Thursday, October 27, 2011

Not Drinkin The Haterade

I need to cover some negative comments and tie up a few loose ends.   This post will do that and MOVE FORWARD.   Groovy?
Last week, I found out that “The Reader” had been cheating on me.  I’m not sure exactly how long or to what degree while we were still together, but looking back now, it makes sense.  
When he started to pull away, I should have listened to my gut, but I foolishly still trusted him.    When we were breaking up, he wigged out on me and got angry when I was crying.    I was literally bawling on the phone and his reaction was to tell me he was so angry he wanted to punch a hole through a wall.  What a keeper, huh?   Now in retrospect it all makes sense, he wanted to be done with me and move on to his next thing.   I was a fool and I see that now, finally.
The betrayal I felt crushed me and made me unravel a little there, admittedly.   I was finally at a good place about the breakup and finding this out reopened those wounds in an even more painful way.   Finding out he lied to me hurt me deeply.
I should have seen it coming, because it was exactly the same scenario when we came together, he had feelings for me and we were well into our plans for the future before he officially broke up with his ex.  They hadn’t seen each other in a long time, but it wasn’t officially over. 
Last week after I found out about what he’d done, I went to him for an explanation, some resolution and closure.  In his true form, he totally ignored me and over the course of the next few days, my anger exploded.   It finally crested with me writing something nasty to him.   I questioned his character, his manhood and then I REALLY let him have it.   It wasn’t pretty.   I told him I hated him and that I totally erased him out of my memory. 
I could have done so many worse things, but I didn’t.  
The next day there was an extremely mean comment on my blog from an “anonymous” reader.   When I first read it, I was upset because it was so shockingly insulting.  Then the more I thought about it and read through the language it could only be from him.   The hate and bitterness was oozing from this comment and no casual reader could have that much of an issue about me.    It was personal and after Captain Obvious and I talked about it, we could see right through it.
Here’s what it said:  This is weird, how you're sharing all these details like bad fanfic. No offense but I started reading your blog because you talked about relationships. Now it just reads like a badly written diary of a 15 year old
The language sounded like him, the sentence structure was like his writing and it couldn’t be an accident that it happened on the very next day after I wrote him a scathing goodbye.  I’ve only had 2 anonymous comments out of the 415 comments I’ve received.   The chance of this NOT being him is staggering.   It also just so happened to be a post about me moving on and having a really great date with a hot guy.  Coincidence?   Doubtful.     
Ironically, I still have my diary from when I was 15.  It’s an old worn book with Holly Hobby on the cover and lots of steamy deets about first kisses and slow dances.  Here are some excerpts from it from this very week back then:  Today, one of Frank’s friends came up to me and called me Frank’s Girl… Donny asked me to the football game and I accepted, he is really sweet…  Cathy, Chris and I went to the haunted house… At the game, Donny put his arm around me.”     Hopefully, you get the point of what these words illustrate.  That is a bad 15 year old’s diary.   I’ve earned an intelligent audience, you wouldn’t be reading me if it didn’t have some value.   The comment about this being a badly written diary of a 15 year old is insulting to me and to you.  C’mon man.
Yet, I’m not going to say what I write is world changing, I hope it makes you laugh, entertains you and makes you think.  However, I’m not spending any time practicing my Pulitzer acceptance speech.  I’m realistic about what I’m trying to do and the fingerpainting I do sometimes.  We need to be entertained sometimes and if this is few minutes of distraction for you that provides a little smackerel of wisdom every now and then, I’m happy about that.
Truth is, the past month or so I’ve been writing more in-depth posts about life and happiness and relationships.   There’s so much momentum going for me and I’ve received so much positive feedback that something like this is laughable and isn’t even a pimple on my booty.
I welcome criticism about my writing, I want to be better.  I admit I have a lot of growing to do and I want to be good at it.  My posts are all over the board; sometimes they are silly, sexy, and sometimes deep.  If I were a painter, some of my posts would be beautiful oil paintings, others would be fingerpainted little pieces of crap, not even worthy of the refrigerator door.  But they’re real and they’re me and I’m not going to be any different.
As far as this relationship, I think it finally came down to him not wanting to live here, in the Midwest and that was a huge part of his decision.  I couldn’t have been any better to him or given him more.   However, it’s in the past and you don’t give a rat’s rectum anymore and neither do I.

