- Buried a Time capsule with my sister, Mary, in our backyard up the Sierra Nevada Mountains which contained my beloved 1970’s signed picture of Davy Jones
- Wrote at least half of the poems in my 7th grade class Book of Poetry that the school published (for most of my friends who hated to write).
- Taught my Siamese cat, Stan the Man, to pee standing on the toilet in the early 1980’s – goodbye cat box!
- Gave up dancing in the ’80’s after narrowly escaping with my life while getting my grove-on the dance floor at the Roxy when I realized there was no need to keep repeating “pardon me” and “excuse me” to my fellow dancers as they bumped and pushed me around for they were getting their own grove-on the dance floor practicing the new SLAM dance craze! Oy…
Hey, wait a minute, this is fun….I could do this all day!
So anyway, back to what I wanted tell you which begins at the beginning. This beginning (we have so many new beginnings in our lives) begins at the start of a new phase in my new life here in Los Angeles or LA, as they call it, which is 300 miles south of my old home and my still boyfriend, Gary. “The Experiment” is what I call this new chapter in the
Franny and Gary book titled “Will They Make It” through the plan he concocted and we implemented. And though the reasons are compelling enough to substantiate my move to LA, when the time came for me to actually walk out our door it was very distressing and profoundly sad — taking with me four suitcases, some files and our sweet baby girl Sydney (our Chihuahua puppy). I faced a future filled with uncertainty. Uncertainty about who and what and where I was supposed to be. The only brilliant spot and thought that sustained me was the fact that I was moving in with my fabulous sister, Leslie, to live in Southern California in her big, sprawling, mid-century modern styled ranch home which we sort of had all to ourselves (her 3 kids are all in college). Just the two of us and our four dogs, three cats and five turtles and drop-in or summer room mate college students, that is. I was anxious to live in a real house again because for the past year I lived in a hotel suite, which lost its glamour early in the game.
Leslie is my favorite person in this world. There are many reasons why I feel this way about her, too many to list here, but I will say the most compelling reason is the eerie and unexplainable connection we share between our two lives — lives that always seem to be and work in parallel. It’s like this, we each decide to do something big – usually a home-improvement type of project, always a major undertaking, and we always do the same project at the exact, same time. Without either of us knowing what the other is doing until long after the project over. I’ll give you an example: a few years ago, early in December, I decided to gather up every orphaned, stray electrical chord, gadget and thing-a-majig hiding (or in plain sight) throughout my home and spent the next three nights identifying, labelling and separating each item into categories. Before they were stored away in containers in my pantry, I researched each one on the computer to see if I could pair it with its mate. Unbeknownst to me, that same year, at the same time early in December, my sister did the exact same project right down to researchingher “stuff” on her computer before storing them away, labelled and categorized in containers in her own pantry! It only came up over Christmas when I happened to see them stored neatly in her pantry. As she excitedly explained, in great detail, her recently completed project the smile on my face just grew and grew. But was I surprised? No. We have done this for years.There are periods of time where we have not connected by phone calls or visits — it never mattered — we just dive right in where we left off. I just really like this girl. I even like that she pushes (or forces, at times) me to raise my game. She really is my hero. Now more than ever considering her open arms and her non-judgmental acceptance for my unconventional circumstances. I am lucky.
You’ll begin to understand through reading the ongoing uncensored posts/journal entries which may make you cringe, possibly grimace but surely make you laugh and smile as we try to figure this “relationship” thing out through living The Experiment. I’m positive that we will fumble and stumble and present some laugh-worthy moments over this course. The real-time trials and challenges that happen between two people who are reinventing their relationship to be as it should be — survivable! Don’t worry, you’ll catch on soon enough.
This is real-life, real-time….it’s the real deal.
I believe in The Rules of Engagement (as I have come to name them). Rules that I determined are the key to a living a successful, fulfilling and happy life with a partner — rules to be executed without hesitation, honored and never challenged. I know people have different personalities but truth and honesty don’t have different colors. They are the fundamentals to every successful relationship. Just like relationships evolve so do The Rules. (There is a separate Page called “The Rules – Specifically” which list the specific rules which are linkable in this post). The Page “The Rules” is also at the top near the “About Me”.
How the Rules came about…the year I turned 40 something wonderful happened to me. It felt as if someone turned on the light and I could see for the very first time in my adult life! I found my voice. I put my foot down and put it down hard. I stopped trying to please everyone. I developed a new outlook on life and took things in stride. I learned how to shrug my shoulders and say, “oh well” at the right time. I stopped taking things so damned seriously.
