formerly Diane's Addled Ramblings... the ramblings are still addled, just like before, and the URL is still the same...
it's just the title at the top of the page that's new

Saturday, February 6, 2016

The Voice

Since my daughter could talk, no topic of conversation has been off limits. We talk about anything and everything. And we talk a lot. Topics include school, friends, boys, family, the future, current events, social issues, politics, religion, movies, books, art, writers, influential people. Everything. Anything.

While some of my friends have difficulty getting words out of their teenagers, I have difficulty getting mine to stop talking. Dinnertime can last hours.

I don't mind.

Not in the least.

I'm lucky, I know. I don't pretend to believe she tells me everything she thinks and does (I probably don't want to hear it all), but I get so much.

So very much.

I know things a lot of moms probably don't know. I guard this information; I keep it close to the vest because keeping her confidence is one of the most important things I think I can do as a mother. I want her to come to me. I want her to talk to me. And I know she'll stop if she can't trust me or if she thinks I'll react badly.

I never had that sort of relationship with my parents. I mean, my dad and I could talk for days, sure, but our conversations were about issues or events; they were not about feelings or personal struggles; they most certainly were not about uncomfortable topics (you know the ones). I never had those conversations with my mom either.

I still don't.

I vowed I would have a different relationship with my child. And I do. And I'm grateful.

Early on, I made sure she understood that the way I think, my opinions, and how I view the world are all about me and my experiences. I made sure she understood that the way she thinks, her opinions, and how she views the world have to be about her and her experiences. I've always told her that if she thinks like me, that's great... and if she doesn't think like me, that's great, too. As long as she's traveling her own path, as long as she reaches her conclusions through research and thoughtful contemplation, I'll be happy.

OK, maybe not happy. I mean, my dad surely wasn't happy when I disagreed with him about pretty much everything. I think he would have rather had a child who thought the way he did (and he did get two of them), but I think he was secretly quite pleased that I sorted things out for myself.

I have worked hard to make sure that when we discuss issues of the day, she gets to hear, to the best of my ability, all sides - my view as well as other views, the merits and negatives of all perspectives, the reasons I think the way I do and the reasons others think the way do. Sometimes it's not easy, but I think it's always important.

For a long time, when we discussed various issues, I heard my voice coming back at me. I think that's normal. When kids are forming opinions, they very often mirror their parents' views at first.

But recently, my voice has been absent. In its place I've heard another voice.

Hers.

And it's clear. It's articulate. It's coming from a smart, witty, wise person - from a woman, not a child, and most certainly not from an entitled, apathetic teenager - the teenagers other people talk so much about... the teenagers I don't know.

Last night, at dinner, we had a conversation about the upcoming election, as we have been wont to do for the past several months. She has been incredibly interested in this campaign, following the candidates, watching the debates, reading, asking questions...

I find this really cool, especially given the fact that she can't even vote yet.

She talked about what impresses her, worries her, angers her, perplexes her. She said she had taken a long online test, designed to determine which candidate she thinks most like. Some of the results surprised her a bit at first. She admitted that there were some questions she couldn't answer intelligently, because she didn't know enough about a few of the issues.

"I have to learn more," she said.

I have to learn more.

That statement made this mama so proud.

She said she doesn't understand how people can say they're not interested in politics, because politics aren't just about who wants to get elected to what office... they're about life and how ours will be impacted by the governments we allow.

As I say, the words coming from her mouth lately have not been mine. I know this because they are words I haven't even thought of. They come forth unrehearsed and off the cuff. They show critical thinking and a person with an open, curious, thirsty mind, unwilling to simply accept the status quo.

Two years ago, a student teacher wrote Ryan a letter; in it, she said that Ryan has a special something - a spark -  and when they encounter it, teachers count themselves lucky.

I've always seen that spark.

And now I'm hearing it.

I look forward to the flame...



Friday, February 5, 2016

It's Gonna Be a Good Spring

After meeting with the Regional Director the local chapter of Special Olympics this afternoon, I'm feeling really excited about the next few months!

On February 29th, after several years without an area swim program, we plan to have a bunch of Special Olympics athletes in the pool! I'll be coaching, along with my co-worker, Paula (a lifeguard instructor and long-time swim teacher). It was slow-going to get all the information and support we needed, but it's really happening now.

