A Woman Visible

Search for beauty. Search for adventure. Search for the visible you.

Monday, October 16, 2006

One more thing...

Please keep me in your thoughts. I am wrestling with a bout of bronchitis, and can't get rid of my cough. It seems like a trifling thing, but I really want to be well.

I am also wrestling with where my career is going next. I'm not sure that the Local Technical College is going to continue to be my workplace for very much longer. I've just started my third year as a full-timer, but things are not very nice there right now. I can't really share a lot (on the off-chance that some of you out there work at the LTC and might get me in a mound of trouble), but I will say that corruption and loss of focus on the right things can really destroy a good thing. When we lose our ability to consider the students as customers and consumers of what we are offering, and we begin to think that destroying the careers of others is a valid activity if it means that we gain more power, then we need to stop and rethink our goals.

Maybe I'm an idealist (most of my friends would give a resoundning, YES!), but why can't we just do what we're supposed to do and take care of our students. Without them, we are a set of empty buildings, and a set of empty instructors. We could just as easily be flipping burgers at the nearby McDonalds, or serving lattes at the nearest Starbucks.

I got into education to help people gain a better life in the same way I did--by getting a higher education. Instead, I'm witness to people hurting others for forward their own careers, people ignoring the students that need the most help, and people acting like they own the universe because they have a title in front of their name.
All of this breaks my heart.

So, anyway, be sure to lift up prayers and the like for me and the rest of my friends at the LTC.

A Little First-of-the-Week Empowerment


Over the summer, I was in Starbucks one day, and I heard this wonderful album playing. Gina liked it too, so she asked who was singing. We were told it was India Arie. I had heard of her, but never really listened to her music. So, a few weeks later, when I was in Starbucks again ( I have to support my stock), I bought a copy of the album, called Testimony: Vol. I, Life and Relationship.

Wow!

It's an album about her and her life thus far. It's about her journey as a woman. What makes this album so amazing is that her journey speaks to my own journey. Her testimony could just as easily be my testimony. This doesn't mean that this is a plain-toast, middle of the road kind of album. The songs are connective, encouraging, empowering. She doesn't wallow in sorrow, or in her difference from others. She revels in her being who she is, and reminds me to do the same.

I think that we often forget the power we can gain from the words and experiences of other women. This is something we need to remember. We, as women, are wired to connect to relationships to others. Our society tends to make us focus on our relationship with men--but men often don't know what to do to validate us as women. Men do a lot of things right, don't misunderstand me, but the people that really get us where we are as women are other women.

These other women are women that should be chosen with care, and a bit of the hand of God. A woman can accomplish anything as long as she has a strong circle of girlfriends to lift them up. Wonder why we adore movies like Sisterhood of the Travelling Pants (besides the hot Greek guys...)? It's because of the "sisterhood" part. I've found that my sisterhood includes women who are like me--smart, opinionated, and have a wicked sense of humor. Age is not a factor, as I have women in my sisterhood who are older and younger than I am, have different talents, different professions, different needs. What connects us is our thoughts, beliefs, strengths and weaknesses--and the willingness to love in spite of all of those things.

As I listen to India, I can feel the presence of these special women in my life. I can hear them rallying around me, just like I hope they feel me rally around them. It is not always easy being a woman, especially a woman who is single, but would like to be otherwise. Still, there is something about sharing that female experience with others. Our girlfriends are a blessing in our lives.

Sunday, October 08, 2006

Ok...I'm Trying Really Hard to Get Back on This Horse

Yes, it's been a while since I posted. Go ahead, harangue me (Willena does often) ;-) So, what's going on with this woman who's trying her best to be visible?

1. I'm still working on the EHarmony thing. I think it's a bust. I've been on since August, and I have had exactly 0 (as in zero) matches. Or, as the screen says:

Our matching system was not able to find any new matches for you right now.

So much for the touchy-feely stuff they espouse in their advertising. They want all of their members to be
happy--hmmm--seems to me that they actually might be more interested in the money. I'm not sure that they really understand how getting exactly no hits can undermine a person's self-confidence. Their only answer to all of this so far is that finding the right match takes time. This is something I already know--I've spent the last nine and a half years trying all by myself. Looks like $150 and so-called experts won't even help me.

