School’s out for summer…

Please tell me that you sang the title just as I did when I typed it. Here’s a link – complete with bubbles – in case it’s been a while since you’ve seen Alice Cooper on stage.

I just realized how much I can relate to Punxsutawney Phil. Peeking up from the depths of the homework hole, peering around to see if there are assignments due – or classes to attend. Is it really safe to go out and play?

Why yes, yes it is.

I am used to being in school four nights in a row, and doing homework and studying the other nights. I haven’t had to do any of that in TWO WHOLE WEEKS. What??

What in the blazes have I been doing with all of my extra time (besides not writing blog posts, obviously)?

Friends. Beach. Home projects. Netflix. Painting. Books. Did I mention friends?

I have been making up for lost time in the social arena – as in – I’ve been having a good ol’ time since classes ended. Having fun is just as I remembered it, you know, it’s FUN!

I also reached a goal this week in the Toastmaster’s Club. I delivered my 10th speech and earned the Competent Communicator award. For those who have no clue what I’m talking about, let me ‘splain, Lucy.

Toastmaster’s is an international organization that helps people conquer their fear of public speaking. Members take turns giving prepared speeches and talking extemporaneously and then giving and receiving helpful feedback from one another. It’s actually pretty cool and there are some amazing people in my club. I’m growing and improving my ability to speak (and you thought I had that down solid).

Oh, and I hung this up in my office.

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Lido Beach, Sarasota, Florida. Acrylic on canvas, 24″ x 24″

So every day I’m seeing the beach one way or another! This was my final project for my painting class, but I just can’t seem to put away my brushes. There’s another painting nearly finished on my easel and several more lined up behind it. It’s becoming almost as much fun as writing.

With summer, and this recovery of time and energy, I’m going to revisit the whole dating thing. I’ll be sure to keep you in the loop if / when it gets interesting. I am honestly not sure where I left off with my alphabet dating drama, so I may just have to start over. We’ll see…

Summer, I’m so glad you’re here. Please stay awhile – I have lots of plans for us 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

Me and my big/small mouth…

Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to control your tongue? You probably know. Heck, the book of Proverbs (in the Bible) talks about this. It’s called the wisdom book for a reason, y’all. James 3:3-12 is all over the topic of taming the tongue. I think it’s in there so often because it’s applicable to all of us.

Do you have any idea how flipping hard it is to paint your own face? Maybe you do. Especially if you took a painting class and someone gave you this crazy hard assignment. I cannot imagine why you would tackle this otherwise. Maybe you’re a great artist- because I was told that every great artist does a self portrait. Or you’re into self torture. Same thing.

Last weekend was also Easter, which is the equivalent to Super Bowl Sunday in the church world. Basically we have twice as many people as usual. On top of that, we begin our day 2-3 hours earlier than normal. My church has this incredible outdoor sunrise service that is, well, frankly, just too early to be dealing with people. We gear up and plan accordingly, and smile and greet everyone. It’s really one of my favorite holidays, despite reporting for duty at dark-thirty.

I spent HOURS on my self portrait. Probably 2-3 hours on the one pose that I abandoned. (I need some gesso, obviously). I chose to paint the photo with the tricky angles (read about it here) and it was due for the final critique last week. I stayed up very late the night before finishing it. I wasn’t totally happy with it, but it was done enough. Plus, beauty sleep.

At church, I oversee several areas and the people within those areas. My teams, and more importantly, the leaders of those teams, are incredible. Most of the time I just walk around and chat and make sure everything is going well. I don’t actually have to do much of anything except put out fires or make minor corrections. Easter Sunday seems to have more pressure than normal, and I was really feeling it.

My cool hippie art professor deemed my painting “most improved since the last class”. I took that as a high complement. He commented how tricky mine was because of its perspective and lack of shadows on my face. I had captured my eyes well – which is critical. I had mimicked the background style with the highlights in my hair. One could sense that my arms were correct (even though I think they looked hairy) and overall he said I did a good job.

And then I blew it only two hours in. I overstepped my bounds in a sensitive area with a new volunteer. She left in tears, vowing to not come back. I erred, and it was on the side of judgment, not the side of grace. This was upsetting to many in this serving area, and it hung heavy like a dark cloud. Traces of it rumbled on throughout the next week.

