Slice of my Life

Love letter to my firstborn.

I’m not sure what I imagined animals were thinking when they gave birth for the first time, but I’m pretty sure I had a vague thought that they must have an idea that they were pregnant and would just instinctively know what to do. This was not the case with my childhood dog. When it was time for my labrador to birth her puppies she was twisting around and around in circles, absolutely freaked out by these fairly large objects coming out of her body. I’m sure it was painful. I can verify that it was gross. My mom was scrambling to get her settled or just catch the puppies as they slid out in a horrific, wet and bloody plop. Kudos to my mom for handling the entire thing as my father and I were too busy racing to the bathroom to vomit. Once the birth was over, the dog just stood and stared at the puppies and then at my mom like this was her fault. Getting her to nurse the puppies was next to impossible. She kept standing up to get away from the puppies. She had managed to get them out of her, why were we trying to attach them back to her body? That image of the dog absolutely bewildered about what the heck was going on, twisting around and around in confusion while puppies just started emerging out of her body to fall to the floor, and then offended sensibilites as to why she was responsible for these alien things perfectly represents me being pregnant and having my first child. My husband is horrified by this simile I insist on using, but I think it is accurate. Never once in my life had I daydreamed about being a mom. I wasn’t opposed to being a mom as it seemed the logical course of events, I just never dreamed about it either. I moved away to California before my friends had children. I never babysat. I don’t remember ever holding a baby before I gave birth. To say that I was clueless was an understatement. mommy gainsI read every book about pregnancy, birth, raising a baby I could find. I made my husband attend each and every class the hospital provided with me. They had a series of birthing classes, a very intense breast feeding class, a class that showed you how to change a diaper/take the babies temperature/swaddle/bath them, a baby CPR class that I attended THREE times just in case, and a class devoted entirely to the carseat. Blake did NOT enjoy the intense breast feeding class attended for women only. All the information I was gathering was technical and logistical and practical advice. I had no clue how my entire heart and soul would change the moment I looked into my first born’s eyes. That was the moment I truly understood what it meant to love another being more than I loved myself. Imagine a newly planted tree. It’s a great tree; healthy, strong, full of potential. It’s young so while the roots are deep enough to keep it healthy at its current size, the tree will never be able to grow to its potential without growing deeper roots. Having Lainey pushed my roots from healthy and full of potential to deep, deep roots that opened my soul, burst opened the selfishness chaining my heart, and reached into the well of my being to begin the process of me growing into the person I needed to be. It’s a process that began with Lainey and continues to grow. motherhoodI’m a better person because of my children. The need to be better for them pushes me in a way that I would never have been motivated towards without them. And it all began with Lainey. My firstborn. My Lainey girl. I had a friend ask me why I don’t seem to tell as many funny stories about Lainey to others in person or on Facebook as I seem to do with my other two children. That made me pause as I had to question if that was accurate. I think it is and I think I know the reason why. First I need to state that I love all of my children with the same amount of passion, the same depth, the same intensity. I love them each an equal amount, I just love them each differently. They are unique and they have different personalities and different needs. But it was Lainey who first changed my entire life. She was my sole companion to rediscover my purpose. soulWhen Lainey was 6 weeks old we moved from Texas to Maryland. I had a new baby I didn’t understand and was afraid of, my body was so different I didn’t understand it, my marriage was forever changed by the