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It’s Okay To Be Annoyed (Or Angry Or Sad Or Hurt Or….)

The other day I asked a question on Facebook that basically started with, “Does it bother you when…” (The topic is not relevant to this post, and probably deserves its own conversation.) I asked mainly because I was curious, and sometimes I like to be curious out loud.  People’s answers ran the full gamut from, “No, not at all,” to “Sometimes”, to “I absolutely hate it!”  The one comment that is standing out to me though is this one:

I try not to be bothered by things like that. Life is too precious to worry about the little things.

Is it true?  I mean, sure.  Of course.  It’s important to try not to sweat the small stuff.  (And indeed, most of what we tend to stress out about is small stuff.)  I’ve written entire blog posts about it, including one about my then 3 year old throwing her brother’s shoes into a lake, and why I was able to laugh about it.  That was the post that initially led a lot of you to my blog, so I kind of have a soft spot for it.

But … I would write it differently were I to write it today.

The above comment, even in its truth, bothered me.  Largely because it sounds so patronizing, but also because – just like the blog post I wrote all those years ago – it glossed over the fact that we are given a full range of human emotions, and that THEY’RE OKAY.  It’s okay to get annoyed sometimes.  It’s okay to get sad and mad and frustrated and scared.  Because real life?  Real life isn’t always sunshine and rainbows.  It’s just not. In real life, sometimes we do get upset over little things (and big things, and everything in between).  Sometimes we’re cranky and irritable and don’t even know why.  We’re human.  We’re gonna feel stuff, and it’s not always going to be pretty.  And we can have those feelings, and recognize them, and accept them, and allow them to come and go with curiosity and without judgement.  There’s no prize for being perpetually happy.

I’ve been in therapy for the past twenty months  – I totally just counted on my fingers for that number – and not once in those twenty months did he ever tell me, “Don’t feel that.  Don’t think that.”  We’re going to think what we think and feel what we feel.  We can’t help that part.  Our brains do it all by themselves.  We can absolutely change how we respond to those thoughts and feelings, the tools for which therapy has taught me in spades.  Ha.  Tools, spades, see what I did there?  But the feelings themselves?  Sometimes they just come, and they’re okay, no matter how much someone else tries to shame us for having them.

I want my kids to see me dealing with my emotions in a healthy way.  I want them to see me continually doing the work I need to do to interact with myself and with the world around me in the best way I know how.  I also want them to see me being a human.  I want them to know that it’s okay to get annoyed sometimes, even over something that someone else would consider small.  I want them to know that it’s okay to have bad days and cranky days and I’m-going-to-hole-up-and-listen-to-melancholy-music-all-afternoon days.  I want them to know that they can feel whatever it is they feel, and that their feelings don’t make them more or less than the person next to them.  I want them to know that what they feel – whatever they feel – is VALID, and that I won’t try to tell them they shouldn’t feel it.

I think one of the greatest gifts (and rarest gifts, it seems) that we can give each other is the space to just …. be.  No trying to fix, no telling someone that they shouldn’t feel what they’re feeling.  No judgement.  Just space.  Acceptance. Sometimes the best thing we can do – really, the only thing we can do – is to just be there.  To just sit beside someone, literally or figuratively, in the hard and the scary and the uncomfortable and let them feel what they feel.  And it IS hard.  It IS uncomfortable. And oh my gosh, do we want to fix it.  Even I want to fix it, and I’m not generally a fixer. Sometimes though, you Just. Can’t. Fix. It. Sometimes, there are no magic words, and there are no solutions.  There’s just space, and time, and empathy.

I was venting to my go-to person recently (I don’t even remember what it was about anymore), and I was just having a moment of feeling the injustice of the world, and of life, and of circumstances.  And I told her how MAD I was, or SCARED, or SAD, or whatever it was I was feeling at the particular time, and the words were all flying out, and when I was I done she simply said, “I know.”   That response kind of blew me away, and instantly tempered a lot of what I was feeling.  It wasn’t a patronizing, “I know.”  It was a genuine, heartfelt, “I heard you, and I get what you’re feeling.” She didn’t tell me not to feel that way.  She didn’t tell me what I should do about it.  She just … heard me.  She saw me.  And I’ll tell you what:  That kind of response is a million times more helpful than any well-meaning “Look on the bright side; don’t feel that way; just think positively” admonishments could ever hope to be.  Having someone – or I guess more than one someone, if you’re lucky – in your life that can just hear you that way is utterly invaluable.