We've had some good response and I actually know several of the people who have signed up thus far. One of the "kids" used to come into the video store I worked in when I was in college. He has Down Syndrome as was the happiest little boy I'd ever met. I'm looking forward to seeing if he's still a little - well, now a big - ray of sunshine.

There's already a big regional meet scheduled for the end of April, we'll likely do a smaller invitational meet at our pool in May, and there's the BIG statewide event in Richmond in June. I'm already excited at the prospect of being a part of it all!

Over the years, I've volunteered for many different organizations and causes. Every single one of those experiences was positive and left a lasting impression. But this one? Well, I have to admit that I'm looking forward to this one more than any other. My current job has given me a new appreciation for just how special certain people can be... and for just how lucky I am to be able to experience their special-ness firsthand.

And now I get to combine some pretty special people with WATER!

And we all know how I feel about water.

Yup.

It's gonna be a good spring.


Thursday, February 4, 2016

No.

I just read that today is World Cancer Day.

Pffftttt.

Cancer doesn't deserve a special day. You know why? Because cancer is a sonofabitch. 

And because it gets every single stinkin' day of the year, that's why.

Whether you're living with it or dying with it, it's there... it's right there...

It's needles and scans and just one more vial of blood. 
It's scars on the surface. 
It's a port just under the surface.
It's fatigue and nausea and side effects
It's goddamned poison in your veins. 
It's fear and anger and desperation.
It's small victories, if you're lucky, and tremendous losses, even when you're lucky.
It's remissions and relapses and it's spreading fast.
It's a taker of security and peace and time and dreams.
It's a giver of confusion and hurt and what the fuck did I ever do to deserve this?

It's holding your breath.

It's pain.

It's grief.
It's deep and profound and unrelenting grief.

And it's every single stinkin' day.

So, no. Just... no.

Cancer doesn't deserve its own day. Cancer deserves a kick in the teeth.

Tuesday, February 2, 2016

Feeling Better Yet?

A couple of years ago, I realized that social media (Facebook, specifically) was highlighting the fact that I can be a real dick.

That's not a pleasant realization to come to.

Now, to that point, I'd never thought of myself as a dick. In fact, I'd always thought I was a pretty nice person. And for the most part, I think I was. I think I am.

But back then, even though I used Facebook primarily to connect with people I love, it could really bring out the worst in me. Weird, huh? The issue? I had a difficult time passing up an argument, especially if it was about politics. This particular little piece of my personality is one I come by honestly. My immediate family is comprised of arguers. We're gotta-have-the-last-worders. And we don't censor ourselves or work very hard to be respectful. We don't engage to understand or open our minds. We engage to prove our point(s). And we get angry.

And that's exactly what I did on Facebook.

And I could be a real dick about it.

Of course, the people I engaged with weren't being nice either. Disrespect, name-calling, insults - they were rampant in all those threads. And the last word was gold, man. You had to have the last word to win.

But the "victories" (subjective at best) were hollow.

See, I didn't like how I felt after these Facebook debates, no matter how they turned out. I wound up feeling a bit sick to my stomach, angry with myself, and low. Very low. I was stooping to a level far below where I wanted to be.... far below the place I saw myself (wanted to see myself).

So I made a conscious choice to change. I stopped engaging almost entirely. When I did, I tried very hard to be respectful. I tried never to insult. I tried to hear the other person. If I couldn't, or if they weren't hearing me, I disengaged.

Mostly.

Sometimes, I allowed myself to get sucked in. Snark is in my blood, after all.

I still allow it happen sometimes.

And I still feel bad. Actually, I probably feel worse now than I used to.

Every. Single. Time.

I'm a work in progress.

But I'm on a real quest to be a better person. I'm on a quest to be the Diane who lives in my head - Better Diane. I ask myself, often these days, what would Better Diane do? 

WWBDD?

Better Diane is nicer than I am. She's smarter. She's kind and generous and grateful and good.

(But she's not boring. Honest.)

And she most certainly doesn't argue or get snarky on Facebook with any of the many, many, many people who haven't been paying attention to their Better Selves.

I want to be just like her when I grow up.


Monday, February 1, 2016

Buddhaberry Pop-Tarts


I'm thinking about eating a blueberry Pop-Tart...

