**THE BEAUTIFUL WOMAN AND WARRIOR AWARD!**
The game is as follows ... Once selected, you have to choose 10 women on Facebook you believe deserve the award, copy and paste this on their wall, you must be honest, This is a way to show your respect and admiration for women who should be told their worth! If you receive it over three times, consider yourself really a beautiful woman and warrior, if you break the game nothing will happen, but it's nice to know that someone appreciates and admires you ... and you're a beautiful person inside and out! I chose you!!~~ ♥ ~~
Yes, I get it, we're all awesome. And we damn well are! I just have to say that when I get these things, I do appreciate it, I do, but I also feel *obligated* to go and bug other friends, or make sure I don't leave anyone out, or if I ignore it then someone will notice that I'm not playing by the rules, and omg what then?
Here's the thing. I don't play by those rules. Of course I'm a warrior, seriously, what person-of-a-certain-age isn't? Chances are you've walked through some fire yourself. But chain letters, chain Facebook stuff, anything that says "I bet you won't post this but if you really care about cancer/babies/preventing Armageddon etc. then prove it by posting this on your wall for an hour/a day/forever and then you can relax because you're Doing the Right Thing." (okay so maybe that was a little overstated), they just get to me, you know?
Of course I care about cancer. And babies. But let me care in my own way, and you care in yours. Don't put me on the spot, because I'm the type who will just give you the finger and walk away. Or, really, just walk away, but in my mind I'm giving you or somebody the finger. I'm just too nice to go through the actual motions... Usually.
Anyway, thank you so much to my friends who include me in the beautiful warrior category. I think you're beautiful and strong too! I'm actually incredibly blessed with friends who are pretty damn amazing! But I'm just gonna tell you in person, or buy you a beer, or tell you a joke when you're down, or something like that. I hope you, and God, and Facebook can forgive me for all the chains I've broken over the years. So far, it hasn't ruined me completely. Probably.
Anyone remember "I am rubber and you are glue..."?
I'm supposed to let everything bounce off of me and land back on the person flinging the negativity. The problem seems to be that I am, in fact, glue.
I don't know how to stop absorbing the foul moods and weird paranoid imaginings of those around me. I only seem to be able to add power to the ugly and spit it back out, left shaking and angry, ashamed, annoyed, and (I know it's hard to believe, but) out of words.
I truly don't think this ugliness is starting with me. At least not mostly. I'm bubbly for goodness' sake! Well, usually. But the journey of my life is at a crossroads here, the vehicle paused, until I can figure out how to shake this stuff off, be myself, be rubber and not glue. I want to radiate the positive, not vile nasty angry words and thoughts!
So, I suppose people will say I better start back with meditation, warm baths, good books, soft puppies, and that magic something I have yet to find. I want to be myself, and I believe I'm not this green... How do those wonderful, warm, glowing people do it? How can I?
Sometimes, when you're just walking through your life, you come across unexpected things. Sometimes there’s an obstacle in your way.
Sometimes it's a huge pool, or maybe even an ocean. You can’t avoid it, and you can’t go around, it’s just too big. Sorrows, sadness. That’s the water, vast, scary and yet still welcoming. But please be careful.
So here, a list of cautions:
- Drowning in your sorrows is a dangerous way to spend your time.
- Drowning your sorrows with other liquids works for a little while, but it’s just a short term solution with a longer-term headache attached.
- Wallowing isn't that bad, as long as the water’s shallow enough and you don’t get too comfortable. You’re not meant to stay forever.
- Pretending that you’re walking on water (or actually managing it) is best left to the professionals.
- Pretending there’s no water at all is drowning of another sort, and can lead to padded rooms or chemical interventions of an unwelcome kind.
The pool of sorrows is real, it’s there, and we all have to get in the water sometimes, so it’s best to make the best of it. Best learn to swim.
Your first step is to get to know this stuff. You have to let yourself float in it, make sure you’re buoyant; test it out. If you feel yourself sinking fast, you’re not ready yet. Put your foot in, go slowly. Get used to the sensation without judgment. This isn't a test. It’s just life.
Get to know the flow of it. Open your mouth and taste it, just a little bit. Let it flow over you and under you. Believe that you can exist with it, neither of you consuming the other. Learn to feel yourself where you are, to feel at peace here.
Now try to move within it. Pick your own direction and go. No, not fighting the water, that’s how you drown, of course. You have to float, glide, partway under, partway above, working with it to keep moving along. Push, relax, and push again. Find your own rhythm. It will come to you when you stop fighting.