I spent the good majority of my life trying to be someone and something other than what I was.  “You’re TOO SENSITIVE,” was the refrain I heard – and to be honest, still hear – over and over and over, until it was like the scarlet letter that I wore around my neck.  And oh, it was heavy.  And it hurt.

But now?  Now I own my sensitivity.  I’m proud of my sensitivity.  I’m not “too” anything.  I’m me.  And yep, I feel things deeply.  Yep, my emotions are often always on a hair trigger.  Yep, my feelings are hurt easily.  Yep, I sometimes feel annoyance at something that you deem too small to worry about.

And you know what?

It’s okay.

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There Is ONE Person To Blame For Sexual Harassment (Hint: It’s Not The Victim)

Happy New Year!  I didn’t at all intend to start this year with a post like this, but I saw a meme, was swiftly irritated…. and, well, nothing inspires me like a little (or a lot) of irritation.  

So the Golden Globes were this past weekend.  I used to be a big fan of the award shows, but have mostly stopped watching them.  We did have the Golden Globes on though, mainly because Stranger Things was nominated, and Tegan is still into all things Stranger Things, all the time.  It didn’t win, but Lady Bird did, as did its protagonist, Saoirse Ronan.  I was really excited to see that, as I’d just seen that movie a few weeks ago, and absolutely loved it.  Very well deserved win.

People have incredibly strong feelings about the Golden Globes, and all the award shows, and Hollywood in general.  This post is not about that.  People get all worked up about how much money is spent on dresses and jewelry and hair and makeup, and it’s not about that.  Other people stress out about the political climate, and celebrities getting on soapboxes, and how everyone has an agenda.  It’s not about that either.

This is about sexual harassment, and about the fact that we are still – in 2018 – blaming the victim.

This is the meme that came across my newsfeed:

I’m feeling particularly generous, so I won’t start out by pointing out the fact that “harassment” is misspelled.

It’s not nice to tell people that they’re dressed like hookers.  Let’s just start there.  A person’s attire does not dictate their profession.  And even if it did,  it’s gross  – and easy – to turn sweeping generalizations and stereotypes into insults.  Seriously, calling people hookers?  Wow.  What a well thought-out and mature argument.   (Side note here, because it has no bearing on my point: I think all three women look gorgeous.  Also, Halle Berry is 51!  I hope I have even half the confidence she has to so totally own and rock that dress when I’m 51.  The masses like to tell people what they should and should not wear at certain ages.  Malarkey.  Wear what makes you feel good.)

Comparing them to hookers isn’t the biggest problem here, though.

The problem is that sexual harassment is caused by the people doing the harassing.  Full stop.

A woman’s wearing a low-cut top?  Still the fault of the harasser.

A woman’s wearing a short skirt?  Still the fault of the harasser.

A woman dares go out into public with her hair done and her face made-up and lots of skin showing?  Still the fault of the harasser.

Sexual harassment is an actual problem, and blaming the victim just perpetuates it.  Writing or agreeing with or sharing memes like this makes you part of the problem, not part of the solution.  If you think certain clothing gives men carte blanche to say whatever they want, you are part of the problem.  If you think that woman should feel complimented or flattered when they’re cat-called, or receive unwanted advances, or are touched in a way that makes them uncomfortable, you are part of the problem.

