Archive for the ‘friendship’ Tag

The Reminder of Pink Skies: Filling Up Life Isn’t Very Filling   1 comment

The house even seems bigger now, without the chairs and table and wardrobes, the carpets and end tables and piles of things we never used but only moved from spot to spot. It’s been a good reminder to me, about how our life can expand if we’re willing to throw some of our stuff on to the altar. — Shawn Smucker

The sky is that soft pink that I only like in things not human-made – clouds and tiny multi-floral roses, sea urchins and the underbellies of hummingbirds.  I feel like I could spend all day looking out this window at the sky.

Last night, I stood outside my old high school waiting for someone I had known in twenty years ago and am getting to know a bit now.  I watched the girls from the travel softball team move in and out, bats slung to their backpacks with elastic straps, and then, I looked up at the sky.  It was that perfect silver blue of dusk, and across it, planes etched pink trails that faded quickly back to blue.  I breathed deep and marvelled at the mystery that is flight and our ability to become accustomed to it.

Lately, I have been filling my life up with activities, with obligations and plans. Not quite subconsciously, I’ve been trying to make-up for things that I am lacking – a partner, children, a home of my own – and yet, still, I find that these things don’t fill me. Instead, I get full from pink skies and plane trails.

Perhaps this is what is asked when we are told to be like little children.  Sometimes filling up means letting go.

In what ways do you try to make up for “lack” in your life? With activity? Food? Alcohol? TV?  Does it work?  



A Single Woman Spends Time with Families   3 comments

This weekend, I had the absolute honor of spending time with two of my closest friends, their husbands, and their beautiful children.  We talked, we walked, we ate (boy, did we eat), and we just relaxed in each other’s company.  A lovely weekend, and one I really needed.

But it was also a very hard weekend for me in many ways.  For one, I was again the single one in a group of not just couples but families, units that work together to make decisions and build a life.  As much as I truly love seeing my friends with the people that give them hope and security, it is also hard to be the one still alone in that time.

Perhaps, though, the hardest thing was something I have gotten better at over the years but still find very challenging – the complexities of relating to someone else’s children.  I am not a parent, and I am certainly not their parent; yet, I am an adult and not their friend either.  It’s a tough position to be in – to help settle squabbles or not, to calm the legs kicking the cabinets or not, to hold a scared little boy or not.  I’m never sure what my role is to be in those situations.  I muddle through, but it’s a challenge.

Then, of course, there is the pain of not having my own children to muddle through with.  Most days I am at peace with what seems to be a fairly solid reality, but when I spend time with kids, hear my friends talking about schools and books and the gorgeous, unique identities of these people with whom they build their lives – well, it makes me sad.

I also find myself absolutely unable to contribute to entire conversations.  What do I have to say about school choice or discipline strategies?  Usually, I just sit and listen – or check email on my phone.

I love my friends, and I wouldn’t trade them or one minutes with them for the world – not for anything at all.  I wouldn’t want them to have any less of all the glorious people they have (even though I know they are not always glorious).  Yet, sometimes, it is very hard to be in those friendships.  Very hard.

How do you guys negotiate friendships with people who are married and/or have children?  How do you find your place in those relationships? 

A Woman’s Relationship with Herself – Guest Post by Shawna Martin   2 comments

I woke up in the middle of the night last week scheming some expensive plan that involved travel and new outfits; probably something to do with the “resort” clothing catalogs arriving each January I thought, “Oh. You’re too old for that.” I’d also need a serious Brazilian Wax and pedicure.

I’m past my fourth decade. I never was able to have children. I’ve danced at my friends’ weddings over the past decade. They each had children and entered the Mommy Universe – a place I’ll never be: with them or otherwise. I’m still the same person I was when I was 32, except I’m not.

I still exercise 5 mornings a week in order to be “ultra sleek”. There is nothing to be “ultra sleek” for – except for me. There are no more nights spent dancing or having parties at each other’s homes. There are parties at homes of course; for other people in the Parental Universe. I’m lonely.

At a time in my life when I thought I’d be married with children and a career – I’m married with a career and an obsessive exercise habit. I also have a nasty addiction to clothes and shoes. I need a twelve step program because, honestly, WHO ever sees me besides the four other people I work with? I could wear the same outfit every day for two weeks and I’m nearly certain no one would notice.

I notice myself. I notice when that dress makes me feel like an elegant Druid. I notice those boots that looked great on line but make me feel like a Storm Trooper. I also notice the extra 5 pounds so no matter how much I want to raid the Hershey Kiss stash in the office – I don’t.

I strive for a healthy relationship with my self and with my husband. I don’t think any of us ever truly gets it perfect. For instance, on New Year’s Eve I had tears streaming down my face because I’ll never have children. I thought I was over that. Apparently not.

So what’s a woman to do? Call her girlfriend who has entered the Grandma Universe and plan a weekend away to a SKI RESORT. No new outfits required; or skiing for that matter. Strike a Pose!

Shawna Martin studied Philosophy at Temple University, is a huge Prince fan, a voracious reader and very content with her odd family of two humans, two cats, and a wily Brittany Spaniel. She works for LMI Advertising.

Posted January 9, 2012 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Aging, Our Bodies, Parenting

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Christmas Letters – To Do or Not To Do   1 comment

My wall of blessings.

My mom was a master of the Christmas letter. Somehow, she was able to fit a year’s worth of information about 5 people in less than two pages without it seeming tedious or obligatory.  Her Christmas letters were full of wit – often at her own expense – and her poignant, true insight that somehow never waxed sentimental.

So this year, Dad and I had a big choice to make – to do a Christmas letter or not.   Dad chose not, instead hand-addressing and signing Christmas cards to the closest of his friends.  I am still hoping to get one written; for those of you waiting, it will probably come via email or arrive in April – think how fresh and unusual it will seem them, the poinsettia challenging the tulips for beauty.

