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Hard Truths, Day 2: A List on Love, with Love

 

This post is part of my series 41 Years in 30 Days. You can find the entire series here as I write them.

In eight days now, I creep further into my 40s and hit 42. While not a birthday they make specialty cards for, it’s still pretty awesome. Also, if there were special cards for turning 42, I’d imagine the greetings would go something like this:

Happy birthday. I got you vodka, a housekeeper, and a picture of what your tits looked like when you were 16.

For your 42nd birthday, I found your dream man. But then I woke up.

Clive Owen called. He’s not coming.

What do Coors Light and your 42nd birthday have in common? Celebrating either is completely tasteless.

So there’s that.

hard truths day 2 love

Today’s hard truth is about love. In 42 years, I’ve learned a lot about it – and it’s best dealt with in a list. Lists are raw. Bulleted. Numbered. So let’s go.

  • Falling in love is easy. Staying in love is the hard part.
  • There’s a difference between being in love and loving someone. Love is what happens when the shiny wears off and you’re left with an unpretty, flawed human staring back at you – and you still say YES.
  • Love will always hurt when you do it right. But it hurts to make things better, not worse or the same.
  • Love might not last, but that doesn’t mean it’s not real and it wasn’t wonderful while it lasted.
  • Always say the one thing you’re terrified to say, because The Universe might come along and snatch love from your tender hands. And should that moment happen, it sucks immortal amounts of ass to look back and regret not saying that one loving thing you didn’t think you had the courage to say. But you did. And you do.
  • It’s not about how long you can talk with one another. It’s about whether you crave one another when silence creeps in.
  • Family love is weird. Just plain old fuckin’ weird.
  • I’ve offered my heart up willingly to many men who weren’t deserving. While I’ve learned how to better protect my heart over time, I’d never trade vulnerability for the inability and lack of opportunity to feel heartbreak.
  • The glorious thing about heartbreak is that you get to pick up the pieces that matter and leave the rest behind.
  • There is something lovely about every shitty relationship I’ve been in.
  • Some people aren’t built to love you (or anyone, much less themselves) – and that’s their shit, not yours.
  • My exes are never assholes. They are who they are and I chose to date them and I’m not someone who chose to date an asshole.
  • My willingness to see the best in men, friends, family doesn’t change who they are at the core. Some people stopped emotionally growing long before I ever met them. I can wish they’d change in one hand and shit in the other. Guess which one is going to fill up first?
  • I don’t have to apologize for what I love or whom I love unless the whom hurts other whoms I love. Should that happen, I need a serious fucking reality check.
  • Never be with someone you need. Be with someone you want…and who wants you.
  • There is no greater love than the love I hold for myself. It’s a love deserving of my attention and it’s hard fucking work to learn to love yourself. Each day, I do hope to become better at this.
  • If you’re ever with someone who finds more flaws in you than things to celebrate, they deserve zero of your fucks.
  • Don’t believe words. Believe actions, feelings, and your gut. Your gut is one honest motherfucker.
  • I need to stop kicking my own ass for relationships that don’t work out because they’re not supposed to work out and I’m human and shit happens and ooooohhhhhhh look – a pygmy marmoset!
  • When I’m down about love, I think about every man I’ve loved and what would’ve happened if it had worked out. And then I Facebook stalk my wasband and realize he looks like the bloated body of a Sammy Hagar impersonator washed up on the beach. Suddenly, I feel fabulous.
