Do You Trust Who You Are?

Do you trust who you are?

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Do you trust who you are? I stared down this question several months ago when I led a panel discussion at the first ever Not Mom Summit.

The summit was the first of its kind, giving those who are without children by choice or by chance an opportunity to share with others in their tribe in a most supportive environment.

I welcomed the opportunity to speak at the summit when the gregarious and gracious Karen Malone approached me nearly a year ago. At the time, I thought it would benefit the Girlfriend Mom brand and it might be fun to meet others face to face, and not on the sterile and impersonal world wide web.

However, a funny thing happened after a few hours conversing, observing, and sharing meals with my tribeswomenI started to struggle with topics of conversation (that never happens). It also felt as if I were a high school freshman sitting in the senior section of the cafeteria, knowing full well that I didn’t belong there.

A lot had happened over the past year, and I was almost numb to the idea of talking about being childfree. Unlike most of my colleagues, I couldn’t summon up any strong opinions one way or another on the subject. Yes, I chose to be childfree, but as the Girlfriend Mom, or even the ex-Girlfriend Mom, I couldn’t relate.

The weekend brought up a bag of emotions that I thought I’d already unpacked. How did I identify myself and how did I define my relationship with my ex’s kids. How much importance do I attach to it; not the relationships themselves, but rather titles, and labels. Do I have a burning desire to commiserate? I’d rather talk about housing options if Trump becomes the next POTUS.

As I listened to speakers like Meghan Daum, editor of Selfish, Shallow & Self- Absorbed: Sixteen Writers on the Decision Not to Have Children; and Melanie Notkin, founder of Savvy Auntie® and author of Otherhood: Modern Women Finding A New Kind of Happiness, I drifted further and further away from the group.

After hearing about challenges that others had faced regarding their lifestyle choices, I realized how fortunate I was not to have ever been shamed, judged (at least not to my face) or bombarded with rude questions. Others had not been as fortunate.

I’d been shamed and criticized for other things; like wearing a fanny pack well into adulthood and moving to Nicaragua with no real plan. But not wanting to be responsible for another human being? No.

The women were lovely and smart; from all walks of life, from all around the world, but their enthusiasm for converging in one place to talk about their lives as the childfree or childless was lost on me.

On my flight home, I racked my brains trying to ascertain the reasons why I felt disconnected and disengaged. Hours later, just as the plane began its final descent, it came to me.

It wasn’t about being childfree, summits or inclusion. It was about sharing commonalities, other than whether we’d given birth or not. It was about being around funny, like minded people, that had nothing to do with motherhood, otherhood, parenthood or Robin Hood.

Being childfree is just a fact, a by-product, a non issue in my day to day life. In the same way that I don’t own a home and I prefer to rent; it’s simply a fraction of who I am. In the same way that I’m 5’3. I’m not going to attend a conference for those that are 5’3 tall renters am I? That may be a stretch, but you get my point.

The only time that my childfree status comes up is when a stranger, or acquaintance, asks me if I have kids. Perhaps it’s in the confident way that I say no, (or the look in my eyes or the satisfied smile on my face) but when I do, the conversation comes to a halt.

There are those rare occasions when someone will follow up with, “Oh, you don’t own a home? Don’t you care that you’re throwing money away? Don’t you care about having something to show for yourself? Do you have any regrets? Don’t you think it gets harder the older that you get? Oh, you’ll change your mind.”

No. No I won’t.

 

 

Leo DiCaprio and I Are Both Revenants

Leonardo Dicaprio Revenant

PhotoCredit:showbiz411.com

If you would have told me that a week before Christmas, I’d be imbibing with my ex-boyfriend’s ex-wife, while sitting on the edge of her bathtub in a bathroom in her townhouse in suburban New Jersey, while watching her apply make-up and do up her hair before meeting her boyfriend, I would have said that there was a better chance of finding out that I was adopted and that my biological parents were Gladys Knight and any one of the Pips.

