Thursday, December 29, 2005

Journey to the Beginning: The FINAL Chapter

Thirteen years ago, my birthmother requested the opportunity to meet me. And I said no.

Over the last few months, I have been communicating with her. In that short time, many realizations have come to me, much has been confirmed and I have seen a side of myself about which I am not entirely proud. And although not much time has passed, all that was to be learned has been learned from this experience and I sit here tonight to give you the final chapter of my journey. Albeit a short and bumpy journey...

On Christmas Day, I was fully prepared to gush to my family about how much I love them and how rich and full and complete they have made my life. But the opportunity to step forward and do so never seemed to come. Until one point in the evening when somehow a relative of mine began speaking about an adopted friend. Then without even a glance toward me, I was given a bit of a tongue lashing for seeking out my birthmother, for taking this small and simple journey back to my beginning. It was not an outright tongue lashing. It was sly and a bit underhanded. But I wouldn't be crediting the intelligence of my relatives if I thought it was merely coincidence that the adopted friend of which she spoke adamantly denied any desire to ever meet her birth family. The story alone was an implication that not all of my family agrees with my decision to grant my birthmother's wish and fulfill my own curiosity. And that's fine.

Entering into this time and place, I knew 3 things for sure. One, adoption didn't hurt me or cause me any pain, grief or sorrow. Two, our lives truly are in God's hands and He predestined the family into which I would be born. And three, all I wanted from my birthmother was INFORMATION, not a family, not a mother and not a best friend.

That brings us to the conclusions that have evolved from this journey.

1. I am the woman that I am today because of the family I grew up in. I am not a product of my birth but of my life.
2. I spent my entire life feeling different from everyone. And I was. But my differences were not a result of being adopted. My differences are a blessing, a gift, a route to my becoming the diversity-craving person that I am today.
3. There are two people involved in an adoption reunion and although you know what you expect to get out of it, sometimes convincing the other party is not so easy.

What everyone else thinks about my decision to search or the outcome doesn't really matter to me. I could use so many cliches right here... the one about glass houses and that other one about walking a mile in my shoes... And they would all be relevant. The bottom line is that this is something I needed to do to be able to move on with my life. Coming full circle in the acceptance of ME has been an obstacle in my life for many years. The wondering has shrouded my ability to see a future for myself.

The journey may not be completely over but I know what I need to know. I received the confirmation that I needed. Just days after beginning, I called my mom (my REAL mom who raised me) and I said, "You know mom... I don't even feel adopted any more."

As crazy as that sounds it's true. Now, I just feel like Michele.

Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Send Your Comments, Questions, Suggestions...

Many of you have said that you'd rather not post comments on the site so there's now a way for you to deliver your comments, questions and suggestions directly to me.

Please email me at

ALL comments are welcome. If there's something you need to get off your chest, email away!



A Message Just For You

‘Tis the season for making dreams come true. And I am sure if you took a little time to ponder the possibilities you would realize that within your power lies an opportunity to make some dreams come true yourself.

‘Tis the season for believing. It’s the time of year, more than any other, when the spirit of optimism infiltrates our world and we start to believe that anything can happen. Anything CAN happen. Even for YOU.

So, I decided to write you a personal message giving you permission to do what you really want to do this season. Stop procrastinating. Don’t miss another opportunity, don’t waste another day considering, don’t sit back and wait for someone else to make the first move. Pick up the phone. Write a letter. Just show up and knock on the door.

No other time of year is more acceptable for making a fool of yourself for the sake of another. TAKE A CHANCE. For all you know that someone is too afraid to stop procrastinating and make the first move. That someone is hoping intensely that you will pick up the phone, write a letter or just show up and knock on the door.

Make someone’s dream come true. Make your own dream come true. You know you want to. And now, you have permission.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

It's All About the Sexy

Last weekend, at a Christmas party in Kansas City, I had the pleasure of meeting a man with whom I would never go on a date. That's right, I said I had the pleasure of meeting him. Some people are created distinctively for purposes other than dating. But we won't go there right now...

I am fairly certain he will never find his way here so I will go ahead and give him his due. The man looked real good. Great smile, nice ass, clever conversation, reasonably successful... He's hot. The clever conversation eventually reeked of arrogance however and the great smile turn quickly into a sarcastic grin. The nice ass? I gotta call 'em like I feel 'em and his back side was nothing but fabulous.

Initial impressions would lead one to believe that this guy was THE catch at this party. So, I had to meet him. Not because I thought I could reel him in but I just had to find out if it was true. Without bashing the man, I have to say that I quickly discovered not that he was not the guy for me, but that I was CLEARLY not the girl for him. This was a man in need of a trophy girl. A petite, well-dressed, nicely-coifed 25 year-old would do. A girl just young enough and dumb enough to go along with his bullshit and hot enough that he could still have a good time. The more mature, wiser, confident, slightly plus-sized vixen that stood before him (that's me, by the way) was CLEARLY too much for him to handle.

So, in our first encounter, I very impolitely and crudely told him that I didn't like him. (I probably should apologize for that.) But I met him in the kitchen later where we struck up another brief conversation in which he corrected me on my first impression of him. He said, "You know, it's not about your size, it's about how sexy you are."

Shame on me! Shame on me for abandoning the crusade for equal love for the big girl by forgetting where I stand on this issue; for losing my head and losing my cool when presented with an opportunity to state our case! Shame on me for leaving it up to this incredibly fine but slightly arrogant man to remind me of the truth. It isn't about your size. It's all about the sexy.

Thanks Brian... I am back on track. Now let's work on the rest of the world.

That Thing You Can't Explain

Every woman has at least one unusual, inexplicable, just-plain-weird attraction to someone. He's not the guy who bowls you over with his boyish charm or his classic good looks. But, she's oddly attracted to him. It's that thing you can't explain.

Odd attractions come a dime a dozen for me. I always like the guy that nobody else is looking at. (I also happen to like the guys that everyone is looking at but that's beside the point.)Sometimes it takes a while for even me to find the odd man out attractive but you can bet that eventually, he'll catch my attention.

Notable odd attractions of mine include Tom Arnold and David Letterman. I think deep down I might have a thing for guys with imperfect teeth. I can't explain it.

One thing I can tell you, however, is that ALL WOMEN have these unusual, inexplicable, just-plain-weird attractions. I have a friend who admitted once to loving Drew Carey and another gal I know loves Snoop Dogg. Somewhere out there are Bill Gates groupies and women swooning over the crooning of William Hung. It's that thing you just can't explain.

But I wonder... Is this just a woman thing? Or do you think that somewhere, men are sharing their odd attractions with one another and we women just don't know it?

Think of it... A guy meets his friends at the local watering hole and says, "Man I just can't explain it but I think I've got a thing for the lady that does my dry cleaning?" Or they gather at the water cooler at work to discuss Bob's new thing for the Fed Ex Delivery chick. Or maybe there's a really great guy sitting at the hockey game with friends who-- although he has a hot, skinny, blonde girlfriend at home-- has an undenyable thing for the National Anthem singer. "Dude, I can't explain it but I just can't stop thinking about that big girl who sang the anthem..."

Okay, okay... maybe it's all just wishful thinking. But I am starting to believe that it's that thing that you can't explain that might be the thing that is most worth your time.

Tuesday, December 06, 2005

My Cousin, My Friend

Two of my favorite pictures preserve a memory of a deep and treasured friendship. When I was born, he was 2-1/2 years old. I was always big for my age and he was a bit on the small and skinny side. He was blonde and I had very dark brown hair. Most of all, he was a boy and I was a girl. No matter though. He was one of my very best friends and I loved him very much.

From the moment my parents brought me home, my cousin Kevin peered anxiously into my crib, helped me hold my bottle and entertained me endlessly. Once I was old enough to follow him around, I did.

We played with our grandpa's dog and built race tracks for our hot wheels in the dirt pit in the yard. And we went on the greatest adventures. With shovels in hand, we hurried to the yard where we planned to start digging a tunnel to China. Eventually, we grew tired of digging and retired to the family room where we hung out in our fort built with blankets and my mom's kitchen chairs.

