People Detox

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We introverts are a curious bunch, no?

Who else needs solace to the degree of borderline isolation, at times?

People, as a general rule, are pretty unavoidable. And when we (introverts) have been with others for long periods of time, it can begin to take a toll on our energy.

My daughter had a friend spend 3 nights with us this week. This friend is a lovely girl with a happy-go-lucky attitude and is never a bit of trouble to host in our home. I enjoy her. Reagan enjoys her.

After I dropped her off at home Wednesday morning, I had errands to run all over south Mississippi for work, so Reagan was my co-pilot. And she put in her earbuds and didn’t speak until we stopped for a late lunch about 3 hours later.

After lunch, it was more of the same, and when we arrived home, she took a long bath, dried her long mane, and then fell asleep on the couch at 6:45 p.m.

I shook her gently about 7:30 and prompted her to just go on to bed.

Like a weary toddler exhausted from too much play, she didn’t protest. I tucked her in like I did when she was small and she was out like a light as soon as I left the room.

Self-care is a hard thing to learn in a society as constantly “connected” as we have become. It takes discipline and sometimes means that borderline isolation to which I previously referred.

Not forever. Not even for long stretches of time. But some time. Specifically carved out moments of quiet and solitude.

When I don’t take those moments, my anxiety (and sometimes even my depression) begin to manifest in frustration, irritation, and fatigue.

I was almost 30 years old before I realized what an introvert truly was, and that I, in fact, could be characterized as such.

I had confused the necessity that my jobs had required of me to be constantly engaged with others with my very personality. In fact, it was simply me facilitating the requirements of my professions. And it took a toll on me, many times, mentally, emotionally and physically, without me ever realizing what I could do to help myself.

These days, I’m not above taking a “mental health” day off. My body may not be sick, but it will be if I don’t first care for my mind. And soul.

My anxiety propels me to be constantly busy. I’ve had to learn how to stop. To say “no” – even if it means hurting feelings. And to make sure I have moments of quiet and uninterrupted time of not engaging with others.

It’s one of the reasons I left Facebook behind, for good. And why I get up an hour before anyone else in my house and try to spend at least an hour alone before going to sleep at night. These have become the necessities of my own introverted self-care, and I guard them jealously.

Time in nature has always rejuvenated me, but, with a heat index of 109 for the next 3 days, and a busy and exhausting career, there are always things that seem to prevent me from getting that time in Mother Nature’s care.

It can be tricky to navigate the introvert personality, because it would be incredibly easy to cross over into that world of isolation and make an extended stay of it. But that isn’t healthy. And so, as life always has a way of doing, it all comes back to balance. The ever-elusive unicorn that I occasionally glimpse, even touch, but never fully harness.

I am learning, more with each passing day, how to best care for myself, and my introverted offspring. But it’s not an exact science, because it’s as different as each individual that bears the markings of this trait.

If you are a fellow introvert, I’d love to hear about your methods of self-care, and how you navigate a world that constantly seeks our attention.

We must stick together, of course.

Separately. But together. 😉

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Summer Struggle

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It’s hot. I mean HOT. Summertime in the deep south is no joke. In general, I hate it. The humidity is relentless, the sun, unforgiving.

I find myself trying not to bitch. But, on the other hand, what else can I do about it?

I was thankful for our reprieve from the June warmup during our stay in San Diego, where the daily temps never rose above 75 degrees and our last night there, I would have been comfortable in a light jacket.

But I’m no longer in California. I’m home. And I do love my home.

But this heat, y’all. I’m contemplating a summer home.

In Antarctica.

When A Time to Kill was filmed in Mississippi, and then I saw the film, I had to laugh at the sweaty actors. Every scene. Indoors or out. They all had a sheen of sweat and made southerners look like none of us owned air-conditioning. But, honestly, it wasn’t all that far-fetched. Just strolling across the street can cause perspiration like even the most intense gym workout.

I live for the days when rain storms pop up, because, even if we don’t see a drop, if they get close enough to my general proximity, they can give blessed relief from the 105+ heat index that we’re currently experiencing.

I spend mornings outside, because it’s the only fresh air that truly feels “fresh”, and only if one rises before the sun. I’ll have my coffee on the patio, but by the time I leave for work, it’s like stepping into a convection oven the moment I walk outside to get into my car. And it stays that way until the sun goes down again. But even then, the relief is almost always only from the blaring sun. The humidity lingers like an unwanted houseguest.

