Third Date Iceland

So I recently turned 53.  Shit.  I am knee deep in my 50s.  It’s a bit surreal being on this side of things.  Life is passing fast, it is hard to keep up.  But I have created such a beautiful life that it’s hard to stay in the moment as well.  New aches and pains, a new appreciation of quiet places….all have me feeling 50ish.  The age also comes with some amazing new features, the lack of fucks I have is beyond amazing.  I have been through the hardest of life’s experiences and come out stronger and better.  This side of 50 is also the part where we realize how fleeting it all is.  I waste no time on my dreams and aspirations.  I don’t spend a lot of time waiting and languishing, I act…fast.

Another very cool thing is that I have maturity.  And that maturity paired with the no fucks left attitude has brought on some new ideas and terminology.  One specific term I am absolutely loving is “lover”.  I have lovers now.  I don’t “hook up” or casually date.  That’s all so childish, and definitely NOT my style.  A lover just sounds so cosmopolitan and socially acceptable (though that’s not a concern, really).  Since becoming single about 5 years ago I have had a few.  Some were and are amazing men that just didn’t suit me for a long term relationship.  Some were very intentionally meant for short term companionship.  My goal is partnership but why not enjoy life along the way, right?  I met one such lover,  G, on an online dating app.  And while this story is more about my journey than it is about him, he is part of a moment in time that forever changed my brain chemistry.

Those that know me know that I come out of a neglectful, borderline emotionally abusive marriage.  Within that marriage, I was never told I was pretty, save for our wedding day and the night he got pretty intoxicated when the rapper ICE-T was in town.  He had backstage access so we went back to meet the rapper and his wife.  My husband yelled “Hey Ice-T, my bitch is hotter than yours!!!” to Mr. and Mrs. T.  To say I felt special….well….

There were never times that he took a picture of me or the family with me.  I am excluded from family pictures unless someone else snapped it.  Years of this can wreck a gals self esteem and self worth. While I do know that those both come from within, neglect from the one who is supposed to cherish you above all others can really do a number on your psyche.  

So this time I've been single has been a time of deep healing for me.  I have done the work of learning and unlearning myself.  I have done the therapy and shadow work and affirmations.  I can look in the mirror and see the strong beautiful woman I am.  I have come a long way, baby.  I have turned hatred for my body into body neutrality.  My body is the least interesting thing about me.  I wear a bikini unashamedly.  Fat rolls and belly scars out for all to see.  No fucks.  I adore myself. My self love game is titanium. 

Circling back to my lover.  G and I  matched on the dating app and began chatting.  He was engaging and interesting.  He travels for work and has an amazing perspective on life.  He, like me, has also done his healing work.  We connected instantly.  As we chatted, we realized we were across the country from each other.  His lives on the West Coast.  We agreed to keep the connection open as he travels close by often.  It wasn’t too far in that we realized we had something pretty cool in common.  We were both planning a trip.  To Iceland.  On the same days.  Kismet.  I was travelling with a friend and he was on his own.  We were both renting camper vans to traverse the country.  

Third date Iceland was in full effect.  We went to a geothermal spa.  We soaked in the hot springs, we drank wine, we dunked ourselves in the cold lake.  It was dreamy.  I wore a bikini, my first time in public with a man, belly and scars out.  I decided to power through being uncomfortable and nervous and just enjoy the moment.  Accept the blessing of this experience.  So I did and it was amazing.  We got slightly drunk and very giddy.  The horizon was a picture painted for only us.  It was the night before a full moon.  The sky was clear and a shade of blue I have only dreamed about.  I got lost in the moment, back turned to him, looking out on the scene we were being granted by the universe.  I was in awe.  I was mentally taking a picture of the moment and sitting fully in the feeling of expansiveness.  Forgetting all else I was brought back to myself by his voice.

“Stay right there.  You look amazing in that light.  You are framed perfectly.  Don’t move, I’m going to get my phone and get a few shots.”

“Of me?” I almost asked.  

He posed me and moved my hair.  He lined me up with the rocks and the sunset.  He took picture upon picture, telling me “this is it” after each one.  I am glad my back was to him.  I was crying softly and quietly.  I had done all this work on myself.  I knew my worth .  I knew my power and beauty.  But in that brief moment in Iceland, in my bikini, slightly drunk on wine.  I was affirmed.  I was seen.  I was appreciated for just being me, all of me.  I had never felt that in that way before.  My brain chemistry was forever changed. 

Before anyone comes to revoke my independent woman status, I know my worth comes from within, I know self love and don't NEED validation.  But as a cishet staight woman with a sex drive, it is most certainly nice to hear it from someone other than myself occasionally.

amy on the edge (1)

I have had lovers before and since meeting G.  Some were lovely men, for the most part.  I will have more lovers and more moments of feeling amazing.  And maybe there will be a day that I find someone that becomes more than a sometimes lover, someone to create a life with. Someone who takes my picture all the time.  But that moment in time, under the almost full moon, in a little town in Iceland, forever belongs to G and I will forever be grateful.

*photos by "G" and shared with permission

Memories of a Picture

There will never be a picture I write about more or that takes me down like this one.  I know it is going to pop up in my memories on Facebook every October and I know it will gut me.  Today was the day.  It is my favorite and my most traumatizing picture ever.  Whenever I see it, I am transported right back to that moment in time, it is visceral and raw.  It is a moment in time I will never forget.  I have written essays and poems already about this picture.  I doubt it will ever stop taking my breath away.

The picture itself is sweet and innocent.  It is my son at a pumpkin patch, at the top of a huge dirt pile.  He climbed to the top and threw his arms in the air, victorious.  It is a cool shot in and of itself with the sun beaming on the silhouette of him. It was taken on the day I realized I might die soon.

