Friday, December 14, 2018

Introvert Problems?

I'm odd.

I'm an introvert. But... also really friendly. I have adopted my dad's ability to strike up a conversation with anyone in the line at the grocery store. And also, talking to people beyond that initial small talk makes me a little nervous. I have a job where I lead workshops with 20+ people that I adore. And small group conversation in which I am a participant is just about the worst thing you can do to me.

I have this big open courtyard where I'm super-open and will let anyone into... and yet my inner walls can be very high and I'm super-picky about who I'll let past them. And if I ever do, I have to work really hard to NOT kick people back out from fear.

I don't make real friends easily. And I'm even worse at maintaining them... I think, partly, because I have a deeply rooted fear of that moment of panic when you're talking to someone, and you've sort of finished the line of conversation you were just on, and you're scrambling for what the next one is going to be. I don't know if everyone else panics in that moment, but I panic. I feel very very inept and pretty sure that whoever I'm with is never going to want to hang out with me again.

I've been out a couple times over the last couple months with old friends where I just... didn't feel that... and it's hard to communicate the relief and gratitude I felt for it.

Several weeks back, I went out with an old friend that I've known for 10 years. We met because of mutual interest in a musical group... lol Well.  She owns it, I follow it. I guess that's mutual interest. Sort of.  Anyway, we began a friendship... half one of friendship, half one of mentoring. She's been terribly kind to me over the years in ways I will always appreciate, and I love her.  But... we hadn't seen each other for three or four years, and when we decided to meet for coffee, I felt that old fear flare up.  "What if we run out of things to talk about in 10 minutes? What if I can't think of what to say? I'm bad at this. What if it's weird? What if it's a total disaster?"

Which... ended up being ridiculous. I worried about filling an hour over coffee. But, our coffee date turned into a coffee... and then across the street for drinks... and then down the block for dinner with her son.  Like 7 hours? Not seeing each other for 3 years gave us tons to catch up on and talk about... lives, our kids, our love lives, work, gossip, lessons and regrets, hopes, plans for the future, the literal whole 9 yards.

I walked back to my car with a full and happy heart.... but also a grateful one. All those things I had worried about just weren't a thing.

Last week, my husband and I met a couple for brunch who are some of our dearest of friends. These ones I didn't even worry about...  We used to live in Southern California, and we had the most awesomest of friend groups when we lived there. They were from that time. We went to college with Fred, we worked in youth ministry at a great church together, and he has been like a brother. When he (finally!) found a woman he loved, I was totally nervous about whether we would get along. But we ended up totally clicking and I adore her!  They moved to Vancouver a year ago, and we have been (badly) trying to get together ever since. But, mission finally accomplished!

Perfect day. Full heart. Embarrassed that it took us so long!

Maybe I just need to worry about all that less. Avoid people less. Be less odd.

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Look Forward, Dumbass

Sometimes when I go running... especially if I'm on the bike path...  there are moments when I am trying to run forward, but I'm also trying to look behind me. Perhaps I'm looking to pass someone, perhaps there's a bend in the road. Mostly, I'm wanting to see if there's a bicyclist about to pass me -- it's a well-used route to Microsoft and some of those bicyclists are SERIOUS.  I've been nearly run down in the past.

But, it's pretty hard to move forward in a way that doesn't make you appear drunkish when you're trying to move forward and look backward at the same.  You can't move in a direction your head isn't facing, and you end up veering off. It just doesn't work.

And I suppose it's the same way in life.

I'm a crazy enthusiast of reflection... I could reflect all day -- hence the copious number of posts in this blog circling around the same thoughts over and over. The times of the year where I allow myself to sit down, reflect on the past year, and think about what I want to happen next? Those are probably my favorite parts of the year. I love that stuff.


Reflection has a purpose. It's good to look at where you've been. To take stock of what happened that was good, what happened that wasn't. The choices you made that worked well, the choices you made that were a disaster... but SO THAT you can move forward. There's a point where you stop reflecting and you start moving.

And if you insist on continuing to look back while you try to move forward...

you're going to crash into a bicyclist or fall into the river or break a leg or...

You can't move in a direction your head isn't facing. And if you don't turn around and look in the direction you actually want to go, you'll just end up right back where you left.

Monday, November 19, 2018

A Really Long Lesson

It was several years ago that I was mindlessly scrolling through quotes and pictures and lists on Pinterest, and stopped on one that gave me pause. It was a post on "signs you're involved with a narcissist," and it gave me pause because it felt oddly familiar. It reminded me of a friendship I was involved in, and that correlation dovetailed me into a wave of guilt.

I didn't really know that much about narcissism at the time, and only had a passing sense that it was more-or-less nothing but a description of a jerk. It carries such a negative cultural connotation. So I felt guilty for even thinking it. I genuinely cared for that person. How could I love them and think they might be a narcissist?

I buried it. It wasn't a thought I wanted to entertain.

But it was a seed of doubt that never stayed buried. Over the years, I would continue to see random bits about narcissism. They never really stopped feeling familiar - so it just sort of became this secret belief that I kept hidden. Something I believed but avoided, laced with guilt, complicated by affection - and something I never ever shared. Who would understand?

Until I met someone who did. It was a "me too" moment of the Brene Brown kind. She says, "If you put shame in a Petri dish, it needs three things to grow exponentially: secrecy, silence, and judgment. If you put the same amount of shame in a Petri dishes and douse it with empathy, it can't survive. The two most powerful words when we're in struggle: 'Me too.'" And I think she's right. The "me too" didn't make it something I suddenly started sharing - but it took away my guilt and shame, and replaced them with the possibility that I wasn't crazy. That affection and belief could be co-existing states. I allowed myself to admit that it was what I believed, and to simply grow more comfortable with it.

I found myself stepping back a little from that friendship at the beginning of the year.  He had said some things I'd found hurtful and... What I decided was that if I was going to continue in that friendship, I was going to need some better tools to deal. So, I took a deep study dive into narcissism. It took me a little while to find the kind of information I wanted- so much is written from the standpoint of victims who've been hurt and I wanted something more even-handed. I found it in Craig Malkin's Rethinking Narcissism.

I got a lot more out of it than I had planned.

I learned a lot. I learned what the scale of narcissism looks like - what healthy narcissism is, what the unhealthy looks like, what echoism is - where it all comes from, how to better recognize it. I found some insight into how you get drawn into it, why it's been hard for me to pull out of it. With a sad heart, it helped me to realize that the things I found to be most consistently hurtful were things that I couldn't change, no matter how much patience, loyalty, and trust I laid out. But it also gave me a healthier lens with which to see those things - how they were far more connected to the personal fears of someone else than they were anything to do with me. That they really weren't about me at all -- and that was tremendously freeing to my residency in self-blame.

In the end, it affirmed my belief that you could think someone exhibited those tendencies and still love them -- but also made me see that loving them might be safer from afar with healthier boundaries.  And a moment intended to wound sealed that.

Looking back....

I went out with a friend recently and admitted with chagrin, "You were right. You warned me not to get involved."

"I did... And you weren't going to listen. But it sounds like you know now."

