Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Blockades to happiness (list #6)

List the things (from your past and present) that feel like blockades in the way of happiness
Loneliness -- I've been lonely in a church that was very large. I felt sad driving there, sad during coffee hour after service, sad for the rest of the day. The church was great and doing great things for people's faith lives and for the lives of the disenfranchised in the city, but I was lost within its sea of attendees.
I was lonely as a single person, because I wanted my complementary person, but I was also lonely as someone who needed (needs) a lot of time with people, and needs a lot of real, attentive time with people. In the times when I was on the outskirts of a community/clique/group, I could break my way in to make casual acquaintances, but at times in my life I have lacked that sit-and-talk-for-hours-and-hours-day-after-day thing with people. That thing is very important to me; vital, in fact.
Lots of wandering in the desert -- I've spent a LOT of my adult life wondering what I'm doing. In a certain job, in a region, interacting regularly with certain people. From the big picture, "What am I doing with my life?" to the everyday, "What should I do right now? Eat? Read? Clean?", I have been really worn down by being uncertain about my next (or current) step.
Not having a cat -- There is a marked difference in the times in my life when I didn't have a cat and when I did. Thank the good Lord I have one now; and he's a great one to boot.
Not feeling needed enough -- This could be as simple as my need for attention, but when surrounded by people who have a clear role, people who are called upon to do or provide certain things for others, I have spent a lot of my life feeling like I had nothing to offer -- at least not something that was being requested.
Today I can say I feel needed or desired in many ways. I feel valuable in the lives of my cat, my boyfriend, my friends, in my church, and in my vocation as a writer.
Saying "no" too much -- For a long time (and to some degree, still today) I would say "no" to things too often and too quickly. I wouldn't let "yes" be an option for anything that scared me, anything that my family would turn its nose up at. Unless someone had already verbalized that I was already capable of something, then I wouldn't consider it as something at which I could succeed. The breaking point in my life for this was when I applied to an internship at a business journal, got it, and moved to California for it. Things have been very different since then.
Living under grey skies -- Growing up a child of the Midwest, I never thought twice about my native climate. But toward the end of my run there, I realized loud and clear that grey skies were not for me and my gravitation to melancholy.
I'm not writing full time -- I know that if and when I am writing full time, it will present its own set of challenges. But I think I'd feel very differently about life if I were writing day in and out, breathing Microsoft Word.
My weight -- I've gained 30 pounds in about three years. I still consider myself relatively attractive in many ways, but I don't feel like me.
My apathy toward exercise -- I wish I had that natural energy and desire to move that I used to have. It seems to have escaped me entirely. I miss it so much, and I'm not sure I can muster it by sheer will.
Lethargy -- I just feel bored and apathetic, not like me, not like I can flip a switch and suddenly be peppy or interested. I think my meds are to blame for this, largely. What's that? Call your psychiatrist? Fine...
Generalized crankiness -- I've kind of turned into a crotchety person lately. This needs to stop.
Feeling misunderstood -- Particularly in today's national climate, I am having a very difficult time injecting my thoughts and feelings into things without everything feeling like it's derailing or turning into a fight. I've kept silent a bunch, and while at times that feels like the good, right, and salutary thing to do, I also wonder if this is a time that my mouth should be wide open. I shed many tears over this, unexpectedly, last night.
Saying "yes" too much -- I feel like I say "yes" to too many small things, things that may be serving a good purpose, but in which I don't necessarily need to be involved. This leads to a lot of stress, and sometimes anger, I think.
Both past and present:
Struggling to balance my intro/extroversion -- When I'm alone too long (which doesn't have to be very long at all), I get lonely and depressed, agitated. When I have things on the calendar, I just want to be alone. It's very difficult at times, deserving of accompanying drama.
Not being on the right meds, or dosage -- This should speak for itself. Meds exist to create balance, and if one is not on the right cocktail, she stumbles emotionally. This can be incredibly difficult, and I applaud all who are patient and tough enough to weather it, those who trust enough in a hopeful future to keep tinkering with milligram amounts.
Not having a group of friends -- I am often dumbstruck at the quantity and quality of friends I have. I am so overly supported, entertained, and encouraged, every single day of this damn lucky life of mine. But I have very rarely been within a group of people, and I think only in the eighth grade was I maybe something of a ringleader in a group.
I feel SO loved by my friends. I have received some of the nicest words from people over the years. But there is something incredibly heartbreaking that hits me every once in a while -- a feeling that I don't belong.
I think many people would look at my life and think I have no reason to complain, and in many ways I would agree with them. But I am being truthful when I say some of the hardest moments for me have been at times when I felt like my Rolodex was full, but that I was an interloper. And almost every time I catch myself in such a moment, I wonder if things would be different if I had a solid group of friends. I have solid friends, for sure for sure for sure, but they are here and there and everywhere.
Not eating super well -- If I ate more snap peas and fewer McDoubles, I'm sure I'd feel better. Sure of it.
Being easily affected by others' emotions -- I do think I'm getting better at this. But if people are upset, or particularly if they are fighting with someone, I take it on. I know it's not my responsibility to fix life for them, but it's hard for me not to feel negative or tense when others around me are being negative.
Feeling left out -- This is very similar to the no group of friends issue. But there is something specific in its own way about feeling left out. This also has to do with not having a role. Since discovering my place as a writer, I've felt better about the role thing. It doesn't happen too often that I feel left out, but it does still happen.
Feeling like life is on hold -- whenever I feel like my hands are tied to change jobs, start school, or move to a new location, I get real out of sorts. However, when I'm in school, even if I'm stressed out beyond belief, I never find myself aching for the working world.
Well, this was a happy go lucky post! :) I think the next list is a little more positive. Stay tuned.

