Lighter Notes

I’m pretty psyched that the end of 2016 is quickly approaching. This year was a lot; a lot of change, of uncertainty, of everything being up in the air. It challenged me to learn, to be my best self, to figure out what I really wanted. With all the bullshit, I still managed to meet the most amazing, loving, supportive, present man and fall crazily in love with him – and he with me. The months with him have passed so quickly. Seeing how he interacts with my children, how he guides them, advises them, and befriends them blows me away. There is a knowing, a safety, and a comfort being with him. He’s my present and my future. I’m set.

Work is coming together. I’m enjoying what I do, I’ve reclaimed my passion for my industry. I’m no longer seeking a way out, but a way to make myself more useful in my profession. This is a blessing. I have found my calling and at 30, I have a blossoming career.

I’ve been lucky enough to be part of a good group of women and to develop friendships with some of them. I am easing into these relationships, as I am cautious and reminded of the some traumatic events from years passed. I want to allow people to become close to me, but not for their amusement or malicious benefit. I will wait, patiently observing behaviors to determine the safety of the situation. Extreme? Maybe.

 

My next three major goals:

  • Reclaim my physical health by maintaining a weekly workout regime and healthful eating habits
  • Raise my GPA to a 3.0 by graduation
  • Eliminate credit card debt, a car payment, and begin to build a savings nest.

 

What I will not do is allow my children or my romantic relationship to suffer. After everything that has happened this year, my priority will always be to protect my children and ensure that my guy feels loved and appreciated. Without him, I may have given up here and returned to a life I hated, but was comfortable in. He saved me more than he knows or is willing to admit. I am a feminist, do not be mistaken, and he is a man who is strong enough to support me in that and kept pointing me in the right direction, even without directly telling me what to do. He saved me by being there, physically and emotionally, by having my back and being my safe place when I felt like everything was crumbling around me.

This is everything I’ve been asking for. I am grateful, humbled, and amazed by my good fortune.

every little bit…

I still question if I am living my most authentic life. There are elements of my life that feel exhilarating; that feel fulfilling; that feel like I am doing the thing that I always knew I would be doing.

But there are moments when I wonder if I’m playing out of someone else’s playbook. I wonder if I could commit myself wholly to yoga, to selflessness, to ecology, to compassion in all areas of my life.

I think it’s time to stop second-guessing myself. One thing that has always remained about me is my inability to perform in ways that is inauthentic to who I am and what I feel. I have always been stubbornly honest and wholly real – thus authentic.

Authentic, yes. But also wanting to belong. Before I awoke, before I understood how to think about things, how to question them, I accepted many things, many ideas, many behaviors that I understand now as unacceptable. I still wish I were different, further along, but I am on my way and for that, I should feel some comfort…

Self-acceptance is harder than it looks. But I’m working on it. As difficult as the journey is, it still feels wonderful to be alive, to question what to do with my time, to wonder if I’m living my best life. I look forward to answering my own questions.

Why Feminism…

….because as idealistic and naive as I used to be, I see the world as it really is – and it breaks my heart.

….because now I worry that my daughters will face obscene abuses that have been shushed and quieted for too long.

…because I have had to deal with systemic sexism for my whole life.

…because I was raised by a woman who doesn’t understand feminism, who pushed finding a boyfriend over finding myself.

…because I don’t want my son repeating that he is so glad he isn’t a girl, because girls have babies.

…because I genuinely believe that all three of my children are capable of achieving their wildest dreams – but I know my son will have less to prove and easier time accomplishing his goals.

…because I love people and I want us to love each other.

Do unto others, yeah?

Things to do when you work night shift and you’re off:

  • Watch Cooking shows. You’ll probably get some ideas about some cool stuff to make which will send you on an internet search for recipes. Traditional, Vegetarian, Paleo, Vegan, Paleo-Vegan – go crazy. Then go shopping.
  • Wander the aisles of your local Wal-Mart. It’s literally the only place open at 3am. You can grab ingredients for that fantastic food you’re planning to make.
  • Cook. Yeah, tonight I made egg muffins for the kiddos in the morning and sweet potato-kale-spinach bombs that I hope don’t taste like butt. Dinner was pretty tasty, too. Picture to the right.
  • Catch up on television…currently watching This Is Us. All the feels in one show. Next, I will probably catch up on American Horror Story: Hotel.
  • Writing? um..about that…
  • Yoga…kind of.
  • Work out. NTC app is awesome! Do that thing! Quietly…
  • Finish that education. Two more classes completed tonight.

 

It isn’t fun working nights. I noticed I’m grumpier when the kids are awake and I feel awful about it. I’m very, very used to the quiet now, especially after being apart from them all summer. I’m going to adjust myself.

