Saturday, December 16, 2017

Brewer? Brewer? Anyone? Anyone?


There were several times this year when I wondered where I had gone.

I certainly kept myself in motion -- boarding 16 airplanes, moving twice, picking up freelance jobs and driving to Phoenix for a bachelor party I had planned in great detail.

But I cried one day, as Alex drove me to departures, telling him I hadn't read in weeks, cross stitched in months. It wasn't simply an issue of I was too busy to do these things that I love, I just wasn't doing them. Looking back, I guess maybe it was active depression (I've never been a sleep-all-day depressed person), but on another level I felt like Bailey Kathleen had just taken a hike somewhere...and become lost along the way. It was like the series finale of Full House when Michelle's memory becomes separate from her body and they each walk around their home trying to reunite.

***

Each December my friend Jill asks me what my word was for the past year. Last year and this, I believe my immediate response was "full." (I've been having some serious tetes-a-tete with myself recently and have decided that the over scheduling has got to stop, for more reasons than one but chiefly for my peace of mind).

As I drove to Panera (where else) this morning, it came to me that maybe my word is something else.

Maybe my word this year is Present.

By my own high standards, I don't think I've been a great friend this year. I haven't really achieved any lofty goals. I lost weight, but that was kind of by accident, not the result of some dedicated gym rat-ness.

But I've been here. I still am here. Through the awful and the calm, I've shown up. Though it feels like I went on a hike, I've really never disappeared. I've discovered that being present doesn't just apply to meditative or euphoric moments -- turns out it might just require that we feel honestly and we honestly feel.

I've also learned that honoring one's emotions needn't mean that we spiral into oblivion -- but that's another discussion for another blog post.

***

This year, I was present in the bong-bong video game sounds of the MRI tube, counting my way up to 10 and back down again, over and over, trying not to move my stockinged feet.

I've been present in the sleepiness that follows lunch breaks spent reading in my warm car, yawning as I scan my badge to come back to work.

I was present in my unstoppable giggles as I almost crashed the moving van and Sam commentated from the passenger seat, "You are making some decisions right now..."

I was present for -- no, literally -- the best refried beans of my life, on Hill Street.

I was present in my stiffening fear, as I went to latimes.com and saw, highlighted in red: Korea launches missile.

I was present in my fury toward the gunman in Vegas, who ripped open a concert with terror and death, who interrupted the inalienable right to get lost, and then found, in music.

I was present later that night, with Kansas City Chiefs fans in a bar. I was present in the beer that was poured from a pitcher, by a person I just met. I was present in recognizing my need to be with some Midwestern homies, at the end of a day that was trying for us all.

I was present in the opening notes of a second line that pronounced my best friend married and happy and where he's meant to be, finally. I gulped down could-be-sobs as I reflected on 14 years of friendship, hamming it up for the camera man in my one-shoulder Michelle Obama dress.

I was present in Loren's hugs after church.

I was present on quiet neighborhood streets, where I creeped the Corolla Coaster along, watching 199,999 miles become 200,000.

I was present in the Delta Airlines baggage check line, while my tushy should have been squished in a seat on the plane.

[Whoops.]

I was present in the guilt of overspending, in the gentle reminder that the past is past, in the belief that I can change.

Though few and far between, I was present on the treadmill, finding just a little bit of that runner's high I used to know so well.

I was present in Happy Hour at my favorite haunt, laughing with my roommates and feeling like myself for the first time in who knows how long.

I was present in the hurt and anger of things unforgiven.

I was present in the words of Annie, training my voice not to catch as I read to a sweet man in a coma, watching his blood pressure drop in response to a message of humor and hope.

I was present in my helpless ache, watching the heart I love the most just shatter.

I'm present now in the water crawling out the corners of my eyes. I'm in public and it keeps coming but I don't care because I am present.

I was present in the force of sugar that filled my Pepsi an hour ago, and the steaming salt of my mac and cheese.

I was present in the discomfort of therapy sessions.

I was present in the writing out of my thoughts, challenging them to excavate truth.

I was present in shared, stifled laughter, as my family prayed over Oscar, and his big brother dunked a handkerchief in the baptismal font.

I was present in unfollowing a celebrity on Instagram, whose life I just can't relate to.

I was present in texting Jill, present in asking Courtney for prayer.

I was present in my Panera booth, writing prayers even when I was afraid I had nothing hopeful to put on the page. I was present for my church family, and they were present for me.

I was present holding a friend as she cried.

I was present in silly chatter with Molly on FaceTime.

I was present in a weekend in the snow, chaperoning some pretty great high schoolers and admiring their respectful, fun nature.

I was present with those same youth on a sandy beach, playing football and huddling up.

I was present in Jennifer Knapp's incredible voice, which has so much to say, sung and written.

I was present in a muted world, with ears so congested I called Alex in a panic.

I was present with thousands of strangers, singing "The Hills are Alive," sipping on a spicy cocktail, enjoying the heck out of myself.

I was present in my shame when a relationship was unexpectedly terminated.

I was present in the best, deepest, most healing breaths of the year, every time I finished a Headspace meditation.

I was present in so many conversations with strangers, conversations I ate up and that made me grin.

I was present in the rocking of our cruise ship, afraid in our cabin as Alex held me and assured me we were fine.

I was present in the donation rooms of Goodwills, shedding things I didn't need, driving away with airy ease.

I was present in the absence of my grandmother, our first year without her.

I was present in the fear of unsettling biopsy results.

I was present in the swaying of my hips at a Jens Lekman show, the jollity of steel drums and bizarre lyrics moving me in rhythm, a giant smile cracking across my face.

I was present in repeating to myself something I needed to believe: that any given emotion doesn't last forever. Mercies are always new.

***

Though I always did well in school, I wasn't always the best at paying attention. I hated getting in trouble for talking out of turn, and even in my last week of college a professor responded to my question: "I already answered that, while you were sleeping over there."

So I don't have the best track record for being...all there.

But I pride myself on refusing to multi-task, in giving great focus to detail, in listening closely and remembering facts about people and their lives.

Though this year has not been short on challenges, I am so grateful for the revelations I've had and the people who have believed in me when I wasn't so sure. I'm so glad that I'm here to go into next year, to be kind to myself, to move forward, to set some goals and go after them.

In 2018, when life calls my name, I'll be ready.

"Bailey Brewer?"

PRESENT.

Thursday, December 7, 2017

What I love (and hate) about the beach

 
This post is inspired by a modified writing prompt from the awesome book my friend Courtney just got me. Ta dah!
 
