with Lynne and Leslie

This Is 45. At Least For Lynne.

by SweetMidlife

Hi y’all! It’s Lynne. It’s been like a month since we wrote on this here blog, because I started a theater that does shows about kindness for kids and we were doing our first performances, and Leslie has been busy at work writing about the lifestyle stuff in West Palm Beach for the paper she writes for, and we both have been trying to make sure that the little boys that we live with at our separate houses are fed and not throwing themselves off of things in a way that can hurt them. But I have missed you bunches, and missed talking to you and gabbing and maybe you have missed us, too? Well, we’re back, and YAY!  The last post we did was Leslie talking about the milestone of us reaching the age of 45 at the end of April, which we did on the same day, being twins and all. And I have been meaning to write something on my own musings of being this age so far, and I haven’t, so now I am.

I will say going in that this is not a definitive look at what it means for everyone to be 45. This is just my personal experience, but maybe you will find something in it that looks like you!.

So. 45.

Hi!

Hi!

It sounds really old, doesn’t it? Like 40 sounded empowered and stuff (which our awesome blogging friend Fadra just said in a comment on Leslie’s post), but something about 45 sounds firmly planted in middle age. Because it is. And sometimes when I tell people that I am 45 they say “What? You? No, you are lying! You can’t be that old.”, while some people go “Okay.” And those reactions might make me feel some kind of way about them or me, but that is because 45 just sounds kinda old. Like it’s still young, and my Grandma is almost 90 and that lady lives life, and I am exactly 1/2 her age, so I know that I got a lot of living to do, which is also a song from “Bye Bye Birdie”, which is a movie that Leslie and I watched 70 million times in middle and high school (Whattup, Betamax? I miss you), and is also a play that I did both in 7th grade and in dinner theater when I was 26 and I was way skinny even though I ate full-fat everything because that show is all dancing and jumping and fainting 8 shows a week. It feels more substantial.

But I digress. But actually, maybe that’s what 45 is. It’s remembering all of the things that have happened up to this point, that have added up to me being where I am now, and figuring out how that makes me who I am. Like my parents, and my sister, and us living overseas then coming back to the states and not being accepted by everyone, but still finding a niche, and me not finding a job in social work, and going into acting because I could do that and do shows that reached kids, and me loving it and choosing that life and getting training, and now me starting my own business and using all that I have learned. And there is also me getting married at 39 (and not having sex until then) and having a baby at 41 and having the loves of my life later than some might have and loving every minute. Well, most minutes. Because tantrums are not fun. And I miss people, like my dad, and my brother-in-law. That comes with being alive, the grieving, which I actually said to a good friend today who is missing someone she loves, too.

And it brings me here, to where I am writing this in a shirt with pictures of big cats on it and pajama bottoms that I worked out in earlier, and I need to take a shower, and my kid is watching TV from the kitchen as he looks into the family room because he can’t eat in there, so he is standing in the doorway drinking apple cider so he is still technically in the kitchen but he did just put his empty cup in the sink, so that’s good. I have a schedule for today, and I have already missed some of it, but I have moved things around, and I will get done what I need to get done. And I have okay grown-up things to do like get my oil changed, but also fun grown-up stuff to do like make cupcakes for my kid’s class tomorrow and also really awesome fun stuff to do this weekend like celebrate my son’s birthday and eat more cupcakes, this time made by my sister-in-law because she is really good at that. And I am still trying to be more organized with time, and with cleaning things up, and not going out with stuff in my hair, and I was NOT the last person to pick up their kid at school yesterday, and even if I was, at least I picked him up. He is here right now eating blocks of cheese and sticking pens into the salt shaker. Hold on.

I’m back.

And I am working on being more present for my friends, and doing what I said I would, and trying to make them know how much I love them, although I don’t do that right all of the time. And I am calling my mom more, and my sister more, but less when she has to work.

And I am working on owning up to my mistakes and feeling the shame that makes me want to do better, but not living in it and staying there. Don’t have time for that.

And I am loving my husband and seeing where I have changes to make and where we both do, and taking care of my crap, and diving into his love and also knowing that I don’t have to work to earn his love, but that his love makes me want to put in the work that it takes for us to do right by each other. Funny how that works, no?

And I am working on being a woman whose life in real time matches up to who she says she is when she says she is a Christian and wants to love people like Jesus showed us we should.

And I am working on loving me, and giving myself breaks, and realizing that I am kinda cool. I am making time for myself and honoring me. That is a work in progress. But I really like me. That felt weird to write. It will hopefully get less weird.

This is 45 to me. I have grown, and I am growing, and maybe you are younger and have figured this out before I did, and maybe you are older and you still have not, but that it okay. We are moving at our own pace, hopefully, altogether, forward.

