Monday, June 28, 2010

Welcome to the Rockies!

Sometimes I just blow it! I make a mountain out of a molehill…..sometimes a whole mountain range….Welcome to the Rockies, folks….it’s tough drivin from here on out! I judge my reactions and wonder if I have absolutely lost my mind. Why can’t I get it together and act a little more…..mature and grown up?? I don’t mean for things to fly south…to escalate into an argument the size of Mt. Everest…it’s just that things seem to take a life of their own like Mr. Toad’s wild ride…once you are on…it’s on.

Sometimes, I think I am the only one who does this - who gets her feelings hurt and withdraws and hides to pout and nurse my feelings. After a while, I look around and nobody’s noticing that I am pouting….as a matter of fact, they are quite happy to enjoy their day. DON’T THEY SEE THAT I AM TRYING TO MAKE A STATEMENT?? Don’t they see that I am hurt? How can this be? I am the princess of all that. I mull over every single reason for this oversight….and…..BINGO…..I’ve got it…..they just don’t care. Well FINE, I don’t care either….as a matter of fact…..I am going to not care more than them….I am going to not care 10 times the amount they don’t care….as a matter of fact….to prove how much I don’t care I am going to sit right beside them, shake my foot and not say a word to them……or maybe a curt fine every once in a while. Just stare straight ahead - eyes locked on the tv, the road, my coffee cup…..see how much I don’t care.

Am I like 14?? Holy cow, Becky!!! I have gone from feelings hurt to “you don’t care” to “I don’t care” in 0.6 seconds. The only place to go from there is the Rockies….the fight….the wedge driven between two people. Have I not learned anything in the last 5 years….or in the 16 years I was married?? It doesn’t work.

The problem lies in that I desperately want to be liked….to be adored….to be cherished, respected, loved, cared for. I want everyone to like me….the mailman, the paperboy, my neighbors, my friends…..The Man’s children and….well…even his X. I walk into a room full of strangers and a momentary fear grips me…..will I be accepted? Will they judge me for talking too loud, too much…not enough? Will my words be respected or seen as trivial? Will they want me to come back? Worry…worry ….worry…worry!!!

The question is, though, is my sensitivity something I need to change or something I need to manage? Sometimes I want to cut the nerve endings to my feelings so they won’t get tramped on…..but then again, those deep rooted feelings are what allow me to love, to forgive, to understand…to see beauty and feel it down to my toes. Maybe I just don’t need to be in another relationship……maybe a committed relationship is exactly where I need to be….. the uncertainty makes me want to sprout wings and fly….fly far away…fly to Tahiti, lie in a hammock and drink a mai tai under the Pacific sun.

I don’t know the answers…but I do know that I hate it when I blow it!!! I hate it mostly because when I do….sometimes I hurt those I care about and cause their hearts to ask the same questions I am asking now. Love is patient….love keeps no record of wrongs….love always hopes, always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. It is kind, doesn’t look for evil and is not proud. Love never fails….even when I do.

Tuesday, June 22, 2010

A Lesson in Forgiveness

I just finished reading a book by Immaculee Ilibagiza about her experience in surviving the genocide in Rwanda in the early 1990’s. The book, Left to Tell, is an inspiring story of survival, love, and learning to forgive those who have caused immeasurable pain.

Forgiveness……I remember that word. It means, in essence, that the other person doesn’t owe you anything - there is no debt to be repaid, no suffering required, no payback. Forgiveness is not forgetting, but it’s more of a remembering without malice. Many times, forgiveness is a process and sometimes you find yourself back at the beginning when you were about to “win” the game. Forgiveness is not easy…..especially in the case of my X where I find myself having an endless supply of new things to be ticked off about and all of the old patterns and ancient hurts resurface.

Reading the words of Immaculee, I find myself drawn to her struggle - drawn to how honest she is about the difficulty in forgiving. Immaculee had decided in her heart to forgive former friends who brutally murdered her family, her neighbors, her schoolmates. She seemed to have already won the battle of forgiveness….passed into the other side….taken the high road. But then, after the genocide is over, she visits her family home. She writes:

As we drove away from my home, past the unmarked mounds of dirt that covered Mother and [my brother], I felt the bitter, dirty taste of hatred in my mouth…I looked at the faces peering at us as we passed, and I knew with all my heart that those people had blood on their hands - their neighbors blood…my family’s blood. I wanted the soldiers to douse Mataba in gasoline and let me light the match that would reduce it to ashes….My soul was at war with itself. I’d struggled so hard to forgive, but now felt duped for having done so; I had no clemency left in me. Seeing my home in ruins and visiting the lonely, forgotten graces of my loved ones had choked the life out of my forgiving spirit.

