Archive | March 2012

smile though your heart is aching

Heartache is no stranger.  He moves in and out of my bedroom with the ease and familiarity of an old lover.  He flops down on my bed side-ways, arms and legs akimbo.  His tossing and turning keep me awake at night.  He puts his feet up on the furniture, throws wet towels on the bathroom floor and eats the last bear claw.

Heartache shows up with no warning, slipping in while I’m distracted watching moonbeams or counting stars.

He casts shadows under my eyes and a crinkle between my brows.

He sneaks out at night like a naughty teenager, coasting down the street before revving his engine.  He has other hearts to visit, more ache to spread.  Heartache never promised monogamy or commitment.  He’s probably even visited you once or twice.

When he comes calling like an unwelcome suitor, I follow Nat King Cole’s advice and smile, though my heart is aching.  Smile, even though it’s breaking.  Clouds be damned, I’m going to keep on trying.  And smiling.  Until I remember that life’s still worthwhile.

When Heartache asks how I am, my answer is always the same.  Smile firmly in place, I tell him, “Awesome.  I am awesome.”

It’s an easy answer to proclaim, because it’s true.  I am awesome.  My blessings overflow.  My heart beats on, spreading love where it’s needed most.  To my children, Sweetness and the Genius.  To the bonus children life gave me to love, and even to one beautiful bonus granddaughter.  To my family and friends.

Heartache cracked me.  He left fissures on the surface of my heart.  But he can’t break me.  Won’t defeat me.

Heartache can never win, will never win, because I will never quit smiling.  I will never quit trying.  I can’t quit even if I want to because my friends and family won’t let me.  They remind me to tell my better sounding story.  They make me laugh until I cry.

They make me smile.

Smile though your heart is aching, smile even though it’s breaking.

Light up your face with gladness, hide every trace of sadness.

You’ll find that life is still worthwhile, if you just smile.

Question:  What do you do when Heartache comes to visit?  Do you welcome him with open arms or warm his cold heart with your brightest smile?

Note:  Lyrics are from the Nat King Cole song “Smile” which was written by Josh Turner and Geoffrey Parsons.

run, regina mae, run

I never thought of myself as an athlete.  As a child, reading was my sport of choice.  When mama sent me outside to play, I’d tuck a book into the waistband of my shorts and recline under a shade tree.  A tiny, delicate girl, nobody looked at me and thought, “there’s our next star athlete.”  When it came time to pick teams, I was a bargaining chip.  (You can have HIM if you take HER.)  Other than one very determined and seemingly misguided PE teacher, nobody made an effort to turn me into an athlete, either.

That changed when I started yoga three years ago.  My jelly donut of a belly tightened up.  I found my core!   I started believing in my body.

Last March, after two months of deliberation and hours setting up the perfect playlist on my iPod, I started walking.  My first walks were plodding half-mile affairs.  I moved at a snail’s pace from my house to the pool and back – half a mile.  Then I graduated up to the elementary school around the corner – a mile.  My time dropped from 26 minutes a mile to 22.  Then 19.  My distance increased to two miles. Then three.

Around that same time, some of the girls in my yoga class started running.  They inspired me so much that I decided to run, too!  In June, after talking to my friends and reading everything I could find on the Internet about running, I downloaded the Couch to 5K (C25K) app on my iPod.

C25K is a great way for beginners to become runners.  Three times a week for eight weeks takes you from nine one-minute runs interspersed with 90-second walks to running for thirty straight minutes.

The higher the temperatures rose, the farther I ran.  My easy, every day run became the mile and a half loop around my neighborhood.  Weekend runs were two to three miles on Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge.  It was the slowest run you’ve probably ever seen, but it got results.  I lost weight, my booty shrank, and the endorphin rush was out of this world!

To make sure I stayed on track, I signed up for two 5Ks:  the Lt. Dan 5K in Beaufort, SC, and the Susan G. Komen Race for a Cure in Charlotte, NC.