arrival of a baby, my husband didn’t get home until it was late each night, I no longer had a job, I was moving to a place where I knew no one and we had very little money. I went from unlimited freedom and constant companionship to zero freedom in any area of my life and marathon sessions of being alone. To say those years were hard would be another epic understatement. But Lainey was with me every moment. Right by my side. It wasn’t just that I was her parent, it was that she was very much a part of me and a part of my entire identity. I wasn’t able to seperate that in a healthy way for years. I didn’t know how. The feelings I have for my firstborn are less lighthearted and whimsical, and more flavored with intensity and a large part of myself. It’s not better or more than what I feel for my other children, it’s just vastly different. Mom ArtWhen I have stories about Lainey, I usually hold back from sharing them with people other than family as the stories I have for her sound like bragging or extreme hubris. It’s not that she isn’t funny. The child is hysterical and she loves a good joke or a prank more than anyone. The problem is that I was never able to lighten up and relax into parenting until the second child came along. I’m glad someone called my attention to the difference. Maybe I can attempt to lighten up a bit when it comes to my firstborn and inject a little of the whimsical attitude towards parenting I display for the other two children. Lainey: just a few off the top of my head. One night you drug your sister Lily out of the bathtub when she was 2 years old and shouted, “Run free, run free, run free!” Then Lily runs out of the room and around the house naked and screaming. I asked you why you did that and you replied, “I wanted the towel you were going to use on Lily.” It took all my bargaining skills to keep you from wearing underwear outside your pants on Superhero day at school. You wanted to be Captain Underpants and would take no other suggestions. I almost had to keep you home from school because you wouldn’t change your mind. You were 4 years old and I was scolding you for leaving your breakable toys within Lily’s reach. You promptly asked, “What’s dad’s punishment for losing his keys and wallet every morning before he goes to work?” From the first time you were old enough to make decisions, you’ve made them quickly and you don’t change your mind. Ever. We would go into a toy store and you would pick a toy quickly. I would insist you look at every single option before making your final choice. Not once, not ONCE in your life, have you ever changed your mind once you’ve made a choice. Two days ago we went to choose two new pairs of glasses and I almost had to throw down with the assistant as she didn’t believe you could possibly have made up your mind over frames in less than a minute of our arrival. All you wanted for your 4th birthday was a big tub of giant earthworms. You didn’t want to fish with them, you just wanted to dig your fingers in the dirt and feel the worms wiggle around. Your father got out his tools to hang up a heavy piece of art on the walls when you were still an only child so you had to be about 3 years old. You watched him for a moment with all his tools and then asked,”Dad, are you going to screw that up?” You smashed your finger in the closet door when you were small. Granny asked you if you were in pain. Your response was the following, “Pain and suffering Granny. Pain and suffering.” You are my only child that knows how to behave in a bookstore because I had a Kindle by the time the other two were born. The phrase, ‘Act like we are in the bookstore’ has zero impact on your sisters while you immediately know that means to be quiet, stay right next to mommy, do NOT ask if we can leave yet. parentingMy Lainey girl, you have been the test subject for every parenting mistake possible and the guinea pig for every unrealistic expectation a parent could have. You’ve risen up and surpassed all those expectations. You are a trailblazer that opened my soul. I’m a better person, wife, mother, friend, child of God, and daughter because your little spirit pointed out the path and provided the desire to grow. I’ll try to lighten up and be a little more whimsical with you. Because I love you so much more than just to the moon and back.