I am liking this so far.


Oh, we’re 45, we’re beautiful, and we’re fine: Claiming your middle-aged awesome

by SweetMidlife
Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

Leslie with the Afro, Lynne with the locs. Hi!!

This post was originally going to be about Beyonce’s “Lemonade” and whether a middle-aged viewer who is an admirer but not by any means a super fan would find it as enlightening and transformative as so many have, and whether anything in a soulful piece about anger, forgiveness, betrayal and acceptance could spur that admirer toward writing death threats to strangers who may or may not have betrayed another stranger. I doubt that. Anyway I’m not writing that story right now because I’m a really busy single mother and haven’t had the time to watch it – which alone I guess says something about my investment in some “Lemonade” transformation. Do with that what you will,

So that is not the story we will be writing today. The story I am writing is about how my sister Lynne and I turned 45 yesterday, a sort of milestone birthday that doesn’t have the same punch as those ages that end in a “0” but is the sort of age that people toss off as an example, like when a younger acquaintance was talking about a male contemporary and said, increduously, “He likes old women, like 45 year old women!” and I didn’t snatch her teeth out. I am fairly sure I thought 45 was old when I was 25, although only in relation to myself. The coolest people I knew, the most together, were in their 40s, and I was awed by what seemed to be their poise, their experience, their lived-in sexiness. I could not imagine what would have to happen in the 20 years between me, at the time, and my 45th birthday, and even imagining it was weird. I hoped I would be awesome. But unimaginable.

Guess what? It happened! I’m 45! I’m 45! And I am awesome. I am not as rich or thin or internationally famous as I imagined I would be, but I have a bunch of other things that are more important and I’m not even saying that to make up for not being rich and thin. I know that my sister feels the same way, because we talk on the phone and read each other’s minds. No we don’t. We’re not psychic.(OR ARE WE?)

What we are, every year, is more comfortable in our skin, more willing to claim the stuff that we know, and to not do what we and other women do all the time which is to downplay it and be self-deprecating. I still do that, too much, but I am learning to accept it. Not only because it seems phony to those who note their admiration, and maybe a little ungrateful like they’re stupid and wrong to think you impressive, but because a lot of people with a lot less reason to be proud are claiming their stuff, and the stuff of others, without even a thought.

I am not perfect. I am not where I want to be in a lot of ways. But I have built a good career that I am proud of, that I fought for. I am doing better in taking care of myself. I am a good friend, a good mommy, a good daughter. I was a good wife (but not “The Good Wife.”) I am better at most things, besides running and having good knees, at 45 than I was or would have been at 25 or 35. I have had losses and struggles, disappointments and giant, giant self-made mistakes, and some stuff that was just all-out stupid. I have learned from all of those things, that happened to me and that I made happen, and I have become a better, smarter, more humbled and yet more confident person than I would have been without those lessons.

And I am particularly proud to be 45, an age that my sweet goofy husband did not get to be, because I am living it for both of us. What an insult it would be to him and the things he was robbed of to whine and wrap my head in my hands and wail about getting old? Scott would want to be 45, and 50, and 75. He can’t. But I can. And I’m gonna start it off by saying:

I am excited to be 45. I earned this age. I earned these wrinkles and this cellulite, and also this common sense and distaste for drama. I have earned my career, and my friendships, which are mostly years old and healthy, because I have worked for them. I will not be coy about it anymore, pretend that I’m not proud so I seem nicer and more  humble. This is not a time for humility. It’s a big day. And I’m happy for it. Light them candles up, y’all.

I have earned them. We both have. We all have.


Something About Prince

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne. We haven’t written in a bit because Leslie has been busy at work, and I have been working on getting my theater company off of the ground, and we haven’t been able to talk to you guys as much. But we have had lots to talk to you about, so hi! And the first thing I had to talk about was Prince.

 

Still doesn't make sense to me.

Still doesn’t make sense to me.

This is not an exhaustive report on everything that the music of Mr. Nelson has meant to me over the past 30-some years, because I haven’t figured out the extent of that yet. Because ever since his death last week, I have had his songs and his lyrics running through my head and my heart, and I wish that I had time to take all of them and write a really definitive thing about it, but it’s fluid, what I am feeling. On Thursday, when my Facebook timeline was covered in purple, A friend asked if I was okay, since she knew that I loved Prince. And I did. And what was funny, though, is that I wasn’t a Superfan the way some of my friends are: I had never seen him live (although I wanted to), and I didn’t have the Black Album, and I didn’t know all of the B-Sides. And I have at least 4 friends who I checked in on because of their massive love of the man because I knew that they were crushed. And I myself wanted to cancel all of my plans Thursday night and just sit and listen to his music and read what people who loved him were saying, but I could not. And in the past few days, I have had remembrance upon memory of the little and big places that his music has filled up in my life. Actually, the day before Prince passed away, my husband corrected me on something, and I said “I stand corrected.”, and I promptly launched into “U Got the Look”, and I promised myself that I would look that song up as soon as I got a chance. But the memories go further back. These aren’t all of them.

