Grown Ass Conversations

“I don’t want to talk about it. The whole thing feels stupid and ridiculous. That’s why I texted you. I wanted to tell you about it but I don’t want to talk about it.”

But I did want to talk about it. What I actually wanted was for him to simultaneously find a magical way to tell me I was right, I was wrong, I was super smart, I was super silly, and this was the miraculously simple way to fix the whole thing. That should be easy enough, right?

Instead he just loved me through it. And told he some soft truths about myself. Things I already knew. Things I was working on. Things he was proud of me for making progress in. The truths are actually pretty hard. They are things I hate to think about and just want to function in their dysfunction. But they don’t because they are, well, dysfunctional.

“Why do you feel ridiculous?”

“Because I am grown. Grown ass women aren’t supposed to get up in their feelings about this kind of thing.”

“It’s exactly because you are grown ass woman that you are capable of having the grown up conversations.”

“But what if I’m wrong?”

“Then that’s on you. I watch you do this thing pretty often where you feel a kind of way and should do something about it, but you go to your programming that says you are probably wrong and so you do nothing and nothing changes and you just take it. Now understand that I am not saying you are less than, I am saying that you are too hard on yourself.”

“I might do that a little.”

I might do that a lot.

I watch folks who are able to say anything. They are able to engage in confrontation in a way that makes my skin goose up. They are able to have the conversations – provoke them even – and keep moving forward. I am trying hard to be that person. To say the things I want to say fearlessly and openly. To be honest with people even it exposes a weakness or a wrong. To open loops that might close differently than I would like them to, or worse, not close themselves at all.

This season’s Big Brother is the Celebrity edition and it has been very interesting. I am watching these somewhat accomplished folks participate in varying degrees of empowerment. During many of the exchanges I find myself so frustrated that person A won’t just tell person B to go to hell, you are not the boss of me. They should say it. Person A deserves to say it and person B deserves to hear it, but they don’t. I would like to think I would. I probably wouldn’t.

But the real truth is that candidness is part of being a whole, real, honest, decent person. It isn’t fair to people I want relationship with to have to bear the judgement of my unspoken assumptions. It isn’t the way I would want to be treated. I would want them to have the courage to come to say what they needed to say. More than courage, I want to be seen as the kind of person with whom it is safe to have those kinds of conversations. I want to be a grown up and I want to be with grown up people. If I hope for that level of maturity from others, it is reasonable that I have to foster that type of maturity from myself.

It’s a funny little Catch 22 that I notice more in woman than I do in men. It’s the “if I have to ask for it, I don’t really want it” or its cousin, “if you loved me you would just know.” I don’t know where these tendencies come from, but I will be the first to admit that I have them. Further, they make sense to me in an inarticulable way. But it also makes sense that we should be able to ask for what we need, have adult conversations about wants and happys and hurts.

I’ve done much better the past year opening my mouth and exposing my inner thoughts. There’s something to be said for safety and confidence. There is also something to be said for the being able to see a real glimpse of unconditional love for oneself and others – not in the wild or in the pretend, but in your own life, involving your own heart. Like any other behavior, it is easier to understand and adopt once you see it modeled.

The neat thing is that motion creates momentum. The more I speak my thoughts, the more I think, the more I get comfortable with having all the thoughts, the more I feel okay to speak, the more connection I create, the more love I am able to give, the more love I am able to receive, the more positive my thoughts, the more I am able to converse, the more resilient I am when things are funky, the more whole I feel, the healthier I am, the more I speak my thoughts.

Take all the time you need to go through that spiderweb of interconnected healthy. Nothing happens in a vacuum. None of us are labels or defined by one singular thing. Sentient, dynamic, eclectic beings we are. That movement of all things in us and around us is a beautiful thing.

Brooks was Here

There are these really interesting things going on in my head right now. It looks a whole lot like freedom. Unfortunately, because I am currently unlearning and relearning that concept along with a host of other things about myself, what should be a somewhat easy and beautiful brain float has become super fucking overwhelming.

And what do I do when my brain becomes overwhelming? Well, when I am doing it right, I write. And this single act of nouns and verbs has become quite the interesting project in a way that it really never has before.

I have always put nouns and verbs on paper in a way that I hoped could be read by other people. I understand not everything has to be “in the world” to be valid. I also understand that some things should not be out in the world. But, by and large, the things that I put on paper have the expectation of being fit for public consumption.

But words stay the same over the course of time and change. People do not.

Being overwhelmed creates lack of structure in the thoughts. There are so many ideas trying to push their way to the front in an attempt to be sorted and accounted for. It makes the coherent assembly of nouns and verbs a struggle.

In all honesty, it isn’t just being overwhelmed. It’s the freedom to do it the way I want. I have been writing since I was 10 years old. I have the general gist of the activity down. But there have always been rules set down by someone else. Boxes I knew I had to fit into, boundaries I knew I couldn’t cross.

There is a comfort in the box. Sure, it sucks because you are forced into being someone you aren’t. But, there is order, understanding, and a general “way we do things around here” that, while stifling and damaging, is comfortable when it becomes what you know. When your confidence to trust in your own judgement is reduced to ruble, you second guess everything. When your desire to create something outside yourself is judged and mocked, you harshly judge your own motives. When your ability is marginalized, you start believing you are no good.