Slice of my Life

The monsters will chase you.

Last year was my 20th high school reunion. I didn’t get to go but I had planned to go right up until two weeks before the actual event. I remember telling my mom who was coming, who wasn’t coming, and who I hoped was coming. I mentioned one particular name and my mom did all but spit on the ground and made the sign of the cross to ward of the devil. Which would have been extra dramatic as we aren’t Catholic. This particular girl, a friend, had hurt my feelings so bad once in junior high that I sobbed on my mothers shoulder for hours while she rocked me in her lap and then I skipped school the next day because I was still just so upset. I have no idea what it was about. It was junior high and we were both smack dab in the middle of puberty. I went back to school and before the week was out, we were friends again. We were friends, but my mom still hates that girl with an intensity and longevity that rivals the fervor of religious fanatics. My mom would have sheltered me from any and all pain in life if she could have. I used to think that her inability to forgive the childish transgressions my friends committed while I was growing up was amusing. I have three girls and I no longer think it’s amusing. As soon as my girls started coming home telling us about their friends that hurt their feelings, my husband starting spouting a ridiculous sentiment that I silently classified as the most naive thought any parent had ever spoken out loud. He would say that we were grateful for these disputes, arguments, disagreements, social dramas, hurt feelings and tender hearts because it gave our children a chance to grow and learn. To learn how to overcome these obstacles with a loving and forgiving heart. To try to emulate God’s grace. To learn how to push past the emotional pain and make the correct decision. To learn that sometimes the person that hurt you isn’t going to be sorry, they aren’t going to apologize, and they will most likely hurt you again. To learn that you can’t run away from your problems, you have to place your feet firmly and deal with the issue head on. Wyatt EarpIt’s a sentiment worthy of a Hallmark Card. Worthy and True. It’s an epic lesson to teach your children. Perhaps the most important lesson. I’d agree if I wasn’t so filled with outrage. Mama Bear is way too busy trying not to channel Wyatt Earp in Tombstone. “All right, kid… you called down the thunder, well now you’ve got it!” You tell ’em I’m coming… and hell’s coming with me, you hear?… Hell’s coming with me!” When my husband got out of the Navy and he used a headhunter to find a good fit for his first job out of the military, the headhunter told him to “Try not to look so scary” when he was in the interview. He was rough around the edges growing up on a ranch in West Texas and the military took that and honed it into a relentless juggernaut of aggression when it comes to problem solving. He is not a gentle and sensitive flower of emotion. He is the voice of reason when my kids hearts are wounded. Oh, the irony. The thoughts and words coming out of my mouth can not be trusted when my children have sobbed their heartache on my shoulder. I would shelter them from any an all pain if I could. I would shelter them and that would be a mistake. won’t winAs much as it pains me to say it, my husband is right and we need to be grateful for these childhood chances to learn. Grateful for those childhood hurts and maybe wishing for more opportunities while we, as parents, have a chance to guide them. Grateful because as far as I can tell, adults that have no skill at processing emotional pain crash and burn. Crash and burn in a manner that takes decades, lives, families, marriages, loved ones, careers, homes and sometimes sanity with them. You can’t run from life. Running leads to ruin. We have a family friend who’s wife told him 30 years ago that she no longer loved him, she was in love with someone else. He will tell you that he was too afraid to live without her so they never got divorced. The situation was too big, too scary, too hurtful for him to face the problem so he ran from the huge wave of devastation a divorce would cause. He avoided that first tsunami of pain, and hurt, and change but they never resolved the problem. They ran from it. They have just continued to revolve around each other in rollercoaster of hurt and pain for three decades. If you mapped out his life, that’s the moment his hurt became too much and he fell into his addictions. It was a slow and steady slide: credit card debt, alcohol, sleeping pills, pain pills, lying to himself and others, stealing. His addictions and self destructive lifestyle have pushed him into the early stages of dementia or Alzheimers. He is a pale shadow of the man he could have been. I can’t imagine how betrayed he felt when his wife told him she no longer loved him. I can’t imagine the fear he felt regarding the change a divorce would cause. The loneliness he would feel. I’m sure the pain would be enough to bring anyone to their knees in despair. But I bet it wouldn’t have led to 30 years of constant daily pain, a destructive cycle of addictions to avoid his life, and the utter ruination of his hopes and dreams. He ran and the hurt chased him down for decades of torture. He will die broken and unfulfilled by his life. armorHe never learned how to plant his feet firmly and deal with his problems head on. He didn’t have practice pushing past the emotional pain. He didn’t believe in himself and he didn’t know how to seek solace in the Lord. Don’t run. When you turn from your problems you are just facing straight into the temptation of your addictions. As far as I can tell, once you’ve taken that first step into your sins, your addictions, your cravings, you can’t stop. You will never be able to shake loose that terrible hunger. You can’t free yourself because you won’t be able to satisfy that need. Your need can not be filled by your addictions. That huge pit of despair, that endless depth of wanting can only be filled by God. Be a fighter. Do not give up. You will stumble. You will fall. You will cry. You will hurt. You will cuss. You will lose. Just make sure you stand back up to fight some more. Don’t run. The monsters just give chase.

Slice of my Life

Intimacy is the antithesis of desire, a funeral for zest.

