Thursday, October 28, 2010

"I Now Pronounce You Man And... What Is That Smell?"

I think all of us have probably met a female in our life at one time or another that has had a childhood dream of getting married. You know the one I'm talking about… I think many girls have pictured what their wedding might look like. Me, for example… when I was little and still nuts about horses, I envisioned an outdoor wedding in a beautiful field of wheat. I would be sitting sidesaddle on top of a gorgeous white mare with my bridesmaids atop majestic palominos. My flower girl would be on a white shetland pony, of course… my handsome groom would be stoically seated on a fierce looking black stallion with his groomsmen on top of a collection of bays next to him and the ringbearer on his own black pony. Even the minister would be on horseback - a huge, mellow gray Shire. 

I was really little. 

I laugh when I think of how ridiculous that wedding would be. Could you imagine eight or ten horses all lined up, behaving themselves and NOT pooping everywhere? Yeah… me neither. The guests would have to hold fans and air fresheners in order to make it through the wedding vows. 

In general, I haven't put a lot of thought into my wedding anymore. For years and years, I decided that marriage wasn't for me and therefore, any ideas of an actual wedding never really replaced the horseback fiasco. 

But you know who I'm talking about. That girl who has wanted to get married as long as she can remember? The one that has her wedding colors picked out way before her prom dress has been selected. She has her entire invitation list prepared by the end of her first date. When she does finally get engaged, the idea of marrying the man she is in love with is the LAST thing on her mind as she crazily goes from one vendor to another, choosing a wedding cake, flowers, dresses, locations, hires a wedding planner, fires a wedding planner, etc. You get the point. 

I used to work in the Catering Department at the Four Seasons Hotel in Newport Beach and have had my fair share of "bridezillas". I really thought that they must be crazy to let one day take so much control of their lives. I mean, shouldn't they be looking forward to everything that happens AFTER the wedding? It was strange to me… 

I've had a little too much time by myself, recently, and as a result, my thinking cap has been working up a sweat. Not about marriage… but about the idea of wanting something so bad and for so long that it is easy to get caught up in the idea of how it needs to look. I think I am starting to understand how a "bridezilla" came to be. 

One of my least favorite questions in the world is "What do you want?" This is something that I've never really been able to answer completely. And because what I want is constantly changing, what I have tends to change pretty drastically as well. I often get frustrated with myself that I can't settle on one thing and simply manifest it in my life. It seems so many people - women in particular - have such a clear idea of what they want their life to look like and find this question fairly easy to answer. I was pondering the other day about weddings and such (clearly a reaction from spending too much time watching "Say Yes To The Dress") and tried to come up with one thing that has been a solid "want" my entire life. The answer came to me pretty quickly and I knew right away why I find myself to be such a challenging partner when it comes to relationships. 

My whole life, the one thing I have wanted beyond anything else is a partner. A true partner. Someone who "has my back" and I have theirs. Being a strong woman, I always pictured being the second half of a Power Couple - not to be confused with Gold Digger. That is, perhaps the Clintons or the Obamas would be better examples than, say, Scarface. I wanted to meet someone and through our mutual love, respect and drive, build something together. Our relationship would be the foundation of an empire, of sorts. Our equal contributions would define our success. The idea of doing this on my own has never appealed to me. At the end of my life, when my beautiful home, full garage and packed calendar mean nothing, I want to reach across and grab my partner's hand as we rock slowly back and forth on our porch swing, looking across the ocean and knowing that our materialistic items mean nothing compared to the love and support that has truly brought us happiness. 

I am addicted to this vision. 

I don't envy the man who tries to be with me. This picture in my head comes up every time I have an argument with a lover or he does something that annoys me. It comes up when he pulls up in a car I don't like or has a laugh that makes dogs howl. Forget the fact that he loves me and is willing to do whatever it takes to make me happy. I am constantly wondering whether or not I can see myself with this person 30, 40, 50 years from now, on that porch. I wonder if they have the strength to make their own visions into realities and support me while I flail around, trying to find what makes me happy as a career. Yes, I have a perfection complex - as I have mentioned in a previous blog. However, it's not that I need someone to be perfect in the world's eyes - I just need them to be perfect for me. Just like a bride pictures her wedding day to go exactly as she has wanted it to since she was a little girl, I am very attached to what I think the perfect man for me looks like. 

Probably a no-brainer as to why I've been involved with well over 40 men in my life. 

Yes, this is when everyone can start feeling a little bad for Jeremy. 

Jeremy is no idiot. I think he knew what he was getting into well before I spelled it out for him. He had read many of my blogs before meeting me, after all. It's strange having someone who acknowledges where you both fall short and yet doesn't let that bother him at all, claiming that the wonderful and beautiful parts of our relationship enormously outweigh any little annoyances. I, on the other hand, am frustrated that the relationship takes work only a few months into it. I mean, if it's the "perfect" relationship for me, shouldn't I have a honeymoon period that lasts at least a little longer than two or three dates? The closest I have ever come to realizing my vision was with Eric and we didn't have any problems to deal with until our fourth year of being together. Did Jeremy and I miss that stage where we were all over each other everywhere we went? Disgusting our friends with our cute, cuddly moments and excusing ourselves to rush home in response to our physical desires? Did I blink? 

There's the idea, also, that I have put too much stock into this honeymoon period and that the reason the real work has started so soon is because we are already both committed to making this the relationship we have always wanted. Should it take work at this point? I guess that depends on what one considers "work". Jeremy and I both have different ideas on this. 

This blog cannot be wrapped up with a bow as this topic is no gift. While I am not feeling the urge to "bail" as I have so many times before when feelings of insecurity and doubt arise, I also don't want to withhold anything from anybody. Most importantly, myself. 

And since you, reader, have chosen to take this journey with me, it is you that I am accountable to as well. 

I attracted Jeremy into my life at this time for a very specific reason. I like to think it's because I am finally ready to start realizing my vision I've had for so many years. But, like the little girl with the wedding plans, it might be wise to start thinking about an alternative flavor to the cake as the red velvet I wanted for so many years may not agree with my taste buds anymore. 

So, just as I rolled my eyes in the past when observing "bridezillas" in action, I must also recognize that my own expectations may be on a pedestal too high for anyone to climb. 

This makes sense… after all, a horse wedding? Seriously?

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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

The Forgetting Is Not Nearly As Important As The Forgiving

Another new school. It was getting a little tiring having to start over all the time. Especially being as shy as she was. And it seemed like the older she got, the harsher the kids were. She didn't really think there was all that much wrong with her, but according to the feedback she got fairly regularly, her "awkward stage" was lasting a little longer than everyone else's. Oh well… her teacher seemed okay. School itself was never really the problem. In fact, the actual schoolwork was the best part of her day. That was something she connected with. Getting good grades was a goal she could get behind so throughout each lesson, she was completely engaged, taking good notes and always making sure her homework was completed. She would do her best not to watch the clock as those two times of day began to loom over her. Recess. 

The first recess was terrifying. It was an entire 30 minutes of trying to be invisible. Sure, she wanted to play four square or tetherball, but she didn't know anyone and wasn't very good at either one. Her lack of confidence and athleticism continued to prevent her from getting involved in any sort of reindeer games that were going on. At the last school she was at, she joined the school choir, which practiced during recess. She couldn't sing very well but at least she always had a place to go. However, there was no choir to escape to now. 