In other news…
That same evening, I had another negative comment.  This one was a totally different tone and although it bothered me, I didn’t take it personally.    A reader commented that my blog sounded like soft porn lately.  Honestly, that comment took me aback and I had to really think about it.  I am a sexual person, it’s a part of my nature however, I’m not intentionally writing erotica.   The post she commented on was my last date, a date where I hinted at something physical happening, we watched football and fell asleep on the couch fully clothed.  That’s about as innocent as I get writing about a date.   
Frankly, my posts in the beginning were a lot more naughty, hell Latin Lover and I had sex in a stairwell and I wrote about that.   If anything my posts lately are vanilla in comparison, so I took the comment for the way I think she really meant it, and that was a cautionary piece of advice.   I think she was saying I rushed into physical too fast if I’m looking for love.  Truth is I don’t know for sure if I am.  I’d love to be swept off my feet and whisked off to the ball however I’m too skeptical right now after what just happened to be actively searching for love.
My writing is a way to bring some small positive change to the world and that’s what I intend to do.   Among the many things I want to change is to empower women.  For too long, women have had to hide or apologize for their sexuality.    I’m not here to intentionally offend anyone, but sometimes you have to break a few eggs to make an omelette. 
I might consider labeling my posts if they are adult in nature or changing the navigation somehow, however I'm not going to change what I write.   Nothing is to be gained from that.   I appreciate you for reading and for sharing your comments with me either positive or negative. 
If my writing doesn’t challenge you to rethink something that you believe, it’s a waste of your time.   I’m grateful to have attracted a loyal and intelligent following who have told me the impact of my words on your lives.   I certainly don’t want to lose any of you, however I don’t intend to bore you either, you’re way too sophisticated to NOT be challenged.   
Although I write about dating, I’m writing more about the impact it has had on me and my perception of self.   Whether you’re actively dating or not, the life lessons apply to anyone.  Are you going to let someone come into your life and kick your ass or are you going to take back what is yours?  That person could be your boss, your landlord, your sibling, it doesn’t matter.   Are you going to settle for not having fulfillment, sexual or otherwise?  I’m not, dammit.
Although the questions I’m asking myself might be enshrouded in layers of glittery lipgloss and sporting 4 inch heels, underneath the surface they are the questions we all ask of ourselves about life and love.  I try to do it in a way that makes you laugh and tantalizes you, yet the theme is universal.   
I challenge you to empower yourself and do what you need to do to reclaim your happiness – just like I’m trying to do.    I'm hoping we can do it together because I'm working on something really cool to do just that.  
The Single Mom

Here are some of the things on my mind?  Do I get close to anyone, especially another reader?   How can I reclaim my happiness and not let it be stolen again?  I’m also working on something that is going to help me and YOU… deets coming in the next few days. 

Friday, October 21, 2011

A Second Date: Passion, Romance and Laughter (Part 2)

This is a second date with a man I met on Twitter, he doesn't have a real nickname, yet.

Feeling his kisses on my neck was making me crazy and he enjoyed every second knowing he was affecting me   He moved my hair to the side to kiss the back of my neck, making me shiver.   His kisses were starting to get to me and I loved having his hands touching my long hair as he kissed me.
My hands were exploring his sexy body and we were pulling each other so tightly as we kissed.  It was both passionate and romantic at the same time.  We’d take short breaks to make eye contact, smile and start kissing again.  I held his chin in my hand and I kissed him hard.  Both of us were running our hands over each other, kissing and ya that’s it nothing else happened.  Nope, not a thing nothing to see here, folks.  Ok, thanks for coming.   The end.   (Waves goodbye)
Ok, well maybe some other stuff happened, not much stuff at all or anything.  It was practically nothing, in fact I think maybe we kissed and that’s about it.   No, I’m not lying… why do you ask?  Ok, ok maybe a little, tiny white lie, but the smallest of all lies, ever. 
Something else kinda happened, I think, maybe… and then I said something funny (but I can’t tell what it was because it was a little naughty and I don’t want you to think the wrong thing about me, haha)… and he cracked up laughing.  It was one of those moments that you say something and the other person laughs so much harder than you expected.  Ya, but I still can’t exactly tell you what happened or what I said.   Don’t be mad at me, ok?  I’m sorry… the real deets will be in the director’s cut… lol. 

