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

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Kindness

"Let no one ever come to you without leaving better and happier.  Be the living expression of God's kindness:  kindness in your face, kindness in your eyes, kindness in your smile."--Mother Teresa


As I was filling my car up with gas the other day, I heard a commotion on the other side of the pump.  At first I focused on what I was doing, intent on minding my own business.  


I'm not good at minding my own business.


I looked over my shoulder and didn't quite understand what I was seeing.  A walker-like contraption with wheels lodged on its side beneath the front tire of a truck.  A man clung to the driver's door as his legs twisted out beneath him at odd angles on a patch of ice, a leg brace dangled from his left shin.  His left hand clung to the bottom of his open door while his right hand struggled to grasp the driver's seat.  His wife--stiff with a back brace of her own--tried unsuccessfully to help him up.  With his head bent, I heard him cry. 


Not exactly a powerhouse of muscle myself, I was uncertain about what I could do...but I stepped over the gas hose and asked, "what can I do to help?" 


The wife looked at me with uncertainty on her face before looking back at her husband sprawled on the ice, his legs useless.  "He has a neurological problem (at least that's what I think she said because she said it in a nervous rush of breath). He can't feel his legs.  I should have made him stay in the truck," she said as she glanced at her own brace around her waist. "I'm not sure what to do."


Conscious of the ice and the stupid slip-on shoes I had put on during my usual rush from the house, I bent down, wrapped my arms around his waist and tried to pull him up.  He kept his head bent, not making eye contact with me, but I couldn't help but notice his tears.  This was a big guy, but he couldn't stand on his own.  He wasn't old, perhaps only a few years older than me.  Together--after a lot of experimentation about what hand and what leg went where--we maneuvered him back inside the truck. 


When he finally looked at me, he apologized.  For what?  For being a human in need?  


Why is it that kindness is such a rare thing that we don't necessarily know how to act when we receive it?  We're all in this together, one way or another.  Helping another needs to be our first instinct with zero hesitation.  Receiving kindness needs to be seen as receiving a gift, rather than something to be shocked or embarrassed by.  

But I get it.  I understand that momentary confusion when someone extends a helping hand or a stranger offers a kind word.  I, too, have been shocked at the kindness of another.  Why? Have we really become so desensitized that we as a society don't care about the guy who needs a hand up?  Have we become so jaded to be shocked at random acts of kindness?  


I am glad I didn't mind my own business.  I am happy that I looked over my shoulder to check out the commotion behind me.  It would have been easy to drive away without getting involved in that situation.  I was touched profoundly by that big guy who simply needed an extra pair of legs to help boost him up.  To him, wherever he may be, I say thank you for the reminder.

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Go to the Party

Breckenridge, Colorado:  my second home town, I always say.  I love the energy of the place.  When I look at the slopes, I remember learning to ski here.  My instructor would yell at me, "Stand up!  You're going to the party, not the potty." 

Loved that saying.  It's amazing how one comment over a decade ago comes back to me so often.  "Stand up!  You're going to the party, not the potty." 

Since my husband died, I have been avoiding the party of life.  Instead of going to the party, I have been dealing with the business of death, the brutality of grief, the shocking lack of compassion from people, the uncertainty of running my own business in a challenging economy and...hiding from love. 

Being in Breckenridge reminds me of what it was like to be in love with my late husband.  We met here, had our first date here.  He used to tell me stories about his teenage misadventures skiing the trees, hiking above treeline and getting lost for days. He taught me a lot about nature, about life, about slowing down the pace, about sneaking into a local resort to use their amenities, about opening my heart and about romance.

I tend to forget those lessons. Worse...I took them all for granted when he lived. 

He was a romantic. 

I was lucky. 

Every year on our wedding anniversary, he duplicated my wedding bouquet and had it waiting wherever we happened to be going that night.  He told me every day of our marriage how much he loved me...even on his last day on this earth.  He also left me love notes stuffed into favorite books, writing work and drawers that I found up to 6 months following his death.  He loved me.  He made a big deal about letting people close to him know how much he cared.  His suicide shocked everyone. If only he had loved himself half as much as he loved the rest of us.

I regret taking that kind of love for granted.  It was just how it was...it was just Sean being Sean.  He set the bar high for any other guy I meet in my life.  I'm not saying I will compare personalities...I won't...but I know how I need to be respected and treated and won't settle for less.

Settling for less...I've done that a lot since Sean's death.  Not with men, per se, since I live like a hermit; but with myself. I lost myself for awhile...gained weight...now am losing the weight...got depressed...then got happy...had money...lost money...self-sabotaged some opportunities...it's been quite the ride.  And I hear a gentle voice nudging me to love myself as much as I love everyone else.  (I hear ya, babe.)

I am a little scared of loving again.  I know what it's like to lose...and it hurts like hell.  Beyond hell, really.  It's hard to open up again.  It scares me to think of meeting a new guy...especially one I really like.  It's frightening to date again.  I feel like a newborn colt learning to stand...at the same time I feel like an elderly woman who has experienced the fullness of life's emotional spectrum.  Not exactly like dating when I was a 20-something.  So it scares me.  And I fight the urge to hide.  (Hiding is so easy to do.) 

I have great moments of confidence...and then I run like hell.

But I know if Sean could speak to me, he would urge me to love again.  He would encourage me to stand up and get my ass back to the party.

Monday, February 7, 2011

Why I Hate "The Bachelor"

I know "The Bachelor" is a popular show, but it makes me sick.  All of those women crying over a guy they barely know and hoping for a rose--gimme a break.