Monday, January 30, 2017

The best choices I've made so far

List #5:
List the best choices you have made in your life so far
Walking in the doors at Bethel.
Meeting Alex for drinks on December 15, 2014.
Adopting Max.
Moving to California.
Applying to Mizzou in the first place (I was a staunch Jayhawk for a long time, who wasn't ready for MU), and then going to school there.
Going to church most Sundays throughout my life -- particularly when I wasn't too interested in a particular church, or the whole getting-up-on-Sundays thing in general.
Not drinking in high school, and being relatively alcohol free during college.
Reading for pleasure.
Writing outside of school.
In the face of fights, never saying that I was forever done communicating with a sibling or parent. I've always let there be a tomorrow with them.
Sticking it out when I was unemployed in 2013, and then accepting a job through a temp agency.
Not buying a house.
Doing things in public on my own -- going out to eat, watching a movie in a theater, attending a concert. I prefer to do all these activities in company, but I'm glad I didn't miss out on things simply because a friend wasn't available to join me.
Keeping in touch with old friends.
Not letting fashion and makeup take up much of my time.
Going to therapy and taking psychotropic medication.
Listening to several genres of music, and going to lots of live shows.
Moving forward. Even when I've been scared, more than once, that I've been to a place too dark to ever recover, I've always fought. Even when I've come into the light and the memory of the dark is still tender and awful and terrifying, I have moved forward. I got out of bed, I called people when in tears, when the last thing I wanted to do was share my tears. I went to work. I tried to find the joy when others couldn't see it, and I realized how hard people were trying when they showed me the light. I recognized that people care about me. I believed there's someone bigger who cares about me, and all of us, and I kept keepin' on. And I keep keepin' on. That's one of my best decisions. I'm ever grateful to all the examples of people who have done the same.

What gets me out of my head

For those just joining us, welcome to the journal/blog party! I'm journeying through the lists in this book, and it's time to explore #4:
List the things that get you out of your head
I'm tempted to say this should be a non-list, a list with zero items on it. I feel like I'm always in my head. My head swirls with thoughts, and those thoughts are rarely unaccompanied by language (I think some people think in images or colors, but I always have words with me).
Thinking is a habit, a hobby, a pastime for me. When I was a kid and we were on a road trip, after dark when I couldn't read anymore, I would just look out the window and think, content as could be. It wasn't until I hit an age where insomnia became a regular thing that I started to think my thinking was something of a curse.
There are things that make me pretty content. Things that shush the anxiety a bit, things that have less to do with words and analyzing and racing to make connections of ideas and thoughts, but more to do with being one with the moment that is. Those things are listed as follows.
Cross stitching.
Petting a cat (particularly Max) and listening to its purr. Cupping his soft belly in my palm and laying my head on his side, getting lost in the rumble.
Listening to "Re: Stacks" by Bon Iver.
Seeing Rachael Yamagata in concert.
Watching a Kathleen Madigan comedy special.
Watching Felicity.
FaceTiming with Nick.
Slow dancing with Alex. With our foreheads pressed together, I look into his eyes with no fear, and I think, "Wow."
Sipping wine with my parents.
At the very beginning of this video, just after she sings, "Where the spirit of the Lord is," and she laughs -- it's very brief, but I love it, and get goose bumps most of the time when I watch/listen to it.
I don't know if it totally gets me out of my head, but I zone out somethin' powerful when I'm getting a pedicure.
Those who know me will laugh, considering my too-high tolerance for messes, but when I'm cleaning and organizing, I get pretty blissful and in a rhythm. Oftentimes when I clean, I get mad at myself for being so messy in the first place, but at some point I hit a sweet spot where I am just shuffling stuff around and I'm not really thinking about the mess that's there or how beautiful everything will look after I clean. I'm just happy to be fitting things in spaces, dusting surfaces, shelving books. There's something about it.
That's most of what I can think of, Friends. I thought about putting other things on this list: talking to strangers, reading, getting a massage. Though I enjoy the heck out of those things, I'm very much in my head when I do them. This was a good challenge to think of what really gets me away from the grey matter. I challenge you to try it. Ready go!
Be back soon.
-- BB