It’s sad the Lt. Dan 5K organizers don’t have a trophy for last place finishes, because I earned it!  Thanks to shin splints that started in the first quarter mile of the race, I did my own personal portrayal of Forrest Gump (before the braces fell off), walking stiff-legged through the streets of downtown Beaufort.  My friend, Myrna, signed up the morning of the race and ran for the sole purpose of making sure I didn’t quit.  I wish I could say I’d have finished either way.  Honestly, without her pushing, prodding and encouragement, I’m pretty sure I would have joined the crowd lining our downtown streets and waited on the parade to start.

Myrna and I after the Lt. Dan 5K

Luckily, I signed up for both races early, because the dead-last finish would have discouraged me from signing up for another 5K in this decade…or lifetime!  Whatever.

Carita, Astrid and I decked out for the Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure

The Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure was a much easier event.  My baby sister, Carita, her beautiful daughter, Astrid, and I walked along with seventeen thousand other participants.  (Yep – 17,000!)  We finished solidly in the middle of the pack.  No shin splints!  No last place finishes!  That sure felt like success to me.

In the last year, I’ve walked and run over 200 miles.

I dropped my time from 26 minutes/mile to 18 minutes/mile.

I finished two 5Ks.

I learned about myself in the process.

Pinckney Island National Wildlife Refuge

I love running alone on deserted, residential streets late at night, or through a national wildlife preserve, communing with the alligators and egrets.

Getting fitted for the right shoes is as essential as sweat-wicking panties!

No matter how much my body wants to quit, my knee complains, my shin shrieks, the endorphin rush waiting for me at the finish line is worth the effort.

Susan G. Komen Race for the Cure 2011

There is no worse feeling than watching the pack recede further and further into the distance.  My times for my races were within two minutes of each other.  But psychologically, it’s easier for me to be crammed into the middle of a swelling pack of humanity than trailing stiff-legged behind a small crowd of much fitter and faster athletes.

It is essential to practice your parade smile and wave, just in case the parade catches up to you!  (And thanks again to the nice Beaufort Police Department officer who trailed me in his squad car, lights flashing, to make sure the parade didn’t overtake me!)

The last runner gets the loudest applause!  Mostly because the crowd knows the parade starts next, but still…I take my wildly infectious, foot-stomping, clapping, shouting encouragement any way I can get it!

Best of all, I learned that frail, skinny little girl who was me is an athlete.

I am an athlete.  I am a runner.  My run may not look like yours, but it doesn’t have to.  It just has to look like mine.

Question:  What have you done lately to expand your idea of yourself?  How have you taken the idea of who you are and turned it on its head?  And if you haven’t yet, what are you waiting for?

adventures in dating (or my better sounding story)

I am changing my life one day at a time by telling my better sounding story.  And you can change your life, too.

Dr. Rahmie Valentine once told me to tell a better sounding story.  At the time, I didn’t really understand what she meant and it was very difficult to switch from my never-ending list of complaints about my life to find a better sounding story.

She explained that The Law of Attraction in its most simplistic form states that like attracts like.  If you’ve read or watched The Secret or heard about Abraham-Hicks then you know what I’m talking about.

In essence, the Law of Attraction says that you will attract to yourself that which you think. So, if you think you attract rotten, heartbreaking men…you will attract rotten, heartbreaking men.

If you think you attract handsome, smart, funny men…handsome, smart, funny men start falling into your lap (or your in-box).

If you walk around telling everyone there’s a black cloud following you, chances are good any time you look up, you will see a black cloud.

If you walk around telling everyone how glorious and beautiful life is, chances are good you are irritating the stew out of the people with the black clouds.   Chances are also good that your days will be glorious and beautiful more often than they aren’t.

Two years after that informative appointment, telling my better sounding story is second nature.

When my divorce was finalized, I didn’t think, “This is the end of my world.”  I was single the first 20 years of my life, and married the next 25.  If life is a trilogy, I’m starting the finale of my trilogy strong, happy and balanced.

When Coach and I broke up, I consoled myself with the thought that it isn’t the end of the story ’til you’ve reached the story’s end.  Life, unlike fairy tales, doesn’t come with a convenient “The End” to let you know when it really is The End.  Death is the only true ending – anything short of death leaves room for possibilities!

Would you like to hear my better sounding story?

