Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Ordinary People

Lately, I've heard a lot of complaining about relationships -- with partners, friends, family, whatever.  The things they do. The things they don't do. The things people wished they would do. The things that they wished they would just stop doing.

And I wonder: are you telling the people in your life these things? Because you can certainly tell me -- I'm here to listen -- but if you're not telling the person you're unhappy with? You're never going to get any closer to happy with her/him.

The problem with relationships is that there are people involved. Ordinary, regular, messed up folk who aren't perfect. Here's a bit of information that most of us don't consider in great detail when we're going on about our family's/partner's/friend's faults:

We're not perfect either.

No one is, as it turns out.

So what happens when two perfectly imperfect people's lives collide? Lots of good things, you hope. Some annoying ones. Generally, when discussing relationships, people take what I like to call a "reverse photoshop" approach -- instead of smoothing out what frustrates/annoys/angers them, they zoom right in on those spots and make them gigantic and glaring and the good stuff blurs into the background.

Look, I'm not an expert on anything, but I know a couple of things. Here's what I know:

*You have to ask for what you want. ALL OF THE THINGS. If you're not getting what you need out of a relationship, you need to ask for it. No one is a mind reader.

*You have to be willing to compromise. There are a bajillion ways of being and doing in this old world, and your way is not the only way. Case in point: I know someone who is frustrated because her girlfriend doesn't take the trash out. Ever.

"Did you ask her?"

"She should just KNOW," said my friend.

"But have you ASKED her?"

"No. Because when she does it, she does it wrong."

All I could think was: you've trained her not to empty the trash by not asking for the help you want -- AND for telling her that the way she does it is wrong. She can't win, so she's not going to try, unless you decide that you can be okay with her "incorrect" garbage removal. (Also, I don't know what it means to take the trash out in the wrong way. I wasn't ready for that particular rabbit hole!)

*You have to decide what's really important.

This might be the hardest thing for people. It's the hardest one for me, at any rate. What can you not live with/ not live without? What is not forgivable?

Compromise comes into play here, as well because sometimes, relationships don't look like we thought we wanted them to; that doesn't make them wrong. It just makes them different from what we were expecting. Again, you're imperfectly dealing with another imperfect person. The way they express their caring and love for you might not be exactly the same as the way that you express yourself -- and that can be okay if you can let it be. For example, some people don't do words so much, but they will perform all of the actions. Some people are gift givers and some are not, but they will give you their time and lend you a hand all day long.

Look, I'm not suggesting -- and never will suggest -- that you tolerate a terrible relationship of any kind. Sometimes you have to end relationships/ friendships/ whatever because they don't meet any of your needs, or because they're toxic. We all have that experience.

But I do think we could look at how we conduct ourselves within the framework of relationships. Are we accepting of the people in our lives? Do we communicate with them? Do we appreciate the wonderful things they do? Are we willing to meet them where they are? Are they willing to do the same for you?

We're all just regular, ordinary, imperfect people. If we all start out by embracing that? Maybe we could make everything better.

Tuesday, December 29, 2015


My gastrointestinal system and I have a long history of having vastly different goals. I think we should work towards things like "function" and "digestion" and "happiness" but it tends toward "pain" and "stabbyness" and "noncompliance."

As a result, I have been poked, prodded, probed, pushed, photographed, pricked, scanned, surveyed, and studied. If you have never had issues with your digestive system, you probably don't appreciate how very, very lucky you are because, let me tell you, NONE -- and I mean NONE -- of the tests for said system are awesome. They are all:

a) slightly ouchy
c) did I mention the ouchy and gross?

At any rate, usually an issue would be found, and a solution would be determined, and then I would feel better for a while, and then ... not so much. So tests, medicine, blah blah blah, better and then ... not so much. As a result, I can tell you which antacids work the best and which ones taste the best(Tums Smoothies, by the way. Not chalky, not gross, really effective) and which liquid treatments are acceptable (Pepto -- Will stain your countertops pink. Tastes like Canadian Mints. Gaviscon -- horrible to consume as it's got the consistency, taste, and smell of really thick toothpaste, but works like a dream for a few hours at a time) and which foods are likely to make me sick when I'm on a heartburny roll (all of them).

I did manage to have a long period where things were good. This lulled me into a (COMPLETELY FALSE) sense of security. One that was filled with spicy, acidic, delicious foods and lots and lots of coffee and Diet Coke.

And then ... about six months ago, the acid reflux gods decided that it was time to step up their game. By TRYING TO KILL ME.

While you might think to yourself, cool it with the hyperbole, Yellie, I'm not exaggerating very much when I say that I felt like I was going to die. I couldn't eat. I couldn't sleep. I was in so much pain that I wondered if going to the emergency room for what is essentially just really aggressive heartburn would make me a complete loser (and then remembered that I don't have insurance right now anyway, so that wasn't even a real option).

After two weeks of constant pain and no sleep, I finally crashed hard. I was sick, I was tired, and I had nothing left. Fine, stupid stomach acids. You win. I loaded up on omeprazole, gaviscon, and tums and finally -- after what seemed like forever -- was able to have it subside enough for me to at least get some sleep. For the next week, I ate very very bland food -- cottage cheese, brown rice, toast -- in an effort to level my system out while the omeprazole did its work. Of course, this lead to a three day caffeine withdrawal headache because I had to cut out my beloved Diet Coke, but it had to be done.

(Signs of a Diet Coke addiction, by the way: when you miss Diet Coke so badly that you DREAM about drinking it. And oh man, did it taste delicious in that dream.)

I have been heartburn free for a week. Every time I eat something, I get nervous -- is this going to be the thing that puts me back in the hole? Is this going to be what sets me back?

So far so good. And -- this may be optimistic, but I think I'm on the right track here. I think I'm going to get past this.

I can feel it in my gut.

Monday, December 28, 2015

Reality Bites

Yesterday, I turned forty.

It looks weird when I write it: I turned forty. Four times ten. Four zero. Forty. An age that applied to people who were grown-ups now applies to me.

It feels a little weird. Not bad, not depressing, just odd. It's like new shoes. They're not exactly broken in, so they're not comfortable, but they don't hurt. I'm not getting blisters or anything over here.

I'm just forty.

Here's the thing that struck me yesterday, about the time The Fella and I were about to order adult milkshakes (ice cream and booze for the win, y'all) for dessert at my birthday lunch and I was debating -- should I? Shouldn't I? There are so many reasons to pass on this, but they look so yummy and it's my birthday -- when it hit me: this is all there is.

This? Right here? This is your life.

Which isn't to say that an adult milkshake is my life -- it's not -- but is to say that it was suddenly very clear to me that these moments are not practice for something else. This moment -- right now -- is your life. Whatever you're waiting for? Stop waiting. Whatever you're wanting to chase after? Get running. This is your moment.

Needless to say, I ordered the milkshake. Let me tell you, it was fabulous.

Forty will be, too.

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

Merry Christmas Y'all

I'm going to take a little holiday break and resume posting next week. After I turn FORTY. WHICH IS INSANE AAAAGGGGHHHHH.

I hope that your holidays are wonderful.

Much love from me to you,


Monday, December 21, 2015

Mi Familia

Everyone has at least two families. You have at least a couple of the below:

1) the family you are born into

2) the family that chooses you

3) the step family

4) the ex family

5) the family you make

6) the family you choose

Family can be complicated. It can shift on you. You might find yourself more drawn to one type of family than the other. It happens. 

At the holidays, it's easy to fixate on family-- how you think it should be. What you miss. Who you miss. Who you are mad at. The person who's politics make you want to fling the Christmas goose at them. How things are. How they used to be. How you think they should be.

But the holidays? Are about love. So think about this:

Sometimes love means looking at the past, acknowledging it, and moving forward. 

Sometime love means looking at the present and reaching out not just with your hands? But with your heart. 

Sometimes you need to remember that what is gone was beautiful, but there's a whole lot of beauty still here. Don't miss it. Look around you.

To all of my family -- near, far, biological, chosen, step, and yes, even ex: I hope your holidays are magical. I hope you are able to offer a warm heart to those who travel along your path. I hope you can accept hearts offered to you with warmth and sincerity.


Friday, December 18, 2015

Friday Randoms


"Sometimes it looks like the grass is greener, but then you remember that it's just a trick of the light."


