Messy in Fabulous Shoes

Messy in Fabulous Shoes

Sunday, December 23, 2012

A Christmas Miracle

Tis the season of miracles. If I hadn't been there, I wouldn't have believed it. It hasn't happened, well, ever. This Christmas, my grandparents, parents, brother and wife, pups, niece and nephews and the love of my life gathered to celebrate the holiday.

Faithful readers know that I have struggled being out of contact with my brother for the better part of the past decade. A few months ago, he emailed me.  The emails turned into texts. The texts turned into phone calls and I saw him for the first time and met my two youngest nephews shortly after Mom came home from rehab after her big surgery. When my 3 year old nephew walked in, handed me a turkey made from a pine cone and said, "I made this for you, Aunt Messy", I was in shock. He acted like he had just seen me last Tuesday.  Truly amazing.

So I really didn't think the next event would happen - this early Christmas celebration. I was so suspicious it was real that I said we have to photograph it. So my sister-in-law (yep, finally got to meet her!) brought the camera and tripod and we now photographic proof thanks to the above family portrait.

I don't know why he reached out. I still don't know what happened to cause him not to talk to me. But what I do know, true to my word in earlier blogs, he has been accepted with open minds, open hearts and a hint of trepidation. You can't blame me for that, can you?

It has been an incredible holiday season for me so far. I have been blessed with friends, family and fun:

  • Early Christmas with the family - including Zoo Lights with brother, sister-in-law, niece and 3 nephews
  • Cookie swap with a new group of gal pals - including an early baking date with a great friend
  • Shrek the Halls with my niece, nephew and their mom
  • Dave Matthews in concert with T
  • Wonderful birthday date for my special day - and don't forget my Jimmy Choos!
  • Annual Christmas shopping and breakfast with Dad
  • Christmas with my bestie and her family, parents and aunt and uncle yesterday - including awesome Christmas ornaments made by my beautiful goddaughters and a surprise from my bestie - recipe cards written by my grandmother that she gave Mel for her bridal shower.  She copied them and gave me the originals.  Yes, of course I cried.  You would have too!
  • Still to come - Shrek the Halls and dinner double date with friends
  • National Christmas tree with T
  • Christmas day with my family
Can you believe all of this? I can't! 2012 is ending beautifully for me and I can't wait to see what 2013 holds.

Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to you and yours. I wish you health, happiness and blessings in the New Year. 

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

I CHOOse You!

Yesterday was my 39th birthday and I must admit I was not thrilled about it. Don't get me wrong, I have much in my life to be thankful for and I am - especially having another birthday! But it's hard not to reflect on the first half of your life and wonder how you got where you are, what you could have done differently, what the next half will be like. And so, I got a little melancholy.

T doesn't stand for that. He hates to see me sad and was so excited it was my birthday he sang to me at 2:00 am when he took the doggies out. Then again at 5:30. And at 7, we were up! He saw that look in my eye and said it was time to open my presents.  The first was an ornament with our picture in it to hang on our tree. I loved it - nothing better than a homemade present. Well, almost nothing...

In box #2 were the long lost loves of my life. The classic, 4 1/2" heel platform black suede Jimmy Choo pump. I almost wept with joy as I hugged them to my chest. And kissed T of course! (And then wore them all around the house with my fleece pants and pullover.)

When I first met T, he said he could never see spending that kind of cash on shoes. After all, he beats his to death. For goodness sake, think about how many golf clubs or engine parts you could get for what one pair of high-end shoes cost. And yet, he did this. He took a tape measure into my closet to try and get the size right (my closet includes shoes sized 8.5 - 9.5 so it can be very confusing) and sought expert advice (from our good friends at Saks) before taking the plunge. He did his research!

Here's the thing:  this isn't just about getting my first pair of Jimmy Choos. It's about what is behind the gift.  That we can strive to be better people because we want to deserve the love we have. That the person you love's happiness can sometimes be more important than your own. That seeing a light come on behind sad eyes because of what you have done makes it all worthwhile. These aren't just shoes. They are a symbol of a love that has grown because two people are intentional about communication, respect, kindness. They may as well be a diamond ring because these beauties are proof positive that T chose me. And I will continue to choose him everyday for the next half of my life and beyond. Happy Birthday to me!

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

How Old Is She?

Yesterday the Next Day Blinds Consultant came so that I can finally get the blinds for the bedrooms.  They all have window treatments but the blinds will complete the look of the house.  Not to mention the fact that the Golfice is the hottest room in the house because the sun just sits there in the afternoon.  The pups love it, the man does not.

So we walk through each room and she measures and writes the name of the room down, "master bedroom, Mom's room, Golfice".  And then we walk in to the Daisy room and she says, "What a bright and wonderful room!  How old is she?"

