Tuesday, December 2, 2014

Burned Bridges and the Colors of Your Endings

I am a girl who, at least in relationships, likes Black and White.

I want to know where we stand. I want to know if we're okay or if we're not.

If we're not, I want to lay all our chips on the table and fight out the things that are broken until they're not broken anymore.

Or if they can't be fixed, I want to know that too. I don't want to go on wondering if things can ever be okay again or not. I want to know.

I want to know why.

And if we decide that things can't be okay, I want to shut the door. I want to end the chapter and our story... I want to know that it's okay to start a new one.

I guess they call that closure.

But sometimes I guess that I need to learn that it's not a bad thing if doors don't close all the way. It's okay to leave them open a little just in case it's a story that isn't really ended yet. It's okay to not know what happened, and it's okay to simply let the ending be.

It's okay to be hurt and it's okay to be mad and it's okay to be upset about the things that don't feel fair. You aren't wrong to feel those things, and don't let people tell you that you are.

But just because all those things are true... it doesn't mean that you have to burn your bridges.  Just let it be...  maybe you cross that bridge again some day. Maybe you don't.  But... this way, at least you can if you decide that you want to.

Not every ending has to be Black and White...  sometimes they can be a little Grey.

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

When Stories Are Over

Some doors are just ready to be closed. Some chapters are ready to be over.

It isn't a bad thing, though sometimes I think that we see it that way. Like we only close books when the stories have hurt us and we need to move on from them. But that's not always true.

Sometimes... the stories are just over. And we've had the experiences that we're going to have from them. We've cherished the memories. We've enjoyed the relationships. And sometimes when that's all done, it's simply time to move on. Not because we're hurt, but just because what was for us in those stories just isn't there anymore.

Closing the door, closing the chapter... it isn't so much marking the end of a story as it is making room for new ones.

It's like if you keep running back to what was... if you keep looking out the window, hoping that what used to be there is back... if you spend all of your time running backwards, you lose the opportunity to run forward.

What's coming up that is also for you....  well, if you're always looking back, you'll miss it.

Sometimes we allow stories to be over so that we can open up room on our shelves for new stories to unfold. And that's exciting.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Celtic Thunder, Catty Chaos, Comas, and Confidence

When I became a fan of Celtic Thunder, it was very much something that I just stumbled into. I didn't set out to become one, or to get so embroiled in the fan community.  It was just something that unfolded, and so I really didn't have a plan going into it.

One of the things that took me the most aback, in retrospect, is that I simply was unprepared for the Dog Eat Dog experience. It was like someone had taken One Direction, dropped them into the middle of a junior high girls school, and locked up all the teachers.  It was catty crazy chaos.

But I have to be honest. I was a part of it.

It was easy to get swept up into it. After all, everyone else was. It was easy to buy into the competition. It was easy to set the favor of your favorite artist as the prize to be won. It began to seem normal to be constantly eyeing other fans, being sure that they weren't prized more than you. It wasn't enough to be appreciated. You wanted to be favored, above all others. Jealousy ran the show. Envy ruled.

I got swept up in that. I did.

It took a brush with death (and not my own) to get shaken out of it. My favorite singer ended up in a coma.  Funny... those things tend to bring life into focus, and this did. I realized that it didn't matter how my relationships compared to anyone else's. What mattered is that they existed at all.

All of a sudden, all that power play lost its importance. It stopped mattering to me what other people's relationships were. They didn't have anything to do with me. And when they stopped mattering, jealousy and envy became something of the past. It became a lot easier to love people, even if I didn't like them that much.  They didn't have anything that I thought I needed, so how could I hate them for it anymore?

And in the end, I was simply a lot happier.

Friday, October 17, 2014

Thursday Tales: Bad Blood



I scanned the lunchroom and my heart sank.  One seat in the whole place... and it was across from her. The girl who had somehow become something like an arch-nemesis.

I didn't hate her... there was just bad blood. Old bickerings, old insults.  They still hung in my mind, and maybe they still hung in hers. But it was either there or in the pouring rain outside. What choice did I have?

Practically tiptoeing up to the chair, I slid into it quietly -- like if I didn't make a sound, she wouldn't notice that I was there. I kept my eyes downcast... but the sigh of disgust that blew my way let me know that my ruse was up. Our eyes met and I mumbled, "Sorry."

We sat there in uncomfortable silence as I carefully laid out my lunch...  Avoided looking at each other, avoided speaking to each other.

Finally, I blurted out, "Look, can we start over? This is silly..."

She looked at me a long time, and then shrugged, "Yeah, sure, whatever."

Talk was stilted... but at least polite.  But when her friends walked up and she got up to join them, their words floated back to me.

"Why are you sitting with her?" they asked.
"Ugh... she just sat down. She's so awful."

Tears stung the back of my eyes...  of course they did. But I made a choice in that moment.

Maybe there would always be bad blood...  it just wasn't going to be mine.


Friday, October 10, 2014

When what we think we deserve changes

We accept the love that we think we deserve.  Have you ever heard that? I can identify with that.

There was a time that I accepted and soaked up the first adult female friendship that came my way because I thought that was the best that I could expect. But the truth is that it wasn't a very healthy friendship -- fraught with jealousy, painful manipulation, and one-up-man-ship, one that required constantly walking on eggshells so as to not upset the delicate balance that kept us all upright.

But that wasn't the best that I could expect.  There was so much more that could be friendship, but I accepted less because I truly didn't think that I could hope for more. I hardly deserved more, did I? I was so broken. I didn't deserve more --  and I believed that.

Until I didn't.

