Saturday, December 31, 2016

This was the year...

2016 was a year of a lot of things. Many are calling it a terrible year, but it wasn't 100 percent bad, if you ask me. It was certainly full, though, I'll give you that. 

Today I filled my cart with $200 worth of groceries. I took all the expired food out of the fridge, loaded the dishwasher, and took out a bunch of trash. And now I'm sitting here, looking back on many of the things that occurred in my life this year. So without further ado:

This was the year...

Max became a lap cat on hyperdrive. 

I lost my last grandparent.

I started writing prayers for Bethel.

I made really good friends at Bethel.

I saw Bonnie Raitt and Dolly Parton in concert. 

I discovered that Glen Hansard is amazing live. 

A crystal got dislodged in my left ear, making me curiously dizzy for a month.

A doctor declared me to have plantar fasciitis in my right foot, making me an overachiever with plantar fasciitis in both feet. 

I went to Kansas City four times. 

My great pal Laura visited me three times. 

I saw Europe. 

I spent Christmas as quietly as I probably ever have. Playing trial and error with my psychotropic meds made for a withdrawn Bailey. 

I learned that Jesca Hoop and Sam Beam are an incredible duo.

I held my bestie's thirdborn child. 

I developed a penchant for fizzy water. 

I weighed probably the most I ever have. 

I sang so much karaoke that I no longer get a fearful buzz in me when I take the mic. Which I consider both a triumph and a loss. 

I started wearing makeup more often. Which is to say, I wasn't a bridesmaid this year and I actually wore makeup. 

I became close with a girl I met online. 

I applied to graduate school again. 

Alex got in a terrible biking accident and walked out with many deep cuts but not a broken bone or any other serious injury, thank God. 

The Chiefs were actually good. 

I completed two half marathons. 

I combed a glittering beach in Mexico with my love and our friends, filling our pockets to bursting with shells and rocks. 

I bonded with a girl who previously (and still does, but less so now that I've befriended her) made me jealous. 

I saw people panic and cry over an election. 

I watched the Internet brim with self righteousness and vitriol.

I got a smart phone, a Netflix account, and several Apple products. 

I decided I really enjoy Instagram.

I got closer with my mama.

I got some Xanax and realized it works wonders for my flight anxiety. 

I flew from LA to Kansas City without Xanax and was very proud of myself. 

I agreed with myself that ukuleles still really bother me.

I ate chips like there was about to be a chip prohibition.

I got glasses.

I sang in church with a microphone, twice. 

One of those times I sang with Garrison Starr, and became instantly transfixed by her voice and bought tickets to her show at the Hotel Cafe. 

I decided I'm allowed to be from Kansas and not love the song "Over the Rainbow."

I learned the names of two players on the Kansas City Chiefs. (And I think I know their positions, too).

I stitched muppets. 

I blogged, and felt proud of several of my posts.

I developed a very strong ability to berate myself -- chiefly for exercising too little, drinking too much caloric beer, spending too much money, and essentially never cleaning. 

I called my parents about once a week.

I buried the hatchet in a troublesome relationship.

I read probably the least I have in the last four or so years.

I started to speed read a lot more. 

I developed a huge author crush on Marisa de los Santos.

I ditched a relationship with a medical professional who wasn't serving me well anymore.

I fell in love with Lauren Daigle's tunes.

I felt self conscious in a bathing suit for the first time maybe ever.

I bought a scale. 

I very briefly counted calories. 

I joined party planning committees at work. I set up decorations and told my colleagues that doing so was giving me a chance to be on the Prom Committee I was too timid to join in high school. 

I owned the irony that I hate hiking but am willing to walk for miles on suburban sidewalks.

I became obsessed with Words with Friends and later deleted the app from my phone. 

I enjoyed taking photos with my new camera.

Speaking no Deutsch, I found a post office in Vienna and rode the subway all by myself. And I was exhilarated and it was one of my favorite days of the whole year. 

I watched Titanic for the first time and, after discussing its traumatic effect on me with my therapist, decided I never need to watch that movie ever again. 

I bought two books about the Titanic, even though the thought of that sinking ship gives me tremendous anxiety. Ha! I'm a nut. 

Well, Kiddoes, that's a good long list for now. 

