On dating my father.

“That was the thing about the world: it wasn’t that things were harder than you thought they were going to be, it was that they were hard in ways that you didn’t expect.” ― Lev GrossmanThe Magician King

Last year around this time I wrote this post about my father. I’ve written here about him a few times and there have been a many times since then that I’ve been asked what happened afterward.

Well…

Last November he called and invited me to lunch and I accepted. The meeting was awkward and heavy and he was nervous and I felt the need to put him at ease. I don’t think it was intentional on his part and it was certainly understandable— but it still wasn’t the best of feelings on my end. But he made an effort.

We followed up with another lunch after Christmas at which point I gave him a calendar my Mother-In-Law makes every New Year with photos of my children, everyone’s birthday’s, and anniversary’s. Around my wedding anniversary, in February, he called and invited my husband and I to dinner, explaining that he understood that he’d need his “buy in” if he wanted to be a part of our lives. While this wasn’t completely true— it was true enough. I thought it over and declined… feeling that the timing wasn’t right. Instead, I invited him to our son’s birthday party (which was held away from our home) and he stopped by briefly. He made an effort.

Last week, he called and invited me to lunch again. I accepted and this time I decided to bring my younger three children along because:

  • A) They are home with me for the summer so it made sense.
  • B) I felt the timing was a little better.
  • C) He made an effort.

Bringing them along was a big step for me, as I knew that it would open up a lot of questions and I wasn’t sure that I was ready to explain it all. The truth of the matter is I’ve spent a long time feeling ashamed of my upbringing, or lack there of, in regard to my parents. As a kid, I was always different. The odd one out. Other kids wanted to know why I lived with my Grandma, and where my parents were, and… well, it was hard to be different.

The truth would have been even harder to explain. So to try and explain this truth to my own kids… it was an interesting moment, that is for sure.

The thing is, I don’t care who you are— as a child it says something when not one but both of your parents skip out on you. Even though I am an adult now (and more importantly a parent) and I have a better understanding of how the world works and why people make the choices they do… I realize that my children do not have the same understanding— and I was worried about opening that door for them.

However, after mulling it over—  I realized— ready or not… I could do hard things and in the process I could show them as much. And, so, I said yes. We would meet him for lunch. Same time. Same place.

He showed up in new clothes and shoes. He made an effort. Still, it felt like a very awkward first date.

Over the course of the meal he asked if I knew anything about blogging. A thing, or two, I told him. He said he’d seen something about it on the news and explained the story to me which had to do with writers who blog anonymously and folks who post hate under the guise of remaining anonymous. If you were going to write something wouldn’t you want your name attached to it, he asked? I would I told him. It hit a bit of nerve. A familiar one. But he couldn’t have known that.

It was interesting to see my children interact with him and vice versa. He isn’t used to being around kids— but he made an effort. The eldest of my younger three children is very intelligent— but to his detriment has not yet learned the art of small talk. He wanted no part in the awkward interaction and it showed. Tolerance and kindness toward those who are different is another lesson I am hopeful this experience will have taught that child of mine. To break the ice, my father asked him about computers and technology and stuff he figured my son would be interested in but that he himself knew little about. Then he pulled out his non-smart phone cell phone and told him it came over on the Mayflower. He asked my son if he knew the year the ship came over. Of course, he did. And just like that they were having small talk. He made an effort. 

My youngest took to him right away while my daughter mostly sat back and observed the situation— as she does. He asked the twins which cartoons they watched and when they told him their mother doesn’t let them watch cartoons (which isn’t exactly the whole truth) you should have seen his expression. My own expression dared him to judge my parenting. He took the smarter path and didn’t. I appreciated the effort.

Mostly though, he spoke of his dog and I could tell that he feels that she is the only thing he has in the world and I felt sorry for him. Sorry, is a very hard thing to feel. 

Then just as that conversation winded down a man crossed the restaurant and moseyed up to our table. He addressed my father, asking him if “these were his people?” When he said yes, the man told him he was lucky. After he walked away my dad looked at me and asked if I knew the guy. I told him I’d never seen him in my life— but that I thought he must have known him. He did not. It was an odd exchange.

It’s funny how the universe works that way.

After lunch, I waited for questions from my kids that were sure to arise. I let them come. Without prodding.

My little guy only said he really liked my father.

While his older brother asked if the man who stopped by our table thought my father was my husband.

