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

Wednesday, December 31, 2014

What a Difference a Year Can Make...

I just re-read last year's New Year's Eve post. Though it ended somewhat optimistically, it wasn't a happy one. The post, I mean. Or the year, really. But I rang in 2014 determined (if a little doubtful) that it would be better than 2013.

Tonight, as 2014 departs and 2015 begins, I'm sitting on my comfy sofa, in my new living room, in front of a warm fire, a glass of wine on the table, a sweet kitten asleep at my hip, and my wonderful doggy snoring at my feet. My girl is out with friends (friends I adore), enjoying 'First Night' festivities downtown. I left work this afternoon, for four days off, excited at the prospect of returning to new projects next week.

All is right with the world.

Well, OK, a lot is right with the world. With my world. Some of it's still craptastic, it's true, but there's a lot more right than there was last year!

What a difference a year can make!

This year coming -- 2015 -- is the year I turn 50. Fifty. Five - OhMyGodHowDidThatHappen?! I haven't worked out exactly how I feel about it, to be honest. I've been saying, "I'm nearly 50" for most of the past year, so sometimes I forget that I'm actually still 49. But I am. I'm still in my 40's. For six more weeks.

Six more weeks.


The last decade has been hard, yo. I learned a lot. I fell flat on my face more times than I can count... but I got up. Every time.

And still I rise.

Although I don't know what the next decade -- or the next year, for that matter (or, hell, tomorrow!)-- will bring, my plan is to jump into it with both feet. This is the decade I plan to be -- the decade I will be -- unapologetically Diane. Unapologetically Me.

(I should note here that the apologizing I feel the need to do is not to other people... very few people have ever asked or expected [or maybe just plain wanted] me to apologize for who I am. And I didn't/haven't done it [and won't] for those few, anyway. No, the apologizing I do is to myself... for my failures, my shortcomings, my inadequacies, my weight, my procrastinating nature... for every single way I don't measure up in the ways I think I should.)

I made a decision yesterday... I decided to stop coloring my hair. This might seem like a little thing to lots of people but it's not to me. I decided to go blonde after my divorce... it was a declaration of sorts... a way to say, "I'm not the same person I was!" And I got attached to the blonde. Really attached. But it doesn't feel so much like Me anymore. However, I'm reasonably certain my hair is mostly grey now. And grey hair makes me think... you know... old. And I don't want to look... old. And I don't want to feel... old.

But you know what? I asked my friends, by way of Facebook, what they thought about just going grey. Though there were a few who said they were going to continue to battle Mother Nature on this front (which I totally, completely, 100% get!), more of them said they had done it (or are in the process of doing it) and they've never been happier! Turns out, it's kind of freeing! Who knew?

So it's the first step I'm taking toward being unapologetically me. Toward being authentically me. To being a freer me.

(And if I hate it, there's always L'OrĂ©al, right? Right.)

Anyway, I've got some plans for 2015. I've got some goals. I've got some stuff I want to do. There's a whole flippin' list in the works. But mostly? I want this to be the year I bloom... the year I can finally look in the mirror, see my perfect imperfections, and say, "Hey, you! You are fine, just the way you are!" I plan to do it -- I do! Even if I don't believe it at first.

At first.

My biggest goal for 2015 is to end the year believing it.

Won't that be something?

I can hardly imagine it.

But, hey... you know what I always say...

What a difference a year can make!

So... Happy New Year, my peeps! I hope 2015 is your best year yet, full of wonder and happy surprises and a million ways for you to be your amazing, authentic, unapologetic, blooming selves! XOXO

Monday, December 29, 2014

The Gift is in the Giving

I like to think of myself as a giving person... a generous person. It's true, I don't have much in the way of material things to give; gift-giving (in the traditional sense - i.e. presents all wrapped up in ribbons and bows) doesn't happen often these days. And I can no longer give much to the charities I have supported in the past, so when I can, I try to do for them by way of fundraising (though even that has fallen by the wayside in the recent past). But I try. I try to give my time, my support, my shoulder, or my ear whenever I can. That counts. Right? I always feel like my heart is in the right place. Even when I can't, I want to.

Even when I can't, I want to.

That counts.


Maybe it does. Maybe it doesn't. I don't know. Regardless, I try to keep my heart in that place. I try to keep it open and non-judgmental. I try. I fail. But I try. I try to keep my spirit generous when my wallet can't be. I try. And since I believe you should give without expectation, I try to do that, too.

I try.

I fail.

Now, I don't mean that when I give a material gift, I expect one in return. I don't. There have certainly been times in my life, however, when I was younger and much more selfish than I am today, when I did. That expectation also resulted in my need to reciprocate for every gift I was given. But the last few years have humbled me. I have had to realize, having been on the receiving end of gifts I cannot possibly repay, that sometimes people give simply because a need is there... because their hearts are big... because they simply want to and because they can. Receiving gifts has always been hard for me. Very hard. But I am learning. I am learning to receive them, in whatever form they materialize, and simply say, "Thank you." It's hard. It's so hard. But I have had to accept that the people who have given to me don't expect anything in return.