The sound you hear is my heart sinking.  And the reality is I decorated the room this way because I had always wanted a room based on the Gerber Daisy painting my friend Whitney had done for me years ago.  But I didn't say any of that.  I simply said, "5".

And I don't know why.  Somehow, it just seemed easier.  And I realize I am perfectly justified in decorating my house anyway I want.  After all, it is my house.  But seeing this room through the consultant's eyes, it just seemed sad. So I lied. And then I felt sad.

The truth is, that a 5 year old does sleep here a couple of times a year with her 8 year old sister - my Goddaughters.  And I knew they would love how girlie it is when I decorated it.  But that doesn't justify the lie.  Why is it, on the eve of my 39th birthday, I somehow feel "less than" because I'm not a mom?

My internal clock ticks loudly these days.  So loudly it seemed to drown out the truth yesterday.  In all honesty, I could have said 7 and 8 because, as you can see, Stella and Sophie love the daisy room.  And, yes, my mother would say, "You are a Mom - to Sophie and Stella."  And I am and I love them ferociously. But you and I know it isn't the same.

So if you want to stay in the girliest place in town, just let me know.  No one else is using it.  Sophie and Stella don't mind sharing.

Friday, November 30, 2012

All That Glitters...

I'm not sure when my fascination with sparkles started.  I don't remember being particularly drawn to bling as a child even though I did love my dance recital costumes (someday, maybe, I'll share pics).  And as a grown-up, of course I notice diamonds on other women's hands - always have and probably always will.  But sparkly shoes, that seems to be a new thing of mine.  And upon conducting my recent shoe inventory (yes, I know, I'm a nerd), I discovered these shiny things in my closet:

My latest addition, glitter TOMs!

Every Gal Needs Princess-Caliber Ballet Flats.

The Sequins May be Small, But they are There.  

(All the more special because of how they came into my life...)

They're Sparkly AND They're Sneakers.  What More can I say???

Now what has become glaringly obvious to me and now you, I assume is:  WHERE ARE THE SPARKLY STILETTOS???  This is an oversight of epic proportions and must be rectified immediately.  Santa, are you listening?  Might there be some new high-heeled beauties beneath the tree?  My friend Kate Spade can help!
Or the elves at D Squared have an idea:

Haven't I been good all year???

Friday, November 23, 2012

Shoe Karma

I know, I know.  I haven't written in way too long.  To be honest, the creative juices just haven't been flowing.  I'm really not sure what to attribute that to but I'm going to try and be more faithful to my blog.  And what better way than to talk about shoe karma?!

Now, I wrote about this topic earlier in the year when I talked about what superhero power I would have. As it turns out, TOMS also wants the same superpower but is actually doing something about it.  And now, in small part, so have I.  It all started in Savannah, when I saw the multi glitter TOMS in a storefront window.  My girlfriend and I were there for some quality girl time (shopping, spaing, drinking, eating) and we went in to try them on.  I was immediately in love and had to purchase.  She also got an awesome pair of wedge booties.  We walked out feeling good - we had purchased fabulous footwear AND helped a child somewhere in the world get a pair of shoes.  We are superheroes!

When my mom saw them, she immediately remarked that she wanted a pair too. (strangely, enough, Amy's Mom said the same about hers!)  So when Mom came out of the hospital after major surgery, I presented her with her very own pair of black glitter TOMS.  We all need a little sparkle in our lives!

But this is where the story gets even better.  Because I helped Amy move and decorate her new place, she bought me a present.  Yep, you guessed it, none other than the awesome flannel shearling lined TOMS I put on my shoe bucket list a few months ago!

So, let's recap.  I bought TOMS for me and for Mom.  Amy bought TOMS for herself and for me.  That means 4 pairs of shoes have been given to children in need.  I believe my shoe karma has been reversed!  You get what you give to this universe after all.  And I say, shoes for everyone!

(And for those who don't believe, let's not forget my mojo shoes that were returned to me last year thanks to my Bestie and a little thing called shoe karma.)

Friday, September 14, 2012

My (most recent) Bucket List

You may remember my bucket list boots I shared a while back.  I still haven't gotten the Jimmy Choo real deal but did indulge in a similar pair made by Charles David.  So I've been thinking about all the footwear I've yet to own and these are at the top:
  1. Flannel, Shearling lined Toms (because they are good for my feet while doing good for another)
  2. Tory Burch flip flops (no one should summer without them)
  3. Patent leather Manolo Blahnik Mary Janes in either cranberry or nude (classic)
  4. Authentic Red Cowboy Boots (I had a pair back in the day and am coveting them again)
  5. Tap Shoes (I've owned them before but want them again - even if I don't take lessons I can dance around my house)
  6. Something blue (because someday I want to walk down an aisle again)
  7. Gucci driving loafers (classic and necessary)
  8. Itty Bitty Golf Shoes (in case I am ever blessed enough to have a child of my own)
  9. ANY PAIR of Christian Louboutin (there is no need to explain)
  10. Those yet to be designed...
I'm not sure when I'll begin to tackle this list but it feels good to put it out there. What's on your bucket list?

