A Challenge Within A Challenge

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Two days this past week, I didn’t feel like there was much going on upstairs. A writer needs a brain to, you know, write.

Some days are like today, when I was actually zonked out on the couch watching YouTube videos, until I looked at the clock and thought OH SHIT! I forgot to write my entry for today.

Other days produce posts like what I wrote yesterday, when the words seemingly poured out of my mind, with ease and emotion. Only three people have clicked on the post from yesterday, even though I think it’s the best one I’ve written so far, so please check it out, if you’re so inclined.

For the next five working days, I am going to throw myself a bone and do a challenge. You know what a challenge is: it’s when someone says they’ll do something for a finite amount of time and then talks about it for that finite amount of time.

So, for the next five days, I am challenging myself to get out of bed whenever I first wake up, if the time is 5:30 am or later. So, if I wake up at 4:45 am, I am taking my ass back to sleep. But, if I wake up at 5:41 am, I am going to do the thing where one moves their body from the bed and into the waking world, ready to take on adventures.

I wonder how this will go? I am sure this activity will give me some fodder for the next few days. I am sure it’ll suck, too, because I change the sheets on Sunday nights, so I am basically dooming myself to spend less time with my fresh sheets come morning time.

What do you think? How will I do?

Have you ever tried this? Leave me a comment below…

Until tomorrow, my friends…

My Calm Birthday

Today is my birthday.

Last night, I had to pleasure of sitting around a large table, in a restaurant, eating, drinking, and enjoying the company of people I am fortunate enough to call friends.

I also did not have to wash a single dish yesterday or today, which is the beauty of going out to eat.

I love the energy of my friends. I might not see all of them very regularly, but I love them all the same, regardless of the frequency of our visits.

Today was my actual birthday, however. I turned 35. I don’t feel particularly old in my heart, even though I often times feel a little beat up or achy in my body. I am working on remedying that through a better diet and more active lifestyle.

I think there are a few clues to the youth of my heart, however. My mind  and soul are old. My body is getting older. But my heart has the joy and interests of probably any teenager. Here are some random highlights from my day.

I Tried to Help

The first thing I did when I left the house today was to check the mailbox. My mom had sent me a card and I went to get it. Somehow, the door of the mailboxes had come undone. I honestly stood there, in mild horror, trying to figure out how to fix it. I even looked around for an older person, even though, one could argue, that at 35, many people would consider ME the older person.

I thought: maybe if an older person, or a handy looking man (or woman) walked by, they’d know what to do. They’d have tape. Is it ok to put tape on a mailbox? Is that a federal offense? 

Not wanting to commit a possible federal offense by using tape on a mailbox, and not wanting to draw much attention to myself as the discoverer of the undone mailbox, I left it in this state, using some construction materials I found lying on the ground.

It is not the best solution, but perhaps there won’t be mail and sales flyers all over the place by tomorrow, when the real adult, ermm, I mean, the mailman, comes by to check out the situation.

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My Music Tastes are Both Low and High Brow

John Mayer’s “Badge and Gun” is one of my favorite songs, but I say that about almost all John Mayer songs. I mean, really, it’s like he’s in my head sometimes.

The song is about a guy who has tried really hard to do what he was supposed to do, whatever that was, and now he’s just going to go on about his way, both metaphorically and literally.

It’s both joyous and somber, which I know sounds odd, but those are the things I feel when I listen to it. It’s basically an ode to the peace one feels when you can honestly say, “I tried real hard” but in the next breath say, “But I also give up.”

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And while it’s nice and all to be all cerebral and listen to the seemingly deeply personal lyrics of a John Mayer song, of course I also had to listen to “In Da Club” by 50 Cent because there’s literally only one day of the year when, yes, shawty, it is indeed, yo birthday.

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My Fashion Tastes Are De-Volving 

Devolving is the opposite of evolving. For a long time, I was a school teacher. Then, for a longer time, I worked in corporate America. My wardrobe has changed, but just between you and me, I absolutely LOVE fashion with whimsy. I will buy and wear almost anything that is red, any shade of red, from light pink to one of my favorites, a deep, moody shade of oxblood. I love it all.

These shoes make me especially joyous and with the light wind and crystal bright sunshine, they seemed to dance off my feet. A random guy even passed me and yelled: I LIKE THOSE SHOES. He, too, was wearing red shoes.

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I Am Still Working on Other Parts of Being an Adult

I am working on reorganizing my closet and I ordered this thing from Amazon. Of course it came flat packed and required assembly.

It was pretty easy to assemble, but I absolutely hate assembling things, so I had to fight my disdain for 30 minutes and use another 30 minutes to assemble it. But, when I was done, I was actually quite proud. I did something productive on my birthday, and that was nice.

However, I am also a 35 year old woman who bought a $16 fabric thing from Amazon to put stuff in. Shouldn’t I be at Ashley Furniture, buying a proper chest of drawers? Perhaps, when I am 40.

