Friday, April 21, 2017

#confessions of overwhelm

Dear Life,

Thank you for making April one of the hardest months of the year thus far. I think because you've given me my fill of jerks, pranksters, a**clowns, and imposters, I should be given a "Have a Great Rest of the Year" card. I've paid my dues for 2017, Life. Make this happen. Pretty please.

#straight shooter
Do you ever have that realization? The one where you are smacked in the head with the cold, hard fact that you're tormenting yourself? That it's not that guy, or that girl that's doing this TO YOU, but rather, that you're kinda doing a lot of it to yourself? Yeah...me either. Fine, for reals, I maybe sorta a little bit know what that's like.

#the rocky theme
So, I've said this before, but I'll say it again, my life is a little bit nuts. I'm positive yours is, too. This is not a competition. This is my admission of personal overwhelm. Work is a lot, single-mothering is a lot, and trying to keep my perspective all at the same time is not often a piece of cake. I'm not whining. I really do feel like even with all of my chaos, I'm pretty centered, but the truth is that recently, mainly April, it hasn't taken much to push me off kilter, to dent my zen, or to make me lose my cool...at least tip/dent/lose me for a moment. I try my bestest to get back to reality and fight a good fight. Let's just say that I don't always feel like I win.


#lay me down
This morning as I was rushing around, saying good-bye to my bed (really the only relationship I have right now - don't judge me), I distinctly noticed the night stand on the side on which I don't sleep (passenger side)...


Empty glass jar (not mine), my glasses and work out book, and a small handful of legos (also not mine). This made me stop for a second. I stepped back over to my side...


Computer bag (mine), book (mine), book in progress (mine), books to study (mine), mail (mine), glass jar (mine), all the things (mine). So much more happening here. This is my life, Life. That passenger side glass jar and those legos - my youngest left those there. For me, actually. At least, that's what he'll tell me. "I left the legos there for you to play with, Mom. They're lots of fun." (It's really because he didn't want to put them back in his room...and it makes me smile when I see them, so I'll leave them there.).

#Saturday
Sometimes on a Saturday, when I pretend that I don't have anything going on, I REALLY like to bury myself in my (amazing) bed (don't judge) under pillows and blankets and take solace in my only friend, Hulu. Sometimes, my kids like to join me at playing this game. We've watched many an episode of Stranger Things (in one sitting), many a series of Harry Potter, or Lord of the Rings, or Star Wars (well, we try to get through them, but then it gets too hot...or we need a drink, or need to grocery shop, or I have to do some form of adulting)...Please don't misunderstand, it's not like the only way my littles see me is if they burrow into my bed. We see each other every day in a meaningful way. It's just Sunday through Friday, there's a lot of business. There's a ton of managing, and many commitments, and an equal amount of follow up. So, I admit, I'm not as structured on Saturday as I am on all of the other days. All of the other mess on the driver side of my pictures shows that I'm making an effort at having a normal (ha! that's funny) life...but like, no...it doesn't work all the days. For anyone.

True story, I used to HATE Saturdays. My mom traveled a bunch for work and the weekends were all we had to clean and clean and clean and laundry and clean and clean. Mind you, while I was home during the week, I chored. Every day. I used to try my most hardest to get out of Saturday chores. UGH..but sometimes it didn't work, so I did them. Begrudgingly. Well, mostly, I mean, I could/would/should not cross my Mom. I put on an agreeable face and grumbled to myself. Maybe cut a few corners. Meh.

#buggy
My mother taught me (many, many things, but in this story, she give me the skills) to really clean. My brother is a cookie cutter version of my Mom and he has the "I must clean" bug, too. It's kinda sick - I mean, when I'm sad or overwhelmed, I clean. Correction, I clean regularly, but when my mind is buzzing, and I have something I need to work out, my bathroom and kitchen usually reflect that even more so. (No, I don't want to come over and clean for you - my issue is not THAT extreme.)

Another true story, I had to have been 12 at the time. My mom and I were in New York. We checked in to this 4-star hotel close to Central Park. I was excited to be there. It was summer and we were going to do a bunch of stuff for my birthday. We got into our room and the FIRST thing she checks is the bathroom. NOPE. Dirty tub. We're not staying in this room. We switched 3 TIMES during that stay. And finally, after all of the switching, she sent me down to the corner store to buy a bottle of bleach to do it herself. Yup. I don't know where my mania comes from, do you?