I use the oven sparingly, and the dryer only in the mornings or evenings, so as to not overwork my a/c unit. I try to grill a lot. And keep cold fruit or frozen goodies on hand. Anything to maintain even an illusion of “coolness”. There’s a reason iced tea is such a popular drink in the south.

We have a ways to go before summertime is a distant memory. When the State Fair comes to Jackson in early October, most of the time, the cooler breezes also arrive. Seemingly like clockwork. But not always. Last year, the fair saw as much heat and humidity at times as it would have in May or June. But still, the promise of cooler days stretched out on the horizon, and left us all with anticipation of the autumn season.

A couple of weeks ago, I saw fall decorations in a store and I just heaved a deep sigh. You can put a scarecrow on your porch in September if you want to, but it’s still a plausible concept that he might burst into flames before you ever light the first autumn bonfire.

Still, in the next 4-6 weeks, people will start putting out hay bales and pumpkins and cornucopias, as though trying to will the seasons to change.

But Mother Nature has a mind of her own, and she will not be rushed.

So, for now, I’ll enjoy my coffee in the morning breeze, pray for evening thunderstorms, and keep my orange and yellows and browns in storage a while longer.

Summertime is a necessary evil to contend with in the south. And, apparently, a lot of places across the globe right now. But it won’t last forever. And, one day, in a few months, when it’s been cloudy and cold and everything but the evergreens are brown and brittle, we’ll start longing for the warmth of the sun. And summer days.

An Unlikely Superhero

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I grew up watching PBS. The shows I watched as a child were about learning, fun, and kindness: Sesame Street, Reading Rainbow, The Joy of Painting, and, of course Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood.

Last night, I had the privilege of seeing a film that I’ve been excited about since I learned of it’s making: “Wont You Be My Neighbor?”.

My sister said that the first person one was most likely to see, after Jesus, upon entering heaven would probably be Mr. Rogers. Reagan stated that the holy trinity of planet Earth was Mr. Rogers, Jim Henson and Bob Ross.

These men were not flashy, in-your-face artists. They didn’t wear capes. Had no “super powers”. But they were definitely heroes of mine.

When Fred Rogers first invited us to be his neighbor, the world was not so kind. War, segregation, and politics divided America. And kids had long been told that feelings were not something to be discussed or explored.

In therapy, the patient is given a “safe space” to feel and speak and explore the things that we fear.

So, I’ve been getting therapy since childhood. I just didn’t realize it when I was a young girl, tuning in and being told, every day, that I was liked, just the way I was.

I often tell my daughter that I’m proud of her. And she’ll almost always ask, “For what?” My response is, and has always been, “For being you.”

Everyone, everyone, longs to be loved for who they are. And the lessons of acceptance I learned from Mr. Rogers sank deep into my psyche. Last night’s viewing of this intimate and fascinating look at Fred Rogers: the man, brought a rush of nostalgia and happiness to me and everyone with whom I attending the showing.

People have a way of creating their own truths about public figures. I’ve heard many “urban myths” about Mr. Rogers over the last 30 years, but the reality is, he was just a simple guy with a kind heart – a heart that wanted to show children that they were important, that they were heard, and that they mattered.

With some simple music and lyrics, a bare-bones set, and some hand puppets, Mr. Roger’s Neighboorhood transformed the lives of millions. He was an anointed messenger of love, ahead of his time with lessons on acceptance and tolerance.

What struck me the most in some of the old footage I saw throughout the documentary, was the looks on the faces of the children that he met, in person. They gazed at him with such awe, and trust, and yet they, we, related to him as “one of us”. His inner child was alive and well, and able to help us navigate a scary and uncertain world.

Most people lose touch with their own inner child as they age. A few years ago, in therapy, I began to recognize my own, and give her room to heal from some things that had long ago damaged her innermost workings.

I wish I could say that our world was kinder now, 50 years after the regular airings of the original Neighborhood episodes.

But it definitely wouldn’t seem so, would it?

We still live in a world that is very much divided along the same lines that it was back then – our differences – even with all of the progress that has been made.

What gives me hope, is those lessons that those millions of children learned about kindness, that I know are buried deep within the ones who watched and absorbed Mr. Roger’s show.

We now have to tune in, not to a children’s television program, but to ourselves. Dig into the recesses of our minds and tap into the seeds of goodness that were planted there, so many years ago.

