Category Archives: My Life

My on-going struggles with exercise, P90X, and trying to find my fit self.

We can’t work it out – Relationships end and that’s okay.

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So many blogs and articles exist telling people how to make relationships last forever. And that’s a good thing. Kind of. We’re taught from a young age that a relationship ending is a failure and keeping a marriage together for a lifetime is a success. Never mind that grandma wasn’t allowed to pursue her dream of becoming a doctor because grandpa didn’t want a working wife or that your best friend lies lonely in his marriage bed every night because his wife won’t touch him or that your mother consistently turned a blind eye to your father’s affairs because the marriage was more important.

It’s time to recognize the truth that some relationships are meant to last a lifetime and some relationships are not. By teaching people that relationships are work, we’re telling them that they need to find a way to keep the relationship together even when it isn’t serving them anymore. I know someone who was in a marriage for over twenty years, despite being controlled, ignored, and abused because she was taught that marriage is forever and if it isn’t, it’s because you’re doing something wrong.

I have spent way too long in nearly all of my relationships, trying to work things out when I didn’t feel cherished or desired or adored. And though I think all relationships have some value in that they help us grow into who we are (or teach us what we definitely don’t want) I think some of my time could have been better spent if I had left when the relationship wasn’t contributing to my well-being instead of spending fruitless time trying to work things out.

Instead of putting out yet another how to work it out article, I’m going to talk about when to cut and run. Remember, you can’t open your life to happiness if you’re spending all of your time trying to mash an unhappy relationship into something that it will never be.

 

When to leave:

 

  1. When you have doubts. Lots of them. I used to argue with myself constantly about whether or not the relationship I was in was right for me. If you are having to cajole yourself into staying in a relationship, it’s time to leave.
  2. You have to process the relationship with your friends. If you are having to talk to your friends regularly to help understand why your relationship is causing you so much grief, it might be time to leave. A good relationship will still have things to work out, but they can be worked out between the partners.
  3.  You don’t feel respected. This is a given. If your partner doesn’t respect your time, boundaries, needs, it is time to go.
  4. You aren’t attracted to your partner or they aren’t attracted to you. Sex is important in a love relationship and if you aren’t attracted to your partner, you are doing them a disservice by not setting them free to find someone who is. (Side note: It’s important to understand that some people are okay with not having a physical relationship and some people stay in long term intimate relationships while having sexual relationships with others and a billion other different aspects of human sexuality but in this particular instance, I am talking about a monogamous relationship in which one partner wants to be sexual and the other doesn’t find them attractive.) That was a mouthful, but it is important to note. It is hard to stay confident and body positive in a love relationship with someone who does not find your body appealing. Conversely, being with someone who craves and desires you is one of the most sexually liberating feelings in the world.
  5.  You don’t feel supported, nurtured, and cherished.
  6.  You don’t feel like supporting, nurturing, and cherishing your partner.
  7.  You lie to your partner. If you find yourself hiding aspects of yourself because your partner will react badly, or because you don’t trust them to love you as you are, it is either time to lay everything on the table, or move on.
  8.  You’re being abused. Don’t settle for abuse. Not once. If someone hits you, kicks you, pinches you in a way that hurts, it is time to leave.
  9. Your partner is mean in fights. All couples have disagreements. But if your partner calls you names when they are angry at you, it’s time to move on.
  10.  You fall in love with someone else. It’s heartbreaking, but sometimes, when you’re in the wrong relationship, you meet the right one. The moment you realize this has happened, unless you are in an open relationship and intend to stay that way, it is time to break up with the other.

Whatever you do, the most important thing to remember is that a break-up doesn’t mean you have failed. We try different things at different times in our lives. We aren’t expected to stay with the same career our entire lives, so why should we be expected to stay with the same relationship. Sometimes it works for us, and sometimes it doesn’t. If you are unhappy in your relationship and you and your partner aren’t both actively working together to change that, maybe it’s time to move on and free up the space for better things to enter your life.

 

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Excerpt from Conference Call

This is the excerpt from my short story in the Bella Books anthology “Conference Call.” All of the proceeds from this anthology go to benefit the Golden Crown Literary Society. If you want the rest of the story, buy the book – available July 20th here.

It was an affair. It was a tawdry affair between two women who should have known better. That’s what we all thought. We watched it happen at the Golden Crown Literary Society conference in DC. There was a palpable energy between them that the most sensitive of us noticed immediately. We sat in the lobby with our coffee, water, and breakfast sandwiches and watched as Maddie walked past the registration desk. Her eyes scanned the room and we held our breath, wanting her gaze to fall on us, to pick us out of the crowd. Maddie moved through the conference with the grace and confidence of someone who felt at home at the con and we all watched her. But Justine sat up like a prairie dog and Maddie’s eyes landed on her. Time froze, or we did, as the electricity between the two of them exploded into a million pieces in front of us.

