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Connection

I’ve been struggling a little to stay grounded, focused.

I need connection, real connection. I don’t need the artifice of a guided group meditation: I need someone to talk to late at night when we’ve dropped our guard. I don’t need the mass consumerism that is the mayhem of this time of year: I need someone to talk to over morning coffee sometimes…”what would you do if you didn’t have to work” conversations, where would you go, what do you dream of doing differently if you could reinvent your life, “can we just stay in bed all day” conversations.

I don’t believe we need other people to complete us. We are whole, or at least we should be whole, all on our own. After doing all the work to get whole and glue all my mental and emotional bits and pieces back together, I want the other stuff. I want private jokes and someone who gets me…and I want a lot of it. I don’t want to be anybody’s (stealing a Stevie Wonder song here) part time lover anymore. I used to be okay with the part time thing because I had other things going on that needed my attention, but I’m not feeling okay with it anymore.

It’s okay to want connection. It’s okay for me not to settle for less. I want the whole shebang.

But.

What if I don’t get it?

I’ll be okay because I’ve toughed it out through much worse, but I still want it. I’ll be fine because I am strong and I’ve done the work on myself…hell, I’m still doing the work on myself; forgiveness meditations are my jam. I’ll be whole, and I’ll be just fine, but it’s absolutely okay to want the icing to go on my cake. I want the icing!

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Thanksgiving 2016

I was thinking this morning that a year ago, I couldn’t have guessed how different my life would be today.

For my own well-being, I’ve had to cut some important people and things loose in 2016, some for a little while and some for good.  Frankly, that sucked pretty damn hard, but it was necessary so that I had the energy and attention to turn toward the positive things.

I’ve been to a few more funerals than I would’ve liked over the last year.  The desired number of funerals I’d like to attend is zero per year, but that’s not realistic.  That was hard, too, but each was a reminder to live fully.

Every year, I like to think I get closer to living a life that is true to who I am.  I live how I want.  I love how I want.  I don’t give a fuck if you like what I’m wearing or like who I love…ain’t nobody got time for that.  It’s my party, after all, and I am the belle of my ball, y’all.  Be the belle of your own ball as well; it’s pretty great.

I’m thankful for my family and my friends.  I’m grateful for my fur kids, too, who cheer me up on the hardest days and remind me  to get excited about even the tiniest moments.  With the crap that’s fallen apart around me all year long, I have big gratitude for the basics like hot water and hvac, and I appreciate the luxury of having a working dryer and dishwasher.  I’m grateful to have a bed after spending some nights on the floor.  I’m thankful for quiet time spent alone to think and recharge as well as happy time spent with others.

Thinking back over the last year, I’ve been to some great concerts, from dancing my ass off to Duran Duran to being in awe of Ghost’s macabre show.  I’ve made a lot of jewelry that I’m proud of; it’s gotten better with practice.  I’ve written some good stuff and some crappy stuff, too; not every writing session yields gold, but to find the treasure, ya gotta dig.  I’ve seen the kiddo graduate high school early…and looks like she’ll be graduating cosmetology school early, too.  I’ve traveled for work, and I’ve traveled a little for fun, too.  I’ve gotten to see some long lost faces over the last year.  There’s been a lot of sushi and a lot of sake.  I’ve danced to “Cry Little Sister” while dressed as a rogue cowboy, and I’ve played classic video games while laughing about how much I suck since I’m out of practice.  I’ve given some great hugs, and I’ve received some great hugs.

Today there will be turkey and pie and family.  I made breakfast in the pre-dawn darkness for the kiddo working retail on Thanksgiving morning (a travesty that the store is open on Thanksgiving!).  I’ve taken the dogs for a walk, and we gave out dog biscuits to the neighbor dogs on our route.  I’ve sent some texts out to the people I love…I hope they know that text message is love, because that is my intention.  My intention is to give more of my attention to the good stuff, to the good people.  I am thankful for the opportunity to share my words and my love with you.

