Tuesday, October 9, 2018

Forgiven--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Wednesday, July 3

     “Brenda. I hope you are all enjoying a great week up there,” JB texted.

     “I've forgiven you,” I replied. “I pray for you, too. But I don't want you in my life beyond what is absolutely necessary.”

     “I will try to respect that. I am grateful for your prayers and forgiveness. Every day I wish for you to be happy.”

    I bought a jet ski battery. The old one won’t keep a charge. Blake and I’ll install it tomorrow. I laid on the dock and read a book.

Saturday, October 6, 2018

Within--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Sunday, June 30

     We jet skied, shot the compound bow, and I went for a three-mile run down pine-lined roads before grilling steaks for dinner. It was a perfect day, except for JB’s texts.

     “Hi. I hope you are all having fun and good weather up there. I hope you will give my email some thought. I want peace.”

     “Peace and happiness come from within,” I texted.

     “I know all too well now I am trying,” he replied. “I need to try harder. Maybe it's too soon, but I am going to come to you periodically seeking your forgiveness.” 

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Having Fun?--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Saturday, June 29

     Blake and Chad were charging the jet ski battery, drinking beer, and smoking cigars by the lake when Tom and I arrived at the cabin. Seeing Blake smoke and drink for the first time made me feel uneasy then disturbingly sad that I’d never have a drink with him. I began thinking about the times I got drunk with my dad on that pier. The heart-to-heart conversations. The laughs.

     “Are you having fun?...silly question, I'm sure you are,” Golf Guy texted.

Saturday, September 29, 2018

Hot--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Friday, June 28

     My cousin, Cindy, rode with the boys and me to Edie’s cemetery funeral. Edie’s pastor and three people from her church were the only ones there besides my mom, my aunts Lori and Tess, and another cousin. Edie’s two daughters didn’t come. It was warm, sunny, and we stood under a shady tree next to Edie’s casket. It was sadly beautiful.

     “How are u?” Golf Guy texted while we were at the luncheon.

     “Gorgeous day. You've got to be loving it. Crazy busy?”

     “Not crazy today, left a little bit ago, now running errands.”

     “Gotta run errands too. Typical I leave stuff till last minute.

     “We are the same...but you are way hotter.”

     ‘I think you're hot.”

     “I think you need glasses, but thanks.”
     I’d planned to leave for Minocqua today but will leave tomorrow instead. Blake invited his friend, Chad, to vacation with us, and those two are headed up today.

Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Fireflies--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Thursday, June 27

     Yosef, in town from California, met me at the Kabbalah Center this morning.
     “I feel like I’m falling down a lot,” I told him. “My thoughts and emotions toward JB, they’re not God-like, and I’ve been beating myself up.
     “That’s typical,” Yosef said. “We are human. The bar constantly changes. There are always new challenges. The more spiritually fit we get, the greater the challenges become. I’m moving back to Israel and you’ll be getting a new teacher.”
     My heart sank. I walked out of Yosef’s office and passed Mac on his way in. Mac was going to be told the same thing. He and I got to be friends during Good Morning Kabbalah classes. I like Mac. I like his company. It feels like he may be romantically interested in me and while I’m not romantically interested in him, I’m trying to stay open to it. It’s weird considering guys as possible love interests. Angie was in the lobby waiting for me and we went out for brunch.
     “I’ve been in a funk over a guy I’ve been dating,” Angie said glumly. “He seems interested but not interested at the same time.”
     “Like Golf Guy," I said. "I met him after a Good Morning Kabbalah class and thought it was a sign.” I laughed. “I’m pretty sure he’s not good for me. Maybe he’s on my path to teach me discernment, listen to my gut. It’s just, I’m physically attracted to him and I’m not attracted to that many guys. I don’t know. There’s not much I do know these days.”

     I wrote for a while then checked email.

     “Brenda,” JB wrote.
     “I hope you and the boys have a great week up in Minocqua. I'll plan on picking up Tom sometime in the morning on the 6th. Will confirm the day before.
     “I hope one day soon we can sit down and talk.
     “I believe bringing peace back to this family will be good for all of us. I want to find a way to get there. There is no getting around that this will require a combination of my humility and your forgiveness. 
     “I am working on being a kinder and more empathetic person. I am trying to be honest, which isn't easy when I have so much to be ashamed of. But I know that I need to stop lying to myself and others.  I also understand that selfishness and narcissism were at the root of my behavior, and these qualities are a part of me as well. I need to confront and manage them every day. I don't want to be the person who destroyed our marriage and family. 
     “You need to believe that my desire to make amends is sincere. I am open to your suggestions on what you require to forgive me. 
     “Please think this over.”

     I don’t want to sit down with JB and talk to him. I want to be done with him. I saddled up BlackJack and rode in the woods. It was dusk when we turned back and the fireflies were out. Jack and I galloped through the green glowing luminaries. It was magnificent.

       “How are u?” Golf Guy texted as I was getting ready for bed.