Though I said I was done with this painting, he suggested I make one more improvement. Then he said something I’ve never heard in my life. He said my mouth was too small (could he please sign a sworn statement to this?). One of my best features was captured in the photo, but I didn’t translate it very accurately onto the canvas. My smile wasn’t quite as full and bright as the one I am known to share.

After much prayer and conversation with other leaders, the young volunteer and I made peace over coffee last week. I was grateful that she was willing to meet. We were open and honest about our Easter morning exchange. She expressed her vulnerability and ensuing hurt. I expressed my deepest and most sincere apologies, which she accepted. She extended so much grace, though I am the one who should have granted it to her in the first place. She will be back, and all is well. Forgiveness is a beautiful thing.

I am grateful that humble pie doesn’t have too many calories. I would also agree it’s best if you can eat while it’s still warm.

It’s been an interesting and learning experience with these two swirls of thought in my head over the past week. My mouth is too big. My mouth, without a filter of grace, can be so damaging. My mouth is too small. My mouth, when I’m smiling, is one of my best features.

So for today, I will be smiling more and judging less. My self portrait isn’t finished, but then, neither am I.

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri

 

 

Selfie on canvas

In 2013, the word selfie was added to the Oxford Dictionary and was proclaimed “word of the year”. You would think by now that I would be good at taking one, but alas, you’re wrong.

It’s a generational thing to be sure. I know my millennial children have zero issues with taking and posting selfies all day long. Of course they are both wrinkle free and have that amazing metabolism I fondly recall having at that age. Those were the days…

That was never me. I am completely, totally, 100% NOT photogenic. I’m the reason the photographer has to take 72 group shots so that someone’s eyes aren’t closed. I don’t have a side or a smile or a pose. I scrambled to find pics to post on the dating profile.

The struggle is real.

So of course our next painting assignment is a self portrait.

I tried to negotiate my way out of it by offering to exchange the proposed self portrait for a three canvas series as my final project rather than a single piece. That’s a net gain of one entire painting. My professor declined with this inarguable comment. He challenged me with, “Every great artist does a self portrait.”

He knows me, and that I have enough ego to absorb this compliment and calling in one fell swoop. The good news is that I can use a photo – past or present. Oh good, we’ll leave off the neck wrinkles and crow’s feet and leave a young clean face to capture on the canvas.

One evening after a full week of work and school, I grabbed the box of photos and began my quest. Anything stored electronically was too recent. There were a billion pictures of my adorable children, you know, the photogenic ones? But a decent picture of yours truly in her younger days? Not so much.

Sure, there were a few, but I could not use a single one. Between the quality, the background, the lighting, the expression, and of course the closed eyes, they just weren’t quite right.

Rabbit trail: I actually shed a few tears as I reminisced over photos of my grandparents that have long been gone. And those memories of once-small children that no longer sit on my lap for bedtime stories.

Disclaimer: I may have been hormonal.

Warning: Looking at old pictures while hormonal is likely to cause uncontrollable cravings for Breyer’s Original Vanilla Bean topped with Ghirardelli Chocolate Chips and could additionally result in varying amounts of weight gain.

When my search came up empty, I surrendered to using a current selfie. After getting a friend to do some pics, and a ridiculous amount of time playing around with my camera phone, a few decent shots were captured.

The realization I had about myself, and how I feel about my image, was monumental.

In the majority of the old pictures, I did not love myself. I did not even like myself. No wonder none of those other pictures would work! I am glad I have grown and changed and embraced who I am. It’s a tough job, but it is necessary.

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Photo credit: Rita Michelle Baucom

Self love is a critical piece of life, and I finally have it! I am proceeding with this current self portrait, wrinkles and all. It’s about capturing the moment, the season of life in which I find myself.

 

Let the painting begin!

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

 

 

 

Friends with benefits…

Not those kind of benefits. C’mon people! Why is your mind in the gutter? I’m talking about other benefits. Sheesh.