And maybe that's all you can do.

Wednesday, November 14, 2018

True at the Same Time

I was a young mom the first time I really understood that two seemingly conflicted things could both be true at the same time.

I'd been having a really hard time, struggling to just hold on from day to day when one of my closest friends said to me, "Jojo... I think you should see a doctor. What I've been watching you go through really sounds like depression to me."

At the time, that perplexed me. I'd been having a hard time, sure, but... I'd just been laughing with my friends about something. If I was capable of moments of happiness, how could I be depressed? That, of course, stemmed from an inaccurate definition of depression, but it was also the first time that I understood that conflicting things could be true.

You can be depressed but also joyful.
You can be angry with someone that you love.
You can be tired, and yet awake.
You can share tenderness with someone who has broken your heart.
You can be motivated and yet worn out.
You can be happy and sad.
You can miss someone that you know you are better off without.

Heart truths, I have found, are rarely mutually exclusive.

Complicated creatures with complicated feelings.

And all true.

Tuesday, November 13, 2018

Write what you need.

At the beginning of the school year, I sat down and wrote out some areas that I wanted to focus this year.  Some small, some big...  One of them was giving myself the space to write more.

That ebbs and flows a bit... partly with what I have on my mind, partly with how much time I have, partly with how tired I feel. But, compared to how much I wrote last year -- which was crap nothing-- I'm pleasantly happy with that.

But when I wrote those goals, I also sat down and wrote out some details for each one...  and writing had three that have stuck out to me, that I've tried to follow.  Guidelines that I've not always followed well in the past, but that I think are more in line with what I want writing to be in this season.

1. You have permission to be honest.
2. Above all, this is for you. Don't write for feedback. Don't write what you think others want to hear.
3. Write what you need.

This is where I am right now. This is the aim -- in all its convolutedness and stops and starts. And that's okay -- because right now, it's just for me.

Monday, November 12, 2018

A Morning Tale

The fire burned slowly in the hearth on that cold morning, and she sat by the window with a cup of tea, watching the world outside. The pine needles had long begun to fall from the trees, already brown, and they littered her yard like a forest of fossilized ferns.

They fell in what was left of her garden. They fell in the leaves of her rhododendrens. They fell on the railing of her porch. They fell so heavily amongst the blades of grass that her yard had ceased to look so much as a yard, as it was just a graveyard for the trees' discards.

What was left of them blew softly in the wind.

A lone golf ball nestled amongst them under a bush. There were no golf courses nearby and she didn't know anyone who played... Her thoughts gently pondered who had left it there. She'd probably taken care of him anyway.

Her eyes roamed through the tangled web of needles to rest on the birdhouse that lay at its far edge. She nearly always forgot it was there.

Inside the birdhouse, though she had mostly forgotten, there lived a wee robin. His name was Charles. Charles woke every morning and hopped to the round door of the birdhouse. He stretched his wings and tried to speak, but could only chirp.

And before he flew down to the needle-strewn yard to sift for his breakfast of worms, he eyed the house warily. He searched the window for her face. And he planned.

He hadn't always been a bird named Charles who lived in a birdhouse and pecked for worms in the morning.

He'd once been Charles the Man.  That was his golfball.  Someday soon, the witch would pay.

Sunday, November 11, 2018

10 Favorite Songs (circa 2018)

I always think that you get to know a lot about a person when you troll the music they listen to... what stirs their soul.  Right now, my Fall playlist has something like 300 songs on it -- but these are the ones that I like a lot at the minute and rarely find me skipping them to something else.

1. Kacey Musgraves, Rainbow.  Kacey has been one of my absolute favorite female artists for a long while... ever since I heard "Merry Go 'Round" several years ago. I love that she's a little quirky and just does her own thing.  This song is off of her new album and I love it. Hearing her sing it in a big arena, stripped back and pure, was about the best thing ever.

2. The Vamps, Just My Type.  My daughter Alicia turned me onto this little pop group from Britain.  I find them to be a lot of fun, lots of energy, and a ton of fun to bop to in the car.

3. Wrecking Ball, Sarah Blackwood, Jenni Pleau, Emily Bones.  This is Sarah from the group Walk Off the Earth.  I've loved this cover ever since they put it out and couldn't download it fast enough. I just think it's so pretty!

4. Butterfly, Christina Perri. My friend Lisa introduced me to Christina years ago, and I've loved her ever since.  She appeased the angsty in me. :) I've always loved this song about letting go that which won't be caught.

5. In the Blood, Lesley Pike.  Lesley became a friend a couple years ago in a moment of serendipity, and this is probably my favorite track from her new album (though some days, that changes). It's really pretty, fun to harmonize to, and touches all my tender sweet spots... with a little bit of bittersweetness.

6. In the Waiting, Kina Grannis.  Several years ago, I started using this website called Mixtapes (or something like that). You could basically make public playlists of your favorite songs...  What I loved it for is that I would put in the name of an artist I liked, and playlists would come up with that person in it... but it would often introduce me to new indie artists that I also liked.  One weekend, while doing that, this one song kept coming up in different lists that I liked (Valentine, if you care to look it up), and that's how I stumbled onto Kina Grannis. Ever since, she's become someone I always keep an eye on. This is one of her newer songs that I really love.

7. We Should Be Friends, Miranda Lambert. My other country queen!  I love her to death.  I have fun fun memories of her last concert, befriending the girl next to me in the pit, and dancing the night away to this song. :)

8. Queen, Shawn Mendes.  Obviously, also Alicia's influence.  But I love Shawn.  And it amuses the heck out of me that some girl snubbed him, and it made him mad enough to write this song.

9. Have it All, Jason Mraz. Joel and I saw Jason in concert this summer -- quite possibly the most positive upbeat shows I've ever been to -- and I loved this new-ish song that he finished with.

10. Space Cowboy, also Kacey Musgraves.  I do love her so she gets two. Love love love this song.

Friday, November 9, 2018

Through Different Eyes

Several years ago, I was blowing off steam to a friend because my husband was working a lot.  And she laughed at me.

"Jojo..." she said, "You know you're exactly the same."

"What do you mean?"

"Well... you don't have a lot of middle ground.  When you're into something or you think something is important, you're into it like 900%. You give it everything you have, and a little bit more that you don't."

"Oh. Maybe. I mean, I guess that's probably true."

Sometimes, I find that I get so close to things that I can't really see the bigger picture.  There's that saying that you can't see the forest for the trees... but I envision it a bit more like the difference between normal-person-view and what the yard looked like to the miniature children in "Honey, I Shrunk the Kids."

What seems like an insurmountable obstacle... is really just a blade of grass if you look at it from a different vantage point.  But I get so stuck in the first view that I forget there is another. I believe in the truth of the one without considering whether that truth really needs to be that important.

And sometimes I just need a little help to step back and see it through different eyes.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

Not Your Timing

I've been taking better control of my health and self-care since the beginning of August. Some days, it's an upward slog!  But I'm doing it. 

I finally found a new "why," and that's helping.  I haven't really had one for a long while.  I'm not positive it's an entirely healthy why, but it's strong enough to keep me going for now.

