Saturday, March 30, 2013

Bikers, Bullets, and Babes - One Year On

A year ago, I wrote this post, "Bikers, Bullets, and Babes." You can read it here. I had just ventured back into the world of dating. A friend encouraged me to try online dating and it was really something. (Thanks, Jen!)

The same butterflies and nerves that I had when I was younger and meeting new guys were surprisingly still there. I have to say that middle-age dates are a lot more fun and interesting. People in the midst of life have stories to tell and it is much easier to carry on a conversation.

Updating the "Bikers, Bullets, and Babes" list of online dating do's and don'ts for men now include their special name they come up with. Any personal identifying information is discouraged for personal safety reasons, so one designs an alias.

Some of them give you a hint as to what they like to do or what they do for a living, such as

  • IowaFarmBoy
  • DeereMan1960
  • harleydood
  • IAoutdoorsman61
  • fishngamer

Some are romantic,

  • amallyours
  • luvlornindsm
  • RU4Me
  • AmI4U
  • hugger1967
  • cupidsentme4u
Some are kinda, eeuw and I'll just let your imagination run because you cannot think up anything they haven't already. Believe me.

And then there's the men who are comfortable where they are in their life, which I noticed, tended to be the ones I gravitated towards. Especially the man who put his political view in his alias. What a great man, even if our views differed on some topics, he is fascinating. 
  • partnerinfun
  • glassallfull
  • zippy1960
  • baldovr50
  • agr8guyinIA
  • bravenewworld
In the course of a year, I met some interesting men. And some who have become wonderful friends who have taught me a great deal and have truly brought me back to life. I've ended my time with online dating because it just isn't where I want to be anymore. Time to move on to new things I haven't done and want to try. 

This week I told my kids that when they leave home I think I'll get a motorcycle. 
*eyebrows raise* *crickets*

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Black Paper Underwear

"Body Wrap Special"
Revitalize your winter-weary skin!

I think I passed winter-weary at Valentine's Day, so I set up an appointment a few weeks ago to try my first "body wrap." Both of the kids have had birthdays this month and afterall, who really did the work that day? Why not treat myself?

Here's the thing. This all seemed like such indulgent luxury. I'd have to take off work a couple of hours early because this whole body wrap deal is rather involved and I left there two hours after I arrived. I do treat myself to a massage a few times a year, but this was an entirely different thing. I actually woke up on Saturday night wracked with guilt that I just should not be taking time off of work to do such a crazy and extravagant thing as this.

What I was really telling myself - work is more important than taking care of me. Fortunately, I haven't heard that voice for a while and now that I have, it was loud and obnoxious. The thing is, for ever that voice was just normal, my soundtrack. Everyone else's needs were always more important than my own.

I'm a parent, a single parent, and before you worry that I am neglecting my children, know that I am certainly not. When you fly on an airplane, the flight attendant goes through the safety drill about the oxygen mask. They also tell us that if we are flying with someone who needs assistance, such as a child, we are to put our mask on first and then help them. If we don't take care of ourselves, we can't take care of anyone else. I always thought that I did this part well. But when my guilt wakes me up in the night, then I realize just how I used to treat myself.

In the changing room, I had a plush turquoise blue robe and a tiny little rolled up thing. I really wasn't sure what this was. Whatever it was, I needed to do something with it. I unwrapped the clear cellophane from the little roll and opened it up to find that it was a thong. A black paper thong that I swear was cut from the reusable bags we take to the grocery store. Ohhhkaaay... the light bulb began to shine.  "Right."

Once settled under the sheets on the table, the mega heating pad on my back, the bolster under my ankles, my face in the donut, she took a stiff brush and whisked the dead cells from my skin. The Swede in me wondered if they did this in early spring in the Motherland with pine boughs...

Painted with French green clay mud, wrapped in an entire month's worth of sheets, blankets, and towels, she massaged my face, my neck, my scalp... and apparently my feet, because somehow I don't recall her moving down there. The last thing I heard was Enya and then what was probably a snore.

After a 45 minute massage and a shower, I was "CSI clean." Without a trace.

Heavy and light all at the same time, my body got all the attention. I'm trying a lot of new things to find out what I like to do to take care of me. The "Body Wrap Special" is definitely staying on the list.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

A Box of Skittles and Nail Polish

It's not uncommon for my daughter to curl up on my lap. As best she can. These days she's about 5'3" and will very soon be looking me in the eye.

Tonight she sat on my lap and I was transported 12 years ago today. The day that we first met. Of course, all seven pounds and 19 inches of her most easily fit on my lap that evening in the hospital. A whole different story tonight, but we cuddled just the same.

I vividly remember the moment when we first met in the surgery department at MCMH. After my first born, I knew what to ask for the second time around. I wanted to have my glasses on so that I could actually see her. I wanted them to untie one of my arms so that I could touch her. All things that I didn't get to do with my first baby. I also knew that it would likely be the last time I would give birth, so I tried to take in as much of the experience as I could. Not easy to be aware during major abdominal surgery, but the anesthetist did well by me.