One year, for my birthday, I received a book about the United States. Every two-page spread covered a different state. The information on each state included the state bird, the state flower and much more. That book became our guide to even more adventures. Kevin and I took turns picking our destination. Then, we'd climb up on the end of my bed, hang our legs over the footboard and take off! Sometimes we were drove a truck through the mountains or we soared through the skies in a plane over the Grand Canyon. Kevin and I have been everywhere together.

As we grew up, we grew apart. But at every point in my life that has carried significant meaning, Kevin has been there. Now that we are in our 30's, we hug again and we are sure to say "I love you" on at least the holidays. One night, in the 8th inning of a baseball game, Kevin stood up from where we had been sitting with some friends and decided to head home early. As he pushed through the row, he paused to hug me and tell me that he loves me. Everyone around us was amazed because I had been introducing him as my cousin all night. A stranger felt the need to remind me how special that was. But I already knew.

Any time I think about settling for less than what I need or deserve, Kevin shows up somewhere with a moment like that. And he reminds me of my worth, even though he probably doesn't realize it.

Monday, December 05, 2005

Things A Man Should Know

This is a topic upon which we cannot dwell enough. Call me old fashioned... Call me the anti-feminist... Call me CRAZY... But it wouldn't be the first time and, quite frankly, it wouldn't be enough to cause me to waver from my firm stance. There are certain things that a man should just know.

A man should know something about cars. Knowing where to put the gas is not enough. At the very least, he should be able to change a tire and he should know how to check the oil. Interpreting any of the myriad of sounds that can come forth from the car at any given time is a bonus.

A man should know how to handle tools. Wielding a hammer, turning a screwdriver or handling a pile driver... The handy man is the sexy man as far as I am concerned. He shouldn't be afraid to try new tools but he also should know when a project at home requires a more experienced handy hand.

A man should know his limits. Not only where his tools and his home projects are concerned but in all things, a man should know when to say when.

A man should know sports. When you walk into an establishment with televisions, he should be checking the score of WHATEVER game is on. And he should play at least one sport, preferably a sport with some sort of contact but that is not an absolute must.

A man should know what makes his woman happy. He should know that her favorite candy is Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, that she loves to walk in the warm Spring rain and that sometimes she just needs a hug.

Speaking of hugs, a man should know how to give long, comforting hugs. A man should know the difference between a kiss on the forehead moment and a slow, sweet kiss moment--because there is a difference.

A man should know when it is time to take out the trash. He shouldn't have to be told. In fact, a man would save himself a lot of grief if he would learn the art of anticipation. A man should know how to anticipate.

This is not to say that a woman shouldn't know these things. Of course she could. But some things are just better when left to a man.
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Saturday, November 26, 2005

Part III: A Journey to the Beginning

I suppose a point is reached in every journey in which the people on that journey wish they could turn back the hands of time. They wish that they had never started the journey. They wish that they could go back in time to the day BEFORE they began said journey.

Today is that day for me.

You have to know when you begin a journey of this proportion that there will be unexpected surprises along the way. There may be some unpleasantness. "Things" will not always progress according to your perfect plan.

Again I say... Today is that day for me.

Today is the day when I wake up to a new identity.

This week, I received a letter and two emails from my birthmother. In the first communication, she reminded me that I am lucky to be here. And I know, being born 11 months prior to the legalization of abortion how lucky I really am. Before abortion was made legal adoption was relatively easy for couples who could not bear children biologically. Just over ten years after abortion was legalized, there were approximately 100 couples applying to adopt for every one baby born.

In the second communication, she encouraged me to ask questions. And I did. Who do I look like? Who is my father? The things that most adopted kids tend to wonder.

In the third communication she told me that I am probably tall like my father and that her side of the family is German, French, Dutch and Irish. If you KNOW me, you know what a shocking revelation this is. German, French, Irish and Dutch... ARE YOU KIDDING? I have spent the last 17 years of my life believing that I am ITALIAN and FRENCH on my mother's side and CHEROKEE on my father's side.

I am having a bit of an identity crisis, to be honest. I suppose this is normal. An uneasiness with which I am not familiar has come over me. But this is just the beginning of the journey. I am sure we haven't even gotten to the meat of it.

Thursday, November 17, 2005

Even though

We all have EVEN THOUGH situations in our lives. Some are healthier or more reasonable than others. Some are downright destructive and we shouldn't put up with them. An EVEN THOUGH situation is one in which you are willing to put up with the "cons" in order to benefit from the "pros."

You may not realize the weight of the EVEN THOUGH situation until you are presented with an opportunity to get out of it. Then, you are forced to weigh the pros and cons. This opportunity challenges you to decide if the pros are indeed so incredible that they make the cons bearable. And often you may find that the cons dramatically outweigh the pros or visa versa. So the decision to take the new opportunity is easy. On the other hand, discovering that there's a balance in the scale, that neither one outweighs the other can make the decision-making process excruciating.

Today I am faced with the possibility of having to weigh the pros and cons of an integral aspect of my every day life. Preliminary thoughts have nearly brought me to tears. There may be an opportunity for me to relieve some of my daily stress, caused by pettiness and the unrealistic perspective of others, but it would be at the expense of a level of comfort that I have never felt before. It would also mean less time with some people who have become very important to me in my daily life.

So I ponder. Can I survive the EVEN THOUGHS if I don't make a change? Or will my life be richer, fuller and more enjoyable if I make this change and leave all these EVEN THOUGHS behind?

Tuesday, November 15, 2005

Just RING dammit...

How many of you have stared impatiently at your phone, waiting for it to ring? How many of you have even demanded that it ring?

For the last 2 hours, I have carried my phone from room to room, setting it down briefly but then picking it up again, flipping it open and making sure I didn't SOMEHOW miss the call. I've held it firmly in my hand and squeezed it as if a little pain would encourage it to DO ITS JOB. I've shaken it. I have changed the ringer twice and turned up the volume. I have done everything in my power to make that phone ring except call it myself. And, nothing...

Just RING dammit!

You see, I waited 2 months for this call. And when the phone rang two hours ago, I didn't pick it up. And the caller, the person I have wanted to hear from for two months, didn't leave a message. So, rather than calling the number back and PRETENDING not to know it's him, I am waiting for him to call again.

I could be waiting another 2 months. I know. You don't have to tell me. But I can't bring myself to call. If he wanted to talk to me, he would have left a message. He would have left a message and given me his number and asked me to call him back. And since he didn't leave a message, I can only assume one of three things:

1. He really doesn't want to talk to me that badly.
2. He isn't a message-leaver and he will call back.
3. He is as much of a chicken as I am... and he is never calling back...

This phone might not make it through the night.

A White Horse and Glass Slippers

Fairy tale endings don't happen to everyone. In fact, you may think they don't happen to anyone. That is, afterall, why they are called FAIRY TALE ENDINGS, right?

I submit to you that perhaps art does indeed imitate life. How is it that one mind could imagine such fantastic endings if they have never happened before? And if the mind is capable, as we have seen in the sciences, of imagining the unimaginable; of creating an existence that has ceased to exist previously; of authoring an ideal that is contrary to reality... then maybe life imitates art.

Either way, I have decided that I want a fairy tale ending. Secretly, I think all girls want one. I want something unexpected, spontaneous, surprising. I am not easily surprised but that's how fairy tales work. And I think if a guy is able to surprise me then I will know he is worth the work. And I will know he is willing to do his share of the work too.

The unexpected, spontaneous fairy tale ending happens in the movies all the time. And sometimes it's just a spontaneous ending. You could see it coming a mile a way. But it is always good and sweet and wonderful just like a fairy tale, without the white horse or the glass slippers. I want one of those endings.

Oh Michele, you silly girl, that only happens in the movies or in fairy tales. And you, Michele... You are just not that girl. The good and sweet and wonderful doesn't happen to girls like you.

Maybe. Or maybe not. A girl's gotta dream right? And at ALMOST 35, I might as well dream big. I might even start wishing for that white horse and the glass slippers.

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

Part II: A Journey to the Beginning

The call finally came. The red message light flashed LOUDLY on my phone. I couldn’t help but notice it when I got home from work last night.

“Michele, we have the information you’ve been looking for,” said a soft-spoken lady.

Just a phone call … Nine digits, a few rings and a sweet hello away… The first big step in the next part of my journey… It had taken longer than expected but only by two weeks. And once I summoned the courage to lift the phone from the counter, I would know my birthmother’s name.

