What Chicago Means to Me

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Heading into 15 years living, learning, and loving in Chicago.  I moved to Chicago July 19, 2000, what?  Where did time go?  What have the last 14 years meant to me?  When I graduated from Michigan State it was pretty much a foregone conclusion that I was moving here.  Though I did not know anyone in the city, my parents helped me pack up the van and leave 10330 Lloy St. for the last time.  What I know for sure is that I was raised in Portage, Michigan, but I GREW UP in Chicago.

I can only imagine the horror my mother, in particular, must have felt dropping me off at my apartment on Kenmore and Montrose, in “North” Wrigleyville as I called it.  I’ve been mocked for years about that one, but who wanted to live in Uptown?  I was a 24-year-old, Wrigleyville should have been my home.  Haha.  Though the neighborhood is way more cleaned up now, it still needs more and back then, it needed a lot.  There were homeless guys lying around and certainly the Target, et al. were not there to spruce up the streets.  I didn’t want to display my fear, so I stayed as strong as a 24-year-old boy could, shaking in his boots.  I knew no one and I didn’t know what to do with my time.  My second day some drugged up woman got into my building and came to my door asking for money or drugs.  I had to shove her out and lock the door.  I stayed for 4 days and called my mom crying.  She told me to come home for a few days, which turned into two or three weeks.  What I know now, 14 years later, is that I could have gone to a bar and sat there for dinner and drinks.  I could have gotten out of the apartment and gone for a roller blade down the lake(yes, I still had roller blades then).  However, I didn’t have the confidence.  What do you do when you are alone, in a city where you know no one, and you have four weeks until work starts?  Ah, to do it all over again, I would have stayed.  Speaking of staying, I told my mother I would stay in Chicago for a year and see how things go.  I have a sneaking suspicion she knew I wouldn’t return to Michigan.  The big city is for me.  Chicago is where I grew up!

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Here’s to 15 years in Chicago with 15 classic, not necessarily classy, times.

TOBs (The OB’s) sorority we created and follow-up initiation ceremony of our ‘Lils.

THE Friendsgiving at Amanda, Jess and Shayna’s – making friends, losing friends, and Sure-Thing Schuering’s bedroom conversations – oh you remember, THAT one!

“Youhoo” dinner at Lucia’s with 15+ bottles of wine, Cary, Charlie, Carrie, Diane and Patty.  “Youhoo” who’s taking me home tonight?”

Leaving Starlight Express at intermission to race home to Lesley’s apartment for the show Paradise Hotel.  “Yahtzee game on!”

The “Pretty Woman” moment waking up in a hotel room downtown, by myself, opening the curtains and realizing I was at the Swissotel.

TheView (Forever known as “The View” photo.)

Wicked Keggers dancing out of closets (and from under tables) to “Last Dance”, keg stands, and flip cup!

The NSync concert and stalking Joey Fatone –  I think I lived in my new Lincoln Park apartment for only a few days.  I’d just met my roommate Laura. The night started by going to Soldier Field for the NSync concert with Amanda, Jess, and Deana.  Following, we got “word” where the boys would be hanging out.  One of the places, Kustom Night Club, was mere feet away from our apartment.  We (Laura, neighbor Julie, and I)loaded into Julie’s car and we went on a hunt.  Zipping through the streets, on Armitage, off Armitage.  On Clybourn, off, Clybourn.  We parked the car, then drove again.  We sat in an ally until we saw the black SUV pull up.  This is it!  It seemed after all the twists, turns, and alleys that we were a distance away from our apartment.  Julie parked the car again and we hustled to the club.  It’s weird to me that we got right in, but we did.  We got drinks and waited, waited some more, ordered more drinks and waited longer.  Finally, AHHHHHHHHHHH, they arrived, at least that was the buzz in the bar.  “OMG, I’m going to meet Justin.  OMG!”   Imagine all of our dismay when Joey Fatone walked by to the VIP lounge and brushed up against Laura arm.  She was sort of excited and pissed at the same time.  “OMG, he graced my arm.  Why did it have to be Joey?  Who likes Joey?”  As we left, someone said, “I feel like we are right around the corner from our apartment.”  Shortly thereafter, we got to the car and drove approximately 1000 feet back to our apartment.