I feel like eating a blueberry Pop-Tart... 

I'm imagining eating a blueberry Pop-Tart... 

...

I'm gonna look like Buddha before this winter is over.

Sunday, January 31, 2016

Goal Digger - Follow-Up and Start-Over

At the beginning of the month, I did a post about setting goals. If you'd like, you can read it right here. I decided to list out my January goals here, in my blog, for all of you to see, in an attempt to hold myself a little more accountable than I have in the past. I said I'd follow-up at the end of the month and let you know how I did. My hope was that I'd meet them all - that I'd be 100% successful in every one.

Yeah. The road to Hell is paved with good intentions. Sigh.

But you know what? I'm not going to beat myself up because I can claim 100% success for several... and partial success for several others. That's big for me, really. A couple of things threatened to completely derail me and affected me negatively this month (I'm not making excuses. Really. I'm not. Honest. Shut up). Bottom line, if I hadn't listed my goals out here, knowing I was going to have to follow-up, and if I hadn't looked at the list on a regular basis, I don't think I would have accomplished much at all.

So I'm counting the whole shebang as a success. Of sorts. And 'of sorts' is better than not at all, baby!

Here's January's list with the outcomes...

1. Journal daily - This went swimmingly for the first 3 weeks of the month. In fact, I even got up at 5:30 every morning to do it! But I kind of fell off the wagon last week. I'll get back to it tomorrow, though. I'm counting this one as a solid 75% successful.

2. Do a new 'Vision Board' - I'm one-third of the way through with this one. I have the pictures that will go on the board, but they're not actually, you know, on the board. I think I have to count this as unsuccessful.

3. Go on two 'Artist's Dates' - I managed one, so this one gets a 50% successful.

4. Perform two 'Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving' - I did three! And can I tell you? They made me feel good! This one rates a 100%+ successful.

5. Write three blog posts per week - I think I got four in most weeks. 100%+ successful.

6. Read three of the books on my nightstand - I read two (and one of them was assigned for work, so not exactly on my nightstand). I'm going with 50% successful.

7. Re-start Whole 30 - Nope. Didn't do it. Didn't even attempt it. Epic fail.

8. Work out four times per week - See #7. Ditto. Epic fail.

9. Re-start 'Declutter 365' - Did it and then some. Happy about it, too! 100%+ successful.

10. Do tax return as soon as W2 is available - Done. I should see my moolah within the next week or so. 100% successful.

11. Start new savings plan - I did... then I dipped into it (raising a teenager on your own is pricey, yo. There are unexpected expenses every stinkin' week). I'm counting this as a tried but failed.

12. Re-do my files and calendar (work). Successful.

13. Complete resume writing video scripts (work). A little more done but still not finished. Unsuccessful.

14. Reach $1000 of my Arctic Dip fundraising goal (work). I've raised a bit but not close to $1000. Unsuccessful.

OK, so February dawns tomorrow and I have a new list of goals. Well, actually, my list is comprised of all of last month's goals (with the exception of #10 and #12), as I'm either I'm continuing them until they become habits or I'm re-attempting the ones that were only partial successes or utter failures. I've said that the main reason I like goals as opposed to resolutions is that resolutions feel like 'all or nothing,' 'black or white,' 'succeed or fail' to me, but goals are things you work toward, and falling off the wagon (or not getting on it right away) is just part of the process.

I've added a few new goals, too.

Here they are: February Goals (* denotes partial success last month; ** denotes failure last month)


1. Journal daily *
2. Complete a new Vision Board **
3. Go on two Artist's Dates *
4. Perform two Mindful Acts of Kindness/Connection/Giving 
5. Write three blog posts per week
6. Read two of the books on my nightstand *
7. Re-start Whole 30 **
8. Work out four times per week **
9. Continue Declutter 365
10. Start new savings plan (and try not to dip into it!) **
11. Complete resume writing video scripts (work) **
12. Reach $1000 of my Arctic Dip fundraising goal (work) **

13. Get half-way through a new writing project (average 1000 words per day) - In order to finish the project within the time frame I've allotted myself, the 1000-word/day average is imperative.

14. Purchase a new fitness tracker and begin working toward 10,000 steps per day - I sit too much. Period. Sitting is bad for my health. I know this. And though I should be able to remember to simply get up and move throughout the day, without a device to remind me and counting my steps, I don't. 