Mr. Rogers was just a man, yes. But a good man. A kind man. A unique and a revolutionary soul.

I urge you to see the film, especially if you grew up watching Mr. Roger’s Neighborhood. But even if you didn’t. Because lessons of kindness and acceptance, especially of, to, and for ourselves, can still be learned as adults.

And even grown-ups need superheroes.

Selective

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In the nearly 4 months since I quit Facebook, I find that I maintain a much healthier equilibrium.

Elections are swirling around us here in Mississippi at the state and local level, and before we know it, another presidential cycle will be upon us as well.

That is reason alone to stay away from Facebook, if not for the personal peace I have also come to enjoy from its absence in my life.

I don’t follow my stats on this blog like I used to, but in glancing at them this week, it would appear that I’m on par to maybe match what I had last year, which was a personal record. So it would seem that my departure from public posting among my “friends” has not hurt my readership here at A Pensieve View.

I choose my news sources carefully, mostly online AP articles with the occasional mainstream drivel thrown into the mix.

I pared my Instagram down when I got off of Facebook and I only look at Twitter occasionally.

My “virtual” connections have become very selective, and I’m quite happy about it.

It would seem as though I’m finding my sweet spot of introvertedness.

My “me time” has been non-existent, as of late. This time last year I was making regular appointments with myself for alone time, taking in movies or shopping trips. I need to get that going again. But, for now, I’m content to take the occasional solitary lunch break, go to bed early for 30 – 45 minutes of solitude before sleep, and my mornings.

I love to start my days early. Not rushed. A few moments outside before the heat bears down like an angry villager with pitchforks and a torch known as the sun.

The only thing I’d change about my mornings would be the neighbors cattle, which SCREECH their calls across the pasture and chomp on the grass like un-mannered toddlers while I attempt to enjoy my cup of morning joe.

I feel as though I’m in a place of rebuilding. The departure from Facebook coincided with the deep depression that accompanied the onset of my hypothyroidism. I’m long absent from church, from regular time with certain friends, and have yet to find a way to not feel like I’m neglecting my mother, who is the sole caretaker of my grandmother.

So there’s much more work to do.

I’m trying to eat better. Drink more water. And find the ever-elusive balance between work, family, and life.

The start of a new school year always kind of set me up for a schedule to start constructing, but with the beginning of a new adventure there, that has yet to be determined.

So I’m simply taking one day at a time, and trying to stay a tiny bit ahead of the business at hand.

But I’m calmer. Less anxious than maybe…..well, in a long time.

I credit my meds. My social media absence. And the day to day routine that keeps me centered.

But also my selectiveness. I’m learning how to not feel obliged to be all things to all people. How to let them feel their moods and respond to their demands within my own limitations, without guilt.

I’m not in a place of this kind of inner peace often, unfortunately. But I think I’m learning how. And that’s not nothing.

July 10th

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It has been 12 years today. I often laugh when I look at our wedding photos, because we look so….unsuspecting. Smitten. Completely unaware of the challenges that will set themselves before us.

Marriage, I used to think, was about all the things that love was, is, and I wasn’t wrong.

But it’s just as much about the things that love isn’t – the things love can’t be. Can’t do.

Love never fails.

I had it engraved into his ring. To remind him. To remind me. That whatever we face, we should face with hope.

That has been the challenge. Through 12 years of changing seasons. Misunderstandings. Shifts in the dynamic. Ups. Downs. Even when, especially when, the scales have seemed unbalanced.

I’ve gone from being smitten, to being a true admirer of his strength. From watching him be a father figure to an actual Dad. From loving my child, to watching that same daughter become his own.

If there is an unselfish one in this marriage, it isn’t me. I have dreamed and pursued, dreamed and pursued, and he has been content to walk beside me – even behind me – even when he strongly disagreed with my direction.

It’s easy to love someone in the beginning of a relationship. When all things are possible and new and full of potential.

It’s the test of time that refines love. The moments of fear, and disappointment that ultimately decide if it is real.

I believe it is.

I’m not who I was 12 years ago. My own personal changes have been drastic at times. A hard swing in directions I could have never anticipated when we said our vows.

Love has been tested, but it hasn’t failed.

Love has taken some unsuspected twists and turns, but it hasn’t failed.