Hanging out with my older cool cousin when we were like 10 as she freaked out to “Controversy”.

At 13, seeing the video to “When Doves Cry” with him sitting in that bathtub, and me feeling all kinds of ways, like sexy things, when I don’t think I had ever really used that word before, except for singing along with Rod Stewart when I didn’t know what they meant. Prince made me feel what that meant, even if I didn’t have words for it.

Jamming in Cousin Paige’s room to “Let’s Go Crazy”and doing guitar solos while jumping off of her bed.

My late grandmother Streeter seeing the “Raspberry Beret” video and asking us if that was a boy or a girl. “He’s a boy, Grandma”, we said. “Well, he looks like a girl.”, she said. “Well, he’s like SUCH a man.”, is what I would have said but I also valued my life and you didn’t say things like that to my grandmother.

Seeing the video to “The Most Beautiful Girl in The World”, and feeling really SEEN. I was living in Miami working in theater, and I looked nothing like the tall, thin model types on South Beach, and oh my gosh I just remembered that we waited in front of Prince’s club on South Beach once and didn’t get in right away, and the bodyguard asked us to wait and that he would let us in later, but we left. But anyway, in the video I was talking about, there were all different kinds of women in different parts of life, as moms, and as career women, and they sat down to see pieces of their lives, and how all of it made them beautiful. I was struck that Marva Collins, an amazing educator and voice for children from Chicago was in it, because The Artist was saying that minds and voices were beautiful too. And I needed to hear that about myself.

Having a friend in the 90s, who is truly the biggest Prince fan that I know, almost like teach a master class on him in every conversation, and explain the religious things behind the music (how had I not seen it all?), and who also, respectfully, differentiated the music that Mr. Nelson made under the name “Prince”, and that which was made under that symbol, as The Artist Formerly Known As Prince, because there was a difference in expression.

And this leads me to probably the thing that stands out to me the most about Prince. As I said, this was in the period where he wasn’t using the name “Prince”, because he was standing against his record label, and the fact that they owned the masters to his recordings and the trademarks to his name. So he stopped using that name, and kept on making music. And it became somewhat of a joke to some people, where they shook their heads like “Oh, he’s crazy”, or more politely “He’s eccentric”, but there was definitely out there this idea, depending on who you talked to, that he was being spoiled, and weird, and that none of it was a big deal. And I have to admit that I didn’t really understand it all either, until I saw him being interviewed by Larry King in December of 1999, and I can tell you exactly where I was. I was on tour in a play for kids and we were in Mississauga, Ontario, and it was a Friday night (I guess that makes it alright), and I sat in my hotel room and watched. I think either my friend Jeff watched it with me, or we called each other during it. But here is what I remember: The Artist spoke clearly on why he was doing what he was doing, and he said, and I am quoting this wrong, but that basically he didn’t own “Purple Rain”, or any of it, and that his label did, and that they were able to use it to do whatever they liked with it, and he was fighting to get that power back over his own artistic output. And a light went off in my heart, and I have referenced that interview over the years. And yes it is significant that it was the last few days of 1999, and that of course, The Artist had talked about that, but that it was a time for new beginnings. But going back to the interview, the things that I took away the most were this:

1. We should all have the right to our own work, and to be able to represent ourselves the way that we want to. Your voice, your words, your art, your dance, your thoughts all belong to you, and you should share it, but you should be able to say how that happens.

2. You should stand up for that right, even if other people call you crazy, either because they don’t understand, or because they benefit from other people thinking that you are crazy, so they get to misrepresent you and reap your rewards. Dance and make music and awesomeness in the face of people thinking that you are crazy. Because when you persist, who looks crazy now?

And The Artist won his fight, and reclaimed his name, and he never lost a step in still producing things that were true to who he was. And he had a big heart, and was a philanthropist, and helped countless people that he never told people about, and he was a man of faith who loved and serves the way he thought his God wanted him to, and he wore a doo-rag on his head as he sang in the rain in the Super Bowl because he was not trying to get his hair messed up, and he slayed everybody at the Super Bowl party I was at, and even the non-fans had their jaws drop, and they had to recognize. Re. Cog. Nize.

Because greatness and humility and humor and intelligence and sexy and kindness and faith don’t often come in the same package. But they did in Prince Rogers Nelson. And I need to stop writing because now I am thinking of more things to say and I need to end this. So I will stop typing, and turn on his music, and dance. Because we still have that.

