Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Tacos, Beans & Rice

I have been blessed by a constant parade of amazing human beings that have marched through my life. Whether they were one of the clowns or a member of the band, they have constantly entertained and taught me life's lessons.

Without a doubt, the Grand Marshall of the Lizzie Flower Parade would be Miss Della. Della is an angel who swooped into my life in 2006 at a time when I didn't even know who or what I was and taught me everything I never knew.

When I met Della, she was already hitting the twilight years of her life and I knew that I needed to enjoy her while I had her. She always had a sound bite for me no matter what the situation was. Her gift was that she kept life simple and it was in that simplicity that I finally found out that life isn't as complicated as I'd been making it.

Della was a tiny lady in her early 70's when I met her. Even though she was small and frail, she had a no bullshit attitude and was not afraid to tell you exactly what she was thinking. She smoked like a chimney which gave her a rough voice and even though she was small, she could produce substantial volume and when she spoke, people listened.

At the time I met her, I was in a futile relationship with a man that I liked sometimes, thought I might love, secretly hated and was pitifully co-dependent on. Taking things into my own hands, I quickly became engaged to him.

I would go to Della's and spend hours unloading all my confused and misdirected thoughts and feelings. One day after a long ranting that she patiently and lovingly sat through, she calmly put her cigarette to her mouth, took a long draw off of it, leaned in and as she exhaled the smoke she whispered to me, "Your picker's broke".

How could she say that? I was madly in love and engaged to the man of my dreams. Kinda.... not really.... Wait a minute...maybe she was right.

She went on to explain to me that I'd been settling for Cup o' Noodles my whole life and it was time I held out for the Tacos, Beans and Rice.

Confused? So was I...then she went on to say...

"When you're hungry, it's easy to grab some Cup o' Noodles. It takes care of your hunger quickly and you don't have to put a lot of effort into making it. The problem with Cup o' Noodles is that it doesn't satisfy you very well. After an extremely short amount of time, you're hungry again and reaching for another Cup o' Noodles. The cycle never ends and you will always be unsatisfied."

"If you prepare yourself for the full meal, the Tacos, Bean and Rice, you will be always be satisfied."

"Liz," she said to me, "hold out for the Tacos, Beans and Rice."

Could it really be that simple? 

To the delight of my family, friends and of course, Della, I became UNengaged 5 long months after putting on that ring. It was a tumultuous 5 months and I was ready for it to end. Della asked me to take a year off from men. No dating, no flirting, no casual relationships and of course...no sex.  As ridiculous as it sounded I took her advise.

The year came and went and I started dating again. Without me knowing it, during that year I had found something that I'd been neglecting for years...myself. I knew me for the first time in my life and I even liked me which I'm fairly certain was a feeling I had never enjoyed.

I started to understand that if I liked me, wouldn't I want me to be in a healthy loving relationship?

I know women who have the Tacos, Beans and Rice and don't even realize it. They're just lucky enough to have it. I know women who are settling for Cup o' Noodles and can't figure out why they are so unsatisfied.

I can't say that I figured out in that year what I want or need in a man but what I did figure out was what I didn't want.

I don't want to fix anyone. I'm not responsible for anyone's happiness or discontent. If you're broken, go fix yourself.

I don't want to spend time with someone who doesn't have integrity, honesty and kindness and if I'm going to expect those virtues in them then I'd damn well better practice them in my own life.

I lost my Della to lung cancer in June of 2011. Rather than be sad for my loss, I embrace myself with gratitude. Every day I'm grateful that she loved me enough to share her wisdom with me.

I hope you all have a Della in your life and for God's sake, hold out for the Taco, Beans and Rice.

Saturday, December 1, 2012

Duck, Duck, Splat!

Anyone who knows me, knows that I am happiest when I'm on my bike.
Arriving at the finish line at RAGBRAI 2012
(Register's Annual Great Bike Ride Across Iowa)

RAGBRAI was a 7 day, 471 mile ride across the great (and hilly) state of Iowa. I love to ride the challenging hills and miles but on most days, I'm looking for a relaxing meditative ride.

The other day I was on a short bike ride. I do a 15 mile loop around the south side of Lincoln that takes me through parks, by an outdoor mall, through residential backyards and over a major highway.  Along part of the route, there is a shallow concrete water slough that cuts through some backyards. Unless it's raining, the slough only has a couple of inches of water in it. It's a peaceful, slow babbling waterway where moss lines nearly its entire expanse.

