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avatar hello fear

February 3rd, 2013 — 3:03pm

Fear.
In Webster’s Dictionary, it is defined as an unpleasant feeling of apprehension or distress caused by the presence or anticipation of danger.

In the Thesaurus, the word fear is synonymous with terror, dread, horror, fright, panic, alarm, trepidation and apprehension.

Fear.
Some people wake up with it, some folks go to bed with it, and some of us even carry it around like a handbag – clutching it, holding on to it with every fiber in our being. We are afraid of being abandoned, being disappointed, being left behind, being dismissed, being discarded, being successful, being a failure, being defeated and being forgotten. We’re afraid of being loved, being hated, being recognized, being looked over, being found out, being happy, being depressed. We’re afraid of life, and we’re afraid of death.

Fear.
We push it down, suppress it, ignore it, transfer it, obliterate it, annihilate it, repeat it, and dismiss it. We give it power, control, time and energy. It keeps us knotted in a ball and our stomachs churning – we become tense and angry, resentful and bitter. It works its way through our bodies like a tapeworm – slipping and sliding through our systems and when it hits a nerve, the nerve – whoa – paralysis. And then what? We try to get rid of the fear. We’re afraid someone’s going to leave us, so we pick up the phone and start calling incessantly. We’re afraid someone won’t like us or love us, so we do everything humanly possible to get that persons attention. We’re afraid we’re not good enough or worthy enough, so we manipulate or strategize how we can be needed or wanted. We’re afraid of failure, so we sabotage every opportunity. We’re afraid of our own opinions, so we lie. We’re afraid of being powerful, so we make ourselves small. We’re afraid of being found out, so we keep ourselves at a distance.

Oh, the list is long.

One way I dealt with my fear was by making it the very foundation of my life – my jumping off point. The place where I made decisions, made choices, and yes, took action.

While most human beings – at least the ones I know – have a garden variety of fears, I will share one of my very own ‘personal, favorite’ fear story/experiences as an example. For many years, many more than I care to divulge, I dated men who were absolutely 100% toxic. By toxic I mean self-involved, arrogant, insecure, and abusive men. (And let me just say, as an aside, bad boys – in my opinion – are different then bad men. Bad boys have some charm, and often have tattoos, and sometimes, but not always, look like Sam Shepherd and/or Viggo Mortenson/Morgenson. Bad men lean much more toward nasty, cruel). Okay back to my toxic men … the more they didn’t want me, the more I wanted them. If they didn’t call, I would call them – incessantly I might add – making up excuses as to why I needed to speak with them. If they didn’t show me affection, well, then, I would shower them with affection. Not to mention buying them gifts that ranged from small and cute, to expensive and extravagant. All the while, my insides were desperately churning away. As I write this, the image that comes to mind is a hamster wheel. Yes, a hamster wheel – trying to keep up with the fears that were overpowering and overwhelming me, and all I kept doing was taking what I thought was the appropriate (yeah, right) action, making the appropriate causes (uh, yeah) to have a good, healthy, loving, sexy relationship. But what I was really doing (YES!) was making causes and taking action to get rid of the fear. And so, it would just perpetuate, a different man, but… exactly the same frickin’ experience. And like every bad horror movie, the boogeyman fear monster would come back: bigger and weirder and more frightening then the previous time.

A friend of mine – a very spiritual & kind friend – told me I needed to understand the fear – the fear of having a healthy, loving, sexy, reciprocal relationship – to look it smack in the eye, and understand the root of it. He emphasized the word ROOT. When I rattled off all my fears, alphabetically I might add, he said, “No, no…no…it’s just one fear.” Huh. The concept of getting to the root took on a visual meaning for me: weeds. Weeds, spreading, carelessly, uncontrollably throughout a gorgeous, lush garden. You can’t just deadhead weeds, they’ll grow back even more abundantly, fiercely. You have to pull them by their very roots so that they stop growing. Stop spreading. You gotta rip them out.

After a few weeks, I became completely focused. My single-minded thought, prayer was to get to the root of my fear. First, understand it, and then, yes, get to the very root of it. I was going to absolutely understand with every fiber in my being what it was I was so deeply afraid of.

It finally occurred to me while in the back of a cab, sitting in bumper to bumper traffic – the aha moment, the breakfast at epiphany moment – I was deeply, hugely afraid of being abandoned. It was connected to a childhood trauma, one that I neatly tucked away and conveniently forgot about. As soon as I understood what the fear was, I completely and utterly understood the action(s) I took perfectly matched the fear I was experiencing. I was afraid of being left, so, BINGO, I did everything humanly possible to hold on to these men. A phrase that ran through my mind was ‘desperate breeds desperate’. The minute I understood my behavior, it all made sense.

Then the gods tested me.
I met Ken.
I determined that I would no longer be held hostage by my fear.
For two weeks every time the fear took hold of me (and trust me, I was in a frickin’ head lock), I let it run through me like the flu. When I felt the impulse to call him because I hadn’t heard from him, I talked myself out of it. When I felt the urge to buy him a little gift, a little trinket, I bought myself something instead. When I felt the need to spontaneously run into him by driving, or walking, or jogging around his block seven hundred times I reminded myself that that could also be considered stalking with possible jail-time and or community service attached to that action. Every single day, over and over and over, I reminded myself that if he, Ken, didn’t want to be with me, well then, fuck him, I didn’t want to be with him. No. No. No. No. NO. NO. NO. Period. And yes, god yes, it took everything in my power to control my urges, actions, behavior. After all, my chasing and wanting bad men had become a self-destructive free fall.