Justine stood and crossed the room, her eyes locked on Maddie as she walked. They hugged and somehow, we all felt the press of their bodies, felt the way their arms wove around each other, their hips pressed together. From that second on, we were invisible. We sat in on their author readings and we went to their panels, but we were invisible. Oh, Maddie still smiled and laughed with us, and she answered our questions, but her mind was always somewhere else. When Justine walked in the room, a lightning bolt of energy sizzled between them and the rest of us disappeared. Though Maddie would turn back to talk to us, a secret smile remained, and we knew Justine had somehow touched a part of her that no one else ever had.

We stood next to them at the lunch buffet, watching as they carefully didn’t touch. Their bodies craned toward each other until they caught themselves and rearranged the space between them to an appropriate distance. We could feel the pull as they found seats next to each other at a table. They made conversation with people nearby but their arms somehow kept touching or they bumped hands as they ate.

We whispered words like adultery and cheating and homewrecker. It was an affair and we didn’t approve. We heard whispers that Justine was emotionally abused at home and we nodded righteously. Justine was married and we didn’t care how unhappily. She should leave first. There’s no excuse for adultery.

Maddie was partnered and we didn’t know if there were long, lonely nights crying in bed. It didn’t matter. It was an affair. That’s what we all thought. But we watched them laugh together at shared jokes no one else found funny. We felt the emotion underneath the attraction. It was starting to look like something more.

We saw them standing close, heads bent together, having a quiet, intense conversation. Justine blinked out a tear and Maddie brushed it away softly, her fingers lingering on the smooth skin of Justine’s cheek. They didn’t see us, though we passed quite close.  Love of my life, we thought we heard one of them mutter. We overheard them talking several times, and we marveled at the conversations. I’ve never felt so accepted in my life. I can’t remember ever being so heard.
We sat behind them at the movie and watched the way their shoulders touched as they leaned together. We nudged each other knowingly when Maddie put her arm around Justine, secure perhaps, in the invisibility of the darkened room. We ended up at the same table during karaoke and we watched the ways their eyes flicked toward each other whenever someone butchered a particularly sappy love song. We heard the sighs, we saw the longing, and we felt the pain and ecstasy. We started to smile at them during master classes and some of us were whispering the word love.

One day we walked behind them through the garden path of the hotel, and we saw their hands come together. Their fingers entwined and they looked at each other. For a second our hearts stopped. We questioned our own lives. We wondered if it could happen to us. We thought about our own long lonely nights and bitter tears. We remembered the deep love we felt for the friends and partners we’d met at the conference. We touched the hands of our lovers and smiled, wondering if Maddie and Justine felt what we felt. We wondered if they had experienced that jolt, that moment of recognition. We remembered the instant we had looked into each other’s eyes and knew that somehow, after all of the years of feeling out of sorts, we finally felt the last piece of the puzzle slipping naturally into place. We looked at their faces and thought, if only for a minute, that just maybe they were feeling the same thing we felt when we knew we had finally found the one.

It was an affair. That’s what we all thought.

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Eating Life Promo

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June 28, 2017 · 6:36 pm

Da Capo al Fine – Guest blog by Ann McMan

The always entertaining, thoughtful, and brilliant Ann McMan

Wonder Boi Writes

Hey Friends,

Today my good friend Ann McMan has done me the honor of writing a guest blog about her new release, Goldenrod and her journey back to Jericho! What follows are her unedited words, so read on, but when you’re done, be sure to click one of the many links to take you to your own copy of Goldenrod.

Da Capo al Fine – Guest blog by Ann McMan

Many years ago, the great Joni Mitchell commented on one of the frustrations that dogged her throughout her career as a songwriter. She talked about how fans would clamor for her to keep telling the same stories or writing the same kinds of songs—and she marveled at how this repetitive feedback was absent from her work as an artist. “A painter does a painting and he does a painting,” she said. “Somebody buys it and hangs it on some…

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Eating Life excerpt

Eating Life CoverLater, as they were lying in bed eating yogurt and granola, Anna asked Brilliant why she always laughed when she reached for the dildo.

“I never told you that story?”

“Come on,” Anna said. “I want to hear it.”

Brilliant opened her mouth and Anna obliged by spooning some yogurt in. Clearing her throat, Brilliant straightened up a bit, stretching one long leg over Anna’s thigh. “Columbus Gay Pride, 1996. I was there with a hot butch mechanic.”

