Posted in anxiety, faith, family, health, Learning, Life, Musings, People, random

Gratitude, Fear, and Compassion

gratitude in hard times

Here is a question for you- do you think gratitude and fear can coexist? Can they live in the same mind, spirit, body at the same time? If you would have asked me that question two weeks ago, I think my answer might have been different. But today, my answer is yes.

I know this to be true because I am living it right now, right in the chair where I sit. I am grateful, so incredibly grateful, for my health. For the fact that, in a few minutes, it will be time for me to start work and I get to do it in the comfort and safety of my own home, while my daughter sleeps peacefully in the other room. You have no idea what a blessing that routine and normalcy is for me today! I am grateful for the food in my fridge. And for the first time in my life, I have a true sense of gratitude for the people who are keeping our country intact- the nurses, the grocery store employees, the truck drivers, the delivery drivers. I just never gave it much thought before. But today, I am. I am so very grateful for them.

And right beside my gratitude is fear. I am afraid for my parents- my mom, especially, because for whatever reason she just isn’t taking this seriously. I’m afraid for myself and also my daughters, especially the little one who has reactive airways- in other words, asthma when she is sick. Losing all of the things I take for granted, the little luxuries in life like…running to the store, grabbing dinner out, visiting farmer’s market…that is scary, and surreal and weird. The last time I was in the grocery store, I ran through as fast as I could, wanting nothing more than to wash my hands. Counting the days past my last interaction with the world, hoping I don’t start getting a sore throat or a fever. Because it’s just Cam and I in this house, and I need to be able to care for her. This virus is in our community- I think it has been long before we got our first positive test- and I am not ashamed to admit I’m afraid. I think, if you are not a little nervous, you really should be. A little bit of fear, in this case, is healthy.

But from this gratitude and fear, a third thing was born, not just for me but for lots of people all around the world, and this has been the most beautiful part of all. Compassion. Compassion that makes people more generous and giving at once than I have ever seen. We are collecting money for families in need, giving whatever we can wherever it is needed. My sister-in-law started sewing reusable masks yesterday, and I bought a whole bunch from her so that I can give them away. She was making them for free for her family in the medical field, but she’ll need money to buy the stuff and now she’s probably got more orders than she can handle. People are donating blood, fostering animals, checking on neighbors. Giving and giving even when our lives are so precarious.

And how can that be? How is it that two weeks ago, we didn’t have it to give, and suddenly now we do? And I’m sure you gave what you felt you could before, right? I know I did- I gave my donation to the ACLU, to the United Way. I’d throw my extra dollar to St. Jude’s or whatever when I was asked. But suddenly, we are finding ways to dig deeper and give more, right? How is that?

Well, to me it’s pretty clear…when we get a reality check like the one we are getting today, you understand well- it’s people who matter. Our communities matter dearly to us. Our neighbors, our favorite local restaurants, the grocery clerk whose name we never learned- they matter to us. And by extension, their families and lives matter to us. Our protective instinct has been awakened, and though the circumstances are awful, our response is pretty breathtaking. We are remembering how to be a tribe. We are aware that we are a global community- some of us understanding it for the first time ever. What harms our neighbors, whether across the street or across the globe, can harm us as well. We’d do well to remember this when the danger has passed.

And so, as I sit here this morning, a bundle of nerves and love, gratitude, compassion, and fear…I will say to you what I have been saying to everyone lately. I love you all. Please stay safe.

 

Posted in advice, faith, family, health, home, inner peace, kids, Life, living, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, social media

Strange Times

It’s been a while, I know…possibly the longest I’ve gone without posting in over a year! I didn’t plan on this long hiatus, it just sort of happened. I got off of Facebook, and the silence and space that created in my life felt so good that it just sort of rolled over into everything else. I suppose you could say I was practicing “social distancing” in a pretty hardcore way before it was even cool.

Seriously, though- I had planned on resuming my posts while I was on vacation this week in Maine. As you can guess, those plans fell to the wayside in the face of the current SciFi movie that is reality right now. I was very conflicted all last week about whether to stay home or go ahead and go. Looks like I made the correct decision. It would suck to be trapped in a hotel room on the other side of the country right now, and that is probably exactly what it would have ended up being. There’s nowhere we can go to escape this thing right now, unfortunately.

