Thursday, July 31, 2014

Feeling Sexy

I woke this morning and just felt good.  I’m not talking about sexual, I’m talking about feeling beautiful, attractive, and yes, dare I say it… sexy.

I had a smile on my face, replaying bits of a beautiful conversation I had the night before and threw back the covers.  When the cool air swept over my hot body, I looked down and admired the way the edge of my panties drew my attention to my hips.  My gaze followed the dips and curves and I was pleased.  I used to hate the way they looked, but I’ve been working really hard to get into shape and this morning I admired my handiwork.  Do I think they’re perfect? No.  I still have more work to do, but I’m very happy with the results so far.  An enlightening thought hit me in that moment.  I’m not getting into shape to please anyone else, especially some shallow man, but me… and damn if that didn’t make me smile.  It has me feeling sexy.

I threw on my workout clothes, tied my hair into a pony tail, and headed toward the living room to start my morning workout.  As I passed my vanity, I stopped and gazed at my body in the mirror.  I turned to get a good look at my backside in my running pants… and smiled even bigger. Once again, I felt sexy. Could I be a model?  Hell, no! Nor would I want to be, but I’m liking the way I’m toning.  I just turned 43-years old but my body is looking younger and younger every week.  I nearly bounced all the way to the living room.

During my yoga session, instead of clearing my mind as I stretched my body, I was checking myself out, looking at all my curves, my muscles, and even all the bruises left over from the move (I sincerely look like someone beat the living hell out of me). I still have flaws and areas I don’t know if I will ever be able to repair after years of neglect and abuse, but I admired my body this morning. I noticed how much my muscles are toning and in the right accessories how hot I looked.  Would I think the same if I were completely naked and able to see all my scars?  I doubt it – but then those scars are part of who I am, the very things that have given me most of my strength.

After my yoga session and having limbered up, I started my strength training (4 for the Core, sit-ups and squats using a kettlebell and hand weights).  As I felt the burn, I smiled knowing that my pain wasn’t for nothing, because it’s working.  I’m getting stronger (hopefully soon I’ll be able to start climbing). I moved to the treadmill, set the speed, and took off.  It wasn’t long before I had to start regulating my breathing (I really need to have my lungs checked out… I do have a problem with breathing) and I could feel the sweat starting to run down the side of my face, on the back of my neck, and in other various places.  I loved that feeling as my body moved in rhythm to the treadmill.  I closed my eyes for a few moments and thought about when I first made the decision nearly two years ago to get into shape and struggled to run at all and the excitement I felt when I completed my first 1/8th of a mile.  I’m still not a great runner, but I love how it gets my heart racing.

Now hot, sweaty and struggling to breathe, I jumped into a nice tepid shower to cool off.  When that cool water hit me, I felt goose-bumps pop up all over my body.  I showered quickly and then dressed even more quickly.  For some reason this morning my clothes just fit better.  I liked the way my boobs looked in my bra, how my shirt hung just right, how my pants fit and complimented my curves.  I’m not a skinny beanpole.  I don’t have legs that go on forever.  I don’t look like a plastic Barbie doll. I look like a hot-blooded sexy woman.

When a woman feels sexy, she becomes sexy no matter what society dictates as the standard for sexiness.  She walks sexy, she smiles sexy, and she emits a sexy energy that attracts attention.  She doesn’t need tight-fitting or revealing clothes, heavy make-up, or  expensive hairdo’s to make her sexy – she just needs to feel it about herself.

I’ve already received several compliments this morning on how great I look, when I look no different than I do every other day.  I’ve noticed the new glances and the increase in smiles. The only difference is how I feel about myself.  I’m not trying to attract attention, I’m just so damned happy with how I feel about me.  This has been a long journey and struggle.  I know I’ve mentioned in these blogs over the past couple of years of how I’m falling in love with “Me”.  Today, I’m crushing on the sexy woman I noticed this morning.  I’m so proud of her and all the hard work she’s done to get herself into her current shape.  That appraisal just fuels my efforts to continue this quest even more.

So, how are you feelin’ this morning, Sexy?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

If Not Now, When?

It seems like most of my life I’ve spent a majority of my time “waiting”.  Especially when it comes to my dreams.  I allowed life, responsibility, duty, and compromise to get in the way.  For nearly twenty years I was “waiting on the Lord” to move in my life for things to happen, believing that He would open a path for me.   Before that, I waited on Karma.  Living in a dark, ugly world full of hate and lies, I chose to follow a higher standard of excellence, believing if I tried hard enough, worked hard enough, studied hard enough, I could change my stars.  My Pastor used to say, “You’re working way too hard for what God wants to give you.” Wanting to give me something and actually doing it are two different things.  Maybe… just maybe …He wanted me to fight for it, to take a chance, to leap into the unknown – to get it myself? Maybe.

Do you know what happened to and for my dreams in all that waiting?  NOTHING.  I spent all that time doing something else, hoping for that magical  opportunity to open and change my world.  All I’ve got to show for it is a long wait period of back-breaking sacrifices, and one disappointment after another as I watched my dreams slip through my fingers, one after another.  Not all of them, but most.  I’ve had a picture perfect life for the last two decades.  But, pictures don’t always present the whole truth.  It would really depend on your definition of what a perfect life consisted.  Is it what you achieved?  Is it what you’ve collected?  Is it what you possess?  Is it how you look, where you live, how much money you make, what church you attend, what titles you’ve received, what car you drive, what invitations you get, or how many Christmas cards you collect?

Now as I look back, I don’t understand how I believed in either of those concepts in the first place.  I knew better, yet I believed.  I had full faith that if I just obeyed, if I was good, if I diligently prayed, if I spent my time and talent helping others, then God – or even Karma – would swoop down and magically open all those great doors of opportunity. It’s what I was promised would happen.  I mean, after all, there were countless of testimony regularly voiced of how God did this and that for others, and how miraculously things just fell into place and dreams were realized, or how Karma (both good and bad) always paid her debts.  I prayed the same dream prayers over and over and over, yet never saw them manifest in ANY way, especially when it came to relationships.  Of all the hard work I did, I just couldn’t seem to get ahead.  Life (Karma) always seemed to come in and throw something in my path that kept me from really taking off.  Nothing changed.  I was still unwanted, unloved and undesired. I couldn’t be successful enough, pretty enough, or good enough to change anything.

Don’t get me wrong.  I had many successes.  I worked with a spirit of excellence and mastered just about everything I put my hands to do – the problem was – I was doing everything else for everyone else, except me – believing that would lead to my own dream fulfillment.  Then, when I took the chance on ME… all those who supported, encouraged, and bragged about all the things I did for them disappeared or remained silent in and for my pursuits.  I was supported as long as it didn’t interfere with all those ‘other’ things I did, as long as it didn’t cause an interruption or hardship or sacrifice on anyone else’s part – I was good to go.  But, the moment my dream, my wants, or my desires caused any form of inconvenience, if it was different, or became a sacrifice for someone else – that support disappeared, often replaced by resentment, opposition, and judgment. When I started being ‘me’, and not who I was expected to be, I suddenly became the rebellious one.  As long as I looked and acted like everyone else around me, I was loved.  But have an individual and differing thought … that love and support disappeared.

 I just wanted someone to believe in me, the same way I believed in them.  I struggled with believing  in myself.  People let me down.  But a funny thing happened… I quit waiting.  I quit believing that I could do anything good enough to make a difference with anything.  No, I no longer expected those doors to magically, supernaturally, or karmatically open on their own in response to my goodness, faithfulness or obedience.  I found those doors on my own and kicked those fuckers down. Did it cost me anything?  Yes, it cost me everything.