For me, the most difficult part about forgiving is the fear that my pain will be forgotten - that all of my tears would be for nothing…they wouldn’t count anymore because everything will be “okay.” When the chalkboard of offenses is erased, my tears and my hurt go with it. Sometimes, I just want my pain to matter….to be important….to be remembered. The hard part is that pain takes a lot of energy to hold onto. Have you ever tried to hold onto a cat that desperately wants to flee? Holding onto hurt and pain is like holding onto that cat - it takes a lot of energy – energy that sucks the life out of your heart.

Although I can’t imagine forgiving my former friends and neighbors from brutally murdering my family, I do know what it feels like to forgive a former friend for her part in tearing apart the nice little life I had built for myself and my family. To be honest, the hurt was exhausting and holding onto it kept me angry and bitter for a good long year. I am not by nature an angry and bitter person. One day, I woke up and knew it was time….time to forgive. I drove to her house, heart thumping loudly, knocked on her door, and said….”I just don’t want to hate you anymore.” We talked for a long time sitting on her living room floor. She cried….I cried…. I finally had to ask, “Are you even sorry? Did my hurt matter to you?” Honestly, I didn’t feel as if my hurt mattered to anyone - I felt abandoned…by my husband, by friends, my church. Since my X was a worship pastor, we had been cast out of the church…my friends felt awkward around me…and although I tried to shelter my teenage children, they heard the rumors and they were hurting. My carefully crafted life was in ashes, but to stay there amidst the ashes…to build a memorial there…to camp out on the shore of bitterness and hurt would be resigning myself to a life of bitterness and hurt…so I had to choose. What do you want, Becky? A life where you are totally pissed off at your X about what he did or did not do? Is that what you really want?? Do you want to be one of those people who have to get in a snarky word at every turn--to prove that I am the victim and he made the biggest mistake of his life when he lost me? Really?

When Immaculee saw the man who led the band of murderers in her village - the man who killed her mother, father, and brothers…not just in a night of mayhem, but who actually hunted them down and killed them. He had hunted her as well - wanted her family’s property as his own. When Immaculee came face to face with her former neighbor…the father of her childhood friends….the brutal murderer of her family, she touched his hand lightly and quietly said, “I forgive you.” The politician in charge of arresting those who committed these atrocities was livid! He wanted her to spit on this man’s face…to shame him…to exact vengeance. When he asked Immaculee why she would forgive such a man, she replied, “Forgiveness is all I have to offer.” She had no family, no money….only forgiveness…but in offering that forgiveness, she gave herself something that money can’t buy - a whole heart….a heart that can love again, hope again, trust again. By forgiving, she allowed herself to live.

I want to shout it out to every ex-wife out there - Live!!! Move on!! Forgive!! Make your new life beautiful and let your ex do the same! May I remember that lesson myself every single day!

Sunday, June 20, 2010

Picnic Fame

My love affair with the picnic began when I was a small child, when we would make pimento cheese sandwiches and cookies, throw them in the ice chest with some cokes and head to the lake for the day. Later, as an adult, I was introduced to a whole new level of picnicking at Symphony on the Prairie…..what I affectionately call frou-frou picnicking….with real wine glasses, serving bowls, cloth napkins, candles, cheese boards, and a beautiful spread. I adopted the practice of frou-frou picnicking with gusto….developing my own picnic style….finding accessories along the way….baskets, cheeseboards, wineglass holders for the lawn….

Last year, the Man and I decided to take our frou-frou picnic to the infield of the Indy 500. I had always sat in the stands for the race, but was intrigued with the idea of a day-long picnic watching pretty cars go by at 200 miles per hour. Now the Indianapolis Motor Speedway doesn’t allow glass containers, so we had to get a bit creative. I tend to be a *bit* of a wine snob, so boxed wine was out of the question. The Man and I wandered up and down the liquor aisle until we found it…..a box of pre-made margaritas. It was small enough to put into my small cooler so we were set!! We put my pink-striped tablecloth in the picnic basket, along with my amber polypropylene margarita glasses and a deck of cards and created our picnic fare. We cubed gouda and cotswolds cheeses, stirred up some fresh guacamole, rolled up roast beef and cheese pinwheels, and made our famous Tunisian Cous-Cous Salad. Since it was quite toasty outside, for dessert we made a fruit salad with strawberries, Marscapone cheese, and walnuts. It was a feast fit for a king!!!

At the track, we found the perfect picnic spot halfway up the berm on Turn 3. We spread out the pink tablecloth (please don’t judge him for the pink…..he was just makin’ me happy!), arranged our fest just so, and poured ourselves margaritas. Life is good!!! A voice behind me shouted, “are those champagne glasses?”

