Thursday, March 31, 2011

Best Laid Plans: Episode 2.5 - A Confession...

Best Laid Plans is a documentary web series that asks: what do you do when life throws you a curve ball? In this episode, I use my at-home camera to assess where I am in this whole journey so far...

Tuesday, March 29, 2011

At War with War and Peace

Some of you may have read my post regarding a flip (yet untenable) promise I made to friends that I would join them in their pursuit of reading (and finishing) War and Peace. If you need a reminder, check out that blog post here: Keeping Promises.

I have good news and bad news. The good news is that I'm almost in the 500's! The bad news is that I'm only *almost in the 500's!

More good news: I believe the bicep on my right arm - the arm that I usually use to hold this 1200-plus page novel while I read on the subway, has gotten bigger since I cracked the book open.

More bad news: My left bicep is just as wimpy as it was a little over a month ago when I began my Tolstoy pursuit.

I have to admit, there have been days when I purposefully left the book at home. I needed a break. I needed to feel the lightness - both intellectually and physically - of my Itouch. My friend gave me an out when I mentioned my W&P hiatus, but I knew my break was only a temporary respite. If I don't finish it now, I know it'll always feel like a lost goal - like never being able to do a proper handspring, for example. So other than my occasional break, I still spend my commute absorbing Tolstoy's world of words... his many, many words.

I remain the runt of my book club litter though - far behind my friends (one has even finished!). I'm still in this race though and actually, for the most part, am enjoying the experience. I've never read Tolstoy before and I can say, in my humble opinion, that I now understand why he is considered one of the greats. He may never be considered one of the concise greats, but certainly he is one of the greats. His passage about the night... yowza! I read that passage twice just to experience it again.

So if you happen to ride the NYC subways and spot a short, lopsided girl reading a very thick, very heavy book, stop and say hello. If nothing else, it will give my eyes a rest from some very small type. And if you've read W&P, I'd love to hear from you. What'd you think?

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Happily Ever After vs. The Marriage Counselor

Has anyone else read this article on The Huffington Post: Do As I Say, Not As I Do? Turns out, even the relationship experts don't always know the right path through hard times in a marriage. Marriage counselor, Sharyn Wolf, writes that while she was selling books about dating and building a successful relationship (even offering insight on the Oprah Winfrey show mulitple times), she was one-half of a failing marriage. Say what?

When my marriage fell apart, I felt like a failure. I was embarrassed. I would hear of other friends overcoming hard times in their own marriage and think, why couldn't I do that? What was wrong with me that I couldn't overcome difficulties as well? Seeing "marriage experts" on television only emboldened my sense of defeat. Yep! I it was my fault that things fell apart. A bad marriage is completely fixable if only you do the "correct" things.


Here I am, a number of years beyond my husband telling me he wanted out. I'm in a new relationship, I have a new sense of myself and feel like I've finally come out the other side of all that badness. And now - now(!) - I hear about this "relationship expert's" failed marriage? My first thoughts were: liar! Fraud! Where was this admission when I needed to hear it most?

Then I realized that my condemnation probably wasn't fair. I remembered that when my relationship was falling apart, it wasn't only a feeling of failure I experienced - I also felt shame. I walked around feeling shame that my husband and I couldn't stick it out. I've talked to other people who went through breakups and they too felt a sense of shame surrounding their coupling crash. Why would I assume that a "relationship expert" would be any different? In fact, she may have felt even worse. How hard must it have been to promote yourself as a meastro of marriage while you're own relationship is tanking. Indeed, she writes "...I was counseling my patients with the principles from my book, and they were thriving--leaving therapy to go on with their lives. They kept getting better while my marriage kept getting worse. I felt like a fraud..."

Big oy.

Isn't it time we all embrace marriage as a joint effort between two people to do the very best they can to build and maintain a thriving relationship? Doesn't that sound so much more active and realistic than happily ever after? Perhaps if we all took a step back from happily ever after we'd all realize that even a relationship expert might succumb to two people's best still not being good enough.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Thursday, March 10, 2011

A Best Laid Plans Question

As many divorced people can probably tell you, divorces often occur to one's life rather than one's marriage. You aren't simply saying goodbye to your spouse, you're also - at least if your experience is similar to mine - having to say goodbye to some friends as well. If you're with your partner for any length of time, your social life (for the most part) melds into one huge unified body. In fact, one of the signifiers for me that my marriage was in trouble, was realizing just how much time my spouse was spending with people I wasn't very friendly with. But once the dissolution process of our union began, and some ugly revelations came to the fore, I realized that there were certain relationships that I couldn't handle anymore. My heartbreak extended beyond my spouse when I realized that some of my friends either couldn't or wouldn't meet the expectations I hadn't even been aware I had of them. The breaking up of a marriage isn't easy for the couple or the community of people affected. Nobody comes out unscathed and that was certainly true in my situation. In the end, I needed to break up with a lot of people. For me, being in the presence of some of the people who I'd felt let down by was too difficult. I couldn't let those feelings go, so, I divorced myself from them.

Here's the kicker though...

Just because I divorced myself from some people, doesn't mean that I don't still have to see them. It's a small world out there and often friendships are created through other friends and you become a part of a whole circle of connectivity. And along with that, exists a constant reminder of learning how to forgive. How do you do this? How do you let go of the pain of being let down by people you believed cared about you? I keep reminding myself of all of the mistakes I've made with friends - all of my errors in judgement or selfish things I've done. I look at my mistakes now and recall how badly I wanted to be forgiven by the people I loved. We're all human. We all want to be forgiven. People make mistakes after all and the peaks of friendship must all come with valleys, right?

So how can I do this? How can I open myself up to let that ball of hurt in the pit of my stomach roll right out of me, so that when I have to see these people I can offer them a genuine smile and extend a genuine offer of, if not friendship, peace.

Any ideas?

Tuesday, March 8, 2011

I'm In a Book!

I've just found out that I will be a contributor to the highly anticipated book: Five Must Know Secrets for Today's College Girl by Lauren P. Salamone.
The book is slated for release this coming May and in it, you'll find some thoughts on my own college experience. If you have a daughter who is soon to be entering the college frontier, check out Lauren's book: Five Must Know Secrets for Today's College Girl. Lauren is an award-winning mentor and it's an honor to be a part of a book that was written to help college girls confidently and with purpose, attain their goals!