When your efforts are labeled too much, too loud, too open, too indulgent, you start to believe those things and you forget that you are a smart, capable, caring, basically decent person. You don’t need the box, you never did. But you functioned inside of it for so long that it is comfortable and you’re not really sure if you know how to do it without it. You worked really hard to rid yourself of the box, to have the courage to break free of it. You know the work that took. But, here you are anyway, trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again

Trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again.

Trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again.

Trying like hell to recreate the box so you can feel comfortable once again.

How fucking stupid is that?

Probably pretty damn. But you know what else, it is also completely normal. We fight to hold on to comfort, even when that comfort is toxic. Even when the alternative is healthy. Even when the healthy is more comfortable once you get the feel of it. Being coerced into the box didn’t happen overnight. It took skillful manipulation and time to put you there. It takes time to work all those things back out. It takes honesty in taking responsibility for the parts of it you are responsible for. It takes confidence to refuse ownership for the parts you aren’t. It takes trust in those who love you that they will still love you through the change, through the growth, through the fuck ups, through the wins. It takes faith in your own inner, real, raw, regular goodness.

Even as I go back through that last thought, I understand that it takes more than faith. It takes more than trust. Those things, when broken down into their honest forms, are easy. All that can happen in your brain, in the quiet privacy of solitude without interference from anyone else. What it really requires is testing, trying out, tasting – “an untested virtue isn’t a virtue” kind of workout.

That’s the part that is scary. That’s the part that will put you back in the box. The box sucks too but there is some comfort in dancing with the devil you already know versus the demon you haven’t vetted yet.

But Brooks was comfortable in jail, institutionalized for the box. They made him leave. He wanted to go back. He couldn’t.

I wake up scared. Sometimes it takes me a while to remember where I am. Maybe I should get me a gun and rob the Foodway so they’d send me home. I could shoot the manager while I was at it, sort of like a bonus. I guess I’m too old for that sort of nonsense any more. I don’t like it here. I’m tired of being afraid all the time. I’ve decided not to stay. I doubt they’ll kick up any fuss. Not for an old crook like me. ~ Brooks Hatlen, The Shawshank Redemption

He called prison home. Freedom made him afraid all the time. He hung himself, decided death was better than figuring out how to be his own person. Still scared I may be, but a Brooks I am not.

Appropriate and Acceptable

Can I be real a second?
For just a millisecond?
Let down my guard and tell the people how I feel a second?
Now I’m the model of a modern major general
The venerated Virginian veteran whose men are all
Lining up, to put me up on a pedestal
Writin’ letters to relatives
Embellishin’ my elegance and eloquence
But the elephant is in the room
The truth is in ya face when ya hear the British cannons go…
~ A very frustrated George Washington as written by Lin-Manuel Miranda

I’m not even going to discuss Hamilton right now. It is pure genius and folks will either listen or they won’t, hear it or they won’t, get it or they won’t. I don’t really have that in me right this second.

I don’t really have a whole lot of anything in me right this second and it’s getting a bit tiresome.

Let me be real a second. I get encouraged to write on a regular basis by folks who genuinely enjoy what I have to say. There’s like six of y’all and I can’t tell you how much I appreciate that. And if it were only you half dozen or so for the rest of my life, I would like to think I would keep pushing publish. I would like to think I would still fancy myself a writer.

I don’t feel like a writer much of the time and I am pretty sure that’s because I approach this whole thing all wrong. I have this idea about what it is supposed to look like. I am supposed to have a guided topic. This blog space is supposed to be more cohesive. I am supposed to have a plan. I am supposed to, supposed to, supposed to.

And it I haven’t checked all the “supposed to” blocks, well, then…

And I am definitely not supposed to get onto this super public space and just let my guard down. It is indulgent and basic to be in a public setting – even if it’s just the six of us – and have the audacity to believe that these nouns and verbs, my nouns and verbs, are any more legitimate or time worthy than anyone else’s. That’s next level arrogance and who am I really to think that I have the right?

So, I go back to being small. I try to do the things on my list, the things that make me feel real, but in an “appropriate” way. Seriously, even as I am typing that I don’t even know what the hell that means. You are talking to a person that has a hard time cleaning the house if the radio isn’t super loud, who has a hard time psyching herself up for a run if she can’t go fast(ish) for a billion miles, who is 41 years old and is fixing to get married in a white dress to the hottest man she has ever met with a wedding suitable for a 25 year old blusher. My life isn’t small. I don’t live there. It isn’t who I am. It isn’t who my family is. We have a reoccurring joke about our individual and collective extraness. But I am a person who is still ridiculously and frustratingly aware of what other people think.

Yeah, don’t say it. I already know. You aren’t supposed to care about what other people think – especially those who, in the big picture, have opinions that don’t matter. I get it. I also know that chocolate pudding and whipped cream for lunch isn’t a healthy option, but you can bet your ass I get down with that too.

It has just struck me as funny that I have been in this situation bunches before. You probably have too. It isn’t a writer issue, it’s a whatever part of you is important issue.