The second recess of the day was only 15 minutes long. It was a lot easier to hide for that 15 minutes. Plus, once it was over, she knew she was safe until the next day. Please, she asked, let this be the last school for a while. It just keeps getting worse. 

To her pleasure, however, something was different this time around. This time, her big brother, also new to the school of course, took her under his wing. Being a very good athlete and taller than most, he had no trouble at all securing a ball for them so that they could spend half an hour playing wall ball together. She was so relieved! Being invisible was SO much more difficult than actually enjoying herself. In fact, now it seemed recess wasn't long enough! The first week of school was shaping up to look pretty good after all. 

One day, after an exhausting wall ball competition where she, yet again, got "schooled", the bell called out it's shrill cry that it was time for everyone to get back to class. Unlike the beginning of recess, all of the children in the schoolyard took their time putting away their equipment, dragging their feet as they slowly plodded along back towards the main building and the outer portable classrooms. She walked with her head up, next to her big brother, thinking that next time they played, she might actually be able to get a few points up on him. 

With just 20 more feet to go to get back to the classrooms, a few boys behind them began laughing. One shouted out loudly, for all those around to hear, "Oh look! There goes Jonny Verde, playing with his little sister!! How cute!!". She thought it was a stupid comment to make. Who cares? They were new and didn't have any friends yet. It's not like anyone had asked them to play with their group of friends - or asked to join in the wall ball game. She couldn't figure out how such a ridiculous comment could even be considered an insult. She looked over at her brother to see his reaction. He didn't look back at her. He didn't say a word. He just kept walking forward, going into his classroom while she went the few extra feet and went into hers. She knew something wasn't right. 

After that day, they never shared time on a playground ever again. 

When it's necessary for me to get on my soap box and talk about differences in people and why it's so important to connect based on life experiences and not superficial reasons, I often talk about the realization that there are no two people who believe the same exact thing. I always use my brother and I as an example. We were raised in the same house by the same two parents with, essentially, the same rules. However, for those who know us, it is easy to see that we are both completely different people. We have different beliefs, different perspectives and entirely different opinions on a vast majority of subjects. We are proof that while parents most definitely make huge impacts on our belief systems as we grow up, everything we come into contact with as toddlers all the way up to teenagers plays a very important role in shaping who we are. All it takes is a brief moment for something to happen and the younger we are, the more likely we are to know this as our truth. 

For example, my heart broke one day in the grocery store when a little boy was singing loudly next to his mom's shopping cart while waiting in line to be checked out. He was dancing and singing, being that silly four year old that I think we all wish we could be sometimes. I found it adorable. As he busted into his next chorus, his mom - clearly having a rough day - snapped violently at him "Will you shut up! No one wants to listen to you!" I thought I was going to cry right there. Not only because of how bad I felt for the little boy who was enjoying expressing himself, but because he would most likely have a belief now that no one wanted to listen to him. It could take years and years of someone's love and support before he ever thought about getting up in front of a group of people to give a speech or try out as a solo for his church choir. It could prevent him from having open communication with a lover or sticking up for someone getting bullied on the school playground. The problem with words is that even though you can apologize for them, once they leave your mouth, the damage has been done.


 

My brother and I have had our fair share of fights over the years, like I imagine many sets of siblings have. I remember physical fights and getting hurt and hurting him back. But bruises healed and scratches scabbed over. It was the painful words we spit at each other that have driven a wedge between us. At least, for me, that's what it has been. I have always been angry at my brother for saying words to me that cut like an infomercial steak knife, but angrier for those times he chose not to say anything. Like when I was getting teased or when I moved away. I was always so frustrated that he chose those times to keep his mouth shut. 

I'm no saint, either. I always thought that a big brother was supposed to be exactly that - big. And therefore, someone I could look up to for advice or help; someone that I could go to if I needed something; someone that wouldn't tolerate if I was getting teased or attacked. However, that day on the playground, a very clear belief was instilled into my head "My brother doesn't want anything to do with me." Because I believed this so strongly, I began to manifest it in our relationship. I would do everything I could to make him look like the bad kid in my parents' eyes. I would engage in gossip at school that was about him because of my resentment towards him. I started to dislike everything he liked just so we could argue about it. No matter what I was doing, I was trying to prove to myself time and time again that my belief was accurate. 

What a sad relationship to have with your only sibling.

As an adult, I've gotten angry with my parents for allowing this behavior to go on between us. But, then I remember that my dad was the oldest of eleven and acted as more of a father figure to his siblings until he moved away and my mom's family completely abandoned her at a young age. So, my guess is that they weren't really sure what to do with the two of us. I think because my brother and I were so close when we were young, there was faith that we would eventually grow close again. However, with the exception of that brief time after we both took that leadership training course, he and I have never been the kind of close that I see so many other brothers and sisters being. 

Something I have come to realize, though, is that our relationship is the way it is because I allowed it to be that way. Once again, I was always trying to prove myself right about him not wanting anything to do with me. I think if I could have forgiven him years and years ago for his behavior on the playground that day, we could've enjoyed each other like we did when we were kids. I mean, what did I expect him to do? Turn around and beat those boys up? As usual, my expectations of how I think other people should react to certain situations has gotten the best of me. We were in 5th and 6th grade. As my hairdresser pointed out recently, we didn't know what to do at that age. And when all you are trying to do is fit in at a new school, the way he acted really wasn't that terrible. What were we supposed to do - go out for hot chocolate after class and talk about our feelings surrounding the situation? 

I have put a lot of pressure on my brother to be my protector because I think that's what older siblings should be. However, I have spent my entire life pushing him away and making a conscious effort to "not need him". As the Universe would have it, he responded accordingly. 

When my mom gave me that book recently "How Can I Forgive You", I immediately took offense to being called a narcissist and conveniently left the book at a bar I was at with some friends. I really didn't have any intention on reading the book, however the message on the cover started to sink in more and more as I thought about my brother. I'm not exactly sure what my mom's personal intentions were when she gave me the book (like, was she forgiving me? Was I supposed to be forgiving her?) but then, as I always say, everything happens for a reason. In the end, it wasn't about my relationship with my mom at all. 

A couple weeks ago, still on my sports movie kick, I put in Gridiron Gang (can't get enough of The Rock and Xhibit trying to be good examples for inner city youth). There is a scene towards the end where The Rock is telling one of the kids that he needs to learn how to forgive those in his life that have hurt him and made him feel worthless. He goes on to say that his father had always made him feel like he was good for nothing and wouldn't amount to anything. The boy looked up at The Rock and asked him how long it took him to finally forgive his father. There is a dramatic pause, tears begin to well up in The Rock's eyes and he says, shaking his head "Til Just Now." 


Like everything else in life, forgiveness is a choice. I don't need reasons to forgive or someone else's opinion on how to do it or tell me why it's the right thing to do. In my brother's case, I forgive simply because… I love him. 

And I am sorry. I choose to handle things differently than the rest of my family - and most of my friends for that matter - and my path of righteousness kept me from really having the kind of relationship I wanted with my brother. I can't say whether or not we will ever have the kind of friendship that I see other siblings have, but I know that when I think of my brother now, it is only with love and compassion. I think of him as a father and a husband. I think of him as a son who came back from the dead and chose a different life for himself. I see him as a brother who tried, but never knew where to go with me. Most importantly though, I see him as a human being. 

