2012 Reflections and Recap

Yeah, I’m a couple weeks behind just about every blogger on the planet in posting my reflections on 2012. Oh well. There are lots of reasons I could give, but they’d all be excuses. (Something I’ve gotten pretty dang good at spotting over the past year.) Truth is, I wasn’t all that jazzed about posting on my blog the last four-ish months of 2012. Why? I haven’t the foggiest. Possibilities include my dwindling enjoyment from writing “review” type posts; less and less time to write “reviews” because my fiction writing, reading, bookkeeping business, and time with my daughter (not necessarily in that order) took up most days last year especially the last quarter; or, brainstorming what I really want to accomplish with my blogs (yes, plural) pretty much stunted my motivation to post on Flying Monkeys. Could be any of those, could be something totally different.

So, one of my goals for 2013: Nail down the true purpose for my blogs.

My winter vacation, the last week of December and the first week of January, afforded me plenty of time to reflect and analyze the events in my life during 2012. For the most part, possibly for the first time ever, I’m completely satisfied with what I accomplished. Did I complete every goal on my list? Heck no, not even close. But what I did accomplish is worthy of a pat on the back. Plus, I realized all too often when we look back at the previous year, we tend to focus on what we did NOT do instead of all that we DID. It’s self-defeating and more than a little depressing to start the year off with an already “disappointed in myself” attitude, don’t you think? My biggest advice for all the goal-setters out there: make of list of everything you actually DID and revel in that feeling for a couple days before you start setting new goals for 2013 and carrying over old goals from 2012. That feeling will fire you up and inspire you to achieve more than when you focus on the misses.

Here’s a small sample of what I achieved in 2012:

  • Read 81 books; I’d only challenged myself to read 75. (My daughter rocked it, though, with 158!)
  • Enrolled my daughter in the social activities she requested, which required significant changes to my daily schedule, mostly business-related.
  • Completed all overdue major home repairs: four in total.
  • Completed all overdue car repairs: three in total.
  • Wrote daily, even if it was only 15 minutes in my journal.
  • Eliminated biggest time sucks and stuck to my guns.
  • Redesigned Flying Monkeys; although, I was close to pulling out my hair on a couple occasions.
  • Completed my first “Inspiration Board.”
  • Ended the business relationship with my biggest client, and felt free for the first time in 8 years.
  • Began transitioning my virtual assistance business into only bookkeeping, and signed THREE new clients as a result.
  • And the list goes on…

Remember, there’s absolutely no shame in feeling good about what you accomplished. I’m a firm believer we achieve more when we change our perspectives and embrace the positive. Am I saying we don’t need to look at those unmet goals? Certainly not; there’s much to learn from missed goals: our core values, for instance. We just don’t need to obsess or beat ourselves up in the process of reflection.

Here are five of my goals for 2013:

  1. An art program or apprenticeship for my daughter. The kid is wicked talented (here’s one of her drawings – one of my faves) and I will continue nurturing her passion.
  2. Submit my completed stories to contests and open markets.
  3. Read 85 books.
  4. Sell my house.
  5. Sign three new clients.

This list is nowhere close to everything I want to accomplish in 2013, only a random sample. Most people’s eyes would probably glaze over reading my full list. 🙂

“Aim for the moon. Even if you miss, you can still reach out and grab a star.”

I’d love to hear about your biggest goals for 2013 so please feel free to leave a comment.

Wishing you a healthy, happy and productive 2013!

Change Is Good But Not Always Fast

Photo Common Jay Butterfly on Yellow ChrysanthemumA quick peek at the dates on my posts shows I’ve been somewhat absent recently. The fact is I needed time to think about, wonder about and evaluate recent choices and paths. Those sessions revealed I wasn’t living fully my core passions and helped clarify what those passions TRULY are: (1) teaching (2) writing (3) reading for fun (4) reading to learn and (5) living simply. So I ordered several books on the areas where I would like to grow and improve, starting with focus.

After reading and working through The Millionaire Messenger by Brendon Burchard a lightbulb (or three!) went off. Suddenly I was knee-deep in an idea that will change my life. Continue reading Change Is Good But Not Always Fast

Weekend in Review: Sunshine and Motivation

Photo Sun Through Trees With SnowIt’s no secret, when the sun is out, my motivation is limitless. But if it’s dreary and overcast, well, let’s just say it takes all my natural willpower to get stuff done. Does that make me a solar-powered mom? Possibly.

So I took advantage of the solar-powered motivation to:

  • catch up on three baskets of laundry;
  • finish the first draft of a short story;
  • outline 15 blog posts;
  • troubleshoot the missed schedule problem on my blog – none of the solutions have worked…yet;
  • begin the inventory of my personal library that I’ve wanted to do for two years;
  • begin a painting project with my daughter – I’m no painter but it’s still fun;
  • discuss classic literature with my daughter and order our first set of “complete book with study guide” for such gems as Frankenstein and Great Expectations. She also wants to read Shakespeare and she selected Hamlet and A Midsummer Night’s Dream to get started there. Oh, and she begged for H.G. Wells and Jules Verne so, of course, I caved and ordered a box set and Twenty Thousand Leagues Under the Sea, respectively.