After two weeks of doing major battle with my own personal boogeyman fear monster, it no longer had power or control over me, and just like that, seriously – just like that – the fear upped and left, and quite naturally Ken took its place at the table.

And he’s been sitting there ever since.

What I realized, understood, the minute you have the courage to look something smack in the eye – whether it be a person, a challenge, an obstacle, or even the monster boogeyman, the minute you connect with it, the minute you face it, the minute you challenge it – it no longer has any control, any power over you.

You win over the fear.

And then you go out, and buy yourself a bottle of really good champagne – really good champagne – and raise a glass to you.
Fabulous, fearless you!

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avatar 50 shades of gray hair

February 1st, 2013 — 3:25pm

i stood, and waited at the corner for the light to change.

there he was, at the diner across the street, sitting at a small table by the window.
an edward hopper kinda moment.
he was reading the menu.
i was struck by his profile.

i watched as he read the menu carefully, his index finger going up and down the list of breakfast items.
i watched him nodding.
he had made a choice.
he closed the menu.
i watched as the young, lanky waiter came over, and took his order.
i watched as he handed the young, lanky waiter his menu.
the waiter smiled. a sweet smile.
the kind of smile that is filled with hope for a more generous tip at the end of the meal.
i watched the waiter walk away.

i watched as he snapped opened the new york times – folding it, creasing it – and then began reading the news on the front page.
i watched as he took a deep breath, exhaling, and then he shook his head in disgust at what he was reading.
bad news.
too much bad news.

i watched as the waiter brought his coffee, along with a small glass of milk.
he didn’t look up at the waiter, he was too engrossed in what he was reading.
i watched as he poured some milk into the coffee without ever taking his eyes off the paper.
he took a sip.

the light changed.

i started crossing the street, and as if on cue:
he looked up from the bad news, and turned toward me.
he took a sip of coffee, and offered me a smile.
a sexy smile.
he looked me up and down, checking me out. he winked.
the kind of wink that says: i like your ass. be mine.

he could’ve had me right then and there, but i saved all of that for later.

after all these years my ken fills me to the brim.
my heart still melts.

so, here’s to love.
hot sexy middle-aged love.

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avatar born again christian louboutin

January 28th, 2013 — 11:16pm

This is about shoes.

One of my all-time very favorite topics, as well as shopping pleasures.
That’s called a twofer.
I love shoes.
I’ve loved shoes my whole life.
And truthfully, for the first six years of my life, I thought my father’s name was Buster Brown. Can you imagine how devastated I was when I found out his name was Sam?

My very favorite part of going back to school was back-to-school shoes. Actually, in truth, it was my only favorite part of going back to school. While I wasn’t too fond of having to break in my new shoes, it seemed like an awfully small price to pay to own a new pair of ox-blood round-toed Weejun loafers. Even now, when I close my eyes and inhale, I can still smell that leather.

But this is not about back-to-school shoes, or new Weejuns, so let’s get right to the point.

It’s about shoe dating.

I have often wondered if shoes could pick out a partner …

For example, do you really think a pair of black Florsheim lace-ups, say men’s size 11, would ever have the courage, the all-out ballsy courage to ask out a pair of women’s size 9 backless Manolo Blahnik’s on a date? Hello, Earth to Florsheim, come in, Florsheim – that would go under the category of ‘fantasy.’ However, I’m pretty sure that coupling a men’s size 10 Merrill’s with a women’s size 9 Bass or any style of Nike would last about two, two and a half years.

Tevas, on the other hand, either in leather or fabric, would look good with a pair of J.P.Tods patent driving shoes (in any women’s size), or a pair of flat “Audrey” Ferragamos. That pairing could last a lifetime and even produce a couple of children.

But Marc Jacobs would never, not in this lifetime, be caught dead on the same side of the street with any pair of CROCS, regardless of whether one or both feet were planted firmly on the pedal of a Harley Sportster 883. That goes under the category of “assisted suicide.” And a pair of 3.5 inch black patent pointy Christian Louboutin’s can catch the eye of a pair of Prada suede chukka boots in about three seconds flat.

Sometimes it’s just about plain unadulterated passion – the kind of pairing that often happens in loft type elevators, and/or smoky jazz clubs. No first names or phone numbers are exchanged, but God’s name is invoked more often in a short period of time than in an entire lifetime of church going. The heels on those shoes are frequently replaced and repaired due to excessive European travel. They are also envied and talked about behind their sling backs.

Ever wondered if a pair of Kenneth Cole married a pair of Cole Haan’s what that hyphenate would look like? It would look like Kenneth Cole-Haan. And that would go under the category of “power couple.”

And if Timberland boots dated Rockport shoes, my guess they would vacation in Maine, probably in Kennebunkport, and somewhere down the road, say in about eight years, there would be a sexual scandal. That would go under the category of “Presidential hopeful.”

And let’s not forget Thom McCann, because chances are everyone else will.

Let me tell you about a pairing I saw last night. A pair of sexy sequined kitten-heeled thongs looking very much like YSL, standing right next to a pair of sexy, worn frye boots.

Sexy and strong willed, standing toe to toe.

And that would go under the category of “equal footing.”

