Lessons in Reverse

I’m extremely tired but I made the commitment, to myself more than anything else, to write on this blog every day for the entire year I am 40 and if I don’t write the very first day it doesn’t give me much of a head start. So here I am…3:34 am, having just finished the movie Red State while munching on an enormous bag of Swedish Fish and tolerated the 100 degree heat seeping in through the walls of our house. I’m 40…and a day.

Turning 40 wasn’t nearly as strange as yesterday. Yesterday was the last day of my 30’s and I realized this about half way through my work day. I was sitting at my desk, talking to a prospective client on the phone and I thought, “holy shit…this is the last day you’ll ever be in your 30’s!”. Blindsided.

But I’m over that now. Funny how things we find so profound or important quickly pass. Now my only real concern is finding my way up the stairs to the cool of the sheets and the wind from the fan. Today has been a mundane day. I was supposed to be in Vegas for my birthday but we decided to cancel the trip and take it later in the year when we had more spending money. If you’ve kept up with my reading you already know that I was pretty undecided about what to do for my birthday, so let me fill you in on what happened.

I woke up at about 11 and rolled around in bed reading all of my Facebook birthday wishes from friends and strangers. Then, while Alex went shopping for my birthday presents, I went to get coffee. I came home, made my daily YouTube video that will accompany these posts and waited for Alex. Minutes later he came home and we opened my presents. After a brief fight, which had nothing to do with the presents, we went to the pool, only to be met by several small children and an unbelievable, summer storm. I thought I might like to do a little shopping but instead we napped…for several hours. This was no ordinary nap, but instead the kind of sleep you wake from several times and try to fall asleep quickly to return to your dream because it is so good. When we woke up it was almost 8:30. We dressed quickly and went to Cheesecake Factory. After devouring a cheeseburger we walked outside to be met another couple who are quite good friends. We sat in front of Starbucks for hours shooting the shit and by the time it was midnight, I was exhausted and ready to go home…only to get my second wind. Alex was more than willing to watch a movie since it was my birthday. I chose Red State over Play Misty for Me and enjoyed every minute of it. I took the dogs out and they are now asleep next to Alex which is exactly where I’ll be the moment after I post this post, which by now probably seems to have absolutely no point.

It has a very, very important point…and lesson.

I was bored today. Like I was really, really bored. I was really happy to be able to spend an entire day with my husband, something we rarely get to do anymore, but still…I was bored. Not sad bored…happy bored. But bored nonetheless. And do you know who’s fault that is? Mine. That’s right. I didn’t plan a damn thing for my birthday because I wanted to play it simple and not plan anything…and that’s exactly what I got…simple and unplanned. I imagine if I had gone to Vegas or planned a big party or dinner, then that is exactly what I would have done.

The point I learned, as I was constantly reminded by Alex that this was how I wanted to spend my birthday, was that we dictate the outcome of our own lives…most of the time. If we want to sit around and be lonely and bored, we can make that happen. If we want to be happy and entertained, we can make that happen too! Its all up to us. If we want to be actors, we can audition for a play, or even direct and star in our own plan and show it in a public park or our own living rooms. If we want to write a book we just need to sit down at the computer or open a pad and start writing. I really don’t care what anyone has to say because the naysayers will challenge this but it really is that easy.

Period.

And you better get this quick before you spend the rest of your life bored, lonely and bitter. Trust me…it sucks…and we’re on borrowed time as it is.

Watch my video blogging series every day that coincides with these posts! Join my journey with me over the next 364 days!
HERE is my YouTube Channel Pemovision!

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Thoughts on Turning 40…Fear and Change.

I really hate when people say they get me or they understand. They don’t. They don’t understand what I’m going through just like I can’t necessarily understand what they’ve gone through with their life experiences. It is the pivotal differences between sympathy and empathy; neither of which I want. And I desperately don’t want pity. Not about turning 40…that’s a good thing.

It just so happens that I’m turning 40, an epic age, at the exact same time I’m going through a major transition in my life. For those that don’t understand transitions please let me define. I’m not talking about leaving a relationship or quitting a job. While those are perfectly fine transitions, I’m talking about something much, much deeper.

