Love, love, love

Happy Valentine’s Day!

I hope you had a great day, celebrating it, or not, however was enjoyable for you.

No one cares about my love life, so instead of writing about myself and what I did today (spoiler alert: I did nothing related to Valentine’s Day except wear a pretty red dress which garnered three compliments), I want to share some quotes about love that I found by doing a Google search. Don’t judge me.

Oh, KKW! I have never watched a single minute of any of the Kardashian shows, but I don’t judge anyone who does. To be honest, I watch so little tv that I often times have nothing in common to talk to most people about .

And even though I know almost nothing about KKW ‘s life, other than she’s rich and pretty and maybe broke the internet once, I agree with her on this quote.

I believe in love always because there are always indications of it everywhere! Not just romantic love, which is often times fleeting and falsely identified, but true and genuine love, the kind that you see when two people are actually listening to each other or when you can tell that an old couple still likes each other. Those types of things give me hope in humanity, not just in the lofty idea of love that the media regularly tells us we should have. I believe, always.

I also know almost nothing about Amy Poehler, other than she was on SNL and she’s a great television writer.

I like this quote because it makes me think of the Eckhart Tolle book that I am currently reading.

Really, the first step to attaining a thing is to give it to yourself. Want happiness? Surprise, you can give it to yourself, right now. It’s in you and no one can take it away from you. It’s like the adult version of when your magician uncle pulls a quarter from behind your ear and tells you that it was there the whole time, except in life, you really can develop the mental skills to give yourself happiness pretty much all the time.

I feel the same way about love. Love from other people is very important. It makes us feel less alone and more valued. But, without self love, we can’t even begin to fathom or accept the depths of the love that comes from others.

For a very long time, I used to say to myself, “I wish I had someone to love me”, meaning in a romantic sense. But one day, through lots of reading and developing a greater sense of self awareness, I suddenly realized that I needed to love myself and then I could feel love in all its forms from other people. My mind exploded and I haven’t been the same since.

My advice is not to get too caught up on external love, the kind you might get from other people. Even if you’re perfect towards them, people are flakey and a lot of them are really screwed up in the head unfortunately.

You might be screwed up in the head, too. Join the party of almost everyone on planet earth.

But, you know what you can count on when the mister leaves or cheats or the missus wants you to be something that you’re not? You can always count on the love you have for yourself, if you have some.

If you don’t have any, then your homework tonight is to love on yourself.

Don’t neglect your partner if you’ve got one, but take a moment at least and say: I love myself.

You deserve it.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

What It’s Like: Working With a Muslim Family

I want to start off this post by saying that I am very grateful for my life and the series of choices and happenstances that have put me in this exact spot, in this very moment. I am very, very fortunate and I am practicing being more grateful and observant of my good fortune.

One of the things that I am most thankful for is the many opportunities I have had to meet different people. And by different, I mean people who are of a different race, religion, background, nationality, gender, and experience than I am. You know, all of the typical things that humans use to segregate themselves and to judge the ones not in their special little circle.

Sometimes the opportunity to meet different people come because of me reaching out or because of some other self-directed involvement or effort. Most of the times, however, I find that opportunity comes simply by being open to it coming.

A few months ago, I started tutoring two children from an Eastern block country, near Russia. I will provide as few details as I can about this family, in an effort to protect their identities and keep the focus on the story and my experience, and the religion of Islam, which I am in no way qualified to even begin to discuss.

The first time I went to their house for a tutoring session, there was no answer on the phone for 15 minutes. Tardiness angers me, and over time, I have had to learn to manage my anger when people are late. But, this time, anger kind of got the best of me. I’d driven almost 50 minutes in hellish Houston traffic, just to be on time. And there I was, still on time, even after navigating around a big wreck, and the people were not answering the phone.

I looked at the clock on my dashboard and said to myself, “I’m only waiting 15 minutes; then, I’m leaving.”

I also had a bunch of other bad thoughts about these people BEFORE I even met them. Perhaps they were sharpening their saws, so they could cut me up into little bits? Is there such a thing as the “Tutor Strangler” in any popular movies? They must be absolutely terrible people; how dare they be so late?