Read the rest of the post on recipe lion:

Check me out on Recipe Lion!!

Hooray!!  I have been asked to become a guest blogger on a recipe site.  I guess all of those hours spent cooking have worked their magic!  Check out the Recipe Lion blog page at:

Here is a copy of their announcement:

RecipeLion is pleased to introduce a new guest blogger! Her name is Becky, and she has an awesome blog of her own called The Divorced Diva’s Guide to Survival.

Growing up in central Arkansas, Becky was greatly influenced by the Creole cuisine from Louisiana, Mississippi delta rice-based dishes, Texas BBQ and, of course, the flavorful food of the south. She watched her grandmas create flavorful dishes from food they raised and grew on their farms and learned at an early age the age old wisdom in entertaining…if you have enough good food, everyone is happy. Becky’s travels throughout Europe and Asia have refined and expanded her culinary horizons.

Becky raised her two children on a 650 acre farm in Rush County, Indiana where they raised horses, dogs, cats, cattle, chickens, ducks and sheep. Now that her children are grown, Becky lives in Carmel, Indiana where she scours local farmers’ markets for the freshest produce, grows herbs, tomatoes, and peppers in her back yard garden and supports local producers and resellers of fine foods. When she is not cooking and drinking fine wine, Becky is a Realtor at the Dream Home Company in Indianapolis.

Check out her blog, The Divorced Diva’s Guide to Survival.

Welcome, Becky!

Thursday, June 17, 2010

Toes on the Ledge

This morning, I laced up my Rykas and went for a run on the Monon determined to have a good run. The Monon has to be my favorite place to run. Unlike running on the sidewalk by my house, the Monon forces me to unfocus…to get into the zone of running. There are no cars zipping past….no houses, schools, stores. It’s just pavement, trees, and little chipmunks zipping under my feet.

My iPod shuffle creates a running mix of my favorite songs and I footfall at a time….step….step…step. My right brain kicks into overdrive and I just start thinking….not solving anything, but simply musing and mulling.

My little white earbuds bring the words of David Gray’s song, Breathe, to the forefront of my mind. I listen to the lyrics and contemplate.

Wink, wink and the moment’s gone

And then the doorbell rings.
Somebody asks you, could
you spare a little time
to feel the weight that’s mine

to lower down your guard.
Yeah, that your heart gets snagged,
caught in the wheels and dust dragged.
Dangled o’er the edge….breathe.

You feel you’re in too deep,
so offer up some crumb
and drop it in the tin,
then slither back within
your crenelated wealth
your educated self
your family, your rude health
all the joy it brings.

Aren’t we forgetting something?
Feet out on the ledge, feet on the ledge.

Then in the heat of noon,
it finds like some dog
got parked up in a field
hermetically sealed
and scratching at the windshield
and howling at the glass
at anyone might walk past.
Were you not aware?

Breathe, the sea of broken lives
mechanics, doctors, housewives.
Feet out on the ledge

Feet out on the ledge….feet out on the ledge…..breathe…..breathe. Boy have I been there!!! On the ledge….wanting to end a relationship, to quit….Have you ever just wanted to quit?? Quit your job, quit being a mom, quit being a daughter, sister, friend, neighbor. Feet out on the ledge, suffocating in disappointment…suffocating in the fact that I disappoint others….surrounded by the sea of broken lives…..breathe, Becky…just breathe!

What keeps me going when I want to pack my bags and fly to Tahiti?? What keeps me still when I want to run? Grace!! Grace is air for the soul to breathe. A kind word, a sympathetic ear, a hug, a friend who loves me knowing that sometimes I am a jerk. Breathe Becky…..breathe in the air of grace!

My feet hit the ground in rhythm of the song….crunch…crunch…crunch. Running….it’s what I do. Things aren’t going well, I hit the door…I escape…mentally, emotionally, physically. I hide….sometimes in full view…mostly because I am afraid. What if they see the real, imperfect me and cast me away?? Toes on the ledge……breathe.

Grace is the fluid that keeps relationships working well…’s the oil for the engine, keeping things running smoothly. When grace is freely given and freely received, there are obstacles to get over, but lasting damage is minimal. Grace is allowing myself to love and encourage when the other person doesn’t really deserve it…grace is knowing their annoying tendencies and not judging them for it. Grace keeps no records of wrongs, always hopes, always protects. Grace allows the other person to be herself in a healthy manner and allows space to breathe whereas a legalistic approach to a relationship is suffocating.

