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.


I went to lunch today and came back to find a wine bottle stopper in the shape of an owl on my desk. It was a gift from a co-worker, just because she knows that I like owls … and wine … and because she knows it’s been a rough few weeks.

I try always to remember that it takes very little to brighten up someone’s day. Maybe it’s a funny bottle stopper. Maybe it’s a notecard. Maybe it’s just telling someone you appreciate them. It doesn’t have to be a big gesture (though those can be nice) and it doesn’t have to cost money. It just takes a couple of moments and some thoughtfulness.

I’m not always as kind as I would like to be. I’m not always as considerate as I think I should be. On days like today, though, I am reminded of how important it is just to make a gesture and reach out to someone, to say “You are important and I want you to know it.”

It’s such a small thing to do.

It’s one of the biggest things you can do.
101 Ways To Be Kind
(I stole the below from here)
1. Tweet or Facebook message a genuine compliment to three people right now.
2. Bring doughnuts (or a healthy treat, like cut-up fruit) to work.
3. While you’re out, compliment a parent on how well-behaved their child is.
4. Don’t write the angry internet comment you’re thinking of writing.
5. When everyone around you is gossiping about someone, be the one to butt in with something nice.
6. Cook a meal or do a load of laundry for a friend who just had a baby or is going through a difficult time.
7. If you walk by a car with an expired parking meter, put a quarter in it.8. Put your phone away.
9. Hang out with the person who just moved to town.
10. Offer a homeless person your leftovers bag from the restaurant.
11. Each time you get a new piece of clothing, donate an old one.
12. Don’t interrupt when someone else is speaking. (Surprisingly few people master this.)
13. Email or write an old teacher who made a difference in your life.
14. Compliment someone to their boss.
15. Leave a nice server the biggest tip you can afford.16. Smile at someone on the street, just because.
17. Let someone into your lane. They’re probably in a rush just like you.
18. Forgive someone, and never bring up the issue again.
19. Talk to the shy person who’s sitting by themselves at a party.
20. Leave your New York Times or Us Weekly behind for someone else to read at the coffeeshop, the doctor’s office, or on a plane.
21. Cut someone some slack.
22. Help a mother with her baby stroller.
23. Become a big brother or big sister.
24. Let the person behind you at the supermarket checkout with one or two items go ahead of you.25. Write someone a letter. Like a real letter, on paper. And mail it!
26. Give away stuff for free on Craigslist.
27. Make a “breakup playlist” on Spotify for your friend who’s going through heartbreak.
28. Give someone a book you think they’d like.
29. Be the person who puts a tip in the tip jar at the coffeeshop. (Fewer people tip than you’d think!)
30. Bring in fun office supplies to liven up the workday for everyone.
31. When you go somewhere to get or do something, ask the people around you if you can pick up anything they need.
32. Give someone a hug.
33. If you spill creamer or sugar on the counter at Starbucks, wipe it up.
34. Call your grandparents. Call them!
35. Donate your old eyeglasses so someone else can use them.
36. When you’re throwing something away on the street, pick up any litter around you and put that in the trash too.
37. Write something nice on that person’s updates who posts on Facebook constantly. They’re probably lonely.
38. Sincerely compliment your boss, who probably doesn’t often get feedback from her reports.
39. Put sticky notes with positive slogans on the mirrors in restrooms.
40. Let them have the parking space.
41. Relay an overheard compliment.
42. Volunteer to read to kids at an after-school program.
43. Bring your partner coffee in bed tomorrow.
44. Try to make sure every person in a group conversation feels included.
45. Stop to talk to a homeless person.
46. Answer that email you’ve been avoiding.
47. Send anonymous flowers to the receptionist at work.
48. Pay the toll for the person behind you.
49. Donate or recycle your old laptop and electronics.
50. Write a nice comment on your friend’s blog.
51. Play board games with senior citizens at a nursing home. Sixty percent of them will never have a visitor during their stay.
52. Give someone a tissue who’s crying in the public, and offer to talk about it, but only if they want to.
53. Listen intently.
54. Babysit for a single mom for free.
55. Adopt a rescue pet.
56. Compliment someone in front of others.
57. Hold the elevator.
58. IM or email that person you’re afraid to talk to because you don’t want to “bother them.” They’re probably thinking the same thing about others!
59. Remind yourself that everyone is fighting their own struggles.
60. Leave some extra quarters in the laundry room.
61. Write your partner a list of things you love about them.
62. Put together a small herb garden for someone.
63. Empathize.
64. Say thank you to a janitor.
65. Talk to someone at work whom you have’t talked to before.
66. Frame your friend’s favorite lyric or quote and give it to them with a nice note.
67. Send dessert to another table.
68. Text someone just to say good morning or good night.
69. Help your elderly neighbor take out the trash or mow their lawn.
70. Give up your seat to someone (anyone!) on the bus or subway.
71. Tell your siblings how much you appreciate them.
72. Bring a security guard a hot cup of coffee.
73. Plant a tree.
74. Purchase some extra dog or cat food and drop it off at an animal shelter.
75. If you’re a good photographer, take photos of your friends and make them into a digital album.
76. Send mail to Danny Nickerson, a 5-year-old with an inoperable brain tumor.
77. Smile when you feel like scowling.
78. Wash someone’s car.
79. Dog or catsit for free.
80. Keep an extra umbrella at work and let someone borrow it on their way home if there’s a sudden downpour.
81. Make two lunches and give one away.
82. Reduce air pollution by carpooling.
83. Say yes at the store when the cashier asks if you want to donate $1 to whichever cause.
84. Be encouraging!
85. Help someone struggling with heavy bags.
86. Take all your change to Coinstar and donate your collection to charity.
87. Give your friend a hug, touch their arm, or pat them on the back. So many of us are starved for human touch!
88. Buy lemonade from a kid’s lemonade stand.
89. Give your partner the benefit of the doubt.
90. Be kind to the customer service rep on the phone. It’s not their fault.
91. Do the dishes even if it’s your roommate’s turn.
92. Print out this gift pillowbox and leave someone special something special.
93. Give someone the rest of your pack of gum.
94. Be patient.
95. Clean someone’s windshield.
96. Every night before you go to bed, think of three things you’re grateful for.
97. Make plans with that person you’ve been putting off seeing.
98. Call your mom.
99. Offer to return a shopping cart to the store for someone loading groceries in their car.
100. Have a clean-up party on the beach or at a park.
101. When you hear that negative, discouraging voice in your head, remember to leave yourself alone — you deserve kindness too!

