When Hearts Change

There’s a Christmas song I downloaded last year that is lovely and uplifting and sweet. When this song came up on my shuffle playlist the other day, one line in particular really called out to me…When Hearts Change.

When I heard that line, the thought immediately popped into my head that my heart is changing. Right here, right now in myriad different ways. I’m experiencing growing pains, if you will. Little pokes and prods and moments of peace and sorrow that remind me I’m feeling. Moments such as…

* Realizing that the one who you had your heart and soul invested in has moved on to another and is never going to be yours again. No more sweet, tender moments late at night after sharing deep confessions and feelings. No more feeling the center of the world in his arms. Everything from here must be sanitized and framed within the context of “just friends” in order for there to be any interaction at all.  His choice has been made and, in making that choice, he also forced me to make mine.

* Looking into the eyes of a man you’ve known for years and suddenly seeing something there you didn’t before. The intensity of a stare in a moment when there is nothing more than you and him locked in a sweet, innocent physical connection that burns with an intensity that takes your breath away.

* Having the two-and-half year-old that you love more than your own life fall asleep in your arms or willingly seek you out for a kiss and hug. And the bittersweet of knowing that such moments are fleeting the older he gets.

* Knowing in your heart and soul that it’s time for a change- a fresh start. And trying to figure out where that start should take place. Closer to family and roots? Or someplace visited in a dream or book that has always tantalized and teased with the question of “what if…”

* Finally understanding that some people just aren’t capable of loving and giving to you the way you want or need them to. And realizing that you either need to accept them as they are or let go and move on. Not because they are bad or wrong, but because you know that you need, and deserve, so much more than they are capable of giving.

* Seeing the results of 50 squats a day in the mirror when you look at your behind in yoga pants. (I had to throw some levity in here somewhere.)

My heart is changing. Right now it is broken and full of sorrow and hurt but I know it won’t last. I know that I am stronger than any heartbreak and that the darkness of today will make the sunshine all the more precious tomorrow. And I also know that, deep inside, there is something in me- call it mettle or grit or stubbornness that won’t let the sadness prevail for long. I’ll wallow a bit longer, allowing the sadness to make me vulnerable and open my eyes and heart to love and truth and forgiveness. Then I’ll do what I’ve always done, stand back up stronger and more determined and love like I never had a broken heart.

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me @ 37

I realize that I’ve neglected my little piece of the internet and didn’t write my annual “me @ whatever frighteningly advancing age I just turned” post last year. What can I say except maybe I didn’t have anything to share. Which couldn’t be further from the truth but it is what it is…

Without further ado, me @ 37…

boxing * baseball * paleo * spending time with the Turners * broken, nail-less toes * converse * Caketini cake pops * public administration * black and white stripes * angel wings * GOTR * thunderstorms * letting go * tattoos * boudoir photos * hiking * kayaking * heavy lifting * overcoming * defying the odds * lemon and honey facial masks * tinted eyelashes * leather * fall * pumpkin anything * traveling * facing the truth * proving my mettle * grace * blue * turquoise jewelry * black eyes

To recap: the last year has been a difficult one, but very rewarding. A new position had me working ungodly hours and fighting to prove my worth and earn my stripes. I struggled, I fought, I bit…and ultimately emerged both humbled and gratified. I’ve crossed a few things off my bucket list (tattoos, Bon Jovi in Vegas, boudoir photos…yikes) and had a darn good time doing it. I’ve risked my heart and had it fractured. I’m still trying to reach a place of peace within myself and suspect that I will always be trying to do so. I’ve had a black eye, a broken toe and surgery to remove a toe nail. I’ve had a health scare that shook me to my core and made me re-evaluate quite a few things in my life. I’ve opened up, been hurt, hurt others, apologized, forgiven, screamed, loved, shared, given, received, healed, broken, surrendered, fought, failed, risked and bled. But above all…

I’ve lived.

Clarity

I’m always amazed by the times in our lives that bring us total clarity, if only for a moment. Those brief seconds of seeing the world, and ourselves, in complete truth and honesty. When the lies we tell ourselves, if only out of protection, fall away and the naked, honest truth stands before us.