After a couple of less than wonderful dates last weekend, my friend M stepped up and took my mind off my dating troubles. We went out dancing one night and had a blast. Then a couple of days later we went to an art museum and out for dinner. As I’ve been reflecting on our time together, it occurred to me how grateful I am. Here’s the list of some of the benefits of having a bro-friend:

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Benefit #1. Thou shalt not open thine own door.  If he is polite and chivalrous, he will open doors for you. And girls, that’s just something you need to be okay with. If a man opens a door for you, smile and say thank you. Don’t act like he’s just done the nicest thing ever in the history of ever. It’s normal decent behavior.

Benefit #2. Thou shalt receive at least one compliment. If he’s nice enough to be your friend, then he’s likely to bestow a minimum of “hey you look great”. Your reply? Same as above, smile and say thank you. Never argue or minimize a compliment, just receive it graciously. Give him one back – as he probably extended extra effort too.

Benefit #3. Thou shalt not fear for thine own safety. You have a brother at your side who will protect you, not harm you. It’s likely that he will not put any moves on you and this is why you’re friends. You can trust this one. *Disclaimer – if you put moves on him, he may just follow your lead. Sliding out of the friend zone can be a slippery slope – so be careful.

Benefit #4. Thou shalt not have creeps hitting upon thee. Again, you have an instant shield from ass-hats hitting on you. It’s a lot more fun when you can relax and enjoy yourself, knowing that your friend has your back.

Benefit #5. Thou shalt learn something about the male psyche. And perhaps he will learn something about the female psyche. It’s possible! When there is true friendship, it’s easy to be honest and open and even vulnerable. After all, nothing is at stake when you are with your friend.

Benefit #6. Thou shalt not be in danger of becoming an old maid. Sometimes the hardest part of being single is being, well, lonely. Having a good guy friend is better than a romantic date. There’s no pressure, no expectations, just getting out for some fun!

Benefit #7. Thou shalt not be required to shave thine legs (or anything else). Sometimes it’s nice to go out without all the primping and fussing. Throw your hair in a pony, slide on your favorite jeans and a t-shirt, complete with a pair of Chuck Taylor’s and you are ready to go.

Benefit #8. Thou shalt perform at thy best. If you’re the sporty type, it’s okay to own your edge. You don’t have to worry about preserving his fragile ego. Aim high, work hard and do your best to win. Whether it’s pool, darts or corn hole – it’s okay to kick his ass. But be a good winner and buy him a drink.

Benefit #9. Thou shalt say what thou means. Perhaps we lose our sense of self when around someone who makes our heart skip a beat. We may forget how to voice our opinions when we’re weak in the knees. With a guy friend, we have the freedom to practice and not worry about feeling too nervous to say what we need or want.

Benefit #10. Thou shalt establish a minimum standard. Chances are that you will begin comparing other potential suitors against your guy friend. If the new man doesn’t treat you as well as your bro-friend, he’s probably getting cut from the lineup.

So friends with benefits? I’d have to say, absolutely! I think any great relationship starts as friends. As long as expectations are managed and everyone is honest, it can be good. Whether M stays in the friend zone – or moves up – has yet to be determined. For now I’m totally content and grateful for his friendship 🙂

Thanks for reading, until next time!
Sherri

 

 

 

The beginning of the end (in the middle)

The dating game – at least the online version – is about to be over. We will not even make it to the middle of the alphabet, let alone the end. My subscription is expiring in a few days and I will not be renewing. I’d rather curl up with a good novel or go out with existing friends than continue with the frustrations this venture brings. Bye bye, book deal.

Guy F – from our last post – never actually materialized. After some lengthy and interesting phone conversation, we mutually decided we were not a great match. Cool.

Guy G – was good. You remember him – the mysterious blue-eyed snowbird. We enjoyed a Spring Training game last week. How best to describe him? Sweet, attentive, intelligent, kind, and successful. Why only good and not great? What’s the catch? I didn’t find him physically attractive. I believe there should be chemistry and sparks and a little heart racing, and there just wasn’t.

Note: Some say it’s okay to dismiss the lack of spark if his bank account is fat enough. Some say a sugar daddy is what I need. I disagree.

