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…

Daring Greatly and Running with the Wolves

I have become the kind of person that reads multiple books at a time. There was a period in my life where I would have believed this to be unthinkable. How do you pick which one to read and when? How will you keep track of what you are doing? How will you ever finish anything if you are doing multiple things?

The first two questions sorted themselves out so easily I am almost embarrassed that they were even concerns. That last one? Now that one is valid. I do find myself leaving books unfinished. For instance, I started reading One Amazing Thing by Chitra Divakaruni over a year ago. It’s not a hard read, at 219 pages it isn’t long, and the story is pretty great. I just finished it last night. However, I have found that I don’t waste a lot of time on books that don’t interest me. In the days of “one book, then another” it was common for me to slog through a work I found less than interesting simply because I already felt pot committed. I felt compelled to close the loop before I moved on. Now, I just don’t pick it back up.

However, the danger of getting distracted is real. Daring Greatly by Brene Brown has easily been one of the most effective books I have ever picked up. I have gone back to this one again and again. I have yet to finish it. I am working on resolving that now.

My multiple reading habit is not what I sat down to tell you about. It just kinda happened that way. I sat down to tell you that I am reading Women who Run with the Wolves by Clarissa Pinkola Estes. I can’t say if it’s the work or the timing, but it has catapulted itself into the top 5 of books that have rocked me at my core. I was only on page eight when I encountered

Wild Woman is the health of all women. Without her, women’s psychology makes no sense…She is what she is and she is whole.

She canalizes through women. If they are suppressed, she struggles upward. If women are free, she is free. Fortunately, no matter how many times she is pushed down, she bounds up again. No matter how many times she is forbidden, quelled, cut back, diluted, tortured, touted as unsafe, dangerous, mad, and other derogations, she emanates upward in women, so that even the most quiet, even the most restrained woman has a secret life, with secret thoughts and secret feelings which are lush and wild, that is, natural. Even the most captured woman guards the place of the wildish self, for she knows intuitively that someday there will be a loophole, an aperture, a chance, and she will hightail it to escape.

And the whole damn thing just gets better and better.

One of the clearest insights for me, so far, pertains to creativity. I won’t be coy.

Writing lately has been rough. Because it has been hard and I have the ability to distract myself with so many other things, I haven’t done a lot of it. As that creativity gets squashed, it becomes harder to find my center. The weather doesn’t help. I have gotten lost.

You can call it writer’s block. I don’t. I believe in writer’s refusal and I have indulged in a good bit of that lately. I needed focus. I needed something small, manageable, measurable, interesting, productive. I needed a blog series. Wolves is the perfect book for that – later. It is too much right now. I am still curled up with it in my private brain. But the idea is still a good one. Daring Greatly could work.

I sat in the Thinking Chair and opened up my copy. Incidentally, it looks like it has been read a hundred times up to page 157 and exactly zero times anywhere after that. It’ll indeed work.

Again, I don’t know if it’s her work or my personal headspace, but the book feels different in my hands from all the other times before. Instead of starving for the words, looking for some sense of explanation for what goes on in my brain, there is encouragement, understanding, and comfort. There is a sense of not just seeing the map, but knowing you have already, to some degree, successfully traveled this way before.

I’m sitting down with Brene again. I am gonna share those Thinking Chair moments here. If you aren’t familiar with her, may I suggest you find 20 minutes and 13 seconds for this awesomeness.

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