As I was riding along this meandering bike trail, I heard something over my right shoulder. When I looked, there was a beautiful, green necked mallard duck slowly gliding beside me, over the waters of the slough. He looked over at me, made eye contact and then went back to his business of flying. I slowed down to watch him, envying his freedom of flight.

Slowly and silently he glided beside me which added to the serene meditative state that I was in, then the duck decided it was time. He lowered his landing gear and I knew in an instant that he was not prepared for what was about to happen.

When the ducks feet hit the water, you could tell he was expecting to land in a amount sufficient enough to give him a soft and safe landing but because of the shallow condition of the slough, what happened instead was that his feet made contact with the mossy concrete causing him to flip beak over butt through the water.

I, of course, hit my brakes. I don't know what I thought my qualifications were to help.  I don't know if there is a thing called duck CPR but I was prepared to try.  When he finally stopped rolling through the mossy water, he shook his feathers and composed himself. Again our eyes met.  Obviously embarrased, he turned his back to me, settled into the water, pretending that he was floating there the whole time.

I started riding my bike again but the farther I got, the more tickled I got. I kept picturing the ducks eyes as he landed and flipped. I had 6 more miles to ride before I was home and everyone I met must have thought I was bat shit crazy with that silly smile on my face.

It's true, I'm the type of person who laughs when someone runs into a glass patio door that they think is open. I watch Funniest Home Videos and can hardly stop laughing at some of them. There is one video of cat that was stuck to a clothes basket that caused me to laugh so hard it required a change of clothing. Yep, it was that funny and even thinking of it now makes me giggle.

So what's the moral of this story? There isn't one, if you're looking for a moral, you're reading the wrong blog. But if there was a moral to this story I suppose it would be this, "Sometimes you just have to shake off your feathers and say, 'I meant to do that'"

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

Suck It Myans!

Well, the countdown begins. On December 21, 2012, the Myan calendar runs out and the end of the world predictions are supposed to come true. Am I feeling helpless? No, not at all because I took matters into my own hands.
I went for a walk the other day and was looking at the sun. It seemed to be burning the same as it has every other day before.  I can’t help but think that if it was going to explode a month from today that it would be pulsing or flaring or burning blue or something odd like that.
Maybe the poles will shift, earthquakes, floods causing mass extinction! Maybe it will just be a scathing rash and an itch you just can’t quite scratch.
I find it hard to believe that the Myan’s had some insight to the end and simply decided to stop making calendars. I can just imagine how it went, “Dude, don’t waste your time making a calendar after December 21, 2012, no one is going to be here to use it, right?”
Today, I wanted to ensure the survival of the human race so I went to the store and bought a 2013 calendar. So Suck It Myans, crisis averted!

I believe it was one of my more brilliant moves.

It was much easier and less expensive than digging a shelter in the back yard and stocking it with canned goods in an effort to survive this apocalypse. First of all, I didn’t want to go to the expense of buying boxes and boxes of canned meat that tastes like a salt block anyways. If I ate that junk I’d be retaining fluid until 2045!
If there is some catastrophe that I’m just to stupid to plan for, I can just imagine walking thru the pearly gates and having some cocky Myan calendar maker standing there with attitude saying, “I told you so!”
So I am sending an invitation to all the Myans out there. If you would like to exist after 12/21/12, please respond to this blog with your address and I will gladly send you a 2013 calendar.  It’s the least I can do to save the world.
See y’all in 2013!