I worked myself up into an almost seething frenzy when my phone rang at exactly 14 minutes past the hour. I couldn’t make this up if I tried.

The frenzied sounding father apologized profusely and asked me to please excuse them and come up to tutor the children. Not wanting to break the rule I’d set for myself, I reluctantly went up to meet them.

I immediately thanked myself for the decision to try, the decision to trust the universe, which is absolutely not something that I usually do.

Upon entering, the entire family came to warmly greet me, one by one. The father told me that he appreciated me tutoring his children and that he trusted my abilities as a teacher. Having taught public school in rough areas for several years, hearing the words “appreciation” and “trust” the first time I interacted with a parent was a rarity, to say the least.

After the session was over, the mother meekly came up to me, and handed me a warm, paper towel wrapped bundle. I said thank you as graciously as I could, not knowing at all what was customary or rude to them, realizing I knew nothing about the culture of their home country, and also realizing that my “American guilt” is still pretty strong.

I left the apartment and walked to the elevator and opened the napkin. She had given me two freshly baked rolls of bread, the steam gently greeting my grinning face as I pinched off a piece and ate it.

At that moment, I realized that something really beautiful had happened. A shared experience between people who are seemingly nothing alike, joined together by the universe’s pull and their own collective abilities to extend a bit of trust to another human being.

For the family, they had trusted a strange American to enter their home, the first time they met them. Given the media and hatred and negative messaging about Muslims in America, if I were them, I do not think I would have had the courage to invite a strange American into my home. But, they did.

For me, I had continued with the tutoring appointment, even though I was angry that they were late and a little afraid of going into a strange home. I also greedily ate home made bread from a stranger, something that I am pretty sure children are taught not to do, and there I was, as an adult, eating a stranger’s food, in an elevator, no less.

By the time I reached the first floor, I loved those people. I loved the children. I loved their kindness. I loved the open and loving energy that you can feel in their house. I texted my mother and told her I was all right and that everything went well and I even told her, “I love them already.”

I continue to work with the children and the family continues to treat me better than any parents have in all my years of teaching. They have invited me to stay after the session to have dinner with them. They have given me other food gifts. They’ve taken the time to share things about their culture and food with me. They’ve even let me hold their infant child, which for a woman who is terrified of small children, was a big feat for me to even agree to do such a thing.

Somehow, the fact that I know almost nothing about Islam, or their home country, or their language, yet I am still able to share very human experiences with the family makes me feel incredibly fortunate.

My experience with the family is truly a testament to what great things can happen when, even if you are scared or emotional, you can summon up the courage to trust others and the universe.

You just might not be disappointed.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

What It’s Like: Teaching Kids

Some contents of my purse serve as the muse for tonight’s post. Inside my purse are some meat-pie looking pastries, carefully wrapped in a napkin, a gift from an Azerbaijani grandmother.

I tutor two great kids a couple nights a week. I tutor them in English: reading, writing, and speaking. Their grandmother is in town, visiting from their home country, Azerbaijan, a place I’d barely heard of before meeting these children a few months ago.

About 12 years ago or so, I started a career as a school teacher. I taught elementary aged kids. After I did that for a few years, I transitioned to a job in corporate America, and taught at the collegiate level (freshmen and juniors) on the side for a few years.

Now, I am tutoring two kids and two adults. I’ll write about the adults in another post, perhaps.

When I changed from teaching kids to college adults, many of whom were older than me, everybody and their momma asked me the same question: How is it different? My go-to, cheeky answer was always, “You don’t have to take adults to the bathroom.” Karma laughed at me and once sent me an adult student who did ask, on several occasions, if she could go to the bathroom.

Teaching is kind of “old hat” to me now; even when I meet new students, I have now done it long enough that I can at least PRETEND to know what I am doing. It takes a lot of practice to even get the confidence to be able to pretend to be a confident teacher, unless you’re kind of a pompous, know it all asshole, which in that case, please do  us all a favor and stay out of the classroom. What I’m trying to say is, teaching should have a sense of respect and humility, both for your students and for your profession.

