Finding Him In Reflection

My sister-in-love forwarded an email that gave me pause. The email was from a journal company (my weakness, besides planners) speaking on reflection of 2018 and moving forward toward 2019. I typically stay away from all of the new year’s resolution hubbub because it does not seem genuine (IMHO). If change is what a person is really after, they will tackle it any time. Why wait for January 1? Due to how 2018 started off and ended, I plan on being a ginormous hypocrite and being a part of the hubbub. And I think I will start with the email.

I am far from a heathen, but I must admit, God and I have been distant lately. My fault entirely. I allowed a lot of the important parts of my wellness to get swallowed up by other things happening around me, and my relationship with Him was one. When all else fails in my life, faith is the one constant saving me every time. Today, it has faltered and I have no doubt it is because I moved farther away from the source. When I read the email, it painfully reminded me of how far I have wandered. But, thank God for His mercy and grace. Even if I have wandered far from Home, He continues to keep the light on…just for me.

In order to find my way back Home, I have got to stop going in the other direction. I can’t front and say I haven’t been hiding. More and more I have been cutting my circle closer and closer, allowing it to dwindle down to nothing. I have been ducking my head and being passive because parts of me preferred not to even deal. But if I am going to take this upcoming journey and if I am going to get better, I have to turn around and open my eyes. Nothing is ever as scary as the thought of something. The real thing might be hard and a little intimidating, but it is the thought of it being something more than it is that creates hysteria. Instead of playing the scary-thought loop in my head, I need to uncover my eyes, about-face and stare it down.

For the next nine days, I will take a look back at these past twelve months and reflect on the wins. The bad stuff is easy to point out, but there was good. There was great. The first order of business in shrinking the scary is measuring it up against the good. God is in it all, but for me, it is easier to see Him and understand Him in the good. So, I will be intentional when I look back and reflect. I will seek understanding. I will seek goodness and light. I will search for Him in it all.

I can’t say I will be a completely different person when I reach the other side, but I can say that I will be on my way. There is no magic pill to finding your way. There are no ruby slippers to click or fantasy tornadoes whirling about to carry me Home. There is only courage and dirty work, and, if I have nothing else, I know I have the courage to put in the dirty work.

~SM

Finding 40: A Journey of Fortunate Events

The big four-oh. To my sixteen-year-old self, this is twenty-four years past old. To my thirty-nine-year-old self, it’s just another chance to get right. In six months, I will be celebrating a few milestones and I have plans and emotions for each of them…. Except…well…forty.

You would think the woman with five 2018-19 planners (probably a sickness) would have a solid plan for her big year. I spent the last year in my dirty thirties dealing with some major extremes, so naturally, you would think I would spend the first year in my forties shedding it all and dancing in the sun.

Here’s the problem, and it could be the mind/body/spirit-numbing Novocain 2018 talking, I can’t think of anything worth the energy. I want nothing. No lists. No buckets. Nada. Nope. Nothing. I suppose this means I will quietly allow myself to slip out of thirty’s armor and into the satiny little number of forty. I will most likely just keep my feet on the ground and lazily power through. I have spent forty years making mistakes, pushing, goaltending and climbing. It is okay to stop and not force myself to smell a rose, start a business or rebuild. I can just be….right?

Unfortunately, I can’t. There is no way I can sit back and watch life pass by. Trust, I want to. I am tired. I don’t have the energy to deal with the bucket listing and such, but I can muster up a lil’ sumpin. I also can’t say I have must-do items I am looking forward to because honestly, I don’t. What I do have is a red-dirt dusty, slightly bumpy path ahead with dim light overhead. I don’t need lists or big goals. Hell, making it to work on time is goal enough for me. I need no demands. I just need a good pair of shoes and the permission to go.

All of those previous lists and plans were always about finding who I had never really known. All of it was about validation. Job well done! I wanted to hear. You look great! I wanted eyes to say. She’s amazing! I wanted people to think. I can finally say, I don’t need it or want it. I found myself years ago and I like her. We became friends. We found our way to love and joy. We want for nothing. However, we never made the journey to a specific set of coordinates. This will be new. Together we are setting out on a journey to find forty and see what it is all about. The adventure and the discovery along the way is everything. Hope she’s ready…this should be fun.

~SM

Planners, Paper, Pens…Oh my!

Paper. All types. Pens. All kinds. Planners. Every one. If it is an office supply, I am drawn to it. It has been like that always. I have journals, notebooks, planners, pens, stickers, labels, folders, markers, crayons, post its, pencils, paper, dividers, rulers, calculators, tape, binders and page protectors in various locations (neatly) tucked away. If I get stressed, I go to the store in search of the perfect notebook. Sometimes, I just stand and hug a pack of filler paper. *sigh* Don’t judge.