I had one such moment yesterday, parked overlooking a hilly expanse in southeastern Arizona. The warmth of the sun, a cool breeze and a feeling of safety lulled me into a state of complete contentment. I felt myself drifting off to sleep when a thought came to me, totally unbidden and unexpected, that hit me like a truck. It was the realization of how I felt about the person in the seat next to me, whose steady breathing and solid presence had produced such a feeling of safety and contentment. That moment of utter clarity made me realize I had been lying to myself for a while now, thinking I could play with fire and not get burned. The realization that I feel for him far more than he feels for me was brutal. I’ve been fighting hard to keep my heart in check and thought it was. But in that moment of sunshine and sleepiness, I realized my heart is involved far more than it should be.

In a way, I don’t want my heart involved. The impossibility of a relationship anything more than what we already have is undeniable. If I’m being totally honest, I don’t want to feel this way. Not because he isn’t an amazing man who means a great deal to me, but because I’m the only one feeling this way. And when you are trying to hide your true feelings from someone, it creates complications and struggles in a relationship that only the person who is doing the hiding can understand. No, I’m not usually this cranky or moody…I’m just trying with everything inside of me to keep from confessing that my heart is tangled up in you and that is why I am sometimes so difficult. And I try desperately not to let my heart get hopeful and linger in “what ifs.”

I don’t want to lose what we have. This man makes me laugh. He supports me and pushes me to be better. He calms me down when I get upset and makes my heart smile. We have long, stimulating conversations that last for hours and can also act like kids on a sugar high. Just being with him is balm to my nerves and emotions. He’s changed me in a million little ways- opened my eyes and made me reconnect with the girl I used to be before adult responsibilities became so heavy. He makes me happy and I know that is a rare gift. I know that the friendship we have doesn’t come along every day and is something we are both willing to fight for.

And that will always have to be enough.

The Reckless Kind

A couple of weeks ago, I was having lunch with a friend and we were discussing families and childhoods and how close to my family I am. At a lull in the conversation, he asked, “Is that why you’re so reckless; so adventurous? Because you know you have your family to fall back on?”

It was a question that, at the time, I just answered yes to and moved on. I didn’t give it much thought. However, over the past couple of days that question has kept popping up. Am I reckless? I don’t think so. I take chances, absolutely. I explore and learn and try new things. I’m adventurous because there is much about the world that intrigues me and beckons me to be an explorer. But what, at my core, gives me the comfort and confidence to do so? This has been the question that has been rolling around in my brain and I think I have the answer(s):

I’m “reckless” because:

* I know that, no matter what, I have two amazing parents and a handful of wonderful friends who I can always fall back on.

* My faith is a deep well that I draw upon both in times of happiness and times of sadness. I know there is a God and He has a plan. Things always work out- maybe not how you want or expect, but they always work out the way they are supposed to.

* I have experienced too much in life to think that one mistake, one wrong choice, is going to ruin my world. Yes, I try and make smart decisions but I am not about to sacrifice what I really want for the sake of comfort and safety.

* I know that life is precious and so very short…you never know when someone you love will leave or when your own number is up. I’ve received two phone calls in my life that literally ripped away from me a person who meant the world. And because of that, I refuse to live life in the shadows; to live in total “safety.” There is no such thing.

And last but certainly not least…

* I have faith in myself and my ability to get things done. I’ve had exquisite successes in my life as well as awesome failures…and I’ve learned from each and every one of them. I know there is nothing I cannot do if I put my mind and heart into it.

All of these realizations come at a very important time- there is a change I need to make in my life. I’ve known it and have been putting it off for years. There was always something else that needed my time and attention: moving, school, work, friends, family. I’ve used every excuse in the book to avoid making the changes I need to in order to be more healthy and fit. There have been “spurts” of activity, of eating right, but I always fell back into the same old habits. And when I did, I used the excuse that it just wasn’t the right time.

In this moment I can honestly say I am pretty happy with the way my life is going. House? Car? Degree? Awesome job? Check. (Let’s just skip over the “happily paired with someone who makes my heart sing” piece for right now.) One thing that I am missing is being totally healthy and fit; being good to, and taking care of, myself. That is the change I need to make, the change I want to make. I want to be comfortable in my own skin again. I want to be healthy. I want to know that, when the zombie apocalypse comes, I can outrun those buggers.

I bleed gold

It’s been a looong, painful week. I spent Sunday night battling it out on the softball field to claim a league championship for our team, TBD. By the time this champ got home and cleaned up (you don’t want to know how much one girl can sweat playing back-to-back championship softball games in 90+ degree heat), it was well past midnight.

Monday night found me (and my “tutor”) fighting my way through a finance chapter for my last undergrad class, math. Two o’clock a.m. found me walking in my door and almost passing out on the stairs from exhaustion.

