Love through Vicodin Colored Glasses

Hey there! Please let me beg your forgiveness today and possibly for the next few days. My wonderful doctor just performed surgery on my poor little arthritic foot so that one day I can get back into my Stilettos and Slingbacks. While I am comfortably recovering, that’s because I’m simply doped-up, my friends. God forbid this Vicodin wears off and I actually feel my mangled, rheumatic limb.

Yesterday afternoon in the recovery room, I had quite the Epiphany about love and my Prince Charming. Having recently read Deanna Fry’s love-related-tales, a stunning lady with similar romantic challenges (and a new favorite blog) helped me to firm up my  analysis. As a result, I’m even more excited about the man who I chose to share my life with – my handsome, witty, and considerate Prince Charming.

The truth is, I was frightened about the looming surgical redesign of my slowly deforming foot. Not only was I freaking out about potentially crippling long-term complications from my Rheumatoid A.,I was also fixating on Hospital Acquired Infections (HAIs) from poor aseptic technique. (Fact: Over 50% of hospital related illnesses are preventable when a health care worker properly washes his or her hands the Right way – but that is a whole other blogging experience.)

Needless to say, taking care and keeping me calm was no picnic. My PC mastered it with graceful aplomb.

To explain, let me take you back to 2006. I spent the majority of my 30’s dating and eventually being engaged to The Wrong Man. We’ll call him Tom. Tom was a divorced dad who had both of his teenage girls living with him (and eventually with us).

He had established his beliefs, behaviors, and bad habits – I certainly wasn’t going to change him. His daughters were his princesses, and I, as their stepmother, did the work of Cinderella – backwards did you say? Where is that Fairy Godmother when you need her?

These girls got to stay home from school for 3 days a month when they had their periods, and he would stay home from work with them to bring them chicken soup. Sweet girls, but they clearly played their best Daddy-take-care-of-me Card when they didn’t want to take a test.

When I was 36, my loving doctors finally decided that I should stop suffering from one of my many ailments – my feminine curse. I’d had several surgeries over the years for cysts and for endometriosis – in short, my reproductive system was the Devil incarnate and Lucifer saw to it that I suffered regularly. In the worst of my monthly demonic sufferings, Tom would find me curled into the fetal position, perhaps weeping with a glass of red to ease the affliction.

When Tom saw me this way, he saw me only as a burden: He had to do the dishes and cook dinner. He couldn’t understand why I would cry while folding laundry when my feminine cramps or my Rheumatoid or other medical challenges acted up.

Momma always said I was a walking Medical Dictionary. I always said, “If it’s not one thing, it’s your mother <wink>.” Love ya, Ma!

I felt like a burden even asking for a glass of water. You can imagine, then, the trouble that brewed when my doctors advised me to undergo a total hysterectomy. Not only would I lose the works that the Good Lord gave me, but I would also be thrown into menopausal trauma far too early in my ongoing battle against sanity.

I was to be laid up for 6 – 8 weeks. I begged Tom to stay with me and my son, Cole (age 8 at the time), while his daughters stayed with their mother. He agreed but … only …after … a … lot … of … hesitation. He finally admitted that didn’t want the extra drive time to work – roughly 20 minutes more one way. And, he didn’t want to do “your housework.” He thought that if I was able to walk, well,  I should be just fine to carry the laundry up 2 flights of stairs.

What a burden you are, Heidi Lee, I told myself. But I was his burden, and he was going to marry this burden – and I carried a kingdom of guilt. My health has never been stellar, but I am ambitious, motivated, and active in spite of it. I don’t let my physical challenges own me. Occasionally, it would have been nice to feel supported by the man in my life, but something even better happened, dear reader. Tom did me the favor of dumping me for an Online Affair when I was 38. Talk about the other glass slipper dropping! Wow.

Yesterday, many of those old Tom-like feelings resurfaced as I waited with my Prince Charming in the hospital room. I was a basket case by the time the nurse wheeled me away to the OR, and I hesitantly looked to PC for an unfamiliar hint of moral support. He squeezed my hand and leaned in for a kiss.

“Will you be here when I wake up?” I managed to whisper.