When B2S time comes, I start making lists in July. This past August I had a carriage full of school supplies and The Girl just shook her head. “Mommy,” she said with amusement and slight pity in her eyes, “we’re in high school. We really don’t need all that stuff. Just get paper and binders. That’s it.” My eyes fell on the carriage full of boxes of crayons and markers, several notebooks and binders, construction paper, two types of glue, pencil pouches and the like. I smiled sheepishly as I started releasing the booty. For most of my issues, I know the source, but this? With this, I was clueless…until recently.

Overly excited about the discovery that Michael’s had a one day sale on planners, Young Gun sat staring at me.

“What?” I asked baffled by his look of…hmm…no.

“No,” he said.

“No, what? I didn’t buy one,” I protested.

“Good! You have a drawer full already that you don’t use.” Lies. Those, people, are lies. Each planner has a purpose and I use them all the time. He just doesn’t pay attention. “Why do you like paper so much,” he asked. I shrugged. That was a good question. I had no idea.

“I don’t know why I like paper stuff so much.” Silence filled the air as I put my brain to work really trying to understand. After about a minute had passed and my puzzler was sore, I said, “Well, take the planner, for instance. There is something so exciting about it. The way it smells, the cleanliness of it all. There’s so much possibility.”

Ah-ha! And there it was.

For thirty plus years I have been in love with paper and pens (and anything closely office related), and for the better part of twenty, I have felt like a weirdo for the love affair. But here, hanging in the air, was the answer to why this moth is drawn to that particular flame. There is so much possibility. The same can be said for pens and pencils, crayons and markers. The potential is enormous!

 What can be created within the pages of a journal? What life-altering words can be written on paper? What power can be wielded with the pen? Billion dollar businesses have been formed from thought spilled from a pen. Lives have been forever changed by what was poured out onto a blank page!  *swoon*

Anyway, I ended up not buying a new planner. Even though I had a better understanding of why it all meant what it meant, I also had an obligation to myself to be a responsible human being and not hoard…and, uh, also, I couldn’t make it to the store in time.  But, hey, at least I put a face with the name on this age-old love affair. Perhaps now I can put it to good use and actually create something on those marvelously beautiful blank spaces.

 

Cinderelly, Cinderelly, All I Hear Is Cinderelly

I have a problem. Well, okay, more than one (obviously), but one of the biggest problems I have is giving away too much. I thought I learned my lesson, but apparently I am a serial giver. And I am also a doer because it takes more energy for me to bitch than do. There are dishes in the sink, so I do them. There is a trash avalanche about to happen, so I rectify it. There is a light bulb blown, so I change it. There is a dead dog, so I bury it (well,  attempted…long story). Whatever needs doing, I do it because it is there to get done and these people I live with have terrible initiative. Sure! Let’s be hoarders! Said no one…ever.

I do not know how not to do. My mother is a flitter, too. She flits from one end of the house to the other—sorta like a humming bird. I don’t even know if she owns pajamas or if she just sleeps in her clothes. My dad, he’s a doer too, but there are levels to his doing. He is cutting grass, doing man stuff to cars, wood, machines, whatever. When his man stuff is over with, he parks it unless he’s hungry or thirsty. Meanwhile, at opposite ends of the house, the flitter is buzzing about. Honestly, I think my dad sometimes just finds stuff to do because all of her buzzing, but then he gives up because he knows she can do this all night.

I have become a flitter, only less gracefully. My mom manages to do it while popping chocolate kisses in her mouth like it is the easiest thing in the world. Me? I run around like a mad woman: boobs popping out, one shoe on, hair everywhere, ashy everything. I am dusty, sooty Cinderella.

On average, I get about a good three to five hours of sleep a day. If I manage to get five hours it is because I fall asleep in the bathroom (yes, on the toilet–don’t judge). I am up at 3 or 4 a.m. and I don’t touch the bed (or pajamas) until well after midnight. I am working, driving, doing dishes, cooking dinner, washing clothes, washing tiny humans, feeding tiny humans and walking flea ridden dogs—amongst other things. I do take blame for some of the load. I put it on my shoulders, sure. Running around like a banshee pointing fingers and giving directions is just not my thing. Instead, I explode.

