Make Your Own Sunshine

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“Rather than trying to steal someone else’s sunshine, we should go and find our own.” 

I’ve seen this cartoon make it’s rounds on Facebook more than once. I love it.

I don’t believe in looking for happiness in someone else’s family. It isn’t there. If they’ll cheat with you, they will cheat on you 9 times out of 10. I’m sure someone out there can tell me they are the exception – that’s great. Me? I could never trust anyone who cheated.

I have a lot of male friends whom I trust and adore. And yes, I’m the kind of woman who will fly off the porch to hug a man I care about and think nothing of it. The men that have that level of spontaneity with me have earned that trust, are tried and true, and are friends with both my husband and myself.

What I am not, is the kind of woman who will allow a married man to tell me that I am “the only one he can talk to, the only one he can trust. He needs me.” That happened to me years ago — he was my boss’s boss and it took me a long time to get over the absolute betrayal I felt.

It took me even longer than that to get over the need that people believe it really happened. He’s kind of a high profile, everyone loves him, he’s just misunderstood, kind of guy. I think he’s a jerk. Today, I’m comfortable with the fact that I did almost everything right (I still think I should have dropped him where he stood, but you know.) I told on him and I walked away permanently and that is all that matters.

His actions, choices and lies cost me a career I thought I really wanted. It made me weird and very distrusting of men for a long time. I put new men in my life after that through all kinds of hoops and tricks. I wish I could take all of that back, but healing is a process I needed to go through.

Today I have a wonderful career that I am thrilled with, and I once again allow men to get close without having to dodge daggers along the way.

If you are a man who happened to meet me during my dagger years, I am so sorry. If you are still speaking to me – or reading my blog, thank you for your patience and grace.

Having said that I am also not above ending friendships with the opposite sex if I feel the friendship has become a threat to either of our marriages. It’s just how I roll. It’s how I was raised.

I will also end friendships with women whom I feel are becoming a threat to my marriage as well. Not that my husband would look – but the fact that they try so hard anyway gets them a one way ticket out of my life.

Permanently.

That has more to do with my self-worth than it does any kind of insecurity. I place deep value in my female friendships. Mutual respect, love and trust are vital.

Mutual respect, love and trust are vital in marriage as well. 

I love and trust my husband.

He loves and trusts me.

I am blessed.

There is no room in our lives for anyone who would look to steal our sunshine.

I’ve seen too many friends look for happiness elsewhere. Married or single. The damage done to their families and friendships is astronomical and it’s painful watching them walk out the consequences of their choices.


All I Ever Wanted

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I made it to the parking lot.

Then I made it to our car.

The minute my hand touched the door handle, I collapsed into tears.

Dropping our oldest off to college for the first time knocked the wind out of me and I cried the entire way home.

All I ever wanted when I was younger was to be someone’s wife, and somebody’s mother. I never dreamed of any other life really. Oh sure, maybe the occasional wish to be an actress or run away and be a circus clown but mostly I just wanted to be married. I thought being married would complete me in a way nothing else could. I was totally wrong in that assessment by the way, but that’s a story for later.

That kind of vibe sorta sticks and makes dating difficult to say the least. I have been looking for my MRS Degree since I could walk and talk. Guys know it and steer clear for the most part. Somehow or other though I met this really cute guy who picked up on the vibe and didn’t care. Seems he wanted the same things. Well, he didn’t want to be a wife, but he didn’t exactly mind having one – even one who lacked certain domestic skills like ironing and cooking.

My identity was always wrapped up in who I was dating. Codependancy and I are old roommies. You think Bella was nauseating? I was worse, trust me. When my high school sweetheart joined the navy I dreamed of being an officer’s wife and when that didn’t work out, it was the science teacher’s wife, the movie star’s wife, the … well you get the picture.

Being Deana, just wasn’t in my solar system of a brain. Every time I dated a new guy, I altered my personality to fit his. Manipulative? Yep. I tried on personalities and life styles like women try on clothes in a department store.

If I want to shift blame, I could easily place it on how I was raised. “act right or move out” was the motto in my home growing up. I lived in constant fear that I would wake up one day and my bags would be packed and I would be on my own. Truthfully though, where my chameleon came from is irrelevant. I own my adult choices today – even if it took 25 years to face them.

