Thursday, March 27, 2008

Thursday Thirteen #1 -- "Happies"

Thank you to Zenmomma for turning me on to the Thursday Thirteen tradition.

This is my first installment, and already I'm afraid of commitment (no surprise!), but I've decided that blogging is something I want to explore more fully, so might as well amp it up with something that resembles structure, huh?

For my first episode, I would like to just highlight 13 things, in no particular order, that float my boat these days, or, what I've alluded to in the title: Happies.

Here goes!

1. Discovering HAPPIES !

Couldn't have the list without the discovery, now could I? (And it just wouldn't be my blog if I didn't have a lengthy intro, am I right???)

This is a word I learned in Mississippi, and I would have to say that learning it not only made me "happy," but discovering a land where people had a name for small tokens of pleasure, most often bestowed on someone else unexpectedly (and, hence, intensifying the happy effect), made me feel like I'd finally found an oasis of light in what felt like a interminably dark life. Ok, so that's a bit overdramatic (a bit!), but it was such a ray of sunshine.

I wish I could remember what the first happie, labeled as such, was, but now I forget. It seems to me though, that it had something to do with goodie bag items at a birthday party. Like, "Don't forget the 'happies' for the party!" And it's so true, isn't it? I love to walk down the happies aisle at party city and bounce a few balls, tousle the fringe on those little fringy thingies (happies, by their very nature are better observed than described!), slap the little clapper hands a time or two, eye the jacks, roll some oversized dice, and imagine the smell of the playdoh in the little, party sized cups! Whew. Are ya happy yet? I'm smilin'!

And lo and behold, when googled, there's even a BLOG dedicated to recounting some of the things that fall into the category of "happies."

2. Valentine's cards still on display in my room. I mean, aren't these the cutest? Are we not thinking the same way?? Awwwwwww!


3. Raw food diet testimonials like THIS and THIS and THIS.

My oldest daughter and I are researching how to eat to take better care of ourselves and save us from our food-related health issues. Nothing too major, but not the optimal health we both crave. My younger daughter is cautiously interested, but is still in public school, so she's leaving it up to us for right now.

4. Raw Food: Is this not some GORGEOUS food? Oh, I'm so hungry! =D (Thanks to Raw Glow for the pics AND the recipes! Can't wait to try them all!)

5. The idea of moving to the capital W, West, capital C, Coast. Preferably Oregon. Perhaps a good ole University town like Corvallis, in fact. (We'll see.)

This is news to many, and will probably start haunting future blogs, but I'm going public now. Suffice to say, I'm ready for a change in scenery AND lifestyle, and I'd prefer to live the second half of my life, well, WHERE I choose. More later, I promise, but for now, just say, Ahhhhhhh! (Thanks to for the pics!)

6. Hangin' out and home "schooling" with my 16 year old daughter!

Getting to know your "quiet" teenager is a wonderful thing. Most days I believe that she finds getting to know her kooky, quirky, "quiet" mother is pretty kewl too! I won't reveal any of her secrets, but I've watched her relax and get started on becoming who she REALLY wants to be now that she's free of the public school system that taxed her to the point of despair. YAY for following her own inner guiding star!

7. Watching my younger daughter blossom into a wonderful young lady, earn her letter jacket (ouch! thank goodness she lettered as a freshman so it will get some wear--although, this is the tropics, so, who knows!) in swimming, and celebrate her "six month anniversary" with her sweet boyfriend.


Even though I looked at how many movies I had rented in the last year and realized that I'm still spending major chain prices per film. But you know what? Sitting at home, sifting through a bajillion titles, and renting independent films is AWESOME and is not part of the chain store experience (ok, so I know that one of them does this, but still.....). Not having a deadline to turn in the movie (commitment phobe that I am???)?!!! PRICELESS!

This arrived today:

9. Dancing.

Just can't get enough of the stuff. I'm so ready to take private lessons and try my hand, and, er, feet, at some beginner level competition. Woohoo! Just need to come up with a creative way to FUNd said fun. Ah, the challenge!