Thursday, August 23, 2012

My First Haiku

I am lucky to be part of a really cool team at work called the Innovations Team. Inspired by one of my friends from the Academy, this team gets together monthly to use both sides of our brains as we try to identify challenges and solutions within our organization.  We rotate bringing creative exercises, check-in questions to get to know one another better and meaty substantive agenda items.  Yesterday's creative exercise totally inspired me!  Write a Haiku (5 syllables, 7 syllables, 5 syllables) inspired by customer service.  So, without further ado, my first Haiku:

A Shopper's Dream:
I MUST have those shoes!
Do you have them in my size?
Yes, at a discount!

Feel free to snap as if you are at a poetry jam as I nod my head in appreciation.

What will you do that is new and creative today?

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Perfect Pair

When I got engaged, the first thing I did (not surprising) was pick out shoes for the big day.  I found them in a magazine and got one of only 2 pairs left in the country!  White satin, 3 inch heeled Stuart Weitzman that laced up the back and had swarovski crystal embellishments.  They were even more special because my Grammie bought them for me.  I wore them around the house with white socks to break them in for the big day.

But upon arrival at the reception, I took them off to put on my second wedding shoes of the day (blue Stuart Weitzman flip flops with shoe charms) to find that my dream shoes had ruined my pedicure.  More specifically, they melted the nail polish right off.  In fact, my perfect pair of shoes didn't actually fit me.  Yet I wore them anyway.

Today would have been my seventh wedding anniversary.  But it isn't.  Because, quite frankly, the shoes weren't the only thing that didn't fit.  Divorce is a horrible thing.  As my friends who have gone through it told me, "You can never quite prepare for the way it will make you feel.  When you least expect it, it will creep up and your emotions will be a surprise."  Don't get me wrong, I know divorce was my only option.  One person cannot a marriage make.  And hindsight being 20-20, I knew walking down the aisle that this might not go as planned. But I did it anyway.  Because sometimes, we simply want what we want regardless of red flags or unintended consequences.

But the pain of a failed marriage is still real and it hurts.  Not everyday.  In fact, it has gotten easier day by day.  But I can't help remembering what it felt like to wear that dress and put on those shoes my loving Grammie bought for me.  Because I thought if I can just ignore the pain, and put a smile on my face, everything would be OK.  That turned out not to be the case.  You can't ignore the pain forever.

So now, I only buy shoes that fit.  And I got rid of all of the ones that didn't during my intervention and subsequent yard sale.  Because ignoring something doesn't mean it isn't happening.  And you can never find your perfect pair if you are stuck in the wrong shoes.  And being sad today doesn't mean I'm not still happy - it just means I'm reflecting on the past and that helps me appreciate the present so much more.  Because I've been blessed with a second chance. Not everyone can say that.  And I am grateful.

Thursday, July 26, 2012

Happy in Flip Flops

Last week, I was walking down the street in Chicago when a friend and colleague commented, "You haven't blogged much this year, Messy, have you?"  I thought about it and replied, "well, I seem to blog the most when there is stuff going on in my life - reflection, drama, etc. - so I guess I haven't blogged much because I'm..."  And he replied "happy?"

As I looked down at my flip flops, I couldn't help but think of a friend's wedding we attended a few weeks ago in San Diego.  The yacht wouldn't allow shoes so we were all given a pair of Old Navy white flip flops when we boarded.  Now this of course caused a fashion challenge for me because I normally dress from the feet up, but as I stood on that yacht with the love of my life, I didn't even notice I was wearing flip flops that looked like everyone else's (even his size 14s!).  I just felt... well, happy.

So I don't blog as much as I used to and I don't buy shoes like I used to and I'm happy.  Coincidence, perhaps?  So it is time for this reflective blogged to focus not on the past and the drama that has filled my life but on what makes me happy.  And you know I will be sharing it with you!

Sunday, July 8, 2012

You Had Me at Carlos Santana

I'm sure you will agree that one of the most romantic scenes from a movie was from Jerry Maguire. When Dorothy Boyd told Jerry Maguire, "you had me at hello", your heart melted. Not to mention when Jerry said, "you complete me." Sigh, that is why we go to the movies!

