10. Romance and roller coasters…thrill or churro?

We’ve all heard Rascal Flatt’s cover of the Tom Cochrane song,  Life is a Highway.  The song compares life to a road that we travel along.  When we share this road with someone special, life’s burdens and detours become manageable, motivating us to travel this road for as long as possible…or at least “all night long.”


If life is a highway, then romance is a roller coaster.  Whether it’s our first ride or fiftieth, we approach the line, ticket in hand, with the same excitement, apprehension, and fear each time.  As the ride operator pulls down our harness and checks that we are safely locked in place, doubt and fear flood the mind.

“Why am I doing this?  What if my harness fails and I wind up plunging to my death on the first inverted loop?  Maybe I should just call to the attendant to set me free and go get a churro instead.”

But then the thumbs up signal is given, and the car takes off before you have a chance to chicken out and run to the safety of the churro stand. Most coasters begin with a long and terrifying climb up a traditional ‘lift hill.’ This hill creates the potential energy that then turns to the kinetic energy necessary for the flips, turns, and exhilarating speed the car will experience.

During that climb, you say one last prayer as you approach the top, willing your harness and every nut and bolt holding your car on the tracks, to remain in place.  The view from above is breathtaking.   And in that last moment, suspended at the top, your heart beating out of your chest, you surrender to it and prepare for the ride of your life.


Like any high thrill coaster, online dating is not for the faint of heart. Most online profiles speak of loving the outdoors, fitness, music, and the beach. They boldly declare their mission of finding their best friend, partner in crime, or one true soul-mate…even though many are just looking for a “good times” friend, partner in the “sheets,” or one night “bed” mate. While some are upfront about their intentions, others falsely advertise who they are and what they are seeking.


In my profile, I mention that I am a roller coaster enthusiast, sharing that I love the thrill of all the emotions one feels as the car leaves the safety of the loading area and then screaming my head off as I enjoy every dip, twist, and loop.

Soon after writing my profile, I made the connection between romance and roller coaster rides while speaking to someone I had met on online.  After a few days of messages back and forth through the site, we had exchanged cell phone numbers and began texting.  The texting soon led to a phone conversation, which then led to a date.


In a week of texting and speaking over the phone, I had learned quite a lot about this man…his divorce, child, job, likes, dislikes.  Our conversation was easy, playful, and full of laughter. We already shared some private jokes that made our connection seem comfortable and genuine.  Each message or call was like the climb up the lift hill, building on possibilities for something more.

There are no set rules for online dating.  Some say don’t waste your time texting and talking but rather meet and see if the sparks fly as soon as possible.  Others feel the opposite, that ample communication should take place before a meeting is arranged.  I found myself somewhere in the middle and after some texts and a phone conversation that went really well, was ready to see what happened when our car “reached the top of the lift hill.”

Before entering the restaurant the afternoon of our meeting, I found myself very nervous.  I had high hopes for a great in-person connection since we had already hit it off so well over the phone.  In the moment outside the door I felt that fight or flight response…walk through the door or make a run for the safety of my car.  I had to make a decision…what was it going to be?  Thrill or churro?

Luckily, I chose thrill.  I took a deep breath and walked right up to my date already waiting for me with a glass of wine at the bar.  We greeted each other with a warm hug and quick peck on the cheek or was it the lips? I was too nervous to take aim properly.

The rest of the date went as well as our messages and calls.  We had made it past the lift hill and were zooming along the track of real in-person dating.  While it’s still early, I am excited to see where it leads.  So for now, I’m just holding on tight, laughing and enjoying every dip, twist, and loop that may come my way.  More importantly, I am just really proud of myself for being brave enough to stick around for that thumbs up signal!

Peace and love ☺♥

9. I hope you dance…my wish for 2018

As 2017 comes to a close, I find myself, like many others, reflecting on the past year while looking forward to a new year of possibilities.  Looking back, 2017 was very good to me…and to my daughter. I can say with certainty that it was a year where both of us grew and changed for the better.