That being the case, what we can do, though limited, is pretty simple. We can follow the instructions being given to us by our local officials. And if you feel like your local governing body isn’t quite up to speed, you can certainly take it upon yourself to do your part- stay home, limit contact to those living in your household, limit trips outside the house to necessities. Stop complaining- we all are well aware that the stores are out of toilet paper and pretty much everything else. Suck it up. Freaking out isn’t helping anyone. Be responsible about what you post and put some thought into what you believe- in other words, don’t incite panic in others and check the facts before you assume something is true.

This is a scary time right now! There is no arguing that fact. For sure this is the strangest event I have ever witnessed unfolding in my lifetime. It sure does change things, doesn’t it? I can’t speak for you, but for me…it’s made me realize a few things. One of them is the crazy amount of things I take for granted on a daily basis. I have never not been able to easily get whatever I needed from the store. I have never been told to stay inside, or had to be afraid to run into the grocery store. I have zero experience with being anything less than absolutely free to do as I please, and I promise you, when this is over with, I will view that freedom with a lot more appreciation.

Another thing I’ve realized is…I really want to live. I don’t mean just survive this thing, either, which of course is also true. I mean…holy shit, you guys! Life is finite. Of course we all know this on a certain level, but it seems like I just assume that I have all this time to do whatever, you know? But now…now I just want to gobble up all the experiences the same way I am gobbling up all the food in this house- with rash abandon.

I think we are all getting a very good lesson in living in the moment. None of us know what tomorrow holds- this has always been true, but now the point is really being driven home. So enjoy this day. Enjoy your children’s sweet faces, enjoy your good health, enjoy the quiet world. Take care of yourself, and take nothing for granted. We’ll get through this, one way or another.

Wishing you all safety and good health. Make wise decisions, for yourself and for all of us. Hang in there.

Posted in adhd, adventure, faith, Goals, housekeeping, Learning, Life, manifestation, Musings, People, random, women

Something New

Every month, for the past…four years and five months, my landlord comes to pick up rent. And every month, for the past four years and five months, this causes me no end of stress. I don’t know why. Maybe because I have a built in guilty conscience from all the years when I really was up to no good? Maybe because, thanks to my high (and often unreasonable) expectations of myself, I am forever feeling like I could do better at just about everything? Maybe because I am a TERRIBLE housekeeper? Maybe it’s a combination of all of those things. Probably that.

Whatever. I’m not going to sit here and pick myself apart. I’ve done that enough for one lifetime. The fact of the matter is, I have some organizational issues that are shared by many, many people with ADHD, and as much as saying that feels like a total cop-out excuse…it really isn’t. I am successful in life despite this funny little brain difference of mine, but there are certain ways that it plagues me. Keeping house is one of them. Apparently, it always has been- if you don’t believe me, ask my mom, who is my complete and utter opposite in this way. She has spent months worth of time in despair over what a slob I am…and this was in childhood! I grew up in a house that was neat as a pin, welcoming and orderly. All except for my bedroom. My bedroom made my mother cry.

Anyway, there was some discussion yesterday, when my landlord came by, about raising my rent in January- which is more than fair, considering she never has raised it since I’ve been here- and then she mentioned doing an inspection of the house sometime soon, just to see what is what around here.

This is where I balked. Now, I realize this is not unreasonable. I know she is well within her rights to want to see the house she owns. But boy, does it make me uncomfortable. I already feel so judged all the time (99% of it is in my head, I know) that the idea of actually being…well, judged…makes me crazy.  And the funny little blind spot that keeps me from seeing my surroundings has this annoying habit of disappearing when I know that someone will be judging me, for real, on something.

So…suffice to say, I have some work to do around here. Oh, there is nothing too bad. I haven’t harmed the house in any major way. There are no holes in the walls or broken fixtures. The walls need to be wiped down, the bathroom fan needs to be cleaned. The wood floors…well, after four and a half years of us living here, they’ll probably need to be redone when I move out anyway, so I’m not terribly concerned about that. I’ll be wiping down baseboards and fixing little odds and ends, and in order to do all of that, I’ll need to clean and get rid of stuff. Which I need to do anyway, so that’s okay, too.

