Tag Archives: marriage

How Do You Move Forward When You’re Grinding All Your Gears?

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As humans, we’re constantly in motion. But motion and movement are two very different things. Just because you’re in motion doesn’t mean you’re necessarily going anywhere.

Trust me on this, I know.

If I could catch a ride with Richard Branson on his uber-expensive Virgin Galactic Gateway to Space, I’d easily be able to assess the difference between the two. But first I’d hit him up for drink. Specifically? A glass of 1907 Heidsieck. At $275,000 a bottle, it would help defray my ticket price while momentarily absolving me of the guilt associated with blowing the kids’ college tuition just to prove a point. BOGO at its highest and best use.

Space cowboy Richard Branson. Image via cognitivelibertyuk.wordpress.com

Space cowboy Richard Branson. Image via cognitivelibertyuk.wordpress.com

The second thing I’d do is settle in to check out the real estate, because isn’t leveraging my children’s future to see the world from a different point of view all about perspective? I imagine myself staring out the window at an earth below that looks less and less like the picture we all try to paint on a daily basis. Not so much a three-dimensional place anymore, but from way up above? A ginormous chessboard marked with clearly defined grids, gateways, and boundaries, as tiny balls of energy collide, advance, deflect, promote, dodge, gather, seek and recede in an endless effort to check the king.

Image via portwallpaper.com

Image via portwallpaper.com

Fascinated with the sparkly surface patterns of intricate motion that everyone on earth longs to be, and all happy-tingly-woozy from my six-figure, speed of sound buzz, I’d almost miss what I didn’t know I flew so high to see. Something small and seemingly insignificant situated inside the massive advance of energy that everyone else on board paid a lifetime of 401K savings to witness.

I’m talking about inert matter. Those pinpricks of light that mimic motion, but whose movement is an optical illusion: running in circles, dancing in place, and bumping up against imaginary walls. As everyone else on board focuses on the obvious, I’d be able to drill down a little deeper. But only because I’ve been there. Stuck. In motion, but not really going anywhere.

Image via trojantimes.org

Image via trojantimes.org

Looking back at my adult life, it’s easy to categorize it into a series of phases.

Phase 1/1980s: The Sussana Hoffs era of Big Hair and Big Dreams.

Big hair is hot. Image via houston.culturemap.com

Big hair is hot. Image via houston.culturemap.com

Phase 2/1990s: The Yves Saint Laurent era of Big Black Suit and Big Career.

Don't look at my body. Look at my soul. Image via www.girlsguidetoparis.com

Don’t look at my body. Look at my soul. Image via http://www.girlsguidetoparis.com

Phase 3/2000s: The Barbara Billingsley era of Big Belly and Big Bills.

That’s not me. OK it is. On the verge of birthing an alien.

I’ve always considered myself fairly stealth, able to move seamlessly in and out of various roles at-will to the beat of a metronome perfectly synchronized to my tune. But about three years ago, on the cusp of my 40th birthday, everything changed. For someone who’s always been confident enough to chart her own course, I suddenly found myself drifting. I was lost and knee-deep in the weeds without a compass, while a storm of my own design grew larger than it appeared in my peripheral view.

Somewhere between my career and the kids, buried in a pile of laundry or possibly lurking inside a box in the basement that I hadn’t opened for years, I lost my perspective and appreciation for the life I’d so carefully built. I don’t know how it happened, but it felt like I simply woke up one day yearning to be anywhere and anyone but who I was. Confused, I couldn’t seem to recognize the woman looking back at me in the mirror when I washed my face every night.

No matter how enlightened I become, I will always hate matching socks.

It’s easy to get lost in a pile of socks.

I was that person who, although constantly in motion, wasn’t actually moving. Busy with my responsibilities as a parent and a wife, I had somehow forgotten about the inner workings that support the common denominator between the two, and then the kids went off to school, and could tie their own shoes, and make sound decisions without being told how, and I realized that I had unintentionally parked myself on an island and hadn’t taken the time to learn to swim. Even in the middle of paradise, isolation is lonely, and days on end of the most beautiful sunset somehow lose their color. Things that shine on the surface, like the tiny balls of energy you might see from outer space, sometimes look entirely different from the inside out.

Telluride, CO August 2011

When you’re stuck, you’re forced to stop. You don’t have a choice. And then when you’re ready to move forward, you have to look around and figure out where you want to go next rather than simply allowing the tide to sweep you along. That initial inertia and subsequent plotting of a new path has great value, even though in the moment it feels miserable, like treading water in quicksand.

One of the side effects of getting lost is the unexpected places you get to visit on your way to a new destination. Like for me? Writing. This blog is a direct result of a yearlong, step-by-step, rocky hike on a circuitous path. And I’m still going. I’m a constant work in progress, but I’m now comfortable with my ever-changing state of being because I’m doing the work to figure out where I want to end up. Plus I reserve the right to change my mind, which is a great back-up plan when all else fails.