That’s what this blog is about you know. Owning choices. Life after kids. I’ve gotten away from that lately, and I’m sorry. I’ve been busy.

I am the quintessential mom. PTA president, Youth Group Leader, Home Room Mom, Office Volunteer, Substitute teacher, soccer coach. I did it all, gladly by the way. I thought I was going to die when they grew up. I didn’t.

My children are grown now. I joke about that regularly. My opening introduction is “My children are grown and my gardens are dead. Boy, are they happy I got it in that order.”

It’s been four years since my oldest left for college and one year since my youngest did the same.

In that time I have discovered:

  • I love horses and even rode through the jungle’s of Belize on horseback.
  • I’m funny and started doing stand up.
  • I competed in a Clean Comedy Challenge in Indiana against pros who’ve been doing this for 10-20 years and while I didn’t win or place, I had a blast!
  • I took my very first vacation ever – one that did not include visiting family.
  • I also took my first vacation (gasp) without my husband.
  • I left the Lutheran church and found a tradition that is more supportive of outreach and ministry.
  • I started playing the banjo.
  • I started serving dinner in a homeless shelter
  • I sponsored my first child through Cups of Cold Water Ministries in the Dominican Republic
  • I swam with sharks in Cancun
  • I snorkeled a barrier reef.
  • I love blue grass. Who knew?
  • I come from a long line of farmers and ranchers (both sides of my family) — Instead of living in the suburbs, I want to own a ranch. My husband does not share that dream and so we compromise – I ride at a friends ranch instead. compromise is good.
  • I’m going to learn how to rope, chase cans, and pen cattle for fun. All on horseback.
  • I’m leaving for my second ever vacation next month and this time, I’m going to ride along the ocean and IN the ocean bareback on a horse. (How freaking cool is that?)
  • I’ve taken command of my health and I’m learning about genetically modified foods and how they impact my body.
  • I’ve become and advocate against Monsanto.
  • I came out as a democrat.
  • And I went back in the closet over that because I couldn’t handle the rejection and pushback. (I’m working on that)
  • I’m learning how to voice my opinions with respect and ask for the same in return.
  • I let go of old friendships that require me to stay a chameleon and feed my fears of abandonment.
  • I’m making new friends.
  • I started writing poetry.
  • I wrote my first novel (unpublished, but written at least)
  • And I’m getting ready to write my first non-fiction book.

I am free.

Life doesn’t end when our kids move out. It simply opens a new chapter and a new opportunity to meet the woman in the mirror. Have you met her lately? Have you listened to her? Are you free?

For some of you, this is your first year on your own. Your child has left for college and you are wondering what’s next. I’m here to tell you there is a lot of awesomeness next. Find one thing you want to learn this year and try it. You may like it, you may not. But either way — enjoy the ride.

Where there is anger, there can be great comedy, but first you need to face the pain.

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I’ve come to the conclusion that life will make a woman out of me yet, just not today.

Today my inner-child is engaged in the dialog. She likes to show up from time to time when she wants to teach me something. Now that I am in comedy, she and I have become quite close.

At the advice of some close comic friends, I’ve started mining the fertile soil of my past and my inner psyche for material. The only way I can safely travel through those ancient fields is if I take her along. I need to see through both the detached eyes of an adult as well as hers. She keeps me honest and she keeps me from putting myself down on stage.

For instance, I once wrote a joke about being “the fat chick with self-esteem issues” and that one never made the stage. She didn’t like it at all. And she’s back, this time as my genus as we walk through some hard topics like  affairs, abuse, alcoholism, marriage, and self-esteem.

Sometimes I go through dark hallways when I write, even if I’m writing comedy. I find recesses in my own spirit that are wilted and it takes a bit of a journey before I get the water and light needed to bring balance back.

Sometimes I don’t realize I’m in a tunnel until I start getting emails and questions about my Facebook sharing. My humor get’s dark in tunnels. Without thinking I have (in a week’s time) changed my cover pic to I’m with Stupid (A brain pointing to a heart) and shared memes that are along the lines of “don’t cheat, leave if it’s that bad” and “do I smother them or make pancakes?” and people are starting to ask if my husband and I are okay — oops..