I know now that he is a protector and that his son will be beautiful and perfect because of who he has chosen to be.



This time, he definitely hit it out of the park. 

Monday, October 18, 2010

"If You Wait To Write, You're a Waiter... Not a Writer"

I am officially overwhelmed. 

I wasn't exactly sure what I was getting into when I signed up to attend the 2010 Blogworld and New Media Expo that took place at Mandalay Bay this past weekend. I knew that I was, most likely, going to get some good information on what it was like to be a "blogger" and was hoping that I could get a little bit of direction as far as where to take my blog. Having a background in sales and marketing - and specifically convention sales - I knew that there was going to be a lot of opportunity to network with others. This was the part that I looked forward to the least. 

Don't get me wrong, I know how important networking is. The only way you can learn from other people as well as share your own knowledge is to get the initial "hello" out of the way. However, it's specifically the networking events that I find so obnoxious. Mostly, it seems to me that it's just a lot of people walking around, hoping to give their business cards to anyone who is willing to take them. They spend a few minutes pitching their services and how they can help you, but ultimately, the intention is to make money and, therefore, they are really just trying to get you to become their next client. 

Of course, this isn't always the case, but by and large, this has been my experience of networking events. Mostly, I just go for the open bar. 

I feel that certain people come into your life for certain reasons and those are the relationships that really deserve the attention. For example, I have already divided my stack of received business cards into two piles - those that I remember the interaction and those that I don't. I will further connect based on if I remember the actual content of the conversation, what the person was trying to achieve and if they spent any time at all trying to sell me something. 

With that said, I have an even smaller pile of business cards - the ones that belong to my new friends. I didn't meet these ones at networking conventions or while walking through the exhibit hall. The first I met because we both decided to take the stairs up to lunch instead of the escalator. We had a brief conversation that included what each of us blogged about and discovered that our content was very similar. She invited me to sit with her and a few of her friends at the luncheon on the first day of the event. So I did. And by doing so, I met another person who is already my Facebook friend, we've texted back and forth, I have pictures of him hanging out with Jeremy and I at the after party events and we even played craps together and made a little money. All of this because we sat next to each other at lunch. 

The third person I remember was someone I took a class with. It was not a well attended class - only 8-10 people in the room - and the instructor was all about interaction. So, he asked everyone to partner up in the beginning and, as it happens sometimes, the person in front of me turned to the person to their left and the person behind me turned to the person on their right. So, I had to get creative. I looked around and saw a woman sitting back a few rows, head down, clearly not concerned whether or not she had a partner, but just wanted to interact as little as possible due to a shyness that I picked up on, not because she was uninterested in the class. So, I got up, walked back and asked her to be my partner and we spent the rest of the session engaging with the information to be learned and then finding out that we had a little bit in common when it came to our blogging. After the class, we exchanged blog cards and her husband took some pictures of us together. I am definitely looking forward to being her follower as well.  

Finally, on the last night's after party, following an unbelievable karaoke session where I got the crowd going with a live-band version of U Oughta Know by Alanis Morrissette, Jeremy (being my faithful wingman for all after hour parties), absolutely blew the audience away when he got up and belted out the best karaoke version of Journey's Separate Ways that I think has EVER been done. Seriously. It was amazing. I keep checking on YouTube to see if his performance has made it up there as many people were by the stage filming him. Awesome… anyhow, afterwards, we decided to get away from the crowd and went to play some more craps. It was there that we met three more people who came to our craps table because they wanted to play with us. They had no idea who we were, but they were at karaoke and loved our performances so, when the woman saw us at the table, she said she knew she wanted to play there. Jeremy proceeded to welcome them in, help them with their bets, and we all won money. We had drinks afterwards and one gentleman in particular offered to help me out with future blogging endeavors in exchange for having such a great time with us. 

These are the contacts that are useful and the ones that make a difference. 

Along with my new friends, I also found the content of the conference to be very, very helpful. One of the speakers in particular was so relatable and genuine that I have pretty much already become his stalker online. It took me three days to finally work up the courage to tell him in person how much I enjoyed his sessions. He had said that public speaking was the one thing he had been working on as he was very shy and nervous and openly admitted to being scared to death of all the eyes that were upon him. I told him that it was this vulnerability in his speaking that made him such a pleasure to listen to. As someone who wants to get into public speaking as another way to communicate and connect, I can only hope that we can perform in the same speaking arena one day. 

Back to being overwhelmed… there is SOOOO much work to be done in order to get my blog noticed and make a career out of my writing. Before the convention, I was sort of being aimless about the whole thing, knowing that my content was good and that I had talent as a writer, but not knowing if I wanted to try and write a book, do freelance writing or just be a famous blogger with a gazillion followers. What I learned is that no matter which path I choose, I have to approach this entire process much more like a marathon, not a sprint. It is simply not going to happen overnight. Especially because I didn't realize how far behind in social media I already am. I just signed up for Twitter! I was going to do it during the convention but was completely embarrassed that someone would see me signing up and wonder what the hell someone like me was doing at a new media conference when I wasn't even involved with new media! Ugh… however, I am happy because I am a new blogger, having only been doing so since July. I feel so grateful that Jeremy found this convention while reading the paper one day. It has helped put things into better focus for me and given a bit of direction to what I want to accomplish very early on in my blogging career. 

I have a lot of ideas that I'm knocking around and while I'm still not sure exactly how everything is going to play out, I have decided to really commit myself to this in a way that I haven't committed myself to anything before. It's so different when you are spending all of your time busting your ass so that someone else becomes successful. Everything I do, or don't do, directly relates to my own success. This takes personal responsibility and accountability to a whole new level!! Count me in! 

Also, I wanted to acknowledge everyone who takes the time to read my blogs. I realize that I tend to write more so in "long form" which may be why Twitter was so unattractive to me. 140 characters? Really? Do you know me?? But, honestly, I am excited to be in this new online world. I don't know nearly as much as I should - building websites, linking pages and online communities, oh my! - but I'm willing to learn as it seems like this kind of "networking" is a lot more fun than trying to force business cards into the hands of people who don't care unless they can make money off of you. 

I have also made a change that anyone can leave a comment on my blog now - I hadn't realized that I was limiting it only to those that were signed up with gmail or whatever the restriction was. Contrary to my very first post, I am definitely looking for feedback of all kinds as I continue on this journey. 

And to Jeremy, who booked a room on the strip during the convention so it would be easy for me to get back and forth, was my right hand at all social networking functions, was the best karaoke performer of the WHOLE night and also won my friends some money gambling, please know how deeply I appreciate everything you do from me. Yes, I want it all and I know that I am not always easy to please when it comes to my expectations in regards to this relationship… but I am so grateful for your generosity, outward focus and love. You are truly amazing and even if our path through this is rocky and not always easy to navigate, I would choose it over the clearly marked and paved road any day. You make life interesting, and that is not an easy attribute to come by. 

In closing, I have posted some pictures of the convention below (well, the social part of it at least) and as my life in the blogworld begins to evolve, I can only hope each and every one of you comes along for the ride. 

It's going to be a good one.

View from our room at Planet Hollywood
By far, my favorite thing to see in Vegas


At Haze Nightclub 



Jeremy and new friend, Rodney
at Liquid at Aria
Rodney is part of a t-shirt design company. Surprised?
Yeah... didn't think so


Random Dude who wanted picture
And... picture with Random Dude

So what? I'm still a rockstar!