 


NBC’s “Strong”: Why my trainer and I wouldn’t win the show but are winning, anyway

by SweetMidlife

 

Not on a TV near you. But still rocking.

Not on a TV near you. But still rocking.

I am Leslie, and I watch too much TV, which is OK because sometimes it’s for work and the other times it’s so I catch up on my “Murder She Wrote” game and I refuse to be judged by you or anyone about that, OK? I WILL NOT BE JUDGED.

So one of the things that happens with all this TV, particularly if I’m too lazy to find the remote and bleep-bloop the commercials, is that I have to actually watch the commercials, which is why during “The Voice” a while back I caught word of “Strong,” which is what “The Biggest Loser” might be if every contestant had their own trainer, no one was really fat, the trainers had to compete physically right with their clients, and they all had to do a modified version of “American Ninja Gladiator Habitrail Thunderdome.” And somehow Sylvester Stallone was involved.

This looks intriguing, not only because I am over “The Biggest Loser” and its head games on people who probably need therapy more than they need to be shamed about “only” losing 5 pounds a week, and because the dynamics of the male trainers and female clients reminds me some of that between myself and my trainer, Victor Ayala. We’re not on the show, and I can’t see us jumping off scaffolding tethered to each other on a giant bungee cord, because Leslie does not do that. Also, I have no interest in being tired and sweaty on camera. I don’t even like being tired and sweaty at Walgreen’s on the way home.

But Victor and I do, at least, have that same connection that the pairs on “Strong” seem to have, with all the emotional connection and breakthroughs and whatnot, even if we’re not being paid big NBC dollars for our efforts. We’ve worked together off and on for about a decade, most intensely in the last several months, since the death of my husband Scott, who also worked with Victor.  We don’t have a network contract or the pull of the camera, but we do have that bond established by friendship and that time he looked me up and down and said “I swear to God, you’re doing this right this time, because I’m telling people I train you and if you don’t get in shape it’s on me.”

And that made sense to me, so I’m 13 pounds, a dress size and a half, and some inches down. I’m not sure why NBC went with the male/female dynamic – there doesn’t seem to be a romantic element to the pairings, but I can tell you n that at least in my experience, I work better with a guy trainer in general, and Victor specifically. I had a female trainer once, years ago, and as much as I liked her I couldn’t help comparing myself to her, even though we were a decade apart and completely different body types and fitness levels. I looked at her and thought “Why can’t I be a cute little blonde with no body fat?” I mean, I did not really want to be a cute little blonde, because I’m very happy being a black woman with blond highlights. But that’s the female fit body I saw every week, and it kinda messed with my head, even though I (temporarily) lost the weight.

I am not competitive with Victor, because I cannot compete with a man who ran a marathon in the South Florida heat in a sweatshirt, long fatigues and a weighted pack on his back. I can only hope to learn from him, when he’s yelling at me to not punk out on my stair runs, or sneaking up on my on the stair climber and saying “Why are you only on Level 6?” Or when he’s out of town and texting my workouts to me in sadistic bursts – “Do 1000 crunches. And then run two more miles. And I wanna see pictures when you’re done so I can tell if you’re actually sweating.”

He crazy. But our bond is about history, a shared loss, professional respect and a deep friendship where you need the other one to do well. For Victor, that’s pushing me to be the best, healthiest Leslie I can be, and for me, that’s not wasting his time and reputation. I don’t know if that’s something Sly Stallone would put on TV. But if there’s no bungees involved, we’d consider it.

 

 

 


Sleep in Snoreless Peace

by SweetMidlife


Hi! It’s Lynne!

I snore. It’s one of those things that you can deny about yourself because you don’t hear it, because you are asleep and dancing in a forest with unicorns at a party hosted by Lionel Richie, dancing all night long, until the friend whose couch you are on when you were supposed to be watching “So You Think You Can Dance?” says “Lynne, wake up! You’re snoring, dude!” Wait, did I say Lynne? This was supposed to be a hypothetical scenario. Oops. Anyhoo, fast-forward to my current life, where my husband will wake me up to tell me that the sound of chain-sawed logs coming out of my mouth has woken him up. It’s a thing. I wish it was dainty snoring. But no.

So this is why, when we had the chance to try out Snore Reliever and tell you about it on this here blog, I knew that I should do it, and I am sure glad that I did. They come in this cute little container, and with directions on how to use them.

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It’s basically a pack of nose-plugs, in different sizes for different noses, and after you wash them before the first use, you figure out which one feels the best for you, and you stick it in your nostrils until it comes to a natural stop. It looked like this for me.