Have you ever been driving around town, running errands, listening but not really listening to the music and all of a sudden you realize you’ve ended up somewhere you never meant to go. Maybe you completely forgot you were on your way to the grocery store. Have you ever sat on the front porch and watched the stars overhead and wandered what your life would be like if it were different. When it is different. There is a great scene in Texasville where Jeff Bridges walks in on his wife, played by Annie Potts, laying on the bed. He asks her what she’s doing and she answers, “thinking”. When he asks what she’s thinking about she explains that women think millions of things in a day and go through millions of changes in a day. Well, I don’t think this is just women…I think all of us go through similar changes. But we perfect our lives in a way that we become accustom to these changes and don’t challenge what we really want in our lives, because, we are too afraid.

In the last week, all of my friends and family have asked me on a pretty consistent basis what I want to do for my birthday and the answer is that I’m not really sure. I’ve never been a party person so I know I don’t want a party. We’ve just spent the last week celebrating Alex’s birthday at numerous birthday dinners, so I don’t really want to go out to dinner. We were supposed to go to Vegas, but have decided to wait when we can spend a little bit more money. I thought about driving to Chicago for the weekend but we were just there for a bachelorette party. I entertained the idea of renting a lakeside cabin and taking the dogs for the weekend but after processing the packing, etc I realized we have a pool here and my dad lives on a lake, so we might as well stay home. Nothing seems right for my birthday.

And then I realized the reasonp.

Celebrating my birthday this year is not a superficial surface passing. Celebrating my birthday this year is the coronation of a major transition in my life. A transition of the mind, body and spirit. I have been very sad and unhappy for some time because I have allowed myself to become someone I don’t really know anymore. And with the exception of Alex and probably two or three other friends, I don’t know that anyone else really knows the real Peter either. I put on a very good act.

The real Peter doesn’t give a fuck…but then again he does. He cares deeply about things that matter and pays very little importance to things that don’t. I’ve spent the last several years caught up in drama and ridiculousness that doesn’t matter. The real Peter tells it like it is and isn’t worried about someone’s reaction because typically, that’s what people have learned to love. The real Peter loves the smallest details in life. The real Peter does not change the radio station for anyone because people used to love his singing to country music. The real Peter loves country music…and folk music, dance music and rap. The real Peter will try almost everything once unless it may risk his life. The real Peter takes his recovery and sobriety very seriously and wouldn’t have put himself in half of the situations he’s put himself in over the last several years. The real Peter respects the sanctity of marriage and has very little respect for those that don’t. The real Peter is very opinionated. The real Peter will smoke a cigarette if he wants to smoke a cigarette…unless you kindly ask him not to smoke. The real Peter is comforted with the safety of a clean home, dogs who love him, a loyal husband and does not care for change. The real Peter is terrified by change, which is why is he so resistant to life transitions…but it’s time.

During the last week, I’ve explained to people that starting on my birthday on Friday, many things will be changing in my life. I think they are a little bewildered and unsure what this may mean and how it will affect them. Let me make this very clear…I’m not moving, leaving Alex and making any drastic changes in my surface life. It is what lies beneath that will change. And as I sit on my front porch late at night, typing at my computer in my garden office, I have outlined the next year of my life. The best year of my life…hopefully.

While talking to my best friend the other day, and I say best because she has been the one constant best in my life for the last 15 years, I asked her what she wished she had known at 40. She explained that she probably wouldn’t have spent as much time with people that wouldn’t matter to her on an intimate level later in life. We also talked about my constant need to explain myself…an art I have learned to master only in the last few years. It is these kinds of changes I will be implementing in my life, along with a laundry list of goals, hopes and dreams I will accomplish!

Please follow me over the next year as I write daily posts and do daily videos about my life and the lessons I learn, on and off the couch. Maybe you’ll learn a few things from me. And maybe, just maybe, I’ll learn a few things from you too…because we’re on borrowed time as it is!

In the Beginning…

Most of you probably don’t even know how this all began. My mother died four years ago on May 14th, 2008. I had recently separated from my partner of 8 years and left a job of almost 13 years. I was alone. I was numb. I had no direction. The only solace I found was driving down country highways with a pack of cigarettes, a cup of coffee and country music blaring on my radio. I quickly became friends with the 3rd shift employees of gas stations and grocery stores. I came home late and went to sleep with my pup Griffin snuggled at my feet. Day after day I lost clients as I canceled or forgot appointments. Quickly my business declined and my credit card debt grew. While talking to my cousin Caroline one day, she suggested I start a blog for my business to help me get more clients. “You’re a great writer”, she said, “people will be able to relate to you and they’ll want to come see you.”

