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

Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Wakin' Up!

A few weeks ago I came face-to-face with a silver fox, who looked more black than silver, in my driveway after taking the kids to the bus stop.  There in the in between light where the sun hasn't yet risen and the night is still hanging on, I stared at an animal who stared back.  It was one of those freaky encounters with another species where you are left feeling awed.  And scared.  And curious.  All of the above.  

I have lived in this house for nearly 12 years and haven't ever seen a fox like that, yet other locals are now telling me how often they have seen the rare silver fox.  Just when I think I know a place, know the inhabitants, I am confronted with something new to me that has actually been around for quite some time.  I just hadn't been aware of it.  

(photo taken from Google search)
Seeing the silver fox affected me in a way I find difficult to explain.  Eye-to-eye, he shuffled sideways toward the road before darting away from me.  I stared after him for a few minutes and wondered where he was headed and where he had been.  I wondered why I hadn't ever noticed him before in all the years I have lived in the mountains.  

There are many times in my life where I realize I have lived unconsciously, going from place to place, going through the motions of a routine, without noticing the environment around me.  For example, although my husband died at the end of May, 2005, I was so focussed on getting my kids healthy and making sure they survived the trauma of his death, that I didn't unravel until a few years later.  I barely remember 2008.  Seriously, I cannot remember that year and am sure I didn't do much beyond surviving each day.  Coming out of that period has been like waking up from a long, dreamless sleep. It's as if I had been in a coma of sorts.  Now everything is much more vivid than I ever recall.

In our busy lives it is easy to stop noticing the environment around us.  We move to the rhythm of our routines, put on "city blinders" when in a crowd, immerse ourselves in our own dramas and forget to notice what moves in our peripheral vision.  But often what is on the peripheral is worth noticing; the peripheral often contains something magical and unique. 

I am glad I finally met Mr. Silver Fox.  Not only was he beautiful, but he woke me up.  We all need to look around us more and embrace our daily lives from a new perspective, from a perspective of wonder as if seeing it all for the first time.  Who knows what we will find when we deviate from our routine just a bit, let our eyes meet a strangers' in a crowd, or take a minute to simply enjoy the sunrise?  

I hope I see that fox again.  But if I don't, then I am thankful for our stare down a few weeks ago.  Sometimes just one moment can have profound impact.  Eyes wide open, I will look around for him and whatever other interesting creatures or experiences wait for me in the every day.  I am awake at last.  

Friday, January 22, 2010

Out of Bounds

People I used to know growing up are surprised that I am no longer the shy, quiet girl who gave a damn about what people thought of her.  I am not that person anymore, nor do I want to be.

Today I am loud when I want to be and quiet when I need to be.  I say what I mean.  I cross lines that I am not even aware of crossing.  I am passionate about people and learning.  I only act from good intent so am taken aback when people are offended by what I say--or what I write.

I say, "lighten up"!  Life is too short to worry if I jokingly describe myself as a born again virgin, do one too many shots of Tuaca or tell a good looking man that he is, without a doubt, good looking.  Are these things really so bad?  Nah.  I can think of many worse things I could say or do or be.  Want to test me?

I have lived through four decades of my life.  Four decades.  Of course I have grown, adapted, altered my viewpoints and changed my personality over the years.  What scares me is the amount of people who haven't.  They sit on the same bar stools that their parents sat on in the same town and criticize those who have dared to live a life of risk, of change, of heart break and of new horizons.

I refuse to be held back by conventions that I think are ridiculous. I don't care if they are the conventions of my youth, my parents, my church or my community.  I enjoy being out of bounds, skiing the trees and venturing into untouched snow.  I alone know when I have veered off the groomed trail of my personal ski mountain into the trees.  I know because I choose to go there.

I do not expect people to understand my choices; more than that, I am not asking for their understanding.    Me being authentic to myself and acting from a place of truth is genuine.  My intent is harmony--and harmless.  If someone chooses to be offended by authenticity, then there isn't much I can do except shrug.  To me, saying what I mean lets people know where I stand and how I feel without any guess work.

The real questions are:  why does that bother someone else?  Why does it make them uncomfortable when I tell them what is truly in my heart?  Why would anyone in their right mind try to make me less than what I am so that they can feel better?