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Over all, it was a beautiful day. I had a very peaceful day and am still reeling from how thankful I feel for all of the people in the world who love me.

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…

A Trip to IKEA

Yes, today, I am going to write about the trip that I took to IKEA today. I could write about the most impactful people and times of my life every day, but what would be the fun in that?

Have you ever played hooky from work and went to do something that would otherwise be tedious or boring but because you are SUPPOSED to be working, that thing is now the most magical activity ever? That’s what it’s like to go to IKEA at 2:00 pm on a Wednesday.

The parking was easy, navigating the aisles were easy, walking past their vast collection of printed napkins was not easy.

This trip to IKEA wasn’t especially interesting or revolutionary. I went there to look their offerings in the home office storage department. I took lots of photos of things I would like or would use. I actually only bought a glass bowl to organize my tea collection and two fabric closet organizers. I didn’t even bother to pay 50 cents for a bag, or whatever they cost nowadays.

I love going to IKEA and seeing all the nifty ways they display living solutions on the showroom floor. I always leave there thinking, oh, yeah, I could totally live in less than 300 square feet, even though I am sure the smallest apartment I’ve ever lived in was at least twice that size.

I am also a little achy today, and I am admittedly not feeling very creative. Too much time slumped over my computer coupled with general and ongoing anxiety, has left me in one big ole knot.

What mundane thing did you do today?

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…

Cheat Day #1

I predicted this.

I predicted, before I started this experiment, this commitment, that some days, I will just be exhausted and not have the will to write.

What will I do on these days? Break my commitment to writing everyday? Well, no , not exactly, but kind of.

On these days, let’s call this cheat day #1, I will share something that I have written in the past. The rules are: 1) It can be anything that I have written in the past and 2) I will not edit it to change the meaning or tone of what I meant at that time.

So, please enjoy this strange, one page anecdote that I wrote way back, almost 7 years ago, on 08/24/2011.

ENJOY

 

A day in the life of corporate America (or The Little Leaf that Could)

 

Today at work, I was sitting outside the building, taking what I like to call my non-smoker smoke break. I came up with this idea after seeing fellow smoking co-workers eagerly plod down the hallway past my office, off to take their smoke breaks. I became a bit jealous, admittedly, and decided to simply go outside, too (and not smoke).

So there I sat, on the green, cast iron rocking chairs in front of my building. A young, blond girl from Human Resources, in all of her young and blonde glory, came by and asked what I was doing. I thought the answer to that question was rather obvious. I was obviously sitting in a chair, rocking back forth, hence the name of the chair. That description describes one hundred percent of my activity at that time. But, I knew her asking the obvious question was an attempt to make conversation, so I decided to one-up her. Not only would I answer her question; I would answer it with a bit of wit and humor.

“I am warming up,” I said, referring to the freezing 65°F that is the normal temperature for our office building.

“Ha ha…that shouldn’t take too long,” she replied. She went on to chat for a few more minutes about some topic in which I was even less interested. I was honestly very happy to see her enter the building. I was tired of both envying her gorgeous shoes and feigning interest in her uninteresting story.

So, returned to my peaceful sitting. No iPhone in my hand. No computer in front of me. Just sitting. And just then, I had an epiphany. Instead of just looking straight ahead (into the parking lot full of good ole’ boy trucks parked next to pretentious eco-friendly trash), why won’t I look UP? UP! UP!! How often do adults look up at the clouds? I wondered to myself. So, I looked up. I relaxed my fluffy ponytail and head on the back of the chair and looked up at the sky. My eyes seemed to react…they seemed to wonder what I was doing. I decided to try to find shapes in the clouds, like little kids do (or something).

I looked for a few seconds when from the corner of my left eye, I saw a small leaf fluttering down, seemingly coming from nowhere. It made its slow descent and landed on one of the tables. I was almost shocked. No, I was completely shocked. Shocked because there are no trees around for quite some distance. There are especially no trees on top of the building. And the leaf just seemed to float down from exactly nowhere.

I looked around. I looked up. Not wanting to seem silly or even the least bit un-cool, I casually stood up and stretched. I even faked a little moan when I stretched, you know, to seem like my stretch was the most authentic stretch ever stretched. I sauntered over to the leaf and looked down. I looked up again, to try to see where it may have come from. Still, no idea. I picked up the small leaf and looked into the windows of the building next to me. The dark tint prevented me from seeing how many people were staring down at me and this incredible, appearing from nowhere, little leaf.

I knew that there were probably dozens of people sitting at their desks inside the building, just cheering me on to keep the leaf and one day describe the awesomeness that broke up the monotony of their corporate America lives. This leaf would have to represent all that we wanted to be- free and floating carelessly, not frozen by overzealous air conditioning or fattened by our sedimentary lifestyles. And all of our freedom would have to come out of nowhere, just like the little leaf.