Thursday, January 22, 2015

Asking to be loved

I'm not sure how I made it out of childhood still believing in God, given my rampant doubts and questions of adulthood.

On the one hand, it makes perfect sense. I had an entirely loving family and very supportive and fun youth mentors at the churches we attended. Why wouldn't I believe something that was discussed and practiced in such great environments?

On the other hand, growing up wasn't simple. Of course it isn't simple for most people, but I had a lot of hurdles. Hurdles that I'm still processing years later. My family moved every 2-5 years. I was an overthinker. I was the new kid. I was sensitive. I felt a strong calling to be weird and be proud about it, making me an outsider yet sometimes accepted and applauded for my "bravery."

Believing that a God loved me could have been really hard. It's the age old question: if He loved me, then why do I feel so bad? Why do I have struggles? Especially if I was trying to be on His side?

But maybe it was comforting enough that it was made easier to believe in something so lovely. God loving me. Ahhh. Sit back and enjoy. Be a weirdo. Be loved. Be loved by an invisible man in the sky.

Today I find it hard to believe that a guy who died a long time ago is alive and loving me. It's weird to think about. It doesn't make intuitive sense with what we have before us and can see and feel.

Yet I wonder where all those things -- plants that grow, people that look in each other's eyes -- and feelings come from. I don't think they're an accident. I think it's a cruel thought to just imagine we're pawns in a game. This is not Jumanji. It's something bigger.

So then I swing back to the believing end of the spectrum.

And back to thinking it's all so very weird.

All at once, often.

My pastor, Rankin, says something very often to us at church. It's along the lines of: God's love for us is not dependent on our understanding of it.

I was sitting on my porch several months ago, on a Saturday morning I believe, and I was feeling guilty and the day hadn't even started. I had a lot of things I could do, should do, what to do?? I wondered if what I was doing was selfish, if it was serving God, serving others.

I had discovered some months before that my porch was a nice place to sit and quiet the F down. The most I would take out there was a beer, or a cup of tea. Maybe a blanket. And I would just sit. No reading, no talking on the phone (I of course engage in these activities on my porch on occasion, but not when it's quiet time).

So on this morning a while back I went to the porch.

And while I was out there I started thinking/praying that I would just feel loved. Loved by God. And eventually I went back inside.

And I could be misremembering, but I think I had an OK day after that. I know at the very least that my guilt dissipated. I was able to breathe again, and move, and make a decision and not feel badly about it.

I'm not always sure about this prayer thing, and whether anyone is listening, and what's the point if we're not guaranteed to get what we ask for.

But I do know that it feels good to say Thank you. And I know that I pray for some weird stuff sometimes, and I often feel better when I do.

This past fall my cat was having some bowel issues, and it was costing me money, causing him to shed, causing me to worry. We were at the vet way more often than we wanted to be, even if Mr. Office Max was greeted with love at the check in desk, because he's so lovey dovey and wonderful.

He was having persistent diarrhea, and we had tried one drug ($) and then moved on to another ($$). I would brace myself every time he moved his way into the litter box.

And when, one night, he didn't have diarrhea, I found myself with a huge grin on my face, thanking God that my kitten was OK.

See? Sometimes we pray about weird things.

But it feels good.

It's weird to believe in this stuff. And I feel like a fraud 95 percent of the time.

But I think I might sit on my porch tonight, with a blanket for sure, tea maybe, to quiet down. And ask that I feel loved. Because a lot of the time I don't know what else to ask for. But I think that there might be Someone to ask my questions of. And to say Thank you. For the people in my life. The cat. The love and the sunshine. The rest, the nourishment, the...

Tchaikovsky

There is a term I rarely utter. In fact, until, well, maybe last night, I never have. I don't even like to encourage it being uttered by others when talking with my writer friends.

(That makes it sound like I have a posse of writer friends. Uh, I don't. But I do know several writers, here and there and everywhere in this screenwriting city.)

(Anyway.)
The term is this: Writer's Block.

Ugh.

So cliche. So negative. So...so.

Yick.

I feel that it's like giving up.

Not that I'm not a quitter. Another discussion for another time.

I was with my friends Stephen and Sonya last night, catching up on life, and this term that I hate came up. And I admit, I brought it up, I dared to utter the words without prompting.

We were having a lovely time, Sonya scuttling about, setting the atmosphere for our bonding time. In her search for the key to the fireplace, she suddenly said, "Ooh! Candle!" and grabbed a little scented thing off the mantel (I thought it smelled like cinnamon rolls, Stephen would comment that it smelled like the perfume in cat litter -- who's more romantic between the two of us?) and placed it in the middle of our living room dining table, where our Trader Joe's microwave meals and cabernet sauvingnon awaited us.