Friday, January 27, 2017

List #3: Things I'm really good at

List the things that you are really good at
Hmm, let's see...It's a little weird to list these things publicly. I suppose, if I may be so bold, I will list the things that either I think I am good at and/or that other people have told me I am good at. Please take issue with anything you feel I am not good at in the comments. :)
OK here we go:
Talking to strangers.
Being the loudest person in the room, so that others feel less self conscious and are therefore more likely to participate in the conversation/activity at hand.
Not panicking when (concrete) negative things happen -- car troubles, for example. I'm pretty good at stepping back, looking at what I can do to solve the problem, being kind to the people around me who offer to help, and then seeing the silver linings. (I'm not as great at not panicking when I have more vague struggles with anxiety, depression, etc.).
Cat calling at concerts. I think I do a pretty good job making musicians feel like someone is listening.
Being patient with many diverse personalities. I have a big family and a lot of friends -- many people in my life who are very different from each other. I think I'm pretty good at being with people of different political and religious beliefs, people with varying appreciations of the arts and sports, dog and cat people, and finding something to talk about. I don't get into arguments, but (I think) I still stay true to who I am in the presence of someone who has vastly different opinions than I do. I don't lie about my feelings in order to put someone at ease, but I think I'm good at putting people at ease, and finding something endearing about them.
Sleeping. I can go to bed early and sleep for 10 hours a night.
Being relatively generous. Material things don't hold a ton of value to me, and I'm often willing to part with them.
Being up early. Note I didn't say getting up early, because it is hard for me to get out from under the warm blankets, away from the snuggly tiger cat. But once I sit up or get out of bed, I'm fine. I can legitimately carry on a pleasant conversation at 3 a.m., even if I was sleeping moments before.
Editing written documents. I'm not 100 percent well versed in grammatical rules, but I'm pretty good at line editing and also providing feedback about big picture elements. I can implement changes and maintain a writer's original voice.
Petting cats. Ask any cat anywhere. My method is foolproof, and thanks to many years of stroking furry nuggets. I can give even the shyest of felines something to appreciate.
Drinking beverages. For as long as I can remember, I have always been more thirsty than hungry. It's hard for me to turn down something to wet my whistle. Unless it's lemonade or whiskey, and sometimes I don't want water.
Talking about mental health. I'll tell you anything about me that has to do with dark, scary places. And I'll listen to the nitty gritty that anyone has to tell me. Thoughts of suicide, irrational fears, panic attacks -- I'll chat about any and all of it. My door's always open.
All righty, I think that's a pretty good list for now.
What are you good at? Write it down. It might make you feel good.

Thursday, January 26, 2017

List #2: Routine

If you're just joining us, I've decided to embark on some sort of journal journey. I say "some sort" because I don't know how long this journey will last or how sporadic my involvement will be.
You can read more in yesterday's post, but essentially, I found a journal that explores 52 writing prompts (all in list form), and I think they're each interesting enough to blog. Of course, I won't stick strictly to the list thing, because I'm verbose and like to, well, be verbose, and add my thoughts of explanation and justification beyond just listing a few words.
Without further ado, let's move on to prompt #2:
List the routines in your personal life
As an adult, I haven't thought of myself as a routine person. I probably am more than I realize, but I just look at people who actually eat breakfast every day, who come home and make some sort of meal for dinner, who wash their face every night before bed, and I think: those people are routine people.
There are things I do every day -- brush my teeth, drink coffee, smooch Max, read -- but I don't always do them on the same timetable. And I've never thought of myself as someone who gets really off kilter when something doesn't go according to schedule. Without an actual schedule, how can things not go according to it? To me, a day is just a day. They're all similar in ways, but also different.
But I guess they're more similar to each other than they're not. Hmm.
OK moving on. Let's examine a day in the life, shall we?
I usually wake up around 3 a.m. I don't know why, I just do. Lately I've been having weird/unhappy dreams, but I generally wake up even without a bad dream. I usually get up to pee, touch the cat who's at my feet or near my torso, and check my phone for texts I've missed.
My alarm starts to go off around 6:30, and I snooze it -- a LOT.
I finally reach a point where I think, "Oh wow, I have to get up now."
I pet Max, because I can't resist. I pee. I pick out a pair of black pants, and a work-appropriate top. I put on deodorant. I feed Max, pick him up and pet him for five seconds, until he squirms away. I give him one more squish and release him to his bowl of kibble.
I check for my keys, wallet, and phone, and my work badge. I put them in a tote bag and make sure I have a book. Usually all of these items are on my bed, where I have slept with them all night. I grab my prescription drugs and add them to my tote.
I turn off the space heater, say bye to Max, close my door. On a good day, I grab a breakfast and lunch item from the kitchen on the way out. I check that the appliances are turned off, that the fridge door is closed. I put on shoes. And I head to work.
I usually charge my phone during my drive to work. I usually listen to a CD, which currently is on the rotation of my entire CD collection, which I'm listening to in its entirety (I'm thinking of abandoning this project, however).
Once in a blue moon, I stop for coffee, but mostly I just go straight to work. Straight shot north, then straight shot east.
When I get to work, I usually make coffee first thing. Dump my bag in my office, grab a K cup and a mug, and head to the office kitchen.
I sip my java while checking emails. Throughout the day, I answer emails from the top down. Meaning I answer the most recent one first; I realize this probably is not the smartest method, but it's how I roll.
There is a giant printer in my office, which is old and overworked, so it jams a lot and is touchy if you haven't selected the right paper drawer. I answer a lot of questions and punch buttons to fix people's printing woes.
I go to the mailroom a few times a day. I drop off empty interoffice envelopes, pick up new ones full of paper.
I sort paper, respond to emails, take phone calls, process record requests. I giggle with my coworkers.
On breaks, I walk outside, read, write notes to friends.
I listen to music all day.
I set up for meetings, attend and take minutes, clean up snack wrappers and do follow up.
At 5, I drive home.
Oftentimes I stop at 7 Eleven, buying bananas, milk, wine, beer, chips. Cat food.
I get home, greet Maxy Wax, feed him.
Turn on the space heater. Grab a drink and a snack, depending on hunger levels, and sit in bed. Pull the covers over my legs, cue up Netflix. I used to surf Facebook for a long time first, but I'm taking a break from that.
I stay seated for a long time, pausing the movie/show I'm watching to text, to get snacks, to take a shower.
Once in a blue moon, I wash my face before bed. I brush my teeth.
I crawl (back) in bed, text Alex good night, lie on my stomach, read until I'm dozing off, sometimes read a little bit longer than that. Set an alarm, conk out.
Wake up around 11 p.m. Check texts. Conk back out.
Is that a depressing routine? I feel like it sounds depressing. But it keeps me relatively content. At times it involves more cross stitching -- like, a lot more cross stitching. Back in the day it involved a lot more exercise.
On many nights I meet Alex for dinner or happy hour or a concert, which is why on the other nights I Netflix and read while I can. I love my boo, and I love my alone time.
This is life as I know it, for the moment. I like that texts from Alex and purrs from Max are in each day.