Kicking off my shoes, I went in the kitchen and pulled Lean Cuisine pizza out of the freezer and popped it in the microwave. Then I changed into my volleyball clothes. And while the pizza cooked, I gathered up pen and paper and I dialed the phone.

Five minutes later, I had the answer to a question I had been silently asking for at least 30 years. What is her name? She shares my sister’s name, coincidentally. Her name is Denise. Maybe that was God’s plan for giving her a bit of an advantage with me. You know how it is when you meet someone for the first time that has the same name as someone you don’t really like very much? Well, she doesn’t have that working against her. You all know how much I love my sister. I hope this new Denise is half as good as the one I’ve already got I my life because that would make her a pretty good person.

So it has been roughly 24 hours since I wrote her name and address and phone number on a piece of paper. But I haven’t gone any further.

Over the last 15 years, I have weighed the impact that one phone call or email or meeting could have on a multitude of lives. I know life as I know it will be over the minute I hear her say my name or the moment I set eyes on her. Because then there will be a connection that never existed before… not for ME, anyway. I need time to soak this in. I need a moment to take a deep breath.
Maybe tomorrow…

Thursday, October 27, 2005

The Invitation

The following are the words of the Native American Elder, Oriah Mountain Dreamer. Sometimes, the words of another better describe your own feelings than your own words ever could. So this elder's words demonstrate how I feel...

The Invitation

It doesn't interest me what you do for a living. I want to know what you ache for, and if you dare to dream of meeting in your heart's longing.
It doesn't interest me how old you are. I want to know if you will risk looking like a fool for love, for your dreams, for the adventure of being alive.
It doesn't interest me what planets are squaring your moon. I want to know if you have touched the center of your own sorrow, if you have been opened by life's betrayals or have become shriveled and closed from fear of further pain. I want to know if you can sit in pain, mine or your own, without moving to hide it or fade it or fix it.
I want to know if you can be with joy, mine or your own,if you can dance with wildness and let the ecstasy fill you to the tip of your fingers and toes without cautioning us to be careful, be realistic, or to remember the limitations of being human.
It doesn't interest me if the story you're telling me is true. I want to know if you can disappoint another to be true to yourself; if you can bear the accusation of betrayal and not betray your own soul.
I want to know if you can be faithful and therefore be trustworthy.
I want to know if you can see beauty even when it is not pretty every day, and if you can source your life from God's presence.
I want to know if you can live with failure, yours and mine, and still stand on the edge of a lake and shout to the silver of the full moon, "Yes!"
It doesn't interest me to know where you live or how much money you have. I want to know if you can get up after the night of grief and despair, weary and bruised to the bone, and do what needs to be done for the children.
It doesn't interest me who you are, how you came to be here. I want to know if you will stand in the center of the fire with me and not shrink back.
It doesn't interest me where or what or with whom you have studied. I want to know what sustains you from the inside when all else falls away. I want to know if you can be alone with yourself, and if you truly like the company you keep in the empty moments.

Tuesday, October 25, 2005

A Journey to the Beginning...

No matter the circumstance or situation or the life into which you are thrust, an adopted child always wonders. You wonder about your beginning. How did you come to be? Perhaps your beginning was sweet and innocent. Perhaps it was violent, or painful or poverty-stricken. No matter. An adopted child always wonders.

Even if you end up living a charmed life, a life in which you wanted for nothing, you were showered with love and you had the best life had to offer… an adopted child always wonders. You wonder what is missing. Not that you feel a void of any kind but you wonder what your other life had or didn’t have. You wonder why it is that God chose to pluck you from the previous option and drop you into your current family. And you wonder why all of the people who were there for your beginning allowed God to choose you, to pluck you out and to drop you in the arms of strangers. Even when life is good, an adopted child always wonders.

For each of us the topic of our wondering varies. And in different life stages, the topic of our wondering changes. At times the wondering just involves stuff and in other moments you wonder about the character of the people who gave you up. Would I have MORE or LESS if I grew up in that other family? Would my parents be nicer or stricter or more generous with their time? Most often, for me I wondered whom I look like? Do I look like them? Why am I so fat? Why do my eyes change color when I am sad or worried? As you get older, the wondering turns toward medical issues. Is there a history of x, y or z in my birth family? Do they die young? Do they age well?

At 6 weeks old, my mom and dad held me for the first time. And I left behind all of the information and the history that causes my wondering today. My family is amazing. I can’t imagine growing up in any other circumstances. I am who I am because of my family and my circumstance and my situation. Often, I think that I needed to grow up in this family to become accepting of the differences in the people around me because, quite frankly, I am very different from the rest of my relatives. My life has not been easy and it is certainly not charmed. But, I wouldn’t even trade the hard times. I believe God knew where I needed to grow up to become the woman I am today.

All that said, I still wonder.

Thirteen years ago, my birthmother expressed an interest in meeting me. And I said no. Today, I will learn her name for the first time. And I will be given the opportunity to meet her in the next few weeks. I will take a journey back to my beginning.

And all the wondering will stop.

Thursday, October 20, 2005

The End of an Era

As the final strike was called and the flash of thousands of cameras lit up the stadium, the St. Louis Cardinals run at a World Series Championship came to an abrupt halt on Wednesday night, October 19th, 2005. That single instance also symbolized the end of the life of Busch Stadium as well as the closing of a long and eventful chapter of my life.

Bundled in my warmest coat with hat and gloves in tow, I remember grabbing hold of my dad's hand and maneuvering the crowds at Busch Stadium as a little girl. Every now and then we braved the cold weather and the rowdy crowds at a St. Louis Cardinals football game. So it was at a very early age that my relationship with Busch Stadium began.

But it is not my relationship with the building that resides closest to my heart. It is the relationships developed within that building and the evolution of relationships over this period of time that touch me deeply and resonate in my mind as this era ends.

Seven years ago, I began attending St. Louis Cardinal baseball games regularly with my closest friends. Over the first couple of years, on our seating tour of Busch, we sat high and low, in the outfield and the infield. Eventually, we found friends in the right field bleachers. And within a couple of years, two of us became season ticket holders.

We spent the next five years cultivating relationships with other Cardinal fans. They started with a beer at the game or a tailgate party or a few drinks on a Friday night. We traveled together, shared our families and friends with one another, celebrated birthdays and births and the other joys of life. And in turn, we shouldered sorrows for one another, bore the burdens of our baseball-loving friends and shared the pains of life. Traditions formed in our corner of Busch stadium. No standing in the 9th inning, for example, until there are 2 outs and 2 strikes. Standing before then was bound to encourage a batter to walk or knock a base hit up the middle. And only entering the women's restroom through the OUT door. Silly perhaps, but tradition nonetheless... After long road trips or even a winter without ball games, the thought of gathering once again in section 509 was exciting. I couldn't wait to see who was back, to meet the new people and to begin another year.

Over the course of those relationships and the last five years at Busch, life goes on outside as well. But because we are there so often, our worlds tend to collide. In this time, I've started a new job twice, moved once, bought two cars and started a small painting business. I've ended two relationships, lost a child, and gained a brother-in-law and a nephew. I've said goodbye to an aunt who I knew for a relatively short while and an uncle, my Godfather, whom I loved dearly. Two of my best friends married each other and I became a Godmother two more times. That's just a snippet of my journey to this point. And at one moment or another, each of these experiences spilled over into my life as a Cardinal season ticket holder at Busch Stadium.

The collision of worlds brings you closer to the ones you spend so much time with in the seats. The collision of the worlds makes you feel closer to the players on your team, whether it's because they are dealing with the same issues as you or just because you are acutely aware that somewhere, they've got life outside of Busch as well.

I remember when Darryl Kile died. I was touring Graceland in Memphis with three friends when I got the call. Emotions overwhelmed me. The rest of the weekend was spent worrying how his family and his team was handling the loss and wondering what we could do to make it better. Soon after I sat in Busch stadium twice on sunny afternoons bidding farewell to fallen Cardinals, Darryl Kile and Jack Buck. The intensity of the emotion came not just because of the sudden loss or the fact that I was a fan. It came because I had allowed my life into Busch and the world of Busch into my life.

