Friday, August 29, 2014

Fair

"All this life and work and choice took far too long" -- Remy Zero

We all learn at a pretty early age that the world is an unfair place. Some of the things that are not fair are things I find myself able to live with, such as the fact that there will never really be a way to slice a pizza into perfectly equal triangles of deliciousness.* I'm okay with that. 

As you, Dear Reader, have probably noticed, social injustice keeps me awake at night. 

But this isn't really about either of those things, as trivial (pizza) or important (equal rights for all people) as they are.

It's about the moment that you, as a person, look at your life and realize that the person causing the imbalance, the person who isn't being fair to you? Is you.

This realization struck me one morning as I sat in my robe, drinking coffee and listening to the waterfall outside. The Fella was sleeping. Lizzie B was nestled in my lap, purring, and I thought, "I am so content right now. I should have more of these mornings. I hate that I don't."

Then I thought, "Wait. Why don't I?"

The answer? 

Because I run around like mad, getting this done and that finished and those things managed. 

Because I prioritize a zillion other things first. 

Because I listen to the voices of other  people instead of my own voice. 

Because I'm not fair to myself. 

Because I don't honour my own choices or needs.

My immediate reaction to these thoughts was shame and embarrassment, as though the desire to take more time for morning quiet was terribly selfish when I could be working or doing something more productive; it didn't seem okay to take time just to be. 

(Guilt. I have it.)

But that's not a fair way to live. It's not fair to put work and chores and everyone else first all of the time. It's not fair to deny yourself small pleasures that feed your soul because you're so busy trying to make everyone around you happy that you can barely remember what makes you happy.

You have to be fair to yourself. Take the time to find the balance. Don't deny yourself what brings you joy. 

The world is an unfair place, but you don't have to add to it.


*pssst you. With the math and equations. Just... Yes, I know it's theoretically possible, but ... No.

Monday, August 25, 2014

What It Is

There are always going to be people in your life who will tell you what certain things mean: what it means to be successful. What it means to be happy.

Feel free to listen to them and their definitions.

And then, if you want, feel free to disregard them.

The truest thing I know is this: how you define success is a highly personal thing. Some people are motivated by money. If your bank account makes you feel secure, successful, and proud? I am happy for you if you are happy.

See what I did there, by the way? I didn't suggest that someone who is financially motivated is wrong or ridiculous or in need of redefining the rules that he uses to guide the choices he makes. I'm not suggesting such a thing for a simple reason -- I don't live his life. The ways he defines success for himself do not belong to me because, in fact, there are many ways by which one can define success. The important thing, I think, is to make sure that you own your definition, and that you not let anyone talk you out of chasing what inspires you.

I won't be told what it means for my life to have success and meaning.

I'm through being instructed as to what I need in order to be happy.

What works for me -- what makes me feel successful, what I need in order to be happy -- will likely not look like someone else's definition. That's okay. That's actually great. If we all wanted and needed exactly the same thing, the world would be a very dull place indeed. Fortunately for us all, there are people who want to serve in missions and there are people who want to write blogs and there are people who want to be corporate masterminds. There are people who want large, fancy homes and there are people who want very simple ones. There is room for everyone here. There is room for all different kinds of success and happiness.

Mine might not look like what you think it should look like because it doesn't match yours, but that doesn't make it less real or valid.

Look around you. See the people in your life -- really see them. Know that their happiness and success for what it is: personal. Beautiful.

And rejoice in it the way you would want them to rejoice in yours.

Thursday, August 21, 2014

Try

I don't care who you are or where you're from: some days are just going to be hard to the point that your brain shivers a little in your head and refuses to cope with any other incoming information. It's the mental version of overeating at Thanksgiving but because your mind is not able to put on your stretchy pants to accomodate the emotional and psychological equivalent of  far too many mashed potatoes, you make room in other ways. Maybe you shut off. Maybe you start a fight with someone you're pretty sure will forgive you later when you're not so overwhelmed. Or maybe you just cry and go home where there are warm hugs and cuddles and tea.

I was there yesterday.