And I have loved them for it.

That sort of giver is the person I want to be. The person I strive to be.

I fail.

Tonight, I got a lesson in giving. A lesson I needed...

I took a client out for dinner, to a fast food place (her choice). At the door of the restaurant was parked a shopping cart, filled with an old man's earthly possessions. The old man to whom the cart belonged was seated on the other side of the window, bent over the small table, a tattered old jacket pulled up over his head. There was no food on the table. There were no wrappers or a cup to indicate he'd just eaten. And his hands were shaking.

Standing there at the door, my heart sank. I knew his presence would ruin my dinner. That sounds horrible, I know, but I don't mean it the way it sounds. I knew it would ruin my dinner because he would weigh on my heart and mind; I would worry about him (long after I left the restaurant); I would want to make everything better, knowing full-well I couldn't.

When I got to the register to order, I asked the cashier if he had ordered any food when he came in. She told me he hadn't. She said that one of the managers usually feeds him but she wasn't there tonight. "So, if she's not here, he doesn't eat?" She nodded. I asked if she knew what he normally ate and she told me. I ordered it and a cheeseburger for myself.

While I waited for the food, I noticed a young woman speaking to him. I didn't know what the conversation was about, but I assumed she was asking if he needed anything. Just as I arrived at my table, she was walking toward me, so I stopped her, wanting her to know that if she was going to get him food, I had already done it. She told me she was talking to him about going to a shelter and she asked if I knew of any other than the program run by the local churches. Then she said he told her that he'd already eaten and he declined the food she offered to buy him.

I went to him anyway.

I said, "I wasn't sure if you'd already eaten," and he put up his hand to stop me. "I just ate," he replied loudly and then, "Oh. Is that a baked potato with chili on it? Well, if you're giving it up..." I smiled and told him it was all his, put it down in front of him, and went back to my table. I realized I'd forgotten to give him the straw I picked up to go with his water and by the time I got back to his table, half the potato was gone. He didn't say a word when I dropped the straw in front of him and I went on back to my table.

I felt pretty good, I have to say. It was clear he was hungry and I'd done something tangible to meet that need.

Yay, me!

Then I heard him complain to the girl cleaning the tables that she'd squirted the cleaning solution too close to him and now it was in his eyes. He went on, groaning about how she should be more careful.

And my good feelings turned into 'well-how-do-you-like-that' feelings. Old grump.

Then he got up, walked right past me without saying a word, and spoke to someone in line, suddenly all cheerful.

And I thought, Hmph! He's all nice to them but he can't even say thank you to me? I bought him dinner! Hmph!

Old grump! (Me this time, not him.)

And as I watched him engage with the couple in line, just chatting cheerfully -- a completely different person from the shaky, hiding old man I'd seen through the window 20 minutes earlier -- and there I sat feeling all snubbed and put out, I suddenly felt the proverbial smack upside my head.

How dare I? How dare I be offended that I didn't get a thank you! Is that why I bought him dinner? Because I wanted validation? Because I wanted to feel good? Yes? No? Which is it, Diane?

How dare I?

This man has nothing. Nothing. He is old and twisted. His every belonging fits into a shopping cart. He has no home and he depends on the kindness of a fast food manager for an occasional meal. He is proud enough to turn down the offer of a meal when he is clearly hungry. He has nothing.


And I dare to be offended because he didn't utter a thank you when he accepted something I offered? Something I should have offered with no expectation of anything in return? I dare to judge him? For his manners?

I sat there, ashamed of myself, imagining what I'd say to Ryan if she had behaved the way I just had, if she had articulated the thoughts I was thinking. When you give, you do so without expectation. The gift to yourself is in the giving... in the ability to give... in the desire to give. It is never, ever to receive a thank you or anything else in return. Always remember that.

And as the old man passed by my table again, he stopped. He touched me on the arm and said, "I want you to know, a baked potato with chili is in the only thing I would have wanted to eat tonight. The only thing."

And he went back to his table.

And with that, I had my (much appreciated) thank you.

But I learned my lesson.

That is true generosity. That is love. That is what the world needs more of.

And that is exactly what I shall try to do more of, consciously, in every area of my life.

Wednesday, December 24, 2014

Word Up

At the end of last year, I did a blog post about choosing a Word of the Year. (It's right here if you'd like to read it.) It's a neat little practice whereby you choose a word to focus on all year... the idea being that you will bring into reality just that -- what you focus on. Last year, my word was light. The end of 2013 didn't feel good... it felt dark and heavy on my soul and my psyche -- and even on my physical being. I longed for lightness -- around me, in me, from me. 

Now, I'll be honest here... there were many times last year when I not only forgot my word, I forgot I even had a word. You know how it is... things like this word of the year hoo-ha are, in theory, all lovely and sweet, and they have this sort of spiritual, ethereal feel to them. Right? But Life? Well, Life is not always (usually?) all lovely and sweet and spiritual and ethereal. It's hard and dirty and frustrating and messy. It might do us well to remember the lovely and sweet in the difficult, messy times but... meh... we forget. I do, anyway. 