And while it should go without saying (except that I’m having to say it), not only is it insulting and unfair and disgusting to make “suggestive” clothing the cause of men’s misbehavior, it’s also just categorically untrue.  Lots of women are harassed.  Wearing lots of different kinds of clothes.  True story:  A couple of weeks ago, I was driving to an appointment downtown.  I’m a 44 year old mom, driving a mom-car, wearing my mom-uniform of jeans and Chucks.  I glanced over at the car next to me at a red light because, well because that’s what you do at red lights.  The driver looked over at me, made eye contact, and smiled.  Not a friendly smile, but a decidedly creepy, leering smile.  I forced myself to give him the benefit of the doubt, and decided that maybe it was innocent after all.  Maybe he just had that sort of face.  A few more sideways glances at future lights (he was beside me for what felt like 15 miles), told me my instincts had been correct.  He was leering.  And being gross.  And making me incredibly uncomfortable.  I was wearing jeans and a t-shirt.  It wasn’t okay.  And guess what?  If I’d been wearing any of the dresses in the above photo, it wouldn’t have been okay either.

Sexual harassment is the fault of the one doing the harassing.  Each time.  Every time.

The great irony in this that the ones blaming the victims,  the ones taking the onus off the men?  They’re actually showing their distinct disregard for both genders, in one fell swoop.  They’re turning women into objects, sexual non-humans that are merely present to attract attention.  But they’re turning men into objects too:  Walking penises incapable of controlling themselves, doing nothing more than looking for their next conquest.

Our women deserve better.

Our men deserve better too.

Most men manage to make it through the day without harassing a single person.  Most men know how to respect women.  Most men see women in low cut dresses as…. women in low cut dresses, not as a get-out-of-jail free card to treat them however they’d like.

As for the others?  The ones who do use power and intimidation and ego to sexually harass women?  That is their fault. 100% of the time.

And it doesn’t make a damn bit of difference what their victim happens to be wearing.


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I have the word “breathe” tattooed on my left forearm.  (Snoopy at his typewriter is on my right. :))  I felt the word was important enough to get permanently etched on my body because it is literally the first answer for EVERYTHING.  Yes, there are going to be problems to solve.  Yes, there are going to be actions that need to be taken.  But the first step, the step you need to take before you do anything, is breathe.  It’s one of the first things you learn in yoga (indeed, yoga IS breathing).   The physiological benefits of mindful, deep breathing are real, and plenty.  It slows your heart rate, sends more oxygen to your body, calms your nerves, relaxes your muscles, strengthens your lungs and your heart, and lowers your blood pressure.  Plus…. it just feels good.

I see a lot of people who need to breathe right now – and I’ll include myself in that, because it’s never not a good time to breathe – so I give you the following two tools to help.  Do one, or do them both.  DO IT.  The first is self-explanatory.  Breathe along with the graphic.  One slow, deep breath in, and one slow, deep breath out.  And repeat.

The second is something that always helps me to breathe:  the sound of running water.  I took the little video at the cabin I go to up north, and still return to it from time to time to remind me.

Don’t overthink it.  Don’t try to feel anything special, or get any particular result.  Just breathe.


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Happy Things

A sweet meme texted by a sweet friend

I had two separate people tell me today that my blog has been extra dark and bleak (dreary? I forget the exact words) lately.  In my defense, I think it’s just been real.  Regardless, it’s been coming across as dark to at least a couple people, so rather than pull down half my November posts  – which is always my first inclination, and I know, I know: it’s my blog and I can post what I want and I shouldn’t let other people’s comments get to me and etc etc etc – I decided a straight-up happy post would serve as a nice balm (and hopefully a reminder to people that I’m… nice?  Or not dark?  Or something?)

A little bit of happy:

~ This is Sophie ^ Today is Sophie’s Gotcha Day, which I wouldn’t have known, had Facebook not told me.  We adopted her nine years ago today.  Tegan was especially happy to learn this, as she’s always keen on celebrating…. well, everything, but particularly her fur-babies.

~ My house is clean.  It’s nice to have a clean house ANY time, but it’s always particularly nice on the weekends, because it means I get to wake up to a nice, clean, organized house at the beginning of the week, which greatly cuts down on the Monday blues.  It’s like New Years.  But without the “I ate way too much junkfood” hangover stomach.