When is the time to chase my dreams or work on fulfilling my wants and desires?  NOW.  I still have faith – faith that I’m brave enough to chase what I want in and out of this life.  Have I found everything? No.  Has everything worked out exactly as I planned? No.  Have I found that happiness I desired for so long?  Some, but there’s more.  Am I loved, wanted and desired?  Not yet. But I’m living. I’m moving.  I’m doing.  I’m falling.  I’m getting back up. I’m missing the mark.  I’m hitting my target.  The point is … I’m living in the now. I’ve done more in the last two years for myself than the last forty-one combined.  It’s not all easy, a bed of roses, or happens perfectly. On the contrary, it’s often painful, I make mistakes, I get hurt, I fall down, and I spend a lot of time crying – but I’m moving, I’m doing, and I’m experiencing life – not letting it waste away waiting for some outside or unknown force to open a path for me. I live in the NOW.

My life is now one big verb, not an adjective.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

It's Like Riding a Bike and Other Unforgettable Responses

There’s just some things in life we never forget how to do, and like that old saying, “it’s as easy as remembering how to ride a bike.”  Well, I had the opportunity to put that theory to the test.  I rode a bike for the first time in nearly two decades, and you know what, it really is something I automatically remembered how to do.  It was like second nature. My feet knew when to peddle, and balancing on two narrow wheels  became natural as the bike became an extension of my body.

I’m not saying riding the bike didn’t come without its complications, because my muscles would protest that sentiment, loudly.  It didn’t take but the first half mile before I started feeling the strain.  By the close of mile two, they burned.  Granted, I wasn’t riding on level asphalt, but some pretty steep hills, yet able to push through and make it back home.  I think riding this bike is going to be great in my quest to stay healthy and fit.  I can’t wait to see the results.

How much do we control our responses?  Do we even control them at all?  I can recognize them if I pay attention, but usually that observation comes after the fact.  It’s not like I’m consciously thinking about how I’m going to respond to life’s situations.  I have some automatic responses I wish I could change.  But I’m finding it’s like pulling your hand out of a fire because it burns.  I’ve seriously been trying these past few years to have a different response to things that hurt me.  My ‘natural’ response is pull away, slam up a wall, turn around, and walk away, sometimes even run and hide.  Instead, as I felt the heat rush over me in the middle of the pain, I stood and faced it, holding onto all hope that it would make a difference.  It didn’t.   Only now I carry burn scars along with all the others.

I saw my family together last week as my ex showed up to help me and my kids move my stuff into my new apartment.  There were moments of playful banter, working together, and laughter between us - familiar like riding a bike; it felt normal and natural.  We moved with a rhythm and worked together to get a difficult job done.  The fantasy was good, but then it was followed by a moment of reality … a moment that hit so hard it took me four days to even acknowledge it existed because my automatic response was to slam down my feelings and escape into work to keep my mind so busy it couldn’t face it.

That moment?  After lugging several heavy boxes, furniture, and equipment up two flights of stairs in the middle of a Georgia July, I was exhausted, hot, sweaty, and every muscle I had cried out in pain.  I just wanted to lie in the floor and let the air-conditioning cool me down.  Instead I had to help unload one more truckload of my son’s things at his dad’s.    I knew my ex, son, and daughter were also tired, you could see the exhaustion on everyone’s face.  There was an awkward moment where we all stood under the carport looking at each other, because this was the moment of truth. We weren’t a family any more.  Slowly, we all turned away from each other.  My son left to return to where he currently lived.  My daughter turned and walked back into her father’s house.  My ex turned and walked toward the path that led to the backyard to put our dog in the fence (well, I should say his dog now), and I got into my car to return to my apartment.

My automatic response was to feel bad and take the blame for breaking up my family.  After all, they’re still together – I’m the one that ran away.  They have their Thursday evening family dinner with Grandma and Grandpa, they see each other every day, involved in each other’s daily lives, which continue on as usual – just without me.  They didn’t fall apart, so I obviously wasn’t the glue that held everything together.

What was it in that moment that hurt so much it took four days to feel?  I didn’t matter.  I didn’t matter then and I don’t matter now that I’m gone – the family goes on without me or without missing a beat.  Like riding a bike, running away felt natural, something once you learn how to do you never forget no matter how long it’s been since you last did it.  And the response was usual  - without protest and unwanted – as have every relationship I’ve been in except with my children.  I’ve ran away from just about everyone in my life – parents, siblings, first fiancée, husband, friends, and careers and not once has anyone ever tried to stop me.  Not once has anyone fought for me. I will never stay where I’m not wanted.  I tried to stand in that heat for 20 years, all I got was burned. But today I remind myself – I didn’t break up my family – my ex gave up on me almost from the beginning.  It just took 20 years for me to give up and learn to love myself enough to care about me, what I need, what I want.  Just as my muscles hurt when I returned to riding a bike after 20 years, running away hurt too.  But, it won’t hurt forever.  Just as my muscles acclimate to its new workout, I too shall acclimate to my new life.  It’s like riding a bike and other unforgettable responses.

I still remember the mission and reason for my escape.  Someday someone will love me enough, and I will matter enough, that they’ll stop me, hold me, and never let me go. Until then, I’ll endure the pain of heartache as others come and go in my life, but I’ll enjoy the breeze on my face and revel in the healthy results as I peddle into my new life.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

The Pick Up Line by T.L. Gray

The Pick Up Line by T.L. Gray

Monday, July 28, 2014

Moving On

Moving On

These last few weeks have been hell, literally back-breaking turmoil.  However, it’s all over and done.  I’m now moved into my new place, everything has been put away, hung, stored, discarded or utilized, so I can now focus on my life.  Moving became top priority and everything else, because I was misplaced, divided, and scattered, became second place.  I have tons of unread email, I haven’t read, written, or promoted anything, my dating life disappeared, I’ve enjoyed no outdoor activities, haven’t seen or really spoken to my friends, and simply the last three weeks have been one big blur.

As I drifted off to sleep last night, I finally faced some things that I’ve been able to put on the back burner through this move.  Hard things.  Painful realizations.  But, today is a new day, and this day marks a new phase in my life.  I’ve been through a lot of those these last couple of years, and quite frankly I’m tired of them. I’d like a little bit of normal, but I know that’s futile.  Normal has never related to me, so I’ve learned to roll with the punches.

I reminded myself why I’m even on this journey in the first place, why I disrupted what most people would say was a good, easy life.  It was picture perfect on the outside, the model of the American dream, but inside I was lost.  I took that leap of faith, disrupted the fantasy, and have been through some amazing changes – some good, some bad, but all forward.  I was starting to become lost again – forgetting my main mission (to live a life of adventure and be loved, wanted, and desired) and sacrificing my own needs to help fulfill others.  But not today.  Today is a new day of a new phase in my life, and today… today I choose me.

I woke up this morning , after spending a night in tears saying goodbye to those things that have been holding me back, things I didn’t want to face, with a smile on my face and renewed determination in my heart.  It’s time I got back to me.  During my workout this morning (which I’m so glad to have all my equipment available) I felt the release with every drop of sweat, every burn of muscle, every measured breath.  I said ‘goodbye’ and ‘hello’ at the same time.

So, this is the start of a new year for me, having just turned 43 a few days ago, a new phase, a new beginning. I’m moving on. I’m leaping into the air.  Watch me fly away!

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Sunday, July 27, 2014

The Pick Up Line

Here's a snippet of my latest publication.  It's one of my favorite short stories.  Please visit and check it out and the rest of the awesome stories published there.

Here's a snippet:

The Pick Up Line’ by T.L. Gray

Sidney couldn’t get her Mustang to go fast enough around the twisting, winding, and lonely back roads. She did all she could to avoid the traffic of interstates frequented by worker bees and corporate zombies, choosing instead to take the long route. Lost in thought of the life she’d fled, the roadside bar suddenly appeared like a ghost in the misty rain.

She turned off the car’s engine and gazed blankly at the dilapidated building. Her body ached all over as she climbed out of the car and walked toward the entrance. Sidney reached for the rusted knob on the ramshackled door. Just before she touched it, she hesitated, took a deep breath, and wrapped her fingers around the knob.

