Everybody needs a little romance–and a transition

In August, my husband of 30 years surprised me.  He’s this Type A, Rock of Gibraltar personality who’d been at the same job for 25 years.  He’d been talking retirement and I’d been slightly panicking.  Having a husband home all the time would take some getting used to.

He talked about April 2013, and that gave me some time to prepare.  In my heart of hearts, I didn’t think he’d actually do it.   Although he’s been at the same job for 25 years, we’re still relatively young and this economy had us both worried.

But the main reason I didn’t want him home all the time was a selfish one. I’m a writer.  During daylight hours, the house is mine.

Most writers don’t sit in a chair, where inspiration flows into their fingertips.  When I want to brainstorm, or I get stuck, I jump up from the chair, pick up the phone, and call someone like blog partner Cynthia D’Alba.  I literally take up the first floor of my house to do this.  I walk out of my office, into the den, walk through the kitchen, into the living room then traverse that same area again and again until I get a plot point figured out.

That’s such a freeing process for me.  And that process didn’t include walking out of my office, to find a man on the couch with the television blaring, wondering, what in the heck is she doing?

Even so, I had plenty of time to prepare, right?  He’d said April 2013.  My budget-minded husband studied his Excel spreadsheets with a specific dollar amount in mind and he was like the proverbial racehorse winding down for the homestretch.

Wrong.  I forgot to calculate into all his preparedness the amount of stress he was under.  In August, when I was at RWA National, he out-and-out quit his job.  The stress he’d just released fell onto my shoulders in a big, thick thud!

There’s a happily ever after to this story—he’s well-respected at work and his bosses wouldn’t accept his resignation.  They offered him a sabbatical and a new position when he returns in January.  It’s also given us a chance to layout some guidelines for when both of us are home full time.  I explained my crazy little writing process and he laughed. The last place he planned to be after 25 years was sitting on a couch and watching TV.

He obviously meant it.  So far, he’s gone to Arizona to hike the Grand Canyon, climbed Pikes Peak, he went elk hunting with buddies; every morning he gets up and either runs or bicycles for a good part of the day.

In a week, after hiring a house sitter, we’re heading to Fort Worth to see our son and his new wife, and then to Las Cruces for a couple of weeks.

I think I might actually be sad when he has to go back to work in January.  I’m blessed I guess to have a man who appreciates that I take up a lot of room as a writer 😉 And I admit it’s been rather fun having him home as he’s not underfoot all the time.  Guess along with everybody needing a little romance—everybody now and then needs a transition.

What do you think?  Ever reached a point where you’ve said enough is enough?

Happy Friday, all.

Mixing Things Up

Absence sharpens love, presence strengthens it.
~ Thomas Fuller

My husband travels – a lot.  So naturally it’s a foregone conclusion that he will be gone on occasion, and I will have to accept it.  Recently, though, I had the opportunity to turn the tables on him.  I left for a week to attend Romance Writers of America’s National Conference.  Had a lovely time, learned bunches, and caught up with old and new friends.  And this time, my husband stayed home without me.

I called friends before I left and said, “Check in on him, will you?  He’ll be all by himself.”  They did, and I was so appreciative.  But still I could hear the edge and loneliness in his voice when I called.  He didn’t like this role-reversal.

He’s off on a business trip, so when he comes home tomorrow, it will be two full weeks since we’ve seen each other.  As a writer, I “like” my alone time, but I “love” my husband. I’ve always known what it’s like to exist without him.  Maybe it was good for a change for him to exist without me.

What do you think?  Does your marriage or relationship have a certain pattern to it?  Ever feel the need to mix it up?  How so?

The Little Things

Recently my community of Colorado Springs suffered a fire that took two lives, demolished 347 homes and burned more than 18000 acres.  The destruction was surreal, the pulling together of my city topnotch.  And the blaze is now 80 percent contained thanks to firefighters and the planning of my city and community.  For me, this will be a terrible memory that I will look back on and think that was a close call.

Not so my friend who lost her home, and now must go through the painstaking process of rebuilding her life.  When the call came to evacuate, these people had less than 20 minutes to leave behind one of their most valued possessions–their homes.

Today when I went out shopping for her and her family, I looked at her list and was touched by one request.  If anyone can spare some sheet music, she wrote.  She teaches piano and lost her piano in the blaze.  I imagine music will be her solace.

I filled some of the items on her list with pleasure, unfortunately on the 4th of July the music stores were closed.  You can bet, I’m going to do my best to find her some sheet music.  Such a small simple request, but it’s the little things that will help her through this.

Happiness: Before or after success?

I recently sold my first book.  I was elated.  I still am. I was before.  Selling a book didn’t make me happy—it increased my happiness factor.  You see, I wake up with the need to be positive.  I’ve read The Secret, and there’s a lot to be said for positive affirmations, visualizing our hopes and dreams and casting them out to the universe.  But if you’re miserable before, during and after, will obtaining The Secret change anything for the better? Maybe you’ll be richer, more successful, but will you be any happier?

Think about it.  How many of us have said:   If I could lose five pounds, I’d be happy?  If I work harder, it’ll lead to a promotion and then I’ll be happy?  When I finish this manuscript, it’ll lead to a publishing career, and then I’ll be happy?

My point?  Happiness needs to come before your success.

I attend Toastmasters.  I belong to a great group in Colorado Springs, and one of our speakers gave a speech on Happiness.  In it, she referenced psychologist Shawn Achor, author of The Happiness Advantage.  Achor, an expert on human potential, claims that happiness is an advantage and the precursor to greater success.