15. Complete all the Special Olympics paperwork and organizational tasks necessary to start practice on February 29 - I'm going to be coaching our local area Special Olympics Swim Team, which I'm crazy-excited about! There's a lot to be done this month in order to start practice on time, so it's a big goal!

There you have it. I actually reduced the number of books I want to read from three to two, as my writing project will take up quite a bit of time. I don't want to give myself so much to do that I set myself up to fail. The goal here is to actually reach the goals!

I'll update you on my February goal digging at the end of the month!


Wednesday, January 27, 2016

All By Myself...

I have never lived alone.

Never.

Not in my whole life.

I went from living with my parents to roommates to boyfriend/husband to child. And in less than 17 months, that child will graduate from high school, after which she will go off to college... leaving me...

Alone.

Well, alone plus a few fuzzy critters. But completely devoid of any human sharing my abode.

This freaks me out a little bit. I think it freaks the child out more, however. She simply cannot fathom the day when she no longer lives with me. And when her friends comment that they can't wait to leave home, she says, "Yeah, but I like my mom."

Aw.

I like her, too. I really do. I love living with her. Mostly because she cleans up after me.

Heh.

Not really. Well, OK, yes, really, but for other reasons, too. She's cool. She's interesting. She's funny. She can carry on a conversation about nearly anything for hours and hours.

And she cleans up after me.

Seriously. I finish a cup of tea, get up to go to the bathroom, come back, and the cup is in the dishwasher. I made her stop tidying my room because I couldn't find things ('put away' is confusing for me). If I could get her to clean the bathroom (ours and the cats'), she'd be pretty much perfect.

I'm cool with imperfect.

I'd be lying if I said I hadn't given any thought to what it will be like to live alone. I have. Part of me is pretty excited about it. Part of me is worried I'll turn into a lonely old spinster who never leaves the house and has more cats than is healthy.

Part of me is really worried about having to clean up after myself.

Seriously.

I figure I'll probably spend a fair amount of time stalking the child's Instagram and Twitter and Facebook and Pinterest (much like I do now). I'll likely binge-watch questionable television programs (but not Supernatural or Vampire Diaries [because I'll be all caught up by then, that's why]). I'm pretty sure I'll eat a lot of cereal for dinner.

But maybe, just maybe, I'll also make a list of fun, interesting, and cool things a middle-aged woman with an empty nest can do on her own... and then I'll actually do them.

Well, after I do the dishes.

Tea cups don't wash themselves, you know.





Monday, January 25, 2016

Heigh Ho, Heigh Ho

These snowy days have been lazy ones and instead of doing things on my to-do list, I've spent a fair amount of time in reflection (as I seem wont to do of late). A conversation with a friend the other night prompted thought about relationships or, in my case,

Lack thereof.

Since my divorce, I've gone out on a lot of dates (though none for quite a long time... much longer than I care to think about). I've had one long-ish relationship, but it was ages ago and it left a lot to be desired. Thankfully I learned some good stuff from it. Another, much shorter relationship caused significant heartbreak. It was the second time in my life I actually fell in love (the first was when I was quite young and it was not with my ex-husband [though I did love him]). Hindsight (and several years) proved that it all worked out for the best, but it didn't change the hurt - or the resulting scars.

Since then, I've met a few more men and I've been hurt (from mildly to miserably) a few times (and I hurt someone else, which left its own brand of scars on my heart and psyche).

Relationships are hard, yo.

I realized a while ago that my modus operandi is to fall for men who are unavailable. Their reasons for being unavailable vary and I make sure to cover them all - emotional, distance, marital status (though please note that I have never, nor would I ever, involve myself in another person's marriage. But I have certainly been attracted to [and kept it to myself] a married man or two).

I worked out that it's because it poses no risk. If a person isn't available - and I know it - then I can't really expect anything. I don't have to do the work because I already know it's not going to work out (or even, you know, start).

Knowhatimean?

Unfortunately, it doesn't mean that I don't get hurt. Or that I don't feel rejected.

And rejection?

Sucks, man. It really sucks.

And I finally worked out (much later than I should have) that rejection is my big issue. Fear of rejection, really.

And it's a whopping big issue.

