Resilience

My Post (2)The good thing about the COVID-19 madness going on right now is that many people, myself included, are finding ways to reconnect with long lost hobbies (or people). The long lost hobby that I have personally reconnected with, if you can’t tell from the dates of my last three posts, is writing.

Writing always makes me feel better. I have journalled since I was in first grade and in the past when I’ve been especially down, reading the thoughts of a 7 year old version of myself always put me in a better mood. It’s so lovely.

Today, I wrote the following poem about resilience. I hope that reading it makes you feel a little more strong and able to continue on while the world is affected by the coronavirus.

 

RESILIENCE

3/20/20     4:08 pm

I am wind,

Flexible and free,

Present, yet unseen,

Moving, yet sometimes still

I am an energy to be felt.

I am oak,

Strong and sure

Changing,

Growing,

Enduring,

Evolving,

Adapting.

Sometimes, I forget these things.

Sometimes, I don’t remember that I am capable,

That I am resilient.

Sometimes, the reflection in the mirror appears weakened, broken, and sad.

Sometimes, I cannot see because I cannot rest.

I am the whole universe,

Experiencing this tumult, just as everyone else, just as every other universe, just as you.

Together, we are changing, growing, enduring, evolving, and adapting.

Together, we can rest, and remember. 

Caring for Others, Part 2

I have a few more thoughts on what I wrote about yesterday.

When my grandmother taught me how to not be a little ungrateful jerk when I was offered those horrid bananas, she also taught me another lesson: care for yourself.

I have to admit that I am just becoming more practiced at self care, but I suppose a few decades late is better than never.

My grandmother didn’t force me to eat the banana. In fact, I don’t remember being forced to do much of anything as a child. I was encouraged to have an open mind, but never forced into anything.

I think that was an important part of my development into a somewhat carefree kind of person. I understand the importance of not forcing anyone into any thing, which makes me pretty hands off with people. I’m not the friend who is going to ask you to have just one more drink. I’m the friend who doesn’t give a shit when you willingly decide to do so, for yourself.

That little lesson from grandma also means that it’s important to not put the expectations of others before your own wants and desires, if you’re not hurting anyone. My grandmother cared more about me being a nice person than being an obedient one.

Thanks grandma.

I also have to truly thank my mother, too. She reinforced those same values in me. Sometimes she had to counter balance my natural propensity to constantly “Do my own thing” by teaching me the importance of making friends and all that hootienannie. But, I’m very thankful for those lessons, too, mom.

Until tomorrow my friends…

It Doesn’t Matter

Do you ever feel like no one understands you?

How you feel? Your humor? Your off putting affinity for skulls? Your not so secret desire to live on an island?

Do you ever feel so alone?

Maybe you share some of those feelings and maybe you have some quirks of your own that make you feel ostracized sometimes.

I can relate. Some days, it feels like “Ostracized” is my middle name.

I don’t regularly do the two seemingly most common American activities: drink alcohol and watch tv.

If I had to guess, I would say that on average, I have about one martini every 8 weeks and watch about 1-3 hours of internet videos a week. I watch no regular tv shows, even though I do plan to catch up on “The X-Files” soon.

Do you know what these facts make me? Well, they make me almost a social pariah.

People are so strangely uncomfortable when I tell them I don’t drink much and I watch almost no television. They think that I’m odd, and technically, they’re right.

I feel odd and I feel misunderstood.

I use the examples of television and alcohol as somewhat light hearted examples, but I’ve also often felt deeply misunderstood, sometimes even telling myself that I will NEVER find someone who understands me.

Well, here’s the thing: IT DOES NOT MATTER. So the f*ck what?

Recently, I was listening to an Eckhart Tolle talk and he addressed the ongoing need that we can sometimes have to feel understood. And of course, when our version of understanding does not come, we make ourselves feel miserable. We tell ourselves horrible things, like no one will ever understand, or we are terrible for being so odd, so on and so forth.

But all of those things are unknown. Maybe you’ll find the jelly to your peanut butter. Maybe you’re just a singular, delicious nut spread.

Regardless, the better focus is on understanding yourself. There’s so much focus that we can develop on what other people are giving us that we neglect to give ourselves anything.

So, maybe your family thinks you’re nuts? You might actually be a little weird. Maybe no one does understand you.

SO WHAT?

Do you, who has the most access to you,understand you?

No?

Then you’ve already got enough things to do.

So many, in fact, that you might not have much time to watch the tele.

Until tomorrow my friends…

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…

5 Things I No Longer Apologize For

Who am I kidding? When have I ever apologized?