Teaching kids is challenging in its own way. Children are PAYING ATTENTION. Don’t believe the horseshit you hear on the news about how six in one children have ADHD. They might, be even then, they’re still closely paying attention to everything you do. EVERYTHING. Understand the difference between paying attention and judging you. The kids are attentive; the adults are probably judgmental.

Children aren’t thinking about bills or if they took the chicken out to unthaw. Depending on their age, they may not have a good sense of embarrassment or self awareness. They’re doing their thing and watching you do yours.

With kids, it’s a lot of work to exemplify an excellent role model, pretty much at all times. When I taught elementary school, I did not cuss, not even on the weekends. I just recently started to feel comfortable saying the word “stupid”, even though I’ve taught for years. Working in the oilfield helped me develop a hearty potty mouth, which I thoroughly enjoy, but you’d never know that when I am around young and impressionable ears.

Kids are also way smarter than most adults give them credit for. Children pick up on and absorb energy better than adults, too. If you let your child know your burdens, they will help you carry them, regardless if you have asked them to or not. I once worked with a kindergartner who came to school looking very concerned. He eventually began to cry. When I pried an answer from him, he told me that he was worried because his mom and dad “were down to their last $5,000.” He had overheard them fighting about money and even though he couldn’t even count to 500 or 5,000, his little mind could clearly interpret that something big and scary was wrong, so he worried about it. He internalized it.

I have dozens of stories like that; stories of children truly being sponges, and not always soaking up the good stuff.

Teaching a child also has a weight to it, at least it does for me. Since children have much less life experience, I find it to be so important to do two things: 1) be present with them while you are around them because 2) that affects their perception of the world.

A child that experiences an angry parent can grow up to be worrisome and fearful. A child that experiences a neglectful (physically or emotionally) parent will fight the demons of inadequacy for the rest of his life.

It is really an honor to be able to be a teacher. The job REALLY SUCKS, but it’s still an honorable one. Between utterly ridiculous parents, pushy school districts, and insane principals, I have no idea how I survived with even a shred of sanity in tact. Oh, and don’t forget the year that I had strep throat three times and my vocal chords became infected, which irrevocably changed the sound of my voice. Almost no one that I know now actually know what I used to sound like. Ah, that was fun. Good times.

Kudos to you if you’re a teacher. The job can be so damn thankless, but from one former teacher to another, I THANK YOU.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

What It’s Like: Being an Entrepreneur

It’s horrible. The END.

 

Wait, sorry, please come back, and I’ll tell you what it’s like to be an entrepreneur. And, before you stop reading, this is not some post trying to sell you a class on entrepreneurship. This is just an honest, one woman account of what it’s like to be an entrepreneur.

First, a little bit of my backstory.

I guess I could say that entrepreneurship is in my blood and my nature. My father was an entrepreneur for as long as there are stories about him, at least the ones that I have heard. I did not grow up around him, but I know some things about his entrepreneurial adventures.

My father owned a nightclub, neighborhood grocery store, and a mechanic / tire shop. My mother told me that she had no idea why he owned a nightclub; he did not like people and he especially did not like drunk ones. I suppose that I get my misanthropy and dislike for alcohol through my father’s blood line.

All of his businesses were successful and he was successful. He lived well and drove nice cars and had a nice house. I never saw the inside of the houses or the car, at least in my memory, but I have heard about them.

My elderly uncle once told me a story about how my father was also kind of a shrewd / asshole / rule following kind of guy. My uncle said that once, a guy went into my father’s grocery store and practically begged him to let him buy beer on a Sunday. My father told him no, and didn’t budge.

I am starting to see a theme here: I look like my mother, but the inside of my head and the darkness of my soul are thanks to my father. I would have done the same thing, if it were me. Get out of here with your Sunday beer money, sir. Come back when the laws change, duh!