I cannot remember what triggered me exactly. I think it was the folded up clothes I neatly placed on The Boy’s bed. Something about him sleeping, my eye bags begging for rest and the house being library silent sent me over the edge. I told Young Gun all about my Cinderelly thoughts and soot filled despair. I. Was. Tired. As far as I was concerned, all I needed was a tank of gas and a pair of undies and I was out the door. I quit dis bish. For months and months and months I have been hauling a pretty hefty load with little help (and I was pregnant for most of them I might add). I was holding onto everyone’s feelings, best interests and chores, while good ol’ Cinderelly was being ignored. Young Gun reminded me of the problem: I stopped putting myself first.

“If you don’t take care of you, everything stops,” he said. He also apologized for letting me take point on the whole thing.

It will take some time to get back into the swing of doing for me first, but I can do it. I need it. I am going to take the time to inventory everything around me and figure out what fits best in my life. Whatever does not fit or whatever causes me more aggrevation than not, I’m cutting it.

This is exciting! It is exactly what I need–a plan (teehee).

~SM

 

Rule #1: Silence is #$%*ing Golden

I am a reactor. I react. Pure emotion. You cut me off in traffic, I wish I had a tank to crush you. You jump in front of me in line, I want to trip you on the way out. Temper temper. A lot of times I put my foot, the whole thing, in my mouth and wish I hadn’t. Did I say that? Did I mean that? Layer the foot with the daily guilt I feel about every little thing and sprinkle that with some anger glitter and you have got me. Mmmmm, delicious.

After some internal checks lately, I have come to realize silence is golden—especially coming from me. If I just shut up sometimes or if I just nod my head and smile maybe, just maybe, messes wouldn’t be made and I can walk on my feet instead of choking on them.

I am like the Hulk. I turn green and roar and smash. I do not give people any room to be human. Instead I shut it down lock it down and toss away the key….and then roar and smash stuff. I don’t think about the words being used until after the fact, and then I live days or weeks or months trying to clean up the mess. So, I’m vowing to shut up.

It has been a declaration of mine before, to shut up, but it lasted like three days and then I went back to running my mouth. I went back to over explaining, using too many words, and spewing things perhaps I should have just kept to myself. I let the Hulktress and all of her shitty emotions react for me instead of being a grown up and assessing the situation for what it is. I am pretty sure it will be difficult to keep it all in at first, but maybe I can channel all of that into something good like the great American novel I keep referencing but never seem to finish.

Emily Dickinson said it best, “Saying nothing sometimes says the most.” My voice does not need to literally be heard to be heard. I do not have to bounce anything off anyone. I do not need to fill up the air with words aplenty. I need to just hush, say nothing and let that be the voice that matters. Perhaps if I do, I can learn to take in the situation and think a little more critically, and eventually, I can stop chewing on my feet.

~SM

 

Swallowing Grief Whole

Death. It’s a thing.

I have lost people to death, both before I could really understand it and after. My first encounter is just but a snippet. I am not even sure if she died that particular day, but I remember seeing my great-grandmother collapse on the floor. I don’t recall seeing her after that. When I was sixteen (or thereabouts), my grandfather died. It stung and I didn’t quite understand why, but I pushed it down, until I couldn’t.  In the last few years, I have lost others, and due to recent events of one in particular, I have been stuffing and stuffing grief down whole. Death. (sigh) It’s a thing.

The moments in my life when death happened, and I had a grasp of its meaning, I found a way to squash whatever I was feeling. Business first, tears later my grandmother says. Only, I am not so sure my tears ever came.  The business of caring for others or filling out paperwork or going to work or taking care of children, or any number of regular, mundane activities that could have waited until I grieved, always came first. Tears never came. With the end of 2018 barreling its way toward closing time, I think the grief I have swallowed is finally catching up. Its closing time, the music is lowering and the lights are about to come on. What was hidden is about to become ugly, real quick.

Enter the ugly. I am just now allowing the thoughts of loss to come. Along with it, unfortunately, comes the thought of expiration dates. It is completely terrifying to know we all have one, yet we have no clue when it is. I am seeing The Kids differently, Young Gun, and my parents. I am filled with fear of loss and all that follows. I feel like I should cling to them, keep them hostage. No open doors. No adventures. No living. I just need them close. I need to smell them and touch them. I need to know they will be okay, always. With every new day, my fear grows and grows. It is little now. I can tell. But it will grow if I don’t figure out a way to regurgitate this grief—all of it.

Death. It’s a thing. It leaves behind the grievers with no clear path to wellness. Our questions cannot be answered. Only vague assumptions can take the place of answers. Only tall tales by those who choose to make themselves look like heroes. The other side is heard nevermore. It’s a thing. A scary, inevitable, colorless, odorless thing. Grief is the only payoff from such an unfair transaction, but it, too, is a thing. A scary, inevitable, colorless, odorless thing. It is a real, whole thing. It should be ingested one piece at a time. Lesson, unfortunately, learned.