And I'm not ashamed to admit that I had a moment like this two weeks ago. I work from home or am on the road so don't get to the office very much. But when I do, I figure why not wear a pair of killer heels. What's the point of all that beauty being confined to my closet, right? So as I walked into the kitchen one morning wearing these sexy ankle wrapped, cork heeled, multi-colored stilettos I just about fell over when my boyfriend said, "You look beautiful.  Are those your Carlos Santanas?"

I'm sorry... what?!? This is a race car driving, incredible at golfing, hard working, manly man.  He doesn't read In Style or fantasy shop on How in the world did he know that? So I asked...

"You told me about them when you bought them.  Don't you remember I was on the phone?  Honey, I don't forget anything you tell me."

Seriously? Now I knew he was amazing before this moment but it just reinforced my admiration. And as I drove to work, with a smile on my face, I couldn't help but remember Dorothy and Jerry. Romantic moments don't only happen in the movies!

Friday, June 22, 2012

Brothers and Sisters

As I sat in mass with my grandparents last Sunday morning, I was touched by the brother and sister in front of me.  She was 13 and he 10 and they were arm in arm, smiling and laughing, for most of the service.  And suddenly I welled up remembering what it was like when I had a brother.  A brother who...
  • Served as my confirmation sponsor
  • Yelled at his buddy when he made a comment that I was "filling out" my eighth grade summer
  • Told me he was proud of me at both my high school and college graduations
  • Invited me to live with him summers during high school and the summer after I graduated college so we could hang and work together (I was cheap labor)
  • Asked me to help his new family settle in when they moved to St. Louis
  • Handed his son to me in the NICU when he was newly born
  • Gave me a job when I decided to move back home in 2001
When I graduated high school, my brother actually gave me one of those charms that say Best Friend and break in half.  We were close...

And now we aren't, as I've shared in an earlier blog.  He is reconnecting with my parents but has not made a move to speak to me.  I haven't seen him in 8 years.  His choice, not mine.

Have I made peace with it?  I'm not sure given the fact that watching a young brother and sister in church made me cry.  And when I hear my mother speak of him I feel a mixture of sadness and anger.  Knowing that someone you loved as much as yourself has suddenly walked away, with no reason and no goodbye, creates a constant emptiness in your heart.  It's like grieving accept they aren't dead.  Although, in a way, I guess they are to you.

But that is why the people I choose to have in my life - my boyfriend, my friends - mean even more to me.  Knowing they are there for me no matter what, even when I screw up or when they screw up, gets me through every day.  So everyday I thank God for the love of my life and my friends.  Thank you, All.  You know who you are.

Monday, June 11, 2012

Balancing Act

I know it has been way too long since I've written and I have no excuse other than I've been lacking inspiration.  Maybe that's because I haven't been shoe shopping...

No, the reality is that I've been keeping my personal life, well, personal.  Not writing about what has been going on with me.  And historically my blog has really been about what is going on - the good, the bad and the ugly.  So I think I have struggled trying to decide what to write.

Because there truly is a balance between bareing your soul and being discreet.  I like to share my story because I think it might help others (at least that's what some have told me) but I also want to honor those who don't want to be "characters" in my life story.

It's like walking in really high heels.  They sometimes look fabulous in the picture but when you put your feet into them, no matter how seasoned of a veteran you are, you may still wobble.  You have to stand tall and convicted in order to pull them off.  Actually, that's pretty true about a lot of life, isn't it?

Sunday, April 15, 2012

Flatter Me

When people think shoes and me, I think they automatically think high heels. You know, the kind that make people say, how do you walk in those? And I love heels. I love to be tall. I love the confidence that comes from wearing them - you can't slouch, you must walk with a firm step. They are sexy and strong - just like I aspire to me. (Not to mention they come in handy when kissing a certain 6'2" handsome gentleman...)

But lately, I've been drawn to flats. Why can't I be sexy and strong in those too? Let's face it, I spend a lot of time in airports and walking around conferences. And I'm ready to admit it - 4" heels aren't always comfortable. So this spring, you will seen a flatter me (get it? I love a good pun!) I'm going to come down out of the clouds and embrace some cute and sassy comfort. Like these turquoise beauties with the lime green lining. Don't they just make you want to kick up your step? And I'll be able to kick it a lot longer than in my favorite stilettos.

I do wonder if people will still comment on my ballet slipper look as much as the highest of platforms. I guess this will be a sociological experiment of sorts. (OK, that may be a bit of a stretch.) But, more importantly, I wonder how that 6'2" handsome gentleman will feel about me standing on my tip-toes for a smooch... One thing is for certain - I can't wait to find out!

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

A Seinfeld Moment

So we had a MEGA garage sale last week. So big that one woman actually bought 80 articles of clothing. Yep, 8-0. Not only did I clean out my closets, but there was a lot my mom contributed, as well as some "stuff" left behind when my life changed in 2009. You name it, we had it to sell. Including, as I shared in my last post, shoes...

