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Finding words to begin again

Wild Geese

I disappeared for awhile there because I lost my voice. Well, not my voice so much as my words. They just left me.

In the days and weeks after my mom passed away, I had to have all the words. Words to let family members and friends know the devastating news the doctors had delivered to us, words to let the doctors know it was time to stop the machinery that was keeping our mamacita alive when she had already left us (for all intents and purposes) days before, words to choose a casket and flowers and an outfit remotely suitable enough for saying goodbye to our mamacita, words to write my mom’s obituary and eulogy and the thank you notes to all of the sweet people who delivered meals, held us, sat with us, told us stories about our mamacita and shook their heads in disbelief with us, words to navigate the phone calls to banks, insurance companies and probate court, words to explain death to a 7-year-old who had just lost his best friend, words to console my stunned father who was in the midst of a conversation with my mamacita when she left us, words to explain to my husband why I couldn’t come straight home from the grocery store because I was bawling in my car. There were just so many words that had to be said in the weeks and months immediately after my mamacita died.

Then the semester started and I needed to be a good teacher (well, as good as I could be at the moment), a good mother, a good volunteer for Circle de Luz and my other commitments. Then there were professional projects that had to get done and emergencies and the stuff that lines life all demanding the same thing: still more words.  And, finally, the school year was over and the world seemed to lose its mind and I was still managing my mother’s estate, my dad’s next steps, my little family’s life, and big transitions in different parts of my life, and the word well, which was already sort of dry, totally evaporated.

In the last couple months, I have been probably the quietest I have ever been. Not just in my writing life, but in all areas of my life. A few weeks ago, I told a friend how weary I was, how exhausted, how extinguished. But I couldn’t even find those words. I said, “I just feel so….” and she was the one who filled in the blank.

I kept thinking, ‘I want my light back.’ But, truth be told, I’ve been so extinguished that I was starting to think any memories of light weren’t memories at all but mirages.

Then last week, we went on our annual trip to Sunset Beach, a little barrier island off the coast of North Carolina. And there, washed in salt water and sweat and even tears, I felt a little something shift in me. Like words might be coming back to me, like I might have something to say, like maybe I was still tired but not so weary. Like maybe, just maybe, way was being made within me, like maybe I was no longer weighed down by all the lead balloons, maybe some of them had popped or drifted, somehow.

I am no expert on grief.  I’ve just been a person sitting in it for a little more than the last year, but what I’ve learned over this time is that it is best not to force the healing or happiness or productivity or profundity, either.  Waiting for your soul to journey through its loss and its new growth actually gives it the room to find something true.  There is no timetable for when the words come back.  For some people, it might be days, others months, others years.  To paraphrase Mary Oliver, you just have to let the soft animal of your body feel what it feels until it is ready to announce your new place in the family of things.

So, I have found words again. Not all of them, but enough to begin again. I look forward to communing with you again in this space, allowing our words, spoken and unspoken, to connect us and our souls to radiate light for each of us to use to navigate the terrain ahead. Thank you for being patient with me. Thank you for being there for me. Thank you for the light you offer the world (because you do, even if you sometimes doubt it).

In the Woods

For years, I have dreamed of taking the time for a writer’s residency where I just parked myself somewhere still, ignored my responsibilities, and wrote for a while. But the timing was never quite right and my teaching schedule really limited my ability to do it.

But, then, this past fall, I attended the Innovation Institute’s Think Like An Artist two-day workshop, and I was reminded of my longing to retreat. It felt like maybe things were settled enough at home that I could go for it. Moreover, I had decided to take the fall of 2016 off from teaching and so I knew that I had a little bit more time to try to fit one in. With that in mind, I researched Writer’s Residencies (basically, the idea is that you apply to usually non-profit artist or retreat centers that host visiting artists for a period of time that allows them to focus on creating and the cost ranges from $0 to a suggested nightly fee or flat rate) and found some that I wanted to apply to based on fit (location, structure, timing, etc.).

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The first deadline was for Wild Acres retreat center, and so I got my materials together, sent them off, and held my breath. In late winter, I was thrilled to learn that I had been accepted there.

Wildacres Retreat is a conference center offering its facilities to non-profit groups conducting educational or cultural programs on topics such as music, art, science, religion, lapidary, craft and writing. It is also available for staff and board retreats for non-profit organization. At an elevation of 3,300 feet, Wildacres is situated on 1,600 acres atop Pompey’s Knob, a mountain near the Blue Ridge Parkway in Little Switzerland, North Carolina.