Continue reading Weekend in Review: Sunshine and Motivation

Happy Christmas! And Remember to Count Your Blessings

Frank Capra's It's a Wonderful Life (1946) photoIt really feels like Christmas around here: Everything is still covered in snow, the air smells of fireplaces ablaze at my neighbors’ houses down the road, and my daughter squeals unexpectedly every now and then – purely from being overwhelmed with excitement. We’re off to my mother’s for a day filled with cooking, baking, eating and unwrapping gifts from loved ones. What a life! And I made sure to thank the universe for all of these blessings when I awoke this morning because happiness is impossible without gratitude and appreciation.

While there are many possibilities and opportunities to come in 2011, don’t forget to slow down and be present right now. This day has so much to offer as long as you remember to stay in the now and count your blessings.

So to all my family and friends, have a very happy celebration today! Stay warm, stay safe and enjoy those priceless moments with your loved ones, for they are far too short.

Photo credit: Liberty Films
[IT’S A WONDERFUL LIFE is my all-time favorite movie, ever!]

Are You Friends with the Green-Eyed Monster?

Jealousy Green eyes with green jewelsOr, are you the Green-Eyed Monster’s nemesis?

Recent events have forced me to contemplate a major source of conflict in relationships: jealousy. It’s crazy the extent to which some people will go to feel in control of the person they love. From my experience, the tighter hold you feel you need on your partner, the less hold you have on the relationship.

And I’ve also learned that jealousy stems from one person’s insecurities, fears, doubts, baggage, etc. and very often has nothing to do with their partner. Yes, partners can be the trigger, but you always have a choice in how you react.

“The more incomplete we feel, the more obsessed we become with owning someone on whom we’ve projected all our missing qualities, hence the more jealous we become.” – Gloria Steinem

Now, don’t get me wrong, I was a jealous chick in my late teens, early twenties. But I outgrew that useless emotion and refuse to shake hands with the fiendish brute ever again. Why?
Click to keep reading

Man Repellent of the Feline Persuasion

Whilst I cleaned the litter boxes and endured the scent of ammonia and feces – part of a daily ritual my cats gather to watch – I contemplated today’s post and decided it was time to pay homage to the feline members of my family. Although I love them like any other family member, the men who come into (and sometimes quickly exit) my life seem to have some deep-rooted aversion to cats.

It boggles the mind. Of course, I’m surprised that men are repelled by my “single mom” status. My daughter and I are cool chicks; they’d be lucky to have us. But honestly, how can people not like cats? They’re furry. They’re fairly independent. They know when to snuggle and when to leave you the eff alone. And they’re wicked hilarious. Not liking cats is ridiculous. There just isn’t a good explanation. Or if there is, I’ve yet to hear it.
…Click to keep reading

A Conversation With My Kid About Religion

Don’t ask me how this conversation came up. Some days my daughter and I hop from one topic to the next as quickly as Ohio’s weather changes. And for everyone not familiar with Ohio weather, our motto is, “If you don’t like the weather, just wait a minute.”

One of the jobs as my daughter’s mother and teacher is to do my best to answer all her questions.

Sometimes that’s easy: “Mom, who was the 24th president again?”

And sometimes it’s not so easy: “Mom, why don’t people see how important it is to help each other?”

But I always answer honestly with as much factual information as possible in addition to my personal thoughts.

By the way, she’s currently 10 1/2 years old.

During a conversation on Wednesday of this week, we somehow stumbled on religion, which is not one of my favorite subjects and my daughter knows it. She believes in God, while I take more of a…scientific approach. However, she knows I respect her beliefs and I encourage her to pursue what she feels is right for her life.

“Mom, why can’t a person believe whatever they want to believe?” …continue reading

I Need Help, the Mental Kind

Okay, this is going to be one of the most personal situations I’ve ever shared on my blog. But I’m seriously unable to come to my own conclusion and I need feedback from both men and women. I’ve been reading articles and forums and blogs on the subject in an effort to find something close to personal truth. Alas, here I am, hoping someone out there will be able to explain things in a way I can accept and apply to my life so I can move past this issue.

First, a little background. Dimples (the nickname I gave my boyfriend for blogging purposes) hasn’t had too many serious relationships. Ours is only his second. He’s 34 years old, never married, no children. He told me on our third date he’s never been in love, and he’s never told a woman he loves her, other than his mum and dog. So in his defense, I knew from the beginning he had some sort of issue with relationships and love. But who doesn’t, right? He once told me he didn’t think love was necessary for a successful marriage. He said respect was more important.