2. In spite of this EHarmony thing not working, I have tried to be positive. It's worked to some degree. I've met this really fab guy at work(I know, don't start. We don't work in the same building.) . He's smart, funny, and so cute! (He really is!). We've been to lunch a few times, and I enjoy him a lot. He's also very polite, did I mention that? He actually came to my classroom and waited for me to finish so we could go to lunch, and he opens doors for me. sigh...

The thing that bugs me is that I feel like I'm pursuing him. I want him to pursue me. Is that old fashioned? I don't know. Pursuing him has been kind of fun, but I don't want him to think that I'm some sort of monster woman that chases men. There is another woman on campus that
seems to be doing that, and yes, I want to rip her to pieces and spread those pieces across our campus. Once again, it makes me feel foolish to think those things, but I guess it bugs me because--well, I found him first. I keep telling myself that he wouldn't like her anyway because she smokes like a chimney. Still, just the thought of her messing with him makes me crazy.

3. I have been a reading maniac. In the last five months, I've torn through eight or nine novels, and as well as a few non-fiction books. The latest in my reading extravaganza was The Devil Wears Prada.
I read it in literally two days flat. I won't say it's the greatest book ever, but it was quite tasty. What made it a great read was simply the wonderful character development. I felt Andrea's fear, and Miranda's overpowering awfulness. There is also a real sense of claustrophobia and drowning, yet in spite of this feeling, you can't help but want to read more. The ending is bittersweet, and yet satisfying. Overall, a pretty good first novel. I haven't seen the movie yet, but somehow, I think perhaps there will be something lost in the translation.

Well, it's time for me to race to church. I've been writing all morning, and, as is usual when I do write on Sunday, I'm now behind.

More later...


Friday, August 04, 2006

A Week into My "Fishing Trip"

I'm a week into my eHarmony membership. So far the results have been exactly two possibilities. One possibility turned out to be in another relationship already (go him!), while the other is "away from his e-mail for a while." What does that mean? The positive, perky side of me (the one that would be a soccer mom if I let her out) says, "It's summer, and he's an active, single man. He's on vacation."

Yeah.

My cynical, self-critical side says, "He read your profile and got spooked.This is what you get for saying up front that your kids come first."

What I'm not sure I understand is why there have been no new matches for me since this one put me on hold ("Please hold for the next available love of your life."). My friend who met her husband through eHarmony tells me that I need to be patient. I'm trying my best. Still I'm sort of amazed that I wouldn't have more matches considering the thousands of singles who try eHarmony. I guess that could be a good thing. Maybe the profile thing makes it harder for the wrong guy to get through. So maybe having fewer matches is a good thing.

It doesn't, however, make the waiting any easier.

My kids found out about me doing this today because I checked my account and my son saw what I was doing. I had planned to keep them out of it until later. My son was amazed ("You really did it?"), and my daughter was indifferent, although I expect that I will hear more from her once it really sinks in. As much as I want to keep my "adult, private life" out of their faces (they get enough of that from other people), it's hard to be discreet about my desire to date. The kids will probably be good about it when I really start, but I know it will be hard, especially for my son, to take in the fact that mom is going out with men after being single for so long. Of course, my daughter would deny having any disparaging feelings about me dating ("Mom, you're analyzing this way too much."). I guess we won't know till it actually starts happening.

At this rate, it may not happen till I'm in my fifties.

Stayed tuned...

Thursday, July 27, 2006

Seems Like I Mocked This Idea Once


Ok...way back in February I did a slightly mean-spirited thing. On February 8 (you can check this out in the archives), I mocked the idea of eHarmony and predicted that I would end up being matched with Comic Book Guy from The Simpsons if I ever decided to try eHarmony.

You'd better be sitting down. I actually went to eHarmony last night and coughed up the money to fish in their pond for a month. This has been a decision I've been working up to all summer.

There's this couple in my church that met through eHarmony (they were married last October--should be in the commercials). They sat me down during a church social last month and gave me all the reasons I should do eHarmony. I shared my fears, they shared their hope. I told them I would consider it some more. I really wasn't sure what to do. It scared me. No, they didn't scare me...the thought of putting myself out there scared me. So instead, I considered it, would go to the website, stare and then run for the hills.

What was the final motivation in all of this?

Actually, I'm not sure there was just one. There were many that led to this decision. The first is that there are several eligible men at my church, but they aren't really showing me any interest. They have others that they are interested in. I can't blame them. One in particular has his eyes on a young woman that is not only beautiful but has a spiritual energy that literally lights her space. It makes me happy for him, but he's attractive and nice, and I wish he'd see me instead. He doesn't, so be it. Maybe I'm just not his type.