Until I realized that, yes, there was far more that one could expect from friendship and that, yes, I absolutely deserved more. Not that I was somehow specialler than anyone else, but I wasn't broken-er than anyone else either. I deserved goodness and commitment and caring and trust.

The funny thing about beginning to recognize your own worth is that it becomes a lot harder to stay around people who don't. It's hard to stay around people who don't respect you enough to treat you like someone worthy of respect. And why should you?

That doesn't mean you act in cruelty. You stay kind... you stay caring. But perhaps it means that you don't continue to put yourself into their path. You don't give them the option anymore of treating you as less-than.  That doesn't make you wrong. It makes you someone who respects themselves.

There's strength in that.

Thursday, October 9, 2014

The Art of the Selfie

So I'm just going to come out and admit it.

I take selfies.  Like... a lot.

I'm not even ashamed of it. I just lost 65 lbs. I'm allowed to be delighted with the changes in myself.  Sometimes it was just to chronicle the journey... and sometimes it was just because I wanted to. I long ago stopped feeling self-conscious about it...  Is it vain?  Probably. But I feel like I earned a little vanity.

Now... in the process of taking roughly 97 million pictures of myself, I've learned a few things.  And I am here to pass those on to you! (In part, at the behest of one of my dear friends.)  Now... maybe you're new to taking pictures of yourself and can't figure it out. Maybe that perfect selfie just plain eludes you from your new camera. Maybe you're an up-and-coming musician who can't take a decent picture of yourself to save your life.

This is for you.  You're welcome... and please-- I took PURPOSELY BAD pictures of myself for you.

#1. I LOVE MY SCREEN SIDE CAMERA. 


I used to be pretty good at snapping self pictures with my point-and-shoot digital camera, but it was pretty much a guesstimate of how it was going to turn out. I love being able to frame a shot with less guesswork (also for doing my hair!). Get one if you don't have one!

#2 Lift up your camera.


Do you know why we don't hire 4-year-old photographers? Because everybody looks funny from the ground. You don't have to hold the camera directly over your head or anything... just lift it up a little bit and look a touch up.

Everything looks better!

#3 Check your lighting.


Twirl around while looking at your screen...  sometimes the angle of the sun can make you look really harsh -- especially if you have a lot of forehead. Hairline-receding men, I'm talking to you. Maybe it would look better framing your face from behind instead of glaring on it from in front of you.  One spin around to see where the light's best...

Foggy out today, so not the best day to demonstrate. But just turned around so I was facing the other direction.

#4 Oh for pete's sake, look at the camera.


This is not the time for artsy "gazing off into the distance" photos, kids. We know you know where the camera is and that it's taking pictures of you! It's in your HAND. You're the one hitting the Trigger!

#5 This is important... SMILE!!


You guys, this isn't a mugshot. Do you know who looks good with a sad mopey face?

That's right. Nobody.

So, here's my personal trick. I know when I'm going to hit the Capture button. It's not like when someone else is taking your picture and you have to hold a smile for 48 seconds, thinking "When the heck are they going to take that dang picture???"

Milliseconds before I capture the picture, I think of something that makes me really happy...  a joke, puppies, a good time that I had with someone.... and then I imagine that the camera lens is the eye of someone that I really enjoy spending time with.

In that split second, you can capture joy in your eyes and THAT's what makes you beautiful.

The fact that this is a public picture is proof that I love you.


Most of all... have fun! You're not running for president...  Just chronicling moments in your life -- Make them happy ones! :)

Thursday, October 2, 2014

Fixing Yourself by Breaking Someone Else

Have you ever tried to fix yourself by breaking someone else? It doesn't work very well, does it? Sometimes it's person-specific... maybe they hurt you, and you want them to hurt back. Sometimes it's a lot more general... you're having a crappy day, and gosh darn it, if the world isn't going to have a crappy day too!!

The thing about breaking other people to fix yourself is that it's a lot like emotional eating. It gives you a bit of satisfaction for that moment that you're engaged in it... but when that moment is over, you're left with guilt and regret ---  and have done absolutely nothing to fix the problem that you were trying to solve in the first place.

Breaking someone else to make yourself feel better is a little like that. It fills an ugly little hole in your heart for a moment... but it's an even uglier fix to a problem that you still haven't solved -- only created new ones on top of your brokenness.

So what can we do?

First, I think that we have to recognize that we're even doing it. You can't stop something if you don't know what it looks like.  Just become aware of it... even if that's after you've done it.  But at least become aware.

We have to think of ways that we can create the same emotional response other than making them feel bad too.  Then, before we open our mouths, we can stop, acknowledge that we're looking for that response, and choose a different mode of getting it -- preferably one that doesn't hurt someone else.

And when we stop creating more problems for ourselves all the time, we can actually go about the business of healing the wounds that needed the emotional salve in the first place.

We can fix ourselves without breaking others... in fact, maybe it's the only that we can.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Bitches, Bemusement and Blossoming

So... apparently I was called a bitch last night.

There was a time that I would have let this really get to me. I'd chew on it, I'd be bothered by it. I'd lose sleep over it... I'd take it out weeks down the road and work over it again and again. But I'm not going to do that this time.

I've learned some things about people and about myself over the last few years...  some things that are easy to remember, and some things that I have to remind myself.

Not everyone is going to like you...  even the most perfect among us is going to find people who will pick them apart. So you can't let the people who abhor you define who you believe that you are. They see you through black-tinted glasses, and they're going to see what they want to see. They're going to interpret your words and actions in the way that supports what they think about you... and I'm not sure that there's really a lot that you can do about that.  The only person you can control is you.