So, yeah, I hear you out there, judging (even though I told you not to) - making this a simple fix - just say 'no' more. I was with someone once who said actually said to my face, 'it's your own damn fault that you're like this.' Ouch. (No, we're not together any longer. And no, he didn't get me.) But true, I suppose...depending on how you see things. I get it. The easy solution IS to put more things down. Put more things away. Right? No. I mean, yes, it makes sense. But do you understand that I'm intrinsically this way and have been since childhood? The issue is that I've ALWAYS ALWAYS been like this. I think I'm non-diagnosed ADHD with a little OCD mixed in and a sprinkle of attitude and a splash of I don't Care. I don't know how to do JUST ONE THING at a time. I'm working on it (being fully present, being mindful of the moment - all yoga-like). Mine is a mind that needs feeding - reading, trying my hand at new things, drawing, planning, wrapping my thoughts around whatever is at hand. This is who I am. And writing about it - AIRING it out to you, Life...this is just another way of discovering. Another way of being painfully accountable. Another way of trying to tell the other lives out there that they're a) not crazy, b) not alone, c) straight killin' it in their own way...even if it's unconventional, even if it's wacky. Even if no one else does it the same way. You're all good.

#hard things
This gig is a lot, but I get it. I can play it to my own degree. I say this more to confirm to myself that I'm capable - this is not a 'look at me' rant. This is a reminder...most of my/our hurdles are mental. Doubt. Distraction. And yes, this is who I am, but I'm still working through things to be a better version of myself. I can train for a half and do a crazy eating program at the same time and not lose my mind. I can make difficult decisions, knowing that my intent is to do what's best. I can raise kids to be healthy, good people who have the perspective to become the best versions of themselves, I can give. I can work full time and NOT be married to my job...(yeah, I keep telling myself that one, but more and more I'm not sure of the total veracity of that statement). Ok, maybe I'm a little bit married to it. Maybe. Regardless, I can be all of the things that I am in days - like last night, my cousin needed me. I was standing in the grocery store in the middle of the detergent isle walking her through the good things and the hard truths because that's who we are for each other. And because this is ALSO who I am. And because really, that's the only place we could hear each other over the phone in the store. I'm not EVER going to say "I don't have time for you" or "I can't play friend right now, I'm shopping." No, I'm always going to listen. I'm always going to take the moment. One of these days, it's going to be me. I'm going to need a voice of reason...and there's never a really good time or place to be that because we ALWAYS have something happening. You just have to roll with it. And I feel like that's the theme of my days so often - roll with it. I have 20 things on my calendar, but someone needs time - ok, I'll make it work. Yes, let's talk. Yes, I can walk out for a minute to look. Yes, you can call me. No, it's not a problem.

I feel like the best medicine for what ails me is not cutting things out, but rather adding meaningful connection to others. It grounds me. Gives me a sense of healthy perspective. I've seen intense circumstances in other's lives. Serving them makes me forget about all of my stuff for a moment - and that's a rare gift. It gives me a taste of gratitude when I may have forgotten. It brings me back to fundamentals, like the need to love, and the freedom found in unselfishness. It also gives me a moment to step away from my self-harshness and give some gentle to myself. This life experience is not a simple feat. I need to be friends with myself, or I'll fail miserably. There's a try in my life to find that 'place' inside of myself.  Also not easy, but overall, a better mindset for me.

#fishy
No, I'm not losing my head. Not yet. Yes, it's a lot, but there's happy, and that's what matters. The madness does offer me some satisfaction - some joy. If I wasn't happy, I would stop. I would make it different. I would alter the course, but the what all of this has taught me - the various experiences, the passes, the fails, is that the rough waters don't scare me. If anything, I'd like to believe that I've learned that swimming through them will make me a stronger fish/mermaid.

SO, hit me up with that card, Life. 'k? I can manage my own stuff...even if my driver side looks out of control, it's not too bad for me...it's all of the other peeps and things upon which I sometimes/lots of times/all the times can firmly, emphatically check a 'No' vote. Work on THAT, will you? Pretty please, again. I'll just do my deal over here. Away from all...of...THAT.

Greeeeaaaat.
J.

Tuesday, March 21, 2017

#take me home

Names have been changed to kinda protect the innocent.

Dear Life,

I'm back in Virginia after spending a week and a half in California...and it's rough. It's not that one place is better than the other - they're uniquely beautiful and diverting. It's not so much about comparing which is more...all of the aesthetics are like apples and oranges to me. Southern California is my home. I was born there. Raised there. She was my rebound state when my life fell apart for awhile. Hawaii is my visiting favorite, but Cali is my home.