     “Galloped through the fireflies on the trail tonight. Pure magic. The stuff you live for, you know? How are you?”

     “That's amazing! You must have loved it.”

     “The church of Brenda.”


     “You have a good day?”

     “Long but good...worked straight from 7-8:30.”

     “Wow. Exhausted or wired right now?”

     “How did u know...both What are u up (sic) this weekend?”

     “Going to Minocqua with the boys. Coming back the 5th. What are you doing next weekend?”

     “No plans yet”

     “Want to do something before I fly to NC to hang out in the mountains with the shaman?”


     “What should we do?”


     “Okay. What else?”

     “I was joking, whatever you want”

     “I wasn’t" 

     “Maybe play nine holes at Strawberry Creek, then dinner?”

     “I'd love that. Saturday or Sunday?”

       “Prob Sunday”

       Bet he cancels.

Saturday, September 22, 2018

Pilgrimage--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Monday, June 24

     I watched a video on finding your soulmate that Yosef recommended. Here’s what it said.

     —Relationships provide us with opportunities to create unity with others and transform ourselves.
     —We need to go beyond our five senses when choosing someone. How does this person carry himself in the world? Is there passion, excitement? Is there only imagination or is there consciousness for achievement?
     —Don’t look at the potential of a person, look at what is.
     —Falling in love fades. True love is the byproduct of work. 
     —We don’t get our soulmates each lifetime but that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t have a relationship. Our relationship should help us grow and achieve our divine purpose. If the other person is not where we are spiritually, that needs to be addressed. It will not go away. Our relationships exist to move us along. They are not there to provide comfortable complacency.
     —A true soulmate is a very difficult relationship. We are brought together to really work something through. The sign of a true soulmate is that it feels like a virtual ocean has been or must be crossed to be with that person. How is it possible that I should be with this person?
     —A soulmate relationship moves us to a higher spiritual goal.
     —Being physically together is not the glue. Being apart shouldn’t matter. You should still be fueling each other to grow, develop, and strengthen the partnership.
     —The relationship should help build unity in all other relationships, not create distance and selfishness for the love relationship.
     —A falling-in-love relationship can be like a drug. It may briefly fulfill you in one area but not long term. And it hurts other areas of your life.
     —Have no expectations or conditions on the other person. When we have expectations, we give our power away to the other person. We put ourselves in the backseat and hope the other person will drive where we want to go.
     —Don’t look for someone to complete you. Soulmates have the same work to do. We help each other transform. We don’t look for someone to do the work for us.
     —No matter what, we are the cause. Even if we have a signed agreement with someone and that person doesn’t live up to it, we created the space for that to happen. We are not victims. We have choices about how to deal with situations.
     —Always be giving. Give because it elevates our consciousness. We’re not to keep track of how much we give and how little the other person gives. There are right ways to give and wrong ways to give. But give because it makes us grow.
     —A physical relationship develops as the result of a spiritual connection. You do the work before getting physical. You know it will work before getting physical. Most people start with the physical and think everything should work out. No. You put the work in first and see what’s there.

     I sat for a long time letting that sink in. Then I checked email.

     “I'm not supposed to share these emails, but I would love for you to join me the weekend of August 30 to share this experience,” Lila wrote. “I CAN'T WAIT to see you in a couple of weeks!!”

     Below, Lila forwarded this.

     Dearest Devine Friends:

     Warm and loving greetings to you from the Auspicious Tour Department. We hope all of you are well, enjoying the start to summer, and each day feeling more and more committed to your spiritual paths!

     We are happy to announce that our Beloved Master Shaman, Don Pedro, will be returning in late August for the Fall Pilgrimage, and you are all cordially invited to participate in the Sacred Ceremonies and Pujas that he will be sharing with us during this time. 

     Ceremonies will be taking place on August 30th, August 31st, September 13th, September 14th, September 20th and September 21st, and space for each of these is available by pre-registration only. Pujas will be taking place daily throughout the Pilgrimage, and are open to the community.  

     Many of you have already partaken in Sacred Ceremony and Puja with Don Pedro, and have experienced his grace, love and inspiration of the Divine. Having Don Pedro join us again in our community is a blessing and an opportunity to keep advancing in our spiritual paths. Our Beloved Shaman, his Sacred Medicine, and the prayerful devotion he shares during Puja are a great support in the eternal quest for self realization.

     Those of you who are new to this work, we invite you to join us in this transformational and profound experience.  Please read everything carefully, and let us know any questions that may arise.

     Please note, each Sacred Ceremony does not end until the following morning upon completion of the integration circle and lovingly prepared breakfast. Your commitment to stay through until after breakfast is mandatory. In this way, you will receive the most profound benefits from the retreat, ensuring a good integration, and a good work for you and for the rest of the participants. Don Pedro will continue sharing a Divine vibration throughout all this time, so we can take advantage of this precious opportunity!