What I love (and hate) about the beach
*an overthought essay by Bailey Brewer*
 
We'll start with what I hate, so that we can end on a positive note:
 
I hate that I associate the beach with loneliness. During my late twenties I went to the beach a lot to try and combat restlessness, to feel less alone even though so often I went there alone. Sadly my antidote was rarely effective, and I often left the shores feeling worse than when I got there. I haven't shaken this connection between sand and sadness (we'll call it sandness), but I do have hope that someday I can go to the beach and feel calm and at peace again.
 
I hate that I feel salty and grimy enough after going to the beach that I can't go directly to a formal gala (as if this is a real problem in my life). I have, however, gotten in the habit of bringing dry shampoo, a comb, a hair tie, and deodorant with me to the beach so that I can freshen up enough to feel comfortable to go to dinner somewhere.
 
I haaaaaaate parking at the beach. Your choices are either to park a mile away and walk or pay $50 to park right next to the sand. There is no in between.
 
I hate that one has to allow an hour plus (from where I live) to get from her front door to toes in the sand. And I hate that it costs a billion dollars to live near the beach. There is no in between.
 
I hate that most beaches don't allow alcohol.
 
I hate that the water off the coast of LA is too cold to swim in.
 
I hate that sometimes my mind wanders to tsunamis while I sunbathe.
 
In general sand getting everywhere doesn't bother me, but I do hate the combo of sand and sunscreen on my hands.
 
I hate that it is hard for me -- in the bright sunlight and with all the action -- to focus well enough to read. I love reading at the beach in theory, but really it aggravates me.
 
I hate feeling jealous when I see any cutesy/quirky/sexy apartment or house by the beach.
 
I hate worrying that kids aren't being properly watched by their parents.
 
And finally, I hate having to pee at the beach. Hearing waves crash does not curb the urge, for one. Second, one's options are to use disgusting beach bathrooms or go in the frigid water and casually pretend you're not peeing. There is no in between.
 
OK, let's move on to what I love!:
 
I love the way my hair braids itself into the salty wind, tangling my locks for sure.
 
I love thoughtlessly letting handfuls of sand sift through my fingers.
 
When I am brave enough (because the riptide in SoCal is like whoa), I love to get every last patch of skin and strand of hair wet and then dry slowly in the sun.
 
I looooooooove the way my hair feels to the touch when it's dry and hot from the sun.
 
I love consuming the major beach food groups: Diet Coke, chips, and candy.
 
I love ornery seagulls, and observing that they are almost as big as my fat cat. I like to cheer them on as they eat the snacks of people playing in the water.
 
I don't love all the preparation for the beach (99% of this reason is because I live so far away and so I feel pressure to remember every last thing I might want or need), but I do love having a Mary Poppins bag with me.
 
I love that the sun is so bright it is hard to see the screen on my phone, causing me to set it aside for once.
 
I love the briny, fishy smell of the air.
 
I love that when I bring my camera, beach photos turn out great.
 
I've only done this once, but I love eating funnel cake from the Santa Monica pier.
 
I love feeling like I have the beach to myself when I do a Sunday morning run down there. It is usually foggy, and life slowly emerges as cafĂ© owners start setting up patio umbrellas. To see just a handful of people in a city of millions is magical in its own way.
 
I wouldn't say love, but in a twisted way (because jealousy is so much in the forefront) I like to imagine living in one of those cutesy/quirky/sexy homes by the beach.
 
I love hearing kids squeal as cold water rushes up the sand and nips at their legs. California frostbite.
 
I love being at the beach with people who I can talk to but who are comfortable in silence.
 
I love when an out-of-state friend comes to town and wants to go to the beach. I either avoid the beach entirely or go without hesitation to entertain a guest. There is no in between.

Wednesday, December 6, 2017

My game changer

 
I chose Andy because he's British. I decided to stick with Andy because he changed my life.
 
I believe Jill told me about meditation before my therapist did, and I don't remember when exactly, but one day I decided to download some free apps and go for it.
 
The first I tried, Calm, was OK. In particular I listened to its "sleep stories," read in monotonous tones to ease me into slumber at night.
 
It didn't take long with Headspace, however, to know that it was the app for me. (No, I'm not receiving any sort of payment for writing about this app -- I simply love it enough to tell you about it).
 
At first, I kept with Headspace over Calm because I preferred Andy's (the guy who guides and voices all the meditations) accent. And before I knew it, I was realizing just how powerful his 10 minute sessions were. There have been several strong forces in my life this year -- generous, awful, depressing, stressful, funny -- but one of the biggest, and certainly most peaceful has been incorporating meditation into my...well, into my head.
 
There are several meditations on Headspace that are free, but for an additional payment ($99 for a year) one can unlock hundreds of emotion-specific sessions. I made the investment and have zero regrets.
 
So, rather quickly, let me just tell you some points/highlights about meditation itself, how my life has been affected, etc.
 
1. If you're religious and freaked out that meditation will take you off your faith path, I'd rethink that.
 
I mostly only speak for Headspace here, but so far with my experience my good pal Andy simply asks me to focus on my breathing, notice the sounds around me, spot areas of tension (and suppleness) in my body, etc. Occasionally he has me picture my body filling with warm light or visualizing myself or others with giant smiles on their face.
 
Nothing offensive, right? I didn't think so either.
 
2. 10 minutes is truly a small amount of time.
 
I'm not kidding when I say that it never feels as long as 10 minutes, and I always want to keep going once a session is done. When Andy tells me to open my eyes, I almost always do so begrudgingly. But! I almost always, always feel better -- refreshed, calm, less freaked out, less overwhelmed -- even after I've opened my eyes. In fact, in a way, once I open those peepers back up I feel better than I do while I was meditating. Like running, I'd be willing to argue that the after effects of meditation are more satisfying than the act itself. And, bonus: with meditation you don't have to, ya know...run. I mean maybe we all should do more exercise, but I'm not preaching that message right here right now.
 
3. I don't meditate every day, and you don't have to, either.
 
Like so many other things in life (I will tell you about all of them if you let me up on my soapbox), this is not something you have to do every day. I think there is certainly time for it in every day, since it is in 10 minute bytes, but I don't think that the effects reverse or disappear if one doesn't meditate for days, or weeks. Is it helpful to do it more often? Absolutely. Should you feel guilty for doing it every once in a while? I don't.
 
The best way I can describe this, I guess, is that I often forget about meditating, but as soon as I remember it or remind myself that doing it will help me feel better, I always want to do it. I don't have the same feeling toward eating right or exercising. I "want" to do those things in theory, but not actually. I'm not sure that makes sense, but I'm much more willing to head to my car on my break at work and listen to Andy for 10 than I am to get on the treadmill or turn down Salsa Verde Doritos.
 