  • You can love your work, but if you love it at the expense of the people whom you love and love you, is it really work worth doing?
  • If your list of dealbreakers is longer than your wish of hope-fors, you’re going to be alone (and lonely) for a very long time.
  • Love is an asshole. It never asks permission to show up and blindsides you. Seriously – it’s a dick.
  • My whole heart cannot belong to someone else. Every time I’ve done that, a piece of me dies.
  • Disney can suck a bag of left-bending dicks. Princesses aren’t real and I don’t need to be rescued.
  • Love challenges you. It doesn’t accept you unconditionally.
  • If you give up on your you, how can you expect someone to fall in love with your you?
  • Your friends should love you, not hurt you, keep you down, talk shit about you behind your back (or to your front). If they don’t, get new friends.
  • Dogs are always happy to see you. Sometimes the people who love you will be pissed at you…and vice versa.
  • When you keep someone who hurts your heart in your heart, there’s no room in your heart for someone who makes you feel wonderful and values you for the fan-fucking-tastic human being that you are.
  • Every time you talk shit about your partner, imagine them talking shit about you and whether you’d want that. Then ask yourself why you’re even with this person.
  • Venting is one thing. Disdain and contempt are another realm entirely and kill any chance for love.
  • While you think it to be true, you will not die should you lose someone you love. While a piece of you might die with them, you are a resilient motherfucker and capable of more than you know. Sadly (and thankfully) I know this.
  • Love isn’t a definition in a dictionary. It’s yours. Define it. Reinvent it. Embrace it. Fuck it silly and pull its hair a bit. Hold it, get in its face, and support it. But never (ever) put it down.
  • Search parameters on Match.com are a good starting point. Being a dick about checkboxes…well, it just makes you a dick.
  • When you degrade someone you love, you’re degrading yourself. Why would you be with someone you can talk that way about?
  • Sometimes love is saying, “I can’t do this. Be well. Goodbye.” And walking the fuck away. With tears in your eyes and crying for days. Because your tears will dry and it’s perfectly possible to love someone you’re not in love with.
  • Falling in love and loving isn’t where it stops. If you don’t take care of yourself, you can’t be lovable. And that just sucks because you’re awesome.
  • If you don’t love you, it’s damn near impossible fro anyone else to love you.
  • That guy who hit you, the girl who cheated on you, the dumbass who stood you up, the dude who died, the gal who broke your heart — remember that past performance isn’t indicative of future results.
  • Love yourself. Love your family. Love your friends. THEN love your partner. In that order. You just might find that your partner becomes family. And then everything is fucking magic.
  • Show up. Don’t quit. Fighting isn’t worth it, but fighting for the one you love…is.
  • There is a difference between fighting WITH and fighting FOR.
  • Never say “fuck you” to anyone you love.
  • And when the mood strikes you and you think you could do this – this could be the person who could make you happy and challenge you to become the next better version of yourself. You want to eat jalapeno poppers with them in bed at 9:34am on a Sunday and cry hysterically when they’ve been stung by a bee and are in anaphylactic shock in an emergency room on the brink of death. You want to see them wrinkly. You want to be wrinkly. You see their heart before you see their ass/six-pack/bank account/Porsche.  When you think for a moment you could do this for the rest of your life…say hello. You might be surprised and find it says hello right back.
  • Whenever I think I’ve learned all there is to know about love, something always comes along to remind me that I have a lot more learning to do.
  • Love is hard work. Hard as hell. If it were easy, it would be called “beer,” not “love.”