Monday, October 11, 2010

"So What's Your Blog About?" "I Thought It Was About Me... As It Turns Out, It's About Everyone Else."

I knew this woman once who said that she didn't want to bother looking for a partner or be in love with anyone. When asked why, she scrunched up her face into a look of disgust and simply replied "Because relationships are messy." 

Boy, ain't that the truth. 

I had planned on doing a mini travel blog during these five days I've spent with Jeremy at Lake Tahoe. Oh, let me address something quickly… I have not fallen in love with a new man over the last few days - after discussing the probability of my blog going viral soon, given his profession and the fact that he takes money from casinos for a living, we both thought it would be in his best interest not to have his real name in my blog, especially because there are photos of him on here and he is often a popular subject in my writing, especially as of late. Having his name linked with a picture is a lot easier for identification purposes and we both enjoy his VIP lifestyle too much to risk losing it. So, his new name, at least in my blogworld, is Jeremy. I guess as long as I don't accidentally call it out in the heat of passion, we are okay.  

Anyway, Lake Tahoe… yes, I was going to do a similar blog to what I did with my England trip last year. I took notes and pictures the first few days we were here and even opened up my laptop a few times to sit and write. However, while the lake is unbelievably gorgeous and I've enjoyed the places we've visited here so far, there has been a LOT more going on with me emotionally and making mundane and superficial comments about the atmosphere seemed… inauthentic. As with everything else I write, I knew it needed to have more substance than that and I also knew that something unsettling had been going on between me and Jeremy and I think maybe I wanted to see how it was going to play out first. 

Being around someone for a significant period of time always brings up issues for me. I start to dissect every little thing that is going on. I notice behaviors that I hadn't noticed before. I start to wonder if I'm in too deep or over my head about things. I have been on the prowl for my perfect match for years and years. I have a very clear idea in my head of what perfection looks like to me and any time something happens that isn't consistent with this picture, I begin having doubts about the relationship. My expectations in a partner are extremely high. My expectations in people are high in general, which could be the reason why I don't have a lot of close relationships. It's certainly the reason I rolled into my 30th year as a single woman. 

The only thing that increases these feelings more than simply being around someone for a long period of time, is being in a car with someone for seven hours followed up by five straight days in a hotel room. Behaviors that I have found cute in the past were suddenly annoying and my moods kept swinging back and forth from having a wonderful time with my boyfriend to needing time alone NOW! I started getting frustrated about the fact that even though he reads all my blogs, I still couldn't get a door opened for me. I was upset that with all these beautiful photo opportunities we had, not once did he ask to get a picture with me. I hated that Saturday and Sunday were spent riding a financial rollercoaster of sports betting instead of simply enjoying the football games that were on. I was hurt that whenever I asked about a specific college team I was trying to learn about or get more details on a particular rule that was different than the NFL, because he would respond in a frustrated and condescending manner towards me. I did not like watching him lose thousands of dollars because the Broncos couldn't go four downs without getting a penalty flag. 

I spoke to him a little about my frustrations and, as always, he surprised me with his very open approach to feedback. The last two days, every door has been opened for me and he did try a lot harder yesterday to be a better sports fan than the day before. He makes it clear to me all the time how much he is willing to change in order to make this relationship work. But then I start to feel like "that girl" that falls in love with her man and then immediately tries to make him into something that is a better fit for her. I found myself conflicted, thinking "if he were really the right man for me, I wouldn't need to ask him to change all of these things about himself". I have been yo-yoing the past few days emotionally, trying to figure out what all this means. As usual, thinking too much. 

And then last night, at dinner, the shit really hit the fan. In a completely innocent way and without the intention of trying to hurt my feelings, Jeremy asked me how I was going to handle it when I became a famous writer and, inevitably, become more of a public figure, and would need to address the issue of my front teeth and how they are a little messed up and might appear a little…. trashy. 

How cute is it that he thought this statement wouldn't bother me. 

Needless to say, I flipped out. The rest of our dinner was spent with me going back and forth between fits of rage and tears of inadequacy. All of the emotions I had been going through the past few days came out in a petty, superficial "well you aren't perfect either!" kind of way. He kept trying to assure me that it wasn't a problem for him and that he loved me for who I was. He honestly didn't think it was a conversation that was going to bother me and would never have brought it up if he had any idea I was going to react the way I did. He told me that he forgets sometimes that people aren't as cerebral as he is nor do they take feedback as easily and constructively as he does. He wasn't even saying that I needed to fix anything about myself, just wanted to make sure I was ready for any negative feedback I might get from a society that expects their public figures to be "perfect". But now that I mentioned it, when exactly was I going to tell him that all these things he's been doing have been bothering me? Why was I withholding and how did I expect the relationship to work if our lines of communication aren't open? What kind of fucked up idea of a "perfect man" am I wanting, anyway? Am I just setting myself up to be constantly disappointed? Do I want to stay single? 

It was a long dinner. 

There are a couple of major downfalls that come with getting involved with someone so quickly. By day three of being together, Jeremy and I knew that we were "in it". We were a couple. I think it's easy to say that we had mutually chosen each other as life partners as that point. While there are parts of this that are definitely romantic and exciting, there are some other things that get a little lost in this process. For example, the "getting to know each other" part. Yes, he had read all of my blogs and told me some of his most intimate stories before we even met. We clearly have a connection and a strong bond that neither of us have felt with anyone else. However, with my tough girl facade, it's sometimes hard to tell what offends me and what doesn't. For example, he probably won't ever bring up my teeth again. But he wouldn't have known any better had he not brought it up the first time. I knew that he gambled for a living and that football season is basically his busiest time of year, but I had no idea how frustrating it was going to be to try and enjoy watching a football game with him that he has money on, let alone four at the same time. These are the things we learn about each other as we get to know one another. And we both dove into this relationship head first with no floating devices so yes, inevitably, there were going to be challenges. 

As always, everything happens for a reason. We talked through everything until we were the last people in the restaurant. By the time we were done, we had recommitted to be the best partners for one another because regardless of the things that might upset or frustrate us about each other, they pale in comparison to the love and connection that we have that we know is so much more powerful than any other bridges we come to that we are going to have to cross. And as he puts it, there will be many. He told me to reexamine my idea of perfection and what I think I am looking for in a man. Then he told me again that one of the reasons he loves me so much is because I make him a better person every day. He loves my feedback. He loves being with me and wants to be the best boyfriend, fiance and husband he can possibly be. And he can only be these things if our communication lines are wide open. He admits that he isn't easy to be with and pointed out that there was a reason he was still single at 35. But we both know that we crashed into each other for a very specific purpose. And while the collision resulted in even better versions of what both of us were previously, the impact left some pieces to be picked up. 

I have never in my life met a man like this before. And I would be a fool to not see that perfection has been given to me. And his blogworld name is Jeremy. 

There is something else that has come up for me that I'd like to address. I'm done with The Rules. I don't want them to be a part of my life anymore. I don't want rules of any sort to be a part of my life anymore. In the beginning, I thought that putting them in place would accomplish a few things. First and foremost, I would see significant changes in my life and attract positive opportunities. Secondly, it would give me some discipline and focus so that I could successfully change my belief system in regards to cigarettes, drugs, alcohol, sex and gambling. Finally, it would give me something to write about, something that I could use as a lifeline for a book. It was this third reason that I became overwhelmingly attached to. 

