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Gratitude With Diane Lane on Valentine’s Day

15 Feb

You know, I was never one for elaborate celebrations or grand gestures of love on Valentine’s Day. Don’t get me wrong, I still liked being the highlight of someone’s thoughts and getting some chocolate, or a nice card with hearts on it. I still liked knowing that I was on someone’s mind.

And I never made a huge deal of it so as not to put added pressure on whoever I was with at the time. But a card, a nice meal, some chocolate, some laughs, and a genuine hug that expressed heartfelt connection and intimacy was all I needed.

I look back now and remember times when I was younger and felt lonely, when grandiose productions of others professing their love made the loneliness bigger. I remember the Aquatnet days wanting that candy gram and plastic flower to be presented in class, you know, from that special someone. Now they have it on Facebook or Instagram for the whole world to witness this romanticism. Some people share just to be genuine and open up their book of life, letting us read a small page of it, others do it for showboating-look-at-me reasons, cheapening the heart and romance.

When you’re younger these things seem important.

But I realized how gratitude on Valentine’s Day is just as important as love.

I may not have gotten the red-carpet treatment, but I was able to share moments of life with people I loved. Babysitting for a friend over the weekend so that they could have some kid-less alone time and feel like normal people again made me smile. Getting a card with the best kindergarten spelling and Crayola Crayons masterpiece from my daughter filled my heart. Playing Valentine’s Bingo, cupid’s arrow, making kids at school smile and being helpful in my kids’ classroom hit the spot. Eating a steak dinner, I didn’t have to cook for myself brought a smile to my face. Finishing the night with a small band, playing some good tunes, while sipping a margarita felt nice. Ending the night with Haagen-Daasz chocolate ice cream and watching Netflix a definite plus.

A day and night filled with non-Facebook worthy moments, but special nevertheless.

During all this, I was reminded of Diane Lane in that movie Under The Tuscan Sun. I love Diane Lane. In the movie she talks about how she wanted a house, a home, dinner parties with family, being with people she loved, kids running around, laughter … that would have made her happy. Fast forward to the end of the movie when someone asks her if she remembered what she wanted when she first moved to Italy. Does she remember? She smiles as it hits her. She had a house, a home, dinner parties with people who had become her family, people she loved and that loved her, kids running around, not her kids but kids that brought her joy anyway, and laughter. She realized she had it. Happiness. They both smiled.

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🙂

Valentine’s became a day of gratitude, grateful for all the small acts of kindness and love that gave the sun more shine. It could have been a regular Tuesday for anybody, but it was my Valentine’s Day adventure, and I felt love from those that mattered most.

 

 

You Still Make The Cake …

30 Jan

I woke up knowing he’d be the first thing on my mind.

Brown eyes, black and silver wavy hair, usually covered by a hat. The very same blue Dodgers hat I wore all day today. Go Blue.

Tired and exhausted from the night before, the night of thinking of tomorrows and tomorrow already here, as evidenced by the sun peeking through the blinds. Staring at the ceiling, knowing that the closest I’d ever get to him today was just a memory or two. Pictures, left over voicemails, hats hanging on hooks, shirts folded in the closet, and half a bottle of Jovan Musk  in the cabinet. They were all waiting for me this morning, like every morning.

But today was different.

Today was his 69th birthday and the cologne smelled a little different. I think it was losing its strength, but I could still smell that aftershave scent. It still lingers in the air, reminding me of how I wished I had more memories.

It’s always a tough day, knowing someone isn’t going to blow out the candles anymore. But you still make the cake, you make it anyway. Today I made it with my daughter, who’s named after him. Listening to jazz as we measured and stirred the flour and sugar, dancing to his favorite tunes in our aprons as the smell of chocolate filled our small kitchen, I smiled. I thought he’d be watching and smiling as we twirled around to his favorite trumpet and piano tunes.

Jazz was on all day today. Running through the park this morning. At the stoplight. In the kitchen. And as I write this piece. His calming happy music surrounded me as I remembered him driving his silver Toyota Tacoma, with the station tuned into KJAZZ and him strumming his fingers on the steering wheel.

Yup. It was on all day. Reminding me, giving  this purpose, making the baking experience a little better.

And for some reason, during the taste-testing process perhaps, we didn’t have enough frosting to cover the entire cake this year, and that was O.K. It wasn’t a disaster. We made a head pastry chef decision and thought layers upon layers of frosting would be just fine. Like a chic bakery.