Love has made us face harsh truths about ourselves, each other, and the life we’ve built. But it hasn’t failed.

It’s not without blemish. Even deep, painful scars. It hasn’t always been romantic, and those looks of doe-eyed optimism have long since faded into the photographs. But the photos remain. And so does the possibility that looks out from the eyes of the man and woman that set out on a journey together, all those years ago.

We have surprised one another. And we have failed one another.

But love hasn’t. It doesn’t. Underneath all of the shifting sands that life can be, love is still the foundation underneath it all.

Love never fails.

No mistakes

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This is the image that greets me. Early in the morning, shortly after the first sip of coffee.

Is there a story in me, today? Are there words beyond my usual drivel and contemplations? Inspiration? Deeper reflections? Something worth writing? Something worth reading?

Nothing invokes joy and hope within me like the possibility of the unwritten word. The story yet to be told. Forming in my mind, even as I tap the letters to make words, sentences, paragraphs.

What to leave in, what to backspace. What to emphasize, what to leave to a reader’s own thoughts and reflection.

Writing births new truths to me, even as I type my thoughts. Ideas become clearer as they become black and white on the page. Life becomes bigger, yet more intimate.

Will someone I know, someone I love, read my words today? Will some stranger in a foreign land understand and connect?

Will it make them laugh? Cry? Give them a reprieve from some heavy thing they carry? Offer hope?

Some of the greatest words of literature,

Tomorrow is always fresh. With no mistakes in it.

And so tomorrow has begun, as it is now today. I check for errors, but there may still be a few. It’s not the grammar and punctuation that I most want to get right. It’s the heart of whatever story I’m choosing to tell.

So I stop. I read and re-read. And then I publish. And start my day in earnest. Knowing that also in that endeavor, I will have mistakes. Small infractions of error. But if I can stay true to the heart of my intentions, those small missteps may not, usually don’t, matter. Not in the grand scheme.

Here’s to another new day. A new week. A new story. With no mistakes in it. Not yet.

Two Epidemics

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It’s rare for me to be awake at this hour, watching one day turn into the next. A second ticks by and, just like that, a new day begins. In the blink of an eye.

Moments like these are engulfed in meaning to me.

Each day is filled with tiny fractions of time. Some more significant than others. We all want them to be meaningful. Easy. Filled with that which makes us happy. And we, each of us, sometimes struggle with making the most of our moments.

But we are a fast-paced society. Busy filling those moments with time-killers that may or may not bring us what our souls truly desire.

I sat with my grandmother a while yesterday. I haven’t had an extended visit in a good while. The conversations can be admittedly tiresome. Her opinions are readily shared aloud, just so she can speak them.

So I just sit, try to be a captive audience, and let her make her moments count the way she chooses. Today, she was in a bit of a storytelling mood, which is always interesting. Her stories may or may not be true, after all. Truly God only knows.

The point is, even in her most trying moments of knowitallness, she is only doing what all of us do. Either consciously or subconsciously, we all long to know that our moments count. That we count. That we matter.

I see it on social media all the time. And have become so much more aware of it since my departure from Facebook. That need to matter. To have significance. Validation. Attention. And, I think, it all comes down to connection.

We aren’t designed to be loners. Even the most introverted among us longs for connection to something, even if it’s *just* nature. The world itself. A higher power. Art. Something. But mostly, that need to really be seen. Heard. Valued.

The sad thing is, we are often so absorbed in our own searches for connection, that we ignore the other souls that are also in need of it. Souls that are hurting, and, in fact, lonely.

My grandmother? I can talk to her. Tell her about my problems. I have. Sometimes I still do. But today, today she needed to talk. To just ramble. I was chatting online with a friend at 6 a.m. yesterday morning because I picked up on cues that they weren’t okay. We “talked” for an hour.

These were just two instances in a relatively short period of time where I stopped and was simply present with someone else in a moment where they each needed a different kind, but they both needed connection.

And I suppose we could blame technology and social media and the “me generation” and all of that for the lack of meaningful connections we both offer and receive these days, but I think it goes deeper.

If there’s a true plague besieging humanity at present, it’s not technology. It’s not social media. These things can be used for good and ill.

The real threat, in this humble writer’s opinion, is apathy. It’s well-masked behind “thoughts and prayers” and emoji responses, but it’s most definitely abundant across society. I’m guilty of it, too.

So how does one not succumb to indifference?