So while the relationships, for the most part, will not end when the last bit of Busch comes crashing to the ground and the memories will not be hauled away... As this season comes to a close and this era comes to an end, so I turn the page on this chapter of my life.

What a rush of emotions! And the fear that follows... What's next? Another year. The possibilities are endless. I hope the next chapter causes this book to bulge at the seams.

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

The “Other-Reasons” Rule

A few years back, I remember hearing someone say that before you assume that someone is angry with you, you should think of 12 other reasons why that person could be angry. In doing so, you remove the tension from a situation and you are better able to approach that angry person without a big chip on your own shoulder.

I like the “Other-Reasons” rule. And I think it’s applicable in many situations. There have to be at least 12 Other Reasons for a lot of things. And if not 12 reasons, then at least 3.

For example, there must be 3 other reasons why the girl at the next table just snarled in your direction. Perhaps the shot she just did with her 6 drunken friends had a sweet and sour punch for which she was not prepared. Or maybe her thong reached new depths as she wriggled up onto her chair. Or it could be possible that she is just a miserable, unhappy human being. Chances are it has nothing to do with you. So, before you confront her, think of 3 other reasons why she just snarled in your direction.

It is entirely possible that there are at least 3 other reasons why the bagger at the grocery store continues to smash your bread when he bags your groceries. It very well could be that you are an ungrateful, impolite shopper who deserves smashed bread. Or that the little bagger enjoys irritating you. But the reason may also be that the bagger is distracted by his struggle to meet his parents’ approval and your bread is the last thing on his mind. Or maybe the store owner is a little tight in the wallet and isn’t paying that bagger squat. And, perhaps that bagger lacks training. It is altogether possible that the smashed bread has nothing to do with you.

There are probably 101 reasons why the guy you like doesn’t like you back so we won’t get into all of them. I don’t feel fully prepared to dissect the psychosis of the male mind anyway. But it may have NOTHING to do with you. You are after all an intelligent, funny, talented woman. Everybody loves you. So don’t listen to others who tell you he is out of your league. Maybe he is blind… IT’S POSSIBLE. Or maybe he is incapable of recognizing a good thing when he sees it; he’s a glutton for punishment who prefers women who sponge off of him and treat him like crap. And it could be that he’s just an idiot. (I realize that in this example I used the OBVIOUS reasons but I wanted to bring this idea to a more simplistic and obvious level.)

Again, there is a moral to this story. And I think the moral is more than just: We should give others the benefit of the doubt. While the idea of the “Other-Reasons” Rule is simple, the moral is a bit more complicated. It is three-fold. One, GIVE OTHERS THE BENEFIT OF THE DOUBT. Two, THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK OR ACT. And, three, IT’S NOT ALWAYS ABOUT YOU.

Wednesday, October 12, 2005

The Snoring Downstairs

My apartment is a hole. I live there because it was ridiculously cheap when I moved in, it is in a very diverse area of the city (which I love) and the landlord's agreed to let me paint and decorate any way I wanted. But underneath all of my cute stuff, the place needs a lot of work.

My building is not insulated and the walls and floors are thin. The windows rattle horribly when the wind blows and the hardwood floors are peeling. It's a hole. But it is my hole... for now.

Through my thin floors, I have the pleasure of hearing the nightly chorus of my neighbors snoring in the apartment downstairs. Some nights they don't get really revved up until 1 or 2 AM. Other times, it's 3 or 4 AM before their nasal synchronization begins.

In just over three years, I have moved my bed 4 times, in an effort to escape this early morning entertainment and to reclaim my much-needed sleep. No such luck. The deep-throated gagging and coughing accompanied by the snorting, gasping, wheezing and other sounds apparently reaches every corner of my bedroom. There IS NO ESCAPING!

A prisoner in my own home... Tortured nightly by the snoring downstairs...

Sunday, October 09, 2005

Facing the Truth

At some point in your life you have been told or you have heard the phrase, "if you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all." But there are some situations in which what you have to say is simply not nice. Yet, it needs to be said.

And it is in those situations when another phrase comes to mind... "The truth hurts."

I am not referring to the moments when you cannot resist the temptation to bad-mouth someone that you are less than fond of or the times when your inner fashionista forces you to comment on the inability of others to put together an acceptable outfit. While both of those situations may indeed be truth, those aren't the truths that come with difficulty. They are easy.

The truths that hurt are tough. They don't come easy. They are the truths that, if you grow up in a family like mine, you sweep under the rug and pretend they don't exist. They are the truths that sometimes take years to admit. They are the truths that though they hurt, they open the door to resolution in your life, healing if that's what's needed and freedom too.

Tonight, I don't really have anything nice to say. There are no funny anecdotes that come to mind. I have spent an entire weekend dealing with my truths. An emotional "time of the month" did not provoke this weekend. Just the course of life.

Busy-ness often prevents me from having to face my truths. But this weekend, amidst my busy-ness, the truths forged their way to the forefront of my days. Around every corner, they lurked. Harassing me with no end in sight, demanding my attention.

There are a lot of truths on the pages of this site. My life, for the most part is an open book. But even I have secrets. Anyone who knows me knows that I never let anyone in completely. I do a pretty good job of keeping people in the safety zone. Maybe too good of a job.

I know now that my truths are not just going to go away. Thanks to my amazing ability to live life alone, I have to do this on my own. And hopefully, the truth will set me free.

Wednesday, October 05, 2005

"You mustn't mess me about..."

Being a big girl isn't easy. Any big girl can tell you that.

Usually you don't come to the realization of your bigness on your own. Someone else or maybe a group of others helps you along. And for many girls of the FAT persuasion, that reality is soon followed by a diligent effort to build up a fort of trustlessness. Walls designed to keep out the evil fat-girl-haters and that can only be penetrated by a handful of family members or friends who love you EVEN THOUGH.

34 years into my big fat life, comments about my size still hurt my feelings. Even implications that I am large is a pretty big blow. Recently, I got into an argument with a guy because he said, "You could probably kick my ass." I lost it. Why would he say something like that? Perhaps he said it because he could see the muscles in my arms bulging through my shirt or because I appear to be athletic and agile. No, no... He said it because I am a big girl and as you know ALL big girls can kick ass... Right?

In another recent incident, a co-worker of mine commented that I "look better when [I] wear [my] clothes looser." As opposed to when they are just too damn tight? I am sure she had the best of intentions. She just wanted me to know I looked nice that day... Right?

dispelling common beliefs about big girls could be a lifelong campaign. And I don't know that I'll ever reach enough people to wage that war. But right here, in my small corner of the world, I will say this: Having more of one thing doesn't mean you have less of anything else. The extra weight has not taken the place of feelings and sensitivities. And contrary to what you may have heard, the added pounds are not accompanied by thicker skin.

Although for years we big girls have laughed it off, looked the other way, pretended like it doesn't really matter... It is not funny. We look the other way because it's too painful to listen. And yes, it REALLY DOES matter.

I think Bennie in the movie CIRCLE OF FRIENDS said it best when she said, "You mustn't mess me about. I know I may look like a rhinoceros but I've got quite a thin skin really."

Play to Your Potential

As early as I can remember, my parents encouraged my sister and I to love sports. As a little girl, I remember bundling up in warm clothes and heading out to a St. Louis Cardinals football game at Busch stadium. And in the summer, my mom would take me out to the basketball hoop in the alley and play "HORSE" with me. Needless to say sports became an integral part of my life and through my participation in sports all the way through college, I learned a lot about life. Some things that I would like to forget but others that I carry with me to this day.

One of those lessons had to do with playing to your potential. When two teams go head to head in competition, one of them is responsible for setting the tempo of the game. Often times, the better team will play down to the potential of their opponent. And other times, the underdog will play up to the potential of the better team. Playing great teams makes you play better, makes you try harder, increases your motivation almost ten-fold.

Just as teams tend to allow other teams to set the tempo of their game, so we allow others to set the tempo of our lives. I think that our real life tempo is set by the people with whom we surround ourselves.

My mom always used to say "you are who your friends are." And I believe there is a lot of truth in that. After spending enough time with people, your similarities or the things that brought you together become more pronounced in your life. The good that they bring forth in you becomes more prominent and maybe the bad does too. If your friends are kind and generous people, how can you not be? And if your friends are liars and cheats... how can you not be?

