A short list of laws that were blatantly broken in my youth.
- Tunnel running
- Water tank climbing/swimming
- Pool hopping
- Too many people in my vehicle
- Signage collecting
- -Dixie Rock
- -Every pool in St. George
- -Every golf course in St. George
- -The Gorge
- -Record: 11 people in my VW bug
- -Taco Bell/KFC/GAP….
- -Up all night (go to cheer practice at 6am, work for a few hours) Sleep all day.
I’m vulnerable and I loathe it. But I love it more.
Let me share a favorite love story with you:
I fell in love.
I felt loved back, he definitely loved me and he said so, often. He showed me by acting like it too. After a while I got to a point where I was wondering if we were officially a couple. (The dreaded exclusive). I finally forced the conversation with him about what direction our relationship was headed. He wasn’t having anything to do with a commitment! Even worse, he told me he was still in love with someone else!! I was mortified. It didn’t occur to me that he could feel like that about anyone else when he made me feel like the only person in the whole world. At the same time, I knew it. His words confirmed what my instincts knew already. But my heart ached. I was literally crushed. It was the first time that I voiced my love out loud in years. I felt like I had failed in earning love back.
A few days later, I woke up and realized that I did something incredibly hard for most of us to do. I took the risk to tell him everything I felt. I was so proud of myself. It didn’t matter anymore that he didn’t feel the exact same about me that I felt about him. I had told him and that is ALL I can do. I was still hurting but I respected myself for taking the leap forward in my life, for breaking through on a new skill. I was true to myself. I knew I couldn’t sit back and wait for others to make progress in my life anymore. I learned that not everyone needs to like me the same way I like them. Or love me the way I love them. And it’s okay for me to be the one who loves more. In the days that followed I developed true empathy. A little for him, those are hard confrontations to converse about, but mostly for me. I learned to be okay not being bulletproof. I was okay with failing. It’s going to happen over and over. Everyday.
Today, he is one of my dearest friends. It turns out that our love for each other was supposed to be just what it is now. And it’s wonderful. What was seen as devastating and heartbreaking became a lifelong friendship of the best kind.
I spent too many years of my life not telling people how I felt. When I was released from that stage of my life, I told everyone how much I loved them. Or sometimes how little I loved them. I have zero shame in telling now. It’s how I feel. I get to own that feeling. However, new experiences creep up on me, then shyness and fear set in, walls go up, and I have to learn to be vulnerable all over again with the new person. It’s hard work. I imagine when I have a relationship where I risk it ending by voicing my true feelings, it’ll always be difficult. While it devours me in the moment to say the word “love”, it always feels better on the other side no matter what the outcome.
Is there someone out there that needs to know that you love them? You should tell them. Right now. The world sometimes sees vulnerability as a weakness. I only see it as a strength. And while I fail at it all the time, it is exactly what makes me feel the most alive.
While in New York last summer I wondered into China town and found myself in the Magic Jewelry Shop to have my aura photographed. I had read a lot about these photographs with one blog in particular that made me curious. And who can resist the colors? The door was locked when I arrived and I had to wait to be buzzed in even though it was midday. The tiny shop had two display cases filled with, of course, jewelry.
Right away I asked for the picture and a lady had me sit and place my hands to the sides of me on small black metal boxes. She asked me to hold very still. The photo was taken and I followed her to a display case where she did the reading.
Much to my surprise I was overwhelmed with the accuracy of the reading. My aura colors that afternoon were bright yellows and oranges and reds. There was darkness over my tummy, cloudiness over my heart and my body was tinted green. The first thing she told me was that I needed to be mindful of eating breakfast every day and that not eating was the cause of the darkness in my photo. Immediately I was impressed that she would know that I skipped breakfast the past three days. She then told me that the orange meant I was a friendly, outgoing person. The yellow represented that I had a major life change about two years ago and that it all was for the best, that I was growing into the person I was much more comfortable with and that it was making me truly happy. The red was informing me that I needed to reach out to my creative side. And the green tint picked up on my need to be compassionate. Not surprising since I’m comfortable doing Hospice Care. And the heart thing, cloudy, well, no surprise there. I was given a few more details and it concluded with her telling me that the intensity moving from the bottom right to the left meant that the future was bright and I’d see amazing things in the next year.
She finished the reading while taping the photo to a card and suggesting a few pieces of jewelry to enhance the good and protect me from the bad. I politely declined and was invited to come back again at a different time of day or the following day because our aura changes as often as our feelings. While I didn’t get a chance during that trip, I plan to go again next time I get into the city again.