He’d probably get a kick out of it, and we’d make our own story about it. In fact we probably already did. I’ll probably think back , when all my hair has that silvery fox color, and remember how we baked the chocolaty chocolate cake with vanilla buttercream frosting and chopped almonds, how we danced in the kitchen thinking about my Dad turning 69 and how he’d enjoy a piece of cake, or two, along with a cup of coffee.

We took our picnic and visited him. I told stories as my daughter had one piece and my son two. Large cups of milk, and one cup of coffee for pops. Sitting there talking about life and wishing he was there to blow out the candles and make one more wish.

My Dad … the Dreamer, the Adventure Seeker, my HBO-Watching-Buddy, the Owner of Over 70 Baseball Caps, the Jazz-Listening-Beep-Bopper, Pay-It-Forward-Patron, Awesome-Date-to-Opening-Plays at the local theater, Spirit of My Spirit, Heart of my Heart, Laugher of My Jokes, and friend … turned 69 today. I wish him well, send him light, love, and laughter.

And I miss him.

 

Dad

My Dad … talking about dreams … me trying to listen.

 

 

 

Better Late Than Never … Ummmm No.

11 Jan

When I saw this … it all made sense.

sweater

🙂

It really did. It hit me, like that a-ha! moment I had when I saw the He’s Just Not That Into You movie and all the stars aligned and I was like yeah. Totally get it now.

But then I started thinking of exigent circumstances. I mean when could you really let it go … that your friend showed up 87 minutes late to a girls night out and you only had two hours because your babysitter holds the key to your life and that’s all you could get.

If you have kids … I get it. Babysitter is late. There’s vomit. There’s not enough Goldfish Crackers to go around. You ran out of wipes. The DVR didn’t record the latest Peppa Pig and you needed to know what happened. I get it. Meltdowns happen and you’re gonna be late. Most parents give themselves a buffer zone because they know this might happen. They just know and there’s a forgiveness clause on that. They’re just happy that they made it out in one piece.

But if that’s not your case, then what the hell is going on?

Just be honest and be like … nah … I kind of don’t want to go. I mean it’ll be a bummer but it’s better than waiting there at the Regal Beagle without Jack or Janet.

But then I thought of intentions. I mean when the idea was brought up to you a couple of days ago you totally wanted to go. You checked your iPhone calendar and knew it was clear and you even did a silent cheer in your head. You were the first one on board.

And then the week hit you hard, work was hard, life was hard, and Friday came  … and you thought … I don’t know.

It just crept into your head.

Doubt.

Is it worth it to leave the house? Is it really? I got Netflix. Cable. HBO. A box of wine. Do I really need to leave?

Then the doubt is fueled.

Traffic. There might be traffic. I think there’s an accident. Exhaustion. I feel pretty exhausted right now, the Friday night exhaustion that hits you in your 40s or late 30s that never seemed to appear in your 20s. Then you feel the love of your Old Navy pajamas and they feel so right. And then you think, do I even have gas in the car? Do I have cash in my wallet? I mean if you have to go to the bank, or put gas in the car, forget it. That might just kill the whole outing all together.

There are just too many hurdles and you begin to bargain with yourself about whether you reeeeeeaaaaally need to go. You say you’ll feel better once you get there, you always do, it’s just the “getting there” part that is sucking right now.

Ultimately guilt sets in and you muster up enough Maybelline and Red Bull to get you out of the house. You stroll on in with some excuse about traffic and grab a drink while your buddies are already into the good part of the conversation. They see you stroll in and you think they bought your traffic excuse, but they know … they know … because they were just on the same freeway and they know you have the speed through traffic app on your phone.

So if you don’t want this sweater as your next gift, think long and hard before committing to your next date, outing, hanging out session, or shenanigan. Or maybe you should just say no from the start, and then when Friday comes around, you change your mind if you want. You can totally show up and surprise them because even if you are late, they’ll be glad to see you.

Buen Camino my friends.

 

Looking Out For Beautiful Minds

10 Oct

Before Russell Crowe, we had never talked about it.

Ever.

It was a big part of his past,  and maybe it contributed to his depression. Maybe he felt like we wouldn’t understand, or maybe he did talk to people and they didn’t hear him. Maybe he thought he could do it himself. Maybe he didn’t know how.