I would like to believe that throughout my life, my friends past and present have made me a better person. Each and every one of them has brought out a little bit of good in me. And I do mean EACH AND EVERY one. Perhaps it's the optimist in me. Perhaps it is the intense desire to continually see the best in others. Or maybe it is vanity and my refusal to believe that I have made bad choices when picking my friends. Whatever it is, I will continue to strive to set my own tempo and to surround myself with people who will help me play up to a greater potential.

Sunday, October 02, 2005


In June of 1984, Bruce Springsteen released Born in the U.S.A. The famous album cover offered up a picture of Bruce's incredible backside in a pair of nice-fitting blue jeans with the red and white stripes of the American flag in the background. Born in the U.S.A. was the first cassette tape that I bought. And Bruce Springsteen, his style and his music provoked my first really big crush on a guy.

Of course I had many little girl crushes before. When I was 5, I thought Terry Banholzer was better that an ice cold bomb pop on a hot summer day. And by second grade, I wanted to marry the boy with the pretty eyes and the big curls of brown hair. And eventually, I "loved" every member of the 1985 St. Louis Cardinals at one time or another. What pair of best friends didn't fantasize about growing up to marry Keith Hernandez and Tommy Herr?

But the gymnasium supervisor who worked my volleyball practices triggered the biggest crush I have ever had. He wore his jeans just like Bruce Springsteen and sometimes he wore a red bandana on his head. He was so cute. A simple hello or a grin from him made me blush with nervousness. While I loved my volleyball, the conversations with my friend Diane on the way home from practice revolved soley around Tom. I looked forward to seeing him at practice or at church on Sunday. Crushing on Tom made me happy, at times giddy. It added excitement to my young life.

Crushes are a part of growing up. They ARE fun and exciting and sometimes disappointing. Even after Tom rode off into the sunset in his red VW, there were more crushes.

But like so many other things in life, there's nothing quite like the first.

Saturday, October 01, 2005


Do you think I am sharing TOO MUCH of my life on the internet?
No, definitely not.
Maybe a little too much.
I think it is CRAZY how much you share! I would never do it.
Free polls from

Monday, September 26, 2005

Sausage on the Street Corner

Over the weekend, my friend Cindy and I decided to drive 6 hours to Milwaukee and spend 48 hours going to baseball games, drinking a few adult beverages and dancing with "boys."

When you spontaneously depart on a whirlwind trip such as this, you don't normally choose Milwaukee, WI as an ideal location. But I'd like to think that my friends and I could pick up our party and take it to any city and have a good time. And that is just what Cindy and I did.

Sometimes a girl's just gotta get away for a day or two. You've gotta turn off the news and put away your work and go somewhere. Anywhere. You've gotta throw caution to the wind. It does a girl good to escape. Even if that escape is truthfully less than 48 hours in Milwaukee, WI. Because escape can bring relaxation and discovery and fun.

My time away brought a lot of discovery. Little things. But in the big picture, I believe each tiny discovery speaks volumes about me. I will let you interpret for yourself. Afterall, I spent all weekend doing the discovering.

With the state of the world and our country being what it is, with so much tragedy and pain striking wihtout warning, what used to be a simple road trip weighs a bit heavier on my mind. During the 6-hour trip, I thought numerous times, "What if something happens while I am gone and I can't get to my family?" I don't ever remember thinking that before in my life.

I now know for certain that there are two things in life that should always be red: Barns and Fire Engines.

If you talk to enough people, you will eventually meet a bull rider.

Compliments go a LONG way and everybody needs them. Even the 6'4" gorgeous guy from the east coast who is a Boston Red Sox fan.

Women are moving to a place where it's ok to talk and make new friends. Life isn't always a competition. And most of the time you meet standing in line for the bathroom.

Sometimes the guy you think you are the least attracted to is the guy who makes your stomach flutter and your knees weak.

You should never be as mean to someone else as they have been to you. In the end, getting revenge won't make you feel any better. It is much more satisfying to walk away with your head held high. Nobody else will know what just happened. But that mean person will and will probably think about it ALL NIGHT LONG. That's revenge enough.

New shoes should be cute AND COMFORTABLE. And they sure as hell should NOT gouge a hole out of your heel. But, if they do, a few beers will make it less noticeable.

Finally, when you leave a bar late at night and you are hungry, there is no better discovery than a Sausage Stand on the corner. A big, ol' Italian sausage and a can of soda make the walk back to your hotel a rewarding and pleasant experience. Especially when you are carrying your new and UNcomfortable shoes in your arms...

Tuesday, September 20, 2005


From the moment of his conception, even before we knew he would be a HE, Kirk has been the love of my life. He is a mighty ball of energy, of joy and unending fun. He beat the odds to get here and some how, deep inside his 3-year-old being, he seems to know that. And already he savors life, taking advantage of his every waking moment and believing, much like his aunt Michele, that there will always be time to sleep... LATER.

Because my sister's story is not mine to tell, I won't. I will simply say that for over ten years, she has battled Bi-Polar disorder. And, from an outsider's perspective, it is a disease that seems to me to be more of a demon at times than a sickness. I have watched as it has attempted to rob me of my only sister and I have stood by as it has stolen precious time with her. So when she got pregnant, our excitement was quickly replaced by worry and fear that once again this ugly creature would march boldy into our lives to claim not only my sister but also the life she held inside of her. And it did march in. Boldy and fiercely. And we fought tooth and nail. We all did. Each of us in our own way. And while we fought, Kirk sat back and waited patiently for his time to come. But through the 9 months, Kirk and I became very close. We chatted a lot. I loved feeling him move inside my sister's growing belly. And it seemed he recognized the sound of my laughter because he turned flips in response.

On July 8th, 2002, Kirk was born. He did not come without complications of his own, needing surgery just hours after his birth. And he spent some time in the NICU before he was allowed to come home. But I visited him daily, holding him and singing a song or two while we rocked in the rocking chair.

While I already adored him, it was his reaction when I entered a room that sealed the deal for me. His big, wide, toothless smile eventually became a cry of "AUNTIE SHEL!" I think it was the first time I heard those words that I became certifiably addicted to my nephew.

I have never known love like the love I have for this child nor like the love I get from him. In fact I never really thought it was possible to feel this way. I would do anything for him and most days I think he would for me too.

At three, he is a big fan of Scooby Doo. So his pet name for me is now Daphne. And depending on the day, he is either Fred or Scooby. He calls me on the phone at least every other day. If I am not home he leaves a message saying, "Please call me back." The other day, we were stuck in traffic and sweetly he said, "Aunt Michele are you mad at me?" I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time. I said, "No Kirk, I am just frustrated with the traffic." And he started saying, "C'mon traffic! Move!" (Anything to make his auntie happy again, I suppose.)

He loves the color orange. Hence the type here. And he just started pre-school but already this morning he told his mom that he was "just too tired to go to school." He loves to help my mom cook and he's a pretty good baker already. He made me a very special cupcake the other day. I am not sure what the special part was supposed to be but in this case, it was definitely the thought that counted.

Kirk is a huge fan of TOY STORY. He quotes the movie all the time. When he isn't watching his favorite movie, he loves to go to the ballpark to take in a Cardinals game. Last week he and I caught a game with my dad. On the way to the stadium from the car, he said, "I see my stadium, Aunt Michele!" Every experience with him is bigger than life. The little moments are magnified into the great experiences they are meant to be.

Today he met me at work at 5 o'clock. I had spent the entire day wondering if I was going to get in trouble or get fired or who knows what. And when I stepped off of the elevator, I saw him standing in the lobby with my mom.

"Hi, buddy," I said.

Kirk caught sight of me. Then, racing through the small group of people who were leaving in front of me, Kirk made his way to me, jumped into my arms, wrapped his skinny little arms around my neck and squeezed as tight as he could.

That must have been my reward for getting through the day.

But there's one thing I know for sure today. And that is that whether I am coming out of work after a long day or dragging myself out of the gutter, that little boy loves me. And I love him.

More than a page full of orange words could ever possible say.

(I love you, buddy.)