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avatar pro-my-life-choices

January 22nd, 2013 — 12:46pm

i choose life everyday.
i do.
i am so Pro-life, as in: i love my life.
maybe not every single day. some days I wanna crawl into a ball and hide, and stay under the covers, but generally, mostly, pretty consistently, i am pro-life. i am all for everyone making their own decisions, their own choices for their own life. i don’t wanna make your decisions for you. i don’t wanna pick out your clothes or shoes for you. if you wanna wear pastel colors and look pasty, hey, that’s your problem. not mine.

let’s talk choices.

many, many…many years ago i had an abortion. truthfully, honestly, cross my heart – i actually had two abortions. two that i’ll talk about. share. and on both occasions i sat alone in a waiting room with other young women who had also made bad choices, bad boy choices. and because we had made bad boy choices we were sitting all alone waiting to terminate our unwanted pregnancies.

let me just, for a second, tell you what that feels like, sitting alone, waiting to be called, to be taken into a room where you’re surrounded by kind strangers, and filled with thoughts of great sadness.

great guilt.
great shame.

it all begins with wanting someone to love you. that boy over there. the cute one. you want him to notice you, love you, pay attention. good god, you’ll do anything for him. you want him to like you, to love you back. you drink, you smoke, you flirt, you tell him yes yes, please, yes… and then maybe you end up in the back of a car, or in the basement, or in his room, or in the locker room in the gym and you let him have you. take you. you give yourself away. you think if i give him this, he’ll want me, love me, want more of me. you don’t think protection, or safety or disease, or pregnancy. you only think “i want you to love me.” and then you don’t hear from him, he doesn’t call, ever. you sit, and wait, and he doesn’t call and then you miss your period, and feel sick and think it’s the flu, or a cold, or a stomach virus, and then you feel really sick and start to gain a bit of weight, and he doesn’t notice you, he ignores you, and then you go to your doctor, or some doctor with a friend because you can’t tell your folks, and the doctor does a blood test and some urine test and tells you that your pregnant and you’re 15. maybe 16. and the guy that you liked, wanted, loved doesn’t even care if you’re alive and god knows he’s not going to want you more because you didn’t care enough about yourself to protect yourself, use a condom, tell him “NO, you can not cum inside of me,” and you find yourself sitting in a clinic with people who are kind and loving and brush your hair our of your eyes and say, “you’ll be fine, you’ll be fine,” and you want to believe them, and then someone holds your hand and says count backwards from 100 and the next thing you know that same someone is standing over you with a glass of orange juice, lifting your head ever so slightly, and saying, ‘take a sip, a little sip.” and then you get dressed and you feel shame and guilt and empty and lonely and you wish that you liked yourself enough to not have let that boy – the one who doesn’t even know you exist, who doesn’t even say hello to you in the hallways, who doesn’t even look at you out of the corner of his eyes – into your heart and soul and body. and you feel dirty, empty and dirty.

and yes, those were my choices: both the bad boy that i wanted, and loved madly who didn’t love me back, not one iota, and the abortion. and that choice that i made, the abortion, that one, that one saved my life, and that boys life.

and then there’s another choice… there are girls out there who get pregnant and have babies at 14 and 15 and 16 and then a year, or two later, they are overwhelmed, and unprepared, and no longer with that boy, and SOME of those young girls, some, they kill their babies. their child. they murder their babies, because they can’t do it anymore, they can’t do it alone because they’re overwhelmed, and underwater, and life is a burden. life is a heavy, hard burden and they’re only 18 years old, and they end up in prison.

and all those lives … all those lives… are ruined, destroyed, no longer.

there a thousands upon thousands upon thousands of young girls in this country that get pregnant, have babies, and then they abandon them, or hurt them, or kill them.

what kind of choice is that?
where’s the pro-life in that?

my choice was tragic. it was tragic from the get go. i didn’t know at the age of 16 that I could love me, love myself and that would be okay. more than okay. more than enough. i didn’t know that.

but those choices: having a baby, killing a baby – those choices are horrific.

we must teach our girls and our boys to CHOOSE TO LOVE THEIR OWN LIFE.
period.

and that is what PRO-LIFE should be about, not this crap about overturning Roe V. Wade, or closing down abortion clinics.

i have an idea, how about:
CHOOSE YOUR OWN LIFE.
LOVE IT. LIVE IT. WEAR IT WELL.

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avatar breakfast @ epiphany’s