The name Jake’s splayed in cracked, faded red paint across the face of the muddied panes. It wasn’t a hip or happening place judging from the lack of cars in the graveled parking lot, but it looked the way she felt – neglected, forgotten, and run down. She opened the door and stepped into darkness.

As her eyes adjusted to the surroundings, Sidney cast a glance over the place, pleased to find it almost deserted. A middle-aged, fat, bald, brawny brute stood behind the bar staring up at a flat monitor on the wall. He threw a quick glance at her, but immediately returned his attention back to the basketball game. Another man, younger than the bartender, sat at the far end, his fingers tapping his beer bottle in tandem with this right leg bobbing up and down. He seemed consumed with the game playing across the screen.- See more at:

Friday, July 25, 2014

Good Conversations

I had the best birthday yesterday and that joy had nothing to do with the presents I received, though I did get a few of those (a hand-made bracelet, a Superman book and doll, and a new bicycle).   What made my day so special were the great conversations I had.  The people I love most in the world took time out of their lives to connect with me.  My smile never stopped from the messages of love and birthday wishes I received throughout the day from my friends and family. Watching my youngest daughter beam with pride as we had dinner together and talked about her plans for the future, melted my heart.  It truly was one of my happiest moments.  To know this beautiful young woman loves and trusts me enough to share the important things in her life, touched me deeply.  I could never do that with my parents. I cherish the good conversations we have.

My two best girlfriends are like the greatest listeners in the world, and they tell me the truth – what I need to hear, not what I want to hear.  They both love me and put up with all my crazy drama.  What’s ironic is that they’re both extreme introverts, rarely leaving their own homes and neither have relationships of their own. They’re the two smartest women I’ve ever met, but have no idea why they chose me to be their friend. I’m an extroverted extrovert. I’ll talk to the trees if they’ll talk back.  When they say opposites attract… that seems to be true with friendships too.

My best guyfriends are also two of the smartest and wisest men I’ve ever known, and who also tell me the truth – what I need to hear and not what I want to hear.  They both love me dearly and I’m pretty sure I drive them insane in with all my drama.  Wait… I’m starting to see a pattern here.  They too are extreme introverts, don’t hang out with a bunch of friends, and rarely stray from their daily routines.  One wants to be a porn star while the other wants to start his own cult, yet they think I’m the crazy one.  Former or current badass soldiers who think they’ve done it all – they both now get to sit back and watch this firecracker jump into the unknown with as much bravery as they possess.  I love them for remembering me on my birthday, and sharing important things in their life with me.  That’s the greatest compliment anyone can give – to share a part of themselves.

Then there’s this smart, funny, sarcastic, handsome guy who called me.  When I start talking to him I can’t stop laughing.  He keeps me in stitches.  He tells me he can only talk for a minute and 3 and half hours later finds it hard to say ‘good night’.  We talk about everything and nothing.  But I’ve discovered one of the most romantic things that could happen to and with a writer …(take notes for any of you out there considering dating a writer), and that is …reading to one another.  Listening to the original voice of the writer to one of your favorite pieces – priceless.  Reading some of your best, most intimate work to someone else – also priceless.  The words a writer puts into a story is a part of them, a part of their soul, a part of their gift.  While we share those words with the world through postings and publications, we are in essence sharing a part of our souls.  Reading to one another – is also sharing, just on a more intimate level.  

All the beautiful, wonderful birthday wishes I received on Facebook, in my e-mail, Linked-In, Goodreads, and Twitter truly made me feel special yesterday.  I am truly blessed because I’m surrounded by people who I can have some good conversations.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray1

Thursday, July 24, 2014

My Birthday Wish

What does one wish for when they don’t believe in wishes anymore?

I’m not being sarcastic, just realistic.  Somewhere over the recent past I stopped wishing and praying for things and just started doing them.  Have they all been the right things?  No.  I’ve made a lot of mistakes, but I have no regrets. I’ve also had some great adventures.   I’ve learned a lot, especially from my mistakes.  I’ve met some of the wrong people, who may have been the wrong person for me, but even in and within them I learned important things about myself.

I’ve remembered important things I had forgotten, and have forgotten things I wanted to remember.  I have loved with my whole heart and survived not having that love returned.  I’ve learned to breathe when all the air has been sucked out of the room.  I’ve learned to smile when I’ve felt like dying.  I’ve learned to stand still in the middle of a raging storm.  I’ve learned to push through the pain when my body has reached its limit.  I’ve learned to face unimaginable heights with anticipation instead of fear.  I’ve learned how to brace myself and stay in the boat through raging waters.  I’ve learned that sometimes hiding is the best defense, because it means you survive in the end.  I’ve learned how to be alone and that be okay. I’ve learned to hold myself, and that be enough.  I’ve learned there is beauty in a gray world, even if the darkest members can’t see the beautiful light within themselves.  I’ve learned there are a lot of fucked up people in this world and I’m not so different.  Yet, I’ve also learned there are a lot of liars and most people have no idea who they are or what they want.

The greatest thing I’ve learned is it’s better to live than to exist.  It’s better to try and fail than not try at all.  Some would see my life as a mess, and they wouldn’t be wrong, but it’s a beautiful mess. I’m alive.  I’m living.  I’m experiencing the good and bad of life.  I’ve done some amazing and terrible things and I don’t have much to show for it, but each of these experiences have made me the person I am today.

· I flew across the country to be with a dear friend, experience a new place, and explore a part of myself I never knew.  It was a kickoff to my independence, it was my plunge into the unknown.

· I’ve lost nearly 100lbs through hard work, determination, and devotion to ME, and I look and feel great. I don’t diet. I take no medication. I’m not perfect and know I still have more work to do, but I know I have what it takes. I’m not trying to win a beauty contest, but I feel sexy and beautiful, even if no one else agrees.  I love being healthy.  I love being strong.  Health and fitness are now a very important part of my life – because I care about me and believe I deserve to be healthy and beautiful.

· I’ve learned to enjoy food, to cook and create a piece of art with color, flavor and texture.  I don’t fear it or use it as a tool for destruction as I once had.

· I’ve learned to write for me, to be open and honest with the gift I’ve been given.  I stopped trying to control it, and it is so much more satisfying.

· I’ve learned to do the things I enjoy whether there’s anyone to share that adventure or not.  Most of my adventures I’ve had to take alone, but through others I’ve met some great new friends.

· I’ve hiked many miles,

· I’ve climbed mountains,

· I’ve ridden white rapids,

· I’ve soared through clouds,

· I’ve ran a few races,

· I’ve played a few games,

· I’ve kissed a few frogs,

· I’ve hung out with a company of heroes,

· I’ve worshiped a god,

· I’ve dreamed a new story,

· I’ve grieved a lost love,

· I’ve became a best friend,

· I’ve moved to a new place,

· I’ve got a new job,

· I’ve rode on the back of a bike,

· I’ve stormed a castle and defended it,

· I’ve felt butterflies

Not a bad year for a 42-year old if I say so myself.  So, what does a girl wish for when wishing never made anything happen? I’ve learned that jumping in and doing it seems to work just fine.  I can’t wait to see what year 43 has in store for me.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray – the birthday girl

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Flirting With Death

I’m a natural flirt.  Most of the time my flirting means absolutely nothing and I have only playful intentions.  When men sometimes respond to my flirtations, I’m often surprised and can’t understand where their interest is coming from, because I just see myself as being funny. In that sense I often flirt with everyone, even women, and I’m in no way gay.  I don’t have anything against being gay, I’m just not personally attracted to women.  Quite the contrary. I definitely like manly men, tough guys, not big bulky guys, but tough attitudes, confidence, intelligence, with a high nerd factor. A soldier’s uniform will make me do a double take in a heartbeat. Okay, I’m getting off topic.  That’s a post for another day (which I should write soon for my New Bachelorette: Dating over 40 series).

But what I want to talk about this morning is ‘flirting with Death’.  In my observations there are many of us who flirt with Death regularly, even if we don’t know it.  We can be the happiest, most confident person, but have this twisted sense of adventure – tempting Death, daring him to notice us.  We often don’t realize that’s what we’re doing, but it is and it’s what brings that thrill we’re looking for.