I haven't decided if I'm going to go out tonight or stay in -- though I'm betting big money I'll stay in. 

I'm going to try to be nicer to myself next year. I'm going to try and live within my means, and not by the aid of a credit card. I want to cook more for Alex, because he's wonderful and he deserves it. I'm going to snuggle with Max so much. I want to exercise more, eat more vegetables, consume less alcohol. I want to read more. 

OK. I'll leave you for now. Be safe tonight. Auld lang syne and all that. Thanks, as always, for another year of reading this blog. Means the world. 


Friday, December 30, 2016

I'll start with laundry

I'd like to talk about New Year's resolutions.
I think they're silly.
Well, that was quick. See ya later!
OK, OK, fine. We can actually talk about resolutions.
So, as you can imagine (if you know me or have read my blog at all), I have a lot of feelings and thoughts and opinions about resolutions (because I have a lot of feelings and thoughts and opinions about most things. OK, fine. About everything.).
And, if you know me, you know I'm about to share my F's and T's and O's with you now.
So, go ahead and bail if you'd like. Otherwise, grab some popcorn and come back and join us.
Let's see.
Well, for starters, I've spent the last month or two or eight beating up on myself. I get mad at myself for eating out. For eating poorly. For not eating enough. (This is just one example, the eating. I get mad at myself for all kinds of other things, that I'm not doing enough, or correctly, or with enough gusto). All this negativity toward myself has made for a pretty negative year overall.
So, I'm equal parts reluctant and eager to make some resolutions for this upcoming year.
On the one hand, a resolution could help give me a goal, yes? And a focus. And something to look forward to.
On the other, it kind of feels like I'm jumping into 2017 with a wagging finger that says, first and foremost, "Let's fix everything that you did so terribly wrong last year."
So, while I've typed up a list of things I want to do less of in 2017 and things I want to do more of, I'm not quite sure I'm going to print it and post it on my bulletin board.
I sometimes wonder if what I need instead of a resolution is either some therapy or a trip to Goodwill. Or both.
Let's start with the Goodwill theory.
I am so overwhelmed by the amount of STUFF in my life.
I have so much stuff I never use. Never will use. Never want to use.
So I should just get rid of it, right?
You'd think. But, if there's one thing I've learned about myself in 2016, it's that I am the laziest, least willing person to drive to Goodwill.
I know, it's ridiculous.
Did you see that negativity there, calling myself lazy?
Cue the therapy.
I'll be honest, I'd like to take the next year off from therapy. Or at least the next several months. I went to therapy a lot this year. Ad nauseum. Ad boredom. Ad why-am-I-spending-my-money-on-this-um.
But, if I'm being real with myself, I know that it might be helpful to talk to someone about all the negative self talk that I have on repeat throughout each day. Frankly, I'm sick of the soundtrack.
OK let's talk about some real things I'd like to see change next year.
I'd like to lose weight.
I'd like to spend waaaaay less.
I'd like to downsize my stuff significantly (and yes, this includes books).
I'd like to work on my attitude.
Now, show of hands: How many of you are ready to suggest the Netflix documentary on minimalism, or have a copy of The Life-Changing Magic of Tidying Up ready to sneak in my tote bag when my back is turned?
I'll keep those in mind, but #1: I don't think I'd actually read the book, and #2: at this point, anyway, I think the documentary would just make me focus on all that which is not true in my own life, making me feel worse than I already do. Looking at examples of all that I wish to be tends not to inspire me, but rather make me crouch and cry.
Where am I going with all this?
Mostly, I'm just rambling, Friends. You're welcome, and also thanks for reading.
Also, I don't know where I'm going with this, other than I'm sorting out some emotions.
I will tell you that I don't believe a day on a calendar makes an actual difference in being the "appropriate" time to change actions and habits in one's life. But I do know that I've let my bad attitude and self loathing grow and grow and so I think now is as good a time as any to flip the switch.
I will also tell you that I'm going through a weird phase where I want to do all the things. As in, I want to read every book in the universe. OK, not the boring ones. But I want to explore new genres and make my own opinions about some titles that everyone claims are awesome.
I want to watch all the Netflix (except the violent stuff). I'm currently plowing my way through Baby Daddy, to make my own opinions about a show that no one else is watching. Because that should be a priority in life. Hey, Tucker is a delight and I'm enjoying myself, so so what if I'm binge watching?
What does this have to do with resolutions? Well, not much except that I think this inkling to do-all-the-things is a hindrance to actually setting realistic, attainable goals.
So where am I going from here?
Number one, I'll wrap up this blog post soon, so y'all can get back to life as you know it.
Number two, I'm going to keep trying to be nice to myself. I think that may be my biggest challenge in 2017. But I think it's a supremely worthwhile goal. Because if I've learned anything in 2016, it's that belittlement of one's self is ultimately counterproductive. Plus it doesn't feel great.
And number three, um, what is number three?
Laundry! Let's start with laundry. I'm wearing swimsuit bottoms today, because my underwear is either dirty, lost somewhere in an airport (don't ask), or in a suitcase in my car that I haven't brought inside yet.
So I think laundry is a good place to start in life right now. Because what are we without our undies? Well, frankly, we're a little lost.
So I will enjoy the whimsy of polka-dotted swimsuit bottoms under my jeans today, and, when I take a break from binge watching B-rated sitcoms, I will head to the laundry room with my quarters and detergent.
And I will tell myself that I am doing all right in life.
Smooches to you all. And hey. Tell me. What are your thoughts on resolutions?

Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Real life -- full(er) of emotion

I know I should probably be wrapping gifts or packing my suitcase for Kansas, but I am very busy.
Jill and I are rapid-fire texting, now that I have completed watching all of Fuller House.
We are critiquing every last bit. Guest stars, love interests, annoying characters, the BEST characters (Max first, Steph second).
I almost told a coworker today to put down his donut, because the episode where everyone gets donut poisoning was still fresh in my brain, and fantasy was mixed in with my reality.
I'm not kidding.
The good news is I've finished my binge, so I should come back down to earth soon and will be able to look at donuts normally once again.
Here's what else is going on in my life:
I'm blue.
Like, staring into space, feeling sad during the day. Waking up in the night, feeling sad then, too.
And I'm irritable.
Like, I was at a potluck recently, and all I could think was, "Why are these people SO EXCITED about some food?"
Yowsa. Did anybody order a Grinch?
I called my psychiatrist this morning, and left a message with the receptionist. I didn't want to make the call, to be honest, because it's a task, and they might ask me to come in, and when you're feeling blue and like yelling at everyone, the last thing you want to do is tell a doctor how you're feeling and then play trial and error with your meds.
But I did it.
They say we're nothing without our health. I am still something, I would say, with whacked out emotions, but it's really hard to get anything of substance done, anything that would make me feel good.
I'm grateful for the dumb joy the Tanner family has brought me this week, and I truly got out of my head when Jill and I were freaking out over Steve's romanticism, but mostly, if I'm being honest, I feel awful.
No motivation to exercise, to eat anything other than sugar or salt, to lift a finger.
I'm not even all that excited for Christmas. Five years ago, this would be normal for me, but the last couple of years I've actually enjoyed the holidays, and I hate to fly home feeling unenthused.
So why am I telling you all this?
1. I know a lot of you aren't happy that it's Christmastime. I want you to know you're not alone. I struggle, too.
2. I want to show you a real life snapshot of med management. You can feel good for months, years even. And then all of a sudden you may not. It's obnoxious, and made 10 times harder when you're having to deal with it in the midst of not feeling like yourself, but it's completely worth tackling. I have some semblance of peace, knowing/hoping that once my doc and I get this sorted out, I'll be back to Bailey in a few weeks.
3. The irony to my lack of personal sanity right now is that I just wrote a piece for a website regarding holiday stress, and how to cope. So I will tell you what I told readers in the article I wrote:
I want you to give yourself grace, particularly if you're not feeling great. I want you to find something small, something silly, that grants you respite. If cheesy sitcoms aren't your thing, maybe make something -- food, baked goods, a craft, a masterpiece of your woodworking skills. Go ice skating. Buy yourself a shiny pair of shoes. Organize your linen closet.
I don't know. Just get out of your head. And don't force yourself to feel any which way, because, news flash, it won't work if you force it.
So. Breathe. Eat. Sleep. Walk. And call your doc if needed.