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Blissfully Average

As I sat in my office today and a little phrase came to my head that seemed quite appropriate for the moment. It was this, “Even Weeds are Flowers”.  I thought this was so witty so I decided to Google it and see if anyone else had thought of it.  There is a similar one by A.A Milne, the author behind Winnie the Pooh. It goes, “Weeds are flowers too, once you get to know them.” The stinger is that it wasn’t even Pooh who said this, it was Eeyore, the sullen and depressed donkey which I think I resemble the least.
I want to make one thing clear, I am not quoting A.A. Milne and I’m certainly not quoting Eeyore.
What brought me to even think of this phrase? Last night I was perusing the channel guide and the science channel or another of those “nerd” stations that I frequent so often had a show on about the mysteries of sex appeal.  Since I’ve been going through a “dry spell” in the dating market, I decided to see what it was all about.
Who am I kidding, it’s not a dry spell, it’s a full on drought, and I haven’t dated successfully in years!
The point of this scientific show was to determine what caused certain individuals to be more “attractive” than others. My simple mind says, “thin”. I always think it’s a fat vs. thin thing and this program proved me relatively wrong. Seems it’s more of a good genes/fertility/survival of the fittest kind of thing. Most of the experiments were on “twenty something” men and women and so since I’m a “forty (almost fifty) something” I had to use some reasoning to put it in perspective for me. 
First of all, I’m pretty certain men don’t look at me and wonder what our children would look like. If they do, that man is a dumb ass and should not be considered for the dating pool anyways.
I decided to watch the show and take from it what I could. Bear with me during the next couple of paragraphs while I lay down the basics.
One of the experiments consisted of 10 men and 10 women in unitard outfits that made them all look pretty much the same. (remember, these are young people and I would NOT want to see middle-aged men and women in unitards any more than you would) Then the person in charge of the experiment put a nylon cap on each person and tucked their hair under, furthering the inability to find a great difference between the subjects.  The interesting part of this experiment was that each of the nylon caps had a number on the front of it from 1 – 10 and the wearer was not aware of whether their number was a 1 or a 10 or anything in between.
Then the subjects were told to pair up by holding out their hand to another subject of the opposite sex and if the other subject accepted your hand, you were a match. If they didn’t accept your hand, you had to find someone else until all the couples were matched. The goal of the experiment is to end up with the largest combined number. If the woman with the number 5 hooked up with the guy with the number 6, their combined score was 11. (duh)
Well, when they started the experiment, the obvious happened. Most men flocked to the number 10 woman and stuck their hand out. Most women flocked to the number 10 man and stuck their hand out.  Of course, the number 10’s only accepted the hand of the highest number he could see. He/she knew, “I have a high number on my head”.
Then you see a number 3 hold her hand out to a 7 and he doesn’t accept, you hear her say, “I must have a low number”.  A number 3 walks up to her and holds his hand out, she says out loud, “I can do better than that” and she walks over to a 5, he won’t accept her hand… finally she walks up to a 2 and holds her hand out, he accepts. They walk way, both of them visibly disappointed.
When they showed the pairings it was evident that this is how society works too. The upper range of numbers chose each other, the middle range together and the lower range together although the lower range didn’t look quite as happy with the result as the upper range.
I started to wonder, what number am I?
I’d like to think I’m at least a mid range, right? A 6 or a 7 would be acceptable because I know good and well that I’m not an 8, 9 or 10. I have one pair of slacks that make me think I’m an 8 but that thought is removed as quickly as the slacks are. I love those slacks!
The fact is, all the 8, 9 and 10’s that actually want to be paired up, are. If they are not paired up in the real world, they are usually egotistical shit heads and I wouldn’t want one anyways. Then there are 8, 9 or 10’s that think they are 5’s and they are dead sexy!
I do not believe the 1, 2 or 3 category actually exists in the outside world. They are either fatties that would require a wrecking ball and a crane to remove them from their homes or they are mentally or physically challenged and reside in institutions or jailhouses.  May the Universe bless them and keep them.
There have been short periods of time in my life where I have fallen into the 1-3 category but that certainly does not MAKE me one. Don’t EVER convince yourself that you are a 1-3 unless you are reading this from behind bars or from your queen size bed that your massive body makes it look like a twin size.
I also don’t actually think that 10’s exist because there is no such thing as perfection and I am grateful for that! Even a 10 can act like a 3 sometimes.
I have decided that I land somewhere in the 5 range. “Blissfully Average”

Sometimes I’m a 5, sometimes I’m a 4 and when I put on those sexy damn slacks, I’m a friggin’ 8 baby!
I hang around with some 9’s and I also hang around with some 3’s that the state has graciously released from their custody. I love them all and they love me.
I used to think that the biggest responsibility to myself was to make sure I didn’t reach for the 10’s and suffer bitter disappointment. A perfect 10 is kind of like owning a VanGogh; it’s nice to look at but I don’t want it hanging around my house all the time.
The truth is that my biggest responsibility is to accept myself as I am. If I’m a 5, I’m going to be the best 5 I can be!