Because of course, despite the fact that I am the happiest in my life that I have ever been? I am balancing that out in my career with a difficult situation. I mean, why not? Of COURSE. Mostly I just go with the flow -- lalalalaaaaaa, I'm going to make this all woooooorrrkk -- but sometimes?

I need yoga pants and a blankie for my stressed out, anxious brain.

Sometimes we all do, actually. As much as I believe in hard work -- and I worship at the church of hard work, it's how I roll -- I also know that it's equally important to take the time to unwind and relax. My problem (perhaps the problem of many people I know) is that the relaxing bit doesn't come as naturally to me as the work myself into a sobbing mess part.

It's a problem.

It's a problem to the point that yesterday? I didn't think I could do it anymore. I wanted to walk away. I NEEDED to walk away. My manager (who is wonderful, I might add, and not the source of the difficulties I am encountering) encouraged me to take a break, stressing how much I've earned one.

I walked to my desk thinking, "I'll just go home early. It'll be great. I'll take a nap and regroup and be fresh tomorrow."

I sat down to set my out of office message. Stray tears escaped here and there. Not because of the stress and the crazy, necessarily, but because I'd begun to believe that I couldn't cope with them.

And I thought: you just have to try. Can you keep trying, Yellie? Can you try for five more minutes? If you can try for five more minutes, and then you still feel like you're done, you can go. But maybe -- maybe you could try.

I gave it five minutes. Five minutes spent breathing -- in. out. in. -- and thinking about how much I love my coworkers, how kind they are. I looked at the flowers that The Fella sent me earlier this week. I touched their petals. They were silky and cool.

Five minutes of trying.

I felt better.

So I gave it five more.

The crisis passed.

That, I think, is the beauty of difficult situations: they do pass. You just have to give them time. You have to give yourself the time. You have to understand that it's okay. You're okay. You will move through this.

You also need to understand that the other side could look like a variety of different things. Yesterday, it might have looked like going home. That would not have been a failure. Staying? Wasn't necessarily a success in and of itself. The important part -- the healing part -- was saying: try. Sit with how you feel. Think. And then give yourself permission to reassess how you feel and what you need.

No matter where you are.

It doesn't hurt to try.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Waiting for It

"Things happen," she said, "when you don't expect them."

"I know."

She sipped her tea. "This is true of good things and bad things, I think. We say it about good things, but it has to be true of bad things too. I mean, you can't walk around expecting bad shit to happen all of the time. That would be terrible. But you also can't wander the earth expecting unicorns and rainbows every day. That would just be weird."

"What should you expect?"

"You shouldn't spend your time expecting," she said. "Spend your time doing. And living! And being. And if you're doing and living and being your best? Things will happen. Some of them will be magical. Some of them will not. But they'll be real and they'll be yours."

"Even if I don't expect them."

"Look. The only person who should always meet your expectations is YOU. Everyone else? Gets to do their thing. Sometimes that will hurt you. Other times it will surprise and amaze you. It will be so wonderful that it will make you cry with happiness and awe.

"The trick? Is knowing that it all will come. All of it. The good stuff and the bad stuff and the in-between stuff. It all comes.

"You just have to wait. Be patient. And while you're being patient?

"Be amazing. Because you are."

Monday, August 11, 2014

Stay

Warning: this post is very, very honest and deals with mental illness and self-harm. 

The Fella and I were getting dinner ready when he said, "Huff Post says a Robin Williams is dead. He apparently committed suicide."

"That's not true," I said. "That's not funny." 

I felt like someone had punched me in the stomach. As I type this, I feel like I need to throw up.

*****

I didn't know Robin Williams, obviously. He was a famous comedian. A celebrity. While I frequently feel as though I should be a celebrity (such a pity that the world fails to recognize my fabulousness!), I am not, in fact, an A-lister. I am a Z-lister.

However. I am also someone with issues. I struggle with anxiety and depression and the stuff that comes with both of those.

So maybe I didn't know Robin Williams? 

But I know something about how he might have felt.

*****

Some of the people I love most in this world have tried to end their lives. 

Some have succeeded. 