Tuesday was, um, interesting. I went to a conference for work and was vastly entertained and somewhat offended by my fellow conference-goers (PSA: please do not, at a professional conference, close every contribution to the discussion with “Praise the Lord” nor should one advertise how they are “woefully underemployed” in the field for which the conference is dedicated). However, the conference was also in my old stomping grounds and I drove through a neighborhood of houses that I have long dreamed about. I was relaxed and mellow on the way home only to check my Blackberry as I was pulling in to my driveway to find an email from my math professor notifying that my work was incomplete and, unless I completed an entire chapter of work by noon the next day, I would not pass. By not passing, I would not graduate. This, my friends, wasn’t an option. Plane tickets have been purchased, reservations made, announcements mailed.

So, I did what any rational woman would do…I had a massive – though short-lived – come apart, pulled up my big girl panties and headed in to campus to force my way through another math chapter. I reached my breaking point about 2 a.m. and decided, “it is what it is” and called it a night…or morning.

Fast forward to Wednesday afternoon. Grades were posted. Screams were heard. Tears were shed.

And honor cords were picked up.

It’s such a relief to know I’m done. I passed. I will have a degree conferred upon me in one week and I will walk across the stage at Wells Fargo arena in nine days and snatch that diploma cover (sans the diploma) right out of the my dean’s hands.

This was a hard-won victory, 18 years in the making. The endless hours of studying, the tears, the screams, the fights with professors and classmates…all worth it, in the end. This was my goal, my dream. Something I did for no one else but myself. It’s an accomplishment that no one can take away and one that, when I really think about it, makes me hold my head high knowing I fought for something so hard…

and won.

Curious

I’m a collector, I confess. Some of the things I horde collect have been life-long interests, such as my obsession with glass bottles (I’ll have to post sometime about the dream I had as a girl that led me to this obsession). Others are random objects I come across in shops or museums or my parent’s garage. Wherever the object might come from, it usually ends up relegated to the dusty corners of the Word Room because I simply don’t have the time or imagination or space to display it. Plus, as contradictory as this may seem, I prefer the majority of my living space to be “clean & clear”, a rather peculiar trait for a collector such as myself.

Last fall I took one of the coolest, most enjoyable classes I’ve had so far at ASU: Dimensions of Liberal Studies. It’s a required course for my degree but, much to my surprise, I found it completely compelling and invigorating. One of the many stimulating projects we had to complete was to a) pick a modern device/concept/ trend and add it to a virtual cabinet of curiosities, and b) create a concept for a museum of our choosing and what such a museum would focus on and showcase.

Yes, I was in heaven.

As I worked through the project, I became inspired by many different objects and aspects and time periods. And I realized that many of the objects I collect, if displayed, could tell someone a great deal about me. I began to daydream of creating a real “cabinet of curiosities” in my home. Then got busy and promptly forgot all about the idea.

Until today, when I was over at One Lucky Day and saw this:

I drooled. I enlarged the image. I began to get ideas. Ideas of how I could display all my favorite curiosities in a cabinet such as this.

And I revisited previous images of other cabinets I love. Like this one:

(Sadly I have no idea where I got this one.)

(This belongs to Sheryl Crow.)

So maybe, just maybe, I need to talk one of my amazingly skilled friends into creating me a cabinet for the Word Room that could showcase all my treasures. That would display all the odd things I love that just don’t seem to have a place in my home. A place to really illustrate my personality.

Sans skulls.

Just Around the Corner

In less than five months, I will have a bachelor’s degree in liberal studies from Arizona State University. Yes, I’ve taken quite a bit of teasing about my program of study, but at the time I enrolled it was the best fit for me.  Either way, I’m graduating magna cum laude…how many people can say that?

It’s a bit surreal, to be honest. And unnerving. For so long, the focus in my personal life has been my education. The reason for staying at my job (which I do love but isn’t what I want to be doing for the rest of my life) has been to get my degree. I always said that when I graduated I’d make decisions. I’d choose a path. I’d move. I’d start living the life I really wanted.

Now that graduation is just around the corner, it’s scary. What do I want to be when I grow up? Where do I want to live? What is my true passion in life and how can I parlay that into a lucrative career.

And now, five months from graduation, I’m not any closer to those answers than I was five years ago when I started this journey. Older? Yes. Wiser? Most definitely. But closer to the answer? Not even close.