"Baby, It's Cold Outside is the rapey-est Christmas song ever."

"For real. It's practically a police report."


"The cat would NOT get off of me. Every time I moved her off me, she came right back."


"She was like a tiny, purring, fuzzy boomerang."


"And then in the fourth quarter, the Pats ... wait. You're not listening. Are you listening?"

"I'm listening, I'm just not understanding. Or caring. But I am 100% listening."


"I hate carrots." (Bites carrot, immediate starts choking on carrot shrapnel.)

"Interesting. They seem to hate you right back. And they have murderous intentions!"

Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Baby Steps

Someone older than me -- my mom's age -- said to me: "I wouldn't want to bring children into today's world." I didn't know how to respond, so I just made an affirmative noise.

The thing is, though, that she has children. So technically? She did bring children into today's world because it is now and she has children who live here. 

The other thing is that her statement implies such a loss of hope, as though the world is terrible and nothing can be done, and children -- her own, her grandchildren, children everywhere -- will simply suffer through life.

I don't believe that. I can't.

I believe that, in spite of everything, people are mostly good.

I believe our love for each other can be so much stronger than our hatred and fear.

I believe that if you dare to act for good, you can change the world, one person at a time.

And I believe that today's children could be as blessed as yesterday's if we are only willing to use our energy on their behalf. We could change their present to something more beautiful and make their future amazing.

We just have to be willing to try.

Tuesday, December 15, 2015

Salad Days

My dad doesn't cook a lot. He makes my favorite comfort food ever (which contains roughly a metric ton of butter and cheese, which is why it's delicious). He grills a fine steak.

And he also makes salad.

Sort of.

He makes one particular KIND of salad, and he mostly only makes it on Christmas. We call it antipasto salad because it basically has all of the antipasto elements -- cheese, meat, salty olives, spicy peppers, and delicious delicious nibbles of goodness -- but it's a SALAD.

Actually, it's not JUST a salad. When my dad constructs this salad it takes forever because it is a work of art. (It also takes forever because inevitably people are hanging around him like hungry wildebeasts, waiting for him to look the other way so we can steal pieces of meat and cheese out from under him and nom them before he has a chance to say anything. We're classy.) This salad has structure and arrangement and gloriousness on its side. It's worth the time it takes.

Unfortunately for me, my dad and his salad skills live in North Carolina. Last year when The Fella and I went for Christmas, I ate as much of the delicious salad as I could to hold me over until my next visit.

But. I don't have the holiday spirit like I normally do this year. I'm not feeling the holidays as much as normal. I need me some holly jolly holiday salady goodness.

My dad sent me the ingredients list and -- this is the best part -- the instructions for putting together the architectural wonder that is the antipasto salad.

Sometimes, you need a hug to make you feel better when you're down.

Other times? You need salad.

Monday, December 14, 2015

Maybe We Could Try...

Embracing people of different cultures instead of rejecting them.

Practicing the teachings of our wise people instead of using them as a defense mechanism.

Offering prayers and hope for those who have lost their way instead of dismissing them as disgusting scum.

Acting instead of complaining.

Having hope. 

Using words rather than weapons.

Loving each other as one large human family.

Supporting those who struggle instead of deciding they deserve to struggle.

Reaching out instead of withdrawing.

Actually being the change we want to see in the world, rather than putting a bumper sticker that say that on our cars.

Valuing each other.

Seeing people as people.

Embodying grace.

Remembering the past and its lessons and not repeating those mistakes.

Ignoring the loudest and most inflammatory voices, who speak only to shock and offend.

Standing up for what's right instead of deciding that it's not our responsibility.

Realizing that all lives matter just as much as ours, and acting accordingly.

Leading with love.


Maybe we could try leading with love. 

Friday, December 11, 2015


I just read this and it tore my heart open in all of the best ways.

And then I read the comments. Which, by the way, I KNOW is a terrible idea but sometimes I can't help myself. I chant "don't feed the trolls, don't feed the trolls" as I scroll down and then immediately find myself in an abyss of depression and rage because I want to believe that everyone is awesome and I'm capable of sustaining that belief until I witness the ugliness that some of us spout online.

This isn't entirely about that, though.

This is more about the fact that at least one commenter (maybe more, I had to cut myself off from comments) had less to say about the message of the piece and more to say about the writer's language. As though in a world where we gun each other down on the regular the word "fuck" is the most offensive thing you could see.


I could relate to this because I've received this message from a reader or two -- they liked what I had to say, but were offended by my vocabulary choices.  I can only say the following in response:

1) I tend to write in the same way that I speak and

2) I actually curse less in my writing, because I am a potty mouthed bitch from back in the day.

Does the profanity take away from the message? I don't know. Here's what I do know: I don't use it to shock or inflame. I use it because that is, for better or worse, the way that I speak, and I want the message I am trying to convey to be as real as possible; if my intent is to connect than I need to be as authentic as one can be in a depersonalized online setting.

So I use curse words sometimes, and maybe they bother you (sorry, Mum) and maybe they don't, but that's who I am and honestly, if the thing that is your takeaway from reading what I linked, or reading anything I write, is curse words?

You are focusing on the wrong part of the story.

And also? Sorry, not sorry.

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Sometimes the Answer Is No

I was recently approached by a friend who had burned all of her bridges with me.

Actually, that's not entirely true.

I was recently approached by a friend who had doused all of her bridges with gasoline, threw grenades at them, laughed while they burned, scooped up the ashes, and then tap-danced on them.

It was ... harsh. Harsh and life-changing and slightly damaging. I learned a lot from it, but it was a slow lesson and a significantly difficult one. Still, I got through it and to somewhere else.

And then, suddenly, there she was.

Asking if we could be friends again.

The request startled me not a little. I mean -- bridges, flame, smoke, burning? Was I the only one who remembered that?

I started to ask how she thought she'd changed in the years between then and now.

I thought, maybe the right thing to do is to say, it's okay, we can be friends again.

Then I thought, no.

I don't wish her ill. I wish her all of the best. I hope her life is better and that she is on a well-lit path, surrounded by people who love her. I want that for her.

But I can't be one of those people. It wouldn't be good for her and it wouldn't be good for me. I would always be waiting for her to strike a match and set the whole thing ablaze again, and there's nothing fair about that for either of us.

It was brave of her to ask, and I think that, maybe, it was brave for me to say no. I like to make people happy and I hate to hurt anyone's feelings, so it would have been easy to say yes. Easy, but dishonest because we won't be friends again.

Not being friends doesn't mean being enemies, though. So I did -- and do -- send positive thoughts her way. I really do hope everything works out for her.

Sometimes you can rebuild a bridge. When you can? You should try.

Sometimes you can't, and you need to honor that as well.

Sometimes the answer is no.

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

The Story Of My Life

Life is tricksy. You think you know where you're going. You make a plan. And then -- whoosh! Something happens. Maybe you get sick. Maybe you lose a loved one. Maybe you have a child. You change jobs. You move someplace you never imagined living. Someone chooses to exit your life, unexpectedly. Someone chooses to become part of your life, equally unexpectedly.

Things change.

Y'all, they're supposed to.

If life wasn't all twisty and turny, it would be like... A bank loan. And all apologies to my banking friends, but you do not want your life to be a series of planned steps and legal jargon and set terms and conditions. Sure, that might be safe? But it's lacking in surprise, whimsy, and the chance to see who you are and what kinds of courage you possess. (I originally wrote "what kind of courage you possess" but you? Are not limited to one kind of courage. You own all kinds of courage and my friend? They all shine.)

I'm thinking about this now because it's the holidays, and I've been invited to a couple of gatherings where I know -- without a doubt -- that there will be questions and judgements about the course my life has taken, and about where I am now. You might be looking at that, too. This time of year seems to invite that.

What I am doing -- and what I hope you can do, too -- is putting down any residual judgement I was still carrying with me about my path. To be inelegant, fuck that noise. I will not and do not feel badly about where I am or how I got here. I'm on this earth like we all are, being perfectly imperfect, as human as hell, and learning as I go.

Because I choose to value my journey, I choose not to value the opinion of anyone who fails to respect it.

I hope you do too. My holiday wish for you is that you stand where you are, feeling your worth, loving your life no matter where it is, and holding tightly to that knowledge that you are fabulous, whether or not anyone else gets it.

