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

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Radio waves

Every day at 3PM I switch on the radio to listen to my favorite drive-time dj's.  They're usually outrageous, always funny, ripe with interesting topics and play great music.  Yesterday hit a nerve, though, and for the first time, I called in.

They have a segment called OPP--other people's problems--where a man said he'd been feeling pressured to date again after being widowed for four years.  He said he'd gone on a few dates, but always felt like he was cheating on his deceased wife.  Random people started calling in with trite advice about him needing therapy--duh, I'm sure he's been doing that--writing a letter to his dead wife and burning it--like that would magically erase grief, I guess--that his wife would want him to move on--again, duh, that's a given, but doesn't make it any easier--and other such nonsense.  

I called.  No, I'm not a therapist or some kind of grief guru.  I'm simply someone who's gone down this same road, heard similar comments and wanted him to know that he's "normal", not to feel pressured before he's ready and referred him to the Young Widows Bulletin Board that's helped me significantly during the past six years.  

Listen, I've tried the dating thing, too, simply because people were accusing me of not moving on or being stuck.  I wasn't ready and it messed me up.  I even went on Match.com, but when I started looking at pictures of men, I realized I was looking for Sean.  Thinking that was probably a bad sign, I backed out of it.  

Hearing that man on the radio affected me in my soul.  Listening to the comments coming in from people who haven't heard their soulmate's last breath pissed me off.  Grief isn't something with a timeline or a rule book.  It's not like the movies in any way, shape or form.  It's condescending to think otherwise.  

I enjoyed being married.  I miss having a partner backing me up.  I hate being misunderstood.  I firmly believe that, when the time is right, a new love will enter my life who will broaden my horizons in amazing ways.  Things like love can't be forced, judged--or erased with a burning letter.  

It's been said that the length of time we mourn is testimony to the depth of love we lost. I think that's beautiful.  

I hope Mike from the radio finds love again one day.  I hope we all do.  

Wednesday, October 26, 2011

Play time!

I've never considered myself a cat person--at all.  I used to sneer at cat people and wonder what they could possibly see in the snotty little stereotyped image I had of cats.  But now that's changed--I've changed--because of a cat named Carl.

Carl wrestling with a dog toy--action shot, hence the blur!

This past July, we wandered into a pet store looking for a harness for my black lab, Bella.  I never usually look at the cats, but that day I did.  About thirty kittens--if not more--occupied one cage.  (Horrible, actually.) Out of the heap, erupted a tiny black fluffy head covered with cat litter--but he had swagger.  (I've always been a sucker for swagger.) Despite the crowd of furry bodies and dirt covering him, he sauntered up the ramp like he owned it.  I had to have him.

Even the kids were shocked by my "need" to save that dirty kitten who was so skinny he looked sickly. I couldn't blame them--I surprised myself with the intensity of my need to adopt this kitten.  Only three months old, his chart told a story of abandonment and shyness. When I held him, he fit into the palms of my hands and stared at me with oversized eyes.  No way I was putting him back in that cage and walking away!

Carl's addition to the family has brought us more joy than I ever thought possible.  Even the dogs love him.  He fetches, leaps through the air, attacks shadows, drags interesting things from behind the dryer, wrestles with our Aussie Shepherd, lunges from beneath furniture, allows our black lab to treat him like a puppy, snuggles with us, struts through the house wiggling his little butt and stalks our cockatiel.  (Okay, so maybe the bird is the only living thing in the house that isn't overjoyed with the new addition.)

Play.  That's the difference.  We're all playing--and laughing--every day now.

Funny how we forget to play.  It was an easy thing to remember in my 20s when the main motivator was what to do on the weekends.  When the kids were little, play was natural and part of parenting.  Now, at least for me, life has become more about working, driving the kids around, paying bills, helping with homework, keeping the house from falling apart and juggling solo-parent responsibilities.  Yes, we have fun.  We travel, hang out, do our thing but...it's scheduled.  That's the difference.  Where once we had fun every day, somewhere along the way we forgot to play.

I'm thankful for the reminder that play is not only okay, but necessary for JOY. Thanks to Carl the fluffy cat with swagger, play time is back!
Carl the Cat--beloved new addition to the Easton family.  

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Making friends with chaos

Lately, every day brings me a new adventure.  I swear I'm giving new meaning to flying by the seat of my pants.  A few years ago, I engraved the saying, "chaos is a friend of mine" on the back of my iPod---maybe that was a bad idea as it seems to have been a self-fulfilling prophesy!

My novel, Kiss Me Slowly, had been slated to be released in November.  Then it got bumped up by three weeks, which is a good thing.  I'm not complaining.  However, in typical Amber-style, the email from my publisher notifying me of this change got lost in the mayhem of Yahoo in-box organization.  If it weren't for my editor's "happy release day" comment, I would have missed my own book launch!  

Over the past few years, I've grown accustomed to twists and turns.  I usually wake up and immediately think, "gee, I wonder what's gonna happen today." I've gotten in the habit of saying, "it looks like lunch on Friday will work out, but I'll call you if something comes up."  To know me is to know everything is subject to change at the last minute.  Accept it or don't, but that's just how it is.  Some people can't handle my in-flux lifestyle.  Some people have gone so far as to say my constant changing is "suspicious".  (That's my way of acknowledging how I can annoy people with changing my mind and my plans on a whim.)

