Four Days In…

57403-New-Year-New-Beginning

It’s now four days into the new year. Four days have already passed in this new year “full of promise and potential.” 

I feel a little overwhelmed already… I am reminded of the old Weight Watcher’s mantra, “If you fail to plan, plan to fail.” Ugh.

There is a certain burden I feel whenever the year changes, a responsibility to “make this the BEST year ever.” It weighs heavily on me, this responsibility to be, oh, I don’t know – super human or significant or special. I am not sure what I am “supposed” to be in this big, bright virgin new year. Sigh. I am in my mid-fifties; you’d think I would have a handle on all this by now.

I remember from my expensive-but-now-largely-under-utilized Franklin-Covey training that most people are good at the “big rocks” but the little ones just get lost by the wayside. This year, I want to address both my big AND little rocks.

So, call them resolutions, call them goals, call them objectives – whatever! – I have a few things on my 2015 “list.” I have to admit, I was inspired to create this list in no small part by my beloved husband Martin, who went to the trouble to create a personal “pin board” of all his plans for 2015. (He inspires me in so many ways, that guy!) Anyhow, here is my short list – just five, in honor of five – a blog – for the remaining 361 days of 2015:

1. I want to be healthier; to that end, I WILL lose 50 pounds by the end of June. Health is the main goal, but weight loss also plays into my next objective.

2. I want to travel. I WILL go to Europe with my Sweetie this summer, spending one week in his native Poland, meeting his family (finally!) and experiencing where he comes from, then spend an additional week – just the two of us – exploring France or Germany or England – somewhere. Once I lose fifty pounds, I will look sexy as hell in a bathing suit on some European beach, am I right?

3.  I want to live in the moment. I WILL acknowledge the past but leave it there and not let it define me in the present. Listen, 2014 SUCKED for me, personally and professionally. Were it not for Martin, I would have probably off’d myself. (Just kidding, kinda’). But, point is, I will not dwell on my suck-y past year and, instead, embrace the coming year with hope and optimism.

4. I want to spend more time with people I love. I WILL engage with friends more, and let the people I love know how important they are to me. All too often I am happy just being with my Sweetie but have come to understand that this behavior is a bit of laziness on my part, coupled with a fear of “falling short” – maybe I can’t cook as well, or maybe I am not flush enough to go out to fancy restaurants or maybe our sofa is a bit faded. The truth I need to remember is that with true friends, one never falls short. Bringing in Chinese take-out with true friends is as wonderful as dinner out at a four-star joint.

5. I want to remember to always be grateful. I WILL cherish every great thing that happens to me, every day, whether that is just driving home and getting all “green lights” or finally (potentially?) winning the HGTV Two Million Dollar Dreamhouse (OMG, please!!!) I sometimes forget that my life – as imperfect as I think it might be – is probably envied by many. I have a reasonable job (granted, it could pay more), my Sweetie and I have a pretty great apartment, we have some kick-ass friends, I have my health and I have a man I adore that adores me back. I often need to remind myself of these realities…

So there you have it – my “short list” for the coming year. I feel confident I can make all these things happen. I will definitely keep you posted and you remind me, too, if you catch me falling short. In the mean time, have a GREAT new year and always remember this:

find time

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Giving Thanks, 2014 Edition

It’s Thanksgiving Eve. Thanksgiving has always been one of my favorite holidays, a day to consider how we are blessed (in a fortunate way/not simply a “Christian” way) and a day to consider – honestly – just how lucky we are.

It would be easy for me to say that 2014 has sucked so far, and ask The Universe just where the hell my “blessings” are.

In August 2014, I closed my business after almost seven years of (literally) blood, sweat and tears. Mostly tears. The closing of my business was a bit devastating emotionally and certainly was, and continues to be, somewhat crushing financially as well. With the closing of my business came my return to the employment market as a job SEEKER – I hadn’t “filled out an application” in more than probably twenty years; each of my jobs before opening my own business was the result of scouting by my then-future employer – I got ASKED to work with them. Reciting my high school GPA and “Other Interests” was something very alien and foreign to me.

The summer and fall of 2014, I stood by and watched as state after state achieved marriage equality, while my state CONTINUES to maintain an almost pre-Stonewall attitude around this issue. And earlier this month, somehow my state granted the madman that is our governor the power of four more years to destroy our state. And don’t even ask me about what happened in the Senate.