The mommy cartel is a fierce one. Do you work, stay home, vaccinate, homeschool, engage in sports, pay for piano, buy the dance costume, travel with the team, fix organic snacks, limit screen time, post pictures on social media, co-sleep, spank, entertain Santa Claus, buy Lucky Charms, volunteer as room mom, schedule playdates, breastfeed, understand the progressive parenting strategies, helicopter, tiger, free range, hide in the bathroom with a great bottle of Malbec…. are you an appropriate, acceptable mom?

Life partner? Do you have date night, authentic conversations about your feelings, too much sex, no sex, joint facebooks, separate friends, independent bank accounts, a five year plan, the same last name, never go to bed angry, the same waistline when you met, regular phone calls with their families, close the door to the bathroom, sexy texts, copious amounts of quality time, detailed coparenting strategies, lady in the street, freak in the bed, dinner on the table, 50/50 household responsibilities, gender roles, traditional home, hide in the bathroom with a great bottle of Malbec…. are you an appropriate, acceptable life partner?

Professional? Do you have the right credentials, love your job, tolerate your coworkers, participate in office fun, voice your opinion in meetings, reinvent yourself to fit the culture, considered assertive, aggressive, overly ambitions, qualified, on your way up, watching the clock, moving into a new field, living your passion, selling out to the grind, hiding out in the bathroom with a great bottle of Malbec… are you an appropriate, acceptable professional?

If you couldn’t tell, all this “appropriate” and “acceptable” juggling always leads me to hiding in a bathroom with a great bottle of Malbec. People aren’t supposed to live that way.

I am not supposed to live that way.

So here is the habit I am going to attempt to put into practice – just writing the shit and letting the letters fall where they may. Maybe that appeals to my six folks, maybe it gains more, maybe I end up pushing publish for no one other than myself. Whatever the outcome is, I have at least identified the elephant in my bathroom. And look – now there is more room for you to share that bottle of wine…

2018 – Honesty

Every year (or nearly every year), I write a little something that speaks to the intention for the up coming year. It typically centers around one word couched in a cute, anecdotal story, tied all up at the end with a cute little “go get ’em” bow.

I have been trying to write the 2018 piece for over three weeks now.

I looked through old writings, new blogs, unfinished journals. I thought about revisions and memes and philosophical literary quotes. I contemplated all the strong woman, be positive, get motivated, you are amazing sources I knew.

I still had nothing.

So I did the only thing I knew to do; I just dropped it. This wasn’t the year for that. 2016 and 2017 had been overwhelmed with so muchness, maybe it was just time for a breather year. So I shelved it with promises of schedule keeping (which I have never done), gentler self talk (also not a strong suit), and greater honesty. Little did I realize the one thing I thought I had on lock would be the very thing that got me.

If you asked me if I was an overall honest person, I would immediately say yes because I am. I am not a thief or a liar. I am not a rule breaker, generally speaking, although I really like to play one on TV.

However, if you asked me if I was an always honest person, I would say no because, well, I’m honest. I would go so far as to say there are times when honesty is not the appropriate course of action. I would go further and say that I wouldn’t even want people to be honest with me all the time. And I think that’s mostly true.

This topic has my brain going in a hundred different directions. I am going to back up just a second and try again.

I shelved the idea and counted that an okay thing to do because 2018 was the year of schedules, gentle self talk, and honesty. As life is ought to do, it decided to test my gangster right off the bat.

I have been known to say often that I am a jealous woman. It is typically tagged with something to the effect of, “and I don’t even feel bad about that” or “that’s just the way I am.” I have even gone so far as to justify holding on to the trait explaining that I have very good balance on my jealous nature because I realize that it is often irrational and, as long as I have that level of self awareness, it’s okay.

I have come to the very uncomfortable conclusion that it is not okay. All of that up there is inherently dishonest. In a cute twist of irony, I came to that realization while utilizing that acute self awareness to enforce some balance.

Let me be clear that this is not a moral edict on jealousy. Jealousy just happened to be the fear based emotion that spotlighted my particular moment of intellectual dishonesty. And make no mistake, jealousy is a fear based emotion.

I was ate up with jealousy yesterday. The funniest part is that it was all of my own doing. All by my little self, I worked my brain up into such a tizzy that the distraction was consuming. It was all completely fabricated in my head, so I set about doing the self aware work to talk myself down.

Me ~ Oh my effing shit I think I am about to give myself a panic attack.

Other Me ~ Honestly, April, you are being a tad ridiculous.

Me ~ I am aware. This is all very silly and I am working on sorting through the asinine.

Other Me ~ Great. Let’s start with things you know to be true. [Super private stuff that I am not sharing here. #sorrynotsorry]

Me ~ Yes, all of that is true.

Other Me ~ So now we can safely say that all these things [more super private stuff] are not true.

Me ~ Yes we can say that. I feel much better. Thank you Other Me.

Other Me ~ You are very welcome. Now, how do we keep this from happening again?

That bitch. I really hate it when she does that. Especially when I am not ready. I wasn’t ready. Other Me did not care.

Side note – if you think I have complete control over The Many, you are wrong. While I have leashes for all and muzzles for some, complete control is not a tool I possess.

Me ~ That’s super sweet of you, Other Me. I’m good for right now. Just a little bout of jealousy and we all know I am just a jealous womaHHHHHH. SHIT!! What is that????