While wandering the aisles of Wal-Mart, I was approached by a guy. He’s in his mid-thirties, wearing a Deadpool hat and carrying honey peanut butter and marshmallows. He compliments my glasses, offers a warm smile and a handshake. He’s nice, a little on the awkward side, and I know that he’s attracted to me – we passed each other in the aisle before and now he’s holding eye contact, remarking on my hoodie and taking note of what is inside my basket. We converse, it was nice. I looked like garbage – I’m in sweats, a hoodie, sneakers, and my hair is up in a ponytail. But he stopped me to talk anyway. He asks me if we can hang out sometime and I let him down easy. He took it well, we hugged and departed.

Those kinds of interactions should be shared. I was kind, I was engaged in the conversation, but ultimately I wasn’t interested in him. I wasn’t rude, I didn’t even have to mention my boyfriend – he took my “no” with grace. Not all men will react with anger and indignation when you reject him, for whatever reason you decide is appropriate. Each of us only wants to be treated with dignity, respect, and kindness. I wasn’t defensive and he wasn’t offended when I politely declined. Jesus, people. Just be nice to each other.

 

If nothing ever comes of this endeavor, if all I ever use this blog for is cathartic writing and practices, I’m okay with that. I do hope that anyone who takes the time to read my entries at least comes away with the feeling that I walk my talk – that being kind isn’t just a thing I talk about; it’s in the way I live. I don’t do mean, I don’t do gossip, I don’t do hatred. And when confronted with those things, they tend to bring out the worst in me. I don’t want to be that person…so forgive me if I’m quiet, or if I don’t participate in your systematic break down of another person, or your criticisms of someone else or something else. It’s just not who I want to be.

What the world does

She welcomes me with a smile and asks how many in my party. I raise a single finger, hoping friendliness is beaming from my face. The thin, Carmel-skinned hostess, clad in a butter yellow t-shirt and khaki pants, seats me in a single corner half booth, half table and I sit, facing toward the bustle of the midmorning rush. Directly beside me, not two feet from my table, is a lovely middle-aged white couple. She is blonde and attentive, reminding her Santa Claus husband that he need not eat all his meal. They leave soon after I order, and a bus girl is by shortly to clear their dishes.

My food arrives promptly; cinnamon spice pancakes with applesauce and whipped cream. Not my usual fare, but this is vacation and my last Tuesday in Nashville. The Pancake Pantry has been on my list for some time now and I am reminded, again, how food brings us all together.

I dig into my plate, keeping an eye on the time. I have an appointment this morning, but it’s not far from where I am. Three college-aged girls sit next to me, occupying the table that was momentarily empty. Their cadence is slow, slightly unsure, but drips of self-confidence. They are young!

Their chatter shouldn’t intrigue me but it does. One orders a half order of the chocolate chip pancakes, remarking how she couldn’t possibly finish a whole five pancakes. The two others order an omelette and talk about their water consumption. I notice they are thin and confident. I lose my appetite.

I sip my water, rummaging in my bag for a cash tip. I gather myself to leave and I awkwardly stand, inadvertently trespassing into their too-close bubble. I don’t look at them directly, I keep my eyes low, but I notice one girl grabs her bag reflexively.

Making my way to the register, I wonder if they are watching me walking away, noticing the jiggle of my thighs or how I seem to take up more space than they and their delicate appetites. The crowd around the door is growing thicker, people preparing to pay or waiting to be seated and my discomfort is growing. I pay and in a rush to get out the door, I nearly leave my wallet behind.

In the solitude of my car, I remind myself that these girls probably did not notice me, and my accidental too-far leaning into their space has likely already been forgotten. Such a silly thing biases do, alter an experience from pleasant to uncomfortable in the span of minutes. My insecurities are painting the scene in different shades and I’ve forgotten that this morning, in the shower, before I allowed the world to permeate my psyche, I bathed and caressed my body. I marvelled at its abilities, at its curves at my pillowy soft skin and the roundness that covers the angles. I forgot that I loved my body this morning.

Weird

I think it’s weird I have to remind myself (and others, for no good reason) that I need to respect myself, my boundaries, and desires.

I think it’s weird that I state aloud, though timidly, to whomever I’m intimately conversing with that my decision is a matter of respecting how I feel, protecting my heart, and being wary of an upcoming event. And even as I’m saying it, it doesn’t occur to me at the moment, that’s what they, too, are doing.

I think it’s weird that I feel bad for disappointing someone while vocalizing my somewhat selfish ideas and pushing forth my interests. I chastise myself for putting myself in difficult situations, knowing that I thrive on hardship and challenges.

I think it’s weird that my family doesn’t understand the concept of self-respect. Their version of respect usually has something to do with another bending to her will, or she bending to the will of the most current man. I think it’s weird that I see love as a trap.