But it wasn’t until Russell Crowe that my Dad started talking about how he felt and what he went through as a young father.

Russell Crowe in A Beautiful Mind

A Beautiful Mind

He was glued to the screen, completely engaged in the story and rooting for Nash to come out all right in the end. He bought the book and watched the movie again and again. When it came out on DVD, he bought that too. He wanted to soak up as much information and experiences as he could.

We must have watched it at least fifty times when it aired on HBO. Russell Crowe, let everyone in on the struggle and we became aware of how difficult this could be on anyone and their family.

My Dad found pieces of himself in Russell Crowe that day and was brave enough to share, and granted their stories were different, and their journeys were different, but for the first time in a long time, he saw something out there dealing with mental health, dealing with the realness of it. Consequences and successes.

I rediscovered of bits and pieces of my childhood and moments of my dad’s journey through adulthood and parenthood. I understood why there were times my dad had been so afraid, why he might have drank, and perhaps why he had been dealing with depression for a large part of his life. We didn’t get all our answers that day, but what we were able to do was talk … talk about how he felt, he realized he wasn’t the only one, and that gave him the confidence to speak up. He wasn’t alone in this. Here’s this guy …this genius mathematician that’s living through mental health issues as well.

It wasn’t the same, but at least Russell Crowe gave him an opening and mental health became something he could talk about freely.

And I was grateful for that, because he did get help, and that seemed to help with the depression, for a while.

So seeing how someone informed me that it was World Mental Health Day, I thought I’d spread awareness the only way I knew how … through story.

Spread the word … Mental Health Matters. Talk about it.

 

 

He Knew The LOOOOOVE That I Loved

29 Aug

I know you’ve been in love, the gut wrenching, aching in your bones, 80’s Movie kind of love that blinds you into taking a leap of faith — a plunge — because when you’re young you believe in the power of teenage, college, or in-your-20’s love.

It’s unbreakable.

So when the break-up happened, by your locker, after school, or on the phone with the 50-foot curly extension chord you used to pull all the way from the avocado-green wall phone in the kitchen and into the closet for “privacy,” it blindsided you.

There you were laid out on the floor, in agony, crying the slow cry, the I-can’t-breathe-right-now cry, the ugly cry, the hyperventilating cry, the silent cry. You suffered through in an epic way. And you’re there, alone. You know “others” who had broken up, but did they really understand?

No. No they didn’t.

Phil Collins got the picture. For sure.

But, there was one guy that really understood. He was feeeeeeeeling me. He got me. This dude … Man he kneewwwwwww what I was feeling. He knew the kind of love that I loved. He knew my heartache and when I listened I was like … Yeah … He knows exactly! He knows exactly what I’m going through and it was like I was having a conversation with him.

Juan Gabriel.

 

 

Legend.

Icon.

Now if you are one of my peoples there is no need for introductions. Juanga was the man. So when he passed away on Sunday morning, I felt it. Huge loss to me and my community. I never met him, but sure felt like he knew me deeply, personally with the songs he wrote about my love life, or the songs I wanted someone to invent because of me.

However I was lucky enough to have gone to some of his concerts throughout the years, stand up in the aisle dance, clap and sing, even luckier that I went to one just a couple of months ago. Amazing.

But for those of you not familiar with him, he was the Elvis Presley, Prince, and Michael Jackson of Mexico. Sold over 100 million… Yeah million albums and wrote close to 2000 songs.

He was The Man, and he passed away unexpectedly at the age off 66 from a heart attack.

And so I’m sad about that, about losing someone so talented with such heartfelt emotion, truth, and humility. I didn’t even know him, but it hits me because I connected with him through music. Someone who understood my heartbreak, he knew, he sang about it. He testified really. He knew the loooooooooove that I loved and so it was sad to say goodbye.

So in his honor, it was a Juan Gabriel mixed tape marathon on Sunday, with multiple text message exchanges between girlfriends who were just as shocked and broken up about his death. In our disbelief we tried to comfort each other and talk through our sadness. As I listened to my favorites I thought I’d try to narrow it down to The Top Ten … I know, almost 2,000 songs. He really needs a top 100. But I tried.

So I encourage you … If you’ve ever been in looooooooooove love, click and take listen. He’s got my stories in there, probably yours too.

Rest In Peace Juanga.