Market Days 2009 positioning ourselves at Mini Bar both Saturday and Sunday (wash, rinse, repeat) for hours drinking vodka lemonades, meeting the boys from Atlanta, and yes, dancing the night away at Charlie’s.

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My Hollywood Night!  The Scene:  August night, post kickball game, Kit Kat Club, “Dreamgirls” playing, drag queen performing – Dennis and me in our super cute “After School Specials” short red shorts uniforms and a few martinis deep….we enter Kit Kat and as if the spotlight of a Broadway show turned to us we immediately go into Dreamgirls performance mode.  We sashayed up and down the bar, full crowd cheering us on as the drag queen was in the back room performing her heart out.  The song ends, Dennis and I take a Dreamgirls pose (I’m obviously Beyoncé), and the crowd of people at the tables roar with cheers, they are on their feet yelling and screaming and clapping.  The drag queen is on her way back up to the front ready to claw our eyes out.  The bartender jumps over the bar and pushed Dennis and me out of the bar, “Get outta here, SHE PISSED!”  Best, best, best moment EVER!

My 30th Birthday/Coming Out Party!  The amazing, “Is It Gay In Here or Is It Just Me?” night ended with Dennis and me trying to find Charlie’s dance club, which we had been to countless times.  “Dennis?”

“Yes, Matty.”

“Are we at Lake Shore Drive?”

“Yes Matty, we are.  How did that happen?”

This Night!

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The Running of the Bulls Halloween!  Hands down, the best!

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My first night ever out in Boystown, the “ah ha” moment of being in a bar with all men-what a “right” feeling and what a debaucherous night.

Completing my first Chicago Marathon in 2011.  Truly the best day of my life!

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Hitting on myself at Charlie’s at 4 a.m.  I blame the sangria from Ba Ba Reeba.  So what happened is that we  had to wait close to two hours for our table.  As we proceeded to drink more and more, the night got fuzzy.  Some of us ended up at Charlie’s dance club around 2 a.m.  In hindsight I should have left with my friends, but I stayed.  Good thing I did because I met a guy that night.  The scene:  hot sultry August night, smoky dance floor, 4 a.m., boys sweating and dancing everywhere, and I saw him.  We made eye contact from across the dance floor, through the smoke, and started to approach each other in slow motion.  As I got closer to him, he got closer to me.  As I smiled, he smiled.  “This is it,” I thought.  As I reached for his hand, he reached for me……then I ran into the mirror!  I RAN INTO THE FUCKING MIRROR!  I hit on MYSELF!  MYSELF!!!!

What I Know For Sure

The last 14 years have flown by like a flash and mostly been one hell of a ride.  When I moved to Chicago at age 24 to start my career, I did not know what to expect, and actually thought I might move back to Michigan.  Right!  After meeting friends of a lifetime, living into the gay man I am, falling in love with this city, and growing up, I now call Chicago home.  What I know for sure is that life is a roller coaster, friends come and go, but they are always in my heart. Relationships start and end and new ones begin, but if we make it to the end of each day, “The Sun will rise tomorrow.”  We are all dealing with our own stuff on a daily basis, but as friends and humans, we are here to support each other.  Some days are great and some not as great, but when I sit back and reflect, I know, I have a damn good life filled with amazing accomplishments, amazing adventures, and amazing relationships.  In this moment, right now, 15 years after moving to Chicago, I couldn’t be happier.  Thank you Chicago for helping me grow up and Say YES to LIFE!

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Single Season

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I recently read this amazing blog post by # called “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other.”  Over the last couple of weeks I have talked about this blog with friends and acquaintances.  Many of them have said, “Oh, I’ve heard about this.”  It is well worth a read, so take a few minutes now if you haven’t already.  What she writes about is worth sharing.  We as single people may not be where we want to be in our lives, or where we envisioned ourselves, but we have it pretty good.  We have some freedoms that married folk don’t.  We have some freedoms that parents don’t.  Rather than looking at it as a burden to be single, or something to be sad about, let’s choose to look at it as an opportunity to Say YES to Life! and live the hell out of this season.