I think the answer lies somewhere in the recognition of the fragility of this life. These moments. How precious they are. How meaningful we can make them, if we choose to.

Perhaps I’m nostalgic. My mind has been preoccupied with the child that I seem to have left to her toys a moment ago, only to come back and find she’d nearly grown up when I wasn’t looking.

Thoughts of coming of age and seeing the transformation of my own flesh and blood have definitely given me a lot of pause lately.

But whatever the reason for the introspection, I cherish it. These are the secret treasures of parenthood. The depth and insight it can give you, if you’re open to it.

Moments pass, more swiftly with every passing day. Technology continues to thrive and bring us into new territory, places that can challenge what it means to authentically connect with other people. But we have a choice in those places. To either join the apathetic herd, or be present in each moment, both in person AND across an internet connection.

Because if apathy is a plague that threatens humanity, so also is one that’s just as alarming – loneliness. Many months ago, I listened to a broadcast about The Loneliness Epidemic that is rampant, not just in the U.S , but across the world. This article sort of sums it up.

So what we have are two different types of epidemics that, when poured into society, mix like oil and water. The lonely ones making slight overtures, hoping for someone to reach out and connect, and, on the other side, the apathetic, scrolling past, walking past, tuning out.

My daughter just returned from her last camp for the summer. It’s hot. Humid. She was not entirely excited about going off to nature and un-air-conditioned cabins. But she talked non-stop when I picked her up yesterday. And once she had a nap and some time for reflection, she took to social media and did something she hardly ever does: she posted pictures of herself with the people she had hung out with all week and wrote an emotionally-charged epistle, detailing her appreciation for them and the connections she had made over this last week.

If there was ever a creature of habit, a loner content with limited human interaction, it would be my teenager. But yesterday just proves what I’m saying here: even the most independent, introverted, strong-willed among us needs and craves human interaction more than even we, ourselves, realize.

I used to write these posts in the hopes that I might, eventually, reach some level of success with my writing. Until I redefined what “success” meant. Because, in the days since I left that goal behind, I’ve forged valuable and meaningful connections with other writers, and also the people who used to read the blog via Facebook who took the initiative to actually follow this blog via email or WordPress and began to interact. I went from “likes” to actual comments. People truly connecting.

So the challenge, it would seem, is not in the method of connection, but the substance. Because my virtual connections with people I may never meet in person can mean and have meant just as much to me as the most intimate heart-to-hearts I’ve had with close friends.

If you fall within the lonely bracket, as I often have, OR the apathetic bracket, as I often have, the challenge is the same: to step outside of one’s comfort zone, and be vulnerable. Open one’s heart. Give and receive the moments of connection that are universally craved and needed for life to have meaning and purpose.

Those actions, I believe, are the keys to healing a divided and hurting society, weary with image, and hungry for hope and authenticity.

Show love today, in whatever format you find yourself. And receive it. Reach out for it. I can guarantee – someone else needs it, too.

Deciding to do Nothing

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It’s Independence Day, and I just crawled out of bed. Mainly for coffee. Mainly because I am choosing to be awake for this day of complete slothfulness. Most of it, anyway.

Normally, on the 4th of July, we load up, go to the creek with the family, cook meat over fire, eat watermelon like we’ve never seen one before, and then shoot explosives into the sky with the gusto of our inner adolescents, ooohing and ahhing whenever the spectacular star-spangled lights fill the night.

This year, my child has not been home for more than a few days at a time since the beginning of June, and she left again on Monday for her last summer camp of the season.

My sister and most of her family are also away at a summer camp for their two youngest children.

My parents are visibly exhausted from a busy few weeks for them, as well.

So, instead of the sound of rushing water and birds and nature surrounding us, Hubs and I are kicked up in recliners, listening only to the sounds of the A/C trying to keep up with the scorching heat and humidity, and a little HGTV on the telly for good measure.

Hubs made a run to the butcher shop yesterday, so there will be meat grilled over fire and vegetables to sustain us. And I’m about to dig into a freshly cut watermelon for a light breakfast. After more coffee.

We won’t shoot fireworks tonight, but my neighbors will, and I can enjoy some of theirs from my own back yard. AND, I did buy two boxes of cartridges for my guns this week, so I plan to work on my aim this evening with some long overdue target practice. IF it cools off.

I’ve set Yankee Doodle Dandy to record on the DVR, and I’ll watch it tonight, as is tradition on this patriotic day.

