Archive | May 2012

adventures in dating (or where have all the cowboys gone)

There is just something about a cowboy.  Tight butt in wrangler jeans.  Cowboy boots.  A slow easy gait that belies the speed and strength required to rope a calf in eight seconds.

cowboy in chaps

There aren’t enough cowboys in this sweet, Southern town I live in.  I think we should start a program.  An import business.  This girl needs a cowboy.

I want a sexy man in cowboy boots to waltz me around the dance floor while George Strait serenades us.

I want to two-step until I’m giggling and breathless.

Where have all the cowboys gone?

My sweet friend is married to a real life cowboy.  Every time I’m around them, listening to his Texas drawl, it makes me homesick for Texas.

cowboy waltzing

It reminds me of slow waltzes around huge dance floors in Texas dance halls.  Quick two-steps, spinning around until I’m dizzy.

I wonder how different my life would be if I’d picked the cowboy, instead of the Marine.

I wonder if I’d be living in West Texas on a ranch instead of the Lowcountry, South Carolina.

Maybe I’d be the Pioneer Woman, instead of Yoga Girl.

I wonder if the dating sites have a checkmark for Cowboy?  It seems like you can pick everything else.

I’ll have to check that out and let you know how it works for me.

happy memorial day to my sheepdogs

The first time I read LTC Dave Grossman’s On Sheep, Wolves and Sheepdogs, it resonated with me. Grossman theorizes that society consists of three categories of people. Sheep, who are gentle and harmless. Wolves, who hunt and destroy the Sheep. And Sheepdogs, who stand at the ready to protect the Sheep from the Wolves.

The Sheepdogs look and sound a lot like the Wolves. They are vicious and deadly when provoked. They are always checking the perimeters, sniffing the air, on the lookout for danger. They are lethal in defense of their sheep.

Even though I’m the sweetest, fluffiest of Sheep, I come from a long line of Sheepdogs.

Cpl. Albert Banis, WWII POW

Cpl. Albert Banis, WWII POW

My Granddad, Albert Banis, served in the Army in World War II. He was a POW in Germany until he was freed by the Russians.

Cpl. Albert Banis, WWII POW

Cpl. Albert Banis, WWII POW

He was the very best kind of Sheepdog. He was lethal at war. But as a Granddad, he was the gentlest of puppy dogs. He always had candy, ice cream and ice cream cones on hand for his grandkids. One of my best memories is Granddad reclining in his Lazy Boy so I could shave him with his electric razor. I don’t know why that tickled me so much, but it did.

Granddad and some of his granddaughters

Granddad surrounded by some of his granddaughters

One day, all the little girl cousins were playing at his house. Granddad let them put his hair (what little there was) in little piggy tails all over his head. When the UPS man came to the door with a delivery, Granddad sheepishly told the deliveryman that his granddaughters were visiting. That was explanation enough.

That same docile puppy became the fiercest of Sheepdogs, fangs bared, ready for a bloodletting, when confronted with danger. I remember seeing him in a confrontation once with a man who was much younger and taller. It didn’t matter to my Sheepdog Granddad.

Granddad’s gone now, as so many of our WWII Sheepdogs are. His absence leaves an ache in my heart and the hearts of all his kids and grandkids.

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Banis

Petty Officer 2nd Class Ronald Banis, Vietnam Veteran

Daddy is a Sheepdog, too. He served in the Navy in Vietnam. Daddy doesn’t talk much about his time in Vietnam. But I do remember hearing about the ship he served on in Vietnam.

USS Satyr ARL-23

USS Satyr, the ship Daddy served on in Vietnam

When Daddy went to Vietnam, I was Mama and Daddy’s only child. After Vietnam, Daddy continued serving in the Navy. Mama, my sisters and I spent days, weeks and months maintaining the home front while Daddy was floating around the world on aircraft carriers.

Somehow when Daddy was around, I always knew we were safe. No matter what happened, I knew Daddy would take are of us.

Like Granddad, Daddy’s starting to mellow, at least around his little granddaughters. We have two three-year-old granddaughters in the family who have their Papa wrapped around their little fingers. Astrid and Zoe love to Facetime or Skype with their Papa.

When Mama and Daddy were visiting the Texas granddaughter over Christmas, they got up early in the morning to start driving to their next destination. When sweet Zoe woke up, she demanded that Grammy bring her Papa back to her, right now!

No matter how much he’s mellowed, Daddy’s still a Sheepdog at heart.

Sgt. Kevin Strickroth, USMC

Marine Corps Ball 1992. I was pregnant with Sweetness

My children’s Daddy is a sheepdog, too. He served twenty-two years in the Marine Corps. There was never a time that I doubted he’d give his life for ours if it came to that.