This was the first time I've been back since my littles and I moved to Southern Virginia in October. I was recruited to the East coast for work. We didn't go home for the holidays this past year because of my job newness. It was a little surreal to be so far away, a tiny family unit, for a holiday that is usually so dynamic and traditional because of the magnitude of my family...but that particular season was almost careful. Simple. Deliberate. And lovely...I think a little comforting for the four of us, specifically in seeing and knowing that as long as we have each other, we'll be fine. And, thus far, we have been.

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#ch ch ch ch changes
This relocation experience has not been without it's knocks. I am a sore thumb here - they make fun of me for what I drive, the music I listen to (which is an eclectic mix from multiple genres and artists), for eating weird (clean), and running, and doing what I do. I can deal with all of that. Really. I think it's actually pretty funny. The more pressing issue comes with the emotions that have crawled up into my heart. Where once that space in my head/heart was too busy and loud to pay any attention, with the new stillness, there is no way to ignore the demand to face facts. My facts. There have been questions staring me in the face in earnest. Questions whose answers will force-change the course of some aspects of my life. I'm not afraid of change, I think it's healthy. I'm more afraid of how the ripple effect of those answers will (not may, WILL) hurt people. Ugh. That one bears on me.

The truth is no matter what I choose, there will be an impact. And the equal truth is that some of my sustaining decisions have hurt me/myself. There's no hiding from agency or the results. I'm also not a fan of making a choice based on the least amount of potential collateral damage, because, again, if it means that everyone else is happy but you feel like your own heart is being cut out, that's not a win - for anyone. Sometimes the hardest choice and the right choice are the same...And this is gospel according to me, I think the win comes from being true to your heart...and knowing that in following that truth, the other facets will work out somehow. Maybe not immediately, but gradually. Eventually. There's no peace in being held hostage to a choice that really wasn't what you wanted to do.

#what about your friends
Since I've been here in Virginia, honestly, I've been a little slow-going in making friends. I've never really been like a bar slinger or attended social things just for sake, you know? My life here is basically my work and all of the collective sides/activities/interests of my small family. I'm actually OK with that, but now that I've been home - and have had some moments to talk and visit with my friends and my beautiful family, I realize how intensely I have missed them. I have some dearies here who run with me, who don't judge me for my weird obsession with a certain actor - these relationships are new. Nurturing real/true friendships takes time, for me. And experiences. And then trust is earned. We're getting there, you know? And I know a part of it is me...it's like if I don't put myself out there, I won't get hurt...but, really? I remembered on this trip that I've never been one who withholds...ever. I've been told I'm too intense, too direct. Only, the part that is best about that is the fact that you never have to wonder where you stand with me. If I love you, I'll tell you. I'll show you.

#never can say good-bye
When I was a kid, my mom traveled a ton. It was just the two of us, so those moments were considerably felt. My mom was my world when I was a kid. Seriously. When I was small I used to go to her closet while she was getting ready and put my small hands between the long-hanging fabrics. They smelled like her...and they were soft. I asked her if she would give them all to me when I grew up. She kind of giggled and told me gently that when I grew up I would be able to buy my own dresses. She didn't realize that I hadn't asked because I was worried about what I would have to wear when I was older...that maybe all of the clothes I would ever own would be inherited or something...it was because these were all of her things...and I never wanted to be without her.

Because it was just us, it was always important to her to let me know she loved me. Even if I got in trouble; even if she was mad at me; even if we were super rushed or in some kind of situation where the expression was odd or awkward - she always ALWAYS told me that she loved me. It was the last thing she would say to me, or me to her. It's still this way to this day. Love. Without a doubt, this has poured into my other relationships.

#don't want to miss a thing
I don't want to regret. I don't want to find myself in a position one day where I wish I would/could/should have told someone how I feel about them...I mean, I HAVE had that happen and I hate it. There ARE people who have come into my world and moved me profoundly, and I was too scared to say anything. Too scared to say the words...and maybe have them freak out and judge me. I have thought on that...and I don't want to be that or magnify it. Life is so short...we only have these moments...so, I conscientiously try to speak my heart. For some of my friends who have experienced this, I knew it was off-kiltering initially. In fact, in one scenario, when I told a long-time guy friend that I loved him, it took him aback (not figuratively). "But," he said, with a scrunched up face and a whispery voice, "you're MARRIED." Duh. I rolled my eyes and giggled because I could see that he didn't understand, but then explained that it wasn't that I loved him to date him or get with him - which was NOT/NEEEEVVVVEEERRRRR my intent, but rather that when I saw him, I could see this map of his life...and this feeling...this...this...PRIDE just radiated out of my heart. I felt that he needed to know this - URGENTLY. And that's what I better articulated - that I loved him as a person, for the amazing things that he had overcome, for the goofy individual what was him, that I loved our crazy, bizarre, but very candid friendship. To which, after he had a moment to take it in (as indicated by the look of concentration on his face, and then the slow un-knitting of brows), he seemed genuinely relieved...and then said,"Well, then, I love you, too!" and smiled widely, like a buffoon.