Love’s Boundaries

paul forziano hava samuelsWe’re often kept apart from those we love by distance. Time. Asswipes who drive the speed limit in the far left hand lane of the freeway.

There are those I love who have been kept from having their love recognized by the government — a practice that’s seeing its own sea change.

But today — my mom sent me an article that showed me a new boundary on love.

KHOU in Houston’s coverage of the story offers this:

With the beaming smiles of newlyweds, Paul Forziano and Hava Samuels hold hands, exchange adoring glances and complete each other’s sentences. Their first wedding dance, he recalls, was to the song “Unchained …” ”Melody,” she chimes in.

And later:

“She’s very beautiful and she helps me,” Forziano says of his new bride.

But Paul and Hava can’t live together. See, they are husband and wife under the laws of New York State, but they each live in separate group homes that provide housing and services to those in the lower range of intellectual functioning. Forziano has an IQ in the range of 50 to 58, and Hava’s is in the 50 to 54 range. By day, they spend time together in a performing arts education center, which is where they met. But by night, they each must return to their respective group home.

Forziano’s home says that they’ve denied the request for cohabitation on grounds that those who live in group homes “are by definition incapable of living as married people.” Samuels’ home has denied the request because it “believes she doesn’t have the mental capacity to consent to sex.”

And yes, the couples’ families are fighting (there is a lawsuit pending that would allow Paul and Hava to live together). But here’s where I ask: when will this end?

When will our preoccupation with labeling the right kind of love go the way of the Chia Pet and New Coke?

When will we cease being so arrogant and embrace that love isn’t something that can only happen between specific people, races, genders, and those whom have only known one another for an “acceptable” time?

And before some troll comes along with a filthy remark about “retards reproducing” (yeah, I used the R-word), let me offer this:

Have you ever sat in front of a person who’s mentally handicapped? Have you held his or her hand? That “retard” you’re afraid will reproduce if people like Paul and Hava should have sex and beget a child will probably be the kindest, loving, and accepting human being you’ll ever be fortunate enough to meet.

Probably kinder than you’ve been in the entirety of the past 7 days (or maybe 70 years) you’ve spent on this planet.

When will it end?

When will we stop being the arbiters of love and start being the ones who say that love is what makes this world better? It doesn’t matter who has it for whom. It doesn’t matter a mental capacity. And I’ll prove it.

My first husband was in full possession of an IQ that would be classified as fully-functioning by any mental assessment. This didn’t stop him from holding me up against our bedroom wall by my neck. And it sure as hell didn’t stop him from threatening me once he’d found out I’d contacted a divorce attorney.

And I married that guy. That fully-functioning, in-complete-possession-of-his-mental-capacities guy.

Which is why reading this article about Paul and Hava this morning made me cry. Because Paul and Hava most likely have a kinder love than I ever experienced in my four years with that “fully functioning” man. And from what I see with some selected Facebook stalking, that guy has gone on to reproduce a few more times since I exited his life. Jesus — and we’re worried about Paul and Hava getting it on?

Love is love. And the next story I want to read about Paul and Hava is the interview after they’ve been living together for a month as husband and wife — as two people whose lives are made better because the other is near. I want to hear what they say about waking up feeling the other’s body warmth. Hearing the other say, “Good morning.” About each being the last thing the other sees before they fall asleep and the first thing when they rise.

Samuels says she fell for her future husband because he was funny; she particularly liked his “knock-knock” jokes.

But her eyes begin to well up with tears when asked about her current living situation. “I’m not happy,” she says. “We live apart.”

And they live apart because — while we purport that we’re an evolved society — we’re still one that gets off on telling other people what they can or cannot feel or do. Out of our own fear, ignorance, or whatever other excuse-du-jour we’re willing to conjure up.

So, here’s what I ask today:

Paul lives at Maryhaven Center for Hope. Their mission statement (clearly visible on their website home page) is: “Our vision at Maryhaven Center of Hope is to improve, enrich and respect the lives of people with special needs. We promote each person’s highest potential by encouraging all aspects of growth. We are committed to creating opportunities and delivering quality services throughout life’s journey.” All aspects of growth? Really. Oh — and they’re the ones who say that because Paul lives in a group home, he’s not mentally capable of living as husband to his wife even though the State of New York says he’s mentally capable of entering into a marriage contract. Here’s how to contact them via mail and via phone (I’d say blow up the Administrative Offices line).

Hava lives at the Independent Group Living Program in Manorville, NY. They also have a super shitty Facebook page that hasn’t been updated since September of last year. Here’s how to contact them. Oh — and they’re the ones who think that a Hava’s not mentally capable of entering into a consensual sexual relationship with Paul, even though the State of New York says they’re mentally capable of entering into a marriage contract.

And maybe you’ll do nothing — your choice. But I ask: What if you were kept from the one you love because someone else said you’re not “capable” of loving that person?

Bullshit, my friends. Grade A, undeniable bullshit. This shouldn’t be a lawsuit that’s costing two families a shit ton of money. What have we come to as a country when we’re fucking around with determining who can live together instead of building a country healthy enough to support every kind of love we have the audacity to imagine?

PS: if you want to catch a glimpse of Paul and Hava, click here. Isn’t that beautiful?

Through the Cracks

through the cracks awesomeapottamus

Not an *actual* Awesomeapottamus

We’ve had the most incredible full moon as of late. Silver pours from the night sky and, I must admit, I like it even a bit better when it’s still there waiting for me at 7 A.M. the next morning. Like it couldn’t get enough of the nighttime that it has to bogart a little from the daytime to feel fulfilled.

