Rectangle Box of Solitude

Yesterday, I decided to spend the day without a cell phone in my hand. The people in my life who know me will tell you that wasn’t a big feat, I made a choice 5 years ago to get rid of my cell phone and I haven’t had one since. Yesterday was different, I was on my way into NYC for the day on my own and I was given a cell phone on loan in case I got lost.

It didn’t take long for the convenience of the cell phone to end up in my hand. As I made a phone call, I thought, “Wow! I forgot how awesome it was to have this easy convenience at my fingertips.” The bus ride into NYC was an hour of being reacquainted with this rectangle box that ultimately made me forget there is a world around me. I wandered from Times Square to Union Square, I was lost. Normally without a cell phone, I stop someone in the street and ask for directions but with my trusty rectangle box of solitude also known as the cell phone, I just turn on the GPS and Presto! I’m in Union Square.

I walked through Union Square not paying much attention because now that I had a way to play Candy Crush and walk at the same time, why wouldn’t I? I found a bench and sat down so consumed by the little black rectangle of solitude, that I had no idea how many people were in the park with me. Then I felt something jump on my foot. I startled because lets face it, in NYC it could be any number of things on my foot and in my mind I pictured a giant rat. When I looked up from my cell phone to see what it was, I was met by the friendliest squirrel I ever saw. There the courageous little gaffer stood on my foot looking up at me begging for food, I swear his tail wagged. When I saw him I yelped than laughed, Mr. Squirrel sat on my foot for what felt like a minute or two before he pranced off.

As I looked around the park, a haze seemed to have lifted almost instantly. The park and the people on the benches suddenly came into focus. There was a street band playing not far from me and street merchants selling their own creations that I somehow missed when I walked into the park. I decided in that moment to put the cell phone back in my purse and keep it there.

Here are the things I would have missed if I kept my face in my cell phone… I met a gentleman who was down on his luck named Luigi. A man of Spanish decent in his mid 50’s, who came over to speak with me because he thought I might like some company. If I hadn’t looked up from my little rectangle box I might not have noticed the twinkle of wisdom in his big brown eyes or been able to see past the grime on his face that he wore as a badge of his life on the streets. I likely would have only heard half the story about how he ended up there in the first place. Turns out by the time he left, I realized I did need some company and I was glad for the talk. Would you have put your little black rectangle away long enough to give this man a chance for conversation?

I found the kindness of strangers. I wandered up to several people who I thought were intimidating and asked for directions. Every one of them looked up from their devices and kindly gave me directions to where I needed to go. Take that GPS!

A handsome man held a door open for me as he was walking through it. When he looked over his shoulder at me he paused, did a double take then smiled. I smiled back. His beautiful Italian complexion, only marred by a mole under his left eye, made me stop in my tracks. I said, “Thank you.” He stood in the middle of a busy doorway at the Port Authority to ask, “How YOU doin’?”, in that Joey from Friends way. I giggled, slightly blushed and said, “Good, Thank you.” His perfect smile widened even more and it was one of those smiles that reaches the persons eyes. He finally moved through the doorway and carried on his way but not before giving me one last smile. Would you have looked up from your little black rectangle long enough to have noticed him at all?

These are all simple things I might have missed. Kindness, strangers, smiles, the affirmation that I still might have it and even squirrels but I can’t help but wonder what people miss everyday because they would rather be “social” with their little rectangle of solitude than with the world around them. Would you have noticed? Would you have taken the time to make real human connections no matter how small? Could you put your little black rectangle of solitude down even for one day to take the time to notice?

I know what you’re thinking, you’re thinking you don’t get lost in your own little black rectangle of solitude and if you think that, ask yourself… when is the last time you noticed a strangers smile? When is the last time you stopped to listen to someone else’s story just for the sake of their company? When was the last time you saw a squirrels tail wag? When was the last time you asked a person for directions? You might be surprised at what the world outside the little black rectangle has to offer once you put it down.