When I was in fifth grade my mom came home with 6 paperback books that were in a series and were cased in a small cardboard box that was intended to look like a small bookshelf or some such. A publishing company had sent the books as a promotion to her office and she brought them home to me without opening them up and looking at the books. They still had the plastic wrapping around the entire package. You couldn’t see the front cover of the books. That would have been a clue to the content. An important clue. It was a HARLEQUIN PRESENTS series. The first ones published, numbers 1-6. (Yes, I’m that old.) My mom had no clue she had just given her 12 year old 6 romance novels and I certainly wasn’t going to be the one to tell her. I remember all the teachers and family members praising me for being so smart and wasn’t it great that I loved to read so much. I would just smile and agree that yes, I was very smart. My friends would say they just didn’t like to read like I did and I would simply say they hadn’t found the right type of books yet. My amusement at this situation was almost equal to my amazement of the happenings written down between the pages of these books. As I stated, this was the first of these series romances. The publishing departments had no idea they just launched something that would turn the publishing business upside down. They had no idea so they boxed those six books up and sent it with a postcard allowing you to sign up for a year subscription for $9.00 a month. They wanted to build up their consumer base. I remember it had a little red heart sticker you would take and stick on the postcard. As a 12 year old, I didn’t give a thought to how that $9.00 was going to be paid. I just placed the heart sticker on the postcard and sent it in. I had those books delivered to my house for 6 months before my mom realized something fishy was going on. I might be the only person you know that was grounded for clandestine reading. The truth of the matter is that those first romances were very tame. They had a handful of writers in the beginning and their bios would be on the inside back cover. As a whole, they were typically middle aged women (or older) and each and every one of those books carried the same theme: Good girls were smart, kind, innocent and the men were strong, valiant, rich and fell madly in love at first site. The sex scenes were implied rather than scripted out and each and every heroine in those books was a virgin. Every. Single. One. (*Those books no longer support that message and I would be horrified if a child was reading those series now. Even the series romances the publishers classify as tame are graphic and inappropriate for young minds.) My 12 year old brain absorbed the following message: You have to be a virgin when you meet your true love and he has to be amazing like the men in the book. That’s not the worst message to get absorbed into a 12 year old’s head. So let’s fast-forward. MarriageBefore I married my husband we had to have “the talk” from my preacher. Brother James did not hold back and he did not sugar coat this talk. It was horrifying on multiple levels. It was damn good advice from a man who had seen it all. He said married couples get divorced for 4 main reasons: Money, Sex, Children, and Extended family. He covered each topic, but spent a large part of the talk directed toward sex within a marriage. He said disagreements or dissatisfaction regarding sex from one or both parties was not an issue to ignore. Basically he said it was time to ignore all the messages pummeled into your mind by the church your entire life and go immediately the other direction and make this a priority in your life. I obviously heard what he was saying, but I didn’t understand the message in any real way. I’m not sure you can just change directions that swiftly after a lifetime of training that sex is taboo. So life happens and the 20 year olds that are childless, mortgage-less, sometimes job-less become 30 year olds with multiple children, a big mortgage, and multiple jobs to juggle. The wild and free become the tame and burdened. Money, sex, children, and extended family issues are no longer a vague issue to tackle in the future as they are currently pummeling your marriage from all sides. If you don’t cling to each other you are going to crash and burn on the rocks. I try my hardest to constantly be on guard and grow with things such as classes and lectures and books to assist you in keeping your marriage alive and thriving. TED talkI recently watched a TED talk about Love that rocked my world. Rocked it. I had an Ah-Ha moment so