The Promise

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This Christmas, my boyfriend gave me a promise ring. We talked for a while about what it means to be in each other’s lives, and that we want to grow old together. The ring is so sweet and pretty. It is an arrow with a heart shaped ruby as the tip. Getting the ring was confirmation that we are building a life and that our search is over. The pieces of our life fit together.

This had me shedding tears of pure happiness. I finally met someone who loves me for who I am, not what I have or can give.

We discussed the fact that we will be getting engaged sometime in the coming year, most likely before spring begins. That got me thinking about what it means to truly commit with a full heart and no reservations. It can make me a little scared when I think about the fact that we are going to eventually get married, but I know that is normal and to be expected. If a person doesn’t think about how serious marriage is, they have no business doing that if you ask me.

No one is perfect. We all have funny habits and things that are not going to change, the question then becomes-can I live with these habits?

Yes. Neither one of us is perfect, but we are well suited to each other. We compliment each other in many ways. Learning to accept one another as we are is a tremendous relief. Growing up, I often felt that I was never enough all on my own. Either that, or that my personality had to undergo major changes to be accepted. These days, worrying about that acceptance is not a priority. I like myself enough now to relax if a person doesn’t think much of me.

That process has been helped along by loving someone who loves me in return.

The wonderful part is that now there is someone alongside me sharing in the good and the bad of life. I look forward to the day when we do take that plunge. I won’t be going it alone.

I promise to love you more each passing day.

A Few Years Ago

Christmas and the New Year are upon us, giving me a chance to see how far I have come. Have I changed much these past two years?

The things that keep wandering around in my head are the simple realities that I have changed. How have I changed? I will tell you.

There was a time when I jumped at shadows. These days may not be gone permanently, but there is improvement. I do still get rattled, but those feelings don’t last as long.

A few years ago, I had a fiery temper. I just went off. These days, I think before reacting, more days than I don’t.

A few years ago, I worried about things that were beyond anyone’s control. Who am I kidding? I still do that. Nobody’s perfect.

A few years ago, I believed there was nothing out there. I did not believe in God, or Jesus. That is no longer the case. I now have a small concept of faith in things unseen, and have changed my mind about the existence of God and Jesus. I am happy to say I am a believer now.

A few years ago, I was confused between need and love. I needed to be needed. Love was nowhere in sight. I chased after a person who used me and never loved me. I am happy to report this is no longer true. I have a man that I love. One of the greatest things is that we have grown together over the past two years.

A few years ago, life meant very little. The holidays were empty. It was pure luck that I did not spend Christmas alone the way I did on Thanksgiving a few years ago. These days the holidays mean more than just gifts. It means and end to the old life that had me for such a long time thinking that none of this mattered.

A few years ago I was miserable. Happily enough, these days I am not.

Who says people don’t change? A few years ago, I was quite a different person.

I like the new me.

Another Thanksgiving, Another Gratitude List

Today, Gini Dietrich has challenged her readers to come up with 99 things they are grateful for in ten minutes. Let’s see how I do.

Things I am grateful for

Being alive
My boyfriend Frank
My son
Coffee
Blog readers
Learning new skills
Sunsets
The way my boyfriend looks into my eyes
Having our own apartment
Our new mattress
A full closet of clothes
Increasing faith
Realizing I am not alone
Fall foliage
My friends that I made here in MA
My friends from NJ who still keep in touch
Memories of my parents
Sitting on my couch watching football
The feel of freshly washed sheets when you get in bed
Funny people who wander around Walmart
My two cats, Mitsy and Gracie
Going to concerts during the summer with friends
Boats
Not having to take the bus everywhere
CrossFit classes
My best friend
That first sip of coffee in the morning
My improved health
Quitting smoking
Good music
Keeping up with friends on social networks
Making my mom’s sauce
Reading
Finding funny videos and laughing like a fool
Watching my boyfriend DJ at the local bar
Dancing
Knowing that there is help out there for my injuries
A freezer full of food
Health insurance
A good attorney to help with my case
Getting surprise text messages from Frank
Being able to donate to the shelter that helped me
NY Giants
NY Yankees
Having great memories of historic baseball games
Tacos and nachos
Freshly mowed grass
Abbey Road by The Beatles
Being in a blogging group
Guest posting on other people’s blogs

That is about it. I hope you liked my list. I did not make 99. That does not mean I am not grateful, it means I type slow.

What are the things you are grateful for?

I Still Miss You Both

November is the month that dad passed away. It is also the month of my mom’s birthday. These days are so painful. This year marked mom’s tenth anniversary of being in Heaven. She hated celebrating her birthday. She could be painfully shy.

What is odd is that they passed away in the month of each other’s birth. Mam passed the last day of March. My dad was born in March. My parents were married forty nine and a half years.

Time does not heal all wounds. What time does is sand the hard edges off of those memories. Some memories still make me cry all these years later. I am still unable to hear Harry Belafonte without running out of the room in hysterics. The edge has not come off that memory. It is possible that memory will make me cry till the day I die. It is not so bad to still grieve. That means there was love there.

Love still lives on, even with heavy loss and grief. The things that remind us of loved ones are there to show us we were loved too.

Monday, my mother would be seventy nine if she lived. I will be making her spaghetti sauce recipe from scratch. She would like that. She made that sauce every Sunday. We actually never ate spaghetti. We had ziti. If you knew my dad, you know that spaghetti would make too much of a mess. We had ziti with sauce, and white bread with butter. We watched television while we ate. We did not talk at the table, especially if Barney Miller was on.

Mom watched Bill O’Reilly each night and yelled at the television. She did not like him, and watched his show to see what he was up to. When mom passed, dad took over watching him and yelling at the television.