I sat on the edge of the tub and we chatted about hair products, and the kids. I laughed quietly to myself because I felt like I was eight years old, watching my mom ready herself for a night on the town. I used to hang out with her mainly because I was avoiding going downstairs, knowing that my brother was walking around with his underwear on his head trying to shock the babysitter.

Drinking Pinot Grigio while talking to the ex-wife’s reflection in the mirror was just another surreal moment in a scroll length list of surreal moments that had occurred over the last two years since her ex-husband and I broke up.

Most people can’t get their heads around the fact that I’ve continued to nurture my relationships with the Girlfriend Mom kids but then when I tell them that I’ve rock climbed, and broken bread with their mother, the ex-wife, they’re positively flummoxed and judgy.

I was hesitant reaching out to her years ago. Some of it was out of loyalty to my ex, and some of it was fear. I never had an ex-wife in my life and I wasn’t exactly sure how that dance went; or what to wear.  

Then it slowly occurred to me that I didn’t owe anybody anything, loyalty or otherwise, and I had to do what was right for me and my quest for keeping those that I loved in my life, no matter what the cost, or how scared I was.

This quest was a bit like the one Leo DiCaprio takes in his recent movie, Revenant. Stay with me here.

Leo plays a fur trapper, and when he’s attacked by a bear, he’s left to die by his own hunting team. While I’m no fur trapper (nor was I attacked by a bear and left to rot) a part of me died after my break-up, leaving me alone to find a way to maintain my relationship with my team member’s kids. Leo and I were both explorers as we discovered new land. I was a friggin’ pioneer on my expedition.

Along our journey, Leo and I both found ourselves navigating uncharted territory under harsh conditions. My conditions were more of the emotional variety, while his included swimming in icy rivers and eating raw bison liver. You say tomato, I say tomahto.

He had to cauterize his wounds, which I’m sure was awfully painful. However, my unimaginable grief, and betrayal was no less painful. Thankfully no burning of flesh was necessary.

What kept me going (like Leo) was sheer will. In my case, I also had the love of two kids. It was a question of survival for both Leo and myself, and our determination to thrive. I can’t speak for him, as I haven’t seen the movie, but I sure as hell have thrived.

One of the definitions of a revenant is that of a sentient being returning from the dead with the goal of terrorizing the living. An ex-wife and an ex-girlfriend are talking in a bathroom. That could be terrorizing to some, no? Muahahaha buahahaha.

Knit One, Vulva Two: Vaginal Knitting

PhotoCredit:Organart.wordpress.com

PhotoCredit:Organart.wordpress.com

Knit one, vulva two. Or is it knit one, purl two? I’m definitely late coming to this party but better late than never.

I thought that after the Vaginal Yogurt scandal and my crack reporting on Vaginal Weightlifting that the hoo hoo was out of wondrous activities. I was wrong. Again. I give you Vaginal Knitting.

When I was first made aware of this bizarre craft, I thought wow, can this woman’s vagina actually knit? Could she spin yarn with her vulva, or make slip knots with her clitoris? Now that would deserve a standing O (not that O) and I would be apt to write more favorably of such a Christmas miracle. Perhaps I’d even try it myself. It’s winter after all and I could use a new pair of mittens.

But alas this was not the case. In 2013, feminist artist, Casey Jenkins, performed a piece called, “Casting Off My Womb.” She literally inserted a cream colored skein of wool into her hoo hoo, pulled out the thread from the middle, sat on a table with her legs demurely spread apart in an art gallery, and for the next 28 days used the vaginal yarn to knit a sweater, or scarf (I don’t know does it matter?).

The number of days is relevant, because she continued to backstitch and weave all through her menses, which was, as she reported, a lot harder to knit because the wool was wet. And let’s not forget the color pattern also changed, and yet she persevered.

What the f’ is going on outside of my front door? This is why I don’t leave the house.

Ms. Jenkins wanted her performance to address taboos surrounding the female genitalia, dispelling fear and negative associations. Who are these frightened people raising their voices against the scary vulva? And is shoving a skein of wool inside her snatch, and knitting a hat, or baby booties calming or dispelling anything?