I tempt Death with all my extreme activities.  I regularly participate in outdoor events that require a personal health waiver. Why is it such a thrill for me?  In my meditation this morning, I’ve come to realize it’s because I’m flirting with the off limits, even Death himself, because testing my mortality makes me feel most alive. I’m not claiming it’s rational or even sensible, just the facts of the matter.

I’ve seen many of my friends flirting with Death by looking for a certain feeling, for that spark of life.  They go from person to person being very sexually promiscuous, never using protection, all because they’re frustrated with life and unsatisfied.  They love the meet, the thump of the beat, the dance, and the fantasy,  but when the song changes, they change partners and keep dancing.  They’re facing Death with every dance; not only theirs, but their partners too.

I’ve seen soldiers who’ve been in combat desire to be back on the front lines.  They become frustrated with their mundane, everyday routine so they seek thrills in many various ways, pushing themselves to extreme limits.

We all want to feel alive.  But what we need to realize is that we don’t have to flirt with Death to do it.  He’s nondiscriminatory. He’s definitely not the answer.  I will continue to seek my thrills.  But as I’m become happier with myself and my life, tempting Death isn’t as much an appeal to me.  I’ve got too much to live for.  Will I let it keep me grounded?  Hell no!  But I will smile at Death with more respect.  Should he one day claim me, I hope it will be as friends after a well-lived life.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray  

Monday, July 21, 2014

Cycling Trivialities

My post this morning is inspired by Jose Gonzalez’ song “Cycling Trivialities”.  You can listen to it here on YouTube…

How often do we spend our lives chasing things over and over in a vicious cycle that has no meaning, that bring nothing into our lives? Insignificance is what steals our joy.  But I have to be careful to not discard those things, those hard things, or even those simple things, that have filled my life with meaning.  On the surface they may have seemed insignificant, but often held the most importance of all.

I can’t get a quote out of my head that my friend, Sergeant Solano, wrote to me last week.  “Just because you do the right things, doesn’t mean you’re right.  History determines if you made the right choices, and that great revelation doesn’t come until the end of your life, right before the clarity of regret shows you the light.”

I’m turning 43 this week.  It’s not a big deal.  I’m not one of those women who shy away from their age.  Probably because I feel and look younger, which is also probably why most of my dates tend to be younger than me, too. I suppose I’m just too energetic, too active, with a sense of too much to do for some older man ready to retire and relax.  I’ve just got started.

The only thing that makes me apprehensive about my age is knowing the clock is ticking down.  I’ve watched 43 years move by me and I’ve done some great and terrible things. I’ve experienced joy and pain. I’ve witnessed horror and beauty.  I’ve loved and lost.  I’ve laughed and cried.  I’ve lived and died.  All of it has made me who I am.

Could I have made better choices?  Sure.  Looking back we can always see where we could have changed our lives, but that’s not how life works.  Those bad choices, or bad circumstances, helped make me who I am. I have very few regrets, because I know I’ve mostly lived my life honestly, being me.  Fearing bad choices keeps us from making any choice.  I can’t live like that – no one can. That’s not living… that’s going around and around in a cycling triviality… and it’s stealing our lives. If I could tell my 23 or 33 year old self what I know now, I could have saved myself a lot of heartache.  But then again, I wouldn’t be me.

There are some choices I would love to make, but they’re are not up to me.  They involve other people and their free will.  I can’t make someone else love me, choose me, or want me. If I could, I’d make the whole world love me.  I was loved once, but couldn’t see it because I was busy looking for a dream, a fantasy, an idea - I was searching for a feeling, a magical knowing, chasing a cycling triviality. I couldn't recognize the real thing right in front of me.

We fool ourselves into thinking we know what we want and create this image of perfection in our minds, and quickly dismiss anything that doesn’t fit that fantasy.  I got to see real love in front of me in the face of a determined soldier, got to feel the completeness of that love for two whole days, and then he was taken from me. But, even that taught me something very important.  The best way I could honor that love is to see myself the way my lost soldier saw me, to love myself with that unwavering love.  The way he loved me, never giving up, is the way I choose to love.  I think that if he could see me now he’d be so proud of the way I pulled myself out of that darkness and am now putting myself out there.  He’d want me to find another love.  Perhaps he will be the one to send him my way.

What have I truly learned from my own cycling trivialities? Outward beauty fades, bodies get old, faces get wrinkled, and no one is perfect.  Sex is great but has little to do with love.  The best things in life are when you touch a soul, stimulate the mind, laugh, see the world with peculiar eyes, notice the light in someone, and understand they’re more than a name, a face - that they matter, that you matter.  That’s really all that is important.  Everything else can be worked out.   How many divorces or failed relationships do we have to experience before we stop the insanity of looking for the same thing over and over and over, yet expecting it all to work out differently? Cycling Trivialities.  Let history determine that you lived honestly, openly, and took the biggest gamble of all – to love and be loved.


Too blind to know your best.
Hurrying through the forks without regrets.
Different now, every step feels like a mile.
All the lights seem to flash and pass you by.

So how's it gonna be.
When it all comes down you're cycling trivialities.

Don't know which way to turn.
Every trifle becoming big concerns.
All this time you were chasing dreams,
without knowing what you wanted them to mean.

So how's it gonna be.
When it all comes down you're cycling trivialities.
So how's it gonna be.
When it all comes down you're cycling trivialities.

Who cares in a hundred years from now.
All the small steps, all your shitty clouds.
Who cares in a hundred years from now.
Who'll remember all the players.
Who'll remember all the clowns.

So how's it gonna be.
When it all comes down you're cycling trivialities.

So what does this really mean.
When it all comes down you're cycling trivialities.
Cycling trivialities.
Cycling trivialities

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Thursday, July 17, 2014

Clarity of Regret

Clarity of Regret

“Just because you do right things, doesn’t mean they’re right.  History determines if you’ve made the right choices, and that great revelation doesn’t come until the end of your life – right before clarity of regret shows you the light.” ~ Titier E. Solano

What I’d like to have right now is clarity of mind.  Have you ever heard something that upon first hearing you felt it had more depth than you currently possessed in order to understand it?  That’s how it was this morning when my friend said the previous words to me.

I consider myself extremely lucky to be surrounded by such wise philosophers.  They’re not all writers, they’re not world famous, but they’re all geniuses and I hold them in the highest regard.  Some respect others for what they can contribute financially, socially, or even emotionally to the world, but I absolutely admire those who possess a great mind, who think beyond the surface, who can touch my soul.  Titles are good.  Ranks are highly respected.  Degrees are admirable.  Introspection and wisdom don’t require any of those things.  

I’ve been moving all week packing boxes, loading boxes, unloading boxes, and then unpacking those same boxes, to either discard or reuse them. I move all those items around and around, looking for the new spot where they now belong.  When I’m doing manual labor, my mind often delves deep within the psyche and I question sometimes even the basics of human truth.  I admire a sexy body, I adore a beautiful smile, but there’s nothing I appreciate more than a clever, wise, and stimulating mind.

A body is just a shell.  It can be changed, manipulated, grow old and wrinkly, or become scarred and damaged.  I could never love someone simply for their flesh.  Yet so much emphasis is put on that outward meat suit. I would say that a majority of our society can’t get passed it, never seeing the beautiful soul beneath it. I sometimes see a beautiful soul long before I see a handsome face.  Perhaps my view is a little different having grown up with disabled parents.  At an early age I was able to see the humanity behind skin and bones – and realize that a person is the soul that wears the flesh, not the flesh itself. It’s a person’s mind and heart that makes decisions, expresses emotions, and to which we truly connect.  Though it is a physical pair of strong arms that I crave and sometimes allow to hold me – the reason it feels so good is because of the soul that chose to wrap those arms around me. I’ve felt the intrusive abuse of an unwanted touch. While I despised the flesh that violated me, it was the soul of my violator I hated most – the source of the choice.

