Messy Love: Are You a Definer or a Refiner?

Messy Love Definer or Refiner

Here’s an idea to play around with. The next time someone or something upsets you, ask yourself, “Does this define me or refine me?”

Why? Because your answer determines how you move through the experience and the baggage you carry afterward.

Let’s see what Webster has to say about these two words.

Define: to determine the limits or nature of; describe exactly.

Hmmm. “Determine the limits” seems pretty limiting. And “describe exactly” is a crazy-making quest. I don’t know about you but my life – and upsets – defy any exacting description. This defining business is feeling a bit tense.

Refine: to free or become free of impurities. To make or become more polished.

To “become free” and “more polished.” All right. I’m exhaling here. This feels like something I can grab hold of when grappling with an upset.

How a Defining Moment Becomes a Refining Moment. Stop. Ask the question. “Does this define me or refine me?” Make a conscious decision. Then proceed in the direction of your answer.

When my ex husband left to explore a relationship with another woman – back in the days of Bernadette’s Pages – you could say his act defined our marriage (failed), himself as a man (untrustworthy), and me as a wife (not good enough).

Failed. Untrustworthy. Not Good Enough. Now there’s a tidy package that determined “the limits or nature of” what happened between us. Had I accepted this view as my definer I would have gotten stuck, acting out patterns of betrayal, anger, resentment, bitterness, guilt, shame, remorse, confusion, mistrust, defensiveness … Read more

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Shades of Picasso

Shades of Picasso


So, today was supposed to be a writing day for the Messy Room blog and I realized, about an hour ago after the “rescue-kitty” dominos fell, that my ideal for the day wasn’t going to happen. As I maneuvered through the maze of closed doors to make the cat introductions – again – and set the pecking order ground rules – again – I thought, “Why do I have this mess in my house?”

No, Ray hasn’t moved out. WE still own this house. I say “my house” because the drama between these cats in this house is mine. And their infringement into my writing consciousness is mine. (Ray is happily painting in the studio of his house  – with Reesie, our somewhat feral kitty.)

I’m sure there is a classroom in here but not so sure about getting a passing grade on this one. I don’t know that I will ever overcome my predisposition to be “distractedly” overprotective when it comes to cats. (All right, people too.)

After a few frustrated tears and lassoing Ray on his way to refill his coffee cup, it hit me; this is exactly why I re-purposed this blog. Exactly why it is now “Musings from the Messy Room.” I don’t have to wow you with insights and such. I just have to show up with my mess. So here I am.

If you have a moral to the story – or a mess of your own to share – PLEASE jump in! And don’t trip over the cats.

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The Other Woman’s Stand-In

Purple Flower

Photo – Courtesy of Casa Dresden

  • Then & Now Project: The journey from “I do” to “I don’t” to “what now” is complicated. This project shares snippets from my book – taken from my journal then. These posts reveal pieces of the journey in a “that was then, this is now” format with my posting days matching journal entry days. (Sort of a time-fusion.) I hope this project focus will offer food for thought in your own life – whether you do, don’t or might. XO


Journal, April 4, 1994“The weirdest thing happened today. Lea and I went shopping so I could pick up some things for the house. We wound up at the new home store. We were hungry, so we stopped in their deli … While I was standing at the counter waiting for my food, this gal caught my eye. I felt drawn to her and, for some strange reason, the idea came into my head that she was Shelly. I started discretely checking her out … She was pretty. Trim in an athletic sort of way, with clear, radiant skin. It was quite unnerving. As I sat down to eat with Lea, I confessed my “obsession.” When we got up to leave, this gal did also. She directed a question about the store to me, making conversation. She was very pleasant and sweet. I thought, if this is Shelly, does she know who I am? I hadn’t found any pictures of her when I went through Ray’s stuff, so I was at a disadvantage. Real crazy thinking. I knew Read more

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