Wednesday, January 25, 2017

What makes me happy right now: a list

I've curbed my Buzzfeed habit quite a bit, but occasionally I still stumble over there and find some things that are notable.
Today I found a journal that I thought of buying. I resisted immediately buying it, particularly after I found that when I use the "Look inside" feature, I can read the table of contents, which gives me all the info I need to fill out the journal on my own, without actually having it in my hot little hands.
The journal is a compilation of 52 lists for happiness. I thought, Hmm, these are very bloggable.
Now, I'm not the type of blogess or person to promise something such as: Every week I will respond to one of these prompts and blog it for you.
Here's why I won't promise that: because it may not happen. I don't want to hold myself to a task that, while a worthwhile one, is not necessary. Because if I don't do it, I'll potentially upset readers, and I might upset myself for not living up to something. I think if I'm going to get upset for not doing things it should be things like brushing my teeth and being nice to people. If I'm not doing those things, I should get angry with Bailey Kathleen. But I don't need to berate myself for not journaling via blog once a week. No point.
So anywho. What I am willing to "promise" you is that today I will write my response to the first prompt in the journal. Which is: List what makes you happy right now.
I know that what I wrote earlier today is kind of along these exact same lines, but I'm going to do this prompt anyway.
So let's do this:
First, let me say that I'm going to define "right now" as this month, more or less. January 2017. K? Great.
What makes me happy right now
by Bailey Brewer
  • Max. I love that he wants to be in my lap or at least on the bed pretty much all the time. I love when I don't realize he's in the closet and I see his little face peeking out from my clothes. I love picking him up and lifting his squirmy back feet into my palm and then fingering the white bib under his chin. I love his rumbling purr and that he's never slow to exude it.
  • Writing letters. I love that there is limited space in a stationery card to write, so that I can be done in a few minutes. I love that my sloppy handwriting is legible enough, because I don't want to have to slow down in order to make my script decipherable and I don't want to be forced to type because that looks so much less personal. I love thinking of why people make me happy and putting that in writing. I love writing about whatever I want -- what I ate for breakfast, the book I just read; there are no rules, and there needn't be an occasion to warrant a letter. I love letting the people I love know that they are important to me and that I think of them even when they're not around. I love that I'm using up my vast collection of greeting cards, and I don't mind that I will soon have to buy more stamps.
  • The break from Facebook. Facebook has long been a quick hit for me, my #1 way to waste time. I am so frightened and upset and overwhelmed these days, though, with all the news and everyone's opinions. I understand a lot of those opinions, agree with a lot of them, but I'm so sensitive to the noise. There's very little nice swirling around on the Internet, and when there is a lot of it is a counteraction to the not nice, rather than being organic. Don't get me wrong, I'm trying to inject as much happy as I can in social media, to counteract the not happy, but it's saddening to see so many positive things being prefaced with something about how we all need it. I guess I don't want to think about everything being gone to s*** and so we have to force ourselves to be happy. I just want to focus on the positive and let more positive breed from that. I don't know if I'm making sense. Anyway, all that to say, that while I miss having a social media fun place to poke around in, I think it's good to interact more with other things in this world -- books, friends, strangers, corners of my life that need to be organized.
  • Discovering great movies. My favorite things I've seen on Netflix, all that were new to me, are: Night Owls, Little Sister, and Beautiful Girls. They all made me feel good, left me ruminating, and/or gave me the urge to tell others about them.
  •  My clean-ish room. In a scramble for two dear friends to come visit last weekend, I worked and worked to get my space so much cleaner than it has been. My closet is not Martha Stewart approved, but it is very organized. I have a lot of clothes, still, but I'm happier with my pared down collection than what was there in excess before. I feel way less stressed and shameful sitting in my room now, and when my friends were in town I wasn't embarrassed about trash or a smelly litter box, etc. etc. I could focus on hosting, rather than tucking things out of view.
  • Connecting. I just had the best time at Alex's birthday party this week. It was one of those perfect nights where I was perfectly on. I was almost hyper, but not quite. I was chatty, but able to listen. I enjoyed so many of the people I talked to. I enjoyed that the bar wasn't super crowded. I loved that probably two thirds of the people inside were there for Alex; he's so well loved and deserves to be. The pizza we had delivered was cold by the time it got to me (I gave the birthday boy first dibs), but still yummy, and I was grateful for the nourishment. For once in my life the people around me were more important than the disc of cheesy, saucy bread before me.* I liked that feeling. I regretted my hangover the next day, but I didn't regret the social interactions.
*That makes me sound like a total jerk. I don't know what to do with that. But this is a journal entry; people make ugly confessions in journals, yes?
All right, Homies, I feel like that's enough for now. What makes you happy right now?