“Of course, Dear. I’m right where I am supposed to be today.”

“I’m sorry that you have to go through this, PC.”

“Heidi Lee, will you get into that room and get your foot fixed already? I want to take
ballroom dancing.”

After I woke up, he was waiting in my post-op room to dress me and carry me home.He never left my side, and he’s still home with me today – helping me to shower and bringing me soup and cookies. His only complaint last night: “Heidi Lee, you’re not in your spot tonight. Hurry up and heal up so I can sleep with my arms around you again.”

Now that we’ve got a bit of background, it’s time to share my Relationship Epiphany. Is there only one person, a Soul-Mate for each of us? I think we need to break this
question down more accurately. Can we be happy with more than one man or woman
for the rest of our lives? I think some of us can. Does this mean that he or she is the person we are meant to be with? No – that’s  something more special, and we can’t know It unless we are lucky enough to find It.

I think I could have been happy with Tom for several reasons. Although I’ve described him as being an insensitive and unsupportive jerk, he did have many good qualities. We were friends. And we could have been relatively happy – but I would have been
settling for less than I deserved.

Do I think that many happy marriages /relationships exist without the head-over-heels love factor? You bet! Do I think it’s possible to marry your best friend and be content? Of course.

But … Do I think optimistically that there’s another level of love that transcends so many of us? Do I believe that we miss out on It because we lose patience or settle for what is quite clearly not in our best interest? Absolutely! Do I think that certain marriages are bad or doomed because of this? Not at all.

Picture by Sara Hendrix

I believe now, as I miss my “spot” curled up in the nook of PC’s arms feeling cherished and protected, that there is one perfect person. I am simply very lucky to have found mine. I witness PC’s parents as they grow old together – and they are perfect together. They laugh together, play football pools, and they sneak away to gamble at the Casinos nearby. They know each other’s best and worst, and they love each other more for their eccentricities. They are what I call Legacy Toad Kissers.

Flipping through the news channels, I see this same sort of love in the eyes of #MarkKelly as he watches the graceful and formidable #GabrielleGifford come back stronger than ever. I envy their love story, and I admire them both personally as well as a couple. She is not, and never will be, his burden. His love helped her through, and he was right where he was supposed to be – with her. When you are truly with the one you are meant to find, you know you are in your “spot.”

Wow, this Love-Drug retelling of yesterday makes me feel like I don’t need another Vicodin – well, almost. PC, Honey – will you please bring me my medication?

He loves me, he loves me not. He loves me – oh look, a Vicodin. He loves me. Time to sleep.

Warm Regards,

Heidi Lee

My Relationship with a Married Man

Good morning to all, and thanks to everyone who posted to Sunday’s poll about where you may have met your Prince or Princess Charming. The poll is not the first bit of research into Online dating that I’ve done. Most of you know that I’ve dated digitally myself.

This morning I’d love to share some of my earliest introductions to the intrigue of the Internet Romance. In my early days as a “single-again” woman, I had been fortunate to hear more of the good than the bad when it came to Internet dating. I seemed to go against the consensus and trust the idea of hiding behind my keyboard to create a social life. After all, technology was taking over everywhere else, right?

This morning I would love to share one of the stories that gave me hope through the dine-and-dash relationship failures of those earliest days.

I have a dear friend at the office named Scott who I met a few years back. I knew him through Happy Hours, office lunches, and the coffee pots. I knew he was handsome and smart, but I also knew he was married. Often I thought to myself – what a lucky lady she must be as I would twist under my breath that it should have been me.

Over time, Scott became a fantastic sounding board for my dating dilemmas. He always gave me the man’s view. He helped me see when I was being stupid. He praised my virtuous ways. He guided me when I was confused. In short, he acted as my therapist.

Now, friends, if you don’t have a “Scott” of the opposite gender – get one. This role is an essential friendship if you need someone to slap you across the face with the ugliest of truths. Believe me; you’ll be grateful for the honesty from a friend rather than the heartache from yet another dirt bag.