In my last blog post, Uncharted, I talked about how hard it is to embrace change sometimes.  It is.  I still feel that way about major life events unfolding in ways that I wasn't prepared for--and often am scared when thinking about the ramifications of certain things. That's true.  It seems like I've developed an unintentional theme for my life:  chaos.  

I am slowly learning to embrace the flow--slowly! I'm starting to enjoy the unpredictability, actually.  It's fun, in a way, to be surprised at a change in events.  Everything--even a tragedy or a seemingly challenging situation--can lead you to something amazing if you're willing to allow yourself to be carried with the flow of the Universe and open yourself up to the possibilities of greatness.  It's a lesson that I'm learning--slowly.  Like it or not, that self-fulfilling prophesy is becoming reality:  chaos is a friend of mine. 




Monday, October 10, 2011

Uncharted

A lot about life is unpredictable.  Hell, any one of us could get die tomorrow.  So--if life is all about the unknown--why is it so scary to leave our comfort zones?  You'd think we'd eventually get used to the idea of "wing'n it".

I haven't.  I still get the heebie-jeebies when doing something I've never done before, which lately seems to happen almost daily.  With me, though, it's not so much about being afraid of what's next, but being reluctant to release the old.

I'm sick of loss, but it seems inevitable. Ever since Sean died, I feel like I've been on an endless loop of change.  I lost him.  I lost the identity of wife and stay-at-home mom. I lost my sense of security and of partnership.  I changed--became darker and more cynical, I can admit that.  I guess you could call that a loss of innocence...and confidence.

Now my life is unfolding in miraculous ways.  My confidence is back.  I'm taking care of unfinished business, confronting issues that would have festered before and looking ahead toward the unknown.  I'm taking control and heading full-throttle out of my comfort zone.

Adapt or die, isn't that the saying?

Terrified pretty much sums up my state-of-mind.  Scared shitless is also accurate.  I have no idea what I'm doing.  But that seems to be a constant theme in my life these days.

Sometimes I feel I've left some carnage in my wake--for that, I am deeply sorry.  It's not my intent to hurt anyone as I work out these changes in myself, my schedule and my life, but I know I have.  I'd go so far to say that there were times I danced on the edge of crazy with my sense of overwhelm and made a few erratic choices.  Some people became collateral damage.  That's the part of change...letting go...moving forward... evolving...that sucks.

I'm not the same person I was a decade ago.  Hell, I'm not the same Amber I was a year ago.  But I firmly believe that I am who I am meant to be today, in this moment.  I feel that every change I've undergone, each decision I've made, has prepared me for all the good that's coming my way.  Living life in a constant state of flux, which is how it feels, is simply the way of things right now.

I don't know if I'll ever feel secure like I once did.  Perhaps I don't want to anymore.  Maybe that way of being limits more than benefits.  Who knows?  Maybe when I'm an eighty year old woman, I'll know, but right now I can only guess.  Like I said, I have no idea what I'm doing.  Most days I'm just clinging to the edge of my seat wondering what's gonna happen next...luckily, it's usually something amazing...or at least something worthy of a good story.

Monday, October 3, 2011

Stories

As humans, it's natural to create stories in our day to day lives.  A friend doesn't return a phone call--create a story.  Someone becomes distant who once was close--spin a tale about the why.  Most of what we tell ourselves is harmless, but when we use those stories to justify our own bad behavior or give us excuses, the spin becomes dangerous.

I know I've been guilty of this over the course of my life.  As an author, I'm always creating stories--writing fiction--so my imagination is ripe.  There are times when I need to tell myself, "stop it, this is real life, you need facts, save the creating for work."  I've gotten good at stopping myself from writing stories in my mind about real life situations by asking myself, "is this true? do you know that it's true? are you absolutely certain it's true?"  Usually the third question trips me up and I stop my mind from spinning.

A situation happened last week, though, that's got the wheels turning again.  Someone I considered a good friend had become distant over the past three or four months.  When I confronted her about that and some things I'd heard that caused me to question trust, her response was "I don't owe you an explanation."

That floored me...not because I want people to be accountable to me because that is NOT the case (and I honestly could care less about "controlling" anyone else when I have a hard enough time controlling my own life)...but because we were talking about a relationship where I thought there was give and take.  I also wanted to stop the story telling of my own mind and get to the root of the issue in order to hopefully move the relationship forward.

In her mind, however, the story she's created is that I wanted to control the relationship by making her defend her choices.  That makes me sad because that was never my intent and I would hate to ever make anyone feel that way.  But that is the story she has spun in her head.  I forgive that.  I get it.

I understand stories.  They get us in trouble sometimes, lead us astray, distort facts and fog our thinking.

My inlaws think I'm the reason Sean killed himself. From what I've heard from other widows of suicide victims, this is common.  The parents of the deceased need to create a story about the why--right or wrong and regardless of fact--they need that spin to protect themselves.

It's hard to combat someone's story.  A family member told me things about ME that never happened, but he believes it with a passion that's astounding. Even though it's my life he's talking about, he believes what he "knows" regardless of what I say.  His story gives him comfort in some way--provides a pay off that I don't understand.

But I'm sure I have stories, too, that wouldn't pass my three question rule.  Stories about why I didn't move when I wanted to and now regret it...about why I didn't get that exercise in today that I swore I would do...about why I don't date...and so on.  But I'm getting better at challenging myself when I hear my mind go off on a spin..."is this true? do you know that it's true? are you absolutely certain it's true?"

That third one gets me every time.