I was tickled by a friend who was talking about having to start over the relational part of her life in her early 30’s, entering the dating “game” as it now appears to be called, and going through the process of being found by the right man. I loudly laughed at her as she was talking about being “too old for that”, until it dawned on me that I’m nearly 10 years older than she, and in the same boat, just floating at a slower pace.
My last “first date” was in 1999 when I met my ex-husband at a Chinese restaurant to talk about church business. What a “spicy” first date. I should have known then that that would be the focus of our courtship and marriage. All-in-all, I’m grateful. I guess we could have been meeting to talk about illegal drugs or illicit affairs so, even ending in divorce, it could have been worse. After my divorce in 2010, I waited a while and did what I’m coming to find out is typical for a lot of persons experiencing divorce. I started dating someone I had already dated just before that last “first date” in 1999. (I know, yikes!)
I have no complaints from that dissolved relationship either because I learned so much about me, the “new, improved, ‘been there, done that’, I know what I want, need, can offer and deserve” me. I also made great memories, was ushered into an affection for football (even though he liked Auburn), was able to finally put a neatly wrapped bow on a movie ready love story and truly think I was able to walk the path to healing to be ready for what’s next. But when that relationship amicably ended several months ago I was stuck with the thought of…a first date in my 40s? Really?
Some of you might need to close your eyes to what I’m going to say next, but a certain family member would always tell me growing up to “always keep a spare tire”. I know this person wasn’t referring to marriage, but in courtships. I don’t, in any way think that this was this person’s way of telling me to be “fast in the pants” as they would say in the 70s and 80s. This senior sage must have known that my choices in boys/men were not always the best, hence the sense of knowing they wouldn’t be around for too long, they would be around long enough to serve a purpose or they would be around for far too long and needed to be gone. This Mr. Miyagi to my Danielson must have also known that life is full of twists and turns and I should always keep my heart and mind open to growth and change (as in changing a tire…lol!). Anywho, after dating my “do-over” guy following my divorce I’d exhausted all of the men that I ever wondered whether or not another shot would work. Don’t get me wrong. There were some left over, just none I wondered about. So just like that the tire was flat and the trunk was empty. I should insert “thank God” right there! I remember telling my best friend of the break up with my “do-over” guy and she said, “Girl, you mean to tell me you don’t have anybody else left.” Sadly, happily, and scarily at the same time I said, “Nope.”
So here I am 42, without a clue as to how to date 21st century-style, but fully prepared to learn and add my own Godly girl with a southern twist to it. I don’t like talking on the phone to my friendgirls, so the thought of returning to my teen habit of whispering sweet nothings during the wee hours of the night to a gentleman on the other end of my new iPhone tickles me. I don’t like the popular new word “bae” as my mind often goes to “sitting by the dock of” or San Francisco when I hear it. I’ve not met a family for the first time since Lauren Hill and Will Smith won big at the MTV awards. I’ve not had to figure out whether someone likes pork or beef, Pepsi or Coke, or spaghetti with meatballs or meat sauce since the Slim Shady LP dropped. I haven’t had to wonder whether he can dance or if he gets my relationship with wigs and dining out since Susan Lucci won her first daytime Emmy. I haven’t had to pull out my private investigator, street degree and research a man’s background since, well, never mind. I digress, but I shall continue.
Anywho, the world has evolved so much since my last first date. Thankfully so have I. My “must have list” looks so much different than it once did, which I guess makes now (or whenever it happens) the perfect time to meet the perfect person for me. So, I’m pacing myself, handling my business, working on me, waiting on the right one and preparing to proceed with caution and excitement on this new journey. If nothing more it gives me lots to write about and even more to laugh about. A first date in my 40s? Really? Who would have thunk it? I guess God did! I’ll keep you posted!
Let me first start this post by saying a few have said that I tell too much of my business. Sorry, I can’t help it. I’m a journalist by design and telling is in my blood. I never mean to embarrass, and hope that nothing I write does, but I’ve just lived through TOO much to be silent about my life, especially if it can help me or help someone else…so here it goes.
Times have been “interesting” financially. I’ve not felt a financial pinch like this since I ran up a charge card at Casual Corner trying to wear new clothes almost everyday when I was a news anchor wayyyyyy back in the 90s. Good sense has long since taken over since then, and this time, I can humbly say that my financial bind is due to many external factors which, as a single divorcee are simply out of my control. Thankfully, I know they are not only out of my control (or anyone else’s for that matter), but I know they are in the hands of the One in control, and soon to be dealt with like a deck of cards on a hot night with bright lights in Vegas. So, since I know God’s just using this time as another time to add more to my resume for Him I may feel a drip of perspiration, but I’m refuse to sweat it.