But the part you can control is not letting their opinion about you matter. If they hate you that much, I'd be willing to bet that they aren't someone that you like a lot either. So why are you letting them matter? Why are you allowing yourself to lose sleep over someone whose opinion you needn't care about that much anyway?

Do you know whose opinion does matter?  Yours. Your friends. Your family.  The people who love you and who you love... the people who are important in your life.  Their opinions of you matter... but the people who hate you?  They honestly don't.  And if you're letting yourself get worked up over the opinions of people who don't figure into the value of your life at all...  you have to ask yourself Why? Why do they get to matter?

I once was trying to explain to my husband about a situation that had me upset, trying to communicate why I was bothered.  After I got done speaking, he said to me something that has stuck with me for a long time.  And what he said was this:

"I can understand why you're upset...  
but what I don't understand is why you would let the opinion of 
bitter unhappy people change the person that you are."

And he was right...

So what I want to say today is this...

To the person who hates me...  I'm honestly sorry that you do, and I hope that what you said last night made you feel better. I don't hate you, and I can afford to be forgiving. I just think that we have very different value systems and perhaps those don't mesh well together.

To the person hurt by someone who hates them... I'm so sorry for your hurt. Something I have learned is that oftentimes the way someone treats you is far more about who they are than who you are. Wrap yourself in the love of the people who love you and know that you have much to offer the world. Don't hide your candle because of an ill wind. The world needs your light. Please don't let them change who you are.


Thursday, September 11, 2014

I Can Remember Everything

If I want, I can remember everything.

I can remember the rain on the window, and the song that was playing on the radio.
I can remember the clothes I was wearing, and the smell in the air.
I can remember your words, the look in your eyes.

But there are days that I don't want to remember. Those things all crowd in like an unwelcome guest. And I want anything but to open the door to them.

And so I keep busy. There are always things to do... and if I just do enough of them, then I don't have the time to remember. I keep my To-Do list full so I don't think of you. And so I don't think of that day.

Because if I want... 

I can remember everything.

Tuesday, August 26, 2014

An Honest Letter

To You Who Shall Remain Nameless...

I have a thing I need to say... and I should say it to you. But I don't want to fight or get the run around... and so I cowardly say it here, where I don't think you read. 

I'm mad at you.

I'm mad at you... but probably, hurt. We're supposed to be friends. You can't just disappear for days, weeks, months from the people you say that you care about. And yet, you do. You disappear... and you're unreachable. You ignore everything I say to you like it doesn't matter. Every confiding, every question into how you are.

And then suddenly you jump back, and you're here again and you seem like you want my friendship. I know that you're busy. I know this because you tell me every time you jump back, and though it may not seem like it, I can understand that.  But I also understand that we make time for the things and the people that are important to us. So how can I make any conclusion other than that I'm not?

I used to think it was me when you would disappear. I used to think I had done something... said something that bothered you, did something that made you mad... somehow made myself someone that you didn't think was worth your friendship and your caring.  And I would beat myself up... blame myself, criticize myself.

Eventually, I realized it wasn't me. I hadn't done anything wrong. I hadn't said anything wrong. This was just how you were... popping in and out of my life like your absence didn't matter. The thing you've never understood is that it did. And it does.

I'm mad at you, and I'm hurt that you've disappeared again. But the thing is... I don't want to not be friends. But I want to be friends in a way that's respectful to us both. When you are here, I enjoy us. I enjoy talking to you, and knowing what you think, and knowing you're interested in what I think. But, I never know when that's going to disappear. Can you understand why being friends on slippery ground is tough?

You won't read this and we won't fight about it. You won't give me excuses that don't really mean anything. And I won't tell you that it's okay.

But maybe I feel a little better, just for having said it outloud.

Me

Thursday, August 7, 2014

All of a Sudden, Things are Different

And, all of a sudden, things are different.

All of a sudden, what you knew has changed. Who you understood yourself to be... has changed. 

You can't do what you did anymore. You can't say what you said... because things are different. You changed them.

and it's strange because they're different.

But, you know that it's right.. at least for now... because it feels so comfortable. And maybe you're not quite sure where you are supposed to be right now, what you are supposed to be doing.  Maybe it's not clear to you yet. 

But, you know it's not what you left. 

You'll find your way. People like us, we always do. And when your way opens up, you'll find who you are again. You'll find what you're meant to do, who you're meant to be.

I've a feeling that you might already know.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

The Courage to Tell Your Story

I once read that the original definition of Courage is to tell the true story of who you are with your whole heart.

I liked that.

We spend so much time covering up who we are. We think that people won't like the real us, or they'll judge  us for the truth that lies within. They will mark us as unworthy if they knew who we really were.

For we know we really are... and we know that sometimes we aren't pretty. Sometimes what happens to us isn't pretty, and we don't want people to know.  Sometimes what we do isn't pretty, and we definitely don't want people to know.

But I have found that, even though it's scary, I have made my deepest connections when I have let the unpretty parts be seen. I have found that when I've admitted to the darkest parts of me, it is then that I've heard a whispered and grateful "Oh, me too... I thought I was the only one."

And I have found that, though perhaps it's backwards, shining a light on the dark corners has illuminated the parts of me that I do want to shine.

So, Courage, my friends...  Have courage.

Monday, August 4, 2014

I've Been Thinking

I've been thinking a lot about friendship lately. I've been thinking about what is reasonable to expect from a friendship, and what is not. 

I've been thinking where I fall on those things.. where I'm a good friend, where I'm not.  Where I have been and where I haven't.

I've been thinking about honesty, and what that means. I've been thinking about how honesty isn't just "not lying" and how misleading inferences and omission of the truth is just as dishonest as outrightly speaking lies.