I cleaned house, so to speak — I ended my marriage (even though outsiders would have balked, what with my beautiful home, pool, car, boat, kids and on and on). Nothing more I can say other than it had to be done. You can’t continue to lead a life, no matter how lovely it may seem on the outside when on the inside I was running in circles, constantly having to second guess people, doubting everything, wondering and worrying over lame excuses to explain late arrivals and ever-increasing rumors. My life had to change because I refused to live like that anymore. I stopped worrying about someone who didn’t worry about me. And I got Happy!
And “Happy” felt like morphine, it was THAT good! My point of view instantly changed. I learned to laugh at myself and changed the negative into positive — inside me and others around me, too. I walked with an easy-going stride that was welcoming. I charmed my new world. I actually found my long-lost smile! In fact, I found lots of smiles.
I would summarize the professional me as someone paid to think. I review information, analyze data and legal documents to make determinations which I write in long reports for my clients that end with my irreproachable and irrefutable conclusions. This is what I do professionally but this is not who I am in my private life.
Although my professional life was deliberate and organized, my private life was the exact opposite. I never realized my chaotic world wasn’t normal. I too busy running a business, raising my two kids, sports and practices, school and dances, first everything’s and tears not to mention the “talk” about body parts; I also attended to my mom who not only was in a wheel chair but who was a social butterfly so I was also responsible to drive her to her daily “meetings and social gatherings” (and happy to do so) — I didn’t have time to consider anything at all much less shave my own legs! Unfortunately, it was never obvious to the few brave souls or potential partners who wandered through my life that although my world appeared chaotic, it was not as it seems. Keeping this life afloat and on course took skill, detailed and organized skill as well as the keen sense to maintain my place at the top of it all. I did use my trained analytical mind in both my business and my personal worlds. I may have appeared scattered and unorganized but actually, I was aware of everything — I could think through ten different topics all at the same time and talk about each of them in rapid-fire succession; I accomplished millions of tasks without making a single reminder note; I never missed a beat or a deadline. I functioned every single day at this level which later I learned was hard on the outsider — or for that matter, me. But during the rare occasions I found myself alone and my life was quiet, I realized my private (unmarried) life had secretly become a very lonely place.
Though there were men who came into my life after my divorce, I realized that I had never had a successful relationship — they just never worked out in the end. And I wanted to know why and set about finding the truth how to change this statistic.
As it turned out, I eventually figured out that the information I needed was right here inside of me the entire time when I realized that I had accumulated 20 years of information, materials and a lot of “past” data which, conveniently, all stored inside my head. My memory was the keeper of the truth and this was invaluable information! I knew that if I could allow myself to take that scary walk down memory lane and relive my past relationships, specifically the difficult times, from a different perspective, say that of a disinterested third-party so to speak, I might be able see how and why things went wrong. More importantly, I wanted to know my role in these failed relationships to allow me to make the necessary changes I needed to make. In other words, I needed to do all the research and all the work much like the work I do for my clients. And at the end I would write a report about myself. Last and most important, I needed to take my own professional advice. And so I did — which was not simple nor did it happen overnight.
The most difficult part of this process was reliving the talks that led to the miscommunications and misunderstandings that turned into explosive, ugly arguments. Reliving these arguments made my stomach ache – literally. This physical reaction made the discovery process take a very long time to get through. But in the end, I was able to see the same pattern(s) emerge that were consistent in each relationship break-down through the break-up and it became painfully clear to me. I could see that my role and behavior was not fluent with the thoughts in my head and I certainly could have handled things much differently. I couldn’t change the past nor could I deny the inevitable truth — I, too, participated in each break-up. Even though my intentions were good, I couldn’t tell from watching the reruns in my head. And if I couldn’t see it, no one else could either. What I did see was the way I approached and communicated (or didn’t) my feelings to my partner made me a big part of the problem. This realization was a very difficult pill to swallow. I had always felt I was the innocent party because “their” wrongs were always considered (not just by me but by the general population) to be the unacceptable act of wrong doing in any relationship. But wrong is wrong. Over time (a lot of time), after I was able to think about these patterns without feeling ill, I was able to accept this awful truth about myself. And when I finally was able to own this truth outloud was I able to go on to the next step which was pretty obvious.