10. Friends.

Old ones, new ones, easy ones, tough ones, virtual ones, real-life ones. It's just so great to have you all (they tell me they read this thing!!! My goal is to become even better at BEING a better friend and not just HAVING friends.

11. Painting.

Just thinking about painting (which is all I've done for a while, but that's ok for now...) makes me smile. I love, love, love having a hobby that lets me regard the results. I don't watch myself dance (and don't know that I would want to just yet), but to walk in the front door every day and see my paintings, well, it just makes the day feel brighter, and gives me a case of the warm fuzzies.

I hear a lot of painters (ha...well, the ones I've met in class etc.) or should I say artists (know more of those in total) criticize their work. Like really dog it. Mercilessly. And that makes me very sad. I can definitely look at my paintings and see lots of places to improve, but I honestly just love to stare at them. I guess I still just can't believe that I've actually done it, but more than that, it's like looking at my kids. I created them and added a few brush strokes, but there they are, with a life all their own, beautiful for just having existence in the first place.

Is it ok to love your own paintings? Perhaps it just means that I'm not a "true" artist? Or maybe I'm just an extremely forgiving one.

I love the energy of creation. I don't need to judge the form to be happy. Looking at art , to me, is like looking at a landscape: WOW! Amazing! Look at that.
(Ok, so I PREFER some over others, but still, in general, I'm a live and let live kinda gal!)

12. Vincent van Gogh.

Speaking of painters. Standing in front of this man's work has never failed to bring me to tears. The joy and the pain in those paintings is palpable to me. I love his work, not because it's acceptable so to do, but because it freakin' MOVES me, man.

And looking at the prints around my monitor, well, that always makes me smile.

I wrote in a guest book at an exhibit that included some of his paintings (at the Houston Museum of Fine Art), "I don't think I ever knew color before I saw a painting by van Gogh." Amen.

13. BLOGS!

I just LOVE blogs! There are SO MANY cool, cool women (and men, but truth be told, there's only one or two that I read, and they don't post all that often) out there. They are so amazing and creative and they blog so REGULARLY! Oh, I want to be like them when I grow up! Here are a few new ones that I've been reading lately (If you knew how many blogs I've read in the last month...oh boy...well, all in the name of research, right???):

Confessions of a Pioneer Woman
Derfwad Manor
Zenmomma's Garden

Sorry so few, but I'm late for dinner and I'm sure you must be late for SOMETHING by now!

And hey, please have a great week! If I can at the very least post once a week, then I'll be one step closer to taking my second and third and fourth steps in a row and making a go at having a "real" blog. I REALLY want to learn to write some SHORT posts, too! (heehee)

Thanks for stopping by, and if you have ANY time left after this monster, please say hi in the comments section!

Muah! =D

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Get the Thursday Thirteen code here!

The purpose of the meme is to get to know everyone who participates a little bit better every Thursday. Visiting fellow Thirteeners is encouraged! If you participate, leave the link to your Thirteen in others comments. It’s easy, and fun! Trackbacks, pings, comment links accepted!

Thursday, March 13, 2008

Open Letter To A Friend

Dear Friend,

I wanted to write you this letter because it's difficult to find the time to tell you in person, now that you are so busy with your new love relationship and we rarely spend any time together, just the two of us. I feel overwhelmed with the strangest sort of anguish over you these days, as I watch you compromise everything you told me you had dreamed of, and always offering some kind of half-assed justification in response to my concern that you have deviated noticeably from your dream.

Well, "half-assed," that may seem harsh. And who am I to talk, really, but that's just it. Don't you see? You remind me so much of myself, only you had it all figured out. You had a plan. You had a dream. I listened to your dream and I heard you tell me, "Please let me know if I get off track because love relationships have always muddied my thinking a bit in the past. I'm cool with work relationships and family relationships now, but it's time to try out a new love relationship, and I am sure I will need guidance."