4. Meditation is basically 31 Flavors for your heart.
 
Now that I've paid for the unlimited avenues of the Headspace app, I literally scroll through looking for what emotion or issue I'd like to tackle in a given moment. Restlessness, anxiety, depression, anger, regret, focus.
 
Even prior to becoming a paid user, however, the simplicity and redundancy of the sessions that are available in front of the pay wall cover a surprising number of feelings and struggles. Most sessions follow a very similar pattern, making one better as he goes along at settling into the rhythm of quieting and centering.
 
5. It's way easier than it seems.
 
I know. It's meditating. Shut your eyes and be quiet -- what more is there to it?
 
Well, I was hesitant to try. I thought my mind would wander (it does, and that's fine, and Andy helps you deal with that). I thought I'd be forced to visualize complicated scenarios as if I had signed up to play Dungeons and Dragons instead of just calm the frick down.
 
Let me say, as a girl who ran on a mental hamster wheel probably in utero, I can do it. So I believe that everyone equally and not-quite-as neurotic as me can do this, too.
 
You know how sometimes you're reading a book and you're about to get bored with a storyline or character and then the author switches gears to someone or something else? And you're like "Oh thank you thank you"?
 
Meditating, for me, is kind of the same. Andy has me focus on my breathing, but only for about a minute to 90 seconds. Then he has me focus on how my body feels. Then, finally, he lets my mind wander -- which, SPOILER, I'm always grateful for but even more grateful when that moment ends.
 
Anyway. It's simple.
 
And it has changed. My. Life. So. Mucccccccccccch.
 
Meditation is one of the first things I turn to when I'm overwhelmed, antsy, blue, distracted. I feel so good when I do -- so much so that that several times while writing this post I've closed my eyes and taken in a deep breath just imagining the relaxation I feel when I close my eyes and listen to Andy.
 
Please do yourself a favor and try it. I can't tell you enough how much this has helped me feel truly better when I'm depressed, truly more calm when I feel like screaming, truly more like I have a tool in my hands that I can actually count on at any moment.
 
OK, I'll leave you now. If you see Andy, tell him I say "Thanks."

Wednesday, November 29, 2017

Lazy Bailey's lazy day

 
A very sweet friend sent me a surprise in the mail this week. I came home from my Thanksgiving vacation and saw a padded envelope, wondering if I ordered something online and had forgotten. Nope! Instead, it was a journal with 300 writing prompts inside, several of which were tabbed by my sweet friend with post-it notes. Adorable, right?
 
Well I thought I'd kick off using this journal by...
 
not writing in it! (But instead typing my answer here).
 
The first prompt is:
 
What is your favorite way to spend a lazy day?
 
So, without further ado, I will answer said question. Ready, steady, here we go!
 
***
 
Well, I will begin by saying I am a true American and a true Protestant with a work ethic, in the sense that I don't remember the last time I had a fully lazy day.
 
Except maybe two weeks ago when I was sick as a dog in bed.
 
But other than that I find it hard to spend an entire day doing nothing productive without feeling guilty or, more likely, down. All that said, however, I'm pretty dang lazy, as laziness goes.
 
So I'll answer the question this way: if I had tomorrow off work, what would I do (or not do)?
 
Number one, I would sleep. I probably wouldn't sleep much past 8:30 or 9, just because I'm used to getting up for work, but this doesn't bother me. I don't mind getting up early, even on weekends. But I wouldn't set an alarm; I would wake up naturally.
 
Then, after rising slowly, flipping through Instagram and Facebook, and smooching all over the sleepy cat, I would make coffee.
 
I would then promptly bring the coffee back to bed, and fire up the computer, where I would peruse Facebook some more, check emails, listen to Pandora, and then probably watch Felicity or some other show I have purchased online.
 
After super saturating myself in screen time and subsequently feeling restless/grumpy/and/or/lazy, I would finally get up and start cleaning. Clean what, you ask? Well, my friends, the goal is always to clean
 
EVERYTHING.
 
This is my ENFP, all-or-nothing personality and I can't help it. I know every single time that I can't clean everything, yet I try to clean everything nonetheless.
 
I've gotten a liiiiiittle better at trying to focus on one area (say, clear all my books and electronics and such off my bed, strip the streets, re-make the bed and say "Ahhhhh"), reminding myself that I will feel better even if one shelf is truly organized or the bathroom is extra sparkly, versus working for hours and hours here and there and everywhere and then finding the room doesn't actually look or feel much better than the state in which it began.
 
I've also gotten better at forcing myself to eat lunch (and, ideally, leave the house) around noon. I've learned that if I don't eat and I just bustle bustle bustle, eventually I will become all grumble grumble grumble.
 
Which brings us to our next activity.
 
I would then either heat up some frozen vegetables from home or (more likely) go to Panera and eat mac and cheese and drink iced tea. I would arrive at Panera with my computer, several books (both regular and coloring), headphones, a journal, and receipts to match up to my online banking, because I am like a first time parent who brings anything and everything to entertain her child except that I am more the baby than the guardian in that I need such constant entertainment.
 
After eating, dinking around on Facebook, checking my phone for Insta updates, replying to texts and maaaaaaybe hammering out a blog post, I would refill my iced tea and get back in my car.
 
Then I would drive back home and either:
 
Go on a huge long walk (after taking nearly an hour to get into exercise clothes, charge up the iPod, and put on sunscreen)
 
Queue up a TV show or movie for more screen time
 
Read
 
Stitch
 
Clean
 
Ad nauseum repeat until Alex would finally call me and see how my day is going and I would grumble about being isolated and not having gotten anything done OR! I would hyperly blab to him about how I organized that one shelf and went to Panera (at which point he would say WHY? and I would tell him what I always tell him which is that I get writing done there and they don't bother me to leave my seat so until that stops being true I will keep going back) and then he would ask me if I want to meet him somewhere and if he said a) meet me for happy hour at our favorite spot, I would dot some blush on my face and dab deodorant on my pits and head out the door and if he said b) meet me at some social gathering, I would more slowly dot some blush on my face and dab deodorant on my pits because I would think that I don't want to go to this group social gathering because I've been alone all day and therefore I am irritably restless but I would also know that I need to get out and socialize to cure the irritable restlessness.
 
And then that would conclude the lazy day at home, because as I warned you in the beginning I am too extroverted and too America-wired to truly be lazy all day AND all night.
 
Annnnnnnd, scene.
 
***
 
So in conclusion, I like to spend my lazy days alone (until I can't take it anymore) and at home (until I can't take it anymore) and doing a combo of relaxing and getting things done.
 
What about you? What's your favorite way to spend a lazy day?