Just joking…I have apologized before, but I have to admit that I have used apologies quite sparingly in the past.

These five behaviors are really more like five things I have been embarrassed about in the past and perhaps no one that I know would have any idea that I used to be a little self conscious about these things.

My Affinity for Mayonnaise 

I am that person who asks for a little more, and then some more, and then just one more pass, and then just a tiny bit more mayonnaise at Subway. Or McDonald’s. Or Burger King. Or anywhere. I absolutely love mayo and when I first when to Paris and learned that the French eat mayonnaise with their fried potatoes, I felt that I had finally found a lost piece of my heart and soul.

My Affinity for the Color Red

A few months ago, a friend commented on how there’s a LOT of red things in my house. He opened the cupboards and counted all the spots where he saw something the color red. He counted a lot of things.

I absolutely LOVE red. Red anything. Lipstick, standing mixers, cars, doors, pens, it just doesn’t matter. Red is the color of life to me. Once, I was brave enough to paint the biggest wall in my apartment bright red, like stop sign red. Needless to say, that was my favorite apartment.

My General Dislike of Most of Humanity

I’m not a people person and I don’t understand how anyone could be. I have a LOT of respect for people who seem to just endlessly enjoy the company of other people. I am not one of them.

I am not introverted, however. On the rare occasion I do find a person I quite enjoy, I could spend lots of time with them and not get sick of them. I am pretty friendly and can be quite social. I just strongly prefer my own company and the peace that being alone provides. Is that weird? Don’t answer that question in the comments section.

I have been reprimanded pretty much my entire life, from childhood to yesterday, about how I have such low interest in other people. I am an intensely private person and usually operate under the presumption that so is everyone else and they don’t usually want to be bothered.

I suppose I look at it as if I DO hang out with you, you can be 100% sure that I like you and I want to be there. I think that’s better than the plethora of phony friendships that most people experience throughout their lives. In a way, perhaps I am a trendsetter.

My Indifferent Feelings Towards Mexican Food

I might lose a lot of friends because of what I am going to write next, but, I am not a huge fan of Mexican food. Where I live, in Houston, err body and their momma has a favorite Mexican place, and it’s usually not Taco Bell. Aside from some stellar street tacos I had one time, Chinese food remains numero uno in my book. I also have a very, very high affinity for Indian and Italian food.

How My Aging Body Looks and Feels Sometimes

Have you ever lived in a body that has lived over THIRTY FIVE years? Goodness grief, let me be the one to tell you, living thirty five years is an awesome blessing, but by this time in the game of life, your body might be telling you to sit down sometimes.

So, now when I am tired, I rest. If I am sick, I rest. That might mean cancelling plans sometimes, but I am over apologizing for it. Still being alive is a blessing and having the life experiences to teach me to better take care of my body is *also* a blessing.

I also wax my eyebrows less regularly and I occasionally just put on things I want to wear, with little regard to how well it matches. Last week, I wore a red and white whale print cardigan with a pair of burgundy and white checkerboard boat shoes. I could tell that the two reds did not perfectly match, but I looked in the mirror, smiled, and said, “This is what I look like today.” No one gave even half a shit and this strange outfit did not affect my day in a negative way at all. It was glorious.

New style trend to watch for in Vogue: plaid and whale prints.

 

What are some things that you don’t apologize for anymore?

Let me know in the comments below! Also, I TOTALLY FORGOT to write yesterday. I literally have no excuse. I just plain ole forgot. My bad, y’all.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

3 Songs I am Embarrassed to Admit I Love

Do you ever sing in the car?

Like REALLY belt it out?

I sing in the car like my life and driving abilities depend on my singing. The music is usually very loud to drown out my own voice, but I wonder if I might have a really great singing voice. I’ve never sang in front of people, but even without the affirmation from other people, I know that I am no Whitney Houston.

But, maybe I could be a Miley Cyrus?

Part of my desire in creating this blog is to develop more comfort with myself through sharing more things about myself, with the world, metaphorically naked, for all the world to see.

So, without much more explanation, here is some information that is essentially the equivalent to me baring my soul. Here are three songs that I absolutely love, but am kind of embarrassed that I like.

1. Miley Cyrus: “Party in the U.S.A.”

How can you  not like this song? It’s essentially about a girl moving to a new town and feeling scared. I have done this, IN REAL LIFE, two times. When I first moved to Houston, I played Gwen Stefani’s “L.A.M.B.” album pretty much on repeat, to find courage to be here alone. I can totally relate to this song! Feeling out of place, feeling homesick, feeling pressured–all of those things SUCK! But, when a song you love comes on, you know you’re gonna be o-kayyy (like she sings in the song).