She thought her demonstration was natural. No, Casey, it’s not. If it were, then there would be a whole lot more of us ladies crafting caftans with our cooters in public spaces, or while watching reality TV with out families.

She commented on how sometimes she would get aroused by the wool. Well, yeah, cuz you have something all up inside of you, brushing up against your lady parts, tickling you.

I have to admit that there’s something to be said for having a product at the end of her of little stunt. I’m all for making things and you can’t claim the same when one uses an adult toy or the male appendage.

There are other female artists who have tested the limits of the public’s uneasiness with the naked female form and I’d write about those too if only I could stop laughing. Again, I fail to see how any of this is going to make someone more comfortable. In fact, I think it might have the opposite affect.

Casey used her vagina as a mailbox, or container, (as it often is) so how would those afraid of the powerful vulva be any less scared or unnerved? To me the video is tame and innocuous. I was far more impressed with some of the women in the Hangover movies, and those who can smoke with their hoo hoos. Come on Casey, at least show us the inner workings of your box.

I’m all for expressing oneself; I too live a creative life, but this seemed forced. On the other hand what do I know? Maybe she had the right idea as evidenced by the publicity she received.

Tomorrow I’m going to buy a violin at a pawn shop, go down into the subway, insert it into my hoo, and play my sweet sweet Vaginal Music. And when Baretta comes to take me away, I’m going to tell him that it’s only performance art (and a vagina) and that he shouldn’t be afraid because neither will hurt him.

 

 

 

The Answer to Your Lonely Saturday Night

Cracked Heels

PhotoCreditBy:AmopePedi

I think it’s safe to say that we all have something about ourselves that we’re unhappy with, dissatisfied with; something (or some things) that we’d like to change, or alter.

These could be physical deformities, like natty cuticles, or behavioral deformities, like acute narcissism, selfishness or the inability to show compassion.

Lord knows I’m not immune to either physical or behavioral, although I like to think that I acknowledge my shortcomings (being short is not one of my things) and if possible, seek to change that which is in my power. If, however, this thing is out of my control, then I try to make friends with it, accept it and embrace the glory that is I.

I have worked and therapized much to be less judgmental, to respond rather than react and to listen instead of incessantly flapping my lips for flapping sake alone. However, there is one thing that I have been unable to get a handle on, and unable to shake… until last night.

Of course I’m talking about my dry and cracked heels; fissures in my once delicate skin. Thank you for the oohs and ahs but it doesn’t hurt, really.

In all fairness to my heels, there’s been a huge improvement in the past few months. But then, just last week, they got worse. I changed up my fitness routine, and started to do Insanity Max-30, which includes quite a bit of plyometrics (jumping). If you’re pressed for time and you want your ass kicked to the curb, try it. “It may lead to heel fissures.” You’ve been warned.

I’m no P.I. but I’ve deduced that pounding my full bodyweight on my feet is the culprit, and not unfortunate genes as I had previously believed. I’m sorry that I cursed you out mom and dad.

I’m not a doctor either but I read that if my heels aren’t stretching as they should, it’s probably because my skin is dry and inflexible. Mom and dad are going down for that one, however. Super great. The only part of my body that’s inflexible are my heels. It’s so sexy I can hardly stand it.

Enter Amope Pedi Perfect Electronic Foot File. Yes, that thing that’s advertised on television. I was always intrigued but I was also too lazy to drag my cracked heels the two blocks to my local CVS to check it out… until yesterday.

Why do we wait, and put off what we know might help us; perhaps make our lives better, happier, or in my case, softer? Why do we accept what is that which we do not like?

Alcoholics say that hitting bottom was the moment they decided to get help. My bottom was when I tried to roll over in bed and as I turned, my rough and peeling heels kept scratching the sheets, preventing me from completing my rollover.

I will not continue on like this, I thought. I’m better than this. I deserve to have my heels feel like a baby’s ass.

I had my doubts about the Amope. I thought it was a gimmick. My mom told me about it months ago, singing it’s praises after she used it. I listened but thought, Who wants to use something that your 70-year old mother uses? I showed her didn’t I?