Things that are swell in my life today

I'm wearing a cozy sweater/sweatshirt hybrid. It's a beautiful shade of blue, not at all scratchy. A little short in the torso, but warm.
I ate a giant bag of Salsa Verde Doritos, which were delicious, and I still have calories left in my daily allotment.
Yesterday I posted a picture of some books I'm done with, and I got takers for four of the five that I photographed. Now I get to hand deliver or mail them, and write notes to accompany the latter. I used to think handwriting notes was worth doing, but I didn't really enjoy the task. Now I can say I genuinely enjoy writing the notes. And affixing minion stickers to the backs of envelopes.
I own approximately 10 blankets, which is way more than one person needs. But I love all their colors and varying degrees of fuzziness, and they keep me so warm in my not-so-insulated apartment.
When I woke up this morning and looked at Max, I promise you he was smiling back. He did lots of purring this a.m., and got lots of smoochy squishes.
I have too many friends to keep up with, and that is just an amazing thing to be true in one's life.
I had a ruthless headache yesterday, and I slept it off finally. Feel content as sunshine today.
I brought my lunch to work, so I can pat myself on the back for not spending money. And it's veggie soup with noodles, mmmm.
Water isn't boring to me right now. Oftentimes it's the last thing I want to drink, but currently the thought of filling up a glass and drinking it while I Netflix is not a thing I dread.
Someone asked me how Alex's birthday party was, and I was pleased to say that he has so many kind friends who love him, who came out on a Monday night and plied him with hugs and tiki drinks.
My parents will be in California in two weeks!!!
My bedroom is QUITE clean, so I don't have to totally scramble for their arrival.
I'm actually somewhat motivated to clean out the trunk of my car.
I've cancelled several memberships, so less money is being sucked from my account lately.
Abby's going to cut my hair soon.
I watched Beautiful Girls last night, and loved it. I can't put my finger on what made it so good, but it was just great.
What's good in your life today? See if you can think of five to 10 things. Write 'em down. Feel the lift.

Monday, January 23, 2017

In which I dream of Blanket Mountain

I don't normally nap. I'm not good at it. I lie there and my brain just continues in its usual squirrel mode and it's hopeless so I give up.
But today. Oh, today, I'm willing to wager a medical professional would write me a note for a nap.
It's not because I'm that tired. I mean I am sleepy, fatigued. But it's more that anytime someone opens their mouth I want to roar back.
That's a problem. A problem warranting a nap.
All I'm really thinking about today is blankets. I want to be under a mountain of blankets. Warm. Heavy. Warm.
I want to put my arms around Max and squish his fur and kiss his face.
I'm on my second cup of coffee. Listening to sleepy music, because anything too poppy will make me really unpopular with those around me. I love T. Swift and some Biebs tunes, but not right now. No thank you.
I watched a made-for-TV Christmas movie last night and didn't hate it. This isn't a huge surprise, but a little bit of a surprise.
My sweater is a hand-me-down. It's soft and green -- two things I love -- but it's a little oversized. I'm irritated by the excess fabric on the sleeves.
I'm irritated by everything today, though.
I do look like a Girl Scout, I realized, and admittedly this was not a sad realization. The green in my sweater and the brown in the shirt peeking out at the collar are just screaming Thin Mints. Paired with my conservative skirt, I look positively juvenile. I don't hate this, because it's fitting.
I sat in my car at lunch, and fitfully hoped to be less fitful.
I listened to meditation music. I read half a page of a book. I ate snacks. I got thirsty. It started to rain and I listened to the gentle rapping on the roof of the Corolla Coaster.
It's my Honey Muffin's birthday today. I've spent two full years of his life with him, and I love that. I'm overwhelmed by that -- how amazing that I've been so privileged to do so.
I want to pop popcorn and snuggle on the couch. I want to talk to Max as he saunters by and then scratch the top of his head when he squishes alongside my leg.
I don't know if I want to read, or write, or watch a movie or stitch.
But I want blankets on me. Blankets are the best.

Sunday, January 22, 2017

Let's examine our emotions! (and pray about laughter and rain)

It's weird being such an emotional person.

It's weird being me, I guess I should say.

I just dropped two precious friends at the airport, then drove home in the rain. I stopped to get cat food, then came home and wanted nothing more than to crawl in bed with fresh, dry clothes, covered in blankets, with a Max snuggled in tight and warm, and to watch Netflix.

I've got the Max, the blankies, the Netflix.

But I paused the cheesy Christmas movie.

I thought about stitching.

I sudoku-ed.

I got on Facebook, very briefly.

I read an email about politics and got nervous.

I saw a post about the womens' marches and had many mixed emotions (which I'm not discussing here or now).


A friend asked me recently if I was OK. She said she'd seen three or four social media posts recently that made her think maybe I wasn't OK.

I like it when my friends are concerned about me, but I don't like it when they worry.

I don't know.

