Thursday, December 28, 2017
Tuesday, December 19, 2017
Saturday, December 16, 2017
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.
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.
Thursday, December 7, 2017
Wednesday, December 6, 2017
Wednesday, November 29, 2017
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
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
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.
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
Saturday, November 18, 2017
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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,
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!
Big bloggy hugs.