I've learned a bit about it over these past few years. I've learned that it's not always about me. Very often, it's about where the other person is in his life. Sometimes, however, it is about me, and hearing that, in no uncertain terms, is kind of awful. But at least there's no wondering. Because when it comes to rejection, wondering is the hardest. 

What did I do wrong?

What should I have done?

Am I not pretty enough, smart enough, funny enough, sexy enough?

What is wrong with me?

Ugh. It's the worst. It makes you doubt everything you believe (everything you want to believe) about yourself. It negates all the wonderful things your friends tell you (they love you, so they have to say nice things, right?). It makes you imagine the worst about yourself.

Now, some people don't do that, I'm sure. Some people ooze self-confidence to the point that, even if it is about them, they don't care. 

His loss, baby! I'm fabulous. Just. As. I. Am.

Yeah. I'm not those people.

I wish I was. I really do. 

I'm confident in other areas of my life. I don't doubt myself when it comes to certain things. 

But not this one.

I'd like to say it goes back to my marriage. And that certainly had a bearing on it. A marriage - a good, healthy marriage - is supposed to give you feelings of safety, security, and surety of self, even when doubt creeps in. It should make you feel loved and accepted for who you are, warts and all (please note, however, that I don't have any warts). Mine did none of of that. And when it ended badly, with my husband rejecting me for someone else, all the doubts that had been festering deep inside came bubbling (in the way an erupting volcano bubbles) to the surface. 

So it did not help. That's for certain.

But the lack of self-confidence in this particular area goes way back (it's why, in part, anyway, I wound up in an unhealthy marriage to begin with). And though I don't want to go into those deep-seeded issues here, I have identified them and I'm working to heal those parts of myself damaged decades ago.

And I've finally put together that it all comes back to that whole self-love thing. 

(Does everything come back to that?)

If I love myself enough, rejection might sting a bit, but in the end, I'll believe it's his loss, baby. I'm fabulous. Just. As. I. Am. 

I don't need a relationship. Obviously. I've gone a long time without one and my life isn't lacking. It's not about feeling incomplete. But I like being part of a couple. I like sharing things - the good things and the bad things. I'd like to have someone to shoulder the burdens of Life with. I'd like to have someone to grow old with.

But in order to have a relationship like that, I have to get out there. And in order to get out there, I have to get over the fear of rejection. And in order to get over the fear of rejection, I have to build myself up. And in order to build myself up, I have to love and accept myself for who I am, right here, right now, as is. 

As is.

And I have to stop causing my own shadows.

Because I'm ready for some sunshine.


Basically, this was a very long way of saying that the self-love/acceptance work I figured out I need to do (and talked about in this post right here) is important for so very many reasons, not the least of which is making sure I'm staying open to love - and to being loved. 

So, heigh ho, heigh ho, it's off to work I go... 

I'll keep you posted. You know I will. 


Saturday, January 23, 2016

And Still, It Snows

They're calling it Snowmageddon and Snowpocalypse... I dunno about that, but we got (are still getting) a crap-ton of snow - over two feet it looks like, with drifts up to three or four. I couldn't get the back door open this morning and instead of steps leading from my porch to the yard, I had a snow-slide. I haven't found my car yet, though I'm reasonably certain it's still out there. My poor dog, who is quite large (picture a boxer or golden retriever), was in it up to his neck and hopping about like a big, spastic rabbit. Other than the occasional bout of shoveling (which I had to do in order for said dog to be able to go out to pee), I have remained in my pajamas, on the sofa, watching the snow fall from my cozy den. It's supposed to stop tonight and then the plowing and shoveling (for real) will begin tomorrow.

I am not looking forward to it.

At all.

But it's been nice, these past two days, to just lie about, doing very little, and not feeling even remotely guilty about it.

For the people who visit my blog from places around the world which don't see snow with any sort of accumulation or regularity, here are a couple of pictures...


This was the view from the den, about 30 minutes after it started. It stuck to the roads immediately. My kittens were pretty enamored of the snow. That's Rue watching intently.


This is the view from my front window this morning. That's the mailbox, to the left of my driveway. What driveway, you might ask. I'm wondering myself. I'm pretty sure it was there yesterday.


This is looking out the back porch door to my deck. That window? My bedroom. I wondered why it was so dark this morning. Also, the door? Yeah. Not opening until spring.


