About Moxie Girl Musings

Moxie Girl Musings is about starting over from square one after tragedy impacted my young family. It's filled with stories of triumph, struggle, snafus, hopes, and dreams. Sometimes there will be features from other writers that I like and every so often I'll include an original short story, but normally I simply write what's on my mind at the time. Welcome to my unfiltered true-life story as I figure out this thing called life. http://www.amberleaeaston.com

Friday, October 30, 2009

Leaping from the Edge

I am standing on the edge of my life about to take a leap of faith. The wind of possibility is whispering in my ear saying "go...go now...your dream is yours for the taking."

There have been many new beginnings in my life, but few have felt so damn good as this one. I am superstitious so won't go into too much detail for fear of the dreaded jinx. Don't laugh. Jinxes exist!

In the past few years I have gone on a spiritual journey, some of which has touched on the idea of manifesting my intentions and goals. Whenever I read about manifesting, the consensus is the same. Keep the energy focused on the outcome and do not breathe a word of it to anyone else. I completely buy into this concept of keeping this good energy focused on my goal. I know too many energy suckers who live for the moment of seeing my face flip-flop from glee to glum.

I am sure everyone has at least one person in their lives who feels the need to be a "voice of reason" or the "responsible one". This nay-sayer stamps the jinx on dreams and opportunities. The jinx-giver relishes in holding a dreamer back from the edge, relishes in mocking someone who dares reach further than he/she has ever dared, relishes in maintaining the status-quo and relishes in sucking that good energy from an opportunity. Jinxes exist...but they are human beings not phantom curses.

Well, to them I say..."so long, energy suckers!" I am sprinting toward the edge, leaping over it, and laughing at the sky just for the hell of it. Exhilarating.

Tuesday, October 27, 2009

Out of the Shadow

A year ago my fingers would shake whenever I typed on an on-line social site. I would think, "oh no, someone is going to steal my identity" even though I never had so much as my last name on a post. I would shyly chew my lip when it came to filling out the on-line profile because I couldn't imagine why anyone would find me remotely interesting. I thought I had nothing meaningful to contribute. I thought if people knew me--knew the real take-me-as-I-am-bare-bones Amber--I would be rejected. Hiding had been working well for me and I saw no reason to stop.

This hiding carried over to face-to-face encounters as well. I wanted to meet new people, wanted to be the social self I had once been; but felt like I had scars covering my face and body since my husband's suicide. I felt I had the words "suicide survivor" tattooed on my forehead. It's strange what suicide does to the people left behind. For me, it left invisible scars both inside and out. These scars manifested as me shutting people out, gaining weight, sabotaging career opportunities and hiding behind closed doors.

Tonight I realized how much evolution I have experienced in the past twelve months. With those shaky fingers of a year ago, I managed to poke into the virtual world inch by inch. I am just as amazed when I connect with a former college friend as when I connect with a stranger from the other side of the world. What fascinates me has nothing to do with technology and everything to do with being accepted as I am in the here and now with my baggage in tow.

You may look at me and not see these scars...but I know they exist beneath the surface. The difference is I no longer hide them. Through this virtual world I have learned to show my scars and to appreciate them as signs of survival rather than weakness. Experimenting out here in the anonymous world of the internet has ironically given me confidence to drop the anonymity.

I know a lot of people who are also in hiding for their own reasons. Perhaps they have been betrayed and are scared to trust. Perhaps their heart has been broken and they are too afraid to open it up again. Whatever the reason, I am not the only one out there who has been hiding a part of themselves.

Hiding is a waste of time that none of us can truly afford. Safety in the shadows is overrated. Trust me...it's much better out here in the light, even if the light illuminates our most heinous scars.

Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Another Reason to Stop Eating Out

For months now, I have told myself to cut back on eating out. Not only is it costly, but it only feeds my already lazy tendencies. Despite this, I took my daughter out for a nice dinner last Saturday, just the two of us. Or at least that was the plan.

As Briahna and I settled into our booth for two intent on enjoying our mother-daughter time, I noticed the two couples next to us who were enjoying a bottle of wine. They looked like your average suburbanites, late 30s to early 40s, a little chubby all around and dressed casually but nice for 4PM at the Olive Garden.

Before the salad arrived, I heard my neighbors to the right start speaking loudly about the joys of spouse swapping and how they all felt it had saved their marriage. Sure enough Briahna, who is 13, looked at me and asked, "what is spouse swapping?"

