Keeping Up Appearances

Written 9/2017.

Within the first month of dating Ted (not his real name), he moved into a new rental house, something that wouldn’t have been possible without my financial assistance. It was a nice house – 5 bedrooms, 2 or 3 bathrooms, a sizeable family room, a swimming pool. Within the first month of living there, they also discovered they had bed bugs. So Ted decided they needed to move.

Again with my financial assistance, they moved to the rental house they’re in now. It’s also nice – not as large, but large enough for Ted’s 6-7 kids. Within a year, this house also had bed bugs, which I paid to have eradicated.

Because Ted’s bed was bug-ridden, I bought him a new king-size mattress and box spring.

Because Ted has no visible means of support, something I didn’t know when we met, I frequently paid (over the course of two years, eight months, and some-odd weeks), for his phone bill, gas bill, electric bill, car note, and many, many gifts and meals for him and his children. I am generous; too much so, apparently.

Generous to the tune of more than $20,000.

Now, obviously, some of the blame for lending such a large sum of money goes to me. But most of it goes to Ted. You see, when we met, he told me he had his own business and that he was a social media consultant. Little did I know that meant he spent most of his day thinking up witty things to say on Facebook. He told me he made about $70,000 a year, which was also my salary at the time. However, because he had so many children, he had no savings and it didn’t occur to me at the time, but no credit.

I should have paid attention when he used his son’s SSN on his rental application instead of his own.

Ted doesn’t deal with things he doesn’t want to deal with. Things and people. A bill he doesn’t want to pay? He throws it away, unopened. A creditor he wants to ignore? He adds them to the auto reject list on his phone. A person he doesn’t want to know anymore? He ghosts them and then blocks them on social media, text, phone.

Despite my generosity, he never once acknowledged it with his friends or family. He would frequently post on social media about all kinds of things, but not once in nearly three years did he say, “yes, we have this great house, thanks to Lori forking over $3,500 to help us get it.” “Yes, I have this king bed I share with my cats because Lori bought it for me” (that one was a gift).

That really bothered me, and I wasn’t sure why at first. But then I figured it out: I didn’t mind being generous and unacknowledged in a public way for it; what I did mind is that Ted was keeping up appearances. He wanted everyone to think he was providing for his family, all on his own, without help.

He wants everyone to think “wow, what a great single dad, doing it all on his own,” but even that’s not true from a non-financial standpoint. His oldest son raised the remaining kids just as much. As do others in his life.

An example: I remember early on, I was at Ted’s house just after dinner. While Ted and I were in the dining room talking, the kids were in the family room watching American Horror Story. A particularly explicit sex scene came on, and his children were all watching it. At the time, they were 9, 10, 11, 13, 15, and 15 years old (this is before a 7th child joined the fray). So, the oldest was 15. When I nudged Ted and asked him if he wanted his children watching this, he was initially non-plussed. When I pointed out what they were watching, he yelled to the oldest to come into the dining room and then berated him for allowing the younger children to watch. The poor kid was flustered and got teared-up. I asked Ted “Why are you blaming him? He’s a kid!” to which he replied, “Because he’s the oldest and should know better.” Should’ve been a red flag to me. He was the parent and should’ve been paying attention!

Another example: The inside of his car was always a pig sty, but he kept the outside washed and clean. It speaks volumes about how he lives his life – all flash, no substance, though again, he wants everyone to think he’s this cool, chill, Zen type of California guy. Nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just a masked persona he puts on and takes off at will.

Since breaking up with me, Ted has been pushing the friendship agenda. Initially, I was not interested. My heart is broken, and I just wanted to lick my wounds and heal. But yesterday, I reached out to Ted to test the waters and see if maybe we could meet for coffee or a meal and see if we could be friends.

So during the course of our conversation yesterday, I said something about still loving him and that it was difficult to understand why he ended things. Ted says the reason he broke up with me is mostly my fault, because I didn’t come to Galveston often enough, I missed too many family functions, and that the relationship felt one-sided because I wasn’t making any effort. And so ultimately, he decided he didn’t want to exert any effort in a relationship with me.

