Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Foretold One WILL have a bellybutton!

    "I want a story, Mom," the Zombie Elf said.  
    "Kid, it's late.  Just go to sleep?" I pleaded, pulling a pillow over my head and hoping he'd run back to his bed. He's not a toddler anymore--old enough to sleep through the night.
    "Mom, I'm scared. Please tell me a story so I can have good dreams?"
    Who could refuse that logic.  Sleep or logic?  Sleep or logic"All right. But it's gonna be a short one."
    The little bundle of joy jumped right into my bed, under my covers and snuggled close.  "Once upon a time, in a land where evil monsters roamed and a terrible king had taken control of the land, there was a prophecy."
   "What's a propety?" he interrrupted.
   "Something that people believe will happen in the future.  Anyway, before I tell you the prophecy, you need to know something."  I leaned close and whispered, "No one in that land had a bellybutton!"
    His eyes widened.  "No way!"
    "Yes way."
    "Mom, I came in here because I was having bad dreamsBut no bellybuttons . . . that's even worse."
   "Do you want to hear the story, or not?"
    "Yeah." He finally nodded.
    "The prophecy went something like this: One person will be born into this evil land. One person with the power of . . . the bellybutton.  Only that person could defeat the bad king!"
    My boy gasped.  "Was it me?  The one who could fight the bad guy?"
    "Of course!"
    "Mama, wait. Why's it called a button?"
    "Ummm. . ."  Some things are just too hard to answer wittily in the middle of the night, so I dodged the question and continued with the story instead. 

    "Well, you didn't want anyone to know that you had a bellybutton!  You were the only one in the entire world who could fight the bad guy."  The story went on and on.  I thought my boy would fall asleep, but he didn't.  He just listened about his valiant fights and battles until he stormed the villainous castle (located in the heart of some sand dunes).
    "You fought and fought."
    "Wow and all because I had a bellybutton!"  He lifted up his shirt and smiled fondly at his own tummy.  
    "After hitting the bad guy in the head, he fell into a deep sleep," I said, trying to finally end the dumbest story known to man.  
     I had my boy lie back.  "Then, you couldn't help it.  You had to see a stomach without a bellybutton!  You stared at the bad king . . . pulled up his shirt . . ."  I turned to my boy, eyes wide and said, "Guess. What. You. Saw?"
    "What?  What?"  he asked.  "Mama?  What was it?  A bellybutton?  No bellybutton?  A face?"
    "A face?  No!  Instead of a bellybutton there was a note written just to you.  'Zombie Elf,' it said, 'Go to Sleep.'"
    "No it didn't say that."
    "Oh yes it did.  By the way, the bad guy had a bellybutton too.  Turns out he was your father." 
    The Zombie Elf gaped, then as I giggled, he laughed pretty hard too.
    "Can I sleep by you tonight?"
    "Fine," I said.  "But go to sleep right now."
    "Only if you'll tell me this story again tomorrow."
    "I guess."  And that's how the story of the bellybutton began.

 Do you ever tell silly stories?     

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

At the end of my rope...

I was at the end of my marital rope, needing good, solid advice.  So I went to my closest friend and said, "My marriage isn't what it used to be.  Things have changed.  I'm not sure what's going on, but we need help.  Have you ever gone through something like this?"
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    My dear, sweet friend, who always dressed at the height of fashion and always seemed so put together, refused to step down from her pedestal as she replied, "How strange . . . I've been married longer than you have, and we've never had any marital problems.  Never even fought.  Too bad you didn't marry someone like my husband."
    I got off the phone and cried.  Maybe I was a loser.  Maybe I should stop being so transparent because then other people can't take me down at any time.  Maybe I should just toughen up?