 

Hasta Que Te Conoci (Until I Met You…)

 

 

Quien Como Tu (Someone Like You) Written by Juan Gabriel sung by Ana Gabriel

 

 

Siempre En Mi Mente (Always On My Mind)

 

 

No Tengo Dinero (I Got No Money)

 

El Noa, Noa

 

Inocente Pobre Amigo (My Poor Innocent Friend)

 

Asi Fue (That’s How It Goes)

 

Porque Me Haces Llorar (Why Do You Make Me Cry)

 

Se Me Olvido Otra Vez ( I Forgot Again)

 

Querida (Dear) … This one gets me every time …

 

Bonus Tracks … of course. Always need a bonus track…

He Venido a Pedirte Perdon (I Came to Ask For Your Forgiveness)

 

Buenos Dias Senor Sol (Good Morning Mr. Sun)

 

Pero Que Necesidad

 

Buen Camino my friends.

Facebook … And Why I Totally Hated It Today

13 Jun

I’m not a big fan but they seem to love it. They can’t get enough of it.

They … the masses. They post all kinds of stuff. What they eat and where they’ve been

And for the most part I’m pretty indifferent … that was until today …

Today I hated it.

There he was in portrait-style picture trying to look like a Gap commercial with his new family. Wife. Pregnant wife. And a daughter.

I couldn’t believe it..

The Facebook had made a suggestion … you know … a you might know this person type of deal and I couldn’t believe it.

I mean I wasn’t even the one who married him, but I was still so upset by it. You see one of my friends had recently split up with this dude, about four or five years ago. They had no kids and  just split up their assets and even though it wasn’t a shouting-match-I-hate-you-forever kind of divorce, it was still a divorce. One that left her feeling horrible and sad and I was sad for my friend. I saw her go through such a hard time and I’m sure I didn’t see everything, but what I saw was pretty rough.

She has someone in her life now and I imagine that because of that her ex is in her past, a past that she’s forgotten and doesn’t like to rehash. She’s in a good place, she seems happy. So I didn’t tell her about this virtual encounter. I didn’t tell her that he remarried, or that he started a family.

I didn’t know if it was going to bother her, I mean it bothered me and I wasn’t even married to the dude. I was so burned out by it.I couldn’t believe why I was so upset and angry. I guess in part it was because I knew my friend, I knew how much she loved him and wanted the marriage to work. I knew the heartache, and I guess I was so upset because he seemed to replace her so easily. Married with one kid and another on the way in four years?

Dude.

I debated on telling her this recent Facebook discovery and why I hated Facebook so much, but I thought better of it. I thought it was best to leave her past in the past. I didn’t want angry, sad, or weird feelings clouding her current state. I don’t know, maybe she already knew. Maybe she had run into them and kept it to herself because the blow was pretty big. Or maybe she didn’t even care, because she’s moved on too.

I don’t know why the death of love and the beginning of his beginning bothered me so much. I guess it was because I knew about her dream, I was aware of the future she wanted. I guess I learned that loyalty is a big thing with me. I was loyal to my friend, why couldn’t he be?

I guess I just wanted my friend to have that love without having to have gone through such a painful time. To me it was just hard to believe how quickly he had replaced her, how he seemed so happy in that happily-ever-after photo he had posted on his Facebook profile.

But then again not everything on Facebook is as it seems.

 

Discover Challenge: Apology

23 May

Two words.

That’s all it takes.

Some people are not strong enough, big enough, human enough to say it. They don’t know the power behind it, don’t know why.

It helps glue the pieces back together. It works like a Band-Aid. It doesn’t necessarily stop the hurt, but it stops the bleeding.

It’s not that hard. It really shouldn’t be, because it’s a part of love. When you break someone’s heart, when you fail to be there, when cross the line, when you let someone down, when you make them ache, when you make them cry, when you make them feel less, when you’re unkind, when you make a mistake, when you forget, when they look for a friend and you’re no where to be found.

They restore.

It’s a step closer to forgiveness, but it makes it harder to forgive when the words are not there or when they’re empty. Sometimes they never will be there. It happens to a lot of people. They’re left there waiting for it. They deserve to hear it, but sometimes it never comes and what’s left is a hole that keeps getting bigger, and a struggle to keep going and push through.

But eventually, you come out the other side even if you didn’t hear it. You pushed through with the hole in your heart and know you were worthy of those words. You were worthy of them, and you move on.

You let go.

But it would have been so much easier had they said those words …

I’m sorry.