big that I’m writing this despite my horror that I’m writing about a taboo topic with people that I might have to look in the eye sometime soon. God help me if my mom wants to discuss this particular blog post after she reads it. So here goes. (TED Talk: Esther Perel: The secret to desire in a long-term relationship) I absorbed two main points from this 19 minute TED talk. Both were big realizations but the second idea that rocked my world. The main premise of her talk is that you can have a highly intimate, loving marriage without desire. (This is bad, by the way.) The reason was because intimacy killed the desire. She argues that they are opposites of each other. After listening to her, I agree with her point. Point 1: Care-taking, Maternal moments were a huge “off switch” to desire. An actual off switch. The chemicals that flood a woman’s brain when they are immersed in these moments make it physically impossible for you to reach the area of “desire” in your brain until you have turned the switch back to the “on” position. You can perform the act of sex in a loving and intimate way but you will not be able to reach the “zing” and “zest” of desire. Your spouse could do everything perfect and you still won’t attain “desire” until the switch is back to the “on” position. It is your job to turn that switch. Your spouse can’t do it for you. switchThe talk wasn’t long enough for her to give suggestions on how to flip your switch but I’m thinking doing dishes, loading laundry, folding your husbands socks, tucking the children into bed moments before it’s GO TIME are more than a buzz kill, they are a chemical cocktail of disaster in your brain. Care-taking for your husband was in the same category as care-taking for the children. Those moments may lead to intimacy and love but they kill desire like a knife to the gut. You are thinking this isn’t such a big deal, people have been saying you have to be “in the mood” for years and years. I agree, but the thought that you have a legitimate chemical hurdle to overcome and you need to approach that hurdle with intent and focus was a new concept for me. Point 2: (This was the kicker for me) Intimacy is the antithesis of desire. A funeral for “zest.” This is a new concept for me as my entire life I have thought, have been trained to think, and I know most women think that the reason we sometimes aren’t feeling the “zest” is because we are not feeling loved in our marriage in those moments. We thought wrong. No wonder I could never pin down any rhyme or reason as to when I’d be “on” or “off.” I’d chalk it down to life. No one is arguing that feeling love and intimacy isn’t the bedrock of a good marriage. It is. You should work hard, fight for that intimacy and love. Yes, you still need to work hard to fulfill each others love language. It’s just that those intimate moments with your spouse do not spark desire. They just don’t. They can create an actual barrier to the goal. Telling your husband that you need more quality time, acts of service, words of affirmation or whatever your love language may be will not create the “zing.” That’s not what floods your brain with the “zest” chemicals and makes it happen. It won’t light the fire, set off the fireworks, or rev your engine. Intimacy is not the “on” switch. What? Hold up, wait a minute. What? I was totally told that WAS the “on” switch my entire life. I’ve been reading illicit books since I was 12 years old that emphatically state that IS the “on” switch. Thousands of them. Thousands of trashy romance novels that all support that thought. desireMore importantly, I’ve believed and I’ve been telling my husband that 100% was the “on” switch and the only “on” switch. We are just going to have to focus all our energy on pushing that one button. He was going to need to take out the trash more enthusiastically than ever before. I know it has never worked when we push that button, but maybe we just need to try harder at pushing that one button. The nonexistent, works against your goal, big fat lie of the century button. We’ve been bamboozled. Dear Hubby, you know how I’ve been telling you that taking out the trash and those long talks about my day discussing, in painstaking detail, all the care-taking I’ve done for the family was the magic ticket? Umm…turns out it’s the buzz kill you’ve always said it was. Turns out my “on” button is in another area entirely. I’m not exactly sure where it is either. Let’s find it together. How do you feel about leather chaps? (Just kidding…hopefully.) I’m going to need a refund on my $9.00 commitment post-card I sent in when I was 12 years old.