I’ve lived the better part of my 37 years being single.  Granted, 26 of those years were spent trying to figure out who the hell I wanted to date.  Good Lord!  Once that got all settled, I spent the next nine years living it up, going to bars with friends, dating, getting graduate degrees, traveling, thinking it would be awesome to have a kid, realizing it would not be awesome to have a kid, and then finally finding that guy, the one I would call “boyfriend.”  Those years were fun, but certainly not what I was looking for, for the rest of my life.  The year plus with my ex was amazing and I thought it was everything I wanted out of life.  AT LONG LAST, I wasn’t SINGLE.  Honestly, in my head, just not being single and having a “boyfriend” was probably more significant than the actual relationship.  He couldn’t give me his heart.  He couldn’t say, “I love you.”  That is what I’m looking for, a guy who can accept emotion from me and give it back to me.

“You’ve been so unavailable/Now sadly I know why/Your heart is unobtainable/Even though Lord knows you kept mine.”

                                   –Sam Smith, “I’m Not The Only One” from In the Lonely Hour

(Check out Sam Smith’s album, In the Lonely Hour, and be amazed.  Not since Adele have lyrics been so real.)

Before my ex, I had convinced myself that I was content being single.  How many times did I tell myself, “I’d rather be single than with the wrong guy.”  I can tell you, hundreds of times that phrase went through my head.  And yes, if I’m single the rest of my life, I will be okay.  However, after experiencing a consistent, fun, and worthwhile dating relationship, the reality is that I want to be with a partner.  I do not want to be single.  Who does?  As is written in “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other,”    being single does not mean that we have to wait to be partnered before we can start our lives.  This is a season.  We may not be where we want to be, but this is an opportunity to live our lives freely until or if a partner should ever join us.

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“Being single is an opportunity, even if it’s not one you choose. Spend it.”  I love this quote from the blog post by #.  Yes, thank you for acknowledging that this is not what I chose.  I don’t like it, but I can take this time and opportunity and “spend it.”  And this too, “don’t wish away this season just because it doesn’t look the way you thought it would.”  What a constant reminder that I have a good life.  I am doing things with my singledom that are pretty amazing.

What has this Single Season afforded me?

Amazing Friendships:

Sarah, Dave, Michael, Patrick, Ronald, to name a few, have come in, or back into my life during this season.  This is like my Oscar speech because there are SO many more people who the above have introduced me to who have become amazing parts of my life too.  I probably could name about 50 new or returning people to my life during the past year.  If anything has come of this time, I know that I am blessed to have these friends in my life.  These are the people who reach out and ask, “Want to go grab a beer?”  “Want to grab brunch?”  “Want to go to a movie?”  “Want to go for a run?”  This season may not be where any of us want to be, but we have the freedom and choice to do whatever we want, when we want, and how we want.  That’s pretty cool.

I have not written off my married friends, though most of them have fled to the burbs with kids.  That’s not to say we can’t still hang out.  As is written in the blog post, “You Are Significant With or Without a Significant Other,” single people can still add significance to married people and vice versa.  “Don’t miss out on friendships with amazing people because they’re single and their rhythm of life is different from yours.  And don’t assume that because someone’s single, they don’t want to hang out with married people, or people with kids.”  This is true.  I love my married friends and I love their kids.  The best part of hanging out is that I get to see my friends, play with their kids, and the kids stay with them and I get to go back to the city.  I joke, but some of the friends I have who are married have been the longest friendships here in Chicago.  Though our lives have changed since we were all 24, single and living in the city, I love them all and wish I could see them more. So yes, my single friends from 14 years ago are mostly married with children and though our lives are admittedly different, it doesn’t mean I don’t want to be involved with them.  They add significance to my life too.

This Blog:

Finally, after a year of being sad, I made it through the fog and found my voice.  I’m only 5 posts (almost 6) into this adventure of blogging, but it feels good.  It feels good to write and create and express my emotions.  This blog is about taking my power back.  Taking back the power to be happy.  It is a choice and I’m choosing to find the good things in life, whether I’m single or not.