Suspicious Compliments

A kind word goes a long way. Sometimes a kind word can hep you get through a day you never   intended to survive. A kind word can rescue you from the depths of depression or remind you, in the midst of overwhelming self doubt, that there is some good deep inside of you. A simple compliment can lift you up out of the muck and mire of self-loathing. In plain words, hearing that your hair looks great can help you forget how fat you feel in your pants. Or knowing that someone else recognizes your hard work and appreciates your job well done encourages you to stop beating yourself up over minor mistakes.

For some, however, a compliment raises suspicion.

Perhaps I am a victim of my experiences. Maybe it's my distinct inability to trust. Or it could be that I just don't believe I am good enough. But I don't take a compliment well.

God has blessed me with the gift of song. So in my singing life, I know that I am good. And when a compliment comes my way following a performance, I am thankful and I respond as such. But if the compliment is too strong, I wonder if the giver is just trying to make me feel good. Or if they just want me to THINK that they think I am good. And there are times when the source of the compliments causes me to question the motive for the offering.

In my work life, the compliments come few and far between. I have often been the target of almost slanderous accusations and petty reprimands. Management has repeatedly bashed my personality and suggested that I amend who I am to blend in a little better with the multitudes. So on the rare occasion that a kind word is cast my way, I am left to question, "am I being set up?" That may seem silly. You are thinking I should just take what I can get, right? Consider this: when you are told over and over that you are not good enough, that you are not a good fit, that you are a trouble maker... You begin to expect to hear that. And on the day when you are suddenly the hero, suddenly good enough, suddenly the chemistry is right, why would you believe that?

Where my personal life is concerned, there is even more psychosis with which to deal. As you know, I am a big girl. Everyone from my classmates to the movies to that horrible woman Janice Dickinson (the "world's first supermodel") made sure that I knew every step of my way through life that I am fat. Hell, by Janice's standards, anyone bigger than a size 3 is fat. But my mom and dad have always told me that they think I am pretty. Even in my fattest moments my mom was sure to tell me, "Michele you have such a pretty face." But you're parents HAVE to say your beautiful. How many times have you looked at a really ugly baby for the first time and heard the parents say, "isn't he just adorable?" Point made.

These days, I get most of my compliments from women. "You have such pretty hair." "I wish I had your lips. " And I get a good share from my married or unavailable guy friends who really only love me because I can talk sports with them and cook 'em a good meal at the same time. But when I get a compliment from a man or when a guy shows interest in me, my walls go up instantly. Why would he be interested in me? Is he hitting on me because he thinks fat girls are desperate? He must be testing his good stuff on me until something better comes along...

I don't intend to demean the power of a compliment. Words are intensely powerful. And they should be treated as such. And they should be accompained by actions that demonstrate their sincerity. Say what you mean. Mean what you say. And don't be afraid to back up your powerful statements with a mighty action to drive the point home.

To the complimentors: I implore you to pepper your days with compliments. Pass them out to family and friends and co-workers. Send a kind word the way of a stranger or the mailman or the cashier at the gas station that you visit every Thursday morning. Offer a smile or a gentle nod to the driver in the car next to you in traffic. Send signals of kindness into the atmosphere. Create an environment in which everyone who comes in contact with you CAN receive your compliments. Build bridges. Don't burn them. Choose your words wisely. Ponder before you speak. Know that everyone gives and receives differently so when the response you get is not the one you wanted, don't give up on the giving. Try again tomorrow.

To the complimentees: Receive kind words with grace and humility. Savor them for a moment but don't revel in them. Pay it forward.

And to the ones who are like me: Step out of your comfort zone or your uncomfortable zone, whichever it may be. And know that for every one that might be worthy of your suspicion, there are many kind words of which you are deserving. If you try to believe, so will I.

Thursday, September 08, 2005

Waiting to be Found

Life does not seek you out.
Opportunity, contrary to the old cliche, does not come knocking at your door.
There IS some truth to the idea that you have to be in the right place at the right time for certain situations to work in your favor.

So, while I am well aware that you have to encourage opportunity by putting yourself in situations where life can easily find you... there is a really big part of me that is just waiting to be found.

I waiver back and forth from being content with my life as a single woman and wanting to find a life partner. The single girl in me laments the sacrifices necessary for cultivating a successful life-long relationship. And to a certain degree, that same single girl struggles to believe that somewhere out there is a man who could be crazy about me. I can't imagine someone loving me. And it's that thinking that makes it easy to foresee a lifetime of singleness.

On the other hand, somewhere deep inside is that little girl still hanging on to her fairy tale dream of being swept up by the man of her dreams, marrying him and having a house full of kids. She thinks she's pretty enough and smart enough and gifted enough. That girl still believes she is worthy of unimagineable love.

And it's the romantic in me that is just waiting to be found. I don't want to seek it out. I don't believe that is our job as women. I believe men should do the work. From the moment he sets eyes on you and feels whatever it is that he feels that tells him you are the one... He should pursue you. He should prove that he wants you, that he needs you, that he can't take another breath without having you by his side. You should feel comforted but not overwhelmed by his need to have you in his life and there should never be a doubt in your mind that when you need him, he will be there. And the proof should be in his actions.

There's a story in a book I read recently about a female bartender. She was working one night and one of her customers asked her out. She laughed heartily as she leaned over the bar and said, "Do you know how many guys ask for my number and never call?"

The guy felt a bit beat down but straightened himself on his barstool and leaned in. "Come on," he said, "I really want to take you out. If you give me your number, I will call."

The bartender shrugged him off. "Yeah right," she said.

But the guy persisted throughout the night. Finally, as she wiped down the bar for the final time, the bartender stopped and offered, "I'll tell you what... My name is Janie Jones. I am listed in the phone book."

The next day, that guy called all eight Janie Joneses in the book until he found that bartender.

He did whatever it took. He saw something in her that drove him to pursue her. It thrust him into action. And he didn't let her down.

For the record, I am easy to find. I'm in the book. I have had the same cell phone number for almost 10 years. (How many people can say that?) When I sing at events around the country, they announce my name and most of the time they post it on the jumbotron. I am loud, most of the time. If I meet you in a grocery line, I will talk to you. So, I know a lot of people. Chances are that if you want to meet me, you probably know someone who knows me already. At the most, we are separated by only three degrees. What I am saying is if someone wanted to find me, he could. It would be a simple task.

Sadly, there doesn't seem to be a search party out trying to find me at this time. In fact, noone has ever searched. Not to my knowledge anyway. I am not an ugly girl. So, it isn't altogether unfathomable that someone might have serached at one time or another. Perhaps I am just unaware. Oh who am I kidding? My parents have lived in the same house for 37 years. If you WANT to find me, you can.

What's even more sad? Well, more sad would be that I have even dropped hints, given guys clues about how they could find me if they wanted to once I was gone. I realize men don't take hints. The word HINT is not even a part of their vocabulary except when they are asking, "Was that supposed to be a hint?" But in attempt to alter fate, I have tossed out some bread crumbs, hoping a guy I liked would follow the trail to my house.

Don't feel sorry for me though. Perhaps being found is not in the cards for me. Maybe I am meant to be single. But if I am not and there's a guy on his way, I am confident that I will know he's the one. Because he will be the one who just shows up. He will be the one with the great story about what he had to do to get here. And he will be the one with bread crumbs on his shirt.

You are here for a reason

You are here for a reason.

I am a firm believer in fate, in pre-destination, in the idea that from the moment you were conceived there was a plan for your life. I believe that your beginning, your middle and your end were mapped out by God. He anticipates a need that will come about in the world, designs a plan to conquer that need and creates a person to implement that plan. You are born into the time in which you can most effectively fulfill your purpose. And, yes, you are born with a purpose in mind. God doesn't waste his time creating beings who will waste space in the universe.

That said, I also believe in free will, in your right to choose, your ability to shift the plan for which your life was designed. When you come to a fork in the road of life, it is up to you whether you will stay to the left or stay to the right. And based on those decisions, the map is altered, the plan changes slightly. But the purpose stays the same.

You are here for a reason.

For some, I believe, that reason is simply to help others get through. Those people are the ushers, the tour guides, the chauffers of life. They serve up advice in times of need, offer guidance in times of confusion and pour out encouragement in times of doubt.