My close friends know that this - expressive, open, feeling - is very much who I am, and despite the awkwardness at first, it's become a very natural and consistent part of the comfortable fabric of our friendship, from both sides. To be clear, the expression of my feelings to this group of people/in this manner, has never been about the response or even about a mutuality. It's not about fishing for someone to feel the same way about me...it's about me needing (in a compelling way) to give/express/share love to/with others...to let them know they're important and valuable to me. That's not to say that EVERY time has been that way - because there have been a few where I've said it and hoped with crossed fingers and toes that they felt the same way...and some have...but others have not, and the lessons that come from those experiences have been part of my growing up, of knowing myself, of questioning and coming to my personal 'why'...but also with learning how to be alright with what I feel in any given circumstance. I don't want to deny my feelings. When they come and they don't have a place, relative to loving another person, I can then let those emotions go because I've been honest...and let those feelings cool to move on, but not retain bitterness for that individual. Sometimes unrequited love isn't all bad, especially if you can learn that loving yourself is as important, if not more, than loving someone else.

#there you'll be
There was a time when I lived on the other side of the world for a while. I was in a group with other Americans. There was a guy who was known for being disciplined, but kind of hard. For sake of this story, we'll call him R. He would permit no excuses when it came to discussing the work. He had driven expectations. For some, that created a barrier. I liked him. He cared about what he did. He felt the distinction of the limited time, and wanted to make sure we were seeing the same goals, pushing toward the same desired outcomes.

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R left the field a little early. I heard it was because of his acceptance to school and just the way the year was falling into place. Many years thereafter, I learned that he had a terrible illness. I don't know if the departure had to do with that. It didn't matter. Fast forward by years - I'm married, I have 3 small children, and I'm elbows deep in being a mother and figuring out this life-gig. Facebook is kinda new - and I think we find each other through that platform. We call - we connect. He's doing amazingly well. He's been in remission for years. He's happy. That's what's important. A few months later, my world comes crashing in with betrayal and divorce. My life felt quartered and strung-up. I went home to California to be with my family - to figure out the next move, to figure out how to recover, to figure out exactly how and what to feel...which was everything and nothing at the same time.

My friend K invited me to her side of country (North Carolina). I found out my favorite band was touring there. I combined the reasons and went. As it turns out, R lived there, too! And we were able to connect face-to-face. K, R, myself, and another one of our mutual friends were able to get together for a bit. I think it was R's idea to go bowling...and I'm the worst bowler alive. It was in this alley that was still manual - so all of the points calculation had to be done by hand. We left it to him...because, to him, this was serious business. If there was winning involved, he was all over it. R and I drove from Raleigh to Charlotte to see Coldplay - and I got to use that drive time back and forth to fill in all of the missing years between. I was able to tell him all of the things I thought about him. He was able to tell me, too. That trip was healing for me. I had a better sense of clarity when I returned. It helped me remember that I was a risk-taker, that I could do impossibly difficult things and thrive, that I was talented, that I was my own kind of beautiful, but mostly that I was reminded HOW to see that in myself. AND most importantly, not to take things for granted. That trip was my catharsis.

Not too long thereafter, I learned that his illness had returned in raging force. K called me from his room at the hospital so that I could talk to him. This was the last time. I didn't want to believe it, but I could feel it. It went like this:

Me: I know our time is short.
R: It's ok.
Me: You already know everything, R. This is a rare instance where I don't have to cram in all of my feelings...I've told you everything. You know how grateful I am for you. Still, if it's the last thing I ever say to you, it's this: I love you. I'll miss you.
R: I know you do. I love you.
   
There were other things he said to me...to be brave, to believe in myself...that he believed in me. But above all, I knew that my friend loved me...and I knew that HE knew that I loved him. There was no romance. There was no weird tie or other intimacy...we were friends. I am grateful to this day that I didn't miss that chance. There's no 'should have' regret connected to that relationship. And if there's one thing I can articulate and encourage through all of this, it's to take the moment to express the things you feel. It matters - even if just for YOU to speak the words.