I've had a really good string of weeks' worth of weight loss, with 6 weeks in a row of 2lb losses.  I know I was due for a mini-plateau.  That's just how my body works.  Lose, lose, lose, OMG YOU'RE GOING TO STARVE TO DEATH I AM NOT LETTING GO OF A SINGLE OUNCE!, oh we're not dead, fine, lose, lose.


When you're making the right choices, you impatiently want all the right results NOW. Even when you know that's unreasonable.

So I did lose this week... but it was 0.2 -- which is basically nothing but a good pee and not 2 lbs at all.

So today, I am taking solace and comfort in these things:

  • My food choices were on point.
  • I got 6 blue dots this week. (Which is WW-ese for 'I made reasonable healthy choices all week.')
  • I earned 100+ Fitpoints -- moving a crapton of firewood and running twice.
  • I've already mealplanned for next week until we leave for a mini-vacation.
  • I'm running again.
  • My leader/coach/longtime friend came up to me in line this morning and whispered, "I can SEE your weight loss" in my ear. I can't see it yet, so that was really really nice to hear.

Earlier this week, I was reading an Instagram post of a WW ambassador who was sort of in the same place I am today.  She made great choices all week, worked out multiple times, felt great about the choices she'd made -- and the scale rewarded her with a 2lb gain.  Suck!

But a comment someone left on it caught my eye: "Have faith. The scale has its own timing." -- And that stuck with me.

So, relax, Impatient Me. Keep making choices that you know are good for your body and soul. Have faith.

Friday, October 19, 2018

Boy Shopping

At the coffee shop I frequent, there is a big oblong table in the middle of the room with several stools around it. You often end up sitting with others -- while I try not to eavesdrop, it's hard to not hear what other people are talking about, and I often find myself chatting with strangers.

Last weekend, I was having my Saturday morning breakfast and doing some brainstorming, sitting next to two late 20-something girls. They were scanning through pictures on one girl's phone.

I couldn't quite tell at first whether they were perusing cute guys or looking at make-up pictures.

"Those eyebrows, though!"
"That looks nice!"

But when one of them murmured, "Oh. Do YOU need a baby momma?" -- I busted out laughing.

Definitely cute guys. Caught, they laughed with a touch of chagrin.  This girl had an entire Pinterest board full of guy photos. I laughed.

"It's okay," I reassured them. "When I was in high school, and I was having a hard time, my mom would go, 'Come on, let's go boy shopping.' We'd hop in the car, she'd drive me to the local college campus, and we'd just tool around looking for cute boys on the frat house lawns."

"OH. MY. GOD," one of them said. "Your mom is AWESOME. Is she adopting??"

Thursday, October 18, 2018

Thursday Tales: Game Over

She stifled a scream as the arrow pierced through her skin.  She knew this one had hit its mark.

Liza crumpled against the wall, feeling its cold seep into her skin, and with her last short breaths, she remembered.

She remembered being a child.
She remembered being young and carefree.
She remembered her first love and all the loves that had come after.
She remembered the people she'd walked over, and the people who had walked over her.
She remembered the pain of both.
She remembered all the things she'd love to live again, and all the things she wished that she'd chosen differently.
She remembered everything she'd sacrificed to come to this moment.
She just remembered.

At the last moment, her vision sizzled -- as it sizzled every time -- and the words flashed before her eyes.


She always chose "Try again."

Monday, October 15, 2018

Believe in the Impossible

But, to live in a world where fairies are real is to live in a world where dragons are, as well.

Dragons and Monsters and Trolls.

And Heroes.

Definitely heroes -- because every hero's story is imbued with a tale of redemption. Trial and failure.. and ultimately triumph. Whether that comes in the form of a jubilant return home or a the dragging a wounded self out of the rubble to a new reality.

And you need that. You need to know that your trial and your failure can become redemption and triumph.  And maybe just the redemption is enough.

To know that your wounds are not for nothing, and your pain is for a purpose. To know that there is something bigger at work, and that there are things worth fighting for. Worth surviving. To know that you can rise again.

And perhaps, really, this is what belief in the impossible is for -- for what we come to believe is possible gets smaller and smaller when it needs to instead become larger and larger.

The hero we can be needs to believe in the impossible to become.

Sunday, October 14, 2018

Where the Fairies Live

Leaving the house on Saturday morning, my spirits high, my trip to the car was interrupted when I spied these little darlings growing next to the walkway in our garden. I couldn't resist pulling my phone out to snap a couple pictures of them.

Later in the day, as we were sitting on the couch watching football, I pulled them out and showed my little friends off to my husband like they were new kittens (which I also have now!)

"Look what I found outside! Aren't they cute?"

Humoring me, he said, "I suppose that means you don't want me to weed them out, then."

"NO! But they're so little! Besides," I argued, reasonably, "you can't pick them. That's where the fairies live."

My darling logical analytical computer engineer husband rolled his eyes. "They are not. Fairies aren't real."

Now... I don't know. 


I mean, if I were to use only my logical analytical brain (which is a waste of half of brain, btw), I don't know if fairies are real. Or leprechauns. Or ghosts. Or Narnia or Middle-Earth or Gilead. Or unicorns or pegasuses. (Pegasi?)  I mean... I guess.... probably they aren't. Maybe.

But... I like to live in a world (and a brain) where they could be.

Saturday, October 13, 2018

Storms and Stories

I sit by the window, wrapped in a blanket, a cup of something warm in my hand and the storm rages outside. I stare into it, its force hynotizing me with its strength, mirroring the storm that rages in my soul.

If I stepped outside - as I will eventually have to do - I know the winds will do their worst with me, whipping my body this way and that, threatening to wrest me into its center.

The whirlwind of my thoughts threatens to do the same.

But, for this moment at least, I am content to sit by this window.
Wrapped in this blanket.
Clutching this cup of tea.

I am content to be sheltering out of the storm, watching it from a place of safety.

I know both storms will need to be dealt with. I know they are not over.

But, for now, the peace inside is a welcome respite.

Wednesday, October 10, 2018

A New Adventure at 42

It feels weird to say that I'm 42 and I'm not really sure what I like to do. It's something I've been thinking a fair bit about the last couple of weeks.

I have these journalling cards that I bought forever ago called "Life Coach in a Box."  Sounds silly, I guess, but it's just a bunch of introspective questions to help you revamp different areas of your life.  I was flipping through them while at the coffee shop and my eyes landed on one of the first questions on "Recreation."

To be honest, Recreation wouldn't be the first area of my life that jumped out to me as something that might need to be tweaked.  But, the first question was about brainstorming the things you liked to do as a child... and it made me think about what I enjoyed doing... and how I wasn't quite sure what that was anymore.

I don't know if that's weird. Part of that, I know, is that I've been a manband fan for the last ten years, in a slightly psychotic 250% fashion, and I'm at the point now where I'm finally ready to put that aside.  But it's taken up a good part of my thoughts and time and emotion in that ten years, so now I'm a little bit, "Well, now what?"