“I forgot you date butches, too,” Anna said, smiling. “Is that weird?”

“I like women, Anna. Butch or femme or, like me, something in between.”

“I don’t have a problem with that. It’s just strange to picture you with anyone that isn’t me,” Anna replied.

“Yeah, imagine how I feel,” Brilliant said.

“We made a pact that we wouldn’t talk about Megan,” Anna said, shifting slightly away from Brilliant.

“I’m sorry. I keep breaking the rules. First I fall in love with you. Then I start a dialogue about your partner. Next thing you know, I’ll be asking you to leave her.”

“That can’t happen,” Anna said. “And I don’t want to have a dialogue about it.”

“Everyone leaves me, Anna. Everyone. My parents, my grandparents, my brother. Why don’t you just promise to stay with me?”

Anna glared. “Why don’t you start dating women who are unattached?”

Brilliant sighed. “I don’t know. Maybe I would rather date someone I know is going to disappoint me than put my trust in someone and be let down again.”

“Are we going to process your bad relationship choices all day?” Anna asked.

“We’re lesbians, Anna.” Brilliant grinned. “We process everything.”

Anna leaned over and tweaked one of Brilliant’s nipples. “Process this,” she said.

“Ahem. Continuing my story,” Brilliant said, pulling Anna snugly against her. “Gay Pride. Some dude in a leather thong was walking around selling raffle tickets.”

“Okay.” Anna giggled. She dipped her finger into the yogurt and smeared a bit on Brilliant’s nipple. Leaning down to lick it off, she motioned for the rest of the story.

“Of course I bought a few. They were only a dollar. I had no idea what they were for, but I couldn’t resist a man in a leather thong selling raffle tickets for a dollar apiece. It was so stereotypical gay pride.”

“I can see that,” Anna said, releasing the nipple. “So, what happened?”

What happened? Pre-order Eating Life on Amazon or ask for it at your favorite local bookstore and find out

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New Year’s Resolutions

This year, I will not make any resolutions that imply I am anything other than perfectly wonderful just the way I am. I will not make any resolutions meant to make me feel bad about myself, nor will I make any sweeping pronouncements about how I want to be thinner, smarter, better, more.

This year, I won’t make any New Year’s resolutions that aren’t expressly intended to make me or my loved ones feel good about themselves.

This year, I resolve to practice self-care. This year, I’d like to treat my body with loving care. I want to spend more time at the farmer’s market and less time at big box stores. I would like to walk more, bike more, eat more vegetables. I would like to spend more time dancing. I want to save the money for a few pedicures. I want to make sure my sex life stays fresh and loving and invigorating. I want to sleep soundly. I resolve to hug my dog daily. I resolve to spend more time playing with my cat.

This year, I want to connect more. I resolve to send more paper letters. I want to reach out to someone who hasn’t heard from me in a long time. I would like to smile at more people. I want to compliment strangers. I want to tell my friends when they are wonderful and let it go when they are not. I want to appreciate the people who love me. I want to continue to be grateful for calling a partner into my life who loves me and shows me in a billion different ways. This year, I want to talk to my mother more often. I’d like to have more women come to my house for talks and coffee and shared breakfasts. I’d like to touch my friends more, hold their hands, hug them, ask them if they are lonely, or if they are living their dreams. I want to help people who need help.

This year, I want to spend time focusing on my career. I want to finish my fourth novel and start my fifth. I would like to submit at least one more short story this year than last. I want to find ways to market my self-love classes to a wider audience. I would like to network with other writers and teachers. I want to find a job teaching online with a college or university.

This year, I would like to stress less about paying bills. I don’t want to buy more stuff, but I would like to be able to pay the electric bill and my mortgage in the same week. I don’t want to be rich, but I want to be unafraid of where the next groceries are coming from. This year, I want to put some effort into making enough money that I can make decisions about spending, rather than reactions. This year, I’d like to make enough money that I can donate some of it to causes that touch my heart.

This year I want to stay informed about political decisions that can harm myself and my family without letting the news drag me into a depression. I want to act to protect myself and my loved ones without allowing myself to be silenced about that which is important to me.

This year, I want to be myself. I want to do what I want to do. I want to follow the calling of my own soul. This year, I resolve to be proud of myself. I resolve to follow my dreams. I want to love freely and live openly.

This year, I will cherish what I have, rather than pursue what I don’t.

Happy New Year.

 

 

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Dear Men

HI Guys,

You’ve let me down again. I’m not actually surprised. I’ve been trying to make peace with you for most of my life and I know how fruitless it is.