~SM

An Open Letter: Thank U, Next

I’m so #$%&ing grateful for your mess. Tis true, Ari didn’t quite say it like that, but that is how I carry it. It is the only way I can put you and your crap to bed. If I had things my way, I would be pushing you into angry bees nests and running my car through your front door, but thank goodness I cannot.

You have made what should have been sweet, bitter and rotten. Your nasty words managed to soak to the bone what should have been good and clean. You built a house with walls of sorrow and unworthiness and crammed in all of the innocence you could find, locking the door behind you. You single-handedly crushed love and replaced it with a great, unwavering disdain. As far as I can tell, you sir/madam are a monster only here for the amusement of everything ugly.

Believe it or not, I don’t hate you. Actually, as I stand here, talking to you, I feel sorry. I am sorry you are so clueless. Sorry, you will miss out on greatness (oh if you only knew). I am sorry you were used as a tool to tear open and poison. I am so, so sorry for you. I can see you wearing your unhappiness like a heavy coat, your head hanging low when no one is looking. I can see the lack of love like an open, festering sore. The secrecy of your lies weighing you down. The smell of the dead bodies you buried oozes from your pores and no matter how much you cover it with beautiful fabrics or flowery fragrances, you still smell it.

I am sorry you felt you were in the right. I am sorry you felt entitled. I am sorry you stumbled and fell. One too many ill-fated cards atop your house will make it all come tumbling down, sooner rather than later. And when it does, I will not have shelter to share. You will have to weather the storm alone.

I thank you for your mess. I thank you for allowing me to see you for who you really are. I thank you for allowing your mask to crack and the truth spill out, if only for a moment. I thank you for the words aplenty and the blame. I am grateful because, without you, there would be no me.

Isn’t it funny how that works? (C’mon. It won’t hurt. You can smile. It is funny.) You spend your days being wicked, and the end result is your misery, yet those who have had to bear the brunt of your abuse come out shiny and new.

I want to shake your hand. Yes, the one that stirs the pot housing your witches brew. I get to go off and be shiny (aren’t you excited for me). I get to be newer and greater and better than you will ever be. I get to witness the moments you only wish you could. I get to stand tall and pretend you don’t exist.

For that, my friend, I say Thank U…Next (wink).

~SM

The Meltdown

I had a meltdown. If I was the Wicked Witch, I would have been all smoke.

I have been working since I was eleven. I have been getting a paycheck with someone else’s signature on it for almost thirty years. I have clocked in and out, followed someone else’s rules and adhered to someone else’s dress code for the better part of twenty. Cookie was my chance to escape. With three months of self-time, I could create a new biz and quit the rat race. At some point, between daydreaming about what I thought I would be able to do and sleepwalking out of sheer exhaustion, nothing was accomplished. With two weeks left until my jail sentence began, I decided to get serious about a seven-year-old idea. But then….

I saw it. I saw my idea on someone’s Etsy page and people were buying it. My idea. Her page. I slid off the couch and onto the floor (yes, literally) and laid in the fetal position shivering. My idea. The one I had drawn up, attempted to create. The idea I had sitting on the dusty mental shelf waiting for the perfect time—for this time—to put into action. That one. It was on some strange lady’s page with her stupid smiling face and her stupid bio. Mine. Mine. Mine.

I managed to get up off the floor before the tears came. I went to the bathroom and burst into tears. Why the hell could I never win? Was I just destined to be a worker bee? Didn’t God know I was tired? Did He not know I have to work hard just to bust a fake smile from the corner cubical under those harsh fluorescent lights? Didn’t He realize I want to create something too? I tore all my little positive quotes off the bathroom mirror and just stood there staring. I sighed. Of course, He knew. He also knew I was ungrateful. I was spoiled and now, feeling a bit too entitled.

The idea wasn’t meant to sit on a dusty mental shelf. The idea was meant to be given and worked. I am the one who let life get in the way. I let vacations, relaxation, concerts and tasty food sneak its way in and steal time. I let dating and wedding planning slide in and take its space. I am the one who let the idea get away. The Etsy Lady got the idea too and she ran with it. I sat with mine and watched it fester and mold and had a meltdown when it wasn’t fit to consume. Tsk tsk.

Of course, I could go through with it anyway. I could do all the extra work to do my version of the idea (cuz yes, they are a little different), but do I have the energy though? Do I have the money? Do I have the time? Nope. Nada. No. I will just chalk up yet another idea gone to waste (the personal shopping thing still burns my buns every time I see it every friggin where–another story for another time) and pull up my big girl undies, swipe my key card and clock in.