Slice of my Life

Reesie’s Tried and True Elixir of Life Application

Step up Ladies and Gents because I have the answer you need. The elixir of life in one bold package to heal all that ails you. There is nothing at all like it although many try to imitate. In a pale shadow that is a mere reflection of the remedy I’ll provide, I might add. My all purpose cure will help you in areas of Religion, Marriage, Parenting, Friendships, Workplace, Weight loss, Addictions and all your financial goals. Reesie’s Tried and True Elixir of Life Application is an all purpose cure. It’s an amazing restorative all in one application. All for the low, low price of $12 a year in your app store available on all electronic devices. I’m not kidding. I’ve got the answer. Or at least a method to help us organize the answer. Follow me down the rabbit hole for a second and I’ll provide an example. I talk a lot about my weight loss journey. I push my struggles, victories, insights on anyone who will listen and frequently people that have no interest in listening. I’m fun like that. Sometimes people fall into an unexpected, disastrous pit when they have been successful at weight loss. It’s a kick in the teeth when you’ve reached your goal and you think it’s going to be the magic key to happiness. A lot of people that have experienced a significant weight gain for an extended period of time spend their social lives in the background of others. The sidekick that supports the attractive friend, the person on the fringe of the group instead of the middle. The person that had a slow steady buildup to relationships instead of instant persual by an attractive person. changeHere is the kick in the teeth: When you have made a drastic change in appearance, you typically begin to feel more confidant. You are most likely putting more thought into your appearance, and you tend to be more engaged in life. Odds are that you have also made new friends as extreme weight loss typically includes lifestyle changes such as an entire host of friends made at the gym. People are going to start to notice you. They will pursue you. They will flirt, they will compliment you. Strangers will approach you when previously you had been invisible. You are no longer on the fringe, you are the center. It can be intoxicating. It will be intoxicating. It can be a dirty, ugly pit of temptation if you aren’t aware it’s coming. I can’t tell you how many people I have seen achieve their weight loss goal only to throw away their marriage. All of a sudden you feel sexy and attractive and your steady and true spouse that loves you regardless of your weight isn’t quite as exciting. If they aren’t on this journey with you, they might not even be interested or able to have a lively conversation about all the new things you are interested in. Maybe you feel your new partner at crossfit, or your running buddy understands you better than your spouse. They know your new hopes and dreams and they “get you” while your spouse is nagging about help with the kids. Losing weight and developing a healthy lifestyle is positive. I argue that if it is an extreme change, even a positive one, it still needs to be accompanied by counseling. At the very least a constant self monitoring, self evaluating, temperature check to make sure the change isn’t destroying something in another area of your life unintentionally. the devilThe problem is that change is hard. All change. Good and Bad. It changes the way we see ourselves and the way others see us. Change in a major area can alter your life drastically. We need a way to stop and take a good hard look at ourselves at a regular basis. But not piecemeal. We need a wholelistic view. A time to stop and analyze. A temperature check because eventually, it all connects. We need a better way to connect it all. Thus we all need Reesie’s Tried and True Elixir of Life Application available in your app store for all electronic devices. (I don’t really have an app) Most of us are familiar with either a running app or a weight loss app. You plug in your goal, it tracks your progress and it will send you helpful hints to help you active your goal dependent on the things you are typing in. Reesie’s Tried and True Elixir of Life Application would be the mother of all apps. You would plug in your religion, both you and your spouse’s current weight status and goals, your financial status and goals, your location and an app that will survey restaurants and events going on in your area and the weather, your marriage status and 5 top main topics of concern, your ideal date night along with your spouse ideal date night, all anniversaries and birthdays, your love language and your spouse’s love language and your children’s love languages*, your color code*, your children’s ages and all activities they are involved in, your 5 closest friends hobbies and what your main activity for fun you do with them, your work goals, your 5 year plan, and then an area where you could provide any additional information that is critical like you or your spouse dealing with addictions or health concerns that need to be considered. self loveThen that puppy would be your life coach. The friend that gives solid advice. The harsh but true advice no one wants to give. If it sees that you are making strides in your work goals but you haven’t had a date with your spouse in 2 months it would send a reminder that their love language was X and you both had time between your kids sporting events and you should go biking or on a long romantic walk as you have both gained 5lbs in the past week and the local weather would be perfect those days. It would remind you to include your spouse in your activities if you had lost 30lbs but your spouse gained 10 by suggesting a host of activities or topics to share based on their color code and motivation*. Or it would ding and tell you that the last three dates were only items YOU liked to do and would suggest alternatives in your spouses category according to activities going on in your location. Then it would send you a lesson based on your selected religion about marriage to revisit or pray about. Or maybe it would tell you that according to your faith and financial goals you plugged into your app and your recent work successes you had an opportunity to go on a vacation AND up your tithe by a certain percentage. It could even get really harsh and tell you that your sudden loss of income means you should be saving money instead of going out on dates at all and provide all the Dave Ramsey courses being offered in the area to help you through this financial crisis. Then send you date options that are free and still within both your love languages. Handle your business. Don’t fall into the ugly pit because you didn’t manage your change. That’s a steal of a deal for $12 a year. *www.MotiveMatters.com (Color Code) *The Five Love Languages: How to Express Heartfelt Commitment to Your Mate is a 1995 book by Gary Chapman.

Slice of my Life

I found truth in a burlesque class.