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In addition to their normal conference center offerings, Wild Acres has three cabins that they offer weekly to artists for residency. Artists can create all day and dine, as they wish, at the staff table at the conference center. The residency is free after one pays a $20 application fee. The only costs are transportation to the retreat center and any food you decide to prepare on your own.

As my May retreat week neared, I started thinking about what I would write from three options I was considering:

Option #1: Work on the non-fiction book that had been brewing inside of me and felt like it was my next book.

Option #2: Work on a novel that I probably started in 2005 and then stopped after getting a contract for Hijas Americanas.

Option #3: Start a collection of essays about motherhood/daughterhood (yeah, I know that’s not a word but I am taking poetic license).

What I hadn’t realized when I was applying, though, was how stunted my writing and creativity have been since my mother’s death. In many ways, I am still in a place of deep grief and reflecting, and writing, for me, is a process of discovering what I know deep down within. What I knew about me and the world was altered a year ago, and I am not quite sure that I know anything new yet or have fully synthesized the things that I used to know through this new lens. When this occurred to me, I realized that this retreat would be an especially interesting challenge and one that would require me to make way before way had been made within me. Because I just wanted to practice writing again, I wanted to see if I could string one word with another and have them MEAN something, mean something worth investing in, I decided that I would work on the novel. It felt, on the surface, like the most emotionally safe thing for beginning again.

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And then I got to Wild Acres, unpacked my little cabin, and started rereading the novel and what I remembered was that the main character had lost her mother to cancer. Life imitating art indeed. It’s funny how life knows what to do.

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My residency was Monday to Sunday, and it came during a week of downpours, and so I spent every morning and afternoon just working away in my cabin with a daily word goal of at least 2500 new words, at least 10 new pages written.

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Each day, I would start by reading and editing what I had written before, plotting out what I thought would happen that day or points I wanted to make, and then writing word after word until I reached my goal. It wasn’t effortless, but I did it over and over again. If I reached my goal early, I read. And then each night, I would make the journey up the mountain to the retreat center (sometimes by foot on a hiking trail, sometimes by car, depending on the weather) for dinner with the gracious Wild Acres staff and the two other artist residents for the week- Cynthia Lee, an incredible potter specializing in hand builds and Rachel Pollock, a fiercely creative writer, professor, and costume designer. Cynthia and Rachel were wonderful company, and I found their work so inspiring. Sometimes while I was up the mountain for dinner, I would check email or text messages (there was no signal down in the cabin), but, mostly, I tried to just focus on my writing that week. On Saturday, with our self-imposed writing expectations met, Rachel and I ventured into Little Switzerland for a delicious lunch and a stroll through a little gallery.

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The gift of that week was incredible, and I am really so humbled that Wild Acres offered me this opportunity. What they give artists is beyond a gift; for me, it was breath and air, a way back into me when that route has felt both so very far away and rugged.

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Finally, though I have no idea what will become of this novel, I wanted to share just a little bit of it with of you. If you want to catch other excerpts, you can find them here and here.

“I just stopped to tell Anna,” I say. “I am running home to Charlotte to clean up my classroom and get clothes and then I’ll be in Atlanta for a while.”

“Anna,” he says, and it occurs to me that he thought I had stopped at the pub to see him, to tell him. And, maybe, I did, but I don’t really know and now I can see him trying to repackage this in a way that isn’t too much for me but still true to him.

“Listen,” he says and his hands fall to mine, gently holding them. “I know this is a whole lot for you to deal with and I want you to know that it’s not too much for me. I am here for whatever you need. I can be in Atlanta in an hour. It’s not exactly the best timing, I know, but I loved Sunday and I would like nothing more than to string together even more days like Sunday with you.”

Overwhelmed with his words, with his intentions, I nod. And, yet, I don’t have any hypothetical Sundays to give him right now. I have a little brother who I have long neglected who needs me to show up this time and, truth be told, I am terrified that when I finally show up for him it will be for his death and the idea of that is wrecking and consuming me.

“Yeah, cancer never really has the best timing, does it?” I say, and my joke falls flat.

His face registers something, and I see his features change with that realization.