It's your story.

It's your life.

Give them hell, y'all.

Monday, December 7, 2015

Common Courtesy

I know that not everyone agrees with me all of the time. I don't understand it -- I'm so reasonable and, you know, RIGHT -- but I get it. When I'm all "ranty angsty agggghhhhh you're wrong I'm right I need to vennnnt"I come here and get it out.

This, you see, is a reasonable place for that kind of discourse. If you come here and disagree with me, you can do so and we can have a conversation in a space that I feel is safer and less fraught than face to face angry shoutyness.

Plus -- and this is the point of this -- I'm okay with the fact that people have dissenting opinions? And I want to be respectful of those around me, who's opinions I might not be aware of. You see, my momma raised me right, and one of the things she was very insistent on was that you need to be polite and courteous, and one of the things that is the opposite of those is telling someone you don't know very well that you think they're stupid.

To their face.

Which may or may not have happened to me today when I politely and quietly disagreed with a blowhard who was going off about the President (who I admire) and a couple of candidates (who I support) and a particular religious group AND the sanctity of Christmas.

Y'all, I bit my tongue. I BIT THROUGH MY TONGUE. And then there could be no more biting and I had to say something, though it hurt because my tongue was bleeding.

And the something I said was this: "I think you are being unkind. I support your right to have your beliefs, though I do not share them, but you are presenting them in a way that doesn't allow for thoughtful debate, and you are presenting them in an environment that has clearly defined power lines so that some people don't feel empowered to stand up to you. Perhaps, if you'd like to continue this conversation, it could be taken off site? Because this is not the time or the place."

This is not what I wanted to say.

What I wanted to say was: DON'T BE A DICK. STOP BEING SUCH A DICK.

But my momma raised me right.



Friday, December 4, 2015

Finally Friday

Someone mentioned to me yesterday that Thanksgiving was just last week and I was startled, because it already seems like it was ages ago.

It's been a long week and I'm tired, so this weekend is sorely needed.

I hope that whatever you are doing, out there, you have the time you need to recharge and renew your energies!

Monday, November 30, 2015

How to Be Fierce

I have noticed recently how reluctant people are to claim their own beauty. I know some unbelievably good looking folks, y'all, and they all have one thing in common:

They see what's "wrong" with them and not what's right with them.

They can make long, detailed lists of the parts of themselves that they'd hack off, plump up, paralyze, remove, adjust.

It's so sad.  But every single person I know has this list. This list of "here are all of the things that are not right about how I look" -- and I'm not 100% sure but I feel VERY confident when I say that when most of us look in the mirror? That's what we see. All of the things that are wrong. All of the things we hate.

And we -- all of us -- need to STOP.

Being beautiful (or handsome, or whatever) doesn't start with what other people see when they look at you. It starts with what YOU see when you look at you.

So be freaking fierce. March yourself into the bathroom and take a good long look in the mirror. Really look at yourself. Notice all of the things that make you unique and amazing and smoking hot.  Announce "I am freaking FIERCE."

Go ahead, I'll wait.


Oh good, you're back.

Was that hard for you? I bet it was. I bet you wanted to see all of the things that you think should be fixed -- like your unbalanced eyebrows and the giggle lines (so much more fun than laugh lines) and the not perfectly white teeth.

Here's the thing though: I think you should see those. I think you should see them and you should LOVE them because they're part of what make you unbelievably amazing and adorable. March your (super cute) tushie back into the bathroom and look again. LOVE your crooked eyebrows! Enjoy those lines you earned from laughing until your belly hurt! Appreciate the fact no one who is not airbrushed has perfectly white teeth! That's your face and it is amazingly attractive.

Go on. Get in there.


Back again. Nice.

Now. Know this: you are unique and perfectly wonderfully you and that makes you so very, very beautiful. You might have scars. You might have more weight than you think you should or less weight than you think you should. Maybe you wish some things about your body could be changed.

You can change them if you want. You do you.

But don't you go on thinking for one single, solitary instant that the things you don't like keep you from being astonishingly beautiful. Don't you EVER believe that. Not for one more instant.

Because you are beautiful. Believe it. Carry yourself with that knowledge. Hold your head high and know that whoever sees you is beholding someone who is fierce and who is proud and who deserves to be treated well because you do.

You're a rock star.

Own it.

Sunday, November 29, 2015

And You Let Her Go

I had been trying to figure out a way to hold onto a friendship that I knew was over, but that I felt too strongly about to give up on. Well, actually, a couple of friendships. I love these women. I don't want to lose them.

The reality, though, is that there are people you can't keep in your life, even if you want to. The reality is that you may reach a crossroads and she will want to go left while you want to go right. The truth is that this feels like dying but it is okay. It is, and you are, and she will be.

The hard part is knowing that.

The hard part is letting go of a hand you held to tightly and taking those steps on your own path, by yourself.

The hard part is realizing that this is not a failure. There is no such thing as failure. There is only the journey and for right now, your journey dictates that you part ways.

The hardest part is knowing that it's for the best, because it hurts so fucking much.

But you let go of her hand.

And you wave goodbye.

And you pray she will be blessed.

And you let her go.

Saturday, November 28, 2015

Maybe Let's Talk About Self Harm

I am scared to write this post, which is probably an indication that I HAVE to write this post.

But still.

When I was diagnosed with anxiety I was also diagnosed with dermatillomania. For those of you who are lucky enough not to have the foggiest idea as to what that is, dermatillomania is an OCD behavior that causes you to pick at your skin.

You may be wondering what that means. For a long time, it meant that I picked at the skin on my fingers. 

Okay, it meant that I picked at my fingers until they were permanently scarred and bled. It meant that manicurists were often horrified by the fingers I presented to them. It meant that I was embarrassed to have people notice my hands, but I couldn't stop.

And then... One day, out of the blue, I started picking at my feet.

When I say that my fingers were/are a bloody, scarred mess? They have NOTHING on my poor feet. I am aggressive with my feet in a way that I am not with my fingers because I can hide what I've done to the bottoms of my feet in a way that I can't with my hands.

However. If you were to see the bottoms of my feet, you would probably be horrified. They look like they have been flayed, repeatedly. They are a mess of scars and scabs and wounds.
I am telling you this because I recently had a conversation with a friend who has anxiety who had someone say to her, "I really think you just need to chill?" As if anxiety is a choice. As if she wouldn't opt for that if she could.

I have had people see my hands (and less frequently my feet), wince, and tell me I should stop. As though I don't want to. As though slowly peeling the skin off my feet so that I can leave bloody footprints on the carpet is awesome sand I love it sooooo much.

I would love to stop. Sometimes I do. Sometimes I have a space of good days where my fingers heal and my feet heal and I know that it would look like if I was normal (except for the scar tissue). And then I have a bad day, or several, and it builds and my brain demands an outlet and this is what I have. 

I don't WANT this.

But I have it anyway.

You might be wondering why I'm writing this. I'm writing it because I know I'm not the only one. I'm writing it because I want everyone to think about the fact that the people you meet are fighting battles you can't see. And I'm writing it because I had never heard of dermatillomania, and until I understood it, I was desperately ashamed of my need to hurt myself.

If you have this? There are things that can help. Please, please talk to a doctor.

If you know someone who resembles this? Show them this post. Let them know they are not alone. Offer to go with them so they can find out what to do to help themselves.

We need to help each other.

We need to be able to rely on each other.

Let's do that.

Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Hi There

The holiday season is about to launch, and I know that it's hard. There's so much emotion dumped into all of it. Family. History. Angst. Baggage. It's hard sometimes to let a turkey dinner just be a turkey dinner when it's tied to memories of sitting at the kids table with cousins you don't talk to anymore, or your grandmother getting mad and storming upstairs because "no one cares about her, no one cares about her feelings, no one calls or comes near" (even though your family is literally there every weekend), or when the mean aunt who never shows up to anything makes a dramatic entrance just as you are saying grace.

It's hard when everything seems like it's about family and you're away from your family. Or maybe you don't have family. Or maybe you've had to sever those ties because of abuse. 

It's hard.

But you should know this: you are not alone. You are never alone. (Unless you want to be, and if that's the case than I totally respect your space.)

You are brilliant.

You are uplifted. You are borne aloft on the warm thoughts and well wishes of everyone and everyone who has been there and is there and who understands.