Again I say, "lighten up"!  Enjoy my honesty.  Enjoy my recklessness.  Enjoy my mistakes and successes.  Hell, even enjoy my stumbles and misadventures.  I do.  And if you can't, then ask yourself the above questions and wonder why you're so afraid of going out of bounds.  After that if you still think I'm over-the-top or crossing lines, I say to you---"if you can't handle me, baby, then good riddance."  

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Walking With My Shadow

As Green Day sings in "Boulevard of Broken Dreams":  My shadow's the only one that walks beside me, My shallow heart's the only thing that's beating, Sometimes I wish someone out there will find me, 'Til then I walk alone.

As I do on most evenings, I am sitting in my office late at night, listening to iTunes, wishing the dogs would settle down and writing away at my current work-in-progress. Yet tonight is different in that it is the eve before my son has surgery. 

Yes, I am worried about the usual stuff like anesthesia, his recovery,and the worst-case scenarios. I have faith that he will be okay, so that's not what is prompting me to write this post. No, I need to write about the odd sense of stillness that has overcome me these past few days.  I am filled with profound quiet.

This quiet is the knowledge that I am alone in all that I do.  The quiet is realizing that January 20 would have been my 14th wedding anniversary had my husband not died; but he did die and I am alone.  I alone will be sitting in the waiting room tomorrow.  I alone am making the decisions about my son's well-being.  I alone will deal with insurance and pay the bill.  I alone will bring him home and care for him.  I alone will annoy him with my overly-motherly instincts.  And that's okay.  All of it.  Even the being alone part.  

The reality is that we will all again walk alone one day, no matter what the circumstances are at the moment.  Spouses die.  Children grow up and move on.  Jobs come and go.  Our goals change.  Nothing is permanent except change.  We all need to be comfortable walking life's journey alone from time to time, knowing that we can handle whatever comes our way.  

So tonight I am quiet with the knowledge that I do walk alone, at least during this leg of my journey.  And the quiet comforts me, holds me close and whispers, "you have all that you need to do this thing."  

Maybe I'm not as alone as I think I am.  As Green Day says, "my shadow's the only one that walks beside me."  

Friday, January 15, 2010

Rah Rah Sis Boom Bah!

Today my daughter had her orientation for high school. When I think of my own high school experience, I remember a lot of fun.  I think of slumber parties, cheerleading, first dates, basketball games, school plays, football games, good friends, and more laughter than tears.  Maybe I had it good--maybe I got lucky with the people I grew up with--but  I loved everything about my high school experience.

But today at the orientation, I was struck by the negative attitude of some of the parents around me.  While my daughter and I checked out the information booths for the various school clubs, another mom came up to me with a roll of her eyes.  "Cheerleaders and dance teams," she snorted, "not for my daughter." What?!  Why not?  If the girl wants to dance, let her dance!

Stereotypes and cliches prevail in our society; I know this so should not be surprised.  I have had people roll their eyes at me many times when I talk about the fun I had as a cheerleader in both high school and college. What did surprise me is that the parents who obviously did not enjoy their high school experience reverted back to their bitter, negative selves in front of their children who are about to embark on an adventure that is uniquely their own.

I am not a perfect parent by any means.  I don't have all the answers and make many mistakes.  But I hope that I do not allow my own insecurities to hold my children back in any way.  And that is what tonight seemed like to me:  a few insecure adolescents trapped inside adult bodies having flashbacks to their own youth trying to stop their own children from finding their own path.

I know there are bullies.  I know that girls can be vicious to one another.  I know that not everyone finds their niche.  That is life and is not limited to high school.  High school is merely the practice ground before life really gets messy.  Navigating social dynamics is simply part of the game. As parents, I believe there comes a time when we need to let them learn their own way of playing that game and trust that we have raised them to make good choices.

Yes, I encouraged my daughter to participate in school clubs. And, yes, I did so because I remember how much fun those activities were for me in high school.  So, yes, an argument could be made that I had my own bias.  That's true.

Be involved, I told her.  Have fun, I said. Try something new, I encouraged. How she chooses to participate is up to her.  If she would rather be in debate club rather than the pom squad, that is entirely her decision.  This is her adventure, not mine.  These are her glory days; I already had mine.