Someday, or every day for a little while, you’ll get out of the pool, dry yourself off, and feel better. In the long run, I promise this exercise is good for you. Steady exposure to the water lessens the shock of immersion. Instead of panic, you can tell yourself: Oh, this. I remember this stuff, I better start swimming. I’ll be okay.
And if you fall in too suddenly, if you didn't see it coming, forgive yourself, forgive the water, and just breathe. Feel the air in your lungs and on your body, mingling with the water. There is always air here. Breathe it in, and remember that you will never be a perfect swimmer. Accept your own strokes, accept your own way of doing things. Give yourself all the time you need. Just keep breathing, and swimming, and head to shore when you’re ready for dry land.
It's hard being spoiled. I suppose if I was in the "real" 1% I'd be used to it by now and not feeling guilty over having potentially large reactions to tiny problems. Usually I manage to keep quiet, you know, because I have perspective, and I know how awesomely lucky and spoiled I truly am.
But then sometimes... I mean, for instance, I couldn't get the printer to work this morning, and I really wanted to print out this one cartoon for my door at work, where, you know, I have my own office.
With a DOOR.
And then I have to get a cavity filled at 3:30, all covered by my excellent health insurance of course, and that means I can't go to the gym at work unless I schlep all the way back there, the whole 10 miles, in my new economy car, the one my husband filled with gas for me yesterday.
And I have all these yucky things to deal with today, because I've been out sick the last two days, paid leave of course. I have to call the doctor to arrange for this procedure to make sure I'm healthy enough to get this other procedure. It's "routine" preventative health stuff, all covered by insurance, but gosh, I have to use a phone and speak to people. Then I have to order the medicine I need to thin my blood so I don't have another stroke. The medicine that can cost some people over $400/month, and costs me $20.
Speaking of insurance, I have to deal with all these people on Facebook complaining about the ACA, and the huge First World problems our government seems to be having making web sites and governments run. We are all suffering! And then when I log onto Facebook, I have to endure the whining from people who used to have to sit alone with their personality disorders but can now share freely with their 500 "friends" while we sit and think, ah well, best be nice, because when my turn comes, well, I'll need some comfort too. It's not always easy having 500 friends.
Well, even if these are problems, I guess I really have very few. Even the stuff that's really real, the painful stuff, it's not like some giant storm came and killed off my city, my loved ones, my house, my water supply... Well, you know. I think maybe I can afford to click this link
and send a little more of my hard-but-not-that-hard-earned money to people with real problems, and maybe once I've made all those phone calls, I'll go post to this group I'm in on Facebook that's all about gratitude. Because damn do I have a lot to be grateful for.
I know you're expecting that whole blog about why-success-doesn't-equal-money thing.
I feel pretty solidly sure that most people can figure out how they define success by now, especially anyone who went through any kind of job interview in the '90s. It's rote.
This next phase of growing up for me isn't about defining success, but about handling it, I think...
For me, I figure success starts with the act of trying. I'm terrible at that. Somehow my head just fills up with my heartbeat, and nerves tell me to sit back down and shut up. Thankfully (for me anyway), I'm terrible at shutting up, too.
When I do try stuff, things work out pretty well though. I mean, I think my disaster to not-that-bad ratio is above average. So why don't I try more, why not dare more greatly?
First, I'm trying... I mean, I'm working on trying. Really, it's a process, you know, a journey.
Second, it's not that I'm afraid of failure. Seriously. Failure happens, it's necessary. It's how we learn stuff. And I've learned a LOT. So no, I'm not afraid to fall on my face. What I'm terrified of is success. I watch how easily friends of mine can handle temporary star status - things as simple as a birthday celebration with (yech) tiaras and stuff. I'm in awe of their ability to stand up, stand out, raise their arms up and say TA DA! They shine like they're meant to shine, in the full knowledge that they deserve to shine. Glorious.
But I'm not that girl
. (Yes, bonus points if you can name the show or sing a few bars.) With me, as soon as praise happens, I'm trying to figure out a way to crawl under the table. The crowd claps, and I run off stage, perhaps never to return. It's a crazy flirtation with the glory of recognition and the near certainty that the mountain is about to collapse and crush me under its weight. It's the sense that I'll lose myself, my humility, my humanity if for just a few seconds I allow myself to feel truly special. Look, I'm smart. I know I'm special (and you and you and you). But that's just book learnin'.
So along with trying, success for me is going to have to mean, scary as it is to face, that I will feel that moment of greatness when it comes, revel in it, smile, leap up and yell TA DA! Except, I'm not gonna yell TA DA. That's just over the top...