He hugs me one more time and then gives me a final pat on the back before saying, “You be sweet, Cami Cruz. You have my number if you need me, if you need anything at all.”

And though I want to explain myself, though I want to find words to keep this from being the end of us, though I want to tell him to just let me get to the other side of this cancer and then maybe I can figure out how to make room for him not just in my life but in my heart, what I know deep down inside is what I already knew on Sunday. Justin Sawyer is capable of reading every single one of my fault lines and to be known like that is a reality that I cannot bear.

The Kids Are Alright Spring 2016

a slide from a Body Image class conversation

a slide from a Body Image class conversation

At the end of each semester, my body image students write a process paper where they synthesize their learning- both personal and academic- for the semester. These papers are always a delight to read and there is so much wisdom in them that I just have to share a fraction of it (with my students’ permission, of course) with you. Here, some wise words from my students this semester. May they give you hope and inspiration the way they did me.   

Self-Acceptance isn’t selfish.

I’ve learned that body acceptance isn’t about selfishness, but about self-acceptance, which cannot be fully realized until I release this idea that I can’t be beautiful and realized while also uplifting and learning about other individual’s journeys. Moving forward, this class has given me perspective into interaction with other people knowing that they have stories and experiences that maybe I cannot understand, but that I know impacted them in ways such that my own experiences have impacted me. Body image is so much more than how you perceive yourself, it’s how you hold yourself, how you behave around others, and going forward I know that I need to comprehend and respect that in every facet of my life. ~Howie

 

Our bodies do not hinder us the way our minds do.

My physical appearance doesn’t hinder me from anything, but my self-esteem/mentality does. I had to realize that in order to first begin my journey to self-love.  ~Samantha

 

My body’s job is NOT to please others.

I realize now that my body is not something that society can say is wrong or unattractive because it is not my body’s job to be pleasing for others. My body’s job is to take me on my life adventures, to be my vehicle and if I am not taking care of my body or if I keep punishing my body then I am essentially just stranding my vehicle and not going anywhere.  ~Timbre

 

It is not any of your business what anyone else thinks of you.

Before going into this class, I knew in my head that a lot of people’s body image issues are tied to media, family, culture, and peers, but actually learning the statistics and numbers behind those truths taught me about the society that we live in.  We live in a society that tells us that if we are “overweight,” we are lazy and disgusting. If we are “underweight,” we need to eat more. If you love yourself, you’re conceited and full of it. If you hate the way you look, you just need to love yourself.  There is no way to please society. No matter what you feel about yourself, it will always be thrown back in your face.  What I’ve learned during the course of this semester is that no one’s opinion of yourself matters more than your own. Your opinion is the only one that should matter to you.  If you like you, what other people think of you or what society thinks you should be is all background noise. ~Melody

 

It is time to end the war.

I think things really clicked for me when the two ladies came to talk about Health at Every Size. They talked about how our bodies are like a vehicle to get us through this life. And that is exactly what we had been saying throughout the entire semester. But for some reason, it really clicked for me when these two women were talking about it. I left that class realizing that my body is not an enemy. Food is not an enemy. I realized that this is my one and only body. This is my vehicle for the rest of my life. I don’t want to live my whole life at war with my own body. This body has gotten me through so much. ~Becky

an open letter to my class on the last day of school

primed for struggle

It was an easy moment. There I was helping Happy get dressed for bed and he was struggling to pull up his pajama bottoms after putting on lotion. He twisted, grunted, tugged.

“The struggle is real, baby. Isn’t it?” I asked him.

He looked at me with that profound open face of his and said, “That’s all of life, mama. You just gotta keep trying.”

And, just like that, my nostrils flared, my eyes welled with tears, and, so as not to scare him with how true his words were, I embraced him. I pulled him so close that I was practically tasting his mango butter leave-in conditioner, and I felt his certainty.

“Yes, baby. Life is a struggle. And you just have to know that you already have everything inside of you that you need. You just have to keep going.”

Here is the awful news: life is hard. Just by itself, no human miscalculation, error or drama factored in, it is hard. And then we add our stuff to it—the stuff that happens to us, the stuff that we do to ourselves, the stuff we do to others—and life gets really dense, really fast.

But here is the amazing thing, the thing that it can take a whole life to realize but doesn’t have to: you already have everything inside of you that you need. And it is worth it- you are worth it- to keep going.