My life as a parent of two adolescents is difficult enough without having to explain the swingers lifestyle. C'mon, people! Don't we know how to act in public anymore? So, being the savvy mom I am, I chewed my breadstick before saying, "no, I think they said house swapping". Briahna doesn't look like she bought my explanation but shrugged as 13 year olds often do and grabbed a breadstick.

The talk to the right only grew louder and more expressive. They loudly told the waiter about their exploits with sex, alcohol, spouse swapping and how "picky" they were in choosing what couples to invite into their circle. By this time, Briahna knew they were definitely not talking about house swapping. When they moved on to talking about outlawing butt biting because someone named Steve got carried away last weekend, I threw in the towel. This mother-daughter dinner had gotten way off track from my original intention.

I don't have a problem with what anyone does in their bedroom, just keep it at home. I do not consider myself a prude in any way and am proud to call myself a liberal. But there comes a point of knowing when a conversation should loudly take place in a quiet public dining room and when it would be best to have it in your own living room over a potluck. Heck, they could have swapped later and I could have enjoyed a nice Italian dinner with my daughter! Win-win all around.

Oh...and you can only imagine the questions Briahna had about why anyone would be biting anyone else's butt. It was a long ride home.

Tuesday, October 20, 2009

My Wedding Ring

Well, my wedding ring has been a source of roller coaster emotion since my husband's death. After the first year, I took it off because I felt I "should". Then I would put it on again here and there when I felt I needed it. I then thought this was a crutch of some kind so I gave my wedding ring set to my daughter, who is only 13. She lost part of the set! Wow, did that send me over the edge. But that loss made me think, "why am I so torn up by this ring? Why am I attaching sorrow to something so beautiful?"

This isn't just any hunk of gold, no wedding ring given in love is ever "just a ring". For so long, I viewed it as a symbol of broken promises and shattered plans. Trust me. Grief coupled with trauma is like being tossed around in a hurricane of confusion and sorrow. Attaching emotion to the ring enabled me to lash out on something physical. After all, my husband had died and I didn't have the luxury of one more final argument. The ring became my target.

Now I am wearing my wedding ring set and anniversary band on my right hand ring finger. I love seeing it there and it doesn't make me sad at all. Instead it reminds me of the love I shared with a handsome man who thought I was the be all and end all. It is not a crutch either. I am still moving on with my life. I am able to flirt with the best of them. I laugh more often than cry. And I can look down at my right hand and know that I am no longer hiding my past.

Just like the word widow no longer bothers me, neither does showing the world that yes, I loved and lost but still honor the journey. It took me four years to be able to wear this ring on my right hand--maybe that's a long time for some, or perhaps it isn't a big deal to anyone else at all---but for me this was the appropriate time. After all, it's the most beautiful piece of jewelry I own so why keep it hidden? And right hand diamond rings are in vogue, right?

Sorrow clouded my appreciation of the love I enjoyed for years. Merely thinking of the man would cause waves of loneliness to crush me. It feels good to be able to say "I really loved my husband and am so happy for the time we shared" without crying, without feeling morbid or viewing it as a sign of moving backward. I believe it is quite the opposite.

Within hours of Sean's death, my pastor told me that grief is like being on a boat in a stormy sea. She said we need to stay the course and ride out the waves knowing that a calm harbor waited in the distance. It may have taken me four years, but I am steering my boat into that calm harbor. The sails may be torn, but this boat still floats. And my right hand ring perfectly catches the sunlight.

Tuesday, October 13, 2009

History Speaks

History keeps whispering through my mind like a familiar song I just can't shake. The journals I discovered in my attic a few weeks ago won't let me go. Combined, they span over 24 years of my life. I think the reason I cannot put them behind me is that I realized something shocking after reading them. At 41, I am still trying to figure out exactly what I was trying to figure out at 17. Who am I and what the hell am I doing?

When I read my words from my senior year in high school, I see how scared I was of the big unknown of adulthood. I struggled with self-esteem issues, questioned if I could handle college, wondered if I would ever be happy, hoped I would fall in love with a good man...just to name a few of the biggies listed in those pages. Well, I have some of those same issues now. I see the wrinkles hinting around my lips, cringe at the stretch marks lining my hips, wonder how I can possibly start over at this age, doubt my ability to raise two children alone, wonder yet again if I will be happy down the road and question my sanity on a daily basis.

