Life as a single Mother-Empty nest, Dating, Ex-husband, Best Friends, Full-time Employment, Unemployment, night school...How do these all relate to one another? Come with me:

Friday, November 19, 2010

“It doesn't matter what size or shape you are. Burlesque is about feeling positive about who you are, about knowing how to shake what you have and being proud of it.” Baby Doe

My daughter and I had the opportunity to attend the premier of Burlesque this past Wednesday night. Although I  will not receive any compensation for this post, I felt the need to describe how this movie left me feeling.

I have always been a fan of Christina Aguilera's incredibly haunting voice. That girl can sing! If you have ever seen a stage performance by Christina, it is not a far stretch for the performer to snag a part in a Burlesque show. But can she act?

My quick answer would be yes, she pulled it off. Definitely not an Oscar performance most pointedly a crying scene where she seemed forced and fake. However overall, she was very believable. Possibly as she may have faced some similar obstacles in life as her character. The singing and dancing however- incredible! It is what she does best. In one scene she is stunning in a form fitting sequined gown, flawless close-up skin and her first note actually sent chills up my spine. She is in her prime!

Cher, in her sixth decade in life, plastic as she is, was stunning. Not too bad with the pipes herself. A solo scene shows that she still has it. A beautiful woman and a beautiful song.

Julianne Hough from Dancing with the Stars fame made her debut and proved that she is more than a dancer. She holds a soft place in my heart as she grew up in the same city as I. Way to go Julianne.

This movie was everything I was expecting, hoping for and more. Loads of energy keeps your interest. Awesome talent and interesting and beautiful costumes leave you wanting to visit a seedy underground burlesque venue. It is set in LA but has a bit of New York flair.

Because it was a premier, we were elbow to elbow in a packed house. Before the film began I was concerned about the seemly lonely chatterbox to my right. But when the show began, even she was mesmerized by the fabulous music and energy and never spoke another word (except for the three incontinent riddled dashes from the theater).

I too was transformed by this movie. In addition to the music that drives you to jump up from your seat and dance, makes you yearn to belt out the tunes yourself and run to the nearest Burlesque, it is hilariously funny. The best one liners I have heard in a while.

The male eye candy does not disappoint. I dive into Cam Gigandet's cookies, but then you will not understand that until you see the film. Eric Dane of Grey's Anatomy is always great to look at. But his character is not as nice.

Stanley Tucci is in the perfect role. I have not seen him in a role I didn't like but as Cher's best friend he is fabulous, they pair together nicely.

I highly recommend this movie. It has been a while since I have walked out of a theater ready to send all my friends in to see it. This year, I have been lucky enough to find two.

Red  with and all-star cast and a terrific plot and direction. It was my favorite film of the year.

But it just lost its first place standing with me.

Go see burlesque! it opens Thanksgiving day. You will not be disappointed.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Holiday Blues

The best Christmas of all is the presence of a happy family all wrapped up with one another.

I have been doing my best to keep from dragging the positivity of this blog down with constant banter on my unemployed status and the frustrations and discouragement that comes with it.

I am a positive, and glass is half full personality type and truly think that a positive attitude can make a huge difference no matter what obstacles you may be facing. Although I get no satisfaction out of others pain, the thought that 'things could be worse' or that 'someone else may be fighting a harder battle' does bring me some comfort in knowing that for every negative I may be facing, there is also a positive that makes me that much richer and happier.

I currently struggle with the guilt, and inferiority of sitting home day after day unable to find work and knowing that I am the sole person responsible to ensure that my children are supported and safe and taken care of. Thank the heavens above that I live in a country that provides for unemployed workers. Even though it adds to my guilt to receive those benefits. It is enough to pay the monthly bills.

But now we are coming into what should be one of the happiest times of year. A time with family, a time for closeness and a time to show those you love- more so than on a regular day- how much you love and appreciate them.

Over the years as a single mother, the holiday have been tight in the pocketbook, but never have I faced a year when I could afford nothing, not even the holiday meal. That is the case this year. It breaks my heart. I have been blessed with the most appreciative and understanding children. Never have they complained when times were tight. The holidays are always full of love and caring. But in a way it makes the guilt that much more difficult to face. Why should they spend a lifetime compromising merely because their mother cannot find work? Cannot afford to give them the Christmas they deserve?

