Friday, May 10, 2019

SELF CARE, DAMMIT

I said the other day that I've been forced to start arising for the day at 5am because my dog has to go outside.

What I didn't say is that I don't mind that much. I sort of like having a couple hours in the morning to myself before everyone gets out of bed. I feed all 97 of our pets. I have the time to get a cup of coffee and quietly sip it while I wake up -- without having to talk to anyone.  I have time to pull a writing prompt out of the jar and percolate on how I want to answer it. I have time to answer it. I have time for a cup of coffee or two more, if I want.

All in the quietness of the morning -- save for the paws scrabbling across our hardwood floors in Early Morning Kitten Wars.

Some of my teenagers have gotten on this weird sleep schedule which we're in the middle of retraining.  Which meant someone was still awake when I got up at 5am yesterday, ready to talk and vent.  At 5 am. Before I had had coffee. Quietly waking up was not happening. Writing was not happening. Grumpy hormones might have been happening.

So, in the afternoon, I took myself to my favorite coffee shop, laptop in hand -- FOUND A TABLE (Gold, I tell you. GOLD.) -- and wrote.  By myself.

One child was at school with the Teenager Car. One child was at home with nowhere to be. The third child was also at home with no work on her afternoon schedule. I was not expected home.

when are you coming home? the text read. 

What followed was a sad exchange in which the teenager professed boredom, lack of transportation, desire to go to work for which she was not scheduled, and.... oh right, more boredom.

will you be home by 2:30??

I sighed.  A good mom would probably go home. 

probably not. I texted back.

Because sometimes self-care looks like stubborn obstinancy.

Thursday, May 9, 2019

FORGIVENESS AND RECONCILIATION

At the beginning of the year, I reflected a lot on the topics that I have felt the most drawn to writing about over the past almost-ten years -- and I sort of revisited them in 2019 versions. I tried to think about where I have been and where I am now -- and how my thoughts have changed and evolved -- or even stayed steady -- in that time. I thought about how I've changed and grown, and where I see myself as still being a work in progress.

My last one, as it made sense in the story arc, dealt with forgiveness.  Both forgiveness of others and forgiveness of myself -- two places that I always feel struggle.

I thought about what forgiveness is and what it does and what it's for. I thought about it opening up a door to being able to have a sense of peace. I thought it being a way to let go of anger and bitterness. I thought about how not finding it becomes a stumbling block to your own healing and your own health.

But, because I knew that I wasn't quite there yet, I didn't really think about what comes after the forgiveness. I think that forgiveness is mostly a requirement for reconciliation to take place. But, I don't always think that reconciliation is necessarily the best next step forward for every situation. Sometimes forgiveness is the precursor to simply moving on, and not to starting over.

In its most recent form in my life, my hurts have stemmed from various manifestations of someone I cared for just not being who I thought they were, or who I wanted them to be. And once that road to forgiveness was walked, nostalgic instincts aside, I found that I was happier with distance. Forgiveness was necessary. Reconciliation was not. And, excepting some nagging regrets, I am happy in that place.

Wednesday, May 8, 2019

OLD LADY

So, basically, I sleep like an old lady now.

The problem isn't really me. The problem is my dog, who I love and adore.

Last year, when my kids were all in high school like normal people, I got up at about 5:30 every morning to get them ready for school. So, Lexie (the dog) learned that 5:30 am was breakfast time.

This year, all my kids are in some form of alternative schooling and they no longer have to be at the crack of early. The dog, however, is still convinved that 5am is time for breakfast. She gets up, sits beside my ear, and whines until I get out of bed.  If that doesn't work, she yelps at me.

Mostly, I think it's that she's old and can't go much longer than that before she has to pee.  As a woman with the smallest bladder in the world, I sympathize.

So, my normal wake-up time EVERY MORNING is now 5am.  Which means, if I am going to get any kind of rested sleep at all, I have had to walk back my bedtime to 9pm.

Like an old lady.

Pretty soon, I'm going to be eating dinner at 4 in the afternoon.