You are embraced. You are held in the arms of people who, like you, find the holidays difficult and challenging.

You are validated. Everything you feel? Is okay and acceptable. Joy, sorrow, rage: they are all real and they are all yours and none of them are forbidden. Honour your feelings. They are perfect and you are perfect.

You are free. Choose to celebrate --or not. Choose to explain -- or don't. You get to dictate what you do, what traditions you follow, what ceremonies you create.

And you are loved. Yes, you. Whether or not you feel like you deserve it. Whether or not you understand why. You are loved and you are amazing.

Sending you out the warmest wishes and thoughts,


Monday, November 23, 2015

Crazy Thanksgiving Lady

As I may have mentioned, last year Mother Nature took a good look at the plans The Fella and I had made for Thanksgiving and sneezed all over them. While not particularly fancy, they were our plans for our first Thanksgiving together, and having to throw away all of our perishables due to a lack of power instead of happily nomming pizza we had made together was, well, kind of sucky. We ended up having a lovely, cozy time, but still.

This year, we decided to have a mildly more traditional Thanksgiving, albeit one sans turkey (which probably causes everyone who read this to breathe a sigh of relief) with stuffing and veggie dishes and mashed potatoes and pie. It's like a no-carbs left behind nom-fest.

So, casting one wary eye on the weather report, I went in search of side dish ideas while The Fella declared that he makes really good cranberry sauce from scratch and did I like homemade cranberry sauce?

Homemade cranberry sauce?

My kind of cranberry sauce comes out of a can, I said. Like ... um ... cranberry jello.

He looked at me with horror.

I bet I'll like it, I said quickly. I mean, I'm sure I will! Please make it!

The only problem is this: I am crazy. CRAZY. Like, "some of my friends call me Martha Stewart" crazy. As in, there is no way he's making HOMEMADE cranberry sauce and I'm not making something equally amazing. Because COMPETITION (and, uh, did I mention that I'm crazy)?

I found some fancy schmancy recipes and went grocery shopping. Of course, by "grocery shopping" I really mean "Lost my mind at the grocery store and spent too much money and had to make four trips to haul my treasures into the house" because that's what happened. That was the first sign that I had lost my mind.

The second (and probably more telling) sign happened as I found myself scolding what might be the largest head of cauliflower that I have ever seen because it wouldn't fit in the crisper. "YOU ARE RUINING MY MOJO," I hissed at the vegetable as it continued to jam in the drawer. "YOU ARE STUBBORN AND I HATE YOU."

I heard myself saying it.

Then I sat down on the floor and started to laugh. Okay, and cry a little. The cat climbed into my laugh while I giggled and snorked at the same time. I patted her fuzzy head until I regained some semblance of composure.

Here's my problem: I want to have a magical holiday where I create something super impressive because ... well, to be honest I don't know. To prove I can? To demonstrate to everyone that I have mastered Adulting?

But the truth? The truth is that it doesn't matter if the damn cauliflower fits in the crisper, or if I make food that looks and tastes like a professional chef has made it (although that would be nice), or even whether or not we have electricity or heat.

The truth is that the fact that I get to spend this or any holiday with The Fella makes it pretty freaking magical.

For that, I will always be thankful.

Nicest Thing Ever

I ran into an old friend over the weekend and she said one of the nicest things I have ever heard, which was this:

"Every time I think about you and The Fella, I smile. It's like -- you guys remind me that really good things happen in the world."

Which, awwwwwww.

And also, awwwwwwwww.

If I'm giving thanks this week (and of course I am), it's for just that: this beautiful life that I never expected to have.

It's for good things that happen, when we're not looking for them.

And it's for being lucky enough to recognize them when they do.

Friday, November 20, 2015

Saying Goodbye (PeteSaahgent)

My dad recently left the job he's had since my parents relocated to North Carolina. Leaving a job is difficult; no matter what the circumstances are, you walk away from friends and routine, and that's hard. The older you get, the harder it is.

I know a little something about that.

On the same day that my dad left his job in North Carolina, he found out that the plant he'd worked at for thirty-two years in New Hampshire had been sold off by GE.

It was, and is, really hard to accept.

That building was a fixture in my father's life from when he was eighteen to when he was fifty. Even though he retired, it was the place he identified with. He moved away, but he knew it was there, its old school neon sign rising above the landscape of downtown Somersworth, New Hampshire.

Of course, as I mentioned, my folks don't live here in New England anymore. They'll probably adjust faster than I will because they won't see the plant. It's easier to get used to things when they're not in your face. I'm still not used to driving past the house I grew up in and not being able to pull into the drive and have a cup of tea, and I never got used to the loss of my dad's buddy and supervisor, Pete, who I used to get on the phone when I called the tool room at GE so I could talk to my dad.

Pete was old school New England and he had the accent to prove it. He'd pick up the phone and say his name like it was one word: "PeteSahhgent."

"Um, Mr. Sargeant? This is Dan Hayes's daughter Danielle... Can I talk to him?"

"A'course. One minute." And then you could hear him call out: "Daaaaaannnnnnyyyy!"

It was more awesome if you got his voicemail, because there would be a cool, automated female voice saying: "You have reached the desk of--" and then a recording of Pete, saying slowly, in the exact opposite way of that which he answered the phone: "Petah. Saahgent."

I used to drive past Pete's house on my way to my teaching job. Sometimes I'd see him, walking out to his mailbox. I always waved. He'd always wave back. 

When my mom called to tell me that Pete had died very suddenly, I didn't believe her. "I just SAW him," I said. "He waved to me." As though friendliness pre-empts death. As though by the act of waving to him, I could keep him safe. 

"I know," my mum said. She was crying. I think my dad was too. I just said, "PeteSaahgent" and then I had to hang up.

I still drive by Pete's house sometimes, on my way from here to there. I wave, even though there's no one there to wave back. When I drive past the GE plant in Somersworth, sometimes I say "Petah. Saahgent" even though no one lives here anymore who understands.

I probably still will, when it all boils down to it. Even though it's not GE anymore. Even though nothing remains the same.

But it will make me extra sad.

Thursday, November 19, 2015

Giving. Thanks.

Last year was the first Thanksgiving that The Fella and I spent together. Because he doesn’t eat meat, and I wasn’t feeling the traditional foods (I was still burned out from the great turkey roast of 2013), we decided that we would make pizza and be quietly festive. This was an excellent plan right up until the day before Thanksgiving, when we had an unexpected, giant snowstorm and the power went out.

And stayed out.

For two days.

Takeout, anyone?

This year, we are going a slightly more traditional route (albeit sans turkey) and, hopefully, will have power so we can actually cook things instead of having to throw out all of the things in our fridge because they have spoiled. Fingers crossed.

As we were thinking about what we wanted to do for the holiday, though, I was remembering the fairy tale story that we all learned in elementary school  about the first Thanksgiving. You probably remember. You made a turkey out of a tracing of your hand. You made a buckled hat out of construction paper. Your teacher told a story about how the Pilgrims and the Indians pooled all of their resources and had a magnificent meal.

History tells us that this version, though kid-friendly, isn’t, erm, accurate.  I know that.

I love the spirit of what I think of as Disney Thanksgiving – cleaned up, adorable, probably including singing animals – because I think that there should be more sharing. More generosity. More pooling of resources.

What I would like to challenge every person to do for Thanksgiving and the holiday season is just that: share. Be generous.

·         Be generous with your knowledge – consider the things that you have been through and the lessons you have learned, and how you can share those things.

·         Be generous with your time – give time to someone or something who needs it. Maybe you have a friend who needs your listening skills. Maybe you have an elderly neighbor who needs someone to check in on her. Maybe your child’s school could use a helper. Maybe the local food bank could use someone to pick up or sort donations.

·         Be generous with your heart. Offer kindness and love to people. Even when it’s hard. Maybe especially when it’s hard. Let the people you love know that you love them. Send your mom a card. Call your siblings.  Write a note to a friend.

·         Be generous with your resources. Donate an old coat to a program that distributes winter coats to people who need them. Buy a couple of extra items at the grocery store and donate them to a food pantry. Pick up an extra toy and give it to Toys for Tots. Drop your change into the Salvation Army kettle. Smile at the person who’s standing out in the cold, ringing the bell.