Other Me ~ The onset of another panic attack. A really good one too. I made it for just an occasion as this. You like?

Me ~ No. No I do not like. I do not like at all. I already did the work, sorted my brain, talked myself down. We are done here.

Other Me ~ Nope. You did the easy work. April 2016 work. It’s time for the advanced level 2018 work. The real, get your shit together work.

Me ~ Fuck you. I’m taking a nap.

And that’s just what I did.

While that course of action worked for the duration of my nap, the seeds planted still sprouted and this “what do we do with it now” idea hung around demanding that I address it.

“I am a jealous woman” is a dishonest statement. I can make it true if I used the fiercely protective or vigilant of one’s rights or possessions definition. I will defend me and mine with my life. But I don’t mean it like that and I know that I don’t. When I say it, I mean feeling or showing envy of someone or their achievements and advantages and feeling or showing suspicion of someone’s unfaithfulness in a relationship. That, my friends, is fear not love. And I have committed to living a life of love and not fear.

So the truth is I now have to replace the word “jealous” with fear and figure out the root. I have to. Anytime I find that the talk down answer becomes, “because I am afraid” I have vowed to go deeper and work that out.

What fear causes jealousy? The fear of being unworthy of the thing that creates envy or suspicion. Being unworthy. In case you are curious, that flies directly in the face of my other promise of “more gentle self talk.”

The honest truth is I am not unworthy even while I feel unworthy. That’s honest. That’s how I am committed to 2018.

Happy Thanksgiving

I have messed around for about an hour an a half trying to decide if I was ever going to touch these keys this morning. There is too much personal emotion to even think about my book. It is Thanksgiving, so while personal emotion is appropriate, I don’t feel like getting too heavy is appropriate. That same Thanksgiving gratitude is bringing me back to matters of the heart. I start to wonder at what point do I really need to write about something else.

I guess the answer to that question is simply when I don’t feel like writing about it anymore. In truth, that is one of the beautiful things about writing for yourself. You can really write about whatever it is you want. The downside of being overly concerned about what people think is that, in order to write about whatever you want, you have to spend two paragraphs explaining yourself before you just say…

Can I tell you how Thankful I am right now? My eyes popped open like a kid on Christmas morning. This IS my Christmas morning. It is Thanksgiving Day. It is my favorite holiday of the year.

The smell in the condo is perfect. Proof that the turkey is in the oven makes it all the way back to our room. It’s early, but there is no way I am getting back to sleep; not this morning.

But I do lay there for a minute. There is no reason to rush. He is so warm when he sleeps, the closeness is comforting. The ease in his breathing, the safety his form provides, the reach for me even when he is dreaming; there is no desire to move from this place quite yet.

The stark contrast to the Thanksgiving morning  a year ago is not lost on me. The thought feels a bit disloyal. That’s strange, I know. That is one of those feelings that I always get, right or not, when a condition of this life overcomes a condition of my life from ago. Like it is unfair to ask this life to make up for the other. But it happens and there’s no stopping it. I have come to the conclusion that the attempt would actually be worse. While it is true that it is not the responsibility of the others in the present to repair the others of the past, it is their gift.

Gift is so much different than responsibility. I have no expectation or right to a gift. The gift giver has no requirement or obligation to tender it. But, because love does what it does, it is there. Just what I needed, just for me, just because. And I have always thought it bad form to refuse a gift.

It is with this perspective that I choose to frame this morning’s recollection in tandem with the comfort of my present. The recollection is painful. It was the only point in the whole of the scorched earth that I cried.

I awoke Thanksgiving morning last year with a lot to be thankful for. There was a freedom I had never experienced before. The burdens that I had carried for so long, the eggshells I navigated were gone. My life was mine again, even if I wasn’t yet quite sure how to live it – it belonged to me. I had found what I hoped was going to prove to be unconditional forever love in the most unlikely and unexpected place. I had gratitude, I had love, I had hope.

I awoke Thanksgiving morning last year to an empty, quiet, smelless house without any prospect to the contrary. Preparation had not been needed. Cooking was not my responsibility. There were no children eagerly awaiting their next helpful task. No timers, no oven schedules, no setting up, no thawing out. Just me, in a house. I sat in my thinking chair and sobbed.

As the tears came to an end and I began to sort through the hurt, there was still gratitude. I was grateful that I still had the ability to be soft (I had begun to wonder). I was grateful for the prospects I did have. Although it was not the Thanksgiving I had come accustomed to (three days of cooking, mimosas, full house), there was a beautiful day planned with family, a road trip, a reunion, and the promise of connection. There was a lot to be Thankful for. Even though the heartbreak over what was no more was real, the gift of what I had and what was to come was worth it.

This Thanksgiving season, we have been on holiday since Friday. The children have had a excellent time taking in all the uncrowded, off season wonders to be had in Gulf Shores. They have been a delight and are delighted in. There are always smells and sounds and preparation.

This Thanksgiving morning I awoke to a full, anticipated, aromatic condo with all the promise that those things suggest on this, my favorite holiday. In truth, this is still a bit different from the Thanksgivings I have carved for myself in the life from ago. And, in the spirit of being completely open and transparent, there is a part of me that mourns just a bit for the rhythm that is familiar.