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Shame and Truths: RIP Jennifer

It’s the morning after the election. I scrolled through Facebook, and between the flood of posts from both the gloaters and the weepers, I remember that I lost a friend a week ago…and all your political banter seems like silly fluff to me when I remember she’s gone, exited at her own hand.

I don’t know precisely why she did it, but I do know this: we often carry around our dark secrets, ashamed, sure no one will love us if we come clean. We are sure opening up our suitcase of skeletons will cause us to lose our friends. They’ll think us foolish or weak, or maybe both, so we drag our nasty baggage around with us, hiding it away. The weight of it gets heavier as time goes by, crushing.

I’ve cracked open my baggage a time or two, but mostly I keep it snapped shut. I’ve given close friends a glimpse at what’s inside, and you know what happened? They asked, “Why didn’t you tell me sooner? Why didn’t you let me help?”

Because: I was embarrassed. I felt like a failure. I didn’t want to speak it out loud. I didn’t want anyone to know what was really going on with me because I didn’t want to trouble anyone. I needed to handle it myself. I needed to either overcome it or hide it away, but I didn’t want to advertise it. I am strong and asking for help is weak. I don’t know why. All those reasons and none of those reasons, maybe, and perhaps my friend was struggling with the same.

Let me crack open my baggage a little, just a peek, and see if you turn away…

I’ve been verbally abused and hit by men who claimed to be my husband. I say “claimed to be” because a true partner wouldn’t go there and/or he’d recognize his own problems and get some help. I’ve manage to wed two who did that, and I really don’t think I had a clue either time before the wedding. What does that make me? Blind? Naive? And where does that leave me today in relationships? Running away as fast as I can, or trying to control what can’t be controlled…which ends up in me being alone, which is safer, right?

Still with me?

I suck at adulting. I live paycheck to paycheck, hustling side jobs for any extras. I carry a lot of what I call “survival” debt where credit cards were used for medical, dental, child care, and things like clothes for the kid in the months where no child support came or it came, but there was not enough to cover costs like shoes for growing feet or the summer day camp field trip to Dollywood. I’ve never bought so much as a new couch or a new kitchen table. I’ve watched people build new houses and cart in their new beautiful furnishings and I’ve felt lower than low. I’m happy for them, but I quietly wonder, worry, obsess over what I have done wrong? I don’t get it. I have a wheelbarrow full of college degrees and relevant certifications, and I struggle to buy groceries most months. Sometimes when I have a little extra pocket money, I choose experiences with the people I love over a couch. Do you judge me? Could you tell me how to do it better from your comfy leather sofa?

Anyway. That’s enough for now.

My thought here was to shed some light on the things I carry around, that we all carry around, to maybe give some insight on why someone would give up on this life without us having a clue. The things we drag around fester and get heavier and heavier.

Do you believe in love? Do you believe in shame? If love can conquer all then why do we only feel the pain. We’ll miss you forever and then some, Jennifer.

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The Gift of Forgiveness

There’s someone I see fairly regularly that I have been pissed off at for, I dunno, five years or more. Honestly, this person really fucked up and made a terrible choice once upon a time. I’ve been mad ever since at a person I’ve known since childhood.

Tonight, the clock struck midnight, and it was my birthday. I decided I didn’t want to carry this anger around another year. People screw up. I know I’ve epically screwed up and sometimes wish I’d made different choices along the way. I’ve wanted merciful forgiveness that has yet to come and may never come for me…but I can give that forgiveness to someone else.

I took a deep breath, let it out, and approached him. I shook his hand and held it, gave it a little squeeze. I dropped the weight of that anger, the heavy pull of disappointment and hurt, right there.

The choices made so long ago were not awesome, but the fact is that they can’t be unmade. I have a choice now to be angry or to let go, and with this birthday, I give him and myself the light and gentle gift of forgiveness.

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Thinking

As I get closer to my birthday each year, I find that I want to reflect more than usual, look back on how I got to this point.

There’s a line in the song “So Far Away” by Staind, “I’m not ashamed to be the person that I am today.” That line is a great summary.