Another motivation may be that I'm flirting around, but often not with men that are actually able to act on the interpersonal play that is going on. I think I'm doing this in the subconcious thought that if the men can't act on things, I'm safe. I know that's not true, but it's easy to believe this. If I'm expending this much energy on flirting with 'safe' guys, then perhaps it's time to expend that energy on something that will reap an actual payoff (no, I don't mean sex).

Like my friend Don pointed out recently, "things don't just happen." I think I'm flirting because I'm gaining a bit of confidence back and want to try it on for size. I also am keeping this "things don't just happen" in mind to refrain from making some serious mistakes. (Thanks, Don).

Finally, I just want to try this. Tommi and Ken made me see that this is not a bad thing. I may not find my soul mate, or next husband, or anything--but I might get to meet some nice people and have some chances to go out and have some good experiences. If nothing else, it will get me out of the house for more than work, school, and music lessons.

I've already made contact with one guy. Say your prayer--who knows, I might be going out soon!

Been Off for a Bit...

Sometimes a person just loses her way. It's true. I took a month off from posting, which means that I've probably lost every single reader I had for this blog. I apologize to those who were faithful because I wasn't faithful to you as an audience. I hope to rectify this situation in the coming days. I also hope that my readers will return, and I hope a few new voices will come into the fold.

I could make the excuse that I ran out of things to say, but that wouldn't be true. The truth is that I have gotten lazy as summer has progressed. I have spent the last month reading, goofing off, playing computer games with my kids--and enacting the American ritual of summertime. Summertime makes me want to loaf. I figure when I get old, I'll be one of those folks you see walking the beaches (hopefully, I'll be hand-in-hand with an equally old guy) for hours on end. That part of me emerges during the summer.

I have not forgotten my goal of womanly self-discovery. I am still working on reading the Dr. Phil book, and have started Gary Smalley's The Five Languages of Love for Singles. I've read many other things as well, including several novels, which may get discussed here at some point. I'm still asking questions, and making decisions in an effort to work through the stuff that makes me who I am. All of that will make it back here eventually as well.

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So, how has my summer gone? I'd have to say that it has gone in directions I'd never dream of. I've had some pretty amazing experiences. I've actually flirted with some men (stop looking stunned), and I have actually started to be bold in trying to find someone to be with. I don't know if that means I'll actually complete that quest, but I gotta start somewhere.

I've also re-met (I just made up this word) an old friend, who is now old (ok...kidding) but brand new. I'm going to go ahead and share Don and Coded Thoughts with you. This is an infant blog, but I think it has potential ( I know, never trust a man with "potential"). I first met Don in 1983 while we were both in high school. We were both very different people then. I actually marvel that we became friends then, but I have to think that I liked him most because he made me laugh. Lots of things happened in our circle of friends over the years, including one major piece of ugliness that destroyed many friendships, and caused Don to disappear (smartly, I might add). I figured that I'd never see him again, and if I did, I wouldn't even begin to know what to say. I think he felt the same.

Fast forward to two weeks ago. He e-mailed me using my high school nickname in the subject heading (a name I haven't heard in so many years it jarred me). He asked for reconciliation and forgiveness. I think I surprised him when I replied to his e-mail.

Monday night, Amanda and I met Don and his lovely wife, Tiffany at Starbucks not far from my house. We had a great time. It was good to get to know him again. Sometimes we get this idea that people can't change. For the majority of people, that is correct. What I saw was a change that could only have been from God. He is happier than I've ever seen him, and he's actually accomplishing past his potential. It was beautiful. Amanda and I have often said that we were the ones that made it out of the hole where so many of our friends ended up, but I think that Don must have made it out too--even if he had to dig from the bottom.

It's funny because in a way, we weren't the only friends from the past there. I kept sensing a certain someone (Amanda, you know) hanging in the background. Perhaps it was because I knew Michael would have wanted to see us all laughing and happy. Perhaps we summoned him. (For those of you who don't know about him, Michael was a mutual friend of ours from high school who died when he was nineteen. There is a hole in my heart where he used to live.)

So as you can see, the summer has been fruitful in so many ways. I'm glad I'm back to share the fruit with you all!