I have no guilt in that feeling. There is an understanding I have that I am not sure I am skilled enough to convey here. There are pieces of happy that I created in the life from ago. They were the things I clung to waiting for the rest to sort itself. I am appreciative of the work I was able to do there, the memories I was able to make. To miss those things that, not unlike a child’s security blanket, gave me comfort and normalcy, does not seem unreasonable to me. Missing the baby does not require the missing of the bathwater. That’s nearly terrible but I am at a loss to explain it any better. At this moment, I don’t feel compelled to.

This Thanksgiving morning I have prepped and planned. My heart is full. My children are asleep. My thoughts are sorted. On this, my favorite holiday of the year, I wish you and yours all the happiness in the world. I am going to go back and enjoy a few more snuggles from my happiness and steal a second Thanksgiving awakening with smells and anticipation. May your turkey be perfect, your mimosas mixed right, the pies free of calories. From our family to yours.

Clarity Overwhelming

In the past 72 hours I have touched, in some way, shape, or form, 224 Constant Contact Emails you probably know better as “Turn Around Tuesday.” This was necessary as I only had some of the TATs in my blog database. When I stop using Constant Contact (which will be very soon), I will lose the ones I don’t have elsewhere. Unfortunately for me, I had no idea which ones those were. Ergo, I had to open each one and crosscheck it with my database.

At the onset, I knew it was a big, time consuming task. That’s a lot of opening and crosschecking. What I had not anticipated (maybe I should have) and was not prepared for (not sure that would have even been a possibility) was the overwhelming emotional toll the whole project took.

I started Turn Around Tuesday in April 2007. My life, myself as a person, has changed so much in the last 18 months; the last ten years was a lot to digest in three days. There was so much there, even just skimming the pieces to figure out what I had and what I didn’t. Friends who are no longer with me, thoughts that needed revisiting, ideas that have changed, my ex-husband, former professions, forgotten dreams, misplaced pieces of me.

About halfway through I considered maybe I had taken too much on. But, at halfway through, I could see the end in sight and I just kept pushing on. Actually, at that point, I was so emotionally overwhelmed I couldn’t imagine what other productive thing I could do instead. The systematic open, verify, process, repeat was the only real thing I was capable of at that point. I couldn’t even begin to think about what I was going to do with all that when I finished.

Then this morning, as I was down to the last 6, I opened a TAT from August 2011. In some weird, wonderful, beautiful way, it gelled all my fragmented pieces from the last 72 hours.

Everything was kind of right there. A lost friend, funky juxtaposition of thought, desire to accept self, shit I wish I would have paid better attention to for my own well being but wouldn’t until years later, and permission from my 34 year old self to just be okay with all that.

TATs are almost always written real time, meaning, the TAT you get is often very reflective of some process in my current life. When the last piece was processed, I went looking for a reference for what was moving around in August 2011. Say what you want about Facebook, it has been instrumental in reminding me of where I am going and where I have been when my brain doesn’t quite cooperate. Sure enough, I found this blog post that I had written the day before.

Again, there it was. The seeds of me. The beginnings of a real woman trying to find her way out of some crazy ass confinement she had put herself in. The acknowledgement that there was more, even if I couldn’t come right out and say it. The need to be open and honest even while I wasn’t in the position to be.

There is also the reminder that so much time is lost and wasted due to fear. I was afraid a good bit of the time. I still have a healthy dose of residual scaredy cat lurking around. But it is just a little feline now – not the starving tiger it once was.

Ok, so that last sentence right there isn’t entirely true. I want it to be, but I have found that most often when I end a sentence like that and then have no idea what to follow it up with, I have hit on a bit of falseness. Fear for me now is an extreme shape shifter. It is always there and is either a big fucking tiger or a sweet little kitten. While I control it better now, the the last three days have found the bounce back and forth to be the main source of the overwhelming nature of it all.

Going back through random snapshots of the last 10 years of ones life is staggering. At least it was for me. The compounding fact was the self insistence that all these snippets were going to, at some point in the future, need to be processed with full acknowledgement of all the untold backstories and my new perspective while resisting the urge to kick myself in the ass over and over again.

There is a tiger fear that moving through this process – a process that I have already decided will be transparent here – will open me up to a vulnerability I am not comfortable with. It will be proof positive that I am not perfect and there are a ton of reasons for you to distrust and not like me. I want to delete that sentence so bad, I can’t even begin to tell you. But there it is. And I leave it there to remind both of us that the fear is an irrational one. I am who I am and you are who you are. We are either tribe or we are not. There is no judgement there, no right or wrong, it just is and that is okay. At the end of the day, it is honest, and whatever results that produces, I am comfortable in the fact that the realness is worth it.

There is also the simple fact that my perspective, recollections, assumptions, conclusions are different than those held by others. That is a big challenge for me. I have spent an unhealthy amount of time focusing on the “what ifs” of those occurrences. I detest being unfair. I have conceded ideas more often than I ought in an effort to reconcile. I will question my position more harshly than I expect others to question theirs. I defer to the intelligence of others because I lack confidence in my own. That practice has stunted more personal growth and happiness than any other one thing I can think of in my life. To that end, I have concluded that functioning that way is unacceptable. Instead, I will, as always, remain open to the ideas of others, discussion, connection. I will continue to encourage others to find their truth and tell their stories. And, I will unapologetically share mine.