But what of our choices?  Back to the initial quote at the start of this post.  What’s the point of making choices if we don’t know whether those choices are right or wrong until they’ve been proven as such at the end of our life?  If we cannot control the ultimate outcome, why should we then be concerned with our choices at all today?  What seems right today, may at the end of history be proven wrong.  If I can’t truly know, or can’t see the end of it all, why do I sometimes torture myself in worry over making a wrong choice?

You don’t know how many times I’ve let life slip passed me because of indecision – by being too afraid to make a choice. NOTHING happens in indecision.  Fear of mistakes leads to that petrification.  But, I’m learning something very valuable and very liberating – even my mistakes are better than indecision, because even in my mistakes I’m alive, I’m moving, I’m more than just existing.  Mr. Solano responded to my Good Morning World post that ended with ‘I’m at least living’ with, “Many things live …”  I responded, “It’s more than just existing.  To be aware, to move like water in a river is better than stagnation.  It’s purifying and better than a pond – which turns briny, evaporates in the heat, and breeds bitterness.” His response is the quote listed above.  His words stirred my soul this morning.

I learn from mistakes. Yes, my heart has been broken so bad I don’t know if I can ever find all the missing pieces.  It’s left me so marred I’m a pitiful mess full of cracks, and I’ve done the best I can to haphazardly glue myself back together. Not just emotionally, but physically too.  I’ve still got a lot of work to do, but I’ve come a long way.  At times,  I’m so damned scared that another fall will turn these cracked pieces to a fine dust and I’ll just blow away and not a single soul on this earth will care. But being afraid leaves me indecisive.  Indecision leaves me stagnant.  Stagnation slowly kills me.  So what if I make another mistake? So what if I love the wrong person?  So what if I get hurt again?  At least I lived, and moved, and breathed, and felt something.  I’m so afraid to feel because I’ve experienced so much pain.  But, I’m more afraid NOT to feel. Closing off my heart and putting up walls doesn’t protect me… it kills me.   How do I let them down?  I want to blow them up with some dynamite (btw – invented by Alfred Nobel) and carve out a new path of liberation.

I don’t want the clarity of regret to consume me at the end of my life because I filled it with indecisions due to fear, or I sat around and waited for the perfect person or opportunity to come my way.  There is no perfection. What if the imperfect person in front of me is the perfect person for me?  I understand that the things I want may not work out -  that I could lose again, that I’ll fuck up and make a huge mistake, that I’ll get my heart broke again – but at least I’ll also have loved and lived.  Can I walk away and leave everything behind for love?  Yes, I KNOW I can, it’s what I’ve been doing the last couple of years – when the person I fell in love with has been Me.  How much more could I do it for someone else?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Monday, July 14, 2014

Dear John ...I Mean Adam

Dating is hard.  Those who think it’s a walk in the park, fun, a piece of cake, or the best thing since sliced bread is either starving themselves to fit into that size 4 or else live in a fantasy world.  It’s not that the process is difficult, anything can be figured out and utilized for maximum effect, but the key is working with the right ingredients.  If you haven’t been able to figure out those metaphors by this time, then reading the rest of this post isn’t going to do you any good – it’s going to be full of ‘em.  You might as well stop right now and go read something simple and mindless because that will be more your speed.

I’ve recently read a wonderful “Dear Jane” letter that this arrogant, though slightly good-looking, blogger by the name of Adam Hornyak.  It, at first, made me burst out laughing at the absurdity splattered line after line as he degraded his dates as air-headed bimbos, until I took inventory of some of my fellow female companions currently out on the dating field, and sadly I could see his point.  Mind you, none of it pertained to me, of course, but still… women are not the only bad dates.  I’ve been on several tragic dates over the past few months.  Don’t get me wrong, some have been great, but more bad than good, and even the good obviously wasn’t that good or else I wouldn’t still be single.

Thanks to Hornyak’s example, I’ve been inspired to write my own satirical “Dear John” letter, or perhaps in this case I’ll use, “Dear Adam” and lay out some of my own dating grievances.  This won’t be the only letter, because there’s plenty of things I would like to address in future posts.  I’ll only tackle a few tonight and more over the weeks ahead.  So, stay tuned and come back as the story goes forward.  You must also go check out the letter that sparked this new quest at:  Don’t forget to leave a comment and let Adam know what you thought of his letter.  And please remember… I’m not REALLY writing this to Adam. So far, we’ve never dated.  So please don’t stalk him or harass him for treating me badly.  And if you’re one of his crazy stalker fans, I’m sure he’d like to keep you in his fan base, not mine.  There’s nothing to see here.

Dear John, umm… I mean, Adam,

I’ve decided to write you a letter instead of talking to you face to face, because I find my thoughts become jumbled when I look into those dark, sexy eyes or follow the curves of your beautiful 6’2” frame.  I added the height reference in there so one of my male friends will have some more fodder to use when he gripes and complains about how all women only like tall men. I wish height was the factor that made assholes, that way I’d gladly skip certain measurements. But, getting back on topic -  I’ll go through the day making a list of some very important topics I’d want to talk about with you, but never quite get the chance to discuss them because you purposefully distract me to keep from talking about them.  I know you do it on purpose, but I can’t help it when those beautiful full lips of yours instantly find mine, and my neck, and my shoulders… and, well… I become dizzy, not to mention I find your strong hands running up and down my body quite distracting.  But after I give in to your distraction and I’m lying in your arms ready to share those heavy things on my mind, I hear you snoring. I’m not complaining about the physical chemistry between us, that’s about the only thing I truly enjoy.  What you can do to my body is amazing, you’re like a god, but it’s the rest of the time we’re together where I’ve got some real issues.  We can’t just stay in bed all day.   You’re missing the best parts of me, well, now you’ll be missing all of me.

I’m an extremely intelligent woman.  I have ideas, dreams, philosophies, theories, opinions, and contemplations that could possibly change the world. I’ve got goals to complete. But how would you know?  You don’t listen when I talk.  When I share things with you, important things that mean the world to me, you’re either watching a game, or a lame ass movie on television, or you start playing with my boobs.   I know you’re used to dating mindless mannequins, therefore only practiced at the art of using your little brain, but it’s quite insulting when you assume I’m manufactured in the same way. I’m unique. I’m one of a kind.  There’s not another like me. Yeah, boobs may come in different shapes and sizes, but they’re essentially the same. But the soul that turns inside me is so much more sexier than what’s on my chest.  You haven’t quite figured out that the brain is the largest sex organ in the body and the heart is the most beautiful part of a person.

“Baby, I’m tired of the same old patterns and want something different, something challenging. You make me want to be a better man.”  Bull shit!  You don’t know what the hell you want.  What happened to being attracted to me for my sense of humor, my thirst for adventure, my intelligence, and my collection of hats?  You pretended to be someone you’re not.  You were amazing on that first date.  I had a great time riding down those rapids with you.  I found it endearing as you put your arms around me and stole a kiss. You repeated my profile back to me, showing me you listened.  That night you sent me a dozen texts just to say goodnight. You made me feel special. You made me think you truly cared about me. You lied.

The next few weeks were also great.  “Good morning, Beautiful,” and “I woke up smiling because you were the star of my dreams last night,” filled my inbox with the sunrise.  “I can’t wait ‘til I see you again, and taste your sweet lips and hear your beautiful voice,” and “Good night, Babe, sweet dreams,” dinged my phone every night.  During the day I’d get a sporadic, “Thinkin’ about you, Babe” or “Check out this song, it made me think of you,” or “I can’t concentrate on this meeting because I’m thinking about that awesome quote you sent me.  Man, that was deep.” You don’t know how many smiles you sent me throughout the day.  Now all I get is an occasional late night, “Hey, I’m so horny, wanna fuck?” or “Why are you so co-dependent that you need me to tell you good morning and good night?  That’s not healthy and it’s not fair for you to put that kind of pressure on me,” or “I can’t text you while I’m working, that’s not professional.  I’ll talk to you when I get home.” I guess you never went home, because I never got those texts, or calls, or emails.  Suddenly you’re always tired or you just don’t answer at all.  I got the message – loud and clear.  You see, I’m not a mannequin.  I’m fully aware.