We’ve dated for a year. We did have a three week “break” in there when we agreed to split because things felt off between us. I initiated the break up. It was mainly because…well, that’s not really relevant right now. After three weeks, we talked and we decided to give it another try. My point is, we’ve been dating for nearly a year. His actions, for the most part, probably about 75% of the time, show me he cares a lot about me.

For instance, my daughter and I stay over at his house a few nights a week and he stays with us once a week. I’ve met his family and he’s met mine (a little more than just met them, eh, Dimples? *winks*). He’s dropped “when we live together…” during our conversations. He’s also told me before that he sees no reason why we’d break up. He left work to take me to the hospital when I was sick in March (Who knew? Vertigo isn’t just a movie.) and he stayed with me 90% of the time I was in there. When we’re laying on the couch watching a movie, he’ll notice my bare feet and cover them up with his blanket. He offers to help me with everything, even to the point of driving me crazy, but I love that about him, and I appreciate it every time he helps me with something despite my protests not to.

Neither of us is really romantic or anything. I appreciate romance but I don’t require it in a relationship. I think romance is just an easy way to show someone how much they mean to you. When you’re the recipient of romantic gestures, it feels fabulous! But we’ve never been like that with each other. Unless you count the numerous times he’s surprised me with Susie Qs? Simple pleasures 🙂 I know I restrain my romantic side with him simply because I know he’s not a romantic person. I’m stalling. What was I saying? Oh yeah, I see signs that he does in fact care about me and my daughter. They’re not usually huge, flashing signs, but they are there. Or am I assigning meaning where there isn’t any?

Right. Moving along then to the reason I’m writing today–I told Dimples I loved him on Saturday for the first time. Should I include the date? Or would that girlify me too much? HA!

We’d had a fabulous weekend together. Lots of fun activities, lots of laughter, and lots of mind-blowing . . . conversation. Double HA! It was about 3:00 AM, he gave me a good night kiss, and I perpetuated a private joke we had going that night. He laughed. I felt very content and in the moment so I went with my heart and said, “Hey, just for the record, I love you.” Where the eff my head was at, I have no idea, but it’s lucky I can’t fire its ass for letting my heart fly solo at that particular moment. I thought I’d vomit as soon as the last word was out of my mouth, but luckily, I didn’t.

He responded with “Awww!” and kissed me. We snuggled together.

Everything was cool for about 90 seconds then, breaking the heaviest silence I’d ever felt,  he dropped a bomb. “I feel like such an ass.”

“Why?” I asked even though I knew exactly where he was going.

“Because I can’t say it back.”

Ouch! Yep, my worst fear realized. We talked a little more. He tried to explain his position, “It’s not that I don’t love you…I just want to be really sure before I say it…I care a lot about you,” and so on. Then he fell asleep. I couldn’t sleep. [CORRECTION on 9/17/09 at 12:57 AM: Dimples informed me that he was, in fact, not asleep, but awake and unable to sleep just like me. In my loyalty to accuracy, I felt compelled to add this tidbit of information.]

When he woke up the next day, there was something different between us. We both sensed it. I felt so . . . alone and very stupid. I tend to over-think things and all I kept asking myself was, “How can he not know if he loves me or not? If he’s unsure how he feels about me, then there’s really no stability in our relationship, right?” He had plans to go to a soccer game that day, which he kept. I was a wreck all day long. I cried for the majority of it, wondering if I’d wasted my time (and heart) on someone who didn’t love me. By the end of Sunday night, I couldn’t take it anymore. I had to have some answers. I called him and I requested he come over so we could talk.

The talk went well. I was able to hold back most of my tears. I don’t know if our talk was productive but I felt like we were both hearing the other person’s position and caring what the other person had to say. I love that he’s a calm listener. I asked him direct questions to which he responded with direct answers. I asked him:

  • If he was serious about me
  • If he wanted to live together someday in the near future
  • If he had strong feelings for me

All of which he answered “yes” and his face looked so genuine and sincere. His body language told me he wasn’t lying. He apologized over and over for hurting me. He said he wished he could say it back. I believed him and I told him so. There was one thing he said though that is still confusing me. When I asked him if he wants to be with me or break up, he replied, “I don’t want to hurt you. I want to be with you but I don’t want you to be hurting all the time.” Does that mean he never expects to be able to tell me he loves me?

I told him I forgave him for the hurt. I told him I would do my best to look forward and not concentrate on the fact that he can’t tell me he loves me. Gawd, writing that feels like someone’s pinching my heart and at the same time covering my mouth so I can’t breathe. He agreed to give me the reassurance I need in other ways since the whole “I love you” thing is off the table. But I haven’t seen him since Monday morning. I haven’t talked to him since then either. We’ve only texted and nothing from him that gives me the impression he misses me or wants to see me. I had to ask him yesterday if he wanted to get together before Friday. He said he was thinking Thursday but he didn’t give me anything concrete.