Tuesday, May 7, 2019

AUTHENTICITY REVISITED

I began last year, after reading a lot of Brene Brown, with a desire for 2018 to be my year of authenticity.  I wanted to be braver. I wanted to be more honest. I wanted to be less afraid of showing people who I was.

I thought that meant being more vocal about it all. I thought it meant shaking off shackles I had put on myself. I thought it meant feeling free to walk my own road without caring what anyone else thought. I thought it meant not apologizing for who I was and being brazen about it.

And then, unplanned things happened in my relationships with people that I didn't feel I could be brazen about. I had real issues that I needed to work through... it's just that this wasn't the space that I could do that in. I didn't want to hurt people. I didn't want to create any more gossip than necessary. And if that's what you were looking for, I think that you were probably frustrated with me.

I had to find different ways... but they were quiet. I needed sounding boards, but I needed sounding boards that would be gentle but honest, understanding but real, supportive but firm. Fortunately, I had those. Some had been in my life for a long time, and some had come into it probably for just that purpose.

At the end of the year, as I looked back on everything that had happened and everything that I had wanted it to be, I felt a sense of failure as I re-read that first entry of the year. The pulling-in that I had done, the self and other protection that I had tried to create -- it seemed like anything but authenticity.

As I think about it now, I think I was wrong. But, I think it was more about my internal authenticity than anything else. It wasn't about being outwardly brazen about who I am. It was about bringing who I am and the values I hold important into an internal balance with the choices I was making and the people I was involved with.

My tangle with authenticity wasn't quite what I expected it to be -- but I think that perhaps it was what I needed it to be.

Monday, May 6, 2019

A BIGGER COMFORT ZONE

I've thought a lot over the past year about uncomfortable emotions.

Anger, hurt, jealousy, sadness, grief.  Even happiness and joy sometimes. 

I think we... or at least I... have a comfort with emotions that lie within the acceptable status quo. I kind of think of it as a loose sine curve that doesn't deviate very far up or down from the axis.  Anything that lies within that curve is cool.  We're good with that. Momentary emotions in either direction.  But the important part is that they're momentary. They quickly cycle back to the norm.

But when emotions get a little more intense, when they pop up or down out of that curve, we get tense and uncomfortable. We don't like it in ourselves. We don't like it in other people. We're impatient for things to "get back to normal."

But... emotions aren't bad. Emotions only feel like they're lasting too long because we are uncomfortable with them -- and what would happen if we weren't?

I've been practicing that over the past year.  I've been practicing not rushing myself out of emotions that feel too intense or too lengthy. I've been practicing acknowledging my hurts and my disappointments and my angers without an expectation that I would just "get over them." I've been appreciating my joys and my highs in ways that would have left me feeling prideful before.

And... I like it. Like building any new habit, it was hard at first... and like any new behavior, it still isn't quite natural. I have to work at staying in it and not rushing back to the safety of the middle.  But, honestly, I like it. I like not having to fix everything. I like creating new expectations for where I have to be -- and I like that the expectations are mine and not what I think someone else needs to be.

So, there you go.

Sunday, May 5, 2019

SPRINGTIME RE-FRESH

Isn't it fresh and pretty around here??

I decided that I was ready for a bit of a change. A change, a refresh, a regroup. A new banner, a lighter color palette, something that feels new.

And a giant post purge.

I have a friend, who I've known for years and years, who used to do this to her blog on the regular -- and it would fill me with abject horror!! The thought of setting digital fire to my thoughts and past seemed like anathema to me. You would lose so much.

But, now, I guess I kind of get it.  Sometimes you need to set a couple fires to free yourself from what's become a stumbling block and to release yourself from the ties that bind you to a past you're finally ready to move on from.

I deleted.  A lot. I had 1300 posts a couple months ago. Now there are 160. I kept the posts that are still meaningful to me, or that are really recent.  I couldn't bring myself to part with any of my Thursday Tales fiction pieces -- they are my babies. But, pretty much everything else got the delete button.

Like my mom's protestations when I try to purge her house of clutter, the first few were really hard. I was just going to Unpublish them -- not delete them.  But, then, I thought, "Really, why?  Is that really going to give you the 'fresh start moving on' feeling you're going for? Be strong, girl!"  So... Delete button, it was - and the more I deleted, the easier it got.

