Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Sex in the City and Me

Yes, darlings, I've been lax about my blogging. And I did have such good intentions to blog up until my milestone birthday, but damn it, BIG FUN got in the way! So here's the another item on my gratitude list.

To recap: #1 is LOVE. #2 is PASSION and #3 is...

# 3 Great Women Friends

I have great and eclectic group of amazing and oh-so-very real friends. Some are earth mothers, others divas. Some are intellectual heavyweights, others creative geniuses. Some are sexually assertive and out there, others are conservative and modest. But all, in their own way, are some of the most giving, beautiful people you will ever meet.

You know, we are a lot like those girls on Sex in the City (have you heard, they have a new movie coming out!), a family of females who love, support and empower each other to be the best women we can be, all the while acknowledging and reveling in our own personal quirks and issues. I call them my 'soul' sisters. And as I always say in my workshops, men teach us to be good at what we DO, women teach us to be good at who we ARE, and our Soul Sisters teach us to combine both and OWN ourselves. My soul patrol has definitely taught me to do me.

Being friends with women can be a really difficult task. We are taught from early on that women are the enemy. We get thrown into that crabs in a barrel mentality very early and the idea that only one queen crab is allowed to claw her way to the top, cements the idea in our heads that women are our competitors and there for can not be our friends. We look at each other with envious eyes and instead of understanding that the fabulous things we are drawn to (or envy) in other women are usually aspects of ourselves that we have yet to acknowledge, we label them bitches and try to build ourselves up by tearing them down.

Player haters inhabit the worlds of many women out there, but gratefully, not mine.

Like Carrie, Miranda, Charlotte and Samantha, my friends and I are a vast and variety group of personalities with different body types, talents, sexual appetites, religious outlooks and personal styles. And like the SITC girls, we allow and encourage each other to be fully expressed and individually empowered. I have been fortunate to draw into my life women of various ages and races who have and still do, love me, nurture me, respect me and most importantly are brutally honest with me when need be. They are lovely women who always have a compliment at the ready but just as quick will tell me what I need to hear, not just what I want to hear. And most allow and expect me to do the same.

They revel in my accomplishments, cry with me through the disappointments. They blow me away with their insights and buoy me up with their love. They are a reflection of me and I most definitely am a composite reflection of all of their amazing tricks and traits that I have first admired and then stolen and added to my own repertoire--all with their blessings.

My Stiletto U students are women who attend the workshops ask me all the time, "How did you get like this?" The answer is simple, because I learned a long time ago that birds of a feather, do indeed flock together and the chickadees that feather my nest are some red hot, awesome women who believe as I do that 'you be you and I'll be me and together we'll own our little corner of the world!!

What do you think?

Wednesday, May 7, 2008

Proof is in the Passion

My gratitude list towards my Countdown to Fifty continues.

#2 Passion

I recognize that I blogged about the importance of having passion for something outside of your bedroom if you wanted to bring it inside, but while in this most recent self-reflection mode, I've been able to really see how my passion for writing has impacted and informed every nook and cranny of my current life--including my thoughts and actions on sex and sensuality.

I am so lucky that I discovered my intimate connection with reading and writing early in my life. I have always loved words. Starting with Dr. Suess I devoured books of all lengths and all genres. Reading for me wasn't just a hobby but a refuge. I know this sounds cliche but books became my window on the world beyond the hedged suburbs I grew up in. They fueled my imagination, piqued my curiosity and kick-started my interest in writing. Words became my cupid and my warrior king. I complimented friends and insulted foes, seduced lovers and influenced bosses with my pen.

I went to college and majored in journalism. After I graduated I started working in the broadcast industry. Every job I held required writing. Whether writing promotional spots, press releases, sales presentations, television shows, speeches for the late Peter Jennings or now writing novels, I was/am working my passion.

Most importantly, doing something I loved kept me working to improve. And the more I improved the more confident I became not only in my writing but in myself. And as I got better my dreams got bigger and the obstacles higher. But trying to achieve my passion helped push me forward when lots of things conspired to hold me back. But passion gives you courage and boldness that you can draw on when you need to. Passion gives you the edge because it makes you give a damn. And when you are caring you are daring. You may fall but that desire picks you back up to try again. Rejection becomes a mere bump in the road instead of a journey ending roadblock.

Up until a few years ago, I would tell you that writing was my passion. But while getting comfortable with myself as a woman in her forties and working on my second novel, Hitts & Mrs., I realized a subtle shift. I recognized that my true passion was the search for truth, mainly my individual truth, but also exploring topics that blew the dust off of what I came think of as man made truths. I also learned that my passion had grown to helping women empower themselves by first introducing universal truths into my work to help guide them to their own truth. Writing is now the tool I used to realize my passion.

These two passions are all wrapped up into who I am now at fifty. The search for truth has me turning all kinds of topics and issues upside down to inspect, explore, try on and figure out. And the more I learn about myself, the more comfortable I am just being me and that has given me a fearlessness I never had in my younger days. They have fueled other passions like traveling, cruising, teaching, sensual living and hazelnut gelato, which continue to broaden my horizons and help to stretch and grow me.

My kids are nearly grown now but as children, I always encouraged them to seek out explore their passions. I drilled into them that one of the best things that could happen to them in life was to work their passions. To see the world, make money and support themselves doing what they loved. This has been one of the few lessons I've taught that I can actually see has stuck (I tried to teach them to have a passion for picking up after themselves. One look at their rooms and you'll see how that turned out!)

So, I am thoroughly grateful for having a passion that I have enjoyed and that has helped define my life and my place in this world.

It's never too late to isolate your passion. It can be anything from gardening to cooking to traveling. Find it. Work it. Love it. And watch how it changes you.

What do you think?