Let me tell you about effort. Try dating someone who allegedly has multiple chronic illnesses, has to nap several times a day, has seven children, is hospitalized a couple of times a year, has his vehicle repossessed or has no working vehicle, has no income, is frequently at odds with other people in his life, and is not appreciative of the things you do for him and his children. Let’s sit with that for a minute.

I may have started out being sad and broken-hearted, but now I’m just mad. And I realize a couple of things: when things get tough, Ted gives up because he lacks tenacity. When someone has outlived their usefulness to him, he gives up on them (in my case, I stopped loaning him money a few months ago, thereby rendering me useless to him). If he’s not getting what he wants, when he wants it, he’s done. If you don’t fit with the impression he wants to present to the world, and he can’t keep up appearances, he feels embarrassed and humiliated.

That’s not being a man, that’s being a child.

I don’t need a child; I need a man.

And I need a man like a fish needs a bicycle.


The above post was written about 2.5 years ago but not published. I’m choosing to publish it now because I’ve come to the ultimate realization that Ted is a con man and it’s likely he’s bilking others out of their hard-earned money, just as he did to me.

Ted hasn’t repaid the money he owes me. He was making negligible payments, but stopped several months ago when he made a $25 payment stating that things were “really bad” for him and that he had basically been bed-ridden for weeks at that point.

By now, though, my empathy has run its course and since I recognize the con game he’s running, I no longer care. I, myself, am in financial dire straights these days, and that’s partly his fault.

So, if you know Ted, and you’ve had a similar experience, please share your stories with me. In addition to a civil suit, I may be able to bring criminal charges, and I’ll need the evidence from anyone else he’s done this to as well. I know you’re out there because I saw small glimpses of his avoidance of people to whom he owed money during our relationship.

Don’t be the victim.

Love is a Many Splendored Thing

Yesterday was Valentine’s Day which caused me to think back on past Valentine’s days. I’ve spent many February 14ths alone. Not necessarily lonely, just alone. And if I wasn’t alone I was with a less-than-ideal partner. Let me tell you, being alone is much, much better than being in an unsatisfying relationship.

This year, I’m grateful to be in a loving, equal, caring relationship with a man who truly loves me unconditionally. Not the “unconditional” love that others have purported to have for me, but the real deal. We’ve seen each other at our worst and still continued to wholly love each other and be teammates on life’s journey.

So much so that he’s moving in with me soon and for the first time in years I’m seriously looking forward to getting married again (something I said I’d NEVER do again -famous last words!).

He loves all of me. No matter my weight or mental state or financial state or analytical brain. And I, him. Sure, we argue occasionally, and sometimes his boisterous, exuberant personality makes me crazy when I want peace and quiet, but I wouldn’t take that away from him because it’s part of what makes him, him.

If you’re with someone who’s using you for your money, or wants you to have surgery to lose weight, or doesn’t defend you to others, or continually lies and manipulates, that is not your person. You deserve better. We all deserve to be with a person who loves us just as we are… Even if that person is you. Celebrate and love yourself because after all…

Love is a many splendored thing. ❤️

The 5 Days I Fell Hardest For My Wife by David Schickler

This article is so touching that I had to share it on my blog:

The 5 Days I Fell Hardest For My Wife

 One man shows how all of us can see our long-term loves as exciting and unforgettable—all over again. (He’s written a memoir too: The Dark Path.)
Martha and Riley
Photo: Courtesy of David Schickler

Martha and Riley

The Day She Stood Out Against the Sky

My wife Martha and I honeymooned on Kauai. We snorkeled one day at Tunnels Beach and had an isolated cove to ourselves: Adam and Eve in flippers. The coral were purple grandeur, but sharp, and after some almost sliced my stomach, I headed for the beach. Martha kept snorkeling another hour. I’m a worrier, so I stood by our blanket, watching for her. At one point, she stayed under for too long and I panicked and ran to the water, about to dive in and search for her. But then she surged up, way out there, and whooped and waved, and across that blue distance, with sky and surf dwarfing her, I could still see her face telling me, “It’s all right, Anxious Man. I’m with you.”