To be honest, I think I might be drugged out. I'm not thrilled with the amount of psychotropic drugs I'm on at the moment, and for the first time ever, I feel weird about it. I feel like it's maybe too much. I never used to feel that my pills erased Bailey, but I kind of feel a rubber pink nub nudging against my edges, threatening to take away my spunk.

I just feel bored, or tired, or unenthused, most of the time anymore.


Sometimes when I feel off, I want to run down the path that makes everything blown up in my mind. Everything is permanent, not fluid. If I feel bummed now, I will feel bummed forever. That's not truth, but it's hard for me to think, "Just give it an hour. See how you feel then."

Right now, for instance, I'm asking: "What is wrong with me?" It's great and important to ask about my medication. I plan to talk to a psychiatrist (maybe a different one than I'm currently seeing) and speak candidly about the recent blase. But even in planning good steps to take, I shouldn't be ignoring what's happening right now that could be making me feel temporarily off.

It's not natural for me to think in a way that pinpoints the moment itself, but maybe the question for this moment in front of me should be: "What's up with my current surroundings and situation?"

One of my best friends just came to visit me, and now he's gone. Though it's maybe not on the surface that I miss him already, I of course would love for him to still be here. I'm grateful I got time with him at all, but I could always use more time.

Max is right by my feet, and he's keeping them exceptionally warm. I'm very pleased about this.

It's been raining a lot lately. I love rain, especially in LA because it's so rare, but as I was driving in it today and it just. wouldn't. stop., I realized it's actually nearing the point of being maddening. Each time on the highway, when I went underneath an overpass, I flooded with (very transient) relief as the sound of drops against my windshield stopped for half a second. I just wanted a break from the noise.

I'm extroverted, extremely so. I've been with people all weekend long. When that happens, I usually go into a weird social hangover once I'm suddenly separated from my companions. At the end of time with people, I run like a young maiden into her lover's arms, and that lover is called my bedroom. My lover fluffs the pillows on my bed and my servants bring me books to read. The butler refills my wine.

(This analogy is going down a weird path. I just want to assure y'all that I'm not hallucinating actual people in my bedroom.)

Anyway, when I finally get time to myself, I rush to solitude, ready to reflect on the weekend's memories, ready to read myself until I am drunk with words, ready to just be Bailey, with Bailey and Bailey (and Max) alone.

But give me, oh, 15 minutes, and then I get lonely.

I have issues, Guys. I never said I didn't.

Just now, this evening, I saw on Facebook that a very casual acquaintance of mine is getting drinks at a bar a mile from my place. I thought, "Should I go there?" Then I thought, "Meh. I don't think I'm really feeling that chatty."

Fast forward five minutes, and I'm depressingly staring at the pattern on my sheets, still wondering if I should go. I don't need to be chatty, I just need to get my extrovert on.

Then I remember I cancelled on someone to go to another social event this evening, because of the anticipated social hangover (and I can't drive one more mile in this rain, to be honest), and I feel guilty for even considering to go out.


Wow, this post is going nowhere.

OK, let's recap.

Max is by my feet. Feet are warm and the cat's presence is comforting to me.

I don't think I want to go to the bar. I think I'd feel bad about spending money, and...yeah, I just don't want to go.

I had food not that long ago, so I'm OK in that department, but maybe in a bit I should make a smoothie or heat up some veggies. My body will probably appreciate the nutrients. When I'm done typing this, I should probably refill my water glass.

I should probably shove my face in Max's belly. I think we both like it.

I should either read the delicious book I'm reading, or do a bit of yoga. Maybe just some stretching.

I don't feel like doing either, but I have a feeling that with reading especially, once I get going I'll fall right into it. (This book is fantastic).

And I should know that in an hour, I'll probably feel totally different. It will be closer to bedtime, so there will be less pressure to fill the hours with activity. Tomorrow I'll go to work, and the structure will revive me a bit. After work, I'll be at Alex's birthday festivities, and I love celebrating the life of the one I love.

I'll try to remember how WONDERFUL it is that California is getting some moisture, and some to spare. I'll be grateful that until 8 a.m. I have no obligations; I could have a screaming toddler in my midst, but instead I have a snuggly tiger cat who's like, "Agenda? Snuggle."

I'll remember our theme from worship this morning -- the gift in life that is laughter. I'll be grateful that I get to help with prayers, that I have too many people in my midst on Sunday mornings in order to hug them all.

And maybe -- what a concept -- I'll pray. Just for a couple minutes. Just shut my eyes, and think about my blessings. Stop the worrying, the madness in my brain, and just get quiet.

I'll try and remember that, as we prayed at Bethel today, God is always on call, always here.

Be blessed, Friends. Talk to your doctors, talk to your friends. Snuggle your pets. Be honest with yourself. Try not to worry about your WHOLE LIFE when instead you could just focus on the moment in front of you. I'll try and work on it if you do. Deal? Deal.

(Bethel prayers below).


For rains that continue to visit us, dropping onto the parched ground, buttons of wet melting into the rough, caked soil. For glasses from the kitchen tap, guzzled down to baste our insides, offering our anxious minds some fresh peace. And for the hydration of our hearts. With the gift of quiet mornings, friends who nod in understanding as we blabber on with our musings, and for a table each Sunday where all are invited. A table where we kneel for a moment, and a nugget of sweet honey bread and a splash of wine remind us that we are loved, and we are OK, in the arms of our savior.