~ Mike and I have been working on building a (cardboard) jukebox for a 50’s diner scene for Tegan’s latest play, and we got it just about finished today.  There are just a couple things being added to make it more 3D.  Finished projects make me extremely, extremely happy.  Something about having a vision and making it come to life.  I live for that kind of thing.

~ Tomorrow is Sunday, but it’s really Saturday, because Mike has a three day weekend that ends on Monday.  So today’s really Friday.  Or something.  And Tegan has a theater showcase on Monday (not the play that the jukebox is for), that she and her friends have been working really hard on, and we both get to watch it.

~ Next week is Thanksgiving!!!  I also have an eye appointment next week, which I’m actually really looking forward to, because I definitely need a prescription adjustment, and being able to see is always nice.  But I’m not looking forward to it as much as Thanksgiving.

~ Right now, right at this very second, the house is quiet and peaceful but: I can hear the 17 year old laughing with a friend through the magic of the interwebs, the 20 year old talking very sweetly with the 9 year old, and the 13 year old feverishly and happily tapping his keyboard as he plays a cooperative game.

And it’s all very, very good….


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Friendship, Tegan-Style

I was looking for something on my phone today, and I came across this picture of Tegan with one of her good friends.  I adore this photo.  They’d just wrapped their final performance of The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, and were still very much riding their post-performance high.

What’s remarkable about this picture is that it’s not remarkable.  What I mean by that is that if you’ve ever seen any picture of Tegan with her friends, you’ll see that they all have the same joy, the same authenticity, and the same fierce, fierce love.

Of all the lessons that I’ve learned from Tegan (and there have been, and continue to be, a LOT) this lesson of friendship is one of the most powerful.  I look at her and I see the kind of friendships I want to have.  I look at her and see the kind of friend I want to be.  I’ve truly never seen someone love so completely, so purely, and so unabashedly.  That girl would walk through fire for her friends and not give it a moment’s hesitation.

I think part of what makes it so fascinating to me is that she is a true extrovert, where I’m the most introverted of introverts.  She lives, and loves, out loud.  She’s affectionate.  She’s bold.  You never, ever have to guess where you stand with her.  If she knows you and loves you?  You’ll know it.

I’m much more cautious, and (as much as I hate to admit it) far more jaded.  I can’t love like I’ve never been hurt, because…. well, because I have been hurt.  Deeply.  And recently.  I have trust issues.  I have intimacy issues.  I just have issues.

Tegan, though:  That girl is fearless when it comes to friendship, and I so, so admire that!  Here are just a few of the things I’ve learned from her about being a friend.

  1.  Don’t be afraid of making new friends.  To Tegan, every new person she meets is a potential new friends.  To me, every new person I meet is a potential new person that is going to eventually kick the shit out of me, or perhaps even worse:  a potential friendship that I am eventually going to screw up, wreck, or otherwise sabotage because that’s just what I do.  (I told you.  JADED.)  But I’m learning from Tegan to not be afraid.
  2.  Be generous.  Tegan is one of the most generous and thoughtful people I know.  She loves to write her friends notes, give them little gifts, send them emails that will encourage them when they’re down.  She is so purely generous, with no conditions, and no ulterior motives.  The girl just has a huge, huge heart.
  3. Be transparent. Like I said up above, there is absolutely no mistaking it when she knows and loves someone.  She is so beautifully open and honest about her feelings, about her relationships, and about her love.  If she loves you, you know it.  She’s not afraid to say it, and she’s not afraid to show it.
  4. Be affectionate. Somewhere along the way, I got the reputation of not being a hugger.  But I am, I am a hugger!  I think it’s just that it doesn’t come as naturally to me as it does to Tegan.  It’s hard to catch a picture of Tegan with her friends where they don’t have their arms around each other, or aren’t hugging, or aren’t holding hands.  I’ve tried to be more open about this for myself as I’ve gotten older – I am a hugger! – and lo and behold it turns out that platonic affection is actually really, really nice.
  5. Love deeply. I’m actually good at this one.  It might take me awhile, but once I love, I love hard.  I trust hard.  I’m deeply loyal.  The difference between me and Tegan is that she does so with no caveats, and no reservations.  For me, no matter how good or how right a friendship might feel, I always start with a tiny voice in the back of my head, ranging in intensity from a quiet whisper of “Tread with caution; you may get hurt here”, to a loudly screamed, “Abort!  Abort!  Nothing good can possibly come from this!!”  And even if things do go well, I’m, well I’m paranoid, especially in the beginning.  Did I say something wrong?  Is she upset with me?  Have I been too annoying lately?  It’s … sad.  And I’m so happy for Tegan that she has no such hang-ups.  That is perhaps my favorite part of watching her with her friends.  She is ALL-IN, with tiny no voices advising her otherwise.