For others, picking up the pieces and putting life's puzzles back together is the purpose. They are the strong, the courageous, the brave, the wise. They donate their knowledge to family, friends, co-workers, the man on the street. They are mighty and clear-thinking in times of crisis, helping others to sift through desperation to reach the core of the situation and develop resolution. They are the huggers with big shoulders to harbor many tears. They are the comforters.

There are some who've been sent to set an example. Their path may be short or their road may be long. But they travel through life demonstrating the wonders of the simple things. Reminding us to gaze upon the stars that fill the black night sky, to drink in the sunshine on a hot summer day, to draw in the scents of a field filled with daisies... They are eternal hope. They implore others to appreciate family, home and a warm cup of coffee on a cold winter day.

I know that God wants me to contribute to the lives of others in various ways. People have often told me that my biggest weakness is that I have too many talents. But it's the Jane-of-all-trades that reaches many different people, that speaks to the masses. At any rate, I have the tools I need to fulfill my own purpose. And, in the process, along my rocky, crooked road, I am taking some time to mix it up a bit. There are moments when I think I have simply been sent to stir the pot a little. And I am.

I'm reaching into God's pot of people stew, gathering the differences in my great big ladle and stirring them into my life. Then I'm dishing it out to everyone I know in the hopes that eventually, we will all come together on one level or another.

Come on up to the table, grab yourself a bowl...

You are, afterall, here for a reason.

Friday, August 12, 2005

One Good Reason to be Nike Loyal

Nike has a new series of print ads out that big girls should love. Naturally, this campaign is aimed at the athletically built woman. However, the athletically built woman is often depicted as slim and trim and slender. I suppose that is an accurated depiction if she is a willowy contortionist. But many athletes have muscle and curves... This new ad campaign is amazing. Look for one of the ads in your next women's magazine.

My butt is big

and round like the letter C
and ten thousand lunges have made it rounder
but not smaller
and that's just fine
It's a space heater for my side of the bed
It's my ambassador to those who walk behind me
It's a border collie that herds skinny women
away from the best deals
At clothing sales
My butt is big and that's just fine
And those who might scorn it
Are invited to kiss it.
Just do it.

My legs

were once two hairy sticks
that weren't very good at jump rope
but by the time I reached the age of algebra
they had come into their own
and now in spin class
they are revered
envied for their strength
Honored for their beauty
hairless for the most part
except that place the razor misses
just behind the ankles
Just do it.

I have thunder thighs

and that's a compliment
because they are strong
and toned
and muscular
and though they are unwelcome
in the petite section
they are cheered on in marathons
fifty years from now I'll bounce a grandchild on my thunder thighs
and then I'll go out for a run
Just do it.

Monday, August 08, 2005

The Stamp on my Forehead

Hours have wasted away as I've stood before the mirror staring at my forehead trying desperately to see the message that must be clearly stamped there. Squinting my eyes, sighing deeply, taking a break and then starting up again... But I can't see it. Not even a trace of it. The words escape me. So I am left to imagine what the message must be with only my life experiences to help me decode the cryptic text.

For years, I imagined that the stamp on my head read: "If You're Poor, Broke, Old, or Lonely, I'm your girl." Every old and lonely or young and unambitious guy that crossed my path tried to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. Homeless men would give me a shout out as I walked down the street. I thought, "Are you serious? Do I look like I wanna drag your tired butt out of the gutter and turn your life around?" Then I realized, it's not his fault... IT MUST BE the stamp on my forehead.

More than once I know my stamp has said, "I don't really know what I want, why don't YOU TELL ME what YOU THINK I want." Not that I have seen those words with my own eyes. But it seems like everywhere I go, guys are telling me what I want. "You like what you see, huh, baby?" "Oh, you know you want me." "Come on, you can't get better than this." Yes, my friends these are phrases that have parted the lips of men and fallen upon my delicate ears. Here is the creme de la creme: "You need a man like me... I've got a tongue like a lizard."

Not only has face to face contact with the male persuasion provided evidence for this particular stamp but I have also had proof from my online dating excursions. I don't know if they see it in the pictures I post or what! But guys can read my profile through and through and even if they don't meet my requirements, they contact me. The profile CLEARLY says looking for a male ages 28 to 38. (I realize I should probably go older but I am not 35 YET!) Why then, if you are 52, would you drop me a line to "see if we are a good fit." NO! We are not. You are 52! But it's not your fault. It's that damn stamp on my forehead. I also maintain a strict height requirement when dating online. I am 5'10" so a guy who is 5'6" is not going to work for me. So, my profile states that I "NEED A TALL MAN" and I would like someone over 6'. Yet, the vertically challenged types continue to clog my email trying to convince me that short men are better in bed or just as able to protect me and make me feel like a woman. That's all good and fine but what I really want is a tall man. Oh crap... that's right... my sign says that I don't know what I want. Thanks for trying to help me out.

The bottom line is that if they want you, they will pursue you. They just keep coming back, asking you out, reminding you that you were nice to them once so you MUST be interested.

Right now, my forehead must be boldly proclaiming, "DON'T EVEN THINK ABOUT IT." Because, quite frankly men won't come near me. Perhaps I am projecting my lack of desire to try any more. I put on my best bitch face every day before I leave. The optimism by which I have lived my life believing that everything happens in due time has been replaced with frustration and a burgeoning belief that men just don't listen, they don't really care what you want and they are each looking for the ideal woman who will fit perfectly into their little mind-manufactured molds.

Somebody pass me a scouring pad... I am going to hit the showers.

Thursday, July 07, 2005

A Few Good (Short) Men

Despite the reports and the grumbling of women everywhere, I firmly believe there are a few good men left in the world. I use the term "few" figuratively, not literally. There are surely more than THREE good men left on the planet Earth. And, of course, "GOOD" is relative to your own personal definition.

A good man, I believe, should be defined as a man who loves and respects people-not JUST his momma. A good man has goals in life and dreams and aspirations for his future. He is responsible but generous with his money and his time. He handles those around him with gentleness and care and concern. A good man has integrity. He is honest.

My dad is a good man, as are/were my uncles. My cousins are good men. They all have faults. They have made mistakes and haven't always made the wisest decisions. They aren't sinless men. But they are good men. And I find myself constantly measuring the men that I meet against the standards set by the men around whom I grew up. (In fact, if I'm really liking a guy, I will try to picture him sitting on the couch on Thanksgiving day between two of my cousins. If it isn't a good fit, I tend to rethink my position.)

Aside from family, I have a few male friends who definitely qualify as good men. My friends Alberto and Bracken are good men (&, incidentally are married to a couple of really good women--Kelley and Diane, respectively). My friend Paige's new husband, Andy, and my friend Christy's boyfriend, Dax, were early qualifiers for the good man category. I didn't have to know them long to know they are each a great catch. Each of the afore-mentioned men treats his woman like a queen. Of course I have never lived with any of them, but in public and amongst friends, each of these guys is proud to stand beside his girl. Each of them is respectful and courteous and loving.

Friends, I am CONVINCED there are more of this breed of men out there. Somewhere. I have met them in the grocery store, at the car wash, in the beer line at the baseball game, ONLINE in dating services. They are EVERYWHERE!

So what is the problem, Michele? Why haven't you snatched one up and made him your own? Why is that you are still single?

While these good men are indeed EVERYWHERE, they are all...


That's right. They are short. They are 5'7", 5'8"...

Under 5'10" usually qualifies as short but for a girl who is 5'10", anything under 6 feet tall is just too short.

My personal list of the qualities I would like to find in my man is only 12 items long. I have pared it down considerably from my younger years. But height is a really BIG deal for me (no pun intended). "Taller than me" is going to rest comfortably at #1 until Mr. Taller-Than-Me enters my life and sets up camp. There are enough opportunities in life for me to feel Amazon-like. I can go shopping for clothes or , quite frankly, just show up at a work function or stroll through a bar on a Friday night. Tall women are a rare commmodity unless you work for the WNBA.

I don't want to feel big when I with my man. Am I being petty? Maybe. Too picky? Perhaps.

But I think a man is a good man for all the reasons I have already mentioned and because he helps you feel like the woman you envision yourself to be.

I might be a big girl. And I am strong and independent and capable of anything. But I envision myself to be all that as well as someone who will allow herself to be cared for and protected and treated like a queen.