Tuesday, November 21, 2017

My year with Netflix

 
Well. I broke up with Netflix this week. We are officially no longer seeing each other as of Sunday at midnight.
 
I made it almost 12 months with the service. Yes, I enjoyed it, yes it's cheap, but I'm trying to save moo-lah wherever I can, and I figured I have enough episodes of Felicity purchased via Amazon and iTunes plus about a bajillion rom coms on DVD, so I figured I'd survive.
 
So far? I'm totes fine.
 
Says the girl who's been without Netflix for 62 hours.
 
But seriously I feel fine.
 
Anyway, I thought I'd do a quick review of my almost-12-months with this streaming service we all know and take for granted. So let's get started, with the good, the bad, and the brilliant.
 
The show I went into blind and found myself blindsided with obsession:
 
Reasons I loved Riverdale: the archetypal depiction of characters based on cartoon characters. Veronica always in pearls, with jet black hair. Betty always with a ponytail and pink chenille sweaters. Archie with not red but orange hair. I'm very attracted to color, which is a reason I liked Dick Tracy as well as this show.
 
The SOUNDTRACK. Scored with spooky instrumental numbers plus great covers and new, funky, poppy, sexy tunes. Also Josie and the Pussycats sing several times on the show and their harmonies are fantastic.
 
The 80s/90s reunion. Luke Perry? Molly Ringwald? Done.
 
That teenage drama, though. Sucked me in like a sucker.
 
Cole Sprouse! Former Disney star (who I'm secretly super attracted to in Riverdale) who's dating his on-screen girlfriend, the super talented Lili Reinhart!
 
OK that's enough about this show let's move on.
 
The beautiful
 

I'm still trying to decide if I loved the way the story was depicted, but if you need to just zone out and CHILL, might I recommend Lighthouse of the Orcas. This film is based on a true story about a boy with autism who is calmed by whales.
 
It.
 
Is.
 
Gorgeous.
 
I believe it was filmed in Argentina and I can't express enough how calming it was to just watch the screen. Crystal clear waters with black and white whales gliding through, a cream-colored horse, beautiful actors, ocean-side cliffs. I would watch again just to relax.
 
The show that I didn't think I would binge but I absolutely did
 
Fuller House. All of it. Gobbled up that Gibler-Fuller-Tanner love. Max is my favorite character, and not just because he shares a name with my favorite animal. Kimmy Gibler's brother is a close runner up.
 
I love every cameo of past guest stars, I can't stand how cute Candace Cameron-Bure is (like, literally can't follow her on Instagram, because jealousy), and who doesn't love Aunt Becky to this day? Ridiculous people, that's who.
 
Fun fact: this was the show that made me finally cave and get Netflix in the first place.
 
The brilliant
 
Crazy. Ex. Girlfriend.
 
This brainchild of Rachel Bloom and Aline Brosh McKenna was one of my top five shows this year, hands down. Absolutely hysterical, creative, and wonderful.
 
Darryl is my favorite character. He performs improv in Hollywood pretty regularly. I plan to go and fangirl eventually.
 
The tearjerker
 
One Day at a Time.
 
This remake by Norman Lear had me in tears (or very near them) several times, had me laughing, and had me binging. Absolutely touching, relevant, and pulled off with great class and boldness. Loved it.
 
The never-heard-of-it-but-watched-in-one-sitting indie film
 
What do you mean "watched in one sitting"? Doesn't everyone watch a movie in one sitting?
 
Not I, friends. Not I. Second fun fact of this blog post -- I haven't been to a movie theater in over a year. 99.9999999999 percent of the time when someone asks, "Want to watch a movie?" my inner self goes "Ehhhhhhhhhhhhhhh."
 
When I watch stuff on my own, it gets paused a lot. I don't do well with continuous screen time when all there is to do is watch (versus social media where one interacts and writes as many sarcastic comments as she can handle). And I can't just turn something on for background noise if I've never seen it before; I can't help but pay attention to the new characters, plots, etc. on screen. Even though, ironically, I don't seem to care enough to watch longer than 20 minutes (maybe) at a time.
 
So I have ADD, what else is new?
 
Anyway, I'm pretty sure I watched Almost Adults, the Canadian film about two best friends/roommates in one sitting. It was very well done, sweet, funny, cute. Would watch again (which -- surprise! -- is not something I do often (unless it's a rom com put on for background noise while cross stitching (I'm complicated))).
 
The British
 
I really enjoyed Crashing, the six-episode show based on two plays. It was funny, yes, and I think the other thing that kept me hooked was the vulnerability of each and every character. Everyone was broken yet whole, which is about as realistic as something can get. When art is made where you care about every piece (even the unlikable), I'm always impressed and left with an imprint on me.
 
The classic that cut me deeper than expected
 
As a 90s kid, I always considered Cheers to be "Dad's show." This year I decided to give it a spin for myself and was so pleasantly surprised. Again, this is a show where each character brings something to the table.
 
Cheers is geniusly understated. It's at once funny and somber, making it perfect to watch at any time. And Season 1 Episode 10 moved me more than I ever thought possible in the realm of sitcoms.
 
Also, all of Season 1 is shot on the same set -- a bar, its office, and its backroom. That's amazing that the writers came up with enough story to fill such a small space, in my humble opinion.
 
The dialogue-driven
 
No, not Gilmore Girls (though I've seen and I love. Reboot? Not so much). One of the first things I randomly clicked on in Netflix was a little indie film called Night Owls. Mostly filled with dialogue about first impressions and how we view ourselves, this one was thought provoking and engaging. I really enjoyed it.
 
The movie that presented a Christian in a fair manner
 
Little Sister, a movie about a young woman who has joined a convent (one can infer that she did this as a way to escape her family's trauma and dysfunction) was quite wonderful, in my book. Completely original and starring Ally Sheedy as a supporting character, I liked this one so much I made Alex and two of my out-of-town friends watch it with me after I had already sampled it myself.
 
One thing I loved best about it was the way they portrayed the lead character. They didn't make her out to be crazy, holier-than-thou, or unrelatable. I was very surprised to see a mainstream film portray a religious person in such a realistic way, and am truly grateful to the screenwriter, Zach Clark, for putting "one of us" in the artistic media in such a manner.
 
The giggle producer
 
Look, I can quote Friends forward and backward, out of context and probably in my sleep. So when I turned it on to keep me company while cross stitching, I was caught unawares by how much it made me laugh! There were some moments in the early episodes where I knew exactly what the next line and situation was, yet I still lost it. Very pleasing indeed. My love affair with Joey (my favorite Friend) is far from over.
 