Need an example of my idiotic transparency? 
    But today I realized something quite ironic.  See, my divorce became official the day before Thanksgiving.  At least I've been honest enough that most people understood why Cade and I could no longer be together.  
    Well, yesterday, this friend came to my house and told me she'd just gotten divorced too. I was shocked. "But I thought everything was perfect," I said.
    "I wanted it to seem that way because things were so bad."  She broke down and started crying.  "I needed to tell you.  But I also wanted to apologize.  Remember when you called me, needing relationship advice?"
    I nodded.
    "Instead of telling the truth, I made my life seem perfect. . . .  Elisa, I'm so sorry.  He was having multiple affairs, gambling . . .  No one knew and I was so embarrassed.  Why would he spend the money our kids needed?  Why would he have affairs--wasn't I good enough?  And you--no matter what shit you're going through--you tell everyone all the good and bad like it's no big deal.   I could never be like that and it made me want to take you down a notch.  You don't wear the cutest clothes.  You let your skeletons out of your closet . . . you do these things that bug me!  But at the same time . . . they inspire me."
    Tears flooded my eyes as she said the words.
   "So I came over here to tell you," she continued, "I'm sorry and that my marriage wasn't perfect.  No one's marriage is.  And somehow you're the only person I can talk to because you'll understand and you'll tell me what you've been through too.  And that transparency, it helps everyone around you realize they aren't alone. . . .  So, do you hate me?"
    I hugged her then, this huge hug.  And. She. Hugged. Me. Back. Because in that moment--after years and years--we finally became true friends.
    The moment reminded me of a saying I heard recently: girls tear each other down; women build each other up. 
    "Sometimes life is shit," I said.  "But I'll always be here.  Now sit your ass down and let's have some ice cream."  
    I scooped us bowls overflowing with mint chocolate chip goodness because she was having a hard time and it seemed like a great excuse for me to binge too.

    And the point of this story is that we're all different.  But everything will come out into the light someday.  Maybe my approach to life isn't too bad after all.  I'd rather tell the truth, showing the good and bad, rather than pretending everything is perfect when it's not.  After this experience, I've decided that people who hide their imperfections are either just insecure, or trying to bring other people down. 

    How do you approach life's problems?  Would you rather ignore them, or face them head-on?  What have your results been like?  
    Also, how do you think she should have handled my initial question when I was crying out for relationship advice?   

Monday, February 17, 2014

Something Worth Believing In--Plus Enter to win a $50 gift certificate

Novica, a company that lives by the mantra to "Spread Happiness," really lives up to their motto.  They promote global artisans, while still making products that really will amaze buyers!
    I recently had the opportunity to review one of their products, and I'm absolutely thrilled.

Here's the sweater they sent to me:

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    Not only was I impressed with the quality (which says a lot since I'm a seamstress), but I was also inspired by the design and comfort of the product. 

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    I wore this to church yesterday and was floored with how many people complimented me on my clothes.

Anyway, I wasn't paid to give this review, just asked to give my honest feedback after receiving the product.  
    And (drum roll please) I absolutely LOVE it!
    If you'd like to check out Novica, or enter to win a $50.00 gift certificate to their store, please enter the rafflecopter below.

Click HERE to visit the Novica website yourself.

Additional links that might interest you at their site:

 a Rafflecopter giveaway

Monday, February 10, 2014

Taking a year off from serious relationships!