About two weeks prior, I was in the hospital, just having been diagnosed with Stage IV Colon Cancer.  I started chemo and was trying to figure out what life was going to look like in treatment.  I had been home resting all day, my son was at school.  He had been through it all alongside me.  Hospital visits, bad news, sick mom, a port poking out of my chest.  It was a lot of scary and sad stuff.  I just wanted to provide him some joy.  I wanted to see him laugh.

I was weak and tired, slightly nauseous but I went and picked him up early from school.  He was ecstatic to walk down the halls and leave while his friends were still in math class.  He giggled and kept asking where we were going.  He finally guessed the pumpkin patch as we pulled into the drive. 

I didn’t have a lot of money and the medical bills were piling up on me so this was a big splurge.  Those places nickel and dime the hell out of you.  I was determined to make sure he had a day full of joy so I whipped out the credit card and bought everything his little heart desired.  The tiny plastic apple full of cider, apple cider donuts, funnel cake, pony rides, petting zoo, everything.  He deserved it.

It quickly became overwhelming for me.  I had to sit down.  I tired easily and my body was weak from the chemo.  I found a chair next to the dirt pile and sent him on to play.  I sat and watched my sweet boy and cried behind my sunglasses.  The feeling still comes over me when I see the picture.  This was the exact moment that the severity of my diagnosis sunk in.  It was when I understood what Stage IV meant.  I might die.  I might leave this happy kid motherless.  I may never see him grow up.  As he climbed that hill, I sat alone and cried.  I painted a smile on my face as best I could.  I was unable to move for quite some time.  He got to the top and yelled for me to take his picture.  I did. 

He kept playing in the dirt and I started praying.  Well, more like bargaining.  Begging the universe to let me see him graduate high school.  Let me get him to adulthood.  Don’t take me from him yet.  The place was swarming with kids and families but I could only see him.  I was grateful for the sunglasses to hide my tears.  I watched him laugh and climb.  This wouldn’t be it.  It couldn’t be the last time I take him to the pumpkin patch.  This couldn’t be our last Halloween.  This isn’t how it was supposed to be.  He needed me.  My heart hurt, I felt like it was going to explode out of my chest.  He soon came off the hill to have a sip of his apple cider and move on to the petting zoo.  I pulled myself together. 

I can’t see that picture without feeling those feelings all over again.  No matter how far away from that day we get.  I type this and my heart feels like a weight in my chest.  I hear him in his room and I want to bust in and hug him and hold him.  This year the feeling is particularly powerful because he is a senior in high school and while I am currently No Evidence of Disease, I am never in the clear.  He is about to graduate and I begged the universe to let me see it.  What if the universe is about to collect?  I only bargained for his graduation.  I feel fine and have no reason to think my time is coming but my time has felt borrowed since that day. I am praying I am gifted many more years to see him become the man he is meant to be.  I am guessing my sunglasses will also come in handy graduation day as well. 


I have had to face the fact that I will always be the girl with a little stain on her shirt or tear in her pants. The one who posts on social media with misspelled words and horrible grammar. I will always have it mostly together but never all the way. And so it happens, I published a whole ass book with a big ass typo.

The book has been out since January and it took my son being bored and deciding to read it to locate the mistake. He showed me very late on a school night. We laughed and I thanked him for pointing it out. He went to bed and off to sleep, I sat up all night embarrassed and mortified. I kept it to myself for a day or so before I texted my publisher, Heather. I still haven’t mentioned it to anyone else, save a couple of friends. I can not believe that it slipped through several edits. I can’t believe I haven’t read my own book from cover to cover since it was printed. But, truth be told, I am tired of my story. I have moved so far past it that, other than readings and posts on social media, I don’t think about it much. Yes I want to sell my book, yes I want to have people read it. But damn, I am a whole other person now. A whole other person that didn’t catch a major fuck up.

But you know what? I am an only parent, raising a kid all alone. I work 40 plus hours a week. I maintain a home, a social life for both me and my son. I use my lunch breaks to drive him to and from school and various appointments and lessons and his work. I am teaching him to drive, we are looking at colleges. I grocery shop and walk a dog 23 times a day. I won't even go into hours spent on side hustles. And I am actively grieving the loss of my dad, who passed four days after the book's release. I am tired and overwhelmed on a daily basis. Something is always missing or coming up short. Heather is equally as busy and overwhelmed. So you know what? Fuck it. I wrote and published a book in the midst of a whole ass life. And it had a typo. I am still a writer. I am still a poet. I deserve love and grace, and nothing less.

I appreciate all who have read my story. I appreciate all who have moved past the mistake and not made an issue of it. I appreciate all who love me despite my little imperfections. It was an act of bravery to share my story and a true act of vulnerability to own my "oops."

That being said, we are printing a new, second edition, typo free. If you have the first edition, congratulations, it is now the collectors edition. You are welcome. The mistake free one is available at all online shops effective now.

So here is what we will do: Since September is my birthday month and I love to extend my birthday as long as possible every year, for the rest of the month, like this post, share it, and shoot me a message with the page number of the typo. On September 30, 2023 we will put all of the responses in a hat and draw a name. The winner will receive a signed copy of the book (whichever edition you would like) and a $25 Amazon gift card.

If I am anything I am human and so are you. We all deserve to be seen and cared for. We all fuck up, sometimes in little ways and sometimes in big embarrassing ways. But it is the human condition and it is also what makes us all perfectly imperfect. I have stopped apologizing for my humanness and I have stopped expecting anything other than authenticity from those around me. I am not sorry for the mistake. It took nothing from my story, if anything it proves my point, in adversity and trauma, you can still hold space for happiness and contentment.

I have come to realize that I will always be the girl with the stain on her shirt and misspelled Facebook posts. And that is just fine.