BUT: I don’t want to live this way. Not just in a borderline hoarding situation, which is also true- who would? What I mean is, I don’t want to live in someone else’s home anymore. I want to live in my own home. I want to buy a house.

I make really good money. I’ve been at my job for a long, long time now- over eleven years. My credit is decent. I know this is a hard area to buy in, but it is my home, and I think I should at least see what my options are. So that is what I am going to do!

I am going to take my current fear and use it as a tool to propel me into change. One of the first things that needs to change is my spending. I love, love, love to shop online. I love it way too much. So, for the next few months, I am going to stop buying and start paying, and get my credit cards paid off. And you know what? I’m excited to do it. None of them are out of control anyway, but I love a good challenge.

For the foreseeable future, if I want something, I am going to have to go to an actual store to buy it, and I am going to pay for it with cash. I bet that rule alone will chop my spending in half- because anyone who knows me, knows I HATE going to the store. Apart from that, I’m just gonna pay the hell out of my bills and watch my balances disappear. I’ve also considered switching to a cheaper phone service and slashing my cable channels. I don’t think I’m quite there yet, though.

There are two things I know about myself that give me an advantage in every situation: One is that I have never failed at anything that I have wanted badly enough. I have overcome obstacle after obstacle in my life, and I do not give up. Not ever. And two, I have the best luck of anyone I have ever met. I can find the silver lining in any situation (so far, anyway) and I know in my heart that everything will turn out the way it is supposed to…even if that doesn’t look the way I wanted it to. So, I guess it’s part good luck and part good attitude? Anyway, I am saying this now because it helps me feel less afraid. Change is hard for me, and things are about to get real different around here.

Wish me luck!

Posted in beauty, faith, family, happiness, Life, love, magic, mindfulness, Musings, People, random, relationships, spirit

Sacred, Wonderful, Beautiful

This morning, I woke up and did what I do every day- let the cats and dog out, started my coffee, then sat down to wait with my phone for it to brew.

The first thing I stumbled across on Facebook was a video my friend had posted of a wedding in Ireland, in a big, beautiful cathedral with high, high ceilings. Some of the family of the couple waiting to wed had decided to surprise them by serenading them with “Stand By Me”. Have you ever heard a choir sing in a cathedral? It’s pretty breathtaking. Add to this all the love and emotion of a wedding, the tears of the floored couple, the beauty of the song…I’m not even going to pretend that I didn’t tear up.

Let’s think about all of that for a moment, can we? Do you ever think about how insane it is that human beings sing? I mean, I know, we take it for granted that it’s just a thing we do…but do you ever really think about what that is? That sometimes, these funny, upright animals that we are open our mouths and music comes out of us? I mean, it’s kind of incredible, right? That when we are happy, we sing and become happier, and sometimes, the other animals around us know the words and join their voices with ours, and there we are, just pouring out our love and happiness into the air. Is that not the craziest thing you’ve ever thought about?

Or what about the idea that songs even exist? That there are songs for every type of feeling you can imagine, songs for when we are sad, songs for when we are angry, songs for falling in love, falling out of love, unrequited love, lost love, every kind of love that exists. The notion that us weird, complex, neurotic, messy beings have been sitting down since the dawn of time, trying to figure out how to spell out the nature of our feelings…I mean, wow! That is the craziest thing!

I know, I know…you have stuff to do. You have to get ready for work and pay your power bill, you forgot to get gas last night, and the kids lunches need to be made. Not to mention the world is falling apart, the glaciers are melting, the polar bears are starving, and the people running the world are all idiots. I get it. Things are hectic and messed up.

max ehrman

But if you have a minute today, just think about it, would you? That you have the ability to open your mouth and make music come out. You have a beautiful soul that looks out through your eyes at your children and feels startled by the love you feel for them. You have listened to a song that someone you never met wrote and thought “That is exactly how I feel.” You have read a poem that someone wrote to the moon two hundred years before you were born, and you have looked up at the same moon and known the words were perfect and true. You have undoubtedly cried tears of joy and tears of sadness for people you have never, and will never, meet. You have mourned strangers and rejoiced for them, too, many times.