Sonya turned on the CD player (still using CDs, my people) to see what Stephen had been listening to, and some booming classical stuff filled the room. "Oh, we're going to have to make a change," Sonya said, and put on some Latin somethingrather that had each of us instantly dancing in place.

So there we were, catching up on life, cats popping in and out of my lap, cat litter scent wafting in the air, and Stephen just had to go and ask about my writing.

He's a writer himself, so I couldn't just give him a surface answer. We writers are on to each other. It's the good and bad news of our coexistence.

So I decided, skirting around the term, justifying why I was using the term, to finally just go ahead and utter the term itself. I admitted I was having some writer's block.

We talked about some theories -- I'm super hyper happy these days, and distracted, and busy. We talked about how maybe when I've been in darker times that perhaps my concentration for overanalytical writing was better. This is sad, but maybe true. (As a writer and a human, I urge you to heal the pain in your life rather than hold on to it for the sake of being a better writer. I don't know that I'm a "worse" writer right now, I'm just in a season of distraction).

And then Stephen, with enthusiastic urgency (this sums him up in many ways), disappeared to get books about Tchaikovsky, promising to return.

He came back, with two books about or by Tchaikovsky, and a plaque that read, "Be Tchaikovsky."

He then proceeded to read to me about the importance of just working, working, working, even if what you are producing is crap. Just. Keep. Going. Tchaikovsky apparently abided by this theory, that his composition masterpieces were not the result of genius but rather of sitting his ass in a chair and continuing to slog through terrible music he was writing.

So Stephen encouraged me to write about my writer's (block) and to let that be my next topic.

So here you have it.

I'm struggling, world. I feel like my writing is whiny and hyper and here and there and not deep enough and blah blah blah!

I don't wish to be depressed again, no thank you. I wish my thoughts and feelings would quit rattling around like a child with candy (or an adult Bailey with coffee) and settle down already onto the page in a nice essay.

I wish I knew what my book would look like. Well, if I knew exactly what it will look like, then that would make the process of writing it pretty tear-your-eyelashes-out dry. But you know what I mean. Maybe you don't. Maybe I should write about it so you know how I imagine that would feel.

I want to write a memoir, or a series of chronological-ish, or at least themed, essays. I want them to tell my story of mental health struggles and victories. Of learning through growing. Of my spiritual doubts and fears. Of what keeps bringing me back to church, and the Bible, and Jesus. Of how I beat up on myself.

I go back and forth wondering whether I should write a book from a mental health framework, and let the faith stuff sift in, or vice versa. Or if I should just tell my story, start to finish, and then let everything else fall in the crevices. Because there's no way to tell my story without telling of the heart-racing, cold-sweat, terrified moments. The moments of doubting everything I'd believed for years before. The moments of anxiety so heavy I couldn't eat. The depression that made me fear my life would end prematurely. The medication that got me past that fear for my future.

It will all end up in the story.

And I'll edit out the crap that doesn't need to be there.

But first I must stack the pages.

I must write garbage.

I must admit to my friends that what I am writing is garbage.

I must sit dutifully, humbly, quietly, while my friend reads to me about Tchaikovsky.

I must patiently wait out my hyper moments, trying my best to put words to a page while my body and brain just buzzzzzzzz.

I must write garbage. And wait for the gems to rise above the trash heap.

When I tell people I want to write memoirs, they either say "Interesting!" or they look at me sideways. "Don't you have to live a little longer?" they ask.

I wonder sometimes if they're right. Maybe I'm not old enough. But maybe that's just an easy excuse to grab. A ticket out of writing my daily garbage/maybe not garbage.

I think I just need to be a whiny, hyper, young chit chatter. Moving words around on a page, thinking and overthinking and overthinking some more. Not worrying about whether people are reading it. Not worrying about if I even put it out there for people to read. I need to quit wondering when I'll hit Ann Patchett level of fame, or Anne Lamott's level of camaraderie in the faith community.

I need to just be me. With a keyboard. Writing. And hoping the readers will be patient, and appreciative.

Loves.

Wednesday, January 21, 2015

Why I can’t give up coffee (but probably could)

A couple of years ago, I was meeting a business contact for lunch, and in our conversation I mentioned that I drink coffee more for the psychological aspects of it than the actual physical jumpstart.

“You don’t seem like you need coffee,” he said, not missing a beat.
Because I don’t. You’ve read this blog. If you’ve met me, then you know even further. My mind races, my mouth races, my feet can race on a treadmill and I can still struggle with insomnia.