I've been thinking about respect and the importance of showing up... and how it really isn't that hard.

I've been thinking about grace and forgiveness. I've been thinking about patience.

I've been thinking about the pulling-in that happens when someone speaks unkindly to you.

I've been thinking about all these things...  and perhaps sometime, I'll be ready to write more about them.  

But today, I'm just thinking about them.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

When Your Road Isn't the Same

Sometimes the road you're meant to walk down isn't the road that everyone else is taking.

You meander off on your own... down a path that you know that you're meant to take. But, when you look around, you realize that everyone else seems to be walking a different one.

And it's not that you doubt that yours is the right one for you to be on...  but at the same time... you kind of do. Maybe the other road is better simply because it's more often walked. Surely there is a reason for its popularity that you have somehow missed.

And so you doubt.  You doubt your road. You doubt your destination. You doubt yourself.

But popular doesn't necessarily equate to better. More-travelled doesn't necessarily equate to right. Company doesn't necessarily equate to truth.

So if you honestly feel that the road you're walking is the right road to take, remember that it's okay to go your own way. It's okay if no one walks yours with you. It's okay if no understands why you need to follow that path.

Sometimes you go the way no one else is going to become someone that no one else is meant to be.



Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Thursday Tales: Meant to Be Someone Else


I was meant to be someone else.

I know that everyone says that at some point. They look at their life and where they are and they decide that this wasn't where they were meant to be. This is wasn't who they meant to be.  But I really mean it.

I was meant to be someone else. It's in the paperwork.

I'm sure I wasn't supposed to find the paperwork. I was in the attic, putting away some boxes for Mr. Baker, and I accidentally knocked one over.  As I put the files back in the banker box, my eyes fell on one with my name.

"JESSICA TANKER - PRIVATE"

Well, what would you do?

I opened it.  I opened it and then I sat down.

My name is Jessica Tanker. I live at 375 Firefly Lane with my mom, my dad, my two sisters, and my dog. I'm a banker's apprentice because that's what it says on my paperwork. You do what the paperwork says. That's the rule. So I went to school, and I did well. And now, I work with Mr Baker at the First National Bank on Main Street.  That's what the paperwork should say.

But that's not what this paperwork said.

It was my picture, but not my name. Not my parents. Not my sisters. Maybe my dog. It wasn't my occupation or my history. It was like reading about someone else. Someone I'd read about in stories, someone I dreamed about being -- but... they were just dreams. Weren't they?

I slipped the file into my bag, and I went about my work.  And I went home. When dinner started, I slid it onto the table. I put my hands in my lap, my eyes on my plate, and I whispered, "Dad... who am I really?" I didn't look up.

The silence lasted a long time.  But my dad finally broke it by speaking to my mother across the table. "Marjorie...  lock the door. I guess it's time."

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Your Hardened Heart

It hurt when they lied to you, when they couldn't see the plea in your heart. Didn't it?

And so you hardened yours, and you turned away, and you said it didn't matter. You said you were fine.

But you weren't. Not really. A hard heart isn't fine.

You tried to make it okay. And you tried to heal. And you tried to forgive. Maybe you were successful, maybe you weren't. And yet your heart is still hard.  Because if you don't soften it, then it can't be hurt again.

Then, you can't be hurt again.

But a hard heart doesn't get to feel much love, either. A hard heart is tough to find a way into, and repels a multitude of attempts.

You want to protect... but what you really need to do is trust.  Even if you get hurt again, what you need is trust.

Friday, July 25, 2014

Never Speak of It

We said we'd never speak of it. I know.

And so we don't, at least not in words.  
But the fact of it hangs in the air.

It's in the way we don't speak of it. It's in the sidelong glances and the heaviness of the silence. 
It's in the awkwardness and the stops and the starts. It's in the politeness. 
It's in the way we tiptoe around it, lest one of us slips.

We don't talk about it. We pretend it isn't there, and we're afraid of what speaking of it would do. 
How would it change things? What parts of us would it break? 
What parts could we never get back?

So we tiptoe, and we talk about other things. We stay where it's safe.

But I think we both know we're pretending... and that as long as we play it safe...

...we aren't playing it real.

Thursday, July 3, 2014

Living Moderately in a Polarized World

I don't always notice it... usually it's when some major political issue or election comes up, like recently with the Hobby Lobby ruling. But, on a political scale, I believe moderately.  What does that mean?  I tend to run towards the middle... there are some things that I would fall on one party's side for, and there are other issues that I fall on the other. And I think that, because of this, it's easier for me to think sanely about the people who lie on the other side of the issue of the day -- because sometimes those people are people I agree with, and sometimes they aren't. But, whatever the issue... they're the same people, with the same heart.

But, our world has become one that isn't very moderate. I don't know if it's always been this way, or if it's just that I notice it more as I've gotten older, or if it's truly changed with the advent of the internet. People are polarized... They believe all the way one way... or all the way the other way.  And there isn't a lot of middle ground.

But, I think that what's worse is that, with the polarization, people have somehow lost the ability to see the people on their other side. People who believe otherly have become the bad guys, they have become objects of anger. People forget that the people who believe differently... they're just people. Maybe with different thoughts, but with the same hearts.

I don't really know how to live in a world like that, so usually I just stay quiet about what I believe... or even what I'm not sure to believe. (Except for the occasional "HMPH" blog... I'll be honest.)

That happened to me yesterday... in two different places, amongst two different "sides," I voiced my thoughts that I wasn't sure. There were parts of both sides' arguments that I could identify with, and I hadn't yet worked out in my head what I fully thought about everything. Truly... I was the person you wanted to dialogue with if you wanted to draw me to your side.