So we have discussed, ad nauseam, how difficult it can be for me to part with my footwear. But I continue to do it because there is no point in keeping what I can't wear. Actually, while my garage sale was going on I also had an eBay sale happening for some shoes that were higher end. (Can you say "make money money?!")

I can tell you stories of my life based on what shoes I was wearing (obviously) so imagine my horror when a group of non-English speaking women came by, starting trying on my shoes, speaking their native tongue and... LAUGHING! Were they laughing at me? Were they calling me names based on all my stilettos? What were they saying? I felt like Elaine at the manicurist!

I was tempted to grab my shoes away from them and reassure them (my shoes) they are all special in their unique ways. I know, I just about lost it. But I didn't! I regained my composure and decided maybe stilettos aren't for everyone who frequents garage sales. I later sold a few pairs anyway. Besides, I don't buy my shoes for other people, I buy them because they make me happy. So no, I won't be asking Frank Costanza, to come to my next sale. Besides, could they have been saying anything worse than what I have heard a thousand times - How in the world do you walk in those?!?!

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Self-Imposed Intervention

Remember the intervention my friend Zeus had with me last year? Well, I have just embarked on a self-imposed intervention. Yep, I raided my closet once again and am getting rid of another 20 pairs of shoes. Can you believe it??? Despite the absolute visceral reaction I had while clearing them out, I am persisting. I have a pile for eBay and the rest will be available at my mega-garage sale next weekend.

Let's face it. It isn't realistic to own shoes I can only wear for an hour. Nor is it realistic to hold on to shoes that give me blisters. After last year's intervention, I said if I didn't wear them the following year I would commit to getting rid of them and I am keeping that promise.

So if you wear a size 8, 8 1/2 or 9, you may want to pop by the last weekend in March. EVERYTHING MUST GO!!! Or for higher end finds, check out my eBay store. Yep, I am using my own blog for shameless self-promotion. Wouldn't you?

And to answer your question, this DOES mean I have a shopping list for future purchases :) Happy Spring Cleaning to you all!

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Flying Solo

Recently, I had a first. I flew to Portland, OR (new state for me) and back in less than 48 hours to facilitate a board retreat. And no, that's not the first I mean. I went on this excursion with only the shoes on my feet. Yep, no shoes in my suitcase. That's Thursday, Friday AND Saturday spent in the same footwear.

Why, you are probably asking yourself, would I do this? Well, quite frankly, I discovered the perfect shoe for facilitating AND airline travel. Yep, these black Pumas are comfortable and look great whether wearing yoga pants on a plane or business casual at a meeting. And after 3 days, I still love them and want to put them on my feet. I can't believe it! I may finally have a "go to" shoe. Should I buy them in every color and two of each just in case they wear thin?

Saturday, March 3, 2012

My Commandments

The next step in my Happiness Project is to write my commandments. After much deliberation (and because I attended 16 years of Catholic school), I came up with ten:

1. Be Melissa.
2. I have to take care of me before I can take care of anyone else.
3. Everything happens for a reason.
4. Patience is a discipline.
5. It is OK to ask for help.
6. Let it go.
7. Change your hair, change your life.
8. Focus on now.
9. What if does not exist.
10. I deserve to be happy.

I'm not carving them in stone because they may evolve but I think this sums it up. I'm also not sure I truly believe them all but that takes faith, doesn't it? I'm a work in progress!

Friday, March 2, 2012

An Atmosphere of Growth

As my Happiness Project continues, I am on the last question before my next phase begins. Do you have sources of an atmosphere of growth? In what elements of your life do you find progress, learning, challenge, improvement and increased mastery?

I love this question! Finishing our Leadership Academy in 2010, I was inspired to continue my professional development and am currently enrolled in a governance certification series as well as the Certified Aging Services Professional certificate program. I'm always looking for ways to grow in my career.

Yesterday, I started exercising again (finally). It is an area I struggle with so I am taking one day at a time and celebrating the little victories along the way to keep myself on track.

I just enrolled in an online Italian course as well. Having studied the language in college, I've always wanted to get back to it so when a girlfriend told me she is getting married in Rome I thought, why not now?

In my relationship, I'm continuously trying to grow as a person. Trusting, listening, supporting, choosing happiness. And each day it becomes more of a way of life than a challenge.

Last Christmas I challenged my inner Grammie and created a scrapbook. I mean the real deal! Including aimlessly wandering the aisles of Michael's, feeling completely overwhelmed and getting glitter everywhere. But it was one of the best Christmas presents I've ever given and I will continue to fill the pages as the memories are made.

Wow, this post makes me really happy! I always was a good student and guess I continue to be as I mature. I wonder what I will learn next!