Saturday, December 17, 2016

A year and its word

Well, here I am, Friends.

Facing a magazine deadline and a write-prayers-for-church-tomorrow deadline, and what am I doing?

Well, aside from quoting Home Alone via text with my new best friend Sam.

And tweeting at Panera, convincing them to make me their resident blogger.

As if I have time for that.

Never mind the stress of the day, the stress that could be alleviated if I finished at least one of my writing assignments. In the face of this, I'm over here blogging instead.

Time Management 101, here I come.

But here's what I say to all this gobbledygook I wrote just now: I am here to tackle another writing assignment, given to me by Jill.

Jill, who summarizes each year with a word that describes her overall experience and sentiment for the past 12 months, asked me this week what my word is for 2016.

I cursed a little when she asked me, because though I've always read her "word" posts and thought, "I should do that," I've also been a little chicken to actually sit down and make a choice on just one word.

But I think it's a great idea, and it might be fun to look back in five years on all the words of yore.

My first response to Jill was "busy." Not like, "Busy. Can't answer your question." But, as in "busy" should be my word. Then I thought some more, and came up with broke. And lucky. Spoiled. Blessed. Stressed.

But finally, I figured it out.

My word for my latest trip around the sun is full.

Full, because there was way too much in this year.

I have packed a suitcase 12 times this year. TWELVE. It will be 13 before the year's up. Four of those trips will be to Kansas City.

I've traveled by car, plane, and boat.

I've been to four countries outside of the US.

I have lost count of the number of musicians and stand up comedians I've seen live this year.

I've done freelance assignments for at least three entities.

I applied to graduate school.

I officially became a karaoke junkie.

I worked on my billiards game.

I completed two half marathons.

I did, I did, I did.

I got stressed, and angry, and annoyed with myself for over scheduling and over spending and rarely taking time to do domestic things like cook and clean. I got mad at myself every day (which was most days) that I didn't go to the gym. I went through this self-loathing routine with myself over and over and over.

I did it today, and I talked myself down on the way to Panera. "Bailey, you're starving right now. Eat, and then re-evaluate life."

I forgave myself a little when a gift card covered the expense of my lunch. I managed to squeeze in a treat without swiping the Visa.

My life this year has been full of activity, and motion, and stress and feelings and cat snuggles and Alex snuggles and an expanding wardrobe compliments of Goodwill.

But my life, no doubt, has been full of love.

I've been embraced by my church family, which was largely full of strangers last December.

Alex and I, outside of our first year of falling-in-love bliss, saw more of the things we do that annoy each other, and we loved our way through them.

Loving words have filled my days. From the mouths of friends, coming across the texting wire, landing in my inbox. In books that stand for hope, books I read as I fought sleep, fighting to just drink in one more nourishing paragraph. (Special shout out to Marisa de los Santos, my author crush of the year, hands down).


I've felt so full I thought I might burst, at least 100 times this year. Full of awe, wondering how the heck I've been so lucky to have such incredible family and friends. Full of bafflement, that I am able to do something I love (write), and to be encouraged in it. Full of aggravation for myself and my bad habits. And sometimes, (a little bit tiny sorta maybe almost) full, of grace for myself.


I hope that 2017 sees a wallet that is a bit more full, thanks to Bailey's soon-to-come habit of staying and eating in.

I hope it sees a belly that is less full of, ahem, accumulated fat deposits, thanks to pizza and beer.

I hope it stays chock full of Max snuggles and Alex snuggles. (For those just joining us, Max = cat, Alex = boyfriend. I'm not dating two humans.)


In about five minutes, I'm going to publish this post and get back to my freelance gig.

In about six minutes, I'm going to start berating myself for being so far behind on that gig. For delaying the process by doing some superfluous blogging.

But I'll make this Girl Scout's honor promise to you right now: In seven minutes, I will do my best to be nice to myself.

If 2017 is going to be full of anything, I want it to be grace. Grace and forgiveness and love. Leaving anger in the dust and running full force toward new mercies each morning. I want to be met with a cup of steaming tea, with a plate of cookies and a friend who makes me laugh. I want to start each day counting the gifts that have been, frankly, PILED in my life, and say, "Bails. We're not going to waste today being mad at ourself."