“God, I hope not,” I said. He’s thirty years older than me. 

We laughed.

And that was that.

It’s more fun that way…

“Jack learned that summer – when dealing with women, it’s best not to say everything that’s on your mind. The less you say, the better it is for you. He learned that women do not think like men. End of story.” – Britney King, Somewhere With You

“I know I don’t always like your idea’s upfront,” my husband tells me. “But afterward I’m always glad I went along with them.”

“Not always,” I remind him— as minimally as possible

“No, not always,” he agrees.

“But usually,” I smile. And leave it at that. Of course, I file his sentiment away for a later date, when I will no doubt need it.

That day came sooner rather than later— as they often do.

“Hey,” I say and he looks up.

“I have an idea,” I tell him.

He stares at me. Half scared. Half intrigued, I think.

“I’ve decided on my next project. And I need to do some research.”

“Ok?”

“I think we should take a road trip,” I say and I describe the idea very loosely. Mostly, because the idea is just that. I list off the places I’d like to visit and explain the only prerequisite be that neither of us have visited any of the places before. Our children will be visiting their grandparents. He asks if I’m sure I don’t want to bring them along. I assure him that I do not. Not this time.

“Ok,” He says.

“Um… I’m talking about driving four-thousand miles…”

“Sounds good,” He replies and goes back to what he was doing.

Was he even listening? I check the time. And then I wait…

Fourteen minutes later…

“Where are we going to stay?” He finally asks. “Have you even thought this through?”

Not really. But I improvise. “We’re going to camp.”

He deadpans. “You!? Want to camp for that many days?”

I shrug. “Why not? It’ll be fun. We’ll just pitch a tent… wherever we wind up.”

He sighs. “Do you even know how to ‘pitch a tent’?”

“It’s figure-out-able.”

“What you really mean is that you’ll watch me do it…”

Pretty much. That is exactly what I mean. “No, what I mean is that it’s teachable.” 

“Ok,” he says. “But we’ll compromise on the camping. By at least half.”

“We’ll see,” I reply. Even though I know he’s right. And I quote, “I don’t know why you’re pretending not to like my idea’s when in the past you’ve told me you’ve always been glad that you’ve gone along with them.”

He smiles. I think he’s on to me. “It’s more fun that way…” he says.

I answer with silence.

Because I know… and because he knows…

Now, we’re getting somewhere. ;)

——————————————-

That story told, I can’t think of a better time to announce my next book… and show you guys the cover.

Readers asked. I listened…

I’m working on the follow up to Somewhere With You.

The sequel, Anywhere With You is set to release in the fall.

First though, a bit of research. :)

If you’re interested in real-time data… you can follow me on Instagram @msbritneyking

Adobe Photoshop PDF

Adobe Photoshop PDF

P.S. Many thanks to Lisa Jay for her work on the cover design. I sent her a mock up of what I wanted and less than 48 hours later we had a cover. Not only is she great— but she fit me into her very busy schedule and I appreciate both. She has worked on all six of my covers.

Three years gone.

“Before you can live a part of you has to die. You have to let go of what could have been, how you should have acted and what you wish you would have said differently. You have to accept that you can’t change the past experiences, opinions of others at that moment in time or outcomes from their choices or yours. When you finally recognize that truth then you will understand the true meaning of forgiveness of yourself and others. From this point you will finally be free.” ― Shannon L. Alder

Today marks three years since that horrible night I got the call that my teenagers found their uncle not breathing. Or in other words dead.

On this anniverary however (unlike others) I’m not sad. I think if anything my mood is one of acceptance. 

My brother was the funniest person I knew. Ask anyone who knew him and I’m pretty certain they’d say the same. He was wise and yet naive and he felt things, both happy and sad, very deeply. But mostly, he was just…funny. I know these are common sentiments to share after one dies— to remember the good and not so much any of the bad. But as a (very bossy) big sister I feel almost immune to that way of thinking. 

My brother was trusting—too trusting, and in part this killed him.  He relied on humor, and friends who weren’t really friends, often instead facing of hard truths. But that was just who he was. And I accept that even if I didn’t always like it. 

Which brings me to where I am today… 

Acceptance, for what is. Now, I know to hold those I love a little tighter, fight for things a little harder, but mostly, I have a healtier respect of what is important and what isn’t. Tomorrow isn’t promised to any of us. Yet we so often forget this.