High school...a time for learning new subjects, dreaming big for the future, discovering first loves, experiencing first heart breaks, and feeling invincible.  They are at the age where all things are possible and every situation is do or die.  Excitement at what lies ahead is the only option.

As a former cheerleader, I am used to cheering from the sidelines and intend to cheer my daughter on no matter what path she chooses.  Sis Boom Bah, little girl of mine!  Reach for those stars!  And never let anyone stop you from dancing or cheering or whatever it is that makes you sincerely happy.

Monday, January 11, 2010

Zip, Zap, Zing!

Now that I am stumbling my way back into the dating world, I realize that I haven't changed that much in 15 years.  I am still Amber who likes to dance even if there isn't any music, who loves talking politics even though I know that's supposedly taboo, who would rather go to a rock concert than an opera and who likes my man to show me that he wants me.  You know...actually return an email or text or--hold your breath--pick up the phone and have a real conversation. The man needs to make the first move, after that I want my all access pass.  Maybe these things classify me as "old school", but I am okay with that.   

What I am discovering about myself is that despite my age, my life experience and supposed level of maturity, I still want that OOMPH of chemistry.  I crave it.  I know it's possible.  Maybe I was lucky, but I had it with my husband even after 10 years of marriage.  Even on that last day of his life, I remember looking at him and thinking, "wow, he is so handsome" and feeling that zap of electricity when his gaze connected with mine.  He could really piss me off at times, but I would always think, "damn, I'm a lucky woman to be married to this good looking jerk."  

When I reconnected with an ex-boyfriend from long ago on Facebook last February, we had that zip, zap, zing of chemical attraction.  We had it when we saw each other face-to-face, too.  There it was, shimmering in the air between us just waiting to be ignited.  But there are roadblocks between us that we aren't able to hurdle yet.  For now, that relationship is in a holding pattern and I don't know if it will ever move forward.   But the chemistry he and I have together is undeniable.  In a perfect world, all would sync and we would be one dynamic duo.  When I see him, it is like I have swallowed the sun.  That's difficult to ignore.  

Refusing to put my life on hold for something that may never happen, I have dated another man in recent months.  He is local and makes it very clear that he wants to be with me.  On paper he has it all and is fun on top of that...but there isn't that zip, zap, zing I crave.  So I wonder...is chemistry necessary for a successful relationship?  So many other things are valuable in a relationship like the ability to have a great conversation, to have fun, to make each other laugh, to be stable both mentally and financially, and to be able to be good friends.  But can a relationship ever become more than friends without that elusive chemistry that makes a person weak in the knees and happy just to be in the pressence of the other person?  I don't know.  

And to be clear:  I am not talking about superficial looks here.  I am talking about chemistry.  I am talking about that elusive snap, crackle and pop that erupts between certain individuals and not others.  Why can I be around a good looking man and feel like he's my brother while another one makes my blood boil for no apparent reason?  Is chemistry overrated?  

Like I said, maybe I got lucky with my late husband, Sean.  We did not have the perfect marriage and he was not a flawless man.  We definitely had our issues.  But we did have chemistry.  We were able to look at each other in a room and smile for the sake of smiling because we knew we belonged to one another.  And even on that last day of his life when everything was about to fall apart, I looked at him and felt that electrical charge in my veins.  

So why settle for less than oomph and zip, zap, zing?  I don't know.  Maybe I am not as sophisticated as some or as enlightened as others, but I want the whole package.  I want the friendship, the laughter, the strength of character and the chemistry.  If this means that I am alone for the rest of my life, then I am lucky because I had it good and wonderful once. I know what I am missing. How can I settle for less than that?  

Sunday, January 10, 2010

Swimming with Sharks

Yes, I have literally swam with sharks off the coast of Belize; but tonight I'm talking about a different kind of shark.  The land walking, smooth talking, often smiling kind of shark that comes disguised as a friend with an agenda.  I am becoming an expert at identifying these hollow-eyed creatures, but the thing that has fascinated me lately is that I believe they know that I see through the facade.

How do I believe that my super human power for spotting land sharks has been detected?  By the increasing sensitivity (a.k.a. defensiveness) of said specimen.  If I don't want to answer a particular question because I know that any information is like blood in the water, the shark in question will utter an inane phrase like "silence can be seen as lying."  Well, sure, that's true if I'm a Senator being grilled on CNN, but as someone on the eliptical trainer at the gym who simply doesn't feel like discussing my dating life, I don't see how this applies.

