February 2011 Archives

If you want to meet someone who can fix any situation you don't like, who can bring you happiness in spite of what other people say or believe, look in a mirror, then say this magic word: "Hello."

~ The Messiah's Handbook, Richard Bach



I subscribe to The Sliding Doors theory of life.  As much as I hate Gwyneth Paltrow and that movie, I believe in its philosophy.  Regardless of your choices - whether you make the train or you miss it - you eventually make it to your destination. 

There are different paths to take, and different experiences to be had, but at the end of the day the Universe has a way of working itself out and you land where you're supposed to.

I spend a lot of time wondering about my future, and I wonder where life will take me.  But the other night, I had a revelation. Right now? I am right where I need to be. And I am totally ok with that.  In fact, it feels awesome.

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I am getting ready to go on my first Single Girl Vacation. It's only for about 24 hours and I will be busy hanging upside down for most of it, but still: my first Single Girl Vacation. Ever. It kind of feels like a big deal. In fact, it kind of feels a little bit like a reflection of my walking down a new street.

In this new phase of my life, there have been girls weekends galore. Trips all over the Southeastern US for work. Countless visits to New York to see family and friends. But a vacation? By myself? What's the point? I spend so much time alone anyways, why pay the extra price to spend it anywhere other than home?

I doubt I would have whisked myself away anywhere fabulous anytime soon but it turns out that I have to be in Orlando for work, and that dear readers, was a game changer because I love Orlando. And not only do I love Orlando, but I love the amusement parks - especially the roller coasters in amusement parks.  The faster, the twirlier, the zoomier, and the upside-downier, the better.

In another chapter of my life, I frequented Disney and Universal annually. But when my marriage ended, so did my visits to Orlando. 

As much as I love it, going to Orlando by myself never made sense.  It's one thing to wander the streets of New Orleans or the museums in Paris solo. It's another thing to be smack dab in the middle of FAMILY ALL TOGETHER NOW THEME PARK FUN as a single girl.  Seriously. Orlando is not a single girl destination. It's about families and kids and grandparents and couples and togetherness.  I'm not saying I want to be at some pick-up joint in Mexico somewhere.  But you can get lost in a big city by yourself and no one will ever know.  You can't say the same thing about Disney.  

The other reason I have hestitated about returning to Orlando (possibly ever), is because it is so steeped in my relationship with my ex.  That was OUR vacation spot. Where we celebrated our first anniversary.  The restaurants we ate at year in and year out were OUR restaurants. Could I really see myself enjoying the things we used to enjoy, doing the things we used to do, without him - let alone with someone else?

Given the headwinds I am facing, I probably wouldn't have ever taken myself back to Orlando except for the fact that, like I said, I have to be there for work. And while I have to be there for work for about a day and a half, my trip is more like two and a half days.  I tacked on the extra day because of Harry Potter.

{So to give you a clue about my love for Harry Potter, Book 7 happened to be released during the same weekend I had planned a romantic getaway. Instead of waiting 48 hours and grabbing the book on Monday like a sane person, I made my ex spend Friday night with me on line at the local Wal-Mart waiting to buy the book and I spent the rest of the weekend with my nose buried in it (the book that is).  At 800+ pages it took up half the bed of the quaint B&B we were staying at. And who says romance is dead?}

Anyways, in case you've been living under a rock for the last few months Universal Islands of Adventure has added a Harry Potter World that recreates Hogwarts and Hogsmeade and Quidditch and dragons and there's butter beer and pumpkin juice and Ollivander's Wand Shop and chocolate frogs and a Sorting Hat and Hagrid's Hut AND IT'S REAL.  ALL OF IT. Universal has brought J.K Rowling's brilliant vision to life. Plus there are roller coasters.


I can't not go. Cleary.  So I'm off shortly for my First Ever Single Girl Vacation to a place that is not only NOT Single Girl Friendly BUT it is deeply steeped in the history of my first marriage as well. What can I say: I like a challenge. 

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When I was younger, I wasn't exactly comfortable in my own skin, and I wanted so desparately to be someone else - to look like anyone other than who I was.  I wanted my frizzy, untamed curls to be sleek and straight. I wanted my dark, dull brunette locks to be shiny and blonde.  I wished like hell that my boring brown eyes were CAVU blue.  Let's face it: I wanted to be Barbie. 