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Being single may not be where any of us want to be right now, but we have a choice to be cheerful and happy and free to do whatever we want.  I recently said to my friend Patrick, who is headed on his first solo trip, that traveling alone is amazing because it opens us up to new experiences we would not often open ourselves up to in the comforts of our own world.  On my solo trips in Thailand and Peru I met so many people I would have otherwise not, because I was single.  When we’re alone we are more willing to approach people and they more willing to approach us.  In Peru I had one of the best conversations about world travel with an older single woman who saw I was alone and asked to eat dinner with me.  That took balls, but you know what, if I was with someone, she and I would never have had that conversation.  We would have never shared our stories of the majesty that is Machu Picchu.  On the flip side, there were a few times in Thailand that I was staying at fantastic hotels and I wished I had a partner with me to experience the grandeur.  During this conversation with friends Patrick and Sarah I said, “I really want to go to Greece, but I think it is a trip to do with a partner.  Maybe a honeymoon trip?”  Wisely Sarah said, “You could die tomorrow.  If you want to go, go.  If you want to go next summer, start planning.  If you want to go for your 40th, do it.  Invite friends and the people who can and want to come will come.  Don’t wait for a honeymoon or a boyfriend.  Life could end tomorrow.  We are single now and we can go now.”  YES!  This is about Saying YES to LIFE!  Whatever makes you happy, do it.  If it is owning a nice knife, buy it now.  Do not wait for a wedding.  If it is travel, do not wait around for someone else. Do it now.  Do it for yourself because you are fabulous, free, and ready to live your life, NOW!  Forty is just over two years away.  Start saving your money because we are headed to Greece, ya’ll!

“Being single used to mean that nobody wanted you. Now it means you’re pretty sexy and you’re taking your time deciding how you want your life to be and who you want to spend it with.” 

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To my single friends:  Hold on for the ride.  Embrace your singledom and live your life.  Remember, Single is not a status, it is a word that describes a person who is strong enough to live and enjoy life without depending on others.”

How are you Saying YES to LIFE?

Single? You don’t have to be alone.

“Saying YES to Life! is exhausting,” I texted my friend Amanda Monday morning.  Two hours later I was in the Emergency Room with symptoms of a stroke or aneurysm.

Monday started out pretty normal, except for the fact that I was exhausted.  The prior day I went on a wine walk with friends, tasting 33 various wines, and enjoying the company of some really great people in my life.  When I went to bed I probably slept 2-3 hours due to, surely the wine, and stress, and the like.  I woke up Monday with a typical May feeling of sinus pressure in my head.  I didn’t think a thing about it.  At work, about 8:30 a.m. I started to have auras on the screen of my computer and my eyes became blurry.  This moved to flashing lights on either side of my head, in my peripheral vision about 45 minutes later.  I continued to try to work, but it was difficult.  I thought migraine headache, but I had no headache, just pressure over my left eye and side of head.  Soon after 10 a.m. I noticed that I was trying to type an email and spelling the word “serious” became so difficult that I had to stop.  Shortly thereafter a student was in my office and I was trying to tell him that he could not take the class “Master Singers” because it conflicted with his Chinese class.  I could not speak.  I tried, but just jumbles of words came out.  He looked at me, “I can’t understand you.  What are you saying?”  He was scared.  I was scared.  I stood up and told him he had to leave and that I would call him in another time.  I rushed to the nurse’s office.  After describing my symptoms, all of which had subsided, she took me to the emergency room at the hospital across the street.

Within five minutes I was admitted.  Within 10 I had an IV, seven vials of blood drawn, and wires hooked up to all parts of my body.  My initial thought was, “Here we go again.  When I have to remove these damn wires from all this chest hair, I’ll scream ‘whoa Kelly Clarkson’.”  Within 25 minutes I had my first CT scan.  I guess I’m happy that they took the symptoms serious.  I thought I was having a stroke.  At 37, could this be possible?  Eventually the neurologist came down and told me that she was almost positive that it was a migraine headache masked as a stroke.  However, the head neurologist of the hospital would like to come see me.  When she did, she ordered another type of CT scan in which they put iodine in my body and took a 3D image of my head looking for clots in blood vessels.  Eventually that came back clear.  It was just a migraine.  After eight hours, I was released from the hospital.