These land sharks also like to say things like this, "you used to be beautiful" or "it's hard to believe you work out as much as you say you do."  Clever land shark...clever indeed to strike at the vulnerable underbelly of the over-40 woman.

Sharks also see ulterior motives in such silly things as my comments about their status on Facebook or in my being too maxed out as a single parent to make time for them.   Ill intent is everywhere when you're a shark, I suppose.  Predators must feel a keen sense to eat before being eaten.  But shouldn't a shark have thicker skin?

Let me assure all sharks who may be reading this that I do not want to eat them nor do I operate from a place of ill intent.  I am not a predator swimming about looking for my next victim.  I'm just a colorful fish minding my own business on the reef with my only agenda being swimming through the day.

For all the other colorful fish and beautiful creatures, let me give you three tips for spotting the dreaded land shark:

One: the smile never quite reaches the eyes.  The eyes are indeed windows to the soul.  Keep your gaze steady on the eyes, my friends.

Two:  If any of the above comments are made to you--or comments that remotely resemble the examples I have listed--you are indeed faced with a land shark.  It's best to smile and give them little to chew on.  Remember, information can be like blood in the water.

Three:  They seem overly delighted by bad news from any source.  A mutual friend is getting a divorce?  Chomp, chomp, chomp!  A friend's daughter is on drugs?  Chomp, chomp, chomp.  Land shark!  Cut them off before they turn their razor sharp teeth on you.

Avoiding land sharks is not always possible, especially if you need to swim in the same water.  It is safe to swim with them once you know their mannerisms and can protect yourself.  Stay aware.  Stay alert.  Keep smiling.  Wish them well.  Appreciate them for what they are.  But if you can, when you can...swim fast in the opposite direction!

Sunday, January 3, 2010

Focussed, Fierce and Fabulous!

This new decade arrived with a great deal of hope for many people, myself included.  I remember the dawning of 2000.  People stocked up on water and waited for Y2K to bring us to our knees.  Nothing happened.  We all woke up on January 1st to a world that looked remarkably like it did the day before.

This year felt different.

Yes, my computer still worked and my water still flowed from the faucet, but the difference stirred within me.  A different energy vibrated through my limbs when I opened my eyes that morning, and I don't think it was completely because of the Tuaca I drank the previous night.  I opened my eyes on January 1st, 2010, with fierce determination to settle for nothing less than what I want and deserve.  No more compromises.  No more excuses.   

Although I have put in motion my plans for a major lifestyle change,  I have a confession to make.  My commitment wavers. My inner critic lurks in the dark and encourages self-doubt.  And, right or wrong, I sometimes get really pissed off at making all of these decisions alone.   

To help overcome my inner critic--who happens to be a real bitch, by the way--I grabbed an index card and wrote down the following "I am" statements to remind me of who I am and what I am capable of doing.  I then put these cards in various places around the house:  my bathroom mirror, my treadmill, my journal, and my desk.  When my inner critic starts in on her undermining rant, I plan on reaching for these to remind me of who I really am.  

Here are a few examples of what I wrote on those "I AM" cards:
I am the same woman who leapt from the cliffs of a Greek island into the Aegean Sea.
I am the same woman who swam with sharks in Belize.
I am the same woman who looked into the lifeless eyes of her husband.
I am the same woman who wakes her kids up to witness meteor showers.
I am the same woman who battled a man who tried to murder me.
I am the same woman who has gotten blissfully lost on the streets of Paris.
I am the same woman who has curled up on the floor overcome with sorrow.

When my inner critic revs up with all the reasons why to accept the status quo and when my confidence shakes a bit under the load I carry, my cards are there as reminders of the woman I have been and still am.  I quiet my mind and focus.  Inside a fierce determination drowns out the critic and I say, "yes" to new possibilities, even if that yes is sometimes more of a whisper than a shout.  

I welcome this new decade with open arms.  I welcome the changes coming my way with an open mind.  And I am scared...and I will waver...but maybe it's good to be scared.  Bring it on.  

I am...optimistic.