Here is what I have witnessed in you and from you in the last four months: profound compassion, inspired asking, deep yearning, an unquenchable thirst to understand, a true desire to connect, a healing, uniting humor, a broken open hope, a quixotic magic.

And those things aren’t just sweet. They aren’t quaint. Those are the practices, the ways of being that change everything, that heal us as a people, that create connection and change and progress.

At any given moment, what we control varies but what we always control is our relationship with ourselves. Every morning when you wake up, choose you. Choose to give yourself self-respect, patience, care. Choose to believe in yourself and treat yourself well. Choose to matter to you.

Life is primed for struggle, but while the struggle can be for you, it should never be against yourself. As our journey together draws to a close, I want you to remember that you are all you have got in any given moment. Let the truth of that bring you home. To you.   Let it crystallize anything you still need. You have everything you need inside of you. You just have to reach inside for it.

You don’t have the time to be mean to yourself. You don’t have armored souls that make those barbs not matter. You don’t have the luxury of doing the type of damage in minutes that it will take years, decades, a lifetime to undo. What you have are these gorgeous spirits that you have allowed us each to glimpse, yearning to be free. But to be truly free, they have to know they will be safe in your world. That you will fight for, honor, and cherish them.

I have glimpsed you, and I know your magic. And I know that the world needs that magic now. Put down the sword you have used against yourself. Pick up your wand. Go do what you were meant to do. And when it gets hard, keep trying. Stay gold.

At the end of each semester, I write my students a letter that is unique to their class.  This was the letter for my body image class this semester.

Want to read some past letters?

You can change us.

The world is aching for you to show up. 

The world needs your lightness 

We hunger to be known.  

Answer the call into your own greatness 

Radiate Love 

Do the world’s work 

And here is the letter I share with them on the first day of school.  

It’s not you. It’s me.

Thank you so much for your supportive words last week as I shared about grief and the creative process (or, at least, my creative process). This week will be especially intense as what would have been my mom’s 77th birthday is upon us and we’ll gather together as a family to remember her (big breaths in and out and lots of hand holding and hugging are in order).

We’re nearing the end of the semester which means i am doing what I love most: reading my student’s Beautiful You journals and final process papers. My students this semester? Responsible for big feelings.

While I buckle down and get this semester wrapped, I wanted to share with you a podcast that I had the joy of being a part of recently.

“Our responsibility is not to match the standard of beauty that we’re given in the advertising world. Our responsibility is to feel well enough so we can go out and do what’s purposeful and passionate for us.”  -Rosie Molinary

 

Amy Medling is the PCOS Diva and she helps women move beyond the pain, struggle and symptoms of PCOS so that they, in turn, can live the life they were meant to live and shine their light without PCOS holding them back. Amy came across Beautiful You for the first time in 2011 and has been recommending it to her clients for years. I follow and really admire Amy’s work and was so honored when she asked me to be a part of her podcast.  In this episode, we talk about self-acceptance, self-care, building positive and healthy relationships with ourselves, recognizing that worthiness is our birthright and more.

Listen or read  the transcript here.  

“A lot of women say, ‘I don’t have the luxury of taking care of myself.’ The reality is you don’t have the luxury not to.”

Rosie Molinary

Lately + End Self-Defeat

So, it struck me last week that while I feel that I’ve moved through some parts of the grief of losing my mom, there are other ways where I still feel really present in that sadness and still trying to find a new normal. I know that grief has no timeline (and is a sneaky little son of a gun) but when you are living it, you don’t always observe it and so it was interesting to really have this moment of NOTICING it last week.

One of the ways that I have seen my grief impact me is in my creativity. I have not been able to easily create from scratch (total blank page in front of me, just go) since losing my mom.   From scratch just isn’t my repertoire right now. It takes a lot more of the upfront creative process—note card brainstorming, starting and stopping, looking up something I’ve written before and turning it on its side—for me to create these days. Out of thin air isn’t accessible to me right now. Which is totally fine, I love the creative process and am always studying it in general and my own in particular so I’m not panicked; just curious. I think what I am seeing is that I just don’t have words yet; my words are so lost in my grief, in my sadness, in the unbelievableness of it all. And you have to believe something to have words, to write them, I think.