Saturday, June 17, 2006

Man Day...Oops...Father's Day




Tomorrow we are having a very special episode of Going to Church with Jess and the Kids. See, tomorrow is Father's Day--that day when we celebrate fatherhood. Our church, in an attempt to be inclusive, has deemed this fine day "Bring the Men in Your Life to Church Day" by our worship committee, and "Man Day" by me and Gina.

I know that my church means well. I know that they look at this as a chance to get people to come to church. It's all good...really. I just am not sure they really thought out what they were doing here.

It is easy to assume a few things about this sort of "holiday:"

1. Everyone gets on with their father (or mother if it's Mother's Day).

2. Everyone has a man in their life that they can bring to church.

The truth of the matter is often not in line with these assumptions. There are children who would rather not celebrate Father's Day. Perhaps their fathers are deceased, or even worse, their fathers are not the sort of fathers you want to celebrate. What about the kids that have never met their father and wouldn't know him if he passed them on the street?


There are also people with no men in their lives. I actually have only two very close men in my life. My dad, who is a great guy, and Stuart, who is growing into his manliness at age 10. I do have other male friends, but mostly I only see them at work and school, and they are usually married and have other Sunday obligations. My own dad has to be at his church this Sunday for their celebration. So, how many men am I bringing to church? One--Stuart. He is at my side every Sunday, so I don't think he'll count.

Now, some would argue that it is my own fault I don't have a man in my life. It has been said that I am smart, funny, and rather attractive, so I should be able to have a man in my life if I really want him there. I'm not so sure, and maybe it's that uncertainty that causes me to be manless. Perhaps it's that same uncertainty that causes me to ache just a bit when we celebrate "Man Day" at church. Celebrating "Man Day" feels like someone is pointing out that there is no man in my life, which I know isn't really the case at all; no one would be so callous as to point out that missing component in my life.

I have tried to take a positive outlook on this whole episod
e. Maybe "Man Day" will allow me to meet some interesting men. Gina and Stuart, however, think that this take is rather, to put it in Gina's preteen word, "Pathetic." I don't think she's right, however. I really want to look at all the possibilties that are thrown at me.

Perhaps "Man Day" won't be so bad. At least maybe the view will be good! Now if I can do more than just open my eyes to the possibilities. I can look all day long, but I still have to open my heart to it.

Happy "Man Day" to all my male readers. If you happen to also be a parent (I know some of you are), Happy Dad's Day as well. Thank you for participating in your kiddo's lives. One day, not now, they will thank you for it.

Saturday, June 10, 2006

My Daughter Eats Sushi!

This week, Gina and I have spent lots of time together because Stuart has been at camp. As much as I've missed my little man, I have really enjoyed having time to have some adventures that only Gina and I could have. One of those adventures included sushi.

I'm probably one of the few people left in my generation (Generation X) who hasn't really eaten sushi before. It's a really telling thing when my own, twelve-year old daughter has eaten more sushi than I have. Anyway, there's this Asian restaurant close to our house that serves all sorts of food including sushi. I wanted to try it, but was scared of eating raw fish.

My brother happens to know the family that owns this restaurant and put me at ease. He told me that Mr. Lei runs the cleanest sushi bar he'd ever eaten at (Mr. Lei had a restaurant in Cherokee County, north of where I live, for several years. My brother lived there during that time). Gina was dying to eat some of his sushi, so I told her that while Stuart was at camp, we would try it.

We went on Wednesday afternoon. She went to work with me, and then we went to lunch. I had no idea how to order, but Mr. Lei helped me the best he could. We ordered a Japanese lunch box. The funniest part of the experience was when Mr. Lei asked Gina "You eat raw fish?" She looked at him in the eyes, almost as if the question was a challenge, and said, "Yes." He got a surprised look on his face and gave an amazed whistle.

The lunch box was amazing! We had California rolls, and five types of fish with rice. Gina and I went traditional and ate with chopsticks. My favorite things after the California rolls? The salmon and the tuna. Both had a clean, delicious taste. The salmon was especially good because even in a raw state it tasted like salmon should. Gina enjoyed the rolls and the crab the best.

What I loved the most about the whole experience was that we got to have an adventure together and had a really good time doing it. Will I eat sushi again? You bet!

If you are a reader that lives in the Marietta, GA area, you need to check out Li's Asian Cuisine on Dallas Highway. It is one of the finest Asian restaurants to come to our part of town.