January 6th, 2013 — 4:02pm

it was november 7, 1991. i had just spent a weekend with a man who broke my heart. you know what, let me rephrase that: i had just spent a weekend with a man who fucking knew he was going to break my heart when i got on the plane in new york to fly to ann arbor, michigan. he knew he was going to break my heart. he was an asshole. and i was a girl who was very, very, very much “in like,” and totally blind. i was on top of the world. my career was taking off. a script i co-wrote was about to be made into a big hollywood movie, i was writing a TV series and … i was dating a guy who was teaching at the university of michigan, and holy mother of god, he was a doctor. oh my frickin’ god, life was swell. i always said if there were three men sitting at a bar, i would choose the one who just got out of prison for a heinous crime. i went for bad. i went for mean. i went for less than. i went for pond scum. and, truth be told, i was promiscuous. i slept with – had sex with – many men. many on the first date. some in the elevator on the way to their apartment. and so here i was – in michigan – with a guy who knew before i got on the plane that he was going to break my heart in pieces. on friday night we had dinner, we had sex, we had champagne. on saturday we had breakfast, we had sex, we took a long, long… long… walk. on the long long long walk he told that he met someone and fell in love. his exact words were, “I met someone and fell in love.” i asked him through my snot nose sobbing why he didn’t just tell me this over the phone, why he just didn’t call me… he said he wanted to tell me face to face, he felt he owed me that much … after all we were “dating, and you know, long distance relationships are, you know, hard… difficult.” i asked him where this woman lived, the one he fell in love with. he told me australia. i asked/said, “australia, michigan?” i felt dirty, i felt used. i felt spit out. “we had sex,” i said, “how could you do that if you’re in love with someone else? how can you do that?” after i caught my breath, and shot the snot out of my nose, i told him he owed me air fare and a week at a spa of my choice. he didn’t find my humor appealing. and, i found out, he preferred women with very large breasts and accents. clearly, i was not that girl. i wanted him to die a slow painful death, but instead i told him to have a nice life. and so… it was november 7, 1991, i was at the airport, waiting to catch a flight to fly back home to nyc where i would slip under the covers for a week or two, and cry myself silly and then realize – an epiphany – that this guy was so the wrong guy and get out of bed and start life over again. the airport was crowded. the tears were non-stop, the flights weren’t. i was hoping to get on an earlier flight. for a girl who hated to fly, the airport became my only safe haven. i went to the sports bar and ordered a drink. the bar was filled with men. i hated all men at that moment. the TV screen was right in front of me. magic johnson was about to hold a press conference. I wasn’t following basketball, but i certainly knew who magic johnson was. and then he said it. he said the words. he told the world that he had contracted HIV. he was HIV positive. everything & everyone at the airport stopped. all eyes on him. you could, honest to god, hear a pin drop. i believe, although i can be wrong, at that time HIV/AIDS was thought primarily as a gay man’s disease, and here was this man – this straight sports god of a man – sharing his pain & sorrow & sadness in not only contracting this god awful disease, but his sheer stunning determination that he would beat the disease. it was profound. it was stunning. it was shocking. it scared me. it hit home.

i was a girl who mistook sex for love.

sex was easy. love was hard.

i was always taking crumbs.

how fitting, i thought to myself, that his name is magic. he shook the shame-crumbs off the tree. i made a vow (a silent vow) right then and there – at that airport on that day – that i would never again give away the goods.

i was going to love me.

period.

beginning of story.

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avatar becoming a woman of unlimited self-esteem

December 29th, 2012 — 12:32pm

It would creep up on me at the most inopportune times.
While I was driving in my car, walking down the street, making love with my husband, writing – it would start to churn away, slowly but surely, that little tiny voice that says, “I’m not good enough,” “It’s impossible,” “Who are you kidding?” “You’re a sham, a complete sham,” and on and on. That little voice that got louder and louder with each step I took, with each word I wrote, with each road I traveled, with each kiss my husband planted on my lips. The unending voice of doom. For many years that voice – that insidious voice – had complete control and power over me. It owned me, lock, stock and barrel. It often felt like an unwanted friend. You know the type I’m talking about. Someone who calls incessantly, who never asks how you are, but just rattles on and on and drains you of all your energy. You try – sometimes in the most obvious way – to say, “Hey, I just can’t talk now,” or “Listen, can I call you back?” As if they don’t hear a word you say, they come back, draining you of energy and life force and act as if they are entitled to your time and space. That’s what my self-doubt, and low self-esteem began to feel like. An unwanted friend that no matter what I did, it just wouldn’t go away. I even tried a recipe to overcompensate for it: a sprinkle of bitter, a dash of anger, a pinch of hunger, and then to top it all off, a garnish of arrogance – all tossed together. And you wanna know where that got me? It got me feeling worse about myself. The voice came back louder, and more belligerent, “YOU WILL NOT ACCOMPLISH THIS,” “THIS WILL NEVER HAPPEN.”

I decided a few years back that this was no longer acceptable.
I equated this lack of self-esteem with all the clothing hanging in my closet that no longer fit me, and for whatever reason, I refused to get rid of. It was just hanging there, useless, unattractive and most definitely out of style. But none the less, every day I would open my closet and see with my own two eyes what I no longer needed or wanted, what no longer fit me and yet, resisting; deeply afraid of tossing it all away, I would simply close the closet door and act as if it didn’t exist. On the days when my self-esteem rose above water level, I would fantasize about tossing everything, having all this space to buy new sassy clothing – and of course, in that fantasy world, everything is in it’s place, all matching hangars, shoes lined up on the floor – color coordinated no less – and always something fabulous to wear. To put it another way, it would be uncluttered. Those fearless fantasy moments came and went in a snap.

Until one day – taking a coffee break from writing my book, I was walking down the street, sipping a hot and foamy cappuccino – when all of a sudden I heard this voice, “Who’s going to even want to publish this?” “Why am I writing this?” “It’s crap, everything I’m writing is crap.” “You’re such a sham, your whole life is a sham.” I stopped dead in my tracks and thought to myself, “Whoa, whoa, this negativity, this self-loathing is cluttering my fucking heart.”

I decided right then and there to tackle this – from the inside out.