Yup, like a Band-Aid.

I’m sorry, works better than chocolate and wine.

 

Discover Challenge courtesy of The Daily Post.

 

They’re An XBOX And You’re More Of An Atari

12 Feb

Sometimes no matter what you do … things are just not enough.

You’re a decent person.

Not enough.

You try your best, work hard, and you have a good heart, a good one.

Not enough.

You’re the John Cusack of this movie.

Still not enough.

It breaks my heart when good people who deserve good things end up with the shaft. I tried to be supportive with my friend’s situation, put a neon light at the end of the tunnel, but that tunnel is pretty damn long right about now.

I heard Cee Lo Green’s song … and thought of my friend.

 

Atari rocks. It’s a badass original.

It had Pac-Man, Donkey Kong, Centipede, and Frogger.

C’mon, now.

I’d see my buddies in the neighborhood who had the game, and they loved it. They’d get lost in the challenge and in the fun.

XBox, I imagine, is the newer shinier version of it. The one with graphics and 3D stuff with guns blazing and blasters everywhere. All these Internet age kids enjoy it, it’s the glitz and glam of their generation.

But here’s the thing Atari is still cool. It was one of a kind. Groundbreaking, back in my day.

And just because something appears shinier and sparkly doesn’t necessarily mean it’s better. It’s just newer. It’s not 2.0. because it looks good on the outside, it’s what inside that matters. And sometimes newer ends up being better it does, but when we’re talking about things that mean something, shinier is not always better.

Substance matters. It’s always better than fluff. It’s too bad people forget that and good hearts everywhere end up broken and beat up, thinking they did something wrong or were unworthy.

They didn’t and they are …

So if some jackass thinks you’re not an XBox and that you’re more of an Atari, keep your head up. They don’t see your value. Atari’s are still cool, one-of-a-kind originals worth something.

They just can’t see it.

 

Crisis of Imagination

25 Sep

I need imagination because I can’t see it right now …

Holy crap. That was it.

I had never heard it put that way, but that was it. I had found the right words to try to help my friend understand what was happening. They weren’t mine, but I heard them and I knew why they had come my way. My buddy was stuck in a moment and couldn’t get out of it. Stuck in the hurt. Stuck in the disbelief. Stuck in the ache of their heart. Stuck in the “it is what it is,” situation they thought they’d never find themselves in.

That’s where they were currently residing.

And when I heard these words I knew I had to pass them along. I thought maybe it would bring a sense of comfort, knowing that once they broke through the mind block, they might be able to feel less hurt, and more hope.

You can’t imagine your life like this … You can’t imagine how you’re going to get through it … You can’t imagine life differently. And that’s the point … because you were never supposed to, your future wasn’t supposed to look this way. But now there’s no choice. It’s happening.

Most people go through something like this in their life, whether it’s the loss of a relationship, a dream, or a job. We’re hurting because we’re in the midst a life crisis, suffering a “crisis of imagination.”

We can’t see outside the box and that’s why the hurt lasts so long. That’s why we feel stuck, because we still can’t believe it.

I’m hoping I can help my buddy find some creativity in the unknown future. Help imagination find its way to their doorstep, so they can exhale and begin to heal, begin to realize that they can do it. It’s going to be hard, extremely hard to change their vision, but it’s possible. I’m hoping I can help them out. I’m hoping I can help them imagine that tomorrow’s tomorrow will help them find happiness in the present moment. I’m hoping I can help my friend find the imagination that their not seeing.

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:)

🙂

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Friday Five … Plus One …

21 Aug

Normally I use humor to help myself and others get through the rough spots. But before that can usually happen perspective has to surface. Sometimes that doesn’t happen right away, the lows hit you in the pit of your stomach and you find yourself on bended knee having a moment of heartbreak.

And sometimes you’ve just got to feel it before you can stand up again.

So I send this love out to my buddy who’s going through a rough patch.

Sometimes music helps to let you know that someone else has been where you’re at, and has felt what you feel. But you’ll stand up again, maybe just not now. But you will, and I’ll be there to hug you when that happens.

She’s Gone Hall & Oates

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Wasted Love — Matt McAndrew

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Not Gon’ Cry — Mary J Blige

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A Little Bit Stronger — Sara Evans

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Love Don’t Live Here No More — Lady Antebellum

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Ooh Child Things Are Gonna Get Easier — The Five Stairsteps

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