45.

Wow, 45 years on this planet. Incredible. I’m grateful for the time I’ve been allowed.

Facebook has this wonderful way of reminding you of what your recent years have brought with its “On This Day” memory feed. It brings me a lot of laughter and even a bit of sadness. It’s bittersweet to see past birthday wishes from friends who have moved on to whatever comes next for us. I am now older than some of them when I was born many years after they were…It’s a good reminder, though, to sit with gratitude for my extended time.

And I’m old enough now to sit with my memories without regret. I can think about the thousands of experiences I’ve had, the people that have come and gone, the dreams that never came true and the many that have. Hindsight and all that, right? I can fully appreciate it now.

Those old posts also remind me of goals I’ve had along the way. Where those unfinished plans once brought heightened anxiety, today I thought about the things that did get done, and I reflected on the obstacles that kept me from accomplishing the others. Instead of being upset that I still haven’t finished a novel, I cut myself some slack. I’ve written thousands of words through the years, after all. I’ve been published in magazines and newspapers. I have four novels fleshed-out and have been concentrating on one for the last few weeks. Tens of thousands of words. I know they’ll all get done.

I have time.

Besides, the kids are having their own pre-teen adventures, and they need their space, so I get a few extra minutes every day to write and create. The time they need from me is concentrated with the really good stuff, too, and I’m grateful they share what they do with me. One shares every detail; one tells me what he can. It’s not always easy. People never are. Luckily, I can read both of them without the words, even if some days it’s like picking apart a poem to get to the truth. They’re complex creatures, my kids. I love that most.

They’ve had their first heartaches (!). They have opinions separate from mine (we actually encourage it). They know how to do things that others can’t (Rhiannon’s starting her fourth year of piano and has written short songs! Sebastian creates board games to rival Parker Brothers!). They’re proud of those things. And they are becoming – every day – more solidly themselves. I know they’re both excited and scared about that. We’re closer and closer to adolescence…

Tony and I are at the point where we let them make decisions. We expect the truth from them, and – while we’re still guiding them – we’re evolving more and more into a support system instead of being the puppet masters. We have high expectations, but at the end of the day the most important thing is that they know they’re loved.

They are excellent huggers, too.

I love their friendship. They’ll talk, and I realize they have conversations we didn’t hear. They have inside jokes. They fight less and less, and we’re a talkative house, so arguments are inevitable. I know that they’ll always have each other, even once Tony and I are gone. I’m glad for that.

Rhiannon is my heart. She’s kind and smart and beautiful. She’s more than I ever expected. I look at her with awe that I ever had a life before she existed. It seems impossible that she’s so new to this world! I am truly privileged to be her mother. And she loves me more than I knew anyone ever could. Sometimes I cry thinking about how lucky I am.

Romance through the years? Ugh. I didn’t know what I was doing! I’m finally figuring it out. Tony is my best friend. God, can he infuriate me. He pushes, and I push back. Our past relationships have made it impossible for us to keep things bottled up, so everything bubbles over. All of that raw beauty. All of this intense beautiful love. I’ve never had a man love me like he does. He loves me, not some construct he created in his mind. He wants to know me. It’s such a gift.

He’s a great man. He works hard. He loves his son and wants to raise him to be a good man. He’s stepped up for my daughter and wants to raise her to trust that people keep promises. He loves her as his own. He is like a fierce warrior who would die protecting us.

It’s amazing.

So, yeah, 45.

There are some leftover goals to tackle, along with, you know, being a mom and wife, running a business, being a community leader, being on a theater board, and still being available to deal with my parents and brother. It’s busy.

And I love it. I’m grateful to be here.

 

gratitude

Ahhhh…It was a great day.

The Husband Guy was up early to get more food going (we started yesterday – that’s how big a deal this meal is to him) and the house smelled amazing all day. We ate with family and new friends. We listened to kids playing and laughing and running. We had waaaaay too many leftovers and a ton of dirty dishes. In a world where people are afraid and starving, I am very grateful for those dirty dishes. What a status symbol.

And, at the end of the day, I sat and thought about what else makes me grateful.

As always, I’m thankful to have my daughter. She’s kind and generous, loving and smart, beautiful and fun. Watching her get through this preteen crap is a little tough, but I’m grateful that she has the amazing friends that she has. Charlotte, Esther, Ella, Morgan, and Abby – thank you for taking care of her. You are special young women.

I have great friends, too. What a gift that is! I have friends from my childhood that help me remember from where I came. It’s always good to reflect on that. Thank you. I have a posse of women here in Boise that help me keep my head on straight. I have friends who don’t mind that I hug too hard and share too much. Whew! I have friends who answer if I text too late or too early. I’m grateful…and apologetic.