I believe that in life, we all get stuck at some point. Whether it’s due to things like divorce, disease, death, or distraction, almost everyone loses their way. Sometimes we have to move backwards to go forward, or hit a bottom so hard that the force of impact acts like a catapult up to the top, but the a-ha realization at the end, when lessons are learned and intersecting lines actually connect, is priceless. It isn’t easy, but almost everything worth accomplishing in life is born from some type of hardship or loss. So what about you? Are you simply in motion or are you actually moving? It’s a question worth asking, even if the answer isn’t what you want to hear.

Taking the road less traveled and finding my way.

How Nonverbal Communication Can Improve Your Relationship (Part II)

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O.K.  I got way off-topic in Part I of this post, but I’ve established that I’m a Gemini, which is a perfect excuse each time I veer too far in the wrong direction.  Or run into the house with my ginormous SUV.  Or forget to pick up the kids at school.

But I’m drifting.

Now that I’ve been married for more years than I’ll ever admit, I’ve developed a proven communication technique I’d like to pass on.  I believe in divvying up the good things in life, like my Charlie’s Angels action figures.  I always shared them in the sandbox, even though Courtney Higgens buried Farrah alive, pretended she died in a dramatic speedboat explosion, and stole her.

Charlie's Angels

Image via Wikipedia

There I go again.

A successful relationship requires a lot of give-and-take, back-and-forth, and general ego adjustment to thrive.  Unfortunately, it took me a long time to figure this out.

Being the uber communicator of the zodiac, I thought my way of doing just about everything was the right one, and that my husband, Scot, would naturally fall in line.

Except it wasn’t.  And he didn’t.

Our failure to see eye-to-eye has never been about politics, parenting, or who gets the good seat when we go out to eat (you know, the one that faces the expanse of the restaurant and not a wall, so if a mega-star happens to stop by the table you can be the first to snap a picture on your phone and email it to TMZ).

Tom Cruise December 2008

Tom Cruise is a mega star. Plus he's short like me. Image via Wikipedia

The disconnect always drills down to something much more mundane, like who’s turn it is to sweep out the creepy garage or restock the bathrooms with toilet paper.  The mere mention of ironing is probable cause for launching World War III.

After years of unsuccessful trial-and-error communication tactics such as repetitive vocal chord shredding, whisper-nagging, slipping magic ink lists under the bathroom door, and hypnosis, I’ve developed the perfect method to get my point across in a quiet, clear, and non-threatening way.

Visual Manipulation.

Everybody knows the reason that Denny’s is in business today is due to their laminated, multi-color, plasticy foodish, genius picture menus.  Well, those and the fact that you can get a Moon Over My Hammy Omelette 24/7.

at denny's

Gross. Image via Wikipedia

So I thought, why not rip that idea right off their pleatherette booths and bring it into my home?

Exhibit A

I don’t like to cook.  I’ve mentioned this before and will continue to belabor the point until you start sending me care packages full of nutritious food that my family will love.  Unlike many of my friends, I can’t create dinner on the fly from an egg, raw pudding, and flax seed.  For me, meal preparation requires a lot of thought, and sometimes I don’t feel like thinking.  It’s on these days that I’m compelled to warn my family there won’t be anything of interest waiting on the kitchen table when they get home.  Actual discussion of this issue always leads to disappointment (Scot), whining (the kids), and guilt (me).   Hence, the visual.

At first, I wanted to construct a bat-signal, because it’s retro and super-cool.  Plus, if you happen to be a neighbor you might see it, feel sorry for my children, and drop off a hot dish.  Added bonus?  I could learn Morse code and communicate with alien life forms in the middle of the night when I can’t sleep.

The Bat-Signal as seen at the end of Batman

That's me in a bat costume trying to talk to aliens. Image via Wikipedia

But Scot said that would be a colossal waste of money, not to mention an invitation for all the nasty coyotes in the area to congregate in our back yard.

So I came up with this instead:

Get out.

I usually create my display early in the morning when I’ve been up all night and the ankle-biters are still in bed.  I keep it simple and to the point.  The kitchen is closed for dinner before it even opens for breakfast.  No discussion necessary.

Exhibit B

Ever since I left the corporate world to become a full-time Mom, I’ve been under the impression it’s my job to do everything around the house that nobody else cares about.  Like laundry.  Recently, however, I conducted an unofficial survey of my peers and discovered that Domestic Goddesses don’t match socks.  Like, ever.  Domestic Goddesses lounge around the house all day in togas, watch really bad reality T.V., take naps, and forget to pick up the kids at school.

Life as a Domestic Goddess seems awesome, and since I absolutely hate absorbent footwear, I devised a non-confrontational way to get Scot to take this forgettable task off my hands:

Man-chair.

This is Scot’s man-chair, the same one I’m giving Tim Tebow when he stops by to say hello.  By quietly dumping about forty-seven pairs of unmatched socks on top of it, I’m assured of immediate action because this is his favorite place to:

  1. Eat a bowl of cereal for dinner.
  2. Obsess over his swing while watching thirty-one different “How To Not Suck” shows on the Golf Channel.
  3. Ignore me.

Point made.  Task completed.  Argument averted.

Exhibit C

The simplest and most compelling wordless method to get your partner to help with anything involving manual labor is this:

Fix me.