At the close of each year, as the countdown reaches zero and we welcome a new year, confetti fills the air, lovers share passionate kisses, and the song, Auld Lang Syne is sung by all.  This song, based on a poem by the Scot, Robert Burns is a reminder to remember and hold dear in our hearts the old friends of our past. It makes a toast to the year ahead with hopes of health and happiness for the future. I can’t seem to listen to the song without thinking about my mother and sister, both of which are no longer with us. The song brings to mind all the happy memories we shared as well as the many life lessons they taught me over the years.


In the short 15 years I had my mother on this earth, she taught me how to love with all my heart and soul.  She showed me the importance of empathy, kindness, and family. While I’ve lived more years without her than with her, we are cut from the same cloth and I am fortunate to have her admirable traits woven deep within my core.

My sister and mother at my sister’s college singing recital, 1984 Fredonia, NY

My only sibling, my older sister, was also my best friend and second mother from the age of 15 on.  She taught me more lessons than I could fit on this blog. Among the most important, she taught me to believe in myself and to never give up, no matter how hard the fight.  As a high school music teacher, she taught her students so much more than scales and breathing techniques.  She pushed them to be their very best and she inspired them to reach for their dreams.

My daughter and sister in the summer of 2014

Me, my daughter, and sister.   Christmas 2014 in Little Rock, Arkansas 

At the close of each school year, my sister would gather all her graduating seniors in her chorus room and serenade them with the song, I Hope You Dance.  Her students loved to hear her sing and were genuinely touched by the message she sent to each of them as they were about to head out into the real world–to live their lives without fear and never sit out any opportunity that life may put in their path.


Upon my sister’s death a few years ago, hundreds of past students attended her services.  On the last night of her wake, these students, joined by my daughter, returned the favor and sang the most beautiful, heart-felt version of the song back to her. Anyone who was there that night will tell you that they now have a special connection to my sister’s memory through this song.  For myself, when I hear it, I know it’s a sign from her, telling me to keep taking chances and going after my dreams and to never “sit out” any opportunity that life brings me.

So, inspired by the upcoming new year and the important messages my sister continues to send me to “dance,” I have included 4 lessons that I have learned in 2017 that I will carry with me into the new year.

1. When given the opportunity to do something amazing…do it!

2017 was a year of travel with trips to Florida, London, Paris, and Aruba.  Although these trips altogether were expensive, the benefits certainly outweighed the monetary cost. Experiencing a great deal of loss within a short period of time teaches you to seize the moment and make as many wonderful memories with loved ones as possible. rocketship

So, when the opportunity to meet cast members from the Harry Potter movies comes up, grab your wand and head to Florida..even if it’s just for a day and a half.  When a friend from your college days invites you to stay with her at her flat in London and suggests a few days in Paris, renew your passport and dust off your high school french.  And when your week to visit your late sister’s timeshare in Aruba arrives, pack your bikini and sunscreen and finally head to that “one happy island,” even if it’s a place that had been too painful to visit in the previous two years.

2. Take care of your body…it’s the only one you’re going to get.

2017 was also a year of committing to my health.  I began the year at my heaviest weight ever and within 6 months dropped almost 80 pounds. It was a strict program but I was dedicated to looking and feeling good and being around a long time for my daughter.  One year later, I have more confidence, energy, and a completely new fabulous wardrobe!


3. Put yourself first by finding out (or recalling) what makes YOU happy.

In 2017, I started to put myself first.  By recalling the things that used to bring me joy, I found myself again after being lost for a really long time.  My priorities still include the well-being of my daughter but I have learned how to balance my responsibilities as a mother with my responsibilities to making myself happy.  The biggest joy that is back in my life is writing.  This blog has become my saving grace, reminding me to never stop doing what gives you joy.


4. Don’t be afraid to love again…there is someone out there for everyone.

This year I was finally ready to enter the dating scene again.  After a bumpy and very hesitant start on a couple of online dating sites, I am hopeful that I will one day meet my Mr. Right-be it online or the old-fashioned way. Last month, my friend set me up with a great guy visiting from out of state and we had a wonderful time.  It felt so good to talk, laugh, and feel attracted to someone again.  The date definitely helped relight a flame that had been extinguished for too long. Although the idea of dating as a single mother in her 40’s is scary, I am excited about the future and the possibility of finding love again.