Probably saddest, in October of 2014, I lost my father, my beloved Pop-pop, to a long and valiant battle with cancer. I lost Grammy (my mom) six years ago and, during the time since, my Dad and I had become closer than ever; in fact, it was like getting to know him all over again. I called Pop-pop every day. I miss him, and I miss my Mom. A lot. A well-intentioned friend called me an “orphan” upon finding out my Pop-pop had passed away. I am NOT an orphan. I have two AMAZING parents – they are just away from me now, for the time being. They are now two amazing guardian angels.

Those are just the “highlights” of 2104 for me but – you know what? The year has been pretty great to me as well…

While I closed my business, I embarked on not one but TWO new endeavors, one at a cherished public institution in my adopted hometown and one in a new design venture with a new partner who is, in fact, my husband. Both careers look bright and, while I am “starting on the ground floor” at both, good things are already happening at each. Two days ago, I got promoted at “my day job” and assumed a new position within the organization, a position that suggests career growth and a stable, secure future. As far as my new design venture goes, working with my life partner/husband is a joy and our new firm is already developing a following. Hooray!

Even though Ohio (my state) is in The Dark Ages as far as marriage equality goes, I am legally-married to my husband and we will soon be celebrating the one year anniversary of his Green Card approval (that was a L-O-N-G journey/struggle, chronicled in many previous posts here on this blog). If it is possible, I think that guy loves me more every day – and I love him more, too. Eventually, Ohio will “see the light” and finally join the 21st Century with regard to LGBT rights and equality.

Finally, while I miss BOTH my parents every day, I am happy to know that they are reunited and happy. And contrary to what I feared, being “parent-less” has not left me feeling rudderless or adrift. Rather, I feel empowered and almost a bit reckless (but in a good way). The state of answering only to yourself for your actions (and your spouse, of course!) is actually a very liberating one. I like it. I miss Grammy and Pop-pop terribly but the freedom they have given me is a great, great gift.

So all in all, 2014? Maybe NOT so bad so far… Sure, heck – I hope 2015 will be even better but we still DO have almost a month of 2014 left. Who knows? It may still turn out to be the best year ever…

It’s funny. I was looking for a profound, “deep” quote about being thankful and ran across this sage advice from Oprah Winfrey herself. Who’da ever thought I’d be sharing inspiring Oprah quotes on my blog? Happy Thanksgiving, everyone!

Thanksgiving Oprah

Monday Memes 25

Love. Funny how love “changes course” and gets redefined as relationships flourish – then sometimes flounder. I am lucky – I kissed a LOT of frogs before I found my Prince (he found me, actually!) but it was worth it. I love you, MSW.

In the beginning, it’s like:

love fearlessly

However, sometimes we “make a mistake,” or the dreaded “It’s-not-you-it’s-me” moment arrives and then this happens:

lovers to nothing

However, if stars align (as mine have), you find your true love – “The One” – and life is more like this:

define loveI wish each of you reading this the good fortune I have found…

Monday Memes 22

So, it has almost been a MONTH since my last Monday Memes post; sorry, I have had a “lot” going on lately. Anyway, as I was researching memes for today’s post, I came across this image:

dream

Given all that has happened for me this year – closing a business, burying a parent, all in addition to the other daily BS we all endure – I kinda’ lost myself, and my “dream” for a bit. Good news? I have taken SEVERAL deep breaths and am, as they say, BACK in the game. Thanks to my friends and family for all your love and support, not only recently but over the course of this whole year. Thanks to my beloved Martin, and his unconditional love and support. He IS my dream… And thanks to my parents for allowing me the opportunity TO dream while I was growing up.

For me, now? The dream continues… 

No Answer…

As part of my usual evening routine, I typically call my Dad (Pop-pop) about 9PM. I have done this virtually every night since my Mom passed away almost six years ago. I call partially just to check in, to make sure Pop-pop is OK. I call because I love my Dad, and these calls have allowed us to grow closer since my Mom passed away. And I call just to tell him “Goodnight” and that “I love him.”

I did not call tonight. There would have been nothing but a recorded message. My beloved Pop-pop passed away Wednesday morning, 08 October 2014 around 1:15A, after an extended battle with cancer. My call would have gone unanswered.Telephone off ReceiverIt seemed weird tonight, not calling Pop-pop. Granted, our conversations have grown shorter and shorter these past few weeks and months, but tonight my night feels a little empty. I remember reading once somewhere that it takes twenty-one consecutive days to create a “routine” but only three days to break that same behavior.

I think it will take me longer than three days to “forget” about calling Pop-pop. I love you, Daddy-O, and already miss you terribly.