But as I stated, we have always enjoyed the holidays. It is a time that we spend together. We have always found inexpensive or free ways to spend quality time together with each other and with extended family. And that time is priceless. For anyone who may be in a similar situation I have put together a list of some of the ways we have created lasting memories for next to no cost:

  • Decorating the house together while playing and sometimes dancing to Christmas carols.
  • Baking yummy Christmas treats, trying out new recipes and sharing with neighbors.
  • Working at a soup kitchen, sub-for Santa or just helping out an elderly neighbor with snow removal or shopping
  • Popping popcorn and threading strings of popcorn and fresh cranberries for the tree. These can also be hung outside for winter birds to feed on.
  • Snuggling together under a blanket, drinking hot cocoa (spiked with rum for the adults) and watching old classic holiday films.
  • Driving around town viewing holiday lights and decorations- Most cities have lists online of the best houses.
  • Baking and painting salt dough ornaments together and hanging on the tree. 
  • Building a snowman, sledding, or in warmer climates playing a family game of football or baseball 
  • Reading holiday stories or feel-good stories together each one taking a turn to read. Even better if you have a fireplace.
  • Playing old classic games such as Chinese checkers, Old maid, Chess or scrabble together
  • Invite a guest for dinner, a lonely elderly neighbor, an old friend you have lost contact with, or let your children each invite one friend who may need a boost.
  • Passing on old traditions your children that your parents passed on to you- And then create your own.
  • Practice some classic Christmas songs and then go caroling in another neighborhood or a shelter.
  • Throw a Christmas treat party- Invite each guest to bring 20 or 30 of their favorite Christmas treat, heat up some hot cider and share the joy.
  • Take some family photos outside in the weather, or using props such as reindeer antlers, Santa hats or the treats or snowman you have built together. Print out inexpensive copies add a stamp and mail Christmas 'postcards' to friends and family.

Every year we come up with a few new ideas to make the holidays fun and exciting no matter the budget.

If you have any to share. Please comment below.

Christmas gift suggestions:
To your enemy, forgiveness.
To an opponent, tolerance.
To a friend, your heart.
To a customer, service.
To all, charity.
To every child, a good example.
To yourself, respect.

Next week is Thanksgiving and I truly have so much to be thankful for! Family, health, great kids and parents, unemployment benefits and a truly happy fulfilled life.
I wish you all the same

Friday, November 12, 2010

Addiction should never be treated as a crime. It has to be treated as a health problem. We do not send alcoholics to jail in this country. Over 500,000 people are in our jails who are nonviolent drug users. Ralph Nader

On Facebook yesterday, an old school friend posted this as her status:

If anybody has any feedback positive OR negative regarding Wellbutrin, I would appreciate it.....

I have taken Wellbutrin. There was a time after my divorce and again after the demise of a six-year relationship; when I couldn't sleep, I couldn't focus on my daily responsibilities. The anti-depressant Wellbutrin was recommended by a therapist. I am typically a positive, glass is half full personality type. It is rare even with this roller coaster life, that I am really down or unhappy. I took the medication for just a month. I will say it helped, at least with the sleep by clearing my head of the demon thoughts.

But then, I am not much for taking any medication. I don't like to feel drugged. Twenty-one years ago when I had major surgery and was prescribed the steroid Prednisone. I was also given a pain reliever, Percocet a cocktail of Oxycodone and Acetaminophen. After a week of the pain killers, nausea and hallucinatory dreams that would scare the shit out of anyone I quit the Percocet and limped by on over the counter pain relievers. 

Call me a control freak if you must but I do not like feeling as though I am not in control of my thoughts and actions. I have a deep empathy for those suffering from disorders that affect the body and mind. I also understand the need for pharmaceuticals and drugs. I just have a hard time understanding the needs of a healthy individual who feels the need to take them to escape.

Horrible things happen to people everyday. Many people face things that are just too much to bear. And I can imagine that they feel that getting high will help them escape those feelings. But it is a temporary fix. Most times taking them further into that dark tunnel. 

The county I reside in is often referred to as 'Happy Valley' a term used in part because of the saturation of the LDS faith in the area making it seem to some outsiders as the sacred hallowed ground where nothing illegal, immoral or unclean should happen. And yet others mock it with the name as a place so clean there is no fun to be had here. In reality, it is like any other suburban community. As in other communities, the population is increasing ten-fold, the crime rate is on the rise, and drug use is also rising.