For friends. Friends who show up without us asking, because they can sense over the phone line that we need a person near. Friends who are a little bit weird, who keep us on our toes and make us ask questions, helping us grow in the least painful way. For friends who can read our tears, who see hurt and know whether to take us bowling, to make more coffee, or to just sit until the rush of grief passes. For friends who hold our hands and then make us laugh, who turn our stack of crumpled feelings into effervescent renewal.

That we would find the light in every day. Whether we’re between jobs, knee deep in diapers, or just wandering aimlessly, wondering what to do with the next five minutes, let alone five years of our lives, may we always have joy in our paths. A random click on a Netflix movie that leaves us ruminating, lost in pleasant analysis of art. A jovial barista, who lingers over the foam on our latte, filling the air with silly chatter. Or words on a page, in a novel that sucks us in or a Psalm that makes us weep, in the best way. You are always dusting the earth with Happy; may we never miss it.

We thank you for the curious gift of laughter, this strange sound that emits from our mouths and shakes our torsos. This phenomenon that makes other people around us laugh with us. This happenstance that makes us forget all things uncomfortable in this life. Wherever we are, may we always have someone who helps us forget ourselves. And may we never go too long without a good, hearty chuckle. A slow build from within, that awakes us to newness. A giggle that jiggles our spleen, then sends itself in waves to our outer shell, until we erupt, gushing levity back into the world, so we can all carry on.

As we go out from these walls, take us safely home. May we be comforted by the nourishment we are given. Whether we are waiting for payday and eating a forgotten can of Campbell’s, or drowning ourselves in greasy fries at a pub, with football as the background soundtrack, let us give thanks for the calories. Let us find gratitude in our activities – laundry, the treadmill, or napping, listening to the rain tap our windows. Give us strength, a good attitude for the work week, and contentment in knowing a God who loves us. May we feel our God, always on call, always there.

Tuesday, January 17, 2017

It's spring (cleaning) somewhere

I threw away 15 socks yesterday.
They were perfectly good socks, and I don't judge them for having no match, but I did decide that they can no longer be in my life. I'm open to socializing with single people in this world, but I am going to stop letting single socks take up residence in my closet.
I kicked a lot of things out of my closet this weekend, actually.
Eight brown grocery sacks full, and I'm not quite done.
I passed along a suit jacket that grips me a little too tightly in the upper arms.
A tank top that looks great in the front, but pinches enough in the back that it takes away from the aimed for aesthetic.
A t-shirt that I bought within the last 12 months. It boasts a unique print, and yes, it's money down the toilet for me to get rid of it so soon, but I don't love it.
I got rid of a blouse that was a gift. I enjoyed it for a while, but I rarely wore it in the midst of several years. Examining it on me yesterday I realized, yes, this does indeed make me look like a cupcake. (It's very ruffly).
Aside it was tossed.
I resisted getting rid of things during the last several months. I thought I should focus first on cleaning, on getting the environment orderly looking, and then go through things and get rid of them. In gathering old things, it's just one more thing to deal with, I told myself: a bag full of things in my room, which would then get moved and be a bag in my car, and then I'd have to make a trip to Goodwill.
Horror of horrors, I know. #LazyAndIKnowIt
So I kept shoving things into my closet. With my new aim to live within my means, I've greatly curbed my habit for picking up needless things at drugstores, so I've at least stopped gathering greeting cards and tiny organizational baskets and holiday decorations.
But let me tell you something, Friends. When a woman offers me hand-me-down clothes, one word flashes across my vision, blinding me to any common sense:
For one, I grew up without sisters. 1, I never had the joy of receiving secondhand clothing that was feminine, and 2, I was not in a place in my youth in which I desired feminine items.
This weekend I started separating clothes in my closet, and I counted 40 dresses.
I called my dad and said the tomboy was gone.
"Why?" he asked, sounding legitimately a little upset, to be honest.
I told him nah, she's still there somewhere, but that she has 40 dresses in her closet.
"Excuse me, who is this calling?" he asked.
We chuckled and talked about our plans for organizing our spaces, then hung up to get back to it.
I tried on nearly every item in my closet yesterday.
A friend of Abby's gave her five bags of clothing to go through, and when A was done trying things on she gave me the remnants.
I had the instinct to keep all of it, blindly shoving it into a corner already crowded with junk, feeding the mouth of the monster closet as well as feeding my stress and anxiety.
I don't know what came over me, but I tried things on. I've always hated trying on clothes, but I did it. I took a walking break, then got back to it.
I gave everything a five second look in the mirror. I asked myself if, competing with so many other items on hangers, this particular blouse or button down would ever be selected to be worn. If the answer was no, I peeled it off and shoved it in a brown paper sack.
I think the most liberating element of this weekend was the honesty within it.
It's just clothing, for crying out loud, but it felt so good to say, "Bailey, you know you will never wear this."
So often we find reasons to keep things because of their value. I've had a perfectly cute flapper dress in my closet for years. The last time I successfully zipped it up was Halloween 2011, and it's been hanging there ever since.
What's the point?
Yes, the dress has value, but if I can't and won't wear it, what value does it have to me? It doesn't. In fact, all it makes me feel is annoyance that I can't fit into it and annoyance that it's taking up space to maybe, someday, be worn on a magical day when I both fit into it and am invited to a costume party.
And as for Halloween, I don't like to repeat costumes. So this flapper dress needed to retire.
And it has. I hope that someone finds it, and thinks, "Wow. What a find." That's exactly how I felt when I found it at a church rummage sale in Kansas, many moons ago.
I'm so ridiculously provided for in this life. I don't need to be greedy within it.
I'm relinquishing my flapper dresses to the thrift store universe.
And you know what? I'm fine. Feeling just fine.