And then I got glasses. And braces. Which coupled with the frizzy hair was the trifecta of everything I hated about myself:

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Pardon the streetwalker maquilliage but this is me as Bonnie in our 8th grade production of Anything Goes (I can totally still do my Heaven Hop routine by the way!) and it is the ONLY picture I could find showcasing the awesome awkward that was a pre-adolescent Rougie. Well, let me requalify: it's the only photo I could find of me with people (my Aunt & Uncle - hi guys!) who wouldn't sue me when they saw their 20-year old mug shots on my blog. I can't say the same for my 8th grade classmates. 

Anyways - for years and years and I swam upstream and fought my looks.  The braces were never permanent, but glasses were replaced by contacts were replaced by LASIK. The brown hair has been highlighted, lowlighted, bleached, dyed and tinted every shade from black to blonde to red (for those of you who are wondering: blonde was not a good look for me).  The curls have long since been tamed into submission and for years even the slightest bit of frizz gave me a headache.

The need to be someone else never left me. Even as recently as the end of 2008, I was trying so hard:


In this case I was apparently trying so hard to be Louise Brooks because that hair? Is so against God's follicular plan for me.

The thing is, somewhere along the way...some time in the last few months I finally stopped fighting.  I don't know why and I don't know when but I've come to accept what I was born with and I've come to embrace it. 

These days, I prefer my hair in my curls. They're bouncy and free and a little untamed - just like me.  The only color I add is to cover the grays and the color I choose is a rich, chocolate brown.  My eyes aren't boring. They are clear and warm and full of expression. It doesn't matter what color they are. And when my eye doctor informed me that a decade after I'd had LASIK my vision had slipped some, I didn't opt for additional surgery to tweak it. I picked up a cute pair of frames instead.

This is me. Just like I was meant to be.

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I am finally getting comfortable in my own skin. 

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It's been a while since I did a photoshoot with The Stylist and since our first shoot resulted in the best picture of me ever:

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I didn't hesitate when she asked me if I wanted to do another one, because even though I am walking down a new street, I still like to dress up and be the center of attention on occasion.
























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I have changed. Although I can't explain the specifics, something inside of me is different.  I don't know when this exactly happened. Or why. Or even how. I just feel it, and it feels amazing.

2010 was not an easy year for me. Neither was 2009.  But as I picked up the pieces and went about rebuilding my life, I took my time.  I went slowly. Cautiously. Took baby steps.  And that's ok. I don't think that I should have or could have gone any faster.  I went at the pace that I needed to in order to heal; in order to rediscover who I am and what I am capable of.  I went at the pace that I needed to in order to figure out who I want to be.

After 2 years of tentative, small steps (lest I fall back on my ass) it seems I've finally found my footing.  I won't say that 2011 is FULL STEAM AHEAD and that I am blasting off like a rocket. But I feel like a ship that's shed ballast.  I can finally cut through the ocean with a little more ease, a little more freedom.

You should know that there is a lot that is good in my life right now.  A lot. Part of the reason why I am not inclined to share is because some of it is work-related and I don't blog about work. But part of it has to do with the fact that for the first time in my life I am not seeking external validation. It's enough for me to know that things are good and to celebrate that good on my own.

Ditto the bad. Despite all that is wonderful these days, there is also some not-so-wonderful, and while usually I reach out and ask the Internet for a giant, virtual hug - I'm keeping the not-so-wonderful to myself too and I'm ok with that.  

Good or bad, I feel relatively balanced.  My pendulum these days isn't swinging from HIGH to LOW to HIGH to LOW.  The good is good and the bad is bad and I take each for what it is all the while trying to maintain an even keel.

For the first time, I am pulling back and exercising discretion. It's out of character but it also feels right for the me I am right now.  I am being careful with how much I reveal and to whom I reveal it.  I am also starting to feel self-confident. Not just confident - but self-confident. The confidence is coming from a place deep within that I didn't think I could ever find.

I recently re-read The Faux Gourmet by Juli Huss. It's one of those books that I re-read at least once a year, and regardless of how many times I've read it, something always clicks with me. This time, it was the following:  

Autobiography in 5 Chapters - Anonymous

Chapter 1

I walk down the street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. It feels like I will never get out.

Chapter 2

I walk down the street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. It takes forever to get out.

Chapter 3

I walk down the street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I fall in. I get out immediately.

Chapter 4

I walk down the street. There is a hole in the sidewalk. I walk around it.

Chapter 5

I walk down a new street.

After 35 and a half years, I've fallen into my fair share of holes.  Getting out of some them seemed damn near impossible.  But today? Today I am walking down a new street.  It's totally unknown, and a little bit scary at times.  But I am making progress and moving forward with a sense of purpose and I am ready for whatever opportunities life puts in my path.   

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