Monday, December 09, 2013

Making Way for Brighter Days

These past months have been a dark, dark time.

For no particular reason, I expected 2013 to be a good year.

Just so we're clear, it hasn't been a good year.  I would venture to say that it was the worst year I've experienced in my life so far.  A friend of mine asked if it was worse than the year I was diagnosed with cancer, and it took maybe two seconds for me to say, painfully and honestly, that yes, yes this year has been worse than the year I was diagnosed with cancer.

My health is good.  That was the best part of 2013. 

The rest?  Well, I'm thinking that I'm reading to burn 2013 to the ground.  A big bonfire on New Year's Eve, just blow this year away and send the ashes far, far away.

I get so melodramatic sometimes.

I won't be starting any fires on New Year's Eve.  Please.  With my luck, my house would catch on fire, which would set me up for a really crummy 2014.  Metaphorically speaking, though, I'm going to blow 2013 to smithereens.

I don't know what smithereens really are, but that's what 2013 will be when it's over.

I never realized how much negativity from others could affect me and my writing.  I've done so little in terms of taking care of myself and "filling my tank", writing here on my blog, or any writing at all.  I know that needs to change and I'm the only one who can do it, even if things around me haven't settled down.  My life still goes on.  I have no obligation to feed into anyone else's bad attitude and it's up to me to avoid letting their bad attitudes bring me down.

Nanny nanny boo boo, 2013.

Saturday, August 03, 2013

Remembering

I remember a quote that I heard who knows how long ago from Maya Angelou:  "People will forget what you said, people will forget what you did, but people will never forget how you made them feel."

I've always appreciated those words and found them to be true.  Mostly true.

I think they may be mostly true for other people.  Less so for me.

I'm blessed/cursed with a very long memory that clings to details.

I do remember what people say.

I do remember what people do.

And I do remember how they made me feel.  I should add that I do a relatively good job of not "blaming" my feelings on others, but I'm careful to acknowledge when I feel hurt or angry (or happy!) and what occurred to spark to those feelings and what I can do to take responsible ownership of my feelings.

Anyway, the remembering part.  It makes my life and relationships more challenging than they should probably be--I remember things that I'd rather forget...certainly things that others would prefer for me to forget.  But I don't.  I just don't.  I work hard not to obsess, but it's not even about that.

It's about being vulnerable.  And being guarded after someone takes advantage of that vulnerability.  And not being willing to take the risk of being vulnerable again.  Which means I choose not to let people get close to me, even though I may desperately want that closeness. 

Come close, but stay away.

I know how that feels.

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Unfound

I climbed a tree yesterday.

In a historical park.

I'd spent the afternoon there, alone, looking for some peace.  There are acres and acres of gardens, a military museum, a reflection point, running water, still water, flowers...but I saw this one stinkin' tree.  The only tree that had low branches sturdy enough to support me.  So what did I do?  My camera, which was around my neck, was carefully tucked into my jacket, my phone and water bottle went into my zipped pockets.

For just a moment, I felt like I needed to prove something.  To myself. 

So I started climbing.


I had looked around to make sure nobody was in sight before I attempted it, but I'll be darned if I wasn't but 10 feet up when an elderly gentleman with tufts of white hair puffed out of his VFW cap pulled up in a golf cart and sternly addressed me as, "Young lady," before ordering me down.  I thought I was going to be escorted out of the park, but I wasn't.  Instead, behind thickly lensed glasses, I saw a pair of gently smiling blue eyes.

"It's not there, you know."

I was puzzled by his statement.

"What's not there?"

"Whatever it is you're looking for.  It's not in that tree.  You may not have found it yet, but I assure you, you will.  If I'd let you climb to the top of it, you may have taken in a nice view, maybe gotten a look at the bigger picture, but I promise, what you're looking for isn't in that tree.  Good luck to you, miss."

He grinned and gave me a sharp salute and a nod before driving off.

Whatever it is, whatever I'm looking for, it remains unfound.