So, after I melted his face off, we got comfortable and he held me close to him.  We had this moment of passion, followed by laughing out loud and then it ended with a sweet cuddling session.  My head rested on his chest, his arms around me. 
It was relaxing to listen to him doze off and start to gently snore; it was surprisingly so comfortable being with him.  It was easy and fun being together and lying on him while he was falling asleep was such a sweet ending to the night.  My head rested on his chest as he breathed in and out. 
I fell asleep a few minutes later and it felt amazing to be held so close in his arms.   We were both still fully clothed and the house grew colder as we slept.  I hunted down a couple of blankets and covered us up so we could keep warm.    
We didn’t sleep all that well, sharing the couch, but it was still nice being together.   One time during the night when we woke up, I tried to take off my bra, which of course he was very willing to help.  I pulled the lacy black straps down under my shirt as he unhooked it from the back.   Isn’t he such a helpful guy?  I sure thought so.
It was another goofy moment because after I took it off, I did a silly whistle like a sound effect as I threw it across the room.   It was just a random moment that was funny for no real reason; just that it was spontaneous.   Being with him is silly, natural and probably what I need right now. 
His hands and mouth liked the wardrobe change.    We had another hot kissing session and then eventually drifted off to sleep again, tightly holding onto each other.
When we woke up in the morning, we both enjoyed the feeling of waking up in each other’s arms.  We kissed and cuddled a little more and it was time for him to get up and head home.  He made a joke as he was leaving that he was extremely relieved that I didn’t really have any cats.  We laughed and had a long kiss at the front door, just like when he arrived.   My arms wrapped around his neck and his around my waist, kissing and happy from a passionate and romantic night.


The Single Mom

Thanks for reading... still talking to him, it's just fun and flirty now, which is perfect.  I found out something about "The Reader" that broke my heart... trying to decide if I should blog about it.  

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

A Second Date: Passion, Romance and Laughter

Second date: Keep it simple stupid SMD.  (SMD = @singlemomdate on Twitter)
I was both nervous and excited getting ready for our second date.  I had jitters and as the day went on I was looking more forward to see him again.    (Note: his name was originally “Twitterguy”.  We are still trying to pick out a nickname for him, most of them we’ve come up with are a little (a lot) naughty - stay tuned…)
Since our first date almost 10 days or so ago, we’ve kept in touch a lot.   It’s been a mixture of sweetness, humor and flirting.  He is hilarious and sometimes I wish I could publish some of our conversations, they are so funny.
Our interactions haven’t been serious at all and I think a lot of that is me keeping some walls up.  I can’t explain what it is but I’m not able to get close right now.  Maybe that’s a good thing for both of us; it just is light and fun.  I’ve been sometimes blunt to him about what I’m looking for and what I’m NOT looking for.  I definitely am not looking to be a notch on a belt.  
It was uncharacteristic of me but I texted him once recently that wasn’t ready for any big commitment or anything but I also didn’t want to be a booty call.   Love hasn’t worked out so well for me, so I’m not going to look for it for awhile.  
He’s someone I have a lot of respect for and I enjoy being with.   It’s just too early for either of us to make it about a whole lot more than that.  He’s a lot taller than me, cute, brown hair, a goatee and moustache.  He's good looking and I'm getting more attracted to him every time I see him.
I admire a lot about him because he is a veteran, works two jobs, is a seemingly good parent and he has a lot of traits that I respect.  He cracks me up and is always sweet to me.  Probably the biggest difference about us is that he doesn’t seem to overthink things like I do.  He’s really simple and I mean that in a good way. 
The plans for this date were a lot different than a typical second date.  Since he lives an hour from me, I guessed he’d likely stay, although we didn’t discuss it.   It was a little awkward because one of my sons was going to be home.   My house has a lot of privacy though, sometimes the kids are home and I don’t even know it and vice versa.  Yet, there was a chance that he’d have to meet my son and it was too early for that.   I just tried to not overthink and what if it to death and just enjoy the date.
It was nice getting firewood together in case we’d have a fire, getting blankets together, lighting candles and putting out a snack tray so we could hunker down for a little.  It was a crisp fall night and having him come to my home for a cozy date was really exciting to me. 
I wore my hair straight, jeans, heels, and a black long sleeved shirt that has some strategically sheer parts.  It’s not over the top sexy but it was good for a second date and a night at home.   It made me happy when his text came in that he was in my driveway.  I was excited to open the door and see him standing on my porch; he came right in and kissed me for a long time.   I think all he said when he saw me was “mmm” and we kissed for a few straight minutes. 
I enjoyed the way he kissed me so much, this session was in sync and passionate.   I think our attraction had only grown over the time that we spent apart and the passion was obvious in our kissing.  His hands were clenched tightly around my waist and then slid down to my ass, bringing me tight against his body.  
It was just a few minutes of hardcore, passionate kissing that left us both breathless.  We stopped and made a little joke about it to break things up.    He was obviously turned on but he was being careful to not make things go too fast, which looking back now I appreciate more than in that moment.   He was trying to be a gentleman but clearly he didn’t want to be.
We walked into the family room a football game was on but muted, and my laptop on the ottoman.  We got comfortable and I’m not sure how the subject came up, but we started talking about our horoscope signs and compatibility.   To stall our inevitable passionate make out session, I grabbed my laptop and looked up our signs’ compatibility.  
Our signs are Sagittarius and Taurus and it basically said that we will have incredible bedroom chemistry but our personalities would be too different to make the relationship work in the long term.  We both made a joke about it and I teasingly asked him if he just wanted to leave now since we were ultimately doomed.    I was chuckling about it but faked a serious poker face and looked at him; he answered my question with a long passionate kiss.   I took that as a “no”, ha ha.
He’s so unassuming and simple that it makes it easy to be with him.   It actually might be a good balance for me because he just makes things simple.  If I’m overthinking something, he cuts it down with a joke  and makes me realize I’m making too much of something. 
I was lost in his kisses and it felt so comfortable having him in my home, me in his arms, bathed in candelight and romantic music playing.   His arms were around me tightly and I could feel his strength surrounding me, enveloping me.  It was so comforting to be kissed and held like this.   He kissed me softly and started gently kissing my neck.  
His whiskers tickled my bare skin and made me melt down inside my own skin as he kissed me.   His gentle kisses turned to gentle bites and it made me have some extremely impure thoughts… and I liked it, a lot.   He mumbled something about the way I smelled and I was too engrossed enjoying his kisses to ask him to stop to repeat it.