This creative middle way will be especially interesting to observe in a few weeks when I head to the mountains for a week-long solo writer’s retreat (without internet or cell service!) in a little tiny cabin in the woods (it has been a longtime dream of mine to go on a writer’s retreat and I finally feel like Happy is old enough for me to be gone for that amount of time so I dared myself to apply to one and was blessed with being chosen for it). I have three different project ideas that I am toying with (a novel that I started years ago that is waiting for its ending, a new non-fiction book about purpose, and/ or a collection of personal essays) so I think that I’ll just see which one speaks to me the most that week, allows me to squeeze the most out of it for the time we have and resolve to let that week be the balm to my creative soul as opposed to a productive boon. I think I will be doing a whole lot of what Anne Lamott advises, writing a bunch of shitty first drafts.

Though, I am just kicking the dust off of my writing mind, I am excited to share with you some other work that I have been doing. This week, I am sharing one opportunity for you to get a self-acceptance booster shot from me via a tele-summit while I turn my attention to the written from.  Next week, I’ll be sharing another podcast that I recently did on self-acceptance that you can tune into anytime you want (or even read as there’s a transcript!).

LYBT

Stop the Self-Defeat.

A few weeks ago, I was invited to be a part of The Love Your Body Type Summit which is being hosted by Tasha Norman and will feature 15 women experts who are going to share their stories and their biggest tips for loving yourself, NOW, no matter what anyone else says or thinks!

You’re invited to join us, at no cost, starting April 27 for “The Love Your Body Type Summit.”

Sign up here:

Love Yourself, Right Now <<< Join Us At No Cost Starting April 27

Tasha has designed this summit with the curves in mind, but I bet this will be the type of experience that is good for anyone who struggles with loving themselves, no matter how they would label their body.

It’s all about being confident with where you are now. It’s all about loving yourself.

Tasha has invited more than a dozen experts to join this summit and we’re sharing our best tips, wisdom and immediate action steps designed to empower you and to help you overcome self-defeat.

You will learn how to:

  • Reverse negative self-talk, immediately, whenever it starts.
  • Maintain confidence even if someone shuns you because of your curvy body type.
  • Feel loveable even when you feel undesired or unhappy because of your curves.
  • And more.

As a curvy woman and fitness professional, Tasha created this summit because she has felt uncomfortable in dance classes and fitness classes. This summit brings together women who have reached different milestones on their journeys. Some have overcome the pain and found outstanding success. Others are still on the journey to self-empowerment, and are experiencing success while bearing scars.

When you join us for “The Love Your Body Type Summit,” you will hear stories of recovery, joy and self-acceptance.

It is my privilege to share with you that it is possible to feel fit, fierce, and confident, starting right now.

Imagine being part of a unified movement that inspires women to feel great about their bodies!

This is your opportunity. Sign up to join us, at no cost, here:

Feel Great About YOU <<< Reserve Your Spot In The Love Your Body Type Summit

And, of course, please feel free to share this opportunity with your friends.

seeing the light!

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Every spring, our Circle de Luz hijas train to run the CPCC Skyline 5k in an event we call Run Big Dream Big.  The race is a way for them to connect with what their amazing bodies can do.  It’s a way for them to enjoy the outdoors.  It’s a way for them to see parts of Charlotte they don’t normally see and meet great women who train alongside them.  But the race is more than that really. As they complete six races over the course of their years in our program, they realize that Run Big Dream Big is not just something to do on an early Saturday morning it April.  It’s a metaphor for how they live their lives.  It is the THE metaphor for life.  It is the type of journey that allows them to see how their life can be lit up.

Because I so profoundly believe in our hijas’ ability to cross every finish line before them, I use the Run Big  Dream Big experience to raise funds for the over 50 programs we offer our girls each year.  Today, I am asking you to take a moment to learn more about our hijas’ dreams by watching this incredibly inspiring music video (I bet you’ll recognize the song that inspired it) and making a donation of $20 (or any amount that you are comfortable donating) to our Run Big Dream Big VII efforts. If you prefer to mail a check, you can do so by making it out to Circle de Luz (put RBDB- Rosie Molinary in the memo line) and mailing it to PO Box 2 Davidson NC 28036.  This donation is tax-deductible, and you will receive a receipt.

With your generous support, every single one of our girls can cross her literal and metaphorical finish line! Thanks so much!

Tuning out the noise

anne lamott

I was driving an eighth-grade girl I mentored home from lunch. Passing by the university where I teach, I pointed it out to her.