This is utterly not at all like our bedroom!
It all started because of the socks. For the last couple of years we've had this whole laundry basket just full of socks. The kids just walk into our room and fight through the pile to find what they need, and the pile never gets any smaller. It's just one of the many mystifying things about socks, you know?
So I'd recently bought one kid a huge bag of black socks, and he was tearing through the basket looking for his socks, which weren't there, and he was grabbing anything black while griping about our "system" which is obviously not a system at all, and is honestly a pretty big fail. He was upset with me because he thought the socks were mostly mine, but I said all the colored socks were his sister's, and he suggested I just throw those all out. I think he was kidding... But well, she hasn't lived with us for 8 months, and has likely grown out of those socks anyway, and I knew he had a point. Then I thought, why, I'll just fix this whole mess today. I'll pair up all the pairs, discard all the non-pairs, and maybe even have a separate holder for black vs white socks. They could live above the washer/dryer and not on our bedroom floor. I was inspired!
Then I realized that the socks were only one of three major problem areas in our room, which is far too large for people like us. We aren't the type to build a lovely lounge area in all that space. We are hoarders of the worst kind because we don't actually want the stuff that gathers all around us in boxes and laundry baskets. We just can't seem to get it out of the house or stop it from coming in!
So then I thought, why, I'll also sort all the books we have stored in these giant boxes today, and decide what goes and what stays, and life will be pretty and organized, and the shelves won't overflow because I'll fix that too. And I looked at the two large boxes of books on the floor and realized that we needed a serious donation area set up so we could handle this all efficiently.
I got to thinking how great life was about to be for us! We'd have all this space, and maybe I'd rearrange and make us an actual loungy area. Ah, but the next big project is supposed to be finishing the kegerator that's waiting patiently in the garage for a proper tapping system. See, we've been making beer and kegging it, but the system is what John calls "college" at this point, and I have a plan to add real taps and stuff, and then we can entertain and share our quite fabulous beer. But the garage... Well, the garage was disgusting. It was the kind of project that's hard to start because you can't even imagine it as a finished thing. There was furniture for the dump and charity, and cobwebs and leaves, and spiders, and so much junk, even though we made sure we had room for one car, since we have four cars actively using our driveway now.
It was a big job, the one that I've put off doing for well over a year, and the one that John's been waiting for someone to help with. So I went and sat at the computer for a minute or twenty to think on it, and this same sock-hunting kid came into my office and reminded me that I'd sat idle the entire day Saturday, and I should get up and make him delicious pancakes. Of course I said no, because seriously? But I did manage to get up, and an hour later I was dressed for mess and tackling the garage single-handedly. I filled the front lawn and driveway with things. So many things. Things like a dog crate for a 100+ pound dog, which I think weighed close to that itself. And a dog crate for a 70 pound dog. And half of a coffee table. And a frighteningly large amount of rope that I don't think we've ever used for anything. That last one makes me nervous now that I see it in writing...
In between piling things everywhere that wasn't the garage, I upset the mama spiders by mercilessly sweeping all the corners, up and down, and even sideways. Over near the hot water heater I found a dead bird, which was upsetting on so many levels. I'm pretty sure it didn't have its head, which just made for more questions I didn't want to ask or answer. For hours and hours I cleaned, heaved, slung, and nearly wept. Then John got home from work, and I could see the panic in his eyes. I'd taken on a huge job, and he had no clue what I wanted or expected him to do about it.
After a little bit of yelling (yeah, that was me, I was a little, um, into this job), the guys fixed a few heavy trouble spots for me, and I got back to work alone. Okay, alone except for when I started screaming like a maniac every time I saw a large bug (okay, I know, I know, but they were water roaches, and they were THIS BIG, seriously, and they were malicious!) and being rescued unceremoniously by the other kid, who finally went to get shoes since there were a good number of bugs to catch. He ended up helping on and off as I spent a few more hours cleaning and putting things back together. In the end, it was pretty awesome really.
There is now a space for the kegerator, some stereo stuff in a nice entertainment center thing, and a dart bard. There is a cozy spot on the old carpet for the weight bench to actually be used for weights instead of paint cans, lawn stuff all in one area, tools in another, a neat pile of stuff to donate, and a pile for the dump. The dead bird is waiting for burial outside. It was the least we could do really. The garbage is overflowing, and things still need cleaning, but this was an amazing transformation for a single day's work.