The Single Mom 
Next time... how does the evening/morning end?                                                      

Thursday, October 13, 2011

My Last Blog Post

In the past seven years of being single after my divorce, I’ve been through a lot and been on a lot of dates.  I’ve done it all, been cheated on, beaten up, stolen from, dumped for every imaginable reason.   I was too short (no shorter than when we first started dating of course), too young, too old, whatever.  
Yet, I recently hit a new level of lame… my last relationship ended essentially because he watches a lot of tv and reads a lot of comic books.  A LOT of comic books.  It was a long distance relationship that he initiated, was going to move here then the new fall season happened and well of course comic books…  How could this curvy, pretty blonde compete with good stuff like that?   
Our conversations dwindled off to only once a week and that just wasn’t enough for me.    I have a life to live and taking a backseat to tv and comic books isn’t in my plans and shouldn’t be.  Entertainment should fill the gaps in our lives, not replace our lives.
After THIS, it would totally be explainable if I finally lost it and went all crazy cat lady, bat shit crazy and ate ice cream, watching Murder She Wrote every day and night.  This would be the epic ending of The Single Mom’s Dating Diary, someone would find me days later, surrounded by kitties licking out empty ice cream pints,  empty wine bottles and a remote in my hand.    People would understand totally.  They’d shake their heads and say it was such a waste, but it would totally be understandable.
Truth be told, I took it hard, writing became difficult and even being on Twitter made me sad sometimes.  (that’s where we met afterall)  I lost my best friend and my heart hurt.   I lost my voice and struggled to get it back.   My life came into a sharper focus and I had to reevalute e v e r y t h I n g.
So many readers came out of the woodwork to tell me how much I inspired them, so many heart wrenching emails, tweets, personal messages. I put down the can of frosting, the spoon (because I’m civilized like that) and wondered if I really had touched so many people. (not the inappropriate touching I’m usually acquitted for…)  Your comments picked me up, so much and made me want to keep doing this, but I still didn’t have the words.  
Inspiration came in the most surprising form: my 14 year old son. 
He’s never read my blog (Thank GOD!). He knows about the blog but he mostly rolls his eyes about it.   His dream has been to be a sports journalist, he’s a true sports addict, can quote chapter and verse of sports stats that would blow any adult away.   Since watching me, he’s seen the dream I’ve had come alive and he’s started a blog to get his own writing chops.   He’s going for his dream because he’s seen me go for mine.  Wow.  I may never hit the big time with my writing, but he just might all because he had this dream implant surgery. 
After really thinking about it I ran out of the cat shelter, threw the ice cream out the window and said, “Oh screw it!”   Wait, I’m lying… you readers are too smart… I didn’t say that…  I said “Oh FUCK it!!!”   
I'm not giving up, oh HELL no!
Your comments pulled me back up.  It’s not about me writing some bestseller book or whatever…. It’s about having a DREAM and not giving up on it.  I’m sarcastic and I probably go too far sometimes,  but I’m not a quitter.   You told me I’ve inspired you and if I quit so can you.  So can my son.   OH HELL NO!   If I go down, I’m goin down swingin'!
I’m a writer, DAMMIT!  Writers write to entertain but also to inspire us to get off our fat asses and DO something.  What’s the point of watching a movie like Dead Poets Society if you go back to your sucky cubicle life and don’t carpe the fuckin diem?     I’d so much rather someone said they read one of my posts and it inspired them than a person who read every single one and it never kicked their ass in some way.  Screw that! 
So call me a liar if you want, but this is NOT my last blog post.  
Call me out for lying, but in the next breath, make sure you call me a writer too.  I have a lot of work to do to get better, but dammit I’m not quitting over something so effing stupid.   We can't quit on our dreams, ever.   What's the point of having a dream if we let it go when we hit a speedbump?  This is like a muscle cramp in the 25th mile of a marathon.  It's game time, peeps!   The game is life, suit up and get your ass off the bench!
The Single Mom

