Weird Dreams #1

My waking brain may not be full of writing inspiration today, but thankfully, my sleeping brain is coming in with the hail Mary, throwing an incredible pass, with me here, sitting at my keyboard, waiting to catch it and share it with you.

Today’s post reveals a little known fact about me: I have WEIRD ASS DREAMS.

Do you?

This has been an affliction (or should I say gift?) for as long as I remember. I still remember one of the weirdest dreams that I ever had–one where I was hanging out with Patrick Stewart and the rest of the Star Trek Next Generation crew at an off-world theme park. Turns out, even in my dreams and even on a different planet, I still vomit if I ride the roller coaster. Go figure; just my luck. I remember having that dream when I was maybe in middle school.

Last night, I had a super weird dream, too.

In my dream last night, I was shopping at a local grocery chain named “Fiesta.” My friends who know me will know that this dream is already super weird because I absolutely loathe going into any of the Fiesta stores. They’re great stores, with seemingly mountains and mountains of produce, but they’re just so damn big that I feel lost before I even make it out of the parking lot.

Back to the dream…

So, I was walking around a Fiesta store, minding my own business, when out of nowhere, up walks a plainly dressed Denzel Washington.

YES, Denzel Washington. No, I have not thought about him or even seen one of his  movies since that one called “Fences”, which I think came out in 2016. I barely watch any television and the last movie I saw was “The Greatest Showman” and Hugh Jackman looks nothing like Denzel Washington. And, no, I have no idea what the f*ck, to be honest.

Let’s continue, now that you’re as confused, but hopefully amused, as me…

Mr. Washington is dressed in a rather drab, long brown trench coat. I don’t remember the rest of his garb, but I remember this hideous and unstylish coat, which makes him look like a sloppy old dude, instead of a dapper Hollywood movie star.

“Do you want to know a secret?” he asks.

I looked at him, in confusion and horror, still trying to figure out why on Earth his coat is so got damn ugly, and I shake my head.

“Uhh, no, no I don’t,” I rejected him. He looks confused and walks away. I remain confused, standing still.

He walks farther and farther away, and I stand still, in the dream, for what felt like at least five minutes. I watch him walk around the produce section, with the mountainous piles of oranges and avocados concealing his lower body. I watch him wind up and down the aisles, casually shopping for yellow rice and candies. He seemed so damn, hmm, REGULAR.

Eventually, I snap out of it, and decide that I’m being a huge creep, and I go about my own shopping. Later still, I think, Wait, who wouldn’t want to know a secret that Denzel Washington has?

As I am in a checkout line, I decide to apologize and ask him to tell me the secret. I get out of line, and frantically walk along the registers, looking for him. I spot him. I go over and get behind him in his line.

“Mr. Washington, umm, about before, well, umm, yeah, I’m sorry, and, umm, can I get in on that secret now?” I stumble.

He smiles and says, “Sure, but you’ll have to wait until we get to the parking lot now.”

We checked out, paid for our stuff, and he waits for me by the exit door. When we exit the door, the parking lot is expansive. There are hundreds of rows of cars, with seemingly every single parking spot full. There are people everywhere; it’s like a car show, but with groceries.

I am suddenly hit with a wave of anxiety.

“I don’t know where I parked my car,” I tell him, shaking with fear, feeling overwhelmed, the stimuli from the music from the cars and the movement from all of the people milling about feeling like a giant hand that is shaking me and throwing me around in my own mind.

“Follow me,” he instructs, and begins to walk.

We walk, and walk, turning our buggies this way and that way, meandering through the cars, somehow no one recognizing that Oscar winner and prolific actor, Denzel Washington, is cooly walking amongst them, in a parking lot at the Fiesta grocery store, leading a lost woman to her car, or somewhere, where she may hear a secret.

We dodge all kinds of obstacles–flung open doors, ruffigans giving us dirty looks, beggars asking for change. It is an absolute zoo.

And then, I wake up.

I never find out what Denzel’s secret was.

I never find my car.

I never get my groceries home.

I never find out why in the bloody hell I’d ever be caught at a Fiesta grocery store.

And I never find out why Denzel’s coat was so got damn ugly.

 

What do you think?

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.

Understanding I Know Nothing 

Today isn’t a cheat day, but I will admit that I am somewhat hurriedly writing this from the tub, where I desperately need to soak.

Ongoing stress is continuing to wreck my body, but I’m doing my best to get the almost constant aches under control through massage, meditation, and warm soaks. Oh, and at least two Advil a day. Please, no one tell my liver.

I know that the tension and pain I am feeling is due to stress. I know that it is temporary.  I’m trying to remember that when I feel the discomfort. 

Everything is temporary.  I can’t be uncomfortable forever because I can’t BE HERE forever.  That’s morbid, but thinking that way does put the stressors and the stress in perspective. 