Finally I stumbled upstairs to shower, and when I got up there I looked around at the untouched basket of socks, the untouched boxes of books covered in t-shirts that don't even belong to us, and all the other assorted stuff that was taking away from my lovely future-dream lounge area. I may have said a curse word. Then I took more Aleve than I'm supposed to, showered in hot hot water, realized that moving any part of me in any direction hurt like mad, went downstairs for beer and football and passed out early. Today I can't move without hurting, and I'll have to tell the PT guy I'm seeing for my recently diagnosed rotator cuff tendinitis problem that really, it's all so much worse now because of the socks. I'm sure he'll understand.
A few times now, I've been instructed to think about what this me, old me, would say to young me, teen me, to encourage or show love, acknowledgement, etc. Picture it, they say. What would you say?
It's a hard thing to do on two levels. For one thing, I mean, it's just weird, and you get all self-conscious just thinking about you meeting you, and all the while you're thinking about it, you know that someone else is watching while you try to process this, and you picture your high school photos and try to see what you might have looked like because you really can't remember clearly, and well, it is weird, right?
But that's the cop-out reason. The real thing is, it's hard because I can't just fix things with one hug, or a few well-placed words, and I can't warn her (me - see, weird) about the horrible things coming, and I can't change anything for her (me) and I can't even pretend that the gap between who I was then and who I am now is traversable. The real thing is, it hurts too much. I was a girl who had no idea how smart I was, how capable, how pretty, how worthwhile in any way. I was outgoing, sure, and I had friends. I loved life, really, in some ways. I was capable of giving great support, but not very capable of receiving it. I didn't get practice growing up. I don't even really know what it looks like. I tried to do it better with my kids and even myself, but I guess some things will take generations to fix.
So how can I look across the void at that girl who just wants to be accepted and acknowledged and give her that? How can I give her the hug she needs? How can I warn her that her neediness is a weakness, how she will be used and hurt and lost? How can I tell her not to walk into that house, into those relationships, into so many goddamned spider webs spun by people just looking for targets like her? And how can I tell her to keep singing, because she has a gift and a joy that she will too easily let die, a gift that will tarnish and never shine the same way again? How can I tell her she is enough, more than enough, just the way she is? I mean, I can see it now about her (me?) but I can't see it or even say it to myself here, today.
Self-worth isn't easy for so many of us. Where we should see beauty and grace, we see nothing at all, or worse. It's easy to blame our parents, and yes, they played a part. I'm a parent now, and I take this blame too. Sometimes doing the best you can isn't really good enough. So while I want to tell teen me she's amazing, and she really is, I also want her to tell me it's okay that I've made mistakes, because I've never stopped trying, and I never meant harm. I guess in order for her to forgive me, I have to learn to forgive my own parents. They did better than theirs did, I know that's true. It all just keeps coming down the line. And I guess I need to learn to forgive myself, which I've worked on but never really mastered.
But I do think teen me would forgive this me, and I think she'd do better with the whole weird thing too. She was pretty open-minded. I think she'd tell me that kindness is worth some pain (she was naive about how much though). I think she'd tell me it's not too late to start singing again. And I think she'd give me that hug right back.
9/11/01 Manhattan from space.
I think a lot of us, most of us even, can get to feeling all alone in the world, misunderstood, lost, disconnected. The new DSM-5
is chock-full of conditions that echo themes of dissociation.
I don't just mean loneliness, although that may have its own label by now too. It's that sense that you exist in a void, un-touching and untouched. And some of it is real, I mean, nobody can read your mind, and you do exist within yourself as someone nobody else can truly know fully. Yes, you sigh in relief. Who wants to be that exposed? I know.
In the journey to be daring and put "myself" out there more, there's still a line that won't be crossed.
Life is funny. So many of us bounce from existence to existence, school, work, socially, making friends, making connections however small they may seem. But we bounce on, and often forget that we've touched lives, and they've touched us. We can rewrite the story pretty easily, and a hero becomes a goat or vice versa. We all paint the world in our own colors, and sometimes those colors bleed all over the past. A relationship gone bad can turn into a relationship you never remember as being anything but bad. No wonder we feel so Other so often.
Today, the anniversary of a horrible attack on our psyche and our people, it strikes me that we're all lost and alone together. We are more and more ruled by fear and advertising, put in our place and stuck trying to buy our way out, into something we know we're missing. I think what we're missing is one another. I guess in that way we're all victims. And I think it's worth the effort to reach out, take a chance, trust someone carefully, and trust and forgive ourselves.