That's my little Pip(squeak). He was completely fascinated by the falling snow. He sat there and watched for hours. And you see the shrub outside the window (see the first picture for a clear view)? Well, the snow has done it in completely. It gave way from all the weight (much like my knees). Poor thing.


Here's Ryan, Sunny, and Pip, watching the snow this morning.


And this one wasn't taken today but it's one of my favorite ever snow pictures. It's Ryan when she was three. Living in North Carolina at the time, we saw little snow, so she had a ball during this trip to New Jersey, to see my aunt and her godfather (and for a side-trip into NYC to see Beauty and the Beast on Broadway).

If you got snow, I hope you stayed safe and warm. And if you didn't, feel free to come help me shovel!

Friday, January 22, 2016

She Believed

When I got home yesterday, there was a package waiting for me inside my back porch. I hadn't ordered anything, so I wondered what it could be. It turned out to be a bracelet... a thin black leather band attached to a slender silver bar, engraved with the words she believed she could, so she did.

She believed she could, so she did.

The bracelet turned out to be a gift from the Red-haired Bestie, who always, always believes I can, even when I don't believe myself.

Everyone needs a friend (or 10) like that - a friend who stands behind you shouting, "You can do this," especially when you don't believe it yourself.

I'm one of the lucky ones. I have several friends, in addition to the Red-haired Bestie, who do that - who believe in me, and for me, even when (especially when) I'm struggling.

There have been lots of things in my life I haven't been sure I could do. There have been lots of things I haven't been able to do. There are lots of things I don't know that I'll be able to do.

But here's what I do know:

When you have people who love you, people who stand behind you, people who walk alongside you, people who believe in you...

You owe it to those people - and to yourself - to believe you can. 

And to do the things.


Thursday, January 21, 2016

We're All In the Same Boat...

Cancer is a great leveler, I've discovered.

I mean, I knew it, I guess. We all know it, don't we? We know that cancer doesn't discriminate. It attacks young and old, black and white, Republican and Democrat, rich and poor, Christian and Atheist.

Cancer doesn't give a shit.

But you know who does give a shit?

The people cancer affects... the people whose cells it infects... the people it hits like a ton of bricks, knocking them off their feet, winded and stunned, daring them to get up and fight.

And the people who love those people.

And the people who help all of those people get through it.

Yesterday I was at the cancer center, waiting for them to call me for my appointment. A tall, elegantly dressed woman walked in. She was wearing an expensive cashmere coat and beautiful powder blue leather gloves, and she carried a bag that I'm pretty sure cost more than my first car. She was, as my friend Mel would say, a fancy lady. And I could tell right away she was a newbie. She had that shell-shocked look of one who doesn't quite believe she has to be there and who doesn't yet know the protocol.

I wore that look for quite a while.

And she was all alone. I know many people have trouble with that, with even the idea of someone being alone in the cancer center, but I also know that I went to (and wanted to go to... and still go to) most of my appointments by myself.

Some things are hard to share, man.

After she checked in and got her bracelet, she sat down across from me in the waiting area. I smiled at her and she nodded. Her expression made me swallow hard and blink back tears. It was so... pained.

I remembered my first few visits to the cancer center. I couldn't even make eye contact with anyone. I couldn't speak. I fought back tears from the moment I walked through the door until the moment I left.

I hated it.

I still hate it.

But it's gotten easier.

You can get used to just about anything, can't you?

Anyway, she sat there, still, waiting, looking straight ahead, tears welling.

My heart hurt for her. Part of me wanted to offer up some words or a gesture of encouragement, but I didn't. I didn't move. I didn't say or do anything. I'm not sure why. Maybe because I would have been uncomfortable had a stranger talked to me during my first few visits... I would have burst into tears and I would have hated that.

That's what I told myself anyway.

Then, the woman sitting to my left got up. She was about the same age as the new lady - older than me by about a decade, I'd say. She was bald under her knitted cap (not a strange sight in that environment, certainly) and she stooped when she shuffled across the floor. She was wearing an old sweatshirt, tattered at the cuffs, stained sweatpants, and ratty sneakers, and when she smiled at me, I could see gaps where teeth had once been.

She was not a fancy lady.