When the game was over we chatted and I confessed that I just didn’t feel like we would go beyond a friendship. He said okay, no problem, and gently insisted on taking me to dinner. He was so kind and pleasant, and I made it clear that I did not want to hurt his feelings or create false expectations. He agreed – we would just enjoy a nice meal and each others company and so we did. It was lovely and we parted with a somewhat awkward hug.

I am racking my brain to think of someone who may be a good match for him, because he’s a genuinely great guy. 56547As my friend Susan says, there’s a lid for every pot. He mentioned several fun things to do, so it’s possible that we would connect before he migrates north. Again, clearly stated up front intentions will be paramount. I don’t want to be a heart breaker.

And our next contestant is the one that has me questioning my participation in this whole damn thing.

Guy H – as in – what the hell? We met for a late dinner on Saturday night and honestly, I was not thinking. I was tired, too relaxed and blew past several red flags along the way. When did I realize I may be in trouble? When he had a firm grip around my waist and an overly passionate lip lock on my face. I agreed to see him again – only so I could get in my car and send him the rejection message from a safe distance. The last thing I wanted to do was piss him off. Not good.

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Perhaps I’m being paranoid and dramatic, perhaps not. Ladies & gents, watch yourselves out there. It’s the last time I’ll do a late dinner like that. There were not enough people around in the semi-lit parking lot and I was feeling unsafe for sure. Girls – and guys too – pay attention to the red flags. Don’t have too much to drink and let your guard down (thankfully I only had one drink). Make sure someone knows where you’re going and ask them to check on you at a specific time. I totally forgot about having someone check on me, which would have provided a smoother escape.

All of this is a learning process. I’m grateful this lesson didn’t cost more.

Two dates, two different guys, neither of them a match but they both liked me and wanted to continue. It’s an ego boost, but also exhausting. Learning to say “no thanks” is a valuable skill that I’ve gotten to exercise.

There was a bright spot this weekend which will be saved for another post, another day. What I will tell you is that it’s really good to have friends to balance out the challenges and disappointments dating can bring. I am one grateful girl…

Thanks for reading, until next time.
Sherri

And so it continues…

Before I reveal the dating darkness, I’ll provide the excuses for the sharing delay. I had a huge event at work which consumed a lot of time and energy. And in the few moments outside of work, I climbed out of the homework pit that neglect had been digging. Keeping up with three classes actually takes time, y’all. And yes, I am counting the days until spring break.

Since my last post, I wrote a 1000 word article for a local magazine that a friend publishes. And some friends were in town because their momma passed away – so there was a few days of funeral stuff with them. And attended a half day Toastmaster’s Officer Training. And entertained a house guest for four days (or the house would have been a total disaster). So yeah, I have been passing my own self in the hallway. See ya later warped-speed-busy-life. You can come back never. I need time to date if I’m going to write a blog that turns into a best seller.

We left off with Guy D, the one I was excited to meet but then didn’t. And you may recall that he cancelled because he had met “the one” after their first date. Spoiler alert: she wasn’t the one. D messaged me last week. We chatted for a few and then I asked about “her”. He explained that she wasn’t who she said she was (what?). Oh, and he would still like to connect if I was open. Hmmm… I need to think about that. No jumping too quickly with D!

Guy E was young and hot and never made it past the first 15 minutes of messaging. Here’s the acceptable formula for young: half of your age plus 7 years. (So at 48, half plus 7 is 31. I know, right?) We weren’t very far into our text conversation before he shared why he is interested in women my age. Apparently we are known for being good at – let’s say, explicit activities – along with cooking and baking. Alrighty then. Not sure why he thinks I’m good at baking.  Thanks for showing me what you’re about early on. E is for ego. And exit!

Guy F – we’ve had light conversation and are planning to connect in person this weekend. I have been the difficult one (as per usual) due to the insane aforementioned schedule. He seems nice enough, polite and professional. Oh, and he wants to treat me to sushi which is something I totally love. So we’ll see if we actually meet and how it goes.

Guy G and I started chatting a bit tonight. He has gorgeous blue eyes and is a snowbird – young, but not in the same decade as Guy E – thank you very much. He lives about an hour from here until April. All summer and fall he is 1000 miles away. Seasonal dating. That may just be perfect.