I’m seeing a handsome, smart, funny man I call Honey Baby.  Honey Baby makes me laugh and think.  He compliments me, and gives me plenty of reasons to compliment him.  He makes me lose my mind a little when he leans down for a kiss.  A foot taller than me, he still manages to effortlessly make his way down to my lips.

He shows up for a date wearing a t-shirt that reads, “Get me.  I’ll do your body good.”  And then proceeds to earn points for truth in advertising!

One day, my story will sound something like this:  I’m in love, and this time, I love someone who loves me back at least as much as I love him.  I’ve only told two men in my life that I love them.  He’ll be the last.

He’s as quick and witty as Coach, ready to catch me when I fall and then make me laugh.  He compliments me often and does my body good like Honey Baby.

He holds my hand when we walk together, and always stands closest to the curb.  He makes me laugh until tears run down my cheeks.

When I’m with him, I always feel pretty, smart, funny.  (Which I am, of course.  But some men have the ability to make you feel like it isn’t so.)

When I know I’m going to see him, I get breathless and twitterpated.  You know that fluttery feeling in your stomach you get because you can’t wait to see someone?  Twitterpated!

We explore our world together, one little town at a time, content to meander until it’s time to go back to the hotel for a nap.

We run through the rain, laughing, faces lifted to the heavens so we can taste the raindrops on our tongue.

Being with him is as natural as breathing.  And as necessary.

I haven’t met him yet.  Or have I?  It’s impossible to tell, really, because no one knows the end of the story ’til you reach the story’s end.  I’ve just started this part of my trilogy.  I can’t wait to see what happens next!

What does your better sounding story sound like?  You are the author of your story, so make it a good one!  Use the Law of Attraction to bring you the life you want.  All you have to do is take that first step:  believe enough to put it into thought.  Start telling your better sounding story and watch it come true! Come on, what do you have to lose?

Question:  Have you used the Law of Attraction?  Or prayer?  Or affirmations?  Have you written your better sounding story yet? What does it sound like?

be still and know: 5 lessons learned in the stillness

“Be still and know that I am God.”  Psalm 46:10a


I am rarely still.  I start the day in motion and end the day in motion, filling each moment with as much activity as I can.  Some nights, I’m not even still in my sleep – I can tell by the pillows thrown on the floor, quilts laying askew on my bed, and the dark circles under my eyes.

Yet, it is in the stillness where lessons are learned, the still small voice is heard, peace is felt and your inner pilot light is found.

  • Be still in chaos.  A couple of summers ago, I took a quick weekend vacation to Disney with a girlfriend.  It was the middle of summer, too hot to take children through the park. But it was the perfect weather to go to the water park.  Amidst crowds of red-faced parents and over-excited children, I drifted around and around the lazy river.  Fingers and toes trailing in the cold water, head thrown back to see the sunlight dappling through tree leaves.  As I lazily swirled around in my tube, that still small voice in my head said, “BE still and know that I am God.  Be STILL and know that I am God.  Be still and KNOW that I am God.  Be still and know that I AM GOD.”  And I was still.  And I knew that He is God.  I needed that reminder that day.  On the five-hour drive to Orlando, my friend and I agreed we were leaving our problems (which were mighty and weighty) at the Georgia state line.  If necessary, we’d pick them up, like unwelcome hitchhikers, on our way back home.  Maybe that’s why God’s voice could make it through all the clutter and chaos to be heard so clearly that day. Or maybe it was the stillness.
  • Be still in stress.   Even as fast as I move, some days I cannot keep up with the demands of my office.  When I get to my desk in the morning, there are already forty-two emails and half a dozen voice mail messages, all demanding my immediate attention.  Files rise on my desk like high-rise condos, blocking my view of the world.  I’m like a chicken, being plucked one feather at a time.   On those days, being able to find a few minutes of stillness make the difference between sanity and insanity.  I’ve been known to lie on my office floor, legs reclined up the wall in the classic yoga pose Viparita Karani (legs up the wall).  Just a few minutes of stillness, my legs up the wall, calms my mind, letting me get back into the fray stress-free.
  • Be still in motion.  I started walking last April.  Nice, slow half-mile walks.  The months progressed and the miles added up.  In July, I graduated to the slowest run in the history of running.  The half-mile walk became a mile and a half run on week days and a slow, easy 5K on weekends.  The hotter it was outside, the later I ran, until I ended up going out at 9:30 or later most nights. Nobody around, the neighborhood dogs settled in for the night, it was just me and the Carolina moon.  I’d run along at my baby pace and pour out my heart to God.  In my darkest days, I felt like God had turned His back on me.  In the stillness of those hot Carolina nights, I found Him again.
  • Be still in heartache.  Everyone has had their heart broken, by their lover or spouse, their children, God or life.  I’m not special or unique.  My heartbreak isn’t worse than anyone else’s.  Not deeper, or more painful.  But it was complete and devastating.   And it taught me lessons I’ll never forget.  Pain can have physical weight, weighing you down as surely as concrete in your shoes.  When you don’t have the strength to take another step, lie to another soul about how you’re doing just fine, pretend for one more minute that your heart is just fine, just stop. Be still.  Crawl into bed, curl up in the fetal position and do not move an inch.  The pieces of my heart were stitched back together in the stillness of those nights spent curled in my bed.
  • Be still in grief.  Some days, life is so easy it feels like standing on the edge of the ocean watching the waves effortlessly come and go.  Other days, grief sneaks up on me in giant, crashing waves,  catching me and dragging me into the undertow, sand swirling around my head so thickly it blocks out the sun. Grief for the life I thought I’d have.  Grief for the marriage I fought for and lost.  Anyone who lives near the ocean knows the fear of being caught up in the undertow and swept away.  Grief is like that – it catches you when you least suspect it and sweeps you away from your life and your loved ones.  Anyone who lives near the ocean also knows if the undertow catches you, the best thing you can do is be still and watch your air bubbles.  They always float toward the surface.  If you are still, you can float to the surface, too.