But, part of it, too, is just where I'm at. My kids are all high school juniors and seniors... it's not long before they all start flying the coop in one fashion or another, and I'm starting to wonder who I am, what do I do when I'm not actively raising teenagers, driving them around, making memories, doing what they like to do. And maybe a lot of it is that I'm not quite sure who I am when that's not my primary focus.

So maybe it's not totally weird.  Maybe the process of figuring it out again could be fun. Maybe the things I liked when I was a kid are still the things I like now.  Maybe they're not.

And maybe the game of finding new things could be an adventure worth savoring.

Wednesday, October 3, 2018

Collector of Advice

I am a collector... of advice. Probably because I harbor too much self-doubt. Too little self-trust.

Am I understanding things correctly? Am I missing something? Am I being unreasonable? Is this even the right thing or am I going to regret this in two days? Do I even know what I'm talking about? Am I being unfair? Am I expecting too much? Too little? 

The tape plays on.

And so I collect advice. Some comes from peers. Some comes from my mentors. Some comes unsolicited from people who don't really know the full of it but would like to contribute anyway -- which I generally toss, but not really, because it floats around in my head for longer than it should, all mixed up with the doubt and the trust.

Much of it just swirls in my mind ad nauseum. Some of it gets saved forever.
Don't go back ..... Eventually they will f*ck you over, they always do. Sometimes it hurts, sometimes it's C'est la vie, sometimes you're so ready for them to go it's just a massive relief.
Some of it doesn't make sense at first... Or it does cognitively, but I don't understand it enough in my heart to put it into practice. Sometimes it takes years until it gets there. Sometimes it's advice that I know is well-meant with love, but that I know I'm not ready to take -- so I've kept it.  Until I am.

Until I lose my doubt.
Until I trust myself.
Until I'm ready.

Tuesday, October 2, 2018

Top Ten Goals for Fall 2018 and beyond

I have finally (fingers crossed) gotten all my children back in school (of one sort or another), and it was time for me to think about what I want this school year to look like and where I want to put my focus.


My Top 10 Goals for the Season

  1. Get kids back on a normal sleep schedule. 
  2. Put activity back into my lifestyle.
  3. Foster a priority of better self-care and calm.
  4. Consistently eat on-plan.
  5. Take the time to read more.
  6. Find some time to visit home, Amanda, Kendra.
  7. Give yourself space to write.
  8. Experience this year the best that you can.
  9. Make space for the activities you love.
  10. Delegate. You're not the only one who can do dishes.

Monday, October 1, 2018

Thoughts and Ramblings: Lesley Pike and "Honey and Rust"

"Good luck on your new album... Is it superstitious to say that? .... And as your new music takes shape, I hope the process of writing finds you well and happy. I've always really liked your songs that left me feeling sort of empowered - I hope it all goes well."

I sent that to Lesley Pike two years ago when she announced she was starting to write for another album, intended as a kind message of something resembling closure. Which I am obviously really bad at, as that message ended up turning into a friendly relationship of sorts. I'm more hesitant to claim friendship with people than I once was. Just because I think of someone as a friend doesn't mean they think of me that way. But we'll say friendly, at least.

This is filled with a touch of serendipity for me. Something I didn't plan for, but needed. A shared love for a certain genre of reading, but not just... I needed someone to talk to. Someone I could be butt-honest with about things I had always avoided saying out loud or even admitting to myself. Someone who wouldn't tell me I was being crazy or unfair. I needed a listening ear and a soft place to land when I inevitably crashed.

Musically, I like Lesley for the same reasons I like Kina Grannis. For the same reasons I love Miranda Lambert's "Weight of These Wings" or Kacey Musgraves or Christina Perri. The music I play the most over and over, especially from female artists, is music I can find myself in, music that has depth to its source and something for me to sink my teeth into. And I kind of think that the only way you can make music like that is to put a good chunk of yourself into it. I'd heard Lesley's last couple albums... I knew she was that kind of songwriter.

"Honey and Rust" came out while I was in Ireland. I downloaded it one morning and listened in the early morning hours while waiting for a teenager to wake up, and then a few more times while we flew to Liverpool. I flipped to a song I knew would be on there first out of... if I'm honest, probably curiosity and a little bit of trepidation. Is it possible to be disappointed in something you already know? ... but then flipped back to the top to listen through like a normal person.

Some songs made me smile... Who can resist a snappy song of redemption and triumph over the trials that threaten to bring you down?  Phoenix is that song, and is frequently in my head. (Sorry, People of Target.) Muscle Memory, more than anything to me, pulses along the lines of the Mindfulness I've been trying to capture over the last couple years -- balancing between obsessing about the past and worrying about what might come next to center on what is.

My favorite is probably In the Blood. It's simple, it's heartfelt...  it's easy to find myself in it. And that's not a very long analysis, but it's the nicest thing that I could possibly say about any piece of music I loved.  I listen to it a lot.

I mean, y'all...

I can see you looking for love in those places
Searching in everyone's face and everywhere it can't be found.
I can feel you running away from what heals you
Spinning your wheels, trying to keep your feet up off the ground
Darling, I'll be here when you come down.

Two years have gone by since that message, Lesley... and the music has taken shape... and a lot has happened... and I hope the writing has left you well and happy and resilient.

Thank you for listening to me.

Thursday, September 20, 2018

My tug-of-war with Byron Katie :)

A long while back, a friend of mine recommended a book by Byron Katie to me. I picked up Loving What Is and started reading it.  As memory serves, I'm almost certain I was on a trip somewhere because I remember an airplane. 

Not that an airplane has anything to do with this.

I read the first couple chapters... and I hated it. 

It made me mad. 

There was this section I was reading, and the gist of what made me mad was this idea that we were wrong, or at least unhelpful to ourselves, to get stuck in believing people "should" act a certain way when they aren't.  It's hard to explain if you haven't read it yourself. But, she really argued against that idea, and I wanted to argue right back. 

People who are being dipshits SHOULD act differently!!

It just made me mad... or...  it might be more accurate to say that I just didn't want to do it that way. I wasn't ready to let go of the "they should be different"s.  I was still hanging on to what I wanted.

I put it away. I wasn't ready for that. I chalked it up to "Well... we can't ALWAYS like the same books." :)

Fast forward many many months... and I was sitting on the floor, matching socks, and listening to a podcast on my headphones, when the podcast guest was Ms Katie.

The guy who hosted the show was going through a time of upheaval in his life. He'd recently broken up with his girlfriend, and was having a pretty hard time getting through it and healing.  And so I just listened while Byron Katie went through the Work with him, asking him questions, guiding him through one part or another.

But she said something that really resonated and stuck with me. The gist of it was that he wasn't necessarily grieving the relationship as it was.  But, he was grieving for his hopes and dreams of what that relationship would become. It was maybe less that the relationship itself had ended, but that the hope had to end. The pictures in his head had to end. Letting go of the relationship itself held less pain than that of letting go of his future.

That's stuck with me for a long time.  And as I've walked through the healing of walking away from a friendship I had once really valued, I've come back to that a few times. My thoughts about what could have been were harder to let go of than what actually was.  Maybe she isn't crazy, after all.

Monday, September 17, 2018

Calgon, take me away!

