Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Holiday Reflections.

Sometimes the best gifts don't come wrapped with a pretty bow and placed under a Christmas tree.
Often times with the holidays, we become wrapped up in the hustle and bustle of it all. It seems that with every year, the holidays become more and more commercialized, more materialisitic. We fuss about the perfect gifts, the perfect decor, the perfect attire to accompany our image for the parties, etc.

This year, I took one evening to take a drive and find some peace in the whirlwind that has been the past few months. During my drive I passed several holiday displays of lights and stopped at one. It was a very humble display of lights, but one that was hung with love. The front porch, bushes, and a tree or two, were strewn with white lights. It wasn't over-the-top, and it certainly wasn't keeping Ameren UE in business by any means. It made me smile.

I sat outside of that home and began to think of how much one's life can change in literally a year's time. And then I cried. I cried for how far I have come to get to this place of happiness, which is quite far. Looking back on it all, there was one thing that had remained a constant, despite so many changes.

That constant, resided in the home that I was sitting in front of, that has the humble lights that made me smile. It is the constant, the warmth and the comfort that is real, genuine, love. It is quite possibly the best gift of all.

This "gift" that is love, is my boyfriend. Through all of the changes I have experienced over the past year, he has stood by my side through it all. We have laughed together, traveled to foreign countries (while narrowly escaping cavity searches and death), shared the happiness that is gelato on a scorching day, and trips to no place in particular for the sake of exploring, meeting family and friends and yes, a few tears of laughter and a tear or two of sadness. He has been by my side through it all, my boyfriend, my best friend and love.

And that evening as I got out of the car and wiped away the tears and went inside the warm home and saw him sitting in his chair, watching football, and looking over to smile at me as if we hadn't seen each other in a zillion years (though I am sure it was only a few days), I knew I had the best gift of all.

Though my health isn't perfect, I know that having him and having each day with him is quite a gift in and of itself. I would trade a million tomorrows to know that I could have many more Christmases with him.

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

I'm Really Such a Lady (Sometimes).

Once upon time, in a Midwestern city there lived a gal who didn't really fit the status-quo of what a "lady" should be. Actually, she was a far cry from it.

Sure, she could slap on the makeup, do up the hair and step out in heels like the best of 'em, but it wasn't enough to hide who she really was.

She didn't like gossip. Loathed petty women with nothing more to do than to stir drama, and found sitting around bitching about men (an activity most women seem to do rather often) quite boring.

Most women found her to be peculiar, indeed, or just plain didn't like her for reasons she just didn't give a damn to ever know. Maybe it was her smile. Maybe it was her swell sense of humor. Or maybe it was because she had an knack for making darn good apple pie.

Well, this isn't a fairy tale as you all know, it's life. We've all got to suck it up and play the cards we are dealt. I've come to the conclusion long ago that in order to lead a more stress-free life, I had to quit trying to figure out why certain people approved or didn't approve of me.

What I learned was this: Insecurity and jealousy or just plain lack of knowledge or understanding leads people to do and think some pretty jacked up things. I grew sick and tired of trying to seek out people's approval in order to be "liked" or "have them as friends". I'll tell you this, most of the people that call themselves "friends" are the same assholes who will just use you for whatever purpose you can serve or fulfill to them at the time. That friends, is hardly a friend truly worth having.

Thanks, but I have enough of those "friends". I'll readily admit that there are some individuals out there who don't approve of things I've done (or didn't do but was accused of) and choices I've made, but their opinion is truly their opinion and frankly, I've got better things to occupy my time with than trying to change their views.

I've been known to openly express how I feel about certain things and never ask for forgiveness of what I am saying (which really pisses some people off for some reason), be a shameless flirt and sympathizer of (most) men, live out loud, dress in far from conservative outfits most of the time, and do everything else in excess pretty much most of the time. Yes, it's a real far cry from being a lady.

But somehow, I've managed to get to where I am and not look back with any regrets. Regret is a wasted emotion, anyhow. I like to think of myself as the female version of Kurt Vonnegut when it comes to writing (write now ask for forgiveness never) and have a twisted sense of humor like George Carlin. I drink a bit, have been known to enjoy a good cigar once in a while, and appreciate a nice looking butt. It's hard to imagine that I've never been made an honorary member of some boy's only club.

Sure my path hasn't been an easy one. In fact, I am sure it could have been much easier if I were to just "comply" to the roles that are the acceptable standard in our society, but I've never been compliant. I have a few ex boyfriends that will attest to the fact that I can be difficult to handle to say the least and one man who has found a way to balance me completely (I'm pretty sure he'll be up for sainthood at some point).

So to all the other gals out there who don't fit the title "lady", welcome to the club. You are not alone.

Wednesday, September 15, 2010

The Smartest Person Listens First, and Then Talks.

It used to be that I talked and talked and talked. It was just part of my natural, chatty personality, but then a while back I did something different.

I listened. I would just let people open up, and talk to me. It is amazing. I learn so much from clients, friends, and other contacts, etc. just by listening. and I am not talking about half-heartedly listening, but REALLY listening to that person intently. Every one of us, inherently, wants to be heard. We want to know that we are understood and matter. The smartest people do just that - they listen, reflect, and then respond.