I'm in the mountains.  My hangover is killing me, just another reminder that I'm not doing well.  I keep drowning my sorrows in red beer.  People want to hang out.  Guys ask me on dates.  But I'm depressed, trying my hardest to survive this.  So I'm in the damn mountains alone, weaving near a stream, wishing I had a fishing pole with me.
    At one point my side of the shore ends.  I have to cross to make it to my destination--just around the bend on the other side of the river--but the water is rushing past like crazy.  I look across the raging waters, wondering if I should stop.  My head pulses again and I shake my head.  Screw that stupid water, and screw my life.
    I tap my pocket then; I'd gotten two letters in the mail and somehow they were my lifelines, from two people more dear to me than most.  That morning, I'd decided to read those letters in my favorite cave.  It might sound silly to anyone who hasn't been depressed, but I needed to be up in my mountains, read those letters and feel peace even if for a moment.
    So I strip off my shoes and socks, throw them over my shoulder and roll my pants up.  It's 20 degrees and the water bites my skin as my slender white feet dip through the surface.  I'm up to my shins, then my knees.  And it's so icy that after a moment I can't feel my feet sinking through the mire beneath.  But I won't stop.  I'll find my cave and read those letters there amidst the bats, the howling, windy entrance, me in the darkness, with only a flashlight to be my guide and help me read words written from people I love.
   Then I'm back in the moment.  The water is so deep, I'm pulling the letters from my pocket, holding them high over my head so they won't get wet.  I'm up to my waist in water, and the current is strong.  I've lost so much weight, down to 105 pounds, that soon I'm slipping as the water pulls, tugging so hard.
   I cry out, almost losing one of my letters, barely saving it and myself in time. 
    I feel like I can't hold on . . . but still reach for a massive, slippery boulder at my side.  And I'm thinking, Is this how I die, thinking of you in the mountains we love, as the waters take me away?
    The smell of mountain air and pine trees fill my senses--that gives me strength to climb, struggling hard to get onto that boulder while still holding my letters.  My upper body muscles are killing me.  And I still can't feel my bare feet.
    But I make it--somehow, like I made it through all the other shit I've gone through these past months.  And I stand on that rock, look at my reddening feet and my soaking pants.  This situation is so me--not something I've done recently, but rather something I used to do when I was single before I met Cade 13 years ago.  And as the thought hits me, I can't help smiling. . . .
    Even though the wind hits me hard and I'm freezing, I don't care so much.  I can jump to the other side of the shore from my rock.  The opening of my precious cave is finally within sight.
    My fist still clutches the letters tightly; they're awfully crumpled from my trek through the water.  Despite that, I keep grinning; the emotional pain isn't at the forefront of my mind anymore.
    I put my socks and shoes on.  My feet come back to life with tingles and heated pains.  And my pants are still rolled up, soaking.  That's when I start running to my cave.  I can hardly wait to sit inside its jagged opening, like being in a lover's caress.
    Suddenly I'm there, my hands feeling every part of the cave's sides.  I don't even turn my waterproof flashlight on.  Instead, I'm eagerly touching the rock, inspecting every part, just like it's the first time.  
    The farther I go inside those rocky hallways, somehow God's love radiates from the innards of the mountains.  And my heart is racing, beating with the same soul I haven't felt since I was an uninhibited kid, knowing exactly what I wanted and who I truly was . . . all by myself.
    After a while, I feel the back of the cave, knew it would end soon; I've been in there a million times.  I sit with my shoulders to the wall, breathing hard, emotions rushing around as I gasp, intrigued and passionate.
    And as I mold myself to that rock, it cradles me softly.  I pull out my flashlight, click it on and hold it between my teeth.
    Finally reading those letters makes me cry for the thousandth time this year, sweet tears mingling with the mud and river water that's dried on my skin.  And the sentences that stick out to me are at the bottom of both letters--and although they're from two different people, the words are shockingly the same: "I love you and your kids so much! Elisa, enjoy!"
    "Enjoy . . .  Enjoy . . .," I repeat the word.
    Soon the flashlight is turned off.  The letters are placed gingerly in my jacket pocket.  And even though I'm in complete darkness and my pants are still freezing cold, I'm content, really happy for the first time in a while.
    I put my hand to the rock as if it's a lover's strong chest. Then I whisper to God, hoping He can hear me, "I love you, God. Thank you for letting me be alive.  Thank you for reminding me that I can enjoy life again, whether I'm alone or not."
    So I left my cave, struggled back through the water, and decided there's something I need to do for myself: I'm going to take at least a year off from having a serious relationship.  I'm going to focus on myself and my kids.  And by golly, I'm going to enjoy!  

One of my last caving trips where I took my oldest daughter, the Scribe.
    It was awesome seeing the love of nature blossom in her, just as it had within me at that same age.