This world needs more kindness. It needs more shared knowledge and experience. It needs us to take the time to be human with one another. It needs us to love each other. And it needs us to share.

Be generous, when you can, however you can.

And if you want to make a construction paper Pilgrim hat while you do it? That’s fun too.

Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Anxiety and Me

So, I have this anxiety issue.

If you don't have an anxiety issue -- well, don't feel left out. You probably have other issues, and if you want we can talk about them later. Let me know.

I wish I could give a blanket explanation of what it's like to have an anxiety disorder, but I think it's different for every person who lives with it. I can only tell you what it's like for me and for me,  when I'm having a full blown episode, it's as though my system goes into full flight or flight mode. My heart beats too fast and I can't breathe. It's like having an asthma attack but my inhaler doesn't do anything (in fact, I have to be careful not to confuse the two --  panic and asthma  -- because my inhaler will actually make my anxiety worse), and I usually stop talking because I can't figure out what words to use. I feel isolated and stupid and my body feels wrong. My skin feels too tight. I want to find a warm, dark space and hide in it until it passes.

It's not, you know, the most fun thing ever.

I've figured out that some things trigger my anxiety. For example, I find large crowds triggering. I used to love going to concerts; now I know that I can only really go to small venues, because the idea of navigating in and out of, say, a stadium and being surrounded by all of the people is too much. I don't like being in super noisy places. I respond poorly to shouting and to conflict.

Can I take medication for this? Yes. I can. Medication helps manage anxiety. It does not control it or take it away. It helps to smooth it out, but it doesn't erase it. There's no magical pill that will rewire my brain so that it's not convinced that I'm going to die in a Chuck E Cheese (please, never ask me to go to a Chuck E Cheese) or if I attend a party where I don't know very many people. I would love it if there was, but there simply isn't. As a result, in addition to medication, I have tried to figure out some of the things that cause me to, um, lose my shit.

Because the reality is that if I'm NOT able to figure that out and I go into full anxiety mode too often, Anxiety's BFF, Depression, will join in the festivities. This, in case you can't tell, is the opposite of awesome. It's terrible when you spend a lot of time wanting to hide and then, when you don't want to hide, find yourself sobbing uncontrollably at the drop of a hat because you are too tired and sad to cope.

I'm a freaking party to be around, obviously.

The hardest part about anxiety is this: sometimes, the thing that causes it to spin and dance through your system? Isn't something you can quickly remove yourself from.

For example, it might be your job. Okay, my job. It might have been my job.

I worked with wonderful, kind, funny people who I adored, but I would wake up feeling like I needed to vomit and spend hours at work in "Can't breathe, weight on my chest, I feel like I'm going to die, I can't escape" mode.  Every. Day.

I don't think I need to explain that this is not good for one's overall health.

I was tired all of the time because, to add to the fun, anxiety also causes me to have insomnia. I would sleep for a few hours and then wake up with the "skin too tight, can't breathe, racing heart" feelings while I was overwhelmed by thoughts of what had happened at work and what would happen at work the next day and the realization that there was nothing I could do about any of it.

Until finally I realized, as I sat in the tub crying as quietly as possible for the what might have been the hundredth time: I cannot live like this. It's not fair to The Fella or my family or my friends, who are watching me very slowly fall apart. It's not fair to ME.

I was lucky. I was able to find another job in a field I love and in an environment that's perfect for me.   It's been four weeks since I left my previous job and I have had exactly two panic attacks since then. One was the night before I flew out to train for my new job (I don't love to fly), and one was a few nights ago. That one was random. They sometimes are. I know that I'll have them. I also know that I cannot tolerate any life situation that causes that every day. I deserve more than that.

Everyone deserves to have a life that brings them joy, no matter how disordered their brain chemistry.

So, I have this anxiety thing. I'm used to it, mostly. I don't expect that I'll ever not have it.

But right now? I feel pretty damn good.

I'll take it.

Monday, November 16, 2015

Open Spaces

Acts of horror and violence take place daily. They take place on small scales, within homes, as children cower in fear from an upraised hand, and they take place on large scales, with bombs going off in market places and guns fired into crowds. We pay more attention to some of these acts than we do others. Some of them get a lot of media scrutiny and some do not. Some of that’s political – probably a lot of it is – and some of it is racial and some of it is economical.

When we pay attention, we like to find someone to blame. I think this is understandable. When something horrible happens, we want to know why. It might not make us feel safer, per say, but it makes us feel better if there is someone – anyone – we can hold responsible.

Someone we can vilify.

Someone we can hate.

That’s what I want to talk about here. The hate.

The thing that disturbs me most about large scale acts of horror and terrorism, as much as the acts itself, is the hatred and the blame.

I saw an exchange on social media about recent acts of terrorism, in which the original poster said, We should pray for everyone. Pray for the people who were injured. Pray for the families of the dead. And pray for the people who did this, because they have lost their humanity.

The responses to her post were angry and encompassed not only the people who committed the terrorism, but all of the people of their background, and also refugees from other nations and said, quite simply. No. No, we will not pray for these people – we will not pray for any of these people. No. We should take up arms against all of them. They are vile and disgusting and we hate them. Look! Look what they did! How can you ask us to pray for them? What is wrong with you? We need to destroy them.

I can’t help but think that this is the same conversation that the group who committed these acts had, if someone among them dared say, “Let us not do this thing. Let us pray for these people instead.”

I can’t find it within me to hate anyone. I just can’t. I understand the inclination but I can’t embrace it. I hate the violence. I hate the horror. I just don’t know how to hate people. I don’t know how to hate people who can’t see another path. I don’t know how to want to hurt someone because they are so desperate that the only thing that they know how to do is lash out. I don’t know how to declare war against an entire people for the actions of a few people.

This is what I think: the heart is full of open spaces. They can be filled up with love, or they can be filled up with something else.  I will always choose to fill the open spaces in my heart with love and light and hope, because to do otherwise is to become the thing that I abhor.  When that happens? That’s when the people who would cause harm win. They cannot win unless you allow their actions to fill you with hate and fear.

Please don’t fill the open spaces in your heart with darkness.


Friday, November 13, 2015

Yellie Ledbetter

I was stirring my dinner and drinking a glass of wine when Pearl Jam came on the radio. "Yellow Ledbetter" to be precise, (and precision is a funny thing to use a yardstick when discussing a song with completely indecipherable lyrics, but there it is).

I love that song -- despite the fact that I have no idea what Eddie Vedder is saying -- for a million reasons, but mostly I love it because it reminds me of a perfectly lovely evening that my ex-husband and I spent with good friends. We were drinking, hanging out, and this song came on the radio and we lost ourselves in the fun of the moment. No one, it seems, knows the verses to this but the chorus? We sang the chorus out like we'd sold out Madison Square Garden. We were young and lovely and happy and, okay, a little drunk, but we OWNED that shit.

My ex and I are no longer married-- for that matter, neither are those friends -- but sometimes I think that, like those lyrics we didn't understand, that's not the point. The point is that you once touched ridiculous joy. Later there would be fighting and recrimination and disloyalty and fear but once? 

We were not afraid to sing out.

No matter what came after, that will remain beautiful. 

Thursday, September 24, 2015


I realized I was doing better when I started giggling at work. 

When I started looking forward to things. "Oh! That thing I want to go to is this weekend! I can't wait for the thing!"

When my sense of humor comes back in full effect. "I just heard a commercial that sounded like they said, Choose our company. Choose goats. And I don't think that can be right because they're an Internet provider? But I love goats. They're so cute and bouncy! I just... You don't usually get bonus goats with the Internet. Like, Here's your router. AND A GOAT. I mean, where would we even put a goat." (I still don't know what they said. But I really want it to be goats.)

When I remembered that it's okay to be a bit broken. Or a lot broken. And I remembered that I don't ever stay broken. I have tape and glue and stuff and I know how to use them.

When I remembered that if I need help, I just need to say help and a hell of a lot of you come running.

When I remembered that I also know how to help other people.

That's when I realized I was better. I know I will be better still. I also know? I'll be worse again, sometimes, because that's how this works.

But I'm better now. And now's where I live.