I realize that this is belated... and if I was going to do this, given that my children are now 18, 18, and 17, I probably should have started years earlier...  but I have decided that, from now on, I'm just going to take September off from life.

A deserted island. A solitary beach. Definitely a maid and a chef.

And a bartender.

It's been a rough week for the beginning of school... full of unexpected twists and turns.  Grief, unexpected situations, anxiety, counselling, starting community college, withdrawing from an old school, registering in a new one, disappointed hopes, a freaking lot of barking.

I'm pretty good at being a mom, you guys... but JE-SUS.

P.S. This graphic made me laugh for reals.

Tuesday, August 28, 2018

Becoming at peace

In the end, I guess it doesn't matter. I've known that I would end up here for two years. I just didn't know how or when or what it would entail in the end.

I've been so butt-dumb vague for now that this probably doesn't even make sense to most people. And to those that it does, it's either understandable or it's not, and I couldn't do anything about that anyway without betraying myself.

I genuinely don't want anyone to be disappointed in me. But I want to be disappointed in me even less. I can only go down my own road, even if I'm the only one on it.

And I'm afraid that sounds all mad and defiant - but it's not. I've just realized how it has be, and am striving to be at peace with a different direction.

Friday, August 24, 2018

Leaning in

I've tried not to hurry through this. Brene Brown talks about leaning into the discomfort -- letting yourself feel it, not skipping the grieving in order to get to the healing.  I think that I do that a lot. My logic brain kicks in (though my husband would probably argue that my logic brain doesn't show up very often), and I rationalize the grief, the sadness, the disappointment until I will myself to just move on.

I'm a good "shove it under the rug"-er.

But I think you rob yourself of something when you hurry through the discomfort.  Healing has to be better than avoiding and pretending. So, though I'm not very good at it, I've tried to let myself hover a little bit.  To take my time, to let myself be sad, to let myself feel the regret, to understand the disappointment and what it is I'm disappointed in.  To allow the disappointment to exist without trying to run in and fix it.  To admit that it isn't really fixable.

While that's been slower... I think it's made it easier to let go of.

Thursday, August 23, 2018

Self-Blame vs Disappointment

Back in January, I was reading a book, and it was talking about the difficulties that some people have in letting go of relationships. There was so much in this section of the book that felt familiar to me.  The author described how many times, instead of leaving, you find reasons to stay -- particularly by taking up residence in self-blame. If you can make you the problem, then you can fix the problem.  More or less.

He went on to state something that I've found myself thinking about a lot, off and on, ever since:

One way you can liberate yourself from this kind of self-criticism is by confronting a feeling you've probably come to fear more than you realize: disappointment.

Disappointment doesn't seem like much at first.  The first time I read it, I almost skimmed past it.  Anger and hurt and resentment sound like more important emotions -- like their immediate potency makes them more valid. Disappointment sounded like a throwaway.  But as I read on, I returned to it and let it sink in.

I would rather be angry.  If I'm being honest. Anger is protective and eventually burns out... disappointment has to be faced and accepted and dealt with.

That has been harder.

Rethinking Narcissism, Dr Craig Malkin

Wednesday, August 22, 2018

Don't be disappointed in me

For a good number of years, the well-meant advice was to not open the box. It wasn't a good idea, I'd regret it, it wasn't a healthy thing to do.  But I was stubborn, and I thought I wanted what was in it, and so I merrily went about opening it anyway, but with a litany of reasons to explain of why I was willing to ignore the advice, why I was willing to accept the risk, why I wasn't an idiot.

Because, I think, more than anything...  I loved those people who gave me the advice, and I didn't want them to be disappointed in me.

Fast forward a few years, and I shamefully admit that they were probably right.  It wasn't a good idea, it wasn't a healthy thing for me to do, what was in the box wasn't as great as I thought it would be.  I'm carefully trying to put the lid back on it and set it in the corner, but find myself with a similar need that I had before. I want to explain because...

... because I don't want anyone to be disappointed in me.

Maybe because I'm a little disappointed in me, too.  For which thing, I'm not entirely sure - or maybe it's for all of them.

Tuesday, August 21, 2018

Currently: August 2018 edition

Current Books: Let's see...  I'm reading "Everything Trump Touches Dies" by Rick Wilson, who is a Republican strategist I started following on Twitter a couple years ago who makes me laugh often.  I'm slowly reading "When Things Fall Apart: Heart Advice for Difficult Times" by Pema Chodron, which was recommended to me by my friend Lesley. That one requires a slow read...  there is much to be chewed on.  I recently finished "America's First Daughter," which I really enjoyed - but am now in search for my next fiction read?

Current Playlist: I actually just added a ton of songs to my phone -- about 800 -- with plans to separate them into playlists for myself.  It's pretty much everything I own that I like (with a small exception)...  but there is a lot of Kacey Musgraves and Miranda Lambert, who have been my go-to artists for awhile now.  A lot of Shawn Mendes and Jacob Whitesides (my favorite of Alicia's music interests).  A lot of Christina Perri and Meghan Trainor.  Who else... Ed Sheeran. And a couple new-to-me-right-now-but-owned-a-long-time-ago musicals. :)

Current Shame-Inducing Guilty Pleasure: Ok, we were just in Vancouver, BC last weekend and stumbled across this ice cream joint called Earnest Ice Cream. Oh. My. God.  I got the "Oatmeal Brown Sugar" flavor, and it was basically like someone turned oatmeal cookie dough into ice cream. Somehow.  It is very good that I do not have one next door.

Current Colors: I'm pretty sure my colors are generally always the same. :)  Blues and purples and greens...  with a smattering of yellow on game days. 

Current Food: Man, I don't know.  I've recently gotten myself back on-plan... so my breakfasts have been a lot of yogurt/berries/granola and lunches a lot of chicken salad wraps.  I had a fried twinkie at the fair, that was different. Not really good. But different.

Current Drink:
Daytime: Skinny Cinnamon Dolce Latte, if I'm at Starbucks. Nonfat/half-sweet Cafe Stefano at Five Stones
Evening: Joel's had me all over trying out beers this summer, and I have branched out a LITTLE from my normal comfort zone of porters and stouts.  Porters are still my favorite drinking beer, but I had a lager and a belgian white and some of his kolsh.   I even sipped a bit of one of his IPAs and didn't hate it.

Current Favorite Favorite: Mostly I am just enjoying my summer with no guilt. We have been busy, but doing all fun things.  Alicia and I are finishing up the summer with a very fun week before she goes back to school. Ed Sheeran concert followed by a week in Ireland followed by a hop to Liverpool for the Fusion Festival featuring Shawn Mendes before we fly back for the start of school.

Current Wishlist: Right now? Right now, I'd say my wishlist is mostly just for healing and peace. Broken friendships, sad children, a new school year.  I don't really need any things... but healing and peace would be a good start to the new year.

Current Needs: Sleep. Determination. Follow-through. Time and distance. Patience.

Current Triumph: Restarting my writing habit -- even if it's not great at the beginning.  I'm happy to be giving myself the space to do it again, and I'm happy to have a little bit different focus and aim.