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Feeling Right

As I continue my Happiness Project, the next questions to reflect on are: Is there any way in which you don't feel right about your life? Do you wish you could change your job, city, family situation, or other circumstances? Are you living up to your expectations for yourself? Does your life reflect your values?

Now THAT is a BIG series of questions! I wouldn't say there is a way I don't feel right about my life but there are obviously areas for improvement or I wouldn't be starting this journey. You should ask me next week if I wish I could change my job. I do wish I could understand my family (and specifically some members) better. I wish there wasn't the rift that exists between my brother and me. I wish people in my family could be kinder and value one another more, but there is a reason you pick your friends and not your family, right?

I don't know that wish is the right word but I do hope I will still have the opportunity to be a mom. It has always been a dream of mine and one I haven't completely given up on despite my rising age. I do wish I could live a life without secrets... one that means being open and honest in all relationships.

I am not sure what expectations I ever had for myself at age 38 other than being a wife, mother, successful professional, good friend and daughter. Well, 60% isn't bad, is it? Seriously, though, career is (obviously) extremely important to me and I am happy where I am thus far. I do feel that I am good to my family and friends although should probably poll them for their perspective. And I am now positive that the right relationship is more important than being able to say I am married. And I have also learned that having that right relationship is the most important foundation for parenting.

And lastly, does my life reflect my values? Two years ago I would have had to say no. But today, I believe for the most part it does. Having said that, I need to spend some time thinking about my values...

How about you?

And The Oscar Goes To...

Oscar night is one of my favorite nights of the year. The red carpet, the glitz, the glamour, even the awful speeches! And this year I was more excited than normal. So excited that even Stella and Sophie dressed for the occasion.

As I poured my glass of champagne and settled in to watch the red carpet, I suddenly thought what a difference a year makes. Last year, as I poured my glass of champagne one phone call brought my world crashing down around me. A call that informed me that my marriage had indeed been a sham. And learning this, while searching for my missing ex-husband, was a lot to process and almost beyond imaginable. (He was later found unscathed.)

But here I am, a year later, happier and more peaceful than I can ever remember being. So much so that people are commenting to that effect. Last year, I spent the night in denial, in hysterics, in what-ifs... you know the drill. This year, I toasted the night, giggled at my glamour pups and indulged in shrimp cocktail and scallops wrapped in bacon. I went to bed wrapped in love, not in fear as I had last year.

A friend told me you don't realize the depths of the sadness a divorce brings until you are through it. And I now realize how true that is. It is only since I have had closure and been able to move on that I now realize survival mode kept me moving a lot of the time. And now, I am enjoying exploring who I am post-divorce. Second chances do happen. And I am so blessed and thankful to have received mine. (Now I just hope George has a second chance at an Oscar!)

Thursday, February 23, 2012

What Makes You Feel Bad?

So today's Happiness Project question is What makes you feel bad? What are sources of anger, irritation, boredom, frustration, or anxiety in your life? I hope this is a tougher list to come up with than the what makes you feel good list!
  • Being stuck in any type of limbo
  • Not being a mom
  • People who are totally self-consumed or just don't "get it"
  • My mental block about exercising
  • Sometimes drinking too much
  • The people I love realizing I'm not as special as they think
  • Stella's chronic illness and not being able to help her
  • Home invasion
  • Family drama
  • Any type of bigotry (It is 2012 for goodness sake - let it go!)
  • Spending what I don't have because it gives me instant gratification
  • Letting the people I love down
  • Self-loathing (I am way too hard on myself and get stuck in my head a fair amount)
  • Not having financial or emotional security
  • Death
  • Lies
  • Nightmares
  • Having to own up to this list!
Now this, too, is an extensive list and makes my chest constrict just writing it. What makes you feel bad?

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

What Makes You Feel Good?

As I mentioned yesterday, I am embarking on my own Happiness Project. Step one is to define what activities you find fun, satisfying or energizing. In other words, what makes you feel good? Here's what activities make me feel good (in no particular order):
  • Being in love
  • Long walks around the neighborhood with the dogs
  • Going to the theater or concerts
  • Shopping (even beyond shoes)
  • Reading
  • Movies
  • Cooking (can you believe it???) - and more specifically, cooking for people who like to eat
  • Baking (same as above)
  • Riding on the back of a Harley
  • Facilitating and helping members problem solve
  • Taking naps
  • Golf (when I'm not stressed out)
  • Staycation and vacation
  • Spending time with my girlfriends and/or their kids
  • Anything with Fun People
  • Theater Club
  • Monthly calls with my Leadership team (Zengo)
  • Sharing a meal and/or going to church with my grandparents
  • Doing something different with my parents (other than the same old stuff...)
  • Blogging
  • Making a house a home
  • Eating a great meal and drinking a great glass of wine (or 2)
  • Making people laugh
Wow! That's a pretty extensive list. I had no idea there were so many things I liked to do.