Beyond dating, school and work, I am doing my best to take good care of myself. This weekend’s agenda includes a little retail therapy at TJ Maxx and a pedicure. Also I took advantage of private beach access by simply asking if it was available to me. And lo, I received a parking pass and a wristband, just like that. Sometimes you just have to practice self care. It’s worth it!

Thanks for reading, until next time…
Sherri

 

One, two, who are you?

There are plenty of people out there digging into hard controversies and political rants. The opinions and angst and true upset are valid and I respect anyone with the courage to jump into those circles. I have lots of opinions on such subjects. However, this is one space where I try to keep it light and fun and maybe a tad bit inspirational. I’ll take my cue from the newspaper comics and attempt to give you a smile.

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The dating chronicles have begun. My suspicion was that – at the very least – I would have something entertaining to share in this space. I find it to be a bit comedy / bit tragedy. The logos for online dating sites should not include cupids or hearts or fish…but this…

If you’re single, you can relate. If you’re connected, you’ll be grateful that you’re not single. Even if you are squabbling with each other because, well, just read on.

Let’s begin with scanning the profiles. There are HUNDREDS of men in all shapes, colors, sizes and ages, and they are all online, looking for love. Or something, I’m not too sure. In scanning through the myriad profiles, here are my instant dis-qualifiers…

–The only picture on your profile is of you wearing a hat and sunglasses.
I can’t see you. Who are you? I don’t care about your receding hairline. Why are you hiding? I cannot handle insecurity. Next.

–Your marital status is separated.
Paperwork can drag on, I get it. But dude, you are still married. You are not single or divorced. You are not available. Get off of dating sites until the papers are signed. Oh, you might want to let the ink dry for a bit, too. Just a suggestion. Next.

–You smoke.
I don’t, and you shouldn’t either. It’s a terrible habit and I broke it myself years ago. Get help and make it happen for yourself. It’s not judging, it’s the honesty of “I am never gonna kiss you”. Next.

–There are grammar or spelling issues all over the place.
I am somewhat forgiving here because of grace. But when errors make it difficult to actually communicate, I just can’t do it. Get a proofreader – you need one. Next.

–You didn’t answer the profile questions.
Isn’t this the point? I am not responding to the “what do you want to know?” question you sent me. If you are on a dating site, answer the damned questions. Or just go away. Why are you even here? Next.

Look at all that discernment right there. I am trying not to be too cynical and harsh, but wow, do you see the challenge? Tell me I am being reasonable and not setting impossibly high standards. No really, tell me. I need to know.

How much can I tell about a potential “love match” from these profiles? Quite a bit once I figured out the “code”. For example, when he says that he “likes to be spontaneous”, he is actually saying that he doesn’t make plans. In other words, he’s telling me right up front that he may call to see if I’m available with zero notice. How romantic.

Sure, I’m just sitting here looking beautiful and doing nothing at all, just waiting for your call. Um, yes, looking beautiful. And hell-to-the-no – I am certainly not sitting here waiting. Go be spontaneous with a boring girl. This one has a life.

How well am I representing myself? Am I honest? I think so. I feel like I’ve done enough work to know who I am. I state right up front that I am strong and sassy and independent. Guys, I know this about myself. If you are super sensitive, consider yourself warned that I may hurt your feelings without meaning to do so. I know myself, and you should know yourself too.

It’s like sorting the mail that comes in. Junk, junk, junk, junk, oh, wait, maybe that’s one I should look at for more than 2 seconds.

This area is rumored to have a ratio of one single guy to TEN single women. I have like 400 profiles to skim through. Does that mean the guys have 4000? Good grief.

To keep myself in balance with this, I only check the site for 10 minutes, once a day. If I am having conversation via messaging or talking, it’s for that same amount of time. I’m busy y’all, and this is not my new job or my new hobby. It’s for exercise, and apparently blog material.

Aren’t you glad that you got to read all of these words and there was nothing politically charged? Me too…

Stay tuned for more adventures….

Thanks for reading, until next time,
Sherri