2. Cardi B: “Bodak Yellow”

BIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIIITCH. I love this damn song!

Ok, enough profanity on this blog. But, do not click the link to listen to this song if you do not enjoy profanity. Here are some admissions I should make about this song: 1) I don’t know what the title means and I’ve never Googled it. 2) What is this song about, like, really, in the greater meaning of life and the universe? I have no idea at all. 3) I am perhaps totally shallow because I really enjoy this song, even though it’s primarily about being rich and wearing “red bottoms”. Those are Louboutin shoes, for all you people out there who are busy thinking about important things instead of designer shoes.

I became a little obsessed over this song, and eventually read about Cardi B’s life. Turns out, she was a physically and mentally abused stripper who hustled her way into the rap game. Like her music or not, you gotta respect her hustle and desire to get out of her less than desirable situation. I can literally rap along with this song, line for line. Please, no one tell my mother.

 

3. Train: “Drops of Jupiter”

I have been teased about my affinity for “White boy music” (whatever the f*ck that truly means) since I first began to listen to Alanis Morissette back in 6th grade aka a LONG TIME AGO.

More recently, I was teased for liking Train. A friend told me that “all of their music was garbage” and I just have to politely disagree. I love the lead singer’s unusual and somewhat raspy voice and I LOVE the quirkiness of their lyrics.

My favorite lyric is “Did you miss me while you were looking for yourself out there?” The lyrics don’t plainly make sense, but there’s something about this song that I just inherently understand and I don’t really know why.

 

So, there’s my embarrassing list! But, before I go crawl into a hole, tell me your most loved, yet most embarrassing songs.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

What It’s Like: PERIODS!

I’ve decided to do a few posts where I describe, in a humorous, yet truthful way something that I am experiencing or have experienced in the near past. I don’t know how many of these I will do, but I am already really entertained by this idea, so I might do quite a few of them.

These will give me fodder into the new month, which is only today and tomorrow, but, well, let’s hope for the best.

Let’s start off with an explanation of what it’s like to have a period, aka menstruation cycle.

If you’re a man, do NOT stop reading right now. I will not give you any of the more moist details. Instead, I will regale you with anecdotes about the monthly visitor with which you have no experience. Men, be thankful for that! Oh, you already are? Oh, great.

Without further ado, I will “femsplain” my experience with periods.

Symptom One: Everyone Else is Awake

Welcome to the special hell that is the emotional roller coaster period town! The most awful part of having a period is really not the pain or the inconvenience. The worst part is OTHER PEOPLE. Other people will constantly walk around you, awake, alert, and existing, all while you sleepily look at them and wonder how you can make them all disappear.

This symptom is my favorite one, and it decided to come later in life, which is entirely, and utterly bullshit, in my opinion. Once, I was so tired, that I had to close the door to my office. I told myself that familiar lie: “I’ll just put my head down for a moment.” Of course, I immediately fell asleep and the next thing I knew, a co-worker was knocking on my door because it was time to go to Panera Bread for lunch. I’d been asleep for 30 minutes. Don’t tell my former boss.

Symptom Two: Everyone Drives So F*cking Badly and Even More F*cking Slowly

I don’t know if this happens to other people, but when I have my monthly marauder, the rest of the town somehow finds out. I think it might be the FBI tapping into my phone and then publishing the news in the local newspaper. I am sure of it.

The drivers of my town obviously read the newspaper and then simultaneously get in their cars and use the GPS on my phone to find my location. Then, all of the drivers in town proceed to follow me around, consistently driving at least 5 mph below the speed limit. This synchronized driving hell happens for the duration of my ailment, and then miraculously, everyone drives like the regular assholes I’ve come to expect on the road. It’s strange. Should I call Snowden and report this? Everyone is plotting against me.

Symptom Three: My Refrigerator Becomes Small

For those few days a month, my refrigerator shrinks. There’s simply not enough space in there to keep all of the food that I need to consume. I need space for sparkling water, yogurt, donuts, sweet tea, pie, cake, steak, baked potatoes, salad, salad dressing, avocados, etc. No matter what size refrigerator it is, there’s simply not enough food inside. It’s strange. The thing works fine the rest of the month.

Symptom Four: Dogs are the Best and Children Can’t be Quiet Enough

I am a cat person. I could also be a dog person. But, a period makes me want to adopt every dog on television. I hide my credit cards during period time so I don’t end up adopting every dog that comes on those “save the pets” infomercials late at night. The insomnia, which also comes with this time of the month, ensures that I am awake to watch infomercials, so it is very important that I do not have a credit card handy. I need to keep all that money to buy food that won’t fit in my refrigerator.