Current Bane-of-my-Existence: Wildfire smoke!!!

Current Celebrity Crush: Oh, y'all. That's easy.  --->>>>

Current Indulgence: One small bowl of Doritos/Cheetos/Sunchips/pretzels snack mix in the afternoon.

Current Mood: "On watch."  We had a pet death in the family, so I'm sort of in "counsel all the children" mode.  Which means I'm taking the time to soak in the quiet of this morning.

Current #1 Blessing: The ability to go do fun things.

Current Slang or Saying: "Choose what gets your investment."

Current Outfit: It's summer. Comfort all the way.  Mostly capris and tank tops!

Saturday, August 18, 2018

The Words I Needed

I used to think that affirmations were sort of silly.  The whole standing in front of the mirror, repeating positive "You can do it!" sort of messages to yourself.

I mean, I grew up on the mockery of Stuart Smalley.

But maybe I was wrong.

The other night, my mind just wouldn't shut up. You've had those nights, haven't you? I'd read something online that had made me feel criticized for a super hard and personal decision I'd come to, and my mind immediately jumped into hyper-defensive overdrive.

Of course I'd read it approximately 90 seconds before heading to bed, which meant that I was lying there, trying to go to sleep, my heart racing and my head composing everything I "needed" to say. Every defense, every reason, every everything -- all the while, interjecting every so often, "OMG, stop thinking. You have to go to sleep!!" which didn't stop the overthinking at all, just added to the cacophony of noise in my mind.

I have so many people in my head sometimes. Stern but Sensible Me suddenly spoke up with authority. "Listen. You do not have to choose for anyone but you."


"No, you're not hearing me. No defending is needed. No excuses are needed. No one has to agree. This is for you. You do not have to choose for anyone but you."

And as that sunk in with all the other voices in my head, I could physically feel the anxiety leave my body. My mind quieted.  Not all it once... it took a few more repeatings as the stubborn ones tried to pick up the fight again. But over a few minutes, it worked.  I slept in peace.

So, maybe a few affirmations in your back pocket aren't the dumbest thing ever.

Friday, August 17, 2018

A Writer's Return (I hope)

I miss writing.

I miss doing it. I miss closing my eyes, setting my fingers to the keyboard or the pen to the page, and letting whatever come out of it come out.  Even when it isn't anything like what I planned and surprises me that it was sitting there in my head at all.

I miss the art of cultivating words into thoughts. I miss how I feel when it's done and the thoughts are out on paper. I miss the relief that comes when they're not just swimming inside my mind, making me crazy.

I've been having a hard time settling my thoughts enough to even begin. Perhaps it's just that I haven't done it in earnest for so long that I'm afraid to begin out of a fear of ineptitude.

I spent the day making myself a little cheat... a jar filled with hundreds of prompts that I've pinned and forgotten about over the last several months.

So you may be hearing from me more... or at least I may just be writing more.  You don't have to read it. Maybe I'm scared that you will. That I'll say something that will make someone mad or that won't be understood or that someone feels they need to argue with.  And that no one will understand that that isn't the point.

But I'ma do it anyway.  Because I need to.  Because I am better when I do.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

It was a bad plan, anyway.

So I had a plan.

Wait 6 months. Get a little space and distance. But then - I could be honest. Honest about what, but more importantly, honest about why. I could let go of the secrets.

And maybe for awhile, I needed that to be the plan. I needed there to be a time where I could release - because underneath it all, I was really angry. And I needed that plan to give the anger time to burn itself out.

But I realized and admitted to myself this week that I'm never going to do that. Mostly because it just isn't who I am. Because anger and hurt and even resignation do not take the place of love. Because "I'm mad and wounded" is not actually a valid excuse for betrayal. And because acting in anger would only beget more anger.

And that just isn't how I want to remember things.

Thursday, June 21, 2018

A Tired Heart

My heart is tired this week.  Really tired.

My life hasn't been perfect... but it's good and I'm very lucky to have the life that I do. My family, my home, my relative safety and security.  I am blessed to live where I do.  And I've always believed that it is the responsibility of those who have been given much to, in turn, give much to others.

I can't stop thinking about the women who have made it here just to have the most cherished parts of their lives taken away.... just to put myself in their shoes.

The trip from where they started to get here is so unbelievably heinous... it's hard to wrap my head around how completely awful the starting place has to be in order to make that trip seem better than where they started.  And to go through all of that... to endure that hardship... to face those horrors...

And to finally make it through all of that... to actually get to where the good guys are supposed to be... -- and to have the good guys take your children with no guarantee or plan or intention of giving them back to you.

This hurts my heart in a way that I can't really explain. Part of that is empathy... part of that, I think, is disappointment in us. I feel like I've confronted a lot of that lately.

And so my heart is merely tired, and I am disappointed and angry and sad and all of the things.

Tuesday, June 12, 2018

Walking Through My Imagination

I probably make my neighborhood walks more stressful than they have to be.

We have great walking trails which I love.  I would 1000 times rather walk on trails than I would on paved road.  It's more interesting, feels more nature-y, and I don't have to say Hi to people (which isn't awful, but I walk with music in my ears, and I forget what level I'm supposed to speak at).


at various times in the 10+ years we've lived here, there have been a handful of bear sightings in the vicinity of these trails.  So... like... two.

But two is more than zero, so sometimes I look around and realize how forest-y it looks, and think, "Oh my god.  What would happen if I came across a bear right now?... I am going to die and get eaten on this trail."  The adrenaline alone kicks my heartrate up to full-speed.

The potential for bears, though, isn't enough.  Oh no.

See... I make up stories in my head all the time.  Not just ones about bears.  There's this house along the end of one of the trails, and they have these crates in the back of their yard.  Like the kind you'd house a dog in.  There's a lot of them and they're not in great condition.

Well... one day, I was walking by this house, and I made up a story in my head that this house was really a witch's house.  And the crates in the backyard were not for animals, but for the children she kidnaps and imprisons until she decides to cook and eat them.

Now, I know this is a story -- sort of
... but... I'm genuinely a little frightened when I walk by her house.  Because.. what if it's NOT just a story??

Sunday, June 10, 2018

The Weight of Limbo

It is possible to stand at the fork in the road for too long.

Maybe you don't know which road to take. Maybe you do and you just don't want to. Maybe both choices seem equally good... or equally awful. Maybe you just want someone else to choose for you.

Maybe you've spent far too long peering down each road, imagining every turn that each could take. Maybe you've just spent way too much time thinking about it, exerted way too much energy and emotion on the what-ifs and the buts.

Maybe the more time you give it, the weightier it feels.

Which is why it feels at least relieving to finally choose.

The road may bring a weight of a different kind... but at least you can release the one that being in limbo holds.

Journal Prompts

Saturday, June 9, 2018

Getting My Shit Together

In my perfect world, I'm one of those people.

I am always current on my reading list. I'm a tender, supportive - but funny and sexy -- wife. I'm an amazing patient mom who always does the right thing. I successfully maintain a diverse network of friends, making time for social interaction and in-depth support. I exercise regularly, I meal-plan and create a range of deliciously healthy food for my family to enjoy. I always call my parents and know everything going on with my sisters. I have it all down. I'm one of those people.