I’ve tried to tell you that I’m inviting violence every time I interact with one of you, simply because I was born in a female body. I’ve tried to explain that more women are killed in genocide worthy numbers by men. I’ve told you that almost every single woman I know has been raped or hit or grabbed or kicked or beaten. And the ones that haven’t been physically hurt have still been the victims of verbal assaults. I’ve tried to make you understand that women are under siege in this world.

I’ve even tried to make it personal by explaining that I’m afraid. That I’ve been a victim of your violence and that you scare me. And I’ve asked you to please listen and understand that it is our whole culture that contributes to you feeling as if you own women, that we owe you something.

I’ve tried to show you the news articles about men who kill women who say no to a date or to sex. The one where the man slammed his fist into a woman’s vagina and eviscerated her intestines. The one where the woman was beaten nearly to death, then set on fire and then managed to crawl to a road where she was found and hospitalized and lived for several days in unbearable agony until she finally died. The one where the guy asked a woman to marry him and she said no so he shot her. The one where a woman had acid thrown in her face because she said no. Male violence.

I’ve even learned to control my words, to say them in nicer ways because your feelings get hurt when I just tell the truth. So I sugarcoat my sentences. I start by saying, “I know not all men rape, but can we please talk about the ones that do?” or I say, “I know *you* care about this. So maybe you can help me understand why you’re the only one.”  Even when I sugarcoat my words, you still get upset and shout me down and yell about not all men. And you call me an angry feminist and you try to invalidate what I have to say by calling me too sensitive. I’ve learned that men are more concerned about their feelings than they are about the fact that the women in their lives are in danger every time they leave the house. (And even when they don’t.)

But now something has happened that affects you, too. We have a man in the white house who has gleefully admitted to sexually assaulting women. We have a rapist misogynist in the white house. I know that’s not enough to alarm you. But he is also threatening immigrants and people of color and the LGBT community and those on medicaid and the poor. And the things about that is that those groups include a lot of men.

And even though you have let me down repeatedly and even though I have never seen you share statistics about violence against women and even though you didn’t speak out when I was trying to get you involved in the fight against female genital mutilation and even though you didn’t answer when I asked you to talk to me about male violence and the cultures that create it, I am still going to stand with you when your group is targeted. When your group, whatever it is, is the next on the block, I am going to be there, trying to help. Because even though you have let me down and you’ve refused to help me and you are part of the biggest wave of violence against any one group in history, I believe we still have a chance to work together.

Let me know if you need some pointers on surviving a ubiquitous enemy. I have years of practice.

 

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What Rape Culture Teaches Women

Women learn at any early age that we need to put up barriers to try to protect ourselves. We learn to be aware of our surroundings when we are alone. We learn to hold our keys between our fingers. We learn to look behind us. We learn to lock our car doors as soon as we get in. We learn to try to not be alone with a strange man. We learn to control the way we dress. We learn to keep our heads down and ignore the calls when men scream at us on the street. We learn to try to sit or stand in a protected position on subways and buses so as not to be grabbed. We learn to lock our bedroom doors. We learn to install safety lights. We learn to go in pairs to any place where we can be a victim, which is every place. We take self-defense classes. We buy mace. We learn to shoot. We learn to find safety in women’s spaces. We learn body language that might indicate we are in danger. We learn that when we talk about these things, we are being alarmist or hurting men’s feelings.

We learn that no matter how many of these things we learn, it won’t be enough. We are raped, assaulted, beat up, grabbed. We are kissed against our will. Our hair is pulled on the playground and we are told that boys will be boys. We learn that a man can brag about sexually assaulting women by grabbing their pussies and people will still proudly proclaim their support for him because boys will be boys. We learn that being raped is our fault, even when we try to say it isn’t, because people like Brock Turner rape women and still, the main fear is that the poor boy’s life will be ruined. Women learn that our lives do not have value. If you have been raped or assaulted or attacked, and if you are a woman, chances are, you have, please know that I, at least, know that it is not your fault. I know this because whether you were drinking or you were wearing a short skirt or you left your bedroom door unlocked or you forgot to look behind you when you stepped into the parking garage, you are not at fault. You are not at fault because this society has determined that you do not deserve to have autonomy over your own body because it was born female.

We are under siege and the war is being be perpetrated by males. Women learn that men who claim to be good men aren’t really good when they refuse to speak out against male violence. Women learn to protect each other or we learn to build walls around each other in an effort to try to protect ourselves.