I stopped texting you weeks ago, only responding when you text me first, but you haven’t even noticed. The song links stopped coming, too. I haven’t asked you about those because I wouldn’t want to see the type of songs you’d send me now.  Instead of coming over so I could cook you a gourmet meal, you wanted to go to IHOP instead.  When I wanted to take a day trip on the back of a Harley, something we had discussed for weeks and you said you absolutely wanted to do, you made the excuse that you broke your toe and it wouldn’t be a good idea.  That excuse also went for the hike and paddle boarding we had planned as well. I noticed the last time we had flash sex (because it sure as hell didn’t feel like making love, and it was over in a flash.  I haven’t climaxed in weeks)… you couldn’t last as long because you were out of breath and out of shape.  I take it that broken toe has also kept you out of the gym and off the track.

I’m sorry, but this isn’t working for me.  I need a man that will not only stimulate and please my body, but will blow my mind… and you just don’t have what it takes. Perhaps you should give those plastic mannequins another shot because they seem to be more on your level.  You tell yourself you want a woman that can think for herself and push you beyond your limits to make you a better man, but how can you really want that when you’re so independent, don’t need anyone, already think you’re perfect, and know everything there is to know?

What you don’t know is that you’ve already lost me, you don’t deserve someone like me, and I’m way out of your league.  But, hey… let’s stay friends, because we all know when a man says that he wants to still be your friend after he’s bored with you, what he really means is that when he’s horny you’re his back-up plan.  He’ll call if he doesn’t have anyone else lined up, or he just needs someone to talk to when he’s lonely and his brainless mannequins can’t stimulate him in the same way.  I’m open to you being my special friend when I get bored, until a real man comes along, if you are.

With much affection,

~Jane, I mean, T.L.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Worth the Fight

Being single has its benefits.  Being single with adult children has even greater benefits. One of those is that you make a lot of  new single friends and your life becomes centered on you and all the things you’ve always wanted to do.  All your married friends, or friends with small children, now have different responsibilities and lifestyles.  That doesn’t mean you won’t still be friends, it just means that for a while you won’t have much in common and walk in different circles.

With these new single friends, you’ll find different levels of philosophies, values, and ideas of what a relationship is all about.  However, if those of us who are single knew the secret to relationships would we be single? There’s a bunch of people who tell themselves their singlehood was their choice.  While that is partially true, someone else was involved in that decision.

One of my single male friends once told me, “Romance and love have nothing to do with each other.  Love is more important than romance.  Romance messes up a relationship. You do stupid things, start having expectations of the other person and yourself, you both put each other in boxes, and people start thinking they own one another.  Real love is something that is so much more valuable.”  This single friend says that as soon as he starts to feel ‘possessed’ by a woman it makes him despise that relationship and he longs to be free.  He admits that he doesn’t think he could ever be completely monogamous to one woman.

I truly think he believes this.  It breaks my heart, because he looks at monogamy as enslavement, and can’t see the beauty of a woman giving him her heart, choosing him to share her life with – her ups, her downs, her body, her passions, her time, her talents, her hopes, and her dreams. Some of these will be fun and others will be heavy. She doesn’t share them to ‘possess’ him, but so they can share one another.  She gives herself to him because she trusts him.  A woman shouldn’t share those  parts of herself with someone who won’t share those same parts back with her.  Because that’s how he values her – by trusting her with himself.  When my friend says he doesn’t think he could ever be monogamous, I don’t think it has anything to do with sex.  He’s saying he’ll never trust a woman enough to give her his whole heart.  I think it’s cruel to ask a woman to share any part of herself knowing he’ll never share his whole heart with her.  It’s a disaster waiting to happen and selfish.

I have another single male friend who is looking for that special feeling with a woman without the complications.  He says there has to be a balance, to never be in a relationship where her problems are bigger than yours – and to keep life simple.  I don’t know if this is sadder than the example above, but it’s pretty sad.  I’m still trying to figure out which one of us really believes in fairy tales.  Who doesn’t have issues and problems?  How unfair it is to put that kind of responsibility on the women he meets. Is he offering her a perfect man in return?  That’s one of the things that make me shake my head on these dating sites  - they ALL say they’re not looking for perfection, because they know they’re not perfect themselves – then ONLY hit on beautiful women or dismiss them on a single trait that doesn’t match their ‘perfect’ partner. (I know they do this – because I did.)

All of us are fucked up in one way or the other.  NONE of us have our lives perfect and we sure as hell don’t ALWAYS make the right decisions.  We all have pasts, we all have fears, we all have weaknesses.  There is no perfect woman out there that’s just going to walk into his life .   There’s perfect opportunities for him to invest his heart, his time, his life into loving a woman, giving her his heart, and finding perfect love between two imperfect people.  Her problems would be his quest to solve, not a reason to hid. His happiness would become her quest.

Like I said earlier, I’m not sure which one of us believes in the fairy tales.  I watch these men expect unrealistic expectations in the woman of their dreams, yet not realize the best one for them is the one they have to fight for and fight with.  It’s the one that makes them laugh and pisses them off at the same time.  It’s the one that makes them question themselves and pushes them to their limits, even though they see it as an irritation. It’s the one that loves them for who they are and isn’t trying to change them.  It’s not the one that only evokes a fantasy in the bedroom, but the one when the bottom falls out that he reaches out to protect because he can’t imagine life without her – her smile, her laugh, her dumb jokes, her stupid ideas or any of her weird quirks.

Now I could go on and on about my single male friends and how I think they’re philosophies are a little warped, but I won’t.  I love them dearly just as they are, degenerate minds and all. I actually feel bad for them mostly because I’ve met a LOT of single women lately and listened to THEIR relationship philosophies… and if I were a man – I’d run!!!  I’d run and hide and never come out.  The things I hear some women say they want, the things I see them do, and philosophies that come out of many of their lipsticked mouths, I understand why men think the way they do.

I’m beginning to agree with my friend above that says love between friends is much better than lovers… and my other friend’s idea to keep your life simple.  While I’m no longer on the dating sites, I’m still dating - I’m dating the most exciting, interesting, and adventurous person I’ve ever come to know – ME.  I’m living in the moment and doing what pleases me in that particular moment.  I’m giving my heart to her, doing the things that please her, that makes her happy. I want to make her dreams come true, I want to fight her battles, I want to stand up to her enemies, I want to see her succeed, I want to make her laugh, I want her to know she’s beautiful and she’s worthy to be loved… and that her problems are worth battling.  She’s worth the fight.

Till next time,

Wednesday, July 09, 2014

Where To From Here?

Have you ever been in one of those transitional states where the past is almost behind you, but you’ve not quite stepped squarely into your future?  I hate that place of transition – but it seems that’s where life is lived – in a moment of transition.

I’ve been here for a while now.  I’m not complaining.  I’m moving. I’m breathing. I’m feeling both anguish and hope, but the key is that I’m feeling.  I’m awake. I’m aware.  I’m not just existing from moment to moment, counting down the days to the weekend, to reach the weekend and have it pass in a haze.

A very close Sergeant  friend of mine seems to live in the day.  I admire that.  I’ve been working hard trying to apply that to my life, to focus only on the here and now and what I can do to make my life better, happier, and more full in the day, in the moment.  The moments I’ve been able to do this have resulted in some very awesome adventures.   But this way of thinking goes against my very nature.  I’m a planner… I like to make lists and count all the costs of time, energy, heart and money before I start anything.  This is how I’ve been taught.  Responsibility, excellence, and accountability were drilled into me so fully that I already had everything figured out before I made the ‘leap of faith’.  (Yes, there was a hint of sarcasm in the oxymoronic example.)