I still continue to listen, like a an old friend exchanging banter in an intimate coffee shop. Nothing matters except giving that person my undivided attention. No cell phones. No looking around. Focusing on them. The response, is quite astonishing, really. By simply listening, we offer the assurance that we understand the other person, that we care about what they have to say, and for me, I really do. I love to listen. And yes, I still love to talk, but after I give the person I am meeting a proper chance to do so first.

Listening has enabled me to organize stories that I have heard from people - namely one project in particular - that I call the Bar Stool Stories. In my professional career, I have had to do lots of research that involved getting out there and making direct contact with the consumer, namely, in bars. I did this for agencies and private liquor/spirits/beverage clients. How I did not end up an alcoholic is still completely beyond me, but thank goodness for knowing limits and calling cabs.

I would start by smiling and saying hello. I would offer to buy that person their next round and ask them 'why' that drink of choice. Then I shut up. I sat and listened. Their choice in beverage was always, 100% of the time, tied to a back story. And those patrons were more than happy to share that with you and in some cases, their amazing stories about life, work, love and whatever else happened to pop in their minds.

I collected these stories, and have begun composing material for a book, based on these short, but amazing, stories. I've grouped them into categories. The first one is about love. People love to talk about love. How they are in it, got out of it, fell for it, happened upon it, ended it, etc. And this all came from just listening. Of course, I only know first names. Most people didn't give me a last name, and those that did are some that I still speak to today, but have agreed to leave their last names out of the book.

The insight that I got from making that connection with people yielded great information for my clients. People are more than happy to share an opinion on their drinking habits. I've gathered stories and opinions from anyone ranging from the CEO's of Fortune 500 companies, to middle managers to doctors, to authors, to professional escorts (yes, you read that right), to single Mom's and beyond. Nobody was off limits. It was whomever I happened to sit next to, or have sit next to me.

I look forward to wrapping up that first book and sharing it with the world. And if I can ever offer any one person a solid piece of advice that will serve you well in ALL situations, just listen. You'll be amazed at what you'll hear from your fellow human.



Tuesday, August 17, 2010

The Pursuit of Happiness - Giving My Secret Away.

Sometimes things happen, but always for a reason. We don't know why at the time, (and sometimes it's a real head scratcher) but you have to wonder if the universe has other plans for you.

It's kind of like getting the messaging "Stay Tuned" that we see in a news break on a major network. Stay Tuned? But for what? We go through a period of real doubt and general upset. But you must keep the faith that things will work themselves out as they should. The choices you make, the things that happen, it's all part of a bigger picture to which you only get to see a portion, sort of like the image in this post. Sure you see a smile, but you have no idea who this lady is, or even if it IS a lady, we don't know if there is something crazy going on in the background that is making her smile, etc. You get the idea. Sometimes life goes that way. We don't get the whole picture but we must believe that the whole picture is well worth the feeling of standing at the fork in the road and wondering which direction is the right one to pick.

Recently, I came to that fork in the road again and yes, I only have a part of the picture. Yeah, it's scary, but I have learned to just go with the flow - like a twig on the shoulder of a mighty river. Most people ask me how on earth I can bear such changes and uncertainty.  Here's how: I look at the positive. That's it. The moment I let doubt and worry creep in, I will move my spirit into the path medical professionals like to call depression.

I welcome change. I embrace it. I didn't used to. But, it's good for all of us to get a good shake up every now and then. Major life changes can be taken any way. Allow me to show you what I mean...

You can look at job loss as a loss, or you can choose to see it as the opportunity to pursue something you love and a chance to meet new people, flex your skills and perhaps, dare I say, end up where you are supposed to be for a while. You didn't LOSE anything. You GAINED a new lease on life, finding work you enjoy, or time off to travel, take up a new hobby, like collecting stamps, or work a job you never thought you would to keep busy till the next thing comes along (hello dog walker), volunteer, etc.

Getting divorced? You are not losing a spouse, you are embarking on the path to finding a love that will last. You are finding the "right" one. Or perhaps, you choose to rock the single thing for a while. Just think of all the interesting people you'll meet and new friends you'll add along the way.

These are just merely examples. Not that I have ever been divorced, nor can I claim to understand the pain that goes with all of that, but I have broken up with boyfriends and have been dumped myself - hey, it happens - but always for a reason. It's the only way you are able to find the one you are meant to be with. The same story goes with work. Yes, I've been hired and fired. They were all learning experiences that I was thankful to have. It led me to where I am today and that is a place of being able to welcome change. Plus, let's face it. No careers are forever. Not in our economy or our society. We do a job, sometimes for months, sometimes for years. Sometimes we make it VP, and sometimes we don't.

In all, it is just how you choose to see things that can make all the difference.

Be well happiness seekers and remember life is a journey, not a destination. Enjoy the trip.


Monday, August 16, 2010

B.B.B.B. Thoughts and Advice - Taking Out the Trash.

In my previous post, I opened up my blog to people seeking advice. It didn't take long for me to get some folks who want it and would rather not pay a counselor to hear it, or bore their friends with yet another hour of them drabbling on about the same subject that repeats like a broken record.