It seems as pressures grow in communities, the need for escape also grows. And in turn, drug and alcohol use and abuse seems to follow. In times past it seemed that most stresses were cooled by the men meeting at the corner watering hole and drinking and joking away the weeks stress. While the wives would hold play dates and gossip sessions where pointing out others problems made one's worry's seem smaller and easier. What do we do in modern day? How many are turning to narcotics and illegal drugs?

Bad things have always happened to people. People have always wished for that escape. But as time goes by, I often wonder why do we create more chaos and trouble on ourselves? Why does that make any one of us feel better?

Another old friend whom I recently reconnected with has been through some tough times. Married to an alcoholic, divorced, blamed and shamed, turned to drugs, then stronger drugs, then rehab, four children created in the chaos, unemployed, turning to sex as a relief and pregnant and alone at 41. Is she learning? is her life changing for the better? It seems not. She is not alone.

Drug use a huge problem in this country. And not just illegal drugs. Prescription drug abuse is on the rise. Drug use is the biggest war we will ever face as a country. And it is not getting better. 

The first time I watched a drug ad on television, I was shocked. My first thought was, do the pharmaceutical companies really need to advertise? As I have worked in the medical device and pharmaceutical arena most of my adult life, I understand the profits of such companies.

Then I began to listen to the ads closer, if you are having these symptoms (most of which were vague enough that on a given day might be common to almost anyone over the age of say 30) ask your doctor. Ask your doctor? When did we some to this place in time where the patient is requesting of the doctor? How can it be safe? 

I remember my kids commenting on the two minutes of side effects listed at the end of the more recent ads. Surely to cover their asses in litigation against those laymen home grown pharmacists- the viewers. My kids would say things like wow who would want to take that drug? With all those side effects? I would explain that most prescriptions have a laundry list of side effects, it is just that most people in this instant gratification world ignore the twelve page leaflet accompanying it. 

I do not blame the physicians, with the exception of those illegally prescribing. It is embarrassing how quickly this virus seems to be spreading across the nation. We as a nation may just be our own worst enemy.

The drug lords, the corrupt physicians are certainly not idiots, quite the opposite. They will sit back and watch us kill ourselves and each other off while taking it all to the bank.

Which brings me back to the post by my friend. It is the small things like this that start the fires... Have we become so commonplace with prescription use that we would take the advice of our social media friends over that of a practicing and licensed therapist and physician? And should we? Is drug use (even legal) so common that a consensus of enough friends who have used it before seems a better choice than the doctors who seem a little too quick to sign off that prescription pad to feed a society of quick fixes?

Do you remember a time when you could walk through a mall or city street and never see on that walk the signs of drug or alcohol abuse? Can you now? It is no longer a disease of the ghetto, nor is it something folks from the other side of the tracks have 'gotten themselves into.

It is the neighbor lady school teacher, the basketball star, the famous movie star, the soccer coach and the homecoming queen. It is everywhere and everyone. 

In addition to the use and the abuse and its effects on those who use, abuse leads to crime increases, more violence, and overall poor health of the country as a whole. Those who are terrified of the thought of crossing the borders to Mexico, who think that countries problems seem far from our own better think again. 

What are your thoughts?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

I can't even find one I like, let alone share!

Have you seen the new series on TLC Sisterwives?
What do you think?

Growing up in the state of Utah has been interesting. But it was not until I left the state for the first time for more than just a week vacation I realized just how we were perceived. The summer after my senior year of high school. I took a summer job working in Arizona at the North rim of the Grand Canyon. A great job where I had the chance to meet many people from many other states, countries and cultures.

I would often ask questions starting with where they were traveling from and my naive seventeen year old sheltered brain took in a lot. An occasional visitor from Europe or Asia might infer my origin also. And although it is just North of Arizona, many had never heard of it. Utah. It was interesting the number of people who actually thought that Utah was an island, with its own species of people. huh? wha?

And yet others shocked me when they actually asked me if I had horns! True story! Unbeknown to me at the time, Utah has been akin to many myths and even some strange truths....Here is one website that discusses the oddities.
things that make you go hmmm

Let me attempt to explain just a few of the things I have a first hand accounting with:

Horns? No we do not have horns (or tails for that matter) hidden under our hair. Unless you are speaking of the hours immediately following my knowledge of my ex's infidelity, I cannot promise there were no visible signs of horns.. or a tail.. or possibly steam emanating from my ears.