A day or so ago, someone mentioned my post Access to me. Just over three months old now, it was a post borne from heartbreak (and in some very unexpected ways). And under last night’s full moon, I simply thought…

isn’t it curious what slips through the cracks when your heart breaks?

It takes a lot of energy to keep a heart from breaking – whether you’re driving a business or relationship forward. Shit. It’s exhausting trying to hold an egg shell together with an iron fist. And when it’s exhausting, we look back later (after the carnage) and realize that all that energy we spent trying to prevent heartbreak could have been better spent elsewhere. And there’s much that got neglected.

Hearts break. Lovers, friends, family, pets, jobs…we lose them. Things don’t turn out the way we planned. One of my cycling coaches has an adage that if cycling were easy, it would be called “beer.” If heartbreak was easy, I’m figuring it wouldn’t have “break” as part of the word.

But how often do we look at what seeps through the cracks of a broken heart?

In a mere three months, I’ve managed to put myself and my business first. Dropped a pound or two. Moved my ass in every sense of the word. I’ve fallen in love with me again and am in the process of seeing multiple mind-blowing things come to fruition. I’ve booked the trip of a lifetime. I’ve saved money, made plans.

And all of this…just slipped through the cracks of a broken heart.

When we’re so close to something that’s gone awry, we can’t help it but to get caught up in the fact that my fucking shell just c-r-a-c-k-e-d.  Somehow, we’ve got the energy to go out and buy party hats and beer for our own little pity party, but we don’t have the energy to sit down and deal. We’re more content to shove nomnoms and self-deprecating comments down our throats than get off the couch and start living again. The sucker punch hurts. Sometimes we punch ourselves. Either way, the shell is straight fucked and if we’re not going to cowboy the hell up to pick up the pieces, who is?

I looked at my broken shell this week. Funny – it’s not so broken. A little spit, duct tape and “fuck this” put it back together. But I’m really glad for what seeped through the cracks. I see every broken heart I’ve ever had as a gift. It’s like a herd of pet Awesomeapottamuses (a mythical creature I created yesterday on Twitter). They subsist on a diet of  love and dreams and in the environment you least expected.

Moments

moments redheaded fury

THIS is a moment

Friday – September 10

I sat down tonight and watched A Single Man. Floored at 8:06pm on a Friday night, I’m here on my laptop because I can’t stop thinking about moments.

Behind all of the bitch slapping and f-bombs, I’m an incurable romantic and closet eavesdropper: a story well-told is better than an orgasm I didn’t give myself, the finest chocolate or the creamiest banana milkshake. A great story reminds you that everyone has one, wrought with passion, piercing pain, utter fuck-ups and victories both concrete and imagined. I think myself a selfish bitch some days because I get so caught up in my own bullshit that I forget about other people’s stories. And those stories give us moments.

Back in Access, I talked about how I don’t think we leave the house in our single years each day looking for love – we go in search of access. People who will let us in and ultimately, our stories will intertwine. A dance of quirks and perfections – it’s like the nerds all get to dance with the prom queen and captain of the football team. For once. No one gets sprayed with pig’s blood. Life becomes a John Waters film.

If I think of the greatest moments in my life, they don’t have words when they happen(ed). They’re a curious blend of timing, circumstance, participants and whatever happens to be aligned or in retrograde. Romantic love is always referenced in terms of “chemistry.” Moments – well, maybe they’re the times where we share chemistry with the universe. They’re fleeting and were they to last longer, they’d become du jour. Sagas. Epics. De rigeur.

Expected.

Today, each of us has a love lost. A nightmarish ex-whatever. The friend who fucked us (and not even in the at-risk-for-an-STD kind of way).

But what about the moments?

In spite of it all, there’s the electricity that ran down your spine when he unexpectedly touched your hair on a first not-really-date-is-this-a-date. The one time you saw the human side to the sociopathic narcissist you left a great-paying job to come work for. Hours spent on IM trading nonsensical hilarities that delightfully interrupted all the work you should have been doing. Times where you laughed so loud at an email in your office, people walked in and you claimed a sneeze.