Women learn and continue to learn and we grow and evolve and we develop more elaborate security measures and in the end, it all comes to shit, because we are not teaching men and boys that women’s bodies do not belong to them, that there is no such thing as a friend-zone, that rich, white boys who rape unconscious women are violent criminals who deserve to do hard time, that men who brag about grabbing women’s pussies are rapists.

We learn that your silence about these things means that we can’t trust you. This is rape culture.

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You are Worth the Work

All relationships require work, don’t they? There are moments of pure joy and moments of tearful recriminations. The best relationships aren’t great because there is no conflict, but because both parties make a point of being kind to each other, to keeping open communication, setting boundaries, engaging, being passionate about and for each other.

But that takes work and sometimes the work is hard. And sometimes, you have to ask yourself whether the work is worth it.

A relationship with yourself requires the same commitment. Your own self-esteem, self-love, all of that takes work. And it’s a process. Sometimes, I feel I go through months of feeling on top of the world, proud of myself and all of my accomplishments, sure that I am living the dream, looking in the mirror every day and telling myself how awesome I am…. and sometimes, I feel I’m a half a step away from losing my mind, and just getting out of bed and changing clothes feels like a gigantic step forward.

Self-love is a process. It’s not a straight line, it’s a never-ending spiral. You’ll keep  coming back to the same problems, the same issues, the same old recordings you play back in your head. The times you were abused or insulted or made to feel less than. Self-love works to dig out those old recordings, but sometimes, the tools learned through self-work really don’t erase the tapes. They simply give us a way to hit pause when they keep coming back around.

My classes aren’t about fixing you because you aren’t broken. Even if you think you are, I promise that you aren’t. My classes are about giving you the tools you need to move forward into your own self-work… they’re about teaching you that learning to love yourself isn’t a far away dream. It’s real and it’s attainable and it’s worth it. It is so worth it.

Come join me on Monday, August 8th at 8 PM EST for a six week course on self-love. We’ll address abolishing negative self-talk, overcoming fear and self-doubt, setting healthy boundaries, and so much more.

 

Email me at bethburnett70@yahoo.com for more information.

 

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What To Expect When You’re Expecting … To Go To the Con

(This is not an official GCLS communique. These brilliant ramblings belong solely to the warped, but lovely mind of me, Beth Burnett  and do not necessarily reflect the views of GCLS, but most certainly align with Carleen Spry and her travel monster baby. <See GCLS Facebook page>)

 

The GCLS annual conference is an epic adventure with hundreds of women gathering to discuss books, writing, reading, the benefits of hiking boots over Birkenstocks, and so much more.

We offer panels and master classes with some of the most beloved authors in lesbian fiction. There are lunches and dinners and ice cream socials and karaoke and a theme night. Not to mention the awards show and dancing.

The conference is a wonderful time and for some women, a chance to be out and proud among hundreds of lesbians…. a chance to be themselves, some for the first time. It can be the most incredible, eye-opening experience ever. And it can be totally overwhelming.

It helps to know what to expect and it helps to have some coping tools just in case the awesomeness becomes a wee bit too much.

  1. If this is your first con, come to the con virgins meeting. It is a smaller group and is intended to give a fun introduction to the other new attendees and the board.
  2. Go to panels and presentations and classes that pique your interest. Anyone is welcome to attend any panel or class. You will meet others who are interested in the same things.
  3. If you have never written a novel, or if you have written a novel but never published a novel, or you have written and published ten novels, you are a person. No one is above anyone else, no one holds more weight than you. Our members are *all* a part of the wonder that is GCLS and we need you all.
  4. Introverts unite! If you’re nervous about getting to meet people, contact Aschlie Lake at aschlie.lake@goldencrown.org to volunteer. She is a genius at putting people into jobs they love and with which they feel comfortable.
  5. People are really willing to help. Look for board members (we wear special ribbons on our name tags) if you are feeling lonely or overwhelmed or if you have any questions.
  6. Remember that even some who have been going to con for years can feel shy or awkward. Don’t be afraid to reach out to someone who looks as if they are sitting alone.
  7. Take some down time. Go to your room, find a quiet corner, go sit on the grounds, put on some headphones and walk on the treadmill in the hotel gym. Down time is important for recharging.
  8. Self-care is sexy! (And very important!) Take care of you. If you need help and advice on how to do that, come see the presentation by myself and author Karen Richard on Self-Care for Writers and those who love them.
  9. Expect to regret that you won’t get to go to everything you want to attend! We offer a very full program to appeal to as many people as possible and there will be times where you want to be in two or three places at once. Just remember you can always come back next year!
  10. Lastly, just be yourself. We are all a little weird, we are all a little awesome. Be you and find your people.

 

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