30 Days till CarnEVIL

Every year, our dear friends, Mike and Chris, host a RIDICULOUS Halloween Party – this year’s theme is “CarnEvil.” From their invitation: “Prepare for a scare this spooky season, as a show unlike any other comes to Northeast Ohio for one night only! An evening of terror under the big top awaits, as the Brookholts proudly present their annual Halloween Spooktacular: CARNEVIL! This year the Ringmaster is requesting that you come dressed as your favorite sideshow freak, circus performer, carny or create your own original oddity. We hope you can join us to discover the horrors that lie beneath the tent on Saturday, October 25th. Find all the frightening fun at… Will you make it out of CARNEVIL alive?”

CarnEVIL

Here is the super clever invite – address “blacked out” by me for security reasons, LOL!

So, we are ONE MONTH out and, of course, my Sweetie and I are considering costumes. This is what I have to work with: I am a “big man” (portly is often how I am described), I have a beard and I have a devastatingly handsome husband. So, we could go simply as “two circus friends with benefits”

two guys

or I could go as the ever-present and always-popular side show attraction, “The Fat Man”

fat man

If I utilized my beard, I could “let my feminine side show” (side show – get it?)

bearded lady

As a couple, we are usually joined at the hip – we could take THAT as inspiration

Siamese twins

Or , finally, we could REALLY go all out and go as these two lovelies

freakspinheads

We’d wear more glamorous “frocks” though, LOL! Whatever we do, and whoever we “become,” we will have an AWESOME time – why?

Chris and Mike throw amazing parties – last year, they planned a scavenger hunt with competitors so ruthless, some almost came to blows,

We will be with many of our friends, some that we see almost ONLY at this party and many that we simply do not see often enough (life gets in the way),

My beloved Martin LOVES Halloween, LOVES dressing up and LOVES parties. And most importantly of all,

I LOVE Martin and he LOVES me back. No matter what we do, we always have fun. So, get ready, Brookholts/CarnEVIL. We are coming…

Monday Memes 21 (Black)

Years ago, when I moved to Cleveland, for a short time I managed an indie coffee shop – LONG before the meteoric rise of Peet’s and Starbucks and Caribou and the like. The coffee shop  was called Arabica and it was in a trendy-cool little mall called Coventryard (yes, it IS spelled that way). The year was probably like 1984 or 1985 – I was in my mid-twenties, a fresh-faced farm boy from Shelby, Ohio, now living in Cleveland – a HUGE city compared to where I had come from. Anyway, for about six months, I managed this coffee house and it was here that I met my first openly gay man (Wade) and my first self-proclaimed bisexual man (Douglas). I adored them instantly and we became fast friends…

Wade and Douglas were a colorful pair – at one time they had been lovers (briefly) but – in a moment of sincere love for one another and logical thinking – decided they would be better best friends than boyfriends (plus Douglas had that whole “bi” thing happening). Anyway, they were great to me, nurturing and patient, loving and paternal, and helped me really get comfortable with my own sexuality.

They had a zillion ridiculous stories but this is one of my favorites:

One day, without any preface, Douglas looks at me and says, “Wade and I wore all black for six months. I mean, black EVERYTHING – shirts, shoes, pants, socks, underwear, everything. I even bought some black condoms.” (Remarkably, there was a condom store in our trendy little neighborhood called, appropriately enough, “Condom-nation”).

I was intrigued.

wearing black

“Why?” I asked, seeking to gain some enlightenment or understanding that the experience had imparted to Wade and Douglas. “Why? Why all black for six months?”

Without missing a beat, Wade – who was standing behind the counter with us, making an iced coffee, sashayed past me and announced, “Just to see if we could do it.”

Design-Quote-until-something-darker-comes-out-copy

That was it – a 180 day trial of endurance, just to see if they could “do it.” I asked what happened on the the 181st day.

“Nothing,” said Douglas. “I just started wearing other colors of clothes again.”

At the time it made me smile, and it still does. I guess this story popped into my head recently because I ran across these memes. all relating to black, wearing black or seeking out black. As a designer, my life is full of color and yet I still find myself oddly and irresistibly drawn to black. Maybe Douglas and Wade had some insight they never shared with me…

black

I think about those days from time to time, and wonder what ever became of those two. I had heard that Wade passed away in the early 90’s, a casualty of HIV; I saw Douglas once, a few years after our work experience together, walking hand in hand with a knock-out woman at our local “high-end” mall. I didn’t speak, and I kinda’ regret that.

I hope those two somehow know/knew what a positive and important impact they had on my life and personal development. And how – in addition to everything else – they instilled in me a love and respect for black. Not brown, not orange, not navy blue – black will ALWAYS be black.