But, in both places, the responses were merely filled with anger... and I've learned long ago that, especially on the internet, anger isn't what I want to tangle with. That's not dialogue.  That's just anger.

The truth is... I don't want to be polarized. I don't want to be unable to see the hearts of other people who may disagree with me. I don't want to forget that there are people on the other side of what I believe. And I certainly don't want to treat anyone who believes differently than me with hatred.

And it's easy for me to sit here and say these things on issues that I revolve around on the middle. But, it's made me think about what things, perhaps outside of politics, I am polarized on. It's made me think about how I treat people on the other side. And it's made me think about how I treat people who are in the middle.

Maybe it's just made me think of how I treat people... good ways, bad ways, and ways I'd like to tweak.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

When "I'm Fine" Isn't

You answered that you were just fine when I asked you how you were doing. The road Life had pushed you onto looked like a hard one to me, and so I was concerned for you, my friend.

You said you were fine... and I believed you.

And you looked fine! You handled every obstacle with bravery. You faced every trial with dignity. You never complained, you just did what needed to be done.

So I believed you and I let myself worry about you less. 

You were brave and you didn't call attention to your struggle... and I forgot. I forgot that even though you were strong and even though you were quiet and even though you weren't calling out...

Even though all those things were true, I forgot you were still struggling. And I forgot to pay attention.

And I forgot that "I'm fine" doesn't always means "I don't need you." 

Sometimes "I'm fine" means "I'm doing okay... because you're here and because you care."

And so, I'm sorry. I'm sorry that I forgot to see the struggle, and I'm sorry that I didn't make more effort to be here.

I forgot you needed me.


Thursday, June 19, 2014

Choosing the People Who Influence You

When I was about 13, I had a friend that I spent a lot of time with. I didn't really recognize it at the time, but she wasn't really wasn't the nicest person ever. She was my friend, so I didn't see it... but she definitely wasn't nice to her mom and, even more so, not nice to her younger sister.

My mom has said that, when I would spend extensive amounts of time with this friend, I would come home and, for a couple of days, I would act out in the ways I had experienced. I would be nastier to my sisters myself. I would be snottier with my mom. I, of course, denied these things at the time... but in retrospect, I can look back and see that they were true.

It was probably this experience, more than anything, which taught me that who you spend your time with makes a difference in how you behave and who you become.

A Big Idea for me over the past year has been the thought that you get to choose who you want to be. If you want to be a kind person, you can choose to be a kind person. If you want to be well-read, you can choose to be that. If you want to be compassionate or rude or generous or stingy, you can make those choices.  And the choices that other people make don't have to dictate the choices that you make for yourself.

But along with that... there is an understanding that who you expose yourself to has an impact on the person you are choosing to be.  It's a lot easier to be positive when you are spending time with positive people. It's easier to spend time reading when you are around people who understand the value in that activity. It's easier to choose to show kindness to those around you when you spend some time with people who are kind themselves.

And these things are connected. You get to choose who you want to be, and you can choose to be that thing, no matter what choices the people around you are making.  But perhaps who we spend time with is an extension of our choices. If we choose to spend time with people who are mean and cruel, maybe that says something about how shallow our conviction to kindness really is.

I don't know... it's something to think about, isn't it?

Monday, June 16, 2014

Thursday Tales: His Loss

(on Monday)


Things ended.

So I got my hair cut, and I rejoined that gym. I bought a new dress. My friends took me out to brunch and told me how much better off I was without him.  How I was more than he deserved. How I was lucky to be free again.

Maybe they were right. So I told myself the same thing.  That I'm better off without him. That I'm more than he deserved. That I'm lucky to be free again.

And maybe I'm right.

But relationships don't exist in vacuums, and their demise doesn't lie on the shoulders of any single one of us. We ended because of things he did, yes.  But we ended because of things I did, too. And things he didn't do and things I didn't do.  And things we did and didn't do together.

And while my friends are taking me out to brunch and telling me how much better off I am now...  I know that his friends are doing the same thing.  Taking him out for drinks, telling him I was crazy, and that he's way better off without me, how lucky he is to be free again.

Maybe they're right too.  Maybe everyone is right.

But... as much as I toss my head and bring up every one of his offenses...  as often as I say, "Well, it's his loss!"  If I'm honest?  If I'm truly honest and I look deep into my heart, I know that the loss is mine, too.

And maybe we're better off apart, maybe that's true. But I loved what we were when we were together, too. And so I miss that... and I grieve that...

It wasn't just his loss.  It was ours.


Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Consequences to Our Choices

"I wish his girlfriend would DIE." My girl's indignation over perceived offenses was real.

"Oh no, sweetie," I admonished gently. "We don't say things like that about people. That's a pretty harsh thing to wish on someone. Everyone chooses badly sometimes, and we can afford to have compassion for people when they do."

"But, it's not fair..." she complained.

"Maybe it's not fair," I conceded.  "But... sometimes consequences aren't.  Everything we choose to do... both the good things and the bad things...  our choices have consequences.  Sometimes they're consequences that other people have to pay, sometimes they're consequences that we have to pay.  But... it's important to understand that consequences are the results of our choices. Sometimes they're consequences that we like, sometimes they aren't. Something they even seem really unfair.

"I think that consequences are there to teach us things.  Sometimes they teach us to make that choice again. Sometimes they teach us to not ever ever make that choice again. But they're lessons for us to learn.

"And it can be a hard thing when people we love have to pay consequences for their choices. Sometimes we want to interfere, we want to take their consequences on our own shoulders, pay them for them.