Sunday, August 2, 2015

It's Not Me, It's ... Oh Wait

I've been unhappy, freaked out, stressed, sad, depressed, whatever-you-want-to-call-it, as you've probably noticed, and it stems from, um, rhymes with blurk.

So that's a thing. 


While I consider how to change the blurk stuff, I also think I need to consider how to change myself. Some of this is not really about blurk. Some of this is really about me, my ego, how I perceive myself and how I define success. 

I mean, a big chunk of it is NOT about me. It's about other stuff. I see that clearly. At the same time, though, I also understand that part of it is the way I'm filtering things through my reality lens. Some of it is coming through distorted, and making it worse than it needs to be.

I've not given up on trying to figure out what I feel strongly about and redirecting my life in that direction -- I think that's important -- but I also need to figure out why all of this is feeling so personal so that I can put some of this baggage down. It's heavy and it's holding me back and I'm bored with it.

The Fella told me today that I need to release some of this into the Universe, and I said, "But I don't want someone else to end up with it."

"The Universe is big," he said. "It will go out there and float around and end up inside a star, where it can burn up and be beautiful."

I like that idea. Tie the things that hold you back to imaginary balloons and set them free, so they can go become part of something brilliant and lovely and so that you are now free to become better than you were: an unfettered version of yourself, more able to take on life's challenges.

Like blurk.

Or whatever else stands in your way.