Saturday, May 04, 2013

True Story: A Forty Watt Lesson


I dropped a light bulb tonight. 
This isn’t necessarily unusual for me, especially when considering how awkwardly clumsy I am in almost every area of my life.
It was a GE 40 watt soft light.  A regular old bulb, not a fancy, energy efficient one.  I admit, I’m polluting the world with my fondness for regular bulbs.
I dropped the bulb when attempting to put it into the light fixture over the kitchen sink.  I swear, it fell in slow motion, slipped through my fingers, past the helpless grasp of my other hand and I watched it bounce once against the rubber mat in the bottom of the sink before hitting the stainless steel with a sharp cracking sound.
I looked at it and at first glance, it was whole.  Lying on its side, it looked perfect, the glass smooth and untouched.  I knew it was broken, though.  There was a piece next to it that was whole in its brokenness with dozens of tiny shards around it.
My curiosity got the better of me and I picked up the bulb, turning it so I could see the hole and sharp edges.  One side perfect, one side damaged.  I turned it, contemplating its appearance, contemplating its functionality.  The base was still solid, the filaments still intact.  I knew I should throw it away, but I gingerly lifted it to the light fixture, turning it painstakingly so as not to cut my fingers on the jagged edges.  When it was secured, I took a breath and turned on the switch.
It worked.
It was broken and fragile, but it worked.  The part of the bulb facing out was whole.  The part facing back—the part that was hidden—was damaged.  But there was still a glow, a burst of light coming from it.
I flipped the switch off and carefully removed the bulb from the fixture.  One reckless move and I knew the rest of the glass would shatter, would separate from its base.  It would be rendered useless.  Placing it on a dish towel, I turned my attention to the broken glass in the sink.  Picking up what I could, I laid them out, turning them this way and that, arranging them as I would puzzle pieces. 
Crazy glue.  Have you ever tried to crazy glue pieces of a light bulb back together?  I have.  Just this once.
Did it work?  Yes.  But no.
You see, once something is shattered, there are some pieces that are too tiny, maybe far too sharp, to ever be put back into the whole.  The tiniest pieces, the ones you can’t see at first glance and thoughtlessly run your fingers over?  Those are the ones that cut unexpectedly…the ones that cut the deepest.   
You can piece together what’s left.  Turn it into something resembling what it used to be.
And the glue that holds the broken pieces together leaves jagged lines, thick scars that disfigure what should have been a smooth, simple surface.
But the light still shines through.  If you’re careful…if you connect it to what it needs to make it work…if you don’t push too hard or unwittingly crush it…it shines. 
It may shine a little less brightly, may be slightly distorted because of the heaviness of the scars, but if you turn it just so, if you look carefully at the spaces where small pieces are missing, you can see inside.
And that’s where the light shines the brightest.  Not through the untouched, unbroken part that’s on display for everyone to see.  Not through the scars.  But through the raw edges, through the small parts that are so broken that they’ve left tiny, pinprick windows that reveal a fragile, but brightly lit core.   
I learned that it’s not about fixing the bulb.  It’s not about putting it back together or trying to turn it back into what it used to be.  It’s about accepting that it will never be quite the same.  It’s about learning how to hold the broken pieces and getting to know the sharp edges so that they do less damage, so they hurt less when you touch them.
But mostly, it’s about the light.  Because the light that comes from it…the light that’s still there even when the outside is broken…well, it turns out it doesn’t really change at all.  The core, the heart of what’s on the inside, it doesn’t change.  And with the right set of circumstances, it’ll keep on shining.

Sunday, April 28, 2013

Where I've Been

This is, by far, the longest stretch I've gone without blogging.  I do miss writing, but life has been happening lately.

"Life" is a four-letter word, you know.

Aside from losing time to Pinterest, I've been managing a ridiculous situation at work.  Enough time has passed that I feel like I can think/talk about everything that happened without feeling overcome with anger or sadness.  I'm fine and my job is fine, but relationships with co-workers that I've known for a long time have been damaged.  The short of it is that someone started a rumor that I was having an affair with a new staff member.  Untrue, obviously.  But a rumor like that spreads like wild fire and does a tremendous amount of damage.  What makes me sad is that someone I was close to, a trusted confidant, was part of it.  I felt like such a fool when all was said and done, because as I tried to manage the stress I was feeling as a result of that gossip, I would talk to her and process through things, the whole time not knowing she was part of it.  I spent months feeling humiliated and wondering what I did wrong. 

And what exactly did I do wrong?

Funny thing. 

I lost weight.  And apparently, losing weight means I was having an affair.  Yep.  That logic is clear.  Clear as mud.

It is what it is.  There's nothing I can do about it, nothing I'd want to be bothered to do anyway.  I can think of plenty of things I'd like to say, but I won't. 