Some people like Vegas, some people love Vegas, and some people think it’s the cesspit of all that is evil and wrong with our society. Temptation is laid out to trap you like a fish on a hook and drag you down into Hell. The Devil’s Den. Maybe that’s true, maybe it’s not. I’m not here to judge or guide so you need to take that up with your Momma and the Lord. As for me, I love Vegas. I always have. I love the fact that you can eat in Paris and dance in Egypt in a 4 hour timespan. You can relax by a beach under a cabana and then eat at a 5 star restaurant and watch a magnificent show before you fall asleep. As luck would have it, I was able to go to Vegas with a few couples over valentines weekend. The main thing I like to do in Vegas is dance. It’s just been a while since I’ve danced all night in spiked heels so I felt like I needed a refresher. Two stepping in a country bar wearing your boots is leagues away from Vegas in heels at 2am. I needed to know that if I went low, low, low my pants wouldn’t split and my back wouldn’t snap in two. Or that I could even get up off the floor should I get down that low. Frankly, I’d rather come home from Vegas having needed bail money than a neck brace from a horrible dance move throwing me into traction. Priorities. My first solution to this was to go into my bathroom and lock the door. I picked my bathroom because that’s the only place I could see myself in a mirror to try to gauge how stupid I looked. I would sneak in there after the kids were in bed and the husband was distracted. I’d click that lock as quiet as possible and turn the music down low. I’d wear my heels and my mommy spandex so the jiggling wouldn’t distract me (learned that gem in the first 5 minutes) and then I would play videos I had uploaded from Youtube. All I learned was that I did indeed look very stupid with all the moves, the moves had not changed in the last 10 years, and my heels made a loud enough banging noise on the tile that my husband would sometimes hear me over his loud action video games. Twice he ventured to knock on the door to ask if I was okay. All I could think to yell out was, “I need privacy, I’m trying to poop!” I’m not sure how he related that to an oddly loud banging noise, but he swiftly went away. Sprinted away. Stayed away. In retrospect that is probably why he kept asking me if I needed to go see a doctor for a check up. The Youtube videos didn’t work but my friend invited me to a burlesque class. This is where I found all the information that a woman needs to face any situation. It took two classes to discover an epic truth about life that all women need to be taught. Information that needs to be imprinted on our brains. magicAll you need to be sexy and sassy is the BELIEF that you are sexy and sassy. I’ve heard this before but I always thought the sentiment came from people that were in fact NOT sexy and sassy. Kind of like giving a trophy to everyone instead of just the winners. But it’s true. Belief. That’s it. That’s all you need. I’ll prove it. I had no idea what to expect from a burlesque class. I kept it quiet as I was thinking it would be along the lines of those ‘pajama parties’ people throw sometimes. Fun and innocent yet with a thrill that you are doing something oh so naughty that people would judge you for if you say it out loud. But that was not what this was. First of all it was held at a legitimate dance studio and was taught by a legitimate dance instructor that mostly teaches ballet. No one was dressed skimpy, we were all in our workout clothes. I walked into class and our instructor was short and middle aged. Frankly, she did not look athletic and she did not strike me as attractive. It was the end of the day so her makeup was gone except for the dark smudges you get under your eyes from your mascara running down your face and exhaustion. Her hair was in a messy bun on top of her head. It wasn’t a fashionable messy bun, it was a birds nest of hair perched on the top of her head and would flop about as she talked in an unflattering manner. Her sweats were old and baggy, her shirt was loose and then tight in all the wrong spaces on her body. I remember thinking that I had just wasted my money. Then the music started. The music started and just with her going through the motions of getting us warmed up I was convinced she was the sexiest woman on the planet. The sexiest woman on the planet doing moves that were innocent enough to break out in front of any audience. I have no idea how she married sexy and innocent and fun into one miracle but she did. Oh my sweet goodness she did. If I had been a man, I wouldn’t have left that night without her phone number and a date. By the end of class I was convinced she could teach us all exactly what we needed to know to achieve a semblance of sexy and sassy as well. I was going to rock these moves in Vegas as soon as I learned them. But I still didn’t have the entire picture. I thought it was the moves. The skills. The steps she had to teach. The next class rolled around and I was beyond excited. I stepped into class and we had a different instructor. Our original teacher had hurt herself so we had a replacement. Our replacement was a Ginger Goddess in bright blue spandex that molded to her perfect behind and toned legs. You could see every muscle on her leg defined. That was the first time I had seen muscles on a woman’s inner leg outlined. I didn’t even know that was possible. Her red hair shimmered in a perfect shiny sheet down her back, her makeup was done expertly and her lip gloss made her lips look bee stung. Her blue top molded to her upper torso and you could tell gravity had zero effect on her perky chest area and her arms were perhaps the best mix of slender, toned, lightly muscled beauty that I had seen on a person not on television. JustDanceI remember thinking this class was going to be even better than the last one. Then the music started. By the time warmup was over I knew that she had all the moves down to perfection, yet she didn’t have a drop of sexy or sassy in her perfectly sculpted body. The entire class I kept expecting her to bust out the sass, but all we got was perfection. Perfection is not sexy. Perfection is coldly beautiful. I don’t want coldly beautiful. I want a hot passion for life that explodes out of my eyes and fingers and soul. I wanted my frumpy middle aged instructor back. So then the truth that every woman should know finally hit me. It’s not the moves. It’s not a secret step we need to learn. It’s not the perfection. It’s not the perfect body, the perfect makeup, the perfect outfit. It’s just belief and passion. When I packed for Vegas, I made sure to bring along my belief and passion. I also brought along my stretchy pants and a total willingness to make a fool out of myself on a dance floor. Mission accomplished. It helps that the dance floors are dark in Vegas.