One of the many (many many many) things I never knew before I became a parent was how much I would learn from my kids.  How much they’d teach me.  How much they’d inspire me.  Watching Tegan is helping me to be more open.  More trusting.  More loving.  More authentic. More bold.  And it’s one of the best things I never knew I always needed.


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The Gratitude Alphabet

I keep seeing these gratitude posts come through my Facebook newsfeed, one for each day of November.  I’ve participated in the past, but I skipped it this year.  I couldn’t even keep up with the 7-day black and white picture challenge (I think I made it to day three), and I’m quite honestly rather impressed with myself for making it to day 17 of blogging every day.

But the gratitude posts made me think of something that was recommended to me a few weeks (months?) ago, to help shift mood, negative thinking, etc.

The concept is simple enough:  List something you’re grateful for for every letter of the alphabet.  I haven’t tried it until right this very second (because I’m stubborn and it’s cheesy and oh my GOSH don’t tell me what to do), but for whatever reason, it’s been persistently and annoyingly in the back of my brain all day.

So, I give you my very first gratitude alphabet.  I’m resisting the urge to fill half of it in with the names of my family/friends/pets, because that feels like it would be too easy, and therefore cheating, and also… it goes without saying 🙂

A – Amazon Prime

B – Bullet journal

C – Caramel M&Ms  – and of course, COFFEE, and chocolate, but those also seemed too easy.

D – Drugs  (I debated, hard, but it’s the first thing that came to mind, and yeah … I’m thankful for drugs.)

E – Elephants

F – Free to Be

G – Grace

H – Hugs

I – Inside Jokes

J – Jammies

K – Kitchen Tables

L – Land Cruiser

M – Mozzarella Cheese

N – Netflix

O – Oxygen

P – Pens… but also, my prefrontal cortex.  In equal measure.

Q – Quiet mornings

R – Running water

S – Starbucks

T – Television (I really struggled between television and tattoos)

U – Unschooling

V – Video stores.  I don’t know if they exist anymore?  But I have happy memories of the corner video store when we lived in Andover.

W – Watching movies

X – X-rays (There are just so few words that start with x!  But I really am thankful for x-rays.  They’ve been quite useful a time or two)

Y – Yoga.  And yoga pants and yoga mats.

Z – Zoning out


Three things:

  1. It was harder than you’d think
  2. I had to censor a little, because sometimes my very first thought was not PG rated.  Ha.  I’m not sure what that says about me.
  3. I really do feel sort of warm and fuzzy now.

Now you go.

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Seeing Each Other

I write a lot about the importance of hearing our kids, of putting ourselves in their shoes, about really stopping and taking out all judgment and meeting them where they’re at.  I talk a lot about just SEEING them.  Really seeing them.

And I think that while most of us can agree on its importance for parenting well, that as adults, when it comes to dealing with each other:  We are, as a general rule, spectacularly bad at it.  We just don’t see each other.

And it is for sure a two-pronged thing.  When I’m depressed (and I know that a lot of you can relate to this) I feel completely alone.  Isolated.  Like nobody sees me.  Like nobody hears me.  And then, of course, the irony of that is that pesky little tendency to isolate yourself further, which makes you feel more alone, which makes you isolate yourself more…. ad nauseam.  But that stuff is just a symptom of depression.  It’s not real.  I have lost some friends this year – or at least, I learned who my friends truly are – but I have a couple of friends who will not leave me alone when they know I’m depressed.  And I love them so much for it!!