A lot of people will be asking what my blog is about when I attend that convention next weekend. Obviously, I want to have an accurate answer for them and the truth is, this blog is not at all about rules. It's about living a life of responsibility and accountability and using my life experiences as a platform to speak into what this means on a level where other people can relate to it. I subscribe to the idea of choice and that everything we have or don't have in our lives is because of choices we have made and continue to make every day. My brother, who doesn't often offer up advice, did give me one of the most valuable pieces of it a when he and his wife first became a couple. He told me that the reason they worked so well together is every morning, they wake up and choose to be together. They knew that if there ever came a time where they felt they were staying together as an obligation or out of fear of not having anyone else, they would go their separate ways. I remember him telling me this with such conviction and it's something that I've never forgotten. 

When I put the Rules onto paper that morning, before heading out to celebrate my birthday in San Diego, I made my choice to have my life be different. And in that moment, it was. I quit smoking cigarettes because I knew it was the ultimate birthday gift I could give to myself. I knew I needed to quit smoking weed and having a "rule" about it helped me realize that I don't need it in my life anymore. I enjoyed drinking but figured going a year with hard liquor would be an interesting project. At the time, I was drinking with the intention of getting wasted and then getting behind the wheel. I put that "rule" in place because I knew I needed to end this behavior. Really, Tina? I actually needed to make a rule to no longer drink and drive? It's easy to see this now - it's easy to realize that all I needed to do was simply choose NOT to live a destructive lifestyle through alcohol. By disciplining myself to the point of no longer taking three or four shots and then driving across town in the middle of the night, I was able to see very quickly how the way I was living my life before was not working for me. Seeing how little I respected my life and the lives of others by drinking and driving was a reality check for me that I have taken very, very seriously. The other side of this, though, is that enjoying some wine with my boyfriend while at dinner or indulging in a margarita by the pool or a bloody mary at brunch… these things are not destructive to my life or the lives of others. As far as alcohol is concerned, for me, it is as easy as making better choices. 

I suppose this same theory applies to the gambling although this rule, admittedly, just sounded good and seemed to round off my supposedly year long "sin free" lifestyle rather nicely. Yes, I played way too much Keno and I didn't lie about missing that car payment that one time. But honestly, I don't have a gambling problem. I had a bit of an "alone" problem for a long time and so going to a random bar, drinking in excess for the cost of whatever I decided to stick in the Keno machine and making friends with bartenders was definitely more of an issue for me than the actual gambling ever was. And Jeremy is right, having a different outlook to gambling changes the whole game. And this is coming from someone who DID have a gambling problem and was told by everyone that the only way he was going to "get better" was to quit completely. Instead, he decided to change the way he thought about gambling - and life, for that matter - and found himself in a position where not only did he have the chance to make a very large amount of money through a gambling opportunity he discovered, he brought his friends and family in on this opportunity and made them money as well. I have a completely different respect for money than I had before. Specifically, I no longer feel like I'm not good enough to have it. I know I'm worthy of wealth and prosperity. I am not afraid to accept financial opportunities that come my way. I no longer want to get rid of the money I do have as quickly as possible because I think it's bad to have it. My conversation about money has changed. Right now. As I'm writing this… wow. And here I just thought I didn't know how to make money. I've always known how to make money - I just didn't think I deserved it therefore I found ways to get rid of it as quickly as possible. What a breakthrough… I have been trying to change my beliefs about money for years and I think I finally just did. 

As far as the sex, I think I pretty much covered that in one of my recent blogs. To reiterate, I am having sex with a man that I am in love with. I chose to have sex with him because of a connection that we have. Our sex is meaningful, passionate and fun. I am no longer having sex because I feel like I should, or to manipulate someone or because I feel bad about myself. Someone who was aware of my sexual history told me once to never let anyone else touch my body with the disrespect that I was allowing it to be touched with ever again. He told me I was worthy and beautiful and didn't need to treat my body like it was a piece of shit. Even after he told me this, I didn't believe him… and went on for years using sex and my body as a reason not to connect with someone on a deeper level. I used sex in place of vulnerability. Now, I am vulnerable with my lover on such a deep level that that sex is all that more fulfilling. It's become the dessert of the relationship, not the main entree. 

My beliefs about all these things have changed. I have already achieved the first two reasons The Rules were put into place to begin with. Like I mentioned, I have been struggling recently with the idea of no longer having these rules as a part of my blog. I definitely didn't want to seem like I couldn't follow through on my commitments and I also wanted to have something that I could turn into book form. Without something specific to write about, what was supposed to be my main subject? Me? 

Yes, actually. My friend Whitney said it best… narcissism is a bitch. 

So here I am. My name is Tina and I live a life of responsibility and accountability. I make mistakes all the time. But every morning, I wake up and recommit to be the best person I can be that day. I don't blame anyone else for the unfavorable things that happen in my life and I also don't give anyone else any credit for all the wonderful things I have. My life is reflection of the choices that I make every second of every day. I don't pray to a God to make my life better and I don't cross my fingers and hope things will work out for me. I write my story. I don't give my power to anyone else because I know everything I need to have everything I want is already inside of me. My blog is about being the best version of me that I can be with the intention that those who choose to read it will access their power and write their own story. 

And yes, sometimes life can get messy. As the phoenix reminds us, it's from the ashes that we rise and show the world who we truly are. As Jeremy made me realize last night, life is not about finding perfection, it's about identifying those things in others that help us become the biggest versions of ourselves. It's in the giving and receiving that we all become whole. We are not all that different, you and I. And together, we are everything. 

It was said best and most simply in Trainspotting… 

Choose Life. 

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

I'm No Bobby Fischer or Lewis and Clark... But I Make This Look Good

"Don't think so much." 

"Relax." 

"Quit overanalyzing everything." 

And my favorite and most recent… "Chill the fuck out." 

These are a few of my least favorite sayings. Probably because I've heard them throughout my entire life, but I think more so because I would love to be able to do any of these things at any given time. This is the one piece of advice that eludes me more than anything since I follow pretty faithfully the idea of Choice. If I truly believe that we can, in any given moment, choose a different path, a different way of thinking, a different pair of shoes than the day before, surely I can find a way to choose to worry less, or not at all. I should be able to choose to relax my mind, surrender to what is and what I'm creating. I should be able to turn the analytical part of myself off long enough to enjoy dinner with my boyfriend. So, if I believe this is possible, why, then, can I not figure out how to do it. 

It's like when someone asks me where North is. No, not the True North I described in my last blog, but the North that would get me out of the woods if I were stranded. Do you know how long it takes me to figure out which direction North is? Thank God I live in valley where North is marked by a gigantic needle pointing straight in the air and South is easily identified at night by a blaring light that blasts into the Universe. I tell you, those casinos definitely don't want tourists to get lost. If nothing else, I think directionally speaking, Las Vegas is the perfect city for me. I feel like an idiot when I can't figure out my directions. It's something that comes so naturally to other people and I instantly get frustrated that I don't have this very basic trait that almost everyone else has. 