Somewhere along the way, we have certainly gotten lost, haven’t we? The way we live today is not the best for us, not for most of us. We are lonely and isolated in neighborhoods crammed with people. We are rushed and busy, stressed and angry, always on the go, always plugged in. I couldn’t even pretend to have a solution for it. I wouldn’t know where to start.

I just want you to remember that each one of us is something more than that. Each one of us has a soul, or something, something bigger and so much more important inside of us. We have eyes that light on beautiful things, hands that gently brush the hair from a sleeping loved ones face. We have hearts that swell with pride and love, and break with grief and loss. We have minds that contemplate the stars, and write poems to the moon. We have voices capable of song. We live on a planet that is sacred, wonderful, and beautiful…and each one of us is no less. Try to remember that, at some time today.

Posted in advice, family, Life, Mental Health, mental illness, Musings, People, random, social media

If You See Something, SAY Something

Last Sunday evening, I was sitting, sun burnt and happy, in this very chair, scrolling through Facebook when I saw an alarming post in a women’s group I’m in. “There’s an active shooter at the Gilroy Garlic Festival-local birds, please check in so we know you’re okay.”

I thought surely there must be some mistake. I mean, that is twenty minutes away from my house! I had almost gone this year for the first time ever, but we opted not to for whatever arbitrary reason. I quickly jumped onto a local news site, and sure as hell, it was true.  Right here, practically in my neighborhood.

It was just a short time ago that I was frantically messaging my friend Stephanie in Virginia Beach after a man there opened fire in a government building where he worked. That was right there, right in her town. She couldn’t believe it was happening in her hometown.

Yesterday, I was at Jiffy Lube, getting my oil changed, when I was alerted that there was a mass shooting in a busy Walmart in El Paso, packed with families getting back to school supplies. The stories I read were from people who were just grabbing unattended children and running for their lives…There was one other man in the waiting room at the oil change place with me. “There’s been another shooting.” I said, “In El Paso.” “Huh.” he said, and went back to his magazine.

This morning, I woke up to find there was another shooting, this time in Ohio. I haven’t read the news about it yet. I will, but I don’t really need to. I can make an educated guess that it was a white male, most likely in his late teens or early 40’s, though not always. He probably doesn’t like people who aren’t the same color as him. Maybe I’m wrong, but probably not. Chances are, he’s been posting something somewhere- maybe Reddit, maybe Facebook, Instagram, or some other, less well-known, more “white nationalist” flavored site. This will come out after the fact, as it always does.

I’m not even going to go into my feelings about how our current administration (and by that, make no mistake that I am pointing directly at the so-called leader here) is fueling the fires of racial tension with his behavior and words. If you can’t see that, I won’t be able to convince you otherwise.

What I want to talk about is this: Right now, there is going to be an upsurge in the same outcry we have heard time and time and time again- GUN CONTROL! We need GUN CONTROL! When are THEY going to DO SOMETHING?!

Kids, I hate to break it to you, but “They” are clearly not gonna do shit. We are on our own here. It is you, and your neighbors, and your communities full of people you love, children, elderly, families, teenagers, outcasts and recluses- all of US, against a few bad and dangerous, sick, volatile few.

It is up to US.

If you see something, SAY SOMETHING.

If someone you know posts something online that could be a joke, but also might not be- it is your responsibility to bring it to the attention of someone who can help.

If your SON is troubled and you worry about what is going on with him, maybe he says things you don’t support and he’s a little more angry than usual, but he’s your son, and you know he would never…it is your responsibility to step in.

It might be nothing. You might feel stupid, and like a snitch, and worry about making trouble for someone for no good reason. With nothing but love, I tell you this: Fuck that. This is no time for giving people the benefit of the doubt. Innocent people are literally being gunned down while they eat calamari at food festivals, while they wait for the next band to come on, while they buy their kids wide rule paper at Wal Mart. If there is even one billionth of a chance that you could somehow prevent the next slew of pointless deaths, you better jump on it.