I might take a nap, too.

The point is, this Independence Day isn’t necessarily following tradition, but it’s just what my worn out body needs – a break. Some peace and quiet (except for the target practice). Rest.

I love my family’s traditions. Even more than that, I love their flexibility to make up for lost holidays whenever we can all come together to replicate what normally would have happened today. And we will. Soon.

The child will be home soon, finally done with her summer travels. Day trip possibilities as well as lazy weekends or late night movie dates loom out over the horizon.

But for today, today is a day of quiet. Of recovery from the last bustling month of endless movement. A blessed, midweek reverie from what has been a CHAOTIC return to work following my trip to California.

So, nothing is on the agenda for today. With a side of rest and a sprinkle of relaxation.

Happy 4th, y’all!

Second Half

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2018 marches on.

I spent the first few moment of this morning reflecting over the first 6 months of the year, reading previous posts, watching the roller coaster of my life taking a dip, and then beginning its ascent once again.

My eternal struggle is to find balance, an even keel of activity, emotion, and, above all, self-care.

My intentionality is most certainly there, but my day-to-day life does not often accommodate my intentions, and I often, too often, choose what is convenient or easy. Which makes them harder to implement or, if implemented, become true habits.

I’m learning how to live with a new set of health issues. A set for which there is no permanent fix. It requires constant vigilance and self-care the likes of which I have never had to accommodate.

The last two weeks have caught up with me today. My body is beyond exhausted. And I’ve been treating my body like shit, so it’s protesting. And when my body is angry, my mind hurts, also. And I become angry with myself for pushing good habits aside.

In California, the joint pain that has become a part of my everyday life became excruciating at times, as I pushed and pushed my physical self, in order to take in as much of the experience of the trip as possible.

But I paid for it. And I’m still paying for it. And the things I need to do to heal require a strength of mind that feels monumentally difficult when both body and mind are equally depleted.

The first half of 2018 was hell. Not all of it, of course, but so much of it was trying to get to the bottom of why I was feeling so off, so depressed, so tired, so crazy.

And now I know. And while there was a brief uptick in how I felt shortly after my Hashimoto’s diagnosis, I gave in to unhealthy habits and unhealthy thought patterns and neglected my need for breaks and rest and refueling.

If you read this blog often, that struggle with balance comes up, again and again, until I’m sure my readers are completely put off by the mere mention of the word.

Because I’m realizing that only a small percentage of people seem to also deal with that struggle with the same…..intensity, with which I seem to deal with it. Or not deal with it.

It is the thorn in my flesh. One that, in the recesses of my mind, I worry that I’ll never overcome. Only, every once in a while, strike – the balance of mental, physical, and emotional health. Where none is neglected and each part has what it needs to be optimal.

As I’m looking at 2018 today, I see it as a scale. And it is most decidedly off center, which means there is work to do. Hard work.

I had a dream last night that I had a heart attack. I don’t believe in superstition, but I do believe in the brain trying to give us insight into our fears, or trying to propel us in a better direction.

Dreams are often just dreams, but if they can lead to life improvement, why shouldn’t we take them seriously?

If I take any message away from that dream, it’s that my body is protesting all of this recent activity and sensory overstimulation. And it’s time to rest. Regroup.

The second half is about to start. I want to finish strong. And the journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step. So I take that first step today.

The hardest part of any journey, for me, is shortly after the beginning. When the novelty of the new wears off, when the tiny steps don’t seem to be progressing me as fast as I want, and something happens to throw me off course. It’s almost as if I have no discipline at all, but that’s not true of me. I’m very driven and can be exceptionally disciplined. I just struggle with it in times of heavy stress. And I do have a lot of that, all the time. It doesn’t go away. It’s called “life”. It’s called “a job”. It’s called “adulting”. And those things will always be there. So I have to adapt. Not for a limited period of time.

Forever.

I write about the journey. The ups. The downs. The middles. To document. It keeps me honest. Humble. And it motivates me. I’m my harshest critic and also the only one that can propel me in the direction I need to go in order to be my best self.

Life seems to be a series of starting over. From one day to the next. And when this year is done, I want to be able to pinpoint where I took back control of my own wellbeing and see the positive results of that.

So I take that step. I set aside the discouragement and the temptation to wallow in the “why”, and just move. Move outside of this place where exhaustion rules and my very health pays the price for my lack of discipline.