Same with chess. I have been taught at least five or six times how to play chess and have then played an entire game. The next time someone asks me to play, it's gone. I have no idea how I played before or even the most basic of rules. Some things just don't seem to stay in my brain. Now, I think with lots and lots of practice and a strong dedication to both the compass and the chess board, I could probably overcome these handicaps. However, while frustrating at times, I don't really feel the need to overexert myself trying to learn either one of these things. 

Now, thinking less? Enjoying something without having to analyze it? Relaxing? Chilling the fuck out? Yeah, these are some things I'd really like to learn how to do. With all the change I am creating in my life, this particular part of my personality is something I would like to change the most. I think one of the reasons why I struggle so much with this is the belief I have that I must give up control to something outside of myself in order to do this whole "surrendering" thing everyone keeps talking about. I'm afraid that if I let my guard down, I'll be thrown off the path of enlightenment that I've worked so hard to create for myself. Sounds kind of silly, doesn't it. Here I am with a map in my hands, a map that I've drawn that leads me to a place that I only hope is actually there. In the meantime, enlightenment herself is all around me, shaking her head and saying softly "silly child… the path is not the way - you are already enlightened by accepting the journey". 

Then where the hell am I headed??? 

The truth is, I don't know. But I'm starting to care less and less and maybe that's what surrendering truly is. I sat in that restaurant on July 1st, mapping out The Rules because I was unhappy with the way I was living my life. I wanted change. I wanted to see something significantly different happen because of the choices that I made. Even then, I was approaching everything from a very analytical standpoint. I am starting to think that perhaps… just maybe… hold your breath… I may have been wrong in that approach. Not initially. I needed something extreme in order to get the train going the opposite direction on those tracks. But I've seen the changes in my life almost instantaneously and continue to hold on as tight as I can while the change continues to swirl around me like a tornado. What is it going to take for me to simply let go and ride the wind? 

I did do something this week that was definitely outside of my comfort zone and felt a little… out of control in the process. And you know what, it really wasn't that bad… 

One of my favorite shows on television is What Not To Wear. In fact, I have found myself starting to schedule my gym time around when the show is on so I can watch it during my cardio hour. For those who haven't seen it, it's basically a makeover show. The two hosts, Stacy and Clinton, take a person whose friends and family have sent in a request for fashion help without said person's knowledge. Stacy and Clinton "surprise" this person with a week in New York that includes fashion advice, $5,000 for a new wardrobe, and a crash course in hair and makeup. I am a big fan of a lot of those makeover shows because of the transformational context of everything. For example, Extreme Makeover and it's spin-off, the Home Edition? Those shows change people's lives. It's amazing to see the transition from the opening credits to the closing monologue. I could never watch a full episode of the Home Edition without bawling like a newborn by the end. Well, What Not To Wear isn't quite as intense as this, but it is still similar in that it gives the person they choose to makeover a new sense of who they are. It looks at why they were dressing they way they were, analyzing how they feel about themselves and what their belief is in regards to their self-image. And then the hosts give them some valuable, and sometimes harsh (but always with good intentions) feedback. Then, some ideas are presented about different clothing options and the person is sent out onto the streets to buy new clothes. Typically, they struggle at first - anxious to pick out things that they are comfortable with and are not new for them. Sometimes, they go to extreme and have to be reeled back in. Either way, Stacy and Clinton show up towards the end of the shopping extravaganza to "save the day" and the person ends up being grateful and thankful for the help. Then, after a new hairdo, some makeup tips and a show-and-tell session with the hosts, they go back to their friends and family for their big reveal. 

What I love so much about the show is watching the attitude of the person shift so drastically. They are usually hurt and stubborn in the beginning but by the end, they are so happy and absolutely glowing with a renewed sense of self-confidence, ready to take on the world. That's good shit, I don't care who you are. 

I mentioned my friend Nancy a while back in one of my blogs. We used to work together in the hotel industry and have since chosen different career paths. Now, she is in fashion, which is extremely appropriate as she has always been my most fashion-forward friend. When I was younger, I was also really into fashion. In fact, I even graduated from the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising. Not for Fashion Design, but still… I was all about it. However, the older I got, the less I cared. Plus, I started wanting to attract less and less attention to myself and deep down, really didn't think I looked as good as I used to and so I stuck with clothes that were unflattering or hid the parts of my body that I no longer loved. I started wearing hats all the time and as I really started to get into my "avoidance" stage of life, I purchased most of my clothes from skate stores, dressing every day in Hurley T-Shirts, wife beaters, board shorts or jeans and (Travis's favorite) my Vans or DC sneakers. I'm not really knocking this look - but for someone who wants to be taken seriously and treated like a respectable woman, it's probably NOT in my best interest to be dressing like the masculine half of a lesbian couple. I am positive this is why I continued to attract guys that always treated me like a buddy, never a lady (see blog on chivalry). 

Unfortunately, fashion-wise, I don't think I am a big enough disaster to be a candidate for What Not To Wear so I decided to have my own little show. Jeremy had received a gift card to Macy's as a promotion from Harrah's and I had a little bit of shopping money saved up myself. So, I called up Nancy and she, of course, agreed to meet me at the Fashion Show Mall on the strip for a "makeover morning" yesterday before she had to go into work. 

I decided from the very start to surrender completely and give her complete control of the shopping trip. I told her all about this convention I was going to (Blogworld!) and how I wanted to be taken seriously. I told her I was done dressing like a kid but that I had been out of the loop for so long that I didn't even know where to start. Just walking through Macy's to meet Nancy, I was already working up a sweat from being so overwhelmed at all of my choices. I said I was in her hands and wasn't going to turn my nose up at anything she suggested or recommended. 

So, we started walking through the store and she began grabbing things off the rack and telling me about how to mix and match items to make many outfits out of one. She told me the importance of basics and educated me on some of the latest styles and looks that were modern, but not too trendy that I would appear dated by the end of the year. I liked most of the stuff she was grabbing off the racks but, admittedly, I would never have picked out the outfits she did if I were on my own. At one point, she pulled a dress of the rack and I jokingly said "What, are you trying something on, too?" She just smiled and put it with the rest of the clothes in her arms. 

We went into the fitting room and I couldn't believe it. Everything looked great! There were only a few things that didn't really work with my body but for the most part, a whole new style for me came together in that little tiny room! I was amazed! I was so happy with everything she had selected and she was telling me about all the little accessories and basic pieces we'd go find for much cheaper just to complete the outfits. She told me how it was good to spend a little more on really important pieces - like jackets, dresses and shoes - and to fill in the rest with moderately priced belts, jewelry and undershirts. 

And the dress that I laughed at on the hanger? The most beautiful dress I've ever had. Seriously. Like it was sitting there waiting for me to find it. Unbelievable. 

Needless to say, I learned a lot that day. Obviously, I learned a ton about the latest fashion and how to wear clothes that not only flattered my shape, but still spoke loudly in terms of my personality. Nancy kept pointing out how important it was that I felt comfortable in everything I tried on as it has to feel "right". More importantly, however, I learned that giving up control is not only okay, sometimes, it's the only way to get the most out of the change I am looking for. It is really refreshing to be wrong sometimes. 

So, as they do in the television show, I held a little fashion show for myself today - taking three outfits that I wore all the time before and then comparing them with three of my new outfits. 