Or, if I’m sleeping just fine – I can pretty much always welcome more rest come morning, hence the beauty and comfort of coffee – then when I get up I hit the ground running.

Even after nights of no or little sleep, I’ve been able to keep my mind and body racing at quite a clip.

Sigh.

Maybe I don’t need coffee.

If I’m being honest (and let’s keep this on the down low), I don’t really love coffee the way I used to. The taste doesn’t satisfy the way it once did. I used to be clearly a black, dark roast girl, now I try and mix it up – blonde roast, cream – to see if my mouth will respond with new fervor. Alas, not usually.

Yesterday morning I woke up and I want/needed coffee. I had gone on a seven mile hike the day before, had two (light) beers when I was done, and crashed. I woke up after a holiday weekend (so, essentially like waking up on a Monday after having extra time off) and was heading straight into a meeting. I even had to run an errand on the way to the meeting, to get bagels.

I want/needed coffee.

And the coffee helped. It snapped my brain out of the fog. It made me think I was a nicer person to deal with.

Right now I’m having an after-lunch cup. I enjoyed the bonding with my coworker to make it. I feel somewhat safe with it by my side.

Would I actually fall asleep at my desk without it? No. But it’s nice to have it there.

Do I wish, rather, that there was something else to snap me out of this post-lunch fatigue? Absolutely.

Because the reality is, while I wouldn’t fall asleep without the coffee, the coffee isn’t going to make me feel fully awake.

What made me feel best was when we were in the break room making the coffee. Why? Because I was on my feet.

I think I’m more physically active than I realize.

Years ago, when I started working at Starbucks, I feared that being on my feet all the time would make me so tired, with no energy left after a shift.

Not true at all.

The first week my feet and back hurt more than normal, sure, but I was an avid runner throughout my time at the ‘Bucks. In fact, after working my early morning shifts, I would make myself sit down before heading out for a four or five mile run simply because I thought it was a good idea to take a break.

So should I sign up for a construction job? Probably not. I like writing too much. I like sitting in front of a computer too much.

I just wish I had more control of when and how often I could get up. I’d more happily get up midday to work out and then sit down, sweaty, sans coffee, to get some work done, than to have a five minute break to make coffee and then sit back down in a stupor, only somewhat masking my lethargy.

Then there’s the teeth conundrum. My teeth are gross yellow. I’d like that to not be the case. I could drink tea. But tea tastes different. I welcome, with loving arms, tea, when I’m sick, or with the right kind of friend, when it’s rainy, etc. Sometimes tea cuts it where coffee can’t. But most of the time I find the opposite to be true.

So yellow teeth for me.

It also feels like you’re drinking dirt sometimes. It doesn’t sit well in the stomach or bowels.

Tea sits better. But it’s like drinking water.

Now I’m just whining.

I hope this waffling makes it clear to you why I’ve struggled for 10+ years now to kick this habit.

How about you? What are your thoughts on coffee? Is it feeding you the way it once did? How do you wake up, how do you keep from feeling mad at people, if you don’t drink it? How do you get through the TIREDNESS of life??? Inquiring, addicted minds want to know.

Maybe in 2016, New Year’s Resolution. Not this year, however. Don’t think it’s going to happen this year.

Hyper happy

People, I am like, too excited.

As my dear friend Sarah says, I need to calm it down.

But I can't!!!

Because Hawaii!!!

And ballet!

And...other things I'm going to keep privately to myself even though I'm bursting at the seams!

And cat! Sweetest cat in the universe who has decided to become a lap cat!!!!!!

Maxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxxx!

And Taylor Swift's 1989 album that I can't stop listening to!

And crazy hike that has me crazy sore two days later but was such a badass workout!

Exhalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllle.

Breathe, Bailey, breathe. Where is a meditation class when you need one? I need calming music and a dark room, pronto.

Hawaii -- so while I was spending time with my brother Riley and his wife Caitlin at Christmas, they told me they're going to Hawaii, and then they said I should come along.

"Are you suuuuure???"

"???"

I had to be sure. They were sure. So last night I booked a flight and a bed at a hostel.

Yay!!!!

Today I registered for my ballet class at a local college. I took a class five years ago (wow, five) and have been waiting to take another one. So excited.

And something else I'm not telling you about.

And cat. Seriously, Office Max has decided he loves my lap and wants to be in it a lot.

I am more than fine with this.

I miss him a lot when I'm away from him.

I'm obsessed with him when I'm with him.

I visited him at lunch yesterday. I plan to do the same today.