Yesterday, I was sitting in the waiting room for a therapy appointment that I was crazy freaking out about (last week’s went really really badly). I was having two conversations through text, with two different people, and they were both in essence, “You can do this. Of course you can do this.”  Literally just a few minutes before he opened the door and called me in, these two friends, unbeknownst to each other, sent me the exact same text:  “I wish I was there to hold your hand.”  How unbelievably cool is that?  These are people who saw me.

I wish we could all see each other that well.

And I don’t think this lack of genuine connection is intentional.  I really don’t.  I think that we get caught up in our own… stuff… and then we fail to listen – to really listen – to other people.  I think that we see people through a veil of our own prejudices, and judgments, and ideas of what they should or should not be doing.  I think we want to fix.  (Oh my GOSH with the fixing.)  We see people as we want them to be, and not as who they are.  Right now, right in this very moment.  We get uncomfortable with the yucky stuff.  And I get that.  I was suicidal four months ago.  That’s uncomfortable for people.  It’s pretty damn uncomfortable for me too.  It makes people run.  And I get that too. That’s why the people who see the yucky stuff, who sit with you right in the middle of the yuck, and say, “I’m not going anywhere” are so, so invaluable.

I think that the answer, besides occasionally having to get comfortable with discomfort, is presence.  I actually think that presence is the answer for a lot of things, and it is one of many lessons that I’m having to learn over and over again.  But it’s not just about presence for ourselves.  It’s about presence for the other person as well.  Really being there with them, right in the moment.  Taking out all the ego, all the judgement, all your own crap about the way things are “supposed” to be, and meeting them exactly where they’re at.  ACCEPTING them exactly where they’re at.  Not trying to fix, not trying to change, just accepting.  I think until we’ve done that, we can never truly see each other.  Never truly hear each other.

Whenever I’ve gone through a hard time – any sort of hard time – the most helpful, comforting, and reassuring thing, hands down, has been the people who say, whether directly or indirectly:  I see you.  I hear you.  

May we all see each other a little bit better.

(And offers of hand-holding never hurt, either.)

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The One In Which I Tell Perfectionism To Take A Hike (Part Two)

(You can read Part One here. )

I grew up feeling like I had to be perfect somehow, or everyone would be disappointed.  It wasn’t even everyone else now that I think about it, it was me.  Because the amount of self-flagellation I would do when I fell below my own ridiculous self-imposed bar was far, far more severe than any punishment or any “I’m disappointed in you’s” I could ever receive.

And now, all these years later, I’ve had to face the fact that it hasn’t changed.  I haven’t changed.  I was recently talking to a friend about why: why one person would hold herself to such an impossibly high standard, and another (even with the same parents) would not.  The ultimate question of nature vs nurture.  We decided that it’s probably both… a combination of some innate personality trait that went a little haywire, and a product of how a person was raised.

But at this point, the “why” doesn’t matter.  Because it just… it just is.

And can I tell you something else?  It is EXHAUSTING living that way.  I put myself in these self-imposed exiles, and I cope in a myriad of unhealthy ways.  And I can’t breathe, and I can’t think, and I can’t see anything except the box around me.  And I treat people poorly (which of course makes me feel terrible because I know I’m not a terrible person) because I’m treating myself poorly, and then I think, “I’ve been in therapy for EIGHTEEN FREAKING MONTHS, and I’m still not over all of this?  Why am I not over all of this?”  And then I think, “Wow.  It takes a special kind of failure to fail at therapy.”  And then I feel bad for being so hard on myself, instead of gentle on myself, which of course just makes me spiral further into my self-loathing.  And around and around and around I go.  I know it’s not all true.  I know it’s just old stories, old tapes playing in my head (I learned that from my therapist, on one of the days I wasn’t, well… failing at therapy.)

I’ve decided I don’t want to do that anymore.