Growing up in-and-out of church, I heard preachers speak about “works based faith.” You know, where you have to “work” your way into the pearly gates through a series of doing good things and avoiding bad things. It’s a never-ending list of self-improvement done not because of great love and respect but out of obligation. I think human relationships suffer from this same viewpoint - we do things out of obligation…simply because of our obligation….and we resent the hell out of it! We expect others to do things out of obligation - we manipulate them (girls are especially good at this) to see things our way, we cajole, threaten abandonment, and bring in the big guns….the giant guilt trip….and people resent the hell out of us when we do. When we operate in obligation, we “offer up some crumb and drop it in the tin then slither back within.” We give a pittance to the other person and return to our hiding place. As David Gray says, “Aren’t we forgetting something?” Breathe……grace.

Saturday, June 12, 2010


So the topic on my mind today is family blending.  My girlfriends and I have spent many an hour talking about the successfully navigating having a relationship where children (even adult children) are involved.  I have learned through these discussions that everyone has different expectations in blending families.  Does anyone out there have success stories or even tips of what not to do that they learned the hard way?  What expectations do you have in blending?

Monday, June 7, 2010

Do I Look Chubby???

So last night, The Man and I had a conversation that went like this:

Becky: “I just saw a photo tagged of me on Facebook - I think that outfit made me look chubby…..why didn’t you tell me it made me look chubby??”
V: “I couldn’t tell you that”
Becky: “Well… you think I am chubby?”
V: “Do you think you look chubby?”
Becky: “I want to know if you think I’m chubby.”
V: “Of course not - but the question is whether or not you are happy with yourself”
Becky: “Is that code for saying I look chubby without having to tell me?”
V: laughs “No….it’s not code….can we change the subject?”
Becky: “But I want to know…… Would you tell me if I was?”
V: “Babe, this is a no-win for me…..there is no way I would tell you that….I think you look fine.”
Becky: “But you just said that you wouldn’t tell me so how do I know you aren’t lying to me right now?”
V: “Okay, I won’t lie to you - I think you look good.”
Becky: “So would you tell me I look good if I didn’t?”
V: “No, I wouldn’t……hey….let’s watch an episode of The Closer.”

Did I really want my man to tell me that I looked chubby??? Hell-to-the-no!!! I felt a little insecure after seeing the photo and wanted some assurance that I was still attractive to him. The difficult part is that I want authentic assurance… know that what he is saying to me is indeed true…..a difficult thing in his perspective because we all know that there is only one truly acceptable answer…..yes…..or change the subject.

I know that I’m not in the shape I was in when we first met. After my partial hysterectomy, I gained a considerable amount of weight (now pushing 20 lbs). (Don’t you love it that I can blame it on the surgery…..and not my love for food and recalcitrance to exercise). When I stepped on the scale this morning, I let out a gasp 150!!!!!! OMG!!!! OMG!!! OMG!!!! Just last week I was hating 144….and the kicker is that I WAS GOOD!!! This is week four into my re-initiation to running and I feel strong. I have cut WAY down on simple carbs and have been watching my portions. I have even cut back (somewhat) on the consumption of calorie-laden alcoholic drinks. What gives????? I am back to the weight I was in 2004 when I discovered the X’s affair. He always told me I was sexy and beautiful…..and then slept with my friend who could be a Victoria Secret model…..tall…..thin…..beautiful…..grrrrrrr…..

As I laced up my Rykas to go on my run, I felt strong. I reminded myself to not grow weary in doing what is right because in due time I will be rewarded. I rededicated myself to continue with my good habits and not fall off the wagon into fields of chocolate ice cream. The Man is right…’s all about whether or no I want to make a change….not whether or not he thinks I should make a change. I just need to be consistent….I did not gain the weight in a month, (as a matter of fact, I coasted at the same ideal weight for about six months before it started creeping up) so I will not lose it in a month. *sigh* I am so impatient.

But for me….for now….I’ve gotta just keep on truckin!

Friday, June 4, 2010

Paintbrushes and Vision Boards

One thing that kept me sane during my divorce was the promise of an opportunity to paint my life the way I wanted it……to use bright colors and hues……to be bold and creative…to create a living masterpiece. I have a coffee can full of paintbrushes…small and large…heavy and light…to paint my life. Lately though, the thought of my life portrait has been making me a little……well….crazy!!!! I can do anything I want, be anyone I want to be… kids are grown and out of the house so I have the time to pursue the things I…. cheese…. art…. chocolate…..good books…. outings with friends….so what gives??