Sunday, September 20, 2015

Someday, I'll Forgive You

Dear Steph,

I was dancing around the house today to a band we both liked and, frankly, I looked like a complete moron. It was ridiculous. So of course, when I was being my most campy, The Fella came in and busted me. I believe I was mid-leap, singing "Taaaaaaaaakkkke meeeeee ouuuuuuut!" when he walked in and my first thought, my literal first thought, was "ohmyGod, wait til I tell Steph."

But I can't tell you. I can't tell you anything. I can't introduce you to The Fella. We can't hang out. You can't teach me to make the perfect Bloody Mary, like you promised, or see my apartment, or scritch Lizzie B because you're gone.

It is so fucking sad.

I remember when I found out that you were gone and my immediate, panicked thought was "That's not right. I just talked to her," because I felt like I should have known if you were in that much pain, or in that much trouble. But I didn't, and I didn't, and you're not here for me to tell stupid stories to and you should be. Dammit, you should be.

Because I still don't know how to make the perfect Bloody Mary, and because a bunch of people loved you.

Including me.

So I dedicate all of my humiliating dance party moments to you. And every time I hear Atomic Tom I think of you. And every time I reach out to someone who might be having a bad day it's for you.

I wish you had said something, anything. Because then I could forgive you for being gone. 

I wish I could forgive myself for not helping you. Maybe someday I'll forgive both of us.

Until then --

Love -- all of the love, and all of the hugs,


If you are in pain, if you are thinking that you need help, call a friend. Call a family member. Or reach out to these guys:

You are important.

You are loved.

You are needed.

I promise.

Thursday, September 17, 2015


Lately, I have been having the small problem of being treated badly by people who claim to have my best interest at heart. While I don't believe that to be true -- not even a little -- it is causing me to experience a nagging, unpleasant, "are you sure YOU'VE never hurt anyone" thought loop.

While I truly believe that I never hurt anyone on purpose -- well. I like to believe that no one ever hurts anyone else on purpose, because that's such an epically horrid thing to do -- I know that I have treated people badly. Or maybe not badly, really, but in a way that hurt them despite the fact that I realized it would hurt them. 

I don't know if that last bit makes sense; let me try again. Sometimes the course of action you are taking is the only course of action you CAN take, but it's going to hurt some people. Not because you want to hurt them, but because you have to make the choices you are making.

While I can't apologize for my path? I can regret -- really, truly, down to my toes regret -- that I've caused some pain on the way.

So listen. If your're reading this (and you know if you are): I am so sorry for causing you sorrow. It's not what I ever meant to do. I can't ask you to forgive me, but I can ask you to know that I never would have hurt you on purpose, and that the knowledge that I hurt you is carved onto my soul.

You deserve a million and twelve wonderful things. I want them for you. I wish them for you every day.

I hope you know that.

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Lemon Drops

There may be a time in your life when you find yourself in a really crappy situation. 

I should say, there probably has been/may currently be/will be a time in your life when the mire you are stepping in is particularly sucktastic. The law of averages says so. I mean, if not? Good for you and what's your secret because I could use it like, whoa.

Anyway. For the rest of us.

When life isn't just handing you lemons but actually insists on pelting you with them:

Hang on.

Hang on, and try to dodge.

Eventually, sooner than you think, it will be someone else's turn in the lemon-tossing contest. We all take turns in the giant citrus throwing tank. Sometimes it will be you, and you'll be a little bruised and a lot sticky, but there will be people there with band aids and towels and maybe some tequila so you can make margaritas or another refreshing beverage. When you get to climb out, you can clink glasses and commiserate on the bruises -- because they've had them too -- and then, if you're lucky, you can help the next person who gets pushed in.

I don't enjoy being in crappy situations. No one does, I think. But if they have a benefit (and I have to believe they do) it's that they can help you to become a better person. Not just because you learn from getting through them, but also because they can teach you to be more compassionate and kinder when you see someone else struggling.

I think helping each other is why we're here.

I think compassion is one of the greatest traits we can have.

And I think lemons are delicious in the right circumstances.

Monday, September 14, 2015

The Games We Play

My last long term relationship was, um...

... Well, it wasn't awesome.

There were a lot of things wrong with it. (Which is sort of like casually mentioning that Denali is tallish, or that the ocean is a little damp.) Because of its wrongness, I tend to play some fun games with myself. I call them:

Second Guess All The Decisions! (So fun!)

Wait For The Other Shoe To Drop! (A party favorite!)

Live In Terror Of Doing The Wrong Thing! (Comes with an extra helping of flinching!)

Y'all. I want to stop playing these games.

I don't know how, though. I don't know how, but I do know that they're not helping me. I know that I express some feelings poorly: anger, frustration, irritation. I have a hard time coming out with them in productive ways, so instead of doing what a healthy person would do -- like express herself positively -- it's all passive-agressive and angsty, which is all there to cover what comes with trying to express those things: abject terror.

Am I allowed to say I'm frustrated? Am I allowed to be irritated? Is it safe to be angry?

I know for a fact, beyond doubt, that the Fella wants me to say: I am frustrated when X. I am angry when Y. I need help with Z.

I also know that I need to get past the fear of being able to say those things so that I don't feel compelled to wrap them in sarcasm and aggression, like the world's meanest gifts.

I'm just still working out how.

Thursday, September 10, 2015

See You Later

I hate saying goodbye to people.

I kind of suck at it.

I've been putting off and putting off coming to terms with the idea of having to slightly loosen my grip on one of my most favorite people in the world. He's just changing jobs -- no big deal, right? -- but it means that the hours we used to spend on the phone, kvetching and problem solving, are really over.

This is a guy who, when I started seeing The Fella, wanted to know if he was good enough for me.

This is a man who, when he knew I was struggling with something, called me to make sure I was okay. We supported each other.

I don't have any biological brothers.

But I have Bill, so I know what it's like to have a brother.

And I know I still will. (I also know he'll be mortified by this if he sees it, so I'm trying to be super chill and not cry while I write.)

I guess what I'm trying to say is: love the people who are in your life. Make sure they know you care about them. Hold onto them. 

If you have to let them go, make sure you tell them you'll see them later.

And then?  Make sure that you do.

Wednesday, September 9, 2015

Sailing Ships

I think that we've all reached a point in life where things got out of hand in some way.  The job becomes a situation. Your health is precarious. Your relationship is struggling. Your family is a battleground. 

At that point, it's easy to become a vessel -- like the kind you drink out of. A cup, if you will. Filled with all of the things: stress and doubt and worry and shame and anger. When you're at your breaking point, it's hard to find room in your life for the positives that you want to fill your soul; you can only vaguely remember what it was like to be the other kind of vessel, the seagoing kind, the kind that sets a course and travels it with intention and determination and joy and laughter.

When your boss is a jerk and you are sick of being sick and your partner can't hear you and your kids are driving you crazy, think of this:

I can become filled with this.


I can ride this wave.

You can be the vessel that is filled (and subsequently sinks), or the vessel that floats and survives to steam through another day. 

It's your choice.

And, so you know, I'm not saying it's easy. Life is ridiculously hard. Some days, just getting out of bed is a freaking triumph. I know. I've been there.


When you're facing the day, when you find yourself facing the shitstorm that life can be, ask yourself: sink or swim? Will I let this fill me and destroy me, or can I find a way to ride it out? Try to remember: you are not in this alone. Try to recall: there are people all around you, in their own boats, who will throw out lines and help to keep you from sinking. 

You are a vessel.

Ride the waves.

Tuesday, September 8, 2015

On Being Deserving

I have this thing that I do when I'm super stressed out, which is to want to wait on other people. I guess that there's a part of my brain that has worked out this theory that if I'm concerning myself with  delivering what other people want or need, then I can stop thinking about myself and the things that are eating my soul.

It sort of works. I am able to make the people around me happy. "Here, have some nice pens! Here, have something fun for your desk! Here, let me fetch you foods and beverages! I'll buy your lunch! I'll clean your fishbowl!"

Making other people happy makes me happy. So it should be a win-win.

Except when it's not.

The problem with burying your feelings under a giant pile of concern about how everyone else is feeling is this: your feelings are not gone. They're just covered up with a pile of other people's needs. It's like ... if you put a shoe under a pile of sweaters, the shoe still exists. It's still THERE. You're just not looking at it.

(Why you would put a shoe at the bottom of a pile of sweaters is anyone's guess. But you get my point.)