While self-doubt and self-esteem has been etched inside of me this entire lifetime, I have been unbelievably fortunate in so many other ways. I have come to realize on the most fundamental level that life is in fact a journey – and only truly when we are ready to conquer something, overcome something, accomplish something – does the opportunity present itself. Although, in my impatience, I have often tried to fit a round peg in a square hole – not only doesn’t it (ever) fit properly, it often feels just plain wrong. In my wisdom, I have come to see the value of letting things unfold. I had never been ready to deal with the issue of self-doubt, self-esteem. I was so very comfortable in trying to manipulate the environment, that the mere notion of doing exploratory surgery on myself felt passive. As long as there was someone to blame, I could muster aggression – which I mistook for passion. I had a bookshelf filled with self help books, and while I would get a real charge out of reading a chapter that matched perfectly with my personality – it always felt like a band-aid, and for a brief moment I would be encouraged that others experienced the same self loathing as I did. Nothing like a group of people bemoaning their lack of fortune, and feelings of victimization.
I decided to review my life. My entire life. As I dug deep inside – I saw, much to my amazement – a continuing thread of self-doubt, a deep lack of self-confidence that stretched along with me from childhood, to adolescence to womanhood. Those feelings of not being good enough, not belonging, the need to please, the need to be loved and liked, the need to feel important, to feel wanted, to be accepted, to be validated, to be approved of. I had knotted that thread for over 50 years. Along with looking at my basic fundamental darkness, I also gazed upon the fortune that surrounded me. My home; my husband, my career (a very successful career) as a writer, my friends, my family, all my material wealth and possessions. I had achieved and accomplished so very much, but at the end of the day – when I would lie in bed at night, and everything was still and quiet, I would think about how undeserving I felt. I could feel it in the core of my being. My solar-plexus, as my acupuncturist would say. For years and years, I would think, if I just had this I would be happy, if I just had that, I would be happy. Well, I was surrounded by “this and that” and still felt unworthy, undeserving – and more importantly, unhappy. What struck me was despite these feelings of unworthiness – I still had fulfilled my dreams. And more than that – while fulfilling my dreams – I still felt that I wasn’t good enough. A catch-22 if ever there was one. I decided it wasn’t about filling my life with more ‘stuff’ – it was about getting to the root of this suffering and pain. That seemed like a perfect – albeit fucking difficult – place to start. To start with me — to change how I felt about myself. If this pain and suffering was inside of me, well then, it was up to me to change my opinion of myself.

Let me share with you ‘the’ defining moment in my life.

The pity-party I was throwing for myself was in full gear.
I was most definitely scared, and filled with doubt. I decided it was time to seek some encouragement, some guidance, a couple of words to inspire me. I went to see a friend. A Buddhist. His passion about life always lifted me. He had a way about him. A simple, kind man. My eyes filled with tears, I gave him a blow-by-blow of all the obstacles and challenges, doubts and fears that were consuming me. He listened patiently as I rambled on. Then he took my hand, and said, “Amy, please become a woman of unlimited self-esteem.”

Oh my god.
It sounded so poetic.
Become a woman of unlimited self-esteem.

I began that journey – the journey of finding & becoming that woman. Everyday I prayed, single-mindedly, with every fiber in my being to become a woman of unlimited self-esteem.

And with that prayer, that hope, that desire … every fear; every doubt, every single feeling came right to the surface, right up to the nerve ending. I had two choices – to either give in to this self-slander; self doubt, self-loathing, or challenge and transform these feelings that were lodged in my soul. I chose to challenge myself. And to be quite honest, it felt like do or die. For two weeks I entered a battle – a huge, painful internal battle. There were days when all I could do is cry, feeling sorry for myself. There were days when I was amazed at my determination, feeling proud of myself. There were days when I felt nothing. There were days when I felt powerful. There were days when I felt shame and guilt, and there were days when I felt appreciation and humble. There were days when I felt like a sham, and days when I felt authentic. And there were days when I didn’t think I could go another inch. Then, after two weeks, I felt a sudden shift take place from deep inside me – it dawned on me that I had viewed my self-doubt as an effect, rather than the cause. It became crystal clear to me that the environment was merely reflecting how I truly felt about myself. For so many years my thought pattern was, “So and so doesn’t like my work, so I guess it’s not good,” or “She (or he) is saying it can’t happen, it’s impossible, so I guess I should just give up.” I allowed my environment to chose my life for me, to decide the outcome. I never once thought that the negativity that was coming at me was a reflection of how I truly felt about myself. The minute I understood that in my soul, it was liberating.

That’s when I truly understood what self-esteem isn’t and finally able to understand with my life what it is.

It is: courage, the courage of ones conviction, it is confidence, the confidence to stand in your own shoes and own your dreams, every bit of them, it is respect, respecting each and every feeling that may come up in the process of fulfilling that dream, it is honoring one’s life, honoring the struggle, the challenge, the ability to take one more step on a road that feels unbelievably long and winding, and it is faith – from the time we make up our mind to accomplish something to seeing the result of that determination – that in between time, when the doubt, and the self loathing, and all the fear creeps in – when we feel like giving up, when it feels as if everything is falling away – that’s when we get to see what we’re made of.

To have faith in our own life.

And faith in our own life manifests in unlimited self-esteem.

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avatar see ken shovel

December 27th, 2012 — 12:53pm

see ken.
see ken shovel.
see ken say SHIT.
see ken pee in the snow.
see ken make the snow yellow.
see ken wipe his forehead and get hit with a bunch of falling snow from a tree.
see ken put his shovel down.
see ken get on his knees.
see ken scream to the heavens.
see ken look just like willem dafoe in platoon.
see ken get up.
see ken pick up the shovel.
see ken shovel.
see ken say FUCK YOU.
see ken say FUCK IT.
see amy waving to ken from inside the warm toasty house, where both kitties rub up against her and give her kisses.
see ken give amy the finger.
see amy blow ken a big kiss.
see ken misinterpret that gesture.
see ken walking toward the house.

see amy.

see amy shovel.