I’ve never had much interest in rule or law breaking unless it’s speeding while driving. I just cannot stand to go 35 mph. I simply must go 38 mph. Call me a rebel.

My own foray into entrepreneurship began in middle school. In between the bell rings for us to change classes, I sold cookies to the greedy and hungry kids. I even sold them after I was caught with “contraband” and sent to the principal’s office. I retract my previous statement about not breaking rules. Those rules would have negatively impacted my business. So, perhaps, I would have sold that guy a beer on Sunday.

I majored in Business and Entrepreneurship in college. Then, one day, years after graduating from college the first time and the second time, I had a dream of opening a bakery.

Over the years, I have toyed with the idea of opening a bakery. The idea of it is crystal clear in my head. I even recruited a friend to help me figure out numbers, costs, all this stuff. It’s a somewhat secret dream of mine (as in everyone I know knows about it), and I would like to make it happen one day, hopefully soon.

But for now, my life as an entrepreneur is based on the reality of needing money and paying bills, you know the unsexy stuff. Right now, I am loosely a writer (kind of) and I work for clients. It is terribly unsexy, but it is a good way to put my pinky toe into the world of being a bonafied business owner, a self employed guru in the making.

So, what’s it like?

IT IS TERRIFYING.

I do not have the finger strength to write all the things I could write about the fear I have experienced and continue to experience as an entrepreneur. When you’re first starting out, the learning curve is so steep, that you just have to commit to feeling like you’re drowning. You might feel like that for the foreseeable future. So, commit to being uncomfortable and get on with it.

YOU ARE NOT SLEEPING ALL DAY.

This past week, I have worked so much that I couldn’t even turn my brain off. So, even when I was asleep, I was still having some weird dreams about due dates and such. I barely took lunch breaks and I certainly was  not napping!

YOU WORK NO MATTER WHAT.

Sick days? GTFOH. Pain? Work anyway. Tummy aches? Work anyway. Sick and tired? Get your ass to the desk.

THERE IS ALWAYS WORK TO DO.

As a service based entrepreneur, it’s kind of like feast or famine. You either have so much work that you want to run away or there’s no work and you consider becoming a street beggar or gypsy.

YOUR BRAIN IS RARELY OFF.

See above explanation.

IT IS REWARDING.

Yay! The “man” is YOU. You get to boss yourself around and make yourself miserable! It’s great.

YOU HAVE SOME FREEDOM.

Unless you’re farther down the entrepreneurial road than I am, then there’s not a shit ton of freedom. You have to find your own customers, please the customers, deliver the product or service. Basically, you might be able to work from 9:48 am – 7:02 pm, but you’re still bound by your need to make your business successful.

YOU HAVE ALL OF THE RESPONSIBILITY.

This one is a doozie. It is both liberating and misery inducing. You are the king of the castle and it’s great until you realize that all of the knights and peasants are looking at you to direct the show.

 

With all of those things in mind, I am still incredibly fortunate to even have the opportunity to be an entrepreneur. My route to entrepreneurship was convoluted and almost terrifying (to say the least), but I am happy to be on this road.

Enough talking to you; I’ve got to get back to alternating between working and crying in the corner.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

PS! Are you an entrepreneur? If so, what’s your business? Leave me a comment below!

Polite Fighter

The idea to write about this just came to me, as I was stepping out of the bathtub, after a long, hot soak.

As I was stepping out of the tub, I had a mindful moment, where I acknowledged how thankful I am to have a bathtub and warm water and epsom salts. And through those things, I was able to find relief from menstrual cramps, right before bed. Ah, how nice it is to give yourself some self care sometimes.

Then I thought, self care is not really just about bubble baths and beauty products. Self care is also about knowing when to stand up for yourself, too. Self care is like self guardianship.

Here’s a story from my life that demonstrates my idea of self guardianship:

About 8 months ago, I bought a new computer. Seems like a pretty uneventful thing, except I HATE BUYING ELECTRONICS. I have never bought a television; each one I have ever had has been a hand me down.

