Happy Anniversary To Me!

I logged onto WordPress.com for the first time in several weeks to find out today is my one year anniversary! Yay! Now I really feel terrible for not posting in…months! Ahhh! I guess there’s no time like the present to get back on the horse, or is it back in the saddle? Either way, yee haw!

It’s a curious thing, and one I’ve been contemplating, that when I have the most to write about I don’t write at all. I’ve had some juicy stuff going on, the kind of stuff that starving journals are hungry for, yet my pen is stilled. Instead I remain in an overehelmed state until I finally pick it up again. As the ink runs out of the pen so goes my pent up stress. Until that moment my thoughts are akin to those little balls used in the lottery machine bouncing around and crashing into one another. Ouch!

When I first began this blog I wanted my experiences to help others. Not as in “do as I do because I got everything right”, but as in “maybe something I’ve tried will work for you”. Or at the very least, “maybe you realize you are not alone in this world”! There are others on their own search and journey to becoming a better person and so many approaches to reaching that goal. There’s also the possibility that we never fully accomplish becoming who we are going to be until we take  our last breathe.  I’d like to think that with every passing year I get closer to understanding myself, and while I believe this to be true, I am still discovering who I want to be. I thought I knew but the more time passes the more I realize there are so many possibilities for me personally.

If you’d ask me a couple years ago I was sure I’d met my calling by being an administrative assistant. That career path fulfilled my need to help and be a critical part of making things happen while not being fully responsible for the things happening. I still believe that job to be a good match for me and one I succeed in. But this last year has opened several other, completely different opportunities to me. Videography for instance. Or script writing. WOW! I was pretty sure I’d have a roll in someone else’s creativity, but actually being a creative one? I’m still not convinced, but it’s an exciting idea and just having the chance to try my hand at it…WOW! My heart is still eager to help others reach their fullest potential and working with B allows me to do that. He’s AMAZING and talented beyond anything I could hope to acheive! So assisting is still a career probability for me which suits me just fine.

Speaking of working with B, we have another wedding we’re shooting this weekend! I am so looking forward to this wedding not only because the location is going to be beautiful, or because we shot this couple’s engagement video (below), but because Lauren is my friend and she and Vaughan are a great couple and who doesn’t like to see their friends get married?! Please enjoy this video from Wrinkled Blanket Media and stay tuned for their wedding highlight video to follow shortly.

Lauren and Vaughan’s Engagement Video from Wrinkled Blanket Media on Vimeo.

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OMG I Sound Like My Mother!

I remember the first time I heard my mother’s voice come out of my mouth. All at once I understood. I was being initiated into a secret society I didn’t remember pledging to and wasn’t sure I wanted to be a part of. But it was too late!

My twin toddlers undoubtedly did something that I had told them MANY times not to do and inadvertently opened Mommy’s flood gate of “THAT’S IT”.  If you ask me what those exact words were that formed in my brain and leap off my tongue, I would not be able to tell you. It wasn’t the words exactly, but the way in which they were said. They had her tone of voice all over them. Despite all my pronouncements as an adolescent (as most adolescents do) that I would NOT be like my mom when I grew up, I had indeed inherited some of her traits. And to my surprise it wasn’t as upsetting as I thought it’d be. Quite the opposite actually. In that moment of clarity I finally got her! And with it came a deep sense of appreciation.

For most of my childhood my mom was a stay-at-home mom. Not because she wasn’t a strong-willed independent woman (if you know her at all you’ll know I’m not lying), but I believe it’s what she and my father thought was best. I am so grateful that they did. There was a security that came with my mom always being there. She was able to be involved in our school activities. She made sure we had healthy social lives. She baked…not everyday but there wasn’t a Christmas that went by without our kitchen becoming a cookie factory so she could give trays of cookies away to everyone and their neighbor. She encouraged us creatively with messy projects. She was (and still is) a great story teller. And boy could that woman get mad! And quick! What I didn’t realize then, but do now, is the amount of work and brain drain that goes into being active in your childrens’ school activities, social lives, baking, messy projects and even making up stories. It’s exhausting! No wonder her fuse was short.

There is another side to sounding like my mother. My mom is always ready with an encouraging word. If you ever read the comments on this blog you’ll know what I mean. I don’t think there’s one post she hasn’t commented on, each more encouraging than the last. I love hearing her converse with her grandchildren (which I just got to do last week when she was visiting). There’s no doubt in anyone’s mind that she thinks they’re the shiznit! It’s a trait I hope people will see in me as well. That and her compassion for others. She’s always been easy to talk to. She was, and still is, usually volunteering for one organization or another.  And I can’t tell you how many times we had people staying with us for a week or two until they got on their feet. My friends knew they had a place to go and my mom would accept them with open arms. She just had 3 rules: 1. No drugs, 2. No sex and 3. Don’t leave the toilet seat up. I’m pleading the 5th on whether or not those rules were upheld.