I've been a geek for a long time. I played D&D in high school, read countless books and comics, liked computers before they were mainstream, you get the idea. I've met with lots of weird looks along the way, what, a GIRL? This happens to lots of us. And right now, the war around gender and geek fandom is being waged. Women are taking a stand
and I love it! The real men are standing with them and behind them, and I love that too. I’m still shocked that a simple thing like girls liking video games can be considered weird in this day and age. But I was raised to ignore that crap. A lot of parents have put a lot energy into teaching their daughters that they can like what they want to like, be who they want to be, and don’t have to accept limits. Now a lot of us are grown up, and we’re being who we are, and it’s freaking some people out. And some people just plain haven't noticed us at all yet.
My friend Kate runs a family-friendly fantasy football league. We have men, women, and children competing pretty darn equally, and smack talk is rampant. Last year I won the season (cash!), and an 11 year old came in second (he got cash too!). I can’t tell you why I like football. I mean, it doesn't go with most of my loves in life. It’s not peaceful or deep, but I like it. I watch the games, follow the plays, yell at the refs on TV, keep up on the changing rules at least a little, pay attention to the players, injuries, coaches, etc. An awful lot of my female friends are the same way. An awful lot.
So why is it when I went to look up player stats for this year’s fantasy draft, every single site assaulted me with visions of barely legal boob jobs vaguely attached to women who were leaning in and utterly inviting me and everyone else to play a different kind of fantasy game? Why were there NO pictures of women fans or fantasy players anywhere? Why are we invisible??
Look, I know there’s some kind of crazy stuff going on, and there’s people using rape threats to silence women who have found their voices. I get that football may be considered one of the last “holy” grounds for the man’s man. I get that there are men who think women are nothing but playthings. But are they the majority of football fans? Hint: the answer is no. I've pretended for years that this crap doesn't bother me, because I want to be “cool” around my male friends I guess. But I’m about sick and tired of being put in “my place” by all this BS. How the hell can we raise our kids to be anything they want to be when the message is clearly not true in “certain” areas like geeks and sports, and related fandoms? And why do I have to pretend to not be offended by the objectification of women in geek stuff and sports in order to be “cool” enough to participate? Time out... I’m ready for some rule changes of my own.
As a child I stood in front of the mirror and I wanted it to swallow me up, like Alice. And sometimes I’d dream that my real family had been kidnapped and replaced by a secret government agency that was trying to just string me along for some reason. It all made so much sense in the middle of the night.
Mostly though, I lived in my own world, or really the children’s world of the 1970s – that era you see described in memes as no helmets, no seat belts, no Internet, drinking from the hose and look how fine we turned out. It’s funny though, that we like to say this stuff to today’s kids as if we ourselves had nothing to do with the crazy world they live in now.
In my world back then, parents were just… I dunno. I mean, they fed us and that was about it. Mom read me bedtime stories. They didn't completely sound like the adults on Charlie Brown specials, but it really wasn't that far off. They sort of just… didn't matter much. We found our own adventures, made our own rules, ripped holes in the knees of our jeans from climbing trees and riding bikes, and I don’t remember once thinking these were things I needed to explain to my parents, or to blame them for.
I would love that freedom now. But kids these days know that world hasn't existed for a long time. Maybe they don't even believe our silly stories. Who really knows what all happened… TV news brought fear, fear brought locks and more TV, and somehow social media is how everything is done now. Kids don’t rip so many pairs of jeans. They ride bikes under our watchful eyes, and we tend to tell them not to do most anything we would have back in the day. I hear way too many parents fuss at their kids for even a spot of dirt. Gasp. Anyway, I can’t undo this, can’t manage to find the magical mix of nurturing and lackadaisy that brought me up at least knowing I could own my own problems. True, I owned too many, but I’m beginning to see that as a gift too, now that I can let go more.
My parents didn't make my mistakes for me, and I don’t remember ever thinking they were responsible. As a parent in this new world, it seems like that’s all we've done sometimes. I spent countless hours trying to make sure my kids were “enriched” with experiences. And when anything went wrong, and oh did things go wrong, I took all the blame laid out for me by myself, other parents, and the kids themselves. But seriously, I think at some point we each have to own our own mess, tend our own wounds, and get on with the business of being ourselves. I don’t think I did a good job preparing my kids for that, in spite of tremendously good intentions. I do have full faith that they will figure it out sooner or later, and know what to do to be their best true selves. I think that I’m now in a first do no harm kind of place, and that will have to do until the mirror swallows me, or them, and we figure out this was all just a dream.