Yes, it sounds like giving up, but it isn’t. Some of us are meant to be where we are and there is nothing wrong with that. Perhaps if I just stand still and accept the position I am in I will be much better off, and I won’t need so many stinking Post-its cluttering up my bathroom mirror. I won’t have to constantly remind myself of how great I can be if I can just be great. Right here. Right now. Maybe if I stop thinking about a way to escape, the guard will just hand over the key.

I am going to work on being present and happy in the moment. If I can stand here, now, I can stand there later. And I am a-okay with that.

~SM

Desperately Seeking Okay

I hung up the phone, laid my head down and cried—hard. Every difficulty, every stumble in the past twelve months spilled out and landed in a messy puddle. The tiny fracture weaving its way through my heart finally reached its destination, breaking it into tiny, uneven pieces. The eggshells I continuously balanced on carrying everything on my shoulders were crushed into a fine powder from the weight. The stuffing had finally come out as my threads came undone. My skin and bones were jelly. All of this was entirely too much. If it all ended in a quick flick of the light switch, spilling me into complete and utter darkness that would have been okay. I was not okay.

Young Gun happened to catch me in this pitiful moment of despair and tried rescuing me, but instead, I sucked up the despair quickly and replaced it with anger. Seething, violent, red-hot anger. I suddenly felt like I was going to burst into flames. It was deeply rooted from the bottom of my feet to the top of my head. A small voice in my head tried dousing the flames, whispering “You are not okay” but I barely heard it. My skin burned and sweat beaded my forehead. My hands itched to punch, and so I did. My throat exploded in screams and grunts. The anger bubbled and popped under the surface. I was not okay.

I eventually calmed down, and by eventually I mean a week later. Just now, I am beginning to recognize the lack of grounding. Had I been grounded previously, my reaction would have been different. The physical ache would have felt different. The words would have tasted different. No one and their shenanigans should get me to a place of instability, but over this year I have felt its slow boil and refused to acknowledge it. All it took for the pot to boil over was one more senseless thing.

Sure, I can poke fun at Young Gun and I forgetting to hang damp pants or putting on underwear backward, but there are serious consequences to not taking care of myself. I have been pushing it aside consistently and it finally was too much. The levies finally broke. And so, here I am exhausted and lost after the water receded and the storm subsided. I have been in the belly of this beast for long enough. I have got to find a way out…a way to okay.

The stress is taking a physical toll and it is time for me to put it all down and leave it all be. I have to take it one step at a time. I have to go back to the practices that made me well. I have to remind myself which battles are worth the fight and which people can %#@! off. I can’t be everything to everybody and be nothing to myself. If I want to keep my head, I have to keep reminding myself:

Everything will be okay. I will be okay.

~SM

Do Your Boobs Hang Low?

Can you tie them in a bow? I can’t quite do that, however, if I am laying just so I think I can toss one over my shoulder. Hey, listen, age happens. Things drop. Hips hurt. Knees remind you you are definitely mortal. Of course, there are always plumpers and fillers, doctors and knives to fix those sort of things. But why bother? I figure, if it hangs low—let it. If you can throw it to and fro—do it. Its all temporary anyway.

Acceptance. It is the first stop on the journey to find 40. I cannot be flip with everything in life, flicking a boob and middle finger. There are some aspects of life I have to accept, and the most important item on the list is my body. Like, for real this time.

This soft ol’ gal has helped me run twenty whole, real (slow) miles (and crawl the other six). She has held three kids and spit out each one healthy. She has looked the other way when Patron shots were aplenty and she has kept on pushing when the tank was below E. She has endured weight lifting, Insanity, hiking, biking, and running when the scale (and knees) said it probably wasn’t a good idea. She has kept me when day turned to night turned to day and no sleep was had. She has fed babies and barely fed herself. She has managed to continue to love and provide for me and those around me when all I could do was point out her every, miniscule flaw. She wore the white hat. She was the gladiator when I couldn’t be. She kept me standing in the sun.

Looking back, it breaks my heart to remember the things I thought/said about myself. I was always so busy trying to look how I thought beauty and comfort should that I neglected what was already wonderfully made. I was so worried about revering what I didn’t have, I neglected who I had.

On this first leg of the journey, I have got to carry as little as possible. I have got to step onto the path with only the necessities in hand. I cannot possibly expect my body to carry burdens never meant for her to carry. She has enough to handle. She will have her hands full, anyway. She’s got to learn how to tie these boobs in a bow 😉

~SM