It’s funny how we as humans can have a hard time appreciating someone without walking in there shoes. Becoming a mom myself has been an eye opening experience and I know I have still barely scratched the surface. Both my moms have survived adolescent children, whereas I am just beginning that phase, and there are still so many stages yet to come: college, weddings, grandchildren.  I am fully prepared to be amazed by these two incredible women at each stage as I learn to appreciate them and what they’ve been through more and more. So sounding like my mom.. ain’t so bad!

HAPPY MOTHER’S DAY!!

Confessions of A Recovering Romance Novel Junkie

About 10 years ago I heard a woman talk about romance novels and soap operas as porn for women. While I didn’t care much for soap operas, I was consuming at least one romance novel every two weeks at the time, sometimes even one a week. I didn’t see the harm in them. Most of them weren’t the trashy kind anyway so clearly they couldn’t be considered porn. I just liked reading them because they were quick reads and they made me feel warm and fuzzy inside.

I would get lost in the intense passion the characters had for each other and the certainty that there was a happily ever after for them. I imagined that was how it really felt to be in love. When I’d finish the book the reality of a passionless marriage and the uncertainty that I was with the right person set in. I couldn’t see a happily ever after in my future. I’d even question if something was wrong with me? Why didn’t I feel that way about my husband? Why hadn’t I ever felt that way about anyone? My belief that being in love was a possibility turned into a theory that there was no way that level of passion could be real in a long term relationship. Of course there is passion and a feeling of infatuation in the beginning of most relationships that’s mistaken for ‘being in love”. This I knew from experience. How many times had I “been in love”  with someone only to lose interest a few months later? It was just something movies and books created and endorsed to sell their products. That perfect love between a man and woman couldn’t really exist!

Regardless, I kept reading and the books turned into an escape from my lacking reality. They made me yearn for something I knew I could never have. They became an addiction. Nothing my husband said or did was as good as what I read. I mean, you know it’s bad when you read a romance novel to get in the mood for your spouse! That’s when it clicked. The reference to romance novels becoming porn for women made sense. And it didn’t stop at novels. I would watch any rom-com I could get my hands on. Anything to give me that borrowed high from another (very fictional) characters completeness in the love they’d found.

Did the addiction to fiction lead to the dissatisfaction of my marriage? NO! There was plenty of that before my one a week habit started. But it didn’t help make my marriage any better either. Instead it intensified the dissatisfaction and created unrealistic expectations for my marriage. There was no way my  husband was ever going to say the right things or act the right way because first, he wasn’t built to talk and act that way since he was a real person, and second, because he wasn’t reading the books and had no frame of reference by which to even understand my misguided ideals.

Do I think all women should stop reading romance novels because they create unrealistic expectations for relationships? No. I think it’s a personal decision. For some, it doesn’t affect them the way it did me. I do think it’s wise to understand that the relationships in books and movies are fictional. If they cause an increased dissatisfaction in your committed relationship, it may be time to set aside the media form you are devouring and pay attention to the work at hand (i.e., your marriage).

That said, my habit is thankfully not an issue anymore. And not just because my unhappily-ever-after marriage is over! The desire to read about/watch the love lives of others, no matter how fake they are, is almost non-existent thanks to the happiness I have in my current relationship and my resolve to live my life. I was given a second chance. I know that’s not the case for everyone. However, I am still a firm believer that two people who are committed and choose to work on their relationship together, can have a stronger more satisfying relationship than any book or movie! My earlier theory has sufficiently been proven wrong by my own experiences.  It may be the only time I’m glad I’m wrong (at least that I’ll admit).

That’s it for my ponderings today. Please add your thoughts on the topic of romance novels/rom-com movies below.

Would The Real Knight-In-Shining-Armor Please Stand Up

To say that I’m a scardy-cat would be an immature thing to say but it would also be mostly accurate. When I was a little girl I had a fear of someone hiding under the bed or in the closet. My dad used to roll his eyes when I asked him to check for me, but he did it because he knew it was the only way to make me feel safe enough to sleep. That, and it was the only way I’d leave him alone! I’d love to say that this is something I grew out of, but sadly it is not. I don’t necessarily think someone is waiting to get me anymore but I am easily startled. That’s why when B and I came home the other night and the back doors were unlocked, I kinda freaked out. My first response was to ask B to check the house. His first reaction was to be reasonable…I didn’t like that one bit. Not because I don’t think he had a valid point – find out if there is a logical reason they were unlocked and then freak out if not – but because he didn’t do what I thought would make me feel safe right away. He didn’t check under the beds and in the closets, at least not at first. What if someone was there? Was he going to stab him with a paring knife? Or spray him in the face with Windex? Instead he asked me to call anyone (as in relatives) that may have been in the house and left the back doors open. Once I made the calls he checked the house. Thankfully there was not one hiding out, but it still took me a while to feel comfortable moving about.