Private J.P. Banis

Private J.P. Banis, Iraqi War Veteran

My baby brother has served two tours in Iraq. He is a gentle, sweet daddy to his two children. He is also a Sheepdog, protecting his country and his family as the need arises.

Our son, the Genius already talks about his desire to serve in the military. I can see my budding Sheepdog, ready to emerge and take his place on the front line so another aging Sheepdog can return to the fold.

Our family has sacrificed so our Sheepdogs can protect the world.

Grandma Banis raised two little boys alone while Granddad was in WWII. She spent six months not knowing if Granddad was alive or dead. For six months, she sent him letters. Every one was returned, stamped MIA. Missing in action.

Mama raised four daughters primarily as a single parent. Even after he returned from Vietnam, Daddy’s tours at sea lasted from a weekend to nine months, and everything in between.

My brother was born a year after Daddy retired. I believe that was God’s plan all along. God saved that boy baby until our Sheepdog Daddy was home for good.

My children and I spent years at a time without their daddy, while he served his country in other cities, states and countries.

My brother is medically retired from the Army, one of many of our modern day Sheepdogs suffering from PTSD. His daughter was born while he was in Iraq.

I love my Sheepdogs. I get to live my life as a carefree Sheep because they are standing by to protect me.

Thank you, Granddad.

Thank you, Daddy.

Thank you, Baby Brother.

Thank you, all of our Sheepdogs, past, present and future.

For your service and your sacrifice. For being who you are in a world that doesn’t always appreciate you. For letting me be who I am without fear of the Wolves.

i’m such a late bloomer i’ll never die

“I’m such a late bloomer, I’ll never die.”


I was what people politely referred to as a late bloomer.  I was short and skinny and had the figure of a ten-year-old boy.

Single hot pink rose bud with dew drops

I didn’t have my first kiss until I was sixteen, and that was a sympathy kiss orchestrated by my best friend.

I didn’t have my first boyfriend until I was in college, and I married him.

I was socially awkward and painfully shy.

My career took a circuitous route because I got married after my second year of college.  I graduated college a semester later than originally planned.  I started law school a year later than I thought.

When I graduated from law school, I was pregnant with Sweetness.  That delightful surprise delayed my law practice for two years. 

The time I spent at home with Sweetness when she was a baby is precious and irreplaceable.  In the long run, what I perceived as a delay to my career is irrelevant.

When I started my law practice, I looked at least seven years younger than I really was.

When I was pregnant with the Genius three years later, little old ladies tut-tutted me.  They were sure I was a poor little teenager who’d gotten pregnant.  I don’t think they believed my assurances that I was a thirty-year-old, married attorney.

At forty-six, I’m old enough to realize life is circuitous.  We rarely move from Point A to Point B without detouring by Point G, around Point Z, and over Point F along the way.

My friend Martha regales me with her own tales of late blooming.  She wanted to go to law school in 1983.  She finally earned her doctorate of jurisprudence twenty years later, after attending law school at night while working full time for a title insurance company.

One of her favorite quotes is, “It’s never too late to be what you might have been.”  And she doesn’t just post it on her Facebook wall.  She lives it as a shining example to the rest of us.

blooming rosebuds

Somewhere along the way, when I really wasn’t paying attention at all, just living my life to the fullest, the funniest thing happened.  I bloomed!

I’m dating more in my forties than I ever did as a teenager.  And I love every minute of it!  I am having more fun than I imagined was possible.

I’ve taken the concept of “fake it ’til you make it” to new heights.  I’ve spent the last eighteen years pretending I’m not shy.  Somewhere along the way, it went from pretending to being.  Now when I tell people, in all earnestness, that I am shy, they laugh like I’ve told them the funniest joke!

Let’s hear it for the late bloomers!  I wish I could go back and visit that waiting-to-bloom teenager.  I’d tell her that life gets better and better the older you get.  I still haven’t reached my pinnacle!

I’m not as confident as Martha that I’m such a late bloomer that I’ll never die.  But I am absolutely convinced I’m going to die a happy, sassy old lady.  I’ll be the one gleefully leading a yoga class, regaling everyone with my wild adventures and proudly proclaiming my advanced age!

Question:  Were you a late bloomer or an early bloomer?  How do you think that impacted your life?

adventures in dating (or is it a feast or a famine)

Feast or famine defines my love life, my career and my personal life.

woman texting and emailing

Two weekends ago, I had six men calling, texting, emailing.  (I wonder if the full moon had anything to do with that?)  I went out with three of them in four days.

The third fella, Nature Boy, caught me.  Without even trying, just by being himself, he caught me.

Sitting next to him on an outdoor patio stool, listening to open mic night with some of my favorite local musicians, I felt as contented as a housecat curled up by the hearth after chasing mice all day.

Three more dates in a week, and then poof – like Houdini’s assistant, he’s gone.