So...I'll talk about my weight loss instead.  In a nutshell, it turns out that these years of battling my weight were the result of a combination of factors, most of which have been resolved.  A few very minor changes to my diet and before I knew it, I was 40 pounds lighter!  We hear so much about healthy eating, diet and exercise, but less about how certain foods can impact things like blood sugar and the pancreas.  For me, getting my pancreas to calm down was a key factor.  I had no idea that some of my favorite vegetables and other healthy foods were actually bad for me--bad for me in the sense that I have a metabolic disorder and my pancreas was misbehaving as a result.

I should be happy with that kind of weight loss, but I have to admit, it's been pretty overwhelming.  I was in a dressing room at Kohl's a few weeks ago trying on pants.  It's been exciting to piece together a new wardrobe, but I rarely check myself in a mirror.  Other than a quick glance to make sure my hair and makeup are okay, I barely give myself a second glance.  Standing in that dressing room, though, surrounded by mirrors, I saw myself--really saw myself--for the first time in a long time. 

My body felt so foreign and so strange that I started to cry.  I felt like I didn't look like me anymore.  It's not that I look bad.  It's just that I hadn't seen myself full-length in clothes that actually fit. 

I don't know how other people manage drastic weight loss.  I mean, mine wasn't that drastic and occurred over 6-ish months.  I've had friends who've had gastric bypass or other weight loss surgeries and they lose incredible amounts of weight in less time than I did.  Psychologically, I don't know how they cope.

I did learn something really important in all of this.  No matter how much weight I've lost, it doesn't change who I am at my core.  I still get anxious about little things (and big things).  I still feel insecure.  I still have the same obnoxious sense of humor.  I still struggle with self-esteem. 

I am living proof that weight loss is not a cure-all for all that ails us.  I'm still me.  Just me.  A slightly smaller version of me, but still the same.

Beautifully flawed.

Wednesday, January 09, 2013

Goals

I gave a lot of thought to the goals I wanted to set for myself in 2013 and while they're nothing huge, they're a pretty big deal for me. 

My first goal is to wear a little more color.  Not necessarily every single day, but some splashes of color here and there.  I wear a lot of toned-down colors for work, so the color may be a bright scarf or colorful piece of jewelry, but it'll be something that pops.  Something that stands out.  Something that makes me stand out.

My second goal started out a little too broad.  I decided to do something that scares me this year.  That should be pretty easy, but I also knew that leaving it so broad would make it way to easy to bail out on anything difficult, so I narrowed it down.  There are two smaller goals part of that broader one.  The first is that I'm going to make an effort to be less guarded and just be more open.  The second part of that is that I decided I'm going to share twelve things about myself that nobody knows.  That works out to one thing per month, which I should be able to manage.  Maybe I can just sit down one day and tell someone twelve things about me and get it all over and done with.  Or, more likely, it'll be New Year's Eve and I'll be asking someone if they have two minutes so I can spill twelve things about myself.  However it works out, the process will still be crazy scary.

Here's to a scary good 2013!

Tuesday, January 01, 2013

Gearing up for 2013...

Capricorn Horoscope

Provided by astrology.com
 

2013: Capricorn Overview

Capricorn

Get ready for the deepest structural changes of your life -- ever. You're becoming the master at tearing down the old and rebuilding from scratch, and yet you may be amazed to discover there is indeed another, much deeper layer to uncover. Just when you thought your world could not possibly survive yet more gutting, along comes the mutual reception between Saturn and Pluto directly impacting your sign. Pluto rules irreversible, you-are-never-going-back change, while Saturn (your planetary ruler) is all about death, rebirth and total transformation. You get the gist: nothing will ever be the same, so close your eyes, take a deep breath and let go. On the other side of the wrecking ball is a beautiful life in total alignment with your true value system making the necessary sacrifices more than worth it. You have nothing to fear, because all of the changes will pave the way to such profound improvement, you'll look back and wonder why you ever held on to such a sham of a world in the first place.

Your daily life -- work, health and overall well-being -- will get an extra boost from Jupiter during the first half of the year. This means you can kick it up a notch by taking such good care of yourself that you'll have more energy than the gods! This is also an excellent time for getting your daily regimen working like a well-oiled machine. Eating right, getting enough sleep and making time for regular exercise are all essential in 2013. The second half of the year brings the luck of Jupiter to your relationship and social zone. No longer shall you be tired or lonely. Your love life and social world will be dripping in goodness and abundance.