That’s the entryway from the garage to our house.  Scot parks in the garage and uses this door to come inside.  It’s currently blocked (like, right now) by my daughter, Grace’s bike.  Her bike has an unsolvable (by me) issue that renders it useless.  Grace would like to actually ride her bike sometime this year.  I don’t know how to repair it.  So now, thanks to my non-verbal cue, Scot can’t get in the house to not sit in his favorite chair in anticipation of the meal that isn’t waiting for him until he fixes it.

I could go on and on but it’s almost naptime again.  While I’m sleeping, I’d appreciate it if you’d tell me your best non-verbal communication tip.  Maybe we’ll write a book together, become mega millionaires, and hang out in my soon-to-be-constructed Hawaiian isolation chamber.  I’ll let you in if you’re nice, but please leave your socks at the door.

How Nonverbal Communication Can Improve Your Relationship (Part I)

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Unless, that is, you’re a Gemini-Sagittarius couple.  If that’s the case?  Give up and move on.

Assuming you’re not with the wrong astrological mate or anyone who’s appeared on The Bachelor, I have some proven tips that might make life a little easier in the Mars vs. Venus, Mars vs. Mars, or Venus vs. Venus tug-of-war with your significant other.

Gemini

Image by Justinsanity via Flickr

You may be wondering what makes me qualified to give relationship advice.

My answer?

I’ve been in a lot of them.

Once I was wise enough to notice the opposite sex, I immediately became a self-declared, serial monogamist.

serial monogamist: se·ri·al mo·nog·a·mist \ˈsir-ē-əl\ \mə-ˈnä-gə-mist\ nounone Stacie, who spends as little time as possible being single, moving from the end of one relationship to the beginning of a new relationship as quickly as possible faster than you can say “Shazam!” although the relationships in which many serial monogamists Stacies find themselves are also often short lived doomed, the defining aspect of serial monogamy is the desire need and ability to enter new relationships very quickly, thus abbreviating any period of single life self reflection during which the serial monogamist Stacie may begin to ask questions of an existential nature

Middle School Era:

1. Boy asks me to go with him.
2. I say “sure.”
3. We declare our undying love for one other and I write Stacie + Boy all over my Wonder Woman textbook cover.
4. We proceed not to talk, look at each another in the halls, or communicate at all until we break up (which is usually around spring so I can go to the 8th grade dance with my besties).
Lynda Carter as Wonder Woman, displaying her a...

Image via Wikipedia

High School Era (pre-car):

1. Boy asks if I want to go together.
2. I say “sure.”
3. We declare our undying love for one another and slip notes into each other’s lockers, which further acknowledges our undying love, until we get caught writing notes and have to go to detention after school (but we’re together and can pass notes so it’s O.K.).
4. We proceed to talk on the phone all the time, ask our parents to take us to the mall so we can hold hands and look at the cool stuff we don’t have enough money to buy, and write more notes until we break up (which is usually around fall so I can go to the homecoming dance with my besties).

Now wait. Before you get all, “Stacie thinks she’s all that ’cause guys were asking her out all the time and stuff,” remember that I grew up in Kentucky a thousand light years ago.  It isn’t the Deep South, but it is connected to the lower half of Indiana. Which is kind of sad.  Anyway, back then girls didn’t initiate anything with a boy.  Period.  Which I liked a lot at the time and even more now that I have two little girls of my very own.  So there.

High School Era (post-car):

1. Boy asks if I want to be his girlfriend.
2. I say “sure.”
3. We declare our undying love for one another, he takes me to school every day, we go to McDonald’s and hang out with friends, decide we’re bored, and drive around all night looking for a party.
4. We proceed to spoon after-curfew in the creepy basement, watch movies, and look for more parties until we break up (which is usually around summer so I can hang out at the pool with the cute lifeguards and my besties).

1979 Z-28 Camaro from a friend of mine, Bill C...

Image via Wikipedia

College Era:

1. Boy asks if I want to go to a grab-a-date.
2. I say “sure.”
3. We declare our undying love for one another, figure out we’re both way too into Erasure, and make mix tapes.
4. We proceed to go to more date parties, study together after class, and deconstruct why Andrew Shue plays such a doormat on “Melrose Place” until he asks if I like to cook.  And then we break up (I’d rather not cook for my besties.).

Photo of actor Andrew Shue at the 45th Emmy Aw...

I'm a doormat. Image via Wikipedia

So as you can probably tell, I’m the Gemini of the Gemini-Sagittarius couple.  Bet you didn’t see that coming!  Luckily, my husband is a Taurus, and when I start to display my Gemininess, he just ignores me.  In case you haven’t noticed, Gemini have commitment issues (Ha! The plural of Gemini is Gemini!), and if you don’t believe me, go to Wikipedia and check it out.

See?

Not my fault.

But this post wasn’t meant to be about the perfect fit between Gemininess and serial monogamy, or why I’m lucky I married a bull.  It was supposed to be about how nonverbal communication can improve your relationship.  I got so wrapped up in demonstrating my value as a nonverbal communication specialist, that I completely lost my train of thought.

And now?  I need a nap.