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avatar covering my ass & all my bases

December 20th, 2012 — 2:38pm

what if the end of the world is tomorrow?

i mean, really, what if?
that seems to be the spin every so often lately.

well, I gotta be straight up vodka honest, sometimes i am racked with so much fear & dread & worry, it’s a miracle I can get out of bed at all. a miracle. a fucking miracle. and truthfully, honestly, cross my heart & hope tomorrow isn’t the end, when i do get out of bed, when i finally push myself up, and out from under the covers, and go out into the world, i worry.
and yes, on occasion, i take pharmaceuticals for worry & anxiety and no, no… i cannot pronounce the generic name.

i am a worrier, which is much different then a warrior.

although, i really truly am a warrior, a warrior goddess.

i worry, about all the crazy god-awful shit going on in the world right now. all of it. and let me tell you, if there weren’t enough shit and sadness and crazy-making stuff to worry about, be scared about, to make my hair stand on end, i would just make up a bunch of stuff to worry about: imagined diseases (mine, ken), hairballs (lotus, bella), and then of course, the “what if” i can’t return this hideous ill-fitting schmata-dress (that i bought at a sale that i lied about being at in the first place) without the credit card slip? what if i have to live with it in my closet?

i live in a small town. we have a john the baptist guy who keeps his truck parked on the main street.
his truck is parked, and on the roof, a massive, huge index-finger pointing heaven-bound. he’s a believer.
i’ve tried to talk to him. i did. once. and i wondered when his eyes glazed over, if in fact he was envisioning the end of the world, or envisioning me naked. i’ll never know.

but i wonder: what would i do if in fact tomorrow was the last day.

would i call all those folks that i think of on occasion, and never, ever pick up the phone to say: hi, hey, how are you, thinking of you, hope you’re okay, and i miss talking to you? answer: unfortunately, that list is long. would i clean my house, and vacuum all the balls of cat hair that seem to gather in the corners? answer: maybe. maybe not. the cats should clean up after themselves. a lazy bunch of pussy’s.
would i kiss ken a million times and tell him how much i love & appreciate & treasure him & how grateful i am that he asked me to marry him? answer: of course. he needs to know & hear that. and as a side, i would offer up sexual favors. would i write my estranged brother a letter saying how god-awful sad it is that we haven’t spoken in so very long? answer: no, i wouldn’t, but i’m awfully glad i just wrote/said that out-loud. would i stop regretting some of the silly, stupid, icky, messy, fucked-up mistakes i made (and yes, some i made, and yes, some i slept with) because i wanted someone to love me, like me, pay attention to me when i was young & foolish? answer: yes i would stop regretting them – every one of them – because those mistakes got me here. right here. i love my mistakes, they made me more beautiful.
would i love myself more and better? answer: i hope so.
would i nurture my life more? answer: oh, yes, you bet.
would i hold those i love dearly closer, tighter, within my heart and love them better & more, and those who have hurt me, betrayed me less so? answer: you bet i would.
would i be strong enough to say ‘no’ more often, ‘yes’ with more commitment, and take down the fence i straddle that sometimes feels so comfortable even though it has caused a few urinary tract infections? answer: yes, yes and maybe.
would i return calls faster than emails? answer: coin toss. but the good news – i’m joining facebook anonymous tonight. hello, my name is amy f. and i am a fucking addict.
would i be braver & bolder & more courageous; standing up for what and who i believe in regardless if anyone stands up with me? answer: yes. yes. yes. period.
would i do anything different. answer: well, sure, a few things, particularly when it comes to personal hygiene.

i don’t believe the world is gonna end tomorrow. i don’t. i have a hair appointment, i’m making ken a grand valentine dinner, and we’re seeing friends this week.

i’m not planning for the end of the world.

but what i do hope happens, what i am planning for in all honesty, is that we stop, and think, and in the words of my favorite non-human: re-calibrate.

i hope we love better.
i hope we take better care of our own lives.
i hope we pay more attention to those we love & cherish, hold dear and near.
i hope we stop settling for mediocrity because it’s an easy out, and start raising the bar instead of hanging out in one.
i hope we have the courage to pursue our dreams, and leave behind the folks who don’t believe in us or support us.
i hope we can stand up for those less fortunate, those who need an advocate.
i hope we stand up for our friends, and offer them the gift of community.
i hope that we fight for what we believe in without folding, or buckling under, or compromising too much.

i hope at the end of the day, when all is said and done, that we have no regrets.
because, truthfully. regret sucks. it keeps us small & fearful & less intimate. it keeps us at arms length. regret makes you believe, and keeps you believing, that your life isn’t good enough, or worth enough. we are fucking priceless. repeat: we are fucking priceless.

so, please, when you’re in prayer mode – when you’re praying – whether it’s in a church, or a temple, or a sikh, or holy ground, or the privacy of your home (whether that be in a bathroom, in a closet, or at an altar), when you ask for strength, forgiveness, comfort, hope, humility, goodness, kindness, a warm home, a big heart, a new job, a better friend, a generous lover, a life long partner, a cuddly pet, good love, a friend or family members health … and/or world peace – please remember it starts with you.
in you. and then please, oh please, go on, put all that love, all those prayers out into the world.

let’s keep that spinning.