I am rarely still.  But I’ve learned the value in being still because in the stillness lies the knowing.

Question:  When is the last time you were still?  What lessons were waiting for you?   

adventures in dating (or my catch and release program)

I’ve loved fishing since I was a five year old and my parents bought me my very own Snoopy fishing pole.  Some of my favorite childhood memories involve fishing.  It didn’t matter if we were at an ocean, the Gulf of Mexico or a river – if there was a body of water nearby which might contain fish, we had our poles out, hoping to catch enough fish for our next fish fry.

Dating is a lot like fishing.  How many times have you heard, “There’s plenty of fish in the sea?”  There’s even a popular dating website called Plenty of Fish.  The more I date, the more I realize how much I should be applying what I learned about fishing to my dating life.

A good day fishing isn’t defined by whether or not you catch anything.  There isn’t much in life that’s better than leaning back in a rowboat on a lazy, meandering river, hat pitched forward to cover your eyes, pole in hand, line in the river.  The burbling of the river flowing over rocks and a few twittering birds are the only sounds around.  You’re ready for a fish, if one chooses to nibble on your line.  But if nothing nibbles all day, you’ve still had a nice, relaxing day.

Dating should be like that.  A good day isn’t defined by whether or not somebody asks me out, but by how brightly the sun shined, how many times I laughed with my children, how peaceful I felt floating down the river.  If we spend our entire time on the river worrying about whether or not we’re going to catch a fish, we completely miss the joy of being there.

Some days, you sit by your pole all day with nary a nibble.  Other days, every time you drop a line, you feel that tug that means you’ve got another bite.

Some days you catch more fish than you can count.  One day when I was a skinny little teenager barely tall or strong enough to cast my own line, I went fishing with my Grandma and Grandpa Banis and my daddy on the pier at Port Aransas, Texas.  Somehow, I ended up in exactly the right spot at exactly the right time, and I pulled in 14 trout.  For years, my Grandma Banis told the story of how I screamed, “Wheee!” each time I pulled another fish onto the pier.

One week this year, eight men asked me out on datesEIGHT!  I’m not positive, but I think I probably screamed something like, “Wheee!” each time another fella asked what I was doing that weekend.  It was, honestly, exhilarating having that much attention.  But in the same way all the fish I pulled in that sunny Texas afternoon weren’t suitable to keep, all the men who asked me out that week weren’t suitable for dating.