At the same time when Scott and I were evolving as friends, I had a physical therapist from a shoulder injury – Jen. She had one of the gentlest smiles I had ever encountered (Even if I did call her Attila the Hun). During our sessions, Jen would ask all about my dating life and my adventures with men. She was always so curious about the guy I was seeing at that moment in time….Did I meet him at a party? What about the guy my friend set me up with? How is that man from back home I was seeing? Jen loved the stories, and I loved her opinions.

Jen would also mention to me bits here and there about her beau. She was a young bride with a darling infant, and she seemed to have a magical relationship. I was jealous to say the least. However, I never really asked Jen how she and hubby had met. To me, it just seemed that they had always been. She seemed so naturally connected. Maybe inside I was jealous of Jen – ok, so no maybe about it. I wanted what she had.

During one of my appointments, Jen saw my office badge.

“Oh, Heidi Lee, you work at West?” How did I never know that?”

I suppose my tales of men and romance had always been more interesting than my work life. She and I spent over 2 hours a week of muscle-managing with me, and we had rarely talked about anything other than my men.

“Heidi Lee, maybe you know my husband. His name is Scott.” And the light went on in her eyes. “Oh, Heidi, I never made the connection. You’re Scott’s Heidi from the office. I feel like I already know you.”

Jen, you see, never brought work home with her. She was truly a professional, so they never came together to compare notes on me. She kept our discussions as well as my treatment completely confidential.

We laughed through the irony and talked a little bit more intimately about our lives from that point forward. With this new level of comfort, I asked Jen, “Where did you and Scott meet?”

Jen’s smile brightened and she got a tingle in her eye remembering her first encounters. And she beamed, “We met Online. Match. He winked; I winked back. The rest is history. He is simply wonderful.”

I returned to work following my physical torture and I marched right into Scott’s office. “You could have told me your wife was a Physical Therapist. I’ve been seeing her for weeks now since the accident. She is adorable – lovely. Hell, you really did well, buddy. I love her”.

Scott’s face lit up like a school boy with his first crush as he started to tell me about their courtship. And he told me about his experience on Match, “You know, Heidi Lee, guys don’t get many return winks on Match. Jen had her pick of the litter, and she picked me. Can you imagine?”

Actually, I could. And I had – and it would have been steamy. And I never would again – promise. My sweet and handsome friend met his soul mate in an Internet Catalog. And he was happy. She was happy. And neither of them had any horrifying stories of Internet freaks or psychotics – only stories of a few genuine people all in the same quest for Happily Ever After.

Over the last few years, I’m still surprised when I ask, “How did you two meet?”. Online dating is usually at the top of the responses. People who truly have committed to finding a relationship seem to migrate to the virtual channels with the trust that everyone is there for similar reasons.

The great thing about these sites is that woman and men alike should be able to weed through the catalogs and select the sizes with the most potential to be right. The tip I can give you is to go into Match or eHarmony honestly. Expect to date losers just as you would if you met through another social setting. There is no magic formula, and there are no guarantees. Instead, you get the security of learning about someone from a more harmless location – your own home.

True, any type of dating can be dangerous or disappointing at the least. You have to be smart about it, and you have to watch for inconsistencies in truths. Do it right – you may end up with the romantic side of a Scott of your own.

In my blog, I’ll share some of my lessons learned with you here if you are interested. For today the best lesson I can give you is – keep an open mind and an open heart. That’s it. Don’t judge yourself or others for using Online dating to find a dinner date. After all, if my PC hadn’t wanted someone to take to dinner one Friday night, I would still be single and searching. And Attila wouldn’t have found her Hon.

Warmest Regards

Heidi Lee

Catalog Dating, Finding Happily Ever After Online

Friends, Good Saturday Afternoon to you.

I realized and I must apologize for dropping an assumptionin yesterday’s post, “I sometimes find it hard to believe that this typeof man exists – and that I literally picked him out of an Online Dating JCPenneys Catalog.” I suppose I get so cozy when writing to you that I assumed you already knew the beginning of my journey to Happily Ever After. Let me back track just a bit to explain…

PC (Prince Charming) is a critical element to completing my Fairy Tale, but more importantly I found that an inner knowledge and love of myself was essential. I realized after 35 years of life that I had no clue of who I was or who I intended to be. After one too many failed relationships, I hadn’trealized that I’d placed my own needs and self-discovery secondary to those of the men in my life. From boyfriends to husbands and even to my son, I defined myself by my role as it related to a man’s better half:  Jeff’s wife, Tom’s fiance, Cole’s mom – never Heidi Lee.