In my perfect world.

In my real world....

This week, my daughter peered with resignation into the refrigerator, stocked with milk, coffee creamer, and weeks-old apples that no one is going to eat, and sighed.

"Mom... I don't want this to sound mean. But, it kind of seems like you've been trying to get your life together since February."

"I know... I'm sorry."

"You know it's June, right?"

The truth is I'm never ever going to be one of those people. It's not that I can't do those things. I absolutely can. At times, I've been successful at every one.

I just can't do them all at once.

But maybe I can do... two.

Wednesday, June 6, 2018

A Decision Made

Something happened at the retreat and it changed things.  Changed me, I guess.

I feel like I've been grappling with variations of the same question for a long time... even when I sat on the beach journaling in the early morning, I scribbled "What do I want to do?" across the top of one of the pages.  Because I just never know which is the right path to take.

And then the something happened.  I don't really know if it was that it was a big thing... or if it was a little thing on top of a pile of a whole bunch of other little things and it just tipped the scales.

But it changed things. I don't think that it makes the decision any easier to carry out... It's still disappointing and sad to me. But it feels like it made the decision easier to make. It made it clearer which path lay along the lines of my values.

And so, there it is.

Sunday, May 13, 2018

When what you love is what they hate...

I was party to a conversation yesterday where...  Basically, Person #1 ended up belittling what I knew was a deep musical love of Person #2 ...  and I just thought, "Yeah, this probably isn't going to end well."

I ended up thinking about that a lot last night. I think it's true that the things we love... the things we really love... become a part of our identity, they are part of who we are. I definitely think that's true about a lot of different kinds of art. When I look back over my life, there are books that have become a part of me. There are movies that are a part of me. There is definitely music that is a part of me.

But, when someone belittles one of those things... even when doing so, to them, really isn't anything about me, it feels like it's about me. It feels like they are saying, "This thing that you love... this thing that is a part of you... it's not an acceptable thing. This part of you is not an acceptable thing.  And therefore -- YOU-- are not an acceptable thing."

I know I've certainly had that experience with my Celtic Thunder fandom...  there have been times that people I've loved have really ridiculed that. Deep in my heart, I knew that those people loved me, and didn't mean hurt.  But sometimes it hurt anyway.

In a lot of ways, it's similar to how I felt, in my younger mom days, when I felt someone was passing judgment on the things I had chosen to do as a parent.  And, I think, for very much the same reason. Being a mother had become an integral part of my identity. It was who I was... and when someone came along who deeply criticized that or criticized how I did that, it really stung.

And yet... with hindsight... there's not a ton of things that I would do differently. I might choose little things to mother differently. I might choose different expressions of how to share the things I had chosen to love. But I don't regret loving them, and I don't regret letting them become a part of me.

Friday, April 27, 2018

Third Time's the Charm

The first time we went through this phase, I didn't really know what was going on. So, because I didn't understand what was happening, I assumed that it was me. I must have done something or been something or --

This probably says more about me than anything else.

The second time we went through this phase, I thought two things incorrectly. One, I didn't really know it was a phase and didn't think to connect it to the first one. Two, I attributed it to the desires of a new person in our lives. Not unkindly - that's just where I thought it came from. But also, I assumed it was me.  Okay, three things incorrectly.

Both times, I thought it was really me. Both times, I tried to be the one to fix it. Both times, I twisted myself into a pretzel to do so. Both times, I was wrong.

I don't know what's different in the third time. Maybe it's just that it's the third time and I can see it better. Maybe it's more understanding. Maybe it's more confirmation. But, it is the third time and I see now that it's a phase. For the first time, I understand that it isn't me -- and while it affects me, it isn't really about me.

And I don't really have to fix it.

Sunday, April 22, 2018

A Murky Retrospect on Fandom: So I got Kicked out of the CT Fanclub.

So I got kicked out of the Celtic Thunder Fanclub.

And if you were to ask me, "Jo... what on earth? Why? How did you get kicked out of the CT Fanclub?"

I would tell you two reasons.

1. Officially... because they have a weird rule that all opinions have to be wrapped in unicorn glitter, and as you can imagine, I'm not great at that. I have always been a bit irreverent -- and honest.. but with pure and loving intent. It's why I get asked for my opinion. (Okay, I also got kicked out because I told them off when I realized that kicking me out was the endgoal. Full disclosure.)

2. In actuality... I got kicked out because I'm an elitist old-school fan who refused to follow rules that Sharon would never have asked or expected me to follow and the admins of the fanclub didn't much like that I challenged/ignored their authority.

My reactions to this have amused and interested me.

In part, there was indignation. "But it's me.  You can't kick me out. It's me."  lol I was one of the original 30 members on Celtic Thunder's website. It was my idea to develop the fan forum - which I did myself. I had Sharon's admin password until the ISP people were like, 'Umm, lady... that's not a great idea..." and she just gave me admin rights on my own account instead. I have been invited to more things that I could ever tell anyone about. And, whether it's true and earned or not, I feel a great deal of ownership of the CT fan community.  "I built this place and these whippersnappers think they own it?"

You can laugh. It's okay. I didn't say my reactions were necessarily reasonable. Reactions usually aren't.

I vented a bit. I vented a bit to my friends. I vented a bit to Twitter. I vented a bit to Facebook. I vented a bit to the producer and castmember I have always counted as my confidantes.

Probably the response to my ejection that cut through my indignation the most was "...and that's a bad thing because...?"

And they were right. That fanclub was not a healthy place for me to be and it was taking up far too much of my headspace. I'm just not the kind of fan who can exist in a worship echo chamber anymore, and that's the only kind of fan that had a place.

But, also, lying there at the bottom is this... There is a part of me that is sad that the me that I am --  enthusiastic, irreverent, loving and supportive, but also snarky and obnoxious and impatient-with-stupid -- was not okay enough to be there.  That a Twisted-Up-Into-a-Lie-Me would have been okay... but the real me just would not suffice.

And that the place that I built myself no longer wanted me.

Saturday, April 14, 2018

A Murky Retrospect on Fandom and ...? : Magic and the Underneath

There is a young adult fantasy series I once read that comes to my mind. It is set in current-day New York, etc -- but has vampires and witches and angels and the like -- all happening around us. Like in Harry Potter, muggles are largely oblivious. All the odd characters, all the amazing places are cloaked by spells that I think are called "glamours." What is really a witch appears to us as a beggar woman. What is really an amazing gothic cathedral looks just like another condemned building crumbling into ruins.

Nothing is quite as it seems.

But here is the thing about the glamours. Once you learned how to see past them to what truly lay underneath, it was really hard to un-see it. Even if you tried, you sort of always knew the truth it covered.

Sometimes I feel like my road as a fan has been a bit like that. I got intimately involved early on -- and that put me in a place over the years to learn a lot of truth. I've seen a lot that lies underneath the spell and the magic, and it's hard to believe in the magic when you know what it conceals.

I have always held space for those things -- but sometimes that space has been heavy.  I would give some of it back.