Don't expect much solitude in 2013. Your social world is about to blow up -- as is your love life. The eclipse points will be activating your love and social sectors, assuring that you'll have very little, if any, time or space to feel isolated. Friends and lovers will be flocking to you like a magnet. The only problem is that you may feel like you're neglecting your career responsibilities, but how can you turn down all the fun? All work and no play makes Capricorn a dull Goat! It's rare that you have so many invites hitting you simultaneously -- enjoy!

 

Tuesday, November 06, 2012

Random...

This is not political at all (though I did vote today!).

People need to realize that being great and being good are two different things.  Selfishness is not an attractive quality.  Not taking accountability for one's actions and words (or lack of one's actions and words) is not attractive. Blaming others for your own shortcomings is annoying.  Don't even get me started on being irresponsible.  Lies by omission are still lies--and in many ways, far more damaging than blatant lies.  Owning one's mistakes and misdeeds (both intentional and not) goes a long way in an apology.  Nonsense apologies are just that--nonsense.  No apology at all is way better than a half-hearted, insincere apology.  What makes a good apology?  Saying you're sorry, owning what you did wrong and sincerely accepting responsibility, making it right and finally, making sure it doesn't happen again.

Monday, November 05, 2012

Small Changes

After yet another cluster of difficult days and weeks, I finally just made up my mind to be in a good mood regardless of what's going on around me or how crabby other people are--what's that old saying?  Life's too short to spend with people who suck the joy out of you.

That is SO TRUE.

So I made a few small changes to boost my own mood, even if other people are intent on bringing me down.

  • Wearing high heels a few times a week to work...because I LOVE high heels.  Who cares if they make me way taller than all the men in my department?  I'm tall and heels make me taller.  They can deal with it.
  • Wearing bold lipstick.  Not trashy, but brighter/darker than the nudes and neutrals I wear.  Makes me feel like people pay more attention when I speak.  That's probably all in my head, but I'm surprisingly okay with that.
  • Embracing my curves and flaunting them with stylish clothes.  There's really no good reason for me to hide behind dark slacks and boxy sweaters. 
  • Making at least one person laugh every single day.  Laughter is contagious.  I highly recommend you catch some.
  • Stepping outside of my comfort zone at least once every single day.  This is hard, but I've been doing it.  And I'm genuinely surprised, in a good way, at the positive reception.  Turns out that I'm a pretty neat person when I let people see my hidden side. 
Go me!

Monday, October 01, 2012

What's the Secret?

It started with a black lace slip.

Back up for a minute.

It started with needing a neutral-colored bra. The slip came later.

So it started with bra shopping. 

I apologize for any men who are reading and now eye-rolling over the fact that I'm talking about bra shopping.  But c'mon, you'd probably rather read about it than be subjected to holding your wife's or girlfriend's purse while she tries them on, right?

Right.  So.  Bra shopping.  All I needed was a neutral/dark tan bra that would be invisible under a nice, white blouse for work.  I usually go to Kohl's for things like that, but was out of luck there, so I headed to Victoria's Secret. 

First, I need to point out that a regular bra at Victoria's Secret is cheaper than my preferred brand at Kohl's.  Interesting.

Anyhoodle, I found what I needed in a perfect size and was happy as a lark.  (Are larks happy?)  But as I was heading to the checkout line, a very feminine slip caught my eye.  Pretty, delicate, lightweight, a black lace/floral pattern.  I had no reason to make such a purchase, but I was drawn to it.

It's like it shouted, "PICK ME!"

And then it shrieked, "LOOK!  I'M IN YOUR SIZE!"

And then the coup de grace..."AND I'M ON SALE!!"

With very little forethought or intention, I picked it up and draped it over my arm.  There was something about it, without even wearing it, that made me feel like a lady.  Not a tough-as-nails director of a social service program.  Not a worn out mom.  Not a wife.  Not a sex kitten (although I'm sure there are plenty of other things in that store that could make me feel like a sex kitten).

Not anything but a lady.

When I got it home, I kicked off my jeans and t-shirt to try it on.  I know I should have tried it on in the store, but I didn't.  Impulse purchase, remember?

It fit beautifully.  And the ladylike feeling only intensified.

The thing is, nobody will see me in it.  It's a slip, something to be worn under a nice dress or perhaps under a skirt and blazer.  It's not fancy.  But that little bit of delicate lace restored a feeling of femininity that gets buried under so many other facades.

And I think...maybe...that's the secret of Victoria's Secret.  At least that's the case for me.  It's not about making me into something I feel like I'm supposed to be, but reminding me of who I am on the inside. 

A lady.