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avatar now leaving crazyville – birthday blog

December 4th, 2012 — 11:09pm

an affair? definitely an affair.
or maybe just maybe a serious illness, an inoperable terminal illness?
oh, i know, i know.. we’re stone cold broke, yeah, that’s it, he spent all our money on house tschotkes.

my birthday is almost over.
well, today is almost over, my birthday is gonna continue for weeks & weeks & weeks.

like ramadan.
weeks & weeks & weeks.
except there is no fasting involved.
eating, drinking.
drinking, eating.
which brings me to…

ken has been extraordinarily generous this birthday day. by generous i mean kind. kind as in: whatever you want, need, ask for, just tell me what you want and i’m gonna do it, get it, be it for you.

anything you want.
whatdya want, he asks.

hmmm, i think, thought.
hmmmm.
this doing anything i want, ask for, need, crave… this doesn’t sit well, bode well with me.

but i also think: wow. cool. fabulous. love this.
bring it on.
bring.
it.
on.
gimme.

but then i think: really… anything. why? why?

something must be wrong.
something must be fucking wrong.
maybe, i think, maybe – yeah that’s it – he’s having an affair.
maybe.

i ask him point blank while i’m holding a fork: hey, so, what’s her name.

he laughs.
really laughs.
i don’t.

he heaps on the love.

flowers, cards, champagne. little purple LED lights on trees & home made wreaths, and even does some much needed kitchen plumbing (PLUMPING?), drives me back & forth to nyc FOR… SUSHI.
maybe, i think, maybe, she’s japanese, korean, chinese…asian.
maybe.
maybe she’s just perfectly skinny like wooden chop sticks.

champagne.
plus… a 90 minute massage at home.

enough.
enough with the kindness & goodness & generosity & massages & champagne & fucking LED lighting. enough with the cards, and fucking sushi.

this is it, i think, this is when ken sits me down and tells me that A) he’s having an affair with some, some … some perfectly skinny asian slash italian slash french woman who barely speaks english but laughs at all his jokes and loves his nose hairs B) he’s dying, that he has inoperable brain prostrate lung cancer and has only a few weeks, days to live, or C) that he has spent every single penny we have saved on windows and doors and toilets and paper fucking towels for the new house addition.

i tell nancy, confide in nancy, as she massages me, that i think maybe ken is having an affair, because, you know, he’s being so kind, loving, generous, thoughtful, good hearted, and overwhelmingly sweet.

she says maybe he is, maybe the other family is living in your basement, you know, since you never go down there anyway, maybe they’re living down there, you know…the basement family.

holy shit, i say, that’s possible. like a weird reality show. a whole life below me. living, eating, laughing. oh my god, i never go down there. yes, yes, of course, there could be a whole family living down there. i mean, yes, i do go down there, but usually with one eye closed as i bolt straight for the garage. (for those who have read my book, you know all about my basement, for those who know nothing about my basement, please, dear god, please buy my book.)

and of course, now i’m more tense, much tighter, my entire body is in defense mode. the basement family, yes, yes, of course, I think. of course, of course… a whole crew of quiet, small, people. we have a wood burning stove down there, a few pieces of old crappy furniture… they could cook and sleep. i’m now spinning a whole kinda sister-wife-dwarf mormon type o’ story, but obviously with a side of wacky and crazy… you know: moronism. nancy and i riff off into this whole new possibility, including home schooling and pottery throwing. i mean really, would i even know? no, i would not.

i live in denial on the main floor of the house. complete and utter denial.
there’s life below me, and i don’t even know about.

nancy and i agree that out of all three possibilities – affair, cancer, bankruptcy – affair is the winner.

ken comes into the garden room, where i am in fact getting this fabulous birthday gift/massage and i’m – lucky him – face-up. nancy is trying to get all the kinks out, and i say, ask boldly: okay buddy, what’s up? fess up, whats her name? and he smiles, his gorgeous sexy ken smile and says:

you know something, you’re fucking nuts, you know that. why can’t it just be that i love you. that i love you more every single day. that i fucking love you like a crazy man, why can’t it just be that i wanna give you the world, and you never ask for it, you never ask for big things, huge things, and why can’t it just be that i love you?

he bends down and kisses me, and leaves the garden room.

silence.
nancy looks down at me.
i look up at her.

nancy’s cute.
i like her.

she gets the kink out of my neck.

i close my eyes. breathe in & out, in & out. in & out.
my third eye comes into view.

amazing clarity. i grab it, seize it.

and i say out loud:

he.
loves.
me.

and just like that, just like that, i drive straight outta crazyville, and get off at the exit where the sign (which is yes, lit in a gazillion little purple LED lights) reads, “welcome to trust.”

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avatar up here

November 27th, 2012 — 10:26pm

She must have a window seat.
This, she promises, is her last phone call for the night, reminding me one more time, it must be a window seat. I tell her I will do my best, the plane seems awfully full, and since it’s a last minute booking, it might be hard.
“If I tell you I want a window seat, get me a window seat.”

Click.

This phone exchange was not long after she had been diagnosed with moderate stage dementia. She had some scary moments; unsettling, jarring, and confusing moments. Having found her curled up in a ball, naked on the floor in her bedroom in Florida while visiting for a long weekend, she had absolutely no recollection of how she landed there. When I shook her from her sound sleep, she smiled and told me I looked a lot taller than she remembered. “Ma, you’re on the floor.”
“Oh. It feels comfy though, you sure it’s the floor?”

A Bat Mitzvah in Scarsdale, New York spurred her into major travel frenzy. She wanted desperately to go.
“I have to go. I have to see Gertie. I have to go.”
Gertie was her sister. Theirs was a relationship not dissimilar to Palestine and Israel.
“I have to go. Don’t tell me I’m not going.”
The thing about my mom, she was as stubborn as the day was long. God’s honest truth, sometimes it was really hard to tell if it was the dementia, or my mother just being herself.
“Ma, I don’t think it’s a good idea, you traveling by yourself.”
“Oh, really? Fine. I’ll drive to Gerties.”

Having rammed her car into a fire hydrant – a glaring sign that she should never be behind the wheel ever again. “It came out of no where,” she said, “One minute I was sitting there, minding my own business, and the next minute, there it was, crossing the street.”
What do you say? Really? “Ma, it can’t walk, a fire hydrant doesn’t walk.”
Unbeknownst to us, my mother had an expired drivers license.