I had never heard of blogging before and I didn’t really understand much about the internet. I had exited a relationship into a world of Facebook and Myspace. Youtube and dating sites. To say it simply…I was lost. Nothing made sense to me anymore. I couldn’t even figure out how to do my bills online. But I was determined to try.

One night in July, I found myself distracted while driving around and went home early. I sat down at the computer and began my blog which was originally titled Suicide Birds and Seahorses. I started to explain why I was starting the blog. Actually, it might be easier if you read my first entry. Here it is, Suicide Birds and Seahorses July 28th, 2008:

Hmmmm….where should I start…well, I guess at the beginning…I’m not even sure that I understand the purpose of this, but I know eventually it will find me. Let’s start, Halloween, 2007. Unsatisfied, unfulfilled with my life, I sat on the porch in the Smokey Mountains at 2:30 a.m. with a friend discussing that I was nearing 40, and I didn’t feel as if I knew what I was supposed to be doing, or better yet, wasn’t doing what I felt I should be doing anymore, but I didn’t even know what that was I guess. My friend, a very wise, yet unfulfilled 57 year old, sat back, stared right into my eyes and said, “Don’t wait until you’re 57 and you’re husband sits on the couch all day watching CNN news.” It was the moment in Thelma and Louise when Thelma can no longer go back, those words released me. And I could not go back. Within the next few months, I left a seven year relationship, which at times, I am unsure was the correct decision, resigned from a job I had been with for 12 years and began writing a book. And then not one book, but two and now three. Oh, did I mention I’m a recovering addict and as such, I can’t limit myself to any one thing. And then, my mother became extremely ill and was in the hospital until May 14th, when she passed away. And driving away from the hospital that night, Bob Dylan singing “Shelter From the Storm” through my speakers, a bird swooped down and dove directly in front of my car. A suicide bird, I thought. But why would they take such a risk. For the excitement, for the test, the chance that maybe they would make it to the other side and maybe they wouldn’t? Could these small creatures really be that wise. Swallow Sage? And maybe, we were all suicide birds, putting ourselves in risky situations, or taking chances to feel for one small moment that we were truly alive. And that’s how it began for me, through all this crap that has happened, although I’ve always known it served a purpose, I’ve begun my own nosedive in front of cars on the interstate late at night. It started with dedicating one year of my life to living freely, taking chances, going where I wanted to go and not being afraid to meet new people. But now I think, maybe this is the way it’s supposed to be for me. Maybe I’m not supposed to sit like a bird on a wire, waiting for winter to fly south. Maybe, I’m supposed to fly south now, or tomorrow. But nothing makes sense and everything makes sense, all at once. Suddenly. And I don’t question anymore. Or at least I try not to. Haha…I’m not that arrogant. And one thing I know, is that the magic still exists in me, and that is part of my journey, to forever stay four, wading through the creek behind our house, watching the sunlight hit the moss on the rocks, or seven, my mom and I checking out twenty books each at the library, or nine, and still now, believing that somewhere, way down beneath the still waters of St. Barts or off the coast of Tulum, live sea horses who sport bright red top hats and sing Sinatra’s “Fly Me to the Moon”…at least I hope…I hope they do…

Wow! That just made me start crying. Four years later and my life has changed so drastically. I’m in a new relationship and married. I’m living in my mother’s old condo. I have three new dogs. I have a successful practice with clients who love coming to see me and I delight in waiting to see them. I run a full service website with my husband where we interview celebrities and do social reviews. I haven’t finished a book and now I’m writing 10 instead of 3. I still drive around at night. I still get sad. I still miss my mom.

But time goes on.

I can either sit back and be sad all of the time about things I can’t change and continue to be that lost and numb person I was four years ago, or I can ebb and flow with the tides of life and enjoy what comes my way. I prefer the later.

In exactly 10 days I turn 40. I will be posting a journal entry every day on my blog and doing a video for my YouTube channel every day. When I started this project four years ago, I did it for myself. I didn’t care how many views I got or how many people commented on my posts. I did it because I loved to write and I loved to find things to write about. I think I’ve lost some of that passion. Today, I write to inspire, not to be inspired. I need to be inspired again. I need to get back on that old, dusty road and continue my adventure…because we’re on borrowed time as it is!

*I need to ask my readers for a favor! I’m trying to put together some great goals to accomplish in the next year. I’m already determined to finish writing my first book, be in the best shape I’ve ever been, pay off all of my debt and quit smoking. What are some things you think I should do? What are some books you think are important that I read? I’ve come so far in four years and accomplished so much I’d like to prove what can happen in a year. When Adele won Album of the Year at The Grammy’s she talked about the power of just one year and I agree. If I can overcome three major losses and come out on top, so can anyone else. Follow the journey with me…even make your own…because, like my mother always said, we’re on borrowed time as it is!