The more stressed and sad and tired I get, the harder I try to be the person other people need to have around until eventually, there is too much stressed and sad and tired to bury and then I fall apart.

I've lately been a little fall-apart-y.


Tonight, when I got home, I thought, "Damn, I've gotta make dinner." I didn't want to. I once again lamented the fact that house elves aren't really a thing and I don't have one.

Then I thought, "I'm going to make chili though. And The Fella likes chili. That will be good. He deserves a good dinner."

And then, out of nowhere I thought, "Wait.

So do I."

I deserve a nice dinner. I deserve to take the time to cook it -- because I enjoy cooking, longing for a house elf notwithstanding. I deserve to eat well made food.

I also deserve to put myself a little more forward. I don't have to be first all of the time. But I deserve to be on my freaking list. I deserve to do small things that make me happy. I deserve nice pens! And fun things for my desk!

And to pay attention to the things that are eating my soul and to be gentle with myself as I detach their angry gnawing teeth from my psyche.

I deserve to show myself the love and care that I am determined to show other people.

You deserve it, too.

Thursday, September 3, 2015

Tell Me if the Bloggers are Losers

Today I read a comment on social media that said: "I feel like bloggers are losers. No one cares. You're not special."

And I thought, "Well, no kidding."


When people ask me what my blog is about, I tell them it's about the random things that happen in life. And when they ask me why I write it, I say it's because I like to write.

It never occurred to me that I would blog -- or that anyone would blog -- because I believe that my life is unique or special.

It has occurred to me that I blog -- and that other people blog -- to try to erase the notion of difference on some level.


I don't think I'm special.

I think I'm articulate.


I think that if I have a gift -- if there's a thing I'm good at, if there's a point to my being here on this earth -- it's using words to make people feel like they're not all alone. When I do that, I begin to understand that I'm not alone either. None of us are. We're all here, alive, trying to do our best. It's good to talk about how sometimes my best is pretty feeble. It's good to talk about how it's hard to do your best when you're tired and afraid. And it's good to talk about how some days, you feel wrapped up in love like a blanket and doing your best feels like the easiest thing in the world.

If life is indeed a journey, sometimes it's awesome and sometimes it's shitty. The way to get through it is to talk about it and share it.

That doesn't mean I think I'm special. 

I'm not special. Not by myself.

But if we can use what we all know, together, as people, to help and hold each other up, then we're all special. If we can use our experiences to build community and commonality maybe the journey could be brighter and less frightening on some of the darker paths. 

So I'm going to keep right at it, because this is what I've got.

Thanks for sticking with me.

Wednesday, September 2, 2015


I have been having a difficult time.

One of the worst things about depression is that it makes you mistrustful. If I hate me, why would anyone else love me? I'm not worthy of love, so why would anyone even say that they love me? Clearly they are lying. 

Clearly no one can be trusted.

It's difficult when you realize that the person you can trust least is actually yourself.


I have asthma, so I understand that some conditions are triggered. Cold temperatures knock my lungs out of commission. Some allergens make me cough and wheeze.

It makes sense to me, then, that there would be things that set off the chemical reaction in my brain that causes me to have a depressive episode. I understand that. I also know that I know some, but not all, of those triggers.

It doesn't make it easier. There's no rescue inhaler for your brain.


I've been having a difficult time and not wanting to talk about it. But when I found myself having dinner with The Fella and literally sobbing into my french fries I decided it was time. 

It was time because I'm not the only one who struggles like this.

It was time because I'm hurting him too.

It is time because life is a cliff and we all need to know that there are handholds to keep us from falling. Those handholds are there. They exist. And if you cannot reach one someone will happily help you but sometimes you have to ask.


I know that I am worthy of love. I know that the people who love me aren't lying about it. I know they want me here.

I also know that I am worthy of help. That I can reach out and there will be hands for me to hold onto. I know that I have to grip them, hard, and pull myself along. 

If you've ever been there, or are there now, those handholds are there for you, too. My hand is here.

Take it.

We're all going to get through it. I promise.

Monday, August 17, 2015

Little Breaks

Gone To Carolina -- by which I mean I -- will be taking a short break while I try to figure some things out. The blog will resume on September 1st. In the meantime, look for me on Facebook, where I will be checking in with some regularity.  (If we're not friends on Facebook... Send me a request! Sheesh!)

Thank you for being understanding; you guys are the best. 

Wednesday, August 12, 2015

Patience, Grasshopper

This is a short post, but today I was reminded that you have to let things happen. Sometimes you have to wait for answers, but answers always come.

It's not a bad thing to learn or to remember sometimes.

The answers ALWAYS come.

Tuesday, August 11, 2015


There was a lot of ... funk ... going around in the office today. Very little of it was related to work. A lot of it had to do with sick family members, or martial discord, or challenging children. Yes, there was some yucky work stuff, but there were a lot of unhappy people in there, trying to get through the day.

You might think, well, that's all baggage that should be set down at the entrance to the office so that people can get down to the business of, well, business. That's what work is about.

You wouldn't be entirely wrong.

However, if there is a really wonderful thing about my office environment, it's that everyone supports each other like mad. I had a coworker once tell me that the company is a family, and that often feels true; the degree of helpers and friendliness and a willingness to give you a hand or a hug when that's what you need is quite wonderful.

It makes everything better, and it makes it easier to struggle through another day.

Which is what made me think about discouragement in general. The word discourage literally means "to cause someone to lose confidence or enthusiasm." I think of it as losing your joy. Losing your joy in family, in the moment, in your work, in your life. Feeling discouraged.

But then I remember that the word discourage? Contains the word "courage." It's brave, I think, to keep plugging along when you can't find your joy. It's a courageous thing, when you're struggling, to help someone else out. It's a superhuman, amazing effort...

....and I watched it happen all day.

People who one minute were telling me about their fears for an ill family member spent the next getting tea and giving hugs to someone who's adult child is refusing to speak to him. Someone who is having major problems with the details of a project willingly advised someone else who was struggling with staffing. All day long.

Discouraged people.

I hate it, by the way, when we are dismissive of all of the kinds of bravery that is needed to get through in this world. I see social media posts and memes that suggest that unless you have a fatal illness or put your health and life at risk in uniform, you lack courage. That simply isn't true. There are all kinds of bravery required to get through your time on earth.  You need courage to speak your truth. You need courage to live as honestly as possible. Some days, you need courage just to get out of bed.

And you need courage to reach out past yourself to take the hand of someone else when you're so far from your own joy that you can't even see it, and to offer comfort and kindness.

The discouraged people that I saw today are brave as hell, and I am honored to know and work with them.

Monday, August 10, 2015

Right Here, Right Now

Two years ago today I moved into my apartment.

This apartment was love at first sight. I mean, I was homeless so I was ridiculously excited to have an address again, but I adored this space immediately. It was cool. It was different. It was tiny and pretty. It had a freaking waterfall.

It was MINE.

Getting here was ... well.

Some journeys are not pretty.

That's what I want to talk about today, though. The ugly journeys. The difficult ones. The ones that have you wading hip deep through the shit life sometimes slings out, struggling in the muck, not feeling (or smelling) your best. The ones where you can't see what's up ahead. The ones where you wonder what the point is.

This is the point: life can be impossibly hard. You don't need me to say that -- you know it for yourself. There are days that just make you curl up and whimper because you can't process one more thing. I know. I've been there. We've all been there, I think. We have all struggled.

We've all also had pieces of our journey that are dappled sunshine and pretty flowers and lalalalalaaaaaa. We've had them and we should be thankful for them, because those parts of the journey are sweet.  At the same time, though, we should remember that it was hard to get there, and how we fought our way out of the muck and into the sunshine.

We should remember, as we turn our faces to the light on the path, that we are strong, and deserving, and worthy. We fought well and we never quit.

If you, right now, are in the middle of an ugly part of your journey, please know: you are not alone. You are strong and amazing and a warrior. You will get through this and because of it, you will be stronger and more incredible than you already are.

You will find the sunshine again.  I promise.

It is waiting for you to find it.

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Saying Thank You

I've had some low moments in my life. People who don't know me well don't know this. Lately, I said something about wanting to be a motivational speaker to a new friend; she said, "Usually those people have been through a lot."

I've been through some things.

