchildren every week, and like being by myself.  In some eastern philosophies, the mere act of wanting "more" is noted as the cause of unhappiness, so I will choose to enjoy the moment and appreciate what I have right now.  And, as the guy above suggests, if the Universe provides something or someone new, I am open to receive what it is with open arms and heart. 

May 18, 2010

Men, want a woman? Read this.

You don't get it.  We get it.  We know that you're all about sex.  That your drive for sex can be stronger than your drive for food. That you can only do one thing at a time. That you don't understand, "please take out the trash more often," but you do understand, "Please take out the trash on Mondays and Fridays."  We understand you like to belch and fart. We understand you don't hear understand hints.  We understand you aren't mind readers.   We understand you can't use both sides of your brain at once.  We know you love us and don't always know how to show it.  We know you don't care if the house is a mess, as long as your favorite chair is available.  We know you don't care if we cook gourmet meals or what brand of clothes we wear.  We know you just buy more underwear when you run out of clean ones.  We understand that you don't completely ever grow up.  But we love you anyway.

But really, could you just try, just for a few seconds, to understand us?  Why am I not dating, you always ask me?  Because you ask to meet me for coffee and then you don't buy my coffee.  Because you ask me out and your idea of a date is bringing over fast food and watching a video.  Or you don't listen to anything I say all evening, talk about yourself and your ex-wife and your life all night....and then you expect me to have sex with you.  This doesn't work.  For me.  Or for any woman with self-respect.

I did try to meet some guys by posting an online ad, again asking for some info about you, like where you live and what you like to do and what you're looking for and that you are over 50 and nonsmoking and to send a pic.  So who answers this ad?  I get a guy who is 30 who likes "older women."  I get a guy who goes on and on about wanting romance and love and, by the say, is in Africa right now but he'll be home soon and why don't I use his IM to contact him?  And I get a guy who just writes, "What size are your breasts?" 

And then I get the guy who just writes, "do you like boats?"  And I'm in a weird mood, so I write back, "Big boats?  Small boats?  Ocean boats?  Fresh water boats?"  And he writes back, "Lake Havasu."  And I'm figuring that, as much as I really do love boats, this guy isn't for me since he doesn't seem to have much to talk about.  And then another email pops up from him and I open it to read, "Delicious.  I like my women delicious.  I like to eat them all night."  I don't know his name, I don't know where he lives, and I don't know anything about him except he likes boats.  And how did this get from boats to my most private parts?  See why I don't date?!?

And then I read one more email from another guy and I think finally, just maybe, you guys have redeemed yourselves because he writes, "a bit about me:  50yo, 5-10, 165 lbs, in good shape from regular running/yoga/weights, single (divorced).  Ph.D. scientist, quiet, considerate, generally optimistic about life and appreciative of beauty when it can be found.  let me know if you'd like to know more..." And so I do write back, telling him that yes, I'd like to hear more about him and he writes, "I'm looking for a Renaissance woman. Someone who's aware of what's going on in the world and can discuss it over a beer or Malbec. Someone who feels good about herself and radiates casual charm and confidence. Someone that likes to do things like hiking, biking, going to museums and concerts. Someone who can laugh easily and find humor in most situations." So clearly, this guy is sounding better and better and I'm just about to write back and tell him that when another email pops up from him and it says, "Thought I'd give you a peek behind the curtain. Hope it's not too quirky!  I do bathe regularly and like a clean woman as well."  And there, right in front of me on the screen are not one, not two, but THREE pics of him in his complete nakedness, showing all of his assets from each angle, up close and personal!  NOOOOOO!

OK guys, this is the message.  You like, OK you love sex.  You need it.  You might really do it to anything breathing.  You can get turned on by anything, what you see or hear or smell. Or by nothing.  We know that. And, believe it or not, we love sex too.  But we are turned on by YOU, by your personality, by how you treat us, by your character, by how you make us laugh.  We are turned on by when you hold our hand, when you tell us we're beautiful, by how you kiss behind our ears or how you run your fingers on our arms, by when you open the car door for us, by when you listen to us and respond to what we say, by how you remember what we said we liked and get it for us for our birthday. When you bring us flowers or rub our feet or cuddle with us after sex or when there is no sex.  See, we fall for you because of who you are or what you do to make us feel special.  We need to feel close before we feel comfortable and desirous of sex with you. 

So don't send us naked pics. Don't talk about sexual acts until we're having sex.  We're women. It doesn't work that way for us. Get to know us.  Show us who you are as a person.  Make us feel important to you.  Do something every day or every time you see us to let us know you're glad we're in your life.  And then we'll want you.  And you'll be glad you waited.

May 13, 2010

Furry love lives on.

I lost another love this week.  For the past twelve years, that furry little guy was my companion, rarely more than a few feet away.  He was silly and happy and wild and sweet.  And wonderfully nice to my grandchildren, never once nipping or growling at them, always by their side or kissing them or lying across them.  He loved to walk, he loved the cat, he loved food, and he loved me.  Actually, he loved a lot of people and would practically wiggle out of his skin when one of his favorites came to visit.  He would be on your lap just as your butt hit the couch and I believe he thought your reason to visit was to snuggle with him.