Plus I have leftovers in the fridge.

But cat.

And Taylor Swift. Can't stop listening. So good.

We're going on over a month now that I've been listening to this album, off and on.

And hike.

Did a 7 mile hike with elevation change of about 3,000 feet on Monday.

Yow. Za.

We were so proud of ourselves. And had Bud Lights on tap and bar food to celebrate our accomplishment.

I apologize for this crazy hyper happy post. Those kind of blogs are super annoying. I know you guys are used to my anxiety-depression-struggling-with-my-faith posts. Regularly scheduled programming may return soon.

So hyper happy. Need to calm it down.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

Motorcycle diary

Today was one of those mind racing days for me.

Until I took a nap.

Now I feel a little better.

Do you ever have those days where you wonder if you're able to make a decision about anything? And I don't mean "soup or salad," I mean days where you wonder if you're living in the right place, spending time with the right people, in the right job, doing the right activities.

I've discovered some things about myself of late:

1. I beat up on myself a lot. I have a lot of hubris, to be sure, but I can beat up on myself for just about annnnything.

2. I'm not sure I'm confident about a damn thing in my life.

This is uplifting, this foot I've gotten us off on here. Happy holiday weekend, y'all!

Just as soon as I think something is great, or right, or comfy, I start to wonder. It's a lonely, hard-to-explain place to be, though I have a hunch a lot of us are there.

Right now my shirt is semi-soggy with sweat from my long nap. My legs are in a less-than-ideal position, to accommodate for a sleeping cat in my bed. (Not complaining about the cat). The legs are warm, too, because there is a comforter on them. A computer is at an awkward angle on my lap.

As I was driving home from church today -- where I was being recruited to take on a leadership position I'm not sure about, where I was prayed with to consider the position, where I dumped a lot of my life uncertainties on the people trying to recruit me -- there was a guy in front of me in a weird position on his motorcycle.

He was leaning more to one side than the other, casually gripping the steering grip with only one hand.

I immediately thought he was cocky. Gonna get killed if he's not careful.

But then I thought, "He knows what he's doing. He can sense his balance."

And I felt the lack of balance in my life.

I don't say all this to make things sound sad. I have a lot of good things, a lot of great things, in my life right now.

I just feel like they're a little out of control. I legitimately stressed myself out earlier for not having clipped my toenails recently. I mean, they're not crazy long or even embarrassing, but for crying out loud I was beating myself up for spending so much time with people lately that I hadn't clipped my toenails.

I may have been a wee bit sleep deprived while having this thought.

And I may be just a little over-stimulated and haven't had a lot of Bailey time lately.

But a little spiritual crisis is legitimately in the mix there, too. (Toenails have nothing to do with the spiritual crisis, but that is one of the things I was worrying about earlier today -- my lack of faith, my constant questioning of who Jesus was, should I believe in Him, do i believe in Him, etc.)

I haven't showered since yesterday morning. Beat myself up over that.

There is laundry drying on a yoga mat and a beach towel in my apartment. Not drying, it's dry. Not put away. Beat myself up over that.

Not writing or editing full time. Beat myself up over that.

Overthinking time being spent with new person in life. Beat myself up over that.

Blarg, blarg, blarg!

I don't know if it's because I'm an extrovert with self-diagnosed ADD, and so I just keep adding activities and people to my life, or what. Maybe it's this new person who's got me (in a good way) out of sorts.

This has been a downer post.

When I saw the guy on his leaning, Joe Cool motorcycle, I had visions of a beautiful, albeit totally disjointed blog post arising from it.

I recently read from Ann Patchett that what we have in our writing heads are these beautiful stories, like butterflies, and then when we write it all down, it's like a crushed, entomological specimen, like a butterfly getting hit by a car. It's nothing like we visualized in our head. Then we have to work to get it into the beautiful butterfly that it is in our heads.

This blog, if you haven't noticed, is often first drafts (or only drafts), so my apologies if they read like crushed butterflies sometimes.

So I guess my conclusion here is that I could use prayer. I could use hugs. Listening ears. Encouragement to enjoy some Bailey time.

And I guess, in putting this out there, that if you're reading this and thinking "Damn, I beat up on myself too! I can't make a decision about my faith, or love, or work, or lunch," then know that I'm with you.

Here's to a day off. Here's to naps. Here's to napping kitties. Here's to sweet people in our lives who root for us to be happy and content. I wish these things for you, too.

Xo

P.S. This is from when the nugget crawled on me earlier. Praise the Lord that cats can sense when we need affection. He's been keeping close most of the day.