The first computer I owned, I gave a Dell salesman my meager budget and he picked it out for me. The second computer I owned, I did pretty much the same thing, except I had about an extra $500 I could spend. The third computer I owned, I let my then-boyfriend pick out all of the components. He enjoyed building the computer; I enjoyed not having to make the decision. That was almost 10 years ago, and I’m using that same computer to write this on, right now.

I bought a new computer because my current one works well, but it is HUGE and heavy and was starting to run out of space. I wanted a light, sexy little number that I could take to coffee shops. I also needed something that had a dedicated graphics card (don’t ask).

So, I went to Best Buy in my hometown, and some bright eyed, golden haired lad helped me pick the computer. I gleefully paid for the protection plan, and skipped out of Best Buy, sure that I wouldn’t have to go back into that awful place for another 10 years.

Three months into owning the computer, it froze and wouldn’t do anything. Not turn on, not a damn thing. It was a very expensive, brand new BRICK.

I went back to Best Buy and figured, oh, they’ll fix it, no problem. Trouble is, they couldn’t fix it, either. After several weeks of phone calls and emails, they told me that they couldn’t fix it and that particular model was out of stock.

I went back to the store to get my refund (thank goodness for the protection plan). As the gentleman was helping me, I had a thought:

WAIT A GOT DAMN MINUTE! I WANT EVERY GOT DAMN CENT OF MY GOT DAMN MONEY BACK! I WANT THE PRICE, TAX, AND PROTECTION PLAN MONEY BACK!

I’d basically spent a lot of money to “rent” a computer for less than 90 days. As the slow, rusty math gears in my mind started to churn, I turned to the guy and said, “Wait, I want ALLLLLLLL OF MY MONEY BACK.” Realizing I was maybe a bit terse, I added, “Please.”

He started to hem and haw about what “the system” was going to “give me” back. I listened, politely, making mental notes of all of his pre-excuses, and then used them back on him as I made the argument, politely, that they’d sold me a faulty device AND  a protection plan on a faulty device. Even they couldn’t fix their faulty device and it was ridiculous that I suffer the cost of a protection plan on a faulty device that they sold me less than 90 days ago and that they couldn’t fix. COUGH COUGH, AHEM, SIR.

He again assured me that he would give me back everything that the system would allow. I again, slowly, calmly, with almost comically patience, assured him that his system, and his logic, could both go take a got damn hike and frankly, he better get me my got damn money.

I said all of these things politely, of course.

I stood there politely.

I smiled politely.

I re-iterated my point politely.

I suggested he call a manager, politely.

At the end, he did not have to call the manager and he gave me every red penny of my money back. My polite and repetitive requests were met. Months later, I returned to Best Buy and bought another got damn computer. The new one seems to be working just fine.

The moral of the story is, don’t forget to be your own best advocate; your own guardian. Whether it’s the guardian of your feelings, your money, your time, or your energy, it is your job, and only your job, to be the guardian of the things that will affect you. Don’t leave that job to someone else. You will only get what THEY think you deserve and you can see from my story, it’s likely that it will be less than you actually deserve.

Sometimes it’s easy to do when it comes to money, but it’s probably even more important to do when it comes to bad friends, bad relationships, time wasting bullshit, etc.

How do you practice self guardianship?

And when was the last time you bought a computer?

Until tomorrow, my friends…

I Am Not My Hair

“No way it’s not real,” he said.

“Way, it’s totally not real,” I assured him.

He looked at me with those squinted eyes one makes when you’re not sure what to believe. He gazed at my hair again, back at my face, twisted his mouth, and replied,  “No way.”

All those years ago, way back when I was a freshman in college, at the age of 17, I first experimented with changing the look of my hair.

I kept insisting to my then boyfriend, with pride and odd enthusiasm, that I had, in fact, added a few tracks to my hair.

My natural hair, back then at least, was so thick that it blended quite seamlessly with the faux hair pieces. This made me giddy and proud.