I am thankful because man, I am learning a lot. Every day, I learn something new it seems, and I am reminded of how little I know about anything at all, including myself.

To help me along on this journey of self discovery, the Universe sent me an angel, in the form of a friend, who gave me a copy of Eckhart Tolle ‘s book, “A New Earth: Awakening Your Life’s Purpose.”

What are you reading? Has anything you read recently really changed your life?

Stay hopeful…

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…

Meaningful Media

A writer is a reader

A good writer is an avid reader.

In the past, I have been asked about how I acquired my command of the English language.  Even though English is notoriously difficult to learn, it can be done with some ease if you read. A lot. All the time.

I have recently rediscovered my fondness for poetry books and personal anecdotes.  I’ve also purchased two issues of “The New Yorker ” in the past month. It’s always good for highly intellectual articles and a challenge to my vocabulary skillset.

Last week, I fell in love with this little book. I read it in a day.  It’s a personal anecdote about meeting life’s changes humbly. I loved it.

What are you reading?

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…

My Definition of Trust

When I was a kid, I went to church services twice on Sundays. I am thankful for this time in my life because I received training and exposure to general life guidance that I continue to rely on, even now.

Tonight, while sitting in the tub, I thought of one thing I learned during one of those many Sundays spent in church: “to trust is to not worry.”

I thought about that quote, and the different ways I have heard it repeated over the years:

  1. Worry is the absence of faith
  2. Worry is the absence of trust
  3. Worry is the absence of hope

You get the idea.

I thought of this idea, and the variations of it, and how I have applied it to my current life circumstances. My current life is a great mix of haves and have nots. The past two years have been tumultuous in many ways. I have been given the opportunity to learn from good experiences, heal from bad ones, and really spend a lot of quality time with myself, rummaging around my overactive mind, searching for and then sometimes rejecting, who Nicole really is.

Through my life’s challenges, there have been many, many opportunities to worry. And I am here to openly admit that I have usually taken every single one of those opportunities.

If I could add to the list above, I might add: “To worry is to exist as Nicole.”

I have always been a worrier. In the past, I have worried about the minuscule and the mountainous. I have worried about everything from how flashy my glasses are, to what classical music album to buy to play for my cats. Many of my worries start out as casual thoughts, then progress to concerns, and end up, right smack dab in the middle of Worry Town. I am, perhaps, the mayor of Worry Town, population me and my imagination.

Nowadays, I am more conscious and I have been able to quell a lot of my worrying, especially the silly things that I used to worry about. To be honest, though, I do still thank myself for the worry that led to research about what music to play for your cats. I have some of the smartest and relaxed cats to have ever lived.

But tonight, I thought about how I do not view my worrying as a lack of faith, trust, or hope. For me, just because I have faith that something will work out doesn’t mean I no longer worry about it. No matter what it is, from landing a new client to overcoming an obstacle in a personal relationship, both of these ideas and behaviors exist, simultaneously, in my mind and in my actions: for me, there is both faith and worry. There is both hope and worry. There is both trust and worry.

With that in mind, and with a newfound acceptance of how I can grow (i.e., learning to not worry about *some* things and accepting my seemingly innate and humanistic tendency to worry in general), I am writing myself a new definition of TRUST.

Trust: (noun) To keep TRYING.

I think worry and trust can actually be good friends, if they’re approached in a positive way. So, for me, if I keep trying, that means I am still maintaining my levels of hope and faith. Sure, along the way, I will most likely worry about how well things are going, if there’s something more I can do, if I need to perhaps change course, etc. But, as long as I am still trying, then I have not lost hope, faith, or trust that things will work out for the best.

Here are some examples that came to mind:

Perhaps you’d like to change careers and things are not taking off as quickly as you’d like. Since you need money for ripe avocados and car payments, naturally, you might worry sometimes. But, did you keep pursuing your dream, despite being worried or even failing at some things? Well, then you still have trust, hope, and faith.

Or, perhaps you’d like to change something about yourself, emotionally, physically, or spiritually. Perhaps on Monday you cussed out the guy driving the gray Audi who cut you off in traffic and then on Tuesday you helped an old lady cross the street. You worried about how much of an asshole you are on Monday night and wallowed in your gracious glory on Tuesday. But regardless, did you at least get a tiny bit more aware of yourself?

Or, did you use that gym membership at least one time during the month? You might worry about how you fail, and fail a lot, but, if you keep trying, then you haven’t yet lost faith in yourself. You’re continuing to trust the path that you’re pursuing. And learning to trust yourself!

To trust is to keep trying, to keep going, not to ignore (or lie about) the internal fears and conflicts that we all suffer from.

Just keep going. It’s going to be ok.

Until tomorrow…