A lot of life has happened since I was that 17 year old curled up in her bedroom writing about teenage drama. In these past 24 years, I have graduated from college, traveled the world, broken my fair share of hearts, married a handsome man, tried a few careers, given birth to two children, laughed with a lot of friends, danced at some wicked rock concerts, written a half-dozen manuscripts, buried that handsome husband, held those two children together through the grief and have picked myself up from sobbing on the floor more times than I can count.

It is as if life delivered me back to the starting line for a do-over, whether or not I want one. The big hand of the Universe has rolled the dice. I need to accept that this is my second chance around the board. I need to come up with a new strategy.

Despite all of the confusion starting over brings, I know one thing for certain. Two decades from now, I do not want to read my journals from this point forward and realize how redundant I have been.

I do not believe in coincidences. I stumbled upon that box of journals for a reason. I must learn from the girl I once was about the woman I am yet to become.

So here I am back at square one, the dice have been thrown...ready, set...stop, stumble, I-am-so-not-ready-for-this...go.

Thursday, October 8, 2009

Woman Versus Chainsaw

I love mani-pedis as much as the next woman, trust me. Throw in a facial and a massage and I am in heaven. So as I finish brushing sawdust from my hair and pulling a twig from down my shirt, I have to wonder how wielding a chainsaw and cutting up log after log became routine for me.

When my husband passed away, I assumed a lot of his roles out of what I believed to be necessity at the time. Perhaps I thought I was showing the kids how nothing at all had changed, despite the fact that absolutely everything in our lives had changed. Perhaps I was trying to prove to myself that I could handle everything in my life being tossed into upheaval. Perhaps I am simply too stubborn to ask for help. Perhaps I am too cheap to hire one of the local handyman services. Whatever the reason was, the moment of my I-Am-Superwoman-I-Can-Do-It-All-Alone phase is over.

I hate cutting wood. I do not like vibrating down to my bones as I push a chainsaw into a log. My teeth feel like they are going to shake loose from my skull. Enough already! I surrender! I have done my four years of penance.

Winter is upon us here in the Rocky Mountain foothills, my wood pile is nil, my woodstove needs fuel and you know what? I am going to call one of those men listed in the local paper to deliver the wood to my door. And then I'm going to get a manicure.

Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Avoidance Leads to Discovery

Avoidance is a good friend of mine. I like to avoid projects I know will require energy I am not sure I want to expend. I am even better at avoiding negative people. But this weekend I shoved avoidance aside to tackle the boxes in my attic.

I pulled on the light and looked at the cumulative baggage of 12 years in this house. Boxes were buried under bags of baby clothes. Stuffed animals, winter coats, cribs...I could open a store with what I have piled in my attic. So I sat down in the midst of the mess and started sorting as best as I could.

A box filled with journals stopped my frantic progress. There in my attic with piles of baby clothes to my right and old skis to my left, I allowed myself to read words I had written over 20 years ago. My high school journals were the most entertaining. I wrote of first loves, first heart break, girlfriend drama, college dreams, small town boredom and self-esteem struggles. Basic high school stuff. Or at least they used to be the basic stuff of high school.

As I read my words written from a simpler time over 20 years ago, I started thinking of my daughter who is now in 8th grade. She is facing more challenges than I ever had. I hear on the news and, even today on Dr. Phil, about oral sex parties, intercourse at school dances and sexting nude pictures. "Making out" seems to have taken on a whole different meaning.

I won't lie. I had sex in high school, but only with a serious boyfriend. Promiscuity was not the way to popularity. Our parties consisted of alcohol, not crack. Making out meant going to first or second base, not having oral sex with a line of boys. Despite that, even I have regrets looking back. Regrets about not standing up for myself with boys because I didn't have the tools in my mental tool box to know what to say or the right things to do. No one ever told me.

As I sat there with my history literally surrounding me in my attic, I realized that I cannot avoid the hard talk with my daughter. We have had the sex talk and the drug talk, but not the oral sex talk. She is 13. She is beautiful. As her mother, I need to give her the tools to live her life on her terms instead of being swept up in the fray.

There are certain things that cannot be avoided like tackling the attic after 12 years and being honest with my daughter about all aspects of sex. Even an avoidance queen like myself knows when and where to surrender.