Three years ago today a part of me died, too. And that part wasn’t just my only sibling. When I think of all the people, situations, and the unnessarary drama that appeared so vital before and after that phone call… I’m almost irritated at myself for not seeing what really mattered. It was a mistake I hope to not ever make again. At least not in that porportion.

I didn’t get to this place right away and there are many days where I don’t stay here. But I’d like to think I’ve taken the best lessons from both his life and his death to live the remainder of mine more intentionally. 
  

My favorite thing, this week. 

“Life is a mystery- mystery of beauty, bliss and divinity. Meditation is the art of unfolding that mystery.” ― Amit Ray

Today I’m away with my family but wanted to quickly post from my phone (which I often do) as a friend sent me something amazing—and I thought I’d share…because, well, it’s one of my favorite things this week.

I’ve written here several times (at least) about meditation and the importance it plays in my life. 

I find the science behind it fascinating…and that it helps with creativity and critical thinking.

Anyway, if you’ve ever considered meditation but are unsure about it this would be a great place to start. ;) 

http://youtu.be/92i5m3tV5XY

https://m.youtube.com/watch?sns=fb&v=92i5m3tV5XY

P.S.If you don’t watch the video this post is almost pointless. :) 
P.S.S. Two minutes. TWO MINUTES, is all it takes. If you’re not smiling after watching… you should probably check your pulse. Or meditate, for real. ;) 

When spy games are put to good use…

“You should always be taking pictures, if not with a camera then with your mind. Memories you capture on purpose are always more vivid than the ones you pick up by accident.” ― Isaac MarionWarm Bodies

Last week I wrote about using spy games I read about in a novel to teach my children about being aware of their surroundings…

This week, I had the unfortunate opportunity of finding myself putting these lessons to good use… and also learning about how life sometimes imitates art. 

I’m on my run when all of a sudden something feels very off. I feel the urge to remove my headphones and in my peripheral vision I see a car turn, pull over, and stop on the side street just behind me. A man gets out. As I look back, he’s frantically waving trying to get my attention. My mind slows. Everything slows. Something in his demeanor isn’t quite right. Also, he’s closer than I thought. He’s dressed like a realtor and I know they frequently stop here to put signs out. Let’s see if he’s that. He comes around from behind his car door. Nope. He’s not selling houses. A car is coming, so I can’t cross the street. I look forward and then backward. There are two runners a ways behind me down the street. Thankfully, they’re headed in my direction.

I remove an ear bud… He’s still waving his arms like he’s lost at sea and I’m his only hope.

His eyes flicker from side to side. And I don’t like what I see.

While running away seems like a good idea—turning my back to the man does not.

My guess is that he’s going to ask for directions. My guess was wrong. 

“I’m not trying to hit on you, I promise,” He calls out stepping forward.

That’s not my first concern and we don’t know one another well enough to be making promises, I think. 

He closes the gap between us. I back up and widen it. “Do you live in this neighborhood?”

I tilt my head slightly and offer up a blank stare. More distance. 

He pauses and holds his hands out. “I need help…” He looks at this car and back at me. “I need someone who lives in this neighborhood to come with me to the community center.”

I tell him I can’t help him. I put more distance between us. But I still don’t turn my back to him. He seems manic. I consider the distance between him and I, his car, and the runners down the road.

“I’m trying to rent the community center—but they say you have to be a resident here. So, I need someone to come with me.” He says hurriedly as he speaks as though what he’s asking is anything but atypical.

“I’m sorry, I can’t help you.” I say, although, I’m not sorry at all.

He puts his hands up and takes another step forward. “Look, I’m just trying to do something nice for my wife.” I notice he’s still trying to close the gap. Also, he pulled the emotion card. 

I’m not sympathetic. The other runners are getting closer now. I eye them, and he does too. I am lucky, I think.

I could be mistaken… but I think he thinks this, too.

“Well, I guess I’ll just keep pulling people over and until I find someone who will,” he smirks.

I team up with the other runners. He doesn’t leave right away, but he doesn’t ask for their help either.

Unfortunately, his car is parked at an angle and from where I stood (combined with my unwillingness to travel backward in his direction) it didn’t allow me to get a look at his plates…

Later, I call the sheriffs office. Unsurprisingly, I’m not the first to report the situation. The officer tells me I gave a good description. Better than what they’d had.