As I started realizing that I am not a secondary person and definitely not a backseat type of gal, I looked to the Internet to find someone who might complement me a bit better. I spent over a year on Online Dating sites, sampling a myriad of tasty (and, surprise, not so tasty) morsels that helped in the Designing of Me. Thus – the title of my blog, The Art of ToadKissing.

These experiences, along with navigating a successful professional career, are why I have self-appointed myself as a Master ToadKisser – I’ve found Happily Ever After in myself. While PC and I have a loving and strong relationship, he and I both are our own persons. We have many shared interests and goals, but we also have our independent strengths and paths.

My path took me into the world of Online Dating. Admittedly, I’d become curious about what type of person goes digital to find a date. I had listened to others talk about desperation, neediness, or the inability to be alone. And haven’t we all listened to acquaintances over Happy Hour talk about the Pervs and Molesters, or reference the latest news story about the missing person presumably abducted by the Internet Menace? That is the stigma of the Online Dater.

The trouble is, we seem to believe that the Stigma is Reality. And what we believe as Urban Legend – that a sincere, trustworthy romantic companion exists – is really what I found to be Actual Reality. The majority of Internet love-seekers joined for the same reason I did: We all want to connect.

And while, yes, these sites provide literally thousands of choices within their catalogs; a little care and attention to detail paired with a healthy sense of caution can provide for a very rich experience within the registries of #Match.com, #eHarmony, and the like.

So there I was, my friends. A divorced mother, a Project Manager, and a College Student who simply wanted to meet someone nice and who had similar interests. I had trouble finding the time, the energy, or the social outlets to meet these people. I appreciated the ability to meet anonymously and to meet on my own terms. And I learned many lessons that I am happy to share – life lessons, online dating tips, tactics to avoid dating disasters. But for today, I’ll just share the overview to my journey.

I literally opened the catalog and trial-purchased several varieties to find the perfect fit. And through this journey, I found that I am actually a pretty cool chick who appreciates good friends and who loves life and family. At 41, I am starting to appreciate quiet moment as much as exciting adventure, and I can love these moments alone or with somebody special.  I am content and excited to start the rest of my life.

And my hope in sharing with each of you would be that you recognize that you have some pretty spectacular qualities as well. Every one’s fingerprints are unique, and they leave that mark on everything they touch.

Questions about Online Dating?  Post here – or send me a private note.

Warm Regards

Heidi Lee

Moxie – For You

My Dear Friend,

Today my message is especially for you, and inspired by simply knowing you.

You once gave me a book of quotes to help me find focus and encouragement in your absence. This book sits front and center on my desk and in my world.

This morning as I read through the wisdom in this book of “Moxie”, your inner spirit jumps out to me yet again. I see your strength shine through as I read what I hope you begin to understand:

“Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate. Our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that frightens us most. As we ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented and fabulous?

Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of the universe. You were born to manifest the glory of the universe that is within us. It’s not in nust some of us; it’s in everyone.” (#mariannewilliamson as quoted in Moxie)

This, my sincere friend, this is how I see you. This is how others that matter in life see you. This is how I hope you see yourself.

Please own the talent within you that others seek to takeaway. They likely are afraid that once you know this in yourself, they will lose control. Please recognize your inner strength, your intelligence, and your incomparable beauty. Learn to soar. Learn that you are magnificent.

This is my wish for you. I ask only one favor in return. Please go and stand in front of the mirror and repeat to yourself the words of Margaret Thatcher – because you can!

“If it’s me against 48, I feel sorry for the 48!”

And know that you are admired and you are loved. Most importantly, you are not alone.

Love always and with lots of Moxie,

Heidi

PS…Please feel free to share these words with someone who may need to hear them. And remember to thank the people who inspire you – always!

Hi Pot, I’m Kettle. You’re Black

Dear Pot,

Right away I must beg forgiveness – it seems that we girls have our own versions of Boy Dumb. I’m quite guilty this morning.