#no puedo vivir sin ti
My favorite actor guy posted a picture on Instagram earlier this year. I've been crazy about him for a long while, but seeing this took my obsession to a completely different level. "edgarramirez25I love my dad and he loves me and we both express it • Amo a mi papá y él me ama a mí y ambos lo expresamos"


There's no question. And this is the way I feel about the special people who surround me...the people who are in my life...the people who move me to be better - to discover - to jump - to consider - and to move past whatever was.

#don't you forget about me don't don't don't don't
I remembered some things during this trip - that no matter how much time you set aside, there's not enough time to see/do/eat everything you want. That I miss and long and have more holes in my heart because of the distance than I allowed myself to know...but that it's more of an indication of how much I love these people than anything else. That there are things I need to let go of/choices I need to make to be healthy and happy. That happiness is possible - that it comes in unexpected packages, but it's there...and that I don't want to be afraid to embrace it. That this move has impacted me/my littles way deeper than any of us realized or understood. That Virginia may not be my last stop in carving a career. That the stage holds a huge piece of my heart - not just the being on it, but even being behind it was so fondly reminiscent...if I could find a way. That LOVE is the answer in my personal pursuit of happiness. That the draw home is powerfully, undeniably magnetic, but that there are things that need to be done here - and that I am a girl who must finish what she starts. That this life is so completely about the journey...that NO one can come through it unscathed, but that so many have been placed in our circles to serve as medics, therapists, cheerleaders, butt-kickers, and case studies. I remembered that I am loved...that I am grateful for the dear network of people who support my endeavors. That I am still reaching in so many respects...that I may touch one or two, and not others, but that there is more beyond what I can currently see - and that's OK. That I can make peace with the past and not lose an ounce of who I am or what I stand for. That regardless of our differences of beliefs, we can still respect and be kind to each other...and walk away peacefully.  

Ultimately, I have to be who I am. Ultimately, I have to love.

I remember.
xo
j.

Wednesday, February 15, 2017

#recalculating

Dear Life,

I know you don't miss me (because we spend so much time together), but lots of fun things have changed and I'm having a moment, Life; a moment where I'm recognizing the errors of my ways! I'm recognizing my HUGE LACK of gratitude...and so, dear, dear life - I'm changing directions. For now. I mean, if I have the occasional hack that demands (self-declared) wittiness or dripping sarcasm, I reserve the right to hash that out publicly. But right now, I have more thoughts in my head relative to the small, simple things that I LOVE LOVE LOVE...and I must share these precious things with you. MUST.

I wish those trees were fruit trees, but they're not. 
#launch disclaimers
*Names have been changed to protect the innocent.

**Yes, some of these will be mundane, but it's my bloggity...and that's the fun of it.

***These things are NOT in order of priority or favoritism.

#seasonal greetings
When I was growing up in California, the grocery stores my mother and I would frequent were smaller. They did seasonal fruity displays. Granted, they always had that orange juice making monstrosity RIGHT.IN.THE.DOORWAY of the jedi-mind-trick glass doors. It was improbable to get something as delectable as a peach in December. Or strawberries. Even raspberries out of season were super rare...and then when you COULD find them, they were first-born expensive. Back then, it was like REGULAR harvests - not 3 rotations a year. And not flash-frozen and refrigerated. Even back then, it seemed apples were always in season...and I'm not a big fan of red delicious apples. I do, however, have a keen affinity for mango, and watermelon. BUT. My forever favorite is the apricot. I crazy love apricots. I do! We used to have a tree in the front yard of  my parent's house...and every time it bloomed it was like magic. My mom used to say (in her high pitched voice) "put them in a bag - we'll share them - there are too many to eat." Which was simply not true. And I would protest. And steal the bags back. And gobble them up. And get sick. And eat more. Just to be right that we didn't, in fact, have too many. (Fine, I'm embellishing, but you get the idea.) There are NEVER too many apricots.

So, while I don't like candied apricots, I LOVE raw, freshly picked apricots. And jam. And jam. And jam...on fresh bread...or biscuits. That are hot. But the likelihood of finding tiny packets of apricot jam in Virginia? Slim to none. They like grape here. And strawberry. And orange marmalade (funny story - I met a guy in high school once who said that when he grew up and had kids, he would name his daughter 'Marmalade'...well, ok.) And mixed fruit - whatever that is.

Thank you, Life. Thank you for apricots. That blush on one side. That fit in the palm of my hand and make me smile with dimples when I take a bite.