Photo credits to Wild Woman Sisterhood and JM Storm

I am not Defined by Lost Stuffing

Success means doing the best we can with what we have.
Success is the doing, not the getting; in the trying, not the triumph. Success is a personal standard, reaching for the highest that is in us, becoming all that we can be.


The real test in golf and in life is not in keeping out of the rough,
but in getting out after you are in.

– Zig Ziglar

A few days ago, I found a very sad three year old at my knee. “Momma, my bear has a boo boo.” Indeed, the beloved bear had a small rip in the seam of her leg and the stuffing was ever so slightly poking out. I am not surprised. This bear, loved daily, has seen her fair share of tea parties, swing sets, rescues and other amazing adventures. The fact that this small tear was all she had to show for it was, in itself, impressive.

After I assured her the bear would be fine after a little “surgery” that I promised would not hurt, she placed the bear in my care and went back to her play happy enough. Looking at this bear, I can’t help but be encouraged.

This little bear is not perfect. It can’t be. There is room for improvement in the design, material and manufacturing. Then, even if all those improvements were made, all we would have is a bear few could afford, few would enjoy playing with and minute details would still just miss perfection.

Because it is not perfect, the discussion must be when it fails, when it breaks, when it lets down – not if. That is, if the discussion really has to be had at all. The truth is, the bear is quite capable of fulfilling her role as my daughter’s playmate without considering the “what if” of either of their short comings. My daughter my be careless or overly aggressive. The bear may be poorly designed or equipped for the task.

However, this never prevents either of them from enjoying the relationship or their roles in it. In fact, there is no focus at all on the brokenness until the brokenness effects the situation. Even then, there is no judgement in the deficiency of the bear, no statement of character made about the child. There is concern for the injury and graciousness in the attention to the need. The shortcoming is brought to the one who can fix it and the issue becomes solution based and challenges are overcome. The lost stuffing defines neither the bear nor the child.

Today I just encourage you. In a climate of perceived or actual scarcity, unknown and fearful, accurate or sensationalized, be encouraged. We are all broken people that sometimes find ourselves in broken situations. This does not make us less than or speak to a hard wired character flaw. It makes us humans interacting with other humans in a meaningful way. It makes us a community. It makes us great because these interactions create the humanity that brings about all good things. I, you, are not defined by lost stuffing.

And as always, thanks for joining me for that cup of coffee…

*Originally published as a Turn Around Tuesday, November 2, 2010

440 Days Later

August 15, 2016

When I first got out of the Navy and into real estate, I was operating on little start up money for advertising. But I wanted to make a go of it in a big way. While my funds were limited, I did have one big advantage – I was tech savvy.

In 2006, this was a huge deal. Websites, search engines, social media – this stuff was just gaining steam. I was easily adapted to this new changes and embraced them early on.

That and I really like the attention…and some part of me believes that putting all these words out into the universe will make me an accomplished writer some day.

(Look at me attempting to write more honestly without the fear of other judgement and side eye)

Therefore I have been on Facebook and Twitter since almost the beginning. As of this writing, I have well over 2000 pictures attached to my Facebook account. I’ve been adding pictures for a long time.

I met my ex-husband in 1998. We married in 1999. For those who don’t know, this was back when you had to take film in to get developed before you could see them.

Every single picture taken since the inception of Facebook has been taken while I was married.

I had not considered this until a conversation with a friend during my divorce included a general remark about processing, separating, and moving on after a divorce. The remark included the pruning of Facebook photos.

My first reaction was, “I’m not going to do that.”

I still feel that way.

First of all, what a monumental pain in the ass that has to be. To go through all those photos…the time, the emotional energy…yeah, fuck that.

Second, many of those pictures have our children in them. So there’s that.

But most importantly I just don’t feel it.

He was my husband for 17 years. While being married was something we could no longer do, we are still parents. I hope we can even be friends. Erasing pictures just seems dishonest somehow.

I had all the different thoughts go through my head…when I start dating, when he starts dating, when the last glass of wine makes my heart hurt, when the temptation to wallow gets too strong…what then?

Then I deal. Do you for two seconds think that taking down pictures changes any of those things? That somehow new people we meet won’t know we spent the better part of our adulthood married to each other? That it changes one single thing about what’s going on and how that fits in the story of my life? I don’t.

Honestly, I’m way more concerned about the “On This Day” feature…but I’ll think about that later…

So the pictures stay. Maybe I’ll think differently about it tomorrow. Maybe he’ll ask me to different one day and I’ll think about it again. But today, this is what it is.

October 29, 2017 (440 days later)

I did think differently about it tomorrow. I think about a lot of things differently. A lot of different things have happened.

As you can tell, I never did publish that little bit from up there. I didn’t have it in me yet and it just sat, along with quite a few other things in the draft file of uncomfortable things I have written and haven’t quite decided what to do with.

But it is time for me to discuss what is going on with some of this “push publish” business and address some of the really old stuff that is being republished.