Which isn’t all that reassuring. But I guess better than other alternatives.

Also, I’m in need of a running partner. :(

Monday’s Lie.

“Sometimes it’s important to work for that pot of gold. But other times it’s essential to take time off and to make sure that your most important decision in the day simply consists of choosing which color to slide down on the rainbow.” ― Douglas PagelsThese Are the Gifts I’d Like to Give to You: A Sourcebook of Joy and Encouragement

Instead of my traditionally long posts, over the summer, I’ll be offering up brief snippets instead…

This week, my fifth novel released and early reviews look promising.

In an attempt to keep this short and sweet(?)….

I also learned the following:

  1. There’s almost nothing really food and a nap can’t fix. ;) A repeat lesson. I’d like to think I’ve got it now. :)
  2. Attempting to plan a trip for my large, multi-age, family is less easy than scheduling surgery for some of the busiest people on the planet. (I know, I did this in a former life.) This recent experience made me long for the days when life felt simpler (though I’m sure it probably wasn’t)—before my kids were grown up with lives and jobs and things that made being together in one place for an extended length of time rather difficult. But, like most things, not impossible…
  3. A method to teach my (younger) children some of greatest gifts I’ve ever learned: How to listen, stay present, and how to gauge people and situations effectively. The answer to this question came by way of a novel I’m reading titled, Monday’s Lie. Growing up the protagonist’s mother was a covert special ops agent who often played “spy games” with her children to teach them life lessons and more importantly, memory tricks. I’ve often pondered how to best to impart these lessons upon my kids— particularly in the day and age they’re growing up in— one that’s full of distraction and endless quick fixes. Who knew that playing spy games (with a point system!;) might be the answer? Another answer, of course, would be to lead by example.

And, so, for now, that’s all she wrote.

Hard truths & How to be happier. 

  

I’ve been considering the best way to write about this topic for a while now without sounding like an insensitive asshole…

And while one of those terms may very well be appropriate… the other is not. :)

One of the VERY best lessons I’ve learned in my life—that I’ve ever put into practice was to choose my friends and those I spend my time with VERY carefully. I’ve found that much of my happiness comes down to this one thing. People either fill you up or they drain you—and rarely is there middle ground. 

I’ll share a story… I have a friend whom I simply adore. This friend and I run in similar circles—but for the most part each have our own friendships outside of one another— and these usually do not cross. Over the past year I’ve noticed my friend growing increasingly unhappy. Moody, grumpy, withdrawn, down, low energy, [ insert adjective of choice.]  

As far as I am aware this change is not due any major life event. I am however aware that even though I adore this person, our “energies” don’t mesh well any longer. For a period of time I went into “fix it mode” which is almost always the wrong approach to take. :) 
One day we were at a party and I’m pretty sure I saw the light when I met some of this friend’s, friends. On not one but three separate occasions I figured out why my friend might be so unhappy. This persons friends were also miserablely unhappy.

And I don’t mean people who’ve had shitty luck or bad things happen to them. I’m also not suggesting that everyone be happy all the time. I’m certainly not. In fact, after I read my last few posts (while they were meant to be tongue in cheek) I thought, ‘girl, you need to get yourself to yoga.’ So I did. 

Anyway, when I say they were miserable…I taking about people who within five minutes of meeting them have pretty much told you the entirety of their crappy life situations. And unless you happen to be their therapist— I don’t know a world in which this is ok.
Being open is one thing. Being a drag and exhausting everyone who comes in contact with you is another. 

I also know people who get sick (literally ,physically, SICK) every time the holiday’s roll around and they have to spend time with certain family members. 

I know… because at one time, I used to be such a person. And here’s what I want to say about that: you may not be able to change who you’re related to— but you can change where and how you spend your time. 

These days, when I spend time in their presence they wait until I leave the room to behave in their normal fashion. Sure— it can be awkward but it’s amazing! And also not an energy drain. 

Because here’s the truth… I do not want to hear about the same things someone was complaining about five years ago. Things I might add that they have taken zero steps to change. 

People like this believe they are victims—when instead they are martyrs. 

Nor do I want to be a bad friend or a bad family member. I don’t want to be insensitive —but I also don’t want to play their game. 

And if you’re looking to be happier… you probably shouldn’t either. :) 

« Older Entries