While some women spent Saturday night submerged in a bath of essential oils, surrounded by Tubereuse and Freesia Diptyque candles set up along the edges of their tub, munching on bars of dark chocolate, and imbibing a bottle of Chianti while watching Girlfriends’ Guide to Divorce, yours truly sanded down her heels while watching Terror In Mumbai on CNN. Same, no?

As I sat on the toilet lid, with my foot hovering over the garbage pail, I marveled at how eerily similar this was to sanding the two by fours in high school shop class, that eventually became a bird house at the end of the semester. The Amope also sounded like a a vibrator… Hm, I wondered. It was a Saturday night after all.

As I filed, it was like a Christmas miracle. Poof, my dry skin turned to smoke, leaving my heels as smooth as a sheet of ice.

I won’t go into the details (oops, too late) but suffice to say that I’ve got Happy Feet! Next Saturday night I think I’ll try Amope’s Electronic Nail Care System. I never did solve the natty cuticle problem; I just learned to live with it.

 

Barry White Was In My Mat Pilates Class

celebritynetworth.comBarry White was in my mat pilates class today, which is super weird because he’s been dead for 12 years. Fifteen minutes into my instruction, between the exercises, rollover and teaser, the following blared through all ten speakers in the enormous fitness room.

Oh, baby, oh, baby
(Keep on)
Come on, baby
(Keep on doin’ it, right on)
(Right on doin’ it)

You got it together
(Baby, keep on)
Oh, you got it together, baby
(Right on, keep on doin’ it)
I will get it baby, oh, I will get it
(My my baby, keep on)
I swear you got it together, baby
(Keep on, keep on)

I knew the lyrics to the song therefore I knew what was coming up, and I started to feel very self-conscious. I felt compelled to address what I perceived as the elephant in the room before I led the class in the abdominal series and leg circles.

I was certain that some of the participants laying supine on their mats with their legs spread eagle were silently (unlike Barry’s deep bellowing vocals) questioning my inclusion of Mr. White in my pilates playlist because it clearly, and most obviously, did not belong in the rotation.

What did they think? I was’t trying to set the mood, hoping that I would get laid once the class was over. Was I? The subconscious mind is a crafty one.

This particular playlist was made for the road trip that I took a month ago with my ex-boyfriend’s daughter. We wanted to expose each other to new music and I thought, hey, she should know Barry, although thinking about it now, it might have been an odd choice.

I forgot that I had included Mr. White, when I chose the playlist for class on this particular day. “Before we continue, I must say something. Yes, you are hearing Barry White, and I apologize.” As I continued to explain, the following provided the soundtrack.

I’ve got to keep you pleased in every way I can
Gonna give you all of me as much as you can stand
Make love to you right now, that’s all I want to do
I know you need it, girl and you know I need it too

You know what I needed? To stop talking. Instead, I spoke faster and incoherently. “I know it’s weird because you know what Barry songs are usually played for… I wanted you to know that I know and…”

Great, now the class thought that since I had consciously chosen to add the sexy mood music to my playlist that I was having sex, and sleeping around, and there wasn’t time to tell them about the road trip and…

Never, never gonna give you up, I’m never, ever gonna stop
Not the way I feel about you, girl, I just can’t live without you
I’m never, ever gonna quit ’cause quittin’ just ain’t my stick
I’m gonna stay right here with you and do all the thing you want me to

Thank god the class laughed at my idiocy, and neurosis or else my idiocy and neurosis would have been for naught. Now reading these lyrics again I see that Mr. White sings, “I’m never, ever gonna quit ’cause quittin’ just ain’t my stick.” Stick? What does he mean? What stick? I always thought he was saying, schtick, as in, quitting isn’t his thing, his bag, his gimmick.

I have to ask myself, why would Mr. White, the bass-baritone romancer from Galveston, Texas, and Grammy Award winning sexy soul and funk singer of raunchy lyrics use the Yiddish word, schtick, anywhere in his songs?

I’m just thankful that I didn’t sing along in class, or I would have really looked like an idiot.