I haven’t felt that kind of a connection since Coach.  I don’t know if it’s pheromones or body chemistry or just plain magnetism.  Whatever it is, I’ve only felt it twice in my life.

It made me realize how much time I’m spending with men just because they’re there.  I’m attracted to some of them.  I appreciate the writing material they give me.

happy couple sitting on couch

But I don’t feel like curling up on the couch with them and talking for hours.  I don’t feel the urge to reach out and slide my thumb down their arm just because they’re close enough to touch.  I don’t let them talk me into telling them about my marriage.  I don’t show them my heart.

Since Coach, I’ve kept my heart safely hidden from the men I date.  They can’t hurt what they can’t touch.

I’ve only gone out with men who are clearly designated for Team A, Team Available.  I’ve avoided Team Boyfriend material completely.

I show them who I want them to see.  Not who I really am.

When a Team A walks away, there may be a little disappointment.  But there isn’t heartbreak.  There isn’t devastation.

Every once in a while, a Team B shows up disguised as a Team A.  And when he disappears, it hurts.  Just a little, but the sting is there.

Once we had that first date, I ignored all the other Team As.  At the heart of it, I’m a one-man woman.  I can date a dozen Team As without remorse, but when I find a Team B, when I feel that connection, I don’t want to be with anyone else.

Nature Boy stuck around just long enough to throw me off balance.  Just long enough to remind me how much I want to be with someone special.  How much I want to be special to someone.

Long enough to help me finish getting over Coach.

Thankfully, he didn’t stick around long enough to break my heart.

And now he’s gone.  So, I’ve come half circle from feast to famine again.

I know it’ll come back around again.  Life is cyclical.  What I don’t know is whether or not I will be content with a new batch of Team As to entertain me while I wait on a Team B.

are you tired of starting over yet?

Every morning, my iPhone wakes me up with a reminder.

If you're tired of starting over, stop giving up.

It reminds me to get up.  Keep moving.  Put on my running shoes.  Run if I can.  Walk if I can’t.

This is my Year of Balance.  But last year was my Year of Imbalance.  It included a saved stumble and a couple of successful falls.  (If you consider a broken finger and a twisted ankle to be successful, that is.)

The stumble made me realize how badly I want someone walking beside me through life.  Someone quick enough and strong enough to catch me when I fall.

The falls showed me I haven’t found that person yet.

Even though I was married over twenty years, I’ve never had that kind of a catch-me-when-I-fall relationship.

The falls took a toll on me physically.  It’s hard to run with a broken finger.  It’s impossible to run if you twist your ankle and throw your hips out of alignment by about two inches.

I finished my first two 5Ks last fall.  By November, I could barely walk half a mile without my hip and shin complaining.

Thankfully sweet JZ came my office.  She pulled and pushed my legs around, and pretty much yanked me back into alignment.  Twice.

I’m tired of starting over.  So this time, I’m not going to quit.  After walking sporadically for the last month, I’m back on the Ease into 5K program.  Skipped straight to week 3.  Hoorah!

Ease into 5K used to be called Couch to 5K.  Honestly, the old name was more accurate for me.  When I started C25K last year, I was literally coming from the couch to work my way up to 5K.

Maybe this year the new name is more appropriate.  Maybe I’m not joining the race from the couch this time. Maybe I’m easing back into the race from the sidelines.

Woman running under blue sky with clouds and sun

So far this week, I’ve run 18 minutes out of three miles spread over two days.  (Don’t confuse that with an 18 minute 5K – which many of my friends can do.  I’m the 60 minute 5K girl.  At my peak.)

I wish it were as easy to get my love life back into shape.

I’ve had fun learning to be single again.  I’m having fun dating Little Boy, Honey Baby and the rest of the motley crew of men who cross my path.

Laugh out loud fun, actually.

But I’m ready to find the one who’ll catch me when I fall.

I’m ready to find the one who will inspire me to stop giving up.  Because I’m tired of starting over.

Question:  Are you tired of starting over yet?  What makes you keep going?

adventures in dating (or always wear your long pants on a first date)

I have a confession to make.  I went on a date with a twenty-five year old.  (This is only news because I’m forty-six.)

young boy in short pants picking dandelion

I know.  I know.  You’re thinking I have a very specific rule about internet dating and twenty-five year olds.  I told Little Boy people would think he was out with his mama.  He gallantly declared he didn’t care what people thought.

Then he proceeded to do a better job of wooing me than any of the men in my age bracket.  Texts to start the day.  Good morning, cutie.  Texts to end the day.  Good night, beautiful.  Phone calls in between.

I have to admit I was intrigued by this man-child and eventually agreed to a Thursday night date.

He suggested going to Jacksonville (about two hours away).  I suggested hanging out at the Farmer’s Market here in town. He countered with the drive-in one town over.