But she sat right down next to the lady with the cashmere coat and the expensive bag, she took her beautifully manicured right hand into both of her own gnarled, work-worn ones, and she said softly (but with great surety), "It's OK, honey. You ain't alone here."

And the fancy lady looked at her for a long moment, and then, as tears streamed down her face, she hugged that not-fancy lady hard.

And I had to clear my throat and look away.

Those ladies taught me a couple of lessons yesterday.

I learned that sometimes it's not enough to give a shit. 

I learned that sometimes you have to show it. 

And I learned that cancer really and truly is a great leveler.

Tuesday, January 19, 2016

Loop De Loop

Isn't it funny how, when you think about your life and how you expect it to go, it pretty much follows a straight line... but in reality, it has more twists and turns than...


This.

And you think you're going to breeze through it all, happy and fulfilled, experiencing only minor set-backs, spreading laughter and light, zit-free and skinny, wearing your big girl pants and your brightest smile... but in reality, you look (and feel) more like... 


This.

Life is hard, yo. 

But as they say... 

It's better than the alternative.

Sunday, January 17, 2016

The Board Called: "Other Stuff I Like"

Do you have a Pinterest account? Do you love it? I lurve Pinterest. I really do. I'm a very visual person and I find that little piece of Heaven-on-the-Internet, well, a little piece of Heaven. On the Internet. I love being able to go to one place and see hundreds (OK, thousands) of pictures of things I like, things I find beautiful, things that inspire me, things that make me laugh, things that are useful. I also love being able to look at my kid's Pinterest boards, to see what she finds beautiful, inspirational, funny, useful. It's a glimpse into her head that always leaves me feeling happy and proud of the person she is and of the way she views the world.

I have just over 40 boards. They cover every topic that interests me, from travel, to decorating, to books, to art, to pretty boys (what? I'm 50, I'm not dead). My biggest board is House Plans. When I was a kid, I wanted to be an architect. Then I found out math was involved and I gave up on that idea fast. But I'm fascinated by floor plans, especially those of mid-century and older houses. I always (always) change them, though; I add rooms, take down walls, move doorways, etc. It's my go-to activity when I'm bored or worried. And you want to know something weird? One of my favorite house styles is the bungalow and one of my favorite building eras is the 1920's. Well, just over a year ago, I moved into a 1928 bungalow, the (nearly identical) floor plan for which I had pinned many, many times. I didn't even realize it, though, until I was looking over my board one day and saw the same basic house - my house - in several different plans. Cool sort of coinkeydink, no?

Anyway, though my boards cover every possible topic, I still found pictures of things on Pinterest that didn't really fit into any of my major categories. So I started a board called "Other Stuff I Like." I throw all kinds of stuff into it - stuff that doesn't really belong anywhere else in my account. Today, I decided to go through that board and pick 10 random items to share here. I went to the very first pin, then scrolled with my eyes closed. The first image I saw when I opened my eyes was the one I chose. 

Here they are... 


This is the first image I pinned to the Other Stuff board. It makes me happy - from the composition of the picture, to sight of such exuberance, to the puddle-jump itself. Happy!


I don't really know what this is... a geode or rock, maybe? I just think it's really beautiful.


Camping. One of my favorite activities. This picture actually looks like a place I've camped.


This series of pictures made me laugh. They are the cutest couple and you don't often see such spontaneity in old photos. Happy!


When Ryan was very small, she was coloring and she noticed that the 'flesh' crayon didn't look much like her flesh. She asked me why there was only one called 'flesh' where there were lots of different kinds of skin. I had no good answer. So this picture made me happy.


Oh my word, I love this little guy. I have a thing for sheep and for little felted animals. He makes me smile. He's actually sold on Etsy, in a shop called BinneBear, which you can find right here, if you're so inclined to look (I was inclined to look... and I wanted All. The. Critters.).



I love this photo for its simplicity, for the color of the eggs (my favorite), and for the way it represents home. It's just lovely.


Riddikulus is the spell from Harry Potter, used to transform fears into something humorous. It's a spell I often wish I could perform. Plus, that's where I have my tattoo, though mine says something different. Maybe this will be my second tattoo... hmmm...



I think I pinned this because I simply liked this picture - the blue sky, the white clouds, the fresh, clean laundry. It's simple and sweet and it makes me smile.