Don’t get me wrong though. I am content with where I am even as I daily desire better, but let’s just say I’ve had to pray, polish off and perfect budgeting, balancing, hustling (in a good way) and restructuring as never before.
Anywho, one day I was on the verge of “going there” about all the things I didn’t have that I thought I should have, or should not have to contend with by now. I was looking through some items in my closet rearranging my wide array of $7.99, $10.99 and big-ticket item $19.99 Ross Dress for Less dresses for the umpteenth time. I looked in a storage container which houses my handbags. Hidden beneath color-coordinated purses of all shapes and textures I found a Gucci! Yep, you read correctly.
I found a Gucci, but not just any Gucci. I found the Gucci my parents drove all the way to Atlanta, Georgia to the official Gucci store in Phipps Plaza to purchase for me for my 33 birthday! (I’m now 42.) I even looked behind my sweat pants (which I rarely wear) and found the dusty box and bag which housed this marvelous accessory. This Gucci might as well be considered vintage, couture, straight from the hands of a little, sweet Italian craftsman because of the special memories it holds and the even more special message it gave me.
As I displayed my “re-gifted back to me” arm piece at a recent family dinner the look of pride on my mother’s face as she recanted the tale of my father and she going to get this precious pocketbook made me smile. It wasn’t because of the name brand that came along with it, or the price tag either. It was because 33 was at the beginning stages of the toughest 10 years of my life. In fact, 33 was the year that lead to several other tough years of physical and personal challenges, ALL of which I made it out of. And just like that Gucci, which looks so good on my arm and has only a tiny speck of something sparkly on the bottom right corner, some nine years later we both are doing fine.
So back to my money matters. Finding that Gucci reminded me that everything I need I already have. Some things may be on the way and some might have been tucked away but what I need is near. I just have to look for it and recognize it as a gift. I get it now thanks to GG the Gucci ( I feel she deserves a name after all these years.) I realize that just like all the Lord brought me out of at 33, 34, 35, 36, 37 and so on, He can do the same now with some extra special little surprises and reminders on the way.
I’m an early riser. That means that usually on mornings when I’m headed into work the only other breathing creatures up on the road with me are a few other human “early birds”, some deer, foxes, turtles, armadillos or possums. Believe me, cruising down the road and being surprised by a family of deer on a dark day stroll, or a massive turtle coasting gingerly down a semi-rock/dirt/paved road is no fun. Because I live in a subdivision in the midst of rural Shelby, County that also means that lights are few and far between until you reach the “big city” portion of Alabaster. I often rely on my bright lights to help guide me through, and a lot of stopping and slowing to make sure I make it.
Because of all of the above factors, I have to be extra careful when driving in the dark. Acknowledging the need to…
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On Saturday, July 19 I had an opportunity to attend See Jane Write’s Bloganista Mini-Conference. I was late registering due to a family tragedy, and was a bit hesitant as I’m still trying to wrap my head around the point and purpose of my blog as it doesn’t fall into many of the more traditional themes that are popular and quite successful today (i.e., money makers). I’m not a fashion expert so I don’t blog about styles and trends, unless it’s the ticketed $100.00 dress turned $2.00 bargain from Belk, my passion for Wet n Wild cosmetics, or my closet full of $7.99-$19.99 conversation pieces from Ross Dress for Less. I’m not a food critic, especially when most of my dining out is compliments of Groupon, coupons, a plate from my parents and gift cards. I’m not a political pundit, social commentator, pop culture know-it-all or financial guru. I’m not a relationship expert, even as a divorced woman who has had her share of boyfriends over the last 27 years since my first “fake” date at age 15. I’m not an athlete, fitness fanatic, health food innovator or career counselor. I’m simply, and successfully a woman who has lived through a lot, learns a little from each experience, and loves to snatch back the pieces of her own life and share inspirational tidbits with a certainty of things always getting better using topics like wigs, divorce, pancakes, weight gain, road construction, New Edition, family dinners and Jesus at the forefront or backdrop. Those things and more make me know Life Gets Better!
With that said, I’m so grateful I tore myself out of bed on that rainy Saturday morning to overcome personal trepidation as to whether my brand of blogging belonged. I’m glad I joined the other 70+ women (and men) who gathered to hear from people who believed in the power of words. Only able to stay through half of the conference, I was so refreshed by being able to hear from, and interact with people who have a love affair with words as I do, and have skin thick enough to post their thoughts for the world (maybe not the world just yet, but one day) to read, and respond however they choose. The host, the energy and the experts were amazing!