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This song kept repeating in my head as I hiked to my cave that day.

Friday, February 7, 2014

My Heart is in Heaven

I suck at poetry--really.  So, be kind :)

Rocking, swaying, 
on a rickety porch swing...
There's no one to comfort me, 
or anything...

Crying, sobbing, 
as I open the door...
Asking God, 
"What's this happening for?"

Trudging, slowly, 
up old wooden stairs,
Wanting to take back, 
all those love affairs...

But as I enter a room, 
with all its mildew and must...
I see my old trunk, 
covered in dust.

So I take out the key,
and I open the lid.
I'd hid something inside,
when I was a kid.

Buried under blankets
and toys that fell apart...
is something quite shocking;
it's a beating heart.

So I pull it from the trunk,
and I cradle it near.
I walk to an open window
as the heart fills with fear.

I sing to the wind,
calling its name.
Hoping that something,
will take away the pain.

A dove appears
on the window sill.
Studies my eyes,
then remains still.

So I hold out my heart.
The dove takes it for me.
Flying up to Heaven,
farther than eyes can see.

So I smile through tears.
Knowing it'll be okay.
God has my heart, 'til I'm ready...
to give it away.

Saturday, February 1, 2014

Losing a Battle to Drugs

We were always meant to know each other.
    When we met at fifteen it seemed as if we'd been friends from lifetimes before.  
    We fell in love one night, crawling combat-style through a mine.  I wore ripped jeans, but had done my hair like a prom queen 'cause I wanted to impress you--the cutest boy in school.  Of course you wore designer clothes and a sporty shirt that made your muscles bulge.  We didn't look the part but were both willing to get down and dirty.  
    I remember looking back through that mine, shining a flashlight in your direction.  You chuckled, admitting you never pegged me for the adventurous type either.  The whole experience was unreal AND I couldn't believe you'd given the school nerd a chance.  
    We made it through those close mine-spaces, each reveling in the other's humor and ability to navigate through anything--I thought you'd be like that through life too . . . I hoped.
    That night I'd worn a gorgeous ring on my wedding finger--from another guy--but as I drove home from the mine, I threw the ring out my car window and it disappeared in the snow edging Parley's Canyon.
   Our relationship continued from there, and I swear all the other girls were jealous.  Why HAD you given me a chance when you could have anyone?
    Time passed. I learned about your home life and how you needed someone adventurous and fun like me, just to get your mind off things.  The shit you lived through appalled me.  I couldn't imagine a step-family like that.  I couldn't imagine a huge, muscular person being verbally abused . . . or physically hurt.
   We would dance back then, without any music.  Once we sneaked away from a school prom.  I wore an evening gown, then climbed a cold statue.  You talked up to me, like I was your damn Juliet, telling me I'd caught the stars in my glowing eyes.  I jumped down and you spun me.  We sat back-to-back on a cement wall afterward, then hugged for hours, me trying to take away every bit of pain you'd ever felt at home and school when you were severely bullied in younger years.
    You brought flowers to me during class when we were Juniors; even though you should have been in class too.  I heard rumors later that you'd sneaked out and your teacher didn't even know you were gone.  You filled my locker with gifts.  Always did the right thing. Always said the right things.  My friends agreed that "we" were the couple everyone idolized.  And no one knew all the shit both of us hid inside.
    When we broke up, I thought it would kill me . . . and maybe you too.  We held hands in front of your dad's house: You begging me to stop listening to my family when they said I needed to date a boy from church.  Me asking if you'd really done drugs.
    "We'll run away," we both cried.  "Pack up the stupid car and forget religion, judgment, and addiction.  Forget popularity.  Forget everyone's opinions."  
    BUT . . . I knew you were on drugs despite how strong and healthy you looked.  You even admitted it once, saying the drugs made you a tail-chaser . . . it wasn't your fault.  
          And I stayed . . .
                       for a while.