I have my fantastic business that allows me the time I need to be a good mother and wife. It’s fun and creative and every day that I work is full of stories. Thank you for that.

I have Tony. You know when you’re young and start dreaming about being in love? It took a long time to get that, but luckily I did. Really, it’s amazing – I can be such a bitch! Grumpy and sulking and determined to be sour. But he just kisses me and hugs me and loves me. He doesn’t see me that way, even when I’m throwing my worst at him. That’s love, isn’t it? When you see the best in someone even though they’re just being horrible? Besides Rhiannon, no one has ever loved me so well. I’m not sure if I deserve it, but I’m grateful and try to prove it to him as much as possible.

And I’m thankful for this weird little family that we’ve brought together. It’s not always easy. The conversations we have with the kids about “the importance of making up your own minds, even if it means disagreeing with us and other adults,” the struggle to make a routine out of this blended (and sometimes disconnected) group, the constantly having to prove that our love is unconditional, and the small gains after what feels like a huge amount of work can make it feel really heavy at times. Then again, it’s serious stuff raising the next generation, and I’m so very thankful for the opportunity. I wouldn’t change what we are creating for the world.

There are a lot of other things, but these are the biggies and it’s important that I get some cuddle time in with Rhiannon before she falls asleep.

Good night, all. I hope you had a memorable day with people you love.blessings

 

 

 

 

thrifting and some treats

everything old is new again

IMG_20150724_163403After an unsuccessful lunch in which I spent a lot of time on my phone either texting or talking (I  made the bad decision to send out out a group text – times ten), Pooka and I decided to do some thrifting. She’s collecting marbles and I need display ideas for the new shop, so we decided to go to Antique World Mall. We spent two hours there and still only walked the edges!

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IMG_20150724_194330IMG_20150724_194259Hope you found your treats…

looking forward

out of clutter... (1)The power of many people who have your back far outweighs the one person who doesn’t.

Today I got to see what it’s like to have that. The Husband Guy talked when I couldn’t. He made sure that I was safe when I felt weak. When I reached out to my friends to support me, they did. By the dozens.

Out of the chaos of the past few weeks, I am finding peace and opportunity. So much opportunity! Bad things will happen. It’s what we create from those events that make us who we are. My good friend posted about how the same water that makes a potato soft will harden an egg. It all has to do with what we’re made of.

Luckily, even when I don’t feel so strong, I have many that want to build me up and support me. I am the luckiest woman.

retreat

This time last year I was filming a full-length feature film here in Idaho. It was…a life-changer. After years of not acting, I got to prove to myself that I was still capable of fighting and laughing and crying on demand. Mostly I learned that I am more than a mom, wife and business owner. I was still GiGi underneath everything.

Retreat is the story of a group of friends reuniting on the fifth anniversary of a good friend’s death. Sound like something you’ve seen before? Nope. This story is unique. The characters are real and flawed and beautiful.

During post-production (the actual editing of the film), the couple that owned the production company divorced after over a decade together. They took a few weeks to let the dust settle and then they went back to work. Stephanie and Gene are fantastic people who would never let the dissolution of their marriage detract from the vision they have as a production company. I respect them and wouldn’t have been surprised if they had sent a memo stating, “We can’t.” I mean, I’ve been through two divorces; I know how hard separations are. But, no. They continue to piece together the work we did. I love them for it. We all shared an amazing experience together and I can’t wait to share it with everyone.14897_809008709143965_1850101288294301693_n 936092_809008985810604_8170542900682358956_n 1551486_807406729304163_4969472944040718008_n 10342011_10204245553039980_5689513179278688016_n 10352741_10202772673970462_8514373509432736921_n 10366046_819562411421928_934153362763158458_n 10404213_808179885893514_8254395632286437015_n 10425168_10152465494978085_7805909981480098729_n 10443547_808179695893533_1197422946553337137_n 10446698_10152594439455802_588542430492301942_n 10472878_807406635970839_7259416175355028425_n 10480189_10204207944459789_906783835228900879_n 10509674_819562104755292_3535138562398006850_n 10515335_789385531106283_6273566014162007230_o 10525998_807406459304190_60678458079754043_n 10527519_808179359226900_7690079290937860672_n 10557348_808179499226886_3338958197650208923_n 10565214_10152662798445802_2951888654521235584_n 10570532_808179562560213_4922865138482894866_n 10629571_819562594755243_7099470198286484586_n

my tribe

advice revised (1)My Top 5, as I call them, are busy people: Fawn is a surgical nurse, Janet runs a highly successful real estate group and the Thinking Boise blog , Jodi has her own adolescent counseling business and blog, Briana recently moved to the Oregon Coast and is starting a new enterprise, and Maire has her own massage therapy business and is heavily involved in animal rescue. Despite their busy lives, they are always there for me. (This list is not in any particular order, BTW.)