     Accommodations: You are welcome to sleep in the ceremony space at no additional cost.  Private accommodations are available at an additional cost.  For those who would like to camp on the land, we are asking for a donation of $5-10/night. Single dorm rooms, for $48/night, are available on a limited first come/first serve basis. There are also Private cottages starting at $350/weekend, and if interested, we will assist you to make this reservation.

     Yours in very loving service,
     Auspicious Tour Department

     “I want to do the pilgrimage,” I emailed Lila. “Give them my information.”

     “You won't believe how wonderful Don Pedro is!” Lila responded.

Wednesday, September 19, 2018

Weezer--"Thank You Ashley Madison" excerpt

Saturday, June 22

     My mother called to tell me Aunt Edie died. My mom had visited Aunt Edie in Tennessee a few days ago. She’d driven Aunt Lori and Aunt Tess to Aunt Edie’s retirement home and they'd spent a day visiting her. Aunt Edie had begged them to stay longer.
     “We said everything there was to say,” my mother said. “Edie kept saying, ‘Don’t go. You can sleep on the floor of my apartment.’ Can you imagine us sleeping on her floor? Like we would do that? We said everything there was to say. You know how she was. She didn’t say much. It was time to go and we left.”
     I hung up and cried. 
     A couple hours later, I pulled myself together and took Tom to a free Weezer concert celebrating the opening of a Microsoft store at an enormous suburban shopping mall. Concert goers had been lining up since last night to get wristbands for early entry to the parking lot stage. The earliest birds got special wristbands for a meet-and-greet with the band. Tom and I parked, walked over to the stage, and stopped outside the guardrails. A guy wearing a Microsoft shirt walked over.
     “You want a couple of wristbands?” he asked.
     “That would be great,” I said.
     He handed me two. One was a metallic copper-colored one. “That one will get you in to see the band,” he said. “Put them on and go in. Don’t tell anyone I gave them to you.”
     “Thanks!” I said.
     Tom was grinning the biggest smile I’d ever seen on his face. I put the regular wristband on Tom and the metallic one on me. We entered the enclosure and were handed Microsoft beach towels and had our pictures taken. We walked to the front of the stage where a small crowed had gathered. People began streaming in, packing in tighter and tighter. Wheezer hit the stage and the crowd started moshing. I hadn’t figured Wheezer for a mosh band. Arms were flailing, people were jumping, bodies were slamming. I looked at Tom. He was petrified.
     “Jump!” I shouted to Tom. I was jumping in my flip-flops and moving with the crowd.
     Tom shook his head.
     “Jump, otherwise you’ll get run over! Bend your arms. Put your elbows out like this.”
     Tom started jumping. I got behind him. I steered him toward a less wild spot. We continued maneuvering like that the rest of the show.
     “That was awesome!” Tom shouted.
     “Well, you can mosh now. Wasn’t counting on that.”
     Tom and I laughed and began walking toward the mall for the meet and greet.

     “Are you watching Blackhawks (sic) game?” Golf Guy texted.

     I texted Golf Guy a  crowd-surfing picture. “At the risk of you thinking I'm a psycho, I took Tom to a Weezer concert. We’re going to meet the band now!”


     Tom and I walked to the line in front of the Microsoft store and a mall cop stopped us by the ropes. “He can’t get in,” he said pointing at Tom.
     “He’s with me,” I said.
     “Every person who gets in line has to have a wristband. No exceptions.”
     I tore my wristband off and gave it to Tom.
     “Get in line,” I told Tom.
     “No,” Tom said. “You go in. I don’t want to take your wristband.”
     “I put that wristband on thinking we’d both get in. Go on.”
     Tom got in line. His shoulders slumped. His eyes darted uncomfortably. I gave him the thumbs up sign and did a little happy dance.

     “Are u there now?” Golf Guy texted.

     “Here,” I heard Tom say. I looked up from my phone and Tom was standing in front of me holding out the metallic wristband. “I feel bad taking it. You should go.”
     “Why did you get out of line? Look how long it is now. Go meet the band. I’ll be standing right here. I’m not going anywhere. Go meet the band and tell me how great it was.”
     I scanned the line looking for a parent with a child. I spotted an Asian man and his son. “Can my son stand in line with you?” I asked. “He’s uncomfortable doing this by himself. He was in line and got out.”
     The Asian guy gave me a nasty look. “We all had to wait our turn to get in here,” he said.
     A group of teenagers standing behind the mean man lifted the rope. “He can come stand with us,” a boy said.
     “Thank you!” I said. Tom got in under the rope. “I really appreciate it. Thank you so much. This is Tom.”
     “No problem,” the young man said.
     I shot the mean man a dirty look and watched him squirm.

     “Tom’s in line to get an autograph now,” I texted Golf Guy. I sent a picture of Tom in line proudly holding his copper wristband.


     “Going to a restaurant to watch the 3rd period,” I texted.

     “We are winning 2-0.”

     “Are you a Hawks fan now? Cup is coming to the house.”