And finally, the (probably) favorite
 
When I started watching Girl Meets World, it was purely for nostalgia's sake. Let's check this out and see how it compares to the original, I thought.
 
Then I started watching it for something bubble-gummily light to help me through a pretty rough patch of the year.
 
And then, all of a sudden, I was like, really watching it.
 
If I allowed it to, Girl Meets World could make me cry during every single episode.
 
I'm not exaggerating.
 
No cameo is wasted. If someone from the past is not going to be an integral part of today's story, that person gets four lines and then they're off screen. Appreciated but not unnecessarily strung out.
 
There's an episode about bullying. There's an episode about Asperger's. It's a groundbreaking, serious (yet totally silly) show.
 
I told several people about this show and at least four of them went on to binge the entire thing. All adults. All were touched. Caleb and I devoted an entire section of a dinner together to discuss it.
 
There is a "nerd" in the show, and the main characters don't make fun of him but rather are his friends.
 
It's funny. The episode when Shawn makes his first appearance had me in hysterics.
 
If you need to get some feels out, or you have a daughter (or son!) who needs to see some quality young role models on her iPad, turn this show on. I can't imagine you'll regret it.
 
Ta dah! You've reached the end of the post!
 
Or have you? Oh no, Bailey's still typing!!!!
 
I'm almost done, I promise.
 
I'd just like to say that Netflix was a welcome cushion in my life during what has been a rather hermit-ous year. I will feel a little pang when the next load of Fuller House episodes are released, but so far I've enjoyed the extra time to read and snuggle Max Wax. We'll see how I'm holding up in a couple of months -- something tells me I'll find plenty of ways to lazily waste time! (Not to imply that art is a waste of time. It obviously is not.)
 
Huggies,
Bailey

Saturday, November 18, 2017

A happy dollar


Well I'm cranky.

How are you?

***

If this were the start of an AOL instant messenger conversation, well, first, we'd be living a while in the past, but also, you might be on your computer, hearing the incoming ping of my messages and respond with:

YOU'RE ALIVE?!?!?!

Then you'd jump around in your room in your cutesy poodle pajamas.

***

Um, sorry, I just turned this into a made-for-TV Disney movie.

I'm a little rusty, people. Forgive me. First blog post since August.

Yah. August.

And what an august return this is!

Ha. Crack myself up.

Also, do y'all feel like "august" should mean something really negative? I think it sounds like a synonym for "bereft."

So this blog post is off to a good start.

Where were we.

Oh yes.

I'm cranky.

How are you?

Let's briefly address the former: I've been sick for about 11 days now. I'm over it. The end.

Now I would say let's address the latter of my statements (er, question), but since this is not AOL instant messenger I can't really hear your response, so shoot me an email or a text, will ya?

For now? Let's talk some more about me.

:)

***

Let's see, what have I not shared with the world via blog since my last post?

Well, I threw a bachelor party in Arizona. That was a blast.

Then my best friend got married in New Orleans. A beautiful, emotional affair in which I did not trip in front of many people.

And then I got sick.

The end.

Also, I cancelled Netflix. I met my 2017 Goodreads reading challenge (and yes, I counted books for small children in my tally). Helped co-lead a prayer retreat. Did some freelance copywriting for a website. Scheduled to have my picture taken for the church directory.

I went to the beach with Jillian, where I had the presence of mind to get each of us our own bag of Salsa Verde Doritos, because we obviously downed them all. My church held a jazz-style funeral on All Saints Day, complete with a brass quartet playing "Oh When the Saints." People cut in front of me in line a bunch -- seriously what is UP with that???

***

And now let's tell a happy story, that was an interruption to the stress and sickness of this past week.

One day this week -- we'll say Wednesday, because I don't remember which day exactly, and while I have the text message documentation to answer this question, well, I'm not going to do the research -- I forgot.

To bring.

A book.

To work.

H
O
R
R
O
R

I don't read on the clock (that'd be a dream, wouldn't it?) but I do read, on average, twice a day during my breaks, during lunch, and then before bed -- and any other time that Netflix seems too boring, Alex is busy, Max is tired of my snuggles (just kidding, that never happens), and reading just seems better than encountering life.

As such, I always grab a book -- or two, or three -- and tuck them in my tote bag before heading to the office.

Well, on Wednesday (or whatever day), I forgot.

Oftentimes I have a book on the passenger seat of my car, or in the trunk, but after rounding up a search party headed and conducted by me, I found nothing. Nada. No bound pages with black letters printed on them.

H
O
R
R
O
R

I couldn't stand for this.

Never mind that sometimes I get so caught up in my shiny phone during my breaks that I forget to read.

This was unacceptable.

Now. I may have some library fines that are unpaid. And these fines may have me blocked from checking out more books. And I might be waiting for pay day to pay these fines.

Also. I rarely, if ever, carry cash.

But for some odd reason, I've had a dollar in my wallet for weeks. Just one. I'm not a millionaire, people. We're talking one Washington.

I had previously purchased a memoir for one whole dollar (no tax) at my local library. Inside the front lobby, there is a humble used bookstore.

A ha! I thought. I will travel there. Because I can't survive one lunch hour without a book. No.

I arrived at the bookstore and found myself -- surprise! -- another memoir and handed the cheerful cashier my money.

"One sad, crumpled dollar," I said, as I forked it over.

"It's a happy dollar!" he chirped back at me. "Because it's going to support the library!"

Awesome! Any chance we can use this dollar as an advance on my next round of fines?

Then, something extra magical happened.

As my obvious new best friend took Mr. Washington from my hand, he then held it in front of his lips and said, "I'm a happy dollar!" before placing it in the cash register.

As if that wasn't enough, as I walked away, Mr. Obvious New Best Friend Cashier Person said,

"'ppreciate you."

No, Sir. I 'ppreciate you.

And that's the end of our happy story.

Wasn't that happy?

I told a coworker what had happened at the tiny bookstore and she was touched. "Only you," she said (though I happen to believe Mr. Obvious New Best Friend Cashier Person would have been just as nice and silly with anyone).

I'm happy to say, also, that I like the memoir I bought. I'm about halfway done already.

Hey friends, look at that!

I just wrote a blog post!

Ta dah!

Big bloggy hugs.

Bailey

Wednesday, August 16, 2017

7 things I learned from being a kid

 
Today's blog post is brought to you from a prompt I found here.
 
1. We're emotional even before the hormones kick in.
 
People act like it's the teenager in you who really starts to get intense, but for me at least, feelings have always been intense. I remember screaming at my brothers with crazy rage as a child. Sobbing and feeling truly misunderstood. Giggling hysterically, so that as soon as I stopped I would start up again. I had insomnia as early as fourth grade, because of thoughts I couldn't put to sleep. I think it's easy to view children as entitled brats, but from my experience as one I think we're all just trying to make it through the day no matter what age we are. Our expression of stress (and reckless joy) may not be articulate when we're young, but the sentiment is certainly there.
 