I used to carry around so much shame, guilt, and regret. I regretted things I did as well as things I didn’t choose to do. I felt guilty for not always being the best parent, friend, partner that I could be. I was ashamed that I wasn’t more, whatever more meant.

I dropped those feelings for the most part when I attended the funerals of two of my friends. The loss was a wake up call to notice all the good that is, rather than get sucked into what isn’t going right.

How am I different? I don’t live in fear. I don’t care if you like my job, my clothes, my friends, my lovers, my tats, my kid, my taste in music. I don’t care if you like my words. I do have my moments of feeling low, but I try hard to pull myself back up again quickly because this is it, this moment, this life, this breath…all I have is in this moment so I don’t want to waste it being unhappy.

I was angry and unhappy for years, and to what end? I shoved people away who wanted to love me and I was closed off to new opportunities. That’s not what I would call a win.

Now? I laugh. I write. I flirt. I spend my time with those that bring me joy. It’s not always rainbows and unicorns. Not everyone appreciates my balls to the wall approach. I’ve been told I’m abrasive. I’ve been told I’m as subtle as a chainsaw. I’ve been told my writing sucks. I’ve been rejected for love, and I’ve been rejected for work.

And so fucking what? Every no brings me closer to yes, and yes is abso-fucking-lutely delicious. Yes is a road trip to see an old haunted theme park in the pouring rain with a car full of friends. Yes is seeing my words shared over 12,000 times from a website I adore. Yes is laughing hard over breakfast with my kiddo. Yes is that sixth cup of coffee with girlfriends because we have the best conversations. Yes is a sleepy warm arm draped over my bare hip in the wee hours.

Say yes, friends, to the possibilities. Say yes. Be brave.

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Dreams That Leave You Sad

I’m not a big boohoo-er, not a big weeper when I see a sappy commercial or sad movie.  I woke from a dream this morning and burst into tears.  The dream felt so real that waking to reality was just a sharp smack in the face.

I have a friend that I used to be super close with…movie dates, meals, hanging out, stupid private jokes…a friend for a long time.  Friend partnered up, and friend’s partner doesn’t dig me, so all those magical times are no more.  Hell, it’s rare that I lay eyes on my friend in person anymore.

In my dream, it was the present day, but all of this was different.  Friend’s partner wasn’t in the dream.  There was adventure.  There was laughter.  There was wasted time drinking coffee and making snarky jokes.  It felt so good.  In my dream, I remembered just how important this person was in my life and what a void the absence had created, how freaking whole the world felt with my friend back.

And then I woke up.  Damn.  Ouch.  The feeling was like grieving, only this person is alive and well.  Holy crap, wow, it hurt my heart and soul.  Grieving for the departed living.

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The Death of Email?

Photo by Marion Hobbs http://bit.ly/1n4np2O

Photo by Marion Hobbs http://bit.ly/1n4np2O

Remember back in the olden days when we used to email each other?  I still pop open my inbox each morning in hopes of a real email.  Usually all I find in there are 15 or so ads from places I only shop once or twice a year, so delete delete delete.  There are a few subscriptions that arrive by email to articles and quotes, and I read those every day.

It’s a rare day to find a personal email, but I still skim the list of new mail, looking for that shiny gold nugget amidst the rubble.

I want to hear your stories.  I want to know the details.  I want to peek behind the scenes, beyond what you post on Facebook and Instagram.  I want to know the real you, not the social media persona.

I miss snail mail, too.  I have a couple friends that still send cards from time to time, and I display those cards for weeks.  I love the effort behind snail mail.  I had a friend who lived a few hours away from me in college, and he would decorate the envelopes before he’d send them, sketching in a little drawing on the back or coloring the entire envelope in a hodgepodge of shades; receiving mail from him was like receiving a gift, a treasure.