I worked it out so a car service (a very kind man who lived a few doors down from her) would come and pick her up, drop her off at the JetBlue Terminal, and make sure there was no seen or unforeseen problems. I paid the guy to wait an extra half-hour. I called the airline, JetBlue, and spoke with a reservation agent, who had just the right combination of humor and sympathy and could not have been any more cordial or kind. She promised they would do whatever they could to accommodate my mom, but she needed to remind me that the plane was in fact full, and hopefully someone would be able to move if there was not a window seat available. I ask her if there is a ‘companion’ person – a representative – who can help my mom get settled. Help her with the boarding pass, and the other unexpected frustrations that may arise. Yes, she says, someone will help my mom. I can only hope and pray for my mother to come ‘face to face’ with kindness. I think of all the times I gave up a window seat for an elderly person, or a pregnant woman, or a wife who wanted to sit next to her husband. I am hopeful.

She is picked up at the designated time – standing outside her condo with her suitcase and an overnight bag, having packed enough clothing for an entire month. “Maybe I’ll stay for a few extra weeks,” she tells me the night before when she lists off all the clothing she’s bringing.
I can hear in her voice something I never heard before: loneliness.

She gets to the JetBlue terminal, she checks her suitcase outside with baggage claim, and – I am told by the neighbor/car service driver – that she hands a crisp ten dollar bill to the lovely bag handler, telling him he is a lovely, lovely kind man. He deeply appreciates her gesture. Little does he know that the remaining ten or so crisp ten and twenty dollar bills that she has tucked ever so neatly in her wallet will make their way to others who smile, offer a hand, let her get ahead in line, help her with her carry-on. She makes her way up to the counter, where a ticket should be waiting for her. Yes, there is a ticket, but she must go to the gate, in order to get a window seat.

She goes through the whole security scene – I am told by the neighbor/car service guy – the taking off of her shoes, the removing of her belt, the telling a joke or two about her hip replacement after she in fact set off the security alarm and how the sound reminded her of the old days in Las Vegas when someone won at the slots. It was a sound filled with ‘good wishes.’
“No more,” she says loudly as if telling it to every single person on the security line. “It’s a phony sound, it has no heart. Gimme back my shoes.”

The neighbor/car service guy cannot go any further with my mom. The rules. The companion person from JetBlue now meets her, thankfully.

There is no window seat available.
She has an aisle seat.
It appears that no one wants to give up a seat.
I am horribly sad by this lack of generosity for this old, frail woman, and dare I say, embarrassed, because this old frail woman is in fact my mom. This is where I get to relive the whole crazy scenario as it is repeated to me: My mother throwing a shit storm of a nut-dance, hauling a racial slur at the African American flight attendant, and then, if that wasn’t enough, causing another passenger who was somewhat overweight to breakdown and cry. “You know how fat you are? You have your own zip-code.” The administrator told me on the phone it was like an unstoppable chaotic ruckus. A tornado. A whirlwind. I am sad. I tell her that my mom has the beginning stages of dementia. It comes and goes, but mostly it’s coming these days. I give her all the broad strokes, my dad died, she’s living alone, we know, we know, it’s time to get her settled, she’s stubborn, she’s independent, and there’s the whole question of what to do now? Move her, or does she stay? And she’s always been much more strident and righteous and defiant.

Not going gently into the good night.

She’s escorted off the plane, and somehow manages to get back to her condo by renting a car even though she has an expired license. I would just love to meet that Avis rental person who gave my mom a red Mustang to tool around in.
She calls me in absolute hyper-hysterics. She wants me to fire every single one of those nasty, bitchy flight attendants, and pilots, and the co-pilot, he’s as much to blame. And where is her luggage, her fucking luggage?
“I bet they stole it. They stole it and you should fire them, the whole lot of them. Now. I want you to fire them now.”
“Okay, Ma. I’m gonna fire them now.”
I find out from the very cordial and patient JetBlue rep that her luggage is on its way to New York. I am in Los Angeles on business; my brother is at a birthday celebration on Long Island. Nether one of us expected this hailstorm. I try to deal with the airport bureaucracy and arrange for my mom’s luggage to make its’ way to Fort Lauderdale within 48 hours, barring no glitches.
My mother refuses to speak to anyone. She feels duped and lied to and the fat girl should have gotten up. “My God she took up two god-damn seats.” And then she said, “I always, always have to sit at the window.” Why, I ask her, why? “Fuck you,” she hangs up on me.
Shortly there after, I moved my mom to New Mexico where she was about to start living in an assisted living facility.
“Did you get me a window seat?”
“Yeah, Ma, I got you a window seat.”
“Good,” she said, “Good.”

As the plane revved it’s engines, and was about to take off, my mom took my hand and squeezed it, staring out the window – watching the plane disappear into the gorgeous white clouds – and after a few long, long, moments, she turned to me, and said: “Up here, in the clouds, I can dream all I want.” Then she pointed to two clouds, almost intertwined, and she said with such joy: ‘See that, see that, they’re dancing together. Just like Daddy and me. You can only see this kind of magic from a window seat.”

In that moment, on that plane, it was as if every memory was intact.

She started to giggle. She was so very happy, content. The lines on her face smoothed out, her eyes filled with a sparkle and a twinkle.

It was here – up here – that my mother had always been able to see and feel and imagine clouds dancing, forms taking shape, lovers kissing, the intertwining of souls, and as her hand pressed up against the window, she could, in fact, feel the kindness of Heaven.

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