We forget them. Like leftovers in a takeout box, we leave them on the table at the restaurant seven times out of ten and when we realize we don’t have them, we’re pissed.

But we never go back for them. We just miss them when they’re gone.

No matter how magical, we forget.

Tonight, I’m sitting here thinking of moments. Reminiscing, smelling each one, smiling, some tears. Laughing a lot. Missing. See, here’s where I miss them, these moments. But I’m craving, too.

Do you remember the moment where you first realized you love a friend? Not college gay I-love-my-friend. Love. So fucking thankful they’re in your life you have no other words but I love you to describe it love.

That moment.

You are lucky. You are the homecoming queen and the guy everyone wants on their team. A rock star. Famous. People applaud, you run across home plate and Ed McMahon’s on your doorstep with a Happy Gilmore-sized check. And it all happens in about ten seconds.

That’s a moment.

Moments don’t cause enduring pain. They don’t lie to us or keep reminded us how much they suck. We don’t much remember them when something ends – the other seeps through. Moments? Well, they stand in the background, waiting to be remembered again.

They pass through. The people, pets and things that facilitate them may persist, but why are we so anxious to let go of the moments?

I still remember the moment my grandmother gave me a tube of red lipstick in a bright gold, ridged cylinder. I got to put it in my purse before church. Mine. I smiled.

That’s a moment. And I miss her. I miss how I felt at that moment. Like at age seven or so, I was all grown up and I got to keep a Big Girl Thing in my little white patent leather purse and she knew how much it meant to me.

Moments always come along when we least expect them. Seriously – when’s the last time you left your house and said, “I’m gonna go make some moments today! Hell yeah.”? We don’t do that. They sneak up on us, blindside us. And if we’re lucky, we acknowledge them and a part of us changes forever.

I love them. Moments. I’m having one right now as I watch Big Dog sleep, his paw twitching and exhales varying in depth and frequency. I wonder what he’s dreaming and realize I love watching him sleep. For all the drool and water dripped from a sloppy jaw throughout the house, he’s the same 12-pound explosion of fur I adopted in November of 2007 after listening to Shirley Temple’s “I Want a Hippopotamus for Christmas” play on the radio as I drove to the shelter. I’ve never seen his paw twitch. His name is Hippo(potamus, of course).

Next Thursday, I won’t remember his paw twitching or the flashback I had to the moment he plopped himself in my lap at the shelter. The sweet face that told me he was going to come home with me and make the cats’ lives a living hell. The same sweet face that didn’t tell me dogs don’t speak English, or more notably, that puppies know how to crap, eat and chew – none of which are ever done in the proper place or with the proper things. Moments make us remember when we allow ourselves the luxury. They’re plush and lush and while not every moment evokes an inner glow, each hits us in an indescribable way. It’s a gift to share a moment with someone or something, but I find an odd comfort in knowing the same moment is experienced differently by everyone involved. A gorgeous game of telephone where everyone gets to keep a little secret.

What are your moments and what do you do to honor them and the people who were a part? Endings we didn’t plan don’t have to mean we discount the moments.

All I Ever Wanted

all i ever wanted erika napoletano redheaded fury

You’ll get the image when you finish the post.

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness that most frightens us.’ We ask ourselves, Who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small does not serve the world. There’s nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine, as children do. We were born to make manifest the glory of God that is within us. It’s not just in some of us; it’s in everyone. And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we’re liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

-Marianne Williamson, A Return to Love: Reflections on the Principles of a Course in Miracles

I don’t know what to say. I stood in a kitschy shop today and while reading cards ranging from sappy to poignant to irreverent, the tears came. So I paid and got the hell out and proceeded to wonder what the hell had gotten into me. While wandering an outdoor shopping center waiting for my dinner to be ready for pickup, I realized…

I could blame my tears on All I Ever Wanted.

On June 14, 2010, I cried. A lot. June 25 pretty much sucked, too. June 30th blew. July wasn’t so great but getting better, as when you’re trying to mend a broken heart, you find everything from cupcakes to shit in your basement and filing past due taxes to be of the utmost import. If nothing else, I was busy. Busy is good. Finding a way to breathe again – that would be better.