And so, here we are. A mostly fresh space that's ready for me to explore. I hope you'll stick around with me!

Thursday, May 2, 2019

MY WEEKEND... IN RAMBLING THOUGHTS

Last year, when I returned from the retreat, I set down a careful accounting of what it was like and what I thought of it. I did the same thing when I went on the first cruise. I suppose that I feel a responsibility to create a review of record for the oldie fans. There is a story arc of fandom that we have all gone through -- and because everyone comes in at different stages, they are at different places on the arc. I can't behave like a newbie or even an enamored fan anymore, and so I don't write for them. But, there is a certain population that I feel I can responsibly represent, and if you want to know what it's like if you are my type of fan, I'd like to provide that.

But, I did that last year -- and it isn't really where my head and heart is right now.  This is really just my own rambling thoughts and feelings. Some of them are probably valid and some of them are probably unreasonable and I'm not sure I'm really making apology or excuse for that. They just are what they are.

I really just didn't want to get involved in silly things this trip. No nitpicking between fan groups (which is still such such such a thing), no indulging in petty jealousies or imagined competitions, and no indulging in those of others. I was there to soak up some music, relax, and spend time with a friend. I do not have time or interest in drama. I don't care where people are sitting for shows. I had my one front row show, and then we just dance in the back. I'm happy with that and I don't care about anyone else or who's flirting with who or etc, etc, etc...  You know?

I'm really not very comfortable in fan groups/cliques. Part of that, I think, is that I've spent more than my fair share of time in them and it isn't where I want to be anymore. Part of it is that my point the fandom journey just doesn't allow for the exultation that makes fan groups click. And a lot of it is that I'm shy. No one believes me when I say that. Ever. But I am -- and groups of people make me nervous and incredibly self-conscious.

So I tend to avoid them like the plague. But one thing I really like about these retreats is picking off 2-3 people to really get to know. I'm a little picky, they have to be mostly normal. But, I really enjoy finding a couple cool people and getting into real conversations with them. I feel like i was able to do that this year, and that makes me happy. Like it was a worthwhile trip.

That bit me in the ass a bit last year. I accidentally befriended someone intimately involved with the talent, and it left me feeling frustrated and really disappointed in them. That was hard on me. It was a bit of a nail in the coffin of a relationship that needed to change anyway, and a lot changed for me after that. I wasn't really sure if I wanted to come at all this year, and how those changes might leave me feeling uncomfortable.

But, I think it was fine. Different in some ways. Not different in others. And I am okay with the way things are now and don't really want or need to change them.

I did let myself into some mild irritation one day, I will admit that. I think that I might just have a 2-day tolerance limit, and in part, this is due to my own habits and decisions. These kind of events, I always give the guys a pretty wide berth. It's their job to mingle and spread themselves around the entire population. And while I would love to take the time to claim that for myself, I very rarely do. I've had a lot of opportunity in the past. I've build valuable relationships based on just that. I don't feel like I need to demand attention here. And I suppose it's because of that that it bothers me so irritatingly when others, especially longtime fans who I feel should know better, hover and hang around and monopolize. Let them do their job.  So I let that get to me.  I mean, I got over it.

I got into a conversation more than once with other women that centered on our families and the importance and blessings of our longterm marriages. Perri and I both have strong and busy family-centric lives -- so it's nice to have an annual trip planned away from everything together to rest and relax and regroup.

But, it's a brief escape by design -- and it's also really nice to get to go back to our families and our real lives.  They're good ones.