It will be 2019 before we know it. I refuse to have to make these resolutions of better self-care again. At 36 years old, time is not my friend anymore. It only gets harder from here to achieve the kind of wellness I seek.

Welcome to the Planet
Welcome to existence
Everyone’s here
Everyone’s here
Everybody’s watching you now
Everybody waits for you now
What happens next?
What happens next?
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before
Welcome to the fallout
Welcome to resistance
The tension is here
The tension is here
Between who you are and who you could be
Between how it is and how it should be
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened
Today never happened before
Maybe redemption has stories to tell
Maybe forgiveness is right where you fell
Where can you run to escape from yourself?
Where you gonna go?
Where you gonna go?
Salvation is here
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
I dare you to lift yourself up off the floor
I dare you to move
I dare you to move
Like today never happened,
Today never happened,
Today never happened
Today never happened before
Songwriter: Jonathan Foreman

All the Ass

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(*a disclaimer. I use many instances of the word “ass” in this post. And I enjoyed it. Because some expletives make me laugh. Because I’m immature, apparently. But if that kind of thing offends you, just stay off the crazy train today and catch the next post.)

Now that I’ve been home and had no time whatsoever to catch my breath from the busy week in San Diego, I feel the need to pause and tell you about the ugly underbelly from my travels, or, more specifically, the things that only I, with my warped sense of humor and idiosyncricity, found….amusing, annoying, and/or disturbing on my trip to California, and in the days following my return home. (Longest run-on sentence in the history of this blog.)

One of the first meals we ate in California was at a bar that doubled as a Mexican restaurant. Their tagline is, “Bad Ass Mexican”. And, I mean, that was certainly cause for some interest in the place because I LOVE Mexican food and if there was a possibility that I could try “bad ass” Mexican food, I would not require persuasion. And I didn’t. So that’s how I found myself sipping a margarita, enjoying the best guacamole of my 36 years…. and staring at ass.

Yup. The waitress, that I didn’t notice until we had ordered and she turned around, had on a leotard. A thong leotard.

Pieces of a mental puzzle began to come together as I began to realize THAT is what was meant by “bad ass” Mexican. The other servers had on booty shorts with lots of exposed cheekage, but ours was the only one in a thong.

I am all about self-expression and since she is a consenting adult, I just sipped my margarita and marveled at her boldness to bare and thought, “You do you, chick.”

And that was that.

Until Friday. When Hubs and I visited Mission Beach. We saw more ass.

As we strolled the boardwalk, several women proudly walked around in their thong bikinis. I saw lots of ass that day. Inspirational ass. I really need to get back into my pilates routine and start doing some squats. I’ll never bare my own ass in a public setting unless I’m in another country and 100% certain that I don’t know anyone IN said country, but I can still strive for California level assage.

And, see, “ass” can be used in so many different ways. So my title will continue to make sense, even though I’m not talking about literal be-hinds from this point in the post, forward.

Examples of correct uses of the word “ass”:

“Nice ass!”

“Don’t be an ass.”

“You smell like ass.”

So keep these variations in mind as you read ahead, if you’ve stuck it out this far.

I wrote last week about my struggles with anxiety during this trip. I talked about dealing with strangers and an unfamiliar setting, but I want to mention specifically a couple of situations that were sort of a mental obstacle course for me.

My fellow introverts will feel me on this. The rest of you? Well, I’m pretty sure you’ve either accepted my….uniqueness by now or you just think I’m crazy. Either way, I don’t expect you to understand, only accept or overlook.

On Monday and Tuesday of my conference, I selected a seat on the 3rd row of 4, at the end of a table. It was a good vantage point to hear and see the speaker, and it was a good place to be in case I needed to step out for any reason, and cause minimal disruption.

On Wednesday morning, I was running a bit later than usual, and when I walked into the conference room, these two Latina ladies had stolen “my seat”. I say “stolen” because they had been there for the other two days as well, and why they felt the need to suddenly change seats was both frustrating and unsettling for me.

I like claiming my space. And, when I’m alone in an unfamiliar setting, I like making my nest and keeping it…..uncluttered. Of other people. I took it as the personal affront that it was so obviously meant to be. I promptly returned to my room and retrieved my pepper spray in order to avenge myself.

Unfortunately, the last sentence only happened in my head and I defeatedly took a seat on the front damn row, and tried not to allow bitterness to destroy my concentration.