The true Leap of Faith I took when deciding to live my own life – for me – landed me flat on my face. It had me questioning everything I ever thought or believed.  It forced me to look at myself honestly.  Who likes to do that?  The woman reflected back at me broke my heart.  I hated who she had become because she wasn’t herself.  She didn’t know who she was or what she wanted.  She’d spent too much of her life trying to please and take care of everyone else – her god, husband, children, pastors, church, family, job, career, fans, etc.  Only as each of those things were snatched out of her hands (and literally all of them did at one point) did she face the fact she couldn’t save or help anyone until she saved and helped herself.

So, that’s what I’ve been doing.  I’ve been loving me and taking care of myself in every way.  I’m establishing a relationship with myself.  I’m learning my likes, dislikes, fears, hopes, values, ideals, dreams, limits, pleasures, capabilities, weaknesses, sensibilities, desires, etc.  I’m dating myself, and I have to say I really like the woman I’m turning out to be.  I’m crazy, I’m passionate, I’m hungry to live, I’m adventurous, I’m imaginative, I’m sexy, I’m low maintenance but high class, I’m honest, and I’m brave.  I’m often afraid, but I face my fears – especially facing the truth.  I’m compassionate, optimistic – yet stoic and realistic.  As one friend recently told me – I’m a contradiction of contradictory contradiction.  I will stand against a tempest and beat my chest in defiance, yet curl into a ball and wish to close my eyes and drift from existence all in the same day. I love deeply, yet believe I’m unlovable.  I’m not afraid of confrontation.  I hurt honestly.  I’m not always right (oh, boy do I know that) but I’m always wrong – honestly. I can admit my mistakes. I don’t try to hide my failures, embarrassments, or mistakes – but own them and try to learn from them.  I overthink and question everything.  I’m a mess.  But I’m never boring and often quite funny.

So, where to from here?

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, July 08, 2014

Broken Receptors

I believe my receptors into humanity are broken because I don’t think I understand the world anymore. Perhaps I’ve spent too much time reading and writing in the fantasy world that I’ve lost touch with the real one.  Before my friends start jumping on the bandwagon and flooding my inbox with messages wanting to know what’s happened, I can say, “nothing’s happened”… seriously, nothing.  It’s just another of those existential moments, a culmination of several weeks, months, and even years of data being processed.

I look at the relationships in my life and see which ones have failed and which ones have lasted and I believe I can pinpoint the problems all stemming from either a strong or weak connection of the mind and soul, and on some levels even the body.  I have some friends whose words, inspirations, and actions touch my very soul.  They’re absolutely beautiful to me because of this link.  When I see their faces pop up on my phone it isn’t a pair of eyes, a set of dimples, or a crazy-ass smile I see – it’s wisdom, knowledge,  awe, respect, admiration, integrity, compassion, excellence, truth, trust, and deep love.  They’re beautiful to me.  I often call them beautiful, but I have no idea if they even understand what I’m saying.  I also have no idea what they see when my face pops up on their phones.  I very seriously doubt it’s anything similar.

I’ve always felt physically disconnected.  Always.  I rarely allow people to touch me, because that requires connection, it requires trust.  Don’t get me wrong. I don’t flip out if someone touches me, I just don’t initiate or put myself in a position to be touched if it can be avoided. Only a few times have I ever felt comfortable enough to where it seemed natural to touch.  Most of the time people interpret my reaction as disinterest or lack of attraction on my part – which would often be wrong.  But, in contradiction to that reaction and protection, I crave connection and I crave touch most of all. Yet, I’ve set up my life where I go weeks, even months, where I am not touched by another human being at all.  Almost on a daily basis my soul is enriched through the intellectual, psychological, and emotional connections I have with my friends (who are all far away from me and some have never touched me), yet there is no physical interaction.

As most of you know, I’ve tried to enter the dating world.  Can you imagine how that’s working out for someone who seeks those same type of connections I have with my friends and then add a physical connection (from someone who fears touch) to the mix?  Not very well. I think I’m actually going to put it away for a while, because frankly I’m just exhausted.  I don’t understand the world.  I don’t understand what people want.

Everyone, and I mean everyone, says they’re not looking for perfection, but they’re all liars. We’re all looking for the fantasy we fell in love with in our minds and when the people in front of us don’t live up to that fantasy, instead of changing the fantasy we change the person.  Perhaps because I’m a writer and know how to change the plot, change the scenery, and even change the main characters – I meet people with an open-mind and an ability to rewrite my fantasy – creating one around the person in front of me.  But how can I expect them to be able to do the same? The sad part  - I don’t.  I expect them to find the flaw that changes everything, destroys the fantasy, severs the connection, be the reason that gives them the excuse they need,  and then watch them walk away.

People say one thing, but their actions say another.  I meet men who say they’re looking for that deep connection, for a woman that will stir their minds and imaginations as well as their bodies,  but they can’t dig further than skin deep, going from pretty face to pretty face, beautiful body to beautiful body, waiting for lightning to strike, but dancing on a clear sunny day. They’ve got no idea why they haven’t found “the one” yet.  If you want lighting - you have to dance in the storm. You have to be willing to withstand the wind, the rain, and the thunder, but most of all days with no sunshine.  Who wants to deal with all that, really?  This is how I’m disconnected.  While I love the sunshine, I feel most alive in the storm.  I’m looking for that person who stirs my soul, irritates the hell out of me because they push my buttons and refuse to let me wallow in deception, self-denial, and inside a comfort zone, making me a better person and come to a better understanding.  Yet those are often the very reasons why I’m never ‘the one’.  Who wants complicated?  Isn’t life complicated enough?

I’m about to celebrate my 43rd birthday.  At this moment I’m tracing a small scar on my chest where a needle of adrenaline was shoved into my heart when I was 22 to get it back started and regain a connection with life.  While I’m having the most amazing adventures, I’m doing them all alone because I can’t seem to make a connection, or perhaps just the right connection. I place my hand flat on my chest and can feel the familiar thump and wonder why I’m still here.  For what purpose was I saved? I used to think there was a reason I survived, twice, really more than that if you count all the near-death experiences.  I once believed I would somehow make a difference in this world. I thought I was special.  I thought I was set apart for some great mission.

The truth is - I make no difference and I’m no different than anyone else. The world doesn’t need me and will continue to turn without me when I’m gone. I faced my mortality a long time ago.  I’m not talking about feeling or believing I’m worthless.  I’m very precious and valuable. I’m a mother.  I’m a contributing member of society.  I have self-esteem and believe in my abilities and talents.  I’m not depressed. I was once needed by my children and by family before that. I’m not needed by anyone now, and that’s not a bad thing.  I also don’t need anyone else. I love  many people, my friends, my children – but I don’t need them.  I go day by day, week by week, month by month taking care of myself, living my life often with only a text here, an email there, a call every once in a while – a connection of the heart and soul - and I love them for it.  But, there’s no one to touch me, to hold me, to wrap their arms around me and tell me everything is going to be okay – there’s a lost connection – one I’ve never been able to make and seriously doubt I ever will.

Please don’t inundate me with emails or messages and tell me my time will come and that there’s someone out there for me I just haven’t met them yet.  I was also told … Mothers love their children.  Fathers love their daughters.  Brothers love their sisters.  Husbands love their wives.  Sometimes there are just broken receptors.

Till next time

Monday, July 07, 2014

Turning a Blind Eye

This morning I engaged in a heavy discussion with a dear friend of mine who currently lives and works in a third world country for the Peace Corps.  There is a practice there where the young men of this village go through a 6-month initiation school to learn how to be a man and herd animals.  They are then sent out into the hills to put what they’ve been taught into practice.  As they go, they often ‘abduct’ a young girl from the village, take her to the mountains, gang rape her,  and then one of the boys (whichever the one has enough money/cows) will marry her.  They give the family an agreed upon price of cow/livestock/money in exchange for their daughter.  