"But, when we do that, we take away their ability to learn the lessons. We steal wisdom from the people that we love most. Even when it's hard, it's wrong to rush in and fix it all. That's why I don't do your homework for you, even when you're behind. I think it's best, in those situations, to just walk quietly beside those we care about, to be there for them, to listen to them when they need an ear, to hold their hand. We can help them shoulder their consequences... but if we try to do it for them, then they lose in the long run.

"And because we love them... so do we."


Friday, May 23, 2014

The Masks We've Forgotten

What kind of masks do you wear? What does the world think about you that isn't quite true?

I remember once, I was talking to a friend that I mostly only knew online... and I was confiding about how much I struggle with worrying about what people think of me, or about the people who I know don't like me or about my own self-consciousness.

She was incredulous. She had no idea and thought that I always seemed so confident, so sure of myself... that me being self-conscious never even entered her mind as a possibility.  Not only that, but she said that she admired me for that confidence.

And it was so outside of what really lies in my heart that I had to laugh.

I think I'm pretty open here in this blog, so probably my insecurities wouldn't be a surprise to the people who are regular readers here. But, you guys, I'm a mess.  I'm a jumbled screwed-up mess of self-doubt, self-consciousness, self-everything! Half of the things I write here are pep talks for myself. And sometimes I worry that you're going to think I'm a broken record, that I just talk about the same things over and over, and I'm crazy in the head for not being able to let things go.

But you're right!  You're not wrong at all.  I am crazy in the head and I just vomit this stuff all over the internet. But I can't seem to learn the lessons, and I still need the pep talks.

Maybe I'm just stubborn.

Sometimes even I don't know the masks I wear. They're comfortable, and they're familiar. And they cover up the things that I'm afraid to reveal. But, over the years, I've worn them so much, I think they're me. I've forgotten that they're masks, and that they aren't really me.

Sometimes I need to remember.

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Thursday Tales: A Cinderella Ending

I know it's not Thursday, but this just showed up in my head this morning. :)



"Are there any other girls living in the house?" The words of the official floated into the kitchen from the living room.

I held my breath, waiting for the answer, as the dishwater dripped from my hands into the sink. "Oh... just Ellie," my stepmother answered.  Oh, just Ellie, I mimicked in my head. That woman just got under my skin. I couldn't wait until I had saved up enough side money to get my own place. "But, she never goes anywhere. She can't possibly be the girl you're looking for."

I laughed in my head. Oh, how little you know. But, for once, I was glad for her dismissal of me. It made things so much easier.

But, the poor schmuck saddled with the drudging task argued, "I'm sorry, ma'am. But my orders are to try this shoe on EVERY unmarried girl in town."

I could hear my stepmother sigh dramatically before calling, "Ellie!  Get in here!!!"

This was about to get complicated.  Ladies, if you find yourself saddled with a fairy godmother, make sure all her abilities are intact.  Like, oh I don't know... her hearing.  "I want to be tall" really isn't the same thing as "I want to go to the ball."  I'm just saying. Wiping my hands on the dishtowel, I stepped into the room, hoping the baseball cap I had stuffed my hair into would be enough to shield my face from being recognized.

"Miss," the official nodded his head slightly, with the smallest of smiles tugging up the corners of his mouth. I should have recognized Mr. Thomas's voice... the prince's security supervisor... and his best friend. This wasn't going to be easy to get out of. "Take a seat, please."

Gesturing at my cleaning clothes, I protested, "Is this really necessary? Surely, you can see that I'm not really the ball type."

"Just sit." Oh, why didn't I go back for that stupid shoe? Shouldn't fairy godmothers give you clothes that fit?

I kicked off my sneaker, and offered my thickly socked foot to Mr Thomas.

"Ah, nice try," he smiled. "Socks, too?"  I tugged one off and tossed it onto the floor, once again proferring the appendage for examination. "Thank you."  He slipped the shoe onto my foot, and sat back. "Huh.  Seems to fit pretty well, actually."

My stepmother rushed forward to argue. "Mr. Thomas, I assure you that Ellie was nowhere near the palace any of the last few nights. There is absolutely no way that she could be the girl you're looking for."

Mr. Thomas rubbed his jaw thoughtfully. "Is that so, Mrs. Baker?"  He turned his gaze on me. "Is that true? And consider yourself on the record, if that helps your tongue."

I glared at him and wriggled uncomfortably. "Well... it's not... exactly... true. It's... possible... that I might have slipped into the building."

"Mmmhmm." Mr Thomas turned to speak into his intercom. "Tell the prince I found his girl, Doug.  And bring him pronto."

I groaned. "Mr. Thomas... I assure you, I'm not what the prince thinks I am."

"Oh, I can see that, miss.  But, the prince is so taken, he's ordered the whole place searched for you." His gaze travelled over my clothes. "Not sure what he'll say when he sees you like that, though."

I stuck my tongue out at him. They can't jail you for that, right?

Still on his knees at my feet, he looked up at me and said quietly, "You could have said something at the ball. This all would have been much different."



I paced the room for the next 20 minutes, biting my fingernails and waiting for the royal car to arrive. When it did, the prince jumped out, not even waiting for the door to be opened for him.  Rushing into the house without knocking (charming, eh?), he addressed Mr. Thomas. "Chris, you found my girl?"

Mr Thomas nodded slowly. "She may not be what you're expecting."

The prince turned to me and fell at my feet, "Oh my sweet girl, I can't believe I found you. I've had Chris searching every house for three days!"

"Yes... I saw on the news..."