It’s Not Your Mom’s Forty; Your Mom never had a box of Solitude.

You Won’t Starve

When I was twenty something and started my career search what I really wanted to do was be a writer. I remember having one of those old blue typewriters, you know the kind that went “DING!” That noise indicated you needed to pull on the lever before you could start typing again. I spent hours in my room typing away writing story after story. I was so proud of myself and sure I was going to be the next Stephen King.

 

After spending a couple weeks doing nothing but writing my mother decided it was time to sit me down and have -the- talk. No not -that- talk, but the talk about how I’d be a starving writer and I would never make it in this world as a writer because it wasn’t a steady job that would guarantee me income. I know she meant well but at the time, she was my mom and I believed her. My dream was set aside and nearly forgotten about and I found a secure job in nursing.

 

Fast forward twenty years, my career in nursing has been shattered due to a back injury. It took me over two years to recover from it fully. In the last two years I realized, job security doesn’t equal job passion.   Nursing was never my passion. I was good at it when I first started in that career, I was dedicated and devoted to my patients and their needs but over time my dedication started to dwindle and I was left just going to work for the pay-cheque. Going to work for a pay-cheque is as painful as going to the dentist. No one wants to go but if you don’t, you’re teeth start to fall out and halitosis becomes common place and no one wants that.

 

Following my passions are more important to me now than a pay-cheque because I learned some things along the way. I learned that I have enough belief in myself that I won’t be a starving writer. The confidence I have in myself and my ability to be a good writer far out weighs my lack of experience. Sure I don’t have a fancy degree in journalism, but what good does a fancy degree in anything do for someone who doesn’t believe in themselves?

 

Who was it that said a good writer is the sum of his experiences? Whoever said it gave me the confidence I was lacking. I have been blessed with a crap load of life experiences. Those life experiences give me a vast pool of creativity for my mind to draw from. I spent twenty years in Nursing. I lived in Canada for fifteen years. I have travelled to Italy, Switzerland, England, Scotland, Mexico and various states in the U.S. and Canada. I lived through abuse, divorce and reinventing myself while raising three kids on my own. What I lack in a fancy degree I sure do make up for with life.

 

I learned that our parents beliefs can echo in our heads for years. While I was nursing I wanted to change careers more than you know but I kept hearing my mother’s thick Italian accent in my head saying, “You’ll be a starving writer. Not everyone makes it.” I stopped hearing my mother’s voice when my voice got louder. I started to believe no matter what passion in life I chase after I will be successful.

 

The most important thing I have I learned is I don’t want to be the next Steven King, I want to be the next me.

 

It’s Not your Mom’s Forty; You won’t starve!