2. Ignorance is Confidence.
 
The older (and more self-conscious) I get, the more I realize that I was my most confident self when I was 12. Man oh man, nothing could get me down. Well that's not true, but I certainly was less afraid. Of airplanes, the dentist, submitting things to a contest. I feel like the general view in life is that as you find yourself, you become more confident, but for me I seem to be more self-doubtful as life presents more choices and becomes more complicated.
 
3. Even though forward is hard, backwards isn't the direction I'm interested in.
 
"I wish I were a kid again" is, really, I think, something I've only thought in passing over the years. To be really depressing, I feel like if I went back I'd just have to trudge through troubles again, and who wants to relive a fight with someone, a skinned knee, or all that homework you agonized over once already?
 
Not I, Friends. Not I.
 
And to be a little less depressing, I just don't think going back is desirable. I'm ever grateful for the happy, safe childhood I was blessed with, but if I were to go back, I'd lose vocabulary, friends I've made, survival skills. I'd lose my college years, and I loved those!
 
Sure, my childhood included and was not limited to my brothers smashing watermelons in the backyard, but trust me: they haven't become any less entertaining with time. I love holding our memories and being adult communicators together still.
 
4. That attention span, though. 
 
Seriously. I could do all kinds of things, for hours on end, without getting bored, anxious, tired, or depressed. It was amazing.
 
I know I've written about this before, but I think the absurdity of it makes it worth mentioning again: I used to spend nearly full days cutting pictures of cows (actual animals, porcelain figurines in the likeness of a bovine, Got Milk? ads, etc.) from magazines, catalogs, newspapers, and rubber cementing them onto colored construction paper.
 
I would hand number the pages (which rotated through the rainbow and back again), hole punch them, and assemble them in MORE THAN ONE! binder. I would then deem these my "cow scrapbooks."
 
Why?
 
Because it provided me with endless joy, and that's all the reason one needs to do something as a child. Now that reality is something I'd like to go back and recapture.
 
5. Monkey bars give you blisters.
 
They do, and they hurt. I've had a lifelong method in place to avoid getting more of them, and when I do get the occasional blister, I won't lie: it feels a little like failure.
 
6. "Terrible things" (AKA middle school) can be great, if you're open to it.
 
It's not a rumor, it's true: I (by and large) loved middle school.
 
I knew while I was walking through it that I "should" be hyper aware of who I was, that I "should" feel out of place, but I didn't.
 
I wore Christian t-shirts and sang VeggieTales songs openly with (or should I say to? I'm not sure they were always joining in) my public school classmates. I liked the teachers that other kids hated. I enjoyed working on projects, mastering an essay, doing math problems over and over. In fact, all the way through senior year of high school, I did my math homework first, because I liked it so much. Having my own locker was so exciting to middle school me. Going on field trips with the band was always a highlight in my year.
 
I was so very ME at that age -- and happy with who I was -- that it didn't matter to me that my surroundings were supposed to be awful. I'm happy to say that in many ways I think I've held onto this value: that just because a circumstance is traditionally uncomfortable doesn't mean I have to approach it in a way that makes it destined to be so.
 
7. I have extreme respect and love for teachers.
 
Just today some people in my life were saying that I would be a great teacher to small children. I considered this a huge compliment, but my reaction was immediately one of, "Oh I could never."
 
Teachers, for one, never stop working. They plan lessons, get to school at the crack of dawn, are basically on stage all day, and then grade assignments (or pick up blocks, depending) after the little ones leave. I have secretly always wanted to teach, but truth be told I'm not sure I could take the heat! At the very least, I would need to work with high school or college age students, because to both educate and maintain order in a roomful of tots? Yeah, right. Only saints can do that, in my opinion.
 
Also, teachers have influenced and encouraged me so very, very much. Over the years, they have encouraged my curiosity, my nerdiness, my interest in writing. Like my love for cats or obsession over music, I may never be able to fully express in words just how grateful I am to the people who watched hyper little me squawk walk into their classroom and instead of rolling their eyes at my energy, took it and molded it, and then sent me on to my next year, my next classroom, my next step.
 
When you think about it, teachers say "goodbye" to more people than most of us -- hundreds, thousands of students throughout their career. But the fact that they're willing to say "hello" to all the personalities that grace their presence, to give those minds and hearts a chance: to that I will always say, Wow. And, if any of them are reading this: Thanks.

Friday, July 21, 2017

32 ways to turn a situation around (the belated birthday blog post)

  
Birthdays can't always be great. Statistically speaking, there's bound to be a dud in there once in a while. You'll eat too much cake and make yourself sick, or you'll drop your cake on the floor and be forced to bring gumdrops to share with your classmates instead (sadly this has actually happened to me). Or you'll turn 32 and be having a really hard day on the actual anniversary of your birth, hard enough that you'll cancel happy hour drinks with your friends because you're just not feeling happy.
  
THAT SUCKS.
  
But you get some distance from it, and you can see it as a statistical error and move forward.
  
This weekend I attended a spoken word event that I enjoyed very much, and the essay that was read that made me tear up was one that involved a birthday. The woman who wrote it spoke about being grateful on her 56th birthday.
  
And as my image of her in the auditorium grew blurry I thought, Bailey Kathleen, you are going to do your best not to waste another chance to celebrate the fact that you've had another year of life's gifts because when you're still here you celebrate that.
 
I happened to be sitting next to the essayist's brother in the audience, so I squeezed his arm when his sister finished her performance and told him how good she was, and made a pact with myself that I'll do better.
 
Starting now.
 
As you may know, I usually write an annual birthday blog post, but this past May 23rd I skipped it. I just couldn't muster the finger strength to type something hopeful that day. That sucks, but that's the truth.
 
But here it is now. Belated, but here. I present to you, 32 ways to turn a situation around. Or, as Gloria would say, turn the beat around.
 
Consider these my gumdrops, since my cake got dropped this year.
 
1. Drink some water, and go for a walk.
 
 Age old advice, and I think I subconsciously stole this from Anne Lamott, my queen. Water gets your insides moving and walking gets your outsides moving, both of which seem to get your head moving, out of its detrimental ruts. So when you're feeling negative, try these simple, free actions just to get you started toward something else. Don't worry about what that something else will be. Just focus on the glass of water, the 10 minute walk, first.
  