I think it’s weird that I paint myself as a hopeless romantic but, I know deep down to my core, I’m much more cynical than that and if I had to choose between my career or a man, I’d choose my career. It’s weird to me that my idea of love means that one of the two parties involved has to give up something, or everything, for the other.

All of these things came to the foreground in the wee hours of this morning after having not much sleep. I’ve stowed my idealism in the bottom of my trunk, under the clothes and important documents I need to carry with me to Virginia and cloaked myself in raw honesty and practicality. I’ll never ignore my heart, but I think it probably needs not drive this vehicle for now.

Truth Tidbit

Waking up sore, stiff, and a little morose makes the day feel long and turbulent. I putter around my quiet house, feeding the animals and waking sleepy children, before getting myself together for another Monday – but my second to last at my current workplace. A cursory glance at my phone – still nothing – and I shrug it off. Maybe it’s a sign. Maybe it’s nothing. I’m leaving soon, less than four weeks now. What will be, will be. But those thoughts don’t stop the sadness from creeping through.

I chastise myself on the drive in, blast the music when my favorite songs come on – I do all that I can to distract myself from the heavy feeling of being alone and from the memories I’ve collected over the last few years. Some things take more time to die, I guess.

At my desk, I think back to how life was 10 or 15 years ago – it wouldn’t have mattered much then. But 10 or 15 years ago, I was 20 or 15 and nothing mattered then as much as it does now. I can’t tell when the shift happened, when I started to care so much. I think again about how things were in the 90s, but my quarreling mind reminds me of how much things have changed and how everything means something – even when it means nothing at all.

I shush the thoughts, wish I was meditating or on my yoga mat, and tell myself, “Nothing you can do will change the outcome. You’ve done all that you can. This is your path. Walk it.”

I think about how hard I tried to stay here, how long I looked for work, for anything that would make me less miserable than I’ve been the past three years. I think about how every interview did not result in an offer of employment. I remind myself that I’ve considered every avenue of employment, but nothing would be able to support my family the way my current industry does. Even after reducing spending and finding free things to do, kids still require housing and clothes and food and entertainment and activities. These things are not cheap.

Like anything else I do,  I tried my very best to stay here and to be happy. But the two are not mutually exclusive.  My happiness is not here, even if I wish it was.

I probably stayed longer than I should have –  I stay when I should leave because I hope beyond reason that things will get better, that I won’t have to make some painful change and inflict unnecessary suffering on others. It’s always unavoidable.

I wish I could stay where it is safe, where I know people and places. I’m scared to leave. I’m scared to start over.  I have been scared to leave, to stay, to love, and to learn. But I’ve done all those things. This will be no different. I am scared, but I’ll do it anyway.

News and an Exercise

Hi, hey, hello there! I’m a little energized for a Monday, but here I am and there you go (blame it on the coffee…). I hope you enjoyed a restful weekend – mine was full of busy-ness and games and company (a great weekend, in retrospect). This post is a bit of a hybrid; I have some news about Imogene and also a writing exercise (to help me sharpen my somewhat dulled skills). I won’t belabor you with minutiae –

The NEWS Continue reading

Mary

Long after the kids fell asleep, tucked cozily together on a simple futon in the small, dark living room, Mary slouched low at the old wooden dining room table, one leg kicked up lazily on another chair. Her body sagged, defeated and tired. Two long, spindly fingers spun a stray pencil in slow circles, while the other hand rested delicately on a small mason jar, half full of some cheap wine she’d purchased before picking up her little ones from school. The tell-tale paper bag hid well amongst the rest of her meager grocery purchase. Just enough this time, she thought, just enough. A long draw in, the air out seemed to promise some sort of relief but was automatic now. Air in, air out. The tension remained. The dull ache, the hole in her chest. She clasped her jar and took a long, slow sip, hoping the ease would come swiftly, believing in the power of her panacea. Continue reading

Aaron

Aaron hunched over the bar, his grease-streaked hands wrapped loosely around a cold beer. “I tried, I think. I’m pretty sure I tried hard. I don’t know what she wanted from me, other than all my damn time,” he glared hard, taking a rough swig. “Women just demand so much fucking attention.” He exhaled, his chest heaving against his dirty cotton t-shirt. “The worst part is that she always wanted to talk about shit I don’t know nothin’ about, like she always had to prove how smart she was or how much she fucking cared. I never did care about the world or politics – it’s all goin’ to shit anyway. Or she always wanted to talk about how she felt, like I had any control over her bein’ lonely. It’s not my job to be part of that shit, they ain’t mine.” A dirty finger shot in the air, he needed another beer. Continue reading