Notes: ~ My ex is a great guy and I miss his friendship every day.   I don't mean to poke fun at him or his choices, they are just differnt than mine.  ~ I'm going hard at my book after all this.  It's so exciting! ~ I have a second date this weekend, with "Twitterguy" (will be changing his nickname soon)

Friday, October 7, 2011

Choosing Happiness - My 10 Steps to a Happier Life

Thank you for all your positive responses to my recent posts about happiness.  I’ve really made this a focus and I can tell you it’s changed my daily life and made me feel like a total badass!   We can’t sit around shitting rainbows all the time - sometimes we have to look at ourselves and make changes in order to be happy.
This series on happiness has been overwhelming.   So many of you contacted me about relationships and life choices that you reconsidered after reading my posts.    Although most of this is information we’ve all known or heard, sometimes we have to see it again to rethink where we are today.   It’s really easy to get stuck in a relationship or in a job, feel numb and forget to ask ourselves from time to time if what we are doing is really what we want and if it’s making us happy.   
We were all saddened by the loss of Steve Jobs this week.   He had such a profound impact on the world in a relatively short lifetime.    We all have a habit of seeing ourselves live into our 70’s or 80’s and that’s not always the case.  Here was a man who had fortunes we cannot fully comprehend, yet his life ended so prematurely from cancer.    He’s not that much older than me and it made me think a lot about my own mortality.    Hopefully, that inspires us all to live more full lives and not to assume that we will live long lives, it’s just not a guarantee. 
I hope that by sharing my list you can see things in your life that you want to change as well.   We can’t sugarcoat everything and pretend we are happy, sometimes we have to drill down and get to stuff under the surface before we can be happy.
I'm mostly a happy person, but I've ignored some things that have gotten in my way of being as happy as I could be.  I want to be in a Happy Relationship not just a relationship.  I don't want to be with someone just to avoid being alone.  
The following 3 things are the big things, the things I've been avoiding but lie under the surface.   The next list of 7 things is the day to day stuff.  Mostly, it’s a laundry list of things that I’ve been focusing on every day to get me from one decision to the next.
Once I broke down what was really bothering me under the surface, I made a list of tasks for each of my categories to start getting control of each one.  I then started working on each individually, even if it was just baby steps. 

1. Gaining Financial Control
So for example, Financial control… I feel really reactionary to where my finances are and my spending.  So, I created a basic monthly budget.  To address my spending, for example I researched online grocery coupons.  It was really easy to get it set up and my local grocery store chain has a shoppers account you can load them to in advance of your trip.  Easy peasy, lemon squeezy.