The Lonely Sponge

The last two weeks have been crazy and also good. I have graded papers for my students, answered their frantic e-mails, and actually cleaned my office (both offices in fact--a miracle in itself). I also spent last week with my daughter, Gina, while my son, Stuart, was at camp. We had a great time being girls together, and I treasure the time we had with just the two of us. More about that later...

I've also been buying books like there's no tomorrow.

I do this. I go for months without buying a single book, and then---BAM! I practically live in the book store, and I go on a feeding frenzy. It's not that I lack reading material so much as it's I discover new titles that interest me. So, I was in feeding frenzy mode last week, and ended up buying two new books and the new O Magazine. I've bought five in a row now, so I guess I should consider either reading it online, or purchasing a subscription. As many of you know by now, this magazine is one of my guilty pleasures (dark chocolate and margaritas being the others).

This latest issue did not disappoint. I'm still perusing the magazine, and there is so much packed in this issue. Two things jump out at me that would be interesting to talk about here.

There is an article concerning lonliness called, "One is the Loneliest Number." It's supposed to be a "how you can help your lonely friend"sort of thing, but then there's a quiz attached to it. I took the loneliness quiz from the article (why would you need one if the article is about helping a friend?)and here's my score:



THE LONELINESS QUIZ Results


Your score is 27. The average loneliness score is 20; 25 or more reflects a high level of loneliness.

This can't be right. Still, there it is. I have a marginally high level of loneliness. I'm not so sure I really want to believe this. It makes me sound like a hermit. Can't I be somewhat sure that people around me don't often really understand what makes me tick, can't I feel like I don't get enough attention? I wonder how this quiz works on different days. There are some days I feel exceptionally lonely and other days where I feel exceptionally connected to everything.

After giving a score, the rest of the article contains some helpful hints on how to help your lonely friend. It's very thoughtful, and as I read through the hints, I find that, yeah, there are times that I need a shove in the social direction, or I need a friend to just drop an e-mail or a call. I also find that there are just as many times when I really enjoy being alone. It's a bit of a schizoid thing.

I think that my score is just reflective of the singularity I've been feeling for the last few weeks. Finals do that to you. Perhaps, the quiz should have a warning--"Don't take this if you are exhausted or just finishing the end of the quarter."

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The second article of note, besides the drooly Hugh Jackman interview (you can actually listen to this) Oprah conducted (notice that she didn't let anyone else do this interview), is one I can really relate to. "The Sponge People" discusses how some of us are "spongy." Yes, my friends, it's true. Many of us are "spongy" (let's all join in a chorus of "Under the Sea"). According to author, Martha Beck, "
some people put out a lot of emotional energy—and others pick up a lot of it."

This is something I've known for a while. I know I'm a sponge, and I know that emotional states can be contagious. I have to be extremely careful, especially in the work place. If several of my work friends are feeling panicky or are upset, I will pick up the emotions and carry them around with me. Strong feelings are the worst, and sometimes if I have a similar emotion going already, my sponge works at taking in more of that feeling. So, I have to watch who I hang out with.

I think that's where "you are whom you associate with" really makes sense. I have that quote on my computer. Let me give you the whole quote:

Walk briskly away from destructive people. Find generous people to hang out with. You are whom you associate with.

This one quote has helped me time and again. When I find that a person continually feeds out negative emotions, and I can feel my attitude swerving due to my sponginess, I step back and examine what's happening. At first, that was very hard, especially when I had to examine a very long relationship with a terribly destructive person, but the reward was excellent. Now, it's not so hard. By knowing my spongy tendencies, I have learned the value of listening. Listening to the people around me, listening to my own words, and listening to my heart, which tends to tell me the truth. If I'm spewing negativity, I make myself stop (most of the time). If negativity is brewing around me, I try to get away from the center of it.

So, are you lonely or spongy today?




Friday, June 09, 2006

You turn your back for one second!

Well, it happened. I turned my back for just sec on this blog, suddenly, a week has gone by and I have nothing to show for it.

I apologize. Finals week got the best of me. I had 40 essay exams to read, and grades to post before my students self-destructed at my office door. Now that all of that is done with for a few weeks, I can get in some quality posting, I hope.

I have some good stuff that I want to talk about, and will probably begin posting again tonight. For those of your that keep up with my other journal, The Other Invisible and enjoy the Writer's Weekly Question, get ready, because I plan to post a new question tonight.

Bear with me. It will get better.