I left the first half of the conference certain of one thing. It’s time for a makeover starting from the blogger then to the blog. I needed to stop being concerned with whether my blog belonged. (As if this world of blogging offered elite, country club-like membership, “belonged where” was what I should have been asking myself. The internet doesn’t have enough rules as it is. Protocol for blog posts are certainly not a priority.) I no longer need to be concerned with how many readers and/or followers I have. I need to be prepared for the celebrators and the others not to be mentioned, and be happy that at least I’m being read regardless of the response. I need to follow more bloggers, and truly read and learn from them all. I need to connect with more people not for posts likes, but for mere investment in me and hopefully back to them. I need to take time to purposely write, even planning blog posts, and jotting down all of the myriad of ideas that flow through my head at strategically random parts of the day. I need to make my short-term plan include things like an upgrade on my current, and thankfully free WordPress theme and layout (I did just that the night following the conference…yippee!!!), a logo, blog specific business cards, new domain creativity, better marketing and all that stuff I already know about because it’s a part of my professional background. I need to get up off of my “I just do this for fun” and do this like my life depended on it, because at some point it did, which is what I write about. I realize now that, in spite of all the things I listed earlier on that I don’t do, I do do the whole “things will get better”, “the glass is always half full and if not get a smaller cup”, “don’t give up”, “divorce does not have the final say“, “one day you’ll look back at this and laugh”, and “fix your wig and your life it you have to” kind of posts well. And that, my friends is what again makes me certain that Life Gets Better!
Recently, on a trip to North Carolina I was able to stay in a swanky Holiday Inn Express. Now, before you say, “for real?”, let me say “yes, for real!” The amenities, for an “express” hotel were quite nice, and in fact in the process of being upgraded (see below, but don’t tell the hotel). The staff was stellar and worthy of some sort of Holiday Inn honor.
While the purpose for my trip, and subsequent trip there again just two weeks later wasn’t one of pleasure or joy, I was excited to be able to eat some hotel oatmeal and considered that a consolation prize for having to travel under such sad circumstances. At random points of the 9-10 hour journey I would whisper internally or say aloud, “all I want is some oatmeal”.
Much to my surprise the hotel oatmeal wasn’t the hot, fresh, gooey, delicious blend of prepared oats, milk, water, sugar, butter and more sugar that I expected. Instead, it was little individual “add water and go” Quaker containers of Maple and Brown Sugar or Apples and Cinnamon. While many members of my family thought both fix-it-yourself flavors were delightful neither fit my preference, even with the unlimited bacon or turkey sausage the hotel offered.
Just seconds before caving into dietary defeat, in the distance, my wandering eye spotted a contraption with a picture of a pancake. This new-fangled machine had “one minute” displayed prominently on it, and a button that said “push”. Immediately, I went into my rare engagement with cynicism, thinking there is no way something edible, let alone tasty, could come out of a machine in one minute, especially pancakes. Still, licking the wounds of my oatmeal disappointment I decided to push “push” and hope for the best. Babbbbbyyyyyy, the best is just what I got! Geeze Louise, Helen and Tom Willis! I was in hotcake Heaven! Those two pieces of hot batter that rolled off of that little conveyor belt of sorts were nothing short of pancake perfection. They were warm, (downright steamy actually), sweet, golden in color, fluffy, light, filling and, when topped with a dollop of fresh butter and maple-like syrup with that sweet sliced pig on the side, were just what I needed, even if they weren’t initially what I wanted. And to think, all I wanted was oatmeal.
So many times in my life I’ve had my sights set on something as the “be all, to end all” or “the best thing since slice bread for me”. So many times in my life, low and behold, God has better, more, different or all of the aforementioned in mind for me. I was reminded that settling is for Quakers. (Get it? As in Quaker Oatmeal or pilgrims…LOL! I crack myself up!)
God taught me a lesson that day and in the days/weeks to follow as I consumed a combined eight pancakes in two trips to North Carolina. Don’t judge. Just roll with me. Nothing against oatmeal, as I still absolutely adore it whether made at home or a hotel, but sometimes it’s time for an upgrade. I could have been afraid of that pancake machine. I could have sulked because I wanted oatmeal, and I really wanted oatmeal. I could have pouted because they did have oatmeal, but not to the caliber of my palate. I could settled and opted to eat what I knew I didn’t want (the heat and eat oatmeal), then been too full to enjoy those tasty flapjacks. I could have done a lot of things that I might have done when faced with literal situations in life that didn’t turn out the way I wanted. However, through hot, greasy, sweet, crispy bacon and pancakes, and in just one minute flat, the Lord reminded me that better, even in the form of hot batter and a bit of butter is ALWAYS my option.