He grabbed my hand and kissed it. "It's no matter, it's no matter.  Now that I've found you, we can marry and you can move into the castle and you can have everything...  No more dishes!  No more... of whatever that is you're wearing... My god, I can't believe --"

"Your Highness," I interrupted him gently. "I...  I don't really know how to say this.  You're a really sweet guy, and I had a lot of fun at the ball. Really, I did, and I just want to thank you for the dances. But... I don't really think I'm ready to marry you... possibly ever.  I'm sorry that you went to all this trouble."

"But," he looked at me in confusion. "I'm the prince."

"Yes, I know who you are."

"And you came to the ball. And we danced!"

"Yes...  yes... I was there."

"And I'm the prince." He just couldn't seem to get off that.

"You said that already." I looked over his shoulder to Mr. Thomas for help, but he just grinned at me and shrugged in amusement. "Look, you're really nice and sweet and handsome, and I'm sure that you will find a girl who loves you and who wants to move into your castle and all that... stuff.  But... it's just not me."  I stood up and took his hand, leading him to the door. "It's okay... You'll be okay. You'll have another ball and find another girl to hunt down stalkerally and to live happily ever after with.  Just not with me."

He wandered down the path back to the car, muttering... "But I'm the prince.  She can't say No.  I'm the prince.

I sighed and turned to Mr. Thomas. "He'll be okay, right?"

He smiled, "Oh sure... he falls in love every week."

I opened my mouth to speak... stopped...  and tried again. "Mr Thomas..."

He shook his head, "Please... after all this, you can call me Chris."

I chewed the inside of my cheek. "I wasn't lying to the prince. I did have a good time at the ball... but... I don't really think it was because of the prince. And I know you're busy, tracking down a lot of smitten girls. But...  if you ever have time for a cup of coffee...  you know where to find me."

"Miss Ellie...."  he put a finger to my chin and tilted my face toward his. "I just may do that."

I smiled. "But... just coffee. Don't get any ideas!"


Thursday, April 24, 2014

Thursday Tales: The Invitation





I could jump.

I could jump, slip into the sea, and I could leave it all behind. There isn't even anyone to miss me anymore.

Can I tell you about it? The story of how I ended up here on this rock, staring into the sea below? I've heard it helps sometimes.... the telling. I'm just not sure whether I want it to help me get off onto the shore... or down into the water.

It begins simply, as I imagine most stories do. We just go about our lives, not expecting that anything extraordinary is about to happen. Maybe that's our problem - the not-expecting.  It takes us so completely by surprise when it does happen that we get swept up in it before we can blink... or sometimes don't even know it's happening until it's too late to change it. Too late to go back.

We can never go back.


Monday, April 21, 2014

Some of my Favorite Posts

Maybe you're a new reader to the blog, or maybe you've been with me from the beginning and beyond.  But, there's a lot of posts around here, and maybe it's a little daunting?  I had occasion to read through some of my old posts the other day, and I thought maybe it might be nice to go back and go through some of my favorites.

I know this probably still seems like a lot... but I culled it down from over 900!

Change


Change -- "Change isn't one simple choice. It's a process of a series of steps."

What Do You Do With the Hole? -- "Eventually, with nothing else to fill it with, I just filled it back up."

Becoming is Hard -- A poem of sorts about the pain of Becoming.

Making Others Change -- Have you ever been in relationship with someone and thought "If I could just get them to change this?"

More on Change



Masks and Being Yourself


Be You -- "They can't stop you from being you. Only YOU can stop you from being you, and don't you dare let 'them' be the reason that you hold back anymore."

Behind the Mask -- Who would you be if you took off your mask?

Beautiful Girl -- Did you know that you are beautiful?  Yes, you.

Choose Who You Are -- "You get to be who you want to be. You get to choose who that is."

More on Masks and Being Yourself


Friendship


You Mean Something to Me -- "To mean something, it feels important. It means we have a reason for being. A reason for getting up every day."

Love Isn't About Competition -- You get to choose what you put your time into...  are the relationships you're putting time into right now worth the investment?

What You Put Up With -- "They say that what you put up with is what you end up with. What are you putting up with?"

Accepting People Where They Are -- Thoughts on loving people for who they are and where they are right now...

More on Friendship

Hope


There Is Hope -- When your heart breaks and your soul cries out, There is hope.

Everything Has Been Done Before -- If history repeats itself... what's the point?

Word of the Day: Hope -- Sometimes hope is all we have to hold onto...  A piece written when a friend was quite ill.

Lost in Darkness -- For when the darkness is too overwhelming...

More on Hope


Hurt and Healing



Scars Left Behind -- "...a scar is never ugly. That is what the scarmakers want us to think. But you and I, we must make an agreement to defy them. We must see all scars as beauty... Because take it from me, a scar does not form on the dying. A scar means, 'I survived.'"

It's Okay to Hurt -- "It's okay to hurt and it's okay that it hurts to smile and it's okay if you cry over stupid things"

Picking Up When You've Lost -- Starting again when you've been broken...

You Will Come Back -- "Over time, I came back to myself. Because you do. That season of heartache doesn't last forever, and you eventually come back to yourself."

Forgiveness When You're Still Hurting -- How do you forgive when you're still hurting deeply for the offense?

More on Hurt and Healing

Letting Go


Facing the Truth -- The pain in facing truths that we just don't want to!

Let Go of Your Yesterday -- What are you holding onto?

I'm Glad I Walked Away -- Sometimes you have to let go of unhealthy friendships

Letting Go Bit by Bit -- Do you let go all at once?  Or can you only stand it a little teensy bit at a time?

More on Letting Go


Fear


Bravery -- "Baby, being brave isn't about not being afraid. Being brave is about being afraid but doing what you're afraid of, anyway."