Now, when I look in the mirror, both today on the cusp of my 35th birthday and every other day for the past year or so, I see hair that has thinned from the glorious lion’s mane that I used to proudly sport. I remember that once, my mother scolded me for lamenting about my thick hair. “You’ll miss it when it’s gone,” she warned me. As with lots of other warnings about life, momma was right.

I am currently suffering from thinned hair thanks to lots and lots and lots of prolonged stress. According to my stylist, it will grow back. According to my mirror, it’s already growing back. Where once there was a flash of scalp, now there are little hair warriors, returning to the battle, hopefully ready to stay put, on the front lines, for at least a good remainder of my life.

To be honest, I’ve always had a pretty good relationship, at least mentally, with aging. I know lots of people who died violent deaths at a young age. I know lots of people who died when they were good and old.  I know lots of people who died somewhere in between, at the age where one might say, “He wasn’t even that old” instead of “But he was so young.” Aging, and it’s ultimate outcome, has been on my radar for a while.

I’ve been to lots of funerals. When I was a child, my grandmother took me to lots of funerals, in small country towns throughout north Louisiana. I’ve probably seen more than my fair share of dead strangers lying in caskets.

With these experiences, death is kind of normal to me, as normal as it can be to a person who still has lots of desire to live. Aging, however, is deeply personal, it’s something that I cannot disconnect from or interact with by just sending flowers or sympathy. Aging is the part of dying that happens to you personally, and you get to experience it in your own personal way, the same way that you must experience and live your own life.

Although I am not happy about how stress manifested itself on my scalp, I am happy that I have had the opportunity to live this long. Having seen death around me since such a young age, I have always lived with the realistic fear that death is always just around the corner for any of us, at any time. It is a beautiful chaos in which to dwell, both frightening and invigorating.

So tonight, regardless of what my hair looks like, I am meeting with friends. The energy of other people, these people, people I am privileged enough to call friends, provide calm and love on the eve of my birthday.

And regardless of my hair, I am thankful to still have some of it left up there.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

The Game of Life

I don’t remember how to do it.

For the life of me, I can’t remember how to do it. I can’t remember how to hold in my laughter when kids are being hilarious.

For several years, I was a public elementary school teacher. I was the queen of the stone face. When they farted, I didn’t laugh. When they said mean, but hilarious, things about each other, my face was stone. But tonight, holding in my laughter caused me to choke.

But then, she said it, “I will trade you! I will trade you if you keep playing.”

“No,” I said calmly, trying to mask my disappointment. I wanted to say, so badly, GOT DAMN IT YOU ARE WINNING FAIR AND SQUARE! DO NOT TRADE YOUR POSITION!

I didn’t yell that because these were just two kids, playing a game of “Chutes and Ladders”, the sister wiping the floor with the brother; the brother becoming so angry that he called it “the worst game of his life.” He might be right; he’s only 12.

He did not want to play anymore and his sister was heartbroken. I gave her a ball as a consolation prize; she had won after all, fair and square. But, she was sad that her brother didn’t want to play anymore.

She thought, because she was winning and was playing fair, that he, too, should do the same.

Sometimes, life is like that, too. In my experience, countless times, I just wanted to grab life by the neck and yell BUT THIS ISN’T FAIR!

Hey life! Don’t you see that I am trying? I am forgiving. I am funny. I am thoughtful. I am working to be better! I am working so hard. I am sober; I am always on time. I am all these things. I am dependable. I am the best friend I know how to be. I am the friend that I would want for myself! Got dammit life, don’t you see how hard I’m trying?!

But, often times, life has just smiled at me, patted me on the metaphorical head, and continued handing my ass to me. In this game, the option to not play is too dire; I have no desire to stop playing, but oh my god, I do wish it was fairer sometimes.

But, it is not.

Whether you’re winning at life, fair and square, life is ALWAYS going to be the victor, in the end. We can’t beat it. We can’t plan for every thing. Where there are ladders, there are inevitably chutes. You might fall down so many chutes that you forget what a ladder looks like. You might fall down chutes enough times that you begin to walk past the ladders, with fear holding your hand, carefully guiding you past even the chance to consider an opportunity to climb again.