The question that looms in my mind is, “what if the picture I paint doesn’t turn out just right…what if I draw it wrong, use the wrong colors?” “What if what I think I want right now isn’t what I want.” “Do I even know what I want??” I feel like a 6 year-old saying I want to be a princess when I grow up….I want to live in a mansion on the beach with horses and a shiny new bike…..I want to ride elephants in India and dive for pearls in Tahiti…..and be a professional ice skater. For a girl who was raised to be decisive, my life right now is anything but.

Part of the issue is The Man and I have been dating for almost a year and a half. I can’t dodge the, “is it serious?” question anymore because….well….it is serious. I kindof like him and could see him around when I am 80 and chasing monkeys off my back porch in Thailand. Our relationship has brought back the feelings of being rooted and settled….of hanging out on the deck at night instead of having a glass of wine at a bar….of kids and family and household chores….but that question of how I am going to paint my life looms in the background….I have to share my painting….am I okay with that?? What if we hate each other in 10 years?? What if we love each other in 10 years and are stuck in a rut?? What if….what if….what if?? It’s maddening!!!!!

This morning, I went back to my vision board to see what I envisioned for 2010. Every January, my girlfriends and I create a poster-board of our vision for our lives in the coming year. We hang out, cut pictures out of magazines, talk, share, and create our vision for the year. Some ladies keep all of their boards, but I throw the previous one away to keep the focus on the current year.

Looking at my vision board, I see lots of words:

Reimagine Yourselves as Weekend Connoisseurs**Have Cheese, Will Picnic**Living the Unexpected Challenge Yourself **May the life within you be strong**LIVE!**12 Months of Good Health
Acts of Friendship**Savor**Dance**Difference**A killer Pair of Heels**SOUL

and lots of images:

Pancakes, outdoor dining, beach chairs, terracotta pots, fruits and vegetables, picnic baskets, journal writing, farmers’ markets, friends having coffee, margaritas, canned tomatoes, a rolling pin, books, serene backyard scenes

When I look at my vision board for 2010, I was surprised. I am not waiting to paint my life….deciding what it should look like…’s already here….already complete….the masterpiece of my heart. The life I really want is now and I am already living it. I look at my vision board and breathe. It’s not about the big master plan it’s about living each moment as I want to….adding beauty and sparkle to the every day. I don’t have to choose…..I just have to live….to be myself…and savor the moments that make ordinary life special.

Tuesday, June 1, 2010

The Impact of Words

Words….I just love words. I love the “feel” of some words…the image they project, the feelings they inspire, and even just the sound of them. I definitely have favorites….ones I use incessantly. There are also words I dislike, words that make me cringe inside, that hurt my feelings. Sometimes I think we forget the power that resides in words - - we forget how they affect those around us and even how they affect ourselves.

I am trying to get back into the habit of running. For me, running is just that - a habit. If I keep my momentum, I will run every day without much thought to it. If I start to blow it off…’s harder to lace up my Rykas and step outside the door. It’s important to me to keep on track - when I run, my clothes fit better and I am a more confident and stronger person. I got out of the habit of running during the recovery of my partial hysterectomy a year and a half ago. I tried to pick back up the habit last spring, but there were days where my insides jiggled too much, I would have pain, would freak out and stop (yes, I am a closet hypochondriac). I tried to pick the habit up last summer but I was too busy. I tried to pick up the habit last fall, but the weather did not cooperate and so on and so forth……hence……I gained 15 pounds and my clothes are a bit….well….tight.

Running is more of a mental exercise for me than anything else. I get bored….or more telling…I simply get mentally tired of running. I will tell myself, “don’t stop - don’t stop- DON’T STOP” and the second the words go through my brain, I stop. Recently, I have changed my mantra - I tell myself, “Go Becky…..just go!!” This changes things for me mentally. The power of a proactive word for me is incredible! Telling myself to “do” something instead of “don’t” do it pushes me to do the right thing.

Proactive words work for children as well. When I would tell my son not to have a “tone” when he spoke to me, a tense discussion ensued about whether or not he actually had a tone. However, when I requested that he speak to me respectfully, his tone would change. The words, “Don’t be late” changed to “remember to be on time.” Our relationship improved dramatically.

Words can do damage. When I’m angry, I sometimes say things I don’t mean. The next day, I’ve forgotten them because…..well….I didn’t mean them…so they were of no lasting consequence to me. However, my words of anger take root in the person on the receiving end. Those words become part of the hurtful “tape” that plays in their head. By flinging my words carelessly, I have caused another person to hurt…not just upon receipt…but over and over again.

When I am the recipient of hurtful words, more often than not, the old Becky arrives on the scene….batten down the hatches…..drop the sail….circle the wagons…..don’t be vulnerable….don’t care….focus on something else…..all because of a few words…..a few….little….bitty words. Words are powerful things.