For those of you who didn’t know me when I was 12, let me paint the picture. I’ll need to start by doing a quick rewind to when I was 11. I had knocked out my front tooth when I slipped at a water park and the dentist tried shoving the tooth back into the empty gap in my gums to see if the root would reattach. By sixth grade the tooth in question turned gray and died despite having nine root canals. I had to have the tooth pulled. So in an attempt to avoid a bridge and keep real teeth my orthodontist decided to shift all my teeth forward with braces and then do bonding on the original teeth instead of having a bridge. By the time yearbook photos came around I was a 12-year-old without a front tooth and braces. Take a moment to envision this…
In addition to this lovely image, I had decided the evening before picture day to cut myself some bangs. My friend and I stood in front of her bathroom mirror, wet our hair and proceeded to give ourselves a trim. Did you know that if your hair is wet and you pull it down to your eyebrows, when it dries it’ll be shorter than what is considered to be okay for bangs, and then if you add curly hair into that mix-you’ve got a front fringe of hair that looks slightly like a mullet but not quite as cool?
To top it off, oh yes, there’s more, I decided to wear a yellow V-neck sweater with a black dickie for pictures. If you can not recall what a dickie is it’s because you were born too late to enjoy this fashion trend of the 90’s. It’s a fake turtleneck. Not to be confused with a mock, or shorter turtleneck, it’s fake in the way that it doesn’t have what would it require to have to be considered clothing. It doesn’t have sleeves or even sides to go under your arms. It’s simply a square piece of material with a hole cut in the middle to squeeze your fuzzy newly cut bangs through. It is only enough material to cover a bust. Go ahead and google it if you need to. It is an amusing thing to discover that they are still sold. Now I should reiterate here that I was wearing a black dickie under a yellow sweater. You could see this anomaly of a black shadow outlining my bust clearly.
This photo is classic. I love it. It’s so horrendous. I was the ugliest person in the history of ever that year. But I didn’t care.
Life in sixth grade was a continuous disaster. I cut my middle finger off when it was slammed in the gym door at school. They stitched it back on with fingers crossed (pun intended) that it wouldn’t die like my tooth. I had to learn to write left-handed and keep my middle finger, in a splint, raised above my heart for six weeks to help circulation. This gave me permission to set my elbow on my desk and flip the bird in class for 7 hours a day. I didn’t have any classes with one of my best friends. My mother was dating a creep and eventually married him. We had new step-siblings. We moved ….again. My brother stole my bike for drug money. My father was basically absent and that year he sent me the exact same thing for Christmas as he did for my birthday.
When you’re 12, these are defining moments in your life.
Life was crazy. But I loved it. And this is the part I can’t figure out: I was confident and had no reason to be. Isn’t that the coolest? A slightly mulleted, toothless, dickey wearing, bird flipping 12 year old with family issues was generally happy. I was lucky. I had self-esteem. I look back and wonder why it was possible. Massive dorkiness combined with the outside appearance of a mutant.
So why am I writing this post? To embarrass myself? That hardly needs to be done in a written statement. I happily oblige to do that at any point in time. The reason is because I have spent a lot of time in my adult years with middle school girls from having my own daughters and their friends to coaching different things. I see my own girls accept the pressures that they have to be perfect from social media. High self-esteem is something that has been taken away from the youth who now not only feel they have to compete with those they know in real life but with their social media icons. The standard of normal jumped into hyper mode and is now an edited perfection that is impossible to reach. The pressure is mounting that to be special you have to be someone you’re not. To be special, girls need to know that they need to be themselves. Average should be the new special.
I wish I could have that kind of inner love for myself now that I did when I was in middle school and stop letting other people’s opinions of me effect my self-confidence. I wish my kids had my 12 year old kind of self-esteem. I wish all middle school girls could love themselves like that. And especially all those darling girls I know from coaching.
So why did I manage to survive middle school without suffering? I said it before-I didn’t care. I didn’t care about what people thought of me. I did what I wanted, when I wanted. I cussed a lot, had spitting contests with the boys during lunch, played bloody-Mary, ate so many cherries I was sick for days. We went toilet papering 14 days in a row (but often went back the next day to help them clean it up as this was my strategy to see the boy as often as possible. (It worked)). We played night games late into the night and took over entire neighborhoods. I wore clothes that didn’t match and shoes with holes. I made weekly long-distance prank phone calls to Tucker T. Fuddrucker. I cut my own hair and flipped the bird for 6 solid weeks with a smile on my face. I told my friends if they had stuff in their teeth, if they smelled bad, or if their hair looked funny. I was blatant and direct with everybody. (Luckily, my parents had instilled in me some sense of respect for adults because I could mind my manners when needed). I could speak my mind or hold my tongue but the choice was mine. In my own little world-I ruled.
I wish everyone would stop caring so much about things that don’t matter and choose the things that are important to give their time and energy. I wish they would embrace their curly hair, love their crooked teeth, wear their favorite shoes until they fall off, join coding club if they want to even if their friends say it’s nerdy. I wish they’d stop caring what their friends think and instead do what they love because they love it. I wish they’d start thinking for themselves and outside of what social media tells them to think. There’s love and freedom in being yourself. It’s the only true way to develop your self-esteem.