What DID hurt my concentration somewhat was the woman beside me.

This lady, while nice, was a bit…..uncouth. You can always tell, at these types of events, who is there to work and who is there to play and who can do both in a balanced way.

The lady who took up residence beside me all week was there to play. But it was her personal habits for which I judged her.

Like the fact that she stayed on her phone THE WHOLE TIME the speaker was speaking. Every. Day.

And the fact that she would LOAD her plate with breakfast food and eat MAYBE 20% of it.

And the fact that she was swiping ranch dressing off her plate with her fingers and licking it off during our last full day of class.

I realize not everyone was raised with some semblance of etiquette or manners, and she was very nice to me, but some people’s behaviors are just…..offputting. And I’m not entirely convinced she and her husband weren’t swingers, so I’m always a little wary of strange couples that are JUUUUUST a little too friendly.

She kept inquiring about my evening plans every day and I had to very much restrain from yelling, “NONE OF YOUR DAMN BUSINESS!”. Not because I mind talking about the fun experiences I was having and planning, but I don’t like for people to invite themselves into my space. And she already had and I wasn’t interested in double dating the rest of the week, even if the intentions were innocent.

I don’t want this to turn into a full on bitchfest, and since I’ve droned on and on for several paragraphs now, I’ll just mention briefly the other things that, in one way or another, made some small dents in the smoothness of our travels last week….

First, the guy almost going into a full on panic attack on the plane from Houston to San Diego. The poor guy was rocking back and forth and looked like he just wanted to scream. I felt really awful for him because I knew there was nothing I could do to help him. But I did say some silent prayers for him. I hope he can get him some Xanax or something similar before he has to fly again.

There were the two, yes TWO screaming children on the return flight to Houston. I had been watching TV on my phone up until about the last hour of the flight. From the time I took out my earbuds to the time we landed, these two kids continued to cry and throw down. I felt truly sorry for the passengers that were close to them, as well as the kids’ parents. I mean, sometimes there’s just nothing you can do. These kids were on opposite ends of the plane. We were in the middle. So we got the benefit of both! Yay us! Seriously, I’m so glad I never had to fly with a small child. That HAS to mostly suck for a large variety of reasons.

Finally, my last complaint involves nothing from my travels and just the local b.s. that causes my blood pressure to spike. Namely, the DMV.

After all these years of people needing licenses to operate motor vehicles. After all of the technological progress of the last 4 decades. After ALL OF the tax dollars that have been spent in this country and this state. I have yet to figure out WHY it still takes HOURS to achieve anything at the DMV.

I am currently sitting in one, waiting on Reagan to get an opportunity to take her written driver’s examination. We tried yesterday afternoon, but our number didn’t get called before they stopped testing for the day.

So we came to a different DMV today. And there are a limited number within reasonable driving distance. We are currently 60 miles from home. Waiting. Waiting. Waiting.

These offices are neither fully staffed, nor ADEQUATELY staffed, if you get my meaning. The lack of efficiency in these places is frickin baffling. And the school! The school where Reagan took driver’s education! Why couldn’t they have some type of damn checklist for us to show us EXACTLY what would be needed before we show up to test?!?! Instead, the instructor throws a bunch of papers at the kids and they are somewhat left to figure it out on their own. And, surprise, TEENAGERS KNOW NOTHING! Ask one a question. I’ll bet you $100 they’ll either nonchalantly, OR while rolling their eyes OR while giggling sillily, will say, “I don’t know.” Or they’ll shrug.

But I digress. Because if not, I couldn’t tell you about the freaky people at the DMV. It’s like….a rural Walmart on steroids. There’s the southern mamas with their perfect hair and Michael Kors bags bringing their teenage sons and daughters for testing (that ain’t me. My hair is a hot mess and my bag was a hand-me-down from my sister and I’m pretty sure it’s a “Tarjeyyy” original.

There’s people snacking. People letting their kids run wild. People in tank tops, and people in work clothes and teenagers in pajama pants.

It’s a damn zoo is what it is.

So, there you have it. An inside look at my judgment of and disdain for much of the human population.

I keep much of it to myself, meaning, I don’t write about it much. But perhaps I should.

Especially since it appears we are hostages of the DMV and may never see the outside world again.

Asses.

*update – she passed! Dobby is freeeeeee!