In this weird era of disconnection from not only our neighbors but our loved ones- often loved ones living under the same roof- I think all this violence is a very good reason to reacquaint ourselves with our surroundings. Check up on your adult children. Make sure they are doing okay. Sit down with your high school kids, find out what is going on- REALLY going on- in their lives. Reach out to your neighbors. If you are like me, you probably know three or four people on your block, and only remember one of their names. We need to be better neighbors, better parents, better friends, and better community members. Because we are the eyes and ears. If we paid attention, maybe we could slow down these events. If we used our voices, if we spoke up when something made us worry or didn’t seem right, maybe we could save some lives.

I’m not placing the blame on anyone for these things except for where it belongs- squarely on the shoulders of the people shooting these guns. Ultimately, they are responsible. But the things THEY have heard and the way they interpret that information matters. And the people surrounding them, the people who know them, who read what they write and hear what they say, they matter too. Do not be afraid to speak up.

If you fucking see something, SAY SOMETHING. No one is coming to save us.

Posted in Dating, entertainment, friendship, fun, happiness, humor, Learning, Life, love, Musings, People, random, relationships, women

Quirks, Baggage, and Funky Thoughts

baggage

If you are single, and you think you have resolved nearly all of your issues and have arrived at some plateau where the dilemmas of the common man no longer ruffle your feathers, I highly recommend you run out and get involved with someone. Especially if you want a good laugh. Because I PROMISE YOU, the minute you add that new person to the mix, along with a good dollop of whatever emotions happen to tag along, you will be just amazed at the weird acrobatics your brain can (and probably will) do.

I want to preface this by saying that the man I have had the absolute pleasure to find myself spending time with is incredibly attentive. He keeps in touch, he is basically an open book, and he is kind. All of these are things I doubt I would have been able to tolerate at any other phase in my life- I mean really, nothing ever turned me off more than a man who liked me back. You know the old story about how “men like the chase”? Well, I guess I am a man, then, because that was always my M.O. I loved the chase. One might even say I went out of my way to find unavailable men just to up the challenge a little bit.

As a matter of fact, I worked so very hard at that chase, and at convincing (or trying to) the man that I was perfect for him, that very often, I forgot to check in with myself to see if I liked them. Like, really liked them, beyond the thrill of the conquest. As you can imagine, this has created some problems for me. It has also created weird dynamics in relationships that lasted far longer than they ever should have. I have a lot of “go away, I can’t stand you…wait, come back, I love you!” situations under my belt. I didn’t understand it when it was happening, but I knew it was unhealthy and weird. I don’t really understand it now, and I don’t think it matters. I just don’t want to do it anymore. I’m too old for that shit.

But I do still have some things to deal with. I am so lucky that I am older, wiser, and totally hip to what is happening in my thought process while it is happening. That doesn’t make it any more pleasant of course, nor does is make the feelings any less real, but…at least I can see my thoughts for what they are- made up scenarios in my brain- rather than believing them to be the truth and letting them run rampant through my life, wrecking everything.

A perfect example is this recent non-event that my brain made into a big old deal: We had tentative plans to hang out at my house one evening while Cam was gone. We never hang out at my house, by the way- I don’t know why…okay, that’s a lie, it’s because my house is a freaking mess, that’s why. Anyway, due to circumstances beyond our control, we couldn’t nail down anything ahead of time, and were playing it by ear. No biggie, right? I had a text at 7:40 in the morning saying “I’ll let you know soon.” And that was it. Normally, I get a call or text midday, at least. This particular day, nada. Okay, fine. That’s fine. By three in the afternoon, I’m getting worried. I refer back to previous texts to see if I said something unreasonable? Pushy, maybe? I begin to over-analyze everything, all the while telling myself I’m being ridiculous. At four, I send out an exploratory text. “Hi. How’s your day? I’m almost off work.” HINT FREAKING HINT. Thirty minutes crawl by, then “Busy. How about you?”

Sigh. Men. You gotta be direct sometimes. But I wasn’t there yet. “Same. Got a lot done, though.” Annnnnd…nothing.