It feels like I’m getting the cold shoulder and I don’t know if he’s distancing himself or what. Yep, I might drown in all this reassurance. Sorry. I get sarcastic when I’m hurt. It’s a flaw, one of many. Perhaps I’m just over-thinking again since the pain is so near the surface. *sighs*

How do I get past this?

Is it okay that he cannot tell me he loves me?

Do I have to hear the words “I love you” to know someone loves me? Or do I only have to pay attention to their actions in order to determine their true feelings and intentions?

Which of the following is true?

If a guy is doing one thing and saying another, always believe what he’s doing.

OR

If a guy says he can’t tell you he loves you, it’s because he doesn’t love you.

I guess if I knew he loved me, and he just couldn’t vocalize it, then I would feel pretty damn secure in our relationship. But if he absolutely does not love me, I want to freakin’ know. I’m afraid he won’t tell me the truth about his feelings until he’s ready to break up with me. You know, have his cake and eat it too type of situation.

Welp, I did it. I wrote it all out for the world (and Dimples) to read. Thank you to anyone who actually read my entire post. And an extra special “thank you” to anyone who not only read it but didn’t point and laugh. I hope I didn’t sound irrational or unreasonable. I just needed to vent. I have no idea what to do.

The fact is I do love him.

So what would you do?

Misery Loves Company – I Won’t Be Yours

Misery loves company, I will not be yours.
You built your prison and filled it with stories instead of memories.
You wag that judgmental finger in my face.
It’s sad, watching you, clinging to your blame.
I am responsible for me, not you.
Take off the victim glasses.
See the world through the clear eyes of choice.
You don’t have to tear down my home to escape your prison.
Just let go. Stop holding onto all of those stories.
Start making memories. Grow up. Live!

A poet, I am not. I wrote this today whilst trying not to react to the desperate jabs of my ex-boyfriend’s broken heart. I’m beginning to think he will never learn how to truly let go of something and move on. He holds onto his hurts like a collection of knick knacks–he arranges them all neatly on shelves, he can recall when and how he acquired each one, he dusts them off so they stay clean and like new, and each one defines who he is. It’s really one of the saddest things I’ve ever witnessed.

He has so much potential, but he allows all of his baggage to define and direct his life rather than taking active control of where his path leads. He’s constantly looking at what’s happened (the past) or what he’s lost. How depressing is that? I prefer to look at what could happen (the future) and what I still have, and this strategy has gotten me through painful experiences by shifting the focus away from the negative and toward all the positives in my life.

He says this latest jab was an effort to show me what is wrong with me so I can decide whether I want to change or fix those things. Yeah, I’m going to take advice from someone who couldn’t see themselves if they were standing in front of a mirror. I will not be torn apart by the observations of someone who, for the majority of his 29 years, only experienced life through books and film. Yes, reading Sex for Dummies will teach you about dating, relationships and sex. But knowledge isn’t the same thing as experience.

He wrote that he had some very serious things to tell me but he couldn’t take it if I replied. He went on to write that a response to his e-mails wasn’t even necessary. Yep, that’s someone in touch with the dynamics of a relationship. Once you’ve experienced a wide range of what life has to offer, then I’ll listen to your observations on how I can improve as a person. Until you’re operating as an active person in society, I’m deaf to your words.

I see me. All of me. I know what I love about myself and I know what I detest. I will never change for anyone but me. No one will ever make me happy. No one will ever ruin my life. I think it actually disappointed him that I could live happily without him in my life. He never understood, and probably never will, that everyone should be able to live happily ever after by themselves. If you can’t, well, I’ve learned there’s something deep inside you that won’t ever allow you to be happy with someone else or love and be loved in the way you deserve. I’ve done a lot of personal growth throughout my 31 years. And I plan to continue that growth, hopefully on a daily basis.

I do not hate him. I do not feel much for him at all after the e-mails he sent this week. Not because of what he said, but for the fact that he refused to respect the boundaries we put in place when our relationship ended. He’s probably still checking my MySpace account and this blog on a daily basis. I asked him repeatedly not to write, yet he continued. All that shows me is he has a total lack of respect for boundaries and he is totally ignorant in how to handle his emotions when he’s hurt–neither of which is appealing or reassuring.

I hope he’ll find himself sooner than later, and I hope he achieves all of the potential I see in him. But I will not play along with the story he’s writing for himself on the topic of our relationship. Negativity is contagious and I’m putting him in quarantine. Misery loves company too much to let someone who’s happy, just be.

That’s why he and I, as lovers and as friends, are finished. I’ve known him for about five years so writing those words is a little sad. However, I know this is the right decision for both of us. If he could just see and accept that this could be one of the best things for him…