This is old casual Tina. This is something I would wear all summer long - I would wear this bowling, to a pool party or just an afternoon at a friends house. This is a very safe outfit for me. (I'm going to have to hide my Vans from Travis so he won't burn them now that I have a new look) 








This is new casual Tina. I love that even my energy seems different in these clothes. I'm ready to face anything, meet anyone, and puff my chest out because I deserve the credit and the attention. I feel confident, attractive and comfortable with this look. 


















This is old going-out Tina. This is something I would wear to the bar or to the movies. It's easy and quiet. It doesn't draw any attention to me and is completely within my comfort zone. I have been known to wear outfits like this to the club. Yeah, yeah… I know… 








This is new going-out Tina. This is completely fun for me. It's new, it's a little edgier than I'm used to. I love how nice I look in skinny jeans and cargos. I would NEVER have guessed I could pull this off. And the belt? I always thought I'd come off as Peg Bundy but it really works well. The colors are great and it's tough without being manly. People can still tell I'm a girl - ha! 













This is old dressy Tina. I like this dress but definitely feel as if it's a little young for me. I don't like showing this much skin and strappy shoes have proven to be painful and dangerous for me more than they have ever been sexy. I do like that it shows off my back tattoos, but sometimes, it's nice to have those covered as well. 


This is new dressy Tina. Okay, so I kinda feel like Madonna in this outfit. In both the good ways and the bad ways. But, come on? Madonna is the shit! And I was VERY surprised at how well this outfit looked once I had it all on. I felt grown up without feeling old and pretty without being flashy. I feel like at a dinner party or reception of some sort, I would be taken seriously in this outfit. And the boots are amazing. 


Not bad, eh? I didn't include a picture of my new favorite dress in the whole entire world. That's an in-person kind of thing… 

So, there you have it. My own little makeover. Like I said, giving up the control wasn't so bad. It was quite liberating to have achieved this level of change by not having to control the entire situation and call all the shots. It makes me wonder if I can truly sort out the idea of surrendering to the point where maybe I can give my brain a break every once in a while. I do know for sure that worrying all the time and analyzing every little thing about life is not healthy. Without spontaneity, we all just end up living in The Truman Show and I can't imagine a life more miserable than that. 

This was a little bit more than a baby step for me but I still have a long way to go. I'm conflicted about My Rules and how breaking some of them and feeling bad about it is affecting my journey. Guilt is not an emotion that attracts positive energy. Already my journey is turning out differently than I planned but maybe that's not such a bad thing after all. 

I mean, really - should you even allow a person who doesn't know which way North is to draw a map anyway?? 

Saturday, October 2, 2010

Okay, I Admit... Sometimes Stopping and Asking for Directions is Helpful

Today marks the three month anniversary of introducing The Rules into my life. Last month, there was quite a bit of static going on and I don't really feel like I spent enough time elaborating on my progress with The Rules. Certainly, throughout all of my blogs, it is clear that different things are being brought into my space, which, of course, was the whole intention behind The Rules to begin with… however I am really feeling like I need to get into some more specifics with my sin-free lifestyle. While I would like my update to be positive and showing commitment to these Rules, unfortunately, there is a bit of hypocrisy to discuss as well. So, here goes. 

I suppose it would just be easiest to start with the cigarettes and drugs since those two rules I've upheld completely since making my original commitment. I really, truly feel in my heart that I will never smoke another cigarette for the rest of my life. I've had dreams where I'm out with friends and I have one drag off of a friend's smoke or even enjoy one completely by myself. When I wake up, I am so relieved that it was a dream. When I'm in my car driving around and see someone with a cigarette hanging out the window, I think about how that used to be me. Or when I go to Starbucks and see someone sitting outside with their pack of cigarettes. I can't believe how offensive and disgusting I feel when I leave a bar after having one beer and all I can smell is the nicotine that has settled onto my skin and hair. I can't wait to get home and get in the shower and scrub the shit out of my skin. Seriously. 

Furthermore, I've really started to shift my focus more and more into a healthy arena. Even if I didn't find cigarette smoke so appalling now, it just makes no sense to me to spend my mornings at the gym, my afternoons buying and preparing healthy food and spending a little more on vitamins than I used to, and on a daily basis, minding my ph balance and acid levels to help keep my body in a optimum disease-fighting mode, and then counteracting all of these behaviors by sparking up a cigarette. It seems finally that my mind has shifted from wanting to "quit smoking" to wanting to "be healthy". It's amazing the power we can give ourselves when we simply shift the way we look at things. 

As far as pot goes, my thinking about this has changed significantly as well. I always told myself that when I finally decided to quit smoking cigarettes, I would learn how to cook with weed so that I could minimize the damage to my lungs that smoking daily (or hourly) from a glass pipe or bong will do. I loved the idea of learning how to make "pot butter" so I could look forward to every piece of toast I would make. Ha! Then again, I would probably go through an entire loaf of bread each day which would not be good for my waistline. 

However, as I mentioned briefly last month, I'm starting to really feel like I no longer want marijuana to be part of my life. Unlike cigarettes, pills or other types of heavy drugs, however, I do not condemn others for their choice to include marijuana as a daily practice for them. I just don't see it as a dangerous drug. Yes, like anything else, in excess, it can be damaging to someone's lungs and I don't think it's very smart to smoke and then operate a vehicle. But, in the comfort of one's home or socially in a safe environment, I definitely understand the idea of pot being an acceptable recreational drug. 

For me, though, and for what I'm up to, it does seem inconsistent. The big reason why I stopped smoking pot to begin with was to go through this year long "experiment" with a clean and sober mind. Pot is a very quick way to cover up any kind of anxieties or insecurities we have. Obviously, this is why the medical marijuana industry has blown up recently. It is a great way to feel better. Unfortunately, it's also a fantastic way to avoid. And that is the one thing I am trying to focus on more than anything else - facing things head on without hiding behind a vice. It was brought to my attention recently (not that I wasn't aware of this on a subconscious level), that staying at Chili's was also a very big way to avoid the adventures that I really wanted to take in my life, especially as far as a new career was concerned. It was safe, easy and I was able to get by just fine. I never had to get out of my comfort zone and if I wanted to have a day full of negativity, anger and frustration with things outside of myself, Chili's was a wonderful way to harvest this victim-like behavior. Plus, to sort of full-circle this particular point, I never had to pass a drug test to be a Chilihead. 

Speaking of that, there is something I find significant about this day. With the exception of some extensive hair tests, today marks the day that, supposedly, I should be able to pass a urine test if I needed to. I guess part of me finds that sort of amusing. I've never had to take a drug test for any of my jobs and, if all goes according to plan, I'll never have to work for someone else again and therefore, won't have to worry about passing a drug test. But considering this is the first time I can remember being in this position in close to ten years, I definitely find it interesting. 

It does seem to me that removing pot from my life, in addition to the other changes I have made, has helped in attracting certain new things into my space. Jeremy said something interesting yesterday when talking about a girl he had gone out with a few times before he met me. He said that while he did like her, he knows that they weren't meant to be together for a few reasons, one specific one being her negative feelings about money and abundance. After they had gone out a few times, Jeremy was traveling for about a month and when he got back into town, this girl had found herself a boyfriend who shared her poverty conversation. He said that he definitely sees now that he and I were meant to be together as he sees us living in abundance with each other while this girl and her new boyfriend were perfectly happy being broke together. Sounds a bit harsh, but a valid point nonetheless, especially when considering the universal law of "like attracts like". I've spent the last ten years attracting people that I could get high and avoid many important aspects of life with. These days, I want to use my energy attracting and spending time with people who are traveling in the same direction as me and who aren't afraid to get caught in the current for a while. It's just that this direction takes a very sober way of thinking and an unlimited amount of personal accountability. Traits that have, historically, been difficult for me to attract in others as I wasn't willing to acknowledge them in myself. 