When I pinned this, I thought it was simply a very cool, painted rock. I have to say that upon closer inspection, I find it a tad creepy. However, I keep a square glass vase on my desk, full of rocks from Maine and they look just like these (minus the moon-faced one).

There are over 500 more pictures of other stuff I like on that board. I'm sure I'll share some others on another gloomy, grey Sunday.

So, what would be on your "Other Stuff I Like" board?

Saturday, January 16, 2016

Wordsmith

I am a lover of words.

It's why I use so many of them.

Heh.

But really, I am. And I love, love, love it when they are strung together to make beautiful sentences - descriptions and rhymes, thoughts and ideas articulated in lyrical prose, straightforward, kick-me-in-the-gut, perfect representations of what I feel, want, need.

I seek out those words, all strung together in those ways, and I hoard them. I tuck them away for when I need them - when my heart and head are aching or when I'm searching for a way to pull together all the ragged, jagged pieces of me that need stitching up into something whole and solid.

But today?

Well, today I'm going to share some of my favorite words, all strung together in those beautiful ways, with you! And I hope you enjoy them as much as I do...

               

j






And last, one I sent to a friend today... 



These are but a sampling... there are so many more but there is neither time nor space to include them all. 

What words do you love, my peeps?

Friday, January 15, 2016

I Love You... er... Me

The other day, a friend asked me why it's so hard for us to love ourselves. She had just posted gorgeous family photos and commented that she didn't look good in them. I thought she looked beautiful - so happy and simply in love with her boys. She zeroed in on a physical feature she is bothered by - one I hadn't even noticed. I understood, though. When I see a photo of myself, I hone in on the things about myself I don't like. They bother me. A lot. So much so that I avoid the camera at all costs.

I hate that I feel that way.

So does she.

Hence the question...

Why is it so hard for us to just love ourselves?

My initial response was, I dunno. But I think I do know. 

We have forgotten how. 

I think we're all born with the ability. It's inherent. I think when we're very small, if we're well-loved and encouraged and praised, we do love ourselves. The mirror means little because we see ourselves in the eyes and faces and hearts of those who love us. 

But then we get older. And we're no longer constantly surrounded by unconditional love. We mingle with people who criticize and point out our flaws. We meet those who work hard to build themselves up by tearing others down. We are bombarded by images and ideas of societal ideals - unattainable ideals. We start to see ourselves through the eyes of the world. And it starts early.

And the loving gets harder.  

And sometimes? 

We forget entirely how to do it.

I have often been told that I'm my own worst enemy. I know it's true. It's only been recently that I've been able to receive a compliment with a simple thank you, rather than a thank you, but you must be blind/crazy/out of your mind/etc. And though I am learning to accept compliments, I haven't yet learned how to believe them. Well, many of them, anyway. 

Now, don't get me wrong (or think I need committing. Yet). I don't hate myself. I don't wish I wasn't here. I don't think the world would be better off without me. I'm good at some things and I know it. I can name them. I feel good about them. But one thing I'm definitely not good at is loving myself - accepting myself, unconditionally -  

for who I am 
and what I am 
and what I'm not 
and what I look like 
and for all my faults 
and flaws 
and failures.

I have forgotten how to love myself

And no one ever taught me - reminded me - how to do it, I think, because they had forgotten how themselves. The example wasn't set for me. And I am so bloody terrified that my own child is well on her way to forgetting, and that I'm not teaching her - reminding her - or setting the example for her.

But I want to know how - to remember how - to do it. I want it desperately. I want the serenity and the peace that comes with knowing and trusting and accepting and loving yourself. 

So, I'm setting out on a quest... 

The Quest of Learning to Love Myself
(subtitled: The Quest of Learning to Accept Myself, Unconditionally, For Who I Am and What I Am and What I'm Not and What I Look Like and For All My Faults and Flaws and Failures)

I think I've been taking baby steps toward it for a while. And I think I'm making progress. But it's very slow. At the rate I'm going, I should figure out how to love myself by the time I die... if I die at 102. And call me crazy, but I don't think I should have to wait so long. 

So I'm going to actively work on this. I have a hazy sort of plan in mind... well, OK, it's not so much a plan as it is pretty much no idea. But I know what I want... and that's half the battle, right?

Off I go, then. 

If you need me, I'll be... questing