Life isn’t like a great vending machine; you can’t put in your share and get something that is fair and expected in return.

Sometimes, I have put in quarters and gotten back flaming bags of dog shit. Sometimes, I have put in quarters and gotten back a perfect pair of black leather boots, you know, the kind that don’t pinch your feet and make you look so chic? Or, something like the equivalent of that.

Sometimes, I didn’t even have the option to trade my position. Sometimes I have given out my position, usually in the form of my heart or my trust, only to have it rejected. Sometimes I have given the very best I had to offer, and life simply told me, cold-heartedly and without flinching, that my best wasn’t enough this time.

It’s a hard lesson to learn. It’s not even really a hard lesson. It’s really just the game of life. It’s just how it is.

We play; we try; we give up our position; we plead, sometimes we beg. Sometimes, it just isn’t enough.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

I Don’t Care About You Anymore

I like to think of myself as a pretty open minded person. I have had the great fortune to live in places where I didn’t grow up, go places I never thought I’d go, and meet people I never thought I’d meet. I’m so thankful.

All of these experiences have given me the ability to accept, and admit to, receiving inspiration from almost anywhere.

As you read through my posts, and hopefully continue to read throughout the year, you will see a theme emerge: I AM KIND OF RANDOM.

And thanks to my innate randomness, I receive inspiration and connection in random places, like in the music of the ‘pop princess’ known as Ariana Grande.

I admit that I listen to and enjoy her music. I admit that I am a little afraid to type that and post it on the internet, given my, ahem, advanced age, but, here we are and there it is.

This little stanza gets me singing, horribly and enthusiastically, every time I am in the car alone: (taken from the song “I Don’t Care”

Used to cry ’bout some crazy shit before
I used to feel so obligated to be so much more
I used to let some people tell me how to live and what to be
But if I can’t be me, the fuck’s the point?

 

I have actually been singing it wrong the entire time. I have been singing “then what’s the point” instead of that more saucy version, but you get the idea.

This switch, to go from all of the damn CARING I used to do versus who I try to be, for myself and to myself, has really been serving me well.

I am naturally a loner and not really concerned about if or when most people don’t like me. But, I have cared in other stupid ways, like these:

  1. Worrying about other people’s problems when they don’t seem at all interested in their own problems
  2. Thinking I was “helping” by telling grown ass people what to do when they full well know what to do
  3. Listening as grown ass people describe how they took their outrageously stupid, albeit conscious choices, and royally screwed up their own lives

I have spent seemingly countless hours, genuinely worried about what other people were going to do, were they going to mess up, were they going to be ok, were they really going to eat 2 bananas when they know full well that even 1 banana makes them have bad gas.

But now, although it is a hard habit to break, I am working towards NOT DOING THAT. It might seem like such a friendly thing to do, to take on a friend’s emotional burden and store it away in your own mind, but it’s folly and bullshit. Don’t do it to yourself. Now that I am making the conscious effort to stop doing it, I can now do the following:

  1. Devote more time to my own horseshit
  2. Listen in a kinder way as my friends talk or vent (since I am no longer approaching things from a “can I help” point of view, I am now a better and calmer sounding board)
  3. Reduce my own intake of emotional energy

Now, I can really be ME and be authentic while I am listening to and interacting with other people. Now, I am choosing to just be more chill in general, to align my thoughts and feelings with the most authentic version of me. And, the most authentic version of me has her own horseshit to deal with, and acknowledges, perhaps most importantly, that my internal worry has never helped anyone or anything, not even myself.

So, to that end, I graciously tell you, that if you’re my friend, I love you, but I’m just here for you, right where we are and when we are. I’m no longer worrying about you later (most likely) and I would love to JUST listen to you. I trust your own guidance for your own life. I no longer feel obligated to participate in it inside my knuckle head.

Good luck to us both.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

Photo by Umberto Shaw from Pexels

https://www.pexels.com/photo/man-walking-on-floor-764880/

 

I’m Turning Into Them

There I was, hunched over the left, lower drawer of my desk. I like to call it “the desk” because it is so substantial that it both fills the room and emptied my purse when I bought it.