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Cute, right? Now, I must tell you something about me. I hate feeling like I can’t breathe, so putting something in an airway out of which you breathe seemed sort of counter-intuitive to me, but since I knew that this is how it worked, I gave it a try, and I went off to bed. And it was working for awhile, until I woke up in the middle of the night, realizing that I had something plastic in my hand. It turns out that sometime during my sleeping, I took out the nose plugs because they felt weird. But I decided to soldier on, and back in it went, and after I stopped psyching myself out about it, I went back to sleep. When I woke up for real, the plug was still there, and the funniest thing was that it didn’t feel weird anymore. It was actually comfortable. So now, I just needed confirmation that this thing worked. So I said to my half-asleep husband, “Hey babe, did you hear me snoring last night?” And he rolled over and said “Actually, no.”, so his response, and also the fact that he was still asleep and hadn’t been awakened by my nose tunes meant that yes, it worked! Hooray!

If you snore, and want to find an inexpensive and very effective way to work on that, I highly suggest Snore Reliever. Once you get over the initial sensation of having something in your nose, the peace of mind of being able to sleep in a way that is peaceful for both you and the people around you is worth it, especially since, once you find the right size, it’s quite comfortable. You can get yours here on Amazon. Sweet dreams!

Disclosure: We received Snore Reliever for free for trying it out, but the opinions written here are our own, and are absolutely true and unbiased. 

 


Yay For Us: Some Tuesday Affirmations

by SweetMidlife

Hi! It’s Lynne!

This post is to encourage you and me on our journeys to be the best you that you want to be, especially when you aren’t there yet. And it’s appropriate for me as I strive to be organized and meet deadlines, since I planned to do this yesterday. But I am writing it today, which is better than not writing it at all. Yay, me!

I have written before about my struggle to be organized in every aspect of my life, including time management and being aware of what I eat. This is not a linear thing for me. I take many steps forward, and a bunch of steps back, and as I excited as I get about making changes, I get overwhelmed with the effort at times, and I slowly drift back downhill to where I was.  But I knew that I needed some help in getting a handle on my life, but I kept making small changes that didn’t click. Until the day last month when I left the gas on the stove on all night after not realizing that I didn’t turn it off after cooking the night before. Nobody was hurt. But they could have been. That hurts to think about. And that scared me. And it scared my husband. And I know that mistakes happen, but I know that this is a result of me rushing and not being mindful of my life on many levels. That hurts. And it makes me ashamed that my rushing led to that.

So I went straight to the bookshelf in our living room, and I picked up this book called “It’s Hard to Make a Difference When You Can’t Find Your Keys” by Marilyn Paul, a book about organizing with practical tips but more on a spiritual level. I started reading it 6 years ago but never finished it because I got caught up in other things, and there is something poetic about sometimes misplacing and not  making time for a book about organizing. But that has to end. And this book is long and in depth, and it takes you on a direct but kind journey into finding the things in your life that are keeping you from being organized by looking at what you want out of life on a deep level, and how having a handle on things will help you get there. There are exercises in it, and I find that I can’t really do more than one a day for it to really sink in, so me and this book are in for the long haul. So far, I have had 2 big takeaways from this book.

1. To really move forward, you have to come to terms with what not being organized and mindful is costing me and the people around me.

2. Once you figure that out and you start making changes, you should be nice to yourself as you move forward. Because if you don’t, you are gonna end up on the couch ignoring your schedule and eating nachos and cruising Hulu for 2 straight hours.

So, as I move forward on this path and such, I’mma be realistic and also kind. Therefore,

If I rush to get somewhere on time, and I actually make it, I will not beat myself up for the fact that I had on one shoe when I left the house and put the other one on when in the car. Because I made it to the car. Yay, me!

If I make a detailed schedule and don’t get to everything on it today, that’s okay as long as I get the other things done tomorrow. As long as I get them done, if they really need to be done, I am good. Yay, me!

If dinner takes longer than I thought it would because I actually wiped things up and put things away as I was done with them and made sure I cut things off and got rid of sharp knives, then that’s better than the gas and the cutting. Yay, me!

If I only do 8,000 of the 10,000 steps I planned to do, that’s alright, because before I bought this step tracker watch, I had no idea how many steps I wasn’t doing. And now I do. I will get there. Yay, me!

If I realize that having Facebook on in the background is keeping me from finishing this blog post, I will not hang my head and dive back into my feed for 10 minutes in shame. Nope. I will realize that what I am doing is more important, and I will just close the window, like I just did. Yay, me!

If I buy my son a pair of shoes that looks like his old pair, and I realize while we are out that I dressed him not only in one old shoe and one new shoe, but that they were both for his right foot, I just know that I will put him in the correct shoes tomorrow. Plus, he’s wearing shoes. Yay, me!

Different shoes, Same foot. It's a'ight.