My friend told me the story of a young girl who had been washing clothes by the river with the other women from the village when a group of herd boys on horses snatched up the young girl and took her into the mountains.  No one did anything because it’s the accepted practice in that remote and uneducated area.  My heart breaks for that young girl, not only for what she had to endure in those mountains, but for the life she will now have to live, married to one of her rapist, never given the choice or freedom to fall in love, be respected as a woman.  I understand the purpose of the practice – to exert dominion in order to control. It’s what all animals do. Men have been doing it since the beginning.

There’s something inside me that weeps and gets angry every time I hear stories like this.  Perhaps it’s because of my western upbringing, having been raised in a free society and know the taste of freedom.  It’s not that I don’t understand these people are just following their ingrained and long traditions.  But, do they have no soul?  Regardless of their ignorance of western civilization, our laws, and culture, there is an inner consciousness that knows when you hurt another human being that what you’re doing is wrong.

It would be easy for me to place the blame squarely on the ignorance of these young men or the culture in which they live, but it wouldn’t be fair or accurate to lay it only at their feet.  The only time that there has been a societal or cultural change in the treatment of women has occurred is when the women of that culture decided to make a change.  We contend with what we allow.  While the girl being raped has no choice in that activity, what she does from that point forward is her choice.  She either accepts it, or she fights back.  I’m not naïve and know that fighting back may cost her life.  I also know that change doesn’t happen with one battle over night, but several battles over generations.

While for some of us – the days of Hagar, Leah, Abigale and Tamar are over, for others that’s the reality of the day.  What an odd world we live, where paradise and purgatory occupy the same place.  I weep for the young girls who’ve ever experienced this type of brutality.  I also weep for the young men who were pressured or taught to engage in such activities in order to prove their manhood.  I weep for the society that accepts such practices, and I weep for a world who turns a blind eye.

Till next time,
~T.L. Gray

Tuesday, July 01, 2014

More of Heaven

Many of you that have followed this blog for some time have heard some of the ugly stories of the life I grew up in and the violence I had witnessed.  I have every human reason to hate, to be angry, to be a victim - yet I choose love.  Because of the hell I’ve experienced, I strive to fill my life with things that make this world beautiful, to feel a bit of heaven in the here and now.  I don’t care if you believe in Heaven or Hell, God or gods, or no god at all.  That’s not what this post is about.  I’m so sick of religion. I’m so sick of people hurting, killing, and being hateful to one another in the name of their religion – whether it be Muslim, Jew, Christian, Atheist, Liberal, Feminist, Conservative, Scientist, Gay, Straight, Black, White, or Zombie Survivalist … I’m sick of it all.  Everyone speaks for their god – but no one listens.  Their agenda is not about loving each other as human beings, but about being ‘right’.

I have my faith, and that belief is between me and my god, and it’s really none of anyone else’s business.  I share my beliefs with those  I consider my friends and are close to me, but I never try to force my faith or beliefs on them, or judge them for their own should it differ from mine.  I have to say, I’m pretty proud of the fact that I’m surrounded by beautiful people who love me and walk in many different faiths and beliefs.  I’m not threatened or offended by our differences. I embrace them and cherish our individuality.

It truly breaks my heart to see all this anger and hate in the world.  I know, I know… there’s no more hate now than there has ever been throughout history.  Each generation, each culture, each race, and each faith has their own horrid story of hate.  It still makes my stomach turn to know many of my ancestors were slaves and dehumanized, others were herded into gas chambers like cattle, and others were starved, abused, and tortured for standing up for their beliefs.  I’ve watched young girls being bought and sold as sex slaves, seen fathers and brothers shot during bad drug deals, mothers separated from their crying children to be hauled off to prison, women raped, men brutally beaten, and no one there to save them or make a difference.  For so many years I hated the idea of God because these things existed. I accused Him for their existence and found the whole world guilty of hypocrisy and lies.  I then realized I could be another one of those hypocrites, or I can choose to love instead.  I’m not saying there aren’t things I dislike, because I do, but I don’t allow hate to consume me.  I see people as human beings first before anything else.

What you may not know about me is that I’ve died twice, at least twice I know about and remember.  Perhaps more if some of the stories I heard as a child are true – like having to be rushed to the hospital at 6 months because I stopped breathing and turned blue – was told I almost succumbed to SIDS (Sudden Infant Death Syndrom) or riding on top of a car at 5 as my 6-year old brother drove through a field and a barbed-wire fence with me on top.  My childhood is filled with such stories of danger, (Wow, I think I understand where my desire for extreme activities come from now.)yet I am still alive.  But that has not always been the case.

When I was 4-years old I was attacked by a neighbors Doberman Pincher.  I received over 114 stitches in my head (I have a nasty scar as a reminder).  I remember the moment of the attack.  I remember the hospital.  I remember what it felt like when I stopped feeling, stopped hearing, stopped seeing, stopped smelling and stopped hurting.  I didn’t see a white tunnel or a bright light, but I did hear someone call me and I remember a feeling.  I can still feel it right now.  I can’t describe it, not in any sense to give it justice, only it was a knowing, a completeness, and what I believe was love.  

Before I get back to this feeling, let me tell you of the second time I died.  This is an incident I’ve rarely share with anyone.  I still have the scar on my chest where adrenaline was jabbed into my heart to get it restarted.  Seeing it reminds me sometimes that I’m human, fragile and mortal. But I’d really like to forget that day if I could.  I remember looking into the blue sky not being able to breathe and knowing I was about to die.  I saw all the lights around me dim, first to gray and then to complete blackness.  All sound faded.  All feeling evaporated.  I realized I didn’t need to breathe anymore. Again, no tunnel, no white light, just a knowing of who I was – not who I thought I was.  I had no name, yet I was known.  I had no body, yet I existed.  I was complete and filled with love.

I believe this feeling I felt is what we often think of as heaven. Not a place to go after we die if we’re good enough, but a place that is here and now and accessible when we love one another. The reason I believe this has nothing to do with religion, but everything to do with being able to feel glimpses of that same feeling during different moments in my life.  I feel it sometimes in a smile, in a touch, in an expression of affection, in an act of kindness from a stranger or someone I care about, or in a moment of bravery.  I’ve felt it while lying in a pair of strong arms listening to a heartbeat.  I’ve felt in gentle kiss. I’ve felt it watching someone care about someone else.

I was never loved by my parents or my family when these two moments happened.  I didn’t know what love was – but I have searched for it, searching for this particular feeling ever since.  The more I found it in the world, the less angry and hateful I became.  I still have work to do, I still have walls and defenses and wounds, but I never stop hoping to fill my life with more of this love… more of this heaven.

Recently I told a friend of mine that feelings lie, feelings change, and that I don’t trust them.  He said I was retarded sometimes and wondered how such a smart person could be so obtuse.  He added that I was amazing - one big contradiction of contradictory contradictions, and said, “You’ve been hurt so much you absolutely forgot how to be positive.” I, of course, disagreed with him.  Don’t you just love it when somebody tells you something about yourself, but you didn’t see it, and then all of a sudden you see it and hate that they were right?

I had forgot about that feeling, until I felt it slowly sinking into my very bones as I felt a pair of strong arms around me and I listened to a steady heartbeat and fell asleep.  I don’t sleep much, but especially when other people are around, but I fell asleep wrapped in that feeling – the same feeling I felt both times I died. If that was heaven, I want more.  Most of all I want the world to want this heaven too and to stop hating one another.  Stop killing our children, stop putting babies and animals in overheated cars, stop stealing our young women and forcing them into sexual slavery, stop poisoning and bombing each other, just stop it, stop it, stop it.  Fight for your cause, but not each other.  Fight for your faith, but not at the cost of humanity.  Fight for your freedom, but not at the price of someone else’s enslavement.

There are people in this world I don’t like.  There are evil people who I fear have no hope of redemption because they possess no soul.  I’m not naïve, I’m just hopeful in a hopeless world.  I simply want more of heaven.

Till next time,

~T.L. Gray