    In the end, it didn't work.  
    You came to visit me where I waitressed.  I saw you with a million different girls.  They were gorgeous and perfectly dressed while my hair was in a tight bun, and a dirty work apron hugged my waist.  I always smiled and wished you the best.  And after time, our romance completely died within me like winter finally came into my young life.  And at the beginning of our Senior year that previous love blossomed into an unconditional friendship, the likes of which I'd never seen.


    Each of us got married, wished the other the best.  After that I thought I wouldn't see you anymore.  I moved up North.  Surprisingly, so did you.
    Somehow, we always found each other.  Chancing upon each other at a gas station.  A grocery store.  A bowling alley.  Even on the street.  And we'd catch up.  You looking skinnier and skinnier.  Me wrinkling with age.  
     Although things weren't perfect for either of us, people saw our outter appearances and didn't even comprehend what we'd gone through.  The only ones who really got it . . . were us.  And every time I ran into you, I wondered if I could have made a difference in your life if we hadn't broken up forever ago.  And you said, you wished we'd never given up.  Little did I know, what a difference we'd still make in each other's lives. . . .

    Years after you'd sobered up, things exploded in my life.  You found me at the women's shelter, told me everything would be okay.  I heard about your divorce, and then the tragic things that followed.  How you'd become homeless, barely surviving.  You were in a stand-off where you were almost shot.  
    I told you how my marriage ended too--that I'd also been homeless.  How I'd made poor choice after poor choice and lost relationships I could never get back.
    We sat back-to-back on a different cement wall from our youth.  You hugged me for hours, in those strong arms I never truly forgot.
    After that I started getting my life back together.  We hiked and went caving, so reminiscent of a mine in my most cherished memories.  
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Me, on one of our infamous hikes 

Then as we sat eating dinner one night with my four kids, you said you'd always love us as family.  And I knew exactly what you meant because the feeling was mutual.  
    We said we'd always be honest.  ALWAYS stay friends.  Always have each other's backs.  But then our friendship changed. . . . 
    I threw another ring out my van window.  There were new flowers waiting for me, not in a high school class, this time they were arranged on my kitchen table with a beautiful card.  
    And memories came back, with more impact than I'd banked on.
    But although we're adults now, we're still the same core people.  No matter how much each of us pushed and tried, things didn't feel right between us, and so I cried because we both knew it would never work.   We were destined to only be friends.
    Then you started losing weight.  You started chasing tail like crazy.  I turned into a serious nag.  And our friendship almost died.
   So we sat down at last, made good on our promise and told each other the truth.  We were sobbing on my front porch, both husks of what once was: you skinny and sad, me tired and weak.  And as the neighbors walked past, asking if we were okay, I knew, people no longer envied us like they had in high school.
    Why does life cycle like this?  Why couldn't my friendship have been more to help you?  Why couldn't yours have saved me?  And why can't it ever be enough?  
    I'm losing my mind as it is . . . and now I'm losing you too.


    I've had dreams that you died from an overdose.  And there was a hole in my life--the kind you can't imagine.  I go to gas stations, bowling alleys, groceries stores, even the damn women's shelter--just hoping to catch a glimpse of your ghost.  But you aren't there--you're never there.
    And no matter how many rings I throw out car windows . . . Or how many times I'm smelling the musty dried flowers you gave me years ago, I won't get my friend back.  I lost you because I wasn't stronger than the damn cravings.  And you lost me because I'd been looking for a hero instead of finding the strength inside myself. 
    And so in my dream you're gone.  And in real life, you aren't here either.  
    And, my life will never be the same.
Dedicated to those who might be losing their battle to drugs.  
Please stop and think about what you're doing to your life and the lives of those you love.

This is my stand against drugs and the hardships that often lead people to drug abuse.

Do you know the Baby Dance?

Doctor Jones just turned 4!

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This video is from a while back, 
but the "Baby Dance" still makes me smile.
Love you, Doctor Jones!