Responsible fishermen catch and release.  Some fish are perfectly nice fish, but they’re a little too small, or a little too big, or they swim by on a day you already have more fish than you can handle.  When that happens, toss them back!  Chances are good, there’s someone else standing by with a line who would be perfectly happy with that fish that wasn’t quite right for you.

And remember, girls, we aren’t the only ones fishing.  Fellas fish, too!

Question:  What are your best dating tips?  Please share because I need all the help I can get! 🙂

once upon a time prince charming had amnesia

I’ve been a little fascinated with a new television show that premiered last October.  Once Upon A Time is a story about fairy tales.  Snow White & Prince Charming, Beauty & The Beast, trolls and dwarves and all of the Brothers Grimm’s very best stuff.  This isn’t the sanitized Disney version of Grimm’s tales, either.  There’s love and lust, greed and (spoiler alert) hearts being ripped out of chests!

The premise of the show is a little fantastical, but then again, fairy tales always are or they wouldn’t be fairy tales, right?  Snow White and Prince Charming fall in love and get married. (We know that part already, right?)  They have a baby. (Which at least confirms there’s time for a little “laundry” after the wedding before things fall apart!)  But the Wicked Stepmother that we thought was out of the picture?  Turns out she’s still around and she is not a happy camper!  She casts an evil spell on all of Fairytale which gives everyone amnesia and sends them to the small town of Storybrooke, Maine.

Prince Charming and Snow White wander around Storybrooke, with no memory of falling in love, getting married, having a baby.  No more happily ever after.

While watching one night, I thought, Maybe that’s my problem!  My Prince Charming and I have amnesia and can’t remember each other.  Obviously the logical side of my brain said, “Pshaw.”  But still, that would explain so much!  No wonder I’m not with my Prince Charming basking in the glow of happily ever after.  Some snitty woman cast a spell on us and we can’t remember each other!

Then I remember that I was married forever and a day, so really, it’s probably a good thing he had amnesia!  What would Charming do if Snow were already married to some other Prince, or Toad, or whoever?  Challenge him to a duel?  Engage in a sword fight?  Tame a fire-breathing dragon and train him to roast the interloper like a marshmallow on a stick?  (Am I the only one who thinks it would be fun to find out?)

I have a few friends who unwittingly feed my belief in fairy tales.

B.A. kissed frogs for twenty years or so.  Eventually, she met her prince.  Whose name just happens to be Prince.  (Coincidence?  I think not!)  Now they’re living their very own happy ever after with their sweet little princess.

L met her husband in a small-town Louisiana kindergarten all those years ago. They found each other again at their high school reunion.  After a few more twists and turns (including one more marriage to a toad, which is not the same as a frog because toads never turn into princes), they got married in their very own fairy tale wedding last year.  (It took them 43 years to end up where they were supposed to be all along!  But maybe they needed the 43 years of seasoning to be each other’s Prince Charming and Snow White?)

Rounding out my trio of fairy tale worthy love-storied friends is K, who went to her 20th high school reunion intent on having a fun-filled girls’ weekend.  Which sounded all well and good until she was swept off her feet by her 6’8” former basketball playing classmate.  She was engaged by Christmas and married by Memorial Day.  Now she is taking happily ever after a day at a time like smart princesses do!

Queenie and I rocking some tiaras!

What do you think?  Is my Prince Charming lying around a hospital room in a coma somewhere?  Should I quit kissing frogs and start volunteering at the hospital more?  (If I were a forgetful princess, that sure would explain my absolute adoration of tiaras!)

Or maybe, (okay, probably,) I should just keep doing what I’m doing – being the best me I can be, practicing my flirting skills on unsuspecting victims, and perfecting my new balance beam routine called my balanced life.

Question:  Have you found your Prince Charming?   Was he someone new, or had he been hiding under your nose all this time?

my year of yes (and no), oh the places I’ll go!

fireworks over Nassau, Bahamas

Fireworks over Nassau – courtesy Geoff Tygret

Twenty twelve started with a bang: standing with my fabulous friends, Mark & Geoff, Meghan & Jarrod, on the top deck of a Royal Caribbean cruise ship anchored a mile off Nassau, mesmerized by too-many-to-count fantastical fireworks displays up and down the island. I even got a kiss at midnight from two handsome men! Right after they kissed each other. 🙂

Geoff and I – how handsome is he?