September’s here and my business, clients, projects and friends – it’s All I Ever Wanted. I don’t wake up in the morning feeling as if I lack, and while the other side of my bed remains empty (by design), I can breathe again. Maybe it’s the hot yoga I’ve started taking (while today’s class reeked of stale scrotum and lavender) and the completely relaxed yet periodically pissed-off sensation I get before, during and after each class. Every day I can do something I couldn’t do the class prior but I never fail to find something else at which I’m a complete tard. Like half moon pose. I’ve got chair pose down and can hang there all day while the class seethes like a pressure cooker. Half moon? More like full nimrod. But fuck it. I can breathe and for an hour a few times a week, my only goal is to breathe (a goal I wish I’d set years ago).

So, back to All I Ever Wanted. Two of my best friends are pregnant – sharing their joy is soul food. My inbox is full of current and new business. Some clients are being…well, fired. Others are coming in and pulling up a chair, staying awhile.

I’m on the verge of two ridiculously exciting professional endeavors. My dogs haven’t shit on the rug or peed inside in almost a month and the cats (aged 12) seem to have found a food that flows only one direction. Big Dog hasn’t eaten any more of the fence. Small Dog, while having eaten my entire salad earlier this week, has eased up on the yappy crap barking. If something supposed to be in retrograde, well, I’m missing it.

And now the question: what do I do with All I Ever Wanted? It scares the living shit out of me. Hoping to have it, lamenting because you don’t, commiserating with others who lack – well, that’s a metric fuck ton easier than actually facing measurable success in the face and giving it a proper greeting.

I’m trying to think back to my formative years. Gah – who am I kidding? I’m still in my formative years (and hope to never leave them). My childhood. My parents were epic. Supportive. Congratulatory. Encouraging. I didn’t get paid for reciting Bible verses or bringing home good grades – I got encouraged to do more…do different. So when the hell along the way from 13 to 37-ish did I feel like I didn’t deserve to look success in the face and give it a high five? Maybe it likes Dexter and wants to join me on the sofa for a Netflix Night. So I decided to stare it in the face, hand it a glass of Peach Fresca and white wine and pop in Season 4. And the damnedest thing happened: aside from discovering that the above beverage combination is simultaneously white trash and damn tasty (kinda like those wine coolers that used to come in the 2-liter bottles – you know you got shitfaced on them in high school), All I Ever Wanted stayed right there next to me the whole time. It didn’t get up and leave. It even seemed to settle in – once I let it.

All I Ever Wanted is sitting here next to me on my sofa right now and it’s strangely comforting. Like a lover who brings me flowers when I least expect them and can make me giggle without saying a word. It’s got dimples to die for and spoons me at night while I sleep. It inspires me and most importantly, it reminds me that there’s a difference between resting and losing momentum. That momentum – damn, y’all. It’s crystal meth without all the fucked-up teeth-rotting bullshit action. It’s better than Five Hour Energy Drink shots: it’s the never-waning charge that challenges you to think, regroup, realign and get going. While I haven’t trained it to bring me my morning latte, I’m okay with getting it my damn self. I’m motivated to do so.

Four Indispensable Things

four indispensable things

joiseyshowaa’s photostream on Flickr.com/via Creative Commons

George Carlin left behind a legacy with routines adored far and wide. Among them is the infamous Seven Words You Can’t Say on TV. Don Miguel Ruiz gave us The Four Agreements. That Covey twit spews out seven habits and makes a killing off merchandise.

As a redhead known for her ribald humor, I’m only human. A girl filled with hopes and dreams that I’m doing my damnedest to see through to fulfillment and beyond. While my language blue and middle finger most prominent, a joy I’ve come to embrace in my (dare I say) adulthood is my humanity. My capacity for compassion. The ability to fill my own vessel and feed others from the overflow. This week began with a Bitch Slap and I’ll end it with Four Indispensable Things.