It never doesn't hurt. It never doesn't make me wish I could do more for them. Be more. Show them more love. Be more present. Offer more help and hope. 

It never fails to make me feel as though I've failed them.

And it never fails to make me think of the times I've been that low, that sad and desperate and afraid, but somehow managed not to hurt myself.

*****

The truth -- the naked, ugly truth -- Is that I've been there. When I say there was a time when I wanted to drive off a bridge, I'm not kidding. I was so close. 

Too close. 

There were -- there are -- people who grounded me and kept me here, and so here I am, and here I am determined to stay; I want to convince other people who are struggling to keep fighting, to tell them: you are loved. You are NEEDED. Your presence here is required!

Because people did it for me, and because some of these folks? I really can't imagine living without.

*****

A long time ago, my cousin Jay and I talked about the things that made us really happy. "Dolphins," he said. "They're like nature's Prozac."

"Robin Williams," I said. "Robin Williams always makes me laugh."

"What about a documentary on dolphins, hosted by Robin Williams? That would be, like, the best thing ever."

"Duuuude." 

Two weeks later, Jay sent me a video and a note: "seriously, I couldn't believe it when I saw it."

It was a documentary on dolphins. Hosted by Robin Williams. 

At one point, he was swimming with them and clearly overcome with joy -- it was so gloriously, amazingly happy that it made me cry.

To be honest, it still does.

And I'm not sure what to do with any of this.

*****

I didn't know Robin Williams, but I grieve for his family. I am so sorry for them, and I am so sorry for how he must have struggled. 

I do know people who struggle regularly. I identify myself as one of them. And I think ... I know ... That if we're all more honest and open about that struggle? It becomes easier. 

If you are one of those struggling: you are not alone. You are loved. You are needed. You deserve to be here. There is so much here and your part in it? Is so essential. 

Stay.

Please, please stay.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

One

Today marked the one year anniversary of moving into my apartment. 

I suppose that, technically? I was never homeless in that, due to the grace of an amazing friend, I had a place to stay when my housing situation fell apart through misadventure and mistaken belief in some friends.

If you've ever had a situation in your life where you don't have a mailing address because you sort of don't exactly live anywhere, though? You know what I mean when I say that I was homeless. My friend V took me into her home, but it wasn't MY place. I didn't have a place.

And then I got this apartment, and I was home. 

I was -- I am -- a different person when I moved in here than I was when I first moved back to New Hampshire. Some of that was losing Bean. Some of it was trusting people who I should not have. But some of it? Was a restored belief in the overwhelming kindness and love that people possess. What got me here was difficult, but what I found when I arrived was beautiful.

As I said, I am a different person now than I was then. Because of that, my life had changed in a zillion positive ways. I said I'd never have room in my heart for another cat, but now I have Lizzie B. I said I'd never make room for another person or subject anyone else to my blend of crazy (trust issues!) but now I have The Fella. 

I needed a place to live.

I found a place to LIVE.

Here's to another amazing year, and to everyone who's played a part in getting me here. Y'all are simply awesome, and I love you.


Wednesday, August 6, 2014

On Goodbye

I lost Beansie a year ago last weekend. 

The last time I took her to the vet, I knew it was the end. I'd known it for about two weeks. I just couldn't face it. She was my  GIRL. How could I let go of her?

I had to be stern with myself. I had to have the "you're making this about you" lecture with myself. I had to pry my fingers off of my control issues and finally -- painfully, horribly -- say goodbye.

I've had lessons in grace and saying goodbye. The day before my grandfather died, he thoughtfully and carefully passed on to me the things he would want people to know: how he felt about them, how proud he was of them, how amazing he believed they were. He told me he loved me, and then -- beautifully -- let go.

I pride myself on my schoolwork.

But I never mastered this particular lesson.

When it's time to let go ... Sometimes long after it's time ... I want to hold on. I understand on some level that part of life is saying goodbye. I get it.

But I suck at it.

At this moment, right now, I think I am losing a friend I adore. She's woven into my life like my own nervous system. I don't know how to stop this and I don't know how to let it happen.

I don't know how to say goodbye.

I just know that I don't want to.