Monday, January 16, 2017

Forgiveness prayers

Ryan preached a wonderful message on forgiveness yesterday. Kaylie and Donald sat behind me, and I only turned around three (or four) times during service to whisper to them. A bunch of "young adults" went to lunch afterward. We sat outside, and though I was hidden in the hood of my jacket like a good Angeleno should be, I was very proud of myself for remaining in the elements (read: sunshine and 60 harrowing degrees) for nearly two hours. I told Chelsea of my pride and she agreed that I had achieved a feat, as far as Bailey Brewer's tolerance for temperature goes.

After lunch I went home and folded laundry. I watched a little Netflix and met Alex at our favorite place: a WWI themed restaurant/bar by an airport runway, where we watched the Chiefs die a slow death, killed by field goals. We talked to a pilot, and a friendly man named Joe bought us each a drink. I gave Alex a Christmas present, and though I usually hate it when he correctly guesses his gift while still in its wrapping, we both enjoyed a game of 20 questions. (I was feeling generous; he loves guessing. I'm just upset that I'll never be able to throw him a surprise party, because he'll for sure be on to me.) My love discovered I had given him Mr. Springsteen's memoir with more than five fingers of guesses to spare.

We closed out the evening over Thai food. I plan to heat up my Massaman curry for lunch, on this holiday spent in bed with Max. I am provided for, and then some. So grateful to spend each Sunday with a community in which love abounds. Grateful to pray with my church family each week. Yesterday's focus was forgiveness -- moving on from viewing life as eye for an eye.

One of my favorite things that Ryan told us was that when we forgive someone, we are often reluctant, because it feels like we are letting him off the hook for something. Ryan said, when we forgive, we are in fact letting someone off the hook: ourselves. Letting ourselves off the hook from the anger that eats away at our insides, leaving us still angry and not any healthier for it. Holding on to resentment is not like a workout at the gym; it doesn't have a grand payoff, making the pain worth it in the end. It simply ends in pain.

Each week, Ryan and I check in with each other about the theme for the week's worship. Via Facebook message, he lets me know the general idea of his sermon, and on Sunday morning before worship, I chill in bed with Max and a cuppa, typing, backspacing, typing some more, hoping that my words of prayer effectively meet Ryan's ideas, at least somewhere in the middle.

Below are yesterday's prayers. Feel free to pray along with us. You are always welcome in our pews, or you can pray right where you are. Our church membership runs far and wide. Be blessed, Friends. If you're working today, may you feel fruitful in your labor and be surrounded by silly coworkers. If you're off the clock, enjoy a day of rest. Smooches from me and Office Max.

As we look at the date on our phones, and gasp at how quickly this year is unfolding before us, let us give thanks for the amount of life that has already filled this January. For paychecks earned, for quiet nights of rest, for early mornings of wide-awake children, children who are eager to share their enthusiasm at the day’s first light. For meals shared with friends over clattering restaurant noise – clinking glasses, divulging fears, and hopefully laughing. Let us be grateful for the people who are there, so that our celebrations and our tribulations do not get trapped in stagnant air, but fall on the hearts of those who care.

Amidst the breathtaking brokenness in our world, may we see hope breaking through the cracks, shooting prismed beams across our paths. May we point people to birds swooping in flight, to tiny sprigs of green pushing upward between pavement. May we know that in giving yet another chance to people who have broken us will give us, too, a new chance. A chance for living untethered, running free through life’s meadows. Let us not be afraid to conquer the monsters in the night. Armed with a mighty torch, may we always fight for light.

When we are simmering in hurt, because of something someone has done to us, said to us, or because they have neglected us, meet us in our ache. When we cannot understand why we must simply feel so much, sing sweet lullabies into our ears. Grant us rest, and as sun splashes against our windowpanes and streaks the peeling wallpaper as we wake, gently nudge us toward the gifts in our lives. May we breathe through the painful emotions, and with each silly text message received, each nudge of a pet into our limp palms, each time that we can’t help but sing along, may we once again feel joy.

For the opportunity to forgive. While it may not seem like a privilege, and sometimes feels like a painful, impossible thing to do, may we realize the freedom it sets before us. The freedom to let go. To see someone who hurt us in new light. To move forward, from a boiling cauldron of anger, whose fingers of flame clutch our hearts and singe our skin, to a cooling pool of peace. May we gently bob, in a spring amidst mountains, watching swirls of mist dance above the water’s surface. Up and down, like a tea bag being dunked by the One who loves us most, steeping to become stronger in grace.

Let us recognize how many times we come out of darkness and into light, each and every day. From our haggard morning selves, to the caffeinated person who can carry on pleasant conversation. From the scary pile of paperwork to the triumph of a file cabinet organized, because we didn’t give up. And for the switch from night to light that happens without us even noticing: each time we blink. We go into the darkness a thousand times a day, and we don’t feel scared to close our eyes, because we know that, thanks to a creator who lifts and drops our eyelids, we will be back in brightness in but a moment.