At five thirty, Cam is long gone with her dad, my house is more spotless than it’s been since I moved in, and I’m laying on the couch, half sulking, half convinced that it’s over, he hates me, I did something wrong, I…wait. Wait, wait, wait. What in the hell is going on here? I sat up, paused the TV, and took a good hard look at my crazy ass thoughts. First of all, I’m ashamed to admit that it got that far in the first place- this is a perfect example of old behaviors and baggage floating to the surface like the bloated corpses of relationships past that they are. Secondly, if I needed an answer about something, it was my job to ask- why was I pussy footing around? I quickly sent out another text- “Hey, I need to know what we are doing so I can plan my night- you coming over or not?” Easy. Third of all, had there been any indication whatsoever that this guy was the kind of person who would just ghost me on a whim? Absolutely not. So why was I not giving him the benefit of the doubt? And why was I literally just sitting there, waiting for him to call me? Jesus Christ, I’m a fiercely independent, self-sufficient, forty four year old WOMAN.

So, I got up, threw my shoes on, and headed out the door to get some frozen yogurt as a reward for all my hard work on the house. When I got home, I realized I’d left my phone on the charger, and sure enough, had missed a call from him and several messages. He’d had a busy day, he was sorry, call him back, he was getting in the shower and heading over. So…all of those mental theatrics were for NOTHING. An utter waste of my time and energy. I laughed (worriedly) at my own ridiculousness, and carried on as if nothing had happened, because…nothing had happened. Lets see how long I can retain that lesson.

It hit me, though, how much I still have to mature in this area. I have never been very good at it, relationship stuff. It scares me more than anything. At the same time, I realize how lucky I am to get to be here right now, in the midst of all these heady feelings. I’ve waited a long time for this, not even realizing that I was waiting for it. So why not enjoy it? Why not recognize that every time I start trying to plan it or place expectations on it, it doesn’t feel good anymore, and when I just let it unfold, it does? Because the truth is, I can’t say what will happen or what comes next- really, no one ever can. But I can squeeze every bit of joy out of what is right in front of me. And that in no way involves me sulking on my couch, waiting for my phone to ring. It means trusting that, no matter what happens, I’m capable of being happy…and that means it’s safe to relax and enjoy the good things in my life.

 

Posted in adventure, faith, family, Goals, Life, Musings, random, travel, Uncategorized

On My Way!

Well, I’m not really on my way- not quite yet, anyway. This time tomorrow morning, I will already be at the airport with Cam, at our gate, waiting to board our flight. But you and I both know our vacations start well before we ever walk out the door of our homes. My brain has been in vacation mode all week, work nothing more than a bothersome distraction.

Does this mean I’ve been busy packing and preparing? Well…no. Just by virtue of the fact that I know I need to do a bunch of stuff, I have felt less inclined to do any of it. I have gotten all of our laundry done. I finally started packing our suitcases last night. I have dishes to do and one last Target run to pick up the final items I absolutely have to have with me for this trip- like those little tubes of freeze dried Starbucks instant coffee? Those are 100% necessary when staying in a hotel with questionable coffee availability and family who do not wake up anywhere near as early as you do. So, I need those. I need at least one new phone charger as all of mine seem to have stopped working this week. I really need a new fitbit band, but I’m hoping this one will hold up at least until I get where I am going. But I might see if they have one at Target, I don’t know.

Anyway you crack it, I will be somewhere in San Francisco tonight, sleeping in the first of a series of unfamiliar beds, and the adventure will begin.

This morning, I sat on my cushion for my normal prayer and meditation, and I set my intention for this day and this trip. Gratitude that this is my life now- I am a person who can plan a trek across the country and follow through. I can have confidence in myself, for I am capable, smart, and strong. I will be patient, with myself and others, knowing we are all doing the best we can at any given moment. And I will enjoy myself, basking in the love I have for my family, and that they have for me, as we embark on this adventure together.

Am I nervous? I would not be me if I weren’t, but…I trust that all will be well. So, Bon Voyage, my friends! I’ll catch up with you all when I am in Maine- I’m sure I’ll have plenty of time to write while I wait for everyone else to wake up!