Yesterday I shared the trials of my friend Jake, and of how Jake couldn’t ask Cindy to join him at the gym. Sounds pretty basic, right?

Let’s put a new twist on this story since my own personal prince charming also stresses the weight of physical fitness as a life priority. The difference is, he isn’t afraid to remind me often. While I have all of the best intentions, I also have many excuses. So this morning, Jake, please know that I am in the dog house with you.

Early on, I shared with you all that I am using the Flat Belly Diet and also several in-home workout DVDs to get back into shape. As I’ve rounded the corner of 40, so have my hips, my thighs, and Lord hope not my bra size. Whether we want to call these challenges reasons, justifications or excuses – quite simply they are unacceptable. However, I’ll share with all of you, Dear Friends, in case you see any resemblance. I’d love to know that I’m not alone.

Over the past 3 weeks, I’ve had a corporate reorganization thrown in my lap. I’ve been yanked from my professional home and dumped off into a foreign igloo. Of course, I threw myself into my work which means:

  1. I’ve worked 14 – 15 hour days and forgotten my family
  2. I’ve neglected my exercise which means I’m getting really crabby
  3. I’ve ignored an eating program that I love. So now I work all day and get crabbier because I’m hungry
  4. I’ve made work my first priority rather than my health so my doctor is yelling at me
  5. I’ve gone without sleep due to anxiety from all of the above.

OK, so I suppose I am Girl Dumb. I have a wonderful man gently reminding, assertively nudging, and then forcefully shoving my exercise and my eating back into my life – all because he loves me. I can give him all of the excuses in the world, but he knows the real reasons. I’ve quite simply become exhausted. The funny thing is, if I were keeping up with my exercise and my eating program, I’d have a hell of a lot more energy and probably grow a cape and fly.

The scary thing for me is that I only have about 2 weeks left where I can exercise whole-heartedly. You see, I’m having a “procedure” the first week in November – Doc is putting pins in my feet to help slow the rheumatoid arthritis. I will be wearing a boot for half of the winter that simply doesn’t match anything in my wardrobe (including my best Nike get fit gear). So now it is go time. I need to get my body and my mind as healthy as possible to speed my recovery.

So how do I do this? I commit. When I commit to something I go head first and all-in. So today I promise first to myself and then to those in my life who love me – Today I will eat my 4 small meals per day. Today I will do 2 miles of vigorous in-home walking. Today I will have dinner with my family. Today I will take care of me first.

And I’m making this commitment because I have to love me first – if I don’t, how can I expect others to?

Anyone care to join me? Let’s hear from you about mind and body fitness goals between now and the New Year. No sense in putting off until January 1st, right?

Kind Regards,

Kettle

artwork borrowed from http://civitaquana.blogspot.com/2010_05_01_archive.html

On the Particular subject of Toads – I give you the incurable, “Boy-Dumb”

Good morning, Dear friends, and Happy Story Day, Wednesday.

As I get ready this morning for a day in my office, my mind is screaming with a newly realized wisdom on the incurable disease that is prominent in the masculine gender – Boy Dumb.

Yes, friends, boy-dumb is most likely incurable; we have only seen this disease grow into an epidemic. This morning, I share a case study with you all. My goal is that through the work of mine and others, we can finally put an end to this epidemic.

The Subject: The Afflicted, My Friend Jake

The Hypothesis: Jake is Boy Dumb

The Supporting Evidence: Jake is a sweet, if somewhat jar-headed boy with many good qualities. Jake is loyal and funny, animated and sincere. Yet Jake is dumb. You see, friends, Jake is stuck as an Apprentice in the Art of Toad Kissing, and he could even likely be a slightly wart-infested toad himself. While he knows he wants a relationship and a family and a friendship – he doesn’t know how to explain what he wants to an intelligent woman.

I’ve met the lady who Jake is seeking a forever with – she is statuesque, intelligent, supportive, stunning. In short – she is the woman we all strive to emulate – and Jake has her heart. Way to go, buddy!

But Jake, as most boys, has not learned the art of candor as it relates to his relationships. He openly shares with me as we are friends, but he would rather treat this strong woman with kid gloves than to tell her what he wants.