I don’t send as many emails and snail mails as I used to write once upon a time.  I suppose in some ways I’m sitting around waiting for an answer to some of the big ones I sent out, or looking for feedback on the 600 zillion blog posts and articles I have floating around the corners of the Internet.  Is silence the answer I’ve been awaiting?  I hope not.  I hope somewhere out there, you’re all coloring envelopes for me with your favorite colored pencils or roaming the aisles at the supermegamondomart, looking for just the right card.  Maybe you have a draft email that you keep coming back to and revising, deleting and adding until it’s just right.

Tell me a secret.  Tell me a joke.  Tell me what your kids did that was awesome or embarrassing or awesomely embarrassing.  Tell me who you have a crush on or why you think that new movie totally sucks.  I want to know more than the character limit on your text message app will allow.  Can we bring one on one communication back into fashion?  Who doesn’t love a note written just to them, just for them?  Status updates are handy and fun, but there’s none of the mystery and excitement of a new message in my email inbox or a hand addressed envelope arriving in with the mix of bills.

Can I challenge you to write an email today or drop someone a snail mail note?  I will be generous in my challenge and say that those messages today don’t even have to be to me…but I want to hear from you soon.  I want to hear all about it, whatever “it” is.

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A Lil’ Gratitude

Facebook is awash in “Gratitude Month” posts for November and Thanksgiving. It kind of makes me wanna barf a little, because gratitude should be an all year thing, not a seasonal thing, y’know? But better some gratitude in the world than none, I suppose.

I’ve been admittedly irritable lately. Financial concerns primarily are my annoyance as child support is about to end, yet there’s still school tuition to pay, health insurance, et cetera. I’m a speck worried about making ends meet, and I frankly think it’s ridiculously unfair that one parent is “off the hook” based on a birth date. I could use some gratitude so perhaps I can be less grumbly. I could also use a miracle or two.

I’m grateful my friends. We drink a lot of coffee. We laugh. We are sassy and snarky and happy together. Even though my new job puts me in a tough spot financially, it gives me much more room to see these wonderful people for meals and adventures. I love my bunch of weirdos, near and far.

I’m grateful for my fur children. The kitties and the doggies are always glad to see me. On a crummy day, they will always snuggle with me. Priceless.

I’m grateful for a warm house on this blustery cold day. It’s crazy to think that it was so warm outside just a few days ago that I had my windows open, and now the mountains in the distance are dusted with snow. It’s warm and I have my ginormous fleece hoodie on that could fit me and a few other people all at once.

Have I ever posted that I’m grateful for my slow cooker, because I totally am?! I made turkey with cranberries earlier this week, and last weekend made a chicken with salsa. I love my slow cooker.

I am grateful for this day. The sun is shining, the dogs are snoring on the floor, and it’s almost time to go to work, but I’m alive alive alive. I’m here. We’re here. This is good.

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Scary Stuff Sucks

I have been scared out of my mind for a friend of mine these last couple weeks, but I’ve been doing my best to stay rooted in the positive.  I’ve been cheerleading and logical, supportive and encouraging, but on the inside I have been freaking the hell out.

I hate when shitty things happen to marvelous people, but I am hoping there is wisdom in all this mayhem.  I believe it is a turning point for my friend, a time to choose a path, but it’s still hard to stand by, helpless.

I’m sending up positive intentions, lighting a candle, and hoping for the very best, because that’s all I know to do.  Scary stuff sucks; feeling helpless sucks.

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The West Aville Sunday Breakfast Club

We live really close to each other.  We realized after the death of one of our friends in 2013 that we were leaving way too many gaps between gathering together to live so freakin’ close to one another.  We started meeting for breakfast, and it is a ritual I have come to love.

I get my own apple butter; that’s a rule.  I will drink bottomless amounts of coffee.  There will be gigantic biscuits, then there will be nothing but biscuit crumbs. We will eat enough to feed a small nation for a day and marvel at how full we are.  We will talk about the silliest stuff, and we will dig in and ponder the deep stuff.  We will laugh loudly and other diners will turn to look at us.  We will tip the hell outta our waitress for hogging the table for so long.

Connections, love, laughter: this is the good stuff, the deliciousness of life.

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