And speaking of small, living things, children become extra noisy during this time of the month. Even if a child is sleeping peacefully, and snoring quietly, I still secretly want to yell SOMEONE SHUT THAT DAMN BABY UP when it’s that time of the month. I don’t know; I guess I get something like super sonic hearing.

Symptom Five: Morphine Drip Bags are a Necessity 

Midol? Ha ha ha, get that shit out of here. Give those to your infants when they have a fever. Pamprin? Ha ha ha, pink sugar pills with no use other than to drop in your tea for sweetener. Morphine? Yes, please pass the drip bags and the needles. Thank you, very much.

And that’s it, ladies and gentlemen. You now know what it’s exactly like to have a period! It’s not so bad, is it?

Gentlemen: did you read until the end? Give yourself a big ole pat on the back. Go treat yourself to a Snickers bar.

Ladies: What’s your favorite symptom? You, too, deserve a Snickers bar!

Thanks for reading and being weird with me.

Until next time, my friends…

Awaiting Death While Enjoying Kindness

A little over a year ago, I reconnected with an uncle-in-law that I used to see often as a child. He is now 82 years old, having had his most recent birthday on New Year’s Eve.

He was married to my Aunt, who passed away a few months before I graduated from college. Since I was the first person in my family to earn a Bachelor’s degree, walking across the stage and knowing she wasn’t in the crowd was both exhilarating and heartbreaking, at the same time.

He has outlived her for many years now, and thanks to a mismailed letter from the good ole United States government, I have reconnected with him.

I go to his house, on average about 3 times a week. I help him with his finances; I run errands. I now know that he gets a kick out of it when I bring him family sized bags of Ricola lozenges. I introduced him to Ricola lozenges, and when I first gave him a bag, I sang the all too familiar REEE COOO LAAAA jingle from the commercial. Now, sometimes he sings it back to me when I show up with a new bag.

He uses a lot of cough drops because, among other health ailments, he has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, better known as COPD. It prevents him from breathing while sometimes keeping him occupied with a lingering cough.

He doesn’t venture out of his house much anymore. And even though he has a cable subscription, he enjoys watching the same black and white westerns that I imagine he watched as a child and much younger man.

And even though his body is failing him, his mind, and his awareness of his long life and long suffering, are still very strong. Most days, his mind is clearer and stronger than mine is or has ever been. He remembers street names, people names, events, and lots of other things from my childhood that I have long forgotten or perhaps never even knew.

Today, I went to visit him. I took him two bags of the family sized Ricola lozenges and two stacks of low sodium Pringles chips. He was delighted to have the surprises. I also took him homemade biscuits and white gravy with sausage, both of which I made this morning. I also took him two bowls of homemade stew, which I made two nights ago. Everything turned out great and I think he enjoys and understands the value of homecooked food more than an average person.

You see, my now elderly Uncle was married to the most prolific cook in our family. My Aunt cooked EVERYTHING and all the time. I have heard stories of her banging around pots in the morning, and when she was discovered cooking at those wee hours, she simply said, “You want something to eat?’

She was simply amazing.

I think of her every time I cook something for my uncle. I actually think of her in two ways: one, an impossible way, when I ask myself, “How would she have made this?” Alas, that question is impossible because I generally have no idea. Second, a bittersweet way, when I think to myself, “I think she would approve” when something turns out good.

I know that nowadays, a lot of people eat out for almost every meal. I totally understand; I picked up a “chicken box” (as my mom calls them) from Church’s Chicken on the way home, not wanting to bang around my own pots and spend more time in the kitchen today. I also have another takeout box in my refrigerator right now.

But, to me, there’s something very special about home cooked food, especially when someone who cares about you makes it. When I make food for people, it is always with great care and hope that it will be really, really great. No, I do not always make the best tasting food, and certainly it is not all restaurant quality, but I have never served something to other people that I just flopped together, carelessly. I like to reserve my lower skillset for myself, on those nights when I feel self critical about dialing up a delivery man to bring me some grub.

Today, when I took my uncle the food, he went on and on about it. In my work of getting to know myself better and understanding why I am the way I am, I have recognized that I love the admiration of an eater.

