What the heart wants

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

My Dad cooking in the kitchen of my childhood home.

This afternoon when I woke up from my nap and was snuggling with Angel before finding the strength to get up, I realized exactly what I wanted to make me feel better. I wanted my father to make me my favorite comfort meal of mashed potatoes and chicken and then sit down and talk to me about anything. I miss the sound of his voice and I miss hearing about everything he knew in that amazing mind of his. I wouldn’t care if he talked about wars, trains, planes, or the origins of math, I just wanted his company. Alas, what the heart wants isn’t always possible.

My pup and the kittens have been doing their best to look after me but snuggles and shadowing aren’t the same as making me chicken soup or getting me fresh water. I’ve heard that knowing exactly what you want is the first step toward getting it but that doesn’t work in the case of wanting my father and I know that. I like to imagine that there’s at least one guy out there who would be willing to take care of me like my dad did, but perhaps that’s a fantasy. Maybe what I’m looking for only exists between daddies and daughters and men my age are all like my ex: babies when they’re sick and in need of my TLC but unable/unwilling to take care of me when I feel unwell. Perhaps when a once-beautiful chick with a healthy flush in her cheeks and pep in her spirit turns pale, tired, and slightly whiny, she loses all her appeal. Perhaps the whole idea of being with someone through thick and thin is just a fantasy these days or something that just doesn’t apply to me.

I admit, being sick brings out the “wuss” in me and I long for what I don’t have. Even sick I’m capable of taking care of myself, but it would be nice to have someone to help me when I don’t feel good. To acquire at least some of what I really wanted today, I went out, bought a little rotisserie chicken, then came home, and made Potato Buds like my dad used to do. Well, kind of like my dad used to do. In my semi foggy state I misread the directions and added more milk than I was supposed to, but they turned out edible eventually. I then cut some breast meat and a drumstick from the chicken, spooned some mashed potatoes onto my plate, poured myself a glass of eggnog, and settled in the living room to watch an episode of Star Trek: The Next Generation while I ate.

Like the “superwoman” I am I did all my freelance work today despite feeling tired, sore, and foggy. I won’t be walking Jazzmin daily again until I feel better because my body obviously needs and wants rest. Thankfully, Jazz doesn’t have a great concept of time so as far as she knows it could have been 30 seconds or 30 years since our last walk. We’ll get back out there eventually and I’ll find my stride again, but for now, I’m snuggling with my furbabies on the couch watching The Nine Lives of Christmas on Hallmark Channel. I’ve seen it three times now but it has the cute guy who played Superman in one of the more recent remakes and it’s about how he falls for a chick kind of like me with no life, a cat, and a love for large quantities of ice cream. Even if such things only happen in movies, it’s nice that a hopeless romantic like me still appreciates the notion.

kitten in bed

Angel wasn’t eager to get out bed today.

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You Can Call Me Al

I listen to Pandora and lately it’s been adding new songs into my mix that aren’t new to me at all. Songs from my younger years like “You Can Call Me Al” by Paul Simon. Even though I’ve heard the song countless times, somehow hearing it now fills me with renewed happiness and fond memories. I remember watching the video for the song and loving how Chevy Chase lip-synced the words while Paul Simon went along with it. That song is just one of many that make me want to dance and I’ve been doing a lot of spontaneous dancing today because I’m HAPPY! 

I have numerous things to be happy about every single day such as my beautiful daughters, my good health, my adorable pup, my career as a freelance writer, the fact that I own a house solo, and so much more! Today I’m especially happy because last night I was finally able to turn off all the “noise” clogging up my energy and listen to what my heart and spirit were telling me. I had one of those amazing moments yesterday evening where something inside me just “shifted” and suddenly I knew exactly what I had to do regarding a certain situation. Once I did what felt right, everything fell back into place and the shadows on my future path cleared revealing a totally new direction.

I know how easy it is to succumb to shadows and fall into negative thinking, especially because losing my father dropped me down into a deeper ravine than I knew existed. Dwelling in those “safe” shadows would have taken absolutely no effort, but fighting my way out of them took every ounce of strength within me. Once I found the light again, I never wanted to lose it!

I’ve always tried to be a very positive person but the death of my father really put that positivity to the test. As much as being without my father hurts my heart, I know that he wants me to continue on my positive journey and to shine my light to benefit the world around me. My father always greeted me with “Hey, beautiful!” and he saw the beauty inside me that no other man I’ve loved has bothered to discover or appreciate yet. My dad has the right one lined up for me I know he does, but the right one hasn’t found me yet.

As the years since my father’s death and my divorce have passed, I’ve realized that everything happens for a reason. I never expected to be still single three years after my divorce, but I am and I’m okay with that. Being single this long has allowed me to discover who I truly am without a man by my side. I know that if I’d gone into another relationship right after being divorced, it would have turned out just as poorly as all my previous relationships. I can’t define who I am by whom I’m with and I don’t think anyone should. 