The Day Our Son Wore Crap Gloves

Our baby had awful colic. He would only stop crying if I did a jig with him in my arms while we played Paul Simon’s “The Obvious Child” at blasting volume. At a year old, he started producing toxic waste. One day, I was away from home and Martha texted me a picture of our little fellow standing in our living room, wearing only his diaper, which was overflowing. There was extra overflow on the rug, more on the walls and even more covering his arms, from his hands up to his elbows. Martha accompanied the picture with just two words: Crap Gloves. I could feel through the phone all the work my wife had to do to clean up. I could feel her exhaustion and her fear that she’d never get back to her photography career. But in the middle of all that, she wanted me to laugh.

The Day She Heard the Voice

Martha and I met at a reading; only because Martha nervously introduced herself. Her face was shock-red with shyness. To calm her blushing, she fanned her face so hard with a program that she got a paper cut on her temple, which I was so forward as to dab with a cocktail napkin. By a year into dating her, I’d learned the depths of her shyness (when her doorbell rang, she’d often hide). When we got engaged, she explained about the night we met. She wasn’t very religious, but she’d been sitting in the audience and I’d come out on stage and she’d heard a Voice—some Voice from outside herself, something absolute—that said, “This is the man you’ll spend the rest of your life with.” It is only because she heard this Voice that she took what was for her the monumental effort of saying hello to me. It is my favorite brave thing she’s ever done.

The Day We Went Running in Venice, Italy

Martha and I got to Venice once and went running the first afternoon. It was 60 degrees, the sun was shining, but as we tramped over bridges, past gondoliers and trattorias and around pedestrians, I kept complaining about the crowds, wanting to go faster. I was also wrangling over a screenplay I was writing and some tough plot points I needed to get past. Martha finally stopped me and grabbed my chin and said, “David. Look around.” She indicated our stunning surroundings. Then she looked me in the eye and said, “Pass the test.” She could have said, “Smell the roses.” But “Pass the test” slapped me awake a lot more quickly.

The Day Her Horse Died

Martha grew up a country girl. As an adult, she saved up and bought her own horse, Riley. He adored her, and before she met me, he was how she spent all her time. She (and then we) kept him at a stable outside of town. A few years ago, on Christmas Eve, we got a horrible phone call: Riley had walked out of his front left foot, breaking his leg. Riley would have to be put down within half an hour. Martha and I raced out to the stables. I drove while she wept. It was dusk when we arrived. Martha made herself stop crying before we got out of the car. Way off in the distance, far from the barn, Riley stood in a snow-covered pasture. The stable owner and vet were already with him, ready with the syringe. Riley kept upright, despite his mortal lameness. I could see, even from afar, the misery on his face. I shouted loudly across the pasture to the vet, who waved back, knowing to wait for us. Riley made no move at my voice.

Then, my wife, at my side, looking at her beloved animal 200 yards away, spoke his nickname—”Ry”—under her breath. From as far off as he was, Riley heard her immediately. I saw the pain on his face lighten. He reared, whinnying to her a call of love more resounding than I’d ever heard from him before, raising his crippled leg to signal her. He stood out against the dying sky like that, and for a moment I felt what he felt, the same thing I’d felt on that beach in Kauai when Martha appeared across all that distance from me and hailed me out of my fear. She is here. She is with me, always. I will be all right.


My inspiration for today’s art journal page is a quote from Soren Kierkegaard. I glued a couple of pages together in my Moleskine notebook and then painted the pages with Tim Holtz’s Distress Paints in Twisted Citron, Crushed Olive, and Lucky Clover.


Next, I used a Crafter’s Workshop stencil with Lucky Clover to create some interest in the background, and then mixed some of the paint with texture paste and pushed it through the stencil with a palette knife to create even more texture.

A simple border was created with a black Sharpie marker. Then, the background sat there for days while I figured out what I wanted to do with it.

Then, today I came across the Kierkegaard quote and it all gelled for me!


I typed the quote into Word, printed it on my ink jet printer, and cut it apart to fit the page. I used a Tim Holtz Stamper’s Anonymous rubber stamp to stamp the English gentleman figure.