I had to process through this new way of approaching my fear. At first it seemed all wrong because my feeling of safety was delayed, but that had more to do with what I was used to than actually thinking through the situation. If we had really felt we were in danger we shouldn’t have checked anything in the house. Rather we should have called the police. B was absolutely correct in this approach. And as much of an advocate as I am for individuality and creativity in approaching a situation, I still fell into the that’s-the-way-we-do-things mentality. Tisk tisk Dyana!

It’s one thing if you have this revelation about yourself once in a week, but twice? Now that’s a whole other beast, and one that need to be dealt with.

The day after the unlocked doors incident, I had a conversation with my ex in which he exclaimed “If anything happens to [the boys] you’re gonna get it!” This was his response to me allowing my two oldest sons to stay home by themselves. It didn’t matter that the reason I let them stay home was because he gave one of them a blue pain relief pill that had he read the bottle he would have realized was a Tylenol PM! I thought if they were home at least my son could rest it off. When I relayed the conversation to B he asked with concern “He threatened you?!” Nah, I thought, that’s just the way he is. However the more I thought about it, yes he did threaten me and he’s done it over and over again for years! When did I accept his threatening me as acceptable? Really?! Again, tisk tisk Dyana!

Well, can I just say that B did the most unexpected and possibly the most romantic thing anyone has EVER done for me? The next day he called my ex to discuss why he felt he had to threaten me and what exactly “You’re gonna get it” referred to. When B told me he’d just had a 45 minute conversation with him I couldn’t believe it. B stood up for me! To my ex! From his recounting of the conversation it went fairly well. He was able to discuss the situation with maturity. In this one gesture of love B has made me feel extremely safe and secure, something I haven’t had in any other relationship. And because of his concern for me, he’s also made me realize that even if “that’s just the way things are”, “that’s just the way he is”, “that’s just the way we do things”, doesn’t make it right! Thank you B for this week’s life lesson!

The Difference Between “Steps” And Stairs

It could have easily been a case of Step-Monster vs Rebellious Teenage Daughter. Especially with the first woman my father dated after he and my mother separated. She was nice enough from what I can remember other than the fact she didn’t want to share my dad with his kids. I have scenes from movies playing in my head where the single dad starts dating and gets engaged to a beautiful woman whom he thinks is great for his kids, only behind his back she is making plans to ship said kids to military/boarding school as soon as they say “I do”. Thankfully it never got that close, but still.

Truthfully I wouldn’t have cared much either way.  My dad and I had a REALLY strained relationship. (Like the kind where I honestly thought I hated him). It pains me to say that now, but that’s how deeply I felt unloved by him and thought I’d be better off without him. Besides I was more interested in having the freedom to hang out with my friends and flirt (ahem) with boys. My dad got in the way of that with his strict rules so the further away the better. Did I mention I was a somewhat rebellious, self centered, bratty teenager? Fortunately for us all he ended that relationship. Also fortunately for us all, she had a best friend who later became the love of his life.

It started out as a friendship that grew into a love I didn’t yet know was possible. There was respect and laughing and family time. A LOT of family time since MA (short for My-All) had 3 sisters who all had children and all lived within 10 minutes from their parents, Nanny & Pop Pop. It didn’t matter who you were, they were still Nanny and Pop Pop.  They were that family. You know the one that had a picnic for any excuse possible. They actually enjoyed spending time together. They knew everything going on in each others’ lives. I don’t remember ever being treated as an outsider or even a visitor. Until then my experience of “Family” had been completely different. Most of my family lived on other continents and I barely knew them. The ones that lived closer I saw on average twice a year. But MA’s family was what I imagined a “REAL” family to be.

As my dad and MA’s relationship progressed, my defiance started to lose some steam. MA made me feel like I was the daughter she never had but always wanted. She loved me even when I was being ugly (and I could get ugly!). She accepted me in my rebellion (which f.y.i when rebellion is accepted it not longer qualifies as rebellion). Even more than that she was able to express my father’s love for me in a way I could understand. She gave her ALL and it was the bridge that brought me back. I’d like to think that my dad and I would have eventually worked things out, but I’m not sure we could have without the help we got from MA.

In the 20+ years that my dad and MA have been married, it’s become even more evident that MA has a knack for operating in forgiveness and acceptance of which I admire and strive towards. Don’t get me wrong, that woman can get mad! I’m talkin’ the kind of mad that makes grown men wish they were in a dark alley in the worst part of the city…cause it’s safer! She’ll break a nose before she lets someone hurt her family! But if you’re family, or a friend of the family or a friend of a friend of the family, you can rest assured that she would give you the shirt off her back, or those really sweet shoes in her closet or her sewing machine because you mentioned you wanted to learn to sew.  She is a silver lining.

“There are no ‘STEPS’ in this house besides the ones going upstairs!” -MA