Utah is one big commune/ cult: No, we do not belong to a cult that is locked in by ten foot tall cement walls holding us in while we raise children born from sex with cousins, brothers and uncles.
I cannot tell you how many times I was asked that summer: How many mothers do you have?

All Utahns have multiple wives / mothers: No. I love my mother very much, she is my light. There is a 2% population of polygamists in the state which leads be back to the new show airing on TLC.

Do Utahns wear funny underwear? Mormon practice, is that when a couple is sealed in a ceremony in the temple, they receive garments. These garments are white undergarments meant to cover the body (temple) of the practicing Mormon. I am not a member of the faith and I do not have the specifics. However, in answer to the question: No Utahan's based on our geographic location do not wear funny underwear. Unless you are speaking of those candy cane imprinted long john, drop seat lingerie my ex husband sprung on me during a family gift exchange that one Christmas... now that was funny underwear!

Although I was raised in the state of Utah, it wasn't until I was home from my summer in Arizona on a family trip to a local mine, when I had my first encounter with a polygamist family. I would not have known they were a plural family, they appeared as any other large family, were it not for their excessively modest attire and archaic hair styles. The young boys were wearing plain colored pants and overalls with white button-up shirts. The girls in floor length dresses with a turtleneck of lace to their chins. I remember thinking how hot they must be in the summer sun with long sleeves covering every bit of skin down to their wrists. A few of the young girls had shorter dresses or short sleeves which were worn over pants, thick tights and long sleeve undershirts.
The girls wore braids that ran the length of their backs, the boys looked as though they had visited the local barber in Walnut grove. They stood out. They were different. They were even more covered than the Mormon long shorts created in order to cover those 'funny undies'.

As the years went by I learned a little more about the followings of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ which is a different religion entirely from the Mormon faith they are often associated with. Although the Mormon- Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints, followed the law and changed its outlook on polygamy and plural marriages some 100 years ago, there was a time they practiced and even encouraged the practice.
The Fundamentalist church has been in the news more recently with the antics of Tom Green, and even more so with the incarceration of  Warren Jeffs.

I have learned along with the rest of the nation. The latest 'coming out' of a polygamist Utah family, the Brown's, on TLC's sisterwives interested me. The Browns live less than ten miles from me and I would not have known had their lives not been portrayed to the world on this series.
I watched along with the nation, curious to see inside this compelling and shocking unknown world. We all wonder, how could those women so that? How could one man be so arrogant as to think he needs or deserves more than one woman in his life? Those women must be brainwashed, emotionally abused and beaten down.
And then I watched.
What I saw was a glimpse of what we all strive for. A healthy, happy, structured family. A family so full of love for each other you feel it in your bones just seeing the interaction.
Watching the show I felt a little like a voyeur, a little uncomfortable as I was quick to judge.
I could not live the lifestyle.
I can not seem to find a man I would be able to live with. I cannot imagine sharing one with others. But these women - and the children, and Cody, the father all seem so happy and centered.
Despite the 2% of the population of practicing polygamists in this state alone ( they don't all reside in the state of Utah) it is still an illegal practice. And the Brown family has faced a lot of adversary by coming out. One wife lost her job, they faced a criminal investigation, at least one of the daughters changed schools. What courage.

"If we raise productive, contributing members of society who are moral and ethical, that's our final goal, whatever their path is," People quotes Janelle, who has six children with Kody, as saying.

Thing is, the world needs more love. And the Brown's are overflowing with it. Of course I realize this is a television show and not all emotions and issues will be shown but as the mother of three children who have been through the horror of divorce and an absent father most of their lives, it is nice to see a loving family.
As in the case of Warren Jeffs and other cases pending in the state wherein forced marriages between older man and under-aged girls,  I cringe at the thought. But that is another scenario entirely. I cannot comment on the series 'Big love' which aired on HBO.
If a man has more than one 'wife' in his bed, but raises happy, healthy children is he perceived by the law to be better? or worse than a man who is not married, but has planted his seed and impregnated multiple women on his drunken or drug laden escapades.
When deciding whether to prosecute, I believe we must think first of the children. Those who are not old enough to make the decisions on their own. Rather than consenting adults showing no signs of abuse.
This is a fine line. This is a controversial issue. This is not a Utah issue. There are many religions and cultures which practice plural marriages, both in the US and abroad.
When is it considered abuse?
When is it at the detriment of the women? The children?
Would it be different with multiple men?
Was Julius Caesar a poly? Ali Baba?
What are your thoughts?