That is how I know love never dies even when someone we love leaves this earth. We all do things that remind us of our loved one. We do it to keep that connected feeling, whether it is playing their favorite song, or cooking their signature dish.

I still miss you both.

You’re Offended? Grow Some Balls!

It seems there is quite the shit storm over a red coffee cup. People are offended and calling this a “war on Christmas” Really? Are we such simpletons that we are going to be offended by an inanimate object? This is beyond silly. Get a pair of balls and put on your big kid pants. Life is always going to give us something to bitch about.

If Jesus were to come back today, I am going to guess that he would not care about red coffee cups. You know what he probably would care about? How did we get so far away from what He was trying to tell us in the first place?

You want some stuff to be offended about? Restaurants throw out tons of edible food annually. Why is this food not donated to the needy? You want something else? How about our veterans returning home and getting poor health care and no housing? Vets in homeless shelters? That is offensive.

Or, perhaps you might be offended by all the stray or abandoned animals being put down. Stop adopting pets if you are unable to take care of them. Really. That is offensive. If I sit and think about it, I can run off a huge list of things to be offended by.

Here is the point that has been missed. The holiday season is upon us. Celebrate it in your way. No matter what that means. Stop worrying about what the guy down the street is up to. Worry about you. If you don’t want to drink coffee from a red offensive cup, then don’t. If you only want coffee from a place that sells doughnuts, then do that.

Bottom line – grow a set of balls, and start caring about things that matter.

Here is an idea, instead of bitching about red cups, how about taking that energy and putting it to good use? Go volunteer somewhere. Donate to one of the many great causes that are collecting stuff. You can donate a toy and make a kid’s Christmas better. How about being part of the solution instead of part of the problem.

Can you help make the world a better place, or are you going to bitch about red coffee cups?

A Forgotten Man

Yesterday, I saw something that touched my heart. I saw someone who once was in the shelter with me. In those days, he exuded energy. Always a smile on his face, often a kind word for anyone around him.

He left the shelter to go on to better things. In my travels I would see him around town. He quit doing drugs and alcohol. He was working and life was turning around for him.

Then why did I see him panhandling yesterday?

Yesterday was a typical cold October day. The rain came down hard and unforgiving. It was the kind of raw which will chill you to your bones. The kind of cold where you freeze in just a sweatshirt.

I have been there. It is dehumanizing to panhandle. The sad reality is this; panhandling is more and more common these days. Being homeless doesn’t have to be a death sentence, but for many it is. They slide down the rabbit hole of drugs and alcohol to find out an awful truth. You can run, but you will never be able to hide. No matter where you go, your demons come with you.

I gave him the loose change I had in my wallet. It was the least I could do. Many helped me when I had nothing. It was my turn to be of help.

Hopelessness has a human form. It is that same form that aimlessly wanders streets, sometimes searching for cigarettes, other times looking for money. We can turn a blind eye if we want, but the problem will not go away. Homelessness rates here in the United States keeps on rising. Does it upset you to see people huddled up in an old blanket, looking for a little warmth? Or, do you think they brought these problems on themselves, and deserve nothing?

The other day, I watched a Ted talk about money. Specifically, about how when one player of Monopoly is given more money than the other player, the “rich” player will be an arrogant gas bag bragging about what they have. I am certain that the seventy five or so cents I gave could go to something. Perhaps a coffee, maybe a beer. It is not up to me to determine what the money gets spent on.

Others give food to the homeless, or coffee. Those are selfless acts. Nine times out of ten, those acts are done by an individual who doesn’t have a ton of money either.

The homeless problem is not going away.

Please don’t let them be forgotten.

Who Are You Living For?

Who are you living for? Are you fulfilling your own dreams or someone else’s?

Yesterday, chatting with one of my closest friends, the topic turned to what matters most in life. See, she wants to do something for herself. This got me thinking about goals and how we go about achieving them. The first thing that jumps into my mind is the question of who am I doing this for. Is this goal in my heart, or am I living out a dream for another person?

This question seems easy, but the truth can be hard to come by.

I used to think I lived for myself, but that was untrue. I lived to be accepted by others, when what I needed was to accept myself.

Rarely have I decided to pursue a dream all on my own. That mentality is starting to change. Life is about doing the right things for the right reasons and chasing after your dreams. YOUR dreams. Not your friend’s dreams, or your boss’s dreams, but yours. When I think about what I want my life to look like in five years, I am creating a vision for me. That is a far cry from how I used to live.

Living for another person has been a major stumbling block in my life. I have no one to blame but myself for this.

When you please others while ignoring your own wants and needs, resentment can fester and grow. If life is meant to be lived, why put all of your eggs into another person’s basket? Why? To be accepted? To not challenge the status quo?

When I die, I don’t want a lengthy list of goals and dreams I allowed to die. I want to be remembered as a person who stopped caring so deeply about popular opinion. Living life catering to the ever-changing world of what friends and acquaintances have to say is a set up for disaster. Forgetting yourself means you are living by default.

This can have all kinds of consequences.

Years ago, I went furniture shopping with my boyfriend who was pretty successful. We went to a few furniture stores, and he talked me into buying seven thousand dollars worth of furniture for my apartment. At the time, I could afford the payments, but in all reality, this was a bill I didn’t need. I kowtowed to him and in the interim, bought myself a nice hunk of debt. What I should have done in retrospect, was to be far more budget conscious. Thank goodness I no longer do stupid things like this. It seems silly, but I got that furniture to impress him. Pathetic. If I were a stronger person, I would have said no.

I needed to stand up for myself instead of living for others. It has been a tough lesson to learn, but these days I have stopped looking so much for approval. I approve of me, and that is what matters.

Are you looking for others to approve of you?