Now, friends, we’ve all dated or known this guy with one name or the next. I’ll explain this specific challenge to highlight one of the most common symptoms to diagnose the affliction. Jake is physically fit, and he enjoys spending a great deal of time in the gym and maintaining his BMI. Awesome job, Jake!

However, his lady Cindy has not yet shared his love of sweat and protein powders. Jake told me a couple of weeks ago, “Heidi, I am crazy about this woman, but I don’t know that I can commit to a forever with her”

“Why, Jake, what’s wrong? What happened? She seems perfect for you.”

“Well, Heidi, she is. But I have always been attracted to athletes, and she doesn’t work out”.

Seriously??!!! She doesn’t work out? I’m thinking by this point, this woman is a high powered director in a major corporation. She is gorgeous and genuine, and she thinks she is so lucky that Jake is into her – humble. Don’t get me wrong, Jake I’m sure is quite the catch, and they are both lucky. But Cindy wows me.

“Jake, have you ever talked to Cindy about joining you at the gym? I mean, she is slender and looks as if she takes immaculate care to maintain herself. Have you invited her into this world of yours? Does she know she is even welcome?”

“Uhm, no. I wouldn’t want to upset her with her thinking I am not happy with her body.”

“So, you would consider that this woman is not The One for you simply because you are wimping out and not talking to her? Crap, I’m even insulted. Go home tonight (did I mention they live together?) and ask her to go for a walk with you. Ask her to come to the gym. Talk to her about your fitness goals, and ask her if she will support you with them. Jeez, dummy, she has a brain. In fact, most women do.”

<eyes widened as if 2000 years of suppression had just been lifted as he witnessed the growth of an opposable thumb – witness Jake evolve into the upright species of homo sapien>

Jake asked my advice on talking to Cindy about joining the gym. We came up with a strategy, and he was all set to deploy. The next day, he called me to discuss an unrelated topic, and I asked, “How’d it go with Cindy last night?”

He seemed to perk up at the question and started to giggle like a chimpanzee – happy from just eaten the lice out of his buddy’s fur coat. “Well, the cool thing is that I really thought last night about what you said.” (R&D: subject responds to reasoning)

“Heidi, I’m realizing so many amazing things about her, I don’t know if the workouts really matter that much. I mean, se’s smart, funny and loves me and my kids. I look forward to the things she has to say just as much as to sitting down at the end of the night with her after a rough day at work. I’ll invite her to get a gym membership with me because I think that is a great idea. But I love who she is now, and I think I’m happy”.

Diagnosis:

Jake, while once suffering from severe and chronic Boy-Dumb, seems to be responding to treatment. While I cannot fully diagnose remission, I can say that I’ve witnessed progress in his protocols. I am quite certain that we will witness an acute onset in the future and often, but I believe we have the disease under control at this point.

The therapy – Truth, candor, and respect that woman are not gentle, delicate petals any longer. We are strong, ambitious and beautiful. We will not break at a suggestion towards self-improvement. We will not fall because some afflicted boy tells us we aren’t meeting all of his needs. No, dear friends. We, quite frankly, are tough broads these days. I’d honestly be more worried about our somewhat fragile male counterparts.

Jake, here’s to your evolution

Friends, I’d love to hear other cases of the incurable disease. Calling for other diagnoses, please

Thank a Teacher Day – in honor of my friend

Good morning, Dear Friends. Please indulge me this morning as I specifically want to congratulate someone very near and dear to me.

Forrest, I’d like to tell everyone this morning how much I’ve learned from you in the Art of Toad Kissing – both personally and professionally. You, who taught me to make spreadsheets of characteristics to analyze the men I was dating. You who gave me seeds of knowledge that I was able to cultivate and use to become so much more than I had ever thought professionally. You were my teacher, and you are my friend.

Thank you for being the Peas to my Carrots, Forrest.

Congratulations on your new Role. It is both impressive and well-earned. May your brilliance outshine even your past successes.

And for all of my Dear readers and friends, remember to say Thank You today when someone shares their knowledge with you. It is priceless

xoxo

Jenny