Don't you see? You asked me to say this to you. You made me promise to tell you what I see as an objective outsider. And I've tried to tell you here and there. Mostly the big standout kind of stuff really. You seem to be happy and all, why would I want to rain on your parade? But I feel like a crime is being committed and I'm not calling 9-1-1. It's affecting my own life, not telling you what I feel in my heart about what you keep asking me to comment on, knowing that you don't really want to hear anything that will burst your bubble. Not like I feel comfortable with this role. In fact, I've tried to distance myself from it all, but each time I make an out-loud declaration to myself that I am walking away and not looking back, there you are telling me something new that I just can't listen to, that just eats me up inside because I feel like I'm obligated to say something.

But I've kept my silence mostly because I fear projecting myself onto you. You remind me of myself, but you aren't me, after all. You are you. And who is to say that if you do something similar to what I did that it won't end up quite differently? But it's so complicated for me.

You see. You were my hope. My hope that HAD I gotten myself and my life together better before getting emotionally involved that I would have made better choices, for better reasons, with better results. Love, after all, is rarely the problem. That's the good part. But I've learned that we can love a lot of different folks, for good reasons and not-so-good reasons, with good results and with not-so-good results. And I can't help but feel like I'm watching myself make the same kinds of fearful decisions all over again when you tell me why you are changing your mind about what you wanted so much.

As the objective outside observer, I hear your fear and feel your weakness. You're so afraid that if you wait for more of what you want, that you will lose what you already have. I hear you explaining away a Faustian bargain by saying, "But it will be so much easier," and that you are "just so tired of worrying" about these other things that it makes the compromise worthwhile.

How can I convince you that it won't be easier, and that the compromise will haunt you mercilessly forever? I promise. I have much experience with exactly the type of situation you describe. As your friend, I absolutely have to tell you that giving up what is important to you, my dear one, in order to feel like you are getting ahead financially is the oldest trick in the devil's book, Tricks for Stealing Human Souls.

You can brainwash yourself into thinking that if you just give up this, and this, and this, and this, then you can have all that you have ever wanted, but you will be utterly mistaken.

Oh, and any woman who gives up so much to have round-the-clock companionship and financial security, may get those things, but at what cost?

If your goal is to save money to travel, but you live with someone who hates change and won't go away for the weekend before you move in together, will the easiness of paying the bills make up for the fact that you have to travel alone, or don't want to because you want this companionship?

I've heard and read over and over again lately (because I've been asking for answers to my big "Why is my life like this?" question) that any woman who gets involved with a man, thinking that things will change, is a fool. Some things may change, and yes, miracles do happen, but when you have the facts staring you in the face and you choose to believe that those facts will magically change when the nature of the relationship changes, well, you're dead wrong. Now, most veterans of long-term relationships will tell you that things do change, but rarely for the better. The things we overlook now will be there with a vengeance a year after you move in together.

Relationships do require "work" and lots of communication, to be sure, but if you are the emissary of "let me make your life easier for you now so that you will return the favor to me later when you are feeling better," you will most certainly always be on the short end of the stick. And giving you financial support is nice, but it's also very easy. It's easy for the man to bring home the bacon. It's hard-wired. But that's bacon that gets spent on what he likes to spend his bacon on, especially if you're the one making all the compromises (and even if you aren't a lot of times...).

Oh Friend, this is worse for me than if you were one of my daughters. Why? Because I would pay my daughters' rent, offer them a room in my home, help them find a roommate, help them find a new job, sit down and discuss how to make the most of their own money....ANYTHING I could do within my power to keep them from feeling like they would just be so RELIEVED to not have to worry about money that they would give up on their dreams at the first hint of a bite on their love line. And why? Because I did this twice. Which is not to say that I did not love, but NOTHING was EASIER because I made the decision on financial relief/security because I thought it would just be too tough to do it on my own for a while. And not forever, mind you, just for a while, to be completely sure and settled. To give myself time. Just for me. Just because.

I know I must be some kind of horrible friend for saying all of these things, but I have to get it off my chest. I truly have started to feel like I'm in hell, watching myself wimp out on the big screen, over and over again, like Prometheus getting his liver eaten over and over again. I feel like I have to give you the, "it's not you, it's me" speech and break up with you. I just can't watch and listen. It hurts too much.