Enjoy your advice, In Love with a Real D-Bag. I hope it helps and feel free to spread the word.

Dear Big Bad Blonde Blogger:

Recently I found out my boyfriend of over 5 years has been cheating on me for about the last 9 months. When I found out, he apologized and swore that he would never cheat again and that he wanted for us to work things out. I am torn. I have tried to trust him since I found out all of this, but can't completely trust him 100%. I do want for it to work out since the last several years he has been great. We aren't married, but we have spoken about it many times and he insists that he does want to marry me. I am 25, and most of my friends are married and have kids. Most of them say I should try to forgive him and move on and a few said I should just move on. We don't have any kids, but we do live together. I am torn.  do love him and want for it to work out, but a part of me can't shake the feeling that this will happen again. Any advice you can give me would be great.

In Love with a Real D-Bag

Dear D-Bag Lover:

You probably may know what I am going to tell you. That gut feeling you have? Yeah, you should try listening to it. If he cheats once and manages to get away with it, especially for as long as he did, I would bet my best pair of stiletto Carlos heels, that he will again. Leopards don't change their spots dear. That's just the facts of life. Sure, he may go a while without cheating, but soon he'll get that little stir and tickle that will make him anxious and itching for more action.

Now the tricky part: You still love him. NEWSFLASH: IF he LOVED YOU he WOULDN'T HAVE CHEATED ON YOU. Catch my drift? Sure he wants it to work out. It must be great to have some girl waiting around for him while he goes off and puts notches in his belt all over town. The best way to get over him is to GET AWAY from him. Get your own place. Cut off all communication and get on with your life. Give yourself a few months to be guy free. Take time to find yourself again and then if you feel like it, date. Or just go out and have a romping good time, but be safe and smart of course. Concentrate on you and YOUR needs.

I know it will be hard not to wonder what he is doing, etc. but you must resist reaching out, etc. Every time you have the urge to do so, try this little trick: Picture him with some other girl in very compromising situations and that should put that urge right to rest.

So what are you waiting for girl? Go ahead and grab that bag. It's time for you to take out the trash. And to get you motivated and moving in the right direction, here is a song for you.

All the best to you,


Advice: You Need it, I Got it. FREE.

Recently I have had several people tell me I should open up my personal blog for giving some of my blunt, honest, non-sugar coated advice to people who could use it. So, I gave it some thought and decided to open up the floodgates to whomever should stumble across my brazen little blog and need a bit of advice in the areas of love, life, career, etc. Whatever plagues your mind, taxes your soul and prevents you from a  sound night's sleep that isn't induced by a drink.

If you would like some advice please send your request to:


Arrival at Today, By Way of a Long Road.

A phone call came that sent shivers down my spine. It was voice from the past that even today, stirs raw emotion and memories of just how long one must run, not walk, down the road less traveled - especially if that road had a detour at abuse.

I didn't say a word, there was only a few slurred words, obviously induced from this person's favorite drink, going on about "us" and "all that happened" and then a final begging for my absolute forgiveness.  All I could say was "No." And I hung up the phone. This person had been gone for some time, so long in fact, I thought I would have forgotten what their voice sounded like. But the voices of your past remain whispers in the present, even silently so, serving as a reminder that though gone, they are never completely forgotten.

I sat there thinking about how long of a road one must go to overcome the scars that abuse, of any kind, can leave behind.  I have no shame in saying that what I endured was mostly mental/emotional/verbal until it escalated to physical. Being pushed around, thrown and wrestled to the point where you succumb and lay like a rag doll in defeat, if only to end the rage, end your fear and let the pain pass.

Some people are truly not worth the salt in our tears. These are the people that bring out the worst in us, make us into people that we don't even recognize and place on on a merry-go-'round from hell. I was one of the lucky ones who mustered up the strength, the nerve, and the moxy to tell this person that I was done and wanted out. Sure, I was fearful of the retribution and fallout, but I knew if I didn't walk away, I would be stuck in an endless cycle of unhappiness.

So that was it. In a weekend's time, I packed up everything that was mine and left. He wasn't home to object, to guilt, to anything. He was off, having his fun and I was quietly making arrangements for the rest of my life.

Happiness started the moment I walked out of that house for the last time and I have never looked back. Forgetting though, is something I will probably never be able to do. I still get panic stricken when people raise their voices around me, I cannot stand feeling trapped, if someone raises a hand around me I still flinch and partially cower like some beat animal and certain smells evoke a reaction of stomach turning.

Damaged goods? Perhaps so. But I like to think of the label as "Handle With Care." "Fragile Contents Inside." The boyfriend I have now is very understanding and perhaps a bit of a saint to engage in this delicate dance with me. He understands and doesn't get how a man could have been so mean to someone so small and friendly with an innocent outlook on life and the world (descriptors from others).

So ladies (and gents) - if you are in a relationship where you aren't being treated kindly, I can say to you it will be scary to go at first, but once you're gone, then you can start to fix what got broken in the process of. It's a long road, but the first step starts when you say "enough."