In the first minutes of being in the hospital I was scared.  What is going on?  Aren’t I too young to have a stroke?  As a kid my mom always told me if I continued to scream that loud at my brother and make my face red I would have an aneurysm.  Does that go the same for singing at the top of my lungs on my way to work?  What is going on?  After the first CT scan came back and they pretty much ruled out a stroke, I sat for hours waiting for the head neurologist and the second CT scan results.  At that point I had watched family member upon family member, significant other upon significant other come rushing to see if their loved one was ok.  I didn’t have anyone.  To be fair, my friend Sarah told me she would come if I wanted her to.  My boss Lara checked on me via text.  But what I missed was having that guy, the boyfriend, the partner who would come rushing from work to make sure I was ok.  Being single, that just doesn’t happen.  When you’re single, you don’t have that person who just drops everything, because they love you, and comes rushing to your side.  Maybe it’s a dream of mine that this is how it should be.  Maybe those of you with a partner still don’t experience that.  And if you do have a partner and he or she doesn’t come rushing to the emergency room for you, I’m sorry.  So I felt bad for myself.  Just like in July when I broke my hand at age 36 and had to have my mommy and daddy come take care of me, I felt bad for myself.  But after a few minutes, I stopped.  I stopped the thought of feeling bad for myself.  No, I don’t have a boyfriend who is going to rush from the city up to the burbs to come sit by me while I’m in the ER for 8 hours.  And you know what, that is okay.  What I do have are plenty of people in my life who love me and would do anything for me, if I ask.

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First and foremost, my friend Sarah.  She asked, “Do you want me to come?”  I told her no.  Something my parents taught me, by example, as a kid, was to never be a burden.  To this day, my father does not like to spend the night at other people’s houses because it “puts them out.”  My mother always preached, “Don’t make them wait for you when they come to pick you up for practice.”  This is an excellent lesson, but it taught me to be ready and waiting, not to have to call on someone to wait for me, or in this case, wait WITH me.  Frankly, I did not think I would be at the ER for 8 hours, so I did not think it would be an issue.  Sarah checked in.  My boss checked in.  My friends Jen and Kimberly at work checked in, because they didn’t know where I was.  As the time went on and on I texted my friend Patrick.  He is a PA so I was asking medical questions that scared me.  Time went on and on.

Good things that happened while I was in the ER:

1.  I caught up on an episode of The Barefoot Contessa.  She’s just a delight.

2.  I saw my first episode of The Pioneer Woman.  She sure knows how to cook and drive a pick-up on the range.

3.  I saw the Paula Deen replacement’s show.  If you watch Food Network, you know what I mean.

4.  I had time to appreciate the people in my life.

Fourteen years ago I made a choice to move to Chicago by myself.  At 23, moving away from my family did not seem like much of a deal at all.  Over the years I have recognized that being away from them, my choice, has implications.  One huge one, I don’t get to spend enough time with my nieces.  Second, I don’t have family support in emergencies, not because they wouldn’t rush to me, but because of distance, it isn’t possible.  So I sat there in the hospital, by myself, reflecting on what I DO have.

So what I do have?  Amazing friends!  What I need to do?  I need to not be afraid to say, “Yes, come sit with me in the hospital.”  “Yes, I’m scared and I don’t want to be alone.”  Throughout the day Sarah checked in, we texted, she asked for me to look for hot doctors to hook her up with, and I did look.  I know if I said, “can you come?” she would have in a heartbeat.   During her busy day, my boss checked on me too.  Can I just tell you, to have a boss like Lara is a blessing and I feel so fortunate daily.  She has hired me twice, lucky for me, and I feel so fortunate to work for someone who cares about me as a person.  When I was finally done, after eight hours, Lara offered to drive me all the way back to the city.  I know that offer was genuine.  If I had said yes, she would have in a heartbeat.  So you know what, I made a choice to sit at the hospital alone.  I know now that I did not have to.  No I do not have a guy who loves me to come rushing to my side, but I have incredible people, friends, who will drop what they are doing to help me out.  “Friends are the Family We Choose.”

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It was 11:30 a.m. when I was admitted to the ER.  Now, at 7:30 p.m. I was doing the “walk of shame” back to my car in the school parking lot.  The hospital is about 500 feet from my school, so with mussed hair, an untucked, wrinkled shirt, I ascended the parking lot of the hospital, then three different parking lots on the school grounds, all on the way back to my car.  On my way I passed several parents waiting to pick their kids up and the baseball team was coming off the field.  With my head down, I continued my walk of shame.  It made me laugh and think of my most recent “walk of shame” the night after a Halloween party this past fall.  It was early morning and I was walking through Boystown with copious amounts of glitter in my hair, SHORT silver shorts on, and my homemade Pride flag decorated with sequins and garland wrapped around my shoulders to stay warm.  Ah, Say YES to Life! right?  So I made it back to my car and finally home.  It was a long day, and I’m grateful for the care I received and that it was “just” a migraine.