I now knew what the wrong behavior looked like so I set about making it a point to find and adapt the right relationship havior.They say the best way to learn is by example which is exactly what I did. I became a voyeur to couples in good relationships. And not just good relationships with each other. All kinds of relationships as long as they were good. I found my answers through observation. The biggest issue I saw was communication (for anyone, really). For me to be in a successful relationship I knew I had to change how I approached, presented and behaved during discussions with my partner. I also saw that I needed to listen without over-reacting, without judgment, negativity, anger or worse. The more I relived these lessons, the more I learned that I wasn’t the only one with a gripe or valued opinion. I learned just how important and powerful each partner in every relationship. There were many more revelations unearthed which led to the creation of The Rules (“of Engagement” which doesn’t mean “engaged to be married”, it simply means engaging with each other) which were only thoughts floating inside my head back then.
When I finally did meet the guy who would rock my world (BTW I knew he was “the one”), I never expected he would be someone from my hometown. Someone I had been head-over-heals in love with since I was 11 years old (later I realized that Gary never remembered me at all back then). We re-connected through mutual friends on Facebook over 4 years ago — from the moment we laid eyes on each other and greeted and hugged in the Seattle airport, we instantly became an “us” and we fit together like pieces in a puzzle. We jumped in head first. Yes, I said head first. Although I now know that it was this “familiarity” and my heady elation that caused me to miss some important information.
Two months after we met again, Gary and I moved in together and I implemented The Rules immediately. I was finally able to practice what I had learned and put it to practical use. I felt elated to see immediate results as I communicated effectively in a relationship for the very first time. I believe we both felt satisfaction with our positive communication. I don’t think Gary was aware that this way of communicating was new territory for me and a first. I knew I was in control of how we communicated and how we discussed things in the beginning. I didn’t know that this way of communicating was new for him, as well. But there is a keen difference between the two. All I saw was communicating properly with my new-found skills really worked! It was positive and the results are immediate! I learned by changing the way I approach him to begin a serious “discussion” worked as long as my voice and body language were gentle and non-threatening. When a misunderstanding occurred, by not attacking and not accusing Gary, we engaged in meaningful discussions with positive results. We learned a lot about each other.
Unfortunately, as our lives got complicated (think: teenagers, a new family arrangement that did not set well with his two kids who had not accepted his parents were split in the first place, a big house, a zoo of animals and an ex-spouse lurking in the shadow) our communication broke down, replaced by mistrust, doubt, and misunderstandings that erupted into big explosive fights. The Rules seemed to all but disappear as we spun out of control. I watched it happen but could do nothing to stop it. Still it took another year for us to face our communication issues.
Shortly after New Years Gary and I came to the pinnacle: we had a decision to make. We had to decide to either figure out how to get through this or break up. Neither of us wanted the latter and it was actually Gary who came up with this unconventional idea for The Experiment.
At first, I refused to listen to him much less consider this insane idea and it took a long time to convince me otherwise. Until … one day it hit me that I wasn’t actively listening to my partner. I did not want to know his truth or hear his honest words which caused me pain and felt too personal. This was the first time in my life where I did not want to know the truth. I broke my rule.
But as soon as I recognized this within myself I immediately changed my thinking and considered his words and recognized that he was speaking his truth which was not personal or against me. I decided the right thing to do was to give his idea a try. After I stopped thinking about myself I was able to see his perspective and accept how he felt without making it personal. I was able to understand this plan was actually for us (in the long run) and it was what Gary needed to do in order to be in a successful relationship. I had to step aside and trust him which was easier to do once I could see that he had finally become aware of his role in our relationship. I could see that he was aware that he had to change his role in our relationship and he could see that how we communicated would be the key to our success. I had already graduated from The Rules (of Engagement) school of life. Now it was Gary’s turn.
The Experiment: As I mentioned we are now living 300 miles apart — the distance was not a condition of his plan but rather the circumstances to execute them. Gary is getting his degree in The Rules (of Engagement) which, as it turns out, I ended up in the role of the instructor. Of course, this exercise is teaching me, as well. We are both committed to living The Experiment while we learn how to adapt them into our every day existence. And as necessary, we are making the changes so that we can live and breathe The Rules. This is the real-time, as it unfolds, day-to-day story of “us”.
Food and recipes are a big part of life down here in sunny LA. Recipes are ever-changing in our kitchens and, I realize, in our relationships.
The Recipe for our Relationship is now under development…