I saw a preview where "the bachelor" said--while looking tearful--that he had serious doubts about a few of the women so it would be a difficult rose ceremony.  First of all, stop all the sobbing.  Enough already.  Second, what are we teaching our daughters...that they need to meet a certain set of criteria and jump through some hoops to be deemed valuable enough to be chosen by some guy?

I'll tell you right now that if my date ever took me on a "group date" and had us racing cars as some test--he would never see me again.  Life is a big enough test for all of us, we don't need to manufacture superficial quizzes along the way. 

I want to pull my hair out!  It's 2011.  Haven't we evolved beyond this? 

Modern romance novels and movies do not depict damsels in distress anymore.  It's considered old fashioned and unrealistic.  We have strong female role models in today's world--from celebrities like Jennifer Aniston to politicians like Hilary Clinton.  Even reality shows like "Amazing Race" and "Survivor" depict strong women doin' it for themselves, so what is the appeal of "The Bachelor"? 

There is an insidious insecurity with American women despite the feisty females depicted in novels, movies and with our public figures.  Shows like "The Bachelor" capitalize on that.  I hear divorced women acting like they need to win over some random guy by pretending to be something they aren't--which never works in the long run.  Smart women dumbing themselves down to appeal to some middle-aged goofball just so they can say they aren't alone.  And I hear the middle-aged goofballs saying things like they don't want any expectations on them while they search singles' groups on Facebook and try to hook up with some 20-something chic.  THIS is the kind of guy some women are hoping will validate them?

I am banging my head against my desk! No, no, no! 

Stop.  Please.  Until you love yourself, you are incapable of loving anyone else.  No one will fill a void within your heart.  Dating should be about wanting to be with someone who respects you, who makes you happy; it should never be about need.  Wanting someone and needing someone are two vastly different concepts.

I have nothing against seeking a love connection.  I love LOVE.  But I have the following rules for myself that you are more than welcome to share:

*Always be authentic.  At the end of the day, you want to be with someone who is with you because he knows the real you with your quirks and insecurities.  Accept his authentic self as well.  No one is perfect.
*Keep your dignity.  No man is worth demeaning yourself for.  Let him chase you.  You are worth it. YOU are the catch.
*Trust your intuition.  If you see a bunch of stripper-like females and singles' sites on his Facebook page, for example, go with the idea that you're dealing with a man-whore.  Do you really want to be part of a middle-aged man's harem?  Ask him, if you must, but listen to yourself.  If you want a real relationship, then let intuition guide you to a man who is in it for the same reasons you are.
*Listen to him.  Men tell you straight up what they want and expect, but as women we like to "read between the lines".  Stop doing that.  If a man says he doesn't want anyone to have expectations of him, then he doesn't want a relationship.  Relationships have expectations.  Such is life.
*Demand respect.  If he stands you up, don't say it's okay.  It isn't.  If you catch him in a lie, call him on it.  Period.
*Love yourself.  You are an incredible woman capable of great things.  The only validation you need comes from within.  Once you have that, you can handle anything thrown your way.
*Lighten up! Life is too short for drama.  Happiness doesn't necessarily come with a penis attached to it. If he doesn't make you laugh, then he isn't worth your time.  Laughter will get you through some pretty hard times in life.  Make it a priority.
*Live in the moment.  Don't let bitterness from past relationships cloud the present.  Yes, an open heart means being vulnerable; but an open heart also means you are open to possibility.  
*Say yes to new experiences because you never know where love will be waiting.
*Buy your own roses from the local flower shop. 

I write about strong heroines in my novels because most of the women I know are superheroes.  I know women who are entrepreneurs, mothers dealing with kids with cancer, mountain climbers...the list is endless.  Powerful, passionate and playful women. Some are size 2s, but most are not.  All are beautiful.  Every novel I read involves a strong female lead living by her own rules, surviving tragedy or simply being sassy.  Movies depict female spies taking down terrorists before kissing their man into submission as the credits roll.

Be the strong female lead.  Buy your own rose.  That's sexy.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Jump off the boat

When people find out that I swam with sharks, they most commonly ask, "wasn't that scary?"  The answer is no.  The sharks were exhilarating, beautiful and completely uninterested in me.

Jumping off the boat was scary.

It's amazing the thoughts that go through your mind when you see a shark's sleek undulating body sliding through the clear Caribbean Sea beneath your flipper clad feet as they dangle from the edge of a boat.  The first is: "Oh my God, there really IS a shark there and he brought friends".  The second is:  "No way in hell am I getting off this boat, did I pay money to do this?"  The third is: "This is a really nice boat."  The fourth is: "I am insane if I actually jump in."  Then you cycle back and forth between them all within about 30 seconds. 

But then something happens...something outside of yourself kicks in...maybe it's curiosity or adrenaline or peer pressure or insanity or primal need...but suddenly you are falling into the water.  You have let go.  You are committed.  Whether you consciously chose it or not, you are now swimming with the sharks.

And it's beautiful.  You are transfixed by the way their bodies undulate through the water and glide over the sand. There's something sexy about them. You are lost in the moment.  Captivated.  Hypnotized.

When you surface you can't stop laughing from the sheer joy of pushing beyond the fear, of discovering a new world and expanding your horizons.  You conquered yourself. 

Most of life can be summed up by that experience of mine.  The actual doing is far less terrifying than the thoughts that precipitate the action.  It's easy to talk yourself out of swimming with sharks, taking a trip to a foreign place, starting a new career...or admitting you're wrong, going on that date or opening your heart again.

Jump off the boat.  Let go of the fear.  Get lost in the beauty of life.