I don’t want to keep avoiding all the things I’m bad at.  I don’t want to unreasonably beat myself up for all my mistakes.  I don’t want to keep punishing myself for something long after that something’s been apologized for and forgiven.  I don’t want to take ALL the blame for all of the things at all of the times.  I don’t want to continue to hate myself, like genuinely, literally, hate myself just because my College Algebra class is so difficult for me. (“What is wrong with me?  How can I not even do a basic math class?  How am I going to do the really difficult upper level classes that will come later?  What about the science classes?  Am I too old?  Am I just not intelligent enough? Should I just cut my losses and quit now?  I should probably just cut my losses and quit now.”)

I just don’t want it anymore.

My therapist tells me that perfectionism is really the other side of the same coin as narcissism.  Which offended me at the time – because I spent a lot of the last 18 months being offended, another thing I continue to beat myself up about – but makes perfect sense if you think about it.  What makes me so special?  Everyone else is allowed to make mistakes, everyone else is allowed to have strengths and weaknesses, everyone else is allowed to be HUMAN …  and I’m … what?  A superhero?

And it’s not like I haven’t had these realizations before.  I have.  But usually I have them after I come out of a depression, when the sun is all shiny and the world is all squeaky, and I’m no longer viewing things through the haze of my black-tinted glasses.  I’ve never actually had these come-to-Jesus moments in the middle of a depression.  Like right smack dab in the middle of the muck and the mire.

So I’m trying something new.

Allow me to (re)introduce myself:  I’m Jen.

I kill every houseplant that every comes into my house (but I have two at the present time so I’m still trying.) I can’t snorkel because I get freaked out and I breathe too hard and my chest feels like it’s going to explode (but if ever given the opportunity, I’d suck it up and try it again.) I really struggle with math and puzzles and technical stuff (but I’m allowed to struggle with stuff, and it will give me that much more of a sense of accomplishment when I make some sort of stride.)

I have a terrible sense of direction. I burn a lot of things in the kitchen. I take things way too personally.  I have a tendency to sabotage relationships.  I’m an avoider. I trip over my words when I speak.

But I’m good at some stuff too!!!

And the stuff I’m bad at?  I can get better (indeed, the things in the realm of personal relations can and should continue to be addressed).  But the rest of it?  Who cares if I’m bad at bowling?  Who cares if I never did get the hang of stopping at the bottle of the ski-slope and basically just … fall .. to end my descent?  Who cares if Mike gets triple my score at Scrabble (if I’m being conservative)?

I want to be able to honestly say that I’m willing to do things badly.  To embrace the fact that I royally suck at something, and do it anyway, and then get better (or not!). I want to be able to make a fool of myself, and not let it ruin my day – or my week, or my life. I want to be able to screw up, and apologize, and then leave it the hell alone.  I want to be able to dive into life, like really DIVE, and not worry that I’ll get water up my nose, or that the top of my suit will fall off, or that I’ll get one of those seaweed things wrapped around my legs.   I want to dive into life full of its messiness, and its imperfections, and its foibles, and its beauty.  My God, it’s so beautiful!

I feel like I’ve missed it sometimes.  Because I’ve worried.  TOO MUCH.  I’ve worried too much and I’ve sequestered myself too much, and in a sick and twisted way, I’ve comforted myself with the very thing I was running from: self-loathing.  Like if I did it first, no one else could beat me to it, and screw you, you don’t get to call me out on all my stuff because I’m already doing it in spades, and you don’t get to make me feel bad about myself, because no one could ever make me feel more badly about myself than I already do.

I. Don’t. Want. To. Do. That. Anymore.

But it’s easier said than done!  That’s my answer for everything.  It’s not like I can write a tidy blog post, make a big proclamation, and ta da!  All better.  Because it doesn’t really work like that.  But what if….  what if it did?  What if it just took a decision?  What if I just tried?  What if, instead of pondering the “what if”s, I just did it.  Or YOU just did it.

Just stepped out of the box and into the light.  I’ve tried it the first way.  For 43 years I tried it the first way.

And living in the light looks a lot more fun.