Wednesday, May 1, 2019

MY WEEKEND IN LIST FORM, THE REST

MONDAY
-- Out of room early and stopped for coffee
-- Found a spot to write above river, but mostly just soaked in the breeze
--Pool time!
-- Laid out in sun.... Ate some fresh fruit and consumed some tasty but slightly weak sauce drinks
- Probably good.
-Lazy River. This was the bomb.
Afternoon Concert #2
-- Enjoyable acoustic show... A little slow getting started, but I enjoyed it!!
-- Moondance and Green Fields of France, A+
-- A few concert visitors 👍
- Perfect vantage point for smiling at Neil. Also A+.
-- Back to room... Rum and cokes...
- After consumption.... " Jo.... Did you know this is 100 proof??"
- I don't know much about alcohol. But that sounds like a lot. We are in trouble.
- Perri picked it out. I'm just saying.
- Sat outside to air out.... Was sent on a walk.... Perri disappeared while I was gone.
I am undeterred!!
-- Name That Tune event
-- I'm just going to tell you that some people, genuinely not me, are very very serious about Name That Tune. 
- Very.
- Very.
- Serious.
- Drunk Me is decidedly not serious.
- Chat with Peter... Nothing bad. 
- Chat with Angie. Might have related story that I asked her to keep on the downlow later.
-- Fawned over Neil.
- Hugged Ryan. Also called him names. So there's that.
- Went to bed, thank God


TUESDAY
-Woke up. Slowly. Long slow walk around the resort. Water.
-- Meet and Greet
-- Q&A .... Normal routine so, you know. Ryan was a mailman as a youngster? That's all I got.
- Meet was fine... I mean, they made fun of me, but I deserved it. I was slightly disoriented by what was apparently longer time constraints. I'm so used to rushing through that I wasn't quite sure when the appropriate end was.
-Naptime
- Out to spend some time with a notebook
-Lawn and Games event
-- This was basically like games at the farm reunion meets CT fanbase... Actually, that's a lot like our farm reunions.
- Some people are also very serious about Cornhole.
- We mostly just people watched.
- I got irritated by hovering fans and decided I probably needed to go home soon.
-- Hung out a bit more....
-- Concert #3... For whatever reason, this was my least favorite show of the retreat. I think I felt this way about the last show last year. Not sure if that's them or me.
- If you actually hand out the lyrics to everyone, and then proceed to butcher them, it's probably going to be obvious.
-- Dutifully advertised to all attending hotel guests. I am a pro, kids.
- Spent an hour outside with a Porter. Just one.
-- On the way to bed...
-- Stopped to chat. Got stuck.
-- Chatting and gossip
-- Long chat with a lady I liked.... 3 minute rundown on the psyche of Ryan Kelly
-- New guy.... He was normal. Lots of laughs.
- and bed at 4am.
- Because I think I'm 20.

The End

MY WEEKEND IN LIST FORM, SAT/SUN

SATURDAY
-Flight to Phoenix - Oceans 11
-Made friends with Price the Flight Attendant
--Arrived!
-- Crap. They lost Perri's luggage!
--Drove to Air BnB
-- Braved killer dog
--Walmart shopping spree
-Made friends with The Fitting Room Lady
-- BBQ for dinner!
-- Shopped (badly) at liquor store
-- Bed!!

SUNDAY
-Coffee and Chat
- Stop at lobby. Hi Stalker Fans?
- Lunch @ Cheesecake Factory - Perri's never been!!
-- Back to check in.... Slight upgrade because I'm adorable. Massive toiletries hookup for Perri! Still no luggage.
- Wandered around resort in lazy hike
-Firepit chat
- Retreat check-in and swag pickup
- Mingling Taco Night
- The guys mingled. The tacos did not.
-- Taco requests because I'm adorable
--RK chat
-- Bizarre event invitation
-- Crane confusion.
-- Speak English, Irish!!!
-- Much better mingling. Applause.
-- The luggage is here!!!! 
-- Celebration!!
-- First show!!
-- Arrived late, somehow seats in the middle. Front row show.
-Good upbeat show!
- I need to pee. But I just know R's going to sing Brothers in Arms and I don't want to miss it.
- I really need to pee.
- Sweet Jesus, I was right! I know all!!
-- Long look and a couple nods. Yes, I know this is for me. Thank you!!
-- Crap.... Missed my pee escape because clapping. I am going to die.
-- Finally! Escape and return for end of show
-- Drinks with Rebecca and Jan in the bar -- I really enjoy them!! (The ladies, not the drinks. Well, the drinks too, but that's not what I meant.)
-Bed!