And voilà!

Live forward!

Leading the Pack

My art journal page today did not turn out the way I saw it in my mind’s eye. At all. But, all in all, I’m ok with it.

I started out by using gelatos in black, purple, dark blue, and light blue, and then doing a wash over them. It turned out badly. So, I covered the whole thing in some cheap white tissue paper, and then used watered-down gesso to knock back the gelatos even more.


Using blue, purple, and silver ink, I used mandala stamps to stamp the upper edge and also used some embossing ink and Lindy’s black embossing powder on a couple of the mandalas/snowflakes.

I sprayed Lindy’s pewter spray on both pages and stamped the quote.


Finally, I used a brad to attach a Tim Holtz disc that reads “Truth” to the edge of the page.


Throw me to the wolves and I will return leading the pack. Truth.


My latest mixed media art journal page was borne out of a desire to use pink and orange on the page. I awakened feeling like I wanted to create art and I wanted it to be happy. That’s all.

I started out by gluing two pages together on each side of my Moleskine notebook to thicken the pages and then covered the pages with matte gel medium to stick down some French script tissue paper.15036383_10210947229414435_7976550084782371372_n

Next, I painted the page with a few Distress paint colors in pink and orange – I love the way the color turned out!

After doodling a border around the edge of the pages, I took a break because I had no idea what I wanted to do.

A few hours later, I was on Pinterest and saw a quote that resonated with me. When I saw it I knew exactly what I wanted to do!

I have a bird layering stencil. I used the negative bird image and the background stencil with texture paste pushed through them to give some dimension to the page. I then used brown ink to color the bird and the texture paste, some copper ink over the entire bird, and then Wink of Stella on the textured bits.


I added a French fry to the bird’s beak, shaded it, and then stenciled in the word Today. The rest of the quote was created on my laptop and printed out on an ink jet printer. I shaded around the quote with black gel pen.


And the finalized page!


Be happy!


Donald Trump’s Impact

Donald Trump’s Impact: Why I Couldn’t Vote for Him and Why I Don’t Understand How My Friends Could Vote for Him

The election is over and Donald J. Trump won.

I woke up sad. So sad I nearly cried. Over the results of an election. No, really. If you supported the Trump candidacy, you may not understand why I (and 50% of the population) was so dejected by this news.

First, let me say that I am not a big fan of Hillary Clinton, either. Bernie Sanders was the best candidate out there as far as I’m concerned. He is logical, practical, and has great ideas for this country. Alas, Bernie didn’t make it through the Democratic Primary, but I have high hopes that those in power were listening to him and will adopt some of his plans.

But enough about that, let’s get back to Trump. For me, and I think for a lot of people, he represents all of the reprehensible qualities I detest in humans. He’s sexist, racist, bigoted, and impulsive, to name a few. While Hillary is no slouch in the things-not-to-do-if-you’re-an-elected-or-appointed-official, I have no evidence that she is sexist, racist, bigoted, or impulsive. For me, she is a very typical politician, full of the flaws and imperfections we’ve come to expect from a politician. Also, not great, but by comparison? Better.

Trump, on the other hand, is full of flaws that smack of a complete lack of human decency, and that really bothers me. Do we want to live under a president who is OK mocking the disabled, making snarky and misogynistic comments about women, and disenfranchising entire populations of citizens because they are Latino, African American, or otherwise non-white?

I’m not a religious person, as you know, but I feel I treat people fairly, equally, and in a Christian-like way, if you will. I don’t get that vibe from Donald Trump. At all. He strikes me as egocentric and xenophobic, and frankly doesn’t give a damn about anyone else and isn’t shy about saying it. Loudly. And often. And with a lack of intelligence and diplomacy seldom seen in public (unless you watch reality TV).

Which brings me to my next and perhaps more important point. Today, on social media, aside from all of the gloating going on with the Trump supporters and all of the whining going on with the Clinton supporters, I noticed that many Trump supporters were posting things like “We can still be friends! Political differences do not have to ruin friendships!” And while that’s true, on the face of it, this election was not just about politics.