Please follow me here for my year long journey!
And follow my videos on YouTube HERE!

If you’d like to take a look at my old blog, Suicide Birds and Seahorses, check it out HERE!

Graduating Not Graduation

The word graduation seems so final. I prefer the term…graduating. Last weekend we spent two hours crowded 100 bleachers high in a high school gym watching Alex’s brother graduate from high school. I carefully held my Starbucks Venti 6 shot Americano in my quivering hands in fear that it would find a resting place on the head of the gentleman in front of me. If that happened, ssurely, he would become unnerved, as would his wife and mother, stirring parents and friends of graduates alike until all of us went tumbling down the bleachers ending the “perfect” graduation ceremony. Needless to say, I was quite delighted when my coffee cup was empty and I could set it quietly down on the metal step in front of me.

As I sat there, high above all of the action, I realized I actually kind of like high school graduations. The smell of eagerness and passion filled the air as well as the excitement of the last summer before adulthood. But my mind has a strange way of wavering back and forth between romantic remembrance and somber depression. Quickly, I found myself becoming quite sad realizing it had been 22 years since I myself graduated from high school. What had I achieved? Was I the person I thought I would become? Had I sold out my dreams? All of these questions went through my head as I watched this frail, young girl walk up to the podium. She seemed filled with awe and innocence, until she stated that if essays and all night studying were the best years of her life, she was hoping for better days. I laughed, almost too heartily, and realized she was right.

We spend so much time reiterating the fact that high school is the “best years of our lives”. Bull-shit! Sure I had some fun times and I wouldn’t trade them in for anything, but high school was dreadful too. If that’s the best it gets, sign me up for the grave. As I listened to her promote a life of passionate living and a hope for better days and fulfilling their dreams I realized I was pretty damn lucky. Today, I live my life in the exact manner she suggested. Not too shabby for 39 years and three hundred and fifty some days old.

But its the truth. I run a successful private practice and am blessed to say I only work with clients I adore. I own my own house. I never want for any food or practical desire. I’m married and in a seemingly happy relationship, although he could snore a little less during the night. But he still gives me butterflies when he walks in the room and laughs at my jokes even though they’re probably not funny. We run a successful website interviewing our favorite celebrities, a dream I never would have thought would have become real if I hadn’t just put pen to paper. I’m even in the process of finalizing one book of fiction and beginning a self-finding, not self-help, book. I have friends that care deeply about me…not 20, but a few and those are the ones that really matter. I eat ice cream once a week. I sit in the grass and watch the puppies play. I still get excited by lightening bugs. And I know that life will only get better from here, because I’ve dealt with worse and the worst isn’t even really that bad. Nope, the fact is I’m pretty damn blessed.

Which brings me back to my original thought. I don’t like the word graduation. Its too final. And the reality is we never reach a point of graduation because we’re always graduating to the next best thing. Once we stop and think we’ve had the best we’re ever going to have then the game is over. I’m not ready for the game to be over. I want to keep on swinging late into the night, while the concessions stands close down and the dogs run home for dinner and we’re all talking about having a sleepover and taking a night swim. I think, maybe, we never really grow up. Maybe, age is just a number. Maybe…we never graduate.

I turn 40 in almost exactly two weeks. A year ago I didn’t really think it would bother me, but the closer I get, it bothers me a lot. Maybe not for the reasons you would think, like wrinkles or the cost of living. I don’t worry about those things because there isn’t a whole hell of a lot I can do about them with the exception of Botox and loans. The reason I don’t like getting older, and turning 40 is a significant sign of this, is that I’m not ready for it to be over yet. I’m not ready to grow up. I like being a kid. In fact…I always will be.

That being said, I’ve made a few decisions this week. This blog is changing dear readers. No longer will this be a work related blog. Starting on my 40th birthday, I’ll be writing a bit of childish wisdom I learn every day for the entire year I am 40. This will coincide with my YouTube project I am starting which will be my uploading a video every day for the entire year I am 40(if you’re interested in my YouTube channel the button is on the right top). I will publish a book this year and I will accomplish everything on my wish list, which will be part of this project. So, consider this my senior year. Join me, follow me and enjoy…because we’re on borrowed time as it is…