Don't Wait -- "Why do we let fear stop us from saying the things our hearts beg us to say?"

Vulnerable Girl -- "I hope you know that your vulnerable heart does not make you weak. But, it makes you incredibly strong."

When I Get Mad -- When other emotions lie underneath your anger...

More on Fear


Kindness


A Simple Thought -- Kindness when people hurt you...


Guts to Be Kind -- "It's being kind to the people you don't like, the people who rub you wrong, the people you don't agree with, the people who do things that you just don't understand... that's the hard part."

More on Kindness




Trust and Forgiveness


Tearing Down the Walls -- Learning to trust again after you've built up walls to protect yourself...

I Can't Trust You -- What if it's yourself that you can't trust?

Trust Is Like a Vase -- "It takes a long time to piece trust back together. It's a possible thing, but it's a slow, long process -- one that requires time and patience, mutual commitment and more time."

Challenge of Forgiveness -- "The weak can never forgive. Forgiveness is the attribute of the strong." -- Mahatma Gandhi

Forgiven but Not Forgotten -- Do you struggle with being trusting, forgiving, AND wise?  Me too.

Just Because They Hurt You Once -- "...if we keep on going, keeping people at arm's length, being wary of what they could do to us... where does that leave us?"

More on Trust and Forgiveness


Thursday Tales Flash Fiction


The Mirror -- The morning after a couple's devastating fight... "'Maybe we're over, then.' Had he really said those words? Had I imagined them?"

Dari Mart and Paris -- Two young women... one afraid to dream.

The Mutant -- Poor Abby... the reluctant human queen of Fairyland. A cute one that always makes me smile.

Girl in the Picture -- When the girl in the picture speaks... you should listen.

The Muse -- Another of my favorites...  She goes to the park every week to watch him paint and write him into her stories.  What would he do if he knew?

Waiting for a Boy -- A teenage girl's attempt to create opportunity for love...

At Your Feet -- "How did you make it past my defenses? I really thought that I had built them too high for anyone to climb over. That I was impenetrable. and yet here I am, lying at your feet."

Watching Her Sleep -- They can't be together... but neither can he bear to let her go.

Starting to Like You -- "I'm starting to like you and it scares me. Until now, it didn't matter. You were just a person and I was just a person, and we were just two persons living in the same world, not mattering to each other. It didn't matter if we messed up or if one of us thought the other person was weird or crazy. Because we were just two people. Two people who didn't matter."

The Quiet Girl -- It's the quiet ones you have to look out for, isn't it?

These were the hardest for me to narrow down... So many of them hold bits and pieces of my heart. You can find more of them under Thursday Tales up at the top of every page.

Monday, April 14, 2014

Thoughts from a Recovering Grammar Nazi

Look, I get it.  People who can't write properly are a little irritating. It seems like it shouldn't be that difficult to figure out when to use "their/they're/there." I, too, know the impulse to correct or mock, and oh yes, the overwhelming need to passive aggressively bemoan the state of improper grammar that permeates the internet. I have been that girl.

Until I just... stopped.

I eventually got to a point where I thought, "Who cares? Does the fact that someone else used 'effect' incorrectly really affect me? Can't I just let it go and not worry about it? Can't I relax?"

What I found out was that... I could!  And I could generally just not care whether other people used the wrong word or spelled something wrong, whether by ignorance or laziness or the sheer act of their brain moving faster than their fingers.

It's not that I never notice it. But I've stopped letting myself be affected by it, and I've stopped not-extending grace to those who may mess up.

So, relax.  No one's doing it just to piss you off.

Thursday, March 20, 2014

When You Don't Know What to Say

What do you say when you don't know what to say?  When the heartache of someone you love is so deep and so hurtful... and you know that anything you said, any words you found...  they wouldn't be enough. They wouldn't be enough to change what hurts, or to cut through their pain to salve, or to even communicate how much your heart hurts for the pain theirs is feeling.

What do you say when there is literally nothing to say, nothing that could possibly be said?

Maybe the best you can do, though it never feels like it's enough, is simply to be there. Show up. Just show up. Let them know that you're there and that you're a safety net when holding on to their pain becomes too painful.

That hard roads don't have to be walked alone.

Thursday, March 6, 2014

Let Go of the Past

I was once part of a community that was riddled with jealousy and envy. Backstabbing, cruelty, and jockeying-for-position was the status quo. That's a terrible place to spend your time and to let your heart exist. It's hurtful. It's damaging.

In the middle of it, the person that the jealousy often revolved around got sick.  Really sick.  Scary sick. And yet, the jealousies and the in-fighting continued over who was most important.  It made me really angry. This person that we claimed to care about was in a hospital bed, unconscious.  And the only thing that mattered still was who was #1?  No...

Purely out of frustration, I remember tweeting, "If there was ever a time to set our petty jealousies aside, this is it."  I meant that. Almost losing someone has a way of changing how you think and how you act and how you feel. And when the person got better, it didn't change my feelings.

I was done with letting those evil emotions rule me. I was done letting them have any sort of control of me, and I turned aside from them.  Because they just didn't matter.

There is a saying that goes, "Let go of the past and it will let go of you."  Easy to say, hard to do.  But... it's also true. I find that I can look back on the people who I'd once been so hurt by, and feel honest sorrow and pity that they are still there. I can offer sincere forgiveness. It doesn't bother me if they think ill of me anymore.

That past doesn't hold me any longer because I made the choice to turn from it.  And so, if there is a past that is holding onto you, maybe it's because you are holding onto it. Maybe it's time to stop.