Beware the Red Flags

When I was twenty something, my mom use to tell me that I loved falling in love. I came home from a date, leaned back against the front door with the biggest smile on my face and sighed that happy sigh. You know which one I mean, the sigh that every girl in every teenage romance movie has sighed. My mom asked, “in love again?” I smiled that stupid smile and floated off to my room to daydream about… the new object of my affection.
Love to me, back then, was that magical feeling that no one else in the world existed. That feeling that there was no one else I’d rather be with. That feeling that my partner was absolutely perfect no matter how much my friends warned me he wasn’t. That feeling when every part of my body screamed for me to run but instead, I put blinders on, made excuses and ignored the red flags. Which red flags you ask?
Red Flag #22: When an ex went into a complete rage over an innocent flirtatious comment that came my way. I told myself that it was sweet and he was defending my honor. Truth was, he had anger issues.
Red Flag #28: When an ex wore a lot of cologne. I thought that he liked to smell nice and likely didn’t know how much to put on. Truth was, he doused himself in cologne because he had an affliction to showering.
Red Flag #32: The ex that mentioned he had mild allergies. No big deal right? Well, it might not have been except when he leaned down to give me a kiss, his nose drained mucus all over my face just barely missing my mouth. His nose didn’t stop draining like a sink for two months.
Red Flag #37: The ex that was so good at hacking into computers. He mentioned he could hack into anyone’s computer and get whatever information he needed or wanted. I thought, what a computer savvy guy that is probably exaggerating. Truth was, he was not exaggerating. Of course, I didn’t realize it until he hacked into my computer to keep constant tabs on me.
Red Flag #37 ½: The ex that only invited me to places that were out of town, then asked me to pay my own way and sometimes his because he “was short on cash.” I thought, umm… okay this guy believes in women’s rights and he likes to explore new places. Truth was, he failed to mention that he was in debt because he was putting the ex-wife through grad school and that the ex-wife was actually still the wife.
Yes, I should have noticed the red flags and yes, I should have listened to my instincts. I didn’t know what love truly was back then. I realize now, love is still that whirlwind feeling and it doesn’t have to fade but what does happen is what life brings. Sometimes, life brings happy times and sometimes it brings challenges. Sometimes life brings devastation. Real love sees you through the hard time. Real love holds your hand when you need it most. Real love finds a way to make it through even when you don’t want to be near that person. Real love is a commitment and a choice to get through all the hard times and celebrate in the good times. Real love is finding the courage to stay with your partner because you know deep down in your soul that on the other side of hardship is joy.
It’s Not your Mom’s Forty; Beware the Red Flags!

Church doesn’t guarantee a spot in Heaven

 

 

When I was twenty something, I was told over and over how going to church would secure my place in heaven. I believed it, I mean why would people who spent their lifetime going to church mislead me? I went to church on Sundays and especially holidays. I watched as some of my fellow congregation would fall into the same old cliques and shun newcomers. I watched as some people in the congregation, smiled in the face of others only to hear them gossip about those same people around the water cooler Monday morning. I watched as some of those very same people sang and raised their hands in praise only to use those hands to flip off a homeless man just because he was homeless.

 

I learned very quickly church wasn’t exactly a place I wanted to be but I went to church because I was told by the older generation, “If you don’t go to church you’ll burn in the fiery pits of hell!” I sure didn’t want to burn in any fiery pits especially those from a place called hell. So I did as I was told and went to church.

 

 

Fast forward twenty years, I no longer go to church. Instead, I surround myself with like minded non-judgemental people who want peace and goodness in their lives. People that offer a kindness and do it from the heart with no unspoken gain or desire. The kindness they offer isn’t just a means to “look righteous or good” to the world but an actual gesture of goodness.

 

I no longer tithe ten percent to the church. Instead, whenever I have the means I will randomly give a stranger a twenty or more if I can manage it. There’s this homeless man who always plays his violin badly outside the bank in my town. I think it’s amazing he is out there trying to earn money in the only way he can. I share what I have with people not a building.

 

I no longer feel guilty for working on Sunday. I was in Nursing for years and years and I had to work every Sunday, I felt guilty because I was told to remember my sabbath. I don’t even really know what a sabbath is. I just know I don’t need a specific day of the week to stop what I’m doing and thank God for all the positives in it.

 

I don’t pray right before I go to sleep at night nor do I get on my knees at some alter to do the traditional form of praying. Instead, I just talk to God. I know.. I know some of your are gasping because I talk and don’t pray but guess what people.. talking or praying…. it’s all the same thing. I talk to him whenever I feel like it or need to about anything and everything. No “dear god” or “heavenly father” at the start of my conversation. I figure he’ll know I’m talking to him and he’ll tune in.

 

My life is full of peace and I can find the good in the worst situations, some days it’s harder but I will usually wake up the next morning and find it. I try very hard not to be judgemental, of course, I slip but when I catch myself I stop in my tracks. No one is perfect especially me; I live as good a life as I can and I believe that’s what will get me to heaven, even if my escalator to those pearly gates might be a longer trip than the next guy, I’ll still get there.