My husband and are FINE, thank you for asking. I’m just focusing on a hard chapter and I’m still unsure on the direction to take. I am presently working on a comedy set about cheating and low, the topic of the week at least in my internet “world” is cheating as well. Or maybe I’m just noticing it because of where my focus is these days. It seems like so many people are talking about it. Some are doing it. Other’s are posting meme’s against it. Other’s are getting divorced because of it and I feel like a voyeur most days.

A few weeks ago I heard a radio show justifying cheating, and this week I discovered that MTV has a man show that teaches guys how to cheat without getting caught. I can’t tell if it’s meant to be a comedy show or just pure crap. Or maybe it’s both, who knows.  My skull finally exploded this week and it’s taken me a while to figure out why I’m so angry.

“What anger’s us in another person is more often than not, an unhealed aspect in ourselves. If we had already resolved that particular issue, we would not be irritated by it’s reflection back at us.” — Simon Fuller

Like it or not, there are victims in this equation. I know what cheating does to people. I’ve spent a lifetime cleaning up that wreckage and there’s some healing left to do. I have kinda strange boundary issues because of it as well. I can find the funny, if I allow myself the healing I need. No healing, no funny. That’s just how it works.

I don’t know of many things that can confuse a person more than growing up with a revolving door of parental partners. I’ve honestly lost count at the number of men and women who entered and left my life. It started long before my parent’s divorce and never really ended until recently.

Potential partners trying to win me over in order to win over the parent they want to have sex with is confusing as well as frustrating to a child. I always saw right through it and I learned how to play the game. I figured out pretty quickly that men  and women alike were willing to drop big bucks on me if needed. I hate to admit this, but I’ve racked up trips to California, Disney World, Detroit Tiger’s ball games, designer clothes, college books, shoes, and many other things. I knew what they were doing, and I played along to my profit as well as their gain.

Of course, I always had questions.

Will I get a new Dad?

Is this my new Mom?

How attached do I get?

How long are they here for?

Will they stay?

None of them ever stayed and so it’s just a matter of time before the questions became “When will they leave?” and “Is it my fault they are gone?” No wonder I have trust issues.

Mining comedy doesn’t always start in shallow waters. Good comedy goes beyond knock knock jokes and puns and searches for that diamond in the rough — that redeemable moment of vulnerability and truth. Depths and layers are explored. It’s a painful process at times. Writing comedy allows me to explore the layers of my life and of society, allowing me to be vulnerable and not only face myself and my past, but to embrace the future as well.

Good comedy has an obligation to take you past the comfortable and expand your mind, but first it sometimes breaks a writer’s heart. All in a day’s work.

Talk Dirty To Me: 22 Years and Dating…

Me: My oldest just left for college and it’s killing me. I don’t know what I’m going to do when my youngest leaves.

Her: Oh honey, you’ll do just fine. I’ll never forget the day my youngest moved out.

Me: What did you do?

Her: I came home from work, parked my car in the garage, took off my clothes, opened a beer and sat on the couch buck naked, because I could.

Me: What did your husband do?

Her: Grabbed himself a beer and helped me break in the couch.

BLUSH. 

I sat there and stared at this women who is ten years my senior, in utter shock and frankly envious admiration.

I hear about marriages going south after the kids leave more than I do about getting to know each other again.

“According to data from the National Center for Health Statistics, the overall divorce rate declined by 1.4 percent between 1981 and 1991, the Arps said in their book, The Second Half of Marriage: Facing the Eight Challenges of the Empty-Nest Years. However, during those same years, the divorce rate grew 16% for couples married 30 years or more.” – citation Marriage Missions International

I’ll be honest you guys, I don’t want to be a statistic. I don’t have all of the answers. I may very well wake up single one day and if I do it won’t be without a fight. I believe some things are worth fighting for, marriage especially.

Our youngest has chosen to live at home and attend Jr College rather than move away so unless I want to pay for therapy on top of college tuition, breaking in the couch might not be an option just yet. I do, however, think it’s possible to learn how to date again.