I've been assaulted while on the job. I lost my grandfather when I was supposed to be looking after him. I've been homeless and broke and afraid. I've been abused and alone and scared.

I've been through some things.

I could speak about them.

But the things that have impacted me most have been these:

When I was terrified and alone?  Someone offered me a place to stay.

When I had nothing? Someone started a GoFundMe campaign to make sure I would have options and possibilities and a visit from my mom.

There's no way, really, to express your thanks for that. But for the record?

Thank you. Thank you. Thank you.

I will keep trying to give back the things I've been given.

We all need to do this.

Thursday, August 6, 2015


Because of where I have to park, I get a bit of a walk when I leave for work in the morning. I realized recently how much this walk reminds me of my freshman year in college: lovely brick buildings, narrow streets, and the adrenaline rush that is caused by wondering if this is the day I will finally get run over by someone going waaaaaaaaay too fast.

Except for the last bit, I quite enjoy it.

I was thinking today about how nice it is to appreciate this walk, as I'm twenty years older than I was when I was a newly minted college student, and how the things I liked about those days are what I'm relearning to appreciate now; namely, then I saw and felt how full of possibility all of the moments were, and now?

I'm figuring it out again.

I think that a lot of my most recent angst is not that complicated. Instead, it is the result of forgetting that you have to be open to possibility. It's easy to forget when you have bills and stress and life and illness layered on you like blankets that you are hot and sweaty beneath.

Remember that even if you can't throw off all of the blankets, you can usually stick a limb out and cool off.

Remember when you feel buried that you don't have to be buried forever. You have options. The world is filled with possibilities. Try to see them. Try to know they are there for you -- because they are.

When you realize that you can do anything you want? The thing you have to do right now becomes more bearable. You can breathe a little better. You can stand a little straighter.

When I was nineteen I thought that everything was possible.

Now I know that is is.

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Dear Person Who Checked Out My Social Media Profile In The Hopes That I Had Expired In A Tragic Accident:

1) As you can see, I’m still here, puttering my way through life. Lalalalalalaaaaaaa. Try not to be disappointed.

2) You should consider doing your social media stalking on websites that don’t SHOW that you’re doing it. Facebook, for example, doesn’t show you who is looking at your profile. This blog, also, doesn’t show me precisely who is reading it. Those are sneaky ways to see what I’m up to.  The site that you chose posts a great big photo and says “PEOPLE WHO HAVE LOOKED AT YOUR PROFILE” which is, um … well, you should probably not consider a career as a ninja. It’s not for you.

3) I wasn’t going to mention this, but since we’re being so candid – remember when your dog ate my brand new shoe and I laughed it off? I was really mad. However, my momma raised me to be polite and I didn’t want you to feel bad; I loved those shoes, though, and it irritated me that you thought it was funny.

4) I’m sorry that the idea of me still bothers you so much that you have to look into what I’m up to. It’s a little sad. Since I’m not going to return the favour, I hope that you are doing well and that you are happy.

5) Your hair looked nice in your profile photo. I just thought I’d mention that.

Anyway. Carry on with the stalking profile reading, and have a great day! (Just, maybe, keep your shoes out of your dog’s reach. He thinks they’re snacks.)



Tuesday, August 4, 2015


I was sitting in the house yesterday, listening to music, when a song I love and haven't heard in forever popped up on Shuffle.

It's called Revelation. It's by a band called Third Day; this is one of those songs that takes me right back to where I was when I first heard it -- and that's important to this story, so ... here you go.

The first time I heard this song, I lived in North Carolina. I went to Cary with my mother and father and was sort of minding my own business in the back of their Ford Escape, enjoying the sunshine on my face and thinking that a) I'd like to have a Diet Coke and b) I needed to figure out what to do with my life, when this song played on the radio. My dad had some kind of contemporary Christian station programmed in and I'd been mostly ignoring it up until that point.

Something about this song, though, caught my attention. The first verse made me literally sit up.

"My life/ has led me down this road that's so uncertain/ Now I am left alone and I am broken/ Trying to find my way/ Trying to find the faith that's gone."

It's not an exaggeration to say my eyes welled up immediately.


I moved to North Carolina when I didn't know what to do and had nowhere else to go. Three years later, I was trying to solve the "what do I do now" problem.  Specifically: I needed to move forward, and I didn't know how.

I believe that the Universe, or God, or whatever you want to call what's out there, speaks to you. I call it God. You might call it something else. (I have a friend who literally calls it "The Whatever.") I think that God frequently uses the media we love to send us messages.

I love music.

So, this song. Basically, it says, I am broken and in need of some help, so I'm going to let you help me. I'm asking you to help me.

That day when I first heard it -- I thought, Yes.

Yes to help.

Yes to asking for help.

Yes to turning it over to God (or The Whatever) and letting the help happen.




Yesterday, when the song came on, I thought again, Yes.

Yes to putting all of this ... stuff... down.

Yes to help.

Yes to letting the help happen.


Please. Again. Yes. I cannot carry this or handle it or deal with it. Please. Take it. I'm begging you.


I just got off the phone with a relative stranger, who has heard of me through another friend, and who is offering the kind of help for my situation that I would never, ever, have been able to find on my own.  On my own, I would have fought and been stubborn. I would have created road blocks. My ego would get in the way and I would not ask the important questions or, worse, would have decided that I did not deserve the kind of assistance that I need in this instance.

But because of a song -- because God (or whatever name you prefer -- again, God works for me) sent me a musical message to remind me that I can ask, I can let go, I can put it out there for help?

Help came.

And that? Is a revelation.

Monday, August 3, 2015

Here's the Thing

Between Facebook and Timehop, I'm well informed about what I've posted (and what's been posted by others) to my wall in the past. Normally, I find this kind of delightful and interesting.

Lately, though, I've known that something not so awesome was coming.

I thought I had another week.

But today, Facebook and Timehop basically said: On This Day In History? Your Beloved Cat Died!

I was not prepared.


Before Bean died -- before she was ever even close to the idea of sick, I had this conversation more than once: "When something happens to Beansie -- and it will, eventually -- you're probably going to need to be committed."

It says something that I didn't disagree with these statements.


I spent all day -- every day -- with Bean for six years. I worked from home. If I had a constant companion? She was it. The internets were nice, but Bean was THERE. She was there when I had shoulder surgery. She was there when I got married. She was there when I got divorced. She was there when I moved to North Carolina. She was there when I moved back. She was there through six years of working from home. She was there through the new job. She was there when I was HOMELESS.

I didn't know how to be without her.

Until, of course, I had no choice.


The problem with pets -- unless they're turtles, I'm told they live for, like, ever -- is that they have short lifespans compared to people. Even so, I thought that Bean and I would have more time. After all, she was only ten. For an indoor cat, that is practically a baby.

That's what I told myself, anyway. The truth was different. But then, the truth frequently is.


So. Two years later. Some things are much more stable. I'm in a relationship (true story: I once broke up with someone because he didn't like Bean. I could imagine life without him, but not without her, so I gave him the heave-ho. Lesson: never insult a lady's cat),  I am not homeless, I am happy. My job is stressing me out, but what's new? I am -- for me -- doing well.

Despite that, I was knocked sideways when I saw the "on this day in history" notifications on Facebook and Timehop. Lizzie B and The Fella and The Wee One and I do well. We do.

But oh, I miss my girl. It may seem stupid to you, out there, but I miss her daily, in random and stupid ways.

I love Lizzie B, you see. But Bean was my familiar in nearly every sense of the word.


What's all this for, you ask? What's the post about?

It's about grace.

Because I realize that, even as I continue to miss Bean, I was lucky to have her. She was never supposed to live. The day I got her, I took her to the vet and was told: she's not going to make it. She's too sick.

She did make it though. She made it and stuck with me for ten freaking years, even though she wasn't supposed to. She curled up by my side through thick and thin until she couldn't anymore, and even then she tried to.

The last thing she did was lick my nose when I put my forehead against her forehead, as we had done a million times before.  As if to say, whatever happens next? You're okay. I've got you. I've always got you.

If that's not grace?

Then I don't know what grace is.


So I try to remember. You keep going when you don't want to. You do it out of love for the people around you. You let them know you're here for them. You love them beyond yourself. You love them more than you love yourself and you do it because that's what love is for. That's what we're here for.

I learned it from Beansie Boo.

And I remember it every day.