 

“Going to church doesn’t make you anymore a Christian then going to the garage makes you a car.”

 

It’s Not Your Mom’s Forty; Church doesn’t guarantee a spot in heaven.

Sex at Forty is Better

When you’re twenty something your first sexual encounter with that special person is amazing. Fireworks go off and nothing else in the world exists. You get taken away to a special world of erogenous wonder for about…. five to eight minutes.

 

Sex at forty is a whole new experience. When men turn 35, something happens to them in the bedroom, they stop being selfish. Somewhere along the way they realize that pleasing their partner is just as pleasing as them making their final curtain call.

They realize that sex is about pleasing each other and there’s nothing hotter than knowing your partner is pleased.

 

I realize now that a relationship isn’t defined by that first sexual encounter with your significant other, no, so many things define it. Though sex is an important component, it’s also a learning experience for the both of you and is sooo much fun learning.

 

There I was with my fella, everything was wonderful. It was our first time in the bedroom and I thought, “Wow! Does it get any better than this?” Then it happened… my hip popped out of socket. I went from bliss to ow.. ow.. ow.. ow.. Holy crap this really hurts!! Do I tell him to stop? Do I keep going? Of course, I didn’t say anything. I wasn’t going to admit it. I wasn’t going to admit that my 40-year-old body just couldn’t do that anymore. Then he stopped suddenly, looked down at me and said the most wonderful thing he ever could have said in that moment, he said, “My back just went out.” I looked up at him in utter relief and replied “Thank God! My hip went out about three minutes ago!” We laughed and laughed.

 

That experience wasn’t devastating to our relationship, in fact, we still laugh about it. Had it happened in my twenties I would have took it as some sign that we shouldn’t be together since it wasn’t magical. Since that experience, my fiancé and I have spent hours and hours talking about our likes, dislikes, desires, wants and fantasies. Things in the bedroom couldn’t be more amazing.

 

Take the time talk to your partner about sex, if you can communicate about the most intimate act you do together, you can talk about anything.

 

It’s not your Mom’s forty; you can talk about sex now!

It’s Not Your Mom’s Forty.

You know that girl you see walking down the street and on the outside she looks like she has it all together? Weeeeell, that’s not me. I had everything all together. I had the husband and the kids and the house and the car. I didn’t have to worry about living paycheque to paycheque. Then something happened, life happened. Suddenly, I didn’t have the husband anymore, I had the kids half the time, the house got sold and all assets divided and my car got stolen.

Life decided it was time to shake things up and boy did it. I was a stay at home mom for five years and suddenly I had to go get a job. “How the hell do I do that?” was my first thought. After not working for five years, getting a job is foreign. In spite of myself, I did manage to get a job that I loved. I realized losing the husband turned out to be the best thing for me and having my kids half the time sucks harshly but on the bright side, I figured out that I actually have time to myself now. I got a car that I adore. I call her Red. She’s a modest little thing that gets me from point A to point B but she’s my reminder of independence. Red’s the first car I got without my parents or ex-husbands help. I figured life out!

Sounds like I have it figured out right? Weeeeeell, I did up until two years ago when I hurt my back and it put me out of work for two years. My back has finally mended but now I have to start a new career. I am choosing to follow my passion, which is photography, and I took a course in NYC to learn the basics. Now I’m trying to forge ahead and make a career out of my passion with no idea how!

Not to mention I turned 40 this past July. Holy crap, how do 40 years go by without my noticing it? When I look in the mirror I still see a 29 year old with a few… no, a couple… no, one wrinkle. I don’t know what a 40 year old is supposed to feel like but I don’t feel old. I’m still spontaneous, I still have a zest for life, I still want to travel and see new things and I’m still the first one to sit down and watch a Disney animated movie.

Until I turned 40 I thought being 40 made you old but the truth is, being 40 has made me realize that being 40 makes you smarter and I’m not just saying that because I’m 40!