2. Dealing with Relationship Issues
I had some “unfinished business” with Relationships that have been bothering me in my daily life too.  I made a list of things I needed to deal with from the past and how to move forward and add people into my life who were in a similar place in life.   
For example, I contacted an old friend that I disconnected from in the past to resolve the relationship.   It wasn’t an effort to rebuild the friendship, just to have peace and to move on from it.  I also decided to distance myself from friendships that weren’t healthy.  I realized I need to make more single friends because they understand more of what I’m going through and we can relate to each other so much better.
I’ve also promised myself to “Say it” when it needs to be said.  If something is bothering me, I’m going to tell the person and deal with it.  If I bury things it just makes things worse.  

3. Clearing Clutter – Mental & Physical
Mental Clutter & Physical Clutter is a category that does have some overlap into both other categories.   It’s basically a rolling to do list of things that I want to do, write down on my list every week and I don’t ever do.   I’m sure we all do this to some extent, but I realized it’s making me stressed out in my day to day life.    
I’ve committed to not take on any new projects (unless they are work) until I’ve attacked my old projects that need to be finished.  One for example is my book collection.  I have a thing for books and I’ve been working on clearing out old books and promised myself in the future if I want to buy a book, I have to get rid of 3 first.  

Day to Day Happiness
Once I started to tackle the major projects in my life, I felt so empowered and strong.   Although, things aren’t where they need to be today, I’m moving forward and not stuck in quicksand.

4. Living with Courage (aka balls)
I decided to really go for the next step with my blog and book, etc.  I can’t talk about it all yet, all I can say is I’m bouncing off the walls with excitement.  I made a simple phone call, set up a meeting and things are really moving.  (yay!!)
I also went out on a first date, pitched a proposal for my consulting services and told someone I have a little crush on them.  (yikes!)

5. Being grateful
I’m making an effort to be grateful for what I do have and giving that more weight to the good stuff than to the stuff that sucks.

6. Changing my routine 
I forced myself to work from other places and literally just started showing up at a place I’m doing some consulting work for.    I inserted myself into the business and now if I’m not there for more than a day, they call me and ask me where I am.   The owner told me he admired me for creating my own opportunity. 
Being there also opened another door to someone else who wants to hire me for consulting.  We had a great meeting about all the projects we can work on together.  

7. Living in the moment 
Now that I’m addressing my future more proactively and dealt with some of my past, it helps me enjoy the moment more.   The other day, we had a perfect fall day and my boys and I played football in the backyard.  I can’t tell you the last time we played like that and it felt great. 

8. Committing myself to having a good day
It’s actually simple and complicated at the same time.  Admittedly, a lot of shit comes at us that we can’t control.  I’m trying to keep the stuff I can’t control in perspective.  I now start my day with thinking of what I’m grateful for and I end my day going over my checklist of what I accomplished versus what I sucked at that day.     Before I go to sleep now, I ask myself if I reached out to someone, if I did my best and if I made someone laugh today.  If I’ve done all those things, it was a productive day.

9. Asking myself am I living a life that honors my mom
I lost my mom suddenly a few years ago and it changed the way I live.  I didn’t get to say goodbye and it made me realize that there wasn’t a lot I could do about it.  However one of the things I constantly ask myself is would my mom be proud of the way I’m living my life?   When I stop and think about it like that, it really makes me feel responsible for all my choices and to be a woman that she would be proud to say she raised. 

10. Treating myself well
I’ve made a decision to do good things for myself and to make more time for fun.

So, that’s my list.  I’m being very careful about who I let into my life lately.   I’ve tightened some relationships and loosened some others.  As far as dating, “Twitterguy” (he doesn’t like this nickname, so I’ll change it…) he and I are still talking.  It’s going well, flirty and fun but nothing too out of control.   There’s nothing to overthink right now, so I’m just going to enjoy getting to know him.  He’s a great guy, but there are a lot of questions and it’s so early to get too ahead of myself.

I hope you can apply some of this to your life and I appreciate you being a part of my life!  (and it's gonna be happy too, if it kills me! :)


The Single Mom

What a wonderful life I've had!  I only wish I'd realized it sooner.  ~Colette