So today my spirit felt lighter than it has for a while and I wondered why I ever allowed the shadows back in. Somehow, I’d forgotten how much fun it was to dance around in my kitchen, in my chair, and with the dog in the middle of the living room. Yes, Jazzmin thinks I’m nuts when I’m dancing, but she senses my happy energy and wants to join in somehow. Dancing might not be her idea of fun, but she loves her mama and goes along for the ride. I know she won’t mind if I call her Betty and I’m just fine with her calling me Al. 😉

Romance in raspberries

Lovely sweet berries buried in the prickers.

Lovely sweet berries buried in the prickers.

Almost every evening for the past several weeks I go out and pick black raspberries from my hedgerow. It’s the best black raspberry crop I’ve ever seen as the mix of rainy monsoon and hot, humid weather agrees with the delectable little fruit. I have a gallon size freezer bag almost full with berries now and I add at least a half quart every time I go picking.

As I pick the berries, my mind wanders and I think about how picking berries resembles navigating the unpredictable path of romance. There are raspberries at the very edge of the hedgerow that are easy to pick and involve no danger of being scratched. But some of the best raspberries are hidden beneath leaves or buried back among the prickers. Someone who doesn’t want to make the effort will leave the best berries among the prickers, not wanting to risk getting hurt or tangled up in the stems. But someone who sees the potential of those sweet berries will brave anything to get them whether it be prickers, mosquitoes, deer flies, unseen holes in the ground, spiders, beetles or bees. When they’re really lucky and persistent, they even find rare berries of a different color.

Finding golden raspberries is a nice treasure.

Finding golden raspberries is a nice treasure.

I pick all the viable berries I see. I end up scratched, bitten and usually sweaty. I’ve even been rained on a few times. I’m not afraid of making the extra effort and I’m a smidge stubborn and quite tenacious. Not everyone is like me though. It seems nowadays more people are willing to settle for the easy to reach berries, the “he/she isn’t really what I want but they’re there and they like me so they’ll do.” It seems difficult to find the ones that are willing to see past all the overgrown bushes and brave the prickers for the better berries, the “he/she has a tough exterior, has been through some rough stuff and is going to take some effort but to me they’re worth it!”

I know it’s a bit peculiar that I think of all this while I’m picking black raspberries but I do and I imagine that other writers understand. Writers and those with the creativity bug see the world differently than others. We see beyond what’s in front of our eyes, we see inside it, we explore its potential in unique ways and we seek to reveal new dimensions of imagination to the world. I see my wild, daydreaming, hopelessly optimistic and endlessly romantic mind as a great blessing and I’ll never stop expanding upon its abilities.

Romance Has Many Definitions (repost)

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Yes, I’m resorting to a re-post from Corbin Creations again already. Today has been a crazy day and I don’t have quite the right words now to express how I feel. Luckily, I had the words in an older blog post and they’re actually advice and inspiration that I needed to hear right now! I’m brilliantly psychic! Go Julie from the past!

Romance Has Many Definitions (5/26/2012)

On the weekends when I have my daughters, my cell phone alarm wakes me up playing the song “Telling the World” by Taio Cruz. It is truly inspiring to wake up to the words “Every part of my heart I’m giving out, every song on my lips I’m singing out…”  I open my eyes and greet the day and my heart and spirit beat in the optimistic hope that someday, the man I chose to share my heart with will wake up knowing how lucky he is to have me as his girl. Perhaps that sounds a little conceited, but to me it really isn’t that much to ask.

Ask women what they think romance is and I guarantee you’ll get a variety of different answers. Sure there are the usual flowers, jewelry, candy, remembering important dates, etc. that pop into mind first, but romance is so much more than that! Romance shouldn’t be about materialistic “things” and flowers that wilt, it should be about something deeper and more enduring. To me the smallest gestures touch me where it counts. Opening a car or entrance door for me, pulling out my chair at the table, holding my hand, moving my hair off my shoulders, touching my face, meeting my gaze when I speak, kissing me, wanting to be close to me no matter where we are, missing me when we’re apart…and so much more.

I love affection, I love feeling coveted, I love knowing that the person I’m with truly appreciates all that makes me who I am and will never hold it against me when I stumble along the complicated path of life. I know I love all those things even though I have never actually experienced all of them. I suppose that’s what makes me such a prolific romance writer; that eternal hope and desire for something I’m not entirely sure exists…

Stories that come at just the right time…

The book that made Gina Ardito my new favorite author!

The book that made Gina Ardito my new favorite author!

Everyone has their own favorite author or authors and growing up mine were Piers Anthony and Anne McCaffrey. I still love those authors and have introduced my oldest daughter to Piers Anthony’s Xanth series, which she now loves too. For most of my life, I avoided reading romance-style fiction based in reality because the whole reason I read is to escape anything that reminds me even remotely of my daily life. This past spring, something inside me finally snapped, clicked, realigned or whatever and I discovered my new favorite author.