Even though we had a perfectly good boys name picked out, Jameson Paul, it never occurred to me that our Lovey would be a girl. Our John knew, though. He had been calling the bump Lovey for a long time.

"If it's a girl, I think we should name her Emily Elizabeth, like from 'Clifford, the Big Red Dog,' said our Johnny who was just weeks away from his third birthday. "And if it's a boy, we'll call him Clifford!"

Dr. Newman announced that we had a girl and I was without a name. The anesthetist and I went through names as Little Girl Lof was off to the nursery to greet her adoring public. Julia and Kimberly were front runner names. For nearly 24 hours she was Baby Lof, Pumpkin, Muffin, Dolly, and Lovey, until Johnny reminded me.

Emily Elisabeth Ann Lof. Today, age 12 and I could not be more in love with her or more proud. I love every day, even those rather challenging ones. Some days I try to savor more than others...

This week I read a story from Sheryl Sandberg, the CEO of Yahoo! who talked about a nun who told her she was bossy in a very constructive way. She told her that she had leadership skills that would serve her well with a little time and maturity. Ah, yes. I have seen that in my daughter, too. Most excellent leadership skills. Her wit and quick thinking and saying what's on her mind will serve her well with a little time and maturity, and nurture, too.

These days, she's dancing along the tightrope between girlhood and womanhood. The gift bags we put together for her birthday sleepover last week say it all. A box of Skittles candy and a bottle of nail polish.

Thanks be to God.

Friday, March 8, 2013

Once more, with feeling

One of the trickiest balancing acts I know is when to speak and when to remain silent. You know, that moment in a meeting or a conversation when something is said and your words seem to rise from your belly and land in your throat. Either they come right out or they lodge there in your mouth.

As a child, I was taught that my words had a great deal of weight and that I needed to be very careful about what was said, to whom, and when. And because of my personality, I was scared enough of making a mistake that I probably went too far and became really deliberate about what I said. Taking great care in choosing my words has served me well. I'm often the one asked for the politically correct and polite way to tell someone to bug off without making the listener angry. I've never known a language well enough to translate, except maybe the language of diplomacy.

While knowing how to carefully speak my words is an important skill, I have also come to realize that in the process, I silenced my self. I learned that it wasn't my words that could get me into trouble, it was the emotions I was feeling with them and expressing emotions and feelings was not good. I learned that food was an excellent way to keep those feelings stuffed and down in the gut to the point where I had pretty much stopped feeling anything at all. The word to describe it is "numbing." I didn't realize what I was doing as a child, but that's what it was.

But in the last few years, I've started rewiring all that. I've given myself, my true self that I have kept quiet all these years, the chance to be. This week, I read the following post from Seth Godin's blog. It resonated with me and I just wonder if it might with you, too.

You Already Have Permission

Just saying.
You have permission to create, to stand up, to speak up.
You have permission to be generous, to fail, to be vulnerable.
You have permission to your own words, to matter and to help.
No need to wait.

Saturday, March 2, 2013

Weaving in the loose ends

Today's view from the porch is covered in snow. The sun is shining for the first time since the clouds dropped snowflakes like feathers this week, for days. The thick snow blanket is nearly 11 inches deep, I'm told by our local newspaper.
Many of us are dead sick of winter, but it's now March and the snow won't be here for long. It's three weeks until the first day of spring and next Sunday, we set the clocks forward for spring time. Extra sun at the end of the day will feel very good.
It's been a week that has seen a lot of life. We ordered a class ring this week for The Boy. Class of 2016. And here we go!
Another life moment...My dad lost a classmate this week and when you only had eight in your class, that's kind of saying something. Their friendship is an example of something that seems to be slipping away in our global living these days. It used to be just a given thing that your family and other families in your area knew each other well for generations. It's much more rare today that we live in the same community as our grandparents or even our great-grandparents once did.
My dad and his classmate Glen,  are an example. Their parents knew each other, raised families together. Dad and Glen have been friends for nearly 70 years as they have known each other since they started school. And then the next generation gets involved and Glen's daughter Tess and my sister Julie were best friends. I even dated Glen's son for a summer, too. Still good friends. I can come up with several families with whom we have multi-generational relationships.
Here's another. My son's 7th grade band teacher here in Grinnell had a familiar name from my southwest Iowa upbringing, but one doesn't hear the name Sandholm as much in eastern Iowa. We started talking and the next thing you know, his sister and her husband farm my grandparents farm and live on their family homestead in the Nyman/Coburg area. We have many people in common. I've gotten to know Mr. Sandholm's daughter Heidi and I think it is very cool that I have a "new" friend in Grinnell and that our grandmothers were neighbors and friends.
The connections of life weave us together to the generations of the past and between the generations of today. For me, it causes me to simply stop in awe and soak in all in. Don't pass by these little moments that drop around you. They can be easy to miss in the full-on way we live these days. Savor this and enjoy that connection to those generations past. They are a foundation that our lives are built upon. Who could you remember and honor today?