I love receiving these letters though. Yesterday, my friend Melissa sent hers.  I devoured the letter – full of tidbits about her family and funny stories about her kids.  But what I love most are the pictures – this one shows Melissa, her husband, and their two little ones in a perfect autumn setting.  They all look so happy, so healthy, so loved.  I see them, and it reminds me how blessed I am to have them in my life.

I expect I’ll get a few more of these letters and pictures over the next few weeks.  At least I hope I do.  Because then, I hang them on my office wall to remind me, when times get lonely, that my life is full of wonderful people, people who take the time to write and send me reminders of their love.

Guess I should get on that letter, huh?

Posted December 16, 2011 by Andi Cumbo-Floyd in Life Lessons, Relationships

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Stop Mothering Me   Leave a comment

I’ve noticed a trend in the last year. It’s not a trend I like.  It’s a trend I especially dislike when it’s directed at me.

Maybe it’s because I lost my mom that I’m more sensitive, or more it’s because most of these women know that I lost my mom and think, thus, I need mothering.  Whatever it is – I don’t like it.

Older women seem to think if their job to mother me, and by “mother” me, I don’t mean make me cookies and crochet me scarves – those things I like.  Nope, instead, they seem to think that the best way to love me is to give me advice.  I don’t like advice.

You see, my mom was really not one for advice.  I can only remember one time when she directly gave me advice, and that was in a letter, and it was clearly advice hard-wrung from her hand.  It was about being not only “innocent as doves,” but also “wise as serpents.”  She was concerned that I was being naive.  She was right.

But that’s it.  The only advice she ever gave me.

Somehow, though, these older women seem to think I need a lot of advice.  Maybe it’s because I’m open with my struggles; maybe it’s that they think that trying to show me a way through these struggles is what I’m asking for; maybe it’s because they don’t like to see me struggle and, thus, want to get me past the challenge as fast as possible.  I don’t know exactly why they do it.

But I wish they’d stop.

What I need are people who listen, people who tell me their stories and let me draw my own wisdom from their experiences, people who hold my hand and laugh with me and hand me a cookie.  I don’t need answers.  I need support.

So please, if you know a woman who is struggling, don’t advise her.  Don’t tell her how to “get over it” or get past it or get beyond it.  Instead, sit with her and listen.  Then, share. Be a friend.

That’s what my mother did, and she was the best.

Why I Love Shelva   1 comment

Yesterday, my partner in this beautiful blog endeavor, Shelva, posted yesterday about how she has come to understand that blogging isn’t for her.    While part of me is sad that we won’t continue this part of our journey together, I am so happy that Shelva came to understand somethinga about herself and is strong enough to honor that truth.

You see, Shelva knows who she is, and she is happy with who she is.  Of course, like all of us, she has bad days, but more than anyone I know, she is able to remember that there is – as far as we’re aware – a tomorrow, a chance to wake up fresh and start anew.

When Shel and I talked a couple weeks ago about her discomfort with the blog, she said, “I just don’t like comments – positive or negative – made about me when people don’t know me as a person.”  She went on to explain that she really wanted to be in full relationship with people – face-to-face, good times and bad, relationship with anyone who discusses life with her.  I found that so admirable and beautiful – and so Shelva.

I also really appreciated the fact that she owned her discomfort and sees her desire to stop blogging her as something she wants to do, not something about other people.  Often, it’s very easy to put our decisions on other people – to blame things outside of ourselves for the choices we make.  Shelva hasn’t done this.  This choice is about what she wants, loves, and needs, and I have so much respect for her about that.  This is one of the million reasons I love her so dearly.

So while I am sad to see Shelva take a new path in her journey of life, I am so proud of her for doing what is best for her.  May I learn to do the same for myself.

Gray Hair and Acne will continue, with me blogging a couple of times a week and guest bloggers jumping in as they wish.  If you’d like to blog about what it is to be a woman – or know a woman – trying to live life with more or less grace – please let me know.  I’d love to have you. 


When Kindness Brings Tears   9 comments

In her amazing film What I Want My Words To Do To You, Eve Ensler says to one of her students at the Bedford Hills Correctional Facility, “Haven’t you ever been so weak that just a small act of kindness, a hand on the shoulder, can bring you to tears?”

That’s where I am at this moment in my life.  So tired, so weak, so fragile really that not even an actual kindness but just the thought of kindness can crumple my face and leave me breathless with tears. 

Today, as I was driving home from work – where I had the true privilege of cleaning windows in a gorgeous timberframe while I listened to an audio book (and I’m getting paid!) – I glanced over to see a box sitting on my passenger seat.  It was addressed to my dad and was from my sister-in-law.  She has started making beautiful pieces of jewelry, and so I expect this is some of her work.  I also expect it is my birthday present from my dad.

Just the thought of that kindness, that he had thought ahead enough to get me a present, that he had done so when, until this time last year, Mom had always gotten all the gifts, and that he had been gracious and thoughtful enough to buy from my sister-in-law at a time when her business is just starting – just the thought of that potentially being true almost doubled me over in . . . . well, what emotion was that?  – gratitude, sadness, grief, joy . . . all of those.  Kindness breaking me down.

Then, a half-hour later, a dear friend messaged me to ask if I want to get dinner, see a concert, and visit her infant grandchildren.  I was so glad she couldn’t see my tears or hear my sobs.

Sometimes, we don’t see the joy, the gratefulness that our simple acts of kindness give.  But from one sore, tired, and fragile woman to all of you, let me say those things matter – so much more than you will ever know.

Have you ever been overwhelmed by kindness?