I know all marriage seminars and books tell you to date while you still have kids. Seriously? Who has the time? Or the energy. My husband traveled almost constantly through out our marriage. He could have pursued music and chose to keep his corporate job instead. That was a huge sacrifice. He did so in order to provide a living and a home for us. I’m immensely grateful for that. While I regret greatly that we didn’t date like they tell you to in those marriage advice things, it is possible to re-learn how to connect.  While we were raising kids, because he traveled, I made sure I took time out for myself when I could and I focused on exclusively female friendships.

I say exclusively and I mean it. No men. My reason for that was simple. Being home alone with children all day for days at a time can be lonely. So lonely in fact that the smelly homeless guy who smiles at me can start to look attractive. Every parenting book I ever read warned about that and they were right.

Can I be totally honest with you? I cannot begin to tell you the number of creepy guys who went out of their way to make sure I knew they were there for me if I needed them. Not nice guys, I’m talking the sidled up alongside me, give me a sideways hug so they could cop a feel rejects. Jeff used to like watching me untangle from these guys and run straight to him. Sorry if I seem blunt, but that happens to both men and women.

I will openly admit, refusing to allow men into my life while I was raising our kids might not have been the best tactic. I may have missed out on more than just learning how to set appropriate boundaries with them. (Something I do struggle with at 46.) and I may have missed out on some great growth opportunities so please don’t send me letters about how y’all had male and female friends and it never interfered with your marriage – if you did that’s great. I personally chose not to that’s all. For better or for worse, I can’t change that. The male friends I do have are friends we have together and they are great friends.

There you have it, two confessions, I don’t know how to be friends with men and I didn’t do a great job dating my husband while we were raising kids. We were busy and we were tired. We also knew that the day was coming when we’d wake up and think, “Who are you and what are you doing in my bed?” and so we started planning.

My plan was to sell our house in the suburbs, move to mid-town and go to concerts and such in River Parks like we did when we were dating in Chicago and I wanted to travel the world.

His plan was to buy a bigger boat and fish more.

We neither live in midtown nor own a big boat.

We needed to learn how to compromise.

Sometimes we do things he likes, like fishing or golf, and sometimes we do things I like such as concerts, or plays. One of the things I love best about our marriage is we make each other laugh and we put each other first.

Most of the time it works out. In June we saw Barry Manilow and he didn’t die and in July we saw James Taylor which was amazingly awesome. I’ve even started watching him play again on Saturday nights, something I gave up when the boys were in high school because I was just too busy. And he comes to watch me when I perform comedy. We support each others dreams.

Which brings me to a crucial point, developing myself as a woman so that I have something more substantial to lean upon than just his arm if you know what I mean is very important during this season of my life otherwise I run the risk of running away to find myself. Well that and boring him to tears.  So I took up banjo, started riding a bike, and started comedy and acting. I’m becoming informed about politics, and music and world affairs. I became a Democrat which didn’t thrill him, but it does interest him. It’s a lot easier to date a man – or a woman for that matter – when you know who you are and can bring something to the table, otherwise the burden in on one person and nobody likes that.

Jeff and I will be celebrating 22 years of marriage this Saturday. Parts of it have been wonderful and parts of it have been hard. I come from a divorced family, full of fear and baggage as do a lot of people. We’ve had to work through our stuff together. I love hearing the compliments of how people perceive us, and yet I’m afraid we do at times give the wrong impression. Yes, we are happily married. Is it always happy? No. Sometimes it’s work. I need you to understand that – behind every happy marriage is a ton of work.

Don’t get me wrong, I adore this man however staying married is the hardest thing either of us have ever done in our lives. I don’t want to mislead anybody. In today’s age when people bail at the first sign of trouble we didn’t. We have a very real marriage. There are days where we drive each other to absolute distraction and there are days when we click on all six cylinders and we stick it out and we fight for each other. We think it’s worth it. While we do not have the money for a big celebration this month due to college bills, we’ll find something. And it will be fun.

So married readers: Do you date your spouse? Would you like to share your dating secrets with us?

The Avengers Are Coming!

While at the movies yesterday we saw the poster for The Avengers.

I told my husband I really want to see that movie.

He looked at the poster, and then asked why I wanted to see it.

I said “The story line of course. “

He smiled and said

“That’s like a man saying he reads playboy just for the articles. Just sayin.”