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The One In Which I Tell Perfectionism To Take A Hike (Part One)

For your perusal, here’s a (partial) list of things I consider myself to be at least reasonably good at:

  • Being a mom
  • Writing
  • Drawing/Painting/General Crafty and Creative Stuff
  • Baking
  • Yoga

And here’s a (partial) list of things I consider myself to be spectacularly bad at:

  • Math
  • Scrabble/Sudoku/Really, any sort of puzzle game
  • Direction (Like, when I’m driving.  Or when it comes to knowing where I am. I’m not bad at taking direction.)
  • Not taking things personally
  • Healthy confrontation, or… any kind of confrontation
  • Relationships
  • Bowling
  • Most sports
  • Computer-y stuff beyond basic web-related stuff and Microsoft word
  • Making fried eggs
  • Keeping plants alive
  • Snorkeling
  • Skiing
  • Talking on the phone
  • Dealing with stress in healthy ways
  • Public speaking, and really… speaking in general

A few initial questions (that aren’t really to be answered, but just put out there into the cosmic void);

Why is my “bad” list so much longer than my good?  Why could I have kept on going indefinitely for the bad, and had to really search and struggle to come up with the five on my good list?  Is this really how I view and quantify my skills or lack of skills, or are they being filtered through a veil of depression (I know the answer to that)?  Does it really matter if I’m not good at bowling?  Do I have to be good at everything?  Who said I had to be good at everything, and why did that carry on into adulthood?

I have a point here, but it’s lost in a cloud of physical and mental fatigue at the present time.  Part two, tomorrow.

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Gratitude On The Four-Letter Days

I write in a journal daily, but that wasn’t always the case.  I started journal writing when I was old enough to hold a pencil, and have kept up the habit somewhat sporadically ever since.  I filled several in junior high, several in high school, and then just went in phases, sometimes skipping years at a time.  But at the beginning of this year (January 1st in fact, because I’m cheesy like that), I committed to daily writing again, and haven’t skipped a day yet.

Some days, I write multiple pages.  Some days I write a paragraph.  And some days….. some days all I can muster is a single word.  And it’s usually not a polite word.

Today’s a single word kind of day.  And I decided – in a flash of inspiration as I drove to CVS to get something the nine year old needed for a project – that I would counteract the day (both in my journal, and right now in this blog post) – with gratitude.  I do that sometimes on my personal Facebook page, but not with any real regularity.  And I should, because it helps.  It sounds very woo, and corny, and Oprah-esque, but there really is always something to be grateful for.

So I hereby give you my first four-letter-day gratitude list.  (And I encourage you to write your own!)  I’m listing five, for no other reason than the fact that it’s a nice tidy number.

1. New friends.  Of course, I’m grateful for old friends too, but today’s about new friends.

2. Familiarity.  You know how when you’re at your own house, everything’s just…. familiar?  I’m sitting in “my” spot on the couch. I’ve got my laptop on my lap. I hear the hum of the fan. I’m drinking tonic water (which became my “fancy” drink after I gave up alcohol) My daughter’s singing.  There are sounds of someone cooking in the kitchen. It feels familiar and it feels like home.

3. Technology.  This one’s a mixed bag, for sure, because I seem to spend just as much of my time frustrated with technology as I do enjoying it.  But Technology. Is. Amazing.  It allowed me to complete and submit all my schoolwork today (including a resume, the first one I’ve ever written).  It allowed me get about a million questions answered.  It allowed me to chat with a friend, on and off, for the entire day.  Technology helps my life to be better, fuller, and more convenient.

4. The desert. I never knew I’d enjoy the desert as much as I do, but the desert in general has become one of my favorite places.  The desert is my church.  Yesterday, we went for a nearly 8 mile hike, and came home exhausted, dusty… and clear-headed and relaxed.  Desert hikes are easily one of the best things about living in Phoenix.

5. Tomorrows.  Yes, we’re never guaranteed a tomorrow, but I like to think about tomorrows because 1) It’s just hopeful, and hope is good.  2) Tomorrow means I’m still here, and 3) Tomorrow is a new day, and a fresh start.

This is the quote that greets me when I open my bullet journal:

  “Courage doesn’t allows roar.  Sometimes it is the quiet voice at the end of the day, saying, “I will try again tomorrow.” ~ Mary Ann Radmacher

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