I know you love this guy, and that's great. I just can't watch you give up on just about everything you told me (and not only me) you wanted for your life. I can't watch you compromise like I did. And I've waited and waited, hoping NOT to feel like this. (Waiting for some hint that you aren't the only one compromising at least.) I've practiced focusing on your happiness and the love you share with this man. But every time we talk, you tell me of a new compromise, and your reasons for them are so close to home I want to scream and cry and gnash teeth and rent garments. I mourn for your dream because it was my dream too. And you were my hope. And I feel like a shitty friend for feeling so desolate about something you seem convinced is a good thing in the end.

I hope that it is. I really do. I prefer to envision a day when you come to me, shining and happy, content and loved, sunburned or windburned or waterlogged from your latest adventure, telling me how wonderfully all those compromises turned out in the end.

But right now, I can't believe it. My life won't let me believe it. My heart won't let me believe it.

I hope you can forgive me.

I wish you the best of everything.


PS--Please read Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert before you give up your lease. I'll give you my copy. I just know too many women who waited until they were comfortable with being alone before they found peace with the love of their lives. If you need him to take care of you, you'll always be playing the need game. It isn't worth it, in my opinion, but this is YOUR life, and I'll get out of the way the only way I know how. I've never felt like this before, and I hope that if I'm crazy and/or just plain wrong, you can overlook it and forgive my shortcomings!

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.

Wednesday, March 05, 2008

Farewell Fine Freedom

Have you ever been really sad to part with a favorite possession? Ever sniffled? Eyes watered? Maybe even shed a bitter tear? Heck, maybe you bawled your eyes out like me! Ok, so I exaggerate a tiny bit, but you get the idea.

We really think we can get attached to our stuff, but I disagree. I don't think that's what is really going on. I'm inclined to believe that we are attached to the idea of the thing, or to the memories, thoughts, and intense feelings associated with that particular thing. The energy of it. The part of a thing that can actually touch the core of our being, our soul.

That makes much more sense, right? In that way, the thing does really become a part of who we are, and all of us are pretty attached to ourselves; whether we find that to be a positive or a negative thing matters little. So what though if our stuff is all about us? Why is it that sometimes we can part with something with a smile, and other times, we can't help but cry?

Here's what I think, based on what I'm going through at the moment! I think that we have unfinished business or regret when we are sad, or, "overly nostalgic" about letting something go. For some reason, we feel like we are losing that energy, losing that part of ourselves somehow.

Take my life for example. This afternoon, a man is coming to my house to buy my 1982 Honda Nighthawk. My motorcycle. My baby. Sure, I posted the ad on craigslist. I was the one responsible. But it was one of those "take action" things I've been putting off for a long time. I posted the ad on Monday morning, thinking, ok, so, this weekend I'll charge up the battery, start her up, "blow out the cobwebs" riding around the block a few times, and maybe by then, someone will be interested and maybe I'll even sell it and have some money to pay off that pesky credit card I want to cancel because they keep charging me a yearly fee until I call them up and complain. Blah. Blah. Blah. Meanwhile, I'm doing something about my garage full of junk AND my debt, all in one fell swoop on a Monday morning. Pat, pat, pat on the back.

Well, I was rudely awakened from that lazy reverie when about 30 minutes after posting the ad, I received an email from someone who wanted to buy it. First problem. Ad says "runs," yet I know that it's at least a battery charge away from that being entirely true. Uh-oh. So I backpedal a little bit and start sweating. It's all happening way too fast for my apathetic self!
By the end of the day, I have three emails about the bike, an as-yet-uncharged battery, and heartburn. I can't reply until the thing is actually RUNNING! And I didn't have time planned into my busy day to make it so. (The unwatched pot boils violently???)