2. Write a note to someone (or send flowers, if you're rich)
  
I recommend using a card or postcard, so you don't feel obligated to write a novel. Limit your canvas. You don't have to say anything grand; tell someone what you had for lunch, that you saw her new haircut on Facebook and you love it. People always appreciate mail and I can basically promise that you'll feel good after spending five minutes writing a quick note to someone you care about.
  
3. Write a gratitude list
 
 I'll be telling you to do this until I'm 95 years old. Write down 10 things that are good in your day. "They had 2% milk out at the condiment station at Starbucks this morning, which I prefer to half and half." "I Skyped with my nephew today." "I organized my closet by color and it looks fun." There is research proving that this lifts your mood, so if you don't want to listen to me, then listen to the facts. Try it, you'll like it.
  
4. Say you're sorry
  
This one's hard. Really hard for me. But if you feel like you owe someone an apology, go out on that frightening limb and do it. Embrace the fear and freedom, the inner adult and child, the loosening of a grip, opening up to let something else in. Make room.
  
5. Break the silence
 
There are a few ways to do this. If things are simply too quiet, turn on some tunes. If a relationship is strained, reach out. Or if you simply haven't seen someone in ages, schedule a coffee date. Easy peasy.
 
 6. Change your activity
 
 If you're like me, it's easy to get stuck in a mood, in a thought, in a place of mental muck. So, as this whole post is aimed at, change it up. Even if you're doing something you love, try not to do it for hours on end. Because eventually it will become tiresome, and you'll start to think you don't like it anymore, when in reality you just need to get a drink of water, go for a walk, sort the mail, turn on some Motown. If you're enjoying yourself, by all means live in the moment, but try to keep things fluid.  
 
7. Take a shower/Groom
 
 Push back your cuticles. Wash your face. Floss your teeth. Particularly when I need to get pumped for a social event, I find that a little bit of tending to the finer details helps revive me tenfold. And when I really need a jumpstart/to put my game face on, I go for the big guns: mascara and lipstick. Not because wearing makeup makes me a better version of myself, but because it makes it harder for me to lie back down in bed and spend the evening alone. When I'm in a uniform of blush and eyeliner, I feel more ready to communicate with people, and for me, that's life.  
 
8. Say something honest
 
 Whatever it is, say it (though do avoid being mean, please). Offer a compliment. Tell someone you're feeling blue, and that you don't know why exactly. Tell someone you're feeling extra confident today, even if it's for no good reason. Let your therapist know you're nervous about today's session. Say to your friends, "Actually, I don't really want the garlic fries, can we get the regular?" Being honest is always a good place to start, because holding truth under the surface feels crummy.
 
9. Read to someone, even if it's yourself
 
 Kids are an excellent audience, because they're quick to giggle, plus their books are usually funnier than the ones meant for us adults. But also ask a grown up friend if you can read to them. They might look at you sideways, but then they might acquiesce to your request. I think being read to is something we never outgrow. There's something so soothing, so powerful, in words meeting the air. I read aloud to myself yesterday, and it made the content of the book more emotional than it would have been if I were to instead be silent. Plus I didn't want my space to be completely quiet, so problem solved.  
 
10. Find live music
 
Why live? Because it gets you out of the house, for one. Gets you around people, for two. And for three, there's a very specific power in live music. A disc spinning in our car (yes, some of us still use CDs) can heal, absolutely, but in the way words being read aloud from a book can give them sudden, new might, such is the same when a voice pipes through a microphone and is born out of an amp -- mysterious changes happen in the people who hear it. Their bodies lean and sway with a ballad, dance with a jam, let go when a musician's heart breaks open on stage. There is tremendous community, peace, and happiness at a concert (and no, I don't use recreational drugs, if you're wondering) that I'll never quite be able to explain, something that I wish more people sought after because it has certainly helped make my life all the better and I know it could do the same for so many more out there.  
 
11. Use your voice
  
I recently read a memoir about a singer I love. Not only did it blow me out of the water, but I found myself getting jealous of musicians as I turned the pages. Don't get me wrong, by and large I love being a writer and feel called to sit in front of a computer screen and connect with the home row keys on a serious level. But I wanted to be able to go that step further and use my literal, actual voice to get a greater emotional release from my work and my art. So one day I decided to go ahead and do it. I wrote a poem and went to an open mic and read it out loud to a room of strangers and friends. I was in the midst of a tough season and I needed to remind myself that I had a voice. So, I did what I needed to do.

For you, this might look like going to karaoke night, or confessing a crush to your best friend, or maybe just admitting in your journal that you hate staying out past 10. Just don't forget that you have a voice. Please. It's important.

12. Visit a cashier

In other bossy words: Do. Not. Isolate!!!

I have a rule about getting out of the house every day, which goes along with my rule about changing up my activities every few hours -- so that I don't get stuck in a sour mood because I didn't let my brain air out to do its calisthenics. Even so, there are days where I just don't feel like doing a whole lot. But even on the days that I'm really bumming, if I go to the grocery store and buy a toothbrush, those 30 seconds of interacting with the clerk who scans my Ralphs rewards card helps; the simple kindness, a quiet smile. Yes, try and get out and walk around and see the roses, but try and interact with a human if you can. We were made for community. We just were, no way around it.

13. Add color

Color!!! I love color!!! I'm so drawn to it it's ridiculous. Buy the bright watermelon instead of the drab banana. Wear your neon green sports bra to the gym. Paint your toes with dollar store coral polish. Fluff regal, eggplant sheets over your bed and pretend your crown is being polished by the king. Don't settle for black and white; they make life's edges too sharp, and we all need a little cushion.

14. Tidy up

If you're not great at this, don't worry, I'm not scoldin', because I'm the worst about cleaning my space. But it's sooooooo helpful. Getting yourself moving, seeing your environment more at ease and open, and knowing that you had a part in it -- these are all great things for boosting your mood. And it feels so good to literally make your bed and then lie in it, and look around at the books all in line on the shelf, the piles on the desk less askew.

15. Show up

To work, to your lunch date, to church, to the baby shower. Just get there. After feeling gipped on my birthday this year, I was really nervous to go to another woman's birthday party the following month. I thought I might see her surrounded by so many friends and crumple with jealousy. So I turned on some good music, texted my honest feelings to friends who I feel safe with, wrote a kind note to the birthday girl, and got myself gussied up for the soiree. By the time I got in my Uber, I was genuinely jibber jabbering with my driver, excited to go celebrate the beautiful girl who deserved to have all the friends show up for her party. The idea of showing up can seem frightening, but I think staying home can more times than not ultimately make us feel worse.