You may think you’re not sexist, racist, bigoted, etc., but supporting him says to everyone else that you, in fact, are all of those things.

It was about moral behavior, socially-acceptable behavior, and what it means to live in this society and be loving and accepting of other human beings who may be different from us. Men, women, children, gay, lesbian, transgender, queer, Latino, Black, White, Asian, Christians, Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Atheists, Agnostics – you get the picture.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but what I don’t think has been directly said is this: I’m finding it hard to be friends, real friends, with people who support Trump because supporting him means you support sexism, racism, bigotry, and a lack of care for the concerns of your fellow man. You may think you’re not sexist, racist, bigoted, etc., but supporting him says to everyone else that you, in fact, are all of those things.

Let me break it down for you: If I had been alive in 1940 and said to all of my friends “I love Jews! Some of my best friends are Jews!” and then I supported Hitler, you’d balk at my love of Jews, wouldn’t you?

So you can see my conundrum here. You say you’re not sexist, but you support Trump. You say you’re not racist, but you support Trump. You say some of your best friends are Mexicans, but you support Trump.

I don’t understand. I don’t. I’ve asked, very politely on multiple occasions in the past six months for people who support Trump to explain this paradox to me, and not one person has. Not one person has even taken the time to respond.

On a side note, Trump’s slogan “Make America Great Again” really annoys me because I thought America was pretty great already, and I have for 52 years. Until this election and the lack of humanity that has come from it. I’m embarrassed, and trying to explain this outcome to my bonus children and to my friends who live in England, Australia, France, Ireland, Scotland, Sweden, etc. has been a futile exercise. I don’t know what to tell them. They are all shocked, just as they were after Brexit. The fact that so many people from countries outside the US are this concerned about the outcome of this presidential election should speak volumes to all of us.

I’m trying to remain hopeful; I’m trying to remain open-minded to what lies ahead. I hope Trump will be surrounded by good people who will keep him on track. I hope this will be an evolutionary experience for him from which he will grow and learn more about women, other ethnicities, and how to think clearly and express himself diplomatically and appropriately.

Je t’aime, et j’espère.

Allergies Be Gone

About the time I was first introduced to Young Living essential oils (EOs) earlier this year, my friend Patti and sister Hayat hosted a Young Living make-and-take event. Even though I live 1,500 miles away, they shipped the necessary oils, pipettes, and roller balls to me so I could also make the items.


The Happiness roller ball was an immediate hit! It smells so good, and really does promote a feeling of happiness – if you want to know about that recipe, let me know. During that event, though, I also made Allergies Be Gone, which is a combo of Peppermint, Lemon, and Lavender EOs, combined with a carrier oil (I think I used sweet almond oil). It works so well! During peak allergy times, I roll Allergies Be Gone over the tops of my cheek bones, and down the sides and top of my nose and then gently rub it in (though there are other ways to use it – see below). Within minutes, my stuffiness is gone and I’m breathing freely once again!

If you’d like to have this kind of relief, combine the following in a glass roller bottle:

  • 10 drops of lavender
  • 10 drops of lemon
  • 10 drops of peppermint
  • Carrier oil of choice (olive, grape seed, fractionated coconut, almond) to fill the bottle

If you’d like to replace products you use every day that are filled with chemicals and synthetic ingredients, ask me! From cleaning products to beauty creams, I’ve got the answers!




*Disclosure (the fine print):  All information, content and product descriptions contained within this blog are for reference purposes only and are not intended to substitute advice given by a pharmacist, physician, or other licensed healthcare professional. Contact your healthcare provider immediately if you suspect that you have a medical problem.

Election Fever

Like most voters in the United States, I’ve hit my pain threshold – not only with the candidates themselves, but with our citizenry as well. This is my 8th presidential election and it’s the worst ever, I think we can all agree.

So, this afternoon, to combat some of that fatigue, I took to my art journal and created this:

Where do they stand??

This has been a trying election for everyone involved, and I hope I never see the likes of it again. It’s been uglier, more divisive, and less about the issues than any I’ve ever seen.

C’mon people, we’re better than this!

Aren’t we??