My subscribers are going to get quite a few emails. I looked for a way to turn that off. I can’t find it. So you’ll just have to forgive me, maybe enjoy some old stuff or just hit delete. But I needed a new space. And I needed to, for the first time, wrangle all the pieces of me and my words in one place.

That’s not the easiest thing I have ever done.

  • Some of it is irrelevant. I’ll just retire it.
  • Some of it is really bad. I will either retire or rewrite it.
  • Some of it is untrue, no longer true, or whitewashed to suit the situation of the time. I will either retire, rewrite, or amend it.
  • Some of it blessfully, is fine the way it is and I’ll just republish it.

But there is a lot of it and I am trying to both create new content, complete projects for clients, and give the old stuff careful and due consideration. Oh, and I have committed to NaNoWriMo starting Wednesday. It’s a lot. I am hoping most of the reconstruction is mostly unnoticeable. But if you see it, your patience (and maybe a bit of encouragement) is appreciated.

Take that unpublished post from 440 days ago. I considered it. It was how I wanted to feel when I sat down and tried to figure out how I feel. But if you ask anyone who knows me even in the most cursory way, I am not the same version of myself I was 440 days ago. It is not the way I feel today.

Therefore, this post fell into the “untrue, no longer true, or whitewashed” category.

I considered what to do about it. I have decided that just because it wasn’t a completely accurate representation of how I felt then, isn’t at all the way I feel right now, it is a completely appropriate way to feel. Figuring out what to do to with the mountain of “stuff” left over after the dissolution of a marriage is overwhelming. Deciding what works best is such a nuanced and individual decision, I can’t imagine the gall it would take for one to declare the “wrong” or “rightness” of process. Whatever that amount is, I don’t have it. So I left it as a testament to the truth that people to the best they can with what they know. I know something different today than I knew 440 days ago.

But I obviously could’t just post it as it was. So here is the amendment. Where I am now. Why there is all this dust around the construction of my new space.

I am excited about the new turn the adventure has taken. I am looking forward to having the space and freedom to work out all the neat things that go on this beautiful world around me. I adore the sense of community it is already creating among folks who read something in the words, feel something in the spaces, and say, “Yes!” The biggest gift has been the freedom to just be April. To be able to sit down at this keyboard, do what it is I do, and know that my world is secure.

It took a little demolition to get here. The construction process is ongoing. You’re welcome to peek behind the curtain.

Rocky, Smoltzie, the Universe – Oh My!

Because I haven’t thought this through all the way and I am currently operating on “holy shit, that’s kinda cool” right this second, I am just going start with a timeline of my morning and see where it goes.

0245 – My eyes popped open and I realize I am about three fucked up thoughts away from a full blown panic attack. I have done really well over the years managing them so I am pretty sure getting out of bed and starting my day is the best way to go. It’s early, but not so early.

0300 – Coffee is done and I start with some busy work to kinda feel myself out. If you have ever experienced some reluctant muscles, joints, or ligaments first thing in the morning, this is the mental version of those few stretches and steps when you get out of bed. Give the brain easy, but meaningful, tasks so that the more complicated thoughts, if there are any, can kind of flush themselves out.

0400 – I am two loads of laundry, a handful of emails, one sleepy child and one sleepy man put back to bed, dog poop cleaned up, and an organized computer desktop in. I know what’s bothering me and it is still nothing I want to address. It’s time to write and I know that will help. But I really don’t want to. I just can’t get there yet. So, more busy work.

0445 – I have organized four ongoing writing projects and I am feeling pretty good about getting to my own shit. I pull out my calendar and realize I have not looked at October birthdays at all. What a great procrastination task (judge, I don’t care. There’s some real transparency right there. I coulda lied). I log into Facebook and get immediately distracted by the “On this Day” link (it really is my favorite Facebook feature).

There are the normal whatevers. There also happens to be this quote by John Smoltz that I shared in 2013

In truth, my answer to all these questions is the same, and it’s far simpler than many believe: Why Not?

Why not do what you love for as long as you are physically able? Why not take risks, as long as they are calculated? Why not chase what some see as impossible? Why not believe in yourself? Why not dare to be great…even if it means being different?

Why not?

Then there was a link to this TAT I wrote in 2010 which started with a great truism by Rocky (there are many) and concluded with me saying

Today I encourage you to consider something you already know. Know what you are worth. Move forward and get what you are worth. If it were easy, everybody would do it. It’s not, but it is worth it, and moreover, it is possible. Life is. Challenges are. Struggles are. It cannot be overstated that it is what we do after that matters. There aren’t enough fingers to point, blame to place, or pity parties to have that will change the effectiveness of good, old fashioned, sleeve rolling. We can do this. I can do this. And oh the stories we will tell…

And then I had the “holy shit, isn’t that kinda cool” moment. Isn’t it kinda cool that on a morning when I am feeling a little scared because I am still not quite confident in, well, every-fucking-thing, that I shared a quote that has one of the best questions of all time, “why not?”

And when my brain answers the question with bullshit like

  • because I’m scared
  • I’m not good enough
  • I’ll be a disappointment
  • oh the judgement
  • when I fail
  • I lose the love of people around me

I am quickly reprimanded by my 34 year old self. Yes, I did have a brief moment of “what the hell does a 34 year old know” but that was just deflection. I know some pretty smart 30ish folks. And, if I do say so myself, I was pretty smart then too.