The next morning I texted my friend Dave to let him know about my day.  “Never sit alone.  You do not ever have to sit alone.”  His text made me tear up.  As humans, single or partnered, we don’t want to be alone, especially at uncertain times.  However, I believe that us singles understand “alone” a bit different.  Dave got it.  Dave said it.  Dave meant it.  “Never sit alone.  You do not ever have to sit alone.”

And so, life has a funny way of challenging us AND showing us things we need to recognize.  I am not alone and you are not alone.  If we can’t surround ourselves with family we must make a family of friends to love and support us.  As Carrie Bradshaw once said, “but in the end they’re the people you always come home to.  Sometimes it’s the family you’re born into and sometimes it’s the one you make for yourself.” Do yourself a favor, go out and create yourself the best damn family of friends you possibly can.  Believe me, this I know for sure, the real ones will be by your side whenever you need them, you just might need to ask.

Shoop Shoop Be Doop

This week marks one year since my ex boyfriend told me he was taking a job in NYC.  My heart was shattered into a million different pieces that day.  The subsequent months were filled with tears, sadness, and despair.  I fell into the darkest period of my life.  Had it not been for amazing friends, who kept me busy and got me out of my apartment, co-workers who cared to ask how I was doing and people I pretty much just met who listened, I would not be standing here today, the pieced back together and much stronger man that I am.  In there too was an amazing trip to Africa, which would come to be the last with my wonderful friend and travel companion, Lesley, along with Cary and Charlie, who experienced with me the transformative experience in the wilds of Africa.  Along with all of those things, what I know now is that people you don’t expect, come out of the woodwork to support you, that new friendships have blossomed, and that my own strength and courage helped me put one foot in front of the other each day.  I have experienced physical pain, remember the collarbone/blood clot incident of 2006 or the broken hand this past July?  What I learned through this experience is that physical pain ain’t got nothin’ on emotional trauma.  A pill can take away physical pain, but difficult, emotional work, and time,  must be the only thing that makes us better and helps us through emotional pain.   I recognize that I am not the first broken hearted man, listen to most music and you’ll see, but it’s people who have been heart broken who shine through like beacons of light during the darkest times.  What this experience has afforded me is the strength to move on, to grow, to learn, to be, to feel, to experience, all the lows and highs of life.  If we never experience sadness or disappointment, can we truly know how happiness feels?  If we never experience a broken heart, can we truly know what love is supposed to feel like?  I will never love in the same way again, he was my first love,  but I will love again, in a much different way.  That, I know for sure.

“and maybe a happy ending doesn’t include a guy, maybe it’s you, on your own, picking up the pieces and starting over, freeing yourself up for something better in the future.  Maybe the happy ending is just moving on.”

I have struggled with moving on and letting go.  Not even the stellar song by Adela Dazeem (Idena Menzel) “Let It Go” from Frozen could get me out of my funk.  I recently read a post from http://www.Tinybudda.com called “Finally Letting Go of the Pain and Moving on from the Break-up” by JR Hughes.  In it was a description of how I’ve felt for the past year, “For the year after the break-up I got on okay with life, but the shine had gone. A veil hung between me and true engagement with the world. I could smile but the smile never went to my eyes.”  Oh my god, that is me, I thought, or sang rather, “The past is in the past.  Let it go.  Let it go.”  It is time to lift the veil and bring my smile back to my eyes.  It is time to move the  F on.  I’m an amazing, wonderful man with so many great talents and passions to share.  I’m missing out on finding a new, great, wonderful man to share many adventures with, and my love.  I need to Say YES to Life!  I have to make the decision that this is over.  This is done. And I have done that.

17023-Your-Worth

When I recently found out my ex has moved on, like leaving me for a job in NYC wasn’t enough to tell me he moved on Matt, I found out he is dating someone new.  The news hit hard, for a day or two, then I was fine.  Last week I was completing the final days of Deepak Chopra and Oprah’s 21-Day meditation free series.  That particular day, 51 weeks after the break-up, was themed, “Expressing Wisdom.”  I WILL buy this series, if only for Day 20 and Oprah’s 2 minute message at the beginning.  It is no secret that I think Oprah is pretty amazing.  What she says rang so, SO true to me today.