What the heck, I thought.  Haven’t been to the drive-in since Sweetness and The Genius were little.  And this is my Year of Yes.

Come the night of the big date, I was dressed in a cute little sundress.  He was in shorts, an undershirt and an untucked, unbuttoned, short-sleeved Oxford shirt.

Little Boy was just late enough that we had to have dinner at Sonic.  Waitresses in roller skates.  Parking under an oak tree eating chili cheese dogs.

Somehow the movie seemed appropriate for a drive-in date with a man-child.  The Three Stooges.  Little Boy didn’t seem to realize it was a remake.

Despite his proclamations that he loves dating older women because we have more to talk about, we really didn’t.  Until we were on our way home and I mentioned Sweetness.

Now we have an all-new definition of awkward – the moment your twenty-five year old date realizes he knows your nineteen-year-old daughter.  Knows as in having mutual friends and hanging out with the same crowd.

It was at that point that I actually started enjoying the date.  I laughingly told him I couldn’t wait to tell her.  He pleaded with me not to.  Aha!  So much for the “I don’t care what people think” proclamation.

Of course, as soon as I got back to my car, I did call Sweetness.

“Hey, baby girl, remember the twenty-five year old who was taking me to the drive-in? You know him!”

“Mama, you’re so ridiculous I can’t even talk to you right now.”  

That seemed fair enough, and made me laugh again.  After exchanging I love you’s, we hung up.  As long as she still loves me, all is right in my world.

You would think that would be enough to discourage a man-child, but no.  Little Boy continued texting for days, even though I quit responding.

Then came the email.  “Hey, I gotta ask you, why you gonna leave me hanging like that.”

I do obtuse well.  It’s my special gift.  “What do you mean?”

After a flurry of simultaneous emails and texts, I broke it down for him.

If you are in my daughter’s peer group, I am not dating you.


If you don’t want my daughter to know I’m dating you, I am not dating you.


You may have a lot to talk about to me, but I do not have a lot to talk about with you.


And since you’ve pushed me instead of graciously accepting my non-response as it was intended, one last piece of advice.  A drive-in is not a great FIRST date if you want to date grown-ups.  It might be a fun date ten or fifteen, but not Date One. 


A drive-in one city away added to you not wanting Sweetness to know confirms you DO care what people think about our age differences. 


My shot at impersonating Demi Moore didn’t work out for me.  But on the the plus side, I have something else to write about in my blog.  So I don’t count it all a loss.  And honestly, I do love a chili cheese dog.

Question:  Who is the most inappropriate person you ever dated?  And how did it turn out?

who do you see when you look in the mirror?

Who do you see when you look in the mirror?

fit athletic woman

I have a friend, my beautiful Colorado Girl.  She is disciplined enough to work out at home.  Cross fit.  Running.  Weight lifting.  Hot yoga.

I’ve been in a yoga class with her.  I’ve seen her in a sports bra and the little, stretchy shorts hot yoginis wear.

You could bounce a quarter off her abs.  She’s got guns like you wouldn’t believe!  

I would love to have her body!  (Just not enough to work that hard.)

I think to myself, If that’s what I saw when I looked in the mirror, I’d be so happy.”

And yet, my sweet friend, my beautiful Colorado Girl, doesn’t seem to see the same person I see.  The beautiful, hard body her sedentary friend envies.

She compares herself to people who are taller, younger, smaller-boned, less muscular.

She is so much more than her hard body, too.  She’s smart and funny.  She’s a single mama who works from home so she can raise her four children.  She’s a faithful friend and devoted daughter.

She’s God’s child and stands in front of him at church, her hands raised in the air to call to him, to praise him.

She’s as beautiful on the inside as she is on the outside.

I wish she could see herself through my eyes.

I wonder who she sees when she looks in the mirror.  Does she see the finely sculpted body?  The soul that shimmers with her love for God, family and friends?

Gift wrapped with Markel's bow

Courtesy Markel’s Card & Gift Shop

I wish you could gift confidence and self-esteem to someone else.  Wrap it up in a box with the prettiest, flowery wrapping paper.  Tie it with a giant, flashy, red and green Markel’s bow.

Watch her slide the bow off the box, because it’s too pretty to cut.

See her slice through the tape holding the pretty paper together.

Slide off the top and watch confidence shimmer up out of the box and envelope her.

See self esteem rise up and seep into her skin.

Watch her stand up and walk away.  Look in mirror and see.  Finally see.

I am beautiful.  I am fit, healthy and toned.  I’m sweet, smart and funny.  I’m a child of my God.  An adored daughter to my parents.  A rock to my children.  I am Me.  And Me is pretty incredible.

Can’t you tell, my beautiful Colorado Girl?  That’s what the rest of us see when we look at you.

Question:  Who do you see when you look in the mirror?  Who does everyone else see?