0526 – I am a pot of coffee down. I am still scared. I am still worried. I am still feeling less than confident about, well, still every-fucking-thing. But I am no longer knocking on the door of a panic attack. I know the people that love me. I am working on knowing my worth. I am encouraged again that writing is so good for the soul both in the now and in the future. I am reminded of the value of words, vulnerability, and their relation to each other. I am thankful for the loves in my life and have already made time for the nap I will need later.

0552 – I have proofread and double checked. I have found the TAT that later came out of the John Smoltz quote. I am about to hit publish. I realize I still have to process the thing that woke me up in the first place. I realize that’s vague, but whatever. I have realized that folks will criticize for being too open, folks will criticize for being too guarded, that those folks are often the same damn people. I also realize that I am getting off topic because I am looking for a bow. A bow, that we have already determined, I don’t always need.


Disappointed Planner Dude

I have one of the neatest planners on the planet. Seriously, I really love the idea of it. When I bought it late last year, it was one of the things I was most excited about bringing into 2017. My bestie was getting one too. Could that be any more of a sign?

The planner has all of the cool things. And I don’t mean generally cool. I mean I specifically think they are cool and the ideas resonate with me. First, it is called “The Passion Planner.” Sexy, I know. It is designed around encouraging the user to define their passion and creating a life plan that fits. There is a focus on priority, reflections, and intention. There is even a blank space for every week called the “Space of Infinite Possibility.” Seriously. Cool right?

As we reach the end of September, I am going to go ahead and call it. I did not live up to this planner’s expectations. I am certain it feels neglected and wasted. This poor planner was probably hanging out with all of his planner buddy friends back on the assembly line totally stoked about the neat 2017 he was going to have partnering with an enlightened and driven individual facilitating passionate stuff. Instead, he got me. Bummer little planner dude and I am sorry.

But, I am determined to not make this poor little planners dreams suffer on the alter of despair without attempting to salvage his dignity. See, as cliche as it might sound, it really isn’t him – it’s me. This great little planner has fallen victim to what so many other qualified ideas have succumbed to in my brain…overwhelming oughts.

I am completely fucking overwhelmed with “oughts.” I am not even going to waste the word space to explain that. I ought to, but I am thinking you get the concept. This planner has been neglected enough and I am really going to attempt to keep the focus there.

This planner really never stood a chance. I expected it to be all the things I needed a planner to be for me all by its little self. My expectations were set so high and unrealistically that there was no possibility of success. But I ought to have been able to make it work. I ought to have been able to use it as prescribed. I mean, so much thought and effort went into its design, I ought to be able to passionately utilize this planner.

But I didn’t. I felt overwhelmed by the expectation of it all. The commitment to analyzing all of my perceived failures, my shortcomings, my not quiet good enoughs. The interesting things is however, that this cute little planner asks for none of those things. What I ought to do is ease the fuck up a little bit.

What I also ought to do is work within my truth. And the truth is I can do one thing right this minute. And, in the next minute, another thing, another thing the next. And that is. All. I. Can. Do. And…that is everything.

And the thing that I do in this second is my thing. I get it – this awesome little planner dude was created by some really great people with a really great idea. And, it is a really great idea for me. But simply because I need more, doesn’t make me less. I am not capable of functioning inside this beautifully mapped out system. That does not make me anything other than me. This fucking planner did not show up on my doorstep attempting to make me feel less than, incapable, too much, extra, petty, indulgent, under performing, lazy, overly ambitions, or like a fucking serial killer. It. Is. Just. A. Planner. A planner with higher aspirations, no doubt, but still just a planner. All of that nonsense that I felt – I did that. And it feels a little ridiculous if I am being honest.

Here’s the truth about planning and scheduling and general life for me. I am easily overwhelmed. For a long time I thought that was a weakness on my part. An inability to handle all the big things of life. Proof that I would never really amount to a whole lot of anything. So why plan? There’s all these things I fill my day with that I really don’t like and there’s not a whole lot in there that I do, so why plan? Because I can’t stay focused, get sidetracked by anxiety, distracted by feel good time wasters, because I can’t responsibly put those kinds of things into my day, why attempt to schedule a day at all? If I am just going to fail to plan or fail to execute the plan, why write it down as a glaring reminder in black and white about my abject failure as a person?

Being easily overwhelmed is not a weakness. It is an indicator. (Side note | That is something I have been saying to myself concerning a multitude of things for quite a while. I need to address it more fully at a later time.) Being overwhelmed is an indicator, at least right this second, of asinine expectations. I expect myself to perform a certain way. While there is nothing wrong with having expectations of ones performance, inflicting unrealistic or unfulfilling expectations on oneself created from bullshit oughts is self abuse. I am not overwhelmed. I am put upon and disgusted. What’s worse, I’ve done it to myself.

So many apologies Disappointed Planner Dude. It took me a hella long time to figure out it was not you and it was not me – it was those fucking oughts, again. One day I am going to get smart enough to start looking at those first instead of taking the long way around to the same damn obvious answer. But today, I am going to start redeeming you and me. I am getting you a little bit of help. I am cutting me a little bit of slack. And I am making a plan 🙂