He states that every single relationship, business and educational outcome improves when the brain is positive first.  He further writes, it’s hard to find happiness after success if the goalposts of success keep changing. 

Anyone think he was talking about publishing after reading those statements?  Probably not directly, but I had some real aha moments after reading this book.

In The Happiness Advantage, Achor defines rational optimism as a “realistic assessment of the present, while maintaining a belief that our behavior will eventually create a better reality.”

Here’s a link to an interesting Youtube video featuring Shawn Achor during one of his talks at Harvard.  http://www.bing.com/search?q=Youtube+and+Shawn+Achor&form=LENMHP&pc=LEN2&x=78&y=19

We are inundated daily with negatives in this world.  Worse, if you’re pursuing a publishing career, prepare for decisions to be slow to nonexistent, for rejection to be commonplace, and for some to view you as a competitor instead of a colleague.  If you’re miserable when you enter this field, you’re in for a terrible, heartbreaking road.  Happiness will be your cushion for the myriad disappointments you are bound to encounter.

Achor says our society’s formula for success and happiness is broken.  The happy news is it’s reversible.

I think Achor is on to something.  What do you think?

My husband laughed?

 I’m on deadline.  I’m working hard.  My son gets married in three weeks, so to say that the romance in my household is at a standstill is an understatement.  But Les is being so great about my work.  He’s supportive, he’s even doing laundry, and while I’m writing, he’s watching a ton of TV.

Now, I don’t know about you, but that makes me feel guilty.  I mean, when the kids were little, I wouldn’t have left them all by themselves.  But my husband is approaching retirement, so ideally he can entertain himself.  Nevertheless, I should be spending time with him.

So imagine my surprise when I’m in my office working away, and I hear my dear husband on the couch in our den…laughing.  You heard it here, folks.  Laughing and cracking up and having the time of his life.

Well, that was enough to make a writer on deadline rise to the occasion to see what was up.  Before I go any further, I should qualify, my husband is a stoic (non-laughing)  chemical engineer.  But there he was. On my couch, with tears in his eyes, slapping his knee…and laughing.

What’s so funny? I asked, and he pointed to the TV and a new (for me) program called IMPRACTICAL JOKERS.  I couldn’t go back to my work in progress at that point, so I sat on the couch and joined him.  And pretty soon, there I was, on my couch, with tears in my eyes, slapping my knee…and laughing.

At times the program can get kind of obscene, but other times it’s downright funny.  This coming from a woman who hated the Three Stooges.

But the good news is, I’m not feeling so guilty anymore.  I can go back to my office without fretting.  My husband is happy now.  Thanks to IMPRACTICAL JOKERS, which he can watch On Demand, he’s laughing!

For everyone who needs a distraction, I highly recommend it 😉

Sunrise, Sunset. . .

One of my favorite musicals is FIDDLER ON THE ROOF.  Who isn’t moved by tradition, and the scary proposition of marrying the wrong man or woman?  I saw that musical in college and the music and lyrics spoke to me then.  MATCHMAKER, MATCHMAKER, TRADITION…

These days the lyrics still speak to me, but now up close and personal, they encircle my heart.  In a little over a month, tradition, matchmaking and a wedding will enhance our lives.

 My son is getting married to the love of his life.  These two have dated since their freshmen year in college, and as my son’s fiancee will tell you, she knew he was the one from the moment they met–six years ago.

But although my son probably doesn’t know the words to MATCHMAKER, (ha! he’s probably never even heard of it), he’s not the type to rush into anything.

So much like his daddy, he’s a planner.  So when he says “I do,” I’m pretty confident that, well, he really does.

Still, the mom in me can’t help but reminisce, and at the same time think of a song from FIDDLER ON THE ROOF that makes me choke up just a little.

Maybe you’ve heard the words …

 Is this the little girl I carried, is this  the little boy at play?  I don’t remember growing older.  When did they?  Sunrise, Sunset.  Sunrise, Sunset . . .Swiftly fly the years.  One season following another laiden with happiness and tears . . .

Romance is abundant in the Bell household these days.  My heartfelt wish is that all of you celebrate such glorious Sunrises & Sunsets.

Road Trip & Reconnecting

Happy Thursday, everyone. I’ve just returned from the great, huge state of Texas where my son and my husband ran a marathon together. Terrific time and they both finished.  This was my husband’s 15th marathon.  It was my son’s first, and he swears it’s his last.  Still, it was vitally important to see my boy all grown up. In three short months, he’ll be marrying his college sweetheart.

Dave and Melanie’s love is new, and they still have those proverbial stars in their eyes. While my husband and I have endured/survived and celebrated nearly 29 years of marriage.

This past week our road trip was my husband’s and my way to reconnect. That meant I was rarely on line (almost killed me) and I (ha ha) forgot that I was a writer. My husband never answered his business cell (which I can assure you, unlike me, he had no trouble doing).

We drove from Colorado Springs to Amarillo, to Fort Worth to Houston, back to San Antonio, and now as I type this I’m home sweet home again.

I enjoyed this past week. There was lots of talking involved, a romantic stroll down the River Walk and valuable alone time.

But I have to admit, I can’t wait to get back to my WIP and become a writer again.

Once again, I’m curious.  Do you and your significant other plan alone time? Do either of your careers interfere? What do you do to keep your love alive?

Make it a fabulous March.

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