Oh,  your cake looks beautiful! (*blushes!*)

Oh, your cake is moist! (*double blushes!*)

Oh, this cake is better than box / store bought! (*oh, gosh, don’t kill me with your kind words!*)

After he thanked me for the food and assured me that he knew it was delicious before even trying it, we talked about the city where we both used to live, many years ago, my hometown. Today, he didn’t mention his own death, but he usually does. Today is less somber; today he is excited to learn about my new client. And he told me another story about my father, whom I never knew personally, and how yes, I am like him in a lot of ways in terms of my personality, but no, I shouldn’t worry about it because even though my father had a well-deserved reputation of being a cold, rule following asshole, I am still a good person, even if I have some of those traits. Or, even if I have all of those traits.

I leave there feeling good about myself. I feel appreciated. I feel like I did a good thing, hanging out with my uncle for a few hours, and taking him food that might somewhat resemble the food he used to eat from my aunt’s magical hands.

If you have time tomorrow, hang out with someone who will truly enjoy your company. I suggest picking someone ages 0-10 or 60-the rest. I’m sure you won’t regret it.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

 

Here’s to Having a Good Time

I am loved.

Some days, we might not feel like it. Other days, we are fortunate enough to have our cups runneth over with love. Today, I had one of those overflowing with love kind of days.

The worry and heartache of the past 18 months or so have given me a new found gratitude for almost everything. Now that I know what it is like to worry all day, every day, the feeling of being in the present, and recognizing all the ways that I am loved, well, let’s just say it’s amazing.

Even when I am alone I feel loved. Tonight, I had an amazing opportunity to have a new experience with an old friend…to celebrate me being older. You can’t beat that.

I am just so thankful.

A few days ago, driving across town, I got into a short space of an almost meditative state. Even though I was driving on the freeways, my mind slowed down to appreciate the bright blue of the sky, the shimmering glass of the towering buildings whirling by, the flight of the synchronized birds overhead. It was lovely and I felt loved, even in that moment of almost organized chaos.

I am so thankful.

Being thankful and more mindful has helped me loosen up my definitions of myself. Before tonight, I would have emphatically said that I was not the kind of person to go on stage during a burlesque (what they call “boylesque” , since it featured gentlemen) show. But now, there’s video proof that I did go on stage and rhythmlessly girate my huge ass around for about 90 seconds. That video proof my night ever see the light of day, but, it exists.

I am just so blessed, so thankful, so loved.

I hope you are , too.

Until tomorrow, my friends…

A Dirty Word

I finally know why I hate the term “introvert.”

I’ve never liked it, even though many people like me identify themselves as an introvert.

I have introverted qualities.

I don’t particularly enjoy the company of other people, usually, and I’ve always been like that.

The people I do usually enjoy are people like me, who also don’t really enjoy the company of other people. As you can imagine, mostly liking people who don’t like people while being a person who doesn’t like people can make relationships very difficult, to say the least.

I like quiet. Aside from blasting music from my stereo, I strongly prefer if almost everyone and everything was quiet all the time. Unnecessary noise is absolutely maddening to me. Perhaps this is why I hate small talk? A person making unnecessary noise is one of the most terrible things that can happen, in my opinion.

I love animals. I go to parties and immediately find the animals more interesting . I’ve told people not to take it personally, but frankly, to hell with it, the honest truth is I do prefer your dog or cat to you, most likely.

I could go on, but you get the point. But, whenever I have been called an introvert, I have to admit that I arrogantly denied the claim and laughed it off in a cynical manner.

But if you see a duck, and that duck quacks, if the duck is waddling around, waiting for you to throw the crackers on the ground, then how dare the damn duck not just accept that it is, in fact, a duck?

Because I’m not just a got damn duck.

Because I’m not just an introvert.

Because to hell with yet another label. Because to hell with me applying a label to myself. I have the rest of the world to stick labels on me.

I’m a dynamic being. I’m not shy; I’m selective with whom I choose to spend energy. I’m not quiet; I’m just genuinely not interested and I’m preserving my energy by not fawning interest.

I’m not an asshole; I’m frank. This is something that is not always appreciated.

I’m not callous; I’m apologetic when the sorry truly comes from my heart.

I’m a dynamic speaker. I’m funny. I’m a storyteller. I’m a listener. I’m engaging. I read people; I’m on the same plane as them. I am blessed with an admirable ability to coax secrets from strangers.

I’m a lot of stuff.

You’re a lot of stuff, too.

I say to hell with labeling yourself as something because as soon as you do that, you remove the possibility that you could be, and likely are, a lot of other interesting things.

You, like me, are dynamic. The dynamic nature of your humanness means you will be this and that, both now and then.

You’re awesome.

And I’m amazing.

I’m not an introvert.

I’m Nicole.