As far as alcohol goes, I have some mixed emotions about this particular rule. My commitment was to stick with beer and wine on a strictly social level and not to consume any hard alcohol for the entire year. I have remained true to this and really don't have any problem turning down shots or saying no to the delicious looking cocktails on certain menus around town. I really am perfectly fine drinking my light beer or red wine. I guess there is still part of me that wonders if I should be drinking at all. I've been out with friends a few times over the last month and had enough to drink to get a good buzz going - I have been much more responsible about having alternate plans besides getting behind the wheel in these cases and really, there hasn't been a time where I've actually been… "hammered" for lack of a better term. However, given my reason for not smoking weed and wanting to go through this year with a clear and sober mind, especially when making choices about my future and attempting to attract success, abundance and overall, something different than what I've had in the past, it sometimes seems that any kind of drinking is inconsistent with this idea. Ugh, I'm just not really sure where to go with this, honestly. I know that there are some steps I could be taking to ensure my mind stays clear and sober and that includes drinking less or just sticking to water. The truth is, this is an aspect of my social life that I'm simply not willing to let go of at the moment. So, again, while I haven't actually broken the rule I set in place for myself, it remains to be seen as time carries on whether or not I decide to dig a little deeper into this particular Rule. 

I mentioned it in my "freak-out" blog, the way I was allowing myself to gamble using Jeremy's chosen profession as an excuse. However, I have recommitted to keep my own money in my pocket for the remainder of this year. This is especially important to me now given the fact that I simply don't know where my next paycheck is coming from. I am very confident that I have made some major strides in creating abundance and prosperity in my life. But, like I've mentioned about other things, to be asking for wealth and then following it up with irresponsibly feeding a few twenties into a keno machine, purely to pass the time and not even to try and win anything significant, seems counterproductive. I suppose one could say the same thing about random meaningless purchases as well (say, a Starbucks beverage or the latest frozen yogurt flavor at U-Swirl) but for me, I just feel bad about myself when I am losing money in a slot machine. And it may be a bit of a copout, but I do get my button pushing fix when Jeremy and I are out together as he likes to fund any gambling we do. Gambling is something else that, should I continue to do after this year, I need to make sure my conversation about it internally has changed. For example, whenever I am gambling, I am playing to stay while Jeremy is always playing to win. The difference in that way of thinking alone is a big reason why I shouldn't be throwing my money away. Plus, the last thing I need is all that free beer. 

And finally, The Rule that started it all. Sex. 

I admittedly sort of bowled over this subject when writing my last update. Talk about mixed emotions… I mean, this was the Rule that pretty much started this whole project. And then, of course, I broke my rule only two weeks after making it and then promptly slept with Jeremy as soon as I met him as well. I do my best to talk things out with Jeremy before I write them so that nothing comes up as a surprise however a lot of the time, I'm not really sure what I want to say about something until it appears on the computer screen. When discussing this with him, I'm afraid I did hurt his feelings a little bit - I think he thought I was saying that I was remorseful about having slept with him so quickly without making any kind of attempt to follow my Rule. I remember having many conversations with people at work and so forth when I was first putting this Rule together in my head that if a man truly loved me and wanted to be with me, then he would wait a year to have sex with me. Even at the time, I wasn't confident in this particular conviction but it sure sounded good. 

Regret is certainly not what I feel about having slept with Jeremy. I think maybe the only thing I wish is that I would've let him know in more depth how important it was to me to try and get to know him a little bit better before sleeping with him. I mean, now it doesn't seem to matter. He and I have pretty much live in a constant state of vulnerability and there is nothing that comes up that we aren't willing to discuss. As I've mentioned before, he is always willing to get uncomfortable when discussing anything if he knows that it is coming from a place of honesty and a commitment to "us". Since both of us have very analytical personalities, we are able to sit and have very responsible, accountable, grown up conversations about things that are bothering us. There are times when my bad habit of taking things personally and going internal show up, but the length of time in which I am in this state is relatively short-lived. I can't really get much past Jeremy and he wears his energy like a trench coat - it's easy to tell when it's off. 

The one thing that we have talked about and that I am starting to really understand is that in the past, I have used sex for a multitude of reasons whether it was to feel good about myself, validate myself as a decent partner, pure obligation in order to get someone to like me, or out of sheer, 100% insecurity and self-loathing. While I think it would've been important to go into more detail about why I felt the need to abstain, none of these mentioned emotions came up when I decided to sleep with Jeremy. I really felt like I had attracted exactly who I have been looking for into my space and when the time came to make the decision to have sex, I did so with that clear, sober and confident mind that I have been wanting to make decisions with for a long time. I guess the only thing that seems to nag at me is that what if things hadn't worked out with Jeremy and I the way they did? What if he turned out not to be at all the person that I thought he was? Sometimes, this fear creeps up even now because as much as I know about Jeremy and as much as we feel like we have a connection beyond anything we've ever experienced with someone, time truly is the ultimate test as to whether or not everything we believe to be happening is actually authentic. 

I suppose this is a bit of a pessimistic view on things and I don't really mean to be such a downer about it. There's just a lot going on right now. I mean, I asked for change and it's certainly what I got. I guess I just wasn't really sure that it would all come rushing down on me like a giant waterfall of "oh yeah? Well check THIS out!" and "bet you didn't see THAT coming!". So, yeah, my mind gets a little overworked at times. 

I keep seeing that investment commercial about following the green line. There is something so powerful happening right now that all of a sudden, I feel like I've actually found a line of my own to follow instead of just wandering aimlessly around in the woods. And Jeremy is a huge part of that. He doesn't actually tell me where to go, just breaks out the compass every now and then which is my own reminder of what True North means to me and what I should be doing to continue heading that direction. I have a compass tattoo on the back of my neck for a reason - I attracted someone else who puts equal, if not more importance, on having a direction. 

So, that pretty much sums up what's going on in my head as I get ready to enjoy a full day of college football on my three month anniversary of establishing The Rules. I am loving the fact that I don't have to go to work at Chili's anymore and have spent time focusing on morning meditation, daily affirmations and overall, feeling grateful for this opportunity that I have been given. Even my negative thoughts aren't as strong as they used to be and the Cynic keeps his mouth shut a lot more than before. I'm an emotional person and vulnerability does NOT come naturally to me… but I remain true to how I feel when I sit and write and would like to take a minute to acknowledge everyone out there who takes the time to read my innermost thoughts. I appreciate both the direct feedback and also just knowing that someone across the world looks forward to my writing as they enjoy a cup of coffee in the morning. It is this that keeps me motivated to continue on with this project. Oh, and for anyone who read THIS particular blog in one sitting - massive kudos to you! 

On a final note, difficult conversations and honest feedback are the backbone of the strongest relationships. I hope that each and every one of you care enough about me and others in your life that you love to be willing to go places that are uncomfortable. Again, this is where the beauty of human connection lies. Only in our authentic sharing do we discover what is actually important to us and only through personal responsibility to we find ways to take the feedback we receive and put it to constructive use. 

This is my True North.