Sunday, June 28, 2015

Man-haters vs. Man-sitters

I am not a man-hater. I was raised by a wonderful and loving dad with whom I still have a fabulous relationship. I love men. That being said, I also am a recently retired man-sitter. In a loving relationship, each partner should be treated with love, respect, kindness, and each partner should serve one another in little and on occasion, big ways. That is how a healthy relationship should work. Sometimes we all need understanding and love, and perhaps even a little pampering. I may have exceeded the "little" pampering in my former relationship. I served completely, heart and soul, and I did that for 13 years. When my twins arrived I asked for just one year where I could focus on my twin babies. There wasn't much else I could do aside from an occasional Facebook post of my babies as they slept in my arms. Nursing twins is not exactly a breeze. I knew it would require a lot of time and energy. I thought that the investment I had made would pay off, but it didn't turn out quite like I expected. In a nutshell, I learned three things:

1. Those instinctual promptings I'd had over the years were real, not imagined.
2. You can love, forgive, and do everything within your power, but you can't pray away another person's agency.
3. My fairy tale marriage was a fairy tale.

Today in church we discussed the responsibility we have to the world when we get married. I agree with this statement. Second only to the impact on my children, I considered very seriously the weight of impact on friends, loved ones, youth we had been leaders to, single friends who told me frequently that they wanted a marriage just like mine. I knew it would devastate others because it devastated me. I knew they would want to know why or how this could happen because those were the questions I asked myself. I knew they would think it was just a hiccup because I wanted to believe that. I knew they hoped we would get back together because I did. I wanted to take all of the blame. I wanted to fix me so that I could have my marriage back. I didn't want to be divorced. I just wanted to fix things and move on.

When I did, after countless prayers (and answers that led me to understand that this problem was a. not my fault, and b. not going to change), I received the witness that I needed from God to let me know that I could release him to God and move on. I needed a few witnesses of that confirmation, because I take eternal marriage so seriously, but again, you can't pray away someone's agency, and I needed to look my children in the eyes someday and say that this was a decision that was the right decision. I needed to face myself after all of the pain and tears. I would have to look myself in the eye and know I had done the right thing.

Does that mean I get offended when correct principles are taught about marriage? No. I didn't get offended during church lessons about children when I was childless, so why would I get offended about teaching the importance of eternal families and how we should support them? Does my single motherhood mean those principles should be avoided? Well that's just silly talk.

Back to man-sitting, I am grateful for my recent challenges, but they have certainly influenced my dating. I haven't actually created a shopping list for a husband anywhere, but after dating for 6 months and reflecting back on my wasband, here are a few things I have learned about myself: I don't want a project-husband. I am not looking for someone I have to second-guess, but someone who is honest to a fault. I am not looking for someone I have to change. I am looking for someone I can accept as-is. I don't want them to try to change for me. I want to look at the whole package and say, yep. I can take it all. I don't want a husband I have to man-sit. I am done having someone's success in a career and church ride heavily on me. I need a self-sustaining individual. I can be supportive, a listening board, a cheerleader, but if he has a big project for work, I am not the one who is going to stay up late to finish it for him. He's going to have to wear his big-boy pants and act like a grown-up. I have three very small babies, a house to maintain, and I need someone who can hold his own and be an adult, not another child. Some men just want a woman because she is going to take care of them. I don't need someone else to clean up after, babysit, do laundry for... I'm pretty sure that statement just eliminated me from being eligible altogether. It doesn't mean I won't when time allows, but I don't think it's unreasonable to expect a man to clean up after himself. Dude, your mom doesn't live here (I hope).

Speaking of family, I want someone who isn't antisocial. I love hanging out with my friends and family and am not interested in isolation. I have a lot on my plate with maintaining my home and little ones, but I get out at the very least a couple of times a week. I talk to friends, I hang out with others. I need someone who can communicate verbally as well as in writing. I can't stand it when people mix up their cases. I don't think it's unreasonable to expect that someone whose mother language is English should be able to communicate in that language. I need someone who isn't trying to re-write the gospel to fit his lifestyle. I don't need someone who sees the world exactly like me, because that's just boring, but I do need someone who is intellectually and mentally stimulating. Physical chemistry is, well, a given, but you can't go diving in shallow waters, if you know what I mean. I think I also need someone easy-going, so that they can temper me when I am up-tight.

I need someone who is willing to adventure, risk, try new things, explore the world and learn new things! I have a wanderlust that brings out some lovely aspects of my personality. I hope I can find someone who is willing to zipline over the jungle, hike Kilimanjaro, try new foods, travel the world, get off of the beaten path and live life to the fullest.

So you take all of this and I say, hmmm. Maybe I just need to stay single for a while. I am not in a rush to get into another relationship, but I am learning a few things along the way about me. Someone without these qualities is undoubtedly a spectacular person, just not a great fit for me.

Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sweet Motherhood

The events of the past four years have had me on the highest of highs and the lowest of lows. Four years ago I was weeks away from putting on the biggest event I had ever been involved in, losing sleep, hoping it would all come together in a spectacular way. Magically it did! Everyone in the industry suddenly wanted... ME. That felt good, but I didn't want them. I wanted something different. I wanted a big belly full of baby and an excuse to put on extra weight. I wanted late nights and poopy diapers and crying and warm little bodies in my arms. I wanted snotty noses wiped on my shirt and food splashed on the walls and floor. I wanted toys scattered across the floor and tiny socks hiding between the couch cushions. I wanted motherhood. And magically (with the help of a symphony of injections and doctors), they came. Two perfect little angels. 

And then he came, in the midst of the utter turmoil, he came, and rained sunshine and beauty on the thunderous, dark days; my darling, bright boy come to complete my trio from heaven. Sweet motherhood, and then single motherhood, and I can't believe I am so happy here. 

Sunday, June 15, 2014

Forgiveness

One of the things that I feel strongly about is allowing people to change when they are ready to change. We should not hold them to some past decision or behavior. While past behavior can be a strong predictor of future behavior, it should not be a prison from progress. One should not be verbally bruised daily or reminded of past wrongs either. That being said, I have journeyed lately into the recesses of my mind to resolve my understanding of this moral pillar in my belief system. Somehow I started to believe that forgiveness meant continuing to allow someone to continue to injure me. 

Forgiveness is freeing oneself from reliving past injury. The body does not differentiate between recalling details from the past and experiencing it firsthand, so by recalling insult or injury and not forgiving, the victim becomes a predator to him or herself, pouring trauma into the mind and body with every recollection. This is where freedom of self enters in. By releasing the offending party in thought, the victim is freed to heal. That doesn't mean that the offending party need be released from accountability, or reparation. It doesn't mean accepting the offenses as acceptable. It does not mean that the offending party should be warmly welcomed back in to continue to do harm. Forgiveness isn't necessarily embracing that individual again. It can be, but forgiveness can also mean releasing the offender from a former position of friendship to create a safe distance to protect oneself without a need to hold on to anger, spite, resentment, and other bitter, poisonous emotions. Sometimes forgiving means moving forward without that person, and allowing that person and yourself to move on to find happiness without expecting them to change, or submitting yourself to further injury. 

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Spoiler: Every Movie You Have & Will See

Books are books. They use formulas just like music, cooking, math, choreography, chemistry... What sets each of these apart is when the formula is no longer visible and one is transported, unaware of the underlying skeleton on which taste, touch, sight, sound, thought, and smell hangs.

Screenplays are no different. We have all been victims of movies that leave us feeling like our time would have been better spent knitting a sweater, digging a hole, or scraping paint than subjecting ourselves to such meaningless and shallow entertainment. A few come to mind for me, including Robert Redford's latest. It wasn't his acting, however, it was the screenplay. Screenplays include dialogue, visuals, audio, scenes, locations, characters, plotlines, and camera shots.They are limited to roughly 90-125 pages (one page per minute of film, roughly) and can be masterfully transporting or miserably disappointing. I am learning about screenplay writing and have included a rough skeleton of what I have learned below:

Screenplay formula: 
Act 1- introduce characters, start with some "fire," 6 mains, 5 supporting characters that are purposeful, extras, background characters. Introduce the problem - 25 pages

Act 2- build up characters, define strengths, problems, action of trying to solve problems, conflict every 3 pages, 50 pages 

Act 3- resolution of problem(s) - 25 pages, more "fire," the characters are different having journeyed through the story.

Characters- protag hopes to achieve something and antag, blocking or stopping the protag from achieving his/her goal; what methods does antag use to stop protag? co-stars 3-4, one supporting protag, one supporting antag. Supporting characters bring in new ideas, help them get in or out of trouble, guide them rightly or wrongly, pull main characters in different directions. 
Two remaining supporting or featured characters should add humor, drama, be interesting, serve a purpose, helpful or trouble for main character. 4-5 featured characters, each a few lines; extras must have purpose, may have a line or two. Background characters fill in to make it seem real (no lines).

Develop clever story turns that nobody sees, new challenge, defeat, how they react to it, what they do about it, 1-2 major turns, these are conflicts, they create a sense of urgency, like time is running out, many little turns, obstacles, or conflicts are fine. 

Dialogue - 10 word sentences, 3 sentences at a time max. 

Plot - is the action of the story; subplot is theme of the story or what is the story about or the main point, what do you want the world to know, learn or enjoy. Plot moves the subplot along. How do characters feel about subplots, for or against? How do they behave because of it? 

May have a recurring sound or image that reminds us of the theme that takes place before a story turn or a major conflict and is called a theme pattern (i.e. Jaws music). 

Tell the visuals concisely to help guide the production, shooting timelines, costuming, etc. Don't direct in a screenplay, describe. 




Monday, June 2, 2014

Hello Again.