Different shoes, Same foot. It’s a’ight.

If I go to a networking event and they have free Ledo’s pizza, and I eat the pizza too fast before I realize how much I ate, I won’t be mad at myself. Because I also had carrots. And even though I did eat a cookie, I waited until I was on the way out to get it because I decided that I really wanted it and wasn’t eating it just because it was there. And I ate it once I got home. Mindfully. Yay, me!

Because there will be days that I don’t get it all right, and don’t get everything done that I planned. But I HAVE a plan, and that’s a start, and I am more likely to get even 50% of my goal done if I know what my goal is. Right? Right. So I am going to keep moving forward, keep making a a plan, and I am going to give myself grace if I work that plan. And I will take care of me, and still watch Netflix but I will schedule me time and not let it take over my day until I don’t care anymore. Moving forward, and sometimes to the left, and maybe a little backwards, but then forward again.

You too, okay? Yay, us!


Looking People In The Eye Like You Know What The Heck You Are Talking About

by SweetMidlife

Happy Monday! Lynne here.

I was part of a classroom demo in a Social Psychology class in college (St. Mary’s College of Maryland class of 1993! Go Seahawks!) once where the professor had me and a male classmate get up in front of the class and just talk to each other for like a minute. After making forced small talk for a little bit, she let us sit down, and she explained to the class that she wanted to test a theory about power in conversation, and the theory is this: when 2 people are talking, the person who feels the most powerful out of the 2 will look directly at the other person when they themselves are talking because they are so sure of what they are saying and want the other person to hear every word. But when the other person is talking, though, the more powerful person will look away, as if they don’t really need to hear what’s being said. Rude, hey? And what I remember is that my professor told us that it when there are a man and a woman in the conversation, the man is the sure-of-himself and not-so-interested-in-what-the-other-is-saying, and the woman is the person who feels less powerful and will look at their associate as the other person talks, as if that person’s words are gold, but look away when they themselves are talking, as if they doubt the validity of their words. And I also remember that in the staged conversation for class, that I was the one deemed the most powerful. Hee.

So, things have changed a bit over the years.

Now, I think that it would be wonderful if both people in a conversation would listen to each other, each feeling equally powerful to the other and feeling like there is give and take and such. But I have realized, though, that as much as I talk, which is a whole heck of a bunch, I was sometimes not so sure of what I am saying, and it’s usually when people are asking me about my plans, or my new business. You know, things that I know about. I find myself looking up in the air and avoiding the other person’s eyes, like I was searching for the words off of the ceiling or something. And it made me remember that experiment in college, but the difference is that nobody else is doubting my power, or my words, or thinking that what I am saying isn’t important. Nope. I was the one doing that to myself, and that’s sad, especially when it’s something about me, a subject that I should know a lot about, and I am realizing why. It’s that when I couldn’t look people right in the face and tell them about what I have going on, it’s that I was doubting the validity of my own dreams, of my own plans, and of me having the right to do the thing that I am doing. And I am deciding that I am not going to do that anymore, because if I don’t believe  what I am saying, how the heck am I supposed to make other people believe me? Because I am quite good at what I do in business, darn it. I am prepared for this, and my dreams and plans have meaning.  I am gonna work the heck out of them, and I am going to stop diluting my own power by believing what I say, looking people straight in the face, and going from there. I have been doing that, and darn it, it feels great.

Believe your own dream, my friends. And tell people about it. And see what happens.

I know what I am talking about.

I know what I am talking about.


Another Dose of Twin Randomness, Late-March Edition

by SweetMidlife

Howdy. Lynne and Leslie here. Welcome to the latest edition of that thing we do where we answer each other’s random questions. We have been trying to do it weekly, but I am afraid that if it call it that in writing, then something will come up and we won’t get to it for another month and then we look flighty. So aspiration-ally, this will be a weekly thing, but we will just call it a regular feature. And I said the phrase “that thing we do”, and now I have “That Thing You Do” in my head and I will be singing that sing for the rest of the day. But anyhoo, this week, instead of us each asking and answering different questions, we will be answering the same ones. We though that would be fun. We amuse each other and we seem to amuse you so we will just go with that.

Fox just broadcast The Passion, which was the Biblical Easter story, with the characters singing popular songs to illustrate the story. Let’s pretend that we were hired to musical direct a version, but all of the songs had to be by 90s boy bands. What would your entry be?

Lynne: Okay, this would be Jesus (I was inspired by NSYNC):
“Every little thing I do
Never seems enough for you
You don’t wanna get hurt again
But I’m not like them
My people, when you finally
Get loved by somebody
Guess what,
It’s gonna be me..”