“What do you teach?” she asked, and I explained what Women’s and Gender Studies and, more specifically, body image are.

“Like how I think I’m fat?” she asked.

My heart stopped. “How long have you thought you were fat?” I asked.

“Since last year.”

“Did something happen to make you think that?”

“Yes,” she said. “ My friend, who is really skinny told me I was too heavy.”

 

“Listen,” I started.  “When that girl said you were too heavy, that statement was about her and not you,” I said. “For whatever reason, she is insecure, and she deals with it by saying distracting things to other people who might fuel her insecurity. Does that make sense?  When we are really hurt about something going on for us, we sometimes lash out to others about that thing in some way.”

She looked at me and nodded, and slowly began to relay things she had observed in her friend that might reveal the depth of her insecurities.

“Why listen to this one person?” I told her. “Why let her opinion have so much weight, especially given what you thought about yourself—that you were just fine—up until the day this one friend said that to you?”

“That’s a very good question,” she whispered, looking out her window.

Today, carefully consider the things you believe because just one person said them to you. Why have you given that person that power? How can you stop listening to the one?

There is no perfect. There is no imperfect.

Day 41 Humanity Not Mass Produced

Quick… name the opposite.

Dark…

Tall…

Can lightness exist if there is no darkness? Can tall exist if no one is short? Continuums can only exist if there is a place to go on the other side and if there are stops in between. And so when I ask you to name the opposite of this word…

Imperfect…

What comes to mind? Did you think perfect? But don’t we know there is no perfect? That perfect is an idea and not a truth. That perfect is simply a construct to sell us a bag of goods or actions or insecurities. There is no perfect way to look, no perfect way to behave. If there were, then we would not have been designed to be such unique, individual beings.

Humanity wasn’t mass produced. We are each individual works of art, our own masterpieces. We are like our fingerprints, snowflakes even, as novel as the tinkling of our unique laughter. And so here’s the thing that we all know, that we hear ourselves say sometimes but maybe have never really registered, “THERE IS NO PERFECT.”

If there is no perfect, there is no imperfect, either. Perfect is a farce, designed to make us yearn for something different and, if we do that, then we’ll constantly consume. Maybe this diet will make me thin enough, this mascara will make my lashes lush enough, this bronzer will make me glow enough. If we’re chasing perfect, there’s always another step we can take.

But imperfect is just as much of a farce. If we feel we are imperfect, we yearn just as much, we chase just as much, we spend just as much energy and time and money on getting to perfect.

So, here’s the truth. There is no perfect. There is no imperfect. We are each uniquely made. That is no accident. That is no mistake. We are divine as we are.

it is not about the cupcake

it is not about the cupcake

As has become tradition here on the blog, every Valentine’s Day, I tell the same story.  It’s the story of one of the biggest fights in my marriage to BF.  And though it seems like it is about a cupcake, I cannot stress enough that it is NOT about the cupcake:

This is the funny thing about our marriage.  BF and I are about as different as two people can be.  I mean, we are seriously different.  But this has worked to our advantage because it means we have to communicate and compromise about everything.  Anyway, because of our differences, we know that we’re not going to feel the same about most things, and so we just go into every discussion knowing there will be lots of communication until we get to the other side.  Since we don’t expect to see eye to eye on everything, we rarely fight.  Except when BF takes something that is mine. Without asking.  Because I just think that is disrespectful.

The most common thing I don’t want to share without being asked is my dessert.  Not because I want the sugar so badly (okay, maybe a little bit is that), I swear, but just because I think you shouldn’t take something that is not yours.  It would be one thing if he asked.  It would be another thing if I didn’t ALWAYS say, “I have a cookie in there I really want to eat, please don’t eat it.”  But I always do, and he never listens.

It’s enough to drive a woman who once won a Holly Hobby cake in a raffle as a four year old but was sick the day it came home and her family devoured it without saving her a piece bonkers.  No, there are no issues here.  Move along.  I just want to explain that my territorialness about sugar, I mean asking, has deep roots.  And I am forthright about it.  You’d think a boy would learn. But he hasn’t.  Or maybe he has, because just last week there was a mini-sugar situation in our house.  But this time BF didn’t eat my cookie (I made him his own set of cookies as a surprise and just asked to have one that I sealed away in aluminum foil for later), he threw it away.  And we survived it, and everyone went to bed happy at our house (or maybe I’ve just learned that there is no guarantee that one will enjoy any sugary goodness that lands in our house).  Unlike Valentine’s Day 2007.  Speaking of Valentine’s Day, happy day, BF.  I wouldn’t trade you for the world.  Or even a cupcake which I know is kinda hard to believe.