I could wait until January 1st to start letting myself off the hook, but they say it's worthwhile to tackle your resolutions early, right? Maybe they don't say that.

Here's to a new year. A year with more stews simmered slowly on the stove, more pauses to breathe and meditate on all the blessings. I sound like a grade A cheeseball right now. Here's to more of that. Cheeseball cheesiness, round the clock in 2017.

See y'all then. Meanwhile, enjoy the holidays. And look out for my freelance piece, assuming I actually get it done.

The Daily Bailey

Friday, December 2, 2016

Time for the good ice cream now

I was given a whole week to grieve.
Four days bereavement leave from work, two paid days for the Thanksgiving holiday, and a weekend.
I had a visitation to attend, a memorial service, a burial and a lunch following.
I was surrounded by family, and my precious Alex handed me a handkerchief as I wept during Grams' favorite hymn, "What a friend we have in Jesus."
My voice wavered as I read aloud from Job: naked I came into this world, naked I will leave it. The Lord has given and the Lord has taken away.
I thought I had let out what I needed to, that I had "handled it" honestly and openly.
But I'm finding myself back in life as I know it where I'm really starting to feel sad, alarmed by the tears falling at various intervals down my face, dripping onto my lap as I drive.
I find the skin on my face feeling thin, as if I've been sobbing for hours.
I bought heaps of dollar store Christmas gifts for my niece and nephew during my lunch hour to cheer myself up. It worked, sort of.
I ordered a print of this picture, to frame and hang in my home:
I thought about scheduling a massage after work, but decided against it.
I fantasized about holing up in my bedroom and just being alone and, well, sad tonight.
I'm considering writing Christmas cards, to overcome the darkness by putting some light out into the world.
I keep thinking about her watch. I lifted my four-year-old nephew up above the casket, and he asked, quiet and pure, "How is she keeping so still?"
I waited for my brother to come closer to us, to answer such formative questions for his son. He joined us, and told James that we were looking at her body only, that her soul is with Jesus.
"Your soul is what's inside you, in your head, what makes you you," he explained.
As I held him, we noticed her wristwatch, around her thin left arm, crossed in her lap atop her purple floral outfit.
It was still ticking.
It maybe still is, under the ground on a hillside in Kansas.
It's killing me, that watch.
It used to drive her batty that I didn't wear a watch. She was so concerned I would never know what time it was. I wouldn't be surprised if she requested to be buried with hers.
I didn't think I was that close with my grandma. I appreciated her sass, her strength, but I didn't reach out to her in times of need. I guess I'm learning it's not about that. Someone doesn't have to be your bestie to make you cry. She just has to be gone.
Part of me wants to scream, thinking of the symbolism of the tiny second hand on her wrist, making endless loops around the watch's face. I want to scream: "There's still time!"
The other part knows she was in so pain, and is grateful for her that she doesn't have to wait out the painful hours anymore.
There's an episode of the show I can quote most readily, Friends, when Chandler is broken up with Janice, and Monica and Rachel are coaching him through it.
Trying to cheer him up with ice cream, he tastes it and says, "This ice cream tastes like crap, by the way," and the girls explain to him that when you keep getting your heart broken, you have to eat low fat stuff to keep from ballooning up.
As the episodes continues on and Chandler is delivered another blow from Cupid, he asks his comforting female friends, "It's time for the good ice cream now, right?"
I'm in the good ice cream stage now, as far as I can tell.
This weekend I plan to snuggle with Max, with Alex. To drink, but now drown myself in, good wine. To remember to eat, even though I don't have much of an appetite. 
The day Grams died, I bought a pizza and brought it to Alex's, and picked out all the best episodes of Friends to watch. I may turn to Joey and Ross and Company this weekend, if I feel it is well advised to do so.
And hopefully, as I quote lines aloud before the actors can say them first, I will gather some gumption to write notes inside Christmas cards, address envelopes and stick stamps in corners.
Because Grams would have liked that, and if she was an example of anything to me, she was an example of kindness. An example to live honestly through your pain, but to do your best to be light in the meantime.
Missing you, Grams.