What makes you feel good?

Monday, February 20, 2012

My Happiness Project

I just finished reading the book The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. For the last couple of years, I wanted to pick it up every time I saw it in a bookstore but since every book I own is from my Mom (and there are shelves and shelves yet to be read), I hadn't purchased it. Until I finished the book I was reading from DC to CLT and needed something else from CLT to MIA.

The book outlines Gretchen's 12 month happiness project but recognizes that everyone's happiness project will be different. As soon as I started reading it, I was taking notes and I'm now ready to start my own. She claims she was happier after completing hers, so I hope for the same outcome. I also hope my happiness will cause others around me to be happier too.

I hope you don't mind, but I am going to chronicle my project here. And since shoes alone can't make me happy, not every post will include footwear. I'd also like to challenge you to start your own happiness project. You never know where the journey will take you!

Sunday, February 12, 2012

Letting Go

A year ago, my girlfriend Alexis came to town and helped me let go of a gazillion pairs of shoes I wasn't wearing. (Can anyone forget the Shoe Intervention?) And she inspired me to go through my clothes and purses as well, resulting in a nice little eBay business and donations to the Salvation Army.

Last year I also let go of the name I had carried for 6 years, reclaiming my maiden name. With the help of an incredibly special person, I finally tackled all of the stuff in the basement that belonged to my ex-husband. Just like the TLC show Clean Sweep, we divided into give away, trash and yard sale piles.

And then my Mom had to clean out my Grandfather's house after we let go of my Uncle Johnny too soon last year. She used the Clean Sweep method as well and my basement is full of stuff for a March yard sale. At this point, I'm ready to say everything is $1 (my yard sale partner won't, though) and whatever doesn't go Purple Heart will pick up the next day. That sale will help me let go of some financial stress for sure.

I've also been working on letting go of emotional baggage. I'm trying not to live my life by an imaginary timeline even though I feel that biological clock ticking. I continue to try and let go of judging how other people choose to live their lives... even when their decisions indirectly affect me. And everyday, I try to let go of self-doubt and mistrust. In the past, I was betrayed but that isn't happening right now so I can't live my life waiting for the other shoe to drop (forgive the pun!).

The benefits of letting go? You open your heart, life and closet to new feelings, experiences and shoes. I feel a little more confident each day. I continue to grow my hopes for the future. And as I head to shoe mecca in NYC tomorrow, you never know what new footwear will enter my life.

None of this would be possible without the incredible blessings I have in my life... namely my family and friends. I am grateful everyday for them.

So I must ask, what are you going to let go of starting today? And what gifts will you get as a result?

Saturday, January 28, 2012

What Drives You?

I am not a person who likes to drive. Driving too much in one day requires a nap when I am through. I get tired as a passenger. I'm a horrible road trip partner.

This is not a good trait when you travel for a living. Luckily, most of my travel requires plane tickets instead of driving any distances. (Note I am also asleep before take-off.)

But I think I could turn over a new leaf if I was wearing the new Manolo Blahnik driving loafers. I would never tire of wearing these red (or navy or green, etc.) suede beauties with the pink lining. So if I only wear them while driving... A+B=C, right?

Maybe not, but I think it is worth a try, don't you?

Sunday, January 22, 2012

It's a Bird, It's a Plane, It's... Shallow Gal?

I attended a board retreat last week that started with "speed networking". You were given 4 questions to ask and answer as you went around the room meeting people. One of the questions was, if you were a superhero and could have any superpower you wanted, what would it be? Now, remember, you only had 30 seconds to think of an answer. So think of yours right now. What would it be? And you can't change it!

I said I would be invisible. Basically, so I would always know what was going on around me. The first person I spoke to said he would be able to teleport. Great! We are on the same wavelength. I was feeling pretty good about my choice.

And then I met Michael. Michael said, "I would rid the world of all disease." Seriously? That's what you come up with in 30 seconds??? I'm not saying it isn't totally admirable but what superhero are you basing it on? Am I really that shallow? "Of course", I responded, "well since I am invisible, I can steal all the research you need to help rid the world of disease." Aren't I helpful?

But the more I thought about it, the more shallow I felt so I responded the way any self-respecting cynic would. I shot holes in his superpower. "You know, if you rid the world of all disease, we would have overpopulation and that would result in new problems." Who am I???

I met another teleporter and then a guy who would cure Dementia. And a woman who would make sure all families had all their basic needs met. And a guy who would end starvation in third world countries. Are you kidding me??? What happened to wanting to fly or turn yourself into anything?