He was sick for a while, still cheery and wiggly and happy.  But, at twelve years old and having lost five of his 23 pounds, he was at that point where treatment would be difficult, causing him pain and distress, and I made that impossible choice to end his life before great suffering began. I told him he was a really good dog, that I loved him very much, and that I appreciate how good he was to the children.  And then he was gone and I am left with my memories.  Wonderful memories of sweet, furry Buddy.

May 1, 2010

Painting, cleaning, and a new path.

My Wow group was treated to an evening of fun, food, and nurturing.  My home fills with these women who are very different, yet bond and nurture and bring yummy food to share.  Our speaker was Judi Lirman, a marriage and family counselor, who chose the subject "Transitions and Silver Linings."  Just as every speaker for five years of Wow meetings, Judi picked a topic by herself that spoke to the exact time of my life, just what I am trying to surmount or deal with or learn from.  I'm written about my problems at work, how I'm finally learning to stand up to the alpha males who push old buttons in me, those times from my childhood when I learned to fear my father. I've been thinking about moving on, getting a new job after decades of this one.  All transitions, all unnerving.

Judi talked about how change is always around us, how the world is changing so fast, how the rules changes, and how this can make us feel scared.  She loves quotes and used this one, "Life isn't about waiting for the storm to pass. It's about learning to dance in the rain."  As in consider the challenge of change, not fearfully, but with excitement.   Change hits us, so re-invent and recreate, stretch and learn.  She talked about how we were raised with such TV shows as Leave it to Beaver, where the parents were perfect, the house was never a mess, all problems were easily solved in thirty minutes, and we learned that life was that simple.  Then we were faced with wars and recessions and divorces and the reality of facing the big world on our own and we found that the script we had believed was unrealistic. Women in the 50s and 60s found their voices, realized that the lives of their mothers were not what they wanted, and launched themselves in the unknown, a world of their own creation, one never before seen.  We learned that transitions, happy or not, can be stressful, that the end of a relationship or the lack of success in implementing a goal can be the end of a dream.

Judi said that there are three stages to a transition, the end, the middle, and the beginning, in that order.  Something ends, pushing us in the middle stage where we feel neutral, floating, like treading water, unproductive, scared, empty, excited, like we've lost our bearings.   The scariness is that we no longer know who we are, being uprooted and seeking a new beginning, which leads to new beginnings, new perspectives, a new sense of priorities, and even a change in values.  She says that, during this stage, we should remember what we have previously accomplished, that we have skill and perseverence and the will to go on, that we have faith in ourselves and the universe that gives us the courage to face the unknown.  She suggests that we rethink and re-evaluate our dreams, ponder what we might be missing in life, allow ourselves to believe we can accomplish new goals, and to be still enough to hear and learn what they might be.  She says to pay attention to what entices or intrigues us, face the new fears we feel when we think about this new path and what could happen to use if we proceed, and realize that change is normal, part of life.  Helpful tools include keeping a journal by writing in a stream of consciousness, jotting down whatever thoughts pop up, exercise and walk as meditation, get enough rest, take baths with candles all around.  In other words, create an environment in which we feel good and are open to hearing the small voice that tells us the truth, suggests a path, leads us ahead. Judi reminds us that it's a process in growth and learning and that we need to celebrate each small accomplishment on the path.  Clearly, Judi is a delight, a spirited and wise woman.  You can reach her at 818-998-3205, and she encourages your calls.

I followed the Wow meeting by taking a week off work, just to rest and renew.  I had been feeling less fearful at work, feeling more strength and power, but I just knew that it was time to take a break, to do something for myself, to take more steps on this path of change.  After hearing Judi, I'm not so sure I'm supposed to take a new job, but rather conquer my fears where I am. Remember I started the process of moving forward by getting my carpets cleaned so this week, seeking to break out of what my daughter calls being "safe" at home, I painted my bedroom purple and taupe.  I removed closet doors, curtains, and blinds and the room feels open and light and soothing. There's still more to do, like buying curtains and window treatments, but my very wise daughter reminded me to take my time, that I didn't need to do the work in a frenzy, that I could do it step by step, and to resist setting a deadline for it to be finished.  Again, change is a process and yes, I am relishing in the work I have accomplished and the feeling I have created in the room.  My thanks to my handyman/contractor Sam, who refused to charge me for doing the heavy lifting - you can reach Sam at 818-992-1884.  He does everything well, was generous with his suggestions about painting, and even called to offer to loan me tools and brushes and dropcloths.  And again thanks to my carpet cleaner, who gladly returned to clean the parts of my bedroom that were under the old bed, changed me 1/2 his minimum fee, and ended up redoing all of the most heavily traveled areas because, "I care about my customers."  You can reach Sylvan and his "Supermachine" at 818-335-2775.

So I've enjoyed my week off work, appreciate the hard work I've accomplished, and relish the changes in my home. Now, I will look forward to whatever changes or challenges come next with a spirit of optimism and cheerful anticipation..  I'll keep you posted.