Let’s break down my dating history into numbers.
In a period of 6 months I went through 8,000 profiles on 13 different dating sites. I had a list of 20 things that would prevent me from dating someone. A list of 4 things I needed to have. I kept a ratio of 80/20 to see if I’d be interested to go on a first date. *Prospective dates could have apparent flaws but only at a 20% ratio to 80% positive qualities. All of the profiles had to be within a 500 mile radius. Aged between (keep it together here folks) 29-45. Of the 8,000 profiles I narrowed it down to 23 men I’d like to date and became fairly aggressive to get them to ask me out. I had a second date with only 4 of them. 3 got a third date and extended dates beyond that. 1 of them moved. 1 was nice but not for me and 1 became my best friend. 6 months, 8,000 profiles, 23 dates. That’s a small amount of time and a large amount of dates. Well, in the next 12 months I added another 40 first dates to that number so in 18 months I went on a total of 63 first dates. I met some truly amazing people. Interesting backgrounds, careers, travels, points of view and ideas were shared. I walked out on 2 dates. Both within the first 5 minutes of sitting down. 1 date brought his girlfriend. Another 1 didn’t speak ANY English and had been communicating through google translate on the dating site. 1 talked about his ex for 2 hours. 1 left me to go help his ex with a flat tire. I dated hippies, rangers, baseball players, lawyers, executives, a race car driver, musician, NASA, surfer, pilots, surgeon, political scientist, brokers, brilliant guys, not-so-brilliant guys, a model, a producer, firefighters, fathers, republicans, democrats, and on and on and on. I had fun on nearly every date because there was always something to learn from each person.
Since those first 6 months, I slowed down but added another 6,000 or so to total looked at profiles somewhere in the range of 14,000. My list of 20 things I could never date was torn up and thrown away after I was reminded by friend how the law of attraction works. My 4 favorite things to find in a person are still written down though. But it all comes down to the 1 trait that matters most to me-Happiness.
I had read somewhere before I had my first first date that you can find your “soulmate” after approximately 800 people that you meet. One of them is an actual soulmate. A perfect partner. I knew I couldn’t possibly go on 800 dates in a my lifetime (although this number was to include men and women with whom you’d have met) let alone a decade. After around 75 first dates I got really comfortable dating a guy and eventually it became exclusive. Not on purpose but he was sweet, insanely handsome and he made me feel like a 1,000,000 bucks. But long-term potential just wasn’t there and it ended with us being friends.
I will clarify that I am not dating to find someone to marry. I can’t say for certain but I don’t see marriage in my future. I’ll be content with a partner and an equal.
This past week I had a few crucial decisions to make and instead of hanging around to face the problem, I ran away from them. This is a direct contradiction to my only 13 day old resolution to Face My Fears. But I don’t want to call it a failure because ….running away was exactly what I needed. My problems aren’t solved but my head is clearer and my stomach is untangled from the tight knots that were collecting there.
It was a last minute decision to go. The thought occurred to me on Thursday morning knowing it was an unlikely scenario though. Who leaves with no where to go? I decided late Thursday after having dinner with friends that I’d just do it. Friday came, work was done, it was getting dark outside and I hadn’t even packed. I didn’t have a place to stay or a true destination for the night but I had to get away. The gnawing in my gut from decision making was cutting through me. I knew I’d end up Saturday in the Pheonix area, it’s somewhere I’d been wanting to do for a while and cancelled going twice last year, I just didn’t have any plans to get there. Usually I’d have mapped out a route and decided all the plans ahead of time. Planning is one of my favorite things but this trip I found myself on the road at 7pm and nothing ahead of me. When I got tired of driving, I got on Priceline and booked the closest hotel. It wasn’t until Saturday afternoon when the rain was pouring and my hiking goals were squashed that my heart slowed down a bit and I just enjoyed the scenery.
I ended up Friday night in Kingman, Arizona. Saturday morning I woke up to rain so I had to cancel my Grand Canyon viewing and instead drove up highway 66 for awhile and then turned south on the Joshua Tree National Forest Highway to go to Scottsdale. When I got there in the mid-afternoon I explored Frank Lloyd Wright’s Taliesan West. The view was stunning from there and the rain was refreshing. Then I found a room nearby and also enjoyed a boba. That night a good friend noticed where I was from my Instagram post and told me she was in Pheonix too. She was running the Rock and Roll Marathon and the finish line was 6 miles from where I was staying. I got up in the morning and met her there. We enjoyed the finish line festivities, had lunch and I headed home feeling a 1000 times better than when I left.
My problems were not resolved. My life still has issues I’m currently trying to figure out. But I was reminded why the best place for me work out any troubles are outside. And what I discovered was the fear of the unknown was much more healing than I could’ve imagined.