Here we go:

I love cake.  Grocery store cake to be specific.  Give me some grocery store vanilla cake with vanilla icing and you have a girl who doesn’t need any other sustenance.

Anyway, for Valentine’s Day 2007, BF’s aunt gave us two cupcakes.  Grocery store cupcakes.  With a lot of icing.  I was so psyched about the cupcake that in the car, on the way home from dinner at his aunt’s house, I was talking about when I was going to eat my cupcake.  Yes, I am simple; I don’t play otherwise.  I know this about myself, but, here is the thing, I don’t ever get grocery store cake or cupcakes and so a little part of me was dancing inside from the rare impending sugar rush.

BF looked at me nonchalantly and said, “You can have my cupcake.”

“Are you kidding me,”  I asked.  “Because if you are, that is just cruel.”

“I am not kidding you,” he answered.  “I don’t need to be eating that.”  He actually said that line with a hint of self-satisfaction, as if he were mature enough to rise above the cupcake trance that I was so clearly in. But I ignored him because I knew that I needed the cupcake– both cupcakes.  Whatever, dude, be self-righteous.  I just want the cupcakes.

So I started planning, aloud in the car, when I would eat each cupcake.

“Thank you, thank you, thank you,”  I exclaimed, as if he had given me something gold and shiny.  But this was better than gold and shiny.  Sugar is my gold and shiny.

Back home, I dropped my cupcakes off in the kitchen and then retreated to my office to work on whatever deadline I had approaching, and BF went to bed.  Finally at a good stopping place a couple hours later, I walked through the kitchen on the way to our bedroom.  My eyes darted to the cupcakes that I had so lovingly wrapped in tin foil.  Panic struck.  Even through the tin foil, I could see that one of the cupcakes was missing.  I opened up the foil.  Just one cupcake looked back.

Mercury rose through my spine.  I marched into the bedroom and noisily opened my dresser drawer, stomped my way into the bathroom, threw on every light, hummed my way through my bedtime routine until BF woke up with a jump.

“What?”  He asked, as he always does when he is awakened from a deep sleep (except for that one time I elbowed him to wake up his snoring self at the NUTCRACKER and he said something very different and not appropriate for the Nutcracker audience.  We have not returned to the Nutcracker.).

I turned to him, put my hands on my hips, and said “I can’t believe you would do something so tacky as to eat my cupcake without asking.”

“It was my cupcake,” he tried to reason.

“No it was not,”  I said.  “And that doesn’t matter because this is not about the cupcake.”

“It is too about the cupcake,” he insisted.

“It is not.  This is about you offering me something and then regretting the offering and rather than coming to ask me if you could have it back like an adult, you just did what you wanted.  That is no way to be in a partnership,”  I sneered.

“You’re just mad that I ate MY cupcake,” he volleyed.

“This is NOT about the cupcake,” I fumed and ranted and raved until we both just went to sleep.  And I promise it wasn’t about the cupcakes.  It was about what eating my cupcake without asking symbolized.  I swear.

In the morning, he looked at me when I hopped out of bed.  “I am sorry that I ate your cupcake,”  he offered.

“It’s not about you eating the cupcake,” I tried again.  “Don’t you get that?”

“Yeah, I do,”  he answered before leaving for work.  But I wondered all day if he really did get it.  Sure, I love cake, and I love the anticipation of cake.  But I also love sharing things I love with people that I love, and I would have been happy to give the cupcake back if he had just asked.  That night, he walked into the house with a six pack of grocery store cupcakes.

“What’s that?”  I honed in, my cake-dar on high.

“A peace offering,”  he answered.  “Now, you have five cupcakes all to yourself.”

I did a double take, clearly counting six cupcakes in the container.  “But there are six cupcakes,” the greedy little cake hoarder in me said.

“And one of them is mine,”  he smiled before walking into the kitchen, opening the case, and savoring his cupcake.

Wishing you the happiest of Valentine’s Day as you celebrate the love- whether it comes from partnership, child(ren), parents, siblings, friends, colleagues- you have and give in your life.  May nobody eat your cupcakes.