 “I call it my sunrise faith, because as long as we’re on this planet, the sun always rises.  That is a truth we can count on, regardless how many shifts and twists and turns we experience in our lives, The Sun will rise tomorrow.  The true nature of the Universe is just like the sunrise.  It is always there.  It is always True, with a capital T.  We too are each in our truest selves, a part of the greater capital T, Truth.  What I know for sure, is the more closely we connect to the Source, capital S, of every truth, the more wondrous and full our life experience will be.  What is our true self?  We feel it when we’re lost in moments of doing something we love, or connecting with someone we love, or in those Ah Ha moments of light and insight.  We feel it in the essence of connection.  We feel it in the quiet, steady power of the sunrise.”

What I know for sure (thank you Oprah) is that, no matter how dark the days were over the past 365 days, the sun always rose.  No matter how many twists, turns, and shifts my journey took in the past 365 days, the sun always rose.  No matter what happens in a day, good or bad, as long as we make it to the end of that day, the sun is going to rise tomorrow.  With this realization and acceptance came power for me.  It is the power of choice.  #100happydays http://www.100happydays.com allowed me to learn that happiness some days is a choice.  Some days I am just happy, I feel good, but others it is a conscious effort.  And those are the days that I get to the end, crawl into bed and say, “whew, I made it.  The sun will rise tomorrow.”
SunAlwaysRises
When people leave you, it just means they weren’t the right one to stay.  You just have to sing, “Shoop, shoop, be doop” from Waiting to Exhale, by my beloved Whitney.  “Everyone falls in love sometime.  Sometimes it’s wrong, sometimes it’s right.  For every win, someone must fail.  But there comes a point when, when we exhale.  Yeah yeah yeah, say Shoop shoop shoop shoop be doop.”  It’s the Universe’s way of saying, he isn’t right for you, I’m throwing a curve in the plan and steering you in a different direction.  I’ve learned to take that curve, accept it, and am choosing to Say YES to Life!

 

 

 

Say YES to Life!

“You’re meeting up with someone you haven’t seen in 19 years?”

“Yes, I am!”  That was my answer as I sat on the train about to see a high school friend I hadn’t seen since the day we graduated, June 2, 1995.  “I’m saying YES to life.”

And so it begins, I’m finally starting a blog.  I’ve been told for years that I should do this, that I’m funny and witty and people would enjoy what I write about.  And for years I have hesitated, hemmed, and hawed, never really considering it, well, not at great length anyway.  Then I met up with Dana, a high school friend.  I haven’t seen Dana since we left Portage Central High School for the last time on June 2, 1995.  We’d known each other over the years, but were never great friends.  She Facebook messaged me a few weeks ago letting me know she would be in Chicago and wondered if I would like to join her for a drink to catch up.  Immediately, when Dana rounded the corner of the elevator at the Blake Hotel, it was like I had just seen her yesterday.  She looked the same.  Same vibrant smile and same exuberant personality.

“So, June 1995…what have you been up to since?”  Dana and I each ran through our 19 year college and career history, you know Michigan State, move to Chicago, taught 5th grade for 6 years, am now in my 8th year as a high school counselor, loving my job, loving living in Chicago, this and that and the other.  For Dana it was, Western Michigan, Detroit, a lot of amazing travel for work around the world, and then, New York City, back to Michigan and her own business.

On my way to meet Dana my friend Sarah, another high school connection, and I were texting.  I told her that I was meeting up with Dana because I’m “saying yes to life.”  What can it hurt to meet up with someone you haven’t seen in 19 years?  Sarah texted back, “I love this.”  While Dana and I were chatting she brought up a recent daily post thing from the internet called #100happydays.  Basically you take a photo of what made you happy that day and post on Instagram or Facebook.  After a personally dark year, #100happydays helped me look at the little things in a day that make me happy.   Some days it was an obvious thing, like dinner with a great friend.  Other days it was harder to find something, so I had to look more closely at the little things.  Even the little things like a perfectly ripe avocado, can make me happy.  It’s all about saying yes to life.  So I said yes to Dana, we had the best time, and her spirit filled me up so much that here I am, just like her friend told her, “Like a peacock, you need to let your feathers show.”

So here I am, letting my feathers show and saying yes to life.  I don’t know what this blog will be from post to post,  but hopefully it will be fun, sometimes serious, hopefully not lame, funny, and maybe, just maybe, it might reach someone.  Who knows?  Something I have recently allowed myself to rediscover after this past year is that I am full of life and love and that it is ok to let the darkness fade.  It’s time to Say YES to Life!