16. Order a pizza

This life tactic has always worked wonders for me, even after I've begun to doubt its ability to be effective over time. Basically anything with a strong background in tomato and cheese, such as spaghetti with a heap of parmesan on top ("It's like you're seven," says Alex), really helps me, consistently. Find the flavor combo that best works for you, and go after it. In times of crisis, don't worry so much about getting your greens. Worry about balming your heart (and reviving it with a little salt).

17. Name your fear

You don't have to tackle it. Just get it out there. Tell a friend. A counselor. Your journal. You'll realize half your work is already done once you've spoken the Big Bad Words aloud to the universe.

18. Phone a friend

We've got friends for a reason, am I right or am I right? They love you, you love them, (please sing this to the tune of the Barney song), so pick up the phone and for crying out loud already dial your friendssssss! I know sometimes you don't want to be the mess calling with your sob story, but just do it. Seriously, your friends love you and they want you to call. They'd want you to answer if it were them in pain, and you'd want them to call you if they were unhappy, instead of holding back.

19. Find a voice that sounds like your own, and dance in the harmony

No, I'm not talking about a love connection. Although I am, sort of, just of the literary variety. Once you find your Anne Lamott, or Donald Miller, or Marisa de los Santos or whoever else speaks this human experience through a lens that seems like your exact prescription, down to the astigmatism and cat-eye frames you love from Warby Parker, then go ahead: unabashedly gobble up all their words, digest them and go back for seconds. It's such. a huge. huge. HUGE. gift in this world to find writers who speak directly to our hearts and our heads, so if you find solace in burying your nose in their entire repertoire, by all means go for it. Doctor's orders.

20. Engage your body

Like saying sorry (and forgiving), I'm not great at this. I've always been more of a thinker than a doer. But whether I'm bending down to pick up clothes off the floor, spritzing some Windex on the bathroom mirror, or (imagine!) participating in an athletic activity, I can't help but feel a teeny weeny bit -- or a lot -- better than when I started.

21. Call your parents
 
If you have no other motivation to do this, do it for them. They always want to hear from you. Plus I find that even when I think I have nothing to say to my parents, I usually find something to discuss. These people diapered me and paid for my college, not to mention love the heck out of me with all my quirks and moods, so when I need a boost in feeling loved and cared for, calling Mommy and Daddy is usually a great idea.

22. Put something on the calendar
 
Now, equally helpful in reducing stress can be to take something off the calendar, but when you're feeling down in the dumps, schedule something! A cheap concert, a movie date, spaghetti night with a couple from the synagogue. When the immediate future is just a vague blob, it feels like just that: a blob. Make things less blobby and give yourself something finite to look forward to.
 
23. Unplug
 
Like many of the items on this list, this one's hard...at first. And I will make the disclaimer that music is still allowed if you should decide to take a break from media. But I find it surprisingly refreshing -- and not that terrifying! -- to set a timer on my phone for an hour, text my boyfriend to tell him I'm going off the grid, and tuck it in my desk drawer. Then I clean, talk to the roomies, sort papers, smooch on Max, etc. Truly, by the time the timer goes off, I'm usually game for more time unplugged, rather than staring at the clock willing the hour to be over.
 
24. MEDITATE
 
I highly recommend the Headspace and Calm apps for your smartphone, both of which have several free meditation sessions, or you can upgrade for a cost. You can listen to stories to help you fall asleep, or simply sit through a 10 minute guided talk that helps you focus on your breathing. It goes quickly, and it really helps filter out the rest of the world. Wildly helpful and worth a try.
 
25. Talk to the Big Guy
 
Surprisingly, with all my Jesus talk and whatnot, I don't do a lot of this. But when I'm feeling reeeeally tenuous, I call out. I usually don't say much. Something along the lines of, "You know what's up. Help. I'm not sure what to do. Send your angels to protect me. Bring peace to this impossible blender of a mind I have that seems to be stuck on frappe. Love, Me."
 
And that's it. Then I sigh, and go back to overthinking, but try my very bestest to think a little less hard. I pull into a gas station and get Cool Ranch Doritos and a Diet Coke and maybe a giant bottle of chilled water, too. I phone a friend, and I usually try to quit driving around and instead point the car home. I do some grooming, turn on familiar television that's sensitive to the dramatic among us, something like Felicity, something that's quiet but not too sad and that will make me laugh some, too.
 
And almost always, after an hour or so, I find that He's heard me.
 
26. ACCEPT! the FACT! that it's NEVER TOO LATE!
 
The fact that milk expiration dates are really more of a give-or-take suggestion is proof of this (otherwise why would we smell it?). My grandmother receiving her college diploma at the age of 80 is proof. This belated birthday blog post is proof. Grace is proof. Need more proof? Oh, I'll prove it.
 
27. Pet something soft
 
Always a good suggestion, especially if this something purrs. But we all know I'm horribly biased in this area of the animal kingdom. What? Isn't there research that if more of your senses are engaged (a mysterious rumbling emitting from an animal's core that you can feel and hear...?), then something is better for you? Hmmmmmm?
 
28. Talk to someone who's young
 
They have it more figured out than we think. Give them credit, and be open to how they might help and teach you.
 
29. Talk to someone who's old
 
Because Lord knows they've learned some things and have good things to say about hope and life and things moving on. So go knock on a door and invited yourself in. Make a fresh pot of coffee and have a listen.
 
30. Rustle your pom pons
 
Be a cheerleader! Fake it 'til you make it! Rah rah rah! Do this for yourself and do this for others. Even if you feel like you-know-what, look at it this way: it can't hurt to try and cheer yourself up. Moreover, when others are trying to cheer you up, recognize that they're making the effort, and that means they care about you and that means a lot. Count the blessing and wave those spirit fingers high!
 
31. Participate in retail therapy (the library counts as a store)
 
Try not to go nuts, because overspending makes us all feel worse, but it's really OK to up and go to Target once in a while. Really. Get yourself a Starbucks before you grab your red cart. Take your time. Stroll. Buying yourself a little something you don't need can go a long way on a hard day.
 
32. Shamelessly ask for love
 
You might be laughing, but I mean this with all my heart. A friend of mine did this the other day and I'm so proud of her and happy she did. She asked for words of encouragement when she needed them and I was more than happy to swoop in and supply some. This past Sunday, as Alex and I parked the car at a friend's apartment, we got out of the Corolla and I said, "Can I have a hug?" "Of course," he replied, "You can always have hugs." He held my delicate self close, and then I was stronger and more ready to enter into life.
 
Whether you need a prayer, a nice word said about you, to sleep over because you're afraid to be alone, or anything else -- ASK. Because you're worth it, baby. You deserve to be loved, and to have your tanks filled, now and tomorrow.
 
See Y'all in 10 months for the next birthday post.
 
Xox,
The Birthday Girl