And, I envision myself standing next to someone who makes me look...

...just as short as the next gal.

Wednesday, June 29, 2005

Hip Huggers, Your TRUE Size

Hip huggers... The official definition is: Tight-fitting pants whose waistline rests at hip level. Last year, in Louisiana, legislators tried to make it illegal for teenagers to wear hip huggers. While I think hip hugger laws are slightly extreme, I do believe that certain people should not be allowed to wear pants whose waistline rests at hip level. And those are the people who cannot accept their own TRUE pants size.

Every woman is well aware that her hips are bigger than her waist. If you decide to forgo pants that fit at the waist and replace them with pants that rest at the hips, a bigger size is warranted. In other words if you want to wear hip huggers, GET A BIGGER SIZE.

There is an obvious need here for TWO awareness campaigns. The first would be a grass roots campaign to help people accept their true size. The second would be a campaign to help women realize that hip huggers should be purchased in at least one size bigger than other styles of pants.

There are at least 3, if not 103, reasons why TRUE SIZE REALIZATION and BUYING BIGGER PANTS are important to you, me and the rest of the world.

First of all, knowing your true size will save everyone a lot of unnecessary grief. If you are not a size 6, please don't try to wear a size 6. And, if you absolutely REFUSE to buy that size 16, then go on a diet. Please don't cram all of those hips into a size 12 and force the rest of us to look at the 16 pounds of flesh that is squishing through the empty space between the bottom of your too-short-shirt and the top of your too-tight-pants. Besides saving those around you from having to witness such a display, YOU WILL BE ABLE TO BREATHE. Knowing your true size is healthy for everyone.

Also on the health front, there have been medical reports showing that wearing pants that are too tight at the hipline is causing NERVE DAMAGE in young girls. Across the country, girls are showing up in their doctor's offices after months of tingling and the loss of feeling in their hips, groin and thighs. So, wearing the right size pants will insure that you will be able to feel it the next time you sit on a tack or the next time you have to go to the bathroom and it will help guarantee that, if you are old enough, you enjoy sex.

The third and final reason to know your true size, to accept your true size and to wear your true size is... you CAN look good in hip huggers. They are hot and they are fashionable. And, when worn right, they are sexy.

Thursday, June 23, 2005

Age Ain't Nothin" But A Number: Younger Men

You've probably heard the song by Alliyah. But you've probably never really listened to the words. Let me give you a taste.

Age ain't nothin' but a number
Throwin' down ain't nothin' but a thang (But a thang)
This lovin' I have for you
It'll never change

Take my hand and come with me
Let me show to ecstasy
Boy, be brave, don't be afraid
'Cause tonight we're gonna go all the way

Don't mean to be bold
But I gotta let you know
I gotta thing for you
And I can't let go, ooh, my

Age ain't nothin' but a number (No, no)
Throwin' down ain't nothin' but a thang
This lovin' I have for you
It'll never change (My age)

So, what do you think? Is it like Alliyah says? Is age just a number? Well, it depends on how old you are.

This past weekend, I met a guy. We'll call him Big (because I can't think up my own names--I have to borrow them from big TV shows on HBO). Big was hot. 6'6", 250 lbs., dark hair, great smile, smelled fabulous. He could dance. We liked the same music, were both preoccupied by Sportscenter on the TV over the bar, and we shared a talent for sarcastic comebacks. I liked how he looked and from the moment we started talking, I liked him too. After "knowing" him for a few hours, Big seemed to be a great guy. We were clicking on all cylinders when I found out... Big is 23 years old. Young stud...

When he was born, I was in 5th grade. And, when he started kindergarten, I was learning how to drive. By the time he got his license, I had gone to college, gotten kicked out and returned to finish my degree. He graduated from high school in 1999. TEN YEARS after I graduated. In 1999, I was in a relationship, working in corporate America, preparing to have my first child (that's a story for another time). Again, he was graduating from high school.

I was telling my mom about this amazing specimen of a man. She listened. Then she hung up without saying a word. A day later, she called me back and said, "Michele, don't let his age stop you." My mom proceeded to tell me that she had been on both sides. She was 18 years younger in one relationship and 8 years older in another. Of course she ended up with my dad who is 2 years younger and 2 inches shorter. (Dating shorter men goes against the very fiber of my being!)

None of this is really a life issue for me as we met on a trip to Memphis and we will probably never see each other again. (He's from Nevada; I'm from Missouri.) But it got me thinkin'. What if we had met here? Would his age be a problem for me or would mine be a problem for him? Or would we find that age ain't nothin' but a number?

Wednesday, June 08, 2005


My arms are SO incredibly fat . While dieting, if I could see a difference in these arms immediately, I would be so happy. They are almost unfit for viewing by others. They are close to offensive. I wore a sleeveless shirt to work yesterday, caught a glimpse of myself in the restroom after lunch and thought, "MY GOD WOMAN, stop being so unfair to your co-workers. They shouldn't have to look at that." I made a conscious effort the rest of the day to say hello and nod rather than waving. I didn't want to knock myself or anyone else out with a gust of arm flab flapping in the wind.

This FAT ARM REVELATION is not new to me. My arms have always been big but in college they were muscular. I think I realized they were disgustingly fat 2 years ago in Florida. My friend Cindy and I rented a convertible for our trip. We were making the 2 hour quest from Orlando to Hernando to see her dad. Letting the top down, we cranked up the radio and hit the road. In order to clock as much sun time as we could, we wore our tank tops and shorts for the ride.. We didn't want a two hour road trip to cut into our Florida sun time. It was afterall about 30 degrees back home in St. Louis.

Cindy drove and I relaxed in the passenger seat. I leaned back and propped my elbow up on the door, grasping the edge of the front window with my hand. And suddenly, I saw it. Like a flag whipping in the wind, my arm flab flapped back and forth. Horrifying! Not only to me but I am sure to everyone who sped past us. Just add this experience to the YOU KNOW YOU'RE FAT WHEN... file.

Thursday, May 12, 2005

Pretty Plus--the life of a big girl

"Excuse me, where are the PRETTY PLUS jeans?" my mom asked the Sears salesperson, a little too loudly.

Hanging my 12-year-old head, I followed sheepishly behind my mom as she pushed through racks of clothes to the back of the girls clothing department.

Pretty Plus Jeans. Jeans for the young girl who is pretty... AND A LITTLE MORE. She's pretty PLUS she's a little too big for the other jeans. She's pretty PLUS those few extra pounds that force her to shop in the BACK of the clothing department.

That's right, the back of the department. Move to the back, big girl! We are hiding your clothes back there in the corner where nobody else will have to look at them. We didn't want to put them on the aisle because we thought you would be embarrassed carousing through the racks of PRETTY PLUS clothes in front of passers-by.

Woe is me, right? Hell no! Since that slight twinge of embarrassment over 20 years ago, I have realized something. I AM A BIG GIRL. I am 5'10" and I weigh close to 200 lbs. and it ain't just big bones. Maybe big bones are a part of it. There is something in the chemical combination of a short and round Italian woman with a tall, lanky "injun" that naturally creates big bones. But I'm fat too.

Don't be embarrassed. I know the word "fat" makes you uncomfortable and your initial reaction is to say, "No you're not." But please don't do that. Get comfortable with the word and you will be comfortable with me. I'm fat. I know it, you know it, strangers at the mall know it. And, it's ok. Really, it is. I have been fat since I entered the world at over 8 lbs. I was fat the day that Louis Galli made fun of me in Mrs. Krieghauser's 3rd grade class. And I was fat every time a guy rejected me because I wasn't his type. But I want you to get comfortable with it.

"Why?" you ask.

Well, maybe Sears had something with that whole "Pretty Plus" thing... But, if I had a line of clothes, I would call it FAT PLUS. I'm fat PLUS I'm the life of the party. I'm fat PLUS I cook a great meal. I'm fat PLUS I'm a fabulous friend. I'm fat PLUS I have a great job, drive a nice car, live in an adorable apartment. I'm fat PLUS I love children and photography and painting. I'm fat PLUS, I sure can sing.

See, until you get comfortable with the FAT, you can't see all the PLUS.

This is the life of a big girl my friends! Helping people and hoping people get past the fat and see all the PRETTY PLUS.