When it was assembled, the rack for the hanging file folders were put into the wrong slot. I have used the desk this way for almost a year. Tonight, dizzy and nauseated from what I believe is the making of a migraine, I decided to do something about it. I have no idea why.

I held the Phillips’ head screw in my left hand, and said “lefty loosey, righty tighty” aloud before proceeding to unscrew the three screws that needed to move. I was wearing slippers, working diligently and silently, with an air of mechanical confidence that I do not usually enjoy. It was just unscrewing a few screws and moving a bar, after all.

But, right then, I felt it. I felt, for a moment, like an adult, like adult versions of my mother and grandmother.

Today is January 8, the date my grandmother was born way back in 1921. If she had not passed away back in 1998, almost 20 years ago, she would have turned 97 years old today.

It has been a long time since I have seen or spoken to my grandmother, at least in this realm, but I cannot remember a single day, in almost two decades, that I have not thought of her.

Her and my mother represent the parts of me that I wish I could cultivate more. My mother is feeling, empathetic, concerned. My grandmother was stoic, upright, moral, serious. Sometimes she was gentle, but I remember her as being pretty serious pretty much most of the time. I am more like my grandmother in personality, but I admire my mother’s warmth.

Tonight, sitting at “the desk”, I felt a like a little bit of both of them. My mother is so knowledgeable about cars that she could be a mechanic if she had any desire to get dirt under her nails. My grandmother was seemingly so unshakable and confident, it seemed that very few things or people could get her riled up. The stories that I have heard from her life really inspire me, although I am unsure how she was able to still have a hopeful and faithful heart, having grown up poor and in the Jim Crow southern United States.

Both share an affinity for houseshoes and a “can-do” attitude. Perhaps that’s why I felt a connection to them both tonight, as I sat there unscrewing the screws, feet nicely snuggled in a pair of sling-back, fuzzy, striped slippers.

As I have gotten older, I have started to release some of the expectations that I have for myself to be like my mother and my grandmother. It’s a hard thing to do, to let go of the dream of your heroes and realize that your own life is worth living in its own way. And, that things are worth doing YOUR way, no matter who your role models have been.

For me, I realize that I am light years behind the skill set my grandmother had as a baker. I have been rudely reminded of this fact for the past decade, every time I attempted to make a red velvet cake. However, this year, I think I got it right, but in my own way.

I realize that I honestly may never have the high levels of emotion and empathy for others that my mother has. I am beginning to accept this as just a part of who I am. Perhaps I can spread love through the world through cake instead?

No matter how I phrase it, or how I think about it, at least some parts of me are turning into parts of my grandmother and mother. And that’s pretty awesome.

Happy birthday, Lula Bee ❤

Until tomorrow, my friends…

It’s the Little Things

Don’t laugh, but YES, that is a photo of a storage bench from Target.

A few days ago, I decided to finally rid myself of a problem that I have had for almost a year: no where to sit my fat ass down to put on my shoes.

For almost a year, I have stumbled around, scooting on my shoes, while leaning against the wall. Or, I would carefully hover my fat front half and the fatter back half of my ass on the side of the tub, praying that I wouldn’t fall in, as I tried to put on my shoes.

Have you ever done this? Have you ever tortured yourself in this way for a YEAR?

During the summer months, it wasn’t so bad. I usually wore flip flops, so I didn’t need any stability to slide into a pair of shoes.

However, during the winter months, trying to put on a pair of booties is not quite as carefree as scooting into a flashy pair of flat sandals.

So, a few days ago, I bought this bench. And today, I worked up the strength to carry it from the car to the bedroom. When it was time for me to put my shoes on this afternoon, I danced out of the closet, over the bench, and, yes, out loud, I said, TODAY I GET TO USE MY NEW BENCH!

I sat down and put on my gold booties. It was so easy. I was so damn grateful. Sometimes, it’s the little things. Or the things that are the size of a bench.

What are you grateful for today?

Until tomorrow, friends…