Leslie: Fun! Here’s mine! Also Jesus, from the Backstreet Boys

“Well, My life is all I have to give

And with me, eternally, you’ll live

This world and the next I give to you

My life is all I have to give to you.”

Funniest thing your kid has done lately?

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Lynne: We bought the kid this guitar shaped like a dog that he gets to play when he poops on the potty, and yesterday was one of those good days, and we have no idea where he picked this up, but he does this full-on rock star yelp and knee slide. It is hilarious and spot-on C.C. DeVille. Does anyone get that reference? I do.

 Leslie: I saw that video. That scream was, as I told you, like the one The Who let out whenever David Caruso took off his shades leaning over a dead body and said something obnoxious. Over here, The Kid has noticed that the smoke alarm is right over  the stove and goes off all the time, which freaks him out. So if he sees so much as steam coming out of a pan, he says, slightly alarmed, “Open door! Open door! Open other one, too.” And then he points to the stove and says “Clean up, Mommy!” Adorable. (Snerk)

We are both working out more because yes. What’s your favorite song to sweat to?

Lynne: What keeps coming to my head is “Fergilicious”, because the phrase “I be up in the gym just working on my fitness” is the best line ever. And I use it often. Even when I am in my living room walking in place.

Leslie: I am going old school – still either “Born To Run” or “St. Elmo’s Fire,” because of the over-the-top anthem, and if you can raise your tired fist over your head and scream “Tramps like us!” that means you can breathe.

What TV show are you either hooked on or rewatching on the Internets?

Lynne: Actually, a bunch of things that come on Thursday nights. I watch the first part of “American Idol”, because singing, then I go to bed and wake up Friday morning and watch the highlights from the YouTube clips on the “Idol” Facebook page. Then I watch “Grey’s Anatomy” on Hulu, because it has roped me in again, and then I watch “Project Runway Allstars” on Mylifetime.com. I almost gave up on that show because I am over people talking about each other when I want them to just sew pretty clothes,but the talent this year is fantastic and the creativity is off the charts. It excites me to see what talented people can do. Love it.

Leslie: The “West Wing.” I wish I could vote for Jed Bartlet, even though he could get sanctimonious, because he didn’t apologize for being smart, and because I felt that he and his fictional staff really did want to make the world a better place. Also 90s Brad Whitford and his pleated pants were swoony.

How do you feel about two-piece bathing suits if you have back or belly fat?

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Lynne: You know what? I think there was a time when I was not cool with it, because I didn’t like my belly or back fat. But I am over that. If you are confident, do it. I will be wearing a one-piece this year, so my belly is covered, but you know what, my back will do what it do. Love it.

Leslie: I just ordered a full coverage swim top from Victoria’s Secret. because I have very covery bottoms. It could be a disaster and I am nowhere near svelte. But I have a nice cover-up, and if big fat dudes can sun like seals at the chair across from me shirtless, people’s eyes will survive seeing some back fat in the time it takes me to take my cover-up off and jump in the pool. Y’all will be fine. And even without the cover-up, you all will survive flashes of middle-aged fat. I’m not flaunting but I want to feel good about myself.

Best thing you’ve cooked lately?

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Lynne: I made cupcakes and buttercream frosting out of this Better Homes and Gardens cookbook that was outstanding. Yes. I said it. Those things were epic. I made them for our weekly small group from church, and people ate several. My poor son saw me making them before he went to bed, and he got up asking for them, but dang it. They were gone. Sorry, Little Boy.

Leslie: That vegan pesto I made the other day was delicious. With cashews. Cashews are my Windex. They fix everything.

So, guys, what you watching on TV? What you cooking? Can we have some? And what is your bathing suit situation this year?

 

 


Spring Cleaning Can Include Taking Down Your Christmas Tree.

by SweetMidlife

Hi! Lynne here!

This past weekend, my family and I went to church on Saturday night as a family, so on Sunday morning, we ate breakfast together at home, welcomed the coming of Spring while also bemoaning the lost hour of sleep that comes with Daylight Savings Time, since toddlers don’t care and that dude got up anyway because his body clock said so. And we took down our artificial Christmas tree and put away the rest of the Yuletide decorations.

Tis the season! But not that season anymore.

Sunshine and tinsel and Spring and Baby Jesus. But he isn't in this picture. So here is my baby.

Sunshine and tinsel and Spring and Baby Jesus. But he isn’t in this picture. So here is my baby.

Yeah, so what had happened was that, as I have told you, I had major surgery in January, a week after New Years. Since we like to leave our tree up at least until then, because taking it down so early is too abrupt for me and I need to ease out of the holidays and back to normal non-sparkly times, we thought that we would pace ourselves and take it down when things got normal. But even after the initial period of my mom and sister and Bestie Maria coming to stay at different times, and friends and family giving us rides when I couldn’t drive, and friends sending and bringing food, and my husband literally doing all of the heavy lifting, it took us awhile to get back to normal. Which we mostly are, but I know that this whole thing takes awhile, and in all of that we had never set a deadline for the tree coming down.