Just after midnight, fireworks lighting the night sky, Mark leaned over and told me, “This is your year of yes!” We’d been talking about Maria Dahvana Headley’s The Year of Yes, her funny account of the year she spent saying yes to every prospective date who came her way. Her year of yes was the inspiration for my year of yes. But I’m not just saying yes to dates. I’m saying yes to everything! Adventure. Opportunity. Excitement. (My own handsome fella to kiss at midnight next New Year’s Eve?) And, most importantly, balance!

It’s so easy to say no to myself. Can I take a trip to (fill in the blank: Colorado? Paris? Barcelona?)? No. Can I write a blog? No. Can I pay off my credit cards? Run a 5K? Lose 10 pounds? No. No. No!

On the flip side, it’s so easy for me to say yes to everyone else! Will you host a (fill in the blank: Tupperware, Scentsy, Tastefully Simple) party? Sure! Mom, will you buy me this (game, outfit, car)? You bet! Miss Regina, can I live with you? Of course!

As part of my journey toward balance, I am learning to say yes to myself a lot, and no to everyone else a little.

Grammy & Sweetness show off their mustache “tattoos”

So far the Yesses have been a lot of fun!

There’s the second weekend cruise to the Bahamas to celebrate Sweetness’ 19th birthday and Baby Sister’s 33rd birthday, an all-girl event that included three generations and a couple of fun, new friends.

Giggling, guffawing karaoke on the birthday cruise (who knew there were more words to Elton John’s “Benny and the Jets” then, well, um, “Buh-buh-buh-Benny and the Jets.”)  Thankfully for the crowd, we were followed by a beautiful, professional rendition of All That Jazz by fellow passenger Gabby that was honestly so good Baby Sister felt compelled to accompany the song with her own personal interpretative dance!  Luckily for the crowd, our seats were strategically (and purely coincidentally) located behind the stage so they could enjoy Gabby’s beautiful vocals and Baby Sister’s enthusiastic dance!

St. Louis Art Museum

I combined a business trip with a whirlwind tour of St. Louis.  If I had to describe St. Louis in just one word it would have to be ICY!  In spite of the frigid cold, thanks to the generosity of my hostess, I stayed very bundled up and fairly warm.  (For the first time since I bought them, I could actually justify the expense of my Uggs!  Warm feet are important!)  The whirlwind tour included a pretty speedy jaunt through the Saint Louis Art Museum (SLAM to the natives), an up-close look at the Arch, an even speedier jaunt through the Museum of Westward Expansion (which reminded me of my unfathomable childhood desire to live in a teepee!), and a leisurely lunch with a well-educated Jesuit priest who was as kind as he was handsome (I admit to leaving with more than a little crush on the good Father!).

Karen Ann playing the piano in Fort Collins.

Thanks to a pot of gold disguised as American Express reward points, I enjoyed a long weekend trip to Colorado to visit one of my BFFs, Karen Ann, and her sweet Carolina Girl.  We spent hours walking around, playing tourist in Boulder and Fort Collins, talking and laughing, and oh my goodness, eating and eating and eating some more!  (Every time I visit Colorado, I find something new to love!)

I’ve covered everything from sandy beaches to snowy suburbs, and I’ve got the pictures to prove it!

My snowy proof! Don’t expect to ever see this again. 🙂

My year of yes hasn’t just been about traveling.  I’ve taken this blog past the “I’ve been thinking about it from every angle, maybe I should start writing something” stage.

Thanks to a new philosophy reminiscent of Maria Dahvana Headley, I’ve said yes to men who are younger or older, taller or shorter, thinner or heavier than I’d normally date. (All of the men are smart and funny – these are my non-negotiables!) I’ve eaten some really good food, spent one incredible afternoon sailing, and laughed. A lot!

Honestly, learning to say yes to myself is easier than figuring out how to say no to everyone else. But I’m trying, day by day, to create the life of balance I need and deserve.

Question: Is it harder to say yes to things you want than no to things other people want? What would your year of yes look like?