And to add insult to injury, someone said they were surprised I wouldn't have asked for all the shoes in the world. OK, first of all, that isn't a superpower. I could ask Santa for that. Second of all, I work for a nonprofit too! Don't I have even the slightest image of wanting to do good in the world?

To add insult to injury, I was wearing my simple, 10 year old Kenneth Cole black patent loafers. And as I walked through ATL, I realized they had given me a blister. Was this shoe karma? Was the universe trying to tell me something? Fine. I'd like to change my response. If I could have any superpower in the world, I would make sure everyone in the world had comfortable, functional, stylish shoes.

Now, what would you call me?

Saturday, January 14, 2012

Good Dog (Mom)

"She is perfect. Whatever you are doing keep doing." Music to a dog mom's ears! That's what Dr. Dove said about Sophie yesterday at her annual check-up.

And then he met Stella. Stella, has challenges. Specifically we've been dealing with a skin issue for 4 years. First we went to her primary vet and they couldn't solve the problem. Then she was allergy tested (she doesn't have any) and treated with different recipes of antibiotics by a dermatologist for 2 years. Being on antibiotics for that long can't be good for any body so we decided, after recommendations from other Frenchie families, to go the holistic route. So for two years, she has been on different cocktails of Chinese herbs. (You know you are going an alternative therapy route when the first question the vet asks is, "if Stella had a profession, what profession would it be?" That's simple - banker.)

And 2011 was the year of severe bladder infections for Stelly. Remember the formal affair that wasn't? That included multiple cultures, three weeks on antibiotics, three weeks off, a trip to an internist for a full work-up (good news, her internal organs are perfect), etc. We thought we had kicked it in November for it only to return in December. And none of these treatments are free... as a matter of fact, Stella is basically a car payment a month. So again, we are so thankful for our Grandaddy's generosity! Thus we ended up with Dr. Dove, renowned bulldog specialist, as our last resort.

He also can't figure out what exactly is wrong with her (Dr. Kocen, our holistic vet, said Stella is a zebra in a pack of horses) but prescribed a new course: steroids, antibiotics and potty breaks every 4 hours. What? Yep, every 4 hours including overnight. I was tired just thinking about it. And Stella doesn't wake up easily so I didn't think she would be thrilled either...

So last night, as I turned in, I set my alarm for 1 a.m., 5 a.m. and 9 a.m. Turned out I only need the first alarm because after our first trip outside, I didn't go back to sleep. The good news is, Stella leaped from the crate each time because she needed to go. The bad news is she and Sophie are now sleeping contentedly on the couch while I am trying to stay awake drinking coffee at the computer.

Thankfully my parents gave me great pajamas for Christmas so I'm perfectly dressed for the walks. And the best footwear for taking your dog out in the freezing cold middle of the night? Why, Uggs, of course!

So my question for you, is this good training for potentially being a human mom someday? I asked a special someone that very question and was basically told 4 hours of sleep at a time is a luxury. Oh well, I'm going to maintain the attitude that this is good mom behavior. Regardless, Stella's worth it. But I pray that Dr. Dove can figure out what is wrong with her and get her better. Will you please pray too?

Friday, January 13, 2012

"I Expect More From You"

Recently I went to my office (I am remote so go in as needed) and a colleague commented on my choice of footwear - "I expect more from you." I was shocked! My patent leather pointy toe kitten heel Calvin Klein's are classic. Shouldn't every shoe guru own a pair such as these? They are perfect with a skirt or a suit. Are my normal choices so "out there" that she didn't anticipate seeing me in a classic? Or is this more of a reflection on her fashion naivete? What do you think?

Friday, January 6, 2012

Gotta Dance!

My mother put me in dance class before I was 4. Tap and ballet and I took to it like a fish takes to water. As I got older, I joined a competitive line and expanded into jazz, production and novelty routines. At its height, we were traveling to compete and our weekend long recital included up to 9 routines in 5 performances. My mom recently gave me the videos of those performances and I don't know how she sat through those 3+ hour recitals. Talk about dreadful! I mean, it is one thing to watch your own kid dance but to watch relative strangers? She definitely deserves some type of medal of honor for that!

In my mid-teens I dropped out of dance. Decided I'd rather focus on high school and ended up being a cheerleader for a year. Got kicked off because I didn't like having my back to the game but that is a story for another blog...

I've always loved any type of live theater so was psyched when my Theater Club went to see Billy Elliott last week at the Kennedy Center. And as we walked out, I knew it was time to pick up my tap shoes again. Imagine my delight the next day when I went to tea for my grandmother's birthday to find out that one of my "aunts" taps! So I'm going to start looking for lessons and one of my girlfriends said she would join me. Because watching tap dancing on stage made me happy so I imagine dancing myself will make me even happier! But don't alert Broadway yet!