Wednesday, March 7, 2018

Thoughts on Celtic Thunder's "X" - a little review, a little diary

I sent that email to my mother-in-law in March of 2008 after watching Celtic Thunder on PBS for the first time... and I've been a fan of the show ever since. But like...a FAN, and then some. 

And it's been lovely.  Strange and consuming and dramatic, but honestly lovely. I have developed friendships and met lots of people, and enjoyed an ever-growing catalog of beautiful music between CT and its various offshoots of solo acts. It's been a source of joy for me for 10 years.

I loved their last DVD, "Mythology."  I still love it, and though it's been five years since its release, I still watch it once a month. Full of good music, powerful music. It's been a long time since its release, and I had sort of made peace with the idea that it would be the last one -- until recently when I heard they were filming a new one.

I was excited about that -- a new DVD to commemorate their 10th anniversary, and I looked forward to its release -- until I saw the preview reel they put out a few weeks back. I became a little bit unsure. It didn't really seem like my Celtic Thunder. I was left a little horror-struck by the cheese. Celtic Thunder is sometimes a little campy, but... this seemed extreme.

But... it was just the preview reel. I'd wait.

And now I've seen the whole thing - a few times though-- and I need to talk about it.

So, there are things I like...

I really feel like Damian is a bright spot in this show. He's engaging and endearing -- though I'll concede that my nostalgia is talking a little there. I've always liked Damian. His cover of Ed Sheeran's "Galway Girl" is actually really good. I've seen him do a few Sheeran songs in solo shows before, so I suspect he's a fan and that shows.  I also really liked his "L-O-V-E." That's not necessarily my favorite song in the world, but I think he does a good job with it.

I liked Neil's "The Streets of London" and the duet "From the Ground Up" that he does with Michael. I really like Neil when he is simple. He's really talented, and that shines best for me when it's not too dressed up.  And in a show that felt a bit frivolous, these numbers felt like a balm to my angst.

I liked Emmet's "Phil the Fluter's Ball." It's an empty song, a bit of fluff. But I do find it in my head when I'm at the grocery store, so I'm calling it a win.  I think it's supposed to be in the vein of The Spanish Lady, which I've always really enjoyed. I just don't like this one quite as much. I normally really adore Emmet, so I'm a bit bummed that I didn't love more.

I really liked Ryan's cover of Garth Brooks' "Much Too Young." I historically love his more "thoughtful" songs the best anyway, and this one fit the bill for that.  And it was something a little different from him, which always interests me. Really, I like all of Ryan's songs well enough. He has long been my favorite, and later became my friend - so I tend to like his solos in general. 

Michael, I am struggling a little bit with... which I'll talk about more in a bit.  But I think I like his "The Voice."

And then, for ensembles, I love "May the Road Rise to Meet You" and "Rise Again."  These are songs that are more serious in nature, have beautiful layered harmonies, and simple staging that lets the voices shine. I WISH THERE WERE MORE OF THESE SONGS IN THE SHOW. A billion times.  I also enjoy "Toora Loora Lay" and "Right All Right," with that upbeat Irish folksy feel to them. There are actually four of those in the first half, including Ryan and Company's "I Useta Lover," but I like those two the best.

There are things I'm ambivalent about...

I don't think these are awful or anything.. I'm just not in love with them for one reason or another, and don't expect them to show up on a list of favorites anytime soon.

Emmet's "On the Street Where You Live" and "The Crow on the Cradle." I suspect there will be a lot of people who rather like "On the Street," it's just not much my thing.

Neil's "Finnegan Wake." Man, I should like this more.  It's cute, it's simple. Neil is naturally comedic. But he does it in this odd voice/accent that irritates me.  I'd really really like to hear him sing it straight.  I'll concede my error if I'm wrong!

Michael.... ok, here's the thing. I am struggling with Michael, but I think it's a presentation thing, not a singing thing. I like him more on the CD than I do on the DVD.  I remember Sharon once telling me a long time ago about how they were trying to figure out how to make a new guy emote more, and I legitimately think this is where my disconnect with Michael comes in. I feel crappy about it... I have nothing against him and I want to like him more - but I need a little more passion to help me care.

Ensemble of "Seasons in the Sun." I feel like I should like this more... it's simple, it's the kind of song I would normally like. But I'm just sort of ho-hum with it.

There are things I would like to strangle, draw and quarter, and spear through the heart...

Please do not make my Celtic Thunder a cheesefest.  Don't do it. I hate it. I legitimately hate it.

That stuff in the preview reel that made me cringe?  Yeah.  Still cringe-y in full form.

Celebration. (Yes, that one.)
I'm a Believer.
Bye Bye Baby.

I'm looking at all of you.

I'm not going to say that the vocals on these are bad -- they're legitimately not.  But the utter cheeseball presentation of these numbers, from costume to choreography, bothered me so much that, for the first few days, I let them completely color how I felt about the whole entire show. My initial reactions that I sent to Ryan on these songs is just an endless ranting of me going "Why?  omg... Why?  What the crap??" These talented guys are worth more.


Not liking something my beloved Celtic Thunder has done sits uneasily with me. It makes me earnestly sad. I wanted to love this. And in the sea of reactions from fans who have little discernment anyway, it feels lonely. Like my dislike must mean that there's something wrong with me.

I've heard from enough people under-the-radar to know it's not just me...  but still. It's a little lonely to see people falling over themselves when I just feel a bit grieved. And perhaps more than anything, I feel like maybe I just don't belong here anymore and I'm not sure what to do with myself now.

I did eventually give myself an attitude adjustment and took in a little perspective. The songs I hate number 3. There are 28 in the show. We always tell our girls that they have a choice, in the attitude they decide to bring with them, in how much enjoyment they're going to get out of an event.  And that, if you go in with a good attitude, you might have a good time. But, if you go with a bad attitude, you'll definitely have a bad time.

I can take my own advice. I can enjoy the live show later this year.

I just might go back to watching Mythology again.

Thursday, January 4, 2018

RE-building Trust, Revisited

I was reading this old post of mine this morning (it showed up in my Timehop):

How Do You Build Trust?

I wrote then about building trust...  but really, it was about RE-building trust. At the time, I was really struggling with whether to rekindle a broken friendship. We had both done things that had destroyed each other's trust in the other, but had an opportunity to maybe start over.

I was conflicted. There was a lot of hurt there, and I wasn't sure if starting over was possible - if healing was possible. How DO you rebuild trust again? What if I got hurt? What if I got hurt worse?

In the end, I decided to take those baby steps.

I read back to that time in my messages the other day. You see, those baby steps worked, and eventually trust was rebuilt, and it's been five years since then. Reading back to those messages was hard.  In fact, the first time I tried, the hurt that emanated from the words was so acute, it was uncomfortable just to read it. I had to close it and come back for a second try. Rebuilding trust wasn't easy.

But I'm glad that I risked it. Because I wasn't wrong... I could have gotten really hurt.  And truthfully, sometimes I was really hurt.

But persevering led to a really comfortable friendship, and perhaps more appreciated because of the risk it took to get there.
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