I hope you all have had a wonderful 2017 full of love, adventure, and many lessons to learn from.  My wish for all of us for 2018 is that we “dance” and “never lose our sense of wonder” when it comes to this amazing journey called life.


Dedicated to my beautiful sister and guardian angel, Michelle. ♥

Peace and love ☺♥

2. I’m back….thanks to Amazon Prime


Countless books have been written and movies produced about how people, most of them women, have found their way back to the person they once were.  Remember the passion when Stella Got Her Groove Back?  Wasn’t it inspiring to watch Julia Roberts Eat, Pray, Love?  And who could forget Robin Williams finding his way while donning facial prosthesis, a grey wig, and the fake, old lady boobs of Mrs. Doubtfire? While each of these characters chose different vehicles to make their way back to their true selves, each had to peel away at the layers of discontent that had built up over the years, mainly after being in unhealthy relationships.

stella                                 eatpraylove2

Okay, so I have not had the pleasure of a passionate night with Taye Diggs nor have I nourished my palate and soul while traveling through Italy, India, and Indonesia. As for the old lady boobs, I am proud to say that at 45, mine are still right where they should be!


What have I done to “be back” you may ask?  I have stopped (or rather radically reduced) GIVING!!! For too many years my life consisted of me giving ALL my time and energy so that the people in my life were cared for and content.  Sounds admirable, right?  Wrong!! Because I never put ME first, I soon found myself further and further from the person I used to be, the person that I really loved to be.  I forgot the girl that wrote poetry into the wee hours of the morning.  I lost the girl that searched for hours to find the beauty of a babbling brook in Colorado. I abandoned the girl that dreamed of a man who would be loving, kind, and treat her like a precious gem.

For years, my friends and family had been trying to get me to realize how many concessions I had been making and urged (some more vocally than others) me to leave my bad marriage.  I did finally do just that (though years too late) but unfortunately I still continued on the path of putting myself last.  Not that this is an excuse, but I do have a daughter who is still trying to grasp our new normal and accept life as a kid with a mom and dad that live in two homes.  Add to that that my ex is not exactly father of the year and constantly disappoints my daughter which has resulted in me–a single mom who works her ass off to fill both parental roles.

I’m a sixth grade Science and Language Arts teacher.  I tell you this because I am about to school you on something I teach my students-plot diagram.  It shows the progression of a novel from start to finish.  Like a ride on a roller coaster, the plot ascends, highlighting the problem or conflict, then reaching a climax or high point of the story, and eventually descends toward a resolution.  Somewhere before the end of the novel there is a ‘turning point,’ an event that changes the course of the novel and the actions of the characters.

Last night my story reached its turning point. While having a nice dinner with my daughter, my ex kept texting me asking questions about my daughter’s Amazon Christmas wish list that I sent him.  He was confused about what Prime meant and what he had to do and if he needed to get Prime to get the gifts she wanted.  His texts were constant and interrupted the nice meal we were having after a long week. Having Prime myself, my first instinct was to do what I always have done and offer to take care of the order to save him time, effort, and money.  It was a knee-jerk reaction, one that I luckily caught in time.  As if a giant hand descended into the dining room of The Cheesecake Factory and slapped me, I said to myself, “Enough!!!”  I then text him that I was out and he would have to figure it out on his own.  At that moment I felt so proud of myself and truly free and in control.  In that moment, it was as if I had written the best poem of my life or found the most serene babbling brook in all of nature.  Most of all, it was in that moment that I realized that I was a precious gem and treated MYSELF as such. By putting my needs and happiness in front of everything else, I became PRIME in my life and my decisions.

So, thank you Stella, Julia, and Robin and most of all thank you Amazon Prime.  Who knew you could offer me so much more than just 2-day free shipping?  I will definitely be renewing my membership!!

May you all find yourself as often as you need to until you realize your worth.


Peace and love 😊 ❤️