Monday, May 5, 2008

Lucky in Love

Okay, I'm back. I was away for the weekend doing a couple of book events and had a chance to get my head back on straight. Whew...thank God for the love of friends.

Before I begin this reflective set of blogs, let me explain why I decided to do this list. First, I think writing down the things that you are grateful for every now and again helps you realize how much you actually have versus how much you think you lack. Secondly, as I travel around the country talking about my book and the issues of sensuality and sexuality people ask me all the time, "How did you get like this?" I decided that this was a perfect time to look into the things that have shape and molded me and my thoughts and actions.

So this brings me to the first (well technically second if you count the whining) item my Countdown to Fifty list that has shaped and molded me into the woman (dare I say fabulous without sounding like an egotistical diva) I am today.

#1 Love.

I have been so lucky in love my entire life. It began with my amazing family, particularly my parents who love me unconditionally and raised me with a strong sense of self. They gave me the confidence and permission to think for myself, make my own decisions and then loved me through the results--regardless of whether those decisions turned out to be achievements or mistakes.

I've been lucky in romantic love beginning with the first love of my life and lover, RJ. I hope my daughter is as blessed with such a first love. We were juniors in high school when we first got together and stayed together through our sophomore year in college. He was a funny, endearing, nurturing, smart and loving boyfriend. He was a considerate, tender, romantic, patient, adventurous first lover. He set the tone for my views on committed relationships and sex. And he broke my heart, simply by growing up and moving on, but he'd left his imprint on my life.

RJ continued the lessons that my parents had begun. He taught me that I was lovable just being myself and that I didn't have to lose myself or deny myself, my needs, or disrespect myself in order for someone to love me. He also taught me that the quality of I love received was a direct response to the quality of love I gave. And lastly, he taught me that loving someone hard can sometimes lead to hurt, but it's so worth the pain. And ever since then, I have loved without fear and learned about myself with every giggle and each tear.

*NOTE TO DAUGHTER: RJ and I were a couple for a year before we had sex. I was 18. There was no coercing or pressure to have sex. I knew that this is who and what I wanted. Our first time together was safe and we were able to spend the night together. It was worth the wait and not only do I have no regrets, I have amazing memories. And like 99.99% of all first times, physical pleasure was not the whole of this sweet encounter. Love was. And that's the memory I get to take into my old age. Let that be your memory too.

Between college and marriage, I loved and left as well as loved and lost a variety of men of various ages, sizes, colors and jobs. Not a regret among the bunch as I learned a lot about myself and life--both romantic and real life. And I remember each one with a smile, even the ones who lied or cheated. They taught me that their issues weren't mine and that I only could only control my actions and reactions, not theirs, but always had the power to decide what was ultimately best for me. I took those lessons into my my ultimate relationship.

I've been lucky in marital love. I met my husband and after a very romantic whirlwind, six days later we were engaged (try breaking that to your boyfriend of a year who just happened to go away for a week and comes back to hear that news!). Because love and I were no strangers by this point, I knew he was Mr. Right. And guess what, on paper he should have been all wrong. He was a graduating senior, I'd been out of school four years (and dating a VP at a brokerage firm). He had no money, no job and we hadn't even had sex. But my heart knew and I went for it. May 31 is our 23 wedding anniversary. We have two fantastic kids and have had a great life together. He's been a partner on Wall Street during his twenty plus year stint in the financial business. We have a great house and have traveled the world together. We've had our ups and downs and have laughed a lot together and cried a lot too. CW taught me that the best lovers are friends and that love morphs into a variety of shapes as the decades go by but ultimately, remains love.

Okay, so here are the lessons I've learned and the reasons why LOVE is number one on my gratitude list. Love is the one thing we all desire and say we want but it's also the thing that we seem to understand the least and fear the most. I learned that unless that you love yourself first and understand your worth, you'll always be looking for love in other people and that's a recipe for disaster. I've learned that love is God and God lives in each one of us. I've learned that if you fear love you'll never grow as a person and that loving full out is better than protecting your heart. I've learned that love isn't always meant to be forever but its lessons and memories are, and that the only way you can get good at love is to DO it, FEEL it, SHARE it. I've learned that if love goes unattended it will die. I learned that the more love you give the more love you get and that sex without love can be good but sex with love is FRICKIN'GREAT. I've learned that loving yourself makes you FEEL sexy and loving someone else makes you ACT sexy.

Love...Pass it on!

Thursday, May 1, 2008

Countdown to Fifty

I turn fifty in twenty-four days. It is my intent to blog about the top 25 things I've learned to love about myself, my life, my age and the world in my half century of life. It was my intent to begin today.

But life throws you curves. I learned this May Day that God indeed has a sense of humor.

Today I received my AARP card in the mail. It came the same day I received the news that I have to get braces. I'm so confused. The AARP card goes with my newly sprouted gray hairs (two to be exact). The braces will team up nicely with my adult acne.

My fifty and fabulous mindset has been momentarily altered.

Instead of blogging, I'm going to go have a cocktail or two and try to sort all this out. I'll be back tomorrow.

Indulge Yourself

I was encouraged by the results of April's poll. Looks like the majority of you, 93% to be exact, have no problem indulging yourself with the things you love. Here's what you indulge yourself with:

Travel: 27%

Food/Wine: 15%

Stuff: 33%
(Handbags, jewelry, etc.)

Other: 18%

For the rest of you who say you never indulge yourself, I offer this food for thought: There is a huge difference between self-ish and self-ness. Showing yourself a little love by giving yourself something that makes you feel good about being you is not only right but necessary. Occasionally indulging yourself (the same way you indulge others you love) can be just the show of love you need to get you through or celebrate you.

And think about this. If you're unwilling to shower yourself with a little attention and affection now and again, why should anyone else?

What do you think?