The Four Things are surrounded by ego, fear, pride, shame, vulnerability and more emotions/consequences than my mind can conjure. They’re simple and universal while being the most difficult things we can ever let eek out our mouths and traipse through our minds.

They’re also Four Things that I’ve promised myself that I’ll never fear again. Maybe today’s blog is more for me than for you, my readers, and if that ends up being the case – I’m sorry. I always write with you in mind and I can hope that something here will resonate with you. The ability to embrace and say the following things more often will do nothing but make this most beautiful life I lead even moreso. Frequency, intent and honesty – traits each of the Four Things share on every level.

I’m Sorry

I watched Swimming With Sharks last weekend under the pretense that it was a comedy (holy shit, was I wrong, and thanks to everyone who ever recommended that movie to me and “forgot” to tell me it’s not a comedy). Throughout the movie, the characters repeatedly state: Don’t apologize. It’s a sign of weakness. That’s bullshit. It’s a sign of strength, confidence and character. All to often I find myself saying “I’m sorry” as perfunctory as “How are you?” We don’t really mean either. They’re pleasantries at best. I’m not always right and I don’t always handle things the right or best way. In those cases, an apology is in order. There’s incredible strength inherent with I’m Sorry. Not only is it a phrase that allows you to engage and grow with someone, it’s one that allows someone else to better understand your character.

No

What’s the stigma with telling someone “no?” The ability to tell someone no is essential to our growth. We’re continuously presented with opportunities to participate in any myriad of events and projects. If we jam our schedule so full with any old event that comes along because we’re afraid to say no, then we’re not leaving any room for the things that come along that we really want to do. As I stated earlier this week in The Bitch Slap – we all have responsibilities and obligations. Understood. But if we repeatedly say yes to the things that take our time, where will we find the time to give when something comes along that captures our attention…passion…hearts?

Thank You

Exhibiting thanks…again, such a perfunctory and pedestrian behavior. While a pleasantry in and of itself, it comes from a very vulnerable place many times. We are all superheroes in our own minds, equipped and able to handle every curve ball life throws us. Ready to face every day’s challenges, quandaries and fuckups with infinite energy and unlimited expertise. We can choose to feel overburdened by the pile of crap on our doorstep, bound and determined to go it alone. Or we can ask for help. It’s not easy and often, rather unpretty. But if we stop and look, we are surrounded by people who are more than happy to lend a hand. Whether a coworker, neighbor, lover or friend – help lurks in the most obvious and unlikely of places in life. Reach out, request, receive, give thanks. That sounds a bit more religious than I’m comfortable with, but to hell with it.

I Love You

“Three words that became hard to say / I and love and you
What you were then, I am today / Look at the things I do”

~The Avett Brothers – “I and Love and You”

The most difficult. Most vulnerable. It’s the scariest and most lovely thing we can ever say. Whether said to family, friends or lovers, those three words place us in a position to be shot down. To fall. To be disappointed when expectations aren’t met. Opening yourself up to the consequences and rewards that simultaneously accompany I and love and you is an exhilarating journey. When you say those three words, you’re telling someone:

Hey, for all that you are, you fill me up. Thank you. You add to my life. I’m not perfect but you accept me and you’re not perfect either – but you know what? Screw it! You’re wonderful. From the maddening way you eat your dinner from the outside of the plate in to the way you feel next to me in bed each morning. You many never know what to get me for my birthday and I may never remember you hate olives. You’ll have shitty days and some of mine may even be shittier. But with all of the good, I want the crap, too. I want every little bit of your crap and I want to roll around in it like a hog in mud and bask in the sunshine until it dries all over me like a protective chocolate outer coating on a Ding Dong.

I want the crap. I want the unadulterated bliss and sheer agony that accompany each utterance of I and love and you. You can’t go anywhere in life if you build up walls so high that no one can climb over them. And when we’re lucky enough to have a Trojan Horse come along and park itself outside the gate, I’d much rather go through life thinking it’s more like the Monty Python “Trojan Bunny” – a laughable, contrary, unexpected surprise than one filled with a legion of heart-thrashing warriors ready to bring me to my knees.

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And those are the Four Indispensable Things, my readers. I believe I have a life-long project ahead of me.