For awhile it was fine, because we knew what we were capable of, and it wasn’t a priority, and friends who came over knew where we were with that, and that was like late-January/early February. It was actually kinda nice to have the tree there, all shiny, and we knew we would get to it. We took down most of the other decorations and, because we knew it would help us with finishing it up, put them on the floor in front of the tree. And then it got later, and then it snowed, so the tree fit in, but then it melted, and that tree started to look strange, and friends would come over then in late February/early March, and we would say “The tree is still up. Don’t judge.”, and they would say “Shoot, we don’t care.”

And then I realized I was judging me. Because it was time.

So on Sunday morning, we went downstairs and got the box that holds the Christmas stuff, and we turned on a warm weather playlist (“Here Comes the Sun”, “Walking On Sunshine”, “Everyday Sunshine” and the like) while wrapping up the Baby Jesus in our Nativity and disassembling the tree. It was a nice family time to spend with each other, looking at the gifts people gave us and remembering how nice it is to have people who give you things, and remembering the meaning of the ornaments and when we got them and why, like the Blue Crab one we got in memory of my Dad, who loved him some crabs, and also remembering who gave us certain ones, like my late former neighbor who did the alterations on my wedding dress and gave us a beautiful “First Christmas” ornament, and Bestie Johnette’s mom, who adopted her friends and gives us beautiful angel ornaments every year. And it was cathartic to complete something, and bring some order and get rid of clutter, and to literally move into a  new season.

It was good. It’s okay to do things on your own time. And then it’s good to know when it’s REALLY time.

This is the favorite warm weather song of both Streeter Twins. What is yours?


This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

Seeing less of cheese: My backwards glancing sliding sorta into some sort of vegan thing

by SweetMidlife
This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

This is what happens when you have a little less cheese and work out a lot.

I am Leslie and cheese is my boyfriend. Even when my husband and sweet schmoopy love of my life was alive, he knew that cheese was my illicit habit, my thing that I could not get enough of (besides my husband, of course.) He actually gave me gifts of cheese, sometimes a good brie, other times a gorgeous feta from a Greek importer. I was raised mostly vegetarian, and as I stopped completely eating chicken and other poultry, I claimed cheese as my primary protein besides the fish I maybe ate once a week. Cheese? Ate at least once a day. Sometimes once a meal. My mother once told a friend that her kids’ favorite food groups were potatoes and cheese.

Mommy was not lying.

So it was with much resistance that I took in a suggestion from my trainer, Victor Ayala, who had tortured worked me into a weight loss of 12 pounds and at least one dress size: “You’d lose more,” he said, in that way that forces you to not rest on your laurels too much, “if you cut our meat..”

“I don’t really eat meat,” I said.

“My dear,” Victor said, eyebrow skyward, “cheese is meat.”

Well, heck.

Vegan cheese makes a good casserole. Next time needs more onions and cheese. No! Not cheese! Stupid, stupid!

Vegan cheese makes a good casserole. Next time needs more onions and cheese. No! Not cheese! Stupid, stupid!

Although my beloved fromage is not technically the flesh of a living thing, it is an animal product and can cause inflammation (It’s also a thing to avoid if you’re about to sing, as I am wont to do.) When I was clean eating two years ago, I limited myself once a week or so to only the best quality cheese, but when our little one came to live with us, all that went out the window. Cheese became my crutch again. But between Victor and my beloved almost-sister Rissa, a longtime vegan who has sent me several vegan cookbooks and recipes a month since last summer, I feel I’m a crossroads.

Which is not to say that I am about to become vegan, because I am not and I really don’t want to. I am not going to just say I will never sample an exquisite brie or sprinkle aged Parmesan Reggiano on a perfect tomato soup, because I AM GONNA. But I want to explore playing with it, cutting back and seeing what new cooking adventures await me. This will upset real vegans who have ethical reasons for their lifestyle, like I’m dabbling and being disrespectful. But it’s where I’m at.

Cheeseless pesto. It is a thing.

Cheeseless pesto. It is a thing.

So far, I’ve adapted some recipes, some of which were already vegan and some which just included stuff I didn’t have. I did a vegan tomato bisque, a vegan cauliflower casserole and, most deliciously, vegan pesto with cashews, which creamily take the role of both traditional pine nuts and the cheese. A year ago I would have told you the point of pesto was cheese. I still think it might be.

The point is, I am learning. I am growing. I am not breaking up with cheese. But we are agreeing to see a little less of each other.


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