Regardless of my forgetting, my desire -- my need -- for light and lightness must have been so strong last year that I focused on it unconsciously. And lo and behold, it happened! Life got lighter in so many ways! My work environment, my work itself, my home environment, and my attitude toward myself lightened up dramatically. It was as though someone (I?) pulled the heavy drapes back, cleaned the dirty windows, and let the glorious sunshine in!

So I'm going into 2015 with a lighter heart (yay!) and that has prompted me to think about my new Word of the Year. Like last year, I pondered for a while... and like last year, my word chose me... 

One of my favorite quotes is by Anais Nin:

I said last year that I felt I was on the verge of some big change, though I didn't know at the time what it was. And things did change... both in small, subtle ways and in big, in-my-face ways. And I think all of the changes were good... I think they were. To accept most of them, I had to open myself up -- something I'd once been pretty good at but had, in recent years, seemingly forgotten how to do. I spent much time turned inward, curled up tight, fending off the blows it seemed Life was throwing at me right and left. It felt (it felt) that in order to provide the sort of environment that made it safe for my child to blossom and bloom, I had to remain in fight-mode, defensive, the protector.

I don't know if that was the best thing... or the right thing... but I do know that she has blossomed into a brilliant, creative, beautiful soul, and I have no reason to believe she won't continue on that path. As for me, well, one cannot remain defensive for long periods. This I know. It does damage. It hurts. And though the idea of opening up and allowing oneself to bloom is hard, not doing so is harder. I feel like I spent last year planting seeds within myself -- in my heart and my head. I've watered them... I've turned them toward the sunshine... and now it's time... 

And bloom is what I shall try to do.

What's your word going to be, my peeps?

Monday, December 22, 2014

Here. Now. Home.

The last few months have been a bit insane... a new (and wonderful) job and moving to a new house have taken up much of my time of late. Oh, and doing that whole single mom thing to an active teenager, too. Natch. Busy is, really, a perpetual state, though (for most of us, I suspect)... sometimes it's good... sometimes it's not so good. This latest busy has been good that hasn't always felt good. Does that make sense? It boils down to this:

Moving sucks.

It really does. It really, really does. I swear to all that is holy, I'd rather move across the country than move across town. When you move across town, you think, 'Oh, no big deal... I'll move a little here and a little there.' For the record? 'A'little here' and 'a little there' is STUPID. And AWFUL. And STUPID. And it takes 100 times longer than it would if you did it one fell swoop.

But the end result? The end result is worth it. Well, it will be. We're nearly there. And it's only taken two months. Two long, exhausting, body-breaking, patience-testing months.

We moved into the cutest little bungalow, built in 1928, with loads of charm and 'quirks' (that we hope will remain charming and not turn into annoyances after a few months)... it has hardwood floors and built in bookshelves and a fireplace and old-fashioned radiators and a big yard and it's three blocks from the park, on top of a busy hill, and, and, and, OH, and it has absolutely the sweetest front door you've ever seen!

Am I right? I'm right, I know. My friend Anne says it looks like a hobbit door. We're going to paint the outside of it a sunny yellow. Because I've always wanted a yellow door, that's why. We'll wait 'til spring to do that, though. Because all we have done for the past two months is paint, and I'm sick of painting. We have painted. And painted. And painted some more.

Did I mention that we painted? We did. Every room in the house. They were all awful shades Sludge and Pea Soup. I have honestly wondered if the people who lived here before weren't blind. It was dark and dingy and depressing and just plain ugly. But not anymore! We went with happy, happy colors in all the rooms! And, thankfully, Ryan has proved to be a pretty good painter. And she has friends who actually like to paint (or they like her enough to pretend), so they were a big help. But still, it felt like we were never going to finish. All that's left, as of today, is the fireplace surround (which is a muddy shade of brown currently and will be, in the next week or so, a lovely shade of cream).

It's a happy house. It was long-awaited and much-wanted and it felt like it was never going to happen. My girl is beside herself happy -- so much so that the fact that she's getting very little for Christmas hasn't fazed her in the least. I'm happy, too. I'm broke (anyone who says that "paint is a cheap way to change a room" hasn't painted seven rooms all at once!), but I'm happy.

I have often said (right here, in fact) that in my entire adult life, I've never felt that I've had a home. I've always felt displaced, or out-of-place, or temporarily in-place. And honestly, I can't say that this is any different. While this house feels good and happy, I know it's not a forever home. And for the first time in a long time, that feels OK to me. I don't feel that I'm missing something.

And that?

Is big.

I've decided that 'home' simply has to be where I am... where I feel good... where I feel warm and welcome and where I can be myself. And for right now, that's here -- right here with my girl and my fuzzy boy and the newest fuzzy addition to our family (a little girl baby-cat, named Rue).

So I'm going to give this little cottage on top of the hill a name:

Seo a-nis

It's Scottish-Gaelic (you pronounce it 'shaw a-neesh') and it means 'here, now.'

I like it. It works. This is where I am.