A lot has changed for me since I was actively writing here. I have less time, three children two and under, and well, I am going it alone. It's strange to post that publicly. Sort of a gulp, am I really going to post that? Those closest to me already know this and it is rather obvious from those who know me personally so why not, right? I guess all of my attempts to keep everything under wraps were for naught. I may be a gun-slinger, but I am not a mud-slinger, so may I just say it has been a personal journey where I realized that I lost myself and am learning to find myself again. I am not going to point fingers or find fault. It helps no one to do so. There is a point where you let it go and you feel free. Happy. Peaceful. I had all of these things I wanted to do and be and I shelfed ME so I could try to be someone he would love. Pfft. Funny sounding, isn't it? To spend years thinking, "If only I were more _____ then he would love me more." I finally realized that I was really saying, "If only I were NOT ME, then he would love me more."

That is raw. That is real. It has taken a lot of time and effort to discover some new things about myself, so with this new vulnerability that I have found the courage to expose in myself, I say, I am lovable as-is. I read recently that if you try to wear a mask that eventually you will have nothing underneath it. I never intentionally wore a mask, but I did ignore the hurt and pretend it wasn't there. The painful events that have led to this are a blessing in many ways.

Another thing I have learned is that I have held myself back in many ways. Being smart set me apart and so I have played dumb for many years. I am finished playing dumb. I have substituted my dreams for what others wanted for me, not choosing what I wanted, but what I thought others wanted me to have. I am finished with that, too. I am capable of choosing what I want and I am finished holding back. I can't take back the time I have lost, but I can go forward and be me. I have given up some amazing opportunities and self-sabotaged other opportunities, and I can't get those back, but I can believe I am capable of great things and live up to my potential right now. Enough for tonight. You may hear from me more often. I am a writer, after all, and writers write.

Sunday, May 4, 2014

Baby Booket List

I waited so long to become a mom that I thought about being a mom a lot over the years. I have some activities (a bucket-list of sorts) that I want to do with the children that are book-based, so here are a few:

Anne of Green Gables series, L.M. Montgomery - go on an outing where we eat treats from Anne's pantry like raspberry cordial, little cakes, and have a poetry reading, or read some of L.M. Montgomery's memoirs. Of course, visiting Prince Edward Island is on the list as well.

Frances the Badger series, Russell Hoban - I loved these books as a child and inherited a real tea set from my mom with roses painted on them. We would have a little tea party but would probably combine this with some of the things from when she goes on a picnic, hard boiled eggs, a tiny set of salt and pepper shakers, a pillowcase for catching snakes, and of course, Jam and Bread.

Where the Wild Things Are, Maurice Sendak - Have a monster party in the woods where we all get to be a monster and stomp and be grumpy. After all, we all need some time for that!

Very Hungry Caterpillar, Eric Carle - I think it would be fun to come up with a menu full of the hungry caterpillar items and at the end we all get butterfly wings. Maybe dye skewers green and put the items eaten on them shishkabob-style so they have holes in them already?

Alice in Wonderland, Charles Lutwidge Dodgson (aka. Lewis Carroll) - A Mad-Hatter's Tea Party/Unbirthday Party complete with crazy hats and costumes, and perhaps a mushroom cake?

Of course there are several other bucket list items that don't include books, namely visiting Germany, Kyoto Castle in Japan (perhaps for the upcoming Olympics?), teaching them all programming using the Alice software, studying Chinese as a family and visiting China together. I guess it all boils down to what we want in life. I hope that we can save up and have some of these fun memories together but also recognize that some of these are a long way off and will require a great deal of sacrifice. Visiting Turkey and Armenia are also on my personal list, but mainly for research for a book. I will add more items later.

Monday, October 14, 2013

Walking on Stormy Waters

Sometimes you try to keep your head above water and the waves just keep hitting you in the face, but when you can rise up just a little, then you are strolling upon undulating hills of fluid. It takes enormous amounts of focus, concentration, hope, and faith. It takes courage to know that the things you can't control may merely be stepping stones for the future.

I don't think I slept much last night, but every time I woke, I was able to go back to sleep by thinking about smells. Apparently the smell center is close to the sleep center in the brain and suddenly I have a non-medical tool to help with my circumstantial insomnia. It is a great blessing.

I have spent my life doing for myself. It is in my blood, this independent streak. It isn't pride. I remember being this way as a tiny child, wanting to do it alone, by myself, as if that was the only path I could see. It is physically painful to accept help from others. I eventually came to the conclusion that this was some form of great strength, doing things alone, when in reality, I was left exposed to the elements, blasted by the wind and storms.

I suddenly and painfully came to the conclusion that this lone tree was in a storm that could not be weathered alone, and there was a forest of support nearby. As it turns out, the forest does not weaken, it is strength, and when I am about to fall I find myself sured up while my roots dig a little deeper. It is a beautiful phenomenon, and not the crutch I had always supposed it would be. I was always willing to be there for others, but something magical happens when you are able to graciously receive the hands extended toward you.

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