Fawn took in Pooka and me when I left my ex. Janet is my walking encyclopedia and always knows where to point me. Jodi, being a counselor, knows how to pull out the stuff I’d rather keep buried and I always look to her when I’m bouncing ideas all over the place. Bri was the first person I went to when my heart was the most broken it’s ever been. Maire is the one I seek out when I need the hard truth told to me straight.

Taylor Swift doesn’t have it as good as I.

Recently I asked My Girls what the best advice they ever received was. What makes them the kind of women that recover from low points quickly? Why are they able to take the worst situations and make them extraordinary? How did they get that way? I mean, they’re all tough and sensitive at the same time. Push them down and they don’t come up swinging, they rise above and out of your reach. What keeps them afloat?

Fawn texted me, “Follow your heart…” I’ve watched her do this over and over, even while friends and family tell her to toughen up. She loves so completely. Once you’ve earned her affection, there isn’t much you can do to shake her. The greatest thing I’ve learned from her is to forgive the people who hurt us. As I watch her make her way through her new single life, I see that she can ask for help without flinching or giving up her pride, that she knows that love isn’t always rational, and that she is capable of such immense emotion even as a nurse who is trained to have boundaries. At times I worry about how sensitive she can be. And then I realize it’s hard to watch because I am built the same way. We understand each other. When we talk there are usually tears and hugs.

For Janet, the best advice came from a psychologist who advised her to go to Paris when friends invited her. “That was a game changer.” Anyone who says, “Never say no to Paris!” sounds like someone worth listening to, right? Long before I was a mother, Janet gave me the best parenting advice, “Always reassess.” Because of her, I look at every program, every school, every experience that Rhiannon has and I place value on them: Is this worth the money/time/energy – is this what Rhiannon needs? Janet taught me to do that. She is constantly working on bettering herself and her business. She’s a mentor to me in a lot of ways and one of the most amazing things she ever said to me is, “Just because you didn’t do everything right doesn’t mean that you deserve to be hurt and abused.”

Jodi wrote me, “Lots of things come to mind, but here’s my current one: Forgiving someone doesn’t mean that what they did was okay, it means you no longer give it the power to hurt/control you. So forgive and move on.” And she said forgiveness takes daily practice, so I’ve been mindful of that. Jodi has the great ability to make me feel like she’s agreeing with everything I say even while she’s redirecting me a bit. She’s not trying to change my mind or anything; she just knows intuitively how to get to the core of a situation. It’s probably why she works so well with adolescents. Maintaining positive energy is a gift and she makes it look easy. I always leave her company feeling like the answers are on their way to me.

Briana…She’s kind and lovable and flexible, even as she keeps careful boundaries and a tough heart. If this were the Wild West and I was called out to Main Street for a gunfight, she’d be the one with a rifle aimed at my enemy’s heart from some window (probably the brothel above the bar). Would she shoot? Not unless I signaled or she thought I was going to die. You’re guiding your own life, but she’s always available to jump in when you need her. How did she get so strong? “Other people’s opinions do not involve me.” How’s that for a mantra? It’s finally starting to sink in with me, too. When I’ve gone to her crying about my feelings being hurt, she has often said, “Fuck ’em. Who gives a shit about them? You have a great life. Focus on that.” She also gives the best hugs and is probably one degree of separation from President Obama. I’m not kidding. She knows everyone.

Maire. What can I say about Maire? We text almost daily and see each other at least every other week. She knows me. The best advice she ever got was, “Never try to teach a pig to sing. It wastes your time and annoys the pig.” Like Bri, she can be tough with me. It’s okay. I know she loves me. I also know she’s tough because if she weren’t she’d be sitting in a basement rocking back and forth. This woman volunteers her time, money and energy to animal rescue. She’s seen the sad and the ugly. Her heart is bigger than Africa and she’s taught me that you can love and still have tremendous boundaries in order to keep sane. Get the work done. You can cry later. She knows when she can push me and she knows when I just need a hug and a shoulder. When she’s blunt, I weigh what she says carefully, because I know there’s a reason for it. She’s generous and makes time for the important things.

I admire these women. I respect them immensely. They’re similar in that they are ambitious and dynamic and beautiful, but they all contribute something unique to my circle. I’m thinking I need to get them all in the same room. Maybe start a poker game…