Tuesday comes: Vote. Go to bank to make deposit and get paper notarized for courthouse. Go to courthouse to present paperwork for defensive driving course (another blog entirely!). Go home and hook battery to charger (can't leave that puppy unattended!). Pray. Post more stuff on craigslist! Re-attach battery to bike. Pray. Turn fuel switch to on. Wait a sec. Push ignition button. (Holy crap, I should have pulled the choke!) Push ignition button, pull gently on throttle. Sniff. Sniff sniff. Uh-oh. Look down. My foot is in a puddle of gasoline. Switch fuel line off. Cry.

Great. The carburator is leaking, was leaking, finishes leaking, all over the floor of the crowded garage. I have to clean it up. I have a non-running motorcycle. I go to craigslist and pull the ad. I cry.

And yet, there was a glimmer of hope. The third email was from someone I wanted to sell my motorcycle to. I mean, I had to sell it to the right person. The first person wanted motorized transportation. I know this bike isn't suitable for him. The second person didn't read the ad well and was antagonistic: "'Don't have time to work on it?' Does that mean it doesn't run?" Obviously not the right buyer there. No, my ad was written for the person who would want my bike in spite of its flaws, who would love it like I do.

The third email just said, "Please tell me when and where I can come pick up this bike."

I had told my husband that I thought this was the guy. So when I stood there whining because I took the ad down and now I had to take the carburetor off again and see if I couldn't get this problem resolved so that MAYBE I could sell it, he said, "What about that one guy?"

"You think I should still call him?"

"Why not?"

I thought, "The answer's no if you don't ask, dummy, follow your gut and call this guy!"

So I called.

Sure enough, he wants it. He wants to restore it, and HE CAN. I always dreamed I would "someday," but it's 12 years later and I'm not much more of a mechanic than I was back then, but this guy can and will do it. It's what he does. I actually spoke to his father first. Apparently, they have a long happy tradition of restoring classic cars and dad here owned a Nighthawk in the 60's when they first came out. They thought for sure I would have called Monday night and they were ready to come that evening with cash. I knew my bike had its perfect new owner. So why did I get off the phone and cry?

Oh for me. For me, for me, for me.

I cried for the first and only motorcycle I've ever owned. The one I actually learned how to ride on. The one I bought for myself as a college graduation gift. The one I bought after I said, "Ok, so I've always thought about wanting to ride a motorcycle and now I'm 26, I have two kids, and if I don't do it soon, I may never do it." The one I practically dreamed into existence: I want an older model, affordable, Honda. (When I finally said it out loud, I saw it on the corner of a street I drove down daily, about a week later, with a for sale sign on it.) The one that I couldn't even drive home by myself, that made me cry (while on the back learning to ride) because I was so afraid to take a turn! The one that I could eventually ride, weaving between the reflectors at a good clip, with a gleam in my eye. The one with the smell, the sound, the feel of riding right above the power to GO! The one that always meant freedom, in every way, to me.

I cried for the memories. I cried for the dream. I cried for who I was when I bought it, who I thought I'd be by now. For the trip to Sturgis that never happened. For the mechanical ability that wasn't cultivated. For the wind in my hair and all that cliché, Zen and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance kind of spiritual awakening and connection stuff that happened when I rode along for miles at death-defying speeds (which isn't very fast on a bike, btw!). For the joy of the days when it did run and made me feel so, so good to be alive.

Yes, that one.

Is it no wonder, then, that I cried?

My youngest daughter said, "Mom, you never ride it anymore anyway."

"Don't be mean to me," I said.

I don't know that anyone truly knows what that bike means to me...even sitting in the garage. Just being able to sit on it and hold on every now and again.

"Making way for the new one," my husband said.

"Yes, the new one," I smiled.

But later, when I was alone and driving in the car, the hopeless romantic in me imagined the new, perfect owner driving away with my baby in the back of his truck, and I cried again. The new one will never be the old one, the first one, the most "romantic" one, and that's ok. I'll be able to console myself that I still have all the feelings and the memories safe here with me.

Oh, and pictures!


Vaya con Dios, my darling!

© Nicole J. Williams, 2008, all rights reserved.