It started when I saw the cover of a book that made me hungry for pizza. It was by one of the authors I connected with via social media. The author’s name was Gina Ardito and the book was A Little Slice of Heaven. Once I started reading that book, I couldn’t put my Kindle down! I wrote a review about it on Amazon and expressed how it restored my faith in romance because it did just that! That really is saying a lot for a woman like me who’s a divorce single mother in her 30’s struggling in the world of modern  “dating” and fishing through disingenuous men. I do still believe that there are good men out there, men like my father who know how to treat a woman right and who are true gentlemen.

Until I find such a man, whom I love and who loves me back though I will continue to bolster my faith by reading Gina Ardito’s books. I’ve now read Charming for Mother’s Day, Duet in September and Duping Cupid. Last week I started reading Eternally Yours and I’m thoroughly enjoying it! Are all the men in her books true princes who ooze kindness, charm and sincerity? Of course not! Who would believe that??

I will write reviews on all the books I’ve read but for now, I hope this helps spread the word about them. What I love about Gina Ardito’s books is that all of her characters are easy to identify with. They could truly exist in the real world and their struggles are relatable and human. In the end, the characters in her books snap into shape, wise up, reveal their true hearts and become the heroes that all men and women should be. It isn’t always the man saving the woman, quite often it’s the woman saving the man or the characters saving each other. There is a yin to the yang, a balance to the relationship and the understanding that everyone should stand on equal footing.

Whenever I read Gina Ardito’s stories, they come at just the right time. When I am floundering with my belief in love, when my personal relationships are struggling and when I have trouble seeing the light among the shadows. All I have to do is fire up my Kindle and start reading her written words across its bright surface in my dark room and my hope is restored. Now that is the type of writer I strive to be someday!

Redefining the Single Woman

As someone familiar with online dating sites, I’ve gotten the impression that there are certain assumptions about single women, especially those on online dating sites. There seems to be the assumption that they must be desperate, picky, looking for sex, only attractive in still photos…or all of the above.

I have been rather surprised to discover that single men my age want a woman my age (though usually younger) who doesn’t have kids. I don’t really know how many women my age don’t have children. I only know my circumstances. I get that a lot of men aren’t into the idea of “the whole package” that already includes kids. Their profile says they “want kids someday” but apparently, those kids have to be genetically there’s in order to fit the bill. They’re entitled to their preferences just as I’m entitled to mine.

I do wonder though, does anyone really understand how many dimensions there are to today’s “single woman”? There are so many reasons why a woman is still single and I assure you, there’s nothing wrong or broken about being a single woman. A woman might be single because:

She’s so busy with her career she knows it would be unfair to attempt any sort of romantic relationship.

She suffers from unrequited love and chooses being alone over trying to find someone else she knows she’ll never love.

She endured an unhappy marriage and has no desire to venture down that road again.

She prefers the company of her pets because they don’t mind that she hangs out in yoga pants even when not doing yoga.

She loves the feel of having a bed all to herself.

She doesn’t want to have to answer to anyone else for why she does what she does.

The idea of being ignored on “game day” really doesn’t appeal.

She has children and she doesn’t want to introduce them to men who won’t stick around.

She’s never actually tried “the bar scene” and has absolutely no desire to.

She’s waiting for the tragic…er romantic comedy that is her life to have its happy ending.

She figures if playing “hard to get” is the way to win a guy then playing “impossible to get” should lure the entire male population.

She likes never worrying that she’ll fall into the toilet in the middle of the night because the seat is up.

Men are too blind to see what an amazing creature she is and how deserving she is of love.

There was no real rhyme or reason to any of that. Just the musings of a single woman with a talent for observing the world around her. Agree or disagree, call the reasons bitter, cliché, stereotypical or outright ridiculous but I bet they ring true for some other single gals out there. I will tell you this though; today’s single chick is one tough cookie that comes from her own unique and beautiful recipe.

Sharing the Sky

When I looked out my front door this morning the Harvest Moon was still visible in the sky. The sun hadn’t risen over the hills yet but the sky was getting brighter. There wasn’t a cloud to be seen and all the stars were hidden in the growing daylight. Those are usually the quietest moments of the morning and I enjoy them while they last.

As I waited for the bus with Jordan shortly before 7 a.m., the moon was still visible. It was lower than earlier and I knew it would be out of sight within a half hour. I took several pictures of it as I stood in the middle of the road. It was a beautiful warm morning, perhaps the last of its kind for a while. Jordan got on the bus to middle school and I went back inside the house to be with Jaycie until her bus came.

By the time Jaycie’s bus arrived the sun had risen over the hills and the moon was no longer visible. I think the sun and moon shared the sky briefly this morning and I wondered if they engaged in conversation or exchanged longing looks. The entire day was amazingly beautiful and picturesque and I bet the sun wished the moon was there to share it with her.

Sharing the sky with the sun today and keeping her company were a variety of lovely creatures. I saw several small butterflies, a couple of monarchs, my resident hummingbird, a handful of dragonflies and of course the usual gatherings of songbirds. I’m sure the sun knows how lucky she is to be able to see all the creatures of the world as it turns. Yet I wonder if she is always trying to look a bit further, up a bit higher, around that curve…in search of the moon.